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West Coast to East Coast Self-drive Tour

  • Movie Screening at the Apollo Theatre in Victoria West
  • Guided tour of Orania with step-on guide
  • Sundowners on Bethulie Bridge
  • A Ghost Walk in Bethulie
  • Stay at the Royal Hotel in Bethulie - South Africa's 'Book Hotel'
  • Guided tour of the Anglo-Boer War sites with step-on storyteller
  • Visit to Big Pineapple in Bathurst
  • A morning game drive in the Addo National Park
  • Theatre Performance at the Karroo Theatrical Hotel

Overview

Join Live the Journey on a 11-day guided self-drive small group tour from 27 September to 07 October 2021 as we travel from Lambert's Bay on South Africa's West Coast to Morgan's Bay on the East Coast. 

The Karoo has always had a special charm of its own. On this 11-day tour we want to unlock the uniqueness of the environment and its special characters. Travellers will have the opportunity to experience the freedom that vast, open landscapes offer; to take in the allure of beautiful mountain ranges; experience the excitement and tingle in your veins when driving on dirt roads and mountain passes, and lastly, enjoy the company of fellow travellers.

The Atlantic Ocean, on the west, is cooled by the icy Benguela Current, which comes from the Antarctic, while the Indian Ocean, on the east coast, is warmed by the Mozambique or Agulhas Current which flows down from the Tropics. These two oceans, the prevailing wind and the topography of South Africa combine to create a semi-desert eco-system in the west coast, gradually changing to grasslands, subtropical forests and wetlands on the east coast.

We will experience this biological diversity first hand as we drive through four of the provinces on our journey from west to east over the next few days. 

This tour is also available as a seat-in-vehicle tour for guests who do not wish to self-drive. Please contact us for more information.

Itinerary

DAY 1: ARRIVE LAMBERT’S BAY

Travel in your own time to Lambert’s Bay, situated along South Africa’s rugged west coast. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel and spend the afternoon at leisure. (Check-in from 14h00.)

Dip your toes in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean as you will have the opportunity to also do this in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean later during the tour. Or perhaps test the theory that the waters of these two oceans never mix. Why not fill a container with sea water from Lamberts Bay and then pour it into the sea at Morgan Bay to see for yourself?

18h30 – Meet your tour leader at Bosduifklip Restaurant or similar for a welcome dinner and briefing.

Overnight at the Lambert’s Bay Hotel or similar including dinner

DAY 2: LAMBERT’S BAY – VICTORIA WEST (550 KM)

Your adventure starts as you head away from the coast this morning, passing through the edge of the Hantam Karoo. As you leave the foothills of the Roggeland Mountains in your rear-view mirror, you head into the vast, blue skies and austere landscapes of the Western Upper Karoo.

Bound by the great southern escarpment to the south, the entire region is above 1000 meters in elevation. While the high escarpment is mostly flat, you will notice the distinctive flat-topped hills, so characteristic of the region, as you drive the vast distances between towns and villages.

It is said that the secret to discovering the magic of this place is to take the time to travel the back roads. This is exactly what we would suggest, stopping from time to time to drink in the silence, solitude and immensity of the Great Karoo.

Our destination today is Melton Wold Guest Farm situated about 40 km from Victoria West. Established in 1935, it is the oldest guest farm in the country, with the main part of the farmhouse dating back to 1889.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner and Karoo hospitality at the guest farm tonight.

Overnight at Melton Wold Guest Farm or similar including breakfast and dinner

DAY 3: VICTORIA WEST – ORANIA (280 KM)

Awaken to the sounds of a working sheep and game farm. Enjoy breakfast at your leisure.

09h00 – We continue our journey to Victoria West. Sandwiched between two parallel hills, the town was established in 1843 when it was selected as a new parish for the Dutch Reformed Church. This is true of the origin

of many of the towns and villages in this part of the Karoo and explains the many beautiful examples of Victorian and Edwardian era churches proudly towering these communities.

Upon arrival in Victoria West, we head to the Apollo Theatre, the only surviving Art Deco Theatre in South Africa. The theatre started out as a café managed by Andrew Bassil, a Greek immigrant who arrived in Victoria West in the 1920’s. He later added a bioscope and in the 1950’s the building was renovated according to the popular art deco style of the time – the Apollo Theatre Complex was established.

10h00 – Enjoy a guided tour of the theatre, before traveling back in time for the screening of an old movie, complete with popcorn and a glass-bottle soda.

Enjoy lunch at leisure (lunch not included) before heading further north into the sprawling Eastern Upper Karoo. As you journey towards Orania, our destination for the day, the harsh arid landscapes start to soften ever so slightly with the addition of sun-bleached grasslands to the rugged Karoo bushes and distant “koppies”.

19h30 – After check-in, we freshen up and enjoy dinner.

Overnight at the Orania Oewer Hotel & Spa or similar including breakfast and dinner

DAY 4: ORANIA – PHILIPPOLIS – BETHULIE (210 KM)

Enjoy an early breakfast this morning and check-out.

08h00 – We start our day with a guided tour of Orania including the Cultural History Museum, the Koeksister Monument and Monument Hill. The modern town of Orania, located on the banks of the Orange River, had its origins as a temporary settlement named Vluytjeskraal, established by the Department of Water Affairs in 1963, in order to accommodate the workers who were building the irrigation canals linked to the construction of the Vanderkloof Dam upstream of the town. Today the town is home to a community of exclusively Afrikaans families eager to preserve the Afrikaans culture and language. Besides its own flag, radio station and local currency, the town boasts sophisticated farming and irrigation systems and fully organic vineyards.

We depart Orania, travelling via the impressive Vanderkloof Dam (South Africa’s second-largest dam), making our way south to Philippolis. This tiny town, located virtually in the middle of South Africa, is steeped in rich history and was the birthplace of renowned author Sir Laurens Jan van der Post. Emily Hobhouse, the Anglo Boer War welfare campaigner, started a weaving school for destitute Boer girls here and it was also home to Adam Kok, one of the best-known Griqua leaders.

12h30 – Enjoy lunch in Philippolis, hosted by a local storyteller.

This afternoon we continue our journey to Bethulie, a delightful farming town located in the southern reaches of the Free State.

19h00 – This evening we enjoy traditional Free State fare in the company of our host, Anthony Hocking, proprietor of the Royal Hotel, South Africa’s only “book hotel”. The Royal Hotel Bethulie is famous for its books and vinyl records, shelved floor to ceiling throughout the public areas. In total the collections include 120,000 books and 80,000 records in a multitude of genres. Anthony has been collecting books since he was five years old and has himself written 38, mostly on history and travel.

After dinner, Anthony will lead a “ghost walk” through town, for those interested.

Overnight at the Royal Hotel or similar including breakfast and dinner

DAY 5: BETHULIE – SPRINGFONTEIN – BETHULIE (160 KM)

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning.

09h00 – Today we will take in the poignant history of Springfontein and Bethulie, focusing on the Boer-Basuto War of 1865 and the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. Together with Anthony, we embark on a journey through the heart-wrenching history of this beautiful area including a visit to the Louw Wepener monument, a hero of the Boer-Basuto war.

We return to our hotel for a light lunch followed by some time at leisure.

Late afternoon we continue our journey through history at the site of the infamous Bethulie Concentration Camp before continuing to the nearby Hennie Steyn Bridge. At 1.2 kilometres, it is the longest road-rail bridge in South Africa, connecting the Free State with the Eastern Cape. It is also the perfect spot for sundowners, admiring the golden waters of the Orange River as it flows towards the massive Gariep Dam.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Overnight at the Royal Hotel or similar including breakfast, lunch and dinner

DAY 6: BETHULIE – LADY GREY – ELLIOT (APPROX. 290 KM)

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and check-out.

09h00 – We continue our journey today leaving the vast open spaces of the Karoo and Free State behind us as we cross into the mountainous grandeur of the Eastern Cape highlands at Aliwal North. We pass through Lady Grey, a delightful Victorian style village, surrounded by the beautiful, often snow-capped, Witteberg Mountain Range close to the Lesotho border.

Joubert's Pass, a steep, high altitude gravel road pass is situated just outside Lady Grey and this is where we are heading. Originally built by hand by the Joubert family and other farmers, the scenic route over the pass treats the traveller to an ever-changing view of river gorges and majestic mountains. A variety of birds, game, alpine plants, rock and stone formations can be seen here. The pass is suitable for all vehicles in fair weather, but if there is heavy rain or snow on the pass, a 4x4 will be mandatory.

Next, we travel along the Otto Du Plessis Pass. It’s located on the road between Ida and Clifford. This gravel pass encompasses kilometres of stunning views through winding hair pin corners, high elevations and sharp grades. It offers wonderful views over the never-ending landscapes of the Tsomo Valley and the Drakensberg escarpment. The pass is named after the politician Otto du Plessis. Near the summit there is a 2-meter-high, stone obelisk memorial to Dr Otto du Plessis dating the pass back to 1959.

Our journey continues onwards to our hotel set at the top of Barkly Pass, where we will spend the next two nights.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Overnight at the Mountain Shadows Hotel or similar including breakfast, packed lunch and dinner

DAY 7: ELLIOT – RHODES – MACLEAR – UGIE – ELLIOT (APPROX. 300 KM)

Breakfast and at leisure, then discover the roads less travelled.

On a circular drive from Elliot to Rhodes, Maclear and Ugie you will encounter the following passes.

The first pass you will encounter heading towards Rhodes is Mfetcani Pass taking you off the R58 main route and into the more isolated part of the southern Drakensberg. From here you won't see tar again for some time.

In the 1890’s the daring Naude brothers carved out a road zig-zagging its way over the Southern Drakensberg following the instinctive path of their horses - Naude’s Nek Pass was born! 32,7 kilometres in length, this is a mega-pass that is undoubtably found on many an adventurer’s self-drive bucket list. With a summit of over 2,920 m above sea level many sources quote this as being the highest gravel pass in South Africa, but it is actually the fourth highest altitude, publicly accessible pass in South Africa. It is superseded by the Ben MacDhui Pass, the Tenahead-Tiffindell Traverse and the Sani Pass.

The Elandshoogte Pass, a 10.7 km long pass on the R396, which connects Rhodes with Maclear. The pass contains 61 bends, corners and curves and of those 16 are greater than 90 degrees and one is a full hairpin of 180 degrees. The pass traverses the majestic forested intermediate area between the high mountains of the Drakensberg range and the lower escarpment.

Before reaching Maclear you will encounter the Pot River Pass, traversing the western side of the river and crossing it a time or two. Most of the pass consists of a fairly straightforward descent along the main spur of the mountain, with a set of sharp double hairpins to look forward to.

From Maclear head to Ugie, a pretty little town situated beneath the towering sandstone cliffs of the Drakensberg Mountain range on the banks of the Inxu River. It derives its name from the Ugie River in Scotland. The district is a centre for sheep and cattle farming and boasts a rather thrilling rock formation known as Gatberg - a large hole in the mountain south west of Maclear.

End the day ascending Barkly Pass. While it is a tarred pass it is not to be underestimated. At an altitude of 2018 metre at the summit, the pass displays an altitude variance of 572 m. Offering spectacular scenery the imposing sandstone buttresses and rock formations are magnificent. See if you can spot the tortoise at the summit of the pass. Our hotel is situated at the top of the pass.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Overnight at the Mountain Shadows Hotel or similar including breakfast, packed lunch and dinner

DAY 8: ELLIOT – MORGAN'S BAY (270 KM)

Enjoy breakfast this morning and check-out.

Today you travel away from the Eastern Cape highlands through the Transkei section of the Wild Coast through the Xhosa heartland, a stunning landscape of rolling green hills dotted with thatched rondawels, offering interesting glimpses into a culture far removed from the stresses of modern life.

Known affectionately as 'Madiba', it is here that Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born and raised. To give a true overview of Nelson Mandela in all phases of his life, from his youth in Qunu to his role as statesman, the Nelson Mandela Museum was built in his honour comprising three separate components: the Bhunga Building in Mthatha, the village of Qunu about 25 km outside Umtata and an open-air museum at Mvezo, where Madiba was born.
A visit to these three historical sites in the area is highly recommended, time-permitting.

Continue travelling to the coast and the secluded, pristine seaside resort of Morgan Bay, our destination for tonight.

Sheer rock cliffs, topped with grass and beautiful wildflowers, plunge down to the warm Indian Ocean here. A well-kept secret, Morgan Bay lies on the banks of the Inchara River, so called from the crabs found there. The river forms a safe lagoon which is the centrepiece for an exceptionally romantic and charming stretch of coastline. Our hotel is nestled at the heart of this between a mile of unspoilt beach and breath-taking cliffs.

Spend the late afternoon at leisure. Time to dip your toes in the Indian Ocean.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight.

Overnight at the Morgan Bay Hotel or similar including breakfast and dinner

DAY 9: MORGAN BAY – ZUURBERG, GREATER ADDO (370 KM)

Enjoy breakfast and check-out.

This morning you travel south along the Wild Coast towards Port Alfred, before turning inland to Bathurst.

Possibly one of South Africa’s most eccentric villages, Bathurst is, amongst other things, home to the world's largest pineapple.

There's no missing the town's 17-meter-tall pineapple, representing the region's pineapple industry. The settlers who arrived in the 1820s struggled to grow crops until the first pineapple was planted in 1865. Inside the three-story fiberglass pineapple there's a museum devoted to the fruit and a walk to the top will reward you with great views of the surrounding pineapple fields and countryside.

From Bathurst you continue your journey deep into Frontier Country. Your destination today is Zuurberg, situated in the north-western corner of the Sundays River Valley. Zuurberg lies at the foot of the mountain of the same name. The historic Zuurberg Pass, almost entirely surrounded by the Greater Addo Elephant National Park, is a narrow cutting through the Zuurberg Mountains, built in the 1850s and the original main route into the hinterland via which today you can also reach the Karoo. Zuurberg Mountain Village is a 150-year-old haven of historical delight situated high up on the Zuurberg Pass, set in 160 hectares of indigenous vegetation with breath-taking views of the famous Addo Elephant National Park.

Upon arrival, check in and freshen up. Why not enjoy a sundowner at the atmospheric Woodifields Bar, named after the engineer of the Zuurberg Pass, before enjoying dinner overlooking the valley?

Overnight at the Zuurberg Mountain Village or similar including breakfast and dinner

DAY 10: ZUURBERG, GREATER ADDO – STEYTLERVILLE (160 KM)

06h30 – Departure from the front verandah of the hotel for your guided morning game drive into the Addo Elephant National Park. Tea and coffee will be served prior to departure. Being adjacent to the Addo Park, the drive and narration starts from the hotel. We enter the main gate of the Park and the rest of the morning will be spent in the Park. The first few hours are good to see antelope, zebra and some of the cats. Mid-morning a continental breakfast will be served in a picnic area within the park. By then there are usually excellent sightings of elephants and buffalo nearer the waterholes. You arrive back at the hotel by midday.

Depart from Zuurberg Mountain Village and start to make your way towards Steytlerville, the last stop on our journey.

Steytlerville lies on the southern fringes of the Great Karoo between the rugged Baviaanskloof Mountains to the south and the Grootrivierberge, to the north. Steytlerville and the surrounding Baviaans District encompasses three converging biomes including valley bushveld, fynbos and Karoo. The area boasts an astonishing variety of semi-desert vegetation including succulents and the surrounding mountains host some of the best preserved highly endangered cycad habitat left in South Africa. Besides its extraordinary surrounds the town is also home to the biggest Edwardian era church in Southern Africa and its other claim to fame is ties to rugby-legend, Danie Craven, and the renowned poet and medical doctor A.G. Visser, who practiced here between 1909 and 1916.

Before you enter the town, make a quick detour along Noorspoort Pass, a short, winding road also known as The Valley of the Flags. The poort is perhaps best known for its painted flags on the rock faces on the eastern side of
the road. The Noorspoort is 3,1 km long and has a minor altitude variance of just 24m, making for an easy drive, but don't get too transfixed by all the flags. The poort was carved out by the Groot River - a very long river which winds its way all the way down through the Baviaanskloof to form a confluence with the Gamtoos River near Patensie.

It is evident that Steytlerville is an excellent example of how to revitalize an old town, broad streets are filled with neat Victorian houses, carefully restored complete with decorative broekie-lace and shady verandas. Down the centre island of the main road the lamp posts are decorated with heraldic emblems and family crests from all sectors of the local community.

18h00 – This evening we end our journey in style at the Karroo Theatrical Hotel, set at the edge of town. We enjoy a scrumptious three-course dinner followed by a delightful performance by The Steytlerville Follies, presented by talented maestro and pianist Freddie Ferrari, and starring the legendary Karoovian diva, Dame Leyla Lamborgini, all in the hotel’s intimate Grimaldi's Theatre Hall.

Overnight at the Karroo Theatrical Hotel or similar including breakfast and dinner

DAY 11: DEPARTURE

Sadly, today marks the end of our incredible journey. After a leisurely breakfast and hotel check-out, we say goodbye and return home.

Including breakfast

END OF SERVICES

Dates

2021 TOUR DATES:

27 September 2021 - 07 October 2021

Rates

LAND PACKAGE - COST:

27 SEPTEMBER - 07 OCTOBER 2021

Per Person Sharing in own vehicle: ZAR 18,970.00
Per Person Sharing as passenger in a guide vehicle: ZAR 21,970.00
Single Room Supplement: ZAR 2,860.00

Included

  • Experienced tour leader with own vehicle, accompanying the group
  • 10 Nights’ accommodation in country guest houses, hotels and lodges as specified
  • 10 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches and 10 Dinners
  • Movie Screening at the Apollo Theatre in Victoria West
  • Guided tour of Orania with step-on guide
  • A Ghost Walk in Bethulie
  • Guided tour of the Anglo-Boar War sites with step-on storyteller
  • Sundowners on Bethulie Bridge
  • Morning guided game drive at Zuurberg Mountain Village or similar
  • Theatre Performance at the Karroo Theatrical Hotel
  • The use of two-way radios for self-drive vehicles for the duration of the tour

Excluded

  • Transport (a 4x4, or vehicle with high clearance, is highly recommended) for self-drive guests
  • Fuel for self-drive guests
  • Lunch, unless otherwise specified, snacks and all drinks
  • Travel insurance and vehicle insurance
  • Any items of a personal nature such as telephone bill, curios and laundry


NOTES:

  • This tour requires a minimum of 14 guests to offer it at the quoted price.
  • For self-drive guests this tour starts in Lambert’s Bay and ends in Steytlerville. Guests make their own way to / from these points.
  • For guests sharing as a passenger in the guide vehicle, the tour starts and ends in Cape Town.
  • Prices for conservation levies, park and entrance fees may be changed without prior notice. This is beyond our control and any increase levied will be for the traveller’s account.
  • Should lockdown regulations change during the proposed tour date, the tour will be postponed to an alternative date.