Upcoming Tours
Call Us: +27 21 863 6400

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 Big Five game drive
  • Theatre Performance at the Karroo Theatrical Hotel

Overview

Join Live the Journey on a 12-day guided self-drive small group tour from 27 September to 08 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 12-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.

13h30 – 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.

08h00 – 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, ascending the impressive 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.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner at the hotel.

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

DAY 7: ELLIOT – RHODES – NAUDE’S NEK PASS - RHODES (APPROX. 150 KM)

Enjoy breakfast this morning before departure to Rhodes. You will travel on gravel roads into the more isolated part of the southern Drakensberg, passing through picturesque landscapes dotted with scenic farmsteads. From Rhodes you won't see tar again for some time as you set off to discover the iconic Naude’s Nek Pass.

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.

Enjoy lunch en-route before returning to Rhodes and the historic Rhodes Hotel.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Overnight at the Rhodes Hotel or similar including breakfast 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 via Elliot down 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 in this area that Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born and raised.

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

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, packed lunch and dinner

DAY 9: MORGAN BAY

Enjoy breakfast this morning at the hotel. You have the day at leisure to simply relax and enjoy the pristine beach.

Alternatively, take a short trip to Kei Mouth and across 'The Pont', which will take you into the former homeland of the Transkei. The Pont is in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year. They only close when the river is in flood or the tide too low. There is usually only one Pont in operation at a time, but during holidays both are in action. Each Pont can carry two vehicles at a time and the first crossing of the day is made at 7am, when people from the Transkei side make their way across to work in Kei Mouth. The Pont can carry up to two vehicles at a time and with lots of space for passengers on either side. The small seaside village of Qolora is just 16 km drive from The Pont and is easily accessible via 10 km of gravel and 6 km of tar roads.

There are also several walks and hikes from Morgan Bay with information available at the hotel reception, alternatively ask the hotel for more information on a thrilling ride to The Gates and Gxara Falls, only accessible by 4x4.

19h00 – Enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight.

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

DAY 10: MORGAN BAY – AMAKHALA GAME RESERVE (330 KM)

Enjoy breakfast and check-out.

08h00 - This morning you travel south along the Wild Coast towards Port Alfred. We will visit Adele’s Mohair, 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. Our destination today is the Bukela Game Lodge situated within the pristine Amakhala Private Game Reserve. Amakhala is named after the Xhosa word meaning Aloes, the prolific indigenous plant found in the distinctively diverse Eastern Cape province. The landscapes are different to those that you would find in other safari areas with fauna and flora uniquely adapted to the climate in this part of South Africa.

19h00 – Enjoy a delicious dinner at the lodge.

Overnight at the Bukela Game Lodge or similar including breakfast and dinner

DAY 11: AMAKHALA GAME RESERVE – STEYTLERVILLE (220 KM)

06h30 – After a peaceful night’s sleep surrounded by the sounds of the bush, guests are served coffee, tea and cereals, fruits, yoghurt, rusks in the main lodge half an hour before the morning game drive commences. Home to the Big 5 as well as the lesser known "Little 5", the reserve offers a vast variety of flora and fauna of which you can expect to learn all about, as an experienced guide take us on a game drive to remember. Besides game sightings enjoying a steaming cup of coffee (which is traditionally enjoyed with rusks) in the middle of the bush is a highlight of the morning.

On returning from the morning game drive, freshen up before brunch is served.

11h00 – Depart from the Amakhala Game Reserve 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.

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 12: 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 - 08 October 2021

Rates

LAND PACKAGE - COST:

27 SEPTEMBER - 08 OCTOBER 2021

Per Person Sharing in own vehicle: ZAR 20,400.00
Per Person Sharing as passenger in a guide vehicle: ZAR 23,400.00
Single Room Supplement: ZAR 2,900.00

Included

  • Experienced tour leader with own vehicle, accompanying the group
  • 11 Nights’ accommodation in country guest houses, hotels and lodges as specified
  • 11 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 
  • 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.