Addo Elephant National Park is said to be home to the densest elephant population on earth.

South Africa | Elephant, Treetops, Fynbos & Rock Art | 9 Nights Addo Elephant National Park, Garden Route, Grootbos Private Nature Reserves & Cedarberg

Discover the scenic Garden Route and rock art of the Cederberg on this nine-night itinerary in the Western Cape. Your luxury South African safari includes tented camps, forest stays and luxury suites, with game drives, walking safaris, boat trips, flower trails and rock-art excursions to keep you entertained.

Two nights at Gorah Elephant Camp

Soon after touching down in Port Elizabeth we were being driven through the unique landscape of Addo Elephant National Park. After a brief but relaxed game drive through the dense shrubby bushland, where many an elephant has found safe harbour, we arrived at the grand manor house of Gorah Elephant Camp. Freshened up, we tucked into a late lunch. Content then just to sit and dreamily watch the waterhole, quietly thrilled to finally be in Africa, lunch segued into afternoon G&Ts, and finally into dinner in the boma.Refreshed after an early night, we rose early on our second day for a morning game drive with our guide James. As we meandered through the reserve, we were quite happy for James to do the ‘work’ for us, pointing out everything he saw: lots of elephant and birds, but also a herd of buffalo grazing on the side of the road, and even a pride of lion, lazing in the shade. We’d been intentionally relaxed about taking photos, simply enjoying being on safari rather than frantically trying to shoot the Big Five, but we did take several amazing shots of these gorgeous cats. After a casual picnic lunch in the bush, we wound our way back to the lodge. I was only a few pages into my book when I noticed high tea being set up, which I adore.

Soon after touching down in Port Elizabeth we were being driven through the unique landscape of Addo Elephant National Park. After a brief but relaxed game drive through the dense shrubby bushland, where many an elephant has found safe harbour, we arrived at the grand manor house of Gorah Elephant Camp. Freshened up, we tucked into a late lunch. Content then just to sit and dreamily watch the waterhole, quietly thrilled to finally be in Africa, lunch segued into afternoon G&Ts, and finally into dinner in the boma.

Refreshed after an early night, we rose early on our second day for a morning game drive with our guide James. As we meandered through the reserve, we were quite happy for James to do the ‘work’ for us, pointing out everything he saw: lots of elephant and birds, but also a herd of buffalo grazing on the side of the road, and even a pride of lion, lazing in the shade. We’d been intentionally relaxed about taking photos, simply enjoying being on safari rather than frantically trying to shoot the Big Five, but we did take several amazing shots of these gorgeous cats. After a casual picnic lunch in the bush, we wound our way back to the lodge. I was only a few pages into my book when I noticed high tea being set up, which I adore.

Two nights at Tsala Treetop Lodge

Our third morning on safari was spent winding our way along the spectacular Garden Route, following the coastline towards Tsala Treetop Lodge. We arrived at lodge a little before lunch, and took a stroll through its mystical age-old forest location before dining to the sound of birdsong on the deck. We took refuge from the midday heat at our suite, with its fantasy setting in among the trees. Here we lazed on our deck, getting up occasionally for a refreshing dip in our private plunge pool. Later, we embarked on a sundowner boat cruise before returning for a late dinner at the lodge’s impressive Zinzi Restaurant. Sated, we ambled back to our suite, where we lay in our king-sized bed, gently falling asleep in its cushioned embrace.The next morning we watched the sunrise from our deck, a vivid display of colour complemented by a steaming mug of coffee. A short walk along elevated, tree-flanked walkways took us back to the main lodge, designed to look like the restored ruins of an ancient African civilisation. In between meals – suspended over the forest floor with breathtaking views over the vast forests, rolling valleys and hills of the Knysna Forest – we did a treetop canopy tour and simply wandered around the ancient woodlands. We were delighted by a lucky sighting of one of the famous Knysna loeries.

Our third morning on safari was spent winding our way along the spectacular Garden Route, following the coastline towards Tsala Treetop Lodge.

We arrived at lodge a little before lunch, and took a stroll through its mystical age-old forest location before dining to the sound of birdsong on the deck. We took refuge from the midday heat at our suite, with its fantasy setting in among the trees. Here we lazed on our deck, getting up occasionally for a refreshing dip in our private plunge pool. Later, we embarked on a sundowner boat cruise before returning for a late dinner at the lodge’s impressive Zinzi Restaurant. Sated, we ambled back to our suite, where we lay in our king-sized bed, gently falling asleep in its cushioned embrace.

The next morning we watched the sunrise from our deck, a vivid display of colour complemented by a steaming mug of coffee. A short walk along elevated, tree-flanked walkways took us back to the main lodge, designed to look like the restored ruins of an ancient African civilisation. In between meals – suspended over the forest floor with breathtaking views over the vast forests, rolling valleys and hills of the Knysna Forest – we did a treetop canopy tour and simply wandered around the ancient woodlands. We were delighted by a lucky sighting of one of the famous Knysna loeries.

Three nights at Grootbos Forest Lodge

Our morning transfer to Grootbos Forest Lodge took us down the rest of the lush Garden Route to Mossel Bay, then slightly inland through the farmlands of the Overberg.The lodge was back on the coast however, hidden in a 2,000-year-old milkwood forest overlooking Walker Bay. After being escorted down a cobbled pathway to our luxury suite beneath the gnarled trees, we enjoyed a languid lunch, simply enjoying being in the Cape Floral Kingdom, an area famous for its fynbos. The afternoon was spent indulging in spa treatments – the height of relaxation! Dinner was a mellow affair, where I was content to let the other guests do the talking while I reflected on everything I’d seen so far.The next morning Johannes took us out to see the flowers that Grootbos is celebrated for, on our first ever walking flower safari. Seeing the flowering fynbos (unique to South Africa) sweep down the hillside to the coastline below was an incredible experience. We learnt that there are 765 flower species, six of which were discovered at Grootbos, and that fynbos needs fire in order to thrive! Returning much the wiser, we lazed at our suite before enjoying a traditional braai in the milkwood boma.Having spent time absorbing the fruits of the land, we decided to turn our attention to the sea on our third day, with a Marine Big Five boat tour. We’d been intrigued by the name, and learnt that they include whale, shark, dolphin, seal and penguin. A sighting of a southern right whale blowing up plumes of water in the distance was followed by watching a jolly bunch of seals frolicking at Seal Island, then seeing some African penguins up the coast. While sharks and dolphins eluded us, it was nice to save something for next time, and we returned to dinner at the lodge feeling pleased with the day.Before breakfast the next day, we decided to take a last stroll on the beach, and lo and behold, but there was a school of dolphins in the swell. Magnificent!

Our morning transfer to Grootbos Forest Lodge took us down the rest of the lush Garden Route to Mossel Bay, then slightly inland through the farmlands of the Overberg.

The lodge was back on the coast however, hidden in a 2,000-year-old milkwood forest overlooking Walker Bay. After being escorted down a cobbled pathway to our luxury suite beneath the gnarled trees, we enjoyed a languid lunch, simply enjoying being in the Cape Floral Kingdom, an area famous for its fynbos. The afternoon was spent indulging in spa treatments – the height of relaxation! Dinner was a mellow affair, where I was content to let the other guests do the talking while I reflected on everything I’d seen so far.

The next morning Johannes took us out to see the flowers that Grootbos is celebrated for, on our first ever walking flower safari. Seeing the flowering fynbos (unique to South Africa) sweep down the hillside to the coastline below was an incredible experience. We learnt that there are 765 flower species, six of which were discovered at Grootbos, and that fynbos needs fire in order to thrive! Returning much the wiser, we lazed at our suite before enjoying a traditional braai in the milkwood boma.

Having spent time absorbing the fruits of the land, we decided to turn our attention to the sea on our third day, with a Marine Big Five boat tour. We’d been intrigued by the name, and learnt that they include whale, shark, dolphin, seal and penguin. A sighting of a southern right whale blowing up plumes of water in the distance was followed by watching a jolly bunch of seals frolicking at Seal Island, then seeing some African penguins up the coast. While sharks and dolphins eluded us, it was nice to save something for next time, and we returned to dinner at the lodge feeling pleased with the day.

Before breakfast the next day, we decided to take a last stroll on the beach, and lo and behold, but there was a school of dolphins in the swell. Magnificent!

Two nights at Bushmans Kloof

The drive to Bushmans Kloof took us inland once again, along scenic country roads to the rocky mountains of the Cederberg. We learnt that these were once covered by the ocean – and you can almost see the remains of an ancient seabed in the distinctive shape of the sandstone, eroded over the years by winds and rain. We passed the afternoon lounging by the pool, feeling deliciously somnolent after a memorable meal made with indigenous fynbos.We were told that Bushmans Kloof is the perfect place for a slow safari, when you explore the area – by vehicle, foot, canoe or mountain bike – in an unhurried way. We laughed a bit at this, seeing as how our whole trip had been anything but frantic. We opted for a walking safari for the morning, visiting two of the 130 rock art sites on the property. It was humbling to see these prehistoric visions from over 10,000 years ago; that afternoon, as we enjoyed the lodge’s excellent spa, I pondered what life must have been like back then. The next day found us riding mountain bikes, something I’d never actually done. It was thrilling to discover grazing herds of Cape mountain zebra as we pedalled about, skittish but tolerant of our presence. Tired after our exertions, we decided to spend our final afternoon doing as little as possible – reading and snoozing by the pool. We were glad of the exercise, however, as we went all out with a remarkable six-course dinner that evening. Our final morning was imbued with sadness as we contemplated our return to the real world. The slow pace of our luxury South African safari had been seductive, and I made a promise to myself to try bring some of its essence into my life back home.

The drive to Bushmans Kloof took us inland once again, along scenic country roads to the rocky mountains of the Cederberg. We learnt that these were once covered by the ocean – and you can almost see the remains of an ancient seabed in the distinctive shape of the sandstone, eroded over the years by winds and rain. We passed the afternoon lounging by the pool, feeling deliciously somnolent after a memorable meal made with indigenous fynbos.

We were told that Bushmans Kloof is the perfect place for a slow safari, when you explore the area – by vehicle, foot, canoe or mountain bike – in an unhurried way. We laughed a bit at this, seeing as how our whole trip had been anything but frantic. We opted for a walking safari for the morning, visiting two of the 130 rock art sites on the property. It was humbling to see these prehistoric visions from over 10,000 years ago; that afternoon, as we enjoyed the lodge’s excellent spa, I pondered what life must have been like back then.

The next day found us riding mountain bikes, something I’d never actually done. It was thrilling to discover grazing herds of Cape mountain zebra as we pedalled about, skittish but tolerant of our presence. Tired after our exertions, we decided to spend our final afternoon doing as little as possible – reading and snoozing by the pool. We were glad of the exercise, however, as we went all out with a remarkable six-course dinner that evening.

Our final morning was imbued with sadness as we contemplated our return to the real world. The slow pace of our luxury South African safari had been seductive, and I made a promise to myself to try bring some of its essence into my life back home.

What sets it apart

When considering what made our luxury South African safari magical, I’d have to say it was a combination of things. Firstly, we loved that our itinerary took us off the beaten track, honing in on the Eastern and Western Cape instead of going to the more typical safari destinations. We got our Big Five fix in Addo Elephant National Park though, which was clever, before slowly unveiling the wonders of the Garden Route. It was fascinating to see how the dense shrubland of the Eastern Cape – with its incredible elephant population – morphed into lush green vistas of forest and sea as we travelled down the Garden Route into the Western Cape. We delighted in the rare and endemic fynbos of the region during spring, when wild flowers carpeted the coastline from mountain to sea, draping the rolling hills in vivid colour. And this contrasted wonderfully with the stark, beauty of the Cederberg, where rocky and forbidding mountains preside over prehistoric rock art immortalising our ancestors. Most of all, it was truly special to have the time to explore these unique destinations at our own pace, whether on foot or by bicycle, boat or vehicle. We literally stopped to smell the flowers, and took the time to gaze up at the inky skies, feeling awed by the magnitude and wonders of this immense universe. While the luxuries of our South African safari cannot be denied, for us the real enjoyment was the chance for us to take a moment to look around, breathe it all in and relax.

When considering what made our luxury South African safari magical, I’d have to say it was a combination of things. Firstly, we loved that our itinerary took us off the beaten track, honing in on the Eastern and Western Cape instead of going to the more typical safari destinations.

We got our Big Five fix in Addo Elephant National Park though, which was clever, before slowly unveiling the wonders of the Garden Route. It was fascinating to see how the dense shrubland of the Eastern Cape – with its incredible elephant population – morphed into lush green vistas of forest and sea as we travelled down the Garden Route into the Western Cape.

We delighted in the rare and endemic fynbos of the region during spring, when wild flowers carpeted the coastline from mountain to sea, draping the rolling hills in vivid colour. And this contrasted wonderfully with the stark, beauty of the Cederberg, where rocky and forbidding mountains preside over prehistoric rock art immortalising our ancestors.

Most of all, it was truly special to have the time to explore these unique destinations at our own pace, whether on foot or by bicycle, boat or vehicle. We literally stopped to smell the flowers, and took the time to gaze up at the inky skies, feeling awed by the magnitude and wonders of this immense universe. While the luxuries of our South African safari cannot be denied, for us the real enjoyment was the chance for us to take a moment to look around, breathe it all in and relax.

Day 1–2

Pause to watch the sun set while on game drives from Gorah Elephant Camp. © Hunter Hotels

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at Cape Town International Airport, and assisted through customs and immigration. After a scheduled flight to Port Elizabeth, you’ll take a transfer to Gorah Elephant Camp in Addo Elephant National Park, where you’ll spend two nights.

Day 3–4

All of the guest accommodation at Tsala Treetop Lodge comes with private infinity pools. © Hunter Hotels

A private transfer will take you from Gorah Elephant Camp to Tsala Treetops Lodge near Plettenberg Bay, where you’ll spend two nights.

Day 5–7

The beaches in Grootbos Private Nature Reserve are pristine. © Grootbos Accommodation Enterprises

A private transfer will take you from Tsala Treetops Lodge to Grootbos Forest Lodge in Gansbaai, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 8–9

This zebra is enjoying the spring flowers near Bushmans Kloof. © Red Carnation Hotels

A private transfer will take you from Grootbos Forest Lodge to Bushmans Kloof in the Cederberg, where you’ll spend two nights.

Day 10

Table Mountain is Cape Town’s crowning jewel.

A private transfer will take you from Bushmans Kloof to Cape Town International Airport.

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