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16-day Western & Northern Cape Tour (Self-drive)

A tour encompassing highlights from both the Western and the Northern Cape. You’ll start in the city and head straight to the countryside before experiencing the coast, mountains, forests, lakes and finally a plethora of wildlife.

Price from USD 3,204 pps
Duration 16 days
Tour Type Self-drive
Highlights Cape Winelands, Namaqualand and Northern Cape, West Coast
Includes
  • Accommodation
  • Meals (details on request)
  • 16 days car rental - Group K (Renault Duster 2x4 or similar) including unlimited km and maximum insurance
  • Welcome service
  • Airport transfers
  • 24-hour support
  • Comprehensive tour file with detailed itinerary, map, route descriptions, booking vouchers, contact numbers and useful information
Excludes
  • International flights
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Entry visas
  • Fuel
  • Park entry fees / Conservation fees for national parks & game reserves
  • Upgrade rental car and extra charges (incl. one-way fee & optional GPS)
  • Staff gratuities

After a brief start in Cape Town you’ll be off to the winelands followed by the coast. Mountains next, drive inland to see the Cederberg where farmers grow rooibos tea before cruising up to the Northern Cape. Namaqualand is a pretty amazing stop. If you arrive after the winter rains you’ll be treated to a veritable festival of flowers. They cover the place - showing off left, right and centre. Spectacular is an understatement. Talking of which, the Augrabies Waterfalls are next. They’re loud - thundering in fact. And finally, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which is almost twice the size of the Kruger and a great place for bird watching. Leopard and lion get lazy here too. And that, will be that. Just over a fortnight of self driving this lovely land.

Itinerary Details

Arrive at Cape Town Airport. Collect your rental car and drive to the Riebeeck Valley. It’s one of the oldest towns in South Africa and part of the Cape Winelands. In 1661 Jan van Riebeeck ‘found’ this fertile valley and immediately saw animals. He has famously described the sudden appearance of “13 horses, 5 rhinoceros, and thousands of hartebeeste" and was even stalked by a lion, yet somehow survived. Today, this area should be less of an ordeal for you as it’s all vineyards and olive groves.

On the way:
It’s a short drive, Cape Town to Riebeeck Kasteel is 75km and will take you about an hour.

When you're there:
Riebeeck Kasteel is a village which forms part of the Riebeeck Valley alongside Hermon and Riebeek West. You’ll be staying at the Royal Hotel which has featured on a list of 50 most fabulous places to visit in South Africa. It’s the Western Cape’s oldest hotel so indulge in some olde world luxury. All areas have air conditioning and you can see the valley from the garden, swimming pool and deck. The bar’s over 150 years old and is positioned next to the restaurant. There’s a spa service which you can enjoy in your room or in the garden gazebo and a famous and historical veranda. This arched stoep was added in 1927 and marked the last structural change made to the hotel. It’s said to be the longest stoep south of the Limpopo and is an important part of South African history. In the 19th century two future prime ministers were born nearby, Jan Smuts and Daniel Malan. The Royal was the meeting place in those days but the two men became very different leaders. Malan installed the Apartheid laws and used part of the stoep to create non-white bathrooms whilst Smuts became the first anti-apartheid politician. He also went on to write the preamble to one of the world's most important institutions, the United Nations. The bathrooms were removed in 2005.

There’s a lot to mull over here and thankfully the atmosphere is now very different. The Riebeek Valley hosts three annual festivals: Medfest in March, the Olive Festival in May and the Shiraz and art festival in September.

If you want to explore further afield it’s easy. Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Tulbagh and Ceres are all within an hour’s drive away.
And ‘big five’ safaris are only half an hour away, as is the biggest golf course in South Africa.

Standard Accommodation

The next couple of days are all about the West Coast National Park. Think flamingoes, pelicans, even wildebeest.

On the way:
It’s time for a longer drive as you head to Paternoster. Actually it’s not very far away. It’s 125km and will take about 1-2 hours. Your base will be the Paternoster Dunes.

When you're there:
Paternoster is one of the last traditional fishing villages in South Africa. It’s all whitewashed houses and gorgeous beaches and your accommodation is right by the vast ocean. You’ll have private access to a patch of indigenous Strandveld, which leads directly onto Bek Bay Beach. Go swimming, lie in the lounge, try out the honesty cocktail bar. There’s a small library, a beauty treatment room and complimentary afternoon tea. There’s also a solar-heated, all-weather pool with cushioned deck loungers. It’s bed and breakfast here and you eat on the upstairs terrace. Take it from us, gazing at the sea first thing in the morning is an extremely nice way to start the day.

The village harbour is an easy walk and here you will find restaurants and cafes.

So. What to do with your time here?

Well, you should definitely visit the West Coast National Park. This is where you’ll find the Langebaan Lagoon. It’s all white dunes, rare fynbos, green wetlands and a great place to spot those flamingoes and pelicans. You can hike, cycle and bird watch. And there are mammals who’ve made it their base including wildebeest and eland.

Closer to home is the Cape Columbine lighthouse. It was built in 1936 and is the last coastal beacon to have a dedicated keeper. Hire a sea kayak, spot penguins and dolphins or simply walk. If you head down the beach you’ll reach the Greater Paternoster Nature Reserve.

Standard Accommodation

If the ocean made you feel insignificant wait till you meet the mighty Cederbergs. These mountains are 500 million years old. Elephant, lion and black rhino used to be abundant, and the now-extinct quagga roamed the plains alongside endless antelope herds. The landscape is completely different. High, huge, twisted sandstone rocks. They became the canvas for Bushman art classes. Tribes have lived here for 120,000 years and over 130 rock art sites survive. There’s also an exceptional botanical diversity and Cederberg farmers cultivate the world famous rooibos tea.

On the way:
Drive inland for 210km. It will take about 2-3 hours to reach your base for days 5 and 6. It’s called Bushman’s Kloof and you’ll have dinner and bed & breakfast here.

When you're there:
In the 1990s seven farms were turned into a retreat and game reserve. Fynbos was allowed to flourish and splendour. Indigenous flora and fauna were re-introduced, including the rare and endangered cape mountain zebra, cape clawless otter and clanwilliam yellowfish. The lodge has since won a stack of awards.

It’s a predator free area too so you can enjoy a good wander. Only rare cape leopard roam the most remote parts of the mountains and it’s unlikely you’ll see them. The lodge does have a wildlife reintroduction programme though and many animals are back including hartebeest and ostrich. You can hike, bike, swim and go fly fishing.

Luxury Accommodation

The next couple of days will see you arrive in the Northern Cape. It’s the largest province in the country and is known as the diamond province. Here, in 1867, the first diamond in South Africa was found. Near Hopetown. Since then, almost 95 percent of SA’s diamonds come from here. But the real jewel in the Northern crown must surely be the six national parks - they have more than any other province. And you are off to one of them today, Namaqualand.

On the way:
Your drive will be 3-4 hours, 250km. This arid area extends over 1000km along the West Coast and up to the Orange River. When you reach Agama Tented Camp, you’re there.

When you're there:
If you are here in August and September you’ll be treated to Mother Nature’s garish taste. The mass of flowers produce carpets of pink, yellow, white. Like a million swimmers, each with an elaborate hat.

But this area is not just for spring visits. The national park is part of the Succulent Karoo biome - one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots - so it’s frankly interesting at any time of year. There are more than 3000 plant species, and 50% of them occur nowhere else on the planet.

There are animals too including the African wild cat, aardwolf and leopard. Although the latter are extremely elusive. An better bet is springbok, steenbok, red hartebeest, gemsbok, chacma baboon and dassie.

Plus this place is home to the world’s smallest tortoise, the speckled padloper. A fully grown adult is only about as long as your forefinger... cute overload.

Birds abound: Verreaux’s eagle, Kori bustard, Namaqua sandgrouse, southern black korhaan and spotted eagle-owl.

You’ll have dinner at your B&B which is the Agama Tented Camp. This is a bush camp for 14 guests. You’ll be in a decent tent with your own private bathroom and deck. It’s on an 8000 hectare farm in the centre of the floral wonderland. Clearly, this is an excellent place to walk. The camp is hidden in a secluded “kloof” and does not impede the wildlife here. You can take early morning drives or go on sundowners. The star gazing is also top notch.

Standard Accommodation

Next stop is Springbok, the largest town in Namaqualand. And your base to carry on exploring the Namaqua National Park, the Goegap Nature Reserve and the Richtersvekd National Park.

On the way:
You’ll be driving for another 250km, that’s about 3-4 hours behind the wheel. Head to the edge of the Spektakelberg.

When you're there:
Now this little place is a treat of a retreat. Literally. This is the Naries Namakwa Retreat. And if it’s spring, you’ll see more of that outrageous flower power we’ve been talking about.

This is another good place to hike, mountain bike or drive around. And like Bushmans Kloof, Naries is also helping to reintroduce animals after years of intensive farming. There are now springbok, oryx and klipspringer. And plans to bring back zebra as this harsh and barren landscape was once their home.

Want something different? Ok, try the 4x4 shipwreck tour. It’s a guided 37km tour of the wrecks chewed and spewed by the Atlantic.

Or head to the Richtersvekd National Park to see dramatic, mountain desert scenes. It’s rather surreal, waste is scarce and moisture comes from early morning fog.

Luxury Accommodation

And talking of water, how about tonnes and tonnes of Orange River thundering down 60 metres? This waterfall is loud. So loud the local Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, place of great noise. Take your ear defenders. Unless you arrive on a day when the only thing raging is a drizzle. Quite a big drizzle. But a drizzle nevertheless.

On the way:
This is the longest drive so far. It’s 410km and will take about 5 hours. The waterfall is only 40km from here.

When you're there:
The falls are in the Augrabies Falls National Park. There are 46 mammals, 186 bird species, snakes, lizards, agamas, iguanas, pigs in pyjamas and 12 species of fresh water fish.

The park was established in 1966. The waterfall is about 60 metres high with the gorge below 240 metres deep. It runs and runs for an impressive 18 kilometres. Look out for diamonds along the river... legend has it the biggest cache in the world is here. Lying in the swirl-hole eroded into the granite, beneath the waterfall.

Don’t miss the enigmatic quiver tree or kokerboom. This tree dates back thousands of years. It’s a succulent with fibrous branches and yellow flowers in winter. The San used them for quivers for their arrows, which is how they got their name. Best fact of the tour so far is surely this one... big quiver stems were once used for both coffins and fridges.

Klipspringers have been living here for thousands of years. And steenbok, springbok, gemsbok, kudu and eland. Predators include leopards, jackals and the African wild cat.

For one of the best views of the park walk to the top of Moon Rock - a vast dome affording you the splendour of pretty much the whole place.

You’ll be staying at Dundi Lodge which is just outside the national park. It’s easy to get to the falls and they have their own privately owned game reserve which is 55km away. Want to see the world from above? They can arrange hot air ballooning trips too. Or just river raft down the stream.

Standard Accommodation

The Kgalagadi is a park spanning three countries; South Africa, Namibia, Botswana. It’s a vast wildlife preserve stretching over 3.5 million hectares - almost twice the size of the Kruger. You’ll be staying on a fully inclusive basis here.

On the way:
You’ll be driving 360km which will take approximately 4-5 hours. If you drive to the park at the end of the dry winter season, you’ll wonder how anything could survive this harsh environment. Kgalagadi means salt pan or ‘thirstland’ in San. It’s a semi-desert of grass covered dunes. Yellow, brown, pink, red. Over time the clay minerals in the soil became hot and dry and released aluminium and iron oxides. The more yellow the sand, the higher the moisture content when the oxidisation process took place.

When you're there:
Migrating wildebeest, raptors, black-maned lion. The primary focus here is conservation and the transfrontier parks are managed as one with a formal agreement between the relevant authorities.

Your accommodation here is managed on behalf of the Khomani San and Mier communities. !Xaus Lodge is pronounced ‘kaus’, there’s a lounge with a fireplace, an observation deck, a swimming pool and a fire in the boma. You can go on sunset game drives or ‘after dinner’ drives to admire the Kalahari night life. Walk with bushman trackers and learn about their world, visit a cultural village to see crafters working and enjoy your last couple of days not forgetting to stare at the night sky.

Standard Accommodation

So, you’re homeward bound. Three hours and 250km later, you’ll arrive in Upington. Drop your car off at the local airport and take flight. To either Johannesburg or Cape Town. And, depending on when you’re flying, we can add another night in Upington. Finally, when you’re ready, say goodbye to the beautiful, wild and eerie Kalahari.


Prices

Guests Accommodation Season (2019) Amount
2 Standard High Season USD 3,204 pps
  • As a rough guide Low Season throughout the region is from 1 January to 30 June and High Season is from 1 July to 31 December. The exception is South Africa, which has a mish-mash of seasons and sub-seasons depending where in that vast land you go.
  • We give indicative Low and High Season rates on our website and exact prices in your quote when your travel dates are set.
  • These prices are based on two adults sharing accommodation unless otherwise stated.
  • Please treat all pricing as a guide only. Read more about our pricing.
  • Contact us for a personalised quote now.

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About Us

Staff party photo from 2019 showing all staff smiling
  • Wilmari Wilmari
  • Bianca Bianca
  • Ulrike Ulrike
  • Chantelle Chantelle
  • Ashlee Ashlee
  • Bonique Bonique
  • Tessa Tessa
  • Janine Janine
  • Carmen Carmen
  • Anja Anja
  • Kirsti Kirsti
  • Petra Petra
  • Leandrie Leandrie
  • Jessica Jessica

“NTS was AMAZING! Special thanks to Wilmari for the best trip we have ever taken. 100% recommend!”

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Ulrike helped us plan our safari for 2 years... patience of a saint and the insight and knowledge of a true local.”

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Leandrie was very patient listening to my needs and catering to my budget... Everything worked perfectly!”

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