2018 April 14 to 25
A Gay Travel Cultural Tour in South Africa
From exciting Cape Town to the amazing Victoria Falls, our heritage tour offers all the best South Africa has to offer, all with a group of friendly gay travelers. Experience brilliant views from atop Table Mountain, thrilling safaris at a luxurious Game Reserve lodge. Read a personal account of the South African Experience on our Gay Travel Blog.
Southern Africa, the mythic land of mountains and harbors, wild game reserves and stunning countryside, is our playground for a glorious week and a half. Our small gay group will explore Cape Town’s colonial history and exciting nightlife, then drive along Africa’s southwestern-most coastline from Table Mountain to the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.
We’ll take several game drives from our luxurious safari lodge, where we are likely to see lions, leopards, elephants and rhinos. Spend a night in Johannesburg, then travel to Victoria Falls for a breathtaking view of natural beauty.
Day 1: Arrival
Most passengers from North America will fly first to Johannesburg or a European hub, then fly on to Cape Town. Whatever your arrival time, our South African hosts will provide a transfer from Cape Town International Airport to our hotel to check in and get settled.
Many flights arrive during the evening, so there are no activities planned for the first tour day. You may choose to dine tonight in the hotel’s restaurant or explore the foodie’s paradise along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
For those who arrive the previous day or early on the morning of Day 1, we have arranged an optional Cape Malay Cooking Safari to see a side of Cape Town that’s not normally on the tourist route.
We will start our tour at the Bo-Kaap Museum, with an orientation tour in the Museum regarding the Cape Malays – their origins, history and immense contribution to the culture and the economy of the Cape. From here, we will take a walking tour of the area with our guide. There are nine mosques in the area, including the oldest in South Africa – in use secretly since 1795, and officially from 1806 with the second British Occupation.
The homes here are built in the Cape Georgian Style, which replaced the early Cape Dutch style, of which the Museum is the only survivor in the neighborhood. Our group will visit the home of a local resident to begin the Cape Malay Hands-on Cooking Experience. Enjoy a refreshing glass of Falooda (flavoured milk), an old custom when welcoming visitors. Learn about Masalas (spices from the East) and how to mix them, make a curry and fill and fold Samoosas. After all the hard work in preparing the food, it is time to sit down for lunch to enjoy the meal we have just seen prepared and drink a cup of either Rooibos or Masala Tea.
Day 2: Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point Tour
After breakfast, we will drive south along the Atlantic seaboard from Cape Town for a spectacular journey, with magnificent views of the Twelve Apostles rock formations off the coast and the beach of Camps Bay. Our route takes us on Victoria Drive past Bakoven and Llandudno to Hout Bay, a charming little village and fishing harbor. From there we head to Chapman’s Peak Drive, high above the ocean (pending good road/weather conditions) and considered to be one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world.
Next we’ll visit the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve famous for its herd of endemic bontebok (antelope) and the magnificent indigenous floral vegetation called “fynbos” that flowers throughout the year. As we continue along the rocky coastline we can keep an eye out for African black oystercatchers and avocets.
We’ll drive to the tip of the Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern-most point of the African continent. We’ll either walk or take the funicular to the lighthouse at Cape Point with its beautiful views overlooking False Bay, so named because the early navigators thought they had arrived at Cape Town’s Table Bay.
We will have lunch along the way, then continue along the False Bay coastline to Boulders Beach for an opportunity to see the only penguins to be found on this continent, the African Penguin. We’ll make a visit to the world-renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens this afternoon.
On our way back to Cape Town, we will have views of the fishing harbor at False Bay and the seaside havens of St. James and Muizenberg. We’ll dine together tonight and enjoy an evening of homegrown South African cultural entertainment.
Day 3: Winelands Tour
After an early breakfast, we’ll depart Cape Town by chauffeur-driven vintage World War II sidecars! Today is set aside for a full tour of the rich agricultural lands north over the mountains from Cape Town, with a special focus on the vineyards of the historic Winelands region. We’ll cross the nearby Boland Mountains for a leisurely exploration of historic towns, liquid delights, gastronomic wonders and home-grown hospitality.
Our tour will include multiple wine estates dotting the hillsides between the historic towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek. We’ll stop to taste the world-famous reds and whites of the region, as well as South Africa’s wine which most resembles Champagne, the Cap Classique.
Once we’ve built up an appetite, we’ll stop for a gourmet lunch at one of the most famous vineyard specialty restaurants.
After lunch enjoy an up close and personal experience with one of the most majestic cats in the wild: the cheetah! You will not only tour the facilities and education center on these amazing animals but also have the opportunity to get close and touch a cheetah for a rare and wonderful photo opportunity
A late afternoon return to Cape Town will give you the opportunity to explore the city on your own. If there is a professional musical or theatre performance in town this evening, we can check on ticket availability for anyone interested in joining locals for a night of culture.
Day 4: Cape Town City Tour & Table Mountain
This morning we’ll enjoy a visit to Table Mountain (weather permitting) and an introductory tour of Cape Town.
After breakfast in the hotel we depart the city for the Lower Cableway Station to board the revolving cable car for a 5-minute ride to the top of Table Mountain. At 1036 meters above sea level, it affords a bird’s-eye view of both city and Peninsula as you walk around its famous flat summit. The sandstone plateau rises up above the Cape Flats to its highest point, Maclears Beacon, at 1085m. The steep cliffs and rocky outcrops of the mountain are home to approximately 1470 species of plants, more than the entire British Isles! Complimenting this vast array of flora is a stunning range of fauna; some, like the Table Mountain Ghost Frog, are found nowhere else in the world.
After Table Mountain guests will be driven through the city with a private guide to point out all the highlights. Some of the points of interest will include: museums (the Castle of Good Hope, the Malay / Muslim quarters). Continue through the city center past the houses of parliament for a visit to the company gardens.
Lunch will be served at a Local restaurant on route before returning to the hotel.
The evening will be at leisure: some guests may further explore the restaurants and bars of the Victoria & Albert Waterfront.
Day 5: Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and transfer to the Cape Town International Airport and fly to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (this flight not included in tour fee.) A private shuttle will be waiting when we arrive to transfer us to our luxurious, picturesque lodge near Kruger National Park. After checking-in, we’ll have a bit of relaxation before our first game drive this afternoon. We’ll enjoy dinner as a group at the lodge.
Days 6 and 7: Classic Safari
Each morning guests will receive an early morning wakeup call! The days will start with coffee and tea as dawn breaks over the African bushveld. Shortly after, we’ll hop into an open vehicle and head out to witness the early morning behaviors of the animals nearby. Keep your eyes open for the Big Five: lions, leopards, Cape buffalos, elephants and rhinos. When conditions allow, we will be invited out of the vehicle to see tracks, examine certain plants and follow spoor.
We’ll eat breakfasts together back at the lodge and enjoy some relaxation before we embark on an afternoon guided game drive through the park. We’ll have plenty of chances to see the smaller creatures of the bush, learn about the flora and fauna of the region, and to follow tracks in more detail. Our trackers will enthrall you with their explanations of the medicinal and other uses of the numerous plants and trees, along with tales of traditional folklore.
We’ll have lunches together and relax before high tea and another late afternoon / early evening game drives, where we’ll view seldom-seen nocturnal species by flashlight. We will return to the lodge for gourmet dinners each night.
Day 8: Kruger to Johannesburg
Receive a final early morning wakeup call and enjoy coffee and tea prior to heading out for another game drive. After a morning adventure through the bush we will return to the hotel for breakfast.
Check out of the hotel and transfer to our flight to Johannesburg (this flight not included in tour fee).
From the airport we will travel together to Liliesleaf Farm, the insightful and interactive museum honoring South Africa’s remarkable heritage and the impressive trajectory of South Africa’s socio-political past. Once the headquarters of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC and the Congress Alliance, Liliesleaf holds a position of esteem among struggle landmarks in South Africa. Visitors to Liliesleaf will experience a first-hand account of the events and circumstances leading up to the infamous raid of the Rivonia farm, as well as insights into some of the revolutionary personalities who helped to shape South Africa’s democracy.
Following the tour of Liliesleaf we will check in to our luxury hotel where guests can enjoy a leisurely afternoon shopping, relaxing by the pool, or heading to the spa.
Day 9: A Change of Climate
After a wonderful breakfast, we return to the airport for our flight to Victoria Falls (flight not included in the tour fee). The town of Victoria Falls is on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River, which form the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Across the river is the Zambian town of Livingstone.
Upon arrival we will check into our home for the next two nights, the Victoria Falls Safari Club, a new luxury lodge situated on magnificent grounds and overlooking a waterhole with frequent wild visitors. We’ll have lunch on our own, with some time to settle in before our Sundowner Cruise on the Zambezi River.
The draw of this region is of course the Falls, but our lodge also provides another safari experience in a completely different natural environment. We’ll be on the lookout for hippo, crocodile, elephant, and even rhino in their home habitat, as well as many different bird species. The sunset cruise includes appetizers, beer, wine, champagne and soft drinks. The Zambezi River is the fourth largest river in Africa after the Nile, Zaire (Congo) and Niger respectively. From its source in northwestern Zambia, it flows approximately 2800 km (1750 miles) to the mouth in Mozambique, then into the warm Indian Ocean. It is a wide, attractive river dotted with islands and sandbanks. The stretch of river preceding the Falls is bordered on the Zimbabwean side by the Zambezi National Park. We will relax and enjoy the scenery including the Mulala Palm, a tall attractive palm tree that produces an ivory fruit that grows to the size of a cricket ball. (And if you’re not sure how big a cricket ball is, ask our local guides!)
Days 10 and 11: Victoria Falls
Breakfast in the hotel will be followed by our guided tour of Victoria Falls, considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Falls span a width of 1700 meters (5577 feet – just over a mile!) and plunge 108 meters (354 feet) down the sheer rock face, creating an awesome spectacle. When the Zambezi River is in flood, peaking in April, a towering veil of mist rises over 300 meters (over 900 feet) into the air and can be seen more than 60 kilometers (37 miles) away. As a result the Lozi people named the Falls the Mosi-Oa-Tunya or ‘the smoke that thunders’. By the time British explorer David Livingstone first saw the Falls in 1855, and named them after Queen Victoria, the Zambian side, across the river, was heavily populated. Major tribes living in the area today include the Tonga, the Toka-Leya, the Lozi and the Subia, all of whom regard the Falls as sacred. On your tour you will also pass the “big Tree” where you may stop and take photos and continue through the rainforest and receive a brief history of the Falls themselves as well as detailing the flora, fauna, birds & wildlife.
We will return to the hotel for lunch for prepare for an afternoon on an elephant-back safari. Our extraordinary and exhilarating journey along the edge of the Zambezi gorges follows ancient game trails. Seated comfortably on the back of nature’s true “king of the beasts”, experience an age-old tradition while silently exploring the majestic grasslands of Victoria Falls National Park. We’ll marvel at the spectacular scenery of the Masuie River, plunging over a cataract into the Zambezi River below. Be witness to this mutually enriching and rewarding relationship between man and elephant in a modern day Africa, promising much more than just a game-viewing experience, but rather a closer understanding of the world’s largest land mammal, the African Elephant.
Our second day at Victoria Falls is on your own, with a chance to explore many of the optional activities available to us!
We’ll have our farewell meal tonight, enjoying our last evening in Africa together.
Day 12: Farewell to Africa
The morning is free to wander the lush grounds of our hotel and reflect on the experiences of the last 11 days. Together with new close friends we will check out of our resort and transfer to Victoria Falls Airport to board our flight to Johannesburg. We will arrive in mid-afternoon, in time to transfer to evening flights home, or wherever your paths may lead you. And as your flight home takes off and you take your last look at South Africa, remember the people, the wildlife and the unique natural features of that landscape that have given you memories that you can savor for a lifetime.
Head to Cape Town in style! Plan to fly into Johannesburg Airport, and then be transferred to Pretoria for an evening to rest and relax. In the morning we’ll board the Blue Train early, in time for an 8:30 am departure. We’ll stop for an included excursion to the Kimberley Open Air Mine in the afternoon. All meals, high tea, and dinner are included on the train, with jacket & tie for men and elegant evening wear for women as suggested dinner attire. We’ll arrive in Cape Town the next day around noon, and transfer to our hotel.
The Blue Train runs once a week in each direction. Because our tour dates are based on safari lodge availability, our tour starts on different days of the week in different years. Therefore the “Blue Train extension” package varies from year to year.
In 2018, the dates are:
Please contact us for pricing for arrival via Blue Train.
We are preparing a 6-night extension for more wildlife viewing at a variety of luxurious tented camps and lodges in Botswana. Please contact us for custom pricing for this unique safari experience.
Price includes: Arrival transfers from Cape Town airport to hotel; Accommodations for 11 nights at fine hotels and lodges in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Victoria Falls; Three-day / two-night safari at one of South Africa’s finest luxury game lodges near Kruger National Park, including accommodations, all meals and twice daily excursions to view wildlife in their natural setting; All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 5 dinners; Wine or soft drinks at the Welcome and Farewell dinners; All ground transportation by motor coaches, cars, funiculars, sidecars and other vehicles when traveling as a group; Airport transfers for group flights; South African airport departure taxes when traveling with the group; Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour director (subject to minimum participation); Licensed South African guides (regardless of group size); Admissions and guided tours at all attractions; All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage, and gratuities for drivers and included meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare from home to Cape Town and from Johannesburg to home; Airfare within Africa (estimated at approximately US$700 total); International departure taxes; Zimbabwe visa for visit to Victoria Falls (purchased upon arrival at Victoria Falls Airport – approximately US$30, payable in cash); Meals not included in tour package; Gratuities for guides and HE Travel tour director; Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls.
Optional Tour Choices:
$1990 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$165 Cape Malay Cooking Safari on Day 1 (for those who arrive early enough to enjoy this excursion)
So are most of the people who travel with us. You do not need to pay extra to travel by yourself. Prices are per-person, and the single supplement applies only if you’d like a room by yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
This tour starts in Cape Town, South Africa and ends in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Our South Africa Heritage & Safari tour includes walking on sometimes uneven or wet surfaces. During our safaris we will be on dirt tracks in open vehicles. These are perfect for seeing wildlife, but provide for a much bumpier ride than on city streets.
For answers to your additional questions, please email email@example.com or call 305-294-8174