Western Cape

The Western Cape of South Africa is home to a huge abundance of life and this tour tries to show it all off. From the top of Table Mountain to the waters of Shark Ally and the deep ocean off Cape Point to the arid Karoo this tour goes everywhere. We specialise in whales, sharks, seals, dolphins and pelagic birds along the coastline and in the Karoo black rhinos and the once extinct quagga are the main draws. Yes thats right we will be going to the only place where you can possibly see the quagga (a recent project to re-breed the extinct Burchells zebra subspecies back to the quagga is well underway). All in all this tour will have something for everyone.

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Cage dive with great white sharks

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Walk through the fynbos

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Night drives in Karoo

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Try and find the once extinct quagga

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Pelagic birding and whale watching trips

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Hike up Table Mountain

  • Great white shark
  • Southern right whale
  • Black rhino
  • African penguin
  • Humpback whale
  • Aardwolf

Destination:

South Africa

Tour Dates:

25/8/2012 - 2/9/2012

Duration:

10 nights

Type / Focus:

Whales & Sharks

Tour Difficulty:

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Price:

£3730 per person

Deposit:

£935 per person

Single Supplement:

£375

Minimum Passengers:

4 persons (total) before tour runs

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Holiday Breakdown

Day 1

Cape Town

On arrival at the Cape Town International airport, you will be met by your zoologist guide. As most flights arrive in the morning we should have time for some sightseeing after you have been transferred to our accommodation, level – 4* / Guesthouse (Simonstown Quayside Hotel / Lord Nelson’s Guesthouse) in Simonstown. Simonstown is a beautiful little harbour town situated on the south side of Cape Town and is nestled between False Bay and Cape Point National Park. On the drive from the airport there is a chance of spotting black wildebeest, Cape mountain zebra, eland and grey rhebok as the motorway flanks the national park boundaries. Once we have checked in and grabbed some lunch (depending on the time) we will head out to Simonstowns number one attraction. Boulders Beach National Park. This is one of the smallest national parks in all of Africa but it is home to a huge population of African penguins. Yes you heard right African penguins! They nest here and the beaches and pathways get you really close to the birds as they fearlessly waddle right up to you and seem more interested in you than you are in them! In addition to the penguins there are plenty of rock hyraxes or dassies here. They are the closest living relatives to elephants but you have to look hard to see why as they look more like guinea-pigs. We can stay here as long as you like and afterwards we can either go back to the accommodation so you can rest or drive around the bay and take in some of the sites, including a view of Table Mountain in the distance. Our evening meal will be back at the accommodation.

Day 2

Cape Town

The next three days are variable, so the order of activities listed may well be different once we are here. So one morning we will rise early and head to the harbour from 07:30am. Because today we will be enjoying an adventure off the Cape of Good Hope. The southern tip of Africa is an exceptional place for pelagic birding and the amount of life we will see today will surely stun you. There are marine mammals, which regularly include Cape fur seals, sub-Antarctic fur seals, Brydes whales, humpback whales, southern right whales, sperm whales and long-beaked common dolphins as well as the bird life which can total nearly 50 different species including 12 albatross species. We will share the boat with experienced birders who will amaze you with their skills at identifying birds at distance. Once we return in the afternoon we will have some lunch back in Simonstown and you can spend the rest of the day exploring Simonstown and relaxing. Our evening meal will be at our accommodation, level – 4* / Guest house (Simonstown Quayside Hotel / Lord Nelson’s Guest house).

Day 3

Cape Town

Today we will have a leisurely breakfast before heading to Cape Point Nature Reserve. Here we will visit the Cape of Good Hope as well as Cape Point itself. The reserve a superb place to get to grips with the fynbos. One of the six floral kingdoms in the world and one that is restricted to the Western and Eastern Cape of South Africa. Because of the high level of endemic plants here the bird life is prolific, we will spend the day exploring the park by car and on foot and will try to find some of the inhabitants. There are many animals in the reserve such as eland, Cape Mountain zebra, ostriches, chacma baboons, rock hyraxes, re-winged starlings, greater kestrels, cape cormorants, cape sugarbirds, angulate tortoises and if we keep a look out to the sea we may see some passing dusky dolphins or killer whales. We will have lunch in the park and head back to Simonstown at sunset for our evening meal at the accommodation, level – 4* / Guest house (Simonstown Quayside Hotel / Lord Nelson’s Guest house).

Day 4

Cape Town

Today we will have an early breakfast and after drive to Table Mountain and proceed to hike up. We will use the Platteklip Gorge route which is not very strenuous and takes 2.5-3.5 hours. Along way we have a chance of spotting klipspringers, grysbok, common duiker, steenbok, striped mice, southern rock agamas, black-girdled lizards, grey-backed cisticolas, lesser double-collared sunbirds, ground woodpeckers and cape sugarbirds. Once we get to the top we will have lunch. From here we will use the cable car to get back down and get a taxi to our vehicle. From here we will drive to the famous Victoria and Albert docks and get ready for our afternoon trip to Robben Island. Robben Island is a hallowing place which changes the way you view everything. To see the tiny cell which Nelson Mandela spent so much of his life is a moving experience and one you will not regret. Once we get back we will drive back to our accommodation, level – 4* / Guest house (Simonstown Quayside Hotel / Lord Nelson’s Guest house) and enjoy our evening meal here.

Day 5

Karoo National Park

This morning after breakfast we will leave Cape Town and drive inland to a very special national park (6.5 hours). We will stop for lunch along the way. Karoo National Park is isolated park and is mostly semi-desert but boasting more tortoise species than any other park in South Africa and recently playing home to the re-birth of the quagga, Karoo really is more than just semi-desert. In fact we have a good chance of finding black rhino, cape buffalo, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, kudu and both the Cape Mountain zebra and the quagga-like-Burchells zebra. The quagga project has bred the Burchells zebra to havce quagga like characteristics and as the quagga was only a subspecies of the Burchells zebra it is not as far fetched as it may sound to bring the quagga back from extinction; and if we are lucky enough to see one you will agree they look pretty convincing. On arrival we will check into our accommodation, level - cottages / chalets (national park main camp) and get ready for a night drive with a national park warden. The spotlighting drives are the best and usually only way to see some really remarkable animals like aardvarks, aardwolfs, bat-eadred foxes, African crested porcupines, striped polecats and African wild cats. We will have our evening meal in the camp restaurant.

Day 6

Karoo National Park

This morning we will have a guided drive as this is the best time to search out some of the birds here. The bird life is dominated by larks and chats which as very hard to identify without the help of the guides, however the Karoo korhaan, Namaqua sandgrouse, red-eyed bulbul, booted eagles and pale chanting goshawk which are common here and easier to identify. After the morning drive we will have a late breakfast and then head back into the park in our vehicle for a full day game driving. We will come back for lunch and in the evening we will once again have a guided spotlighting tour. Our evening meal will be at the restaurant in the camp near our accommodation, level - cottages / chalets (national park main camp).

Day 7

Karoo National Park

Today will follow the same format as yesterday, as we have a guided morning drive, full day in our own vehicle and a spotlighting tour. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner will be at our accommodation, level - cottages / chalets (national park main camp).

Day 8

Gansbaai

After breakfast we will leave the Karoo National Park and drive back towards the coast. Our destination is Gansbaai (8 hours), a place that is more famous for great white sharks than probably anywhere else in the world. We will have stopped off along the way for some lunch and by the time we arrive we will check into our accommodation, level – B&B (Aire del Mar Guest House / Whale Song Lodge). The rest of the day will be at your leisure. Our evening meal will be at our accommodation.

Day 9

Gansbaai

This morning we will breakfast before departing on a cage-diving boat for Dyer Island. We head here with a 99.9% success rate in seeing great white sharks. The sharks are here naturally all year round and they prey heavily on the massive population of Cape fur seals which are great fun to watch as they play around. Today we will be spending around four hours on the water. When a shark is spotted they naturally approach the boat as they are very curious and once we have the attention of a shark you will be offered the chance to enter the cage and observe these brilliant animals in their element. After the trip we will have a look at the movie which a videographer has made of our trip as well as have lunch and in the afternoon you will be free to rest, relax or explore Gansbaai. Our evening meal will be at our accommodation, level – B&B (Aire del Mar Guest House / Whale Song Lodge).

Day 10

Cape Town

This morning after breakfast we will again take a visit out to Dyer Island but today we are looking for the bays largest inhabitants. The southern right whales; at this time of year they are here in large numbers and regularly come right up to the boat. We have a good chance of seeing Brydes whales, humpback whales, great white sharks, southern giant petrels, cape gannets, African penguins and long-beaked common dolphins. On our return to shore we will have lunch and then leave Gansbaai to Cape Town (2 hours). We will arrive at our accommodation, level – 4* / Guest house (Simonstown Quayside Hotel / Lord Nelson’s Guest house) and the rest of the day is for you to relax on your last night in South Africa. Our evening meal will be at our accommodation.

Day 11

Home

Today after breakfast you will be transferred to airport in time to catch your return flight home.

Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.

This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.

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Extra Information

Weather Conditions

At this time of year the western Cape receives most of its rain, however as we head east and when we get to the Karoo there is often only blue skies as far as the eye can see. The temperatures are usually between 10-25 degrees C although the nights can be chilly.

What's Included

Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned mini-van to be driven by your zoologist escort. You get the services of the zoologist escort included in the fee. As well as the shark diving & whale watching crews and boat hire.

All our excursions including treks, guided walks, night safaris and park entrance fees are also included.

Personal Equipment

We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropiate clothing; which should be clothes for both warm & day days, wet and windy days and chilly nights. Comforatble walking shoes are a must. As it can be windy on the water during the shark and whale watching trips we recommend wind breakers, water proofs, woolly hats and a fleece. Insect repllent is handy but not essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.

Included Equipment

We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. Any diving/snorkelling gear for the shark diving is included on the boat on the day as is the life vest for the whale watching. Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.

Extra Expenses

Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not inlcuded are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souveniers and tips. If you wish to purchase the movie of our day on the shark diving boat you will have to purchase that from the boat crew direct. Any applicable departure taxes and not inlcuded (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.

Flight Information

As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport

We recommend Emirates or KLM as good airlines for flights to Cape Town. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is to and from Cape Town is www.opodo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.

Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.

Visas and Health Information

All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for South Africa. However these are given out free of charge on arrival at the airport. Usually 30 days is granted but please confirm this as less if sometimes given. The easiest way to find information is by visiting www.southafrica.info (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).

There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit South Africa, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting South Africa as soon as you have decided on this trip.

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  • Martin was a great tour leader who made us feel more like friends than visitors. Martin was very knowledgeable and great fun, and combing sharks, whales and safaris was a first!

    5 Stars

    The Brennans, Washington D.C.

    August 25, 2010

  • It is difficult to find fault with such an exciting and informative tour. I would recommend this tour and also recommend you bring some polarised sunglasses for the shark and whale watching days.

    4 Stars

    Mrs Bryny Williams, West Midlands

    August 5, 2010

  • Loved it...the guides were great and the shark diving was no where near as worrying as I thought as the crew managed everything so well.

    5 Stars

    Valon Mustchovitch, Hereford

    August 9, 2009