Elephant family at Thula Thula

JUNE 30th  – ARRIVE PORT ELIZABETH: We’ll meet up in the beautiful coastal town of Port Elizabeth, South Africa and get settled into our cozy accommodations for the night at the Forest Hall Guest House. Enjoy a “Welcome!” dinner and meet your fellow travelers to begin this extraordinary adventure.

 

 

 

 

JULY 1ST – Tsitsikamma Nat’l Park, Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, Knysna Log Inn: We’ll begin the day with an introductory briefing on Cooperative Ecology and an orientation as to how this trip will raise your understanding of this vitally important concept that all of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization’s (LAEO) work is based upon.

Mid-morning, we’ll begin our travel west on the beautiful Garden Route, beginning with Tsitsikamma National Park, a stunning region that encompasses a marine reserve, deep gorges and unique local vegetation such as the Big Tree, a towering yellowwood. The area is home to a wide variety of small mammals such as bush pigs.

After lunch at the Cattle Barron, we’ll visit the famous Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary. The lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other large carnivore living here were rescued from illegal or abusive situations. The sanctuary’s elevated walkway is more than 1.5 miles long and spans numerous natural habitats, making it possible to view many of the rescued animals up quite close.

We’ll settle into the beautiful Knysna Log Inn where we’ll be staying for the next 2 nights. We’ll watch the sunset from the East Head, a stunning, natural site that rises on both sides of an inlet like sentries to guard the inner lagoons while dramatic ocean waves crash against the rocks.

Dinner: Café Mario’s, known for its great Italian food.

 

 

JULY 2ND – CANGO CAVES, WILDLIFE RANCH, AND OSTRICH FARM: After breakfast, we’ll depart for the Oudtshoorn Adventure Tour, a full day of excursions at the extraordinary Cango Caves, the Cango Ostrich Farm, and the Cango Wildlife Ranch Tour, stopping for lunch at the locally celebrated Turtles Restaurant.

Choose from several interesting restaurants for dinner.

JULY 3rd – CALEDON SPA AND HOTEL:  After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll continue on this scenic route, stopping for lunch at one of the local favorites, Albertinia restaurant.

Continuing our trip up the Garden Route to the Caledon Spa and Hotel, we’ll look forward to slipping into their natural hot springs and luxuriating in their wonderful massage and spa treatments.

JULY 4th – Aquila Game Reserve and Caledon Spa and Hotel: We’ll be up early today to drive to the famous Aquila Game Reserve where we’ll have a full day’s adventure. After breakfast, we’ll enjoy our first wildlife viewing drive to see the “Big 5” (African elephant, lion, Cape Buffalo, leopard and rhino), with a delicious lunch at their beautiful facility. Dinner at their savory restaurant and a good night’s rest for all!

 

JULY 5th – CAPE POINT NATURE RESERVE, DURBAN: Located at the southern-most tip of the African continent, this is one of the most scenically spectacular parks in the whole of South Africa. We’ll have lunch at Calpa, a local eatery that specializes in fresh seafood, and then visit a thriving colony of Antarctic Penguins at close range from elevated boardwalks, whose protected beach is nestled in a sheltered cove.

In the morning, we’ll begin our drive up the beautiful seaside Garden Route to visit the Penguins.

After visiting the penguins, we’ll drive directly to the airport for our flight to Durban and a short drive to the lovely coastal town of Umhlanga Rocks, with ocean views, trendy restaurants, and interesting stores.

JULY 6th – MAYIBUYE RESERVE: After breakfast, we’ll drive one hour to Mayibuye, a game preserve that The Earth Organization created 5 years ago in partnership with a local Zulu tribe to help them obtain a better life, economically and educationally, and to move them away from an “industry” of poaching to an industry of eco tourism. David Bozas, LAEO’s Mayibuye co-founder and Director, will personally brief us about this unique collaboration, which was recently named a “Model Program for Wildlife Conservation and Economic Empowerment” by the President’s Cabinet of South Africa. While there, our group will participate in an afternoon of “voluntourism” for the Zulu children – activities that help to enhance their lives.

Tonight, we’ll enjoy a South African “Braai” (barbecue) under the stars with David and our International Executive Director, Yvette Taylor. Yvette will brief us on some of LAEO’s exciting projects in Africa and around the world with examples of how the CoEco concept underlies all we do and is the basis of our success.

After dinner, we’ll drive back to Umhlanga Rocks and our lovely hotel in the heart of this hip shopping and eating hub.

 

 

July 7th – Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve: After breakfast, we’ll head up the Dolphin Coast to Thula Thula, the wildlife preserve created by Lawrence and Francoise Anthony, and settle into our four-star tents. This afternoon, we’ll take our first game viewing drive into Thula Thula’s reserve with our expert game rangers, dedicated to our safety, comfort and education. Teeming with wildlife, Thula Thula’s land was the private hunting grounds of King Shaka. An historic meeting between Shaka and his father was held on a river bank there that is credited with the start of the Zulu nation.

Meet at the Marula Bar for cocktails and enjoy a welcome celebration dinner with our game ranger hosts. Snuggle into your delightful tent in a four-poster bed with a down comforter and the sounds of wildlife at night in the African bush.

JULY 8th – THULA THULA: Early morning bush walk. With your guide, follow the open trails while learning about local flora and fauna on the reserve. Encounter animals on foot and learn how to track spoor.

Breakfast in the beautiful, open-air lodge. You never know what wildlife will wander by – elephant, kudu, giraffe, zebra, bushbuck, rhino, and baboon are just a few of the possible sightings.

After breakfast, take a trip to the nearby Zulu village to meet the resident Inyanga (herbal medicine healer and diviner) to learn about the medicines she uses and get your future told. You may be surprised at just how accurate her divination of you is!

In the late afternoon, we’ll head out for another game-viewing drive to a different area of the reserve, with a break for “sundowners” – drinks and snacks atop a hilly vista to enjoy the beautiful sunsets of the area. Make sure to bring your camera to capture all the extraordinary wildlife sightings!

A campfire dinner with your new friends will complete another extraordinary day of your African adventure.

JULY 9th – THULA THULA: This morning our game ranger hosts will move our suitcases to the cabin camp at Thula Thula while we’re having breakfast on the verandah. Hold tight to your breakfast muffins! A troop of monkeys comes through regularly, looking to steal your food.

Early morning game drive to a different area of the reserve. With over 650 different species of birds that have been sighted at Thula Thula, you’ll be amazed at the incredible variety of their plumage, calls and    behavior.

 

 

Mid-morning, LAEO’s reptile and amphibian expert, Nick Evans, with some of his rescued animals in hand, will brief us on his important work. Nick is called from all over South Africa to rescue reptiles and amphibians from places where they would otherwise be killed, and he releases them back into the wild. As unbelievable as it may seem to some, it is likely that you’ll experience an increase in your own care for, or at least tolerance of these often maligned but extremely important-to-the-eco-system animals after experiencing his enthusiastic, entertaining and knowledgeable presentation. His care for these animals is truly infectious!

 

Our Cabin Camp meal menus are designed by Francoise Anthony, an award-winning Cordon Bleu chef who has created a fascinating French and African fusion menu for the discerning palette. With any luck, we’ll be joined by Francoise for at least one meal and treated to stories about her extraordinary life in the African bush.

After a relaxed lunch on the verandah overlooking the glistening pool and surrounding bush, we will convene in the convention center to wrap up our Cooperative Ecology course, share new-found knowledge, and discuss future applications of this principle in your life back at home.

 

 

Late afternoon, we’ll head out to find Lawrence Anthony’s legendary herd of wild elephants with whom he had such a remarkable relationship. After rescuing this troubled herd from certain death, they befriended him, accepted Thula Thula as their new home, and returned to his house on the anniversary of his death each year for 4 years. It is not uncommon that our game rangers are able to get quite close to this magnificent herd who have come to emanate the peace and tranquility of this magical place.

This evening, we’ll meet at the Elephant Bar for cocktails before heading to the campfire to enjoy our final night with a special dinner and performance of authentic Zulu warrior dances by local villagers around the bonfire. Share your magnificent wildlife sightings and adventures of the day with fellow travelers as we celebrate newfound friends on a continent like no other.

JULY 10th – THULA THULA: This will be our final day at Thula Thula, and we’ll enjoy an early morning and late afternoon wildlife-viewing drive. Watching the abundance of animals in nature there eating, playing and interacting with each other creates memories for each of us that will last a lifetime. Time, mid-day, to just relax by the pool, or in a hammock with a good book, or enjoy new-found friends.

We’ll end the day with a memorable African braii (barbeque) under the stars.

JULY 11th – TRAVEL DAY: Undoubtedly, you will have been awakened by the “bush chorus alarm clock” of birds and monkeys welcoming the new day. After one last morning drive, our game rangers will collect your bags during breakfast. We’ll transport you back to King Shaka International Airport in Durban, for your flight home or on to other destinations, with valuable new knowledge, and memories to treasure and share for a lifetime!