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Cape Town, Stellenbosch wine tasting, Cheetah Breeding Centre, Cango Caves, Garden Route, Addo Elephant Park
COUNTRIES : South Africa

Traversing the South African coast from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, this 7-day tour takes you along the famous 'Garden Route' stopping at some of the most iconic tourist attraction that this wonderful country has to offer. This is an 'accommodated' tour, staying in hotels and lodges rather than camping. 

After taking in the sights and sounds of Cape Town we head inland to Stellenbosch, famous for its world class wines and historic grandeur. From here we make our way through the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains to visit the impressive limestone caverns of the Cango caves and an ostrich farm in the Oudsthoorn area. The next day we will depart for the beautiful seaside town of Knysna.

Our next stop is the Tsitsikamma National Park where you can enjoy jungle walks, treetop canopy tours, blackwater tubing and the highest Bungee jumping in the world. Continuing east we take a game drive in the Addo Elephant National Park which is home to many of Africa's big game.

Our final destination is the coastal town of Port Elizabeth where your tour ends.

Note: the itinerary below is written with the optional Activity Package included - please check the Options tab for full details.

We leave Cape Town this morning so we recommend you arrive at least 1 day pre-tour. If you need help in booking extra nights and airport transfers we can assist with this.

We begin our tour with a cultural exploration of Cape Town from District Six, to the informal settlements of Langa and Khayelitsha, where traditional healers and shebeens add to the rich culture of township life. Whilst the townships are often the sites of poverty, they are also places of vibrancy and creativity. The cultural tour is operated by a local Cape Town provider and therefore this Activity Package item will be operated in smaller vehicles. If you are participating in the Cultural Tour, you will be collected from the meeting point at 08:00 and will join up with your truck and crew in Cape Town after your tour. We will then make our way to the Stellenbosch region, where you will enjoy a wine and cheese tasting at one of the local wine farms. After our cheese and wine tasting, we will make our way to the town of Stellenbosch, where you can enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants and will have time to explore this vibrant university town. This evening, your guide will take you to one of the restaurants close to your accommodation for an optional dinner out. If you have chosen not to participate in the Culture Tour, you will meet the tour at 12:00 today.

Route: Cape Town to Somerset West
Activity Package: Cape Town Cultural Tour, Cheese and Wine Tasting
Optional activity: Lunch out - Stellenbosch, Dinner out - Somerset West

    Le bac Estate
    Arrival airport transfer in Cape Town, Extra day in Cape Town - pre-tour, Activity Package - The Garden Route

Today we travel along the famous Route 62 towards Oudtshoorn and, time permitting, stop at Ronnie's Sex Shop, not a sex shop at all, but a rather interesting country pub. You will have the opportunity to visit an Ostrich farm later in the afternoon. Tonight we stay in Oudtshoorn.

Route: Somerset West to Oudtshoorn: ±400km
Included highlight
: Ostrich Farm visit

    Kleinplaas Holiday Resort
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We rise early and head towards the famous Cango Caves where we will enjoy a guided tour of the caves, which have some of the most impressive limestone caverns and the different formations are quite astonishing. Later in the day we cross over the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains and descend to the beautiful coastline below. Tonight we will be sleeping near the seaside village of Plettenberg Bay.

Route: Oudtshoorn to Plettenberg Bay: ±150km
Optional activities
: Dinner out - Plettenberg Bay, Birds of Eden, Monkey Town
Activity Package: Cango Caves Basic Tour

    Dunes Lodge
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Activity package

This part of South Africa's Garden Route hosts a wealth of lovely beaches, forest walks and a wide range of optional adventures. We leave the morning free to relax on the beaches of Plettenberg Bay, but there are several optional activities available which your guide will help you with to get the best out of the day. In the afternoon you can visit the hidden gem of Nature's Valley. This is a lovely village where you can take a nature walk or just relax on the pristine beach. The expedition vehicle will run a set schedule today and you are free to join or leave at the places that interest you most.

Route: Plettenberg bay to Storms River Village
Optional activities:
Township Tour, Ocean Safaris, Sea Kayaking, Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Bloukrans Bungee Jump

    Tsitsikamma Village Inn OR Tsitsikamma Cottages
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Options available while on tour

Tsitsikamma Naitonal Park is one of the best natural reserves in the whole of South Africa and this morning we explore the rugged coastline on foot. Starting on the Waterfall Trail we cover the first section of the world famous Otter Trail. A less strenuous option is available along the boardwalks to the Storms River Mouth. For the fitter and more adventurous though, the Waterfall Trail offers a spectacular winding path following the rocky coastline, with a break for a refreshing dip at the foot of an icy Waterfall. An optional zip line tour is also available this afternoon those who wish to get a birds-eye view of the forests.

Included Highlight: Tsitsikamma National Park Entrance & hike with your driver/guide
Optional Activity: Treetop Canopy Tours

    Tsitsikamma Village Inn OR Tsitsikamma Cottages
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Options available while on tour

Today we will continue our journey through the Eastern Cape towards the Addo Elephant National Park, the third largest national park in South Africa and home to over 600 elephant, as well as lion, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard and a variety of antelope. En-route we'll make a stop in the surfing mecca that of Jeffrey's Bay. You can catch a wave on the beach here, visit the surfing museum or just enjoy a drink and a snack overlooking the famous waves. After arriving at our accommodation just outside the National Park we take an afternoon drive through the park to seek the elephants after which Addo is named, as well as looking out for the numerous other wildlife. Our truck gives us an elevated view on our game drive, particularly for those photographic enthusiasts amongst us. 

Route: Tsitsikamma to Addo: ±210km
Included Highlight
: Jeffrey's Bay and Addo National Park game drive in our truck

    Kudu Ridge Lodge
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We make a relaxed start to our final day with a guided bush walk through the natural surroundings looking for more of the local wildlife. This afternoon we transfer to Port Elizabeth where your tour comes to an end upon arrival in the late afternoon.

Note - Your tour will come to an end once you arrive into Port Elizabeth. We recommend that you book at least 1 more night post-tour or ensure your flight leaves late in teh evening. We can help you in organising extra nights if required.

Route: Addo National Park to Port Elizabeth ±100km
Included Highlight: Morning bush walk
Extras: Extra nights in Port Elizabeth; Departure airport transfer (if extra days booked with us)

  • MEALS:
    Departure airport transfer in Port Elizabeth
  • 6 nights accommodation in hotels/lodges
  • All transport using our 25-seat expedition vehicle
  • All 'included highlights' as mentioned in the itinerary
  • 2 truck crew (driver/guide plus assistant/cook)
  • Local guides for sightseeing tours and activities as per the itinerary
  • Meals: 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners

  • International Flights (available on request)
  • Visa fees if required
  • Activity Package and optional activities (see itinerary)
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for guides & drivers
  • Entrance fees and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Any other items not mentioned above
The Garden Route accommodation
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Local rating
Our rating
Strand Towers
Cape Town, South Africa

Just 3.1 miles from the V&A Waterfront, this Cape Town hotel offers panoramic views of Table Mountain and Cape Town Stadium. An outdoor pool and terrace are also featured at the 4-star Strand Tower Hotel.

Just 3.1 miles from the V&A Waterfront, this Cape Town hotel offers panoramic views of Table Mountain and Cape Town Stadium. An outdoor pool and terrace are also featured at the 4-star Strand Tower Hotel.

Decorated with rich African textures and colours, the air-conditioned rooms feature 32" flat-screen TVs and minibars. The spacious bathrooms include both showers and bathtubs.

A full English or continental breakfast can be enjoyed in the mornings. The Strand's restaurant serves international and local cuisine including fish, calamari, steaks, chops and prawns. Fine spirits and cocktails are offered at the trendy bar.

A gym area, sauna and steam room with fabulous views of Table Mountain are located on the 17th and 18th floors. Guests can make use of a treadmill, bike, weights machine and wide selection of free weights.

The Tower is a 13-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport and 3.1 miles from Table Bay Harbour.

City Bowl is a great choice for travellers interested in sightseeing, mountains andshopping.

Local rating
Our rating
Kudu Ridge Game Lodge
Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

Nestled in the malaria free Addo Hills Game Reserve, Kudu Ridge Game Lodge offers luxury en-suite safari-style tents and chalets. Addo Elephant National Park is 9.3 miles away.

Nestled in the malaria free Addo Hills Game Reserve, Kudu Ridge Game Lodge offers luxury en-suite safari-style tents and chalets. Addo Elephant National Park is 9.3 miles away.

At Kudu Ridge Game Lodge all the safari tents and chalets are en suite and set in the indigenous Addo Bush.

The lodge serves South African cuisine and meals are served in the lapa around the fire or in the private dining room. There is also a bar.

Facilities include a conference center, an open air fire pit and a viewing deck overlooking the reserve, the Sundays River Valley and Addo Elephant National Park. Kudu Ridge has a games room with a pool table, table tennis and a dart board.

Activities, such as canoeing on the Sundays River, elephant back safaris, quad biking and guided tours can be arranged on request. The property has one of the longest double zip-lines in South Africa on site.

Kudu Ridge is only a 45-minute drive from the beaches and shopping malls of Port Elizabeth.

The Garden Route options

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single room supplement (SAOVGR)
Price from
per person

Single room supplement (SAOVGR)
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Cape Town - pre-tour
Price from
per person

Extra day in Cape Town - pre-tour
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Airport transfers are not included, but are available as an additional option. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Options available while on tour
Price from

per person

Options available while on tour
Min numbers: 2 Adults

These options are available from local activity providers while you are on the tour.

These options are availabile while you are on the tour from local activity providers who your booking will be with. Prices are given as a guide and are subject to change.

Country Area Activity Price Range
South Africa Stellenbosch Dinner at local restaurant in Somerset West   R150 to R200
South Africa Oudtshoorn Ostrich Farm Visit  R70 to R90
South Africa Wilderness Dinner at local restaurant  R150 to R200
South Africa Knysna Birds of Eden  R175 to R190
South Africa Knysna Monkey Town  R175 to R190
South Africa Bloukrans Bridge World Highest Bungee Jump   R790 to R990
South Africa Tsitsikamma NP Treetop / Canopy Tour  R495 to R595
South Africa Tsitsikamma (Stormsriver)  Blackwater Tubing (Min 4 clients) R450 to R500
Arrival airport transfer in Cape Town
Price from
per person

Arrival airport transfer in Cape Town
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option adds an arrival airport transfer in Cape Town to your Overland tour with us. You will need to also book your pre-tour hotel accommodation with us in order to book this transfer.

This option adds an arrival airport transfer in Cape Town to your Overland tour with us. You will need to also book your pre-tour hotel accommodation with us in order to book this transfer.
Note: We subcontract our airport transfers, so your transfer representative will not have any information about your tour with us, or be able to assist you beyond the transfer itself.

 Departure airport transfer in Port Elizabeth
Price from
per person

Departure airport transfer in Port Elizabeth
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option adds a departure airport transfer in Victoria Falls to your Overland tour with us (going to Port Elizabeth airport).

This option adds a departure airport transfer in Port Elizabeth to your Overland tour with us. You will need to also book at least one night of post-tour hotel accommodation with us in order to book this transfer.
Note: We subcontract our airport transfers, so your transfer representative will not have any information about your tour with us, or be able to assist you beyond the transfer itself.
Activity Package - The Garden Route
Price from
per person

Activity Package - The Garden Route
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This optional payment covers what we consider highly recommended activities on the tour. Separating these activities out is designed to help people with differing budgets. Prices may be revised at time of payment based on current local exchange rates

This optional payment covers what we consider highly recommended activities on the tour. Separating these activities out is designed to help people with differing budgets. If required, the Activity Package should be pre-purchased prior to your arrival to guarantee availability and to help your guides plan ahead to help the smooth running of the tour.

Note - Prices may be recalculated at the time of payment based on current local exchange rates.

Activity Country
Cape Town Cultural Tour  South Africa
Cheese and Wine Tasting South Africa
Cango Caves Basic Tour South Africa
The Garden Route tour notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

This tour is run in conjunction with our local partners in South Africa. You will travel in one of their specially designed overland trucks throughout this tour, giving you a great vantage point from which to enjoy the scenery and incredible wildlife. Our professional and knowledgeable local guides will help to make your experience unforgettable and fun. The maximum number of people on this tour is 20 (the trucks have 25 seats)

The vehicles we use are amongst some of the finest on the road. However, do not forget the nature of an adventure tour. This is not a bus trip. Nor do we provide up-market tours. These are still tours aimed at the adventurous traveller. Though the vehicles are comfortable with large windows and great visibility, there are no onboard toilets or air-conditioning.

Each expedition vehicle is fitted with the following:

  • Freezers to keep food fresh in the African heat.
  • Individual seats with seat belts and ample leg-room
  • Overhead luggage racks.
  • Lockers for your backpacks (~35 cm square, 80cm deep)
  • A safe for your valuables.
  • A well-stocked first aid kit is on hand for emergencies.
  • Reading material (fiction & field guides), games and recreational gear to keep you well entertained.
  • I-pod/MP3 points
  • Charging facilities for cameras, batteries etc
  • PA System
  • Kitchen and stove
  • Water tank
  • Cooler boxes
  • Table for food preparation
  • Hand-dishwashing facilities

Partaking in an adventure tour in Africa involves covering hundreds if not thousands of kilometres in a truck, and our tours are as much about this journey as they are about the destinations we visit. Use your time in the truck to talk to your fellow travellers, play card games, have a drink, walk around, take note of the world passing by your window and make the most of this unique opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.

Some roads you travel on will be smooth and easy while others could take up to an hour to cover 1 kilometre. There is just no telling what could happen with road, weather, traffic and other conditions that may exist that will either increase or decrease the amount of time you spend on the road so take your watch off, put your iPad away, turn off your phone and just relax. An average driving day could take anything from 5 to 14 hours in the truck, it all depends on the day.

The tour itinerary shows an indication of the distance to be covered on a particular day. Please don’t assume that your travel time will be equal to that which you can travel in your car on the autobahn… no, it will be much, much slower! We will stop for shopping, bathroom breaks, photo stops, activities and a whole lot more. If you are looking to only experience specific destinations and are not interested in the journey, perhaps overland adventures are not for you.

Some game safaris are carried out using 4x4 jeeps/safari vehicles - see your tour itinerary for details. These may be open-roofed or enclosed. You must not leave the vehicle or lean out through windows without express permission from the guide.

Due to the nature of the overland trip, the majority of your meals will be cooked by our cook and eaten beside the vehicle. Meals will not normally be eaten within the accommodation. The reason we run our trips in this way is that we feel it fits in better with this type of trip and it also helps to keep our prices competitive with other companies offering similar tours.

Breakfast: As breakfast is served very early in the morning (if there is driving or activities to be done) it is a simple but filling breakfast: Tea and coffee, breads and spreads, cereals, yoghurts, fruits and on occasion, when there is time for a later breakfast, guides will serve a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, porridge, bacon or beans.

Lunch: Lunch is generally served at a picnic spot next to the road en route to a destination. As the guides only have approximately 45 minutes to get everyone off the truck, prepare lunch and then get everyone back on the truck again, lunches consist of sandwiches and salads (rice salad, pasta salad, tuna salad and green salad) which are quick and easy to prepare but which are quite filling. They do have meal plans which they should stick to, to ensure that there is variety on a day to day basis.

Dinner: This is when the guides get time to prepare a delicious meal and they focus on a substantial protein, vegetable and carbohydrate dinner. We serve traditional cuisine consisting of braais (BBQ), potjie (stew), bobotie (mince), spaghetti and fish and chicken dishes. All meals (on both accommodated and camping tours) that are included in the itinerary are prepared at the full service adventure truck. This is a unique adventure in itself where you get to dine under the stars with your new found friends and experience the real sights and sounds of Africa!

We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. So, the expedition vehicles we use on our South & East Africa overland adventure tours have a maximum of 25 seats and on this tour will carry a maximum of 20 travellers.

In South & East Africa we provide fully trained, local English-speaking tour leaders, drivers and crew for all our tours. This tour will feature 3 crew – a driver, and assistant/cook who will help with washing up, clearing away, cleaning of the truck etc. You may assist with this if you wish, and a limited amount of help is expected and appreciated (eg. Washing your own plates & cutlery) but you are not obliged to do any more than that unless you wish to. During the tour we may also use a variety of local specialist guides for activities and tours included in the itinerary.

The accommodation on this tour is designed to bridge the gap between a basic camping tour and an expensive lodge holiday. So, we use good quality hotels, lodges and camps rated at the local 3 and 4-star level, though in some places more basic properties may need to be used. Local star ratings may vary slightly from international standards. Accommodation is based on twin or double en-suite rooms, chalets or bungalows. All couples will be given a private double room. Friends booking together will also share a room. At some of the places we stay camping is also available but your tour is based on proper accommodation throughout.

Note - Accommodation providers are subject to change without notice. The properties listed are our preferred options, but sometimes due to availability or other issues with the property, we may substitute another property of similar standards.

On all our Overland tours we strive to strike a balance between including plenty of meals, tours and activities and being accessible and affordable.

The main tour price covers all your accommodation, transport, most meals and a range of tours and activities. We then offer an additional 'Activity Package' which includes a range of activities and tours which we consider to be strongly recommended to make the most of the destinations you will be visiting. Our itineraries are written with this optional activity package included, with notes on each day of the itinerary where this applies. While you may still be able to book these activities while you are on the tour, they are then subject to availability. So, if you would like to do any of these activities, to avoid disappointment you should book the activity package in advance. You can do this any time before arrival.
Note: While our principle is to offer these activity packages at 'cost price', you may find that sometimes there is a difference between the price of our Activity Package and the sum of activity prices available locally. This can happen for several reasons; we set an annual rate while many of our suppliers have seasonal pricing; suppliers may charge in various different currencies, and we need to fix long term term exchange rates; and finally sometimes we may need to estimate prices where suppliers have not yet released them when our rates are published.

In addition, there are further Locally Available Options on this tour. These have been chosen to give you more of a taste of what is available in the region and sometimes to offer an adrenaline rush during a relatively sedate tour. All these local options are offered and operated by professional local activity providers and Encounters Travel is not responsible for your booking or time while taking any of these options. Prices for these options are given on our website, but please bear in mind that are given as a guide only and may very seasonally and can change from time to time. Availability is subject to seasonal daylight hours and our time-keeping that day. 

Please check the Options section for more information and prices.

LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES: Most international airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 23kg per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure about luggage allowances on your tour. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.

OVERLAND AND SAFARI TOURS: Please keep in mind that these are adventure tours in an adventure vehicle (truck or 4x4) and luggage should not include any solid Samsonite style suitcases. On our accommodated overland tours most of our trucks have lockers for the luggage (locker sizes: 37,5 cm high, 32 cm wide, 80 cm deep). Only a soft bag will fit in these lockers. A suitcase is far more difficult to store and make secure in our vehicle and this is part of the reason we ask for a backpack or tote bag to be used as your luggage. The other reason is that you need to walk from the truck to the accommodation and often over sand or uneven terrain.  Your luggage on our Overland tours is limited to ONE backpack and ONE daypack weighing no more than 20kg. As a general rule, if you cannot lift your own luggage - you’ve got too much stuff! Most people make the mistake of bringing too many clothes. A quick reminder - suitcases are not suitable on our overland tours – especially huge Samsonite-style cases! Small wheeled cases are OK for safari tours.

SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: Kit for all weather conditions including: • 2/3 shorts/skirts • 1 jacket/anorak • Tracksuit/pullover • 2 pairs of long pants/jeans • 2 pairs of walking shoes/boots/trainers • 1 pair of sandals • 3 or 4 T-shirts/short sleeve shirts or sundresses • 2/3 Long Sleeve Shirts • Smart casual change of clothes • Swimwear • Underwear & socks • Sun Hat – preferably that covers the back of your neck. • Raincoat • Kikoi/sarong

Your clothing should be easy to wash and dry and should preferably not need ironing. Avoid synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Many people underestimate how cold Africa can be – remember that jersey/jacket! There are also nights that are warm but you must still wear clothes that cover arms and legs from mosquitoes. Take a set of casual but smart clothes for the occasional evening out in a restaurant or club. If you wear glasses (or contacts) it is also advisable to bring a spare pair.

While on wildlife safaris it is important to wear dull coloured clothing - olive, mushroom, brown, khaki, stone are ideal.
You should avoid white (stands out too much), black or blue (attracts tsetse flies), and camouflage (illegal in many countries for civilians)

Additional Items: • Towel & facecloth • Baby wipes/ Wet Wipes • Personal toiletries • Sleeping bag • Torch & enough spare batteries • Camera & spare batteries and memory cards • Water bottle. (A 2-litre Coke bottle works well...) • Penknife • Insect and Mosquito repellent • Suntan lotion, sun block & after sun lotion • Sunglasses • Watch • Biodegradable laundry detergent • Passport (plus a copy of your passport & visas) • Extra passport photos • Vaccination certificate • Money • Travel plug • Neck pillow • Small sewing kit • Plastic bags • Clothes line and pegs • Small scrubbing brush • a small padlock for your luggage locker in the truck • Small basic First Aid kit (painkillers, band aids, after-sun lotion, eye drops, anti-diarrhoea tablets etc.)

DAY PACKS: Please check the itinerary for your specific tour if you will need a little daypack. For example on our Cape Town to Vic Falls overland tour you will need a smaller bag, big enough to bring basic equipment (toiletries and clothes) for 2 nights. The daypack is for your Okavango Delta Excursion, where you cannot bring your entire luggage.

In general tipping in restaurants is expected and is around 10% for good service, more if you have received exceptional service, and, feel free not to tip at all if you received poor service. Tipping taxi drivers etc is really at your own discretion and not always expected. If in doubt please ask your guides. It is expected to tip porters and car guards etc. Ask your guides how much is appropriate in local currency. The recommended amount for Serengeti and Masai Mara guides is around USD5-7 per client per day. Our guides do work hard but they are also paid at (and often above) industry levels for this work. Our Crew can be tipped if you feel that they have done a good job and/or gone above and beyond the call of duty. The best way to arrange tips is to elect one person in the group to collect the money. We recommend USD1-2 (or about R10-R20) per day per person, per guide as a fair tip. So if you have 2-crew on a tour, we would recommend that 2 envelopes are used and each crew member’s name written on one. Place what you feel is fair into each envelope and the elected person can give these to the crew at the end of the tour. If you do not feel that the crew deserve a tip, please, do not tip them. You must remember that tipping is only for exceptional service and is not at all compulsory or expected.

Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities. Encounters Travel will not be held responsible if travellers are denied entry because they are not in possession of the relevant visas. We therefore recommend you re-check requirements with the relevant embassy/consulate around 4 weeks before travel.

You should also be in possession of a valid onward or return flight ticket, or proof of other means of transport enabling you to leave the country that your tour passes through or finishes in. In addition you should carry proof of sufficient funds to cover you during your time in the country (eg. credit card).

Should your tour be re-entering a country, please ensure that you have a multiple entry visa that allows this. Some countries have a visa on arrival service which can be more convenient and cheaper. However, for peace of mind and to speed up the border crossing process, Encounters Travel advises that you to get your visas prior to your trip if possible.

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

South Africa: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Namibia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Botswana: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted or travelled through an infected area.
Zimbabwe: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Zambia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Malawi: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Tanzania: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Kenya: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Uganda: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Sudan: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area. A certificate may also be required for those departing Sudan.
Morocco: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria not normally present. Yellow Fever certificate not required.

The above information can change at short notice. For up to date health information & vaccination requirements we recommend that you contact your medical practitioner or a travel clinic.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.

Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
If you are travelling on an Overland tour or your trip includes wildlife safaris then please bear in mind that you may be travelling on bumpy roads and/or rough ground for several hours at a time. This can be very uncomfortable or painful if you have a bad back, and make such conditions worse. Please contact us if you have any concerns.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.

Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers not otherwise covered by ATOL.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')

International Flights: We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people living in different places and with varying travel plans, except on some Escorted Tours, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to book your flights for you. Our ATOL (UK flight sales license - No. 10467) protects all holidays booked together with a flight from the UK.
Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
The vast majority of our tours are designed such that you can arrive and depart at any time on the first and last days of set tour itinerary. However, on our Overland tours, you should not arrange your onward international flights or other travel for the day the tour is due to end (unless the final day does not involve any travelling and finishes after breakfast). Similarly, many of our Overland tours depart their first port of call on the first morning, and you will therefore need to plan for any flights to arrive at least one day beforehand.

Airport Transfers: Arrival and departure airport transfers are available as extra options on all our African Overland tours, as long as you have accommodation booked with us on that day. Airport transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour on Tailor-made, Escorted and Family tours. If you add extra accommodation before and/or after the tour that you do not book with us, then you will also need to arrange your own airport transfers.

Departure Taxes: Various countries may require that you pay an Airport Departure Tax when departing on an international flight. Please note that all departure taxes must be paid in hard cash currency and US Dollars are normally the best currency to use for this. Departure taxes can vary from US$10 - US$60 depending on the departure point. 

Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 and is the second oldest European settlement in the Western Cape Province, after Cape Town. It was named after Simon van der Stel, the Governor of the Cape Colony at the time and it means “(van der) Stel’s forest”. The early settlers to this fertile region were encouraged to plant oak trees and Stellenbosch’s oak lined streets led to the town being known as “Eikestad” (village of oaks). Stellenbosch is situated on the banks of the Eerste River (“First River”), so named as it was the first river van der Stel reached and followed when Jan van Riebeeck sent him from Cape Town on an expedition over the Cape Flats to explore the territory now known as Stellenbosch. The Dutch were skilled in hydraulic engineering and they devised a system of furrows to direct water from the Eerste River through the town along Van Riebeeck Street to Mill Street where a mill was erected. Soon after the first settlers arrived, among them the French Huguenots, grapes were planted in the fertile valleys around Stellenbosch and soon it became the centre of the South African wine industry. One of the first schools in South Africa opened in Stellenbosch in 1683 and in 1866 the Dutch Reformed Church opened a gymnasium which is known as the Stellenbosch Gymnasium. The Gymnasium, renamed in 1881 as Stellenbosch College, finally 3 reached university status in 1918 and was renamed Stellenbosch University. More than 26,000 students attend Stellenbosch University today.

Oudtshoorn – Ostrich Capital of the World
The town of Oudtshoorn is situated in the Western Province of the beautiful South Africa and is known and loved by many local holidaymakers around the country. Originally the area was occupied by Bushmen and this can be seen by the large number of rock paintings which can be found in the caves surrounding the Swartberg Mountains. The first farmers settled in the area during the 1700’s and the first large permanent structure – the Dutch Reformed Church – was built in 1839 and the town started growing around this church.
The town of Oudtshoorn is especially known for its ostriches and many ostrich farms surround the town. The ostrich craze in the Karoo started with the fascination the town’s people had with the feathers as they were used as a fashion accessory. Ostrich feathers where obligatory items of high fashion just before world war one. The great feather boom began around 1870. At its height there were more than 750 000 domesticated ostriches in the little Karoo area and feathers where being exported at the rate of about 450 000kg’s a year. Then came world war one and then austerity became a way of supporting the war effort. Many farmers went bankrupt in this time. In later years the industry revived with the demand for ostrich leather, biltong, eggs and feathers. At present there are about 90 000 ostriches in the Little Karoo

Cango Caves
The Cango Caves is one of South Africa’s most beautiful hidden treasures. Just 17km outside of the Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves are one of the Garden Routes most exciting and beautiful tourist attractions. Here, guests can explore the unseen beauties of South Africa and will be astounded by the sheer size and length of the caves. The Cango Caves are primarily dripstone caverns which lie in a limestone ridge which runs parallel to the Swartberg Mountains. Together the chambers and tunnels of the Cango Caves extend over 4km, placing them among the largest caves in the world. The largest chamber, Van Zyl’s Chamber, was named after an explorer who apparently come across the caves in the 1770s, however there is no record of a man named Van Zyl being in the area during that time and there is evidence that the caves have been known to man since the Stone Age; recent finds – of some tools left behind in ancient hearths in the Cave mouth – prove that humans have lived and sheltered here for at least 80 000 years.
The Cango Caves was the first tourist attraction in South Africa to employ a full-time tour guide, ensuring that each person who visited the caves could do so with a professional. In fact, you can only visit the caves today as part of a tour group. The standard tour will take you to the main chambers and front parts of the cave, however adventure tours can be embarked on which take guests into the narrower and in depth parts of the Cango Caves.

Today’s highlight is the Knysna Lagoon, a perfect spot for water sports or simply relaxing and admiring the striking beauty of The Heads. The town of Knysna, voted South Africa’s favourite holiday town, nestles in the 4 lagoon basin. It is protected by The Heads - two towering sandstone cliffs flanking a deep channel through which the tides flow. There are spectacular views and a cosy restaurant at the Eastern Head and the Western Head is a privately owned nature reserve – Featherbed Bay.
The Knysna Lagoon is one of the few places in the world that supports an oyster hatchery and the town is well-known for its fresh oysters, as well as its beer, made locally at Mitchell’s Brewery. Rich in history, Knysna’s museums are well worth visiting: the Millwood House Museum, and the Angling Museum in the Old Gaol. There are many other attractions, from the lush surrounding rainforests, the nearby Buffalo Valley Game Reserve, Featherbed Nature Reserve and Noetzie beach to a wide selection of restaurants and craft markets. The forest, one of the largest areas of indigenous trees left in South Africa, is very dense and in some areas impenetrable.
Knysna was originally founded by George Rex in the 19th century as a port for the timber trade. The forest was nearly decimated as a result of logging but escaped devastation due to far-sighted conservation policies introduced in the 1880s. The herds of forest elephants that once roamed the forest have not been so lucky, they have all disappeared and one lone female is said to remain today. The beautiful and elusive Knysna Loeries can still be seen in the area, as well as a large variety of other birds and a few small antelope.

Tsitsikamma National Park
'Tsitsikamma' is a khoi word meaning ‘place of abundant or sparkling water’ – an apt name considering the abundance of bubbling natural rivers and streams decorating the region. The Tsitsikamma region stretches from the sweeping Bloukrans River in the west all the way to the Eerste Rivier in the east. Bordered on the north by the majestic Tsitsikamma Mountains and the tepid Indian Ocean on the south, the sought-after destination is flanked by incredible natural scenery every direction you look.
The lush park covers an 80km stretch of sweeping coastline with popular holiday destination Nature’s Valley resting on the western end and the world-famous Storms River Mouth at its epicentre. The protected area is covered in a thick blanket of indigenous forest along with the odd commercial plantation and an abundance of natural Fynbos. Deep river gorges fork between the plateau as they rush down towards the sea, resulting in a dramatic spectacle of tumbling waterfalls and deep kloofs. A mild all-year-round climate affords visitors the opportunity to engage in a myriad of fun outdoor activities encouraged by the region’s bustling tourism industry, while a high rainfall ensures the natural greenness that the area is renowned for. With exceptional hiking trails and unparalleled coastal scenery, Tsitsikamma is a top destination for eco-tourists and avid adventurers.
The Otter Trail is a hiking route along the Garden Route coast and is not only the most popular route in the Tsitsikamma National Park, but is widely regarded as one of the finest in the world. Stretching from Storms River Mouth to Nature’s Valley, the full trail takes a total of five days and exposes hikers to some of the most exquisite natural beauty, including imposing coastal mountains, dense gallery forest and sweeping white-sand beaches.

Addo Elephant Park
The Addo Elephant Park is situated about an hour outside of the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and is recognised as one of South Africa’s most popular national parks and game reserves. It is sanctuary to over 550 elephants in just 120 000 hectares. It is also the third largest national park in South Africa and is the only one to incorporate a marine area into its conservation strategy.
The history of the park is an uncomfortable one. In 1919 the administration of the Cape Province decided to cull the elephant population in the Addo region and hired a Professional hunter, Major Jan Pretorius, to destroy the entire herd that inhabited the area at the time. It took him a year to kill 120, before he was stopped due to public outcry. Only 16 traumatized Addo elephants remained, wounded, frightened and unable to coexist with humans. In 1931, when only 11 elephants were left alive in the area, it was proclaimed a National Park. The elephants, however, were still hostile - destroying crops and attacking anyone who came near them. Finally, in 1952, one of the farmers of the area suggested that a fence be erected around the park. This kept the Elephants secure and out of the surrounding farming area. Black rhino was reintroduced in 1961- the first in the Cape for a hundred years. Today the Park is a sanctuary to over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, a variety of antelope species, as well as the flightless dung beetle, found exclusively in this area. Addo elephants are unique in that although they belong to the same species as the African Elephant, they are smaller with more rounded ears and the females generally have no tusks. The marine section extends to invite guests to observe the southern right whales, dolphins and sea life in the Indian Ocean coast next to the park.

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Travel Aware' campaign

New immigration rules were introduced by the South African authorities in June 2015 relating to travelling with children. Despite calls for relaxation and ongoing discussions, these remain in force.

Parents travelling with children (under 18) will be asked to show the child’s full unabridged birth certificate. The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. Any abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted. The South African Department of Home Affairs are not accepting uncertified copies of birth certificates or copies of the parents/guardians identification.

Transiting through South Africa
The South African Department of Home Affairs have confirmed that no supporting documents will be required by people in direct transit through a South African International Airport. Check with your airline to see whether you need to go through immigration on arrival in South Africa, collect luggage and check in again. If you do go through immigration you’ll need to provide the correct documentation.

There are additional requirements if the child is travelling with only one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied. See this information sheet, this statement by the South African Department of Home Affairs and this leaflet produced by the South African Department of Home Affairs.

Contact your nearest South African High Commission if you have any specific questions about your trip. 
If you’re travelling with copies of documents, make sure you get them certified. The South African Department of Home Affairs won’t accept photocopies of birth certificates or passports.

The Garden Route dates & prices
We recommend adding at least one extra day before and after the main tour dates (see itinerary and options tabs for details). We can also run the tour on other dates on a private charter basis - please ask for details & prices.
Start Date End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
28 Jul, 2017 03 Aug, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
11 Aug, 2017 17 Aug, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
25 Aug, 2017 31 Aug, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
22 Sep, 2017 28 Sep, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
06 Oct, 2017 12 Oct, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
20 Oct, 2017 26 Oct, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
17 Nov, 2017 23 Nov, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
01 Dec, 2017 07 Dec, 2017 US$1249 - - Book now
15 Dec, 2017 21 Dec, 2017 US$1589 - Small group - max 12 Book now
12 Jan, 2018 18 Jan, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
26 Jan, 2018 01 Feb, 2018 US$1389 - Guaranteed Book now
09 Feb, 2018 15 Feb, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
09 Mar, 2018 15 Mar, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
23 Mar, 2018 29 Mar, 2018 US$1389 - Guaranteed Book now
06 Apr, 2018 12 Apr, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
04 May, 2018 10 May, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
18 May, 2018 24 May, 2018 US$1389 - Guaranteed Book now
01 Jun, 2018 07 Jun, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
29 Jun, 2018 05 Jul, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
13 Jul, 2018 19 Jul, 2018 US$1389 - Guaranteed Book now
27 Jul, 2018 02 Aug, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
24 Aug, 2018 30 Aug, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
07 Sep, 2018 13 Sep, 2018 US$1389 - Guaranteed Book now
21 Sep, 2018 27 Sep, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
19 Oct, 2018 25 Oct, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
02 Nov, 2018 08 Nov, 2018 US$1389 - Guaranteed Book now
16 Nov, 2018 22 Nov, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
14 Dec, 2018 20 Dec, 2018 US$1389 - - Book now
28 Dec, 2018 03 Jan, 2019 US$1389 - Guaranteed Book now
tripadvisor winner 2014 and 2015


Posted Feb 16, 2014
Service rating : If a rating of "average" were available I would utilize it. Encounters needs to return emails & questions in a more timely matter & do a better job of informing those going on, the daily agenda. Also, the Garden Route trip doesn't routine participants to use backpacks as luggage. The pre-trip info & Encounters agents do not do a good job of communicating this. In fact, an agent seemed to think a suitcase was satisfactory, but didn't feel entirely comfortable saying that, but in the end, having taken the trip - it was alright to have a suitcase.

Product : Again, if "average" were available, I would use it. The Garden Route is amazing, but our guides were, at times, nothing more than bus drivers. It would have been very helpful if they were able to share what they knew about South Africa with us or the activities that were planned. They did not do a good job of communicating how each day would look like, especially the hourly schedule of the day that needed to be followed to make sure that we were getting from place to place per the specific hourly schedule that the guides did not share with us. This created almost daily issues (being late for things) and group tension for the group that went in Oct/Nov 2013. The truck leaked water in the rain & the tables were used for meals only twice. Some meals were taken while standing up. Some of the meals were hardly worth the effort. Some were very good, like the meals cooked at the cottages. Encounters did not communicate that some many activities would take place on each day; the pre-trip info had us think that there one be one activity in the morning & one in the afternoon. Some days were conducted at a "break-neck" pace, running and driving from place to place. I don't feel comfortable recommending Encounters to others. Additionally, the Garden Route is enchanting and wonderful, but TOO MUCH is attempted to be seen and done in the nine day holiday. I would personally never suggest anyone to try to do the Garden Route in anything less than 11 days. We had to pack up and move out of our accommodation every morning except the first accommodation and towards the end of the trip. It would have been much better to spend more time in the Capetown/Stellenbosch and especially Tsitsikama and Addo. No one had any idea that our time in Tsitsikama would be less the longer we spent at the buggee jump place. We had no idea of the time schedule we were subject to, therefore our time at that park was quite limited. Again, the guides held a schedule that they did not share with the group to understand how each day would look like. Encounters only provided a general outline. Sometimes we didn't know we had specific choices and we were unaware how some of our choices of what one person would be interested in doing would affect the day's schedule and particularly how that would affect the rest of the group.


Posted Feb 16, 2014
Service rating : Great service - went out of their way to help me book my flight from Montreal instead of Washington

Product : Guides were truly exceptional - made the trip most enjoyable


Posted Feb 14, 2014
Service rating : The guide and driver were very good. The food was very good as well. There were a few small hiccups along the way (need much better sleeping accommodations) but nothing that would deter me from using Encounters again.

Product : The route was awesome. Some better than others (Cape Town being the highlight) along with the safari. All in all, a good experience especially for those planning to visit South Africa over the course of a few days.


Posted Feb 14, 2014
Service rating : I would have put excellent if the communication on the tour was better. I wish there was something between excellent and good.

Product : This may seem contradictory but the experience was so good it overshadowed the hiccups that we experienced. Elroy was an EXCELLENT tour guide, he made our trip so fun and tried hard to please everyone. The Country was beautiful and the activities were great! My only critique is the occasional lack of communication between our guide and the group which seemed to stem from last minute changes to accommodation that he had no control over. Instead of explanations about why we drove into one property then drove out to a new one, we were left wondering. This sparked frustrations especially since the placed were taken to was judged too harshly because of it's outward appearance (It was actually a lovely place to stay and on par or better than other places that we stayed). I knew the nature of the trip and I took the "you are in Africa, things can change" idea to heart so I rolled with the punches but others did not which may have affected how they viewed the entire trip. Overall I had a great time and I have already recommended the tour to others.


Posted Feb 13, 2014
Service rating : Customer service prior to trip was great. Guides were amazing. Food was average. Itinerary was alright but needs improvement.

Product : The itinerary was okay but need improvement. The cheetah stop was rather dismal. The wine stop would be better if it included a wine tour. The safari was disappointing. Wasn't afforded enough time at the bungee stop to do any shopping


Posted Feb 13, 2014
Service rating : The booking forward was straight forward in comparison to what i've experienced in the past. The negetive that i have is the lack of communication. The accomodation that was sent in our packet, was not the accomodation that we ended up staying at. The change in accomodation without communicating it back to us did not give any of the travellers an opportunity to update their families and loved ones on how they could be reached. This is something that could have been avoided had an email been sent.

Product : The tour itself was great, our driver and tour guide were friendly, flexible and readily available to help out when needed.


Posted Feb 13, 2014
Service rating : Everything was excellent. .. highly recommend.

Product : Best vacation ever!


Posted Feb 13, 2014
Service rating : Response to emails and phone calls was a little delayed and some of the information relayed turned out to be incorrect when I arrive in South Africa. Thankfully my tour guide Gertrude was amazing and figured everything out for us.

Product : Gertrude and Martin was wonderful. They both took such great care of us. There were only 13 people on the tour which was perfect. Too many more and it would have been impossible for the group to come to consensus.