Full Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

You will be met at the Johannesburg Airport by a member of the Southern Sky Adventures team and offered the opportunity to be shown where to get to the ATMs, exchange currency, visit the pharmacy, acquire a SIM card and see the restaurant options. You will then be escorted to your lodging for the evening, The City Lodge. After check in you can walk back to the airport and eat dinner.

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Day 2

Following breakfast you will walk down to the transfer area of the airport and board the shuttle bus for the Federal Airlines hanger where you will then take a scheduled charter flight into andBeyond’s Phinda Game Reserve found along the Indian Ocean.

You will have time to check in and then take part in the afternoon game drive.

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Day 3

Whether you’re on honeymoon or travelling with a private group, Phinda Mountain Lodge is a Big Five safari destination that will steal your heart with its spacious private suites, some of the best views in the world and access to a selection of unique adventure safaris.

Poised majestically on the crest of a mountain, Phinda Mountain Lodge commands dramatic vistas over the surrounding landscape. Balanced between soaring views of the scenery below and the endless blue of the African sky above, each suite opens onto a breathtaking panorama.

With glamorous guest areas and spellbinding views, this bold and stylish lodge will truly make you feel on top of the world. Magnificent guest viewing decks and private verandas attached to each suite ensure that there’s no shortage of spectacular locations to drink in the natural luxury of the sensational setting.

Guests are greeted with bright smiles and warm welcomes from the lodge’s gracious staff. A warm and friendly welcome awaits families with children at Phinda Mountain Lodge, with two family suites providing interleading rooms with an optional additional bed in each.

Safari Experiences

Twice-daily game drives; bush walks; Zulu village tours; night turtle drives

(seasonal); scuba and ocean safaris; black rhino tracking on foot; participative conservation experiences;

Cheetah, black and white rhino, lion, nyala

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Day 4

Light and space lie at the heart of Phinda Mountain Lodge from the moment you enter the airy inner courtyard. The guest area is a magnificent u-shaped building with central al fresco courtyard, which provides seductive comfort between exciting game drives. Careful planning means that no structures in the Lodge overlook each other, resulting in uninterrupted views from each suite or viewing deck.

A total of 25 suites are positioned to ensure complete privacy while optimizing the view from the veranda. A private outdoor shower and plunge pool for each suite allow you to savour the outdoors and the fresh mountain air. Lounging in your private plunge pool overlooking the dense green slopes, you can lose all track of time as easily as though you were floating on a cloud high up above the world.

Bask in the solitude of your suite’s personal sitting room or delight in the spacious guest areas. Browse our selectively stocked Safari Shop or sip on a cocktail while taking in the views from the terrace. Mealtime may mean a delicious al fresco feast on the tiered veranda, a luscious spread in the covered dining room or an unexpected treat in a surprise location. Don’t worry, a brisk walk along the maze of paved pathways in the lush grounds will burn off any extra calories!

Why we love it

Day and night game drives, walking safaris, and river cruises

Phinda Adventures include Zulu village tours, Maputaland beach adventures, night turtle drives (seasonal), scuba safaris, an ocean safari, and black rhino tracking on foot

Specialist Safaris – birding, photographic, rhino capture and research, tracking, walking, family and private safaris

Amazing views of the reserve

Ideal for families – WILDchild programme and playroom

Seven habitats allow for much greater diversity in species and landscapes

Wildlife includes cheetah, black rhino and nyala

28 555 hectare (70 560 acre) private game reserve with limited number of vehicles

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Day 5

Following your morning game drive and breakfast you will be driven to Sodwana Bay to begin your prolific scuba diving experience along the Indian Ocean coast.

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Day 6

Sodwana Bay – or ‘Sordies’ as it is affectionately called – lies approximately 500km north of Durban and 100km from the southern border of Mozambique. It is a tranquil place where you can relax to the sound of the waves and take time to enjoy nature at its best. This site is unique in that it is protected in every sense of the word; protected by the Parks Board, protected as part of a marine and coastal reserve and protected and safe enough to launch with small waves in a big bay.

When is the best time to dive at Sodwana? All year round! Keep in mind that this is one of the world’s most popular dive sites and over long weekends the ocean looks like a parking lot with boats and divers everywhere. From November to February it can be scorching hot, so have enough fluid with you to prevent dehydration. Remember, even if it is cold inland it is always nice and warm at the coast where the water temperature through the year is usually around 27C, dropping to 22C in the winter months.

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Day 7

Sodwana has a variety of reefs, depths and so much more to explore. There are reefs for everyone, from the newly qualified diver to the thrill-seeking technical diver. Be sure to book the early launch because the wind has a habit of blowing in the afternoons, which could bring along bigger waves. Night dives are weather dependant and a rarity, so if you ever get the chance to go, don’t let it slip through your fingers. The reefs are spectacular at night with a totally different array of fish and marine life that you won’t encounter during the day.

There are numerous reefs in Sodwana with various sites to dive at. The reefs are named according to how far they are situated from Jesser Point: Quarter Mile, Two Mile, Five Mile, Seven Mile and Nine Mile. The most popular reef is Two Mile reef and many of the dive packages that you will buy from the charters occur there.

Sodwana is the perfect place for open water students to complete their first sea dives as the boat ride to the nearest reef isn’t too long, there are no huge waves to worry about and the warm waters will soothe the nerves! A number of dive operators in Sodwana can provide you with air fills, nitrox, accommodation and gear hire, so you are sure to find what you’re looking for. If you’ve yet to visit, it’s time to pack your gear, throw your bags in the car and experience the lifestyle of Sodwana Bay!

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Day 8

after a morning dive you will be driven to Aliwal Shoals where you will check into the Aliwal Dive Center and Lodge.

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Day 9

At the beginning of 2005 Aliwal Shoal became a Marine Protected Area. It is situated approximately 50km south of Durban, off the small town of Umkomaas on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal. King Shaka Zulu named the area Umkomanzi, which can be literally translated into, ‘The watering place of the whales’, when he saw a number of cow whales and calves which were basking in the shallows a short distance out to sea from the river mouth. It is said that the whales swam up the river mouth to give birth, hence the name Umkomaas. Today Umkomaas is mostly renowned as a Diving Town because the famous Aliwal Shoal is situated approximately 5km from the Umkomaas beach and offers a variety of dives, including open water, advanced, shark and wreck diving. Although the boat ride could be long, it is almost always a good and interesting dive. There are two wrecks that can be dived near the shoal, namely the Produce and the Nebo.

The Aliwal Shoal is a 1,5km wide fossilised sandbank on the inner edge of the Mozambique current. The shoal runs in a north to south direction and, due to the warm waters, visibility is usually excellent. It was named after the Aliwal, a ship that sailed from London in September 1849 and which was nearly wrecked there.

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Day 10

The Aliwal Shoal is best known for the Ragged-tooth sharks that are found there in the winter months at Raggie’s Cave and Cathedral. Between June and November you are sure to see Ragged tooth sharks as they congregate on the shoal to mate. It is not uncommon to find 15 to 150 of these ferocious looking, yet docile animals on a single dive. In summer you have every chance of seeing Tiger and Hammerhead sharks on your dives. Depending on the conditions, the best dives are Cathedral, Raggie’s Cave and Shark Alley. The Sardine Run also passes by this area each year between May and June and is well known for the tumbling swirls of sardines mixed with sharks, birds and dolphins.

Then there is the new type of shark diving named ‘Tiger Shark Diving’ or ‘Baited Diving’, where divers can get to see Tiger sharks and numerous Blacktip sharks. The sharks get lured in with the scent of fish oil and sardines which are place in a bucket and suspended in 8-12 meters of water. This dive isn’t done on the shoal but out to sea on a sandy area on the way to Scottsburgh. It is an exhilarating experience being surrounded by inquisitive sharks and definitely a dive for the adrenaline junkies amongst us.

As it is now classed as a Marine Protected Area, permits are necessary to dive in the Aliwal Shoal. These permits can be obtained at your nearest Post Office or at some dive charters. Umkomaas offers two types of launches; one from the river mouth where a boat takes you out to the ocean and the other a beach launch where the divers have to push the boat to the water and jump in as soon as it is deep enough. The launch used depends on the weather and the tide – like a lucky packet, you never know what you are going to get. The wearing of life jackets is compulsory with every launch. Having a SMB, a torch and a reel with you will increase your safety as well as your buddies’.

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Day 11

Following a morning dive you will be driven to Shelly Lodge at Shelly Beach near the Protea Banks dive site. You will check into your accommodation and have afternoon dive.

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Day 12

Protea Banks is situated near the town of Shelly Beach, approximately 160km south of Durban. Shelly Beach is home to the well known small craft harbor, and today this harbor is the focal point from which many varied ocean activities take place.

If you always want to see the bigger things that the ocean has to offer, then this site is for you. Protea Banks is situated 7,5km straight out to sea off Shelly Beach. A fossilised sand dune reef lies in an east to west direction along the coast between 27m and 40m, and is approximately 6km long and 800m in width. There are two distinct areas on which all the dive charters focus – Southern and Northern Pinnacles. Ranked amongst the top shark and game fish dives in the world, Protea Banks offers you a variety of sharks and pelagics on almost every dive.

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Day 13

During the summer months the Zambezi shark makes the banks its home. Hammerheads are often seen overhead – not just one or two, but in their hundreds. Guitar sharks, Coppers and Blacktips frequent this reef, while a fortunate few get the privilege of seeing the elusive Tiger shark. In the winter months the Ragged-tooth sharks congregate on Protea to mate. Aside from the sharks, a vast number of game fish such as Barracuda, Snappers, Tuna, Yellowtail, Kingfish and Potato bass can be spotted on the dives. Other different species that you can encounter on the dive are the Humpback whale, Spotted eagle ray, Manta ray, Devil ray, Whale shark and Brindle bass.

Protea Banks offers an exceptionally exciting specialty shark dive for locals and international visitors called Baited Shark Diving, where divers can encounter sharks like never before. It is done safely and every effort is made not to feed them but only to lure them into an area where divers can observe them much closer than on other dives done at Protea Banks. This is definitely a must!

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Day 14

Following a morning dive on Protea Banks you will be driven back to the Durban Airport where you will take your connecting flight into Johannesburg for your international flight back to the US.

Included

Accommodation as per schedule
Meals as indicated
Park fees
Activities as indicated
Services of guide with vehicle, fuel & taxes

Not Included

Meals not indicated
Activities not Indicated
Drinks, Gratuities, Personal Spending