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Johannesburg to George Tour

The Karoo is one of the ultimate yet undiscovered tourist trips in South Africa, vast open spaces, indigo blue skies and a distinctive, arid desert landscape

Day 1 – 2

Day 3

Arrival in our Beautiful Country, South Africa

Arrive at OR Tambo International Airport where you will be met by a StoryScape representative and taken to your Hotel in Johannesburg. Time to freshen up and relax after a long flight. After lunch, you might want to participate in one of the many tours, or as the majority of our guests, just take a stroll and acclimatise.

Should you arrive on a Friday then a Migrant Tapas dinner at the Thunderwalker in the old City Centre is a must. What better way to be introduced to the vibrant migrant history of Johannesburg than by tasting a multi-course dinner, each course representing a migrant community.

Johannesburg, the cultural and artistic hub of Africa

StoryScape Travel with JoburgPlaces offers some of the most authentic walking Tours in Johannesburg. The Tours focus on the fascinating history of the city and with special attention to how migrants from all over the world came to Johannesburg, why they came and for what and where they are now… A fascinating journey through time. Maybe you prefer to take in the graffiti and street art. The options are endless and there are many fantastic tours both public and private to choose from. Please contact a StoryScape Travel Consultant and let us advise you based on the days you are in Johannesburg.

Your mesmerizing Road Trip starts today, first stop, De Oude Kraal Country Estate, Bloemfontein.

You leave Johannesburg southbound on the N1, the country’s premier national road, which runs for more than 2000 km all the way from the northernmost border with Zimbabwe at Beit Bridge, through the capital Pretoria, the financial hub of Johannesburg, through centrally located Bloemfontein to the mother city, Cape Town. 

For the first hour, there is  continuous urban settlement along the road, some of it well established and other more recent, testament to the rapid urbanisation of South Africa after being catapulted into the industrial age at the turn of the previous century by the discovery of gold.

The rugged hills of the Witwatersrand, which bore these mineral riches, give way to open grasslands which will be the passing picture for the next 600 km. These grasslands are called veld and grow on rich deep soils which inevitably were put to the plough over large areas since the 1900s to plant summer crops of maize and sorghum. The rains come in summer, rendering the grasslands and the crops green and verdant, with sleek cattle grazing knee-deep in grass. But sometimes the rains are late and sparse, leaving the landscape dry and thirsty. Winter nights are cold and clear, the frosts are sometimes harsh but winter days are mild and sunny.  Like much of the interior of South Africa, the altitude remains above 1300m.

Passing the agricultural towns of Kroonstad, Ventersburg, Winburg you approach the romantically named city of Bloemfontein, or “fountain of flowers”, set among surrounding hills that rise quite unexpectedly out of the veld. 

You will arrive at De Oude Kraal Country Estate & Spa, a hidden gem outside Bloemfontein where 5-star service, authentic colonial architecture and an exceptional kitchen await you.

Dinner upon arrival at De Oude Kraal.

Marie Lombard was born and raised on this 4th generation farm and has formed a dedicated team from fourth-generation farmworkers. Her daughter Marie-Louise Nel, who grew up in the guest house cooking alongside her mother, joined De Oude Kraal permanently three years ago. The team skillfully combine Free State farm-style cooking with a touch of French flair to create a variety of meals, such as the buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, freshly baked goods as well as five-course gourmet dinner. StoryScape guests wishing something lighter in the evening may choose from the evening menu.

Day4

Karoo hospitality at it's very best, Ganora Guest Farm.

Checkout of De Oude Kraal and start the scenic drive with destination Ganora Guest Farm near to the picturesque town of Graaf-Reinet in the Karoo.  The drive is 370km, and approx. 3hrs 45min, giving you plenty of time for an effortless drive and a stopover for lunch. 

For 200km, south of Bloemfontein the grasslands continue, slowly becoming drier as you head south until you cross the Gariep, previously the Orange River, so named due to the startling colour of its silt-laden waters during the rainy season. The river, like many of the great rivers in the world, has been harnessed and tamed by impoundments, the largest of which is the Gariep Dam, just upstream of the N1 crossing.

South of the Gariep, the grassland veld now become shrubby herbaceous semi-arid Karoo veld, which will be your companion for the next 500 km interspersed with steep boulder-strewn flat-topped hills. The town of Colesberg is set among a series of such hills south of the Gariep, which is also the northern boundary of the Cape provinces.

At Colesberg you leave the N1 to turn eastward on the N9 into the mountainous landscape of the Eastern Cape Province, with peaks above 2500m. The flat tops are remains of ancient sediments and the valleys formed by ages of erosion by wind and water. Passing the town of Middelburg, which as its name suggests is close to the geographical centre of South Africa, the road ascends the sides of the mountains until they enfold you completely.

The journey becomes very intimate with the mountains and the surrounding Karroo veld as you turn off on a gravel road to Ganora guest farm….

Time permitting go on one of the many intriguing walks offered by the farm or just relax and savour the scenery and soak up the peace. Dinner will be traditional home-made Karoo fare enjoyed on one of the many “eating-spots’.

 

 

Day 5

Give us just one day and we'll give you 250 Million Years!

Some of the oldest, most unique fossils in the world

After breakfast, take the time to experience true Karoo hospitality on Ganora savouring these activities.

Guided tours on the farm 

  • Anglo Boer War engravings
  • Bushman paintings & Engravings
  • A private fossil & artefact museum
  • Most incredible Fossil walks, a palaeontologists delight
  • Medicinal plant walk

Day 6

 Once back on the N9 your trip to George is 410km, 4hrs 30min drive.  The town of Graaf Reinet signals a sudden end to the spectacular mountains, traversing the last and most spacious of the Karoo plains with its endless vistas before you cut into a whole new set of mountains which will grudgingly yield a way for the last 300 km to the coast.

These are the Cape fold mountains, with layers and layers of rock thrust upwards by unimaginable forces, bent, twisted and finally set like modern sculpture to create a spectacular landscape. Sparsely covered by Karoo shrubs, the mountainous landscape always seems to be awaiting rain.

Only 20 km from your destination of George, yet another finely crafted mountain pass, the Outeniqua, suddenly brings you into the soft, flowering Cape fynbos, the richest biome in the world. The arid Karoo is forgotten as every twist and turn on the pass yields new floral wonders, nurtured by year round rain and sometimes mist which blows in from the southern Atlantic ocean which seems to lie at your feet as you crest the Oueniqua pass and descend to George.

The trip from George to your hotel in Knysna takes you through wonderful coastal scenes and is approximately  1hr.

 

Once back on the N9 your trip to George is 410km, 4hrs 30min drive.  The town of Graaf Reinet signals a sudden end to the spectacular mountains, traversing the last and most spacious of the Karoo plains with its endless vistas before you cut into a whole new set of mountains which will grudgingly yield a way for the last 300 km to the coast.

These are the Cape fold mountains, with layers and layers of rock thrust upwards by unimaginable forces, bent, twisted and finally set like modern sculptures to create a spectacular landscape. Sparsely covered by Karoo shrubs, the mountainous landscape always seems to be awaiting rain.

Only 20 km from your destination of George, yet another finely crafted mountain pass, the Outeniqua, suddenly brings you into the soft, flowering Cape fynbos, the richest biome in the world. The arid Karoo is forgotten as every twist and turn on the pass yields new floral wonders, nurtured by year-round rain and sometimes mist which blows in from the southern Atlantic ocean which seems to lie at your feet as you crest the Outeniqua pass and descend to George.

The trip from George to your hotel in Knysna is approximately 1hr. It takes you through excellent coastal scenery with many spectacular views over the ocean, a fabulous drive to end your Johannesburg to George trip.