Adventures by Disney’s South Africa tour immerses guests into the history, culture and various landscapes in Cape Town, Knysna and Kapama River Lodge. The jam-packed 10-day tour visits numerous attractions including Table Mountain, Featherbed Nature Reserve, Boulders Beach and other activities like exploring historic sights in Cape Town, visiting a monkey sanctuary and spotting the “big five” on game drives.
THE SCOOP: What to Know About Adventures by Disney
While the trip includes subtle Disney nods, don’t expect to have a vacation similar to one at the parks where Mickey and friends are around every corner. The stars of the show are the tour guides who share the knowledge, kindness and top-notch Disney service, as well as the beauty, history and people of South Africa. This tour is an upscale adventure that includes luxury accommodations, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and unparalleled service all packaged together in breathtaking scenery.
Things to Know About Adventures by Disney South Africa
- The tour’s minimum age is 6, but the recommended age is 8 since there are long days filled with lots of activity including some hiking, but there is always an option to opt out. It’s also imperative that guests follow directions well while on the game drives.
- There are some adult-exclusive departures, but the majority of dates are geared toward families. The Adventures by Disney South Africa tour is a particularly good fit for families who are active travelers interested in history and adventure.
- Adventure guides create what is referred to as “magical moments” throughout the trip. This can be anything from interactions with historical figures to surprise gifts to scavenger hunts.
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- While Mickey and his friends don’t make an appearance on the tour, there is some pixie dust sprinkled throughout the trip. Guests get pins specially designed for the trip that include Disney characters on them. There’s also a Junior Adventure movie night where the film is, appropriately, The Lion King.
- The adventure guides are absolutely amazing. Not only are they kind, patient and funny, but they also are experts in South African culture and history as well as fascinating storytellers. They are magic makers who provide things guests want and didn’t even realize they needed. The guides take the time to connect and make special relationships with the families, which makes the trip even more special. They also have an incredible way of bonding with the young adventures, which truly makes for an unforgettable trip.
- All included hotels are upscale, family-friendly properties. Each has a swimming pool, although none are heated.
- Nearly all meals are included in the tour price. When meals are not included, the adventure guides are standing by with great recommendations.
- This Adventure by Disney South Africa tour allows guests to get a firsthand look at the country’s culture, complex history, and beauty, as well as up close encounters with exotic animals.
Adventures by Disney South Africa Tour Highlights
- Game drives with tracker
- Boulders Beach to see penguins
- Cape Town walking tour
- Cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain (weather permitting)
- Birds of Eden tour
- Hike in the beautiful Featherbed Nature Reserve
Important Details About Adventures by Disney South Africa
Arrive in Cape Town and get settled at Table Bay Hotel. The full-service hotel is located in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which a variety of restaurants and upscale shopping. Also within walking distance is the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Following a buffet breakfast, you’ll join your fellow adventurers for an orientation with your Adventure Guides. A luxury motor coach will then transport your group to Table Mountain for a nature walk. If weather permits, you’ll be able to take an aerial cableway for spectacular views.
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The day continues with a tour of District Six, which chronicles the apartheid period. Lunch is in District Six at a neighborhood restaurant. After lunch there’s a walking tour through the historic district that includes landmarks like Company’s Garden Park, the Houses of Parliament and St. George’s Cathedral. Dinner that evening is an African celebration with festive entertainment including puppets, music and African folk tales.
Start the day at the iconic Cape of Good Hope—the most south-western point of the African continent. Enjoy the stunning views and keep your eyes out for wild baboons. After lunch the group will head to Boulders Beach where African penguins live.
Visit one of South Africa’s oldest wineries, Spier Wine Farm, located in the countryside of Cape Town. Here you’ll enjoy the property’s wildlife rehabilitation and conservation center where you’ll interact with eagles, hawks, owls and vultures. Lunch is in the South African wine country while the afternoon is spent exploring the quaint town of Stellenbosch.
The day begins with a predawn wakeup to prepare for a short flight from Cape Town to George. You’ll head straight to Birds of Eden for a private tour of this sanctuary that houses birds in a massive netted dome. Lunch is at the beautiful Bramon Wine Estate overlooking the vineyards. After lunch it’s time to visit Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary where 10 species of primates roam freely around you.
You’ll board a ferry to ride across the Knysna Lagoon to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. The group will hike through this stunning area (an opt-out is available for those who are not able to participate) that offers some of the most stunning views your eyes have ever seen. This is where you’ll have the opportunity to touch the Indian Ocean. The afternoon includes a visit to Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to big cats that have been rescued.
It’s time to leave George and board a charter flight with just your group to Hoedspruit. Once off the plane you’ll be picked up in your safari vehicle by your game drive ranger who will give you a brief tour of the reserve before taking you to your luxurious resort, Kapama River Lodge. All food at the lodge is included in your stay. After getting settled, you’ll enjoy your first evening game drive where you’ll attempt to spot the “big five.” A delicious dinner is served under the stars among the brush.
The day begins early with coffee, tea and African biscuits before embarking on a morning game drive. If you visit during cold weather, guides will provide you with blankets. You also stop midway through the drive for drinks and snacks. Back at the lodge, a reptile expert will include like snacks and insects. The evening includes another game drive where you’ll see a spectacular sunset. Dinner allows the adults to have their own meal while the junior adventures join the Adventure Guides for a special evening of making their own pizzas, followed by treats and a movie.
Much like the day before, you’ll have a morning and evening game drive. The afternoon will include an archery lesson by local experts. There may even be time to visit the luxurious spa, where you may spot an animal or two roaming by. The evening concludes with a celebratory, yet emotional, farewell dinner.
One final early morning game drive before breakfast and a short flight to Johannesburg. Tour guides will accompany you to the Johannesburg Airport and make sure you know where to go before tearful goodbyes take part.
Adventures by Disney South Africa includes three internal flights as well as many rides aboard a luxury motor coach. The motor coach and its driver remain the same for the duration of the trip. There are water and snacks available on the coach and meals on the flights. Most of the motor coach rides are smooth, but from personal experience, I know the Adventure Guides have ginger candies to help if anyone is prone to motion sickness.
Adventures by Disney South Africa trip is a tightly-packed itinerary with early mornings and late nights, but there is plenty of time to rest on the motor coach rides. Most people took advantage of this time and napped. While there is a good deal of walking, most of it is not strenuous. The few hikes that were offered have alternative options. It is important that while on the game drives guests remain seated, do not scream, and follow the ranger’s directions. We were hesitant to bring my 7-year-old on the trip since the recommended age is 8. However, overall he did well, even if he was so tired he fell asleep on game drives while elephants casually strolled right past him.
It is advised that this tour can present challenges to guests with special needs. There may be up to two hours of walking during a day. The full range of activities is described as moderate. During the few hikes we had, a couple people opted out of them, which was perfectly acceptable. My two boys (ages 7 and 9) skipped one steep-ish hike in rainy weather, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the hike in Featherbed Nature Reserve where hiking sticks were provided. The 4×4 vehicles used for the game drives got bumpy at times, and we even had to duck on occasion because of the vegetation around us, but the ride was also soothing enough that my 7 year old fell asleep for a portion of each ride.
Most days, all meals and snacks are included. On the occasion you’re on your own for a meal, which is only a few times in Cape Town, there are an abundance of restaurants to pick from. All three of the hotels have extensive breakfast options, which usually include some kind of buffet. Several of the meals will give you a taste of the African cuisine. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even try ostrich or zebra!
The Adventures by Disney Tour Guides are pros at making sure you get food to eat if you have a certain preference, dietary need, or are just a picky eater. They even took it upon themselves to make sure my 9-year-old selective eater would have food on the in-trip flights. The Adventure Guides purchased food ahead of time and brought it on board. One thing you will not do on this trip is go hungry.
Amenities Along the Way
As mentioned earlier, all three hotels have swimming pools, but they are not heated. Pezula Hotel and Kapama River Lodge both have excellent spas. Your Adventure Guides will assist in making appointments for you at either spa if you choose. If you are celebrating something on your trip, let your Adventure Guides know. They welcomed us the first day of the trip with a birthday cake, card, and special Disney pin for our oldest son who had just had his birthday right before the trip. Several couples were celebrating anniversaries and were treated to champagne, wine, and desserts in their room at each hotel.
Cape Town: Table Bay Hotel is an upscale hotel conveniently located to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which has numerous restaurants and high-end shopping. Breakfast at the hotel is a feast that includes made-to-order omelets, an assortment of pastries, sushi, a juice bar, and much more. It has a 4.5/5 rating on Tripadvisor and an 8.5/10 rating on Booking.com.
Knysna: Pezula Nature Retreat: This spectacular hotel is located on a nature reserve and boasts stunning views from your suite. Rooms are large and include spacious bathrooms, a fireplace and some even have private wood-fire hot tubs. There’s also a golf course and spa on site. It has a 4.5/5 rating on Tripadvisor and an 8/10 rating on Booking.com.
Kapama Game Reserve: Kapama River Lodge: This one-of-a-kind hotel is located near the Kruger National Park. This is an all-inclusive resort, which means all food and many adult beverages are included. Your room even comes stocked with a variety of drinks and some snacks. You won’t regret finding some time to visit the spa while on site. This hotel has a 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor and a 9.6/10 on Booking.com.
Best for/Worst for
This trip is best for history buffs, those who love learning about other cultures, and anyone who wants up close and personal interactions with exotic animals. Anyone into photography also will thoroughly enjoy this trip as there are many spectacular sights. Those 6 and under will need to sit this trip out and it’s probably best that children going on the adventure be well-behaved and can easily adapt to long, active days.