13 DAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA
DAY 1: CAPE TOWN
Arrive in Capetown and then driven in a private vehicle to your accommodation. After checking in, the rest of the day is free for you to relax after you flight or begin your exploration of Cape Town. We suggest heading to the V&A Waterfront to browse its many trendy shops, cafes and restaurants.
DAY 2: CAPE TOWN
Begin today with a private guided hike up Table Mountain for some spectacular views over the city and ocean. You're collected from your accommodation and driven to the lower cable car station ready for your ascent. Your guide then leads you up steep, rocky trails to the mountain's summit, with plenty of stops to catch your breath while taking in the views - you may see Camps Bay and the 12 Apostles in the distance. You take the cable car back down the mountain. This afternoon, your guide leads you on a private walking tour around the city to explore its past. Visits include the Houses of Parliament, the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope (South Africa's oldest building) and the lively market at Greenmarket Square.
DAY 3: CAPE TOWN
Today your private driver and guide takes you on a tour around the Cape Peninsula's beautifully rugged coastline. Highlights include passing through the affluent suburb of Camps Bay, seeing the African penguin colony at Boulders Beach, strolling around the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and visiting the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, which is home to baboons, several antelope and bird species, as well as seals and dolphins offshore. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for photographs en route, and you can purchase lunch in one of the area's pretty towns.
DAY 4: SWELLENDAM
Your hire car is delivered to your accommodation this morning. You then set off on the two and a half hour drive to Swellendam, set at the foot of the Overberg Mountains and surrounded by green countryside. Once you've settled into your accommodation, spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring this historic town. The third-oldest in South Africa, it's home to some fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture, a museum where you can learn about the area's past, and a good selection of restaurants and cafes.
DAY 5: OUDTSHOORN
Set off on your two and a half hour drive to Oudtshoorn. The journey takes you through a breath-taking mountain pass, the arid Karoo area and along Route 62, said to be the most scenic route in South Africa, cutting through an expanse of vineyards, huge mountains and deep-cut valleys. We recommend taking your time to enjoy the views. After checking into your accommodation, begin to explore Oudtshoorn. The town is known as the 'ostrich capital of the world, becoming wealthy through its ostrich feather industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today you can see the ornate sandstone houses once belonging to those who grew rich from the trade.
DAY 6: OUDTSHOORN
Take the day to explore the beautiful mountainous area. The drive up to the Cango Caves is stunning. The caves offer guided tours daily including a walk around the caves with a guide but for those that are looking for more adventure, there is the adventure tour that take you deeper into the caves through the tunnels with a guide.
DAY 7: PLETTENBERG BAY
Leave Oudtshoorn behind and drive for two hours to Plettenberg Bay. As you join the Garden Route at the town of George, the road runs along the coast, offering some beautiful views over the ocean. You may wish to stop for lunch in one of the coastal towns along the way. On arrival in Plettenberg Bay, settle into your accommodation before heading out to explore. You may wish to take a stroll along the sandy beach or walk along the dramatic cliff tops, looking out for sightings of whales (July - November) and dolphins offshore.
DAY 8: PLETTENBERG BAY
The high mountains of the Garden Route run parallel to the coast and collect most of the winter rainfall that the Cape region receives. The rains cascade down the precipitous slopes, forming fast flowing streams and rivers that carve deep gorges through the stands of indigenous forest before eventually meeting the Indian Ocean. Make your way to the Tsitsikamma National Park. On arrival you will leave the heights and get down to sea level. This will allow you to see and experience the coast from an entirely different perspective. Led by enthusiastic guides, you will paddle a kayak from the open ocean to the Storms River mouth and onward, passing under its photogenic suspension bridge. The upper reaches of the river gorge are explored by lilo, which are better able to navigate the shallower waters. All around you, the overhanging cliffs are draped with foliage, creating a cathedral-like stillness punctuated only by the burble of the river as it flows around gigantic boulders.
DAY 9: PLETTENBERG BAY
Join a small group cruise around the Featherbed Nature Reserve, led by a knowledgeable guide who can tell you more about this privately owned nature reserve and point out its wildlife. The reserve, dominated by milkwood forest, covers much of the western Knysna Head, and affords wonderful views of the lagoon and ocean. Keep a lookout for Knysna loerie, blue crane and the blue duiker, a tiny antelope found in the area.
DAY 10: EASTERN CAPE GAME AREAS
This morning you drive for around three hours from Plettenberg to Amakhala Game Reserve. After settling into your lodge, this afternoon you embark on your first game drive in the park with a knowledgeable guide, who can help track wildlife and tell you more about each species.
DAY 11: EASTERN CAPE GAME AREAS
Today you are at leisure on safari. There are 2 game drives a day, one in the early morning and the second in the late afternoon. After your morning game drive, you will arrive back at the lodge to eat a scrumptious breakfast. The rest of the day you have at leisure until the afternoon for your second drive, part of which will be at night - a chance to see some nocturnal animals.
DAY 12: EASTERN CAPE GAME AREAS
Today you have another full day on safari. During your stay, you could also partake in a river cruise at Amakhala allowing you to view wildlife from a very different perspective.
DAY 13: RETURN HOME
After your morning game drive and breakfast, you will drive out of the game reserve to Port Elizabeth Airport. Fly to Johannesburg to connect to your flight back home.
7 NIGHT EUROPE RIVERS & CASTLES CRUISE
DAY 1: EMBARKATION – NUREMBERG, GERMANY
Embark your cruise in Nuremberg. Tonight, meet your fellow passengers on board.
DAY 2: BAMBERG
Bamberg has been referred to as “Franconian Rome” as, like Rome, it was built on seven hills—but in Bamberg, a church graces each one. Bamberg’s medieval and Baroque architecture has withstood the test of time and, as such, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join a guided walking tour of this medieval gem where you’ll see its cathedral, Old Town Hall and elegant old mansions, and afterwards, indulge in the town’s famous smoked beer, Rauchbier. Later, enjoy free time in Volkach.
DAY 3: VOLKACH – WÜRZBURG – KITZINGEN
Enjoy a walking tour of Volkach with many historic sites such as the church of St. Bartholomew built 700 years ago, the Maria Immaculata Well built in 1480, and the Maria im Weingarten, a pilgrimage church built in the 1300s. Alternatively, you can go on a full-day excursion to Rothenburg, Germany’s best-preserved walled town located on the Romantic Road. Later in the day, and for those not going to Rothenburg, visit Würzburg, a beautiful city bursting with Baroque splendor. While here, you can go on a city tour or visit Würzburg’s Baroque Residenz Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features an opulent interior, including a grand fresco by Tiepolo. If you prefer a more active adventure, take a guided bike ride from Volkach to Kitzingen.
DAY 4: WERTHEIM
Wertheim's old town center still features half-timbered houses and the Gothic architecture of the Stiftskirche, its oldest Protestant church. You may either join a guided walking tour through the historic city center or learn the art of pretzel making with a visit to a local bakery. For those seeking a more active adventure, take a scenic bike ride through the Main River Valley or hike high above the town for a visit to the castle, one of the most picturesque ruins in Germany.
DAY 5: MAINZ – RÜDESHEIM – RHINE GORGE – LAHNSTEIN
Arrive in Mainz, located at the confluence of the Main and Rhine rivers. Join a walking tour of Mainz, home to many historic treasures, including one of Germany’s most important churches, the Romanesque cathedral and the Chagall stained-glass windows depicting scriptural scenes in stunning blue, which you will get to see. For a more active adventure, go on a guided bike tour from Mainz to Rüdesheim. During the afternoon, you’ll travel by motorcoach to Rüdesheim, where you can visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, or take a ride over the vineyards of Rüdesheim in a gondola to the Niederwald Monument, and then afterwards be treated to a wine tasting. Later in the day, set sail towards Lahnstein through the Rhine River Gorge, famous for its beautiful and imposing castles. Cap the day off with a visit to Lahneck Castle.
DAY 6: COCHEM – ZELL
Wake up in fairytale Cochem and visit the Reichsburg Castle followed by a walking tour. As an alternative, visit one of Europe’s oldest working mustard mills where you will sample Cochem’s famous mustard. You may also opt to take a guided bike tour along the captivating Moselle River. Later cruise to Zell, famous for their Riesling and the well-known arched black cat icon, often seen on the labels of local German wines. Experience the hospitality of the citizens of Zell, including the local Wine Queen and Mayor, at an exclusive wine festival where you’ll sample local wines, sausages and more.
DAY 7: TRIER
Enjoy a scenic cruise along the Moselle to Trier, Germany’s oldest city, renowned for its rich ancient Roman past, and as such has been referred to as the “Rome of the North” or “Second Rome” as it has impressive Roman relics and nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Join a guided tour of the city, including the old Roman amphitheater, Roman Baths and Basilica of Constantine. Alternatively, go in search of the secrets of the Porta Nigra Gate, dating back to 180 A.D. on a tour that takes you back to a time when Rome ruled the world from the Emperor’s seat in Trier. You also have the choice of a bike tour through the historic city center and along the Moselle River; or hike high above Trier to Petrisberg.
DAY 8: LUXEMBOURG – DISEMBARKATION
This morning, bid farewell to your luxurious river cruise ship.
8 DAY DANUBE RIVER CRUISE –
BUDAPEST, AUSTRIA & GERMANY
DAY 1: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Welcome to Budapest, capital of Hungary. Transfer to your ship from the airport.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or do a bit of exploring. After dinner on board tonight, enjoy an evening cruise on your ship to admire Budapest’s beautiful scenery from the vantage point of the Danube River.
DAY 2: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Today we visit highlights of the hilly Buda and cosmopolitan Pest sides of the city, starting with Pest’s National Opera House and historic Heroes’ Square. In Buda, walk along Castle Hill to Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Enjoy lunch on board your ship; the rest of the day is yours to explore the city. You may choose to join us on an optional excursion to experience the thermal springs, restorative natural spas whose waters locals have bathed in for centuries. Or, perhaps select another of our optional excursions designed to allow you to delve deeper into the history, culture and cuisine of this fascinating city. Return to your ship for dinner and evening departure.
DAY 3: BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA
Arrive in Bratislava this afternoon and embark on a walking tour of Slovakia’s charming capital with a long and fascinating history. It is the only national capital that borders two other countries, Austria and Hungary. See attractions like the medieval Town Hall complex and fortifications at Michael’s Tower, the baroque Jesuit Church and Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral, and pass by several Hapsburg-era baroque palaces before returning to your ship. This evening you can relax or take a walk before our late departure.
DAY 4: VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Today we tour the Austrian capital of Vienna. Ride along the Ringstrasse, which replaced the city walls in the mid-19th century. See some of the city’s baroque architecture, including the world-famous Opera House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace. Return to your ship for lunch. The rest of the day is yours to further explore. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Or you may take an optional tour to Schönbrunn Palace, the “Versailles of Vienna,” erected in 1778 and graced by a number of formal gardens, Grecian statuary, the world’s oldest zoo and Roman ruins. After dinner, relax or enjoy an optional classical concert. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: KREMS, AUSTRIA
Today’s highlight is an exclusive visit of the splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig, a working monastery for more than 900 years. Participate in an exclusive visitor program at Göttweig, created to provide an understanding of the daily business of the venerable institution. You may also take an invigorating bicycle ride through the Wachau Valley before returning to your ship. This afternoon, enjoy scenic sailing as we cruise toward Linz.
DAY 6: LINZ, AUSTRIA
Wake up in Linz this morning and set off on an all-day excursion to the beautiful Bohemian town of Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ride through the scenic Czech countryside and take a walking tour featuring the lovely historic center of the city with many baroque and Renaissance buildings, dating back hundreds of years. You have some free time to enjoy Krumlov’s charming streets, filled with cafés, shops, galleries and pubs. Maybe stop for lunch in one of the many local restaurants. Return on board for dinner and a late-evening departure.
DAY 7: PASSAU, GERMANY
Arrive this morning in Passau, at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. Your guided walk along the town’s narrow streets takes you through Old Town and past traditional patrician houses. Admire the New Bishop’s Residence and visit the impressive baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its ornate interior. Inside, you are treated to a special concert played on the 17,000-pipe organ, considered Europe’s largest church organ.† Enjoy an onboard lunch, but return to the city to further explore on your own before dinner.
DAY 8: PASSAU, GERMANY
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the Munich airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your journey with 3 additional nights in the breathtaking Czech capital of Prague.
8 DAY FLAVORS OF PORTUGAL & SPAIN DOURO RIVER CRUISE
On our cruises, you will enjoy an extensive lineup of included tours. In many cases, you will have a choice of excursions, such as standard tours, hikes and Special Interest Tours. We always include a large variety of activities so that you can choose how you want to explore. No matter your preference, your days will be full of discovery and wonder.
DAY 1: EMBARKATION – PORTO, PORTUGAL
Embark your luxurious ship in Porto. This evening, meet your fellow passengers.
DAY 2: PORTO
Join a guided tour of Porto’s historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll see the Cathedral, one of the city’s oldest monuments; the main square, ringed with shops and cafes; and the São Bento Railway Station, known for its blue and white tile panels depicting scenes from Portuguese history. You’ll also enjoy a tasting of port, Portugal’s most renowned contribution to the world of wine. For the more active adventure, join a hike in Porto and explore the old harbor quarter, passing through the medieval streets of Porto.
DAY 3: PORTO – ENTRE-OS-RIOS
After free time further exploring the colorful “City of Bridges,” the ship will sail to Entre-Os-Rios, where you’ll go to dinner at the centuries-old Alpendurada Monastery. Savor a pre-dinner glass of Port and the breathtaking view of the river from the terrace of the monastery before having a traditional “home cooked” meal.
DAY 4: RÉGUA
Enjoy an excursion to the Palacio de Mateus, located in the beautiful region of Trás-os-Montes near the city of Vila Real. The interior of the house features various religious images and exquisite furniture, artwork and hand-wooden ceilings. The exterior is equally stunning, with gardens that are among the most beautiful in all of Portugal.
DAY 5: RÉGUA – PINHÃO
Travel to picturesque Lamego, home to one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Portugal, where you’ll go to the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies). The shrine features a staircase of nearly 700 steps, beautifully decorated with white and blue tiles, which for the more active adventurer will want to hike. Concluding the walking and hiking tours, you will have the opportunity to sample local traditional specialties, such as Bôlas de Lamego, bread filled with smoked ham; Presunto, a type of dry-cured ham; and Espumante, a Portuguese sparkling wine. Afterwards, you’ll go to the formal Episcopal Palace Museum. Later in the day, cruise along the scenic Douro to Pinhão.
DAY 6: PINHÃO
Enjoy an exclusive lunch at Quinta da Avessada, where you’ll enjoy an authentic and traditional dining experience complete with entertainment. The warm, spirited hospitality of this family-run Quinta is quite special as you will discover. Several family members play in a band, and while dining, they will entertain you. Quinta de Avessada is also a fascinating interactive museum commemorating the history and culture of wine in the Alto Douro region, so you’ll have fun discovering all the various stages of wine production as well as doing plenty of tasting. Later in the day, you’ll be treated to a wine tasting at the charming Quinta do Seixo.
DAY 7: VEGA TERRÓN, SPAIN
Venture to Castelo Rodrigo, known as the “White Village” because of its almond trees. The site offers spectacular views of the surrounding area and as far away as Spain. Join a walking tour through its medieval streets and see the houses and establishments with 16th-century facades and Manueline style windows. Prefer a more active adventure there, you can hike to the town. At the end of both tours, enjoy a tasting of local favorites, such as almonds, cheese, bread and wine.
DAY 8: VEGA TERRÓN – DISEMBARKATION
Disembark your cruise in Vega Terrón.