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In Search of the Big Five – A Small Group Safari

Home Icon 13-days from only £4,995 £4,845pp

Embark on an unforgettable South African safari adventure to witness the wild wonders of this diverse nation. Immerse yourself in the heart of untamed landscapes, where iconic animals roam freely amidst breath-taking panoramas. In an intimate group of no more than 18, join us as we traverse lush savannahs and encounter the Big Five – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo – up close. The Big Five are the most sought after, yet you will also see animals such as zebra, giraffe, hippos, an abundance of bird life and many smaller mammals too.

The lure of being on safari in Africa has captured the imagination of many a traveller. There is after all, nothing like the experience of hearing a lion’s roar travelling across the open plains. It is one of life’s great adventures. Days will fall into a regular pattern of early morning and early evening game drives, prime times for spotting wildlife. Yet no two game drives will ever be the same – each safari offering an incredible array of experiences that you will continue to share for many years to come. On this tour, the lodges we stay in are highlights in themselves. From sun decks overlooking watering holes to dining under the stars, these are accommodations that will make your holiday so memorable.

Take the opportunity to explore Africa further by extending your holiday with a three-night stay at Victoria Falls, with a guided walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Victoria Falls and a cruise on the Zambezi included; or add a stay amid Botswana’s abundant wildlife and make it a fabulous six-night extension to Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park; or visit Cape Town with a three-night stay experiencing pristine beaches to rugged mountains, world class cuisine and an incredible waterfront, the perfect addition to your African adventure.

SAVE £150 per person! Book one of our South Africa tours departing from September 2024 and save £150 per person. Offer ends 31st August 2024.

Day 1

Depart UK

In Search of the Big Five Day 1

Depart from the UK airport most convenient for you with British Airways at no extra cost. Your flight will depart from London Heathrow, with complimentary regional connections from Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Belfast.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Day 2

Dinokeng Game Reserve, 2 nights

In Search of the Big Five Day 2

Upon arrival, and after the usual immigration formalities, we board our waiting coach for our transfer to Dinokeng Game Reserve, and the fabulous Mongena Private Game Lodge. En-route to the lodge, look out for our first animal and bird sightings. Settle in to our accommodation prior to our first open jeep game drive later in the day.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks, and dinner

Day 3

Dinokeng Game Reserve

In Search of the Big Five Day 3

Wake early for a pre-breakfast game drive. Located in Gauteng, South Africa, Dinokeng Game Reserve is over 18,500 hectares and home to South Africa’s Big Five: elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and cheetah. Later in the day, join an evening game drive or join a lake cruise for an opportunity to see elephants taking an afternoon bath, and hippos playing in the waters whilst relishing the magnificent African sunset.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4

Dullstroom, Overnight

In Search of the Big Five Day 4

Following a hearty breakfast, we bid farewell to Mongena and the Dinokeng Game Reserve as we make our way eastwards into South Africa’s beautiful Mpumalanga Province. The quaint village of Dullstroom is our destination – known for its excellent fishing opportunities, panoramic walks and fresh country air. Aptly named, Dullstroom (‘stroom’ meaning stream) enjoys an abundance of water, marking the beginning of the Crocodile River and home to other major tributaries. It serves as a convenient stopover en-route to our next two game reserves in the Lowveld region of Limpopo. Our hotel for the evening is the fabulous Walkersons Hotel and Spa. Reminiscent of a traditional Scottish country fishing lodge, relax in beautiful surroundings with a drink prior to dinner.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 5

Makalali Private Game Reserve, 3 nights

In Search of the Big Five Day 5

Early risers may wish to follow the Walkersons mountain trail, which is almost fully paved for safety and convenience, and covers a distance of approximately 1.8km to the summit. The views are fantastic and a number of antelope species can be seen in the area. After breakfast we continue our travels as we make our way to the Makalali Private Game Reserve. Upon arrival at the outstanding Main Lodge, settle in, and enjoy a welcome drink prior to lunch. Later in the afternoon we meet our rangers for our first open jeep safari at Makalali.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 6

Makalali Private Game Reserve

In Search of the Big Five Day 6

Rise early for our morning game drive as we continue our search for the Big Five. Keep your eyes peeled for cheetah and wild dog, who also call Makalali their home. Makalali means ‘place of rest’ in Shangaan – and you can do that in style today, by the main lodge’s spectacular large crystal-blue pool, with its decking area overlooking the adjacent watering hole. Later, prepare for your afternoon game drive with accompanying sundowners. Enjoy!

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 7

Makalali Private Game Reserve

In Search of the Big Five Day 7

Rise early to join the morning game drive. Hopefully by now, we may have ticked off three or four of the Big Five. Perhaps the leopard is being elusive? Enjoy another relaxing day prior to your afternoon game drive. Dinner this evening is a real pleasure as we dine under the stars in Makalali’s stunning boma.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 8

Balule Private Game Reserve, 4 nights

In Search of the Big Five Day 8

Enjoy one final game drive prior to our departure. A short drive away, our final game reserve awaits. The privately-owned Balule Game Reserve is adjacent to and open-bordered with the greater Kruger National Park. Our home is the boutique Greenfire Game Lodge, which is situated in a beautiful natural environment, perfectly complimenting our safari experience. Become acquainted with this wonderful lodge, relax and enjoy an authentic home- cooked lunch prior to meeting our rangers and taking our first evening drive.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 9

Balule Private Game Reserve

In Search of the Big Five Day 9

Take an early morning drive. The rich diversity of vegetation within the Balule Reserve ensures excellent game sightings are guaranteed. In addition to the Big Five, there is an abundance of bird life and smaller mammals attracted by the riverine forest and open plains. Later in the day, we join our rangers for our evening drive.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 10

Balule Private Game Reserve

In Search of the Big Five Day 10

Whilst the big game is the undoubtable highlight of Balule, we can also look forward to spotting an array of other African wildlife, such as a variety of buck, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and over 250 bird species living amongst the savannah, riverine forest and wooded mountains. Whilst back at the lodge, view the river or riverbed (dependent on season) from the comfort of your own secluded balcony, in between game drives.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 11

Balule Private Game Reserve

In Search of the Big Five Day 11

The landscape and wildlife in Balule is nothing short of superb. Enjoy our last full day in this very special reserve and of course, Greenfire Lodge. This evening, after our day’s viewings, we join our new-found friends in Greenfire’s boma and exchange memorable tales of our wildlife sightings, during our final South African dinner.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner


Day 12

Depart Balule

In Search of the Big Five Day 12

One final game drive prior to breakfast and then it’s time to bid farewell to South Africa’s wildlife. No doubt we will have memories and stories to last a lifetime. We leave Greenfire and Balule as we make a short journey to Hoedspruit Airport in time for our flight to Johannesburg. Our onward flight to London Heathrow departs this evening.

Included meals:

Breakfast, and in-flight meals and drinks

Explore more of Africa…

Take the opportunity to explore Africa further by extending your holiday with a three-night stay at Victoria Falls, with a guided walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Victoria Falls; or add a stay amid Botswana’s abundant wildlife with a fabulous six-night extension to Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park; or visit Cape Town with a three-night stay experiencing pristine beaches to rugged mountains, the perfect addition to your African adventure.

Day 13

Arrive UK

In Search of the Big Five Day 13

We arrive direct into London Heathrow this morning. For regional UK airports, flights will connect via Heathrow. After two fabulous weeks our search for the Big Five is complete.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Departure dates & prices

 Departure date Price (pp) Availability Offer
 4 November*£4,995 £4,845ON REQUESTSAVE £150 per person
20 January£5,295 £5,145JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £150 per person
 16 February£5,295 £5,145JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £150 per person
3 March£5,295 £5,145JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £150 per person
 7 August£5,295 £5,145JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £150 per person
 9 October£5,295 £5,145JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £150 per person
 10 November£5,295 £5,145JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £150 per person

*Please note, on this departure, guests will stay at Chisomo Safari Camp, Karongwe Private Game Reserve on Days 5-7.

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

Single occupancy supplement

£1,000 per person if travelling in economy class, £1,950 if travelling in World Traveller Plus, £3,750 per person for Club World.

Flight upgrades:
British Airways upgrade to World Traveller Plus from £1,395 per person return, or Club World from £3,895 per person return.

Visa information
A visa is not required for travel to South Africa. However, if you are planning to Victoria Falls or Chobe National Park, visa’s for Zimbabwe will be required. For more information on applying for your visa and the associated costs, please refer to our FAQ’s page.

Important information
Our holiday prices are subject to fuel surcharges and the availability of flights in the lowest fare booking class. The correct price will always be confirmed to you before you book, and once you have booked, our Price Promise will guarantee there will be no further increases. For full terms and conditions see our Booking Conditions page.

So much included

At Distant Journeys, we offer a leisurely and flexible tour of South Africa with so much included in the price. Your scheduled international flights, overseas transfers, expertly chosen hotels, daily breakfast, experienced drivers, knowledgeable rangers/guides, and many amazing excursions are all included.

Flights with leading scheduled airlines

  • Return economy class flights with British Airways from London Heathrow with regional connecting flights available at no extra cost from Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Belfast City Airport.
  • All domestic flights within South Africa
  • Inclusive of all airport charges, security charges and any applicable fuel surcharges
  • UK Air Passenger Duty

Carefully selected hotels

  • Carefully selected accommodation in great locations, with all porterage and applicable taxes.
  • Enjoy stays at three wonderful private lodges, details of which can be found on the hotels tab

Many meals

  • Daily breakfast
  • Eight lunches
  • Dinner each evening

Unforgettable experiences

  • Morning and afternoon open jeep game drives across some of South Africa’s most revered private reserves
  • Stay near the quaint village of Dullstroom, known for its panoramic views and abundance of water
  • Dining under the stars overlooking the bushveld at Makalali Private Game Lodge
  • Up to three safaris in Dinokeng Game Reserve
  • Up to six safaris in Makalali Private Game Reserve
  • Up to eight safaris in Balule Nature Reserve

On the ground

  • Services of an English-speaking driver and ranger/guide
  • All overseas transfers and transport

100% confidence

  • Your holiday is covered by our Price Promise
  • Your holiday is fully ATOL protected

Mongena Private Game Lodge, Dinokeng Game Reserve

Mongena Private Game Lodge is located in the malaria-free ‘Big Five’ Dinokeng Game Reserve, with an 8,000-hectare private traversing area within the 18,500 hectares of the Reserve. All of Mongena’s chalets are well-appointed with private bathroom, tea and coffee facilities,… Find out more >
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  •   Official rating
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  •   Distant Journeys rating

Walkersons Hotel and Spa, Dullstroom

Set in the softly undulating hills of Mpumalanga, Walkersons Hotel and Spa gives visitors a heavenly experience and reassuring sense of Scottish Highland hospitality whilst unmistakably partaking in all that is South African. Rooms combine elegance and a rustic aesthetic… Find out more >
  •   Official rating
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Makalali Private Game Reserve, Makalali

Makalali Private Game Reserve is an ethnic retreat lying on 26,000 hectares of bushveld in South Africa’s north-eastern Lowveld. Makalali boasts ‘Big Five’ wildlife spotting, along with cheetah, giraffe, zebra and kudu. The Lodge is newly built, with air-conditioned en-suite… Find out more >
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  •   Official rating
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  •   Distant Journeys rating

Greenfire Lodge, Balule Private Game Reserve

The remote Greenfire Game Lodge is set in the 50,000-hectare, privately owned Balule Nature Reserve, adjacent and open to the greater Kruger National Park. The ecological diversity within the reserve ensures that good game sightings are guaranteed. Accommodation is in… Find out more >
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  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4-5
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Holiday Extensions

To make the most of your time in Africa, why not extend your stay after your Spectacular South Africa tour, with one of our holiday extensions? Discover the world Heritage site of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, or combine a tour of Victoria Falls with the delights of Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Victoria Falls Tour

3 night Victoria Falls tour from £1,595pp

Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of awe-inspiring beauty, described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 19th century as Mosi-oa-Tunya: ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. As Victoria Falls is only a short flight from Johannesburg,…

Find out more >

Hippo' eyes and ears poking out of the water in a river in Africa

Victoria Falls & Chobe National Park Tour

6 nights from £2,855pp

Victoria Falls is one of our planet’s greatest natural wonders. Just a short flight from Johannesburg, it is the world’s largest waterfall and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In neighbouring Botswana, Chobe National Park is a true wildlife paradise and…

Find out more >

Cape Town

Cape Town Extension

3 nights from only £645pp

Welcome to Cape Town, a city that effortlessly weaves together natural beauty, rich history and a vibrant culture. With the awe-inspiring Table Mountain as its backdrop, the city has so much to offer, from the colourful streets of the Bo-Kaap,…

Find out more >

Customer reviews  feefo logo

This is a new tour with the inaugural departure in 2024. This page will be updated with reviews as soon as our returning customers are contacted by the independent reviews company Feefo. In the meantime, please feel free to look at the reviews for some of our other tours to South Africa – we’re sure you will be impressed with the service our guests receive and the great reviews they kindly give us!

In Search of the Big Five – A Small Group Safari In Search of the Big Five 2024_25

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Distant Journeys has won 18 awards over the last seven years, at the British Travel Awards, and we have been awarded Feefo’s highest Platinum Trusted Rating for customer satisfaction.

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