Thuli’s Kaleidoscope10-Day Tour

Kwa-Mahlanga, Kruger NP, Swaziland, Shembe Festival, and Kwa-Zulu Natal – EUR 1230 per person

Tour Itinirary

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Day 1   Atamela’s 10 Day Tour begins with an in-depth visit to Sandton and Alexandra, the richest and poorest sections of the city. Riding through the opulence of Sandton, you will see how the most well-to-do residents live. As you leave, you will immediately enter Alexandra, called “Alex” by the residents. You will visit two shanty homes and interact with the residents to find out how they cope with their extreme poverty and the oppressive living conditions — no water and very cramped space.

New Picture (1)This tour through Sandton and Alexandra, Jo’burg city center and Soweto will show in stark reality the inequalities that still exist. As you visit with the people, you will be amazed at how these two communities embody the freedom and reconciliation that was won at such a high price.

Then you will explore the fascinating “City of Gold” – Johannesburg, South Africa. With the stunning panoramic view of Johannesburg from the Bidvest Stadium at WITS as a backdrop, your local guide will relate the history of the gold strike that birthed a nation, the imperialism that threatened it, the discrimination that almost destroyed it, and the indomitable human spirit that saved it and made it free.

After a riding tour of downtown Johannesburg, including the famous Diamond Building, City Hall, and the Star newspaper building, you will continue to Apartheid Museum in preparation for Soweto visit the next day.

Overnight at 84 on Fourth Guesthouse in  Melville,  dinner at Nuno’s Restaurant.

New Picture (2)Day 2   You will experience another stark contrast of lifestyles as you ride through Diepkloof Extension, the rich suburb, which is home to many professionals and millionaires en route to the thousands of modest homes and shanties that make up the bulk of the township.

At the entrance to Soweto, an introductory briefing on how and why Soweto was developed will help you feel the deep connection between Jo’Burg and Soweto.

You will see some of the first houses that were built in 1904 and are still standing, as well as the men’s hostel built during the mining era for men coming to Johannesburg to “strike it rich.” The “gold fever” that gripped the area had a deep affect on families of every race and lifestyle; your guide will point out the evidence of its continued influence.

Throughout the tour your guide will share with you her life experiences, introduce you to her people, and you will finish your day with a warm feeling for the people and culture of South Africa.

Overnight at 84 on Fourth Guesthouse in  Melville,  dinner at Nuno’s Restaurant.

New PictureDay 3   After breakfast enroute to Pretoria where we will stop briefly at the Voortrekker Monument, a moving memorial to all South Africans who lived and died for freedom.We will then proceed through Pretoria, past the impressive and stunning Union Building, and then continue on to Kwa-Mhlanga, to theGodwana Musuem that will give you a perfect insight into the Ndebele Tribe history.

After this visit we will continue to the village of the infamous Ndebele artist, Gogo Esther (meaning Grandmother Esther, as she is referred to by many in her area) and her Art School, where you will have to opportunity to witness how the famous Ndebele art is done using a feather of a chicken.

Ndebele people are well-known for their geometrical artwork as well as their neck rings, both of which have earned them world recognition; in fact, Gogo Esther has won various prizes worldwide. The neck rings are standard dress code for the Ndebele and they will be visible throughout the villages, as well their distinctive brand of art and their crafts.

Then we will visit the Palace of the now King, who is actually my son’s friend as they attended the same school. That is how I got to know and befriend this Royal family. So King Mabhoko 111 is now reigning in his late 20’s and is the youngest king in our country. We will have access to the Palace as long as the political situation is stable.

His father King Mabhoko 11 had married several wives; his mother who was his first wife (Queen)is also a daughter of the late King Sobhuza 11of Swaziland. She has now returned to the place of her birth in Swaziland after the passing on of her husband(late King Mabhoko 11) and the passing on of her mother in Swaziland.We are fortunate to have been invited to dine with another of the late King Mabhoko’s wives, still living in Kwa-Mhlanga.

After dinner, we will continue on to our overnight accommodations – Gogo Esther’s Guest in Kwa-Ndebele

New Picture (4)Day 4   Early morning departure for Ngama Tented Lodge via Panoramic route. Frequent stops at places like God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, numerous stunning views of the Blyde River Canyon and Kruger National Park, and lunch and probably a little shopping in Pilgrim’s Rest (3 hours), which is famous for its restaurants and shops.

Arrive Ngama (1 hour 44 minutes) in time for an evening meal. Stay two nights.

The second day at Ngama will be spent doing activities such as Microlighting and a Night Game Drive. 


New Picture (5)Day 5   Early morning departure for Swaziland with stop at Maloltja Canopy Tour Zipline and then proceed to the Royal Villas (52 minutes) where we will meet Barbara Mabuza, who will escort us to Dinner with one of Swaziland’s Princes. Miss Mabuza’s sister is married to one of the Princes of Swaziland and so she has access to various Royal homes and knows protocol very well. We will also make a short visit at the home of the Mother of the King of Kwa-Mhlanga (also the daughter of the late King of Swaziland and therefore a Princess). Since we visited her family in Kwa-Mhlanga, protocol requires that we also visit her (with a gift from the group). (Personal note: Of course, she is an old friend whom I have not seen in a long time and she will want to see me as much as I want to visit her.)

We will proceed to Manzini (1 hour) arriving in time for touring the native village enroute to the camp of Bee Hive huts for an educational and enjoyable stay with village residents.

Overnight at the Royal Villas in Mbabane.

New Picture (6)Day 6   We will leave Manzini for Kwa-Zulu Natal. Arrive in Hlabisa, (4 hours 14 minutes) where Thuli was raised by her grandparents. Her uncle’s family still resides there and her aunt, Thembi Khumalo, will host the group for a village stay. Thuli will, of course, show us around her “homeland.” 

Night Dancing in Hlabisa 






New Picture (10)Day 7   You will leave Hlabisa for an early morning game drive in Hluhuwe NP. As you leave the park, depending on where the game drive ends and the time, there are options (marked with an asterisk in the list above) along the way to Eshowe: Battlefields, grave sites, and other landmarks of the Zulu wars, such as…

  • Ondini – King Cetshwayo’s royal residence reconstructed…Burned down after Battle of Ulundi July 1879…Open Air Museum &KwaZulu Cultural Museum. (2 hours from Hlabisa)
  • Gqokli Hill – 10 km south of Ulundi – site of epic battle 1818 between forces of King Shaka&Ndwandwe people – 035 870 2051 (18 minutes from Ondini)
  • Battle of Ulundi – 10 minutes 

New Picture (11)KING SHAKA LAND – On the way to Eshowe, there is a short detour through the heart of King Shaka territory and gives visitors a glimpse of everyday life off the beaten track. Meet the locals and have a refreshment break at a tavern owned by boxing legend Tap Tap Makhatini.

  • Take Route 66 towards Eshowe to P230 on the left before Eshowe. The first point of interest on this route is the imposing Mandawe Church (1 hour from Gqokli) which has panoramic views of the Mhlatuze valley and Phobane Lake. To visit Mandawe Church, drive along the gravel P230 for 7,4kms then turn left onto the rough track, which leads after 2,2kms to the church. This track may be impassable after rain, but if you don’t mind the bumpy ride, the excursion to the little church with its panoramic views is well worthwhile. The church is built with local rock and the steeple is in the shape of an inverted wooden Zulu milking pail.
  • Return to the P230 and turn left and just before reaching the prominent Tap Tap Liquor Store in Habeni, there is small group of trees shading the single grave of a British soldier buried here in 1888. The grave stone reads: “Erected to the memory of Private George Milne, D Company, The Royal Scots, who was killed by accident while on the march on the 19th of July 1888, aged 22 years. This stone was erected by his comrade soldiers.”
  • Tap Tap Liquor Store – Habeni(7 minutes from Mandawe)then return to Rt 66 and continue to Eshowe.
  • Siege of Eshowe – 23 Jan to 3 April 1879 – Zulu forces under Prince Du…. besieged Col Pearson’s column. British entrenched themselves around abandoned Norwegian Lutheran Mission and built earth fortification. Open Daily
  • British Military Cemetery at Ft Eshowe Kwa Mondi(13 minutes from Habeni)- Situated on southwest facing slope about 500 m beyond Ft Eshowe.

You will need to choose what you want to see according to time and distances as you are expected in Eshowe by noon. The Game Drive through Hluhuwe will leave you at the Nyalazi Gate. From there, you can travel to Ulundi and other battle sites. The driving time, without detours and stops from the Nyalazi Gate to Eshowe is approximately 2 hours. With the detour into King Shaka Land to Habeni, the driving time is about 2 ½ hours. If you keep moving, you should arrive in time for the tour and then overnight at the George Hotel – up early for the Shembe 

New Picture (12) Shembe Festival

Day 8  The Nazareth Baptist Church, popularly known as the Shembe church, is the largest of the independent churches of South Africa and a fascinating combination of Old Testament dogma, Christian and colonial symbolism, and traditional Zulu culture. The annual gathering, which takes place in October, marks a month of prayer, healing, worship and colorful celebration. Pilgrims perform hypnotic trance-like dances; married women carrying furled umbrellas and tiny ceremonial shields; bare-breasted unmarried women dance and wend their way through the gathering, also carrying umbrellas and shields and wearing traditional beaded outfits; the men dance and strut wearing exotic animal skins and feather headdresses; younger men wear pith helmets and gingham kilts. The sacred village, which does not exist outside of the Shembe festival month, literally springs up overnight. Hundreds of family-run shops appear, selling everything from food to clothing to Shembe icons.

Overnight at the George Hotel.

New Picture (13)Day 9   Depart from Eshowe, stopping at interesting sights along the way to the coast:

  • Inyezane(6 minutes from Ft Eshowe)January 22, 1879. British coastal column moving up north coast towards Eshowe attacked by about 4000 Zulus as they crossed the Nyesane River. Graves situated about 500m from road sign. Rt 68. Museum – 035 474 2281
  • Gingindlovu (6 minutes) – Eshowe Area – 2 April 1879 – Zulu attack on Chelmsford’s relief column on its way to relieve Eshowe. They were repulsed & Eshowe was relieved following day.
  • Ndondakushaka – Mandeni – Near John Ross Road, bridge over the Tugela River on R102. Site of battle between Prince Cetshwayo and his brother, which established the Prince as the heir.
  • Fort Pearson/Ultimatum Tree – North Coast – 11 Dec 1878 – British government presented ultimatum to King Cetshwayoizinduna (Sr. Reps). It was unacceptable to the Zulus. War broke out later…From Fort Pearson the British crossed Thukela River to invade Zululand.

  • King Shaka’s Grave – KwaDukuza…. – 1828 – buried here after assassination.

New Picture (14)All of the above are “drive-bys” on the way to Durban. The whole trip should take only a few hours. A noon departure from Eshowe will put you in Durban by 2:30. You can explore the waterfront and other Durban sights (you’ll be provided with a list of options from which to choose) before checking into your accommodation – Seaview Manor in LaLucia.



07AM flight to Johannesburg

New Picture (15)Day 10 By late morning, we will be on the way to the Cradle of Humankind/Sterkfontein Caves where we will walk through time – seven million years – and learn how the evidence unearthed in the caves strongly suggests that the place we will be standing is indeed the “Cradle of Humankind” – the birthplace of us all. 

We will end our day with a braai at a Rockville home with Jazz students entertaining, possibly joined by ladies from the large group, then everyone will be deposited at the hotel.This ends our 10-day Kaleidoscope Tour. As your Cultural Tourism Specialist/Tour Coordinator/Driver, thank you for the opportunity to serve you and to bring you closer to my beloved South Africa. 

Hamba kahle! Aufwiedersehen! Bon voyage! 


Price:  EUR1234 per person

  • Includes snacks in the vehicle each day.
  • Includes Tour Guide services, use of 7-passenger vehicle, and fuel for 10 days by Atamela Tours. Gratuity will be appreciated.
  • Gratuities, excluded meals, and alcoholic beverages are not included.
  • Entry fees are included where noted; other activities not included or marked OYO (On Your Own) are the responsibility of each traveler.