Self-drive safari from Johannesburg (malaria-free safari)

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 9

From: Johannesburg

To: Johannesburg



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
Get a quote
or Call +44 1273 320580


Experience South Africa’s incredible wildlife first-hand with a malaria-free safari from Johannesburg, visiting Madikwe Game Reserve and Pilanesberg National Park. Stop at the ‘‘Cradle of Humankind’ as you drive north from Johannesburg, this archaeological site and cave system has unearthed several ancient skeletons. Next you’ll explore Pilanesberg National Park and spot giraffes grazing through treetops and lions stalking their prey through the bush. Visit Madikwe Game Reserve and take more game drives through the veldt in search of the wild dogs that make their home here. Relax in the bush lodges, watch some wildlife and take in this beautiful corner of South Africa.

This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.


  • Explore the city of Johannesburg
  • Learn about your distant ancestors at the Cradle of Humankind
  • Look for zebras and elephants in the Pilanesberg National Park
  • Spot rare wild dogs in the Madikwe



Itinerary in brief:

  • 1 night Johannesburg
  • 2 nights Cradle of Humankind
  • 2 nights Pilanesberg National Park
  • 2 nights Madikwe Game Reserve
  • 1 night Johannesburg Airport


Day 1: Arrive South Africa

On arrival in South Africa you will pick up your rental car before driving to your hotel in Johannesburg, where you will stay for one night.

Day 2: Johannesburg to Cradle of Humankind

Spend the morning in Johannesburg where you can explore at your leisure or we can book a tour for you exploring the township of Soweto. Here you can see Africa’s largest hospital, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and the street where both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have lived.

In the afternoon you’ll drive an hour to the Cradle of Humankind, just north of Johannesburg, where you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.

Day 3: Cradle of Humankind

The Cradle of Humankind is an anthropological site, where the bones of ancient hominins have been found, from the famous skull, nicknamed “Mrs Ples” and the 15 skeletons found in the Rising Star Cave. The name is due to these fossils being some of the oldest hominin bones ever found, some over 3.5 million years old. Spend the day exploring the site – you can learn about the caves and their contents as well learning about your early ancestors. It is a fascinating place to spend the day and will give you a glimpse into a time when apes and humans were starting to become individual species.

If you want to add a tour or a hot air balloon ride we can arrange this for you – just ask!

Day 4: Cradle of Humankind to Pilanesberg National Park

After breakfast, you’ll drive towards Pilanesberg National Park, where you’ll check into your lodge for two nights. The malaria free Pilanesberg is home to the Big 5 and a great place to enjoy some of South Africa’s famous wildlife close to Johannesburg. This afternoon you’ll enjoy a game drive, looking out for elephants and antelope as they make their way to the waterholes for a drink in the heat. Enjoy dinner at the lodge in the evening before heading to bed, ready for day looking for wildlife tomorrow.

Day 5: Pilanesberg National Park

Head off early for another drive through the bush, where you might spot nocturnal creatures like pangolins and porcupines  returning home in the morning light as well as giraffes and zebras waking up to a new day. Spend a couple of hours enjoying the park before spending the rest of the morning at the lodge, enjoying the pool and relaxing in the beautiful surroundings. Embark on another game drive this afternoon where you can keep an eye out for hippos fighting in the river and cheetah cubs playing in the tall grasses.

Day 6: Pilanesberg National Park to Madikwe   

Today you’ll drive even further north towards the Botswanan border to visit the Madikwe Game Reserve, a small area where a huge range of wildlife makes its home. Check into your lodge for two nights and enjoy an evening game drive through the bush as the sun sets before tucking into dinner underneath the treetops.

Day 7: Madikwe

Today you’ll spend time exploring the reserve with a morning and evening game drives, looking out for zebras grazing in the bushveld and leopards lazing in the acacia trees. Madikwe is famous for its resident packs of wild dogs and you’ve got a good chance of spotting these endangered creatures on your drive, as well as well as hippos cooling off in the river and lions sunbathing on the huge rocks. In the evening each out for caracals as they wake up to go hunting and warthogs as they retreat to safety in their burrows.

Day 8: Madikwe to Johannesburg

After an early morning wakeup call you’ll take one final exciting game drive through the bush before driving back to Johannesburg, where you’ll check into your hotel for one night. Why not head to Wombles for a steak to enjoy your final night in South Africa.

Day 9: Depart South Africa

Today is your last day in South Africa, return your car hire to the airport in time to catch your onwards flight.



The northern section of South Africa has a Mediterranean climate with a rainy season between October and March. There’s always a good season to see wildlife up here, whether you want to come during the winter months to see lions or during the mating season in February.

This itinerary is purely a suggestion, and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

What's included: 

  • Accommodation for 8 nights
  • Car rental
  • 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 4 dinners
  • Game drives as mentioned in the itinerary

Not included: 

  • Meals not mentioned above
  • Drinks
  • Fuel
  • Anything not mentioned above


8 nights in 4* standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

  • The Peech Boutique Hotel

  • Cradle Boutique Hotel

  • Bakubung Bush Lodge

  • Metcourt Suites Hotel


Request a quote