- See curious penguins at play on the Cape Peninsula's Boulders Beach
- Take a wild sandboarding ride down the slopes of Atlantis Dunes
- Learn how to track and find game at Gondwana Reserve's Junior Ranger program
- Visit monkeys, birds, and big cats at Knysna's top wildlife sanctuaries
|Day 1||Arrive in Cape Town||Cape Town|
|Day 2||Cape Point & Penguins Tour, Botanical Gardens||Cape Town|
|Day 3||Mountain Peaks & Pirate Ships, Traditional African Dinner||Cape Town|
|Day 4||Family Day in the Winelands||Cape Town|
|Day 5||Free Day in Cape Town: Sand, Surf & Seals||Cape Town|
|Day 6||Drive to Hermanus & Explore||Hermanus|
|Day 7||Dyer Island Wildlife Tour||Hermanus|
|Day 8||Transfer to Herbertsdale, Gondwana Private Game Reserve||Herbertsdale|
|Day 9||Gondwana Junior Ranger Program||Herbertsdale|
|Day 10||Explore Gondwana Game Reserve||Herbertsdale|
|Day 11||Transfer to Knysna, Knysna Sunset Cruise||Knysna|
|Day 12||Featherbed Nature Reserve||Knysna|
|Day 13||Wildlife Sanctuaries, Tsitsikamma National Park||Knysna|
|Day 14||Transfer to George, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town
Welcome to South Africa! Upon your arrival at Cape Town airport, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel in the city. After settling in, it's time to step out and explore! This port city, located on South Africa's southwest coast, is home to incredible nature, wildlife, culture, and history, with a diverse population evident in its colorful streets, wide-ranging cuisine, and cultural activities.
Start your visit with a stroll along the V&A Waterfront, a harbor area that is popular with both locals and visitors due to its wealth of restaurants, bars, shops, and cafés. Stop at the Two Oceans Aquarium, where the kids can see the incredible marine life of the region, or let them run and play at the nearby carnival area, where you'll find games and rides for all ages.
For aerial views of the city, there are helicopter tours that take you across the skyline and by the immense Table Mountain, a flat-topped mountain that is one of the city's most prominent landmarks. And if you want to learn more about the region's history, visit the Diamond Museum, which explores the diamond rush in South Africa. This evening, check out Strolla Restaurant and Bar for dinner, a family-friendly spot where the kids can make their own pizzas and get their own aprons and chef's hats, and the adults can relax with a beverage on their sunset deck.
Day 2: Cape Point & Penguins Tour, Botanical Gardens
Venture south of the city on an unforgettable five-hour tour down to the tip of the famous Cape Peninsula and the towering headland known as Cape Point. Throughout the trip, you'll be treated to stunning views of the Atlantic coastline as you pass magnificent beaches and picturesque seaside villages. This includes highlights like the upscale oceanfront area of Clifton, the lovely beach community of Camps Bay, and the charming harbor town of Hout Bay.
Your coastal drive takes you around Chapman's Peak and continues to Cape Point. Take a ride on the Flying Dutchman funicular railway from the lower station up to the lighthouse, a fun ride for the kids that offers incredible views. Afterward, head to the eastern side of Cape Peninsula to Simonstown and Boulders Beach. This sheltered inlet is home to a colony of more than 2,000 endangered African penguins. There are elevated platforms that allow you to view the penguins, or if you and the kids want to get even closer, rent sea kayaks and bob on the waves as you watch them dive for their daily catch!
Prior to returning to your hotel today, stop in at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world and set against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, the estate covers more than 1,300 acres (528 ha) and has several trails and pathways of varying difficulty. The kids can run and burn energy while the adults take in the peaceful, green surroundings.
Day 3: Mountain Peaks & Pirate Ships, Traditional African Dinner
Your guide will collect you from your hotel today and drive you to Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain, which overlooks the city. You'll have the option of hiking up the mountain, a trek that takes about four hours with a few steep sections, and taking the cable car down, or you can take the cable car both ways if you have small children who aren't up for longer distances. Break for lunch at the restaurant at the top of the mountain, or bring a picnic lunch with you. There are also some easy walking paths at the top of the mountain, as well as a gift shop.
Later today, take to the high seas in the Jolly Roger pirate ship, an authentic replica of a swashbuckling galleon. The young and young-at-heart will love seeing Cape Town and Table Mountain from the water on the hour-long sail around the bay. Return to the waterfront in time for a sunset ride on the Cape Wheel Ferris wheel.
Day 4: Family Day in the Winelands
It's off to the Winelands today, where you'll tour several wine estates and enjoy activities to suit the whole family. Your guide will pick you up early in the morning, with your first stop being Spier Wine Estate, located in the historic town of Stellenbosch. Experience an inclusive wine tasting with a selection of superb wines for adults and grape juice samples for the kids. The estate has expansive lawns, perfect for little ones to run and play, and for an additional cost, you can visit Spier Eagle Encounters, an on-site wildlife rehabilitation center featuring interactive exhibits and shows.
From here, continue to Middelvlei Estate, where the adults will experience another wine tasting and some delicious snacks while the kids are entertained with a play area, farm animals, and plenty of open space. A snack box is provided for the children, and adults can also choose to have lunch, with options that include chicken sosaties (kebabs) cooked on the braai, or outdoor grill, as well as homemade pâté and breads.
After lunch, depart Stellenbosch and head to the Paarl wine region for a visit to the enticing Spice Route. Enjoy a tasting of their flagship wines, coupled with a chocolate and confectionary pairing that the kids will love. Explore the estate, which includes a craft brewery, art gallery, glass-blowing studio, and kids' play area. This evening, your tour guide will drop you back at your hotel to relax.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Free Day in Cape Town: Sand, Surf & Seals
Cape Town is known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor activities, so make today all about getting outside and enjoying them! Start your day with a family surf lesson, where you'll head to nearby Camps Bay and learn the ins and outs of one of Cape Town's most popular sports. Lessons are available for kids as young as six years old, and run for approximately 1.5 hours. Regardless of whether you've never been on a surfboard before, or you surf on a semi-regular basis, the instructors can tailor lessons to suit everyone's individual needs. And if surfing isn't your style, you can opt for a standup paddleboarding session instead.
For a unique surfing experience, take a sandboarding excursion to Atlantis Dunes, just 40 minutes from Cape Town on the coast. This beach area is popular for activities like quad-bike tours and 4WD off-roading. Today, however, you'll be carving the dunes on a sandboard! Your guide will take you through the basics of sandboarding, then you'll grab your board and glide down the soft white sands that reach up to 164 feet (50 m) high. Adding to your exhilarating ride is the gorgeous scenery of this conservation area and its endless coastal views.
Animal lovers in the group are definitely going to want to take a snorkel tour to the nearby islets, home to one of the ocean's friendliest creatures: the Cape fur seal. Hop in a boat with an expert guide and head out to the islets, where you'll receive instructions and snorkel training before jumping in the water with the seals. You and the kids will be able to interact with the animals in their natural environment and on their terms (no feeding, please!) and see the seals at play underwater. After a half hour or so in their company, you'll return to the boat and head back to shore.
Day 6: Drive to Hermanus & Explore
After a leisurely morning in Cape Town, check out of your hotel, pick up your rental car, and drive to the tranquil seaside town of Hermanus. This is where your journey along South Africa's Garden Route begins, a 200-mile (300 km) stretch of coastal road that gets its name from the surrounding Garden Route National Park. The drive takes about two hours, and upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel. If you like, you can then stretch your legs on a walk along the town's waterfront promenade, which offers great views of the ocean and coast.Built along the shores of Walker Bay, the city is considered the whale watching capital of the world, with some of the best land-based whale watching you can find. The southern right whales visit the bay from July–December every year, coming from Antarctica to breed and rear their young. If you're here during these months, you're quite likely to get treated with close-up displays of the whales, as they often come to within 30 or so feet (10 m) of the coast, so tell the kids to keep an eye out as you walk! You can also hike up to the nearby cliffs and see the whales that might be farther out to sea.
Day 7: Dyer Island Wildlife Tour
This 2.5-hour boat tour is a blast for wildlife lovers, as it includes the potential sighting of the Western Cape's Big Five marine animals: whales, great white sharks, dolphins, penguins, and seals. First, you'll transfer to Kleinbaai Harbor, just south of the coastal town of Gansbaai. Upon boarding the boat, you'll cruise about 5 miles (8 km) offshore to the famous Dyer Island. This protected area has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) for the conservation of its many resident bird species, including African penguins. Adjacent to Dyer Island is Geyser Rock, home to a 60,000-strong Cape fur seal colony.After viewing the seals and penguins, you'll cruise the channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock—a foreboding bit of water known as Shark Alley due to the great whites that congregate there. Not only will you get to see some sharks, but you'll also spot some of the whales that call this area home. These include both humpback and southern right whales. Who knows, you might even get lucky and spot an orca. Afterward, the boat will return to the harbor, and you'll head back to your hotel.
Day 8: Transfer to Herbertsdale, Gondwana Private Game Reserve
Your next destination is Gondwana Game Reserve, a four-hour drive from Hermanus or a one-hour flight if you prefer to return your rental car here and travel via air. This is the only free-roaming private reserve in the Southern Cape that allows you to see Africa's Big Five game animals: the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, African elephant, and buffalo, so-named by hunters who determined these were the most dangerous animals to hunt. After you arrive at the reserve, you'll check in at your accommodations and have a chance to relax before taking a look at all the fun excursions here.
The reserve is part of the Gondwana Conservation Foundation (GCF), a non-profit focused on South Africa's threatened and endangered wildlife and vegetation relevant to the Southern Cape. Their active project includes the Rainbow Rhino Initiative, which sponsors anti-poaching training courses and establishing breeding populations, a Conservation Kids program, where local schoolkids take educational outings and learn about conservation, as well as conservation of the critically endangered fynbos vegetation.
Day 9: Gondwana Junior Ranger Program
Experience Gondwana through the eyes of the little ones with their Junior Ranger program! The whole family can enjoy interactive activities with a dedicated field guide, which includes learning about fishing and tracking, family game drives, and education on the animals here and the reserve's conservation efforts. The kids will all get a fun ranger's backpack and cool custom safari booklets to fill in throughout their stay. The program is complimentary for all families, and if the adults want some time to themselves, there are babysitting services available through the program as well.
Day 10: Explore Gondwana Game Reserve
Take your pick from the many activities offered at the reserve today. You can start with a family mountain biking experience, where you'll travel along one of Gondwana's four demarcated mountain bike trails. The trails are specifically designed to accommodate all skill levels, consisting of varied terrain that includes dirt roads, Jeep tracks, and technical climbs with speedy descents. You'll be able to see wild game along the way, as well as the gorgeous natural scenery.
You can also participate in the daily walking tour, which provides education on the conservation of the rare and endangered Fynbos Biome, and allows you to get a closer understanding of the stunning local flora and fauna on foot. And any birders in the family will be thrilled to know that they are likely to see some of the region's more uncommon birds, as there are a staggering 42 of South Africa's 53 endemic bird species here in the Western Cape.
If the adults are looking for something more relaxing, let the kids partake in more junior ranger activities while you indulge in a tented bush spa visit. The spa offers both in-room and open-air treatments, using products created from South Africa's native plants. Tonight, enjoy dinner at the reserve and rest up for the continuation of your trip tomorrow.
Day 11: Transfer to Knysna, Knysna Sunset Cruise
Continue to the seaside town of Knysna, a drive of approximately two hours. After you check out of your accommodations, you'll take a private transfer, or, if you still have your rental car, it's an easy self-drive. Often called the "Jewel of the Garden Route," Knysna is a popular destination with beautiful beaches and a peaceful lagoon where the Knysna River meets the sea.
Once settled at your hotel, head out on a sunset cruise. Sail into the lagoon and travel along the Garden Route coastline while enjoying refreshing beverages and delicious snacks. While on board, you can try your hand at fishing, go for a swim, or just sit back and relax. The boat also has standup paddleboards, which are sure to be popular with older kids! Return to shore after sunset and enjoy the rest of your evening strolling along the lively waterfront area and exploring the nearby shops and cafés.
Day 12: Featherbed Nature Reserve
Tour the privately-owned Featherbed Nature Reserve, a pristine piece of land situated on the western head of Knysna and only accessible by ferry. Depart from the harbor and take the ferry to the reserve, where you'll enjoy a 4WD driving tour and a guided nature walk along the forested coastline. See the stunning sandstone cliffs and let the kids explore the nearby sea caves as the knowledgeable guides share insight into the flora and fauna found here. Afterward, you'll be treated to a spectacular outdoor lunch buffet with plenty of food options for both kids and adults before heading back to town.
Day 13: Wildlife Sanctuaries, Tsitsikamma National Park
Today you're in for a real treat as you visit some of the most amazing wildlife sanctuaries in the area. First up is Monkeyland, the world's first free-roaming, multi-species primate sanctuary. Its mission is to educate and foster a greater understanding of our primate cousins and the threats and challenges they face.
After spending time with the residents of Monkeyland, you'll make some feathered friends at Birds of Eden. This sanctuary takes the form of a 5-acre (2 ha) dome that functions as a free-flight aviary. It's situated over a gorge in the coastal rainforest and is currently home to over 3,500 birds from over 220 species, with the main focus being African birds. Afterward, head to Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, which focuses on spreading awareness about the plight of big cats in captivity and is home to a variety of rescued cats, including lions, leopards, and Bengal tigers.
For those interested in experiencing more of the natural wonders of South Africa, visit Tsitsikamma National Park, where you can see the Big Tree, an ancient, 800-year-old yellowwood giant, and take a treetop canopy tour, traversing platforms that are built around giant Outeniqua yellowwood trees and giving you a true bird's eye view of the forest. And if you have any teenage adrenaline junkies in the group, they'll be thrilled at the optional zipline tours or bungee jumping at Bloukrans, the world's highest commercial bungee jump at a whopping 708 feet (216 m) high!
Day 14: Transfer to George, Depart
Your South Africa adventure comes to an end today. After checking out of your lodgings, you'll head to the airport in nearby George and board your flight home. Safe travels!
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