Discover South Africa's beautiful landscapes and wild animals on this 11-day adventure. Begin in Cape Town and tour the city and surrounding peninsula. You'll have the chance to swim with sharks or go whale watching and visit wineries. Next, head to Kruger National Park for wildlife safaris, moving on to Johannesburg before enjoying a few relaxing days at Thonga Beach Lodge. There, you can see wild sea turtles laying their eggs, and scuba dive and snorkel in the Indian Ocean.


  • Tour scenic wineries around Cape Town
  • Spot lions, leopards, and elephants in Kruger National Park
  • Enjoy a traditional outdoor lunch in Johannesburg
  • Witness sea turtles laying their eggs on the Elephant Coast

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town, Table Mountain Tour & Explore Cape Town
Day 2 Cape Peninsula Sidecar Tour or Township & Robben Island Tour Cape Town
Day 3 Shark Cage Diving Adventure or Whale & Wine Tour Cape Town
Day 4 Fly to Kruger National Park, Evening Private Safari  Kruger National Park
Day 5 Private Game Reserve Activities & Safaris Kruger National Park
Day 6 Private Morning & Night Safaris Kruger National Park
Day 7 Fly to Johannesburg, Soweto Tour & Optional Jazz Club Evening Johannesburg
Day 8 Fly to Thonga Beach Lodge, Afternoon of Leisure Mabibi Beach
Days 9-10 Scuba Dive & Snorkel, Egg Laying Sea Turtles Mabibi Beach
Day 11 Depart Johannesburg  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, Table Mountain Tour & Explore

Cape Town panorama
Cape Town panorama
Welcome to South Africa! Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Cape Town. This area has a long and complicated history, starting with the Indigenous Khoisan and Bantu people, who were the primary residents until the Portuguese and Dutch arrived in South Africa. Begin your journey at Cape Town's central terminal, where you'll take a bus to Table Mountain. From the bus stop, continue to the summit on the cable car for spectacular views of the city, mountains, and ocean.

Afterward, if you have time, enjoy a four-hour guided walking tour of the city center. Your first stop will be the Company's Garden, which dates back to the 1650s. Around the corner is the Iziko Slave Lodge, a museum dedicated to exploring the region's history of slavery. Nearby sits the historic Greenmarket Square, which has served as a slave market, vegetable market, and center for political protests under apartheid. When the tour is finished, end the day with a visit to the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, where you'll find a variety of fine dining restaurants and pubs with views of the ocean. 

Day 2: Cape Peninsula Sidecar Tour or Township & Robben Island Tour

Cape Point
Cape Point

Choose between two tours as you get to know the Cape Town area. If you're a nature lover, hit the road with your guide for a full-day tour of the Cape Peninsula by motorcycle sidecar. Stop at Ou Kaapse Weg mountain pass, then drive for about an hour to the Cape Point Nature Reserve, where you'll visit the Cape of Good Hope and lighthouse. Afterward, head to Simon's Town to see a penguin colony, then take a break for lunch at a local seafood restaurant. In the afternoon, head to the scenic Boyes Drive, then continue to the Constantia Winelands district to experience a South African wine tasting.

If you'd rather opt for a history tour, head to the townships on the outskirts of Cape Town. These urban complexes have roots dating back to the Native Act of 1923, which segregated housing according to race and reduced access to cities by Black residents. During the visit, you'll spend time with locals and hear their stories. Afterward, visit Robben Island. This notorious locale was once a prison, leper colony, and de facto insane asylum. As a prison, it housed political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. Tour the facility guided by an ex-inmate and visit Mandela's cell before returning to Cape Town. 

Day 3: Shark Cage Diving Adventure or Whale & Wine Tour

Shark Cage Diving Adventure
See sharks up close on a diving excursion

Today, you can opt for a dive with sharks or spot whales and penguins before visiting a winery. If you choose the shark tour, you'll meet your group in Kleinbaai, a two-hour drive from Cape Town, for breakfast and a wetsuit fitting. Kick things off with a pre-trip safety briefing and some information about great white sharks, then take a 20-25 minute boat ride to Dyer Island. Dive down to see the incredible animals close up from the safety of a shark-proof cage. After the dive, if the weather permits, take a quick trip through the infamous Shark Alley, then debrief with some soup and bread to warm you up.

If you'd prefer the whale watching tour, begin with a visit to a boutique wine producer. Enjoy a delicious chocolate and wine pairing, a menu jam-packed with innovative creations, and the chance to see clustering grapevines. Afterward, move on to the village of Hermanus, one of the world's best whale watching towns. Next, make your way to the tiny coastal hamlet of Betty's Bay, where endangered African penguins charm from the first sight with their tuxedo-like plumage and comical antics. Finally, turn west and head back toward Cape Town along a route considered one of the most scenic in South Africa. 

Day 4: Fly to Kruger National Park, Evening Private Safari 

Spot wildlife in Kruger National Park
Spot wildlife in Kruger National Park

Transfer to Cape Town International Airport, where you'll catch a 2.5-hour flight northeast to Kruger National Park. In 1926, this park was created by joining Sabi Game Reserve with the adjacent Singwitsi (Shingwedzi) Reserve and local farms. Within Greater Kruger, you can choose from a wide variety of accommodations, from rustic bush lodges and tent camps to five-star luxury all-inclusive resorts. No matter your budget, you'll find unique lodging in a breathtaking landscape.

Once you arrive, take some time to freshen up and relax. Unwind with a drink at the bar, go for a swim, or stroll around your accommodation to stretch your legs after the day's travel. In the evening, board an open Land Cruiser for your first game drive. This three-hour trip is an exciting opportunity to see African wildlife, including the "Big Five" (elephants, buffalo, rhinos, lions, and leopards). Keep your eyes peeled as you cruise around the park—your tour guides will use spotlights to help you scan the darkness. Top off the evening with dinner and drinks as you listen to the sounds of nocturnal bush life.

Day 5: Private Game Reserve Activities & Safaris

See leopards in the national park
See leopards in the national park
Plan your trip to South Africa
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Spend today enjoying the African bush with the help of a professional guide. They'll introduce you to the area's history and traditions while showing you around scenic locations and taking care of your safety and comfort. Wake up before dawn and enjoy some hot coffee or tea. Get your camera ready to go and put on layered clothes to keep warm before heading out into nature to look for wildlife. Enjoy a drive of about two hours as you search for lions, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, and gazelles.

Later, return to your lodge for a delicious breakfast and some relaxation. This is also a great chance to participate in any activities your accommodation offers, like hiking or bike rides. Enjoy a tasty lunch, then head out again in the afternoon for another round of wildlife spotting. As the sun sets, head back for dinner and drinks before getting an early night in anticipation of tomorrow's adventure. Keep in mind that some locations may have set times for game drives or walks, while others offer a flexible daily itinerary. 

Day 6: Private Morning & Night Safaris

Spot lions and leopards in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is home to lions

Depart from your lodge before sunrise. Today, you'll focus on spotting animals you couldn't find on your first few safaris—especially lions and leopards, which are most active in the early mornings. The park is home to 148 mammal species and over 500 bird species, so there is plenty of exciting wildlife to watch out for. Every safari is different, and Kruger has a large network of roads to choose from. Your guide will bring you to the best areas for the current season, giving you the highest chance of seeing animals. 

After a quick breakfast and coffee stop, continue with the safari and return to your accommodation around 11 am. Lunch will be served at your lodge, where you can swim and relax while enjoying the African sun. Later, depart at 3:45 pm for a three-hour sunset and night safari. Since the sun sets earlier in the winter months, you'll have the chance for a longer night safari during the winter, while in summer, you may enjoy a beautiful sunset. Around 8 pm, head back to your lodge for a relaxing dinner featuring South African wines. 

Day 7: Fly to Johannesburg, Soweto Tour & Optional Jazz Club Evening

Soweto Bicycle, Walking, or Tuk-Tuk Tour with Traditional Lunch in Outdoor Kitchen
Enjoy a biking tour of Soweto
Transfer to Hoedspruit Airport and fly to Johannesburg, where you'll enjoy a trip to the urban township of Soweto. Whether by foot, bicycle, or tuk-tuk, today's tour will whisk you between various neighborhoods. Learn about the seminal student protests of 1976 at the Hector Pieterson Memorial, and stroll down Vilakazi Street to see the houses of Nobel Prize winners Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Break for lunch at an outdoor restaurant in the community park. On the menu, you might find potjiekos (stews), curries, salads, and the South African favorite of braai (barbecue).

In the evening, you can enjoy an excursion to the Marabi Club, Johannesburg's premier jazz venue, located in the basement of Hallmark House, a modernist boutique hotel. The Marabi Club originated in the 1920s and '30s when Johannesburg's illegal shebeens (bars) were havens for disruptive political ideas and jazz music. Don't worry if you forgot to pack your most fabulous African outfit—just let your guide know, and they'll make arrangements with a local designer to furnish your dream attire.

Day 8: Fly to Thonga Beach Lodge, Afternoon of Leisure 

Lake Sibaya and surroundings
Lake Sibaya and its surroundings

Take a transfer or shuttle to Johannesburg or Tambo International Airport, then fly to Richards Bay Airport and transfer to Thonga Beach Lodge. Once arrived, take some time to relax and sunbathe on the deck or enjoy an afternoon coffee and cake before treating yourself to a pamper session in the resort's spa. Head to the bar for a drink in the evening before ending the night with dinner under the stars.

Days 9-10: Scuba Dive & Snorkel, Egg Laying Sea Turtles

Adult loggerhead eating
Adult loggerhead turtle

Spend the next two days exploring the coastal area, enjoying all Thonga Beach Lodge's activities. If you'd like, go scuba diving at nearby Mabibi Beach, with diving options ranging from beginner to advanced. A myriad of fish, dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles inhabit the warm waters of the Indian Ocean surrounding the beach. If scuba diving isn't your thing, board a boat for a trip out to the open ocean for snorkeling and incredible views. Explore the coast on a sea kayak, take in the sunsets from the decks, or visit beautiful Lake Sibaya (also known as Lake Sibhayi).

You can also learn about the local Indigenous people on a Tsonga cultural tour, go for a nature walk in the forest, or simply relax with a spa treatment. If you're visiting from November to January, join a nighttime beach walk to see sea turtles laying their eggs. Witness the culmination of an incredible journey over the ocean as giant leatherback and loggerhead turtles come ashore to dig nests in the sand and lay their eggs. In December, tiny baby hatchlings emerge and dash frantically to the water. Information collected during the turtle walks is submitted to the Ezemvelo Turtle Monitoring Program to aid in research projects.

Day 11: Depart Johannesburg

Johannesburg skyline
Johannesburg skyline
After breakfast, check out of the resort and hop into a 4WD vehicle to meet your transfer for your trip back to Richards Bay Airport. You'll board a short return flight to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where you'll catch your connecting flight home. Safe travels!

More Great South Africa Itineraries

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Map of Adventures in South Africa: Cape Town to Thonga Beach Lodge - 11 Days
Map of Adventures in South Africa: Cape Town to Thonga Beach Lodge - 11 Days