With 10 days in South Africa, you can combine the ultimate safari experience with the freedom of an adventurous road trip. Hop between Kruger and Sabi Sands for a packed itinerary of game drives and bush walks, spending your evenings in comfort at luxury bush lodges. Then it's time to trade big game for natural wonders as you strike out north toward the dramatic landscapes of Blyde River Canyon and the Graskop Gorge.


  • Walk in the footsteps of history and visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg
  • Spot lions, rhinos, elephants, and more on safari drives in Kruger National Park
  • Relax in style at the luxury lodge in Sabi Sands Reserve and embark on bush walks
  • Go road-tripping around scenic mountain landscapes like Blyde River Canyon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Johannesburg, Optional Activities Johannesburg
Day 2 Drive to Kruger National Park, Afternoon Game Drive Kruger National Park
Day 3 Morning Game Drive in Kruger, Free Afternoon Kruger National Park
Day 4 Drive to Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Day 5 Sabi Sands Big Five Safaris Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Day 6 Morning Bush Walk, Optional Afternoon Activities Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Day 7 Drive to Hoedspruit, Blyde Dam Boat Cruise Hoedspruit
Day 8 Drive to Graskop & Panorama Route Graskop
Day 9 Day Trip to Graskop Gorge Graskop
Day 10 Drive to Johannesburg, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg, Optional Activities

Visit the Apartheid Museum on your first afternoon in Johannesburg

Welcome to South Africa and Johannesburg. This is the nation's largest metropolis, home to almost six million people. Not only is this a great base from which to embark on excursions to the world-famous Kruger National Park, but there's a lot to do in the city as well. See for yourself when, upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up for the ride into the center of "Joburg" (as it's known to locals).

Then, you can venture out and explore. Even with just an afternoon, you can enjoy a few of the city's cultural and historic highlights. If there's time, head to the outskirts and tour the township (district) of Soweto. Or, stay in town and visit the Apartheid Museum to learn how those segregated urban settlements came to be. Then, after dinner, maybe pop in at a historic nightclub to hear live jazz. 

Day 2: Drive to Kruger National Park, Afternoon Game Drive

Hit the back roads of Kruger to spot Big Five animals like rhinos this evening

This morning, you're off to the world-famous Kruger National Park. Located in northeast South Africa, not only is this the country's first-ever national park (founded in 1926), but it's also one of the largest on the continent at 7,576 square miles (19,623 sq km). The options for safari adventures here are nearly limitless, which you'll discover upon arrival.

And half the fun is getting there. In the morning, you'll pick up your rental car, get behind the wheel, and hit the road for the 4-5-hour drive to Kruger. It's quite something to watch the city give way to Africa's famous bushveld (subtropical wilderness landscapes). This is a land of vast savannas and soaring mountain plateaus—so savor the ride. At the end of it, you'll arrive at your accommodation: Mjejane River Lodge. Perched on the banks of the Crocodile River and surrounded by thousands of acres of raw African wilderness, it's here that the paths of predators and prey cross, and you'll have a front-row seat.

You won't wait around, either. After dropping off your bags, meet your guide for an afternoon game drive. Spend a few hours in an open-topped 4WD vehicle prowling the park. This ruggedly beautiful savanna is home to 147 species of mammals, including the Big Five safari animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. It's also a paradise for birders, as the 508 species here include various hawks, eagles, storks, and parrots—don't forget your camera!

Day 3: Morning Game Drive in Kruger, Free Afternoon

Hop in your open-topped 4WD and set off early to catch Kruger's predators as they start their day

Rise and shine! Your day begins at dawn with a game drive across the African savanna. From an open-topped, 4WD vehicle, you'll set off again in search of the Big Five. There's no shortage of these animals, as the park is home to around 1,500 lions, plus tens of thousands more elephants, leopards, and buffalo. You also might see both black and white rhinos (though the population of black rhinos here is a mere couple of hundred).

You won't spend the days entirely in the car. There will be opportunities to get out, stretch your legs, learn about the local flora from your expert guide, and take tea and coffee breaks. You can also opt for a bush walk to hike around the savannas as your guide teaches you how to track animals via their prints. You'll likely see more animals in the early morning when they're most active (particularly at the watering holes where they congregate), but dusk is also a prime viewing time, so you'll have the opportunity for another excursion as the sun sets. 

Day 4: Drive to Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive

Enjoy prime views and comfy accommodations in Sabi Sands (photo courtesy of Umkumbe Bush Lodge)

Hit the road after breakfast on a drive to your next safari destination: Sabi Sands Game Reserve. You won't have to travel far, as this 494-square-mile (1,283 sq km) private reserve is adjacent to Kruger National Park (the two share a fence line). Like Kruger, Sabi Sands is renowned for its exceptional wildlife-viewing opportunities.

You'll stay at Umkumbe Bush Lodge, the reserve's first "glamping" experience. It's a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the rugged bushveld landscapes while enjoying modern comforts like air-conditioning and a swimming pool. But the location is the real star—sitting next to the Sand River under a canopy of indigenous trees, it's the perfect place to enjoy the surrounding wildlife.

Speaking of which, if you arrive early, sit down to lunch and choose from a menu of global favorites prepared with locally sourced ingredients. If you get here later in the afternoon, enjoy high tea and spend the rest of the day on an introductory game drive in an open-topped 4WD vehicle. During this excursion, your knowledgeable guide will reveal info about the area and its animals, which include the Big Five. Upon return, dinner will be served at the lodge.

Day 5: Sabi Sands Big Five Safaris

Sabi Sands is one of the best places on Earth to spot leopards in the wild
Plan your trip to South Africa
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Rise early and embark on a dawn game drive to see the Big Five denizens of Sabi Sands when they're fresh and energetic. There's at least one safari on the itinerary today, and you can opt for a second game drive later in the afternoon. While Sabi is renowned for its Big Five and one of the best places to see the elusive leopard in the wild, it's also home to countless other remarkable species, like hyenas, hippos, waterbucks, jackals, aardvarks, Cape porcupines, and giraffes. 

In between the safari activities, you'll have time to relax by the pool and enjoy delicious meals prepared by the friendly staff. You'll also want to avail yourself of the spa facilities, where you can enjoy a massage or wellness treatment to rejuvenate your body and mind. These treatments are often outdoors, allowing you to relax amid the natural splendor of Sabi Sands. 

Day 6: Morning Bush Walk, Optional Afternoon Activities

Immerse yourself in Sabi Sands' unspoiled nature on a bush walk

This morning, you'll explore Sabi Sands on foot on a guided bush walk. See the wonders of the bushveld up close as you explore trails that are incessable by vehicle. Your ranger guide will be there every step of the way, pointing out the exotic flora and fauna native to the reserve. Some interesting specimens, like African termite mounds, are often missed when traveling by car. A real highlight is learning to track animals by their prints—the way bush folk have been doing since time immemorial.

Relax back at the lodge for the rest of the day, spending the afternoon poolside or choosing a quiet spot to observe the diverse wildlife that frequents the shores of the nearby Sand River. Later on, you'll have the option to join another game drive or bush walk excursion at dusk, when the animals are at their most active.

Day 7: Drive to Hoedspruit, Blyde Dam Boat Cruise

Take a boat ride through the Blyde River Canyon, passing waterfalls and wildlife

You've seen Kruger and Sabi Sands—now experience the mountainous region beyond the parks' borders. Leave in the morning on a three-hour drive north to the town of Hoedspruit. Here, you can get settled in at Wild Blue Lodge, a tranquil riverfront property nestled in the Ndlovumzi Game Reserve. Then, transfer to the nearby Blyde River (which forms the famous Blyde River Canyon) for a river cruise. On this 90-minute boat ride, your guide will reveal fascinating info about the history and geology of the area as you make your way to the river dam.

Nearby is the Kadishi Tufa, a massive waterfall that cascades 656 feet (200 m) over dolomite rocks. The area is home to exotic wildlife, including hippos, crocs, kudu, and waterbirds like fish eagles and the African finfoot—so keep your camera close. After the cruise, you'll transfer back to the lodge, where you can spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying its many amenities and activities, from spa treatments to game drives. As evening falls, watch the sunset over the nearby Drakensberg range.

Day 8: Drive to Graskop & Panorama Route

The Three Rondavels are a highlight landmark of South Africa

You're in for a treat, as this morning, you'll embark on one of the most scenic drives in South Africa. After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the day's ride along the Panorama Route. This 99-mile (160-km) stretch of road in Mpumalanga Province abounds with awe-inspiring natural wonders.

First, you'll stop at Blyde River Canyon. At 66,585 acres (26,946 ha), this is the third-largest canyon in the world. Its soaring cliffs rise as high as 2,625 feet (800 m), much of it blanketed in lush, subtropical foliage. You'll also visit Berlin Falls, which plunge 260 feet (80 m) from a green valley over ocher cliffs down into a dark lagoon. Then, continue to God's Window, an incredible viewpoint overlooking a 2,952-foot (900 m) ravine.

You'll also see the natural rock pools known as Bourke's Luck Potholes. A real highlight is the Three Rondavels—huge rock formations that resemble ancient stone beehive huts. Here, you'll enjoy spectacular views over Blyde Canyon. The road trip ends nearby at Graskop, a vast gorge carved by the Motitsi River. After snapping plenty of photos around Graskop, you'll transfer to the nearby Angel's View, a luxury lodge perched at the edge of the escarpment that offers breathtaking views over the canyon below.

Day 9: Day Trip to Graskop Gorge

Marvel at the dazzling landscapes of South Africa before the journey home

Spend your last full day in South Africa exploring the dramatic plateaus, escarpments, and lush wilderness of Mpumalanga Province. You can craft today's itinerary to suit your own pace, but can't-miss highlights include the lift that takes you 167 feet (51 m) down the sheer face of the Graskop Gorge and the 170-foot (52 m) suspension bridge across the canyon. If you're feeling adventurous, opt for a ziplining or bungee swing adventure. Wind your way along the boardwalks through the gorge's lush Afromontane forest to glimpse waterfalls and wildlife amid a soundtrack of raucous birdsong.

Return to the lodge to savor your final evening in South Africa around the pool and catch a sunset over the gorge as you toast the final night of your trip from the lodge restaurant.

Day 10: Drive to Johannesburg, Depart

Farewell, South Africa
Time flies when you're having safari adventures, as this morning, you'll embark on your last drive. Leave after breakfast on the ride south back to Johannesburg, where you'll drop off your rental car at the airport and catch your flight home. Come back soon!

More Great South Africa Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to South Africa? Check out these other South Africa itineraries, explore more ways to spend 10 days in South Africa on safari, and learn about the best time to visit South Africa.


Map of Adventurous Self-Drive Safari in South Africa - 10 Days
Map of Adventurous Self-Drive Safari in South Africa - 10 Days