This two-week trip takes you through South Africa and into Botswana, starting in the vibrant city of Cape Town where you'll go whale watching, visit the penguin colony on Boulders Beach, and tour the scenic Cape Peninsula. The luxury train Rovos Rail will take you across the country, stopping in Matjiesfontein, Kimberely, and Pretoria, and ending with a flight from Johannesburg to Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Sleep in luxury tents and track Big Five wildlife before transferring to Botswana and exploring the Okavango Delta with traditional mokoro boats and a hot air balloon ride.

Highlights

  • Visit the penguin colonies at Boulders Beach and go whale watching in Hermanus
  • Ride through South Africa aboard the luxury Rovos Rail
  • Explore the small, historic towns of Kimberely and Matjiesfontein
  • Sleep in luxury tents and track the Big Five at Sabi Sand Game Reserve
  • Enjoy a hot air balloon ride above the Okavango Delta

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town - Enjoy the city Cape Town
Day 2 Enjoy a tour of Cape Peninsula - Visit the penguins at Boulders Beach Cape Town
Day 3 Go whale watching near Hermanus and Walker Bay Cape Town
Day 4 Board the Rovos Rail - Visit the Victorian town of Matjiesfontein Pretoria
Day 5 Continue on Rovos Rail and stop in the town of Kimberely Pretoria
Day 6 Settle into your historic guesthouse in Pretoria and explore the city Pretoria
Day 7 Arrive at Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve - Enjoy a safari Sabi Sands Reserve
Day 8 Discover the Big Five on morning and evening safaris Sabi Sands Reserve
Day 9 Track the Big Five species and more - Relax at your private pool Sabi Sands Reserve
Day 10 Fly to Johannesburg - Relax at the hotel or explore the city Johannesburg
Day 11 Fly to the Okavango Delta in Botswana Okavango Delta
Day 12 Enjoy a helicopter ride and/or a hot air balloon over the Okavango Delta Okavango Delta
Day 13 Little Vumbura, Okavango Delta Okavango Delta
Day 14 Depart via Johannesburg  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town - Enjoy the city

Aerial View of Cape Town
Aerial View of Cape Town

Welcome to Cape Town!

Upon arriving at Cape Town International Airport, your private driver will transfer you to your accommodation at the Cape Grace Hotel. Situated on a private quay between Cape Town’s bustling V&A Waterfront and the tranquil yacht marina, the hotel is an excellent place to experience the natural beauty and vibrant energy of the city. After settling into your room, feel free to rest at the hotel, enjoying the mountain and sea views or relaxing at the spa. Although you'll explore Cape Town over the next couple of days, you can also spend your first afternoon discovering the city.

Resting at the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic oceans, and sandwiched between the slopes of the iconic Table Mountain and the sapphire waters of Table Bay, the city of Cape Town is bustling with activity. You can enjoy its buzzy harbor, stroll along its beaches, or escape into nature and hike in the surrounding mountainous, filled with diverse flora and fauna. If you prefer to stay within your neighborhood, there's plenty to do at the V&A Waterfront, including shopping, exploring the marina, visiting a museum, and riding the Ferris wheel.

In the late afternoon, you can return to your hotel to enjoy personalized experiences, such as sumptuous tasting menus for dinner, rare whiskey pairings, and indulgent Afternoon Teas.

Day 2: Enjoy a tour of Cape Peninsula - Visit the penguins at Boulders Beach

The Penguins of Boulders Beach
The Penguins of Boulders Beach

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll explore Cape Town's most scenic area, the Cape Peninsula. Extending into the Atlantic, the rugged Cape Peninsula marks the southwesternmost point of the African continent. It features white-sand beaches met by craggy mountains, as well as little coastal towns. Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope can be found along the southern end of the peninsula, while the northern tip is crowned by the world-famous Table Mountain which towers over the city.

To start, you'll head to Kalk Bay to experience the fishing culture, mingle with the resident seals, and try your luck fishing over the harbor wall with the help of friendly, local fishermen. Next, you'll make your way to Simon’s Town and Boulders Beach where you'll find the rogue penguin colony. Weather permitting, you can opt for an active experience, such as snorkeling in rock pools, paddling a stand-up-paddleboard, or kayaking. All activities will give you a unique perspective of the penguins.

You'll keep driving south to Cape Point, where you'll enjoy time exploring beaches and shipwrecks. Stop here for a gourmet picnic lunch set in a secluded spot. As you continue to explore the peninsula, keep your eyes open for the Cape Five, which include ostrich, baboons, mountain zebra, bontebok, and tortoise.

End the afternoon with a visit to the local Noordhoek Farm Village where you can all enjoy artisanal ice cream, then make your way back to Cape Town along one of the area's most scenic drives, Chapman's Peak at sunset. You'll make one final stop in Hout Bay, which was originally a small fishing village and now a popular suburb of the city. Enjoy your evening exploring the shops, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes. 

Day 3: Go whale watching near Hermanus and Walker Bay

Whale Watching Near Hermanus
Whale Watching Near Hermanus

Today's adventure takes you along the Garden Route and on a whale-watching cruise in the Overberg area near the small town of Hermanus. Situated 86 miles (140 km) from Cape Town and built between the shores and cliffs of Walker Bay, Hermanus has grown from a small seaside resort town to possibly the best-known place for whale watching in the world. This town is also famed for its natural beauty, with long stretches of beaches. Here, you'll spend the day tracking the Marine Big Five (southern right whale, shark, dolphin, seal, and penguin).

You'll start with a drive through mountain vistas, following Sir Lowry's Pass through Elgin Valley, ending on the coast where you'll enjoy a seasonal whale-watching cruise. Keep an eye out for these graceful mammals that frequent Cape Town's coastlines, particularly from June to November.

After your boat trip, you'll venture to the small villages of Overberg, perched on the cliffs above the bay. From this vantage point, you'll have a bird's-eye view of the whales, possibly seeing some calves. Make your way to the base of the cliffs to explore the underground caves. The crashing waves have carved a series of caves, featuring an array of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as ocean-filled rock pools. Enjoy an optional swim, if you'd like.

For lunch, you'll stop in the Overberg village of Stanford, then continue to Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay. This area is home to a breeding colony of seabirds and penguins. You'll return to Cape Town via a scenic coastal route with incredible ocean views at sunset.

Day 4: Board the Rovos Rail - Visit the Victorian town of Matjiesfontein

The Lounge Car on Rovos Rail
The Lounge Car on Rovos Rail

After breakfast, you'll transfer to Cape Town Station, where you'll board the Rovos Rail for your 2-night journey to Pretoria. Rovos Rail has earned an international reputation for its world-class travel experiences. Their exceptional train safaris combine some of South Africa’s most magnificent scenery with authentically refurbished Edwardian-style trains. You'll enjoy luxury accommodation, as well as all your meals, drinks, and full room service.

You'll depart Cape Town midmorning and arrive in the town of Matjiesfontein in the evening. Matjiesfontein is a remote railroad town situated on the fringe of the Karoo District. It's been proclaimed a National Heritage Site as the entire town consists of well-preserved Victorian buildings. You can enjoy the old-world charm of the Lord Milner Hotel, ride on the Old London Bus, or explore local history in the Transport and Victoriana museums. Other attractions include the Old Post Office, the Travellers Chapel, the Railway Station, and the picturesque Pink Church.

Later in the evening, you'll depart in time to settle back into your train accommodation for dinner.

Day 5: Continue on Rovos Rail and stop in the town of Kimberely

The Big Hole in Kimberely
The Big Hole in Kimberley

Today you'll continue to Kimberley, a picturesque little town known as the first settlement to install electric street lights in the southern hemisphere. It's currently the capital and largest city of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. Kimberley is renowned for the Big Hole, which is the largest man-made excavation in the world.

Kimberley was an important township during the Anglo-Boer War when it was besieged by the Boers. You'll arrive in the town in the afternoon, giving you time to explore the most famous battle sites of the war. You can also visit some museums, such as the Mine Museum and the William Humphreys Art Gallery.

You'll depart in the late afternoon and continue your train journey to Pretoria. Enjoy drinks, dinner, and relaxation onboard.

Day 6: Settle into your historic guesthouse in Pretoria and explore the city

City Hall in Pretoria
City Hall in Pretoria

In the morning, you'll enjoy your final breakfast aboard the train, then arrive in the city of Pretoria by 12:00 pm. At the train station, your hosts will transfer you to your accommodation at the historic villa, Illyria House. This historic colonial villa is set in a garden teeming with birds and featuring a wellness spa. You'll receive your own personal butler who can assist you throughout the day. After settling into your room, you'll learn a bit about Pretoria and have time to explore the city.

Pretoria is situated in the province of Gauteng and functions as one of three capitals of South Africa. It's been dubbed ‘The Jacaranda City’, thanks to the annual bloom of the blossoming Jacaranda trees that line the avenues of the city. As you explore the streets of Pretoria, you can visit several sites, such as the Transvaal Museum, a natural history museum showcasing an ancient dinosaur fossil found at the nearby Cradle of Humankind. There's also the Pretoria Botanical Gardens, which offers a glimpse of different biomes, and the Voortrekker Monument, a National Heritage Site. Don’t miss the nearby Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary as well as the beautiful Wonderboom and Groenkloof Nature Reserves

In the evening, you'll settle into Illyria House for dinner.

Day 7: Arrive at Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve - Enjoy a safari

Enjoy Safaris in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Enjoy Safaris in Sabi Sand Game Reserve

After an early breakfast, you'll transfer to O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.  Here you'll board your flight to the Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit, Limpopo. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve to start your 3-night, all-inclusive stay at Simbambili Game Lodge.

Set within Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Simbambili Lodge includes luxury suites with sweeping views of the surrounding savanna, as well as a watering hole that attracts many species of wild game. Each room includes air conditioning, a private plunge pool, and viewing decks. The property also features an indoor lounge and a restaurant.

After settling into your room, you can enjoy the amenities of the lodge and experience your first evening safari. Adjacent to Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve is a premier game-viewing destination. As the first-ever private nature reserve established in South Africa, its landscape features 160,000 acres (65,000 hectares) of savannah-covered land interspersed with watering holes, dry river beds, woodlands, and the perennial Sabi and Sand rivers. You'll enjoy exceptional game-viewing opportunities with frequent sightings of the renowned Big Five, as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe, and a variety of antelope.

Day 8: Discover the Big Five on morning and evening safaris

Zebras Crossing the River
Zebras Crossing the River

Enjoy the luxury of your camp, as you relax on the breakfast balcony watching the park come to life. Today you'll start your safari experience in Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. To best view the wildlife in the park, which includes the continent's famed Big Five, as well as several species of big cats, zebra, giraffe, and antelope, you'll enjoy morning and evening safari.

The park's vast property includes savannah-covered land, which gives you excellent opportunities to view wildlife in its natural habitat. You'll also visit watering holes, dry river beds, Lowveld woodlands, and the banks of the Sabi and Sand rivers. You can also enjoy guided bush walks for more chances to see the Big Five.

In between safaris and in the evenings, you'll have time to relax and enjoy the amenities at your lodge.

Day 9: Track the Big Five species and more - Relax at your private pool

Wild Cats in Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Wild Cats in Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Enjoy another full day of safaris, bush walks, and relaxation at the lodge. You'll track the Big Five species, as well as other African wildlife, such as zebra, giraffe, and numerous bird species. Pamper yourself at your accommodation with an afternoon by the pool and lounging on the daybed. Then enjoy watching the watering hole from the viewing deck and nosh on one final dinner at the lodge.

Day 10: Fly to Johannesburg - Relax at the hotel or explore the city

Skyline of Johannesburg
Skyline of Johannesburg

After your morning safari and breakfast, you'll transfer back to the Eastgate Airport and board your flight to Johannesburg. Upon arrival, your driver will transfer you to the African Rock Hotel and Spa for one night of relaxation. Enjoy time at the restaurant and bar, in the gardens, or at the spa. 

You can also venture into Johannesburg, which is one of Africa’s biggest and most vibrant cities. It's the economic capital of Africa and the gateway to the southern region of the continent. Although not as famous as other South African destinations, there is plenty to do in Johannesburg and nearby Pretoria. The old city is a multi-cultural mix featuring excellent museums, art galleries, and organized tours of historical and political interest. Enjoy shopping in the city center or visit the nearby township of Soweto, which is Johannesburg’s most popular tourist attraction.

In the evening, you'll return to the hotel for dinner.

Day 11: Fly to the Okavango Delta in Botswana

Aerial View of Okavango Delta
Aerial View of Okavango Delta

Today's adventure takes you from South Africa to Botswana. After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport and board your flight to the Maun Airport where you'll connect to Botswana's Okavango Delta. Here you'll spend three all-inclusive nights at the Little Vumbura Camp.

This small, six-tented camp is nestled beneath the trees of an ancient island forest on a floating jetty. Connecting land with water, the property is rich in wildlife viewing opportunities. After settling into your accommodation, you'll have the evening free to enjoy the grounds, as well as the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. In the evening, you'll enjoy dinner at the camp.

Day 12: Enjoy a helicopter ride and/or a hot air balloon over the Okavango Delta

Hot Air Balloon Over the Savanna
Hot Air Balloon Over the Savanna

Situated in the northwestern corner of Botswana, the Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world covering over three million acres (1.5 million hectares). The Okavango River sprawls out over the dry sands of the Kalahari Desert, forming this flourishing oasis with countless waterways and crystal-clear lagoons, all studded with water lilies, fertile floodplains, and reeded islands inhabited with wildlife. You'll enjoy a number of wonderful activities, including game viewing, fishing, bird watching, and authentic, guided Mokoro excursions through the wetland in a traditional dugout canoe. Commonly viewed animals include lion, rhino, leopard, giraffe, hippos, elephants, crocodiles, and countless species of birds.

Early this morning before sunrise, you'll enjoy a hot air ballooning ride over the Okavango Delta, followed by breakfast and a 30-minute scenic flight back to your lodge. (Please note that hot air balloons run from April to August, but if you're traveling outside of this period you can still enjoy a scenic helicopter ride.)

These excursions flying over the delta offer a new perspective of the environment, giving you an opportunity to see, smell, and hear your surroundings in a completely different way. Ballooning offers an element of adventure, a unique feeling of freedom, and, in wildlife areas, often enhances your safari experience with additional possibilities for wildlife sightings.

You'll return to your camp in the afternoon for lunch, then enjoy a wildlife viewing experience in the wetlands.

Day 13: Ride a traditional Mokoro boat through the river delta

Mokoro Canoes on Okavango Delta
Mokoro Canoes on Okavango Delta

Start your day with a leisurely breakfast and relaxing morning at the camp. In the late morning, you'll embark on a wildlife viewing excursion through the delta using traditional Mokoro boats. These are dug-out canoes that can navigate the waterways peacefully, allowing you more opportunities to view the wildlife in the region. 

You'll return to camp in the afternoon and enjoy your final evening in the Okavango Delta.

Day 14: Depart via Johannesburg

Final Early-Morning Safari
Final Early-Morning Safari

It's time to say goodbye to Botswana. After one last early-morning safari and breakfast, you'll catch your charter flight back to the Muan Airport where you'll board your flight back to Johannesburg.

Upon arrival in Johannesburg, you'll catch your connecting flight home or onto your next destination.