After arriving in Johannesburg, you will have the chance to explore the vibrant "City of Gold" including the many art galleries, markets, and historical museums. You will also take a township tour through Soweto, South Africa's "living museum" filled with rich history, before departing for Kruger National Park. A few days in Kruger National Park will give you a full opportunity to discover the reserve's thousands of wildlife species and unique heritage spots before you depart back to Johannesburg and visit Blyde River Canyon along the way.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a panoramic view of Johannesburg from the "Top of Africa"
  • Take a township tour through Soweto in a yellow tuk-tuk
  • Discover the Big Five with a sunset game drive in Kruger National Park
  • Come into close contact with wildlife at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center
  • Witness the breathtaking view of the Three Rondavels in Blyde River Canyon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore Johannesburg - Authentic African Dining Johannesburg
Day 2 Soweto Township Tour - Storytelling Evening Johannesburg
Day 3 Travel to Kruger National Park - Big 5 Sunset Game Drive Hoedspruit
Day 4 Big 5 Bush Walk with Armed Ranger Hoedspruit
Day 5 Full Day in Kruger National Park Hoedspruit
Day 6 Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center - Afternoon Game Drive Hoedspruit
Day 7 Scenic Blyde River Canyon - Return to Johannesburg Johannesburg
Day 8 Departure from Johannesburg  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Explore Johannesburg - Authentic African Dining

A woman does a handstand in a Johannesburg street
A woman does a handstand in a Johannesburg street

After arriving in Johannesburg,  arguably South Africa's busiest and most vibrant city also known as "City of Gold", your driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your accommodation. To get around the city, you can either use a private transfer, the rideshare app Uber or, where possible, the Gautrain. When deciding where to spend the night, you can opt to stay in Soweto: the township Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu once called home. Alternatively, you can stay in one of the city's trendy suburbs close to art galleries, restaurants, markets, and the city's busy nightlife.

Suggested activities include:

  • Go on a walking tour through The Maboneng Precinct. This up and coming trendy town is filled with art galleries, historical museums, restaurants, and boutiques.
  • For a bird's eye view of the "City of Gold," you can climb to the top floor of the Carlton Center. The top floor of this 50-story skyscraper is known as the "Top of Africa" and offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the dense cityscape, the outlying countryside, and beyond. 
  • Visit the famous Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. These gardens originally grew out of a large rose garden established in 1964 and expanded in 1969 to cover 309 acres (125 hectares).

Dinner will take place at Chief's Boma Restaurant. This 300-seater restaurant is located in the tranquil indigenous gardens and caters to all tastes. You can enjoy sundowners or craft beer on the deck overlooking the Boma Dam or meander through the Boma Herb Garden before sitting down to enjoy your meal and listen to a local African marimba band. This high-class cuisine restaurant boasts over 120 dishes including many authentic South African meals such as a "Shisa Nyama" meat grill, Koeksister, and Melktert. Other African dishes, including the delectable Moroccan dishes from North Africa, are also served. To finish off your evening, you can enjoy a glass of red wine or your drink of preference, while roasting marshmallows over the Boma fire.

Day 2: Soweto Township Tour - Storytelling Evening

Soweto's street art and bicycles perched along the wall
Soweto's street art and bicycles perched along the wall

You will have the whole day to explore Johannesburg. A driver will collect you from your accommodation after breakfast and take you to explore the famous Soweto township.

Soweto is a living museum filled with South Africa's rich history. You can rent a bicycle, use a yellow tuk-tuk or stroll on foot through the Orlando West area. Your local guide will lead a tour past some of the iconic township's historical sites as well as give insight into the different streets and neighborhoods you pass through. You will pass local vendors selling fruits, snacks, and African art—who you are welcome to support. Highlights of the tour include visiting the Hector Pieterson Memorial Site as well as viewing Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu's former homes on Vilakazi Street. There are numerous outdoor restaurants where you can enjoy lunch at. 

For dinner, you can join a storytelling evening that serves a traditional South African meal. This offers a unique opportunity to listen to real-life stories from people of Soweto who played an important role in South Africa's history. Freedom fighters, former students from the 1976 Uprisings, artists and musicians join these evenings and every month has a special theme. Enjoy a traditional dinner, storytelling and live entertainment around the fire and under the starry African skies.

Day 3: Travel to Kruger National Park - Big 5 Sunset Game Drive

A leopard perched in a tree in Kruger National Park
A leopard perched in a tree in Kruger National Park

After breakfast, you will depart Johannesburg and travel to Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park is South Africa's most exciting African safari destination. Steeped in legend and history, the iconic park is waiting for you to explore its vast landscapes and spectacular African wildlife. In 1926, Kruger National Park became South Africa’s first national park, when Sabi Game Reserve was combined with the adjacent Shingedzi Game Reserve and neighboring farms.

Depending on your preference and time allowance, you can either fly, self-drive or use a private transfer from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park. This article offers more information. 

The Kruger area has a wonderful offering of accommodation ranging from bush lodges and tented camps to 5-star luxury and all-inclusive resorts that offer unique experiences and will suit your budget. Upon your arrival at your lodge/accommodation, you will have time to freshen up and relax, unwind at the bar, have a swim or explore the reserve near your lodge.

After you have settled in, you can prepare for an exciting three-hour "Big 5 Sunset Game Drive" on an open land cruiser. While this is a thrilling experience, you can expect full comfort and a great vantage point on the safari vehicle. This game drive will take your breath away as your guide shows you various animals and birds set against the majestic African sunset. When darkness falls, spotlights are used to locate nocturnal species.

Your dinner will be an unforgettable Bush Braai, the perfect way to end off the afternoon. Your game driver will continue the night drive after dinner before returning you to your lodge or accommodation.

Day 4: Big 5 Bush Walk with Armed Ranger

A lion baring teeth in Kruger National Park
A lion baring teeth in Kruger National Park

You will have an early start today for the thrilling experience of a four-hour sunrise bush walk.  You will drive to a remote spot along the Olifants River where an armed ranger will lead the walk.

As you come into close contact with wild animals including the big five, you can expect adrenaline surges, but feel confident in the fact that the armed ranger will keep everyone safe. Part of the bushwalk will include tracking rhinos, elephants, and lions as well as observing the unique characteristics of the African bush. Your ranger will also give interesting facts and insight into fascinating facts about the areas you walk through and the animals you observe. We suggest that travelers wear comfortable walking shoes or boots and clothing that suits the weather conditions as well as bring along cameras and/or binoculars.

After returning to the lodge for brunch, you can enjoy an afternoon game drive at around 3 pm. Dinner will be served at your accommodation. 

Day 5: Full Day in Kruger National Park

Two lions in Kruger National Park
Two lions in Kruger National Park

Due to the sheer diversity of wildlife, you will need at least a few days in Kruger National Park, to fully experience everything it has to offer. After breakfast, you will have the chance to spend a full day exploring the park.

A qualified guide will lead you through the reserve and point out many giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, and impala. These animals also attract many lions and predators. The open-sided game-viewer allows excellent viewing and photographic opportunities. An amazing 517 species of birds can be found. You will also have the chance to explore some of the 300 archaeological sites in Kruger which date back to the Stone Age and have cultural artifacts from 100,000 to 30,000 years ago. There is also San art in different parts of the reserve and other evidence from the San and people in the Iron Age can be found throughout the park. 

Day 6: Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center - Afternoon Game Drive

A rhino in Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center
A rhino in Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center

 

After breakfast, you will depart for your morning visit to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center. The center was established in 1991 for injured and orphaned animals and birds to receive medical treatment.

Moholoholo offers a unique experience to all nature enthusiasts as you will have the rare opportunity to get close to some of the center’s residents including lions and leopards. Moholoholo's main philosophy is to spread awareness of wildlife and environmental dangers. In 2003, Dr. Ian Player nominated Brian Jones (who runs the center) for the Terra Nova Award. Moholoholo’s work has also been featured in many TV programs and series, such as ‘Wild Orphans’, which was screened on the National Geographic Channel among other places.

At around 3 pm, you will leave Moholoholo and drive to the Big 5 Game Lodge to enjoy another open vehicle game drive. The term 'Big Five' was historically used to denote the five most dangerous animals to hunt in Southern Africa. Fortunately, the term is now used to describe the most popular and exciting animals to view, whilst on safari in or near the Kruger National Park.

Day 7: Scenic Blyde River Canyon - Return to Johannesburg

Panoramic view of Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondavels
Panoramic view of Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondavels

Before checking out of your accommodation, you can get an early start and take a sunrise walk before breakfast. 
You will then begin the journey back to Johannesburg.

Along the way, we recommend heading to Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons on Earth with lush subtropical plant life. Holding some of the deepest precipitous cliffs, Blyde River Canyon is a great wonder of nature. The canyon also offers breathtaking views of Three Rondavels:  huge, round rocks that form part of the Panorama Route.

You should arrive in Johannesburg at around 5 pm where you will be dropped off at your accommodation (or the airport if you have a departing flight out). You can spend the night at leisure and relax at your hotel or opt to have dinner at one of the prestige restaurants in the heart of Johannesburg. 

Day 8: Departure from Johannesburg

Take to the skies as your plane departs
Take to the skies as your plane departs

Today you will depart South Africa with wonderful memories to hold onto forever. Your driver will take you to the airport from your accommodation.

Map

Map of Authentic South Africa: Johannesburg to Kruger National Park - 8 Days
Map of Authentic South Africa: Johannesburg to Kruger National Park - 8 Days