- Gaze out over Cape Town from atop Table Mountain
- Walk among the treetops in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- Watch for whales off the rocky coast of Hermanus
- Hike through lush Tsitsikamma National Park
- Go wine-tasting through the towns of Route 62
|Day 1||Arrive in Cape Town, Bloubergstrand Beach||Cape Town|
|Day 2||Cape Town City Tour & Table Mountain||Cape Town|
|Day 3||Guided Cuisine & Culture Tour||Cape Town|
|Day 4||Fauna & Flora at Kirstenbosch Gardens||Cape Town|
|Day 5||Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Pensinsula, & Stellenbosch||Stellenbosch|
|Day 6||Stellenbosch to Cape Agulhas, Wine Tasting||Cape Agulhas|
|Day 7||Hermanus Whale Watching & Betty's Bay Penguins||Hermanus|
|Day 8||Shark Cage Diving Adventure, Overnight in Hermanus||Hermanus|
|Day 9||Garden Route Drive & Wilderness Canoe||Sedgefield|
|Day 10||Bungee Jumping or Tsitsikamma National Park||Jeffreys Bay|
|Day 11||Addo Elephant National Park Safari, Explore Jeffrey's Bay||Jeffreys Bay|
|Day 12||Oudtshoorn, Caves, & Ostriches||Oudtshoorn|
|Day 13||Wine Tasting on Route 62||Cape Town|
|Day 14||Depart Cape Town|
Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, Bloubergstrand Beach
Welcome to South Africa! Arrive at Cape Town International Airport and transfer to your accommodation to unpack and unwind. After you settle in, spend the rest of your day exploring the city.
Known as the 'Rainbow Nation,' Cape Town and South Africa have a long and complicated history involving a multitude of ethnic and cultural groups. The area's history starts with the indigenous Khoisan and Bantu people, who were the primary residents of the area until the Portuguese and Dutch arrived in South Africa, beginning a centuries-long occupation.
These days, South Africa is home to a diverse population. Roughly 80% of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry from a variety of ethnic groups, each with a distinct language. The remainder of the community is made up primarily of European, Asian (Indian, Chinese, and others from the formerly enslaved and indentured population), and mixed-race (Cape Coloured) ancestry.
After checking in to your accommodation, spend the afternoon relaxing and taking in the views at Bloubergstrand Beach. The area is a favorite with locals and visitors for its views of Table Mountain, and it's also one of the world's top kitesurfing destinations. Walk along the beach to see a handful of historical and cultural markers, and comb the sand for seashells and bits of sea glass.
In the evening, it's time for an intimate multi-course dinner, prepared by a chef in front of you in the open-plan demo kitchen. Explore local cuisine, then end the evening with dessert and a glass of local wine.
Day 2: Cape Town City Tour & Table Mountain
In the morning, meet your local guide in the city center for a 4-hour walking tour of the historic city. You'll explore the different eras of Cape Town and learn about South Africa's history, as well as the people who shaped it. Stops along the tour include the Company's Garden, Parliament, Green Market Square, The Castle of Good Hope, and the Slave Lodge.
The Company's Garden dates back to the 1650s when European settlers farmed the land to grow fresh produce to replenish ships rounding the cape. Around the corner is the Iziko Slave Lodge, a national history museum dedicated to exploring the history of slavery at the Cape. Since its construction in 1679, the building has functioned as a center for the bustling slave trade (primarily operated by the Dutch East India Company) as well as a government building and supreme court.
Nearby sits the historic Green Market Square, which has served as a slave market, vegetable market, and center for political protests under Apartheid. These days it hosts a flea market with African souvenirs and crafts for sale.
Just down the street is the Castle of Good Hope, South Africa's oldest existing Dutch East India colonial building. On the way, you'll pass by several memorials and monuments, including the We Are Still Here Street Memorial to destitute children and the District Six Museum, which commemorates forced relocation under apartheid.
After strolling the streets of Cape Town, stop for lunch in the city center. In the afternoon, give your legs a rest with a hop-on-hop-off tour aboard the distinctive red open-top bus. Start at the Cape Town City Center Terminal, then take the 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.
Return to Cape Town in time for dinner at the bustling downtown area near Greenmarket Square.
Day 3: Guided Cuisine & Culture Tour
Spend the day exploring Cape Town's incredibly diverse cultures through an international medium: food. South Africa's multi-cultural culinary influences are as vibrant as the communities where they originate. A lot of the food in South Africa is sourced fresh, so the tastings will depend on the time of year and season.
To understand South Africa's cuisine, you need to understand the country's history. From the indigenous Bantu and Khoisan people to the Dutch and English colonists, the formerly enslaved Indonesian, Madagascan, and East African peoples, and the Indian and Chinese indentured workers and immigrants, the country has a wide variety of ethnic and culinary diversity.
It was South Africa's colorful cultures that prompted Nelson Mandela, a leader of the anti-apartheid movement and the country's first black president, to coin the term 'Rainbow Nation' to describe the country.
One of South Africa's many ethnic groups are the Cape Malays, a name that's derived from the Cape of Good Hope and the Malay people, originally from Southeast Asia and the East Indies. The Cape Malays are the only cultural group of their kind in the world. Originally brought to South Africa from Dutch colonies as enslaved people, political prisoners, or exiles, they trace their origins to communities from India to Eastern Indonesia.
Multiple groups make up the Cape Malay ethnicity, but the commonality which ties them all together is the maize (corn) that serves as the primary food staple. You'll spend part of the day exploring Cape Town's Cape Malay cuisine, as well as others.
Start your guided tour with a walk through the Company's Gardens, established by Dutch colonists as a supply station, to sample Rooibos Tea and Rusks, an Afrikaaner biscuit. Continue to the Earth Fair Market on St. George's Mall to sample local treats from a variety of vendors, then head to the Bo Kaap, the colorful Cape Malay district, for a traditional Cape Malay lunch. Stop in and visit Atlas Trading, a family-owned spice shop that's been in operation since 1946.
From here take the city bus to the trendy suburb of Woodstock to sample craft beer and locally produced gin, then round out the day with a visit to an artisanal chocolate factory.
Return to your accommodation in the late afternoon to enjoy a free evening in the Cape Town city center.
Day 4: Fauna & Flora at Kirstenbosch Gardens
Spend the morning enjoying nature in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, one of the world's most exceptional botanical gardens. Set against the slopes of Table Mountain, this lush paradise houses thousands of unique species of indigenous and exotic plants. Walk along the curved steel and timber Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway (informally known as the 'Boomslang') to see the views from the treetop canopy.
In the afternoon head to La Colombe in Constantia, one of South Africa's several internationally acclaimed fine dining establishments. Enjoy a late lunch, a fusion of Asian and French cuisine made from the freshest seasonal produce. Pair your meal with the perfect wine from the restaurant's award-winning wine list for an unforgettable experience.
Spend your evening strolling along Cape Town's waterfront, or return to your accommodation to relax.
Day 5: Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Pensinsula, & Stellenbosch
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
Hit the road with your guide for a full-day adventure on this Cape Peninsula Tour. The Cape Peninsula is a rocky peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean at the south-western extremity of the African continent. At the southern end of the peninsula are Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. On the northern end is Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town. The Cape Peninsula has outstanding flora and fauna and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Cape Floral Region.
Start the day on Chapman’s Peak Drive along the scenic roads of the Atlantic Seaboard. You'll pass by Llandudno and Camps Bay beaches before reaching Cape Point, an hour away from Cape Town. Take in the views and enjoy the local wildlife (baboons, zebras, eland, and ostriches).
Once you've had your fill, head to the nearby town of Kalk Bay (half an hour away) to browse the local shops and stroll along the waterfront, then stop for classic South African fish and "slap chips" (deliciously oily and wrapped in thick white paper). Round out lunch with a beer at a brewery on the oceanfront.
In the afternoon head to the scenic Boyes Drive above Muizenberg—famous for its surfing—then continue to the Winelands district. Spend your afternoon in the historic town of Stellenbosch (located 45 minutes to the north,) South Africa's wine and food capital. Thanks to the university, the city has a vibrant culture and youthful vibe. Go for a stroll in the "Village of the Oaks" on the shaded avenues, following the creek which runs through town. As you walk through town, enjoy the views of the preserved Cape Dutch architecture.
Settle in for the evening and enjoy a relaxing night.
Day 6: Stellenbosch to Cape Agulhas, Wine Tasting
Set out in the morning for your three-hour drive to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. Your first stop is the Kayamandi Township within the city of Stellenbosch, whose bright colors stand in contrast to the stark whites of the old Dutch architecture. Hear local stories and enjoy tea or homemade ginger beer, accompanied by an array of regional Xhosa snacks like amagwinya (small fried dough balls, also known as vetkoek) and chakalaka, a spicy relish.
A short drive from here is Simonsig Winery, home of South Africa's first MMC (Méthode Cap Classique). It's a traditional sparkling wine made of 70% Malbec, 15% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Stop here for a tasting as you soak in the country air and the beauty of the Stellenbosch Winelands.
Your next destination is the postcard town of Franschoek, where you'll arrive just in time for lunch. Head to another winery for a traditional wine tasting paired with hazelnut, cranberry, or mint chocolates. For a taste of local cuisine, opt for a wine and biltong (cured, dried meat) pairing.
Franshoek boasts a multitude of small eateries, local farmers' markets, and 5-star restaurants, with plenty of options for every budget and preference. After lunch, stroll through the 17th-century streets to learn about French Huegenot culture and shop for knick-knacks along the main road.
Leave the rolling vineyards behind you as you head south to Cape Agulhas. Arrive in time for sunset and watch the sky explode into color at the place where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans collide. Spend a relaxing night on the coast, falling asleep to the feeling of the sea breeze through the window.
Day 7: Hermanus Whale Watching & Betty's Bay Penguins
Wake up to the sounds of the ocean and relax on the beach before hitting the road for the drive back north for the 1.5-hour drive. Make your way to the coastal town of Hermanus, an international whale-watching destination with a plethora of other activities on offer.
Over the years the small fishing community of the rugged South Cape coastline has grown to become one of South Africa's most well-known and loved destinations. The Voëlklip and Grotto Beaches offer unparalleled views of the ocean, while the Old Harbor Museum encompasses the former harbor, fisherman's hut, and the Whale House Museum. Stop here to see the suspended whale skeleton and other fascinating exhibits.
Begin your visit to Hermanus with an hour-long hike along the coastal paths to see marine birds and wildlife. Keep an eye out for right whales, especially during the June-November migration season. In the afternoon, choose between a whale-watching tour (in-season) and a guided sea kayaking experience. For a quieter afternoon, spend some time browsing the small shops of Hermanus.
Round out your day with a visit to the penguin colony at Betty's Bay. It's one of the few remaining breeding grounds of the African penguin, whose clumsy on-land hijinks are sure to pull on your heartstrings. Test your sightseeing skills to see if you can spot hyraxes (locally known as dassies) sunbathing on the rocks among the penguins.
Return to Hermanus to spend the night.
Day 8: Shark Cage Diving Adventure, Overnight in Hermanus
Get an early start for your full-day shark diving adventure. Meet the rest of your group at the Great White House in Kleinbaai, a two-hour drive from Cape Town, where you'll gather for breakfast and a wetsuit fitting. Throughout the day, you'll be accompanied by a marine biologist and an expert crew, who will guide you on the whole experience. No previous diving experience is necessary.
Kick things off with a pre-trip safety briefing, as well as a biology lesson on the life history of great white sharks. From here, make the short walk down to the harbor to board Slashfin—a custom-designed, luxury boat named after a legendary shark with a unique dorsal fin. It's an exhilarating 20-25 minute boat ride to Dyer Island, which, together with the nearby Geyser Island, forms a narrow channel known as Shark Alley. Keep in mind that depending on the time of year, the ride to Shark Alley can be quite cold and windy, so be sure to bring a jacket.
After finding a suitable place to anchor, the adventure begins! You'll spend about two hours anchored, but this depends on shark activity, conditions, as well as the number of divers. After getting suited up, dive down to see the incredible animals close-up from the safety of a shark-proof cage. While you're waiting for your turn, spend time learning about the behavior of this misunderstood apex predator. You'll learn how and where the sharks feed, breed, and breach.
Depending on the day, you'll likely also see at least two or more members of the Marine Big Five—dolphins, whales, penguins, seals, and sharks, as well as a variety of bird species. After the dive, if the weather permits, take a quick trip through the infamous Shark Alley.
Arrive back at the Great White House, and debrief with soup and bread to warm you up. Showers are available here if you want to freshen up before heading out for your next adventure.
Continue to Hermanus where you'll spend the night.
Day 9: Garden Route Drive & Wilderness Canoe
Head out in the morning for your five-hour drive east. Spot troops of baboons along the winding mountain roads, and pass through fertile micro-climates where rows of grapevines cover the hills.
Stop in Riviersonderend for a mid-morning snack like the creamy melktert (milk tart), a traditional Dutch pastry.
Larger-than-life aloe plants mark your arrival into Albertinia and provide plenty of photographic opportunities. The small nearby towns of Wilderness and George feel like an oasis in the arid landscape. Cool off from the drive with an afternoon canoe paddle. The area borders national parks, and there are plenty of opportunities for bird watching and wildlife viewing.
End the day with a drive to the coastal towns of Sedgefield or Knysna. Find the perfect place for a sundowner as you watch the sun sink below the watery horizon, then hit the hay for a restful night's sleep.
Day 10: Bungee Jumping or Tsitsikamma National Park
Beautiful landscapes and adrenaline-filled adventures go hand-in-hand today. Start your day with a relaxing stroll on the beach in Knysna and breathe in the smell of the sea.
Make your way to the postcard town of Plettenberg Bay. Continue east along the coast to Bloukran's Bridge where daring travelers leap into the gorge from the world's highest commercial bridge bungee jump. If you're feeling adventurous try the 708 ft (216 m) jump and experience the thrill for yourself.
If you would rather keep your feet on solid ground, head to the thick forests of nearby Tsitsikamma National Park for a beautiful hike. The hike to Tsitsikamma’s suspension bridge is short but steep, and it's worth the effort for the panoramic views.
Leave the Garden Route behind you as you arrive in the town of Jeffrey's Bay, known as South Africa's quintessential 'Surf City'. Take a surfing lesson, hang with the locals, or hit the shops along the main street promenade for a relaxing evening on the coast.
Day 11: Addo Elephant National Park Safari, Explore Jeffrey's Bay
Start the day with a pre-dawn wake-up call for your hour-long drive to head out into the African bush. Spend the morning on a game drive in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa's third-largest national park. Keep an eye out for Africa's giants as well as other members of the Big 5 as you navigate the dusty dirt roads in search of wildlife.
Return to "J'Bay," the local name for Jeffrey's Bay, for an afternoon of free time. Catch up on sleep or hit the discount outlets for some shopping. If surfing is your thing (or you want to learn), rent a surfboard or sandboard and make the most of the area's famous waves and sand. For a relaxing beach adventure, go for a horseback ride along the sandy shores of a secluded beach nearby.
Day 12: Oudtshoorn, Caves, & Ostriches
Experience the diversity of South Africa's landscapes and lifestyles today as you drive three hours inland away from the Indian Ocean. Wind your way through the Langkloof Mountains as you make your way to the arid landscapes of the Klein Karoo, home turf of the African ostrich.
As you drive along the highway you'll pass by countless bird-filled paddocks, colorful feather stalls, and show farms. Palatial sandstone homesteads dot the landscape, a throwback to a time when ostrich feathers were worth more than gold.
A stop at the Cango Ostrich Show Farm offers a glimpse into the farming industry and gives you the chance to come face-to-beak with the world's biggest bird.
From here it's time to dive deep underground, into the spectacular limestone chambers of the Cango Caves. Opt for the casual Heritage Tour to check out the cave's stalactite and stalagmite formations, as well as remnants of Khoikhoi paintings. To test your agility and contortion skills choose the Adventure Tour, where a series of tight squeezes and wiggles lead through narrow limestone chimneys on an unforgettable adventure.
If there's time later, head out for a game drive in the Buffelsdrift Private Game Reserve to catch glimpses of the area's resident wildlife.
Round out your day with ostrich steaks or kebabs at one of Oudtshoorn's many eateries and experience the region's legendary hospitality for yourself. If you get the chance, make sure to try the Karoo lamb—it's delicious.
Day 13: Wine Tasting on Route 62
After a relaxing breakfast, it's time to drive the five hours west to Cape Town on the famous Route 62. Modeled after America's Route 66, Route 62 brings its own unique South African flair and distinct local character.
More than just dive bars, farms stalls, or small country towns, Route 62 is also the Western Cape's longest wine tour. Stop along the way to sample port-style wines as you wind your way back to Cape Town.
One of the highway's legendary attractions is Ronnie's Sex Shop, a roadside bar, and restaurant. Legend has it that in the 1970s, local farmer Ronald Price set about opening a roadside produce stand, complete with a proudly handpainted sign. Mischevious friends took it upon themselves to amend the sign, ultimately convincing Ronnie to scrap the farm stand idea and open a bar for highway travelers.
Forty years later, the bar's quirkiness doesn't end with the sign. Inside, the entire room is decorated with traveler's graffiti, donated neckties and bras, and a random assortment of other oddities. As well as a restaurant, Ronnie's offers overnight accommodation, a pool with landscape views, and good old-fashioned respite from the dusty road.
Continue to Cape Town, arriving in the evening.
Day 14: Depart Cape Town
Transfer to the airport for your connecting flight home.