From the winding coastline of Cape Town to the sprawling neighborhoods of "Jo-burg," this three-week tour will take you through the best of South Africa. Visit Africa's southernmost tip, taste wine from local vineyards, and snap hundreds of epic photos on an African safari.

Highlights

  • Watch for elephants, lions, and more on safari
  • Taste wines from three popular South African regions
  • Hike or bus up Table Mountain for sweeping views
  • Wander the wild coastlines outside the main cities
  • Visit the southernmost tip of Africa

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Cape Town! Cape Town
Day 2 Cape Town & Table Mountain Cape Town
Day 3 A three-region wine tasting tour Cape Town
Day 4 Cape Point  Cape Town
Day 5 The southernmost tip of Africa Cape Agulhas
Day 6 Knysna village Knysna
Day 7 Knysna wilderness Knysna
Day 8 Adventure sports in Storms River Storms River
Day 9 Surfing at Jeffreys Bay Jeffreys Bay
Day 10 Big-5 Safari at Addo Elephant Park Addo
Day 11 Choose your own adventure in Addo Addo
Day 12 Journey to the Wild Coast Chintsa
Day 13 Relaxing in Chintsa Chintsa
Day 14 Exploring the Wild Coast Coffee Bay
Day 15 Hiking in Coffee Bay Coffee Bay
Day 16 Drakensberg: a UNESCO World Heritage Site Drakensberg
Day 17 Exploring Drakensberg Drakensberg
Day 18 Lesotho Drakensberg
Day 19 Waterfalls & Zulu Culture in Dundee Dundee
Day 20 Johannesburg Johannesburg
Day 21 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Cape Town International Airport

Cape Town and Table Mountain

Welcome to Cape Town - the second largest city in South Africa and the starting point for your three-week adventure. When you arrive, collect your car from the airport, check into your comfy city center hotel, and spend some time exploring the city and the beach. Popular attractions in town include harbor cruises, cable car rides up Table Mountain, and strolls along the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

Day 2: Cape Town and Table Mountain

Cape Town harbor
Cape Town harbor

On your second day in Cape Town, you can choose to explore on foot or via hop-on hop-off bus. If you choose the former, a walking tour will take you to historical sites and museums like the Castle of Good Hope, the Grand Parade, Parliament, and the District Six Museum. Shop local arts and crafts in Greenmarket Square and St. George's Mall. Then hike up the famous, flat-topped Table Mountain for the best views in the city.

For those who prefer to see the city from the comfort of a bus seat, the hop-on hop-off bus tour stops at Camps Bay, the V&A Waterfront, and Table Mountain.

Day 3: A three-region wine tasting tour

Wine tasting in South Africa

Get ready for a mellow day of fine wines and lovely vineyards, as you amble through three regions of the Cape WinelandsStellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Stop in each region for a leisurely tasting, a cellar tour, or a picnic lunch. Then circle back to Cape Town, where an evening of relaxation or adventure on the beach, in the city center, or on the nearby trails is at your fingertips.

Day 4: Cape Point sightseeing

Western Cape

Make your way south of the city to the charming coastal town of Hout Bay, where a lively harbor is home to colorful fishing boats and long swaths of white sand. From here, board a boat to Duiker Island, where thousands of Cape Fur seals lounge in the sun, or drive up to Chapman's Peak for a picturesque panorama of the bay. Whatever you choose, don't forget your camera today!

Once you're done soaking up Hout Bay, head toward Cape Point in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The road is a winding one that hugs the coast and offers expansive views at every turn. When you arrive in Cape Point, wander the stone paths to the historic lighthouse, where waves crash, roaring, into the rocks. 

Day 5: The southernmost tip of Africa

Africa's southernmost tip

When you wake on your fifth morning, make your way to Cape Agulhas, Africa's southernmost tip - where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet - for a stroll among shipwrecks, fishing boats, and (if you're lucky) whales playing in the bay. Make sure to explore the little fishing village and take plenty of photos before heading back to the hotel.

Day 6: Arrive in Knysna village

Knysna
Knysna, South Africa

Welcome to Knysna - a coastal village known for its rich forest surroundings, tranquil lakes, golden beaches, and bright blue lagoon. The lagoon is a protected marine reserve known for its seahorses (not to mention over 200 species of fish). Spend the day exploring the lagoon, beaches, lakes, mountains, and rivers, or hanging out in the cute town center where craft shops, flea markets, and cozy cafes abound. Other optional activities include a boat tour, canoeing, oyster farm visits, bird watching (for the elusive local Knysna Loerie), or a hike along the easy Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail.

Day 7: Knysna wilderness

Sunrise on the beach at Knysna

Start your day with a beautiful drive back along the Garden Route to a protected National Park known simply as Wilderness, where five lakes, five rivers, two estuaries, and 11 miles (18 km) of beach await. Paddle a canoe through the lagoon and keep your binoculars on hand for bird-watching. Take a dip in the Indian Ocean. Sip cocktails on the beach as the sun goes down. And warm up with a nighttime campfire before heading back to Knysna for the night.

Day 8: Storms River

Adventure sports in Storms River

Wave goodbye to beachy Knysna and say hello to adventuresome Storms River: a scenic, powerful river that cuts through the Tsitsikamma Mountain Range. Travelers from around the world flock here for the lush forests, colorful bird life, and adventure sports. The national park is also one of the oldest and biggest marine reserves in South Africa. Spend your day exploring the canopy with a canopy tour, bungee jumping from the dizzyingly high Bloukrans River Bridge, mountain biking on local trails, fishing in the river, Blackwater Tubing, or kloofing (descending into a deep ravine).

Day 9: Jeffreys Bay

Surfing Jeffreys Bay

Home to the best right-hand surf break in the world, it's no surprise the Jeffreys Bay attracts surfers from around the world. Spend your day in this sunny surfing paradise trying your hand at catching a wave, soaking up the sun on a beach towel, watching for dolphins in the surf, or exploring the artsy little town. Or - if you're feeling outdoorsy - head to the Noorsekloof Nature Reserve or Kabeljous and Seekoei estuaries just outside town.

Day 10: Big-5 Safari at Addo Elephant park

Safariing in Addo Elephant Park

Grab your binoculars and join a safari guide for a day in Addo Elephant National Park. Designated as a safe haven for elephants in 1931, this park is where the few elephants who survived the government-sponsored purge found a home - and thrived. Today, there are hundreds of elephants in the park - one of the densest populations of wild elephants in the world. Your safari will take you through thick thickets, down dirt tracks, and past as many animals as your guide can spot. In addition to elephants, the park is home to Black Rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalo, cheetah, 13 species of antelope, and much more.

Day 11: River cruises, dune fields, and more!

Lion
Keep an eye out for lions

This wild, beautiful region deserves another day of exploration. Spend your second day in Addo hiking the Alexandria Dunefields, taking a river cruise up the Sundays River (perfect for birdwatchers), boarding a jeep for a half-day drive through a private game reserve, cruising for whales, dolphins, and penguins, or sand-sledding in one of the widest, longest coastal dune fields in the world. Then circle back to your hotel for a good night's rest. 

Day 12: Chintsa and the Wild Coast

Wild Coast
The Wild Coast

Get off the beaten track and head into the true wilderness as you make your way from Addo to the Wild Coast - one of South Africa's most undeveloped regions. Drive northeast into the Eastern Cape province, passing the rest of the curved, sandstone facades of the Cape Fold Mountains and arriving in the coastal town of Chintsa - known for its laid-back vibes and stunning surroundings.

Day 13: Relaxing in Chintsa

Surfing
Learn to surf

Today is all about relaxation, so feel free to put your feet up and just enjoy the miles of beachfront at your fingertips. And if you don't feel like laying back and just soaking it all in? No problem. Chintsa is full of outdoor activities. You can ride a horse across wild beachfront, take a surfing lesson, practice yoga in a nearby forest, take a hike through the wilderness, or meet a traditional healer and learn about Xhosa culture. 

Day 14: Through the homeland of Nelson Mandela

Eastern Cape
The wild Eastern Cape

Immerse yourself into South Africa's history today as you journey inland and then circle back to the coast and the vast, open landscapes of Eastern Cape. Start with a drive to Qunu - the humble, rural area where Nelson Mandela was raised. Stop here for a tour with a knowledgeable local guide before climbing back into your car to drive through the former Xhosa homeland toward the beautiful coastal town of Coffee Bay.

Day 15: Coffee Bay

On horseback at the beach near Coffee Bay

The small Eastern Cape town of Coffee Bay is known for its easy-going atmosphere and seemingly endless wild coast. Spend today relaxing on the beach, soaking in the views, or lacing up your hiking boots for a walk to Hole in the Wall - a stunning mass of rock just off the coast with a hole worn through the middle by the crashing waves. Don't forget your camera - this is one of the area's most photogenic attractions. 

Day 16: Welcome to Drakensberg

The strange, beautiful landscape of Drakensberg

Get ready to fall in love with the South African landscape all over again! Today's drive starts at a river estuary and the Indian Ocean, then winds through wild hills, sparsely populated villages, small towns, and increasingly green farmlands before reaching the foothills of UNESCO World Heritage Site Drakensberg. Pause at another Nelson Mandela museum along the way to view a collection of presidential gifts and hear more about the South African hero's life. Then head north toward the steep, hair-raising road across Sani Pass and make your way to your hotel nearby.

Day 17: Drakensberg

The vast, unusual landscape of Drakensberg

Spend your day in this UNESCO World Heritage Site marveling at the landscape on a scenic hike or an off-road ride up the hair-raising, steep Sani Pass. For the hikers in the group, today's trails are easy and scenic, ambling over hills to some of the most beautiful vantage points in the region. For the off-road crowd, a narrow 4x4 track will take you to the very top of the mountains where South Africa meets the tiny country of Lesotho and where the views feel endless.

Day 18: Lesotho

The Basotho people

Once a bridal path used by the Basotho people to transport wool and goods, these days the Sani Pass is an adventurer's attraction - a steep, narrow 4x4 track that climbs over 9,000 feet above sea level to cross the mountains. If you missed this adventure yesterday, today is your day. Join the tour group for a white-knuckle climb to breathtaking viewpoints, lunch at the highest pub in Africa (The Sani Mountain Lodge), and a border crossing into Lesotho. After lunch, head to an authentic Basotho village for a lesson in history and culture and some homemade bread and traditional beer, if you so desire. Finally, make your way back down Sani Pass, stopping for photos of wildlife along the way.

Day 19: KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal
Royal Natal National Park, KwaZulu-Natal

Wave farewell to the Drakensberg mountains and head into the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands - one of South Africa's favorite weekend playgrounds. As you pass into KwaZulu-Natal from Eastern Cape, you'll go from Xhosa territory into the homeland of the Zulu people. Stop here to meet with a Zulu family and take in the difference in customs, history, and language. Continue on to the picturesque, powerful Howick Falls in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal. Then pause for a moment of silence at the infamous Capture Site, where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962. And, finally, stop in the quaint town of Nottingham Road for a quirky beer tasting to round out the day.

Day 20: Johannesburg

Johannesburg

Welcome to South Africa's sprawling, busy capital city, Johannesburg - a city focused on making money, whether in business or on the streets. Keep your wits about you - there is some crime here - but don't believe the media. It's not the war zone they make it out to be. When you arrive in the afternoon, settle into your hotel and then head out for some exploration. Popular attractions include the Apartheid Museum, the African Flea Market, and Soweto Theatre. There are also plenty of cycle tours, nightlife options, restaurants, and shopping opportunities.

Day 21: Departure

Bid the wild coastline, rich wildlife, and rich landscapes of South Africa farewell. Today is the day you depart for home. If you still have some time to kill before your flight, the art galleries, flea markets, shopping centers, and museums of Jo-burg are plentiful.