This itinerary is sure to satisfy any adventurer looking to explore the best of Southern Africa's natural scenery. From the coast of Cape Town up along the Garden Route and into the deserts of the Great Karoo, you will be able to experience all the defining ecoregions of South Africa and beyond.

Highlights

  • Explore Cape Town and hike to the top of scenic Table Mountain
  • See marine life and penguins in False Bay's Windmill Beach
  • Jump, swim, and rappel your way through the Wilderness 
  • Trek past rugged shrubland and wooden bridges on the Harkerville Coastal Trail
  • Witness the Victoria Falls and explore local nature in Livingstone

Overview

This two-week itinerary allows you to see Southern Africa's best natural destinations, from the coast to inland territories. Spanning two countries (South Africa and Zambia) and three national parks, you will be able to explore a stunning array of ecosystems and wildlife through trekking, abseiling, kloofing, canoeing, and snorkeling. Although much of the tour will be spent on exhilarating activities, you will drive from location to location in a rental car along scenic roads and stay in some of the most comfortable accommodations available.

Since this tour will cover mountainous and coastal terrain, make sure to bring appropriate shoes and clothing. This tour also balances adventure with accessibility, so although it is suited for those in great physical condition, it is also family-friendly and allows for flexible itinerary planning. If you want to explore one of the world's most unique ecoregions of flora and fauna and still get a chance to see local cultures, this is the tour for you!

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town  Cape Town (Kalk Bay)
Day 2 Table Mountain and the Waterfront Cape Town (Kalk Bay)
Day 3 False Bay and Cape Point Cape Town (Kalk Bay)
Day 4 Wilderness National Park Wilderness National Park
Day 5 Kloofing and abseiling Wilderness National Park
Day 6 Cango Caves Knysna
Day 7 Knysna Knysna
Day 8 Harkerville Coastal Trail Camping on the trail
Day 9 Harkerville Coastal Trail Camp in Tsitsikamma National Park
Day 10 Storm's River to Port Elizabeth Johannesburg
Day 11 Johannesburg to Livingstone Livingstone
Day 12 Livingstone Livingstone
Day 13 Victoria Falls Livingstone
Day 14 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town's Kalk Bay

Welcome to South Africa! Fly into Cape Town and pick up your rental car at the airport. Then, drive to your accommodation in Kalk Bay, a charming fishing village featuring an array of eclectic stores, art galleries, jewelry workshops, and antique vendors. Here, there are fewer crowds and there are more warm currents, so take some time to swim along beaches and take a dip in the tidal pools.

Spend the rest of your day settling in, relaxing, and exploring your surroundings a bit more. You can either ask for lunch and dinner suggestions, or you can just try whatever restaurants catch your eye.

Day 2: Table Mountain and the Waterfront

View of Cape Town from Table Mountain
View of Cape Town from Table Mountain

Your visit to Cape Town would not be complete without heading to the top of Table Mountain, a five-hour hike that is as challenging as it is rewarding. Early in the morning, wake up and drive 30 minutes out to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, where you will meet your guide. Go for a stroll through the gardens and learn more about the Cape region's beautiful endemic fynbos vegetation, one of the world's smallest yet most fascinating ecoregion's. From there, start your ascent via the back of Table Mountain, hiking through stretches of forest and scrubland. Finally, arrive at the upper cable-way station and soon, you will stumble upon the most iconic vantage point of Cape Town, complete with a panoramic view of Table Bay.

After your hike, a brief cable car ride will take you back down into the city. A 15-minute cab ride will then take you to the Waterfront, where you can check out local shops, take a cruise into the bay, or visit Robben Island, a former waterfront prison that once hosted Nelson Mandela. Finally, return to your car at Kirstenbosch and head back for the night.

Day 3: False Bay and Cape Point

Penguins in False Bay

From Kalk Bay, drive 15 minutes out to Windmill Beach, where locals go to avert the rush of tourists at Boulder Beach and Seaforth Beach. Embark on a coasteering trip to snorkel and see the marine life in the intertidal zone along the coast. You may even be able to spot a group of African Penguins! If you dare, finish off your trip with some rock jumps, and return at noon just in time for lunch.

In the afternoon, explore the nearby Simon's Town Waterfront and Main Street, either through a suggested itinerary or on your own. You can also drive to the nearby Cape Point Nature Reserve to visit the very edge of the Cape Peninsula, where the warm Indian Ocean currents meet the cold Atlantic Ocean currents.

Day 4: Drive to The Wilderness

Western Cape landscape

Today, get ready for a four-and-a-half-hour scenic drive into the surrounding landscape! Depart after breakfast along the Garden Route, one of the world's most stunning roads which whisks you along views of distant mountains, grain fields, and the Indian Ocean shoreline. Then, stop at a secluded area at the edge of Wilderness National Park and explore the lakes and forests hidden within. Later in the day, walk along a rugged beach or rent a canoe to see some of the outlying waterways.

Day 5: Kloofing and Abseiling

Cliffside abseiling

Kloofing, also known canyoneering, is popular during the summer in South Africa. The half-day Kaaimans Kloof (Cappuccino Canyon) is one of the most popular destinations for the activity, offering both beginner-friendly tracks as well as more advanced terrain. With deep waterways, towering cliffs, and spectacular scenery, Kaaimans Kloof offers an ideal introduction to kloofing. Change into a wetsuit and prepare your safety equipment, then begin your thrilling experience boulder-hopping down canyon edges, treading through lush forests, and swimming through river rapids. For those on the braver side, don't miss the exhilarating cliff jump!

Next, continue onto the awe-inspiring Kaaimans Gorge and gear up for the next leg of your adventure: abseiling. This activity requires ropes and other special equipment to rappel down cliffs at high speeds. Abseiling is not for the faint of heart, but as long as you refrain from wearing slippery shoes, you will be in safe hands. The abseiling portion consists of two descents down magnificent, 45-meter-tall waterfalls. The first abseil will warm you up to handling the ropes, and the second one will truly put your skills to the test. Once you land in your canoe at the bottom, head back to your accommodation and rest after a long day.

Day 6: Cango Caves

Cango Caves

After all of yesterday's action, head out on a peaceful road trip and clear your mind. Drive beyond Wilderness National Park over a scenic mountain pass and into the dry terrain of Little Karoo. Then, go on a guided tour of the Cango Caves, a series of limestone drip caves that date back to the Precambrian era. Over millions of years, water movements have carved out huge underground caverns.  If you want to go the extra mile, you can trek unguided into the optional tunnels and crawl spaces. Once you've seen the cave complex, head to Knysna for the night.

Day 7: Knysna

Houses in Knysna

Continue along the Garden Route onto the pristine Knysna Estuary, a true gem famed for its plentiful opportunities for adventure. This small town is a favorite holiday destination for both locals and visitors alike, and you will have the day at leisure to try hiking, boating, canoeing, mountain biking, and more. Then, make sure to stock up for tomorrow, the first day of an extended trek. Drive to the Harkerville Hut in the afternoon, the starting point of the Harkerville Coastal Hiking Trail, to give yourself a convenient start for tomorrow.

Days 8-9: Harkerville Coastal Hike 

Sunset over the fynbos

In the morning, you will start the tour's most intense adventure: a 15-mile-hike that starts and ends at the Harkerville Forest Station. Pass through miles of high-forest, coastal fynbos, and other landscapes, all while appreciating the cliffside views of the coast. The hike will also include portions of scrambling as well as crossing chain ladders and wooden bridges. 

After your hike ends, travel an hour to the nearby Storm's River Rest Camp in the Tsitsikamma National Park. End your second day winding down in a log cabin overlooking the coast.

Day 10: Storm's River to Port Elizabeth

Storm's River bridges

Take your morning at Storm's River to snorkel, swim, or just relax on the beach. You can also choose an optional activity to pass the time and head out on a kayaking, lilo, or scuba-diving trip. After lunch, head for Port Elizabeth where you will take a flight to Johannesburg. Arrive in the late evening, check into an airport hotel, and spend the night.

Day 11: Johannesburg to Livingstone

Zambezi Waterfront

You will catch another departing flight to Zambia late in the morning and will arrive in Livingstone right after lunchtime. Meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your accommodation at the Zambezi Waterfront. After a long period of travel, take the rest of the afternoon to settle in and relax. If you have some remaining energy, go for a tranquil cruise on the river and watch the sunset. Make sure to be well rested for tomorrow's journey to the Victoria Falls, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Southern Africa's top natural destinations!

Day 12-13: Livingstone

Batoka Gorge
Batoka Gorge

Livingstone is a great area for some of the region's most accessible adventure activities in the vicinity of the Victoria Falls. Whitewater rafting in the Batoka Gorge is definitely the main highlight, but if you are traveling with children, there are other better alternatives. Try ziplining across the gorge instead, or head out together on a game drive. You can also go for a swim in the Devil's Pool on Livingstone Island, before eating lunch at The Elephant Cafe, where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by free-roaming elephants!

On your second day, continue exploring Livingstone. You can book microlight or helicopter flips above the falls, as well as a variety of less-demanding cultural tours. Also be sure to head into town to check out the local market, and walk across the bridge to see the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side. Keep in mind that prices here tend to be more expensive than in South Africa.

Day 14: Your Last Day in Africa

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls

After breakfast, pack up and head to the airport for your flight back home. Get one last chance to see the falls before you go, and return home after an unforgettable adventure!