This epic 13-day itinerary delivers the best of South Africa's southern coast by combining city tours, wine tastings, road trips, and safari drives. First, enjoy history walks around Cape Town, tours in the Winelands, and trips to the Cape Peninsula to walk with penguins. Then hit the road for nature tours and beach time along the famous Garden Route before finishing strong with a true African safari in a private game reserve.


  • Tour Cape Town's famous landmarks and visit Table Mountain
  • Enjoy a wine and chocolate tasting in Cape Winelands
  • See the highlights of the Cape Peninsula and Garden Route on a road trip
  • Go on a safari game drive in a private reserve in the Eastern Cape

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town, Optional Activities Cape Town
Day 2 Private City Tour & Table Mountain Cape Town
Day 3 Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Tour Cape Town
Day 4 Cape Peninsula Tour Cape Town
Day 5 Drive from Cape Town to Hermanus Hermanus
Day 6 Dyer Island Boat Tour, Free Day in Hermanus Hermanus
Day 7 Hermanus Cliff Path, Drive to Mossel Bay Mossel Bay
Day 8 Drive to Knysna & Wilderness National Park Knysna
Day 9 Visit Plettenberg Bay, Optional Activities Knysna
Day 10 Free Day in Knysna Knysna
Day 11 Drive to Eastern Cape Game Reserve Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 12 Safari Game Drive Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 13 Drive to Gqeberha, Depart South Africa  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, Optional Activities

The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

Welcome to South Africa! Nicknamed "Rainbow Nation" by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this country is a melting pot of diversity home to people of Bantu, European, Asian, and mixed-race ancestry. You'll see this diversity firsthand when you arrive in Cape Town.

Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the city, where you'll spend the next few nights. After checking in and unpacking, feel free to stretch your legs on a walk around town. In the city center are many historic parks and buildings, and for dinner, you can head to the famous V&A Waterfront for a gourmet meal overlooking the water and in the shadow of Table Mountain.

Day 2: Private City Tour & Table Mountain

Ride a cable car up table mountain
In the morning, meet your personal guide and embark on a half-day tour of Cape Town. First, you'll explore the historic neighborhood of Bo-Kaap. Located in the Malay Quarter, this historic neighborhood was once home to enslaved Malaysians, Indonesians, and others brought to the country in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, Bo-Kaap is a colorful hotbed of culture, and the food is second to none (be sure to try the famous Cape Malay curry). Other city landmarks you'll visit include the Company's Garden, Greenmarket Square, and the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope.
After the tour, you'll head over to the base of Cape Town's most iconic landmark: Table Mountain. This sandstone monolith and UNESCO World Heritage Site stands 3,562 feet (1,086 m) over the city, and you'll ascend it via a dramatic five-minute cable car ride. From the summit enjoy panoramic views of Cape Town, the Atlantic Seaboard, and the mountains of the Cape Peninsula

Day 3: Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Tour

Spend the day touring the Cape Winelands
Enjoy another full-day excursion today, this time to the Cape Winelands. Located just outside of Cape Town, this fertile region near the coast is home to more wineries than any other area in South Africa, and today, you'll visit some of the best.
It begins in the morning when your personal guide picks you up from the hotel for the drive out to Cape Winelands. Here, amid the mountain valleys and rolling vineyards, you'll visit charming heritage towns like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl. Not only will you taste the syrahs, cabernets, and pinotages for which the region is deservedly famous, but you'll also pair them with artisanal wines and cheeses. Lunch is also included at a restaurant of your choice. 

Day 4: Cape Peninsula Tour

Walk with penguins at Boulders Beach
In the morning, your guide will pick you up from the hotel and you'll take off on a scenic coastal drive. Heading south out of Cape Town, follow the road around Chapman's Peak, passing secluded beaches and fynbos-covered hills on your way to Cape Point. Here, you can climb the iconic lighthouse and marvel at views over the headland to both the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Afterward, go walking with penguins at Boulders Beach, and then hike through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens while admiring its collection of over 7,000 plant species. At the end of this full-day tour, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 5: Drive from Cape Town to Hermanus

Hit the road to Hermanus
Receive your rental car after breakfast and embark on the first day of a scenic road trip around South Africa. Leave Cape Town and travel a couple of hours along coastal roads and through wine country to the town of Hermanus, where you'll check in to your hotel. This charming seaside town is known for its Blue Flag beaches and prime whale watching, both of which you'll get to do during your stay here.
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Day 6: Dyer Island Boat Tour, Free Day in Hermanus

The seal colony at Dyer Island
In the morning, you'll embark on a 2.5-hour boat tour to spot whales, great white sharks, dolphins, penguins, and seals. First, you'll transfer from Hermanus south to Kleinbaai Harbour and board the boat. Then, you'll cruise about 5 miles (8 km) offshore to Dyer Island, which has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) due to its many resident avian species, including African penguins. Adjacent to Dyer Island is Geyser Rock, home to a 60,000-strong Cape fur seal colony. 

After viewing the seals and penguins, you'll cruise the channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock—a foreboding section of water known as Shark Alley due to the great whites that congregate there. Not only will see some sharks but you might also spot humpback and southern right whales. Who knows, an orca or two might even make an appearance. Afterward, you'll transfer back to your hotel in Hermanus.
Back in town, you can head to Gearing's Point for lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the water. Then, feel free to relax on the white sands of Grotto Beach. For another unforgettable nature experience, head west of town to Stony Point Nature Reserve to see the massive colony of African penguins. 

Day 7: Hermanus Cliff Path, Drive to Mossel Bay

Follow the trail down the Hermanus cliff path
Spend your last morning in Hermanus strolling down its famous cliff path. This 7-mile (11 km) walking trail runs east from town along the coast to the mouth of the Klein River. Follow the well-marked pathways lined with colorful fynbos, and feel free to stop periodically to rest on a bench and watch the waves crash on the shore. Wildlife is abundant here too, as the paths are within the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. So keep an eye out for a lazy dassie (rock hyrax) sunning itself or a shy mongoose along the way. 

During whale season (June to November), the paths afford some of the best whale watching on earth. At this time, you can spot great pods of southern right whales who come near shore to breed. Perhaps you'll even meet Hermanus' very own "whale crier." This Instagram-worthy fellow is the only civil servant whose job is to announce when whales arrive. He strolls the clifftop each morning and, upon seeing the whales, blows into a kelp horn (a horn made from dried kelp plants).

After walking the paths, continue driving east to Mossel Bay, a lovely harbor town on a peninsula. It marks the start of the Garden Route, which runs 190 miles (305 km) to the mouth of Storms River, passing some of South Africa's most incredible coastline and native forest. After checking in to your hotel, you can relax in this seaside enclave. Later in the afternoon, head to a waterfront restaurant and sit on the patio as you enjoy a sundowner paired with delicious fresh oysters and seafood.

Day 8: Drive to Knysna & Wilderness National Park

Drive to the turquoise lagoon of Knysna

After breakfast, continue west for about 1.5 hours to the coastal town of Knysna. You're in for a treat, because this is one of the most scenic areas on a route known for its natural beauty. Here, large sandstone headlands blanketed in foliage hem in the town and a tranquil, river-fed lagoon. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and will spend the rest of the day exploring the surrounding region. The area is part of a subtropical biome famous for its broadleaf forests. 

Immerse yourself in this nature on a drive into nearby Wilderness National Park. Within it are tropical forests, rivers, beaches, lagoons, and estuaries—all home to a wide array of exotic flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for lazy baboons relaxing on the roadside as you wind your way through mountain passes, and feel free to stop for a walk in the charming towns of Wilderness and George. Perhaps take a canoe ride on a lagoon and try to spot endemic birds like kingfishers, warblers, flycatchers, and more. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel in Knysna. 

Day 9: Visit Plettenberg Bay, Optional Activities

Plettenberg Bay, one of the highlights of the Garden Route
In the morning, you'll drive a few minutes east of Knysna to the seaside town of Plettenberg Bay. Not only does it boast wide beaches great for swimming and surfing, but there's a host of ecotourism adventures you can enjoy in the area. Some optional activities include canyoning, abseiling (rappelling) down waterfalls, horseback riding, swimming in mountain pools, zip lining, and more. 

Wildlife lovers should head northeast of town to Birds of Eden, a 5-acre (2 ha) dome that's the world's largest free-flight aviary. On a visit, you can marvel at thousands of once-caged birds now allowed to soar free. There are over 220 species here ranging from parrots and hornbills to flamingoes and cormorants. You could also stop at the nearby Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary to see rescued big cats like lions, cheetahs, Bengal tigers, leopards, and jaguars. Or, hop a boat and head out on the water for a whale watching cruise to spot dolphins, humpbacks, and southern right whales.

Day 10: Free Day in Knysna

See primates roaming free at Monkeyland
This is a free day in Knysna, and the best way to begin is with a leisurely breakfast followed by a relaxing stroll on the beach. If you're still thirsting for adventure, travel about an hour up the coast to Bloukran's Bridge. This concrete archway rises high over the Bloukrans River and boasts the largest commercial bungee jump in the world. If you're up for it, take the plunge 709 feet (215 m) into the canyon.
If you would rather keep your feet on solid ground, head to the thick forests of nearby Tsitsikamma National Park for a scenic nature hike. Or, enjoy a boat cruise, kayak ride, or stand-up paddleboard session on the Knysna Lagoon. For more wildlife encounters, visit Monkeyland, where you can see over 500 species in the world's first free-roaming primate sanctuary. End the day with a peaceful walk along the beach as you enjoy the sunset. 

Day 11: Drive to Eastern Cape Game Reserve

Safari time!
South Africa is famous for its national parks. However, throughout this country, there are various private game reserves that offer the same great wildlife experiences, often without the mass crowds. Today you'll continue driving into the Eastern Cape region on your way to one such private reserve. Upon arrival at your lodge, get checked in and spend the rest of the day relaxing. If it's early enough, embark on a guided nature hike or afternoon game drive. Whatever you choose, make sure to be in bed early, because tomorrow you have a full-day safari ahead of you.

Day 12: Safari Game Drive

Be on the lookout for lions
Today, you'll enjoy one of the most memorable experiences in Africa: a safari drive. It begins around dawn, as this is the best time to see the animals at their most active. After hopping in a 4WD vehicle, you'll head into the reserve in search of Big Five game animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. Other creatures include giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, and antelope. Leading you on this full-day adventure will be a ranger who will offer insight into the wildlife as well as the surrounding nature.

Day 13: Drive to Gqeberha & Depart South Africa

Farewell, Africa

After breakfast, leave the game reserve and drive back along the coast to Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). Here, you'll drop off your rental car at the airport and board your flight home. See you soon!

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Map of Coastal South Africa: Cape Town, Garden Route & Eastern Cape Safari - 13 Days
Map of Coastal South Africa: Cape Town, Garden Route & Eastern Cape Safari - 13 Days