This stunning road-trip itinerary encompasses urban sophistication, a wildlife safari, and one of the country's best wine regions—all in the span of 11 days. Kick off in Cape Town where you'll have four days to explore the city's culture and hiking trails. From here, drive to a beautiful private game reserve that is home to the 'Big 5'. Finish in the Franschhoek Valley to see some of the best wine estates and gardens in South  Africa.

Highlights

  • Take a sunset cruise in Cape Town for ocean, city, and mountain views
  • Work up a sweat hiking up Table Mountain (or relax and ride the cable car)
  • See the only African penguin colony in the country on Boulders Beach
  • Stay two nights at a private game reserve with Land Rover tours
  • Ride the Franschhoek Tram while visiting wineries around the valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town Cape Town
Days 2-5 Explore Cape Town Cape Town
Day 6 Drive to Gondwana Game Reserve Mossel Bay
Day 7 Safari at Gondwana Game Reserve Mossel Bay
Day 8 Drive to Franschhoek Franschhoek
Days 9-10 Explore Franschhoek Winelands Franschhoek
Day 11 Depart Cape Town  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town

Cape Town's iconic scenery

Welcome to South Africa! Upon arrival in Cape Town International Airport, you'll collect your rental vehicle and make the 30-minute drive to your hotel in the city. 

From here, depending on the time (and your energy levels), you can choose to rest and relax or get out and see some of the sights. A good place to start is the city's harbor called V&A Waterfront with a mix of hotels, shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and great views of Table Mountain and Lion's Head. Here, you'll find Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA)—the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world—along with several boat tours including sunset cruises for a chance to soak up some breezes from the South Atlantic Ocean.

Days 2-5: Explore Cape Town

Hike Table Mountain

You'll have the next several days to explore Cape Town at your own pace! There is much to see and do in South Africa's most sophisticated city—a melting pot of people and cultures, including Africans, Europeans, and Malays, topped off with magnificent scenery and abundant outdoor life. 

Suggestions include:

  • Go hiking in Table Mountain National Park or take a rotating cable car to the top for 360-degree views.

  • Visit Boulders Beach to see the only colony of African penguins in the world.  

  • Tour pretty urban gardens like Company’s Garden, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and Green Point Urban Park.

  • Walk around Bo-Kaap, one of Cape Town's most colorful and historic neighborhoods, for homes and mosques painted in vibrant rainbow colors including blues, purples, pinks, yellows, and greens.

  • Visit historical sites like the Castle of Good Hope, a fort from the 17th century, and St. George's Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Southern Africa.

  • Sample fresh seafood and international cuisine at a range of restaurants all over town.

  • Consider signing up for a guided city tour covering specific themes like food or architecture. 

Day 6: Drive to Gondwana Game Reserve

Get up close to elephants on this private reserve

Today, you'll depart the big city and head out into the countryside for a 4.5-hour drive to the Gondwana Game Reserve, which travels along the scenic Garden Route. This all-inclusive private game reserve provides an authentic African safari experience close to Cape Town, as well as luxury safari accommodations, for a truly magical experience. 

Aim to arrive around lunchtime so you can enjoy an afternoon activity like hiking, mountain biking, or birding on the reserve. In fact, there are hundreds of species of birds as well as 42 of South Africa’s 53 endemic bird species occur in the Western Cape with a landscape comprising of open grass plains and plateaus, wetlands, rolling hills, sub-tropical valleys, and cliff faces. 

No matter which activity you choose on Gondwana, you'll have the escort of an experienced field guide to show you around.

Day 7: Safari at Gondwana Game Reserve

Rhino at Gondwana
Rhino at Gondwana

Today is your chance to take a game drive, which is included in your stay. Game drives are conducted in open Land Rovers with expert field guides who reveal the free-roaming animals providing a once in a lifetime experience. This is the only Big 5 game reserve in the Southern Cape for your chance to see lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. Other herds of wildlife including eland, giraffe, hippo, cheetah, and zebra, which can be seen on the reserve's majestic landscape with awe-inspiring views of the Langeberg and Outeniqua Mountains in every direction.

In the afternoon, you are able to relax or take part in more activities like hiking, biking, and golfing. There's also a spa offering a range of Africology treatments, or simply sit outside with a book and immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the natural surroundings.

Day 8: Drive to Franschhoek

A vineyard in Franschhoek

This morning, after breakfast at the resort, you'll take a beautiful 4-hour drive through the countryside to Franschhoek (meaning French corner in Dutch). This is a town in South Africa’s Western Cape known for Dutch architecture and centuries-old vineyards in the surrounding valley, which produces some of the best wines in South Africa. 

If you have time in the afternoon, visit the town for its pretty tree-lined streets, beautiful gardens, unique shops, and art galleries before picking a restaurant to enjoy delicious local food and wine. Also, keep an eye out for one of the numerous events and festivals held throughout the year. 

Days 9-10: Explore Franschhoek Valley

Franschhoek Wine Tram

Over the next few days, you'll have the freedom to explore the valley on your own schedule. You'll definitely want to consider a ride on the Franschhoek Wine Tram with several routes offering itineraries that cover different wineries. Depending on which option you choose, you will be transferred between the vineyards, with time to enjoy tastings and food pairings. 

Back in your own car, you can drive along Franschhoek's scenic passes and check out a range of hiking and biking trails. Make sure to stop at Babylonstoren, a historic Cape Dutch farm that boasts one of the best-preserved farmyards in the Cape. While here, take a leisurely stroll around this magnificent garden divided into 15 sections including fruits, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns, a prickly pear maze, as well as along chickens, ducks, and more. 

Day 11: Depart Cape Town

Cape Town architecture

It's time to say goodbye to South Africa! At the designated time, you'll make the drive back to Cape Town International Airport where you will return the car and check in for your trip home. If you have time before the flight, check out more of the city before your departure. Safe travels!

Map

Map of South Africa Self-Drive Tour - 11 Days
Map of South Africa Self-Drive Tour - 11 Days