Epic Southern Africa: Victoria Falls, Chobe, Cape Town, Garden Route & Addo National Park - 21 Days
- Take a sunset cruise around Victoria Falls
- Glamp in style at Chobe National Park
- Enjoy wine tours and mountain hikes in Cape Town
- Go road-tripping to seaside villages in South Africa
- Enjoy safaris in Addo Elephant National Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Victoria Falls, Sunset Cruise||Victoria Falls|
|Day 2||Tour Victoria Falls & Zipline Tour||Victoria Falls|
|Day 3||Adventure Sports & Victoria Falls Township Tour||Victoria Falls|
|Day 4||Transfer to Chobe, Elephant Experience & Glamping||Chobe National Park|
|Day 5||Chobe Morning & Afternoon Game Drives||Chobe National Park|
|Day 6||Rock Paintings of Savuti||Chobe National Park|
|Day 7||Transfer to Cape Town, Dinner in the City||Cape Town|
|Day 8||Cape Peninsula & Penguin Tour, Dinner in Champs Bay||Cape Town|
|Day 9||Cape Town Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Tour||Cape Town|
|Day 10||Scooter Tour of Table Mountain||Cape Town|
|Day 11||Drive to Hermanus, Optional Activities||Hermanus|
|Day 12||Hermanus Cliff Path & Whale Watching||Hermanus|
|Day 13||Drive to Oudtshoorn, Wine & Chocolate Tour||Oudtshoorn|
|Day 14||Day Trip to Ostrich Farm, Mountain Biking & Cango Caves||Oudtshoorn|
|Day 15||Drive to Knysna, Knysna Sunset Cruise||Knysna|
|Day 16||Storms River Kayaking & Cliff Jumping||Knysna|
|Day 17||Drive to Wilderness National Park||Knysna|
|Day 18||Drive to Addo Elephant Park & Safari||Addo|
|Day 19||Free Day in Addo||Addo|
|Day 20||Return to Cape Town, Dinner on the V&A Waterfront||Cape Town|
|Day 21||Depart Cape Town|
Day 1: Arrive in Victoria Falls, Sunset Cruise
Welcome to Africa! This grand adventure kicks off in Zimbabwe with your arrival at Victoria Falls. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. The fun starts immediately, as after checking in, you'll head right back out for a sunset cruise. Transfer to the dock and hop on a boat for this 2.5-hour excursion down the mighty Zambezi River—the same waterway that feeds Victoria Falls.
As you travel down the river, you'll see giant crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, hippos soaking in the water, and elephants bathing in the river. As the sun sets and gilds the shimmering river, watch as zebras line up at the banks to enjoy their last sip of the day while herons and egrets skim the water. After sunset, you'll return to shore and transfer back to your accommodation.
Day 2: Tour Victoria Falls & Zipline Tour
No trip to southern Africa would be complete without witnessing the spectacle of Mother Nature that is Victoria Falls—the largest waterfall on earth. Here, 17,657 million cubic feet (500 million cm) of water cascade over sheer basalt cliffs every minute. Its different cataracts vary in size, but the tallest is Rainbow Falls, which plunges 354 feet (108 m) into a river gorge below. There is a semi-permanent rainbow here, and during the rainy season, you can see the misty spray from 12 miles (20 km) away.
You'll witness all this grandeur and more on a 2.5-hour guided tour. It begins upon arrival at the rainforest entrance to Victoria Falls National Park. After spending time enjoying the falls and snapping plenty of photos, return to the park entrance where you can browse a craft market. There's a large selection of high-quality items made by local artisans that make great souvenirs. When you're done shopping, enjoy lunch at a restaurant terrace overlooking Batoka Gorge.
Then you'll experience the gorge up close on a hair-rising zipline tour. The Victoria Falls Canopy Tour is one of the most exciting adventure activities in the region, offering fantastic views of the Zambezi rapids, the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge—even the spray of the falls themselves. On this 2.5-hour adventure, you'll experience the riverine forest canopy from a variety of different vantage points via a network of slides and zipline routes. It's ideal for adventure seekers of all ages including families and groups.
Day 3: Adventure Sports & Victoria Falls Township TourThe excitement continues this morning when you head out for a one-hour adventure sports tour. For this excursion, you can choose between two activities. The first is a traditional zipline ride 1,394 feet (425 m) over the canyon with the Zambezi River rushing below you. The second is a "flying fox" experience in which you soar horizontally over the gorge. Both are guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping.
Afterward, enjoy a more leisurely two-hour tour of Victoria Falls' Chinotimba Township. This is a great opportunity to experience a traditional African urban settlement. Chinotimba is home to predominantly the Nambya and Tonga people, who are the original inhabitants of this region. In fact, the majority of all people in Victoria Falls live in Chinotimba, which has a population of approximately 60,000.
During the tour, you'll observe authentic township life as your guide leads you around the oldest houses, neighborhood taverns, local markets, and churches. During a visit to Chinotimba Primary School, you'll meet the headmaster who will take you on a tour. If school is in session, you'll spend time with the local kids and they might even sing you a song.
Day 4: Transfer to Chobe, Elephant Experience & GlampingYour driver will pick you up this morning for the one-hour ride west into Botswana and Chobe National Park. This 12,597-square-foot (11,700 sq m) reserve is the first national park in Botswana (it was created in 1967) and is famous for its 100,000 Kalahari elephants that congregate near the Chobe River. This waterway is also a haven for other exotic wildlife including lions, leopards, hippos, giraffes, wildebeest, and plenty more.
Day 5: Chobe Morning & Afternoon Game Drives
Wake up early and embark on not one but two safari game drives today. The first begins at dawn with a cup of strong coffee. Then you'll head deep into the park and explore its remarkable ecosystems, which include marshland, swamp, rivers, and dry savanna. These are havens for a wide variety of wildlife including elephants, giraffes, zebras, antelope, leopards, and even lions. Morning is a great time to see them, as that's when many animals are at their most active.
You'll return to camp at about 10:30 am and enjoy a full breakfast. After a break to relax and perhaps take a siesta, you'll sit down to high tea at 3 pm. Then it will be time get back in the 4WD vehicle and head out on an afternoon game drive. Know that one of the best areas to spot wildlife is along the Chobe River, where you'll likely see crocodiles and hippos in the water. Often, herds of zebras, gazelles, and buffalo flock to these banks to drink.
Return to camp later in the afternoon, where a roaring fire and a delicious meal await. Sundowners will be served at a scenic viewpoint, and you can relax after a long day while sharing your photos. Perhaps do a bit of stargazing before retiring for the night amid the splendor of the African bush.
Day 6: Rock Paintings of SavutiThe Savuti region of Botswana is a fascinating area that straddles the northern boundaries of Chobe National Park. It's filled with wonders that are both natural and man-made. Case in point: the culture of the San Indigenous people, who are the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa. Their ancestors date all the way back to the Early Stone Age, about 2.6 million years ago. In the last few thousand years, these groups began expressing their culture through rock painting.
Day 7: Transfer to Cape Town, Dinner in the City
After breakfast, you'll depart camp and transfer back to Victoria Falls, where you'll board a three-hour flight to South Africa and the coastal city of Cape Town. Nicknamed "Rainbow Nation" by Archbishop Desmund Tutu, roughly 80% of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry from various ethnic groups. The remainder comes from primarily European, Asian (Indian, Chinese, and others from the formerly enslaved/indentured population), and mixed-race ancestry. You'll see and feel this diversity and complicated history on the streets of Cape Town.
Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel in the city. After settling in, you'll have the rest of the day free to relax and/or explore. Perhaps head to the V&A Waterfront. This historic harbor is popular with both locals and visitors due to its wealth of restaurants, bars, shops, and cafés. It's a great place to relax and sip a cocktail or coffee amid epic waterfront views backed by the looming plateau of Table Mountain.
When dinnertime rolls around, you can take advantage of Cape Town's dynamic culinary scene. Choose between a wide variety of restaurants offering everything under the sun. Options run the gamut from bohemian supper clubs with a party vibe to fine-dining speakeasies to boundary-pushing tapas restaurants and much more.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 8: Cape Peninsula & Penguin Tour, Dinner in Champs BayThis morning, you're off on a half-day adventure to explore the southern end of the Cape Peninsula and witness some exotic wildlife. Your driver will pick you up for the drive south, during which you'll pass charming coastal villages and stunning scenery like Chapman's Peak and fynbos-covered hills. Eventually you'll arrive at Cape Point, a headland affording incredible views over both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. There's also an iconic lighthouse here you can visit.
Then head back up the coast to Simon's Town and the famous Boulders Beach. This stretch of sand is one of the only places in the world where you can walk with African penguins. The rocky beach on a sheltered bay is home to a colony of thousands of these flightless birds, and today you'll take a stroll alongside. It's a real treat, as African penguins are only found on the coast of South Africa and Namibia and are currently on the verge of extinction.
Afterward, continue to Camps Bay, a seaside hamlet just south of Cape Town. It's a great place to enjoy a meal overlooking the water, and there are plenty of solid restaurant options. You can spend time on the waterfront promenade at a mellow café or cocktail bar, dine on seafood and sushi amid ocean views, enjoy wood-fired pizzas, cut into a steak at an upscale grill, and more.
Day 9: Cape Town Wine, Cheese & Chocolate TourJust east of the city is the Cape Winelands region of South Africa. This fertile area is home to an abundance of vineyards and wineries that produce award-winning, world-class wines. On this full-day tasting tour, you'll visit a handful of the best estates in the region. But wine isn't the only treat you'll enjoy—you'll also pair the different vintages you sample with artisanal cheeses and chocolates.
Your guide will pick you up after breakfast for the ride into Cape Winelands and your first stop: Fairview Wine & Cheese. At this combined vineyard/goat farm, you'll enjoy a tasting of eight different wines paired with cheese and olives. Continue into Franschhoek, a small town with an abundance of world-class wineries, luxury hotels, and Michelin-starred restaurants. After a leisurely stroll around town, your guide will recommend a great restaurant where you can enjoy the perfect lunch amid beautiful surroundings.
After eating, travel along the beautiful Helshoogte Pass to the university town of Stellenbosch. With its canal-lined avenues, giant oak trees, and well-preserved historic buildings, this is quite the storybook locale. Just outside of town is Waterford Estate, where you'll enjoy a decadent finale to the day's tour: a wine and chocolate tasting. With the help of a master chocolatier, you'll sample various shiraz, cabernets, and sweet wines served with a variety of light and dark chocolates. Afterward, you'll return to Cape Town.
Day 10: Scooter Tour of Table Mountain
Day 11: Drive to Hermanus, Optional Activities
After enjoying a leisurely morning in Cape Town, you'll check out of your hotel, pick up your rental car, and drive southeast to the tranquil seaside town of Hermanus. The drive takes about two hours and upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel. If you like, head out for a walk along the town's waterfront promenade, which offers great views over the ocean and down the coast.
Should you choose, you can also spend the day relaxing on one of the fine Blue Flag beaches around town, like Grotto Beach. There are also wineries in the area offering tastings, and many have great restaurants, too. If you're really feeling adventurous, the nearby town of Gansbaai is world-famous for its shark cage diving tours, or stop in at the penguin center to learn all about the endangered African penguin and other marine life.
Day 12: Hermanus Cliff Path & Whale WatchingHermanus' famous coastal cliff pathways stretch more than 7 miles (12 km) along the rugged shoreline from the New Harbour to Grotto Beach. Today, you'll enjoy a leisurely hike on these fynbos-lined paths, during which you can stop to enjoy the beaches and waves crashing on the shore. Wildlife is abundant here, as these trails are protected within the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Keep an eye out for a lazy dassie (rock hyrax) sunning itself, or a shy mongoose scurrying about. You can choose to walk just a section of the paths, or get a workout by doing the whole 12k route.
Whales are so abundant around Hermanus that the town appointed the world's first "whale crier," a civil servant whose sole job responsibility is to announce when whales arrive. The man walks the cliff paths every day and is easily identifiable by the whale-tail feather in his cap. When he spots the whales, he blows a mournful echo on his distinctive kelp horn to signal their arrival. This Instagram-worthy chap is a sight to behold and adds to the charm of the experience.
Day 13: Drive to Oudtshoorn, Wine & Chocolate Tour
Today you'll drive four hours east from Hermanus to the town of Oudtshoorn, located in the valley of Klein Karoo. This route follows South Africa's most famous country road: Route 62. Throughout the drive, enjoy the wide vistas of mountain ranges and fertile plains, home to grapevines and fruit orchards.
The area is also prime wine country, which you'll discover on a visit to the Valley of Wine and Roses. Here, you'll stop for a one-hour visit at Ashton Winery, which, besides its great vintages, offers great views of the surrounding countryside. During the visit, you'll sample five different wines paired with artisanal Belgian chocolates guaranteed to tantalize your tastebuds. Afterward, head to your hotel in Oudtshoorn, where you'll overnight.
Day 14: Day Trip to Ostrich Farm, Mountain Biking & Cango Caves
Fun fact: Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world. Yes, the economy of this relaxed town relies on ostrich farming, and there are plenty of such farms that have opened their doors to visitors keen to meet and interact with the birds. In the morning, you'll head over to one for a tour. Just be sure to look and not touch.
After spending the morning coming face-to-beak with the ostriches, you'll hit the trail and explore Karoo's landscapes by mountain bike. The area's arid climate and cloudless skies make it a beautiful place for a ride. However, if you prefer a slower-paced activity, opt for a hot air balloon ride over the region instead. In the early afternoon, you'll visit a winery for lunch (try the famous wagyu beef burger). Then keep the gastronomic experience going with a wine and olive tasting.
Near the winery are the Cango Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch and the tasting, you'll enter this otherworldly limestone labyrinth, which stretches around 2.5 miles (4 km). These underground systems are also a cultural landmark, as ancient cave art here indicates habitation in the early Stone Age. More recently, the caves were used by the Khoikhoi Indigenous people, and some of their early paintings can still be seen on the walls. When you're done exploring the caves, you'll return to the hotel.
Day 15: Drive to Knysna, Sunset CruiseLeave Oudtshoorn behind on a two-hour drive to the seaside town of Knysna (pronounced ny-znah). The drive will take you along the famed Garden Route, one of the most gorgeous coastal drives in the world. And Knysna is a microcosm of all the natural beauty in the region. The town is surrounded by ancient forests and hemmed in by soaring headlands, which also protect a river-fed lagoon. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and will have the day free to relax and enjoy the beaches.
Day 16: Storms River Kayaking & Cliff JumpingGet ready for a day of adventure in Tsitsikamma National Park. This stunning protected area on the Garden Route stretches for about 50 miles (80 km) and is famous for its forests, beaches, and rivers, particularly the Storms River. On this 2.5-hour active tour, you'll transfer up the coast from Knysna to the river's mouth. Here, you'll hop in a kayak and, if the sea is calm enough, ride in from the ocean and under the Storms River Suspension Bridge. From there take a scenic paddle up the river gorge with the tranquil sounds of nature providing the soundtrack.
As you continue up the river, you'll paddle between towering cliffs and even venture into a cave inhabited by bats. When you reach the low-water point, say goodbye to the kayak and hop on a "lilo"—a small inflatable raft perfect for floating through the narrowest parts of the gorge. For the rest of the ride, you'll alternate between hiking over rocks and floating in shallow waters. At the end of the route, the group will make a U-turn and float back down to the kayaks.
On the trip back, you'll have the exhilarating opportunity to dive off the high walls of the gorge into deep pools below. It's a nice, adrenaline-pumping change of pace from the leisurely kayaking. That said, it isn't compulsory—feel free to sit back and watch others take a flying leap as you continue floating happily down the river.
Day 17: Drive to Wilderness National Park
In the morning, drive about 45 minutes west of Knysna to the seaside town of Wilderness and its surrounding national park. This is the heart of South Africa's Garden Route, and here you'll find tropical forests, rivers, beaches, lagoons, and estuaries. Within this diverse ecosystem is a wide array of exotic flora and fauna.
You'll spot some of these specimens as you wind your way through mountain passes where lazy baboons line the roadside. You'll also travel through fertile micro-climates with rows of grapevines and rolling farmland. Feel free to stop in the charming towns of Wilderness and George to stretch your legs on a walk. Or, head to a lagoon and paddle along the water in a canoe while trying to spot endemic birds like kingfishers, warblers, flycatchers, and more.
Day 18: Drive to Addo Elephant Park & Safari
Get back on the road today with a transfer about 3.5 hours east from Knysna to Addo Elephant National Park. From its humble beginnings as a vulnerable area home to just 11 threatened African elephants, Addo is now the third-largest national park in South Africa and a sanctuary to more than 500 of these creatures. It also protects various other exotic species including Big Five animals like lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos. Upon arrival, you'll meet your expert guide, hop in a 4WD safari vehicle, and head out on a safari game drive to see the park's animal residents up close.
While animal sightings can never be guaranteed, you'll almost certainly spot some of the hundreds of African elephants that reside in this park. You'll also see plenty of antelope, zebras, warthogs, Cape buffalo, meerkats, and more. And while spotting other members of the Big Five here is slightly rarer, you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of the elusive rhino or shy, nocturnal leopard. At the end of the day, you'll retire to your camp in the park, where you'll overnight.
Day 19: Free Day in Addo
Today is yours to explore even more of Addo. The best way to do this is on another full-day game drive. Maybe this time you'll spot some animals you might have missed yesterday, including Big Five specimens like lions, leopards, and rhinos. There's plenty of other incredible wildlife here too, from diverse birdlife to mobs of curious meerkats. The best place to try and spot all of them in one area is around watering holes. At the end of the day, you'll return to camp.
Day 20: Return to Cape Town, Dinner on the V&A WaterfrontIn the morning, you'll leave camp and make your way back to Cape Town. You can choose to travel an hour from Addo to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), where you'll drop off your rental car and take a flight, or retrace your steps on a scenic full-day drive back to Cape Town. However you arrive, once in the city, you'll check in to your hotel and can spend the remainder of the day relaxing.
Day 21: Depart Cape Town
Spend your last morning in South Africa enjoying a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. Then, at the appropriate time, your driver will pick you up and transfer you to the hotel, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!