Take nine days to notice a curated list of some of South Africa's nicest spots. Open your outing in Cape Town, where you can check out the city from atop Table Mountain and then get down into its many attractions. Venture out to the vines of Franschhoek to sample from its renowned cellars, jump down to Johannesburg for a cultural lesson and dinner, then conclude your trip on a safari through Kruger National Park.

Highlights

  • Take a scenic drive down the Cape Peninsula
  • Sip from the famous cellars of the Cape Winelands
  • Get a history lesson in Johannesburg’s Soweto district
  • Search for the Big 5 on safari in Kruger National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town, City Tour & Table Mountain Cape Town
Day 2 Full Day Cape Highlights Tour Cape Town
Day 3 Cheese, Wine, & Chocolate Tour in Winelands Franschhoek
Day 4 Free Day in Franschhoek Franschhoek
Day 5 Winelands to Johannesburg, Soweto Tour Johannesburg
Day 6 Johannesburg to Kruger, Big 5 Night Drive Kruger National Park
Days 7-8 Safari in the Kruger National Park Kruger National Park
Day 9 Depart Kruger via Johannesburg, Flight Home  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, City Tour & Table Mountain

Cable car to Table Mountain
Cable car to Table Mountain

Welcome to South Africa! Arrive at Cape Town International Airport and transfer to your accommodation to unpack and unwind. After you settle in, spend the rest of your day exploring the city. 

Known as the 'Rainbow Nation,' Cape Town and South Africa have a long and complicated history involving a multitude of ethnic and cultural groups. The area's history starts with the indigenous Khoisan and Bantu people, who were the primary residents of the area until the Portuguese and Dutch arrived in South Africa, beginning a centuries-long occupation.

These days, South Africa is home to a diverse population. Roughly 80% of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry from a variety of ethnic groups, each with a distinct language. The remainder of the community is made up primarily of European, Asian (Indian, Chinese, and others from the formerly enslaved and indentured population), and mixed-race (Cape Coloured) ancestry. 

Meet your local guide in the city center for a 4-hour walking tour of the historic city. You'll explore the different eras of Cape Town and learn about South Africa's history, as well as the people who shaped it. Stops along the tour include the Company's Garden, Parliament, Green Market Square, The Castle of Good Hope, and the Slave Lodge.

The Company's Garden dates back to the 1650s when European settlers farmed the land to grow fresh produce to replenish ships rounding the cape. Around the corner is the Iziko Slave Lodge, a national history museum dedicated to exploring the history of slavery at the Cape. Since its construction in 1679, the building has functioned as a center for the bustling slave trade (primarily operated by the Dutch East India Company) as well as a government building and supreme court. 

Nearby sits the historic Green Market Square, which has served as a slave market, vegetable market, and center for political protests under Apartheid. These days it hosts a flea market with African souvenirs and crafts for sale.


Just down the street is the Castle of Good Hope, South Africa's oldest existing Dutch East India colonial building. On the way, you'll pass by several memorials and monuments, including the We Are Still Here Street Memorial to destitute children and the District Six Museum, which commemorates forced relocation under apartheid. 

After strolling the streets of Cape Town, stop for lunch in the city center. In the afternoon, give your legs a rest with a hop-on-hop-off tour aboard the distinctive red open-top bus. Start at the Cape Town City Center Terminal, then take the bus to Table Mountain. From the bus stop, continue to the summit on the cable car for spectacular views of the city, mountains, and ocean. Return to Cape Town in time for dinner at the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, where you'll find a variety of fine dining restaurants and pubs with views of the ocean.

Day 2: Full Day Cape Highlights Tour

Chapman's Peak Drive
Chapman's Peak Drive

Today you will be taken on your full day guided Cape Highlights Tour, including entry fees and a standard lunch.  (Bar accounts / beverages, dinner, tips and gratuities will be for your own account)

Drink in the Cape Town’s magnificent coastline, fynbos-covered mountains and indigenous wildlife on this scenic tour of the Mother City's brightest gems. End off the day with some of the Cape’s finest wines in either the historic Constantia Valley or in the world-renowned Winelands district.

Fynbos (literally fine bush), known for its hard, tough and leathery-to-the-touch small leaves, is endemic to South Africa’s Western Cape.  It is an ancient type of vegetation that has developed over a period of about 60-million years.  Covering around 80% of the Cape Floral Kingdom – about 90 000km2 – fynbos is made up of four primary plant groups – proteas (large, broad-leafed shrubs), ericas (low-growing shrubs), restios (thin, reed-like plants) and geophytes (bulbs).

The vegetation is dependent on controlled fire that needs to burn approximately every 15 years for seed dispersal and to stimulate growth. However, the Cape Floral Kingdom often experiences frequent fires that can have a negative effect on the ecosystem, as young fynbos seed banks become depleted, which has an impact on the diversity of plant species.

You can find fynbos on the mountain ranges of the Western Cape, including, of course, on Table Mountain, which forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

With approximately 9 000 species of fynbos within the Cape Floral Kingdom, around 1 500 of which grow on Table Mountain, there are a number of fynbos species to look out for while visiting the mountain.

Itinerary Includes:
- Chapman’s Peak Drive.  Chapman’s Peak Drive toll road winds its way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the Atlantic Coast on the south-western tip of South Africa. Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world.  Chapman’s Peak Drive is affectionately known as #Chappies.

- Cape Point.  Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs towering more than 200 metres above the sea and cutting deep into the ocean, provide a spectacular background for the park’s rich bio-diversity. Cape Point falls within the southern section of Table Mountain National park. The natural vegetation of the areas – fynbos – comprises the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms.

- Boulders Beach penguin colony.  Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town has a lot going for it: the ancient granite boulders protect it from the wind and large waves, making it an ideal swimming spot for kids. The beach is always clean and safe, because it falls under the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. It is rarely crowded, and kids will be delighted by the stunning rockpools. But the soft white sand and warm(ish) waters are not the only reasons why 60,000 visitors a year make their way along the coast, past Simon’s Town, to Boulders Beach. The local inhabitants—African penguins in their thousands—know how to pull the crowds. 

African Penguins used to be known as jackass penguins because of their distinctive braying, and they’re the only penguins found on the continent. Colonies can be found from southern Namibia all the way around the South African coast to Port Elizabeth, but few places offer as remarkable a viewing point as Boulders Beach.

- Follow the False Bay coastline past Simon’s Town and Muizenberg.  The False Bay coastline of Cape Town is generally more laid back and not as frenetic as the Atlantic coastline, although in peak season these family oriented beaches can still become pretty busy and the waters are often filled with surfers. 

One of South Africa’s oldest towns and Naval base, Simon’s Town (sometimes misspelt as Simons Town or Simonstown) is a picturesque and historical town where many happy memories are waiting to be made just 35km outside Cape Town. From the Toy and Navy museums to the eateries and shops.   The Sweetest Thing offers an exceptional array of mouth-watering cakes, pastries, pies and sweet treats that are proudly local. Stop by Monocle & Mermaid for a hot cup of coffee, pastries or wrap and browse their local art and music on sale while soaking up their charming décor.  Dine on a seafood platter, oysters, prawns or the catch of the day at local favourite Bertha’s as you look out onto the harbour. For classic fish and chips, check out the Salty Sea Dog just across the way in Wharf Street  If you’re heading towards Cape Point, stop over at the Black Marlin for great views and a relaxing atmosphere as you enjoy some fresh seafood.

Muizenberg Beach, very popular during its heyday in the '60s and '70s, is where every surfer learns to cut his teeth and one of the most popular integrated beaches in Cape Town. Synonymous with the colourful beach huts that make their way onto picture postcards of Cape Town, this very long beach can get pretty busy during peak season but the waves are not too powerful and there are other facilities here such as put-putt courses and water slides so that it never feels crowded.

- Lunch at a restaurant of your choice

- Two Constantia Valley wine tastings.  Simon Van der Stel founded Constantia’s first wine farm, Groot Constantia in 1685.  Constantia is a rich and diverse destination of it’s own within Cape Town, with wine farms, restaurants & many other attractions to look forward to on a short or long visit!

Day 3: Cheese, Wine, & Chocolate Tour in Winelands

Overlooking the Winelands
Overlooking the Winelands

Enjoy a full-day cheese, wine, and chocolate tour—a heavenly combination. You'll sample dark chocolates, creamy cheeses, and superb wine while experiencing South Africa's stunning scenery and acclaimed hospitality. 

Start your day with a drive to the Fairview Winery from Cape Town. With several hundred years of wine-making heritage originating on the farm, it's no wonder that Fairview wine has become a cornerstone of South African wine history. Enjoy a wine and goat cheese tasting in an intimate setting, then head outside to visit the winery's furry mascots (baby goats!) and take in the beautiful views. 

Your next stop is the Tokara winery in Stellenbosch for wine tasting, located on the southern slopes of Simonsberg Mountain about 20 minutes down the road. Round out your wine tour with a 20-minute drive to visit Bilton, on the foothills of the Helderberg Mountains. Here you can sample fine South African wines, accompanied by dark Belgian chocolates to complement the flavors of the wines.

Spend the night in Franschhoek.

Day 4: Free Day in Franschhoek

Franschhoek wine tram
Franschhoek wine tram

Spend the day exploring Franschhoek. One of South Africa's oldest European towns, Franschhoek is nestled in the Franschhoek Valley in the mountains of the Cape Winelands. This area is the heartland of South Africa's food and wine, with award-winning wineries around every corner. 

The original inhabitants of this region are the herder Khoikhoi and the hunter-gatherer San people. Later, in the late 17th century, French Huguenot refugees arrived in the valley, bringing wine agriculture and establishing family farms. 

Spend the afternoon exploring the region and everything it has to offer. 

  • Franschhoek boasts several of South Africa's 'Top 100' restaurants and is renowned as a culinary capital. Choose from one of several excellent options and enjoy a decadent meal and world-class wine
  • Tour the area's wine cellars, many of which are housed in original Cape Dutch homesteads complete with towering oaks and rolling vineyards. From small boutique wineries to extensive cellars, the winery options are as varied as the wine they produce
  • View local and national art at the many art galleries which line Huguenot Road, the town's main shopping street
  • Recharge and relax at one of the area's many luxurious spas
  • Go shopping for gifts and treasures to bring home in the town's shops and boutiques. Browse for wine, jewelry, artwork, chocolates, and more to bring back. Many of the area's wine estates also feature superb bakeries where guests can purchase baked bread, fresh olive oils, charcuterie, and much more
  • Visit the luxurious Val de Vie resort for a game of polo or golf at the award-winning Paarl Valley golf course 
  • Rent a bicycle and explore the area on your own, or opt for a horseback wine-tasting tour
  • Explore the beautiful nature of the Franschhoek Valley with a hike on the trails in nearby Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve
  • If you're having a hard time deciding where to spend your day, join a local tour to visit a curated selection of wineries, with options for all tastes and palates
  • For a wine tasting you'll never forget, take a ride on the Franschhoek Wine Tram as it winds its way through the lush valley vineyards. Hop off when you reach your preferred winery, then enjoy a world-class picnic in the vineyards before catching the tram to the next winery

Day 5: Winelands to Johannesburg, Soweto Tour

Braamfontein streets
Braamfontein streets

In the morning transfer back to the Cape Town International Airport, then board your flight to the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

In the afternoon enjoy a guided Johannesburg and Soweto Tour.

Johannesburg (also called Jozi, Jo'burg, and eGoli) is South Africa's largest city and one of the world's largest urban areas. The town dates back to 1886 when workers arrived to mine the large deposits of gold. Within a few years, the population of the city had ballooned, with thousands of native African and Indian workers working in the gold mining industry. Due to racial segregation during the Apartheid era, the workers were forced to live in separate townships outside of the city limits. The most famous of these are Soweto (short for South-West Township) and Lenasia, which was home to a large population of South Africans of Indian descent. Several prominent individuals have called the districts home, including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and the comedian Trevor Noah. 

In the afternoon head out for a guided half-day tour of the Soweto Township. Soweto's history stems back to the early 1900s when the government began forcibly separating blacks from whites by removing the black population from the city and relocating them into separate areas. These were separated from the white neighborhoods by a cordon sanitaire (sanitary corridor) like a river, road, or industrial area. 

The area experienced civil unrest during the Apartheid era, with the most notable riots occurring in 1976. The riots followed a rule that Afrikaans should be the official language for schools of black Africans in the area (most of whom spoke indigenous African languages). Tens of thousands of black students took to the streets to protest the decision. The demonstrators were met with police violence and brutality; several hundred students were killed, and many more were injured. 

One of the murdered students was 12-year-old Hector Pieterson. His story became the face of the student uprising after a photo of his body being carried by an older student gained international fame. The Hector Pieterson Memorial Site commemorates the students' bravery.

After stopping by the memorial, enjoy a quiet stroll down Vilazaki Street to see the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu and visit the Nelson Mandela Museum. Along the way, you'll pass street vendors selling fresh fruit, snacks, and various African arts—the perfect excuse to stop for a mid-afternoon treat and a quick shop for souvenirs.

Stop to visit Constitution Hill, the new home of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Round out the tour in the heart of the city at the Carlton Center, then take the elevator to the 50th floor for panoramic views of Johannesburg.

Day 6: Johannesburg to Kruger, Big 5 Night Drive

Male lion at Balule Nature Reserve
Male lion at Balule Nature Reserve

Today you head to the Greater Kruger National Park, one of South Africa's most remarkable safari destinations. Depending on your preference and timing, you may choose to fly, shuttle with a driver, or rent a vehicle to complete the drive yourself. 

The park was created in 1926 when Sabi Game Reserve joined with the adjacent Shingedzi Game Reserve and local farms to create South Africa's first national park. With a rich history and vast landscapes, the park is a must-see destination for unforgettable wildlife experiences. 

Within the park and the adjoining private reserves that make up Greater Kruger, choose from a wide variety of accommodations, from rustic bush lodges and tent camps to 5-star luxury all-inclusive resorts. No matter what your budget, you'll find unique lodging in a breathtaking landscape. 

After arriving at the lodge, take some time to freshen up and relax. Have a drink at the bar to unwind, go for a swim, or stroll around the lodge to stretch your legs after the day's travel. 

In the evening, board an open Land Cruiser for your first game drive in the park. The three-hour drive is a thrilling and exciting opportunity to see Africa's big wildlife up close. The Big 5 include elephants, buffalo, rhino, lion, and leopard, and were named by big-game hunters for being five of Africa's biggest most dangerous animals to hunt. Keep your eyes peeled for nighttime animals as you cruise around the park in the comfort of the Land Cruiser. When darkness falls, the tour guides use spotlights to scan the nighttime for nocturnal animals. 

Top off the evening with a drink as you listen to the sounds of the nighttime bush life.

Days 7-8: Safari in the Kruger National Park

Elephant family
Elephant family

Spend the day on safari in the Kruger National Park enjoying a variety of activities. Beat the heat with a dip in the pool or a relaxing lounge chair in the shade, then enjoy morning and afternoon game drives to see the park's incredible wildlife. 

Birders will delight in the hundreds of birds species, including the southern yellow-billed hornbill, crested barbet, and Burchell's glossy starling. 

Keep your eyes peeled for wild animals—lions, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, giraffe, and dozens of other animal species call the African bush home. 

See the terrapins playing in the river pools, hear the calls of the Pied Kingfisher and the Magpie Shrike and listen to the chirping of tree frogs and the wind blowing through the savannah grass. 

Day 9: Depart Kruger via Johannesburg, Flight Home

Kruger plains
Kruger plains

After your morning safari, check out of your lodge and transfer to Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit to take your domestic flight to the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. From here, catch your connecting flight home, or continue your trip in South Africa. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Explore South Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg, & Kruger Safari - 9 Days
Map of Explore South Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg, & Kruger Safari - 9 Days