- Hit the road along Namibia's gorgeous Skeleton Coast
- Explore red deserts and track elephants in Damaraland
- Visit wildlife sanctuaries in Etosha National Park
- Tour the highlights of Cape Town, like Table Mountain
- Enjoy Cape wine tastings and safaris in Kruger National Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Windhoek, Optional Activities||Windhoek|
|Day 2||Drive to Sossusvlei, Optional Activities||Sossusvlei|
|Day 3||Free Day in Sossusvlei||Sossusvlei|
|Day 4||Drive to Swakopmund, Picnic on the Skeleton Coast||Swakopmund|
|Day 5||Drive to Damaraland, Optional Activities||Damaraland|
|Day 6||Elephant Tracking & Sunset Game Drive||Damaraland|
|Day 7||Drive to Etosha National Park, Optional Activities||Etosha National Park|
|Day 8||Etosha Safari Activities||Etosha National Park|
|Day 9||Drive to Windhoek||Windhoek|
|Day 10||Fly to Cape Town, Traditional African Dinner||Cape Town|
|Day 11||City Tour, Table Mountain & Dinner on the Waterfront||Cape Town|
|Day 12||Cape Peninsula & Penguin Tour, Dinner in Champs Bay||Cape Town|
|Day 13||Transfer to Hermanus, Food Tour||Hermanus|
|Day 14||Hermanus Cliff Path, Marine Big Five Tour||Hermanus|
|Day 15||Cape Winelands Tour & Tastings||Franschhoek|
|Day 16||Curated Wine Tour||Franschhoek|
|Day 17||Fly to Kruger National Park, Sunset Safari||Kruger National Park|
|Day 18||Day Trip to Private Game Reserve||Kruger National Park|
|Day 19||Morning & Afternoon Game Drives||Kruger National Park|
|Day 20||Transfer to Johannesburg & Panorama Route||Johannesburg|
|Day 21||Depart Johannesburg|
Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek, Optional Activities
Welcome to Namibia! You'll arrive in Windhoek, a welcoming capital city filled with culture, museums, markets, great restaurants, rooftop bars, and much more. Its colonial legacy is evident in the architecture that harkens back to Windhoek's days as a protectorate in the former colony of German South West Africa (now Namibia). Upon arrival, you'll pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to your hotel. After checking in, you can head out for a self-guided tour of the city.For a fun outing, visit Windhoek's most famous architectural landmarks. Highlights include the Alte Feste ("Old Fort"), a former colonial military fortress that's now a museum; the Lutheran Christuskirche ("Christ Church"), which dates to 1896; and the Supreme Court, which was built in the mid-'90s and was designed in a grand and imposing North African architectural style. You can also head to trendy Am Weinberg, a hip bohemian area filled with cool cafés, restaurants, and spas. In the evening, perhaps enjoy a traditional African braai (barbecue) at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Drive to Sossusvlei, Optional ActivitiesHop in the rental car for your first day road-tripping through Namibia. Your destination is Sossusvlei, a red-desert region located approximately five to six hours (242 miles/390km) southwest of Windhoek. Know that Nambia has a good roadway system, with a mix of both paved and gravel roads. Always be vigilant here while driving, as wildlife crossings are common, particularly at night.
Day 3: Free Day in SossusvleiToday is yours to explore one of the most stunning landscapes in Africa. If you like, rise early for a champagne breakfast and marvel at the morning light as it gilds the towering dunes. Then, continue exploring the claypan at Deadvlei, or visit the famous Dune 45. Known for its elegant shape and the sharp lines of its ridges, it holds the title of being the most photographed dune in the world. You can hike up to the top or, for something less strenuous, photograph this natural wonder from the roadside.
Day 4: Drive to Swakopmund, Picnic on the Skeleton Coast
Get another early start this morning as you hop in the car and head north along the ocean into northern Namibia—a region known as the Skeleton Coast. Your destination is the seaside town of Swakopmund, a journey that takes five to six hours and covers 248 miles (400 km). During the drive, you'll cross the Tropic of Capricorn and pass oases like the Ghaub Nature Reserve and landmarks like the Kuiseb Pass. The latter stretches 12 miles (20 km) through Kuiseb Canyon and features incredible mountain scenery.
Then cross the desolate gravel plains of the Namib Desert before reaching the port town of Walvis Bay. Stop here for a picnic lunch by the ocean amid the sight of flamingoes wading in the estuary. Afterward, continue north to Swakopmund, which is just a few minutes away. The town is known for its wide-open avenues, German-colonial architecture, and the otherworldly desert terrain that surrounds it. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and will have the remainder of the day free.
If there's time left and you don't mind more driving, you can continue north to the holiday town of Henties Bay. Nearby is Cape Cross, where a massive colony of thousands of seals congregate on the beach. Or, you can choose to relax in Swakopmund, enjoy its beaches, and visit attractions like the National Marine Aquarium and Swakopmund Museum, which features zoology and geology exhibits. End the day with a sunset stroll on the beach followed by dinner in town.
Day 5: Drive to Damaraland, Optional Activities
In the morning, continue north from Swakopmund to Damaraland, an unspoiled desert region inhabited by the Damara Indigenous people that's also a haven for endemic wildlife. The approximately five-hour, 267-mile (430 km) drive follows a gorgeous route along the Skeleton Coast with no shortage of beautiful scenery. Beyond the coastal vistas, you'll travel along expansive grasslands and over dry riverbeds.
The route passes the seal colony of Cape Cross, which is actually the world's largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals. Here you can stop at a local lodge for lunch, or enjoy a picnic on the beach. Other optional stops along the way include lichen fields and salt pans, which are ideal spots for birding.
Later in the afternoon, you'll arrive at your lodge in Damaraland. Upon entering the region, be on the lookout for famous wildlife like desert elephants, black rhinos, giraffes, Hartmann's mountain zebras, and other pastoral animals. Also, don't miss the stunning geological formations, which include the Vingerklip rock needle and Twfylefontein, site of ancient rock engravings dating back 6,000 years. The Petrified Forest is another highlight, as it's home to 260-million-year-old tree trunks.
Day 6: Elephant Tracking & Sunset Game DriveGet ready for one of the most popular activities in Damaraland: seeking out herds of elephants. After breakfast, you'll meet up with a guide and tracker who will lead you to a conservation area. Here, you'll all head out in search of the elusive desert elephants of the region. Along the way, you'll encounter local Damara people and can experience their traditions and culture firsthand. Enjoy lunch under the shade of a desert tree before returning to the lodge.
Day 7: Drive to Etosha National Park, Optional ActivitiesRise early for the drive northeast and farther inland to Etosha National Park. The trip covers 210 miles (340 km), meaning you should reach Etosha's southern entrance by early afternoon. This allows for stops along the way, like at the small town of Outjo, which is a great place for a coffee break. You'll also likely want to snap photos at Ugab Terrace, a dramatic plateau looking out over the Ugab River.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 8: Etosha Safari ActivitiesToday you'll have your pick of adventures in Etosha National Park. One option is a half-day guided game drive in a safari vehicle (refreshments and park entrance fees included). Even better is the full-day guided safari, which lasts about nine hours and affords a better chance to spot the wildlife.
Day 9: Drive to WindhoekLeave Etosha early for the drive south back to Windhoek. It's a six-hour ride, but you can break it up with a couple of stops on the way. One option is the town of Okahandja, which boasts a famous open-air craft market. A stop here is a great opportunity to purchase hand-made curios and African souvenirs to take home. Upon arrival in Windhoek, you'll check in to your hotel and will have the rest of the day free.
Day 10: Fly to Cape Town, Traditional African DinnerIt's time to bid Namibia farewell as you drive to the airport in Windhoek and drop off your rental car. Then, board a plane for the two-hour flight to Cape Town. One of the three capitals of South Africa, this city is a hotbed of diversity. The majority of residents here are Bantu people of different ethnicities. The remainder come from primarily European, Asian, and mixed-race ancestry. This diversity is seen and felt on the streets and in the neighborhoods of Cape Town.
Day 11: City Tour, Table Mountain & Dinner on the WaterfrontAt 8 am, a car will pick you up for a full-day tour around Cape Town. First, take a 40-minute ferry ride to Robben Island, the infamous prison (now a museum) where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 imprisoned years. After returning to the mainland, drive through the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood, once home to enslaved people from Malaysia and Indonesia. Other stops include Company's Garden, the Houses of Parliament, and the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope. You'll also visit Green Market Square, which once served as a slave market but today is a popular flea market.
After taking plenty of photos of Cape Town landmarks, you'll drive into the hills and hop on one of the city's famous cable cars. This aerial cableway will take you 991 feet (302 m) above sea level to Cape Town's grandest natural wonder: Table Mountain. From its plateau at 3,501 feet (1,067 m), you'll enjoy panoramic views over the city all the way out to Robben Island. Time permitting, you may even witness the sunset over the Atlantic Seaboard. Later, you'll transfer back to your hotel.
Day 12: Cape Peninsula & Penguin Tour, Dinner in Champs Bay
This morning, you're off on a guided 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 as well as some optional hikes.
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 them. 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 13: Transfer to Hermanus, Food Tour
Transfer a couple of hours southeast to the oceanfront town of Hermanus. On the way, you'll stop in the Elgin Valley for a food and wine tour. Located just over Sir Lowry's Pass, this stunning region is known for producing cool-climate wines like chardonnay and pinot noir. The foodie experience begins with an olive oil tasting followed by a stop at a farm to sample fresh products including honey, chocolate, preserves, cheeses, and apples.Then you'll stop at one of the region's many boutique wineries. Here you'll taste some great varietals, from elegant reds to crisp whites and renowned MCC (sparkling wine). You may even get to join locals for a glass of freshly made apple cider. After a break for lunch, you'll continue to Hermanus, where you'll check in to your hotel.
Day 14: Hermanus Cliff Path, Marine Big Five Tour
Hermanus' 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 7-mile (12 k) route.
This region is also famous for another kind of animal: whales. In season (June-Nov), the coast here affords some of the best whale watching in the world, as this is where pods of southern right whales come near shore to breed. While it's great to spot them from land, in the afternoon you'll get the chance to see them up close as you board a boat for a three-hour tour to spot the Big Five marine animals: whales, dolphins, penguins, seals, and great white sharks.
It's a great opportunity to see these magnificent specimens in their natural habitat. Once onboard, you'll enjoy a welcome beverage and receive your all-weather jacket, then you'll sail off to Dyer Island. The waters in this area are a gathering spot for the five animals mentioned above, which means you'll have a great chance of spotting most if not all of them. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 15: Cape Winelands Tour & Tastings
In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the one-hour ride north from Hermanus to the gorgeous Cape Winelands region of South Africa, which is some of the most fertile land in the world. For this reason, Cape Winelands is the food and wine capital of South Africa, boasting Michelin-starred restaurants and dozens of wine estates. 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 with artisanal cheeses and chocolates.
The first stop is 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 historic town with French roots home to an abundance of world-class restaurants and wineries. After a leisurely stroll around town, your guide will recommend a great restaurant where you can enjoy the perfect lunch amid beautiful surroundings.
Afterward, you'll hit the road again and travel along the beautiful Helshoogte Pass to the historic university town of Stellenbosch. With its canal-lined avenues, giant oak trees, and well-preserved historic buildings, this is quite the storybook locale. In the vineyards just outside of town is Waterford Estate, where you'll enjoy a decadent finale to the day's wine tour. At the end of the day, you'll return to Franschhoek and the hotel where you'll overnight.
Day 16: Curated Wine Tour
Today you'll embark on a full-day wine experience around Franschhoek that's curated to your specific tastes. It starts with a tram ride to a local estate where a knowledgeable wine guide will be waiting. Upon arrival, he or she will reveal fascinating insight into Franschhoek's history of viticulture, local grape varieties, and the science of winemaking. Of course, throughout this hands-on experience, you'll sample different varietals while discovering the subtle flavors of Cape Wineland's terroir.
Following the tasting is a visit to the wine cellar followed by a specially curated three-course lunch at the estate restaurant. Afterward, you'll visit two additional Franschhoek wine estates and sample premium vintages at each. At the end of the experience, you'll return to your hotel in Franschhoek.
Day 17: Fly to Kruger National Park, Sunset Safari
At the appropriate time, you'll leave Franschhoek and transfer about an hour to Cape Town's airport. Here, you'll board a plane for the 2.5-hour flight east to Kruger National Park. Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to one of the premier safari lodges in the area. After check-in, feel free to relax and perhaps take a refreshing dip in the pool.
At dusk, you'll board an open-topped 4WD vehicle and embark on a sunset safari to spot some of the park's plentiful wildlife, including rare black rhinos. After enjoying an African sunset over the savanna, your guide will lead you on a nocturnal wildlife tour. With powerful spotlights, you might spy animals like hyenas and lions out for their nightly hunt. Afterward, you'll return to the lodge for dinner.
Day 18: Day Trip to Private Game Reserve
Today you'll visit a private game reserve in greater Kruger National Park. It's a great opportunity to enjoy a more intimate safari experience, during which you can observe hundreds of bird species and dozens of species of mammals without the mass crowds. Animals you might spot today include the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo.
In this park, you'll embark on two game drives. The first leaves at dawn and has you back at the lodge in time for breakfast; the other is a sunset safari that departs in the afternoon and returns after dark. At that point, you'll return to the lodge where you can enjoy dinner and drinks followed by some quality time around the campfire.
Day 19: Morning & Afternoon Game DrivesHead out for a full day of safari fun on both morning and evening game drives. Leave the lodge before sunrise in a 4WD vehicle in search of Big Five animals like lions and leopards, which are most active in the early morning. After a short breakfast and coffee break, you'll continue on the safari before returning to the lodge at around 11 am. Enjoy lunch at the lodge followed by some relaxed downtime in the African sun.
Day 20: Transfer to Johannesburg & Panorama RouteConsider waking up early for a sunrise walk before breakfast, as these will be your last moments amid the majesty of Kruger. After eating, your driver will pick you up for the ride to Johannesburg. The drive takes a few hours, but you'll take a detour along the Panorama Route, which features some of the most incredible scenery in eastern South Africa. First, you'll stop at Blyde River Canyon. At 66,585 acres (26,946 ha), this is the third-largest canyon in the world. Its soaring cliffs rise as high as 2,625 feet (800 m), and much of it is blanketed in lush, subtropical foliage.
After stopping at plenty of viewpoints to snap photos, you'll continue on to Johannesburg, arriving at around 5 pm. When you do, your driver will drop you off at your hotel and you can spend the remainder of the evening relaxing. Perhaps enjoy dinner at one of the prestige restaurants in the heart of the city.