Enjoy 11 days amid some of South Africa's eastern highlights on this itinerary. Tour both urban and natural Cape Town via scenic drives and oceanic experiences, sip and cycle through the vines of the Winelands, and safari with the wildlife of the Eastern Cape for a look at this captivating country.

Highlights

  • Browse the bustling V&A Waterfront
  • Meet the penguin colony of Boulders Beach
  • Take in the views from atop Table Mountain
  • Spin through the Winelands on a guided bike tour
  • Seek out the “big five” and their friends on safari

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town Cape Town
Day 2 Guided Cape Peninsula Sidecar Tour Cape Town
Day 3 Shark Cage Diving Adventure Cape Town
Day 4 Guided Sea Kayak & Table Mountain Tour Cape Town
Day 5 Cape Town to Franschhoek, Afternoon Free Franschhoek
Day 6 Guided Bike Tour of the Winelands Franschhoek
Day 7 Franschhoek to Eastern Cape Safari Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Days 8-10 Eastern Cape Safari Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 11 Depart Eastern Cape via Cape Town  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town

Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background
Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background

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. 

After checking in to your accommodation, spend the afternoon relaxing, taking in the views, and exploring the town. In the evening, head to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Shop for art and crafts at the expansive Watershed market, visit the Two Oceans Aquarium to explore underwater life, or enjoy a harbor cruise as you watch the sunset. Other options include the Diamond Museum, which explores the history of the diamond rush in South Africa, or a helicopter flight to see Cape Town's sights from the sky. 

For dinner,  choose from a variety of restaurant and bar options.

Day 2: Guided Cape Peninsula Sidecar Tour

Cape Point
Cape Point

Hit the road with your guide for a full-day sidecar adventure on this Cape Peninsula tour. The Cape Peninsula is a rocky peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean at the south-western extremity of the African continent. At the southern end of the peninsula are Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. On the northern end is Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town. The Cape Peninsula has outstanding flora and fauna and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Cape Floral Region. 

Head out from Cape Town early in the morning, passing Cape Town University and Constantia before heading for Ou Kaapse Weg in Noordhoek. Stop here for a coffee break and some photos, then head to the Cape Point Nature Reserve where you will visit the Cape of Good Hope and the lighthouse.

Afterward, head to Simons Town and visit the penguin colony before breaking for lunch at a local seafood restaurant along the water in the sleepy fishing town.

In the afternoon head to the scenic Boyes Drive above Muizenberg—famous for its surfing—then continue to the Constantia Winelands district. Pick from the many wineries to experience a South African wine tasting, then return to the city in time for dinner.

Day 3: Shark Cage Diving Adventure

This could be you
This could be you

Get an early start for your full-day shark diving adventure. Meet the rest of your group at the Great White House in Kleinbaai, a two-hour drive from Cape Town, where you'll gather for breakfast and a wetsuit fitting. Throughout the day, you'll be accompanied by a marine biologist and an expert crew, who will guide you on the whole experience. No previous diving experience is necessary.

Kick things off with a pre-trip safety briefing, as well as a biology lesson on the life history of great white sharks. From here, make the short walk down to the harbor to board Slashfin—a custom-designed, luxury boat named after a legendary shark with a unique dorsal fin. It's an exhilarating 20-25 minute boat ride to Dyer Island, which, together with the nearby Geyser Island, forms a narrow channel known as Shark Alley.  Keep in mind that depending on the time of year, the ride to Shark Alley can be quite cold and windy, so be sure to bring a jacket. 

After finding a suitable place to anchor, the adventure begins! You'll spend about two hours anchored, but this depends on shark activity, conditions, as well as the number of divers. After getting suited up, dive down to see the incredible animals close-up from the safety of a shark-proof cage. While you're waiting for your turn, spend time learning about the behavior of this misunderstood apex predator. You'll learn how and where the sharks feed, breed, and breach. 

Depending on the day, you'll likely also see at least two or more members of the Marine Big Five—dolphins, whales, penguins, seals, and sharks, as well as a variety of bird species. After the dive, if the weather permits, take a quick trip through the infamous Shark Alley. 

Arrive back at the Great White House, and debrief with soup and bread to warm you up. Showers are available here if you want to freshen up before heading out for your next adventure.

Return to Cape Town in the evening.

Day 4: Guided Sea Kayak & Table Mountain Tour

Looking down the cableway
Looking down the cableway

Start your morning off with a sunrise kayak on the Cape Town coast. Meet your guide at Moullie Point, then cruise on comfortable and stable kayaks as you keep watch for dolphins, sunfish, and whales. Depending on your ability level, enjoy a relaxed morning paddle or test your skill on the water as you cruise around looking for wildlife. 

In the afternoon, let your arms rest with a hop-on-hop-off tour aboard the distinctive, 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 rotating cable car for spectacular views of the city, mountains, and ocean. Once at the top, take in the scenery from the walking paths. Keep an eye out for the playful dassies sunbathing in the sun (surprisingly, the little creatures are actually the elephant's closest living relative). 

Take the cable car down the mountain, then return Cape Town in time for dinner at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, where you'll find a variety of fine dining restaurants and pubs with views of the ocean.

Day 5: Cape Town to Franschhoek, Afternoon Free

Franschhoek wine tram
Franschhoek wine tram

In the morning, transfer to Franschhoek, a one-hour drive from Cape Town. One of South Africa's oldest European towns, Franschhoek is nestled in the Franschhoek Valley in the mountains of the Cape Winelands. This is South Africa's heartland, with award-winning farms and wineries around every corner.

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

After checking in, 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 options are as varied as the wine they produce. 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.
  • View local and national art at the galleries lining Huguenot Road, the main shopping street in Franschhoek
  • 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 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 Franschhoek Valley with a hike on the trails in nearby Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve

Day 6: Guided Bike Tour of the Winelands

So many views
So many views

Start your morning with a pickup from your accommodation for your full-day biking tour. Spend the day riding a mountain bike through the vineyards of the Franschhoek Valley, stopping along the way for wine tastings. End the tour with a picnic lunch in the shade of centuries-old oak trees at a wine estate. 

Although the biking distances are short (maximum 12 miles/ 20 km), there's always an option to ride along in the support vehicle if you need a break.

Return to Franschhoek afterward for a relaxing rest of the day. 

Day 7: Franschhoek to Eastern Cape Safari

At the watering hole
At the watering hole

After breakfast transfer to Cape Town, then fly to Port Elizabeth. Transfer to a private game reserve. Tonight head out for your first evening game drive. Take in the sunset views while enjoying drinks and snacks like biltong—a South African favorite. 

Spend your time at the reserve enjoying daily morning and evening game drives and exploring the abundant wildlife, diverse flora, and dramatic coastlines of the Eastern Cape.

Days 8-10: Eastern Cape Safari

Elephant cuddle
Elephant cuddle

Start your day with an early morning wake up call. Enjoy a cup of coffee and homemade baked goods as you drive along the landscape in search of wildlife. 

The game reserve houses a complex and diverse ecosystem, with over 60 species of mammal (including the Big 5) present in the park. Lions, elephants, cheetahs (only 7,000 left in the wild!) and giraffe all call this landscape home. On the plains, you'll find herds of game animals including zebra, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, oryx, and eland (to name a few). 

As the day draws to a close, nocturnal species begin to forage. Rangers will shine spotlights on your way back to the lodge to spot aardvark, endangered brown hyena, and others. 

Birding enthusiasts will love spending time on the Bushman's River, which winds its way through the reserve. Enjoy a peaceful boat cruise and see if you can spot some of the area's 239 bird species. For the serious birder, local highlights include Knysna turacos, secretary birds, Denham's Bustard, and an array of barbets, woodpeckers, and sunbirds.

In the evening, enjoy a fire and local cuisine as you share stories of your day beneath a canopy of stars.

Day 11: Depart Eastern Cape via Cape Town

Say goodbye
Say goodbye

After your last game drive and breakfast at the lodge, drive to Port Elizabeth and board your flight to Cape Town. From here, catch your flight home.

Map

Map of South Africa Adventure: Cape Town, Winelands, & Eastern Cape Safari - 11 Days
Map of South Africa Adventure: Cape Town, Winelands, & Eastern Cape Safari - 11 Days