Hit the highlights of South Africa on this nine-day itinerary that takes you from the coast to the savanna. The tour kicks off in Cape Town, where you'll learn about the city's diverse history. Take a cable car to Table Mountain and enjoy panoramic views as the sun sets. Spend the day wine tasting and find out what all the fuss is about over South African wines. Finally, spot "Big Five" game animals like lions and elephants on multiple safari game drives at Thornybush Game Reserve.


  • Tour Cape Town and learn about its complicated history
  • Mingle with a colony of African penguins at Boulder Beach
  • Taste world-class wine, cheese, and chocolate in Cape Winelands
  • Go on safari game drives in Thornybush Game Reserve

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town Cape Town
Day 2 Full-Day City Tour, Table Mountain & Robben Island Tour Cape Town
Day 3 Full-Day Private Cape Peninsula Tour Cape Town
Day 4 Full-Day Cheese, Wine & Chocolate Tour Cape Town
Day 5 Transfer to Thornybush Game Reserve  Thornybush Game Reserve
Days 6-8 Three Days of Game Drives in Thornybush Game Reserve Thornybush Game Reserve
Day 9 Transfer to Johannesburg & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town

Transfer Cape Town Airport to Hotel
Aerial view over Cape Town  

Welcome to Cape Town! Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel. If you have the energy, head out to get your bearings after settling in. You could stroll a bit to take in the sights or visit the V&A Waterfront. This scenic harbor is a gastronomic and commercial wonderland filled with world-class restaurants, food markets, bars, boutiques, shopping malls, and even day spas.

Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium to explore the marine 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. 

Day 2: Full-Day City Tour, Table Mountain & Robben Island Tour

Full day City, Table Mountain & Robben Island Tour
Stroll through Bo-Kaap's colorful history

This morning, board a ferry for the 40-minute ride to Robben Island. This island is notorious for having housed Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 of his 27 years imprisoned here. Now a museum, you'll take a bus tour around the island and a guided tour of the prison, which includes Mandela's former cell. After returning to the mainland, you'll start the city tour. Drive through the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood and see the brightly painted houses influenced by the influx of Malays after the abolition of slavery. Visit Greenmarket Square, formerly a slave market, to shop for souvenirs and crafts.

After lunch, continue your drive to see historic buildings like the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope, the oldest colonial building in South Africa. Finish the tour by hopping on one of the city's famous cable cars. This aerial cableway ascends 991 feet (302 m) above sea level to Table Mountain. From its plateau at 3,501 feet (1,067 m), you'll enjoy panoramic views over the city out to Robben Island and catch the sunset over the Atlantic. 

Plan your trip to South Africa
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 3: Full-Day Private Cape Peninsula Tour

Scenic view of Chapman’s Peak Drive
Walk like a penguin at Boulder Beach

A driver will be waiting to take you south of the city to the tip of the famous Cape Peninsula and the towering headland of Cape Point. Along the way, marvel at the stunning views of the Atlantic coastline as you pass beautiful beaches, mountains, and picturesque seaside villages. This scenic coastal drive takes you around Chapman's Peak and down to Cape Point Lighthouse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From here, you'll take a ride on the funicular railway up to the iconic lighthouse. At the top, you'll have the entire panorama with the Atlantic and Indian Oceans before you.

Head to the eastern side of Cape Peninsula to Simonstown. Besides its naval base and maritime museum, the town is famous for its African penguin colony at Boulders Beach. Stroll along a network of wooden walkways within this rocky beach inlet to get up close and mingle with the penguins. Finish off the day by visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, where you'll admire rare plant species endemic to the region. Finally, you'll be taken to your hotel in Cape Town.

Day 4: Full-Day Cheese, Wine & Chocolate Tour

Full Day Cheese, Wine and Chocolate Tour
Get lost in the vineyards

Get your taste buds ready for a visit to the Cape Winelands region. Home to an abundance of wineries, enjoy stunning views as you taste world-renowned wines. Explore the area's significant wine-producing pockets, which are located around the picturesque historic towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl. As you taste wine, learn the finer points of pairing different vintages with artisanal cheeses and chocolates. After a long lunch and a stroll, you'll enjoy a scenic tour of Cape Winelands before returning to your hotel. 

Day 5: Transfer to Thornybush Game Reserve 

Cape Town to Thornybush Game Reserve
Get the camera ready!

It's time to say goodbye to Capetown. A driver will take you to the airport, where you'll board your scheduled flight to Hoedspruit. You will be met and transferred to Thornybush Private Game Reserve on arrival. This vast protected area covers 30,000 acres (12,000 ha) of pristine wilderness and lies at the edge of the famed Kruger National Park. Spend the afternoon settling in and getting plenty of rest to prepare for some serious game viewing tomorrow! 

Days 6-8: Three Days of Game Drives in Thornybush Game Reserve

Days on Safari
Keep your eyes peeled for lions and other Big Five wildlife

Over the next three days, you'll embark on a series of safaris throughout Thornybush Game Reserve. Nothing is predictable in the bush, so each excursion offers a unique opportunity to see African wildlife. Your guides will share specialized knowledge about the park's birds, animals, and medicinal plants. Learn about local folklore, basic tracking, and traditional survival techniques. Be on the lookout for the famous Big Five—elephants, buffalo, rhinos, lions, and leopards.

Each day will include two game drives, starting at dawn as the sun rises over the savanna. Spend time observing flora and fauna, stopping along the way to visit busy waterholes, scenic viewpoints, and beautiful picnic sites, where you can take a break from all the wildlife spotting and stretch your legs. Return to camp for some relaxation, and enjoy a late lunch before heading back out for the afternoon/night game drive. After an unforgettable South African sunset and an evening of nocturnal animal spotting, you'll return to camp each evening to enjoy a delicious dinner under the stars.

Day 9: Transfer to Johannesburg & Depart

Thornybush Game Reserve to Johannesburg
Farewell South Africa

After your morning safari, It's time to bid farewell to South Africa. A driver will take you to Hoedspruit, where you will board your scheduled flight to Johannesburg. From there, continue to your final destination. Safe travels!

More Great South Africa Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to South Africa? Check out these other South Africa itineraries, explore different ways to spend nine days in South Africa, or discover the best time to visit South Africa.


Map of South Africa Culture & Safari: Cape Town & Thornybush Game Reserve- 9 Days
Map of South Africa Culture & Safari: Cape Town & Thornybush Game Reserve- 9 Days