Delve into South Africa's rich culture, delicious cuisine, and abundant wildlife on this 16-day tour across the country. Learn how to cook traditional Malay food and enjoy a 14-course African meal in Capetown, then explore the vineyards and flavors of the Cape Winelands on an e-bike and a hop-on, hop-off tram. Finally, look for the Big Five on safari in two game reserves before learning about Apartheid and how it affected Soweto's residents in Johannesburg.


  • Take a cable car up the iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town
  • Sample wine, cheese, chocolate, and fresh apple cider in the Cape Winelands
  • Fly over the Khaya Ndlovu Game Reserve in a helicopter
  • Marvel at the country's natural beauty on the Panorama Route
  • Rise above the Timbavati Game Reserve in a hot-air balloon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town, Explore at Your Own Pace Cape Town
Day 2 Full-Day Tour of the Cape Peninsula Cape Town
Day 3 Cable Car Up Table Mountain, Bo-Kaap Tour, Sunset Cruise Cape Town
Day 4 Community Development Tour, Dinner at GOLD Restaurant Cape Town
Day 5 Visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Cape Town
Day 6 Transfer to Franschhoek, E-Bike Tour & Picnic Franschhoek
Day 7 Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Tour in the Cape Winelands Franschhoek
Day 8 Elgin Valley Food & Wine Tour Franschhoek
Day 9 Franschhoek Valley Hop-On, Hop-Off Wine Tour Franschhoek
Day 10 Transfer to Cape Town, Fly to Khaya Ndlovu Khaya Ndlovu Game Reserve
Day 11 Full-Day Road Trip Along the Panorama Route Khaya Ndlovu Game Reserve
Day 12 Hot-Air Balloon Flight, Transfer to Timbavati Game Reserve Timbavati Game Reserve
Days 13-14 Explore the Reserve on Game Drives & Bush Walks Timbavati Game Reserve
Day 15 Fly to Johannesburg, Guided Tour of Soweto Johannesburg
Day 16 Depart Johannesburg  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, Explore at Your Own Pace

Wander along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront at your own pace

Welcome to the charming port city of Cape Town, South Africa's legislative capital. Upon arrival, meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel. After refreshing, the day is yours to spend as you wish. An excellent place to start is the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a bustling harbor area that blends historical charm with modern sophistication. Stroll along the promenade and browse the array of boutiques, eateries, and museums set against the backdrop of the iconic Table Mountain. Then, you might like to board a 40-minute ferry to the UNESCO-listed Robben Island.

Disembark and join a guided tour led by former prisoners for a firsthand account of the island's role as a political prison during the Apartheid era. Follow your guide through the maximum-security prison, stopping at the cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in captivity. Back on the mainland, wander down the waterfront and browse the world-class restaurants, markets, and bars to find somewhere for dinner. Whether you want to dine al fresco overlooking the marina or inside a stylish waterfront eatery, you'll find plenty of delicious dining options here.

Day 2: Full-Day Tour of the Cape Peninsula

See the resident African penguin colony on Boulders Beach

Get ready for an early start this morning, as you meet your driver outside the hotel around 8:30 am for a tour of the Cape Peninsula, starting with a drive through the coastal suburbs of Sea Point, Camps Bay, and Clifton. Look out at the palm-lined streets and the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean as you continue the drive to Boulders Beach, home to a colony of African penguins. After wandering along the boardwalks for an up-close look at the adorable birds in their natural habitat, head to Simon's Town to admire the colorful Victorian buildings, historic naval vessels, and charming squares.

Be sure to see the famous statue of Just Nuisance, the only dog to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. Back in the car, your next stop is Cape Point, where you'll grab a bite to eat and ride the Flying Dutchman Funicular up the slopes of Table Mountain. From the top, enjoy panoramic views of False Bay and the historic lighthouse that still guides sailors home. If you want to stretch your legs, go for a 40-minute hike to the Cape of Good Hope along the dramatic coastline. Your driver will meet you at the other end to transfer you 1.5 hours back to Cape Town to relax after an action-packed day.

Day 3: Cable Car Up Table Mountain, Bo-Kaap Tour, Sunset Cruise

Learn how to make traditional Malay food, like fresh roti paired with an aromatic curry

Start this morning's tour with a five-minute ride up the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. As you ascend, take in the far-reaching views of the city, the glittering ocean, and the surrounding landscape. Then, enjoy free time to explore the summit, take a free guided tour, or enjoy lunch at the on-site café. Back on the ground, you'll join a three-hour tour to Bo-Kaap, Cape Town's Malay quarter. Follow your guide down the cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses, immersing yourself in the enticing aromas of authentic Malay food wafting from nearby restaurants and homes.

Visit the Atlas Trading Company, a historic spice emporium, to learn more about the ingredients commonly used in Malay cooking. Then, meet a local chef and learn how to prepare traditional dishes like aromatic curries, flaky roti, and sweet treats like koeksisters, a deep-fried dough ball rolled in desiccated coconut. Afterward, head to the pier and hop on a yacht for a three-hour cruise down the coast. Learn how to hoist the sails or sit back and relax on deck while the sun slowly sets. When darkness falls, return to land and transfer back to your hotel.

Day 4: Community Development Tour, Dinner at GOLD Restaurant

Sit down for a 14-course meal inspired by African flavors from around the continent at GOLD Restaurant

Delve into South Africa's turbulent history and the challenges its residents still face today on a five-hour tour of the city's eastern townships to learn about inspiring community development projects. Led by passionate local guides, you'll travel off the beaten path to visit grassroots projects and initiatives making a real difference for Cape Town's residents. Meet the unsung heroes working toward positive change in the city, from developing educational programs and skill-building workshops to sustainable agriculture and art initiatives.

In the evening, you'll dine at GOLD Restaurant for an immersive African gastronomic experience. Enjoy a 14-course dinner with live music and Mali puppetry while learning about each course's origins, cooking techniques, and spices. Savor an array of dishes from across the continent, including fragrant tajines, spicy curries, and grilled meats, and listen to the backdrop of djembe drums and marimba percussion. End the night with a seasonal dessert, such as malva pudding, a traditional South African sponge cake, or a cheesecake flavored with the South African liqueur Amarula.

Day 5: Visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to walk above the treetops

Leave the city streets behind for the day as you head 30 minutes north on a self-guided visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, nestled at the foot of Table Mountain. Follow the winding paths through the garden to see colorful flora from around the world until you reach the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway. Ascend to the elevated path suspended among the treetops and enjoy bird's-eye views of the lush garden and surrounding mountains. Follow the walkway above the canopy, stopping along the way to read the panels offering insight into the flora and fauna that reside below.

After spending the day in the gardens, return to your hotel to freshen up before another 14-course African dinner with interactive entertainment. South African food is traditionally shared among family and friends, so enjoy a welcoming, communal style that allows you to try a little bit of everything. Sample local dishes like bobotie, spiced minced meat baked with rich milk and egg custard, or potjiekos, a hearty stew made with various meats, vegetables, and spices. End the night with a South African dessert, such as melktert, a creamy milk tart with a cinnamon-infused crust.
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Day 6: Transfer to Franschhoek, E-Bike Tour & Picnic 

Cycle through the lush Jonkershoek Valley Nature Reserve on an e-bike

Say goodbye to Cape Town this morning as you transfer one hour to Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands, South Africa's lush wine country. After refreshing at your hotel, venture out to the Jonkershoek Valley Nature Reserve for a 3.5-hour e-bike tour through the valley, surrounded by towering mountains, vast forests, and crystal-clear streams. With the bike's electric assistance, you'll easily traverse the terrain and have the energy to enjoy the scenery. 

Cycle past lush vineyards to find the perfect spot for a picnic with locally sourced delicacies. Then, after lunch, jump back on your bike and continue along the network of tracks past charming farms while your guide provides insights into the area's flora, fauna, and rich history. When you arrive back in town, return your bike and treat yourself to a well-deserved dinner at one of the restaurants, bistros, or wine bars along the main street, or visit a nearby wine estate.

Day 7: Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Tour in the Cape Winelands

Visit some of the Cape Wineland's award-winning wineries to sample wine, chocolate, and cheese

This morning, you'll set off early on a full-day tasting tour to some award-winning wineries, where you'll pair the different vintages you sample with artisanal cheeses and chocolates. Start at Fairview Wine and Cheese, just 30 minutes outside of town. The owners of this combined vineyard and goat farm pride themselves on growing sustainable produce and creating great artisanal products, which you'll experience with a tasting of eight different wines paired with cheese and olives. Return to Franschhoek next for a stroll through town and a sit-down lunch at a restaurant your guide recommends.

After lunch, hit the road again for a 30-minute transfer to Stellenbosch, another charming town in the Winelands. Admire the canal-lined avenues, historic buildings, and towering oak trees as you head to your final destination, the Waterford Estate. Stroll through the vineyards and learn about the estate's viticulture practices and grape varieties. Then, step inside to savor a selection of the estate's signature blends and varietals paired with chocolates made by a master chocolatier. When you're full of delicious wine and chocolate, return to your hotel to relax.

Day 8: Elgin Valley Food & Wine Tour

Taste fresh apple cider at the Elgin Railway Market

Your penultimate day in the Cape Winelands takes you 50 minutes away on a food and wine tour to the Elgin Valley, known for its cool climate and fertile soil. Visit a local orchard and sample fresh products, like olive oil, honey, chocolate, preserves, cheeses, and apples, as the region produces 60% of South Africa's apple crop. Drive through the picturesque vineyards next to one of the many boutique wineries in the area. Sample some delicious varietals, from elegant reds to crisp whites, and Méthode Cap Classique (MCC), a sparkling wine made only in South Africa.

If you're not too full, sit down for lunch at a restaurant your driver recommends, such as the South Hill Vineyards, for country platters or The Melting Pot to enjoy tapas. If you're visiting on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, make one last stop at the Elgin Railway Market, where you can taste freshly made apple cider and browse the stalls of artisanal products, handcrafted goods, and gourmet treats. When you're filled up on wine and apples, transfer back to your hotel in Franschhoek.

Day 9: Franschhoek Valley Hop-On, Hop-Off Wine Tour

Explore the Cape Winelands on a hop-on, hop-off tram

Spend your last day in the Cape Winelands exploring the Franschhoek Valley on a hop-on, hop-off tram. This adventure is self-guided, so you can choose when and where to get off, staying at each stop for as long as you want. Board the double-decker tram and set off through the picturesque valley, looking at the rolling hills and endless vineyards. Disembark for leisurely wine tastings, cellar tours, and gourmet experiences at each estate along the line. The tram also stops at charming villages and artisanal stores so you can shop for souvenirs to break up the wine tastings. 

Day 10: Transfer to Cape Town, Fly to Khaya Ndlovu


Follow the tracks of endangered white rhinos on your game walk through the reserve

Bid farewell to the Winelands this morning as you return to Cape Town on a one-hour transfer. From there, you'll catch a 2.5-hour flight to Hoedspruit, home to the Khaya Ndlovu Game Reserve. After checking into your lodge in the reserve, choose between three popular activities: a scenic helicopter ride with an experienced bush pilot, a game drive in an open safari vehicle, or an educational game walk looking for fresh tracks. No matter your chosen activity, you're sure to have a memorable experience. 

You may have a chance to spot the Big Five, which includes elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, and both black and white rhinos. Look for cheetahs, African wild dogs, and a host of general game as well. Those who want endless views of the area can opt for the helicopter ride if the weather permits. Rise above the reserve and enjoy wide-ranging views of the sprawling savannas, winding rivers, and lush woodlands. Keep an eye out for animals like giraffes, antelopes, and zebras before touching down and transferring back to your lodge for dinner. 

Day 11: Full-Day Road Trip Along the Panorama Route

Stand on the edge of Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world

Set off on a road trip along the iconic Panorama Route, which will take you to scenic viewpoints, towering rock formations, colossal valleys, and powerful waterfalls. Meet your driver at the hotel at 8 am, and set off through the continent's largest pine and eucalyptus forest to get to God's Window, a lookout point perched on the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment. Nearby is Lisbon Falls, the highest waterfall in the province. Stop at an observation deck along the road to watch the water plunge dramatically from a height of over 295 feet (90 m).

Back in the car, continue to Bourke's Luck Potholes, a mesmerizing landscape of swirling rock formations and cylindrical potholes formed by centuries of flowing water. Your next stop is Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world. Stand at the canyon's edge and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding cliffs, rugged rock formations, and meandering Blyde River. End the tour at the Three Rondavels Viewpoint to see the three rock formations that resemble traditional African round huts. At around 4 pm, return to the lodge to relax after your road trip.

Day 12: Hot-Air Balloon Flight, Transfer to Timbavati Game Reserve

Watch the hot-air balloons inflate before your flight above the reserve

Wake up before dawn for a hot-air balloon ride over the reserve at sunrise. Head to the launch site at Hoedspruit to enjoy a cup of coffee while you watch the balloons being inflated. Complete a safety briefing, then jump in the basket and rise above the vast African wilderness. You'll have the chance to spot wildlife like giraffes, elephants, and wildebeest roaming freely below. After one hour, return to the ground for fruit juice and sparkling wine before heading back to your lodge, where you'll meet your driver for a transfer one hour east to the Timbavati Game Reserve.

Check into your new lodge and refresh before setting off on an afternoon game drive through the reserve. Traverse the diverse habitats in a safari vehicle in search of wildlife. As the heat of the day begins to wane, animals become more active, so you'll have a better chance of spotting elusive leopards and powerful lions starting their hunt. Watch as the golden light of the setting sun illuminates the savanna and paints the landscape with hues of amber and gold. When darkness begins to fall, return to the lodge to enjoy dinner. 

Days 13-14: Explore the Reserve on Game Drives & Bush Walks

Spend two days exploring the Timbavati Game Reserve on game drives and bush walks

Spend the next two days discovering more of the reserve by going on two game drives each day, one in the early morning before it gets too hot for the animals and one in the evening to look for nocturnal creatures like the African civet, white-tailed mongoose, or galago (small primates). Each safari is led by passionate field guides, who will share their knowledge of the reserve's animals, birdlife, and vegetation, so don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

On both days, you can also join an after-breakfast one-hour bush walk to explore the reserve on foot. This allows you to get up close and personal with smaller animals and birds you may have missed on the drive. Break up the game drives and bush walks with afternoon tea at the lodge, where you'll enjoy a spread of delectable treats, including freshly baked scones, delicate pastries, and savory finger sandwiches paired with a fragrant tea or coffee.

Day 15: Fly to Johannesburg, Guided Tour of Soweto

Try bunny chow, a popular street food in Johannesburg, on your tour of Soweto

After breakfast, return to the airport in Hoedspruit and board a one-hour flight to the largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg. Transfer to your hotel, where you can refresh before setting off on a tour of Soweto, once a segregated neighborhood for the city's Black population, where now over a million residents freely reside. Explore the neighborhood by bicycle, tuk-tuk, or foot to learn about its contentious history and the daily lives of current residents. Visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial, dedicated to a 13-year-old boy who was killed during the Soweto Uprising of 1976.

Continue to Vilakazi Street to see Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu's former homes and sample street food like kota, a hearty sandwich with spicy sausage, cheese, fried eggs, and vegetables, or bunny chow, a dish with Indian origins that consists of a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry. Leave room for dinner, as this evening, you'll enjoy a home-cooked meal with some of Soweto's residents who lived through the Apartheid and subsequent uprisings. Share the table with freedom fighters, former students who were part of the 1976 Uprisings, artists, and musicians while enjoying delicious local food.

Day 16: Depart Johannesburg

If you're lucky, you may spot buskers playing in the streets of the Maboneng Precinct

After spending 16 days discovering some of South Africa's pristine natural landscapes, delicious cuisine, and rich culture, your journey comes to a close today. If you have time before your flight, you can explore more of the city on your own. Head to the Apartheid Museum to learn more about the era of institutionalized racial segregation with powerful exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia displays. Continue to the Maboneng Precinct, a lively neighborhood with vibrant street art, quaint boutiques, and bustling markets. When it's time, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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