This two-week wildlife and adventure-packed family vacation takes you from the Western to the Eastern Cape via South Africa's stunning Garden Route. Start in lively Cape Town, where you and the kids will scale Table Mountain, make pals with the penguins at Boulders Beach, and relax in the surrounding wine country. If that sounds too sedate, you'll also plunge the depths of Shark Alley in a reinforced cage, meet the Big Five during a luxury safari, and tour the Stone Age Cango Caves.


  • Cruise Cape Town's harbor on the Jolly Roger pirate ship
  • Tour the Western Cape's idyllic vineyards
  • Wander the labyrinthine Stone Age Cango Caves
  • Get up close and personal with the great whites at Gansbaai
  • Meet majestic lions and cheetahs on a Big Five game safari

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town, Relax & Explore Cape Town
Day 2 Mountain Peaks & Pirate Ships Cape Town
Day 3 Peninsula Day: Cape Point, Penguins, & Playgrounds Cape Town
Day 4 Western Cape Vineyard Tour, Drive to Elgin Elgin
Day 5 Elgin Valley: Ziplining, Vineyard Maze & Paddleboarding Elgin
Day 6 Shark Cage Dive, Drive to Stanford, Klein River Cruise Stanford
Day 7 Panthera Big Cat Sanctuary, Drive to Oudtshoorn Oudtshoorn
Day 8 Oudtshoorn: Ostriches & Cango Caves Oudtshoorn
Day 9 Meet the Meerkats, Sandboarding, Drive to Kynsna Knysna
Day 10 Garden Route: Waterways & Wildlife Knysna
Day 11 Drive to Shamwari Game Reserve Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Days 12-13 Shamwari Game Reserve, Relax & Explore Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 14 Drive to Port Elizabeth & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, Relax & Explore

Cape Town Beach
Cape Town's popular and family-friendly beach 

Welcome to South Africa! Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your Cape Town hotel, your base, for the next few nights. Settle in before heading out with the kids to explore. The town's many historical parks are perfect for little legs to run around after a long flight. Afterward, browse the arts and crafts at Watershed Market, explore underwater life at the Two Oceans Aquarium, or simply head to the famous V&A Waterfront—it's a perfect spot to catch the Cape Town vibe while relaxing with a drink and savoring the waterfront views against the epic Table Mountain backdrop.

In the evening, either treat the family to a harbor cruise as you watch the sunset or, for the ultimate kid-friendly experience that combines dinner and fun, book a table at Strolla Restaurant & Bar. This seaside eatery has a fun Kiddies' Corner' where younger ones can play pizza makers and create their own edible masterpieces. Treat yourselves to a cocktail as you toast the start of your holiday adventures while the little ones relax post-flight in the restaurant's kid-themed games room.

Day 2: Mountain Peaks & Pirate Ships

Take a cable car up Table Mountain
Enjoy the views from the top of Table Mountain

It's another fun-packed day in Cape Town, and after breakfast, you'll start with an up-close visit to Table Mountain, nicknamed the "Mother of all Mountains." It's a four-hour medium to steep hike to the top, so take advantage of the cable car that flies you up to the summit. Kids will love the rotating carriage that gives splendid views over Robben Island and Signal Hill. Enjoy the panoramic views and a walk around the top before floating back through the clouds as you return to the base.

Enjoy lunch before getting ready for an excursion sure to delight the little ones. The Jolly Roger pirate ship, moored on the waterfront, is an authentic replica of the real thing. Board the boat with your mini pirates-to-be and set sail for an hour-long sail along the bay and enjoy the fabulous views from the water. After plenty of "Ahoy me hearties!" return to land, and as the sun starts to go down, don't miss a family sunset ride on the Cape Wheel.

Day 3: Peninsula Day: Cape Point, Penguins, & Playgrounds

Make pals with the penguins
Meet the penguins of Boulders Beach 

Embark on an unforgettable tour as you and the family pick up your rental car and head on a scenic drive south to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cape Point. Here on the tip of the famous Cape Peninsula, discover fabulous beaches, lighthouses, and an array of wildlife, including zebras, baboons, ostriches, and sugarbirds. Kids will adore a trip on the Flying Dutchman funicular railway, where the vantage point from the iconic lighthouse at the top offers stunning views across both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Nearby, Simon's Town is an excellent lunch stop for fresh seafood.

If the younger ones thought the funicular was fun, wait until they see the adorable penguins at the Boulders Beach African Penguin Sanctuary. View the tuxedoed waddle up close via a network of wooden walkways, rent a sea kayak, and watch the penguins dive for the day's catch. Take time to visit the nearby Kometjie Imhoff Village Farm at Kommetjie, where kids can pet the animals, or the Noordhoek Village Market (kids will love the village playground), where you'll find plenty of local crafts and delicious treats. Finish the day in style with a trip to the Cape Point Vineyards

Day 4: Western Cape Vineyard Tour, Drive to Elgin

Family Friendly Vineyard Tour
Enjoy a family-friendly vineyard tour

Wake up and leave the city behind as you embark on an excursion that ticks the boxes for wine-enthusiast parents and nature-loving little ones. South Africa's Western Cape is home to more than 500 wineries, and today you'll visit a selection of the best. First up is the Babylonstroen Winelands & Gardens in Franschhoek, a beautifully restored property with a vast array of herb, fruit, and vegetable beds. Enjoy the whole sensory experience as you and the kids touch, taste, and smell the garden's offerings before sampling the estate's wines while the little ones sip grape juice 

Continue to Boschendal, the country's oldest winery. Tailor-made for families, kids can take part in several farm-based learning experiences at the educational play center and meet the cute forest-fed pigs and free-range chickens that graze among the fruit trees. Meanwhile, knowing the youngsters are playing safely nearby, you can get down to the serious business of wine tasting. 

If you can tear the kids away, hop back in the car and head up the Franschhoek Pass toward the cooler climate of the Elgin Valley. Nestled between streams and the peaks of the Hottentots Mountain Range, the valley is rich in vineyards and fruit orchards. Your overnight destination of Elgin is just a short drive away.

Day 5: Elgin Valley: Ziplining, Vineyard Maze & Paddleboarding

Have a paddle-boarding adventure
Take a paddleboard out on the mountaintop lake

Enjoy a leisurely family breakfast before heading out to explore the Elgin Valley. Earn some significant parental brownie points with a trip to the Cape Canopy Tour Adventure Park. Adventurous kids over six will adore the park's zipline rides. Soar above the steep ravine on a series of crisscrossing lines as you gaze across the giant trees, mountains, and waterfalls. Afterward, reward your bravery with a delicious lunch at family-friendly Southill Vineyards. Safely on terra firma, the kids can run around in the Southern Hemisphere's largest vineyard maze.

In the afternoon, make the most of your last night in the Elgin Valley and head to Old Mac Daddy, where the mountaintop lake and beach are the perfect place to relax after this morning's adrenaline-filled adventures. Don't worry if the kids still need to burn off some steam; there are paddleboards for hire, little ones can enjoy a tractor ride, and there are even zorb balls for those wishing to channel their inner hampster. The rest of the evening is yours to spend as you wish. 

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

Day 6: Shark Cage Dive, Drive to Stanford, Klein River Cruise

Great White, Gansbaai
Come on in; the water's lovely!

Continue your journey along South Africa's famous Garden Route this morning as you drive 90 minutes south along the coast to the fishing town of Gansbaai, famous for its population of great white sharks. Depending on fearlessness levels, you have several options; take a boat tour and discover the Marine Big Five (whales, dolphins, great whites, seals, and penguins), join the sharks in their natural habitat in the safety of a reinforced cage, or hang out with the younger kids onboard and watch as others experience the adrenaline rush of a lifetime!

If little ones felt left out during the shark experience, take them to meet the friendly (and completely toothless) penguins at the sanctuary onshore. Afterward, take a well-deserved breather, grab a bite to eat, and continue to your overnight destination of Stanford. Check in at your hotel, and as the sun sets, head to the nearby Klein River, where you'll board the famous Lady Stanford and cruise along the Hermanus Estuary. Drink in hand, gaze at the gorgeous views, and recount your favorite memories of the day.

Day 7: Panthera Big Cat Sanctuary, Drive to Oudtshoorn

Cheetah cubs
Cheetah cubs, one of the big cat species found at the Panthera Sanctuary

It's an early start this morning as you hit the road, ready for the next leg of your family adventure. You'll find the Panthera Big Cat Sanctuary on the route between Elgin and Oudtshoorn (your overnight destination). Dedicated to rescuing and protecting captive-bred big cats, the sanctuary offers educational tours and activities for the whole family while learning more about the realities big cats such as leopards, lions, cheetahs, and jaguars face in captivity. 

Kids will love the enrichment tour, where they will work with one of the keepers to make a small handmade toy for the cats. After spending some time with the volunteers and staff and hearing the stories of these magnificent creatures, visit the big furry recipients of the kids' handmade toys. Say your goodbyes and hit South Africa's iconic Route 62. If tummies are rumbling, then the town of Barrydale is the perfect spot for a stretch of the legs and a bite to eat. Don't miss vintage diner Diesel and Creme, where you can feast on gourmet burgers and milkshakes. 

Continue through fertile planes and along grapevines and fruit orchards until you reach Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo Valley. Check in at your accommodation and spend the rest of the evening at leisure. 

Day 8: Oudtshoorn: Ostriches & Cango Caves

Explore the Cango Caves
Descend into the incredible Cango Caves

Get back on the road early today, as you and the kids have two fun adventures to fit in after breakfast. First are the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cango Caves, a 30-minute drive north of Oudtshoorn. Dating back to the early Stone Age, the caves have been more recently used by the Indigenous Khoikhoi people, whose early paintings can still be seen on the wall. Kids will love exploring the otherworldly limestone labyrinths that stretch for around 2.5 miles (4 km) as you wonder at the remarkable stalactites that hang like giant stone chandeliers. 

After a bite to eat, it's time for this afternoon's adventure—a visit to one of the area's many ostrich farms. Amaze the kids with some ostrich-related facts (they have three stomachs, and their ancestors have been around since the dinosaurs) before embarking on a tractor tour of the farm. Hear about the natural breeding cycle of these remarkable creatures from your expert guide before heading to the incubator room, where little ones will love seeing the tiny ostrich hatchlings. 

Afterward, either rent some mountain bikes and hit the nearby trails as you spend a couple of hours cycling with the kids. Or, for something less strenuous, treat the family to a hot air balloon ride over the Oudtshoorn region, and visit the countryside oasis of the De Kombys Winery. The kids can run off some steam in the vineyards while you enjoy a wine and olive tasting. 

Day 9: Meet the Meerkats, Sandboarding, Drive to Knysna

Sandboarding adventure
Enjoy a sandboarding adventure

After yesterday's busy day, you have a couple of options this morning. Either enjoy a natural wake-up or set a pre-dawn alarm for a meerkat encounter at a nearby game reserve. If the weather's decent (these creatures won't leave their burrow if it's cold and rainy!), your early start will be rewarded with sightings of these notoriously shy but adorable mongooses. Watch them venture out and go about their business against the backdrop of the rising sun. It's a surprisingly peaceful and rewarding way to start your day. 

After breakfast in the bush (or at your accommodation if you chose to skip the early wake-up call), head to Mossel Bay on the coast, home to one of the largest sand dunes in South Africa. Rent a sandboard or opt for a private family lesson before spending a fun-packed few hours surfing the sandy slopes.

If all that sand-surfing has built up an appetite, head to the nearby strawberry farm where along with the berries the kids can pick themselves, you can enjoy a light lunch. From here, it's an hour's drive to the beautiful seaside town of Knysna. Surrounded by ancient forests and hemmed in by soaring headlands, its picturesque setting is ideally placed to explore the nearby Wilderness Park. Either head straight to your accommodation and go in search of good food and relaxation at one of the gorgeous seafood restaurants or treat yourselves to a sunset cruise along the lagoon. 

Day 10: Garden Route: Waterways & Wildlife

Stormsriver Suspension Bridge
Stormsriver Suspension Bridge

Today you'll head out to explore the area around Knysna. The lush Tsisitakamma Forest lines the Garden Route from the Western to the Eastern Cape and, along with the Stormsriver Gorge, provides plenty of opportunities for active families seeking adventure. Take a guided kayak tour along the river to explore the lagoons, mountains, and wildlife, and then head upland to the Stormriver Suspension Bridge. Either opt for a scenic stroll across the bridge or enjoy a zipline adventure through the rainforest. 

After you've worked up an appetite, visit the Fynboshoek Cheese Farm, where the kids can meet the friendly sheep, and you can sample some of the farm's delicious cheese. Don't miss a trip to the nearby Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the afternoon. Develop the kids' awareness of the natural world and fire them up about the importance of conservation and ecology as you tour the center and learn about their work to rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife. End your day with a sunset walk on Plettenberg Beach

Day 11: Drive to Shamwari Game Reserve

Go game-spotting
Spot the Big Five at the Shamwari Game Reserve

Enjoy breakfast by the beach this morning before saying goodbye to Knysna and driving three hours east to the luxury Shamwari Game Reserve on the Eastern Cape. Settle into your accommodation and head out with your expert guide as you and the kids search for the Big Five. Capture the kids' faces as they spot their first lion, cheetah, and elephant, and hear stories from your guide about the habits and environment of these magnificent animals. Back at the lodge, a gourmet dinner at one of the on-site restaurants and an evening of complete relaxation await. 

Days 12-13:  Shamwari Game Reserve, Relax & Explore

Game drive time
Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes?

The next few days are yours to enjoy the African safari experience however you wish. The reserve's game drives are offered at sunrise and sunset, so head out early with the kids, where bleary eyes will soon be replaced with wide grins as they spot their first lion or elephant as the sun slowly rises. Head back for a hearty breakfast where you have plenty of time to relax before the next outing at sunset. Either take a dip in the pool with the kids, enjoy a leisurely lunch, or relax at the on-site spa.

If you've spotted the Big Five during your previous game drives, spend the days relaxing at your lodge or exploring the local area on a guided bush walk. At the nearby Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Center, kids can learn all about big cat conservation, while the reserve's Adventure Center is ideal for those wanting to practice their climbing and ziplining skills. Later, as evening falls, dine in style at one of the superb restaurants and recount your favorite moments of your grand South African adventure. 

Day 14: Drive to Port Elizabeth & Depart

Farewell South Africa
Farewell, South Africa; it's been a blast!

Sadly, today marks you and your family's last day in South Africa. In the morning, drive to the airport, drop off your rental car and catch your connecting flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of South Africa Family Adventure: Cape Town, Winelands, Garden Route & Safari - 14 Days
Map of South Africa Family Adventure: Cape Town, Winelands, Garden Route & Safari - 14 Days