With a beautiful coastline, fertile wine country, and seriously impressive wildlife, South Africa is an ideal destination for a chilled-out yet active family vacation. This week-long itinerary starts in vibrant Cape Town, a city with impressive views and beaches around every corner. Spot penguins on the Cape Peninsula, get hands-on at the farms of the Winelands region, then go on safari at the Shamwari Game Reserve for an unforgettable wildlife experience.


  • Take a rotating cable car to the top of Table Mountain
  • Ride the Ferris wheel at the V&A Waterfront
  • Visit the farms and wineries of Franschhoek
  • Set out on safari at the Shamwari Game Reserve

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cape Town, Family Time on the Beach Cape Town
Day 2 Mountain Peaks & Pirate Ships Cape Town
Day 3 Peninsula Day: Cape Point, Penguins & Playgrounds Cape Town
Day 4 Family Fun in Franschhoek, Transfer to Elgin Elgin
Day 5 Transfer to Shamwari Game Reserve Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 6 On Safari at Shamwari Game Reserve Eastern Cape Game Reserve
Day 7 Transfer to Port Elizabeth & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, Family Time on the Beach

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 the afternoon relaxing, taking in the views, and exploring the town. 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.

In the evening, make your way to one of the family-friendly beach bars to enjoy your first sunset. Let the kids swim in the centrally-located pool or beachfront, then dig into gourmet pizzas and giant milkshakes.

Day 2: Mountain Peaks & Pirate Ships

Visit the Cape Wheel and Table Mountain today

After a good night's rest, get ready to explore farther afield today. If you're traveling with older kids or teens, tackle the iconic Table Mountain, which is beautiful in its own right and offering amazing views of the city and coast. A popular choice is to hike up, which takes about four hours and requires moderate fitness, then take the cable car down. If you're traveling with younger kids, take the cable car in both directions. Strong winds and rain can make the hike more challenging, so be sure to check if "mother" is "setting the table" before you go—a local phrase for the blanket of white clouds that occasionally engulfs the top.

If time and energy levels allow, head to nearby Lionshead to enjoy views of the entire Cape Town landscape below you. Break for lunch at the restaurant at the top of Table Mountain, or bring a packed picnic lunch with you to Lionshead. The V&A Waterfront, located just a few minutes from the mountain base, offers a variety of cafés and restaurants.

In the afternoon, take to the seas in the Jolly Roger pirate ship, an authentic replica of the real thing. The young and young-at-heart will love seeing Cape Town and Table Mountain from the water on the hour-long sail around the bay. Return to the waterfront in time for a sunset ride on the Cape Wheel Ferris wheel. Other afternoon activities include the Planetarium and Science Center. After a full day, sit down to dinner at a waterfront restaurant, then head back to your accommodation.

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

Play alongside penguins at Boulder's Beach

As the saying goes, "the early bird gets the worm"—or in this case, the penguin. Get an early start for the best views of Cape Point, an hour south of Cape Town on the Cape Peninsula. Here, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, creating a remarkable ecosystem where flora and fauna flourish. Fynbos, baboons, Cape mountain zebras, ostriches, eland, and sugarbirds all reside here. Bring a snack to share on the rocks next to the lighthouse, then head to Simon's Town (half-hour to the north) for a seafood lunch with a view.

In the afternoon, head to the nearby Boulders Beach to explore the African penguin sanctuary from the comfort of elevated platforms. To see the charismatic birds up close, rent a sea kayak and bob on the waves as you watch the penguins dive deep for the catch of the day. Other afternoon activities include visiting the Kommetjie Imhoff Village farm animals, playing a round of paintball, going for a horseback ride along the beach, or enjoying a coastal train ride from Simon's Town to Muizenberg.

Afterward, take in views from the Cape Point Vineyards with a glass of wine for the adults and a gourmet picnic dinner for the whole family. Spend the evening strolling through the Noordhoek Village Market. Adults will love shopping for crafts and foodie delights, and kids will love the nearby playground. As the sun sets, finish your day with a drive along Chapman's Peak Drive on your return trip to Cape Town.

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Day 4: Family Fun in Franschhoek, Transfer to Elgin

Let the kids run wild in the gardens at Babylonstroen

Leave the city behind today as you drive out of Cape Town into the Winelands countryside. The drive to Franschhoek ("French Corner" in Dutch) takes 1.5 hours, winding through rolling vineyards and orchards as you near your destination. Your first stop today is the Babylonstroen Winelands and Gardens, one of the oldest examples of a Cape Dutch farm. Join a garden tour to learn about the techniques that have transformed this restored property into a botanical masterpiece. Kids and adults are encouraged to touch, taste, smell, and fully experience the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that flourish in the garden beds.

From here, continue to Boschendal, South Africa's second-oldest wine farm. After a period of neglect, the farm is bursting at the seams with new life and biodiversity. Grass-fed cattle, forest-fed pigs, and free-range chickens graze among the fruit trees. Alongside the farm, over 600 species of fynbos and protected nature reserve thrive. Send the kids off for a free-range afternoon at the new educational play center, with farm learning experiences for kids ages four to 14. While the kids play, sneak off for a glass (or two) of award-winning wine at the cellar.

For added fun throughout the day, take the Wine Tram between wineries. Although the region is famed for wine, there are plenty of options to keep the whole family entertained. Learn to make chocolate at the Hugenouts Chocolate Shop or spend the afternoon at the Franschhoek Motor Museum. Afterward, head up the Franschhoek Pass toward the cooler climate of the Elgin Valley. Nestled between surrounding mountain peaks and streams at the top of the Hottentots Mountain Range, the valley is rich in vineyards and fruit orchards. Continue about 40 minutes to Elgin, where you'll spend the night.

Day 5: Transfer to Shamwari Game Reserve

Head out on a game drive upon arrival at Shamwari

Hit the road early for the epic nine-hour drive out to Shamwari, a luxury game reserve in the Eastern Cape. Here, the "Big Five" of African animals (and many others) roam the open landscape freely. At the halfway point, you'll find Redberry Farm, a strawberry farm filled with plenty of activities to stretch your legs and burn off some of the kids' energy, such as pick-your-own strawberries, a hedge maze, and biking. Alternatively, return to Cape Town and take a short flight to Port Elizabeth, where you'll be transferred to Shamwari.

Once you arrive at Shamwari, you'll stay at one of the reserve's seven lodges or the Explorer Camp. Enjoy game drives, birding, walking safaris, and more. Register the little ones for the "Kids on Safari Adventure" and let them explore the landscape on a series of kid-friendly activities. For children younger than four, an on-site childcare service is available. Check in and settle into your accommodation, then head out for an evening game drive before sitting down to a traditional African-style boma dinner and falling asleep to the nighttime sounds of the bush.

Day 6: On Safari at Shamwari Game Reserve

Go game-spotting
Spot big cats on game drives and bush walks

Today is all about experiencing the animals and the landscape of this magnificent place. You can choose activities that best suit your family's needs. Visit the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Center to learn about big cat conservation and educate the kids about protecting nature and treating animals with compassion. 

If you have energetic kids of around elementary school age, there are many things you do with them here. Let them go wild at the Adventure Center, then cool off at the swimming pool. Adventurous youngsters will love challenging themselves on the climbing wall, zipline, treehouse suspension walkway, and adventure slides. 

Older kids and adults can enjoy sunrise and sunset game drives to spot local wildlife, including lions, elephants, giraffes, and leopards. Children under four are not permitted on the safari drives, but childcare is available on-site. For a fully immersive safari experience, stay at the Explorer Camp, where the focus is on bush walks rather than game drives. Take a bush walk and follow a guide through dense brush as you learn about animal tracking, bush survival, and medicinal plants. You may see a herd of wild buffalo; look out for the tiny oxpeckers on their backs, whose presence in the park indicates a truly healthy ecosystem.

Day 7: Transfer to Port Elizabeth & Depart

Stop for a beach break at Port Elizabeth before your flight

Drive for around an hour today to reach Port Elizabeth, southwest of Shamwari. Depending on the time of your onward flight, there might be time for you and the kids to have a refreshing swim at one of the city's beautiful beaches. Finally, head to the airport for a connecting flight to Johannesburg or Cape Town, from where you can fly home. Safe travels!

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Map of South Africa Family Adventure: Cape Town, Winelands & Safari - 7 Days
Map of South Africa Family Adventure: Cape Town, Winelands & Safari - 7 Days