- Visit a family-owned spice shop since 1946
- Learn about the history of South African wine
- Go on a guided walk through Featherbed Nature Reserve
- Explore the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
|Day 1||Arrive in Cape Town||Cape Town|
|Day 2||Wine Tour in the Cape Winelands||Cape Town|
|Day 3||Elgin Food Tour||Elgin|
|Day 4||Wine & Dine on the Garden Route||Knysna|
|Day 5||Knysna Heads Oyster Tour||Knysna|
|Day 6||Knysna to Johannesburg & Storytelling Around the Fire||Johannesburg|
|Day 7||Soweto Township & Cooking Class||Johannesburg|
|Day 8||The Cradle of Humankind, Sterkfontein Caves, & African Dinner||Johannesburg|
|Day 9||Depart Johannesburg|
Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town
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: Wine Tour in the Cape Winelands
Start the morning with a pick up from a local guide for a laidback, full-day wine tour through the Cape Winelands. From the minute you step out the door, your experience today is perfectly curated so you don't have to worry about a thing—besides sipping wine.
The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, which extends from the Kogelberg Reserve in the south along the Cape Fold Mountain Chain to the north, is an internationally recognized area within the Western Cape's Floral Kingdom.
You'll spend the day exploring the rolling hills of the Winelands, visiting wineries in the Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, or Elgin Wine Regions. Today will be spent eating mouthwatering foods and drinking some of the best wines South Africa has to offer. The region's wineries offer a variety of whites and reds, as well as their own blends and styles. Enjoy the scenery and the beautiful vineyards and white-gabled farmsteads that dot the landscape, then return to Cape Town in time for dinner.
Day 3: Elgin Food Tour
Spend the morning at Rosenhoff Farm, an organic farm-to-table establishment that features vegan options and sustainable agriculture. After an educational walk through the farm, enjoy vegan snacks and a cooking demonstration.
Afterward, head to the next-door food stall where you'll learn about the local process of smoking meat and sausages. Combining slow-smoking, blue smoke methods, and local wood chips with heritage breeds of meat, the result is a mouth-watering barbecue with the perfect amount of flavor. Enjoy a cooking demonstration, then dive into ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and plenty of sides.
In the afternoon, head to one of Elgin's elite wine farms for a salt curing cooking course. The focus of this method is on authenticity and quality ingredients. Start with a welcome of warm bread, followed by an explanation of the various salts and their flavor profiles. Depending on the season and what's available, feast on local produce and home cooking. Enjoy appetizers like fresh tomato slices, wasabi cream pine nuts, and crispy onions. Don't miss the cured trout with salmon mousse and horseradish emulsion, as well as the braised pork belly sourced from a neighboring farm. Follow up with seared hake, mussel veloute, and squid ink tagliatelle, then round out your meal with Thai spiced custard or a banana split for dessert.
Return to your accommodation in the late afternoon for a relaxing evening.
Day 4: Wine & Dine on the Garden Route
Start your morning with a hotel pickup, then head to Knysna on the coast for a 5-star wine and food tour. You'll follow the Garden Route from vineyard to ocean, experiencing the best of the region.
Spend the day sipping sparkling wine and eating snacks on the beach, learning about South African wine history, and relaxing on a horse-drawn carriage ride through boutique vineyards. Enjoy a wine and chocolate pairing, then tuck into a South African platter lunch. In the afternoon explore the exquisite rose gardens, then end the day with a venison biltong platter paired with some more wine and sunset views.
Day 5: Knysna Heads Oyster Tour
In the morning, head to the Featherbed Nature Reserve on the Western Head in Knysna. Spend the first half of the day enjoying the scenery, including indigenous fynbos and a multitude of wildflowers and shrubs.
Start your trip with a ferry ride across the Knysna Lagoon, then board a 4x4 vehicle for a drive through the forest. Stop to see spectacular viewpoints, then stretch your legs on a short (1.4 miles/ 2.2 km) walk through the coastal forest and fynbos to see ancient sea caves. Afterward, enjoy a buffet lunch at an outdoor restaurant under a canopy of milkwood trees.
In the afternoon, take in the sights from the water on an oyster cruise on the Knysna Lagoon. Learn all about one of the world's most loved delicacies and enjoy a tasting of wild and cultivated oysters while cruising around the lagoon. Round out the experience with a glass of white wine on the deck.
In the evening, transfer back to your accommodation.
Day 6: Knysna to Johannesburg & Storytelling Around the Fire
In the morning head to the airport for your domestic flight to Johannesburg. After arriving take some time to settle in, then head out for a storytelling evening in the Soweto Township.
Soweto's history stems back to the early 1900s when the government began forcibly separating blacks from whites by removing the black population from the city and relocating them into separate areas. These were separated from the white neighborhoods by a cordon sanitaire (sanitary corridor) like a river, road, or industrial area.
Several prominent individuals have called the district home including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and the South African comedian Trevor Noah.
The area experienced civil unrest during the Apartheid era, with the most notable riots occurring in 1976. The riots followed a rule that Afrikaans should be the official language for schools of black Africans in the area (most of whom spoke indigenous African languages). Tens of thousands of black students took to the streets to protest the decision. The demonstrators were met with police violence and brutality; several hundred students were killed, and many more were injured.
One of the murdered students was 12-year-old Hector Pieterson. His story became the face of the student uprising after a photo of his body being carried by an older student gained international fame. The Hector Pieterson Memorial Site commemorates the students' bravery.
Spend the afternoon exploring on your own. In the evening, experience first-hand accounts of Soweto's history from the township's residents. You'll listen to stories of freedom fighters, students from the 1976 uprising, and other key historical figures. Enjoy live art performances and music as you feast on a traditional African dinner under the starry night skies.
Day 7: Soweto Township & Cooking Class
In the morning head out for a half-day tour of the Soweto Township. Take a bicycle or yellow tuk-tuk, or stroll around the Orlando West area with your local guide. You'll pass by historical sites and learn the history of this vibrant community.
Stop by the Hector Pieterson Memorial, then enjoy a quiet stroll down Vilazaki Street to see the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Visit the Nelson Mandela Museum to learn about the legacy of South Africa's first black president, then continue exploring the area. Along the way, you'll pass street vendors selling fresh fruit, snacks, and various African art—the perfect excuse to stop for a mid-morning treat and a quick shop for souvenirs. Enjoy lunch at a relaxed outdoor restaurant.
In the evening, join the chefs of the outdoor kitchen and restaurant and learn to cook the traditional way: in potjies (cast iron pots) over a fire. Combine the fresh vegetables and herbs from the on-site garden with local ingredients from the market, then blend it all with spices to stir up a typical Sowetan braai, a South African take on the barbecue. Enjoy your dinner under the starlight at the community park around the boma (an outdoor dining enclosure with a fire at the center)
Day 8: The Cradle of Humankind, Sterkfontein Caves, & African Dinner
In the morning, make your way to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, one of ten similar sites in the country. The area is famous for its complex of fossil-bearing caves, many of which contain a superbly preserved record of the evolution of humankind over the past 4 million years. It's the world's richest early hominin site, and boasts around 40% of all known human-ancestor fossils. The recent discovery of Homo naledi, a previously unknown species, in a remote and hard-to-access cave put the Cradle of Humankind back in the global spotlight.
Learn about all this and more at the Maropeng Visitor Center, which features award-winning exhibits that explore the development of humans and our ancestors through time. View fossils, learn about the history of humankind and see million-year-old stone tools as you journey through human history.
After lunch, visit the Sterkfontein Caves, famous for their fossils and easy visitor access. Tour the caves on the modern walkways and boardwalk that passes by the excavation site. Here, dozens of notable discoveries took place, including the unearthing of the fossils of Mrs. Ples and Little Foot—a nearly complete Australopithecus skeleton that dates back more than three million years.
For dinner head to the Chief's Boma Restaurant for an interactive culinary experience that spans the African continent. Enjoy sundowners or craft beer on the deck overlooking the Boma Dam, then meander through the herb garden before sitting down to enjoy your meal to the music of the African Marimba Band. With over 120 options ranging from North African Moroccan Dishes to a "Big 5 Game Kebab" made from five kinds of antelope, you're sure to find something to suit your tastes. After dinner, enjoy a glass of wine and roasted marshmallows over a cozy fire.
Day 9: Depart Johannesburg
Transfer to the airport for your connecting flight home.