Experience the best of South Africa on this two-week itinerary, from the privately owned game reserves of the north to the internationally-acclaimed wines of Franschhoek. Fly into Johannesburg, then spend a week on safari at looking for Africa's Big 5 near Kruger. Continue to Cape Town where you'll rent a car, allowing you to drive along the Atlantic Seaboard and take an overnight trip to the Winelands. This itinerary combines a variety of activities with enough free time to explore at your own pace.

Highlights

  • Follow the Panorama Route through Blyde River Canyon
  • Enjoy panoramic Cape Town views from Table Mountain
  • Sample the vintages of the Cape Winelands
  • Practice your animal-spotting on safari
  • Drive the scenic Cape Peninsula out to the Cape of Good Hope

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Johannesburg Johannesburg
Day 2 Transfer from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit, Stay at Khaya Ndlovu Hoedspruit
Day 3 Khaya Nldovu - Free Day (all activities separate) Hoedspruit
Day 4 Hoedspruit to Honeyguide & Manyeleti Game Reserve Manyaleti Game Reserve
Days 5-6 Honeyguide Safari Day Manyaleti Game Reserve
Day 7 Flight from Honeyguide to Cape Town Cape Town
Days 8-9 Explore Cape Town On Your Own Cape Town
Day 10 Atlantic Seaboard & Cape Peninsula Cape Town
Day 11 Cape Town to Franschhoek, Afternoon Free Franschhoek
Day 12 Free Day in the Winelands Franschhoek
Day 13 Depart Cape Town  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg

Braamfontein, a central suburb of Johannesburg
Braamfontein, a central suburb of Johannesburg

Transfer from Cape Town to Johannesburg with a short but beautiful domestic flight. Check in to your accommodation in Johannesburg, then head out for a full day in the city. Your overnight options range from the historic township of Soweto to the trendy suburbs and city center that are packed with various art galleries, restaurants, markets, and buzzing nightlife. 

Johannesburg (also called Jozi, Jo'burg, and eGoli) is South Africa's largest city and one of the world's largest urban areas. The town dates back to 1886 when workers arrived to mine the large deposits of gold. Within a few years, the population of the city had ballooned, with thousands of native African and Indian workers working in the gold mining industry. Due to racial segregation during the Apartheid era, the workers were forced to live in separate townships outside of the city limits. The most famous of these are Soweto (short for South-West Township) and Lenasia, which was home to a large population of South Africans of Indian descent. Several prominent individuals have called the districts home, including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and comedian Trevor Noah. 

In the afternoon go on a self-guided walking tour of the Maboneng Precinct, a former industrial zone that has been transformed into a vibrant part of the city. Maboneng, a Sotho word for 'Place of Light,' is a fitting name for a neighborhood that has quickly become a center for creative urban artists. Visit art galleries and historical museums, then head to the 50-story Carlton Center for a bird's eye view of the city. 

Alternately, spend the afternoon visiting the sprawling Johannesburg Botanical Gardens which grew out of a large rose garden to cover an area of 310 acres. 

Day 2: Transfer from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit, Stay at Khaya Ndlovu

Enjoying the afternoon sun
Enjoying the afternoon sun

Head to the OR Tambo airport for your domestic flight to Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit. Once you arrive, you'll be met by your private transport who will transfer you to Khaya Ndlovu Manor House for the next two nights.  

Day 3: Khaya Nldovu - Free Day (all activities separate)

Cape Buffalo
Cape Buffalo

You can explore by doing the activities on offer that you can book and pay directly with your accommodation or pre-book ahead of time.

  • Game drives on Khaya Ndlovu: head out in an open-top vehicle for a game drive with a knowledgeable guide to help you spot wildlife like lions, cheetah, leopard, African wild dog, both black and white rhinos, and many other game species. Safaris depart in the early morning or late afternoon and last between 3-3.5 hours
  • Scenic Helicopter Flights through the Olifants River Gorge: meet your bush pilot at Hoedspruit Civil Airport, then fly across the African bushveld, citrus farms, and into the vast Olifants River Gorge (Blyde River Canyon)
  • Full-Day Trips to the Kruger National Park:  Experience a full day trip to Kruger National Park, where you'll have the change to spot the Big 5, as well as a multitude of other savannah species. The record number of individual sightings in a single day by a Manor House guest has reached 26—any guest who surpasses this tally will receive a special Khaya Ndlovu surprise
  • Day Trip to the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon: Relax in the comfort of an air-conditioned bus as your driver takes you on a tour of the region. You'll see mountains and the Blye River Canyon, as well as various landmarks: Bourke’s Luck Potholes, The Three Rondavels, God’s Window, and the Berlin Falls
  • Visits to local Wildlife Rehabilitation Center: Visit the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center and/ or the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center, where you can see abandoned, injured, or rehabilitated animals (including cheetahs and others)
  • Blyde Canyon Boat Cruise: Tour the canyon from the water on a boat as you travel to the Kadishi Tufa Waterfall and the Three Rondawels
  • Game walk on Khaya Ndlovu: Explore the savannah on a game walk, looking for tracks, signs, scat, signs of hunts, and other environmental cues 
  • Hot Air Balloon over the Blyde River System: Experience the magic of the Blyde River Canyon from a one-hour peaceful sunrise flight
  • Elephant Interaction: Interact with these massive animals up close, learning from their keepers who have spent years forming lifelong bonds with the elephant herd 
  • Hlokomela Community Tours: Learn about the local Hlokomela's fundraising initiatives on a 3-4 hour tour of the community, including visits to a womens' health clinic, an herb garden, and the local market
  • 30 Minute Microlight Flight: Get a birds' eye view of the area on this 30-minutes flight, keeping an eye out for the big game that roam the plains

Day 4: Hoedspruit to Honeyguide & Manyeleti Game Reserve

The tented camp in the reserve
The tented camp in the reserve

Transfer to the Manyeleti Game Reserve to stay at Honeyguide Khoka Moya Tented Camp for three nights.

This region is unique, as the Sabi Sands, the Timbavati, and the Manyeleti private game reserves all share an open border with Kruger National Park, allowing animals to move freely between the reserves, the park, and the private game lodges. Together, these areas form a crucial wildlife conservation area, one that the owners and managers of the reserves work hard to preserve for future wildlife. 

Enjoy game drives in open-top vehicles, walk through the bush with a local Shangaan tracker, and learn about the wildlife and plants that live here. Game drives are typically held in the early morning and late afternoon, giving you the best opportunity to spot game. After the sun sets, night safaris head out to follow nocturnal animals as they begin to hunt. 

At the end of the day, dig into your dinner at a boma—a round communal gathering area. 

Days 5-6: Honeyguide Safari Day

A two month old rhino with its mother
A two month old rhino with its mother

Spend the day on safari at Honeyguide, following the patterns of the wildlife. Start your morning early and have coffee or tea as you watch the sunrise. Animals are active early in the morning before the heat of the day, so you'll have a greater chance of seeing wildlife. After your 2-3 hour game drive, return to the lodge in time for a late breakfast. 

After breakfast, you can choose to head out for a guided bush walk with a ranger. These walks give you the chance to get closer to wildlife and to appreciate the smaller animals: birds, insects, and reptiles. You'll also learn about the local flora and geology. Alternately, stay back at the lodge to relax during the heat of the day. 

The pattern for the rest of the day is similar: a late lunch, followed by a game drive in the late afternoon. To spot nocturnal animals, head out for a night drive, followed by a late dinner back at the lodge.

Day 7: Flight from Honeyguide to Cape Town

Aerial view of Cape Town
Aerial view of Cape Town

You enjoy your last early morning game drive followed by breakfast at the lodge. After breakfast, transfer back to Eastgate Hoedspruit Airport for your flight to Cape Town. Once you arrive in the city, pick up your rental car and head to your hotel to check in.  

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. 

Days 8-9: Explore Cape Town On Your Own

Driving along the coast
Driving along the coast

Spend today exploring Cape Town on your own. There's lots to do, from day trips to the Cape Peninsula to hot air balloon rides over the Winelands

  •  Take a hot air balloon flight over the Winelands. The quietest way to fly, hot air ballooning lets you soar over the Cape Winelands vineyards and farmhouses of the Berg River Valley on a sunrise adventure 
  • Go on a Running Tour in Cape Town. Sightseeing in Cape Town is always fun, but on a running tour you'll have the added advantage of getting fit as you explore urban neighborhoods, nature trails, and the Gugulethu Township 
  • Go Skydiving. Experience 40 seconds of adrenaline-inducing free fall with a qualified jumpmaster securely attached to your harness. Bonus: the drop zone is just a short drive from Cape Town, so you'll have views of the coast and Table Mountain on both the plane ride up and the jump descent back to the ground
  • Visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Set against the slopes of Table Mountain, this lush paradise houses thousands of unique species of indigenous and exotic plants. Walk along the curved steel and timber Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway (informally known as the 'Boomslang') to see the views from the treetop canopy
  • Set sail at sunset. Wind down the day with drinks and a sunset cruise aboard a chartered boat off the peninsula coast

Day 10: Atlantic Seaboard & Cape Peninsula

Scenic view of Chapman’s Peak Drive
Scenic view of Chapman’s Peak Drive

Hit the road with your guide for a full-day adventure on this Cape Peninsula Tour. The Cape Peninsula is a rocky peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean at the south-western extremity of the African continent. At the southern end of the peninsula are Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. On the northern end is Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town. The southernmost point of the Cape Peninsula has outstanding flora and fauna and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Cape Floral Region.

 
Head out from Cape Town early in the morning, passing Cape Town University and Constantia before heading for Ou Kaapse Weg in Noordhoek (a half-hour drive from Cape Town). Stop here for a coffee break and some photos, then head to the Cape Point Nature Reserve where you will visit the Cape of Good Hope and the lighthouse (an hourlong drive from Ou Kaapse Weg). 

Afterward, head to Simon's Town (half-hour to the north) and visit the penguin colony before breaking for lunch at a local seafood restaurant along the water in the sleepy fishing town. Head over to Chapman’s Peak Drive along the scenic roads of the Atlantic Seaboard. You'll pass by Llandudno and Camps Bay beaches, then stop at the iconic Maidens Cove (located an hour to the north) for a quick dip in the water before ending the day.

Day 11: Cape Town to Franschhoek, Afternoon Free

Franschhoek wine tram
Franschhoek wine tram

In the morning, transfer to Franschhoek, a one-hour drive from Cape Town. One of South Africa's oldest European towns, Franschhoek is nestled in the Franschhoek Valley in the mountains of the Cape Winelands. This is South Africa's heartland, with award-winning farms and wineries around every corner.

The original inhabitants of this region are the herder Khoikhoi and the hunter-gatherer San people. In the late 17th century, French Huguenot refugees arrived in the valley, bringing wine agriculture and establishing family farms. 

After checking in, spend the afternoon exploring the region and everything it has to offer. 

  • Franschhoek boasts several of South Africa's 'Top 100' restaurants and is renowned as a culinary capital. Choose from one of several excellent options and enjoy a decadent meal and world-class wine
  • Tour the area's wine cellars, many of which are housed in original Cape Dutch homesteads complete with towering oaks and rolling vineyards. From small boutique wineries to extensive cellars, the options are as varied as the wine they produce. For a wine tasting you'll never forget, take a ride on the Franschhoek Wine Tram as it winds its way through the lush valley vineyards.
  • View local and national art at the galleries lining Huguenot Road, the main shopping street in Franschhoek
  • Recharge and relax at one of the area's many luxurious spas
  • Go shopping for gifts and treasures to bring home in the town's shops and boutiques. Browse for wine, jewelry, artwork, chocolates, and more to bring back. Many of the area's wine estates also feature bakeries where guests can purchase baked bread, fresh olive oils, charcuterie, and much more
  • Visit the luxurious Val de Vie resort for a game of polo or golf at the award-winning Paarl Valley golf course 
  • Rent a bicycle and explore the area on your own, or opt for a horseback wine-tasting tour
  • Explore the Franschhoek Valley with a hike on the trails in nearby Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve

Day 12: Free Day in the Winelands

Overlooking the Winelands
Overlooking the Winelands

Today is a free day in the Winelands to explore the region for its famed products: wine! 

One option is to enjoy a full-day cheese, wine, and chocolate tour. You'll sample chocolates, cheeses, and superb wine while experiencing acclaimed hospitality. 

Start your day with a drive to the Fairview Winery. With several hundred years of wine-making heritage originating on the farm, it's no wonder that Fairview wine has become a cornerstone of South African wine history. Enjoy a wine and goat cheese tasting in an intimate setting, then head outside to visit the winery's furry mascots (baby goats!) and take in the beautiful views. 

Your next stop is the Tokara winery in Stellenbosch for wine tasting, located on the southern slopes of Simonsberg Mountain about 20 minutes down the road. Round out your wine tour with a 20-minute drive to visit Bilton, on the foothills of the Helderberg Mountains. Here you can sample fine South African wines, accompanied by dark Belgian chocolates to complement the flavors of the wines.

If you would rather strike out on your own, there are plenty of family-owned wineries and restaurants to explore. 

Day 13: Depart Cape Town

Take to the skies as your plane departs
Take to the skies as your plane departs

Transfer to the airport for your connecting flight home.

Map

Map of South Africa Safari & Cities: Johannesburg, Kruger Private Reserves, Cape Town, & Winelands - 13 Days
Map of South Africa Safari & Cities: Johannesburg, Kruger Private Reserves, Cape Town, & Winelands - 13 Days