Perfect for first-timers and those looking for the quintessential South African safari experience, this 10-day itinerary bases you between Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Reserve, where you'll spot lions and rhinos on game drives, take sunset bush walks through the savanna, and fall asleep to the sounds of the bushveld in luxury lodges. After plenty of safari adventures, your trip winds down in Cape Town for penguin tours, wine tastings, cooking workshops, and more.


  • Seek out big cats on safari at the world-famous Kruger National Park
  • Visit a private game reserve to spot more exotic animals and embark on bush walks
  • Enjoy the highlights of Cape Town, from Table Mountain to wine to its Malay cuisine

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Johannesburg, Optional Activities Johannesburg
Day 2 Fly to Kruger National Park, Afternoon Game Drive Kruger National Park
Day 3 Morning Game Drive in Kruger Kruger National Park
Day 4 Transfer to Sabi Sands Game Reserve Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Days 5-6 Big Five Safaris in the Sabi Sands Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Day 7 Fly to Cape Town, City Tour, Table Mountain & V&A Waterfront Cape Town
Day 8 Table Mountain Hike & Cape Malay Food Tour Cape Town
Day 9 Full-Day Cape Point Penguin Tour & Wine Tasting Cape Town
Day 10 Depart Cape Town  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg, Optional Activities

Art and beauty abound in Jo-Berg, even on the smokestacks in Soweto

Welcome to South Africa! To experience the full scope of Africa's culture, Indigenous culture, exotic wildlife, tantalizing cuisine, and complicated history, you can't do better than the continent's southernmost nation. Its population is a melting pot that includes descendants of a wide range of folks, from Bantu tribespeople to European settlers to indentured/enslaved pan-Asian immigrants. No fewer than 11 languages are spoken in this country alone, and you can bet that diversity has led to some great culture, music, and cuisine.

And there's no better introduction to South Africa than Johannesburg. The nation's largest city is a multicultural society whose fascinating history includes a 19th-century gold rush, vital archaeological finds, and the disgrace of apartheid. On its streets today, you'll find art and culture around every corner, particularly in the Maboneng Precinct—a trendy district known for its art studios, galleries, and street art.

At the airport in "Joburg" (as the locals call it), a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the city. Then, you can explore on your own. Even with just an afternoon, you can enjoy a few of the city's main highlights. If there's time, travel to the city's outskirts and tour the township (district) of Soweto. Or, stay in town and visit the Apartheid Museum to learn how those segregated urban settlements came to be. Then, after dinner, maybe pop in at a historic nightclub to hear live jazz. 

Day 2: Fly to Kruger National Park, Afternoon Game Drive

It won't take long during your first safari adventure to spot Big Five wildlife like elephants

Gear up for your first safari adventure on the continent! In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport for the hour-long flight to Kruger National Park. Located in northeast South Africa, not only is this the country's first-ever national park (founded in 1926), but it's also one of the largest on the continent at 7,576 square miles (19,623 sq km). The options for safari adventures here are nearly limitless, which you'll discover upon arrival.

When you arrive at the airstrip, friendly staff will be there to take you to Rhino Post Safari Lodge. The very definition of African chic, Rhino Post sits on 29,652 acres (12,000 ha) of prime bushveld (subtropical wilderness) landscapes. Not only will you enjoy daily safari adventures organized through the lodge, but you can also view the local wildlife right from the viewing platform of your private suite. Other features/amenities include a secluded swimming pool, fire pit, and a lounge bar overlooking a watering hole where animals congregate.

You'll see some exotic wildlife in short order because, after dropping off your bags, you'll meet your guide for an afternoon game drive. Spend a few hours in an open-topped 4WD vehicle prowling the park. This ruggedly beautiful savanna is home to 147 species of mammals, including the Big Five safari animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. It's also a paradise for birders, as the 508 species here include various hawks, eagles, storks, and parrots—don't forget your camera!

Day 3: Morning Game Drive in Kruger

Besides Big Five animals, you'll see zebras, giraffes, and more

Grab your binoculars, camera, and sunscreen because you're leaving at dawn on a morning game drive across the vast African savanna! From an open-topped, 4WD vehicle, you'll go in search of the Big Five. There's no shortage of these animals, as the park is home to around 1,500 lions, plus tens of thousands more elephants, leopards, and buffalo. You also might see both black and white rhinos (though the population of black rhinos here is a mere couple of hundred).

Also, you won't spend today entirely in the car. There will be opportunities to get out, stretch your legs, learn about the local flora from your expert guide, and take tea and coffee breaks. The drive ends around noon, but you can choose to embark on another game drive later in the afternoon. Know that you'll likely see more animals in the early mornings when they're at their most active (particularly at the watering holes where they congregate).

Day 4: Transfer to Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Take a bush walk with your guide to spot wildlife on foot (photo courtesy of Sabi Sands)

Hit the road after breakfast on a drive to your next safari destination: Sabi Sands Game Reserve. You won't have to travel far, as this 494-square-mile (1,283 sq km) private reserve is adjacent to Kruger National Park (the two share a fence line). Like Kruger, Sabi Sands is renowned for its exceptional wildlife-viewing opportunities.

You'll stay at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, a safari haven that sets the standard for a new era in luxury South African bush lodges. Sitting on a hill and blending seamlessly into the surrounding bushveld landscapes, a stay in this environmentally sustainable lodge puts you in the thick of the wilderness without sacrificing modern conveniences like air-conditioning, spa services, gourmet cuisine, fine wines, and more.

Speaking of which, if you arrive early, sit down to lunch and choose from a menu of global favorites prepared with locally sourced ingredients. If you get here later in the afternoon, enjoy high tea and spend the rest of the day on an introductory game drive in an open-topped 4WD vehicle. During this excursion, your knowledgeable guide will reveal info about the area and its animals, which include the Big Five: lions, leopards, black rhinos, elephants, and buffalo. Upon return, dinner will be served at the lodge.

Days 5-6: Big Five Safaris in the Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands is one of the best places in the country to spot the elusive leopard
Plan your trip to South Africa
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Spend the next couple of days cruising around the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in an open-topped safari vehicle. Each day, you'll rise early and embark on a dawn game drive to see the Big Five denizens of this reserve when they're fresh and energetic before the afternoon malaise sets in. Each day, there's at least one safari on the itinerary, and you can opt for a second game drive (or bush walk) later in the afternoon.

In between the safari activities, you'll have time to relax by the pool and enjoy delicious meals prepared by the friendly staff. You'll also want to avail yourself of the spa facilities, where you can enjoy a massage or wellness treatment to rejuvenate body and mind. These treatments are often outdoors, allowing you to relax amid the natural splendor of Sabi Sands. 

Day 7: Fly to Cape Town, City Tour, Table Mountain & V&A Waterfront

Cape Town is the most famous (and scenic) of South Africa's three capital cities

Bid a fond farewell to Victoria Falls this morning as you transfer to the airport and board a three-hour flight to South Africa's west coast and Cape Town. One of South Africa's three (that's right) capital cities, this coastal metropolis is famous for natural landmarks like Table Mountain and historical ones like Robben Island. This notorious island housed Black South African political prisoners, including former president Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 of his 27 imprisoned years here.

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel in the city. After settling in, you'll hit the streets on a sightseeing tour. Spend a couple of hours riding the upper deck of the famous Hop-On, Hop-Off tourist bus. It takes you past many of the city's highlights, including the Company's Garden (which dates to the 17th century), the Houses of Parliament, the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope, and the Iziko Slave Lodge. The best part is you can hop off whenever you like and meet the bust at a different stop when you're done touring a particular landmark.

Afterward, head over to the base of Table Mountain. This sandstone monolith and UNESCO World Heritage Site towers 3,562 feet (1,086 m) over the city, and you'll ascend it via a dramatic five-minute cable car ride. From the summit, enjoy panoramic views of Cape Town, the Atlantic Seaboard, and the mountains of the Cape Peninsula. Later, visit the V&A Waterfront. This historic harbor is popular with both locals and visitors due to its wealth of restaurants, bars, shops, and cafés. It's a great place to relax and sip a cocktail or coffee amid epic waterfront views backed by the looming plateau of Table Mountain.

Day 8: Table Mountain Hike & Cape Malay Food Tour

Follow your nose to colorful Bo Kaap and learn the secrets to Cape Malay cuisine

Opt for a light breakfast today because you'll spend the morning on a food and culture tour in Bo Kaap. This colorful neighborhood has quite a history. In the 1600s, enslaved Malaysians and Indonesians were brought to Cape Town, and they settled in this neighborhood. Today, it's a cultural hotbed famous for colorful houses and world-class food. During a half-day tour, you'll visit a community empowerment project, a local masala (spice) shop, and a fascinating social history museum. you'll also participate in a cooking workshop at a local home to learn how to master the bold flavors of Cape Malay cuisine.

After lunch, you can return to Table Mountain, this time to hike up it. There are dozens of hiking trails up the mountain, each one catering to different skill levels. (But you can bet they all offer spectacular scenery.) For example, you can choose the 4-mile (7 km) hike from Platteklip Gorge to the Lower Cable Station, 991 feet (302 m) above sea level. There's also the 5-mile (8 km) India Venster Trail or the more challenging 6-mile (10 km) Kasteelspoort route up the back ridges. Whichever you choose, you'll be accompanied by an expert guide. 

In the evening, a reservation awaits at Gold Restaurant to enjoy a 14-dish tasting menu spanning the continent. The food is only part of the experience—each night on stage, African musicians and dancers perform for the guests. This is particularly fun for children, as in addition to learning how to perform beats on a djembe (traditional drum), they can hop on stage and dance along with the performers.

Day 9: Full-Day Cape Point Penguin Tour & Wine Tasting

Visit Cape Point, the southwesternmost point on the continent

Leave in the morning on a full-day adventure to explore the southern end of the Cape Peninsula, witness some exotic wildlife, and cap the day with a wine tasting. Your driver will pick you up for the drive south, during which you'll pass charming coastal villages and stunning scenery like Chapman's Peak and fynbos-covered hills. Eventually, you'll arrive at Cape Point, a headland with incredible views over the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. There's also an iconic lighthouse here you can visit.

Then, head back up the coast to Simon's Town and Boulders Beach. This stretch of sand is one of the only places in the world where you can walk with African penguins. The rocky beach is home to a colony of thousands of these flightless birds, and you'll get to stroll alongside them. It's a real treat, as African penguins are only found on the coast of South Africa and Namibia and are currently on the verge of extinction. There will be time for lunch at a restaurant in Simon's Town.

Afterward, drive back up the coast to Hout Bay, a charming town famous for its wide and inviting beaches. Here, you'll have the option for a boat cruise to Seal Island or stay on shore and snap photos of the seal pups on the beach. Continue north to Constantia, one of the many famous wine valleys in this corner of South Africa. Visit Steenberg, a wine farm where you can end the day on the terrace with views over the vineyards as you sample some of the estate's premium labels. Later, return to Cape Town and your hotel. 

Day 10: Depart Cape Town

Farewell, Cape Town and South Africa
Though one adventure ends, there are many more to be had out in the world. Hopefully, you'll come back soon. For now, your driver will pick you up in the morning for the 40-minute transfer to Cape Town's airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Baai!

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Map of South African Safari Highlights: Kruger, Sabi Sands & Cape Town - 10 Days
Map of South African Safari Highlights: Kruger, Sabi Sands & Cape Town - 10 Days