With dozens of national parks and reserves within easy reach, there's no better country in Africa for the ultimate safari adventure than the southernmost one. This eventful two-week itinerary includes Big Five game drives in Kruger National Park, bush walks in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, and a visit to Victoria Falls to marvel at the largest waterfall in the world. In between, you'll experience the history of Johannesburg, join cooking and wine-tasting experiences in Cape Town, and more.


  • Seek out Big Five animals like lions and elephants in Kruger National Park
  • Search for leopards on game drives in the private Sabi Sands Game Reserve
  • Take a scenic trip along the gorges and canyons of the Panorama Route
  • Soar over massive Victoria Falls in a helicopter and travel by it on a sunset cruise
  • Hike Table Mountain, go wine tasting, and walk with penguins near Cape Town

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Johannesburg (South Africa), Optional Activities Johannesburg
Day 2 Fly to Kruger National Park, Afternoon Game Drive Kruger National Park
Day 3 Game Drives in Kruger Kruger National Park
Day 4 Morning Bush Walk, Free Afternoon Kruger National Park
Day 5 Transfer to Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive Sabi Sands 
Days 6-7 Sabi Sands Big Five Safaris Sabi Sands 
Day 8 Transfer to White River via Panorama Route Road Trip White River
Day 9 Transfer to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Dinner & Drum Show Victoria Falls
Day 10 Victoria Falls Guided Tour, Sunset Cruise & Helicopter Flight  Victoria Falls
Day 11 Fly to Cape Town (South Africa), Table Mountain & V&A Waterfront Cape Town
Day 12 Table Mountain Hike & Cape Malay Food Tour Cape Town
Day 13 Full-Day Cape Point & Penguin Tour & Wine Tasting Cape Town
Day 14 Depart Cape Town  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg (South Africa), Optional Activities

Before the safari, discover South African culture in Johannesburg

Welcome to South Africa! The "Cradle of Civilization" is rich in archaeology, history, culture, wildlife, and diversity. That's right, South Africa is a melting pot—a nation with 11 official languages representing various Indigenous groups as well as descendants of European settlers. There's no better place to get a sense of the country and its people than your arrival destination of Johannesburg. The nation's largest metropolis represents all of South Africa's dimensions, from its rich music and culture to its recent history defined by the shame of apartheid and the victory of Mandela and the people.

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 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

On your first day in the park, you'll likely spot cheetahs

Time for the great adventure! Transfer to the airport in the morning 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: Game Drives in Kruger

In Kruger, you can get right up close to Big Five animals, like elephants

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: Morning Bush Walk, Free Afternoon

Hit the trail on a guided hike through Kruger National Park

This morning, you'll explore Kruger on foot on a guided bush walk. See the wonders of the bushveld up close as you explore trails that are inaccessible by vehicle. Your ranger guide will be there every step of the way, pointing out the exotic flora and fauna native to the reserve. Some interesting specimens, like African termite mounds, are often missed when traveling by car. A real highlight is learning to track animals by their prints—the way bush folk have been doing since time immemorial.

Besides majestic animals like giraffes and elephants, being on foot gives you the chance to encounter some of the more shy animals of the bush, including antelope. You're also sure to spot some of Kruger's incredible bird species, including starlings, hornbills, and the occasional ostrich. As you walk, your expert guide will offer info about the wildlife and the local flora, like the iconic baobab tree. You'll return to the lodge at the excursion, where you'll have the afternoon free to laze around the pool, book a rejuvenating massage, or embark on another game drive or bush walk.

Day 5: Transfer to Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive

Sabi Sands is one of the best places in the country to spot the elusive leopard

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 lions, leopards, black rhinos, elephants, and buffalo. Upon return, dinner will be served at the lodge.

Days 6-7: Sabi Sands Big Five Safaris

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

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 8: Transfer to White River via Panorama Route Road Trip

For rugged mountain beauty, you can't beat Blyde River Canyon
Plan your trip to South Africa
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today, you'll say goodbye to the savanna and hello to the mountains of northeast Africa. In the morning, your driver will pick you up and leave Kruger on a ride to nearby Mpumalanga Province and the scenic Blyde River Canyon. This region is famous for its gorges and mountain escarpments. You'll see the area's highlights as you drive along the Panorama Route. This 99-mile (160 km) stretch of road features some of the most incredible natural scenery in the country.

First, you'll stop at the canyon itself. At 66,585 acres (26,946 ha), Blyde is the third-largest canyon in the world. Its soaring cliffs rise as high as 2,625 feet (800 m), much of it blanketed in lush, subtropical foliage. You'll also visit Berlin Falls, which plunge 260 feet (80 m) from a green valley over ocher cliffs into a dark lagoon. Then, continue to God's Window, an incredible viewpoint overlooking a 2,952-foot (900-m) ravine. You can also stop for a dip in natural rock pools and waterfalls, like Bourke's Luck Potholes and the famous Mac Mac Pools.

A real highlight of this road trip is the Three Rondavels—huge rock formations that resemble ancient stone beehive huts. Here, you'll enjoy spectacular views over Blyde Canyon. The road trip ends nearby at Graskop, a vast gorge carved by the Motitsi River. The area is famous for its unspoiled mountain landscapes, and there's even a lift that will take you 167 feet (51 m) to a viewpoint where you'll enjoy the grand vistas of northeastern South Africa laid out below. After snapping plenty of photos around Graskop, you'll transfer to your boutique hotel in nearby White River.

Day 9: Transfer to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Dinner & Drum Show

There's one waterfall to rule them all, and its name is Victoria Falls

After breakfast, meet your driver for the ride to the northern end of South Africa. There, you'll cross into Zimbabwe. Straddling its border with Zambia is a showstopping landmark that leaves all others of its kind across the world the dust: Victoria Falls. Every minute here, 17,657 million cubic feet (500 million cm) of water cascade over sheer basalt cliffs.

The falls' many cataracts vary in size, but the tallest is Rainbow Falls, which plunges 354 feet (108 m) into a river gorge. There's a semi-permanent rainbow here, and during the rainy season, you can see the misty spray from 12 miles (20 km) away. Upon arrival, you'll check into a nearby lodge (the perfect hub to explore the falls) and make arrangements for the activities you'll enjoy over the next couple of days. There are many available, too, including wildlife safaris on the Zambezi River (which feeds the falls), helicopter flights, zipline tours, bungee jumping, bike rides, and more.

In the evening, you'll enjoy a very special cultural experience when you sit down for the Boma Dinner and Drum Show. This joyous dining experience combines traditional African entertainment, a buffet dinner featuring local cuisine, and interactive drumming sessions. The buffet offers a diverse taste of bold African flavors, but the real highlight of The Boma is its live entertainment. It includes traditional music, dance, and interactive drum performances—so brush up on your percussion skills!

Day 10: Victoria Falls Guided Tour, Sunset Cruise & Helicopter Flight 

Spot wildlife on a sunset cruise along the Zambezi River

It's an early start as you meet your guide at the hotel in the morning for an outing to tour Victoria Falls. The first stop on the way there is the Big Tree, a massive baobab many hundreds of years old with a circumference of 72 feet (22 m). Continue to the Zimbabwe side of the falls and embark on a walking tour at the famous statue of famous explorer David Livingstone. From there, hike through lush rainforest to aptly named landmarks within the falls like the Devil's Cataract and Danger Point. The entire route is 1.8 miles (3 km), with many spectacular viewpoints. Return to your hotel after the hike. 

You can then take some time to relax or opt for a quick 15-minute helicopter tour to get a bird's-eye view of the falls. Later in the afternoon, transfer to the dock at the Zambezi and hop on a boat for a sunset cruise. As you ride along the river, you'll see crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, hippos soaking in the water, and elephants bathing in the river. As the sun sets and gilds the shimmering river, watch as zebras line up at the banks to enjoy their last sip of the day while herons and egrets skim the water. After sunset, you'll return to shore and return to your hotel.

Day 11: Fly to Cape Town (South Africa), Table Mountain & V&A Waterfront

Welcome to Cape Town, the most famous coastal city in South Africa

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, 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 12: Table Mountain Hike & Cape Malay Food Tour

Learn about Cape Malay history and cuisine in colorful Bo Kaap

More outdoor adventures await, as this morning you'll 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. 

Having worked up an appetite on the trails, afterward, you can seek out the best eats in Cape Town on a "cooking and culture safari." More than a food tour, this interactive culinary experience will take you to Bo Kaap. In the 1600s, enslaved Malaysians and Indonesians were brought to Cape Town to endure lives of forced servitude, and they settled in this neighborhood. Today, it's a cultural hotbed famous for its 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.

A major highlight is participating in a cooking workshop at a Bo Kaap home to learn how to master the bold flavors of Cape Malay cuisine. But the foodie fun doesn't stop there. Later, sit at Gold Restaurant to enjoy a 14-dish tasting menu spanning the continent. The food is only part of the experience—each night on the restaurant's 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 (a type of traditional drum), they can hop on stage and dance along with the performers.

Day 13: Full-Day Cape Point Penguin Tour & Wine Tasting

Spend part of the day walking with penguins at Boulders Beach

This morning, you're off 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 to jump on 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 14: Depart Cape Town

Farewell, South Africa
Your epic South African adventure comes to a close today, and it's time to say goodbye to Rainbow Nation. After breakfast at the hotel, a driver will pick you up for the transfer to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of South African Safari Highlights: Kruger, Sabi Sands, Victoria Falls & Cape Town - 14 Days
Map of South African Safari Highlights: Kruger, Sabi Sands, Victoria Falls & Cape Town - 14 Days