Ultimate South Africa: Cape Town, Simon's Town, Franschhoek, Kruger & Johannesburg - 14 Days
- Hike up Table Mountain and enjoy panoramic views of Cape Town
- Visit the Cape Winelands for wine tours and craft beer tastings
- Ride horses and walk with penguins around the southern Cape
- Embark on wildlife safaris and bushwalks in Kruger National Park
- Visit Soweto township and hear stories of Apartheid-era South Africa
|Day 1||Arrive in Cape Town, Optional Activities||Cape Town|
|Day 2||Cape Town City Tour, Hike Table Mountain, Traditional Dinner||Cape Town|
|Day 3||Western Cape Beer & Wine Adventure||Cape Town|
|Day 4||Free Day in Cape Town||Cape Town|
|Day 5||Transfer to Simon's Town, Dyer Island Wildlife Tour||Simon's Town|
|Day 6||Walk With Penguins at Boulders Beach & Kayak Trip||Simon's Town|
|Day 7||Transfer to Franschhoek, Horseback Ride & Wine Tasting||Franschhoek|
|Day 8||Franschhoek Valley Hop-On, Hop-Off Wine Tour||Franschhoek|
|Day 9||Franschhoek to Kruger National Park & Sunset Safari||Kruger N.P.|
|Day 10||Full-Day Kruger National Park Safari||Kruger N.P.|
|Day 11||Kruger Bush Walk||Kruger N.P.|
|Day 12||Kruger to Johannesburg, Maboneng Precinct Tour||Johannesburg|
|Day 13||Bicycle Tour of Soweto & Storytelling Dinner||Johannesburg|
|Day 14||Depart Johannesburg|
Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, Optional Activities
Welcome to Cape Town and South Africa! This beautiful nation is home to a diverse population and was even christened "Rainbow Nation" by Archbishop Desmund Tutu. Roughly 80% of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry from various ethnic groups, while the remainder is primarily of European, Asian (Indian, Chinese, and others of the formerly enslaved/indentured population), and mixed-race ancestry. You'll both see and feel this diversity and complicated history on the streets of Cape Town.
Upon arrival at Cape Town's airport, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel in the city. After settling in, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore. Perhaps head to 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.
You can also visit the Two Oceans Aquarium and marvel at incredible marine life or enjoy a harbor cruise as you watch the sunset. Other options include visiting the Diamond Museum, which explores the history of the diamond rush in South Africa. Or, take a helicopter flight and enjoy epic views of the city and Table Mountain from above.
Day 2: Cape Town City Tour, Hike Table Mountain, Traditional Dinner
See more of Cape Town today with a three-hour guided tour of the city. Explore its historic landmarks as you learn about South Africa's history and the people who shaped it. Stops along the way include the Company's Garden, the Houses of Parliament, the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope, and the Iziko Slave Lodge. You'll also visit Bo-Kaap, a neighborhood that in the late 18th century housed enslaved Malaysians and Indonesians. Today it's a cultural hotbed famous for its colorful houses.
After the tour, you'll have your choice of three hiking routes up the 3,562-foot (1,086 m) Table Mountain. The first is a 4-mile (7 km) hike from Platteklip Gorge to the Lower Cable Station, which sits at 991 feet (302 m) above sea level. Option two is 5 miles (8 km) and follows the India Venster trail. Option three is a challenging 6-mile (10 km) route on the Kasteelspoort Trail up the back ridges of Table Mountain. Whichever you choose, you'll be accompanied every step of the way by an expert guide. After the ascent, you can return via cable car or hike back down the mountain.Later, sit down for a traditional African dining experience in which you'll enjoy a 14-dish tasting menu that spans the continent. But 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—in addition to learning how to perform basic beats on a djembe (a type of traditional drum), they can hop on stage and dance along with the performers. They'll even get to enjoy traditional Mali puppetry.
Day 3: Western Cape Beer & Wine Adventure
You're in for a delicious treat because today, you'll embark on a tasting tour around the Western Cape to sample great wine, sweets, microbrews, and more. After starting the day with a coffee and a koeksister (South African donut), your guide will take you north out of the city to Darling, a charming town known for its colorful wildflowers and vineyards. Here, you'll stop in at various shops to sample quality wines, olives, jams, chocolates, and handcrafted toffees. You'll also visit a local cheesemaker specializing in gourmet, European-style cheeses.
Then, you'll visit the region's award-winning microbrewery. After imbibing some delicious craft beers, head down the wine route to a family-owned winery that has been producing top-quality chardonnay, pinot noir, malbec, grenache, and more since 1970. After tasting some of their flagship varietals, you'll return to Cape Town.
Day 4: Free Day in Cape Town
Spend the day exploring Cape Town's most iconic and culturally significant landmarks. Head out on a stroll (or take a city bus) to the V&A Waterfront. From here, you can board a ferry for the 40-minute ride to Robben Island. Before being shut down in 1996, this notorious island housed Black South African political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 of his 27 imprisoned years here. Today, though, it's a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site. On a tour, you can visit Mandela's former cell.
After visiting Robben Island, you can head back to the mainland and spend the rest of the day however you wish. Perhaps head out on a snorkeling tour with seals, or go sandboarding or stand-up paddleboarding. The choice is yours.
Day 5: Transfer to Simon's Town, Dyer Island Wildlife Tour
Today's 2.5-hour boat tour is a blast for wildlife lovers, as it's possible to see the Western Cape's Big Five marine animals: whales, great white sharks, dolphins, penguins, and seals. In the morning, you'll transfer south to the seaside village of Simon's Town, and after checking in to your hotel, head to Kleinbaai Harbour. Upon boarding the boat, you'll cruise about 5 miles (8 km) to Dyer Island. This conservation area protects many resident bird species, including African penguins. Adjacent to Dyer Island is Geyser Rock, home to 60,000 Cape fur seals.
After viewing the seals and penguins, you'll cruise the channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock—a foreboding bit of water known as "Shark Alley" due to the great whites that congregate there. Not only will you get to see some sharks, but you'll also probably spot humpback and southern right whales. Who knows, you might even be treated to an orca sighting. Afterward, the boat will return to the harbor, and you'll transfer back to Simon's Town and your hotel.
Day 6: Walk With Penguins at Boulders Beach & Kayak Trip
Located in Simon's Town, Boulders Beach is one of the only places in the world where you can walk with African penguins. This rocky beach on a sheltered bay is home to a colony of thousands of these flightless birds, and today you'll take a stroll alongside them via a network of boardwalks and even on the sand. 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.
After walking with the penguins, you'll get to kayak alongside them in a protected marine reserve in Table Mountain National Park. The two-hour tour begins when you meet your conservationist guide at the jetty in Simon's Town. After a safety briefing, you'll hit the water and paddle out from the harbor to the penguins. On the way, you'll likely encounter colonies of seals. If time and tide are right, there will be an optional stop on a beach for a swimming break; otherwise, you'll hop in the water and go swimming with the nearby penguins. Afterward, you'll return to the jetty.
Day 7: Transfer to Franschhoek, Horseback Ride & Wine Tasting
In the morning, you'll transfer from Simon's Town back north to the traditionally French town of Franschhoek. Located just 45 minutes from Cape Town, Franschhoek sits in one of the most beautiful wine valleys in the world. It's also the food and wine capital of the country—eight of the top 100 restaurants in South Africa are here, and there are around 30 wine cellars too. Today, you'll get to explore the vineyards and enjoy a tasting. However, this isn't your average wine tour—you'll be traveling between two boutique wineries on the back of a pure-bred Arabian horse.
Once in Franschhoek, you'll mount your horse and travel to the first winery, riding amid vineyards and passing traditional farms that are beautiful examples of Cape Dutch architecture. Upon arrival at the first estate, you'll sample award-winning wines, and if any catch your fancy, you can pick up a bottle or two to take back home. After a break for lunch, you'll visit the second winery for another tasting and will then transfer back to your hotel in the afternoon.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 8: Franschhoek Valley Hop-On, Hop-Off Wine Tour
One of the most fun and efficient ways to experience the Cape Winelands is on the Hop-On, Hop-Off tram, which runs eight lines around the wine farms and estates of the Franschhoek Valley. And with a day pass, you can do just what the tram promises—hop on and off as you like. This freedom allows you to plan your own schedule, enjoy the activities that appeal to you, and stay at each stop for however long you choose.
The full-day tour begins in the morning when you transfer to the terminal in Franschhoek. From there, you'll travel the line's circuit on a combination of a double-decker tram and an open-air tram bus. With no set schedule, you can take your time at an estate wine tasting, cellar tour, or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the vineyards. And when you're ready, simply hop back on the tram and continue the journey. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 9: Franschhoek to Kruger National Park & Sunset Safari
In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Cape Town, where you'll catch the 2.5-hour flight east to Kruger National Park. Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the premier safari lodge in the area: Tremisana. Here, walkways pass between palm and bougainvillea-filled gardens to 15 chalets, each equipped with modern conveniences like en suite bathrooms and air conditioning. After check-in, feel free to relax and perhaps take a refreshing dip in the pool.
At dusk, you'll board an open-topped 4WD vehicle and embark on a sunset safari to try and spot Africa's Big Five animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. After enjoying an African sunset over the savanna, your guide will lead you on a nocturnal wildlife tour. With powerful spotlights, you might spy animals like hyenas and lions out for their nightly hunt. Before returning to the lodge, you'll break for a traditional bush braai (South African bbq) dinner.
Day 10: Full-Day Kruger National Park Safari
After an early wake-up call, hop in a 4WD vehicle and head to the Orpen Gate, one of the western entrances to Kruger National Park. The day is guaranteed to be exciting, as this region has the greatest concentration of animals in the whole of Kruger. And from your elevated position in an open-topped safari vehicle, you'll enjoy the perfect vantage point from which to snap great photos.
Leading this unforgettable wildlife tour will be an expert guide who will search out giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and impalas—because where these animals are found, lions and other apex predators aren't far behind. You're also sure to spot some of Kruger's incredible 517 species of birds, which include starlings, hornbills, and the occasional ostrich. Afterward, you'll return to the lodge in time for dinner.
Day 11: Kruger Bush WalkExperience Africa's exotic wildlife up close on a safari bush walk. During this three to four-hour excursion led by safari rangers, you'll hike across Kruger's beautiful savanna grasslands in search of its diverse animals. As you go, your guide will impart interesting facts about the surrounding flora and fauna, including bush survival skills like the medicinal use of native plants and tips on tracking animals. Throughout the bush walk, you'll be in good hands, as these rangers hold, as a minimum, a professional trails guide certification.
Day 12: Kruger National Park to Johannesburg, Maboneng Precinct Tour
Bid Kruger farewell this morning as you transfer to the airport and catch a one-hour flight to Johannesburg. After checking in to your hotel, you'll have time to enjoy "Jozi" on your own schedule. You can go shopping at one of the city's many malls, enjoy a meal at a prestige restaurant in the heart of town, and take in some culture at one of Johannesburg's fine museums, like the must-visit Apartheid Museum.
Later, you'll visit Maboneng Precinct on a two-hour walking tour. This once gritty part of downtown has been revitalized and is now a creative hub packed with art galleries, studios, and cultural spaces. On the tour, you'll stroll the buzzing streets and soak up the colorful atmosphere as you pop in at cool galleries and stop at a café or two. You'll quickly discover that this isn't merely a hipster enclave. Maboneng is still rough around the edges yet draws a diverse crowd, all with a common goal of promoting creative energy.
Day 13: Bicycle Tour of Soweto & Storytelling Dinner
After breakfast, you'll travel to Soweto, located on the western outskirts of the city. The history of this township is infamous in that it was founded in the 1930s by the white government of South Africa as a segregated residence for the Black population of Johannesburg. You'll learn all about Soweto's contentious history plus experience its rich culture on a guided 2.5-hour cycling tour. During the ride, you'll stop at some of its most interesting historical sites, including a workers' hostel, Nelson Mandela's former home, and a local shebeen (pub), where you can mingle with locals over a beer.
The tour ends with a home-cooked lunch in Soweto. This traditional meal is called "bunny chow" and includes either stew or curry cooked over fire over fire then served in a hollowed-out loaf of fresh bread or with pap, an African cornmeal porridge. After the bicycle tour, you can choose to spend the remainder of the afternoon at the community park or enjoy activities with kids at the local youth club.
Later in the evening, you'll enjoy a dinner that combines a home-cooked meal with Soweto's vivid history. During the meal, you'll listen to real-life stories from Soweto residents who lived through some of the most crucial periods of the last few decades. Those whom you'll share the table with include freedom fighters, former students, artists, and musicians. It's a great opportunity to sit around the fire, enjoy good food, and hear compelling stories as you make new friends under the starry African skies.