Share on  Few years, South Africa has raced to the very best of many vacationers’ must-visit lists. Full of lovely vistas, cool cities, and all that well-known African wildlife, the nation really does have all of it.

Add to this a highly effective US buck and weaker South African rand, and it’s by no means been a better time to journey to South Africa.

Camps Bay in Cape Town

Lions in Kruger National Park

For those that’re considering a go to to South Africa this yr, that is a 12-day itinerary which will allow you to experience the simplest of what this good nation has to present. From Cape Metropolis to Kruger Nationwide Park, chances are you’ll get the correct introduction to South Africa even if you would not have a ton of journey time.


Journey Itinerary: The Better of South Africa in 12 Days

Day 1: Arrival and Gansbaai

Most people would perhaps have you ever ever start your South African journey in one of many nation’s most important cities like Johannesburg or Cape Metropolis. Nonetheless I’m really going to counsel that you just fly into Cape Metropolis after which head to the little coastal metropolis of Gansbaai within the Western Cape.

Hermanus, South Africa
The shut by metropolis of Hermanus

Gansbaai is most well-known for being shut to Dyer Island, the place tons of good white sharks could also be found. Nonetheless the precise motive I’m suggesting you start out proper right here is as a results of the town is every beautiful and super laid-back, making it a excellent introduction to South Africa.

Spend your first half-day strolling throughout the town and catching a beach-side sunset.

Sunset in Gansbaai, South Africa

The place to maintain in Gansbaai: My resolve is The Roundhouse, a locally-owned guesthouse that may be very distinctive. It has a scorching tub on the very best deck with views out over the town and ocean, and the breakfasts can’t be beat. (Plus, they may swap you from/to Cape Metropolis, and set up any actions you might have considered trying to do in Gansbaai.) (Study opinions | Guide proper right here!)

The Roundhouse in Gansbaai, South Africa


The Roundhouse – it really is spherical!

The place to eat in Gansbaai: Speaking of meals, undoubtedly have one at Blue Goose, which serves up latest native seafood and a few of the tastiest South African beef.

Day 2: Shark cage diving or dune biking

One of many largest attracts of Gansbaai is, after all, the good white shark diving journeys. I like to suggest going with Marine Dynamics as a results of of their pledge to marine conservation, nonetheless most companies in Gansbaai (of which there are quite a few!) present very associated experiences.

Cage diving with great white sharks in Gansbaai


RELATED: Ought to You Go Cage Diving With Good White Sharks?


If shark cage diving wouldn’t enchantment to you, you might have considered trying to get your journey on by hitting the sand dunes on a fatbike instead. Roundhouse proprietor Dave Caravias moreover runs Fatbike Tours, which affords up a variety of utterly totally different tour selections within the Gansbaai/Hermanus space.

Whichever journey you choose, chances are you’ll be once more in Gansbaai by late afternoon. Decompress within the Roundhouse’s scorching tub, and enjoy one different South African sunset.

View of Gansbaai, South Africa


The view from The Roundhouse’s excessive deck

Sunset in Gansbaai

The place to maintain in Gansbaai: At The Roundhouse as soon as extra, after all!

Day 3: Southern tip of Africa

Many people incorrectly assume that the Cape of Good Hope shut to Cape Metropolis is the southernmost degree of Africa. Nonetheless this really will not be true! The precise southernmost degree is at Cape Agulhas, about an hour and a half from Gansbaai. Go to the lighthouse proper right here, as well as to the aim the place the Indian and Pacific oceans meet.

Cape Agulhas, South Africa

At Cape Agulhas, Africa

We stopped for lunch on the Pelican’s Harbour Cafe in shut by Struisbaai, the place I had the simplest (and least costly!) seafood platter of my life.

Seafood in South Africa


This solely worth $11 USD!

For those that’re up for further sightseeing (and barely additional driving) within the afternoon, ponder heading north of Gansbaai to the Walker Bay wine space. I appreciated the tasting room at Creation Wines, positioned on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge.

Creation Wines in Walker Bay, South Africa


The tasting room at Creation Wines

*Discover: Good white shark cage diving is extraordinarily weather-dependent, which is why it’s preferrred to maintain in metropolis in any case a pair of days in case your genuine tour will get canceled. Chances are you’ll merely swap Days 2 and three if the local weather will not be cooperative. (And, if for some motive you would not have enough time to spend a variety of nights in Gansbaai, you *can* e ebook a cage diving tour from Cape Town.)

Day 4: To Cape Metropolis!

Now that you’ve settled into the South African tempo of life, it’s time to head to the Mother Metropolis: Cape Metropolis.

It’s a couple of 2-hour drive from Gansbaai to Cape Metropolis, so chances are you’ll want to start off early so as to make the most of of your first day on the town.

Camps Bay, Cape Town

Start your Cape Metropolis explorations on the V&A Waterfront, residence to South Africa’s oldest working harbor, an infinite procuring middle, a Ferris wheel, and a huge assortment of shops and consuming locations, all inside view of Desk Mountain.

One among my favorite parts of the waterfront is the Watershed, which is principally a huge remodeled warehouse that now properties better than 150 distributors selling all of the items from genuine paintings to basic garments.

V&A Waterfront in Cape Town


V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront will be the place chances are you’ll uncover the ferries which will take you out to Robben Island, which is residence to the jail the place Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of political imprisonment. Ferries depart every 1-2 hours from Nelson Mandela Gateway on the V&A Waterfront, and tours of Robben Island are carried out by former political prisoners.

Whether or not or not you resolve to spend your afternoon on the town or touring Robben Island, I counsel ending the day watching the photo voltaic set at Camps Bay, one of many further affluent areas of Cape Metropolis. The seashore at Camps Bay is sweet, nonetheless at sunset the dying mild paints the looming Twelve Apostles mountain differ reverse the bay an otherworldly orange. It’s utterly beautiful and is an efficient means to end your first day on the town.

Sunset at Camps Bay


Sunset at Camps Bay

The place to maintain in Cape Metropolis: I stayed at three utterly totally different resorts in Cape Metropolis:

The Commodore Resort – This upscale lodge is comfortable, has a wonderful breakfast, and is solely throughout the nook from the V&A Waterfront. (Study opinions | Guide proper right here!)

The Taj – The Taj is a 5-star lodge within the guts of downtown Cape Metropolis. Normally I might by no means maintain in a lodge this good, nonetheless correct now it’s really not exorbitantly priced. My dad and I had been upgraded to an infinite 2-room suite proper right here, which was bigger (and means nicer) than my condominium at residence. (Study opinions | Guide proper right here!)

The One 8 Resort – For those that’re in a further moderately priced lodge in a particular neighborhood, I can advocate the One 8 Resort in Inexperienced Stage. The workers was super good, and it was solely a transient stroll to a very good waterfront path. (Study opinions | Guide proper right here!)

Or, you presumably can compare Cape Town hotel prices here to uncover way more selections.

The place to eat in Cape Metropolis: There are TONS of great restaurants in Cape Town to choose from. For those that’re looking for one factor quick and shut by, though, V&A Meals Market is a good place to uncover delicious street-food-type fare.

Day 5: Cape Metropolis

Start your morning off with a singular technique of seeing Cape Metropolis. My votes are each a helicopter tour, or a expertise within the sidecar of a WWII-era bike.

Helicopter excursions of Cape Metropolis aren’t an reasonably priced outing (assume in any case $100-$150 per particular person), nonetheless it is one of the vital efficient strategies to see Cape Metropolis. Even on a cloudy day, the views over city are nothing transient of lovely.

Cape Town from above


Cape Metropolis from a helicopter

Or, if heights and flying aren’t really your issue, attempt city excursions offered by Cape Sidecar Adventures. I did a transient tour with them from Signal Hill to Hout Bay, which ended up being among the finest metropolis excursions I imagine I’ve ever taken!

They supply a 2-hour tour that makes for a super (and utterly distinctive) introduction to Cape Metropolis.

Sidecars in Cape Town, South Africa


Touring Cape Metropolis in a motorcycle sidecar!

Subsequent, no journey to Cape Metropolis will be full with out a go to to Desk Mountain, which is the huge, flat mountain that overlooks the entire Mother Metropolis.

This picture of city will not be always seen (a cloud layer referred to as “the desk materials” normally covers the mountain), nonetheless for many who hit on a clear day it’s best to undoubtedly take the cable automotive to the very best.

View from Table Mountain in Cape Town


The view from Desk Mountain

The views out over Cape Metropolis from Desk Mountain are good – you may even see all of the items from Lion’s Head to Devil’s Peak to the Atlantic Ocean.

View from Table Mountain

Tip: Buy your tickets on-line ahead of time so that you presumably can skip the prolonged traces on the foot of the cable automotive.

After Desk Mountain (or, in case the local weather is uncooperative and chances are you’ll’t go up), head once more into city and go to Cape Metropolis’s most vibrant neighborhood: Bo-Kaap. This small downtown neighborhood is named the Cape Malay Quarter, and is known for its vibrant properties, multicultural make-up, and good ethnic meals.

Bo-Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town


Vibrant Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

You perhaps is not going to have time to match in a cooking lesson in Bo-Kaap (the neighborhood is known for them), nonetheless you presumably can possibly seize dinner at a standard Cape Malay restaurant like Bo Kaap Kombuis.

Day 6: Cape Peninsula + Boulders Seaside

Cape Metropolis is sweet, nonetheless you is not going to want to skip a go to to the Cape Peninsula when you may have the prospect to go.

Start out with Chapman’s Peak Drive, a cliff-hugging road that connects Hout Bay in Cape Metropolis to Noordhoek. There are a variety of viewpoints alongside the drive, along with one that provides some great views once more in route of Hout Bay.

Chapman's Peak Drive in Cape Town


Chapman’s Peak Drive

After the drive, make for Simon’s Metropolis and the well-known Boulders Seaside. Likelihood is excessive you’ve got received already heard of Boulders Seaside: it’s the postcard-perfect seashore that may be residence to a colony of endangered African Penguins.

Penguins at Boulders Beach


Boulders Seaside

Chances are you’ll really uncover three seashores proper right here, nonetheless it is the boardwalks and penguin viewing house at Crafty Seaside that get basically probably the most consideration.

Boulders Beach, South Africa


So many penguins!

The seashore on the far end of the protected house (the *exact* Boulders Seaside) is one you presumably can swim in – which means you presumably can utterly swim with the penguins if there are any spherical!

Penguin at Boulders Beach, South Africa


Chances are you’ll swim at this seashore!

The Cape Peninsula ends at Cape Stage on the Cape of Good Hope. Although it is not really the southernmost degree in Africa, it’s nonetheless pretty cool to go to.

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Cape Stage is certainly a nature reserve that’s half of the larger Desk Mountain Nationwide Park, so it is not uncommon to see wildlife proper right here like baboons (beware – they don’t seem to be good!) and dassies (they form of seem to be large guinea pigs).

The most popular issue to do is to take the Flying Dutchman Funicular (or just hike) to the lighthouse on the excessive of Cape Stage. From proper right here, you get an unbelievable view out over the peninsula and ocean.

Cape Point Lighthouse


Cape Stage Lighthouse

And if you do not want to lease a automotive and drive your self from Cape Metropolis? Chances are you’ll e ebook a full-day Cape Peninsula tour from Cape Town which will embrace all these highlights!

Day 7: Sip wine in Stellenbosch

South Africa is known for its wine, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you already know to spend a day sipping a number of the only.

There’s a wine space shut to Cape Metropolis – Constantia – which will make a wonderful morning or afternoon journey. Nonetheless when you may have your entire day, I like to suggest heading to Stellenbosch. Positioned roughly an hour from Cape Metropolis, this one of many nation’s most interesting (and prettiest) wine areas.

Waterford Estate winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa


Waterford Property

I visited Waterford Property in Stellenbosch, which affords a singular “wine safari” that options a expertise out into the vineyards in a safari vehicle, adopted by wine tastings on a raised wooden platform out within the middle of the vines. I’m not doubtless a lot of a wine drinker, nonetheless this was nonetheless a highlight for me.

Waterford Property is STUNNING, and it was a pleasure to sip wines there within the middle of the vines.

Wine tasting at Waterford Estate

Stellenbosch has tons of wineries to choose from, and chances are you’ll merely spend your total day sipping away. One other widespread wineries on this space embrace Rust en Vrede, Delaire Graff Property, and Tokara.

(Merely don’t drink an extreme quantity of and drive, individuals! Lease a driver for the day, or e ebook a day trip from Cape Town for many who really need to indulge.)

Day 8: To Johannesburg

After per week within the Western Cape, it’s time to head to one different half of South Africa. Many people skip Johannesburg solely, nonetheless I do assume South Africa’s largest metropolis is worth a go to. It’s true that it’s grittier than totally different parts of the nation, nonetheless that doesn’t indicate that there aren’t points to do proper right here.

A must-visit in Johannesburg is the Apartheid Museum (in Soweto), which chronicles the battle South Africans confronted by way of the nation’s a very long time of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination. It isn’t a contented museum, nonetheless it is an vital one to go to when you want to understand South Africa as we converse.

You most likely have time within the night time, ponder a street paintings strolling tour by technique of city, which gives you with a glimpse into every the artsy and rebellious sides of Johannesburg.

Johannesburg street art


Johannesburg street paintings

The place to maintain in Johannesburg: The 54 on Tub is a good different in Johannesburg. (Study opinions proper right here.)

The place to eat in Johannesburg: Head to the bohemian Melville neighborhood for tons of good foodie finds. I ate at Lucky Bean, which serves up tasty South African dishes like springbok and ostrich.

Day 9: Cradle of Humankind

In your second day in Johannesburg, you really might want to e ebook a tour out to Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves, or “the Cradle of Humankind.” This UNESCO World Heritage Website is the place a number of the world’s most significant hominid discoveries have been made.

Start out on the Maropeng buyer coronary heart, after which head to the caves for a guided tour. A go to to the caves is a bit adventurous (there’s some crawling involved), nonetheless how normally do you get the prospect to go to the place the place a number of the earliest individuals on earth lived?

Day 10: Kruger Nationwide Park

Absolutely the highlight of my time in South Africa was occurring safari in Kruger Nationwide Park. So naturally I’m saving the simplest for ultimate on this itinerary.

Lions in Kruger National Park in South Africa

Chances are you’ll fly from Johannesburg to Skukuza on South African Airways, which may get you to Kruger with a lot of time to have the benefit of lunch and a day sport drive in your very first day.

There are tons of lodging selections to choose from in and spherical Kruger, and that’s undoubtedly a spot the place it’s worth splurging on a very good all-inclusive lodge.

I stayed on the Jock Safari Lodge, which is a private concession inside Kruger that I did not ever want to go away. The villas all embrace soaker tubs, exterior day beds overlooking a dry riverbed, and even private plunge swimming swimming pools. And the workers and rangers listed under are all unbelievable.


READ MORE: The Private Sport Lodge Experience in Kruger Nationwide Park

Jock Safari Lodge in Kruger National Park


Our day mattress – you’ll be able to lay down and watch elephants!

After arriving, we had a whereas to uncover the property after which left on our first sport drive within the late afternoon. And we observed the Big 5 (buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion, and leopard) all inside this main safari!

Baby elephants playing in Kruger


Elephant family
Leopard in Kruger National Park



The place to maintain in Kruger: I used to be an infinite fan of the Jock Safari Lodge, and would undoubtedly advocate it. (Study opinions | Guide proper right here!)

The place to eat in Kruger: Everytime you maintain at an all-inclusive lodge, your entire meals will most likely be included.

Day 11: Kruger Nationwide Park

Chances are you’ll want to commit in any case 2-3 nights to Kruger. Although you would be contemplating that one or two sport drives will most likely be enough, the fact is that you will by no means see the equivalent issue twice on a sport drive – which means every single one is thrilling and distinctive!

Giraffe in Kruger National Park

Along with the Big 5, we observed points like lions mating, youngster elephants charging our truck, a momma and new youngster white rhino, wild canines going by way of off with hyenas, and much, way more.

Lion pair in Kruger National Park

Mama and baby white rhino in Kruger

Wild dogs vs. hyenas in Kruger


Wild canines vs. hyenas – super unusual to see!

Taking place safari actually is a bucket-list-worthy train, and even after 4+ sport drives, I wasn’t ready to go away!

Your days will look one factor like this:

  • 5 a.m. wake-up
  • 5:30 a.m. espresso/snacks
  • 6-9 a.m. sport drive (most animals are further full of life within the hours correct spherical daybreak)
  • 9:30 a.m. breakfast
  • Gratifying time / maybe a strolling safari offered
  • Lunch
  • Additional fulfilling/pool time
  • 4-7 p.m. night time sport drive
  • Dinner
  • Bedtime!

Sunrise at Kruger National Park, South Africa


RELATED: 8 Points to Know Sooner than Your First African Safari


Day 12: Kruger + departure

Chances are you’ll provide the probability to squeeze in yet one more morning sport drive in your ultimate day, after which it’s going to be time to fly once more to Johannesburg and on to wherever on the earth home is.

Zebra in Kruger National Park

Extra time in South Africa?

You most likely have a pair additional days in South Africa to play with, you might have considered trying to ponder together with one of many subsequent to your itinerary:

The Blue Apply

This luxury observe, with its polished-wood inside and fancy lounge cars, is a throwback to the heyday of observe journey. The Blue Train travels between Cape Metropolis and Pretoria, taking 1.5 days to traverse principally the dimensions of South Africa.

That’s undoubtedly a luxurious experience, nonetheless the weak South African rand really makes it comparatively moderately priced correct now (successfully, relative to “common” prices!).

Blue Train in South Africa

I used to be lucky enough to expertise the Blue Apply on my journey, and I used to be impressed by the effectivity of the tiny rooms, the service, the meals, and the way in which lovely it was to merely loosen up for a day and a half and watch the countryside slip by outdoor the window.

The Blue Train


The room my dad and I shared – chairs by way of the times, beds at night. So setting pleasant!

Chances are you’ll match this in between Cape Metropolis/Stellenbosch and your time in Johannesburg when you may have a further night to spend.

The Yard Route

You most likely have even MORE time and don’t fancy an expensive observe expertise, ponder driving the Garden Route alongside South Africa’s southern coast. That’s thought-about one among basically probably the most beautiful parts of South Africa, nonetheless does require in any case a pair additional days to actually have the benefit of.

The place to subsequent?

After exploring South Africa, why not head to the seashore for a while? The Seychelles (a dreamy island nation within the Indian Ocean) is simply a transient flight away and pairs up good with South Africa.

Study further: How to Spend 1 Week within the Seychelles


This itinerary clearly wouldn’t embody all of the items there’s to see in South Africa – it largely skips the Yard Route, Durban, the Blyde River Canyon, and the Drakensberg mountains, for example. Nonetheless so as to see all of it, you’d need way more than merely 12 days in South Africa!

This itinerary (for my part, in any case), touches on the simplest parts of South Africa, mixing the pure and the town into one unforgettable journey.


Additional essential info


  • Searching for packing choices for South Africa? Head over to my Africa packing document to see what my must-haves had been.
  • Select up a South Africa travel guide sooner than you go.
  • Don’t go away residence with out a good journey insurance coverage protection plan – because you by no means know what might happen! I like to suggest World Nomads for moderately priced main journey insurance coverage protection.