The Perfect Two Week Travel Itinerary For South Africa

South Africa is still one of my favorite countries in the world. Sure, I lived there for a few years, but I also traveled extensively through the country and got to see so much of the country. I always get questions on how I should spend a week, two days, two weeks, or even three weeks in the Rainbow Nation. There is no definitive answer because there is SO MUCH to see in this country and everyone has different interests. Nevertheless, two weeks is enough to scrape the surface of what the country has to offer and this would be my perfect itinerary.

 

Where I went

In total, this itinerary is for anyone that has 14-16 days to spend in South Africa. At the end of this post, I have also included how I would craft a trip with around 7 days (1 week) and 21+ days (3 weeks+)!

  • Johannesburg
  • Kruger National Park
  • Garden Route
    • Port Elizabeth
    • Plettenberg Bay
    • Knsyna
    • Outdshoorn
    • Hermanus
  • Cape Town
  • Wine Country (Stellenbosch/Franschhoek)

If these places ring a bell and sound like the places you want to visit, this is the perfect itinerary for you! Also note that South Africa is far from just about everywhere so budget the necessary time get there and home.

 

Detailed Posts

 

Full Itinerary


The itinerary starts in Cape Town, and ends in Johannesburg. I’d recommend to book flights arriving into Cape Town, and flying out of Johannesburg. This itinerary, of course, can be done the opposite way around as well. If you don’t want to do fly home from a different airport, there are plenty of cheap airlines that fly regularly between the two cities like Mango Airlines, Kulula, and FlySAFair, you’ll just need to budget the time accordingly.

 

Day 1-4: Discover Cape Town


 

The Cape is South Africa’s gift to the world – Nelson Mandela

 

The trip starts in Cape Town, or what I like to call the world’s most naturally beautiful city. The Mother City, as it is affectionately referred to in South Africa, is South Africa’s most scenic and most popular city. It’s not difficult to see why. Cape Town is sandwiched between a dramatic mountain range famous for Table Mountain, and the southern Atlantic ocean with a plethora of white sandy beaches. There are also world class restaurants in this city serving cuisine from all over the world, bars, concerts, museums, and so much more. Take the ferry to Robben Island and tour the former prison that Nelson Mandela called home for 27 years.

waterfront table mountain

Beautiful Cape Town waterfront overlooking Table Mountain in the distance

There is some incredible hiking to be done in Cape Town. Table Mountain and Lions Head are an absolute must. There is a cable car that goes to the top of Table Mountain, but Lions Head can only be hiked. My favorite place in the whole country but be at the top of Lions Head during sunset. The views of the ocean, the city, and Table Mountain next to it is perhaps one of the reasons Cape Town is the one place I’d move to in a heartbeat (if I could).

Maidens cove Cape Town

Beautiful beach views overlooking Camps Bay, also one of the most expensive neighborhoods in South Africa

Just outside of town is perhaps one of the most scenic drives in the country, Chapman’s Peak. The drive is along the edge of a windy mountain, with the most beautiful ocean views on one side. Penguins can also be seen at Boulders Beach along the way. This all culminates into southern tip of the continent at Cape Point, also known as the Cape of Good Hope. This is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans converge, and it makes for some absolutely breathtaking views.

Cape Point

Cape Point

 

Day 4-6: Wine Taste Stellenbosch or Franschhoek


East of Cape Town is South Africa’s famous wine region. It’s not as famous as places like Italy, France, or Napa Valley, which is a absolute travesty and a complete blessing. It’s a blessing because the crowds aren’t as chaotic, and prices are extremely reasonable for wine tasting. The views and landscape in Cape Town’s wine region is absolutely unparalleled.

Delaire Graff stellenbosch

Views from Delaire Graff in Stellenbosch in the winter

Stellenbosch makes Napa Valley look like someone’s back yard. That isn’t to say California’s wine region isn’t a nice place, it’s just my way of saying that South Africa’s wine region is that much more beautiful. Let’s also not forget that a typical wine tasting in South Africa costs R30-40, whereas a similar styled wine tasting in a place like Napa Valley is $25+ (10x the price!).

Bilton Wine estate

Chocolate and Wine, a winning combo at Bilton Wine Estate

There are numerous wine regions in South Africa, like Constantia, Stellensbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Durbanville etc. but the easiest and my favorite area is Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Make sure to drive to different wine farms to sample the various styles of wine making in South Africa. The wine farms also have some of the best restaurants in the country so make sure to plan ahead of time where you’d like to have lunch.

Dieu Donne franschhoek

Sunset at Dieu Donne in Franschhoek. Could anyone get tired of this?

Some of my favorites are Delaire Graff, Morgenster, Vergelegen, Dieu Donne, Waterkloof, Jordan.

Sunset Franschhoek

A stunning sunset in Franschhoek was taking place as we were driving through. Had to stop to take a few pictures of it

Tokara Wine

Tasting Room in Tokara Wine estate. Free tastings here!

 

 

Day 6-12: Road trip on the Garden Route – Part 1


This might be my favorite drive in the world. The Garden Route of South Africa is famous for its incredible scenery, charming coastal towns, and wildlife. There’s so much to do and see along the Garden Route, I actually wrote about it in three separate posts. The Garden Route is the stretch of coastline in the Western Cape stretching from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. It is the ultimate road trip in my opinion and would be my first choice of road trips to repeat.

Wildeness Beach South AFrica

Wilderness beach in all its glory.

Obviously one could spend far longer than 6 days driving along the Garden Route but for a two week itinerary of all of South Africa, this will be enough to see the main highlights.

 

Hermanus – 1 night

Starting from wine country, I went great white shark diving early in the morning. These cage dives usually start at 8-9am and last until noon. From Gansbaai, we spent the rest of the walking around Hermanus, a quaint ocean side town famous for its whales. When in season, between May and Nov, right whales regularly frequent the shores of this town. It’s also home to spectacular beaches and some of the best kite surfing in the world.

Hermanus Sunset

Sunset over Hermanus town.

 

Oudtshoorn – 1 night

From Hermanus, we left early in the morning to the town of Oudtshoorn, stopping in Swellendam for lunch. Outdshoorn is a town in the Karoo region of South Africa. The Karoo is a huge swath of semi-desert like land in South Africa’s heartlan. It is a place of immense spaces, wide-angle horizons, craggy mountain ranges, conical hills, an ancient inland seabed, and a sky so big that at night it feels like you can touch the stars.

Ostrich farm Oudtshoorn

Group of ostriches waiting to be ridden.

It’s totally different than the scenery along the coast and gives you a small flavor of the different terrains of South Africa. Oudtshoorn is known for the Cango Caves and its plethora of ostrich farms. Wild and farmed ostrich roam here so make sure to try some in this town. One night is enough here.

Cango Caves

No matter the tour type, standard or adventure, both will let you admire the beauty of the caves.

 

Knysna and Plettenberg Bay – 3 nights

The next day begins with a drive back towards the coast. Stop in the town of Wilderness for stunning panoramic ocean views, and lunch before driving towards Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Because of the limited time, there’s really only enough time to stay in one place. I’ve stayed in both towns and they are both amazing places. If I had to do it again, I would stay in Plettenberg Bay and take a visit to Knysna.

Knysna Heads

Knysna Lagoon in the background.

Plettenberg Bay is more chilled, and has plenty of nice beaches. Knysna is slightly more busy (but nothing on the Garden Route is really that busy), and has amazing lookout points of the surrounding area. Both towns have world class restaurants so you really can’t go wrong in each place.

Natures Valley beach plettenerg bay

Natures Valley Beach in Plettenberg Bay

Make sure to visit the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary, as well as take a day hike to the Robberg Peninsula.Robberg Mountains PLetenberg

seal snorkeling plettenberg bay

Snorkeling with hundreds of seals in Plettenberg Bay. One of the many activities to do here

Knysna elephant sanctuary

Trainers are always close by but let’s be honest, if the Elephant wanted to do something to you, no trainer on Earth could stop it!

 

Port Elizabeth – 1 night

Leave Knysna/Plettenberg early the next day and stop at the infamous Bloukrans bridge for some bungy jumping. This isn’t just any old bungy jump, it’s the highest bungy bridge in the world at 220m (710ft) high. You can read all about my experience here. If bungy jumping is just not for you, there’s a bar at the edge of the cliff where you have perfect views to watch people jump to their deaths.

Bloukrans bridge south africa bungy

Bloukrans Bridge in the background

From Bloukrans, make a stop in the Tsitsikama National Park and take a walk from the famous suspension bridge that allows you stunning views of the area.

Bloukrans South Africa

Jumping to my death in Bloukrans

From here, drive to Port Elizabeth

 

Day 13-15: Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg to Kruger NP


Port Elizabeth marks the end of the Garden Route. Drop off the rental car here and take an early morning flight (as early as possible) to Johannesburg. We took the 6:30am flight on British Airways, and arrived in Johannesburg just after 8am. Upon landing, have your safari company PICK YOU UP from the airport. There’s no reason to go into Johannesburg as it is a 5 hour drive to the Kruger National Park. We made it in time for an afternoon game drive.

 

3 days and 2 nights in Kruger National Park

The Kruger is South Africa’s largest and most popular game reserve. It’s home to all the wild animals you’ve ever had on your bucket list, and is a great place to see the big 5 (lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant, and leopard). We spent a total of three days and two nights in the Kruger National Park. This gave us 1 afternoon game drive on the first day, 1 whole day of game drives for the second day, and 1 morning game drive on the third day. I felt like this was enough as you’re doing nothing except sitting in the back of a truck.

Kruger safari

And of course, what trip to Africa would be complete without a safari of some sort?

The Kruger is also one of the few game parks in Africa that allows you to self drive. Although we chose to go with a Safari company that arranged everything, it’s super easy to rent a car from the airport and drive out yourself and do your own game drives. This is definitely the option I would choose if I were to do it again.

kruger safari warthog

Warthogs were found in both Kruger and the campsite

 

Last day in Johannesburg

Johannesburg is an underrated city that the media paints in an unflattering light. However, I called this place home for almost two years! It is a great place to live and to work, but it is not the best place to spend your time as a tourist. There aren’t many must see sights here. A day trip to Soweto and the Apartheid museum, followed by a visit to the Carnivore restaurant to sample all different types of game meats is probably enough for most people.

Orlando Towers Soweto

Visiting the Orlando Towers in Soweto is ALWAYS a good time

 

Day by Day breakdown


Day 1: Land in Cape Town, pick up rental car and explore Cape Town
Day 2: Explore Cape Town, hike Lions Head
Day 3: Cable Car up Table Mountain, drive to Cape Point in afternoon
Day 4: Explore Stellenbosch
Day 5: Stellenbosch/Franschhoek
Day 6: Cage diving with great whites, explore Hermanus
Day 7: Drive to Oudtshoorn, visit ostrich farm at night
Day 8: Morning visit to Cango Caves, drive to Plettenberg/Knysna
Day 9: Plettenberg/Knysna
Day 10: Plettenberg/Knysna
Day 11: Bloukrans, Tsitsikama, Port Elizabeth
Day 12: Fly to Johannesburg in morning, Kruger NP
Day 13: Kruger NP
Day 14: Kruger NP in morning, end in Johannesburg
Day 15: Early morning flight home

 

One week itinerary for South Africa


How about if you only had ONE week in South Africa? This is tough. The country deserves a lot more than 1 week but nevertheless, this is how I would structure a 1 week trip. Let’s assume you have all 7 days in South Africa without worrying about flights. If this is your first trip to Africa and you want to go on the iconic safari, I would focus my visit on Cape Town and the Kruger.

 

Day 1-4: Cape Town

Spend your first 4 days in Cape Town and the surrounding regions. Instead of spending two nights in the wine country, make it a day trip by starting early in the morning as soon as the wine farms open (usually around 9am). Spend another day visiting Cape Point and seeing Cape Town’s sights. Time permitting, take a day trip  to the Great White cage diving in Gansbaai.

 

Day 5-7: Johannesburg and Kruger

Take an early morning flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Have your safari operator pick you up from the airport and do the 3 day/2 night Kruger National Park tour mentioned above. The safari tour will end on the last day after a morning game drive. Immediately drive back to OR Tambo International airport after the game drive and fly home that night. Make sure to schedule your flight later in the evening as it will take ~5 hours to drive from the Kruger to Johannesburg.

 

Three week South Africa itinerary


If you’re lucky enough to have three weeks, there is so much more to explore in South Africa. As per the two week itinerary, I would add the following:

  • Stay an extra night in Cape Town
  • Spend extra day in Hermanus
  • Instead of flying to Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth, continue driving on the N2 along South Africa’s wild cost towards Durban
  • (Optional but recommended): Stay at a private game reserve in the Kwazulu-Natal province around Durban instead of going to the Kruger

 

South Africa’s Wild Coast

The area between Port Elizabeth and Durban is called the Wild Coast. This area receives less tourists than the Garden Route, and is far less developed than the Garden Route towns. This area, also known as the Transkei, is home to the Xhosa people (which you’ll never pronounce right). It functioned as its own independent state during Apartheid and you can see that the infrastructure here is vastly undeveloped compared to their Afrikaner neighbors in the Western Cape. It’s totally a safe place to travel. Nevertheless, the contrast between natural and urban scenery can be noticed here.

Wild coast south africa

South Africa Wild Coast

For any scuba divers, make sure to stop and have a few dives at Aliwal Shoal. This dive site, while not much to look at in terms of corals, is home to numerous species of sharks. You can easily be diving with dozens of different sharks swimming around you.

In addition, even further up from Durban is the beautiful St. Lucia Wetland park which is home to beautiful beaches, dunes, swamplands, and diving. Sodwana Bay is one of the best places to dive in South Africa, and also one of the cheapest destinations in the world to become certified.

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