The Perfect One Week, Two Week, and Three 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 it. 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

south africa travel itinerary one week two week three week

Map of my South Africa Travel Itinerary

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), 10 days (1.5 weeks) 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 might 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.

Read Also:  48 Hours Along The Garden Route And Bloukrans
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.

For a detailed and perfect one day itinerary, click here.

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.

 

Read Also:  Guide to Visiting Cape Town

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

 

Read Also:  The Ultimate One Week and Two Week Travel Itinerary for Uganda

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.

 

10 day itinerary for South Africa


10 days gives a little more time to see South Africa. To be honest, I wouldn’t go all the way to South Africa without at least 10 days. Nevertheless, I know some people just can’t swing the time so anything is better than nothing. This is how I would structure 10 days.

 

Day 1-4: Cape Town

Similar to the 1 week itinerary, I would spend my first 4 days in Cape Town. Make day trips to Cape Point and Boulders beach for penguins and breathtaking views. Then another day would be dedicated to shark diving in Gansbaai, followed by two days of hiking, eating, and drinking enjoying all that Cape Town has to offer.

 

Day 5-7: Wine Country

The next few days can be spent either in the wine country or on a condensed version of the garden route. Personally, I don’t think 3 days does enough justice for the Garden Route, so I’ll opt for enjoying world class wine at dirt cheap prices and views that no other wine region in the world can match. My favorite place to stay in Stellenbosch is Clouds Estate, but make sure to book well in advance if you feel like staying here. There are much cheaper options available as well of course.

Make sure to visit as many wine farms as you can handle because there is so much diversity in the wine, food, and scenery in this part of the country. Read my perfect wine tasting itinerary. 

 

Day 8-10: Johannesburg and Kruger

Same itinerary as the Kruger safari from the one week itinerary.

 

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, located in this natures reserve, is one of the best places to dive in South Africa and also one of the cheapest destinations in the world to become certified.

South Africa is still one of my favorite countries in the world. 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. #southafrica #capetown #gardenroute #stellenbosch #franschhoek
Showing 21 comments
  • Maham
    Reply

    Hi!

    Thank you so much for this post – its great! In terms of the road trip do you think it would be okay to take the baz bus instead? We are two female travellers and I can’t drive so it would be unfair to put that on my friend and hence we would prefer the bus.

    Would love your thoughts on this!

    Thanks,
    Maham

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Maham! Yes the Baz Bus is a great way to see the Garden Route! It leaves daily during the summer and stops at all the hot spots along the garden route. I liked driving myself because it gave me flexibility to stop wherever I wanted to but I can certainly appreciate not being comfortable driving as well. Also, I think you should plan on another day or two extra if you’rel ooking to follow my itinerary and want to hit up all the places along the garden route. Enjoy!

  • Jo
    Reply

    Hi Johnny! thanks for the great tips in your blog- awesome stuff!! I looking to cover cape town, kruger and victoria falls – would you be able to give some advice on how i can structure the trip? Am pretty lost the planning in SA and beyond…
    Am looking to fly in to capetown and out of Johannesburg….

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Jo, I think you got the right idea so far. I would fly into Cape Town and spend a few nights. Fly to Joburg and do the Kruger safari for a few nights. Afterwards, I would fly to either Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe or to Livingstone, in Zambia. Both cities have airports with flights from Joburg and both are at Victoria Falls. I think 2-3 days is plenty enough for victoria falls, but if you want to do what I did (which is go to both towns), then perhaps 4-5 days would be better. My favorite thing to do there was definitely the Devil’s Pool on the Zambia side. Enjoy your trip!

  • Yahaira Millet
    Reply

    Your site is so fantastic and has been great in helping me plan my trip to South Africa! Definitely going to read through your other SA posts!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks! I am glad to have helped. South Africa is still one of my favorite places in the world so I always recommend people to go there if they can spare the time!

  • L
    Reply

    Combing through all your SA post. Awesome stuff, man! I’m planning a trip some time Aug-September. Doing the reverse route from PE to Cape town. A week sounds enough? Thanks a bunch for all the resource

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi there, yes a week will be enough for just the garden route portion in my opinion (without Cape Town). Cape Town deserves a few days on its own!

  • Joan Letendre
    Reply

    Great blog! We are planning a trip to south Africa in June and will be in Kruger for 6 days since that is where the conference is meeting. Sounds as though a trip to the Cape Town and surrounding areas will work well for a final week.

    Are there options to hire a car from Joberg to Kruger if we are not going with a Safari service?

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Joan, what a great place to have a conference! Yes, it is very easy to rent a car from OR Tambo and drive yourself to Kruger and self-drive through the park. The roads in the Kruger are in great condition and there are easy paths to take to have DIY safari experience. Many local South Africans choose this option as it cuts down dramatically on costs. Enjoy!

  • Myles
    Reply

    Hi Johnny- I’m doing a 16 day trip at the Ed of April. My itinerary is pretty similar to yours but as of now I’m tempted to make some additional stops to blyde river canyon and the drakkensberg mountains. I’m a very outdoorsy person and figured I could find some cool day hikes there. Thoughts?

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi myles, that is absolutely a great idea! If you can swing it, can certainly recommend the gods window hike in blyde River canyon. The whole area is great for hikers and the views are breathtaking! It gets cold so be prepared for that!

  • Sabrina
    Reply

    Hi Johnny!

    Great website and great itinerary, looks and sounds like an amazing time. Just wondering how much you ended up spending (minus flight) for this trip? Thinking of going in January and would love to do something similar!

    Thanks:)

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Sabrina!

      Since I lived in South Africa for awhile, I never actually did those exact itineraries. I just listed them out to help people and those are the itineraries I would do given all the time and experience I got while living there.

      All in all, I would say a solid two week trip trip of Cape Town, Garden Route, and Kruger NP will be around R20,000 to R25,000 per person. Obviously costs can be much lower if you decide to stay in hostels but we stayed in little guesthouses, hotels, and airbnbs.

  • Jade
    Reply

    If you are travelling through South Africa and are staying in Cape Town then you should definitely visit Table Mountain and Robben Island. So many interesting and fun things to do. Welgelgen Boutique Hotel is only a few miles from all that Cape Town has to offer and it is located right in the heart of the CBD.

  • sudarshan bhandary
    Reply

    Hi
    I’m planning a 8 day trip in October
    Planning on spending 3 days in Cape Town
    For the rest would you suggest The Garden Route or Kruger?

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi there, you can’t go wrong with either option! The big question is do you want to go on a safari and see some wild animals! If the answer is yes, they you should go to the kruger!

  • T
    Reply

    are you familiar with the zulu nyala safari in the Hluhluwe area of SA?

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Unfortunately not but I do have a friend that stayed there once. I only went to Sodwana Bay which is near for scuba diving. Place looks amazing however!

  • Peter
    Reply

    Good stuff! We enjoyed reading your blog. How did you manage to reach Kruger by 11.30am? Can you connect direct from Johannesburg to Nelspruit within the short time with your luggage? Which airline did you book? We

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Peter, assuming you’re flying from Cape Town to JHB that morning, there are numerous flights that leave in the early morning. You can connect to Nelspruit from OR Tambo but most tour agencies in the Kruger will pick you up from JHB airport and it’s about 4-5 hours to the park from there. 11:30 is probably too early. 3:00pm seems more reasonable which is just in time for a sunset game drive!

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