South Africa is an absolutely stunning place, and it was very hard for us to decide where to go and what to do. We tend to cram too many things and places in one itinerary and on this South Africa Itinerary, we wanted to give ourselves an opportunity to explore Western Cape region mostly.
This South Africa Itinerary is perfect for adventure and wine lovers. It starts and finishes in Cape Town. The first part of the trip is focused on Winelands and the rest exploring the Garden Route, hiking, safari, Cape Town, and the area around Cape Town.
We did not go to Johannesburg or Kruger National Park in this itinerary.
Things to Know About this South Africa Itinerary
This South Africa itinerary starts and ends in Cape Town. After arrival in Cape Town we headed to Stellenbosch right away, then the Garden Route and Safari, and saved the last few days of the trip for exploring Cape Town and its surrounding area.
Renting a car is a must for this itinerary. The roads in Western Cape are in really good condition and driving is pretty easy once you get used to driving on “the wrong” side of the road.
Do not be surprised by random police checkpoints. They ask for your driver’s license, ask a few questions, and usually just let you pass. We did not encounter any issues.
The speeding cameras are real, and they will send you a ticket home, speaking from experience here.
Load shedding is a part of everyday life in South Africa. Make sure you download the EskomSePush app to know the load-shedding status in your area.
South Africa Itinerary
- Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town
- Day 2&3: Explore Stellenbosch Wineries
- Day 4: Drive to Garden Route
- Day 5: Knysna Elephant Park & Robberg Nature Reserve
- Day 6: Kayaking & Lilo in Tsitsikamma National Park
- Day 7: Wilderness National Park
- Day 8&9: Gondwana Private Game Reserve
- Day 10: Drive to Cape Town
- Day 11: Cape Point
- Day 12: Hike Table Mountain and Lion’s Head
- Day 13: Hermanus
- Day 14 Chapman’s Peak & Fly Out
- Looking for more than two weeks in South Africa
- The best time to Visit South Africa
Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town
We had a direct flight from Atlanta to Cape Town. After 16 hours on the plane, we rented a car in Cape Town and headed to Stellenbosch. We will be spending the next two days here.
By the time we made it to Stellenbosch, it was already late, and we only had time for dinner at the delicious little bistro – Basic Bistro.
During our time in Stellenbosch we stayed at MolenVliet Vineyards.
Day 2&3: Explore Stellenbosch Wineries
Stellenbosch is most popular wine region in South Africa and rightly so. The area is beautiful, and it produces delicious Cabernet-based wines. It is also the home of South Africa’s own creation, Pinotage grape. Pinotage, a red wine grape, was cultivated in 1925 as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (previously known as Hermitage).
Visits to the winery you can do on your own, hire a driver or get on a tour. We were not interested in the most popular places that tours normally take you to, so for the first day we hired a driver who took us to a less known wineries and the next day we did the same thing on our own. For some wineries we make reservations for others we just walked in.
A lot of wineries offer lunch or snacks with the tasting for additional cost and the grounds of all the wineries we visited were just stunning.
The wineries we visited are below:
- Remhoogte Wine Estate
- Boschkloof Wines
- Jordan Wine Estate
- Super Single Vineyards
- Fairview Wine and Cheese
- Muratie Wine Estate
- Rainbow’s End
For more details check out our post Best Small Wineries to Visit in Stellenbosch.
The places we are at are Fat Butcher – high-end steaks and a great selection of wine. My lamb gnocchi was excellent. And Man’oushe – Lebanese style food. Be aware portions are massive and delicious.
Day 4: Drive to Garden Route
For today most of the daylight today will be spent driving from Stellenbosch to Plettenberg Bay. We stayed at Plettenberg Bay while exploring the Garden Route.
It is a boring 6-hour drive until you reach Mossel Bay then the views open up and get much better.
We were already out of sunlight by the time we made it to Plett Bay. We just went out for a quick dinner at Fat Fish which was very delicious.
Day 5: Knysna Elephant Park & Robberg Nature Reserve
This was my favorite day during our trip. Both Knysna Elephant Park and Robberg Nature Reserve were great, not-to-miss experiences on the Garden Route.
Knysna Elephant Park is a sanctuary for orphaned elephants. Currently, they have 5 elephants living there with Sally as the herd matriarch. Sally was brought from the Kruger National Park and was born with only one tusk. The tour guide shared with us that because elephants with big tusks have been poached for so long tuskless elephants survived poaching in greater numbers passing down their mutated genes to the next generation. This has led both to an increase in female tuskless elephants and a decrease in male elephants overall.
One of the things to do at the Knysna Elephant Park is to feed elephants’ fruits and vegetables – the fruit & veggie bucket can be purchased while you are buying your entrance tickets. You just hold your hand out flat and they gently pick it up with their trunk. It was surreal.
After the feeding, you get to walk amongst the elephants as they gently move from spot to spot. At the elephant park, you can have lunch before heading out to Robberg Nature Reserve. The tour leaves every 30 minutes so you really don’t have to plan much for this.
Robberg Nature Reserve is a short 20-minute drive from the Knysna Elephant Park. The Point Circuit inside of the nature reserve turned out to be one of our favorite hikes of all time. The terrain keeps you guessing, and the views of endless beauty are all around you.
For more details about Robberg Nature Reserve check out our post How to Visit Robberg Nature Reserve and Hike the Point Circuit.
We completed our day with a delicious dinner at Nguni Restaurant. Springbuck was excellent.
Day 6: Kayaking & Lilo in Tsitsikamma National Park
When I first saw pictures of Storms River mouth in Tsitsikamma National Park, I could not believe my eyes. All I could think of this is The Narrows, but you can kayak instead of hike.
Tsitsikamma National Park is amazing, even though our main objective was to go on kayaking and lilo adventure, there are suspension bridges, hiking trails, snorkeling and boat excursions here that can easily turn into multi-day stays.
The park does offer accommodation as well as campsites.
Coming to Tsitsikamma National Park is also a good time to stop and see the Bloukrans Bridge. Beautiful architectural marvel as well as the highest bungee jumping spot in the world.
We indulged in some delicious food at Barrington’s for dinner.
Day 7: Wilderness National Park
We started this day early. The plan was to spend the morning in Wilderness National Park and the afternoon exploring Knysna.
We did Ebb and Flow Waterfall via Giant King Fisher hike which was pretty easy, but it rained the night before, and the trail was muddy and very slippery. You have to use a pontoon boat to cross the river at one point of the hike, which was very exciting and different than any other hike we ever did.
On the way back we stopped at Knysna for some oysters – a decision we will regret later as we both got sick from them – and to visit Knysna Gin Distillery.
Knysna Gin Distillery is a small family-owned distillery/brewery with hand-crafted cocktails and gin tasting. A great little place worth a visit and support.
We finished our evening and the tour of Garden Route with the meal at Nineteen 89. Great spot for a good, hearty salad meal.
Day 8&9: Gondwana Private Game Reserve
This is why most people come to South Africa, to go on a safari and get immersed in Africa’s abundant wildlife. Gondwana Private Game Reserve is only two hours away from Plettenberg, but it feels like it is a world of its own when you are there.
The grounds are stunning at the reserve and the one-night itinerary covers all your meals and two safari drives. This game reserve is home to Africa’s big five – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos & Cape Buffalo, plus giraffes, hippos, cheetahs, impalas, zebras, eland, wildebeest and many more species.
We have a detailed post about our experience at Gondwana Game Reserve that you should read if interested in visiting.
Day 10: Drive to Cape Town
After the morning safari drive and breakfast, it is time to check out and head to Cape Town. This is over a 4-hour drive. If interested, you can stop and check out Sijnn Wines (suggested by one of the winemakers in Stellenbosch) for a light meal and a little bit of wine.
Another stop to make during this drive is in Hermanus. However, we have that as a day adventure from Cape Town on Day 13 😊
Once again by the time you make it to Cape Town, the daylight will be gone.
We stayed at AirBnB with a view of Table Mountain during our time in Cape Town. Our food poisoning was in full swing by now and we did not have any dinner/meals for the next couple of days.
Suggested things to do:
Explore V&A Waterfront and stay for dinner
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Drop into a historic Bo-Kaap Neighborhood
TIP: All the activities in and around Cape Town should be scheduled around the weather. It truly is unpredictable in Cape Town. One minute it may be nice and sunny and thirty minutes later Table Mountain will be covered in clouds. We lucked out with one clear day when we hiked up.
Day 11: Cape Point
The drive to Cape Point is an adventure in itself. You will be in awe of all the views along the way. On the way to Cape Point make a pit stop at Boulder Beach to see African Penguins, freely roaming and nesting on the beach.
This is a popular destination so expect crowds.
Continuing on from Boulder Beach, you can also stop at the Miller’s Point Tidal Pools if interested in just checking them out or even swimming and snorkeling.
From road M4 there will be a left turn to Cape of Good Hope Drive, the only road inside of the Cape of Good Hope. Once in the park, you can do a quick hike to Cape Point (The Lighthouse) or Cape of Good Hope (the most Southwestern point) or both or take a Flying Dutchman to Cape Point and hike to Cape of Good Hope. The choice is yours.
On the way back from Cape of Good Hope you can stop at the Ostrich Farm for a tour and closer to Cape Town at Muizenberg Beach to see the colorful beach huts or even do some surfing.
We had dinner at Pot Luck Club, a trendy restaurant in the Woodstock neighborhood.
Day 12: Hike Table Mountain and Lion’s Head
Table Mountain and Lion’s Head are iconic landmarks of Cape Town’s magnificent skyline. And hiking to the top of one or both of them is one of the must-do things in Cape Town.
There are many different ways to get to the top of Table Mountain, many different hiking trails or taking the cable car. We hiked up Platteklip George trail and took the cable car down. The hike is brutal! Also, pretty busy with inexperienced hikers.
After Table Mountain, if you still have strength and energy, you can hike up the Lion’s Head for the sunset. If not, you can just drive up to Signal Hill and enjoy the sunset from there. It is also a prime location for paragliding 😊
Dinner at one of the restaurants at V&A Waterford, or an off-the-beaten-path ramen place – Bodega Ramen.
Day 13: Hermanus
Hermanus is a picturesque coastal town perfect for whale watching – from Winter to Spring. Or just admiring the natural beauty. It is also known for its beaches.
Only an hour and a half away from Cape Town, it is a perfect escape from city life.
Hermanus is also a wine region well-known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as its crisp Sauvignon Blanc. There are plenty of tours from the town if you don’t want to explore on your own.
Enjoy a snack or dinner at one of the restaurants right by the water.
Day 14 Chapman’s Peak & Fly Out
Usually, most flights back to the States leave late in the evening, which gives you almost another full day to explore. This is a perfect day to soak in some more South African coastal beauty and driving to Chapman’s Peak, known as Chappies, is a great way to do that.
Stop at Mariner’s Wharf Harbor Front Emporium for fish and chips before flying out.
Looking for more than two weeks in South Africa
Two weeks isn’t nearly enough to explore all of South Africa. If you are looking for more places to visit I would recommend the coastal city of Durban, which has heavy Indian influence and grate Indian food and spice markets, Johannesburg – the main hub to getting to Krueger National Park, hiking in Drakensberg Mountains.
You will not get bored in South Africa easily.
The best time to Visit South Africa
South Africa is a year-long destination. The summer in South Africa is Dec – Feb and that is when the busiest season is. We visited in April and had great weather and hardly any tourists.
We experienced sunny, overcast, and light rain here and there, but it was never cold or too windy. The downside of April was that the sun goes down by 6:30 pm which cuts down on exploring time. But the crowds were minimal.
Other helpful posts…
Visit to an African Safari at Gondwana Private Game Reserve
Top Things to Do on the Garden Route
How to Visit Robberg Nature Reserve
Best Small Wineries in Stellenbosch
Kayaking & Lilo Adventure in Tsitsikamma National Park