Best of Cape Town & the Garden Route Tour

A 14 day trip to South Africa 
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Landscapes blur across Cape Town and the Garden Route, where majestic mountain chains tumble into mystical forests and a thousand miles of an empty coastline. Whales breach, lions roar, walking trails connect and city sights are doused in color. Cape Town and the Garden Route's diverse beauty make it one of Africa's most visited regions, the coastal trail showcasing the eclectic appeal of a continent. This 14-day private guided tour reveals the best of it, including safari excursions.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cape Town, V & A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Bo Kaap, District Six Museum, Greenmarket Square, Robben Island, Cape of Good Hope, Hermanus, Wilderness, Knysna, Garden Route, Garden Route National Park, Nature's Valley, Tsitsikamma Forest, Kariega Game Reserve, Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Cape Town – Sunset Over the Atlantic

A South African sunset casts vibrant shades across the city of Cape Town, bands of color lingering above the Atlantic Ocean before the city lights turn on. Lion's Head and Signal Hill are the best places to watch it as the panoramas are 360 degrees. On one side lies Table Mountain, shimmering with the sun's tones as it stands over the city. To another is the Atlantic, where the sun dips into the ocean. And flowing south is the mountain chain, a spine of peaks rising above waves and beaches. Land in Cape Town and you're greeted at the airport by your guide for the short transfer to your five-star hotel at the V & A Waterfront. Rest, relax, and then savor the local knowledge as your guide brings you to a quiet spot between Signal Hill and Lion's Head. The mystical sunset scene is just an introduction to the region's allure. The evening is at your leisure, and your guide can make dinner recommendations, as well as provide transfers.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour

Day 2: Cape Town – Table Mountain and the Colorful Streets of Cape Town

Iconic Table Mountain is the most unmissable of Cape Town experiences, except many visitors do miss it because they save it for the final day. Blankets of clouds randomly engulf the summit, meaning it's best to visit the peak on the first clear day available. A revolving cable car ascends over 1000 meters above sea level, where a 30-minute walking trail connects a series of viewpoints. The Cape extends from here, mountains and city hemmed in by the waves of the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Cape Town's city center is surprisingly compact and a city tour pieces together the colors and history. Bo Kaap's houses are individually colored, each of the former terraced slave houses a different pastel tone. Street markets bring languages and styles from across the continent, a kaleidoscope of hues found beneath late 19th-century colonial buildings. In the suburb of Woodstock, the old industrial buildings have been repurposed and filled with antique stores and funky boutiques. Then at the V & A Waterfront, a food market brings flavors from across the continent. Today's flexible city tour is a combination of walking the historic suburbs and driving through the most colorful of Cape Town areas. You should finish in the mid-afternoon and the rest of the day is at your leisure.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Cape Town – Two Oceans Helicopter Ride and Constantia Wine

A helicopter ride connects the oceans, soaring above Table Mountain from the Atlantic to the Indian. If you've seen glorious postcard aerials of Cape Town and Cape Point, then there's a very good chance they came from a helicopter. Propellers whirl and you rise above the V & A Waterfront, sweeping past the precipitous slopes of Table Mountain on a scenic flight to the southwestern tip of Africa. Admire the Twelve Apostles, rugged peaks that tumble into a mountain spine that narrows as it reaches Africa's tip. Loop around and watch how the water changes color, warmer Indian Ocean waves much bluer than their Atlantic neighbors. Cruise back to Cape Town and the entire flight gives you around 50 minutes in the air, connecting the natural drama of the peninsula.

After the morning thrills comes an afternoon of charm, the guide taking you on a tour of the Constantia wine region. Nestled onto Table Mountain's slopes, this is amongst South Africa's most exclusive wine areas, with a handful of boutique wineries commanding elegant views over the city. You'll sample the produce of two farms before a boutique late lunch and wine tasting at one of South Africa's most celebrated vineyards. The evening is at your leisure.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 4: Cape Town – Robben Island and Evocative History

History whispers from the walls of the Robben Island prison, stark concrete and metal bars remembering Nelson Mandela's 18 years of incarceration. A former inmate makes this history come alive, narrating tales of life on Robben Island for the political prisoners. You can even step into the statesman's cell and feel the dysphoria when the gate slams shut. Return to the mainland by boat and District Six Museum continues the detailed look at the past, recounting the years when apartheid was legally introduced to Cape Town and the city quickly transformed. The afternoon and evening are at your leisure, and the guide is always available to provide transfers to any attractions or restaurants you'd like to visit. With a local guide, there are also plenty of personalized recommendations that can enhance your itinerary dependent on the mood.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Days 5 – 6: Hermanus – Migratory Whales of the Garden Route Coast

The road hugs the coast, rising through mountain chains as waves clash across the panorama. Your destination is Hermanus, a quaint coastal town that's crowded with whales from June to December. Giant southern rights migrate here from Antarctica, mostly mothers looking for a sheltered bay to rear their calves. Males time their arrival, competing for a mate when the calves remain cute and small. Humpbacks also arrive, and some of these giants stay throughout the year. The World Wide Fund for Nature named Hermanus as one of the world's best whale watching destinations, and the marine giants can sometimes be seen from your hotel balcony.

These two days are relaxed, easing you into the serenity of the Garden Route. A coastal walking path roves along the Hermanus cliffs, offering excellent land-based whale watching. Every time a new whale is spotted, the Hermanus town crier blows on a horn made from kelp, alerting everyone's eyes to the bay. You get closer, a boat tour cruising the waters for intimate encounters with the ocean's giants. 15 meters long and up to 150 tons in weight, the Southern right whales are amongst the world's biggest mammal species. Throughout the evenings, there's always a relaxed atmosphere in Hermanus, sunset dropping over the bay and restaurants preserving the sense of tranquility.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Days 7 – 8: Wilderness – Empty Sand and Exotic Forest Trails

Follow the coastline, winding eastwards into the emptiness of the Garden Route. Stretching across the south of Africa, this region is dotted with small fishing villages and quiet beach towns, most of them wrapped around the shore. There's a wonderful sense of space, with long, expressive beaches filling the gaps between hidden destinations. Wilderness epitomizes the Garden Route's appeal, a town with a fitting name that blurs indigenous forest with broad, quiet beaches. Your lodge is tucked into the forested mountains above the small town, gazing over the ocean and surrounded by exotic forest walking trails. Monkeys call from the trees and it's a delightful place to explore at random.

Head down the slopes to the beach, where only a few footprints grace the sand. Dolphins regularly swim past, playful pods on their endless journeys up and down the Garden Route. A river winds inland, and it's possible to follow it in a canoe, paddling to a waterfall that cascades from the forest. The Garden Route connects you with nature, and the ambiance encourages you to move slowly. Take off your watch, settle into South Africa's coastal rhythm, and watch the Indian Ocean waves tumble at sunset. As always, your guide is available to take you on excursions and provide transfers between destinations.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Days 9 – 10: Garden Route National Park – Wild Beaches and a Surreal Coast

Valleys collide in the Garden Route National Park, and you're enveloped in a landscape carved some 60 million years ago. Huge sweeps of indigenous forest cling to the valleys, spouting out above a coastline that's dominated by mysterious cliffs and boulders. Sometimes the roads and trails rise to lookout points, where the ocean extends beyond the horizon to Antarctica. At other times, they disappear into the Tsitsikamma forest, enhancing the mystique of the coast. The Garden Route National Park encompasses the most surreal stretch of South Africa's coast, an outdoor playground that can be as adventurous or relaxing as you'd like. For these two days, you stay in a private cottage in the national park, just a few meters from the rocks and waves of the coast.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Days 11 – 12: Kariega Game Reserve – Luxury Big Game Safari on the Garden Route

Lions roar along the Garden Route. Rhinos march across the savannah and buffalo herds graze on wild bush lands. A handful of private game reserves dot the Garden Route, providing a wonderful first-time safari experience. Kariega is the most luxurious of these, its decadent executive suites overlooking a river in the most remote part of the reserve. Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure there's always a view, including from a luxurious bathtub. Wildlife roams below, and the safari experience never stops. Dine beneath the stars and hear elephants trumpeting from the trees; wake to a zebra herd grazing nearby; lounge on your private wooden deck as a giraffe lopes across the horizon.

Private game reserves are smaller than national parks and Africa's more famous safari destinations. On a first-time safari, this can be an advantage, as the compact reserve can quickly provide encounters with an array of wild mammals. On morning and afternoon game drives, you get close to the giants, including lion prides, endangered white rhinos, frolicking hippos and an abundance of antelopes. A game reserve like Kariega can't support as many animals as famous parks like Kruger. However, it provides a true luxury safari experience and allows you to admire a wide range of animals in their natural habitat. Plus, there are no transport headaches to get there. Kariega is along the coast, on your route towards Port Elizabeth. These two days are all inclusive, with twice-daily safari activities and all meals provided. You can also switch one of the game drives for a horseback or walking safari.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 13: Addo Elephant National Park to Port Elizabeth – Surrounded by Hundreds of Elephants

After Kariega's eclecticism comes Addo's abundance, hundreds of elephants marching together across the bushland. You traverse the park, constantly stopping beside the pachyderms. Baby elephants fight with warthogs; big males roll in the mud, and youngsters play at the waterhole, squirting water over their backs to cool off. Springbok skip around, kudu graze in large herds, and the odd hartebeest hides in the bushes. You won't see the same diversity of animals, but the sight of a 100-strong elephant herd is one of Africa's most enduring images. From Addo, it's less than an hour to Port Elizabeth, where your final night is spent at a five-star hotel overlooking the water.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, safari, breakfast

Day 14: Port Elizabeth – Departure

Port Elizabeth's airport means you don't need to drive back to Cape Town. From here, there are regular direct flights to Cape Town and O. R. Tambo International in Johannesburg, providing an array of options for connecting with your intercontinental departure. You'll be dropped at Port Elizabeth Airport dependent on departure time.

What's Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$5,595
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.