Best of South Africa Tour & Safari: Cape to Kruger

Spring flowers blooming in Capetown, South Africa with Table Mountain in the background
A 12 day trip to South Africa 
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Celebrating the best of South Africa, this handcrafted safari is a mix of old favorites and new destinations. You will discover Table Mountain and Cape Town’s changing colors along with the wild and untouched West Coast. You explore changing trends in the Cape Winelands before flying to the Greater Kruger National Park for six days of incredible big game. Enjoy the complete safari experience here as you will combine a private Sabi Sands safari with an overland adventure.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Two African giraffes standing tall in the foreground of a safari tour jeep
Outside view of the Capetown, South Africa nightlife with Lion's Head Mountain standing tall over all the lights
Group of African rhinos drinking at a waterhole in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Winelands scenery in Capetown, South Africa
Close up of a South African leopard resting in a tree
African elephant showing off its large ears
Landscape of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Trio of intimidating male lions walking down a street in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Aerial view of Capetown, South Africa with the Capetown Stadium, Lion's Head and Table Mountain in view
Capetown coastline with pristine ocean water | South Africa
African leopard sitting perched on a tall dirt hill getting a clear view of the landscape
Mother hippo swimming with her hippo calf in Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cape Town, Cape Winelands, Sabi Sands, Kruger National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Cape Town – Admiring Table Mountain

In 2018, Cape Town was voted the best city in the world by the Telegraph newspaper. That is the sixth year in a row it has taken the award. You will land in Cape Town and will be persuaded easily. Table Mountain stands high above the ocean, and a multicultural atmosphere plays out on the streets. There is an energetic but ultimately relaxed feel, perhaps because nature plays such a prominent role in the city. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to a hotel in Woodstock. This afternoon, your guide will lead you onto Table Mountain with an opportunity to explore the hiking trails around the summit. You will remain on the mountain until sunset before descending and trying out one of the excellent city restaurants.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Cape Town – Changing Sides of the Mother City

Ten years ago, there was a classic visitor route around Cape Town, taking in the V & A Waterfront, Camps Bay, Signal Hill, and the Cape Peninsula. The city’s recent popularity now means that these destinations have become crowded, nor reflective of Cape Town’s changing culture and atmosphere. Today’s guided, Cape Town tour will take you beyond the famous stops, focusing instead on how the city is changing after apartheid. Take an art-based walking tour through District Six, which is where you will see how graffiti is being used to both transform and protest the neighborhood’s regeneration. Learn about this neighborhood’s harrowing history at the District Six Museum before continuing the tour in Woodstock and Observatory.

These two neighborhoods were gray areas during apartheid, so they have always been the most multicultural parts of Cape Town. They have transformed into quirky, creative, and engaging places to be. Now, they are reflective of a modern, changing South Africa. You can explore the trendy, black-owned boutiques, discover the city’s coffee culture, visit one or two groundbreaking breweries, and find that almost every street is dominated by graffiti. If there is time remaining, you will return to the city and visit Zeitz MOCAA, which is Africa’s most important museum of contemporary art. It reframes definitions of contemporary art and asks why the boundaries should be dictated by Europe and the West.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Cape Town – Discovering the Wild Western Coast

The large majority of visitors to Cape Town take a day trip to the Cape Peninsula. Yes, there are wild penguins along the way. However, this road is a traffic jam during peak season, and much of the original charm has been lost. Rather than drive south, you will travel north today instead. The wild West Coast remains far from the tourist trail, although, after today’s private tour, you will be wondering why. You will leave the city to bask on a deserted white beach with a sublime view across the bay to Table Mountain. Further up the road, you will make a stop at a San bushman center where an ancient way of life is being preserved.

An indigenous San will be your guide, leading you in the basics of the nomadic lifestyle and animal tracking. There is an opportunity to search for zebras, using local San clues before you continue north along the West Coast. Spend the afternoon in Darling, which is a farming settlement of whitewashed houses and old-world charm. Here, you will visit a theater that used satire to challenge apartheid along with a vineyard that will provide a nice introduction before tomorrow’s destination. You will have lunch at Darling Brewery, which is a superb community-based project. After the theater and winery, there are various beaches that you can stop at on the way back to Cape Town. These are wonderful places should you need some serenity.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 4: Cape Winelands – Opulence in the Winelands

Over 400 vineyards carpet the mountain slopes in the Cape Winelands. That number has more than doubled in the last 40 years, and with each passing year, there is somewhere new. Local guides stay on top of the changes and check out new venues such as when an old-world winery opens a brand-new tasting room. There is so much choice over where to go and what to drink that you should not have a prescribed itinerary. Instead, your local guide will tailor these two days to your tastes and interests. You will visit wineries that have received recent acclaim for particular wines along with longstanding favorites that continue to impress wine lovers all over the world.

It takes less than an hour to travel between Cape Town and your vineyard accommodation. An extensive wine tasting will provide your welcome to the lodge before the afternoon explores unique flavors. You could visit the vineyard where Pinotage was first cloned, one that specializes in sparkling wine, or a valley where the country’s most awarded Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are produced. Dinner reservations have been made for you, and your guide will provide transfers to a vineyard restaurant that regularly appears in the country’s top ten.

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

Day 5: Cape Winelands – Discovering Stellenbosch and Pinotage

Cape Dutch houses dominate the scene in central Stellenbosch. Their cute rooftops slope towards quiet lanes where cafe terraces give off an air of Europe. Once outside Stellenbosch, you will be surrounded by vines again, taking a drive to vineyards that reflect your tastes. Old-world farmhouses provide a rustic tasting experience while modern tasting rooms offer stunning floor to ceiling views of the vines. At one vineyard, there is craft gin and beer to try as well. At another, you may be invited to taste with the cellar master. Today, you can visit between two and five vineyards depending on your mood.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 6: Sabi Sands – Magnificent Safari Encounters in the Greater Kruger

It is just 30 minutes back to Cape Town International Airport where you will board a direct flight for the Sabi Sands. You will touch down in the wilderness, and a surreal atmosphere will take over. Orchestral trumpets suggest elephants are in the nearby trees, resonant growls may alert you to a resident lion, and baboon troops may battle on a dusty trail, yelping and hooting in an attempt to control territory. Leaving the trees, you may find giraffes and impalas, which are animals that are very common on every Sabi Sands safari. Even when transferring to the camp, you are likely to spot a dozen different mammal species, perhaps even three or four of the famous Big Five.

A safari in the Sabi Sands provides luxury, and your lodge is positioned on the Sabi River, which is a popular gathering place for a wide variety of animals. Hippos are the permanent water residents, and they are joined by everything from buffalos to springboks and even leopards. Settling into a private plunge pool, you can watch the animals from a place of indulgence, probably with a glass of wine or cocktail in hand. Then, on an afternoon game drive, you may complete the finish your list of famous sights. With the first day of safaris, the focus is always on the big and famous animals, and for this, there is nowhere better than the Sabi Sands.

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

Day 7: Sabi Sands – A Walking Safari and Nighttime Game Drive

Footsteps are slow and silent on a walking safari as every sound begins to register. Your senses will tune into the wilderness. There will be an air of exhilaration but also of tension as you share the land with Africa’s giants. An elephant may appear up ahead, and you may hear your own heartbeat as the trackers skillfully lead you away from the path of the herd. Walking slowly, you may pass a zebra herd. Next, you may see buffalo, which are noisy and hairy as they stare straight back at you. With no barrier between you and the animals, it will seem as if time stands still. However, the guides will already know that this is a harem, and encountering them will not be dangerous.

Options for walking safaris are really beginning to open up in the Sabi Sands, and the experience will be entirely different from yesterday’s game drive. Nighttime game drives have been part of the Sabi Sands appeal for decades. A leopard may be spotted, and you will watch it prowl for prey. You can pay close attention to the cat’s neck and how it dips with solemn precision as it stalks its prey. Lions are also a good animal to track on a nighttime drive along with other nocturnal creatures that are almost impossible to encounter during the day such as serval cats and mongooses.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Sabi Sands – Hot Air Ballooning and Exploring the Panorama Route

Hot air ballooning is one of Africa’s most iconic safari experiences. You must be up early today as you will start soaring at dawn. Gradually, the acacia trees will come out of the shadows, and you can track the wildlife down below. A hot air balloon will provide a great vantage point onto moving herds, especially the patterns that are made by buffalos and elephants. You can see swathes of the forest where herds have passed along with giraffes that are clustered around their favorite trees. The hot air balloon will touch down deep in the bush where you will be served brunch with sparkling wine.

From here, you will bump into South Africa’s most beautiful landscape. There are fewer animals on the Panorama Route, but the vistas are remarkable. Weather-carved pinnacles stand high above a forested valley, and ochre hues meet with lush green. The silence will seem to whistle through your ear, and the solitude can provide eternal memories. Occasionally, you do encounter life, and the animal sightings are heightened in comparison to the Sabi Sands. For example, a lone elephant may appear incredibly small and humble against the enormity of Blyde River Canyon, or a springbok herd may be skipping beneath the most bizarre rock formations. You will be back in the Sabi Sands before sundown, so you can venture on another game drive with the option of staying out after dark.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 9 – 11: Kruger National Park – An Overland Adventure Through the Kruger

The Sabi Sands has been South Africa’s most revered safari destination for many decades. It offers you luxury and indulgence in a wilderness environment and is home to the classic image of elephants that drink from plunge pools. Exploring Kruger National Park provides you with a different, more adventurous experience. Over these three days, you will make a long, circular journey through the park, heading north and west to parts of the Kruger that receive a lack of visitors. The accommodation will be mixed with one night in a national park chalet, one night at a small camp in a small private concession, and the final night at a contemporary lodge.

Once inside the national park, there are more restrictions on activities. You can only explore on daytime game drives. This is why combining Kruger with Sabi Sands is advantageous. By now, you will have experienced different perspectives, and now, it is time for adventure. Over a dozen different ecosystems can be found in Kruger National Park, and this journey will explore their contrasts. You will discover the animals that thrive in miombo woodland, the drama that plays out on open grasslands, the strange creatures that lurk around the Lebombo mountains, and the importance of watering holes on a vast, arid landscape.

On a safari, it is always impossible to predict exactly what you will see. Some animals are so abundant that they blur into the Kruger landscape, notably impalas, springboks, buffalos, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, and hyenas. Maybe, you will see spotted hyena as they chase an impala herd. Perhaps, you will see a friendly buffalo herd that is all calm and charm as they graze the grass. However, it can also be a boisterous and belligerent herd.

This three-day journey is also an excellent opportunity to search for some of Africa’s rarer species. Roan and sable antelope may both be a highlight along with the highly endangered African wild dog. White rhinos are plentiful, and five days in the Greater Kruger should provide numerous good sightings. However, black rhinos are very rare, and it will take some patience to search out one of these bashful creatures. The most dramatic action tends to take place at watering holes, which are excellent places to take a picnic and watch the wildlife world unfold.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 12: Nelspruit to Johannesburg – Departure

With the circular journey, you will have spent yesterday evening in the south of Kruger National Park. This will make for a convenient departure from Nelspruit this morning.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$4,795
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.