South Africa Tour: Cape Town, Winelands, Garden Route & Addo Elephant Park

A 11 day trip to South Africa 

The beauty of South Africa sprouts from its craggy mountains, supple vines, golden savannah, and icy southern oceans. Wine trickles out of the bottles. Whales breach the water. Lions pounce in the bush and elephants parade through the trees. Stunning South Africa displays its beauty in its land, its history, and its wildlife, springing forth from the continent along the illustrious Garden Route. Travel the route and see the beauty that is the Garden Route in the wonder that is South Africa.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cape Town, Table Mountain, Cape Point (Cape Of Good Hope), Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Garden Route, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Port Elizabeth, Addo Elephant National Park.

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 – Start of the Garden

Begin your tour of the Garden Route arriving in Cape Town, South Africa and transferring to your accommodation. Cape Town is immediately captivating. The ocean sits on one side and mountains on the other enclose the city. Table Mountain stands tall above the streets, the buildings climb the foothill. The mountain’s clipped top is flat in the sky as clouds often roll in and cover the mountaintop in a rumbling white. The ocean glistens in the sunlight and shines along the boardwalk of the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. Fresh seafood emanates from the waterfront restaurants. People’s laughter fills the air as the sun begins to set and the ambiance of the day turns into a pleasant, relaxed evening along the lamp-lit walkway of the waterfront.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2 – Exploring the Garden’s Beginnings

With a ticket to explore the fantastic sites of Cape Town, spend the day wandering through the best that the beginning of the Garden Route shows. Spend time visiting the Castle of Good Hope, a 17th century fort built by the Dutch and originally located along the shoreline. It is the best-preserved example of a Dutch East India Company fort; the five-pointed fortress highlights the smooth stone construction of its original edifice. The historical significance remains, as do the reminders of the colonial past, as soldiers are still present marching along the inner corridors safeguarding the fortress.

Continue your exploration of Cape Town’s highlights with a visit to Camps Bay. The beautiful white sand of the beach stretches along the emerald water. Homes linger along the foothills and down the beach. The main road separates the sand from the world-class restaurants that line the road. Crisp wine pours around the tables. The sun pulses along the water. The smell of suntan lotion and fresh pineapple fill the warm afternoon sky. Camps Bay is known not only for its beautiful beaches, but for the famous rock stars and models that are known to indulge in the generous sun and soft, warm sand.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast, tour

Day 3 – Taste the Gardens

Today you will venture to the lush winelands of the Western Cape province. Travel over the mountain range to the stunning Stellenbosch region where the vines blanket the valley and extend to the foothills of the mountains. The Amani Vineyard’s vines produce beautiful flavors due to the breeze that comes in from False Bay in the South and the Atlantic to the West making it one of the cooler regions in the area. Indulge in a taste of the Amani Kamili 2010; it is a fusion of Chardonnay and Viognier grapes highlighting peach skin and fused with lime and coriander.

With a full day of award-winning, delicious wine at your fingertips there are also alternative adventures to enjoy. Visit the Cheetah Outreach located on the Spier Estate. The outreach is an education and community-based program meant to raise awareness of the plight of the cheetah along with being a campaign for its survival. The cheetahs are raised from birth, their fur fuzzy atop their heads as cubs, their spots becoming more prevalent and the “tear marks,” the lines that decorate their faces, growing bolder as the cubs mature. The Cheetah Outreach works with many animals to help preserve those that are endangered or that have been injured by poaching; however, one of the many highlights of the outreach program is the chance to feed and meet the cheetahs personally. There are a number of cheetahs that have become docile and habituated. Their fur is soft to the touch, their legs thin and long. When the land is open and the visitors are at a safe distance you can watch the cheetah gain top speed, dust sprouting from beneath their paws as they sprint along the open field.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation, breakfast

Day 4 – Another Day of the Garden’s Beginning

Whether you spend the day exploring more of Cape Town’s illustrious and wondrous sites, or travel the city’s surrounding beauties, today you can discover as much or as little of the Western Cape Province as you would like. Travel along the inviting coastline and visit the stunning beach of Muizenberg. The water is incredibly clear with inviting surf and warm sand. The breeze blows in the salty air. Surfers ride the waves and sunbathers line the beach. Enjoy a coffee at Knead Bakery, its fresh, rich smell mixing with the aroma of fresh bread and sweet muffins. The catwalk at Muizenberg carries you over ponds and sand, above the water where a beautiful view of the colorful changing areas line the white sand and stand next to the gentle sea.

Muiznberg is on the way to the fun and beautiful Boulders Bay where African penguins line the shore. They bray like donkeys and nest on the warm sand. They enjoy flying through the cold water and diving along the waves. The boardwalk takes you down to their nesting ground where they waddle, swim, dry, and molt.  Their dark feathers soak up the sunlight. The fact that penguins are living along the African shore is enough to make anyone’s mouth drop; however, these penguins are not just popular because they reside in Africa; these penguins are a joy to see because they thrive here.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation, breakfast

Day 5 – Stepping Out Into the Garden (Route)

Today you depart Cape Town and begin your journey along the Garden Route. Make your way along the beautiful coast between Gordon’s Bay and Hermanus. Hermanus is known as the best place in the world to see whales from the shore. During the proper season you can hear the Hermanus Whale Crier alert people to the location of the whales. The Whale Crier will blow on a kelp horn along the cliff and point people in the direction of the whales. A puff of spray near the shore, the sound of a great breath expelled from giant lungs, the Southern right whale cruises slowly offshore. The colossal body jumps from the water, a surge of tremendous energy, and crashes down with a decisive boom.

After the awesome whale spotting you will continue on to Mossel Bay known for many things, the oldest post office in Africa among them. Whether it is shark cage diving you desire or a little bit more of South African history, Mossel Bay offers both. A milkwood tree sits near the Dias Museum Complex and overlooks the vista of the bay. In the 16th century Pedro de Ataide left a letter under the large milkwood. Joao da Nova found the letter en route to India, thus the continent’s first post office was born under the tree. From Portugal’s explorer past to South Africa’s budding present, Mossel Bay is more than just a stop en route, but also a luxurious space to stay.

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

Day 6 – Over and Under

Travel over the rugged terrain of the Outeniqua Mountains and make your way to the Little Karoo, an intermountain plateau. The air is crisp and fresh. The sun keeps the day warm and pleasant. Wise irrigation allows for the production of alfalfa. Sheep and goats produce high-quality wool and the valleys grow grains, apricots, and peaches. Spend part of the day on an ostrich farm and watch the large flightless birds graze on the sizeable ranch. Their feathers are puffed out, their necks long and thin, their tail feathers a white plume. The sound of laughter and applause lingers around the ranch. For those feeling adventurous, hop on the back of the ostrich and race around the corral, the jerky ride humming through your bones, the laughter continuing as the warm sun fills the sky.

Before settling into your accommodation at the luxurious La Plume Guest House, visit the Cango Caves for an incredible subterranean experience. The cave is cool and damp. The stalactites dangle from the cave ceiling and look like they have been shaped from melted earth. The stalagmites spring from the floor. Together they look as though they are creating a spiraled city from the earth and make spectacular halls of limestone. As the cave leads you back out to the plateau, you will make your way to the La Plume Guest House and indulge in the homey comforts, tasty wine, and silly meerkats for which the hotel is known.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast, dinner

Day 7 – Into the Garden (Route)

After a delicious breakfast filled with the sweet smell of fresh pineapple and rich African coffee, you will visit the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Valley of Ancients. The ranch acts as a breeding ground for endangered species of all types, not just African, though most of the ranch’s inhabitants are of African genus. It is a family fun location where you can interact with animals of the cute and fuzzy or of the not-so cute and fuzzy variety. Cuddle cheetah cubs, snuggle white tigers, or cage dive into the crocodile lagoon; be sure to keep your hands and arms inside the cage at all times. Pygmy hippos to lemurs, the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Valley of Ancients is not only a fun adventure but is filled with wildlife’s beauty.

Continue on to Knysna where you will be welcomed in by the “Heads,” two promontories that line the outer walls of the Knysna lagoon.  The water is opal blue and calm. The breeze brushes through the grassy hills. Dolphins sometimes come in through the sliver of an opening and play in the lagoon’s shallow waters. Full of natural wonder, tasty oysters, fabulous golf courses, and a temperate climate, Knysna is a stunning location to sit, relax, and watch the water lap along the shore.

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

Day 8 – Garden Route Experience

Swim with seals, walk with large cats as the sun rises over the horizon, horseback ride along the golden prairies, kayak along the still waters of the bay; in the early morning hours anything is possible in the far reaches of Plettenberg Bay. Travel along the boardwalk of the Birds of Eden safari to see the gorgeous colors and experience the collection of life that flies through the sky. The Green turaco has a Mohawk of vibrant green plumage with a circle of red around its eyes. They chirp in the canopy and it echoes in the leaves. The smell of fresh-bloomed flowers pulses through the boardwalk. The Blue crane is known for being the only crane without the color red decorating its body. Instead of red to signify danger to its predators, the Blue crane puffs its smooth head like a cobra, hissing and dancing toward its aggressor. Depart Eden; traverse the stunning scenic rivers, over the impressive arched Paul Sauer Bridge and on to the comfortable lavishness of Fifth Avenue Beach House in Port Elizabeth. The hotel is located so close to the water you can hear the sea swishing along the sand.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation, breakfast

Day 9 – End of the Road, Not the Garden

Experience the rich culture and tormented history of South Africa with a tour of one of the local townships of Port Elizabeth. The water is pristine, the beaches are filled with people enjoying the sun as kite-boards linger on the sand waiting to catch the breeze and sail along the waves. The deeper history and culture of Port Elizabeth shows the contrast of life outside of the beachside city. New Brighton is one of Port Elizabeth’s oldest and largest townships and home to the Red Location Museum. Your guide will tour you through the current living environment of New Brighton, along with explaining the history of the township, from its genesis to its present. The sound of children playing soccer echoes through the streets. The guide continues to direct you to the museum, which is meant to be a cultural and social memorial, an embodiment of the memory of Apartheid through various exhibits, including the replication of a typical shack and township environment during apartheid, allowing those that visit to compare the past and present, and to see where the future might take them.

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

Day 10 – Garden of Elephants

After breakfast you will be taken to the third largest national park in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park. The Big Five are prevalent in the park, a great place to see lions, leopards, Cape buffalo, rhinoceros, and, of course, elephants. Enjoy your day with two separate game drives meant to tour you through the incredible expanse of savannah and mountains. With 550 elephants inhabiting the park it is easy to spot them parading and foraging in the trees. The thump of their feet falls to the floor. They tear branches from the trees. The crunch of the branch and the crinkle of leaves fill the safari vehicle. When the water is high enough, the herd will stroll into the water, cover themselves with mud, and puff water from their trunks. Baby elephants imitate their elders learning what it means to be an elephant. They charge at their older siblings.  Their ears are as large as their heads. They stumble in the water and you can watch how their herd bathes themselves and plays in cool liquid. Elephants won’t be the only wildlife that wanders through your open garden of possibilities, as lions linger in the shade in the heat of the afternoon, leopards hide in the tree canopy, rhinos graze along the golden grass, and buffalo feed on the riverbanks. The Garden Route is flush with excitement.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation, breakfast

Day 11 – End of the Road

Your time along the Garden Route has come to a finish; you will depart for the Port Elizabeth Airport to catch your flight home. But the adventure is never over. Why not continue your exploration of South Africa by extending your trip to see the abundance of wildlife that calls the stunning country and the Eastern Cape its home? Whether you want to hang out with more elephants, watch lions traipse in the field, or spend time following rhinos, the Garden Route may have ended, but there is still plenty of prime wildlife land to explore. See the reviews of South Africa safaris for ideas on how to extend your trip.

What’s Included: transfer 


Starting Price 

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.