From Cape Town to Kruger and then to Mandela’s history, this is the ultimate tour of South Africa’s premier highlights. You will stand on Table Mountain, sink your senses into the Winelands, discover vibrant cities and old-world towns, and enjoy the best safari that this country has to offer. This will be a comfortable, ten-day vacation of unique African experiences, including penguins, Pinotage, Soweto, Robben Island, the Big Five, nighttime game drives, and landscapes beyond your imagination.
Cape Town – Colors of the City Walking Tour
You will land in Cape Town, and the mountain will grab you first. Table Mountain stands imperious above the streets and has more subtlety than its name suggests. You will be staying on the mountain’s lower slopes, and from your private balcony, you can admire its different grooves and peaks. Your local guide will lead you on a city tour this afternoon. The exact itinerary is flexible and can incorporate everything from local markets to white beaches and neighborhoods that were considered gray during apartheid. Most visitors are surprised at how small Cape Town is, but you can absorb a wide variety of impressions in a single afternoon from the colorful slave houses of Bo-Kaap to the splendid Waterfront.
Cape Town – Table Mountain and Robben Island
As a cable car ascends to Table Mountain’s summit, you will gain a new appreciation of its size. From the summit of Table Mountain, the city appears to be tiny. You can gaze across the mountaintop to the tip of Africa, which will be tomorrow’s destination. Down below, there are white beaches and rolling Atlantic waves, and while you can choose to hike up the mountain, this is an arduous and not necessarily rewarding climb. You can speak with your guide about hiking options on the summit, as there are some stunning trails that will take you away from the crowds at the Cable Car station. These are mostly flat and achievable for most fitness levels.
After descending from the mountain, you will indulge in a lunch in the city before shopping at the V & A Waterfront, which is optional. From here, you will take a speedboat to Robben Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the South African Alcatraz where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. Mandela’s former prison guard will be your guide here, and his stories offer a real-life insight into modern South Africa’s founding father. The evening will be left free, and your guide can offer recommendations on restaurants to visit. Cape Town has a superb dining scene, and eating out is one of the city’s premier highlights. Your transportation to and from restaurants in the city will be provided.
Cape Town – Penguins and the Wild Landscapes of Cape Point
A dramatic road hugs the coast between Cape Town and Cape Point. At points, it has been carved into the mountain, which was a remarkable feat of engineering a century ago. First, you will stop at Hout Bay, which is a quaint fishing village. Then, you will venture to Chapman’s Peak Drive and onwards to Simon’s town, where African penguins literally cover the white sand of Boulders Beach. These penguins waddle and frolic, making for beautiful photos and intimate wildlife interactions. You will continue to Cape Point, where springbok hop past Protea trees and two lighthouses mark the tip of Africa. This is a six to seven-hour, private tour that includes the journey back to Cape Town. Your guide will suggest that you leave in the morning, so you can avoid most of the tour groups.
Cape Town to Stellenbosch – Evocative History and Relaxed Wine Tasting
The Cape Winelands begin where Cape Town ends, but you need to travel for an hour to reach the heart of this bucolic landscape, which is where Stellenbosch and the better vineyards are located. You will have a specialist Winelands guide for today and tomorrow. There are more than 400 vineyards in this region, and these produce an enormous variety of wine from sparkling all the way through to the heavy red blends. Each vineyard also has its own style and wine tasting that is integral to what they offer.
In other countries, the focus is on wine tasting, which leads to wine buying; however, in the Cape Winelands, you are encouraged to sit back on sublime terraces and slowly taste four to six wines. You can pair wine with food at one of the country’s finest restaurants, or stroll through a vineyard with the winemaker before opening up vintage wines. Your guide will customize these two days around your preferences, and part of your experience will be to explore the evocative old town of Stellenbosch, where 18th-century, whitewashed walls line a cute center, and there is a sense of a forgotten time.
Stellenbosch – Discovering Franschhoek and Laid-Back Wine Farms
Wine tasting is always a relaxed experience. The laid-back vineyards are places to spend an entire afternoon. In Cape Town, tasting is about taking your time rather than gobbling down wines that are poured by people who are eager for you to buy. Franschhoek is the other historical town in this region. It is older and smaller than Stellenbosch and makes for a nice contrast in addition to its distinct viticulture. Then, after another day of customized exploring, you will return to the wine farm that provides your accommodation. Here, you will indulge in magnificent views over the vines and a dining experience that will be delivered to your terrace.
Cape Town to Sabi Sands – Sublime Big-Game Safari in the Greater Kruger
Cape Town’s international airport is on the Winelands side of the city, so it will only be a 45-minute transfer this morning. From Cape Town, you will fly to the Sabi Sands, which is South Africa’s premier safari destination. Your safari reserve has no fences and is an essential piece of the Greater Kruger, which is one of Africa’s oldest and most abundant wildlife areas. Here, the animals literally walk straight past your suite, which is elevated above the landscape, so that you are kept safe from elephants, lions, and buffalo. From a private terrace, you can look down on the Sabi River and admire a multitude of animals as they come to drink. Your view will continue after dark because the water is illuminated by floodlights.
The airport transfer is a lot like a game drive and will provide some exciting first impressions. Then, after lunch, you will explore on a dedicated, private game drive. A first-time safari game drive usually revolves around the famous animals, most notably the Big Five. Elephants and buffalos are very easy to find because they are both abundant and conspicuous. Giraffes and hippos are not members of the Big Five but offer equally easy encounters, especially because guides know where they usually choose to reside. Rhinos, lions, and leopards are more difficult to find, but in the Sabi Sands, you will be likely to see all three each day. A profusion of these three animals is one of the reserve’s key highlights and is one of the reasons the Sabi Sands is so well known.
Day 7 - 8
Sabi Sands – The Complete South African Safari Experience
Lions bask on the open savannah, and you may see their flowing manes and figures in the grass. In Kruger National Park, this would be all you see because vehicles are not allowed to venture off the trails. In this private reserve, the driver can venture off the path and lead you closer. Soon, you will be beside lions, including a pair of cubs who are annoying their mother. Leopards are usually spotted in the trees, and by going off trail, you can be only little more than ten meters away, which is certainly close enough to look into their piercing blue eyes. Hyenas are also part of your experience with Africa’s predators. You will also hopefully see cheetah although this big cat can be very elusive.
During these two days, you will enjoy the classic Sabi Sands safari experience. First, you will delight in a light breakfast on your terrace before spending the morning on a private game drive. These earlier and cooler hours are the best for encountering the big cats as described above. There is always an element of unpredictability, and you can also see these cats as they prowl for food or dine on a meal that they caught during the night. After your morning game drive, you will spend the heat of the day back at your lodge. Here, you can lounge around the pool, take a siesta, enjoy a soporific lunch, and gaze upon the Kruger landscape.
In the late afternoon, it will be time for the day’s second game drive. You will have a private guide and vehicle, so the drives can lead you through the complete inventory of African wildlife. For example, if day seven brought encounters with roan antelope, day eight can search for the rare sable antelope, or if you spotted a leopard with cubs on day six, then you can return each day to see how their family scenes evolve. There will also be all the beauty of a safari that you have yet to imagine like springbok that plonk across the savannah, elephants that lock trunks at a watering hole, and the black and white stripes of a zebra herd.
You can also include short game walks as part of your safari program. These take place in the middle of the day when the animals are less active, and it is safer to be walking in elephant country. Walking safaris will provide a more intimate perspective onto the smaller animals and antelopes. The other essential Sabi Sands experience will be a nighttime game drive. This wilderness feels like a completely different world after dark because the atmosphere changes drastically, and a new set of animals rule the savannah. The Sabi Sands is excellent because you can try all of these activities in an unfenced and untouched area, but at the same time, access to the reserve is restricted, so your wildlife experience will be private.
Johannesburg – Exploring Mandela’s Soweto and the Apartheid Museum
After an optional morning game drive, you will fly from the Sabi Sands to Johannesburg. It is a 45-minute transfer to your accommodation in the west of the city, which makes it an excellent location for a visit to Soweto. You will stay in a former retreat of Nelson Mandela and spend the afternoon on a cycling tour of Soweto, which is a vivid township that tells so much about South Africa’s 20th-century history. The initial highlight here will be Vilakazi Street, which is where both Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived. The memories that you will probably take away are mostly gregarious locals and their smiles. The Apartheid Museum can also be included on today’s tour, and you will spend the evening of dining at the hotel, which has a restaurant that is owned by one of the country’s most famous chefs.
Johannesburg – Departure
After a leisurely final morning in Mandela’s former retreat, you will be transferred back to O.R. Tambo International for your outbound flight.
- Experience the wilderness with a beautiful Big Five safari in the Sabi Sands
- Connect with Mandela’s heritage when you visit Robben Island and the vibrant township of Soweto
- Explore Cape Town and spend three days in Africa’s most magnificent city
- Discover the bucolic atmosphere of the Cape Winelands, where the relaxation is as good as the wine
- Stand on top of Table Mountain and dip your toes into the white sands of Camps Bay
- Uncover elusive safari scenes on an inspirational nighttime game drive
- Marvel at African penguins as they waddle across Boulders Beach during a private tour of Cape Point
- Transfer back in time to the 17th and 18th centuries with visits to the old, whitewashed towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek
- Delight in a dinner out in the bush, watch elephants as they drink from a swimming pool, and encounter more than 50 different mammal species
South Africa is packed with unique scenes and memories: a cloth of clouds rolls dramatically across Table Mountain, penguins waddle across the white sand of Boulders Beach, and lions prowl on the Kruger savannah. This is a country where wild natural wonders will meet a gregarious and colorful culture and where raw African nature can be combined with contemporary travel comfort. There are many reasons why South Africa is the most visited nation on the African continent, and many of these will be experienced on your handcrafted, ten-day tour from a luxurious safari lodge to Cape Town and wine farms.
This best of itinerary showcases the country’s most iconic destinations, and it follows a relatively well-trodden route that provides superb transport connections. Over these ten days, you will hardly lose any travel time, and you can stay relaxed and comfortably experience the full range of highlights. Following a well-traveled route does not necessarily mean encountering large crowds. This South Africa vacation is all about the details, and you will safari in a private, unfenced reserve, where access to an enormous landscape is limited to just 24 guests at a time. From Cape Town to the Winelands and Johannesburg, you will have fully private tours, so it will be easy to sidestep groups and uncover some of the country’s secrets.
You will initially fly into Cape Town and have three nights in the Mother City beneath the magnificent frame of Table Mountain. On your first day, you can explore slowly, and your private guide will introduce you to the neighborhoods, markets, streets, beaches, and whatever else you would like to discover. Day two incorporates the two most iconic attractions with a cable car ride that will take you to the summit of Table Mountain before receiving a dose of history on Robben Island. Penguins are just one of the attractions that you can see while you travel down the coast to the Southwestern tip of Africa on day three. Three nights in Cape Town also means a stunning selection of restaurants to try along with lazy hours on the white sands of Camps Bay and Clifton.
A road transfer to Stellenbosch will only take you an hour on day four. Here, you will settle into a gorgeous wine farm and a standalone suite that gazes across the vines. Your wine tasting will be relaxed, and there are hundreds of vineyards that cater to different tastes. Your private guide will tailor days four and five to your tastes and preferences, and this can be different styles of wine from Pinotage to heavy red blends, or it can be the food because the Cape Winelands is South Africa’s food capital. With two days, you will also have the opportunity to visit the country’s oldest towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
After a 45-minute drive to Cape Town’s international airport, you will fly directly to the Sabi Sands on day six. This is South Africa’s premier safari destination, and you will have three days with the Big Five and so much more. First, you will escape into the space and privacy of the Sabi Sands. Then, you will admire the views and feel the atmosphere of an untouched wilderness before exploring with private game drives, nighttime game drives, and short game walks. This is an unfenced world where the giants roam free, so you may also watch them drink from a swimming pool and encounter them during your bush dining experience.
Following your safari, you will fly to Johannesburg and swap wild landscapes for a rich cultural experience. There will be time to visit the excellent Apartheid Museum before a cycling tour of Soweto, which is the vibrant township where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived. You will be staying at Mandela’s former city retreat, which has been converted into a five-star boutique guesthouse. It is just one example of the handpicked accommodations that are featured throughout your ten-day adventure. You will then depart from O.R. Tambo International Airport and return home after a complete South African experience.
Interested in learning more by seeing some of our travelers’ South Africa vacation tour reviews? Click here for more.
$3,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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