2 Week + 3 Week South Africa Itineraries for Adventurous Travelers

> January 16, 2024
2 Week + 3 Week South Africa Itineraries for Adventurous Travelers


Okay, let's cut to the chase. You've probably read a million travel blogs saying, 'South Africa is huge, don't even think about doing it justice in two weeks,' and so on. Usually, I'd roll my eyes at this kind of hippie dippie advice, but here, it's actually on point. Obviously, you can still visit the heck out of South Africa, even in just 2 weeks. But 3 weeks is better. The country is vast, diverse, and brimming with so much to see that you won’t see it all anyway. You'd need a good 8 weeks to cover all the bases. My take? Split it into either four 2-week trips or three 3-week trips for a full-on South African saga. Planning ahead is key here, folks. But at least you have a plan for years to come!

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In this article, I’ve curated the best 2- and 3- week South Africa itineraries I personally think you can find on the internet. First, I’ll show you the two-week version, and then I’ll add extra days so you can turn it into a three-week vacation in South Africa. Or, mix-and-match based on your activity preferences.

So, can you do South Africa in only 2 or 3 weeks? Absolutely! Just know that it probably won’t be your last trip to the Rainbow Nation, and that you’ll finish your vacation feeling like you've sprinted through a marathon. It'll be packed, intense, and you'll likely be planning your return trip before you've even unpacked at home. Two weeks in South Africa is just the teaser trailer for the blockbuster adventure that is South Africa. Three weeks is the slightly extended version of it.

Some spots like Cape Town or the Garden Route are a breeze to visit, while others, like the Panorama Route and Drakensberg, might test your patience a bit more, but they're all jaw-droppingly worth it. And hey, South Africa scores big on hygiene and infrastructure, making it a solid choice for families and even the elderly. You may need to skip some Drakensberg hikes, but in places like the Panorama Route, you literally drive up to all the sights. It’s perfect for Americans of all ages, now that I think of it.

South Africa itinerary

Are you ready for your first 2 (3) weeks in South Africa?

Now, let's address the elephant in the room—safety in South Africa. Don't let the naysayers spook you with their exaggerated war stories. If you're not wandering around with a 'rob me' sign, you'll find it's as safe as any other popular tourist spot. Seriously, the bad rep is way overblown and doesn't do this stunning place justice. Get 61 South Africa Safety Tips and Impressions

How to spend 14 days in South Africa?

A map showing the route of this 2-week South Africa itinerary

You’ll be starting and ending in Johannesburg and making a big sorta-kinda circle

Here’s how to plan the best 2 weeks in South Africa: 

Day 0: Arrival (sleep in Drakensberg)
Day 1: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 2: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 3: Flight to Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 4: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 5: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 6: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 7: Stellenbosch/Franschhoek wine region (sleep there)
Day 8: Garden Route (sleep in Sedgefield)
Day 9: Garden Route (sleep in Sedgefield)
Day 10: Garden Route (sleep in Port Elizabeth)
Day 11: Addo Elephant Park (sleep in Port Elizabeth)
Day 12: Flight to Mpumalanga province (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 13: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 14: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 15: Panorama Route
Day D: Departure

Notice that I don’t count travel days in those two weeks, nor do you have any time to relax and have a rest day (nor do I manage to fit all the stops into 14 days... oops...take this as a chance to leave out whatever interests you least if you really have just 14 days tops). If this still seems like too much, you could easily stretch the 2-week itinerary into a 3-week itinerary. But don’t fret, it can be done—I literally just did this exact thing, so I’m living proof, and this is the way I like my itineraries—full to the brim!

If you’re thinking “this is epic, I want more!”, then you’ll be happy to learn that I’ve put together an entire extra week of itinerary goodness for you so you can do just that. The 3-week South Africa itinerary goes like this (I’ve formatted the extra stops in bold):

Day 0: Arrival (sleep in Drakensberg)
Day 1: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 2: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 3: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 4: Drakensberg (sleep St. Lucia)

Day 5: St. Lucia (sleep St. Lucia)
Day 6: St. Lucia (sleep St. Lucia)
Day 7: Flight to Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 8: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 9: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 10: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 11: Stellenbosch/Franschhoek wine region (sleep there)
Day 12: Garden Route (sleep in Sedgefield)
Day 13: Garden Route (sleep in Sedgefield)
Day 14: Garden Route (sleep in Port Elizabeth)
Day 15: Addo Elephant Park (sleep in Port Elizabeth)
Day 16: Flight to Mpumalanga province (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 17: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 18: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 19: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 20: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)

Day 21: Panorama Route
Day 21: Departure

No matter which itinerary you choose, you’ll get the most out of South Africa, complete with epic hikes, the top viewpoints, scenic drives like you’ve never experienced before, and plenty of wildlife spotting, too.

Travelling to Garden Route in South Africa

Let’s do it! Wondering where to get a photo like this? It’s the Garden Route’s Storms River Mouth!

Alright, let’s hop into the trip plan. For every day, I’ll give you a detailed plan to follow, places to see, restaurant tips, travel times and driving distances, prices, and recommendations on hotels (places I’ve stayed myself and loved—South Africa’s hotels are some of the best I’ve ever had the chance to get my beauty sleep in!

And if you’re already ready for some more practical recommendations, see my packing list, get tips on booking the best plane tickets, and make sure to have all your travel documents in order before you head to South Africa.

Day 0 of South Africa itinerary: Arrive in Johannesburg and escape to Drakensberg

Johannesburg, itinerary day 1, South Africa

Get off the plane in Johannesburg (not like you have a choice or anything... can you imagine hop-on hop-off planes?!)

Main sites visited on day 0: The airport, the plane, your rental car
Restaurant tips: probably at your hotel
Hotel recommendations: Dalmore Guest Farm (my top pick) | Sasi Bush Lodge
Further reading: Best Drakensberg day hikes | South Africa Safety Tips and Impressions | Best luxury and boutique hotels in South Africa

Getting to Johannesburg is your first undertaking on this itinerary, but it’s not the only one on your unofficial first day in South Africa. But we’ll get to that part. Your flight will be a long one unless you live elsewhere in Africa.

There are direct flights from many airports in Europe taking around 10 hours. In the US, there are direct flights from NYC, DC, and Atlanta, with a flight time of a whopping 15 hours. You may want to check out the Travel Hacks section on my blog to see how you can be a happier traveler (even if you’re flying for the first time!). Most flights will have you arriving in Johannesburg in the a.m., so you’ll have plenty of time for the next part of your journey—no, you’re not done yet!

Day 0, “stop” 1: Drive to Royal Natal National Park

Distance from Johannesburg: 370 km/230 mi, 4-hour drive

Map of first day of South Africa itinerary from Johannesburg to Drakensberg

The drive to Drakensberg from Johannesburg will take you about 4 hours

Rent a car at the airport. Then, drive 4 hours to the stunning Royal Natal National Park in Drakensberg, a jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain range that I really recommend staying longer in—the 3-week version of this itinerary below does this place much more justice with a full 2 extra days! It’s a hiker’s paradise.

Drakensberg is nothing short of breathtaking. The hiking trails are impeccable, and the tourist traffic is just the right amount to give you a sense of safety without overwhelming the serenity (read more of my safety tips and impressions).

Tip: If you happen to arrive in Johannesburg too late or too tired to drive for 4.5 hours, here are my top hotel picks for you: The Giglio Boutique Hotel (close-ish to the airport) | voco Johannesburg Rosebank an IHG Hotel (just amazing) | Radisson RED Johannesburg Rosebank (if you’re cool enough)

Day 0—Drakensberg—stop 2: Dalmore Guest Farm

The road to Dalmore Guest Farm, hotel in Drakensberg, South Africa

At Dalmore Guest Farm, tired but happy to be “home” after all that traveling

I loved our stay at Dalmore Guest Farm, not just because of the gem of a manager who catered to us as if we were his VIP guests, but also because of the best steak I’ve ever had! I’m not even exaggerating, the food at Dalmore was the best hotel food I’ve ever had, including all the Ritz’s and Hilton’s of the world. Yeah, if you feed me well, I’m happy. I’m like a labrador retriever—give me good food and I’ll love you forever.

The evening braais (barbecues) were pretty darn cool too. Spend one evening under the starry Drakensberg sky and you’ll know what I mean. The photos don’t do it justice one bit. So, settle in for the night and get ready for some hiking for the next two days!

Day 1 of South Africa itinerary: Drakensberg Tugela Gorge Hike

Main sites visited on day 1: Tugela Gorge
Hotel recommendations: Dalmore Guest Farm (my top pick) | Sasi Bush Lodge
Further reading: Best Drakensberg Day Hikes | Best Hikes in South Africa | South Africa Safety Tips and Impressions

After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, it’s time to hike. You have only one main stop for the day, but it’s the most incredible one you could choose: Tugela Gorge.

Day 1—Drakensberg—stop 1: Tugela Gorge Hike

Hiking to the Tugela Falls in Drakensberg, South Africa

This hike is not as challenging as they say. I mean...if you go on a proper hike once in a while

Distance from Dalmore Guest Farm: 68 km/42 mi, 1.5-hour drive
Time spent here: 4 hours

Tugela Gorge hike stats:

Hike length: 14.8 km (9 mi)
Elevation gain: 750 m (2,460 ft)
Difficulty level: Moderate to hard
Hiking time: 4 hours
Parking and trailheadNear Thendele Camp, see it on Google Maps

The Tugela Gorge Hike is an incredibly fun adventure—you’ll be crossing the river, hopping and scrambling on boulders, searching for a hard-to-find cave, and possibly taking a dangerous (?) chain ladder to try to get as close to Tugela Falls as you can.

The initial 2 km take you through a semi-jungle, providing an easy and pleasant pathway. Once you cross the wooden bridge, the real magic unfolds. Those views are nothing short of spectacular—the mighty Amphitheater is a cliff three times the size of El Capitan in Yosemite!

Tip: If you want a more adrenaline and have a little more time and a lot more stamina, consider hiking up to the very top of Tugela Falls. There’s chain ladders galore there and it’s heaps of fun! See the first hike on my Drakensberg Best Hikes List for details.

Day 2 of South Africa itinerary: Drakensberg and off to Cape Town

Drakensberg in South Africa, itinerary day 2

Drakensberg is full of amazing hikes!

Main sites visited on day 2: Baboon Rock hike, Rainbow Gorge hike
Restaurant tips: Cathedral Peak Hotel or Dalmore Guest Farm
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel (my pick) | The Glen Boutique Hotel (another charmer on the seafront)

Further reading: Best boutique hotels in South Africa | Best Drakensberg Day Hikes | 20 Best Things to Do in Cape Town

If you’ve ever followed any of my itineraries, you won’t be surprised that you’ll need to have an early start on most mornings. Hey, life (and your vacation time)’s short and South Africa is large and epic, so up and at ‘em!

You’ll spend today being flabbergasted by Drakensberg once again and then off to Cape Town!  Sound impossible to do all in one day? Wrong! You just need to use your time effectively. And spending a full day just getting to Cape Town is definitely not effective. I’ve put the more spectacular of the two hikes first so that you can skip the other one if it seems too much for your liking.

The most important thing to remember is that you need to leave your things at the hotel and only load the in your car once you’re off to the airport. It’s an epically stupid thing to do in South Africa to leave any valuables in your vehicle, because you're bound to get it stolen.

Day 2—Drakensberg—stop 1: Rainbow Gorge Hike

A tourist on the Rainbow Gorge hike in Drakensberg, South Africa

The Rainbow Gorge hike was quite easy 

Distance from Dalmore Guest Farm: 60 km/37 mi, 1-hour drive
Time spent here: 2 hours

First up on this bright and early morning is the Rainbow Gorge Hike. The best part about it is that it knocks the views right out of the ballpark from the moment you head out and never stops being incredible. It’s not too long or strenuous, but it’s a must-see.

Baboon Rock Hike stats:

Hike length: 5.6 km (3.5 miles)
Elevation gain: 200 m (560 ft)
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Hiking time: 2 hours
Parking and trailheadDidima Camp, see it on Google Maps

The Rainbow Gorge Hike starts out slightly steep for the first kilometer (0.6 mi) or so, but then it’s as flat as a pancake the entire way. You walk through the gorge and end up at some nice little pools where you can dip your toes before you head back.

You can see the details of both of today’s hikes in another article.

Day 2—Drakensberg—stop 2: Baboon Rock Hike

Baboon Rock hike in Drakensberg, South Africa

On the Baboon Rock hike, you’ll get jaw-dropping views straight from the beginning

Distance from last stop: 5 km/3 mi, 8-minute drive
Time spent here: 4 hours

Next up, head to the Cathedral Peak Hotel’s golf house and start your hike to Baboon Rock. And baboons there will be! Many of them, starting right at the golf course. Beware that they aren’t friendly. I’ve described some basic baboon etiquette in my Drakensberg hiking article, so check that out before you go.

Baboon Rock Hike stats:

Hike length: 8 km (5 miles)
Elevation gain: 500 m (1640 ft)
Difficulty level: Moderate to hard
Hiking time: 4 hours with lots of photo stops
Parking and trailhead: Cathedral Peak Hotel golf house

There are spectacular views the entire way on this hike, but the further along you are, the better it all gets... that’s if you like your trails steep and full of scrambles! The first part of the hike is fairly flat, and the second half, as you make your way up Baboon Rock, is steep and superb!

After your hike, you're ready to bid Drakensberg farewell. Hop in your car, go grab your stuff from our hotel, and off you go to Johannesburg.

Day 2, stop 3: Drive to Johannesburg + flight to Cape Town

Map of route from Drakensberg to Cape Town, next stop on South Africa itinerary Easy peasy!

Easy peasy!

Distance to Johannesburg from last stop: 400 km/280 mi, 4.5-hour drive

Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport is your next stop. I really think doing the drive+flight today is worth it to save time for actual exploration tomorrow. Book an evening flight, put the pedal to the metal and haul ass to the airport!

Flights to Cape Town only take 2 hours and there are plenty of them every day, so you should find a departure that works for this itinerary. We took a business class flight on Airlink and were very happy with the experience. For just USD 40 extra pp, the comfort, leg room, priority boarding and especially the departure lounge with great food (and showers) were very welcome.

Cape Town city in South Africa, itinerary day 2

Cape Town

On arrival in Cape Town, rent a car and crash for the night (in a hotel!!). I can vouch for both of the hotels I recommend: DysArt Boutique Hotel and The Glen Boutique Hotel. The location is stunning and strategic (close to the V&A Waterfront, which is where we spent most of our evenings in Cape Town), so you can’t go wrong with either one. For more top hotels, see my luxury and boutique hotel picks.

Tip: Do you really need to rent a car in Cape Town? Yes. Whatever you do, don’t use public transportation. It’s slow, annoying, and probably a great way to get yourself a free trip to either the police station or local hospital. If you don’t want to bother with a car or can’t afford one, you can take pretty cheap Uber’s in Cape Town.

Day 3 of South Africa itinerary: Exploring Cape Town city center and the botanical gardens

Cape Town city center in South Africa

Explore Cape Town city center

Main sites visited on day 3: Castle of Good Hope, District 6 Museum, Iziko Slave Lodge, Long Street, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, V&A Waterfront
Restaurant tips: Fyn Restaurant | Iron Steak and Bar Restaurant | Ethiopian Madam Taitou |  Bouchon Bistro | Pier Restaurant
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel (my pick) | The Glen Boutique Hotel (another charmer on the seafront)
Further reading: Awesome Day Trips from Cape Town | Cape Town Itinerary | Best Natural Attractions in South Africa

Today, you’ll start your day with a bit of South African education, then you’ll ogle some flowers and a snake bridge, and end it with an epic dinner on the waterfront. Ready, set, Cape Town!

Day 3—Cape Town—stop 1: Castle of Good Hope

Visiting Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa

You can’t skip Cape Town Castle

Distance from DysArt Hotel: 3.5 km/2 mi, 10-minute drive
Time spent here: 1.5 hours

First thing in the morning you’ll want to head to central Cape Town to visit the country’s oldest colonial building: the Castle of Good Hope (aka Cape Town Castle). Don’t expect anything too castle-looking, it’s more of a pentagon-shaped fortress that serves as a museum about Cape Town and South African history. You’ll encounter the typical characteristics of a fortress—sturdy walls, military ramparts, and a sense of old-world fortification.

I highly recommend joining a guided tours—our guide could answer all of my prying questions, was funny, and he talked so fast it sounded like he was rapping the whole time.

Inside, there are various displays, and you can visit various courtyards and rooms including the prison, workshops, and slaves’ living quarters. There are also 4 museums that you’ll go through on the tour. One is centered around the Colored community and is pretty eye-opening. Then, there's my personal favorite, the military museum—it covers all those wars between the locals and Boers back in the day.

Day 3—Cape Town—stop 2: District 6 Museum & Truth Coffee

Visiting District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa

Visiting the slightly disappointing District Six Museum

Distance from last stop: 400 m/0.3 mi, 5-minute stroll
Time spent here: 45 minutes

Next up on your journey through history is the District Six Museum. The museum tries to capture the resilient spirit of District Six, a diverse area before it was designated a "whites-only" zone in the 1970s and everybody that was non-White was forcibly removed.

An interesting topic with lots of unused potential, in my opinion, so unless it’s something you’re dying to see, and maybe need to leave something out of the itinerary, this is it.

Coffee tip: Just a block away from the District Six Museum is a Truth Coffee, a place that has won “best café in the world” at least a couple of times (as ranked by Telegraph). And even though I can’t agree with it being better than every other coffee shop on the planet, I do like it a lot, and I return whenever I’m in town.

Getting coffee and cakes at Truth Coffee in Cape Town, South Africa

Getting caffeinated at Truth Coffee

Day 3—Cape Town—stop 3: Iziko Slave Lodge

Exhibits from Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town, South Africa

Remembering things you don’t want to remember @ Iziko Slave Lodge

Distance from last stop: 400 m/0.3 mi, 5-minute stroll
Time spent here: 1.5 hours minumum

Alright, one last sobering stop, but I always like to know the country I am traveling in, so a bit of a reality check is a must: Visit the Iziko Slave Lodge—this place's got stories, real ones, about the shitty times of the past. Once a place that housed slaves during the colonial era, the lodge is now a museum, shedding light on the harsh realities of the slave trade. Save enough time for this one, it took us 2 hours to get through this museum!

Day 3—Cape Town—stop 3: Long Street & lunch

Streets of Cape Town, South Africa

Long Street was just okay...

Distance from last stop: 300 m/0.2 mi, 3-minute stroll
Time spent here: 1 hour max

This next stop won’t knock your socks off, but as it’s on everyone’s checklist, I’ll include it anyway, if only for the “been there, done that” sentiment. And it’s a place you can get lunch, so there’s that. I’ve listed a few establishments that will feed you well in the beginning of today’s itinerary—make sure you don’t wader into a all-day nightclub instead! Long Street can do that to you.

I wouldn’t go to Long Street again, there’s nothing special about it really. It’s a long, busy street with restaurants, bookstores, and nightclubs! I know, how very exciting. There are some nice Victorian buildings to look at and some of the bars outdid themselves with their facades, but overall, nothing astonishing. Eat and leave.

Day 3—Cape Town—stop 5: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa

Visiting the Kristenbosch National Botanical Garden is like stepping into the oasis!

Distance from last stop: 12 km/7.5 mi, 15-minute drive
Time spent here: 2 hours at the very least

Next, you’ll either need to drive or take an Uber, because the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden isn’t exactly in the city center. But whatever you do, go! Just trust me on this one—I’ve gone several times and somehow can’t get enough of this place. And I’m no botanist. It’s UNESCO-listed and right at the foot of Table Mountain Nature Reserve, so the scenery is amazing. Make sure not to miss the King Protea flower, it’s the national flower of South Africa!

Plus, there are snakes! And not just the real kind (like literally cobras), but there’s also the Boomslang—a super cool bridge that snakes its way through the treetops, affording you more of those stunning views.

As for time spent, well, I can hang out anywhere from 1 to 5 hours, so you’ll just need to see how you love it and take it from there.

Day 3—Cape Town—stop 6: V&A Waterfront & dinner at Pier

V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa

Time for a romantic walk around the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

It’s been a long day, but if there’s some life left in ya, spend the evening at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The V&A Waterfront is like a Disneyland for adults. Instead of rides, there are fantastic restaurants and shops, and instead of a white castle as the focal point, you get the big, white Cape Wheel (Ferris wheel) and views of the harbor.

You can even take a cruise, look for gemstones at Scratch Patch, and visit some museums—I highly recommend taking a guided tour at the Diamond Museum. South Africa is a big deal in the diamond world, after all (just be sure to make a booking in advance).

And if nothing else, you need to experience dinner at Pier Restaurant. It won “Best in Africa” at the World Culinary Awards and you’ll get a meal that looks like it came from an art gallery, like floating on dry ice or on a funky mushroom dish.

Getting dinner served at Pier Restaurant on V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa itinerary stop

Not your regular table setting @ Pier Restaurant

Day 4 of South Africa itinerary: Around the Cape

Map of day 4 of South Africa Itinerary

Get this map already planned out on Google Maps

Main sites visited on day 4: Chapman’s Peak drive + hike, Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach, Muizenberg Beach
Restaurant tipsSentinel Café in Hout Bay |Celebration Cafe in Simon’s TownHudsons at Muizenberg Beach |
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel (my pick) | The Glen Boutique Hotel (another charmer on the seafront)

Further reading: Awesome Day Trips from Cape Town | Cape Town Itinerary | Best Beaches in South Africa

It’s time to get out of town and explore some incredible coastal scenery. This is what South Africa does best! Today, you’ll start out driving along the prettiest coast I’ve ever seen (before I got to the Garden Route… coming soon).

Day 4—Cape Peninsula—stop 1: Chapman’s Peak drive and hike

Driving to Chapman’s peak near Cape Town, South Africa

We really enjoyed the views during our drive to Chapman’s Peak

Distance from DysArt Hotel: 20 km/13 mi, 30-minute drive
Time spent here: 45 minutes

The Chapman’s Peak drive, known as “Chappies”, stretches from Hout Bay to Noordhoek and is approximately 9 km (5.5 mi) long—so not very long at all. But it is listed among the most spectacular drives in the world, so be ready to be wowed!

You can stop along the way and take in those views, which is a good idea because otherwise, the poor driver has to keep one eye on the road at all times and will miss half of the scenery! And that’s no easy feat with 114 turns and curves to deal with.

I encourage you to get out of your car and actually hike to Chapman’s Peak, because the views are just unbelievable, and you can take them in in a much slower pace than from the car. You can choose from several routes, but one of the most popular (because it’s the best!) is the approach from the north side, see details here on Alltrails. You’ll need 2.5 hours to get there and back. It’s 5 km/3 mi, and you’ll need to scramble a bit and not have vertigo in some places. Very fun and very rewarding!

At the end of the Chapman’s Peak drive lies Nordhoek Beach—one of the best beaches near Cape Town. It‘s a long, wide, perfect stretch of white sand with the clear waters of the Atlantic right at your toes. It’s almost unbelievable that this little slice of natural perfection is so close to Cape Town, a metropolitan area of 5 million people!

Day 4—Cape Peninsula—stop 2: Cape of Good Hope

Maclear Beach, Cape Point, South Africa
Me imagining myself as Heathcliff—this one is from my first visit of South Africa 

Distance from last stop: 40 km/26 mi, 1-hour drive
Time spent here: 3–4 hours

Next, drive to the highlight of today’s itinerary, roughly 1 hour away to the very south of the cape to the stunning Cape of Good Hope. This place is a personal favorite of mine and I could spend almost all day here just exploring to my heart’s content.

The Cape of Good Hope remains my all-time favorite hike in South Africa. It’s only 4.7 km (3 mi), but you need at least 3 hours if you don’t want to shortchange yourself. Take time to explore the side trails, this area is really worth it.

Cape of Good Hope hike stats:

Hike length: 4.7 km (3 mi) out-and-back with some detours
Elevation gain: 270 m (885 ft)
Difficulty level: Easy
Hiking time: 2 hours bare minimum, 3–4 hours are best
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead  

Start your journey at the Cape Point Lighthouseparking is much easier at that end and the trail is easier from there too.  That cliff view? It's mind-blowing, easily one of the best I've ever seen. Then, take a detour to Diaz Beach—it's an absolute beauty that earned a spot on my best beaches in South Africa list. And not a lot of people make their way down their (there are a lot of stairs). And while you're at it, don't miss the shipwrecks.

Expect a boardwalk or easy trail most of the way, and a good number of stairs, mostly at the end of the hike. Some spots could do with railings, so hold on to your kids and grandmas. There’s no shade and lots of wind.

Beware of wild birds! You may be surprised (or harassed) by ostriches on the Cape of Good Hope trail. We were literally followed by a flock of them, so my girlfriend decided to arm herself with some rocks just in case they got too close. I would’ve loved to see that showdown!

Getting ready to fight birds in Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

My girlfriend, armed with rocks against wild birds

And brace yourself for even more animal encounters: baboons, elands, cobras, you name it, Cape of Good Hope has it!

Day 4—Cape Peninsula—stop 3: Boulders Beach—the one with the penguins!

Boulders Beach in Faise Bay, South Africa

Look at those guys! @ Boulders Beach

Distance from last stop: 22 km/14 mi, 30-minute drive
Time spent here: 30 minutes

Now you’ll start driving back up toward Cape Town, but your day isn’t quite done yet. You still have 2 epic beaches to visit.

What’s special about Boulders Beach one is that you get to hang out with adorable African penguins. This beach is theirs, and humans are only allowed on the wooden walkway in order to not disturb the peace. Even without the penguins, Boulders Beach is a stunner—white sand, turquoise water, the whole shebang. 

Tourist at Boulders Beach near Cape Town in South Africa

Happy tourist and happy penguins on Boulders Beach

There are other beaches next to Boulders Beach that you can actually go on, and the penguins hang out there, too, so if you’re lucky, you might be able to snag a selfie with one there.

Tip: Just a stone's throw away from Boulders Beach lies Simon's Town, a coastal town that's worth a visit if you’re ready for lunch. It has old-world charm with its historic buildings and scenic harbor views.

Day 4—Cape Peninsula—stop 5: Muizenberg Beach

Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

Muizenberg Beach won’t let you down (but the smelly huts might)

Distance from last stop: 16 km/10 mi, 25-minute drive
Time spent here: as long as you want

Last but not least, head up to Muizenberg Beach, completing your (almost)circumnavigation of the Cape Peninsula. It’s the one with those colorful huts that are famously on every photo of Cape Town. Not sure why to be honest (they are filthy inside, too).

Muizenberg is one of Cape Town’s favorite city beaches. A very family-friendly beach (if you forget about the great whites in the water) where people actually swim in the summer—or more like wade in and then out again, because 21°C (70°F) isn’t exactly toasty.

Shark tip: Because Muizenberg (and all beaches in False Bay) is often visited by some toothy friends, there’s a flag system that you should pay attention to if you’re wading into the water. On each of my 3 visits thus far the white flag was up! The Muizenberg Shark Spotters flags are:

  • White flag—a shark has been spotted, siren will sound, stay out of the water
  • Black flag—spotting conditions are poor, you better stay out of the water
  • Red flag—high shark alert, not a great idea to be in the water
  • Green flag—spotting conditions are good and you should be fine in the water

Shark Spotters flag as Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town

Keep your eyes on the flags. White is the worst!

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants close by; I highly recommend Hudsons Burger Joint. Great burgers, great beer, and views out to those colorful huts. A great way to end your 5th day in South Africa!

You are about 30 minutes out from the V&A Waterfront, so when you’re done beachin‘, it’s time to head back to town (or straight to your hotel).

Day 5 of South Africa itinerary: Cape Town’s mountains

Map of Table Mountain in Cape Town

The stars of today’s show aka hiking in Cape Town

Main sites visited on day 5: Table Mountain, Signal Hill
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel (my pick) | The Glen Boutique Hotel (another charmer on the seafront)
Further reading: Best Day Hikes in South Africa | Awesome Day Trips from Cape Town | Cape Town Itinerary |

You’ve seen the city, you’ve seen the coast, and today, you’ll complete the Cape Town trio and climb its mountains!

Day 5—Cape Town’s mountains—stop 1: Table Mountain

Table Mountain in Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

You have so many options for hiking around Table Mountain!

Distance from DysArt Hotel: 9 km/5.5 mi, 15-minute drive
Time spent there: 2–4 hours

If you’re anything like me, you’ll wake up early today out of sheer excitement—Table Mountain is one of my favorite natural places in the world, and day 5 on this itinerary is the day you’ll finally get to see it properly. I’ve been there many times and every time I come back, it’s still just as magical.

I recommend taking the most direct way up, the Platteklip Gorge Hike, because it’s also the fastest… and steepest. I have to warn you that from down below it looks much easier than it is in reality. You need to be fit enough to keep going up the entire time, with some big rocks and boulders making this “walk” extra fun. And, once there, take your time and explore the trails and viewpoints. Those views are simply amazing! And don’t fret, the Platteklip Gorge Hike is usually a one-way undertaking, unless you want to kill your knees...

I recommend taking the cable car on the way down from Table Mountain—just know that in bad weather (storms, strong winds), the cable car stays home, and you need to walk both ways.

Table Mountain hike stats:

Hike length: 4.7 km (3 mi) out-and-back with some detours
Elevation gain: 270 m (885 ft) 
Difficulty level: Easy
Hiking time: 2 hours, but you could spend half a day exploring once there
TrailheadGoogle Maps link to trailhead 

A tourist on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

On my way up Table Mountain

What to expect on the Platteklip Gorge Hike? No shade, lots of uneven, high stone steps, slippery in parts, and epic views. That is, unless you get caught in heavy clouds or fog, in which case, keep in mind the rocks of the mountain are 600 million years old... so, you know, even if you have to keep your gaze down, you could see that as a silver lining. Hey, I’m trying to be optimistic here!

For complete details about this hike, see my article on the best day hikes in South Africa.

For an extra challenge, take the even tougher India Venster Hike. It’s mountain-goat level, but kudos to you if you’re up for it!  

Day 5—Cape Town’s mountains—stop 2: Lion’s Head

View of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill in Cape Town, South Africa

First, you'll head to his head, and then you’ll end the day on his rump

Distance from last stop: 3.7 km/2.3 mi, 10-minute drive
Time spent here: 2.5 hours

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you only need to climb one of Cape Town’s mountains. If you go up Lion’s Head, you get a spectacular view of Table Mountain, which you obviously don’t get when you’re on Table Mountain. The trail spirals around the mountain, making sure the views keep changing, and you may even be lucky and walk in the shade once in a while.

The trail is clear, but it is rocky, so wear sturdy shoes. Once you reach the rock face at the top, you can add some adrenaline into the mix by climbing up the metal ladders and staples. If you’re not feeling up for it, there’s a path you can use to walk around the exciting section.

You’ll need about an hour to reach the top.

Lion's Head hike stats:

Hike length: 4.3 km (2.7 mi) out-and-back
Elevation gain: 337 m (1100 ft) 
Difficulty level: Moderate to hard
Hiking time: 2 hours
TrailheadGoogle Maps link to trailhead  (parking is right there, too)

Photos of the trail and ladders on the Lion’s Head hike, Cape Town

Don’t expect a walk in the park, and, in the end, you need to put your big boy pants on and climb some ladders!

Day 5—Cape Town’s mountains—stop 3: Signal Hill aka Lion’s Rump

A couple taking a photo at the Signal Hill viewpoint in Cape Town, SOuth Africa

If you need one more photo of Table Mountain, Signal Hill delivers

Distance from last stop: 3 km/2.4 mi, 5-minute drive
Time spent there: 2–3 hours with time for relaxing and photos (going up takes 40–60 mins)

After two pretty hard hikes, you’ve earned yourself a bonus viewpoint that takes very little effort to reach. Signal Hill, formerly known as “the Lion’s Rump”, is part of a duo of smaller mountains next to Table Mountain that together form the shape of a lion. Today, you’ll explore the, um, 'posterior' end of this peculiar feline-like landscape. It’s easy to spend an hour up there just chilling, but I’d get out before it gets dark. Signal Hill is a known hotspot for pickpockets and even muggings.

The Signal Hill viewpoint is accessible by car. The upper parking lot tends to be full, but there will be cars parked along Singal Hill Road that leads up to it. I’m sure you’ll find a spot. If all else fails, walk (it’s about 2 km/1.2 mi from the start of Signal Hill Road).

Photo of a man in a car with Table Mountain in the background, Cape Town

Luckily, you can just drive up Signal Hill... enough hiking for one day

Day 6 of South Africa itinerary: Franschhoek

Map of route  from Cape Town to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek

Map of today’s drive

Main sites visited on day 6: Franschhoek
Restaurant tipsLe Petit Manoir Franschhoek | Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch
Hotel recommendations: Southern Sun de Wagen
Further readingAwesome day trips from Cape Town | Unique places in South Africa

Distance from DysArt Hotel: 55 km/34 mi, 1-hour drive
Time spent there: All day

Today is the closest thing you’ll get to a rest day on this itinerary. Tasting wine and cheese all day doesn’t sound half bad after your first week exploring South Africa, now does it? Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, two wine towns just an hour’s drive from central Cape Town (Stellenbosch is the closer one, Frankenschhoek is my favorite one), are surrounded by some of the finest vineyards in the country.

Tip: I personally find most of the guided wine tours too rushed and would skip the Vine Hopper bus in Stellenbosch. Wine tasting on a tight schedule is not my thing. On the other hand, the wine tram in Franschhoek was very pleasant.

Tasting wine in Stellenbosch wine region in South Africa

A day well spent

My favorite winery stops: Allee Bleue, Kleine Zalze, Neethlingshof (get the “story tasting” for a story with each wine, it was well worth it).

Make sure to go for the best dining experience you can, too. In Franschhoek, the place to be is Le Petit Manoir Franschhoek. This place is on another level, like Michelin-star level. My recommendation in Stellenbosch is Delaire Graff Estate.

Book yourself into one of the fantastic hotels or manors in the area, it completes the experience with an entirely different vibe to Cape Town’s hotels. I listed a few of my top choices in my Top Luxury Hotels in South Africa article.

Day 7 of South Africa itinerary: First day of Garden Route awesomeness

Map showing the first day of Garden Route itinerary, South Africa

Get today’s route already planned out on Google Maps. I’ve included all the stops on the itinerary, so you can keep your eyes on the scenery. You’re welcome

Main sites visited on day 7: Big Tree Trail, Storms River Mouth, Day 1 Otter Trail
Restaurant tipsPapa Africa in Storms River| Taste Restaurant and Farmstall in Storms River| Down to Earth near Plettenberg Bay
Hotel recommendations: Kambaku at Sea
Further readingEpic Garden Route Hiking Trails | Things to Do on the Garden Route | Garden Route 5-Day Itinerary

Today you say your final good-bye to Cape Town, but don’t be sad, more utterly incredible exploration awaits. I had my doubts about the Garden Route, but boy was I happy I had enough time there! It’s packed with jaw-dropping scenery, amazing hikes, and, as a little bonus, superb hotels! The one we stayed at—Kambaku at Sea—is what dreams are made of! I strongly urge you to stay there.

Tip: I’ve covered the Garden Route extensively in several other articles, so hop on over there if you want the nitty gritty (more like coasty pretty!).

Day 7, stop 1: Getting to Port Elizabeth

Visiting Garden Route in South Africa

Take the unforgettable Garden Route!

Flight time from Cape Town: 1 hour 20 minutes

First, fly out from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. You have quite a few activities to get to today, so the sooner, the better—we were at Port Elizabeth airport by 8 am and it was the best decision ever. The Garden Route deserves as much time as you can find!

The flight takes a little over an hour, and you’ll need to rent a car again at Gqeberha’s Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport (Gqeberha is Port Elizabeth’s new name… we’ll stick to Port Elizabeth).

Day 8—Garden Route—stop 2: Big Tree Trail

Big Tree Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park, Garden Route in South Africa

Big Tree Trail—hike through the jungle

Distance from last stop: 180 km/110 mi, 2-hour drive
Time spent there: 20 minutes

Put the pedal to the metal and head to Tsitsikamma National Park, one of the most spectacular areas of the entire Garden Route. There’s plenty to explore there, but you only have part of a day to do it… so do it right.

First, stop at the Big Tree—a Outeniqua Yellowwood that stands at 38 m (125 ft) and is 800 years old. It’s a mere 500 m (0.3 mi) or so from the reception area, so basically a great place to stretch your legs after all that travel you just endured; a lovely short walk on a wooden boardwalk, checking out a big tree in the middle of the lush OG forest.

Tip: You can save a bit of time and skip this stop if you’ve seen the sequoias in the US or even Japan.

Big Tree Trail stats:

Hike length: 1.3 km (0.8 mi) loop or extend 2.5 km on the Yellow Trail
Elevation gain: barely any
Difficulty level: Easy
Hiking time: 30 minutes
TrailheadGoogle Maps link to trailhead

Day 8—Garden Route—stop 3: Storms River Mouth

Storm River Mouth on Garden Route, South Africa

Walking through the Storm River Mouth trail is unforgettable

Distance from last stop: 14 km/9 mi, 15-minute drive
Time spent there: 2 hours

Today goes from 0 to 100 quickly as you arrive at Storms River Mouth—possibly the most fabulous spot on the Garden Route! This stop and the next one were my two favorite hikes out of the entire area. They’re not just great, they’re amazing!

First, the Storms River Mouth. Everyone and their grandma does this route, since the famous suspensions bridges are a part of it. So, you sure as heck won’t be alone or feel the power of nature in seclusion, but you will feel extremely happy that you’re there.

The Storms River Mouth trails starts at the parking lot near Untouched Adventures (the kayaking trip people—you should check them out, their trips are epic!) and make your way to the bridges. You’ll walk through a gorgeous forest and on wooden paths. The 3 suspension bridges are good fun, and you’ll be standing right above the wild waters of Storms River mouth below. After the suspension bridges, the trail goes up some steep stairs. You can scramble even higher up to get to a cool viewpoint when you reach the end.

Storms River Mouth stats:

Hike length: 3.7 km (2.3 mi) out-and-back
Elevation gain: 200 m (655 ft)
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate (if you don’t like stairs)
Hiking time: 2 hours
TrailheadGoogle Maps link to trailhead

Day 8—Garden Route—stop 4: Day 1 Otter Trail

Otter Trail hike in Tsitsikamma National Park on the Garden Route, South Africa

As a reward for this challenging hike, you will get this beautiful waterfall

Distance from last stop: 2 km/1.2 mi, 5-minute drive
Time spent there: 2–3 hours

It's coastal Mordor vibes on the Otter Trail, with sharp cliffs making the scene look like a movie set. I’ve never been to such a place, and only maybe Scotland comes close. This hike is the beginning of the famous 5-day Otter Trail, so not very long, but it definitely gives you an idea why the Otter Trail is so popular. You don’t need to book the one day Otter Trail, unlike the full hike. 

It’s technically challenging because you’re on rocks and boulders most of the way, but who doesn’t love some shoreline scrambling?? You’ll need a fair amount of balance and stamina to conquer this gorgeous route, but that’s just adventure points in my book. Stay away if you aren’t fit or have wiggly kids.

There’s a cave with bats roughly in the middle of the trail, and the hike ends at a waterfall. It’s very pretty, and people like to swim in the pools there and have a snack before heading back. We didn’t, but you can. Take your own food and water, there are no facilities.

Story time: Apparently, even smart people can die like complete idiots when they’re too lazy to backtrack 20 m (65 ft) after they’ve wandered off the trail. In what was my stupidest attempt ever to take a little shortcut, I managed to lead us very close to falling 7 m (2 ft) down onto the sharp rocks in the huge waves below. So, stay on the trail, folks!

Day 1 Otter Trail stats:

Hike length: 4.8 km (3 mi) out-and-back
Elevation gain: 135 m (440 ft)
Difficulty level: Moderate
Hiking time: 2–3 hours
TrailheadGoogle Maps link to trailhead

You don’t need to book the Day 1 Otter Trail, unlike the full hike.

If you’re staying at Kambaku at Sea (I’m telling you, this may be your favorite hotel of all time!), leave yourself about 1.5 hours to get there from Storms River Mouth. If time is tight, skip the Big Tree Trail.

Day 9 of South Africa itinerary: Second Day of Garden Route

Map of the 2nd day on the Garden Route, South Africa itinerary

You can také the “OG Garden Route” on the way back to the hotel (or just return the same way you started). Get this map on Google Maps

Main sites visited on day 9: Wilderness NP canoeing, Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail, 7 Passes Road
Restaurant tipsJoplins Steak Bar in Wilderness | Cornerstone Creek Art Gallery (cafe) in Wilderness | African Experience Bush Caf'e on 7 Passes Road | Bistro Celeiro on 7 Passes Road
Hotel recommendations: Kambaku at Sea

Further readingEpic Garden Route Hiking Trails | Things to Do on the Garden Route | Garden Route 5-Day Itinerary

Compared to yesterday, today is a breeze—no huge travel means more time to take in South Africa’s stunning nature, and—and I mean this—more time at your hotel! Seriously, the one thing I regretted after completing my South Africa itinerary was not having enough time to simmer in the awesomeness of Kambaku at Sea. If I could, I’d happily spend a few more hours staring out from that terrace. So, do yourself a favor and choose a good hotel for yourself, ideally one with a terrace to stare out from.

Day 9—Garden Route—stop 1+2: Wilderness National Park canoeing and Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail

Wilderness National Park on Garden Route, South Africa

Enjoy canoeing in a croc-free river!

Distance from Kambaku at Sea: 2 km/1.2 mi, 5-minute drive
Time spent there: 3–4 hours

When we visited Wilderness National Park, we did the full Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail and canoe separately, taking up about 4 hours total. But how long you are in the canoe depends entirely on how long of a route you choose—you can paddle out to Island Lake for a 3-hour round trip or choose the slightly more exciting trip to the river mouth for a maximum 1.5-hour round trip.

Or, there is an option to connect canoeing and hiking that I think is just too good not to mention. You’ll need about 3 hours in total for this.

Hiking the Garden Route in South Africa

Get ready for some upper body workout on the way

You start at Eden Adventures where you pick up your canoe and in about 45 minutes (this clearly depends on your canoeing skills) you’ll park your canoe and continue on foot on the Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail. A wooden boardwalk will take you all the way (2.5 km/1.5 mi) to a waterfall. Also, watch out for cheeky vervet monkeys trying to steal your phone/snacks/glasses!  

The return route is exactly the same and in total, this water+land adventure should take you 3–4 hours.  

If you prefer to do the full Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail completely on foot and paddle separately (or not at all), get the hike details in my Garden Route hikes article.

Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail stats:

Hike length: 7.6 km (4.7 mi) out-and-back
Elevation gain: 270 m (885 ft)
Difficulty level: Easy
Hiking time: 2 hours
TrailheadGoogle Maps link to trailhead

Day 9—Garden Route—stop 3: 7 Passes

Distance from: 10 km/6 mi, 15-minute drive
Time spent there: 2 hours

This “stop” is entirely voluntary, and if sitting in the car for 2 hours going down narrow, winding roads that don’t like roads half the time doesn’t sound that appealing, skip it. Also, don’t drive this route without a 4x4 or after rain. But first, here’s all the info so you can make an informed decision:

The 7 Passes Road was the original Garden Route before the N2 highway way even an idea. All the roads are either tarred or dirt and there’s never a straight section that’s too long. The official 7 Passes Road starts in George and ends in Knysna, but if you don’t feel like going all the way to the beginning, you can cut up from Wilderness NP along Hoekwil Road until it connects to 7 Passes.

The bridge in Wilderness National Park, South Africa

The Kaaimans River Bridge... you’ll need to explore the 7 Passes Road all the way from George in order to see it

The total distance of the 7 Passes drive is 75 km (46 mi), but remember the drive will take longer than it would on a wide asphalt road. Expect dense forests, little bridges, and farm patches. It’s not exactly jaw-droppingly amazing scenery, more like really nice and peaceful.

Otherwise, just head back to your hotel and call it a day.

Day 10 of South Africa itinerary: Third Day of Garden Route

Map of 3rd day on the Garden Route, South Africa 2-week itinerary

Get this route already planned out on Google Maps

Main sites visited on day 10: Knysna Heads, Knysna Forest, Robberg Nature Reserve hike, Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
Restaurant tips: Adi’s Kitchen in Plettenberg Bay | Down to Earth near Plettenberg Bay | Blue Rocks Cafe in Nature’s Valley | Anchorage Restaurant in Knysna
Hotel recommendations: Nova Boutique Hotel

Further readingEpic Garden Route Hiking Trails | Things to Do on the Garden Route | Garden Route 5-Day Itinerary

Day 10—Garden Route—stop 1: Knysna Heads for views

Knysna Heads along Garden Route, South Africa

The gatekeeper between Knysla Lagoon and open sea

Distance from last stop: 33 km/20 miles, 35-minute drive
Time spent here: 30 minutes

Ready to start the day with a bang (that takes almost zero effort)? Take in the views at Knysna Heads. There’s a main wooden viewing platform and a wooden footpath will take you to the lower viewpoints. See, easy.

The Knysna Heads are what they call the sandstone cliffs that play gatekeeper between the serene Knysna Lagoon and the mighty open sea. We're talking a 300-m-wide watery gap, and most of all the viewpoints on the East Head where you can take it all in.  

You’ll be treated to beautiful views of the channel, the Indian Ocean, Knysna Lagoon, and even the Outeniqua Mountains in the background. Not a bad way to start your 10th day in South Africa, right?

The Knysna Heads are only a 30-minute drive from Kambaku at Sea. Pack your bags, you’re heading back to Port Elizabeth tonight—there are hundreds of elephants expecting you tomorrow!

Day 10—Garden Route—stop 2: Knysna Forest walk or cycling

Knysna Forest Trail, Garden Route itinerary from Cape Town

Knysna Forest Trail 

Distance from last stop: 25 km/16 miles, 30-minute drive
Time spent here: 2 hours

You’ll feel like you’re world’s away from the coastal Garden Route area in the hills above Knysna, but you’re not. Time sure does seem to slow down here though.  

There are 3 “Elephant Walks” that start at the Diepwalle Forestry Station and Camp (to be clear, there are no elephants there nowadays). The word “Diepwalle” literally means “deep walls”, and you’ll see why when you get there. This forest is so deep and so dense that it really does look like giant walls of trees flanking the narrow walkways. You’ll feel tiny, and the forest is just magical.

All of the 3 hikes are of similar length, ranging from 7 km to 9 km (4.3 to 5.6 mi), all easy and almost flat.

Tip: Knysna Forest is a great place to go cycling, too. There are many cycle routes and mountain biking trails, so if that’s something that you enjoy, today’s the day!

Day 10—Garden Route—stop 3: Robberg Nature Reserve hike

Robberg Nature Reserve hiking trail on Garden Route, South Africa

Me and the scenery on the hike in Robberg Nature Reserve 

Distance from Kambaku at Sea: 48 km/30 miles, 1-hour drive
Time spent here: 1.5–2.5 hours

Next up, one of my favorite coastal hikes that comes with a bonus of the odor of dead seal carcasses, Robberg Nature Reserve. What I love about this hike is that it keeps changing, and you end up feeling like you did 3 hikes in one go. This everlasting fun is why it’s my no. 3 favorite hiking trail on the Garden Route (see the full hike list here).

Robberg Nature Reserve hike stats:

Hike length: 8.7 km (5.4 mi) loop, with the option to cut it in half 
Elevation gain: 280 m (920 ft) 
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate 
Hiking time: 2.5 hours for the full trail 
TrailheadGoogle Maps link to trailhead 

I strongly recommend you stop by Nelson Bay Cave before starting your hike. It's an interpretation center that will educate you about the story of the local San and Khoi people, and it’s right after the parking lot before the trail starts.

Then, it’s time to walk! The Robberg hiking trail is jaw-dropping coastal goodness all the way, though if I were to do it again, I’d opt for the shorter version, where you cut through the peninsula in the middle and skip the sandy shuffle of the longer route (the sand isn’t just hard to walk in, but also full of annoying sand flies). But, if you don’t mind a long sandy walk, the full route will still only take you about 2.5 hours. Some sections of this route are quite steep, but there are ropes you can hold onto.

Be ready to encounter a very large and smelly seal colony (this is a nature reserve, which means the ones that have died are left to rot and smell up the place), and you can also try to spot whales from the higher ground.

Day 10—Garden Route—stop 4: Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary

Monkeys in Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary on Garden Route, South Africa

Meeting the monkeys in Monkeyland

Distance from last stop: 30 km/20 miles, 35-minute drive
Time spent here: 1.5 hours

Your last stop on today’s itinerary, before your drive back to Port Elizabeth, is Monkeyland. But don’t expect a zoo, Monkeyland is a true primate sanctuary, and it's sprawled over acres of pure monkey paradise.

On the one-hour guided tour, you're walking under and in the trees, across the suspension bridge, soaking in a bird's eye view of the cheeky monkeys. Guides are excellent and full of monkey facts. When our guide wrapped things up, I felt like I'd just come back from a mini safari.

It’s also possible to combine a visit to Monkeyland with the bird sanctuary next door (apparently the largest free-flight bird aviary in the world), and with Jukani Wildlife Sanctaury just a 10-minute drive away. But considering you’ve got a 2.5-hour drive ahead of you, you probably won’t have time for all of them.

Day 10—Port Elizabeth—stop 5: Nova Boutique Hotel

Distance from last stop: 225 km/139 miles, 2.5-hour drive

Port Elizabeth is your home for the next two nights. It’s a pretty straightforward 225 km (139 mi) drive from Monkeyland. Check out Nova Boutique Hotel photos and prices (no strings attached!). We stayed at this hotel in Port Elizabeth and it was a design delight with fantastic hosts.

Day 11 of South Africa itinerary: Addo Elephant Park

Map showing route to Addo Elephant Park in SOuth Africa

This map takes you to Addo’s South Gate

Main sites visited on day 11: Addo Elephant Park
Restaurant tips: De Kelder Restaurant in Port Elizabeth | The Hussar Grill in Port Elizabeth
Hotel recommendations: Nova Boutique Hotel

Further readingPlan Your Visit to Addo Elephant Park | 10-day Garden Route Itinerary | Garden Route Best Places

Rise and shine! You’ll want to get to Addo Elephant Park bright and early or else risk not getting enough time with the animals—gates open at 7 am. And you know what they say—an elephant never forgets!  Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t want Addo’s 600 elephants to hold a grudge against me until eternity.

Self-driving around elephants in Addo Elephant Park, South Africa

Watching the elephants from a safe and comfortable car—what else could you wish for?

Distance from Nova Boutique Hotel: 45 km/27 miles, 30-minute drive
Time spent here: All day

Don't be fooled by its name—Addo Elephant Park offers much more than just elephants. It’s a sprawling, multi-species haven for Africa's diverse wildlife where you can spot the Big 5. This was my girlfriend’s favorite place in South Africa, so while it may look like just a warm-up for Kruger, it holds its own.

I recommend using the South Gate to access Addo; the route to the Main Gate is through shady areas and slums that aren’t exactly a lovely start to your safari day. Most of the tourist infrastructure within the park is, however, closer to the Main Gate. But all you need are driving routes, right? And those are everywhere.

You can read the exhilarating story of how Addo started out protecting just 11 elephants in my Addo Elephant Park Guide, after which you’ll definitely want to go say hi to Hapoor, the former feisty, human-hating elephant boss that managed to get through the park’s elephant-proof fence. Stop by the visitor center, he’s the guy who’s head is up on the wall there.

Addo has 120 km (75 mi) of tourist roads that’ll keep you busy for a full day. Drive around and focus extra carefully on the watering holes where the animals like to hang out. We saw hundreds of elephants in one spot and it completely blew us away. Oh, and don’t drive over elephant poop—that’s reserved for the rare dung beetle that you also need to watch out for—they’ve got the right of way!

But like I mentioned, don’t just expect elephants in Addo, picture this: Cape buffaloes, lions, zebras, warthogs, and even spotted hyenas, like the eco-friendly villains they are. Shy and secretive leopards make rare appearances, while antelopes like red hartebeest, eland, and kudu are abundant. And let's not forget the hippos at Sundays River or the black rhino and wildebeest at Darlington Dam, and the dozens of different snake species.

If you feel like stretching your legs, you can do so at the picnic areas, or at one of several hiking trails. They range from 2 km (1.2 mi) to 8 km (5 mi), and one that even takes you out on an ocean trail!

Get lots of other practical information in my other article: 16 Tips and FAQs for a Addo Elephant Park Self-Drive Day Visit

Spend the night at Nova Boutique Hotel and prepare for an early flight in the morning!

  • Open 7 am to 7 pm (Main Gate) and 6:30 pm (South Gate)
  • Tickets cost ZAR 376 (USD 20), guides are extra

Elephants in Addo Elephant Park, Garden Route, South Africa

These beauties are on every corner in Addo

Day 12 of South Africa itinerary: Travel to Mpumalanga Province

Map showing day 12 of South Africa itinerary

You’ll be covering over 1000 km today, so get an early start!

Main sites visited on day 12: Sudwala Caves
Restaurant tips: Zest Restaurant Mbombela | YOONS Eatery (White River)
Hotel recommendations: Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge | Little Kubu Lodge
Further reading: Plan Your Trip to Kruger National Park | Tip for Spotting Wildlife in Kruger | Best Hotels in South Africa

It’s almost time for one of South Africa’s crown jewels—Kruger National Park. But getting to the best safari in the country requires a little bit of effort, especially since you’re 1400 km (870 mi) away from it right now.

Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge in South Africa

Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge

We based ourselves in Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge, which is close to the southern (aka best) gates of Kruger. Absolutely loved this accommodation. Alternatively, especially if you have an extra day on your itinerary and plan on visiting the Panorama Route (see day 15), it would make sense to base yourself further north in Hoedspruit. We had a very memorable hotel experience there, too: Little Kubu Lodge.

Little Kubu Lodge hotel in South Africa

Little Kubu Lodge

Day 12, “stop” 1: Flight from Port Elizabeth to Joburg+drive to Kruger

Flight time from Port Elizabeth: 1.5 hours direct flight to Johannesburg
Driving distance from Johannesburg: 340 km/210 mi, 3.5-hour drive

Now it’s time to get close enough to Kruger so that you can finally see it tomorrow. There are direct flights to Johannesburg that take about 1.5 hours, but then you need to drive 3.5 hours the rest of the way. “Sheesh, isn’t there a better way?!” you ask... well, sort of. You can fly 3.5 hours to Mpumalanga International Airport (with a connection in Joburg), and then be in your luxury tent faster than you can say “Wildebeest”. BUT dealing with renting a car there and especially returning it afterwards in Johannesburg...? Meh, too much of a headache. We flew to Joburg and it was fine. The drive is pretty easy. Whatever you do, get an early morning flight.

Day 12, stop 2: Sudwala Caves

Sudwala Caves on the Panorama Route in South Africa

On of the best highlights of the whole Panorama Route—Sudwala Caves

You probably won’t want today to be wasted as just a travel day. Luckily, you can squeeze in a “little” trip to the oldest caves in the world—the Sudwala Caves. They are as fascinating as they sound. Even our guide was a pleasant surprise—he was friendly, educated, and answered all of my nosy questions.

The standard tour takes around 30–45 minutes, and then there’s the 4-hour crystal tour if you want a proper cave experience and have so much time on your hands. Just note that (in the words of Sudwala’s own official website!) “It is not suitable for people with back or knee problems and large people over 115 kg will not be eligible because they will get stuck.”

Day 13+14 of South Africa itinerary: Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger National Park is a huuuge park full of animals

Main sites visited on days 13 and 14: Kruger National Park
Hotel recommendations: Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge | Little Kubu Lodge
Further readingPlan Your Trip to Kruger National Park | Tip for Spotting Wildlife in Kruger

I’d prefer you to have more than 2 days in Kruger National Park, but hey, if this is all you can muster up, it’ll do. Make sure to get early starts and plan to explore until closing time, because Kruger is HUGE and you’ll regret it if you spend too much time in bed instead of seeing the animals. For reference, it’s about the size of Wales, Israel, or the state of New Jersey in the US, and you’ll be driving very slowly most of the time.

You want to make sure to be at the park gates right when they open to get the best chances of seeing the most/coolest animals. Apparently, they are all early birds! Then, throughout the day and in the evenings, you’ll see about 50% of what you can see in the morning, so it’s definitely worth dragging yourself out of bed before the crack of dawn.

Kruger gate opening times:

October–March: 5:30 am
April–September: 6:00 am

Kruger gate closing times:

November–February: 6:30 pm
March and August–October: 6:00 pm 
April–July: 5:30 pm

Each area of the park has its own variety of animals, so you’ll want time to move around enough… but not too much. Two days simply isn’t enough to cover the entire thing (neither was four!).

Focus on the southern third of Kruger for best animal sightings—so basically everything south of Hoedspruit. Try driving between Orpen>Satara>Lower Sabie and also around Skukuza>Berg-en-Dal>Crocodile Bridge. This is where we had some jaw-dropping encounters with lions, hyenas, cheetahs, giraffes, a bazillion zebras and elephants, and tons more.

Zebra crossing the road in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Remember, the animals in the park always have the right of way!

Best gates to use: We stayed at Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge and used Crocodile Bridge and Malelane Gates. It’s easiest to use Orpen Gate if you’re coming to Kruger from Hoedspruit. One place to avoid is Numbi Gate, which is known as a crime hotspot. We tried it out to see it for ourselves, and it felt iffy.

Kruger has well-maintained roads (mostly sealed, but some gravel sections), clear signage and good maps available, and speed limits that ensure everyone's safety, including the wildlife. That is, if humans adhere to these rules...

I’d say the only danger when driving in Kruger is a sore butt from the hours of sitting in the car driving slowly. I strongly recommend getting a comfortable vehicle, ideally a high-clearance one so you’re up higher off the ground, which makes it easier to spot animals. You don’t need a 4x4.

For every day you visit Kruger National Park, you will pay the conservation fee of ZAR 460 (USD 24) + 1% community fee for international adult visitors.

Read my two articles with many more details about all things Kruger: Kruger Guide, FAQs, and Tips and How to Spot Animals in Kruger.

Day 15 of South Africa itinerary: Panorama Route

Map showing the Panorama Route in SOuth Africa

A map of the Panorama Route in one day itinerary (open it in Google Maps)

Main sites visited on day 15: Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondavels viewpoint, Graskop Gorge Forest Trail and Zipline, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Mac Mac Falls, The Pinnacle Rock, God’s Window, Lisbon Falls
Hotel recommendations: Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge | Little Kubu Lodge | The Giglio Boutique Hotel (in Johannesburg)
Further reading:  1 and 2 Day Itinerary for the Panorama Route | Panorama Route Best Places

Today may be the day that you need to drive back to Johannesburg to catch your flight home. If that’s the case, just skip over this section, because you’ll have severe FOMO from just looking at it.

If you can add another day to your 14-day South Africa itinerary and turn it into a 15-day itinerary, the Panorama Route is calling your name. It’s a 160-km (100 mi) scenic road with at least 10 stops that are all easy to visit and more or less amazing. I already have a full itinerary planned out for 1 or 2 days on the Panorama Route, so I’ll send you over to that article for full details.

In short, if you need to head straight over to Johannesburg after seeing the Panorama Route it’s best to tackle the Panorama Route from the Hoedspruit side so that you’re going down it from north to south, i.e. in the right direction towards Johannesburg. If you can spend another night before heading back to Jozi, you’ll have a much more relaxed day and can even stay put in Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge. Basically, this will take some good planning on your part depending on your travel time restrictions, so just look at a map before you make your bookings, ok?

Visiting Blyde River Canyon and Three Rondavels viewpoint in South Africa

Two travelers at the Three Rondavels

The top stops on the Panorama Route

(in order of how much I loved them)

  1. Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondavels viewpoint
  2. Graskop Gorge Forest Trail and Zipline
  3. Bourke’s Luck Potholes
  4. Sudwala Caves (but you should’ve seen these on day 12 already)
  5. Mac Mac Falls
  6. The Pinnacle Rock
  7. God’s Window
  8. Blyde River boat cruise
  9. Lisbon Falls
  10. Berlin falls
  11. Sabie Falls

Obviously, if you aren’t staying an extra night following your Panorama Route journey, you have to forget about the Blyde River boat cruise, and will probably need to leave out a couple of the less amazing waterfalls to save time.

My top tips for the Panorama Route

Getting ready to take the zipline in Graskop Gorge, South Africa

What an adrenaline rush on a Zipline in Graskop Gorge Forest Trail

  • You pay an entrance fee at all of the stops on the Panorama Route, which is slightly annoying and I wish they’d just put a gate at the beginning of the route where you’d pay for the whole thing at once. Bring cash.
  • There’s some sort of tourist infrastructure at all the stops. A reasonable parking area, a gate where you pay the entrance fee, and almost always some sort of facilities like toilets and at least some snack stalls or a little market.
  • Don’t miss out on the Graskop Gorge forest trail as its easily one of the best educational trails I’ve ever seen. 

Departure day

Walking on the beach in Robberg Nature Reserve, Garden Route in Southa Africa

Goodbye, South Africa! See you again soon...

Hotel recommendations: The Giglio Boutique Hotel
Further reading:  Safety in South Africa | 13 Best Natural Attractions in South Africa | 7 Unique Places to Visit in South Africa

Johannesburg Airport is 440 km (270 mi) from Hoedspruit, about a 5-hour drive, and about an hour and a half closer from White River (where Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge is located). No matter what, you have a long drive ahead of you.

If you’re making the trip on the same day as your flight home, you’ll want to give yourself a generous time cushion to allow for any emergencies on the road. In an ideal world, you’d have another night in Johannesburg before you fly to your home country.

Alright, that’s all folks! Your 2-week South Africa itinerary is done! I don’t think I have to say that if you’re not worried about time and like a more relaxed vacation, it’s easy to spread out this exact trip into a 3-week itinerary. Alternatively, if you have time and like to smash out as much as you can on your trip, I’ve added some spectacular stops to the 2-week version; here you go:

How to spend 3 weeks in South Africa?

The 3-week version of my South Africa itinerary adds 7 days onto the 14-day variant described above. You’ll have more time in Drakensberg and Kruger—very much needed, in my opinion—, and get to visit the beachy paradise called St. Lucia. Here is your day-by-day trip plan for this longer itinerary, with the added days in bold:

Day 0: Arrival (sleep in Drakensberg)
Day 1: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 2: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 3: Drakensberg (sleep there)
Day 4: Drakensberg (sleep St. Lucia)

Day 5: St. Lucia (sleep St. Lucia)
Day 6: St. Lucia (sleep St. Lucia)
Day 7: Flight to Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 8: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 9: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 10: Cape Town (sleep in Cape Town)
Day 11: Stellenbosch/Franschhoek wine region (sleep there)
Day 12: Garden Route (sleep in Sedgefield)
Day 13: Garden Route (sleep in Sedgefield)
Day 14: Garden Route (sleep in Port Elizabeth)
Day 15: Addo Elephant Park (sleep in Port Elizabeth)
Day 16: Flight to Mpumalanga province (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 17: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 18: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 19: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger)
Day 20: Kruger (sleep close to Kruger) or add a day for the Panorama Route instead
Day 21: Panorama Route
Day 21: Departure

Now, I’ll describe the extra days I’ve added; everything else stays the same as in the 2-week itinerary.

3-week itinerary days 3 and 4: More Drakensberg

Drakensberg hiking views in South Africa

Because it’s hard to get enough of the Drakensberg’s stunning views

Hotel recommendation: Dalmore Guest Farm
Further reading: Top day hikes in Drakensberg | Unforgettable activities in South Africa

You have two extra days in Drakensberg compared to the 14-day South Africa itinerary, and once you see Drakensberg, you’ll be happy that you do. There are so many epic hikes in these mountains it’s just ridiculous.

I have an entire article about the best day hikes in Drakensberg that you can choose from, but if I had 4 days in Drakensberg, this is what I’d do:

Day 1: Tugela Gorge
Day 2: Tugela Falls
Day 3: Rainbow Gorge and Baboon Rock
Day 4: Champagne Valley’s Breakfast Stream hike OR Hike to Van Heyningen’s Pass viewpoint (both are similarly long and difficult and in the same area)

You can stay at Dalmore Guest Farm for the entire duration of your Drakensberg stay. Like I said up in the 2-week itinerary, this accommodation was a complete gem and an experience in itself, so the longer you can stay, the luckier you are.

Here are the descriptions of the Drakensberg hikes I’ve added to the itinerary:

Tugela Falls hike

Tugela Falls hike in South Africa

Tugela Falls hike was tough but sooo worth it

On day 3, return to the epic Tugela Falls and climb that bad boy. After all, it may be the tallest waterfall on the planet! What do I mean by “may”? I describe the whole record controversy in my day hikes in Drakensberg article, but a Czech expedition (shout out to my countrymen!) re-measured Tugela Falls in 2016, ending up with an impressive number: 983 m (3,225 ft)! Yep, that’s more than Angel Falls’ 979 m (3,212 ft).

The wort part of the Tugela Falls hike is the drive to the trailhead at Sentinel Car Park. You should only attempt the drive yourself if you have a good 4x4 and have pretty good offroading skills. The road is extremely bumpy, which is why most people leave their car at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge and take their shuttle instead. For ZAR 170 they take hikers to the Sentinel Car Park and then back again. It’s a 30-minute drive from the lodge to the Sentinel Car Park. You’ll get a taste of what the road is like driving to Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge, so you can then decide if you’ll go all the way or not.

Tugela Falls hike stats:

Hike length: 12 km (7.5 miles)
Elevation gain: 780 m (2,560 ft)
Difficulty level: Moderate to hard 
Hiking time: About 5 hours
Parking and trailheadSentinel Car Park on Google Maps

The Tugela Falls trail is famous for its hair-raising chain ladder section, which is not only fun to climb, but it’s a hoot people-watching, especially the people that don’t think it’s such a hoot. After the ladders, most of the way is pretty flat and you get to the waterfall in about 20 minutes.

Most of the Tugela Falls hike is a steady uphill climb, but there are a few spots where you can venture off the path accidentally, so use a good map. This hike has incredible views of the Amphitheatre, Devil’s Tooth, and the Inner Tower.

Chain ladders on the Tugela Falls hike in South Africa

Go up or go home!

There are two ways to reach Tugela Falls in the final section: the chain ladders, or through the Beacon Buttress gully, which is preferred by those who soil their merino underwear at the sight of the epic chain ladders that are so much fun. The gully walk is a steep, narrow, and very rocky (requires scrambling) path and can be wet or full of ice unless you go smack in the middle of summer. I did the chain ladders, obviously.

Beware that you’ll be up in almost 3,000 m (9,800 ft), meaning your body could start experiencing some difficulty due to the altitude. You’ve read up on altitude sickness, right?

Champagne Valley’s Breakfast Stream hike

Champagne Valley in South Africa

Welcome to Champagne Valley!

A simple hour-long drive from Dalmore Guest Farm is Monk’s Cowl Campsite, which is where you can leave your car, sign yourself in and pay a small fee and head off into Champagne Valley. You want to start early in the morning in preparation for the long drive to St. Lucia after your hike.

Hike length: 6.6 km (4 miles)
Elevation gain: 530 m (1740 ft)
Difficulty level: Moderate
Hiking time: 3 hours
Parking and trailhead: Monk’s Cowl Campsite—see it on Google Maps

The first 30 minutes of this trail are slightly boring (through a forest), but then, once you start the steady climb, it’s all views and wonders. You’ll be walking along a dirt path, lots of time on the slope of the hill, but never anything too serious to worry about vertigo. Then you’ll pass Crystal Falls, and then the cool rock formation of the Sphinx. Right before you reach the stream, you can go an extra 15 minutes up a trail that leads to Verkykers Kop for some more epic views.

You can easily add on more kms to this hike if you feel like it (preferably one where you don’t have to drive to St. Lucia right after). Include Keartland’s Pass and Blind Man's Corner to turn it into a 12-km (7.5 mi) loop hike, or, if you’re a real animal, you could potentially summit Sterkhorn in what is one of the most rewarding hikes in the Drakensberg. You won't have time for it if you leave it for your last day in Drakensberg though (it’s an all-day affair). See the Sterkhorn hike details on Alltrails.

Hike to Van Heyningen’s Pass viewpoint

Hike to Van Heyningen’s Pass viewpoint in South Africa

The path on the flat with beautiful views

An alternative to Champagne Valley is this hike to Van Heyningen’s Pass viewpoint. This is an almost flat trail through fairytale surroundings, up until you get to the short climb at the end. Picture yourself hopping over streams, prancing among the wildflowers, and then weaving your way among the trees, only to end up on top of the mountain, taking in the dramatic views all around you. It could be the perfect place to wave au revoir Drakensberg before you head off to St. Lucia for some beach time.

Van Heyningen’s Pass viewpoint trail stats:

Hike length: 8 km (5 miles)
Elevation gain: 400 m (1000 ft)
Difficulty level: Easy
Hiking time: 3.5 hours
Parking and trailhead: Injisuthi Camp —see it on Google Maps

After following a stream, frolicking among flowers and baboons, and taking a narrow, rocky forest path, you’ll then hike up a narrow gorge, passing all kinds of rock formations, until you finally reach the top where the views open up into what seems like infinity. The perfect good-bye to Drakensberg.

Drive from Drakensberg to St. Lucia

Map with route from Drakensberg to St. Lucia on 3-week South Africa itinerary

Get the route on Google Maps

The drive to St. Lucia will take you 6 hours, so you really need to budget your time for today. The trip won’t give you any trouble as you’ll be on the highway for most of the way, especially if you take the most straightforward way through Durban. Yes, it’s long, but you’re in for some of the most beautiful beachy scenery ever. In and out of the water!

3-week itinerary days 5 and 6: St. Lucia’s beaches and iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Map of St. Lucia coast in South Africa

The drive from St. Lucia town to Sodwana Bay will take you 2.5 hours

Hotel recommendations: Maputaland Guest House | Leopard Corner Lodge
Further reading: Most Beautiful Beaches in South Africa | Unforgettable activities in South Africa

Wondering why you drove all this way? Here’s why:

Santa Lucia is a small town in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (UNESCO) up in the northern half of Kwazulu Natal province. In Zulu, the name of the park translates to “place of great wonders and miracles”. The beaches are endless and pristine, and this is the place to go to see what it feels like to be on a deserted island—definitely pack your snacks and water if you’re venturing out, because there is no food stand or Wilson to help you survive out there.

Even the wetlands are inviting… if you want to take a walk among hippos, leopards, and crocodiles. You can, at the Estuary boardwalk—just believe the signs letting you know that these animals aren’t of the cuddly type. Though how dangerous could it be—I saw people happily taking their dogs and kids on the boardwalk, and there are picnic tables spread throughout the area, so either the danger isn’t that imminent, or people are just ready to use their offspring and pets as live shields.

The Estuary boarwalk in St. Lucia, South Africa
The Estuary Boardwalk and the acknowledgement of not-so-cuddly wildlife

The wildlife at iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa

Wildlife in and out of the water in iSimangaliso Wetland Park

At the northern end of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, 150 km (95 mi) from Santa Lucia, is Sodwana Bayone of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa, but it’s not wonderful on land—7 Mile Reef attracts divers from around the world. Think whale sharks, great white sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, leatherback turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, and millions of colorful fish.

A couple walking at Sodwana Bay, South Africa

The wild and beautiful beach at Sodwana Bay

So, yeah, St. Lucia warrants 2 days of your 3-week itinerary... the 2-week itinerary people will be jealous, because they won’t get to see it at all, at least not on this South Africa vacation. Maybe next time, folks!

3-week itinerary day 7: Travel from St. Lucia to Cape Town

Map of travel from St. Lucia to Cape Town travel day, South Africa

The earlier you start your travel day, the more time you’ll have to hang out at V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel (my pick) | The Glen Boutique Hotel (another charmer on the seafront)
Further reading: Best boutique hotels in South Africa | Best Drakensberg Day Hikes | 20 Best Things to Do in Cape Town

Hopefully your swimsuit had enough time to dry, because today, you need to stuff it back into your suitcase and head over to Cape Town.

First, drive 3 hours to Durban where you will return your rental car and then hop on a 2.5-hour flight to Cape Town.

Once in Cape Town, rent a car and check into either DysArt Boutique Hotel and The Glen Boutique Hotel. Both of them are tried and recommended by your truly, and their location is close to the V&A Waterfront, aka the best place to spend your evenings in Cape Town. For more on South Africa’s hotels, see my luxury and boutique hotel picks.

3-week itinerary days 19 and 20: Extra Kruger days

Elephant in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Welcome back!

Hotel recommendations: Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge | Little Kubu Lodge
Further readingPlan Your Trip to Kruger National Park | Tips for Spotting Wildlife in Kruger

These two days of your 3-week itinerary will be dedicated to the animals at Kruger National Park, giving you 4 days in Kruger in total. I get it if 4 seems like too much to you, I personally get bored at safaris after 2 days max... but Kruger completely changed my mind. I literally planned for just 2 days, but ended up moving my itinerary around to allow for 2 extra—it was that good!

The diversity of wildlife and landscapes in Kruger National Park is astounding, and the thrill of spotting animals in their natural habitat is just irresistible, day after day. If you're anything like me (i.e. a little OCD) and possess that nagging obsession to check off every animal in your guidebook, well, four days will barely suffice.

But as much as I’m tinkering with the thought to tell you to get there at the crack of dawn every day and stay until closing time, I have to be realistic: long safari days can be very exhausting. So what we did was go in at the break of dawn on a couple of days, stayed into the evening on another day, and pulled off one very long, full-day tour. It’s a good idea to give yourself time to rest in between Kruger visits so you can still appreciate it and don’t get burnt out. I can’t recommend Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge enough for this. Not only is it basically a comfortable hotel room that’s outside, but it’s in its own private nature reserve, so you’ll be spotting animals right from your private terrace!

Here’s my full Kruger National Park Guide, and another detailed article just about how to get the best animals sightings in Kruger. With these two information-packed guides, you’ll get the most out of your Kruger visit.

Panorama Route in South Africa

Panorama Route will keep you entertained for 2 days straight!

Tip: Alternatively, if flying through the Panorama Route tomorrow on the way back to Johannesburg seems like a shame, you could do 3 days in Kruger and leave 2 days for the Panorama Route. Naturally, I have an itinerary for both one and two days on the Panorama Route. We did it in one, but I’d definitely enjoy it more at the more leisurely pace of 2 days.

That’s all, folks! Your 2- or 3-week South Africa itinerary is complete. Make sure to go through my other South Africa articles in case you want to switch some stops, but clearly I’ve already chosen the best of the best. This is the itinerary that I just did myself, so it’s tried and tested and was very much enjoyed. Let me know in the comments if you loved it or changed it up!

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you make bookings through my links, at no additional cost to you. This helps keep this blog free, thank you!


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About me

About me

Hi! I’m Jan. I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I try to experience the best the world has to offer, and I don’t cease to be impressed. But if I’m not, I’m sure going to tell you! You can count on my full honesty and real opinions here. No bullcrap. I own and run several companies, which gives me great (but not unlimited) freedom to roam the world.  

I was first inspired to start this blog by my own experience of researching for upcoming trips—I often struggle with a lack of good information, accuracy, and authenticity of resources. You wouldn’t believe how many “travel bloggers” don’t even visit the destinations they write about! 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with complex and practical information so that you can plan your own vacation, complete with insights you’d only get if you visited the place. I also put together itineraries that are fully planned out trip guides.

Another aspect that drives this platform is my curiosity about the history, geography, politics, and economy of each country I visit, so I try to include this information in my articles, too. It’s always great to get the bigger picture, right? 

And just to be clear, I am not trying to compete with backpacking blogs or provide hacks for an economical and affordable experience. My vacations follow the standard pattern of traveling by plane, staying in good hotels, and renting a car on the spot to get around. I’m also always up for a fantastic meal, though I don’t shy away from local delicacies and street food, either.  

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