If you want to escape to an exotic, culturally diverse destination, you cannot go wrong with South Africa. Located in the southernmost point of the African continent, this country is renowned for its diverse ecosystems which include golden sandy beaches, forests, rich Winelands, and one of the best safari destinations in the world. As the country has a great airways network, you can fly between your chosen destinations and see the best that the country has to offer in just 10 days. A trip to South Africa will charge your batteries for the rest of the year and if you plan your itinerary right, you will have so many diverse experiences that you will feel like you have visited several countries.
Day 1-3: Cape Town
The port city of Cape Town is the largest in South Africa, and you will need three days to explore it and its surroundings. This is where the imposing Table Mountain meets the pristine beaches of the Atlantic and all this mesmerizing scenery is centered around a vibrant urban landscape. Most people will want to start their visit with Table Mountain, but it is best to plan a more relaxing first day to recover from your flight.
Invest the first day in an urban experience and dive into the city’s heart. There are numerous things to do, depending on your preferences. On Saturdays, you can visit the Neighbourgoods Market, where you will get to experience a rich infusion of cultures and do a little light shopping. If you like to snack when you shop, here you will find numerous street food artisans. If you are in the mood for a more cosmopolitan experience, you can visit the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art. Families with kids can also choose between numerous fun activities, such as visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Green Point Park, or the Iziko South African Museum. You can have lunch at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront where there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. We recommend the Den Anker restaurant which has a great view of Table Mountain. In the evening, go to Camps Bay beach and enjoy the sun setting into the ocean. End your day at the nearby Chincilla Rooftop Bar, the best people-watching spot in town.
On the second day of your holiday, get up early and head over to Table Mountain where you will enjoy some spectacular views. The mountain offers its best views at the beginning of the temperate winter when the sunny moments alternate with downpours which gives the mountain’s lush vegetation a juicy green shade. If you are in good shape you can hike up the mountain, but you must start your hike early in the morning, to have fewer chances of windy weather. If hiking is not your thing, you can take the aerial cableway to try the circular walking route which is less demanding.
On your third day, wake up early in the morning and head over to the Cape Point National Park where you can enjoy a wide variety of historical spots, watch the whales migration (from June to October), spot the local fauna, and keep a lookout for the legendary Ghost Ship, the Flying Dutchman. From the Cape Point National Park, head over to Boulders Beach to visit the African penguins. This is also a great spot for a swim and a little sunbathing. Depending on how much energy you have got left, you can retire for the day or you can spend your late afternoon at a wine tasting in Constantia, the oldest winery in the new world.
Day 4-5: Johannesburg
As South Africa’s financial capital, Johannesburg is a place worth visiting. You should plan your domestic flights in advance, so you can book British Airways flights from Cape Town directly to Johannesburg. The flight is only two hours long and you will arrive there rested and ready to continue your adventure.
On the first day in Johannesburg, start your day with a lazy breakfast. The city has some excellent breakfast places such as Salvation Café on Stanley Avenue or Voodoo Lily Café where you can enjoy delicious yet sustainable local food. After breakfast, the best way to take in the full city experience is to jump on a sightseeing bus. History fans should visit Constitution Hill, an old military fort turned into a prison or Apartheid museum which will provide an emotional rollercoaster that takes through the horrendous apartheid era. End your day with a light exploration of the city’s nightlife, in the Melville suburb. You cannot go wrong with Hell’s Kitchen or Mootebar.
On your second day head over to the eastern part of the city for a more artistic experience. In the Maboneng district where several abandon places have been turned into art studios and galleries. The district’s name means “place of light” and it perfectly describes this cultural hug where you will find unique cafes and restaurants. If you are into spicy food, you can’t miss Little Addis, a great Ethiopian restaurant, but you should also stop at the Pata Pata where you can experience traditional African cuisine. End your day at Shakers, a casual cocktail bar visited mostly by locals.
Day 6: George
From Johannesburg, you can head over to George with Mango Airlines. Just make sure to manage your Mango bookings in advance to benefit from the best deals. A single day is not enough to see everything that the city has to offer, but since not all people are open to the same experiences, each can choose what would bring the most joy. For example, if the hike to Table Mountain left you longing for more mountain adventures, you can explore the Outeniqua Mountains. If you want to relax more during your visit here, you can visit the Garden Route Botanical Garden or the Victoria Bay. Adrenaline lovers will also find some nice experience in George such as abseiling at the Kaaimans Gorge, sandboarding at the nearby dunes, or quad biking on the Garden Route and Little Karoo. No matter how you choose to spend your day here, make sure to also follow the Food Trail that falls along George’s Garden Route.
Day 7-10: Kruger National Park
From George to Kruger you will have to take a domestic flight through Johannesburg, but it will be worth it because we saved the best for last. Obviously, your trip cannot end without visiting one of the largest game reserves in the world. Spreading over 19 485 square kilometers, this reserve captures the heart of Africa, which is why it should be the last place you visit and the one you will remember most vividly. $ days in Kruger will not guarantee to spot specific animals, but it is enough to provide plenty of opportunities. Before coming here, you should book some activities such as a sunset drive, dinner in the bush, a bush walk with armed rangers, a game drive, a visit to Blyde Canyon, and obviously a drive on an open game viewer jeep.
If you leave George in the morning, you will arrive in the late afternoon in Kruger, so for the evening, you can plan a visit to the Balule Private Game Reserve. You can stay at the Tremisana Lodge which is right inside the Private Game reserve. Tracking down the animals at might is indeed a unique experience. You will see plenty of giraffes and elephants and if you are lucky maybe even a leopard. After the night safari experience, you can enjoy dinner in the bush under the moonlight.
During the next days, you can enjoy several other bush walks and safari drives. Make sure both warm and breathable clothes as most activities will take place in the early morning or at night. Moreover, for day walks, you will have to wear clothes in earthy, natural shades, so you blend in with the environment. Every activity here will be like nothing you have ever experience before. You will learn to use your senses more, as each cracking sound can be an opportunity to see an amazing animal in its natural habitat. You will learn to use your eyes to spot animals in the dark or to spot tracks.
While the safari drives are more relaxing, the walks in the bushes are more thrilling and if you allow yourself to be present, you can experience some ancestral Deja-vu feelings, genetic memories from other lives, when we used to hunt for food and protect ourselves from other predators.
On your third day, however, you should take some game drives, as a drive provides more opportunities to see exotic animals. You can expect to see giraffes, elephants, hippos, lions, leopards, impalas, wildebeests, water buffalos, monkeys, zebras, kudus, and many more, not to mention the amazing local flora. Day 4 should be reserved for the Blyde River Canyon where you will hike to several outlook points that will reveal some mesmerizing landscapes. A visit to the Kruger National Park is indeed a once in a lifetime experience, which will leave you feeling richer and with a deeper understanding of life.
In a nutshell, these are the highlights of South Africa, and this is one itinerary that can help you make the most of a 10-day trip here. Nonetheless, expect this trip to leave you hungry for more, as South Africa is the type of country that you will want to visit over and over again.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.