Looking to maximize your time in South Africa? Check out our 2-week itinerary in South Africa, hitting hot spots in Cape Town and Johannesburg, a unique safari experience in Kruger National Park and an easy detour to Victoria Falls.
Let’s face it — there is no quick trip to South Africa. This flight is a haul! Our itinerary below can be modified (if you aren’t a morning person) or if you just want to keep plans flexible. What’s great about this itinerary is that it balances out city, adventure and animals. We promise that you won’t get bored!
Day 1 – Travel Day
- Fun day of travel from Los Angeles and transfer in Amsterdam — catch up on movies and enjoy being disconnected.
Day 2 – Travel Day
- Travel Day: Practically the longest flight ever. From LA to Cape Town, it’s over 22 hours of travel!
- 9:30 PM, Flight arrives in Cape Town.
- Check into the Cape Heritage Hotel – 5 nights ($175 USD a night).
- Fantastic hotel – can’t beat the central location and service.
Day 3 – Cape Town, South Africa
- 7 AM, start your day early and enjoy the hotel’s hearty breakfast to energize for the day.
- 8:15 AM, depart for Table Mountain and take the 8:30 AM aerial tramway to the top, beating all the crowds.
- 12 – 2 PM, explore the watershed (shopping complex) then Two Oceans Aquarium ($13 USD per person) located at Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
- 2 PM, head to seaside Life Grand Cafe and enjoy a coffee or South African wine.
- 3:00-6:30 PM Robben Island Tour (arrive 20 min early) – $26 USD per person.
- Meeting location: Nelson Mandela Gateway, right at the waterfront.
- Tour includes return boat trip, tour of the infamous maximum security prison led by an ex-political prisoner, view of Nelson Mandela’s cell and a 45-minute bus ride on the island with commentary.
- Advanced reservations needed year round; we have to admit that this tour was not very good. It’s a major landmark in Cape Town — and glad we saw it — but keep expectations low.
- Evening: Take Uber and explore De Waterkant to shop and get caffeinated at Origins Coffee Shop
- 8:30 PM: Make advanced reservation at Kloof Street House. Meals with wine and dessert came to just $25 USD per person.
- Set in a magnificent Victorian house, Kloof Street House once served as a gentlemen’s club, and the decor today, with its red velvet, candelabras, and antique lamps still channels that vibe.
Day 4 – Cape Town, South Africa
- 4:30 AM – 5:30 PM, full day of Great White shark cage diving ($150 USD per person).
- Over the past 5 years, the shark population has been dwindling. Chance of seeing sharks is fairly low (even in high season).
- On our trip, we saw 2 sharks briefly — no Great Whites.
- We have a difficult time recommending this activity. It’s a unique experience, but it’s a lot of effort. With that said, our tour operation — Extreme Scene — was very professional and offered a repeat trip for free if you don’t see Great Whites. We had no interest in repeating!
- 6:30-9:30 PM Dinner and show at Gate 69 ($35 USD per person).
- Located across the street from the Cape Heritage Hotel, it is a very easy 5 minute walk.
- Advanced reservations necessary for this lively drag show with an actual story line!
Day 5 – Cape Town, South Africa
- 7 AM, up early (again!) for some great breakfast at the Cape Heritage Hotel.
- 8 AM, take Uber to Boulder Beach in Simon’s Town (30 minute drive South of central Cape Town).
- We originally planned to kayak among the penguins, but the tour company cancelled upon arrival.
- We recommend saving your money — skip kayaking and visiting the penguins at Boulder Beach ($5 USD entry).
- Boardwalks lead right up to hundreds of penguins!
- 12 – 1:30 PM, visit District Six Museum, a museum that recounts how this section of Cape Town was declared a “whites only” zone and the non-white residents were forcibly kicked out.
- Well worth the stop — be sure to take one of the guided tours with a former resident recounting what it was like during apartheid.
- 4-5:30 PM, historic Bo-Kaap Walking Tour (Free!)
- Guided walking tour hits up all the major highlights in the Cape Malay neighborhood. This stop made our top 5 things to do in Cape Town List.
- After tour, walk to nearby De Waterkant neighborhood for some coffee and shopping.
- 7-10 PM, grab dinner – we went to the Old Biscuit Mill, a factory-turned shopping complex. It typically closes early evenings but the last Wednesday of each month they host an evening market.
- Burrata is a lively dinner spot in the Old Biscuit Mill. Dinner is $25 USD per person with dessert and wine.
Day 6 – Stellenbosch Wine Country and Cape Town
- After breakfast at the hotel, you’re just a short 10 minute walk to the meeting spot for your day trip to Stellenbosch.
- 9 AM- 5 PM, Bikes N’ Wines Adventure Tour ($60 USD per person).
- Tour includes tastings at three smaller, boutique wineries in the Stellenbosch wine region.
- The cycling route takes you along private farm roads through the breathtaking vineyards of the area.
- Evening: Grab dinner at a fun spot like Stardust with performances all evening. Or make advanced reservations for your last night in Cape Town at the city’s most famous restaurant The Test Kitchen.
- We went to a local movie chain called Ster Kinekor Cavendish, which offered reclining lounge chairs and food. We would likely skip this experience if we had to do it again. Living in LA, we’re spoiled with theaters like iPic.
Day 7 – Kruger National Park, South Africa
- CemAir – Flight from Cape Town to Hoedspruit (near Kruger), $240 USD per person.
- 11:30 AM, depart Cape Town, 1:45 PM Arrive in Hoedspruit.
- Super easy and nice flight. Highly recommend this direct option.
- Pick up car rental at Avis to do self-driving safari, $30 USD per day
- Great service and upgraded to SUV.
- Ask for the higher comprehensive protection (trust us!).
- Drive 30 minutes to Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre for a 4 PM safari tour ($11 USD per person).
- A major highlight, this 2-hour tour takes you through its protected enclosures where you learn about local wildlife.
- Drive 30 minutes to Unembeza Boutique Lodge – 1 night for $160 USD.
- Highly recommended, best hotel in all of Africa.
- Arrived at 7 PM, just in time for the multi-course dinner, which is just $60 USD total including wine.
Day 8 – Kruger National Park, South Africa
- 5 AM, wake up! Okay, today is a VERY early wake-up but totally worth it.
- Arrange a breakfast with the Unembeza Lodge the night before, they are really accommodating and put together great breakfast (that lasted most of our morning/afternoon).
- 6 AM, depart Unembeza Lodge and drive 1 hour to the Orpen Gate at Kruger National Park. We immediately saw giraffes roaming the road as soon as we left our lodge.
- You’ll drive about 7 hours today — doing a self-guided safari. This is honestly the best experience especially if you like to explore on your own. We were so happy we decided to do this by our own rental car. See the full self-guided Kruger itinerary here.
- 6 PM (or dusk), arrive at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp for the evening ($20-$95 USD for the night depending on the room).
- Pretoriuskop is the original camp in the park, meaning it’s old and not that fancy.
- We recommend getting the nicer room, which is still pretty rough in our opinion.
- 8 PM, arrange a night drive through the Pretoriuskop Rest Camp (or preferably book this tour when you make your accommodations in the park). It’s about $20 USD per person.
- The night drives area ton of fun. You get to see some animals that are most active at night. We saw an entire pack of hyenas that surrounded our truck.
Day 9 – Victoria Fall in Livingstone, Zambia
- 8 AM, depart Pretoriuskop Camp and drive to Nelspruit Airport.
- 11:30 AM, South African Airways direct from Nelspruit to Livingstone, Zambia.
- Super quick flight and not a bad airport to wait either – shopping and a nice cafe!
- 1:10 PM, arrive in Livingstone, Zambia and check into Protea Hotel, Marriott Livingstone ($200 USD a night).
- 4 PM, pick up time from hotel and transfer to boat dock to travel to The Elephant Cafe.
- This is by far one of the most memorable experiences we had in all our travels.
- Experience includes a jet boat among animals, feeding elephants and personalized dining experience. We were the only people in the entire place the night we dined!
- Read our full experience on the Elephant Cafe here.
- You arrive back around 9:30 PM at the hotel.
Day 10 – Victoria Fall in Livingstone, Zambia
- 7:30 AM, pick-up at hotel for a Microlight Tour with Batoka Sky (aka crazy helicopter for 2 people), cost $185 USD per person.
- This is another incredible experience, and frightening! Only 15 minutes, but that’s all you’ll need. You will get a birds-eye view of Victoria Falls.
- 12:15 PM, Meet at Royal Livingstone Hotel sundeck to take a dip in the famed Devil’s Pool at the top of Victoria Falls organized by the swanky Tongabezi Lodge.
- 12:30-3:15 PM, Devil’s Pool tour includes a swim at the top followed by lunch on Livingstone Island, open during the dry season (generally mid-August to mid-January). $165 USD per person.
- After tour, freshen up and walk into downtown Livingstone to explore market.
- 5 PM, relax with a latte and wifi at the comfy Kubu Cafe.
- 7:30 PM, grab relaxed dinner at Cafe Zambezi. Head to the back outdoor patio where they have a selection of African and international dishes.
Day 11 – Johannesburg, South Africa
- 9 AM, join the Lion Encounter where you’ll get to walk among these massive cats.
- You’ll get a quick lesson on how to approach the lions in the wild (slowly!) and walk through the bush with them (always from behind!)
- About 6 guides will join you “just to answer questions” (right!). It was incredible to see these powerful animals so close.
- Take early afternoon flight from Livingstone to Johannesburg.
- We took British Airways leaving at 1:30 PM and arriving in Johannesburg at 3:15 PM (allowing time to explore at night).
- Upon arrival in Johannesburg, take an Uber or the convenient Gautrain to the Monarch Hotel – 1 night ($200 USD).
- Hotel is right in the thick of the action in a mall complex in Rosebank, in the Northern suburbs. Highly recommended.
- 5 PM, visit the African Craft Market only steps from the hotel to pick up last minute gifts (check hotel on closing time. Weekdays its typically open until 7 PM).
- 6-7 PM, we hung out at South Africa’s only Starbucks located next to the market. We relaxed and used the free Wifi to call our Uber
- Evening, we ventured to Melville, about a 10 minute Uber ride from Rosebank.
- This is a great place to visit for dinner.
- If it’s a Wednesday night, stop by shopping complex 27Boxes, which hosts a night market. This is the place to be on a Wednesday night with live music, tarot card readings and art!
- After exploring the market, we had dinner at one of the best places we ate at in Africa called Lucky Bean. The restaurant is low-key and specializes in South African dishes.
Day 12 – Johannesburg, South Africa
- 9 AM, enjoy breakfast included with the Monarch Hotel.
- 9:30 AM – 4:15 PM, join Illios Travel($100 USD per person) for tour of the Soweto township.
- Soweto, on the south-western flank of Johannesburg, was created in the 1930s. It is the biggest black urban settlement in Africa with a rich political history.
- Full day also includes Apartheid Museum, which is worth visiting Johannesburg alone.
- 4:30-5 PM, after the tour catch a cab or Uber to the Maboneng Precinct — an area that was once a no-go area. But now is home to a concentration of art galleries and cafes.
- 7-9 PM, spend your evening at one of Johannesburg’s many night markets.
- Facebook is a fantastic way to discover local events, you can also visit the local events site here.
- We found an amazing nighttime art festival in Rosebank — held only on the first Thursday of the month.
- While Johannesburg might not look like much on the surface, you’ll find there is so much more if you give it a chance!
- 11:15 PM, it’s the end of our trip. We’re so sad to leave! We board the long flight back to Los Angeles, with a layover in Amsterdam.
Day 13 – Travel Day
- Travel day, arrive back in Los Angeles at 2:45 PM.
- Hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did!