Ten days in South Africa: a whistle-stop tour for first timers


South Africa has it all. Idyllic beaches, sun-kissed vineyards, lush tropical coastline, dramatic mountain ranges, iconic wildlife reserves and vibrant cities. The country boasts an enormous variety in terms of scenery and pastimes. Affordable and accessible too, it’s this combination that has seen South Africa become one of the world’s top tourism destinations. 

Beautiful Vineyards and mountain views in the Cape Winelands

While you could easily spend months exploring this beautiful country, and still not have seen everything, a well-planned itinerary over ten days will give you a good taste of what it has to offer. 


Most international flights either land in Johannesburg or Cape Town, which will be used as the springboard for your onwards journey. If you are looking to experience a true African vibrant city, kick off your holiday with a tour of Johannesburg. It was founded on the gold mining industry, and is now South Africa’s commercial center with a thriving nightlife, arts and fashion scene and makes an impactful and surprising first impression of the country. 

Adding a safari experience is a must in every trip to South Africa, with most first time visitors opting to visit the famous Kruger National Park. It is an accessible drive from Johannesburg (at least 6 hours by car), but is well serviced by direct flights from Cape Town or Johannesburg directly to the Kruger safari area of choice. The Kruger National Park is one of the world’s most famous game reserves. Boasting the Big 5, a myriad of bird and wildlife species, scenic landscapes and a plethora of lodges in a number of private game reserves forming the Greater Kruger National Park, offering unforgettable immersion into the wilderness. Do note that there are many other excellent game reserves in South Africa (some more easily accessible depending on where in the country you choose to visit – chat to one of our African travel experts for more information). 

Game reserves of South Africa offer excellent safari experiences with highly trained guides

A firm summer favourite is to visit the Garden Route. This scenic 300-kilometre stretch of coastline is named for its beautiful vegetation and terrain ranging from forests and lakes to rivers, mountains, beaches and bays. Along this route, travellers have the opportunity to enjoy various sporting endeavors like fishing, sailing and hiking. The Garden Route is not only a paradise for adrenaline junkies! This region is also dotted with charming beach destinations that are perfect for a relaxing getaway. Look into Plettenberg Bay, a glamorous resort town known for nature sanctuaries, wineries and beautiful beaches, as well as Knysna (a picturesque and low-key seaside haven) and Wilderness (a sleepy, rustic beach hamlet). 

Robberg Beach in Plettenberg Bay, The Garden Route

An exploration of the Whale Route (preferably during the winter months of June to October when these migratory mammals return to calve) should form the next stop on your itinerary. This annual spectacle, best appreciated from towns in the Overberg region (including Hermanus, Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay) is a memorable sight to see and allows you to witness nature at its most miraculous as these magnificent creatures breach and play only metres from the coast!

Whale Route in Hermanus , Garden Route

Cape Town is on everyone’s bucket list – one of the world’s most stunning and leisure-oriented destinations! The striking natural beauty, thriving culinary scene and mix of cultures have made it perennially popular among travellers of all types. With everything in relatively close proximity, a morning hike up iconic Table Mountain can be followed by breakfast at one of the hundreds of charming nearby eateries and a visit to a top art gallery or designer boutique within the city bowl. Afterwards, you’ll still have time for a walk on the beach or sundowners at a bar on the famous Camps Bay strip. Be sure to factor leisurely afternoon excursions to Cape Point and the charming village hubs of Kalk Bay and Noordhoek into your itinerary too!

Views of Table Mountain and Cape Town’s city bowl from atop Lions Head

A few nights in the Cape Winelands – a short drive from the city – is an absolute must, and a relaxing and luxurious way to wind down your visit! Arguably one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, the Cape Winelands is made up of the towns of Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch, it’s a wine lover’s paradise home to hundreds of cellars, farms and tasting rooms offering award-winning wines made by celebrated winemakers. It also boasts some of South Africa’s best restaurants, making it one of the country’s premier culinary hubs. 

Fabulous wine tasting with beautiful scenery.

When planning your trip, consider adding another nearby destination to your itinerary.  A popular choice is a visit to Victoria Falls, which is a short flight from South Africa. Similarly, Mauritius (only a four-hour flight from South Africa) and or Botswana, are excellent complimentary destinations to include on your trip to South Africa.  

Ten days is limited, but it is definitely enough time to experience all of the fantastic experiences that South Africa has to offer. Chat to Safari365 to get planning.

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