South Africa has it all. Idyllic beaches, rolling sun-kissed vineyards, lush tropical coastline, dramatic mountain ranges, iconic wildlife reserves and vibrant cities – enormous variety in terms of scenery and pastimes. Affordable, and accessible too, it’s this trifecta that has seen it become one of the world’s top tourism destinations.
While one could easily spend months exploring the length and breadth of this beautiful country, and still not have seen everything, a well-planned itinerary over a couple of weeks will give you a good taste of what it has to offer. From downtime at the coast, to countryside excursions and urban diversions, a fortnight in South Africa fulfills the full spectrum of holiday requirements.
If your international flight lands in Johannesburg, why not kick off your tour in vibrant Johannesburg, an exciting and dynamic city founded on the gold mining industry. Now a commercial centre, it also has a thriving nightlife and arts and fashion scene and makes an impactful and surprising first impression of the country.
After the energy and buzz of a night or two in Johannesburg, head off on safari – the Kruger National Park is easily drivable from the city and is one of the world’s most famous game reserves. Boasting the Big 5, myriad bird and wildlife species, scenic landscapes and a plethora of lodges, the reserve offers unforgettable immersion into the wilderness and is a must for anyone visiting South Africa.
Next, make your way down the scenic Garden Route – a 300-kilometre stretch of coastline so called 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 endeavours like fishing, sailing and hiking. Not just a paradise for adrenaline junkies though, this region is dotted with charming beach destinations that lend themselves to myriad leisure pursuits. 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 haven) and Wilderness (a sleepy, rustic beach hamlet).
An exploration of the Whale Route (preferably during the winter months of June to October as 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.
Next, Cape Town – one of the world’s most stunning and leisure-oriented destinations – whose striking natural beauty, thriving culinary scene and cultural heft 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 hundreds of charming nearby eateries or a visit to a top art gallery or designer boutique within the city bowl, still leaving time for a walk on the beach later or sundowners at a bar on the famous Camps Bay strip. Factor leisurely afternoon excursions to Cape Point, and the charming village hubs of Kalk Bay and Noordhoek in to your itinerary too.
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, made up by the towns of Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch, it’s an oenophile’s paradise offering hundreds of cellars, farms and tasting rooms to patronize and award-winning wines made by celebrated winemakers. It also boasts some of SA’s best restaurants, making it one of the country’s premier culinary hubs.
When planning your trip, consider adding on another nearby destination to your itinerary. A popular choice, for its easy travel time from SA is a visit to Victoria Falls. Likewise, Mauritius (only a four-hour flight from South Africa) is an excellent complementary destination to include.