14 day South Africa Itinerary: Cape Town, Garden Route & Safari By Car
Many people ask how long they should spend in South Africa and my answer is always the same: “As long as possible!” But we can’t all travel the world full time, so 2 weeks in South Africa is a good start, to allow you to see the best parts of this area and leave you wanting more. I hope my 14 Day South Africa Itinerary is helpful for you in planning your trip!
South Africa is one of the most culturally rich and beautifully diverse destinations I’ve ever travelled to. Cape Town is one of those cities that everyone tells you you’ll love, and when you get there you love it even more. The Garden Route is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and South Africa is of course one of the best destinations on the planet to see the Big Five on Safari. This 14 Day South Africa Itinerary captures all of this and more.
Days 1, 2 & 3: Cape Town
Cape Town’s International Airport is where you’ll start your time in South Africa. Spend your first 3 days enjoying everything this amazing city has to offer – I guarantee you’ll want to stay here longer!
If you’re into hiking, why not climb Table Mountain and Lion’s Head? We climbed both at sunrise and the views of the sun rising over the city from up high were just phenomenal.
Take a trip down to Boulders Beach to see penguins on the shore, and spend an afternoon wandering the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens. Wander along the waterfront and have lunch in one of Cape Town’s amazing restaurants.
Head to Camps Bay for an afternoon sunbathing on the beach, and be sure to visit the eye-opening District Six museum, and the colourful neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap.
Where to stay in Cape Town:
Budget: We stayed at the awesome “The Backpack” hostel, which is located in the heart of the city and has a huge amount of sustainability-focused projects that give something back to the local community and lessen the carbon footprint. You can read my full review here.
Mid-range: Hotel Verde is located near the airport and has loads of green initiatives.
Splurge: Splash out with a Luxury Suite and a Rooftop Bar at the Capital Mirage Hotel.
Day 4: Stellenbosch
Travel time – Cape Town to Stellenbosch: 45 mins.
Stellenbosch is a beautiful area under an hour’s drive from Cape Town and is one of the best places on the planet to go wine tasting!
SOme of the best wineries in Stellenbosch include… Many offer a lunch and wine-tasting experience too. Stellenbosch town itself is also very pretty insteresting; Dorp Street in particular shows the heritage of the town with lots of old buildings to admire.
However, there’s more to do in Stellenbosch than JUST drink wine. It’s a gorgeous region, so make the best of it by going on a safari to see the animals in this area, or take a hike in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. The views are simply stunning.
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Where to stay in Stellenbosch:
Budget: Cobie Studio Apartment is a cheap and cheerful private space with beautiful views.
Midrange: Skyview Manor offers gorgeous views and a pool too – perfect in the summer! Their Superior Suite is stunning.
Splurge: Enjoy peace and quiet at the Lanzarac Hotel & Spa, which is situated on a private wine estate surrounded by mountains.
Day 5: Franschhoek
Travel time – Stellenbosch to Franschhoek: 40 mins.
Although Stellenbosch is likely to be the more popular destination, Franschhoek is still very much worth a visit – even if you’re not a wine drinker.
The scenery is beautiful – drive the Franschhoek View Pass for a gorgeous view of the Franschhoek Valley. The French influence is visible in the architecture here – the town’s name “Franschhoek” translates as “French Corner”. If you’ve a sweet tooth, don’t miss the Huguenot Chocolate Factory to find out how chocolate is made, and of course, have taste-testings! There’s also a village market every Saturday in Huguenot Road.
If, like me, you ARE a wine-drinker, some of the best wineries in Franschhoek include Babylonstoren, Haute Cabriere, and Boschendahl. Make sure you try “Semillon”, the white wine that is famous in this region.
Where to stay in Franschhoek:
Budget: The Franschhoek Travellers Lodge is a comfortable hostel with dorms and private rooms – alongside those gorgeous mountain views.
Midrange: The Ashbourne Guesthouse has aircon and a pool and is in walking distance of the town centre – at around £80 a night it’s great value for money!
Splurge: Experience celebrity treatment at La Residence, a luxury hotel in a tranquil setting.
Day 6: Hermanus
Travel Time – Franschhoek to Hermanus: 1 hour 20 mins.
Hermanus is one of the best places in the world to go whale-watching – even from the shore, you may well spot them in the water.
Look for a reputable tour operator if you want to head out to sea to catch a glimpse of the whales. I like the look of this tour with GetYourGuide.
Aside from whale-watching, in Hermanus you can walk the cliff path, go shopping in one of the many unique boutiques and antique stores, and drive the Rotary Way for a beautiful view of the coastline.
Where to stay in Hermanus:
Budget: Hermanus Backpackers is a cheap and comfortable hostel located in the centre of town.
Midrange: Windsor Hotel is located on the coastline, offering beautiful views of the ocean and a change to spot whales from your room!
Splurge: Birkenhead House is the place to be for a luxurious stay. With your room overlooking the sea, there’s also an onsite spa and two pools.
Day 7: Mossel Bay
Travel Time Hermanus to Mossel Bay: 3 hours 20 mins.
A harbour town on the Southern Coast of South Africa, Mossel Bay is a must if you love beaches – there’s over 60 kilometres of golden sand here!
The Post Office tree is the major monument to see here – it was created around 800 years ago when a Portuguese sailor lost his fleet in a storm, and wrote an account of the distaster in a letter which he left in an old shoe he hung from a milkwood tree. A boot-shaped post box is now in it’s place, and letters posted here stamped with a commemorative stamp.
You can also visit the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse, or why not take a boat trip to Seal Island, and see hundreds of seals basking in the sun!
Where to stay in Mossel Bay:
Budget: Mossel Bay Backpackers is a good place to base yourself if you’re on a budget.
Midrange: Diaz Hotel and Resort offers an infinity pool, spa and fitness centre with rooms starting at just £50.
Splurge: African Oceans Manor offers panoramic views over the sea and mountains, and there’s a path that leads directly to the beach.
Day 8: Wilderness
Travel time – Mossel Bay to Wilderness: 45 mins.
Wilderness is what the name suggests: in the Wilderness. It’s the perfect stop along your Garden Route itinerary to take a break and immerse yourself in nature. There are lots of walking tracks in the area and many ways to appreciate the nature around you: birdwatching, cycling, canoeing and mountain biking are all popular.
Stop along a couple of points on the N2 en route. Dolphin Point Lookout is worth a stop to see beautiful views of the coastline and you might see dolphins or whales from here. The ‘Map of Africa’ viewpoint is also clearly signposted from the road: the scenery here makes an apparent map of the continent as the river weaves through the hills. It’s also a good spot to go paragliding.
Where to stay in Wilderness:
Budget: Wilderness Beach House Backpackers Lodge is the comfortable budget option, with private rooms and dorm beds available.
Midrange: We stayed at the incredible Reflections Eco Reserve, a beautiful, peaceful reserve where you can either stay in a luxury tent or chalet. Read more about our experience in my post here.
Splurge: Livingstone Villa is a luxury 3-bed holiday home. There’s a plunge pool on the terrace which offers gorgeous views of the area.
Day 9: Knysna
The absolute must in Knysna is seeing the incredible Knysna Heads – enormous sandstone cliffs which separate Knysna Lagoon from the ocean.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can go bungee jumping at the 216 metre high Bloukrans Bridge.
Take a ferry trip in the lagoon – but try to be flexible with timings as the weather can cause trips to be cancelled or rescheduled.
From Knysna, head to Stormsriver in Garden Route National Park. There’s a 2km-long hike where you can cross the suspension bridge in the beautiful Tsitsikamma forest.
Where to stay in Knysna
Budget: Jembjo’s Lodge & Backpackers is a budget-friendly option for your stay in Knysna.
Midrange: The Graywood Hotel is a short walk from central Knysna’s waterfront and is set in a traditional wooden building.
Splurge: Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa is a must if you want a little luxury.
Day 10: Addo Elephant Park
Addo is a must if you want to see elephants in South Africa – I mean, it’s in the name! We were lucky enough to see a group of them washing at the watering hole – such a humbling experience.
When the park was established in 1931, there were 11 elephants facing extinction. Now, Addo is the third largest national park in South Africa, is home to over 350 elephants, as well as buffalo, rhino, antelope, zebra, and even lions. We also spotted a very rare flightless dung beetle on safari here.
You can self-drive in Addo Elephant Park, but I really recommend going with a guide on a jeep; the guides are incredibly talented at spotting the wild animals, and you can see much more in a jeep as you’re seated higher up. We enjoyed a few beers on our safari which we booked through our accommodation at Chrislin African Lodge.
Where to stay in Addo
Budget: Budget accommodation is easier found in the nearby town of Colchester, but starting at £26 a night, Addo Dung Beetle Guest Farm offers simple, self-catering cottages and chalets.
Midrange: We stayed at Chrislin African Lodge in Addo, where you can stay in an authentic African Mud-Hut! It is a 15 min drive from Addo Elephant Park. Read my post about our experience.
Splurge: Gorah Elephant Camp is located inside the park itself – each luxury suite has its own viewing platform from which you can spot the elephants at your leisure.
Day 11, 12 & 13: Amakhala Game Reserve
Travel Time – Addo to Amakhala: 1 hour
Amakhala is a small reserve in geographical terms, but it’s one of the beat places in South Africa to spot all of the Big Five. Why spend 3 days here? Because it’s incredible and you will have the time of your life!
We stayed at Hlosi Game Lodge in the Reserve itself, where we saw giraffes, zebra and elephants from our bedroom window, as well as antelope and warthogs. Across our three days at the lodge, we saw a number of animals on safari, including a pack of lions.
Where to stay in Amakhala:
Budget: Budget options aren’t common in the Reserve itself but Guesthouse Buysvlei is a fairly cheap alternative close by.
Midrange: Sandflats B&B Self Catering is just outside the Reserve in Paterson.
Splurge: We stayed at Hlosi Game Lodge in the Reserve itself, which was an incredible experience. The room rate is inclusive of three meals a day plus a safari trip each morning and evening. You won’t be disappointed!
Day 14: Port Elizabeth
On your final morning in South Africa, head to Port Elizabeth to catch your flight home. Pick up some souvenirs from one of the many shops,
Take a wander around St. George’s Park – the sixth oldest cricket ground in the world, or along the shoreline where there’s a wooden boardwalk down to the beach.
If you have time, take a trip out to St Croix Island Marine Reserve which is home to the largest breeding colony of African Penguins in the world.
What do you think to my 14 Day South Africa Itinerary? Is there anywhere else you would add?
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
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