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MMany first time visitors to South Africa enjoy a soft introduction to the country. This itinerary incorporates classic highlights such as Cape Town, Cape Winelands, Garden Route and a Big Five safari in the Eastern Cape.
Day 1: Board your flight for Cape Town International Airport (There are direct flight options from London direct to Cape Town. Alternatively connect via Europe, the Middle East or Johannesburg).
Day 2: Once your clients arrive in Cape Town and they collect their baggage, they can either grab a hire car from the airport or you can arrange a transfer for them to their accommodation. Driving in South Africa is easy – same side of the road as UK/Ireland and roads are in good condition and clearly sign-posted. Most flights would arrive in the late morning or afternoon, so the first day can be used as a day of leisure after a relatively long journey to South Africa.
Day 3: Cape Town’s red Hop on Hop off bus is a great way to explore the city. There are various routes to choose from and the bus covers most of the city’s well-known sights including Table Mountain and Camps Bay. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket office and bus depot (outside the Two Ocean’s Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront).
One of the stops on the Hop on Hop off bus is Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain, which towers over Cape Town’s sky- and coastline. We recommend pre-booking cable car tickets for your clients online and tickets are valid seven days from the date you select when you book. Make sure your clients do this activity on the first day of their trip as the cable car is often closed if the winds are too strong or the clouds too dense, so if weather is bad and the cable car is closed, then they have other days to get to the top. Two cable cars run all day and the cable car floor turns 360 degrees to allow visitors views of the whole city and mountain.
Day 4: A trip to Robben Island is a must-do experience for many visitors to South Africa. Robben Island is a former prison and also most known as the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment. It is recommended to book and pre-pay this experience for your clients well in advance due to availability. Ferries operate at 09h00, 11h00 and 13h00 (A 15h00 ferry is also added when the South African summer season commences). Passengers should arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled times of departure, boarding gates close 10 minutes before departure time. This is a good trip for anyone interested in history and/or politics. After lunch give your clients a free afternoon to explore the V&A Waterfront shopping precinct. Another good option for your clients would be a visit to the District Six Museum, which explores South Africa’s political history in even greater detail.
DDay 5: Leave after an early breakfast for a full day trip to Cape Point and the Cape Peninsula. On the way, the potential stops enroute to Cape Point are Kirstenbosch Gardens and the coastal towns of Kalk Bay, Muizenberg and Simon’s Town, before stopping at Boulders Beach to spot the colony of endangered African penguins. Cape Point Nature Reserve is home to a vast array of fauna and flora. The reserve also has a few walking trails (walking shoes here are recommended) and the Flying Dutchman Funicular which transports you up all the way to the lighthouse (for those who do not wish to walk up). On the return to Cape Town, be sure to stop at the harbour town of Hout Bay for fresh fish and chips, before making your way along Chapman’s Peak, enjoying one of the most scenic drives in the world. This experience is most enjoyed as a self-drive excursion as your clients will have the opportunity to explore and stop at their own pace. Shared and private tours can also be pre-booked.
DDay 6: The towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are located an hour’s drive outside of Cape Town and forms part of the Western Cape’s Winelands route. The towns are equally charming – Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa with wine estates on its edges, whilst Franschhoek is much smaller in size and home to some of South Africa’s leading restaurants. Most vineyards allow walk-in tastings and some also do unique food & wine pairings. Your clients can stop on route and visit wine estates to enjoy some local wine tasting or a hearty meal. Allow one hour minimum for a standard tasting at each wine estate.
DDay 7: Depending on the town you are sending your clients to, there are two great options: Wine Tram in Franschhoek or the Vine Hopper in Stellenbosch. Both of these experiences have various routes and operate on a “hop on hop off” system where your clients will stop at various wine estates for tastings. We would recommend pre-booking these experiences. Other activities include horseback wine tours; bicycle wine tours or private driver tours.
Day 8: After your clients enjoy an early breakfast and checking out, they should head down to the coastal town of Hermanus (about a 90 minute drive), where between the months of June to November they are likely to see Southern Right whales. The whales can often be spotted from the shoreline, but we would recommend a whale watching boat to get closer to these majestic creatures, which use the South African waters as a mating and breeding ground during the whale season. If your clients are travelling outside whale watching season, then we would recommend a visit to Gansbaai to do Great White Shark Cage Diving. If they are not interested in this there are still plenty of other activities they can do, including tours through the fynbos (a unique heathland vegetation occurring in this area of the Western Cape), sea kayaking, hiking trails etc. Read more here.
DDay 9: South Africa’s Garden Route is often described as one of the most scenic routes in the world. After checking out in Hermanus/Gansbaai, your clients will begin the journey down the Garden Route. The town of Oudthoorn is located about four hours away and is great to stop and explore. Oudtshoorn is situated in the arid Little Karoo area and provides an interesting diversion from the florally rich Garden Route. This quirky town is most known for its ostrich farming and the famous Cango Caves.
Day 10: After checking out, hop back into your car and drive back onto the Garden Route. The towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are two of the most famous towns on the Garden Route and located around 2.5 hours outside Hermanus. Knysna is well-known for the Knysna Lagoon and Knysna Forest and a perfect stop for more active clients. Plettenberg Bay is located about an half hour further east and is famous for its sandy beaches and wide range of marine life. After arrival, the rest of the day can be used to settle in and explore.
Day 11: Today we would recommend a hike in the Knysna Forest or an Ocean Safari where your clients can spot bottle-nose dolphins from a speed boat. Another option would be to drive further east to the Tsitsikamma National Park for a walk through the forest, zip-lining or kayaking down the Storms River.
Day 12: This morning after breakfast, we recommend your clients head straight to their Eastern Cape Game Reserve of choice. Most reserves are located around 3.5 hours’ drive east of Knysna/Plettenberg Bay. There are various private game reserves to choose from and each offer respective accommodation standards (self-catering to luxury lodge-style). We recommend an all-inclusive experience where meals, drinks and safari activities are included. It’s nice to arrive at the game reserve in time for lunch and before the first afternoon game drive commences.
AA typical day on safari:
04h30 – 05h00 – Wake up call
05h30 – 08h30 – Coffee followed by morning game drive
09h00 – 10h00 – Breakfast at the lodge
13h00 – Lunch
15h00 – Tea before afternoon game drive
15h30 – 18h30 – Afternoon /evening game drive
19h00 – 21h00 – Dinner
Day 13-14: These days will be spent in the reserve enjoying game activities, spa treatments if the lodge you choose has a spa (treatments payable locally normally), a dip in the pool or relaxing in their private suite. Lots of lodges offer guest suites with private decks and plunge pools, a great way to while away the sunny hours, sipping on a G&T watching the grazing game wander past the lodge.
Day 15: This morning your clients will normally have time to head out on one last morning game drive before returning for breakfast, then getting back in their car to head back to Port Elizabeth Airport (around two hours’ drive depending on which reserve your clients are staying at) for their flight back to Johannesburg and onwards to the UK/Ireland.
Day 16: Land in the UK/Ireland
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