See the Best of South Africa in 10 Days: Ultimate Itinerary and Guide

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Imagine a trip where you go on a safari, see epic mountains next to the ocean, sunbathe with penguins on the beach, and visit amazing wineries. In this blog post I’ll share my entire South Africa trip itinerary, travel tips, how I feel about the country’s safety, and pictures that will inspire you to book your next flight!

Sample 10 Day South Africa Itinerary

  • Day One: Arrive in Cape Town. Fly to Johannesburg with FlySafair. Stay the night.
  • Day Two: Drive 6 hours to the greater Kruger area for your safari. If time allows drive the Panorama Route. Check into safari lodge.
  • Day Three: Safari.
  • Day Four: Safari.
  • Day Five: Last sunrise safari drive. Drive 6 hours back to Johannesburg. Fly to Cape Town with FlySafair.
  • Day Six: Sunrise hike to Kloof Corner. Drive the Cape Peninsula.
  • Day Seven: Take the Table Mountain cablecar. Visit the Bo-Kaap neighborhood. Hike Lion’s Head for sunset.
  • Day Eight: Drive to the Cape Winelands. Check into hotel and visit a winery or two.
  • Day Nine: From the Cape Winelands, take a half day trip to Betty’s Bay and visit Kogel Bay Beach for sunset.
  • Day Ten: Fly home, spend more time in Cape Town if time allows.

Best Time to Visit

It’s tricky to say when to visit if you’re going to both Cape Town and the Kruger area for safari. Their summer is December-March which is perfect to travel to Cape Town, but it is the wet, rainy season for Kruger. We went November 26- December 6 and lucked out with no rain in Kruger and mild temps in Cape Town. For more weather related information, check out this website.

South Africa Safety Tips

When I first booked this trip, I was naive to the safety concerns in South Africa. Looking back, I didn’t know anything about the country other than looking at beautiful pictures around Cape Town. Overall, I think it’s a country to go with your guard up but not an inherently unsafe place.

Follow general safety rules you would follow in any large city, maybe a tiny bit elevated.

  • Don’t walk around at night, even if in a group
  • Keep your belongings close to your body such as your phone in a bag sealed
  • Don’t leave ANYTHING in your car
  • Obey all traffic laws & speed limits
  • Never drink and drive
  • Don’t wear flashy clothes or anything that will draw attention to you
  • Stick to known safe parts of Cape Town & book your accommodation there

Police: They will often make routine stops, we never got stopped but several other people at our safari did. Two groups were speeding and had to pay off the cops to avoid a ticket or jail (he was going REALLY fast). Two other group got pulled over in a routine stop, one group played dumb on purpose (he was familiar with getting stopped in the country) and another group gave the cops some sodas and snacks they had in the car.

One thing I never read in any blog was about the people that dressed in a yellow vest, almost to impersonate a city worker. They will stand in tourist areas or parking lots and ‘help’ you find a parking spot. Mostly they are all very friendly, but they are expecting something from you. We would give them maybe 5-10 ZAR or you could give them something to eat or drink.

Overall, I felt very safe driving from Johannesburg airport to Kruger as well as driving all around the Cape Winelands and Cape Peninsula. In Cape Town itself, I felt pretty safe but was definitely wary of my camera and belongings at all times. If you’re a more experienced traveler, these should be tips you’re used to hearing and implementing. Keep your guard up, but don’t worry too much and let being scared ruin your trip either!

What to Pack

Car Rental and Lodging

From Johannesburg airport, we rented an economy manual car from Sixt. For three and a half days it cost $190 USD.

From Cape Town airport, we rented an economy manual car from Budget. For four days, it cost $209 USD.

We stayed one night at an Airbnb in Johannesburg after our flight on day one. We felt very safe in this neighborhood and our one night stay was super cheap.

For the safari lodging, I will cover that in the Safari portion of this post.

In Cape Town, we stayed at an Airbnb in a great neighborhood with amazing views and a patio right outside your room.

In the Cape Winelands we splurged a tiny bit on a beautiful room at Sugarbird Manor in Stellenbosch. We had a gorgeous mountain view, breakfast was included, and there was a pool on the property.


Okay- now on to the fun stuff! On our first full day of our South Africa trip, we drove from Johannesburg to our safari lodge- Umkumbe Riverside Lodge. There are SO many options in the Kruger area, it’s hard to wrap your head around all of it.

You have a few options. You can stay outside (or inside) the Kruger National Park and schedule daily safari drives or self drive through the park. Or stay at a private game lodge. The game lodges are on private land, but can border the National Park with no fences.

There are pros and cons of each option. Self driving through the national park will be your cheapest option. I wanted more up close encounters with the animals, and in the game lodges you can get this easier since they can drive off road on their property. In the National Park, you are restricted to the paved roads. This was the main deciding factor for me.

If we had more time, I would love to have done 2 nights at the private game lodge, and 2 nights in the National Park. This way, we could have had a taste of both.

With the safari lodge, you get three meals a day and one sunrise game drive and one sunset game drive. In our three days there, we saw leopards, lions, elephants, giraffes, kudu, rhinos, and so much more! In between drives, you relax at the lodge. We had a fantastic time here, the guides are amazing and fun, and the food is fantastic! Plus from the lodge you will likely see wildlife such as giraffe or elephant.

Stops on the Panorama Route to Kruger

I really wish we had more time to explore the Panorama Route more thoroughly. You would need an extra full day to make all the stops on this list. We only had time to stop at the three waterfalls listed below.

  • Blyde River Canyon
  • Three Rondavels
  • Burke’s Luck Pot Holes
  • God’s Window
  • Lisbon Falls
  • Mac Mac Falls
  • Berlin Falls

Best Things to do around Cape Town

  • Visit Table Mountain: Take the cable car up (what we did) or hike up. It’s a challenging hike that you should allot 5-6 hours for. The cable car round trip ticket will cost you approximately $25 USD per person. Book your ticket here. If you want more information about doing the hike, I will link someone else’s post.
  • Hike Lion’s Head: Another popular must do in Cape Town for good reason. We hike rather often and didn’t find this particularly challenging. The views are breathtaking! We hiked this for sunset which I would recommend!
  • Visit the Bo-Kaap Neighborhood: So unique, each house is painted a different bright color. I really loved wandering around this section and taking photos!
  • Kloof Corner Hike: This is a short and sweet 25 minute hike that rewards a fantastic view of Lion’s Head. We did this for sunrise and it was beautiful.
  • Camp’s Bay Beach: Stunning beach with mountain views!
  • Go Paragliding: We tried to do this not once, not twice, but THREE times and each time it was cancelled due to improper weather conditions. I would still recommend doing this; but be prepared that they may cancel your flight the day of due to weather. Book your flight here.
  • Kayak: Another thing we tried to do twice and was also cancelled due to weather and high winds! Really wanted to do this, as you have a high chance of encountering dolphins and seals. Oh well- next time! Book your kayaking trip here.

Stops on your drive around the Cape Peninsula

  • Muzienberg Beach: Infamous beach where there is a row of bright and colorful change houses. I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘must stop’ but it is a pretty area to explore.
  • Boulder Beach: The beach where you can see penguins! In the wild! What?! Yes! Seeing penguins in the wild was actually the inspiration for this whole trip. And it was SO worth it! There are three areas to view them. The first two boardwalks take you to public ‘viewing areas’. But if you go to the end of the reserve at the third boardwalk you can go to the beach. You have to boulder hop a bit in knee deep ocean water to get up close and personal with them though- so dress accordingly! The entrance fee to the penguin colony is about $8 USD.
  • Cape of Good Hope Drive: This is a bit steep of an entrance fee of about $25 USD per person to do this drive but I highly recommend it. You could spend a few hours doing it if you make all of the stops. The scenery is JAW DROPPINGLY beautiful. We also saw wild ostriches and baboons!
  • Chapman’s Peak Drive: A stunning scenic drive to take coming from the Cape of Good Hope back to Cape Town. Unfortunately clouds rolled in during our drive, but I would recommend planning your day around seeing the sunset from this scenic drive!

Visiting the Cape Winelands

Driving into the Cape Winelands, I didn’t realize it would become one of my favorite parts of our South Africa trip! The mountains all around the winelands are impressive, and the addition of the vineyards makes it even more incredible.

We only went to one winery while there. This was partly due to timing, money, and the fact that after one wine tasting me and Tyler are both pretty wasted! Haha. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the tasting with beautiful mountain views! We went to Zorgvilet Wine Estate and ended up buying a sparkling wine to bring back home and share with our families.

Stellenbosch is the town we stayed in, but you do have Franschhoek and Paarl to also pick from. In general, I don’t think you can go wrong picking a town, hotel, and winery to go to. We stayed at Sugarbird Manor while staying in Stellenbosch and highly recommend it!

Betty’s Bay

Betty’s Bay is 1-2 hours from both Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. We spent half a day in the area, driving down from the winelands.

Here I recommend stopping at the Stony Point Penguin Colony. Yes! More penguins! Next, go to Pringle Bay, a small beach town worth a stop.

And finally, go to Kogel Bay Beach. One of my favorite parts of this entire South Africa trip. It was out of this world beautiful. We stayed here for two hours just taking lots of photos and enjoying the scenery. It was the perfect way to end the best trip! If we had more time, I would love to have spent one night in this area.

Thank you for reading my blog post! I really hope you enjoyed it and found helpful tips and information for your bucket list South Africa trip! Comment below if you’ve been here before or are planning your adventure!

Craving another adventurous trip? Check out my blog post on a week in Guatemala!

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