South Africa in 2-3 days
There’s no way you’ll be able to see all of SA in such a short time, but if there’s one place in this beautiful country you can’t miss it’s Cape Town. Base yourself in Long Street — backpacker haven — or near the Waterfront — more sophisticated hotels — and from there your few days are up to you.
If you’re after history, the city centre has plenty of museums. Take a tour through the colourful streets of Bo-Kaap and learn about the Cape Malay culture or go back in time to vibrant District Six.
Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during the apartheid era is a ferry ride away. If you’re after stunning sea views and sunsets over the ocean, then a drive on Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard may be an option. Make your way from Green Point, past sandy beaches like Clifton till you reach the far-flung village of Scarborough.
Alternatively, spot whales on the False Bay coast and then take a sojourn to laid-back Simon’s Town — a naval base and one of SA’s oldest settlements.
If you’re wanting high thrills make your way up Table Mountain by either hiking its trails or taking the easier route of the cable car. The Cape Winelands are just an hour’s drive away from the city and with such limited time choose one area to explore, picnic at, and taste a good drop or three.
Of course, there’s plenty of shopping to be done, such as at the V & A Waterfront and Cape Town’s restaurants are some of the best in the country, but don’t leave without tasting snoek and slap chips eaten while overlooking the ocean.
In 7-9 days
Fly in to Johannesburg and spend a night soaking up the atmosphere at one of the city’s hip hangouts such as in Melville or Newtown.
Leave early in the morning for the Kruger National Park. You’ll need at least three days in this wildlife haven and if driving it yourself, you have to book accommodation at the park’s camps in advance. Make your way back to Johannesburg and catch a flight to Cape Town, spending the reminder of your time following the suggestions in the 2-3 day itinerary.
You ideally need a few weeks to explore the best of South Africa. Follow the first part of the 7-9 day itinerary, starting your trip in Johannesburg, with a few days in the Kruger. Make your way back to Johannesburg and fly to Durban. From there hire a car and head to the hills, literally.
Spend a few days in the Drakensberg hiking, swimming in mountain streams and enjoying the dramatic landscape. Alternatively hire a car from Johannesburg and take the N3 to Durban stopping off in the Drakensberg en route.
Spend a few days on the KZN coast in Durban itself or up north — Umhlanga and Balito are great seaside resorts — even travelling further to St Lucia Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site. Or from Durbs you can head south to one of the many coastal towns on the Hibiscus Coast, such as Margate or Southbroom.
From Durban make your way to the Wild Coast. There are many organised walking trails that take in the best of this rugged coast and include porters and accommodation and meals.
After your trek, take the long road trip to Cape Town, including the Garden Route and the Karoo. From Port Elizabeth follow the N2 along the 200km stretch known as South Africa’s paradise — the Garden Route.
The main road bypasses a lot of the sights and coastal towns, so make time in your itinerary to spend a night or two in picturesque Plettenberg Bay, Knysna or Wilderness. National parks en route include the Tsitsikamma National Park, which has forests, beaches and a rapid river for adrenaline thrills.
Along the Garden Route there are a number of possibilities to journey inland up mountain passes into the Little Karoo, and onto Cape Town. R62 is the famous route taking you through historical towns such as Calitzdorp and ostrich-loving Oudtshoorn.
Once you’ve reached Cape Town follow the 2-3 day itinerary suggestions.