This week we are talking about travel.
I know, I know, no one is traveling these days but things are changing, and with the vaccine rolling out, and travel credit from last year’s cancellation reaching their expiration date, I see people traveling and planning their next vacation just like they used to back in the days.
If you are also planning your next vacation then consider this comprehensive 10 Day South Africa Itinerary that I and 4 of my best friends took in October 2017. This was by far the best trip that I had ever taken, period.
This itinerary has everything. From wildlife watching to camping to river tubing to whale watching to shark cage diving to hiking to bungee jumping to glamping to ostrich farms to caves to canceled paragliding to penguins.
So let's dive in.
Go to this Notion Page where you will find a quick summary of this comprehensive travel guide.
Day 1 — Johannesburg
Most people start their South Africa trip from Johannesburg.
I will be honest, there is not much to see or do in Johannesburg however its proximity to Kruger national park and having the international airport makes it an ideal city to start your trip.
I suggest you get your rental car from the airport and book a decent Airbnb for the night.
Side Note: You will see heavy-duty gates, electrical fences, and sometimes armed guards in most of the houses. Our Airbnb had all.
Day 2 — Johannesburg to Kruger National Park
On day 2 we started our journey to Kruger National Park.
The drive is around 5 hours. You can take the world-famous Panorama Route which has some amazing views.
Kruger National Park is huge and has multiple different gates. There are limited Government-owned accommodations inside the park but they get booked early. So we booked our stay just outside the Crocodile Bridge Gate which was on the southeast side of the park.
We stayed at Jackalberry Ridge in Marloth Park. It was my first glamping experience and it was amazing.
The tents had private parking, campfire, kitchen, dining area and a small pool. There were giraffes and zebras roaming around our camp area. Yes, you read it right giraffes and zebras roaming around, a true African Safari experience.
There was a small shopping center named Marlothi Shopping Centre near by, where we found a really cool restaurant where we eat dinner and had few drinks. I don’t remember the name but if you end up staying in Marloth park I suggest you check this shopping center out.
We had a few more drinks by the campfire and called it a night.
Side Note: Beer in South Africa is dirt cheap. If I remember correctly it was 50 cents a pint.
Day 3 — Kruger National Park
Today was the day why we came to Kruger National Park. It was time for Safari and see the “big five” (Lion, Leopards, Buffalo, Elephant & Rhinoceros).
We booked our safari with Kruger Africa Safaris. We opted for a private full-day safari which cost us $466.83 CAD for 5 of us which included park entrance fees, a private jeep, and a driver/guide.
Our guide picked us up from our camp at around 4:30 AM and we drove to the park entrance where we had to wait in line to get our park tickets & permits.
We then started driving around the dedicated path inside the park in search of the big five and yes, we got lucky. We were able to spot all the big fives and we witnessed a leopard hunting a small deer in real-time.
There are few rest areas with restaurants inside the park where we took our lunch break.
Our guide was amazing and explained a lot of things about the park and wildlife in general.
We finished our day around 4 in the evening. Rest of the day we spent chilling at the camp.
Day 4 — Kruger National Park to Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth
We left the Jackalberry Ridge camp and started our drive back to Johannesburg airport where we were suppose to take a flight to Port Elizabeth.
We reached the airport, handed over our rental car and boarded our flight. It was a short flight to Port Elizabeth from where we were going to start our Garden route road trip.
We booked an Airbnb near the beach for the night. We picked up our rental car, explored the city in the evening, went to a casino, and did some grocery shopping for the road trip.
Side Note: We heard from locals that port Elizabeth was not safe at night so avoid going out late.
Day 5 — Garden Route — Port Elizabeth to Tsitsikamma National Park
This was the day we start our garden route road trip. Everyone was excited and nervous.
Nervous cause this was the day when we're supposed to bungee jump.
Our first stop was the Bloukrans Bridge which was around 2 hours drive from Port Elizabeth. Bloukrans Bridge Bungy is one of the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee at 216 meters above the Bloukrans River.
Even though I was super scared and nervous I managed to jump and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I suggest everyone have this experience at least once.
Having concurred our fears and with a belly full of food and beer at a cafe near the bridge, we bought a few souvenirs at the bungee gift shop and then drove to our accommodation near Tsitsikamma National Park.
We stayed at a backpacker-friendly lodge named Tube ‘n Axe Boutique Lodge Backpackers.
It was a really cool place with a backpacking vibe to it. There were share dormitories as well as private huts. We stayed at the garden hut. Like a hostel, there was a huge common area where people would hang around, and also there was a small bar as well.
We went for dinner and then chilled in the common area of the lodge. We had few drinks near the campfire and chatted with a group of backpackers staying at the lodge. The staff was super friendly and recommend this place if you are planning to stay near Tsitsikamma National Park.
Day 6 — Tsitsikamma National Park to Oudtshoorn
The day earlier we booked an excursion of black water tubing at the lodge.
We all got dressed up in our wet suits and the team of guides who were also our hosts at the lodge took us in their jeep to the tubing spot.
We had the time of our lives water tubing. Although the water was cold, the overall experience was fun.
I highly recommend black water tubing at the storms river. It has the perfect combination of fun and adventure that anyone can do.
After finishing the tubing we were suppose to go for waterfall hike however, with everyone tired from tubing we decided not to go and just spend some time near the shores of the Indian Ocean where we saw few whales at distant.
From Tsitsikamma National Park we started our drive to Oudtshoorn where we booked a glamping spot in a private park named AfriCamps Klein Karoo. The drive was around 3.5 hours which had some amazing views, especially during the golden hour.
We reached there just after dark, went out for dinner in the town and spend the night at the camp.
AfriCamps Klein Karoo was also a great find and recommended if you are staying in Oudtshoorn
Side Note: You don’t need to know swimming in order to do black water tubing. Also, carry an extra pair of shoes for this activity.
Day 7 — Oudtshoorn to Gansbaai via Congo Caves
After breakfast, we started our drive to Congo Cave which was just a 20-minute drive from Oudtshoorn.
Congo Caves are limestone caves where they offer guided tours. They have two types of tours, heritage tours, and adventure tours. Obviously, we took the adventure tour.
If you are reasonably fit, lean, and ok with closed, humid, dark confined spaces then you will be fine with the tour. If not then you should take the heritage tour which anyone can take.
After finishing our tour we went to a nearby Ostrich Farm named Congo Ostrich Farm where they gave us a tour of the farm and let us stand on an Ostrich egg :)
We had lunch at the farm where they serve Ostrich meat as well. Ostrich meat is not allowed to be served outside the farms.
After late lunch, we started our journey to Gansbaai which was our next destination. The drive was around 4 hours. We reached our Airbnb in Gansbai in the evening just before the sunset. Airbnb was just on the beach with an amazing view of the South Atlantic sea.
We had the dinner at a small Pizzeria in the city and finished our day.
Day 8 — Gansbaai to Cape Town
Today’s plan was to go for Shark Cage Diving. We booked our dive with Great White Shark Tours. We reached their office in the morning where they arranged breakfast for us. We had breakfast and after the briefing, boarded the boat that took us to the location of the dive.
Our tour operator told us that the chances of us seeing a great white shark were slim but we would definitely be able to see other shark species for sure. The plan was to anchor at a predefined spot and enter into the cage and wait for the sharks to come. There were around 30 people on the boat and everyone was taking turns.
We did not encounter any great white sharks but saw a few tiger sharks.
Disclaimer: If you don’t have a strong stomach I would suggest you to avoid this activity. We were in the middle of the ocean for almost 2 hours with our boat floating around giant waves which caused almost all of us (except the captain and the crew) to vomit multiple times. Trust me the feeling was awful. If you really want to do this activity I recommend you take anti vomit medication the day before and on the day of the activity.
After we were done with the shark cage diving (Thank God) we started our journey to Cape Town which was around 2 and a half hours drive.
We booked a really nice Airbnb in downtown of Capetown for the next couple of days. After settling down in the Airbnb, we went down to explore the food scene and discovered this line of street food vendors in one of the enclosed street valley then chilled there for the evening.
Day 9 — Cape Town
We had a late start of the day and went for brunch near the Clifton beach.
You can see some amazing views of the tabletop mountain from the beach. We spend a couple of hours on the beach and then went to the top of the tabletop mountain where we had booked paragliding. However, when we reached there our paragliding agency told us that due to bad weather they won't be doing any paragliding that day.
Since our paragliding got canceled we spent few hours driving around the city. Cape town has a totally different vibe than any other city we visited in South Africa.
We had our dinner and reached our Airbnb and called it a day.
Day 10 — Cape Town & Cape of good hope
We did not have any plans for the last day in South Africa, however, we ended up deciding to drive to the cape of good hope which was 1 and a half hours drive from Cape Town.
We took a pit stop at boulders beach while coming back where you will see a large habitat of penguins.
The rest of the day we spent shopping in Cape Town before leaving for home the next day.
Day 11 — Back to base
In the morning we returned our rental car at the airport and took our flight back home.
Usually South Africa is not on the top of the list of many tourists but I would highly recommend you visit South Africa. The land has a lot to offer.
Below is the list of some useful links that I used while creating my 10-day itinerary.
Thanks for reading.