10 Safari Holidays in South Africa: Itinerary Possibilities
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South Africa is one of the continent’s pre-eminent safari destinations, and while catching sight of some of Africa’s most distinctive wildlife in its natural habitat is always an emotive experience, there is so much more to the country than just that. According to your travel interests and desires, a safari trip in South Africa can be combined with any number of other activities to create an unforgettable trip of a lifetime and allow you a true taste of what this fascinating country is really about. There are many things to do in South Africa which means there is never a dull moment.
Here’s ten selection of recommended combination holiday suggestions to choose from.
1. Panorama Route & Kruger National Park: 5 Days
- Explore the spectacular natural wonders the Three Rondavels, God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes along the Panorama Route.
- Spot the big 5 (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos) on game drives in the famous Kruger.
|Who should do it:||Nature-lovers, sightseeing aficionados, road-trippers|
|How many days:||2 days Panorama Route, 3 days in Kruger National Park|
|Places visited:||Panorama Route, Kruger National Park|
This is a popular South African safari package combination that gives you the chance to soak in the best views and wildlife this country has to offer. Starting from the small town of Graskop (about 4 hours drive from Johannesburg), the journey takes you through the aptly-named Panorama Route along the Drakensberg Escarpment. See the spectacular sights along the route, then spend an overnight at the small town of Hazyview before heading into the famous (and nearby) Kruger National park for a three-day safari.
2. Addo Elephant National Park & Western Cape: 6 Days
- Spot the Big Five on safari in South Africa's third-largest national park, Addo Elephant National Park.
- Spot the famous Southern right whales while whale watching in Hermanus.
- Cage-dive with the great white sharks in Gansbaai.
|Who should do it:||Animal lovers, naturalists, thrill-seekers|
|How many days:||3 days Addo Elephant National Park, 3 days Western Cape|
|Places visited:||Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth, Hermanus, Gansbaai|
Everyone who goes on safari hopes to spot some or all of the famous big five, but the south coast of South Africa is the only place in the world where it is possible to see Africa’s ‘big seven’ — the classic five plus whales and great white sharks. Start with a three-day safari in the uncrowded Addo Elephant National park, spotting some or all of the big five animals. From there, make your way to Port Elizabeth for a boat trip out onto the sea for your first sight of whales and sharks. Next, take a day-long road-trip along the coast to Hermanus, to witness southern right whales. Cap the incredible journey by cage-diving with the great whites in Gansbaai.
If you like this itinerary, try these tours:
3. Mapungubwe, Kruger, Wakkerstroom & Kgalagadi: 9 Days
- A self-drive safari in Kruger National Park to spot the big five.
- Share the road with a black-maned Kalahari lion at Kgalagadi Park.
- Learn about South Africa’s ancient history in Mapungubwe National Park.
- Birdwatch in Wakkerstroom, on the border of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
|Who should do it:||Nature-lovers, wildlife-enthusiasts, bird-watchers|
|How many days:||2 days Mapungubwe, 2 days Kruger, 2 day Wakkerstroom, 3 days Kgalagadi|
|Places visited:||Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Mapungubwe National Park, Wakkerstroom|
South Africa is blessed with varied terrain and abundant wildlife. Kick this holiday off with a 2-day relaxed safari experience in Mapungubwe National Park. Head on to explore the jewel in the crown of South Africa’s national parks, Kruger, located just 2.5 hours’ drive away. End a 2-day safari by travelling to Wakkerstroom for a relaxed and refreshing few days focusing on birdwatching. Next, make your way to Johannesburg for a city break, and from here fly to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park for a 3-day safari against a very dramatic backdrop of the Kalahari Desert.
Uncover Kruger National Park in 3 days if you are short on time!
4. Drakensberg, Golden Gate & Kruger: 5 Days
- Tackle some of South Africa’s finest hiking trails in the shadows of the Drakensberg range.
- Hike the beautiful Golden Gate Highlands National Park, a place known for its stunning natural scenery.
- Feel the thrill of taking a guided walk in big five territory in the world-renowned Kruger National Park.
|Who should do it:||Nature-lovers, hikers, wildlife-enthusiasts|
|How many days:||1 day Drakensberg, 2 days Golden Gate, 3 days Kruger|
|Places visited:||Drakensberg Mountain Range, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Kruger National Park|
Bring together the safari dream and a chance to hike South Africa’s unique landscape with this holiday. Start with a hike in the Drakensberg mountain range and settle in the town of Underberg for the night. The next day travel to Golden Gate Highlands National Park (just 4 hours from Underberg) for a relaxation session and more hiking. Finally, make the hop over to Kruger (6 hours away) to finish your holiday with South Africa’s quintessential safari experience as well as the chance for more walking — this time, in Big Five territory.
Try Cycling The Drakensberg & Kruger for a tour with a dash of adventure.
5. Johannesburg, Cape Town & Addo Elephant: 8 Days
- Take a township tour of Soweto and visit the Apartheid museum while touring Johannesburg.
- Admire the city view from the top of the Carlton Centre, Africa’s tallest building.
- Visit Robben Island near Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
- Hike to the top of Table Mountain, or take the cable car to enjoy the scenic view of Cape Town.
- Taste South Africa’s famous wines in the country’s wine-making heartland.
- Spot the Big Five during your trip to Addo Elephant National Park.
|Who should do it:||City-dwellers, wine-connoisseurs, wildlife-enthusiasts|
|How many days:||2 days Johannesburg, 3 days Cape Town, 3 days Addo Elephant|
|Places visited:||Johannesburg, Cape Town, Robben Island, Cape Winelands Addo Elephant National Park|
Get to know the country by visiting some of the most important cities before heading into the bush to discover wild South Africa. Start with a tour in the lively city of Johannesburg, then fly (around 2 hours) to Cape Town for an unforgettable tour. Indulge in tasting South Africa’s famous wine, as well as surfing, fishing and other water-based activities. From Cape Town, take a day-long (around 8 hours) drive along the scenic Garden Route to reach Port Elizabeth or opt for a short (1 hour) flight. The city is the gateway to nearby Addo Elephant National Park where you can finish your holiday with a safari.
6. Garden Route & Addo Elephant National Park: 10 Days
- Explore the picturesque Garden Route on a self-drive adventure
- Hike at Keurboomstrand or conquer the Otter trail.
- Visit the amazing Cango Caves.
- Relax on white-sand beaches along the way.
- Take a safari at the excellent Addo Elephant National Park.
|Who should do it:||Roadtrippers, sightseeing aficionados, nature-lovers|
|How many days:||7 days Garden Route, 3 days Addo Elephant National Park|
|Places visited:||Knysna Bay, Cango Caves, Port Elizabeth, Addo Elephant National Park|
Start this holiday with an epic journey along the rightfully popular Garden Route and enjoy several of the amazing things to do in this region.The week-long self-drive exploration starts from Mossel Bay near Cape Town and finishing in St Francis near Port Elizabeth. From there it is only a short drive to Addo Elephant National Park where you will be able to end your holiday with a three-day safari spotting some of South Africa’s iconic large game animals.
Suggested tour: 10 Day Garden Route & Cape Town Group Tour
7. Addington Beach, Hluhluwe & Sodwana Bay: 9 Days
- Learn to surf at one of South Africa’s best beginners’ beaches.
- Enjoy the ‘Golden Mile’ beaches when not riding the waves.
- Spot the Big Five, especially white rhinos, in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
- Take a trip to Durban, South Africa’s third-largest city.
- Optional trip to Sodwana Bay for some of South Africa’s best diving.
|Who should do it:||Surfers, wildlife-enthusiasts, thrill-seekers|
|How many days:||4 days Addington Beach, 3 days Hluhluwe, 2 days Sodwana Bay|
|Places visited:||Durban, Addington Beach, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Sodwana Bay|
Start this trip in Durban with 4-day of learning surfing or just surfing on Addington Beach, one of the best places to learn in South Africa. Following this, travel (2.5 hours away) to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park for a three-day safari where you can hope to spot all of the Big Five, including the park’s famous white rhinos, as well as many other animals. From there head to nearby (1.5 hour) Sodwana Bay for a few days of diving, one of the top diving spots in the country.
Suggested tour: Safari to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve
8. Golden Gate, Johannesburg & Mapungubwe: 6 Days
- Spend time in the majestic Maluti Mountains of Golden Gate National Park, where you can tour the local historic sites.
- Go to Lion Park while traveling in Johannesburg, a wildlife conservation dedicated to Transvaal lions.
- Learn about the diverse culture and biodiversity at Mapungubwe National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- A safari in the national park to appreciate the great biodiversity of the location.
|Who should do it:||History buffs, hikers, nature-lovers|
|How many days:||2 days Golden Gate, 2 days Johannesburg, 2 days Mapungubwe|
|Places visited:||Golden Gate National Park, Johannesburg, Mapungubwe National Park|
Combine your safari holiday with the chance to learn about South Africa’s ancient indigenous cultures. Kick off at Golden Gate National Park where you can join a seven-hour walking tour of important local historical sites. From there, head to Johannesburg (3 hours drive away) for a city break. Explore the city for a few days and head to Mapungubwe National Park (5.5 hours drive) where you will be able to visit an excellent museum to learn more about local cultures and traditions before heading out into the park itself on safari.
9. Sun City & Pilanesberg: 5 Days
- Cool down in a world-class waterpark at Sun City.
- Tee-off at golf courses designed by South African legend, Gary Player.
- Try your luck on the slot machines and tables of the casinos.
- Go on a safari in Pilanesberg National Park.
|Who should do it:||Vacationers, nature-lovers, luxury travellers|
|How many days:||2 days Sun City, 3 days Pilanesberg|
|Places visited:||Sun City, Pilanesberg National Park|
Going on safari does not necessarily mean roughing it in the bush. It could be a whole lot more relaxing than many expect it to be. Spend your time at one of the four luxury hotels at Sun City, South Africa’s premier holiday resort, indulging in the plethora of facilities on site (including a golf course, casino, shopping, spa and more). When you are ready for something a little more adventurous, cross over into the adjoining Pilanesberg National Park for some adventurous safari drives; spot all of the big five, plus hyenas, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, antelopes and hippos as well as abundant birdlife.
If you don’t have a lot of time at hand, you might want to try 1 Day's Safari in Pilanesberg National Park.
10. Cape Town, Kruger & Sun City: 10 Days
- Soak in a gorgeous view of the Cape Town from the top of the unmistakable Table Mountain.
- Venture on a wine-tasting tour in Cape’s Winelands.
- Go on a boat trip to see southern right whales at Hermanus, South Africa’s top whale-watching spot.
- Cage dive with fearsome great white sharks.
- Go on a safari in the world-famous Kruger National Park.
- Relax at Sun City, South Africa’s world-class resort destination.
|Who should do it:||City-dwellers, thrill-seekers, wildlife enthusiasts, laidback vacationers|
|How many days:||2 days Cape Town, 4 days Kruger, 4 days Sun City|
|Places visited:||Cape Town, Hermanus, Cape’s Winelands, Gansbaai, Kruger National Park, Sun City|
If you want a taste of everything South Africa has to offer in one short trip, you can take a tour of the country’s most unmissable locations. Start off in Cape Town where a plethora of activities is waiting for you. Spot southern right whales in Hermanus and head to nearby Gansbaai for a real adrenaline rush. Head next to Port Elizabeth and fly to Johannesburg (1 hour). From Johannesburg, travel to the unmissable Kruger (some 4 hours drive) for an excellent safari experience. End your holiday in luxury at the Sun City holiday resort.
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South Africa is a country of amazing diversity, not just for animal life, but also in terms of landscapes and human cultures. While the main activity on South Africa safari holidays is heading into the wilderness to try to spot some of Africa’s majestic wildlife, the country has so much more to offer. While there, it would be a shame not to sample some of South Africa’s other unique attractions.
For more exciting itineraries and travel tips, check out our article on how many days to spend in South Africa. Get in touch with our South Africa travel experts today if you want professional advice on a custom trip to South Africa.
For a seasonal overview, see our article on the best time to visit South Africa.