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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 holiday 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.

Here’s a selection of recommended combination holiday suggestions to choose from.

Panorama Route & Kruger National Park: 5 Days

God's Window on Panorama Route
The stunning view of the valley below is what makes God's Window such a popular stop on the Panorama Route
Best time to visit Kruger National Park in South Africa
A tourist captures a shot of elephants in Kruger National Park

 Highlights

Fast facts

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.

Addo Elephant National Park & Western Cape: 6 Days

Whale watching in Hermanus
Southern right whale breaching in Hermanus
African Lion is one of the big five animals
A male lion, one of the Big Five, stares afar

 Highlights

  • 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.

Fast facts

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:
Shark cage diving tour
Hermanus whale watching and wine tour

Mapungubwe, Kruger, Wakkerstroom & Kgalagadi: 9 Days

Kruger National Park in South Africa
A herd of elephants stop for a drink from a pool of water in the Kruger National Park

Highlights

  • A self-drive safari in the classic lowveld 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.

Fast facts

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 Park in 3 days if you are short on time!

Drakensberg, Golden Gate & Kruger: 5 Days

Drakensberg Mountain in South Africa
Drakensberg Mountain in South Africa

Highlights

  • 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.

Fast facts

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.

Johannesburg, Cape Town & Addo Elephant: 8 Days

Johannesburg, one of the great urban destinations of the world
Aerial view of Johannesburg, a vibrant mega-city of South Africa
Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa
Elephants is the biggest attraction and a common sighting at the Addo Elephant National Park

 Highlights

Fast Facts

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.

Garden Route & Addo Elephant National Park: 10 Days

Garden Route Road Trip in South Africa
The road trip covers a 300km stretch of road that leads travelers along coastal roads

Highlights

  • 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.

Fast Facts

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

Addington Beach, Hluhluwe & Sodwana Bay: 9 Days

Cape Buffaloes are one of the big five animals in Africa
A male Cape Buffalo stares right ahead

Highlights

  • 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.
  • Spend time in Durban, South Africa’s third-largest city.
  • Optional trip to Sodwana Bay for some of South Africa’s best diving.

Fast Facts

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

Golden Gate, Johannesburg & Mapungubwe: 6 Days

Golden Gate Highlands National Park in South Africa
Golden Gate Highlands National Park is known for the large rock formations

Highlights

  • Spend time in the majestic Maluti Mountains of Golden Gate National Park, where you can tour the local historic sites.
  • Take a trip to Lion Park 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.

Fast facts

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.

Sun City & Pilanesberg: 5 Days

Hot air balloon over Pilanesberg National Park
Hot air balloons float serenely over Pilanesberg National Park
A lion at Pilanesberg National Park
A lion struts on one of the many roads in Pilanesberg National Park

 Highlights

  • 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.

Fast facts

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.

Cape Town, Kruger & Sun City: 10 Days

Cape Town in South Africa
Table Mountain looms over Cape Town
Leopard is one of the Big five animals
A leopard walking towards the camera in Kruger National Park

 Highlights

Fast facts

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.

If you like this itinerary, try:
Shark Cage Diving Tour
Whale Watching in Hermanus & Wine

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.

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