Tour Book (incl UK P&P): £299
Duration: 25 nights / 26 days (excl flights)
Mileage: 1,650 miles
South Africa truly is a world in one country and offers an unparalleled touring experience. This ‘Journey of a Lifetime’ tour starts, and finishes in Cape Town, and visits the winelands of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Robertson and Constantia.
You will see whales in Hermanus (between June and November) – location for the world’s closest land-based whale watching. You will drive some awe-inspiring and stunning mountain passes. You will go on safari in the Addo Elephant National Park and in luxury private game reserves. You will visit cities, towns and quaint villages, drive along the coast, across rolling countryside and over incredible mountain ranges. The tour encompasses the Western Cape and a small section of the Eastern Cape regions of South Africa.
With the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic to the west, South Africa’s coastline is one of the most varied, spectacular and beautiful in the world. The hinterland boasts an unrivalled wealth of flora with six of the world’s seven floral kingdoms. The fauna is world-famous with the likes of elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes, zebra etc.
This is an incredible tour and one not to be missed!
May be subject to change.
Arrive in Cape Town, most likely on a morning flight. Make your way to the centre of Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront for the first five nights of the tour. Stay at one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, the One & Only, with rooms overlooking the iconic Table Mountain. The day is at leisure, to either relax or wander around the Waterfront.
Cape Town is acclaimed as one of the world’s most attractive cities, blessed with blue skies, a wonderful climate and a magnificent backdrop of ocean and mountains. With a rich cultural heritage the city boasts a wealth of museums, art galleries and theatres, and an excellent choice of restaurants and shops. Presided over by Table Mountain and skirted by the Atlantic Ocean and exquisite beaches, top attractions include the V&A Waterfront and Robben Island to name a few.
Enjoy a fabulous circular tour down to the Cape of Good Hope. Leave the Waterfront and head through Constantia and along Boyes Drive, offering spectacular views of False Bay. Stop at Simonstown, South Africa’s naval town, to visit some of the museums, before continuing to Boulders Beach to see the famed African penguin colony.
Then continue along the cornice road to the National Park. Drive through the park to Cape Point and/or the Cape of Good Hope. You will hopefully see Cape Mountain zebra, baboons and ostriches, as well as lots of other flora and fauna. Return to Cape Town via the western side of the Cape Peninsula, visiting lovely villages such as Nordhoek with its incredible beach, and then drive the sensational Chapman’s Peak Drive to Hout Bay. This is a truly spectacular corniche road and often voted as one of the best in the world. It’s then a lovely drive from Hout Bay back to Cape Town.
No driving today, but a day to enjoy the sights and sounds of Cape Town. There’s plenty to do and see at the V&A Waterfront, or you can take a boat trip to Robben Island, where Mandela was incarcerated for years.
Central Cape Town is home to a wealth of interesting sights. Visit the Castle of Good Hope, South Africa’s oldest building, dating back to 1679 and built to protect the settlement from possible attack. The 190 year old South African Museum is truly excellent , with over 1.5 million specimens of scientific importance. It is located in the beautiful Company’s Gardens, an attractive, shady botanical garden that was originally a vegetable garden established by Jan van Riebeeck to supply local settlers and visiting ships with fresh produce.
Also known as the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap is mainly inhabited by descendants of slaves who were brought in from India and the East Indies. It is an area of narrow cobblestone streets, mosques and distinctive architectural style, with pastel colours and ornamentation. The Bo-Kaap Museum is also worth a visit.
Visit the outstanding Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful garden in Africa and one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.
Rising over 1000m, Table Mountain offers a fantastic vista over the Cape Town area and beyond. The revolving cable car makes the journey very easy but for the energetic, there are marked trails. See the Rock Dassies (little rodents) and the wonderful flora and fauna. There are some 1470 species of plants, including more than 500 species of Erica and over 100 species of Iris. Upon descending Table Mountain treat yourself to a fabulous and renowned institution that is afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, or The Nellie as it’s known.
Leave Cape Town and drive through Constantia down to False Bay. Head east along the shores of False Bay to Strand, to visit the Cheetah Outreach Program for a tour of the facility and the chance to see these beautiful animals (and others such as jackals, meerkats and carcals) up close and learn about them.
Then enjoy lunch at Waterkloof Vineyards, which is stunningly situated with views across the whole of False Bay and the Hottentot Holland Mountains.
In the afternoon visit the renowned Vergelegen Estate, one of the oldest estates and Cape Dutch manor houses. Or nearby is the wine and olive estate of Morgenster, or the wonderful winery at Lourensford. Drive to Stellenbosch and stay at a beautiful and historic Cape Dutch manor house and vineyard on the outskirts of Stellenbosch for the next three nights.
Spend the day exploring the delightful town of Stellenbosch. The town is home to a large university and has the quiet air of academia about it. The main street is the longest stretch of original Cape Dutch houses in South Africa and is very picturesque. There are over thirty vineyards around Stellenbosch, all open to the public for tours, tastings and sales. The town, ideally situated in a magnificent mountain valley, boasts a mild Mediterranean climate. Situated at the head of the Eerste (First) River Valley, it was one of the first valleys to be settled in. The area is full of charming scenes and rich in history. The towns, villages and farmlands contain finely preserved examples of one of the most serene forms of domestic architecture found any where in the world – the Cape-Dutch style.
Discover some of the many fabulous vineyards and wine estates in the area, along with some outstanding restaurants. We have a circular drive that encompasses the beautiful Helshoogte Pass and the wonderful Boschendal Estate, and then north to Paarl and the Fairview Vineyards. Or drive, cycle or hike in the beautiful Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, which is just up the road from the hotel.
Leave Stellenbosch and take the fantastic Clarence Drive around the coast from Gordons Bay. Stop at Betty’s Bay to see the African penguin colony or enjoy a stroll around the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, renowned for its coastal fynbos (flora unique to the Cape).
Continue on to Hermanus, on the shores of Walker Bay and site of the closest land-based whale watching in the world. Hermanus, particularly Walker Bay, is the mating and breeding grounds of the Southern Right Whales during the winter and spring months (from June through November). Southern Right Whales migrate from the Antarctic around June to calve and mate. Calving takes place in August and September and the males arrive for mating in October when the whale population peaks.
Hopefully you will see whales in the bay, and if lucky will also see them breach or spy-hop. It’s an incredible experience and a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Stay overnight at a gorgeous sea-front hotel in town.
After a lazy morning, watching whales from the hotel or whilst strolling around Hermanus, head north, across the agricultural lands of the Caledon. Stop for lunch in the charming little town of Greyton. Then continue (with a 30km of untarred road, or drive back to the main road) to Swellendam, another delightful, small town. There is the wonderful Drodsty Museum to visit – a collection of historical buildings, as well as taking time to stroll around town. Stay in a divine and sumptuous guesthouse.
Leave Swellendam and climb over the Tradouw Pass to the little town of Barrydale in the Little Karoo. The scenery changes constantly, from mountains and river valleys to wide open plains and scrubland. Continue to Calitzdorp, known for its port-wine vineyards, and then on to Oudtshoorn, a town famed for its ostrich farms. To the north is the Swartberg Mountain range, and within this are the incredible Cango Caves. See the awe-inspiring caverns, stalactites and stalagmites on the hour-long tour.
Then head over the sensational Swartberg Pass (untarred road) – one of the most amazing and inspiring mountain drives in the world. The road is flanked with proteas and fynbos, and it’s common to see little klipspringers and huge eagles. The rock formations are breath-taking. Descend to the delightful little town of Prince Albert, nestled just to the north of the pass. Stay overnight in the best hotel or nearby guesthouse, in centre of the town.
Leave Prince Albert head towards Klaarstroom. Then drive through the incredible river canyon that is Meiringspoort, to Oudtshoorn. Drive south over the Outeniqua Pass to George, at the start of the Garden Route. Continue on to Knysna and then to Harkerville, where to stay for the next three nights in some incredible and totally unique, luxury tree-top lodges, set amongst the forest canopy.
Head back along the N2 for a few kilometres to explore Knysna, one of the southern Cape coast’s best-known holiday destinations, offering a wide variety of activities and attractions. The day is at leisure to wander around the town.
Spend the day in the Garden Route’s other major town, Plettenberg Bay. Plett, as it’s popularly known, has sweeping golden beaches, the iconic Robberg Peninsula, intriguing lagoons and estuaries, towering indigenous forests and unpolluted rivers, vineyards and wine estates. With its moderate climate and beautiful view sites over the Indian Ocean, Plett’s about lazy sun-filled beach holidays and adrenalin-filled activities ranging from mountain biking to abseiling and diving with the seals. You’ll be spoilt for choice with restaurants, shopping experiences and things to do! Plett is home to wildlife sanctuaries, game reserves, whale and dolphin watching, canoeing up the Bitou and Keurbooms rivers, sailing, boating … and so much more.
Head east past the Crags and through Nature’s Valley to Port Elizabeth and then north to Addo Elephant National Park. Stay for the next two nights in a boutique small hotel, just on the edge of the Park.
Either enjoy a game drive provided by the hotel or it is also possible to drive your own vehicle around Addo Elephant National Park, or you can join an additional game drive from the main camp. There are also night drives available, which offers an excellent chance to see the nocturnal animals.
Leave Addo and head west to Kirkwood and Steytlerville, which is an ideal spot for lunch. Continue on to Willowmore and then to Zandibela, a private game reserve for an overnight stay. There is a game drive during your stay, either in the afternoon, early evening, or the following morning before breakfast. The geography of the Baviaanskloof is quite different to Addo and offers another dimension to wildlife viewing.
After breakfast leave the Baviaanskloof and head across to the little village of De Rust. Continue to Oudtshoorn and then south over the Robinson Pass towards Mossel Bay. Drive to Gondwana Private Game Reserve, the only free-ranging Big 5 private wildlife reserve in the southern Cape, and your home for the next two nights. All meals are included during the stay as well as game drives with expert guides. There will be an afternoon tea followed by a game drive and then dinner in the evening.
A full day relaxing, with no driving. Enjoy an early morning game drive and then return for breakfast. Your morning is at leisure to relax by the pool or indulge in a spa treatment before lunch. There will be another game drive in the afternoon and then dinner.
After a final game drive and breakfast, leave Gondwana. Drive west to Montagu, a gorgeous little town on the R62. Entry to the town is via Kogmanskloof, with a wonderful arch in the rock. Stay overnight in a beautiful boutique hotel in a traditional building.
Drive back through Kogmanskloof and south to Bonnievale. Then wind along the river valley, dotted with vineyards, purple jacaranda trees and wonderful flowers. Pass through Robertson and then Villiersdorp. It’s then a fabulous drive over the Franschhoek Pass to the famed town of Franschhoek, renowned for its superb wineries and its quality restaurants. Stay for three nights in a lovely small boutique hotel right in the centre of Franschhoek village.
Spend the day in Franschhoek, which is easily explored on foot. There are delightful shops and boutiques, art galleries, a variety of cafes and restaurants and, of course, wineries. There is a wine tram that allows you to visit the wineries that are a little further afield, and still have a drink or two. Franschhoek is also renowned as the gourmet capital of South Africa so sumptuous restaurants are plentiful.
There’s a beautiful circular scenic drive today, heading out of Franschhoek, past the fabulous Motor Museum (a great visit). Head up to Paarl and then drive the wonderful Dutoitskloof Pass. Descend to the Worcester wine region and drive along the Breede River valley. Then head round across the really incredible Bain’s Kloof Pass, a wonderful, little-used road, back to Wellington and Paarl. Return to Franschhoek.
Leave Franschhoek by heading back out of the valley over the Franschhoek Pass. Then drive along this fruit-producing valley and over the Viljoens Pass to Grabouw. Climb over the Hottentot Holland Mountains, via Sir Lowry’s Pass and descend to Strand. Take the N2 into Cape Town and across to Camps Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. Stay for the final two nights of the tour in a fantastic beach-front hotel in the centre of Camps Bay.
Enjoy a circular drive heading south from Camps Bay to Llandudno and onto Hout Bay. Then continue over Constantianek and into Constantia. Visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, if you have not already done so. Then make your way back to Camps Bay for a final night.
Most flights to Europe depart in the late afternoon or evening, so enjoy your last few hours on the beach or in Cape Town. Fly home.
We have hand-picked some wonderful places to stay, each with its own character, and the hotels are very luxurious. There will be extremely stylish city-centre hotels, historic manor houses, seaside luxury, charming boutique hotels, fabulous game reserves and delightful town houses. It’s a varied and memorable selection of fabulous places to stay, all with suitable parking (sometimes garaged). The hotels we have chosen are renowned for their quality food, excellent service, comfort and style.
This tour can be taken at any time of year but better/warmer weather is between October to April. To see whales then visit between June and November.
Tour Book (incl UK P&P): £299