South Africa Itinerary 12 Day Tour

Introduction

Our most popular trip to date has been South Africa, and a couple of days in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We spent a long time making and researching a South Africa Itinerary

A few people have asked for this South Africa itinerary or advice, so after delving through some paper work I found our full South Africa itinerary, complete with all the companies and guides we used and have put it into this post here.

Why Travel South Africa

Before Michelle and I, met it was always on our radar we had just never got round to doing it, or never had the opportunity to do it.

The diversity and sense of adventure we thought this region would bring excited us. And in the early days of being together always talked about it.

So a few years on and when we had set a date for our wedding, we decided honeymoon would be 2 weeks travelling South Africa.

Where We Chose

Although people tried to persuade us to avoid Johannesburg, our sense of adventure and the history involved surrounding Johannesburg meant we were not going to rule it out. Added also that Johanessburg was the only airport being served direct from Australia, it made the decision easier.

This was one stop that should be in any South Africa Itinerary

We decided to do another four stops on this trip, another decision taken was a quick few days in Zimbabwe to see the stunning Victoria Falls.

Cape Town was the region of choice next. We heard about the things to do outside the city and the rugged and stunning coastline and of course Table Mountain.

Definitely have some down time on the trip it was a honeymoon after all. We had look at the wines region and two stood out Stelonbosch and Franschhoek, and after much choice opted for the latter.

And a South Africa itinerary would not be the same without safari. We went with the Sabi Sands a private game reserve. A little tip, a private game reserve allows maneuver to access off road if pursuit for a BIG 5 sighting. Where a park like the Kruger National Park are strictly roads and tracks only.

Note: The big 5 are Elephant, Lion, Cape Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard

Safari Packing List

We wont tell you what to pack for on your holidays. However for the safari section of the trip here is a few tips.

What To Bring

Bright coloured clothing should be avoided, but with that said whites are also a bad idea driving around in those open Jeeps kick up a lot of dust. Red makes you very conspicuous wildlife especially on a walking safari blue tends the attract the local tsetse fly.

Recommended colours would be Khaki, brown or olive these are known as the ideal colours.

Other recommendations would be other than standard clothes

  • Walking boots
  • Hats
  • Wind breaker jacket
  • Thick jumper (when the sun go’s down its gets very cold)
  • Camera, extra battery is also handy, you don’t want that camera running out.
  • Binoculars (these reserves are so big a little help seeing is always a positive)
  • Sun screan (is very open and very hot)
  • A notebook ( the guides are so knowledgeable and are always talking its too much to take it all in)

Reading Materials

A few book recommendations before you arrive to get you in the mood and when planning your South Africa itinerary.

  • Safari – A chronicle of Adventure – Bartie Ball
  • Scramble for Africa – Thomas Pakenham

Right lets get cracking on this itinerary

Our South Africa Itinerary

So we will break it down into days, and will use all the local guides, transport and tips we got along the way. South Africa itinerary done the right way.

We will add links bringing you to the companies websites. And not to make this to long we have given brief descriptions of the tours but links to our full tours will in each section (see underlined content)

Day 1 Arrival Johannesburg

So we arrived into Johannesburg, early morning around 5am once through immigration you go through the sliding doors and to the left is where drivers meet you.

We pre booked a driver with Sun Transfers, we had our own private air condition mini van which took us straight to the hotel Garden Court Sandton City.

Garden Court is a 3 star hotel, right opposite Sandton shopping center. Which is also the home of Nelson Mandela Square. Sandton is a fairly new area of Johannesburg and is known for being relatively safer, an area where many moved to from the center of Johannesburg to escape the rising crime rate.

The rest of day 1 was a relatively relaxed one, we generally are go go go but flying Brisbane to Perth and Perth to Johannesburg was in all a whole day travelling, we guessed and booked nothing for the day, so we sampled food and wine and had a early night in preparation for the next 11 days.

Day 2 Johannesburg and Soweto Tour

Up and at it early for breakfast at 7am to get ready for a busy day. We had booked a full day tour with the African Travel Specialists company. We dont normally use guides but being Johannesburg and being sceptical with travelling alone in this city we opted for a guide.

But we chose these because all the guides were native to the Johannesburg region, and in the case of ours a Soweto township native. And we had booked it as a private tour so we had full range without distractions.

The tour took us to Apartheid museum, Constitutional Hill, Top Africa, Mandela House and Regina Mundi and Hector Pieterson. Being a private tour as well, there was time to see Where Winnie Mandle resides (has sadly since past) Nelson Mandela’s first office, a hillside view over Constitutional Hill and a drive through the Soweto Township

This whole day was mind blowing the history and all that was learnt was a stark reminder of what has happened in this city and country as a whole.

For a more in depth view you can check out our more in depth look at Johannesburg itself with our Johannesburg Our First Stop post.

Day 3 A Few Days In Victoria Falls

Again up and at it early for a 7 am pickup with Sun Transfers to fly out of Johannesburg to Victoria Falls Airport. We had prearranged pick up with our hotel prior to our arrival.

We arrived early afternoon at Ilala Lodge and after checking in, we didn’t want to waste any time and headed off for a sunset river cruise down the Zambezi with the luxury Ra-Ikane river cruise. When researching we pick these guys because it was a small company owned and run by locals of Victoria Falls.

After the cruise we settled into the Palms restaurant at the Ilala Lodge for a snack and night cap before of to bed and recharge for a big day tomorrow

Day 4 Exploring Victoria Falls

Day 4 and continuing the theme we woke up early for sunrise as our room looked straight out at the falls. Buffet breakfast was eaten (and my it was a good breakfast) We took some time to get organised and got ready and we walked the street of Victoria Falls to the entrance of the falls.

We had orgainsed a guide to walk and talk us round this natural wonder. Again a local man who we had arranged with African Travel Specialists.

The tour was 2 hours long and we saw 16 vantage points of the falls and the Victoria Falls Bridge which connects Zimbabwe and Zambia.

After seeing this absolute wonder we only had one thing on our mind and that was we going to see this from the air. Raging we hadn’t booked this prior we found a local helicopter company Chikapokoko Helicopters. And after a quick phone call we managed to get on a cancellation and get an early evening flight aboard and see Vic Falls by air

All our trips in Victoria Falls can be found in more detail in Victoria Falls Adventure – nature’s true wonder

Day 5 Off To Cape Town

We were flying out around lunch time, so that gave us time to visit another local site the Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artist’s Village. This was a local curio market with handmade woodworks and carvings, clothes and jewelry all handmade by locals.

We flew out of Victoria Falls into Cape Town International. There we were picked up by Airport Shuttle Cape Town. A private car and a fantastic service all sites were pointed out and there was no problems in stopping for photo opportunity.

We were dropped at the V & A Waterfront area of cape Town and at our hotel the Victoria and Alfred.

As it was late evening we settled in and headed off for dinner at the lovely Harbour House Restaurant.

Day 6 Cape Town Sightseeing

We had an early morning trip booked for the 3.5 hour tour to Robben Island. Robben Island was the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. However due to rough sea the boat trip was cancelled. For those interested we booked with the ferry company direct, for tickets see HERE

Not ones to waste the morning, and after a quick google search we headed off to City Sightseeing depot to get aboard the hop on hop off bus which took us to all parts of Cape Town. With multiple stops and routes you can see in all and spend a day exploring.

This is where we saw Table Mountain, the superb coastline, the city and the impressive stadium built to host the 2010 world cup.

Day 7 Cape Point Tour

Day 7 was one we were looking forward to. We had booked a tour through City Sightseeing as well, we were put in a small group of around 10 and had a driver and guide all day long.

The tour took us to Hout Bay, Cape Point and Boulders Beach . A great day had with so much seen from stunning views up at Cape Point, boat ride to see the seals and the penguin beach of Boulders Beach. And add some great stops along the way for a photo opportunity.

That evening we went to the V & A Food Market, to sample some street food and craft beers set in a funky warehouse setting.

To see a more in depth run down on these trips here is our Cape Town post Cape Town Where Africa Meets Europe,

Day 8 Off To The Wine Franschhoek Wine District

As you can tell there wasn’t much way of rest on this trip however this leg of the trip was a slight way of recuperating and enjoying as after it was our honeymoon.

So off we set from Cape Town to the wine district of Franschhoek. Again we used Sun Transfers, with great service and the driver pointed points of reference along the way.

Arriving in the mountains of Franschhoek we settled in to our hotel which was the Franschhoek Country House, and my what an lovely setting, lush gardens, mountain views and spacious rooms with own courtyard.

This was the only part of the trip that we hadn’t really planned we knew it would be relaxing so we said we play it by ear. We did our research and knew the wine tours and restaurants which Franschhoek are known for we would be easily booked on arrival.

For the rest of the day we opted for the pool, some cocktails and room service. A great way to catch up on some rest, and plus potential for a day of wine tasting the next day could well be imminent, a good preparation was welcomed.

Day 9 A Day Wine Tasting

Up and refreshed, we took full advantage of the continental breakfast. We decided shortly after ten to walk into the center of Franschhoek and scope out the wine tram schedule. Yes that’s right a tram that takes you round the wineries.

There are 8 different lines all servicing the large selection of wineries. We went with red line, for no apparent reason. I would say unless you research and know what wineries or wines you want to go to there is not to much difference.

The tram comes along every hour and goes along each stop. You don’t have to stop at them all if you don’t get off the tram moves on to the next one. What a great service and great idea.

After a day of wine tasting and if truth be told a quick nap we headed out to our hotels flagship restaurant the Monneaux. Even to date this experience was one of the best meals out we have ever had. You can read our review Here.

A more in depth look at our time in Franschhoek check out our Franschhoek Wine District post.

Day 10 Off On Safari Sabi Sands

Oh day 10, even after a day of wine tasting and cocktails, day 10 was the most i have ever been excited to wake up to in my life. Why? It was time to go on a real African safari.

5am was the calling time to be up and out back to Cape Town International Airport, again transferring with Sun transfers. Up early for breakfast but to our surprise we were a 5am room service call with continental breakfast was a nice and pleasant surprise.

We flew in to the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and was collected by a local who worked for the game reserve. We hopped in the 4 by 4 and headed off to the Sabi Sands private game reserve. The guide again was great an hour journey through rough terrain but talked us through every area and gave as much local knowledge as possible.

We arrived at the Savanna Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sands, around lunch time we had a quick look around bite to eat, met our guide and spotter and were off on our first game drive.

At Savanna dinners were different styles or location every night for our first night we ate out under the stars in the middle of the reserve in pure nature

Day 11 Game Drives

So we wont go into to much detail of the game drives we will put a link to more detailed version below but basically a full day of game driving, eating and resting. So this is a structure of how they work a day. And its the same every day.

6 am wake up, coffee and and a few treats to start you off for a

7 am depart and out for a 3 hour drive around the reserve stopping half way through for coffee (ask for the special its like a baileys coffee)

10 am back to base for full buffet breakfast.

10:30 12:30 down time sit around your rooms, your own plunge pools and watch nature go by.

12:30 Buffet lunch and a refuel for a 1:30 depart for the afternoon and sunset game drive. This one is longer and is 4 and half hours and you stop for sunset and drinks, beers, gins, wines and snacks you name it they were carrying it.

Then a drive back through the plains in the dark to a different dinner. This night was a Boma Dinner and show. This was where local African cuisine was sampled and local traditional African dancers performed.

Day 12 More Game Drives

Day 11 followed the exact same theme as day 10 with regards to timings and drives.

The meal for this evening was traditional African menu and we sat down with everyone at the reserve and enjoyed a three course meal together.

For a more in depth look at the safari and Savanna itself here is our take on it below.

Safari Sabi Sands South Africa

Savanna Private Game Reserve Sabi Sands

And Home

I hate to say it home day!!!! We were picked up after breakfast and taken to Kruger Mpumalanga. This transfer was arranged by the hotel so make sure you ask.

We then had the short flight to Johannesburg to bored our flight home

Itinerary End

And there we have it a perfect 12 day South Africa Itinerary and quick stop in Zimbabwe. If there are any questions or you need a help customising your Africa trip please let us know and we are more than happy to help.

Visas

South Africa

Depending on where you have come from you may need a visa prior to travelling, always check as this could at any given time. Check here for the latest visa requirements.

Zimbabwe

Depending on where you have come from you may need a visa prior to travelling. Zimbabwe has 3 categories of visa requirements. Category A no visa, Category B visa on arrival and Category 3 visa need to be obtained before travel.

We were under category 2 at the time which was on arrival. (please note only US dollars is accepted here to obtain the visa)

Always check which category your country is under and remember this could change at any given time. Check here for the latest visa requirements.

Airlines

All our internal flights within South Africa and Zimbabwe we used South African airways. Its a airline with a great reputation and we highly recommend. See more HERE. Virgin Australia was the carrier they used for the first leg of the journey.

For flights into Africa check with your local airport on who travel to the region.

And Finally

We have put together a couple of little pages with general information on South Africa and Zimbabwe. Some useful things to know like weather best times to travel etc. If you are looking to travel South Africa this could be handy.

Check out below for the relevant one

South Africa Itinerary General Information

Zimbabwe Itinerary General Information

I hope this is useful and can be of help check out our posts through this guide for further information and feel free to contact us for advice. We hope this inspires you to travel South Africa

Michelle and Richard

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Published by chalkandcheesetravels

We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

27 thoughts on “South Africa Itinerary 12 Day Tour

  1. Fantastic itinerary, thanks for sharing!…South Africa is definitely on the radar and although it’s a long way from the west coast of Canada, it still looks so enticing!

    1. Its a trip of a lifetime and we certainly highly recommend it

    1. It is an amazing place we were blessed.to see so much

  2. wattwherehow – Bernie and Jess Watt are travel bloggers from Australia, living in NYC. Award winning copywriter by day (Bernie) and legal professional (Jess), casual photographers and hobbyist Vloggers in the making, our blog blends travel experiences from around the world with tips for those coming to NYC to live or vacation.
    wattwherehow says:

    What a well-rounded experience. I never understood why khaki is king on safaris, so that was really fascinating too. Did you get to see the falls from below as well?

    1. Ill be honest i dont think you can get below only level and from above. But here a fun one there is a part on the Zambian side called devils pool. And certain times of the year you can get up to the lip of the falls in many little rock pools its 100ft down not sure i would do it myself. i found this online to show https://www.zambiatourism.com/destinations/waterfalls/victoria-falls/victoria-falls-devils-pool/

      1. wattwherehow – Bernie and Jess Watt are travel bloggers from Australia, living in NYC. Award winning copywriter by day (Bernie) and legal professional (Jess), casual photographers and hobbyist Vloggers in the making, our blog blends travel experiences from around the world with tips for those coming to NYC to live or vacation.
        wattwherehow says:

        Thank you – great tips

  3. Lannie Travels – Isle of Islay – Full time aid-worker, part time food and travel blogger. Love experiencing the world through its food culture! Happily fueled by coffee, great food, and whisky.
    Lannie says:

    I feel like I’ve heard about this vacation in bits and pieces. It’s good to see the full adventure in one go! What an absolutely incredible trip!

    1. Thanks its certainly was great. Oh.to do it again one day

  4. Hi Michelle and Richard. Victoria Falls has always been high on our list, but didn’t know there are 16 vantage points. That makes it even better! How fortunate you were to get on the helicopter tour because of a cancellation. Victoria Falls and a safari would make a perfect trip.

    1. Was certainly the perfect trip guys and would higgly recommend to anybody

  5. That looks like a fantastic itinerary. Love the idea of spending a day wine tasting, especially when you can travel by tram! The safari looked amazing and it must have been wonderful to see a leopard so close.

    1. Was great to see leopard and so close. Wine tasting was a great way to unwind could do with that now

    1. Thats great to hear hope you get on them. Hiw I would go about incorporating a itinerary map im not the most technology minded

  6. What a great itinerary – this sounds like a trip I’d really enjoy. South Africa is on my list – I’d love to do a safari and the wine tasting sounds fantastic. I love the idea of a tram that takes you around to all the wineries so no DD needed.

    1. Do I am glad it may come in handy. It was one hell of a trip Thanks for stopping by

  7. That’s what I call a honeymoon… Ellie & I spent a few days travelling around Sicily for ours haha… I remember learning about Franschhoek and finding out more about Johannesburg and some of the other places from older posts of yours. I had not been aware how much the colour of your clothing matters and how limited the choice is if you want to get it right.

    The safari experience must have been totally crazy outrageously fun. Very near the top of our bucket list. We had been hoping to go to Tanzania this summer, but Covid said no. South Africa looks even more attractive than Tanzania.

    1. Yeh we went all in for the honeymoon
      South Africa is wonderful, we are glad we did the Sabi Sands for the safari. We did research Tanzania also, but went with South Africa for the honeymoon reason with the wineries and CapeTown. But would love to do a Tanzania and Uganda safari.

      Thanks for taking the time to read

  8. Charley – Hi! My name is Charley and welcome to my little travel blog! After visitng South Africa in 2016, I caught the travel bug and have since been to 20 countries, ranging from New Zealand to Ukraine! Undaunted Adventure is a travel blog full of tips, tricks and my favourite memories. Hopefully they'll give you some inspiration to travel and to give you some hints of where to go! Roam Free - Travel Undaunted.
    Charley says:

    Wow, this is such a great itinerary! I love South Africa – can’t wait to go back and explore some more! The wine tasting sounds like the perfect addition to the trip, something a little different and unique to experience. I’ll definitely be coming back to this when I head back over to get some inspiration!

    1. Do it the wine tasting in Franschhoek is just great

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