2 weeks in South Africa is not enough to discover it all but does give you the opportunity to discover the lush Southern part of the country. In this South Africa itinerary, we share with you our two weeks in South Africa and bring you along on our road trip from Cape Town to Port Elisabeth. You pass some of the fantastic highlights such as the Cape of Good Hope, the Garden Route, and the Addo Elephant National Park. But that’s not all. Read on to discover what else this South Africa itinerary for 2 weeks offers.
2 weeks in South Africa
We start off in Cape Town, also known as “The Mother City”. There are plenty of things to do here to keep you occupied for a few days.
You can’t visit Cape Town without going up the Table Mountain. You can choose to take the cableway or you could walk up and down the mountain. Alternatively, you can do a combination of both. The Kirstenbosch Gardens are also certainly worth a visit, although it poured from the heavens when we were there and we didn’t really get to enjoy it. You can also catch a concert in the gardens during spring and summer (November to March). We also walked to the top of Lion’s Head. This was quite a trek, but the view is fantastic. I had hoped to go paragliding from Signal Hill, but the weather, unfortunately, put a stop to that.
These days we also like to do a cycling tour of a city. We think this is a great way to explore a city, and it is less exhausting than walking everywhere. We used AWOL tours in Cape Town and were quite happy with them.
We also took the boat to Robben Island. The tour was a bit disappointing. But maybe we are comparing to much. Sylvia did this tour a few years ago when former prisoners would guide the groups around the island. It was intense to hear their stories about the things they had experienced on this island. Although the website still claimed our tour guide would be a former prisoner they quickly rectified this after we had deboarded our ferry. Apparently the last surviving prisoner had died not so long ago.
Our guide still told the story with a good amount of passion, drama, and emotions, but we found that the group was too big, and it all had to go too quickly. We were rushed through the buildings with not enough time to look at the displays and there wasn’t enough time to take everything in.
Still, if you want to learn more about the dramatic history of South Africa and you aren’t going to Johannesburg, this is the best place to do so.
Protea Hotel breakwater lodge
We stayed at Protea Hotel Waterfront Breakwater Lodge because of its location near the V & A waterfront. V & A Waterfront is obviously something that mainly attracts tourists, but it is a nice place to have a drink or enjoy breakfast or dinner along the water’s edge. There’re many restaurants in several different price ranges. Even for breakfast, we managed to pick a different restaurant each of the 4 days we were here. It’s a short, easy and safe walk away from the hotel to the V&A waterfront and back.
The rooms in the hotel are clean and tidy. We were upgraded to a suite because of our Platinum status with Marriott Rewards, Marriott’s loyalty program. The suite was quite spacious. From others, we hear that some of the regular rooms are a bit on the small side. The location is however super good and therefore we would absolutely recommend this hotel.
Today you pick up your rental car for a road trip of around 160 km around the Cape Peninsula. The scenic area lies below Cape Town. If you would have the time you could spend a few days here but you can catch the highlights in a day.
You can choose to do the full loop and end back in Cape Town, or you can travel onward to Franschhoek.
If you decided to do the full loop, it is best to start in Muizenberg and travel the opposite way of what we describe below. It is about a half an hour drive from Cape Town to Muizenberg. This way you can plan your trip accordingly to view the sun setting from Chapman’s Peak Drive.
You leave Cape Town and pass the elegant suburbs Clifton and Camps Bay. Villas with views of the Bay quickly reach 2 to 3 million euro. You continue on along the coast to Houtbaai. This is where the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive starts. The road was carved out along the coast between 1915 and 1922, an incredible bit of engineering, especially for that time.
This toll route is known as one of the most beautiful in the world. There are several spots along the route where you can stop and take photos. It’s definitely a scenic route and I can only imagine how hard it must have been to construct this road with the tools that where available hundred years ago but I can’t say we were completely blown away by the views. Maybe because we have already seen so many other beautiful sites or maybe because we were there at the wrong time. We were there around 2 pm, if you can I would try to plan your visit in the golden hours (shortly after sunrise or shortly before sunset), that will definitely make the route more photogenic.
We went to Kommetjie next. Be sure to stop at Long Beach – the white sandy beach tempts you to go for a walk, especially during a nice day.
You follow the coast further toward the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. The latter is the most southerly point of the Cape Peninsula.
You come to a split in the road. Here you can go straight to Simon’s Town, but if you want to visit the Cape you must turn to the right. It is about a 30-minute drive from here. Be on the lookout for baboons, but take care that they don’t steal your food.
You will follow the same route until this split on your way back and this time you take a right to Simon’s Town. Near Simon’s Town is Boulder’s Beach, known for its penguin colony. It is great fun watching these clumsy, cute and loud animals.
A little bit further down the coast lies Muizenberg where you can stop to view the well-known colored beach huts.
Between May and September, there is a good opportunity you can spot whales driving along the coast between Simon’s town and Muizenberg. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for blows along the horizon.
This full loop will take anything from 5 to 6 hours without stops. To continue to Franschhoek you will need an additional 60 to 90 minutes.
Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are the two most popular places to stay in the wine region. They lie about half an hour’s drive apart. Franschhoek is a charming village not much larger than one main street that you can wander down while you cast your eye over some artwork in the galleries. You will find the same Cape Dutch style of building in Stellenbosch, but Franschhoek easily wins the charm-stakes.
Wine tasting is no doubt one of the most important activities of the day. Most hotels can supply you with a little map with an overview of the wineries. If you really want to taste a lot of wine, you can do one of the organized tours, or hire a private driver. We liked the wines from the Stellenbosch vineyards, but of course, this is different for everyone. And even though we really like wine, we did not manage to spend a full day on wine tastings alone, and so we did a Segway tour through the vineyards as well. You can do this at Spier. Also taste their wine, the white 21 Gables comes highly recommended.
Protea Hotel Franschhoek
The recently renovated Protea Hotel Franschhoek is a charming hotel with colorful rooms. The hotel is at the end of the main street of Franschhoek. We had a delectable meal in the Hussar Grill in the hotel but you don’t need to stick to the hotel restaurant. The main street is lined with many other excellent restaurants, all within walking distance. You can admire the fine pieces of art in the galleries on the main street as you make your way to your restaurant. Absolutely recommended!
From Franschhoek, you drive on to Oudtshoorn. Oudtshoorn lies in the Klein Karoo area, a dry and barren area that looks completely different from the wine country. The area does not get more than 250-400 mm of rain annually.
Oudtshoorn is also called the feather capital of South Africa. There are lots of enormous ostrich farms here. You can visit them and take part in the guided tours to learn more about these birds and typical activities are petting and feeding the birds. In some farms, you can even ride on an ostrich. If you’re not too interested in ostrich farms, you can also visit the Cango Caves, where you can do a tour of the narrow caverns and large underground spaces. The tours take about an hour.
You can combine a visit to the Cango Caves with a drive across the Swartberg pass. The drive takes about an hour and brings you past a lot of hairpin bends, ravines and dizzying cliffs (over the Swartberg Mountains).
The whole pass is a gravel road, but is manageable for all cars – but think about it twice if you have a fear of heights.
You pass a few impressive rock formations on the way, but the best is at the end where you pass the “Wall of Fire”, named after the bright red rocks that seem to be on fire at sunset.
You reach the Swartberg Pass by driving further north from the Cango Caves, towards Prince Albert.
Beautiful lodge with lovely gardens. Comfortable and modern rooms with a very large modern bathroom. Friendly and helpful staff.
From Oudtshoorn, we drove back to the coast where we spent two nights in Knysna to explore the highlights of the world-famous Garden Route.
The Garden Route is a beautiful lavish green region in southern South Africa. These 2 days are enough to explore the region but the abundance of activities offered in this region might keep you occupied for several more days.
The Garden Route lies mostly in the Tsitsikamma National Park. You can explore the park on foot or, more original, do a tour in the park on a Segway. There are loads of other activities available like zip lining, bungee jumping (from the Bloukrans Bridge – one of the highest in the world) or quad biking.
There are some really beautiful spots outside the Tsitsikamma National Park too. If you like a good hike, you should absolutely go hiking in the Robberg Nature Reserve near Plettenberg Bay. You can also go on a full day hike, bike, and kayak trip. And during whale season from June to November, there is a good chance of spotting whales.
There’re several smaller towns along the garden route. The most popular places to stay are Knysna and Plettenberg Bay as these are centrally located.
Knysna is a nice town to stay in. It is situated on the edge of a lagoon where you can engage in all sorts of water activities. For instance, you can go whale spotting from July to September, or do an eco-marine boat tour.
Knysna had plenty of great activities to offer. You can go sailing, take an eco-nautical boat tour, go cycling around the lagoon do a canyoning trip and much more.
Knysna is also called the oyster capital of South Africa. If you like oysters, visit the shop/restaurant 34 South. Finger-licking good.
Because we know Belgians that moved to South Africa, We stayed with them in the very charming and picturesque town of Wilderness.
Cloverleigh Guest House
Cloverleigh Guest House is run by Gert and Nadia, 2 Belgians. The b&b is located along the edge of the Wilderness Lagoon. After our stay, we perfectly understand what has brought them here. This small village has several nice restaurants and during a walk on the beach, you can marvel at the beautiful villas that were built here at the edge of the beach with a majestic view over the ocean.
You can either stay in a Rondavel, an apartment or a studio. Each cottage has its own bathroom and kitchen (or kitchenette). If you have the taste of the South African braai culture then you are probably happy to hear that every house has its own braai. If you do not feel like eating yourself, the restaurants are just a short walk away along the beautiful boardwalk.
From Knysna, it is a 3-hour drive to the Addo Elephant Park. The Kruger park is certainly more renowned but far out of the way to include in a 14 days South Africa itinerary. Addo Elephant Park is a good alternative, it also gives you that safari-feeling. The elephant is the symbol of Addo and more than 300 are living in the park, but despite its name, you can see far more than only elephants in this park. You should be able to spot all of the big 5 (lions are mainly in the southern part of the park), Cheetah, Wild Dog and various species of antelope. In contrast to the Kruger Park, this park is completely malaria-free.
There are several options to do a safari.
Addo Elephant Park is perfect for a self-drive. The roads are good and are for the most part tarred, some are gravel. You will get a map at the entrance which is easy to follow. You don’t need a 4×4 to drive around here. Mathyolweni Gate is the closest entrance of the park to Port Elizabeth.
If you do drive yourself, be sure to have a look at the watering holes. There is a good chance you can watch elephants take a mud bath.
At the entrance of the park, you will find so-called hop-on guides. These provide guiding services to tourists that do a self-drive in the park. Their rates are fixed and can be found on the website of the Addo Elephant National Park.
If you do not like to drive yourself you can also book a guided game drive or book a full day tour from Port Elisabeth.
A self-drive is certainly a nice way to discover Addo Elephant park but it might add some value to also do one organized game-drive. A big advantage of an organized game drive is that nobody should be on the road that everyone can quietly look around and enjoy the safari while the ranger tells his story. The organized game drives happen in an open terrain vehicle.
Gorah Elephant Camp
In Addo Elephant National Park you can stay inside the park’s boundaries and still enjoy the luxury of a 5-star resort. You will get a true camp feeling as all animals are freely roaming around this hotel but at the same time, you will be stunned by the skills of the kitchen staff. A stay inside the park will offer you the best possibilities to view the big predators. You can start your game drive early, as soon as the sun rises, even before the parks gates open at 7 am. The Gorah camp also has highly trained rangers and they’re allowed to leave the tracks and enter some sections of the park only open for organized game drives by this hotel.
Camp Figtree Addo
A little remote you will find this beautiful hotel with the most amazing views. The rooms are very large and comfortable with doors opening onto a veranda where you can enjoy the sunset before you head to the restaurants for a mouthwatering meal.
You have two options to get back to Cape Town.
You could opt to drive back. This would be the cheapest option as it would save you the drop-off fee for the car. Be prepared to spend quite some time in the car, the drive would take approximately 8 to 9 hours.
A quicker but more expensive alternative is to fly. The flight time from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town is about 1 hour and 30 minutes. There are multiple direct flights between both cities. You could opt to fly with South African Airways, British Airways or Safair.
We enjoyed this beautiful region of South Africa during our road trip. There are many highlights like Cape of Good Hope, the garden route, the Wine region, Cape Town and Addo Elephant Park. Bon vivants will love the wine region where you can literally taste hundreds of wines. They might also be surprised by the wealth of restaurants and how affordable it is to live the good life in the mother city. Nature lovers can indulge in various hikes around Cape Town and will love the cape and Addo Elephant Park. The activities in the garden route will attract both adrenaline junkies (with a dazzling bungee jump) as well as nature lovers.
In the whale watching season which runs from June to November, you might want to include Hermanus as this is a prime whale-watching destination.
Tips for your South Africa road trip
We would like to give you the following tips:
Limit the daily distances to a reasonable amount so you don’t spend too much time in the car. The roads in South Africa are generally good, but often there is only one lane, and travel takes longer than you’re expecting. And as we said before, we really discourage driving after dark. Here you will find more information about making a road trip in South Africa.
We booked all our hotels beforehand. This is recommended, especially during the high season because the good hotels often fill up quickly.
When you are planning a trip to South Africa keep in mind that besides a safari and hiking the country has so much more to offer and your vacation can become so much better if you throw in some adventure and activities. Take a look at this 8 adventure activities you must do while you are in South Africa.
If you have 3 weeks to spend, take a look at our 3 week South Africa itinerary.
Here are some travel guides to get you started.
|Lonely planet South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland||The Rough Guide South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland|
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