Popular Routes – South Africa
Popular Routes Where Wildlife Viewing Is a Major Part of the Tour
With good roads and general infrastructure, South Africa is a popular self-drive destination. The circuits described below can be done as a self-drive package or you can book a comparable group or custom tour, in which case all transport will be arranged by your tour operator.
Kruger and Zululand (2 to 3 weeks)
After arriving at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), you head east to the Lowveld in the Mpumalanga province where the best wildlife parks are situated.
- Kruger National Park (3 to 5 days) is South Africa’s largest and most famous park. Whether you stay in one of the private lodges within the park or choose the more budget-friendly self-drive option, you won’t be disappointed.
- Mala Mala Game Reserve (2 to 4 days) is one of the private reserves bordering Kruger where the Big Five can be checked off on a single game drive. Mala Mala would be a great choice, but there are many other private reserves in the area offering the same standard of wildlife viewing and luxury accommodation.
- Mkhuze Game Reserve (2 to 3 days) , in KwaZulu Natal province, is excellent for watching animals from a hide: this offers some of the best photo opportunities.
- Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve (2 to 4 days) is a beautiful park with rolling hills, known for its rhino and nyala populations.
- Durban (1 to 3 days) is a great place to end your trip with some shopping and time on the beach.
- Drakensberg for hiking in this beautiful mountain range on your way back from Durban to Johannesburg
- Cape Town for visiting Africa’s most beautiful city and taking a cable car up Table Mountain
- The Garden Route for whale-watching and scenic beauty
Cape and Coast (1.5 to 2.5 weeks)
After arriving at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), you take a connecting flight to Cape Town.
- Cape Town (2 to 4 days) is one of the world’s most attractive cities with great city life and natural beauty. A highlight is a day trip to Cape Point and Boulders Beach, a nesting place for the African penguin.
- The Garden Route (4 to 8 days) is one of South Africa’s most scenic regions within the endemic Fynbos zone. From June to December, you can stop off in Hermanus, the whale-watching town. De Hoop Nature Reserve is another great base for whale watching in a more pristine environment. Knysna and Wilderness are both quaint little towns surrounded by stunning scenery and wonderful beaches. Oyster sampling in Knysna and a canoe trip on the Touws River are both recommended. Next is Tsitsikamma National Park, a great place for walks along the rugged coastline.
- Addo Elephant National Park (2 to 3 days) is home to the Big Five, but the elephant-viewing opportunities particularly are out of this world.
- Oudtshoorn (1 to 3 days) is the ostrich capital of South Africa, and the base for a visit to the extensive Cango Caves.
- Winelands tour for wine sampling and culture
- Cape Agulhas for standing on the spot where two oceans meet
- The Otter trail for hiking the most popular coastal trail in South Africa; it's a five-day hike and runs through Tsitsikamma
The Atlantic Route (1.5 to 2.5 weeks)
After arriving at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), you can choose the less-obvious route west of the country. A long drive to Upington brings you to the Kalahari, South Africa’s desert.
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (3 to 5 days) is a great park for seeing predators and dry-country adapted animals in a special setting.
- Augrabies Falls National Park (2 to 3 days) is a scenic gem with a magnificent waterfall.
- Namaqualand (3 to 5 days) is not to be missed from August to September, when the otherwise arid region transforms into a flowering desert.
- Cape Town (2 to 4 days) is the perfect city to end your tour. After a long road trip along the arid west coast of the country, the shopping, wining and dining opportunities of this world-class city will astound you. There are lots of great outdoor activities available in and around the city as well.
- Winelands Tour for wine sampling and culture
- The Garden Route for whale watching and scenic beauty