2 Weeks in Southern Africa

Want to visit Southern Africa but don’t have a lot of time? Follow in my footsteps and you’ll be amazed at how much you can see and do with just two weeks in southern Africa!

southernafrica

My trip to southern Africa was honestly life changing. I dreamed of going ever since I was a little kid and had such high expectations for the trip. I had no idea that reality could be better than the dream. From start to finish, our trip through South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana was perfect and there is literally nothing I would do differently. If you want to have the best trip of your life, do exactly what I did!

Cape Town-Sabi Sand Game Reserve/Kruger National Park-Victoria Falls-Chobe National Park-Johannesburg

Days 1-4: Cape Town, South Africa

Two things we wish we had been able to do were Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and a township tour. You must buy your Robben Island tickets in advance. To take a township tour, try to arrange it with either your hotel or travel agent in advance. We tried to do it the day of but it’s a coordinated effort between your guide and the township guide and needs to be arranged early in the day and by the time we asked about it, we were too late.

two weeks in south africa-cape townCape Town is probably the most gorgeous city I’ve ever visited. There is so much to do here that you will inevitably feel like you need at least a few more days here to do everything (enough is never enough!)

When you first arrive in Cape Town, take a walk down the V & A Waterfront. There’s something for everyone here, with a big mall, a Ferris wheel, tons of bars and restaurants and great views of the city. It’s also very safe to walk around here as there are police officers everywhere.

two weeks in southern africa great white sharks gaansbaiMy favorite activity that we did in Cape Town was cage diving with great white sharks in Gansbaai, home of Shark Alley and lots and lots of great whites. This is a full day activity and it will go way too fast! We went through Marine Dynamics and saw 18 different sharks!

two weeks in southern africa cape town

Bo-kaap, Cape Town

Take a city tour and see some of the beautiful neighborhoods nestled at the base of Table Mountain. Cape Town is a very historical city, a very diverse city, so the neighborhoods and old buildings are really interesting to see.

Africa 047As part of your Cape Town tour, visit Signal Hill, which is near Table Mountain. Here you will find great views of the city, the coast, and the mountains.

Africa 055Of course, no visit to Cape Town is complete without going to the top of South Africa’s most iconic landmark, Table Mountain. There are two ways to get up Table Mountain: hike or take a cable car.

carThe Table Mountain Cableway costs R225 round trip (A bit over $18 US at the time of this posting). The ride up takes 5 minutes and runs from sun up to sun down. If you’d rather hike, it will take you about 4 hours, so plan an entire day at the Mountain.

Canopy Walk at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

Canopy Walk at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

Spend a relaxing afternoon strolling in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the eastern side of Table Mountain. The gardens showcase South Africa’s most beautiful plant life and you’ll also find a plethora of birds and butterflies in the flowers. Kirstenbosch is also home to tAdmission is only R50.

Africa 126You must take a day trip around the Western Cape. The tour will take you down the breathtaking coast and you’ll stop at Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, which is the most southwestern point of the African continent. Next stop-Antarctica.

ostrichBe on the lookout for wildlife. There are baboon, antelope, and even ostrich roaming the Western Cape.

Boulder's Beach penguin colony

Boulder’s Beach penguin colony

Africa 154The next stop will take you to Boulder’s Beach, home to a large colony of endangered African penguins. They’re super adorable! Unfortunately, you are no longer allowed to go onto the beach and you must stay on a boardwalk which is packed with other tourists, but it’s still really cool to watch the penguins swim and play.

wine

Take a wine tasting tour at one of the Western Cape’s famous wineries. Constantia Valley is the closest to Cape Town, although I’d say Stellenbosch is arguably the more famous of the two, and only about an hour outside of the city. We’re not really big wine drinkers, but spending some time in the quaint, laid back towns are a great way to spend an afternoon.

Days 5-9: Safari in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Africa 854Our favorite part of our trip was our safari in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa. It’s adjacent to Kruger National Park and the animals are able to roam freely between the two parks. Spend a few days on safari, trying to spot the Big Five. It probably won’t take you long!

giraffeWe stayed at Idube Game Reserve and could not have asked for a better experience. Your days will start early with a wake-up call at 5 am. It’s not as bad as it sounds because you’ll probably be so excited to go out on safari that you’ll be wide awake in no time! The game drives start at 6 and last until 9 or 9:30. Once you’re back at camp, you’ll have breakfast and the opportunity to go on a bush walk with your ranger. Even though you’ll be tempted to take a nap, the bush walks are a great opportunity to see the animals from a different point of view. Lunch is at 2 and the afternoon drive begins at 3:30 pm. You’ll stay out until about 7 and then you’ll wash up and head to dinner at 8. It’s tiring, but I promise you will not want to leave. Stay as many days as you can.

Days 9-11: Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Africa 1078A visit to Victoria Falls will be one of the highlights of your Southern Africa journey. The falls straddle the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe and can be reached on either side. We stayed on the Zimbabwe side as all of the hotels in Livingstone, Zambia were booked solid. Both sides offer awesome activities such as helicopter rides over the Falls and white water rafting. You can buy a dual Zambia/Zimbabwe visa which allows you easier border crossings, although there will probably be a line no matter what time of day you try to cross. The bridge between the countries closes at 6 pm so make sure you’re back on your correct side before it closes!

Days 11-13: Safari at Chobe National Park, Botswana

Africa 1190Chobe National Park is just an hour and a half away from Victoria Falls, so it’s an easy add-on to your trip. Chobe is unique as the Chobe River runs through it, allowing you to do land safaris as well as boat safaris. Botswana is also home to Africa’s largest elephant population, so it’s a guarantee that you will see a lot of them!

Africa 1241Day 14: Johannesburg, South Africa

Fly to Johannesburg and prepare to head home.

27 comments

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    • Pamela on July 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    This has been a dream of mine for a long time. I would love to go on a safari as well…. Thank You for this…
    Pamela recently posted…I Now Understand – Vulnerable WomenMy Profile

    1. I hope you get to go someday, it is a really special experience.

  1. Looks fantastic! I’ve only been to South Africa once and I was pretty much based in Cape Town although we went on safari and to the penguin sanctuary. Lovely!
    Victoria@ The British Berliner recently posted…The secret to surviving Berlin Fashion Week is to sip champagne, quaff on cocktails and drink lots and lots of water – Part I!My Profile

    1. You can’t go wrong in Cape Town! I could have spent 2 weeks just doing things in that city!

    • Amy on September 16, 2015 at 12:30 am

    I have always wanted to go to Africa, and honestly your blog was the first one I found that made it seem realistic to consider (both cost-wise and time-wise)! I had a quick question though – there are a lot of options for Chobe National Park. Do you mind sharing which option/safari/river cruise you choose?

      • Katrina H. on September 17, 2015 at 11:42 am
        Author

      Wow Amy, thanks so much for sharing that! I am so happy my blog has made you feel like you could actually go (you totally can!).

      When we were in Chobe, we stayed at Elephant Valley Lodge. It’s not directly in the park (those camps were super pricey) but they aren’t too far and they alternated between land and cruise safari each day. The cool part about Elephant Valley was that they have a watering hole on the property so you can sit on your porch and watch herds of elephants come to drink, or baboons, or giraffe, warthog, occasional lions etc. So cool!

      I hope you make it there soon! It took some planning and saving, but it was worth every single penny!

    • Lori on October 21, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Early stages of trip planning, and your blog has been really helpful in terms of giving realistic options to see several countries in a relatively short time. Did you fly between Cape Town and Jo’burg, Jo’burg and Victoria Falls, Zimbawe (and the reverse)?? And did you rent a car to explore the Western Cape?

    Thanks in advance!

      • Katrina H. on October 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm
        Author

      Lori, so happy to hear that! You can definitely see a lot in two weeks, as you see here 🙂

      This was our flight route: Our flight to Africa arrived in Jo’burg and then we took another flight to Cape Town. From Cape Town we flew to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI). From there, we flew on to Livingstone, Zambia to see Victoria Falls. We took a van from Zimbabwe to our lodge in Botswana and we flew back to Jo’burg from Kasane airport in Botswana.

      We didn’t rent a car while we were there because we took a private tour through Rhino Africa, but we both agreed that when we go back someday we would definitely want to rent a car and just drive through the Cape. It’s so beautiful and you will want to stop every 5 mins for pictures! The roads are good and you should have no problems driving around on your own!

        • Lori on October 22, 2015 at 1:11 pm

        Thanks so much – your itinerary is almost exactly what we had in mind, so the details help enormously. What safari company did you use in Chobe National Park (if you’d recommend them)?

        1. I guarantee you will LOVE your trip if you take this one!!

          We stayed at Elephant Valley Lodge. It was comfortable and they had a fantastic watering hole on the property where herds of elephants and giraffe and baboons etc went to drink. There’s not much better in life than eating dinner while watching elephants! The only real downside to them was that they aren’t IN Chobe so it was about a 25 min drive each way to get to the park. However, I assume you probably will pay a lot more to stay at a park in the lodge, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons.

    • Karilyn on October 28, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I wanted to find out more about how you got to Vic Falls… did you fly? organize it all yourself or do a tour? we are looking to go to SA with our 5 yr old son. He only wants to go to places where he doesn’t have to get the yellow fever vaccination, but i saw that we can go up to where you guys went!

    also, did you find there were lots of jeeps wondering around the sabi sands reserve? there seem to be so many hotels around that i fear we will keep running into other jeeps out there!

    Unfortunately for us, the only one that allows children under 6 is INSANELY expensive.. wondering if we take the plunge and just do it or try to find cheaper options. The sister hotel to the one you stayed in allows children in the hotel, but not on the game drives if they are under 6… it was the most reasonably priced one we could find.

    Would love any other resources you used to research your trip. I’m deep in the trenches here 🙂
    Karilyn recently posted…Tour Cambodia in PhotosMy Profile

      • Katrina H. on October 28, 2015 at 11:26 am
        Author

      Hey Karilyn!

      We flew to VIc Falls from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI). We had sort of a hybrid tour/on our own trip. We booked all of the big things together from Rhino Africa, but we also had some free time which we used to do the helicopter tour over the Falls. Honestly though, Vic Falls is really easy to organize on your own. Wild Horizons is the main (only?) tour group and pretty much all activities and transport to activities are through them.

      There are a lot of lodges in Sabi Sands but the cool thing is that they’re all connected by radio and the whole time you’re on your drive your guide is communicating with all of the other guides. They do this for several reasons. 1. If you find something awesome you can let everyone else know where it is. 2. They find out who is at the awesome place and they stagger it so there’s never more than 3 or 4 trucks at one time. That might sound like a lot of people, but in the national parks it’s WAAAAY worse. When we were on safari in Chobe there would be like 25 jeeps in one place because everyone just shows up at the same time and nobody can see anything.

      The trip was very involved and I tried booking it myself at first, but there are so many moving parts (like, okay you have arranged your flights but then what about transport to the lodge which is almost 2 hours away?). Like I said, we used http://www.rhinoafrica.com/ and we were sooo happy we did! I would definitely recommend sending them an inquiry. They would probably be able to help regarding traveling with your 5 year old too!

    • Catherine on April 1, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Hi Katrina,

    I am currently planning a trip to South Africa with my boyfriend and your itinerary sounds amazing. Was just wondering what time of year you went? Did you experience bad weather anywhere? From my research it seems that May to September is a good period to go. Thinking September as apparently it is the dry season in the safari – this does mean that it might be wet/not very warm in Cape Town though.

    Also are Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Idube Game Reserve part of Kruger National Park? I can’t seem to figure it out!

    Thanks so much x

    1. Hi Catherine,

      We went in mid-May and the weather was EXCELLENT! Perfect, no rain, not too hot and not cold. My South African physical therapist always told me to go in May or September and she was not wrong.

      Idube is located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve which is directly adjacent to Kruger Park. In fact, there is no fence between the two parks so animals migrate between them both all the time. I would highly recommend doing your safari in Sabi Sand as opposed to Kruger because the animal concentration is much denser in Sabi and since it’s a private game reserve they do not have to just stay on the paved main roads and you can get much closer to the animals.

    • Vasudha on May 25, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Hi Katrina,
    I absolutely love your itinerary and plan on doing something very similar. I was planning to go to SA during end-July to early-August. It says everywhere that it may rain in the Cape region. Does it hamper any of the sightseeing that we may want to do during the time? Also, how much time would you suggest in Jo’burg, if we decide to skip the Chobe National Park?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Vasudha!

      I think that rain might get in the way of some sightseeing (such as going to the top of Table Mountain to see the view) but there is plenty to do there that you could do even if it’s raining. I can’t comment on how bad the rain is as it was perfect when we went, but hopefully it won’t be too heavy!

      As far as Jo’burg….I would probably recommend adding time onto other places you want to go. I have a friend who was born and raised there and she said there’s no real reason to go there as it’s not safe in so many areas and there is nothing you must see there. Perhaps you could add a few days onto your Victoria Falls portion and do a safari in Hwange National Park? It’s very near Vic Falls and is supposed to be amazing.

    • Natali on June 26, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Katrina this trip looks amazing. How many people did you travel with? Do you mind sharing what this trip ended up costing overall per person? I’m trying to figure out how much to tell my family members they would need to save 😊.

    1. Hi Natali! This was my honeymoon so I traveled with my husband. We booked our trip through Rhino Africa which specializes in southern Africa travel. At the safari lodges there were other people, but sometimes like in Cape Town and Victoria Falls it was just us. We wanted a nicer than average trip because it was our honeymoon and we spent about $7,000 per person (a lot more than we would usually spend!) You can do this trip for much less though if you don’t stay at 4 and 5 star hotels. If you are very interested you can contact Rhino Africa or other travel agencies there and give them your budget and they will make an itinerary for you with an estimated price!

    • emy on August 9, 2016 at 12:55 am

    hey,

    This itinerary is exactly what i need to plan my 2week trip to SA. Am heading out in October.
    However the only problem is that I have with this itinerary is that I to fly in and out of Johanneburg (mainly budget reasons)
    Can you suggest how I should divide my days out evenly to make the most out of my trip and not spend too much time around airports and in a car?

    I am open for any suggestions as at the moment I have a safari, capetown and the garden route in mind.
    thank you
    emy

    1. Hi Emy! We also flew in and out of Jo’burg. I found a cheap 1-way flight from JNB-CPT for about $40. We did take flights within the country and to Vic Falls, and then back to JNB from Botswana. Are you doing any flights after arriving, or are you just planning to drive everywhere?

    • Calven on August 12, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Hi there, just found this blog and that is amazing! Thanks for sharing!! Just a question, may I know roughly how much I should budget for the trip (according to your itinerary) excluded flight?
    Thanks

    1. Hey Calven, we spent roughly $12,000 USD on this trip. Holy crap, I know, so expensive! We could have done it cheaper had we stayed at cheaper places, or cut out a part of the trip, but it was our honeymoon so we went all out. SA has a lot of budget options, and you can do overland camping safaris for only a few grand! If you aren’t into the camping safaris, I’d suggest contacting a southern Africa based travel agency and giving them your budget and they will put together an appropriate itinerary for you (which is what we did!)

    • sam on September 24, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Thanks Katrina – this has given me a really great guide to arranging my trip for my family – very informative. Was the cost $12000 pp as we have a teenage daughter so that would be mega expensive. Would where you stayed suit families? Did you book your flights yourself and then get Rhino to do the rest? We can either go July or Beginning of April I am veering more towards April as I think the weather may be better but it looks although it would be a lot cheaper to travel in July or August. Thank again

      • Katrina H. on September 27, 2016 at 9:46 am
        Author

      Hi Sam! The cost was for both of us. We bought our flights to and from South Africa and then Rhino Africa took care of everything else, including flights and transport throughout the trip. I think everywhere we stayed would be good for families. I can’t imagine how exciting this trip would be to a teenager! I’d also go in April as July will be really cold, while April will be fall and much more temperate.

    • sam on September 28, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Hi Katrina,

    Thank you for your advice – I will pick April – who wants to go when its cold.

    Thanks for all the tips really enjoyed your blog.

    Kind Regards

    Samantha

    • elln on November 7, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    What month did you go to South Africa?

    1. We went in mid-May!

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