Let Us Customize the Perfect Luxury South Africa Safari
Below are our recommended places to visit. Contact us today or call 303-778-1089 to learn more about how we are able to customize the perfect luxury South Africa safari just for you!
Known as the “City of Gold” for its gold mining history, ‘Joburg’ is the largest city in South Africa and the economic engine running the country. All roads (and many flights) lead to Joburg, so most visitors will spend at least a night here. If you want to stay longer, there are many tempting diversions available. A visit to the sprawling township of Soweto will give you a sense of the area’s history and the chance to experience the hospitality of the locals and taste some excellent food. The Apartheid Museum takes that history lesson further with a truly world-class museum detailing the country’s complex past of race relations. The city has an incredibly thriving art scene – from upscale galleries to vibrant street art. A walking tour is the best way to gain insight.
Food lovers will be well catered to in Johannesburg. From award-winning restaurants and chefs to fun and funky bistros, there is something for every palate. The country also has a robust craft brewing and artisan spirits scene (in addition to incredible winemaking), so there are opportunities to taste the myriad heady creations being made across South Africa in one place.
Joburg is also a mecca for shopping. It is home to high-end global brands, local boutique finds and everything in between. Ask a Journey Specialist about some of our secret shopping tips. Whatever you fancy, there’s more to be found in Johannesburg than you may have imagined.
Cape Town is, in many people’s view, the prettiest and most pleasant large city in Africa. Set along a dramatic coastline with scenic Table Mountain providing the backdrop, Cape Town has something for everyone.
Nature lovers can enjoy the towering mountains, hills, incredible gardens and coastline. Anyone can take the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain for must-see breathtaking views and a look at its ecosystem. Active travelers can take a challenging hike up the mountain and either hike back down or take the cable car down for an easier trip. Enjoy a leisurely stroll or an evening concert at the incredibly beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. A stroll along the promenades on the city’s coastline offers lovely views and great people watching. For the truly adventurous, there are seasonal opportunities to go shark-cage diving here and in neighboring areas to try and get up close and personal with great whites (sightings not guaranteed).
A tour of the Cape Peninsula makes for an incredible day of sightseeing. Visitors will pass through the wine producing region of Constantia, home to South Africa’s oldest wine estate. A stop for a tasting is a lovely way to spend an hour. The Cape of Good Hope is a gorgeous stop for views, photos and to stretch legs with a walk – perhaps up to the scenic Cape Point Lighthouse. Another huge highlight for visitors is a stop at Boulders Beach to see the thriving African penguin colony. Ask us about our special upgraded day tours of the peninsula that incorporate things like kayaking, hiking, private picnics and more.
History buffs can view buildings dating back hundreds of years throughout the city or take a tour of Robben Island, the site of Nelson Mandela’s incarceration for many years. They can visit the District 6 Museum for sobering and poignant insight into actions taken against non-white residents during apartheid or visit the Jewish Museum for insight into history of the Jewish people in South Africa.
Art lovers can stroll through galleries full of African and contemporary art, such as the world-renowned Zeitz Museum, which is the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world. There is no shortage of Dutch and Flemish art to be found in the city’s museums, including an excellent collection of paintings at the National Gallery.
Shoppers can visit the city’s many unique boutiques and thriving markets or make an afternoon of shopping, wining and dining at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Buskers entertain and there are plenty of choices for dining or stopping for a cool drink. The whiskey selection at the Cape Grace should stop any aficionado in their tracks. Views of Table Mountain from the V&A are unforgettable.
For those who appreciate fine dining, Cape Town offers a wide range of world-class restaurants and styles of food to please any palate. Seafood is readily available and is an easy choice with the city being on the water. The freshest shellfish, meaty kingklip, grilled calamari and sushi are just a few choices you’ll find on many menus. Cape Malay food – a rich and complex fusion cuisine with delicious spiced curries, stews and relishes – is a must try. Ask us about arranging a cooking class or a food-centric walking tour – it’s a great (and delicious) way to get to know the city’s food scene.
For any wine enthusiast or “foodie” and for those who love history and beautiful scenery, a visit to the Winelands area in the Western Cape is a must. The stars of the Winelands are Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, and they can either be visited in a day or easily spread over a week for oenophiles and food lovers. No matter what the pace, visitors are sure to enjoy the many varietals produced here — be sure to try local favorites such as chenin blanc and uniquely South African pinotage — along with some of the best meals found anywhere. Several Winelands restaurants have been rated among the top in the world.
There are myriad ways to spend time in the winelands – a leisurely guided day of tastings at multiple vineyards, gourmet picnics among the vines, cycling between estates, hiking in nearby nature reserves, exploring unique boutiques or even a charming, hop on-hop off, open-air wine tram. History buffs will enjoy museums dedicated to culture, including the French Hugenot settlers, grand monuments and historic Cape Dutch architecture. Our Journey Specialists can recommend restaurants to suit your taste. You’ll find everything from gourmet burgers to multi-course chef’s tasting menus that will blow your mind.
Ask us about off-the-beaten-path wine country, too! The Breede River Valley has fewer visitors, but boasts charming boutique hotels, excellent wineries and wonderful walks. The Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) valley combines perfectly with a stay on South Africa’s “whale coast,” where you can enjoy spectacular whale watching (seasonal) from land, by boat or even from the air.
The Garden Route, from Cape Town to Storms River, is a stunning region filled with quaint towns, Cape Dutch architecture and welcoming locals. Lush with vegetation, beaches, rivers and lakes, the Garden Route is best experienced by road. The route offers the most scenic coastal drives in South Africa. Charming towns invite stops for leisurely exploration or a languid meal of local seafood, and many highlights await. From coast-based whale watching to ogling African penguins, there is much to see. Activities include golf, hiking, swimming, surfing and adrenaline sports, including a 709-foot bungee jump off of the world’s highest single-span arch bridge. Many visitors focus on the chance to see rich marine life including viewing great white sharks, seals, African penguins, and whales (seasonal).
The Mpumalanga province is South Africa’s second smallest but boasts popular destinations such as the Blyde River Canyon – the world’s third-deepest gorge; the Sudwala Caves – the world’s oldest; and the Kruger National Park – arguably the world’s most famous wildlife sanctuary.
Kruger National Park
One of the most famous national parks in the world, Kruger National Park offers incredibly rewarding big-game experiences. From lions and leopards to elephants, zebra, giraffes, hippos and buffalo, Kruger has it all. More specifically, Kruger is home to 336 tree species, 49 types of fish, 34 amphibian species, 114 different reptiles, 507 bird species and an awesome 147 types of mammals. It is one of the best places on the continent to see Africa’s Big 5 species – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo.
Located in the eastern edge of South Africa, Kruger covers more than 7,500 square miles and shares an open border with both Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, creating the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park that allows animals to roam freely across borders. Also bordering Kruger are fantastic private reserves such as Sabi Sand, Thornybush, Manyeleti and Timbavati, all of which offer incredible game experiences, plus additional activities not allowed in the national park such as night drives, off-roading and game walks. One of the most special aspects of a stay in a private game reserve is the level of exclusivity available to guests. Far fewer visitors and therefore vehicles are in each reserve, making your safari experience and sightings more private and special. Some of our favorites include Singita, Londolozi, Lion Sands, Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi.
KwaZulu-Natal is the traditional home to this mighty Zulu tribe, regarded for its military tactics, introduced by King Shaka, and successfully employed in wars against the Boers (Dutch farmers) and the British. Here, visitors can enjoy learning about Zulu culture at villages around the province, while extensive battlefield tourism routes bring these Zulu-Boer-British wars to life.
KwaZulu-Natal’s cultural heritage also includes the San (Bushmen), with tens of thousands of San rock paintings to be seen in the exceptionally beautiful Drakensberg mountains. The area contains caves and rock shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of rock art paintings in Africa south of the Sahara. They represent the spiritual life of the San people, who lived in this area over a period of 4,000 years.
These exquisite mountains have been named a World Heritage Site and are a wonderful destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering walks, hikes and adventure activities. They house the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park with its abundant biodiversity, including 300 bird species and 48 mammal species. Other highlights of the region include the beautiful beaches around the city of Durban, and the tropical iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first named UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to an exciting array of both terrestrial and marine species. KwaZulu-Natal also boasts to several world-class game reserves with excellent wildlife viewing (including the Big 5) such as Phinda Private Game Reserve and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve.
North West Province
Extensive grasslands provide the perfect setting for a number of malaria-free wildlife reserves in the North West Province. These include Madikwe, South Africa’s fourth-largest game reserve, and the Pilanesberg National Park, both home to the Big 5 and many more southern African mammals and birds. These destinations are a great choice for families that would prefer not to take anti-malarial medications during their travels.
This lightly populated region offers incredible seasonal wildflower viewing. One of the planet’s six floral kingdoms is contained within South Africa. The Cape Floral Kingdom includes thousands of endemic species, including 350 species of protea, as well as a massive variety of other beautiful plants. While many of the species can be seen in Cape Town’s Kirstenbosh Botanical Garden, there is nothing quite as spectacular as seeing endless hillsides carpeted in colorful blooms.
South Africa’s largest private game reserve is also located in its Northern Cape province. Tswalu Game Reserve is situated among stunning red Kalahari sands, with surrounding scenic mountains and abundant wildlife, including several rare species. Cheetah, leopard, black-maned Kalahari lion, buffalo and many antelope species (including rare antelope such as sable, roan and tsessebe) can be seen on the reserve, and guests may also have the chance to see endangered wild dog, desert black rhino, aardwolf, brown hyena, meerkats and for the very lucky, pangolin.
Because Tswalu is a private reserve, activities such as horseback riding, bush walks and sleepouts are available. Its desert setting also affords incredible star gazing, and the reserve is also home to ancient archeological sites and San artwork.
When to Visit
South Africa is truly a year-round destination. Safaris are wonderful any time of year. The Southern Hemisphere winter brings cool and dry weather to the mountains and safari areas, which is great for hiking and other outdoor pursuits. Vegetation is sparse as are permanent water sources making winter an excellent season for game viewing. Cape Town is chilly in winter and sees its highest chance for rain with occasional spectacular rainstorms.
Summer brings lush and beautiful vegetation and can bring rain and very hot weather. Cape Town and the Western Cape tend to be dry and warm during the summer months. Spring and autumn generally have ideal weather throughout the country.
There are specific seasons for whale watching, shark cage diving, wildflower blooms and other natural events – talk with a Journey Specialist about your specific interests so that we can plan your safari accordingly.