Home to 21 National Parks, incredible wildlife, and more awe-inspiring landscapes than imaginable, South Africa is a bucket-list destination like no other. Where else can you roam with wild elephants during the day and dine at world-class restaurants by night?
On this ultimate 2 week South Africa itinerary, you’ll explore Kruger National Park, check out Johannesburg and Capetown, and enjoy an iconic drive down the Garden Route. Each day promises big surprises and endless special moments, so what are you waiting for? Let’s hit the road!
Table of Contents
- Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg
- Day 2: Explore Johannesburg
- Day 3: Day trip to Cradle of Humankind
- Day 4: Travel to Kruger National Park
- What to do and see in Kruger National Park:
- Day 5: Kruger National Park
- Day 6: Kruger National Park
- Day 7: Fly to Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha)
- Day 8: Addo Elephant National Park
- Day 9: Storms River
- Day 10: Plettenberg Bay and Knysna
- Day 12: Drive to Cape Town, explore
- Day 13: Cape Town
- Day 14: Cape Town & Goodbyes
- Final Thoughts: Ultimate 2 Week South Africa Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg
Welcome to South Africa! As most international flights arrive in Johannesburg, we recommend starting your adventure from here and checking out this culture-packed city for a couple of days before moving on. While Johannesburg gets mixed reviews depending on who you ask, the city has come a long way in the past few years. It is a great introduction to the harsher realities of South Africa and the new age of hope and prosperity found throughout the country.
What to do and see in Johannesburg:
Tomorrow you’ll have a full day to take in the city’s highlights, so get your bearings today and enjoy a walk around the city center. If you arrive early enough and are feeling energetic, take a peek at our Johannesburg Travel Guide and get your adventure started. As public transport isn’t overly reliable or available throughout the country, it is best to rent a car to get the most out of your 2 week South Africa itinerary.
Where to eat:
No matter what you’re craving, you’ll find it in Johannesburg. If you’d like to treat yourself to fine dining, the uniquely named DW 11-13 is the place to be and treats guests to classic local cuisine with modern twists. For something more casual, try Robby’s Place, Dosa Hut, or simply wander until your nose decides for you.
Where to stay (3 nights):
If it’s your first visit, you’ll get the most out of staying in the central city or the Mabokeng Precinct. As long as you’re aware of your surroundings and don’t wander alone at night, you’ll be safe.
$ – 12 Decades Johannesburg Art Hotel
$$ – St Andrews Hotel and Spa
$$$ – Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch
Day 2: Explore Johannesburg
Now that you’re rested and have said goodbye to any lingering jetlag, it’s time to explore Johannesburg’s robust culture and unique buildings. Below we’ve listed our favorite things to do in Johannesburg.
Apartheid Museum – If there’s one thing you do in Johannesburg, make sure it’s a visit to the Apartheid Museum. Even if you’re not a typical museum-goer, the massive collection of artifacts, photos, and films detailing the rise and fall of Apartheid take your breath away. As you follow the museum’s story through the 1948 election and Nelson Mandela’s perseverance, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for South Africa’s culture.
Constitution Hill – To learn even more about the country’s dark history, continue your day with a visit to Constitution Hill. It was here The Fort, a former prison, stood which housed both Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Today, you can visit the Number Four museum, the Old Fort museum, and the Women’s Gaol museum – all while enjoying views over the city.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens – When you’re ready for something a bit more light-hearted and want your first taste of beautiful South African nature, head for the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens. Covering nearly 740 acres (300 hectares), you could easily spend an entire afternoon checking out the Witpoortjie Waterfalls, walking the beautiful trails, and wandering around the Bird and Butterfly Garden.
Maboneng Precinct – Once a rundown and rough part of Johannesburg, an incredibly successful renovation project turned the Maboneg Precind into a welcoming and homely place. Around the neighborhood, you’ll find top-notch restaurants alongside hipster cafés and boutique shops. It’s also home to many like-minded digital nomads who are eager to embrace South Africa’s unique culture in a positive light.
Day 3: Day trip to Cradle of Humankind
Travel time: 1.5 hours
Today you’ll leave the sprawling city of Johannesburg for an incredible day trip to the Cradle of Humankind. It was here scientists discovered fossils thought to be linked to the ancestor of modern humans, which first emerged around seven million years ago. Once you arrive at the Cradle of Humankind site, head to the Marpeng Visitors Center, where you’ll see for yourself fossils of the first humans and learn about the birth of humankind.
Before heading back to Johannesburg, stop at the Sterkfontein Caves. Here, you can walk past excavation sites, through chambers set 131 feet (40 meters) below ground, and see where fossils of Mrs Ples and Little Foot were first discovered. If you’ve worked up an appetite, there’s also a popular restaurant on-site.
Day 4: Travel to Kruger National Park
Travel time: 4.5-hour drive from Johannesburg + drive time within the park
It’s time for the iconic South Africa experience, a visit to Kruger National Park. You have two options here, depending on your budget and how much freedom you’d like to have. If you want to sit back and have your accommodations, food, and transport all taken care of, and don’t mind spending more money, book in for a multi-day tour. However, if you’re like us and enjoy the freedom that comes along with a self-drive, read on.
What to do and see in Kruger National Park:
After a four-hour drive from Johannesburg, you’ll be itching to get into the park and get your first glimpse of the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, and Buffalo). Before you do, stop and fill up your car at Hazyview and grab any last-minute necessities – they’ll only get more expensive the deeper you get into Kruger. Then, head to Phabeni gate.
Once in the park, the world (or Kruger National Park) is your oyster. Take your time driving along S1, and keep your eye out for baboons, zebras, hippos, and impalas, until you reach your accommodation for the night.
Where to stay:
For your first night and third night, we recommend staying at Skukuza Safari Lodge. It has plenty of amenities on sight, is reasonably priced, and is located an hour’s drive from Phabeni gate. There is also a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Travel tip: Be sure to book your accommodation months in advance if you’d like to stay in the park – they fill up fast.
Day 5: Kruger National Park
Travel time: 4 hours minimum
Now is where the fun really begins. As you’re already in the park, you can enjoy breakfast and then get straight on the road for a full day of exploring. Heading up H1-2 and H1-3, you’ll drive through the classic African savannah with chances to see elephants, giraffes, lions, and cheetahs. Stop for lunch at Satara before continuing your adventure. Remember, you have the entire day to explore, so take your time but always ensure your gas tank is never less than half full.
Where to stay:
Olifants Rest Camp will be your home for the night. Seeing as olifants is the Afrikaans word for elephants, your chances of spotting these fascinating giants are pretty much guaranteed. The camp also offers guided game walks and morning or evening bush braais (BBQs), so you can watch lions, hippopotamus, and crocodiles right from the campfire.
Day 6: Kruger National Park
Travel time: 7 hours minimum
After enjoying a peaceful morning watching wildlife in the Olifants River, hop back in your vehicle and make a loop along the H1-6, H14, and H9. You’ll pass through the Shikumba Mountain and the Mopane bushwillow woodlands before turning onto the H9, where you’ll mass the Masorini Archeological Site. Keep your eye out for elephants, rhinos, and the elusive leopard.
From here, wind your way back down through Kruger National Park until you once again reach Skukuza Safari Lodge. Enjoy the peace and quiet of the park, and book in for a night game drive if possible. Tomorrow you’ll be back to civilization.
Day 7: Fly to Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha)
After saying a sad goodbye to Kruger National Park, it’s time to head south to Port Elizabeth. We recommend driving back to Johannesburg and getting a direct flight to Port Elizabeth. Or, fly from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to Durban, then take another short flight to Port Elizabeth. Either way, once you arrive in Port Elizabeth, you’ll have traded the endless plains of Kruger National Park with a stunning sandy coastline.
What to do and see in Port Elizabeth:
First things first, hit the beach. Port Elizabeth has three Blue Flag beaches, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, or just walking along the shoreline. A wooden walkway along Hobie Beach and Shark Rock Pier is perfect for an evening stroll and watching surfers play amongst the waves.
If you’ve had enough peace and quiet and are ready for some action, head to the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex. With plenty of options to gamble, shop, check out an African-inspired market, or hit up the spa, you could easily spend an entire afternoon and evening enjoying the many amenities.
Where to eat:
Similar to Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth’s food scene is top-notch. You’ll find pricier options along the beachfront, like Ginger Restaurant and Coachman on the Bay. For a broader range of options, head to Port Elizabeth Central, where you’ll find the likes of Vovo Telo, Muse Restaurant, and Beeryard.
Where to stay (2 nights):
$ – Ahoy Boutique Hotel
$$ – The Beach Hotel
$$$ – Boardwalk Hotel
Day 8: Addo Elephant National Park
Travel time: 2 hours + time in the park
Impressed by Kruger National Park’s Big 5? Addo Elephant National Park takes it up a notch and is the only park in the world home to the Big 7 – lion, rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo, leopard, great white shark, and whale. That’s not all, though. Penguins, gannets, and an impressive array of bird life are also found within the park. With so much to do and see, it’s well worth spending a full day in Addo Elephant National Park.
Things to do and see in Addo Elephant National Park:
Book a safari tour or self-drive – Again the choice is yours to book in for a tour or head out on your own. We think it’s well worth opting for a half-day safari tour where a professional guide will tell you tales of the park’s history and use their immense local knowledge to bring you to the animal hotspots.
Explore by your own two feet – If you’re ready to get out of the vehicle and explore on foot, head to the Alexandria hiking trail, located just before the Addo Elephant National Park. While the entire trail is 38.5 km long, plenty of shorter options are available.
Head down the Sunday River on a canoe safari – For those who love birds, a canoe safari should not be missed. As you glide down the Sunday’s River, which runs from the Sneeuberge mountain to the Indian Ocean, you’ll have the chance to encounter the Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Parrot, Hooded Kingfisher, Cape Gannet, and plenty more.
Day 9: Storms River
Travel time: 2 hours
Continue your journey along South Africa’s southern coast today to the start of the Garden Route at Storms River. While it might seem silly to stop before you’re even on the Garden Route, we promise you’ll fall in love with the jaw-dropping beauty found here.
What to do and see in Storms River:
Storms River is all about getting outside and seeing the natural landscapes of South Africa. But unlike the other National Parks, there’s more of a vibe to get out and play in nature instead of just viewing it. Head out for a bungee jump off the Bloukrans River Bridge, take a Canopy Tour, have your go at Black Water Tubing, and be sure to cross over the Storms River suspension bridge spanning 252 feet (77 meters) long.
What to eat:
After arriving in Storms River, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that restaurants are few and far between here. However, if you know where to look, you’ll find some hidden gems that may be your favorite in your entire 2 week South Africa itinerary.
Marilyn’s 60’s diner will bring you back in time with checkered floors and 60s-inspired decor, the Fynboshoek Cheese Farm offers homemade cheeses and breads, and Rafters Restaurant is all about traditional South African dishes cooked to perfection.
Where to stay:
$- Tube and Axe Boutique Lodge, Backpackers & Camping
$$ – Tsitsikamma Lodge and Spa
$$$ – Misty Mountain Reserve Lodge
Day 10: Plettenberg Bay and Knysna
Travel time: 1 hour
Today, you’re getting your first taste of the enchanting scenery along the famed Garden Route. Deemed the most beautiful region of the country, the Garden Route gets its name from the Garden Route National Park and the thick vegetation and beautiful lakes, and lagoon found here.
Things to do and see in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna:
Your first stop today brings you to Plettenberg Bay, which is all about the incredible coastline. Hop out of your car and walk the seemingly endless golden sand beaches while keeping your eye out for whales and dolphins. After lunch, continue up the coast until you reach Knysna. Here, you can enjoy a walk along the bustling Waterfront, head out for a sunset cruise on the Knysna Lagoon, and either tonight or tomorrow morning, be sure to head to the Knysna Heads.
Where to eat:
After spending the morning exploring Plettenberg Bay, you’ll want to grab some food before hitting the road again. If you’re after something quick and easy, stop by Peppermill Cafe for some delicious pizza. Or, if you’re happy to enjoy a longer lunch, head to Bramon Restaurant Wine Estate, which serves up delicious tapas and local wine. For dinner, you’ll have your work cut out choosing between the many mouth-watering restaurants in Knysna. You can’t go wrong, so enjoy a stroll around town until something catches your eye.
Where to stay:
$ – Knysna River Club
$$ – Protea by Marriott Hotel Knysna Quays
$$$ – Elephant Hide of Knysna Guest Lodge
Day 11: George and Mossel Bay
Travel time: 1.5 hours
Continuing along the Garden Route, you’ll travel through Wilderness National Park and George before arriving at Mossel Bay, your destination for the night. Get an early start to the day; there’s lots to do and see.
What to do and see in George and Mossel Bay:
After a scenic 30-minute drive, you’ll arrive at your first destination – George. Spend the afternoon at the Herold Wines, sipping delicious wine overlooking the Montagu Pass, learn about fynbos vegetation at the Garden Route Botanical Garden, or if you’re up for another hike, the nearby Brown Hooded Kingfisher trail will more than do the trick.
After lunch, continue on your drive to Mossel Bay. While Mossel Bay still feels like an up-and-coming tourist destination, it’s certainly not lacking in activities to tick off. From ziplining and hot air ballooning to butterfly sanctuaries, there’s something for every type of traveler.
What to eat:
It’s all about the seafood in Mossel Bay. Think coastal oysters, black mussels, and Mossel Bay Sole, all cooked to perfection. For a guaranteed good seafood feast, head to Cafe Gannet or the Kingfisher Seafood Restaurant. If you’re in the mood for a nice long dinner complete with a nightcap or two, you can’t beat Cafe Havana Cuban Restaurant, where you’ll be served up endless tasty tapas.
Where to stay:
$ – Santos Express Train Lodge
$$ – Aquamarine Guest House
$$$ – African Oceans Manor on the Beach
Day 12: Drive to Cape Town, explore
Travel time: 4 hours
It’s the last big drive on your 2 week South Africa itinerary, but don’t worry, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Cape Town is oozing with culture and unique things to do. Seeing as it has the nickname of Mother City due to being the first site of European settlement in South Africa, you know you’re in for a treat. We explore the many things to do in Cape Town on Day 13 of this Ultimate 2 Week South Africa itinerary or take a peek at this Cape Town itinerary.
What to eat:
For the foodies out there, you could spend an entire month in Cape Town and not even come close to trying the many incredible restaurants in town. For starters, Homespun by Matt and Pier serves up perfected five to nine-course tasting menus. Salsify overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and specializes in seafood, and if you’re a more funky vibe, Tjing Tjink Torii treats guests with Japanese-inspired street food.
Where to stay:
$ – Blouberg Beach Retreat
$$ – DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Town
$$$ – The Winchester Boutique Hotel Cape Town
Day 13: Cape Town
From hiking up Table Mountain to watching the sunset from a rooftop bar, Cape Town has no shortage of must-dos. You could easily spend an entire week ticking off different things to do in Cape Town, but even with a full day or two, you can get to know the Mother City.
Hike Table Mountain – Heading up to the top of Cape Town’s iconic backdrop is unquestionable. But you do have to decide whether to conquer this five-hour hike on foot or opt for the five-minute cable car ride.
Go shopping at Kalk Bay – Need some last-minute souvenirs? Kalk Bay is packed with artsy shops and galleries, and you’ll have no problem finding the perfect item that you’ll want to show off in your home.
Tour Robben Island – You’ll need to pre-book this one, but a trip out to Robben Island is well worth the hassle. Learn what life in this isolated prison was like, and see firsthand where Nelson Mandela served most of his 27-year prison sentence.
See Cape Town from the water – It’s hard to beat a sunset cruise on the final night of your 2 week South Africa itinerary. Relax with wine in hand as you take in the bustling V&A Waterfront and Table Bay from afar.
Day 14: Cape Town & Goodbyes
It’s the last day of your incredible 2 week South Africa itinerary. Make the most of it with a bike ride along the Waterfront, take a garden tour of Babylonstoren, soak up some last-minute sun at the beach, or pack in some learning at Norval Foundation. Before you know it, it’ll be time to say your goodbyes and start your journey home.
Final Thoughts: Ultimate 2 Week South Africa Itinerary
From spotting elephants, giraffes, and zebras to indulging in world-class food, you’ve experienced the ultimate mix of nature and luxury South Africa is so well-loved for. Hopefully, you made plenty of memories to last a lifetime and plan on coming back soon to explore the rest of the beautiful country.
Curious about where to travel next? Check out these 10 up-and-coming tourist destinations for 2023.