A First-Timer’s Trip to South Africa


If you’ve never been to South Africa, deciding where to go can be daunting. Which safari parks and which cities are musts, how do you travel between them, and where do you stop along the way? Ignacio Maza of the Signature Travel Network, and a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council, is here to help with an itinerary that covers varied highlights of the country in 12 days.

You’ll visit its two most famous cities: Cape Town and Johannesburg. You’ll see sites that are older than history itself, like the Cradle of Humankind, and the country’s most famous national park, Kruger, where you can spot the big five safari animals, as well as countless other wildlife. Ignacio’s trip also includes time sampling fine homegrown wines and learning about Huguenot heritage in the scenic Cape Winelands. In short, you’ll leave with a rounded sense of South Africa, past and present—and the likely desire to make a future visit.

Cape Town

You’ll land early this morning in Johannesburg, where a local host will escort you to your connecting flight to Cape Town, the elegant and cosmopolitan city near the southern tip of the country.

Once you land in Cape Town, a driver will meet your for a private transfer to the Taj Cape Town, where you will spend the next four nights. Located in two historic buildings and a contemporary addition, the hotel is in the heart of the city’s historic center, adjacent to St. George’s Cathedral. You’ll stay in a luxury room with a view of Table Mountain. Included in your stay are daily breakfast, a shared transfer within six miles of the hotel, WiFi, and access to the hotel’s gym and Jiva Grande Spa.

You’ll have the remainder of the day to get settled and explore the hotel and neighborhood on your own.

Cape Peninsula Tour

Fuel up at breakfast and get ready to set out on one of the world’s most scenic drives: a full-day Cape Peninsula tour with a private guide. You’ll weave along the rocky Atlantic seaboard past Sea Point, Bantry Bay and Clifton. Bakovenand Llandudno, with their ghostly shipwrecks, are also fantastic sights on the way to the quaint fishing village of Hout Bay, where you will board a boat to visit the Cape Fur Seal colony on Duiker Island (weather permitting).

You’ll then navigate the 114 curves along the dazzling, nearly 2,000-foot high Chapman’s Peak Drive on your way explore the Cape of Good Hope. This section of the Table Mountain National Park is the home turf for fabulous birds and distinctive fauna including the Cape mountain zebra, bontebok, and the charismatic Cape baboon. Climb (or ride the world’s first environmentally friendly funicular) to the Cape Point Lighthouse to capture the magical vistas of False Bay.

After an a la carte lunch at a coastal restaurant, you’ll stop at Boulders Beach to see the African penguin colony. Then head back through the naval village of Simonstown and over scenic Boyes Drive, taking in the views of the fishing harbor at Kalk Bay and the seaside havens of St. James and Muizenberg.

To round out the day, you might take a stroll through world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain.



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