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The Best of South Africa - an Active + Leisure travel itinerary for Cape Town, Wine Country and Safa

Updated: Jan 24

Luxury Travel at Kapama Karula - Photo: Jen Stover, Paradox Travel  See our complete review at

Cape Town, South Africa is a long-haul hybrid travel destination from the USA, no matter what coast you live on. As example, starting a trip from San Francisco requires two 11-hour flights just to get into the country and then two more plane hours to get to Cape Town. But if the travel time is a possible deterrent for you, the strength of US dollar in this country just may counter it. We traveled 16 days in South Africa, and were surprised on how far our money went. We were either able to eat cheaply for only a few US dollars per meal, or splurge at 5 star hotels and upscale restaurants, for a fraction of what we would pay in the USA. Add that to an incredible coastline, options for animal safari and an abundance of outdoor activity to choose from and a vacation in South Africa just may be the best hybrid travel trip you ever take.

The Active

Whether scrambling up Table Mountain, hiking around Cape of Good Hope or trail running around Kirstenbosch Gardens, there is plenty of opportunity to stay active while sightseeing in Cape Town. In addition, walking along the gorgeous beaches or cycling through wine country are great options as well.

Disclaimer: There may be some affiliate links on this page, which means when you click I get a small percentage of the purchase at no extra cost to you. Recommendations come from my own personal experience and/or research. However, my philosophy is ‘you get what you give’. So for every booking or purchase made through these links, Paradox will contribute 20% of the profit to one of the charities highlighted on our site. So not only does this facilitate the continued sharing of great travel tips and recommendations, but your purchase will contribute to something bigger than the both of us. Thank you.

The Leisure

In Cape Town, we loved the classy Bed & Breakfast with its own infinity pool at 52 DeWit. And we had some fabulous meals at Aubergine and the Bungalow in Clifton. In wine country, we stayed at the lovely Franschoek Country House and enjoyed fabulous wine-paired, multi-course meals at Roca's, Miko, and Monneaux. We heard that dinner at Rueben's was also fantastic but books up 60 days in advance in the summer. Our safari at Kapama Karula was most indulgent experience to celebrate a decade birthday. Go here to read more about our experience at this fabulous reserve.

How to Connect

Hiring local guides to hike Table Mountain or drive you through wine country is a great way to support local tourism efforts in South Africa. See links to the guides we hired throughout the itinerary below. In addition, eco-tourism is a way of life in this country and there are many organizations that would benefit from financial contribution to continue their efforts. Cape Nature Conservation - a resource for accommodations and activities that support conservation and educate the public on environmental campaigns – is one example. This group aims to establish a 'Conservation Economy' in the Western Cape and to turn biodiversity conservation into a key component of the local economic development processes in the province. Go here to learn more about this organization.

Trip Rating - L1-L2 Although primarily English-speaking, with many familiar foods and a history of British influence, Cape Town has areas at night that may require heightened awareness for safety. In addition, you need to be comfortable driving on the left side of the road. So for this reason, we rate in somewhere between L1 and L2.

For more about Paradox Travel trip ratings, go here.

Month of Travel - December – Summer in South Africa

Length of Trip - 16 days, including our Wine Country tour and Safari

Cape Town, South Africa - Lions' Head Peak from India Vestre hiking route on Table Mountain Photo: Jen Stover, Paradox Travel   See our complete South Africa travel itinerary at

The Details

Day 1 & 2 - Getting there

Overnight flight - SFO to Frankfurt – >11 hours

Overnight flight - Frankfort to Johannesburg –> 11 hours (arrive 10am)

Day Flight - Johannesburg to Cape Town -> 2 hr (arrive 3pm)

TIP - Check into who your airline partners are. For this trip, Lufthansa and United were partners. The exact same flights were several hundred dollars less when booked through Lufthansa instead of United. And we still got mileage points. The one downside is that it’s hard to get upgrades using your United status, once you book through the partner airline.

Pick up rental car - we used Avis

Accommodation suggestion - Hilton Cape Town City Centre

Activity Suggestions - Explore Victoria & Alfred waterfront in the evening – Uber or take cab, as parking is difficult in this area.

TIP - Don't be afraid to use Uber in Cape Town. The dollar is so strong that we were able to take Black Car to dinners each night and around town, for ~ $5.00 US. Score!

Day 3 - Kirstenbosch Gardens

Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town - Photo: Jen Stover, Paradox Travel  See our complete South African itinerary at

Activity Suggestion - Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens - walk or trail run garden paths or hike skeleton gorge; picnic

Dinner Suggestion - Fork Accommodation suggestion - Hilton Cape Town City Centre

Cape Town, South Africa - hiking up Table Mountain - Photo: Jen Stover, Paradox Travel    See our complete South Africa itinerary at

Day 4 - Table Mountain

Activity Suggestions - early morning > Table Mountain Hike – India Vestre route w/guide, take Gondola down, afternoon > Clifton Beach - sun your buns

Dinner Suggestion - Bistro Bizerca

Accommodation suggestion – Hilton Cape Town City Centre

Day 5 - Wine Tasting and Coastal Day Trip

Activity Suggestion - Day trip – Steenberg Farm Vineyards – lunch Bistro 1682

Dinner Suggestion – Restaurant Aubergine

Accommodation suggestion - B&B – 52 DeWet (*** HIGHLY recommend)

Steenberg Farms, South Africa - Photo: Jen Stover, Paradox Travel  Nice patio, great Bistro for lunch, and some really interesting sparkling Sauvignon Blanc    See our complete South Africa travel itinerary at

Day 6 - Shark Diving

Activity Suggestion - Shark Dive - Gansbaai

TIP - Gansbaai is an hours drive from Cape Town and highly weather dependent. Have an activity backup plan in case the water is too rough and your outfitter cancels the trip. Or be flexible and swap activity days as needed.

Dinner Suggestion - NV-80

Accommodation suggestion - 52 DeWet

Day 7 - Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope

Activity Suggestion - Drive to Boulders Beach & Cape of Good Hope

TIP - Go early to both Boulders Beach and especially the Cape! The entry system at Cape of Good Hope is not great and the line of cars will be long if you go late. They will try to convince you that you can't drive around the park, and need to take the shuttle instead. This is not true. You can drive, but there is not a lot of parking at the funnicular /The Point.

Drive back - over Chapman Peak past LLandudno Beach

Dinner Suggestion - The Bungalow in Clifton

Accommodation suggestion - 52 De Wit

Boulders Beach, South Africa  - Photo: Jen Stover, Paradox Travel    See our complete South African travel itinerary at

Day 8 - Wine Country

Drop off Rental car - get picked up by Paradise Touring driver 10am, head to wine country (~ 1 hour drive)

Franschhoek Winery suggestions - Rupert , L’Ormarin, then Lunch at MikoMont Rochelle Vineyard

TIP - make reservations in wine country 30-60 days in advance, good ones book instantly.

Accommodation suggestion - Franschhoek Country house

Cycling through the wineries around Franschhoek, South Africa  - Paradox Travel  See our complete South African travel itinerary at

Day 9 - Wine Touring on Bikes

Winery Suggestions - AM -> Aaldering and Brenaissance wineries, lunch Clos Malverne; PM -> Cavalli winery (or Rust en Vrade)

Dinner Suggestion - Monneaux (or Ruebens)

Accommodation suggestion - Franschoek Country House

Day 10 - Hoedspruit

Leave Franschhoek - guide transport to airport

Flight - Am Cape town to Hoedspruit, South Africa

Accommodation suggestion – Kapama Karula Game Reserve

Days 11 – 13 - Safari

Safari Kapama Karula

Kapama Karula safari, South Africa - Photo: Jen Stover, Paradox Travel  See our complete South African travel itinerary at

Day 14-16 Head Home

Flight - Hoedspruit > Johannesburg (1 hour early afternoon)

Flight - Johannesburg > Frankfurt (11 hr night flight)

Flight - Frankfurt > SFO (11 hr)

TIP - while in South Arica – check into an upgrade to Business Class on one of your legs. You will pay in RAND, which doesn’t cost you a lot when the US dollars is strong. As example, we purchased Business Class upgrades for ~ $4200ZAR or $300 US each, which was a bargain for an 11 hour flight.

TIP - If you would love help coordinating private guides or any other aspect of your South African Adventure, we recommend Cindy Botha at African Travel Gateway. They are super friendly, easy to work with and extremely responsive by email or phone.


(to see more animal photos from our Safari and read A Review of Kapama Reserve, go here)

Feel free to check out some of our other travel itineraries 

from all other world! (as well as another area where I love to give a lot of free stuff away!)


If you like van-camping, check out some of the other cool road trips we've done in our Sprinter van !


 Are you a photographer looking to hone your skills? My husband's a pro and hosts affordable online classes as well as a terrific speaker series with tips from other world-class professionals that will enhance you skill and creativity.

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