17-day Ultimate South Africa Self-drive Tour

Ultimate South Africa Self-drive Tour
Ultimate South Africa Self-drive Tour

The 17-day Ultimate South Africa Self-drive Tour and Safari gives you the best of the Cape plus a 7-day safari in the Garden Route and the world-famous Kruger Park.

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17 days
South Africa, Cape Town, Cape Winelands, Garden Route, Garden Route Safari, Kruger National Park
16 nights accommodation; meals and drinks as indicated in the itinerary; 17 days car hire (Group A); vehicle drop off/delivery fee; vehicle insurance (maximum cover); safari and sight-seeing activities as indicated in the itinerary

Tour Brief

With many options, routes, accommodation choices, this South Africa self-drive holiday is as relaxed and flexible as you want it to be. We have made a skeleton itinerary recommending a few options of which there are many more.

Start your holiday in Cape Town , visiting the nature reserves, beaches, townships, museums, shops, restaurants and wine farms. Continue in the same vein with two days in the Cape Winelands  exploring the nature reserves, wine farms and endless activities.

From the Winelands you will drive along Route 62 - the road less travelled - through mountain passes to the Klein (small) Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. Explore the Cango Caves, ostrich farms, nature reserves and the charming town brimming with South African culture.

From the semi-arid Karoo you traverse a high and scenic mountain pass down towards the sea and the Garden Route  proper. Spend three days in Knysna or Plettenberg Bay relaxing on the beach, kayaking, exploring the nature reserves and generally just having a great beach holiday. If it's whale season, between August and September, you'll be in luck.

The icing, the cherry and the grand finale will be your South African safari in the malaria-free game reserves of the Garden Route Safari  area. Spend three days on a big five guided safari staying at a wonderful lodge inside the game reserve.

From your Garden Route safari, you will return to Port Elizabeth about 90 minutes drive from your game lodge. At this point you can either fly out via Jo'burg or Cape Town or extend your holiday with an add-on Kruger National Park  safari.

We recommend the latter for the genuine Ultimate South Africa tour. From PE you will fly up to Kruger and transfer to another game lodge for a four-day safari at two safari lodges to make the most of this enormous park with its great diversity of habitats.

You can also reverse this tour entirely, putting the safari section first - Kruger Park and the Garden Route Safari - and then enjoying the Garden Route, the Cape Winelands and finishing up in Cape Town.

Pricing and Accommodation

There are uncountable options with this ultimate tour of South Africa so we recommend you contact us directly for an accurate quote that meets your exact holiday plans, right down to the type of transmission on your hired vehicle.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1, 2 and 3: Cape Town

Arrive at Cape Town international airport, collect your hired car and drive to your Cape Town hotel, which will be your travel base for the next few days. Explore Cape Town and the Cape Peninsuala at your leisure: the roads are excellent and finding your way around, with the help of a friendly GPS, is a breeze.

Our recommended Cape Town activities:

  • Robben Island
  • Township Tours
  • Table Mountain
  • Cape Point Nature Reserve
  • Boulders Beach
  • V&A Waterfront
  • Constantia Winelands
  • Museums, galleries and aquarium, planetarium, Company's Gardens… 

The list goes on and on and on. Talk to your travel expert about what to do in Cape Town while you're there (the season makes a difference and we can make all the recommendations and advance bookings you need).

Our recommended Cape Town accommodation:

  • Standard: The Cullinan, Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel, Townhouse Hotel
  • Mid-market: 2Inn1, Derwent House Boutique Hotel, An African Villa
  • Luxury: Cape Grace, Mount Nelson, Cape Royale, Table Bay, One&Only Cape Town
  • Exclusive: Kensington Place, Derwent Boutique Hotel, Dock House, Ellerman House

And this list goes on and on and on. Where you stay depends on your budget, the type of accommodation you like (small and intimate or large and care-free) and what you want to do in Cape Town. If you want to laze on the beach all day, then a hotel on the beachfront at Camps Bay is the best option. If you want to spend time exploring the city and the waterfront or you prefer the gentle mink and manure countryside of the winelands or a family-friendly beach holiday.

As always: talk to your Travel Expert for advice on where to stay and what to do in Cape Town.

Day 4 and 5: Cape Winelands

You will spend more time along the beautiful South African coastline so don't despair it's time for a bit of Europe in African now as you head an hour's drive inland to the Cape Winelands .

Hotels abound here and you have a choice of staying in the small and foodie-friendly town of Franschhoek, historical Stellenbosch or stately Paarl. Beyond these towns are a host of country guesthouses, many of them on working wine farms.

Spend two days tasting wine in beautiful settings, exploring nature reserves and discovering the diverse history of South Africa.

Our recommended Cape Winelands accommodation:

  • Standard: The Garden House, Franschhoek; Devon Valley Hotel, Stellenbosch
  • Mid-market: Plumwood Inn, Franschhoek; Summerwood Boutique Hotel, Stellenbosch
  • Luxury: Akadamie Street Boutique Hotel, Franschhoek; Klein Genot, Franschhoek
  • Exclusive: Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek; Grand Roche, Paarl

Day 6 and 7: Route 62, Garden Route

From the Winelands you're almost on Route 62 - the scenic Garden Route  alternative to the get-there-quick national highway. Traverse mountain passes and descend into the expanse of the Klein Karoo, the semi-arid mini Karoo where farmers, artists and escapists converge in charming little towns with beautiful scenery all around.

Your destination is Oudtshoorn which is the unofficial capital of the Klein Karoo where a lot happens if you so choose. Visit the Cango Caves, ostrich farms, game reserves, swim with crocodiles, pet snakes, feed wallabies - the kids will love it.

Or you can choose for nothing to happen and just enjoy the lovely scenery, relax by the poolside, enjoy some first-class cuisine and wonder about the town, the craft markets and the museums and galleries. 

Oudtshoorn accommodation recommendations:

  • Standard: Queen's Hotel
  • Mid-market: Adley House; Hlangana Lodge
  • Luxury: Rosenhof Country Estate

Day 8, 9 and 10: Knysna/Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route

Over yet more impressive mountain passes you drive towards George of the Garden Route proper and then along the coast to either Knysna or Plettenberg Bay, the latter favouring the typical beach holiday while the former offers plenty of outdoor and nature activities.

Spend three days at the beach on the lagoons and rivers, exploring nature reserves, coastal hikes, forest canopy rides, whale-watching, boat cruises and the gamut of seaside attractions, cafes and restaurants.

  • Standard: Tranquility Lodge, Nature's Valley
  • Mid-market: Periwinkle Guesthouse, Plettenberg Bay; Knysna Quays, Knysna
  • Luxury: Pezula Hotel and Spa, Knysna
  • Exclusive: Tsala Treetop Lodge, Plettenberg Bay

Day 11, 12 and 13: Garden Route Safari

Drive along the coast through Cape fynbos toward Port Elizabeth - capital of the Eastern Cape Province - before heading inland into the hilly regions of the Garden Route Safari  area for genuine big five malaria-free safari.

We recommend dropping your hired car off in Port Elizabeth and hopping on a transfer to your safari lodge. Once there your guided activities include afternoon game drives into the night; early morning game drives; walking safaris and a whole lot of relaxing in between.

The Eastern Cape Garden Route safaris are truly first-class and some of the best game viewing in South Africa. With exclusive access, the private game reserves can manage visitor numbers and wildlife movements making for quality wildlife and bird sightings daily.

The scenery is gentle, timeless and wild; the game guides are exceptional and your safari lodge is pure luxury regardless of whether you opt for the standard or exclusive accommodation.

The game reserves we recommend include: 

  • Addo Elephant Park
  • Shamwari Game Reserve
  • Kwande Game Reserve
  • Kariega Game Reserve
  • Blaauwbusch Game Reserve

All of them have safari lodges within ranging from standard to ultimate luxury. Talk to your Travel Expert for the Garden Route safari to suit you.

Our recommended Garden Route Safari lodges:

  • Standard: Elephant Lodge, Addo Elephant Park; Riverdene Lodge, Shamwari Game Reserve
  • Mid-market: Great Fish River Lodge, Kwandwe Game Reserve; Bushmans River Lodge, Shamwari Game Reserve
  • Luxury: Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo Elephant Park; Ecca Lodge, Kwandwe Game Reserve; Eagles Cragg, Shamwari Game Reserve

Day 14, 15, 16 and 17: Kruger National Park

Transfer back to Port Elizabeth and here you have to choose again. You can fly out to either Jo'burg or Cape Town and connect to your flight home and the end of your Ultimate South African holiday.

Or, and we recommend this option, you can fly from Port Elizabeth to the Kruger National Park  for a four-day safari. This option gives you a full seven-day safari and extraordinary diversity as you experience the game parks in the Garden Route safari area and the wilderness of the world-famous Kruger National Park.

Your flight, usually via Jo'burg, will take you to one of several airports or a nearby landing strip depending on where you will start your Kruger safari. Transfer to your safari lodge for two days of excellent game viewing and then transfer to another lodge in the park for a different experience of this country-sized wildlife area.

From Kruger Park, you will fly back to Jo'burg and connect to your flight home after an amazing holiday.

Our recommended Kruger Park safari lodges:

Just Booked!

Customers who enquire about this tour end up making many changes to the standard itinerary. Below are the most recent variations of this base tour booked by us for our clients. Have a look at their itineraries, see what changes they requested, what the final cost was and read what they have to say about their holidays.

    Whoa! Untrodden territory here. It appears nobody has booked this base tour yet so you could be the first to explore these faraway places.

Recent Reviews of This Tour

We don't have any reviews of this exact tour but here's what people have said about their holidays. If you want to read more reviews, visit our client comments section. If you would like to submit your own review please use the contact form on this page.

“Thanks for all your work putting together a holiday we truly loved”

We would like to commend the high service received from Namibian Tours and Safaris especially taking into account the short length of time you had to arrange this holiday for us. The recommendations and itinerary were ideal with the majority of our stay in each location being the right duration. The whole process of booking this holiday was hassle free and we would not hesitate in recommending your services to others.

We would specifically like to thank you, Alison, for all of your hard work which resulted in a truly fabulous holiday for us. Also, it was great to meet up with you in Solitaire where you expressed so much love for your country and this was clearly mirrored in the schedule and service you presented to us allowing us to experience this fantastic country. It will not be the case of 'if' we return to Namibia, it is more the case of 'when' we will return as we enjoyed it so much.

Nik Stevenson, UK

“Edward did a super job”

A special mention for Edward he did a super job – vouchers and maps were with our car hire agency at the airport – book presentation of whole trip was clear, easy to follow and complete. He even gave us his mobile No in case we encounter some problems. Really to recommend as Tour Operator and will use them again next time.

Road – all went well and thanks to have recommended a 4Wheel Drive Car – due to rough road conditions we appreciated – you could do it with a normal car and met tourists with B type cars but they took much longer for the journeys – had more issues with flat tyres and most admitted next time they will take a 4Wheel Drive Car.

Would like to thank you for all your time spent and hard work to find best places, difficult tasks due to budget restrictions. I will recommend you and your agency whenever I can – actually already did in Joburg – hope brings you some new customers - and of course will come to you for my next trip this time to South Africa hopefully in 2012.

Germaine Comin, Switzerland

“Thank you again for planning a perfect vacation for us”

Dear Wilmari,
Back home and I wanted to take a moment to thank you again for planning a perfect vacation for us. I was especially pleased that for the accommodation with dinner all knew about my allergies and cooked accordingly. The Cheetah experience made my daughter very happy and they were so kind to not even charge me for taking pictures.

Highlight of our trip was the stay in Onguma The Fort and we are determined to return one day.

As pointed out before, the Namib Desert Lodge I cannot recommend to anybody (fined for driving on their property and below average dinner buffet) and also the Olivia Guesthouse was a letdown when it came to the food (lunch and breakfast).

I have posted some pictures on Flickr, maybe you want to have a look and I'm always happy to read comments.

Last but not least: Could you please send us the itinerary you prepared for us and we received at arrival electronically? Some of my friends are interested to book the same trip with you.

Dr Andreas Koester, USA
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