From the sun-kissed vines of the Stellenbosch region to the game-filled plains of Kruger National Park, South Africa is wild and broad, beautiful and entertaining. Cape Town and Johannesburg are the two big cities, and they are worlds apart in their style. Cape Town is more debonair, overlooked by the calm presence of Table Mountain, meanwhile, Jo’burg presents South Africa’s rawer, more honest face, with the country’s problems laid bare. Between these two points are vast expanses of wilderness, filled with remarkable wildlife.
The distance between these two cities is 1,400km (870 miles), if driven without detours to some of the country’s many other fine destinations. For those who love to be behind the wheel on the open road, and indeed who enjoy all the logistics that come with such a voyage, South Africa can be a good challenge to plan. However, a good tour will take care of many of the specifics so that you can travel in relative luxury. Here are five of the best luxury tours of South Africa.
From $1,351/ per person
This excellent two-week journey takes a comprehensive look at South Africa’s absolute best highlights, and there are a lot of them. This tour has the conventional start and end points (Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively) that are common to many longer tours of South Africa, however the itinerary is broad and includes plenty of unique and unusual experiences alongside the classics. Think game drives through Botlierskop and Kruger, shark diving off the coastal section of the Garden Route, and visits to an ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn. There are plenty of other highlights included, along with all accommodation in hotels or lodges, all breakfasts and most dinners, as well as your guide and transportation.
From $884/ per person
For anybody who’s put off by the idea of Johannesburg, or indeed would simply rather avoid seeing all those miles whizz by from a bus, this is a more in-depth exploration of the highlights near Cape Town. You’ll miss the big game of Kruger National Park, but that doesn’t mean missing out on the wildlife, because it exists in abundance across South Africa. This tour focuses heavily on culture and the outdoors, both in ready supply all along the Garden Route and in Cape Town. Over nine days, you will have a Cape Town city tour, as well as a free day to explore on your own. You’ll have a wine tasting near Stellenbosch and a chance to bungee jump (additional fee) in Tsitsikamma National Park. Hotels and most meals are included.
FROM: $2,090/per person
South Africa is a great outdoors type’s dream. The wildlife present in the country is remarkable, with all of the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo), found at various spots around the country, including at Addo Elephant National Park, where this tour provides a safari. There are also some incredible hikes to be had, starting with Table Mountain in Cape Town. This tour isn’t just about hiking though, and over the course of 17 days you will encounter many sides to wild South Africa, but of course a hike in Drakensberg is the absolute must of any visit to the country, and is most assuredly included on the itinerary.
From $1,826/ per person
Switching up the order of things, and slightly breaking from the more luxury-style proceedings, this tour starts in Johannesburg and ends in Cape Town. Other than that, the itinerary still packs in many of the expected destinations: Oudtshoorn, Addo Elephant National Park, Durban and Kruger National Park. But considerable time (three days) is dedicated to the landlocked nation of Swaziland, and the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in particular. Here you can look out for animals like warthogs, hippos and crocodiles, and go horseback riding surrounded by mountains. This tour lasts 17 days and skews mainly towards younger travellers who don’t mind camping most of the time.
From $3,250/ per person
While many of the other tours on this list last well into their second and third weeks, this one is the longest at 20 days and 19 nights. What that ensures is a little added time to reach Lesotho and Swaziland, while still ticking off all of the major highlights between Jo’burg and Cape Town. That means time spent in the wine country around Stellenbosch, the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park, where you can take a river cruise, snorkel in the sea or see whales in season, as well as Drakensberg, St. Lucia and so much more. This is an easier tour in terms of physical exertion, with hotel stays, and the group size is capped at 16 people.