2 weeks in South Africa – an Ultimate Pirates Itinerary

Chandan Africa, South Africa, Travel Planning 11 Comments

Garden Route Scenic Drive during our 2 weeks in South Africa

From adrenaline filled safaris to being chased by a bull elephant, from incredible scenic drives to a failed adventure attempt, our 2 weeks in South Africa touched every string of emotion we could imagine and is a memory we will cherish forever. In this post, I will be sharing the details of our 2 week itinerary and the hard work that went behind creating it.

Visiting the Rainbow Nation was one dream I had reminisced since long. Blame it on National Geographic or Discovery, Kruger National park was one place I have wanted to visit since my childhood. But as my research widened and I dived deeper into the roots of this country it became evident that there was so much to see and enjoy here. So many “must do” 10/10 activities popped up in my plan that I had to finally change my role from a planner to an editor by striking off things just because they ranked 9 out of 10. It was a shame to strike off some pretty good places but there is so much you can fit in a 2-week itinerary. Off course, this was just getting realistic with our travel style of maximum fun in minimum time and stress. And there is always a next time.

Planning 2 weeks in South Africa

So getting to the details, I seriously began planning this trip about 2 months before my departure. During this stage, my best friend was Trip Advisor as my wife was still struggling to get her visa. She arrived only 10 days prior to our departure. Normally she is the one responsible for accommodations. To all the self-planners out there I highly recommend Trip Advisor because this site has tons of information based on first person views. A good research can get you every little detail about a place, activities, a restaurant and sometimes even the best waiter to approach too. Yes, that is the level of details you can get out of the discussions here. I spent a lot of time to research our 2 weeks in South Africa itinerary and hope you won’t have to after going through this post.
To get a general idea about the travel routes, first I did the usual routine of scouting through travel planning websites (mostly Indian). Most of them had almost the same theme mainly focussed on Johannesburg, Cape Town, and surroundings. The next step was to venture into Trip Advisor which lasted about a month by the way. This is the place where I got some of the most amazing tips and tricks that made our trip noteworthy. My initial plan had Kruger National Park as the top priority. The 2nd priority was to bungy jump from Bloukrans Bridge. It was a must do for me as this was the opportunity to do it from the world’s highest bridge bungy. Bloukrans Bungy is the world’s highest commercial bridge bungy at 216 meters (709ft) above the Bloukrans River. Although I must admit it still remains unticked on my bucket list and the reason been well described in one of my Epic Failure posts. The 3rd and final in line was to do a tour of Cape Town and nearby areas. I skipped Johannesburg for this tour because it was too much to add to a two weeks’ itinerary. Although I found something much better and in line with my desired travel route.

Connecting the dots

After scouting through numerous forums in Trip Advisor and posting a bunch of queries I finally came out with the wonderful itinerary I wanted. One amazing must do activity in South Africa that we missed completely before was a drive down the Garden Route. It came up purely because of my research in trip advisor. The Garden Route is South Africa’s one of the best-kept secrets. This is not advertised in most of the travel sites and I am pretty sure many Indians visiting South Africa have been missing this super awesome drive. You will get the details of our amazing garden route drive here. In short, this is a very scenic coastal route between Cape Town (Eastern Cape) to Port Elizabeth (Western Cape). Bear in mind the driving distance from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth is around 750km which takes about 9 hours if you drive at a stretch. But driving in a go would be a big and expensive waste of time. The view itself is so amazing and engaging that you will end up halting all along the way for photos and videos. Apart from the view, it is actually the not so talked about small and beautiful towns along this route which are the real center of attraction. Spending at least a night in a private guest house or boutique lodge or just a simple B&B in a small town along this route will give you a very homely and cozy feeling about South Africa, an experience that is miles apart from the business environment in popular destinations. Usually, it is recommended to spare at least 4-5days to explore the Garden route. I gave it 7days! Why? Because here in lies most of the treasures that will make your South Africa trip a worth to remember for a lifetime. And by the way, 7 days did not seem enough at last. So here I have three “MUST VISIT” locations in South Africa.
1. Kruger in the north east
2. Garden Route starting from Eastern Cape
3. Cape Town in the Western Cape and not to forget my bungy jump too.

So how did I wrap up 3 corners of the rainbow nation in 2 weeks? Below lies the answer.

The Pirates Itinerary

Day 1          19:00               Bye Bye Work
Day 2          09:00              Arrive Johanessberg 09:00 / Fly to Kruger – 13:00/ Arrive safari lodge 18:00
Day 3                                   Full Day Safari
Day 4                                   Full Day Safari
Day 5          06:00              Arrive Jo’burg 09:00 / Fly to George – drive to Knysna.
Day 6                                    Full day Kynsna
Day 7          10:00               Kynsna -Stellenbosch (drive)
Day 8                                    Full day Stellenbosch
Day 9           10:00              Stellenbosch to Simons Town (drive). Visit Cape point
Day 10                                  Full day Simons Town – visit Boulders beach and town
Day 11         12:00               Cape point to Cape Town (drive by Chapmans Peak).
Day 12                                  Full Day Cape Town
Day 13                                  Full Day Cape Town
Day 14                                  Back to work (sob sob)

Just to put a disclaimer here. This is the itinerary that I planned and I do not claim it to be THE best, but I am sure it is one of THE best 2-week itineraries.

Brief Description of our Itinerary

So let’s go through a brief description of this 2 weeks in South Africa itinerary. I will be writing in details about each place later. Since Kruger was my top most priority so I made it a point to make it first on the list. We flew to Johannesburg and took a connecting flight to Kruger. Kruger National Park in one word can be described as HUGE. From information gathered online, the reserve spreads over nearly 2 million hectares. If that does not give you an idea than it is roughly the size of Israel. This park itself needs a lot of detailed planning if you want to explore it in a short span of time. The park is serviced by three airports and your accommodation will directly depend on the airport you choose to arrive. Accommodations vary from basic (cheap) to super luxury (sky-high prices). We chose Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI), Nelspruit which is in the southern part. I pronounced the name as “Mapulanga” for a long time until I discovered from locals that it is actually pronounced “Pumalanga” with M silent. It becomes fairly easy to pronounce it if you remove the “M”. We rented a car from Mpumalanga Airport to our resort and the drive took us around one and a half hour. By the time we reached our resort it got dark. Darkness has a totally different definition here in Kruger compared to our city life and we experienced it first hand. We navigated the last 10-15km at 1% mobile battery and thankfully located the resort before my mobile died. To avoid such a situation be sure to pack in your car charger. A simple tip but it can be a life saver in the middle of nowhere. Kruger was a lifetime experience and you will find all the details of our planning, accommodation, and safari here.

 Lion in Kruger National Park during our 2 weeks in South Africa
Young runaway lion during our 2 day Kruger Safari
On the 5th day, we drove early morning from our resort to Mpumalanga airport and took a morning flight to Johannesburg. From Jo’burg we took a connecting flight to George. Now wait! Where this George came from. Well, this is the magic of trip advisor forums. After a lot of discussions I came to the conclusion that if I needed to accommodate my bungy with Garden route and stay over at least one night in each of the locations I planned along the Garden Route, then the best way was to start was from the middle of the route rather than from Port Elizabeth. I did not prefer to drive from Cape Town because it would mean driving the same distance twice as my return flight was booked from Cape Town. Moreover, most of the little gems I planned to stay over were between George and Cape Town with the exception of Knysna (K silent) which is a 60km drive in the opposite way towards Port Elizabeth. But Knysna was a must go for me because – 1st it is an awesome little town and 2nd Bloukrans is approximately 60kms drive from Knysna towards Port Elizabeth. We rented a car from George which remained with us until our departure from Cape Town. We stayed in Knysna for 2 nights. Sadly, my dream of bunging from the world’s highest bridge bungy remained a dream. On the 7th day, we started our epic Garden Route drive to our next destination Stellenbosch.
Scenic View during our Garden Route Drive
Clicked on the run during our Garden route drive
While driving from Knysna to Stellenbosch, there is an option of driving through Oudtshoorn or Mossel Bay. Oudtshoorn is famous for an Ostrich farm but this route is more inwards to land. Since we were more interested in driving through the coastal area we chose to drive through Mossel Bay. It was a long drive and with all the photo and videos stops it took us nearly 8 hours to reach Stellenbosch. But the drive itself was so amazing with surreal views that we never felt bored for a second. Driving through the small towns of Mossel Bay and Heidelberg was amazing and forced us to a lot of impromptu photo stops. We had a quick lunch in Heidelberg and the next town was Swellendam. From Swellendam, we decided to take the R60. If you plan to visit Hermanus than N2 is the route to follow from Swellendam. Hermanus is famous for whale watching. We decided to skip it because the whale season was almost over. We went in the last week of November and we missed the season by few weeks.
Stellenbosch is the wine county of South Africa and we chose the perfect resort to spend our time here right in a vineyard. The area is home to more than 300 vineyards with so many of them open to visitors. We took a guided vineyards tour here. I did not expect a black Mercedes with a suited chauffeur to pick us up but the tour ended up awesome. We visited 4 vineyards and tasted so many different samples.
During our Stellenbosch wine tour
During our wine tour in Stellenbosch
After two nights in Stellenbosch, we started on a morning drive to Simons Town. Simons Town was our last stop before we entered Cape Town. We stayed 2 nights in Simons Town which is an amazing place again. We chose a very cozy B&B to stay here and we are so thankful we did this. We loved the personal touch. We chose Simons Town for two main reasons. First, because Boulder’s beach is right here. Yes! the beach with the jackass penguins. You will see Africa’s only penguins here and second because it is a half hour drive to Cape Point (a must see location). The town itself is very cozy and vibrant.
From a view point at Boulders Beach, Simons Town
After two nights in Simons Town, we finally headed to our last destination Cape Town. The drive from Simons town to Cape Town is one of the best drives we have done till date. We decided to take M6 as this highway passes through Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world.
View from Chapmans Peak drive
View from Chapmans Peak Drive
This drive winds its way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay and provides mesmerizing views of the Atlantic coast all along the way. This drive is an engineering marvel where the road passes through a long cantilever canopy cut out of rocks. We decided to visit Table mountain before checking into Cape town. The reason we did it was because of a wise piece of advice from a local. The weather above Table mountain is pretty unpredictable and it is recommended to visit it as early as possible when in Cape Town to avoid last minute disappointments with low visibility. Since the morning we arrived was sunny, we decided to tour Table mountain first before checking in and happy we did it. We spent 3 lovely nights, self-driving around the town, hopping on hopping off red and blue buses and lots of shopping before sadly departing back to work.
V&A waterfront Cape Town
V&A waterfront Cape Town
South Africa was an amazing experience and we will be visiting back for sure and hopefully this time with kids. I will be writing in details about accommodation and highlights of the different places we stayed in my upcoming posts.
Hope you had fun going through our travelogue. Signing off for now.

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  1. Dear Chandan!! It was awesome reading your article the journey of the Pirates and i was literally amazed by your simple straight and lucid writing skills. Bro you do have some good hidden talents other than landing well in Raudhatain and Sabriyah. I could imagine the wonderful time you both had in the African Continent which has been a mystery for centuries to all travelers around the globe due to its huge biodiversity wilderness and vastness. We really dream someday to visit the Kruger and it will be a dream come true for us too. During my kid’s days i read a book by a famous Bengali Author Bibhuti Bhushan Bandhopadhay “Chander Pahar” (The Mountain of the Moon) which was about a poor wild Bengali guy Shankar who in search of work lands up in this wilderness of Africa to have a run for his life during the British era laying railway tracks in the interiors of this continent. It took my imaginary word around the globe searching for places like Mt Kilimanjaro and the Kruger with the enormous vastness down the lanes of Sahara the deadliest desert existing in the planet. I wish to be a part of this wonderful place someday and will personally catch up with you to get an insight. Keep writing my frnd and it will be my pleasure to travel through your eyes and experience which i am sure will be worth sharing. Keep rocking keep doing good always. Cheers Dada.

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