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.
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.
Hope you had fun going through our travelogue. Signing off for now.
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