South Africa Itinerary: Guide to Kruger Safari and Garden Route

February 28, 2018

If you haven't heard anyone tell you yet, let me be the first to tell you how beautiful South Africa is. Situated right at the southern most tip of one of the most biologically diverse continents in the world, the country had felt like a world on its own yet connected to the most ancient of history and origins. Other than eating at an Italian grandmother's house, it has always been a lifelong dream of mine to visit the safari ever since I was a young girl watching the documentaries in my tiny HDB flat in Singapore. 

So I finally visited it, and it was an amazing time with memories I'll cherish forever. And for those looking to do the same, here's my itinerary for my 3-week trip in South Africa in mid-2016 (Johannesburg,  Kruger Park, Port Elizabeth, Garden Route, Capetown) plus some additional info on F&B in Capetown and wine region Stellenbosch and Franschoek. Hope you find it helpful.


Day 1 - 2 July Sat

We picked up rental cars at the Joburg airport, bought tourist data SIM card from the airport shop and water/snacks then drove towards Graskop (an ancient gold mining area and old Dutch settlement).

We did stop by the Voortrekker Monument on the way for a quick look see since there is time. We also stopped at the Sabie Brewing Co. for beers and snacks too (just 20 min away from Graskop).

Apparently, the places you can visit at Graskop are: 3 Rondavels, Pilgrim’s rest, Bourke’s Luck potholes, God’s Window. The airbnb host recommended Bourke’s Potholes as God’s Window and the rest are dependent on weather/fog. People can either go sightseeing or sleep at the Graskop Hotel.

For our first night, we stayed at the Thaba Tsweni lodge and had dinner at Canimambo (heard The Glass House's pretty good too but they were full). 

Day 2 to 3 - 3-4 July Sun to Monday

We then packed up and drove on to the Kruger Park that is really close to Graskop.

Do drive in from the Orpen Gate into the park. From there we headed to Skukuka, a large camp in the park that is famous for game viewing. It was 280 rand per person for entry to the park, paid daily at the office. Nobody is allowed to get out of the car once in the park except for rest stops and there's a few fixed paths to follow for game viewing, so remember to plan ahead!

I would recommend for you to get takeaway food for lunch at the rest camps instead of wasting time waiting to sit and dine (especially during peak season), which was what we did during the first day. The food's like theme park food, nothing fantastic. The view though - I wish I'm back there!

 Bring binoculars or zoom lens camera for best game viewing.

H4-1 is the best road to view cheetahs (either early or late at night). Here’s more info.

We stayed 2 nights in the Manyeleti Camp area (mid section of the park) at The Wild Olive (this is yurt camping, outdoor tents) for S$349 for 3 tents. It was definitely an experience trying to shower in the cold at night with a hot tiny jet of water.

We then had an evening game drive with the Wild Olive at 1600hr at 550 rand each booked for 7 people on second night. Initially we thought there wasn't much to be seen in a cranky old open air jeep, but we got a call and drove to find a family of LIONS eating their game at close range. The cubs were cute.

Day 4 to 5: 5-6 July Tues and Wed

Then we headed down south to see other parts of the park - we left at 5th in the early morning for a 3h15m drive to Manloth Park. We have to go all the way down south and move around from there because of lodging constraints.

Stayed 2 nights in Manloth Park (south of the park) at Crocodile Kruger Safari Lodge for S$521 for 3 rooms.

We had a morning bush walk with Crocodile Lodge Manloth Park on the 6th July 0630 to 0830am, which was a really nice walk but no game/wildlife/any animals.

Day 6: 7 July Thurs

Sad but true - we had to leave the safari that day to drive to Joburg airport to drop off the car and catch a flight. We left the Joburg airport via a 345pm flight and arrived at Port Elizabeth at 525pm. From there we picked up a rental car and drove along N2 Highway to Jeffrey’s Bay to stay for the night. Our accommodation was 3 bedrooms at JayBay Housewith dinner booked at Kitchen Windows Beach Restaurant at 8pm (must visit, one of the best).

Day 7: 8 July Fri

We got up next morning and drove along N2 Highway to Knysna for the Oyster Festival. On the way you will pass by Bloukran's Bungy, which is the world's highest bungee bridge. We didn't take the leap, but its definitely worth doing for adrenaline junkies. 

If there’s time check out the Elephant Sanctuary in Crag (we didn’t). We stayed the night in Knysna at Brenton Haven at 198 CR Swart Drive Brenton on Sea, Knysa, 6570 in a beautiful 3 BR villa. There was a sea view and we saw some sea animals (seals?) in the distance!

Day 8 - 9 July Sat

From there we drove towards Capetown and stopped by the Safari Ostriches north of Knysna (they do a 1-hr tour which we skipped and only visited the shop). The ostriches were really curious about us.

What I'll recommend is to visit the Cango Wildlife Reserve instead to get up close with cheetahs (pay S$14 extra but super worth it) and other big cats. It was a fantastic experience and the wildlife reserve takes a lot of care to preserve the beautiful animals. 

Finally when we reached Capetown we had a game meat and local cuisine for dinner at Mama Africa. Capetown also has Saturday markets but they close before 2pm. We booked a gorgeous airbnb house for 4 nights - this was the longest we've stayed in a place for all 7 of us!

Day 9 - 10 July Sun

The next day the gang decided to go do the Table Mountain Trekking (3 hours). I preferred to take the cable car (4mins). Choose the latter if you want to be alive for the amazing views on top later :P

In the evening we bought our own food from a nearby supermarket and had a Braai (what they call a BBQ) at our airbnb for dinner. It was AWESOME.

Day 10 - 11 July Mon

The next day we went to the South African museum in the morning to look at dinosaur bones and other natural history items. It’s a pretty interesting but rather kitschy and outdated place. It was fun learning about all the "generic" animals we saw on the safari. They were called browsers. *mindblown*

Following the educational morning, we had a short drive to the V&A waterfront in the afternoon for lunch (Willoughby & Co inside the mall has great sushi) and shopping. At Two Oceans Aquarium nearby, qualified divers can get into the water.

We also made a reservation for dinner at Fork Restaurant for tapas, which was great!

Day 11 - 12 July Tue

Nobody will go to Capetown and miss the penguins! We drove from Capetown to visit Simon’s Town Boulders Beach to see penguins via Hout Bay. It is possible to do a 2-hr sea kayak here, which starts at 9am but it depends on weather. For us, we were happy to just be on land with the tiny birds.

Some might want to choose to visit Robben Island in the morning instead (you have to book the tour in advance - lasts for four hours departing from V&A). We didn't have the time.

Then you could either drive down to the Cape of Good Hope (another 20 mins, we didn't) or go back to town. We chose the latter, but not before having some delicious lunch though.

It was Capetown’s Bree Street exploration in the afternoon. We visited the gin bar behind Honest Chocolate for some drinks, so lovely. Also walk by the Malay Bo-Kaap district to look at colourful houses but be careful as it is a dodgy area (not really, to me!)

Day 12 - 13 July Wed

Next leg of our tour - the vineyards! We took a leisurely drive to Stellenbosch and Glenwood for morning wine tasting and had lunch at Franschoek at La Petite Ferme at 1300hrs for 7 outdoors. It was a fantabulous fine dining experience - go for the lunch for a better deal. 

Our accommodation was booked at The Dornier Homestead (see below for more details), which was an amazing Dutch farmhouse in the middle of a wine estate. 

Day 13 - 14 July Thu Joburg

Drove to Capetown to return the car and take a flight back to Joburg, and then got an Uber into town (about an hour in peak evening traffic). We had a delicious dinner at Lucky Bean.

Day 14 - 15 July Fri Joburg

Visited the Apartheid Museum in the morning after breakfast at Service Station (awesome salmon croissant). It was a sobering experience.

Went to hip indie Maboneng in the afternoon for shopping. Visited the Turbine Art Fair in evening. So much arts and culture!

Day 15 - 16 July Sat Joburg

There was a Neighbourgoods market at 73 Juta Street from 9am to 3pm every Saturday, which I went for by myself after the gang flew ahead back to Singapore. I got a cup of latte at Father Coffee nearby after, and loved the vibes in that area, everyone was just chilling on the streets on a weekend. Joburg didn't feel dangerous to me at all!

Day 16 - 17 July Sunday Joburg

Checked out Market on Main at Maboneng happens every Sunday from 10am to 3pm. There were a lot of repeats from the Neighbourgoods market the day before. However, the Rosebank Sunday Market beside the parking lot on L4 of Rosebank Mall has a great selection of vintage and arts/craft every Sunday 9am to 4pm and I bought quite a bit of stuff. I loved it!

It was time to go back to Singapore after that, boo hoo :( South Africa, you had been so lovely.


Additional info:

Stellenbosch and Franschhoek Vineyards

Try to visit Franschhoek and Stellenbosch (about an hour drive from the city). One of the recommendations is La Motte Vineyard in Franschhoek. They have fantastic fancy plated food in there, at Pierneef a La Motte (#8 of 74 restaurants in Franschhoek)

Best wine tasting in Haute Cabbriere in Franschhoek (nice wine and lovely view).

There is a Franschhoek Wine Tram that goes round the town visiting vineyards after vineyards if you have time. Their town shops are nice too - quirky independent shops. Warwick Wine Estate is fab for picnics

If you don't plan to rent a car then maybe you can do the purple wine hop on hop off bus. It'll stop in several vineyards in Constantia nearer to the city. Wine tasting is round R30 but usually waived if you buy a bottle or two.

1.           Dornier Wine Estate (
a.     Address: Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa
b.     Tel: +27 21 880 0557
c.     Tasting: Daily 1000-1700, by apt
d.     Recommended: Homestay

2.           Glenwood (
a.     Address: Robertsvlei Road, Franschhoek
b.     Tel: +27 (0)7412 45705
c.     Tasting: Mon-Fri 1100-1600, apt recommended to get wine master tour
d.     Recommended: Olive oil tasting as well

3.           Stellenbosch Hills (
a.     Address: Vlottenburg Road, Stellenbosch, 7600, Winelands, South Africa
b.     Tel: + 27 (0)21 881 3828/9
c.     Tasting: Mon-Fri 0800-1700, apt recommended
d.     Recommended: Wine and biltong pairing at R40pp

4.           Waterford Estate (
a.     Address: Blaauwklippen Rd, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
b.     Tel: +27 (0) 21 880 5300
c.     Tasting: Mon-Sat 1000-1700 by apt
d.     Recommended: Wine and chocolate pairing at R60pp

5.           Creation Wines near Stellenbosch
a.           Address: Hemel en Aarde Road, PO Box 1772, Hermanus, 7200 South Africa
b.           Recommended: Chardonnay


1.     Knorhoek Country Guesthouse (
a.     Address: Knorhoek Road (off R44), Stellenbosch, 7600
b.     Tel: +27 21 865 2114
c.     Email:
d.     Central location and reasonably priced. ~R640pp.
2.     The Dornier Homestead
a.     Address: Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa
b.     Tel: +27 (0)21 880 0557
c.     Email:
d.    Apparently, if we book three rooms, they will just give us the entire manor (6 rooms) where possible, ~R1,100 pr. Might be good to have the space all to ourselves so we don’t terrify other patrons.
3.     La Petite Ferme (
a.     Address: Franschhoek Pass Road, Franschhoek, 7690
b.     Tel: +27 (0)21 876 3016
c.     Email:
d.    It’s expensive, so really I’m just putting this in cos it looks amazing! The food looks delish though, so maybe we could have lunch there?

Capetown recommendations

V&A Waterfront is the most popular shopping mall for tourists.

There's the Cape Wheel with nice marina and table mountain view and apparently you can rent a gondola and have dinner there - haven't tried it but sounds fab. Check out the Two Oceans Aquarium nearby if time permits. The Hop on Hop Off red bus is by the aquarium.

The aquarium's got South African penguins in it but best to see their natural habitat in Boulder's Beach in Simon's Town (about 45 mins drive from the city via Hout Bay) where you can view them from the deck or walk further down and swim with them in the beach (water is cold!).

Table Mountain is a must visit - there's a restaurant on top and food is not too bad. Could get really crowded during lunchtime. Use sunscreen or wear a cap/hat, as you wouldn't feel the heat of the sun as its cool on top of the mountain. The views on top are fabulous. It takes more than 3 hours to trek up the mountain (not for amateurs!) or you can just buy a round-trip ticket to take the rotating cable car up/down (4 minutes). Be prepared for a long queue to come down via cable car just before sunset.

Other F&B in Capetown

Tip: Restaurant servers expect 10% tip, some are not fussy but some will definitely remind you about it. You don't have to if you don't want to give tips though. Or maybe just give your loose change.

There's a Thai restaurant in Hout Bay called Kitima. Their Sunday lunch buffet is great.  Only open from 5pm on weekdays, closed on Monday. Booking is a must as it is very popular. 

There's a nice steak house called Butcher Shop & Grill (#55 on TA) in Mouille Point.

Belthazar Restaurant (#37 on TA) in V&A waterfront is not too bad either.

There's a seafood restaurant inside V&A mall that we always go for sushi called Willoughby and Co. (#17 on TA). They have nice wine selections as well.

Haiku (#107) is not bad as well if you fancy Asian Fusion.

Balducci’s (#45 on TA) is ok for Italian.

Grand Cafe and Beach in Granger Bay (#51 on TA) is quite nice. Lovely crayfish curry in there. Booking is a must as they are normally always fully booked or might be closed for winter.

Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock is an indie market known for quirky shops and Test Kitchen (#1 on TA for 22 restaurants in Woodstock) is there if you like fancy plated tapas-style food. Bit pricey though but fab.

Potluck club (#5 on TA for Capetown wow) is a good place to go as well and it’s also tapas style. Both have very good food but a bit pricey compared to the other restaurants in Cape Town.

Camps Bay Beach is a nice place as well and there are loads of cafes and restaurants along the road. Our fave is Grand Cafe Society. Raj indian restaurant is ok as well and Mezzepoli if you like Greek food and mezze platter.

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