DAY 3: South Africa, Western Cape

Located the very southern tip of the African continent, South Africa is where penguins enjoy the beaches and sharks watch the surfers. Cape Town is popular for Table Mountain hiking adventures, outdoor markets, wine estates and gorgeous sunny beaches. A well-connected city with a modern international airport, Cape Town is a good choice for the start of a grand tour of South Africa.The Western Cape province, where Cape Town is located, is bordered by the Indian and Atlantic oceans. The picturesque port city is set in the shadow of iconic Table Mountain and ranked the #2 Best Place to Visit in Africa (Cairo was #1) and among the top ten Best Wine Vacations in the world by US News & World Report.

photo courtesy of South Africa Tourism Board

It is a friendly and slow-paced city with a walkably compact city center inviting you to relax and enjoy at your own pace. Easy and enjoyable day trips could include taking in the Cape Winelands, rugged Cape Peninsula, the nearby Whale Coast for whale watching or the splendidly scenic Garden Route. Additionally, nearby Robben Island in Table Bay is home of the prison where Nelson Mandela was held, and is now a living museum.

Cape Town is also a short flight to South Africa’s famous game reserves like Kruger Park, making a safari an easy extension to your city visit. It’s important to note that South Africa’s seasons are opposite those of the US, so summer in South Africa corresponds with America’s winter, and vice versa. The best times to visit Cape Town are March to May or September to November. These shoulder seasons boast great weather and fewer crowds. 

Kruger National Park offers approximately 5 million-acres of some of the best access to the Big Five – buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions and rhinos – as well as other wild animals and rare birds of Africa. A sprawling wildlife sanctuary, it is also home to many types of African trees, a savanna and woodland landscape. Kruger’s Marula and Nxanatseni regions house the Albasini and Masorini ruins, where Portuguese colonists and members of the indigenous Ba-Phalaborwa ethnic group once traded metal products, beads, clothes and more.

The best time to visit Kruger National Park is at the beginning or end of its dry season, April to September. During the dry season, temperatures are mostly pleasant (with nighttime temps as low as high 40s and daytime temps in the low to mid-80s). Vegetation will be sparse and water levels low, so you will have a better chance of spotting animals. However, extreme dry seasons can also result in increased animal deaths, so it’s best to avoid visiting during the driest months of  July, August and September, or during the rainy season (from October to March), when rainstorms and full foliage can make it difficult to see animals.

A recommended minimum of seven to ten days (plus travel days) for your South Africa vacation would allow for a well-rounded trip with at least 4 days to enjoy Cape Town, it’s beaches and wineries with a 4 or 5 day safari. 

A visit to South Africa’s Western Cape between March to May or September to November will help avoid the crowds. If combining with a safari, April and May are best.  

Vacations for 2021 and 2022 should be planned and booked now for best selection of dates, accommodations and activities.  Offers of no risk cancellation policies, book early discounts, reduced deposits and other special offers make it as enticing as ever to secure your vacation to South Africa.

WHEN TO GO: March to May or September to November, Ideally, allow at least 4 days plus travel days, with a minimum of 3 additional days if including a safari  

POPULAR TRAVEL STYLES: Small Private Groups, Luxury Travel, Independent Travel, Safari

IDEAL FOR: Culinary/Wine, Romantic Travel, Adventure Travel, Nature Vacation, Glamping, Couples, Families 

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Published by Cheryl Walton

Travel changes your perspective while creating special memories along the way. My goal is to always help create the vacation experience you imagine - whether it's bucket list travel, a celebration or a special interest vacation - history, WWII, heritage, wine, beer, culinary, language, art, and genealogy (just a few of my favorites). My first trip abroad was to southern Belgium as part of a town twinning program to help keep French culture alive in Louisiana. My host family provided an inside view of their country, lifestyle and culture, creating a friendship now 30+ years strong through 4 generations! That trip definitely impacted my style of travel - getting off the beaten path and engaging with locals - as well as a later career change to travel advisor. I strive to provide similar experiences tailored to your interests and comfort level.

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