Table of Contents
South Africa Itinerary
We took three weeks to make our trip which was enough time to see everything at a fairly leisurely pace. You could probably shorten it to 15 days if you were short of time.
An Eastern Cape Safari proved to be a good choice. You can make your way up to Kruger, but that involves longer journey time, a stay in Johannesburg and the need to protect yourself against malaria – so the Eastern Cape was our choice for the safari portion of the trip and we were very happy with it.
Best time to visit South Africa
We visited in late October/November and had lovely warm weather most of the time. Early mornings and evenings can be cold though – particularly when you are on an open topped safari jeep – so be sure to pack your fleece, hat and gloves.
One of the great things about South Africa is that it is pretty much a year round destination. Wildlife viewing opportunities vary according to the time of year. Winter (May to October) is a good time to visit because it is easier to spot the big game then.
If you want to see whales, then you need to visit between July and November.
Top Ten "Must-Dos" for a trip to South Africa
- Have breakfast on the V&A Waterfront
- Marvel at the unique SA flora at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- Visit the African Penguin colony a Boulders Beach
- Experience the Tasting Menu at le Quartier Francaise, Franschhoek
- Be hugged by an ostrich at Oudtshoorn
- Hike the Dolphin Trail along Tsitsikamma
- I-Spy the Big Five on an Eastern Cape Safari at Shamwari
- Explore the flora in style at Grootboos Private Nature Reserve
- Take a photographic journey of a lifetime at Shamwari
- Enjoy a sundowner deep in the bush and keep score of just how many stunning sunsets you gaze on
Where I Stayed
Best Hotel Award
We managed to find some superb hotels on our trip through South Africa and picking the best isn’t easy.
Shamwari wins because it is a great place to experience a safari and that is the reason why most people choose to visit South Africa.
Experiencing the luxury of a safari lodge and the thrill of seeing big game close up knowing that you are in the safe hands of an expert team is without doubt a bucket list experience. Our stay was greatly enhanced by booking a photographic package with the specialist team at Shamwari.
My Packing List
Basic Essentials for a trip to South Africa:
- Fleece, hat and gloves for cold nights/early mornings
- Waterproof jacket
- Sun hat/sunscreen
- Mosquito/insect repellent
- Tick tweezers
- A no peg clothes line
- Loose fitting cool trousers – khaki is best
- Sleeveless safari jacket – the sort with pockets for all your bits and pieces – khaki is best
- Covered shoes – for bush walking
- The best camera you can afford!
- Lonely Planet Guidebook
Flora and Fauna
South Africa is home to an such a wide variety of flora and fauna it is not possible to list it all here. No visit could fail to disappoint anyone in search of exciting wildlife viewing opportunities.
The indigenous plant life includes some 23,000 species of flowering plants (including 728 species of trees) – around 10% of the world’s flowering species.
On top of all that, there are also some 900 species of bird. Just make sure you take a good camera to capture it all!
Some of the highlights to look out for are listed below, to get you in the mood for making your own trip.
Wildlife - Highlights
- Whales (July to November)
- African Penguins
- The Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant
Search for “Foodie Firsts” to discover more about South Africa’s Foodie scene.
We enjoyed a very high standard of cuisine in South Africa and it was open of the many highlights of this trip. As you can see from the photos, gastronomy is taken very seriously here – some of the dishes were almost too beautiful to eat?!
Learning the Lingo
“Just Now” – at some point in the future (unspecified!)
Braai – BBQ
Robot – traffic light
Bleed me dries – mobile phones
Tips for Future Travellers
Delaying hiring a car until you have finished visiting Cape Town might be a good move. You can easily get around with a Hop on Hop bus ticket and it is really easy to book tours like the Peninsular Tour to the Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach too. Delaying hiring your car saves you a bit of cash and allows you to relax and settle into your trip while someone else drives you.
If you want to sample the Tasting Menu at Le Quartier Francais, you need to book well ahead and be sure to plan your trip around when the fine dining restaurant is open, which isn’t very night.
On reflection, 3 nights at Shamwari Game Reserve would have been sufficient for us – even with good weather every day.
Most of the proteas had finished flowering by the time we arrived unfortunately – they are at their best in October.