“I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased…”
There truly aren’t enough positive adjectives to describe South Africa. It is by far one of the most breathtaking countries we have ever visited. The wine country is beautiful, Cape Town is wonderful, and the people are welcoming. And, everything from South Africa’s inspirational history of a nonviolent handover of power, to its incredible game drives will leave you both wowed and enchanted.
One of the best things about South Africa, however, is that it combines the wonders of Africa with the convenience of a modern economy. On your visit, you won’t have to forgo safe air travel, modern hotels, or high-quality restaurants.
This trip is divided into three distinct parts: Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, the wine area around the university town of Stellenbosch, and the Thornybush Game Reserve. Although this is a wine adventure (we will be hiking and tasting our way through South Africa’s scenic wine country), we couldn’t resist adding a three-day safari in a very non-wine area: the Thornybush Private Reserve near Kruger National Park.
Cape Town is a fantastic, vibrant city in an utterly stunning setting; our hike up Table Mountain gives us 360-degree views of the city and surrounding Cape geography. Near Stellenbosch we hike in and around vineyards and wineries, with wine tastings during or after each hike. All this is capped off by the safari, an experience one 11-trip veteran of Zephyr called “the most amazing experience of my life.”
Our safari near Kruger National Park is truly the highlight of the trip. There’s nothing like sitting in an open Land Rover as your ranger and spotter track a pride of lions or a herd of elephants. It’s an incredible event, and something everyone should have the opportunity to experience at least once in a lifetime.
Or if you are looking to have a more intimate experience with the South Africa wildlife, check out our South Africa: Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Adventure.
Private Tour Info
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Trip Favorite Moments & Reviews
“I loved that each leg was so different. Capetown is dramatic with the wind and rugged hiking and the continued division of the economic classes. Stellenbosch was so lovely and felt very rural, truly like “wine country”. Thornybush was wonderfully high-end with the service, food and accommodations, but very authentic, down to the guides attitudes about conservation and animal encounters.”Lynea K.
“Driving in the darkness to a spotlight lit lion sitting there majestically like a statue which I actually thought it was until it moved and then roared echoing into the night–a very surreal moment!”Rochelle T.
- Dates: April 20 - 27, 2019
- Cost Per Person: $3,700
- Optional Single Supplement: $950
- Private Tour Minimum: 8
- Activities: Hiking, Wine, & Safari
- Difficulty: All Ability Levels
- Guides: Annelee Steyn, Beth Peluse
Other Info: This trip needs a minimum of 8 to run and is limited to 16 participants.
Two internal flights estimated to be $600 not included.
Please note: Because we must provide a deposit to ensure space on safari, the $500 deposit for this trip is not refundable or transferable to another trip, starting seven days after you receive your trip confirmation email and Pre-Departure Packet.Book this Tour
- Taking in the stunning and unique scenery of the Cape Floral Kingdom while hiking along coastal trails, through vineyards, and in town
- Visiting and tasting wine at some of South Africa’s best wineries
- Hiking up Table Mountain in Cape Town
- Seeing penguins, ostriches, baboons and more on the Cape of Good Hope
- Looking for animals like lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and cheetahs on a thrilling safari, which should be on everyone’s bucket list
Flights to Cape Town airport arrive at all times of the day. If you arrive early enough, you can spend some time walking around Cape Town, schedule a tour to visit a nearby “shanty town” township, visit the incredible Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, or take a trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years of his life. We will meet as a group late this afternoon for an introduction to one another and to South Africa’s wines. Afterwards, we’ll have a short walk to dinner at a somewhat touristy but very fun restaurant that is alive with music, dancing, drumming and food from all over Africa! What a great introduction to the continent!
Today we visit the Cape Peninsula and the southernmost point of the continent of Africa! Our hike takes place high above the water with incredible views of the sparkling blue water below and includes options for both a 4-kilometer hike and another 2-kilometer hike. Did you realize the tiny Cape of South Africa is its own plant kingdom, one of only six in the world? The Protea is a unique species that you will see all over the cape. Be sure to watch for baboons and ostriches along the trail! On the way back to Cape Town we’ll visit a penguin colony and then cap off our day with a tasting at a winery in the Constantia area. Tonight’s dinner is at an intimate little spot with excellent food — the bonus is that it is right out our back door!
Our hike today is designed to get the kinks out of your travel-weary legs! We hike up impressive Table Mountain, the looming monolith above the city, and spend time walking around on top with the amazing views of the city, the Cape and the sea. We’ll take the cable car down (you can also choose to take it up if you don’t wish to have a strenuous hike up) and get back in time for a little beer tasting at Devil’s Peak Brewery or shopping at the Old Biscuit Mill this afternoon before perhaps hitting the hotel’s rooftop hot tub before dinner. Again, we stroll to dinner, this time through the lovely Company Gardens before arriving at our destination: the swanky Planet Restaurant in the famous Mount Nelson Hotel by Orient Express.
We check out and depart this morning for Stellenbosch, a university town with very Dutch roots and fantastic Cape Dutch architecture. Stellenbosch is set against gigantic mountains and is the center of South Africa’s wine region. We take a wonderful historic walk through town, then have a bit of free time to explore on our own. This afternoon, we have a short hike through the vineyards to the beautiful Jordan Winery (of course, we cannot leave there without a tasting) and then stop at a lavender farm before shuttling back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. Tonight’s dinner is a magnificent Boerebraai (South African Farm BBQ) at Middelvlei Wine Estate.
Stellenbosch is situated in a fertile river valley and boasts a mild Mediterranean climate with rainy winters and hot summers – ideal for growing the grapes that make this area so famous. We spend most of the day here hiking on the Dirtopia Trail. We’ll have two route options from which you can choose, both of which offer stunning views of the winelands and both will end at Warwick Estates and offer a luscious tasting. Our hikes are gentle, with wonderful views of the vineyards and unique Stellenbosch Mountains. Afterward, you can choose to have a picnic lunch and another tasting at Delheim Estates, or take a nearby township tour. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a walk through the cozy oak-lined streets of this historic town and a lively dinner at the Big Easy, the restaurant owned by South African golf legend, Ernie Els.
We take a morning flight to Huidspruit airport near Kruger National Park and a transfer to the Chapungu Luxury Tented Lodge in the Thornybush Game Reserve. This afternoon, after getting settled into our luxury camp, we’ll take our first driving safari in our comfortable Land Rovers. Our spotters and trackers will work hard to make sure we see as many of the reserve’s 48 Mammal species, 112 Tree species, 230 Bird species and 54 reptile species as possible. The drives are absolutely phenomenal and we see an incredible array of animals at what seems an amazingly close (but safe) distance. We’ll stop for “sundowners” (cocktails) as the sun sets over the bush. For dinner we have the first of the gourmet meals cooked by the lodge’s staff.
After a quick cup of coffee or tea, we depart at first light – a time of day many animals are active – for another game drive. We get back to camp a few hours later and enjoy breakfast and perhaps a quick nap. After a gourmet lunch, we’ll offer an optional a bush walk under the care of our professional (and armed) ranger. You’ll be thrilled by the experience and get the chance to witness some of smaller species, like the dung beetle, at close range. (Note everything is optional and you can relax in the lodge if you wish to skip the bush walk.) We repeat yesterday’s schedule of late afternoon safari drive, sundowners, and dinner.
We have our final attempt to complete our viewing collection of all of the “Big Five” animals (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo) before transferring back to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg. Our tour ends at the airport in Johannesburg and you can choose to either fly home or spend time in this city.Book this Tour
NIGHTS 1, 2 & 3 >> CAPE HERITAGE HOTEL / CAPE TOWN
A small, beautiful hotel that has the oldest living vine in South Africa right in its courtyard. This is one of our favorite hotels worldwide because of the exceptionally friendly staff.
NIGHTS 4 & 5 >> OUDE WERF HOTEL / STELLENBOSCH
Oude Werf (or “the old Churchyard”) is South Africa’s oldest hotel, built on the site of its first church of 1680 in the historic wine "capital" and university town of Stellenbosch.
NIGHTS 6 & 7 >> CHAPUNGU TENTED BUSH CAMP / THORNYBUSH GAME RESERVE
The small enclave of tented cabins have fantastic creature comforts and the impeccable staff makes us feel like royalty.Book this Tour
Arrival & Departure
We begin in Cape Town and meet on the first day at our hotel in the late afternoon. Our trip ends in Johannesburg at the airport in the early afternoon on the last day of the trip. You can choose to either fly home (or to other parts of Africa) this evening or spend additional time in this city. You will need to book your airfare INTO Cape Town and OUT OF Johannesburg.
- Our local South African guide will accompany each trip. A US-based Zephyr guide will be added if the group size reaches 12 or more.
- Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
- All of your dinners and breakfasts are included, as well as two of your lunches in Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Gratuity for these meals is also included. In general, we leave a couple lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route. All meals at Chapungu are included.
- All your ground transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
- All group activities, entrance fees, and wine tastings are included (all drinks at meals are on your own).
- NOT INCLUDED: Beverages, desserts, lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
Because we must provide a deposit to ensure space at the volunteer camp, which is limited in numbers, the $500 deposit for this trip is not refundable or transferable to another trip, starting seven days after you receive your trip confirmation email and Pre-Departure Packet. Please strongly consider trip insurance!
South Africa is a big country with many separate climates. While temperatures don’t vary that much, the key is to avoid the rainy seasons, which fall in April through September in the wine area and November through March in Kruger National Park. That leaves us with October as the single best month to travel for our split-location tour. High temperates will be in the 70s Fahrenheit with lows around 50 degrees.
Changes to Your Itinerary
While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience.
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