When life gives you not enough cash for luxury travel, the answer is… a tour package!
With landscapes as diverse as its languages and cultures, South Africa is a traveler’s dream. But to see it all in one holiday is just not possible, just because of the vast size of our country. Choosing a package tour is a great way to save money and a sure way to get to see the best of the country and its highlights – and it’s also a great way to meet new friends!
With Cape Town as your starting point we’ve put together a list of iconic places to visit and things do if you’re exploring the Western Cape on a budget or strapped for time. All the towns and activities are within easy reach, and offer a taste of South Africa in all its flavours; the coastal cape fynbos, the drier expanses of the Little Karoo, the green forests of the Garden Route and the wild grasslands of Addo.
Home to one of the largest penguin colonies in the Western Cape, and just a short drive from Cape Town, Betty’s Bay is a great place to view penguins in their natural habitat. There are a range of hikes in the area for those who’d like to get “lost” in the Cape Fynbos for a while, and the town itself has some cute coffee shops and art galleries to browse.
When someone mentions Hermanus the first thing that jumps to mind is – whales! This town is well known for its intimate, close up sightings of whales, but it also has beautiful beaches, rock pools, interesting stores, markets and art galleries to explore. Hermanus has become a very vibey town, with lots of visitors and an energetic restaurant scene. Don’t miss out on the museums where you can learn about the rich history of the town and see a full-size whale skeleton up close.
Gansbaai, Struisbaai and Cape Agulhas
Follow the coastal road towards Cape Agulhas through Bredasdorp, where you will find a Shipwreck Museum. This museum gives an interesting look at life in days gone by as well as a history of some of the shipwrecks found in the area. Just a bit further on you’ll get to quaint little village of Cape Agulhas, that proudly claims the title of Southernmost tip of Africa and the true meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The evidence of Khoisan life can still be seen in the form of ancient fish traps and shell middens. Be sure to check out the famous lighthouse museum (the second oldest lighthouse in the country) and climb the 71 steep steps to the top for a view like no other.
Leaving the coastal road you link onto Route 62, destination Oudtshoorn, a town that was centre stage in the two ostrich feather booms of the late 1800s and early 1900s and is still the best place to see these strange giant birds up close. Situated in the lovely, albeit slightly desolate, region known as the little Karoo. The town is full of olde-world charm and has a vibrant coffee shop culture. Be sure to explore the Cango Caves while you’re in the area. There are different tour options at the caves, ranging from the easy walk through to the crawl-and-climb experience of the adventure route.
Mossel Bay is one of the few towns that face north and it has one of the safest and most beautiful swimming beaches in the country: Santos Beach. At this beach there are hardly ever waves, and the blue waters are always clean and warm. The town has an abundance of quaint little coffee shops and restaurants to choose from, and a museum housing a full size replica of the ship (the Caravel) that first landed on these shores in 1488. For the more adventurous, there’s a 13.5km hike along the cliffs of the Cape St Blaise trail.
Situated in the Wilderness National Park, the town of Wilderness lays within the lakes district, and boasts some of the most beautiful forests, rivers, beaches and lakes in the country. There are plenty of hikes to explore and the town itself has a great choice of restaurants and coffee shops.
Home to one of the biggest and most well supported outdoor markets in the country, Sedgefield is a place where the interesting characters gather. The town is known for its laid-back lifestyle and pristine beaches. The market is open every Saturday and has three sections to it. There’s plenty to look at and you can find everything from local art and crafts to craft beer and organic meals. Try to spot all the mosaic-ed artworks placed around the town…
Steeped in history and legends, Knysna is where the forests meet the sea. The town is charming with just the right mix of bohemian and vibey upmarket culture. The waterfront has some amazing boutique stores to browse through, as does the rest of the town. If you’re looking for a photo opportunity, head over to the famous Knysna heads (by car or by boat), or go for a hike in the Featherbed Nature reserve. If you swim in the lagoon you might come face to face with a seahorse!
Known by the Khoikhoi as the “place of clear water,” Tsitsikamma, with its massive untouched forests, magical waterfalls and rugged but picturesque coastline, should be an obvious stop for any nature lover. There are many hikes in the National Park, and the river mouth is perfect for snorkeling on a clear day. Being a marine reserve, the turquoise waters are teaming with colourful sea creatures. If you’re the adrenaline-seeking type, you can take a leap from the highest bridge-based bungee jump in the world.
Situated just past Port Elizabeth is Addo National Elephant Park which stretches down from the semi-arid Karoo in the North, over the Zuurberg mountains and down to the Sundays River at the coast. Addo is THE place to see the African Elephant with over 600 in the park. But elephants are not the only things to see here: there are black maned lions and the rest of the Big 5 in their natural setting. (Get a spotting chart when you sign in and see if you can find all the animals on the list!) If you want to see these gentle giants up close – you can’t miss this stop.
Join us on this adventure
We have a range of guided group tours and self-drive tours available that follow this route from Cape Town to Addo. Our guides and virtual guides know South Africa and the ins-and-outs of local culture and will be able to give you the best advice on what to do, what to see and where to eat in each area. Have a look at our 6 Day Garden Route to Addo package, which includes all the towns mentioned above, or our Ostriches and Elephants self-drive package.