My trips to South Africa are so deeply precious to me. This was my sixth visit to the country and Cape Town is most definitely the place city to start your travel itinerary.
The core of my trip was jam-packed full of adventures and new discoveries. I was really excited to have so much time to enjoy all the new places in Cape Town on my 11 day trip.
I travelled with my parents and sister, yet spent the majority of my visit with two cousins. My previous visits had been to see family; however, this trip was significantly different as I explored Cape Town properly, discovering some treasures.
Day 1: Arrival in Clanwilliam
Fortunately my flight to Cape Town was late at night, so I was able to get a great night’s sleep in before landing around 7am. I was very excited to be back in the beautiful country, away from drab English weather and into summer sunshine. Clanwilliam is an easy 2 hour drive from Cape Town, along dirt track roads and through charming man-made towns – it’s a rustic route.
Clanwilliam is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and also one of the prettiest. Surrounded by picturesque vineyards, orchards and farms, it’s particularly well known for its dam, which hosts all kinds of water sports and is home to perfect fishing spots. I particularly loved this dam because the views from the water are stunning, especially when you’re rock jumping!
After an early-morning water-ski or swim (if you’re a fan of tea like me), then I recommended going to the Rooibos Tea House at Netmar. Roiboss was originally grown here and you can choose from hundreds of delicious flavours, while enjoying the idyllic setting – lovely at any time of the day.
- Exploring Clanwilliam – Clanwilliam is very easy to explore on foot, but it’s main focal point is the Clanwilliam Dam. So make sure you pack some swimming clothes to truly explore it by going for a dip or rock jumping into the water.
- Tea Time – Roiboss tea isn’t just delicious; it’s also really good for you, known throughout South Africa as having a lot of health benefits.
Day 2: Elands Bay
Most mornings I didn’t have a clue where I would be going for the day – even if I asked my relatives, I still had no expectations of the location as I hadn’t heard of the places before. I loved that though, because wherever we went, it was always a pleasant surprise and exciting discovery. This was especially true of Elands Bay.
Stretches of pure white sand, grey rocks and electric blue water; it couldn’t get much better. Private beach shacks and bohemian houses dressed with hammocks and surfboards surrounded the bay. On the day that I visited there was a local rugby tournament being played on the beach; all the local teams got together to play – it was a huge event! So many families and friends drinking, dancing, sunbathing, chatting and watching the games – I’m not sure if this is a yearly event but it’s definitely worth checking out.
While the boys went out for a surf, we all went for lunch at the only hotel: Elands Bay Hotel. It had a great outdoor area with benches and umbrellas that shaded us from the hot sun. There was something incredibly satisfying about sitting amongst the vivid flowers, looking out over the ocean with a belly full of fish ‘n’ chips. The service was a little slow, but the casual pace is part of Elands Bay’s charm. And it meant we had all the more reason to sit outside with drinks, before heading inside to eat. If you prefer a speedy meal, I would recommend booking a table in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Dining Out and Staying In – The Elands Bay Hotel is your only option for accommodation if you want to stay in the area. It’s also a great place to grab a meal or drink. You can find room rates and make table reservations on the hotel’s website.
- Beach Activities – The surf at Elands Bay is crisp and spectacular, popular with local and international boarders alike. If you want to catch a few waves, you should bring a board along, or you can just watch the surfers work their magic while enjoying a leisurely walk along the shore.
Day 3: Muisbosskerm in Lamberts Bay
I had dined at Muisbosskerm a few years prior to this trip and my second time was just as memorable. It is a must-do if you’re in Lamberts Bay – in my opinion it is the pinnacle of South African restaurants.
The thing to remember is, it’s not just a restaurant; it’s a day out. During the day I was able to feast my eyes on beautiful scenery and every type of fish and meat I could possibly imagine! That second visit, I dined on Boxing Day, which was without a doubt one of the busiest days of the year. I would recommend booking in advance if you’re intending to eat around Christmas or any other big holiday of the year. Make the phone call; you will not be disappointed.
- Eating at Muisbosskerm – The sea is freezing! Unless you’re particularly brave or iron-skinned, I wouldn’t recommend venturing into the water. You might also want to bring some warm clothing, as the sea spray makes it quite breezy at Muisbosskerm. One final recommendation: make sure you bring a big appetite – the food is delicious!
Day 4 & 5: Cape Town
Skeleton Gorge and Table Mountain
After a morning drive to Cape Town from Clanwilliam, the rest of my fourth day was particularly relaxing. Packed into a car with my family, I drove to Kirstenbosch to take on the Skeleton Gorge route.
It was a tough walk that took me through natural terrain, the majority of which was small paths and steps with the occasional climbing of rocks. At one point I thought to myself, “How the hell am I going to make this?” Fortunately, I had encouragement from everyone else and in the end I made it to the top! All the effort was totally worth it when we got to the top of Table Mountain with a stunning view of Cape Town as the city woke up.
It took me around 1.5 hours, but it’s possible to walk it faster if you wish. I recommend going early in the morning to avoid the heat, because the cooler you are the easier it will be. However, regardless of temperature you will sweat.
Other Table Mountain Tour options
|Table Mountain Hike in Cape Town|
Follow an experienced guide who will take you through the Skeleton Gorge to the top of Table Mountain, before making your way back down via cable car.
|Table Mountain and Cape Town Half-Day Trip|
For an easier journey, take the cable car directly to the top of Table Mountain and enjoy the stunning views of Cape Town.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
The walk down was also a wonderful experience, particularly when I arrived at the stunning Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. I spent some time amongst all the picturesque nature and found it to be a lovely place to relax and enjoy the tranquillity of vast greenscapes, tropical plants and colourful wildlife.
|Morning in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Half day tour|
Get picked up from your hotel and explore the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with a professional photographer on this 4 hour tour. You’ll see national icons such as the King Protea and the rare crane flower.
- Take in Views without the Sweat – If you’re not keen on or able to make the walk up Skeleton Gorge, you can purchase tickets for the Cableway, a safe and relaxing gondolier.
- Botanical Gardens – The Kistenboch National Botanical Garden is enormous (36 hectares comprised of more than 7,000 species. You should definitely consider checking it out while you’re in the area.
- Cape Town Nightlife – Partying in Cape Town is an awesome experience worth enjoying at least once while in the city. I recommend checking out Longstreet; pretty much any bar down along this lively stretch is heaving on a daily basis. You can even try Tiger Tiger on a Tuesday, located in the city.
Day 6: Le Petite Ferme, Franschhoek
After six trips, Franschhoek is still one of my favourite places in South Africa. Nestled snugly within the Cape Vinelands, Franschhoek is blooming with wineries and the most beautiful houses, buildings, crops and flowers – simply driving through it really is spectacular. The town itself is quite small, but good things come in small packages. Full of quaint coffee shops, ice-cream parlours, boutiques and restaurants, it’s a picturesque location that comes with stunning views.
We drove to one of the wineries in the mountains called La Petite Ferme. It was a boiling hot day, but some wine tasting and delicious food quickly negated this insignificant discomfort. We managed to snag a table outside, which turned out to be the perfect position to eat, thanks to the amazing view of the surrounding mountain terrain. The food was particularly unbelievable, both in taste and price – for a very special place, I honestly couldn’t believe how reasonably priced it was. Pork Belly was definitely on the agenda for me, apart from it being my favourite meal, I saw the pork belly come out of the kitchen before I even chose it.. and the smell… oh wow it was good. I was sold.
The wine that they produce on the farm is exceptionally tasty, and with the help of my travelling companions, I managed to polish off a bottle (or two) with dinner. The owners were also very grateful and overjoyed when I decided to buy one before leaving. One of my favourite moments out of the entire day was simply sipping champagne prior to our meal (you can also choose coffee or tea), while sitting out on the lawn gazing out at the picturesque surrounds. It was one of those iconic holiday moments that I’ll always remember.
- Wining, Dining and Staying – Any of the winery’s in Franschhoek are a treat to visit. You can also stay at La Petite Ferme, a luxurious hotel with views, service and food that doesn’t disappoint.
- Exploration – I recommend exploring the town before or after you visit a winery. You may even want to stop in at one of the ice cream parlours or cafes.
|Full-Day Wine Tour from Franschhoek|
If you’re not sure which wineries to go, join a tour that will take you to 3 of the finest winery estates in Franschhoek. Entrance fees included and you can enjoy 4-7 glasses of wine per estate.
Day 7: Cape Point
Cape Point is the most south-westerly tip of Africa, a World Heritage-listed site and is the most southerly point within the Good Hope section of Table Mountain. Upon arrival I knew exactly why it attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. It’s about a 60-kilometre drive from Cape Town, so I decided to spend the entire day there and get the most out of it.
Cape Point invites diversity. It’s the perfect place to plan a picnic, hike or mountain bike, and eat at the famous Two Oceans restaurant positioned on a look-out point, where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet.
We packed a picnic so we could go to one of the surrounding white beaches after our adventure. Crisps, dips, meat, cheese, ice-creams, fruit, bread – you name it, we packed it!
Collecting a shuttle from the car park, we were driven to the bottom of Cape Point, where the pathway begins. You can either walk up to the lighthouse or catch the mini cable car to the top. Because my legs were still sore after the walk up Table Mountain, I caught the cable car while everyone else walked.
When I got to the top there were lots of little paths lined with brick walls that veer off to different look-out points where you can take pictures til your heart’s content. The views were absolutely breathtaking and the cable car for me was all part of the fun. I know that next time I go back I will do the walk happily – it looked just as good as the gondolier ride.
There’s a beautiful, pure white sandy beach on the drive back from Cape Point – so quiet and peaceful, with huge sand dunes and pale grey rocks. The beach is another great spot to stop for a picnic, especially with Cape Point to the left of you.
- Swim Safety – The sea is freezing and particularly strong, so if you go swimming, you should make sure you’re not alone; the current is dangerously strong.
- Gondolier and Photos – If you find yourself not up to the walk to the top of Cape Point, you can catch the gondolier (called The Flying Dutchman). Gondolier tickets can be purchased upon arrival. The drive along the sea front away from Cape Point is also amazing for photo opportunities.
|Cape Point Sightseeing Tour|
Enjoy the coastal scenery on this half day tour and see some of the most spectacular sights in Cape Point. Visit Hout Bay, the old light house, and stop at Boulder’s Beach to witness the African penguins.
Day 8 & Day 9: Sunset at Camps Bay
After just over one week into my trip, I travelled to the lovely Camps Bay, a major tourist destination for foreign visitors as well as South Africans looking for a beach holiday. Camps Bay is at the foot of Twelve Apostles Mountains, lined with bustling festive restaurants and sunbathers sprawled across the sands of the Atlantic.
I went to a particular restaurant in Camps Bay, called The Grand, which was an eclectic blend of chic, retro and traditional styles. They had a way of exceeding all my expectations regarding food, views, décor and drinks – especially the mojitos!
It’s best to head to Camps Bay at around evening time (anytime from 3 or 4pm). That’s when it starts getting busy with locals sitting outside appreciating the final sun rays, while dining with cocktails and seafood. The sunset was actually one of the main reasons I visited Camps Bay – the sun lines the sky with the most beautiful colours. There was something so mesmerising about watching it. I can’t quite put my finger on why; it was just amazing.
The beach was lovely too, and if you’re looking to stay in Camps Bay, it’s worth getting an apartment or a hotel in the mountains, so you can enjoy the stunning view and that sunset every day. Otherwise, from here, it’s time for the long 5 hour trek towards Plettenberg Bay.
Day 10: Knysna Forest National Park Reserve
The locals say that Knysna Forest “whispers a special magic”, which I found to be completely true. There are boardwalks that you can take from pretty much anywhere within the forest and signs that make it easy to find your way. Each path took me on a journey through the wonders of the forest, leading me past waterfalls, sandy and deserted rock beaches, and views that I have never seen before.
As you can probably tell at this point, I do appreciate my fair share of views, but when you’re travelling, you do have to stop every now and then to take everything in. Even though I could capture it in a photo, taking a moment to soak it in by myself was just as memorable. The walks varied in length, and although I found myself walking for a couple of hours, I was able to stop every now and then to slide down mini waterfalls into the rock pools – so refreshing!
After walking for a while, I wandered out into a clearing. Pebbles and rocks of all different shapes and sizes made up the spectacular space, getting soaked by crashing waves. Some of the rocks had made small pools filled with glassy water that I was able to swim in. It was a place that made me feel like no one else existed in the world. The majority of the walks from the sea edge go up into the landscape so as you look back you can see for miles and miles – be sure to take your camera!
- Knysna Forest Essentials – It’s important to remember to bring plenty of water and wear appropriate walking shoes, otherwise you may find the experience slightly uncomfortable. So you don’t miss out on any of the refreshing pools, take swimming clothes and if someone is willing to shoulder a bag, toss in a pair of flip flops, snacks and a towel.
- Snap Happy –The majority of the walks from the sea edge go up into the landscape and as you look back, you’ll see the water touching the sky, so make sure you bring a camera or you’ll miss some incredible shots.
Day 11: Exploring Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay (Plett) exceeded all of my expectations. With its intriguing lagoons and estuaries, towering forests and crystal blue rivers, it was such a beautiful and unspoiled part of South Africa. It was warm when I visited, but apparently the temperature doesn’t change much, making it a great spot year-round. Plett for me was all about lazy sun-filled beach holidays and the range of amazing restaurants and shopping boutiques.
Although I never got to partake in any whale or dolphin watching, or canoeing up the Bitou and Keuroboom rivers, I’ve heard countless incredible stories. Within Keurobooms Beach was the famous Arch Rock, which resembles an ‘i’. It’s local knowledge that if you throw a rock through the hole at the top, you’ll visit the area again at some point in your life. This was easier said than done, and although I tried, I never got a rock in the hole. Will I be able to re-visit? Who knows?
As previously mentioned, I spent most of my days in South Africa lazing on the beach and hitting up the waves, probably due to the fact that I went out every night. The nightlife in Plettenberg is so much fun – with a cool crowd that’s always buzzing. I’m so glad I got to visit on the last leg of my trip, because I think every trip you have needs to include a little bit of chill time, and I definitely found that in this city.
Although the area is well-known for its adrenaline sports, mountain biking and all sorts of activities, it’s also a place where South Africans seek reprieve from the busy cities and head up the coast to enjoy the bay’s beauty.
- Pizza – If you’re looking for something to eat while in Plettenberg Bay, I recommend grabbing a slice or more of the delicious pizza at Enrico. It’s always busy (for good reason) and the food is top notch.
- Bars and Clubs – For nightlife entertainment, make sure you hit up Flashbacks on a Tuesday or Thursday. Of course, on the weekend anywhere in Plettenberg Bay provides a great time. For a more low-key night, I recommend checking out the surfside bars and cafes.
South Africa opened my eyes to true beauty and wonder. There was more to the country than I initially thought, and every destination I visited felt like a unique paradise. Seeing those new places made me fall in love with the Western Cape and simply knowing that there is still plenty more to see and do makes me excited for future visits.
I found each aspect of South Africa – the people, safaris, food, lifestyles, cultures, and of course the views – helped give the country its warm nature. I hope this itinerary helps inspire and motivate your own trip to South Africa. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about South Africa.