12 Day South Africa Trip Itinerary
I’m certain that only minutes after my fiancé proposed to me, I knew where I wanted to honeymoon. I also knew that convincing him to get on board with a South African honeymoon would take some creativity. Although he is open-minded and adventurous, before meeting me, he had only traveled to Mexico and taken one western European trip (while in High School). Had I suggested that we honeymoon to Ireland, no convincing would have been necessary. Africa, on the other-hand, was slightly overwhelming to him… that is, until he realized that we could dive with great white sharks.
After researching the country, its safety and possible activities, my now-husband was on board for what I considered to be my dream honeymoon (even if his acquiescence was, at least in the beginning, solely due to the fact that he would be able to dive with great white sharks). After we decided on a South African honeymoon, we had to decide whether it was feasible for us – both financially and work-wise. At the start of my research I requested quotes from several travel agents who specialize in safari and Africa travel, and read numerous books and blogs to narrow down what it was, exactly, we wanted to do and see while in South Africa. Not surprisingly, most of the quotes I received from the agents were in the $10,000.00 range, excluding international airfare – a daunting price tag for a couple who had just purchased an engagement ring and were paying for their own wedding and honeymoon (not to mention a home remodel looming in the future).
Lucky for us, I consider myself an expert at getting more bang for my buck. I planned our perfect itinerary with a reasonable budget by prioritizing our trip. We determined the activities and lodgings we wanted to “blow it out for” and which we could be satisfied on cutting back on. Although I am no stranger to hostels, we agreed that this would not be “that kind” of trip. Things we considered:
When to go? We wanted to go during or on the cusp of peak season so not to compromise weather for cheaper accommodations and travel costs. We decided on heading out over Thanksgiving and coming home early December. Traveling over a holiday is often more expensive, especially the price of the international plane ticket, but due to our work schedules, we were willing to pay more to take less time off work. Our trip was 13 days, but we only missed 7 days of work due to the holiday and weekends.
After hours of research, we decided on the following 12 day South Africa itinerary:
- A direct flight from Atlanta to Joburg. One night’s stay in Joburg at an airport hotel, after which we rented a car and drove to Kruger National Park. (This hotel was simply to catch a few hours sleep before hitting the road to Kruger).
- Three nights on safari at a luxury safari resort, after which we drove back to Joburg and took a flight to Cape Town. (Since this was our first safari, I wanted to “do it right” and wasn’t interested in a budget lodge or a lodge outside the park which could have saved us a WHOLE lot of cash).
- 4 nights in a “party boutique hotel” in Cape Town, after which we drove to wine country. (We figured we could save money on a budget boutique hotel since our time in Cape Town would be out and about taking in the city, with little time spent at the hotel).
- 2 nights in a luxury vineyard guesthouse in Franschhoek, after which we drove to Hermanus. (Our Franschhoek accommodation was a historic farmhouse located on a gorgeous vineyard – another splurge, but not breaking the bank).
- 1 night in a midrange hotel in Hermanus, after which we drove back to wine country. (Another night we decided to cut back and save some cash).
- 1 final night in a luxury Stellenbosch resort before driving back to Cape Town and taking a flight from Cape Town to Joburg to catch our international flight back to Atlanta. (Since it was our last night before heading back to the States, we weren’t willing to compromise on comfort and luxury in Stellenbosch).
How I got exceptional prices for a trip similar to the one recommended by the travel agents:
I wish there was one magic website I could bestow upon you… but ultimately, it boils down to lots and lots of research to find the best/cheapest flight patterns and the best value accommodations. If we were willing to book our hotels last-minute as opposed to months in advance, we would have saved quite a bit more money; however, I decided that my sanity was worth the extra cash (since I was extremely stressed with work and wedding planning). Once I decided on a particular accommodation, I would contact them directly and check a slew of travel sites to book the room for the lowest cost. Many of the rooms I booked I saw on other travel websites for nearly double the price that I ended up paying.
What did the trip end up costing?
- International Flight (Delta from ATL to Joburg direct) = $3,304.96 total, or $1,652.48 per person
- 3 nights at Kruger Safari lodge = $2,784.00
- Flight from Joburg to Cape Town on Kulula Airlines = $153.27 total, or $76.64 per person
- 4 nights in Cape Town Hotel = $439.80
- 2 nights in Franschhoek Vineyard Guesthouse = $378.69
- 1 night in Hermanus Hotel = $109.31
- 1 night in Stellenbosch Resort = $249.31
- Flight from Cape Town back to Joburg on Kulula Airlines = $162.04 total, or $81.02 per person
GRAND TOTAL = $4,276.42 excluding international airfare (less than half what a similar itinerary by a travel agent was), or $7,581.38 including international airfare.
***This post is part of a series on South Africa. Click here to read more about my time on safari, what to do in Cape Town, my time in the Winelands and to find out whether I enjoyed whale watching and diving with great white sharks! For more information about our lodging choices and reviews of each place we stayed, check out my city-specific South Africa posts.
Have you been to South Africa? What other destinations would you have added into this trip?
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