Are you planning your South African Garden Route itinerary? Then look no further, we have you covered!
A few months ago we were contacted by a new travel company; Meraki Travel, the sister company of the well-known travel brand; Kuoni, and asked whether we would like to explore South Africa for a couple of weeks… obviously we jumped at the chance!
Who are Meraki and what do they offer?
Meraki, who launched their interactive website in November, are now making complex tailor-made itineraries easy and fun to plan, customise and book online.
It’s as simple as booking a base itinerary (so in our case this was the South Africa Garden Route itinerary) and then adding on any extra stops you might want to make (so we added on the winelands in Franschhoek and a safari in Eastern Cape).
You can also then add on experience packs as well to cater the trip to your personal interests, the packs include; Foodie, Active, Culture, Once in a Lifetime and Adrenalin packs.
We choose the Foodie (of course!!) and Culture packs which meant we got to do incredible things like; a Cape Malay cooking class in Cape Town, wine tasting and tapas pairing in Plettenberg Bay, the Table Mountain Cableway and the Franschhoek Wine Tram!
Finally you can select the pace of your travel; either standard pace or relaxed pace and also select the grade of your hotels; base (minimum 3 stars) or upgrade to boutique, premium or luxury.
What makes this website so interactive and easy to use is that the price changes for you live on screen as you add on different options, so you really can keep an eye on that budget!
Once your itinerary is complete and you’re happy it covers everything you want to see and do you can enter dates, select flights and book online!
Booking that trip of a lifetime, completely tailored to you, couldn’t be easier!
The Wanderlust Two Week Garden Route Itinerary
Firstly, we would recommend hiring a car for your two week trip.
The roads are super easy to drive and you have complete flexibility to stop off wherever you want; ostrich farms, mountain tops and bungee bridges were the main ad-hoc stops for us!
Cape Town – 4 Nights
The best place to start your trip is Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities with a huge array of things to see and do!
On day one you will probably feel a little jet-lagged from your travels so we recommend heading straight to the V&A waterfront to grab a glass of wine and some fresh oysters to watch the sun set.
The next morning wake up fresh and head to Table Mountain to grab the cable car up to the top.
Unfortunately for us the weather wasn’t on our side so we didn’t get a chance to use the cable car (check their website in the morning for cable car open/closed times) but we did take advantage of some of the nearby viewpoints to grab a shot or two.
In the afternoon we would also recommend a trip across to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over 25 years, your ticket will include the boat ride across to the island.
Both of these experiences can be booked up front as part of your overall Meraki Itinerary so there’s no need to purchase any tickets on the day.
That evening we suggest you head to the top of the Silo Hotel for sundowners on the roof deck, with incredible 360 degree views over the harbour and the mountain.
The following day it’s time to explore more of this cities beautiful culture!
Jump on the Hop On Hop Off bus, we choose the red route which took around 1.5 hours, and get off at any locations that take your interest.
That morning was sunny and beautiful so we hopped off at Camps Bay and sat and had a glass of wine overlooking the beach, it was perfect!
In the afternoon we visited one of the country’s oldest established communities; the Cape Malays in Bo-Kaap.
We started with a walking tour around the colourful streets of Bo-Kaap and ended with an incredible cooking class in the home of a local resident.
We helped her prepare samosas, roti, and chicken curry around her kitchen table and learnt a lot more about the fascinating history of this wonderful community.
We then devoured the tasty dinner and said goodbye to our welcoming host.
On your third day in Cape Town we would recommend a short drive to Boulders Beach to see the famous penguins.
It’s so crazy when you arrive at the beach to find yourself surrounded by literally hundreds of African penguins!
The beach itself is also really beautiful so you can definitely spend a morning there taking in the wildlife and soaking up some sun rays.
In the afternoon we explored more of the mountains and drove up towards Lions Head to take in some more breathtaking views.
We didn’t hike up Lions Head but if the weather permits it then it looks like an incredible climb!
Accommodation whilst in Cape Town: We stayed at the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel by Marriott which was comfortable, chic, central and had the best buffet breakfast of our entire trip!
Franschhoek- 3 Nights
On route to Franschhoek we recommend stopping off for the day in the quaint and pretty town of Stellenbosch.
Another area famous for its wine, Stellenbosch is the perfect place to break up your 1.5 hour car ride with a spot of lunch and some time wandering around the oak-shaded streets dotted with cafes, boutiques and art galleries.
Enjoy the evening at your leisure, perhaps a swim in your hotel pool or a night cap at a local winery.
Franschhoek is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and the name means ‘French Corner,’ which we feel is super fitting!
The town is scattered with many world-class wine estates so it’s the perfect place to spend a couple of days sampling the very best wine and Cap Classique.
On your first day in Franschhoek why not hire a Vine Bike and cycle your way around some of the vineyards!
There is no better way to experience the winelands than on an e-bike; effortless and super fun when you’ve had a wine or two!
We stopped off at a couple of vineyards for a spot of wine tasting; Moreson and Sir Richard Bransons vineyard; Mont Rochelle.
The following morning awake in Franschhoek (hopefully your head isn’t too sore!) and prepare yourself for another day of sampling more delicious local wine.
One of our favourite days of our Meraki South African trip was here in Franschhoek when we rode the wine tram and wine bus from vineyard to vineyard.
We took the pink route, which allowed us to tour the Franschhoek Valley and stop off at Leopards Leap, Moreson, Eikehof, Paserene, Le Lude, Franschhoek Cellar, and Maison, but there are other routes available too so do your research.
You have around half an hour to one hour at each stop before the wine bus arrives to take you to the next stop, just enough time to sample the vineyards very best wines, cheeses and meats!
It was during this (slightly tipsy) day that we met a lovely American couple who persuaded us to partake in a bungee jump with them the following day… so if Adrenalin is your thing, read on!
Accommodation whilst in Franschhoek: We highly recommend a stay at Franschhoek Country House and Villas. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel surrounded by vineyards and mountains, with an award winning restaurant; Monneaux. Our favourite hotel during our South African trip!
Oudtshoorn – 1 Night
Today is not a day for the faint hearted!
This doesn’t need to be a part of your two week Garden Route itinerary… but it could be fun, right?
We travelled around 6 hours to Bloukrans Bridge, the world’s tallest bridge bungee jump and accomplished something neither of us thought we would ever do!
Throwing ourselves off a bridge wasn’t something we had imagined we would do on a trip in South Africa, especially not the world’s highest one, but we did it and it was awesome!
This was a little out of our way and we did have to travel back on ourselves slightly for our stay in Oudtshoorn, so we would recommend booking this during your stay In Plettenberg Bay instead!
Accommodation whilst in Oudtshoorn: We stayed at the charming Hlangana Lodge, South Africa’s finest small luxury hotel. With modern and stylish bedrooms you also get a champagne breakfast included too, which we obviously made the most of!
Plettenberg Bay – 2 Nights
The journey from Oudtshoorn to Plettenberg Bay was one of our favourite days of travelling.
Oudtshoorn is known as the ostrich capital of the world and surround by the golden landscape of the Klein Karoo.
On route you’ll be greeted by hundreds of ostriches poking their little heads over fences and you’ll pass plenty of farms where you can go in and learn more about these funny, big birds!
Also be sure to visit the Cango Caves too!
Set in the Swartberg Mountains the caves extend more than two kilometers and are filled with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, some dating back millions of years!
Once you arrive in Plettenberg Bay spend the night at your leisure, this charming town has some fantastic restaurants and bars for you to sample.
The following day includes yet another vineyard, yay!
Bramon, the only wine estate this far East of the Western Cape, produces a superior Cap Classique and their wines have won numerous awards.
It’s here that we experienced the wine tasting and tapas pairing, sitting smack bang in the middle of the beautiful vineyards, sipping Sauvignon Blanc alongside warm, homemade bread, oozing Camembert and figs, was truly a wonderful experience.
In the afternoon we took a trip to Nature’s Valley which lies between the Salt River, Tsitsikamma Mountains and the Indian Ocean.
We strolled along the beach with our bellies and hearts full, agreeing with each other that South Africa really was one of the most diverse and beautiful countries we’d ever visited.
Accommodation whilst in Plettenberg Bay: We stayed at Whalesong Hotel & Spa, which is in a great location for reaching both the local town and the vineyard.
Kariega Private Game Reserve – 3 Nights
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, we added an extra stop on to our Meraki South Africa itinerary; an Eastern Cape Safari.
We are still pinching ourselves that we got to experience this; we’ve put a huge tick against the number one item on our bucket list!
Getting to the Kariega River Lodge, where we were staying, was a really easy and pleasant 3.5 hour drive from Plettenberg Bay.
On arrival, and after already spotting warthogs and a Nyala on our way in, we were welcomed into the authentic wooden lodge.
Sat alongside the river the lodge is the perfect place to spend your free time relaxing and excitedly chatting with other guests about what you saw on your last game drive!
Every morning and every afternoon we would set off into the 10,000 hectares private game reserve to seek out the big 5 and more.
Our fantastic guide; Talent, found two dozen Elephants taking their morning bath, a proud lion feeding on a wildebeest, a group of hippopotamus taking a leisurely dip, plus an abundance of rhinos, buffalos, giraffes, antelopes, zebras and much, much more.
The landscape of the reserve is covered with forest, savannah grasslands and long-stretching rivers, and exploring all of this by jeep is exhilarating!
Once back at the lodge after your drive you are greeted with a warm flannel, hot cocoa and roaring fire (as it can get quite cold on those evening drives) followed by a delicious breakfast or dinner.
We honestly had the best three days at Kariega River Lodge, taking a total of six game drives, one kayak adventure, one walking tour, and making a thousand memories that will last a lifetime.
Port Elizabeth – 1 Night
To finish the trip drive to Port Elizabeth, known as the friendly city but also the Windy City (we got to experience why!!).
The airport is based here so is the perfect place to end your two week Garden Route trip.
That evening we headed out to sample our last glass of South African wine and sat smiling from ear to ear whilst talking about the incredible adventure we’d just had.
Accommodation whilst in Port Elizabeth: Garden Court King’s Beach is a ten minute drive from the airport and situated by the main town and port, so the perfect location to base yourself for your final evening in South Africa.
We really hope you’ve enjoyed reading our two week South African Garden Route Itinerary.
The country is so diverse and full of incredible landscapes, adrenaline filled adventures, fascinating wildlife, bustling cities and delicious food and wine, all of which can be brought to life through Meraki’s tailored made itineraries.
Click here to learn more about Meraki and book your own South African adventure!
This post is sponsored by Meraki Travel, however all views are our own! We enjoyed our South Africa trip so much and we really recommend it be added to your bucket list immediately!
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