Home comers have been known to clap or even cry as they see Cape Town’s beloved Table Mountain from the airplane window, such is the emotion roused by this city’s mother icon. It’s also been likened to a sleeping goddess, the stairway to heaven, and watcher of the south. You will experience its quarzitic energy on a trip to the top by cable car, where this long thin peninsula — with Cape Town at its head and Cape Point at its tip — spreads out before you.
Cape Town’s scenic beauty is unsurpassed. We’ll drive you along mind-blowing coastal scenic routes, through the genteel Cape Winelands for wine tasting at ancient estates, around the historic city, and jet you off on a luxury yacht motor cruise for an ocean adventure that also includes a first-hand account of life on Robben Island from one of Nelson Mandela’s former prison wardens. Remember: there’s no rush, take your cue from chilled-out Capetonians. They are so laid back that citizens of industrious Johannesburg say it’s called the Mother City because it takes 9 months for anything to happen!
Depart home for Cape Town, South Africa
Leave your cares behind and travel to Cape Town, South Africa, arriving on day 2.
Arrive in Cape Town and see Table Mountain for the first time
Sailors approaching the Cape in the 17th century reported seeing a magnificent flat-topped mountain rising out of the earth from a great distance away. With some luck, we’ll see Table Mountain in all its glory as we approach South Africa’s “Mother City.”
After landing at Cape Town’s airport, it’s a quick drive to our grand city center hotel, where you have the afternoon to relax and explore on your own. The hotel offers a free shuttle to the V&A Waterfront, just a 5-minute drive away. If time around the heated outdoor pool or a spa service sounds like a fine idea, the spa at Mangwanani offers an array of exotic treatments.
Tonight, the hotel will serve a buffet of Cape Malay dishes, renowned for gently spiced flavors influenced by slaves brought from Malaysia in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Bo-Kaap Quarter of the city is still the traditional home of the local Cape Malay population.
Reach the top of Table Mountain and explore the historical city of Cape Town
It’s impossible to resist the mystical allure of Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and today we aim to get to the top (weather-permitting). We’ll do it the effortless way in a rotating cable car, taking just five thrilling minutes hugging the craggy mountainside all the way to the top. Views from up there seem endless — you’ll be able to see all the way down the mountain range toward Cape Point, across the ocean to Robben Island, and over the city bowl hemmed in by land and water. It’s said to be the perfect Feng Shui city!
Along the way, discover the unique Fynbos plants, endemic to the Cape and found only here, which is why this important Floral Kingdom inside Table Mountain National Park was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Back down the mountain, sit back for a guided drive of the historic city, where beautiful old buildings tell the story of its colonial past. We’ll see the battlements of the Castle of Good Hope, Italian-inspired City Hall, and the old Slave Lodge with its paradoxical carved pediment, next to the Houses of Parliament. You'll also have the chance to shop at renowned Cape Town jeweler, AfroGem.
The afternoon and evening are at your leisure in this glorious city with so much else to explore, including Greenmarket Square, Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront, museums, galleries, and gift shops.
Enjoy a full-day tour of the scenic — and delicious! — Cape Winelands
Today, you’ll see why the bucolic scenery of the Cape Winelands and its fertile valleys lured the original settlers to farm here. Stellenbosch is South Africa’s second oldest town and liberally scattered with Cape Dutch wine estates, distinctive for their ornate white gables. We’ll take a historical tour of this Afrikaans university town.
Winemaking was woefully bad in the 17th century, so French Huguenots with winemaking experience were invited to the Cape and settled in Franschhoek (French Corner). It is an exquisitely beautiful valley, fringed by mountains and lined with French-named wine estates. It’s here, in the heart of the Cape Winelands, that we’ll do two wine tastings and have lunch at a winery high on the slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains. Don’t forget your camera — the scenery here is breathtaking!
After lunch, we’ll stop at the Huguenot Monument, dating back to the first settlers, for a photo stop. The Monument is at the far end of Franschhoek’s single main street and we’ll saunter slowly down the sidewalk lined with bustling cafes, restaurants, attractive boutiques, shops, and art galleries. This is, without doubt, the Cape Winelands’ most charming village.
Back in Cape Town, the evening and dinner are at your leisure.
Spectacular scenic drive to Cape Point and a visit to Boulders Beach penguins
Cape Town’s extravagant scenery will take your breath away, with mountains dipping their toes into the ocean. We’ll leave the city through the millionaire’s seaside suburbs of Clifton and Camps Bay and head south to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.
On the way there, we’ll drive along one of the most spectacular cliff roads in the world: Chapman’s Peak Drive. As we head around the curve of the bay, we’ll stop at viewpoints to marvel at nature’s grandeur and wonder how men ever managed to build such a road.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery until we reach the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, at which point you should look out for ostriches, bontebok antelopes, huge eland antelopes, and tortoises among the endemic fynbos plants. At the furthest end of Africa, we reach Cape Point, where the Flying Dutchman funicular railway takes us up to the old Cape Point lighthouse.
Lunch is on your own before we drive out of the park to the charming old naval village of Simon’s Town and its famous penguins. The rare land-based African penguin colony at Boulders Beach is easily accessed on a boardwalk, and these delightful little critters are a joy to watch. They may waddle clumsily on land, but they dart like torpedoes through the water, often past unsuspecting bathers swimming in nearby coves. The evening is at leisure back in Cape Town.
Ocean cruise on a luxury motor yacht and Farewell Dinner
Live the life of the rich and famous this morning on a 3-hour luxury motor yacht cruise aboard the 76-foot Sherilyn. We’ll circumnavigate Robben island (or get as close as possible, depending upon weather) to witness the same view of Table Mountain that Nelson Mandela would have seen from this inescapable prison island, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, you’ll hear a first-hand account of what life was like on Robben Island from one of Nelson Mandela's former prison wardens, during your dinner this evening.
The tranquil inlets of Clifton are where pleasure yachts go to see and be seen, and we’ll pull into a sheltered cove and toast the morning with sparkling wine and canapes.
During this ocean adventure, we’ll also be on the lookout for dolphins and penguins, Cape fur seals, and perhaps even enormous southern right whales, which migrate here to mate and calve. If you spot a large fin piercing the surface, it may not be a Great White Shark, but the very strange Mola mola, or ocean sunfish, which has a rudder instead of a tail and drifts with the currents.
This wonderful ocean cruise ends at the V&A Waterfront, where you’ll have the afternoon free to shop and explore. Tonight, we gather in camaraderie after the trip of a lifetime for a special Farewell Dinner.
Depart Cape Town for Johannesburg to start your Ultimate Africa Adventure
Transfer to Cape Town International Airport for a short flight to Johannesburg, where you’ll meet up with the base group and start your Ultimate Africa Adventure.