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Best South Africa tours and tour companies for 2018

Our picks of the top tours and itineraries for exploring South Africa the way you want to.

South Africa is a country with a thousand sides. With every kilometre you travel, something changes, from its bubbly cities and wind-whipped coasts to its sweeping vineyards and safari opportunities.

With so much to cover, we’ve curated a list of the best tour companies to book with based on various styles. We’ve also included popular itineraries to help you decide what you want to do and where you want to go on your trip.

Our favourite South Africa tour companies

1. Best for long, immersive trips: Evergreen Tours

In South Africa, you can count on adventure and hiking tours with Intrepid that will take you through the heartlands as well as biking trips that will wind their way around mountain passes to reach wine country.

  • Cost: High range
  • Our favourite itinerary: You’ll discover 16 destinations, ranging from Cape Town to Boulders Beach, on the South Africa Explorer itinerary visiting numerous national parks and world heritage listed sites such as Addo Elephant National Park and Cathedral Peak.
  • Why we love Evergreen Tours: Intrepid is an expert at providing you with an immersive experience that includes lodge stays, bike rides and family and train tours.

Browse Evergreen Tours


2. Best for culture lovers: Collette

Collete’s tours are one part sightseeing, one part cultural experiences and one part foodie opportunities.

  • Cost: Mid-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: The South Africa Impact Tour Travel with Heart takes you from Sandton to Cape Town, giving you the opportunity to dine with locals and experience a traditional Boma dinner on the way.
  • Why we love Collette: Tours are relaxing and immersive as well as focused on giving each city and country visited its due time.

Browse Collette Tours


3. Best for active tours: Intrepid

In South Africa, you can count on adventure and hiking tours with Intrepid that will take you through the heartlands as well as biking trips that will wind their way around mountain passes to reach wine country.

  • Cost: Low-mid range
  • Our favourite itinerary: You can punctuate bike rides through cinematic coastal and mountain scenery with sipping sessions in South Africa’s top vineyards on the Cycle Cape Town and Winelands tour. What’s not to like?
  • Why we love Intrepid: Intrepid is an expert at providing you with an immersive experience that includes lodge stays, bike rides and family and train tours.

Browse Intrepid Tours


Top tour companies for South Africa by style:

Popular South Africa tour routes

Johannesburg-Kruger National Park-Durban-Cape Town

Tick off the highlights with tours that cross colourful Cape Town and historical Johannesburg as well as the sweeping plains of Kruger National Park and the stunning Eastern Cape Beaches in Port Elizabeth.

Best of South Africa

Best of South Africa from Trafalgar Tours

Traverse South Africa from west to east, taking time for safaris and jaw-to-floor sights like God’s Window and the Southern Drakensberg Mountains en route.

  • Tour company: Trafalgar
  • Best for: Travellers who don’t want to rush
  • Length of tour: 14 nights

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Cape Town-Victoria Falls

This itinerary is the stuff of bucket lists and can include stops at Table Mountain, the Big Five safaris and the thunderous Victoria Falls of neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Cape, Safari & Falls

Cape, Safari & Falls from Contiki

Contiki’s take on the classic Cape Town Victoria Falls itinerary allows you to add on adrenaline activities like bungee jumping off Victoria Falls. Contiki will also fly you across the nation to make the most of your time away.

  • Tour company: Contiki
  • Best for: 18-35 year olds
  • Length of tour: 11 days

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How long do I need in South Africa?

You’ll want to give South Africa at least 10 days to capture the highlights and to start to do it justice.

If you have less than that to give to the destination, you’re best off sticking to one or two cities to see them and their surrounds with day trips or head straight to safari as every day offers up another opportunity to catch the wildlife in their native habitat.

If you can spare around a fortnight, you can tack on trips to neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

Is true exploration more your style? Tours of up to 52 days can offer you the ultimate tour of the region with time spent outside of South Africa in neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and more.

Top 4-day tour:

Kruger Experience

Kruger Experience from TourRadar

Lodge in the famous Kruger National Park for a memorable 4-day stay that sees you explore different areas of the immense space each day under the lead of an expert guide. This tour starts and ends in Johannesburg.

  • Tour company: Intrepid
  • Best for: Safari, all ages
  • Places visited: Kruger National Park

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Top 10-day tour:

Garden Route

Garden Route from TourRadar

Tucan Travel’s Garden Route tour lets you linger in South Africa and Lesotho for 11 days. It takes you from Cape Town to Pretoria, stopping off at the wilderness, the plains and the forest-frosted mountains of the Amathole range en route.

  • Tour company: Tucan Travel
  • Best for: Independent minded travellers of all ages
  • Places visited: Cape Town, Tsitsikamma, Hogsback, Lesotho, Drakensberg, Pretoria

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Top 14-day tour

Exploring South Africa, Victoria Falls and Botswana

Exploring South Africa, Victoria Falls and Botswana from TourRadar

Fourteen days is more than enough time to pepper your holiday with the best of the area. Collette’s Exploring South Africa tour is a large group tour which caters to all ages and takes you to great heights in Cape Town, stops by sleepy coastal towns, chases the Big Five in Johannesburg and walks you around the gushing Victoria Falls.

  • Tour company: Collette
  • Best for: First timers, travellers of all ages
  • Places visited: Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg, Entabeni Conservancy, Victoria Falls / Zimbabwe, Chobe National Park / Botswana

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Top 30-day+ tour

Ultimate Africa

Ultimate Africa from G Adventures

We’re huge believers in the idea that if you’re travelling far, you may as well make it a long holiday. Whether you’re on sabbatical, in a gap year or have more than enough annual leave to spare, this 52-day tour through Africa won’t disappoint. It carries you from South Africa to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda providing you with exceptional as well as challenging experiences such as hiking, camping and skydiving.

  • Tour company: G Adventures
  • Best for: 18-30 somethings
  • Places visited: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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