South Africa and Mozambique Itinerary
We spent 17 days in Southern Africa, visiting two countries: South Africa and Mozambique. Our itinerary combines activities for enjoying the cities, cultures, food, beach, wildlife and great outdoors.
At a glance:
Start: Cape Town
- 3 nights at La Grenadine Petit Hotel in Cape Town
- 4 nights at &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge in the Ngala Private Game reserve
- 1 night at The Peech Hotel in Johannesburg
- 5 nights at &Beyond Vamizi Island in Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago
- 1 night at The Residence Hotel in Johannesburg
- Day room at InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport Hotel
Day 1. Helsinki-Cape Town
Whenever possible, we try to take direct flights to our destination. Unfortunately, however, no airline flies directly from Helsinki to Cape Town, so we made a connecting flight via London Heathrow with Finnair/British Airways. We know the London Heathrow airport very well and usually go to one of the restaurants there to eat a meal, since no one in our family can stand airplane food. This time, we only needed to wait for a couple of hours, so we went to the No.1 Heathrow Diners Club Lounge in Terminal 3. It’s free of charge for Diners Club credit card holders, and we could bring our kids for free too.
Day 2. Cape Town
We landed in Cape Town at 10AM; we had two and a half days to explore the city and nearby areas. Although we got to visit most of the main tourist attractions, it was still definitely not enough time to spend in Cape Town; we wish we could have stayed there for one or two extra days. Thankfully, after 15 hours of flying, we ended up in almost the same time zone and had no jet lag.
We stayed at La Grenadine Petit Hotel, a hidden gem in the heart of Cape Town, close to some of the best restaurants in the city. It is a very peaceful, charming, stylish place to stay at a fantastic price! “The Cottage” and the new “La Parisienne” accommodations are great family options, with two or three bedrooms in each suite respectively.
We arranged airport transfers and private tours by e-mail with Dave, a tour guide from Born in Africa Tours. What a nice person and great guide he is! Although there are just a few reviews about him on TripAdvisor—all of which are excellent, by the way—we are so glad that didn’t stop us from contacting him. We had a really, really wonderful time, and Dave took great care of us.
This was the only day we could spend in the city, since we booked private tours for two other days to see Cape Peninsula and Winelands. We went to see the V&A Waterfront, had lunch at the food market here, and enjoyed the sunset from Table Mountain.
Day 3. Cape Peninsula
We started this day at 9AM with a visit to a colorful Bo Kaap quarter. This is definitely a must-see in Cape Town.
Then we were taken on a full day tour of the Cape Peninsula, visiting Camps Bay, Llandudno, Hout Bay, Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, Cape of Good Hope, and Muizenberg. This is a day to remember—seeing all the main highlights of the peninsula in one day!
Day 4. Winelands
South African wines are world famous. We spent this day touring this beautiful wine region and tasting wine at estates in Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Our kids had their fun, too, when we visited a small chocolate factory, a butterfly garden and a really great crocodile farm.
Day 5. Cape Town – &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge
This morning, we boarded a three-and-a-half hour SA Express flight from Cape Town to Hoedspruit, followed by a one-hour transfer to &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge. We arrived at the lodge just in time for lunch and an evening game drive. Just two weeks before our arrival, Ngala Safari Lodge had reopened after being closed half a year for renovation. We stayed in newly remodeled interconnecting rooms, a perfect option for families!
Day 6-8. Ngala Private Game Reserve.
We spent three full days and two half days in Ngala, did a total of eight game drives, and were lucky to see the African Big 5 on our second day.
Day 9. &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge – Johannesburg
After a morning game drive and lunch, we boarded a Federal Air flight from the Ngala airstrip to Johannesburg. This time, we didn’t need to be transferred back to the Hoedspruit airport, since the Ngala airstrip is just a ten minute drive from the lodge. Very convenient! In Johannesburg, we spent the evening at The Peech Hotel.
Day 10. Johannesburg – Vamizi Island
It took the whole day to travel from Johannesburg to Vamizi Island in Mozambique. We left The Peech Hotel after breakfast and arrived to Vamizi just in time for a sunset. It’s not a very long distance to fly—the total flying time is only 4 hours—but all the waiting at the airport, a small flight delay and border control took a lot of time. Our first flight to Pemba in Mozambique was at 11:30AM with South African Airways. After getting our Mozambique visas upon arrival, we boarded our second flight. It was a one-hour charter flight to Vamizi Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago, which is just off Mozambique’s remote northern coast.
Day 11-14. &Beyond Vamizi Island
On Vamizi Island, we stayed in Casa Marjani villa, the smallest of the six &Beyond villas. Still, it was huge, with five bedrooms, many common areas, and sleeping accommodations for up to six adults and seven children. Each villa comes with a team to take care of you: a chef, a butler, a driver, and a housekeeper. An absolutely fabulous little piece of paradise, perfect for those seeking barefoot luxury and tranquility.
We spent our days relaxing at the beach, exploring the island, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, and visiting local villages.
Day 15. Vamizi Island – Johannesburg
We spent this day traveling back to Johannesburg. It felt a little faster to fly back, probably because Vamizi Island’s time is one hour ahead of the mainland time, allowing us to arrive at Pemba Airport at the same hour that we left Vamizi.
This time, we decided to stay at The Residence Hotel, which, despite a few hiccups, we enjoyed very much.
Day 16. Johannesburg
Our flight home via London Heathrow wasn’t until 9:10PM, so we decided to reserve a day room at the InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport Hotel, which is just across the road from the airport departure hall. There was plenty of time for a city tour there, but we just wanted to relax before the long overnight flight.
Day 17. Johannesburg – Helsinki
Our African journey came to an end, but we will definitely be back.
What we would have liked to change about this trip:
- If the flight schedule had permitted, we would not have spent any nights in Johannesburg.
- Four days on the safari during two weeks of African adventure was too short a period of time; we would have liked to add three more nights in another safari park. Spending time in a nature reserve with a different landscape and a variety of animals (e.g. the Kalahari desert or the Phinda Private Game Reserve) would improve this itinerary.
- One more day in Cape Town would be nice too.