Cape to Kalahari Self-drive

This unusual Cape to Kalahari self-drive tour (13 nights) contrasts cosmopolitan Cape Town with the stark beauty of the dry Kalahari. It includes game-viewing to the Kgalagadi National Park and a visit to the spectacular Augrabies Falls.

Cape Town is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Cradled by Table Mountain, it has immense charm and historical interest. Whilst its unique cultural blend is part African, part European and part Asian.

After a few days relaxing in Cape Town, you meander slowly north to the rugged Cederberg Mountains. The Cederberg is known for its beautiful rock formations, San rock art paintings and walking trails. Then you continue to Namaqualand, an area famous for its spring flowers. Head north to the magnificent Augrabies Falls National Park. Here the Orange River thunders through a 19 km gorge and plunges down 200m into a rock enclosed pool below.

An then you finish the Cape to Kalahari self drive tour with a few days of game-viewing in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. No one who has travelled through the Kalahari can forget its raw grandeur. It is one of the last true wilderness areas of Southern Africa. This vast Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a land of red desert dunes, endless horizons and huge skies. And it is home to the desert-adapted Kalahari lion as well as to leopard, cheetah and hyena. Plus immense herds of springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest and eland. Nowhere in South Africa are you more likely to see cheetah than in these dry river beds.

Then the tour ends in Upington where you can fly back to Cape Town or Johannesburg. Depending on your flight, you may need an extra night.

Cape to Kalahari at a glance:

3 nights Vineyard Hotel & Spa, Cape Town, B&B

1 night La Fontaine Guesthouse, Franschhoek in the Winelands, B&B

2 nights Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge, DBB

1 night Papkuilsfontein, Namaqualand, DBB

2 nights Dundi Lodge, near Augrabies Falls National Park, B&B

2 nights Twee Rivieren Restcamp, Kgalakgadi National Park,  RO

1 nights !Xaus Lodge, Kgalakgadi National Park Full Board & Activities

1 night Kalahari Tented or Mata Mata Restcamps, Kgalakgadi National Park RO

Tailormake this tour

Depending on the connecting flight connections, you may wish to spend an extra night in or near Upington at the end. Plus, if you have more time, we recommend perhaps adding an extra night in the Cape Winelands  en route to the Cederberg Mountains.

Upgrade Option

Similarly if budget allows, you can upgrade the accommodation used in this itinerary. Upgrade to more luxurious rooms in Cape Town and the Cederberg . Then change the accommodation at the end to the following.

2 nights Tutwa Desert Lodge, Orange River (close to Augrabies), Full Board & Activities

2 nights Ta Shebube Rooiputs Lodge, Botswana side of the Kgalagadi National Park, Full Board & Game Drives

1 nights Xaus Lodge, Kgalakgadi National Park Full Board & Activities (no change)

1 night Mata Mata or Kalahari Tented Camp, Kgalakgadi National Park RO (no change)

See Day by Day
Day 1

3 nights Cape Town, B&B

On arrival at Cape Town Airport you collect your rental car (2×4 SUV vehicle such as NissanX Trail, Toyota Rav or Hyundai Tucsan ) and drive to the Vineyard Hotel & Spa for 3 nights.

The Vineyard Hotel & Spa is one of the original Cape Town hotels and offers a delightful alternative to staying in the city. This vibrant hotel lies in 6 acres of garden with rolling lawns and established trees in the leafy Newlands area only 15 mins from Cape Town city centre. The terrace and gardens, complete with trails along its river frontage, have glorious views over the forested slopes of Table Mountain.

Accommodation: Vineyard Hotel
Located in: Cape Town - Constantia - South Africa

Day 4

1 night Franschhoek, Cape Winelands, B&B

The Winelands is an exquisite area of rocky mountains overlooking green vineyards. Oak avenues lead to elegant Cape Dutch wine estates and some of the most charming towns and villages in South Africa. The pleasure of this region is the enjoyment of the good life: appreciating the wine and the unique Cape architecture; savouring long, lazy meals at one of the many excellent restaurants; debating the merits of the latest vintages; or browsing in the craft studios and art galleries.

La Fontaine Guesthouse is a Victorian house in Franschhoek. One of the big plus points is its central yet peaceful location. It is an easy walking distance to the local restaurants, shops and art galleries of the village.

This guesthouse has just undergone a major refurbishment. It now has 14 double en-suite rooms, including some ground floor rooms for easy access. The main house is full of charm with wooden floors and antiques. It is set in peaceful gardens with a swimming pool and views.


Accommodation: La Fontaine Boutique Hotel
Located in: Cape Winelands - Franschhoek - South Africa

Day 5

2 nights Cederberg area, Full Board & Activities

Today you head north to the majestic and rugged Cederberg Mountains. famous for their unique rock formations, San rock paintings and spectacular wild flowers in spring.  (2½ to 3 hours drive, 230km)

Cederberg Ridge is a luxurious wilderness lodge offering delicious food, hospitality and adventure. The lodge overlooks the panorama of the Cederberg Mountains with its unique raw, rugged beauty.  It offers the authentic ambience of a modern African farmhouse with much use of wood, natural materials and earthy tones. Yet the striking steel windows bring a contemporary touch. With 9 spacious rooms and suites, restaurant with a view, large swimming pool, and indigenous gardens flowing into the veld, Cederberg Ridge offers tranquillity and style in the midst of wilderness.

Various excursions are on offer: from walking trails to mountain biking, from guided rock art to boating, and from flowers to farm tours. At the lodge, you can relax around the pool, pamper yourself with a spa treatment or enjoy star-gazing at the fire-pit in the evening.

Accommodation: Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge
Located in: Cederberg & West Coast - Clanwilliam - South Africa

Day 7

1 night Nieuwoudtville in Namaqualand, DBB

Drive north and spend one night at Papkuilsfontein Farm in the Nieuwoudtville area.

Papkuilsfontein Farm is a little Northern Cape gem tucked away in the little “dorp” of Nieuwoudtville, known as the bulb capital of South Africa and one of the main areas for wild spring flowers during late July to mid September. But even during other months, there is something quintessentially South Africa about this area. We recommend that you explore their canyon with its 180m waterfall. In summer you can even swim in the surrounding deep rock pools. (2½ hours, 160km)

Day 8

Augrabies National Park, 2 nights, B&B

Travel on to spend two nights near the Augrabies National Park. “Augrabies” comes from a local korana name “Oukurubi” meaning “place of great noise”. The Orange River thunders through a 19 km gorge and plunges down 200m into a rock enclosed pool below.  (5 hours, 470km)

Stay at Dundi Lodge for 2 nights. Dundi Lodge lies close to the Augrabies Falls in the heart of South Africa`s largest export table-grape producing region. There’s a choice of eleven luxuriously furnished suites all with showers, double vanity, private patio and some have Victorian baths and mini bars. These tranquil and spacious bedrooms open on to a central courtyard and pool area.

Day 10

Twee Rivieren, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 2 nights, Room Only

Continue to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with its excellent game viewing. This park is one of a new breed of transfrontier parks which is shared between South Africa and Botswana.

The Kgalagadi is renowned for its gemsbok and black-maned lion. Other antelope likely to be seen include the eland and the shy Steenbok. Predators to be found are the lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena (brown and spotted), black-backed jackal, Cape fox, caracal and the African wild cat among others! But please note that rhino, buffalo and elephant are not present in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as it is too arid for them to survive.

Stay 2 nights at the comfortable Twee Rivieren Restcamp.  (4½ hours, 390km) or you can spend 1 night at Twee Rivieren at the start and then at the end, depending on your prference.

Upgrade Option

Alternatively you can choose to upgrade to Ta Shebube Rooiputs Lodge which is actually in Botswana but only a 20km/easy drive from Twee Rivieren Restcamp.

Accommodation: Twee Rivieren Rest Camp
Located in: Kgalagadi National Park in the Kalahari - Northern Cape - South Africa

Accommodation: Ta Shebube Rooiputs Lodge
Located in: Botswana - Central Kalahari - Kgalagadi National Park in the Kalahari - Northern Cape - South Africa

Day 12

!Xaus Lodge, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 1 night, Full Board & Activities

Continue to Xaus Lodge, a San-community owned cultural lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park . !Xaus means “heart” in the Nama language and was so named by the visiting Bushman in the area.

!Xaus Lodge offers a remote and tranquil wilderness experience as well as the unique opportunity to interact with members of the Bushman community and experience young Bushman demonstrating traditional activities.

It has a central building with 12 individual chalets located around it. Each chalet has its own deck which offers you views of this peaceful and amazing landscape.

Activities include wilderness walks, walks to the re-created Bushman Culture village and open 4×4 game drives.  After your game drive you can experience the amazing Kalahari night sky from the large observation deck – an experience not to be missed.

Accommodation: !Xaus Lodge
Located in: Kgalagadi National Park in the Kalahari - Northern Cape - South Africa

Day 13

Mata Mata Rest camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 1 night

After your morning activity, you are transferred back to your rental car and you continue north to the remote Mata Mata restcamp (Room Only).

Mata Mata restcamp lies close to the border with Namibia and the road leading to it follows the dry Auob river where most of the game can be found. There are a small collection of modest chalets in this fantastic, desert environment. You can expect to see mile upon mile of rolling rust-red sand dunes, solitary trees and scattered grasses and feel as if you are at the end of the world.


If you fancy something a little bit smarter, then you could consider staying at Ta Shebube Polenswa Lodge (which is the sister lodge to Rooiputs). But please note that you will probably need at least 5-6 nights in the Park if you wish to stay at both Ta Shebube camps as well as Xaus Lodge. Rather we would suggest only staying at the Ta Shebube camps on the Botswana side.

Accommodation: Mata Mata Restcamp
Located in: Kgalagadi National Park in the Kalahari - Northern Cape - South Africa

Accommodation: Ta Shebube Polentswa Camp
Located in: Botswana - Central Kalahari - Kgalagadi National Park in the Kalahari - Northern Cape - South Africa

Day 14

Return rental car to Upington

Drive to Upington airport to drop off your rental car in time for your onward flight. Note that this is a long drive of 5 hours (370km) and so you may wish to either break up your stay at Twee Rivieren so as to end there, or add another night en route to Upington.

If that’s not possible, we recommend an early start to game drive down to Twee Rivieren for brunch (taking 2-3 hours) and then continue from there to Upington (3 hours).

View Interactive Itinerary
See Route on Map
Meals and accommodation as shown in text, Europcar Group R car rental (SUV - Nissan X Trail or similar) with unlimited kilometres and supercover insurance. Upgrades to larger vehicles easily arranged.
International & domestic flights, visas, items of a personal nature, meals not specified
Best time to go:
March to October, especially August and September
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