With wildlife, wineries, and historic cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, it’s easy to see why South Africa is a popular vacation destination. Planning South Africa vacation can be daunting on your own, however, and that’s why South Africa tours are a great option for seeing this incredible country. No matter what you want out of a South Africa trip, there’s a group tour that makes it easy to see and do everything on your list.
2024’s Best Small Group Guided Tours in South Africa
While many of 2024’s best South Africa tours include safaris, there are some that also include train journeys, safari boat tours, and even side trips to nearby Victoria Falls in Zambia. Whether you want to travel with a large group or on a private tour, many of the most well-known tour companies have guided tours of South Africa that dive deep into natural wonders and bustling city life. Here are my picks for this year’s top guided South Africa tours.
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1. Cape and Dunes Northbound: Wildlife and Starry Night Skies Tour
For a rugged outdoor experience in South Africa, consider the 13-day Cape and Dunes Northbound: Wildlife and Starry Night Skies tour from G Adventures. Over the course of almost two weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to camp outside under the stars while taking part in fun activities like hiking, rafting, and kayaking.
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The tour starts in South Africa and travels North to Namibia. While in South Africa, you’ll learn about the history and culture of the Sans people, check out the nightlife in Cape Town, and enjoy some downtime in Orange River. After crossing over the border to Namibia, the tour heads to the Namib Desert, where the red sand dunes are the backdrop of your campsite for the evenings ahead. Near the end of the trip is the highlight moment: a full-day wildlife safari in Etosha National Park.
- Length: 13 days
- Starting price: $1,499
- Average group size: 22 people
- More tours: 10 Best G Adventures Tours to Take in 2024
2. South Africa: An Elegant Adventure
For a true luxury tour experience with a price to match, consider the South Africa: An Elegant Adventure tour from Tauck. This South Africa tour package runs as both a classic tour with up to 44 people and as a small group tour with up to 24 people. On both, the itinerary is essentially the same. The trip starts in Cape Town, with a sightseeing tour of the city and nearby wineries.
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Highlights include a two-night stay at Kruger National Park for a safari stay with plenty of game drives. You’ll also experience game drives at the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Towards the end of the trip in Johannesburg, you’ll be able to see the home of Nelson Mandela. The trip ends with a flight to Victoria Falls, where you can see the Zambezi River flowing over the gorge and have an elephant encounter in Zambezi National Park.
- Length: 12 days
- Starting price: $10,990
- Average group size: 24 people (small group) or 44 people (standard group)
3. Southern Africa Family Journey: In Search of the Big Five Tour
National Geographic Expeditions
While some South Africa trips are geared towards adults, NatGeo’s Southern Africa Family Journey: In Search of the Big Five is specifically designed for those traveling with kids seven to 17 years old. The tour starts in Cape Town, where everyone gets to check out Boulder Beach to see African penguins, and to visit the Cape of Good Hope.
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Animal lovers will enjoy days four through seven, when the group stays at a lodge near the entrance to Kruger National Park and takes game drives to spot the wild animals that call the reserve home. Travelers will also get to explore Chimp Eden, which is operated by the Jane Goodall Institute of South Africa. The tour ends with a few days around Victoria Falls, where you’ll have the chance to stand at one of the cascades overlooks, take a helicopter ride over the falls, or set sail on a sunset cruise of the Zambezi River.
- Length: 11 days
- Starting price: $4,799
- Average group size: 20 people
4. Spectacular South Africa Tour
On the Spectacular South Africa tour from Collette, you’ll experience the grandeur of the country without the hassle of planning. Unlike other many other South Africa trips, this one starts in Johannesburg, where you can learn about the mining industry that made the city famous, and tour historic military forts.
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Collette’s tour then heads to Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in the country, for a few days of open-air safari driving and a traditional braai BBQ lunch. The South Africa tour also includes a visit to Stellenbosch for a wine-tasting dinner, a trip to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, and time watching the penguins at Boulders Beach.
- Length: 14 days
- Starting price: $2,899
- Average group size: up to 44 people
5. Adventures by Disney South Africa Tour
Adventures by Disney
Explore Cape Town, Knysna, and the Kapama Game Reserve with the Adventures by Disney South Africa tour. The trip starts in Cape Town, where travelers take a city walking tour and the aerial cableway to the top of Table Mountain. Other highlights of Cape Town include seeing the Cape of Good Hope plus Boulders Beach for African penguin watching.
The second half of the trip is what many people look forward to most, starting with a walking safari at the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary. And at the Kapama Game Reserve, the group takes morning and evening game drives each day to try to spot the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and African buffalos.
- Length: 10 days
- Starting price: $11,299
- Average group size: 35 to 44 people
6. Southern Africa Safari and Rail Adventure
Abercrombie & Kent
One of the newer tours from Abercrombie & Kent is the Southern Africa Safari & Rail Adventure tour. On this Africa tour, you’ll spend a week in the country of South Africa before moving to Zimbabwe and Botswana over the course of 13 days. While in Cape Town, you’ll visit Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, and learn about national figures like Nelson Mandela. One of the highlights of the trip is traveling from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the Rovos Rail luxury train.
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The second half of the trip takes you to see Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Then everyone sets out to Chobe National Park in Botswana, where you’ll have morning and afternoon game drives. Also in Botswana is a visit the Okavango Delta, which is known for its exclusive camps that have great game viewing.
- Length: 13 days
- Starting price: $15,495
- Average group size: up to 18 people
7. Lions, Hippos & Zebras, Oh My! Africa Safari with Your Grandchild Tour
Grandparents, you can take your grandkids on an epic skip-gen vacation with the Lions, Hippos, and Zebras, Oh My! Africa Safari With Your Grandchild tour from Road Scholar. The two-week adventure has programs for kids ages 10 to 13 or 14 to 17, depending on the departure date. It trip starts in Johannesburg, where you’ll visit the Lesedi Cultural Village to learn how to make traditional African bracelets, then moves to the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre for a day of wildlife spotting.
The animal spotting continues at the Plumari Game Reserve, with open-air game drives and an elephant encounter. The adventure then moves to Botswana’s Chobe National Park for safaris to spot some of the big five. One of the biggest highlights of the trip comes on day 10, where the group will cross the Kazungula Bridge, which goes over the Zambezi River and is the spot where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe all meet.
- Length: 14 days
- Starting price: $7,899 for adults, $7,099 for children
- Average group size: 13 to 24 people
8. South Africa for Families: A Tailor-Made Journey
If you’re looking for a trip that can be completely customized to your family or group preferences, check out the South Africa for Families: A Tailor-Made Journey tour with Smithsonian Journeys. The 10-day trip has a suggested itinerary, but activities can be swapped out or changed in lieu of something else. The tour starts with four days in Cape Town, where you’ll visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain, and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. There’s also an entire free day to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held as a prisoner, or take a bike ride through the nearby vineyards.
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The second half of the trip focuses on animals. In Hermanus, you’ll go to Walker Bay in search of whales, dolphins, sharks, and penguins on a wildlife cruise. Then you’ll go to Port Elizabeth and the Addo Elephant National Park where you’ll head out on a safari in search of the big five, go on birdwatching outings, and do wildlife walks.
- Length: 10 days
- Starting price: $5,495
- Group size: Just your family
9. Splendors of South Africa and Victoria Falls Tour
With the Splendors of South Africa and Victoria Falls small group tour from Globus, you’ll see the natural wonders and lively city life of South Africa. The trip starts in Cape Town with a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain and a tour of the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood. Before leaving Cape Town there’s a full day to explore the South African city on your own.
The trip continues with a few days at the Makalali Private Game Reserve, where you’ll set out on private wildlife viewing game drives in search of some of Africa’s most popular animals. It ends with a visit to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Here, you’ll depart on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River and take a guided walk at the falls.
- Length: 12 days
- Starting price: $5,892 (includes intra-trip airfare)
- Average group size: 20 people