A constantly surprising and truly distinct country that combines the comforts and luxuries of the modern world with astonishing natural beauty, a spellbinding ancient past and a recent history of dignity, reconciliation and hope. Working with our travel partner, Collette, Reader’s Digest is offering a 12-day tour discovering the vibrant cities, thriving national parks and pristine coastline of South Africa

South Africa is a place with so much to offer that you could spend a lifetime exploring its vibrant cities, thriving national parks and miles of pristine coastline, and still barely scratch the surface of what really makes it so special. There are many aspects of the country that set it apart from anywhere else in the African continent – or the world for that matter – and surprises, delights, thrills and adventures lie in wait around every corner for seasoned traveller and wide-eyed first-time visitor alike.

The country’s history may stretch back over millennia, but the origins of its largest city, Johannesburg, are closer at hand. In 1886 an Australian named George Harrison (no relation of the Fab Four’s guitarist) discovered gold on a site close to what is now the present-day urban sprawl, which led to an influx of prospectors keen to strike it rich, and the town blossomed rapidly. Ever since, visitors to Johannesburg have continued to unearth a rich seam of treasures, whether cultural, artistic or culinary.

“the Soweto neighbourhood is world-famous for its crucial role in the struggle against apartheid. It remains vibrant, eclectic and culturally significant to this day”

In Johannesburg’s Sandton district a cosmopolitan atmosphere is complemented by a wealth of restaurants, museums and galleries, while the Soweto neighbourhood is world-famous for its crucial role in the struggle against apartheid. It remains vibrant, eclectic and culturally significant to this day.

Johannesburg is also home to the Apartheid Museum, which offers a moving and thought-provoking overview of one of the most shameful chapters in modern history. Visitors are randomly assigned either a ‘white’ or ‘non-white’ ticket on arrival, determining which entrance they can use and highlighting the arbitrary cruelty of minority rule and enforced segregation. Likewise, visitors are encouraged to pay a visit to Johannesburg’s Liliesleaf Farm, where anti-apartheid activists would meet and organise, and where leading lights of the movement, including Nelson Mandela, were arrested in 1963 before facing trial and decades of imprisonment.

Paying respect to the past and learning its lessons are powerfully ingrained in South African life, but that does not mean it is a society weighed down with the baggage of history. Quite the opposite – it is, more than anything, a youthful, dynamic and vibrant place teeming with colour, positivity and life.


  • Soweto’s Orlando West district is the only neighbourhood in the world to have produced two recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  • The animals of South Africa are also record-breakers – the country has the largest land mammal (elephant), the largest bird (ostrich), the tallest animal (giraffe), the largest reptile (leatherback turtle) and the fastest land mammal (cheetah).
  • There is ample evidence that Homo erectus (prehistoric man) lived in the area between 500 000 and 100 000 years ago.

The wildlife in Kruger National Park alone justifies the voyage to South Africa’s shores. The so-called ‘big five’ species dwelling within the country’s largest game reserve – elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhinoceros – serve as emblems of African wildlife in general, and the attempts to preserve these remarkable animals along with their natural habitat have ensured that a vital part of the world’s heritage survives for the benefit of everybody. Thankfully those hoping to shoot them on a safari these days are armed with cameras rather than rifles.

But the wildlife is merely one aspect of the spectacular visual tapestry that the country has to offer. The stunning red sandstone cliffs of the nearby Blyde River Canyon tower over the landscape, and the perfect vantagepoint from which to appreciate their scale and majesty is from the deck of a riverboat drifting lazily upstream.

The variety of terrain in South Africa is truly overwhelming. The country sprawls over more than a million square kilometres, and within its borders the landscape ranges from arid desert to lush grassland, from sparkling beaches to bustling cities, and from breathtaking mountains to subtropical forests. In the area around Knysna in the Western Cape Province, for example, sleepy seaside towns glisten like jewels against the verdant forest backdrop, while down on the shoreline gleaming white beaches of unspoilt sand arc languidly around tranquil lagoons of azure blue.

“It’s diverse character is reflected in its broad variety of architecture, including French, German and Dutch influences. It may be a city of many faces but it is united in its own distinct spirit of self-reliance and good cheer”

Further along the coast, several hundred miles west of Knysna, is Cape Town, which is renowned for its spectacular panoramic scenery. In the shadow of Table Mountain the city slopes down to the sea, and within its lively streets and teeming public squares it hosts an astonishing jumble of voices, traditions and cultures. It diverse character is reflected in its broad variety of architecture, including French, German and Dutch influences. It may be a city of many faces but it is united in its own distinct spirit of self-reliance and good cheer.

Above the streets of Cape Town, brightly coloured cable cars glint in the sun as they make the journey to the plateau of Table Mountain, beyond which sprawl mile after mile of abundantly fertile vineyards. In this wine country inland from Cape Town, on the banks of the Franschhoek River, any visitor would be foolish not to embrace the many opportunities for wine-tasting, even if just out of a spirit of disinterested scientific exploration. And if after several hours of intense research the taster finds herself in need of a lie down, there is sure to be a shady vine nearby under which to recline, as well as some delicious local fare to sample.


  • Cape Town was founded in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company based in The Netherlands arrived to set up a halfway point for ships travelling to the East.
  • The world’s largest diamond was unearthed in South Africa – the Cullinan Diamond was found in Pretoria in 1905 and, before being cut into smaller stones, weighed more than 620 grammes.
  • Cape Town was the first city outside Europe to get Blue Flag status due to its high water quality, fantastic facilities, safety and cleanliness.

Almost everywhere in the country the mouth-watering smell of the traditional braai –  an open-air grill, similar to a barbecue – fills the air, and no visit to South Africa would be complete without sampling at least some of the many regional delicacies on offer. The braai serves a central role in South African culture, providing a vital opportunity for neighbour to meet neighbour and take part in a social tradition that brings together all races, classes and nationalities. Inland, traditionally prepared and seasoned game meat is the order of the day, while closer to the coast fresh seafood sizzles temptingly on the grill. One of South Africa’s most famous dishes is chakalaka, a spicy concoction of vegetables with as many regional variations as the braai itself – to many in the know, this fiery side-dish is the heart and soul of any authentic South African lunch or dinner party.

“The lessons learnt from the apartheid era transcend national and racial boundaries, and the accomplishments of those who brought about positive change in the country are a testament to the indomitable dignity of the human spirit”

South Africa’s rich history, combined with its abundance of natural wonders and vibrant modern cultural scene, make it a destination that everybody should experience at least once, and its inexhaustible array of wonders provides a lifetime of memories. The country has long been revered for its native diamonds and other precious gemstones, but the real treasures are to be found above the ground in its landscapes, wildlife and people.

The forward-looking, optimistic nature of South Africans is inspirational, and the way in which the country has transitioned from the struggles of a troubled recent past to embrace a bright future built on tolerance, diversity and peaceful cooperation serves as an inspiration. The lessons learnt from the apartheid era transcend national and racial boundaries, and the accomplishments of those who brought about positive change in the country are a testament to the indomitable dignity of the human spirit.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the South African province of Gauteng has been dubbed ‘the Cradle of Humankind’ on account of the startling archaeological discoveries made there, which tell the story of mankind’s earliest origins – thanks to a warm welcome, friendly faces and hearty food, even the newcomer to modern-day South Africa is sure to feel that in many ways they are coming home.

Sandton & Soweto
DAY 1-2

Day 1

The tour begins in the Sandton district of Johannesburg, a lively and cosmopolitan area packed with restaurants, bars and galleries.

Day 2

Today takes in a guided tour of Soweto and a visit to the Apartheid Museum. Join locals for lunch before heading to Liliesleaf Farm, which occupied an important role in the anti-apartheid struggle. At the end of the day relax over a welcome dinner with your fellow travellers.

Kruger National Park
DAY 3-5

Day 3

Experience the stunning views of the Northern Drakensberg Mountain Range as you head to Kruger National Park. Pass through the red sandstone cliffs of the Blyde River Canyon, before taking in the incredible Bourke’s Luck Potholes, which have been formed by millions of years of erosion. End the day under the stars with a traditional Boma dinner, including locally caught game meat.

Day 4

A day of adventure begins as you embark on an open-air-vehicle safari game drive. A local expert will be your guide as you go in search of elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards, rhinos, zebras and giraffes. The day includes a picnic lunch in the park.

Day 5

Travel back to Johannesburg to board your flight to George. Upon arrival, travel to the charming resort town of Knysna for a three-night stay.

DAY 6-8

Day 6

A visit to the Featherbed Nature Reserve begins with a lagoon cruise out to the Knysna Heads, which mark the entrance to the lagoon. Then travel deep into the heart of the forest to discover the local flora and fauna on a nature walk. Enjoy lunch amongst the ancient milkwood trees and then spend the afternoon at Plettenberg Bay, taking in views of beaches, dramatic rock formations and lagoons.

Day 7

Spend the morning on a tour of a township near Knysna, including a visit to a local school. Next travel to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of South Africa. After an outdoor barbecue lunch you will return to Knysna, where you can explore the beautiful waterfront area.

Day 8

Before leaving the Garden Route, enjoy a visit to the Aloe Ferox region and take a stroll in the indigenous gardens. Later this afternoon, arrive in the beautiful harbourside city of Cape Town.

Cape Town
DAY 9-12

Day 9

Enjoy a panoramic tour of this lovely city then board a cable car and climb more than 3,000 feet to the top of Table Mountain. Return to the city via Table Bay, passing through the Malay Quarter and making a special stop at the Milnerton Lighthouse.

Day 10

Journey to the beautiful winelands region and visit a local winery for a wine tasting, followed by lunch overlooking the vineyards. Then choose to either take a tour of the wine cellar or embark on a scenic walk through the winelands along the Franschhoek River.


Day 11

Return to Cape Town, where you can experience the coastal scenery and pretty towns that populate the Cape Peninsula. Travel out to Cape Point, stopping for a visit with the penguins at Boulders Beach. In the evening, bid farewell to Africa with a lesson on the djembe drums and a soothing hand washing ceremony, before a communal African dinner.

Day 12

Your tour of South Africa ends today in Cape Town.


Reader’s Digest only recommends the very best tours, which is why we are working with Collette – boasting a century of travel experience and strong family ownership, Collette focusses on helping you get the very best curated experience when you travel.

If you want to find out more about the SOUTH AFRICA SPECTACLE TOUR then you can request a no-obligation quote below or call 0800 804 8373 to speak to a travel adviser.

If you can’t wait to get your tour booked then click on ‘buy now’ to go straight through to the Collette site and plan the adventure of a lifetime.