March 7

Big City Lights to Safari Sights: City and Safari Tours in Africa

March 7, 2023

Want to go on safari but also love shopping up a storm, dining out, and dancing the night away in glitzy clubs? Our continent offers a delicious and convenient menu of city and safari tours that will suit all palates. Plus, we've sampled them all ourselves, cherry-picking our favourite pairings to share with you...

Cape Town and Kruger National Park

From city to safari in two ticks

From Concrete Jungle to King of the Jungle

Many of our guests are surprised that they can enjoy city and safari in one go while visiting Africa. Whilst most people think of safaris when they think of our home continent and rightly so, its cities should not be overlooked. Here are our favourite combinations of city and safari to whet your travel appetite.

Combo 1: Cape Town and Garden Route, South Africa 

This duo is a delightful mix of scenery, safari and experiences that will leave you wanting more.

South Africa's Mother City 

Cape Town is South Africa's oldest city, affectionately known as The Mother City, and lauded worldwide for its diversity. It also happens to be where our Rhino Africa HQ is! 

Think of Cape Town, and you're likely picturing the iconic flat-topped Table Mountain. But wrapped around this impressive mountain is a lively city with inviting sights, sounds, smells, and smiles that will steal your heart. In fact, it frequently does, with people from across the country and world packing up their lives to move to the city once they've had their first taste.

V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

Shoppers walking through the bustling V&A Waterfront

Why We Love it

  • Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is an entertainment, dining and shopping mecca
  • Award-winning restaurants and wine farms 
  • Vibrant nightlife scene with trendy cocktail bars, nightclubs and late night restaurants  
  • Combination of mountains, vineyards, ocean and city 
  • Historical significance and lots of art galleries like Zeitz MOCAA

Cape Town city lit up at night, Image Credit: Mark Seath

Paired with...

South Africa's Garden of Eden 

The Garden Route's name says it all. It's lush, flourishing, and appetising, with landscapes offering plenty of adventure. You can easily combine Big 5 safaris at the many game reserves with your stay in Cape Town. 

Whether you decide to fly to George Airport and drive from there or take the road trip along this stunning route, you won't regret spending as much time as possible in this neck of the woods. Plus, it's malaria-free, so you can travel with the whole family, no matter how young or old they are.

A meandering road engulfed by lush forest

South Africa's own "Garden of Eden"

Why We Love it

  • A malaria-free safari area, ideal for families with the elderly, pregnant women, or small children
  • Add an ocean safari to your Big 5 safari when the whales are in town (July to November)
  • So much to do, including hiking, biking, canoeing, boating, safari and bungee jumping
  • Golfing opportunities at award-winning courses 
  • Mediterranean-like weather, so pleasant year-round, with the "mildest climate" in South Africa 
City & Safari tours in South Africa: Stay at Kwandwe Game Reserve on the Garden Route

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is a great safari option near the Garden Route

Combo 2: Joburg and Kruger, South Africa 

Combine South Africa's largest city and most prominent safari destination, and you have a delightful concoction.

The City of Gold

The city that never sleeps, the city of gold, Jozi…it goes by many names, but one thing's for sure – there's nothing underwhelming about this city. It's big, it's bold, and it packs a punch 9a. 

Whether you're travelling for work, play, or a little bit of both, Johannesburg is the epicentre of business and entertainment. It's also a retail therapy mecca, with large-scale, high-end shops and all the glamour your heart could desire.

Mandela bridge and city of Johannesburg

Johannesburg is a huge city begging to be explored

Why We Love it

  • A very modern city with plenty of excellent shopping centres, in particular in the affluent neighbourhood of Sandton
  • Rich in history and culture, with the Apartheid Museum, Hector Pieterson Museum, and Nelson Mandela's home on Vilakazi Street in Soweto all being must-see attractions
  • Very accessible, with the country's biggest airport, O.R Tambo International Airport, found here
  • Award-winning restaurants, cocktail bars, and nightclubs
  • Sun City Resort is an entertainment hub for the whole family
Fine dining in Johannesburg

Distinctive fine dining in Johannesburg, Image Credit: Level Four

Paired with...

The Safari Mecca

Blending seamlessly with Joburg for your holiday, the nearby Kruger National Park is the king of all Big 5 game reserves in the country. Its vast bush attracts travellers from around the world to go on game drives and see how many famous wildlife stars they can spot. 

One of these includes the elusive leopard, a big cat that's usually rare to see in the wild, but in the luxury private game reserves like Sabi Sand, you're almost guaranteed to see not just one but a few! The accommodation options here are also top-tier, such as the World's Leading Luxury Lodge, Silvan Safari.

Game drive on city and safari tours in Kruger

Get up-close to Africa's greatest wildlife

Why We Love it

  • The private game reserves offer more exclusive safari experiences and ultra-luxurious accommodation
  • Famous for its leopard sightings and overall high wildlife population density
  • Over 147 mammal, 517 bird and 1,982 plant species 
  • It's the largest and most well-known safari region in South Africa
  • Activities in private reserves include game drives, night safaris, walking safaris an photo safaris
Silvan Safari city and safari tours

Views from Silvan Safari's main deck

Combo 3: Nairobi and Maasai Mara, Kenya  

Mix one of Africa's most prominent nature reserves with Kenya's colourful capital, and you've got a recipe for the perfect East African holiday.

Gateway to Kenya

Kenya's capital and transport hub, Nairobi, is a must-visit if you're looking for city and safari tours in Africa, with the added bonus of a picturesque setting and plenty of culture too.

In fact, it's here that author Karen Blixen wrote her famous memoir "Out of Africa", which was later made into a film. You'll recognise some of the settings from the scenes if you're familiar with the film. Not only is it a great shopping and entertainment city, but the closest national park is a mere 7km away! 

The modern Nairobi city centre

The modern Nairobi city centre

Why We Love it

  • Set against the backdrop of the two biggest mountains in Africa, namely Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya 
  • Close to the country's best game reserves like Maasai Mara, and only 7km from Nairobi National Park
  • Get your dose of culture at Kenya's National Museum, the Karen Blixen Museum, or learn more about conservation at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
  • Bustling restaurant and nightlife scenes to explore 
  • Shopping at the Maasai Market for gifts and souvenirs
Zebras in Nairobi National Park

In Kenya, it's easy to combine city and safari

Paired with...

Setting of The Great Migration 

Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve is the classic East African safari image often depicted on postcards. With vast savannah as far as the eye can see, peppered with flat-topped acacia trees, and sunsets that paint everything in a magical red-orange glow, it's one of our favourite safari destinations.

It's also host to part of the Great Migration, when over two million wildebeest followed by zebra and gazelle journey through Kenya and Tanzania in search of greener pastures.

 City and safari tours in Kenya

Maasai Mara is a wildlife paradise in Kenya, East Africa

Why We Love it

  • The Great Migration passes through here (seasonal)
  • One of our personal favourite activities is a hot air balloon safari followed by a bubbly breakfast 
  • The rich local Maasai culture will fascinate you 
  • Home to the Big 5, cheetah, plenty of birdlife, and more than 100 mammal species 
  • The luxury tented camps you can stay at are positioned to give you the best view of the wildlife 
Hot Air Balloon safari in Kenya

We love going on a hot air balloon safari in Kenya

Combo 4: Pretoria and Madikwe, South Africa

Another urban and wildlife medley, the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve and suburban city of Pretoria, is perfect for more low-key city and safari tours.

Laid-back City Life

Pretoria is Johannesburg's sister city, but they have their own unique charms. Whereas Joburg is all about big city lights and action, Pretoria takes a quieter approach. 

We love the jacaranda-lined streets flourishing with purple blossoms in spring, giving it a softer appearance than the Joburg concrete jungle. 

Jacaranda trees in Pretoria

Purple blossoms lining Pretoria's streets in spring

Why We Love it

  • The Pretoria National Botanical Garden features some of South Africa's best indigenous plant life to admire 
  • The Voortrekker Monument, a 40-metre-tall building, offers splendid views over the city
  • Perfect if you want to do some shopping but on a smaller scale 
  • Many restaurants and food markets to explore 
  • Freedom Park Heritage Site and Museum 
Greenery in Pretoria

Lush greenery in Pretoria

Paired with...

Magical Malaria-Free Madikwe 

Madikwe Game Reserve is a conservation success story. It started as a low-yielding cattle farm, but today it boasts healthy wildlife populations, including the Big 5, giraffe, cheetah, hyena, antelope, the endangered African wild dog, and more. 

Because it's a private reserve, you can venture off-road to get up close to the wildlife and go on night drives and bush walks. We love Madikwe because it's so family-friendly, making it ideal for a holiday with your little ones.

Madikwe offers the premier malaria-free safari experience in Africa

Malaria-free safaris in Africa

Why We Love it

  • A malaria-free region so perfect for families travelling with small children, the elderly or pregnant women
  • Plenty of wildlife species, including the Big 5 and more than 10,000 mammals
  • Over 350 bird species in the reserve 
  • Unique location set on the edges of the Kalahari 
  • Many luxury lodges to choose from, including excellent family-friendly options 
Jamala madikwe sofa safari

Admire the wildlife without even leaving the lodge, Image Credit: Jamala Madikwe

Ready to Start Planning Your City and Safari Tours? 

Let's tailor the perfect city and safari tours for you! We'll plan it according to your likes, dislikes, preferences, and who you're travelling with. 

As the World's Best Safari Company, we make it our business to know the ins and outs of our continent's top destinations, accommodation options, and activities. Contact our Travel Experts today, and let's start planning! 

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About the author 

Tania de Kock

Tania has always been an avid reader, which ultimately led to her life-long dream of becoming a best-selling author. She loves travelling, super spicy food, South African wine, and cats! When she's not reading with a glass of wine, you can find her at the nearest beach or camping, running or hiking in the mountains.

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