Worldwide Travel Consultant Amber recently traveled to South Africa and discovered all what this vast country has to offer…
For lovers of scenic coastlines, amazing dining options, an abundance of outdoor activities, great shopping and, of course, wildlife, South Africa is the place for you. Families and couples alike will have the most wonderful experience exploring this beautiful part of the world, with the tried and tested combination of city, Winelands and safari proving to be an ideal itinerary.
My journey started in buzzing Cape Town. Easily reached via an overnight direct flight with a maximum of just a two-hour time difference with the UK, South Africa makes for a great long weekend away destination as well as the start of a fantastic multi-center vacation. There is an abundance of luxury accommodation options to suit all, with my personal favorites being Cape View Clifton, Ellerman House, Belmond Mount Nelson and the One&Only Cape Town.
Cape View Clifton feels like your dream home away from home. Perched on a hillside overlooking the four white sand beaches of the affluent suburb of Clifton, bustling Camps Bay, and the striking Twelve Apostles, this boutique property has just seven suites and makes for an ideal base to explore the nearby city, Constantia Winelands and Cape Peninsula. Highlights include the fresh white linen and soft grey interior décor which you instantly want to replicate at home, the incredible view when sat on the loungers on the spacious main deck of the swimming pool, and the moreish yet delightfully healthy breakfast options to help kick-start your day.
For fine art fans, those seeking a proper garden and large pool or if excellent in-house dining options throughout the day is key, Ellerman House ticks all the boxes. Just around the headland from Cape View Clifton overlooking Bantry Bay, this Relais and Chateaux property oozes charm and draws guests back year after year. Not only is the menu created by Head Chef Veronica Hibbert fantastic, the complimentary South African spirits in guests’ rooms are a welcome treat, and walking into the complimentary pantry makes you feel like a child in a sweet shop. They also have two beautiful villas on site each with their own pool and breath-taking views over the bay.
For those who’d prefer to be in the heart of Cape Town, the One&Only and Belmond Mount Nelson are perfect. The One& Only is located in the V&A waterfront – a popular destination for both tourists and locals with an abundance of shopping, dining and entertainment options available. The hotel boasts stunning views of iconic Table Mountain, has a popular Kids Club and is home to renowned restaurants Nobu and Reuben’s (the latter founded by local South African chef Reuben Riffel).
Away from the bustling waterfront to the more residential base of Table Mountain is the historic Belmond Mount Nelson. It’s ideally situated beside Kloof Street, which has fast become Cape Town’s favorite for gourmet grazing and in addition to its infamous Afternoon Tea I would highly recommend experiencing the Chef’s Table at their Planet Restaurant where you dine in the kitchen and enjoy a unique interactive culinary experience featuring the Head Chef’s most creative cuisine.
A real highlight when in Cape Town is a day exploring the Cape Peninsula with adventure enthusiasts Escape+ Explore. Your tour is carried out in style and comfort in one of their new AUVs (Adventure Utility Vehicle) fully equipped with surf boards, stand up paddle boards, pre-packed hiking packs, and a fully stocked gourmet pantry with array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. My wonderful guide Marcus and driver John each had a wealth of knowledge and were extremely friendly. The rest of the day continued to impress with highlights including watching the adorable penguins at Boulders Beach, eating a fantastic picnic lunch at nearby Windmill Beach, a spectular spot completely unknown to tourists, and finally walking from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope along a scenic boardwalk.
For those looking to explore greater Cape Town, heading a mere 45 minutes east gets you into the scenic Winelands. Franshhoek is a fantastic base when here with a number of beautiful properties to choose from, an abundance of award-winning restaurants, stunning mountainous scenery and some of the country’s best and most beautiful vineyards. For those who’d prefer not driving themselves around the Winelands and don’t know where to begin with choosing which vineyards to visit, Explore Sideways are a great tour company who will tailor make an itinerary for you based on your interests and preferences. Key highlights include a cellar tour and wine tasting at the beautiful La Petite Ferme, followed by a delicious lunch with the most exquisite view of the vineyard and Franshhoek valley. This vineyard is also perfect for families with young children as they have an expansive lawn for kids to play on.
Yet, if you prefer a residence to a room, nearby La Cle des Montagnes is for you. Four detached residences on a wine estate and orchard, each with their own swimming pool, fantastic butlers and breath-taking views – what more could you ask for? Ranging in size from two to four bedrooms and each decorated in their own unique style, each has real character and a wow factor that will mean you never want to leave.
There’s no better way to start or finish your South African adventure than with safari and there’s an array of fantastic non-malarial reserves to choose from. Port Elizabeth is at the end the Garden Route, not far from the spectacular Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. Here enjoy rolling hills and expansive scenery. Within five minutes, we found a female cheetah with four cubs and were spoiled with sightings of baby white rhino, infant zebras, giraffes and a huge heard of elephants. This was followed the next morning with an incredible, up-close encounter with two teenage male lions. The accommodation at their child friendly Ecca Lodge is fantastic, with six very spacious standalone suites, each with private plunge pool and uninterrupted views of the bush.
Differently, Marataba Safari Lodge has tented suites that really make you feel immersed in nature as you sleep to the sounds of the surrounding wildlife. The vegetation is denser at this reserve which makes animal encounters a real surprise, as you don’t realise they’re there until you turn a corner or pass them! In addition to game drives and guided walking safaris, with the Matlabas River, you can take a cruise on their Ms Mara boat for a chance of spotting hippo, leopard and an abundance of birdlife – a great choice for those who have experienced safari before and are looking for something a little different. 3.5-hours south-west of Marataba on the border with Botswana is the expansive Madikwe Game Reserve. On our first game drive we witnessed two young male cheetahs hunting a zebra, followed by a pride of lions the following day with three very young and adorable cubs… I could have sat watching them for hours. Madikwe Hills is an exquisite Lodge which they have very cleverly built around a hill and connected each of the buildings with tree top walkways. If you’d like to continue your safari experience beyond the game drives this is the Lodge for you. While we enjoyed lunch, an array of colorful birds gather at the poolside and a tower of giraffes gracefully strode past. Then, from the deck of our luxury suite a herd of elephants appeared to bathe in the watering hole opposite… a memory I will treasure for a long time.
For those seeking sun, sea, great food and wine, stunning scenery, minimal jet-lag, endless activities, wildlife and luxury, this is a winning destination that will appeal to all. There’s also the added of advantage with the British pound being so strong against the South African rand, that we can create an extraordinary itinerary for you at fantastic value.
For more information, visit our website scottdunn.com or call one of our Travel Consultants on 0203 603 3555