Cape Town? Garden Route? Safari? Check. OK, that’s South Africa done. Where next?
Well, how about South Africa again? A cliché maybe, but there's a reason it's known as the Rainbow Nation and a World in One Country: diversity.
Ask most people to define an African holiday and they will immediately think safari, and with good reason. A safari provides the essence of this fascinating country, but it is far from being the only attraction.
We’ve teamed up with our good friends, and multi-award winning specialists at African Pride to offer a few potential alternatives for your next trip.
Just 2½ hours north of Cape Town, Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat (to give it its Sunday name), lies in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains - home, for many hundreds of years, to the San People who used the local rocks as a canvas for their art.
When you’re not reflecting on the meaning behind the drawings, you can venture out into the predator-free wilderness and view the zebras, wildebeests, and antelopes grazing in fields of flowering fynbos. Indulge in the treatments offered in their world-class spa, or for the more actively inclined, there is hiking, canoeing, mountain biking and archery. And a fabulous restaurant and wine cellar with the standards we have come to expect from the Red Carnation group.
Hidden Gems of the Winelands
Staying in the Western Cape, just an hour from Cape Town, you find yourself immersed in the Winelands. A key part of the well-trodden tourist route there are, however, some deeper treasures worth seeking.
Most tourists head for Franschhoek or Stellenbosch, but there are lots of lesser-known towns to visit, too. Places like Paarl, Robertson, Tulbagh, Wellington and Riebeek Kasteel. Food and wine vie for supremacy in this region and part of the fun is seeking out where the ‘in’ restaurant is this week in this gourmet capital of the whole continent never mind the country. Alternatively, leave the towns behind and stay on a working farm/vineyard and live the Winelands, rather than just see it.
Once you have had your fill of the Western Cape then it’s time to explore elsewhere. Perhaps time to take things a little more slowly, a little more luxuriously and a little more romantically.
The sense of occasion is set before you even board the opulently appointed Rovos Rail train with a champagne reception prior to commencing your two-night journey from Cape Town to Pretoria. Travel through the spectacular mountain ranges and scenic Winelands of the Cape to the haunting stark beauty of the Great Karoo. Stops along the way include the historic village of Matjiesfontein and the diamond town of Kimberley, home to the world’s largest man-made excavation, the Big Hole.
Described as South Africa's last great wilderness, Tswalu Kalahari is the country’s largest private game reserve, and, due to the limited number of guests that can stay there, it can feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
Home to meerkats, Kalahari lions (with their huge black manes), pangolins, honey badgers and wild dog as well as some of the more usual wildlife, here is an opportunity to tick off some of Africa’s more elusive creatures from your list. Game drives, bush walks and horseback safaris mean that you can view the animals from different perspectives and experiences.
KwaZulu-Natal, or KZN, seemingly has everything. It has been described as South Africa in a nutshell. The spectacular Drakensberg Mountains are a walkers paradise; the fascinating history of the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer wars comes alive through the stories of the local guides; the beach resorts of Umhlanga and Ballito, close to Durban; arguably the best spa resort in South Africa at Karkloof; and, of course, some of the best game viewing in the country.
The area makes a perfect second visit to South Africa, and creates an ideal self-drive destination.
Fly to Durban.
On arrival pick up your hire car and head north-west into the beautiful ‘Midlands Meander’ spending two nights relaxing and rejuvenating at the 5* Karkloof Safari Spa which has the added benefit of being in a game reserve, home to an abundance of wildlife including rhino, buffalo, leopard and hippos, breath-taking waterfalls and more than 300 different species of birdlife. Oh, and did we mention that all the spa treatments are included in the price?
Continue on to the Drakensberg Mountains and a three-night stay at the lovely Cathedral Peak. Originally called uKhahlamba, or ‘Barrier of Spears’, the mountain range and surrounding area is woven into the very fabric of South African history. The stunning scenery makes this the perfect area for walking, hiking, golf or just taking in the spectacular view.
Head east into the Battlefields area and experience one of the famous battlefield tours during your two-night stay at Fugitive’s Drift. The main battlefield sites are at Blood River, where the battle between the Zulu & Boer took place in 1838; Isandlwana & Rorkes Drift - where the British did battle with the Zulu in 1879 and made famous by the film Zulu; and Talana & Spionkop where British & Boer troops clashed in 1899 and 1900 respectively.
Continue east for the highlight of any African trip, a safari. Enjoy three nights at Thanda Tented Camp. The word ‘Thanda’ means ‘love’ in Zulu and you will fall in love with this stunning reserve. Activities include game drives, bush walks, birding and scuba diving (at nearby Sodwana Bay). There is also a Wellness Centre and swimming pool.
Travel back towards Durban and relax in the coastal resort of Umhlanga at the ultra-luxurious Oyster Box for your final two nights in KwaZulu-Natal.
Drop your hire car back at Durban Airport and head back to the UK on an overnight flight.
Prices from £4,900 per person. Based on two people sharing, travelling in November 2017. Subject to availability, terms & conditions apply.
African Pride, Bushmans Kloof & Rovos Rail all feature in our Showcase Night on 23 March 2017. Be quick to register your interest as demand for places has been high.
For further information on this itinerary or any South African trip, please contact us or pay us a visit.