How to do South Africa

June 15th 2020  |   Countries, South Africa  |  by   Richard Smith
How to do South Africa

Often referred to as the ‘world in one country,’ South Africa’s holiday options range from whale watching to wine-tasting, battlefield tours to bungee-jumping, and safaris to city sightseeing. Little wonder that deciding what to do can be overwhelming. To help narrow the choices, we’ve created a handy guide to highlight five popular itineraries which never fail to delight:

Luxurious surroundings at Chitwa Chitwa Lodge

Perfect for honeymooners looking for relaxation as well as adventure, and for families whose children will enjoy letting off steam after a safari, it’s a tried and tested combination and always a winner. For the safari part, malaria-free Madikwe Reserve has excellent year round wildlife viewing with great lion and cheetah sightings, along with interesting species like caracal and serval. It combines easily with Mauritius, where swimming, snorkelling, diving, tennis, sailing and some lovely spas perfectly complement the safari element of the holiday. Have a look at Madikwe Safari Lodge, Jaci’s Tree Lodge and Madikwe Hills for the wildlife portion. Families will enjoy Dinarobin and Le Paradis in Mauritius while honeymooners might consider adult-only Paradise Cove, or for real luxury will head straight to the Royal Palm.

Bath with a view at Madikwe Hills

Other possibilities include Kruger and Mozambique, Kwandwe and de Hoop, or Phinda and Thonga Beach Lodge.

Bursting with creativity and enterprise, the ‘mother city’ is where top chefs and restauranteurs vie for position amongst the galleries, museums and shops. Our top tip is to splash out on a private tour – your guide will be an expert, handpicked based on your interests, and will take you to places only locals know. It’s a perfect way to gain an in-depth insight into the city. Hotel-wise, we love Welgelegen, Cape Cadogan and The Cape Grace. A two and a half hour flight takes you up to the Kruger National Park where you’ll see lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and more in the company of excellent guides. Choosing a lodge away from the crowds is key here and we love Chitwa Chitwa, Notten’s Bush Camp and Tanda Tula.

On a wildlife drive from Notten’s Bush Camp

Other possibilities include Cape Town and Kwandwe and Cape Town and the Okavango Delta.

These are the places you won’t read about on the mass market websites that will allow you to enjoy your safari in peace and quiet. It’s all about having the space to explore exceptionally beautiful landscapes at a slower, more thoughtful pace. Phinda Private Reserve’s varied landscapes – you’ll traverse open grass plains, wetlands, mountains, rivers, forests and pans – are home to a wealth of wildlife. Marataba Mountain Lodge in the northern Limpopo Province is tucked away in a forgotten corner with dizzyingly beautiful views. Tswalu offers a ‘beyond the usual’ safari with bat eared foxes, aardvarks, brown hyena, caracal, serval and pangolin in addition to the ‘usual suspects’. Lastly, in Makuleke Community Concession in the northern corner of Kruger (76% of Kruger’s biodiversity is found here, in a region which makes up only 1% of the park), you’ll find Samuel Japane – one of Africa’s top birding guides – and the stunning Lanner Gorge, the most beautiful sight in the Kruger. Pafuri Camp and The Outpost would be lovely choices here.

Marataba Mountain Lodge walking in landscape to track Big 5 on safari

Walking amid stunning scenery at Marataba Mountain Lodge

Other possibilities include Ant’s Reserve in the Waterberg, Hluhluwe in KwaZulu Natal, Kwandwe in the Eastern Cape, and Samara in the Greater Karoo.

Also known as ‘winelands and whales’, this itinerary acknowledges that many trips to Cape Town include popping over to the winelands with an empty suitcase and a chauffeur for inter-vineyard transfers. From June to November you’ll also find excellent land-based whale watching as the Southern Right whales migrate from Antarctica to give birth to their young. Add time at beautiful De Hoop for a seaside safari and continue to Knysna or Plettenberg Bay for beachside exploration. Have a look at Boschendal in the winelands, Birkenhead House in Hermanus, Morukuru Beach Lodge in de Hoop, and Kurland near Plettenberg Bay.

Exploring the Cape coast from Morukuru Beach Lodge

Other possibilities include Paternoster, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Wilderness.

There’s plenty to attract South Africa’s many return visitors, and for those who have been on a safari, perhaps visited Cape Town, and want to look beyond the surface, we’d suggest adding one of the following to the wish list: Bushmans Kloof in the Cedarberg Mountains of the western cape where ancient bush art dates back 10,000 years; Kwa-Zulu Natal, home to the Anglo-Zulu battlefields and stories of Louis Botha, Winston Churchill and Ghandi; and Samara in the Great Karoo where an extraordinary re-wilding project has achieved spectacular success. Each reveals a different insight into the South African people, their character, culture and heritage, and will give you a better understanding of the ‘rainbow nation’.

Ancient rock art close to Bushmans Kloof

Other possibilities include the Orange River, Namaqualand, Langebaan, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Drakensberg.

What next?

If this has inspired you to dream about future safaris, please do get in touch – we would be delighted to chat, no matter how early in the decision making process you might be. Email is probably the best way to contact us right now and we’ll respond as quickly as we can – usually on the same day.  We very much look forward to talking to you.

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