One Stop Wonders – South Africa
With many African countries offering a wonderfully rich variety of experiences, it’s easy to plan an incredible safari holiday in one destination. Maximising your precious holiday time by minimising your travel once you reach Africa makes a lot of sense, especially if you are travelling with children. Many lodges are located in areas with diverse surroundings and have so much to see and do that there’s more than enough to keep you entertained for a week in one spot.
Next in this series of blogs recommending our top “travel and stop” destinations we’re exploring South Africa. Often referred to as a ‘world in one country’ with its spectacular, wildlife-filled national parks and reserves, tropical white-sand beaches and sophisticated cities, making a choice of where to stay can be bewildering, however we can point you in the direction of where best to start.
Set near the coast of KwaZulu Natal, Phinda Private Game Reserve encompasses seven distinct habitats; woodland and forest, grassland, mountain ranges, river courses, coastal wetlands and most unusually – sand forest. Choose from one of six unique lodges throughout the reserve offering luxury accommodation and service of the highest standard. Mountain Lodge sits on a hilltop with magnificent views and is suitable for both couples and families. For those wanting something more adventurous arrange a night in the bush surrounded by the twinkle of lanterns and the campfire as you fall asleep under the stars listening to the sounds of the African night.
A highlight at Phinda is exclusive wildlife viewing, traverse across the diverse landscapes in an open top 4X4 safari vehicle accompanied by professionally trained rangers and Zulu trackers and seek the abundance of wildlife including the lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. The reserve is also particularly well-known for sightings of cheetah and rhino. Join the highly knowledgeable guides on one of their conservation projects which include rhino notching or de-horning, elephant contraception and collaring or track and collect data from pangolin. They also offer nature walks, walking safaris, night drives and dedicated safaris for photographers, birders and other specialist interests.
Guests have the opportunity to visit some of the KwaZulu-Natal rural communities that neighbour the reserve. &Beyond work closely with Africa Foundation who offer insight into their community led projects which focus on education, healthcare and conservation.
Also within easy reach from the reserve is the coastline of the Indian Ocean. Sodwana Bay is renowned for its biodiversity, and you can choose to soak up the sun on the beach, scuba dive, snorkel or even watch turtles at this nesting site for leatherback and loggerheads.
You’ll find Leobo in South Africa’s Waterberg region, north of Johannesburg. Built specifically for the owner’s young family The Lodge and Observatory Private Villa is incredibly well equipped for children without losing any of the style, elegance or luxury that adults enjoy.
Leobo Private Reserve is a fantastic place for those seeking to explore rugged rocks, mountains, bushveld savannah, rivers and gorges or enjoy the abundance of wildlife on offer including buffalo, numerous antelope, zebra, giraffe, hippos, crocodiles and occasional leopard and hyena. They also offer wildlife drives to the neighbouring reserve to see the iconic elephant, rhino and lion.
There are many fantastic ways to get around and view wildlife, whether it’s a game drive, walking safari, horseback riding or quad biking. Alternatively, you could kayak along the river at the bottom of the canyons and gorges, take a cross-country Polaris off road, or make use of the lodge helicopter to access the most remote areas on the reserve. Activities don’t stop there with wild swimming, fishing, high-rope courses, heli-paintballing and skydiving accessible for people of all skill levels.
For those wanting to take a more relaxed approach enjoy a massage, breathe in the fresh air at a yoga class, wander through ancient caves to marvel at rock art sites and stargaze with a local astronomer. There are a great many opportunities for dining, both inside and outside; enjoy a Braai under the stars, take a picnic out on the reserve, or sip your sundowners at Hippo Deck – a hand crafted tree-house above the hippo dam.
Less than a two hour drive from Cape Town, close to the southern tip of Africa, Grootbos stands between mountains, forest and sea. Grootbos offers a choice of two lodges (Garden and Forest) or your own private villa. Enjoy panoramic views of uninterrupted coastline, fynbos clad hills and ancient milkwood forest that covers the 3500 hectares of pristine wilderness surrounding your private suites.
This unique reserve designed with families in mind boasts a collection of experiences for all generations to enjoy. Immerse yourself in the diverse landscapes as specialist guides accompany you on foot, horseback and bike, or soar above it all on a scenic flight. Adults can indulge in a round of golf while children are well entertained with a dedicated playground at the main lodge with paddocks, petting zoo and trampoline. Children can also enjoy guided daily horse rides through the reserve’s 2 500 hectares of indigenous fynbos.
The coast here is home to the Marine Big 5 of whale, shark, seal, penguin and dolphin. Board Grootbos’ purpose-built eco-friendly vessel and learn more about these iconic marine animals on a tour led by marine biologists.
Back on land you can learn about the varied flora and fauna displayed in their Florilegium (a collection of illustrations featuring plants from a specific garden or region) while taking a 4×4 botanical safari on an open top Land Rover and discover how the bees make Grootbos honey. In addition to their own honey, you can taste a variety of their organic, freshly picked vegetables and herbs from their own farm, sensational local produce paired with award winning wines. This is showcased on carefully curated food and wine pairings, picnics on the beach and reserve, candlelit dinners in the wine cellar or beneath the milkwood canopy as you experience dining in the boma.
For those wanting to relax, make use of the treatments in their beauty rooms, privacy of your own suite or even in the forest surrounded by nature.
We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the destinations mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.