Visiting South Africa’s highlights from the best safaris to fantastic Cape Town and the must-see Winelands
My epic journey begins at the renowned and award-winning Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
I flew up to Johannesburg and spent a night in the convenient City Lodge, which is clean and good value for money, before heading to the Earth Lodge at the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. We flew into Sukuza in the Kruger Park where my very friendly guide Lincoln met me. The rooms at Earth Lodge are amazing, very spacious and decorated in gorgeous earthy tones. The pool was divine! I met my tracker Mfundo and both him and Lincoln were very engaging, sharing their love and extensive knowledge of the bush. On a game drive with these two, I had my first rhino sighting, it was epic! The food at the lodge was amazing, with separate dining for all guests and different dinner venues each night, which was an incredible experience. The service was great, all the staff were friendly and helpful.
Sabi Sabi reflects 100 years of safari in incredible style
Sabi Sabi’s lodges have a ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’ theme to showcase 100 years of safari history. The Earth Lodge is the ‘tomorrow’ camp and it reflects Africa’s immense artistic talent, showcasing simplicity, avant-garde luxury and award-winning modern design. During our game drives, we took a few detours to have a peak at the other Sabi Sabi properties.
Showcasing ‘today’ is their Little Bush Camp and Bush Lodge and both have a contemporary, warm and vibrant style. The Little Bush Camp is a small and intimate camp, with just six rooms and was definitely one of my favorites! All the rooms have great views over the river with a private jacuzzi. The beautifully decorated main area also has a fantastic communal pool for guests to enjoy. The Bush Lodge is the largest property in their portfolio and is ideal for families and larger groups. They have a kids ‘Elefun Center’, which is sure to keep kids of all ages entertained with all the activities on offer.
Sabi Sabi’s Selati Camp, reflects ‘yesterday’, and is luxuriously furnished in an old world, historical railway theme to commemorate the old railway line built near there to transport gold. This camp’s colonial style makes it a real ‘Out of Africa’ experience. Sabi Sabi is well-known as one of South Africa’s most luxurious lodges with excellent game viewing, and it absolutely lived up to its reputation.
Family-friendly – and I saw a pangolin!
From there I was driven to the Savanna Game Lodge. Dzunani was my driver, he was great, friendly and very knowledgeable. Some of the best experiencing while traveling is the people you meet along the way. The Savanna Lodge has a very homely feel to everything from their rooms to the meals. This is a fenced lodge, so it is ideal for families with kids.
My two highlights here were dinner in their train restaurant, I was very impressed by the service and, a bigger highlight was a pangolin sighting! WOW! A first for me and a first for my tracker Life who spotted it. Again, the guides here, Life and Kevin were personable and friendly. This lodge is also very involved in community development, Sandile, the community liaison, is happy to chat to guests about all the good work they do. Here guests dine separately too. I loved the candle-lit bubble bath in my room, it was a great touch.
Romance in the bush
The next day I moved onto Dulini Leadwood. This small and intimate camp has only four rooms, I’d recommend it to honeymooners or couples. A group booking for exclusive use would also work well here. The rooms are huge with private heated pools, it such a stunning and romantic place. The camp is in a mature riverine forest at the confluence of the Sand and Mabrak rivers, designed to beautifully and seamlessly blend in this exquisite setting.
That night was BBQ night, and it was fantastic to see the chef in action on the fire. Some of the special touches at this fabulous place, were their take-home water bottles and the storage box in the game drive vehicle that was well stocked with Kleenex, binoculars, and bug spray. My highlight here was an incredible lion sighting – our vehicle was a few meters from a calling male lion. Totally amazing!
The Dulini group has two more camps which I popped in to have a look at, Dulini Moya and Dulini River, I would happily – and highly – recommend them both. Both are exquisitely decorated in breathtaking settings along the rivers and under magnificent old trees.
Relax in the lush garden oasis
Next, I headed to Simbavati’s Camp George in the Klaserie Private Game Reserve. This lodge is set in a dry riverbed and has a big, lush indigenous garden dotted with seating areas for guests to lounge around in. It is an oasis of tranquility in this wild area. It has eight-rooms and is ideal for families with kids as it is fenced. Each of its luxury suites has its own private game-viewing deck. All the staff were friendly, and I had a very well-spoken guide, Julius. He did a great job of finding interesting animals (for me) and birds for the avid birder on our game drive.
The camp with the most spectacular views
My last bush stop was at another Simbavati camp, Hilltop. A tented eight-roomed lodge with one of the finest settings in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, an unfenced but private part of the iconic Kruger Park. The tented suites are elevated on a hill with spectacular views over the bush all the way to the distant Drakensberg mountains and down onto the river below. The décor in the rooms in minimalistic but gorgeous and the outdoor shower is very unique. It has a light footprint, designed so that it can be removed without leaving any lasting impact on the land. Hilltop has a romantic, bright and airy atmosphere with the suites connected by wooden walkways to the main lodge. My highlight were the incredible lions and the rhino sightings. The food was also delicious, and guests dine separately. We even had a hyena pay us a visit that night during dinner.
City life in the beautiful and iconic Cape Town
From there I flew down to Cape Town, South Africa’s most iconic and metropolitan city – a must-see and well worth the two-hour flight from Hoedspruit. We were collected and dropped at our small, apartment-style hotel called More Quarters. It’s in the suburb of Gardens which is right under Table Mountain and very central. Our room was nice and tidy. I loved the small kitchenette.
The next day we were picked up early in the morning by the bubbly Shelley from Cape Fusion to go on an Eats Tour. It was so much fun going around the city tasting different types of food and learning about the food too. After that delicious tour we were dropped at Kensington Place, a trendy boutique hotel right at the foot of Table Mountain. I loved the quiet neighborhood in the shadow of the mountain. A charming, beautiful property, run by a very friendly Ngoni.
Next day, Lucia from Jarat Tours picked us up in the morning for a Cape Peninsula Tour with a stop at Boulders Beach to see the penguins. I thoroughly enjoyed it all. The drive along the coast, the scenic views and Lucia was a super star. Very friendly and chatted about all the places we were traveling through. We had very delicious lunch at Harbour House before being dropped off at Cape Grace, a hotel in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Our room had the most amazing views of Table Mountain and the harbour. The hotel décor and furniture showcases the history of the area. I liked the idea of categorising floors for couple and families, i.e., only booking children on the bottom floors.
There is literally so much to see and do in Cape Town! We did a few site inspections of fantastic boutique hotels that I look forward to recommending to our guests. Hotels I loved were: Pineapple House, Camissa House, Gorgeous George, Ellerman House, Clarendon Bantry Bay and The Silo – all absolutely stunning and each with its own unique style and distinctivenes
Touring the incredible Winelands
We went to Franschhoek, a must-see, small town about an hour from Cape Town in the famous Winelands. Our first stop was at Babylonstoren, this is probably my new favorite place. We had a really enjoyable garden tour with the vibrant and cheerful Constance! I loved the history of the place, and tasting and smelling the different plants connected us to nature. They use the produce from the garden in their restaurants and make their own olive oil and essentials oils. The wine museum is a great touch and I found it interesting. We had a fresh and tasty lunch at the Greenhouse with the best iced tea I’ve ever had.
We stayed at the Franschhoek Country House & Villa, very comfy with all the necessary amenities and good value for money. We moved onto La Residence where their large team welcomed us with flowers and a welcome drink, it was so nice. This is a very special property. Our room was gorgeous with its pop of pink unique furniture, and peacocks strutting around the gardens. The food was very tasty.
Other places we visited, and highly recommend, were Leeu Estates with its impressive gardens. Both La Cle properties, the village and the lodge. They felt like you were in someone’s home – a perfect home away from home, with beautiful decor at both properties.
To end off this extraordinary tour we visited the Delaire Graff Estate with spectacular views of the mountains and vineyards. We had a vineyard tour and saw how they treat and recycle grey water for the vineyards and grow their own produce for the restaurant. That was followed by an excellent wine tasting and delicious lunch.
I loved this combination of safari with a visit to Cape Town and the Winelands. Each experience was different and each very special.
I can’t wait to help you curate the perfect combination of city and safari in South Africa!
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