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11 days in the Rainbow Nation

January 22, 2018

 

 

There are few destinations that can boast amazing weather, delicious and varied cuisine, beautiful and varied landscape (mountain and coast minutes apart), rich history and culture, vibrant nightlife, beachside lounging and safari... You have probably guessed it, I am talking about South Africa.

Our trip started with four nights in Cape Town (CT), where we spent lots of time drinking the tastiest wine (which South Africa is known for) and grubbing on KFC at 3am after partying the night away! Let’s just say CT Uber drivers don’t like being kept waiting while you queue up to get food.

 

Now we didn’t just party, we did sneak in some sightseeing. Firstly, Table Mountain, is a must see for CT. The cable ride was a great opportunity to take in the views on the way up, but for the fit, it’s definitely worth hiking down. Even though we had heard about the view from the top of the mountain, nothing and I mean nothing, prepared us for it - we were in awe. You look down to see the beautiful emerald ocean, up to the crispest, bluest sky, and all around is mountainous terrain. It’s to be seen! Even though we were still slightly tipsy from the previous night, and had only had a few hours sleep we were incredibly happy to have witnessed it.

Tip: get your ticket online - the queues were a bit of a nightmare and we were grateful not to have had to wait in it.

We also took a drive to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope, and while we understood the geographical/historical importance, I’m not sure it’s worth the 3+ hour drive to get there. Although it did provide us the most hilarious experience of the trip. Let’s just say 1) when they say don’t have food around the baboons, they weren’t kidding, 2) baboons are not as coy about public intimacy as humans!

For those who love luxurious living, Camps Bay is also definitely worth a visit - it’s reminiscent of Miami. Just picture lounging by an infinity pool, cocktail in hand, watching the sunset at a beach club - for us, this was at Sandy B beach club). Camps Bay also has some uber luxurious ocean view/front short-stay villas. If travelling to Cape Town in a large group, this is probably a great alternative to a hotel. Some of these are serviced and you could even hire a chef for your stay.

Our next destination, was Stellenbosch. This was just a one-night stay, but we did a lot in those 20 hrs. We stayed at the very quaint Banhoek Lodge, the rooms and views from the rooms were so pretty, and reminded me of Little House on the Prairie. This destination and hotel actually deserved two nights as we didn’t get a chance to lounge in our robes, sampling wine, cheese and meat on the terrace while watching the sunset against the vineyards and mountains. I highly recommend the three-hour horse riding and wine tasting tour we did (which the hotel can assist with). The owner and our tour guide made us feel at ease and really knew a lot about the different vineyards. It was a superbly scenic trail. We went through forests, vineyards and mountains and came across more baboons! It was exhilarating, tranquil and intoxicating all at the same time.

Ps: if you are not used to horse riding, expect a sore bum and thighs!

We followed this with dinner at the Indochine restaurant, the second restaurant at the Delaire Graffiti Estate. We were hoping to go to the main Delaire graff restaurant, but they don’t open on Mondays. The food at Indochine is Asian fusion. While we thoroughly enjoyed our meal, the highlight was definitely the location, interior and views from the restaurant - absolutely gorgeous. Definitely one for special occasions.

We spent the following two nights at Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge in Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, three and a half hours from Durban. This was arguably, the highlight of the trip. Everything about this lodge was top notch. We went on two game drives a day, one at a very inhumane time of the day (5am, which meant waking up at 4.30am), and the other at 4pm. We managed to see four of the big fives during our short stay, some several times a day! My travel companion and I both agreed that the food we ate at the lodge was superior to any other meal we ate in the South Africa, whether in a hotel or restaurant.

Tip: if you have never tried ostrich steak, it’s an absolute must and one for the list!

We were fortunate as our lodge seemed to have piloted an entertainment program on our first night . The staff performed traditional Zulu songs and dance. We were all mesmerised by Zulu culture and style of singing, it is very unique and really invokes emotions - my travel companion enjoyed it so much, she cried. The lodge had an infinity pool, a bar (with a very skilled barman), and a spa, which I was told by my travel companion took out all the knots in her shoulders. If you want to get away from it all, then this is definitely the ideal place - no TV anywhere on the lodge, and no WiFi in the suites. However, there are plenty of books, games and roaring fireplace (even in your suite) to keep you occupied.

Tip: make sure you drive to the lodge or book a package that includes transportation. Although you can get a cab or Uber from the airport at a decent price, there will be no Uber available to pick you up from the lodge (as it is so remote). So you will have to rely on the local taxi service and it costs 4x the cost of the Uber (approximately £250!).

Our last two nights were spent in Durban. We stayed at the Hilton Durban which was a nice modern hotel. It is in a good location as it’s not too far from the airport or the attractions we wanted to visit. We tried to relax as much as possible but managed to sneak in an afternoon at the uShaka Marine World. Which I highly recommend. It has a beach; water park; a sea world, with seal and dolphin shows; and a village with lots of shops and restaurants (the village is a great opportunity to buy souvenirs from locals).

As you can see, we had a crammed itinerary, the above summary is just a tip of the iceberg. Many people count South Africa as their favourite holiday destination, and it is easy to see why - It is an eclectic destination and it pretty much depends on what kind of holiday you want - there is something for everyone. And if you are considering a holiday to South Africa, we would love to help you find the best deals and create a personalised itinerary. 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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