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South Africa – April 2017
This year I made by first trip to Africa and what an amazing trip.
Direct flights to Cape Town with BA overnight and with just an hours time difference means you arrive jetlag free.
Cape Town is an amazing city with a great buzz. The waterfront area is packed with great restaurants, bars and craft stalls. We took a helicopter flight which offered wonderful views of Table Mountain, Lion Head, Camps Bay, Robben Island and the Football stadium built for the World Cup in 2010.
It is also from the waterfront that you get the ferry to Robben Island, this must be pre-booked. A trip to Table Mountain is a must and it’s highly recommended that you pre book and go first thing in the morning to give the best chance of a good view. You can get to the base by either taxi, hop on hop off bus, local tours or just the regular local bus. The cable car quickly takes you to the summit in 3 minutes where you will find a shop and café. Take time to wander around the many paths and take in the great views.
Also in Cape Town is District Six Area with a fab museum and passionate guides who tell you all about the history of the area and how 60,000 inhabitants were forcibly removed from their homes.
We also visited one of the neighbourhood markets on the site of an old biscuit factory in Woodstock, this was a real surprise to me, a bit like Camden bursting with life and music, lots of great food stalls and all sorts of craft and clothing. Saturdays and Sundays are the best days to visit.
Last stop in Cape Town was Groot Constantia winery where we did chocolate and wine paring, just a short hop from the city centre and an easy afternoon excursion.
Dinner was in one of the townships – Khayelitsha and the 4Roomed Fine Dining eKasi, I was very wary as we drove into the township, exactly as you imagine, shanty town with corrugated roofs all very dark. However I couldn’t have been more surprised, we arrived at what was basically the chefs front yard where she has a food truck set up. Between her and the 2 very young chefs they provided us with an amazing 6 course meal. Highly recommended but remember your own alcohol as they have no licence.
Tokara Wine Estate just outside of Cape Town is a great spot for lunch. Amazing food with a great view over the vineyard.
Aquila Game Reserve is an easy day trip from Cape Town offering the safari experience with an emphasis on conservation. Friendly atmosphere especially in the evening around the Boma toasting marshmallows.
Driving in South Africa is easy with well maintained roads and a good supply of petrol stations, fuel is good value for money however distances can be long. A 3 hour drive from Aquila took us to Oudshoorn and the Highgate Ostrich Farm, here you can tour the farm and feed the birds. Stay for lunch – the Ostrich pittas are fab. Star gazing here was great and an added unexpected extra.
Next stop on the garden route was Knysna – a very pretty place where you can take an oyster cruise out on the lagoon. Then onto Plettenberg Bay and a stay at The Robberg Beach Lodge, a boutique property overlooking the sea. The Robberg Nature Reserve offers some great walking around the spectacular coast, rolling sand dunes with a chance to spot seals and sharks.
Onto Tsitsikamma National Park – a real place for the adrenalin junkies, two of our group were brave enough to do the Bloukrans River Bridge Bungee which is the world’s highest commercial bungee at 216 metres. Then if that was not enough we went onto the mouth of Storms River for some sea kayaking. All great fun and memorable experiences.
Our stay was at the Tsitskamma Village Inn, completely unique place – just 49 rooms, a pub and a diner full of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. Next door is a Microbrewery where you can try the locally made beers. All in all a good base for this area.
4 hours on and you reach the Eastern Cape, home to many private game reserves offering excellent safari experiences all Malaria free. Our stay was at Pumba – WOW – from start to finish outstanding, accommodation is top class with everything from a wood burner to binoculars all ready for you in your room. Viewing available from every angle and a private deck with pool. Game drives are included first thing in the morning and at dusk lasting around 2 and a half hours, but even when not on a drive you can spot the animals all around, in fact after dark you are not allowed to walk to/from your accommodation without a ranger. My ranger showed me the flatted shrubs where a friendly leopard likes to rest!
There is Bush lodge and Water lodge offering slightly different options but both with the same great service and fab food. All meals, selection of snacks and drinks are also included.
Saw the Big 5 what more could you want?
All in all a fantastic holiday destination, with the so many Rand to the £ also very good value for the UK visitors.