South Africa. A wonder to experience.

Andre Bedford on 06 September 2018

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*Updated July 2020: Grootbos private nature reserve has been named one of national geographic unique lodges of the world. The Serengeti of the sea, where the Atlantic ocean and the Indian ocean converge to give a diverse marine ecosystem for you to explore*

South Africa is one of the most diverse destinations to visit as it has everything to offer, history, amazing scenery, fabulous wildlife, multiple safari options and a coast line to be envied. At the moment it also offers fantastic value for money as the Rand has fallen so we are getting much better value for our travel spend.

Cape Town a city beach destination over looked by Table Mountain which sours into the clouds. It’s a really picturesque backdrop. There is so much to do here. Robbin island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. This is a must do in my option. It is sad but very informative and it really is an eye opener. You must book it in advance as a boat is required to get you to the island. I can book this for you as part of your tailored trip.

Green Market Square offers you traditional arts and crafts all locally made. It’s a market setting in the centre of Cape Town great atmosphere and a great day haggling with the locals. There are some lovely crafts on offer. The Waterfront is like Grafton Street with all the choirs and buskers out entertaining everyone. There are many shops and restaurants to explore, all siting on the water front.

Table Mountain offers amazing views and a chance to experience a single rotating cable car that holds up to 80 people. It’s quite something. The journey up is as breath-taking as the view from the top. Its lovely to wonder around the top and to look down at the city below but check the weather before you go. Any sign of cloud, don’t waste your time as you will see nothing.

Further afield you can take a day trip to the wine lands always handy as you won’t have to drive home after all the lovely wine you have tasted. The wine in South Africa is to die for and a fraction of the price we pay here in Ireland. You can also visit the tiny penguins on bolder beach about an 1hrs drive from Cape Town, Hermanus is also accessible by day trip or car to see the whales and if that’s not enough you can go further to the most southerly point in Africa, the Cape of Good Hope.

The Garden Route is the coast line that runs from George to Port Elizabeth and I would recommend taking in Oudstoorn which is a little inland plus Knysna, Plettenburg bay. Oudtshoorn is approx. 40 mins drive from Knysna along a winding mountain road with lovely view. Oudtshoorn is home to the Cango Caves and the ostrich farms, where they breed and race the ostrich’s just like horses around at track or like camels are raced in the Middle East. If you are brave enough they will let you ride one around a pen. They are incredibly fast and riding an ostrich was never something I thought I’d do but it was a great experience and made for a very humorous afternoon.

Although there is only approx. 30-40 minute drive between each town on the garden route it is necessary, and I recommend staying in each town for 1-2 nights. This allows you to visit all the places of interest around the area as well as the sights in the town you are staying in. There is just so much to do. For example, Knysna sits on the lagoon and offers sightseeing trips out onto the lagoon. The town of Knysna is quaint with shops and restaurants to walk around but you may also like to take the steam train from George to Knysna 20 mins away or go shark diving also 20 mins away in Mossel bay.

Next up is Plettenburg bay. Plett, as it is referred to, sits right on the coast with a pretty beach and seaside town. There’s a lovely restaurant perched on the beach with amazing seafood dishes on offer. We stayed in Hog Hollow, an amazing property with amazing service and views. Keep in mind that swimming in the sea is a little dangerous as they do have great white sharks! It is however lovely for a walk. The Tsitsikamma National Park is nearby and offers mountain biking, horse riding, black water tubing and suspension bridges to explore.

Your next big adventure is to go on safari. It was top of my bucket list and didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend it.

You have two options:

1. Continue down the garden route to the eastern cape and safari here in one of 4 private game reserves. These are approx. 1.5hrs from Port Elizabeth, they are malaria free zones which is a huge advantage. The animals have resided here for approx. 20 year and accommodation standards are high.

2. Fly up to Kruger National Park. This in my option is the real safari experience. The animals have traditionally lived in this area all their lives. The have their migration routes here and traverse back and forth depending on the season in search of food. It’s a vast area but you are just as likely to see the animals here including the big 5. It really is an authentic safari experience and was the absolute highlight of my trip. It is a little harder to get to as you require a flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg and onto Kruger but this is the main reason you get such a great experience. It is most definitely worth the journey. You can also visit the Blyde River canyon while you are visiting Kruger for a few days which is the 3rd largest canyon in the world.

Overall, I could not recommend South Africa highly enough. It is most definitely one of the best trips I have ever taken, and not only did it tick the box on my bucket list it blew it out of the water.

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