Capetown & South Africa

Mandy Walsh on 04 December 2008

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I was so excited when the opportunity arose to travel to South Africa, as I have heard nothing but great comments from clients and colleagues. So on the 4th of December this very excited travel agent headed off via Heathrow to Capetown. The process from Terminal 1 to 5 is an easy transition by the Heathrow Express and it wasn’t long before we were boarding our 11 hour flight. On arrival in Capetown, we were met by glorious sunshine and it was only 6.15am. Firstly was a brief visit to Table Mountain, which stands majestically over Capetown and its surrounds. Our hotel for the night was the Table Bay Hotel which boasts the ultimate location within walking distances of the restaurants, bars and shopping facilities. As this was a working visit, we visited numerous of 3, 4 and 5 Star hotels. After a long day we enjoyed a meal at The Tank. The food and drink in South Africa is superb, excellent value for money and the highest of quality.

After a few more hotel inspections we headed North into the Winelands, through the picturesque valleys of Franschhoek and the wineries. First stop was the 5 Star Country House & Villas. A fantastic romantic property which dates back to the 1890’s. The rates we have for these 5 Star hotels are incredible. Another hotel en route that we inspected was Le Quartier Francais, which lies right in the heart of this enchanting village in the Cape Winelands. Finally our home for the night, the Spier Hotel near Stellenbosch. Spier is more than a hotel, delicious food is served with award winning wines and for a lively evening with outdoor entertainment, Moyo is a 650 seater restaurant that brings the taste and music of Africa to your tree-top table.

The Garden Route was our next trip visiting Mossel Bay, then Outdtshoorn and finally Kynsna via Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay. The Garden Route boasts some of the country’s finest beaches, amazing treks through the Tsitskamma Forest and is home to many Championship Golf Courses. Again we visited many hotels of all standards, details of which I would be happy to share with you.

My highlight was Kariega – a Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. These parks are crammed with flora and fauna, including the ‘Big Five’. Kariega is an astonishing 25000 hectares. We stayed in the Kariega Main Lodge, spacious and comfortable log chalets. I would recommend upgrading to the Ukhozi, a must for honeymooners with each of the luxurious suites having private plunge pools overlooking the valley. Elegant giraffes walked past the verandah as we were inspecting this property. You wont get closer to nature at such luxury than this. We went on an afternoon game drive and came across the lion & the lioness just snoozing. For the animal lover it doesn’t get any better. The game rangers are knowledgeable and we had so much fun in our open vehicle speeding through the reserve. Wrap up warm though as it gets quite cold at night. The night ended with a ‘Boma’ around a huge campfire surrounded by the sounds of the bush. This experience is a must for all ages.

An early game drive at 6am, and we came across a family of white Rhino that strolled right up to the jeeps. It was pretty scary and amazing at the same time. Then it was back on the road to Port Elizabeth, the gateway of the Garden Route. Most people just stay here for a night pre or post Safari but it has a lovely beach and great restaurants and also a small shopping mall, home to some lovely shops selling everything from clothes and jewellery to fab handmade African gifts. After a short flight from PE we headed back to Capetown.

Finally we stayed in the Commodore Hotel and had a fantastic meal in the Four Quays – a reknowned seafood restaurant. I will certainly return so that I can personally enjoy the magnificent scenery, its beautiful beaches and visit Robben Island, take a cable-car ride to the top of Table Mountain and bargain hunt and shop in the elegant malls and markets around the V&A Waterfront. It’s a fantastic location, with excellent value for money. The hotel, food & drinks rates are unbelievable and there are standards to suit all budgets and tastes. I will definitely be back and highly recommend South Africa!

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