The Wonders of South Africa

Melanie Cahill 26 July 2017
I was lucky enough to be taken to South Africa with some of my Travel Counsellor colleagues, whom I now class as friends. Our first night was in the 'Queen Victoria ' which is a delightful hotel and very central to the VA Waterfront. We dined and socialized before heading to our beds (which were heavenly)!

The following morning, we flew the short flight to Port Elizabeth to embark on our experience of the Shamwari Game Reserve. Upon arrival, we checked in to our rooms at Long Lee Manor. They were beautiful with breathtakingly views across the African Planes. When leaving our room for the first time we were met by a wart hog and her piglets! Nature really is on your doorstep! It wasn't long before we headed out on our first game drive. We met with our personal ranger 'Dillon Van Artt' who won all our hearts with his passion, knowledge, bravery and care that he showed us throughout our stay. My excitement could hardly be contained, I had a nervous jittery feeling and wasn't sure I was prepared for the sights we were yet to see. It was like being in the middle of a National Geographic wildlife programme! We saw the big 5 and more, everything from Elephants with their young, to Rhino's grazing the planes, large groups of Zebra and Giraffe passing us by, Hippo's emerging out of the waters at sunset, Lioness's with their cubs devouring a kill, all fighting for the best piece of meat and being very vocal about it too!

We were up close to it all watching nature at its best and even experienced our ranger taking out his rifle and venturing into the bush on foot to see if he could find the remains of the carcass the next day only to be met by one of the lioness's growling at him! He retreated swiftly as you could imagine! We experienced sundown in the hills overlooking miles upon miles of land where all the animals live, graze and survive whilst enjoying our sundown drinks of Gin & Tonics! The experience in Shamwari is one I will never forget, from the conservation, the wildlife, the Born Free Foundation to the Animal Hospital is totally mind blowing.

After our short flight back to Cape town we went sightseeing with our guide and travelled through one of the Townships and although we felt perfectly safe, I would recommend you do not do this on your own without a guide. A real eye opener to how some people live and how others choose to live. We travelled through some beautiful little towns and stopped off for a walk around a fishing harbour. We continued our way to Boulders beach; a beach solely for Penguins! We witnessed Penguin mothers with their young, groups of youngsters playing together whilst the mammies were trying to keep control of the flock.

We travelled to Cape Point, climbed the steps to the lighthouse to feel like you are literally on top of the world holding on to the signpost as not to be blown away! There were many Baboons running wild around there, cheekily trying to steal what they can from any unsuspecting visitor! Note to self – Don’t get too close even for a photo as they are known for their grab and runs!

That evening after an amazing 3 days we checked into the 'Cape Grace hotel' Another beautiful up market hotel, lovely comfortable spacious rooms with great views of Table Mountain. That evening we had a fabulous tour of the Cape Malayan community and had a cookery lesson and helped to make our own meal in somebody’s home. We were greeted by a lovely family and were made to feel most welcome while the food was delicious and was fascinating to interact with the family. We finished the evening with a nightcap in the hotels whiskey bar.

We then travelled to Stellenbosch, visited a winery to mix our own red wines and witnessed the duck parade. These ducks are driven into the vineyards to eat the slug and snails. This stops the vineyard from having to use pesticides and sprays.

Lunch was served in an African home and we were immersed in African culture, singing, dancing, and fabulous food. This is something very different that can be arranged for you whilst on your South African Adventure. After a lovely afternoon touring around this town we travelled to Franschoek, to Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle Hotel and Vineyard. This is exquisite on every level, the wine the views, location and of course the hotel itself offering every comfort and luxury at every level of room available. The food was delicious and the staff throughout the hotel couldn’t do enough for you. We had a complete tour and the hotel in its entirety surpassed our expectations.

There are endless things to see and do in South Africa. This makes it perfect for families, weddings and honeymoons, groups of friends and adventure enthusiasts.

You can combine a Big Five Safari with a city break in Cosmopolitan Cape Town, historic sights, excellent food and wine and that is just the beginning.

There is a range of accommodation to fit everyone's budget and style.

The network of roads is perfect for the independent traveller and for those who prefer to relax and be driven around by their own private guide or a guided tour.

South Africa is a must, I left a piece of my soul on those African planes, call me to find out how you can have a once in a lifetime experience of South Africa.