I could write a book about how awesome our trip to South Africa was, but that would take a long time and I am not that kind of writer. So instead I wanted to highlight some of the companies that made our trip extra special.
For this trip we decided we did not want to do the fully random go-with-the-flow type adventure, like we had tried to do in Iceland (and failed quite miserably). And instead put together a series of pre-booked lodging and excursions to fill out our trip. Honestly it was the best decisions we could have made. Our trip was extremely low stress and had just the right amount of variety to keep is excited every step of the way.
Our rough itinerary was as follows:
- Fly to Johannesburg and then drive to our safari camp in Sabi Sands park
- Spend 4 days seeing wildlife on safari in the park then return to Johannesburg
- Fly from Johannesburg to Capetown
- Explore Capetown for four days doing whatever seems fun at the time (more details on what was fun, below)
- Fly back to Jo’burg and then fly all the way home.
Total: home to home – 14 days.
Here are some highlights (as posted on our trip-advisor account):
We booked our night at Outlook Lodge based off reviews. Smart choice! Our airport pick up was waiting for us and very helpful. It was a pretty quick drive to the Lodge, which is located in a quiet residential area. When we arrived at the Lodge, Francois was very welcoming and showed us to our room. There was a wonderful dinner that we shared with the 2 other couples who were staying there that night. Breakfast the next morning was great as well. The room was comfortable, attractive, and the bathroom had both a shower and a tub! There is no wifi in the rooms, only in the main lodge. I was extremely impressed with Francois and his staff. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and a joy to be around. They started our vacation off the best foot possible!
We did a 4 Day Tent Safari that split our time between Sabi Sands Game Reserve and Kruger Park. From the minute Jaques picked us up from our hotel the experience was top notch. We had a fairly long drive from Johannesburg and Jaques gave us interesting information about each area we drove through on the way. Once at the camp, everyone we interacted with was very friendly and helpful. The tents were fantastic. The attached bathroom with shower and the fact that the tent had air conditioning were a huge bonus. The beds are comfortable and have bug nets if you want to use them. The highlight of it all were the actual game drives! We saw so many creatures. Not just animals. Our guides (Jaques and Debbie) took the time to point out traditional safari animals, Dung Beetles, birds, snakes, trees, everything. The two safari locations are very different, but both worth experiencing. Sabi is dirt 2 tracks where you can feel as though you are the only vehicle in the park. Kruger has paved roads and more traffic, but the animals don’t seem to notice. It was in Kruger that we witnessed a Wild Dog hunt that felled 2 Impala. I also have to mention the food. Unbelievable! Dinner every night was a new, tasty, traditional South African delight served around a fire pit. The entire experience was the best that we could have hoped for!
I knew we had picked the right place as soon as Ivor started welcoming us to BIG. He was warm, friendly, and full of energy. We didn’t meet anyone there that didn’t match that sentiment. The day we arrived, Linda sat down with us and helped plan out our stay in Cape Town and from that meeting made all the arrangements for us. We filled all of our days with amazing adventures; hiking Table Mountain, wine tasting, Mzoli’s (awesome, hard to describe), a tour down the cape (cape of good hope, penguins!) mountain biking* and scuba diving* (booked on our own, and discussed more below). It was super easy and we didn’t have a bad experience the entire time. The rooms are comfortable and clean. The kitchen area is spacious and well outfitted. Breakfast in the morning is good and the coffee is strong. The location is great with an easy walk to restaurants, the V&A Waterfront, and grocery stores. You can’t go wrong here.
We had looked for mountain biking options before we got to Cape Town, but had somehow managed to miss these guys. Don’t make the same mistake. By luck, we found them on a morning when Dan was heading out with only one other rider and he was able to fit us in. They were booked the rest of our trip. We rode in the Takei Forest and it was a fabulous experience. The riding was a great mix of climbing, flowy trails, and techy desc
ents. The Giant bikes worked flawlessly and Dan as a guide was beyond awesome. He took pictures during the ride and then emailed them to us which was an added bonus. The lunch stop was very tasty and gave us just enough go to get in one more lap.
I want to go back to South Africa just so I can do some more riding with these guys. This was by far the highlight of the trip for me.
Granwell (or Lord G) was a wonderful guide through the wine country of Stellenbosch and Paarl. He made sure we not only appreciated the wines we were tasting, but also how they are made and the history of the area. The cheese at Fairmont was an additional highlight. It’s a full day of tasting and experience, and it’s very worth it.
This is a great place to get your dives in while in Cape Town. It can be easily accessed by the train (about 1 hour ride) and has a coffee shop inside so on those early morning excursions you don’t have to worry about where to get your caffeine injection. We swam with seals and it was definitely and wonderful experience. The water was murky, but that can’t be helped. I had been warned that the water was cold, but they outfit you very well and I didn’t even notice I was cold until I got out of the water. The staff was very helpful and super friendly.
Not much to say in conclusion. Africa is an amazing place – I can’t wait to go back!