When I visited Cape Town it quickly became one of my favorite cities in the world. The culture, history, food, and landscape are hard to beat. But South Africa has a great deal to offer outside of Cape Town and I was lucky enough experience a full South African escape. Here are two experiences I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to visit South Africa!
South African Escape: Safari!
Where to go
We went on a Safari in the Limpopo province of South Africa, near Hoedspruit, where there is an airport you can fly directly into from Johannesburg. It is very close to Kruger National Park and has a number of private game reserves.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Thornybush Game Reserve, which features 12 different lodges you can chose from. Each one offers a different experience; some are larger with more activities and some are smaller and cozier. We selected the Monwana Lodge, which has just four rooms and the most stunning views of the reserve. The rooms are gorgeous and spacious, complete with private patios.
Experience the safari! Every morning at 5am you will receive a wake-up call, after which you will go out in an open air jeep with your guide to see all of the wondrous animals of South Africa. Zebras (also called pajama donkeys!), giraffes, hippos, elephants, water buffalo, and big cats. You will see animals sleeping, hunting, running, and playing. You will marvel at their beauty and their size, grace, and personality. After the safari, you will go back to the lodge for a hearty breakfast and time for a nap. Then, late afternoon another safari! You guide will stop in the bush for you to stretch your legs and enjoy a cocktail. Then, back to the lodge for more drinks and a delicious dinner, which will feature multiple courses and wine! Some nights they even have a traditional braai party, which is a South African BBQ.
South African Escape: Wine Country!
Where to Stay
We were in Stellenbosch for a wedding, and stayed a few extra days for a South African escape of wine tasting. Stellenbosch is only a 40 minute drive from Cape Town, so it is very easy to get to. The bride and groom recommended Banhoek Lodge to us, which was absolutely perfect. It is seriously one of the most stunning hotels I have ever stayed in. The spacious room opens up onto a vast patio which has simply spectacular views of the South African wine country: vineyards in varying shades of green, mountains, and a blissfully clear blue sky. It is quiet and sensational. Breakfast comes via room service, and your hosts are happy to meet all of your needs, including in-suite spa services.
What to Do
Go wine tasting! The hotel offers a fantastic walking tour map, which we took advantage of.
• Zorgvliet: There is literally nothing better than sampling wine at this picturesque winery, where you are surrounded by views of the lovely vineyard. You can order a picnic basket, filled to the brim with fresh bread, salads, cheese, and sweets, and a bottle of wine to enjoy on the grounds.
• Delaire Graff Estate: The best way to try the wine at Delaire is to enjoy a meal at the Delaire Graff Restaurant, which hosts a patio that overlooks the estate. Enjoy a stunning mozzarella and tomato salad, house made soup, pasta served with a decadent cream sauce, and more while soaking up the lovely Stellenbosch sunshine. I enjoyed a glass of their sunrise brut, followed by a glass of their Cabernet Franc Rosé. Each one was smooth, subtle and sublime.
• Tokara: This lovely winery and olive farm features a gorgeous vineyard and olive groves, tasting room, delicatessen, and restaurant. The indoor areas feature stunning artwork, and the food is as good as the wine. After sampling the wine (and purchasing a few bottles!) we went over to the delicatessen where we enjoy olives, a cheese plate, and a cheese and tomato flatbread.
The Verdict: A South African escape is a dream vacation! The country is wonderful and diverse. From nature to wine, take advantage of all it has to offer!