If it’s a stylish city break, action-packed safari, luxurious accommodation and dramatic scenery you’re after then look no further than South Africa, a Sally and Alice Travel Co. favourite since day one.
A stunning windswept coastline, varied safari options, world-class food and wine and the country’s crown jewel, the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, all amount to South Africa being a one stop holiday destination. The Western Cape is best explored by a classic self-drive holiday taking in Cape Town, the Winelands and surrounding mountains and beaches of the Whale Coast, Overberg, Little Karoo and the Garden Route.
Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest and best known game reserve but we find that neighbouring private reserves within the exclusive Sabi Sands benefit from far less tourist traffic and equally high game densities. If it is peace and quiet you seek then head across country to the wild and dusty plains of the Northern Cape where Africa’s largest and arguably most beautiful private game reserve, Tswalu Kalahari sits on 1000 sq km of unspoilt reserve and never has more than 30 visitors at any one time.
We have travelled the length and breadth of the country trialling the plentiful accommodation on offer in South Africa; a country which has an abundance of owner-run character properties and award-winning luxury hotels.
In Cape Town you cannot beat the sea views and impeccable service at Ellerman House which is perched up high in Bantry Bay. Further along Kloof Road, overlooking Clifton’s ‘designer’ beaches, is the stylish Cape View Clifton, where the young interior designer owner and her dynamic team have created the most beautiful ocean-facing villa – you can rent by the room or exclusively. Downtown in the vibrant City Bowl, boutique bolt-holes Cape Cadogan and Kensington Place provide guests with an intimate, luxury guesthouse set-up, where knowledgeable staff will effortlessly and willingly create the perfect city experience for you. Those who prefer a larger and more traditional hotel will enjoy the elegant Cape Grace which is located at the heart of V&A Waterfront’s buzzy restaurant and café district.
In the Winelands, boutique hotels and guesthouses revolve around gastronomic delights. The Last Word Franschhoek is perfectly situated in the heart of Franschhoek within walking distance to a superb choice of fine-dining restaurants. For more of a rural stay, Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse sustains fine luxury in a fabulous historic homestead on a working farm and nature reserve with a lake, mountains, and vineyards beyond.
Babylonstoren is a wine estate famous for it’s organic gardens, remarkable restaurant ‘Babel’ and unique cottages which blend history with contemporary design and are perfect for couples as well as families.
When it comes to safari lodges in South Africa there is something to suit everyone. For old-school romantics, Garonga Safari Camp is a rustic yet luxurious tented camp complete with a sleep-out platform and a bush bath and spa. For great game viewing from your private terrace head to Chitwa Chitwa, a lodge which overlooks a waterhole in the exclusive Sabi Sands known for its big sightings, and for impeccable service, prestigious guides and award-winning lodges you can’t beat Singita. Our top malaria-free safari options are Tswalu Kalahari in the north of the country, a stunning lodge built from local stone, red clay and typical Kalahari thatch with horse riding on offer, or Kwandwe in the Eastern Cape, a private reserve where 54,000 acres of pristine wilderness are home to the big 5.
With a wild and windswept coastline on both the warm Indian Ocean and icy Atlantic, South Africa boasts numerous beaches for surfers and swimmers alike.
One of our favourite places to relax on the beach is Paternoster Dunes Guesthouse, set in the dunes on the beachfront in the quaint fishing village of Paternoster, just 90 minutes drive from Cape Town. For a stylish couple’s retreat, Tintswalo Atlantic is nestled in woodland on a private nature reserve, with each suite boasting panoramic views of Hout Bay. At Birkenhead House in Hermanus guests can watch whales from the refined luxury of their private ocean-facing suites.