Diane’s South Africa Trip
Diane’s South Africa Trip
By Diane Hamilton, Honeymoon and Weddings Specialist at Chaka Travel
My trip started at Johannesburg airport for a short interlude before catching my internal flight to Port Elizabeth (the windy city). On arrival at Port Elizabeth, I was met by a driver from Amakhala Game reserve who drove us the 45 minute transfer from the airport.
We arrived around 7pm at Hlosi lodge and were greeted with hot chocolate and Amarillo. A traditional lodge, we had a delicious meal where each course was introduced and explained.
Hlosi Game Lodge
A 5.30am start for a light breakfast before going on our first game drive! It was a little misty and cool but we were provided with waterproof ponchos and blankets. We were out for around 3 hours with our hugely knowledgeable game driver who explained everything from the animals behaviour to the plant life. I loved that the game drivers radioed to each other with information on a good sighting.
Cheetah with his kill
On this morning we saw everything from elephants, zebras, rhino, giraffes, caracals, impala, waterbuck, eland and my highlight, a cheetah with his kill. Arriving back we had time to freshen up before a delicious cooked breakfast!
We toured some of the other lodges which highlighted there was everything from 3* to 5*, tented to built, modern to traditional. There really is something for everyone!
Our second game drive was around 3pm and was fantastic, the weather was perfect. We saw some of our old familiar friends from the morning drive. My new favourite question was what I wanted for my sundowner; the drink I was going to have at sunset. There is nothing like a G&T at sunset with a group of 12 giraffes grazing on the trees right in front of you, breathtaking! Our night was spent at Safari lodge which was a partially tented 4* lodge.
The following morning I flew to Cape town and picked up the car hire to drive the 45 minute journey to Franshoek. Driving was so easy, same side of the road as the UK and fantastic roads.
Stunning weddings at Rickety Bridge
We arrived at Rickety Bridge which is an amazing 17th farm house set in its own vineyard. I adored this part of the stay. It truly was like paradise, standing at the door of Rickety bridge looking at the vines and mountains. The staff here are absolutely superb, so knowledgeable about the house history, the wines and the local area. The decor was so traditional, it was like stepping back in time. There are 3 rooms at the guest house and then they also have Basse Provence set in the grounds. It is the most stunning venue for weddings also. The local town was stunning with little boutique shops, antique stores, wine suppliers and lovely restaurants. After a night at Rickety bridge, I truly did not want to leave! The following lunchtime we did a hop on hop off tram from the town back to Rickety which lets you take in the breathtaking scenery but also pop into other vineyards along the route to sample their wines.
Diane outside Rickety Bridge
Our next stop was around a 30 minute roadtrip to Stellenbosch, another lovely town in the Winelands. It was a contrast from Franshoek as it resembled more a leafy suburb. It is a renowned university town. Again it was a lovely little town with quirky shops, different cuisine and bars. We stayed at a lovely little guest house called River Manor.
Diane was told she could choose one bottle, she chose wisely!
Our next stay was Cape Town, in another guest house called Cape Riviera. The place was steeped in character. It originally was built in 1920’s and had loads of art deco style features. The staff here were warm and welcoming.
What struck me about South Africa is that guest houses are not at all like what I expected. They are essentially boutique style hotels, a few rooms but the service and standards are excellent, as is the value for money.
During my stay in Cape Town, i visited the Victoria and Albert waterfront and hotels in the vicinity of this such as Cape Grace, Table Bay Hotel and Radisson Blu, all which were stunning if you want the more traditional hotel feel. The waterfront was lovely with a shopping mall, bars, restaurants and a ferris wheel which looked lovely lit up at night.
I adored how Cape Town was a bustling city, vibrant but also having the breathtaking views of Table Mountain, visible from most parts of the city. There are options for the cable cars, hop on hop off buses, Robben island to feel some of the local culture also.
The next morning I of course discovered an outlet mall which was a great shopping experience, having some of the top well known brands at reduced prices. After some retail therapy it was off to Clarendon Bantry Bay, a luxurious guest house with ocean views. This was a stunning setting and really made us feel like we were staying in a celebrity’s home!
Our last evening in Cape Town was spent in Gold Restaurant. We were met with champagne with gold leaf flakes in. We then moved on for a lesson in African drum beating which was a lot of fun! After this there was a soothing hand bathing ritual to cool our hands after 30 minutes of drumming and then on to African cuisine.
There were 14 different tasting plates, all from different parts of Africa while we were entertained by traditional African song and dance. It was such a fun night where everyone got into the fun, getting up to join in the dance and have traditional face paints done.
The next morning was time for my flight home. I was truly sad to leave this spectacular country and my only criticism is my time there was too short. I will have to rectify that and get my next trip booked to my new second home!