Traveller Review: Africa for first timers
My wife and I have just returned from an amazing first taste of South Africa spending time in Cape Town and Johannesburg as well as Plettenberg Bay and Port Elizabeth. Our holiday finished with a luxury Kruger National Park safari.
Africa has been on my travel bucket list for some time and it took the family occasion of my twin brother’s wedding to make it a reality in 2015.
Having only two weeks’ annual leave and spending five days of the holiday with family around the wedding, it’s fair to say I was a little worried about how much we would be able to see.
I really shouldn’t have been, quickly learning the benefits of Adventure World’s ability to tailor-make holidays. Sitting down with a destination expert was time well spent discussing our options and with their advice, we realised we could achieve a lot in two weeks.
Starting in Cape Town, the half-day Table Mountain & City Tour was a fitting way to get our bearings. It was too overcast for the Table Mountain cable car, but Signal Hill provided a great alternative before descending and passing through the colourful houses of Malay Quarter Bo-Kaap, Castle of Good Hope, District Six, Company Gardens and Diamond Works.
After the tour, we enjoyed lunch and checked out the shops at The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront before a leisurely stroll around the moored boats.
Our 15-minute shuttle ride from the waterfront drove us past Camps Bay to our home for the night, Red Carnation Hotels’ 12 Apostles,
in time to enjoy a pink afternoon tea fundraising for the fight against breast cancer. Positioned above the Atlantic Ocean, the boutique hotel is flanked by Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles mountain range.
It’s the sort of place you can’t help but relax. Staff attention to detail is second to none and the food and beverage menu caters to all tastes – sometimes you just feel like a burger! Add in a private cinema, holistic spa and breathtaking views from the Azure Restaurant and The Leopard Bar and you get the gist.
Plettenberg Bay is a popular summer beach getaway for South Africans and it is easy to see why – long stretches of sandy beaches, wildlife cruises and a range of eateries. Not dissimilar to many of our own summer hotspots. From Plett, as the locals call it, we travelled along the coast to see Port Elizabeth, another great waterfront setting with a lovely beachfront boardwalk well used by locals keeping fit before and after work.
Johannesburg warranted a visit for us as I had some friends and colleagues to meet and we were flying that way on the way to Hoedspruit Airport for our safari. The Maslow
proved a perfect base close to Sandton City Mall with an awesome lap pool and gym to counter all that holiday eating including one of their signature steak sandwiches. Our afternoon city tour took us to Soweto and the surrounding area driving past well-known landmarks like Nelson Mandela’s old house, Desmond Tutu’s house, the Hector Pieterson memorial and Walter Sisulu Freedom Square. Included was entrance to the Apartheid Museum, a must visit to discover the history of that era. Pre-dinner drinks at The Maslow’s Lacuna Bar and dinner overlooking the city with our friends ended a great day exploring Jo’burg.
It’s fair to say our final stop, Kruger National Park, was the one we were looking forward to the most and it certainly over delivered. From the moment we left Hoedspruit airport for three nights at &Beyond’s Ngala Tented Camp
on the western boundary of Kruger we were in wildlife paradise seeing buffalo and giraffes on our transfer there.
The next few days had a similar routine – up at 5am for a morning game drive, breakfast, lunch, an afternoon game drive and dinner. Summing it up like that hardly does the extraordinary experience justice – every game drive was different as our guide Andrew and tracker Adam shared their knowledge while we searched for the amazing range of birds and wildlife the Kruger is home to. We were lucky to see all of the big five – buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino – within an hour of starting our third game drive.
Our accommodation was in one of nine luxurious safari tents overlooking the banks of the seasonal Timbavati River. The ‘tent’ was a luxury, walled boutique villa complete with tent canopy on top. Meals were first rate and the camp swimming pool provided another area to relax between meals and game drives.
To conclude our holiday we spent a night at Camp Jabulani on the border of the Kruger. The camp offers luxury accommodation and has Relais & Chateaux accreditation. The herd of African elephants, which were rescued by the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, is what makes the camp famous. Visitors can watch the elephants at play in the waterhole or casually browsing in their wild habitat near the stables plus the camp offers game drives to see other wildlife living in the grounds.
With Adventure World organising all our transfers and domestic flights and tailoring our holiday around the family wedding, we enjoyed a perfect, stress-free introduction to Africa.
Adventure World’s 2016/17 Africa brochure
is now out.