We recently hosted a group of our valued US agents on an educational (“fam”) trip around South Africa. It was a pleasure to host them and show off what South Africa has to offer. l especially loved seeing things through their eyes and getting fresh perspectives on our destinations and experiences and being surrounded by American accents again! Wherever we went, they were enthusiastically welcomed and immaculately hosted. What became clear was how much this group loved meeting people, how keen they were to hear the stories about people, places and animals that South Africa is renowned for.

This is how much fun you can have in 10 days in South Africa

 

There are so many ways to experience Cape Town. From a Side Car Motorbike is one of them! We toured the Atlantic Seaboard with Brody the dog (in his cool DOGGLES) enjoying the sea breeze in our hair and the stares from passers by.

 

My amazing team put together the 10‐day trip that included a few days in and around Cape Town itself, a scenic drive along the whale coast, explorations into ancient forests and the riches of the fynbos floral kingdom, journeys over mountain passes and into the heart of the Cape winelands. A direct flight into the Greater Kruger National Park then effortlessly transported us into the African bush in time for high tea and an afternoon game drive. In the Kruger we were all thrilled by the exciting wildlife sightings at two different luxury safari lodges which combined to form the thrilling grande finale of the trip, before spending a final night at a beautiful boutique hotel in Johannesburg where we fine‐dined, toasted travel to South Africa, said farewell and went on to our respective destinations. Some carried on the adventure in Victoria Falls and had more fun in the African sun. Some went home and back to work…

Exploring a world in one country!

The trip in pictures : 

The trip was filled to the brim with amazing experiences. From surfing at Muizenberg to a trip to the top of The Silo followed by a motorcycle side‐car ride along the Atlantic Seaboard and cocktails on Signal Hill.

Our intrepid agents were up at sunrise determined to experience Muizenberg, Cape Town’s best surf spot for for novices and the pros. Johann, our amazing accountant is a ‘Muizies’ local and hosted the best surf session ever.

 

A sunrise hike up Lions Head and a scenic tour to Cape Point were complemented by a wine tasting in a tunnel in Constantia and a “lekker” and local South African “braai” (barbecue to our American friends!) We also walked around Woodstock looking at street art and learned to fold samoosas, getting a taste of Malay culture in the Bo Kaap before enjoying high tea at the Mount Nelson.

 

We were warmly welcomed into Fayruza’s colourful home at the top of the Bo Kaap, a Cape Town neighbourhood rich in Malay heritage. Fayruza, who is an amazing cook, told us stories from her childhood and introduced us to Cape Malay cuisine by mixing spices and showing us how to fold samoosas. So tasty!
Another aspect of Cape Town is the impressive street art in neighbourhoods like Woodstock and Salt River. A local guide walked us through the back streets, giving us insight into the community and interpreting some of the murals

 

We experienced penguins, proteas and rare beetles in the richest floral kingdom in the world at Grootbos Nature Reserve, taking in the ancient Milkwood forests and coastal caves as well as dramatic mountain passes, valleys of fruit orchards and quirky farmstalls, art galleries, chocolate and nut shops. Fine Cape wines were presented to us by an innovative young winemaker with vision and we enjoyed old‐fashioned genuine hospitality at the foot of an imposing mountain range before heading to the bush.

 

After a scenic drive along the whale coast, stopping to see penguins, baboons, dolphins and whales our destination was Grootbos Private Nature Reserve where there are so many activities to do. We explored ancient coastal caves and enjoyed a fynbos flower tour. The Grootbos Villa is incredible – panoramic views of Walker Bay and surrounded by pristine fynbos vegetation, sublime exclusive use luxury
At Grootbos the experience included getting to know indigenous ancient milkwood forests, the value of biodiversity and appreciation of the tiniest plants, insect and mosses. Not pictured here is the fantastic food – all so healthy and sustainable as well as the celebrated wine cellar.
Up over mountain passes and into the winelands where we stayed at beautiful Brookdale Estate. Gracious hosts, Yvonne & Gary, showcased the potential of this flawless new property with a wine tasting and fine dining.

 

A seamless transfer deposited us onto a direct flight to the Kruger where we saw incredible wildlife at Lion Sands Tinga Lodge and Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, from lions in a dry river bed to hippos in pools and fighting male giraffes; from incredible birdlife and animal tracks in the sand to honey badgers and hyenas right next to our vehicle; from sunrise coffee with Amarula and bush breakfasts under giant fig trees to big red sun sundowners with a herd of elephants. The beautiful designer safari lodges blended into the natural environment and we enjoyed a special birthday dinner in a unique wine cellar.

It was a seamless flight directly into the Kruger followed by three nights at a combination of luxury safari lodges that we love and often book for our clients – Lion Sands then Sabi Sabi. Our group was thrilled by the amazing animal sightings and impeccable hospitality and the quality of the guide and tracker teams. We were spoilt with lovely surprises like bush breakfast and sundowner wine tasting and even a popcorn tree in the middle of the bush.

The USPs:

Climate: Sunshine and blue skies all the way.

Covid Safety: In South Africa you are naturally away from the crowds. The South African tourism industry is taking Covid safety seriously. All hotel and lodge staff are vaccinated. Being in nature and on safari puts you far away from other people.

Covid testing for onward travel : On arrival into Johannesburg after the safari leg of the trip we popped across to the Intercontinental Hotel where a NextPath COVID‐19 testing lab has been set up in one of the conference rooms. It was highly organised and super quick and we were out of there and on our way within 20 minutes. The PCR test results for the two agents flying on to Victoria Falls were emailed a few hours later and the others just needed a rapid antigen test to fly back to the US later that evening, the results of which were received an hour later.

The team behind the scenes : All of the multi‐talented Southern Destinations family were incredible hosts for this group. Arranging pop‐up gin bars, hosting dinners, baking traditional deserts, leading surf expeditions and making sure every hour of the trip was perfect. These days, having your tour operator on WhatsApp is vital so that you can add/change and manipulate your arrangements on the go. Our enthusiastic and resourceful team is just that.

The people on the ground:  The excellent guides throughout with their big entertaining personalities and ‘can do’ attitudes stood out, as did the trackers who entertained us, enthralled us and got us up close to the Big Five

A 10‐day trip taking in the best of the Rainbow Nation

The itinerary  :

In Cape Town we chose More Quarters,  Kloof Street Hotel and The Mount Nelson. We did site inspections at the The Silo and popped in at the One & Only. In Hermanus we had tea with the whales at Birkenhead House and then spent two incredible days at Grootbos Nature Reserve. We explored Franschhoek, visited Delaire and Babylonstoren and stayed at the beautiful Brookdale Estate. In the Greater Kruger, Lion Sands Tinga was the perfect safari lodge from which to also experience Lion Sands Narina Lodge, River Lodge and the stunning Ivory Lodge. We also had a look in at one of the famous Lion Sands Tree houses. The new Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge was a wonderfully luxurious treat on our last night on safari. In Johannesburg’s leafy suburbia we loved our overnight at sensationally sustainable The Peech Hotel.

Click to view the Detailed Itinerary –  A Taste of South Africa