Chock full of activities, South Africa offers everything. Of course there are safaris – the Big 5 to be sure. It also offers some of the best wines on the planet, long coastal drives with magnificent vistas, flower safaris, whales year round, art, music, the list goes on. What sets South Africa apart from other ‘safari’ attracting countries in Africa is, in fact, the variety of activities offered beyond the safari.
Grootbos – Not as touristy as other areas of South Africa, Grootbos is less than a two hour drive to the south of Cape Town and an hour drive from where the warm Indian Ocean and the cold Atlantic meet – close to the southernmost tip of a continent filled to the brim with natural beauty, the warmest people and the most exceptional experiences. The owner, Michael, has taken great care to ensure that his sustainability practices are passed onto his employees. He has constructed a school to teach locals about sustainability and the hospitality industry. I highly recommend skipping the more visited wineries to embark upon a wine tasting odyssey near this unique destination. You can then take your wine purchases back to the comfort and luxury of your fully staffed villa, sipping langoriously whilst looking out at the vast, wild Indian Ocean just down the hill. Tomorrow is another fun-filled day with beach time and a flower safari! With the richest temperate flora in the world and six completely new species never discovered by science before, your time at Grootbos will mean that you’ll never look at plants and flowers in quite the same way again. The 800 recorded plant species in 2500 hectares of pristine wilderness will bring the fascinating story of fynbos and forest to life as you touch, smell and see the natural miracles that surround you.
Grootbos wine tasting and flower fields
Johannesburg – aka Jo’burg… don’t miss the Apartheid Museum. Not your Sunday in the Park museum, but then, neither is the story of Apartheid. The museum is excellent – even your ticket dictates which entrance you take into the museum – Whites or Non-Whites…. Soweto was the home of both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Jo’burg is working very hard to appeal to travelers as more than a stopover en route to other destinations within South Africa. It has made great strides & there are some fabulous hotels and experiences. It is exciting for me to observe cities which are proactively undergoing the mission of transforming themselves into sought-after destinations.
Tickets for Apartheid Museum
Cape Town – a very popular destination for travelers. It is beautiful, windy, and home to the excellent Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art which sits right next to the famed Silo Hotel. The wind (lovingly referred to as The Cape Doctor) can be so strong here, it can literally turn cars over! You might wish to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years of his life. I recommend taking a helicopter to see the Cape from above. It’s quite spectacular.
SAFARI – The Big 5 – check! I saw 4 of the 5 within 2 hours of arriving at the camp. The 5th revealed itself the following day. Who is the Big 5 and why are they called the Big 5? Well.. rumor has it that it is a term coined by hunters for those animals which were the most dangerous and the most challenging to hunt. The Big 5 are…Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Lion, Water Buffalo (Cape Buffalo). Sun downers with the sound of a roaring lion in the distance in the open plains of South Africa? Yes please!! Drinking gin and tonics to keep the mosquitoes away? Yes, that really is the reason I was drinking them. I am one of those folks whom the mosquitoes love to nibble on, so a gin and tonic is a lot more fun than slathering smelly mosquito repellent all over. The quinine in tonic water is supposed to keep them at bay. Wives tale? I’ll leave it to you to google that one. There really are no words to describe the profundity of the intensely personal, life changing safari experience.
Leopard and Rhinos