Luxurious safari Lodges
World class wine and food
Brilliant for families (malaria free areas)
Stunning scenery from Mountains to Desert
South Africa Highlights
South Africa has so much to offer it is no wonder it is known as ‘a world in one country’! From game parks to dramatic landscapes, from wild stretches of beach to the vibrant city of Cape Town and from bountiful winelands to barren deserts there is an endless choice of destinations and experiences.
The flights are frequent making South Africa an option for either short breaks (a long weekend in Cape Town) or a longer holiday. Families are exceedingly well looked after and there are some incredible safari options and malaria free regions that cater specifically for children, For first time safari goers it is the ideal destination to dip your toes in the water with a range of lodges and regions to suit the individual. There is something to suit every budget – from the super luxurious and decadent to the more simple and affordable – the choice is vast, which can be bewildering. Bespoke Voyagers personally know the best places to stay and things to do and can guide you in creating your perfect holiday.
Truly one of the world’s most picturesque cities with fabulous hotels; Michelin starred restaurants, internationally renowned wines, sandy beaches and varied attractions all set against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain – who could ask for more! Cape Town is a wonderful city to explore at your own pace – Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, penguins at Boulders Beach, Cape Point where two great Oceans meet, Table Mountain, Robben Island and shopping at the Waterfront to name a few. However we can also help you get beneath the surface of this amazing city by booking unique and eclectic activities from climbing Lion’s Head at sunrise, galloping down Nordhoek Beach or taking paddle boards out at sunset.
We at Bespoke Voyagers keep up to date with the changes as there are always new and exciting hotels and restaurants opening while the old favourites constantly adapt to keep themselves ahead of the game. Whether you prefer to stay on the iconic Waterfront (look no further than the Cape Grace which is also amazing for families) or the stylish boutique hotels in Camps Bay, Constantia and other suburbs, Ellerman House, 21 Nettleton, Tintswalu Atlantic to name a few, there is a wealth of choice.
Winelands and Garden Route
Famed for its winelands, fynbos floral kingdom, white sandy beaches and endemic forests the garden route is rich and varied and one of the best self-drive holidays of a lifetime. Venturing from Cape Town you will find the stunning winelands of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek and the wild coastline of Hermanus from there you follow the N2 through the charming villages of Swellendam and Oudtshoorn until you reach the seaside towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. The roads are good and driving yourself is easy allowing you to dictate your own pace and agenda.
The historic village of Franschhoek is a little corner of paradise with its small boutique hotels, pretty Cape Dutch architecture, brilliant restaurants, wine farms and natural beauty – it is well worth treating yourself to a few days in this stunning valley. Moving onwards you can enjoy superb whale watching (May – November) and shark diving and other marine based activities in the coastal town of Hermanus. Here you will find two very different but fantastic hotels – Grootbos Nature Reserve is both stunning and educational and perfect for families. Whilst Birkenhead with its beautiful views, individual rooms, impeccable service and delicious food is exceptional.
Leaving Hermanus behind you drive the scenically beautiful road through Swellendam and Mossel Bay to the charming seaside towns of Knysna and Plettenburg Bay. Both are perfect bases to explore the area’s sweeping, unspoiled beaches, dramatic peninsula, lagoons, estuaries and towering forests. Again there is a plethora of enchanting places to stay and we can help choose the right one for you.
Greater Kruger Area
The Kruger National Park lies in the north east corner of South Africa and is one of the largest national parks in the world (the size of Wales). Much of the western boundary of the park is unfenced, allowing the wildlife to roam freely in the adjoining private concession areas such as the Sabi Sands and Timbavati – both famed for exceptional game viewing and luxury lodges and where we send the majority of our clients.
In both of these areas the wildlife is abundant and you are nearly always guaranteed seeing the Big Five but you will also be captivated by the birds, smaller animals and flora. What makes these areas exceptional are the standards of the lodges. The cuisine is of the highest quality and the lodges are beautifully created and maintained – stunning architecture and indulgent luxury, it doesn’t always feel like you are in the middle of the wilderness! The benefit of these private reserves is that you avoid the crowds and restrictions of the Kruger Park and can take day and night game drives, and bush walks in a more private setting.
The Sabi Sands is a private game reserve created by local landowners and shares a border with The Kruger National Park. With careful protection and dedicated management it has flourished and is now one of the top safari destinations in Africa and boasts a successful conservation record. There are a variety of wonderful lodges to choose from to suit differing budgets. Amongst our favourites are Londolozi and Nottens both of which have been owned by families for four or five generations and who care deeply about the land and their impact on it.
The Timbavati is another private game reserved created by landowners with conservation in mind. The team at Tanda Tula provide a wonderfully welcoming and relaxed experience in stylish designed tents while for complete luxury Royal Malawane is unparalleled. We recently enjoyed a stay at Makanyi, a relatively new lodge and recommend it for their attention to detail, friendly staff and excellent game viewing.
Finally no description of the Sabi Sands can go without mentioning the sheer luxury and hospitality of the Singita lodges. They have four exceptional Relais & Chateaux lodges set on private concessions within the Kruger and Sabi Sands where they also have a private six-bedroomed house. They strive to offer the best of everything and most people agree they succeed!
KwaZulu Natal (Zululand)
KwaZulu Natal has much to offer and we would highly recommend a two week self-drive holiday. From the emotive battlefield tours of Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana, to the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains or from the sandy beaches of Maputaland to the game rich reserves of Zululand there is a fascinating blend of experiences to be had. Begin with a few days exploring the spectacular Drakensburg Mountains - a World Heritage Site, with Stone Age cave paintings.
Continue to the historic battlefields of the infamous Anglo-Zulu War where the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift are brought to life. Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Cetshwayo and General Louis Botha are just a few of the names that are brought to life in the retelling of the bloody and fierce battles that took place between 1815 and 1914.
Fugitive’s Drift is run by the Rattray family and is full or Zulu War memorabilia and is a delightful lodge with views across Buffalo River Gorge. Andrew Rattray and his team of highly skilled guides recount the stories of these battles and their ability to make history come alive is a gift and pleasure to witness.
Travelling northeast you will find the Phinda Private Reserve which has seven distinct ecosystems creating a brilliant place for varied animal and bird watching. It is also one of Africa’s greatest conservation success stories. Formed in 1991, this locally named reserve means “return to the wild”. It was nearly void of any wildlife but today has a white rhino population of over 100, as well as healthy elephant, cheetah, lion and leopard populations. There are several programs monitoring animal numbers and should you wish to get involved it is possible to participate in elephant collaring, with a veterinarian and helicopter – a truly once in a lifetime experience. Visitor numbers are strictly controlled and only guests staying at the small, intimate lodges are allowed into the park so the experience is guaranteed to be quiet and private.
You can finish your trip with a few days on the Maputaland Coastline where you can enjoy diving, snorkeling and turtle watching on remote and unspoilt beaches.
Non Malarial Game Reserves – The Eastern Cape, The Madikwe and The Waterberg
Non Malarial Game Reserves – The Eastern Cape, The Madikwe and The Waterberg
One of the unique draws of South Africa is that you can go on safari without having to worry about taking malaria prophylactics – which is ideal for young families or for a short safari experience to enhance your holiday.
A safari in the Eastern Cape is a natural end to a garden route itinerary. There are some wonderful game reserves in this area, all within an easy drive or short flight from Port Elizabeth including Addo Elephant Park and the sensational Kwandwe.
Alternatively, to the north of Johannesburg (1 hour flight) is the Madikwe Game Reserve – home to the Big Five and other wildlife. Here you will find lodges and private houses that specialise in welcoming families.
Or you could visit the nearby Waterberg Mountains, who selling point, strangely enough, is the lack of dangerous game. This allows both children and adults to get out of the safari vehicles and enjoy horse riding, bush walks, tracking, biking, sleep outs to name a few.
One of the least visited areas of South Africa but surely one of the most spectacular, is the Kalahari Desert and in particular Tswalu Private Game Reserve. Here you can see both rare endangered species as well as the more general game in an utterly luxurious and private environment where the guest’s individual interests are paramount.
Other areas of interest include the luxury trains (Rovos Rail or Blue Train) and internationally renowned golf courses. South Africa is a destination in its own right but is easily combined with Victoria Falls, or other African countries such as Mozambique or Mauritius.