Here is the diary of our travel expert’s ten-day trip through South Africa full of emotions!
Cape Town – freedom and vastness.
Cape Town provides me with a very comforting welcome. The private boutique hotel “21 Nettleton” is the ideal place to relax on arrival. The view from the terrace to Table Mountain and over the beaches of Cape Town’s suburb of Clifton is breathtaking. Behind me, the Lion’s Head rises majestically. Around me there is only nature, sea, and mountains. With six individual suites and an art collection that would leave the National Museum pale with envy, the hotel is an oasis of tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of the city. But after a few hours of relaxation, I set out to immerse myself in exactly that.
21 Nettleton: 21nettleton.com
In ten minutes, I reach the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and spend some time in the restored harbor district, the picturesque alleys of which are full of life.
The next morning, I head for Table Mountain rested and reinvigorated. The cable car takes me to the main landmark of Cape Town in seven minutes. On a 1.5-mile trail, I walk through Fynbos to Maclear’s Beacon. The feeling of freedom and vastness gives me an initial idea of what awaits me in the coming days.
At noon comes the next highlight, the trip to the Cape of Good Hope. With its 114 bends, Chapman’s Peak Drive is considered one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world. My driver not only masters the challenges of the road, but also turns out to be a talented tour guide. We visit the famous penguin colony at Boulders Beach, and the Cape of Good Hope. I climb the rocks and pause for a moment. Africa – I’ve really arrived now.
I don’t want to just scratch the surface, so I visit the townships on the third day. I am accompanied by a guide, which allows me to connect and gives me a better understanding of many things. To process the emotional and moving experience, I travel to Noordhoek Beach, a little more than 20 miles away, and go for a ride. Wide dunes and a white, sandy beach: this coastal paradise is one of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa.
Stellenbosch – paradise for wine connoisseurs.
The next morning, I leave Cape Town and travel to Stellenbosch. My home there is the Delaire Graff Estate, a winery with two prize-winning restaurants, luxury boutiques, and a spa area – not only a dream destination for gourmets, but also for art lovers. The personal art collection of hotel owner and jeweler Laurence Graff offers a carefully curated showcase of South Africa’s best contemporary artists.
For me, this is only surpassed by the wonderful nature and the view of the Winelands. Of course, I couldn’t miss out on a visit to the best wine cellars. On my tour through the idyllic Blaauwklippen, Hartenberg, Morgenhof, Overgaauw, and Simonsig wineries, I discover excellent wines, small markets, and lots of cheerful people.
Delaire Graff Estate: delaire.co.za
Sabi Sands Game Reserve – a game drive in bushland.
I fly from Cape Town to Skukuza. From there, I head to Lion Sands Ivory Lodge at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in Kruger National Park. The lodge on the banks of the picturesque Sabi River lives up to its reputation as one of Africa’s most luxurious wildlife lodges.
I move into one of the eight huge villas, the furnishings of which are natural and sophisticated in equal measure and make me feel immediately at home – or would if it weren’t for the cheeky monkeys. Take your eye off them for a moment and they are everywhere. My workout today is limited to monkey hunting – in the house! I am settled and, at the same time, almost hypnotized by the peaceful herd of elephants who march right past my veranda to the waterhole where a group of giraffes had already taken their place some time ago.
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge: lionsands.com
The next morning means an early start: a safari on the Lion Sands Game Reserve, which is the only private reserve partly in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and partly in Kruger National Park, is on the agenda. Thanks to the experienced guides, I experience the African wildlife up close on the game drive through the bushland. I hardly dare to breathe when a leopard passes by and I notice the thundering hooves of the buffalo herd behind us.
Back at the lodge, a breakfast that leaves nothing to be desired awaits me. In the afternoon, I start a second ride. Elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions, leopards – I actually get to see all the “Big Five” in one day and can’t help but continuously marvel and take snaps! To bring the day to a close, the guides take me to a place where I can enjoy the sunset with snacks and a gin and tonic.
I will never forget the dinner at the Lion Sands Restaurant. In the moonlight, I enjoy a bush barbecue and fantastic wine until a young elephant, followed by his admonishingly trumpeting mother, scampers through the middle of the restaurant and, for a moment, stirs up a commotion.
After a short shock, I just feel happy and can’t stop laughing – after all, how many people can say, “An elephant crashed my dinner”? At night, I light the fire on my veranda and keep my eyes open – it’s just too beautiful to sleep.
Kruger National Park – a fantastic world of animals.
I fly in a Cessna with a very personable pilot to the Satara Airstrip and continue to Singita Lebombo Lodge in the southeast of Kruger National Park. It is located high above the N’wanetsi River and offers a unique view over rich vegetation.
I get settled in one of the 13 suites, which invite you to enjoy relaxation and 24-hour safari life with their mix of lots of wood and large glass walls. From my suite, I watch a female hippo enjoy her afternoon snack below me while I myself savor some coffee and oat cookies.
The next day, I once again experience the incredible wildlife of Africa with great guides on two safaris through the 18,000-hectare private game reserve of the Singita Group. In the evening, as I look at the starry night sky, I am overcome by a heavy melancholy, coupled with infinite gratitude for what I have experienced – unfortunately, tomorrow is the last day of the trip!
Singita Lebombo Lodge: singita.com
Johannesburg – a bustling metropolis.
The end of my trip is a stay in Johannesburg. The exclusive rooms, the art collection, the spa, and the lunch in the heavenly park of the five-star hotel “The Saxon” almost make me forget that I am in the heart of the city.
Johannesburg is not generally considered a tourist attraction, but it proves to be a very exciting metropolis. On a tour in the afternoon, I visit the central business district, the traditional healing markets, and the bustling Hillbrow neighborhood. Crossing the Nelson Mandela Bridge, I reach the vibrant cultural district of Newtown. The end of my trip is a visit to Nelson Mandela’s former residence, which now houses a small, but deeply touching, museum. Far too soon, my trip is over. See you again, South Africa!
Saxon Hotel: saxon.co.za
This trip was designed by Design Reisen.
Aerial photography of Beach, Cape Town and Stellenbosch | Florian Wagner/ African Waters
Photography | PR