From exhilarating African wildlife to horse rides on a beach...this journey has it all !
Welcome to your South African adventure! Your trip starts with six nights at Parker Cottage, Cape Town where you’ll be learning about the history of the Cape, spending time in Khayelitsha and visiting the Cape Peninsula.
On Day 7, you’ll collect your rental car from Cape Town and drive to the historic winelands town of Swellendam for one night, en route to your first safari experience.
On Day 8 and 9, you’ll be deep in the African bush at Gondwana Game Reserve in a private villa – there will be several game drives and bush walks whilst you’re here and you’ll witness the majesty of big game up close.
You’ll continue your Garden Route drive on days 10 and 11, stopping at Hog Hollow Country Lodge, which is situated in the middle of the Tsitsikamma Forest and only a few kilometres from the Indian Ocean. Whilst here, there will be ample opportunity to walk along the coast and through the forest as well as visit a local wildlife sanctuary.
The next two nights, Days 12 and 13, will find you at the beach in the remote Oyster Bay Lodge: you’ll have a chance to learn to surf, ride horses on the beach or simply idle away the time by the pool listening to the ocean’s roar.
From the beach, it’s back to the bush, only this time in the much larger reserves of the Eastern Cape. You’ll spend three nights, Days 14, 15 and 16 at Sibuya, which most unusually is a game reserve accessed by and situated on a river. You’re staying in the River Camp, so you’ll be surrounded by the sights and sounds of the inhabitants of the riverine bush day and night.
There’s a short drive on Day 17 to The Elephant House, a rambling colonial-era guesthouse outside the small farming town of Addo. Greater Addo, which is still being built, is the big attraction here with herds of elephant and several other large animals including lion resident in this large reserve.
On your last day, Day 19, you’ll make the short drive from Addo to Port Elizabeth Airport, where you’ll return the car and fly onwards.
Parker Cottage was built by the first mayor of what was then called Greater Cape Town as two separate houses in 1895: one house was for John Parker and his immediate family and the other for his parents-in-law. John Parker was an interesting figure: having arrived utterly destitute in Cape Town from Glasgow aged 15, he luckily managed to get training as a draughtsman, which lead him to become the leading architect and then eventually the mayor of Cape Town, adding many hundreds of extant buildings to the Cape Town landscape.
On your first afternoon, you might like to relax after your flight by enjoying the village of Tamboerskloof (where Parker Cottage is situated), perhaps strolling up the hill to The Blue Café or down to Kloof Street for a coffee and browsing in the bookshops and art galleries. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, the staff at Parker Cottage can provide you with tickets for the City Sightseeing Bus (Red Route), which is a lot of fun!
This is a free day for the family. Get up nice and late as they stop serving breakfast at Parker Cottage only by 10h00! Our recommendation is to attempt Table Mountain today or if not, the Lion’s Head. Check with Tomas at Parker about the weather. Mornings are normally best. If that doesn’t work out, take a taxi to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for the day.
On Day 3, you’ll be collected and taken to The Nelson Mandela Gateway, which is where the ferry to Robben Island leaves from. After your tour of Robben Island, you’ll arrive back at the V&A Waterfront in time for lunch. It’s great fun to spend some time at the V&A after lunch. Granted, it’s a little commercial but there’s lots to see and do, and usually some kind of live performance in the outdoor amphitheatre too.
Your day to indulge, and discover what Cape Town has to offer.
Today’s another change to climb Table Mountain if it wasn’t a good day, or take a walk through the Old Town, District Six and Bo Kaap.
Today you’ll be touring the Cape Peninsula with Chris Hannival for the whole day. The vast array of things to see and do on the Cape often leaves first-time visitors utterly bewildered: for example, the Cape is a wine region in its own right, boasting over eight wine estates some dating back into the 17th century (and they call us ‘New World’ in Europe!).
Add to this the very pretty collection of lovely old Victorian seaside towns, dubbed the South Africa 'Cinque Terre', the penguins at Boulder's Beach and then the rugged dagger of rock that is Cape Point, reaching out towards Antarctica, and you are just spoilt for choice as to what to see and where to go!
Chris will give you a full briefing of the possibilities, particularly in terms of weather as it can be very variable, on the day. You can choose to focus the day on the wildlife (marine and terrestrial), the wine and food, the history and architecture or the beaches and scenery, or any other component that particularly interests you.
Tel +27 21 424 6445
Augusta De Mist
Swellendam is one of the smaller, more peaceful winelands towns. It is an old town by South African standards, officially separated from the Cape colony in 1743 and the many historic buildings bear testament to that. For a long time, it represented the ‘final’ town between the rapidly advancing colonial influence on the Cape and the rest of the ‘dark continent’ to the east. The town made most of its money through the cunning business interests of brothers Barry and Nephew who were the first to exploit the Breede Rivier (which runs close to the town) as a mode of transport for goods back in 1822. Their small shipping company was so successful that they even set up a private bank in their names!
Today, Swellendam is essentially a farming town but its frontier character, and the early Victorian colonial architecture left over from its boom days dominate the town. Tourism is also big business here as it is the largest town in the region and makes a superb center for wine, hiking, cycling and the ‘unplugged’ way of life.
Augusta de Mist is an utterly baffling and totally charming place: your eye cannot ever rest on just one thing as each turn reveals another interesting object or new place to sit or look at. Originally a farm house, the former buildings have been extended into a series of beautiful suites, each one with unique charms. The owner, Michel, is Canadian by birth and just happens to be chef, so the standard of food here is simply outstanding. You’ll love the exuberant manager, Renate: never a dull moment with her around!
3 Human Street, Swellendam
Tel +27 82 842 3444
Gondwana Game Reserve
Gondwana Game Reserve is named after the super-continent that existed before the Americas separated from Africa around 320 million years ago: the reserve is situated on the slopes of the Outeniqua and Swartberg mountain ranges which provide the spectacular backdrop to the wildlife in the region. The terrain at Gondwana is rocky and undulating but with small streams punctuating the bush which attract abundant wildlife to the region.
Gondwana is a relatively small but entirely private game reserve, so there are no public roads through it and that means fewer humans disturbing the environment. Whilst at Gondwana, you’ll get the chance not only to go on game drives where you’ll see the larger animals but also bush walks (guided, with a ranger) which allow you to learn more about the flora, smaller animals, insects and track spoors.
Gondwana has a bird sighting list of over 300 indigenous and 30 endemic species, meaning that the birdwatching on its own is a reason to visit. In terms of the larger mammals, you should expect to see zebra, lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino and leopard, but also kudu, eland, sabal, caracal and bat-earred fox. If you tire of game viewing by vehicle, the way Gondwana is set up, it’s more than possible to see game right from your bedroom window. There’s also a spa and mountain biking available right on site.
Tel +27 21 555 0807
Hog Hollow Country Lodge
Hog Hollow is a rather special place: taking the attitude that the natural surroundings of this part of the Garden Route need absolutely no improvement at all (and they are right), the owners long ago decided to make an ultra-low impact lodge right in the middle of the Tsitsikamma Forest. This is one of the oldest forests in Africa and forms part of the Garden Route National Park, which spans several river mouths, beaches and forest along its 200km length. It stretches 3km out to sea too, where you’ll be able to watch dolphins playing in the surf. The walking, particularly along the coastline here, is utterly pristine.
Your villa has its own lounge, pool, deck, bar and even Wi-fi but it’s only 400m from the main lodge where the food is served. There are beautiful views over the forest and mountains beyond. You can order a South African ‘braai’ to be served and cooked on your deck if you’d like (really a great idea as very few places offer this and to have a braai in this setting is ‘baaie lekker’ (very nice).
Whilst you’re here, we’ve recommended taking a visit to the forest itself, particularly Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours and also the Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Both are very close by and Marsha at reservations will be able to book this for you and direct you there.
Askop Road, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay
Tel +27 82 896 5975
Oyster Bay Lodge
Oyster Bay Lodge is not a luxury destination in terms of its accommodation: it’s a lot more basic than Gondwana, for example, but we feel its remote location makes it a tranquil paradise, right on the beach. It is a multiple award-winning guesthouse and has just recently been awarded Fair Trade in Tourism status to boot. All the staff are from the local area, and most live on site or very close by so there’s a deep and enduring connection with local people here.
The actual lodge sits on 200 hectares of its own land which joins the 4km long private beach: there are wonderful high sand dunes, river deltas and coastal forest to stroll through. The horses roam freely across the property and choose you to ride them, rather than the other way around!
The place abounds with things to see and do, all from your front door and on foot without getting in the car: choose from dune safaris in a beach buggy, sand boarding, massages, a big range of well-marked hiking trails, mountain biking, visiting the working dairy farm and much more besides. The feel is somewhere between a resort and a farm.
Book yourself a horse ride on the beach in the morning…you won’t regret it!
2km West of Oyster Bay Village
Tel +27 42 297 0150
Sibuya Game Reserve
Sibuya is a magical place: most unusually, it’s situated on a serpentine river which is partially a marine estuary. This means you get an amazing variety of bird life combined with terrestrial game viewing.
Sibuya is also particularly special because it’s a family-owned game farm and because it has its own rhino conservation not-for-profit called The Rhino Foundation. Justin Fox, the eldest son of the family, is personally involved in anti-poaching activism across the country and has many a story to tell.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to meet Christiaan, one of the rangers at Sibuya. This man is so passionate about the environment in which he works that he knows not just most but all of the birds to be found in the area by common and in most cases also Latin name. We have clients who go back to Sibuya year after year just to go on a game drive with Christiaan! Don’t worry if you don’t get to meet him: the other rangers are equally talented.
39 Eastbourne Rd, Kenton-on-Sea
Tel +27 46 648 1040
The Elephant House
Situated near the main entrance to the Addo Elephant National Park, The Elephant House is a rambling colonial farmhouse with thatched roofs, offering that special brand of colonial luxury that is unique to South Africa. The house is beautifully decorated, with a homely dining and sitting room, Persian rugs, a private art collection and lovely verandas with comfy couches to while away your days in peace.
There are two swimming pools on site with light lunches and candlelit dinners served either by the poolside or on the terrace. The Lodge offers an array of activities, such as game drives into Addo on an open 4x4 vehicle, elephant back safaris, horseback safaris, canoeing on the Sunday’s river and even helicopter trips over the bushveld.
Since you are so close to the entrance to the Addo Elephant Park, a game drive is definitely not to be missed ! There’s also a canoe safari on the Sunday’s river.
Tel +27 42 233 2462