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Gazing Out Along South Africa’s Garden Route

Lisa Robinson, manager of our travel agents in Colchester, travelled to South Africa to experience her first game drive and some beautiful hotels.

Destination: South Africa
Operator/Host: Premier Holidays
Accommodation
(Hotel names/Ship name): 
Kariega Game Reserve, Belvidere Manor, Arabella Hotel & Spa, Oude Werf, The Vineyard Hotel, Twelve Apostles
Airline: South African Airlines
Duration: 7 days

Flights

Check-in at Heathrow Terminal Two was quick and efficient and we were given access to the Maple Leaf lounge as South African Airlines are part of the Star Alliance. We were booked to travel in economy and, as the plane was not busy, we were able to have a row of seats to our self. The seats were comfortable and the food and service were both good.

Accommodation

Kariega Game Reserve Settlers Drift

The Kariega Game Reserve stretches across 10,000 hectares of beautiful wilderness in the Kariega River Valley. Consisting of just nine luxury tented suites, the accommodation is situated a couple of hours drive from Port Elizabeth. It was amazing; the tented suites are great for honeymooners as they offer complete privacy and each tent has a viewing deck overlooking the game reserve.

We were taken out on a game drive late afternoon after a little snack in the restaurant. The vehicles used are of a high standard with just six seats. Bottles of water and blankets are provided. Just as the sun was setting, we were able to get out of the vehicle and enjoy a drink and chat, a surreal moment amidst the breathtaking backdrop.

Back at the Lodge, we continued our evening by the open fire, discussing what animals we had seen earlier in the day. All meals and drinks are included in the rate and the food was of a very high standard. As we headed back to our tent for the night, we noticed that the staff had lit the wood burner and turned on the electric blankets on the beds; a welcoming sight after returning from the cold evening game drive.

A 5am wake-up call got the next day started early and it was time for the morning game drive. Hot chocolate and cookies were served before we boarded our jeep and we were also given a hot water bottle to keep off the morning chill. This was my first experience of a game reserve. Unfortunately, we did not get to see any of the ‘Big Five’, but I would most defiantly recommend the property.

 Lion South Africa

Plettenberg Hotel in Plettenberg Bay

This was a wonderful hotel in the most amazing setting, overlooking the ocean. A five-star hotel, it is approximately one and a half hours’ drive from George Airport, along the Garden Route and just a short walk from a great choice of bars shops and restaurants in town. All rooms are of a high standard.

Belvidere Manor in Knysna

This is a historic country estate, located just a short drive from the small town of Knysna. There are just 28 cottages dotted around the grounds, some with wonderful views of Knysna’s Lagoon. I really enjoyed our stay at this property. The hotel has a great setting and breakfast is served on the open terrace overlooking the lagoon. There is also a small pub in the grounds, where the local beer was just £1 a pint and you could get a glass of wine for £3.

Arabella Hotel and Spa in Kleinmond nr Hermanus

This large hotel is set in the heart of Kogelberg and hugged by the Rooisand Nature Reserve. It’s a good location for many activities including guided walks, horse riding and canoeing. The rooms are large and comfortable, all with either a private terrace or balcony overlooking the hotel’s pristine grounds. The hotel also offers a prestigious golf course.

Oude Werf Hotel – Stellenbosch

The Oude Werf Hotel is a great option, right in the heart of Stellenbosch and just a short walk from a number of cafes, shops, restaurants, museums and local galleries. The wine estates are also easily reached by shuttle from here. The hotel is a historic landmark in the Capes Winelands and turned out to be one of my favourite hotels in South Africa. It has beautiful rooms that offer a mixture of new and old décor. I would recommend to couples, groups of friends and families.

Lanzerac Manor Hotel and Spa – Stellenbosch

Set in the countryside, a mere five minutes from Stellenbosch Town, Lanzerac Manor is a 300-year-old private working estate in the Jonkershoek Valley. All rooms are individually decorated and have a private patio looking out over the beautiful landscaped gardens or dramatic mountain ranges. Lanzerac Manor has the most amazing restaurant, offering fine dining in the Governors Hall where we were treated to an amazing meal. I would recommend the hotel to people travelling for a celebration or special occasion.

The Townhouse Hotel – Capetown

This four-star hotel is centrally located and within walking distance of some great shops, bars and restaurants, museums and night clubs. It’s also just a 30-minute walk to the V&A Waterfront. The rooms were bright and spacious and the hotel has a nice lounge area for a coffee or cocktail. There’s also the very unusual Trees Restaurant in which you can dine.

Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa – Capetown

The five-star Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is poised above the Atlantic Ocean on Cape Town’s most scenic route. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel with bright, spacious rooms, many of which have ocean views. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the nearby beaches and the V&A Waterfront.  There is also a lovely bar with an outdoor terrace, where you can sip a chilled glass of wine and watch the sunset.

Excursions

  • Game drives at Kariega Game Reserve
  • Whale watching cruise in Hermanus
  • Wine tasting in Stellenbosch
  • Penguins at Boulders beach
  • Cruise and tour to Robben Island
  • Trip up to Table Mountain
  • Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
  • Amazing food and drink

Trip Highlights

 Nelson Mandela's Cell

It was an amazing trip, but my favourite part was the tour of Robben Island and visit to Nelson Mandela’s cell. It was a very moving experience and one I will always remember.

Possible Improvements

There was a lot of travelling by road, but I understand this was necessary as we covered a great distance in a short time.

Recommendations

This holiday would suit couples, groups and even families. There is a lot of travelling involved but the most amazing sights to see. The drinks and food were also very reasonably priced.

Additional Comments

I would like to thank Dave from Premier Holidays, along with Steve and Paul from Fred. Olsen Travel for giving me the opportunity to travel to South Africa.

Must see? Beautiful scenery and beaches on the Garden Route
Must do? Tour of Robben Island & game drive
Must try? Cable car to Table Mountain and the local wine

If you would like to visit South Africa, for a game drive or to explore one of the country’s vibrant cities, we can help plan your trip. Stop by one of our travel shops in Lymington, Dorchester, Westbourne or East Anglia to speak to someone in person or contact us online.