By Irene Aviles
For most travelers, planning a trip to South Africa is a dream or a persistent bucket list item. It’s far away from wherever you live in the world, so it’s ideal to spend 2 or 3 weeks exploring the various locations in South Africa and the surrounding provinces. Here are my top 5 Favorite Things To Do with an added bonus at the end:
1) VISIT CAPE TOWN – Its fairly easy to fly into Cape Town from many major cities so it’s a great starting point. Like most major metropolitan cities it has
everything from Art, Culture, History, International Dining, Shopping and Sightseeing tours that encompass just about everyone’s taste. What makes it extra special is its location in the world, with the ocean on one side and the mountains encircling the area. I believe you need a good 5-7 days to really experience the City, Waterfront, Wineries and beautiful beaches and mountain trekking. There are several interesting things to do outside the city, as well, including a trip to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. Although there are many fine hotels to choose from I recommend a villa stay overlooking the ocean and city at Camp’s Bay, to truly breathe in the experience and enjoy a place to return to in the evenings for magical relaxation!
2) TRAVEL ON THE LUXURY TRAIN – Known in the world for its finest train travel, you can ride upon The BLUE
TRAIN or ROVOS RAIL. From South Africa you can travel to Pretoria on a 31-hour journey visiting 994 miles of some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery offered by the African subcontinent. On the ROVOS RAIL you can visit Durban or Victoria Falls, which are also a must. The ride is like stepping back in time to a place where elegance and service were not only a priority, but the clock slowed and you had a chance to embrace the moment. These rail experiences give you an ultra-luxury overnight train experience with the finest in dining and entertainment. Since wi-fi and cell phone use is discouraged, you actually have an opportunity to disconnect, unwind, and reconnect with those around you. Of course, this can always change so if you must, just ask.
3) VISIT JOHANNESBURG – Since you are already in the Southern part of Africa, a visit to Johannesburg for a city buff is required. It’s a mix of big-city culture with shopping, dining and nightlife. Outdoor adventure consists of up close wildlife experiences, historic site tours, and even a visit to local villages. If you don’t have time for a full safari experience going to Johannesburg zoo or staying a night or two at the Askari Game Lodge and Spa (about an hour outside the city) would give you the opportunity to walk or feed the elephants and even go for a game drive.
4) VICTORIA FALLS, ZIMBABWE – A must-see for a first time visitor as it is a magical natural wonder. It is located in the center of various neighboring provinces including Zambia, Botswana and Nambia. All of these regions offer amazing safari experiences depending on the type of animal you want to see.
5) THE GRAND FINALE, A SAFARI – This is the ultimate dream for most that venture to the southernmost part of the African continent. If you are traveling with children it’s important to understand the age limits at the various safari destinations. Working with a specialist in Safaris is ideal because the experience can definitely
vary. Resorts range in level of luxury, types of animals you can see from the Big Five to the Magnificent Seven, and then you have to determine to what extent you want the experience to be. Some of my favorites for families are Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp, River Bend Lodge and Singita Castleton Camp. Lots of fun to research and dream!
6) BONUS – For those with a passion for wine a brief 2-3 day stay in one of our villas in Franschhoek will round out the perfect trip to South Africa. Franschhoek is a small town in South Africa’s Western Cape about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, and is ripe with vineyards and pleasant landscapes. An
unlikely gastronomical locale you will find some of the best dining in the world, and the Spring/Summer season is perfect for al fresco dining. Historians will fall in love with this tiny town, and it is a must for visitors looking for a well-rounded experience.
Bottom-line, South Africa should be on the Bucket List of all discerning travelers because you can truly do it all in one of the most amazing places on earth. There are so many various combinations of fun and activities found in in South Africa – a destination for all, in all stages of life!