Discover South Africa’s gems as you travel from pretty coastal towns to a predator-stalked private reserve. Your journey begins in Cape Town in the shadow of Table Mountain, from there you drive up the coast for whale watching in Hermanus and wine tasting in the Franschhoek Valley. You wouldn’t want to leave South Africa without going on safari, and for excellent big game viewing you can’t do better the final stop on your itinerary: the Sabi Sands.
On arrival in Cape Town you’ll be met at the airport by a Southern Africa Travel representative and transferred to Welgelegen Guest House. Tucked away in a leafy cul-de-sac, Welgelegen offers a quiet and wonderfully comfortable stay a short stroll trendy Kloof Street with its highly acclaimed restaurants, bars and lively sidewalk cafés.
There’s so much to see and do over the next four days: take the revolving cable car to the top of Table Mountain, laze on the white sand beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton, do a little shopping at the V&A Waterfront or in the cobbled streets of the pretty De Waterkant village. All these areas lie within a 15-minute drive of the two beautifully restored Victorian homes that house Welgelegen.
We can arrange car hire for your stay in Cape Town or you can opt instead for private guided tours. Try something fun like a culinary and cooking tour; enjoy the spectacular coastal journey down to Cape Point or go on the African Heritage Tour which takes in the colourful Bo Kaap district, a Cape Town township, and combines well with Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
After breakfast we’d recommend driving to Hermanus via the coastal route which, although slightly longer than Sir Lowry’s Pass (about two hours without stops), takes you along an incredibly scenic road carved between mountains and sea.
You’ll spend the next couple of nights at The Marine Hermanus, a five-star hotel perched on the cliffs just outside the small town centre. Hermanus is famous for its phenomenal land-based whale watching; visit between the months of June and November and you’re in for a spectacular performance as whales breach and tail slap just out to sea – in fact if you stay in sea facing room at The Marine you can do some whale watching before even getting out of bed! Read more in our blog post "Whales Out My Window: a Stay at The Marine".
Other attractions include the well laid-out Cliff Path, sandy Grotto Beach with its peaceful lagoons, boat trips (or even kayaking) out to see whales and dolphins, and the Hermanus Golf Course. The aptly named Whale Coast is also the place to go cage diving to see great white sharks, and there are some well worth-a-visit wine estates in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
From Hermanus drive inland to the vineyard-covered slopes of the Cape Winelands (the drive takes about 1.5 hours). Here you’ll be staying at Franschhoek Country House & Villas, just outside the prettiest of the Cape Winelands towns. This valley is best known for its award-winning restaurants and (of course) its excellent Cape wines, so you’re in for a culinary treat!
While it’s tempting to spend the rest of the day lazing by the pool of your beautiful boutique hotel, enjoying the mountain views or a massage at the spa - there really is plenty to see. Stroll to the town centre; its main road lined with galleries, boutique shops and sidewalk cafes; pick from one of the many restaurants and visit the Motor Museum with its outstanding collection of classic cars.
The next morning after a leisurely breakfast, spend the day visiting the surrounding wine estates. There are so many to choose from (not only in Franschhoek but also in neighbouring Stellenbosch and Paarl), that we’d highly recommend a private guide. You can also go horse riding through the vineyards with the occasional stop to take in the scenery and sample wine, or opt for Franschhoek’s hop-on hop-off wine tram.
Your final breakfast in Franschhoek is made that bit sweeter by the chocolate croissants and mountain views, then it’s an hour or so drive to Cape Town International Airport where you return your hire car and check in for your flight to Johannesburg.
You’ll be met at OR Tambo Airport by a Southern Africa Travel representative and taken on a private guided tour of the Soweto township. Stop in at Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Mandela’s former home is now a small museum, and the street has a friendly buzz with vendors selling African art, handcrafts and souvenirs.
After the tour you’ll be taken to the African Pride Melrose Arch for your overnight stay. Set in one of Johannesburg’s trendiest suburbs, this modern hotel is surrounded by restaurants, designer stores and high end fashion boutiques – perfect for a touch of retail therapy.
Following breakfast you’ll be driven to OR Tambo International for your flight to Hoedspruit Airport, where you’ll be met by and transferred to your safari lodge for a four-night stay. Arathusa is an affordable luxury lodge with a prime position in the world-renowned Sabi Sands, a private Kruger Reserve famous for excellent big game sightings - particularly the normally elusive leopard!
Most guests who spend a few days at Arathusa Safari Lodge see all of Africa’s Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) along with a whole host of other wildlife including giraffe, wildebeest, hyena and jackal. The lodge itself overlooks a large waterhole which serves as a hippo hangout with herds of elephant and a variety of antelope frequently stopping by for a drink.
Days at Arathusa are spent on guided morning and afternoon game drives, and since you’re in a private reserve your tracker can follow trails off road getting you up close to your sightings. Between drives enjoy an al fresco lunch on the wooden deck overlooking the waterhole, then relax alongside the swimming pool or on the private verandah of your thatched suite.
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