“Safari is often touted as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience, but the seasoned adventurers know that the moment you set foot onto Africa’s soil and its hallow safari grounds, you’re hooked for life,” says Allison (Addie) Law, a Smartflyer travel advisor.
In this week’s issue, we follow her recent 10-night, 11-day trip to South Africa, which she says is perfect for an adventure-seeking couple, conservation-minded families, and even honeymooners.
She calls the itinerary, “sophisticated, adventurous and dreamy,” and having done much of it myself, I would add “must go.” You not only get a chance to view the Big 5 (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo) in their natural habitat but you also visit Cape Town, and the nearby Winelands, equally worth a trip in their own right.
Law’s itinerary is one of the best I’ve seen, particularly for safari first-timers, or even repeaters who also want to get exposure to South Africa, a fabulous and very interesting country. Below is her report.
Day 1 – Arrival to Cape Town
Hands down one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town is the perfect place to begin your adventure. Perched between the ocean and the mountains with a national park as its heart, there’s nowhere like it.
On arrival to Cape Town, you will be met airside (as soon as you enter the airport building) by a VIP representative who will assist with immigration formalities and luggage collection before escorting you for your private car transfer to your home for the next three nights.
With years of careful planning before opening in March 2017, architecture and art lovers will appreciate The Silo’s attention-to-detail. Within months of opening, it made it onto Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List.
No expense was spared in its design, which is evident when admiring the 80 chandeliers spread throughout the property’s 28 unique rooms (The 2,012 sq. ft. Penthouse pictured above).
Beyond its sweeping views of Table Mountain, The Silo features a spa and a panoramic rooftop bar complete with a swimming pool, which is exclusively available for hotel guests. Arrange an alfresco treatment (pictured below).
For travelers who are truly seeking an artistic experience, a visit to “The Vault” beneath The Silo is a must-do. This basement space houses the hotel’s very own private gallery of African contemporary African art. Their mission is to collect, preserve, research, and exhibit cutting edge contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora, to develop supporting educational and enrichment programs for all, to encourage intercultural understanding and guarantee access for all. It is the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art.
Day 2 – Table Mountain Climb
Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, with a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years. That being said, your time here could be filled with as much or as little touring as you want. But no matter what, the unique topography of the region makes it easy to orientate oneself as long as you remember that with Table Mountain behind you and Robben Island before you, you are facing north, looking across Table Bay and up the west coast of Africa.
Speaking of Table Mountain, the beginning of your stay is the ideal time to get a bird’s eye view of the city from this epic vantage point. The Table Mountain cableway, a must for all visitors to the Cape, boasts revolving floors, giving passengers a 360 degree view.
Rising up over 1000m above sea level, it is the icon that makes Cape Town instantly recognizable. Or, if you really want to take your views to the next level, hop in a helicopter to see it all from above. Either way, take in this symbol of the city, widely viewed as a spiritual oasis.
After descending the mountain or disembarking your helicopter, you will depart on a tour of the “Mother City” taking in Signal Hill – where the Noon Day Gun is fired at midday, every day except Sunday – through the colourful Bo-Kaap or Cape Malay Quarter, past the Grand Parade, City Hall and the Castle of Good Hope and South African Cultural History Museum. The quaint cobbled streets of Bo-Kaap, the museum, the authentic purveyors of Cape cuisine and Cape Town’s oldest spice emporium are all worth a visit.
Day 3 – Cape Point Full-Day Tour
Today, after a leisurely breakfast at The Silo, you’ll embark on a full-day tour of Cape Point. Highlights of the trip down include one of the world’s most spectacular drives through Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak, Noordhoek Beach, the Cape Point Nature Reserve, two lighthouses on the tip of Africa, Boulders Penguin Colony, Simonstown, Kalk Bay, and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Cape Point lies at the south-western tip of Africa and offers great views, a restaurant and a funicular which takes you up to the old lighthouse. The spectacular scenery coupled with zebras, baboons, deserted beaches and plenty of fynbos to make this one of the Cape’s must-see destinations. Be sure to stop by The Boulders Visitor Centre, home to the famous colony of Jackass Penguins, so-called for their hilarious braying call. After you have fallen in love with the penguins, you may wish to take a swim in the comparatively warm waters of False Bay.
Head back to Cape Town for your final night in time to check out the incredible food scene. SmartFlyer can help you snag a coveted Test Kitchen reservation (above). A seat at the counter is recommended so you can watch as the chefs put your meal together right in front of you.
Day 4 – Winelands Touring
Idyllically situated in the Cape Winelands, Franschhoek (meaning ‘French Corner’) remains remarkably well-preserved dating back to its founding by the French Huguenots.
While the town’s proximity to Cape Town allows for day trips to explore the area’s many world-class wine estates, we love an overnight here to really soak up the magic. Check in to La Residence, your home for the night (Tibetan Suite pictured below) before heading out to explore.
During your visit, enjoy the impressive range of excellent restaurants or simply browse the quaint, upmarket boutiques strewn along the town’s lovely tree-lined avenues. Aside from exceptional wine tasting, golf is also available in the region. Complimentary village transfers to and from the hotel allow for leisurely exploration.
Once back from exploring the Winelands, guests can enjoy the pool, spa, gym or library when on property. Dine in the Terrace Room where garden produce is used to create memorable meals. Warm, personalized service creates an atmosphere of relaxation, making it truly feel like a vacation.
Day 5 – It’s Officially Safari Time
Your journey to your first safari outpost, Singita Ebony Lodge (above), will begin with a one-hour flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Once there, you’ll be transferred to the comfortable Federal Air Lounge to have some snacks and refresh as you await your shuttle or charter flight to Sabi Sands. After your short trip, you’ll land on the private air strip located just about 10-minutes from the lodge. (Note: If you are traveling on your own private jet to South Africa, SmartFlyer can help coordinate with your flights.)
A typical safari experience begins before sunrise with your guide and tracker. This duo will be on hand to ensure you miss nothing and bringing to life the stories of the magic of Africa. As a part of their extensive training, guides and trackers are not only skilled at helping you to spot the famous ‘Big 5,’ but they are equally passionate about all the insects, birds and plant life that make the entire ecosystem work together. As the sun rises, you head back to the lodge for breakfast after a full morning of game viewing. The heat of the day offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy the lodge and the gorgeous spa, leisurely lunch and afternoon tea to follow before you head back out for your afternoon game drive, only to be wrapped up with a proper G&T for sundowners.
The evening offers a different experience of the culinary sort, as you arrive back from yet another spectacular game drive, you’re swept away to an amazing lantern-lit dining experience on the airstrip, featuring the finest dishes prepared by Singita’s executive chef and paired with exquisite wines. You soak up the final hours sitting under the heavens, gazing up at the beauty of a million stars and listening to the symphony of Africa’s wildlife.
Days 6 & 7 – Safari, Safari, Safari
Today, you’re set to dive into the safari portion of your itinerary with Singita, the iconic conservation brand that has had a hand in preserving African wilderness for the past 25 years. We love recommending their collection of lodges to travelers because of the natural beauty of the reserves, limited guest and vehicle numbers, consistent game viewing and the exceptional care that is taken of every guest during their stay.
As the original lodge, Singita Ebony Lodge stands steadfast amongst enormous trees on the banks of the Sand River in a privately owned 45,000-acre game reserve in the Sabi Sands Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park. This area is fondly known as ‘big cat country,’ where you can view a large population of young male leopards. The design is a reminiscence of “Out of Africa,” with a modern twist, combining tented camp and bush lodge elegance. Guests are immersed in nature with huge open spaces and interiors inspired by a combination of local tribal culture and the animal kingdom.
Days 8 & 9 – Kruger National Park
After two full days of exploring Sabi Sands, it’s time for a change of scenery. A quick flight over to the neighboring Kruger National Park takes you to the Satara Airstrip, 45 minutes away from Singita Lebombo Lodge. The dramatic Lebombo Lodge comprises of 13 suites and one private-use villa that give guests a front-row seat to the Kruger National Park with contemporary open plan suites suspended above the N’Wanetsi River. The exclusive concession is a richly diverse habitat, teeming with game, beneath endless African skies.
In 2001, to strengthen Kruger’s future financial sustainability, the Park authority decided to make approximately 3% of its more remote areas available as private concessions for 25-year lease periods. Singita was awarded one of these concessions, and Lebombo sits in the heart of it – their efforts focus on biodiversity, community, and sustainability – protecting rapidly diminishing areas, restore, improve and protect the biodiversity of the ecosystems so that they function as close as possible to their natural, undisturbed state.
Day 10 – Homeward bound
When it’s time to head home, an hour and 30 minutes flight from Satara to Johannesburg takes you back to reality. From there, it’s time to board your international flight home.
Contact Allison (Addie) Law at SmartFlyer at email@example.com.