The Best Destinations In South Africa
The Best Destinations In South Africa
How To Plan The Ultimate 10 Day Tour of South Africa
South Africa occupies the most southern tip of Africa with its long coastline stretching more than 3,000 kms from the desert border with Namibia on the cooler Atlantic coast southwards around the tip of Africa and then north to the border of subtropical Mozambique on the warmer Indian Ocean. It is a vast and diverse country with many beautiful destinations for every traveller. Fascinating cultures, magnificent landscapes and abundant wildlife characterise South Africa’s unique destinations ranging from deserts and mountains to beaches and nature reserves.
Increasingly travellers are looking to visit destinations that facilitate social distancing and afford an opportunity to reconnect with nature and local communities in a meaningful way.
While visitors could spend months exploring South Africa, most of us don’t have the luxury of endless holidays. That’s why we focused on the best way to spend 10 nights in four of South Africa’s must-visit destinations.
For first time visitors to South Africa we recommend spending time experiencing the peace and remoteness of the African bush in The Greater Kruger National Park, savoring the Champagne air of the seaside in Hermanus, strolling through the gardens and vineyards of Franschhoek and exploring the rich culture, art, design and cuisine of Cape Town. The Royal Portfolio’s carefully crafted luxury travel packages offer different destination combinations that showcase the very best of South Africa. For guests looking to travel with a purpose, we have launched The Royal Portfolio Foundation Itinerary – a 10 night itinerary staying at each of our properties and incorporating a number of community and conservation activities.
Watch The Royal Portfolio ‘A Complete Experience’ Below:
Cape Town is a colourful and vibrant city surrounded by dramatic mountains and sandy beaches. It is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world – presided over by one of the 7 Natural Wonders of The World – Table Mountain. The magic of Cape Town, or the ‘Mother City’ as it is affectionately known, lies in the collision of natural wonder, diverse cultures, art, design and a thriving food and wine scene. Many visitors underestimate the time needed to explore Cape Town and we always recommend at least three nights.
Cape Town enjoys a Mediterranean type climate and is within close proximity to the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route. Spend your days relaxing on Clifton beach, ambling through the botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch and wine tasting at legendary wine estates. The Cape Town epicurean scene has been going from strength to strength over the last few years. Food markets, fine dining restaurants, cafes, bistros, pubs, bars and casual eateries abound in the Mother City. Take a look at our list of the Top 20 Restaurants in Cape Town as well as our list of the Top 10 Restaurants in the Cape Winelands. The Silo Hotel is located in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, the ideal base from which to explore all that the city has to offer.
Cape Malay, Dutch and British architecture sit side by side with cutting edge 21st century loft apartments and slick skyscrapers. The best place to experience Cape Malay cuisine is in the Bo-Kaap (Above The Cape) District, an area with steep cobblestone streets and brightly-coloured houses where former Cape Malay slaves settled in the early 19th century. A short boat ride away is the infamous Robben Island where you’ll find the erstwhile prison cell of the late Father of the Nation, Nelson Mandela.
Cape Town is a wonderful destination for nature lovers and offers great hiking, trail running and cycling routes. Top Cape Town attractions include Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Clifton Beach, Lion’s Head, Penguins at Boulders Beach, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Robben Island and Cape Point Nature Reserve.
Franschhoek (‘French Corner’ in Dutch) is a picturesque village where the laid-back café culture has a distinctly French charm. The first French Huguenot settlers arrived in South Africa at Franschhoek in 1688 and their influence lives on. Full of character, Franschhoek is distinguished by its fine colonial architecture, numerous gourmet restaurants, art galleries and expansive vineyards. Experience a culinary journey through some of Africa’s most spectacular landscapes. Meander from estate to estate sampling fine wines and local, artisanal produce.
Summer days are best spent golfing at world-class golf courses and exploring the streets of Franschhoek on foot. There are also fabulous hiking and cycling routes through the magnificent Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. During the winter months, visitors enjoy crackling fireplaces, red wine and the many festivals hosted in the valley. Stellenbosch and Paarl are a short distance from Franschhoek and are well worth exploring for a complete Wine Country experience.
Wine-making has an illustrious 300-year old history in the Franschhoek Valley. With over 800 wine estates in the Western Cape, the oldest family-owned wine farms are worth visiting for their architecture and beautiful vineyards alone. Whether you are a connoisseur with your own cellar or an enthusiastic newcomer to the wonderful world of wine, wine tasting in Franschhoek offers a unique and diverse experience for oenophiles.
Top Franschhoek attractions include The Huguenot Museum, Hiking, Cycling, Art Galleries, Festivals, Motor Museums and Chocolate & Cheese Tastings.
Aside from being the best place to view whales on the planet, Hermanus is renowned for its wild beauty, artisanal food producers, markets and its proximity to the Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven-and-Earth ) wine route – one of South Africa’s premier, cool-climate wine producing regions. Hermanus is a scenic 90-minute drive from Cape Town and is the perfect spot in which to relax and forget about city life, with long strolls on the beach, massages, sunsets and fresh seafood.
The pure air, pristine beaches and sheer tranquillity are a captivating combination in themselves, but for those looking for an energetic Hermanus holiday, there is plenty to do. Surfing, fishing, mussel-picking, golf, tennis and horse riding, as well as the more convivial pursuit of wine tasting in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Whale watching can be done on land, at sea or in the air. For those looking to get up close and personal with the Southern Right and Humpback whales, we recommend heading out on the ocean with a company called Dyer Island Cruises, as their primary focus is on marine conservation and research.
The town’s fascinating history as a fishing village can be traced by visiting the Old Harbour Museum, where old fishing boats and reconstructed fishermen’s shacks are on display. For the more adventurous, explore the rich flora and fauna of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve with numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. Over 1100 different plant species have been identified within the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, an area of only 15 square kilometres. This makes it one of the six floral kingdoms of the world and compares well with the UK’s total number of 1500 species.
Top Hermanus attractions include Marine Dynamics Shark Cage Diving, Surfing, Whale Watching, Mussel Picking, Wine Tasting, Butterfly World and Horse Riding.
The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa and one of the world’s biggest wildlife sanctuaries. The Kruger National Park is located in the Mpumulanga Province and is approximately the same size as Israel or Wales, covering some 19,485 square kilometres with a rich diversity of ecosystems that support over 145 mammal species including the Big 5 and over 500 bird species.
Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Black Rhino make up Africa’s Big 5. The ‘Big 5’ phrase was coined by hunters back in the day. It referred to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot and the degree of danger involved. The term is still used today but without the hunting connotations and the animals still appear on South African banknotes.
Game drives at dawn and dusk form the basic rhythm of the day. To view game is to lose yourself in a powerful and startling drama. During a game viewing excursion, your senses sharpen and excitement grows as you draw close to the most remarkable animals as they hunt, play and sleep. No matter what the time of year, each season has something special to offer. The dry, gold-brown winter bush makes for excellent sightings, but the lush green foliage of the summer months brings with it migrant birds and new-born animals.
The untamed environment of The Greater Kruger National Park stirs deep emotions. Visitors experience meaningful and often life-changing encounters with wildlife replacing bustling city life with the tranquil sounds and splendour of nature. Time slows down as your body adjusts to the natural rhythms of the African bush.
Guests at Royal Malewane often ask about additional activities outside of the reserve. There are many Top Kruger attractions which include Helicopter Rides Over The Panorama Route, Canyon Cruises, Hot Air Ballooning, Local Village Excursions and Golf At Leopard Creek. The ‘Lowveld’ is one of the most spectacular and dramatic regions in South Africa and well worth exploring en route to the Kruger National Park. The ‘Panorama Route’ includes incredible geographic sites such as God’s Window, The Three Rondawels, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon and Mac Mac Falls. Pilgrim’s Rest offers a fascinating window into the past, and captures the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest to discover gold.
However these external activities are time consuming due to the nature of the destination and there is more than enough to keep you occupied at the lodge itself with twice daily game drives, bush walks, star gazing, bird watching and of course taking some time out to enjoy your beautiful suite, the delicious cuisine and the award winning Waters of Royal Malewane Bush Spa. Increasingly guests are taking an interest in conservation and like to spend time with our specialist counter poaching dog unit on the reserve.
We like to recommend at least 3 nights on safari in South Africa to really make the most of the experience and to see as much wildlife as possible.
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