The Inside Scoop: South Africa

Interview with Madeleine Virag, Away by TTI Travel Advisor

Why did you choose the destination?

After participating in a luxury travel conference, I went on a 4 day Garden Route tour organized by Cedarberg Africa, a company who offers tailor-made holidays and safaris.  I have traveled to Africa before but had never been in South Africa so it was a good opportunity to experience this region.

What were the highlights?

Everyday was a highlight.  Driving from Cape Town to George was a spectacular scenic route; along the way stopping at Cango Caves and Cango Ostrich farm. Staying at the Fancourt Hotel; positioned on 613 hectares along the magnificent Garden Route, just outside George; it is a premier estate surrounded mountains and indigenous forests and the warm Indian Ocean in close proximity. Amongst is many offerings are fantastic family facilities, three Gary Player designed golf courses, a spa, a kids club and a variety of restaurants.

Continuing on to Knysna – a small ocean side resort town and stopping for a light lunch on the cliffs at the The Plettenberg Hotel.  The same afternoon; driving to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve for a game drive and dinner; this is an excellent option for visitors to the Cape Town area who cannot fit in a safari. This reserve has several rhinos (sadly they have to saw off their horns in order to protect their lives), lions, zebras, elephants……and a lovely lodge to stay at.

Next, Hermanus, a cosmopolitan fishing village only a 90 minute drive from Cape Town. With stunning sandy beaches, coastal walking trails, some of the finest wine estates in South Africa, beautiful fynbos vegetation and spring flowers; it is also world renowned as the whale watching capital of the world.

Whale watching can be conducted on land from the scenic coastal path, by boat or even from the air.   The beaches are backed by velvety mountains and the walking trails take you into the mountains of the Fernkloof Reserve.

What was your most memorable experience?

In Hermanus, staying at one the most beautiful hotels I have ever stayed in or have every seen, the Birkenhead House.   With just 11 rooms, it is intimate, elegant and enchanting.  Surrounded by sea, pristine beaches and towering mountains, it boasts an exhilarating cliff-top position overlooking the whale watching paradise of Walker Bay. For several months of the year, you can witness Southern Right and Humpback Whales breaching just meters from the shore.  It is also a surfers dream.

What surprised you the most?

I knew that Table Mountain is beautiful and the center of Cape Town’s scenery, but I never realized that it is part of a large chain of very high mountains. Everywhere we went we were surrounded by mountain ranges.

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Virag