Cape Town may be South Africa’s vacation capital and the Kruger National Park may be the country’s flagship safari destination but seasoned international travellers who yearn to get off the well-trodden travel path are quietly finding a new destination: kwaZulu-Natal.
The vast red sand expanses of the Kalahari Desert rise up to meet us as we touch down in our 7-seater plane in the heart of Tswalu Private Game Reserve – the largest privately owned reserve in South Africa. At over 100 000ha, Tswalu is an endless sea of undulating sand dunes, grassy knolls and rocky outcrops, and the location of The Motse camp, our home for the next 24 hours.
There is so much to see and do at Babylonstoren – a deluxe working farm hotel in the Franschhoek Winelands – that’s best to arrive with some sort of plan. This is how we’d spend 48 hours at this very unique accommodation.
She pushes her huge tail down, ducks under the waves with tremendous forces and then, with colossal power, launches her huge body above the water, coming down with a fantastic splash. Everything is quiet except for the chorus of ‘Wows!’ from my fellow boat passengers. There’s a shared anticipation and keen excitement as we hope she’ll do it again… Our luck is in as she once again uses her tail fin to propel herself like an aquatic rocket above the ocean off Kleinbaai, a tiny hamlet on South Africa’s Whale Coast, less than an hour’s drive from Hermanus and regarded as the whale-watching capital of the world.
It’s 3:30am, -8°C / 18°F and all I want to do is lie down and go to sleep. The only reason I'm keeping my feet moving is my guide, Milton's encouragement.
Rhinos Without Borders is a big, bold and ambitious project launched and managed by two of our most credible travel partners, Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond. Their goal is to move a hundred rhinos from poaching hotspots in South Africa to safer, military-protected reserves in Botswana giving the species a chance to recover and form a new breeding nucleus. Before we signed up as supporters, our Managing Director Gary Lotter particpated in the first rhino capture for relocation. This is Gary's remarkable story of a momentous, bittersweet rescue effort.
In many ways, Port Elizabeth is a great place to end off your Garden Route self-drive holiday. Lying in the Eastern Cape province, it’s the place where the Western Cape’s lush forests and plantations start giving way to burnt orange aloes and the thicket bush that is the perfect terrain for kudu and one of the Eastern Cape’s main attractions: elephants. Addo Elephant National Park lies less than hour from PE – as it’s known to locals – and is ideal for first-time safari goers who are looking for a completely safe, malaria-free, family-friendly destination.
Robben Island, lying off the coast of Cape Town, is part of a long list of islands known primarily for being prisons. But, unlike Rikers and Alcatraz, its history has seen it go from being a leper colony, to a thriving 19th century ‘town’ complete with a school and post office, to a notorious penitentiary, and now a must-see travel destination studded with historical buildings and home to a flock of adorable but highly endangered African penguins.
After three thrilling days exploring Odzala National Park's lush rainforests – and having one of the most authentic wild encounters with a family of western lowland gorillas – we journeyed to Odzala’s open savannah plains, meandering rivers and towering swamp forests. Our home for the next two nights was Lango Camp.