Your dream Journey through South Africa
After the pandemic, it has become finally possible again to travel this beautiful country without restrictions!
We had postponed some trips and visits to new national parks a few times and now it was finally possible!
This is the description of our trip to Madikwe and Marakele National Park, visiting Cheetah Plains Lodge in Timbavati and Saseka Tented Lodge in Thornybush Reserve.
This is followed by a description of a stay on the Garden Route, in the Winelands and in Cape Town!
After our arrival in Johannesburg, we drove about 5 hours to the Madikwe Reserve, almost on the border to Botswana. The route is very easy to drive, almost all of it is tarred road.. The advantage of Madikwe is that it is malaria-free, so you don’t have to take malaria prophylaxis. In addition, the price is quite a bit lower than Sabi Sands or Timbavati. Madikwe was renatured about 30 years ago and the wildlife has developed extremely well. You can find the Big 5 and it is especially known for its large population of wild dogs. I have visited several lodges there, including Jamala Royal Madikwe lodge which is simply breathtaking. Very luxurious indeed!! However, I just found out that the main house fell victim to a fire in December 2022 and the lodge has been closed ever since. Let’s hope it will be rebuilt. This time we stayed at Madikwe Safari Lodge , which we liked very much. It is elatively small, almost intimate, has large terraces with private pool, excellent food and good game drives. Next door is Lelapa Lodge, which is child-friendly and a lot bigger.
It is a good idea to drive from Madikwe to Marataba, in Marakele National Park, and thus combine the two. These trips are relatively easy to do with a rental car or with a transfer.
Marataba Safari Lodge has a stunning situation at the foot of the Mrakele mountains. Big 5! Excellent tented rooms , wonderful food and top service! This is the second time for me and I am thrilled every time! This time we had a sandstorm and at night a heavy thunderstorm, you have to say that here you are closest to nature. During the sandstorm we saw a family of cheetah being watched by a small herd of wildebeest. Beautiful!
This trip took place in December 2021 and we were back in the bush again by the end of February 2022. This time we had the opportunity to test the absolutely stunning Cheetah Plains Lodge in the northern Sabi Sands with colleagues from my partner travel agency in Cape Town. Total luxury! The lodge consists of a series of private villas, each with 4 rooms, their own butler and each with their own pool. A very good novelty is that the entire lodge is supplied with electricity from its own solar system and the safari jeeps are all electrically powered, which of course ensures absolute peace and quiet during game drives and is also environmentally friendly. The lodge is perhaps too luxurious for our taste and I wonder which clients can afford this. Many of the lodges in the Sabi Sands are now simply too luxurious and too expensive. We were able to stay for three days and of course enjoyed the luxury very much!
From there we went for three more days to Thornybush Private Game Reserve, which is very close to Hoedspruit airport and is now connected to the Kruger Park, so the animals can move freely. Thornybush is still a bit of an insider’s tip if you only have a few days for safaris and you don’t have the budget for Sabi Sands We stayed one night at Jackalberry Lodge, which is lower priced, not luxurious, but good enough, and then at the beautiful Saseka Tented Camp, which is absolutely gorgeous but comes at a higher price!
In the Timbavati, apart from one of my favourite lodges , the & beyond Ngala lodge and & beyond tented camp, there is also the much more affordable Saviti Lodge, which I have yet to test; however, my clients have been rather enthusiastic about it!
There is a daily direct flight to Cape Town from Hoedspruit, so you can add a stay in Cape Town and the Winelands to your safari.
In the Winelands, about 1.5 hours from Cape Town, you have the choice between Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franshoek, with Franshoek being our favourite. It is beautifully located between the mountains and has a french character, as during the persecution of the Huguenots many found refuge here, not without bringing the best vines from France.
These are our favourite hotels in Franshoek:
Two – three days in the Winelands are absolutely worth it! From there it is not far to Cape Town, The Mother City.
In Cape Town, our favourite hotels are the Ocean View House in Bakoven and, most recently, the Mount Nelson in Oranjezicht, a dream hotel run by Belmond. The Nellie is the grande dame of the hotel industry in Cape Town!
Of course, I can refer you to a number of other, smaller and cheaper hotels and guesthouses in Cape Town.
Cape Town alone is worth a trip and should not be missed on any journey to South Africa.
However, after a safari in and around Kruger, one can also make a detour to Kwazulu Natal to the nature reserves there. St. Lucia and lodges such as Phinda and Leopard Mountain are ideal.
Alternatively, fly into Port Elizabeth, visit Addo Elephant Park or one of the quite good game reserves in the area, such as Kwandwe and Lalibela. However, they are not comparable to the Kruger in terms of diversity.
Port Elizabeth is the gateway to the famous Garden Route, with the Tsitsikamma forests, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and Wilderness. From there it’s not far to Cape Agulhas, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Hermanus and finally Cape Town. Our favourite hotels along this route are the Plettenberg Hotel, The Turbine in Knysna and The Pink Lodge on the Beach in Wilderness.
As I said, this is only a glimpse of what you can see and experience in South Africa! Contact me and I will organise your dream trip according to your wishes. I have agreements with all the hotels mentioned above, so I can book them for my clients at good rates.
The next trip to South Africa is in the books already! There are lots of new experiences waiting for us!