Heidi Kemsley on 06 November 2007
With distant memories of a less than balmy summer and the thoughts of a frosty winter ahead I was very excited to learn in October I had been invited by Elegant Resorts to join 3 other Travel Counsellors for a week in South Africa visiting some of the best hotels and games reserves on offer. With SA being almost on the same time zone to the UK you arrive early morning feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep on board.

CAPE TOWN Day 1 - Our first stop was the elegant Cape Grace Hotel on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfont which is perfectly situated for many bars, restaurants and shopping malls within 2 mins walk. Afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson is almost an institution and not to be missed.

CAMPS BAY Day 2 took us just 20 mins around the bay to Camps Bay with its long stretch of white sandy beach and stunning coastline. Our hotel The Bay was located next to the beach and had a contemporary yet homely feel and conveniently located close to trendy bars and restaurants. Sundowners from the Sandy B Br or Traders Cigar Bar are a must.

CAPE WINELANDS Day 3 and on to Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands which is embraced by majestic mountain views. We visited Le Quartier Francais an exclusive auberge in the heart of Franschhoek with just 15 luxury bedrooms and 2 Suites set around a courtyard with central pool and beautifully scented gardens. The Tasting Room is one of South Africa’s top restaurants. Our hotel for this evening was the Mont Rochelle Hotel and Vineyards set up on the slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains overlooking the vineyards and village of Franschhoek. Their restaurant MangeTout offers the fine dining experience dining in or out on the terrace on warm evenings. Outdoor activities offered include wine tastings, horse-riding (including a ‘Wine Tasting on Horseback Tour’), mountain biking, fly-fishing, and hiking. Spa treatments were also available.

HERMANUS Day 4 - Off to Hermanus which was about a 1 and half hour drive down to the coastal road. Hermanus is famous for its whale-watching from June - Dec when Southern Right Whales gather in Walker Bay to give birth and nurture before setting of on their journey around Nov/Dec. Our hotel was the Relaix & Chateaux The Marine located on the cliff top overlooking the bay. Land-based whale-watching at its best !! The hotel is best described as understated luxury and sophistication. Suites and rooms are decorated in the highest standard of comfort and style. Guests can take the coastal path with stunning views across Walker Bay. Boat trips from nearby Gannsbaii (30 mins) take you out to Dyer Island where viewings of whales, dolphins, great white sharks, penguins and seals are common. Shark cage diving is also offered here.

GARDEN ROUTE - PLETTENBERG BAY Day 5 - On the way to Plettenberg Bay we visited Grootbos Nature Reserve just 20 mins from Hermanus overlooking Walker Bay. This is a Private Nature Reserve closely linked to The Eden Project in Cornwall. A nature lover’s paradise, specialising in bird safaris, wild flower walks, beach safaris, horse-riding, whale-watching and diving with great white sharks. THE PLETTENBERG HOTEL Another Relaix & Chateaux hotel built on a rocky headland overlooking the bay, it has wonderful views of the sea, mountains and golden sandy beach.

Please go to my South African Safari Experience for my trip to Kruger National Park. I hope you have enjoyed my account of my trip to South Africa in a nutshell and I look forward to being able to advise and recommend with this fabulous country in mind.