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South Africa Press Reviews
This selection of articles about trips we’ve arranged provides independent views on the places, accommodation and arrangements that we provide in Africa and Madagascar. Any prices mentioned in articles were current at the date of publication.
Cape Town shopping: Africa’s Horn of plenty
Author: Lisa Grainger | Date posted: May 26, 2011
Lisa Grainger visits Cape Town with personal shopper Natalie Bulwer to sample some of the delights that the city has to offer. Walking through Old Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning Cape Town has the feel of “’London 20 years ago, when the BritArt scene was so hot, but with hippies and sunshine’… fashionable young things drink cappuccinos while African women sit on the pavement in the shade, hawking knitted toys.” Grainger visits Heartworks “packed with contemporary crafts”, Clementina, “where hand-painted plates printed with monochrome iconography sit alongside ethnic bowls and Miro-esque dinner services” and at Karoo Moon, Natalie had to prise her out “laden with purchases.”
Grainger visits Merchants on Long where they “examine African wares from around the continent.” At the Gold of Africa Museum, Grainger was “introduced to Heidi Liebenberg, who whisked [them] around the worlds biggest collection of West African gold treasures.” In Cape Quarter “Africa Nova dazzles with its modern ethnic ware. In Kloof Street, Melissa’s stocks such local edible treats as macadamia nougat.” The biggest dealers in South African art have offices in Cape Town where “works sell from hundreds of pounds to hundreds of thousands.”
Grainger concludes that despite returning to London with 22kg of luggage to check in at departures, according to Natalie, this “isn’t too serious; many of her clients have to buy a shipping container to get everything home.”
How to shop
Shopping with an expert Personal shopper Natalie Bulwer (00 27 84 926 6393, nataliebulwer.co.za) specialises in art, design and interiors, and charges from R300 (£27) an hour, including chauffeur.
Cars can be hired from the airport; for a chauffeur, contact Glenn Hendricks (00 27 21 762 8514, firstname.lastname@example.org), who charges R1600 (£150) a day.
Where to stay
Even if urban shopping is the main purpose of your trip, a wine farm or a property beside the beach makes for
a much more pleasant stay than a hotel in the city centre. The hip new haunt in Camps Bay is Pod (00 27 21 438 8550, pod.co.za), a relaxed 15-bedroom boutique b&b with beach views, a lap pool and minimalist open-plan studio rooms (above); doubles from £145.
In the heart of the Constantia winelands, a 20-minute drive from Cape Town, the Steenberg Hotel (00 27 21 713 2222, steenberghotel.com) is a beautiful 17th-century mountain-side wine estate with a spa, a stylish bistro (below) for long lunches, and a pretty pool; doubles from £165. Art-lovers wanting a little privacy can rent the glamorous six-bedroom home of acclaimed painter Beezy Bailey (email@example.com), below Table Mountain; restricted dates, from £1,000 per night.
Where to eat
For lunch in the city, Hemelhuijs (00 27 21 418 2042) at 71 Waterkant Street: fashionable slate-grey walls, with contemporary furniture and inventive organic dishes from smoked duck and pomegranate salad to foie gras and cognac soup.
In Woodstock, The Test Kitchen (00 27 21 447 2337,thetestkitchen.co.za), where acclaimed chef Luke Dale-Roberts serves up inventive but artisanal food. For tea, the Mount Nelson Hotel (00 27 21 483 1000, mountnelson.co.za) serves the old-fashioned English variety in the garden, with scones on silver platters.
For beachside drinks in fashionable surroundings, you can do no better than The Grand (00 27 21 425 0551, thegrand.co.za).
W&O Travel Rainbow Tours (020 7226 1004, rainbowtours.co.uk) is offering a week in the Cape from £1,090 per person (based on two sharing), with three nights' b&b at Pod and three nights' b&b at Babylonstoren, in the winelands near Franschhoek.
The price includes seven days' car hire. Flights with Virgin Atlantic(0844 209 7777, virgin-atlantic.com) cost from £395 plus taxes of about £370.
You and Your Wedding
Author: Amy Fetzer and Will Rowberry | Date posted: September 3, 2009
Amy Fetzer and Will Rowberry spent their honeymoon blissed out on a beach in Mauritius before jetting off for some game spotting at three luxurious camps in the Botswana bush.
As the sky turned gold and a giraffe silhouetted the horizon, we clinked glasses, confident we had chosen the perfect honeymoon. Although we were looking for white sands and turquoise seas, we also wanted adventure and for us the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius and an African safari ticked all the right boxes. Our resort, Paradise Cove, had romance in abundance with Balinese-style décor and understated elegance. Our suite overlooked the resort’s private beach and peninsula and it wasn’t long before drinking champagne on the balcony overlooking the moonlit cove became a nightly routine.
For the first few days we were so busy lounging in one of the hotel’s ‘love nests’ that we only managed to swim and kayak in cleverly landscaped seclusion, revelling in the illusion that we had our very own beach. However, once we’d caught our breath, we took advantage of the free water-skiing, windsurfing and snorkelling.
Keen to explore the rest of the island, we booked a guided hike in the Black River Gorges, so-called because of the river of escaped slaves that once flowed into the mountains. Our enthusiastic guide, Rudi, lead us through the forest pointing out indigenous wildlife and vegetation as well as fabulous mountain, waterfall and sea views.
Next up was the Hindu temple at Grand Bassin – a sacred lake – and on another day we explored Eureka, an old Creole country house built in 1830, eating at Le Ravin, a restaurant run by one of the island’s most famous chefs. Knowing it was our honeymoon, they set up a table for us right next to the ravine, just above several impressive waterfalls.
We could have stayed in Mauritius for ever but, after a week, Africa beckoned. We had just enough time for a whistle-stop trip of Johannesburg before flying on to Botswana. The safari started as soon as the tiny six-seater plane was airborne when we spotted herds of elephant grazing below and, as it touched down, a troupe of baboons ran alongside the airstrip. By the time we had arrived at Sandibe Lodge, our first camp in the Okavango Delta, we’d also seen giraffes and monkeys.
We quickly adapted to lodge life – up before dawn for a light breakfast and a three-hour game drive. Then it was back to camp for brunch – a mammoth meal of exquisite salads, speciality breads and cooked breakfasts, after which we’d retire to our room for a glorious outdoor shower in the sunshine, a dip in the pool and a nap. At 3.30pm, there was high tea followed by the evening game drive before returning to the lodge for dinner under the stars with the other guests.
Watching the sun go down over the bush with our drinks was always a high point, although one evening we happily forfeited our cocktails to watch a nail-biting chase as three lionesses prowled the bush looking for stray buffalo.
Another night, after a romantic meal at a private table for two, we returned to our cabin to find it lit by hundreds of flickering tea lights and decorated with fresh flowers that Mareko, our butler, had strewn throughout to welcome us home. It was a magical end to a magical evening.
After three days at Sandibe, we flew to Nxabega. Further up the delta, it was a thrilling flight over a river-swirled landscape of bathing hippos. The drill was the same at Nxabega, but this time we were staying in a tent with an interior to rival any five-star hotel.
We drifted to sleep to a chorus of hippos grunting at the water’s edge. The next morning we were in their territory as we zoomed around the delta in a motorboat, overtaking crocodiles and watching the sunset turn the water liquid gold. Another day we spent a relaxing few hours punting through the reed waterways in a canoe looking for pretty, painted reed frogs as the morning sun glinted prettily off the water. We returned to camp at the end of the day to be greeted by Dinar, our butler, on our veranda with a hamper of food, a beautifully laid table and a tin bath full of bubbles for an outdoor bath in the African sun. Bliss!
After two nights at Nxabega, we flew to Jack’s Camp in the Kalahari Desert.This quirky time-capsule-of-a-camp is kitted out in the style of 1940s East Africa, but despite the vintage feel with four-poster beds and antique furniture, there’s every modern-day luxury, including running water and flush toilets. At Jack’s we spent our days enjoying the stunning scenery, racing across the salt pans on quad bikes and revelling in the silence and solitude of the desert, as well as taking bush walks with the San people, marvelling at their unusual clicking language and ability to survive in the harsh conditions of the desert.
When it was time to fly home, we could hardly bear to leave, yet we knew we had gathered a kaleidoscope of amazing memories that would keep us smiling for years to come.
Rainbow Tours (020 7226 1004, www.rainbowtours.co.uk) offers seven nights half-board in a deluxe room at Paradise Cove, one night at The Grace in Rosebank in South Africa and five nights fully-inclusive in two CCAfrica lodges in the Okavango Delta from £3195 per person, including flights and transfers. A two-night fully-inclusive stay at Jack’s Camp costs from £990.
10 hours to Mauritius; 12 hours to Botswana.
Temperatures in Botswana range between 20°C and 30°C while Mauritius has year-round sunshine with temperatures varying between 22°C in winter and 34°C in summer.
Author: Nick Maes | Date posted: February 23, 2008
First stop for Nick Maes is the town only a couple of hours east of Cape Town called Swellendam and the Jan Harmsgat Country House. Here Nick Maes delighted in the pre-dinner drinks which resulted in “a spontaneous cocktail party and chance to ruminate over the excellent wine list, from a 3,000 strong cellar.” their divine dinners of “smoked salmon mousse, beef fillet with wild mushrooms and pecan pie” and the in-house training policy based on the owners Judi and Brin’s “unswerving commitment to the principles of fair trade” that allowed head chef, Lena Vergotini to train up from housemaid to the position that she is now in.
Next stop is Hogs Hollow in Tsitikamma Tsitikamma Forest, a short drive from Plettenberg Bay.. Nick Maes notes "its admirable reputation among the local community for the promotion of staff and the exemplary labour standards." He delights in the luxury of a "fab pool overlooking the majestic Matjes river gorge, gorgeous rooms with hammocks on decks - also looking out across that amazing gorge view - and locally sourced grub." It was from Hog Hollow that Nick Maes visited a township on the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay and toyed with the idea of doing one of Tsitsikamma’s eco-friendly Canopy Tours,
Lastly, Nick Maes visits Dyuma Bush Lodge in Krugar National Park with its eight private chalets with individual plunge pools and outdoor showers. Nick marvels in the abundance of wildlife which he says "was slightly unnerving; [as he] was convinced there were men winding up the reptiles or plugging batteries into mammals and switching them on when given the nod." Nick describes Djuma's heavy investment in its staff and the development of the local community for example “its Projects include two new local primary schools, a media training centre for disadvantaged communities and a day care centre.”
Nick Maes ends his break in South Africa by concluding that he “was sceptical about the concept of Fair Trade tourism. [He] may drink the coffee, eat the chocolate and wear the T-shirts but a Fair Trade holiday sounded a tad too virtuous and smug for its own good. But [he is]man converted. The scheme is not a right-on panacea, but a strictly audited badge that guarantees specific values. [His] fears of two weeks of unbleached cotton and a diet of lentils were utterly unfounded. Community empowerment and environmental conservation go hand in hand with comfort and style. Put simply, this is ethical travel with panache and an inspiration to other destinations.”
Click here for the full article
Rainbow Tours Fact Box
Rainbow Tours (020 7226 1004, rainbowtours.co.uk) offers a two-week fly-drive holiday with three nights at Jan Harmsgat, three nights at Hog Hollow Country Lodge and three nights at Djuma Bush Lodge from £1,985pp inc international and internal flights on South African Airways, car hire, all meals and game drives while at Djuma Bush Lodge. Info on Fair Trade Tourism in South Africa: fairtourismsa.org.za. Info on Fairtrade Fortnight:fairtrade.org.uk.
South African Safari Lodge Legend
Author: Lucia van der Post | Date posted: January 12, 2008
Lucia’s first experience of Londolozi Safari Lodge was in the early 1980’s when it was still “one of two well-known South African luxury lodges. It was a serious treat, the cherry on the top of five days travelling through the Kruger Park staying in perfectly nice but slightly spartan government lodges.” She recounts the terrifying “Big Black, a black-maned lion that had come in from Kruger Park and who terrified the life out of [her] by rising out of the bushes a metre away from the Land Rover.” She also remembers the many leopards that “Londolozi is famous for” and the excellent “trackers, mostly the sons and now the grandsons of Shangaan hunter-gatherers who know the land as intimately as you and I know our home town.”
Lucia’s recent stay at the Londolozi Safari Lodge allowed her to compare her new experience with that of old. “Almost £1 million has been spent giving the five camps – Tree Camp, Varty Camp, Pioneer Camp, Founders Camp and the plushest of all, the three Granite Suites – a fitting makeover. The work was completed last year.” Lucia describes the “big drama on the lion front with a battle royal waging between the existing pride and some predatory incomers. “The six male lions of the Sparta pride,” Elmon, her tracker tells [her], “that grew up here and moved west are now moving back in and creating chaos. Already they’ve killed four cubs and killed and eaten their father. We’re all waiting to see what happens next.””
Lucia van der Post also describes the owners of the camp, the Varty brothers, vision of the future. “They’re looking for something new. In looking to redefine the safari experience they seem to be taking it down a more spiritual, metaphysical path. Already they offer yoga and massage, a spa and soon “extreme tracking” will be on the menu. This, according to Alex van den Heerden, the Land Manager, will mean “using tracking as a medium to connect people to the earth and as a part of wilderness awareness”. They’re consulting Dr Ian MacCallum, for instance, a psychiatrist who is much inspired by wilderness and its healing properties. He believes that a sense of who we are is linked with a deep historical memory of landscape and that some low-grade depression is a form of “homesickness” for these landscapes. He believes that modern man needs these “journeys to landscapes which feed the soul”.”
Whether you are looking to create a deeper connection with the earth or you wish to spot the “big five”, Lucia concludes that Londolozi is the perfect lodge and its location in the Sabi Sand area, where “its lands are contiguous with the Kruger National Park and is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park,” is ideal as are the newly refurbished rooms.
Rainbow Tours Fact Box
Lucia van der Post travelled with Rainbow Tours (020-7226 1004, www.rainbowtours.co.uk). A three-night stay at Tree Camp costs from £1,580pp. This price includes safari suite accommodation, all game activities, meals, most drinks and Federal Air flights from Johannesburg to Londolozi airstrip. A chalet stay at Varty Camp costs from £1,020pp. Flights to South Africa are not included, but can be arranged.
Cooking in South Africa: get your greedy trunk off my warthog kebabs
The Independent on Sunday
Author: Adrian Mourby | Date posted: August 4, 2007
Adrian Mourby is taught some of the uses of South Africa’s wildlife including the “malaria tree… [and] mopane tree” as he gathers herbs and ingredients from the lodge’s garden. He is told many tales of cooking in the bush, including “squirrels making a smash-and-grab raid on a buffet or a hyena hijacking the meat you've prepared for a barbecue, or, indeed, the impact of baboons on a laundry line of tablecloths.” He notes that “Deliveries take three and half hours from Nelspruit, and when Dumi [the chef] runs out of ingredients he has to improvise” Mourby admires Dumi’s passion and the casual way he treats the “electric wires strung eight feet up across the courtyard…to keep elephants from raiding the storerooms.“
Most of the food made at Ngala Lodge “is South African as the majority of guests come from Johannesburg and Pretoria” although Dumi’s history is a lot more colourful being a descendent of “the Shangani people who revolted against Shaka Zulu in 1819.”
How to get there
South African Airways (0870 747 1111; flysaa.com) offers return flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg from £729. Rainbow Tours (020-7226 1004; rainbowtours.co.uk) offers six nights at Ngala Lodge and Tented Camp with walking and kitchen safaris from £1,205 per person, based on two sharing, including light-aircraft transfers from Johannesburg.