Top Experiences – South Africa

February 25th 2019  |   Travel, South Africa  |  by   Charlotte Opperman
Top Experiences South Africa

It’s little wonder that South Africa is often referred to as a ‘world in one country’ with its spectacular, wildlife-filled national parks and reserves, white-sand beaches and sophisticated cities. The Aardvark Safaris’ team has explored far and wide and we always return with another little gem from the land that really does have a bit of everything. Here are some of the latest:

Lucinda – Darting and notching rhino at Kwandwe

Playing a small part in the rhino conservation programme at Kwandwe still gives me goose bumps. Only in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be in the position to give a penicillin injection to a young rhino. Watching mother and calf trot off into the distance after the vets and conservationists (and me) had finished their work was a truly extraordinary experience.

Rhino Conservation group at Kwandwe

Rhino Conservation group at Kwandwe

Stay at luxurious Kwandwe and join a rhino darting outing

Stay at luxurious Kwandwe Ecca Lodge and join a rhino darting outing

Jess – Whale watching at Cliff Lodge, Hermanus

This property is such an exceptional find, with views stretching out in both directions across the Atlantic Ocean. I switched from small binoculars to the wonderful telescope on the deck of the Ocean Suite as I watched two whale families crossing the horizon – babies constantly jumping and leaping whilst the mothers peacefully grazed the surface of the water.

Enjoy wonderful land-based whale watching from Cliff Lodge

Enjoy wonderful land-based whale watching from Cliff Lodge

Lucinda –  lions,  cheetah, black and white rhino and a wildebeest all at once whilst at Phinda

There are moments in Africa when you have to check yourself and ask is this really happening? One such was at Phinda where, after watching two beautiful male lions we moved off, all of 50 metres, and found a cheetah with her five sub-adult cubs, still in clear sight of the lions. We parked to watch the cheetah, keeping an eye on the lion, and to our amazement both black and white rhino strolled past. A lone wildebeest decided to investigate too – although that soon retreated when it spotted the lion. Pure magic.

Magnificent lion at Phinda

Magnificent lion at Phinda

Alice – Diving with dolphins at Thonga Beach Lodge

Before I dived here I had always been with other people on a reef. So to have miles of coast and every reef to ourselves was lovely. Being joined by dolphins was just the icing on the cake. The water was clear and they obviously wanted to be around us – utterly brilliant.

Miles of pristine coastline to explore – above and below the water – at Thonga Beach Lodge

Miles of pristine coastline to explore – above and below the water – at Thonga Beach Lodge

Richard – off the grid finds

Many of the trips I take now are to see places that aren’t in most guidebooks. This was certainly the case with Marataba, an area that had been promoted to us since the early 2000’s, but somewhere none of us had been. I was so glad I did finally make it since its scenery, wildlife and camps are all fantastic – loving an analogy I described them as ‘Champagne properties for a prosecco price’ in my report for the rest of the team.

Wonderful scenery, camps and safari activities at Marataba

Wonderful scenery, camps and safari activities at Marataba

Rosanna – Cape Town like a local

Instead of turning east down the Cape’s famous Garden Route coastline many Capetonians will set off west to the traditional fishing village of Paternoster. Under two hours from ‘the mother city’ and off the tourist trail it’s a local favourite for very good reason. It’s the sort of place to kick off your shoes and soak up the natural beauty, to kayak in search of penguins or dolphins, or simply walk along the shore. Among several charming guest houses and hotels is the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel. Tucked away on a quiet corner of the beach and surrounded by nature reserve, the minimalist design and sweeping floor to ceiling glass manages to bring the outside into the 13 rooms here. It’s the perfect place to relax pre or post a busy few days in Cape Town.

Standloper Hotel, tucked away gem in Paternoster

Strandloper Hotel, tucked away gem in Paternoster

Lucinda – In the thick of the action

Lovely Tanda Tula Camp is a firm favourite and its status as such was reinforced on a recent return visit. Lions squabbling over a kill right next to our vehicle was memorably noisy on one evening game drive, with the roars and growling only increasing as the light faded. A scenic helicopter flight the following morning was a great way to try and understand the sheer scale of the area and wildlife spotting from the air is always fun.

Always plenty going on at lovely Tanda Tula Camp

Always plenty going on at lovely Tanda Tula Camp

Alice – Watching my children ride with a rhino at Ant’s Nest

I quite unexpectedly burst into tears when I watched my children ride within a very short distance of a mother and suckling rhino calf. Having worked to raise money for rhino conservation and also campaigned in Hong Kong, it was an experience I felt very honoured to share with them. I very much hope they can do the same in 30 years’ time.

Riding with rhino at Ant’s Nest in the malaria free Waterberg region

Riding with rhino at Ant’s Nest in the malaria free Waterberg region

Any questions?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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