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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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