African Safaris Consultants Blog » South Africa http://blog.africansafaris.com Mon, 19 May 2014 08:17:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cape Town Hotels With The Best Mountain Views http://blog.africansafaris.com/cape-town-hotels-best-mountain-views/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cape-town-hotels-best-mountain-views http://blog.africansafaris.com/cape-town-hotels-best-mountain-views/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 11:49:36 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3982 To those that live here, it was no surprise that Cape Town was voted as the number one city to visit in 2014 by the New York Times. With the royal blue Atlantic Ocean lapping at the feet of one of the most iconic mountain ranges in the world, it’s hard to imagine otherwise. Trying to find a hotel with the best mountain views can be an arduous task so we’ve compiled a list of our top five Cape Town hotels with the best Table Mountain views just for you. As an added bonus, some of them even have views of our many sun-kissed shores.

1.     The One Above

The best views of Table Mountain are, without a doubt, from this fine piece of real estate, The Royal Portfolio’s new exclusive use villa located atop of the One & Only Hotel. The double-story penthouse is designed to invite views of the face of Table Mountain, Cape Town’s famous V&A Waterfront and the historic Robben Island from every angle. The mountain is also cleverly framed by the walls of all the penthouse’s suites. The marvellous views of this vibrant city are not the only highlight of this deluxe villa, however, which boasts 4 bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, top of the range gym and 2 rather sizeable swimming pools.

One Above Cape Town

2.     Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa

The aptly-named Twelve Apostles Hotel is tucked snugly in the bosom of one of Cape Town’s most well-known geographical features – the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range. Unlike most hotels in the city, the 15 suites and 55 rooms at the Twelve Apostles Hotel will always give the visitor something to look at. Whether a face-to-face with the western slopes of the majestic mountain or the glimmering and ever-popular Camps Bay coastline, all rooms grant guests sweeping million dollar views. The Twelve Apostles is no secret, having been voted as the best of the best that Cape Town has to offer several times. Local Capetonians have also come to appreciate the stellar quality of the hotel’s Azure Restaurant, often dining here on special occasions, and making use of the facilities at the renowned spa which includes a sauna, hydrotherapy pools and flotation tank.

Twelve Apostles

Tea at the Twelve Apostles.

3.     Boutique Manolo

Boutique Manolo is living proof that size certainly doesn’t matter – especially when your curtains open to breath-taking views of the awe-inspiring Lion’s Head and Cape Town’s Waterfront. Much of this small luxury hotel’s charm lies in its spectacular rooftop which is best visited for sundowners, during which the city’s famous fairy lights sparkle into the night sky and illuminate the brim of the Atlantic Ocean. This Victorian-style hotel is conveniently located only a few minutes’ walk from Cape Town’s bustling city centre and is home to four of the most deluxe hotel suites you’ll find anywhere in the City Bowl.

Boutique Manolo

Boutique Manolo’s stunning balcony view.

4.     The Mount Nelson Hotel

Basking in the glorious shadow of Table Mountain, the Mount Nelson Hotel, or ‘The Nellie’ as it is warmly known by local Capetonians, is a City Bowl institution. Its candy-floss coloured walls greet all those who enter the city centre and direct their gaze to the sandstone giant that lies behind it. Unlike most hotels in the CBD, the Mount Nelson Hotel Cape Town has space on its side, boasting several acres of well-manicured gardens. Those wishing to stay at one of the oldest and best regarded hotels in Cape Town will find such features as spacious and well-designed suites, a luxury spa and the famous High Tea at which guests and visitors alike are treated to the most decadent pastries and sweet treats.

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Mount Nelson with Table Mountain in the background.

5.     The Vineyard Hotel and Spa

While some may think that the Vineyard Hotel is an unusual choice, its distance from the city centre, is in fact, one of its greatest assets. Draped along the slopes of Table Mountain’s eastern range, the Vineyard Hotel is graced with spectacular mountain views and provides a relaxing getaway into the quieter Southern Suburbs. The 200 year-old hotel provides a garden-like atmosphere in which guests can listen to the trickle of gentle waterfalls during the rainy season and watch as the estate’s giant tortoises slowly roam through the garden’s lush greenery. The Vineyard Hotel and Spa also boasts the internationally acclaimed Angsana Spa, as well as two top restaurants, and is located within walking to one of Cape Town’s most upmarket shopping centres, Cavendish Square.

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The pool of the Vineyard Hotel.

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Cape Town is the World Design Capital 2014 http://blog.africansafaris.com/cape-town-world-design-capital-2014/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cape-town-world-design-capital-2014 http://blog.africansafaris.com/cape-town-world-design-capital-2014/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 07:59:29 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3939 Cape Town could just as well be one of many ‘capitals’ of the world with natural beauty, atmosphere, tourism and lifestyle all found in good measure. However, it’s the Mother City’s cutting edge design that has seen it being named World Design Capital of 2014, and with good reason too.

When in Cape Town, inspiration is all around you. Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, the gorgeous coastline heading to Cape Point, Camps Bay – the list goes on and on. Design in nature is everywhere – an inspired ‘hand of God’ – so locals can’t help responding with equal creativity. Since South Africa emerged onto the world stage in 1994, this city has truly grown into a funky, cosmopolitan destination of trendy and resourceful entrepreneurship.

The biennial title of World Design Capital 2014 was awarded to Cape Town by International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid), based on existing infrastructure and facilities, as well as planned initiatives for sustainable efforts to uplift the cityscape through more than 460 activities and projects.

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Cape Town from above.

‘Live Design, Transform Life’ is the motto, and there are four main themes:

  1. African Innovation
  2. Bridging the Divide – design that reconnects the city and reconciles our communities
  3. Today for Tomorrow – sustainable solutions for people and planet
  4. Beautiful Spaces and Things – highlighting architecture, interiors, food, fashion, jewellery and art

Those visiting the city during the course of the year will have a chance to witness many of these exciting projects in action. Some of our favourites include; the Cecile and Boyd Foundation which uplifts dull township neighbourhoods by transforming colourfully decorated shipping containers into classrooms to create safe and visually appealing spaces. Then there is the Maboneng Township Arts Project which uplifts one of Cape Town’s disadvantaged areas, Gugulethu, by turning homes into art galleries.

The township experience is one that all visitors should encounter for a sobering experience of the darker side of South Africa’s developmental background. But there is character too, and Mzoli’s is a famous shebeen (local social venue), where we like to stop for some of the traditional beer and cheer. At Abalimi (the Peoples Garden Centre) we see a greening project (townships are notoriously lacking in parks and trees), where locals are taught to grow food sustainably at home and in community gardens, as well as plant water wise indigenous trees.

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Mzoli’s is a Cape Town institution.

Still on the theme of environmental development of nature, the Oranjezicht City Farm is closer to the city, where a vegetable garden has been developed on a disused bowling green by former head of Cape Town Tourism Sheryl Ozinsky. Sheryl wanted to do something useful with the disused land and give back to the community, which arose out of a project teaching homeless people gardening skills. Also in the area is the District Six Memorialisation project which consists of 6 artists installations that show 14 sights on the heritage tour route. It’s part ‘closure’ for residents of a central city district that were forcibly removed in the apartheid era, dismantling one of Cape Town’s most vibrant and colourful districts.

Then there are the numerous venues, both public initiatives and private commercial business, that demonstrate that impressive momentum of creative arts development in the city, where the visual, architectural, interior design, and plain old quirky converge in a heady mix of ‘Cape Town’ culture – a unique, contemporary Afro-fusion. Truth is one place to start, for a quick coffee in a sci-fi, punk themed interior. Or try the Old Biscuit Mill where you will find the Neighbourhood Market on Saturdays.  It’s perhaps a more refreshing alternative to the well established and colourful (but touristy) Green Market Square, which is somewhat clichéd nowadays.

Oranjezicht City Farm

Oranjezicht City Farm.

Artists can be found in residence at the Woodstock Exchange, converted from a disused warehouse, which is now a vibrant hub including film studios and hip shops selling furniture, paintings, fashion and handbags among other creative handicrafts. Shoppers looking for something unique from this city might find worthwhile choices at the Gold of Africa Museum, for an unparalleled collection of gold jewellery and tribal pieces from all of Africa, and the South African National Gallery for historical and contemporary local art works

For beautiful tableware and lightning visit Hemelhuijs, while those looking for gorgeous, almost Scandinavian looking African products should try the infamous Ebony. Excellent coffee and trendy crafts abound at the Haas Collectiv, while decorative bags have a home at Missibaba. Edgy and ϋber-stylish jewellery can be found at Kirsten Goss – part of a new set of up and coming designers currently flourishing in South Africa’s most forward thinking city.

All of these demonstrate a new generation of artists and crafts people with an entrepreneurial eye to turn Cape Town into something special. Co-operatives have been established for the underprivileged while others are leading the way with their own private businesses – part ingenious, part creative, part zany!

The Old Biscuit Mill

The Old Biscuit Mill.

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Exclusive Use Villas: Our Top 5 Picks http://blog.africansafaris.com/exclusive-villas-our-top-5-south-africa-accommodation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=exclusive-villas-our-top-5-south-africa-accommodation http://blog.africansafaris.com/exclusive-villas-our-top-5-south-africa-accommodation/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 08:09:52 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3923 Travelling with a family or in a small group justifies booking a whole villa that is exclusively dedicated to your party. These self-contained properties are fitted with the finest in security, exclusivity and luxury. For those fortunate enough to stay in these exclusive villas, there’s nothing more satisfying when travelling in Africa than your own private home-away-from-home.

Ideal for family reunions, intimate getaways with friends or a corporate break-away, the five villas we’ve selected come fully equipped for a satisfying stay. All include beautiful pools, dedicated staff, tailor-made meals and, of course, the wild expanses of Africa on your doorstep.

1.   KwaZulu Natal: Thanda’s Villa iZulu

Set amongst the lush wilderness of Northern KwaZulu Natal, Thanda’s Villa iZulu is steeped in Zulu history and is a loving recreation of a kraal fit for kings (Thanda means ‘love’ in Zulu). It was recently voted ‘Africa’s Leading Luxury Villa’ at the World Travel Awards and is a premier choice for accommodation in South Africa. With 1,000 square meters under thatched roof, this villa has a heated pool, private viewing deck and boma (enclosure), library, wine cellar and games room for the kids. Originally built for a big family, the children’s needs are top of mind. It occupies prime position in a private game reserve and even boasts a helipad and VIP security. Thanda is actively involved in conservation and wildlife research and through the ‘Star for Life’ Project and other projects they are actively working to uplift the local communities. This is Big Five game viewing at its best whilst traversing through more than 14,000 ha of wilderness.

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Villa iZulu is set in the lush hills of the Zulu Kingdom.

2.   Sabi Sands: Lion Sands 1933 Lodge

Originally built as the private home of the More family, the Lion Sands 1933 Lodge has a homely and personalised atmosphere. Here since their great grandfather Guy Aubrey Chalkley first set up camp eighty years ago, it sits beside the Sabi River with commanding views over the bush and private reserve. With an intriguing blend of contemporary and historic design, the lodge has four suites, a children’s dormitory (sleeps 8) and a wonderful family lounge with crackling fireplace. The large pool will impress the kids and keep them busy for hours. For animal lovers, Lion Sands is one of the premier locations in the country for encounters with the Big Five on safari drives in open 4×4 vehicles led by experienced game rangers.

Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands enjoys a reputation for incredible leopard sightings.

3.   Hermanus: Grootbos Villa   

This famous whale watching town, an hour’s drive from Cape Town, is a weekender favourite with Cape Town locals. Nestled between clifftop walks, long sandy beaches and an impressive mountain range Hermanus is the ideal place for a family gathering or a week of relaxing with your friends. Just outside the coastal town is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve – one of the jewels of the Cape Floral Kingdom. The villa at Grootbos affords you privacy in pristine nature, with a secure and comfortable villa in a contemporary style. Decorated by celebrated local artists, and equipped with a full compliment of mod-cons (including private chef), the villa at Grootbos is the perfect destination for a family trip during the October Whale Watching Festival.

4.   Cape Town: Ellerman House Villas (Villa Two)

This private villa overlooking Camps Bay is the ultimate in Cape Town villas and is decked out with fabulous interiors, style and an enviable art collection. From the main modernist suite – with unbelievable views of the Atlantic Ocean – to the perfect symmetry of the infinity pool, this brainchild of up-and-coming architect Michael Dennett oozes style. Ellerman House is within walking distance of the beach and just a short hop over Kloof Nek into the vibrant Cape Town City Bowl. Adjacent is the historic building of Ellerman House, and together they epitomise the glamour of Clifton’.

Ellerman House

Imagine waking up to this incredible view at Ellerman House!

5.   Waterberg:  Ants Nest, World’s View

Located in the remote northern hills of South Africa, World’s View at Ant’s Nest is the ultimate bush lodge for young families. As the names suggests, the lodge boasts commanding views of the surrounding area from the ridge on which it sits. Easily accessible from Johannesburg, World’s View is an affordable alternative with great value for money. Game viewing is good in the area and giraffe, kudu, eland and zebra are frequently seen. While the wildlife catches the eye, and the kids are kept busy out in nature, the real highlights are the incredible views – best enjoyed from the deck or private balcony of the master suite. You really get to appreciate the remote and beautiful wilderness of Africa in a fun and unpretentious manner.

Ants Nest

A stay at Ants Nest will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.

For more images, check out our ‘Top 5 Exclusive Villas in South Africa’ Pinterest board.

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The Rhino Poaching Crisis: Colin Bell talks Statistics and Solutions http://blog.africansafaris.com/rhino-poaching-crisis-colin-bell-talks-statistics-solutions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rhino-poaching-crisis-colin-bell-talks-statistics-solutions http://blog.africansafaris.com/rhino-poaching-crisis-colin-bell-talks-statistics-solutions/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 15:23:44 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3760 Over the course of the last two or three years, the plight of African rhinos has become an issue of international concern. With Eastern demand for rhino horn products seemingly ever increasing, the numbers of rhinos poached annually is skyrocketing to potentially fatal levels –but what is actually being done about it? The Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) – of which we are a member – recently hosted an informative presentation by renowned wildlife activist Colin Bell about just that. What follows is a synopsis of Mr. Bell’s extremely enlightening presentation.

Colin Bell is a longtime proponent of sustainable ecotourism and has several decades of experience under his belt in his various capacities at Wilderness Safaris and Great Plains Conservation. Now a fulltime conservation activist, Colin has used his extensive network and skillset to highlight African issues such as community development, poaching and habitat loss. His real passion though is the preservation of the African White and Black rhino – an animal for which he has a deep affinity.

The figures are truly staggering. In 2014, there is an estimated maximum of 25 000 rhinos left in the wild and this number could be inflated by as much as 5000. At present, we are losing over a thousand rhinos per year and climbing. Just a month or so ago, Mozambique lost their very last wild rhino to poaching. There are no more wild rhinos in Mozambique. That sentence is one we do not want to ever repeat for other African countries, and it could apply to South Africa in as little as five years time…

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Colin Bell presents on the decline of rhinos due to poaching.

At this stage you are probably wondering why are more people buying rhino horns? What has changed in the last three years? The answers to these questions are multifaceted and encompass both social and cultural considerations. Firstly, there has been an incredible growth of the Asian middleclass. This has lead to greater demand for substances that were previously the preserve of the elite – such as rhino horn, which is believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Secondly, there was an unsubstantiated claim made in Vietnam that rhino horn has cancer-fighting abilities. These two factors have sent demand sky high. In fact a recent WWF survey determined that while 5% of the population in Vietnam’s biggest cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are currently using rhino horn products, a whopping 16% still aspire to. Scary stuff indeed!

The trade of illicit rhino horn is big business. The estimated street value of the horns from poached rhinos in 2013 exceeds three billion Rand. That money is being used to finance militias, to buy arms and to fund terrorism. The recent terror attacks in Kenya were committed by an organization that derives almost all its funding from rhino horn trade. This is a global issue, not just an African one.

All throughout Africa, some of the poorest communities live on the fringes of pristine wilderness and national parks. They have become increasingly marginalized and do not see enough benefit from tourism and conservation to actively pursue it. Little wonder then that they turn to poaching as a means to support their family. In South Africa, 60-80% of the illegal rhino horn passes through Mozambique right through these very same ‘fringe’ communities.

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We need to preserve these beautiful animals while we still can.

Having played his part in several successful rhino reintroductions in Botswana and Namibia, Colin has now shifted focus to South Africa – a country where 80% of all African rhinos are located.  He envisions a scenario such as that in Damaraland, Namibia, where reintroduced rhino now freely roam across thousands of kilometers without being poached. The reason for this is that the local communities are stakeholders in the project and it is in their interests to ensure the rhinos conservation. It is this sort of ‘holistic’ approach that we need to implement in South Africa.

Colin proposes a number of solutions that, when implemented together, have a real chance of combatting not just rhino horn trade, but illegal wildlife trade generally. These are:

  • Integrate communities: The communities around national parks need to be consulted and considered. Their lives need to improve in order for any real change to be lasting and effective,
  • Make use of technical advancements: The United States military has developed an incredibly advanced mobile field unit that is capable of observing areas as large as 50 hectares. This technology is capable of identifying animals, humans and even weapons from incredible distances. Costing $1million each, they’re not cheap, but they are obtainable.
  • International lobbying and diplomacy: With enough pressure, changes will be made. Chinese demand for shark fin almost halved recently when the Chinese government took shark fin soup off all official menus due to international pressure.
  • Establish a National Capital Tourism Fund: Colin proposes that an extra 1% be added to all tourism related fees and that that money goes towards National conservation endeavors.

Although the situation is dire, it is not yet critical. There are positive developments being made – this talk to key stakeholders in the South African tourism industry being just one example. Colin and his team are mobilizing and a movement is building. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as we join forces to keep our wildlife around for many generations to come.

White Rhino & Calf

White Rhino & Calf

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Press Release: Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond join forces to translocate 100 rhino. http://blog.africansafaris.com/press-release-great-plains-conservation-beyond-join-forces-translocate-100-rhino/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=press-release-great-plains-conservation-beyond-join-forces-translocate-100-rhino http://blog.africansafaris.com/press-release-great-plains-conservation-beyond-join-forces-translocate-100-rhino/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 11:32:02 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3632 With rhino poaching at an all-time high in South Africa, two of Africa’s leading conservation companies, Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond, have joined forces to safely translocate up to 100 rhino from South Africa to the safe haven of Botswana.

“There is a battle for Africa’s wildlife raging as we speak. Rhinos are being poached at a rate of one every nine hours and the official number is 1 004 dead in 2013 alone. The unofficial number, because we simply do not find them all, is well over 1 000. Like everyone, I’ve been watching this desperate situation worsen, which is why Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond have decided to take action. This is not a Great Plains Conservation project or an &Beyond one, it is a global one that we can all play a role in, small and large. I don’t believe in branded conservation — it needs to be something we all get behind to save a species,” says Dereck Joubert, Great Plains CEO.

White Rhino & Calf

White Rhino & Calf

“Botswana has an excellent security system in place to protect these endangered animals and will be a safe haven for the relocated rhino. Translocations are fundamental to secure the ongoing survival of endangered species and this groundbreaking project aims to protect the species for future generations to enjoy. A project this size requires a strong partnership and a huge resource pool to pull it off. We are therefore very pleased to be joining forces with Great Plains Conservation for this mass translocation. We share the same mission and operating ethos and together we believe we can make this happen,” says Joss Kent, &Beyond CEO.

Having successfully translocated six rhino from South Africa to Botswana last year, &Beyond’s conservation team will lend its expertise to the project. Up to 100 rhino will be captured and safely transported from South Africa and released in Botswana’s remote wilderness. Each rhino will be tagged and microchipped for research and monitoring purposes. A dedicated anti-poaching team will then work in conjunction with the Botswana government agencies to monitor the animals using the latest technology.

A rhino relocation in progress.

A rhino relocation in progress.

This operation will cost USD8 million and both Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond will announce specific fundraising initiatives to enable tourism stakeholders, travel partners, tour operators and guests to help save this iconic species and ensure Africa’s Big Five remains for future generations to enjoy.

The battle to save the rhino from extinction won’t be won tomorrow; however, with joint initiatives such as this, the battle won’t be lost tomorrow either.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Hilton Walker

T. +27 (13) 7502005 | M. +27 (82) 5799055

hilton@greatplainsconservation.com

Twitter @ZerosForRhinos

 

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GoPro: Lions – The New Endangered Species? http://blog.africansafaris.com/gopro-lions-new-endangered-species/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gopro-lions-new-endangered-species http://blog.africansafaris.com/gopro-lions-new-endangered-species/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 10:30:55 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3521 Kevin Richardson – aka The Lion Whisperer – is a South African ‘self-taught’ zoologist with a particular affinity for big predators like lions and hyenas. Beginning his career as a 22 year old assistant on a lion reserve outside Johannesburg, South Africa, Kevin quickly realised his passion and unique ability to connect with the animals in a way that few others can. Ever since those days in his formative early 20s, Kevin has worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of wild predators in Africa and campaign for their conservation. He is world-renowned on the internet for a series of clips showing him seemingly disregarding personal safety concerns, and embracing wild lions who rush to greet him as if common house cats.

Kevin teamed up with GoPro for the video below and we think you’ll agree that the result is pretty special indeed. Enjoy!

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Client Images: Sabi Sand Lions Bonding http://blog.africansafaris.com/client-images-sabi-sand-lions-bonding/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=client-images-sabi-sand-lions-bonding http://blog.africansafaris.com/client-images-sabi-sand-lions-bonding/#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 13:43:16 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3436 Past clients Darren Zipperer and Patrick Richardson recently enjoyed some time at the beautiful Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park, where they happened upon some adult male lions thoroughly enjoying some bonding time. They sent us the images and we just had to share them with you…

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A Weekend at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve http://blog.africansafaris.com/weekend-grootbos-private-nature-reserve/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=weekend-grootbos-private-nature-reserve http://blog.africansafaris.com/weekend-grootbos-private-nature-reserve/#comments Fri, 20 Sep 2013 17:43:01 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3361 A couple months ago I received an email from Grootbos Private Nature Reserve inviting me to spend a weekend there to check out just how one of South Africa’s preeminent ecolodges goes about its business. I gave it a cursory glance, flagged the email without much thought and carried on with my day. Fast forward a couple months and I decided to take them up on their kind offer after our Safari Guru Jeff enthused to me just how special a place it is. A few friendly emails later and I was fully booked and ready to experience Grootbos for myself…

Grootbos is a privately owned nature reserve of some 2500 hectares located just under two hours outside of Cape Town. Home to an incredible 765 completely indigenous plant species, it is one of South Africa’s most awarded Private Nature Reserves, with honours in categories such as Best Ecological Safari, Best Community Safari and Most Innovative Retreat to name but a few. It also has the distinction of recently being named amongst the world’s Top 10 land-based destinations to watch whales. With such an abundance of natural beauty, it’s fitting that every aspect of Grootbos has been carefully designed to enhance the magnificent surroundings.

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The entrance to Grootbos is indicative of what lies ahead.

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Forest Lodge.

My friend and I arrived on a cold and windy Friday afternoon, eager to get out the city and soak up the tranquil atmosphere of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Our first encounter with Grootbos was at the security gate where the friendly staff asked for our name to confirm whether we were booked in at the Forest or Garden Lodge (we stayed at the former), and then wished us a pleasant stay. We got the impression straight away that smiling faces were to be the norm over the next few days. After finishing our delicious welcome drink and planning our weekend’s activity schedule, we were eager to check out our room.

Walking from the main building of Forest Lodge – which houses reception, a curio shop, the dining hall, bar and reading deck – to the individual villas, one gets a real sense of the isolation of the place. For as far as the eyes can see, there is nothing but fynbos (the indigenous vegetation of the region) and ocean. The air is clean, fresh and accented by the early scents of Spring blossoming. The sense of peace and tranquility is tangible, and one begins to relax and unwind even before reaching your front door.

The villas at Forest Lodge are unmistakably modern, yet surprisingly unobtrusive – instead letting the natural beauty of their surrounds be the focus of attention. Interior finishes are of a very high quality, and the rooms are tastefully furnished and welcoming. The real highlight though is not the luxurious bed, the well stocked fireplace or the massive bathtub – what sets the rooms at Grootbos apart are the views. They are incredible! We spent a good part of the evening just watching the amazing sunset from our deck, as the brilliant purple and pink hues bounced off the ocean and blanketed the seemingly endless horizon of fynbos. It was pretty special indeed.

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The view from the master bedroom.

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The sunset from Friday evening was spectacular.

After marvelling at the sunset for a good while, we set about starting a fire in the lounge’s fireplace and readied ourselves for dinner. The dining area at Forest Lodge is at the end of the building, which means you walk past a good few friendly staff members on the way – all of whom go out of their way to greet you and wish you a pleasant stay or an enjoyable meal. We exchanged greetings with all of them and made our way to a window-facing table, eager to satisfy our rumbling stomachs. While we had heard that the food at Grootbos was good, we were not prepared for just how good…

Though I’ve been fortunate to eat at some respected five star restaurants around the world, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a meal as much as I enjoyed that first dinner. Freshly baked rolls and farm fresh butter were followed by an amuse bouche of crispy roasted duck, a delicious potato and leek soup, a refreshing lime, lemon and mint sorbet palate cleanser, beef fillet cooked to perfection, and a decadent dessert of a chocolate brownie with apricot ice cream – both homemade of course. All the food served at Grootbos is organic and either grown on site or ethically sourced from local organic/free range suppliers. And all of it is incredible! With stomachs supremely satisfied, we lazily walked back to our villa and settled in for a good nights sleep.

We awoke on Saturday morning to the sound of the wind gusting outside at a rate of knots, while completely sheltered in the warm, soft embrace of our luxurious beds. After some coffee and a hot shower, we braved the inclement weather and made our way to the dining area with much excitement. Breakfast at Grootbos is just as special an occasion as dinner! A ‘cold buffet’ of cereals and grains, freshly baked muffins, croissants and breads, cold meats, cheeses and fresh organic fruit lay tantalisingly laid out upon our arrival. The hot breakfast is a la carte and features the traditional English, Grootbos Eggs Benedict and various other options. We both opted for the Eggs Benedict and it was honestly one of the best I’ve ever had.

Unfortunately the rain meant that certain outdoor activities were cancelled, so we headed back to our room to enjoy the fireplace and a good book. With the rain continuing to fall outside, we could not have been happier than we were next to the fireplace, sipping on tea. Even in winter, Grootbos is the ideal destination to go to relax. Although we were doing something we could’ve done at home, the atmosphere and ambience at Grootbos is so conducive to relaxation that an hour spent reading there is the rejuvenating equivalent of three spent elsewhere. Before we knew it it was time for another Grootbos meal – probably the only thing that could’ve pried us from our warm couch. I’ll let the menu in the picture below do all the talking for me this time.

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Grootbos Eggs Benedict.

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Saturday’s lunch menu.

While staying indoors reading all weekend is a perfectly good option, Grootbos prides itself on its extensive list of available activities – most of which are included. The inclement weather put a (literal) damper on a few of them, but we were fortunate enough to partake in two of them – horseback riding and a Social Responsibility Tour. First up was a relaxed horseback ride through the fynbos, around the two lodges, and back again. The horses at Grootbos are all extremely well looked after and very used to people, so they’re perfectly suited to an absolute novice like myself. The ride was incredibly enjoyable and offered a unique perspective on the natural beauty that surrounds the lodge.  

Our next activity was the Social Responsibility Tour, which really represents the essence of Grootbos. With a horticultural college/nursery and organic farm on the reserve’s premises, Grootbos is passionate about giving back to the community. Both the nursery and the farm take in 10 local community members each year and educate them on topics including organic farming, soil science, horticulture and sustainability. They also receive driving lessons and share in the profits of the produce that they sell back to Grootbos itself. At the end of the year they leave with a certificate in horticulture, a driver’s license, and vastly improved reading and writing skills. Newly qualified and skilled, they are either quickly employed by local farmers or they start working their way up the ranks at Grootbos. It is sustainable ecotourism at its finest, and was truly refreshing to see.

All said, we could not find a single fault with our entire Grootbos experience. The staff were extremely friendly, the accommodation superb, the food exceptional, the surrounds pristine and the goodwill palpable. I cannot wait to go back!

Grootbos Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

For more pictures of our time at Grootbos, check out our Google + gallery here.

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Riding through the fynbos.

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The indigenous nursery and classroom.

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Main building, Forest Lodge.

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Cape Town Honours Nelson Mandela http://blog.africansafaris.com/cape-town-honours-nelson-mandela/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cape-town-honours-nelson-mandela http://blog.africansafaris.com/cape-town-honours-nelson-mandela/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:37:57 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3309 The City of Cape Town has recently installed a popup tribute to the iconic Mr Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first democratically elected President – honouring the former statesman and his longtime affiliation with the city. Situated in Cape Town’s Civic Centre, the exhibition is hugely informative whilst still being visually appealing and inspirational. Containing rare photographs of Mr Mandela with various celebrities, dignitaries and children, facts about his life,  well-known quotations and video recordings of some of his landmark moments, one cannot help but feel a great sense of pride and respect. The impact that Madiba has had on the world is nothing short of remarkable and the City’s homage to the great man is suitably fitting.

“As I was preparing to meet Nelson Mandela I considered that his reputation was in fact larger than anyone else’s. But only in this case was the individual much larger than the reputation.” – The Dalai Lama.

The Nelson Mandela exhibition runs until July 2014 and is free to the public during the hours of 10.00 – 16.00 (including public holidays). The Civic Centre is located at 12 Hertzog Boulevard.

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The collection of rare photographs are heartwarming.

The collection of rare photographs are heartwarming.

The exhibition is filled with inspirational quotes from the great man.

The exhibition is filled with inspirational quotes from the great man.

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Top 5 Lodges for a South African Wine Safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/top-5-lodges-for-a-south-african-wine-safari/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=top-5-lodges-for-a-south-african-wine-safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/top-5-lodges-for-a-south-african-wine-safari/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 05:01:25 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3270 Renowned global wine authority, Wine Spectator, features South Africa in their July 2013 issue and we couldn’t be more pleased. We’ve long said that South African wines are amongst the very best in the world, with the country producing wines of equal or greater quality as established producers such as the United States, Australia and France. With the majority of South Africa’s wine lands located just outside Cape Town – where our South African office is located – it’s safe to say that we’re quite familiar with them. In celebration of this honour, we thought we’d put together some of our favourite lodges who boast exceptional cellars for the wine enthusiast on safari in Africa’s wine headquarters.

1. Singita Boulders

Located in the private Sabi Sands concession in the Kruger National Park, world famous Singita Boulders has one of the best cellars in South Africa and counts some 35 000 bottles in it’s inventory. Sip on a cold chardonnay while relaxing in your private plunge pool overlooking the African bush, and, if you really enjoy that particular tipple, there is a well stocked wine boutique on site for purchasing your favourite(s).

A wine lover's heaven!

A wine lover’s heaven!

2. Honeyguide Mantobeni

Another concession in the Kruger National Park, the Manyaleti Private Game Reserve’s Honeyguide Mantobeni combines colonial inspired interior design with an authentic African safari experience under canvas. Their climate controlled wine cellar houses a vast selection of South Africa’s very best wines, which are expertly paired with the freshly prepared meals of the day for an all round gastronomic treat.

The pride of Mantobeni.

The pride of Mantobeni.

3. Royal Malewane

Located in the Thornybush Game Reserve, just outside the Kruger National Park, Royal Malewane is an exclusive getaway for the discerning safari enthusiast. With a maximum of 20 guests at a time, the camp oozes luxurious splendour – which is mirrored by it’s superb wine cellar.

The perfect spot for an evening glass of wine.

The perfect spot for an evening glass of wine.

4. Ulusaba

Part of the Virgin Group of Companies, Ulusaba Safari Lodge offers the quintessential safari experience with the lodge located on a hill surrounded by the African bush for as far as the eye can see. With Sir Richard Branson having personally overseen all the important details, guests can rest assured that the cellar houses an impressive collection of some of his personal favourites.

Ulusaba Safari Lodge has incredible views to sip to.

Ulusaba Safari Lodge has incredible views to sip to.

5. The Cape Winelands

While the title of this article is the Top 5 wine lodges in South Africa, it would be remiss to not mention their source – The Cape Winelands. Boasting award-winning cuisines, exceptionally high quality wines, and some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world, the Cape Winelands are well worth a visit. From Stellenbosch – one of the oldest towns in South Africa – to culinary capital Franschoek, the winelands are all within an easy hours drive outside Cape Town and make for a perfect way to spend a sunny Cape day.

Pierneef in Franschoek .

Pierneef in Franschoek .

If you’d like to experience some of the best wines in the world in South Africa for yourself, Contact Us to make it happen.

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