Perhaps the biggest quandary in designing Southern African safaris is how to choose from the numerous outstanding hotels, private lodges, camps and reserves. There are, quite simply, a dizzying number of utterly worthy places, but Quintessential South Africa does it level best to do it all, immersing travellers in rarified luxury and breathtaking natural beauty during a customized, once-in-a-lifetime itinerary curated by Micato’s experts.
During 11 glorious days, time will be well spent experiencing the wonders in and around Cape Town, where we’ll take in the city and its environs while staying at the urbane One&Only Resort. We’ll discover the wildlife of Cape Peninsula National Park and the thousands of African penguins of False Bay and make time to meander through the purple vineyards, lush green farms, and cobblestone villages of the Cape Winelands.
The aforementioned natural beauty continues within Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, where we might gaze at horticultural wonders by foot and horseback during a “flower safari,” spy ocean life by boat, overnighting at a private stone cottage, Grootbos Forest Lodge. Also making our list of quintessential experiences are visits to the energetic metropolis of Johannesburg and Manyeleti Private Game Reserve, where we’ll ogle the Big 5 and get away to a gorgeous bush lodge, Tintswalo.
Touch down Africa. Cape Town International Airport. The journey begins!
By special arrangement, you are met by a Micato representative immediately as you deplane and are personally escorted through baggage claim and customs procedures. Our Guides are on hand to seamlessly whisk you to your awaiting room at Cape Town’s famed One&Only, where you may catch up on rest and recalibrate for the adventures ahead.
As we drive through Cape Town, we’ll bear witness to the most picturesque city in all of Africa, with a breathtaking coastline, glamorous nightlife, decadent restaurants, and natural beauty.
Sheltered beneath the familiar shape of Table Mountain, Cape Town is the birthplace of modern South Africa as well as a historic port with a vital role in overseas trade between Europe and the East. Perhaps the most picturesque city in all of Africa, Cape Town presides over a coastline of stunning grandeur, mountains rising above the seashore, and romantic, outlying vineyards whose proprietors have been practising the art of winemaking since the 18th century.
Cape Town is home to the best of everything—museums, restaurants, hotels, and natural beauty. The recent addition of a convention centre, film studios, theatres, and a number of new business establishments are evidence of the tremendous expansion the city has undergone in the last few years. And thankfully, such progress hasn’t tarnished Cape Town’s old world appeal. It has the aura of a place where adventures begin—including your own!
Cape Peninsula National Park is truly stunning—walking trails, low hills, and wide beaches—and a surprising variety of wildlife congregates here: eland, ostrich, bontebok and baboons, among others. Cape Point offers a viewing platform that looks out to False Bay and the Hottentots Holland Mountains. As we hear the stories of this fascinating place—ghosts from centuries of shipwrecks said to inhabit the shores—we marvel at its beauty as well.
We stroll this area, and then motor to nearby False Bay—home to almost 3,000 African penguins which congregate amidst the rounded rocks and fish-filled bay. It is one of the few sites where this fascinating bird (Spheniscus demersus) can be observed at close range, wandering freely in a protected natural environment.
Some of the most beautiful—and bountiful—countryside in the world awaits you in the Cape Winelands. Rolling purple vineyards, lush green farms, and charming cobblestone villages are all cupped in the protective foothills of the surrounding craggy mountains. The food and wine in this small pocket of land is some of the best in the world… the crisp mountain air practically demands it!
Life in the Cape Winelands moves at a different pace than the rest of the world. Leisurely, spend the day doing as much or as little as you desire. Thus the key ingredient for enjoyment is to go at your own pace as you explore vast vineyards and farms—stopping perhaps for a wine tasting here, a farm-to-table meal there, or a chance to roam around the estate of a grand manor-house or the cobbled streets of a Cape Dutch village.
A delightful morning drive along the coast and we arrive at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve whose
resplendent natural surroundings leave us, quite simply, in stunned awe.
The reserve is the largest private fynbos (shrub land vegetation) conservation area in the world—its beauty leaves many speechless. The flora here ranges from the dazzling and protected Fynbos (the smallest and rarest of earth’s six plant kingdoms) to an ancient Milkwood forest. Days here are spent with botanists, horticulturalists and marine biologists. The beauty of this area, combined with the amount of activities available, is truly stunning.
Accommodations are provided in stone cottages at Grootbos Forest Lodge, each with its own secluded balcony from which you can admire the sunsets over the ocean, or start the day in tune with the forest birds. Original hand painted floral and bird themes bring the harmony of nature into your cottage. Spacious, finely appointed bathrooms complete the feeling of utter luxury. Strolling between your cottage and the main lodge, winding pathways will guide you past all the colours and scents of the garden.
Splashing in the ocean, spying whales, dolphins and sea lions from onboard a seafaring boat… the activities are nearly endless. Another captivating activity unique to this area is a flower safari, a fascinating exploration of the rare local fynbos. Your guide not only teaches us what the plants are and why they are significant, but also how they’re used by the locals.
There is opportunity for further exploration at Grootbos itself. Maybe we explore a deserted beach, discovering nearby tidal rock pools as a specialist guide regales us with tales of early inhabitants of this area, and of the shipwrecks along this fabled coast. Or we visit a stone-age coastal cave known as Klipgat Cave, the home of Middle Stone Age peoples some 70,000 to 80,000 years ago. Signs of their inhabitance still remain, which we see as we explore with our expert guide. Experience the beauty of the fynbos from horseback, surrounded by the flowers and birds unique to the mountains of the Southern Cape coast.
Here we have a chance to be intimately connected to the people through the lodge’s work with the local community. Visit the vocational school set up to train horticulturalists from local townships and villages, see the newly built local sports complex, and meet the hard-working people that have made this all possible.
And of course, families of all countries and ages speak the same language: soccer. The South African children at the local sports complex will gladly welcome visiting children into a game. While the kids run across the green shouting and laughing with their newfound friends, adults will be happy to sit back with a cooling beverage and a delightful view of the sea beyond.
We’ll enjoy the morning at Grootbos and then drive to Cape Town Airport to board the flight to Johannesburg. Arriving late this afternoon we are assisted with check-in at the Airport InterContinental Hotel.
Situated within walking distance from the terminals at Johannesburg International Airport, this deluxe hotel has drawn its inspiration from the African continent, capturing the culture and spirit of Africa through the use of simple shapes and symbolic artifacts to create an African environment in a contemporary setting.
Relaxation facilities include a massage facility, a fully equipped gym with steam baths as well as an indoor heated swimming pool which has a panoramic view across the Johannesburg skyline.
This morning we board our flight to the private Manyeleti Game Reserve.
The area is renowned for the big five, abundant antelope and birdlife and an incredible diversity of smaller animals. Rangers attest to the fact that this region boasts a greater density of wildlife than anywhere else on the continent. In terms of scenic beauty and diversity, the region is no doubt one of the most exceptional regions of the Kruger National Park.
Tintswalo is a Shangaan word meaning ‘intangible feeling of love, gratitude, or peace’, a sentiment the lodge staff extends to each of its valued guests.
The air-conditioned guest suites are positioned along the seasonal Nwaswitsontso River, presenting views of a waterhole below a majestic Sycamore grove and the wildlife it attracts. The suites are classically decorated to evoke the era of 19th century African exploration. They feature an indoor/outdoor shower in a spacious bathroom, which opens onto a private deck.
The lodge complex includes a dining area, wine cellar, library, and comfortable fireside lounge – all connected to the guest suites by raised wooden walkways. There is also a luxurious spa on site that offers a range of treatments to relax the body and mind.
Take to the rugged bush in a vehicle or on foot, and discover an incredible diversity of species…lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo are just the beginning of what we’ll see. Days here start, like safaris of yore, with coffee and snacks in bed, then an early morning game drive followed by a leisurely breakfast.
Thereafter, we can bask in the luxury of the camp or set out on a nature walk or village visit before lunch is served. An afternoon game drive and sundowners follow the sumptuous high tea, culminating in a night drive in search of exciting nocturnal game.
Bush breakfasts and sunset cocktails may be arranged for you in some of the most scenic spots in the reserve, or you may dine in the privacy of your deck. This may just be the most romantic spot in the world.
Awestruck by the diverse grandeur of South Africa, we admire its wilds one last time and fly to Johannesburg. A dayroom has been reserved for your comfort at the Airport InterContinental Hotel.
As you wing away this evening you recall your splendid sojourn—wilderness and wildlife, villages and cities—your fondest safari memory may very well be the warmth and kindness of the African people. Be assured that you live in their memories too, and all of us look forward to welcoming you back to Micato’s Africa someday….
Land Arrangements, Per Person (2019)
(Rate does not include international airfare)
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