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A road trip through South Africa’s natural highlights
Your holiday in South Africa starts in the sensational coastal city of Cape Town, before moving on to explore the world-class wineries of nearby Stellenbosch. After some days in the bright city lights of these popular towns, you’ll move on to explore the Garden Route, where spectacular coastal scenery and unique wildlife, such as ostriches and forest elephants, await you. Finally, you end your trip in luxury with a stay at Shamwari Private Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve
The Garden Route
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Cape Town is one of the world’s most distinct and beautiful cities. A coastal city on the west coast of South Africa, Cape Town is sandwiched between the Atlantic ocean on one side and the imposing Table Mountain on the other. The most well-known attraction here may be the cable car that takes you up to the top of Table Mountain where superb views over Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean await you. Numerous world-class museums are also on hand here, such as the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the District 6 Museum and the Robben Island Museum – the former prison home of Nelson Mandela. A visit to the colourful Bo Kapp district and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens as well as the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Market are all must-do activities as well - definitely a town that requires a longer stay!
One of South Africa’s biggest attractions (outside of wildlife safaris) are the wineries of the Cape Winelands, of which, Stellenbosch is perhaps the crown jewel. Showcasing wonderful, Dutch colonial architecture and streets lined with oak trees, it is a wonderfully peaceful and picturesque town. Stellenbosch is surrounded by world-class wineries and you’ll want to spend several days here to properly explore (and taste) the region. The town itself is relatively small so it is easily explored on foot. You’ll be better off without a car as you’ll want to constantly pop into all the charming cafes, quaint shops and bustling restaurants you’ll come across as you wander through town. Sometimes overlooked, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve should also not be missed. Wonderful hikes, as well as mountain bike trails and swimming opportunities, await you here. Numerous bird species can be found here as well as more elusive baboons and leopards.
With more days of sunshine than any other town in South Africa (over 330 days per year) Oudtshoorn is easy to enjoy as you make your way along the Garden Route. The town is well-known as the Ostrich farm capital of Africa and a visit to a farm will surely be a trip highlight. The farms allow you to get much closer to these giant birds than would otherwise be possible and you can also watch exciting Ostrich races. A natural highlight of the area is the Cango Caves, an underground wonder. Here you will find huge, natural limestone halls with towering formations of stalactites. Be sure to participate in one of the adventure tours within the caves – not for the claustrophobic!
An enchanting destination along the Garden Route, Knysna delights travellers with its wonderful natural attractions. The nearby ancient forests are home to the rare forest antelopes and elephants which can be glimpsed, if you are lucky, while you are on a nature hike. The forests here are also well-known for numerous and unique bird life. Be sure to visit the Knysna Elephant Park as well, especially if you weren’t lucky enough to glimpse the rare forest elephant in the wild. In town, the Waterfront Knysna Quays offers boutique shops and charming restaurants on the harbourfront and is also the launching point for boat trips to Featherbed Nature Reserve. Featherbed, only accessible by ferry and on a guided tour, offers visitors peace and quiet in a spectacular landscape with great views of the lagoon as you look out to sea.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve is first and foremost a conservation project for the regions land as well as the animals and it has been very successful. It is also, of course, a premier safari destination that blends luxury accommodation with sensational wildlife viewing opportunities. Here you can view the Big 5 as well as cheetahs, giraffes and many other wildlife species. Sunrise and sunset game drives are offered as well as photographic tours (special equipment can be rented) and guided bush walks for the more adventurous. Rather uniquely, the reserve is also home to a wildlife rehabilitation centre and the Big Cat Sanctuary both of which offers informational experiences about the animals they’ve rescued from the African wild as well as from around the world.
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