This is a little nature treat off the beaten track about 30 minutes south of Cape Town.
Hike to 'Elephant's eye' and enjoy stunning views over Hout Bay or go for a swim in the dam.
Take the M3 South to its end, turn right and take the Oulde Kaapse Weg left into the mountain. At the mountain top, turn off right (follow signs for Silvermine).
It's a huge maze and an incredibly succulent garden but there is more to it. Not the banter of restaurants, craft and curio shops but it is the real thing to do if you want to discover South African culture. And for garden lovers: one of the English visitors I met said that this garden is, in its own right, far more interesting than the ones of Kirstenbosch or Worcester.
It's a bit weird but Soekershof distinguishes itself from all the others by the absolute passion of owners and staff. These people are really devoted to their plants. But for me it's more; it was a very personal spiritual experience, hard to describe.
Being a black South African I learned something about by own country: the meaning of the handshake I grew up with; the meaning of the 'evil spirit' of the Uthikulose which does not have to be evil and what wonders me most of all: I had to learn it from two very nice Dutch people who joined our country seven years ago.
It's in Klaas Voogds West along Route62 between Robertson and Ashton; 2 hrs easy drive from Cape Town. I discovered 3 own URLs. The general one: www.soekershof.com The 'weird but passionate' one with the latest developments in and around Soekershof: soekershofwalkabout.blogspot.com and the one they regard themselves as a 'service tool for their nursery customers and other succulent lovers': soekershof.wordpress.com
One of the most spectacular strips of tarmac in the world. A 6 mile road from Hout Bay to Noordhoek in the Southern Cape Peninsula, Cape Town, perched 300 metres above the churning Atlantic Ocean. Spot the whales below in season.
Check out this street map of South Africa to find Chapmans Peak - click down to Hout Bay, just south of Cape Town city centre: www.africanbudgetsafaris.com/south-africa-street-map.htm
This place is just amazing. Went there recently and had a magical time. Food was outsanding but the scenery is out of this world. Highly recommend taking a boat trip. This is for the more extravagent traveller.
You can view it here:
And it booked it with these guys:
Awesome bush experience in South Africa's famous national park - and affordable too. The treehouses are lined up along the banks of the beautiful Klaserie River. Nothing compares to waking to the chorus of weaver birds and hippos. The trip included game walks and game drives in the park where we were lucky enough to spot a leopard attempt to chase down an impala.
The camp is in the Balule section of the Kruger National Park. I booked through Terry Murphy at African Budget Safaris in Hout Bay, Cape Town.
We visited Tala Private Game Reserve (about an hour from Durban) on our honeymoon – the accommodation there is wonderful. There are several accommodation lodges within the park, the most expensive and highest quality is Leadwood Lodge where the park owners live, which is truly stunning (and I have exceedingly high standards). Everything to do with the accommodation, the food, the infinity pool, the views, the service was perfection.
Within a package you would have your food and 1 game drive a day included (drinks are extra). You could choose the time of your game drive so you didn't have to get up at 5am like other places.
Tala is a private reserve so there is a controlled animal population which is easily visible - we saw loads of zebras, giraffes, buffalo, and springbok to name just a few. They didn't have the cats though. Our guide was exceptional. A really nice guy who also educated us about the animals and the plants in the area. Overall it was an outstanding experience. 2 game drives over 2 days was enough, but I still wish we had stayed longer than 2 nights - just to enjoy the food and the surroundings. I really didn't want to leave.
The accommodation near the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve is sub-standard for the money, which was less expensive than Tala - but far removed from the quality and beauty of Tala. We were booked for 2 nights but decided to leave after 1 night. The River Lodge was a 30 minute drive from the national park - so to do a game drive, you have a round trip of an hour of driving without being in the park. The park is massive and the animals are sparse. We did see an elephant and rhinos which was fantastic, but otherwise our guide didn't have any insightful knowledge beyond the basics, and we spent a lot of time driving around not seeing very much at all. There were cats at the park - but so elusive you seldom saw them. We didn't see any. But mostly the accommodation spoilt the experience of the stay.
We had booked the "honeymoon chalet" since we were on honeymoon and I saw a picture online which showed a lovely freestanding bathtub by a window. However you couldn't use it since the water was thick slug. Overall we found everything about the River Lodge from the food (which was unsophisticated) to the rooms (which smelt musty and had noisy and ineffectual air-conditioning) extremely poor. The "resort" lacked any kind of beauty and catered to groups rather than the independent, discerning traveller. I just wish their marketing had not been so misleading.
The lodge is just outiste the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve
Don't be afraid of walking in the bush (with a guide), if you can. I remember noticing a baby tortoise when walking with a guide once. It was (and so was a small chameleon) cute, in fact from the planet cute.
My best memory of safari is having told our guide that I was interested in snakes (and other small stuff), we got a radio call to say that another landrover had trapped a rock python in a small area of grass/bush. We went flying over there, and got to the area where the snake was - about 2m x 2m. It took 10 minutes to find the snake, which was about 2m long. The guides said I could catch it if I wanted, so I did. It was very exciting, and I was shaking somewhat by the time I'd got it held firmly (It bit my arm and hand in the process). The young boys in our landrover were pretty excited to get to touch the snake, and my wife took some photos. After extracting the snake from where it had tucked itself into my shirt, we let it go, unharmed. A rock Python is a constrictor (so non-venomous), so I had no ill-effects from the bite, but did have to take an antibiotic as they do have notoriously dirty mouths.
We once went back to our "tree-house" to change into swimming gear, and saw a snake on the veranda. I instinctively grabbed it, and had to fend off its attempts to bite me with my shorts which were in my left hand. I couldn't get a good look at it to see for certain that it was a harmless bush snake, so I had to let it go into the trees before it bit me.
Another tip: Always pick scorpions up by the tail. And if the claws
are big, then the sting is likely to be less dangerous, and vica-versa.
Fairly small but very beautiful game reserve near the Drakensberg Mountains. Proper African savannah, plenty of big beasties. Camping under canvas is best, you might wake up to rhino wandering through the campsite, but they do have more solid accommodation if you want it.
A useful tip for people going on self-drive safaris - you may come across places in the parks called 'look out points' - don't get out of your vehicle!
The signage was quite confusing and when we went with a guide later on, he was shocked that we'd been out of the vehicle.
Also, beware group safaris - definitely cheaper but sometimes your companions can get agitated by the animals - at the time the guide had been worried about the fact that my brother and I were only 12 and 14 but in the end it was the fully grown woman who was scared of the elephants and moaned to be taken back to the lodge.
The best holiday - if you have the opportunity to take your children on a safari, go for it! My brother and I will never forget it and it was a real eye opener in other ways too - such as seeing for the first time whole communities living on the embankment of motorways in tin houses - they can't teach you in school the way seeing that in person can.
This is a park where they breed lions, both white and tawny, and the public can meet them.
There are also hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, giraffes and several species of antelope.
The biggest attraction is Touch-a-cub, where guests are welcome to stroke lion cubs. It's a real treat to be so close to these beautiful animals.
R114, Junction R512 Hans Strijdom, Honeydew, Johannesburg
A small, friendly and quiet guesthouse, in a very convenient and safe part of Cape Town, two blocks up from the ocean and shops, nearest to Clifton Beaches, Seapoint around the corner.
The owner really knows what service and friendliness means, laundry service and ADSL internet was free (including calls to landlines in the UK) and we really felt at home away from home, delightful interior for a fantastic price.
They even give you a SA cell number when you book, so you can tell friends which number to get hold of you, while exploring the country.
Only ten pounds per person sharing per night!
Complimentary coffee, tea and use of fully equiped kitchen. Safe private parking too.
The best we found in our SA Holiday. Quality really does not need to cost the world.
Addo is an undervisited game park about an hour's drive from Port Elizabeth. A few years ago you would only have seen elephants, but now many more animals including big cats have been introduced. It's self-drive so that helps to keep the cost down. It's also malaria-free so no need to take those unpleasant tablets.
A nice 'green' combination between Cape Town and the Garden Route.
Bon Cape for it grows its grapes organically and produce South Africa's only wines with Michelangelo stars (see www.boncaporganic.co.za).
And Soekershof Walkabout, Mazes and Botanical Gardens because also this farm does not apply fertilisers and other chemicals in the cultivation of its unique collection of plants. Above all this place is a huge leg stretching entertainment area with an educational twist.
Bon Cap: Eilandia (between Worcester and Robertson) See: www.boncaporganics.co.za
Soekershof Walkabout: Klaas Voogds West (between Robertson and Ashton/Montagu also along Route62)
Mazes and Botanical Gardens
Why? It's weird and passionate
It's entertainment with an educational twist.
Visitors can 'taste' flowers in a wine tasting area.
The most diverse collection of succulent plants from all over the world under the open sky.
The world's largest hedge-maze but also unique for other qualities.
See their website for more details including accommodation in the area.
Adress: Klaas Voogds West which is 8 km East of Robertson on the Route62 towards Ashton/Montagu; approx. 2 hrs easy driving from Cape Town (Capetonians make daytripping picnics to this place).
Contact details, road directions etc. all on this very informative website.
It’s hands-on during the informal cooking workshop in a Bo-Kaap family home that follows a culinary walk through Cape Town's colourful Muslim quarter.
You will learn how to mix masala, fold samosas, and how to balance the delicate flavours of a Cape Malay curry. Real fun!
Here's a really novel idea of evening entertainment: The Jazz Safari introduces small groups of travellers to the private homes of various famous Cape Town Jazz personalities.
You'll dine with them, listen to their stories, hear their music! A real Cape Town experience!
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