It's hard to believe it’s already December! With the holiday season fully underway, we’re featuring some of our favorite places to unwind in front of a fireplace this winter—hopefully with some of your favorite people. Speaking of winter, we’re highlighting a recent trip to the Scandinavian Arctic, complete with a viewing of the Northern Lights. Beaches more your speed? We’ve got the lowdown on some of the best hotels in Anguilla. From all of us at First in Service, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year. Cheers to 2019!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
South Africa offers some of the world’s greatest safari experiences. In addition to astonishing game drives and wildlife, it’s easy to add on a stay in cosmopolitan Cape Town and nearby wine country, even a visit to Victoria Falls. Many of the finest lodges in Africa – and the world – are found there. It’s also important to note that the country is Ebola-free. Whatever the special occasion, South African safaris fit the bill. We worked with Micato Safaris, one of the world’s finest safari outfitters, to present some inspiring options. Each option begins in Cape Town, the gateway to South Africa, before heading to the bush.
Fall head over heels with this three-part journey that begins in and around Cape Town. Take a romantic cableway ride to the top of Table Mountain to marvel at the dramatic cityscape below. Wander the Cape Winelands for tastings and relaxed meals, and explore the local gourmet markets for olives, chocolate and biltong. Make sure to end a day with a champagne and caviar cruise aboard a private yacht.
Next make the 90 minute drive to Hermanus, along the southwest coast, where accommodations are as breathtaking as the views. Hike along the nature trails nestled between mountain and ocean, or enjoy the cellar tours along the wine route. Once you’re ready for your safari, you can enjoy blissful privacy in your luxury treehouse the Lion Sands Safari Lodge in Kruger National Park. Alternatively, stay at the Royal Malewane, where you can dine under the stars with gourmet bush meals and unwind with an expert spa treatment before retiring to your stunning private suite.
A big anniversary is the perfect excuse to splurge and relax. Start off in Cape Town sampling the sophisticated food and wine scene. Play a round of golf and explore the Kirstenbosch Gardens, where outdoor concerts are popular in the summer.
After a few days of city exploration, indulge in two days of classic rail travel to Pretoria aboard the Rovos Rail. This is a relaxing way to see the countryside, weaving through scenic wine estates, the hauntingly barren Great Karoo (the country’s semi-desert heartland), and spectacular mountain range. Stop at Kimberly, home to the famed diamond mines.
The sophisticated Lebombo Lodge in Singita Private Game Reserve is where you’ll spend your days on safari. Let Singita’s team spoil you with breathtaking suites overlooking the river, exquisite bush meals, a luxury spa and pool between safari excursions. The diverse habitat is teeming with game to complete your immersive adventure. Your other option is Singita’s elegant Sweni Lodge. This sanctuary is nestled among the trees along the Sweni River, creating an intimate hideaway in harmony with nature.
Safaris can be a life changing way for families to bond with nature and each other. While in Cape Town, consider an excursion to Seal Island to view the Cape Fur Seal Colony in their natural habitat. Young kids will also enjoy digging for gemstones at the Scratch Patch in Simon’s Town.
Next follow the coast down to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a five-star eco paradise. There’s land-based whale watching, guided horseback rides, walks through ancient forest, and thrilling four-wheel trekking through dramatically beautiful terrain.
The safari portion begins at Richard Branson’s lodge Ulusaba in Kruger National Park. Days can be filled with game drives and bush walks. But the lodge also specializes in creative (and tailored) family and children’s activities including mini Ranger’s courses, traditional South African games and personalized spa treatments.
The second safari destination, Camp Jabulani, enables families to really immerse themselves in the magical world of elephants. Families are partnered with their own elephant, spend time getting acquainted, meet the personal handler, watch them swim in the nearby dam, and even tuck the elephants into their stables for the evening. The founders also run an extraordinary center that focuses on breeding endangered species, and rehabilitates and releases captive-bred cheetahs and orphaned or injured animals. Guests can spend time between game activities to learn about the programmes and conservation efforts.
In Cape Town, adventurers shouldn’t miss a hike up Table Mountain, for its magnificent views of the city below.
A perfect safari for thrill seekers combines a few days at the Royal Malewane Game Reserve in Kruger National Park, with some time at the Tswalu Private Game Reserve in the Kalahari Desert. Not only does the first half include daily game drives and bush walks, but it’s combinable with a day trip to the Blyde River Canyon for some exhilarating tubing, rafting, biking and hot air ballooning. At the luxury Tswalu resort, horseback ride across grassy plains and Kalahari dunes; bond with meerkats before they go out foraging for the day; hike out to the bushmen cave paintings and rock art; track black rhino on foot; and spend a night camping under the stars.