Explore /South Africa

South Africa /

Luxury Travel: The Editor’s Edit 2016
Luxury Travel: The Editor’s Edit 2016
Vanessa Dean, Product Manager for Europe & Africa

Why to visit South Africa in 2016, by Vanessa Dean, Carrier's Europe & Africa Product Manager.

South Africa is a country bursting at the seams with an almost unbeatable variety of holiday experiences coupled with year-round allure – something for any season or mood. A proud local, I think it’s one of the most versatile countries in the world. Those seeking sun can visit the Western Cape from November to April and explore beaches, the Cape Winelands, Table Mountain, Robben Island and, of course, the city of Cape Town, with its endless restaurants, museums and viewpoints. Travelling outside of this period also offers reward, with superb whale watching from the Cape south coast; peak calving season is in July and August. For world-class safari, the cooler months of May to October are more comfortable, ideal for exploring the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and bordering Kruger National Park in pursuit of the Big Five. For British travellers, South Africa is currently exceptionally good value thanks to a favourable exchange rate, making it an ideal time to visit.

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Explore /South Africa in depth

6 Locations

Cape Town

Thanks to its enviable position on the Atlantic Coast and proximity to many leading wine estates, Cape Town is a major hub for customised activities and tours – we have partnered with local experts, Luxury Africa, to offer an exciting selection of tailor-made escapes, far removed from run of the mill, off the peg offerings. Using Wifii connected, customised Land Rover Discovery 4 vehicles kitted out with every conceivable comfort from Nespresso coffee machines to a bar stocked with single malts, Luxury Africa offer escorted experiences around Cape Town, the Winelands and further afield. Cape Town’s outdoor attractions need no introduction – walk up Table Mountain or Signal Hill for incredible views; wander the streets of the Bo-Kaap district with their brightly-painted Georgian terraces or head out to Cape Point on a Harley Davidson or a classic car. At weekends, the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay combines music with tempting local produce. During the first Thursday of each month, participating Cape Town art galleries offer free entry and stay open late. Artists, crafts people and foodies come together on Saturdays at the Old Biscuit Mill to display their talents, whilst visitors to the District 6 Museum can gain an insight into events in Cape Town’s recent past. A stroll along Boulders Beach brings an encounter with African penguins – one of only three mainland colonies in the whole of South Africa, whilst seals can usually be spotted during a harbour cruise. Dining in Cape Town is a true culinary delight. Afternoon tea at Belmond Mount Nelson or Cape Grace is a genteel local institution, or forego the airs and graces and tuck into top-class fish and chips along the coast at Lucky Fish in Kalk Bay. Chef Franck Dangereux is cooking up a storm at The Foodbarn in Noordhoek, or try something unexpected at Spasie, a unique invitation-only underground venue where local chefs and rising stars present one-off meals on Thursday and Friday nights. Epicures will want to book early to be sure of a table at Nobu at One&Only; Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Club are very much in vogue. Reserve a car and driver for the day to explore the nearby wine estates in Constantia, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek – the gourmet capital of South Africa – or book a picnic basket and dine alfresco at the Cape Point Vineyards.


Recognised by the WWF as one of the 12 best places in the world for whale watching, Hermanus offers incredible sightings of the Southern Right whales. Visit July to November for the best chance of seeing these majestic mammals just off shore, perhaps timing your visit to coincide with the Hermanus Whale Festival which takes place in late September/early October. A walk along the Hermanus coastal path, which hugs the coast for 10 kilometres, may reward with sightings of whale calves at play with their mothers; the more adventurous can test their nerve with shark diving in Gansbaai. Take to the skies in a helicopter to spot whales from the air, or keep an eye on the ocean during a sunset lagoon cruise as you sample oysters and sip locally produced wine. Joining the whales and sharks are colonies of seals, penguins and dolphins, completing the Marine Big 5.

The Garden Route

The terrain is glorious and the adventures are endless in this stunningly beautiful corner of South Africa from the Klein Karoo to the game reserves of the Eastern Cape. Meander amidst lake-dotted hills and flower-filled fynbos, across dramatic mountain passes and surging rivers, past scented orchards, indigenous forests and unsullied stretches of coastline perfect for swimming, sailing and kayaking. Stray off the main highways to stumble across picturesque villages nestled in the valleys and be ready to sample the best that the land has to offer. Journey inland from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape on Route 62, through Robertson and Montagu – this is wine route country par excellence, with a cellar door round every turn waiting to tempt you with fine vintages and ports. At Barrydale, the fertile Tradouw Valley stands in stark contrast against the semi-arid landscape of the Klein Karoo. The Swartberg pass winds its dramatic way through the Klein Karoo to Oudtshoorn where a visit to the Cango Caves is recommended – a truly impressive underground wonder. Between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg, where the mountain ranges of Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma provide a spectacular backdrop, there are opportunities aplenty to hike the adventure trails and canoe the rivers. Get the adrenalin flowing with a visit to the Stormsriver Adventure Centre in Stormsriver Village where many of the activities kick off, whether it’s kayaking, watching the big waves form at the mouth of the river or taking a Tsitsikamma canopy tour, traversing from one platform to another along a cable strung high above the floor of the indigenous rain forest. Break your journey with a few nights in Knysna, perhaps even stay in a private castle on beautiful Noetzie Beach; Plettenberg Bay provides a chance to combine swimming with dolphin viewing by sea kayak or a spot of relaxation on one of the bay’s beautiful Blue Flag beaches.

The Winelands

Travel through centuries of vinicultural history in the Franschhoek Valley on board an open-sided tram. The narrated hop-on/ hop-off tour stops at some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates, where passengers may sample the wines and pause for food or simply stroll round the vineyards before continuing the tour. For a personalised experience, hire a private car and driver/guide for a tailored wine tasting tour of the local estates, or do the whole thing on horseback, a novel way to explore the area. Visit Franschhoek during the last weekend of September when the Franschhoek Uncorked festival takes place, with complimentary cellar tours and wine tastings offered by several of the area’s top wineries – a wonderful opportunity to try out new vintages and releases, accompanied by innovative, fresh cuisine. As the Cape Winelands cover over 20,000 square kilometres, taking to the air is an attractive option – scenic flights from Stellenbosch allow for a bird’s eye view of the extensive vineyards, mountains and passes that characterise the area. Staying on a working farm brings you closer to nature, where guests can eat, sleep and breathe the great outdoors – at Babylonstoren you can cycle through the vineyards, pick your own salad, taste the estate’s wines and cool off later with a swim in the dam. Over on the Waterford Estate, at the foot of the scenic Helderberg Mountains, an open Land Rover chauffeurs guests on an innovative wine safari, or for a unique taste sensation try Waterford’s chocolate and wine pairings, where luscious dark and milk chocolates are paired not only with sweet wines but Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.


Adventure can have its softer side in rugged South Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal isn’t short on outdoor activities. The private game reserves where our chosen lodges are located offer opportunities to go fishing, hiking, mountain biking or horse-riding. From Three Trees at Spioenkop, take a picnic lunch and head into the Drakensberg Mountains where hiking trails reveal incredible views or whiz through the forest on an exhilarating zip wire. Adrenalin seekers may enjoy white water rafting on the Tugela River (November to May only), or quad biking along a 15 kilometre adventure trail. If the 10 kilometre hike to the top of Cathedral Peak is a little daunting, hop into a helicopter or rise early for a spectacular sunrise balloon ride. History is brought vividly to life on an Anglo-Zulu War battlefield tour. Passionate and engaging guides will lead you around sites such as Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift or Spioenkop, telling tales round a roaring fire and giving knowledgeable insights into the victories and crushing defeats. Children will enjoy the experience too – at Fugitive’s Drift, shorter, interactive tours around the property are followed by a game walk where they may encounter giraffe, zebra and wildebeest and learn about traditional bush medicine. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal’s city by the sea, is rightly proud of its revitalised seafront. With its protected swimming beaches and sub-tropical climate, it’s a glorious place to spend a few days soaking up the sights. KwaZulu-Natal is not without its safari thrills – the Big 5 along with many rarer and less frequently spotted species can be viewed at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, where seven distinct ecosystems rich in wildlife are home to rare black rhino, which can be tracked on foot, and the ever-elusive cheetah. Phinda’s appeal is enhanced by the marine diversity of nearby Sodwana Bay where enormous leatherback and loggerhead turtles nest, the best viewing time being November to February. Dive the Big 5 here in the Indian Ocean’s clear waters, perhaps even experiencing an encounter with an enormous whale shark.

On Safari

The heart of South Africa lies in its teeming game reserves. This is the home of the Big 5 – lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant – built to impress with their sheer size and strength. To see a leopard dozing in a tree, or to track one by spotlight at night is a humbling experience. Stay silent as a large herd of elephant passes by; search for black rhino in the thickets; approach carefully as a pride of lions sleeps in a dry river bed after a kill. Across South Africa, exceptional game viewing is assured, from the famous expanses of Kruger National Park to malaria-free Madikwe on the Botswana border. Early morning game drives may catch animals on the prowl before seeking shade in the heat of the day; late afternoon/evening drives may reward with opportunities to watch predators as they hunt. Sip sundowners as a journey of giraffe glide silently by or experience the thrill of being surrounded by hundreds of buffalo on the banks of a river. Desert terrain offers a safari with a difference. The red sand, rolling dunes and semi-arid grasslands of the Southern or Green Kalahari are populated by species such as sable and roan antelope, Hartmanns mountain zebra and desert black rhino. In addition to the meerkat colonies, guests at Tswalu Kalahari might just be fortunate enough to catch a rare glimpse of the elusive pangolin, a curious creature that has eluded many seasoned safari experts.

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South Africa /Hotels

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South Africa /Itineraries

Sabi Sand, MauritiusSouth Africa and Mauritius

Appreciate the romance of a safari and beach experience on this perfect honeymoon combination. Enjoy an exhilarating few days on a Big 5 safari, staying in a beautifully romantic lodge in one of South Africa’s premier reserves followed by a lazy week or two on a paradisiacal Indian Ocean island in ...

Tswalu, Cape Town, Gansbaai and Sabi SandUnique Lodges of the World

Carrier feature all three of National Geographic's South African Unique Lodges of the World. Whale watch from the wilds of the Grootbos Wilderness, get up close the the habituated meerkat at Tswalu and spend a night under the stars in their Motse, surrounded by the sounds of the wildlife and spot ...

AfricaLuxury South Africa

Dominated by Table Mountain, cosmopolitan Cape Town commands an enviable position on the Atlantic Coast, its Victoria & Alfred Waterfront a hub of designer shopping and alfresco harbourside dining. Wander through the cobbled streets of colourful De Waterkant, stop by at the emotive District Six ...

Africa & Indian OceanSouth Africa & Mauritius

South Africa is home to many spectacular sights, few of them as spectacular as the Kruger National Park, where the Sabi Sands Game Reserve never fails to thrill even the most seasoned safari-goers with its up-close wildlife encounters. Heading for the Cape explore the world-class vineyards, or take ...

Cape Town, Madikwe Game Reserve, Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park and the Okavango DeltaSouthern Africa Uncovered

Explore the highlights of Southern Africa with Sanctuary Retreats, taking in Madikwe Game Reserve, The Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta as well as staying at Belmond Mount Nelson in central Cape Town.

AfricaThe Ultimate Safari Experience

A safari destination like no other, South Africa offers exceptional wildlife viewing experiences that extend far beyond the traditional. The fynbos-clad hills around Walker Bay on the Atlantic Coast are a perfect spot from which to view the marine Big Five – whales, white sharks, penguins, seals ...

Cape Town, Constantia, Hermanus, Garden Route & SafariCities, Winelands and Safari

A self drive itinerary which takes in the highlights of South Africa. Begin in the culturally diverse city of Cape Town before heading into the Winelands where the landscape is punctuated by vineyards and wine estates offering ample opportunities to sample some of the Cape's finest vintages. ...

Victoria Falls, Kruger National Park, Cape Town, FranschhoekUltimate South Africa and Victoria Falls

Straddling both Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls are a mesmerising sight. Almost twice as high as Niagara Falls, the world’s largest sheet of water thunders on its way, creating a spray that is visible for miles. With regular flights from Johannesburg, it’s a compelling addition to any South ...

AfricaHighlights of KwaZulu-Natal

“Sanibonani” in the Zulu language translates to Welcome. The Zululand District surprises with its diversity and down to earth hospitality. This diverse itinerary begins at Spioenkop where adventures in the Drakensburg mountains beckon, then continue onwards through the historic Zulu Battlefields. ...

Sabi Sand, Cape Town, MauritiusChristmas - South Africa and Mauritius

With this itinerary, families can enjoy culture, wildlife and beach life in one trip. Start at Dulini Private Game Reserve on the banks of the Mabrak River (part of Sabi Sand Game Reserve). Daily safaris are memory bank affairs with hippo, elephant, lion, leopard and zebra to name but a few ...

AfricaElephants and the Big 5

With the impressive Drakensberg Mountains in the distance, Kapama Private Game Reserve offers a slice of wilderness paradise. Elephant-back safaris through the untamed bush enable you to view game from atop a habituated African elephant. There are also guided personal elephant interactions, where ...

AfricaAfrican Horseback Adventure

See spectacular game and scenery by horseback. Experienced riders will appreciate the opportunity to observe Africa's wildlife from a unique perspective. Start your experience in South Africa's Waterberg region and ride through the varied landscape of mountains and massive Baobab trees. Complete ...

Cape Town, Kruger National Park, The Victoria Falls, Nairobi and the Masai Mara National ParkIcons of Africa

Three countries and four of the continent's most iconic destinations: cosmopolitan Cape Town, with easy access to the infamous Winelands, Kruger National Park for the first of two Big 5 safaris, the awe inspiring Victoria Falls, finishing with four nights overlooking the great Kenyan plains of the ...

The Blue Train, Pretoria, Cape Town, Franschhoek, Knysna & SafariThe Blue Train

This diverse itinerary combines a magnificent rail journey with the best of the country's food, wine and wildlife. Enjoy an overnight journey on The Blue Train between Johannesburg and Cape Town, where fine cuisine and outstanding wines are the accompaniment to the scenic views. After exploring ...

Sabi Sand Game Reserve & MozambiqueSouth Africa and Mozambique

A riverside location in South Africa’s renowned Sabi Sand Reserve serves as an excellent base for a few days on safari. Just a short flight from South Africa, the unblemished beaches and deep blue sea of Mozambique’s coastline await. Lying just off shore, the island archipelagos offer the ...

Cape Town, Winelands & SafariFamily Adventures in South Africa

An ideal choice for a family holiday, South Africa offers exciting activities for all ages and ample opportunities for families to spend time together in incredible locations. Explore cosmopolitan Cape Town on an hop on/hop off bus tour, spot whales along the coast and embrace the great outdoors in ...

Cape Town, Winelands, Garden Route, Eastern CapeFamily Campaign 2016- October Half Term in South Africa

Start on the slopes of Table Mountain at the wonderful Belmond Mount Nelson before heading to Babylonstoren and life on a 300-year-old working wine and fruit farm. Then it’s on to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, for quality time in the great outdoors. Take flower safaris through ancient milkwood ...

Namibia, South AfricaRovos Rail- Namibia to South Africa

Journey through Namibia and South Africa in ultimate luxury on Rovos Rail, exploring diverse, scenic landscapes and remote communities. Cross the Namib Desert, experience a safari in Etosha National Park, walk the dunes at Sossusvlei and explore the ghost town of Keetmanshoop before heading into ...

AfricaThe Royal Portfolio

A voyage through some of South Africa's most outstanding regions, while staying in some of the finest properties in the country. Liz Biden's Royal Portfolio is a collection of privately owned and exquisitely furnished lodges, where privileged guests are assured of unparalleled levels of service and ...

AfricaCape Town, Safari & Dubai

A twelve night itinerary that explores the vibrant city of Cape Town packed with museums, gardens, fashionable shops and restaurants. Leave the city and head for the intimate elegance and tranquil surroundings at Londolozi, nestled in the heart of Sabi Sand where you can view the Big Five game and ...

Cape Town, Kalahari & MadikweCape Town & Safari

Combine some of South Africa’s most exciting destinations on this three-centre itinerary. Explore Cape Town and the surrounding area, perhaps taking a trip in the revolving cable car up Table Mountain or an open top bus tour around the city, before flying to the Kalahari. Spend time observing the ...

Rovos Rail, Victoria Falls & MalaMalaRovos Rail

Combine a unique rail safari on the world-renowned Rovos Rail with a visit to the spectacular Victoria Falls and a Big 5 safari. The world-renowned Rovos Rail ‘Pride of Africa’ trains offer unique rail safaris through magnificent scenery combined with first class accommodation, cuisine and service. ...

Cape Town, Franschhoek, Hermanus, Garden Route & SafariClassic South Africa

As featured in the Condé Nast Traveller Fashion Guide - a self drive itinerary which takes in the highlights of South Africa. Begin in the culturally diverse city of Cape Town before heading into the Winelands where the landscape is punctuated by vineyards and wine estates offering ample ...

South Africa /Best Experiences

  • Ascend Table Mountain in the early morning and watch the mists rise over Cape Town
  • Spot whales close to the shores around Hermanus and Walker Bay
  • The first glimpse of a big cat on safari
  • The incredible stars and the intensified sounds of the bush at night
  • Dine by lantern light in the heart of the bush
  • Observe meerkat interactions in the Kalahari

South Africa /When to go

A year round destination, but expect cooler weather in the Eastern and Western Capes during winter, between June and August. Mpumalanga stays warm year round with temperatures, humidity and rainfall all increasing in the summer months between October and March. The whales return to the waters around Hermanus from July to November, and the spring months of August and September are particularly colourful along the Garden Route. The prime time for game viewing is generally the drier winter and spring months from April to September when animals frequent the waterholes. During the wetter summer months between October and March, animals can still be viewed but are more widely dispersed – from December to February there may be more sightings of newborn animals.

South Africa /Reviews

Few experiences are more thrilling and rewarding than encountering wild animals in their natural environment. From witnessing the Great Migration pass through the Mara, giraffe and zebra roaming freely amongst the Big Five or huge herds of elephant frolicking in the Selinda Spillway, here is my selection of some of the best places to experience the different slices of Africa that stir the senses and the soul. ... more

Stephanie   Bates


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South Africa
To drive along the 200 kilometre Garden Route filled with native temperate forests and thick scented bush and enveloped by the Tsitsikamma and Outeniqua mountains has always been at the top of my ‘travel musts’. I jumped at the chance to spend two weeks travelling along this picturesque and renowned route whilst stopping off at some of the most exclusive hotels in South Africa. Here are my top highlights from this unforgettable trip. ... more

Stephanie   Bates


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South Africa
Africa Product Manager, Suzanne Walford visited Sir Richard Branson's Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek, South Africa. The Cape's lush winelands are a popular choice for many travellers; wine aficionados and non-drinkers alike all flock to this beautiful corner of the country. Read Suzanne's travel review below to find out why Mont Rochelle deserves its place in the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio.... more

South Africa
Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve is home to a superlative array of wildlife, including the big 5, buffalo, elephant, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, black and white rhino, hyena, zebra, rare African wild dog and over 300 species of bird. ... more

South Africa
Tswalu is largest privately owned game reserve in South Africa, its malaria-free and home to a superlative array of wildlife, encompassing desert black rhino, black-maned Kalahari lion, brown hyena, cheetah, rare antelope and numerous colonies of meerkats. ... more

South Africa
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Approximate flight times
London to Cape Town: 11 hours 25 minutes, London to Johannesburg: 10 hours 55 minutes
Time Difference
GMT +2 hours

South Africa /Essentials

Multi-centre Options

South Africa combines easily with neighbouring countries – extend for a few days and visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, fly onto the incredible Indian Ocean beaches and islands of Mozambique or combine with a beach stay on Mauritius.

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