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Lauren's South African adventure

Lauren Curd

So, after 12 years with his girlfriend, my brother finally decided to get married and, as his girlfriend is South African, they followed tradition and held the wedding in South Africa. We decided early on that if we were going to get my dad on a 12 hour flight then we would make the most of our time in South Africa, so we set aside two weeks for our exciting trip.

Cape Town, Winelands and Eastern Cape Safari

The plan was to spend some time in Cape Town before the wedding and include my dad and brother's passion, cricket, in the holiday, so a trip to Newlands had to be arranged (I don’t think it was a coincidence that my brother planned to get married when England were out in Cape Town playing South Africa!) We would then see all the sights Cape Town had to offer before heading to the Winelands for a few nights for their wedding in Franschhoek. After the wedding I decided to fly off with my parents and do a Safari at a Game Reserve on the Eastern Cape. I chose the Eastern Cape over Kruger National park because I didn’t want to take Malaria tablets throughout the trip and the Eastern Cape offers Malaria free game viewing.

Cape Town

My brother recommended we stayed in Camps Bay in Cape Town for a number of reasons; it is on the beach, away from the rush of the city centre and easy to get out and about to all the attractions. I have to say I loved Camps Bay, it has a really relaxed and chilled out vibe and is great for couples and families looking for a city/beach experience. Another great decision for us, as a party of 3 adults, was to stay in an apartment (it was huge). We were out and about the majority of the time and this worked out great, the apartment was well located, a short walk from the beach and restaurants, had ample parking for our hire car and a small pool to cool off in.

We crammed an awful lot in to the five nights we spent in Cape Town. On the first night we headed off to Newlands to watch England play South Africa in a 20/20 match. England lost on the last ball of the last over, so it was a nail biting game and the atmosphere was amazing! I am not a cricket fan, but I had a great time and can thoroughly recommend a visit if a game is on when you visit Cape Town.

View of Cape Town from Table Mountain

The next day, although slightly tired from the flight and going straight off to a late night cricket match, we decided to go on the hop-on-hop-off bus to get our bearings; we stopped off at the Waterfront for lunch, which is lovely and here you can spend hours wandering around through the shops, restaurants and local markets and breweries. We also took a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium at the Waterfront which is a must if you have children. We then took the bus round the rest of the route back to Camps Bay.

You cannot visit Cape Town without visiting the next two sites. We spent almost a whole day at Robben Island which you must pre-book to avoid disappointment, as the trips are usually booked a few days in advance. Steeped in history, this South African heritage site really takes you back to the days when inmates, like Nelson Mandela, were held here. You catch a ferry from the Waterfront in Cape Town over to the islands and the tour is partially by bus and foot and is definitely worth a visit.

The second must visit is Table Mountain, the views over Cape Town are simply spectacular. I got to see a dassie clambering over the rocks, as well at the top of the mountain; it even posed for a photo for me! MY top tip for Table Mountain is not to book before you go as the visit is completely dependent on the weather, you are best to check the forecast and make a decision when you are there - if the famous 'table cloth' comes over the mountain, you can’t go up.

Winelands – Franschhoek

The next part of our South African adventure took us to the Winelands and the town of Franschhoek, which is just over an hour from Cape Town (on a good run); we spent three glorious days here for my brother’s wedding. The scenery here is simply stunning and you can really relax and enjoy your surroundings. We stayed at a vineyard called Vrede en Lust, which was simply beautiful. This is where the wedding was held and everything from the setting through to the rooms and service was spectacular, it truly was an amazing day.

Franschoek Wine Region in South Africa

Whilst in Franschhoek, I would highly recommend a ride on the wine tram, this hop-on-hop-off tour is a great way to discover all the picturesque vineyards without having to drive! I can also recommend booking a picnic lunch at a nearby vineyard, as well as a spot of lunch or dinner in the quaint town of Franschhoek itself. The Winelands are simply beautiful and I would make sure you have at least three nights here.

Eastern Cape – Pumba Private Game Reserve

From Franschhoek we drove back to Cape Town and took a short flight to Port Elizabeth where a chauffeur was waiting for us to drive us to our Game Reserve, about one and a half hours from the airport. Driving through the Game Reserve on arrival was amazing; we passed an elephant some zebras, waterhogs and giraffe before arriving at our lodge. We stayed in the Bush Lodge and were welcomed with cool towels and a fresh juice on arrival. After a quick tour of the lodge we were shown to our rooms and WOW, did we choose a great place to Safari! The overall experience at Pumba was great, the rooms were lovely and we were lucky to get rooms overlooking the watering hole which meant for great game viewing from a private plunge pool on your deck!

Elephant herd in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

We enjoyed six game drives over the three days we were at Pumba, and we were very lucky to get to see the BIG 5! I couldn’t believe how close we could get to the animals, without intruding on them, and we experienced quite a few 'goosebump' moments, which will be etched in my memory forever. My favourite memory was getting stuck in the safari truck among a herd of elephants - we just had to sit and wait for them to pass us by. We spent 20 minutes just sitting in silence watching them tear through the bush, munching everything they could on their way, amazing!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my time in South Africa. Please do not hesitate to call me if you are thinking of going to South Africa on your next adventure.

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**

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