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A Family Holiday… in South Africa

| 28 Feb 2017

This tailor-made family trip was superbly organised by Cox & Kings, taking into consideration three generations; the youngest grandchild was 10 years old. And the eldest? Well, there’s no need to go into that…

Giraffes in Shamwari Game Reserve

Giraffe in Shamwari Game Reserve

We chose South Africa’s Western and Eastern Cape regions for good reason: there’s a favourable climate, no malaria, no jetlag, a direct flight to Cape Town, wildlife reserves, stunning scenery, and activities for the young ones as well as excellent wine and food for the adults. Our expectations were exceeded.

There were 10 of us in our family group. We had our own comfortable minibus, and an excellent driver and superb guide with us until the final stay at the wildlife reserve. The planning and organisation from Cox & Kings and the ground agents was faultless. Every single place we stayed in was different, and all of a very high standard with superb food and wine.

Cape Town

We began our trip in Cape Town, staying at the beautiful Cape Grace Hotel on the waterfront for three nights. We visited Kirstenbosch gardens, took a sunset cruise around Table Bay, kayaked (for the younger ones!), saw penguins at Boulders Beach, walked up to the lighthouse at Cape Point and watched the sea swell around the Cape of Good Hope.

Protea flower at Kirstenbosch

Protea flower in  Kirstenbosch gardens © Robert and Penny Cook 

We also took a walking tour with a difference, getting under the skin of the city’s culture through its cuisine and innovative business ideas.  It was followed, of course, by the cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain with wonderful views. One night we had a fun evening of music, dance and food from all over Africa at Gold Restaurant.

View from Table Mountain

View from Table Mountain

Stellenbosch

It was an easy 45-minute drive to Stellenbosch, where we spent two days touring the Winelands. We stayed at Hawksmoor House, a 300-year-old farmhouse complete with vineyard.

Stellenbosch vineyards

Vineyards in Stellenbosch

Oudtshoorn

We had an interesting drive through the mountain scenery of the Klein Karoo region before arriving in Oudtshoorn to stay at a guest farm with peaceful rural views.

The next day was an early start as we were taken to watch meerkats emerging from their burrows as the sun came up. It was a very special and rare opportunity to see these delightful animals.

Meerkats emerging from their burrows

Meerkats emerging from their burrows © Robert and Penny Cook 

Then it was back for a hearty breakfast and off to an ostrich farm to learn about the feather industry, see ostriches at all stages of growth and watch an ostrich race – they run incredibly fast!

Meeting an ostrich near Outdshoorn

Meeting an ostrich at the farm © Robert and Penny Cook 

Knysna

Our next stay was on the west side of Knysna lagoon, only a two-hour drive from Oudtshoorn. We spent a whole day on a boat trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve at the head of the lagoon; the scenery was stunning on a sunny day. We took a lovely walk and enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch overlooking the water before taking the boat back.

Featherbed Nature Reserve

Featherbed Nature Reserve

Port Elizabeth

A drive to the Tsitsikamma National Park took us to Storms River Mouth for a dramatic walk along the coast, with fabulous views of the coastline and the crashing sea. We then continued to Port Elizabeth where we stayed a night on the seafront.

Storms River Mouth, Tsitsikamma National Park

Storms River Mouth, Tsitsikamma National Park © Robert and Penny Cook 

Shamwari Game Reserve

The final five days were spent at Shamwari Game Reserve; the luxurious Riverdene Lodge and their friendly staff made this a truly memorable experience for everyone.  Our ranger taught us about the local wildlife as well as protection from poaching and conservation work being done there. We also visited the Born Free Foundation and the animal rehabilitation centre. We were fortunate to see all we had hoped to and so many more animals and birds, all from the comfort of our vehicle, not forgetting the welcome stops to watch the sunset with a drink. We were all sad to leave this special place.

Shamwari Game Reserve

Zebra at sunrise, Shamwari Game Reserve © Robert and Penny Cook 

Here are some comments from other members of the family:

I enjoyed all of it: Featherbed Reserve, Africa Gold, Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach and most of all the animals. (Aged 10)

An amazing and unforgettable trip. The food was incredible while the animals and scenery were simply stunning. (Aged 12)

I enjoyed getting off the plane, with the sights, sounds and smells very different to England. It was fun being able to see so much and take part in so many activities including tasting lots of unusual food, cooking samosas in a family home in Cape Town, kayaking and paddling in the sea next to the penguins. (Aged 11)  

Penguins, Cape Town

Getting up very early in the morning to go on safari was very worthwhile as it gave us an opportunity to see the Big Five as well as many other animals and birds. To see them in their own environment and witness at first hand the important work that goes on to save these animals from extinction was unbelievable.  Sometimes we bounced on bumpy tracks in our jeep at high speed to catch sight of a particular animal, but our ranger would always find it, including a lioness eating her kill.

Lioness eating kill

Lioness feasting © Robert and Penny Cook 

Cox & Kings helped our family to experience South Africa in a way that we wouldn’t have managed to do on our own. We’re in no doubt that we want to go back and explore some more.

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