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Find yourself in South Africa

Amity’s Sue Taylor has recently returned from a trip to Cape Town and the Garden Route as a guest of our friends at Travel2. Here are her reflections on this amazing opportunity…

Situated on the south western tip of Africa, Cape Town and the Eastern Cape are recognised as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Whatever type of holiday you are looking for you’ll find it in South Africa, from cosmopolitan Cape Town to Atlantic surf or African bush.

The Seasons are opposite to our own as we’re deep into the Southern Hemisphere, and although it is a year round destination with a Mediterranean climate, the most popular time to visit is between October and April.

Although definitely a long-haul destination as it’s an 11 hour flight away, jet-lag is hardly in issue as you head virtually due south and there is only a one hour time difference between Cape Town and London.

Cape Town is famous for the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, set in the busy harbour with fabulous views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. More commonly known as the V & A Waterfront, it was originally built in 1860 , with the first load of stone laid by Queen Victoria’s 16 year old son Alfred. It is similar to Gunwharf Quays, with a multitude of shopping , dining and entertainment options.

Towering 1085 metres above Cape Town, Table Mountain is the most photographed icon in South Africa. The cable car has been running for over 80 years and no visit is complete without a glimpse of Table Mountain’s famous tablecloth, a meteorological phenomenon that causes cloud to tumble down the mountain slopes like billowing fabric. You may also see Fynbos vegetation including the King Protea, South Africa’s national flower. So it is best to visit as soon as possible when the weather is clear.

A few days in Cape Town are not complete without a visit to the Cape Peninsula encompassing the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, situated at the junction of Atlantic and Indian oceans and Boulders beach, and home to over 3000 pairs of African Penguins. Both can be visited in an afternoon from Cape Town and offer stunning scenery and pretty coastal towns.

An hour from Cape Town, the wine-lands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek offer world-class vineyards and beautiful country house style hotels. Settled over 300 years ago by the Huguenots leaving a legacy of Gallic culture, pavement cafes and art galleries. Stay in boutique Cape Dutch style homesteads, full of character and offering sumptuous cuisine.

Why not head off to Route 62, the start of the famous garden route stretching along the coast, travelling through miles of sweeping, unspoilt beaches backed by forest and mountain views towards Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Here you can participate in some of the best whale and dolphin watching experiences from cliff paths on foot or by boat or sea kayaking. Take a few days to explore the Tsitsikamma National park and visit Oudshoorn – the world’s Ostrich capital.

Conveniently situated at the end of the garden route the Eastern game reserves offer a malaria free safari experience. Many of the lodges were originally settlers homes from 1800’s and have been beautifully restored and may have featured in the ITV series Wild at Heart. Choose from idyllic thatched chalet lodges with private plunge pools and timber decking, to family friendly accommodation .

Game drives in the early morning and late afternoon provide an opportunity to see the big five – Elephants, Lions, Rhinos, Buffalo and Leopard. You will be taken on safari in an open jeep with an experienced game ranger, a thrilling experience when Elephants pass close-by, or a leopard is spotted on a hill top. Your day will be finished by a sun-downer at sunset with a view of the unique African bush and the satisfaction of seeing the Big 5 in their natural habitat.

Your holiday can be completed by flying home from Port Elizabeth, a perfect end to your ‘world in one country’ holiday.