The Tour begins at Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo Airport on Friday 3 February. Guests will be met by transport organized by “The Residence”, our luxurious boutique hotel in the Houghton area for the next three nights. The rest of the day is devoted to relaxation and recovery from the international flights.
On Saturday, various visits are planned on our first full day in Johannesburg, including, to Soweto in the morning (“Credo Mutwa”, Hector Petersen Museum and/or Apartheid Museum, and the new “Museum Africa”). These provide a broad perspective on the Apartheid era. Early afternoon, we will get an impression of the vibrant art in modern South Africa by visiting a couple of art galleries, before returning to the hotel to change for a casual early dinner out, with invited guests, followed, subject to availability, by a visit to the theatre.
After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday, 5 February, we will visit the weekly Arts & Crafts fair in Rosebank, where you will be able to acquire an amazing collection of unique souvenirs of South Africa at attractive prices. After lunch, we will drive to Pretoria to visit the “Union Buildings” (Government Headquarters), as well as the “Voortrekker Monument”, providing a very different perspective on the apartheid years.
Back to the hotel for dinner, with some other invited guests.
DURBAN – The #1 holiday resort (and the largest port on the continent)
We will have an early departure on Monday from “The Residence” in order to catch a 10am flight to Durban, where we will be staying at the Oyster Box Hotel on the beach at Umhlanga Rocks, on the north coast of Durban. This is an elegant, and long-established, hotel. After lunch at the hotel, we will take a tour of this city in its lush sub-tropical vegetation, including the Botanical Gardens, the oldest surviving botanic garden on the African continent.
We will have a casual supper at a restaurant in Umhlanga Rocks.
The following day, the morning will be open for individual activities, and we plan to have lunch at the Durban Country Club, a classic “links” golf course, where the South African Open Golf Tournament has been held more than any other venue. After lunch, we will head off to the “Phoenix Settlement”, where Mahatma Ghandi lived for many years, and where he developed his philosophy of non-violent response to power. Return late afternoon. Dinner at the Oyster Box, with invited guests.
DRAKENSBERG MOUNTAINS – World Heritage Site
On Wednesday 8 February, we will head inland into the Midlands of the Provence of KwaZulu-Natal. Passing through lush scenery, we will stop at the Ardmore Pottery to see the output of this now world-renowned establishment, and hopefully to meet with the extraordinary woman who created the institution in order to help individuals with AIDS. Many of our past guests have taken home some of these works of art. The President of South Africa gave an Ardmore piece of pottery to the Queen of England when on a State Visit. After a light lunch at a nearby country inn we will head towards the Drakensberg Mountains, where we will find Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in the foothills. This country inn was created by, and is owned by, Richard & “Mouse” Poynton. Richard is the chef and Mouse is the designer/decorator. Each dinner is a tour de force and one is grateful for the opportunity to shed some calories the following day by hiking up to see bushmen cave paintings, or riding horses in the valley !
NAMBITI PRIVATE RESERVE – Esiweni Lodge
Having read rave reviews about the Esiweni Lodge last year in various international publications, we went to experience it this last February, and were simply amazed. Architecturally stunning, in a dramatic location, a stay here is a delight. Add the French owners’ contribution in the form of Franco-South African cuisine, and the fact that the Nambiti Reserve is one of the best and loveliest we have known (non-malaria zone too), and this place is a rare find. So we are delighted that you will come to Esiweni on Friday 10 February for three nights to experience it too. Before arriving, however, we will stop for a short visit at Ladysmith to visit the museum and recall the interesting history of the area during the Anglo-Boer War.
In the next three days, you will experience the African “bush”, with sightings of the “Big 5”, some surprising activities, lovely surroundings, and good food.
CAPE TOWN – In the Shadow of Table Mountain
We leave Esiweni quite early on Monday 13 February in order to catch an early afternoon flight from Durban to Cape Town. Once arrived at Cape Town, one of the loveliest cities in the world, we will be taken to our hotel, the Cellars-Hohenort – a Grande Dame of Cape Hotels and one of the first “Relais et Châteaux” in the country. Nestled in a lovely garden in Constantia, it is a haven of peace. We will spend three nights here, and over the next few days will see some or all of the following :
- Cape Peninsular, including Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Point Nature Reserve, Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach, Simonstown
- Robben Island and Mandela’s cell
- Rhodes Memorial
- National Botanical Gardens at Kirstenbosch
- National Gallery, District Six Museum, Gold Museum
- The Waterfront
- Camps Bay
We will have lunches and dinners in lovely spots, and just might be able to fit in a visit to one of the elegant “Cape Dutch” style 17th century vineyards in Constantia.
FRANSCHHOEK – Louis XII’s gift to South Africa – The Huguenots
Thursday 16 February and we drive out to the Cape Winelands area. We will first visit one of the loveliest Estates in the Cape – Vergelegen – established in 1700, near Somerset West. A very historic property, it is also one of the better wineries. We will stroll in their impeccable gardens and take lunch there after visiting the modern winery. After lunch, the next stop is Franschhoek itself, a small, but cosmopolitan town in a very beautiful setting that is proud of its culinary and oeniphile heritage. We will be staying in two houses at La Clé des Montagnes, within minutes’ walk of the centre of the town. The rest of the afternoon getting to know the town, including the impressive Huguenot Monument. If there is availability, we’ll have dinner at Richard Branson’s hotel, the Mont Rochelle, with its scenic view over the valley.
The following day we will have a choice of exploring more in Franschhoek, and/or visiting some of the special wineries in the area. Dinner at our “home” to end the day!
Then on 18th February, we have an early departure to go to Cape Town airport for the flight to Botswana.