OUT OF THE ORDINARY …
With more and more big five luxury lodges competing for a share of the still very cautious tourism spend, its going to be the imaginative ones that pop up on top.
The same applies to our travellers who were used to getting their kicks outside the borders of South Africa. They’re looking for the unexpected, the memorable and the romantic.
We believe that this country has so much to offer – and that it might even be worth making the most of the gap in the market for the very short time it will take for the internationals to again pack their bags and head to our shores.
Take it from us, they are already dipping a toe in our waters. A recent trip to the northern part of the Kruger National Park showed us that many Europeans are already making a trek to Africa. We even chatted to an Australian tour guide who declared that he was simply doing a “site visit”(wink wink)to inspect facilities post-Covid so that he could begin shipping in clients from Down Under.
Here are some of the imaginative treats that Out & About has come across of late:
BUBBLES IN THE BUSH AT THANDA SAFARI
The very name of this getaway suggests something a little above and beyond the ordinary.
Thanda Safari, one of South Africa’s renowned Big Five reserves, ticks all the boxes with its five- star accommodation, service and food, excellent game viewing and perfect weather. Add a little champers and you know you are in for a very special bush experience.
Thanda Safari’s Bubbles in the Bush runs from Friday September 30 to October 2 this year (2022) and is hosted by the brand ambassador for Moët & Chandon, RGBC (Really Great Brand Company). It promises a fun weekend of game drives, superior dining and lots of bubbly out in the bush.
Bubbles in the Bush includes a Champagne Masterclass, a 4-course paired Dinner, Champagne drinks stops – where you get to stop off and relish a glass of Moët & Chandon bubbly in the bush, and a Champagne Bush Breakfast.
Thanda Safari’s Bubbles in the Bush is priced from R3 650 per person sharing per night (single supplement applies) and includes two nights double occupancy at the luxurious Thanda Tented Camp which has spacious colonial safari-style tents with en-suite bathrooms and private viewing decks, two daily game drives with guide and tracker and all meals and local beverages.
A conservation levy of R220 per person per stay applies.
PILATES ON THE PLAINS
Tash B is back at Thanda Safari for another fabulous Wellness/Pilates Weekend in the bush from 2 to 4 September 2022.
Owner of the successful Tash B Pilates studio in Ballito KZN and an internationally certified pilates instructor, Tash B has a bright smile, infectious laugh, effervescent personality and a passion for pilates and will take you through a series of refreshing mind and body workouts.
The Wellness Weekend with Tash B package runs for two nights at R2 997 per person sharing per night. This includes two nights double occupancy at the luxurious Thanda Tented Camp, two game drives daily with guide and tracker, morning and afternoon pilates sessions (experience in pilates not required) as well as all meals and selected local beverages.
TOASTING THANDA SAFARI:
The multi-award winning Thanda Safari is a Big Five game reserve situated on 14 000 hectares in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal. It is owned by Swedish philanthropists Christin and Dan Olofsson. It offers an authentic South African wildlife experience with excellent game viewing all year round and has a sincere commitment to the Zulu culture and conservation of the environment. It is actively involved in conservation and wildlife research and works to uplift the local communities through ‘Star for Life’ and other projects.
RIDING THE WAVES
There is something magical about riding through the breakers as they tumble onto the beach. Described best as a feeling of freedom, you feel the carefree wind against your face, breathe in the fresh salty air and gaze ahead to the distant horizon.
If you’ve seen pictures of people riding horses on the beach set against a picturesque ocean backdrop and dreamed of experiencing this for yourself, head for the Wild Coast Sun, Sun Internationals’ only beachfront resort. A stone’s throw from the warm Indian Ocean, it is home to the Ocean Trails Equestrian Centre which offers 20 minute, 40 minute and 1-hour horse rides on the beach.
After you mount your horse, a tour guide on his own horse, leads you down a short path directly onto the beach.
Prices start from R50 to R350 per person, depending on the duration of the ride. Please note there is a weight restriction of 85kg.
Located just 5km from Port Edward, the resort straddles the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces. It is a two-hour drive from Durban’s King Shaka International Airport and half an hour from Margate Airport.
TAKING TO THE AIR
Sun City, South Africa’s most famous holiday resort, caters for those who are a little more wild at heart with a wide range of adventure and adrenalin activities.
Located in the magnificent and unspoilt surrounds of the bushveld in the North West province, Sun City boasts one of the world’s fastest, longest, and highest zip slides – and breath-taking views to go along with your 120km/h ride through the skies.
‘Flyers’ are secured in two separate harnesses and suspended below a free running trolley that is attached to a steel cable. Solo and tandem slides are available, so this ride has an appeal for even the most amateur adventure junkie.
The Maze of the Lost City is another unique adventure. One of the largest permanent mazes in the southern hemisphere, it is constructed from artificial stone and wood, creating the illusion of an ancient archaeological discovery.
The Maze covers a half-acre and is accessed via a 100-metre-long suspension bridge with spectacular views of the resort.
When night falls, flaming torches light the paths along the chambers.
Adjacent to Sun City is the 55 000 hectare Pilanesberg Nature Reserve, home to 6 000 animals and 300 species of birds. Visitors can see the big five as well as cheetah, wild dogs, zebra, giraffe and crocodiles with the help of Manikwe Gametrackers. They offer a number of different ways to explore South Africa’s fifth largest national park. Bush experiences include a three-hour game drive or a stint on a quad bike. Guests can also view game from a hot air balloon.
This one couldn’t be more unlike luxury lodge activities if you tried – but it is probably one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the iconic Kruger National Park and its residents. Situated on the banks of the Tsendze River in one of the most pristine areas (which is quite literally in the middle of nowhere), the Shipandani Hide is your standard rustic wooden hide with benches looking out of a series of ‘windows’ by day. By night, fold-away beds can be lowered from the walls behind and guests can look forward to seeing a range of waterbirds and big game from the comfort of their beds.
Animals are quite habituated to the wooden hide and tend to come quite close to it by night, offering amazing viewing opportunities, not to mention some interesting nocturnal sound effects.
Although comfortable for a small group, the hide’s facilities are very basic with no electricity or running water. You can either bring your own bedding and camping gear or arrange for some from the nearby Mopani camp. There’s a braai area and a rustic toilet – but most importantly of all, you on your own in one of the wildest of places. This is the ultimate place to enjoy a sundowner!