South Africa

Situated at the tip of the African continent and surrounded by two oceans, South Africa boasts breathtaking scenery, quaint coastal villages and cosmopolitan cities. In one trip to South Africa, you can stand in the desert, climb a mountain and relax on a sandy beach backed by tropical forest. Add to this, a truly exhilarating Big Five South African safari, some of the best wine in the world, and a fascinating cultural heritage to discover and you have a destination that is perfect for the entire family.

SOUTH AFRICA ~ the bespoke to do list

Below, are the can’t miss highlights every traveler needs on their list, when traveling to South Africa.

• Spend a few days exploring the stunning city of Cape Town
• Stand in Mandela’s cell on Robben Island
• Toast the sunset from the flat top of Table Mountain – one of the most spiritual places on earth.
•Visit the gently rolling green vineyards blanketing the Franschhoek and Stellenbosch valleys to sample the food and wines of the Winelands.
• Between June and October, travel to Hermanus where the cliffs drop steeply into the the ocean, and the whales come to within 30 metres from the shore.
•Spot the Big Five in Kruger National Park which offers outstanding South African safari.
•Safari in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve where you have the greatest likelihood of seeing leopard in South Africa.
Discover the empty beaches of the remote and wild Elephant Coast. Between December and February if you want to catch a glimpse of the turtles making their annual migration to nest on the beaches.

South Africa

hotels we love

safari

chitwa chitwa

Kruger National Park, South Africa Chitwa Chitwa is more than just a luxury private game lodge in the bush. It’s a holistic and sensorial experience which starts at sunrise and captures the very essence of the magnificent wildlife heritage and natural landscape of Africa before sunset. The luxury lodge basks in the sun on the banks of one of the largest waters of the exclusive 63,000 hectare Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park. This area, in turn, is incorporated into the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – a world-class eco-tourism destination managed to optimise benefits for the sustainable economic development of local communities and biodiversity conservation. The area shaded in blue represents the traversing area of Chitwa Chitwa – some 5,500ha – this is the area over which we take guests on game drives. Visit the hotel website.

Leopard Hills

Sabi Sand Game Reserve  Award-winning Leopard Hills is located in the western sector of the renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, bordering the world famous Kruger National Park. The Lodge is perfectly set on a rocky outcrop, offering magnificent views over the bush and an active waterhole on the plains below. The Reserve comprises over 10,000 hectares of incredibly diverse ecosystems making Leopard Hills the ideal destination to view plentiful game in its natural habitat. Here the ‘Big 5’ (elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard) abound and viewing them at close proximity is our speciality. Visit the hotel website.

tanda tula

Timbavati, Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa Tanda Tula Safari Camp is positioned amongst enormous trees on the banks of the Nhlaralumi Riverbed, in the heart of Big Five country. Visitors are welcomed into this picturesque camp which exudes “elegance with African roots”. Tanda Tula Safari Camp is owned and run by Don and Nina Scott, together with their incredible team of staff. Guests are immediately captivated by the down-to-earth atmosphere of this family home, as well as the charm and warmth of the people that live and work here.The camp is completely unfenced merging luxury with the natural environment. The tented camp consists of just 12 secluded, luxury tents, each with a breathtaking view over the riverbed. The East African styled tents are the epitome of simple luxury, comfort and style mirroring the early tented camps of Africa. Each luxurious tent features its own en-suite bathroom, Victorian bathtub, outdoor shower and a spacious deck overlooking the riverbed and African bush. Visit the hotel website.

makanyia Private game lodge

Timbavati Private Nature Reserve  Makanyi is located in the southern sector of the Timbavati, a place that has been dubbed as “The Place Where Something Sacred Came Down to Earth”. Indeed, Makanyi Lodge itself is a heavenly place and, what’s more, it couldn’t be better located. The Timbavati is an area of prime game viewing, home to the “Big Five” and a place to enjoy excellent sightings of the Wild Dogs, when they come through. We are in the Greater Kruger National Park, an area of over 2.4 million hectares in which animals roam freely and, being one of very few commercial lodges in this area, it is a truly wild, authentic and private experience. Visit the hotel website.

ebony lodge

Sabi Sand   Singita Ebony Lodge, located on the Sand River, is a fresh and contemporary interpretation of the classic safari lodge, combining tented camp and bush lodge style. Inspired by the romance and adventure of tented camps, explorers’ abodes and campaign furniture, Ebony’s interiors are enhanced by the lustre of well-polished ebony and mahogany woods and natural fibres in cool tones. All this is brought to life by the rich, golden glow of old brass, hand-woven baskets, traditional khaki and beige tent canvas and exposed thatch.The lodge comprises 12 suites, each with its own private plunge pool. External walls have been almost completely removed and replaced by canvas and glass to create new safari tent-style suites to maximise views and space, and allow guests to be immersed in nature. Outdoor pavilion decks – ideal for dining and relaxing – are suspended off the river banks as if hanging in the trees. Visit the hotel website.

 

boulders lodge

Sabi Sand   The lodge is a celebration of the tranquillity, space, and light which flows throughout this incredibly vast area. Inspired by the geometry of the boulders on which it rests, Boulders Lodge is an inviting oasis where organic interiors integrate seamlessly with the raw African beauty outside. Singita Boulders Lodge is perfectly at home in its pristine setting and whether through walls of glass or open-air areas, the surrounding landscape and animals can be seen and enjoyed from every angle, making for a truly immersive safari experience. Visit the hotel website.

sweni Lodge

Kruger National Park   Resting lightly upon the ground within a 33,000 acre, private concession in the Kruger National Park, Singita Sweni Lodge is nestled beautifully amongst hundreds of trees at the edge of the Sweni River. Tucked into the banks of the Sweni River, this intimate lodge is a hidden jewel that provides a bold, new African context for contemporary design. With its proximity to the river, guests at Singita Sweni Lodge are treated to up-close sightings of the incredible number of animals and birds that wander down to drink or wallow in the river. Visit the hotel website.

 

lebombo lodge

Kruger National Park   Singita Lebombo Lodge is a celebration of cutting-edge design in an African context where everything defers to nature. With 13 suites and one private-use villa, guests are given a front row seat to the Kruger National Park with open plan suites suspended above the N’Wanetsi River. Other highlights of the lodge include a roof terrace and wine studio (a multi-level retreat which boasts a library, multi-media room, wine studio and rooftop viewing area), an interactive kitchen, an espresso bar and help-yourself deli, and an additional 25-metre lap pool. All communal areas of the lodge have been pushed out to ensure that the outside bursts in, offering calm and meditative spaces immersed in a dramatic landscape of giant euphorbia trees.  Visit the hotel website.

city

belmond mount nelson hotel

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa  Captivating visitors since 1899, Cape Town’s iconic resort hotel is a tranquil hideaway just moments from the city’s buzzing heart. Our 198 individually designed rooms and suites and a host of fabulous facilities appeal equally to romantic couples, families or adventurous groups. Stroll through our expansive gardens, take a tree tour or browse the outdoor sculpture exhibition. Discover the hotel’s history, art and culture on self-guided tours. Enjoy imaginative cuisine in our restaurants and soothing bliss at the spa. Just beyond our gates lies the pulsating city, with stunning beaches and historic hotspots moments away. Forever watching over the hotel is Table Mountain, another wondrous Cape Town landmark. Visit the hotel website.

cape grace hotel

Cape Town, South Africa  Cape Grace is Cape Town’s most exquisite and stylish hideaway. Set on a private quay in the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the hotel takes inspiration from the city’s rich cultural heritage. Double-glazed French doors open to Table Mountain or harbor views from each room. Enjoy superb Cape contemporary cuisine in Signal Restaurant. Afternoon Tea in the Library is a favorite among guests and locals alike, and Bascule Whisky, Wine and Cocktail bar on the water offers one of the largest whiskey collections in the Southern Hemisphere. Find solace and rejuvenate with locally inspired treatments in the world-class spa.  Visit the hotel website.

ellerman house

Cape Town, South Africa  Situated in the heart of Bantry Bay (one of Cape Town’s most exclusive neighborhoods), Ellerman House, Member of Relais & Châteaux, is an elegant mansion just ten minutes away from the city center and within walking distance of Clifton and Camps Bay beaches. Whether you choose the luxurious atmosphere of Ellerman House or the modern art gallery style of its two three-bedroom villas, you will fall under the spell of an address that lets you enjoy all the pleasures of Cape Town. Enjoy dining on gourmet cuisine, tasting fine vintage wines and surveying the impressive private art collection; plus, the ocean view is spectacular! Visit the hotel website.

Fairlawns boutique hotel & spa

Johannesburg, South Africa  With close attention to detail and exceptional service, Fairlawns creates an intimate atmosphere where some of the globe’s most vibrant personalities converge. The 41 suites are decorated in varying themes ranging from Eastern influence to French provincial. Fairlawns is 6 km from central Sandton and 20 km from the Johannesburg city center, offering a mix of luxury and convenience. Previously a luxury private residence, the property has an air of eclectic sophistication. Consider Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa your home away from home, where exceptional service and heartfelt hospitality can be soaked up like the African sun. Visit the hotel website.

one & only cape town

Cape Town, South Africa One&Only Cape Town rises seven stories above the marina and offers sublime views of Table Mountain from its prime waterfront location. Interiors are fresh and modern, incorporating African fabrics and furnishings; guests enjoy sumptuous accommodations and glass doors leading to private balconies. One&Only Spa is located on a private island in the middle of the waterway, as are 40 one- and two-bedroom Island Suites. Celebrated chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Reuben Riffel have each created dramatic signature restaurants specifically for One&Only Cape Town. Purchase sophisticated fashions and even magnificent African art at Neo Boutique. Visit the hotel website.

silo hotel

Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, South AfricaTopping Cape Town’s new Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA), the family-owned Silo Hotel hits all the high notes. This former grain elevator has been reimagined as a work of art in its own right, with 18-foot-high pillowed windows that glow like beacons over the V&A Waterfront. Watch the bustle below while soaking in the freestanding tub in one of 28 rooms, each a bold mix of colors, prints, textures and eras. Champagne and carving trolleys roll through the eclectic Granary Café, while the spa is sumptuously serene. Grab a glass of Pinotage and check out the write-home-about sunset on the wraparound rooftop terrace. Visit the hotel website.

winelands

la residence

Franschhoek, Western Cape, South AfricaSet in South Africa’s wine country, amid tranquil vineyards and against a majestic mountain backdrop, La Residence is an extraordinary retreat designed in the style of a French country manor. Fine antiques, sumptuous Persian carpets and gleaming black-and-white marble flooring all bespeak luxury, and the staff goes to great lengths to ensure it. Swing open the terrace doors of your suite (one of only 11, each unique) and admire mountain views. Dine alfresco on the rose terrace or in the opulent dining room — there are no set times for breakfast, lunch or dinner; food of the highest order is prepared on demand.  Visit the hotel website.

Le quartier francais

Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa  The intimate, boutique-style Le Quartier Français is all about personal indulgences, recognizing that a vacation is perhaps the only time one can focus entirely on the finer things in life. To this end, the hotel offers a prime Franschhoek winelands valley location, stunning accommodations (including a villa) and the delights of world-renowned cuisine. Le Quartier Français is the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding wine farms, or you can simply walk into the village to discover its quaint charms.   Visit the hotel website.

grande provence

Franschhoek, South AfricaGrande Provence Estate wears her 300-year history with dignity. Sitting in the magnificent Franschhoek Valley in South Africa’s Western Cape, her lush vines spread across 47-acres with gentle vistas over the valley floor, with the rugged mountains beyond. This is heartland South African wine country at its finest. The pride of the Estate s the Owner’s cottage but for added space and extra privacy, stay in La Provençale Villa in the Vineyards. La Provençale Villa’s secluded spot overlooks the grapevines and mountains beyond, offering the extra privacy you seek when soaking in your private pool or dining à deux on your terrace. Visit the hotel website.

mont rochelle

Franschhoek, South Africa  Sir Richard Branson’s love for the African continent and finer things in life lured him to the Western Cape Province and Mont Rochelle. There, in the food and wine capital of South Africa, guests can unwind and make themselves at home while dining on healthy and locally sourced cuisine, tasting superb shiraz and chardonnay in the 150-year-old cellar, and exploring the rolling vineyards and well-tended grounds in one of the world’s most bucolic settings. The 26 bedrooms are bright and airy and many have private terraces or balconies. An intimate spa offers a hammam and healing treatments using grapes, herbs and spices. Visit the hotel website.

beach

strandloper oCean lodge

Paternoster, Cape Town & The Western Cape, South Africa.  Looking for an unspoiled ocean getaway? The Strandloper Ocean Hotel, one of our favourite little finds in South Africa, is an airy easide escape that exudes beachy minimalism in the form of white linens, pale woods, and animal-hide rugs. Hidden away on the shores of the authentic fishing village of Paternoster, only 90 minutes’ from Cape Town, this is a coastal destination with immeasurable charm. The 14 rooms are a fusion of beach style and contemporary luxury and each has its own terrace or private courtyard that open out onto breathtaking views. Set off on an endless beach walk in search of whales and dolphins, hop onto a bike for a leisurely ride or take to the waves on a kayak. Paternoster is a seafood and lobster Mecca and te hotel creates inspired cuisine with a local and organic slant at their Leeto – meaning “journey” restaurant, which also serves up breathtaking views. A romantic venue for couples, honeymooners or anyone looking for some special me-time, the Strandloper offers the best of West Coast hospitality and fuss-free luxury. Visit the hotel website.

a birkenhead house

Hermanus, Garden Route, South Africa.  Perched on a cliff top in Hermanus, Birkenhead House provides a haven of luxury for those travelling along the Garden Route. Only 1.5hours from Cape Town, this boutique hotel offers 11 beautiful rooms and accommodates guests in the utmost luxury. Decorated to reflect the beauty of its coastal setting, it is adorned with rare maritime antiques and sumptuous fabrics. No expense has been spared in making this the ultimate coastal retreat. Enjoy magnificent ocean views from any of the balconies. The terrace, with pool, offers unrestricted sea views along the bay towards Hermanus itself and is the perfect spot for your evening sundowner. Hermanus is also well-known as being one of the best places on the Western Cape for whale watching in season, from July to November. It is often possible to sit on the terrace and watch the whales in the sea in front of Birkenhead House. It is the perfect destination for those seeking the epitome of stylish seaside living.   Visit the hotel website.

retreat

bartholomeus Klip farmhouse

Riebeek Valley near Cape Town Bartholomeus Klip is a restored Victorian homestead on an operational wheat and sheep farm amid the 10,000 acres Elandsberg Nature Reserve in the Cape Winelands, an hour and a half’s drive from Cape Town. The main farmhouse (which is over 100 years old) has only four luxury rooms and a suite, so exclusivity is guaranteed. There is also the Wild Olive House with has two double bedrooms, a single bedroom and two bathrooms, ideal for families. Highlights of a stay are the morning and evening game drives through the nature reserve. Up to ten guests at a time, can enjoy walking, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and birdwatching, or just to switch off and relax. The farmstead is an excellent base for exploring the Cape Winelands. Visit the hotel website.

tintswalo atlantic

Boutique Beach Lodge in Cape TownWidely known as Cape Town’s hidden gem, Tintswalo Atlantic is a 5 star, award-winning boutique lodge nestled at the base of the ocean-facing Table Mountain National Park. Sitting at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, the lodge is perched on a pebbled beach and enjoys panoramic views of the picturesque Hout Bay harbour, the dramatic Sentinel mountain peak, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Visit the hotel website.

bushmans kloof

Clanwilliam, South AfricaInhale the tranquillity of this award-winning lodge, only 168 miles from Cape Town. Surrounded by timeless beauty that exudes a mystical energy, the reserve offers a wilderness experience of healing and well-being. Delicious organic cuisine created from the freshest produce is served in breathtaking dining locations, while the holistic spa offers pampering treatments. A sanctuary to more than 130 Bushman rock art sites, the retreat allows guests to interact freely with nature and participate in exhilarating outdoor adventures amidst open plains, clear waterfalls and majestic rock formations of the Cederberg Mountains. Visit the hotel website.

 

What Our Bespoke travelers Are Saying

Don’t just take it from us, let our bespoke clients do the talking!

“We made it to our camp in Botswana. Already encountered as we were driving to our camp, a leopard, baboons, African Buffalo’s, jackal, impalas,….Had a wonderful dinner, fish for me and game meat for Marc with a sky full of stars. Five star dining. Great wines, Porto for dessert and Amarullo to complete our evening.”

Marc & Danielle Caron, April 2018. Africa Safari Destination: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.

“We are so lucky to have had this extraordinary adventure on the other side of the globe Africa. Thank you to Marie-France Gravel of Bespoke Travel Design, for planning this trip of a lifetime for us!”

D. Friesema, Summer Family Safari. Destination: Africa

“We are back from our Moroccan getaway and the trip was incredible! I wanted to pass on a thank you to you for your help in organizing such a diverse itinerary. Tanya and I feel we were able to enjoy the beauty and diversity of Morocco while also having a chance to understand the people, their background and customs. A special shout out to our tour guide (Said) and driver (Moustafa) who were courteous, insightful and always on time. They were a pleasure to tour with and provided enjoyable company esp. over some of the longer drives. The accommodations were incredible (every location was unique). Kasbah Tamadot in particular was a real treat and Eve Branson was there as well so you can see her passion for the property and the local Berber’s her foundation supports. Again, much appreciation from Tanya and myself. Now we can begin planning for Hawaii in March!”

Richard & Tanya, Oct 2016 - Romantic Getaway. Destination: Morocco, Africa.

“After a few more amazing trips you’ve planned for us to Tahiti, Bora Bora, Australia (again) and just back from Morocco, it’s time to update this review. Actually, not much has changed. You’re still a 5 star trip planner and, if anything, it’s even more apparent now how much you care about researching amazing places for us to go, things for us to do and hotels for us to stay at. These trips are definitely not “run of the mill” and you put so much work into making sure they’re perfect for us and not cookie cutter trips. You care about making sure we’re absolutely happy with everything, available to help while we’re travelling and do a wonderful job. Please keep it up! We can’t wait for our next trip.made it to our camp in.”

Michael, Katherine, Cole and Alannah - August 2018. Large Family Adventure. Destination: Morocco and Israel

Our trip to Morocco was great and definitely exceeded my expectations. All the hotels were fabulous and the staff extremely helpful. The Branson retreat (Kabash Tamadot, Atlas Mountains) was amazing! I’d go back there in a flash. It was my favourite part of the trip. I always recommend you to friends and will be in touch again soon, to plan our next adventure.”

Patricia, Jack & Joshua Kay, August 2018

Family Adventure. Destination, Morocco, Africa

Looking to extend your trip?

A holiday or safari in South Africa combines well with beach time in Mozambique or Mauritius, or safari in neighbouring Botswana or Namibia …