Travel has been an integral part of my life for more than two decades now. I love what I do, but it really is more than a job for me. From a very young age, I was enthralled by the natural, authentic beauty of the African continent. Our shores, mountains and wildlife, especially, are irreplaceable attractions that make us unique from the rest of the world. The rich cultures and heritage are the kaleidoscope of colour to our rainbow nation and South Africans humble nature always seems to resonate with international travellers.
Looking back now, I guess travel was always going to be where I ended up. After every family holiday I would tell my parents how the itinerary could have been planned differently (meaning better…ha-ha). I soon realised that I had found my career aspirations and the rest as they say, is history. Sharing the passion for travel and connecting with people all over the world gives me immense joy. I take tremendous pride in what I offer my clients and as such, I build each itinerary from scratch. Rhino Africa Safaris is always about tailor-made holidays which allows me to put my client’s needs first. This is exactly how real relationships are formed and that’s why Rhino Africa has been my home for so many years!
Bush & Beach: Why I love this particular Tour
A bush and beach tour is all about easy travelling and exclusivity. While most people would never put these two concepts together, this tour takes travellers through some of the most culturally rich destinations and spectacular natural scenery in South Africa and Mozambique. And all with almost no one around, this is pure isolation bliss.
Easy travelling in this case because a valid passport is all you need and with direct flights connecting all these destinations, it really makes this trip easy sailing. Clients from the United States, United Kingdom or Australia don’t need pre-arranged visas either, they can get them on arrival which means this tour can be planned and booked very last minute. This is perfect for a busy executive who might not be able to plan their leave months in advance or for someone eager to travel when lockdown is lifted.
Starting in Cape Town
I would always recommend having Cape Town in an itinerary and if you have extra days to spare, include the Winelands. Cape Town is a unique city with so many options right on your doorstep. My guests are always amazed at the close proximity of everything, meaning you can get so much done in a short space of time here. Cape Town offers something for everyone: think adventure, culture, food and the beach. There is a reason this city makes all the “best of” lists every year. Some of the more unusual experiences I always love to include in my itineraries are surfing, township tours, hiking and even paragliding for the adventurous at heart.
My favourite Places to stay:
- The Silo Hotel: A multi-award winning hotel for obvious reasons. Exceptional design and a highly personalised experience to match.
- Camissa House: A small luxury boutique hotel right on Table Mountain with some of the best views in Cape Town.
- One&Only: A great location within the V&A Waterfront, this hotel always goes the extra mile for the guest.
Exploring the Cape Winelands
I’m going to start this section by stating right upfront that this is not Napa Valley – not anything like it. The Cape Winelands is a short 40min drive from the city and has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. While being the wine capital of South Africa, this area is also home a few of the best restaurants in the world. I would always recommend adding a few nights to properly explore this region, there is so much to do and see and even if wine is not a passion of yours, you will still fall in love with the quaint towns and relaxed lifestyle. A few interesting things I like to arrange for my clients are chocolate or cheese wine tastings and if wine is of interest a session with the Wine Fairy is a must. If you are a person who likes to explore in a more laid back, gentle manner then the wine tram is an absolute gem and a great way to enjoy a number of wine farms as you slowly amble through the vineyards.
My Favourite Places to Stay:
- Delaire Graff: This hotel is an experience all on its own. With an incredible location, exquisite views, gorgeous art and spectacular food & wine, you really could stay here your entire trip.
- La Residence: There is a reason Elton John stays here when he comes to South Africa. The rest you will have to see for yourself; this hotel is simply stunning.
- Leeu Estates: A great location; situated within walking distance from Franschhoek main street. Modern, luxurious and incredible attention to detail.
Jetting off to Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve
One of the reasons I love connecting Cape Town with the Sabi Sand Reserve is that there is a direct flight every day. This means you could wake up in the city in the morning and go to bed with the lions roaring at night, simply mind-blowing. The Sabi Sand Private Reserve is all about exclusivity. I love sending clients here because there is no need to include any other reserves or concessions to get a full safari experience. The Sabi Sand Reserve has it all: incredible game viewing (the big 5 and more), limited game vehicles so no throngs of tourists or busy crowded sightings and some of the best safari lodges in the world too.
My favourite Places to Stay:
- Tengile River Lodge: The architecture and design of this lodge sets it apart. It has a very authentic feel as well as being highly sophisticated. This lodge offers some of the most incredible game viewing too.
- Dulini Private Game Lodge: This is a very special lodge and a firm favourite for repeat guests. They really go the extra mile with each guest and their attention to detail is sublime. They also do a great honeymoon promotion for those who have recently tied the knot.
- Lion Sands: This lodge offers an exceptional all-round safari experience. They also have a number of lodge options so there is something for everyone. It is very luxurious and always ranking in the tops in the luxury safari lodge award category.
The last stop…. Mozambique
From the glorious wilderness of the Sabi Sand to the white sandy beaches of Mozambique. A mere two hour flight will take you to Vilanculos Airport where you will be met by your captain for your private helicopter flight to the Bazaruto Island. This is a quick 15min helicopter and even those a little scared of flying will be astounded by the amazing views of the ocean and possibly even seeing whales and dolphins from the air. Mozambique is so authentic and while many would not think it matches the safari experience, these two destinations mesh beauitfully into a seamless holiday – all of it being uniquely African. A few days at the beach is the perfect way to finish off a holiday. With the most crystal clear blue waters gently lapping onto the deserted white sandy beach and your private villa opening directly onto this – this is what dreams are made of.
My favourite Places to Stay:
- Azura Benguerra Island Lodge: You feel like you may be on a deserted island, this lodge is remote with all the luxurious charm of an island paradise. A perfect honeymoon destination.
- &Beyond Benguerra Island: This lodge effortlessly combines luxury with a laid back, relaxed atmosphere. They are also reknown for great game fishing possibilities.
- Azura Marlin Lodge: Probably the best view for an ocean sunset, this lodge also offers incredible water-based activities.
The Perfect post Covid Itinerary
Considering what the future of travel is likely to look like with Covid-19 being a factor, the statement of less is more definitely rings true. While having the freedom to explore and immerse yourself in a culture or space you also need to be mindful of where you are going and limiting your time in crowded spaces. This tour is precisely the kind of low impact, low human contact type of travel I would embark in once lockdown restrictions are lifted. It provides the high-end, rich experiences we all want to have with the reassurance of plenty of wide-open, natural spaces.
So many times in travel, we are so keen to pack in too much and see everything that we forget the real purpose of the holiday in the first place. This tour will certainly tick all the boxes of must-see attractions and off-the-beaten track experiences but will also leave you with a profound connection to Africa, her wild spaces, animals and incredible people and a deep feeling of relaxation.
From the Horses Mouth – a few words from my past clients
“I first met Desiré Saayman several years ago at a literal intersection of her two passions in life, work and family. After fooling around on the internet booking a trip on my own, Londolozi’s website wisely recommended Icon Expeditions, and after emailing a short while with Desiré, my wife and I found ourselves beginning the best trip of our lives in a restaurant on Table Mountain with Desiré and her husband. Everywhere we went, from Western Cape to the Winelands, via Blue Train to Nelson Mandela’s home in Johannesburg, to Londolozi Tree Camp in Sabi Sand and Royal Malewane Lodge in Thornybush – everything from point-to-point transportation, to the hotels and lodges themselves couldn’t have been more smoothly organised or outright spectacular. Of course, in the bush when is a black rhinoceros ten feet from an open-top vehicle not spectacular? But only with Desiré’s love and continuously refreshed knowledge of the lodges, reserves and the animals themselves, were we all but guaranteed to see all we came for, and much more that we hadn’t even imagined and will never forget. She’s also just booked another adventure for us in Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique and again South Africa – and we wouldn’t dream of booking with anyone else.”
– Tod and Dru Carroll, Tucson, Arizona, USA
“Our experience with Rhino Africa was stellar from our first phone conversation with Desiré Saayman. We were very skeptical about booking a tour “over the phone”from a company across the world, with a person we had never met. But after our first conversation with Des, we knew we found the person who could give us exactly what we wanted. Des gave us a trip of a lifetime.
Looking back at all the e-mails and phone calls, its a wonder we didn’t drive Des crazy. (Or maybe we did!). She was always responsive and patient. In less than two weeks, we had firm plans and itineraries that were tailored to our specific requirements. And we were not easy to please! We ended up with a three week trip and a 44 page itinerary!
The trip of a lifetime exceeded our expectations. Des did an incredible job. There was not one glitch. Des kept in touch with us just about every day and made sure we were comfortable and safe. The accommodations were fabulous. Food to die for. Staff at each lodge were wonderful. Would we do it all again? You betcha! As long as we have Des to take care of us, we know we will have a safe, memorable, and authentic African experience.”
– Annette and Bob Barletta – Court Armonk, NY , USA
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