Throughout all this Covid-19 madness there are two things that have become abundantly clear. Firstly, that privacy is a luxury: so being able to hunker-down or get away from the chaos, just you and your loved ones around a table, or in front of a fireplace. Even just being able to ‘socially distance’ when asked. Privacy is enviable and oftentimes unattainable. Secondly, that time is priceless: time spent making travel plans, time spent creating travel memories and time spent enjoying your loved ones and learning what makes them special. Time to just be happy. Neither can be presumed as each is equally important and unequivocally cherished.
Live now, travel now
2020 has, oh so skilfully, shown us that so much of what we take for granted can quickly be taken away. This is why we need to live, love, explore, travel, laugh and stop “save for best” as daily life is a gift and meant to be lived to its fullest.
This is why I have created the The Luxury of Privacy tour that celebrates both of these treasured, sought-after entities. It also kicks 2020 in the teeth and offers a multi-generational family or small group of friends (6 – 8 persons) the best time together and the privacy to enjoy it fully. This is the perfect mix of African destinations, whilst enjoying my specifically chosen exclusive-use luxury property combinations therein and ultimately living the true “luxury of privacy”.
Begin your journey in stunning Cape Town
We begin in the Mother City, Cape Town. She is my home and she is easy to love. As is the case throughout this adventure, you will be met in arrivals (of Africa’s best airport no less) and be transferred via private vehicle to your base in this cosmopolitan city of ours.
Welcome to your Ellerman House Villa. Understated elegance and superlative service here is to be expected. One would argue it’s one, if not the sole title holder, of Cape Town’s best small hotel. Nestled away from the hustle and bustle, yet still so central, this is your hidden gem. The privacy is so world-renowned many a celeb has chosen this sanctuary over others in the city when visiting our neck of the woods.
Their three bedroom villa is all yours. Replete with your own large balcony, sea views, own plunge pool, lounge, dining room and kitchen and of course with your own chef and hospitality team. Give the hotel’s complimentary pantry a whirl, home to an array of handmade delectable treats, should a jet-lagged induced midnight craving set in and tell me what’s your favourite nibble. It really is very hard to choose just one. Of particular interest to me in this hotel is their terroir wall in the cellar. Remarkable!
If the landscaped gardens, impressive in-house art gallery or luxury spa is not enough to keep you from venturing out, I am sure the allure of spending three days out with your experienced tour guide, again privately of course, will appeal. Our city has something for everyone. Those after history or hills, penguins or pints, culture or climbing and shopping or shorelines; we have it all and the joy of having a guide and his vehicle to yourselves means the world is your oyster here.
Our favourite pairing: Wine & Fine Dining
Next up is my beloved Cape Winelands, basing you in Franschhoek at the brand new Mont Rochelle Manor House. Those who know me well will vouch – there is always an excuse to spend a couple nights amongst the vineyards. And what’s key here is that our wine regions (Stellenbosch/Paarl/Franschhoek etc) offer so much more than just wine; even for teetotallers or a family with little ones no less. Ducks on parade, eagles, cheetah, farm to table gardens, vintage cars, picnics, bespoke art, craft breweries, chocolatiers, olives, cheese, mountain biking, hiking et al… but yes, WINE is why I go here, let’s not kid ourselves.
Mont Rochelle is a working wine farm perfectly placed on the elevated side of the valley mountains with views of the whole region below and set just outside of the town of Franschhoek. Here you have their gorgeous new Manor House to yourselves. Four bedrooms (and a spacious bunk room for the kiddies), two swimming pools no less and your own gym too. No need to even leave for meals as they can be enjoyed at the various in-house dining options, Miko and Country Kitchen, as well as lavish breakfasts enjoyed around your own expansive dining table.
I would happily forgive a family/group decision to stay put for the two nights here, enjoying the property’s 100 acres and of course your private time together. But, once again those highlights of the area are available for exploration via your private guide, the same one you had in Cape Town, if you do crave some exploration.
Next stop: Your private dream safari
Next up we steer you away from the Cape and head inland, further north towards what’s likely to be the pinnacle of the trip for all, your Big 5 safari experience. Logistically, so as not to go completely crazy with one’s budget from the outset, the only time you would be joined by others would be whilst in the air. Getting from A to B. Flying our regular airlines between the Cape and Kruger, Kruger to the Falls and ending in Johannesburg. However, one could even ramp up the privacy factor further and book charter flights to connect the dots. This is easily done and with the greatest of pleasure, if admittedly a more pricey exercise.
It’s no secret that I have a deep love affair with the Sabi Sand, but more specifically therein, the Londolozi Private Game Reserve. And my special clients who have been on my recommendation (many now multiple times) will attest and know it’s hard to beat. So much so that a little piece of my soul belongs at Londolozi.
Why, you may ask? Well, it’s difficult to pinpoint it to only one thing to be honest. It just is. And I know you will agree if you give it a chance. The passion of the whole team from the owners, the Varty family (who still live on property), all the way down to the landscaper sweeping the walkways who greets you with a huge smile as you walk past, it is all exceptional.
Fall in love with Londolozi
What sets Londolozi apart? The vital back of house amenities for the local staff and villagers, the Community support missions, not to mention as a given the 5-star accommodations, fresh local food, the astounding conservation ethos and the unbeatable game viewing – its crowning glory naturally. That’s why you are here after all. And The leopards, oh my, the leopards! Either way, it’s un-brochurable. It’s the feeling. The spirit of Londolozi will forever have my heart.
Here you have Pioneer Camp all to yourselves. Three suites, equally versatile and perfect for a group to share exclusively. Your own staff complement and, most importantly, private ranger and tracker who will lead you via open game vehicle on your safari drives into the vast wilderness in search of game, big and small.
Vic Falls: Explore Africa’s Natural Wonder
Next up is another real favourite of mine. Are you seeing a trend here? It is time to head to the Victoria Falls, which again, is about so much more than just “The Falls”. Even getting you to my dearest Royal Chundu Island Lodge is an adventure in itself. Picture this, if you will indulge me. You start off being met in Livingstone airport arrivals by a pilot who will escort you to the awaiting helicopters that will be your chariots as you soar above the remarkable world heritage site, the Falls themselves. You then dip down through the gorge, meters above the rapids (hear my girlish giggles and squeals of delight doing this myself) and wing your way over the mighty Zambezi River, spotting hippo and elephants below, to land at the lodge and be greeted by the biggest smiles in Africa. Incredible, right?
Royal Chundu is a luxury lodge, yes. Island Lodge, their premier four villa property, is all yours. It is stunning and the most private accommodation of the trip, set well apart from the Main River Lodge which is downstream. Relais & Châteaux graded, and all the bells that come with it, are to be expected. But what sets Royal Chundu apart for me is its authenticity.
It’s genuine. It’s not fake in the slightest, which in our industry, visiting all these properties on educationals, we learn to pick up on a mile away. Instead, here you are cared for by the most sincere and warm staff. Led brilliantly by Hessah and Aggie who, after just my very first visit, entrenched themselves in my memory forever as chats with them felt like “home”.
One comes here not just for the Falls, as I mentioned earlier, but for the ability to wind down after a busy trip. Add in serene boat rides on the Zambezi River, and birding walks and long afternoons fishing (whilst g&t-ing of course) – utterly sublime.
Soak it all in
But here 2 activities stand out and are “must-do” when here:
- The lodge offers one of the most genuine insights into and opportunities to visit and see an African village in action. Not one created or put on for the tourists. One that’s actually lived in. Proudly being shown around by locals Edith or her sister Bettina, as you hear of their traditions and how many years ago they were supplied seeds by Royal Chundu to tend and grow veggies to feed their community and that today the fruits of their labour are also sold back to the lodge for feeding its guests. It does not get truer, fresher or more symbiotic than this;
- Whilst at Royal Chundu you are offered the chance to do a little kayaking down a tributary of the Zambezi. A gentle activity with some small rapids along the way to keep the blood pumping and a fun way to spend a couple hours as a family but most importantly the fact that it ends on a private island where the most wonderful picnic spread awaits, and it’s here you can relax together. An afternoon underneath the trees, nibbling on an almost never-ending supply of local foods and snacks, in the dappled sunlight, whilst the river rushes past and you share tales of your favourite parts of the trip each or catch a few winks in the hammock. Aaaah bliss. Take me there now!
Once Africa, always Africa
All good things disappointingly come to an end inevitably and this, your last day in Africa, sees you transfer via road this time, still privately, back to the airport and board a flight direct into Johannesburg for your long journey home. Just writing this out for you I am myself transported to these special destinations and properties. I am flooded with blessed memories of treasured experiences that carry me through life, especially now when it’s not possible to do so. THIS is why we travel.
If nothing else, it is with hopes I have whetted your appetite too and have shown you that you and your loved ones can have it all. Invaluable TIME with your loved ones and the PRIVACY whilst doing so. Africa offers it all. Our continent and our people. With open hands & open hearts – we now just need open borders and then it’s “Bon Voyage!”
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