I always tell people that South Africa has a little something for everyone, which, while cliché, is entirely true. As a luxury adventure traveler though, it’s experiences that meld the exciting with the comfortable that always appeal to me the most. As it turns out, South Africa excels in this particular style of travel and all over the country you can find great examples of luxury adventure travel. Out of them all though, these are a few of my favorites.
1. Best of The Overberg at Grootbos
The Western Cape is one of South Africa’s most beautiful regions and I think it surprises most first time visitors who don’t necessarily expect to see the beautiful beaches and rolling hills dotted with wineries. There are a lot of places to love in this part of the country but for luxury adventure look no further than Grootbos Lodge. Set in a lush indigenous setting, the private villas and suites offer a peaceful and luxurious escape. Grootbos features great service and amazing food, but they also have a full complement of activities to guarantee that their guests never get bored. There are plenty of options from wildlife safaris through the fynbos and picnic lunches on nearby Walker Bay, but my favorite adventure was a plane ride over the beaches and hills of the area. Jump into the 3-seater Cessna and take off as the pilot/guide zooms past some of the best-preserved natural areas in the world. If you’re lucky you’ll even spot some wildlife in the process.
2. Luxury Safari Experience
Going on safari is near the top of most people’s bucket lists and South Africa is one of the best places to enjoy this unique experience. There are many places to go on safari around the country, but one of the most famous is Kruger National Park. A massive refuge, there are many lodges and resorts within the park itself but one of the most luxurious is without a doubt the Lukimbi Safari Lodge. Lukimbi is a five-star facility featuring private villas each with amazing views of the bush and situated to ensure total privacy. As at many lodges, the rates include three meals a day, tea and coffee, two game drives a day and a safari walk. While the lodge was incredibly comfortable, the main draw is of course getting up close with nature. It’s hard to convey the incredibly humbling experience that safari game drives can be, driving around the park with an experienced guide and getting within just a few feet of animals usually relegated to zoos like rhinos, elephants and even lions. If this isn’t already on your travel bucket list, add it now.
3. Hermanus – Pampering and Shark Diving
Returning to the Western Cape is a different kind of experience, a stay at the gorgeous and refined Relais & Chateaux property The Marine located in Hermanus. The hotel is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited with a great location right on the coast. One of the main draws in this part of South Africa, Hermanus is a cute beachside town with great shops and restaurants and during the season is one of the best places in the world to watch whales, either on a boat or right from the shore. For something a little different though, head half an hour south to Gansbaai, home of another iconic South African adventure activity – diving with Great White Sharks. Now, this is where you have to be careful. Not all tour operators are created equal and in order to help preserve the species it’s vital you choose one that is ethical and contributes to the well being of the sharks. The best one out there in my own opinion is Marine Dynamics. The leader in shark dives, they’re also a leader in the conservation movement and frequently work with institutions around the world to study the sharks’ unique behavior in the waters just off the coast. Join Marine Dynamics for a Great White Shark dive experience and boat out close to the famous Shark Alley where the sharks have been known to breach the water as they hunt seals. There is nothing like getting into the water with these beautiful animals and I still count it as one of my favorite experiences of all time.
What are some of your favorite luxury adventure experiences around the world?