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10 Reasons why I love South Africa

Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to take my dream trip to South Africa. As I’d longed to go there for years there was a slight fear that it wouldn’t live up to my huge expectations but of course it more than lived up to anything I could have dreamed of. I totally fell in love with the country and here’s why…

1. The beautiful scenery

Gorgeous Cape Town, with its back drop of Table Mountain and varied topography, was everything that I dreamed it would be. A tour of the Cape Peninsula allowed us to take in the beautiful scenery around The Cape Of Good Hope and Cape Point, the stunning Kirstenbosch Gardens, the beautiful beaches and the incredible coastal road up to Chapman’s Peak. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a town with such a variety of gorgeous scenery and wildlife all located in one area.

Further out of Cape Town I adored the landscape of the Winelands and the beautiful rolling hills and verdant greens of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch…

…and the heavenly white beaches of Hermanus….

But perhaps most of all, I loved watching the sunset over the savannah in the beautiful Kruger Park and Sabi Sands whilst on safari.

2. Incredible food
Mr S and I ate at four of South Africa’s top restaurants: The Test Kitchen, The Tasting Room, La Colombe and five hundred. At these high end restaurants we experienced incredible fresh local ingredients, innovative cooking and a touch of theatre; The Test Kitchen being one of my all time top restaurants.
But while South Africa has incredible luxury hot spots every lesser known or local place we tried was also great; we didn’t have a bad meal while were out there. We sampled incredible fresh seafood platters, succulent meat and delicious desserts….
….total foodie heaven
3. Luscious wine 
The gorgeous climate of South Africa makes for perfect fertile soil ripe for growing the wine that South Africa has become world-renowned for. The Cape Winelands, particularly Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, are at the heart of the South African wine country.
Here, I loved trying the wines that are unique to South Africa such as Pinotage and local sparkling wine whilst gazing out at the totally gorgeous scenery.
In Stellenbosch I would highly recommend visiting the Delaire Graff Estate for lunch and a wine tasting as it has one of the most beautiful restaurant views I’ve ever seen. My favourite vineyards in Franschhoek included La Petite Ferme, Moreson and Haute Cabriere which were totally stunning and served incredible wines.
4. The Weather 

South Africa has one of the most number of sunshine hours of any country in the world. I loved the country’s climate that was beautifully warm and sunny without being absolutely roasting.

It was the perfect weather for walks along the waterfront, al fresco lunches, wine tastings and sun-downers. We only had two days of rain the whole time we were there for three weeks.

5. The History and Culture 

I never truly feel the history and the culture of a country until I visit the place and take in museums, sites of interest and historical landmarks.

One of the most significant sites of historical interest that we visited was Robben Island where many of the freedom fighters, including Nelson Mandela were incarcerated. It was fascinating to learn more about Aparteid and to see the actual cell Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in.

6. Beautiful luxurious hotels 

Some of the most beautiful and original hotels I’ve ever stayed in were during my trip to South Africa. Many of the hotels were unique and we were lucky to have such an incredible variety of accommodation and different experiences.

One of my favourite hotels was Ellerman House in Cape Town; a beautiful property that has the feeling of a private home and a stunning panoramic view over Bantry Bay.

One thing I loved about this place was the food, every day you could check out the menu and speak to the kitchen if you wanted any changes. There was a pantry packed with goodies which you could help yourself to at any time, there was even a cake of the day!

Birkenhead House in Hermanus had the vibe of a chilled out beach house whilst still being incredibly luxurious and it was the perfect place for Mr S to have some relaxation time.

My favourite thing about this hotel was having breakfast right on the cliff top with the beautiful views out to the ocean. It’s so romantic and it reminded me of Jonah’s the cliff top hotel in Australia where we got engaged. If you stay at Birkenhead House during the right season it’s the perfect place to view Southern Right Whales.

La Residence in the Cape Winelands is probably one of the most glamorous and opulent hotels that I’ve ever stayed in. It’s even a favourite of Elton John! The service is totally outstanding and the staff arranged for us to have the most incredible meals and wine tasting in the gastronomic heaven of Franschhoek

Whilst on safari I stayed at two luxury safari lodges owned by Singita: Boulders and Lebombo. The hotels were two of the best I’ve ever stayed at in my life with beautiful design harmonising with the natural environment, two mind-blowing safaris a day and quite simply the best service that I’ve ever experienced.

7. No Jetlag 

I really suffer when it comes to jetlag and when I went to Australia, I was suffering for a week from lack of sleep.

But there is only an hour’s time difference between the UK and South Africa so I arrived in the country feeling fresh and had no problems sleeping at night. The synchronisation in time also meant I could participate in Twitter chats and publish blog posts at my usual time 😉

8. The Wildlife and Going on Safari 

As much as I love living in the UK I’m afraid I can’t get too excited about seeing a squirrel or a badger in the wild that’s why I love visiting other countries and seeing their native wildlife.

In Cape Town we saw penguins on Boulders Beach and ostriches at The Cape of Good Hope.

In Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route I got up close and personal with a cheetah

And on safari in Kruger Park and Sabi Sands I saw the Big Five!

Seeing these animals was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my life. To see elephants bathe, lions on the hunt and rhinos play is something I’ll cherish forever.

9. The People 
A melting pot of different cultures, smiling faces, laid back attitudes, excellent service…I loved meeting new people in South Africa…I love the accent too!

10. The Value for Money 

At the time of writing due to the exchange rate, a South African holiday is brilliant value for money for people coming from the UK. Mr S and I couldn’t believe the price of the food even in the most high-end restaurants and the hotels were excellent value too considering how luxurious they were.

It’s for these reasons and many more that I fell in love with South Africa and why I hope to return some day soon! To explore every opportunity and to make things a little easier for yourself South Africa holidays can be booked through Original Travel who tailor-make the perfect holiday using personal insights to plan exceptional trips. All the hotels in this post are some of my all time favourite hotels and are also recommended by Original Travel.
This post was sponsored by Original Travel but my thoughts are my own and I travelled to South Africa independently