We’re fans of Travel+Leisure’s annual Best in the World polls. (Admittedly, we’re just a bit prejudiced, having been voted World’s Best Safari Outfitter by T+L a record nine times.) So a few years ago we decided to honour Travel+Leisure and its readers by creating an all-star safari that sets down at some of Africa’s best hotels, as consistently recognized by the magazine (and by our happy guests).
We begin with four nights in Cape Town’s “knockout” One&Only, a resort of “outsize luxury” on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and a superb base for explorations in this most cosmopolitan of cities and its varied, magnificent environs. Then come Singita Lebombo or Singita Sweni Lodge—both much-admired, both located in Singita Kruger National Park—and, in the private Sabi Sand Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger, Ebony or Boulders Lodge, two of the finest and most intelligently designed lodges on the continent. We end with a perennial favourite, the famed Royal Livingstone, where mist from nearby Victoria Falls freshens our day.
Day 1 En route
We set off today for Cape Town. It won’t take us long to realize why this city is amongst the most beloved in the world-its striking natural features and cosmopolitan wiles make it a remarkable gateway to our adventure.
Days 2 to 5 Cape Town and environs
“The whole town,” Captain Cook wrote in 1771 about Cape Town, “may be consider’d as one great Inn fitted up for the recreation of all comers and goers.” The great voyager may as well have been writing this week: Cape Town is one of the world’s jazziest, most fascinatingly multicultural and downright beautiful cities, a magnet for discerning goers and comers from six continents.
We’ll have an electrically relaxed few days to explore the city, based from the incomparable One&Only, set on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a civic centre of colourful activity, looking up at Table Mountain, which we will summit via the famed Aerial Cableway, a spectacular bit of engineering in service to an even more spectacular view.
We’ll wander out to the Cape Winelands for tastings and relaxed meals at places like the sublime Delaire Graff Estate. The Winelands charms us with brisk and picture-pretty little towns, a variety of refreshing activities, and lovely scenery reminiscent of Northern California’s Wine Country (except the craggy mountains that shoot up from its vineyards make Sonoma and Napa’s look rather . . . modest in comparison). And we’ll head over to the Cape of Good Hope, around which much of the world’s history once turned, and which a dissimilar cohort of creatures—including penguins, zebras, and ostriches— happily call home.
Days 6 & 7 Singita Kruger National Park
Singita’s concession in talismanic Kruger was granted in 2001 in recognition of its fervent and effective commitment to conservation, and its dedication to creating an absolutely minimal environmental footprint. Singita’s 33,000-acre concession is an isolated haven of untroubled wilderness where a unique and species-rich wildlife population thrives across four distinct ecological zones, all of which we’ll get to know and admire during our stay.
Its two lodges, Singita Lebombo and Singita Sweni, were built to reflect Singita’s “touch the earth lightly” philosophy, which is entwined with every aspect of the lodges’ daily life. It is one reason these lodges are so respected and honoured—the other major reasons being their beauty and unobtrusive luxuriousness. In any case, Singita Kruger was recently voted by Travel+Leisure as the third-best hotel on planet Earth, an encomium that needs no expansion.
Days 8 & 9 Singita Sabi Sand
A private, 45,000-acre game reserve, Sabi Sand adjoins Kruger National Park to the west, and, by common agreement, is one of South Africa’s wildlife-richest, most unsullied regions. Within the Sabi Sand is Singita Private Game Reserve, the oldest private game reserve in the country, owned and lovingly preserved since 1926 by the Bailes family.
Ebony Lodge, Singita’s first in the Sabi Sand, stands comfortably amongst enormous trees on the banks of the Sand River in the heart of South Africa’s big-cat country. Its thoughtful blending of European tradition and African boldness results, rather magically, in the down-to-earth warmth of a much-loved family home. And Boulders—like Ebony, a consistent high-ranker in T+L’s best lists—also set along the banks of the Sand River in Singita’s privately owned reserve within the Sabi Sand, is a brilliant architectural complement to the boulders on which it rests.
Days 10 & 11 Victoria Falls
“Poor Niagara,” Eleanor Roosevelt supposedly said upon viewing Brazil and Argentina’s Iguazu Falls. Had she gazed on Victoria Falls—the greatest curtain of water on earth, 60 tumultuous feet higher than its South American rival—the famously articulate First Lady might have been struck speechless. Victoria Falls is a waterfall like no other, and during our stay at the legendary Royal Livingstone Hotel (another perennial T+L best) we’ll get to know the Falls, from early-morning, coffee-sipping views from our room’s veranda of the almost 1,000 feet of mist that rise from the watery cauldron to lazy afternoon sundowners near its dramatic precipice, contemplating what the greatest travel writer of all time, Richard Halliburton, called “a hurricane of bursting water . . . that seems to fall up, not down.”
Days 12 & 13 Departure
We fly from the Falls to Johannesburg and connect with our international flight home, arriving on Day 13.