Best Hotels of the World Southern Africa Tour

A 12 day trip to South Africa 
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Celebrating the untrammeled luxury of South Africa, this 12-day tour exclusively features accommodation from Travel + Leisure's 2016 list of best hotels in the world. Taking you across the country, it evokes the eclectic beauty of the region, combining city and Winelands, private big-game safari and roaring Victoria Falls. Opulent accommodation provides the base while private tours offer flexible excursions and activities to discover the Southern Africa from your imagination.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cape Town, V & A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach, Kruger National Park, Singita Concession, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Livingstone, Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Johannesburg, Cradle of Humankind

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Cape Town – Arriving at the Cape Grace

Yachts lull in the harbor, vertical masts juxtaposed with the horizontal colored lines of sunset over the water. Table Mountain rises imperiously behind you, a tablecloth of mist floating down its face. Surrounding you is the V & A Waterfront, the upmarket destination in the city for over 100 years. A pedestrianized area filled with fine dining restaurants, boutique markets, and memoirs to history. It's all within a few steps of the Cape Grace, but when an African sunset paints the horizon, it's difficult to leave your hotel balcony.

A regular in the list of world's best hotels, the Cape Grace is an ode to decadence, blurring any distinctions between old-world and modern styles. For four nights, you're in a one bedroom suite, featuring a spacious terrace overlooking the marina and a private lounge area for breakfast and other meals from the hotel's excellent restaurant. You'll be greeted at Cape Town International and transferred to the hotel, a 30-minute journey that passes beneath Table Mountain before dropping you at the waterside. There's so much to explore in this city; but for today, there's more than enough charm to discover at the Cape Grace and the surrounding V & A Waterfront.

What's Included: accommodation at the Cape Grace, airport transfer

Days 2 – 4: Cape Town – The Best of City, Winelands and Cape

Cape Town is difficult to define, the city merging effortlessly with the drama of nature. Streets celebrate a colorful history, especially when you explore neighborhoods like Bo-Kaap. Lavish pleasures are found at vineyards and restaurants, which come in both cutting-edge and old-world styles. Table Mountain is the landmark compass point, an epic slab of rock rising for over a kilometer above the city, yet there are also two competing oceans that vie for your attention. Penguins waddle across beaches, a lighthouse marks the tip of Africa, while hidden boutiques showcase rare jewels like tanzanite and carved antelope horns.

It's a city that can lead you in a hundred different directions, one with an insatiable ability to both captivate and charm. For these three days, you have a private guide who will customize the itinerary dependent on your interests and mood. Dinner reservations at the city's premier hotels can be sourced – the Test Kitchen features annually in the world's 50 best restaurants – and the guide delights in uncovering alternative sides to the areas; coastal cafes, old fishing villages, wild seals, artistic hubs, and more.

Most trips to Cape Town celebrate three distinctive aspects of the region. There's the cityscape, a vibrant mesh of ideas from across the continent, where atmospheric street markets stand beside colonial terraces and waterfront luxury. Then there's nature's power and beauty, epitomized by the Table Mountain Chain that rolls down to the Cape of Good Hope and the tip of Africa. Rising by cable car to the mountain's summit is one of the city's premier experiences, followed by taking the drive along the mountain chain to Africa's tip – it's a journey taking you past penguins, seals, springbok, and iconic lighthouses.

Next there's the wine, South Africa's most famous wine and gastronomy region less than an hour from the city. A day at the Cape Winelands is highly recommended, stopping at opulent estates and South Africa's oldest towns. But the fables keep coming. Visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years behind bars. Relax on beaches of soft sand that glimmer beneath the mountain. Or lounge at the Cape Grace, a glass of wine in hand, the sun setting into the Atlantic as the yachts elegantly bob.

What's Included: accommodation at the Cape Grace, tour, transfer, breakfast

Days 5 – 6: Kruger National Park – Exploring Big-Game Kruger from Singita Lebombo

Through floor-to-ceiling windows, you look out on an epic swathe of African savannah, watching the nomadic elephants slowly make their way across the landscape. Step out onto the terrace and more becomes visible, like a pair of rhinos roaming beneath the lodge's elevated vantage point. Head to the pool and the wildlife remains visible, elephants replaced by a wandering zebra herd and the distant grunt of wild buffalo. Situated in a remote and private corner of Kruger National Park, Singita Lebombo merges contemporary hotel design with the ancient rhythm of the bush. It's pure luxury from every angle; a spa treatment as hippos emerge from the banks of the N'wanetsi River below, exploring a wine cellar as lion roars perforate the still air, waking up and beginning a fresh new day in Africa.

From Cape Town, you take a scheduled flight to Nelspruit, and then transfer onto a private charter to Santara Airstrip, located in the far east of Kruger National Park. Singita has its own private concession out here and the safari experience is an exclusive one; only guests at the lodge can explore the surrounding bushland. Most Kruger visits are focused on the west of the national park, adding a further sense of remoteness to your location in the east. Touch down and the lodge provides the first safari, animals visible directly from the room. Then a game drive takes you closer, winding past a leopard on the move and a lion pride in the shade of a thorn thicket.

The safari itinerary is flexible and you can choose from a variety of activities. Morning game drives are likely to bring epic scenes of the predators on the move, perhaps a cheetah out hunting, a wild lion chomping into a zebra carcass, or a leopard stealthily moving from tree to waterhole. Rhino encounters are legendary in Kruger and you'll spot many over these two days. Elephants and giraffes grace the savannah and by staying in a private concession, you can get closer, the driver bumping along the trail until you're exhilaratingly close. Guided bush walks are also possible here and they provide intimacy with the savannah's antelopes. Adventures also continue after dark, with evening game drives or guided stargazing in this remote piece of Africa.

What's Included: accommodation at Singita Lebombo, transfer, domestic flight, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 7 – 8: Sabi Sands – More Exclusive, Luxury Safari

On a private charter, you hop across the Kruger, the 45-minute journey providing iconic aerial vistas. Herds roam beneath the wingtips and the landscape's scale comes into full focus, before two days in the Sabi Sands illicit the intricate details of the land. The safari is more compact here and you explore a smaller private concession that's bisected by the Sand River. The permanent water fixture ensures thrilling and abundant encounters all year around, so while you don't need to travel far, you'll take in a rich array of scenes. Breeding herds of elephant and buffalo create their residence close to the banks, while the concentrations of lion and white rhino are amongst the highest on the entire continent. And then there are the leopards, the elusive spotted hunter lying at the heart of the Londolozi experience. With expert rangers and trackers, intimate leopard sightings are frequent on many two-day safaris.

Like at Singita Lebombo, the safari itinerary is flexible and inclusive. Guides will offer recommendations but you can also follow your own interests, from bush walks to nocturnal exploration, white rhinos to antelopes. Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2016, Londolozi ranked 13th on Travel + Leisure list of the best 100 hotels in the world. Tree Camp is the essence of its experience, an ode to old-world charm that redefines the idea of a journey into the wilderness. Think lanterns and leadwood trees, lazy afternoons watching leopards, private swimming pools and a sense of grandeur taken from the early colonial explorers.

What's Included: accommodation at Londolozi Tree Camp, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 9 – 10: Victoria Falls – Africa's Legendary Falls from Legendary Royal Livingstone Hotel

Two scheduled flights bring you north, first from the Sabi Sands Airstrip to Johannesburg, then onwards to Livingstone and the Zambezi River. The Royal Livingstone Hotel is an ode to the European explorer who discovered the falls, radiating a colonial history and charm (of course, it was known by local people for thousands of years before). Your private terrace stands on the banks of the river and you can constantly hear the falls, the monotonous rumble coming from just a mile or so downriver. Arrive in mid afternoon, and take high tea on the terrace, followed by sundowners on a deck that overlooks the wilds of Southern Africa. Evoking Victorian elegance, this hotel continues the theme of blurring wilderness with exclusive luxury. It's a regular entry in the world's top 100 hotels list.

The day today is about exploring the falls and there are a variety of options. Narrow bridges and walkways lead you to cataracts in the Zambezi, where mist rains down and the brutal power of the world's biggest waterfall can be understood. Baboons clamber around the walkways and the lookout points offer thrilling close-ups of the falls. A helicopter trip provides the best view, the Zambezi River rumbling through green forests before disappearing into a chasm. Rumbling out past the falls is the Royal Livingstone Express, a vintage steam train that crosses into the no mans land between Zambia and Zimbabwe. With a full day, it's possible to enjoy all three excursions, or choose one or two and then relax along the Zambezi.

What's Included: accommodation at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, transfer, domestic flight, breakfast

Day 11: Johannesburg – Africa's Leading Hotel

A relaxed morning is followed by the flight back to Johannesburg and a night at the Saxon, which took the top spot as the 2016 Travel + Leisure's leading African hotel. Influences merge here, traditional African style blurring with a contemporary design. It looks like how you would imagine Africa – dark woods, sculptures, effortless elegance – with a modern twist. A personal butler assists you throughout the stay in a Villa Luxury Suite and the fully-stocked mini bar is complementary. This evening is a relaxed affair, with dinner at the hotel and some downtime using the spa facilities.

What's Included: accommodation at the Saxon Hotel, transfer, domestic flight, breakfast

Day 12: Johannesburg – Cradle of Humankind and Evening Departure

With an evening departure from O. R Tambo, there's time to connect with history at the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage site that holds so many clues to our existence. Until recently, over a third of early hominid fossils ever discovered were from the caves at this site, just west of Johannesburg. Nearly fifteen complete skeletons have been excavated and they're an inspiring sight, especially when a local guide reveals the intricate narratives of those buried beneath the ground. With fossils dating back 3.5 million years, the site is one of the most essential jigsaw pieces in human evolution. Return to the lodge in the afternoon, where you can use the spa facilities before your evening airport transfer and departure flight.

What's Included: tour, breakfast, airport transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$4,795
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.