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The Travel Butlers Blog

Double the fun or double the trouble? Five tips for planning the perfect family safari.

PaulCampbell - March 13, 2016

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-fun-outdoor-children-playing-image26170490As much as documentaries such as Big Cat Diaries may inspire you to want to see the real thing, parents often dismiss the idea of a safari with nippers in tow because of concerns about safety, enjoyment and the general hassle factor. So is it possible to embark on a family safari holiday that is rewarding and enjoyable for all involved? Well we believe it is and done right the whole family will be buzzing from their bush adventures for years to come.

Safaris really are a holiday like no other and just like us big kids, your little kids will go totally wild for the wildlife.  Nothing can prepare you for the real thing and watching their little faces beaming with excitement and hearing their gasps of sheer amazement at the sights and sounds of the bush makes for double the adventure and double the fun.  Not only that, there’s a huge amount for kids to learn, from identifying animal tracks and dung to understanding the habits and appreciating the plight of the wildlife in Africa.  This makes for a unique educational experience where storybooks will literally come alive before their very eyes.

So if you think a family safari is for you here are our five dos and don’ts for planning the perfect adventure.

Lalibela Game Reserve - Mark's Camp - CopyrightFINAL1. DO your research

When it comes to safaris some lodges have strict minimum age requirements so be sure to check that the lodges on your wish list cater for children.  Across South Africa, there are a number of safari lodges that offer excellent programmes for kids so while you take a well deserved break by the pool between game drives, your children can set off on ‘bush bumbles’ that will get eyes popping and set minds spinning.

 

 Amakhala Sunset2. DON’T risk malaria

South Africa is, without doubt, the best place for young families; there is no jet lag to slow you down, the roads are excellent meaning you can self-drive and set your own pace and, most importantly, a number of the country’s ‘Big Five’ game reserves are malaria free so you won’t have to worry about malaria medication and can take the odd mosquito bite in your stride.

 

Lalibela Game Reserve - Mark's Camp - CopyrightFINAL23. DO know when enough is enough

As well as adjusting to the new routine of early morning and late afternoon game drives, safaris require long periods of silent anticipation.  For children under the age of ten we advise three days’ safari action, providing plenty of opportunity to immerse yourselves in the magic of big game spotting without seeing the excitement fade and turn to boredom.  A combined safari and beach holiday could strike the perfect balance.

 

FamilySafaris-Shamwari-CopyrightFINAL4. DO get on their wavelength

Build up the excitement through books and wildlife documentaries.  As mentioned, many lodges offer specially designed kids programmes with activities that are both educational and entertaining, from bush walks to junior tracking courses and themed bush picnics in between. Traditional folklore storytelling about ‘Why The Elephant Has A Trunk’ or ‘Why The Warthog Is So Ugly’ add to the fun.  Depending on age a pair of binoculars and/or a camera will let them get fully immersed in capturing the moment.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-southern-right-sailing-1-3-image16316165. DON’T forget the other treats that South Africa has to offer

High on the ‘must see’ list of any visitor to South Africa is a trip along the Garden Route.   If you think this is only for the green-fingered holiday makers among us think again.  The Garden Route followed by a Big Five safari is a winning combination for families.   From shore-based whale and dolphin spotting to close encounters of a furry kind at Monkeyland and meeting elephants at Addo National Park, a trip along this stunning stretch of coastline is a feast for the eyes and perfect for a family adventure.

 

If you need help choosing a lodge or would like advice on planning your family adventure, our friendly and experienced team can help.

 

Perfect Places to Pop the Question

PaulCampbell - February 14, 2016

The thing about getting hitched these days is that the bar has been set pretty damn high and, let’s face it, getting down on one knee during dinner at your local restaurant just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Now we may be a teeny bit biased here (okay, very biased) but when it comes to what makes an amazing backdrop for a jaw-dropping proposal we think Africa has it all – incredible natural beauty, an air of magic and sunsets to die for.

So we’ve compiled a list of some of THE coolest places to propose that will virtually guarantee an answer in the affirmative and significantly increase your brownie points credit in the process.  Now all that’s left for you to do is to decide when and where to do it…

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-busy-dune-image2074464Stargazing in the Namib Desert One of the best places in the world for stargazing.  Relax in the comfort of your private ‘skybed’ and surprise your partner under a sky filled with a million stars.

Seal the Deal: head to Sossusvlei and climb to the top of the immense Dune 45.  It’s a toughie, but goodie and seeing the sun rise over the blood-orange desert dunes is a moment that will stay with you both forever.  Stay at Little Kulala, quite possibly the most romantic place on earth!

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-wreck-image12546920Where two oceans meet A proposal at the Southern-most tip of Africa will earn you a few good bragging rights and pave the way for an annual pilgrimage in future years to come.  Cape Agulhas is a beautiful stretch of coastline, easily accessible from Cape Town.

Seal the Deal: stop off for an overnight stay in Swellendam and enjoy a spot of wine tasting before heading back to the city.  Stay at De Kloof Luxury Estate or Jan Harmsgat Country House.  Wine tasting can be done at the Robertson wine route.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-hot-air-balloon-over-masai-mara-image6071658Hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara Your intended will be literally blown away by this one!  Experience the Mara with its spectacular wildlife from a totally different aspect and witness a sunrise like no other. Silently breath-taking is the best way to describe this experience.

Seal the Deal: come back to earth with a bump and enjoy a fantastic champagne breakfast to toast the happy event!  Stay at Mara Ngenche Safari Camp for a true ‘Out of Africa’ safari experience (they also make a pretty mean G&T).

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-victoria-falls-bridge-image13139680On a tandem bungee-jump at Victoria Falls If your chosen one is a thrill seeker why not mix this bucket list essential with the most important day of your life?  The spine-tingling thrill of a 120mph, four second free-fall will be nothing compared to hearing yours truly utters the words “I do”!

Seal the deal: keep the adrenaline pumping with a spot of white-water rafting down the Zambezi River.  Stay at Stanley Safari Lodge and kick back, sundowners in hand, to watch an amazing African sunset while you soak it all in.

 

SabiSand-Dreamstime-CopyrightFINALOn safari out in the African bush Those lucky enough to have experienced it will tell you that an African safari has a kind of inexplicable magic.  A sense of space and wildness coupled with mesmerizing sights, sounds and smells is guaranteed to awaken the senses.

Seal the Deal: arrange a night game drive before heading back to your private lodge.  Stay at the exclusive Londolozi Varty Camp or spend a night under the stars in your own luxury treehouse at Lion Sands Narina Lodge.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-table-mountain-summer-image1678888At the summit of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, with a chilled bottle of South African wine and a couple of glasses.  Expect enthusiastic applause (and a few damp eyes) from the inquisitive tourists who flock there every day.

Seal the deal: book a romantic dinner at The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, overlooking the ocean.  Stay at The Bay in Camps Bay or head back to the city and stay at The Table Bay Hotel (be sure to request a mountain-view room).

 

Breezes-CopyrightFINALOn a tropical island paradise For a truly barefoot proposal stay on the picture-postcard island of Zanzibar and propose at the ocean’s edge.  The icing on the cake will be returning to relive your memories on an African beach and safari honeymoon adventure!

Seal the deal: arrange a magical sunset cruise on board a traditional dhow. Stay at The Palms, an exclusive and intimate getaway which is the epitome of romance.

South Africa – it’s the cat’s whiskers!

PaulCampbell - January 22, 2016

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In the past decade, South Africa has become established as one of the most popular long-haul destinations for visitors from all over the world. And with exchange rates and special offers meaning the majority of safari lodges and hotels are around 20% cheaper than in 2015, there’s never been a better time to book a trip to this diverse and fascinating country.

Seven nights from £655pp

Book a seven night Cape Town and Kruger trip from only £655 per person, excluding international flights (available on request).

Find out more or get inspired by South Africa!

There are world-class attractions in every part of South Africa, from Table Mountain and the beautiful city of Cape Town, to the spectacular wildlife of the Kruger National Park and countless places in between. In fact, there’s so much to see and do that South Africa is sometimes referred to as ‘the World in One Country’. If the cities and wildlife don’t appeal to you, then the weather, beaches, vineyards, history, culture, mountains, deserts or forests surely will.

Despite all this variety, there’s no denying that the crowning glories are Cape Town and Kruger

text_uploads_avatars_VA_Waterfront(1) -  - Cape Town Tourism Toolkit 5Cape Town has one of the most beautiful settings of any city in the world. At the foot of Table Mountain, surrounded by beaches and a sparkling (if chilly) ocean, it’s home to beautiful parks, imposing buildings and plenty of bars and restaurants in which you can relax and watch the world go by. On top of this, the Cape Winelands, the Cape of Good Hope, the penguin colony at Boulders Beach and the whale-watching center of Hermanus are all within easy reach as day trips.

The weather can be scorching hot between November and April (making it an ideal winter sun destination), and even in the coolest months, average highs are around 18C. There’s also plenty to do on any days when the beach doesn’t appeal.

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The Kruger Park is our top pick as the place to go in 2016 for a fantastic safari experience and unbeatable value for money. This vast area in the north east of South Africa is one of the oldest and largest wildlife reserves on the continent, and a safari here will get you incredibly close to some of the most amazing wildlife on the planet.

A stay of three or four days will mean that you’re almost guaranteed to see the Big Five (lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo), as well as seeing countless antelopes, giraffes,zebras and maybe some less frequently spotted birds and animals. There are lodges and camps to suit every taste and budget, from self-driving in the Park, to private three-star tented camps where all meals and game drives are included, to the most spectacular and luxurious five-star lodges. Wherever you choose to stay, a visit to Kruger will leave you with memories and photos to cherish for a lifetime.

Travel Butlers specialize in safari vacations, and our friendly team has been helping visitors plan trips to South Africa since 2003. So why not contact us and let us help you put together your ideal holiday to this stunning country – whatever your budget and bucket list.

24 Hours in…Cape Town

TraceyCampbell - July 22, 2015

Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities – with a magnificent mountain as its centre, miles of sandy beaches, a colourful and moving history, and countless bars and restaurants, Cape Town captures the hearts of visitors. We normally recommend a minimum of 3-4 nights, so that you can really get to see everything that the city has to offer… but if you only have 24 hours here, this is a list of what we consider you just HAVE to try and fit in!

1. On arrival head for Table Mountain! This really is one of the main highlights of Cape Town, and you really cannot come to Cape Town without having taken a cable car ride to the top and back down again.

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2. The V&A Waterfront is a good place to start in the morning, where you can also catch a City Sightseeing Hop on/Hop off bus trip OR canal cruise, or just stroll around and take in the buzzy atmosphere of the shops, restaurants and food markets, and the cheerful working harbour. In the afternoon, head out to Cape Point, and take a drive along the Southern Peninsula, maybe stopping along the way at Boulders Beach, home to a huge nesting colony of penguins. The main viewing platforms allow you get right into the middle of the breeding colony where you can observe and photograph the penguins at close quarters; the second beach is smaller and lesser known, but you can actually get onto the sand and into the sea here and there are usually a few dozen penguins mixing with the bathers. You can then make your way back to town along the Atlantic coast enjoying the GREAT sights of Chapmans Peak.

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3. If you’re feeling peckish, Cape Town has some TOP restaurants. Check out NV-80 in Seapoint if you fancy a rib eye steak, oysters or shrimp. Or Belthazar Restaurant in the V&A Waterfront for a really succulent steak, or if you want to sample some authentic African cuisine, then head to Gold Restaurant.

4. On a rainy day don’t despair, there is still tonnes of things to do! Such as winetastings – Cape Town has many wine farms with excellent wines – or visit the iconic Mount Nelson Hotel for afternoon high tea. Families can head to the Two Oceans Aquarium to watch the feeding (check the times first!).

Wine pouring into a wine glass

5. Whatever you do, don’t leave without a helicopter flip/ride around the Peninsula.

6. For the best sunset photograph, the sunset is really amazing from Milnerton as you see Table Mountain and the last bit of sun rays beaming down on the mountain with all it’s different colours. It is also beautiful sitting at one of the cocktail bars in Camps Bay.

7. The best place to go for cocktails is Leopard Bar at Twelve Apostles (with the added attraction of great sunsets too!), or check out the popular Shimmy Beach.

8. Cape Town’s hidden claim to fame are the Protea Fire & Ice milkshakes – don’t leave without trying one!

9. Not a lot of people know this…the insider’s tip to Cape Town is Richards Supper Stage & Bistro – a unique theatre venue and dining experience.

10. And finally, this list would not be complete without mentioning our most favourite places in Cape Town in terms of where to stay. For a great guest house, you can’t go wrong with Floreal House, in Oranjezicht – friendly staff, beautiful location at the foot of Table Mountain, and lovely rooms. For a great value hotel, then for us the Protea Breakwater wins hands down. Situated right in the heart of the Waterfront, this hotel is steeped in history but it is the location (and the frequent Stay/Pay deals!) that makes it a perfect place to stay. And finally, for one of the best 5* luxury experiences, it has to be the Cape Grace – stylish and luxurious, with a working harbour to one side and a multi-millionaire yacht basin on the other – it is just wonderful.

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The Travel Butlers Top Ten of … Different Things to do in Cape Town

TraceyCampbell - June 3, 2015

If you have some time in Cape Town, of course it is obligatory to visit Table Mountain, take a tourist bus around the city, and maybe do a cruise around the harbour, but what about considering something a little unique and off the normal, well trodden tourist track… it will certainly be something to talk about when you get home over dinner with the neighbours!

1. Cape Malay Cultural Experience Tour

Enjoy a unique interaction and experience the cultural diversity of the Cape Malay community, descendants of the original Malay slaves.  Departing every day at 3 pm (apart from Thursdays and public/ religious holidays and Ramadan) you start your tour at the Bo-Kaap Museum in the heart of the Cape Malay Quarter where you learn more about their history and the preservation of their traditions in Africa. Your story-telling host will then guide you on an entertaining walking tour giving you insights into the historical and architectural landscape that adds so much colour and character to Cape Town’s City Bowl. The highlight of this experience is enjoying an authentic home-cooked dinner at the home of your host family.

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2. Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea Experience

The Mount Nelson Hotel is a notable hallmark of luxury and indulgence. The world-renowned afternoon tea buffet is set in the elegant lounge overlooking the manicured garden. Enjoy the scrumptious selection of chocolate éclairs and petit-fours, mini cakes and classic carrot, chocolate and cheese cakes, savoury sandwiches and empanadas, scones and succulent fresh fruits. There are over 30 loose leaf teas to try, from Rooibos and Lapsang Souchong, to Earl Grey and Darjeeling.

Nelson

3. Vintage Sidecar Winelands Experience

Relive the thrill of a bygone era in the sidecar of a classic 750cc motorcycle and take in the splendour of the magnificent mountains and vineyards as you range through the Cape’s premier wine regions. Visit a Paarl wine estate for a cheese and wine tasting before winding through mountains and valleys to the French-inspired town of Franschhoek. Enjoy a wine tasting before taking the scenic road to Stellenbosch. Enjoy another wine tasting at a top wine estate before returning to Cape Town.  Authentic riding gear is provided for use on the ride, making great wish-you-were-here photos!  A minimum of 2 guests will share 1 motorbike (1 guest in the sidecar and 1 guest on the motorbike, behind the Tour Guide).

Sidecar

4. Township Life Experience

Visit Bo-Kaap, District Six, Langa (oldest formal township) and Khayelitsha, the highest populated township in South Africa. Learn about the history of South Africa. There is also the opportunity to interact with a pre-school centre and in a school classroom to gain an understanding of the education system. Finally, you visit the Women’s Empowerment Centre in Khayelitsha and interact with the weavers and painters, and enjoy a walking tour to interact with the local community.

5. Cape Town Dinner Experience

Join a fun filled evening of interactive entertainment and delectable food at Gold Restaurant. Sample a set Cape Malay/African style menu which is served at the table in sharing and individual portions. The evening starts off with an interactive djembe drumming session followed by a traditional soothing hand washing ceremony.  A professional djembe drum instructor will teach you how to play the basic rhythms of the djembe drum.  Live entertainment during dinner includes a Mali puppet show which involves story telling with singers, dancers, puppets and musicians. The final performance is by the waiters and kitchen staff who will entertain you with some local song and dances.

6. Cape Point Cycle and Winelands Adventure

This is a perfect way to combine some moderate physical activity with seeing the sights around the Cape Peninsula. Enjoy a peaceful cycle through the unique fynbos vegetation of the Cape Point Nature Reserve, visit the breeding colony of rare African penguins at Boulders Beach and relax at a scenic picnic lunch spot. Before returning to Cape Town you tour the historic Constantia Winelands which includes wine tastings at 2 premier estates.

7. Table Mountain Biking Adventure

An ideal way to experience the glorious nature of Table Mountain.  You are guided on the ‘Double Descent’ route on the lower slopes offering fantastic panoramic views. This adventure is suitable for experienced cyclists as well as those who want to try off-road biking.

Cycling

8. Table Mountain Hiking Adventure

There are a number of fantastic hiking routes to the summit of Table Mountain that require moderate fitness and offer an extraordinary nature experience right in the heart of the city. Your expert guide will ensure your safe passage to the top of this iconic mountain. If you find you are too tired to walk down, you have the option of taking the cable car.

9. Tunnel Exploration

Deep below the streets of Cape Town, there is a series of forgotten underground canals and rivers that date back to the 17th Century, that were used to supply passing ships with fresh water.  Now the ‘in’ thing to do is to don a hard hat and go explore them yourself with a qualified guide and a professional rescue medic.

10. Cape Town Stadium Tours

Built specifically for the 2010 World Cup, the Cape Town Stadium at Green Point is now an iconic image of the Cape Town skyline.  Enjoy an hour long tour around this, learning more about the construction and get to see the field close up.  You may even get to see the shower rooms…

Stadium

Images copyright Springbok Atlas/Travel Butlers via Dreamstime

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