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Holidays in South Africa

Cosmopolitan cities, stunning wildlife and deserted beaches - South Africa has it all.

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The Travel Butlers Blog

Introducing AndBeyond Tengile River Lodge

Paul Campbell - April 18, 2019

A couple of weeks ago we had a meeting with andBeyond, and among other things we were interested to hear from them how their newest lodge in the Sabi Sands is settling in.

Featuring 9 luxurious suites looking out over the Sand River and surrounded by a cool forest, andBeyond Tengile River Lodge combines top class luxury and service, with incredible views and refined interiors.  As we have come to expect from andBeyond, the lodge itself is stylish and beautifully finished combining contemporary design features with traditional materials in a way that is sensitive to the surrounding environment.

Tengile Exterior

Set within the world famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Tengile offers a host of game viewing activities similar nearby andBeyondKirkman’s Kamp (which has long been a favourite of ours here at Travel Butlers).  Morning and afternoon game drives head out into the reserve led by the experienced and passionate guides, where incredible wildlife sightings and close up encounters await. Whether it is an elusive leopard or a member of the Big 5, with over 200 animal species and a further 350 species of birds, the diversity here is simply outstanding.

Game Drive at Tengile

Also popular are the bush walks which are conducted with a guide and tracker and allow guests to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and smells,  of the African bush.  This is a great way to learn more about the unseen details of the bush, and the andBeyond guides are among the best in the business making this a real treat for nature lovers.

Back at the lodge itself, the suites at Tegile all feature private infinity pools, a sunken lounge, and elegant bedrooms and bathrooms opening out onto the river below.  This luxurious setting is the perfect place to take some time out in-between game drives to relax and enjoy what is around you. It could be that you want to read a few more pages of a good book in the lounge or viewing deck, indulge in an extra spa treatment, or simply taking in the view from a hot bath and a glass of champagne to go with it.

Suite Bedroom

Bathroom View

The main guest areas are stylishly finished with a mixture of bespoke furniture, natural light and open views. A beautiful chandelier acts as the crown jewel of the dining area, whilst the bar and lounge are perfect for enjoying a delicious cocktail or fine wine. In the evening, guests retire to the fire pit to swap stories about the day’s adventures as the sky begins to darken and the stars appear.

Tengile Bar and Lounge

Having only recently opened, Tengile River Lodge has already made quite the impression with its jaw dropping design and ideal location in one of the most diverse wildlife areas on the continent. This looks to be another outstanding addition to the andBeyond portfolio, and we are sure that guests fortunate enough to stay here will return home having had a top-class safari experience.

Safari Lodges In South Africa Start To Introduce Electric Vehicles

Paul Campbell - April 11, 2019

Game reserves and safari lodges are essentially very eco-friendly, and without them (and tourists they attract) far less land would be set aside for conservation and the protection of Africa’s magnificent wildlife.  Permanent structures are not allowed in more sensitive habitats, meaning that many lodges and camps can be taken apart and moved to another location allow the land to recover,  and even in instances where permanent buildings are used these tend to use solar energy to reduce their impact on the environment.

The one thing that has always seemed less than ideal, however, is the use of  petrol or diesel powered 4×4 vehicles for game drives.  Whilst the animals themselves are usually not particularly bothered by noise of the vehicles, especially in well established reserves, it is good to hear that Cheetah Plains, in the Sabi Sands, and Makanyi Private Game Lodge, in Timvabati, have become among the first game lodges to introduce electric vehicles for game drives.  There have been occasional trials of electric vehicles in the past, most notably by Londolozi, however development stalled and it is only recently that a company in Nelspruit has started offering to convert traditional petrol or diesel vehicles.

Makanyi Electric Safari Vehicle

Jessica Gold, owner of Makanyi, says: “We have always looked at ways to ensure that we preserve our beautiful natural environment, and when we heard about Electric Safari Vehicles doing conversions of game viewers, we jumped at the opportunity to convert one of our own Land Rovers – and the results have been astonishing! So much so, that we look forward to having our entire fleet converted in the near future.”

The vehicles are recharged from solar panels and a full charge lasts around 6 hours on average, which equates to between 150 km and 200 km  depending on the terrain.  Given most game drives only cover less than 40 km, the chances of getting stranded in the bush are minimal (although this has happened to me a couple of times in petrol vehicles…).  The vehicles are water proof and dust proof, and can operate as four-wheel-drive across all types of terrain with excellent power and torque.

In addition to the environmental benefits, there are a number of advantages to electric vehicles for guests, as Makanyi’s Head Ranger commented: “The silence is tremendous, and has totally transformed the safari experience. We can communicate more easily with our guests and the tracker without shouting over the sound of the engine, and we can better follow more sensitive or elusive game – leopards, bull elephants in musth, or mothers and babies for whom the sound of the engine can spark a negative reaction.”

The smooth drive of the vehicles will also provide a better platform for taking photos and videos to capture scenes without the vibration and noise from the engine.

I have not had a chance to go out on one of these vehicles as yet, but hope to in a few months when I am next in the Kruger area.  From everything I have heard so far this sounds like a fantastic development and something from which the environment, animals and guests will all benefit.




Planning A Luxury Self Drive Holiday Along The Garden Route

Paul Campbell - April 9, 2019

I have to admit….. I have been really lucky to have travelled often throughout my life, and now, living abroad in the UK, I have been able to explore and experience so many new places, however I always find myself drawn back to the Garden Route. Having grown up along the Southern coast of South Africa, it does stay very close to my heart and for anyone wishing to visit South Africa, this beautiful part of paradise is certainly worth a visit.

Whether you are travelling with your family or as a couple, the Garden Route is an ideal holiday destination and will offer you a varied trip where you can enjoy nature at its best.  The best way to experience this area is to hire a car and discover the route at your own pace.  The Garden Route is part of a longer self-drive route that stretches from Cape Town to the Port Elizabeth area, and offers everything from a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, historic winelands, dramatic mountains, pristine beaches, untouched indigenous forests and even the chance to go on a big five safari. We’ve compiled a few tips for anyone wishing to plan a self drive for their next holiday:

There are two routes that both offer their own appeal leading out of Cape Town, which would ultimately merge in the town of Wilderness, and with the total distance from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth of over 750 km  (466 miles), you should plan to take your time and stop at at least 3 or three places along the way.

Leaving Cape Town Via Hermanus And The Coastal Route
Departing from Cape Town, you could either travel along the N2 motorway and venture over Clarens Drive, a spectacular pass with incredible coastal scenery, as it winds its way along the cliff with the sea breaking underneath you. Pass the little villages of Bettys Bay and Pringle Bay, popular coastal holiday towns for the locals who wish to escape the city.

If you are driving this route, you will want to base yourself in or near Hermanus for a couple of nights.  This is particularly popular in whale watching season between July and November, and in addition to boat-based whale watching tours, Hermanus offers the best land-based whale watching in the country.

Continue from Hermanus to Cape Agulhas, the Southern tip of Africa and where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet. Perfect for a lunch stop as there are not too many accommodation options in this pretty coastal town, with only a few owner run Guest houses that offer warm, friendly service.

Beginning your journey east, you’ll find De Hoop Nature Reserve on the coast. Offering wonderful birdlife, an abundance of fynbos and even several species of antelope. The reserve is a World Heritage Site and neighbours one of the largest marine reserves in Africa, offering an unspoilt, secluded coastline, where you could possibly find you are the only one on that stretch of beach watching a whale immersed in play not far from the shore.De Hoop Nature Reserve

Once you have departed De Hoop you can connect back onto the N2 motorway (for the adventurous take the chain ferry to cross the Malgas River) and continue along the coast towards Wilderness.

Leaving Cape Town Via The Winelands And Klein Karoo Route
The second option when departing Cape Town, for those who would prefer to see more of the Winelands and the Klein Karoo semi-desert, incorporating two ‘Capital towns‘, would be to take the the N1 motorway, stopping in Franschhoek for a couple of nights. Known as the Food and Wine Capital of the Country, here you can enjoy wines from some of world’s best wine estates in one of the prettiest towns in South Africa.

Continue your journey from the Winelands along the R62 as it meanders through the Du Toit’s pass, Robertson, Montagu and on to Oudtshoorn, the heart of the Klein Karoo and the Ostrich Capital of the world. The town, located in a dramatic setting of Karoo mountains and rugged scenery, offers a selection of ostrich show farms, the well known cango caves, animal wildlife ranches and our personal favourite – meerkat tours.  The meerkat tours do require an early morning start, however this is well worth it as you have the opportunity to view these shy and delightfully cute creatures in their natural habitat, as they wake up to the day and venture into the sunlight. Oudtshoorn is a great overnight stop, allowing you the afternoon and the following morning to enjoy some of these activities on offer.Ostrich Farm, Oudtshoorn

As you depart Oudtshoorn, head over the Outeniqua Pass and enjoy uninterrupted views of the Karoo as you climb. Descending towards George, you will have the coast in sight as you travel towards Wilderness, the gem of the Garden Route.

Along The Garden Route Coast From Wilderness
However you decide to start your self-drive adventure, the trip along the Garden Route proper will start when you arrive in the picturesque village of Wilderness.

This lovely little village is surrounded by quiet beaches that continue for miles and paralleled by forests and rivers that create a haven of wild beauty. There are a number of outdoor activities to make the most of this beautiful setting: canoe up the Touws River and enjoy a picnic at a waterfall, visit the Map of Africa viewpoint and Dolphins Point overlooking the famous Kaaimans Train Bridge, indulge in a meal at one of the many locally owned restaurants in the village or just enjoy the magnificent beaches – this is a great stop for a couple of nights if you are looking to relax and just breathe in nature and fresh air.

When you leave Wilderness and start heading towards Knysna, you may want to take a detour to the magnificent beaches at Sedgefield.  Myoli Beach boasts miles of soft sands and clear waters with plenty of water sports on offer, whilst the quieter Gerickes Point is an unspoiled paradise backed by dramatic mountains and with countless rock pools.  Sedgefield is close enough to Wilderness and Knysna and choosing to stay in either will allow you the opportunity to explore the area should you wish.

Knysna is the heart of the Garden Route, and the hustle and bustle of this charming waterfront town may steal your heart. Allow yourself 2 to 3 nights here if you have the time as there is so much to explore and do, our favourite would be sitting along the lagoon’s edge enjoying locally harvested oysters and a glass of bubbly! Knysna has a wonderful atmosphere, offers some lovely shopping, amazing views of the Knysna heads and boat activities along the lagoon with the option to explore the Featherbed Nature Reserve.

Knysna Channel, Garden Route, South Africa

From Knysna you can explore the Plettenberg Bay area that once again offers a haven of unspoilt beaches, forests and rivers. Family attractions and activities are in abundance here with horse riding, river and ocean boat cruises and several sanctuaries where you can interact with elephants, birds, primates and even big cats.

Continuing further along the coast, you will find Tsitsikamma – we suggest a night or two here to break the journey if you are heading to a safari lodge. Tsitsikamma – fitting with its Garden Route counter parts – is rich in adventure sports, forests and rivers. The Storms River Mouth National Park, located along rugged coast, offers a wonderful wooden walkway path through the forest of giant yellowwood trees and ferns to a suspension bridge that hangs over the river mouth, where river and ocean meet. The Park offers a lovely restaurant to enjoy lunch overlooking the sea while you watch the waves crashing into the rocks.

Storms River Mouth

Ending Your Journey With A Safari

A big-5 safari is guaranteed to be the highlight of any trip to South Africa, and the easiest way of adding a safari to your Garden Route adventure is to head into the Eastern Cape to one of the private game reserves located near Port Elizabeth.  This makes the ideal end to your self drive holiday and you can easily fly out of Port Elizabeth Airport after your safari, with regular flights that connect into Johannesburg and Cape Town in time for your international flight home.


Big 5 Safari At Kwandwe



Introducing Saseka Tented Camp, Thornybush Game Reserve

Paul Campbell - April 1, 2019

There is nothing quite as romantic and glamorous as a tented safari lodge, and so we were thrilled to hear about the 5* Saseka Tented Camp  – the latest addition to the Thornybush Game Reserve in South Africa.  Forming part of the greater Kruger National Park, Thornybush is rich and diverse with a mixture of open savannah and rolling bushveld, with the Drakensberg Mountains providing a dramatic backdrop to the west.  In addition to being home to the big-5, there are also some 142 species of mammals and 507 types of birds, all of which help to create an excellent year-round safari destination for those who are passionate about wildlife and nature.

The camp itself is a mixture of wood, stone and canvas that blends in with the surrounding wilderness.  With both an upper and lower deck, that provide open views of the riverbed, it is the perfect spot to end the day with a delicious meal, before retiring to the campfire and recounting stories of the day with your fellow guests.

Saseka has 8 separate luxurious tented rooms with open glass windows that provide spectacular views of the African bush.  Whether it be from the bedroom or the bathroom, there is always something to see.  Outside, each tent has its own private viewing deck with an outdoor shower, a plunge pool to cool off in the heat of the day and some sun loungers to bask in the African sun. The luxurious interiors provide plenty of comfort, but above all, to give every guest constant access to the untamed wilderness around them.

For families or small groups wanting an exclusive experience, then there is also the breath-taking Leadwood Villa.  With 2 separate rooms, the villa can accommodate up to 4 adults and 2 children, and a dedicated safari vehicle is also included, allowing for private game drives.  In addition it has a central area with a lounge and dining area that is perfect for private family meals. There is also a large outdoor viewing deck with a plunge pool and sun Loungers.

Guests wishing to indulge in a bit of R&R can visit the Thornybush Amani Spa, which all guests at Saseka can make use of. Just a short transfer from the camp,  the Spa  offers a variety of treatments and therapies that are designed and customised for the individual.

Within this big-5 reserve, the rich diversity of wildlife will insure the game viewing will always show something you were never expecting to see.

With its outstanding attention to detail and incredible service, Saseka shows off the romance that tented safaris in Africa are famous for, and looks to be an unforgettable experience – we can’t wait to see this incredible camp in person.


Saseka Tented Camp Room Exteria

Saseka Tented Camp Room Interior

Game Viewing In Thornybush

View from the main area as Saseka

Travel Butlers Nominated In Two Categories In The British Travel Awards

Paul Campbell - July 23, 2018

We are delighted to have been nominated in the British Travel Awards 2018 in the “Best Safari, Wildlife & Nature Holiday Company” and “Best Holiday Company to Africa” categories.

These industry-leading awards are often called the Oscars of the travel industry, and the winners are decided by public vote and announced at a gala dinner in London later in the year.

Voting is really simple using the form here, and everybody who votes is entered into a prize draw to win one of a number of fantastic holidays and travel prizes.  It’s not limited to UK residents, so our overseas clients can vote too.

Voting closes at midnight on the 30th September, and the prize draw winners will be notified by email address week commencing 15th October 2018.

The British Travel Awards winners will be announced awards winners will be announced at a gala dinner in London on Wednesday 28th November. Fingers crossed that we can repeat the success we have enjoyed with other awards over the past few years!

Many thanks for your support, and good luck in the prize draw!