Amakhala Game Reserve is spread across 18,000 acres (7,280ha), hosting five of the seven biomes in South Africa and a large diversity of wildlife. Sightings here may feature lions, buffalos, rhinos, elephants and leopards, plus giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, wildebeest and many species of antelope. Using open-air 4WD safari vehicles, we begin with an early morning game drive to search for wildlife at the time when the reserve is most active. There will be moments to relax and enjoy the incredible facilities at the lodge over lunch as well as visit the spa or take a dip in your private plunge pool overlooking the bush.
Later, we head back into the reserve for an afternoon game drive, searching for species we may not have encountered yet. Another wine and cheese sundowner will feature on this afternoon's game drive. In the evening, we enjoy a traditional braai (South African barbecue) under the southern hemisphere night sky (weather permitting). Stay: Amakhala Safari Lodge, Amakhala Game Reserve (four-star) (B/L/D).
Our day begins with a final game drive in Amakhala before we head west to the official start of the Garden Route – Storms River in Tsitsikamma National Park. Getting its name from a local word meaning ‘place of abundant water' and encompassing land and sea, Tsitsikamma National Park is a diverse wilderness of lush forest, epic canyons and magnificent coastal views. In the park, we enjoy a walk in the forest and along boardwalks and suspension bridges.
This is a great opportunity to encounter abundant birdlife, with sea, forest and scrubland species all present. Our accommodation is a short transfer away in the relaxed seaside town of Plettenberg Bay, where there are great restaurants close to our lodge for dinner. Stay: Christiana Lodge, Plettenberg Bay (four-star) (B/L).
Continuing along the Garden Route, we visit one of its most picturesque points, Knysna Heads – a pair of sandstone cliffs that form a channel separating the calm waters of Knysna Lagoon from the turbulent Indian Ocean. Our next stop is for lunch at Mossel Bay, a quaint coastal town home to The Post Office Tree, a landmark where seafarers once left letters to be taken home by Portuguese sailors.
We end today's journey at De Hoop Nature Reserve and will arrive at our secluded accommodation within the reserve this afternoon, leaving time to discover this amazing setting before dinner. Standard accommodation: De Hoop Collection, De Hoop Nature Reserve (three-star) (B/L/D).
De Hoop Nature Reserve is a World Heritage site and home to 86 mammal species, more than 260 bird species, and the smallest and most threatened plant kingdom on the planet: the Cape Floral Kingdom. The reserve stretches some 84,000 acres (34,000ha) and includes 3mi (5km) of marine reserve, one of the largest in Africa. This is one of the best locations in South Africa to see migrating southern right whales from shore (from late August to November) and is far less busy than nearby Hermanus.
We have the day to discover this unspoilt environment and enjoy some of the many optional activities on offer, such as a guided eco-boat tour, an interpretative marine walk, birdwatching, and mountain biking. In the afternoon, we walk along the beach boardwalk to a lookout point that is a great place for whale watching in season. Standard accommodation: De Hoop Collection, De Hoop Nature Reserve (three-star) (B/D).
We start early today and drive to Cape Point Nature Reserve for a two-hour walk along this ruggedly beautiful coastline. Starting with the Old Lighthouse, a short climb is rewarded with panoramic views of False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Our route follows the boardwalk along the coast, past hidden beaches and jagged cliff faces, before reaching the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula.
The nature reserve is home to elands, bonteboks, grysboks, springboks, wildebeest, baboons and ostriches, and we may be lucky enough to see a few of them. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is our next stop. After lunch, we have the afternoon to discover the abundant bird and plant life of this highly acclaimed botanical garden, as well as appreciate its full grandeur from the canopy walkway. Our day ends in Camps Bay, an affluent suburb of Cape Town between the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain National Park. Stay: Ocean View House, Cape Town (four-star) (B/L).