Golf Safari – Into Africa Golf on the wild side
Golf Safari – Into Africa, Golf on the Wildside
South Africa is a big country, just how big we were about to find out.
Its history has intertwined with that of Britain for well over 100 years, they drive on the left, speak English as a matter of course and share our passion for all things competitive. South Africa is a country whose people delight in its name of ‘Rainbow Nation’ which signifies its multicultural outlook. For so long an outsider from the international community, South Africa has gleefully been accepted back, due almost entirely to the work of one man, Nelson Mandela, the father of free South Africa. Wherever you travel in the country you will never be far from his influence and how he is loved by his people.
Quality Golf Destinations Managing Director, Neil Adams, has always been struck by their infectious enthusiasm for their country, their golf and life in general. Indeed Neil will tell you that if you want a quiet night out stay well clear of South Africans! It was with great anticipation that Neil and his long suffering wife headed for some winter sun and a golf Safari. After her experiences as freelance reporter we had to get Sue to recount her trip. Over to you Sue:
When Neil told me he was going to South Africa last year it’s the first time that I’ve said “that is not work it’s a holiday!” When Neil got back he wouldn’t shut up (nothing new there), but all he would talk about was South Africa. So I knew the inevitable would happen that we would be heading down there sooner rather than later.
Now let’s get a few things straight first, I have a lot to say about where we go on holiday and I know Neil’s organisational skills, I was really reassured that Rachel was handling our end and Warren, Director of Giltedge Golf and Sport (Quality Golf’s travel partner in South Africa) was doing the planning over there. I was therefore delighted to be presented with my travel pack by Rachel. The Golf Safari itinerary looked fantastic and the pack was so well presented, (obviously Rachel’s work me thinks). So leaving behind freezing England we boarded the flight for sun, fun & adventure.
To visit South Africa you can fly direct from London with several national carriers. Airlines such as South African Airlines, BA and Virgin all fly into a variety of cities. You can fly from regional airports via Dubai, Paris (Air France) or Amsterdam (KLM), a longer route but sometimes more convenient than travelling to London. We flew Manchester to Dubai and then Dubai to Cape Town as Neil is an Emirates groupie, he has some sort of Skywards card that gets people to carry him on and off the planes. Flight times were 6 hours to Dubai and 8 hours to Cape Town. (Direct flights are in the region of 11 hours).
South Africa & love affairs
I had to confess to Neil that not only had I not been to SA, I had never been in the southern hemisphere, something the South Africans found most amusing.
On a more personal note I have another confession to make; it’s one thing to fall in love on holiday, but another if your partner is with you! That’s what happened to me and before everyone thinks this some racy newsletter, I’d best qualify that with the fact I fell in love with South Africa. Neil kept saying “you will love this place”, so much so I was worried it would be anti-climactic. Neil was right it was love at first sight and the sights, the sounds and the people we met will life in my memories for ever.
Cape Town is simply beautiful. We arrived at night and having picked up our rental car complete with sat navigation; together with Warren’s directions off we went. After a quiet drive with only 1 mistake we found our first hotel,
The Last Word Constantia Hotel situated in a quiet suburb of Cape Town. A chic boutique hotel with the feel of a very large modern house rather than a hotel. All the hotel staff were wonderful (that saying will keep cropping up) and couldn’t do enough for us. We needed an early breakfast both days we stayed there. It was never any trouble, they even had time to make us delicious omelettes each day. This is a must stay hotel that has lovely gardens, swimming pool and the bedroom we had was brilliant.
The next 4 days were spent playing golf, touring around TableMountain and visiting Cape Point, all in beautiful sunshine and warmth, marvellous! Cape Town feels like home and everyone you meet from hotel staff to taxi drivers are so friendly they will tell you their life stories and also get yours! This is a beautiful city, easy to get round with so much to see we only scratched the surface.
The Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel as it says on the tin, this hotel is on the waterfront in Cape Town and is very convenient for the marina with its great selection of bars and restaurants. This is a truly sensational modern hotel of real high quality that can pamper your every need. Again all the facilities were excellent and to eat your breakfast on the outside decking watching dolphins play in the bay was you, guessed it, amazing.
No trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to Table Mountain and a trip to Cape Point. Table Mountain is as good as it looks. The cable car ride is great, queue’s for the cable car can be busy at weekends but was not too bad for us, and the scenery at the top is breath-taking. We walked up there for a good 4 hours (make sure you take fluids with you as it can get seriously hot). If the weather’s good while you are in Cape Town go to Table Mountain at the first opportunity. If the wind blows from the wrong direction Table Mountain wears its famous cloud top hat and there’s nothing to see. Cape Point was a wonderful drive and then a short walk the final few hundred yards. To stand and look at Atlantic Ocean one side and Indian Ocean on the other was spectacular.
Golf Safari in Cape Town
The golfing twins, Warren & Neil wanted to play some golf and I fancied taking some money off them!
The first game was at Royal Cape Town Golf Club, Warren’s home club so I was sporting and let him win. Somehow Neil sneaked in to second place but not to worry. This was a beautiful golf course with a real traditional feel to it. The course was easy to find and once again everyone at the club was so friendly. The next day we played at PearlValley, a course Neil played last year and insisted we play it again. I paired with Warren and we saw off Neil and his partner for the day Patrick (a lovely German guy who lives in Sweden, come on please keep up!!). I holed out from a bunker to administer the coup de grâce.
The cool beer after was so much sweeter knowing you know who had to pay for it. As before the golf course was magnificent, surrounded by beautiful houses (Geoff Boycott has a house here) & according to Neil he used to play cricket for England apparently.
Stellenbosch is the home of South African wine and also rugby. When you look around you could be in any European town with the back drop of vineyards. I was very keen to sample the South African Sauvignon (actually to be truthful I had been practising that for a few days). Stellenbosch did not disappoint with its wineries, superb restaurants and a beautiful gust house to relax in.
Our base in the wine lands was the Wedgeview Country House. This is a 5 star guest house run by Dave Bakker (an ex Dutch international cricketer so Neil told me, where does he pick up all this trivia from, and more importantly is anyone interested?). This is a wonderful thatched property with all the facilities of a 5* hotel (including pool, spa centre & games deck) and surrounded on all sides by vineyards. Again we were looked after like royalty. The next day Neil managed to sneak off to play golf at De Zalze. He can back raving about his caddy, a man called Smiley. Smiley apparently sorted out Neil’s golf game, his course management and his head, (now that is a feat) and all inside 5 hours. Smiley is probably collecting his Nobel Prize for Care in the Community as we speak. Neil said De Zalze was great fun, but my spa and poolside therapy were better.
It would be rude not to visit a couple of wineries whilst in Stellenbosch. We booked a three vineyard tour, which included transfers, lunch and plenty of wine tasting. The quality of the wine was excellent, so good we only managed 2 out of the 3 tastings. We never got passed the second, Ernie Els’s winery where an 8 wine tasting with a superb South African steak saw us all off. We still managed to somehow visit the working part as they were bringing in the harvest. The first winery we visited was wonderful and noted for its port.
The Garden Route is a spectacular journey between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. We took the coastal route and saw wonderful rugged coast-lines. This is a route you could take weeks over, stopping at each bay and journeying inland to see many interesting places. We stopped to look at Arabella Golf Club which is well worth a visit. Continuing on along the coast we were staying for a few nights at the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club. Being married to a golf tour provider means we have to visit golf complexes. Fancourt is some complex. Fancourt states it is South Africa’s premier leisure and business resort. I can say it certainly lives up to its claims.
The resort has 3 golf courses: Outeniqua, Montagu and the world famous Links. We played Outeniqua on the first day, then as a challenge Neil switched us to the Links course. Wow even I was impressed. What a golf course. The scoring wasn’t great, I won, and Neil lost a few balls as normal, I didn’t, happy days.
After the few days of Safari Golf at Fancourt we continued our journey/adventure past Port Elizabeth and headed inland to the exquisite Pumba Private Game Reserve. This to me was real Africa and real Safari. I expected David Attenborough to come round the corner saying lets go and look at elephants. This game reserve was all inclusive (you can’t walk down to the pub at night!). You get up early as the sun rises for a morning game drive, a lot of the action takes place at dawn and dusk so it’s not a place for a lie in. After the game drive is breakfast and plenty of time for relaxation. Another game drive takes place in the late afternoon/evening this time accompanied by sundowners in the bush, very civilised. All other times are your own. On our game drives we saw so much wildlife, practically everything but water buffalo and leopards. We witnessed a lion kill and, far rarer, a cheater kill. This is not a gruesome as it sounds, but it is real life and to see all these magnificent animals in the wild was, (I’ll say it again) amazing. Pumba was Africa as you expect it and probably the high-light of my trip.
South African Hospitality
As Neil has said before, South Africans are party animals and we were welcomed as long lost friends.
The day after we arrived in Cape Town was the largest amateur bike ride in the world, 35,000 cyclists took over Cape Town, what an atmosphere!
My overall reflections were of a country so big, with so much to see that we must go back and soon. The happy smiling faces the openness of the people was something that will stick in my memory.
Finally thanks to Rachel & Robbie for making the UK end work, Warren for putting together a wonderful Golf Safari package and putting up with Neil. Natalie and Claude for the great evening in Cape Town. Special thanks to Dave and Jan for being such great company (Ernie’s winery will never be the same). Finally thanks to all hotel, golf staff, taxi drivers and Smiley. Last but not least thanks to Sarah, how we cope with Warren and Neil I’ll never know.
The Golf Safari Itinerary was a 14 night trip to Cape town and along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth
Cape Town (4 days), Stellenbosch (4 days), Fancourt (3 days), Pumba Game Reserve (2 days) and a final night in Cape Town.
Golf Safari Packages are available on a similar itinerary to Sue’s trip from £1995 p.p twin share for 10 nights in a mixture of 4 and 5 star accommodation with daily breakfast and include car hire for the duration of the trip and 3 rounds of golf. Flights are available from £550 (Economy).
To learn more about South Africa visit our web page Why South Africa?