Our Throwback Thursday blog takes you on a tour of South Africa. Find out what happened when Africa Expert Ra took a sweeping, tailor-made tour of South Africa, from the city of Cape Town to a safari across the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Originally published November 2013.

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Cape Town

Cape Town is the essential starting point for any trip to South Africa. The city has everything: art, nightlife, food, beaches, whale watching, and (of course) Table Mountain. It's also easy to navigate - handy, considering that I was planning on zipping across the country in a little white Sonic Chevy.

My first tip? Be sure to book a Cape Point tour: the view from the Point is unparalleled, and when I was there, there was a real 'Jamaica Inn' fog that was evocative of what explorers must have seen when they first encountered the country's shores.

If whale watching is on your to-do list, book a lunch at the Tintswalo Atlantic hotel - I saw three over the course of one sitting. Food-wise, I sampled delicious ostrich carpaccio at the quintessentially British-style The Cellars-Hohenort that I'd definitely recommend. And the other highlights? I was blown away by the lovely gardens and art collection at Ellerman House hotel.

To the Winelands…

The vineyards of South Africa's Winelands are particularly quiet and tranquil - especially in contrast with Cape Town. Head to the little town of Franschoek for a peaceful afternoon wander - everything feels very local, and its home to The Tasting Room, an award-winning restaurant at the Le Quartier Francais hotel that's unbelievably imaginative (think: if J.K. Rowling were a chef!). The eight courses of food create a kind of culinary narrative that's not to be missed.

humpback whales hermanus

On the road...

I made the drive along the East Coast's Garden Route to the beach town of Hermanus, which lived up to it's unofficial title of whale-watching capital of the world.

Next, I was off to Plettenburg Bay, a cool area reminiscent of Cornwall that plays host to Kurland (above), a hotel in the style of an Anglo-Dutch polo estate. A converted family home in a stunning setting, my stay was a definite trip highlight - in part thanks to the ludicrously comfy beds.

Kwanda sunset

From city to safari

South Africa isn't particularly known for being a safari hotspot, but my Eastern Cape safari experience completely eradicated any misgivings I might have had prior to the trip. I stayed at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve and I can honestly say that I have never seen landscapes comparable. One night, I fell to sleep to the sound of lions roaring, and woke up to be greeted by seven of the big cats in the near vicinity of my tent.

My last stop was the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Singitas Boulders Lodge was an otherworldly experience. I had expected the hyper-luxe lodge to feel over the top, but I found that, unsurprisingly, it really doesn't take long to sit back, relax and completely indulge.

For more on bespoke holidays to South Africa, contact Original Travel