As we contemplate where to travel next,  as restrictions are starting to lift, there seems to have been a mini boom trade from  South Africans taking up some of the incredible local offers that are available to us. This got me thinking about some of the dream locations I have explored, and plan to explore in the next few months.

Bucket list

Bucket List? Where does this term come from? it’s derived from the term” kick the bucket” (to die) and hence it’s  a list of things to do and experience before you die. If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we should take that trip, visit that family, see those friends and cherish these moments forever. In no particular order, here’s a few of mine:

1) Victoria Falls

One of the most incredible natural wonders found in Zimbabwe and an easy add on extension to a trip in South Africa. With a range of beautiful accommodation from the historic Victoria Falls Hotel, to quaint guesthouses and river front Zambezi lodges, there is a room to suit every taste. Don’t miss out on the newly rebuilt Lookout Cafe for a sumptuous lunch and views of the Gorge below. Take a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, or enjoy some of the many adrenalin packed adventure activities on offer. No matter how many times I visit, the tour of the Falls is always interesting, and amazing to see the water volumes and rain forest at different times of the year.

2) Maputo

Capital of Mozambique, with it’s vibrant markets, fresh seafood on sale and relaxed vibe, is another great extension trip to a holiday in South Africa, and easily combined with Kruger or Kwa-Zulu Natal safari trips.  A favourite stop for me is at the Southern Sun Maputo, right on the beach. Take a local city tour to see the Catholic Cathedral, Railway Station and immerse yourself in buying fresh chilli and peri peri sauces  in the local food markets.

3) Bygone Safari Experience

King’s Camp, Timbavati Private Reserve…. for the ultimate romance in the Bush, nothing beats the rooms at King’s Camp. Large sleigh beds fill each room, draped with mosquito nets and memorabilia of a time when safari travel was all about the journey and the experience of getting there. Gin and tonics flow from your mini bar as you enjoy your own private pool, with options for in room dining for two. This is the perfect setting for proposals, honeymoons or special anniversaries. Dress for dinner in the evenings if you please, take in the views from the upper deck overlooking the waterhole, or spend some relaxing time in the spa. Game viewing is 5 star, big 5 all the way, with regular sightings of wild dogs too. Highly recommended to spend at least 3 to 4 nights here, for  elegant luxury and exceptional care from all the staff.

4) Responsible Tourism

Abelana Private Game Reserve near Phalaborwa – this newly established reserve and lodges is a testament to the dedication and hard work that goes into community upliftment and partnerships. A magnificent, 5 star, 20 bedroomed lodge has been built on the banks of the Selati River, with permanent water in front of the lodge. The local community has found much needed employment, and the reintroduction of key species to the reserve is ensuring conservation efforts. Abelana is one of the few reserves to also offer various horseriding options from their safari camp. Stunning rocky outcrops complete the scenery in the reserve,  which is pristine and unspoilt, and back at the lodge, master craftsmen have created mosaics and sustainable wood work in the bar area that compliment any cocktail on offer.

5) Babylonstoren

More than just a wine tasting stop! This award winning property has developed into a destination all of it’s own. Farm produce, luxurious gifts, freshly baked breads and pastries, essential oils and more…. and of course, there is the wine, that’s fabulous too. If you know what you like, just order full bottles, instead of all the various tastings on offer. Delicious platters are available and with so many areas to explore on the farm, one can’t be blamed for checking in to the gorgeous accommodation for an overnight stay. However you plan to do the wine routes of the Western Cape, make sure that Babylonstoren is part of your itinerary. It’s world class.

6) The Last Word Kitara

Klaserie Private Reserve – for the Bucket List drinks stop. Nicky has a certain style and flair that one easily identifies with The Last Word properties in the Cape and more recently, on Safari. The epic drinks stop, carefully laid out by Craig our guide, and impeccably served, with soft table decor and garnishes, was sublime. Add to this an exclusive 6 roomed luxury lodge, fabulous hosts and excellent food, and you have a bucket list safari destination situated close to Hoedspruit. This little gem has some great combo deals on offer with the 3 sister properties in the Cape. Make sure it’s on your bucket list for 2021!

All photo credits to the author, Suzanne Benadie, and photographed on a Samsung Galaxy phone!

About the Author: Suzanne Benadie

Suzanne Benadie has been in the tourism industry for over 30 years, starting her career as a national tourist guide and tour director. This is where her passion for wildlife and conservation was fuelled from an early age. Ensuring the responsible sustainability of tourism is at the very core of her work ethic and principles, and in her role as Sales and Marketing Director at Sense of Africa, South Africa, she drives the use of our aligned suppliers who share our values. Suzanne travels extensively within Southern Africa, and shares her experiences and knowledge of the destination with our trade partners, stakeholders and teams in our business. She is also a director and current board member of SATSA, who are playing an active role in the recovery of tourism.

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