Where to travel! South African travel news and inspiration – May 2024

08 May 2024
We're always on the lookout for fresh and interesting places to stay and what's new on the local travel scene. In our latest travel update we share the rundown of hotel news, trends, new venues, and enticing local travel offers you don't want to miss. Here are some places we're adding to our travel wishlist. 

Something fun at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

Few things say African luxury quite like Ardmore Design does. Drawing inspiration from the iconic animal-inspired prints from the KwaZulu-Natal brand, Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa in Morningside is revealing its newest suite – the Satara Suite. A partnership between Fairlawns and Ardmore Ceramic, it has Ardmore artists Sydney Hadebe and Wiseman Mpofu at the helm with guidance from the creative and managing director at Fairlawns, Michael Kewley. We can’t wait to see what the final design will look like. If you want to get an idea, Fairlawns Boutique Hotel has been sharing teasers on its Instagram page and it looks like a million dollars.

SAA relaunches Perth direct flights

Good news for travellers looking to visit Australia! SAA relaunched flights between Johannesburg and Perth at the end of April. With a flying time of around 10 hours and flights three times a week, it’s a far more convenient option for South Africans visiting friends and family in Australia. As John Lamola, interim CEO of SAA says, “This is an important route for both SAA and South Africa. Perth has long been a favoured destination for South African travellers. Approximately 80% of our target market travel there regularly to visit family and friends.” The announcement follows the reintroduction of direct flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg to São Paulo, Brazil, six months ago – the first intercontinental route since the state-owned airline emerged from business rescue and Covid-19 lockdowns. 
SAA has relaunched flights between Johannesburg and Perth. Photo: SAA via Instagram.

Wine not travel?

The only thing that possibly pairs better with travel than food is travel and wine. This month, we’re happy to report that opportunities to sample some of the best South Africa’s vineyards have to offer are coming up ripe on the local travel scene.

As De Hoop prepares for the triumphant return of the whales to its waters, De Hoop Collection on the De Hoop Nature Reserve hosts its popular Wine Whales & Music Weekend from Fri, Jun 21 – Sun, Jun 23. Expect wine and food pairings, a guided bird walk, a chocolate workshop, wine and cheese tasting, High Tea, and a marine walk. Weekend rates for a two-night stay start at R2725 p.p.s., including dinner, bed, breakfast, entertainment, and activities. For more information, visit the De Hoop Collection website.
The arrival of the whales makes for a great occasion to say, "Cheers!" at De Hoop. Photo: De Hoop Collection via Instagram.

Don’t miss out on Samara Karoo Reserve’s Cheetahs & Cultivars Wine in the Wilderness weekends which blend the thrills of safari with the sophistication of wine tasting over two weekends in May. Shiraz specialist and winemaker at Dewaldt Heyns Family Wines, Dewaldt Heyns, showcases his Weathered Hands collection over the weekend of Fri, May 17 – Sun, May 19 while winemaker at award-winning wine estate Creation, Jean-Claude Martin, offers a tasting of his exquisite chardonnay and pinot noir on the weekend of Fri, May 24 – Sun, May 26. Enjoy a special rate of R6,550 p.p.p.n. in Samara’s recently redesigned Karoo Lodge and get a 50% discount for the third night, as well as a Friday night wine tasting and pairing dinner, a Sunday morning wilderness breakfast picnic, and tickets to the Stoep Tasting Wine Weekend. Visit the Samara website for more information.
Enjoy a safari with a splash of wine at Samara Karoo Reserve. Photo: Supplied.

It’s not too late to book for one of Spier's 2024 Winemaker Dinners. Taking place in the Manor House at Spier in Stellenbosch, these evenings celebrate the estate’s culinary and wine expertise as guests enjoy Spier’s award-winning wine offering and a four-course meal. The next dinners take place on Fri, May 10, Fri, Jun 7, Fri, Jul 12, Fri, Aug 16, and Fri, Sep 6. Dinners cost R750 p.p., including the wine pairing. For more information, visit Spier's website.
An intimate Spier Winemaker Dinner. Photo: Supplied.

This year marks the 10th iteration of the Stoep Tasting Wine Weekend – a lovely idea that started as a wine tasting of five wine producers on five stoeps in Graaf Reinet in 2014. The festival has grown but the premise remains the same: hop from stoep to stoep between the towns of Graaf Reinet and Nieu Bethesda and taste some fine wines in the comfort of small-town hospitality. This year’s stoep tasting takes place over two weekends from Fri, May 17  Sat, May 18 and Thu, May 23 – Sun, May 25. Producers attend on invitation only and tickets are limited so if you like the idea, book now. It’s certainly one we’re adding to our bucket list.

Festivals to add to your diary

Just around the corner, this year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival takes place from Fri, May 17 – Sun, May 19. A highlight for book lovers, the festival turns the town of Franschhoek into a lively spot each year as visitors gather for three days of workshops, masterclasses, screenings, panel discussions, author interviews, and informal discussions. The intellectual fodder will excite audiences and we have no doubt Franschhoek will show off its food-centric side as well. Remember to make your bookings well in advance and enjoy the literary and culinary offerings on offer.

Always a hit on the Knysna social calendar, the Knysna Oyster Festival returns from Fri, Jun 21 – Sun, Jun 30. And you don’t have to be an oyster lover to find something enthralling at this annual event: you can take in art exhibitions and walkabouts, run the Knysna Forest Marathon; enjoy tea, gin, and wine tastings, get your fill at the craft beer and burger festival, and enjoy live music performances. The list is long – visit the website for all the details. If you’re looking for a swanky place to stay, we can highly recommend The Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa. It’s a quirky art hotel with a rich history in the heart of Knysna’s Thesen Island. We had a look and there are still some rooms available but we recommend you make your booking sooner rather than later.
Oysters and bubbly from The Turbine Boutique Hotel. Photo: Knysna Oyster Festival via Instagram.
The colourful interior of The Turbine Boutique Hotel. Photo: Supplied.

This year marks 50 years of the National Arts Festival: a milestone for the annual multi-disciplinary arts festival that takes place in the Eastern Cape town of Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown). Running from Thu, Jun 20 – Sun, Jun 30, this year’s festival offers a glittering roster of curated theatre performances, circus productions, comedy sets, dance acts, caberet, music, and performance art. Jazz afficionados will enjoy the National Jazz Festival which happens under the umbrella of the National Arts Festival while the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards celebrates young talents. If you haven’t started planning yet, it’s time to get to work. This is one not to miss out on.

Fine-dining and luxury estates bucket list: Tintswalo Atlantic

The ultimate ocean views await at Tintswalo Atlantic. Photo: Supplied.

When it comes to luxury destinations with fine-dining options, we have just the place to add to our ever-growing bucket list: Tintswalo Atlantic. Built at the foot of Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town, the views offered by this ocean-facing five-star lodge are hard to beat. Sink into a bath with the waves crashing beyond your window, strike a perfect balance between exploring and relaxing, and don’t miss the opportunity to dine at the on-site Chef’s Warehouse of Chef Liam Tomlin fame which, to name but one award, won South Africa's Best Hotel Restaurant 2022 at the World Culinary Awards. There’s no time like the present to make that booking with their winter warmer special: you can bag an Island Suite from R9,440 per night for two guests including dinner, bed, and breakfast. Visit the Tintswalo Atlantic website for more information.

Fly in to Tintswalo Safari

A Federal Airlines flight to Tintswalo Safari. Photo: Supplied.

From the beach to the bush, reaching Tintswalo Safari in the Manyeleti Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park has never been easier with the announcement that guests can now fly in directly with Federal Airlines’ charter services from O.R. Tambo International Airport. It’s a service we think will prove popular, no less considering that the lodge was nominated in the Resorts Category of the Condé Nast Traveler’s 2024 Readers’ Choice Awards (we’ll be sure to let you know the outcome of the awards).

Travel inspiration: Jared in Cape Town

Jared Ruttenberg is the man behind Instagram page Jared in Cape Town. Photo: @jaredincpt via Instagram.
We love seeing the world from someone else’s perspective and thought we’d share some of our favourite Instagram content creators with you. This month, we have our eyes on Jared in Cape Town (@jaredincpt), a South African travel journalist and Instagrammer. There is plenty of local – and international – inspiration on his page, from gorgeous game lodges to boutique hotels, and jaw-dropping nature shots. We love his suave selfies (the man loves holding a drink in his hands) and his preference for unique places to stay. Check it out!

Rave reviews

If you missed our review of Ezemvelo Nature Reserve in Bronkhorstspruit, now is your time to play catch up. It’s essential reading if you’re an avid hiker or find yourself hankering for the quiet of nature. The rock pools, self-guided hiking routes, and abundance of wildlife on the reserve make this a pit stop where you can fill up on nature’s therapy in no-fuss, self-catering accommodation. It might just be what the doctor ordered.
There is plenty of nature's enjoyment to be found at Ezemvelo Nature Reserve. Photo: Jessica Hunkin. 
As we recently discovered, self-catering doesn’t always mean paired back kitchen facilities and out-of-the-way chalets. At Lefika Villas, the latest addition to Sun City’s vacation club, self-catering takes on the face of luxury. We’ll share our experience with you soon so watch this space.

There are also our upcoming hotel reviews of Sanctuary Mandela in Houghton and The Maslow Time Square in Pretoria, as well as a trip we’ll soon be taking to Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa in Limpopo’s Welgevonden Game Reserve. Clearly, we’re taking our job of bringing you the best in travel news very seriously.


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