Since leaving South Africa many moons ago, I have returned at least 20 times, if not more. It is one of the most beautiful countries, inhabited by wonderful people, living in the most spectacular and diverse destinations.
Getting to South Africa from the United States, Canada, or Mexico, whether to Johannesburg or Cape Town, is a long flight from the West Coast (24 hours actual flying) and from Atlanta (17+ hours).The most highly recommended air carriers are Qatar Airways from LAX, United from Newark, NJ, Delta, or Emirates Air which is also marvelous.
Of course, you can also travel through New York or any other major US city and stopover in Europe, or fly direct to Johannesburg and make that your main base in South Africa. Any way you look at it, it’s a long trip, but worth every minute of travel time.
I highly recommend the service on Qatar’s Business Class/First Class, as it is beyond amazing. The seats, with their oversized personal TVs and sleeping pods, are so enjoyable. On-call food service is over the top – at any time, you can order any item from the menu.
To really enjoy your visit, always take the time to learn a few words of the local language such as Afrikaans and Fanagalo. Fanagalo is a pidgin (simplified language) based primarily on Zulu, with English and a small Afrikaans input.
The rate of exchange for the South African Rand at the time of writing is 17 Rands to every $1.00. Unbelievable value awaits, especially at upscale and luxurious hotels, game reserves and fabulous restaurants.
Tintswalo Atlantic – the Hidden Gem of Cape Town
There are many beautiful beach hotels throughout the world. The 5-star luxury Tintswalo Atlantic Lodge has to be one of the top ten boutique hotels anywhere! What an amazing and very special romantic hideaway. And it is only twenty minutes from downtown Cape Town. My wife and I spent our 52nd wedding anniversary here at Tintswalo Atlantic.
The hotel boasts an exclusive and unique shoreline location within the protected Table Mountain National Park, one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Sites, situated just outside of Hout Bay, on the scenic Chapman’s Peak drive. The pebbled beach directly in front of the lodge is secluded and sheltered from winds. There is excellent access to the natural beauty found along the mountainside’s winding hiking trails.This gorgeous, dramatic and romantic destination needs to be on your Bucket List! When we sent some photos to a friend, she replied “you didn’t say you were travelling to heaven”. And every vista is truly “heavenly”.
Superlatives cannot do the hotel justice. From its location, the structure, the access, the rooms, the service, the food and the staff, attention to details are the hallmarks of Tintswalo Atlantic. Every member of the staff is so amazingly kind, attentive, professional and genuinely pleasant- the hallmark of all Tintswalo properties.
Your first thrill is the arrival, from the entrance – the drive down to the lodge (at the base of Chapman’s Peak), and you know immediately that you are going somewhere extraordinary. You are greeted with champagne and smiling faces. The warm hospitality didn’t stop until we left 2 1/2 days later.
All 10 Island Suites, as well as the Presidential Suite, face the Atlantic Ocean with breath-taking panoramic views of the Sentinel, shown in the photo, and Hout Bay. All the suites are uniquely themed after different islands, the Robben Island Suite is honoring Nelson Mandela, and feature chandeliers, warm décor, and wooden floors. All come with sitting areas, satellite TV, fireplaces and balconies. Airy bathrooms offer free-standing tubs with spectacular water views.
The regal Presidential suite, sitting above the other suites, is stunning, opulent and luxurious. The two master suites, each with the largest and most lavish bathrooms I have ever enjoyed, together with heated floors and fireplaces in each room are tantalizing. The enormous bath overlooking the waters of Hout Bay was, without a doubt, my wife’s favorite feature. And to top it off, there is another room, the sitting area, also with a fireplace, making being spoiled a wonderful experience.
Having all your meals at the lodge is simply amazing with the sea lapping against the rocks, making a wonderful backdrop. The menu choices available for breakfast, lunch and dinner are terrific. The chefs produce exquisite, extraordinary cuisine. You really do not want, or need, to leave the lodge. Sitting out on the patio or at the pool (in summer) – reading, talking, having tea, looking for whales, meditating, or just communing with nature is a life affirming experience. Cuban cigars are available, as is Sherry, to enjoy on your balcony.
Don’t forget to ask for your personal wishing rock at reception before leaving. You do really want to wish to come back regularly when you toss the rock over your left shoulder into the ocean.
Melissa and Ryno, the GMs are superb hosts who make Tintswalo even more fabulous.
Rates will vary depending on the season. Expect to pay somewhere between $400 and $700 per couple, per night, for one of the suites. The Presidential Suite is going to come in at about $2,000.00 per couple per night. Breakfast, house drinks, coffee and teas are included. Guests who join you for dinner will be in the $50-$60 per person range without wine.
If you are not able to stay overnight, at least try and make a reservation for breakfast, lunch, or early dinner – you will not be disappointed! Sunrise and sunset like you’ve never, ever seen before…
www.tintswalo.com/atlantic/ and to see the rates visit https://www.tintswalo.com/boulders/villa/rates/
Tintswalo at Boulders
In my opinion, most every visitor to South Africa should share the joy and pleasure of visiting a Tintswalo lodge.
Tintswalo Lodges are an exquisite collection of five family-owned and run properties situated in unique locations within South Africa.
Most every visitor to Cape Town wants to go and see the endangered African Penguins at the Boulders in Simon’s Town. The “boulders” are in fact granite boulders on the beaches of the Indian Ocean.
I highly recommend staying at the Tintswalo Boulders, which is a triple level, 9-room luxury boutique villa perched on the beachfront that overlooks the famed Boulders Beach, in Simon’s Town, about 20 miles from Cape Town.
The villa boasts 180-degree ocean vistas from where guests can enjoy uninterrupted views of the playful African penguins on the beach below. You have your own key to the Boulders boardwalk, which is an experience itself, being able to get up close to nesting penguins without disturbing them or their nests.
With a rich mingling of azure, blue and greens, and dark wood fittings, the luxury suites are named after famous ships. Suites are individually decorated to pay homage to maritime history and the location of the villa outside the naval village of Simon’s Town. These range from the Mayflower and the Cutty Sark, to Jan van Riebeeck’s Drommedaris.
There are two Premier suites (Drommedaris and Sea-Witch) which I highly recommend because of their views and size and being adjacent to the rooftop plunge pool. However, with the exception of the Victory suite, which has its own private courtyard, all enjoy views of the ocean.
Standard amenities are air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, tea and coffee facilities, a minibar, and a television. Premier suites have gas fireplaces as well. Bathrooms are large and well-appointed with separate tubs and showers.
The Boutique Villa operates on a bed and breakfast basis with lunch and dinner served on request. Breakfast is a feast featuring phenomenal bread baked on the premises, fresh fruit and juice, yoghurts, cereals, homemade pastries, muesli, and a selection of local cheeses. The spinach and feta quiches, hash browns with bacon and egg, mushroom fritters, lemon and chive tart are amazingly delicious. Special dietary needs or preferences are upon request.
To see the breakdown of the suites and rates, please visit https://www.tintswalo.com/boulders/villa/rates/
Hermanus Boutique Guest House
Oceanside Luxury on the Shores of Walker Bay in Hermanus.
The town of Hermanus is 140 kilometers from Cape Town and one of the most picturesque, popular and charming destinations in the Western Cape. This iconic fishing town’s claim to fame is its staggering whale population that descends upon the bay during the calving season, making it one of the world’s best land-based whale watching destinations.
For golfers, two outstanding golf courses await – the Hermanus Golf Club with its amazing 27- holes and the very upscale Arabella a few kilometers from downtown Hermanus.
Overlooking the whale-filled oceans of Walker Bay, Hermanus Boutique Guest House is great for a coastal walk and is only a few minutes from the local center for restaurants and shops. Make sure you visit the famous Fick’s Pool immediately across the road.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a dazzling white building that stands proudly on the edge of the coast. The bold interiors of the open-plan main area mirror the elegance of the ocean and confidence of summer, ensuring accents of turquoise and hints of yellow are scattered throughout. Each of the rooms are beautifully furnished with premier quality softs, and elegant furniture. Classic, graceful, and sometimes bold, each of the rooms offers something unique. In total, there are 18 rooms in the guest house. The sea-facing suites offering an opportunity to watch whales and waves from the comfort of your bed.
The Hermanus Boutique Guest House is known for its cleanliness, staff, service, property conditions, facilities, room comfort, and an outstanding whale of a breakfast.
It is almost as if you were staying at a friend’s upscale residence.
A small splash pool, stylish restaurant, free Wi-Fi and parking are just a few of the amenities to enjoy. Warm hospitality and eager-to-please hosts who cater to every whim, while guests sit back and enjoy the spirit of Hermanus.
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit, especially having the ocean across the road and the delicious breakfasts we so enjoyed.
Depending on the season, low season being May, June and July, rates range from R2400 ($133.33) for a standard to R4450 (R247.22) for the Penthouse suite. Mid-season, Jan to April & August to November & December 1-15, rates vary from R3200 ($177.77) to R5500 ($305.55) per room. High season is from December 16- 31 and early January, rates are from R3500 ($194.44) to R6000 ($333.33) per room. Rates include breakfast, free parking & Wi-Fi. Rates subject to change.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: +27 28 3131433
Gondwana Private Game Reserve
Still craving another authentic, breathtaking African experience? Then, you are in luck! Just under four hours away from Cape Town, along the famous Garden Route, lies the Gondwana Game Reserve.
In paleogeography, Gondwana, originally Gondwanaland, is the name given to the more southerly of two supercontinents which were part of the Pangaea supercontinent that existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago. ~ Wikipedia
Gondwana is accessibly situated 25 minutes outside the charming coastal town of Mossel Bay. George Airport is only a 45-minute drive from the game reserve (transfers can be arranged) with daily flights from Johannesburg International Airport (JNB, O. R. Tambo) and Cape Town International Airport (CPT).
As a Garden Route Game Reserve, Gondwana shares the region’s idyllic climate, second most moderate in the world next to Hawaii, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, with average temperatures between 13°C / 55°F in June, and 19°C / 66°F in January. The game reserve’s warm climate offers exceptional year-round Game Viewing while you enjoy a Luxury African Safari Experience. During South Africa’s winter months, it can be quite chilly on a night game drive, so take appropriate clothing.
Gondwana is a 26,000 acre malaria free, luxurious Private Game Park offering free-roaming Big 5 safari animals (lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino, and leopard). Indigenous Fynbos vegetation cloaks the undulating valleys, adding vivid color and interest to a Big 5 game viewing and wilderness experience.
Many species of wildlife, including eland, giraffe, elephant, hippo, cheetah and zebra can be seen on the majestic landscape with awe-inspiring views of the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains in every direction.
At Gondwana you will receive attentive service, wholesome and delicious African Cuisine, inspiring interiors, expert Game Rangers, and an array of activities including sunrise and sunset game drives with sundowners with snacks and drinks, Mountain Biking, Hikes, Africology spa treatments, and the popular Junior Ranger program. Hennie, our driver and guide, knows the bush intimately. His vast knowledge is only surpassed by his love and passion for making every game drive memorable. He has an appreciation and understanding of all aspects of the game reserve and conservation and nature. Bianca, the GM, was always there when needed and expertly guided every aspect of making our African experience truly unforgettable.
Gondwana’s Fynbos Villas and Bush Villas offer the luxury amenities of a Safari Lodge with all the comforts of home, ideal for families and groups of friends. Each stylish villa offers spacious, open plan interiors with three or four en-suite bedrooms. Each villa is situated for complete privacy and awe-inspiring views from their expansive outdoor decks.
Various packages can be booked with the villa accommodation from Full Board (3 gourmet meals at the nearby Kwena Lodge and 2 daily game drives) to Half Board (breakfast and dinner), to the B&B and Daily Game Drive package. The B&B package allows for family barbeques in your villa and time to explore the surrounding Garden Route.
We absolutely loved our stay in the luxury accommodation of a Kwena Lodge. A Kwena Lodge is a modern and luxurious twist on the traditional Khoi-San dwelling. Fourteen open-plan suites are nestled into the breathtaking natural surroundings with 180-degree views, sky lights for star gazing, fireplaces and deep baths in which to relax upon returning from an evening game drive.
Apparently the elephants of Gondwana also love the Kwena Lodges, especially the swimming pool. Usually in the late afternoon, around dinner time, elephants emerge from the undergrowth, and enjoy splashing their trunks and drinking from the peanut-shaped infinity pool in the middle of the Kwena Lodges.
As of writing, rates for the Kwena Lodges begin at R4175 ($232) per person sharing or R6260 ($347.77) per single from January 5 to September 30th. From January 10 to April 30th, the aforementioned rates change from R5985 ($332.50) sharing or R8980 ($498.88) per single. At the Bush Villas rates per season are the same as for the Kwena Lodges.
At the Fynbos Villas rates for the low season are R5010 ($278.33) sharing to R7185 ($399.16) sharing in high season.
At the Ulubisi House, the Privately Staffed, exclusive-use lodge with 3 en-suite bedrooms sleeping 6, or 4 adults and 4 children, rates for low season are R42000 ($2333.33) and during high season, R59,450 ($3302.77). Rates are subject change in March 2023.
For more specific details for each room type and options for Half Board, visit Gondwana’s web site:
Also available at Gondwana is the Junior Ranger program. This program is complimentary for all children staying with 2 paying adults on a full or half board package.
The program includes educational family game drives, interactive activities with a dedicated Junior Ranger Field Guide such as fishing and tracking, as well as a fun Ranger’s backpack and cool custom safari booklet to fill in throughout their stay.
During game drives and other activities with their ranger, kids will be taught how to identify mammals, birds, Fynbos species, and even stars.
Four of the Best Golf Courses in the Cape Province await your Visit
Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Resort
Pinnacle Point is about 20 minutes away from Gondwana Game Reserve. Superbly situated close to Mossel Bay on the edge of the magnificent coastline that signals the gateway to the Garden Route, Pinnacle Point epitomizes coastal luxury and exclusive living. This development, especially the golf course, will knock your socks off.
Sure there is Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Bandon Dunes, Kingsbarn, Torrey Pines and Cape Kidnappers, and they are marvelous, but Pinnacle Point is in a class of its own! It’s the new Garden of Eden of golf. Pinnacle Point was recently voted one of the top ten golf courses in the world – it’s that good!
Nestled in an unspoilt natural paradise, embraced by the warm Indian Ocean, Pinnacle Point is situated at the gateway to the Garden Route in South Africa. The resort is just a 3-hour drive from Cape Town and a 20-minute drive from George International Airport, which in turn is only a short 1-hour flight from Cape Town International Airport.
Pinnacle Point lies on a huge property of 400 hectares right at the sea and looks down on four kilometers of spectacular coastline and boasts dramatic cliff-side holes and over 1000 hectares of unspoiled beachfront of which 100 is a nature reserve. The championship course was designed by Darren Clarke and Peter Matcovitch, who himself called it the most dramatic course he had ever worked on. Several of the holes are situated right above the ocean.
The emerald green fairways and tees provide the perfect surface for making shots, and the bent grass greens will ensure a challenging and entertaining game. The views, especially from the ultra-modern clubhouse, are awe inspiring, with dramatic coastal views of the ocean from all areas of the course. Some of the holes are situated along the cliff side. In addition to this, the natural beauty of the indigenous flora and fauna complete this unique golfing experience. In fact, the resort is home to indigenous wildlife, bird life and 264 varieties of fynbos – a nature lover’s delight!
Leisure Rentals offer luxury accommodation available exclusively at the magnificent Pinnacle Point Estate. Accommodation options include the Golf Lodges, Golf Villas, Fynbos Villas and Luxury Penthouses which were all developed with opulence and comfortable living in mind.
The Lodges boast breath-taking Indian Ocean views; The Villas range from 1, 2 or 3 bedroom units ideal for both short and long-term stays. There are also 4 bedroom luxury Penthouses available which offer all the top of the range finishes a family or small group would require.
All units have access to beautifully landscaped communal gardens as well as swimming pools which provide the perfect relief after a round of golf, or from the spectacular African sun.
Rates start from $125.00 to $410.00 per night depending on time of year and size of unit.
Green fees: $27.50 (R495)
+27 44 606 5300
www.pinnaclepoint.co.za or http://www.pinnaclepointestate.co.za/
Ernie Els’ Oubaai Golf Course – Herold’s Bay, George, Garden Route, Western Cape.
Oubaai, an 18-hole Championship Golf Course, is just 8 kilometers from George and approximately 60 kilometers from Knysna. It is also near Herold’s Bay (and his beloved Bosvelt Saloon bar) which is one of his favorite holiday homes. His father Neels, lives two doors down. Ernie and his team have taken full advantage of the spectacular site they were given. Playing the course, your views and outlooks take in forest, sea, river and mountain – Spectacular!
The dramatic golf clubhouse overlooks the 16th, 17th and 18th greens and offers open air terraces and panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Outeniqua Mountains, natural forests and the Gwaing River Valley.
Not only is the course memorable and scenic, the course also fairly displays challenges and hazards whilst affording players the opportunity to use a full range of shots and plan strategically for individual holes. More importantly, it flows so well. Ernie did a magnificent job in his approach to golf course design which is primarily centered on flexibility and enhancement of the surrounding environment. Concepts are molded according to the landscape and not vice versa.
Simply stated, Oubaai is spectacular and of championship quality.
Green fees, depending on the time of year, range from $30.00 to $66.00 excluding cart ($30.00)
The stunning natural landscape is matched by the exceptional levels of service in one of the most beautiful luxury hotels South Africa has to offer. The 4 star hotel occupies an ideal position between the Indian Ocean and the majestic Outeniqua Mountains.
At the Oubaai Hotel, Golf & Spa you’re assured of some of the most comfortable, stylish and best-equipped contemporary hotel accommodation in the Garden Route.
Whether you choose a spacious suite with stunning views, a fully-featured Club room, or a Standard Room that offers a level of luxury that’s anything but standard, this Garden Route accommodation guarantees a relaxing and pleasurable stay in Oubaai.
Rates vary between $170.00 and $450.00 per night.
Oubaai Hotel Golf & Spa 011-27- 44-851-1234 www.oubaai.co.za
Hall of Fame’s Retief Goosen’s wine estate (www.thegoosewines.com) is near the town of George (Brenden Grace’s stomping grounds). The Goose Wine range is truly unique as it is handcrafted in high altitude vineyards on the northern slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains which is in the heart of the Garden Route, South Africa.
The Goose wine estate is situated in the Upper-Langkloof appellation, arguably the coldest wine growing region in South Africa. These extreme climatic conditions ensure unique grapes with a complexity of fruit that are handcrafted into world-class wines.
There are great swimming and surfing beaches that offer a variety of activities. Then, less than an hour away are the attractive coastal towns of Mossel Bay (think Louis Oosthuizen), Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, each offering unique cultural and natural highlights and a range of things to do.
Steenberg Hotel & Golf Club
Twenty minutes away from the bustling center of Cape Town is the amazing 5-Star Steenberg Hotel, award winning winery and golf course. The 30-bedroom hotel nestles in the tranquil Constantia Valley, against the slopes of the Steenberg Mountain. It is, without doubt, the ultimate Cape experience. This luxurious estate is designated as a National Monument and is the oldest wine farm in the Cape Peninsula. The scenery is breathtaking and its championship golf course is outstanding.
Steenberg offers the elegant and exclusive Bistro 1652 and the Terrace Restaurant, a producing wine cellar, and all the facilities of a top-class country hotel, yours to enjoy at whatever pace you choose.
This stunning boutique hotel is a haven of serenity with a choice of 30 elegant, air-conditioned rooms, the best being the contemporary design rooms, rather than those more chintz-clad—housed in the original manor house, barn and jonkershuis (house of the eldest son). Each en-suite room is tastefully furnished with exquisite antiques and all rooms overlook the vineyards, golf course or manicured gardens.
These beautifully renovated white-walled Cape Dutch buildings are grouped around a large manicured grass courtyard.
Amenities include an on-site hairstylist and beauty consultant and a gymnasium. Guests can shed their cares and surrender themselves to the upper level quality of personal service, unique to a small luxury hotel.
The Steenberg golf course is a wonderful golfing experience and is well known for its hybrid design by renowned South African golf course architect, Pete Matkovitch.
Opened in 1995, the course attracts golfers wanting a total golfing experience. Tradition is represented by aprons of bent grass around the greens that allow for the bump and run—a shot rarely seen in South Africa, where robust kikuyu grass usually takes this option off the table. The radical hybrid change instituted comes in the shape of sand- and water-protected island greens and waste areas (a la Pete Dye?) hugging entire fairways.
The club house has recently undergone an extensive renovation. Remember, irrespective of your score, you’ll want to try a glass of Steenberg’s stunning merlot at the nineteenth hole.
Yardage: 7,025. Par: 72.
Steenberg Estate, Tokai Road, Tokai, Cape Town. (With Gary Player at Steenberg in August 2022)
Greens Fees: $77 (hotel guest), $49 (with member). The golf course is open only to hotel guests and members. Caddies are $22.00!). Please call the golf shop to verify green fees, cart fees and caddie fees.
Rooms: $280–$380. Suites: $600–$700.
www.steenberghotel.com +27 21 713 222
On the way back to Cape Town, make sure you visit the Stony Point Penguin Colony at Betty’s Bay, the Haute Cabriere Winery (www.cabriere.co.za) in Franschoek, of which I am a part owner, and Ernie Els’s Winery in Stellenbosch.
Cape Town restaurants are marvelous and with the Rand to Dollar conversion, any restaurant is an unbelievable bargain. You will be hard pressed to spend $50 for 4 people with wine!
Amongst our favorites and highly recommended are the following restaurants in and around Cape Town:
Bukhara Indian restaurant – Amazingly consistent, excellent Indian food.
Magica Roma – Italian food at its best- Ask for Etzio.
Nelson’s Eye – Best steaks in South Africa since the 1960’s.
Delicious Fish – Hake and chips are awesome. Take out only.
Haute Cabriere Restaurant – elegant dining and outstanding views.
Kleinsky’s Deli – Sea Point – Great breakfasts, bagels and vibe.
Gambas Sea Point – Wonderful seafood especially the prawns.
Chef’s Warehouse at Tintswalo Atlantic – Gourmet dining and best views in the Cape.
Fish on the Rocks – Hout Bay – fresh fish and marvelous views
For fast food junkies, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and Subway are ubiquitous throughout South Africa. Try Nandos, Steers and Spurs for home grown fast food restaurants.
You will not only love and enjoy South Africa, but your dollars will take you a long way. Currently the Rand is fluctuating between 17 and 18 to 1 versus the dollar. Visitors with Euros and Dollars are receiving unbelievable bargains and fantastic vacations.
The extraordinary people, the scenic beauty, the scrumptious food, and agreeable weather in South Africa will make a lifetime of memories!
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. Visit www/facebook.com/PGTAA to see all the latest mental strategies, travel and equipment reviews. Currently he also works with between 10 to 12 PGA Tour players on the mental side of golf.
He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers” and his previous book, “How to Build Business Relationships through Golf”, updated for 2011, is still in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s best seller list. His latest book, “The Right Mind for Golf”, is now in its 12th reprint is available on Amazon and at the Torrey Pines golf course.
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