Both South Africa and also Victoria Falls have always been on my must-visit list, so when I had the chance to visit with work, I jumped at it!
Since South Africa is in the same time zone as the UK, you won’t suffer from any jet lag when you travel, so it’s easy to hit the ground running. Even if you have a short amount of time, from a few days to a couple of weeks, you’ll find it easy to pack lots into one trip here.
Spring and autumn are the best time for a safari, but it’s is a year-round destination. You’ll find accommodation across the board and a host of activities which will suit families, honeymooners or those wanting a two-week tailor-made holiday to South Africa.
I stayed at the Royal Livingstone Hotel which is right beside Victoria Falls. If you stay here, you’ll be picked up from the airport and driven to a dock to board a speedboat that will take you downriver to the hotel. As you whizz down the river, you’ll see hippos in the water before encountering a curtain of mist and hearing a rumble of water as you arrive at the hotel.
The Royal Livingstone is an exquisite hotel in beautiful surroundings; monkeys, giraffes and zebras wander around the gardens which remind you that you're in Africa. It also has a private entrance to the falls giving you incredible access. Don’t miss cocktails over the Zambezi River at sunset down by the dock - a must for anyone staying here!
We opted for a sunset dinner onboard the Royal Livingstone Express on the classic Mulabezi line after taking a small safari in the afternoon. The train transports you back to another world with a 5-star menu and drinks set n beautiful surroundings. I would highly recommend this as part of your trip. We can book this for you when you stay at the Royal Livingstone or the 3* Zambezi Sun, its sister property.
I visited the falls from the Zambian side, where we were given a tour of the falls before heading to the famous ‘Devils Swimming Pool’ at the edge of the falls for a truly terrifying view down below. If you’re afraid of heights (like me), you might want to head to the spa for a relaxing massage on the banks of the Zambezi instead!
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, there’s plenty here to earn you bragging rights, including bungee jumping, white water rafting on the Zambezi and abseiling or zip-lining across the Batoka Gorge. But if you’re after something more laid-back, why not opt for a mini safari on elephant back? There’s also fly fishing, helicopter flights and maybe even a walk with a lion being rehabilitated back into the wild.
After you’ve spent a few nights in Livingstone and see Victoria Falls in all its glory, you can take a 2-hour flight back to Johannesburg for some safari action.
We headed to Sun City and Pilanesberg National Park; a two-hour drive from Johannesburg and by far the nearest and most accessible place to do a safari. If you have more time, I would recommend heading to the Garden Route safaris or Kruger National Park, but for those short, on time this is a great option.
Sun City is a large resort complex with various levels and styles of accommodation. The 5* property where I stayed is The Palace of the Lost City, which is fantastic. Staying here gives you full use of the resort facilities including safari/animal-based activities, golf course, Water Park, spa, zip-lining and Segway hire to keep you entertained.
My two highlights while staying at Sun City were the safari we did and the elephant sanctuary we visited. In the space of a day, I managed to spot all of Africa’s ‘Big Five’ animals – my favourite being a family of hippos with a tiny baby and then elephant feeding at the sanctuary (amazing but I was terrified!). With just a few days to spend, staying here was such good value for money, and we spent our time well.
A trip like this links in really well with a broader itinerary in South Africa, perhaps a self-drive along the Garden Route. If you’d like to add either of these into your trip, we can tailor-make a holiday exactly to suit you. For more ideas and to book, call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.