The Best of South Africa: An Insider's Guide Part 1

ZOOMER Magazine by: Vivian Vassos

July 12, 2016

The view of Table Mountain, from One&Only Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa is one of the best destinations to consider scratching off your Bucket List for less considering our, well, lesser loonie, right now. According to travel experts, you’ll get more for your Canadian buck.

But, before the safari, experience Cape Town and Johannesburg. Get to know the culture, the people and the food, through the eyes of locals. Everyone speaks English, but there is also Afrikaans, Zulu, Swazi and more of the 11 official languages spoken here. We asked Mary Jean Tully and Judi Cohen, the experts at the Canadian based Tully Luxury Travel and its African Dreams and Private Travel Design divisions to give us the insider’s guide to South Africa.

Tully is also passionate about Africa for personal reasons: she considers herself a conservationist and is involved in the protection of wildlife, particularly where poaching continues to threaten Elephants, Rhinos and Big Cats.

Vivian Vassos: As an Africa specialist, what do you think are the three most compelling reasons to travel to Africa, in general, now? 

Mary Jean Tully: 

  1. Supporting Tourism – without tourism, the communities and wildlife suffer greatly.
  2. Safaris – experiencing a safari enriches the soul and changes one’s life. Once you go on safari, your life is forever changed. 
  3. Family experiences – One of the best things for a family to do all together is to visit Africa and go on a safari. It gives the whole family an opportunity to experience wildlife and beauty and to learn together.

There are so many wonderful experiences to engage in gorilla trekking in Rwanda, enjoying the people, churches and culture in Ethiopia, giraffe and elephant experiences, and safaris in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania.

VV: Is there a favourite restaurant, hotel, hotspot or gallery that you often recommend in Cape Town?

Tully: While it is always hard to choose favourites, in Cape Town the One&Only (above) is an excellent choice for a waterfront stay and Ellerman House is a wonderful choice for a hotel that feels like a private home.

Also, Lola’s Café and The Company’s Garden are excellent choices. We also like Lionel Smit’s art work and the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town for local artists.

VV: When and how far out is the best timing to book South Africa? 

Judi Cohen: Since most of the camps we work with are quite small, they fill up very quickly and are often booked up 12 months in advance. It’s never too early to start planning a trip!

The best time to go on safari is during the dry season because water is scarce and you will see many animals around existing water holes.

With the grass being lower you will also have better visibility. It is best to avoid the rainy season from October to April generally.

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