South Africa is a pretty amazing country to explore, especially if you’re a fan of action-packed adventure, delicious food and literally hundreds of elephants… I’ve gotta say, I was in my element!
After our last trip to South Africa, where we visited Kruger National park, catching up with the ‘big 5’, we knew we wanted to return!
If Kruger hadn’t spoiled us enough, the vibrant city of Cape Town sure did where we tried some some of the most delicious restaurants (See a local’s guide to the best Cape Town restaurants, here), discovered the breathtaking landscape of Cape Peninsular (see our post, here) and even spotted a few penguins sunbathing on their own little beach (you can see how to see them in our post, here) – yup, they’re as cute as you can imagine!
Fortunately, we had the most amazing opportunity to head to South Africa’s Eastern Cape with in one action-packed trip for a #RollingInTheRands challenge to see how far £400 could get you in South Africa.
We will have the full details on this in a post coming up shortly but in the interim, this (really short) video we just uploaded to our YouTube channel (which we plan on updating more often) has clues on how far your money can take you in South Africa.
I wanted to share our action packed itinerary so you can create your very own, mind-blowing, trip to this pretty epic area of South Africa – it truly is unique! Take a look at the very best experiences, food and amazing places to stop at on your week long holiday!
Evening flight to South Africa
21:00 Depart from your home country: We departed London on our direct flight, night flight, to Johannesburg with South African Airlines where we connected onto a short domestic flight to the Eastern Cape city of Port Elizabeth. Lots of South African wine wasted tasted, plenty of zzzzzz’s were gained and lots of excitement brewed – which all helped pretty darn well with the jet-lag. The adventure had begun!
Day 1: Arrival Into South Africa
1500: Land into Port Elizabeth Airport: One of the easiest ways to get around South Africa’s Eastern Cape is by Car. Pick up a car directly from the airport and grab yourself a sat-nav. The roads are easy to navigate and well maintained.
1730: Arrival at your hotel: After a 2.5 hour drive into Tsitsikamma National Park, you’ll arrive at your quaint accommodation for the night. Stay at the Tsisikamma Lodge and discover its old-town feel that’s set within a traditional village. It really is as quaint as it looks.
2000: Dinner at Marilynn’s Diner: Just a few minutes walk from your hotel is the 1970’s inspired Marilynn’s Diner. Fixed up with old convertibles, retro skates and duke boxes that would make any Grease fan happy, this restaurant is a perfect throwback to times gone by.
Nestle in for the evening, order some gigantic milkshakes, ribs and enjoy a little comfort food after your long-haul flight – you deserve it! 🙂
Day 2: The Eastern Cape Adventure Begins
0900: Grab a South African breakfast: Wake up, fresh eyed and raring to go! Head straight across to the dinning house at Tsitsikamma Lodge, where you’ll eat your weight with a hearty South African breakfast and freshly brewed coffee that’ll keep you perky until lunch.
1030: Zip line over waterfalls: Once breakfast has settled, hot-foot it straight into your car and drive approximately 15 minutes to your first port-of-call, zip lining! Storms River Adventure Zip Line is an adrenaline fuelled flying experience through the valleys, waterfalls and mountains of Tsitsikamma National Park. Once you’re sufficiently buzzing, take a breather and head straight for lunch!
1330: Dine in a working vineyard: Head west in your car for around 1 hour, until you reach the lunch points of all lunch points… Bramon’s Vineyard and Restaurant. This beautiful restaurant is actually situated within the vineyard itself. Grab yourself a seat outside and enjoy some of their delicious meals alongside their recommended wines that are picked from the very vines right in front of you!
1530: Visit An Elephant Sanctuary: After eating in the vineyards, you’ll want to head straight into your car to catch the very last trek of the day at the Elephant Sanctuary, which is only 10 minutes from the Vineyard itself.
The elephants within this sanctuary were saved from being killed in Botswana and given a reprise on life. Their new found home offers education to guests visiting and limited interaction with the elephants themselves – on the last tour of the day, you might be lucky enough to guide the elephant back to it’s sleeping grounds for the night… though they pretty much guide you there! 🙂
1730: Watch the sunset at the stunning Plettenberg Bay: Plettenberg Bay is one beautiful area you’ve got to include on your days adventure! Drive around 20 minutes west from the Elephant Sanctuary. Rock up at the public car park and zip your way across to the beach. The white sandy beach, dramatic landscape and crashing waves all leaves for a lovely place to sit back and chill before the sun finally sets.
2000: Grab a Braai: Arrive back to the Tsisikamma Lodge , where you’ll be greeted by a South African delight… a Braai! Consisting of lots of juicy chicken, beef , vegetables all smothered and rubbed in some typical spices from the region!
Day 3: Adrenaline Day!
0900: Check out of the Tsisikamma Lodge and grab a light (you’ll see why, next) South African breakfast and jump into your car.
1100: Take the plunge at the world’s highest Bungee Jump: Yup, your legs will turn to jelly, you probably will scream – but that’s all part of the fun… so I keep telling myself! 😉 Head over to Africa’s highest bridge and book a slot (in advance) at Face Adrenalin to free fall the majority of the way down Bloukrans River valley!
It’s best to book your tickets online before going (here) if you want to be guaranteed a slot for the day. Get in the mindset, eat light and try not to get as scared as Yaya was! 😉
1300: Eat up: On your drive east, grab a bite to eat at one of the many local restaurants you’ll see on the main highway and small towns that line the way. If you’ve worked up an appetite after your bungee jump, you can even grab yourself a quick snack there.
1430: Discover the forests of South Africa and 1,000 year old trees: Continuing your drive west, you’ll come across Big Tree in Tsitsikamma National Park where you’ll get to come up close and personal with one of the oldest trees on the planet. This peaceful spot is a great relaxer, especially after you’ve just thrown yourself off the Africa’s highest bridge!
1600: Continue your drive east to Port Elizabeth: After you’ve treed yourself out, hop back into the car and head east for 2.5 hours until you reach the city of Port Elizabeth. This is the town you’ll come to call home for the remainder of your adventure.
1830: Arrival at Singa Lodge Hotel: After your epic drive, you’ll be greeted by one of the city’s plushest and intimate hotels, the Singa Lodge. Based in the Summer Strand area of the city, you’ll have the promenade on your doorstep, alongside a whole host of luxury amenities to make you feel right at home!
1900: Take the night off: After a long drive and action packed day, you’ll no doubt be exhausted. Head to the hotel’s excellent restaurant that is almost like a private dining experience. With only 5 tables or so, the restaurant is about as intimate as you can get!
Day 4: Sand Boarding and Safari’s
0900: Grab some breakfast and hit the road!
1000: Sand Board at Sundays River: Head out of the city for about 40 minutes, where you’ll come across Sundays River Adventures, here you’ll not only learn how to sand board, you’ll actually burn off all those calories you ate the night before! 😉
Before heading here, do check the weather as wet/inclement weather actually makes the sand really ‘sticky’ and hard to sand board down! You really will work up a sweat and earn you next glass of delicious South African wine! Take a look at more on Sand-boarding in South Africa here.
1300: Grab a bite to eat: After working up a monster appetite whilst sand boarding. There’s many places to choose from, including the pretty impressive Sera Maior, though, this will add on an additional 40 minutes driving for the day so take into account your time-keeping.
1500: Search for the ‘big 5’ in Addo National Park: One of the larger National Parks in South Africa, Addo National Park is the best place to discover the truly majestic animals that call this country home. As you’ve rented a car, head out on a self drive tour which takes around 3 hours. With this, you’ll be able to stop and start at your own pace, which is even more exciting when you come across a herd of randy elephants! See more on a self-drive tour of Addo National Park, here.
2000: Eat like (and with) locals: After a long day of sand-boarding and safari’s you’ll no doubt be ravished! Head straight back to Port Elizabeth where you’ll stop at Cubata, a grill house that has almost legendary status with local’s! This informal dining experience will leave you so satisfied that you’ll want to return again and again.
Sit with locals, have a good old natter and order some of their famous shrimps and chicken. A truly wholesome experience! You can see more on visiting Cubata, here.
Day 5: Visit A Township, Port Elizabeth and Safari
0900: Wake up, raring to go – especially after your breakfast that’s included at the Singa Lodge.
1030: Visit Red Location: One of South Africa’s oldest townships, Red Location is a place to learn more about the struggles, life and even support the local people that still call these townships home. Head here with an informative guide that gives back to the local opportunity, this way you know your money isn’t just leaving the township as quickly as it got there!
There are quite a few stops that you should ask your tour guide to make, including Red Location Cafe (which is run as a hostel/cafe by some of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met) and some of the local craftsmen and artists that create some of the cities most impressive art that support local businesses within Red Location itself.
You can see more on visiting a township here.
1330: Eat up: Grab a swift bite to eat at one of the local restaurants in Port Elizabeth – try something close to the beach, possibly Ginger Restaurant that has rave reviews!
1500: Take a guided tour of Addo National Park: Yep, you did this drive yesterday but I assure you that going twice will significantly increase your chances of seeing most of the animals. As an added value, we decided to book a local guide that was authorised by Addo National Park – not only did he teach us ways of each of the animals, he was able to scout and find almost every one of the ‘big 5’.
1900: Grab some dinner: Head over to the Muse Restaurant and eat mountains of delicious grub that your tastebuds (and tummy) will thank you for.
Day 6: Discover Port Elizabeth
0900: Grab some breakfast
1130: Discover Port Elizabeth: After a long breakfast, head out on a tour of Port Elizabeth city centre. Here you’ll discover the history, beautiful culture and stunning buildings that make up the town centre. Not only that, you can grab a bite to eat in the hundreds of restaurants and can even set your time to watch the lowering of the flag that happens each day! See more on visiting Port Elizabeth, here.
1900: Dinner Time: After a day exploring Port Elizabeth, head over to Sera Maior and discover their tapas menu that is beyond dreamy!
2100: Grab a tipple of South African wine: Head back to the Singa Lodge that operates an honesty bar with a mind-boggling array of South African wines. Choose your wine(s), heck, have a tasting session and write down all that you’ve drank to be added to your bill. All wines are reasonably priced and totally delicious!
Day 7: Spa Time and Goodbye
0900: Grab your final breakfast of the trip and pack your bags ready to leave 🙁
1100: Spa time: Head over to a local spa that the Singa Lodge recommend. Grab yourself a slot and relax yourself silly with a deep tissue massage and pool time before your long-haul flight home.
1400: Head to the airport and wave say your farewells! Here’s to an epic South African holiday!