One of the world’s most diverse destinations, South Africa has it all. Exciting Big Five safaris, impressive coastal landscapes and the cosmopolitan cool of Cape Town entice many visitors to the country. But for us, one of the real draws of this wonderful country is the people. Warm, welcoming and brilliantly humoured, they really will make your trip. Here, our team recount some of their fondest interactions with the friendly local people of South Africa.
“The South African people are always so forthcoming, but someone that really sticks in my memory is a brilliant guide I had in the Timbavati (bordering the Kruger) at Motswari. He spent a long time looking for wild dogs for us as they were high on our list of animals to see. By the time we found them, it was time for us to be heading back to camp. It would have been quite easy for him to have rushed us back in time for dinner, but instead he radioed camp and told them we were staying out at the sighting. They delayed the food for us, allowing us to witness an amazing sighting of the dogs chasing a leopard up a tree and feeding off the leopard’s kill.” Matt Gammon, Africa Specialist
“For me, it was the amazing hotel staff at Twelve Apostles in Cape Town that left one of the most lasting impressions on me. They get to know a guest’s needs very quickly and are so accommodating. I was staying there when I was in South Africa for work, and whenever I was out working late I would still come home to happy smiley faces, a cocktail ready to hand over and a lively greeting of “Good evening Harri, how was your day?”. It’s the staff that make a stay at this hotel truly unique and stand-out. They even have ‘sports buddies’ who will escort you on a run, hike or leisurely stroll in the hills behind the hotel (usually with a special breakfast at the end).” Harri Whitmarsh, Africa Destination Manager
“I definitely find with South Africa it’s the friendliness and personal touches from the people that make it stand out as a destination. I was recently at Grootbos Lodge near Hermanus and when the guide heard I was interested in food, he took me down to the gardens and smallholding they have and showed me around – talking about everything they do onsite from making their own goat’s milk and growing veg to beehives where they make their own honey. It may not sound too interesting to some, but for me it was my favourite part of my stay and a lasting memory of my trip.” Jo Hudson Africa Specialist
“South Africans love children and will go out of their way to make your trip as smooth and memorable as possible if you’re travelling as a family. We went out when our daughter was six months old and we were constantly offered mini babysitting support by the people we met. We were often helped through a nice meal by guests at neighbouring tables, who would offer to give her a cuddle while we ate and they waited for their food. It’s a great destination for a family holiday whether your kids are very young or a little older!” Olie Summers, Africa Sales & Service Manager
“I once had an evening alone in Franschhoek in the Winelands and the concierge of Le Quartier Francais advised me to go and check out Tuk Tuk, the microbrewery next door. I walked in, looked at the menu and got chatting to the chap behind the bar, who also happened to be their head brewer. I mentioned that I had been a brewer as well and his eyes lit up, immediately saying I had to try this, that and the other. We were locked in conversation for about three hours, him giving me off-menu brews that he’d been working on and bringing me food to try. When they were closing, he said I didn’t have to pay for any of it.” Sebastian Sattin, Africa Specialist