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South Africa Is the Only Place in the World to Indulge in Both Incredible Local Wine and Stunning Safaris

South Africa Wine Wildlife
by Eben Diskin Jul 31, 2023

South Africa is a rare blend of rugged and refined. While it’s certainly home to some of the continent’s most photo-worthy natural beauty and wildlife, it also offers visitors a wine experience that rivals that of Europe. Indeed, safari-seekers will feel right at home in South Africa, with opportunities to see the famous “Big Five” – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and African buffalos – as well as giraffes, hippos, and zebras. But you could also easily spend your entire trip to South Africa indulging in the local wine in the Franschhoek region, a valley with French flair that’s dotted with vineyards and wineries.

See the Big Five in South Africa’s national parks

South Africa upholds the continent’s reputation as one of the best places in the world for wildlife viewing. Kruger National Park, in the northeastern part of the country, stands out as one of the most iconic destinations for seeing wildlife. Home to the Big Five and loads of incredible safari accommodations, Kruger gives visitors the chance to glimpse these animals in their natural habitat. Apart from the Big Five, there’s a supporting cast of some 136 other mammals and over 500 bird species.

Kruger isn’t the only South Africa national park to add to a travel itinerary. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a vast wildlife preserve in the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana and South Africa, is another must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts. This park is particularly known for its predator population, including cheetahs, leopards, and black-maned Kalahari lions. Its red dunes and sparse vegetation also make it a visually stunning safari location. For those particularly interested in elephant sightings, Addo Elephant National Park is the place to be. As the name suggests, the park was initially created to protect the few remaining elephants in the area. Today, it’s home to more than 600 elephants, as well as lions, buffalos, black rhinos, and a variety of antelope species.

For a different kind of wildlife experience, check out Golden Gate Highlands National Park. While it can’t lay claim to the Big Five, it makes up for it with a spectacular array of bird species and smaller mammals. It’s also renowned for its landscape of towering sandstone cliffs, rolling grasslands, and hidden caves with filled with ancient rock paintings.

Explore South Africa’s “French Corner” wine country

@foodwtf Did you know #SouthAfrica has an enchanting wine region called #StellenBosch ? This region has over 200 wineries offering wine tastings for travelers🍷 🎥 @Richard Lam #LiveAgain #VisitSouthAfrica @Visit South Africa ♬ original sound – Food Worth Traveling For

France gets a lot of attention for its various wine regions, but South Africa has its own wine country that rivals its French cousin. Indeed, Franschhoek literally means “French corner,” but the name actually does the region a bit of a disservice. Franschhoek isn’t merely a copy of French wine country – it has a character and flavor all its own.

Located in the southeast corner of Paarl in the Western Cape, the Franschhoek Valley is a broad vineyard-lined valley that has been producing wine since the 17th Century. This small valley is home to some of South Africa’s most famous wine estates, with 45 wineries each offering different tasting experiences. Some notable wineries include Boschendal, La Motte Wine Estate, Lynx Wine, and Grand Provence Estate. These estates not only offer wine tasting opportunities but also provide stunning views of the surrounding valley.

If you’re visiting the region, you can’t miss out on the Franschhoek Wine Tram. A popular way to explore the region’s best wineries, this double-decker tram allows visitors to sample famous South African wines while enjoying the scenic beauty of the area. The various tram lines stop at multiple wine estates that offer complimentary tastings, and you can hop on and off as you please. Make sure to check out the Mont Rochelle Wine Estate (owned by Richard Branson),the Rickety Bridge Winery (accessible from the tram via a tractor-taxi), and GlenWood Vineyards for its gourmet food options.

A hotel and safari all in one

@epic.stays Check out this luxurious safari stay at 📍Shamwari Private Game Reserve in #SouthAfrica 🎥 @Richard Lam #LiveAgain #VisitSouthAfrica #TravelTiktok @Visit South Africa ♬ original sound – epic.stays

Having the best South Africa experience means choosing the right place to stay. Especially when it comes to seeing wildlife and surrounding yourself with nature, it doesn’t get much better than the Shamwari Private Game Reserve, located less than an hour from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. Spanning about 100 square miles, the reserve is one of the most geographically diverse in all South Africa, offering a mix of savannah, thicket, and woodland, each with its own special ecosystem and wildlife. Yes, that means the Big Five, as well as a variety of other animals.

@epic.stays Luxurious safari stay located on the #EasternCape in #SouthAfrica 🇿🇦📍Shamwari Private Game Reserve 🎥 @Richard Lam #LiveAgain #VisitSouthAfrica #TravelTikTok ♬ take a moment to breathe. – normal the kid

Not just a game reserve and safari destination, Shamwari is also a five-star luxury hotel, with several lodges on the property with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Lodges range from opulent manor houses to sprawling upscale glampsites. There are also special experiences to take advantage of, like the Explorer Camp – a guided walking safari of the surrounding land, which allows you to get up close and personal with nature and the wildlife. In addition to a walking tour, you can go birding, take a game drive with all the luxurious amenities you could hope for, or sign up for the Shamwari Conservation experience, a volunteer program that gives you hands-on experience with nature conservation.

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