Our Product Director is currently on another amazing tour of South Africa on a fact finding mission and also to sample the accommodation we carefully select for our clients.
We'll keep you up to date here every few days on how he's getting on and show you a few pics from his trip so stay tuned
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See what he experiences below...
Start to plan a trip like this >>> South Africa Blog - by Malcolm Peasnall - May 2013
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What another trip to South Africa!
I am about to set out on another trip to South Africa as part of updating our product offering for the next 12 months. With South Africa being such good value for Brits travelling we have seen a very large increase in clients travelling over the last 12 months. With the exchange rate even more in our favour we would expect that trend to continue. To ensure that we can offer the very best rates we have contact bought enough South African Rand forward to meet our anticipated needs over the next 12 months. This means that we can quote you firm prices forward for the next 12 months and, coupled with our South African airlines deal, means that we can also guarantee the airfare portion as well with the exception of any UK tax changes.
So why am I going?
Well each year from all over Southern Africa over 2000 hotel and safari suppliers meet tour operators from around the world for four days in Durban at Indaba . We have a series of business meetings to allow us to source new product and maintain relationships with existing suppliers. Might sound like a jolly, but it is actually really hard work. This year both my wife and myself are going so that we can meet up with as many as possible of our suppliers and seek out great deals to pass on to clients.
The trip outline
We are flying down on South African Airways seven days before Indaba so we can actually visit properties in the Drakensberg Mountains and the Zulu battlefields that we already use or are considering using. Subject to suitable Wi-Fi access we will be updating the blog on a regular basis whilst away with our thoughts and the results of these inspections. Even properties that are already getting good reviews will be inspected, so we can ensure that as far as possible we provide the very best advice and tailor properties to individuals.
Sunday night at Ardmore - Sunday 5th May 2013
It is a short drive to Ardmore from Champagne Castle. You turn from a hard road onto a gravel road for about 10 kms. The road has been an issue in the past when wet but it is in the slow process (all road building in South Africa is slow!) of being upgraded.
I know I come from a farm background, but I was quite comfortable with the drive and can see that the upgrades being worked on will help on a couple of the steeper slopes when wet.
We were given a 2 bedroom unit as all the single rooms were full. These are the older units and comprise of two bedrooms with their own bathrooms and a lounge complete with log fire separating the bedrooms. They have a patio area with chairs and we were able to catch the last hour of the day’s sunshine (high today of 23C!). There is a lounge and a pub with an honesty bar and a big screen with access to major sport in the UK and SA. Dinner is served at this time of year (it is early winter) with a roaring log fire to warm us up. We were joined for dinner by Paul Ross who owns the property with his English wife Sue. This is farmhouse food! Soup and salad served at your table with fresh hot bread. You then went to the buffet, which on that night included honey roasted gammon, chicken in cream sauce with mushrooms and a vegetable bake. There was a choice of potatoes and rice plus 4 other vegetables. We were having a long involved discussion with Paul so we were the last to go up, but there was plenty left. Afterwards 3 deserts on offer including a lemon pudding made from lemons that grow less than 10 feet from the kitchen. You could also take as well a selection from a nice cheeseboard. Included in the rate is a half carafe of very pleasant white or red wine per person. Afterwards tea and coffee in the lounge. We went back to our rooms, lit the fire, as it was now getting quite chilly, and read for a while.Breakfast was good the following morning with a really novel way of choosing your cooked breakfast. The menu has the choices printed on an encapsulated form. You then used a marker pen to indicate your choices. Great sausage!
Ardmore does what it says, offers really good value for money, in the right place to explore. If you are looking for 5 star rooms, service and food then we have other options. However we all have to balance budgets and this certainly helps.
Tuesday Springbok Lodge - Tuesday 7th May 2013
We woke up on Tuesday morning to a car covered in frost and the ground white over! However as the sun rose above the mountains the temperature really rose rapidly too. The night before Paul had told us that even in Winter on 9 out of 10 days they had bright sunshine with day time highs in the 16-24C range, but they do get quite sharp frosts. This is actually great touring weather and so today turned out.
We went to the town of Winterton, which is the hub of the central berg area, filled up with fuel (remember in SA you have to pay in cash) so also had a visit to an ATM. We wanted to visit the site of the Spion Kop battle and also the memorial. This is en-route to Springbok Lodge, so fitted in fine. What a climb in the car and you have to have good clutch control to get up! This a battle that the British lost quite heavily, but taught us much. The view from the spot is stunning, but I doubt the troops had any time to take it in. However as a tourist you should make the time. If you follow Liverpool F.C. then it is a must as the Kop at Liverpool's ground is so named in memory of the hundreds of soldiers from the South Lancaster and Lancashire Regiments that lost their lives. Both these Regiments recruited heavily from the Liverpool area so the loss was very heartfelt.
We were really spoilt or lucky in that we were the only two guests
in house that night. Even on a busy day the maximum is 16. We were guided
by head ranger Nichole and a new to the reserve ranger Greg who was
learning the road system on this reserve having guided on other reserves
before. The reserve is quite large and has a lot of game, including
all the Big 5, however like many other places you know that Leopard
are there, but finding them is another issue. The highlight was the
great variety of game to be seen. They have a very strong Eland population,
some Blesok which are two animals not seen on many other reserves. We
returned to the lodge to find the bath run with rosé petals dotted
around. We had an excellent dinner in front of an open fire together
with an interesting discussion with our rangers.
When we left the battlefields it was 29 C as we travelled we hit a
cold front coming in from the sea and it was 14 C when we arrived. It
is autumn here and the early settlers many from the UK planted many
trees including Oak trees. The autumn colour was really very pleasing
A little rest as we had a refreshing Italian version of a sorbet made
with orange. The main course was a piece of twice cooked beef in a port
sauce, served with Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and asparagus. To finish
with a chocolate tart served with orange ice cream and blueberry sauce.
I am not a great fan of chocolate tart it is often to dense for me but
this was fantastic. The combination with the other ingredients made
this a spectacular dish.
Please feel free to ring me on my direct line 01509 618805 if you need
any further information on any aspect of this trip or any other you
might be planning. We are all here to ensure that you get the very best
from your trip and that it meets and exceeds your expectations.
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