November to February
Adventure, Beaches, Nature & Landscape, Wildlife & Safari
Luxury hotels and lodges in South Africa and Premium resorts in Seychelles
Dive into the melting pot of Cape Town with a treasure hunt along its historic streets lined by modish architecture. Tempted by the silhouette of the Table Mountain looming against the glistening Atlantic Ocean, ride the cableway to Table Mountain peak for a picnic with a view to die for. Bliss out with a champagne cruise on a charted yacht as the peninsula melts with the warm tones of a golden sunset. Keep the celebratory mode on with a gourmet dinner from the Michelin starred chef Nobu, at the One&Only, at Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
Head to the Atlantic seaside suburbs of Clifton and Camps Bay to stare at pristine sand beaches along clear blue seas. Then prepare for endless eye-candy along the Chapman’s Peak Drive that winds along coastal mountains kissed by shimmering Atlantic blues. At the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, hike a coastline trail through flowering shrub-lands, catching glimpses of rare birds and baboons. Fantasy meets reality at the south-westernmost point in Africa, where the Cape Point lighthouse paints a pretty picture. After lunch, meet hundreds of playful African penguins at Boulders Beach. On the way back, fall in love with exotic blooms at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Immerse in the eternal romance of the Cape Winelands, tour wine estates with expert guides, and indulge in tastings and pairings against the backdrop of towering mountain ranges. The journey takes you to the colonial city of Stellenbosch and the gourmet capital of South Africa, Franschhoek. Surrender to the charm of oak-shaded streets and Cape Dutch architecture. Get hooked on artisanal cheeses, fresh olives and locally roasted coffee. Savour a slice of countryside by horse-riding around Boschendal, one of the oldest wine estates in the country. Back in Cape Town, close the day with a history lesson at the District Six Museum.
Allow extravagance to sweep you away in a helicopter to Robben Island across Table Bay, for a fascinating tour of the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years. Then switch to lively mode at the flamboyant and colourful Bo-Kaap neighbourhood. Push the limits of creativity with a workshop at the Perfume Museum, where you will concoct a potion of concentrated perfume that is utterly ‘you’. Spoil yourself silly with a private demonstration on how a diamond is graded, cut, polished and set, before shopping for a sparkling rock. Cap it up with a night of hotspot clubbing at Bree Street. Hit the Gold restaurant for an opulent 14-course Cape Malay and African ‘taste safari’.
Brace for a visual spectacle of dense coastal forests, deep river gorges, fresh water lakes, quaint towns and sprawling beaches along the Garden Route in your own luxury convertible car. At Muizenberg Beach, pose beside the colourful Victorian bathing boxes. Next up, Hermanus makes a great vantage point to spot whales along the elevated rocky coastline. Lose yourself to tranquility with a hike among the scented fynbos vegetation of Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Be an adventure junkie with a heart-stopping shark cage diving expedition in Gansbaai, the great white shark capital of the world. Will you be haunted by those jagged teeth during your overnight stay at Agulhas?
Seek heavenly moments at the town of Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the mighty Indian and Atlantic Oceans collide. Later, soothe your senses at the 'Map of Africa’, an extraordinary viewpoint of a valley shaped like Africa at Wilderness Heights. Continue along the Seven Passes Road to reach Knysna, known as South Africa’s ‘Garden of Eden’. Expect sensational coastal views with temptation to stop every turn along with the opportunity to experiment with the local delicacy i.e., the rare oysters at the bustling waterfront.
Explore the native beat of Knysna, a jewel of a town, nestled by a glistening lagoon and rich forests. Head to Knysna Heads, a pair of rocky sandstone cliffs, where the lagoon slips into the lap of Indian Ocean. Set the momentum with an hour of Standup Paddle boarding, then pace it up with mountain biking along the Garden Route Trail Park that runs through ancient forests, gurgling streams and shady glades. Walk and interact with a herd of African elephants in their natural habitat at the Knysna Elephant Park. Say yes to an evening of creative cocktails, craft beers and cognacs at the Project Bar.
With lungful of crisp morning air and fresh ocean scents as fuel, travel along the coast to Plettenberg Bay, known for vast white stretches of beach and pods of leaping dolphins. Venture to the Tsitsikamma National Park to walk the famous Otter Trail. Notch it up by canoeing in the majestic Storms River, surrounded by jagged cliffs, then float on a lilo, enveloped by the sounds of silence. Be stunned by the sheer scale of Storms River Suspension Bridge, which spans 77 meters over the river. Finally, dare to jump-off the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge at Bloukrans.
Grapple with peaking excitement all the way from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park via the magnificent Panorama Route, one of the continent’s most picturesque drives. After a 5-hour drive, check into the comfort of your uber-lux all-inclusive resort accommodation in Kruger National Park for some well-deserved rest and recuperation. Immerse in your private pool and conclude a magical day with some local fare and traditional South African braai with songs of the wild for company.
Settle into your open safari vehicle for a private game drive, which promises an up-close experience with ‘The Big Five’ and an extraordinary array of exciting wildlife in the savanna wilderness. Witness the cycle of life at the 19000 sq. km. large Kruger National Park. Later, be whisked away into the crisp air of the African sky in a hot air balloon for a bird’s eye view of the bush. Watch the sky put on a vibrant show of colour as you float against one of the most exquisite sunsets of your life. Dream of flaming reds and exotic purples as you slip deep into slumber.
Start early to gawp at the nature’s drama at Blyde River Canyon and Bourke's Luck Potholes, before staring in wide-eyed wonder at the forest-covered valley from the God's Window viewpoint. Back in the plush suites with glass-fronted windows offering private views of the bush, settle into a decadent deep bath. There’s a private bush banquet framed by lantern light under the twinkling Milky Way being laid out for you. Close the fabulous Kruger experience with a guided bush walk to spot rare species at night.
Granite peaks and dense cloud forests greet you in Mahe, the largest island of the Seychelles. Take time to decompress in your idyllic hideaway, if you can resist the temptation of lounging on the sweeping white beaches with customized cocktails and azure waters lapping at your feet. Unwind at the spa with a spate of world-class wellness therapies and feel every nerve pulsate with life. At nightfall, set your pulse racing for a private stargazing experience and a beach dinner of Creole specialties surrounded by the sounds of the Indian Ocean. What’s not to love?
Explore the untouched north coast of Mahe Island with a guided trek through the Morne Seychelles National Park. Savour the divine delights of treading the palm fringed path meandering across the rocky coast, dotted with giant granite boulders and shrouded in lush tropical forest. A mandatory halt at the Mission Lodge Lookout affords flawless views over the hills to the lace-edge turquoise ocean below. Enjoy the tranquility of the Anse Major bay before sailing back to the capital city of Victoria to experience the bustling arts and crafts markets.
Depart on a private cruise, celeb-style to the deserted haven of Therese Island. Sunbathe, swim and snorkel in refreshing waters while your gourmet chef whips up an authentic, flavourful Creole barbecue with fresh fish and meat. Zone out in your plush villa or chill in your private pool resort, before surrendering to languor with a spa treatment fit for royalty. Dewy-fresh and dressed to kill, preen to your heart’s content with a private photo-shoot session at the beach and resort. What better way to make memories on this vacation?
Soak up the scenic vistas of the picturesque bays along the Southern coast of Mahe en route to a historic herb and spice garden. Be a culture vulture for a day, see Creole houses, meet local artisans and stock up on craft souvenirs. Look forward to a rum-tasting tour at the Takamaka rum distillery on a historic plantation estate and learn about the production process from cane crushing and fermentation to distillation and ageing. Change momentum with a spell of luxury shopping along the Eden Island Marina, which climaxes with a sizzle of Seychelles’ nightlife at the Boardwalk Restaurant.
Arrive by a 15-minute private flight from Mahé to a jungle-covered tropical island overflowing with botanical curiosities, rare birdlife and a slow-paced life. Go in search of the Coco de Mer palm, which produces the (rather erotic shaped) heaviest seed of any tree in the world, in the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the walking trail through the lush reserve, look out for endemic birds, including the Seychelles black parrot. Make memories with a secluded swim on Anse Lazio Beach with palms and smooth granite boulders for company. Then embark on a mind-blowing gastronomic journey at Curieuse, the signature restaurant of Raffles Seychelles Hotel.
Embark on an island-hopping adventure in your private sailboat to pristine ecosystems. Locate rare Seychelles birds in their natural habitat at Cousin. Continue to Curieuse Island National Park, where twisty paths lead you to mangrove swamps that are home to giant crabs and giant tortoises. Relish delicious BBQ dishes on the deck as you glide to the tiny Isle St. Pierre in search of exotic marine life. Back in your hotel at Praslin in the evening, sway to the melodic rhythm and drumbeats of Moutya and Sega with flower dressed dancers around a crackling fire.
Sense yourself stepping back in time as you touch the laid-back Creole life at La Digue's sleepy port after a short boat journey from Praslin. Head through La Passe village to the historic L'Union Estate for a glimpse into the history of Seychelles. Ride the old-fashioned bicycle through vanilla plantations on the way to the sublime surroundings of Anse Source d’Argent. If your heart desires, do nothing much except wander through the unspoilt utopia of bewitching bays, thick jungles and wild hiking trails. And plan to return…soon.
Pricing is indicative and subject to change depending on travel month, duration and selected accommodations.
Teresa Fisher is a National Geographic author and freelance travel writer based in Portsmouth, UK. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Exeter University, she initially worked in London for Sotheby’s auction house; then in Europe as a cross-cultural communications trainer, living in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and Taiwan. While residing in Bavaria, she commenced a career in travel writing, focusing initially on Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy – destinations which still hold a special place in her heart. Teresa has since penned more than 30 guidebooks and children’s educational books on a wide variety of destinations from Europe to Japan, for publishers such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s and Fodor’s, and including National Geographic Traveler Switzerland. She specializes in European cities, adventure travel to far-flung destinations and all things Alpine, dividing her time between her family-oriented website, familyskinews.com, and photojournalism. Her stories have taken her round the globe, documenting wildlife and culture in some of the world’s more remote places. Highlights include tracking jaguars by dugout canoe in Guyana, tracking orangutan in eastern Sabah, backpacking round Japan, and being part of the first team of husky mushers to cross from Finland into Russia. When she’s not travelling or skiing, Teresa spends summer months aboard her houseboat in the world’s largest natural harbour, Poole Harbour. Teresa speaks French, German and some Italian, plays the violin and piano, and is a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and The Arts Society. She has been leading expeditions for National Geographic in Europe for more than half a dozen years."
Award-winning archaeologist, author, and National Geographic grantee Patrick Hunt earned his Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and has taught at Stanford University for nearly 30 years. Patrick directed the Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project from 1994 to 2012, and has continued project-related fieldwork in the region in the years since. His Alps research has been sponsored by the National Geographic Society, and he frequently lectures for National Geographic on Hannibal and the European mummy nicknamed Ötzi the Iceman. He is also a National Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club. He is the author of 21 published books, including the best-sellers Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History and Hannibal. He has a lifelong love of the Alps, having lived there for several months each year since 1994."
Tim Jepson is a British, London-based writer, traveler, and broadcaster. He began his traveling life at the age of 12, exploring the mountains of Britain and Ireland. After graduating from Oxford University, he lived and worked in Italy, writing for a variety of British newspapers and leading high-level expeditions in the country’s remotest corners. His experiences were recorded in a book, Wild Italy. He has since written more than 20 books, including several titles for National Geographic, and numerous articles for publications worldwide. Tim worked as a travel editor for London’s Daily Telegraph, and continues to travel extensively, with a passion for the farthest-flung destinations and the untrammeled cultures of Bhutan, Laos, Tibet, and Myanmar. He recently completed The British World: An Illustrated Atlas for National Geographic."
Alexander (Alec) Murphy is at the forefront of the movement to combat geographical illiteracy in the United States. A geography professor at the University of Oregon, Alec is Senior Vice-President of the American Geographical Society, a past president of the American Association of Geographers, and a frequent advisor on National Geographic education initiatives. Research, speaking invitations, and travel have taken him to more than 100 countries on six continents. Throughout his career, much of Alec’s work has focused on Europe; his book, The European Culture Area (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), is the most widely used classroom text on the geography of Europe in the United States. In the late 1990s he began extending his focus to the Middle East and North Africa, and by the early 2000s Alec found himself increasingly drawn to various parts of Asia. He is now a regular visitor to China, and he recently became the first foreigner to give a plenary lecture at the opening session of the Chinese Geographical Society’s annual meeting. Alec holds a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from Yale University, a law degree from the Columbia University School of Law, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Chicago. Drawing on his expertise in political, cultural, and environmental geography, he will offer his insights into the human and physical forces shaping the places we visit."
Travel writer Everett Potter has been covering the globe for three decades in pursuit of great stories. For the past 15 years, many of his pieces have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, including a recent feature, “Swiss Tracks,” for which he traveled by rail, cog-railway, tram, and lake steamer around the country. He’s also written about various destinations in the Caribbean, Canada, Central America, and other European destinations for the magazine. Everett received his B.A. in English from Boston University in 1974 and his M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976. He was a longtime columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, Smart Money, and Ski, and his work has appeared in most major publications, including Outside, The Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, and Forbes Life. He is the author of The Best of Brazil and has been awarded four Lowell Thomas Awards for his travel writing. He lives in Pelham, New York, and spends summers in a rustic cabin in Western Maine."
William Saturno is an archaeologist and storyteller specializing in the myths and histories of early civilizations and the politics of empire. A National Geographic Explorer and a former NASA research scientist, he has conducted fieldwork around the globe, both on the ground and from space, to understand the ideological and environmental foundations of how the great Czars, Khans, Emperors, and Ajaws of the past ruled over their societies. As an avid student and scholar of the ancient world, Bill weaves together data from archaeology, anthropology, and history spanning from the jungles of Central America and Southeast Asia to the deserts and grasslands of Eurasia and from the shores of the ancient Mediterranean to those of Scandinavian fjords, narrating the tales of adventurers, artists, commoners, and kings alike to bring the past vividly to life. He has joined numerous National Geographic Expeditions over the years in diverse geographies, including Mexico, Guatemala, China, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, and beyond."
David Scott Silverberg is a geographer working on conservation projects spanning six continents. His mix of exploration, research, and digital photo-video storytelling has been popular with National Geographic travelers for many years. A fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Asia Society, David was the executive science director at Earthwatch Institute, set up and managed Boston University environmental field research programs in British Columbia and eastern Africa, and was a founding White House staff member for AmeriCorps. David has worked in more than 100 countries, manages the Environmental Learning Institute, and teaches at several international universities."