South Africa | Safari, Kalahari, Star Beds & Cape | 11 Nights Sand Sand Game Reserve, Tswalu Private Game Reserve & Cape Town

A luxury South African safari effortlessly combines genuine wilderness with the best of sophisticated luxury – often all in the same day. Close encounters with majestic wildlife fit comfortably into an itinerary that also includes serene stargazing, strolling along white-sand beaches, and private yacht cruises along the Atlantic Seaboard.

Three nights at Ebony Lodge

Knowing that Ebony Lodge was the original Singita property only raised our expectations for our time in the Greater Kruger still higher, but the experience easily surpassed them. While the lodge itself – located in Sabi Sands – was designed as a fresh take on traditional safari style, the experience is the essence of safari: time spent in the bushveld with expert guides and trackers, on the trail of wildlife. Our first afternoon culminated in us seeing big cats up close, watching lion mate – an event that turned out to be more violent than romantic. Snarls sufficed where us more sentimental humans might say ‘I love you’. While being so immersed in nature, on our second day we wanted to learn about the human aspect of Sabi Sands. We’d read about Ebony Lodge’s local community upliftment programmes, and our guide was more than happy to drive us to the local villages of Justicia and Lilydale. We saw the lodge’s Growing to Read programme in action – clearly our luxury South African safari was having positive repercussions well beyond our own experiences. Over dinner at the long, family-style table in the main dining area, a fellow guest declared that he worked in finance, and this was the best investment he’d ever made. We agreed. After a morning learning to track animals on foot – and coming thrillingly close to a white rhino – our private heated plunge pool and the option of spa treatments on our deck persuaded us to spend the afternoon ‘at home’ in the lodge. We’d seen incredible wildlife – including our first ever porcupine. Little did we guess that the lodge staff had a special surprise in store for us: on the pretext of doing some stargazing, our guide took us on a short drive which ended at the airstrip, where an entire bush dinner had been set up.

Knowing that Ebony Lodge was the original Singita property only raised our expectations for our time in the Greater Kruger still higher, but the experience easily surpassed them. While the lodge itself – located in Sabi Sands – was designed as a fresh take on traditional safari style, the experience is the essence of safari: time spent in the bushveld with expert guides and trackers, on the trail of wildlife. Our first afternoon culminated in us seeing big cats up close, watching lion mate – an event that turned out to be more violent than romantic. Snarls sufficed where us more sentimental humans might say ‘I love you’.

While being so immersed in nature, on our second day we wanted to learn about the human aspect of Sabi Sands. We’d read about Ebony Lodge’s local community upliftment programmes, and our guide was more than happy to drive us to the local villages of Justicia and Lilydale. We saw the lodge’s Growing to Read programme in action – clearly our luxury South African safari was having positive repercussions well beyond our own experiences. Over dinner at the long, family-style table in the main dining area, a fellow guest declared that he worked in finance, and this was the best investment he’d ever made. We agreed.

After a morning learning to track animals on foot – and coming thrillingly close to a white rhino – our private heated plunge pool and the option of spa treatments on our deck persuaded us to spend the afternoon ‘at home’ in the lodge. We’d seen incredible wildlife – including our first ever porcupine. Little did we guess that the lodge staff had a special surprise in store for us: on the pretext of doing some stargazing, our guide took us on a short drive which ended at the airstrip, where an entire bush dinner had been set up.

Three nights at The Motse

After one last breakfast overlooking the Sand River, we returned to the airstrip (where there was no trace of last night’s dinner – a light footprint indeed) and were soon winging our way towards the arid reaches of the southern Kalahari. We both instantly fell in love with The Motse. The architecture of the lodge merged seamlessly with the shapes and shifting colours of the surrounding dunes and savannah. We entered beneath spiky camel thorn trees and then a chandelier made of ostrich egg shells. The manager welcomed us by explaining that Motse means ‘village’ in the local Tswana language, and that we would be staying in one of their nine ‘little houses’. Although there was something lunar about the landscape, we again immediately felt at home. We agreed that this was the genius of Africa: being otherworldly and welcoming all at once. To help us see more of this remarkable region, we enlisted some serious horsepower on our second day. Not another 4×4 safari vehicle, but plucky desert horses which had mastered the art of not sinking into the red sand. We threw down the gauntlet of a pangolin sighting to our guide, who accepted the challenge, albeit with a smile that seemed to say, ‘I’ll do my best, but…’. He did more than that, spotting a stalking caracal and the tracks of an endangered black rhino before we cantered back along a sand ridge in the lengthening shadows of the Korannaberg Mountains for sundowners overlooking the waterhole. Rumours of gourmet picnics had us signed up for an all-day game drive for our third day, and we spent time in the shade at waterholes, waiting to see which of the ‘green desert’ animals would come down to drink. We saw springbok, oryx and – at last – a black rhino all slake their thirst. Our guide even found a pangolin scale. Ironically, its means of defence have become a weakness as these are much in demand for traditional medicine. Driving back, we saw what looked like a haystack suspended in a tree and learned that it was the communal nest of sociable weaver birds.

After one last breakfast overlooking the Sand River, we returned to the airstrip (where there was no trace of last night’s dinner – a light footprint indeed) and were soon winging our way towards the arid reaches of the southern Kalahari.

We both instantly fell in love with The Motse. The architecture of the lodge merged seamlessly with the shapes and shifting colours of the surrounding dunes and savannah. We entered beneath spiky camel thorn trees and then a chandelier made of ostrich egg shells. The manager welcomed us by explaining that Motse means ‘village’ in the local Tswana language, and that we would be staying in one of their nine ‘little houses’. Although there was something lunar about the landscape, we again immediately felt at home. We agreed that this was the genius of Africa: being otherworldly and welcoming all at once.

To help us see more of this remarkable region, we enlisted some serious horsepower on our second day. Not another 4×4 safari vehicle, but plucky desert horses which had mastered the art of not sinking into the red sand. We threw down the gauntlet of a pangolin sighting to our guide, who accepted the challenge, albeit with a smile that seemed to say, ‘I’ll do my best, but…’. He did more than that, spotting a stalking caracal and the tracks of an endangered black rhino before we cantered back along a sand ridge in the lengthening shadows of the Korannaberg Mountains for sundowners overlooking the waterhole.

Rumours of gourmet picnics had us signed up for an all-day game drive for our third day, and we spent time in the shade at waterholes, waiting to see which of the ‘green desert’ animals would come down to drink. We saw springbok, oryx and – at last – a black rhino all slake their thirst. Our guide even found a pangolin scale. Ironically, its means of defence have become a weakness as these are much in demand for traditional medicine. Driving back, we saw what looked like a haystack suspended in a tree and learned that it was the communal nest of sociable weaver birds.

One night at The Malori

Pangolin continued to elude us, but our afternoon game drive ended at a remarkable structure, reminiscent of the sociable weavers’ nest. We were delighted when our guide explained that this sleep-out deck, The Malori, would be our ‘nest’ for the evening. We bounded excitedly up the stairs, our guide following with drinks and canapés, which we enjoyed as the sun set and a big yellow moon rose in the east. We chose to make our own dinner, then my partner rolled our bed out from under the thatch roof so that we could enjoy the night skies. Malori means ‘dream’, and this was ours come true.

Pangolin continued to elude us, but our afternoon game drive ended at a remarkable structure, reminiscent of the sociable weavers’ nest. We were delighted when our guide explained that this sleep-out deck, The Malori, would be our ‘nest’ for the evening. We bounded excitedly up the stairs, our guide following with drinks and canapés, which we enjoyed as the sun set and a big yellow moon rose in the east. We chose to make our own dinner, then my partner rolled our bed out from under the thatch roof so that we could enjoy the night skies. Malori means ‘dream’, and this was ours come true.

Four nights at Cape Grace

Our day began with the desert dawn chorus, before an outdoor shower as the light strengthened. We then made our way back to The Motse for breakfast, before heading for the airstrip – and the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Town is a great spot for people watching but even better, the view from our Cape Grace suite, overlooking the bustling marina,  allowed us to ship watch too. We spent the afternoon relaxing, lazily following the comings and goings of the various boats. Knowing that Cape Town was a celebrated culinary destination, we’d cleverly planned ahead and booked an early dinner at the famed Test Kitchen. Later, we sank our teeth into the hubbub of the V&A Waterfront, strolling among the crowds as a digestif. From there it was a short walk across our private bridge to the tranquil sanctuary of the Cape Grace, where we slept like royalty. My partner and I had a long-standing joke about travelling together to the ends of the earth, and booking a private Cape Peninsula tour allowed us to get that little bit closer. Our driver expertly handled the swooping curves of Chapman’s Peak, setting for many luxury car adverts. The craggy cliffs and lonely lighthouse were striking, but it’s the antics of the Boulders Beach penguins that will live longest in our memories. They looked like so many French waiters as they waddled up and down the beach, and to my embarrassment there is now video evidence of me attempting to mimic them! Visiting Cape Town without taking a tour of the Cape Winelands would be an almost criminal, and certainly thirsty, experience. French Huguenot refugees brought their vinicultural expertise along, and with soil this fertile, their methods and culture soon took root and brought forth shoots. Today, the Cape Winelands produce wines of international standing, and we found that a platter of local cheeses makes the perfect accompaniment to a vertical tasting, and a cool cellar the best venue. Our grape expectations were more than met, and we spent the return journey to Cape Grace happily debating the merits of our new favourite wines. The Western Cape is also known for its produce and the taste sensations created by talented local chefs. Our day of unabashed indulgence began with oysters for breakfast – with the breeze carrying the salty tang of the ocean, they could not have been fresher. An afternoon cruise on the hotel’s own yacht, the Spirit of the Cape, put us in the mood for something stronger, and the Bascule Bar’s whisky selection certainly hit the tot. Then it was just a few paces to the Signal Restaurant with its views of Table Mountain bathed in silvery moonlight.

Our day began with the desert dawn chorus, before an outdoor shower as the light strengthened. We then made our way back to The Motse for breakfast, before heading for the airstrip – and the Atlantic Ocean.

Cape Town is a great spot for people watching but even better, the view from our Cape Grace suite, overlooking the bustling marina,  allowed us to ship watch too. We spent the afternoon relaxing, lazily following the comings and goings of the various boats. Knowing that Cape Town was a celebrated culinary destination, we’d cleverly planned ahead and booked an early dinner at the famed Test Kitchen. Later, we sank our teeth into the hubbub of the V&A Waterfront, strolling among the crowds as a digestif. From there it was a short walk across our private bridge to the tranquil sanctuary of the Cape Grace, where we slept like royalty.

My partner and I had a long-standing joke about travelling together to the ends of the earth, and booking a private Cape Peninsula tour allowed us to get that little bit closer. Our driver expertly handled the swooping curves of Chapman’s Peak, setting for many luxury car adverts. The craggy cliffs and lonely lighthouse were striking, but it’s the antics of the Boulders Beach penguins that will live longest in our memories. They looked like so many French waiters as they waddled up and down the beach, and to my embarrassment there is now video evidence of me attempting to mimic them!

Visiting Cape Town without taking a tour of the Cape Winelands would be an almost criminal, and certainly thirsty, experience. French Huguenot refugees brought their vinicultural expertise along, and with soil this fertile, their methods and culture soon took root and brought forth shoots. Today, the Cape Winelands produce wines of international standing, and we found that a platter of local cheeses makes the perfect accompaniment to a vertical tasting, and a cool cellar the best venue. Our grape expectations were more than met, and we spent the return journey to Cape Grace happily debating the merits of our new favourite wines.

The Western Cape is also known for its produce and the taste sensations created by talented local chefs. Our day of unabashed indulgence began with oysters for breakfast – with the breeze carrying the salty tang of the ocean, they could not have been fresher. An afternoon cruise on the hotel’s own yacht, the Spirit of the Cape, put us in the mood for something stronger, and the Bascule Bar’s whisky selection certainly hit the tot. Then it was just a few paces to the Signal Restaurant with its views of Table Mountain bathed in silvery moonlight.

What sets it apart

Throughout our luxury South African safari, we were struck by the fact that wherever we went, we were welcomed as either new or returning family members. This was partly due to our having chosen safari lodges and a city hotel that pride themselves on creating exactly this feeling – an effect only enhanced by the remoteness of the settings of each lodge.No matter how dramatic the landscapes – and between the Sabi Sands lowveld, the rolling red dunes of the Kalahari and the jagged sandstone cliffs around Cape Town, they were impressive – there was a genuine thread of friendliness and care running through our itinerary. Even at a relatively large hotel like Cape Grace, almost all the staff knew our names. At the safari lodges, we soon felt as though we were prodigal members of the local pride, returning from afar.Of course, this contributed to a deep sense of belonging and of having connected with the people, places and wildlife we not only saw, but experienced. We began to understand that an immersive experience is as much about reaching out as it is about diving in (although we did that, too – in a number of private pools!). Even when we were gliding over the surface on our private yacht cruise, we felt that we had gone deeper. Deeper into the eyes of our first male lion, deeper into friendships with guides and our fellow guests, and deeper into the fascinating culinary past of Cape Town.

Throughout our luxury South African safari, we were struck by the fact that wherever we went, we were welcomed as either new or returning family members. This was partly due to our having chosen safari lodges and a city hotel that pride themselves on creating exactly this feeling – an effect only enhanced by the remoteness of the settings of each lodge.

No matter how dramatic the landscapes – and between the Sabi Sands lowveld, the rolling red dunes of the Kalahari and the jagged sandstone cliffs around Cape Town, they were impressive – there was a genuine thread of friendliness and care running through our itinerary. Even at a relatively large hotel like Cape Grace, almost all the staff knew our names. At the safari lodges, we soon felt as though we were prodigal members of the local pride, returning from afar.

Of course, this contributed to a deep sense of belonging and of having connected with the people, places and wildlife we not only saw, but experienced. We began to understand that an immersive experience is as much about reaching out as it is about diving in (although we did that, too – in a number of private pools!).

Even when we were gliding over the surface on our private yacht cruise, we felt that we had gone deeper. Deeper into the eyes of our first male lion, deeper into friendships with guides and our fellow guests, and deeper into the fascinating culinary past of Cape Town.

Day 1–3

At this time of year, Singita Sabi Sand is lush and green. © Singita

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, and assisted through customs and immigration. After a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Sabi Sands in the Greater Kruger, you’ll take a transfer to Ebony Lodge, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 4–7

© Tswalu Kalahari

After a transfer from Ebony Lodge to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Johannesburg, and a connecting light aircraft scheduled flight to the Kalahari. A transfer will then take you to the Tswalu group of lodges. During your four-night stay, you’ll spend three nights at The Motse, and one night at The Malori sleep-out deck.

Day 8–11

© Cape Grace

After a transfer from The Motse to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Cape Town. You’ll then take a private transfer to Cape Grace in the city centre, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 12

South Africa is famous for its big-cat sightings. © Andrew Schoeman

A private transfer will take you from Cape Grace to Cape Town International Airport, where you’ll take a scheduled flight to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, to connect with your international flight.

Ready to start planning?

Let us help you curate your perfect experience.

Plan My Trip

Looking for inspiration?

Sign up for our occasional newsletter and we’ll feed your imagination with exciting safari ideas.

Ready to start planning your trip?​​​​​​​

Plan My Trip

Want to get in touch?

Contact Us

Creating your canvas!

By clicking on the heart, you’ve just added your first safari item to your canvas, which is where you can curate your personal collection of luxury safari inspiration. View and save your canvas by clicking here, and you'll be able to access it at any time by tapping on the heart icon in the menu bar.

Got it