Add on a luxury African adventure to your cruise from Cape Town.
By Bill Panoff
My life is a cruise-related juggernaut. I’ve lived, slept, and breathed cruises for more than 35 years. Every day of my life is consumed with recurring cruise narrative and I love it. A major portion of my travel history is documented on water, so when I venture out of my nautical realm and embark on a new odyssey, it has to be something compelling. No, this odyssey is not the name of a new cruise ship, but an extravagant land-based African adventure.
Cape Town presents itself as the opening scene to an epic South African adventure expertly curated by Journeys Unforgettable in association with Wilderness Safaris. A culturally diverse city, Cape Town boasts beaches, art, and natural beauty topped off with fine wines and world-class cuisine.
It’s only fitting that the choice of accommodation was The Silo Hotel, an eclectic hotel that occupies the upper portion of the historic grain elevator complex and sits directly atop the impressive Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
Twenty-eight trendy suites, each designed in a chic industrial style, feature the property’s renowned pillowed window bays with commanding views of iconic Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront. These domed lunettes are comprised of 56 hand-cut panels of glass reaching up over 16 feet in height and stretching out three feet, which proffers multidirectional views.
If you were to choose where to stay in Cape Town, it would be the V&A Waterfront, an area pulsing with life, shopping, and superb dining. While these gratifying diversions may call out to many, attention eventually gravitates back to the posh appeal of the hotel. A swim in the rooftop pool, hovering 11 stories upward, captivates the essence of the hotel’s swank allure. Spirited design in furnishings and luxurious style meld seamlessly into the industrial architecture of the building.
Three days of leisure indulgence and cultural immersion at The Silo is the perfect preamble to the next component of the itinerary: two nights at the cliff-top Birkenhead House. Both of these exquisite properties are part of The Royal Portfolio, a consummate collection of award-winning hotel and resort accommodations.
The tandem talents of founders, Phil and Liz Biden, have produced unparalleled accomplishments in creating their highly acclaimed hotels in fascinating locales. Mrs. Biden has employed her significant talent of imaginative design into the meticulous style displayed in every room, nook, and cranny, exposing her keen eye for flair, reflecting the vibrancy and indigenous colors of South Africa.
In stark contrast to the cosmopolitan Silo, the quirky Birkenhead House is a seaside paradise flaunting its intimate ambiance with only 11 rooms. Weaving unmistakable opulence with serendipitous casualness creates the perfect retreat away from urban bustle. Celebrated worldwide as an outstanding whale-watching destination, the hosting town of Hermanus is set against a backdrop of mountains and shimmering seascapes.
Whether you prefer an active lifestyle or relaxing rejuvenation, the myriad of options is endless. Surfing, hiking beautiful mountain paths, horseback riding on the beach, or shark-cage diving exemplify a robust menu of activities. If your druthers lean toward wine tasting, the country’s Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is just a short drive away.
The property itself holds a puissant allure. There’s no need to venture beyond the immaculate grounds, as the all-inclusive policy translates to all extravagant meals and drinks provided. The in-house spa adds another element, soothing your body’s stress as well as your inner soul’s detoxification.
After these luxurious precursors, a transfer to Botswana and six days and nights of safari adventure is provided by Wilderness Safaris with an opportunity to place your fingers on the beating pulse of Africa, bombarding the senses with an eye-opening assembly of the unfamiliar.
I was never a Boy Scout and my camping experiences are limited to say the least. The prospect of sharing my space with beasts of nature seemed to be slightly out of character. The word hesitancy might be a little too understated. That tempered thought was quickly dispelled on arrival at Kings Pool, the first in a series of three luxurious camps that go well beyond the inferred, glamping.
Each respective Wilderness Safaris camp invokes calm and relaxation in the midst of nature’s circle of life. The company ensures that guests are treated to an authentic, yet pampered, experience with its inventive and well-guided safari expeditions. The inherent animation of Disney’s The Lion King is reset to real life, witnessing staggering displays of bush environment.
Act One: Kings Pool
Nine authentic and exquisite en-suite rooms are strategically set alongside the Kings Pool Lagoon. Although designed with thatch and canvas and inspired by regional tradition, there is no inference to being modest. Each suite features a spacious bedroom area, lounge, en suite bathroom, and even a small pool. The unplugged ambiance is underscored by the communal open-air lounge peering out to the never-ending horizon. Set the five-star experience aside for a fleeting moment as night reveals a million star encore with unfettered views of the heavenly display above.
Wildlife viewing is facilitated by an exhilarating….
Photo: Dana Allen/Vumbura Plains