Cape Town and Victoria Falls are two destinations that are often added onto a Southern Africa safari, with both providing something completely different from safaris in the national parks and private concessions. They are both superb destinations to visit but with such a variety of activities and accommodation options, it can be difficult to choose what to include. After a recent trip to ‘the Falls’ and Cape Town, I sat down for a little Q&A on the two areas:
How do you decide on where to stay in Cape Town?
Cape Town is one of the world’s finest cities that are home to a huge number of hotels. In my opinion there are three main areas to consider – the commercial Waterfront area, the funky ‘Kloof Street’ (also known as the City Bowl), and the beaches around Camps Bay. Once you have your preferred location, the choice then falls between whether you would like to stay in a smaller, boutique-style B&B such as the charming Cape Cadogan, or in one of the larger hotels on the Waterfront such as the Cape Grace.
What restaurants do you recommend in Cape Town?
This is a difficult one because there are a vast number of excellent restaurants to choose from. However, if I had to pick my top three, it would be The Test Kitchen, Nobu, and the Signal Restaurant. You can read the full YZ guide on where to eat in Cape Town here.
What activities do you recommend whilst staying in Cape Town?
There are an excellent number of activities visitors to this area can partake in – both from a cultural aspect as well as nature. Besides the hike up the famous Table Mountain, visitors can also take a hike up the Lion’s Head. I would also highly recommend getting down to Boulders Beach, where the free-roaming African penguins make for a delightful attraction!
Cape Town and of course South Africa as a whole are historically very rich, and while this history has not always been a positive one there are plenty of activities that allow tourists to find out a little bit more about the likes of Nelson Mandela and his struggle for freedom – particularly with a visit to Robben Island, where he was held captive for eighteen years.
Other activities people can enjoy in Cape Town range from shark cage diving to whale spotting in Hermanus, so I would definitely recommend that anyone planning to visit the area does a bit of research into what they would like to do.
Should you have a hire car whilst in Cape Town?
This is a possibility but not a necessity. Realistically you are much better off hiring a taxi through your hotel, as these drivers will know where, and where not, to go!
What is the weather like in Cape Town?
With Cape Town being so far south, the weather is very much varied over the course of the year and as such care really does need to be taken when choosing when to visit this wonderful city. As a general rule Cape Town is at its best weather wise from December through to March, while it starts to get cold and wet from around May through to September.
Should I go to the Winelands or visit it from Cape Town?
This really depends on your interest in wine and fine dining! A day trip from Cape Town with a private tour of the Winelands is very much a possibility for those with a bit of interest, but for the serious wine lovers a couple of days in the Winelands is highly recommended!
Victoria Falls, known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, is positioned pretty much at the halfway point on the mighty Zambezi River as it meanders and in places thunders its way towards the ocean. Easily combined with a safari in Botswana, a couple of days at ‘the Falls’ can certainly be considered by visitors to the area.
How do I decide which side to stay on – Zim vs. Zam?
While both sides have plenty to offer in terms of activities, and access to the Falls themselves is straightforward from both, it is fair to say that Zambia has the higher-quality camps and lodges (Tongabezi, Sindabezi, and Waterberry Lodge) – as a general rule, they are significantly better than those on the Zimbabwean side. However, there are a couple of great-value properties (like Ilala Lodge) on the Zimbabwe side that are the best for the most economical trips.
How do I decide on where to stay?
This really depends on where your preferences lie in terms of whether you would prefer to stay at a hotel or a smaller lodge-style property, as well as what you would like to gain from your visit here. If you visit Victoria Falls purely with the intention of seeing the Falls, then a stay close by is best. However, if you are in the area for three or so days, then a stay at one of the lodges a short distance from the Falls would be what I recommend. It is much quieter a little further away from what is ultimately quite a commercial area, where helicopters and microlights start flying at 7am.
What activities do you recommend whilst staying in Victoria Falls?
There are an excellent number of activities for visitors to this area! For the adrenaline junkies, a bungee jump or dip in the Devil’s Pool are highly recommended, while it is always a fantastic experience to get into the air with a helicopter or microlight to really get a feel for how huge the Falls actually are.
There are also some excellent activities to partake in a little further down-river, with sunset cruises, visits to Livingstone Island, canoe trips, and wild water rafting all being a possibility.
If you are looking to include South Africa or Victoria Falls into your safari holiday to Africa, feel free to contact us on +44 (0)20 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected] to start planning your trip today.