A great way to save time and money, power breaks are on the rise. Lisa Haynes proves it’s possible to combine city with safari on a whirlwind trip to Cape Town and the surrounding area.
We’ve abandoned the safety of the safari jeep in search of rare white lions and the ranger’s tracking signal has revealed they’re a little too close for comfort.
We stop in our tracks as our ranger points out the lioness and her male cubs, grazing on a kill.
And then they spot us. Two inquisitive fur balls curiously peek through the overgrown grass, while the female lion gazes at us intently as we marvel at the family scene that feels like something straight out of a David Attenborough documentary.
It’s hard to believe this exchange with one of the world’s most endangered animals in a breathtaking wilderness is just a three-hour drive from the bustling bars, shops and restaurants of Cape Town.
Boasting the ‘Big Five’, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is one of the largest privately owned wildlife parks in the Western Cape, where animals roam freely on 54,000 hectares.
The location makes it a perfect option for a safari-city two centre stay. It’s a getaway of extreme contrasts, but it’s one that’s entirely possible in five action-packed days.
On arrival at Sanbona, we practically drop our cases and dash to the jeep for an evening game drive that catches the last of the South African sun.
We’re so caught up in the action we’re startled to see another elephant, so close to our open-top jeep you can see every crease in its weathered skin.
Gathering at the Gondwana Lodge that night, drinking local wine under the stars, I can’t believe how much I’ve already seen.
We regularly hop out of the jeep to seek wildlife on foot and experience the landscape with the game ranger who identifies fascinating plants, insects and tracking marks that provide vital clues to animals’ whereabouts.
With predators lurking, these up-close exhilarating walks require single line formations, keeping a beady eye, and staying close to the ranger.
There are a few beads of sweat in the group when the wind changes and a group of rhinos catch our scent and start pointing their horns in our direction.
Dragging my heels as I leave Sanbona, we embark on the 270km drive to Cape Town. It takes almost an hour to navigate the reserve’s bumpy gravel roads but we spot a rhino en route and it’s not long until tusks are swapped for tarmac and the smooth drive to the city.
On arrival in Cape Town, I’m in awe of the view from the dizzy heights of my Taj hotel room facing Table Mountain.
After sunrise starts and safari itineraries, I was keen to explore the city at a slower pace.
In less than two hours we explored trendy Long Street, packed with restaurants and bars, took colourful pictures of the flower sellers in Adderley Street and enjoyed a history lesson at Government Gardens, My favourite spot was Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter, with romantic cobbled streets and rows of rainbow coloured houses. I leave with a smile on my face.