Part 7: Kruger National Park – Golf, Safari & The Big Five in South Africa

Arrival into Skukuza Airport is unlike anything you will have normally experienced: your transfer is in a safari vehicle and between the airport and your accommodation, you will see any number of animals as we did with elephants and giraffes, amongst others.

Our arrival at Jock Safari Lodge and evening game drive on our first evening was hampered by a deluge, but like many things, there is a silver lining. The weather for the next three days was superb and due to the earlier rain, there was more animal activity as they came out to drink.

Our first full day on safari was truly Africa at its best for a safari loving golfer! We departed Jocks Lodge in our safari vehicles for the 50 minutes drive through the park to Leopard Creek, a Gary Player designed course on the edge of Kruger National Park. It also serves as host for the Alfred Dunhill Championship at the end of November. The course was in exceptional condition. The clubhouse is stunning and a great morning was had by all.

Returning to camp after golf entailed another animal viewing opportunity before a quick rest, and our evening safari drive later followed a wonderful dinner. No truer an expression than pictures speak a thousand words…the following selection came from our safari experiences in Kruger.

Our last full day in South Africa was enjoyed on safari…the day started with a 5am wake up call and finished with a delightful closing dinner for our group, with new friendships and future travel plans discussed…amidst much laughter and storytelling. The bar at Jock Safari Lodge overooking the dry riverbed is the ideal venue for gathering. Throughout our visit, their team provided excellent food and outstanding, friendly service, which only added to the convivial atmosphere.

Prior to departing for the airport and our homeward journey, our entire group enjoyed one final morning game drive, which was highlighted by lion sightings.

Remarkably, on the 60 minute journey back to the airport, our six-person vehicle saw the Big Five (cape buffalo, rhinoceros, lion, leopard and elephant)…it was a trip which was well documented with more photography, some of which I have shared…but as interesting as the images are, it truly only tells part of the experience!

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. View on LinkedIn.

Part 6: Golf & Sightseeing in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town

After a quiet final evening at Lanzerac, with individual dining arrangements, we set out for the short drive to Cape Town and a four-night stay at the Cape Grace Hotel in the Waterfront. Cape Town is also known as “The Mother City”, which given the history of the area is understandable, as she was originally settled by the Dutch as a refreshment stop to service ships sailing between Europe and Asia many centuries ago. We took the opportunity for some sightseeing en route to our hotel. It is now a city of greater than 4.5 million people. After a stop at Signal Hill which provides great views of the city, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Camps Bay, one of several charming suburbs of Cape Town which enjoy spectacular ocean views.

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a wonderful, planned used development with restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. The Cape Grace Hotel is ideally located beside all of this activity while providing a welcome haven from the nearby bustle with exceptional, understated service. It would be our home for the next 4 nights.

For golfers, our first round of golf was at the Jack Nicklaus Signature designed Pearl Valley. The overcast weather was ideal for golf, with a very light breeze. The course had just hosted their Member’s Club Championship over the prior weekend and the course was in excellent condition. As normal, the golfers enjoyed drinks in the clubhouse after golf and shared stories of their round. Our fifth round of golf for the trip was played over Steenberg, situated in the suburbs of Cape Town in the midst of a wine farm…again, a successful and enjoyable day, albeit windy.

Cape Town is infused with a global streak as she feels European with Asian undertones in many ways but also distinctively African. The location, with Table Mountain serving as a backdrop, is as iconic as Sydney Harbor. With four nights at the Cape Grace, and a group dinner on our third night (many thanks to the Cape Grace Hotel for a great dinner, enjoyed by all), individuals were free to sample the myriad of restaurants that the city offers. My wife and I particularly enjoyed the Codfather and another notable restaurant was the Greenhouse.

V&A Waterfront - The Best of South Africa Escorted - PerryGolf.com
Cape Town with Table Mountain in background

When not playing golf, guided tours were provided to Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s prison home for 18 years, the Cape of Good Hope and Penguin Colony.

Departing Cape Town on the nonstop flight to Skukuza for three nights in Kruger National Park, there was an air of excitement within the group but also one of appreciation for the time spent in Cape Town and surrounding areas. Based upon comments of my fellow travelers, I think Cape Town met and exceeded expectations on a range of levels.

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. View on LinkedIn.

Part 5: Sabers & Vineyards in the Cape Winelands, South Africa

Boschendal Wine Farm

Three consecutive golf days can often be enough for many travelers, despite how interesting, unique and challenging the courses may be. Our journey to the Winelands, about 60 minutes from Cape Town, was a wonderful break and opportunity for the group to enjoy another element of the South African experience.

Cape Winelands

Dinner on our first evening at Lanzerac House was in the Governor’s Hall and the images do not do it justice. One long, magnificent table with the most comfortable dining table seats I can recall sitting in…coupled with excellent service and food…made for a lovely evening and set the tone for our next 36 hours in this wine region.

Lanzerac House – Dinner in the Governor’s Hall

The following day we visited Boschendal Wine Farm for a wine tasting – it was a gorgeous morning, pleasantly warm while enjoying the shade of a massive oak tree. Three of our group even learned how to open a wine bottle with nothing more than a saber! We also enjoyed an entirely impromptu song from two of the local servers.

From there we had a short ride to Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards for another wine tasting and an excellent lunch.

As we travelled through the countryside, Chris, our Tour Manager provided a concise history of wine and the development of Cape Town & South Africa.

The small town of Franschhoek was our final stop. The second oldest town in South Africa, the central street is a wonderful mix of restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and coffee shops. 

…time to return to our accommodations and for many a relaxing nap!

Lanzerac Wine Estate

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. View on LinkedIn.

Part 4: Golf, Friends & Fancourt, South Africa

Welcome Function

Drinks and dinner the first night were a success – the group gelled nicely and the conversation was vibrant with constant laughter. Pairings had been thoughtfully made in advance, based on personal requests and years of experience. Our round on the Montagu Course at Fancourt the following day was terrific. The weather was ideal. The course was in great shape.

Dinner on the second night was at Henry White’s, in the formal dining room at the Manor House. In order not to stress the kitchen, we staggered the seating over 90 minutes, which worked out very well. An impromptu party broke out in the bar after dinner and the first full day on tour was now in the history books.

Day 2 of golf, consisted of a 40-minute coach ride to Pinnacle Point….South Africa’s answer to the Old Head in Ireland. We enjoyed a spectacular day with a steady breeze and glorious scenery. 

Upon returning to the Manor House and short downtime, we congregated for a casual dinner at La Cantina, the Italian restaurant at Fancourt. As the tour progressed, the convivial, welcoming atmosphere accelerated. In our marketing materials we speak of “like-minded” travelers, and this group is the very essence of that description.

Our third round of golf was at Africa’s top-rated course and venue for the 2003 President’s Cup, The Links at Fancourt. It was exceptional. It is a difficult but wonderfully manicured course and the clubhouse experience is similarly impressive.

After golf, the group enjoyed a BBQ in the clubhouse overlooking #18 green….it was an appropriate way to conclude our visit to Fancourt.

After a relaxing morning and with a tinge of sadness, our group departed Fancourt the following morning. Golf clubs and luggage were surfaced to our next venue. A simple, 40-minute flight to Cape Town and we were at the gorgeous Lanzerac property by early afternoon. More to follow…

Lanzerac Hotel

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. View on LinkedIn.

Part 3: Arrival in South Africa

Fancourt - The Manor House - PerryGolf.com
Fancourt – The Manor House

I have long held the view that the first 15 minutes is the most important time period when you arrive at a hotel as it starts to define your experience. The same can often be said when you arrive at a destination – there is nothing worse than a long wait for a few overworked, immigration officers.

Our arrival into Jo’burg mirrored that of all our clients with your name on a sign at the top of the jet bridge. Regardless of how well-traveled you are, that simple interaction removes so much anxiety…you are with a local. Movement through an airport with a friendly face and local connection removes the needs for the reading of signage. Check-in for the domestic flight and access to a lounge facility is the next step. All went well.

Arrival into George  Airport was similarly easy. The driver has a sign outside baggage claim and 10 minutes later we are checking into the Manor House at Fancourt.

To be clear, Fancourt is a wonderful resort, but the Manor House is 18 suites with exceptional service inside that environment. First Class within a premium experience. Our group of 15 couples had virtual exclusive use and the camaraderie from the first evening was palpable…like-minded has never been a truer expression!  Dinner, drinks, laughs, comparing notes and clubs, overlapping friends…it was a memorable first evening and set the tone for the next 12 days.

The next morning, golf was thoughtfully arranged at noon, golf carts to the front door of The Manor House and off we go with sunny skies and 72 degrees, light breeze.

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. View on LinkedIn.