South Africa beyond your safari 🍷🍴🚴⛵⛳

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! It continues to be extremely busy here in travel land, and industry statistics are backing up the enormous rebound in travel for 2023 and into 2024. On a personal note, it’s a lot of fun to work with so many clients on their dream trips.

February’s newsletters will focus on big trips – those unforgettable experiences. Last week, I highlighted how you can experience the summer Olympics in Paris in 2024 (I had lots of interest from you!). The package I described will ensure that you are well taken care of when the city is at its busiest through the excellent service and access that my partner provides (boots on the ground). Booking early is key, so reach out to me now to get the discussion started. And I’ll be in Paris next month scoping out hotels, restaurants, and experiences for you. 😊

This week, we move to South Africa which is an ideal first safari destination. One question I hear frequently is “what else is there to do besides the safari?” The answer to that question is in this newsletter. Read on for the scoop about a trip to South Africa that will greatly appeal to you, not only for the safari experience…

Ocean & Outdoors

I adore safari days. The early morning light, hearty breakfast and coffee in the bush, the anticipation of epic sightings, the thrill of the search, sundowners during sunset, and the glow of animal eyes on a night drive. Nothing beats it. However, a well-rounded trip to Africa usually includes more than just being on safari. And incorporating your interests into your safari vacation will deepen your experience and enjoyment when in Africa. I focus on South Africa (and Cape Town) in this newsletter, but this balance can also be achieved in other African countries.


The ocean is a huge part of life in much of South Africa. With beautiful beaches lining the coastline and a wide variety of watersports, if you love the ocean, there is a good chance you’ll find the perfect spot to relax or catch a thrill in South Africa. Everything from snorkeling with seals and paddleboarding with penguins to shark cage diving and sea kayaking are easily accessible.


There’s no limit to the number of options available for people who love the outdoors, whether you prefer a peaceful experience or an adrenaline rush. Hikes of varying levels of challenge, walks through the canopy at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, helicopter flights, abseiling, rides in a motorcycle sidecar, horseback riding, boat cruising, fishing, surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, kite sailing, golf, and just about anything else you can think of. What’s your outdoor hobby or favorite activity?

Food & Wine Enthusiasts


Cape Town is considered South Africa’s culinary capital and is home to some of the world’s best restaurants — featuring eclectic chef-driven menus and modern interpretations of traditional South African staples. In Cape Town, you’ll also find trendy food markets, inventive food trucks, an intense coffee culture, a hopping craft beer community, plus niche tours and activities enough to keep any foodie entertained (and well-fed) for days on end.

For foodies, I partner with the leading food tour company in Cape Town to offer customized walking tours that will introduce you to the city through its food. My partners in Africa and I also assist in making reservations at favorite restaurants to ensure each day is filled with delectable experiences.

OENOPHILES (Wine lovers)

The Cape Winelands is a legendary wine region just outside of Cape Town. For the casual wine-lover, a day trip exploring the Winelands can be enough, but for true oenophiles, there is plenty more to explore — the regions of Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl are home to more than 400 wineries!

Beyond sheer numbers of wineries to visit and wines to taste, there are also a variety of ways for clients to explore the stunningly beautiful region. Try a horseback wine tour, or a mountain biking adventure, hop aboard the wine tram, explore on a self-guided tour, or try a Scootour — a family-friendly excursion on all-terrain scooters.

The region is also known worldwide as an exceptional foodie destination, with the contemporary French flair of La Colombe, the creative seasonal menus at Delaire Graff, and the modern South African cuisine at Overture being just a few examples.

💎Hidden Gem Tip: If seeing wildlife isn’t your top priority, South Africa is an incredible cultural destination. There are some gorgeous hotels that I recommend that rival luxury properties in Europe.

History, Art & Architecture


The history of Apartheid is easily visible in South Africa, whether that’s experienced during a trip from Cape Town to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were jailed during that time period, at the moving and impactful Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, or a tuk tuk tour through the nearby Soweto Township.

For significantly older history, head to The Cradle of Humankind, one of the richest hominid fossil sites in the world. The site’s Maropeng Visitor Centre (located just about an hour from Johannesburg) offers an interactive, self-guided tour that tells humanity’s fascinating origin story. A tour of the Sterkfontein Caves provides insight into the site where some of the oldest known hominid fossils were unearthed.


Whether you have a love of traditional art and architecture or you’re looking for something a bit more modern, South Africa has it.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa combines modern art with a fascinating location — the lower floors of the Grain Silo Complex, which also houses the stunning Silo Hotel. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find ancient rock art in South Africa, dating from thousands of years ago, in the Drakensberg Mountains, Cape Cederberg, and in the Karoo.

In terms of architecture, you’ll find Cape Dutch architecture very much present in the Western Cape, and you’ll also find examples of traditional Xhosa and Zulu architecture. Architecture and design tours, customized to your interests, are available in Cape Town and surrounding regions.

Inspired? Reach out to me now to get started planning!

Wishing you and your family continued good health.


Follow my Facebook and Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration!

Make your own Wanderlist for 2023! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you.

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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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