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13 GREAT ESCAPES

August 11, 2017
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Led with different and exciting sensations, people and places. We get so caught up in the allure of places like London and New York, we forget about all the amazing home-grown entertainment. 

Here are 13 of the best spots in South-Africa and also Africa. From the finest transportation services, the most romantic weekend getaways and the yummies dining spots, we list them all! Go out and explore your own backyard.

THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND
Why go by air when you can go by sea or train? By using these transportation services you will not only see more of our amazing country, but you will turn the means of getting from one place to another into an experience. The ride there becomes the trip itself.

THOMPSONS HOLIDAYS
Plan your next romantic getaway with Thompsons Holidays, South Africa's premier wholesale travel operator with 38+ years' experience in providing unbeatable travel packages, flights and deals to sought-after destinations all around the globe. Sit back and leave the details up to the experts - Thompsons Holidays will make your dream holiday a breath-taking reality.  For more information visit www.thompsons.co.za.

IMAGINE CRUISING
Imagine the sun on your face and the sea at your feet, your partner’s fingers interlocked with yours and at night the waves lull you to sleep. Imagine Cruising can offer all of this and more. Imagine Cruising is a South African based cruise planner with offices in the United Kingdom and Dubai. They provide fabulous tours around the world for every budget and heart’s desire. They can plan and book the perfect cruise for you. 

There are cruises available to all seven continents. Imagine Cruising also offers the incredible service: Tailor Made Collections, this service gives you the unique opportunity to plan and create the perfect cruise for you and your partner. Like their page says; just imagine your perfect cruise and they will make it happen.  For more information visit www.imaginecruising.co.za.

JB TRAIN TOURS
Touring by train has a certain old school elegant to it. The soft rattle of the wheels and the gentle sway of the compartments transport you to a time when travel was the luxury. JB Train Tours was founded in 1975 and through them you can see the whole country from the comfort of your own compartment. 

JB Train Tours specialises in Budget as well as Up Market Train Tours in Southern Africa hosting their tours in the Tourist Class, upmarket Premier Classe & Desert Express (Namibia) trains and luxury Blue Train. 

There are packages available for all special occasions and wallet sizes. People from all walks of life travel on their Holiday, Sport, Festival & Ad hoc tours. More than 40 tours to choose from.  For more information visit www.jbtours.co.za.

THE BEST WEEKEND AWAY
There is nothing better than spending your weekend with the people you love, except maybe spending that weekend at one of these amazing places. Each location is filled with beauty and amazing activities.

MABALINGWE NATURE RESERVE
“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow” – And spring IS HERE – bringing the excitement of new beginnings, fresh mornings and feelings of anticipation. It is time to once again bask in the magnificent African sun – close your eyes, feel the warmth on your skin and allow the beauty of nature come alive. 

What better way to celebrate this beautiful season than to take a romantic break with your special someone at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve! Imagine Sunset Game Drives, Morning Nature Walk adventures, the tingle of the refreshing cool waters of the pool on your skin, a romantic dinner at a restaurant or an intimate braai at your chalet. 

This is the essence of spring and the Mabalingwe experience – spending quality time with someone that is dear to your heart. Mabalingwe provides the matchless bushveld setting, you bring the company and you are all set to go!  For more information visit www.mabalingwenaturereserve.co.za

MORRUMBENE BEACH RESORT
Spring has sprung and there is nothing better than basking in the African sun with your loved ones! Perfect weather, sugar-white beaches and a tropical destination to get lost in; Morrumbene Beach Resort should be number one on your bucket list. 

Morrumbene is the perfect destination –a “secluded paradise” and off-the-beaten-track, a place where you can simply arrive and relax. Situated in picturesque Mozambique, the Resort is the ideal place for a fun getaway with the kids. 

Located in the Inhambane Province, Morrumbene boasts stunning beaches, coconut trees and landscapes of contrasting beauty. This Mozambican gem offers self-catering chalets, where you, can come and go as you please. Enjoy your time together relaxing by the pool, taking long walks on the beach, enjoying a drink at the Beach Bar or a enjoying a swim in the ocean. 

To experience Morrumbene Beach Resort, is to experience the true laid-back and mellow Mozambique. For more information visit www.morrumbeneresort.co.mz.

UMTHUNZI HOTEL
This gorgeous coastal venue is a gem of a venue on the KZN south coast. Just imagine… looking out over stunning views of wide azure blue skies, panoramic Indian ocean views from your air-conditioned beautiful room with percale draped king sized bed after being spoiled at the lovely on site restaurant with a delicious meal served by friendly staff. 

Followed by a morning sunrise walk on soft sand with fresh ocean breezes. And a late afternoon round of golf or tanning on one of the many blue flag beaches? 

Sound wonderful? It is! This special venue, ideally situated just one hour south of Durban on the leafy Hibiscus coast, offers guests a home away from home that oozes warm sophistication in a region full of exciting things to do. 

Choose to be adventurous with zip lines, boat rides, fishing & more… or relax with an in-room spa treatment, a good book & sundowner cocktail. Spoil yourself in this award winning venue. For more information visit www.umthunzi.co.za.

KRIDZIL HOLIDAY APARTMENTS
Spring has sprung, and the air is filled with the beautiful and fragrant smell of the Hibiscus flowers that are blooming along the South Coast. Margate is once again ready for its influx of vacationers who are more than ready to shed their winter clothes, catch a tan and spend time on the warm and sunny beaches that the South Coast has on offer.

There are so many exciting activities for people from all walks of life. If you are an explorer at heart, nature-lover, foodie, water sports enthusiast, or just a beach lover looking to enjoy a good book on the golden stretch of beach, Margate has it all. It’s really up to you to decide how you will spend your days out and about in Margate. 

Why not enjoy that well deserved holiday, to Kridzil Holiday Apartments situated in prime location in Margate, just a short 300m walk to the main beach. The self-catering apartments are comfortable, equipped with all that you may need to enjoy your holiday. 

The on-site facilities include a communal braai area for families to enjoy, a kiddie’s games room and play area to entertain the young for hours and a sparkling swimming pool to take a dip in after a long day at the beach. For more information contact them on 039 312 1529 or visit www.kridzil.co.za.

THE MISTY MOUNTAINS OF CRYSTAL SPRINGS MOUNTAIN LODGE
Situated at the top of Robber’s Pass and surrounded by the magnificent beauty of the Panorama Route, lies the misty Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge. Guests are most enjoyably entertained with outdoor activities such as hiking, game drives, cold and warm swimming pools, tennis courts and crazy golf.  

If you’re looking to relax and rejuvenate, Crystal Springs also offers a beauty spa, sauna, Jacuzzi and some lovely spots to sit down with a good book and soak in the views. 

Spring is one of the best times to visit this region, as the friendly local wildlife are brought to life by the rain and can be found wandering around the resort and surroundings - full of energy and playfulness. 

And that’s not all, the greenery this time of year is captivating, if not absolutely astonishing. Pristine natural beauty, a variety of wildlife and facilities that cater for all – spring into your car and head off for a Crystal Springs romantic getaway, you won’t regret it!  For more information visit www.crystalsprings.co.za

THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF MOUNT AMANZI
Situated close to Gauteng and near the Hartbeespoort Dam, lies the renowned Mount Amanzi Resort. Well-appointed chalets, a wide range of facilities and the beauty from the banks of the Crocodile River and region combine to create the perfect getaway option, honeymoon destination or wedding location. 

The honeymoon suite is well-appointed and tastefully decorated and staff go out of their way to create a wonderful atmosphere, with a few added special surprises. 

The large swimming pool is certainly a highlight of any Mount Amanzi visit, so be sure to pack your swimming towels and some sunscreen. If you can manage to get yourself out of the lovely pool, there are also a variety of activities available, which include crazy golf, beach volleyball, fly-fishing and hiking. We highly recommend a couples massage at the wellness spa to instantly transport you into the Mount Amanzi vibe. 

Mount Amanzi offers the ideal location and setup for weddings and conferences, with the near vicinity to Pretoria and Johannesburg being a major plus point. For more information visit www.mountamanzi.co.za.

THE TROPICAL VIBES OF MNARANI
Get into the spring feeling, with the tropical island vibe of beautiful Mnarani. Located on the edge of Kilifi Creek in Kenya, with its own private beach and onsite diving and water sports centres – you simply can’t go wrong! 

Fragrant Frangipanis, colourful flowers, an interesting variety of leaf plants and all sorts of other wonders flourish in the coastal environment, and can be found along walkways throughout this piece of paradise; creating an atmosphere of total relaxation and pure bliss. 

Activities include aerobics in the infinity pool, snorkelling, windsurfing, catamaran sailing, sunset cruises, outdoor chess, an onsite beauty spa and loads more. Buffet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as an A La Carte menu is available, and it is highly recommended to try a few of the cultural dishes served. A variety of cocktails and mocktails are available at the main bar, infinity pool, and upper deck. 

Escape to a magical place where sunsets, sunrises and everything between are heartily celebrated. It’s a beauty that cannot be captured, a feeling that can’t be described, and an experience that has to be felt and absorbed. For more information visit www.mnarani.net for more information. 

KAGGA KAMMA NATURE RESERVE
Sleeping in a "Cave" or under the stars - this must be your bucket list number one. Travel time from Cape Town: 3 hours 40 minutes. If you ever wanted to escape the city life, explore the wonders of rock formations and experience sleeping in a “cave” or under the stars, Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve, near Ceres, is the place for you.

Between morning nature drives and Sundowner tours, dinner under the stars and quiet, peaceful and comfortable facilities will help you to tune out of the demands of the city life, and breathe in the fresh air with your special person. A large part of the reserve is covered by Fynbos plains, and rock formations that tease the eye. 

Watch the sun set behind magnificent mountain ranges or cool of in the swimming pool. Don’t be surprised if the two of you find it very hard to leave such a romantic place. For more information visit www.kaggakamma.co.za.

THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF FOOD
“People who love to eat are always the best people” Julia Child

VILLA SAN GIOVANNI
A real traditional Italian taste-sensation brought over with the chef and owner, Giovanni Maiorana. This is a family run restaurant where the grandchildren are already involved. Amazing Italian food and wood oven baked pizza is paired with the perfect wine. Every dining experience at Villa San Giovanni feels like you are sharing a meal with your family. For more information visit www.vsg.co.za

THE BIG EASY WINEBAR AND GRILL BY EARNIE ELS
The Big Easy Durban Restaurant at Hilton Durban brings together a dynamic, international creative team.The Els influence can be seen throughout with the many personal touches that have been introduced.  

The Lounge area is stocked with Big Easy vintage wines from Ernie Els’ own vineyard and showcases a feature wall filled with memorabilia, replica trophies and images; while in the Private Dining Room, diners have the opportunity to sit down in comfortable style, as if in the company of ‘The Big Easy’ himself.

Outside, the Terrace with upper and lower decks, for al fresco dining and chilling, features a lush green foliage wall, as well as locally-sourced furniture and accents, honouring South Africa’s rich artistic heritage and natural beauty, where guests can fully immerse themselves in the magic of the outdoors and Durban’s idyllic weather.

Alongside Ernie Els signature wines, will be an extensive collection of selected quality wines, featuring up and coming wine-makers, many of which will be available by the glass. Wine aficionados will be able to enjoy the entire Ernie Els collection comprising 10 wines. These include three wines from the ‘Big Easy’, ‘Proprietor’ and ‘Cultivar’ ranges as well as the one ‘Signature’ wine. For more information visit www.bigeasydurban.co.za

So many exciting options, and only thought left to ponder over. Where will you be heading this season?

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TRAVELSTART Search and Book Cheap Flights

Cheap flights, incredible hotels and affordable car rentals. Travelstart is Africa’s leading online travel agency. Based in sunny Cape Town, they have offices across Africa and the Middle East where hundreds of Travelstarters are dedicated to rocking your travel world. They want their customers to spend less time planning their travels and more time on holiday. Their mission is to save you time, money and stress with their simple online booking platform. You can search, compare and book your travel all in one place. 

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