Looking for a truly unique way to experience South Africa, an itinerary that will impress even your most well-traveled clients? Look no further than Hunter Hotels, a boutique family-owned and -operated hotel group that prides itself on being “unique, exclusive, and unforgettable.” Set in bespoke locations, each Hunter Hotel property is truly exceptional, with its own amazing story and experiences. From a luxurious tented camp safari inside a national park to lavish treehouses perched above an ancient forest to a sumptuously cozy country house along the Garden Route, Hunter Hotel properties are nothing short of spectacular.
Safari Luxury of a Bygone Era
About an hour and a half north of Port Elizabeth in South Africa is the well-known Addo Elephant National Park, home to the densest population of elephants on earth. In the center of this amazing national park, on the only concession land in Addo, sits the one and only Gorah Elephant Camp. With just 11 luxury tents and no fences surrounding the camp, a stay at Gorah is both intimate and authentic. Here your clients will discover a five-star adventure that exudes Old World vibes. They will feel like true explorers, enjoying the awe-inspiring natural world of Africa while sipping sherry on the deck of their tented suite. They will experience bucket list worthy moments, like sitting quietly in the presence of the resident meerkat colony, or observing a rhinoceros mother and calf drinking from the watering hole, while dining by candlelight at the colonial manor house. Visiting Gorah Elephant Camp is like stepping onto the set of a movie, or more accurately, like traveling back in time, without sacrificing modern comforts and luxuries, of course.
This malaria-free lodge is home to the Big 5, and there is no shortage of game in the area. Additionally, since there are no fences to separate the lodge from the surrounding wildlife, some of the best sightings can take place when you least expect it. My husband and I woke up one morning to see a hyena cross the grasslands about 30 feet from our front door. Elephants, zebras, and other antelope species visit the area regularly. But warn your clients to watch out for the naughty monkeys; they cleverly keep an eye on the tents, waiting for an unsuspecting guest to leave theirs unlocked. And I’m told they know exactly how to access and take advantage of the complimentary mini bar, which is replete with snacks and beverages.
While the game viewing at Gorah Elephant Camp is amazing, the landscapes and vistas are extraordinary, and the tented suites are luxuriously outfitted, it’s the service and the staff that make this idyllic place truly extraordinary. The staff takes pride in anticipating the needs of their guests, ensuring that each and every one has a perfect stay. Think deliciously personalized menus, exquisite sundowners with mindfully curated cocktails, and hot water bottles to warm your sheets at turndown. Private vehicles for game drives and flexible, at-your-own-pace schedules make the overall experience at Gorah enjoyable for any guest. Even their littlest guests are spoiled with personalized gift bags filled with a variety of nature-themed activities and gifts.
I can honestly say that our stay at Gorah Elephant Camp was perfect, which is not a word I use lightly. Our only regret was that we only stayed two nights.
A Treetop Adventure
After our magical visit to Gorah Elephant Camp, we drove four hours along the famous Garden Route in South Africa, to an equally enchanting property, Tsala Treetop Lodge. Set high among the treetop canopy, just outside of Plettenberg Bay, the 10 private treehouse suites and villas inspire elegant coziness, relaxation and adventure. The six stylish 2-bedroom villas, complete with a living room area and fireplace, a private deck, and an infinity pool, are perfect for larger groups or family stays.
Your clients heading to South Africa will be stunned by the gorgeous sunsets off their private villa deck. Luckily, Tsala offers in-room dining, and in-room massage treatments as well, for the perfect night in.
The cuisine at Tsala is tasty. Whether you choose to dine in your treehouse, at their in-house restaurant or walk a few minutes to their sister venue Zinzi, you really can’t go wrong. Actually, Zinzi was named among South Africa’s top 100 restaurants.
But Tsala Treetop Lodge is much more than a lavish nature retreat. In fact, because of its location in the heart of the Garden Route, it’s an ideal base from which to explore all that the area has to offer. Your clients can enjoy an endless number of local activities. From horseback riding or swimming with seals, to whale watching, golf and kayaking to bungee jumping, or simply strolling through the quaint seaside town of Plettenberg Bay, there is no shortage of ways to adventure on the Garden Route. The hiking there is spectacular too. Your clients can follow the coastal trails at Tsitsikamma National Park or pack a picnic and explore Robberg Nature Preserve, one of the only places on earth where great white sharks can be seen from land, and a huge highlight from our visit.
You Can’t Go Wrong With These 3 Properties
Hunter Hotels owns and operates a third property in South Africa, Hunter’s Country House, which we unfortunately did not have the opportunity to visit. However, going by our experiences at both Gorah Elephant Camp and Tsala Treetop Lodge, I have no doubts that a stay at the Country House would be just as magical. In fact, for families traveling with young children, the Country House offers a Cubs Corner, where children can experience a variety of games, crafts and play areas, while parents enjoy a little “time out.” The Country Lodge is located just a short walk from Tsala and Zinzi. It is because of this proximity that many visitors choose to stay at either Tsala Treetop Lodge or Hunter’s Country House, but not both. And I highly recommend pairing at least one of the Garden Route properties with a stay at Gorah Elephant Camp. This combination will afford your clients the perfect mixture of experiences for a true South African adventure.
For more information, visit hunterhotels.com.
For Mayra Bazavilvazo’s family adventure at Nkomazi Game Reserve, click here.
This story originally appeared in worldstompers.com, a family travel website created to inspire families with kids to expand their idea of adventures. You can follow the adventures of the Bazavilvazo family @worldstompers on Instagram and The Worldstompers on Facebook.