Surprising South Africa.

To be honest … ahead of our trip to South Africa we were a little sceptical about what this country has to offer for events … but boy oh boy were we impressed by what we saw!

It helped that the trip was organised by a great DMC, Walthers who were amazing. They clearly had great relationships with all the venues we went to and were incredibly knowledgeable about everything we did and saw.

Hosted by Meetings Africa for three days in Johannesburg, we can’t deny the city is great for events with plenty of hotels and event spaces to choose from. A bicycle tour around Soweto gave us a peek into this unique township, but things really got interesting when we headed off on safari.

Meeting ‘The Big Five’

The Earth Lodges at the fantastic Sabi Sabi private game reserve are uber luxurious but have an incredibly laid back ambience and sit perfectly alongside the stunning surroundings of the Kruger National Park.

This was our chance to get up close and personal with The Big Five (the African elephant, lion and leopard , Cape buffalo and black rhinoceros) on our mini safari. We actually had to be escorted to and from our lodges by armed guides in case we bumped into a four legged friend casually taking a drink from our pool or strolling up onto the roof for a rest!

We also visited a school in the area … and what a delight that was. The children were so excited and enthusiastic. CSR is growing in South Africa, so getting actively involved during your stay is increasingly accessible.

Capetown

The vibe here was less urban and more laid back than Johannesburg … and we loved it.

Table Mountain dominates Capetown (in a good way!) and we loved our trip up on the Skyline Tram to take in the view from this incredible natural phenomenon. Even better was the descent … riding pillion on Harley Davidsons right through the city.

Polly makes no bones about the fact she loved this! “I was totally uncool” she admits! “I couldn’t stop hugging everyone and was grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole time!”

Hot off the press

We were lucky enough to arrive in Cape Town just three days after the fabulous Silo Hotel opened its doors. The 28 rooms were designed to take maximum advantage of this old grain silo’s architectural features and the result is quite remarkable. Check out the view from this bathroom!

Another little gem in Cape Town is the sensitively refurbished Gold Restaurant, which has kept its traditional feel and is a great option for larger groups looking for a whole evening’s entertainment.

Seeing penguins on the coast and a helicopter ride over the city finished off our stay in style.

Moving on …

Because the exchange rate is favourable right now, South Africa is great value, so it’s definitely a realistic alternative to European destinations. We flew through the night and – with only two hours’ time difference – didn’t feel jet-lagged going or coming back. Plus the airports are an absolute delight, everything was so slick and quick. With new routes opening up all the time, flying is getting to be a more practical way of getting about.

Why choose South Africa?

I know we’ve said this about other places too (most recently Vancouver) but there really is so much to do in South Africa, aside from the obvious safaris and sun. Vineyards, waterfalls, train tours all spring to mind as great ways to entertain delegates and perfect for a high end incentive programme.

We’re excited about the possibilities in South Africa and can’t wait to go back … this time with a client event to organise.

Thanks to DMC Advantage for linking us with Walthers and giving us the opportunity to experience South Africa first hand.