Monday, November 20, 2017
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April/May 2017 ‘An Agent Abroad’ winner, SIMON THOMAS O’NEILL from Oasis Travel admits being a travel agent has its perks as he shares his amazing South African Experience…

Being a travel agent certainly has it perks and they don’t come much better than a seven-day trip of a lifetime, experiencing the luxury, diversity and serenity of a country like South Africa.

South Africa is a year-round destination popular with sun worshippers, adventure seekers, cultural tourists and wine lovers seeking good value for money. Genuine hospitality is in abundance. South Africa has something for everyone.

My journey began with Cape Town. Cape Town is a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain. Slowly rotating cable cars climb to the mountain’s flat top, from which there are sweeping views of the city, the busy harbour and boats heading for Robben Island, the notorious prison that once held Nelson Mandela, which is now a living museum. There is so much to see and do here, including the famous V&A Waterfront with its five-star hotels and fabulous restaurants and coffee houses.

The second part of my itinerary was Hermanus which is a picturesque seaside town southeast of Cape Town, in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. It's known as a whale-watching destination. We did a caged shark dive. Beaches here include Voëlklip Beach and the broad Grotto Beach, overlooking Walker Bay. The Old Harbour Museum is a site encompassing the old harbour, a fishermen’s village and the Whale House Museum.

Thirdly, I visited the Cape Winelands. The Winelands offer unexpectedly lush scenery and the opportunity to sample excellent wines and superior dining in restaurants, many of which are on wine farms. Don’t miss a visit to the university town of Stellenbosch and nearby Franschhoek. Hikers will also want to lace up their boots and get out into the spectacular mountains of this region.

Whilst I visited Cape Town, The Winelands and did whale watching in Hermanus, one of the highlights of my visit was to board the most luxurious train in the World – Rovos Rail.

Leaving behind the famous Table Mountain scenery of Cape Town our personal assistants onboard the train took care of our every whim, ensuring that we didn’t need to lift a finger. So much is included. Recapture the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era as you step aboard the reconditioned wood-panelled coaches and enjoy fine cuisine in five-star luxury.

The personal assistants advised us of all the train had to offer from our itinerary meandering along the Old Kimberly Diamond Route to the champagne served in the bar, free of charge of course.

There was a refreshing focus onboard with the menu designed around the best possible local produce. The journey also included bespoke tours tailored to local sustainable tourism, thus helping the local communities.

The stylish and old world charm appeal of Rovos Rail coupled with superb fine dining, not forgetting the baby grand piano in the observation car added a sense of feeling so fortunate to be travelling on such an iconic journey, it was really like stepping back in time to a by-gone era.

I would describe South Africa as one of the best destinations I have ever been to.

It should be on everyone’s bucket list, from breath-taking scenery to the winelands to safaris and not forgetting the amazing garden route.

I am left with memories that will last a lifetime.

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