Katie Losey interviews Robyn Mark after her first visit to South Africa and learns about her ultimate dream trip, the meal you can’t miss, and how she felt about those 5 am wake-up calls.
You only had ten days for your trip—not much time! Where did you go?
We hit the highlights—Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve for safari. With only ten days to travel I wanted it to be relaxed, but still see South Africa’s must-sees.
For a born-and-bred New Yorker who considers sitting on the beach the ultimate luxury, what was the highlight for you?
Hands down the safari. I have heard from so many friends that this would be the best trip of my life, but I never expected to love the game drives as much as I did. I usually consider sitting on the beach the ultimate form of relaxation. It’s the only time that I feel like I can do nothing except sit and read for hours and not feel badly about it. There is something about an ocean that just takes me to another world. Waking up at 5 am for the morning game drives just became part of the schedule and never felt too early. I loved being outside for hours and learning about the animals and the natural surroundings. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that we were in the wild and the wildlife just felt comfortable with a giant jeep driving up to their home as they slept, mated, and ate.
Is there anything you would have changed?
I just wish I had more time to have experienced a few other activities at the lodges. Maybe make use of the spa, and of course there is never enough time to try all of the amazing foods they had to offer!
Do you think you’ll be back?
Definitely. Actually I now officially have a dream trip—to whisk away a group of friends to spend a week at the Africa House at the Royal Malewane. It was stunning! Every detail was so unique, but fit in so well with the surroundings. Colorful furniture, fixtures, and décor from all over Africa placed together in the most unexpected, but perfectly matched way. I am always in awe of people’s ability to mix stripes and patterns, yellows, and reds, in a way that flows beautifully. The front door alone blew me away!
Please invite me! Tell me about any insider experiences.
Thanks to our job, I feel very lucky to now know people around the world and it was such a treat to have locals take us around, especially in Cape Town. We felt like connected insiders as we skipped the typical tourist experiences and hung with people who live there full-time. We went hiking up Table Mountain in the morning, sipped cocktails in Camps Bay, visited Biscuit Mill Market for a sampling of local foods, and shared an unbelievable lunch at Chef Bruce Robertson’s home.
As the Food & Wine Expert at Absolute Travel, what was the best meal of your trip?
Lunch at Bruce’s! I usually don’t love set tasting menus but this was so relaxed, like we were going over to a friend’s house for lunch. Between the delicious fresh seafood and the South African wine, we could have stayed there all day. A must for all our clients visiting Cape Town!
Where did you stay in Cape Town?
I stayed at the Ellerman House, a small intimate deluxe property with unbelievable ocean views. The service was outstanding and they made us feel so comfortable coming and going, as if we were in our own (amazing) home. They even have a place to just help yourself to drinks and snacks throughout the day. Sometimes service can be overbearing and you feel like someone is always watching you; this property made us feel like there would be someone if we wanted, but we could also be completely left alone.
Did the Cape Winelands meet your food & wine expectations?
As always, there is never enough time to try every recommended restaurant and narrowing it down can be a challenge. I would have loved to have had at least four more meals, but we did have a lovely lunch at Bread & Wine (house-made charcuterie, fresh baked breads, mussels, and wine) and decided to just relax that night and enjoy dinner at our hotel, La Residence. Next time I’m hitting up Babel and I’m enjoying even more Pinotage. The wine and chocolate tour is also on my list…as is The Tasting Room. My list always goes on and on!
It really was, and I can know appreciate why South Africa is so many peoples’ favorite destination. It’s hard for other locations to compare! The properties, the weather, the food, the friendly locals, the wildlife, the culture—are all so unique and memorable. For honeymooners, families, older couples, animal enthusiasts, really anyone would love it. Start saving up, it’s a trip worth every penny!!
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