Traveling Premier Classe

The following is a guest post by Natalie Irwin about traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town on the Premier Classe Train. One of the few regrets I have about our time in South Africa is that we never managed to do just that, and I was very happy to get at small glimpse of it through her story.

Even though we’ve lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, for two and a half years, we had never managed to visit Cape Town. I guess we were waiting for the right time but finally realized that if we didn’t want to miss out on Cape Town altogether, we had to just go.

So, ... 



“Which places in South Africa do you regret not having seen?”

That’s the question our friends asked us one day over a glass of wine, after we had learned that we’d be moving soon.

It’s not an easy one to answer. There are a million things we would have liked to do before ... 


Umhlanga Rocks and the Oyster Box Hotel

If it seems like we’ve been constantly traveling these past few months, it is because we’ve been constantly traveling these past few months.

Before you turn green with envy, you should know that I typically approach the prospect of another trip with rather a big sigh: Places to research, ... 


Stalking the Elusive Leopard

Klaserie is a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger Park, neither of them fenced in, meaning every living thing wandering around the fabled Kruger Park is perfectly at leisure to saunter on over to Klaserie Game Reserve. Somehow this makes viewing the animals extra special. With Kruger Park being one of the best spots in South Africa to see leopards, we had high hopes for Klaserie.


Living Like a Diamond Magnate

I recently mentioned a vacation to you on which we had accidentally started a wildfire. I never wrote about it back then, as that fire had marred our otherwise wonderful memories of an amazing weekend. Only now did I go back through my pictures and realized they had a story to tell. Many thanks ... 


On our Own Private Island for a Week

Island Water Villas near Memel in the Free State

One invaluable gift we’ve been blessed with in South Africa is good friends. Almost immediately upon arriving here, we were “adopted” by other families, invited over to braais, and generally shown the ways of this country.

One such set of friends are Mike and Jacky and their two children. They are veterans of the African bush, owning every conceivable gadget you could possibly need not only to survive in the wild but live quite nicely. They also possess that most important of all things, a wonderful sense of humor. If I ever was stranded on a desert island, I would want to have them along. Going on a trip with Mike and Jacky is always an adventure. About a year ago they organized a weekend getaway at a place called Prynnsberg, a diamond magnate’s house built in the 1880s and currently in the process of being restored by a private family. It came complete with a large staff of cooks and domestics who treated our group of over thirty people like royalty, serving every meal in a different venue, culminating in a cookout-cum-slumberparty under an overhanging rock. Except we never got to the slumberparty phase, because we accidentally set the bush on fire and had to spend the rest of the night and most of the next day fighting a huge wildfire. A corporate team building exercise couldn’t have provided a better bonding experience, though I suspect the owners of the house and surrounding farms didn’t quite see it in such a positive light. Mike and Jacky are also owners of that other invaluable possession you should select your friends by, a power boat. Therefore, when asked if we wanted to come along for a week of waterskiing in the Free State, we enthusiastically said yes. That is how we recently found ourselves on a remote farm, living in a house in the middle of a private lake, surrounded by beautiful scenery, with no one but our two families to play in the water as we pleased (if you don’t count all the cows and sheep keeping us company).

One of my goals in life has always been


I’ve Fallen in Love

Even before we ever got to Franschhoek, I fell in love with the name. It sounded so pretty and I couldn't get enough of saying it over and over again. Which is perhaps why we settled on Franschhoek Manor as our Bed & Breakfast, and it was an excellent choice. Our room was perfect, the host entertaining, his food and wine recommendations excellent, and the weekend magical.


Jamila Lodge

Jamila Lodge has everything you could ask from a luxury lodge for your African safari destination. It’s situated on top of a hill with stunning views all around and a cool breeze wafting up from the valley, the service and food are excellent, and we particularly enjoyed the hot tub right on our own private deck. It's located in Welgevonden Game Reserve only a few hours from Johannesburg.