Golfbreaks Spotlight

Golf & Safari in South Africa

We explore which golf courses and safari experiences to combine in South Africa to create your perfect golf holiday

9 mins read

Epic golf courses, beautiful weather, and the opportunity to encounter some awesome beasts along the way. What’s not to love about a golf trip to South Africa?

No trip to the Rainbow Nation would be complete without a once-in-a-lifetime safari and with many of South Africa's world-class courses located within close proximity to the country's beautiful wildlife, there's no reason why you can't golf and spot the 'Big Five' in one unforgettable trip.

Garden Route

Nowhere encapsulates the awe-inspiring drama of South Africa’s landscape quite like the world-famous Garden Route, the 300-kilometre stretch of south-eastern coastline which is home to many of the nation’s finest golf courses. A more intimate and exclusive experience than South Africa's most popular safari destinations, the Garden Route and Eastern Cape are establishing a reputation for its quality ‘Big Five’ game-viewing in a malaria-free environment.

Aerial views from the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, South Africa.

PLAY: The Garden Route is home to many of the best golf courses in South Africa. Nowhere more so than at Fancourt, a luxury leisure resort that boasts no fewer than three immaculately maintained Gary Player designs, including the majestic Links course, named by Golf Digest as the best course in South Africa.

Framed by the Outeniqua Mountains and characterised by the mighty dunes that encircle each hole, the Links is nothing short of a masterpiece and complemented by two other world-class layouts in the form of the Montagu and Outeniqua courses, guarantee that Fancourt is revered world-over as a bucket-list golf destination.

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STAY: The Garden Route is an incredible self-drive destination with scenic stops throughout, good roads – traditional highways and off the beaten track routes – beautiful scenery and relaxed ease.

Offering the closest ‘real safari’ experience to Cape Town and located in malaria-free areas, the Garden Route safari lodges are popular with locals and foreigners alike — an ideal combination of beach, golf and bush. For something a little more luxurious, Fancourt, Pezula and Simola all boast 5* accommodation offerings complete with world-class golf courses on-site.

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SAFARI: While the Kruger is South Africa's most famous national park, the Eastern Cape is also home to some fabulous game experiences, many of which are on par with that which can be found further North.

While different to that which can be found in Kruger National Park, the variety of wildlife on offer and the beauty of the landscape is truly remarkable. One of the many perks of visiting the reserves in the Eastern Cape is that they are Malaria-free. Meanwhile, relatively close to each other and just a few hours drive from Port Elizabeth, self-drive is a viable and popular option.

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Sun City

Sun City is an experience like no other. Headlined by one of the most extraordinary hotels in the world, the Aztec-styled Palace of the Lost City, Sun City is one of South Africa’s premier golf destinations. From the lavish opulence of The Palace of the Lost City to the casual elegance of the Cascades, the glamour of the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge to the tropical thrills of the Valley of Waves, Sun City delivers plenty to see and do in a beautiful malaria-free landscape.

Palace of the Lost City, South Africa.

PLAY: Draw yourself away from the glitz and glamour at Sun City, and you will discover two unforgettable championship courses. One being the exceptional Gary Player Country Club that steals much of the limelight. Home of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the formidable layout is one of the longest courses in the world. Built-in an extinct volcanic crater and carving its way through the heart of the bush, it is also among the best courses in the Southern hemisphere and a must-play on a trip to South Africa.

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STAY: Sun City comprises four hotels, the Cascades, Cabanas, Soho Hotel and the world-famous Palace of the Lost City. The latter, inspired by the myth of an African lost city, is guaranteed to make you feel like royalty with its opulent design and 5* service. Everything at the complex is built on a grandiose scale, from the magnificent frescoes and mosaics to the Grand Pool, the genteel relaxation spot which offers the perfect contrast to the fun and thrills of the Valley of the Waves.

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SAFARI: Running adjacent to the Pilanesberg National Park, the resort is perfectly positioned to spot a huge variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos. Virtually all of the animal species native to southern Africa can be found here, including the Big 5, wild dog, tsessebe, Sable antelope and more than 360 species of bird. The relatively small size of the park, and its unusual ecological richness, dramatically increase your chance of encountering the Big 5 in their natural environment.

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Destination in Focus: Pezula

At the very end of the African continent, where the pristine Southern Cape meets the Indian Ocean, you will find this outstanding golf resort. Perched on the clifftop enjoying spectacular views over the Knysna Lagoon and the ocean beyond, golfers will discover one of the most beautiful golf courses in South Africa. Set amid ancient indigenous forests, mountains, lakes and beaches, the Conrad Pezula is a great option to combine with a safari at Shamwari. One of the most successful and luxurious safari options, the modest reserve is smaller than those further north, making it is easier for rangers to spot key species. A leader in conservation, the private game reserve is home to the ‘big five’, as well as the more elusive black rhino and cheetahs.

View from the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, South Africa.

Before you travel...

When to go:

South Africa is a big country shaped by two oceans, and encompassing golden beaches, semi-arid coastlines, deserts and expansive savannahs. As a result, the best time to visit will vary substantially depending on whether you head into Cape Town (November to March) or to Durban on the subtropical East Coast (April to October).

If you’re looking to take in bush, beach and wine, two weeks should be enough, although we recommend three if you want to make sure you take in all the sights.

How to get there:

Most visitors will either fly into South Africa’s two major airports, Cape Town or Johannesburg. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer direct flights from London to both destinations, although indirect flights are often substantially cheaper. Emirates, KLM and Qatar are all routes to both cities.

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