Pamela Thomas takes us to Shamwari!Back to Blog
We were in South Africa for a few days, but spent the bulk of our trip — 4 days and 3 nights — at Shamwari, a Safari Game Reserve. We stayed in Eagles Crag Lodge, which is a bunch of gorgeous ‘huts’ along raised walkways. I had stayed there once before at the end of a work trip, and it was a bucket list vacation for our family (husband Lloyd Stein and our two kids, Jack, aged 17, and Sadie, aged 14).
While you’re at Shamwari, everything is there — but we were also in South Africa before and had some amazing meals & fun experiences!
Where to eat
Breakfast at the Mount Nelson Hotel is amazing. HUGE buffet and you’ll be hip-checking celebs (who all stay there when filming) & interesting people from all over the world. The service is FIRST rate and you will cry when you leave (ok, that was me).
Many great dinners in SA, but one of my favorites was Addis – 41 Church/Long Streets. Super amazing Ethiopian food (make sure to tell them if you don’t want it too spicy). They put a huge pan of spongy bread on your ‘table’ and then ‘pour’ different foods on it – you eat the bread-table as you eat your food. Fun and delicious. Also went to the Black Sheep (walking distance from the Mt. Nelson – DELICIOUS)
What to see
SO much – you’ve got to see the Penguins @ Boulders Beach (you literally walk amongst them), Table Mountain (cable car), a market on the weekend only that’s fantastic for crafts and food, and the V+A Waterfront has local artisans for gorgeous things to take home (way better than the usual souvenirs).
And do not leave without going to Cornell Skopp which is a ranch with animals that you can mingle with and some you can pet including Rocket, the cheetah. Yep – he’s a cheetah (you read that correctly, look at the pictures! He’s amazing!)
Where to stay
If you’re in Cape Town, I’d recommend the Mt. Nelson. It’s a little off the beaten path but it’s roomy and gorgeous and there’s afternoon tea (!) that you shouldn’t miss.
Another location I LOVE is the Cape Grace – that’s on the harbor and walking distance to things, so nice with kids.
If you go on a Safari as we did go to Shamwari, and choose Eagles Crag. Fantastic.
Where to shop
Behind the Mt. Nelson is a great street with little stores, but my fave shopping in Cape Town were the markets. Hit MonkeyBiz, an amazing tiny shop with beaded animals – the women who own the store go out into the provinces and get the local ladies to bead these animals – they are then brought into town and sold and the money goes BACK to the artists in the provinces, as a way for them to support their families. Really cool project, and REALLY cool stuff. Last year they designed the windows at Barney’s NY with Monkeybiz art…incredible.
Also the BEST market (I think) was Woodstock – which is only on the weekend. Roadside art is pretty cool too – I bought a plastic chicken but wound up giving it away…I miss it sometimes…
What to pack
Depends on the time of year – check the weather. It can be brutally hot and also quite chilly, so check out the weather before you go.
What to bring home
DEFINITELY packed a ton of beaded animals, wine (!), and crafts from the V+A Waterfront market.
The Extra Stuff
Do you recommend any day trips?
I went to Table Mountain a few years ago and it was amazing — took about half a day, but well worth it. The view is incredible.
What were you listening to/reading while on the trip?
When I’m traveling, I’m mostly listening to old stuff like Elvis Costello, but I did listen to a bunch of Xxtentation, Khalid, Drake, and Cardi B etc. I wish Lizzo had been out — I would have been listening to THAT.
I was reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande – powerful stuff.
Tips & Tricks
I would definitely brace yourself and prepare for 2 long flights – you fly to Europe and then down to Cape Town, and even if you LOVE to fly (I do not) it’s long. I had books and magazines and a little work to do. I usually pack a travel candle and always bring a raincoat JUST in case the weather turns!
Give us your #1 travel hack
I would say the things I use most/bring/would share are a candle for the room (sometimes a room has a little smell, and if it’s bad enough, you move, but if it’s musty – light a candle. I like Jo Malone Lime Citrus or Grapefruit.
I usually set up my room the same everywhere I am, and make sure that you pack baggies in case you buy anything that could leak when you pack to go home!