Tailormade Tours - South Africa

Westville, South Africa

A brilliant tour operator for bespoke South African adventures: you set the parameters, they'll plan your perfect trip
The thing about South Africa is that there's a dizzying amount to do there - and it's all unmissable. There's a reason why we go back, year after year and why it's one of our most popular destinations. It's a land of stunning natural beauty: glittering seas by white Cape beaches, the mighty Drakensberg mountains, the rolling green vineyards of the Winelands, the vast expanse of the Great Karoo and the safari-rich Kruger, all under a bright blue sky. It's on the same timezone if coming from the UK so there's no jetlag. The sun shines almost all year. For foodies, South Africa has unbelievably good restaurants with cutting edge chefs. It's brilliant value and you can eat like a king whilst not busting the budget. Their world-class wines just get better and better each year. If you're not into beaches or wildlife, it's has a culture, jam packed with fascinating history ajd politics.

But when there's so much to see and its such a huge county how do you choose what to prioritise? If you're only going to come here once, you want to get it right. Which is why we'd recommend you book a trip with our chosen ground operator, Tailormade Tours South Africa rather than stressing about the logistics yourself. They can arrange a package that includes as much or as little as you like (hotels, drivers and guides, activities, internal flights or your entire trip), and their suggested itineraries will help you get the most out of each region - away from the tourist hordes wherever possible.

Why we chose this partner

  • They've been operating since 2004, employ over 80 staff, including international expats and locals, are SATSA registered and members of ATTA member (African Travel and Tourism Association)
  • They're a full service partner meeting you off the plane and you'll have a 24 hr assist line at your fingertips
  • Like i-escape, they hand-pick the hotels and lodges they work with, so you can be confident of their standards - e.g. Phantom Forest, The Outpost and Grand Dedale
  • Their guides are Theta accredited, and specialists in their fields, be it wine, art, politics, botany or wildlife
  • You can choose to self-drive or be driven (they work with Avis on the ground, and you can choose your level of vehicle)

Please be aware

  • i-escape can only vouch for those properties which are featured and reviewed on our website. For other areas and accommodations, while we do trust our operator to provide the best options for your needs, you should make sure that you are happy with their suggestions before confirming
  • Bear in mind that you will need to book your own international flights. Also note that the guide prices exclude internal flights, since these costs vary, but your quote will include them.

Best time to go

As a country in the Southern Hemisphere, SA's seasons are the reverse of the north - with winter in June-August and summer December-February. The peak season is December-March when the Western Cape is at its hottest, driest and sunniest. School holidays (December 1 - mid January) are particularly busy - prices rise dramatically and early bookings are essential. Although wetter and cooler, winter in Cape Town is better than in the UK.

The best time to visit largely depends on what you plan to do:

Cape Town, Winelands, Garden Route: November-April
Game viewing: May-August, when it's dry in the east
East coast (Durban and KwaZulu Natal): June-August
Whale-watching: July-October
Flower displays: August-September
Northern deserts: August-September

Our top tips

Their expertise extends to neighbouring countries too. Victoria Falls, the Okavango Delta, South Luangwa National Park and the Mozambican islands can easily be combined with South Africa - all of these are a simple 2-hour flight from Johannesburg.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
Room:

Lodging

Accommodation in South Africa runs the whole gamut: boutique city hotels, friendly guesthouses, charming B&Bs, glamorous villa rentals, even beautiful tented lodges and quirky treehouses.

We've reviewed many of these in extensive detail, and you can request their inclusion in your itinerary. Otherwise, be guided by our operator, who will recommend properties to suit your budget and preferences.

Activities

Here are the things we loved on our many collective trips (most i-escape staff have been at least once):

  • The stunning landscapes and beautiful weather
  • Walking with wild rhino in the Great Karoo
  • Sitting on white-sand beaches watching surfers
  • Sampling world-class wines in Stellenbosch
  • Meeting cheetahs and their babies at Spier Wine Estate
  • Hiking up Table Mountain for sunset
  • Deep-sea fishing for enormous tuna
  • Long lunches in vineyard restaurants
  • Seeing whales breach in Walker Bay
  • Picnicking in Kirstenbosch Gardens

    Activities include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Boat trips
    • Fishing
    • Golf
    • Hiking
    • Horse-riding
    • Hot air ballooning
    • Kitesurfing
    • Mountain biking
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Safaris
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Scuba diving courses
    • Shark-cage diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Surfing
    • Swimming
    • Traditional cultures
    • Well being
    • Whalewatching
    • Wildlife
    • Windsurfing
    • Wine tasting
  • Activity:
    Kid Friendly:

    With Kids

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Children are welcome on all the tours, and outdoorsy kids will love all the wildlife, swimming, surfing and adventure sports (canopy tours, kayaking, you name it). Our ground operators have devised - with our input - a special Family Adventure tour aimed at families visiting SA for the first time, with minimal driving times. It takes in Cape Town (staying at self-catering apartments where you don't have to worry about disturbing other guests), the Garden Route (with options for whale watching, horse riding, wild cat and monkey spotting and more), and finally some malaria-free game viewing in Addo (at a lodge which offers special activities and animal tracking for little ones).

    Or you can ask to tweak any other tour to make it more fun for kids of your age/s. Do bear in mind that distances are big and temperatures can be high (especially in the Karoo), so don't be too ambitious - especially with younger kids or toddlers.

    Transport

    Whether you want a self-drive or a more guided experience, take a look at our sample itineraries for inspiration. These can be booked as they are, or tweaked to your requirements (different hotels, shorter duration etc).

    Most itineraries include an internal flight (which can be booked for you) to an airstrip in one of the game parks; you're transferred to the lodge and all game drives are organised for you (the driver acts as a guide, too). Note that the guide prices exclude internal flights, since these costs vary, but your quote will include them.

    If you're just visiting Cape Town - Garden Route - Addo, you can easily self-drive: the roads are safe, and Brits will be pleased to know you drive on the left.

    Transport:

    Our guests' ratings...

    This operator has not yet been reviewed by guests

    Itineraries