Life during the pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Plans needed to be changed and for a long-time travel was inaccessible for most of us. But it also gave us an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of our own country and the hidden gems within it.
Maps has been featured in campaigns around the world, and when asked how he was dealing with life in lockdown, he said that even though he had to forego a lot of international opportunities, it gave him more time for some introspection.
He said, “It was an opportunity to rediscover who I am in every sense of the word. I was able to just sit and be with myself and start to really get to grips with who I am again. I realised so much about myself as a result.”
Maps has travelled extensively across the country for work and for leisure. During this time when travel is still restricted, we’re encouraged to support local businesses. He compiled a list of his top 5 destinations:
1. Cheetah Plains: Sabi Sand Lodge
The first place that pops into his mind in the luxurious Cheetah Plains in Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The Plains Houses are exclusive accommodation within the reserve which offers a private eco-luxe safari experience.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal, it’s an incredible space and property with the most wonderful wildlife. From the accommodation and the staff right down to the food, the whole experience is six-star excellence,” says Maps.
2. Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat: Clanwilliam
Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat is found at the foot of the Cederberg mountain. Offering a range of stunning rooms, suites and a villa, restaurants that serve Cape Cuisine, wine tastings, high teas, there are plenty of reasons to put this on your bucket list.
“It is such a wonderful experience, being immersed in nature. You also get to taste the excellent food, which is a fine-dining, farm-to-table kind of menu at the restaurant. Once again, wonderful staff, great game drives to go on, almost Neo-Victorian, classic accommodation and a place I’d definitely recommend,” Maps said.
3. Ellerman House: Bantry Bay, Cape Town
Ellerman House is every art-lovers’ dream. Situated in the middle of Cape Town, it offers guests a gorgeous respite from the humdrum as well as a cultural experience. With delicious meals, a well-stocked wine cellar and thirteen individually styled rooms, it’s a luxury hotel you simply have to visit.
Maps comments, “It has one of the biggest art collections in the country. The walls are adorned with South African art. I’m a big lover of arts as I’ve been collecting for many years and when I go there, it really is like absolute paradise. I can literally look at the walls for hours. It’s just so special and has one of the most incredible wine cellars as well that will whet your appetite and are perfect accompaniments to your meals.”
4. Fazenda Luxury Retreat & Farm: Swellendam
Situated in the historical Hermitage valley, Fazenda is a beautiful and peaceful farm that has 3 luxury mountain cabins overlooking the stunning dam. A self-catering retreat, it’s the perfect getaway for a tranquil and isolated vacation.
“You can’t hear a thing besides the nearby cows, chickens and goats. You have these wonderful picturesque sceneries all around you and can go for incredible hikes. It’s just bliss. if you want to be somewhere to truly recharge, switch off and be out of any kind of city life or not bump into any other people at all, it will just be you and your partner there. It’s the perfect way to escape from everything and explore a part of South Africa that very few people know about,” says Maps.
5. Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa – Welgevonden Game Reserve
This five-star private safari lodge allows you to feel as if you are part of nature while still living in luxury within the Limpopo Province.
“It’s just really well-designed and you have a little pool right on the porch of your room where you stay. It’s so great! Some elephants actually come to the pool and just sip some water and carry on. You really feel as if you’re a part of nature,” says Maps.
Photos courtesy of Maps Maponyane.