Samantha West, CEO of South Africa Travel & Tours always knew that travel would be part of her future. Having herself grown up in South Africa, she was exposed to a variety of cultures and diverse landscapes which gave her an initial interest in connecting with different backgrounds and seeing the world through a different lens. One of her favorite childhood memories is hiking along the rugged, wild coast of South Africa at age 9 with her dad and three brothers. Her travel love-affair would later extend to countries around the world when at 23, she gave up her job and house to live in Holland for a year to experience a different way of life.
Eventually, travel would also allow her children to have a global perspective outside their life in the United States. It would become not only her chosen career path but something that bound her family together through a shared experience.
Travel continues to be an infatuation for Samantha with current bucket list places including Greece, Botswana, Kenya, and the Maldives. However, South Africa will always remain a place like no other for Samantha and is a place she wants to showcase to the rest of the world.
South Africa Travel & Tours has allowed her to provide her clients with an incredible once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. Having spent 39 years in South Africa before living abroad and having traveled extensively within the country, she has an in-depth knowledge of what experience will work well for a particular individual or family. She has an intimate familiarity with the country, having seen the evolution and progress of South Africa from the dismantlement of Apartheid (a feat she is proud to have witnessed). She now creates tours to South Africa using her first-hand experience and allowing travelers to enjoy the abundance her home country has to offer including its culture, diversity, hospitality, sightseeing, and history.
When your friends from Massachusetts fly in, what are your favorite places to show them?
Wine estates. The great restaurants that South Africa has to offer. The food in South Africa is of such a high standard.
What’s the wildest experience you’ve had on safari?
Being rushed by an elephant.
South Africa is home to you, but what country do you love to play tourist in when you’re not working?
Italy was my dream destination for ten years. After finally convincing my husband to travel to travel Italy with two small kids we have returned many times since our initial trip. As a result of my love for Italy, I have very few places on my bucket list.
What cultural activities to you genuinely enjoy in South Africa? Museums? Galleries?
Interactive museums that have historical meaning.
Your absolute favorite place to sip a glass of stellar South African wine?
On the outdoor terrace at Ernie Els wine estate.
Favorite thing to do on a rainy day in Cape Town / Johannesburg / Durban?
Snuggle up on the couch overlooking the ocean.
When you want to get out on your own, what are you go-to solo spots? (Restaurants, bars, attractions, beaches, or hikes?)
My favorite solo spot is the Rosebank Flea Market; it has such a local vibe The Sandton Mall, some of my fondest memories I recall are dining out with my friends and shopping. Something I love to do to de-stress.
Where is your favorite spot to stay for a beachfront vacation in South Africa? Why?
Camps Bay in Camp Town. I don’t think there is anything that can compare with the beauty of Camps Bay.
What’s your favorite festival to hit with friends in South Africa? What makes it great to experience with a group?
When you’re shopping in South Africa, is there any particular item you have to “stock up on” before you go home?
Where do I start? I usually bring an empty suitcase to load up on all my favorite items- Rooibos tea, South Africa spices. I only cook with South African spices.
Is Kruger National Park the best spot for a safari or is it worth it to visit a smaller, less trafficked park?
I love Kruger, but I personally have TWO favorites. Kapama is near and dear to me, it was my first safari experience with my husband, and it will always hold an extraordinary place in my heart. We just recently visited Londolozi and was blown away by the service and attention to detail. Absolutely amazing.
After a day of tours in Cape Town, what’s the best local happy hour spot to unwind?
The 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa.
If I wanted to head to Durban, can you recommend a waterfront hotel that’s in the middle of all the action?
The Beverley Hills Hotel is a firm favorite. It overlooks the water and is close to all the amenities that a traveler requires.
I’m staying in Johannesburg and have a rental car for one day. Where should I go?
Soweto and the Apartheid museum – so much history encapsulated in a 6-hour tour.
What are your absolute favorite spots to dine in Cape Town? The places you visit every time without fail? Why?
My favorite spots to dine while in South Africa is Pigalle restaurant. The best seafood restaurant I have eaten at. Tashas for the best breakfast and coffee.
What is one thing that you wish everyone knew about South Africa?
South Africa people are the most hospitable people I have ever met.
Ready to check South Africa off of your bucket list? Let plan your next adventure.