An African golf adventure to South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Zambia

Karen Country Club in Kenya

By A Travel Caddie golf buddy . . .

To escape the worst of the Northern Hemisphere winter, I decided to join the ‘snowbirds’ and headed south.

As an African who now lives in Ireland, I am always yearning for more time at ‘home’ but having never explored much beyond the southern tip of this vast continent I was excited to be returning to South Africa as well as spending time in Namibia, Zambia and Kenya, three countries I’ve always wanted to visit.

A long stop in South Africa

For the first two months, my base for my digital nomad ‘working with a view’ lifestyle was the picturesque seaside town of Knysna in the heart of South Africa’s Garden Route. A renowned region for golf, it’s where my wife and I enjoyed the great restaurants, beaches and laid-back coastal lifestyle. 

The region is dotted with some of South Africa’s finest golf courses including Fancourt, George, Simola and Pezula. The cost of golf, food and wonderful South African wine is a fraction of the cost in the USA and the friendly service is second to none, making the long stay in the area even more appealing.

From Knysna we headed down the Garden Route to spend a week in Cape Town, truly one of the great cities of the world. In addition to the amazing coastal drives and vibrant social scene, I played at De Zalze, one of my favorite courses in the Winelands just outside of the city. The historic Winelands area is where my Huguenot forebears ended up having fled from the persecution in France. Visiting the region serves to remind me that virtually everyone is from an immigrant background in one way or another.

De Zalze

Stops in Namibia and Zambia

Having thoroughly enjoyed our time in South Africa, it was time to start heading north to explore new countries and play golf courses I’ve had my eye on for many years. The first stop was in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, with a day spent enjoying the excellent bars and restaurants and playing at the Camelthorn-tree lined Omeya GC, which was a nice round.

Our next round of golf was at Rossmund GC in Swakopmund on one of the world’s true desert courses. The course was in good condition and our game was played in the company of hundreds of spectators – herds of elegant Springbok antelope, making the experience even more enjoyable.

Playing golf in Namibia can be a worthwhile experience, given the presence of a few decent courses that harmonize with the unique essence of this beautiful country. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the condition of these courses can vary significantly, influenced by factors such as rainfall and other weather conditions. Those seeking flawlessly manicured fairways, pristine greens, and top-notch facilities may find Namibia’s offerings fall short of expectations. Although the courses in Namibia may not boast world-class standards, they are still worth playing for golfers seeking to explore this distinctive destination.

Next up was Zambia, whilst not renowned as a golf destination, Zambia captivates visitors with its main attractions: Victoria Falls, world-class safaris, and an excellent golf resort in Lusaka. What a thrilling safari experience we had in Zambia in the lush South Luangwa National Park where low-impact tourism means you can experience the untamed wilderness without the crowds. We saw a pack of wild dogs chase an impala, which tried to escape but ran headlong into a swamp. It escaped the dogs but unfortunately fell into the jaws of a crocodile. It did not end well for the poor impala.

No visit to the region is complete without witnessing the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, we enjoyed a flight over the Falls in a helicopter, dinner on a steam train parked on the bridge over the gorge and a sunset cruise, as well as the joy of walking alongside the Falls whilst getting drenched by the spray. I don’t know how many times I’ve visited the Falls but it’s always as awe inspiring as the first time!!

Elephant Hills GC at Victoria Falls is a Gary Player-designed course, whilst it is in need of maintenance, still provides great bragging rights to having played at a course on the banks of the Zambezi just upstream from the Falls.

We had a few days in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, and the highlight was the excellent Bonanza Golf Course at Ciela, a boutique hotel renowned for its elegant accommodations and great service. We used Ciela as a base to explore the city and to play at Lusaka Golf Club, a well-designed layout in the heart of the city.

In summary, Namibia and Zambia offer captivating experiences for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike, from the surreal beauty of Namibia’s deserts to Zambia’s untamed wilderness and majestic Victoria Falls. While golf may not be the primary draw, both countries provide unique courses amidst breathtaking landscapes, ensuring memorable experiences for travelers seeking to explore these distinctive destinations.

Elephant Hills

A trip to Kenya

Our final stop on our epic journey was to Kenya, the home of safari! Embarking on a safari adventure in Kenya offers an unparalleled journey into the heart of Africa’s iconic landscapes and wildlife habitats, coupled with superb golfing opportunities amidst breathtaking scenery. From the vast savannahs of the Maasai Mara to the stunning coastline along the Indian Ocean, Kenya’s fusion of golf and safari experiences creates a holiday like no other.

In Nairobi, I played at Karen Country Club and Windsor GC and visited Muthaiga Golf Club, all superb courses offering challenging layouts amidst lush greenery and city skyline views. Outside of Nairobi, along the route to Lake Nakuru National Park, we stopped at the Great Rift Valley Lodge & Golf Resort for a round overlooking Lake Naivasha. The golf course was superb and the hotel very good, albeit a bit like going back in time.

We flew to the Maasai Mara and had a few days on safari. The vast African plains of so many movies and documentaries unfolded in front of us and the game viewing was superb.

On the Kenya Coast, I enjoyed leisurely rounds at Vipingo Ridge and Nyali Golf & Country Club and had a few days on a sun lounger to relax and reflect on what was a truly wonderful and memorable adventure. As someone who’s life involves arranging luxury golf holidays, I learnt a huge amount and look forward to sharing my knowledge with those who want to make their next golf holiday a truly life-changing experience.

Muthaiga Golf Club