Southern comforts

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A surge in the value of the pound against the rand promises to give British travellers great value for their money in South Africa this winter.

That’s the view of Alisdair Luxmoore at Fleewinter Holidays, a small firm which began operations in South Africa by arranging self-catering holidays in Cape Town luxury villas.

Luxmoore says: “The rand has gone dramatically into reverse as prices of gold and other minerals have fallen quite sharply from their peak in recent weeks.

“The pound now goes about 25 per cent further than three or four weeks ago, so what cost £400 comes in at around £310 today. A good meal out, then £10 per head, is now closer to £8.”

Effectively, the rand is back at levels last seen about four or five years ago – good news for visitors from the UK.

According to the latest Post Office Travel Money survey, day-to-day living costs in South Africa for travellers from Britain are down 27 per cent in the past year – exceeded only by Sri Lanka, where prices dropped a third during the same period.

In its survey, South Africa emerges as the sixth-cheapest destination, based on prices in Cape Town, which include £1.24 for a coffee, £1.62 for a bottle of beer and £33.65 for a three-course meal for two with wine.

Luxmoore plays down concerns about personal safety in South Africa.

“There are key things to remember like avoiding townships after dark. We have incidents of cars broken into and laptops stolen, but hardly on the scale some stories might suggest.”

Current reductions from Fleewinter include a 14-night self-catering stay over Christmas at a three-bedroom villa in the popular Camps Bay area, which cost £7,500 in mid-September (or £1,250 each, for six sharing). That holiday has dropped by £620, so each person now pays £1,147, purely because of the altered exchange rate.

A typical Fleewinter package for UK travellers, tailored to individual requirement, includes a week’s self-catering in the Cape Town area, two nights on safari and four or five on the Garden Route. This 14-night package, costing around £2,000 plus flights a few weeks ago, is now nearer £1,500.

Operator Hayes & Jarvis offers four nights’ B&B in early December at the Cape Town Ritz from £799 (saving £125).

Commercial director Niel Alobaidi says: “South Africa has been one of our fastest growing destinations this year, after Mexico, Bali, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic.

“Besides discounts available on packages and self-drive trips, sterling currently buys almost 10 per cent more rand than last year, so holidaymakers find their pounds stretch much further.”