Destinations in South Africa
Cape TownGlorious beaches and soaring mountains frame this thriving city built on the foothills of Table Mountain, along the edge of the Atlantic.
Garden Route & WinelandsIf variety is the spice of life, this swathe of South Africa has to be one of the spiciest spots on earth.
HermanusAt the southernmost tip of Africa, the seaside town of Hermanus sees one of the continent’s most amazing natural spectacles when, for several months a year, Southern Right whales come to calve around beautiful Walker Bay.
JohannesburgThis 'City of Gold' has suffered from a tarnished image in recent years but Johannesburg, built on the fabulous mineral wealth beneath the veld, is beginning to recapture its glitter.
Kruger National ParkThis exhilarating and accessible Eden – which still bears traces of Stone Age secrets – promises stylish lodges and classic 1900s-style camps, in addition to spine-tingling encounters with wildlife.
Madikwe Game ReserveLooking out over the Madikwe Game Reserve, it’s hard to imagine this vast stretch of protected bushveld was once poor, arid farmland. Following a massive animal translocation project in the Nineties, its 75,000 hectares are now teeming with wildlife.
Marakele National ParkMarakele National Park is a landscape of towering mountains, grass-clad hills and fertile riverbeds. Part of the Waterberg Biosphere, its Tswana name means sanctuary: this malaria-free expanse of bushveld is now home to an impressive variety of wildlife.
Nicknamed the ‘City of Gold, South Africa’s capital is built on the mineral wealth beneath the veld. The hosting of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 gave Jo’burg a new lease of positive life and kicked this city into our consciousnessses as a hub of cool culture and stylish clubs and bars.
Spotting the signature safari stars is de rigeur in South Africa and the Big Five roll call includes rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo. Less shouted about, but often just as fascinating, are the Little Five. The buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle are all much tinier than the big beasts after which they’re named, but well worth getting up close and personal with via any of our safari hotels. For the ultimate souvenir, stay at Marataba and enlist the services of wildlife photographer Pete Oxford to ensure you get the ultimate mementoes of your trip.
If you like your beaches powder soft and free of people, seek out Oudekraal Beach between Llandudno and Camps Bay in the Western Cape. If it’s naturists you’re keen to be among, Sandy Bay even invites you to strip off. Like most Cape Town beaches, the water along here is chilly, but think of it as refreshing. If that still sends shivers, the water on the False Bay coast is a fraction warmer than on the Atlantic side. You should only swim in areas designated by the lifeguards. Over to the east of Plettenberg Bay, Nature’s Valley has a huge, jaw-droppingly gorgeous stretch of sand, which you may well have all to yourself.
Dip into Johannesburg’s vibrant art scene with a spin in Wits Art Museum which is the reincarnation of a former petrol station, a car showroom and a dental school. Down south, The South African National Art Gallery, part of Cape Town's Iziko Museums, features impressive collections ranging from colonial to contemporary art. But we adore Rodwell House for its own private collection of 20th-century South African masters which covers the walls of this St James mansion.
Whether you’re looking up from a luxury safari camp or on the terrace of a city slicker, South Africa’s skies at night will leave you star struck. The vast open plains of most game reserves are made for admiring what’s above as well as all around, but Royal Malewane makes it especially breath stealing. Graze on the best tucker in the bush such as springbok carpaccio with pickled quail eggs either by candlelight in the boma, or around the campfire. (Supper aside, all of the Singita Lodges organise stargazing safaris too.)
Stray 10 miles south of Cape Town's city centre into the leafy cloud-cloaked hillside suburb of Constantia and follow the historic wine route past 17th-century manor houses. Rosé, white, red and bubbly win awards for some of the smaller winemakers, but the cooler temperatures here make it especially ideal for sauvignon blancs to flourish. We say, seek out under-the-radar labels, such as the small batches produced by Beau Constantia.
Drive from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in the east, and the N2 takes you from city along the coast, via the Winelands. Meet lesser-known winemakers behind this region’s award-winning Bordeaux blends and elegant chenin blancs. Then, after a restful night’s sleep, get behind the wheel to wend your way sedate seaside towns where you can pause to take in the wildlife in inspiring landscapes. Since Knysna and Plett have drawn many artists to settle here, artisan workshops displaying the fruits of their looms, pottery wheels and palettes are also begging to be browsed.
Getting to this town south of the Garden Route, two hours from Cape Town, involves one of the most spectacular drives on the globe. For several months a year, Southern Right Whales come to calve around Walker Bay. And Hermanus has a grandstand view. Within easy reach is Cape L’Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.
Eco-chic Peech Hotel in the Melrose area of Joburg wows with its grounds. Its seasonal kitchen garden is the source of the fresh organic herbs, fruits and vegetables, that make the bistro’s Modern French menu so mouth-wateringly appealing. (Schoone Oordt and Rodwell House are no slouches in the home-growing locavore department either.)
At La Residence, this 30-acre working farm lets you sip the bounty of its beautiful Franschhoek Valley setting in true splendour. Tastings don’t get more exclusive than with the award-winning sommelier in the romantic private cellar of this château-style estate. Oenophiles will appreciate the double-volume, glass-fronted wine cellar at Ten Bompas, one of Joburg’s smartest addresses. It contains several thousand bottles of South African vintages and a large collection of auction wine purchased each year at the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction in Stellenbosch.