The city is laid out against the dramatic backdrop of South Africa’s most recognised symbol – Table Mountain. Wake up early in the morning and climb Lions Head, a 2.2km trail with great views of the city and coastline. After breakfast, take the whistle-stop hop-on/hop-off bus tour for a quick orientation of the city. Hop-off and walk along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront browsing through craft markets, boutiques selling wine and cheese, and sit outdoors sipping a hot coffee and croissant, while street buskers charm you with their music and dance. Have lunch at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant in the One and Only Cape Town Hotel, where the IPL teams and owners stayed for a month. In the evening, head out to do some swish dining at a beach restaurant in the celeb-set suburb of Clifton or Camps Bay. Oh – and don’t forget to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain (just hope it’s a clear day and the winds are not too strong, else you will luck out.)
Spend the day, or even better a romantic weekend at a vineyard in the Franschoek Valley, just an hour north of Cape Town and set amidst some magnificent mountain scenery. Go on a wine-tasting trail, eat in award-winning restaurants, and explore the local village boutiques and galleries, where you and your cash are easily parted. It is also a good place to base yourself and visit the other wine growing areas of Stellenbosch and Paarl, known for their winning reds. The other hidden wine growing area is the Walker Bay area located off the coastal drive from Cape Town to Hermanus. Here are some of South Africa’s prized white wine country hidden off the tourist trail. Don’t forget to buy the Platter’s Guide to South African Wines before you return home.
Between June and November each year, hundreds of Southern Right whales come to the shores of the area around Hermanus. The whales come so close to shore, that there are several vantage points from where you can sit and watch them with a flask of hot coffee and a pair of binoculars. Further east along the Cape, is the town of Gaansbaai, famed for its great white shark populations. You do not need to know how to dive, and a short introduction is given to you before you don your wetsuit. It’s an experience of a lifetime – and if you have the courage (and the ability to hold onto your breakfast!), you must do it.
In contrast to popular perception, driving in South Africa is both a wonderful and safe way to see the country. With the exception of Johannesburg, other parts of the country such as Cape Town, the Winelands, the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth, and the Cape Coastal Route, are all fabulous places to drive. You can pick up your rental car from the airport through major companies, such as Hertz. Armed with a GPS, simple intuitive traffic rules, and right-hand driving (like in India), it’s a more affordable and independent way to see the city and the countryside. In particular, the one drive that should not be missed is the R44 from Strand towards Hermanus – which we rate as one of the best coastal routes in the world.
Spend 2-3 nights at a private game reserve or national park and experience the world’s most luxurious wildlife lodges. Fly on a bush plane to remote airstrips, go on game drives spotting South Africa’s big five mammals, and get romantic in your private pool villa while being pampered beyond your dreams. The wildlife in East Africa may be on a grander landscape, but nowhere can they give the luxury wildlife traveller a more complete experience than in the national parks and private reserves of South Africa. With the amazing conservation effort across the country, you can now have a wildlife experience irrespective of where you are.
Awarded as one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in South Africa, the Cape Floral Region is a narrow swathe of coastal vegetation stretching across the Western Cape with over 8,500 plant species (called fynbos in Afrikaan meaning ‘fine bush’), making it the hottest bio-diversity region in the world (for comparison, the entire United Kingdom has only 1490 species.) When you whiz past the Cape coastal countryside, don’t be fooled by its grey or dull green landscapes. Look closer and its treasures will be revealed. And there is no better place to see it all than at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a globally awarded responsible luxury lodge that is situated in the fynbos covered hills overlooking stunning Walker Bay. This 1750ha reserve with over 750 plant species specialises in introducing you to the botanical bio-diversity of the floral kingdom, while ensconcing you in probably the largest luxury villas in South Africa.