The country’s second largest city, Cape Town, voted by the New York Times as the number one city to visit in 2014, commands a spectacular setting, with the towering silhouette of Table Mountain on one side and the infinite horizon of the Atlantic on the other. The four white sand beaches of Clifton, separated by huge boulders of surf-polished granite, fill with sun-loving youngsters and families on warm days. But those who want to swim are better off at Sea Point Pavilion, whose art deco seawater pools are considerably warmer than the icy swells of the ocean. Out beyond the waves prized by surfers, whales appear in the austral springtime, slowly making their way to Walker Bay. In the calm waters off the small town of Hermanus, they calf and stay a few weeks to nurse their young — a fascinating spectacle, so near that their spouting can be heard from the shore.
The early morning sun shines on a red dirt road. The Cape Province stirs quietly to life. The unique light of Africa heightens the colors, caresses the coats of the grazing horses, accentuates the jagged outlines of the sandstone ridges… In the Cederberg Mountains, the caves conceal artistic treasures: rock paintings by the Khoikhoi people. These scrub-covered slopes are the only place in the world where rooibos grows. The leaves of this acacia-like shrub are used to make “bush tea,” a bright red infusion drunk with sugar and a dollop of milk.
Further east, the landscape is smoother. With its rocky soil, mild winters and dry, hot summers, the mountainous Boland region offers ideal conditions for growing grapes, introduced here by the earliest Dutch colonists and developed by French Huguenots who arrived in the late 17th century. This chapter in South Africa’s history lives on in Franschhoek (“French corner”), where the wine estates have names like Grande Provence and Chamonix. Bastille Day is celebrated here with a pétanque (lawn bowling) tournament, even though the last descendants of the French, as firmly rooted here as their vines, consider themselves South Africans. The vineyards stretch out as far as the eye can see. From Stellenbosch to the outskirts of Cape Town, the perfectly aligned rows of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay bear witness to the winemakers’ devotion. The reds are fruity and potent and some of the semi-sweet whites are exceptional, like Vin de Constance, which Napoleon had shipped all the way to Saint Helena.
Hotel and restaurant in town. On the outskirts of Johannesburg, in the chic, cosmopolitan suburb of Atholl, this small boutique hotel welcoming families and children of all ages, offers timeless charm and elegance. The spacious rooms are designed in a warm blend of neutral and natural shades, wood and wicker, contemporary furniture and pieces of African design. Depending on the time of day, guests can enjoy the large pool under the shade of palm trees, or the quiet of the delightful library, with its open fire. The landscaped gardens surrounding the lovely house simply add to one’s feeling of serenity and offer a secluded, romantic setting where guests can lounge at leisure, enjoy a drink or dine, and maybe experience some of the best shopping and cultural attractions. ... Learn moreless
Lodge and restaurant in a game reserve. In the heart of the private Kapama reserve, this camp is named after the first baby elephant adopted by the owners, followed by other orphaned elephants from Zimbabwe. This lodge is a sanctuary for animals and a marvellous refuge for travellers in search of an authentic experience. The deluxe suites and the presidential Zindoga Villa open onto their own private outdoor pool overlooking the dry riverbed. Explore the bush on foot, by vehicle or on the back of an elephant to spot the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes and elephants. Experience unforgettably unique moments, enhanced by attentive service and sophisticated cuisine. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Perched on the slopes of the magnificent Stellenbosch mountains, the Delaire Graff offers sweeping views across the estate’s vineyards. An idyllic setting for relaxation, because every lodge has its own private plunge pool. The décor skilfully blends indigenous influences and contemporary design, complemented by works of South African artists. Here, guests delight in heartfelt hospitality and taste exceptional cuisine accompanied by wines from the estate. The spa offers an exclusive range of sophisticated treatments. In the evening you can watch the sun set over Table Mountain or languish in the private cinema. Time spent here is all about relaxing and indulging. ... Learn moreless
Lodge and restaurant in a game reserve. The property is named after the lofty trees which lend it their shade in the heart of the Madikwe reserve, one of the largest in South Africa. Three exclusive-use villas accommodate families and groups of friends who want to share some special time together, far from everything and be able to do as they please.Fishing, bird watching, walking or simply relaxing beside the pool which overflows into the bush – people are free to enjoy activities dreamt up just for them, and for all ages. The stone and timber villas are superbly decorated, and open out onto immaculately preserved luxuriant nature. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. The Marine Hermanus is one of the southern hemisphere’s most spectacular seaside properties. Perched on the cliffs of Hermanus’ Walker Bay, it overlooks one of South Africa’s finest whale sanctuaries and offers the unique opportunity to experience the finest whale watching from the comfort of your sea view room. Only a stone’s throw away is one of the best locations to see the endangered great white shark. Every aspect of this owner-managed property has been given great attention, from the personal service to the exceptional cuisine in both The SeaFood at The Marine and The Pavilion Restaurants. Enjoy sundowners in the Sun Lounge and relax in the Carchele Beauty Spa. ... Learn moreless
Lodge and restaurant in a game reserve. Only 270 km from Cape Town, located in the Cederberg Mountains, this natural haven of wide open plains and rugged rock formations allows one to surrender one's senses, while reconnecting with nature. This retreat is recognized for its splendid accommodation and facilities, authentic South African cuisine and generous hospitality. With over 130 rock art sites of ancient Bushman paintings, dating from ten thousand years ago and abundant flora and fauna, this malaria and predator-free wilderness sanctuary is a magical playground, ideal for restoring, mind and spirit. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in town. Located in Cape Town’s historical Constantia Valley, on the breath-taking slopes of Table Mountain, all the rooms and suites of The Cellars-Hohenort boast panoramic views of the impressive mountain and the beautiful grounds. Set in 9.5 acres of gardens, this historic and beautiful country escape is only a 15 minute drive from the centre of Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city, famous for its incomparable scenery, cuisine and wines. Back at the hotel, the gourmet cuisine of the talented young Chef Peter Tempelhoff at The Greenhouse focuses on regional flavours with modern interpretations. All of this is the result of owner Liz McGrath’s more than 20 years of hard work, love and endless inspiration. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Situated in the heart of one of the most exclusive suburbs, Bantry Bay, just ten minutes away from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and in walking distance to the Clifton and Camps Bay beaches, this elegant Edwardian mansion overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you choose the opulent atmosphere of Ellerman House or the modern style of its villas, you too will fall under the spell of this address that combines all the pleasures of Cape Town. Enjoy the gourmet cuisine, tasting fine vintage wines and surveying the impressive private art collection, plus a view of the Atlantic Ocean that is quite simply spectacular. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. The Plettenberg, situated on a rocky headland in Africa’s most spectacular coastal resort town, is the ultimate escape. With views of the ocean, mountains and endless stretches of golden beach, The Plettenberg is situated in the heart of the adventure-rich Garden Route. This region is world-renowned for its excellent selection of outdoor activities, from dolphin and whale sightings to bungee jumping, treetop canopy tours and other exhilarating pursuits. The charming service, superb cuisine and the setting of this hotel combine to create the ultimate story, one of a South African seaside property unlike any other. ... Learn moreless
Lodge and restaurant in a game reserve. This Private Game Reserve, endorsed by Nelson Mandela, is situated in the heart of the Sabi Sand game reserve. It is everything Africa ought to be – pulsing with the deep rhythm of the untamed Bushveld. The Reserve has been family run for 89 years where the fourth generation of the Varty Family welcomes you to this lodge situated in perfect harmony with the environment. It consists of three camps – Tree, Pioneer and The Private Granite Suites on the banks of the Sand River. The style is elegant and chic with the class of history. The cuisine highlights fresh, local ingredients and is served with flair surrounded by nature. ... Learn moreless