The beautiful cosmopolitan city of Cape Town is the perfect introduction to a luxury vacation in South Africa. The city offers an eclectic mix of historic sites, gorgeous scenery, rich culture, world-class shopping and diverse offerings to suit every traveller.
Start at the top, by hiking or catching the Cable Car to the top of iconic Table Mountain to take in the view. Catch the ferry across to Robben Island and step into history, by visiting the cell where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned – a great introduction into the history of the Rainbow Nation. Then visit the District Six Museum to learn about the Apartheid years. For art lovers, the Zeitz MOCCA Museum showcases the best in contemporary African art with world-class exhibitions.
Take a tour of the peninsula along the scenic Chapmans Peak Drive to Cape Point, stopping off to see the penguins at Boulders Beach. Learn about the beauty of the smallest and most diverse plant kingdom’s – fynbos while visiting the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Perhaps learn to surf at surfers’ corner on Muizenburg Beach. Take a walk around the colourful houses of the historic Bo Kaap and learn about the culture and history of the Malay people.
Relax on the sandy white beaches of popular Clifton and Camps Bay. The Waterfront offers international standard shopping, a range of popular restaurants, fascinating shops selling all kinds of curios and there are interesting tours of the harbour which depart from here.
A luxury vacation in Cape Town would not be complete without enjoying fabulous food. Globally, Cape Town has been emerging as a foodie hotspot. Dine-in style at some of the best restaurants in the World. Be inspired by the flavours of the unique Cape Malay cuisine while trying a curry or koeksisters. Many great food markets are offering local produce and tasty treats such as the Biscuit Mill or Neighbourhood Goods Market. South Africa’s oldest wine-growing region, the Groot Constantia Wine Route falls within the city suburbs and is a wonderful introduction into the country’s winemaking roots.
The Cape Winelands is South Africa’s renowned wine-producing region, lying about 50 km (31 miles) from the city of Cape Town. Spend a couple of days visiting small boutique wineries during your vacation in the company of an expert local sommelier. Discover grape varieties unique to South Africa, such as Pinotage. There are several different wine routes, some closer to Cape Town and some further out. There are over a thousand wine producers in South Africa.
Contstantia Wine Route
The closest wine route to the city centre, the Constantia wine route lies in the suburbs of Cape Town the oldest wine estates in the country such as Groot Constantia. This estate produces world-renowned wines and has been doing so for a long time. Their Vin de Constance dessert wine was such a favourite of Napoleon Bonaparte, that he had it shipped to him in exile on St Helena Island. There are seven wine estates on the route, and it can be easily incorporated into a Cape Point tour.
There are several different regions for cultivating grapes within a short drive of Cape Town. The major towns give their names to these different routes. The most well-known is Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa. It has beautiful Cape Dutch architecture and is famous for its world-renowned university. There are many vibrant art galleries which showcase local and international artists to explore, cafes to stop and have a refreshing coffee and a bite to eat. Surrounding the town are many different vineyards and wineries forming the Stellenbosch wine route. There are 148 wine farms along the route, many of them historical farms with beautiful Cape Dutch manors houses, gardens, hotels and fine-dining restaurants.
The town of Franschhoek takes its name from the French Huguenots who settled the area in the 17th century and brought their winemaking skills with them. This heritage can be explored at the Huguenot Monument and the Huguenot Memorial Museum. Franschhoek is known as the gourmet capital of South Africa with several global award-winning restaurants such as La Petite Colombe, Reubens and more.
It is a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains and verdant farmlands. There are many French-inspired wine estates to visit such as La Motte, Champagne, La Cotte, Cabrière and La Provence. Other popular activities include picnics at Boschendal, a beautiful old estate or exploring the vineyards by bike and Segway.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve
The Sabi Sands is one of South Africa’s best-known private game reserve which shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park. It is home to some of the most exclusive luxury safari lodges in the country. The quality of guiding is excellent, and the region is known for the quality of its wildlife sightings, especially leopards. The animals are well habituated to safari vehicles and are very relaxed, resulting in incredible photographic opportunities.
No day visitors are allowed in the Sabi Sands, so guests at these luxury lodges are assured an exclusive private safari experience with exceptional game viewing. The Sabi Sands offers a range of award-winning luxury lodges to suit all tastes from small lodges perfect for a honeymoon to family-friendly lodges.
Lodges in the Sabi Sands have some of the best trained and most knowledgeable safari guides in southern Africa. They freely share stories of life in the bush and interpret what is happening during the animal interactions you may witness on your safari. One of the advantages of booking a safari in the Sabi Sands is that game drive vehicles can drive off-road during game drives, which means you get an up-close and intimate wildlife experience.
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park and the private game reserve concessions around it are South Africa’s premier safari destination. It is one of Africa’s oldest conservation areas, founded in 1926. Over the years several farms around it have become private game reserves, many of which share an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. The park is one of the largest conservation areas in Africa. It stretches 360 km (220 mi) long in northern South Africa, along the border with Mozambique.
The park is densely populated with different wildlife. Guests may not see herds of wildebeest and zebra on the scale of East Africa, but they will see a much greater variety of wildlife due to the many different ecological zones found here. The southern regions of the park are well known as one of the last refuges for endangered white and black rhino. The central savannahs are home to prides of lions and many species of antelope. The northern reaches of the park are more densely vegetated and are home to herds of elephants and buffalos. That said, there is a great diversity of wildlife sighted throughout the park.
The national park was established for tourism and conservation reasons in the 1930s. There is an extensive network of tar and dirt roads, as well as campsites and chalets, making this a popular self-drive destination. Most of the lodges and accommodation are found in the Greater Kruger region, in the private reserves, or the towns on the outskirts including White River and Hazyview. These lodges and accommodations can arrange day game viewing trips into the Kruger National Park, where guests are sure to have incredible game viewing experiences.
Johannesburg and Pretoria
Johannesburg, often called Egoli meaning “the city of gold” by locals due to the rich deposits of gold which is mined there. The region is home to some of the deepest mines on the planet, many which are kilometres deep. Guests can get a glimpse into this mining history by visiting the Gold Reef City theme park. The city is the financial hub of southern Africa, and many businesses are based in an area called Sandton, one of the wealthiest places on the continent. Johannesburg stretches over most of the province called Gauteng and is one of the most urbanised areas in South Africa.
Guests generally incorporate a visit to the Apartheid museum to learn about South Africa’s oppressive past, struggle for freedom and reconciliation. They tour the nearby township of Soweto and acronym for South West Townships which was home to the black and coloured peoples during segregated years of Apartheid. Soweto is the only place in the world, where two Nobel prize winners lived on one street – Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Visitors can also head out to Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves where fossils of early hominid species have been found which have supported theories of the evolution of humans.
One of South Africa’s three state capitals and considered the capital city of South Africa is the city of Pretoria. It is the seat of the executive government. The others are Cape Town (legislative) and Bloemfontein (judicial). The city is renowned of its streets lined with Jacaranda trees which carpet the roads in mauve fallen flowers in spring each year.
Highlights on a day tour of Pretoria include visiting the Voortrekker Monument to learn about the history of the Afrikaans people in South Africa. Another attraction is the Union Buildings for their beautiful architecture by Sir Herbert Baker, it is the seat of the government in South Africa.
South Africa’s Garden Route is a beautiful stretch of coastline in the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces including beautiful coastal towns such as Wilderness, George, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. It lies about 3 – 5 hours from Cape Town. The route passes through ancient yellowwood forests, beautiful mountain ranges, plunging ravines and stunning stretches of coastline. Large stretches are covered by fynbos a type of flora which is one of the most diverse of the plant kingdom. Including time in the Garden Route during a vacation, allows guests to explore this diverse region. It is one of the best areas in the country for adventure travellers.
Guests can take the plunge off the highest bungee jump in the world at Storm’s River Bridge. Take to the trees and enjoy the treetop canopy walk through the forests at Tsitsikamma. Go white-water rafting at Storms River. Explore one of the world’s largest underground caverns in the Cango Cave system. The whole route has arts and crafts shops with many artisans and painters who are inspired by living here. There are lovely food markets at places like Sedgefield which sells delicious fresh local produce.
The beautiful town of Knysna is world-famous for its picturesque lagoon, delicious oysters and the highly endangered endemic Knysna seahorse. Visitors can enjoy a ferry or boat ride on the lagoon to see the Knysna Heads. Nearby guests can go to Oudshoorn which is called the ostrich capital of the world as many of the world’s largest birds are farmed there. In fact, in the 19th century, many fortunes were founded on the production of ostrich feathers.
This diverse region offers something for all kinds of travellers, from secluded romantic getaways to adventure experiences and great malaria-free family vacations.
The East Coast of South Africa has the warm currents of the Indian Ocean running past its shores, warm golden beaches and a tropical climate. While Cape Town has beautiful beaches, its waters are from the very cold Atlantic Ocean. Many South Africans and international guests enjoy a beach holiday in KwaZulu Natal. The regional hub is the city of Durban which has always had a laid-back vibe.
Beyond the beach, a few hundred kilometres inland lies the dramatic Drakensberg Mountain range. The range stretches for over 1000kilometers and has the highest peak in South Africa at 3,482 m. Its name comes from the Afrikaans and means Dragon’s Teeth. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its ecological and cultural significance to the region. There are many overhangs which contain rock art paintings of the region’s earliest inhabitants. Many guests hike to see the famous Amphitheatre formed by the Mont Aux Sources massif. The rolling foothills are vibrant green and reminiscent of rural England with many interesting small towns.
KwaZulu Natal is also the province where some of South Africa’s bloodiest battles were fought. Guests can travel the Battlefields Route. The battle of Blood River is famous as 600 Afrikaans Voortrekkers avenged the death of their leader Piet Retif by defeating a force of 1200 Zulu warriors which were considered to be the best warriors on the continent. The British were crushed by the Zulu army at the Battle of Isandlwana. Other battles at Rorkes Drift, Ladysmith and Spionkop are also brought to life by expert local guides.
The northern region of Kwazulu Natal is known for the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its biological diversity. It is in the waters off this coast that living dinosaur fish called the Coelacanth was found. It is a beautiful region. Guests can take to the lakes which are home to one of the largest crocodile populations in Africa.
KwaZulu Natal also has many celebrated game reserves. There is also the Hluhluwe National Park which is recognised for its efforts to brink southern rhinos back from extinction during the last century. The rugged terrain makes game viewing a challenge, but many sightings of rhino are guaranteed. Some of the country’s best game reserves are found here, including Phinda, Tanda Tanda, Nambiti and Tula Tula.
South Africa’s Eastern Cape is often called a frontier country. It was the first region settled by Afrikaner Vortrekekers who were fleeing English oppression in the Cape. The small town’s of the region are charming and there is much history to discover. The town of Mkanda formerly Grahamstown is internationally recognised for its yearly arts and drama festival and is where renowned Rhodes University is located. The province is a wonderful place to enjoy homestays and learn about Xhosa culture.
The region is where the Addo Elephant National Park is found. Addo is a national park, which has the biggest population of elephant for the size of park in South Africa and excellent sightings are guaranteed.
There are many excellent private game reserves in the Eastern Cape which are popular for family safaris with small children, as the region is malaria-free. The region has well-known game reserves such as Shamwari, Kwandwe, Amakhala and Kariega. These reserves are renowned for their conservation programs. Many were former cattle farms which are now managing the land more sustainably by converting to game farms for tourism.
Madikwe Game Reserve
The Madikwe Game Reserve is not as busy as the Greater Kruger Game Reserves. It is the fifth-largest conservation area in the country and is home to the Big Five. It is also well known for the successful reintroduction and conservation of the endangered Painted Hunting Dogs also called Wild Dogs. They are extremely efficient hunters which used to prey upon farmers livestock and were nearly hunted to extinction.
Madikwe lies about 4.5 hours from Johannesburg along the border with neighbouring Botswana. There are several luxury lodges to choose from and the game viewing is excellent. As the park is less visited than the Sabi Sands and Kruger, guests get a more authentic and intimate safari experience.