City, Safari & Wine: Why I Love South Africa

It’s been a while since I last wrote, but there’s a good reason. I’ve been travelling and discovering new places. Since I started writing this collection of my favorite places around the world, most of it’s been retrospective (before I forget it all!), but this one is fresh. I’m just back from South Africa and I LOVED IT – saw Cape Town and its suburbs, the Winelands, and spent that must-do time in the bush at Sabi Sands. If you’re sitting on your favorite travel websites right now looking for your next trip, you won’t regret a thing if you make South Africa it. Here’s why…

STAY.

Kensington Place – the perfect location to stay in Cape Town, just beneath Table Mountain and set in one of the poshest neighborhoods in the city bowl, which will make you really feel like a local Capetonian. Despite being close to the base of Table Mountain, you’re surrounded by cool restaurants and bars at nearby Kloof Street (walkable) and can also easily reach Camps Bay for sundowner drinks! Everything about this small hotel is boutique. It has a small number of beautiful (and large!) rooms offering stunning views of the mountains, the sea, and the city itself. The pool and hang-out area are pure bliss, and the breakfast itself deserves a special mention – like I said, I’m big on brunch and Kensington Place knows how to help you start your morning!

38 Kensington Crescent, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa / +27 21 424 4744

Pod – I didn’t get to stay at Pod but considered it as the top contender before booking and now having visited Camps Bay (a cool Cape Town suburb), I would definitely put this on my list for the next trip to Cape Town! So… no review, other than that the location is beachy, laid back and cool, but stay tuned, you might find me writing about it soon enough!

3 Argyle Street, Camps Bay, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa / +27 21 438 8550

Franschhoek Country House & Villas – a perfect place in the winelands of South Africa, situated in Franschhoek just between the town center and some of the best vineyard estates. Complete with an award winning restaurant – Monneaux – the property is large and set against a backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains. There are various courtyards, a serene pool / garden area, and several different relaxation areas (the fireplace is usually on as you return with all of your wine from the estates of the day’s tour).

Huguenot Main Road, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa / +27 21 876 3386

I’m listing out other spots to consider in the Winelands, none of which I stayed at but I saw all of the properties while running around town: Upscale and with views to die for, Delaire Graff is a Relais & Chateaux wine estate plus hotel. Another option is the opulent La Residence, where you’ll feel like a French royal in the French corner of South Africa. If you want a bit more of a homely feel, try De Alchemist Guest House, which is just off the main street in Franschhoek town. See further below, La Petite Ferme is not only a restaurant but also a great option to rest your head!

Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve – the way that the stars look on a clear night in the bush beats all expectations – I suppose its why I get a feeling like no other when I am in Africa, in the bush, at night. Leopard Hills is the perfect place to experience this. It’s a wonderful lodge in the Sabi Sands private game reserve within South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Leopard Hills has a small number of generously spacious suites, complete with a small living room area and bedroom and a large bathroom with both shower and bath-tub – all of which are surrounded purely by glass so you can watch the bush come alive at all hours of the day. Your suite terrace includes a private plunge pool and outdoor shower, as well as a relaxation area. You can either face the watering hole with views for miles, or be on ground level with the bush, which means someone from the animal kingdom will come and visit you for a drink from your pool – so watch out when using that outdoor shower! Last note – the staff are all wonderful, happy people, which makes the stay that much better!

Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa / +27 (0)11 326 0739

WINE & DINE.

The Test Kitchen – often called Cape Town’s best restaurant. In a cool area called Woodstock at the Old Biscuit Mill complex, with trendy shops around. My favorite from the trip.

375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa / +27 21 447 2337

Cafe Paradiso – trendy “country” house style restaurant with perfect garden seating for a sunny day and excellent grub.

110 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa / +27 21 423 8653

95 Keerom – popular Italian in Cape Town, can’t fault the food at all.

95 Keerom Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa / +27 21 422 0765

Bistrot Bizerca – a limited but delicious menu with changing options every day.

98 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa / +27 21 423 8888

La Colombe – a bit out of central Cape Town in Constantia, but very much worth it. Dress to impress.

Main Road, Constantia Nek, Cape Town, 7848, South Africa / +27 21 795 0125

Bistro 1682 at Steenberg Estate – also in Constantia, a super modern estate with a cool outdoor seating area. Pair it with a wine tasting at the wine estate.

10802 Tokai Rd, Constantia, Cape Town, 7945, South Africa / +27 21 713 2222

Harbour House – skip the one in the V&A Waterfront and head to Kalk Bay. Authentic sea side fresh seafood.

Main Rd, Silver Mine (Nature Reserve), Cape Town, 7990, South Africa / +27 21 788 4133

Paranga – one of the many Camps Bay promenade front restaurants. Perfect for watching the sun set with a drink!

Victoria Street, Camps Bay, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa / +27 21 438 0404

Codfather – a Camps Bay seafood institution. Arrive with a big appetite.

37 The Drive, Camps Bay, Cape Town, 8040, South Africa / +27 21 438 0782

La Petite Ferme – delicious food, relaxed atmosphere, vineyards to wander through, and a view to die for. Near Franschhoek in the winelands. If you have to choose one lunch spot only in the area, make it this.

Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa / +27 21 876 3016

Grande Provence – one of the most beautiful and stylish restaurants at a wine estate that I’ve ever seen. Just outside of Franschhoek town.

Main Road, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa / +27 21 876 8600

The Tasting Room – mid Franschhoek town, the culinary capital of South Africa, the Tasting Room is widely dubbed as one of the best restaurants in the world, and it’s so true.

Wilhelmina Street & Berg Street, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa / +27 21 876 2151

Dutch East – trendy perfect little lunch spot in Franschhoek town.

42 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek, South Africa / +27 21 876 3547

EXPLORE.

A few small recommendations for Cape Town, albeit I’m sure you’ll take the city your own way when you visit!

– When you’re taking on Table Mountain, I recommend you take the cable car up and if you must hike, do so one the way down!

– That colorful area you’ve seen in all the books is Bo Kaap, the Malay quarter, which is worth taking a stroll through

Green Market Square is a busy (and touristy) market, but it’s the perfect place for bargain for your African masks or street art

– If you’re wondering whether you should go and visit a township – yes, you should. There are many options, but Langa seems to be the best option for tourists

– If you want to feel like a local, visit the trendy and organic Oranjezicht City Farm on a Saturday morning

– The drive out of Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope (most southwestern point of Africa) is totally worth it, along the way Chapman’s Peak Drive is a wonderful and relaxing sight, and you can continue on to see the Penguins at Boulder’s Beach

Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Paarl in the Winelands – it’s a pretty rural area but these are your three main towns to head for. They’re full of wonderful vineyards and have quaint town centers (of which Franschhoek is personally my favorite). The towns have plenty of amazing restaurants and art galleries. I’ve mentioned most of the vineyards above and you can choose your own from what is a plentiful array, but one thing I’ve left out is the Franschhoek Wine Tram, which is a great no driving option for visiting the local vineyards. I recommend hiring a private driver to take you around Stellenbosch and Paarl one day, and taking the tram around Franschhoek vineyards on another.

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