Cape Town’s one of those places that’s easy to fall in love with. Framed by the iconic flat summit of Table Mountain, it boasts a lively waterfront district packed with outstanding restaurants and eclectic watering holes, not to mention world-class museums, wind-swept beaches and one of Africa’s most impressive botanical gardens.
But this alluring city is also within a stone’s throw of the stunning Cape Winelands, dotted with charismatic towns and historic cellar doors where South Africa’s renowned wines are on show. Add to that sublimely beautiful desert and savannah landscapes where big game wildlife roam and it’s the making of an unforgettable driving holiday.
From the mountain to the sea
The V&A Waterfront is the perfect base for exploring Cape Town, with boutique properties like the colonial-style Victoria & Alfred Hotel, coupled with a superb choice of dining and a gourmet street food-style market. This shopping and entertainment district is also the launching point for everything from shark cage diving trips to tours of Robben Island to witness the cell where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated.
No trip to Cape Town is complete without riding the cable car to the summit of Table Mountain, from where there are staggering views of the city and the upmarket beach suburbs of the Atlantic Seaboard. The Cape of Good Hope’s dramatic landscapes stretch to the south, while the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens nestle to the east.
Discover the impact of Apartheid on Cape Town’s residents at the excellent District Six Museum and wander through the colourful Cape Malay Quarter of Bo-Kaap. Then relax in the heritage-listed Company Gardens, flanked by the impressive Iziko Museum and National Art Gallery.
Winelands + wilderness
From Cape Town, it’s just an hour’s drive east to the historic town of Franschhoek where you can bunk down in one of the luxurious estates such as the Franschhoek Country House. The vineyards of the Cape Winelands blanket the surrounds, stretching north to the granite peaks of Paarl and west to the whitewashed town of Stellenbosch. The region is home to some of South Africa’s most acclaimed gourmet restaurants, as well as cellar doors set within architecturally-impressive Cape Dutch estates. Spend a few days exploring the myriad of wine farms, enjoying relaxing days filled with tasting fine wines, food surrounded by breath-taking scenery.
After indulging in the Cape Winelands’ gastronomy, travel east through the semi-desert landscapes of the Karoo and on to the town of Oudtshoorn. Venture into the subterranean world of the Cango Caves, which are adorned in majestic stalagmites and stalactites, then explore the working ostrich farm at the luxurious retreat of La Plume Guesthouse enjoying the comforts of a bygone era with warm, country hospitality.
The scenic Outeniqua Pass connects Oudtshoorn with South Africa’s famous Garden Route and the sublime seaside town of Knysna, surrounded by native fynbos vegetation and sparkling rivers. Plan your arrival into Knysna around lunch time to feast on oysters aboard the double decker floating restaurant of John Benn to enjoy panoramic views back towards the town and lagoon. Overnight stay at the exceptional Turbine Boutique Hotel + Spa, designed within a meticulously restored power station, surrounded on three sides by water.
Spot free-roaming capuchins, lemurs and gibbons along the suspended canopy walk of Plettenberg Bay’s Monkeyland and then continue east to the malaria-free Kitchaka Game Lodge for a quintessential African safari experience. Set on the edge of a large watering hole and designed to blend in with the natural surroundings, the chalet lodge overlooks a large waterhole that is often visited by hippos, giraffes and elephants. Stand on the terrace that extends into a small island which makes for an enchanting outdoor dining area and perfect for sundowners each evening. Or swim in the rim-flow pool adjacent to the waterhole and feel as if you are swimming with hippos. It is the ultimate Big Five safari destination staying in an all-inclusive five-star lodge.