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South Africa April 2010

South Africa April 2010

By
Destinations: 
Africa + Middle East,
Cape Town,
Newlands,
South Africa

Heading to South Africa for 10 days in April - Cape Town, Paarl, and Durban - for some food, wine, and nature!

ITEMS

See + Do

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, South Africa

Rhodes Drive
Newlands, South Africa
Tel: 27 21 799 8783
Website: www.sanbi.org/frames/kirstfram.htm

Located a ten-minute drive from central Cape Town, this modern Eden is devoted to indigenous plants, and you'll find about 5,000 of South Africa's botanical species here. There is also a fragrance garden, and a medicinal garden featuring plants used by Khoisan healers. The lawns, streams, and winding paths are a magnet for children, so if you're after some peace and quiet, then avoid the lower slopes, which are inhabited by stroller-pushing mothers, and head for the wilder upper slopes, with their great view over the city. The gardens are at their peak when covered in spring flowers in September and October. There have been some muggings, so don't walk alone in the park's deserted areas. Two hiking routes also begin in the gardens: Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine. It takes up to three hours to get to the top of Table Mountain along these routes, and the hike is strenuous, so consider going with a guide (bookings can be made through the Cape Town Tourism office, 27-21-762-0687).

Open daily 8 am to 7 pm.

See + Do

Table Mountain National Park

Cape Town's most famous landmark is Table Mountain, a flat-topped mountain that stands 3,563 feet above the city. It has two mountains on either side, Devil's Peak and Lion's Head, as well as a small hill called Signal Hill. The city center nestles within the circle formed by these mountains and the sea. Eighteen million visitors have taken the revolving Table Mountain Aerial Cableway to the top. The cars run every ten minutes and will lend you a better understanding of the city's layout. The mountaintop is flat and easy to explore, but for an adrenaline rush, try the world's highest commercial rappel, with Abseil Africa. Hikers do walk up the mountain face, and it looks easy from the cable car; however, we recommend this be done with a guide, as visitors regularly get stuck after underestimating the mountain or taking a wrong turn. Reserve a guide through the Cape Town Tourism office.

See + Do

Constantia Wine Route

You don't need to go far to find vineyards around Cape Town—there are five in the Constantia valley, a 20-minute drive from the city center. Groot Constantia is the oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa, though the tastings here can be overwhelmed with busloads of tourists, so you might continue up the Main Road to Buitenverwachting. The restaurant is closed during the month of July, and the picnics are only available in summer (November to April), but the tasting room is open regardless, and free. Klein Constantia is literally up the road, and here you'll find the estate's award-winning nectar, Vin de Constance, a dessert wine popular in the courts of Europe for centuries. If you're short of time, head straight to Constantia Uitsig. The John Platter Wine Guide (an invaluable reference if you're interested in SA wines) always give its grapes high marks, and the three restaurants (including La Colombe) are some of the Cape's finest.

Nightlife

Nightlife in Cape Town

Capetonians are always game for a party. For some five-star glamour, visit the Mount Nelson Hotel's Planet and Champagne Bar, known for its cocktails (try the rose martini) and visiting celebrity clientele. The Bascule Whisky Bar at the Cape Grace has over 450 whiskies to try—and a prime setting. Grab a table on the quay overlooking the yacht marina for a sundowner with a view. On Long Street, the arty student crowd hangs out at Jo'burg while Gallery Café at the Urban Chic hotel is a sexier alternative. On the Atlantic Seaboard, join the locals at La Med for sundowners or have a drink at the unpretentious The Sand Bar overlooking Camps Bay beach.

Cape Town's biggest party is The Mother City Queer Project, held every December, a fancy dress party (open to gay and straight alike) that has people going in teams and planning their outfits weeks in advance (www.mcqp.co.za). Past themes have included "Out in Africa." Café Manhattan and Bronx Action Bar are two of De Waterkant's well-known gay bars.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick

Hotel

Cape Cadogan, South Africa

5 Upper Union Street, Gardens
Cape Town 8001, South Africa
Tel: 27 21 480 8080
Email: res@morecapecadogan.co.za
Website: www.capecadogan.com

The scent of tuberoses fills the air as one steps into the Cape Cadogan, a 12-room boutique hotel in a restored Georgian house. It's a sensual kind of place that feels private, with all-white decor, sparkling chandeliers, and open, travertine-tiled bathrooms. It's a two-minute walk from Cape Town's trendy Kloof Street, where you'll find delis, home design and clothing shops, and restaurants. Book room no. 8: Its windows open onto the treetops, and you won't feel like you're even in the city. Breakfast is included in the room rate and is served in a small, sunny courtyard next to a plunge pool.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.