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The Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope

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Destinations: 
Addo Elephant National Park,
Africa + Middle East,
Cape Town,
Knysna,
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve,
Plettenberg Bay,
South Africa,
Tsitsikamma National Park,
Wilderness

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See + Do

Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa

Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa
Tel: 27 42 281 1607
Website: www.sanparks.org/parks/tsitsikamma

Some of the Garden Route's best-known hiking trails are in this park, which comprises 50 miles of coastline, forests, and mountains. The most famous hike is the five-day, 26-mile Otter Trail, which winds through forests, alongside rivers and waterfalls, and skirts coves and beaches, with huts along the way for spending the night. Be forewarned, however, that only 12 people a day are allowed on the trail, so you need to book at least a year in advance. Nature's Valley, adjacent to the park, is itself a peaceful place to disappear for a day, with a three-mile beach and a quiet lagoon at the mouth of the Groot River.

See + Do

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Great Fish River Valley, South Africa
Tel: 888 882 3742 (toll-free), Tel: 27 46 603 3400
Website: www.kwandwereserve.co.za

Opened in October 2001 in the Great Fish River Valley, at the heart of the Eastern Cape, this game reserve hosts more than 7,000 animals. The buffalo, lions, cheetahs, rhinos (white and black), giraffes, wild dogs, and elephants were introduced to their new home in a massive translocation exercise that cost upward of $10 million. More diverse than Gorah, the landscape here includes dense thicket and open, river-crossed savannah. Accommodation choices at the reserve include two Relais & Châteaux safari lodges and Melton Manor, run by luxury safari outfitters &Beyond; day and night wildlife viewing trips are offered.

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Knysna, South Africa

Knysna Tourism, 40 Main Street
Knysna, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 382 5510
Website: www.visitknysna.co.za

Before continuing to Plettenberg Bay, the N2 motorway briefly metamorphoses into Knysna's Main Street. The village was once known as a sleepy-hollow hippie hideout, but a steady stream of tourists has made it a mini-destination of its own. Fortunately, the old town itself—with its wide, tree-lined streets and Victorian houses—has been preserved.

See + Do

Gorah Elephant Camp, South Africa

Addo Heights Road
Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 532 7818
Website: http://www.hunterhotels.com/gorahelephantcamp/

Gorah Elephant Camp occupies more than 12,000 acres of private preserve within state-owned Addo Elephant National Park, between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. It was opened in 2000 by Ian Hunter of Hunter Hotels, who also owns Hunter's Country House and Tsala Treetop Lodge outside Plettenberg Bay. The camp's luxury tents are a fabulous place to stay while watching the wildlife. Addo itself was created in 1931 on approximately 5,000 acres to save the last 11 elephants in the Eastern Cape and now has an elephant population in excess of 450 that ranges over 400,000 acres.

Eating

Riverside Kitchen, South Africa

Highway N2
Wilderness, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 877 0900

In this thatched cottage on the Touw River, about a mile east of the town of Wilderness, diners tuck into eclectic South African and European fare that draws heavily on local produce. Start out with the ostrich salad marinated in a passion fruit vinaigrette; then move on to mains like Sole Adèle (poached in white wine with a rich prawn-and-portobello-mushroom sauce) and crayfish thermidor. Don't miss the decadent desserts, such as deep-fried, phyllo-encased ice cream in chocolate-chile sauce.

Closed Mondays February through December.

Eating

Knysna Oyster Tavern, South Africa

Long Street, Thesens Island
Knysna, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 382 6941
Website: www.knysnaoysters.co.za

Established in 1949, this no-frills tavern offers garlicky mussels, snoek pâté, fish and chips, and, as the name implies, a great selection of oysters. Both cultivated and wild local oysters on the half shell are available for takeout or to savor at a beachfront table. Make a reservation if you're visiting during the South African summer or during the Knysna Oyster Festival, held annually in June or July. Tours of the adjacent oyster-processing facility are available for a small admission fee and include a tasting of the bivalves matched with sparkling wine.

$400 or more
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Hotel

The Plettenberg, South Africa

Church Street
Plettenberg Bay 6600, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 533 2030
Email: plettenberg@relaischateaux.com
Website: www.plettenberg.com

Imagine a California hotel—beiges and pale blues, clean lines, massive windows onto the sea—crossed with an English manor house, and you've got the Plettenberg. Owner Liz McGrath, whose collection of hotels in the region also includes the Marine Hermanus, has put a Laura Ashley stamp on the 37 rooms, which are split between the main building and the Blue Wing. McGrath attempts to make guests feel at home by scattering public sitting areas throughout the property—perfect spots to gather for sherry before dinner at the intimate Sand restaurant. Treatments at the Carchele Spa are a bargain at $140 for day-long packages.

$400 or more
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Hotel

Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, South Africa

The Heads
Knysna, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 302 3303
Website: www.pezularesorthotel.com

Pezula's 78 rooms are scattered in groups of four across a headland that overlooks the Knysna lagoon to one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. Bordering the property are 2,500 acres, with a golf course, an estate for million-dollar homes, and a "field of dreams" specially constructed to attract 2010 World Cup soccer teams. The excellent Zachary's Restaurant serves what might be called pan-African cuisine, and the nine-room spa, which also offers Pezula's own rooibos tea–based Maruwa products, is a must, even if only for the post-treatment room with hot water beds. The only downside is that the property isn't on the beach. Anyone wanting to laze on the sand will have to take a shuttle to get down to Noetzie Beach, which is dotted with old castles built at the turn of the century for use as vacation homes. The hotel recently renovated two such castles and turned them into ultraluxurious suites (the larger one's first guest was Nelson Mandela).

$400 or more

Hotel

Castle on the Cliff, South Africa

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Tel: 27 11 807 1800
Website: www.castleonthecliff.com

See + Do

Beaches

Denizens of Cape Town are spoiled with so many beach option. The water, though, can make or break an outing, as the Atlantic-side beaches are freezing, while the water on the Indian Ocean side is often quite warm. However, the Atlantic seaboard beaches are more image-conscious (read: social types wearing the latest fashion bikinis), whereas the Indian Ocean beaches are more welcoming to diverse visitors. Keep in mind that the Indian Ocean side loses the sun as early as 3:30 in the winter, as it drops behind the mountains, while the Atlantic seaboard beaches have incredible sunsets—best seen from Camps Bay beach. Sand is usually clean and white. A few words of caution regarding the water: Because there is an undertow, it's important to swim where a lifeguard can see you. Shark watchers scan the waves on the Muizenberg side of the peninsula (scene of most recent shark attacks) for great white sharks, and you'll do well to watch for their flags—a black flag with a picture of a shark on it means get out of the water immediately.

A more sedate option is a visit to Boulders Beach, in Simonstown. One of Cape Town's best beaches, it has secluded swimming coves but is now overrun with Jackass penguins that nest on the shoreline. They are charming, but also smell a bit strong. The palm-lined beach at Camps Bay is easy to get to and close to bars and restaurants, whereas Clifton's four beaches and Llandudno each take a bit of a walk. Bloubergstrand is the beach with the most famous postcard view of Table Mountain—but it's windy.

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