Sunday, October 9, 2011


(does not include Cape Town and Johannesburg)

Heritage Tours Private Travel – 121 West 27 Street, Suite 1201; 212-206-8400 or 800-378-4555;; operated by Joel Zack; can arrange tours throughout country; can focus on Jewish heritage.
Passage to Africa – 011-27-046-622-7643;; Mike Kirkinis is guide with special knowledge as to fossil sites; partner Michael Lorentz is general Safari guide; both have extensive safari experience.
Mark Thornton Safaris – 18 Saddle Road (Devil’s Peak, Cape Town); 011-27-084-833-5479 or 011-27-021-461-1983; or; National Geographic’s highest rated African outfitter.

Samara Private Game Reserve – Petersburg Road (Great Karoo); 011-27-049-891-0880;; 69K square acres, much reclaimed farmland; restocked with cheetah, white rhino, zebra, giraffe, springbok, black wildebeest, and other species; 6 rooms; beautifully-appointed suites; 3 larger and set apart from main lodge; all with wide verandas and antiques; good food; September-October, after spring rains, when everything greens up and bursts into flower; book Karoo Suite 3 (honeymoon suite), which is furthest from lodge and has best views.

Lord Milner Hotel – City Center (Little Karoo); 011-27-023-561-3011;; authentic Victoriana and “must stop” on N1; 58 well-maintained guest rooms; courteous staff; clean crisp air; pond, fountains, riverbed, and beautiful lush gardens; blood-red sunsets, remarkable fauna and flora, and age-old traditions.

Wild Coast (includes Pondoland portions)
Mbotyi River Lodge – Mbotyi (about 12 miles east of Lusikisiki); 011-27-082-674-1064 or 011-27-083-260-5588;; good base point from which to dive during Sardine Run.
Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours – 101 Darnell Street; 011-27-042-281-1836;
Sights & Sites
Sardine Run – off Mbotyi; every year, between May and July, Ms silvery sardines travel north from southern ocean off Cape Point, hugging shore up along former Transkei (northern Eastern Cape) and KwaZulu-Natal in “annual Sardine Run”; visible by satellite, these shoals travel in seething masses stretching for up to 15 kms lon, 3.5 kms wide, and nearly 40 ms deep; add to this 100s predators; wildlife extravaganza rivaling savanna’s Great Migration; birds, dolphins, sharks, whales, and game fish.
Tsitsikamma National Park – off N2 (between De Vasselot & Storms River Mouth; 011-27-042-285-0562; or; protected area on Garden Route; coastal reserve well-known for dramatic coastline, indigenous forests, and Otter Trail; covers 50 mile-long coastline stretch; Nature’s Valley at its western end; nearby is Bloukrans Bridge.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve – Kalahari; 011-27-011-274-2299;; along edge of northern cape;; owned by Nicky Openheimer; largest privately owned safari in South Africa.

Sights & Sites
Pella Moravian Mission Station – N7 (130km east of Springbok); 011-27-021-903-5266;; Pella is only true oasis south of Sahara; date-producing area in Namaqualand; in wildflower country; mission founded by London Missionary Society in 1814 as sanctuary for Khoisan driven out of Namibia; village named after Pella in Levant that gave refuge to Christians in Macedonia in biblical times; abandoned in 1872 because of drought; Roman Catholic Church reopened mission in 1878; Old Cathedral, surrounded by date palms, has curiously Arabian atmosphere; using encyclopaedia as their building manual, took 2 missionaries 7 years to complete; set on sandy plain backed by high, sun-baked hills denuded of vegetation but vividly colored by soil minerals, spring reaches surface, giving life to figs, grapes, and pomegranates; around this source is walled garden; Pella’s dates are sold in wooden boxes to mail-order customers all over South Africa.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Retreat – 011-27-021-481-1860;; in Cederberg mountain foothills, 270 km from Cape Town; malaria and predator free; wide open plains, rock formations, water falls, and fauna and flora abundance; spa with products made from indigenous flowers and plants, including rooibos; 16 rooms and suites; Natural Heritage Site home to many exceptional San rock art sites.

False Bay
Sights & Sites
Great White Sharks – use dive operator such as Sharkwatch, 5 Geelbek Street (Kleinbaai), 011-27-028-384-1005,

Babylonstoren – Klapmuts-Simondium Road; 011-27-021-863-3852;; 011-27-021-863-2852;; 5 bedrooms and 12 cottages in 692 wine estate manor.
Auberge du Quartier Francais – Berg and Wilhelmina Streets (corner); 011-27-021-876-2151;; Auberge suites have walled-in gardens and private pools; 15 large luxury rooms overlook enclosed English garden and swimming pool; decor consists of cheerful fabrics and country furniture; duvets thick and fireplaces work; excellent room service breakfast; 2 suites especially spacious; restaurant.
Corner House – 5 Unie Street; 011-27-021-876-4729;; owned by Italian native, Renata Gaggio; garden, swimming pool, and 6 uniquely decorated rooms each with private bathroom (shower and veranda).
Dellaire Graff Estate – Helshoogte Pass (between Franschhoek & Stellenbosch); 011-27-021-885-8160;; lodge; breathtaking mountain views, impressive art; very highly regarded. Restaurants
Auberge du Quartier Francais – Berg and Wilhelmina Streets (corner); 011-27-021-876-2151;; Cape Provençal cuisine; spiced lamb with mint and pumpkin-seed pesto and pastrami-cured salmon trout.
Dellaire Graff Estate – Helshoogte Pass (between Franschhoek & Stellenbosch); 011-27-021-885-8160;; breathtaking mountain views, impressive art; impressive food.
Pierneef a la Motte – R 45 (Franschhoek Valley, on Main Road); 011-27-021-876-3119; authentic Cape cuisine, with Cape Dutch, Flemish, and French Huguenot traditions incorporated.
Reuben’s – 19 Huguenot Road; 011-27-021-876-3772;; romantic, outdoor seating; outstanding, local cuisine.
Tasting Room – 16 Huguenot Road (at Le Quartier Francais Hotel); 011-27-021-876-2151;; African-inspired menu.
Tokara – R310, Helshoogte Pass (at Tokara Winery, between Franschhoek & Stellenbosch); 011-27-021-885-2550;; try duck liver parfait and/or snoek ravioli; inventive.

Sights & Sites
Great White Sharks – use dive operator such as Sharkwatch, 5 Geelbek Street (Kleinbaai), 011-27-028-384-1005,

Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estate – Montagu Street (Blanco); 011-27-044-870-8282;; many consider 2 18-hole, Gary Player golf courses country’s best; in addition, tennis, lawn bowling, croquet, squash, 2 outdoor swimming pools, splendid health spa (indoor Roman bath, Jacuzzi, plunge pool, sauna, and 1st-rate beauty and massage treatments); service is instant but unobtrusive; immaculately tended and spectacular gardens by acre with soaring mountain backdrop; food in 4 restaurants isn’t up to rest of hotel (but not bad); best room is Deluxe Hotel Suite with mountain view.
Sights & Sites
Outeniqua Pass – drive for splendid mountain views.

Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa – R44 to Kleinmond; 011-27-028-284-0000;

Pezula Resort & Spa – Lagoon View Drive (Eastern Head); 011-27-044-302-5332;; location is staggeringly beautiful; opulent spa.

Mossel Bay
Sights & Sites
Great White Sharks – use dive operator such as Sharkwatch, 5 Geelbek Street (Kleinbaai), 011-27-028-384-1005,

Farm 215 – Gansbaai; 011-27-028-388-0920;; eco-chic; 3 solar-powered cabins overlooking rolling fields of fynbos.

Babylonstoren – Simondium Road (Klapmuts); 011-27-021-863-3852;; 590-acre farm with 4 cottages (with glass-enclosed kitchens) and 8-acre garden from which guests may forage.
Grande Roche Luxury Estate Hotel – Plantasie Street; 011-27-021-863-2727;; meticulously renovated, Cape Dutch-style wine farm; guestrooms, spread through traditional farm outbuildings and several other recent Cape Dutch-style annexes, very comfortable; most have spacious sitting areas and large double-sink baths with separate tub and shower; vineyard views lead to Drakenstein Mountains in distance; certain inflexible Germanic tone gets in way; check-in is 3 p.m., not moment sooner; restaurant service is bit stiff and precious; place to try exotic game dishes such as ostrich, kudu, and eland; 2 pools, though quite modest in size.
Babel – Simondium Road (Klapmuts, at Babylonstoren Wine Farm); 011-27-021-863-3852;; hip farm setting; enormous food garden supplies restaurant.
Hout Street Gallery – 270 Main Street; 011-27-021-872-5030; among best places in Western Cape to shop for contemporary South African art and objects; look for Carol Boyes’ palm-tree-motif pewter salad servers; sumptuous angora sweaters; glass pieces by David Reade.

Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg – 40 Church Street, Look Out Rocks; 011-27-044-573-2030;; whitewashed former family beach-house; watch frolicking dolphins from balcony; perfect food score; among most fashionable resorts in South Africa but no St. Tropez, rather modest little beach town; arrive late afternoon, staying night, enjoy leisurely morning, then set off again; book suite in new Blue Wing, much preferable to rooms in original building, which have dowdy 50s feel and institutional bathrooms.

Stellenbosch (includes Annandale)
Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa – Helshoogte Pass (Banhoek Valley); 011-27-021-885-8160;; owned by Graff diamonds founder; atop 1 of Cape vineyards’ highest points; 10 villas; closest thing to South African Aman resort.
Lanzerac Manor & Winery – Lanzerac Road; 011-27-021-887-1132;; gabled, whitewashed Cape Dutch building compound, surrounded by vineyards, with mountains in distance; reception building dates to 1692; delightful bar with big fireplace and cowhide-latticed chairs, while main lounge furnished with antiques; rooms, in cottage complex surrounding swimming pool, spacious and comfortable; food mediocre and atmosphere stuffy.
Boschendal – Pniel Road; 011-27-021-870-4274;; Boschendal is magnificent wine estate midway between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek; buffet lunch surprisingly good; lavish spread of delicious, French-influenced, Cape country classics, including curried mussels, pate of smoked snoek (full-flavored local fish), venison casserole, and kingklip stroganoff; several roasts, usually lamb and beef, all carved to order, plus outstanding desserts like chocolate cake with whiskey-soaked raisins; served in old farm building; house wines are only wines; whites more abundant than reds.
Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine – Stellenbosch Kloof Road (at Jordan Wine Farm); 011-27-021-881-3612;; among top wine country spots for excellent food; accessible, delicious, and unpretentious food.
Makaron – 26-32 Houtkapper Street (Paradyskloof); 011-27-021-880-1549;; French.
96 Winery Road – 96 Winery Road, Zandberg Farm (off R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West); 011-27-021-842-2020; warm and friendly, with intelligent, mostly French menu; large fireplace dominates beamed, butternut-painted dining room; furnished country-style with bare wooden tables and chairs; ideal light-lunch spot; restaurant does great salads; stylish crowd then comes to sample dishes like duck spring rolls with black bean chili sauce and sweet-and-sour plum sauce; Moroccan fish soup; excellent well-aged beef or guinea hen coq au vin.
Overture – Hidden Valley Estate, Annandale Road (Annandale); 011-27-021-880-2721;; magnificently situated winery restaurant; probably most sought-after place to eat anywhere in Africa.
Rust en Vrede – 1 Annandale Road (Annandale, off Route 44); 011-27-021-881-3757;; gorgeous.
Terroir – R44 (at Kleine Zalze Wine Estate); 011-27-021-880-8167;; dressed-down, country chic; simple, subtle combinations using local and natural products; classic French country fare.

Klippe Rivier Country House – off Route N2; 011-27-028-514-3341;; Swellendam is 3rd oldest white settlement in South Africa, lying halfway between Cape Town and Mossel Bay; if you get late start on trip out to Garden Route, Klippe Rivier Country House (1820 Cape Dutch country farmstead) is perfect place to break journey; lies amidst sweeping landscape of rolling plains and fields at Langeberg Mountains’ foot; book 1 of 3 downstairs bedrooms in converted stables (spacious suites with huge old beams, ceiling fans, antiques, gleaming stinkwood floors covered with Oriental rugs and animal skins, and working fireplaces); cocktail hour announced by bell, after which you’re ushered into small dining rooms; food isn’t outstanding, wine list brief, and hospitality taut; still, gorgeous setting (particularly dining outside) and rooms’ rusticity outweigh drawbacks.
Sights & Sites
Drostdy Complex – 18 Swellengrebel Street; 011-27-028-514-1138;; Cape architecture, history, and decorative arts museum.

Barn – 170 Church Street; 011-27-023-342-8136; among other things, carries David Reade’s work; Reade is South Africa’s foremost glass artist, working in this renovated, 1790 barn in this quiet town on Drakenstein Mountains opposite side from Cape winelands; works almost exclusively on commission; sensitive and charming man, actually likes clients to visit him, by appointment, at his studio; has gallery in which displays bowls, paperweights, perfume flasks, and other glass objects; drive here from Paarl is 1 of most dramatic in Western Cape if you take Route 101.

Sights & Sites
National Museum – 36 Aliwal Street; 011-27-051-447-9609;; dates to 1877; research carried out in human and natural sciences; displays include only complete dinosaur Melanorosaurus skeleton; satellite museums include 1st Raadsaal & Wagon Museum, Florisbad Quaternary Research Station, Freshford House Museum, and Oliewenhuis Art Museum.

Cranberry Cottage – 37 Beeton Street; 011-27-051-924-2290 or 011-27-051-923-1500;; 9 rooms, some with fireplaces; pool; 19 kms from Maseru, Lesotho; spa

GAUTENG (former Transvaal)
Kruger National Park
Camp Jabulani – Kapama Private Game Reserve (Timbavati Game Reserve); 011-27-12-460-5605;
Londolozi Private Game Reserve – Mpumalanga; 011-27-013-735-5653 or 888-882-3742;; 1926 reserve has 4 camps shaded by 1K year-old ebony trees; leopards; air-conditioned bar.
MalaMala Game Reserve – Sabi Sands; 011-27-011-442-2267;; lush and unspoiled open savanna; expert, “witty” guides and rare wildlife; meals served on decks overlooking Sand River; average food.
Ngala Private Game Reserve – Benmore; 011-27-011-809-4300 or 800-525-4800;; tree-shaded tented suites; overlooks Timbavati River.
Rock Lodge – Ulusaba Private Game Reserve; 011-27-013-735-5460;; extraordinary; outside Kruger National Park.
Royal Malewane – Thornybrush Game Reserve; 011-27-015-793-0150;
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve – Sabi Sands; 011-27-011-447-7172;; rustic yet reasonably luxurious lodge; ask for Earth Lodge (impala horn-legged tables); rhinos.
Singita Lebombo & Sweni – N'wanetsi River; 011-27-021-683-3424;; Lebombo is glass, steel, and wood structure built on stilts; Sweni is raised huts with earthenware pots scattered in forest; hippos swim below rooms.
Singita Sabi Sand – Sabi Sands; 011-27-021-683-3424;; leopards; camp bisected by Sand River; ask for Boulders Lodge; good food.

KWAZULU NATAL (includes Drakensberg)
Cavern Resort & Spa – near uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park; 011-27-036-438-6270;; stunning surrounding countryside views; set in secluded valley beneath massive sandstone; thatch accommodation and facilities; hiking and mountain biking, exploring on horseback; Forest Retreat spa; numerous Bushman paintings, 213 species of birds, 150 species of trees, and numerous wild animals.
Three Tree Hill – Rhenosterfontein Farm (Drakensberg); 011-27-011-36-448-1171;; casual yet elegant; beautifully situated with sweeping views; excellent food; will plan daily game-viewing walks (rhinoceros, zebra); each room is simply presented yet completely comfortable; #4 may have most beautiful bathtub view on planet.

Protea Banks – 7 kms offshore;; main attraction are large numbers bull, great white, hammerhead, ragged tooth & tiger sharks.

St. Lucia
Sights & Sites
iSimangaliso Wetland Park – Dredge Harbor (administrative office); 011-27-35-590-1633;; South Africa’s 3rd-largest protected area, spanning 280 coastline kms, from Mozambican border in north to Mapelane south of Lake St. Lucia estuary; 3.3 km2 natural ecosystems, including: Lake St. Lucia, St. Lucia Game Reserve, False Bay Park, Kosi Bay, Lake Etrza Nature Reserve, Lake Sibhayi, St. Lucia Marine Reserve, St. Lucia Marine Sanctuary, Sodwana Bay National Park, Mapelane Nature Reserve, Maputaland Marine Reserve, Cape Vidal, Ozabeni, Mfabeni, Tewate Wilderness Area & Mkuze Game Reserve; word isimangaliso means “miracle” in Zulu; due to be integrated into transfrontier park: Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay Transfrontier Conservation Area, straddling South Africa, Mozambique & Swaziland (this, in turn, to become Greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area part); until 1875, bay home to Tsonga people & their primitive fishkraals (Tsonga have lived here for more than 800 years, then forcefully removed in 1875), some of whom still live at Kosi Bay; Tembe Elephant Park, run by Chief Israel Tembe, is Tsonga living history testament; declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 because of rich biodiversity, unique ecosystems & natural beauty occurring in relatively small area; reason for huge faunal & floral diversity is great variety of different ecosystems on park, ranging from coral reefs & sandy beaches to subtropical dune forests, savannas & wetlands; animals include elephant, leopard, black & white rhino, buffalo, and in ocean, whales, dolphins & marine turtles (including leatherback & loggerhead); also home to 1.2K Nile crocodiles & 800 hippopotami; in December 2013, lions reintroduced; large outcroppings of underwater reefs home to brightly colored corals & fish (some of most spectacular coral diversity in world is located in Sodwana Bay); reefs also inhabited by color-changing octopuses & squid; occasionally, gigantic whale sharks.

Aliwal Shoal – 5 km off coast;; rocky reef is all that remains of ancient sand dune; host to many kinds hard & soft corals and various fish species; named after near-sinking of 3-masted vessel Aliwal, captained by James Anderson in 1849; 2 wrecks near reef are prime dive sites (Norwegian bulk carrier Produce, sunk in 1974, & Nebo, sunk in 1884; stunning marine life, especially abundant Grey nurse sharks (known locally as ragged tooth sharks or raggies) between August and November when sharks congregate to mate.

Cathedral Peak Hotel – uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park; 011-27-036-488-1888; or; best hotel option in Drakensberg; only one situated in own valley; great alpine views, comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and relaxed atmosphere; book luxury room (cost more but are more spacious, with French doors opening onto gardens and excellent mountain views); trails start from hotel, which provides maps (Rainbow Gorge round-trip recommended).
Sights & Sites
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park (formerly Royal Natal National Park) – 40 kms west of Bergville; 011-27-011-36-438-6310;; forms uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site part; notwithstanding name, not South African National Park, but rather Provincial Park managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife; main features are Drakensberg Amphitheater and Tugela River Falls, world’s 2nd highest.

Phinda Private Game Reserve – Richards Bay; 011-27-011-809-4300 or 888-882-3742;; stay at Phinda Zuka Lodge.

Ant’s Nest & Ant Hill – Vaalwater; 011-27-014-755-3584;; private residences, now lodges (collectively, “Ant Collection”); adjacent game reserves in Limpopo region (north).

MPUALANGA (former Eastern Transvaal)
Drakensburg Mountains
Blue Mountain Lodge – P.O. Box 101, Kiepersol; 011-27-011-784-4144;; Hepplewhite-style sofa, French garden doors, fireplace with lion frieze above it; deep and settled calm; accommodations, scattered around grounds, look out across mature gardens to dark-green avocado trees and coffee plantations; 8 Victorian suites, all individually decorated and with fireplaces and private verandas; Ballentine Suite is most African; Manor Houses (2 of 15 completed), most opulent accommodations with 2 large bedrooms, study, dining room, and sizable swimming pool that overlooks lake, home to small pod of hippo (housekeeping staff and cook optional); at main house, mostly light New World food, taking advantage of fruit and vegetables grown locally or on estate.
Cybele Forest Lodge – White River; 011-27-013-764-1823;; if can’t stay, at least lunch in garden; old white farmhouse, mown lawns, glossy horses nuzzling paddock railing; formerly rundown coffee estate, now among South Africa’s best-known and most firmly established country hotels; slightly eccentric and intimate; almost entirely surrounded by forest; has widely differing types of accommodation; best rooms are Paddock Suites (10-12 & 14, each of which has spacious bedroom, sleeping loft, double-height living room, and private pool) and Private Garden Suite; Studio 9 is tiny but with sizable private garden; ride or walk around property, fly-fish for rainbow trout, or go on helicopter trips into surrounding hills.

Madikwe Game Reserve – Groot Marico; 011-27-021-424-1037;; north of Johannesburg, on Botswana border; purportedly malaria free; numerous onsite lodges.
Molori – Madikwe Game Reserve (Groot Marico); 011-27-014-778-8000;; 55 minutes north of Johannesburg by plane.

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