South Africa is a hugely popular holiday destination with a diverse range of experiences, stunning landscapes, breathtaking wildlife and a fascinating history. Add to the mix a temperate climate with hot summers right in the heart of the UK winter, who wouldn’t want to head here for an African escape.
The highlights are well publicised, Table Mountain, Robben Island and Kruger National Park are just a few of the popular tourist hotspots. But where do you go to get a feel for the real South Africa? We have been thinking about some of our favourite places and activities we enjoyed when we lived here that you may not find in your typical holiday brochure.
This is a well visited attraction in Cape Town but not many international visitors realise it is a popular live music venue. Every Sunday throughout summer, for about £10, a ticket you can sit in the sunshine on the lawns and enjoy popular local musicians as the sun sets. There is a great atmosphere with a beautiful backdrop. Take a picnic and a bottle of wine and join in the fun.
THE FOOD BARN
If you are prepared to head out of the city for dinner then you won’t be disappointed. Situated in the laid back suburb of Noordhoek, this relaxed fine dining restaurant is owned by local legend Franck Dangereux. Wonderful flavour combinations and stunning presentation make this a popular local dining option for a special occasion that doesn’t break the bank.
If you prefer something even more chilled then the Food Barn Deli turns into a buzzing tapas venue from 6pm. I enjoyed a memorable last meal here before moving back to the UK five years ago.
I first discovered this part of South Africa as part of a longer trip enjoying the game reserves of the Eastern Cape. Set on the East coast of South Africa, on a pre-breakfast beach walk, we literally saw two other people the entire time. With white sand that stretches for miles, it is a place that lets you disconnect from everyday life and just enjoy nature at its most raw.
About three and a half hours from Cape Town this is a little gem. If you like the outdoors, then take a few days to enjoy this marine reserve. Running, hiking and mountain biking are all possible. But if you’d rather enjoy a more leisurely stroll or some rock pooling that is also fine. During whale season, De Hoop is arguably the best spot for land-based whale watching in South Africa. Accommodation ranges from simple self-catering cottages to a 5-star beach front lodge.
HEMEL EN AARDE VALLEY
In South Africa you are truly spoilt when it comes to wine. We sometimes like to venture away from Stellenbosch or Franschhoek to one of the smaller wine producing regions that feels more relaxed and less commercial. Welcome to Hemel en Aarde, just 30 minutes outside Hermanus. A 20km stretch of the R320 is home to boutique wineries and wonderful rolling valleys.
Inverroche is located in a quiet garden route town and can easily be missed. But if you enjoy gin, it is well worth taking time to visit. Whether it is for a tasting or a fully hands on class where you distill and bottle your own gin, this is a fascinating experience. Six years ago Inverroche was born and now exports its craft gin to 15 different countries.
Signature Safaris use their passion for Africa and its wildlife to design bespoke once in a lifetime holiday itineraries for their clients.
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