Amazing adventure, fantastic food and unbelievable wildlife are just some of the things that make South Africa the ultimate destination for luxury travel. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a wine connoisseur, or serious gastronomy fan, a journey to the continent’s southernmost tip is going to be an incredible one.
Plan your trip with us for your chance to experience South Africa’s unique history and vibrant culture, the most opulent hotels and chic culinary scene, as well as a dynamic wine selection that’s both exciting and complex. Post-apartheid, the country has seen a lot of change and development, particularly with wine production. Cosmopolitan cities such as Cape Town are turning South Africa into a destination that’s about much more than simply safaris. Enotourism and gastro-tourism are transforming the rainbow nation into one of the most desirable places for everything from wine tours to extravagant tasting menus.
Whether you’re chasing after the “big five”, driving the famous Garden Route, or planning an adventure holiday with diving and watersports, South Africa is a country that has it all. Johannesburg is a must for apartheid history, Durban is superb for beaches, while Port Elizabeth is a great base for nearby wildlife reserves. One of the most extraordinary cities on the west coast is Cape Town, home to the famous Table Mountain, instantly recognizable due to its distinctive flat plateau. Other landmarks include the Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Cape Town is also conveniently close to the country’s top winemaking regions, making it the perfect city for food and wine discovery. From the city, you can get to a number of wine destinations easily, including Constantia, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
The Constantia Wine Route is just 20 minutes away from the city centre, while the small town of Franschhoek is just over an hour away. Under 45 minutes away is Stellenbosch, a university town surrounded by the Cape Winelands vineyards and the Jonkershoek and Simonsberg reserves. The town itself is utterly charming, with beautiful streets lined with cafes, shopping boutiques and art galleries.
The climate in South Africa ranges from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast. Parts of the northwest also experience a desert climate. South Africa is generally a great year-round holiday destination, where days are warm and nights get cooler. The Cape gets the best beach weather in the summer months (November to February) but winter (June to August) and spring (September to November) are the best seasons for whale watching excursions.
The dry season is the most suitable time for a safari (May to October). This is when days tend to be clear, and game can often be seen drinking from permanent water sources. For wine tours, the best time to visit depends on what else you plan to add to your travel itinerary. Wineries are open year-round and each season brings something special. The hot summer is perfect for outdoor wine tastings and dining al fresco, whilst chillier weather creates the ideal setting for cosying up by a roaring fire and trying the nation’s famous reds.
South Africa is the sort of destination you go to when you’re ready to expand your wine repertoire. From new age wines to sparkling varieties that rival champagne (such as the Methode Cap Classique), South Africa is a sensory experience that is rather out of the ordinary.
Most of the country’s vineyards are located around the West Cape regions, with one of the most famous districts being Stellenbosch. In this district, you can taste quintessentially South African varieties and tour award-winning wineries that are all known for their rich heritage. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and the traditional whites, while top wineries are now producing premium reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot.
Also within the West Cape (and accessibly from Cape Town) are Franschhoek and Constantia. Franschhoek is influenced by its French heritage and is a great spot for Shiraz tasting or trying out the country’s high quality sparkling wine. While the Constantia wine route is one of the most famous in South Africa, known for its cooler climate and production of Sauvignon Blanc blends. The Constantia Sauvignon Blanc is often said to match the Marlborough quality, with a deliciously crisp finish, fresh top notes, and well-balanced roundness. Bordeaux grapes dominate in Constantia, but there are aromatic varieties too, including elegant Riesling and the sweet Muscat Vin de Constance.
Today, South Africa is one of the most desirable destinations in the world for wine and gastronomy, attracting cultured and affluent crowds from all corners of the globe. Together with being a top safari destination, the growth of tourism has created a huge market for luxury accommodation. Hotels are now in abundance, giving visitors plenty of choices when it comes to choosing where to stay.
Cities such as Cape Town make a great base for exploring the West Cape wine regions and surrounding nature reserves. You’ll find everything from large 5-star resorts to charming boutique hotels in this cosmopolitan city. If you’re looking to stay within a smaller town or district, we can help you book your stay at a luxury farmhouse or stunning wine hotel with vineyards on your doorstep.
Some of our highly recommended places for a luxury experience include Marianne Wine Farm where you can enjoy wine pairing and wine blending, and Mont Rochelle Hotel and Vineyards located just under an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
Like a case of sibling rivalry, South Africa’s two biggest cities have fought for years to be crowned as the nation’s foodie capital. Both Johannesburg and Cape Town are great destinations for food lovers embarking on a culinary tour. The scene in Johannesburg is fast-evolving, with a major focus on Sub-Saharan cooking. While Cape Town is consistently the shining star with multiple award-winning restaurants to its name.
Further out in the Franschhoek Wine Valley or the district of Stellenbosch, the quality of food and service is just as outstanding, with an impressive emphasis on wine pairing. Restaurants like the Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons Restaurant offer unique dining experiences and world-class wine and food tastings that rival the cities.
Wine Paths designs luxury travel packages to South Africa with gastronomy, wine and culture in mind for our customers. Find out more about this incredible destination from our local travel expert, Darren.