Culture & Wildlife: South Africa
Highlights: Kruger National Park in the northeast, flanked by the private lodges and conservancies of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve; the vineyards and restaurants of the Cape Winelands region; Cape Town and Johannesburg, historical and cultural centers.
Post-apartheid, South Africa established itself as the continent’s blue-chip destination. Safari lodges and companies, such as Singita Private Game Reserves, Londolozi, and &Beyond, brought luxury to the major game regions, while Cape Town and the surrounding winelands became a jet-set playground. But intimate retreats are now enticing travelers to make cultural side trips to lesser-known areas of the country. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, a 16-room lodge a three-hour drive north of Cape Town, is in a wildflower-filled setting where Bushman rock art sites date back 10,000 years. Two hours south of Cape Town, the 27-room Grootbos Private Nature Reserve arranges trips to see the Marine Big Five: whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, and penguins. Just northwest of Johannesburg are the caves of the Cradle of Humankind, a paleontology UNESCO World Heritage site. Adventurers can also head to Zululand, where Fugitives’ Drift Lodge, the house of late historian David Rattray, offers tours of 1879 Anglo-Zulu War battlefields.
When to Go: year round
Safety Note: Travelers should be cautious in Johannesburg, especially around the city center. Your hotel can advise you on the best way to get around.