The perfect trip: South Africa
The Cape Town suburb of Llandudno which has one of the city’s most beautiful beaches. (Gary Latham/LPI)
Take to the road in one of South Africa’s most diverse regions and discover fabulous food, fine wines, wild wide-open spaces and big game.
Cape Peninsula: Best for a culinary road trip
Nowhere does the Rainbow Nation display its colours to greater effect than among Cape Town's places to eat - this is a city that feasts on its multiculturalism. For food-loving locals the weekend begins with a breakfast of strong coffee and crêpes fresh from the hot plate at Neighbourgoods Market, held in an old Victorian warehouse in the one-time industrial neighbourhood of Woodstock. More than 100 stallholders gather here every Saturday morning to sell upmarket metropolitan essentials, from champagne to organic bread.
West of here are the kaleidoscopic streets of the Bo-Kaap area. Its acid-bright houses are home to the city's Cape Malay community - descendants of people from India, Malaysia and other South East Asian countries who settled the area as early as the 17th century - and the cuisine is a spicy, aromatic, and sometimes strange, mix of Asian, European and Mediterranean flavours. Nzolo Café, afro-print oilcloths and craftworks lining its walls, offers a taste of traditional South Africa. For locals the most popular order is vetkoek (pronounced fet-cook and literally meaning 'fat cake'): an Afrikaner pastry that's a bit like a savoury doughnut, filled with mince.
Dinner promises an escape from the city, and a different sort of meal. Driving south, Table Mountain recedes in the rear-view mirror and congested streets give way to a cliff-hugging road and endless ocean views. Kalk Bay, one of the first fishing harbours in the area, is home to elegant seafood restaurant Harbour House. Diners sit at tables lining the open windows, listening to the waves crash against the seawall, as they tuck into such dishes as grilled Cape crayfish, impeccably tender and lemony. Across the harbour there's Kalky's, an informal fish and chip shop that's something of a local institution. Commuters recently disgorged by the city train crowd around the sunny tables outside to share fried delicacies - hake, snoek, calamari - straight from the sea. Others head to the dock with their paperwrapped packages, the contents of which will be eaten with greasy fingers beside the boats that brought in the catch.
- Neighbourgoods Market (neighbourgoods market.co.za)
- Nzolo Café 48 Church Street, City Bowl (00 27 21 426 1857)
- Harbour House (harbourhouse.co.za)
- Kalky's Kalk Bay Harbour (00 27 21 788 1726)
- To find out more about Cape Town, visit tourismcapetown.co.za
Where to stay: Grand Daddy Hotel
As well as stylish regular rooms and the Daddy Cool Bar, this centrally located hotel has a rooftop Penthouse Trailer Park. Bed down in one of the vintage Airstreams, themed around subjects as diverse as John and Yoko's 'bed-in' and Goldilocks and the Three Bears (from £132; granddaddy.co.za).
The Boland: Best for wine
Simple white homesteads dot the rolling hills of the Boland, the bucolic patch of countryside east of Cape Town. The area is known for its scenery as much as the dizzying array of grapes cultivated here. Swathes of vines, their leaves cascading over trellises to create rows of unruly hedges, surround the small towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.
Cape winemaking really took off after an influx of migrant French Huguenots - some experienced in viticulture - in the late 1680s, but it's an even older tradition that inspires Mark Solms. A prominent neuroscientist and psychoanalyst, Mark also owns the Solms-Delta wine estate in the Franschhoek valley. 'I read up on wine-producing civilisations of the ancient world and asked our winemaker to experiment with a particularly interesting ancient Greek technique,' he explains. Desiccation, in which vine stems are crushed with pliers to partially stop the supply of water to the grapes, has since produced some of the estate's finest wines. 'It's lucky he humoured me!' he jokes.