4 Top Cape Restaurants

The Cape is known for its magnificent mountains, amazing scenery, gorgeous blue oceans, rich history, and, of course, its first-class wines and delicious food. We’ve compiled a list of four top restaurants in the Cape that combine delectable food and award-winning wine. Should you be lucky enough to be visiting the Cape soon – make sure you pop by at least one of these amazing eateries – you certainly won’t regret it!

  1. Franschhoek Kitchen

If you’re planning a trip to the Cape, it is essential to visit the Cape Winelands. Franschhoek is our absolute favourite wine district. Its spectacular beauty and its quaint atmosphere make Franschhoek a place to remember. We recommend visiting the Franschhoek kitchen at the Holden Manz winery. It has been rated as one of the leading restaurants in Franschhoek and it is regarded as one of South Africa’s culinary hotspots. This little restaurant enjoys views overlooking beautifully green vineyards and remarkable mountains. The restaurant is the perfect place to relax and enjoy bistro-style food made from delicious, locally sourced ingredients. Because they are a sustainability farm, they emphasise seasonal ingredients which means that their menu changes regularly to suit the seasons. Franschhoek Kitchen also provides beautifully presented picnic baskets filled with absolutely delicious and fresh treats, so that you can enjoy a long summer afternoon resting by the picturesque Franschhoek River. And, what would a visit to a vineyard be without indulging in a bit of wine tasting? At Holden Manz, you will have a chance to try their beautifully fragrant Rosé, their barrel-fermented Chardonnay, and their decadent port-style wines.

  1. Fyndraai Restaurant

Nestled between the border of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, you will find the 320-year-old Solms-Delta estate. At this amazing wine estate, you will discover the Fyndraai Restaurant—a restaurant that offers traditional Cape cuisine with a contemporary twist. The dishes aim to promote the assorted culinary heritage of the Cape, and you will therefore find that the dishes showcase European, Asian, and African flavours. The dishes present strong ‘Cape Malay’ influences and blend them with ingredients that were traditionally favoured by the Khoi nomads who used to roam Franschhoek thousands of years ago. Many of the rare and indigenous herbs are actually grown on the farm. You can opt for the tasty, four-course heritage menu, or you can choose to have a wine pairing menu that lets guests sample six glasses of the estate’s wines and six tasty tapas. The estate also allows guests to picnic on its grounds, and the Fyndraai Restaurant creates delicious picnic hampers for its guests.

  1. Greenhouse (Constantia)

If classic elegance is what you’re after, we suggest visiting the Greenhouse. The cuisine is created by the famous Peter Tempelhoff who emphasises the importance of complementary tastes and aromas. The dishes are imaginative and the chefs look to the sea and the garden for their inspiration. For these chefs, ingredients must have meaning and purpose, and they aim to showcase the beauty of South Africa through their cooking. The menu also features some of the best wines from Constantia, and the restaurant pairs its wines beautifully. In 2015, the restaurant won the Boschendal Style Award.

  1. La Colombe

La Colombe is certainly worth a visit if you want to treat yourself to the ultimate fine dining experience. This spectacular restaurant earned its place among the top 100 restaurants in the world in 2016. The restaurant is situated at the Silvermist wine estate on top of Constantia Nek and it has magnificent views of Constantia Valley and Hout Bay. The chefs use ingredients that are sourced from the restaurant’s own organic gardens and therefore, the menu is also a seasonal one. Each dish is perfectly and beautifully presented, and the vibrant colours and flavours of the dishes combine together to create a unique cuisine adventure. The menu pays tribute to deliciously fresh seafood which is an absolute treat when you’re dining in the Cape.

Africa’s Top Five Romantic Getaways

Planning a romantic getaway with your loved one? We’re here to help you find only the very best destinations in Africa for that couples getaway you’ve been meaning to plan forever! After all, what could be more romantic than surprising your sweetheart with a trip to exciting and majestic Africa? Safaris, wildlife, adventures, spectacular views and delicious food awaits … Here’s our list of the top five romantic escapes—each one is the epitome of supreme luxury, perfectly combined with lavish romance.

  1. Royal Malewane

Positively the paragon of class and refined grandeur, the Royal Malewane is one of our top picks for a great romantic escape. Surrounded by the majestic African wilderness, couples can enjoy the seclusion and romance that can only come from being immersed in Africa’s beauty. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains, the Royal Malewane is truly the queen of African luxury. If a safari is your idea of the perfect romantic escape—and it certainly should be—then this is absolutely the place for you. The Royal Malewane prides itself on the fact that it treats its guests to the ultimate in exclusivity and privacy—perfect for an intimate escapade for you and your darling.

  1. La Residence

Described as the crown jewel of Franschoek, La Residence is a place of abundant opulence ensconced in the middle of the impossible beauty that is the valley of the vineyards. La Residence has been described as one of the best hotels in the whole world, and why wouldn’t it be? It is an absolutely stunning boutique hotel situated in South Africa’s most picturesque valley. A stay at La Residence is definitely something that should be on your bucket-list—the perfect opportunity to treat yourself and your love. La Residence is entirely and unapologetically opulent—luxury that is unrivalled. Each room is extraordinary in its own way—no two rooms look alike, and each one is overwhelming in its beauty. You cannot go wrong at La Residence; its rooms are stunning, the setting is unmatched, and the food is to die for.

  1. White Pearl

Mozambique is the perfect place to spend with your sweetheart. Spectacular, pristine beaches, and outstanding accommodation—like the accommodation offered at the White Pearl—make Mozambique the ultimate romantic getaway destination for couples seeking luxury and perfection. At White Pearl, guests can soak up the summer sun, sip cocktails at the poolside, or venture into or under the turquoise Indian Ocean. Choose from suites that open out onto their very own private beach or suites that are raised up on stilts to showcase the captivating panoramic views of the ocean. Couples can even treat themselves to relaxing spa treatments—all in the comfort of their own suites.

  1. Royal Livingstone

Victorian elegance set in the heart of Africa, the Royal Livingstone is the epitome of old-world charm. Take a stroll in the lush gardens with your loved one and feel the cool Zambezi mist embrace you. Treat yourselves to a luxurious spa treatment in the private gazebo that overlooks the gentle flowing river. And, after a day full of relaxation, you can catch the gorgeous African sunset—with sundecks suspended out over the river you can look out and take in its delightful splendour. To complete each romantic day, you will be able to indulge in a sublime meal under the candle-lit boughs of the Monkey Tree. This is truly a romantic escape to remember.

  1. Ellerman House

Certainly the pinnacle of modern sophistication, and settled on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Ellerman House is the ultimate destination for old-world romance. The charming Edwardian mansion rests upon Lion’s Head Mountain and overlooks the crystal blue ocean that lies beyond. Not only does Ellerman House boast Africa’s greatest art collection, but it also prides itself on its world-class wine selection. The rooms are light and airy, and absolutely spacious; the food is entirely exquisite; and its prime location makes Ellerman House the ideal place to be if you wish to explore the romantic city of Cape Town.

To find out more about these stunning places, click  here or why not take a look at our Royal Romance Tour which combines the beauty, wilderness, adventure, and excitement of Africa by taking you to four different destinations that define luxury and privacy? We promise it will be a tour to remember!

Africa’s Top 5 Bucket-list Experiences

If travelling to Africa isn’t on your bucket list yet, we’re here to tell you why it should most definitely be. We have compiled a list of the top five African experiences that we think definitely deserve a place on your bucket list. We even have great links to spectacular, first-class places for you to stay at while you cross off your African bucket list items. These are the types of experiences that will remain entrenched in your memory… forever!

  1. Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Known as the ‘greatest wildlife show on earth,’ the Great Migration is a mind-blowing phenomenon that should not be missed by anyone who loves Africa. For a sneak peak of this incredible spectacle watch our video here. Over a million wildebeest make their way through the vast plains of the Serengeti to find better grazing areas. It is the most exquisite mass movement of land animals that takes place in the entire world. Escape to the Serengeti and spend some time in the National Park. If exclusive, and incredible game viewing is what you love, why not stay at Sasakwa House in Singita Sasakwa? It has exquisite views of the infinite Serengeti plains, and it gives one the feeling of going back in time to the colonial era. Singita Faru Faru is another gorgeous option, with its very own beach, and its classic safari lodge feel.

iconic-africa-east-africa-migration-african-luxury-safaris

  1. Climb Table Mountain.

If you’re planning a trip to the Cape, be sure to add hiking up Table Mountain to your bucket list. Once you’re at the top, you can admire the breath-taking view of Cape Town and you will realize the immense scale of the steep mountain slopes and the vast reach of the sparkling blue ocean. There are plenty of places to stay in Cape Town, from the grandiose Cape Grace Hotel to the Victorian beauty that is the Cape Cadogan which dates back to the 1800s, there is truly something for everyone.

  1. Soak in the beauty of Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls is an astounding natural wonder and it is the largest curtain of water in the world. The magic that is Victoria Falls deserves a place on anyone’s bucket list. We recommend staying at the Royal Livingstone Hotel if Victorian elegance is what you’re after. The Victoria Falls Hotel is another delightful place to stay with its tranquil gardens and its Edwardian grandeur. Wherever you stay, we guarantee that you will fall in love with the enchanting Victoria Falls.

victoria-falls-above-view

  1. Taste award-winning wine in the Cape Winelands.

Without a doubt, touring the Cape Winelands should certainly be on your bucket list. The Winelands boast spectacular views of captivating mountains and century old vineyards. If you’re looking for a place to stay, we suggest the idyllic valley of Franschhoek. Le Quartier Francais is one of our most favourite establishments. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to truly experience all that this incredible village has to offer. It has an uncanny ability to remind one of a time gone by.

  1. Visit the Kalahari Desert and walk with the Bushmen.

The Bushmen of the Kalahari are the nomads that have lived in the Kalahari Desert for thousands of years. They are remarkable hunters and experts at finding underwater springs. They make their own medicine by using plants from the Kalahari. No one would want to miss out on such an informative and interesting experience. You can stay in Tswalu at the Motse Lodge which is in the heart of the spellbinding Kalahari Desert. It is a place of ultimate peace and is the epitome of a luxury safari destination.

For more ideas on what incredible African experiences to add to your bucket list click here. 

A Day at Bushmans Kloof

Just less than 3 hours from Cape Town is this incredible, fairytale, luxury retreat. One of those that you have to “see it to believe it…” as it really does sound “too good to be true.”

We arrived at Bushman’s Kloof after a very busy week of work… from the minute we drove through the gates we were welcomed by an overwhelming sense of peace and space… we were on holiday… and in heaven at the same time!

Bushmans Kloof is one of those places that has just so much to offer you so to put it in perspective I’m going to take you through an average day at this sensational resort. As you will soon see – it’s far from average!

7:30 Wake up for tea/coffee and rusks in your room

 

8:00 Head off on a game drive with your expert guide. Expect to come across a variety of exquisite plains game including springbok, bontebok, red hartebeest, mountain zebra, gemsbok, black wildebeest and many more. Not to mention a plethora of exquisite Cape birdlife.

8:45 Tea, coffee and delicious treats in amongst the game on the edge of the dam

9:15 Visit some ancient rock paintings at one of the preserved bushman painting sites

10:00 Return to the lodge for a delicious 3 course breakfast in the lovely outdoor Makana restaurant

11:00 Take one of the bikes down into the reserve and go for a little safari/game cycle of your own

12:00 Stop off at the dam for a few laps from one end to the other

12:30 Perhaps take the canoes out for a little paddle and visit the cormorants and  Egyptian geese along the edges of the dam

13:30 A mouth-watering lunch is served at the Homestead where you are bound to be delighted by the service, food and presentation – all of which are sensational!

14:00 Relax on a lounger and have a little afternoon snooze under a warm African sun before dipping into the deep blue rim-flow pools and cooling off

15:00 Head up to the spa for a delightful full body massage and rain shower

16:00 Take some time out in the tranquillity room… finding your zen

16:15 Pop passed Makana to grab some sweet treats from high tea to wake you up for your game drive

16:30 Meet your guide back at the vehicle for the afternoon drive

18:00 Enjoy sunset cocktails or the traditional G&T out in the middle of the reserve with snacks and all. Watch as the fiery African sun descends beyond the rocky outcrops and day turns to night in what feels like the middle of nowhere!

19:30 Pre-dinner drinks await you around the fire in the boma area

20:00 Have your very own private dinner in the walled garden… the MOST romantic of settings. Set under a grove of olive trees, lit only by lanterns in amongst an exquisitely manicured garden – it’s just you, your loved one and the big African sky! Alternatively you can have dinner at Makana… an equally romantic setting.

20:30 Tuck into yet another delicious 3 course meal – the fillet, goat’s cheese salad and chocolate tart all come highly recommended!

22:00 Head out with your ranger on a night drive to do some star-gazing and learn about the galaxies

23:00 Crash… into your lush, oversized bed with only the softest cotton and go to sleep to the sound of the spotted eagle owl outside.

Now does this sound like something you can do for a day or two? I think so!

 

 

 

 

4 Royal Itineraries

For many years, we have enjoyed a great relationship with the highly respected Biden family and their beloved Royal Portfolio.

We’d like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to the team on their latest award, the “We Are Africa Design Africa Award 2017,” an outstanding accolade. Well done!

With an incredible collection of outstanding properties, magical spaces and unforgettable experiences it’s difficult to choose just one… so the team have put together some bespoke combinations just for you. The below itineraries really are fit for royalty so we have no doubt that you will be blown away by any one of them:

The Royal Itinerary

The Silo Hotel – 3 nights

La Residence – 2 nights

Birkenhead House – 2 nights

Royal Malewane – 3 nights

From USD 7777 | GBP 6000 | ZAR 105 000

South African Odyssey

Royal Malewane – 4 nights

The Silo Hotel – 3 nights

La Residence – 2 nights

From USD 8550 | GBP 6600 | ZAR 115 500

Classic Explorer

The Silo Hotel – 4 nights

Royal Malewane – 4 nights

From USD 8550 | GBP 6600 | ZAR 115 500

The Silo Cape Town Hotel View Dining Deck

The Fair Cape

The Silo Hotel – 3 nights

La Residence – 2 nights

Birkenhead House – 2 nightsFrom USD 2800 | GBP 2150 | ZAR 37 500

Please do give us a call if you need help choosing one of the above or need more information on any of these incredible itineraries.

 

10 Reasons to Holiday in South Africa

South Africa is different from other countries because it is a place where all holidaymakers can have fun—it absolutely has something special for everyone. If you’re looking for an escape into the wild, South Africa has some of the best game reserves in the world, and they are utterly bursting at the seams with wildlife. If you love sun, sand, and waves, you can visit one of the many spectacularly picturesque beaches along South Africa’s coastline. We believe that the expression ‘white sandy beach’ must have been coined whilst someone was lying on one of South Africa’s gorgeous beaches. South Africa is also home to some of the finest wines on the planet—be sure to book a tour of the Cape winelands if you’re a wine enthusiast or expert. If you love shopping and bustling cities, South Africa has those too! And the good news (as if you needed any more reasons to stay in South Africa)? South Africa has completely unrivalled luxury accommodation for guests to stay at while they soak in all of the wonders of South Africa. Here are our top ten reasons to holiday in South Africa.

  1. Affordability

At the top of our list of reasons to holiday in South Africa is, of course, affordability. Who wouldn’t want a luxury holiday at an affordable price? The excellent exchange rate makes South Africa one of the most affordable holiday destinations in the world. This means that you can literally ‘shop-till-you-drop’. You can spoil yourself, and your friends and family, during your stay in South Africa.

  1. Wildlife

When one thinks of South Africa, one thinks of safari adventures. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit if you’re planning a safari escape. From private and exclusive game reserves, to enormous game parks, South Africa has everything you need to enjoy a true African getaway. Most people know that South Africa is home to the Big Five, but what they might not know is that South Africa is also home to the Marine Big Five. You simply cannot visit this exquisite country without visiting the African bushveld. The wide-open spaces, lush vegetation, endless savannahs, big blue skies and breath-taking sunsets are there… just waiting for you. Not to mention the plethora of exquisite game just waiting to cross the path in front of you and once again… leave you breathless.

  1. Birdwatching

South Africa is most certainly a bird-watcher’s paradise. South Africa, alone, is home to approximately one tenth of the world’s bird population. The Kruger National Park is possibly the best place to visit if bird-watching is your passion. The Kruger Park is home to the elusive Ground Hornbill, Pel’s Fishing Owl and many other rare species that all bird watchers dream of spotting. One mustn’t forget the delightful penguins to be found in Simon’s Town in the Western Cape.

  1. Beaches

South Africa literally has hundreds of beaches. The best beaches can be found in Durban and Cape Town. If you love sunbathing and sunset picnics try one of Clifton’s four flawless beaches found at the base of Lion’s Head or Camps Bay at the foot of the impressive Twelve Apostles… and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

  1. Table Mountain

Table Mountain is South Africa’s pride and joy. It is something that is not to be missed. Visitors can either catch a cable-car to the top of the mountain or they can hike to the top, if they are feeling up to it, to enjoy a proper sense of the vastness of the mountain. You will be sure to spot plenty of birds and small animals, and you can enjoy the distinct smell of the lovely Fynbos (plants) that surrounds the area.

  1. Food and Wine

South Africa is certainly one of the wine capitals of the world. The Cape Winelands are a must see, but South Africa also offers its visitors lavish restaurants with the most delicious food. In fact, The Test Kitchen, at the Biscuit Mill in Cape Town, was actually voted one of the best restaurants in the world. Other award-winning restaurants include La Colombe in Cape Town, and The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais in Franschoek. South Africa’s top restaurants definitely put the country on any foodie’s map.

  1. History

Good news for history lovers—South Africa is a historical and cultural hotspot. South Africa boasts plenty of awesome museums and landmarks. Johannesburg offers one of the best cultural tours in the country—it includes visiting Constitutional Hill, exploring the Apartheid Museum, and touring Soweto. If you’re planning a trip to the Cape, a visit to Robben Island will definitely be in order. You can walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and contemplate all of his contributions to this beautiful country.

  1. Hiking and Walking trails

If you love hiking, South Africa’s most famous hiking trail, the Otter Trail, along the Wild Coast is a definite must! The Drakensburg is another pristine piece of South Africa that hikers will adore.

  1. Golf Courses

South Africa is home to many world renowned golf courses which can be found in the most astounding destinations. You can visit the Gary Player Golf course at Sun City which is only a two hour drive from Johannesburg. If you have planned a safari trip to the Kruger National park, you can also enjoy the Leopard’s Creek golf course.

  1. Adventures

Adrenaline junkies, rejoice! South Africa is certainly the place to be if you have a taste for adventure. You will find the world’s highest and most extraordinary bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge. It is a 216 metre drop which will definitely get your heart pumping! You can also tour the Wilderness coastline by paragliding 100 metres above the sea or explore some of our exquisite rivers on foot. When it comes to adventures, South Africa truly has it all.

If these are not reason enough and you need more inspiration on why to visit our beautiful country – please do let us know and we will be more than happy to provide it!

Property of the Month – La Residence

Iconic Africa has for many years, enjoyed a great relationship with the highly respected and well-renowned Royal Portfolio.

With an incredible collection of outstanding properties it’s difficult to choose just one! However, this month we would like to pay special tribute to the property voted Travel & Leisure Magazine’s Worlds Best in 2016, the crown jewel of the Franschhoek valley, La Residence.

Watch the video below to get a feel for the magic that awaits at La Residence.

Here are a few reasons why this property stands out for us this month:

Perched amongst the vineyards, on the slopes of the beautiful Franschhoek Mountains is the pinnacle of luxury and unrivalled piece of heaven – La Residence. Voted Conde Nast’s No 1 Hotel in the World in 2013 amongst a myriad of other awards, La Residence is a must for any bucket list. The sprawling green lawns speckled with majestic springbok, the private dam complete with island, rowboat and soft flowing willow trees, instil an awe-inspiring sense of peace. La Residence opened its doors in 2008 and as a flagship property of the illustrious Biden family-owned Royal Portfolio, has been embracing and astounding guests with an unparalleled level of luxury ever since.

A Luxurious Wineland Wonder

Tuscan inspired, the horse-shoe shaped manor wraps around an exquisitely manicured courtyard, decadent pool and endless panoramic wineland backdrop. Regal outside and in, the décor is unapologetically opulent and laden with colossal mirrors, massive Persian carpets, eloquent vases, contemporary works of art and antique statement pieces. The tranquillity of the hotel flows throughout as the vaulted ceilings and stately arches blend inside with outside inviting you to fully appreciate the breath-taking setting.

While the ultimate in refinement and sophistication La Residence retains a welcoming and comfortable nature. Relax with a book from the library in one of the sublime lounges or on a plush day bed on the patio. Put your feet up and lie back under a perfectly manicured palm and enjoy the warmth of the African sun. The sound of soft jazz will waft over you and transport you into another world! If you are in the mood, wander off to the sensational spa for a Swedish massage or even an out-of-this-world deep cleansing Pinotage facial.

Lavish Rooms

If you can tear yourself away from the tranquillity that is the heart of the hotel, to go back to your room I assure you you won’t regret it. Although they are all extraordinary in their own way, our favourite of the 11 individually fashioned rooms is the Nomatemba Suite. Inspired by the African sun, the eclectic energy of this suite is overwhelming. With hues of orange, peach and buttercup yellow the king size bed, antique bedside lamps, lavish couches and exquisite African artwork provide the perfect sanctuary to take in the exquisite panoramic blues and greens of your surroundings. Why not have a bubble bath in the swanky free-standing bath or sit outside on the balcony and watch the activities of the neighbouring vineyards and plum orchard while sipping on some of La Residence’s flagship Rose – the Rosemary Jane 2008, which in keeping with the family values is named after the Royal Portfolio’s Managing Director, Matthew Biden’s wife – Rosemary Biden.

Incredible Service

The staff at La Residence are the epitome of true African hospitality and their wholehearted commitment to excellence is impenetrable. There isn’t a request they haven’t had from guests and they oblige willingly with a smile and laugh. The staff will direct you to the best restaurants and wine farms the valley has to offer, so be sure to ask them as the infinite choices will no doubt overwhelm you.

Delectable Cuisine

Any meal at La Residence is a wonder to behold. Seated either under the tremendous terracotta arches overlooking the lawns, pool and mountain or in the classical dining room on a burgundy winged-back armchair you are in for a revelation. The menu is specifically crafted each day and so you will never have the same dish twice. For lunch we recommend the Croque Madame with a side of the Gorgonzola salad – a treat for cheese lovers. Dinner is equally as magical an affair. Begin your night with a glass of the Graham Beck Brut – the very same Cap Classique that both Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama toasted with, on their inauguration dinners. Supper is equally complimented by South Africa’s infamous Meerlust Rubicon. The seared prawns, braised pork loin and red wine poached pear is a combination that comes highly recommended!

La Residence is a 45 minute drive from Cape Town but only seconds after entering the extensive 30 acre estate you inevitably feel like a celebrity in a world you can only but wish was yours. Whether you are a wine connoisseur, a mountain biker or a food enthusiast the Franschhoek Valley is for you and if it is the ultimate in luxury and homeliness that you desire, La Residence is the place for you!

 

 

Lime, Cardamom and Blueberry Gin Fizz

“One of my very favourite things to keep me company on peaceful evenings in the bush, when the sun is setting, the dust is settling and the night-time creatures are starting to come alive is a Gin and Tonic. The added notes of cardamom and lime make this one extra special, and the pretty pinkness from the blueberry skins is hard not to love.” Sarah Graham.

Ingredients

  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 4 tots gin
  • 600ml tonic
  • Lots of ice

What to do

1. Add lime zest, cardamom pod, sugar and blueberries to your pestle and mortar. Crush the cardamom pod to release the seeds and mix everything together into a rough paste.

2. Transfer the mixture to a large glass jug, adding lime juice, gin and tonic water to taste, and lots of ice.

Photo from ‘Sarah Graham’s Food Safari Season 2’ by Ricardo de Leça.

For more of Sarah’s delicious food safari recipes click here. 

Top SA FAQs

Planning a trip to South Africa can be daunting, especially if you haven’t visited before. Not to worry, to make things easier for you we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about South Africa to help you prepare for your South African adventure.

  1. When is the best time to visit South Africa?

The best time to visit really depends on the type of experience you’re looking for. You can visit South Africa at any time of the year but certain seasons are better for certain activities. If you’re planning to go on safari, August to October is a great time. June to October is the best time to whale watch, and if you love diving and surfing, April until September is the ideal time to visit. November to February is the prime time to come to South Africa if you want to visit the beaches and enjoy warm temperatures and sunny skies!

  1. Where can I stay once I’m in South Africa?

South Africa offers a wide variety of accommodation. You can choose anything from ‘bed and breakfasts,’ safari camps and game lodges, to five-star hotels and guest houses. Here are a few of our top recommendations at some of South Africa’s most exquisite destinations: Kruger, Madikwe, Cape Town, and the Cape Winelands. 

 

  1. What is South Africa’s time zone?

South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and it is eight hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time. It is one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, and it is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time. South Africa doesn’t have daylight saving and there is no difference in time between South Africa and its neighbouring countries. There is also no time difference between any of the provinces of South Africa.

  1. What type of currency do I need for a South African holiday?

You will need the South African Rand. Because the Rand is weaker than the Pound and Dollar, South Africa is the perfect destination for an affordable holiday for international visitors. International travellers can enjoy great value for money when it comes to accommodation, eating out at restaurants, and shopping.

  1. How much should I tip?

It is customary to tip for good service in South Africa. You should tip your porter R5.00 for every item, taxis should be given 10% of the bill, and you should tip your waiters and waitresses 10-15% of the bill depending on the service you receive. If official and unofficial parking guards assist you with parking your car, or if they look after it while you’re shopping, you should give them a tip too—any small change will be greatly appreciated.

  1. Can I use my cell phone in South Africa?

There are four mobile phone service providers in South Africa, namely Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Virgin Mobile. You can purchase pay-as-you-go airtime and a sim card easily and cheaply.

  1. Can I use my credit card in South Africa?

Yes, all major credit cards are accepted by most hotels, shops, and restaurants. However, you need to make sure that you carry your passport with you because it may be requested.

  1. Where can I change currency?

You can exchange your foreign currency at most of the local banks or through a Bureaux de Change. There are plenty of banks and ATMs all over South Africa.

Please do let us know if there are any other questions or worries that we can help you with?

The Cape Winelands—One of the World’s Great Wine Regions

The Cape Winelands are one of the great wine capitals of the world—they manage to compete with the likes of Bordeaux, Adelaide, and Verona. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to one of the wine capitals, we highly recommend the Cape Winelands. The winelands offer a unique and incredible experience—one that is definitely worth crossing off your bucket list.

wine1

The overwhelming beauty of the Cape Winelands is something that one won’t easily forget. Although places like Adelaide and Bordeaux each have their own allure, they cannot compete with the absolutely picturesque landscape that the Cape Winelands boast. The winelands manage to combine quaint history, perfect natural beauty, and thrilling adventure together to create an utterly unforgettable escapade to Africa.

wine2

The first, and possibly most famous, wine district that is an absolute ‘must’ if you’re planning a trip to the Cape Winelands is, of course, spectacular Stellenbosch. It is a convenient thirty minute drive from Cape Town and it dates back to 1679. If it’s history that you’re after, Stellenbosch is the ideal district for you. It is the second oldest preserved town in South Africa with buildings that are characterised by their Victorian, neo-Dutch, and Georgian architectural style. From its superb five-star restaurants to its lively arts and culture scene, Stellenbosch has so much on offer. There’s a reason Stellenbosch has earned its reputation as the Wine and Food Capital of South Africa.

If adventure is what you’re after, then another beautiful district to visit is Ceres. Ceres is known for its amazingly fresh fruit and fruit juices but, what you may not know is that it is the perfect destination for enthusiastic thrill-seekers. Visitors can treat themselves to game and nature reserves and there are plenty of hiking trails for passionate hikers. If these activities aren’t adventurous enough for you, you could always treat yourself to Ceres’ excellent 4×4 routes, or you could try out the breath-taking zip line if you’re feeling brave enough.

The gorgeous Worcester wine and olive route is another district that should not be missed if you’re touring the Cape Winelands. It is the most centrally located district and it boasts twelve magnificent wine cellars as well as the Willow Creek Olive Estate. The Worcester wine and olive route truly has something for everyone. This district is particularly scenic because it is surrounded by the spectacular Brandwacht and Langeberge mountains. Guests can treat themselves to the best olive products that South Africa has to offer whilst indulging in glasses of award-winning wines. The route also caters to adventurous guests who can delight in the abundance of outdoor activities which include mountain biking, fishing, golfing, and hiking.

Perhaps the most beautiful, and certainly our favourite, district is Franschhoek. Franschhoek manages to combine history, culture, food, and fine wine into one magnificently memorable experience. Surrounded by spectacular mountain slopes, with stunning vineyards as far as the eye can see, Franschhoek is certainly not to be missed. Make this idyllic valley your home for a few days whilst you indulge in all Franschhoek has to offer.

wine3

Why not stay at Leeu House—a 5-star traditional Cape Dutch country guesthouse with world-class cuisine?

Leeu-House---Pool-exterior-001-optB

La Residence, voted No 1 Hotel in the World in 2013 by Conde Nast, is the absolute pinnacle of luxury and is also nestled amongst vineyards on the slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains.

lares

If you enjoy the country life and need some time out to relax, consider staying at La Petite Ferme—the perfect place to escape the bright city lights. La Petite Ferme promises to spoil guests with first-class wine and delicious food. Wherever you choose to stay, we guarantee Franschhoek will not disappoint.

lpf

There are plenty of other districts to visit in the Cape Winelands for you to discover and adding the winelands to your bucket list is definitely worth it! If Franschhoek has caught your eye then give us a call and we’ll ensure the experience of a lifetime for you in this fantastic valley.

Lamb & Lentil Bobotie

Bobotie is a much-loved South African meat dish that’s traditionally Cape Malay in origin. It’s a deliciously fragrant baked meat dish that’s laced with Indian spices and topped with a simple egg custard mixture. It’s usually served with fluffy rice bright, colourful sambals on the side. It’s also a no-mess, no-fuss one pot wonder, and it’s a great make-ahead dish if you’re entertaining. Here, I’ve added a little extra goodness and bulk by adding in a good handful of lentils, which you’re welcome to do too, and the recipe works just as well with with beef.

lamb-and-lentil-bobotie1

Ingredients

Cooks in:        Serves:4-6

For the Bobotie

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp each of dried mixed herbs
  • 1 Tbsp chutney
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of freshly ground back pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 slices wholewheat bread, soaked in water, lightly squeezed and mashed with a fork (or try using my gluten-free seed loaf
  • ½ cup seedless raisins
  • 1 x 400g can lentils, drained
  • 2 Tbsp flaked almonds
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Baked egg topping

  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs

For the Sambal

  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • ½ apple, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • Zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
  • Small handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Pinch each of salt and sugar
  • Mix together and check for seasoning

What to do

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease an ovenproof dish well. I prefer a slightly smaller dish that makes a deeper, moister bobotie.

2. Heat the oil and butter in a pan on medium-high heat and fry the mince, stirring often until loose and crumbly. Add the onions and fry until soft and translucent.

3. Add the garlic, apple, ginger, spices, herbs and chutney and continue cooking for another minute. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice then add the mashed bread, raisins, lentils and almonds.

4. Spread the mixture in the ovenproof dish and insert the bay leaves.

5. Beat all the ingredients for the topping with a fork and pour over the top.

6. Bake uncovered for 30–35 minutes, or until the custard topping is firm and golden brown.

7. While your bobotie bakes mix together your sambal and serve on the side.

For more on Sarah’s fourth cookbook that will on shelves soon click here.

Month on Instagram

January has flown by already and 2017 is now in full swing!

The year has got off to a great start. We’ve reflected back on 2016, explored some stunning new lodges, gone on an expedition in search of leopards, created our 2017 bucket list and delved deeper into the Kruger National Park.

Just in case you missed out, scroll down here for a sneak peek at what we’ve been up to or click here for our latest Bush Diary Video. #luxury #safari #travel #africa

Monkey stare. #3 of our @jamesrahendry #IATakeover #iconicafrica #safari #bucketlist #monkey #wildlife #africa #travel

A photo posted by Iconic Africa (@iconicafrica) on