Cape Town

When to come: Late March for the Cape Town Jazz Festival
Music is always a great way to experience a culture. The two-day festival, now in its 18th year, draws in about 40,000 spectators, so there are plenty of opportunities to mix, mingle and people watch. But as the festival comprises mostly South African artists, you get a feel for the musical tastes. The festival also features musical acts from all over the world, including the U.S. This year the festival lineup included En Vogue, The Internet and Digable Planets.

Cape Town Photo Gallery

Where to Stay: The Cape Grace Hotel Oprah Winfrey reportedly stayed here, and I happily take Lady O’s lead on this one. Located on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, you’re in a prime location to explore the waterfront’s plethora of shops, boutiques and restaurants. The hotel itself offers a bevy of enticing experiences. All the rooms are customized specifically for your stay with selected reading material and fresh flowers. An attentive check-in welcomes you with complimentary tea, coffee or sherry, during which you’re comfortably seated instead of lined up like you’re waiting for the next bank teller. Courtesy chauffeur transfers (by BMW, of course) are extended within a 6-mile radius. And their award-wining Signal restaurant and their Bascule Whiskey bar are to-do list musts.

What to Drink: Wine Of course, wine. But give Amarula a try. It’s a cream liqueur made from the fruit of the native marula tree.
What to Eat: Bunny Chow It’s curried chicken, lamb or beef served in a hollowed bread bowl. Braai is South Africa’s term for barbeque. Meats like beef, springbok and lamb are popular here, and grilled over fire is the most popular way to serve them. And because it’s coastal, Cape Town is a great location for fresh seafood.

Where to go Next: Johannesburg It’s the nation’s largest city and also where you’ll find the growing well-to-do class of black South Africans. In Sandton, known as the richest square mile in Africa, you’ll see the usual luxury retailers like Prada and Gucci but also boutique stores and the ubiquitous fashion retailers like H&M. Though it’s a shopper’s dream, the arts and museums are a Johannesburg highlight. Reserve a half day for the Apartheid Museum and a full day in Soweto, a former black township, where you can tour the Mandela family house and the Hector Pieterson Museum.

Durban Once a thriving beach town, the city is experiencing a rebirth. It’s home to the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, one of the largest malls in all of Africa. But the most coveted shopping is at the Durban flea markets, where the locals shop. You’re likely to get the best prices on your souvenir search and even snag some locally made handcrafted pieces. It’s also ideal for families, with affordable beachfront accommodations and the uShaka Marine World amusement park.

Safari For that epic experience to fill up your camera phone’s memory storage, Camp Jabulani in Hoedspruit is it. The lodge is located in a Big Five game reserve, so don’t be surprised to hear a few grumbles through the night while resting in their beautiful luxury cabins. But no worries, the property is fenced in, and attendants escort you back to your cabin at night. And if you do hear noises, it’s likely to come from the camp’s resident elephants, who are available for meet-and-greets and photo ops by day (the property no longer offers elephant-back safaris). The stay at the camp includes your camp drives, all your meals and snacks and a boma dinner, an African outdoor dining tradition, in which you feast on a spread of meats, stews and other South African specialties.

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