We've been venturing into the Cape of South Africa for over a decade to visit old friends, always making new ones, and discovering places locals go from eateries to farmers markets, venturing into townships with local residents, and hitting a range of the best vineyards and distillers in the Cape wine regions.
Cultural connections in the township
Experiencing a black township first-hand is a really important aspect of coming to know South Africa
, and this enduring consequence of apartheid. Having the right local guide like our man Thabang, makes all the difference. Black South Africans living in townships still don't see very many whites in their neighborhood, and many are as curious to know why we want to come as we are interested in learning about life in the township. Thabang is very sensitive and respectful, particularly to avoid making a showcase of the poverty, which is all around, by personally introducing us with locals to have conversations and fun exchanges with witch doctors, artists, teachers, care providers and kids in schools and orphanages, and local entrepreneurs who are proud to share their accomplishments.
A highlight of our township visits is lunch in a local home like Shelia and her daughter Monica who prepare typical South African fare, share stories about their family, and showcase local teen musicians who play upbeat South African rhythms on drums and xylophones.
Thabang takes us into a traditional shebeen private pub in the heart of Gugulethu Township.
Oysters and champagne for breakfast
If you're in Cape Town during spring and summer (October-May) and want to hang with locals go to one of the many colorful food, craft and entertainment markets. On Saturdays, we recommend the Old Biscuit Mill, a gathering spot of talented chefs, artists, and entertainers where locals go to shop, dine and hang out together in Woodstock, a vibrant neighborhood of Cape Town.
Day or night it's a happening place, but on Saturday morning it's the place to graze among food trucks and assorted specialty sandwiches, pasta preparations, seafood dishes, dessert stands, fresh fruits and vegetables, and our favorite: pull up a seat at a long table with locals to feast on fresh oysters and champagne for breakfast.
The full terroir
In the reconnaissance for our wine and wildlife safari, Anne and I tasted, and we were tantalized by, amazing South African wines and cuisines produced and prepared by many of the best winemakers and specialty chefs. As a wine region specialist and guest relations manager for one of South Africa's biggest international distributors Kara helps us with her personal and professional connections for special tastings with the winemakers themselves. A dedicated foodie, she lives on a wine farm in Stellenbosch, in the heart of the beautiful Cape Winelands, and knows many of the winemakers and distillers, big and boutique, who produce South Africa’s finest world class wines and spirits.
If you take more than one day for wine touring in the Cape, you can hit Waterford, the beautiful Stark Conde property, and other well-known producers in and around Stellenbosch and Franschoek, but give yourself a little more time and we can also take you to some of the most fun and innovative garage vintners and distillers such as 'The Bear'. He's like a mad scientist. When he's at home, he receives real afficionados into his tiny facility to taste his latest wines from the barrel, and then sip from among dozens of exotic brandies he produces from a multitude of endemic herbs of the South African fynbos.
There are so many dining options in Cape Town and the wine region, and whether you're at the farmer's market, a restaurant in the city, or invited to a local brai (BBQ) at a vineyard, South African cuisine is fresh, local from turf or sea, with a multitude of new and old world influences from Europe and Asia, especially spices of the resident Malay peninsula population. Our favorite, over-the-top dining experience is the 8-course, wine-paired African inspired surprise menu prepared in Chef Margot Jansen’s award winning Tasting Room located in the lovely, quaint and luxe Le Quartier Francais in the village of Franschoek.
So, when you are planning your trip to South Africa
and the time to be in the Cape, if you like wine and cuisine, we can help you plan extra your days to either wind down after your South African safari, or if come in early to adjust to the new time zone before your safari. Many travelers just spend a day or two in Cape Town to see the city and the Cape, hike Table Mountain, and catch a winery or two outside of town. But, with a few days in the beautiful Cape we can hook you up with locals to venture into a township to learn about black South Africa and its history of apartheid, take you kayaking amongst penguins at Boulders Beach, golfing on amazing courses, cycling in wine country, and tasting some of the finest wine and cuisine in the most beautiful winelands on Earth.
Keeping in wild in Africa,
Questions about our trips to Africa