August 2019 South Africa: Winetasting Tour or Safari Adventure?

South Africa: Winetasting Tour or Safari Adventure?

South Africa has plenty of vineyards for ample wine time. 
South Africa has plenty of vineyards for ample wine time. 
Photo by James Penry/Getty Images 
Search for fine pinotage in the Cape Winelands or spy the “big five” in the wild.

South Africa holds a special place in Myrna Arroyo’s heart. The Virtuoso travel advisor experienced her first safari there, tracking a young cheetah on foot in a private game reserve and watching an elephant come so close to her vehicle in Kruger National Park that “it almost touched my companion’s camera lens.” The country is particularly attractive for first-time safari-goers, she notes, since English is widely spoken, there’s a solid tourism infrastructure, and travelers can find comfortable lodging within every budget. Plus, she adds, “I love that you can combine a safari with all the attractions in Cape Town.”

The advisor was equally impressed by the Cape Winelands, which she says is “every bit as beautiful as Napa Valley, but with monkeys!” South Africa’s wine industry has emerged as a world leader of ethical and environmentally focused trading practices, evidenced by the Integrity & Sustainability certification that adorns nearly every exported bottle. Arroyo, who is a certified sommelier and self-professed “wine snob,” calls the region’s vino “truly delicious.”

Whether wine or wildlife tops your list, any South Africa trip should include time to explore Table Mountain-backed Cape Town.
Whether wine or wildlife tops your list, any South Africa trip should include time to explore Table Mountain-backed Cape Town.
Photo by Don Bayley/Getty Images

Option 1: Sip

Though South African producers ship their wine around the world, Arroyo swears they “keep the best bottles for themselves!” Oenophiles can taste the country’s signature pinotage (a crossing of pinot noir and cinsaut) along with other varietals while visiting the Cape Winelands with Access Culinary Trips. A customizable nine-day tour includes a number of noteworthy culinary experiences – think cooking lunch in a traditional Zulu home – that, says the advisor, “would be hard to arrange on your own.” 
A South Africa must-see: Cheetahs in their natural habitat. 
A South Africa must-see: Cheetahs in their natural habitat. 
Photo by Ben McRae/Getty Images

Option 2: Safari

A tailor-made eight-day journey with Kensington Tours takes travelers to two private game reserves adjacent to Kruger National Park. Thornybush offers bush walks that, Arroyo says, “give you a different perspective on the animals,” while Sabi Sand is one of the best places to see Africa’s famed “big five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo). “Sabi’s nighttime safari game drives are a must,” she adds. 

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