Ready for a face-to-face with the Great White Shark? This trip to South Africa has it covered. By Anita Rao Kashi
Gansbaai, two hours south of Cape Town, is almost at the southern tip of the continent and is famous for its concentration of great white sharks. For adrenaline junkies, this is the place to get up close and personal with them. Cage diving, during which the adventurous are suspended in the water in galvanised steel cages, is the way to interact with the sharks, which swim around and come very close to the cages.
Indigenous and foreign influences have seamlessly mingled in South Africa to evolve a unique cuisine whose dishes are quite ubiquitous across the country. Sample boerewors (traditional beef sausage with spices), Malay curry in Cape Town, malva pudding made with apricot jam and served with cream, a braai (barbecue) meal in Johannesburg, bunny chow (bread loaf stuffed with spicy curry) in Durban and chakalaka (a veggie dish served with every meal).
The Congo Caves are located at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains and is a series of limestone caves with stunning stalagmite and stalactite formations. Explore the cave system, supposedly stretching over four kilometres, by climbing through narrow passages and crawling through small crevasses, and marvel at the unusual and surreal rock formations and such features as the Devil’s Chimney, a narrow (45-cm-wide) passage. Don’t miss the prehistoric bushman paintings.
Overlooking the verdant Karkloof forests and valley in Pietermaritzburg, Karkloof Safari Spa combines luxury and relaxation. The sprawling spa offers a variety of therapies and has 17 treatment rooms with views of the native bush and gardens as well as a Moroccan-flavoured Rhassoul, a floatation pool, Kneipp therapy pools, open-air jacuzzi, saunas, steam rooms, and an unusual Reflections Lounge, meant as a place of quietude and for inner reflection.
Tintswalo, the only luxury hotel in Cape Town, is located in Table Mountain National Park. It is stunningly situated, at the edge of the water, and offers fabulous ocean views. Besides being a luxury cocoon, it also has authentic food. In the Franschhoek wine region, the La Cle de Montagnes, a five-star complex with four villas, is a haven of lavish comfort and privacy surrounded by beautiful hills and valleys filled with vineyards.