A July 11 Travel article about South Africa incorrectly referred to Cape Town's Victoria & Alfred Waterfront as the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. The article also said that South Africans drive on the right side of the road; they drive on the left. (Published 7/20/04)
GETTING THERE: Is ugly. You'll be in transit for more than 24 hours between D.C. and Cape Town. Best bets are Delta/South African Airways, connecting in Atlanta and Johannesburg; British Airways, connecting in London; or Lufthansa, connecting in Frankfurt. The BA flight, for example, goes for about $1,850 round trip.
We worked with Washington discounter Around the World Travel (202-463-6863), paying $1,406 for the Delta/South African Airways option, including an end-of-trip flight from Port Elizabeth that connected with our Cape Town flight home.
GETTING AROUND: We arranged our lodgings, guides and rental car through Dreamcatcher (011-27-21-976-9372, www.dreamcatcher.co.za), a Cape Town travel agency. It helped plan our itinerary and provided detailed driving directions, but tacked a service fee onto most providers' prices; direct prices are quoted below.
Major U.S. rental companies are located at airports. South Africans drive on the right; in general, roads are in excellent condition, except in some townships. South Africans are very conscious of keeping car doors locked in big cities; in Johannesburg, street signs warn of "hijacking hot-spots." We were also cautioned against stopping for hitchhikers or scammers who wave for help on the roadside.
WHEN TO GO: South Africa's seasons are the opposite of ours, with peak time around the end-of-year holidays. To avoid mobs of vacationing South Africans, visit after the first week in January.
WHERE TO STAY: Tilly's Homestay (11 Upington St., Paarl, 011-27-21-862-5151, firstname.lastname@example.org) charges $32.50 per person for the entire second floor of her house, with a massive English-style hot breakfast. Hibiscus House (East Stilbaai, 011-27-28-754-1181, email@example.com), beautifully situated on the tidal Goukou River, a half-mile stroll from the Indian Ocean beach, has rooms for $32.50 per person.
Gewels Guesthouse (16 George Rd., Mossel Bay, 011-27-44-691-2232, http://home.mweb.co.za/ge/gewelsbb) has water views and Victorian-meets-1960s decor; about $37 per person, with breakfast. Islandview Guest House (7 Eastford St., Knysna, 011-27-44-385-0200) has clean, colorful backpacker-style rooms for $24 per person, with breakfast.
WHERE TO EAT: At Boeta Ebrahima's Cape Malay Cuisine (52 Leafmore Rd., Kenwyn), our exotic, home-cooked feast was about $13 per person; reservations required at 011-27-21-761-4476. Strandvelders Community Tourism Services (Tourism Office, Heide Street, 011-27-28-754-2465, firstname.lastname@example.org) arranged our memorable dinner in Melkhoutfontein; $11 per person. Emqolweni Kamama Cafe (Kwanonqaba, Mossel Bay), South Africa's only non-alcoholic shebeen (informal cafe), serves drinks and snacks; pay what you wish. At the Anchorage Restaurant (Dolphin Bay Hotel, Louis Fourie Road and Bakke Street, Mossel Bay), we enjoyed smoked ostrich with melon, fresh oysters, red Roman fish and ostrich goulash with mushrooms for about $56 for two.
About 20 miles from Paarl, La Petite Ferme (just beyond Franschhoek on Pass Road; reserve in advance for a table with a view) combines gourmet cuisine with a mountainside location that takes in nearly all of the Stellenbosch Valley. Lunch with wine was $50 for two. For pizza, try Delfino's (The Point, Mossel Bay); $14 for two pies and beer. 28 Main (28 Main St., Knysna) offers crafts and crepes; a spicy karoo lamb crepe and a banana crepe were $9 with drinks. At Knysna Oyster Company (Long Street, Thesen Island), a dozen raw oysters, grilled fish, killer garlic bread and a bottle of South African bubbly for two was $60.
WHAT TO DO:
* Robben Island (Nelson Mandela Gateway, Victoria & Albert Waterfront, 011-27-21-409-5100 for museum, www.robben-island.org.za).Tours are about $24; reservations essential.
* In Melkhoutfontein, Strandvelders Community Tourism Services arranges walks, tours, meals and visits with local residents (see above). Our walk with a tour guide was $16.
* In Mossel Bay, Back Road Safaris (011-27-44-690-8150, email@example.com, or book through the Tourism Office, 011-27-44-691-2202, www.visitmosselbay.co.za) offers half-day "Meet the People" tours for $22 per person.
* The Dias Museum Complex (end of Market Street, Mossel Bay, 011-27-44-691-1067; 15 cents admission) includes the Post Office Tree, a botanical garden, the Dias museum and a shell museum.
* In Knysna, take a ferry to Featherbed Nature Reserve, with spectacular ocean scenery around every turn; $18 per person.
* The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe (011-27-44-801-8288), a full-size steam-engine train, travels the scenic 42-mile route between Knysna and George, where a transport museum houses a number of historic trains; $10.50 round trip.
INFO: South African Tourism, 212-730-2929, www.southafrica.net.
-- Gayle Keck