The best way to plan a trip to South Africa is to imagine you're ordering a meal in a superb restaurant: there are more tempting possibilities than you could hope to try in one visit – and they're all amazing.
As an appetizer, we suggest a classic train journey, travelling overnight in luxury as you enjoy the scenery from Pretoria to Cape Town. Set between the ocean and flat-topped Table Mountain, South Africa's second city is among the most beautiful in the world. Head up the mountain – by cable car or hiking the trails that wind among the cliffs – to take in spectacular views surrounded by some 1,500 species of indigenous flora.
When it comes to choosing wines for your South African feast, you're clearly in luck. Since a few oenophile French Huguenots joined the first settlers on the Cape, this region has produced some of the world's finest vintages. We'll design a tasting route around your preferences, arranging visits with vintners who proudly pour you some of their best.
As a main course, you can't go wrong with a nature-based adventure. The classic Garden Route lives up to its fame, linking beautiful beaches, mountains and river valleys. But if you'd prefer something a bit more exclusive, we have some great options. In the northwest, the arid Namaqualand region is transformed every spring into a sea of wildflowers – heaven for painters and photographers. Or head to Lesotho, one of Africa's few remaining kingdoms, to explore the breathtaking mountains on foot – or even better on horseback, immersing yourself in the local way of life.
Of course South Africa offers myriad safari opportunities. Kruger National Park is justly popular, with its elegant lodges and limitless wildlife viewing. But for a more individual experience we'd recommend one of the acclaimed Singita private reserves, or properties such as Makanyane Safari Lodge in the Madikwe region or the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. Everywhere, the diversity of game is unbelievable: black and white rhinos, lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, cheetahs and even increasingly rare African wild dogs. And after an exhilarating day in the wilderness, enjoy massages and aromatherapy in the bush spa.
As for dessert, why not head to the coast for whale watching in De Hoop Nature Reserve? Or diving (safely) among the great white sharks at Gansbaai? Or learning to surf on the warm-water beaches of the Eastern Cape?
We'll let you peruse the menu a while and then come back to take your order...