You’ll find no better way to round out a trip to Cape Town than to ramble out to the Cape Winelands. Less than an hour’s drive away, the countryside offers a welcome counterpoint to soccer’s fever-pitched intensity. Three Cape Wineland villages — Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl — form the ideal triumvirate for exploration
and tastings. Besides the great weather and gorgeous mountains, there are spectacular examples of Cape Dutch architecture and fertile valleys ripe with scented orchards and vineyards. Each village is a world unto itself, offering a diverse network of well-marked tree-lined wine trails. Over two sun-filled days in September, I sampled superb local cuisine and stunning wines, some of which are available in the United States. Here are my recommendations beginning with the three most-visited villages, as well as two closer-in destinations.

Bird Watching and Sunset Dhow Cruises on Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi and Malawi National Park are often overlooked for other destinations in Africa but those who make the trip to this “Friendly Heart of Africa” are rewarded with exceptionally dramatic scenery of craggy outcrops, plateaus and high mountains coupled with a wealth of adven-ture in and around what is considered to be Africa’s most beautiful lake. While safari-goers come for the sight of big game, here abundant wildlife sings a subtler, yet equally impressive song. Bird life abounds with fre-quent sightings of fish eagles and the magnificent Pel’s fishing owl. More than 500 species of fish populate the waters of the lake, a freshwater ‘sea’ surrounded by golden sand beaches.


Zambia's Mfuwe Lodge: Where Elephants RoamElephantsThe local elephants are so friendly at Zambia’s Mfuwe Lodge you may find one ambling through the front lobby on her way to a nearby grove of wild mango trees. A favorite of safari enthusiasts, Mfuwe owes its popularity to its magnificent location in South Luangwa National Park, a wildlife paradise. But its fame among many who visit comes from the informal visits of a local herd of elephants. It seems the mango grove has been a long-time favorite of the herd who see no reason to change their ways just be-cause a lodge was built along their historical route.


South African safari standoff: White Lion challenges rhinocerosLionsOn a chilly spring morning in the northern reaches of the arid heart of the vast Little Karoo region of South Africa our bucking Land Rover comes to a sudden halt. Around us, a desert landscape of rare succulent plants and low growing green and brown bushes frames itself against a backdrop of hills studded with shimmering quartz, some patches so daz-zling they resemble dozens of Hope diamonds.


South African Safarai: see the Big Five, lion, leopard, African buffalo, elephant and rhino LeopardFew places in the world offer the primal allure of Afri-ca and visitors to South Africa’s Sanbona Wildlife Re-serve experience first hand a place where the ecologi-cal clock has been turned back. Lion, leopard, African buffalo, elephant and rhino known as the Big Five all live in the wild here but Sanbona prefers to identify the Big Five as “high-profile” instead. Big Five was a term used by big-game hunters and it was their trophy hunting madness that drove these prized animals to the edge of extinction.

South Africa's Sanbona Wildlife Reserve gives two white lions to the United Arab EmiratesLion2Rare 18-month-old white lions, Sham-wari and Sanbona, have recently be-come ambassadors for the endangered white lion cause. The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve has donated the two young siblings to Al Ain, an ecologically sensi-tive wildlife park located in the desert of the United Arab Emirates.

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