Beautiful landscapes, abundant wildlife, world-class cities, a rich diversity of people, culture and heritage – and the first Bill of Rights in the world to explicitly protect lesbians and gays from discrimination – is making South Africa the destination of choice for gay holiday makers.
Brand South Africa reporter
From Cape Town in the Western Cape through the beautiful Garden Route, up to Johannesburg and on to the Kruger National Park, there is a daisy chain of gay friendly establishments to choose from.
The Mother City and the gay capital of South Africa, Cape Town is enchanting – arguably one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Cradled by Table Mountain and looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, it is the oldest city in South Africa, with immense charm and historical interest.
Cape Town’s attractions include the vibrant Waterfront development, eclectic restaurants and unbelievable nightlife. Take a walk or cable-car ride up Table Mountain, enjoy a boat cruise or visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The beaches and nature reserves of the Cape peninsula are also close at hand.
- Guest House One Belverdere is found on the city centre slopes of Table Mountain in the stylish and quiet suburb of Oranjezicht. Ideal for holidays and business, it is within walking distance of the buzzing and trendy shops and restaurants of Kloof and Long Street. Gay men only.
- Huijs Haerlem is close to the Waterfront, Cape Town city centre and the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay. Although attractions like Kirstenbosch, art galleries and museums are all nearby, guest may be tempted to stay and relax by the solar heated pool, soaking up the sunshine in peace and tranquillity. Gay owned and/or managed.
- Kensington Place, nestled on the foothills of Table Mountain, offers the ideal base from which to explore the Mother City while also being able to enjoy fine cuisine, contemporary design and breathtaking views of the city, harbour and mountain. Gay-friendly.
- Parker Cottage is centrally situated at the foot of Table Mountain in a stylishly renovated Victorian house with all modern conveniences. Gay owned and/or managed.
- Cape Town Tourism
The West Coast
North of Cape Town is the West Coast, a remote and beautiful place of quaint fishing villages, empty beaches, immense bird colonies and carpets of Namaqualand spring flowers. The West Coast’s unique hospitality is typified by its rustic open air seafood restaurants.
- Blue Dolphin Bed & Breakfast lies in Paternoster, a historic fishing village, and offers bed and breakfast rooms or self-catering cottages on the dunes with uninterrupted views of the sea. Gay owned and/or managed.
- West Coast Tourism
Next on the route is the Overberg region of the Western Cape, with a rich history and dotted with unspoilt villages and towns. Villiersdorp is a good base from which to explore the area of Franschhoek, South Africa’s gourmet capital, with Caledon and its Victorian spa baths only 30 kilometres away. Other attractions include hiking trails, 4×4 routes and a nine-hole golf course lying alongside the Theewaterskloof dam.
- Dagbreek Museum Restaurant and Bed & Breakfast offers a glimpse of the past in its restaurant, situated in Villiersdorp’s only national monument, with country home cooking and comfortable accommodation. Gay owned and/or managed.
- Overberg Tourism
Travelling east, the historic Route 62 meanders through a region of exquisite beauty dominated by rugged mountains. In the valleys are fruit orchards, vineyards, elegant Cape Dutch wine estates and charming rural towns. Attractions include hiking trails through the mountains, hot springs and wine-tasting.
- Fraai Uitzicht 1798, Dutch for “beautiful view”, is a retreat in the heart of the Robertson Valley on Route 62. Lying on the slopes of the Langeberg mountains, it is a historic wine and guest farm with an award-winning restaurant and offers a real vineyard experience. Gay owned and/or managed.
- The Montagu Country Hotel, built in 1875, is a beautiful Art Deco establisment and the oldest accommodation establishment in the Western Cape village of Montagu. It is a typical country hotel with an air of stylish simplicity. Gay owned and/or managed.
- Route 62 Tourism
The Whale Route
Alternatively, follow the southern coastal road to the Hermanus region. Here a series of picturesque seaside villages boast some of the finest land-based whale-watching in the world from August to December, as well as spectacular mountain scenery and sandy beaches for swimming, bodysurfing and sunset strolls.
Enjoy a nature walk among the spring flowers and mountain fynbos, or visit the villages of Arniston and Cape Agulhas – the southernmost point on the African continent. Nearby Gans Bay offers exciting great white shark diving and viewing excursions.
- Skuinshuis is a peaceful retreat in picturesque Vermont, on the Whale Riviera of Hermanus, with spectacular sea and mountain views of the famous Walker Bay. Gay owned and/or managed.
- Hermanus Tourism
- Cape Agulhas Tourism
The Klein Karoo
The Klein Karoo – little Karoo – is a wide vista of semidesert, with the name “Karoo” coming from the San word for “thirst”. There are many interesting things to see and do in the region. From port wine tasting to a visit to the world-renowned Cango Caves, or an ostrich farm, the area offers tranquility and peacefulness under a fire of stars at night.
- Die Gat Guesthouse is a farmstead and historical monument in the Middelplaas valley near De Rust. It has been home to the Schoeman family since the early 1800s. The old homestead’s character has been retained, such as the paint of German origin on the interior walls of the voorkamer (lounge), the original architecture and its picturesque gay friendly environment.
- Klein Karoo Wine Route
The Garden Route
The Garden Route snakes along the southern Cape coast, getting its name from the lush indigenous forests and temperate climate. This region offers a spectacular headlands giving way to superb Indian Ocean beaches. Behind the sand dunes lie wetland lakes, forests and soaring mountains. The route is perfect for both those wanting to relax – as well as for more active types, with a number of operators offering cycling, abseiling, bungee jumping, canoeing and kloofing (canyoning).
Central to the Garden Route is the beautiful coastal town of Knysna, with a spectacular lagoon, a lush indigenous forest and spectacular scenery. Every May the town hosts the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, a gay festival with four days of non-stop entertainment for anyone who enjoys a party. In July there’s the Knysna Oyster Festival, offering oyster braais, oyster tasting, oyster eating competitions and other molluscular activities, as well as live entertainment and lots of sporting events.
- Palms Wilderness lies near the Wilderness Nature Reserve in the heart of the Garden Route. Enjoy luxury en-suite double rooms with stylish ethnic furnishings in close proximity to ostrich farms, the Cango Caves, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Tsitsikamma National Park. Gay owned and/or managed.
- Garden Route Tourism
- Knysna Tourism
- Plettenberg Bay Tourism
The Eastern Cape
The Eastern Cape stretches from Cape St Francis to the Wild Coast. Its attractive white beaches are backed by undulating rolling pastures, bushveld and forested dunes. This gentle beauty belies both the region’s bloody history and the drama of its interior, with the grand vistas and majesty of the Great Karoo and superb malaria-free game reserves. The Addo Elephant National Park is home to many wildlife species such as elephant, black rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard and many species of antelope.
- Elephant House is an exclusive thatched lodge in the sun-drenched Sundays River Valley on the edge of the Addo Elephant Park. Courtyards and deep verandas furnished with antiques, Persian carpets and the owner’s private collection of African art provide a wonderful ambience and cosseted luxury. Gay-friendly.
- Eastern Cape Tourism
Moving north, the province of Gauteng is home to Johannesburg, known as the City of Gold and the pulsating heart of South Africa’s industrial and commercial life.
The city has a thriving gay and lesbian community, with an annual pride march and a gay nightlife district called the Heartlands – a development bankrolled by the city to the tune of R32-million.
Close to the city there’s the beautiful Magaliesburg mountain range, ideal for hiking, picnicking and visiting game farms, quaint roadside shops, cheese farms, restaurants and more. Hartbeespoort Dam offers watersports and lazy days messing around in boats, while the nearby Cradle of Humankind World Heritage fossil sites have been developed to allow tourists to explore our fascinating origins.
Kruger National Park
In the northeast of the country lies the massive Kruger National Park, an area of land larger than Israel and teeming with all the African wildlife you could wish for. The park has its own rest camps, with chalets, camping grounds and more upmarket accommodation. If it’s real luxury you’re after, there are a number of private game farms on the border of the park where you can enjoy some pampering after a day in the wilds of Africa.
- Djuma Game Reserve is situated in the prestigious Sabi Sand Reserve next to the Kuger National Park and offers the best in game viewing, accommodation and service excellence. Guests have the choice of three unique camps, and can enjoy superb game drive safaris in open vehicles and fascinating game walks with well qualified rangers and trackers. Gay friendly.
- South African National Parks
- Kruger Park Private Reserves
- Kruger 2 Canyons
- Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.