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The Big Getaway


The Globe-Trotters
CAPE TOWN
As soon as that first zebra crosses your path, you’ll forget about the twenty-hour flight.
When to go: November through March
Hours from NYC: Twenty

Cape Town manages to feel simultaneously familiar and foreign. Magnificent waterfront properties set against the looming mountains are eerily reminiscent of the O.C., while the rolling green valleys of the nearby wine regions might recall Umbria. Then you see a baboon casually hobbling down the road and the city’s foreignness becomes very clear.

Where to Stay:
Nap off your jet lag at the elegant Cape Grace hotel (from $550). Some rooms have beautiful views over the waterfront and, in a few cases, terraces from which to enjoy them. Or venture outside the city center to the Kensington Place hotel (from $200), which has unfussy modern rooms and a plunge pool.

Where to Eat:
Adventurous foodies will be thrilled by South African fare, which includes an array of unusual game meat like zebra, warthog, and the local antelope, springbok. Check out French chef Franck Dangereux’s the Foodbarn, Cape Town’s budget-friendly ode to farm-to-table dining; Biesmiellah for Cape Malay specialities like mutton curry; and Black Marlin, the best place to sample the local catch and, if you’re lucky, spot whales.

To Do, by Day:
Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela served his time, is chilling but essential; same goes for the District Six Museum. Take a cable-car ride up Table Mountain, then drive to Cape Point to have a “king of the world” moment overlooking the Cape of Good Hope. Stop at Boulders Beach for a glimpse of the jackass penguins that call the area home, then get your swimming fix—Bikini Beach and Long Beach are favorites. Devote a day to the wineries (Waterford offers chocolate pairings) that dot the Stellenbosch valley.

To Do, by Night:
Have your cocktails with a beach view at Café Caprice or Baraza. Kloof Street and the Green Point area are lined with bustling bars (Jade Lounge, News Café), while Long Street has great spots for dancing while you drink (the Fez, Rhode House) and surveying the freakishly attractive locals (think Charlize). Or take in a concert by the Cape Philharmonic at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

Side Trip:
Go to Africa and not go on safari? Inconceivable. Check in to the & Beyond property at the Phinda Game Reserve in the immense Kruger National Park (from $400). Rise at dawn for guided treks in the bush to spot the “big five” (elephant, lion, leopard, black rhino, buffalo), along with many other creatures. Pack mosquito repellent (or buy it there—Tabard is a popular brand), a good camera, and malaria medicine, prescribed by your doctor (be aware that it tends to cause vivid dreams).

How to Get There:
South African Airways flies to Cape Town daily from JFK (the plane stops in Dakar to refuel). In June 2010, Cape Town hosts the World Cup, which will bring hordes of soccer fans and higher room rates.

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