South Africa and “affordability” don’t usually go hand in hand, said Joshua Hammer in The New York Times. But for the “budget-conscious, outdoor-loving American traveler,” the country has suddenly become an “affordable luxury.” The country’s currency, the rand, has lost at least a third of its value in recent months, and the coastal city of Cape Town is especially cheap. “Part Alaska, part Big Sur, but always African,” Cape Town has long been South Africa’s biggest draw, a cosmopolitan city dropped on the edge of the country’s vast “wildness.” For nature lovers, this “patch of wind-whipped scrubland and mountain at the bottom of the world” is nothing short of a dream.
Just outside the city limits are the “deep green” suburbs of Bishopscourt, Newlands, and Claremont. They make a colorful entryway into Kirstensbosch, the national botanical gardens, and the “iconic massif” of Table Mountain. Because the “heavily forested eastern facade” of Table Mountain brings more rainfall to this section of Cape Town, the ground bursts with bougainvillea, frangipani, date palms, and other semitropical plants. Wander past “manicured lawns” and gardens before hiking through the “tangle of forest” clinging to the mountain’s “rough sandstone face.” Next, head south to ride on horseback along the Atlantic at Noordhoek Beach, a five-mile strip of white sand “thick with seagulls, cormorants, and black oystercatchers.” Or dive for lobsters in Simon’s Town, the southernmost town on the Cape Peninsula and home to a colony of African Penguins.
If you come empty-handed, Noordhoek’s Foodbarn serves a “superb lunch.” For less than $25, feast on “grilled salmon on a bed of crushed Nicola potato with cream of garlic and cinnamon oil.” The exquisite mix of Provençal, Moroccan, Middle Eastern, and pan-Asian cuisine at the “thatched-roof” restaurant has made it the city’s “most talked-about bistro.” The evening can be capped off with a stay at Constantia on Cape Town’s historic wine route, usually a “splurge” but now a deal at just $250 a night. You can guiltlessly unwind in an “elegantly furnished” suite built around lawns and bamboo gardens or take a dip in a “private mini-swimming pool in the tiled courtyard outside every room.” In a land this fertile with riches, “shameless self-indulgence” comes easily.