Wherever we travel—from unfamiliar neighborhoods of New York City to the winding medinas of Marrakech—we value a local’s opinion. What you thought was a familiar city takes on new life when you’ve got the inside scoop and recommendations of a clued-in local. That’s particularly true when talking about Cape Town and their most connected resident, Daniela Bonanno. Recently, Absolute Travel’s Africa Insider had the opportunity to share her “South Africa Can’t Miss List” with seven travel professionals over seven days. With partner Marisa Costa by her side, here are a few highlights:
South African Saveur: #1 Chefs, #1 Restaurants, #1 Access
Daniela takes her food seriously. In Africa this means she’s always seeking out the most sought-after culinary experiences around, from where to find the best Rooibos Cappuccino, sample rare Kopi Luwak gourmet coffee, taste-test the country’s best wines and to learn how to cook from award-winning chefs (that happen to be some of her closest friends).
So, it wasn’t a surprise when she packed in the most exclusive taste bud adventures South Africa has to offer for her guests, including culinary experiences at elite chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s Pot Luck Club; South Africa’s #1 Restaurant, Peter Tempelhoff’s The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort; Margot Janse’s award-winning Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français; farm-to-table deliciousness at Babylonstoren’s restaurant, Babel; and a special gastronomic exploration at the seaside home of elite chef Bruce Robertson. We haven’t even mentioned to the wine yet. From Delaire, to La Motte to Paul Cluver—fifty-six wines later even the most elite vino connoisseur would have been in good spirits…
Daniela’s Hometown, Cape Town
Maybe we’re biased, but Cape Town is one of the rare places we can understand moving to from New York City! With a backdrop like Table Mountain (just named 1 of 7 Nature Wonders of the World) and the Atlantic coast at your fingertips, visitors always wish they had more time.
It truly does have something for everyone. History buffs, head to Robben Island and the District Six Museum. Art enthusiasts will be impressed by the collections at both Ellerman House and the winelands’ Delaire Graff Estate, which showcase original masterpieces from distinguished South African artists. Adrenalin junkies, try climbing, abseiling or even paragliding from Lions Head. And shoppers—don’t miss The Cape Quarter or Merchants on Long, which give New York City a run for its money!
Daniela invited her guests on a gorgeous drive to the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, a stroll through Simonstown (complete with some antiques shopping!), and a visit with the African Penguins at Boulders Beach. A cultural walk through the colorful Bo Kaap with the mandatory coffee stop at Haas—the trendiest coffee shop in Cape Town—was also on the menu! Packed Cape Town days were capped off by retiring at the exquisite Ellerman House and stunning The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel & Spa.
After experiencing hundreds of safaris, why did she choose Tswalu Kalahari?
After experiencing hundreds of safari
lodges and countless game drives, even the Absolute Travel team was curious which South African safari experience Daniela would choose to share with her special guests. Her choice? Tswalu Kalahari
, the largest private game reserve in South Africa. Why? This property’s mission “to restore the Kalahari to itself” is reason enough, but it came down to a few other particulars: diverse experiences, from horseback safaris
to meerkat game drives
(Marisa’s favorite); intimacy (the lodge hosts only 30 guests at a time); abundant wildlife (in addition to the Big Five, the region is known for its rare animals, including aardvark and pangolin), and this incredible experience known as the Malori Sleepout
–sleeping under the African Sky at its best.
The Difference: Access and Knowledge
Daniela knows her stuff. She’s an expert on South Africa, with the resources to resolve unforeseen hitches, the inside scoop on the best local spots, and after being a guest at too many Africa lodges to count, she has the knowledge and connections to curate the best trip based on what’s important to you. The only way to understand the Absolute Travel difference is to experience it yourself.
Learn more about our South Africa journeys, here.