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OutUK correspondent Rex Wockner has been visiting South Africa checking it out as a gay holiday destination, and thinks it offers a whole lot more than traditional popular gay destinations like Mykonos or Key West. Here's his holiday diary.

CAPE TOWN: BEAUTIFUL, CHEAP, GAY

Cape Town is a stunning oceanside city as beautiful as any in the world with First World gay life, a Mediterranean climate, nice hotel rooms for very little and and good restaurant meals for even less, so what's the catch? Flights are more expensive than to Southern Europe or the States and, in present-day South Africa, one needs to be more concerned about crime than even in the U.S. There are no other catches. The extra money you spend on air fare, you will more than recoup in savings once in South Africa. The rand changes around 18½ to the pound these days.

As for crime, take the same precautions as you would in Mexico or the Caribbean and don't go places that guidebooks and acquaintances advise against. Which is not to suggest South Africa is a Third World country. What it is, oddly, is a First World country inside a Third World country. But to find that Third World, as a visitor, you have to go looking for it, an outing I'll detail in this OutGoing feature.

Most of my time was spent in Cape Town, and particularly De Waterkant which is a chic enclave centered on the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village, a small, upscale mall with fashion boutiques, commercial art galleries and global eateries. Leafy streets nearby are lined with brightly colored cottages housing craft coffee bars, stylish gift shops and guesthouses.

This is a unique place in South Africa with a cluster of gay and lesbian cocktail bars and dance clubs which give the area a 24/7 feel with a late-night LGBT-friendly vibe that is all of its own.
Panoramic view of the gay De Waterkant district
Photo: Rich Townsend

DAY 1

I arrived courtesy of South African Airways and was collected at the airport by Henry of Cape Town Tourism and his lover Alastair, and deposited at Newlands Guest House. The guest house was very charming, though the location is a little far from the centre of the action.

After settling in I bopped over to the Cape Town Tourism office to catch up on my e-mail then set off for a walking tour of downtown.

DAY 2

The next morning, feeling a little jet-lagged yet frisky, I set off with the gay company Classic Cape Tours to the Cape Peninsula, The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.
We went via the picturesque villages of Fish Hoek and Simon's Town the main naval port. Cape Point is stunning and feels like the complete bottom of the world, but I was even more intrigued by the wild ostriches running around and the wild baboons that jumped on top of the car in front of us.
Baboons stop traffic in Western Cape Province.
Photo by Rex Wockner
Dinner was in the seaside village of Hout Bay at the Chapman's Peak Hotel - be sure to try the calamari!

DAY 3

Today saw me out and about in the more centralised area, setting off early for a tour of the local wine-region. The mountains and valleys of this area are as beautiful as any anywhere, and some of the wines would be worth the hassle of shipping them home.

Day 4

 

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