OutUK correspondent Rex Wockner visited South Africa earlier this year checking it as a gay holiday destination which offers a whole lot more than 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 15-30 and and nice restaurant meals for 3-5. 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 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 16 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 below.

DAY 1

I arrived courtesy of South African Airways and was collected at the airport by Henry James of Cape Town Tourism and his lover Alastair Delport, and deposited at Newlands Guest House. The guest house and owner Garth Luxton, who is gay, were 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 with Enid Vickers for a walking tour of downtown. Enid and I became e-mail buddies during the six-month process of setting up my trip. She works for a PR agency, has many journalist pals, and somehow managed both to be my nearly constant companion during my visit and to get her work done.

Dinner was at the tasteful gay restaurant Gorgeous with Sheryl Ozinsky, the openly lesbian head of Cape Town Tourism.

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 (try the calamari) with Enid and Andrew Barnes, a reporter for ETV, South Africa's independent network. A former DJ at KFM, Andrew made news when he sued over the ban on gay blood donations. The case is still pending. Before dinner, Enid and I had drinks with an editor for the Weekend Argus and his wife at Panama Jack's. I was pleased to deduce that South African mainstream newspaper journalism is objective and First-World-calibre when it comes to independence.

Day 3

 

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