South Africa was a gay travel destination long before it became the first country in the world with a constitution outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and the fifth country to legalize same-sex marriage. With the fall of apartheid and these two historic gay rights events, the allure of here has increased substantially among both straight and gay travelers. From the glorious beaches of the Western Cape to the fast-paced excitement of Gauteng, South Africa is the gay-friendliest country on the continent and is an ideal location for a gay vacation.
Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria are popular stops during gay vacations and each offers a variety of gay-friendly and gay-centered activities, establishments and events. Gay men who enjoy the scene will be particularly pleased with the vast array of establishments that cater exclusively to gay men, such as luxury guest houses that provide lodgings exclusively to gay men, the famous bathhouses found in Cape Town and the private, all-male nude bar, Camp David, in Pretoria. Gay culture in South Africa revolves largely around the gay male community; however family travelers and lesbians will also find a plethora of exciting opportunities for gay vacations in this country that is rich in history, culture and beautiful landscapes, including several organized tours that are gay-friendly or cater specifically to the gay and lesbian community.
September is gay pride month in South Africa, making this a great time to visit for gay men and lesbians looking for a gay vacation that includes pride celebrations and a variety of other events, such as the Out in Africa South African Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which takes place in both Johannesburg and Cape Town and draws over 16,000 international attendees. Cape Town is also the home of the annual Mother City Queer Project costume party that brings over 10,000 international visitors to South Africa each December. Of course, Cape Town is also home to Clifton’s Third Beach and nearby Sandy Bay nudist beach, both of which are extremely popular hangouts for gay men, and also has a gay village offering many gay-owned and gay-friendly establishments in Green Point. Picking up a copy of local gay publications like Exit and Outright will keep travelers up on what is going on during their stay and provide additional information about the best places to hang out or grab a bite to eat in a gay-friendly restaurant.
No gay vacation to South Africa would be complete without experiencing authentic South African cuisine and taking the opportunity to dine in some of South Africa’s many welcoming restaurants. When visiting Johannesburg, travelers will not want to miss Bellgables Country Restaurant offering delicious meals in a renovated farmhouse sitting on 21 acres of farmland. In Cape Town there are many dining options, including Lola’s, a gay-owned vegetarian restaurant, and Emily’s an award winning fine dining restaurant featuring South African cuisine, a wine bar and a beer bar.
To ensure a great gay travel experience in South Africa, enlist the assistance of a professional travel agency when planning your trip. Travel agents that regularly organize gay vacations to South Africa will have up-to-date information about the best places to stay, eat and play, as well as safety tips for exploring in areas that may not be as accepting.