African Vineyard’s setting is pretty unique; it’s located between table grape vineyards on the Orange River’s largest island, in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. The guest house is about 25km from Upington and 105km upstream from Augrabies National Park.
With water in abundance, the guesthouse’s vast garden and dark swimming pool are a tranquil retreat from the scorching heat. The greens are overwhelming: the drooping lime of the willows, the dark emerald of the lawns and various shades of leaf and creeper. In fact, the floppy white Labrador is a welcome respite from the lush shades of this oasis.
Accommodation ranges from standard rooms (huge by any measure) to the gargantuan 140 square metre Ruby Cabernet luxury suite. Named after grape cultivars, all rooms have a sitting area and private entrance with views onto the gardens. The two luxury suites also have a dining area and leather couches in the room’s open-plan layout. Well stocked mini-bars, satellite TV and air conditioning are standard, and a carafe of sherry and fat dates welcome the weary traveler. Huge mirrors and bright artwork lend a feel of luxury and ebullience.
The guesthouse offers ‘slow-food’ three-course suppers and food and wine pairings with local wines, served on the terrace overlooking the pool. On my visit the salad (starter) and malva pudding with granadilla sorbet were excellent, but both main courses (burnt lamb curry and processed patty as vegetarian option) were underwhelming. Breakfast is included in the rate and includes fresh muffins and a good English breakfast.
African Vineyard caters well for leisure as well as corporate travelers, who are often agents and exporters visiting during the grape harvest season from November onward. The guest house can arrange activities, such as visiting a grape-packing shed. Guest often explore the area on foot to go bird watching or donkey petting (donkey cart rides are planned), or use the hotel as a base to explore the area’s attractions. This include wineries, a brandy estate, visiting the Augrabies National Park, mountain biking and hiking. For self-drive travelers the guesthouse is a tranquil stop between the Cape and Kgalagadi National Park (270km).