Victoria Falls (Zambia) and Botswana
for it in Southern Africa
By John Lowe
Volume 5 Issue 9
FOR IT IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
What is a vacation all about? Boys, beasts and beaches, right?
And the place to encounter all three is South Africa, a
burgeoning and isolated paradise-especially for the gay guy looking
to escape from his whirlwind life back home.
Aside from the high standards, numerous opportunities to interact
with rare wildlife and, of course, herds of hot men, South Africa can
gloat about another claim to fame: it's constitution. The South
African Constitution is the only one in the world that protects
sexual orientation (among many other civil rights). What better
way to support our queer counterparts on the tip of Africa than to
book a flight and let them show you a little hospitality. Me?
I'm all about making international "connections," and I made
more than a few this past July on a perfectly arranged V.I.P. trip from
Before I give you a rundown of what, where and who I did, there are a
few things you've got to know. First, the guys are friendly and
are always excited to meet and greet Americans-but, watch out, they
fall in love easily. Second, everybody I met spoke English and,
more importantly, had nice teeth (which, if you travel a lot
internationally, you recognize this as a great asset). Third,
with the current exchange rate, the average gay boy is rich in
comparison to most South Africans. Hmm, maybe that explains why
they fall in love so readily.
HIT THE TOWN
DavidTours [DavidTravel] started us in Cape
Town. Many of the guys I
met called it "The Gay Capitol of Africa." I agree with one Afrikaner
(Dutch descent) hunk-who lured me in with his radiant blue eyes-when
he said, "Cape Town rivals the three 'Ss'---Sydney, San Francisco and
San Diego---with its natural beauty." He gets my vote.
Tourist "must sees" include traveling to the top of Table
Mountain where you get the best
views of the city and sea. It's by far the most prominent
landmark in Cape Town; you see it from almost everywhere.
Another must (but more specifically for the queer tourist) is Clifton
#3, a gay beach with the hottest
men, by far. The nude beach, Sandy
Bay, is beautiful, but the crowd
usually isn't, nor are they that friendly.
Since you are on vacation, it's probably a good idea for you to relax
some. An ideal place to hang (and let it all hang out) is the
stunning ocean view sun deck at
The Hothouse Steam & Leisure, the local bathhouse. But, don't limit
your exploration to the sun deck. (Also, just in case, lock
valuables in the front desk safe, not your locker.)
After midday at the beach and late afternoon at Hothouse, step
outside and you're in the middle of the very quaint gay village.
Stop by Café
Manhattan for cocktails, a
decent dinner and a diverse crowd. Then, maybe after a disco nap,
check out the great late-night scene at Bronx
and dancing at Club
55. And, just around the
corner, there is an excellent massage and escort service called
( or  21 434 0428). With the
exchange rate, services are inexpensive. In fact, at Hothouse I
met a fella who occasionally works at Knights, but I got to
appreciate their merchandise for free. Lots of rich L.A. queens
I know would hire this guy without skipping a beat.
Plus, who could ask for more luxurious rooms than ours at The Table Bay
Hotel, a Leading Hotel of The
World, with views of (you guessed it) Table Mountain? One of
our fellow travelers had connected with a guy on the Internet before
the tour using the chatroom. The Table
Bay Hotel guest relations desk was totally cool: "Tell us what you
need and we will organize it." They arranged for a car and driver to
pick the fellow up and transfer him to and from the hotel. Talk
about room service!
Be sure to also visit the
beach, Boulders Coastal Park,
Botanical Gardens along the Cape
Peninsula. When our tour director said we were going to go
check out penguins on the southern tip of Africa I assumed he must've
been spending to much time with Tina. But, I was wrong-and they
are the cutest jackass (hey, that's what they're called)
Our group also enjoyed some private wine tasting at Merlust
Winery. They even produce very
fine grappa. The dark chocolate candies generously filled with
grappa were a big hit after lots of wine tasting.) This was followed
by an exceptional luncheon at one of the finest restaurants in South
Also, our visit to the black
of Langa was inspirational.
The people were kind and proud, while all struggle to build the
country as the post apartheid "Rainbow" nation. The gay guys I
met from the Townships said they feel free and accepted, generally.
The hardest issue for them within the gay community they said
was not color, but the economic divide that they are striving to
A few more gay scene tips: If you like a leather, rubber, jeans bar,
Cape Town has The
Company Bar. Most people I
know have not been impressed; they wished the hot stud painted on the
exterior resembled the crowd inside, but the place is friendly.
[The Company Bar is now closed...we hope is wasn't our review
that marked its decline.] If you'd like to see a very
local, festive club with a very popular drag show and an older crowd
on Sunday evenings, check out Brunswick
GO CHASING WATERFALLS
Chapter two of my Southern Africa journey was an awesome visit to one
of the Seven Wonders of The World, Victoria
Falls. We set up camp on
the Zambian side, in the new colonial-style, high five-star Royal Livingstone
Hotel. This place is to
die for. The general manager and the staff were lined up and at
attention to greet us upon arrival. This row of uniformed staff and
the unobstructed view of the Zambezi River took everyone's breath
away. Plus, I really dug having a butler to unpack for me.
The next day at Victoria Falls was pure magic. One tour member
commented, "I could not have dreamed of a more perfect day." All 20
of us agreed. DavidTours [DavidTravel] then whisked us through the
countryside for an adrenaline-pumping, hair-raising, high-speed jet
boat trip in the rapids of the mighty Zambezi
River. We all screamed and
enjoyed it, especially at the end when they brought us gourmet
lunches down by the riverside.
Then, as if out of a 007 movie, a sleek helicopter landed near our
picnic area and flew us, five at a time, over the Victoria Falls.
where we witnessed the incredible landmark from a bird's-eye view.
Upon landing, we headed off into the sunset on a classic luxury
riverboat, the African
Queen (go figure), where we were
served by a gracious (and attractive) staff. I told one of the
guys that I would give him 20 bucks for his uniform cap, a white
sailor hat embroidered with a dancing black woman (the African
Queen). I was crushed when he declined, but understood; I
wouldn't want to part with it, either.
For the third installment we headed back to South Africa for a wild
Saturday night in Johannesburg,
the largest city in South Africa. We parked it at The Grace
Hotel in a ritzy suburb called Rosebank.
I dug the hotel for its understated elegance, exceptional
service and its attentive staff. When we arrived, we all left
the fragile African crafts we'd purchased with the front desk.
While most of us were sleeping, at six a.m., the hotel staff
was busy bubble wrapping all of our breakable items. (I know
this for a fact because I stumbled in on them after a long, hard
night of partying.)
Oh, I forgot to mention: the shopping for objects d'art is out of this
world. An amazing craft
market was a three minute walk
from our hotel and, if you can bargain effectively, rather cheap.
Furthermore, the nearby luxury
shopping mall has trendy shops
with wonderful South African fashions.
In Johannesburg, the gay-owned Singing
Fig restaurant is a friendly
scene with delicious food. [Although still quite good and
gay popular, the Singing Fig is no longer gay owned.] The
clubbing center is an area called The
Heartland. By cruising
from one venue to the next, check out Therapy
(love the name), C-Men, Club
Therapy brought back fond memories of Probe in L.A. Many
of the men there rival any circuit party crowd and, once again, they
LOVE meeting foreigners. The best strategy is to just open your
mouth and start chatting with whoever you have in your sights.
He'll know you're an American and he'll be all yours.
A new and very upscale cocktail bar called Statement has opened in
the bohemian and trendy area of Melville in Johannesburg.
One of our fellow travelers, who shall remain nameless, gave a
complete blow-by-blow account of Jeb's
Leather Bar a "check your close
at the door" club at the top of a building with floor-to-ceiling
windows providing fantastic city views. But, this is obviously
an action bar, so the town below will be the last thing you'll want
to be scoping out. [Jeb's Leather Bar has closed. Check the
current Johannesburg gay publications for the details of its most
current replacement as this seems to change regularly.]
Also, for you more discrete types, Highwaymen
( 11 463 0623) came highly recommended. A stunning
guy I met said he and his partner like the service because there are
no strings attached. But, he also said to spell out exactly
what you want. [Based on current reports, it seems Highwaymen is
no longer in business. Instead, for male escorts, Boyz in the
Hood ( 11 788 6502) has been recommended in Johannesburg.
See also the Saturday classified section of the Johannesburg
Saturday Star or the Pretoria News, under the Massage Services
section, section 708]
Next, we left South Africa behind again or a photo safari experience
DavidTours [DavidTravel] used a chartered DC-3 to avoid any long transfers,
so we soon landed on the largest piece of private land in Africa, the
Private Game Reserve.
Within minutes of getting on the jeeps, the game drive began.
That evening we saw a leopard moments after she attacked an
impala. It was nature untamed, and I'll never forget it.
As a team, your ranger and tracker spot the game, explain the flora
and fauna and make sure you're not the leopard's next meal.
Plus, every night we threw back sundowner cocktails in the
bush. After four days and six game drives, we had checked off
almost the entire list of animals we could see, including lions,
cheetahs, elephants, zebras and countless magnificent birds.
I'll never have to go to the zoo again.
The last stop on this unforgettable adventure was
The Palace of the
Lost City at Sun
City, South Africa. This
was the perfect conclusion to the trip, with a three-night stay.
I must admit that my favorite part of about staying at the
palace were the daily massages I booked and enjoyed in my huge, plush
room. We also had another great photo safari experience with a
game drive in the nearby Pilanesberg
National Game Park.
Back in Los Angeles, I have fond memories of the new friends I made,
places I visited and the wondrous sites I experienced. My
interior designer friends are even jealous of my new purchases,
especially since I picked them up at a fraction of what they would
cost here. I also appreciate the fact that I found DavidTours
who made sure that I got to experience the culture and countries-but
at a pace that felt more like a vacation rather than a tour.