Riebeek Kasteel, South Africa is a town with many attractions. The art, the countryside, and the history call many travellers from far and wide. However, it is the wine—paired perfectly with the landscape and art scene—that is especially magnetic to visitors. If you love good art and good wine, you’ll love Riebeek Kasteel! Here’s an overview of the town and the wine-lovers activities you can enjoy there.
Riebeek Kasteel, named for famous South African figure Jan van Kasteel, is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. Not only is it one of the oldest European settlements, but it’s also one of the most ancient villages. It’s little wonder that so many people have decided to live in this location—it’s absolutely beautiful! The town is nestled into the edge of the Riebeek Valley, where grapes and olives have been grown for generations. Besides an agricultural heritage, the town also has architectural heritage. It’s home to some of the oldest buildings in South Africa, including the oldest hotel in the country.
The natural world around Riebeek Kasteel looks a bit like the Italian countryside. Grapevines and olive trees dominate the cultivated part of the landscape, while the wilder slopes of the valley are no less captivating. This, of course, has attracted a thriving art scene in Riebeek Kasteel—something that makes wine touring that much more classy and delightful. Many of South Africa’s most famous artists have made a home in Riebeek Kasteel in order to live in the midst of such beauty and capture in on canvas in a thousand different ways. Before you leave, be sure to browse the art galleries to see the many artistic renderings of the surrounding area. You can even take home a painting to keep a piece of Riebeek Kasteel in your own house, wherever in the world you live.
Riebeek Kasteel is a wine lover’s paradise. There are plenty of vineyards to visit, wineries to tour, and glasses to sip from. Start your wine journey at Kloovenburg Wine Estate. Here, you can try it all—and we don’t mean just the different wines. Drive through the picturesque vineyards to the cellars, where you can tour through the barrels before relaxing with a glass of liquid red heaven. Next, visit Meerhof Wines, where you’ll get to see the cellars where traditional wine is made. Using no modern techniques or commercial yeast, the wine from Meerhof Wines is one hundred percent traditional, and it tastes wonderful. Mullineaux Family Wines also creates traditional wines. Five varieties of grapes and a dedication to local flavours and processes are the key ingredients to the unique wines that come from Mullineaux Family Wines. Of course, you’ll want to get an overall wine tasting tour in addition to visits to individual vineyards. For a local wine tasting tour in Riebeek Kasteel, attend a wine tasting at Het Vlock Casteel. This tour will take you through a gastronomic adventure of all of the offerings of Riebeek Kasteel. You’ll get to taste the many wines in the area, and you’ll also get to sample local olive oil, jams, fruits, and more. A wine-tasting tour like this is the best way to get to know the flavours and culture of South Africa’s Riebeek Kasteel.
If you’re a lover of wine and art, there’s no better place to visit in South Africa than the lovely town of Riebeek Kasteel! Enjoy the history, the art, the countryside, and, of course, the wine in this little corner of Africa. You’ll love experiencing the best of South Africa’s wine scene and see a side to the great continent of Africa that you never expected to see. Who knew Africa could produce such incredible wines? See it for yourself (or rather taste it for yourself) to understand why travellers from around the world continue to flock to this little town in the South African hills.
A real adventure starts in Africa. We’ve added two bonus adventures you can add to your bucket list. If you’ve missed our previous post detailing 3 Adventures in South Africa To Add To Your Bucket List, go check it out first!
We’re going to take a wild guess and assume that unless you have a fear of heights, bungee jumping is already on your bucket list. Why not check off that item in South Africa? It’s a good place to do it, since it has the world’s highest commercial bungee jump! Bloukrans Bungee is the terrifying, thrilling, and addicting jump that has served as the platform (pun definitely intended) for many world records and celebrity jumpers. Take a leap of faith and try it out for yourself! This is a thrill ride that’s hard to top.
If you’ve never gone snorkeling before, you’re in for a treat. Even if you have snorkeled elsewhere, you’ll still be enchanted by the magic of South Africa’s undersea world. All along the coast, there are excellent places to strap on your mask and flippers for a wet adventure. One of the most interesting places to snorkel is Knysna, a coastal town that draws many tourists for its beautiful coastline and marine life. Snorkel the Garden Route to see whales, dolphins, and adorable seahorses in their natural environment! Short of scuba diving, there’s no better way to view and learn about life under the sea. You’ll be amazed by the busy marine neighborhoods you can find beneath the waves!
You won’t find opportunities like this anywhere else in the world! Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you plan.
You may not know that “safari” is the Swahili word for “journey.” What you probably do know, however, is that southern Africa is one of the best places to take a safari! There are many safaris to take, but three of the best are Kruger National Park, Thanda Reserve, and Etosha National Park. Drive these three safari trips in Namibia and South Africa to see an incredible array of exotic wildlife. Here’s a little bit about what it’s like to tour and stay at these three safari parks in Southern Africa.
When you think “safari,” what comes to mind is likely red dust, muddy tires, and plenty of animals. You won’t be entirely wrong if this is what you imagine Thanda to be, but it certainly isn’t a complete picture! Thanda Reserve in South Africa is home to some of Africa’s most incredible wildlife, but it also includes a luxury hotel and park tour. If you want the best of high-end African luxury as well as amazing view of lions and buffalo and giraffes (oh my), then Thanda is the best safari park to enjoy. As a plus, Thanda Reserve is a private park with a dedicated commitment to both Zulu culture and a healthy environment. See South Africa through the view of South Africans! Get the local experience of the South African bush.
Kruger National Park
Africa’s “Big Five” animals include lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants, and rhinos. You can see all of these (plus more) when you visit South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Two animals that get particular attention at this safari park are the elephants and the lions. Guests at the park can meet the elephants, learning the personality of each gentle creature. You can walk hand-in-trunk with an elephants through the park, help clean them, or be a caretaker for a day. You’ll never get closer to elephants than you can at Kruger National park! You’ll also get a chance to see wild lions up close. Unlike the elephants, the lions aren’t exactly hands-on, of course, but you can get some great views of the big cats at dawn or dusk as you safari through the park. A series of scenic cabins, complete with pools and sunset views, make for a perfect stay at the park.
Etosha National Park
Etosha, a Namibian park, is another great place to see Africa’s Big Five. There are many waterholes throughout the park, and you can view big game as well as dozens of smaller species at each hole. Surprisingly, there are often species sharing a watering hole that you wouldn’t expect to see in the same vicinity. This is a great example of the balance of nature. Although the big cats may be the most exciting animals to see, the most valuable wildlife sightings in Etosha National Park are the black rhinos. These rare animals are hard to find in the wild, and many tourists visit Etosha National Park just for a glimpse of the black rhinos. While you’re at Etosha National Park, you can stay at one of several camps, all of which contain luxury lodges or private cabins. As far a safari experiences go, this one is pretty hard to beat.
If you’re looking into a safari trip for your next vacation, be sure to give these three parks a look! There are a lot of great places to see wildlife in southern Africa, but these three include the best of all safari elements. You’ll get to see Africa’s Big Five, view the incredible scenes of Namibia and South Africa’s great outdoors, and stay in utter luxury in the bush. Make your next Africa trip incredible! Give us a call or drop us a mail at email@example.com and let’s chat about your trip to Southern Africa.
South Africa is a place of wonder, excitement, and adventure! With so much to see and do, you can get lost in the options. When it comes to adventure, however, there are a few awesome activities that stand out. Check out these adrenaline-pumping experiences and add them to your bucket list! Next stop: South Africa.
One of the best ways to see South Africa (or most places, for that matter) is by bike. Take a cycling trip through South Africa to get a good look at the countryside and have a chance to meet the locals who live in this beautiful place. One popular bike trail is the Midlands Meander. The countryside here is reminiscent of Europe, but only when it comes to natural surroundings. The culture is decidedly African, and you can rub elbows with friendly South African locals along the way. Go it alone to take a tour—it’s your choice. Either way, you’ll have the opportunity to see the country from a totally new perspective.
Strap on your hiking boots and take a trek into South Africa’s wilderness. There are a lot of great hiking trails on this planet, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one more beautiful than the trails you encounter in South Africa. Coastal hikes are especially popular, since they offer some of the best views in South Africa. Combine hiking with whale watching to kill two birds with one stone. One especially fun hike is found in De Hoop Preserve, a coastal nature area where you can take a trek up to five days long and see the famous South African whales during their migration.
South Africa is a surfer’s dream destination. If you head to the coast, you have to try it—even if you’ve never surfed before, it’s definitely worth a trip. There’s no time to learn like the present! If you know anything about surf culture, you’ve definitely heard of Jeffery’s Bay, one of the world’s most famous surf spots. There are actually a few different places to ride the waves on Jeffery’s Bay, and it has something for surfers of every taste. If you’re looking for long rides and huge barrels, this is the place to go.
If any of these items are on your bucket list, then South Africa is a great place to check them off! If they aren’t on your agenda yet, then why not add them? South Africa boasts some of the most fun and exotic adventures you’ll find anywhere on the planet, from adrenaline-rushing drops to serene undersea landscapes. You won’t find opportunities like this anywhere else in the world! Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you plan.
South Africa in general is an incredible place to visit and if you’re lucky enough to live in this diverse and eclectic country, you’ll have experienced this in one way or another. From the roaming mountains to the vibrant rural communities and buzzing cities, there’s always something to do. However, one of the favourite local activities is to set aside time on the weekend to visit the local market.
Depending on which area you’re in, these markets will vary in character. In Cape Town’s city centre and surrounding suburbs, you’ll often find crafts, music and a selection of divine eats on offer. The Winelands tend to be more focused towards relaxation and family days out, while in Johannesburg, they are slightly less esoteric at times than Cape Town’s but also offer a selection of beautiful hand-crafted souvenirs, and everything from fast-food favourites to gourmet snacks.
Top 5 markets to visit in Cape Town and Johannesburg
1.The Old Biscuit Mill Market Cape Town: One of Cape Town’s favourite market, the daily affair at the Old Biscuit Mill is the perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening with friends. With a range of gourmet eats and tasty favourites, as well as designer stores, crafts and collaborations, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Expect a packed market on the weekends especially, as it’s a local favourite.
2.The Stellenbosch Slow Market: The Slowfood Market in Oude Libertas, Stellenbosch is a fantastic place for food-lovers to enjoy a selection of slow-cooked meals. However, the market is also known for it’s range of fine wines on offer, as well as the fact that it showcases green and sustainable crafts. It’s held every Saturday from 9am to 2pm, regardless of the weather.
3. The Lourensford Market: Every Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy the Lourensford Market from 10am to 3pm. Enjoy a range of fresh produce and crafts on offer in the scenic town of Somerset West. There’s lots of space for kids to play at this family market, and locals love to bring along their bankets and enjoy a picnic.
4. Braamfontein Market, Johannesburg: The Braamfontein Neighbourgoods market is one of the most popular in Johannesburg, with local favourite eats and treats being hot chocolate and paella. The market runs every Sunday, come rain or shine, from 9am-3pm at 73 Juta street.
5. The Rosebank Market, Johannesburg: happens at 50 Bath Mall in Johannesburg, daily. It’s a distinctly African market offering a exciting and authentic vibe to visitors – perfect for travellers looking for authentic souvenirs.
Make a trip of it
Take2Tours can help you make a day of it with a customised trip to these markets and more. Why not book a trip and see some of the best markets in Cape Town and Johannesburg with other stops along the way? This will give you the opportunity to enjoy yourself without having to worry about driving and you’ll also have an experienced tour guide to help you enjoy the best markets.
End your year in style by visiting the Hugenot Monument in Franschhoek for the town’s ‘Magic of Bubbles’ Cap Classique & Champagne festival. This year’s black & white with a touch of bling theme, is the perfect opportunity for you to grab your most chic ensemble and set out to taste some of the region’s most exquisite bubblies. Just in case that wasn’t a good enough reason to get dolled up and ready for an amazing time, the best dressed couple each day will win a R5 000 MasterCard gift card. What better way to make the most of your festival experience?
Producers showcasing their renowned MCCs
Enjoy a variety of options from established producers such as Pierre Jourdan, Morena, Moreson, Boschendal, Pongracz, Leopard’s Leap, Steenberg, Villiera, Anthonij Rupert Wyne, Noble Hill, Plaisir de Merle, Simonsig, Colmant, La Motte and JC Le Roux. In the same breath, you’ll also be introduced to a few producers which are more recently established, including: Maison Wine Estate, Le Lude and the Grande Province – all of which will give you greater insight into why Franschhoek is considered one of the premium destinations for producing sparkling wines in the world.
Pallet-teasing edibles from renowned local restaurants
Of course no Champagne festival would be complete without the right accompaniment of edibles, and the Franschhoek ‘Magic of Bubbles’ Cap Classique & Champagne Festival is no exception. Expect a range of gourmet dishes on offer from local eateries such as The Salmon Bar, Bread & Wine, Le Franschhoek The Restaurant at Grande Province, Le Franschhoek, Mont Rochelle, L’Ermatige to name a few. Each of these establishments offers visitors a distinctly French experience – the perfect setting for a bit of joie de vivre.
Tickets to the event cost R200 each, which will allow you access to the festival from 12–5pm for both days (5th & 6th). As part of your entry fee, you’ll also get a tasting glass and coupons.
If you use your MasterCard to purchase your ticket, you’ll receive a 10% discount on the cost of your ticket. You can book through Webtickets here.
Getting to and around the festival
If you’re looking to make the most of your festival experience, you can hire us to get you there, take you around and show you the best that Franschhoek has on offer. At Take2tours, we do custom trips to Franschhoek, and can make sure you get around safely while tasting as many Champagnes as you like. We can also help you experience more of the town with options as to which parts you can visit while you’re there. Contact us if you’d like a tailor-made tour experience.
The Western Cape is the social and cultural melting pot of South Africa. There is always something going on, be it a music, food or wine festival, concert or sporting event. One simply cannot keep up with the speed of the social and cultural calendar of Cape Town and the Western Cape. We have made a list of the festivals and events that are not to be missed. Let’s have a look:
Good Food and Wine Show
The world’s biggest travel magazine Conde’ Nast, recently named Cape Town as the 3rd Best Food City in the world. The city was also named as the top summer food destination by the world’s biggest food news network CNN. Over the last couple of years the city has hosted some amazing food and wine festivals, the most famous of which is the Good Food and Wine show. This year the show, which will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, will host a string of world renowned chefs, bakers, food critics and writers. Matt Preston from Masterchef Australia fame, Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro and TV chef Siba Mtongana will all be showcasing their talents at the annual event. Doors open at 10am and close at 9pm on the Friday and Saturday. On Sunday the show will be open from 10am to 6pm.
Knysna Oyster Festival
From fresh seafood, a beautiful coastline, delicious wine, pristine forests to world class sports events, the Knysna Oyster Festival certainly has it all. There are numerous activities hosted at the festival that you can join in on. You can work up a sweat at the 50 or 80 km mountain bike race, or you can dust off your running shoes for the Featherbed Trail Run. If these “active” activities make you a little nervous, then you can head to wine and oyster tastings or the cooking and art workshops. If you are in the mood for some light exercise after tasting the delicious food and wine on offer at the festival, then you can go and play a round of golf in the Knysna Classic or head down to the Knysna lagoon for a spot of canoeing.
The Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna competition and the Oyster chucking and eating competition are among the highlights of the festival. The Flavours of Knysna competition gives the top restaurants in the area a chance to go head to head against each other in a cook off competition. To avoid missing out on this great festival we recommend that you book your accommodation and transport as soon as possible because availability is limited.
Hermanus Whale Festival
The annual Hermanus Whale Festival celebrates the start of the calving season and the return of the Southern Right Whale to the South African coast. The festival was first held over 23 years go and it has only gone from strength to strength since. It is one of the most popular festivals in South Africa with over 110 000 people in attendance in 2013 alone. Hermanus is widely regarded as the best land based whale watching destination in the world. The town has numerous walking trails along its coast which all offer unrestricted whale watching viewpoints.
Popular local musicians like Jeremy Oliver, Goodluck and Mark Haze perform at the festival every year. Accommodation types available in and around Hermanus vary from camping at Onrus to 5 star luxury at the Marine Hotel in Hermanus. We recommend that you book your rooms sooner rather than later as availability runs out very quickly. If you want to get real up close and personal with the whales, you need to get on a whale watching boat or join in on one of the sea kayaking tours of the bay.
Afrikaburn is South Africa’s regional version of the world famous Burning Man event, which is held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA. On a farm deep in the Tankwa Karoo, hundreds of people gather for the party of the year, Afrika Burn. The festival will is held on the Stonehenge farm, which is situated on a 250 km long gravel road between Ceres and Calvinia next to the Tankwa Karoo National Park. Afrikaburn is made up of a community of volunteers who create burning structures, art, mutant vehicles, theme camps, music and much more. Afrikaburn’s main principles are to be inclusive and accessible to everyone. There is nothing but ice for sale at the event.
The event is what they call a decommodified zone with a gift economy. People give whatever they have to their fellow Afrikaburners without expecting anything in return. The 10 Principles of Burning man are the foundations around which the event is planned and executed. The principals focus on environmental responsibility, inclusivity and community. By camping under the stars and experiencing the silence that one only gets in the Karoo, one’s appreciation for nature gets restored. Please remember that money is good for nothing at Afrikaburn. You will have to take everything you need along with you (except ice). If you should run out of anything, you will have to rely on the principals of Afrikaburn and the kind nature of your fellow Afrikaburners to provide for you!
One of South Africa’s most picturesque towns Franschhoek, will once again host the annual Bastille Festival. The Cap Classique and Wine region of South Africa will celebrate its French Huguenot heritage with a feast of food, wine and entertainment. The Food and Wine Marquee is where all of the fun will be had. You can come and taste some of the finest French cheeses and Franschhoek wines at the marquee as well as delicious food made by local chefs who will be strutting their stuff. There are loads of activities to join in on. Fitness junkies can brace the cold and run in the Trail Run on Saturday morning, or ride in the Mountain Bike Classic on the Sunday.
The town will be abuzz with activity, the most popular of which is the Solms-Delta Parade, the Barrel-Rolling Competition and the Boules Tournament. Families seeking a more relaxed atmosphere should get tickets for the Sunday because the atmosphere is usually more relaxed. This festival promises to be a very eloquent affair where you can rub shoulders with the who’s who of the wine and food socialites of Cape Town, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. It’s the one social event not to be missed for those who want to see and be seen!
Cape Town Jazz Festival
The Cape Town Jazz Festival, which is the world’s fourth largest jazz festival, brings the best of the international and local jazz scene together under one roof. The festival has become internationally known as one of South Africa’s top music festivals. Tickets are sold out months before hand and hoarded more closely than most valuables. Renowned artists like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Amel Larrieux, Al Jarreau and Thundercat draw crowds from all over the country year in and year out.
There are five stages with over 40 artists performing over two days. The event takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The two-day passes are almost always sold out well ahead of time, so if you want to get your hands on them we recommend you buy them as soon as possible.
Cape Town Carnival
The second weekend of March every year signals the start of Cape Town’s biggest street party. The theme for the Cape Town Carnival changes every year. For instance the theme for 2015 was Elemental! How it works is you have to make or buy a costume which relates to the theme of the year. Get in your most spectacular costume and join the 1km Fan Walk, which starts at the corner of Coburn and Somerset Roads in Green Point. The Carnival parade traditionally begins at 7:00 pm, after an impressive fireworks display.
There will be giant floats, special acts and wacky puppets passing through the street, each carefully built and decorated to represent the specific theme of the year. The parade runs for approximately two hours after which there will be an awesome open air party that only ends when the sun comes up!
Paternoster has become one of the most popular tourist villages in South Africa. City dwellers looking for a coastal breakaway have been flooding to Paternoster over the last couple of years, it’s not difficult to see why.
Nobody really knows where the name Paternoster comes from but there are a couple of theories. Paternoster means ‘Our Father’ in Latin, which has people believing that the name refers to prayers said by shipwrecked Catholic Portuguese seamen. Others believe that the name refers to the beads that the indigenous Khoi tribe wore which was also called Paternosters. We might never know where the name comes from but we do know that Paternoster’s popularity will keep on growing. Major development is prohibited in Paternoster which means that the old world charm of the village will forever stay intact.
Where to stay:
The village has accommodation in abundance. Around every corner there is an old cottage that has been beautifully renovated and turned into self-catering units. The best way to explore small villages is by staying in self-catering accommodation. Self-catering accommodation is cheaper and it gives you the opportunity to braai the local meat or seafood and you have the whole unit for yourself and your family. In Paternoster you have to braai some fresh seafood otherwise you aren’t doing it right. Check out these great places: Dune Ridge, Dankbaar, Dunesburry and Abalone House.
Where and what to eat:
You’re in a coastal town on the West Coast of South Africa, there is only one thing to eat, Seafood. The fisherman on the west coast have been living off the sea for almost a century. Today we all head down to these villages to eat what we can’t get in the city anymore, morning caught fresh seafood. Paternoster is known for three things, West Coast Rock Lobster or Crayfish, Snoek and white washed fisherman’s cottages. The best seafood in town is bought fresh from the harbour or from the back of a fisherman’s bakkie.
Trip Advisor rates the The Square Spoon as the best restaurant in Paternoster. “Top Drawer”, “Another Great Reason to Visit Paternoster”, “Its Hip to be Square” and “Number one Place” is how people have described this little gem on the West Coast. The menu changes with the seasons, but fresh seafood like Crayfish, Geelbek and White Stumpnose can usually be found on the menu.
The Abalone House is home to perhaps the most famous restaurant on the west coast, Ruben’s. The owner, Reuben Riffel, is a household name in South Africa and is renowned for his culinary prowess. He made a name for himself through his first restaurant that he opened in Franschhoek. He now has four restaurant countrywide and he is a judge on the popular cooking show Masterchef South Africa. The Noisy Oyster serves real fine dining dishes in South African style. The menu is also constantly changing but there are plenty of dishes to choose from. The must try dishes at the Noisy Oyster is the Thai Seafood Curry and the fresh Oysters.
The Gaaitjie Salt Water Restaurant was set up inside a 70 year old fisherman’s cottage that has an unrestricted view over the ocean. The restaurant focuses on local dishes which they put a little twist on. There is a 110 year old fisherman’s cottage that is home to the best pizza restaurant in town. Blikkies Pizzeria serves up some of the best thin crust Italian pizzas on the west coast. Their wood fired pizza won the Certificate of Excellence badge from Trip Advisor in 2012 and 2013. If you though that Paternoster is all about seafood then you haven’t been to Blikkies Pizzeria. Paternoster is without a doubt the number one foodie destination on the west coast.
This picturesque fishing town is one of the oldest coastal towns in South Africa. There are countless white-washed old fishermen’s cottages scattered along the long white beach. The atmosphere of a fishing community from a bygone era has been preserved here. Today the town has a crayfish factory and a newly erected Kabeljou farm. The local fisherman catch and sell herring and snoek and pick black mussels from the rocks along the coast. Today the economy of the town is almost totally independent of tourism. With a fascinating history, great food and a beautiful coastline, Paternoster has something for everyone to enjoy.
What to do:
People seem to think that there isn’t much to do in the west coast but eat, sleep and drink but that can’t be further from the truth. There are enough activities to choose from in Paternoster to keep you busy for a week. You can go beach buggy riding in the dunes from Paternoster to St Helena Bay. Kayaking and Horse Riding are the best ways to exploring Paternoster’s coastline. Adrenalin junkies can go deep sea fishing or diving for crayfish. During the calving season you can also go and view whales by joining West Coast Adventures who do day trips out to sea. Bird watching routes and hiking trails are also very popular. If all else fails then head down to the beach with a bottle of champagne and watch the sun as it sets over the Atlantic, there surely is nothing better than that!
Location, Climate and when to Go
The town is around 150km from Cape Town, which is on average a 1 hour and 45 minute drive. From Cape Town you follow the West Coast Road (R27) which runs along the coast past Melkbosstrand, Langebaan and Vredenburg. The climate is very pleasant during the summer, with the thermostat recording 35 degrees almost on a daily basis. During the winter it can get quite cold in Paternoster so be sure to get a place with an indoor braai if you are planning on going in the winter. The best time to go is during the summer months October – March. Swimmers should be warned that the ocean is always cold at Paternoster, even during the summer.
The Western Cape of South Africa is blessed with so many unique destinations and beautiful landscapes. The province attracts more tourists than any other province in the country and the provincial capital Cape Town is the most popular tourist destination in South Africa with over 4 million tourists heading to its shores every year. There are too many unique activities and destinations in the Western Cape to name but we have come up with a list of 5 activities that we think every visitor to this beautiful province should experience. These activates are what makes the Western Cape so special!
The Western Cape has, hands down the best land based whale watching spots in the world. Right from Gordons Bay along Clarence Drive to Hangklip, Betties Bay, Hermanus and De Kelders you can view Southern Right Whales as they migrate to the coast for the calving season from late August to the end of October every year. In the beginning of October the annual Hermanus Whale festival celebrates the arrival of the whales. The popular festival attracts over 200 000 people every year with live bands, cold wine, good food and of course great whale sightings. De Kelders which is a 30 minute drive from Hermanus has just as good viewing points as Hermanus has, in fact locals will tell you that you will see more whales from up close in De Kelders than in Hermanus. Hermanus is perhaps the only town in the world where you can sit in a trendy restaurant and watch whales breach in and out of the ocean while sipping on a cold Chenin Blanc from the valley just outside of the same town, doesn’t that sound like the perfect afternoon? It certainly does to us!
Table Mountain and Lion’s Head
How many cities around the world can say that it has one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World right in the middle of it? The answer is one, Cape Town. Table Mountain is without a doubt Cape Town and the Western Cape’s biggest drawing card. The beautiful mountain towers over the city and the metropolitan while the Atlantic Ocean crashes onto its beautiful banks. The cable car ride up to the top of the mountain is the most popular way of getting up there but more recently more and more travellers have decided to walk up. There are many trails to choose from ranging from easy to more difficult technical walks. The hike up takes a couple of hours to complete but the route has some of the most beautiful views of Table Bay and the Atlantic in all of Cape Town. The hike up Lion’s Head which sits just next to Table Mountain is very easy and takes around 60 minutes to climb. Hundreds of tourists and locals head up the mountain at around 4pm every day, if weather permits, to experience the sunset over the city. When its full moon the sun sets in the west at the same time as the moon rises in the east, the views from atop Lion’s Head over Table Bay and Cape Town on these days are truly amazing. Many people take picnics up there! If you haven’t been up to Lion’s Head or Table Mountain then you haven’t experienced all that Cape Town has to offer….
Shark Cage Diving
Gaansbaai is the Sark Cage Diving Capital of the World and it is a mere 2 hour drive from Cape Town. The coastline off this small fishing village is home to more Great White Sharks than any other waters in the world. Daytrips from Cape Town depart for Gaansbaai at round 5 am every morning, if weather permits, and returns in the late afternoon. Guests are taken out to Dyer Island from Kleinbaai on a big boat with 2 large cages fitted to the back. As soon as the captain has found the perfect spot the cages are lowered and if there are no immediate signs of sharks, the water is tainted with “chum” which is a mixture of fish blood and guts. It’s the most tried and tested way of attracting these massive animals to the boat. As soon as the sharks arrive guests are lowered into the cages to view these majestic creatures up close. They swim only a few centimetres away from the cage, which is an adrenalin rush for many! After your boat trip, you are welcomed back with some hot soup and sandwiches, and the debriefing will allow you time to see photographs and video clips of your adventure!
The drive back to Cape Town is beautiful as it snakes through the Overberg and the Overstrand coastline. You arrive in Cape Town just in time for “sundowners” (the name we give to anything alcoholic served after 5pm) at your hotel before going out for dinner at your favourite restaurant in the Mother City. Now if that isn’t a perfect day then we don’t know what is!
The Cape Peninsula Tour which runs from Cape Town along the Atlantic coast to the most South Western Point in Africa, Cape Point, and back along the False Bay coast back to the city has previously been named as one of National Geographic’s Top 100 Most Scenic Tours in the World. The peninsula tour is a must for every traveller to Cape Town. The one-day tour traditionally starts early in the morning in Cape Town where your guide takes you through Clifton and Camps Bay to Hout Bay. The charming little town/suburb is the perfect place to have a late breakfast or early lunch. The harbour area is full of people selling African art and it is packed in the mornings because boats depart from here to see hoardes of Cape Fur Seals sitting on an island just off the coast. After spending some time in Hout Bay the tour heads south to Cape Point along one of the most beautiful roads in the world, Chapmans Peak Drive. The views from Chapmans Peak over Hout Bay and the Atlantic Coastline are truly amazing.
Once at Cape Point, we suggest the magnificent hike from there to the Cape of Good Hope. You could spot ostriches or dassies (rock hyrax) on this part of the trip. After lunch, we usually head towards Simons Town, which is where the SA navy has its headquarters. Simons Town is also home to the African Penguin, and at Boulders Beach you can view them at close range from a viewing deck that protects their nesting areas from total destruction by clueless, invasive, tourists! Cape Point and Boulders Beach are the two highlights of the trip.
Cape Point is often mistaken as the meeting place of the 2 great oceans, the Indian and the Atlantic……
The most southern point in Africa and the place where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean comes together is at Cape Agulhas, some 4 hours’ drive from Cape Town. Agulhas is another of the Western Cape’s most popular attractions, if you come to the Western Cape and you don’t take a picture at the most southern point in Africa then you haven’t done it right. The drive from Cape Town to Agulhas along the Garden Route is one of the Western Cape’s hidden gems, as beautiful as any other route in the Western Cape.
At Cape Agulhas you will see this monument (pictured above) and the most Southern Lighthouse in the whole of Africa which is of Egyptian design to match the one at the most northern point in Africa.The area around Agulhas has so much to offer that you can’t possibly take it all in just one day. Arniston was named after an 1815 ship which sank just offshore. The town got its Afrikaans name “Waenhuiskrans” from the beautiful limestone cave which is just outside of town. The cave is said to be so big that wagons with a full span of oxen used to turn around inside it. The historic fishing village of Kassiesbaai, which is just a couple of kilometres from Arniston, has been named as a national heritage site, it is one of the last unspoilt fishing villages in South Africa.
Honestly speaking………you should spend one night in this area.Especially recommended for hikers.
You can ask every travel guide/agent, bus driver or taxi driver in Cape Town what you should do while holidaying in Cape Town and they will all say that you must (amongst other things) make a visit to the Cape Winelands. With all that Cape Town has to offer it is easy to get captivated in the beauty and energy of the city and to forget that places like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Robertson are all under two hours’ drive from the mother city. This would however be a big mistake because the Cape Winelands have just as much to offer in beauty and history as Cape Town itself.
Stellenbosch is the spiritual home of the Cape Winelands, where it all began, ground zero. The Stellenbosch Wine Route was established by three prominent wine makers in 1971, namely Frans Malan from Simonsig, SpatzSperling from Delheim and Neil Joubert from Spier. The town and the route is situated in a valley that is surrounded with beautiful mountains, scattered with countless wine estates. The only problem with Stellenbosch is that you never know where to go or what to do because there is so much on offer. You can go wine tasting at any of the world class wine estates. You can go for lunch or dinner at any of the award winning restaurants in town or you can simply stroll through the streets of the old town and take in some history while stopping every now and then for some coffee and gelato. We came up with what we think is the “Perfect day in Stellenbosch”. A day that combines history, culture, good food, wine and breath-taking scenery together. Let’s hope you’ll get some inspiration from reading this piece, so much so that you’ll book your next winelands breakaway today!
First things first, to experience Stellenbosch in the best way possible you have to stay either close to the town on one if the wine farms on in town itself. It takes more time to experience the best of what the town has to offer than the time that a daytrip offers you. Get up early and head to Church Street in the middle of town. Here you can familiarise yourself with the restaurants and coffee shops while soak up some of the history that lurks around every corner of this picturesque town. Sit down at Java Café or Blue Orange for a coffee to recharge the batteries and take in the day to day movements of the town locals before your breakfast date awaits at one of South Africa’s most famous estates, J.C. le Roux. The breakfast spread at J.C le Roux is amazing but what draws the crowds is the Cap Classique tastings (cap Classique is South Africa’s version of France’s, Champagne). A wide variety of sparkling wines are available for tasting from the La Valle’e Rose’ to the Pinot Noir. You can also take a cellar tour through the famous J.C. le Roux cellar. Here you can buy a bottle of your favourite sparkling wine after the earlier tasting. J.C. le Roux takes the Champagne breakfast to a whole new level.
After you have warmed up at J.C le Roux it’s time to hit the wine tasting route. With so many farms to choose from it’s difficult to make a decision on where to go. Usually the best way to do it is by looking for farms that produce the wines that you enjoy the most. For red wines you need to go to the “golden triangle” in Stellenbosch. The Golden Triangle is the patch of land that lies at the foot of the Helderberg Mountains on the Annandale Road. Here farms like Rust en Vrede, Biton and Alto make the most delicious red wines that have all won numerous domestic and international awards. Stellenbosch has been traditionally known in international circles for producing great white wines. For a white wine lover almost any of the wine estates are perfect for wine tastings because almost all of them produce good quality white wines. If you want to do some tastings with a view then head to Ernie ElsWines. The legendary golfer’s estate has one of the most beautiful views of the Stellenbosch valley, the wines aren’t that bad either. Simonsig, Spier and Tokara are some of the best wine estates to visit if you’re a white wine lover. With so much places to choose from it is easy to get off track and head into any estate planned or unplanned but there are some charming gems that are must visit estates for every traveller to Stellenbosch. Muratie and Kanonkop are these two must visit estates. Both estates produce award winning wines and have history that stretches back for a couple of hundred years. In 1685 the first settlers started working on the land that is now known as Muratie. The first homestead can still be seen on the farm which is still being run as a family business, just like it has been for hundreds of years. Kanonkop is arguably South Africa’s flagship red-wine estate. This 4th generation run family farm produces exceptional wines year in and year out. There is nothing flashy about these two estates, but that is what makes them so special. Muratie has an 80 year old dinner table that is used for wine tastings. It has spider’s webs that hang from the tasting room’s roof which is situated in the old wine cellar. Kanonkop just has a different feel to it. You don’t feel like you’re on some billionaires’ farm that he keeps as a hobby, you feel like you’re just at a friend’s place, popping in to say hi.
Stellenbosch lunches are usually served late in the afternoon after you have enjoyed some great wine and even better company. There are many world class restaurant on numerous wine estate to choose from to have lunch at, but doing lunch in the town itself can be much more enjoyable. The hustle and bustle of the small streets where students and locals walk past centuries old buildings, chatting about the day’s events is what makes Stellenbosch so special. Church Street and the vicinity around it is where the old town is and where the best restaurants are situated. There is something for everyone from great steaks at Hussar Grill, Lebanese wraps at Manouche, exceptional pastries at de Oude Bank Bakkerij to fine dining at Wijnhuis. During the summer months you’ll have to book a table in advance as Stellenbosch fills up with tourists very quickly when the sun comes out.
Dinner is where the magic happens. After a relaxing late afternoon strolling through the streets of the old town, going to one of the many museums in town or taking an afternoon nap at your hotel you should be dressed and ready for a night of fine dining. There are two restaurants on different estates that stand out for different reasons. The one is Rust en Vrede and the other is Delaire Graff. Rust en Vrede has one of the best restaurants in South Africa, fine dining at its best with a 10 course surprise menu or a European style menu to choose from. The restaurant was rated the number one restaurant in South Africa in 2011 by Eatout Magazine. Rust en Vrede is one of the most intimate and romantic restaurants in the world to dine at. The wines aren’t bad either, they have constantly been named among the top red wines in South Africa and the world. The farm is the only estate in South Africa to have both a restaurant and a wine ranked within the top 100 in the world. The second option to consider will be a dinner at either the Delaire Graff Restaurant, with ‘bistro-chic’ cuisine, or the Indochine Restaurant, with Asian contemporary cuisine, both are situated on the Delaire Graff estate. The views from this estate are exceptional, it is seen by many as the most exclusive estate in the area. The owner of this estate is Laurence Graff, a world renowned jeweller based in London and founder of Graff Diamonds.
Rust en Vrede stands out because it has fine dining with a local feel. There is nothing pretentious about the restaurant, they let you feel right at home. Although it’s a fine dining restaurant it still has a laid back atmosphere about it. Rust en Vrede sums up essentially what Stellenbosch is all about, world class wines and food, combined with warm, small town hospitality. Delaire Graff is all about luxury and natural beauty. The restaurants on this estate have some of the most breath-taking views of the Stellenbosch Mountains and Vineyards. Here you can have an exceptional plate of food served on a multimillion dollar wine estate with a billion dollar view in front of you. If you have dinner at Delaire Graff be sure to have it on the viewing deck under the African sky, you’ll never want to leave.