Tours

The perfect day on the Stellenbosch Wine Route

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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

The Cape of Needles

Cape Agulhas is considered as one of the great Capes, is situated at the southernmost tip of Africa. The town was christened by the Portuguese navigators of the 1500’s, literally meaning the Cape of Needles; this is as a result of their compass needles’, magnetic North almost coinciding with true North.  The L’ Agulhas region is also geographically renowned as it is the point where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet,. This town also has cultural and historical significance as the KhoiKhoi inhabited this area for centuries; still visible are the tidal traps that the Khoi had used to fish. Here you will also find one of SA’s oldest working lighthouse built in 1848, now equipped with museum and curio shop.  Whale watchers will find the best time to visit L’ Agulhas from September to about February

Source: sa.travel-directory.co

Source: sa.travel-directory.co

The Suiderstrand

Not too far from L’ Agulhas; is Suiderstrand, surrounded by the Agulhas National Park, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. With hiking trails and coastal walks through the National Park rendering visitors with breathtaking views, pristine beaches and a marine lagoon.

Source: Henk Aartsma,http://www.south-africa-tours-and-travel.com/

Source: Henk Aartsma,http://www.south-africa-tours-and-travel.com/

The longest stretch of beach in the Southern hemisphere

A further 10 min L’ Agulhas is the coastal resort: Struisbaai, with the longest stretch of pristine beach (13 km) this side of the equator. Visitors flock to this huge beach mostly for water sports. Another must see attraction is the Struisbaai harbour. Home to a local fishing community, it appeals to visitors from local and abroad.

The Whale Haven and Wagon House

Another beautiful seaside town in the Overberg is Arniston. Named after a tragic shipwreck of the early 1800’s, Arniston is home to a vibrant fishing community and is one of the most picturesque places on the southern coastline, perfect for whale watching. Arniston is also referred to as ”Waenhuiskrans”, named after the massive cave, close by that can actually house a herd of cattle and an ox wagon.

Feuding in the name of the Lord

Do not forget to visit the sleepy towns of Bredasdorp and Napier, these farming communities originated in the 1800’s as result of a feud between two neighbours, Michiel van Breda and Pieter Voltelyn van der Byl, about where the church should be built. Unable to resolve the dispute the town, the church and its community was split.

An Ode to Slavery’s ELIMination.

In the heart of the Agulhas plain you will find a quaint little village comprising of a thatch roof church, white washed houses and fruit trees, Elim. Elim is home to a Moravian missionary station established in 1824, and in Elim all roads lead to church, literally. This little missionary town also boasts SA’s only monument commemorating Emancipation. First erected in the summer of 1834, then re- erected in 1938, and finally refurbished in 2004. This monument not only pays homage to the freedom of slaves and the abolishment of slavery, but also signifies the integration of a community.

Source:http ://barefootwhiteafrican.blogspot.com/

Source:http ://barefootwhiteafrican.blogspot.com/

Enjoy a destination with a difference, Cape Agulhas, the ideal getaway

Paternoster: A walk on the wild side

On the West Coast you will find a sleepy fisherman’s village called Paternoster. Can you visualise the presence of mermaids soaking up the sun on the jagged rocks that lay scattered along the ocean? Gaze upon white washed fisherman’s cottages that lay scattered in the gem found between Saldanha and St Helena Bay, as your feet leave behind footprints on the soft white sand that graces the seashore. Allow yourself to be swept away by the scenic landscape as take a walk along an idyllic coast. It is the ideal place to simply let your hair down and relax.

Source: http://www.oystercatchershaven.com

Source: http://www.oystercatchershaven.com

The seaside destination is endearingly referred to as Paternoster which means “Our father” in Latin, in memory of the prayers said by shipwrecked Catholic Portuguese seamen. It is a village reminiscent of yesteryear and steeped in history..

West Coast Cuisine

This little seaside town on the West Coast sports a number of top-notch restaurants, ranging from the outrageous setups like the Noisy Oyster; where the menu changes every day, Oysters are served with a presentation so tantalizing , you barely miss the pearl.

To the more elegant, couple owned, SkatKis (Treasure Chest), at the Paternoster lodge, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Here you will find a menu consisting mostly of seafood dishes and West Coast traditional dishes and a very unique milk dessert. Be sure to add the milk dessert to your list of must-haves.

There is also the rather quaint Voorstrandt restaurant, an old fisherman’s house with terrace built from wood and corrugated roofing, right on the edge of the beach makes it ideal for those summertime al fresco lunches.

Marked as a West Coast’s gem; the Gaatjie Saltwater Restaurant, is a one of a kind fine dining experience. Hidden between the rocks the simple fisherman’s cottage stands out like a boulder to the eye of any culinary aficionado.

Source: http://paternoster-accommodation.za

Source: http://paternoster-accommodation.za

These are but a few of the many attractions in and around this picturesque coastal town.

Wonderfully Wild

Explore the unspoiled wilderness of Tieties Bay, found within the Columbine Nature Reserve. Tieties has its own picnic area and barbecue spots for the hungry traveller to sit and enjoy their lunch while drawing in the elements of nature. The Nature Reserve is located over the rocky coast. If you crave a scenic experience of the wild outdoors opt for something less conventional than commuting, Paternoster is a great place to ride a horse. The area is a perfect combination of sea and land activities Experience whale watching, observe dolphins and engage with penguins and seals as you enjoy a fresh take on flora and fauna. The area is also home to 225 bird species.

Source: http://www.capetownhappenings.co.za

Source: http://www.capetownhappenings.co.za

It’s the perfect place to view animals that existed well before our time. This tourist destination has its own fossil park with an array of fossils from various prehistoric animals. View fossils of mega tooth sharks, sabre tooth tigers, giant ostriches and woolly mammoths.

In spring the land is a floral paradise draped by a Namaqualand carpet of brightly coloured flowers. Visit between July and October, flower season sees the landscape transformed into a colourful canvas.

Action-packed adventure

Get out your GoPro and gear up for the action adventure of a lifetime. Take to the skies or sink to the depths of the ocean…Have a taste of the sea; undertake a magical deep sea adventure by snorkeling or scuba diving to uncover the mysteries of the deep blue. Paternoster has a range of watersports that you can chose from such as kayaking and deep sea diving. Brace yourself for a swim in the ice cold waters if you dare.

Source:http://www.adventure-life.com

Source:http://www.adventure-life.com

Try your hand at kitesurfing or fly a kite. The scenic outdoors and dramatic landscape has numerous biking trails and rock formations. While partaking in a treacherous hike, go back in time and engage with the history of the Khoi and the San by viewing caves and art work.

This area aims to give you the adrenalin rush you’ve been looking for.

Something Fishy

Paternoster epitomizes the SA commercial fishing industry. Commercial activities include oyster farming,. Get fresh herrings from local traders, or indulge in mussels drawn from Paternoster’s craggy rocks. The fishing village is home to the largest oyster farm in South Africa.

Source:http://westcoastdm.co.za

Source:http://westcoastdm.co.za

This trip to the West Coast is a wild ride that takes you to the sea and engages with wilderness in an adventure that traverses sea and land. Don’t spoil your holiday fun by stressing about accommodation and travel. Just formulate a schedule of things to do. Take2Tours takes care of all the little things so that you can have a holiday to remember. Drop us a line and tell us all about your experience.

 

Making the most of Montagu

Take Route 62 , the scenic alternative to the N2 highway leading you to Montagu, the gateway to the Little Karoo. Expect a journey filled with twists and turns, as you pass through a mountainous region fringed with wild flowers and magnificent landscapes that implore you to take out your camera and indulge in the natural the beauty of the Western Cape.

The little town of Montagu is found at the other end of mountain passes between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, the Garden Route and Eastern Cape. Explore a beautiful region that invites summer all year long.

Health and Wellness

Montagu is known for its natural hot springs. You need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. Indulge in Montagu’s hot springs for a therapeutic experience that aims to revitalise.  Montagu has great resorts and spas such as Avalon Springs and Montagu Springs.

Wonderful Wines

Montagu is muscadel country, producing an array of sustainable wine products ranging from dry white wine and matures reds to rich and fruity muscadels and grape juice. Enjoy a great selection from Montagu Wines and Spirits Company and Montagu Cellar; both wineries are in partnership with the biodiversity and wine initiative (BWI). The BWI seeks to converse natural habitats and encourage sustainable farming practices.

Natural Selection

Montagu Mountain Reserve – Take a walk along the trails that lead to a beautiful mountain range and popular spots such as Joubert Park, Kanonkop, Cogman’s Kloof and Lovers Walk. Montagu is revered for its great rock climbing facilities. Explore more than 200 bolted routes. If a long walk is what you need take a hike through an area rich in biodiversity. The nature reserve is home to tortoises, dassies and other forms of wildlife.

Montagu Nature Garden – The wild flower reserve offers a great panoramic view of Montagu. It is the perfect place to view the Cape Folded Mountains. It is home to numerous succulents, fynbos, geophytes, shrubs, trees and “vygies”; teeming with wildlife.

Montagu Guano Cave –  The guest farm offers a tractor trip into the mountain for cave experience like no other. Stories of Khoi and San ancestors line the cave, home of thousands of bats. The Guano Cave offers day and night facilities that range from horse riding, swimming and swimming in heated pools to a petting farm. Rabbit World is home to Chinchillas, Gerbils, Snakes, guinea pigs and rabbits. If you left your camping gear a home, sleep over at Stone Cottage.

Montagu Dried Fruit Route – Take a tractor trip through a rich countryside that gives rise to orchards and drying fruit fields. It is the ultimate tour for the best dried fruits, nuts and wines.

Montagu Museum

The town of Montagu has a rich history. Take some time off to visit its museums and artistic hot spots. Take a trip down memory lane by visiting architectural masterpieces that withstood the test of time.

The Old Mission Church – This relic houses a collection of bibles, church artefacts and wedding dresses from back in the day. The Old Mission church contains a wing dedicated to Indigenous Medical Plant research.

Joubert House Museum – This museum is dedicated to the child at heart. It contains a variety of toys and porcelain dolls from the 80s.

KWV buildings – It is the place to view the town’s industrial architectural history. Go back in time with the museum collection of agricultural vehicles and antiquities.

Feel free to comment and tell us all about your previous trip to muscadel country.  Your next trip will be hassle free, relax and let the scenary sink in as you take a leisurely drive to Montagu. Leave all the hard parts up to us, from great accommodation, to guided tours and travel; Take2Tours has it covered.

Revisiting the long walk to freedom

On the 5 December 2013 the world said goodbye to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the leader who freed a nation through sacrifice.  At the age of 95 years, the icon embraced years of turmoil in a South African prison to secure political freedom and equality for all South Africans. Take the long walk to freedom in honour of the legend that made it possible. You may have missed the opportunity to join dignitaries such as Kofi Annan, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Ban Ki-moon at the memorial service that had the world in mourning; today we urge you on to take the plunge and head to the places where it all started, one location at a time. Get out your Madiba shirt – this trip is a special occasion. Whether you have had the opportunity to revisit Madiba’s legacy by watching Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom or you have read his autobiography; it is about time you take the steps to visit the locations the history pages will never forget and some of the places that embraced his name.

From the country to the city

Tata, as we affectionately know him, grew up in the rural village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape. His place of birth, Mvezo in Mthatha, Transkei is a beautiful valley marked by rondavels and lush green hillsides. It is a place steeped in tradition. Our starting point on the Madiba route takes the beaten track and invites you to the country side for a taste of history that the city fails to provide.

 Places you should visit to engage in the memory

  1. Mandela House – Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto honours the memory of a great man in four walls. The Mandela House, established in 1992 is a national museum; it was the home of Madiba between 1946 and 1962. The home still contains original furnishings and memorabilia and photographs. In Tata’s words, “For me no. 8115 was the centre point of my world, the place marked an X in my mental geography”. Allow it to draw you into the world of the father of a nation.
  2. Robben Island Museum – In 1962 the Rivonia trial imprisoned a man for what would later become an eternity of sacrifice. The prison has been altered into a museum that most directly relate to the struggle for freedom. This South African monument and the site itself serves as an enduring part of South African history.
  3. Tuynhys, Company Gardens – Tuynhys was the Cape Town presidential office Madiba during his reign as president. During this period he resided in Westbrook, Newlands, situated next to Groote Schuur (Rhodes House).
  4. Union BuildingsMadiba was inaugurated at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa in 1994. A statue that shows Madiba with arms wide open is a tangible indicator of his ability to embrace all.
  5. Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory The Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory was established as part of the Nelson Mandela Foundation contribution to society. It is open to the public by appointment only. The centre aims to create dialogues regarding critical social issues and has annual lectures in which debates are driven by prominent people.
  6. The Nelson Mandela MuseumThis natural heritage site was established on the 10th anniversary of Mandela’s release. The time capsule celebrates the life of the icon; it houses exhibitions that showcase gifts Madiba received throughout his life, as well as a collection of artefacts, illustrations and images from people, governments and institutions worldwide. It is located in the Bunga building in Mthatha, along the N2 highway – the gateway to the Wildcoast. A satellite museum campus exists in Qunu, called the Nelson Mandela Youth Heritage Centre.
  7. “Release” Nelson Mandela Monument – South African artist Marco Ciafenelli erected a monument at the location where Mandela was captured in 1962. The art piece consists of 50 columns that represent 27 years of imprisonment. It is erected in Howick in the Natal Midlands.

Take2Tours offers you the opportunity to visit these historic sites and cultural places without the stress usually related to travel. From finding the best accommodation to sticking to your itinerary and getting to each and every must see location; we have it covered.

ART IN CAPE TOWN

First Thursdays Cape Town

The first Thursday of each month sees a number of art galleries and special interest stores open until 9pm to contribute to growing art culture in Cape Town. December the 5th signifies twelve Thursday s of evening art. The diverse range of opportunities to experience art range from gallery exhibitions, live performances, night shopping and dining to a Food Truck Market (located in Riebeeck Square). If Iziko South African Gallery is part of your main course for the evening,  make a point of viewing the following exhibitions:- Objects in the Tide: Highlights from the Iziko Art CollectionOpening Plato’s Cave: The Legacy of Kevin Atkinson (1939-2007) and The Standard  Bank Young Artist Award winner, Mary Sibande’s The Purple Shall Govern.

The Art Walk Festival

www.artwalk.co.za/

www.artweek.co.za

 

Have you ever wondered about the process that goes into creating a masterpiece?  The Art walk represents an open studio exhibition that literally spans central Cape Town, Observatory, Woodstock and Salt River. Visit local studios where professional artists create and sell their work. The public are able to engage with art within the sphere of its production. This open platform bridges the gap between viewing art and experiencing its creation.  Reclaim a sense of artistic agency as you create your own art route using free maps distributed throughout the city

It is now or next year, experience South African art as it open its doors to the public after hours. Get lost in art like never before while you take a walk off the beaten track in the streets of Cape Town, South Africa.

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