Kate recently travelled to South Africa to catch some winter sunshine and to check out some of our favourite places to stay….. here is part one of her journey.
It is always a great pleasure to return to South Africa, full of vibrant people, breath-taking scenery and many adventures to experience.
This time I was planning an array of adventure activities in Cape Town and the surrounding areas, along with visiting and inspecting some beautiful hotels for our clients.
The Western Cape has lots to offer all types of travellers. For the young adventurer there are a plethora of outdoor activities: abseiling down Table Mountain, great white shark diving, skydiving and bungee jumping. For the traveller who likes to enjoy the finer things in life there are the world-renowned Cape Winelands, excellent restaurants and more relaxed activities, like catching the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, whale watching and guided tours in the region.
With an abundance of accommodation to choose from there will be something to suit all tastes. Eye catching, structurally stunning and architecturally imposing, there is no place like The Silo, perfectly located on the Victoria and Albert Waterfront in the hub of Cape Town, with long reaching views through all of its double storey bubbled windows. The planning and thought that has gone into the design and finishing with art and sculpture is stunning. If you want a pool with a view this one is for you!
If your tastes are a little more subdued and peaceful then the Cape Winelands has many options, from the elegance and tranquillity of the Leeu Estates, with a splash of fine art and sculpture sourced from around the world, to the opulence and sophistication of La Residence, you will be spoilt for choice.
Venture south along the coast towards the most southerly tip of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet and you happen across a small coastal town called Hermanus with a reputation for the best land-based whale watching in the world due to the excellent viewpoints provided along the cliff paths of Walker Bay.
During the whale watching season, from June to November, Southern Right Whales migrate from the Antarctic to the Walker Bay area to calve and mate. I have been lucky enough to have spent a whole season watching this amazing spectacle taking place, enjoying many a day sipping a drink in one of the fabulous local restaurants or bars looking out over the bay watching the whales “breach”, “spy hop”, “lob tailing” and “sailing” all day long.
The cliffs drop away steeply and in some cases around the bay are a sheer drop from land to the waters below, because of this the whales come in very close to the shore and if you are lucky enough you can literally be only a couple of meters from a mother and her calf, quite an experience! Under professional guidance and following local rules on interaction with the whales you are able to experience closer encounters with kayaking and paddle boarding in the bay.
As always, there is a fantastic selection of accommodation within the area. Secluded, private and surrounded by South Africa’s famous fynbos, is the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, with far reaching views across the bay to the Cape Peninsular. There are hectares of private nature reserve to explore, horse riding along Grotto beach and great white shark diving only a short drive away, this is a fantastic location to be based for adventure activities, whale watching and relaxation.
Birkenhead house is also a favourite of ours in the area, located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean just a short distance from the main town of Hermanus, tucked away in a beautiful beach cove, this is a great option if you want to relax in the comfort of your hotel and watch whales frolicking in the Bay. The Royal Portfolio is such an outstanding collection of properties, combining these in South Africa makes for a magical experience in itself.
If you are seeking seclusion, privacy and a relaxed way of life The Thatch House will be for you. Located on the Klein River Lagoon on the outskirts of Hermanus, the property hosts activities from the lagoon dock, including boat trips, kayaking, a tennis court, a large children’s tree house and walking trails at Fernkloof Nature Reserve. The property is guarded by the ever imposing 964-meter Maanskynkop mountain, the highest in the area. You will never get tired of this beautiful part of South African with such a large choice of activities and properties in the vicinity.
The moral of this story is that Cape Town and the surrounding areas has much to offer all character of traveller, fine wines and food to great white shark diving, slow paced tours of the beautiful scenery to abseiling from a mountain. The Western Cape has it all, it is a place that I will never become board of and will visit time and time again with new adventures to be had on every occasion.