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Old Nov 21, 10, 5:18 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
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Cape - winelands - Garden Route - Cape circular?

Dear all,
Please can anyone offer suggestions for a circular route for a 10 - 11 day drive in May to and from Cape Town to include some winery visits and the western end of the Garden Route?

We prefer not to move our base too often, which is why we thought we wouldn't go too far East.
We know quite a bit about wine and have visited wineries in various parts of the world, but this is our first visit to SA.
We're keen day hikers and photographers, and are interested in wildlife and early Man sites.

Many thanks for any advice.
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Old Nov 28, 10, 4:17 am   #2
 
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As no-one else seems to be answering this, let me have a try:

If you dont want to move base too often, I would suggest it is quite possible to do a lot in and around Cape Town with day drives for 10-11 days.

Certainly the 'best' wineries are all within a 2 hour drive from Cape Town, a few are actually within the Cape metropolis itself (the Constantia area). Think Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschoek, Durbanville etc).

For early man sites, you could drive to Clanwilliam, which is a few hours North of Cape Town. There are some interesting rock paintings on a walk half an hour out of Clanwilliam. It might be a good idea to book a B&B for a night in Clanwilliam for that. You can then drive back along the West coast past places like Lamberts Bay, Elands Bay and Peternoster, all quite picturesque. The West coast is much 'starker' than the South coast and has (to me) a special 'feel'. The West coast national park is quite nice too, especially in the flower season (but that's in September and is very short). You'll see some buck, zebra and ostriches there

Depending on the season, you will be able to see the whales at Hermanus, which is an easy 2 hour drive along the South Coast. I hear that the whale season this year has been very good, you dont need to go out on a boat, the whales come very close to the coast! Even outside whale season, Hermanus (and the drive there, via Gordons Bay and Cape Hangklip) is very nice.

Of course you will already have been up Table Mountain (do this at the first opportunity as the cable car does not operate when it is cloudy or the wind is too strong). Unfortunately, hiking up the mountain is no longer safe, it would have been a great thing to do for a day hike but muggings make it unadvisable now.

Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope are about an hour and a half away, again via a very scenic drive along the '12 Apostles' and Chapmans Peak drive on the western side of the Cape Peninsula (drive back on the Eastern side via Simonstown).

For wildlife, the Cape Town area is not the best option. You will see some buck and plenty of ostriches (and baboons) in the Cape Point nature reserve. Also the famous "Dassies" (rock rabbits) on Table Mountain, but that's hardly 'wildlife'.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Plenty to do around Cape Town without spending too much time in your car. Lots to find on the Internet too, if you have specific questions you can PM me.
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Old Dec 1, 10, 4:18 pm   #3
 
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Yes, there are plenty of things to do in Cape Town for 10 days, when taking day trips. I've been here for a week & will leave in a few days. I've been keeping busy doing a guided peninsula tour, cable mountain, visiting museums around the city, the waterfront, green market square, Robbens Island, a township tour tomorrow, a day trip to Aquila, etc... I also love riding the tourist "Hop On Hop Off" bus. It is like riding in a convertible looking at the beautiful scenery in the beautiful weather. I've just been using it as my primary way of getting around the city (the red line) as I find it so relaxing. Just bring sunscreen! I've gotten quite baked in the sun.

I'm staying at the Atlantic Affair Hotel in the Sea Point area of Cape Town. It is a small 4 star with modern, luxurious rooms & the most amazing staff who treat you like you are the only guest. It was my birthday the other day & I told the staff member that I wanted to do something fun so I asked her what she would recommend I do. Well, guess what...on my birthday I went downstairs in the morning to find a cake for me & a card with a ticket to Table Mountain! The staff sang happy birthday to me! Then tonight, the hotel owner took me & a couple from England out to dinner at this hip restaurant called the Grand Cafe or something like that! I've truly gotten spoiled with all this personal attention! This has been the most amazing vacation!

Last edited by Alysia; Dec 2, 10 at 1:01 pm.
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Old Dec 2, 10, 6:08 am   #4
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Brilliant, well done!

I just had a quick look at http://www.atlanticaffair.co.za/. Just one thing: they say that €1 = 13.1848 ZAR, £1 = 15.67752 ZAR and $1 = 10.46246 ZAR.

Hmmm ... that looks a bit awry. If they would guarantee those rates, I'd stay there for a month!
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Old Dec 2, 10, 1:00 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by Roger View Post
Brilliant, well done!

I just had a quick look at http://www.atlanticaffair.co.za/. Just one thing: they say that €1 = 13.1848 ZAR, £1 = 15.67752 ZAR and $1 = 10.46246 ZAR.

Hmmm ... that looks a bit awry. If they would guarantee those rates, I'd stay there for a month!
Hmmm...not sure about that but your credit card gets charged in ZAR, so you have nothing to worry about. Seriously, for approx $140 a night, you can't go wrong staying here. I'm just sad that my stay is coming close to the end.

The hotel's location is nice as well....not in the direct tourist area, but just two blocks from the sea & there are also restaurants & grocery stores within walking distance. The Hop On Hop Off bus has a stop about 4 blocks away.
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Old Dec 4, 10, 8:30 am   #6
 
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That's great - many thanks!
Plenty to think about there...
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Old Dec 6, 10, 4:43 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by Alysia View Post
Hmmm...not sure about that but your credit card gets charged in ZAR, so you have nothing to worry about. Seriously, for approx $140 a night, you can't go wrong staying here. I'm just sad that my stay is coming close to the end.
Upon checking out yesterday, the hotel gave me a good bye card & a book. The hotel owner even told me to email them when I got home to let them know I got home safely. (Unbelievable!!!) I'm currently sitting in the BMI lounge at Heathrow, where the weather is nothing like it was in Cape Town.

If anyone ever decides to stay at the Atlantic Affair Hotel, tell them I sent you. They seemed to like me.
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Old Dec 7, 10, 3:58 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by Alysia View Post
They seemed to like me.
Well, there is no doubt about that ! And you give them a good return on their kindness by giving them this free advertising. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Added: I just had a look at their website and the reviews on there (obviously they'll publish the best ones, but anyway..) sound exactly like your experience. Same for all tripadvisor reviews (I see yours there as well). They seem to like all guests, which is a really good business model for a boutique hotel!

Having lived in Cape Town for 30 years, I obviously dont know the hotels from my own experience, but when I read comments like this, it makes me feel good to be a Capetonian!


And a small tease: Its sunny and 27 C in CPT today. The wind has dropped too, so a perfect Cape summers day!

Last edited by thijsseh; Dec 7, 10 at 5:04 am. Reason: Added observations from other websites
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Old Dec 7, 10, 5:48 am   #9
 
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Originally Posted by thijsseh View Post
Well, there is no doubt about that ! And you give them a good return on their kindness by giving them this free advertising. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Added: I just had a look at their website and the reviews on there (obviously they'll publish the best ones, but anyway..) sound exactly like your experience. Same for all tripadvisor reviews (I see yours there as well). They seem to like all guests, which is a really good business model for a boutique hotel!

Having lived in Cape Town for 30 years, I obviously dont know the hotels from my own experience, but when I read comments like this, it makes me feel good to be a Capetonian!


And a small tease: Its sunny and 27 C in CPT today. The wind has dropped too, so a perfect Cape summers day!
Thanks for the tease about the weather. I arrived back in Washington, DC last night to freezing temps. I'm sitting on my sofa with an electric blanket on me. How I wish I hadn't left Cape Town!

I found Cape Town to be the most amazing place! I really had no idea of what it would be like & expected it to be not as nice as it is. It wasn't even my idea to go there. A few months back, I decided I wanted to take a birthday trip this year, so I asked one of my FT friends where I should go....it didn't matter as long I could get there in FC/Biz on star alliance carriers using my US Airways miles. My FT friend suggested Cape Town, as he had been there with his parents a couple of years ago. The next thing I knew, my FT friend was asking for my US Airways acct number & was booking me a ticket.

He got me the following biz class routing, which I was excited about: JFK-FRA on SQ, FRA-JNB on the LH 380, JNB-CPT on SAA, and then the return was SAA CPT-JNB-LHR & then the new Envoy suites on US Airways LHR-PHL. I thought the long haul service on SAA was far superior to that of the LH & SQ for sure in all regards...the food, the service, the seat (truly lie-flat and not angled), and the amenity kit. I liked the new Envoy suites, but with the exception of the suite seats, SAA was superior to US Airways as well.

I was a little concerned about my safety in advance of the trip (I was traveling alone to South Africa after all), especially right before the trip with the Dewani murder. However, walking around Cape Town, I felt totally safe. I stuck to the main tourist stuff & didn't venture out after dark.

I loved the food...you could eat really well for not that much money. The Grand Cafe (where the hotel owner took me) was the most unique place I ate at. I ate a nice meal at Willoughbys at the V&A shopping mall and also enjoyed a fish place along the strip in Camps Bay. I also ate at a few places within a couple of blocks of the hotel. (Not quite sure how the hotel owner chooses who he takes to dinner...maybe only guests who stay at least a week? It was a fun evening. The Grand Cafe has a unique atmosphere, as it is a converted warehouse with huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It was packed on a Wednesday night, so a reservation is a good idea.)

With regards to my activities in Cape Town, I was not disappointed in any of them. The boat ride to Robbin Island wasn't rough, like I had been expecting. The township tour had the most impact on me. I found it stunning to go from the van driver picking up a couple on the tour staying at The One & Only to less than 20 minutes later when we were looking at the shacks of a township.

I really enjoyed my time in Cape Town. I'd go as far as to say it was one of my best vacations ever, if not the best. I had several "Under the Tuscan Sun" moments & really didn't want to leave. I walked by a real estate office & looked the ads on the windows. I thought to myself, "Hmmm...it doesn't cost that much to live here in a nice place & I can run my business from any place in the world just as long as I have an internet connection." I know I will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later!

Edited to add this: I booked my transportation to/from the airport with the hotel. The driver that they book you with is really nice, though I didn't meet her till my return to the airport. You see, the driver had something come up in the afternoon that I was arriving, so she sent her uncle (who apparently helps her out with her chauffeur business) to pick me up. He was friendly & we chatted along the way to the hotel. Anyway, going back to the airport upon my departure from Cape Town, I finally got to meet the woman who was supposed to pick me up. She told me that had she met me at the airport upon my arrival, since I was on my own, she would have had me over for dinner! Unbelievable! I'm still stunned by my whole Cape Town experience!

Last edited by Alysia; Dec 7, 10 at 9:41 pm.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 8:56 am   #10
 
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In July I landed in JNB, met my 2 sons who flew in from JFK and we spent the 1st 2 weeks of 5 weeks touring between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. We spent 6 days at Jeffrey's Bay where they learned how to surf. The Billabong was on. Then we also jumped off the Blaukrans bridge which is the world's longest bungee jump. Lots of fun.

Diving in a steel cage at Mossel Bay was a lot of fun for the boys because they were right next to the white sharks.

We eventually got to Stellenboch and used it as a base. The wineyards and Van Rhys brandy facility was great. In fact we liked the brandy so much that I bought 6 bottles of 15 year old brandy for just over $700 USD. VEEEERY nice drop it was.

Stellenboch was great for touring vineyards and Paarl is a very nice place to spend time. KW? has an excellent tour as well.

Capetown was great. The boys consolidated their surfing at Muizenberg. We did not have time to go to the west side, but my friends said Cape Town is an incredible place to spend time. However, Stellenboch was a real hoot as they met locat RSA students in the bars, etc.

Driving thru the Karoo was great, and going on the Prinz Albert Pass road was an incredible adventure. To think the Voertrekers went thru that pass with all their belongings a few hundred years ago... WOW! 1st and 2nd gear all the way from Prinz Albert (town) to near Oudtshoorn. It is best to do it in daylight. Stop at the summit (Die Top) and climb up a bit, but bring a "jacket/windbreaker" as you WILL need it.

Take a train somewhere. We took a coach seat from Pt. Elizabeth to Johannesberg. The boys did NOT like it, but it reminded them of how poor, but friendly the locals are. Perfectly safe, and the young children running around the coach are an absolute delight :-) For some of the youngest we were the 1st white folks who were right next to them... In fact we three were the only white folks on the entire train.

Send me a PM if you want extra info. We came back to RSA for another week after going to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. I went to Tanzania after the boys flew back home and enjoyed it so much that I will return to TZ in late January.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 5:57 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by thijsseh View Post
For wildlife, the Cape Town area is not the best option. You will see some buck and plenty of ostriches (and baboons) in the Cape Point nature reserve. Also the famous "Dassies" (rock rabbits) on Table Mountain, but that's hardly 'wildlife'.
Are there any other reserves within 3-5 hrs distance that you recommend? Any national parks for game viewing? How's Karoo Nat'l Park?

We are planning our trip for this Feb and while we are going to stay mostly in CT, we'd like to stay a couple of nights up north or wherever is a good area for game viewing at reasonable rates (not looking for luxurious). Any tips will be much appreciated.

Thanks!
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