We all have a list of places we’d love to visit one day. We have adventures on our bucket list that we day dream about constantly. There are just so many countries, cities, towns, islands – each gifting the world and touching people like us in their own unique and special way.
Now, if you were to ask me what’s on my bucket list or, more specifically, what are the places that I fantasize about? I could go on forever! But the one place that has always been at the top of my list is….Africa! The wild life, exotic animals and the diverse cultures has always drawn me to this mysterious continent.
It was October 2013 and my hubby and I were manically trying to decide where to go for our year end trip. We have a tendency to wait til the last minute to plan and book things – Bad habit, I know, and we’re working on it, but luckily things tend to turn out ok….well, so far (knock on wood)! After a whole lot of hectic searching, asking friends, googling, scrolling through trip advisor, tossing ideas around we both thought – Hey, how bout Africa?!
We didn’t even know where to begin so we emailed a few travel concierge services and went with the first one that replied, Jacada Travel. They turned out AWESOME!!! We usually plan our own itineraries and like to kind of ‘just wing it’ and plan our days when we arrive by asking the locals for recommendations (to avoid all the touristy hotspots). However, with Africa – I’ve heard some very good but also some VERY bad stories, so thought best to try out a travel service…and it turned out perfect!!!
As it was our first ever trip to Africa, Tessa from Jacada Travel suggested South Africa would be a good first step. So South Africa it was!!! From point A to point B, C, D…..Z, they were so meticulous and everything was well organised. The majority of the trip was planned and booked for us according to our budget, requirements and expectations. We received our itinerary and even a personalised guide book before our trip. Impressed? Ooooh yah! Being a bit of perfectionist myself, not only was I impressed with their attention to detail, but my level of excitement went through the roof and I was ECSTATIC!
Aside from the safaris (which I’ll write about in a future blog :)) we spent most of our time in Cape Town. And WOW! Lemme just say, is this a gorgeous place or what?
Everywhere you look, its like something straight out of a painting or a story book. Picturesque, filled with life, vibrant culture, beautiful weather, gorgeous natural wonders, exquisite (and very affordable) food and extremely friendly natives – even with our expectations set so high to begin with, Cape Town just blew us away and we automatically got the feeling “we could totally see ourselves living here one day”!
The must do’s and must see’s:
- Table Mountain– One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World
- Cape of Good Hope
- Wineries (Stellenbousch, Constantia, Franschhoek)
- Hout Bay
- Penguin watching at Boulders Penguin Colony
- Waterfront for shopping and local arts and crafts
- Whale watching in Hermanus – we unfortunately JUST missed it but if you’re keen, the season is June to November.
- Lions Head – mountain with beautiful views of the city and the Atlantic Seaboard
- Robben Island – where the late Nelson Mandela spent 18 out of the 27years he was in prison
As I mentioned, the food was excellent and I don’t think we had one bad meal there – seriously! The food is all made with fresh produce, paired with impeccable wines which were surprisingly incredibly affordable (compared to many other places). BUT be prepared – there’s quite a bit of game meat served at most restaurants, such as willdabeast, ostrich, wart hog and antelope. I personally didn’t partake and felt a bit sad to see them on menus, but apparently its very normal (I guess like beef, pork, and chicken for us?).
My top picks for great food:
- Ellerman House – Western food. Apart from the incredible food and service, the view is amazing.
- Boat House (now known as The Flagship) with the late Michelin Star chef Bruce Robertson. We were so honoured and privileged to have witnessed this culinary genius at work as he took our sensory palettes on a wild excursion through a combination of tastes from Africa all the way to the Far East.
- Tintswalo Atlantic – Gorgeous scenery set right on the rocks of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Buitenverwachting – Western, local food. Beautiful surroundings as it is set in the middle of the winery.
- Harbour House – great fresh seafood right on the V & A waterfront
Where to stay:
Ellerman House is a very unique and special place. A huge mansion with just about 10 rooms where the staff encourage you to treat it like your own home, it’s very different from other hotels, if you could even call it that.
From the moment you step foot into the corridor, you get a warm feeling like you’ve just come “home”. Being so exclusive with only limited rooms, guests aren’t required to lock the room doors and all the staff know you by name. Like a real “House” you can relax wherever you like, whether it’s in the living room, on a balcony, in the library or on the lawn.
And one of my faves…..delicious homemade snacks, pastries and sweets that are prepared fresh everyday and are laid out in the pantry which can be devoured at any time of the day and to your hearts content (I’ll admit I may have helped myself to one too many cookies at times :p). The whole feel and ambience at Ellerman House was warm, intimate and very relaxed.
Tintswalo Atlantic “was” an incredibly beautiful, serene and scenic resort made up of about 10 villas perched on a beautiful isolated rocky beach right at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. I say “was” because in March 2015, I was so shocked and saddened to hear from a girlfriend of mine in South Africa that Tintswalo Atlantic had succumbed to one of Cape Town’s wildest bushfires and was completely destroyed! Since the fire, we have seen that works are underway to rebuild the resort which is great to hear!
Each suite had a different theme and was named after an island in the Atlantic Ocean. Our suite was “Robben” after Robben Island. We had an unobstructed view of the ocean and at night we would sleep to the soothing sound of crashing waves.
I could just keep going on how and why I absolutely fell in love with Cape Town! It is definitely somewhere you just have to visit and take in its beauty in person. Breathtaking and so robust, this city offers something different and special for everyone.