When my Manager asked if I had recently visited Cape Town, I was expecting to receive a new South Africa holiday enquiry. Nothing arrived and instead I was delighted to find out that I’d been invited on a week’s educational trip to Cape Town, the Winelands and the Garden Route, a scenic stretch of coast some 300 kms long. I’m a great fan of East Africa but South Africa is always a destination I enjoy returning to. What a perfect antidote to a chilly March in the UK!
As the plane landed in sunny Cape Town, the views from the window filled me with excitement and expectation… I’d forgotten just how beautiful South Africa is, and in particular Cape Town’s gorgeous setting beneath Table Mountain, right on the sea. As we set off on our scenic 30-minute drive to the award-winning Steenberg Hotel in the Constantia Valley, I breathed in the fresh air and luxuriated in the tranquil surroundings, the cold grey weather in England seemed like a distant memory…
Once we arrived at the hotel our bags where whisked away and we were welcomed with a refreshing glass of Methode Cap Classique, a lovely sparkling South African number. This was just the beginning of a week filled with classy wining and dining. Lunch was at the hotel’s delightful BistroSixteen82, a stylish, new restaurant. This was followed by al-fresco wine tasting. I believe we were meant to taste and spit, but that advice was totally ignored as the wines were superb!
After a short rest it was time to get to grips with the Steenberg’s bubbly bar, Gorgeous by Graham Beck. What a treat! We quaffed some delicious sparkling wine and defiantly did no spiting. I fell into a fabulously comfortable bed exhausted… it’s a hard life testing out holiday experiences for our customers!
The following morning we set off on the scenic journey through the mountains to Mont Rochelle Hotel near Franschhoek, the Winelands culinary capital. The setting was breathtaking, the food delicious and the wine cellar expansive. I was amazed to learn how many types of grapes are used to produce the various wines.
- A short flight from Cape Town to took us on to George, in the heart of the Garden Route, and once again the views from the plane were knock-out. South Africa really is spectacularly beautiful.
Another glass of sparkling wine later, I found myself accompanied by a private butler on a guided tour of my enormous suite at The Manor House at Fancourt. What an amazing bathroom! It was the size of my flat in London, complete with huge shower. The golf courses at Fancourt looked so inviting that I wished that I was a golf player! The courses designed by Gary Player, have won various awards and hosts top championships. At dinner, at the La Cantina one of the three informal restaurants on the property, I had locally caught salmon – a must!
Chania trying ostrich riding in Oudtshoorn
In Oudtshoorn, just over the mountain, I tried ostrich steak, the local speciality, it tastes like beef but is less fattening they say, and I also visited the Cango Caves. I recommend doing the ‘Adventure Tour’ where you get to crawl through small spaces and up chimneys, a great day out for a family, however not recommended if you suffer from claustrophobia!
In Knysna the fresh local oysters washed down by sparkling wine was delicious, and I highly recommend the scenic river and lagoon trip by speed boat. Feeding the rescued elephants at the Elephant Park was good fun too… I could happily spend four or five days here – there are a ton of outdoor activities.
This was an amazing trip of re-discovery for me…I felt so touched by the kind and friendly hospitality I experienced in South Africa. The food and service is world-class and I would have loved to have spent more time just soaking up the Cape scenery. I’ve been reminded once again of all the reasons why I love Africa – the scenery, the adventure, people, the food and of course the excellent sparkling wine. Hick!
Fresh oysters in Knysna