About an hour north of Cape Town, you’ll see a turn-off to the left into the West Coast National Park where a road will lead you to a hidden hamlet on the Langebaan Lagoon. Chattering seabirds swoop over faded fishing … Continue reading
Tucked against the mountains in the Overberg of the Western Cape, Greyton is a perfect weekend getaway that gets you into the country to exercise, relax, and indulge in gorgeous fresh farm food, fabulous wine and craft beer… in whatever … Continue reading
Tourists visiting South Africa usually have the Big 5 on their tick-lists: Probably Cape Town, Kruger National Park, The Garden Route, Johannesburg, Durban. I would be far more specific. If I could only visit 10 places in South Africa – these … Continue reading
I love the no-frills experience of hiking the Otter Trail or camping in Botswana with bucket showers and bush toilets, and I love being pampered at boutique hotels with fine linen and luxury bathrooms.
On the Otter trail, after we hiked for hours, the outdoor showers were cold but invigorating, and we jumped around shrieking and laughing.
In Botswana, we were dusty from our game adventures and the bush shower hooked on the branch of a local Acacia tree was warmly welcoming – thanks to camp staff who heated precious water in kettles over open fires for our comfort.
Then we stayed at a boutique hotel in the Cape winelands. The weather was icy and we just needed to warm up. Unfortunately, the room had stone floors, an ineffectual heater, a bed with a thin duvet, and no hot water. Too many guests, too few geysers. Forget the pillow treats and the view, no hot water is a deal-breaker – We witnessed a procession of unwashed, grumpy guests packing up and moving out.
So what makes a good experience? Its about expectations, but don’t chance it with the hot water.
Overlooking pristine beaches and nature reserves, Plettenberg Bay is the playground of South Africa’s wealthy. It’s also a town of contrasts that has somehow retained a village feel in the face of burgeoning informal settlements and luxury property developments.
Come winter, the town hibernates – boarded up, awaiting the summer migration of upcountry lemmings and international swallows.
It’s the secret green season in the Cape – moody and wet, but with mild weather between the cold fronts. Drive the N2 between Cape Town and Plett and you’ll see a spectacle of wheat and Canola fields, blue cranes, herds and aloes against misty mountains.
But the beaches are deserted, bar intrepid retirees who walk their dogs every day … long invigorating walks. And the nearby forests are magical – dripping green and mossy, brackish water rushing over dank earth.
We stayed at Gemini in Plett – a turquoise shuttered, Cape Cod style house right on Robberg Beach, booked through Perfect Hideaways.
Gemini is the perfect holiday house – beautifully designed and decorated, with great entertainment areas, stylish bedrooms and lots of little luxuries – relaxed and welcoming.
The house is well thought through, from the landscaped indigenous garden with its wooden walkways and hidden boma, to the open plan living area and kitchen with its top of the range appliances, it oozes comfort.
We loved the detail, Philippe Starck taps, the enormous Gaggenau stove, an espresso machine and juicer, a great selection of books, deep comfy sofas and Lloyd Loom chairs. The owners are clearly travellers and avid collectors, and they’ve shared their collection of beautiful artifacts around the house.
If you can raise yourself off the lounger, the beach is a close walk across the road and down a boardwalk through the beach vegetation, and you’ll have miles of sea and sand to explore. For the more adventurous, there’s a hike on the Robberg Peninsula – the views are worth the effort.
The Plett area has endless entertainment, exercise and foodie options. Try walking or biking Harkerville forest, visiting Natures Valley, taking a boat or canoe up the Keurbooms River, or just relaxing over a long lunch at Bramon wine estate or at the Lookout Deck.
For more info about Gemini contact www.perfecthideaways.co.za. Tel: 021 790 0972, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Knysna Festival is around the corner, and for anyone entered into the fun, there is always a mad scramble for accommodation. Last year, as a festival virgin, I entered the 21km run, gathered a motley crew of faithful supporters and planned the pilgrimage.
By a stroke of luck, we found accommodation at the Two Angels (previously Rockery Nook) on Leisure Isle, in full view of the Knysna Heads.
We rented ‘Lovers’ Nook’ cottage, the ‘Oyster Nook’ studio, and a small loft room upstairs. The ‘Nooks’ were both stunning – stylishly decorated and very comfortable with en-suites, kitchenettes and incredible views, but the loft room was a tad basic – no frills but fine for overflow accommodation that you could put your kids into.
Best part of our stay? Hard to choose between the incredible sunsets on the lagoon, waking up to the lapping, rushing sounds of the incoming tide, or early swims and lazy bike rides around Leisure Isle.
Best places to eat? If you’ve had enough of relaxed mojito’s and braai’s at the house, venture out and try champagne and oysters at Sirocco on Thesen Island or breakfast at East Head Café http://www.eastheadcafe.co.za/
And yes, we also ran a race that required us to get up in the middle of the night, queue to catch a thumping taxi into a dark, muddy, freezing forest, just to run all the way back – and it was fabulous fun.
Book accommodation at Two Angels through www.perfecthideaways.co.za. Tel: 021 790 0972, or email: email@example.com
The Cape Town seaside suburb of St James is an anachronism, left over from Cape Town’s colonial past. It reposes elegantly on the False Bay coast, like high tea on a silver service, between the arty, fishing-based community of Kalk Bay and Muizenberg’s cosmopolitan mix of pensioners, surfers and Nigerians.
Arundel, a classic St James holiday house tucked away on the mountainside, offers travellers a gracious refuge from the bustle of holidaying in Cape Town.