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Exploring Bontebok National Park
8 May 2013
 
     

My Bontebok National Park getaway

Fazielah Williams

My exploratory adventures with South African National Parks continues this chilly season  and if I thought that quad biking along the West Coast in April was thrilling, I clearly had not seen anything yet.

On an educational tour of Bontebok National Park, South Africa’s tiniest park on the outskirts of Swellendam, I discovered why this wonderful reserve is a must-visit for adventure lovers.

Whether you’re ziplining across the Buffeljachts Dam, putting your taste buds to the test at the Barrydale Cellar or trekking through the wilderness for a spot of game viewing, you’re sure to create memorable experiences.

WAKE UP TO NATURE’S CALL

Lang Elsie's Kraal Rest Camp is the ideal accommodation for some rest and relaxation in the Park.

Enjoy a well-deserved break at Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp, on the banks of the Breede River, while listening to the sounds of about 200 species of birds and for some Bontebok-spotting.

EXPERIENCE A ZIPLINING THRILL

Nothing gets your heart racing quite like a ride on a foefie slide across the Buffeljachts Dam.

Photographer Rory Alexander was the only one in our group willing to attempt this exhilarating activity. Considering he went back for a second ride, I’d say he had a great time!

STOP AND SMELL THE LAVENDER

After all of the excitement of the day, we headed out to the Lavender Farm in Swellendam.

In this perfumed wave of colour, it’s all too easy to get carried away by its calming effects while picking fresh lavender or staying overnight in the tranquil guest room.

FINE DINING IN SWELLENDAM

You can tell a lot about a town simply by the taste of its cuisine and if the dishes at the Old Gaol on Church Square and De Vagabond are anything to go by, the people of Swellendam certainly know how to put on a spread!

The tasty food and playground for kids at the Rolandale Restaurant and Farm Stall on the N2 highway make this the ultimate one-stop breakfast stop.

Satisfy your lunchtime hunger pangs at Old Gaol. Indulge in the warm roosterkoek with some apricot jam or bobotie, while the traditional melktert is a must for dessert.

A cosy fire and quirky décor makes De Vagabond a great choice for dinner.  They offer some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, but my personal favourite is the malva pudding with home-made custard.

Visit www.sanparks.org for more information.

Bree Street
25 Apr 2013
 
     

Bree: Cape Town’s hippest street

Hannah Deall (Images courtesy Andrew Brauteseth)

What’s fast becoming known as the hippest street in Cape Town ,Bree Street is where you will find a hive of artisan activity. And if you’re a food lover, there’s plenty to sample here too, from burgers to gourmet pizza, craft beer and cupcakes.

As one of the main arteries of the city, this street is building a reputation as the retail, culinary and design centre of the city.  These are my favourites:

BEAUTIFULL LIFE BUILDING – 70-72 BREE STREET

Home to the Youngblood Arts and Culture development, an initiative that nurtures young artistic talent, this building is an art gallery, as well as a rehearsal and exhibition arena, and also serves as a restaurant, offering delicious food and its own Youngblood wine.

HERITAGE SQUARE – 92 BREE STREET

Dating back to the 1780s, Heritage Square was a bustle of snuff makers, gunsmiths and bakers. Today, it still hosts the oldest vine in the Southern Hemisphere, and offers a shady haven to sip a glass of wine and enjoy an inner city sanctuary.

BARNET FAIR – 98 BREE STREET

A haven for men who deserve a bit of pampering, this old school barber shop caters for the “manscaping” needs of hipsters and businessmen alike. The hot towel shave is considered a standard weekly treat. Bourbon served on the side.

FRAZER PARFUM – 108 BREE STREET

Frazer Parfum is a perfumery making bespoke perfumes from natural and organic raw materials, sourced from around the world. Its ready to wear perfumes are renowned worldwide, and can be found in Harrods in London and Anthropologie in the US.

&UNION – 110 BREE STREET

As the local watering hole in Bree Street, &Union is always buzzing. You can enjoy live, local bands on a Tuesday, intimate wine tastings and plenty of great craft beer. The casual atmosphere is complimented by attentive staff.

LADY CUPCAKE STANDALONE STORE – 120 BREE STREET

Lady Cupcake has confections which will bring you back to childhood, with flavours including “peanut butter and jam” and “death by designer chocolate”. The cupcakes are slightly addictive.

Visit www.breestreet.co.za for more information.

Picnic spots
17 Apr 2013
 
     

My Top Five Picnic Spots in Cape Town

(By Marisah Smith for Cape Town Tourism)

Even the word picnic is loaded with nostalgia; for me it holds memories of homemade frikkadels, chicken drumsticks and large cold drinks enjoyed with friends and family in special places.

Your picnic basket may have changed, as mine has. The frikkadels and drumsticks are from the deli and the chilled drink is more likely to be a local wine. What does remain the same is sharing this time with loved ones, in places that leave me feeling inspired and relaxed.

Here are a few of my favourite picnic spots:

KIRSTENBOSCH NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Old Mutual Summer Sunset Concerts in summer give Capetonians the perfect excuse to pack their picnic baskets and listen to the best local music in exquisite surroundings. (This recommendation has serious kudos after National Geographic Traveller announced Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden as one of its favourite picnic spots in the world in 2011.)

GORDON’S BAY BEACH

Many a childhood summer afternoon was spent on the lawns under the trees at Gordon’s Bay Beach, where kayaks for rent allow a great time out on False Bay.

WINE COUNTRYSIDE

Buitenverwachting Wine Estate in the Constantia Valley offers a delicious picnic in an old-fashioned basket, to be enjoyed under the oak trees.

OUDEKRAAL BEACH

I share this one with some reluctance. One of the city’s best-kept secrets, Oudekraal Beach is a sheltered cove between Camps Bay and Llandudno. White sandy beaches are tucked between large boulders, and there are braai/picnic sites under milkwood trees. An admittance fee is charged at Oudekraal since it is part of Table Mountain National Park.

BOULDERS BEACH

Go early to grab a spot on the beach with your picnic basket. Feeding the African penguins is strictly prohibited but catching a wave with one isn’t – an amazing experience. A conservation fee is charged for admittance.

Discover the Atlantic Ocean
10 Apr 2013
 
     

Cape Town boat rides: discover the Atlantic Ocean with the Ocean Adventurer

Imagine what it would have been like to approach the Cape by boat in the days when nautical travel was the only way around the world. Imagine seeing Table Mountain slowly appearing over the horizon, and as you approach Table Bay, the scenic surroundings of mountain and sea come into focus. It must have been an amazing experience.

Well, these days, there's a lot less untamed wilderness to worry about, and a lot more modern architecture, infrastructure and skyline to see – and yet the natural beauty of Cape Town has not been lost.

That's what makes a boat trip from the harbour such an enjoyable experience – you've got plenty to see and do on the water (and in it, if you don't mind the cold), all the while enjoying some of the best views in the world.

There are plenty of boat and yacht charters that operate from the V&A Waterfront which can be booked ahead or on the day. Or if you are after a real luxury experience, private bookings can also be arranged.

The Ocean Adventurer is a sailing catamaran that offers marine eco-tours of Table Bay and surrounds. Its design makes it very fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

The eco-tours offer focus on the bay’s rich biodiversity. Due to the phenomenon of upwelling, whereby cold ocean currents are carried upwards towards the warmer water near the surface, the water around Table Bay is rich in nutrients which help to sustain a marine ecosystem abundant in wildlife. From the tiniest phytoplankton to the Southern right whale, there's lots to see and learn about!

Our guided tour of Cape Town's coastline included fascinating tidbits about the harbour and some of the ships currently docked there, the architecture of some of Cape Town's most famous landmarks, including the Cape Town Stadium and some of the famous shipwrecks that fell victim to the aptly-named "Cape of Storms". Read more about boat and yacht charters at www.capetown.travel.

Guest Blog by Cape Town Tourism

 

A City Girl’s Road Trip through the Northern Suburbs
3 Apr 2013
 
     

By Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism

Nothing beats grabbing a few pals, hopping into the car and heading out on a gorgeous Capetonian day. Last month, a few of my fabulous co-workers and I, all city girls, took an unexpected sightseeing drive through the Northern Suburbs and made some wonderful discoveries:

DURBANVILLE HILLS:

As far as wine estates go, this one is right up there with the best. From the tasting area to the Eatery restaurant and a view that overlooks the splendid Winelands, the experience is luxurious.

Their daily wine tastings and cheese platters, and the twice daily guided tour of their cellars are not to be missed. Durbanville Hills also hosts fantastic outdoor concerts featuring hot local acts.

Secret tip: The baked veggie crisps sold at the main counter are scrumptious!

CLARA ANNA FONTEIN

Next up on our road trip was the beautiful game reserve, Clara Anna Fontein. Home to blue wildebeest, ostrich and bontebok among others, this sprawling estate has a luxury tented safari camp (perfect for the glampers among you) and exciting game drives.

A highlight was coming up close to a herd of zebra. Who would have guessed you could enjoy an authentic wildlife experience a mere 40 minutes from the city centre?

Fun fact: Movie buffs may recognise the rural huts on the estate from the movies Free Willy 4 and local comedian Leon Schuster’s Schuks Tshabalala's Survival Guide to South Africa.

CHOCOLAT CAFE

Savouring great local wine and bonding with Mother Nature’s finest gave us quite an appetite so a lunchtime stop at the decadent Chocolat Cafe was a must.

This picturesque French-inspired café delights both the aesthetic and culinary palates with breath-taking decor and gourmet food. We feasted on their divine special of the day, a Mediterranean chicken pancake wrap and roasted pot chicken. Chocolat is worth the drive!

Guest Blog by Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town - A surfing mecca
28 Mar 2013
 
     

Cape Town: A surfing mecca

Bill Corcoran (Cape Town Tourism Guest writer)

One of the best things about living in Cape Town is that it feeds my addiction.

Before you start judging me, my habit is surfing, which you'd have to admit doesn't really compare to some of the more self-destructive addictions out there (although I did get a surfboard fin stuck in my forehead once, which was a bit reckless of me). And it seems I'm not the only one who thinks Cape Town is a bit of a surfing mecca.

In July 2012, Australian surf magazine, Stab, placed the Mother City fifth on their list of the 10 best surf cities in the world. There are a number of things that make Cape Town a special surfing destination: it is beautiful and scenic, there's a party atmosphere in the city and no matter the season, there is usually a wave to be found within striking distance of the city centre.

No matter what your level of surfing, there is a wave to suit your standard in the Cape. For long boarders and learners Muizenberg along the False Bay coastline, offers some of the gentlest waves in South Africa, and Big Bay north of the city on the Atlantic Seaboard. Big wave chargers and crazy people will enjoy Dungeons near Hout Bay, while tube riding enthusiasts should head to Llandudno or Kalk Bay.

There are dozens of surf breaks up along the peninsula and further afield – don't forget Elands Bay two hours north of Cape Town on the West Coast. There aren't many places in the world where you can surf along such a varied coastline, so next time you plan a surf holiday, consider Cape Town.

Guest Blog by Cape Town Tourism

Top five breakfast spots in Cape Town
20 Mar 2013
 
     

Top five breakfast spots in Cape Town

(by Fazielah Williams)

True to my mother’s word, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and in Cape Town, I’m always just within driving distance of several establishments that serve up the tastiest meals .

From the rich Eggs Benedict special at Lazari in Vredehoek and lavish spread at the Table Bay Hotel, I’m set to conquer my working or leisure-filled day.

With the great weather we’re having, it’s time to get out there and enjoy the Mother City’s fabulous views so join me at my top 5 breakfast spots:

LAZARI

My personal Sunday morning favourite, Lazari in Vredehoek is a brekkie hotspot any day of the week. If the scrambled eggs and bacon croissant isn’t your thing (really?), try the delicious French toast, fruit and bacon special for only R49.

TABLE BAY HOTEL

Who said breakfast cannot be a fine-dining experience? Drop by the stately Table Bay Hotel’s Atlantic Grill from 06h30 to 11h00 and gorge yourself on its all-you-can eat continental buffet for only R200.

KIMBERLEY HOTEL

Nothing cures a hangover or satisfies extreme morning hunger pangs like the über inexpensive but oh-so-tasty breakfast at the Kimberley Hotel in the Fringe. For R11 (yes, R11), you can indulge in eggs, bacon, toast and tomato.

LOLA’S

Since its glamorous makeover, Lola’s in Long Street has undergone some major foodie changes (it now also caters for meat lovers) but one thing that has not changed is the variety of delectable omelettes with various scrumptious fillings for only R40.

TAMBOERS WINKEL

This deli-cum-coffee shop with a farmhouse kitchen charm in trendy Gardens offers free-range gourmet delights (do try the breakfast frittata, made with roasted vegetables and feta, and served with Italian-style sausage and roasted cherry tomatoes) as well as a great selection of local cheeses, deluxe coffee and free Wi-Fi.

Guest Blog by Cape Town Tourism

48 hours in Cape Town
13 Mar 2013
 
     

48 hours in Cape Town: 5 things to do

Cape Town is not only a great value-for-money destination; it also offers good value for time. Here are five things to do if you have as little as 48 hours in Cape Town. (We really did all these things in 48 hours last week, in between some meetings, so we know they can be done!)

1. Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

Table Mountain, a Wonder of Nature, is Cape Town's most iconic attraction. If the weather is good, you can zip up the Cableway, have a glass of wine overlooking the Twelve Apostles (a series of spectacular mountain outcrops along the Cape Peninsula's Atlantic Seaboard), and be back down, all within 2 to 3 hours.

2. V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is reputedly South Africa's top tourist destination, with millions of people visiting each year. It's a good place to shop, see a movie, eat at a restaurant with a spectacular view, or just hang out.

3. Two Oceans Aquarium

The Two Oceans Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront is a hit with kids and adults alike, and is both an entertainment and educational hub. You can book a dive in the predator exhibit if you're feeling brave, and swim with giant ragged-tooth sharks.

4. The beach

Cape Town's beaches are breathtakingly beautiful. While the beaches along the Atlantic Seaboard (Camps Bay, Clifton, Llandudno and others) are colder to swim at and lovelier to look at, their counterparts  on the other side of the Cape Peninsula,  Muizenberg and Fish Hoek are warmer, more kid-friendly and it's easier to find parking at.

5. City Hall

Built in 1905 from sandstone, the Cape Town City Hall must be the city's most beautiful building. Located in the city centre not far from the country's oldest building, the Castle of Good Hope, it's worth driving past to take a photograph, or if you have time, stop and stroll along the Grand Parade in front of it. 

Guest Blog by Cape Town Tourism

 

2013 Cape Town Carnival
13 Mar 2013
 
     

We are delighted to welcome Cape Town Tourism to our blogging channel.  

If you've ever need information about Cape Town, I am sure you would have encountered their excellent website

- www.capetown.travel 

or seen their Facebook page

www.facebook.com/CapeTown.Travel

They are an essential first stop if you need to know what's buzzing in the mother city right now, and they will be sharing some of their stories with us on a regular basis!

 

The 2013 Cape Town Carnival will celebrate the theme African Legends in the Mother City on Saturday 16 March, 2013. Photo courtesy of Adriaan Fourie

It’s the stuff of legends … one magical night when locals and visitors come together to celebrate their vibrant diversity by marching to the beat of drums, wearing fantastical and colourful costumes, and enjoying world-class entertainment.

The popular Cape Town Carnival, which has delighted spectators since 2010, will once again fill the Mother City's Fan Walk with vivid colour and boisterous energy on Saturday 16 March, 2013.

This year’s theme is African Legends, which celebrates our rich cultural heritage, including the legends of the Cape, South Africa and Africa. You can be sure that not only will this theme be honoured, but it will be done so in spectacular fashion by the Carnival performers.

Memories of last year’s sexy firemen, buxom showgirls and African Queens still linger … so what can we expect from the 2013 Carnival?

“The public can look forward to the city being brought to life by a parade of our legendary floats, including Van Hunks smoking on Table Mountain, the Flying Dutchman in full sail, the colourful Namaqualand daisies, the ancient Khoisan legend of the mantis and the moon, the spectacular Queen of Sheba, and fierce Nyami Nyami, the Spirit of the Zambezi,” says Brad Baard, the carnival's creative director.

Float-builders and costume designers have toiled for long, hard months, working on the flamboyant attires while performers have been mastering their energetic dance acts for the fourth annual Cape Town Carnival, funded by the City of Cape Town, the National Department of Arts and Culture, DStv, the Western Cape government, Media24 and Good Hope FM.

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