Subscribe to our newsletter!
Dine About
20 Jun 2013
 
     

(3) Cape Town as a Tourist: V&A Waterfront Dine About 

Living in Cape Town, I've always used the V&A Waterfront as a quick stop - a meal, groceries, a new shirt. Thus when I was recently invited to a dine-about at three of the Waterfront's top restaurants, I leapt at the opportunity to try something a little different, and a lot more fun...

We started with meze at the Greek Fisherman, moved on to game at City Grill and then had Italian desserts at Meloncino. Granted, this did spread our meal over the better part of two hours, but the extraordinary variety and change in ambiance led to no end of talking points, and it turned into a fascinating way to pass the afternoon, as well as a great reflection on the cosmopolitan nature of the city. It also didn’t hurt to get the stunning Waterfront views from several angles!

If you want a reason to stay even longer, you can cruise around the seaboard on a variety of vessels, fly over it in a helicopter, or go under it at the aquarium. Little ones will love the pirate ship or the scratch patch, and all three of the restaurants we ate at cater for kiddies. Of course, there are shops to suit every interest. I had always wondered why the parking lots have that R10 for 4 hours deal, but now I think it’s time I spent a bit more time at the Waterfront.

Riverside Estates
19 Jun 2013
 
     

(2) Cape Town as a Tourist: Riverside Estates

I seldom venture to Hout Bay, due to my Capetonian dislike for any drive longer than 10 minutes, and so when the opportunity arose to spend a night at Riverside Estates, my curiosity was piqued... and what a gem it turned out to be!

The magic began when we arrived, finding ourselves directly across the road from World of Birds. This forested estate would not have looked out of place in the fabled Cape Winelands. Getting out of the car, we were transported by the chatter of birds in the trees, and all thoughts of the city were left far behind.

Hout Bay itself offers all the perks of a Cape Town holiday, from a renowned weekend market to a multitude of restaurants and little curiosities to poke one’s nose into, and a smorgasbord of oceanic activities. At the same time, Hout Bay is a 20 minute drive from both Newlands and Camps Bay, and the V&A Waterfront is only a smidgen further. 

Riverside Estates has a beautiful wedding venue, along with ample parking on a field so pretty I thought it was there for its scenic value, and the looming mountain really gives it a countryside ambiance. The accommodation is also top notch, and gave me a whole new perspective on Hout Bay.

The Ballinrobe
19 Jun 2013
 
     

(1) Cape Town as a Tourist: The Ballinrobe

Last week I had the opportunity to see Cape Town through the eyes of a tourist; a rare treat for someone who had lived in the city for over a decade.

My first stop was at The Ballinrobe in Sea Point, also owned and managed by South of Africa. I like to think of Sea Point as 'little San Francisco' for its vibrancy, steep hills and spectacular sea views. Of course, nothing is ever easy, and I stood at the gate frantically pulling at a push gate for 5 minutes while my girlfriend stood and laughed. Nonetheless, we made it inside just in time to watch the sun go down, and as anyone who has even been on top of Signal Hill can attest, it was spectacular. We were tempted by the jacuzzi on the balcony, but it is winter, so we flopped out on the couches in our pyjamas instead.

Sea Point makes such a good base for a city holiday - the promenade, Camps Bay, the V&A, and Signal Hill are all a stone's throw away - that we did not spend much time at The Ballinrobe, but the time we spent was fantastic. With Sea Point buzzing 24/7, we felt like we were in the heart of the city, and with the classy decor we felt like Hollywood A-listers... except we had tea instead of champagne :-)

Zen in the bush
18 Jun 2013
 
     

I'm currently committing a horrific injustice. I'm sitting in a Zen garden, frantically sending emails and writing blogs. Someone should whack me on the head with a pot of green tea and confiscate my toys... but seeing as I'm all alone in this utterly tranquil spot, I guess I'll write you guys a blog and worry about my soul later!

I've always thought of Zen gardens as a polarized affair - either in the city, filled with hipsters, or out in serenity, filled with spiritualists. On top of that, I would never have thought that it makes sense to build one in the bushveld, because the bushveld is already tranquil enough. Now that I'm sitting here, however, it all makes sense. The garden at Shangri-La Country Hotel is not an alien landscape of black and white pebbles, but instead a perfect amplification of the area's natural ambiance. The succulents are awash with the buzz of insects, the shade under the trees makes  lovely respite from the baking sun on the rock patches, and the birdsong is slowly lulling me to sleep.

On the far side of the garden, a family of banded mongeese are chasing the vervet monkeys in circles as they battle for supremacy of their four square metres. Perhaps a reminder that life is bigger than you think, and that I should put the laptop away now. Seeing as the squirrel-sized guerilla fighters are nigh-on impossible to capture on camera, you'll have to settle for the sun setting in the garden, while I settle into a siesta.

 – Erik

Roadtrippin' along Route 62
17 Jun 2013
 
     

My girlfriend and I often have an unusual argument when we go on long road trips. You see, we fight over who gets to drive and not over who gets to sleep, as we are both motoring enthusiasts. The upside of this is that we are not shy to add a few extra kilometres to a journey, and we recently did the Cape Town - Joburg drive over one day but diverted along Route 62 for a few hours. As you can see, this turned out to be the best thing we've done this winter!

Route 62 is famous for being a great way to explore the Western Cape, and makes for many, many an interesting stop. However, the multitude of mountains you pass through on the well maintained road makes it a great drive even if you don't intend on stopping. The photo, by the way, is of snow on the mountains outside Montagu. For more reading, check out:

http://www.nightjartravel.com/activities/route-62

 – Erik

Seaside Cottage
12 Jun 2013
 
     

Having been spoilt rotten by our first night's luxury at Abalone House, we felt that we needed to experience the seaside village feeling as well, and moved to Seaside Cottage (also owned and managed by South of Africa). Seaside Cottage holds more true to the theme of a fisherman's cottage, and being self catering you are also isolated from other guests. Although the couch was more than comfortable, the new ambiance inspired us to sample more of the area, so we checked out the Columbine lighthouse and the magnificent rock structures of Tietiesbaai. That evening we snuggled up under all the provided blankets, but I must say that if it had been summer we might have spent the entire day in the pool - look at that view!

Read more:
http://www.nightjartravel.com/accommodation/seaside-cottages

Erik

Abalone House
11 Jun 2013
 
     

Over the weekend, we shot out to Paternoster for a proper break from the buzz of the city. I think my sunset photo posted over the weekend says it all - we had a great time and relaxed completely. Part of the recipe was our stay at Abalone House, owned and managed by South of Africa. The photo you see here is from the cosy guest library and bar area, and there's even a hidden doorway - to the wine cellar, we couldn't resist the mystery! Most of the guest rooms are in private enclaves on the upper level, and the deck outside the rooms has that gorgeous view that I snapped the sunset from. This is the kind of place where you come to spend a weekend in your robe and slippers, enjoying the seaside atmosphere and your luxurious surroundings (5 stars well earned), with the occasional stroll down to the beach. 

Have you spotted it yet? The hidden doorway is behind the bookshelf in the corner :-)  For more info, check:
http://www.nightjartravel.com/accommodation/abalone-house

Erik

Paternoster
7 Jun 2013
 
     

We decided to shoot out to Paternoster for the weekend, to switch off from the buzz of the city for a bit - and there's no better place than a little seaside village for that! As a matter of fact, we were still in 'city mode' when we got to the first 4-way stop into town, and in our rush we almost ran over a young chap who was trying to peddle a flapping live crayfish! Needless to say, we (got a fright and then) had a good chuckle and were instantly transported into holiday mode.

This sunset greeted us from the upper level of Abalone House where we are staying in complete luxury, just what you need to relax! There are some more photos in our Instagram feed, which you can see here:

http://www.nightjartravel.com/magazine/instagram-feed

Erik

One of those days...
5 Jun 2013
 
     

Some days you just don't want to. For me, that day was yesterday - I'd heard so much buzz about how exciting the Robertson Wine Valley would be over the coming weekend with Wacky Wine, and here I was, driving out from Cape Town (180km!) at 7:00am in the middle of the week with nothing but meetings to look forward to. Well, I could not have been more wrong.

By midday I had seen the bath with the best view in the Cape Winelands (if you want to prove me wrong message me!), tasted some supremely distilled grappa, and had the most amazing bacon and olive paté sandwich... and picked up a souvenir! On top of that, all the mountains had recently been dusted with snow, making the scenery simply breathtaking... and the rest of my explorations through the day continued to amaze. To top it all off, I got to drive home watching this sunset. Today I rememebered why I travel!

Erik

Mountain Zebra
15 May 2013
 
     

Proclaimed in 1937, Mountain Zebra National Park in the Eastern Cape is a photographers delight. With grassy plains giving way to mountainous ridges, your photos usually have a stunning backdrop, and there is sufficient game as subjects. If you do decide to make a trip soon, note that the N10 between Cradock and Cookhouse is closed from 12h00 to 16h00 every Tuesday and Thursday for roadworks at the moment.  For more photos, check out our gallery:

http://www.nightjartravel.com/parks/mountain-zebra-national-park

Indaba 2013
13 May 2013
 
     

We've spent the weekend running around Indaba 2013 researching and networking for our destination guide, so we haven't spent much time focussing on anything else, but here and there some things did catch our eye. The first was the suggestion during the opening ceremony that there was going to be a move towards more cooperative tourism between African countries in the coming years. Being keen flyfishermen and game photographers ourselves, this can only mean good things but in general, there are a wealth of opportunities just beyond our borders which are just waiting to be discovered. Also, the Northern Cape just launched a new website which has some amazing photos of the province and great quality information. Speaking of Indaba, how many of you have been? What did you think?

Reitz Roadside on the N3
11 May 2013
 
     

In one of those blink-and-you-missed it moments, yesterday while driving along the N3 we decided to pull off at a boring sign that simply said "Reitz Roadside", and what a fascinating little paradise did we discover! In the yard, giant potbelly pigs roamed, with a piglet or two in tow. We later learnt that they are easily persuaded to roll over for a scratch on the tummy. Turkeys and donkeys rounded off the farmyard experience, along with an extensive collection of artistic metalwork. The stop offers a restaurant, padstal and curio shop, but the whole experience is so unique that it is well worth breaking a long drive here, especially if you're travelling with someone who isn't entertained by the natural beauty of the trip (yes, I'm talking about kids!)

Nightjar Adventurer 2013 Awards evening
9 May 2013
 
     

So the dust has settled, the ocean has calmed and the storm has blown over… until next year. The inaugural Nightjar Adventurer (2013) Awards evening went down brilliantly at the Cape Union Mart Adventure Centre at Canal Walk last night, and I’m pretty sure we had more fun than the Bieber fans on the other side of the city!

Congratulations to the title winner, Richard Kohler (pictured), for a first solo continuous paddle around the coastline of South Africa! We are honoured to have someone of such caliber as the Nightjar Adventurer 2013.

Congratulations also to the Readers’ Favourite, Kai Fitchen, with his sustainability and education focused expedition to climb Mt. Kenya. After his enthusiastic, humble and hilarious recounting of the expedition, it was obvious why the readers loved him.

With Matthew Holt as compere, and Riaan Manser to warm the crowd up, we were already expecting to be entertained, but there were two moments from the winners presentations which still have me chuckling. The first was when Kai Fitchen described their failed attempt to summit Spitzkop in Namibia. With a straight face, he talked about hours on their feet, carrying a grueling 40kgs on their backs, with the local fauna trying to eat them and even a stray rock nearly taking off his head. Finally, he recounted, it was time to accept that they were never going to find the start of the trail!

The second moment is a little harder to put into words, but here goes. As you may know, early on in his adventure, a shark smashed Richard Kohler’s surf ski. Before this happened, Richard said, sharks were far from his mind… but afterwards, he thought about them roughly once every second. Now, with this understandable trepidation in mind, I want you to picture the frantic paddling gestures that Richard reenacted when two dolphins popped up out of nowhere, right next to his surf ski three days after the shark incident!

Thank you to Cape Union Mart for hosting the awesome evening, and for all their involvement in terms of effort and sponsorship. The other prize sponsors really helped elevate the evening, so thanks to Adventure Inc. (importers of Buff, Sea to Summit and lots of awesome stuff) and to @GoPro. Finally, thanks to Leopards Leap for lubricating the party spirit.

If you didn’t make it this year, and have now realized that you missed out (because you did!), do sign up for our ticket giveaway to One&Only Cape Town’s guest speaker series (on the Nightjar Adventurer 2013 Awards page) – you can catch some of the same speakers in action. As for us, well next year can’t come soon enough.

Bain's Kloof
30 Apr 2013
 
     

Bain's Kloof pass - 25km of tiny, twisty tarmac. The road is so narrow and twisty that even driving at 40km/h leaves you feeling like a racecar driver, making it quite the adventure... and like most passes in the area, it is stunningly pretty.  Bain's Kloof, however, has another twist up its sleeve - its dual nature. From the Worcester side, you climb through classic Cape mountains (rocky, steep, with lots of shrubbery), until you suddenly pop over the top and look down onto typical pastoral winelands on the Wellington side.

So take it slow and enjoy the view, you won't get anywhere quickly anyway :-)

Lamberts Bay
29 Apr 2013
 
     

Perhaps a bit mean of me to be posting beach photos on a monday morning... hehe. This was my last stop on the West Coast, and the fishermen amongst us will surely recognise the main beach at Lamberts Bay. I asked the team from Eureka Accommodation where I could get a nice shot of the beach, and they led me into one of their beachfront appartments, which offer serious value for money with a view like this. This quaint seaside village gets surprisingly busy, especially when the snoek are around (as they were last week)... and don't forget Kreeffees! Just beware when the wind blows from the east - it gets seriously hot.

The Sedov
23 Apr 2013
 
     

I went to a friend's farewell last night, and consequently did not get much sleep. So imagine my confusion when, sitting at an outside table at the V&A Waterfront, my girlfriend says to me "I don't mean to alarm you, but there is a giant pirate ship behind you". I thought I'd fallen asleep with my eyes open and started dreaming... but then I turned around, and there she was! As it turns out, she was the STS Sedov, a 92-yr old clipper that is currently in use as a Russian sailing training ship for young naval cadets. She is the largest boat in use for such a purpose, and I can attest to that - easily one of the biggest boats that I have seen docked at the V&A.

The crew were graciously allowing members of the public to board and explore, which I appreciated greatly because there was only one narrow gangway onto the ship, and the poor cadets had quite the time trying to carry crates of carrots, potatoes and the like aboard while camera-clutching enthusiasts milled about in their path. Being onboard was like stepping into another world, with ropes and sails every which way you looked, reminding me of a time long past. I think I'll be watching Pirates of the Carribean tonight!

For more reading, try:

http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/380/92438.html

or hit up old Google - this ship has been around for nearly a century so there's plenty written about her!

Pages

Welcome Message

Nightjar

Welcome to our website. South Africa is awesome and you've come to the right place to help you explore it!

Enjoy the site
Erik