South Africa: Cape Town, Tswalu Kalahari & The Winelands

Loreto and Stacy Julian

13 Jun 2017

Celebrating in South Africa

South Africa is a long way from Seattle so when my wife and I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday as well as our wedding anniversary, it was important for us to have the best trip we could possibly have. Our stops in Cape Town, Tswalu Kalahari and The Winelands certainly delivered. A special thanks to our Destination Specialist, Harriet, for organizing a well-orchestrated holiday. One that we’ll never forget!

CAPE TOWN

After about 24 hours of flying time and an overnight stay in Dubai, we finally arrived at our destination in Cape Town and our adventure began. The Cape Grace Hotel was the perfect location to be introduced to Cape Town and South Africa, and would be our hub in between our stops to Tswalu and The Winelands. The location on the waterfront made it easy to get a glimpse of the city and its surrounding areas, and the staff at Cape Grace were very hospitable and welcomed us with open arms. Although our stay was brief in Cape Town, the warm sunny days, blue skies and a backdrop of Table Mountain that overlooked our hotel and the waterfront area made for spectacular vistas. During the days we would wander about the waterfront area and in the evening dining at upcoming and established restaurants like Harbour House, Nobu and The Pot Luck Club. 

My wife and I are quite fond of penguins and doing the Cape Peninsula Tour and spending time with the penguins at Boulder’s Beach was certainly the highlight in Cape Town. 

We enjoyed our time in Cape Town but quickly realized we did not spend enough time there and look forward to visiting this fabulous city again someday.

TSWALU KALAHARI

Spending a couple of days in Cape Town helped my wife and I adjust to the time zone and after an early morning pick-up from the hotel and a quick 2-hour flight, we finally arrived at Tswalu. After deplaning, we were greeted by our guide for the week, Sian, and after about a thirty- minute drive through the reserve we arrived at our accommodations at The Motse. Before the afternoon drive we settled into our legae, met the staff, had brunch and had a few hours to relax. During the 4 days at Tswalu we spent each day going on early morning drives that started at 06:30 followed by a few hours back at The Motse where we could have lunch or brunch, a spa treatment, naps or just a few hours to relax. At 15:30 we would go for an afternoon drive for a few hours and then back to The Motse for dinner and rest at our legae in preparation for the next day’s adventure.

The time spent on the drives through the reserve was absolutely fantastic. The vistas were breathtaking especially in the early morning with the sun rising with its golden light and the moon in the blue sky. 

The evening vistas were just as spectacular with sunsets of bright orange and red. With Tswalu being a private reserve, the amount of people traffic is very minimal as they will only accommodate 30 guests a day. On our particular stay there were only 12 guests and the isolation on the drives truly made it feel exclusive. The abundant and varied wildlife which we came to see didn’t disappoint. A couple of the highlights were the lion cubs that slowly approached our vehicle in all its curiosity. Occasionally “hiding” behind blades of grass to observe us. My wife’s favorite were the giraffes and on our first evening drive we came upon one that was basked in the evening light in a regal pose.

Tswalu offered other amenities and we took advantage of an onsite spa with the both of us having a couple of massages. It was a great way to relax between our drives and work out some of the kinks from traveling so far. We also spent the night in The Malori. Located on the top of a dune it offered incredible views of the landscape with an evening sunset and morning sunrise.

While our chef, Prince, prepared a wonderful dinner, we enjoyed South African sparkling wine next to a fire taking in the views and sounds of the birds and other wildlife. 

THE WINELANDS: FRANSCHHOEK

The last part of our trip was a stay in The Winelands and in particular the town of Franschhoek. Our home for the last 4 nights was the Leeu House located in the middle of town, close to shops and restaurants. Like the other accommodations on our trip, the property and staff were incredible and really made us feel welcomed. My wife and I are wine lovers with a modest size wine cellar and spending time in The Winelands was a good way to cap a wonderful holiday. Franschhoek has a network of buses and a tram that allows for easy access to the many wine farms in the area. We took advantage of this and visited many wine farms to enjoy some of the fabulous wine that South Africa is known for. For the Stellenbosch area, we did a private tour and explored other wine farms we wanted to visit as well as others with which we were less familiar. 

In the end, we purchased three cases of wine. So, yeah, we obviously enjoyed the wine. 

Our favorite wine farms we visited not only for their wine but also for the atmosphere and property were Mullineaux & Leeu Family Wines, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Rickety Bridge, Tokara and Alto. On our last day in Franschhoek and South Africa, we visited the Franschhoek Motor Museum. The museum has a collection of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and various memorabilia collected by Anthonij Rupert and housed in four buildings. 

The collection we viewed were just a sampling of a rotating collection and is a must see when visiting Franschhoek.

Our ride back to the airport in Cape Town was in the late afternoon and It was a good way to end our trip as we watched the sun set over Table Mountain.

As we have become accustomed to on our holiday, the sunset was in spectacular form and punctuated with our driver saying, 'Cape Town is putting on a show for you this evening!'

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Comments

Stacy Cannon

19/6/2017 3:15 AM

We had such a great time! Thank you for your help in coordinating our wonderful excursion, Harriet!

Harriet

13/6/2017 4:18 PM

Such a great write up! I am so pleased you had such a fantastic time in this beautiful country!

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