We stumbled upon this place when we took a wrong turn on a walk back from the funky shops on Kloof Street and ended up walking down Bree Street. A poster said there was jazz at 11 Breee Street that night so later we walked back and went up the long stairs. At the top we paid about £7 and entered a room that was decked out with a stage, fairy lights, candles and plastic chairs and tables dotted around. A small hatch in the side was the bar and we settled down for the show to start not knowing what to expect. What we got was Mike Rossi, one of the most amazing jazz saxophinists I've ever seen. The music was amazing and his sets were interspersed with Xhosa indigenous music from local musicians. Despite the horrific house wine (which was a surprise in South Africa) the evening was very special and rich. Highly, highly recommended
Lekkerwijn is a gorgeous B&B near Franschoek, less than one hour from Cape Town. It is very family friendly with a small swimming pool, playroom, lot of animals and baby-sitting options. The house used to be a family home and is a stunning example of Cape Dutch architecture with original furniture; the bedrooms are huge and light. Franschoek is a short drive away, but you can walk to a couple of wineries that are close by (Allee Bleue and Solms-Delta), both of which have excellent wines available for tasting as well as delicious lunchesor pic-nics. The owners (Simon, Ross and little Alexander) are very welcoming and friendly, and full of good suggestions. This place pretty much made our holiday!
My favourite Christmas was spent in Nature's Valley on the Garden Route in South Africa – a wild and remote area tucked between the Tsitsikamma Mountains and the rolling blue Indian Ocean. In South Africa, Christmas is mainly celebrated on Christmas eve and it's a very laidback, low-key affair. I stayed in a homely, rustic backpackers called Wild Spirit, where dinner was eaten together in a log cabin overlooking the native forest below, followed by a few ice-cold Black Labels round the camp fire. On Christmas day, myself and some of the other guests hiked part of the famous Otter Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park, then drove to Jeffrey's Bay for the surf and parties. Of course, you can always add in the highest bungee in the world! It doesn't get much better than this.
This small gem of a beach is much loved by locals, both human and penguin. Situated within a sanctuary for 3000 African Jackass penguins, the crescent of white sand is backed by dense vegetation in which the penguins nest. The sheltered bay is surrounded by huge boulders on which children love to climb and leap into the sea. Penguin couples waddle down the beach to cool off in the water and seem happy to swim among excited children, posing for photographs or playing Pied Piper as they lead curious kids into the rock crevices to explore. A fantastic family day out is on offer including a visit to the penguin breeding sanctuary or a delicious lunch at the restaurant adjacent to the free parking area where local traders sell African artifacts. An entrance fee to the beach is charged (about 50p) which helps fund the penguin conservation.
Boulders Beach, about 45 minutes drive from Cape Town, close to Simonstown.
Google map: bit.ly/ubjLTM
Nestled in the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park - a marine reserve and world heritage site since 1999.
Endless beaches with massive sand dunes fringed by a dense coastal forest.
My favourite place is to the left of the lighthouse, just to sit and watch the southern right and humpback whales breach as they makes their journey up and down along the coast of Africa. Watching the sun set with a beer in hand is another way of celebrating the area's natural beauty, peace and quiet.
The rock pools have great nudibranchs and loads of tropical fish juveniles - great for snorkelling.
Between November and February you can see turtles laying eggs and the babies hatching (leatherbacks, loggerheads amongst the species).
You can also watch dolphins on their daily feeding route along the coast.
What more can I say? It has to be seen to be believed :)
Boulders is home to the adorable yet bizarre African 'Jackass' penguin. Just a walk down the road from Simonstown, near Cape Town, Boulders is wonderful for picnicing, surfing and building sandcastles. I first visited this bay when I was about eight years old with my family and some friends. It was nice to be so at-one with nature, yet still have a family holiday. The boulders the beach is named after are also great fun for climbing and jumping off into the warm ocean. The only thing I would be wary of is checking around your car before you leave, just incase one of the penguins has fallen asleep in the shade!
The Cango Caves are a huge system of beautifully formed limestone caves that are perfect for an adventure. There are two types of tours that run. A standard tour, lasting an hour, that takes you all over. The other is an adventure tour that lasts ninety minutes where you climb through the system and its natural slides, the 'chimney' and the drum room. It's the best day out I've ever had and great for all the family. Not only will you learn, but you'll have a really fun time.
The Biodiversity garden is a precious, new jewel in the botanical crown of the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is the smallest and hottest of biodiversity hotspots worldwide.
The Green Point Urban Park in Cape Town is oh-so-accessible, sandwiched between Signal Hill, the oldest lighthouse in South Africa, and the iconic football stadium of World Cup 2010 fame.
Set within this, the Biodiversity Garden celebrates all that is unique about the Cape and its flora, where wanderers are shown the interconnectedness of life and encouraged to 'Make a Difference'.
What’s not to love about this appeal? Perfect for a sunset amble or a morning wake up wander. Big enough to seriously stride around the large circular lawn area, pound the running paths, work out at the trim park or just meander along the wetland walk, among the more 300 local fynbos plant species.
Why the Biodiversity Garden works for me?
The garden is truly laid out ‘for all’ – ages, activities, levels of botanical interest as much as physical mobility …
The signs are crafted to casually inform, the storyboards are easy reads, the plants labels let everyone ‘get the picture’- effortlessly …
So much thought has gone into how the biodiversity message gets across – they ‘show’ things, and ‘tell’ stories, rather than facts …
Botanic biomes and endemic rarities are seamlessly woven into ‘demonstration gardens’, alongside responsible gardening practices …
Threats, like agriculture and alien invasive plants, are dealt with in bite size pieces, and drill down consequences …
Kirstenbosch Gardens, in Cape Town, lies at the foot of Table Mountain. Guinea fowl roam free, plants and trees are well labeled and there is a mix of ponds, streams, lawns and walkways. These walkways are paved so the walking is easy and there are free daily walking tours at 10am as well as two hikes up Table Mountain for the more serious walker.
In summer open air concerts take place on Sunday evenings (Nov – April). These are family friendly events with people getting there early with a picnic basket and blanket and making themselves comfortable on the grass. Few experiences can match sipping on good South African wine, listening to South African music and having Table Mountain as the backdrop for all of this.
Wynberg NU (2), Cape Town 7800, South Africa
+27 21 799 8783
Google map: bit.ly/jYHMd4
After a great day in the Addo Elephant National Park the owners of Lemon3Lodge took us on a private township tour to the cooking project for 400 kids.
The owners coordinate this feeding scheme by receiving donations for guests of the Lemon3lodge.
It was awesome to see how a little donation can save and affect the lives of 400 children.
And of course, we stayed three nights at Lemon3lodge. Beautiful rooms, great swimming pool, garden and views. Perfect hosts.
Covering 36 hectares, Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens is situated in Cape Town, South Africa at the foot of the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
A well known exhibitor at Chelsea Flower show, displaying the floral diversity found in southern Africa, this natural paradise offers a comprehensive taste of the Cape's flora and fauna.
Enjoyed by locals walking their dogs and tourists alike, often seen picnicking on the manicured lawns which lead to ponds frequented by bird life, an afternoon can be had in the warmth of the sunshine and peaceful sound of Cape reeds moving in the breeze, perhaps only marginally dogged by inquisitive and noisy guineafowl.
Permanent Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe are positioned around the grounds while organised events including changing art exhibitions showcasing contemporary, local talent and botanical drawings can be viewed and purchased. During the year bonzai and orchid workshops are held as well as summer concerts in the warm evenings under starry, African skies.
Craft markets provide outlets for local communities to showcase their work while the deli and restaurant offer local specialities and champagne breakfasts. The ever popular tearoom refreshes hikers with cups of rooibos tea and tasty cakes.
Ancient cycads are housed in their own protective amphitheatre while rockeries and streams provide interest for youngsters. The shady camphor avenue offers some respite from the heat of the day and if you are lucky, the sighting of owls, almost hidden in the upper branches. This is near the conservatory, home to southern African succulents and cacti, the majestic baobab, the smaller kokerboom and rock plants.
Paths for children, the blind (sensory trail) and wheelchair users are all catered for while longer trails radiate into uncultivated areas and the surrounding Table Mountain National Park. These surrounding routes, enjoyed by dedicated walkers follow in the footsteps of historical figures such as General Smuts, leading to native silver trees which shimmer in the sunlight and the location of van Riebeeck's hedge on the slopes of the mountain - the Dutch national credited with establishing a refreshment station for seafarers at the tip of Africa in the1650s. Here the occasional mountain tortoise can be spotted ambling along on the hot, dusty sand.
Energetic visitors can walk past beds of ericas and proteas to embark on a winding route up Nursery Ravine to Castle Rock, the imposing stone hunk above the gardens and admire the vegetation or fynbos, as it is called, from above. You might be lucky to spot a disa orchid, indigenous frogs or just admire the sunbirds and sugarbirds darting around dipping their long beaks into nectar rich blooms.
The Neighbourhood Goods Market is Cape Town’s answer to Borough Market. It is housed in an old Victorian Warehouse at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. This trendy, bustling market has over 100 speciality traders and one can find anything from cupcakes to chutneys, beers, organic local wine and beer, biltong, various mushroom varieties, pastries, meat, vegetables, bread (sold out of an open trailer) and, and, and ... Grab a coffee and sit on one of the long tables that are set up down the centre to soak up the atmosphere. It does get busy so best to get there early.
Saturdays 9am - 2pm.
Goudini is a self-catering resort based around three oudoor thermally heated swimming pools (each one is a different temperature) and one indoor pool. The main pool also has a super tube. There are various accommodation options including four bed rondavels with brai (bbq) facilities as well as duplex flats. Other facilities include trampolines, putting, volleyball, hiking trails and a games arcade. It's a great family resort and with such lovely mountain surroundings and beautiful warm pools you will never want to leave! If you can tear yourself away for a day visit the malaria free Fairy Glen Private Game Reserve or visit a few wine estates.
Located one hour from Capetown on the Route 62 wine route,then off the N1 just North of Paarl.
Wyzersdrift Road, Rawsonville, 6845, Capetown SA
Google map: bit.ly/e6swvf
Excellent museum which takes you through the history of apartheid and obviously has a happy ending (although there is still so much to do).
There are very detailed notes to read looking at the subject from a variety of angles, but if you don't want the detail there is a more concise version. There is also a lot of contemporary video footage to go alongside the other material.
If you are going to give it your full attention you could spend easily more than half a day and I would recommend doing so.
It is a very moving experience - it took us quite a while to recover.
This is a community owned safari lodge in a "big five" reserve, which was created from former farmland and opened in 1991. The game were transferred from other locations around southern Africa.
It is staffed and managed by the community and they benefit directly from the profits. You can go on a visit to the village.
The staff are very friendly and attentive and the accommodation is beautiful, spacious and comfortable. It's an absolute treat.
The lodge is in an elevated position and the views over the reserve are stunning.
The game drives were excellent during our stay (July 2010), we saw a vast amount and variety of game in three days.
I would recommend this to anyone who wants the safari experience with a clear conscience!
Cinsta is a small town stop along the coastal route of South Africa heading towards Durban. This place, and the warm and friendly people at the Bucanneers Backpackers, was a true highlight of a stay a few years ago. Wide expansive views of the beach from the room at Bucanneers, many kilometres of unspoit white sandy shoreline and the most serene and idylic sunrise and sunsets are just some of the reasons why this place is a must see. Away from the hustle, noise and bustle of the more urban beachfront attractions, like Jeffrey's Bay, or other stops on the Garden Route. A place that is genuinely off the beaten track, as many I think would drive on towards Durban or the Drakensberg. If you are looking for a place to hang out, chill, walk, hike, read, swim, surf, but without the tourist commercial bubble, then this is it. Some amazing beach photgraphy to be done, and breathtaking early and late horizon gazing. Happy Memories.
PO Box 13092, Vincent, 5217, East London, Cintsa
To be found two hours on from East London in the Eastern Cape by car. If you are a newbie traveller and taking the Baz Bus, the bus will stop there!
+27 (0)43 734 3012
Google map: tinyurl.com/2uynhe3
This public outdoor swimming pool complex is set below a raised promenade off Beach Road in Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa. Situated between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean it comprises an Olympic sized, filtered seawater pool, two splash pools and a diving pool.
Above and alongside the sea, the spray from breaking waves that occasionally land over the boundary railing reminded us of our location, at the southern end of the African continent.
The sound of seagulls overhead, the visual pleasure of seemingly limitless open ocean as you cool off on a hot Cape summer's day and the imposing yet restful backdrop of Table Mountain make this outdoor pool quite special.
The aromas from BBQs on the adjacent grassed area encourage locals and tourists from all walks of life and is the ideal spot to relax after a refreshing dip beneath blue skies.
Whatever your swimming level it is an affordable day out and costs adults around R9,50 while children pay R6,00. Die-hard swimmers meet in the winter months as it is open all year round from mid-April to mid-October (08:30 -17:00) and in the more popular summer season from mid-October to mid-April (07:00 -19:00) when swimming just prior to sunset and the onset of the evening precede a lazy stroll along the paved coastal path, ice-cream in hand.
Sea Point Pavilion, Cape Town
Address: Beach Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: (+ 27) 021 434 3341
Google map: tinyurl.com/32momns
Shamwari is a private game reserve approximately an hour's drive east of Port Elizabeth. During my stay I was fortunate to see all of the Big Five which was a real privilege. The safari guides were fantastic, very knowledgable and friendly. The accommodation superb.
After the late afternoon game drive, which normally finishes just after sundown, you will be served an evening meal that will definiately impress and be a talking point. Cooking on the barbeque, or brie as the South African's call it, will be a choice of meats including warthog and kuku!
At meal times you eat with your guide and the other guests that will share your vehicle giving you a great opportunity to get to know each other. This reals helps everyone to bond and enjoy a shared experience together.
Nearest airport is Port Elizabeth.
Best way to get there is to rent a car. Alternatively, Shamwari can arrange for you to be collected from PE airport, or your hotel.
Lovely pizzas and friendly staff, on a well-patrolled street of secondhand bookshops and thrift stores - a rarity in the city. Cash only, so bring some with you, or go to the ATM up the street.
7th Avenue, Melville 2196, South Africa
011 726 2614
Google map: tinyurl.com/39epy4x
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