Nicky Thornton from Oasis Travel in Lisburn visits the Cape West Coast & Winelands of South Africa with Travel2.
If you are planning a week-long break, it’s tempting to stick with destinations close to home but, as I discovered recently, you can pack an awful lot of South Africa into seven amazing days! The fully escorted week-long Travel2 Cape West Coast & Winelands trip is a truly fantastic vacation, and a perfect introduction to the delights of South Africa, but this great programme can also be combined within a longer stay.
Ok so it is a long way to go but, to my mind, it’s worth every moment to reach such a glorious destination … and I have seen for myself why so many travellers visit South Africa again and again, to explore and enjoy this diverse region.
The flight from London to Johannesburg takes around eleven hours, after which I connected with a two hour flight onward to Cape Town. It’s admittedly a lot of travel, but I found economy class with South Africa Airways more than comfortable and the thrill of landing at the tip of the mighty African continent, just where the waters of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet on the dramatic shores of South Africa’s Western Cape, is surely unequalled.
Cape Town, with its backdrop of the majestic Table Mountain, is without doubt, a truly spectacular city and a culturally creative melting pot of vibrant cultures.
Our first hotel was the African Pride On Orange whose stunning location overlooks Table Mountain. This modern hotel is well situated in a bustling location packed with cool bars and eateries. By way of contrast we also checked out (and had a great lunch in!) the iconic beachfront Winchester Mansions Hotel at Sea Point where original Cape Dutch architecture has combined with truly elegant hospitality to form the hotel’s unique classic elegance signature.
After an all too brief tour of Cape Town and the magnificent Cape Peninsula with its fabulously quaint villages and harbours with magnificent views to sea we enjoyed a breathtakingly beautiful coastal drive to Boulders Beach where we can face to face with penguins. If you’ve never got up close and personal with a penguin you simply haven’t lived. These wonderful birds are the cutest, most attractive wildlife I have ever seen on holiday and having the chance to see them at close quarters brought out my inner David Attenborough.
Tearing myself away was hard, but a stay at the glorious Twelve Apostles Hotel (yes you guessed it: more stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean) eased the pain of parting. The hotel offers luxury, passionate service, and exquisite cuisine.
South African vineyards were the next attraction, with the opportunity to stop and sample at two influential wine estates reinforcing my fast-growing admiration of the region’s fabulous produce. Overnighting at The Spier Hotel close to Stellenbosch provided another opportunity to revel in fabulous cuisine and enjoy still more amazing wines. The hotel which is set in its own beautiful and extensive grounds boasts its own farm and guests are treated to a unique farm to table gastronomic experience. We checked out the town centre Harbour House Hotel where guests are offered a choice of accommodation from the historical architecture of the thatched roof seaside Manor House built in 1920, to the contemporary New Wing and Harbour Square – each option excellent in its own style.
That night we stayed in The Marine Hotel, perched on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay. The Marine has 42 individually styled bedrooms and suites with fabulous sea views (apparently on occasion you can spot whales!) and the Overberg Mountains. Wonderful cuisine with full wow factor completes the ‘we-have-it-all’ package.
Sadly it was time to travel back to Johannesburg and prepare for our return, but not before an overnight stay at the lovely Protea Hotel Fire and Ice Hotel in a gated area of the city. We took a half day guided tour of this fascinating and historic city before leaving the sunshine and vivacity of South Africa and heading home
I would definitely recommend Cape Town and the Winelands as the most beautiful country that I have ever been to … I’ll definitely return some day, adding a safari (and more time!) to the itinerary.
Feel free to drop by if you’re passing Lisburn, or call me at the office if any of you’d like to hear more.