Epic Talks Cape Town

Table Mountain Walks, Wine Sipping, Whale Watching...

Jun 05 2014 Written by:Rob Barbour

Lindy Scholtz and I had the pleasure of travelling to Cape Town following the Indaba Travel Show in Durban, South Africa in May.

The Cape region is a great travel destination at any time of the year due to the spectacular scenery, the variety of the activities, the poignant South African history, the incredible food and wine and contemporary smorgasbord of cultures that have come together on the southern-most tip of Africa.

May is Autumn in southern Africa, an incredibly beautiful time of year with the leaves turning gold, yellow and red, and cool evenings perfect for spending time in front of the fire.

This unique area has always been a significant destination: from the original peoples who found year round water and fodder for their animals and an abundant marine environment, to the European explorers searching for a route to the east.

Today Cape Town is a vibrant city which recognises the attraction it has for foreign visitors, and is a great addition to any itinerary.  It works perfectly at the beginning or end of an African Safari, and you can easily fill 3 – 4 days.

A half or full day Peninsular Tour takes you via the picturesque Chapman’s Peak coastal road along the Atlantic coast to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.  This road enters the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. Several species of mammals can also be seen here including troops of Chacma baboons,  Cape Mountain Zebra, eland and bontebok.  To our surprise we also saw a flock of ostriches walking along the beach.  Coming from East Africa and only seeing ostriches in the savannah, this was a highlight for me.

The other well know bird on the Peninsular Tour is the African Penguin.  Whilst endangered due to breeding habitat destruction, there is a walkway at Simon’s Town on False Bay which allows visitors to walk amongst the penguin nests and observe them entering and exiting the ocean when feeding.

For the more energetic visitors, sections of the peninsular tour can be done on foot or by bicycle.

Simon’s Town is also the base for shark cage diving which offers close encounters with white sharks.  In False Bay the white sharks are renowned for breaching, a method of hunting during which they propel themselves completely out of the water. This can be witnessed from the boat for those who choose not to enter the water.

A trip to the top of Table Mountain is a must-do on any itinerary. You have the choice of cable car or a two-hour walk up a well marked walking trail. The hike can be taken from the city or through the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which themselves are worthy of a visit, and  perhaps a picnic. Another must-do is a half-day visit to Robben Island, the place of Nelson Mandela’s incarceration for 18 years.

I was very interested to meet some of the local people, and on a visit to the Township of Khayelitsha, I met with the wonderful people from the Iliso Care Society who run a feeding program for underprivileged children.

Lindy took some time to learn the basics of Cape Malay cooking in the Malay Quarter of Cape Town.

For accommodation, the Cape Grace Hotel on the V&A Waterfront is situated adjacent to Cape Town Harbour. It is close to an abundance of restaurants, galleries, museums and shops, as well as the Two Oceans Aquarium– all within walking distance.

Ellerman House is situated in the exclusive suburb of Bantry Bay but central enough to get to most points of interest in and around Cape Town with ease.  The secluded environs of the grounds provide an intimacy that can’t be achieved in larger hotels. The view to Robben Island is spectacular, and we were privileged to witness the first glimpses of the annual arrival of the Southern Right Whales from their antarctic feeding grounds, as we had a relaxing cup of tea on the verandah.

From Cape Town, a trip to the wine region is just 45 minutes’ drive to the picturesque towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. South African wines have made a justifiable name for themselves world wide and some of the finer wines are offered in safari lodges and camps throughout Africa.  Most estates offer a combination of wine tastings and meals. For those who want to experience this area in more depth, La Residence and  Delaire Graff Estate are both excellent options. The quality of accommodation and service is world class and worthy of a two-night stay.

Cape Town truly has something for everyone. Together with some wonderful local guides, Epic has all the ingredients to maximise your experience of Africa’s southern tip.