If you missed my previous blog of the first few days of our vacation in Cape Town you can read it here! Now let the adventure continue! Onto Day 4….
Day 4: Zip-Lining in Hottentots Nature Reserve /Wine Tasting/Cheetah Reserve Visit
Our morning started out real early. 6am pick up time (in the hotel lobby). I had booked this excursion off of viator.com and I am so happy I did! This was so much better than a great big tour where you feel like you are being herded from place to place.
Now here’s a funny story. I told the valet staff we were waiting on our ride to pick us up for our day excursion. Low and behold, a minute later the valet said: “your shuttle is here” (pointing to this minivan full of people)! So we walked up to the van and the man said: “last name?” We told him and he nodded his head confirming we were on the list. However, while sitting in the shuttle, something seemed off. The driver handed me a waiver form. And as I read through the terms, it mentioned a swimming pool, children’s playground and a safari. I thought “um,what happened to the zip lining, wineries and cheetahs??” I hopped off the shuttle and asked for confirmation from the driver on the itinerary.. And guess what? Yup, wrong bus!! There was another guest with the same last name! Thank goodness we didn’t continue sitting there. That would have led to one huge disappointment!
Tip: ALWAYS double check with your driver before getting on the shuttle bus…or you may have a very different experience.
Moments later (and with crisis averted), Patrick (our true guide for the day), met us with a friendly smile. He whisked us away for an 1 hour drive up to the Hottentot Holland Reserve (up in the mountains).We were off on our new adventure! Just the two of us and Patrick…so much better!
Along the way, Patrick told us about life in Cape Town, its history and how it was to grow up in South Africa. He shared with us he had just started guiding. But we couldn’t tell. He spoke with such great enthusiasm and a sense of comfort, we thought he was guiding for years! Before reaching our destination, we made a brief stop at Peregine Farm Stall, which was an adorable farm stand. We enjoyed a cup of coffee while looking at bakery treats galore and a couple adorable kitties. I tried winning their hearts over but they wouldn’t have it. 🙂 Then we were off to the next stop: the Hottentot Holland Reserve!
We arrived to jaw dropping views. Beautiful green mountains for miles. The zip lining place (Cape Canopy Tour) did not disappoint! We met up with the others in our group, were quickly briefed on safety, then suited up and were off in a 4×4 (driving further into the reserve). To say the road was a bit bumpy is an understatement. But it added to this spectacular adventure! After arriving at our first platform, we quickly were off zipping from one platform to the next – each getting progressively longer – 11 in total (including waterfalls to zip past and suspension bridges to cross)!
Remember when I said best coffee breaks of my life? We did that here! We took a brief pause atop one of the platforms. Our guides surprised us by passing around warm beverages for everyone. As we sipped our coffees high up within the mountains, looking down into the ravines below…all I can say is “absolutely breathtaking”. Unfortunately, the zip lining literally flew by. We finished up with an awesome lunch specially provided by our host Patrick (and yes, Patrick and team made sure we had yummy vegan meals waiting for us!). Luckily the day wasn’t through and our next stop was a winery close by!
We pulled up to Oak Valley Wine Estate – such beautiful grounds (think Gone with the Wind) with a mountainous landscape backdrop. We sat down with Patrick and enjoyed a few wines (with a side of chips of course because that’s the only way to properly taste wines). During our stay, we learned about the family that established the winery and the way they make their wines. We also took a group selfie with Patrick before embarking on our final destination for the day…
Our last and final stop was to Cheetah Outreach. We learned about cheetahs and the very real threats to their extinction, as well as the efforts the outreach and other organizations are taking to protect cheetahs and their habitats. A very eye opening experience for the both of us.
After the Cheetah reserve, it was time for a bittersweet goodbye to Patrick (until the next time Patrick!). Next up was our nightly visit up to the Executive Lounge. Then it was into the dry sauna to watch the sunset. Yes, I said watch the sunset from the sauna. I still dream of that sauna (glassed in – relaxing on the cedar wood) and its sweeping views of the ocean and Cape Town skyline.
Day 5: Visit to Boulder Beach and the Winelands
Our last full day in Cape Town. We started out by experiencing an amazing sunrise viewed from the top floor, glassed infinity pool. It was so warm and relaxing and energized us to start our day. We had a jam packed itinerary!
We headed down in the lobby, ready for our escapades where we found Chris (our guide for the day) waiting for us. He greeted us with a warm smile and handed us a marked up a map of the entire Western Cape. After pointing out all the spots we’d be hitting for the day, we were quickly off!
First stop was Boulder Beach, located in the Cape Peninsula, and home to a colony of African Penguins. Words can’t describe how special the experience is to see the birds paired off, enjoying one another’s company, sun bathing and swimming in the ocean. It was sad learning that due to many man made factors, African Penguins are another species on the endangered list (only 26,000 left, a century ago there were 1.5 million). My heart melted while I stared into the eyes of one of my new found friends. (Side note: Gary and I noticed a pattern of an increasing amount …leaving an ever lasting impression on both of us.)
Continuing on our journey for the day, we made our way up the coast while Chris filled us in on historical facts. We stopped in Fish Hoek and St. James to take in the stunning views of False Bay. While in Fish Hoek, Chris said hello to a few other guides (including and man sitting in a hut looking down at the bay below). Afterwards, Chris said, “that man’s a shark spotter” – in our brains we both thought “oh wow so this guy is great at knowing where sharks are and pointing them out to tourists?” No! Silly us! It’s an actual job (and super cool title)! There is an organization of people that line up and down False Bay to shark spot in an effort for safety, conservation and education. Who knew?!
After taking one last group selfie with Chris along the magnificent coast, we headed up to the Stellenbosch Wine district. Our destination was Cavalli Estate – a winery known for its cuisine, art, architecture, stunning views and of course, wine.
A local recommended the winery to us, explaining they have a talent for creating beautiful food (and happily catered to vegans). Arriving to the estate, we immediately noticed the architecture made quite a statement. There was a giant glass door that led us into the stunning restaurant at the winery, Equus. We were led to a beautiful corner table, which overlooked a garden pond. And behind the pond were gorgeous backdrops (Cape Town to the West and the majestic Helderberg mountain range to the East).
As we relaxed and sipped our wine, we watched resident birds and dragon flies dance with one another while enjoying the plants and flowers around them. Our server (who was a total doppelganger for a young Don Cheadle – had to take a pic with him!) was as sweet as can be. He had the Chef create a special vegan menu. Each course that arrived was more beautiful than the next.
With our bellies satisfied, Chris was ready and waiting at the car. He had one more winery he wanted us to visit before heading home for the day. He was excited to show us the oldest winery in Cape Town, Groot Constantia founded in 1685. It was a beautiful bustling winery with lots of historical charm. After another fun tasting, our incredible day came to a close. We decided to finish strong, and made our way back to our new found favorite Thai place one last time…
It was hard to believe that our time in Cape Town passed by so quickly. But the adventures of Kruger National Park were waiting for us, so we went to bed early that night in anticipation of a very early flight out to Nelspruit.
We could hardly sleep. All we could think about was…..African safari here we come!!! 🙂 Stay tuned for stories from our African safari adventure…