A February 2004 trip
to Cape Town by MichaelJM
Quote: Having spent a few days around the Wine Route and Northern Cape Town, we journeyed towards the Cape of Good Hope. Here we experienced a totally different environment!
Our large en-suite bedroom had a great veranda and large windows giving views in three directions. And what spectacular views we had over False Bay, the valleys of Clovelly, the local golf course, and the surrounding mountains. This was the perfect spot to unwind, enjoy our coffee, and take in the lush scenery that was laid out in front of us. The peacefulness of this place was only broken with the songs of the birds and the excitement of seeing a large plumed bird sauntering down the middle of the road in front of us. Apparently Clovelly has a rich variety of bird life, and the bed and breakfast boasts that over 50 different types of bird have been spotted on the grounds (we did not see that many!).
The separate shower room had shampoo and shower gel and a neat little dressing room that had a hair-dryer and a dressing table. I wouldn’t say that the room was luxurious, but it was more than adequate
Additionally, the lodge provided a private lounge, available to all guests, that was well stocked with tea, coffee, and biscuits. This has access to a first floor sundeck that shares similar views to our bedroom. If you were desperate to avoid the local views, you could sit in and watch TV!
There was a choice of breakfast (cooked, continental, or a healthy alternative). I went for the cooked version (well, I’m a growing lad and need to keep up my energy levels) whereas my wife chose the continental. Both were very well presented and served at the table with an ample supply of tea or coffee. Breakfast was served in a small dining room or an adjacent patio area. We went for the latter – you just can’t beat eating outside when the weather is so good.
Around the front of the building was a garden just rammed solid with interesting plants, splashes of vibrant colour, and a secluded plunge pool. I did relax there a couple of evenings, taking in the absolute peacefulness that prevailed.
Our hosts were fountains of information about local flora and fauna and about the best things to see in the area. Available in the breakfast room and the lounge area were a huge selection of books, and Linda could provide tourist pamphlets for the whole region.
This was a delightful place to stay and was so well situated for exploring Southern Cape Town. If you wanted, they were prepared to provide you with packed lunches for your travels (we didn’t take up this option). It’s a thoroughly laidback environment and highly recommended as a bed and breakfast.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 23, 2004
Cape Town, South Africa
The house is in a quiet area, but the centre of Hout Bay is in easy walking distant. Initially, the guesthouse is a bit off-putting. The restricted car parking facility is at the front of the property and access to the main house is down the side of the house through a locked gate (you ring a bell to be let in). However, the dismal approach to the house is soon forgotten as you enter an extremely pleasant courtyard with an ample swimming pool. In fairness, this is compact, but Lou and Kristian have made best use of this limited space, and strategically placed plants create private seating areas around garden furniture and good quality sun loungers. Different from many establishments, you can be provided with "house" towels for around the pool.
Inside this five-bedroom guesthouse, you will be amazed at the quality of the décor. It is fresh, interesting, and very stylish, and I don’t think they can have spared any expense in "getting it right". Although the decor is clearly to the taste of this young couple, you will not fail to be impressed. Even if it is not to your liking, it will provoke comments and I will guarantee that there will be something to take your eye. I reckon it exudes class.
Our bedroom was a decent size and stylishly decorated with a modern, full en-suite bathroom. Crucially there were tea and coffee-making facilities and plenty of servings for the weary traveller. Interestingly, they have the foresight to provide international plug adapters (this is the only place where this has happened), so we could re-charge the important batteries for the camera, video, and other things. There was a satellite TV with decent reception. The bedroom’s view was a bit restrictive because we only looked out over the courtyard.
Breakfast at Harbour Lodge was plentiful and of excellent quality. The buffet comprised of cereals, croissants, fresh fruit and cheeses, and a cooked breakfast to your specification. There seemed to be no hurry to move you out, and I had the impression that you could order breakfast whenever you wanted. Tea and coffee were there in abundance and the coffee (I normally drink only tea in the morning) was so good that I think I must have had a week’s caffeine in one sitting.
Lou and Kristina (two guys if you haven’t guessed already) were anxious to please and were able to advise on local restaurants and places to visit. They are trying to make a go out of their guesthouse and if our experience is one to go by, they should not fail in their quest.
Good luck chaps and thanks for your wonderful hospitality.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2004
Cape Town, South Africa
Attraction | "Tasting in Cape Town's Suburbs"
The estate, from its height of over 200 metres above sea level, offers wonderful vistas over the Cape Town area. When we visited, the main restaurant was being used for a wedding, and my wife was entranced by the setting, so obviously being enjoyed by the newly married couple. The imposing manor house was the setting for some filming, and although we had to keep away from the actors, it did not restrict our viewing of the building, which is crammed full of period furniture, local artifacts, and artwork.
A fair walk up the hill from the manor house, you can see the 18th century "plunge pool" and stroll on the terraces of the old formal gardens. From up here, you can really appreciate the lushness of the landscape and those distant mountains. You know, the setting was so superb that we nearly forgot to taste the wine! There is a small tasting fee, but you get to keep your glasses. The tasting area was not the best we’d experienced (a bit too large, with no ambience), but Groot Constantia has a good range of wines, and we tried half a dozen.
The chardonnay is always a great starter, and the new French oak used here produces a crisp wine, not over-oaked (even my wife enjoyed it, and she doesn’t usually enjoy a white oaked wine). The Riesling was much too earthy and sweet for me, lacking the elegance that I would wish to associate with this grape (however, this has never been one of my favourites, so perhaps I’m prejudiced). Our favourites are the reds. The Shiraz was all you would expect – a tinge of liquorice on the nose and then a rush of rich, fruity flavours with a slight pepperiness; the shiraz-merlot was a delight to swirl, and the blend of grapes worked to give a ripe and rich complexity on the palate, with a grand aftertaste; my favourite was the pinotage unfiltered (Groot Constantia extols the virtue of unfiltered wine – is this eco-friendly or a chance to hoist the price?), which assaulted the nose with a mixture of the unconventional and then attacked the palate with a concentrated fruitiness and enticed you to "chew on the wine".
I’d recommend Groot Constantia to you as a place to visit – perhaps you can try the restaurant when you’re there and tell me what I missed!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 30, 2004
Cape Town, South Africa 7848
+27 21 794 5128
Attraction | "Penguin Watching"
We explored the small fishing village of Kalk Bay and felt a strange sense of excitement as we watched the steam-train pull away from the picturesque station and continue its coastal journey. The main street is lined with interesting, balconied shops, brightly painted in crisp colours. These are a real delight if you have an interest in antiques or porcelain. "Chinatown" is crammed with thousands of items of chinaware and, at some points, we dare hardly move lest we knock over a display cabinet. You could spend hours in this one emporium eyeing up the Wedgwood and the Minton, the Clarice Cliff and the Royal Doulton. If you’re into porcelain, I defy you to leave this shop without buying something!
Next, we drive through Fish Hoek, basically a seaside village with a small harbour, and continue south to Simon’s Town (named after Simon van der Stel of Groot Constantia fame). This town has an impressive naval harbour, a mass of maritime monuments and a "bucket load" of Victorian and Cape Dutch houses. Then south towards Boulders Beach, where we both wanted to visit, and the Penguin Colony. Apparently, almost 3,000 jackass penguins live here. There are the obligatory souvenir stands – we did pause to look, but although the quality was good, nothing caught our eye.
At the beach, we followed the most popular clockwise route, and on this walk we saw the odd loner penguin. I was prepared to be disappointed as we rounded the corner, but the beach and sea was packed with penguins. I suggest that all manner of society was mirrored here. We saw penguins which appeared to be guarding the perimeter of their village; lovebirds staring transfixed into each other eyes; the homebuilder; the exhibitionists who were propagating in view of their human audience. We saw family protectors who were chasing off the herring gulls that made repeated efforts to steal and heard the aggressive braying call of the lonely male seeking his mate. It’s a call that is hard to associate with these delicate-looking birds, but it was clear at this point why the African Penguin is called the Jackass.
They waddled to the edge of the sea and then hurled themselves into the water or rapidly retraced their steps before they turned hesitantly towards the sea again, pondering their next move. I wonder if the sea was a little too cold for them! We saw them standing on the rocky boulders and swimming gracefully back to the shore – bobbing up and down through the gentle waves of Boulders Beach.
I’d recommend that you also take the quieter, anticlockwise route, as I managed to get much closer to penguins that stood looking defiantly up at me.
Boulders is an absolute treat!
Boulders Beach (Penguin Colony)
4 Boulders Place Simon's Town
Cape Town, South Africa
+27 (21) 786 1758
The drive down the coastline was itself scenic. As we negotiated some of the many tight bends on the narrow lanes leading to the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, we were astonished to see packs of baboons, strolling down the side of the road. Some mothers were carrying their young on their backs (or, more to the point, the babies were hanging on for grim death). Perfect photo call – methinks. However, as soon as I stopped the car, the animals seemed to sense the arrival of the paparazzi, and they rapidly disappeared from view. These baboons were the shy ones, whereas at Cape Point, they are said to be more at home with tourists.
The entrance to the reserve is guarded by the park wardens, who will willingly relieve you of a few Rands for your entrance. The Reserve is renowned for its floral diversity, boasting over 2,500 indigenous plants, its abundance of bird life (over 250 species), and its wealth of mammals. Our first point of call was the reserve’s information centre. This was a fascinating place to start, as a warden was on hand to advise the best route and to show us some of the wildlife that we might expect. There were a variety of exhibits and insects to view under the huge magnification of an electronic microscope.
We meandered leisurely down the narrowest of roads, stopping off to take in the coastal views and check out the plant life. We paused at the monument commemorating Vasco da Gama’s epic 1497 voyage around the Cape, and then we headed in the direction of Cape Point Lighthouse.
It is alleged that the baboons meet at the lighthouse to take advantage of tourists’ handouts. I have to say that we saw a couple, and they seemed totally disinterested in us. Predictably, there are shops and restaurants here, but we ignored them and made our way to the top. My wife took the funicular railway, whereas I decide to take the energetic route and walk. Both of us claim that our route was preferable, but I really did enjoy the exercise and the incredible views that can only be experienced from the footpaths. And the view from the lighthouse is "gob-smacking". It’s difficult to explain the sensation as you overlook the edge of South Africa, consider all the ships that have floundered here, imagine the feelings of the early explorers, and just take in that view. We are standing near to where the oceans meet and currents collide, and the mistiness that now pervades the air is just how I want to remember this experience.
Yes, we did what all tourists do – we had photos taken by the sign declaring that we were at "the most southwestern point of the African continent".
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
Off the M65
Cape Town, South Africa 7975
+27 21 780-9526