I’m excited to share our amazing trip to South Africa with Natural World Safaris. The trip had four distinct locations so I’m breaking it down into several posts. Today’s post is filled with the details of our three days in the very cosmopolitan Cape Town. You can see the posts my Packing List for Cape Town and what I wore in Cape Town.
Natural World Safaris hosted us and planned our entire itinerary for our South African adventure. As someone who loves to research and plan, I have to say this could not have been a more perfectly planned a trip! Best of all, I didn’t have to do a thing! This, my friends, is the ultimate vacation for the planner in your home.
Day One: One and Only Cape Town and the V & A Waterfront We flew Qatar Airways from Dallas to Doha and then on to Cape Town, South Africa. We timed the flights to land in the morning so we had a full day in Cape Town. We checked in to the beautiful One and Only Cape Town. Before our trip, I had written a post in honor of our 24th wedding anniversary titled the “24 Things About Us” and Carina, who planned our trip read the post and arranged for each of our hotels to greet us with our favorite margaritas! Now that is attention to detail!
We were upgraded to a One Bedroom Grand Marina Suite overlooking Table Mountain when we checked into the One and Only. Can you believe the staff had a framed photo of us waiting upon arrival? Such a special treat and what a great way to celebrate our anniversary! I love traveling with travel companies who are able to secure upgrades when available. Our gorgeous suite had the iconic view of Table Mountain. It was such a beautiful sight to wake up to in the morning.
We spent the balance of this day touring the V & A Waterfront, visiting the Watershed crafts market, V&A Food Market and enjoying the peaceful pool on Spa Island at the One in Only Cape Town. The V&A Waterfront is filled with local shops and restaurants. We were able to grab a light lunch at the Food Market.
Before dinner that evening we were treated to a wine tasting at the One and Only Wine Loft with Pearl Oliver, one of the top Sommeliers in South Africa. She was incredibly knowledgeable and easily shared her knowledge. Did you know that even though South African sparkling wine is grown with the same grapes as French Champagne and the French told them they could not call it champagne? Instead, they call it MCC: Methode Cap Classique. So when you go to South Africa and want to sound like you know your South African sparkling wine order a glass of MCC!
Next was on to dinner at Rueben’s at the One and Only. Chef Chris Mare sent out his signature appetizer, Stuffed Baby Calamari. It was so good we had to order another one! The food and service here are outstanding. We returned to the room with rose petals everywhere and a heart with 24. So sweet!
Day Two: Table Mountain, Bo-Kaap, Twelve Apostles from Camps Bay Beach and Cape Grace Hotel The tour guide Natural World Safaris arranged for us arrived first thing in the morning, and we were off to explore Cape Town. First order of the day was to explore Table Mountain. Table Mountain is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. We rode the cable car to the top and spent about two hours enjoying the incredible views and hiking trails. There is a trail from the bottom that goes up the mountain to one side. I wish we had had time to do that!
Next we visited the Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town. This historic neighborhood was originally the Malay District. It is filled with colorful homes that first represented their originality but then were painted to represent freedom from apartheid. Our guide was so very knowledgeable about the history of his country and readily shared so many amazing stories and facts with us. South Africa has a very complicated political history and we learned so much from him!
Our final stop for the day was Camps Bay Beach. Here we were able to take in the beauty of this popular and beautiful beach as well as the views of the stunning Twelve Apostles, named after Jesus’ apostles but there are actually more like 17 or 18 peaks.
That afternoon we checked in to the beautiful Cape Grace Hotel, located on the V & A Waterfront. Designed to feel like a ship on the water, this hotel has a beautiful details created by local artisans and craftsmen. There are incredible hand painted murals throughout the hotel that tell the story of Cape Town, as well as hand-painted silk draperies throughout.
All the chandeliers were created by local craftsmen who were originally trained in iron work to complete this project but then were skilled and had the ability to have viable careers using what they had learned. The chandeliers are embellished to look as if they were lifted from a shipwreck and filled with beautiful crystal and china treasures. They are all so unique. Along the hallways are also glass turines filled with antique treasures.
Our Rooftop Terrace Suite overlooked the marina and had a charming balcony where we enjoyed champagne and watched the sunset over the marina and Table Mountain. Another surprising and wonderful upgrade because of Natural World Safaris. They also have two and three-bedroom suites which would be ideal for traveling with friends or family. Our girls would love this hotel!
We were treated to a South African wine orientation in the signal bar with sommelier Alvezo. He presented several South African wines and helped us to learn their characteristics and styles. Including, of course, my favorite, MCC!
After this, we enjoyed dinner in the Signal Restaurant. They of course greeted us with our favorite margaritas! Natural World Safaris personalized touches were everywhere! Scott went with the chefs suggestion of Springbok which is a popular South African dish. I had a local whitefish. Both were excellent!
Day Three: Cape Town Flats, False Bay, Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, Penguins at Boulders Beach, Chapmans Peak Bay and Ellerman House Hotel After completely sleeping through our alarm (Hello, Jetlag!), we spent another beautiful day touring Cape Town. We drove through the Cape Flats which is the beautiful valley at the foot of Table Mountain and includes beautiful residential areas. One of the neighborhoods we drove through was filled with incredible estates with amazing views of Table Mountain, Devils Peak and Lions Head, which form a dramatic backdrop for Cape Town. On our way to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, we stopped briefly at an ostrich farm and watched their playful antics. It’s incredible how truly fast they are!
Next was on to an overlook at False Bay. This incredibly large bay received its name because sailors who were unfamiliar with the area thought this was where they needed to turn to begin their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. They would soon learn that they had not gone far enough and had not reached Cape Point or the Cape of Good Hope.
While the day was incredibly sunny and beautiful, amazing clouds would move in and out to create beautiful misty views at these iconic destinations. We spent a few hours simply enjoying the view after we had hiked to the top of Cape Point. It was incredible to see the clouds moving in and out over the lighthouse.
We also hiked down further around the backside to the lighthouse. The path was filled with baboons! Our first encounter with South African wildlife!
After resting a bit at the coffee shop and enjoying a fabulous latte, (thankfully it wasn’t snatched by a baboon!) we drove down to the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape of Good Hope is the southwestern most point of the African continent. This is the point past which you find the Atlantic Ocean. It was misty and foggy but absolutely breathtaking.
Next, was Boulders Beach to see the famous penguins! It was their nesting season, so we were not able to get off of the boardwalk or swim with the penguins as you hear is sometimes possible. However, I’m not sure I would even do that! I will say, they were absolutely fascinating to watch and I’m still amazed how close we really were to them.
After walking the path through this quaint neighborhood, we were on to our next destination, Nordic Beach and Chapman‘s Peak Bay for more stunning views. Scott has a good friend from South Africa and this was one of his recommendations for truly beautiful views and it was of course on our guide’s list as well.
That afternoon we checked in to the fabulous Ellerman House. This private home turned boutique hotel truly feels like you’re being welcomed into someone’s personal residence. Only 13 rooms and suites and 2 villas make up Ellerman House. We were met by our personal concierge who gave us a tour of the beautiful property as well as our suite with the most stunning sunset view of Camps Bay.
Ellerman House is owned by a family who owned a neighboring home and bought this property site unseen. After touring their new property, they decided it was too special not to share and created Ellerman House. Ellerman House is home to one of the most important private collections of South African art in the world. It is incredibly displayed throughout the home and they have even built a separate gallery on the grounds to house more of this important collection. I wish we had had time for an indepth tour with their curator.
The Ellerman House Spa is a serene sanctuary with several private treatment rooms, sauna and steam room. There are also 2 guest rooms in the spa.
Not to be missed is the Wine Gallery, home to 7500+ bottles of South African wines from storied and new labels in the world-reknown Western Cape winelands, all ageing in a carbon fiber sculpture. The Wine Gallery is also home to the Dom Perignon Champagne Room highlighted with chalk from the vineyard in France.
Did you know gin and tonic is the signature drink of South Africa? The thought was that it helped fight malaria because of quinine in the tonic and now it has become the traditional drink for sundowners. Ellerman House has the most charming Gin Trolley they roll out for sundowners to watch sunsets over Camps Bay. Unfamiliar with South African Gins, the bartender was so kind and explained the intricacies of the different artisan gin to us and helped us make the perfect selection. He then suggested the perfect finishing garnishes. The drinks were as delicious as they were beautiful! I can’t wait to share a gin and tonic recipe with you soon! A Gin Trolley at sunset might just be my new summer entertaining addition!
We then moved to dinner on the back terrace overlooking the bay. We were treated like family an truly felt like we were the owners of this beautiful home. Sommelier Wave made the perfect recommendation for our wines.
After a relaxing morning at Ellerman House Hotel, a wonderful breakfast and a bit of shopping in their highly curated boutique, we were off to the Cape Winelands which I will share with you next week.
One of the special things about Natural World Safaris is their commitment to environmental, economic and social responsibility. Each of these hotels is deeply invested in their community and supports education and the children who need this support. Traveling with partners who share the same values as us was an added bonus.
I would love to answer any questions you might have about Cape Town or traveling with Natural World Safaris. Stay tuned for special offer I will share with you soon!
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