Last month I was in South Africa to attend my friends’ wedding by the ocean. It was my second trip to RSA, so I decided to go back to some of my favourite places too. In only one week I enjoyed both the beautiful coast of Wilderness and the vineyards of Stellenbosch. Time slowed down and one week felt like one month. I love South Africa and if you’re contemplating going for a short trip, maybe you’d enjoy some of my favourite spots too!
The wedding took place between the ocean and lush forest in the small town of Wilderness. What a stunning place to celebrate love! The reception was intimate, relaxed, authentic and simple in a beautiful way. They were married in the same place they met. It’s the kind of story that never gets old! Wilderness is about five hours drive East from Cape Town (road work dependent, where seemingly, no roadwork is actually occurring… welcome to RSA btw). We took the fastest road to get there in time, but it is definitely worth taking the ocean road and making a stop by Hermanus if you can.
The next day I headed to the beach, with a surprisingly light hangover (A wedding with a South African Groom and Swedish Bride means the guests are provided a vast array of delicious alcoholic options) The skies were cloudy but it was warm. I did some yoga on the beach, which seemed a great idea however afterward I was covered in sticky sand. The South Atlantic Ocean was a chilly 16°C. Too cold for a rinse! South Africa is going through a severe water drought, so water usage is limited at the moment. I was determined to keep my consumption under 50L per day so I skipped the fresh water beach shower. Embracing nature was the order of the day!
Covered in sand, I took my fabulous +1 for a walk along the old train tracks. If you happen to visit Wilderness I recommend taking the time to pay a visit to the homeless community that is nestled on the cliff side after a little tunnel along the old train tracks. The people building this place have found their own way to express their artistic creativity and have transformed a natural cave into a museum of hand made art. You can visit, leaving a donation of 20 Rand (equivalent to $2 USD). The view overlooking the bay is beautiful too.
After a few days by the quiet and charming coast of the Western Cape, we drove the long road to wine valley of Stellenbosch. I love spending time in Stellenbosch, immersed in the old colonial buildings, trendy bars, hippy markets and cute restaurants. Add to this the lively atmosphere brought by the 30 000 students in town and you have a recipe for a good time.
Among the good restaurants on the popular Church Street, we enjoyed a fresh meal at Man’oush, and had some local Bobotie at Java. Unfortunately, we missed the market days, but we enjoyed some oysters and wine at De Warenmarkt. On our last night out, we went to the Trumpet Tree, a popular student bar with fun ambiance and good beers.
No one comes to Stellenbosch to drink only beers! With more than 150 wine estates, you cannot miss the fantastic wine tasting tours. Because it is not easy to make a choice among them all, you can book a tour by bike, tuk-tuk or even train. It wasn’t my first time so I just picked estates I never went to before and some I really loved from my first visit, five years ago, knowing that it is hard to have a bad experience there!
On the first day we went to Waterford for an interesting wine and chocolate tasting, then we had lunch booked with friends at Garden Peak. What a fantastic meal! I tried the ostrich steak for the first time and loved it (apologies to my vegan friends).
The second day, we chose Villiera as they also offer a game drive. We enjoyed the tour through the immense estate and the company of our passionate and knowledgeable guide, who, as it happens, was the third generation farm owner! He occasionally does a tour as a way of checking on his huge estate, and keeping in touch with his guests. We felt very fortunate that our tour guide was someone who couldn’t have been more involved with the park. During the three hour ride (An hour over the advertised time, not that we minded), we saw many species of Antelope including Springbok, Oryx, Giant Eland, Wildebeest and Kudu but also Giraffe and Zebra. Our guide took his time so we could get closer to the animals without being intrusive. We were lucky to witness a Springbok buck fight and a day old Eland calf drinking his mother’s milk. Simply amazing!
On our last day, we went to Tokara, one of my favourite wine farms. They display grand pieces of art and offer a magnificent view over the vineyards and the valley. Unfortunately, their restaurant was fully booked but we walked to their gourmet delicatessen where we had one of the best lunches of the week!
I would go back to South Africa anytime for a holiday. Next time I will probably aim to go to Aldo Elephant park. My friends are managing a charming guesthouse called Camp FigTree, that I cannot wait to check out!