Capetown, Hermanus, Franschhoek/Stellenbosch

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Apr 27th, 2004, 04:48 AM
  #1
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Capetown, Hermanus, Franschhoek/Stellenbosch

We are planning a 10-day trip to Capetown the first week of July. Thanks to the wonderful advice on this forum (Selwyn especially!) we've already booked a week at the Atlantic View in Capetown and one night at Auberge Burgundy in Hermanus.

The highly recommended Cathbert Country House in Franschhoek is a bit too pricey for us. Any other suggestions for two nights in Franschhoek or Stellenbosch?

We are preparing ourselves for cool, wet weather. Is there ANY chance we'll see whales in Hermanus in early July?

We'll have a whole week in Capetown and will be renting a car. Any recommendations for day-trips outside of the city, for example, to see a game park?

All advice welcome!
Thanks,
Skie




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Apr 27th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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we really liked it at Spier Vinelands, near Stellenbosch. They have a African restaurent, Moya I think its called that is very nice with African music. They light fires at night and give you warm blankets to wrap in. It was very nice. The hotel facilities were very nice too. The drawback is they can get big bus loads coming in for the wine tasting and restaurent.(if you plan to dine there, book early, it fills up fast)
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Apr 27th, 2004, 05:52 AM
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Here's a previous post in which Selwyn Davidowitz provides a list of recommended activities for the area:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34477003
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Apr 27th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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Skie,

I have spoken to Ann at Cathbert and she has told me that fro the month of July and for that matter most of Winter it will cost the rack rate of R1050 - 30% for a luxury room at her establishment. Effectively that means a rate of R735 for 2 on a bed and breakfast basis. Is this within your budget? If it is please write to Cathbert accordingly that is if you want to stay there.

Mfleming's views about Spier are fine
however I think this establishment might be out of your price range. Personally I would stay at Cathbert ahead of Spier anyday. Moyo at Spier is (was) a good restaurant however in the past couple of weeks it has been on a downhill slide second to none. The reason for this is imho management greed to pack in as much clients as possible. As a tour operator/guide I am one of Moyo's constant supporters and have visited the restauarnt with visitors more than 10 times in the last couple of weeks. When Moyo started out it was a wonderful place to go for a great African experience; now it is fast becoming a very plain buffet restaurant just outside Stellenbosch. I have written to management two days ago about my concerns and will see how the situation is adrreessed by them. I have to credit the management at Moyo for being quite professional in the way that they handle problems so I do believe there is hope, however watch this space as I will report back when I know more.

For more info as to what to do in Cape Town simply folow the lnk that Judy has already provided as it will tell you all you need to know.

If you need any further help simply ask the questions in this forum and I am sure that someone (possibly even me) will help you with sound advice.

Hope you gave a great stay in the Western Cape.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 27th, 2004, 03:46 PM
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Thank you for your responses.

Judy, I am enjoying reading all of your posts, and have copied out the thread with Selwyn's recommendations.

Selwyn, thanks for helping with the math! With the 30% discount, the Cathbert is really quite affordable and will be perfect for us.

Any suggestions for a day trip from Capetown to a game reserve?

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Apr 27th, 2004, 04:03 PM
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Skie,

Happy that Cathbert will now suit your pocket. To stay at Cathbert just contact Ann per email and tell her you read about the deal I spoke of in the previous mail on Fodors. She will then set the ball rolling.

Unfortunately there is no game reserve or farm near to Cape Town that is worth visiting in the Winter months. There is a venue close to Cape Town by name of Clara Anna Fontein but I dont think it is wise to travel on the farm in the wet season as the muddy areas can be treacherous. Anyway I dont think the farm managemnent will allow anybody onto their farm in the Winter Season for this very reason.

I am sorry but its a fact that close to Cape Town seeing game is not a viable function and you will have to see animals while on the Garden Route or otherwise in the northern parts of our country.

Sorry for this rather negative response but thats the way it is and I cant change it.

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Apr 27th, 2004, 06:51 PM
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Selwyn, did you attend any of the celebrations today that we read about here? What a happy day!
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Apr 27th, 2004, 11:57 PM
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Clematis,

Did we celebrate Freedom Day? Damn right we did! It was too big a day to miss out on. The celebration of 10 years of democracy in South Africa happened throughout the country with the main celebrations taking place in Pretoria. With me being based in Cape Town it was not convenient to be at the celebratons that took place in Pretoria where our president was sworn in for his second term of office. Thus to celebrate the day I spent time with South African friends in the township of Kayamandi where at our own youth centre (Ikamva Lethu centre meaning "Our future" in Xhosa) we had a get together and party for all in the evening. It was wonderful as the main theme for the party was "freedom" and you believe me we all felt very happy and free. The last time that I recall that I enjoyed a symbolic day like this was when Madiba was released from prison in Feb 1990. Phew what a wonderful day we had yesterday. Thanks for enquiring about our joy!

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Apr 28th, 2004, 12:10 AM
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Selwyn, so pleased to hear your celebrations went well. Wish we could have timed our trip to have been there with you for them. Truly a good reason to celebrate.

Skie I see above that Cathbert with the discount is in your price range so you may not be interested in alternatives but we negotiated a great rate with Plumwood Inn which is about 2/3 of the Cathbert discounted price. Obviously the Cathbert is a step above most other establishments but if you're looking for pretty, nice and comfortable with friendly owners but for a lower price, I thought I'd put this forward. I can't wait for my stay there as the owners have been so friendly in our email correspondance.
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Apr 28th, 2004, 07:18 AM
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another lower cost alternative in Stellenbosch is The Avenues. Peep's experience influenced my choice -- and they will pick us up at the airport AFTER our safari, when we don't get into Cape Town until nearly 9:30pm. Somehow the idea of not taking on driving a right-hand drive car on the "wrong" side of the road after dark didn't really sound too appealing! At 500 rand per night for the two of us, this sounds like a good place to ease our way back into the real world. We'll have 4 nights total before we head back home to the states, so we may take off for a couple nights if we want to venture further, then return for the last night. Traveling in off-season has its advantages.
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Apr 28th, 2004, 07:29 AM
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We will be visiting Cape Town in late May with our two 11-year old children and were hoping to spend an overnight in a game reserve within reasonable driving distance. Is May also too late in the season to do so? If not, any recommendations among the various possibilities? Thanks!
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Apr 28th, 2004, 11:42 AM
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Sophia2: I think this is about as close as you can come to what you are looking for near Cape Town -- I believe it is a bit further of a drive than you anticipate, though and suggest you get some maps before you get too involved in planning. Search for "peep"'s trip report a she's got some note on it:

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve
http://www.botlierskop.co.za/
If you're just traveling around the garden route, this is a great place to see critters up close and personal. The buffet food was so-so, but the tents are soooo cooool!!! They're along a small river and are very comfy, but still tents on stilts.

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Apr 29th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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Kavey, I have had a very nice correspondence with the folks at Plumwood Inn, too. Unfortunately they don't have a king-size bed for us, so we had to rule them out. Cathbert should be fine for us at this point. Your trip sounds very exciting!

Busted, how far is that Game Preserve from Capetown? Thanks for the address.
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Apr 29th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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Just to add to what Selwyn said, Botlierskop is near Mossel Bay, whose location you can see on this map:

http://www.uyaphi.com/WCmap.htm

It's hard to know what to suggest without knowing the rest of your itinerary. If your vacation is going to last 10 days, and you're going to spend those 10 days in or near Cape Town, then I can understand why you'd want to see some wildlife. If you're going to be visiting another African destination during the same vacation, then it's pointless to pursue wildlife (other than marine wildlife) in the South Western Cape. Since you haven't mentioned a destination outside of the SW Cape, I'll assume your vacation consists of the 10 days that you're presently planning on spending in and near Cape Town.

If you really want to see wild life on land, I think you have a couple of choices. One option is to extend your itinerary to include the Garden Route, and you can work a visit to Botlierskop into it, something along the lines of Selwyn's suggestion.

Another option is to limit your stay in the South Western Cape to a week, and then fly to the game reserve area in Mpumalanga (where the Kruger National Park and nearby private game reserves are located) for 3 days.

Oh yes, I don't think anyone has answered your question about whales yet. While I believe July is somewhat early in the Southern Right Whale spotting season, I think you have a chance of seeing whales.
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Apr 29th, 2004, 12:41 PM
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Skie,

Botlierskop is about 400 km away from Cape Town. As good as the game farm I am not sure whether it is worth the drive if you are only go to this game farm. You will spend one day travelling there from Cape Town, one day at the game farm and one day getting back to Cape Town. IMHO definitely not worth it. If you would spend another 2 or three days exploring the Garden Route going to places like Knysna and Plettenberg Bay then it definitely would be worth the ride.

Just my two pence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 29th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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Skie, just in case you think it's spooky that I've referred to a message that Selwyn posted after mine, it's because I started my message before he started his. I saw what he'd said when I previewed my reply, and edited my own message to acknowledge the points he'd made. However, I didn't realize that, because my own message already had been started, it would appear before his.
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Apr 29th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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I always knew that Judy was a bit of a ghost writer (a quality writer at that too) .

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Apr 29th, 2004, 03:47 PM
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Aaaaaaawwwwwwww, Selwyn!

Sounds as if we'll be skipping the game preserves. We should have plenty to do in Capetown, Hermanus and Franschoek, though, right?!

No longer spooked (thanks)~
Skie
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Apr 30th, 2004, 12:53 AM
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Skie

Glad to hear Cathbert will work out for you.

Good to hear you had a friendly correspondence with Lucienne at Plumwood too. Infact if you had booked with her recently you would have seen the booking form and letter stationery I designed for her. I had sent a letter of confirmation etc and she had asked how I did a couple of things so I offered to create similar for them. She said it's working out well.

Friendly and helpful hosts were a really important factor in my accommodation choices along with price (I negotiated some great discounts), amenities (comfortable, ensuite, double rooms, preferably with bath tub as well as shower) and location.

My sister and her friend went to SA a few weeks ago and wanted to see just a little game during the trip. I know they didn't stay in Botlierskip but were very happy with where they chose. When I can get through to her on the phone I'll get info for you.
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Apr 30th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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My sister recently returned from a trip with a friend around CT and the garden route area.

Her friend hadn't really seen much of Africa's wildlife before so they wanted to include a wildlife experience without spending too much on it or having to drive too far.

They stayed at Buffalo Hills.
http://www.buffalohills.co.za/

It's located near Plettenberg Bay so may or may not be suitable in terms of location.

She said that it was a lovely experience. The gentleman who owns/ manages it, Tony (she thinks), is very friendly and also very knowledgeable.

In terms of animals she mentioned that there are no elephants or big cats but they do have white rhinos (that you can get very close to), buffalo, boks, giraffe, zebra and other smaller animals.

She said it was an experience that might be best suited to those who had not done a regular safari before or who were not looking for an "authentic" wilderness experience since there was an element of tameness to the animals who tended to be easily found not far from the main accommodation area.

She said the accommodation was nice ? they stayed in the main building but there are safari tents available too.

She feels it's great value as the price includes breakfast, dinner, drinks and activities.

Dinner was really enjoyable and started with drinks round a camp fire, before moving indoors to a lovely buffet meal in the huge farm dining room. From their website it seems that sometimes meals are taken wholly outside. She said that it was very relaxed and people chatted over drinks after dinner.

She also particularly liked the nature walk activity lead by the manager who was really knowledgable and great at showing and teaching them plenty.

As you can see I quizzed her on every aspect I could think of. Hope it's of help.

Kavey

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