First Trip to South Africa

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Jan 29th, 2006, 10:44 PM
  #1
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First Trip to South Africa

Principally on account of my fiance's indentured servitude, which some call the intern year of her residency, our relaxation for 2006 will be concentrated into an upcoming trip to South Africa.

Our current itinerary includes 6 days in Cape Town at the 12 Apostles Hotel and 3 days at Singita Boulders, to occur during the first bit of March.

What was originally conceived as a relaxing week in CPT is now starting to look like a full schedule of rushing from site to site. We would like to:

- Climb Table Mountain
- Visit Simon's Town Beach and Cape Point
- Take in the SA vs. AUS ODI cricket match at Newland's
- Visit Robben Island
- Take a township tour
- Visit the Wine Country (I know Stellenbosch, Franschoek and Constantia are closer, but a friend in the industry has enthusiastically recommended a property in Hermanus)
- See the City and the Waterfront
- At least in half day on and around Camps Bay
- Eat and drink well

Questions are simple:

- Is the juice worth the squeeze for each of these activities?

- Are there others that veterans would suggest which I have not listed?

- We are currently contemplating keeping a rental car for the balance of our time in Cape Town, largely due to the somewhat remote location of the 12A Hotel and our desire to make a couple of day trips out of the city. I have been second guessing this a bit as I read of strained parking and affordable car and driver hires in my Fodor's guide...any thoughts?

- Any truly can't miss restaurants?

On to our brief Safari, we are first timers and I expect the novelty alone will ensure a great trip. Any advice you would choose to offer on packing would be appreciated, as would any other general pointers.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.
countingthedays is offline  
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Jan 29th, 2006, 11:00 PM
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countingthedays,

Although short, your itinerary looks great. You have certainly done well with 6 nights at the 12 Apostles and 3 nights at Singita!

You have likely chosen my favorite hotel and my favorite lodge in the whole of South Africa.

I would just advise you to leave a couple days completely open in Cape Town. The 12 Apostles is a good place to just chill out at and enjoy the magnificent scenery. Also, although I am guilty of twice staying at the 12 Apostles, and not yet doing this, there is a great mountain trail that begins right at the back of the hotel.

Should you or your fiance wish to schedule some spa services, I suggest that you book ahead of time. My wife and I were just at the 12 Apostles last September and even when enquiring upon check-in, the spa was completely booked for the duration of our visit.

Be prepared to enjoy the best breakfast buffet, as well as a fantastic spot for sundowners at the 12 Apostles Leopard Room bar. Make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before sundown in order to get a seat, probably more like an hour before sundown just to be safe.

The Leopard Room bar has a FANTASTIC high tea with the best appetizers.

About the juice being worth the squeeze, I would consider substituting the 12 Apostles mountain trails to climbing Table Mountain. While not as popular, it would certainly be more private and possibly just as beautiful for the scenery, plus you end up right back at your hotel.

Have an incredible time!
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Jan 30th, 2006, 12:31 AM
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If you havent got tickets for the Aussie test I would start making urgent enquiries as this will definitely be a sell-out.
If time is of the essence I would skip the township tour but would try to fit in a Robben Island tour, which takes up about half a day.
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Jan 30th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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We are planning to go to Hermanus - Could you tell me recommendation for lodging - thank you
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Jan 30th, 2006, 11:45 PM
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There are so many options, from B&B's to hotels - it depends on your budget. I would suggest that you google the Hermanus Tourist Bureau website to start with. Try to choose an establishment close to the town centre (convenient for shops and restaurants but not for beaches) or to Voelklip or Grotto beach (if swimming and beaches are what you prefer).
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Jan 31st, 2006, 05:27 AM
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I would add cage diving with white sharks near Hermanus (in Gansbaai, actually) to your list. I went with White Shark Ecoventures.
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Jan 31st, 2006, 08:22 AM
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Countingthedays,

You asked whether the juice is worth the squeeze and in my opinion the answer with regard to this question when it comes to Cape Town is "yes it is BUT you are squeezing to hard in that you could quite easily cover Cape Town in 4 days".

You ask whether you will need car hire and the answer to that one is ABSOLUTELY that is if you are staying at the Apostles in that it is so far out. You could use taxis or possibly the hotel shuttle but this will become a serious bind over a 6 day period. In terms of parking problems whoever told you that this was a problem in Cape Town has been advising you wrongly as it is NOT a problem.

With regard to the one day test I have to double up on what 50something has advised in that you had better look at booking asap. Wave to me if you make it to the game as I certainly will be there. Pays to be a local as I have season tickets.

In my opinion there is no event like a "must do" event or a "must visit" restaurant. Thit_Cho (just using your mail as an example Michael) will tell you that you MUST go on a shark dive yet I will tell you that it comes last in line relative to what I would do. Many on this board will tell you to definitely visit Reubens restaurant in Franschhoek whereas I will tell you to give it a wide berth. Thus you have to be more specific and tell us a little bit more about your fiance and self with regard to your interests, food preferences and budgets, whereafter I think that you will find that comments from this board will be directed straight at what you really want to know. If you dont go down this road then you will have a ton of suggestions of which you wont know where to turn.


You have mentioned that you wanted to have some relaxation in the beginning and this immediately leads me to the question of are you committed to the Apostles or can you go and spend 2 very peaceful relaxing days in the Winelands as an example?

So countingthedays pass on the oranges and we will tell you whether the juice is worth the squeeze for without them we cannot make any squeezing suggestions at all.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa


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Jan 31st, 2006, 08:52 AM
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I agree with Selwyn's comments, and posters must recognize that we each recommend our own personal interests. I personally think Robben Island is an absolute "must see", but I have met some who didn't visit that UNESCO World Heritage Site on their visit to Cape Town, and there were things they thought "must sees" that didn't interest me.

It we all liked the same things, those places would be far too crowded, and fortunately we all have different interests.

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Feb 3rd, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Thank you all for the wonderful input!

-Roccco, I was unaware of good hiking so proximate to the 12A and will definitely give the trail a look. I just emailed my request for massage reservations. On account of your prolific posting to this group it is comforting that you approve of our accommodations!

-50Something/Selwyn, We do have our tickets to the ODI...prescient advice certainly as they do now appear to be sold out.

-Selwyn, It is good to hear a local say we will be able to drive about and park easily enough. We have low standards in this regard, having recently moved from San Francisco. Is it possible to park at or near Newlands Cricket Ground? How much of an early arrival will be necessary?
-With regard to dining, local seafood and native game are of particular interest, though the more I explore the more it seems these are component ingredients everywhere. I would like to try Cape Malay cooking, but aside from that, your take on where we can find anything exceptional would be appreciated. I have found eatout.co.za and have travel guides, but I would hate to be navigating the San Francisco or Boston restauarnt scenes with only a tourist guide! Winelists I've seen generally appear focused inward on South African product, which we certainly plan to focus on, but if there are wine programs that you are particularly fond of, or where you perceive outstanding value, I would love to hear about them!

-Elizabeth, I am far more qualified to receive advice on SA than to give it, but The Marine in Hermanus was recommended to us rather strenuously.

Thank you all once again!
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 08:45 AM
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- thit_cho, i'll take my sweet darling's temperature on cage diving...wish me luck!

- Raygreen, feeling perhaps both Table Mtn and 12A hiking... The greentrails site looks great! On Table Mtn, tour books have suggested guides for more difficult routes. Would you suggest the same? We are late 20's reasonably athletic, and in spite of what my sweet darling says, I can read a map...

Thanks again!
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 01:18 PM
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countingthedays,
Some will advise that you can climb the mountain on your own, honestly, you can, but i'd always take a guide as you'll appreciate so much more of the mountain. It is littered with glorious disa's, the fynbos is a unique floral kingdom, in fact the seventh largest in the world and confined to the western cape.

Without a guide you'll have a good sweat, see great views and come down the mountain none the wiser.
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