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Things to Do in Capetown for Teenage Girls plus Parents

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We are traveling to Capetown Dec 17th `21st and then going on safari. What are the activities and / or tours for a family with 18 and 20 yr old daughters that are "not to be missed"? We like to do things that locals do whenever possible to really get a feel for the culture. We are somewhat active but not looking to do long hike or bike event. Are the beaches good for "sunning" and spending some time there? Will we need beach towels?
We are staying at the One & Only. Our first full day is a Sunday - will most things be closed?
This is our first trip to South Africa.
Would really appreciate any feedback - especially from families with this age daughters.

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    Here are a few ideas:

    1. We spent a year in CT and took all of our visitors with teenagers to Gary's Surf School in Muizenberg (about 30 minutes south of CT - an easy drive) for a day of surfing - always a huge hit with the teenagers. The lesson lasts about two hours, and then you get to keep the surf board and wet suit for the rest of the day at no charge. There is good swimming for those who don't wish to surf, or you can just laze on the beach and soak up the sun. We'd pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. See You will need your own beach towels. This was a good "arrival day" activity - the adults could crash on the beach while the ever-energetic teenagers could have fun.

    2. Another must-do given the time of year you are visiting is Carols by Candlelight at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. One of my fondest memories of our year in CT is sitting on the flank of Table Mountain after dark with hundreds of other people, holding a candle and singing Christmas carols accompanied by the CT Philharmonic Orchestra, with the twinkling lights of CT far below and candles all around us - absolutely magical! See: Ask One and Only to get you tickets - it is extremely popular and sells out well in advance.

    3. Take them to the Cape to see the penguins and hike between Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope as follows:

    Go (drive) south from Cape Town along the east coast in the morning - you want to travel clockwise from Cape Town so that you catch the sunset over the Atlantic at the end of the day. Check out the surfers at Muizenberg Beach (if you don't plan to do this on another day), the whales at Simsonstown, the penguins at Boulders Beach (take the second entrance, where you can swim amongst the penguins - you don't want the first entrance, where you are restricted to the boardwalk – if you end up at the boardwalk, you are in the wrong place – get back in the car and continue south until you see a sign for the next parking lot) and then Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. There is an excellent short hike between Cape Point (park here) and the Cape of Good Hope - it will you take about an hour return. Be certain to take the side trip to Diaz Beach (it’s the beach you will admire from Cape Point) - very pretty but involves a lot of stairs. If you have a picnic lunch with you, Diaz Beach, Platboom Bay or Buffels Bay (all within the Cape of Good Hope Reserve) are all great picnic sites - just be wary of baboons. Return to Cape Town along the west coast (hopefully Chapman's Peak Drive is open – it is closed frequently due to rock falls) - stop along the coast and enjoy a bottle of wine while watching the sunset over the Atlantic - it is always spectacular!

    4. Hike to the top of Lion's head - the trail spirals around Lion's head so, as you climb, you enjoy successive views of the city bowl, Table Mountain, the ocean and Robben Island! Amazing!

    5. Take the cable car up Table Mtn and enjoy the amazing views - there are short, easy hiking trails at the top.

    6. Last but not least - visit a township. This was something that my family had wanted to do all year (when we lived in CT) but had hesitated, fearing that we would be treating the people who live in the townships like animals in a zoo, gawking at them and snapping photos from behind the windows of a bus. We had read that some township residents see these tours as an intrusion, while others feel that they are benefiting from the financial and cultural exchanges the tours offer. After much debate and considerable research, we selected Inkululeko Tours, a small tour company whose guides are township residents and who encourage their guests to get out of the vehicle and interact with the people. We were eight in our group, and we enjoyed a lot of interaction with the townships residents. It was one of the most memorable experiences of our year-long stay in South Africa. We took pictures of home (of winters in Canada - our kids tobogganing, building a snowman, skiing, shovelling the driveway etc.) and a simple map (to show them where we were from and how we had reached Africa) to share with the residents and they were fascinated. You could arrange ahead of time to have the girls visit a school. Our then 18-year-old daughter was very moved by the township visit.

    7. OK - one more - take the girls to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years - have them watch the movie Invictus before the trip, so they appreciate the significance of the island.

    It's a start! - there is so much to see around CT, but the above represents a few of our favourites. All of the above would be possible on a Sunday. Robin

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    There is an aquarium on the waterfront.

    A sport called sandsurfing is popular around CT. If we had enough time, we would have tried it.

    Definitely go to Robben Island. Besides the history, the ferry ride is a beautiful way to see the city from the sea.

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    Canadian_robin - thank you so much for taking the time you did to help me. Your suggestions are fantastic. Nothing like living in a city for a year to really know how to tour it!!

    You didn't mention touring wineries.... is this fun for our daughters? I know my husband and I would like it:) We have heard from others who lived there that it is a must. Do you agree?
    One daughter is drinking age, one is not - not sure if that even matters toward enjoying the experience of the countryside?? Would we be better off going to The Cape for the penquins etc? Have you kayaked there? That looks pretty neat?!

    Either way we don't have time to do both since each is a full day trip -
    This is how I see the priorities - tell me if you agree or how you would rank each:

    1. Robben Island (see Invictus first (great idea)
    2. Surf/Beach experience - great for our first day which happens to also be a Sunday
    3. Candlelight Carols in Botanical Garden sounds delightful- this is a PM experience I assume. Would it be after dinner?
    4. Visit a township - would we be best doing this with the tour co you used, or do you think out private tour guide could take us? I guess it depends on his experience/abilities. Being familiar with the township would certainly be a big plus! Also it during the summer break and Christmas holidays so school is out etc.(The girls would love to visit a school and take stickers, pens and pencils etc but wrong time of year).
    5. Cable car up to top of Table Mtn - How long to plan for this experience? Or hike to top of Lion's Head - which one would be better?
    6. Either winery tour OR Cape trip - both are full day experiences and we only have Sun, Mon, and Tues. We leave very early Weds AM for Ngala.

    I really appreciate your imput. We have a travel agent who supposedly specializes in South Africa, but I don't think she knows Cape Town very well and hasn't come up with anything like what you did!!!
    Thanks Robin!
    Kathy (NicandMo)

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    Hi Kathy! Glad to be of help. I'll try to answer your questions.

    A visit to the Winelands is certainly a highlight and our children willingly accompanied us there on many occasions. At the time, our son was of drinking age and our daughter was not. Both would enjoy these excursions, as trips to the Winelands involve so much more than wine. Our daughter especially enjoyed Spier - cuddling a cheetah cub, having her face painted by the Xhosa women and eating dinner in one of the treehouses (which are lit by tiny Christmas tree lights).

    Here is our favourite (self-drive) day trip to the Winelands (which includes some highlights for the non-drinkers):

    • Take the N2 highway north from CT. Stop at the Vergenoegd estate (, which is just north of the N2 on the R310 to Stellenbosch (on the right) - great reds and a beautiful Cape Dutch estate. If you are a birder, check out their pond.
    • Return to the N2 – do not continue on the R310 to Stellenbosch. Continue east on the N2 to Somerset West. Stop at the Vergelegen (, which is Mandela's favourite winery with good reason. Great Sauvignon Blanc, which the estate is known for, and a fantastic Vin de Florence – very good and a steal at R27. Vergelegen also has a small but good shop.
    • Back to the N2 and east over Sir Lowrey's Pass - stop to enjoy the great views of False Bay from the viewpoint at the top.
    • At Grabouw and the first turn-off for the R321 north, stop on the Country Orchard (on the left) – wonderful jams, fruit rolls, pies, breads, fresh produce – there is also a café where you may enjoy a cup of coffee and sample the baking.
    • Continue east on the N2 to the Peregrine Farm Stall (on the right) - great breads, biltong, pies, muffins, dried fruit, homemade apple juice etc.
    • Just after the Peregrine Farm stall, take the (second) turn north onto the R321 towards Elgin and Villiersdorp.
    • Head north on the R321 over Viljoen's Pass. South of Villiersdorp, head northwest/left on the R45, past Theewaterskloof Dam. Travel the Franschhoek Pass towards Franschhoek. Keep a lookout for baboons on the pass - there is usually a troop at the top.
    • Just after the Franschhoek Pass, stop at the Cabriere Estate ( – greats whites and champagne, and you can watch the winemaker uncork a bottle with a sabre.
    • From Cabriere, continue northwest on the R45 to Franschhoek. Have a light lunch (saving room for a big dinner!) in Franschhoek and then walk the main street – there are some lovely shops. The “Due South” store has a lovely selection.
    • From Franschhoek, continue northwest on the R45 for 16km to the R310 south.
    • At the R310, turn left or south onto the R310 towards Stellenbosch and stop at the Boschendal Estate (, which is on the left, 1.5km after the turn-off.
    • Continue south on the R310 over the Helshoogte Pass to Stellenbosch. Tokara (, on the crest of the Helshoogte Pass, is another great estate – great wines with stunning views. South of the pass and north of Stellenbosch is Rustenberg, an historic farm with friendly cows in a lovely setting, famous for its reds.
    • Continue south on the R310 through Stellenbosch to the Spier Wine Estate ( Visit the cheetahs (you can pay to cuddle a cub) and have dinner in a tree house at the Moyo Restaurant – again, have One and Only book a table for you in advance - the tree houses are extremely popular. The entertainment is usually very good.
    • To return to Cape Town, continue south on the R310 for ~9km to the N2 and then head west on the N2 back to Cape Town.

    • Also near Somerset West off the R44 on Blaauwklippen Road is Waterford, (, where the Cape meets Tuscany, complete with fountains. You may sample wine and chocolate on the terrace.
    • Also off the R44 at the end of Annandale Road is Rust en Vrede (Rest and Peace) – great reds in a lovely setting.

    Obviously, you'll have to pick and choose your wineries - you couldn't possibly cover them all in a day. So, while my daughter couldn't sample the wines, she did enjoy Peregrine, the baboons, Due South and Spier. The Winelands were something we all enjoyed!

    You could certainly visit a township with a guide rather than on a tour - just make certain that the guide understands that you wish to be able to get out of the vehicle and interact with people. Find a guide that specializes in township tours. Unbeknown to us, the day we visited the township was a school holiday, which was great because it meant that every time we stepped from the vehicle we were surrounded by children. While your daughters may not have the opportunity to visit a school, (sorry - forgot you were there during the school break - duh!) they will certainly have plenty of opportunity to interact with students.

    Carols by Candlelights is in the evening, so it would be possible to plan something like the trip to the Cape for the day and go to Kirstenbosch for the concert in the evening. It wouldn't work with the Winelands because, if you go to the Winelands, I wouldn't miss dinner at Spier.

    For the Cable Car, the ride to the top of Table Mountain takes less than 5 minutes, so you could ride up, enjoy the views and be back down in a couple of hours. This is assuming of course that there are no line ups. You want to go up the mountain on a clear day and, if there has been a few days of cloud or rain, then everyone will head to the cable car on the first clear day - so it can be busy. Go first thing in the morning - arrive when it opens (8:00am I think, but best to check) and there shouldn't be much of a lineup. If I had to choose between the cable car and Lion's Head (especially when time is a factor), I would definitely ride the cable car.

    Winelands vs the Cape is a tough choice - either will be a fantastic day. Take a family vote! Hopefully, other Fodorites will give their opinion.

    One other thing - if, on arrival day, the girls are too tired to surf, you could do lunch at Rhodes Memorial and then head to the cable car for the trip up Table Mountain. Planes usually arrive in CT in the morning so, after checking in at One and Only, it should be lunch time. Rhodes Memorial is more or less on the way to the cable car. Rhodes Memorial has great food and wonderful views of CT. Have One and Only book a table on the outdoor terrace - again, it is very popular! We often did lunch at Rhodes followed by the cable car with our guests on the day that they arrived - it is an easy day after long, overseas flights.

    For a lovely dinner in Cape Town, our favourite restaurant is the Africa Cafe. You will need to book it ahead as well!

    If I had three full days, I think my priorities would be:

    Ride the cable car up Table Mountain on the afternoon of my arrival with lunch at Rhodes Memorial first - dinner at the Africa Cafe that evening.

    Then (in any order, depending on when you can get CBC tickets):
    1. Day trip with a picnic lunch to the Cape - take a bottle of wine and stop on Chapman's Peak Drive on the way back to CT to watch the sunset over the Atlantic.
    2. Day trip to the Winelands with a light lunch in Franschhoek and dinner at Spier
    3. Robben Island or the township tour - I would be inclined towards Robben Island of the two. Again, have One and Only book the Robben Island tour for you ahead of time. Carols by Candlelight that evening.

    Tough choices! Robin

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    Sorry - I should have commented on the fact that I dropped the surfing. I thought that, since this is your first trip to Africa and you have only three days in Cape Town, you would be wiser to do things that are unique to Africa/CT. You could do the surfing as part of the trip to the Cape - you will pass Muizenberg on your way south - but it would make for a very busy/rushed day if you are tired from your flights.

    Also, that there are full-day tours that combine Robben Island (make certain a visit to District 6 is part of this tour) and a township tour, so it might be possible to do both. Robin

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    Robin - I am overwhelmed that you took the time to give me such GREAT detail - can't thank you enough. I am printing this and calling One & Only for reservations ASAP. A Family vote is a good idea for wine country vs Cape Hope. Also I like your first day idea better than surfing - I know they'll be very tired. ( I am the best traveler in the family...haha)
    really Robin - you just made my day!!

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    Hi Anita - we live in a suburb of Chicago...Lake Forest. WE like city stuff and nature not too much of either one. We LOVED Istanbul and Rome - two of our favorite big cities...but we also loved the countryside in both countries!WE love eating with an expansive (water preferably) view. The girls like cute native shops - not too touristy.

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    Robin - a couple more questions: what is District 6? Is that an extra part of touring Robben Island or is it always included? Does it add time to the tour? I'm hoping they are open for tours on Sunday! We'll do Rhodes Memorial and that.

    We actually DO arrive in Cape Town Sat night at 11:30pm WE fly from Chicago non stop to Amsterdam then layover for 3 hrs and then fly non stop to Cape Town.

    On Sunday, I know we will want to take in some sun...coming from Chicago, and being tired Day 1
    .... do you think we are going to enjoy the pool scene at One & Only or should we go to the beach? How far away is it?? I AM thinking of taking a beach towel for each of us??!! Would it be worth it if we aren't surfing?
    How long ago did you live there? What an amazing experience that must have been!

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    Ok, Rome is one of my all-time favorite cities and Istanbul is right up there - along with Chicago - and I lived in Southern California for 13 years so I'm going to go out on a limb here and probably take some serious flak for this.

    I just got back from Botswana, ending with a five day trip to Cape Town where my daughter's doing volunteer work. Cape Town is very beautiful and certainly historic, but I really didn't find it that extraordinary. The Shedd Aquarium is far superior to Two Oceans Aquarium Cape Town. Save your money. The waterfront is pretty, and totally commercial. The botanical gardens, wine country, table mountain are all very pretty, but you've probably seen it all before. Perhaps I'm jaded having lived in California, perhaps I'm soured because someone stole my credit card number while I was there and used it yesterday to purchase $1200 in merchandise.

    I can say some positive things. The little beach towns on the Western Cape are very pretty. As canadian_robin mentioned, Muizenberg is the home of surfing. That's where my daughter's living so I came to know it well. There's not much happening there other than surfing but your girls might really like that scene. Going south from there is Boulders Beach, a very beautiful, easy stroll, loaded with penguins (make sure to climb the rocks to the right of the parking lot where the penguins roam free.) Also, Kalk Bay has terrific, funky clothing shops your girls will love, some nice art galleries and good places for lunch.

    Sorry for being such a downer. Cape Town's a very beautiful place. However, other than its remarkable, (and unfortunate), history I just didn't find it that extraordinary.

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    aknards - that's why I do the city before the safari. It seems like such a letdown. I loved the three days spent in CT, including the penguins, vineyards, waterfront, Table Mt and Robben Island. Where else can you do all that and eat well, too?! We loved it - because there's such a variety of city/not city things to do. It's a lovely place to visit for a week - you and your kids won't be bored.

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    We lived in CT in 2004-2005 and will return for 2011-2012 - the upcoming sabbatical can't come soon enough! I can't wait to return - although I must confess we returned to Africa (Southern and East Africa) in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Africa is highly addictive!

    District 6 is usually part of a township tour, not part of a tour to Robben Island. I would guess that the tour of District 6 lasted about an hour - so it added a little time to our tour but, as you'll read below, a very worthwhile hour. District 6 is usually (the first) part of a township tour. Below is my description of our 2005 visit to District 6 - from District 6, we went on to visit Langa, a CT township. I sent monthly newsletters home to family and friends when we were there - this is a paragraph from the letter I sent home after our District 6/township tour.

    ...Our tour was led by Gladstone Pasiwe, a black in his early twenties, who has been a township resident all his life. We were ferried about in a minibus, and our tour companions included a group of six Italians, who spoke little English, and a couple from New Zealand.

    Our tour began with a drive through District Six, a large piece of vacant land on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, adjacent to the city centre. Originally the sixth municipal district of Cape Town, it was once an impoverished but vibrant neighbourhood, which housed people from every walk of life - musicians, traders, teachers, craftsmen, petty criminals, hookers, and pimps. It was one of South Africa's most inspired and creative communities, producing poets, jazz musicians, and writers. Blacks, whites and coloureds lived and worked side by side. However, in 1966, sixty thousand people were forcibly removed from District Six by apartheid hardliners who, wanting to limit interaction among races, passed a law making it illegal for people of different races to live in the same neighborhood. The government declared District Six a whites-only area and renamed it Zonnebloem ("sunflower"). Blacks and coloureds (the apartheid name for people of mixed descent) were forcibly removed, and their houses flattened by bulldozers. When the bulldozers finally moved out, all that remained were a few churches and mosques, which still stand today. In an ironic attempt at morality, religious buildings were exempt from the demolition order. The community was relocated piecemeal to segregated areas - the coloureds to the Cape Flats (a name that accurately describes both the geography and psychology of the area), and the blacks further east to the “townships” or “black suburbs” of Langa, Khayalitsha and Guguletu. Today, District Six remains largely vacant, as even hardened capitalists spurned development in protest. Only the state-funded Cape Technicon was ever built on the land. Restitution is finally underway, and construction of homes for some of the evicted families started in 2003. It is hoped that by returning the land to the original families, the damage done to the national psyche may be reversed. Until then, the vacant land is a constant and sobering reminder of what took place.

    After driving through the area, Gladstone took us to the District Six Museum, which is housed in one of the churches that were spared. There, we admired an impressive collection of historical photographs, paintings, books, artifacts, and physical remains such as street signs, most of which were donated by former residents. There was an especially poignant display of the dreaded pass books, which controlled and limited the movements of coloureds and blacks. All non-whites were forced to carry these passport-like books at all times, and were thrown in prison if found without one. David, who is coloured, still has his pass book. Also of particular interest was a layout of the streets and buildings of District Six, which was painted onto the floor of the main room of the museum. Former residents had signed their names where their homes or businesses once stood. It was a fascinating museum, and we wished we could have stayed longer....

    Given how little time you have in CT, I would skip the pool at One and Only and (on Sunday) have O&O pack a picnic lunch for you. Head south to Muizenberg (either watch the surfers or partake for a couple of hours - I would be amazed if Gary's isn't open on Sunday but check their website), Boulders Beach (the penguins - if you take the 2nd parking lot, you can swim amongst the penguins - more beach and sun!), Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope (do the short hike between, including the steps down to Diaz Beach) and return to CT along Chapman's Peak Drive, admiring the sunset as you return to CT. This is a very easy drive and would be a great first day - start right after breakfast and you'll be back for dinner!

    The botanical gardens, wine country, table mountain are all very pretty, but you've probably seen it all before. - aknards

    I strongly disagree with this comment! Kirstenbosch, the Winelands and Table Mountain are very beautiful and unique, and all are well worth a visit! I do agree with aknards' comment about the Two Oceans Aquarium, however - it would be way down my list of things to do in CT. Robin

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    The botanical gardens, wine country, table mountain are all very pretty, but you've probably seen it all before. - aknards

    Like canadian_robin, I also disagree with this comment. I am in Cape Town right now for meetings and before that spent 3 days in the Overberg (east of Cape Town, between the Winelands and the coast) with a co-worker from California. He commented over and over how much the area looks like different parts of California, but he certainly was not bored. Really, he was fascinated - the variety of landscapes in the area between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas is amazing. I was reminded at times of places as varied as Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Norway - all within just an hour's worth of driving! And many of the plants are utterly unique. Besides what we saw growing along the roadside, we visited the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden near Betty's Bay.

    I, for one, have never before seen things like whales literally yards offshore (in several places), ostriches out in pastures, penguins walking up just feet from us (at Stony Point), or the wildflowers that grow here (to name just a few) . Cape Town is a beautiful city, too, and I am not sure there is anything else quite like Table Mountain dominating the skyline. Although we did not go up in the cable car, we did drive to the top of Signal HIll (aka "the Lion's Rump", near the Lion's Head), and the views from there are also impressive.

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    Thank you Aknards and Cranachin both for your comments - much appreciated.

    Robin - since you gave me such detailed ideas for our touring winelands - I wonder if you could read this tour that Abercrombie and Kent has recommened for us and tell me your thoughts. It doesn't mention the cheetahs, Due South & shops, tree house dining etc which all sounded like things my daughters would like!???
    I can tell them I want to change the itinerary - no problem - should I? See below.

    Thanks again!

    Leave Cape Town this morning and head towards the famous Cape Winelands set below the dramatic range of mountains known as the "Hottentots Holland". Whitewashed homesteads nestling under avenues of oaks, rolling green hills covered with wild flowers, fertile valleys alive with the sounds of surging streams, restaurants with French names and Dutch flavors, such is the setting of the Winelands, home of some of the world's finest wines and Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town.

    In Stellenbosch, the famous university town, founded in 1679, by Governor Simon van der Stel, you will have the chance to explore the town with a specialised guide, whose local knowledge is intimate. Walk through the town, hearing about its historic significance and renowned contemporary wine industry. You will see areas of great architectural heritage including examples of Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian properties, often set amongst rows of beautiful oak trees. Your walk finishes at the fascinating Village Museum, which chronicles the town's past and incorporates the oldest existing house, which dates back to 1709. Stellenbosch is also the centre of the local wine industry.

    After visiting the town, visit a privately owned winery, the picturesque Rustenberg Estate, owned by the Barlow family for generations and renowned for its award winning wines, attractive location and famous herd of Jersey cows. Then journey up over a breath-taking mountain pass called the Hels Hoogte ("Precipitous Heights") Pass and down into the Banghoek Valley, en-route to Franschhoek.

    The quaint Huguenot village of Franschhoek ("French Corner") is your setting for lunch. The area was originally known as Olifants Hoek ("Elephant's Corner") after elephants took to calving in the sheltered valley with its plentiful supply of food and water. Franschhoek is famed for its array of gastronomic delights. To top off lunch, head for a fine cheese tasting, accompanied of course by a glass of wine at the local "Fromagerie" (or similar).

    Time permitting explore Franschhoek's charming high street, which in addition to quaint art and antique shops boasts the distinctive Huguenot Monument, which was erected in 1938 to commemorate the French Huguenots who arrived in South Africa in 1688. The museum next to the monument depicts the rich heritage and history as well as the development of the Franschhoek Valley, including its fynbos flora, fauna and early inhabitants.

    Then head for your final winetasting and cellar tour of the day at the beautiful Plaisir de Merle estate near the village of Simondium. Blessed through the ages by the hands of many excellent winemaking families, the Plaisir de Merle story carries a proud legacy of exceptional people who have created an unsurpassed viticultural and vinicultural tradition. The new cellar was opened on 1st December 1993 to commemorate the signing of the original land grant by Simon van der Stel 300 years before to the day.

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    My impression is that most of your time will be spent on foot in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, where the focus will be on history and architecture. While this will certainly be interesting and they are both lovely towns to walk around in, I can't imagine this appealing to many teenagers. You will see many examples of the wonderful Cape Dutch architecture when you visit the wineries. The staff will also be happy to outline the history of their estates. Vergenoegd, which I suggested you visit, has beautiful Cape Dutch architecture and has been in the same family for 6 generations. The estate was granted land rights in 1696 - so lots of history here. I would look for a tour that offers a little more variety (scenery, wine sampling, walking the main streets, shopping), and where the history lesson is inherently part of the tour - if that makes any sense.

    If you book a private tour, I suspect that your guide with A&K will take you wherever you want to go - you could email them the Four Passes Route and explain in details what you would like to do - perhaps leaving the choice of wineries to the guide. Certainly, going with a guide is a good idea, especially when you are jet-lagged - everyone gets to enjoy the tour, all adults can sample the wines without worry, and you don't have to fret about the drive back to CT at ~10pm (after dinner at Spier) when you are tired and it is dark. However, be careful - we had friends hire a guide for the day (for a Winelands tour) and by the time they arrived at Spier where they had booked a tree house (their reservation was for 6:00pm), the guide announced that he was almost at his time limit and needed to get back to CT. They had to skip dinner and the cheetahs. They were most disappointed. Make certain that you have an agreement in writing as to the duration of any tour. Perhaps you could offer to buy your guide dinner at Spier! Robin

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    Excellent Robin - thanks again for your time and great suggestions. I am going to do just what you suggested. I am emailing them next!!
    You should be a travel agent.... you are better than the one I have here in Chicago!!
    My Best

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