Well hello there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
I might have changed a country or two since we last spoke, and maybe even flown halfway round the world and back since but we’ll get to that another day, shall we?
A recent getaway took myself and Le Monsieur to Cape Town.
What resulted was a remarkably unforgettable experience. Who knew how outrageously beautiful this part of the world is?
It has to be said it was one of my best yet. Easily justified.
You might want to take care not to stray into the wrong part of town – but isn’t this the case in most places you go?
Walking around the centre or along the Waterfront begs no more danger than the busy streets of Barcelona. Keep your eye on your things and you can’t go wrong.
What we encountered was a warm and welcoming culture, very friendly and pretty laid-back. Wasn’t a far cry from my homeland actually.
Cape Town strikes up a very chill, surfer town vibe. Not unlike parts of Auckland I am familiar with and perhaps that’s why I particularly warmed to it. Although I would go as far as to say Le Monsieur would concur.
Never have I ever seen so many animals in one go.
On a 20-minute ferry ride back from Robben Island, we saw seals, whales and dolphins.
When we set off to see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years we weren’t expecting a free wildlife display to be thrown in.
On a day trip to Cape Peninsula, we took a drive through a national wildlife park, only to be stopped in our tracks by baboons. Hijacking the road. With a can of Red Bull. As you do.
We also saw seals on this day trip. And hung out with penguins. Lots of them.
Last but not least, we cannot neglect one our highlights of our stay. The Garden Route Game Lodge.
We were told the Cape Town region doesn’t offer up the best of safari experiences – for that you ought to head up to Johannesburg, for Kruger National Park. Or perhaps even Port Elizabeth for more choice.
As we didn’t have the luxury of time on our side, I did what I do best – scoured TripAdvisor. And she didn’t disappoint.
The lodge ranks well and given December is peak-season and we were booking only a couple of months out (trust me, this is organised for us) we were lucky to nab the last room in the place.
Our room actually turned out to be our own hut. Or better put, a bush chalet. Somehow we even ended up with the honeymoon suite. Slightly premature for that I would say. But I took it.
It had a view of the waterhole, looking out over the savannah. Need I say more?
I digress. We had a total of four game drives during our stay – two in the morning, two each evening. Here is where I impress you with my newly-acquired game terminology. We saw all of the Big 5. Ok, we didn’t. But we saw the Big 4.
Lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros. The leopards only pass through this territory on occasion.
We also saw countless other species, including a cheetah that had stalked and killed it’s prey, wildebeest, springbok, zebra and snakes.
And we fed the elephants. That was pretty cool.
The food and wine.
This is where I realised that heaven might actually be on earth.
For someone who lives a practically pescatarian subsistence, I became about as carnivore as they come.
Lean meats like ostrich, zebra (I know it seems wrong) and crocodile I did try. And the beef? Oh the beef! Melt in your mouth goodness. Hands down the best steak I ever ate. And I spend a lot of time in France.
Sadly for the South Africans, the rand is at an all-time low.
As those earning the Swiss Franc though, I’m not gonna lie, we made the most of it.
5-star quality food for the fraction of what you would pay in most places I swear. And don’t get me started on the wine.
We spent some time in the wine district, about an hour’s drive or so from Cape Town.
My favourite area is the Franschhoek Wine Valley. Colonised originally by the French Huguenots, this region is unbelievably picturesque. If you go there, stay here.
It’s possibly worth noting that the best meal I ever ate was here, at the Delaire Graff (yes, the jeweller) Estate in Stellenbosch. It was all-round splendour – the views, the food, it had it all.
Ok, I’ll stop making you sick. I’ll save that until next time when I post my top ten tips.