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Cape Town - South Africa. Places to stay; things to do

19 replies

Utka · 04/08/2002 19:52

We're planning a 2 week trip in Nov 2002 to Cape Town. Any recommendations for good places to stay, and things to do? Our daughter will be 22 months old.

We have relatives in Hermanus (with whom we can't stay unfortunately), and don't mind a bit of driving, but don't want to be in the car every day, so are unsure about the Garden Route. We probably need 2-3 places to stay. We want to enjoy the outdoors, and relax as much as possible!

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Willow2 · 04/08/2002 22:12

Utka - spent Christmas 1998 out there and had a blast. Will have a think and get back to you. Hermanus is gorgeous plus you'll be there at the right time for the (right) wales. You lucky, lucky thing!!! We missed them by a matter of weeks.

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Mopsy · 04/08/2002 22:30

The wales?? Willow2 you're a writer, gonna have to pull your socks up (or spellcheck) love Mopsy xx

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JanZ · 05/08/2002 09:43

Lucky you!

You must go to Stellenbosch (and Franschoek and Paarl) and try a few places on the Wine Routes. Lots of the places do really good lunches (eg Delaire, Morgenhof) and you can eat outside while your dd runs around. Don't go to Spier - it's just a tourist trap (and the wine's not that good!).

The South Africans (both white and coloured) love children and will often look after them for you if they're getting bored. They HATE children crying and love to entertain them - it can be a bit disconcerting though - last year, ds (13 months) was whisked off and entertained while we had lunch at Delaire. First of all he held court on the bar, but then disappeared off to tour the kitchens....!

High chairs were few and far between - we had to make use of our "hand bag" high chair and/or his harness wound around the chair - but sometimes we coudn't find suitable chairs to put them on. At 22 months that may be less of a problem as your dd can now "sit" at tables (or at least our ds, now 23 months, can do so).

Good place to stay in Sellenbosch is Bonne Esperance, a B&B in a lovely Victorian house (with a wee swimming pool). Technically it deosn't take kids, but they were happy to have ds (although we had stayed there before, on our honeymoon).

Plenty of beaches for you to go and have some fun - I'm told it's better to go on the Pacific side rather than the Atlantic side - the water is much warmer!

I wouldn't particularly bother about the Garden Route. It's interesting scenery, but not particularly "garden-ish". You could maybe do a "short" form of it: a trip to Oudtshoorn to see the ostriches and then to go to Kango Caves (impressive) and then back to the sea in Knysna and back down the coast to Cape Town but it is still a fair way to drive.

There's a crocodile farm between Stellenbosch and Paarl - depending on your dd's temperament, she may enjoy it!

Go to the various botanic gardens in Cape Town and Stellenbosch - both the flora and fauna are beautiful (wee sun birds flitting from flower to flower - your dd will be fascinated)

The Cape is absolutely spectacular - you have to allow for masses of extra time to go anywhere as you have to keep stopping to take photos.

The Portfolio Collection is worth investigating for places to stay - it's where we found Bonne Esperance (although they no longer pay to be in it - find their number through a Google search) - and we've also stayed in other places from it.

If I think of anything else, I'll post again.

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Willow2 · 05/08/2002 11:16

Mopsy, I was of course referring to HRH Prince Charles and his sons - who were spotted in the sea, waving leeks around whilst singing in wonderful baratones. Actually, come to think of it, they might have been drowning.

Yes, you are right. I must spellcheck. I do know the difference between the large mammal and the small country, but apparently my fingers forgot.

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SueDonim · 05/08/2002 11:44

Janz, just butting in here to say that you really make me want to visit SA! I've been researching my dad's family history and he was born in Simonstown and lived at Muizenberg. Also got conections with Groot Constantia, which I think is a museum now? I'd better start saving up the pennies!

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JanZ · 05/08/2002 11:47

I also meant to mention that you should book and pay for your hire car from here (and be sure to get uinlimited mileage - distances are large in SA!). In our experience, the SA hire car companies often try it on - either with extra days or supposed damage - and you often don't find out till you get the credit card bill, so it's much easier to deal with it locally rather than having to ring SA!

You can book hire cars with child car seats - but they won't fit them for you, nor even show you how to fit them! Demand paper instructions at the very least!

On the other hand, DON'T book any packages from here - deal direct with the hotels/B&Bs and if you're wanting to go to a game reserve, book direct as well. The exchange rate is really favourable to us at the moment - but if you book through travel companies, they're the ones that take advantage of it!

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JanZ · 05/08/2002 11:57

SueDonim - do you know how far back your dad's family is linked with SA? You never know, we might be related! My ancestor arrived in SA in 1777 - one of the earliest settlers (hence my strange surname - although it's German rather than Dutch).

My recent, as in 20th century, relatives are from Northern Province though - so any potential link would be from a LONG way back!

SA is a fabulous country to visit - the Kruger Game Park is just out of this world and incredibly cheap. For our honeymoon we splashed out and stayed in one of the private game reserves alongside the Kruger - which was an incredible experience.

Groot Constantia is both a museum and a wine estate, with some reasonable wines (although personally I prefer the wines from Stellenbosch and Paarl). You'll need to see if you can make use of any of those connections!

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SueDonim · 05/08/2002 15:57

Hi, Janz. I've gone quite a long way back, to 1688, I think (haven't got the papers to hand) and the Huguenots of France. Some of the surnames are Hugo, Rathfelder, Vos, Moore, Rousseau.

I learnt today that one of the Vos ancestors was born in Batavia, which is the old name for Indonesia, where I am currently living!!

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JanZ · 05/08/2002 16:21

SueDonim - a quick check of internet reveals one of my ancestors is "Christina Hendrina RUSSOUW DE WIT (1748-1818)" (she married a Jeremias AURET, 1749-1794). Given changes in spelling, that could be a Rousseau! Couldn't see any of the other names though.

I can trace my name back (or rather, someone else has!) to the 1500s, when my ancestor left Germany for Sweden and a few generations later, the line moved down to South Africa.

We should maybe start a new thread on "Ancestors"!

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Mopsy · 05/08/2002 22:49

ROFL Willow2

It'd be great if you guys could start an 'ancestors' thread - can you tell us how we research our names on the web please

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SueDonim · 06/08/2002 09:33

Good idea, Janz! I'll start a new thread called "Ancestors" and then we can chat without boring those who want to know about holidays in SA!!

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SueDonim · 06/08/2002 09:56

Here's the new Ancestry thread.

There's just a little bit about getting started, Mopsy. The rest of my stuff is on my computer at home, unfortunately, but hopefully this is a beginning for you.

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Willow2 · 06/08/2002 13:42

Mopsy - what does ROFL mean?

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JanZ · 07/08/2002 09:24

Willow2 - it means "Roll on the Floor Laughing".

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cocococo · 27/08/2002 22:15

DH wants to take me and DS (1 year old) to South Africa late September. We'd like a good beach hotel and some of that spectacular scenery - any advice on where to go, who to book with, hotels?

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dejags · 28/08/2002 10:08

Cocococo

Although I live in England, Cape Town is my home town. I could go on for days about what's good to do etc, don't worry I wont though.

Anyway good places to stay are:

The Bay Hotel (Camps Bay, near Cape Town city centre)
The Table Bay Hotel (The V&A Waterfront)
The Mount Nelson Hotel (Upper Cape Town City Centre)

These are all wonderful hotels but they are very pricey, there are loads of other really good hotels which are a lot cheaper, you should be able to see some in the websites (see url's below).

Things to see and places to go:

Take a trip up Table Mountain at sunset. You can pre-book tickets (ask your hotel or go to Vaughan Johnsons Wine Shop in the Waterfront) which include a meal & drink voucher for about £13 per person. This is a wonderfully romantic thing to do. The views are absolutely spectacular.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Again, ask your hotel for directions. The gardens are an amazing collection of local fauna and flora, a great place for kids to run around in and they have a really nice restaurant too.

The Wine Route in Stellenbosch. For really good wine try Hartenburg Estate, they do a wonderful picnic lunch for about £3.50 per person which includes a half bottle of wine each!! There are loads of wonderful farms, you can get a map of the Stellenbosch or Paarl Wine Route and do it yourself (if you are hiring a car). Avoid Spier, it is a tourist trap and very expensive with mediocre wine.

I could go on and on about where to visit, but your best bet is to look at the following websites:
www.capetourism.org/
www.cape-town.org/

As far as travelling with a one year old goes....

If you are hiring a car, prebook the carseat well in advance. Car hire firms normally only have one or two carseats and they get booked up well in advance.
There are a lot of attractions in Cape Town which would suit a backpack/child carrier, if I was going as a tourist I would definitely invest in one.
Don't worry about nappies, food or any baby products (you may want to take your own formula if still using it). Get somebody to point out your local supermarket, these items are readily available.
You can drink the tap water.
When travelling from Cape Town International Airport, give yourself plenty of time for check-in. They often give preference to those with children but that is not a hard and fast rule. We always aim to be at the airport at least 3 hours prior to departure.

Hope this helps
Have a GREAT holiday in beautiful sunny Cape Town

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Janus · 28/08/2002 18:20

We stayed at the Camps Bay Hotel (pre-baby) and it is a fantastic hotel, right opposite a lovely beach, does have its own pool too, food in the restaurant is lovely, etc. We also did table mountain, spectacular. We also went to Boulders which is about an hour's drive away (I think) and has penguins everywhere, completely wild, all over the beach, would be lovely for a child to see.
We also went up and stayed in the wine country to break up the 'city' break and it is stunning up there. We had the best meal of our lives in a restaurant run by the Haute Cabiere wine estate, the food was sublime and they gave you a different glass of wine with each course which complemented the dish, really heaven. The tour that they do around their wine estate is also excellent as the guy who runs it is a real character and takes of the top of his wine with a great big sword, etc, really worth seeing too and you get to drink some of their booze, all for about £3!!!
Enjoy, it's an amazing place.

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calcium · 30/08/2002 19:36

Lucky you SA is a fabulous place. Definately go to Stellenbosh to have a picnic and wine in one of the vineyard/houses. The Gardens are great and you can walk up the side of Table mountain if you are feeling energetic! Go whale watching, fab! Lovely seafood restaurants along the coast and if you go a little further up go to Knysna with a fresh water Oyster bay, I stayed in a lovely little guest house which was very cheap and there are some great crafty shops there you can also take a cruise on the bay and have champagne and oysters yummy. Must go to a game park and there is an elephant sanctuary not far from Knysna. Lovely aquarium at the Victoria and Albert shopping complex on the harbour front plus lots of shops, restaurants and cinema. Imax in town and you must go to Mount Nelson for an expensive tea!! Enjoy

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buttercup · 30/08/2002 20:34

yeah - definitely go to Boulders Beach. I also recommend Noerdhoek beach - its on the atlantic side a quite wild but absolutely beautiful. have a great trip.

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