Spring has made a very sudden appearance in Cape Town, here are our tips on how to make the most of it!
Winter has come to an abrupt end and as if someone has flipped a switch, Spring is here. A few sweltering days have already given us an indication of the hot summer that lies ahead of us and we’re not about to complain about it! In the name of ushering in Spring, we’ve rounded up ten fun outdoor adventures that our rental car can take you to around Cape Town!
The Milnerton Market takes place every weekend and public holiday and makes for a great day-outing. It is in fact no longer located in Milnerton, but in Paarden Eiland, with a majestic backdrop of Table Mountain. Unlike many over-curated markets these days, the market is an authentic flea market and the ideal destination for deal-hunting! Round up the gang and make a day of finding the perfect bargain!
Cherry-picking at Klondyk Farm
Nothing quite says summer like a basket and a belly full of cherries! Cherry-picking at the Klondyk Farm in Ceres is the ideal family activity that will keep the kids entertained while they harvest fruits for the next few weeks. The farm is located two hours outside of Cape Town and offers accommodation in case you want to make a weekend out of it.
Note that there is a designated cherry-picking season that opens toward the end of November.
Franschoek Wine Tour
The Franschoek Wine Tram takes you through the beautiful Franschoek Valley and stops at picturesque vineyards where you can enjoy world-class wines and cuisine against a breath-taking scenery. The tram itself is a vintage-style railway tram that allows you to hop on our off wherever at any point. Get your best friends together and spend the day reveling in the beauty of the Franschoek Valley.
Wild Flower viewing on the West Coast
Is it even Spring if you haven’t been to see the West Coast’s wild flowers? From August, several little towns along the West Coast, about an hour’s drive outside of Cape Town, light up with colourful wild flowers. The closest wild flower destination is the Blauuwberg Nature Reserve, which has spectacular views on to Cape Town’s cityscape and coastline. The wetland is located 30 kilometers outside of Cape Town, offers several hiking trails and is known for its rich biodiversity.
This bustling Friday-night market is a fun way to kick off the weekend. The market is located in Muizenberg, an area of Cape Town that has become a hub for creatives from all walks of life. On Friday evenings, Muizenberg locals gather at the Bluebird market for a few drinks, to enjoy the delicious culinary experiences on offer and to browse the clothing and jewelry stalls.
Penguin-watching at Boulders Beach
For a truly special and uniquely Capetonian experience, head to Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town to hang out with the penguins. Boulders Beach is the home of a colony of African penguins and is located just 45 minute south of Cape Town. The area consists of three pristine beaches with a viewing deck for observing the penguins. The beaches are also suitable for swimming, so bring your swimsuit! Entry to Boulders Beach requires a conservation fee, so don’t forget your wallet.
Galileo Open Air Cinema
Does watching cinema classics under a blanket and a magical ceiling of stars sound good to you? From October through to April, the Galileo Open Air Cinema will be screening movies at various open air venues again. From Kirstenbosch Gardens to Battery Park at the V&A Waterfront, all the venues are magnificient, as is the choice of film, which is typically a timeless movie that appeals to a wide audience. Galileo offers different packages, with the option to include a blanket, back rest and a box of chocolates. What better way to usher in summer than an evening spent watching your favourite movie under the open sky.
Hike Lion’s Head
Lion’s Head is the lion-shaped mountain that towers over Cape Town’s City bowl and the Atlantic Seaboard. The hike to the top of Lion’s Head serves as a perfect sunrise or sunset hike, offering breathtaking views over the entire city bowl, Table Mountain and the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town. The hike is a fairly manageable distance and can easily be done under 2 hours, but it’s rather steep so make sure you’re feeling up to the challenge. Be sure to take along a flask of coffee and some snacks to enjoy when you’ve reached the top!
Take a drive to Kirstenbosch Gardens in Newlands and let yourself be amazed by the diversity of this botanical garden, which is considered one of the grandest in the world. Kirstenbosch Gardens is steeped in history, with the land being in use since the late 1400’s. Spend the day walking through the picturesque garden and conclude your day with a picnic spread on Kirstenbosch Gardens’ ample lawns.
High tea at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
There is no celebration of Spring more refined than a high tea at Cape Town’s Mount Nelson hotel. The Nellie, as she is affectionately known, offers a morning, afternoon and evening tea in a regal setting. Each tea sitting comes with a spread of assorted treats, as well as over 40 different teas and a tea sommelier that is on hand to guide you in the art of tea-tasting. Tea can be taken in the lounge, on the terrace or in the garden, in a formal yet beautiful environment.
Cape Town is a city for adventure and the warmer seasons suit it all too well – we’ve barely scratched the surface here, there’s so much to do! What is your favourite activity to do in Cape Town?
Tips and tricks on how and where to find snow in the Western Cape of South Africa
A cosy cottage blanketed in dazzlingly white snow, a roaring fire in a stone fireplace, a good read and a mug of hot chocolate – it’s the ultimate winter dream! Living in a country where the climate ranges from Mediterranean to subtropical, with sunshine aplenty and scatterings of rain, there’s a certain kind of awe reserved for snow. Most South Africans maintain a child-like sense of wonder for it, especially because sightings of snow are limited to the movies for most. Luckily, there’s a small window in winter where you’ll be able to track down snow in certain areas of South Africa.
We’ve taken it upon us to collect information around some of the best areas in the Western Cape to find snow (all within driving distance from Cape Town), as well as how best to time your snow hunt. If you’re heading to Cape Town for your next vacation, you may want to consider hiring a car and making a day trip in search of snow – the kids will love it!
How to track a snow front
Most of the fun lies in the sense of adventure as you closely monitor snow forecasts and strategise when the optimal time is for the trip to kick off. Your snow hunt starts by keeping an eye on the weather forecast and maintaining a degree of flexibility, so that you’ll be able to up and go for the day when there’s a potentially snowy day.
To the uninitiated, we’d like to introduce the snow reporting website aptly named “Snow Report” (snowreport.co.za). Snow Report SA provides a comprehensive report of any potential snowfall in South Africa, as well as images of snow sightings, via its Facebook (Snow Report SA) and Instagram (@snowreportsa) pages. Its snow charts provide insights into how much snowfall is expected in which areas, and the website links through to webcams around the country that are set up to monitor snow. Snow Report is your ultimate tool for tracking snow and the best starting point for planning your trip.
Where to go
Matroosberg Private nature Reserve
The Matroosberg Private nature reserve is an area that frequently sees a decent amount of snowfall when there’s a cold front and is located a mere two-hour drive outside of Cape Town. The reserve is situated on the farm Erfdeel, a fully operational farm just outside of Ceres.
You have the option to stay in the oldest building in the area, the 100-year old Goatherder house, which is a quaint stone cottage that will meet all your expectations for the perfect rural winter getaway (including the stone fireplace!). The Goatherder house is nestled at the foot of the Matroosberg mountain and rather remotely situated. Note that there is no electricity, so you’ll want to come prepared with warm clothing!
Klondyke Cherry Farm
The Klondyke Cherry Farm in Ceres is renowned for its consistent snowfall. What is the site of a cheery and colourful scene in summer, transforms into an idyllic winter wonderland in winter. While the snowfall is sometimes limited to dustings on the mountaintops, in a good season it can also snow so much that it covers the entire farm.
Klondyke is situated just two hours outside of Cape Town and can be visited for a day trip or an extended stay. The farm offers three self-catering cottages that are fitted with everything you’ll need to keep you warm at night: electric blankets, heaters and a fireplace.
Swartberg Mountain Pass
If you’re willing to venture a bit further from Cape Town, head to the Swartberg mountains near Oudtshoorn. It may be a lengthy five hour drive, but the Swartberg Mountain pass is often closed due to snow when there’s a cold front, so you may very well luck into a proper snow sighting. While you’re in the area, spend a few nights in Oudtshoorn, where you’ll be able to find beautiful accommodation options that are steeped in grandeur and history.
If it’s luxury you’re after and you’re happy to settle for beautiful, snow-capped mountains, you could consider heading to Nuy Valley in Worcester. Here you’ll find De Wilge, an old wine cellar dating back to 1905, that has been transformed into two luxurious apartments. The self-catering units are spacious and stylish, and the more luxurious of the two features a Jacuzzi and private bath that overlooks the mountains and a citrus orchard. When it’s cold out, you’ll be able to spot snow on the caps of the majestic Langeberg mountains.
Preparing for your snow hunt
Wherever you decide to go, it’s certain to be cold, so make sure you’re prepared for it! You’ll need a good pair of boots, long tops and jerseys that can be layered, a quality jacket and spare blankets.
You’ll also want to be comfortable in tackling somewhat rougher terrain, so be sure to hire a car that will meet the challenge. At Vineyard Car hire, we can offer you anything from a 5-seater Toyota Fortuner to a 4×2 Toyota RAV4.
If you’re lucky enough to come across heavy snowfall, make the most of it! Can you really enjoy your trip without a few gimmicky snow games? It may be a cliché but building a snowman is something of a rite of passage when it’s snowing – there’s no way you can get away without building one. And don’t forget the snowball fight, as you’ve seen it in all of your favourite Christmas movies!
So there you have it, as unlikely as it may seem – if you pay attention to the forecast and know where to go – you could very well enjoy some decent snowfall in Africa!
7 realistic ways to save smartly so you can travel more!
With the costs of flights, accommodation and car hire, travel is no cheap affair but isn’t it oh-so worth it? You simply cannot put a price on the thrills of discovering a new destination and the memories you make on every journey. So, in the name of travel, we’ve put together a few useful tip that can help you save toward your next trip!
Save on subscriptions
This is an easy and relatively pain-free way to shave off those unnecessary expenses. Examine your subscriptions and consider whether a) they are essential and b) you can find a loophole to spend less. You might not really need that magazine every month that you briefly page through before you toss it aside, or that gym subscription that you hardly use.
If you subscribe to music streaming services such as Spotify or Apple music, or movie streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Showmax or Netflix, make a point of choosing your favourite one and cancelling the others. Once you’ve selected your favourite, you can look into getting together with friends or family to share an account, thereby significantly reducing your expenses.
Go the extra mile
You’ll be surprised at how much you can save by just putting in a little bit of extra effort: the premium you pay for convenience adds up! Scan your bank statements for routine expenses that you can do without or reduce. You might want to consider packing your lunch at home, or carrying a flask of coffee with you instead of paying for multiple coffees to go. Instead of rushing to the shops every evening before dinner, plan for the upcoming month and take a relaxed Saturday morning to buy everything you need in bulk (or order it online!) This way you’ll save on bulk deals.
Often cutting back on convenience not only helps you save, but also reduces your impact on the environment, so it’s a double win!
Flog your stuff
Let’s be real, most of our homes are filled with a whole bunch of stuff that we hardly ever used. If you haven’t used it in the past 6 months, chances are you won’t be needing it in the next 6 months either. Scan your house for things that don’t serve you anymore – that old sewing machine you never use, those golf clubs that haven’t seen daylight in a few years – and sell them off. Not only will it help flesh out your travel fund, but you’ll also be able to simplify and de-clutter your living space.
With the help of Facebook Marketplace, it’s also never been easier to pass on possessions you no longer have a need for. Snap a quick photo, upload it and usually in a matter of days you’ll have sold your stuff to someone that has much better use for it.
Ditch a bad habit
Got a bad habit that doesn’t serve you? This is the perfect opportunity to ditch it! Take the time to work out how much you spend on those cigarettes in a year and you’ll be kicking yourself. Maybe those post-work cocktails can be limited to one evening a week. You’ll be surprised by how much you can reduce your expenses by cutting back on habits that don’t necessarily add value to your life. Needless to say, you’ll be winning on two fronts: your body will thank you AND you’ll be watching your travel fund swell up!
Second hand clothing
As you may have picked up by now, there is often a correlation between saving money and protecting the earth: consumption does not serve our environment! Fast fashion is not only expensive, but also costs our environment. Instead, you could save up around 75% of a clothing item’s price by hunting for its second hand counterpart.
Plus, the thrill of finding a quality, stylish thrifted garment is incomparable with walking into a retailer and picking up whatever the latest trend may be.
Do free things
They say the best things in life are free! And how much better if you’re saving for an awesome trip overseas while you’re at it. Rather than pursuing activities that will cost you an arm and a leg, find ways to enjoy the place you live in free of charge. This could be something like having a picnic at a lake nearby, or looking for museums or exhibitions that don’t charge an entry fee. If you’re feeling altruistic, you could sacrifice your time to support a local charity.
If you’d like to build on your knowledge, there are a myriad of free resources on the internet to help you learn anything from coding to quantum mechanics. You may even want to consider using free apps to learn the local language of the next destination you plan on travelling to!
Save on luxuries
Okay, so self-care is all the rage these days, but what if your self care is travelling? You might want to think about cutting back on some luxuries so that you can allocate that money towards your next trip.
You can easily go with fewer haircuts, fewer visits to the spa or fewer manicures. You might have to “rough it” a little until your next trip but think of the satisfaction of booking that flight to an unfamiliar destination!
Saving money may seem daunting at times, but with these tips it’s definitely made a lot easier – without compromising your quality of life! Let us know how YOU save money for the next time you hit the road (or air!)
Sometimes the journey alone is the destination. Especially when we’re on holiday, we tend to pack our days with activities: things to do, things to see, things to tick off our bucket list. But sometimes the most precious moments are the ones in between: taking a deep breath of fresh, salty air, pulling over to take an unexpected dive in an icy tidal pool or maybe just rolling down the window of your car with your favourite song blasting.
Consider this. Maybe don’t plan your day this time, but pick a route and let a day of adventure unfold itself. Who knows, you could discover your new favourite coffee place on the way or capture the most magical photo you’ve ever taken. Cape Town is jam-packed with scenic drives that will knock your socks off every single time, no matter how many times you’ve done them! We put our heads together to come up with our absolute favourite drives in Cape Town. Give them a go!
Chapman’s Peak Drive
Okay, so this one’s a classic. In fact, it’s known as one of the world’s most scenic drives and it does not disappoint. Think 9 kilometres of coastline stretching from Noordhoek to Hout Bay, with panoramic views on the Atlantic Ocean on one side and a spectacular view of the Western Mountains of the Cape Peninsula on the other. Apart from the mind-blowing scenery, you might also want to take a moment to admire what an exceptional feat of engineering the road is. It took seven years to build (completed in 1922) and later received an excellence award for rockfall protection (that was in 2004).
The spectacular scenery looks even more magnificent in the evening light, so when you’re planning your drive, time it so you catch the sunset.
If the spectacular panoramic scenery itself isn’t enough of a highlight for you, you might want to keep a pair of binoculars handy: in the right season (typically toward the end of winter or early spring, so June through to November) it’s likely that you’ll be able to spot a Southern Right Whale. Your chances of a sighting are especially high during peak calving season, which is in July and August.
Don’t forget to bring:
If nothing else, bring your camera! There will be several arresting views you’ll want to hold on to forever. This is also the perfect drive to pack a picnic for there are areas where you can pull over perfect for a picnic. What better way to watch the sunset than with an Aperol Spritz and a snack in hand!
More practically, don’t forget to bring cash or your card or else you won’t be able to get past the toll gate. If you’re planning on doing some whale watching, be sure to pack your binoculars.
Muizenberg – Kalk Bay – Simon’s Town
This drive takes you along the eastern coast of the Cape Peninsula, from Muizenberg over Kalk Bay, to Simon’s Town. Apart from the beautiful scenery, the stops along the way are packed with cultural experiences and little gems of coffee shops and bakeries.
In Kalk Bay, make a stop at the harbour and order a traditional fish and chips. The fish is straight out of the ocean and tastes delicious. Take a walk along the harbour wall and you might just catch the fat resident seal scavenging for some leftovers.
Make a turn past the Ice Café in Kalk Bay, the unofficial purveyor of the best ice cream in Cape Town. They have a wide range of ice creams and sorbets, with something for everyone.
For more wildlife action, be sure to visit Boulder’s Beach, somewhat further along the coastline past Simon’s Town, where you can watch penguins bathing in the clear water.
Don’t forget to bring:
Be sure to pack your swimming trunks! This drive is littered with tidal pools that make the perfect refreshing pit stop for a dip in ocean water. The water on the Indian Ocean is warmer than on the Atlantic Ocean, but bring a sweater to keep you warm after your swim.
Gordon’s Bay – Hermanus
From Gordan’s Bay through to Hermanus, this drive takes you along another beautifully scenic route past a bay called Koel Baai. If you’re up for something more active, you can make a stop along the way for the Crystal Pool hiking trail. As the name suggests, this hike takes you past several beautiful pools perfect for swimming in.
On the right day with a light wind, you can stop off at Koel Baai Beach to take a walk on the pristine beach and watch surfers slide into barrels in crystalline waters.
Don’t forget to bring:
If you plan on hiking, bring a pair of good shoes. Otherwise, a good beach towel, an umbrella and some snacks will make for the perfect beach day at Koel Baai Beach.
For the ultimate road trip feel, head up the West Coast over Eland’s Bay to Lambert’s Bay. Once you’ve hit the open road, you’ll have dry, arid plains stretching out ahead of you. The raw natural beauty of this area is unmatched.
If you have the stamina, you can head all the way to Lambert’s Bay where you’ll find a magical open-air restaurant called Muisbosskerm. The restaurant offers an unrivalled buffet with a wide range of seafood, as well as magnificent sea views. Be sure to book in advance as it’s only open on certain days!
Don’t forget to bring:
Both in winter and summer, the air on the West Coast gets chilly in the evenings. Be sure to pack a warm jacket to keep comfortable!
We’ve barely scratched the surface of scenic drives in Cape Town, but these are undoubtedly some of the best – enjoy the ride!