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29 November 2023

Cape Town - Christmas and Gift Markets 2023















    For Accommodation Cape Town, South Africa


23 October 2023

South Africa - Riebeek Kasteel


Riebeek Kasteel is an interesting and quirky town nestled in a beautiful valley in the Swartland region of South Africa. Ideal for either a day's trip from cape Town or an extended week-end visit.

The Swartland Wine and Olive route includes towns such as Piketberg, Koring berg, Malmesbury, Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel. Olive farming started in the late 1980's and is now one of the primary olive oil producing regions of South Africa.

Royal Hotel Riebeek Kasteel

The early settlers called this area :Het Zwarleland (the black land) because of the Renosterbos (Rhino bush) that dotted the landscape making everything look dark grey. They planted crops such as wheat, vegetables and vineyards for their own use. At that stage nobody would ever have dreamed that these original vineyards would put the Swartland region on the global map.

The area around Riebeek Kasteel, Riebeek West, Gouda (with the large windfarm) Hermon and back to Riebeek Kasteel offers some stunning landscapes with vineyards planted for miles and miles. The Kasteelberg mountain offers a hiking trail from Pulpit Rock Winery but this is not for the feint-hearted so do take care before attempting this trail. 

There are over 40 dams in this area - all looking very full after the winter rains. Farm roads just beg to be explored - there is nothing more fun than wandering down a gravel road and seeing another vehicle with its dust cloud hurtling towards you. Farmers don't slow down on these roads -they drive them daily and have their sturdy 4X4's to keep them safe! 

The shops in the village of Riebeek Kasteel are well worth exploring - from a quirky store selling old "junk" and much more to the wine boutique or "Crystal and Twine" where there are 2 floors of gorgeous goods on sale. Rabbits are all over in many shapes and forms in the beautiful store - if that rocks your boat.

Restaurants are many and varied - too many to try over 1 week-end. So check out the Reviews and pick those that grab your fancy the most. You could happily eat out for 2 weeks and not go to the same place twice. We enjoyed Eight Feet Village up on the Bothmaskloof Pass.  Run by the 4 du Toit brothers this was a happy place as Pieter-Steph du Toit is currently playing in the Rugby World Cup with the South African Springbok team.

The Kloovenburg Wine and Olive farm is well worth a visit. 

However, there are numerous other wine farms open to the public such as Pulpit Rock, Allesverloren Wine Estate, Het Vlock Casteel, and the Wine Kollective. 

See their information on the link below.


 Further afield we stopped outside the PPC Cement Factory near Riebeek West - fascinating to see this huge plant with all the conveyor belts, creaking and groaning as they work at breaking down the stones. The company name is Pretoria Portland Cement and was started in South Africa as far back as 1892 with the Riebeek West plant from 1946. General Smuts birthplace is in the grounds here and can be visited.  

 There are numerous artists living in Riebeek Kasteel and their work can be seen in and around the village. Do take a wander down a side road (12 Royal Street) to view the stunning collection of photographs in this beautiful gallery named Pictorex.  

There is also work in the old shelter on the square by Cape Town Street artist Folko One

"Falko One is now known as one of the most important (and earliest) street artists in the world, and if you’re lucky enough to track down his paintings—many of which are on the sides of buildings or people’s homes in poorer neighborhoods (he always makes sure it’s OK before letting loose)—you’ll find some of the most awe-inspiring work on the planet.

One of his favorite subjects? Elephants, which take on psychedelic hues like purple, bronze, pink, and baby blue. He’s also known to do caricatures of faces, birds, and the occasional gorilla.

There’s a fairytale ending to this story, of course. He finally got landed major sponsorship bucks from Red Bull, so he’s traveling the world making art for a living."

So, all in all, a fun place to visit = whether for wine tasting, olive tasting, eating out, shopping, visiting galleries, hiking to Pulpit Rock, driving dusty country roads or just sitting on the "stoep" of your B&B or Hotel watching the world go by.

    For Accommodation Cape Town, South Africa

24 September 2023

Cape Town - Cape Point Nature Reserve


Cape Point Nature Reserve remains one of our favourite places to visit even though we are Cape Town locals!

It is such an awe-inspiring part of the Cape Peninsula that one cannot ever really get tired of exploring this part of Cape Town.

We normally drive as many of the side roads as possibly on our visits - this kiln was about 1890 and it is interesting to view from all angles! For those interested in the history of the early lime kilns check out the article below.

Taking the road to Black Rocks, you are most likely to see many surfers during the summer months - there was only one brave soul out when we visited on a chilly winter's afternoon. 
This lone surfer was having a wonderful time, surfing the waves all on his own. We would not recommend that you, as a tourist, do this without having a "buddy" with you. This is a peaceful spot to sit and watch the surfers having fun in the waves. 

Next up is Bordjiesrif - there are many "braai" places here as well as a tidal pool. So it's a very popular spot during the summer months. On our visit, the ostriches had the run of the area - they were peacefully pecking away until a rather noisy vehicle came down the road too fast - the male ostrich showed his displeasure by uttering very loud noises - in any other language, these would have been choice swear words I am sure. They were most indignant that their peace was disturbed!
Just remember never to get too close to an ostrich - if you are ever chased, lie down flat - being stamped on is the lesser of the two evils when being chased and caught by an angry ostrich. All the animals in the park are wild - be mindful that it remains their home and we are the visitors only. 

One of our favourite beaches in Cape Point remains Buffels Bay - it was Spring Tide when we visited this time so the tide was high up on the beach so we could not do our normal walk. There is a gorgeous tidal pool and plenty of picnic spots here. In summer, an early arrival is required to get a spot for the day. The sea is constantly changing colour and just begs one to stroll along, take a swim, soak up the atmosphere, watch the waves and just chill with friends or family or even as a Solo Traveller. 

  There are numerous hiking trails in the reserve so do take some time out to explore at least one of those such as the Shipwreck Trail. Take the Olifantsbos turn-off to access this trail of approx 3.5km. Take care during stormy weather and during the heat of summer, endure that you have plenty of water. 

Platboom Beach is totally unspoilt and offers great views and dunes. It's wild and untamed here and the wind can be fearsome. If you really want to enjoy a beach walk that will blow all the cobwebs away, this is it!

Getting to the top of the old lighthouse (completed in 1859) uses up some energy as well as it is a fairly steep climb with many steps. For those who prefer a shorter walk to the top, the funicular offers a fun ride! The views are spectacular and it really is a must do and see. The "new" lighthouse is much lower down and this was completed in 1911. It has a range of 60 km so keeps ships safe from any treacherous rocks while rounding the Cape.

The most famous spot of all remains a photo shoot at the sign of Cape of Good Hope.
Everybody who visits Cape Point Nature Reserve gets a photo taken here. There is another steep walk upwards from this point - well worth the effort. Watch out for baboons - don't leave doors open or food within easy reach. This is the most South-Western part of the African continent but not the most southerly - that distinction goes to Cape Agulhas much further down the coast. The photo below was a grab shot before the next group of tourists arrived - the wind was fearsome and the temperature decidedly chilly.

There are many tour companies to choose from if you don't have a hire car and the Red Bus Cape Explorer is very popular. However, if you really want to enjoy Cape Point Nature Reserve a Self-Drive is an absolute must. Hiking, enjoying a picnic, a swim in the "not very warm" sea during the summer months or just to enjoy the bracing air and beauty of this iconic area of Cape Town.

On the day I took this photo at Neptune's Dairy, the seas were very rough due to a cold front hitting the Cape Peninsula. Combined with Spring tides, waves were huge and the resultant foam made for interesting captures. 

There is always something to view in the Cape of Good Hope: from the dramatic cliffs, the bird life, buck or ostrich, either calm or stormy seas, and so much natural flora.- do try and spend more time in this beautiful area of Cape Town. Breathe in and restore your balance - no better place to be even on a wild and windy day. 

    For Accommodation Cape Town, South Africa


18 September 2023

Cape Town - Chapman's Peak Drive


Chapman's Peak Drive in Cape Town is an absolute "must see". The locals refer to this drive as "Chappies" The drive was named after John Chapman who was a Captain's mate on the English vessel, the Consent. It's an engineering feat of epic proportions.

The road from Hout Bay to Noordhoek was ordered by Sir Frederik de Waal, an Administrator of the Cape at the time in the early 1900's. The road took 7 years to complete and was opened in 1922. It remains an incredible feat of engineering. Despite the numerous issues over the years with rock falls and mud slides, the road was widened and further drastic safety measure were put in place after 4 fatalities. The road was closed in 2000 for rock fall measures to be implemented.

"The rock fall protection measures implemented at Chapman’s Peak Drive were selected on the basis of what is considered to be best international practice and consists of a half tunnel, catch fences, slope stabilisation and canopy structures. In 2004, Chapman’s Peak Drive received an excellence award for rock fall protection"
For the full story see:


  • Winner of the SAACE National Award for Engineering Excellence (2004)
  • Winner of the SAFCEC National President’s Award (2004)
  • Winner of the Bentley Systems prestigious international award (civil Design) for 3D and 2D rockfall hazard analysis and design using the Microstation suite of geospatial software packages (2004)
  • Runner-up in SAICE’s National Award for Excellence in Civil Engineering (2004)

Today, this drive is done in various ways.....see above! Cyclists love "Chappies"; runners either love or hate "Chappies" yet they come back for more all the time. Take a Tour bus if you don't feel like driving yourself but if you are an adventurous spirit then maybe hiring a "Cobra" will do it for you. 
Check out their website:

The road is 9km long and offers 114 curves - it is truly a "must see" iconic drive. Personally, I would recommend that this road is done in both directions so perhaps start in Hout Bay, take a slow drive to Noordhoek, stopping at the view points along the way before reaching Noordhoek, a sleepy, rural part of Cape Town. You can stop in at Noordhoek Farm Village for lunch before driving back towards Hout Bay where you could enjoy sundowners at one of the many restaurants in the area. For those who love picnics, there are numerous tables with amazing views. There is also a Day Pass if you want to return again for a picnic. Currently, this is free of charge.

Chapmans' Peak Drive is a huge favourite with cyclists - both local and international so do take care if driving as there are numerous groups plus individuals cycling, especially over week-ends. The uphill slog does slow them down somewhat and there are usually large groups taking a breather near the top but those going downhill get up to high speeds and whizz by, enjoying this exhilarating ride. It's not for the feint-hearted though or a novice cyclist.

For more information, plus tariffs or road closures, check out the official website 

    For Accommodation Cape Town, South Africa