The Western Cape is one of South Africa’s most popular destinations, and this journey de force takes you to the best of its many highlights. Choose to simply relax and drift along in Cape Town, Franschhoek and Knysna, or use them as bases for exploring three very different regions of the Cape. The possibilities are endless.
The Western Cape province, and South Africa's game reserves, are the two attractions that stand out above the rest. Most first time visitors try to squeeze both in. But it also makes sense to take your holiday at an easier pace and to do just one option. This journey focuses on three of the most scenic regions of the Western Cape.
It starts off in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful cities on the continent. A few days are hardly enough to explore all that the city has to offer. In fact, it will probably only whet your appetite to come back for more.
The second leg of the journey takes you to Franschhoek, the ‘epicentre’ of South African viniculture. And where there is good wine, fine dining is never far away. The Franschhoek valley is worth of a few days’ exploration in its own right, but if you have itchy feet, it is the perfect base for a number of beautiful day drives – for example, towards the coast or deeper into the mountains.
The final leg of this journey heads off to Knysna. The town grew up around the logging industry, but fortunately people saw sense and today the forests of the Garden Route are protected. And with a mixed coastline of cliffs and beaches, this part of the country has more than enough to keep you occupied for a few days, and you could not ask for a better base to explore it from than Knysna.
Cape Town almost always appears on lists of 'Top 10 Cities of the World', and with good reason. The natural beauty of its dramatic mountains and white beaches extends well beyond the city limits to the southern tip of the peninsula. It has hiking, climbing, mountain biking and water sports for outdoor enthusiasts, top restaurants and vineyards for foodies, and a variety of museums for more contemplative excursions. Its complex history has its dark side, with travesties like District Six and the incarceration of political prisoners on Robben Island during the apartheid years, but it has also contributed to making Cape Town one of the most culturally diverse cities on the continent - diversity that is evident in its people, its food, its creativity and much more. Stay for 4 nights on this trip, and we are certain you’ll want to come back for more.
The Cape Winelands is well known for its proliferation of estates and cellars, and beckons the leisurely traveller to meander along its various wine routes. Just east of Cape Town, the trendy towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek nestle in the shadow of the mountains, and are perhaps what spring to mind most readily when the Winelands are discussed. But the menu of choices runs into a long list of names. The more popular of these include Tulbagh, Wellington and Paarl to the north, and Worcester Robertson, McGregor, Bonnievale and Montagu along the popular ‘Route 62’ through the Breede River Valley. The landscape generally consists of craggy mountains interspersed with pastoral valleys. Steep rocky peaks plunge to gentler gradients rich in fynbos and proteas before levelling out into fertile valleys threaded with chortling streams. In these low-lying areas, suspended between the slopes, vineyards stretch in patchwork patterns. Like an artist’s palette the area changes with the seasons - from subtle spring pastels, through lush summer greens, to the earthy shades of autumn.
The temperate climate of the Garden Route makes it an ideal destination to visit at almost any time of the year, and it has been a favourite with local and overseas visitors for decades. It consists of a narrow stretch of land that is wedged in between the Indian Ocean, and the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains. There are gloriously long beaches, lush (by South African standards) forests, rugged coastlines, tranquil lagoons and amber rivers. (The rivers get their colouration from the tannins that leach out of the fynbos vegetation). Although the beaches are often promoted as the main attraction of the Garden Route, it is the forests that inspired its name. With their giant Outeniqua yellowwoods (podocarpus falcatus), bottomless gorges and impenetrable vines and ferns, the forests have long been an infatuation for those with a love of nature. Much of their depths remain unexplored and, thankfully, unexploited. Perhaps their greatest treasure is that they are home to a handful of Knysna elephants.
MannaBay is located in a prime position on the foothills of Table Mountain. It even has a gate leads directly from its grounds onto the mountain. From this perch, MannaBay looks down across the Mother City and the Atlantic bay area beyond.
From MannaBay, you can experience the Mother City in comfort and privacy, with a team of friendly staff dedicated to making every guest’s experience as special as possible. Enhanced by floor to ceiling glass windows throughout, the views are simply dazzling.
MannaBay’s premier suite and seven luxury en-suite bedrooms are each individually themed and artistically decorated. Most have a private terrace or balcony with ocean or mountain views, and each has its own highlights, from a private garden and plunge pool to eagle-eye top-floor views over the city and harbour. The ultra luxurious Versailles Suite features a splendid four-poster day bed on its spacious private balcony, an inside four-poster mirror bed, private sitting room, dressing room, and huge bathroom with opulent bathtub and walk-in shower.
MannaBay is a work of art that inspires, enlivens and delights. Children older than 12 years are welcome.
With dramatic mountains, a long stretch of Atlantic coastline and a picturesque working harbour, there are few cities to rival “The Fairest Cape”, as British explorer Sir Francis Drake described it in 1580. Its Mediterranean climate, superb natural attractions, historic landmarks and fabulous restaurants offer all the ingredients for a top holiday destination.
Key attractions include:
La Clé des Montagnes is located on a working wine estate in the heart of the beautiful Franschhoek valley. It is surrounded by picturesque vineyards and plum orchards, and the magnificent mountain backdrop completes its idyllic setting.
Each of La Clé des Montagnes’ four elegantly appointed two-, three- or four-bedroomed villas has been uniquely themed and decorated, and has its own special appeal, combining top class luxury and service, with the freedom, space and privacy treasured by discerning travellers. Each villa has a private swimming pool and features beautiful chandeliers and large fireplaces.
Whether you are a gourmand, enjoy excellent wine, or simply wish to soak up some of the unmatched beauty of the region, Franschhoek is a must on the itinerary of those who enjoy the finer things in life. La Clé des Montagnes is a short 200m stroll from the centre of the village.
The Cape Winelands are not only a delight for connoisseurs of fine wines; the towns themselves are centres for a host of enjoyable pastimes. Many are steeped in history and have magnificent collections of traditional Cape Dutch and period architecture, best viewed during a stroll along the leafy streets. The historic Church Street in Tulbagh has the largest concentration of provincial monuments in one street in South Africa.
The university town of Stellenbosch, with its oak-lined boulevards, is the second-oldest town in the country, dating back to 1671. Today it is an important cultural centre with a host of galleries and museums and the country’s oldest music school.
Franschhoek, reclining in a somnolent valley ambience, entices gourmets to sample its fare at some of South Africa’s best restaurants.
The winelands is a great region in South Africa in which to enjoy a leisurely trip along minor roads that fade into the fynbos. Roads that will take you into valleys and gorges, past barns stacked with bales of lucerne, and paddocks with grazing sheep and lazing cows. Dams mirror the sky and hillsides, their reflections rippled by preening waterbirds. For centuries the terroir here has been ideally suited to the production of great wine and today, more than ever before, it is also conducive to the making of good times and fond memories.
Nestled on a clifftop in the heart of the Garden Route, Plettenberg Park is situated on 200 hectares of land with 3 kilometres of cliff-faced shoreline. The park contains three natural wetlands and a large dam filled with bass. The indigenous vegetation consists of fynbos and proteas, and the park abounds with small animals.
The ten luxurious bedrooms at Plettenberg Park are aligned in two wings and offer a selection of ocean, lake or pool views. Each room has a private balcony and features large sleigh beds, separate bath and shower, and a range of luxury amenities. The architecture is refreshingly simple, with long lines running unobtrusively along the length of the building creating spacious windows and wide terraces.
The holiday hotspot of Plettenberg Bay is only minutes away, making the hotel ideally situated to access a host of activities and attractions in the area.
The accent at Plettenberg Park is on time-honoured values, excellent personal service and superb cuisine. Catering for the most discerning tastes, the hotel has played host to many distinguished guests over the years.
The Garden Route encompasses a long, thin stretch of land along the southern coast of the Cape. To the north, it is contained by the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains, which are always just a little distance into the interior. The Garden Route has gloriously long beaches, lush (by South African standards) forests, rugged coastlines, tranquil lagoons and amber rivers.
Larger towns include the likes of Mossel Bay and George, but it is the smaller enclaves of Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Witsand and Nature’s Valley that draw leisure travellers back year after year.
Rivers tumbling from the mountain slopes have carved the landscape into deep gorges and twisting valleys, shaded by steep slopes and plunging cliffs. The Keurbooms and Knysna rivers flow into tidal lagoons at Plettenberg Bay and Knysna respectively. Sedgefield Lagoon, which is open to the sea, is fed by Swartvlei, the biggest body of water in an area commonly referred to as South Africa’s ‘Lake District’.
A large swathe of this region is protected within the Garden Route National Park. However, due to early development of the region, the park is fragmented into smaller sections and has no fixed beginning or end. The Wilderness National Park, the Tsitsikamma National Park and the Knysna Lakes area are some of the better-known sections within the greater park.
More recently, the Garden Route has seen the establishment of a number of top class game reserves. These are very popular due to their proximity to Cape Town, and the fact that malaria does not occur this far south.
This safari commences and ends in Cape Town, South Africa