Questions about Cape Town/South Africa? Ask a Capetonian!

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#1
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Hi all

I see there are a number of threads asking various questions and for suggestions on activities in Cape Town and other parts of SA. I have lived in Cape Town for over 10 years now (previously was in Zimbabwe), so know these parts pretty well, and have been fortunate to travel relatively extensively.

I am new to these boards, so don't have the time to go through all the individual threads, but thought I would offer my help, where I can, in this thread. So please feel free to fire away, and I will try be of help as often as possible.

(Admin, if this is not allowed, please feel free to lock/delete this thread, no offense will be taken! )
#2
Greenville, SC, USA
52,274 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Welcome to Cruise Critic. We love your city. We have been there 4 times each for about 4 days. Thanks for your offer of help.
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Paul
#3
729 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Thank you for your offer. As long as you are making recommendations from personal experience, I don't believe there is any problem.

Here are a couple of ideas of things which might be helpful:

Your 5 (or more) favorite things to do (or places to visit):
Your 5 (or more) favorite restaurants
#4
1,293 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
We have been to a private lodge in Sabi Sands for a safari and also did a self drive safari in Kruger. Really enjoyed our days in Kruger.

We have also spent time in the past in Cape Town doing the tourist things. We will again be in Cape Town for three days on a cruise and are looking for something different to do.

I thought about renting a car and driving to Sanbona for a night then back to a nice B&B in the wine area for an over night. We want a break from the confines of the ship. The idea of a couple of game drives and maybe a quaint B&B with a good wine and food pairing meal is appealing.

I know we won't see as many animals in Sanbona, but is it even worth the drive. We enjoy driving and have driven in SA so I am not worried about the actual driving or time to do it, just about the lodge and area as a whole.

Thanks
#5
ohio
47 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
I am planning to spend a couple of days in the Winelands in Jan.
Could you recommend a couple of wineriers to visit and restaurants for lunch or dinner. Thanks
#6
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Apologies folks, it has been an incredibly busy week. Will get to your questions this weekend, so stay tuned!


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#7
Perth, Australia
201 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
Hi -

Are you able to recommend a company that offers a chauffeured car hire service? We are looking to do a full day tour out of Cape Town on one of our days there.

Thanks
Beth
#8
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by cwn
We have been to a private lodge in Sabi Sands for a safari and also did a self drive safari in Kruger. Really enjoyed our days in Kruger.

We have also spent time in the past in Cape Town doing the tourist things. We will again be in Cape Town for three days on a cruise and are looking for something different to do.

I thought about renting a car and driving to Sanbona for a night then back to a nice B&B in the wine area for an over night. We want a break from the confines of the ship. The idea of a couple of game drives and maybe a quaint B&B with a good wine and food pairing meal is appealing.

I know we won't see as many animals in Sanbona, but is it even worth the drive. We enjoy driving and have driven in SA so I am not worried about the actual driving or time to do it, just about the lodge and area as a whole.

Thanks
It's a nice drive, and Sanbona is a lovely reserve, especially Dwyka tented camp. Enjoy the vast landscapes and solitude, the piece and quiet, and if you see any game that is a bonus, but Cape Town and surrounds are, as you quite correctly state, not the best area for big game viewing. But certainly I would recommend it for "getting away from the hoards"...

If driving out there, try take a couple of alternative routes than following the main N1 highway all the way (if time allows). For example, instead of taking the tolled Huguenot tunnel on the N1, rather take the alternative windy road over the mountain, which provides for fantastic views. Also, on your way there, or on the way back, stop in Robertson, which has several excellent wine estates and restaurants, as an alternative to the typical (but still excellent) wine areas such as Stellenbosch and Franschoek. If you want to stay a night over in Robertson, try the Robertson Small Hotel, or there are several excellent guest houses as alternatives. Off the top of my head, Van Loveren wine estate has excellent tastings and food.

Most of all, relax, take your time, and enjoy! Nothing worse than rushing through.
#9
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by bronbeth
Hi -

Are you able to recommend a company that offers a chauffeured car hire service? We are looking to do a full day tour out of Cape Town on one of our days there.

Thanks
Beth
Hi Beth

I have not had the pleasure of using any of our local tour companies for a day tour (obviously I just drive and guide myself! ). But, based on feedback, I can recommend African Eagle Tours. They have a number of packaged tours, or you can make your own, and I believe they also offer the option of a private (as opposed to a group) tour, if you prefer to have the privacy and flexibility a private tour offers.

Another option is Cape Town Day Tours, but they are a little lesser known entity to me. It may be worth getting in touch with them as well though, just to make sure African Eagle is not charging too much, or if African Eagle don't offer what you are looking for. CTDT are a smaller company than African Eagle, so the service may be more personal.
#10
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by jtslattery
I am planning to spend a couple of days in the Winelands in Jan.
Could you recommend a couple of wineriers to visit and restaurants for lunch or dinner. Thanks
Hi JT

It is very difficult to recommend one or two wineries, given the diverse wine Cape Town has to offer! What I would recommend, is that you pick one of the wine routes, and just leisurely travel down it, popping in to the wine estates on both sides of the route, and see what takes your fancy (or try them all! ). My recommendations would be to choose either the Stellenbosch, or Paarl/Franschhoek wine route, but if time is short, there are a couple of excellent wine estates in Constantia Valley, which is closer to town (20 minutes drive).

A few worth popping into in Constantia include Groot Constantia, Constantia Uitsig, Klein Constantia, and Steenberg. Almost all have excellent restaurants for lunch and dinner, and you can't really go wrong with any. Constantia Uitsig has the famous La Colombe restaurant, but book months in advance if you want to eat there (but definitely worth it!). Another eating option in the area is the Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, another of Cape Town's top restaurants.
#11
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by artbcpa
Thank you for your offer. As long as you are making recommendations from personal experience, I don't believe there is any problem.

Here are a couple of ideas of things which might be helpful:

Your 5 (or more) favorite things to do (or places to visit):
Your 5 (or more) favorite restaurants
Here goes!

Things To do

- If you are in Cape Town during the summer months (November to March/April), which I should imagine is the peak time for cruise arrivals, then a fantastic afternoon/evening activity is to take in one of the open-air concerts at Kirstenbosch gardens, which are held every Sunday evening, and normally feature local artists and bands, including the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Take a picnic blanket, arrive a bit earlier and grab a nice spot on the grass, and enjoy a fantastic evening. You can also take a picnic basket and drinks with you, or order and grab at the venue.


- Staying with Kirsenbosch, if you are the more active type, explore Kirstenbosch gardens, and then take one of several paths that leads up the mountain and go for a bit of a hike above the gardens, providing various great views of the city, surrounds, and two oceans.


- Elephant's Eye Cave hike, in the Silvermine reserve - a relatively relaxing hike, and beautiful scenery and views http://namibsands.wordpress.com/2010...at-silvermine/


- Driving - Cape Town and surrounds is a lovely place to just take a leisurely drive around, starting in the CBD, follow the waterfront around the peninsula through Camps Bay past the 12 Apostles to Hout Bay, and then around the awe-inspiring Chapman's Peak Drive through to Noordhoek and its incredible long white beaches. With more time, continue from there to Fish Hoek and then to Cape Point and its nature reserve. I would also highly suggest a drive up the West Coast, with spectacular views of Table Mountain. Cutting across, you start to hit wine country, which has lots of lazy, winding and scenic mountainous roads. Take your time, stop wherever it takes your fancy, and enjoy the diversity that Cape Town has to offer, from landscapes and scenery, to wine farms, farm stalls, ocean-view cafes and bars, nature reserves, etc.


- High Tea - the only place for high tea in Cape town, at the Mount Nelson Hotel! Enjoy the gardens whilst you are there.



- Robertson - lesser known wine region, and slightly further from the usual touristy spots, but worth the drive, as it has excellent wines, some very good restaurants, and nice little places to stay. Around the year they have certain wine and food festivals as well.


- Food and Craft Markets - Cape Town has lots of morning markets, normally Saturday, which are fantastic to visit and just chill. Some of my favourite include the market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, the Hout Bay market, and the Saturday morning market at Laborie wine farm in Paarl.


- Wine Tasting - of course! Just pick one of the main wine routes (Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Durbanville Hills, Constantia), and just lazily drive along and pop into each.


- Table Mountain - for the adventurous and active, rather than take the cable car, hike up instead! Make sure you are properly kitted out, take a trail map, and start earlier in the day whilst it is still cool and there is lots of daylight.


- Lions Head and Rhodes Memorial - both awesome places for views, Lions Head especially for the beautiful summer sunsets and sundowners!


- Walk around the CBD - Cape Town CBD is a lovely city, and it is worth, if you have the time, exploring it by foot. Start down the International Convention Centre end, and just take a leisurely stroll up, through St. George's Mall and into Company Gardens. Lots of vibey little coffee bars, pubs and cafes to pop into, and lots of informal markets selling little trinkets. Don't get bullied into buying something you don't want, for too much! Always haggle, but remember, at the end of the day, in local currency what you eventually pay is probably very little when converted to US$, pounds or Euros, so don't be too stingy! ;-) You can also take a stroll along the World Cup fan walk, which starts from the CBD and takes you to the Cape Town stadium in Greenpoint, which is worth a look. Continue past it, and you end up in the lovely surrounding gardens and park, and ultimately in Sea Point. Take a stroll along the Seapoint promenade next to the water in the afternoon, really nice walk, and the locals come down to walk their dogs, do pilates, or go for a jog.


- Franschhoek Motor Museum - really lovely private car collection, with various makes from over a century, in a fantastic setting on L'Ormarin's Estate. A must see if you are even slightly interested in anything automotive, and it even tends to fascinate those who aren't!



Places to Eat


Much like wine estates, Cape Town is blessed with a wide variety of excellent, world-class restaurants. Some of my favourite, in no particular order:


- The Test Kitchen - make sure you book months in advance, and prepare to spend a few hours there marvelling at the art that arrives on a plate. And that is before you taste it!


- La Mouette - lovely little place in Greenpoint/Seapoint area.


- La Colombe - excellent, deserves its stellar reputation


- Bizerca Bistro - more informal than the above, but probably a contender for my number 1 favourite. Menu changes daily, always fresh ingredients.


- Bombay Brasserie - for a "fancy" curry.


- Eastern Food Bazaar - for a "basic" curry, but just as tasty, and dead cheap!


- And Union - great craft beer and wine bar, favourite of locals after work, also serve rustic but very tasty German and Portuguese fare


- The Crypt Jazz Restaurant - in the crypt underneath Cape Town's St. Georges Cathedral. Enjoy the unique surroundings and great live jazz music every night whilst having a bite to eat.


- Azure Restaurant - at the 12 Apostle's Hotel, absolutely stunning views over the ocean whilst sitting on the deck, and really good food is a bonus!


- Den Anker - my favourite place to eat at the V&A Waterfront. Good food, excellent beer and wine, nice location.

These are but a sample, you need to spend several years in Cape Town to experience everything!
#12
Bay Area, California
699 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
I know you are in Capetown, but we have 3-5 days in Johannesburg in early to mid October. 1. Wondering what are the key things to see/do, 2. should we take a day and night to Sun City? 3. We are flying to Richard's bay to go to a Safari resort and thinking of a nite or two there. 4. Finally, do you have suggestions of good tour companies in Johannesburg?

Thanks!
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#13
Perth, Australia
201 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
Originally posted by Zimbo
Hi Beth

I have not had the pleasure of using any of our local tour companies for a day tour (obviously I just drive and guide myself! ). But, based on feedback, I can recommend African Eagle Tours. They have a number of packaged tours, or you can make your own, and I believe they also offer the option of a private (as opposed to a group) tour, if you prefer to have the privacy and flexibility a private tour offers.

Another option is Cape Town Day Tours, but they are a little lesser known entity to me. It may be worth getting in touch with them as well though, just to make sure African Eagle is not charging too much, or if African Eagle don't offer what you are looking for. CTDT are a smaller company than African Eagle, so the service may be more personal.
Thanks for taking the time to answer. Looking forward to another stop in Capetown!
#14
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by cookiersmom
I know you are in Capetown, but we have 3-5 days in Johannesburg in early to mid October. 1. Wondering what are the key things to see/do, 2. should we take a day and night to Sun City? 3. We are flying to Richard's bay to go to a Safari resort and thinking of a nite or two there. 4. Finally, do you have suggestions of good tour companies in Johannesburg?

Thanks!
I do not know Joburg that well (and I am sure native Joburgers would strangle me for saying this!) but I don't think there is really that much to do in the city and immediate surrounds. One option is the Hop On Hop Off bus, which has just started in Joburg and should be a good way to see all the main sights in an easy manner. If you search for their website (the "red" bus), they have maps showing the routes and the main sights.

My personal opinion is that Sun City is not worth seeing. It is a bit like a very poor version of Disneyland (or i can imagine, a Donald Trump-style resort?!) - very ostentatious, fake, and overpriced. I'd much rather take the 3-5 days and travel to the Kruger Park area and surrounds, where there are numerous world-class and award winning camps to stay in. Even if wild game viewing is not your thing, the solitude, scenery and 5-star service of these camps will make it a time to remember.


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#15
357 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by Zimbo
Hi Beth

I have not had the pleasure of using any of our local tour companies for a day tour (obviously I just drive and guide myself! ). But, based on feedback, I can recommend African Eagle Tours. They have a number of packaged tours, or you can make your own, and I believe they also offer the option of a private (as opposed to a group) tour, if you prefer to have the privacy and flexibility a private tour offers........
We used African Eagle Tours and would happily recommend them. We were in Cape Town late October in 2011 and took a day trip to Hermanus with them, where we were able to "Whale watch" from shore. The cost then was R690 pp

We also used Cape Convoy Tours for their "Cape Town Uncovered’ 2 day tour R999 pp - I would highly recommend this company as well.
#16
357 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by cookiersmom
I know you are in Capetown, but we have 3-5 days in Johannesburg in early to mid October. 1. Wondering what are the key things to see/do, 2. should we take a day and night to Sun City? 3. We are flying to Richard's bay to go to a Safari resort and thinking of a nite or two there. 4. Finally, do you have suggestions of good tour companies in Johannesburg?

Thanks!
I can highly recommend Felling Tours in Johannesburg (see Trip Advisor). We took a trip to Soweto with them and visited the Mandela House, the Apartheid Museum and had lunch at a local restaurant, all very enjoyable and informative. As part of this tour we also visited Kliptown a township where there is only 1 Portaloo per 15 families, 1 tap per block of houses and no electricity (legally!!). There is an amazing Youth program running there, where older youths are mentoring the young & meals are being provided for about 350 people before and after school. The young gentleman who showed us around was very optimistic about the future.
Their mission "is to eradicate the poverty of mind, body, and soul and to fight against the disadvantages imposed on the children of Kliptown, by providing educational support and after school activities. It seeks to develop young and dynamic individuals who are willing to contribute effectively for the betterment of their community."
This was an unforgettable experience.
#17
Clermont, FL
1,289 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
We plan to do a three nite pre cruise Safari with some company in Kruger National Park.

What is the best way to get to Kruger from Capetown?

Given that the summer heat will drive the animals into the dead of nite, when is the best time of year to do a Safari?

Are there day tours to all of the wine regions from Capetown hotels?
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#18
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by floridatravelersforlife
We plan to do a three nite pre cruise Safari with some company in Kruger National Park.

What is the best way to get to Kruger from Capetown?

Given that the summer heat will drive the animals into the dead of nite, when is the best time of year to do a Safari?

Are there day tours to all of the wine regions from Capetown hotels?
Best way to get from Cape Town to Kruger is to fly direct from Cape Town to Hoedspruit. I believe there are around 3 flights a week scheduled. Your safari company should be able to organize transport from there to your accommodation in the Kruger. The other option is Nelspruit further south, but then you would have to go via Johannesburg, which is inconvenient.

In my opinion, best time to visit is around August. This is towards the end of winter, so temperatures are largely pleasant. It is also before the start of the rainy season, so the bush is dry and the animals roam more to seek water, often gathering at larger known waterholes which do not dry up. Hence you have a better chance of seeing a wider variety of wildlife.

Most decent Cape Town hotels will be able to organize day tours to the various wine regions, and will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. May be difficult to fit all of the wine regions into only a one day tour though. I would say it would take a good two to three days to sample all the main ones.

Hope this info is of some help!


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#19
Clermont, FL
1,289 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Thanks

Interesting that you pick August. Most cruises are there from Dec to April which is not good for side excursions for Safari.

It seems Kruger Park is well developed and independent reservations for travel and on site camps is relatively easy?
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#20
Charleston, SC
113 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Sounds like we can just pop in for wine tours and no reservations are needed??

We have a full day driver hired. I want to squeeze in a lot. Can we do the coast drive in the morning and spend the afternoon in the wine region with a couple of wine tastings? How long would this take

Have you ever been to Botswana or Zimbabwe? We are going onto Victoria Falls and then on the Zambezi Queen Riverboat. I have been on cruise critic mainly looking for the river cruise reviews.

Thanks in advance for your time and help