Real Non-Honeymoon: South Africa (Part 2)

Monday’s blog post was mostly about my sister Elisa’s awesome safari experience in South Africa. Read on to learn about her favorite restaurants and things they did in and around Cape Town.

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Cape Town:

During our time in South Africa we spent 5 days in Cape Town and absolutely loved it! Below is a list of our Cape Town favorites.

Group shot at the top of Lion's Head

Group shot at the top of Lion’s Head

Dining:

  • The Grand Café & Beach: Casual, shabby-chic waterfront dining on the beach in Cape Town. The perfect place for lunch and/or cocktails near the V&A Waterfront.
  • Paranga: Located in Camps Bay along the sunset strip of the Atlantic Seaboard. A modern and artsy location for sunset dinner and drinks with an ocean view.
  • Harbour House: Beautiful, waterfront dining, perfect for lunch or dinner. Amazing views, amazing décor, amazing food! (There are two locations and we visited the location in Kalk Bay during our drive around the Cape.)
  • The Roundhouse Restaurant: My boyfriend made our reservation at The Roundhouse Restaurant about a month prior to our trip. The Roundhouse is one of the country’s top 20 restaurants and located in a wooded valley overlooking Camps Bay. Our dinner was 7 courses, the menu was personalized with our names and the service was over the top! An extremely special dining experience! Also, arrive early for your reservation and enjoy a sunset cocktail in the gardens overlooking Camps Bay!
  • Gold Restaurant: A cultural and FUN African experience. I read of this restaurant on a previous Peonies to Palm Trees post and knew that I had to go! The night consisted of face painting, dancing, drumming and a 14-course traditional African meal! It was a wonderful evening!
Dinner (and makeover) at Gold Restaurant. Look familiar?

Dinner (and makeover) at Gold Restaurant. Look familiar?

Full-Day Drive of the Cape:

One of the best decisions we made was to hire a private driver and guide to take us on a full-day tour of the Cape! We started at Table Mountain where we took the cable car to the top. At the summit, we walked around, got a coffee at the café, and enjoyed the view.

Next, we visited the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden located against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and acclaimed as one of the “greatest botanic gardens of the world.”

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

After, we drove through Muizenberg (cute surfer town, known for their colorful houses) to Kalk Bay where we stopped for an oceanfront lunch at Harbour House. Next, we proceeded to Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town, famous for their penguin colony. (Seeing the beautiful, little penguins on the beach in South Africa was definitely a trip highlight!)

Boulder's Beach Penguin Colony

Boulder’s Beach Penguin Colony

Penguins deserve TWO photos

Penguins deserve TWO photos

We then cut across and continued around the cape to Hout Bay where we stopped at Chapman’s Peak to enjoy the incredible view as the sun was setting. Lastly, we ended in Camps Bay/Clifton for a sunset dinner at Paranga!

Beautiful view of Hout Bay

Beautiful view of Hout Bay

Full-Day Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch/Franschhoek:

After Cape Town was finalized in our South Africa itinerary, we knew that wine tasting in Stellenbosch/Franschhoek was a necessity! We hired a driver for the day and visited four wineries which I highly recommend: Jordan Wine Estate, Kanonkop, Delaire Wine Estate, and Rust and Vrede. Additionally, we had a beautiful 5-course lunch overlooking the vineyards at Overture Restaurant at Hidden Valley.

Autumn colors in Stellenbosch

Autumn colors in Stellenbosch

Hiking Lion’s Head:

One of my favorite excursions was hiking Lion’s Head, a mountain peak located between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. The hike takes about 3 hours roundtrip and includes climbing boulders and the option of using chains/ladders along some of the ridges. The summit boasts an incredible 360 degree view of Cape Town. Hands down one of the best hikes I have ever done!

Dylan chilling at the top of Lion's Head

Dylan chilling at the top of Lion’s Head

High Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel:

I cannot say enough good things about High Tea at the historic Mount Nelson Hotel!  The hotel was elegant and luxurious, and the service was exceptional. The spread of desserts was impressive, and tea, sandwiches, and savories were brought right to our table on a three-tiered stand. Excellent presentation, fabulous food, and an overall wonderful experience.

Tea time!

Tea time!

(Lastly, another favorite part of my trip was meeting my boyfriend’s South African family! They were all so warm and welcoming. We cannot wait to go back!)

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change..

We rented a car and GPS for the first 10 days of our trip because our itinerary consisted of several long drives to get us to various destinations throughout the country. I appreciated this aspect of our trip because it allowed for me to see a lot of South Africa that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Initially, our GPS was spot-on and extremely helpful; however, we ran into some issues when it came to navigating the dirt roads of the bush. My advice: use a map and don’t solely rely on GPS!

How much planning did you do in advance?

Quite a bit of planning was done in advance to prepare for our vacation! Our hotel, car and safari reservations were secured before our trip. Additionally, we reserved two full-day tours with a private driver and guide and two special dinners for our time in Cape Town.  These reservations were made with the assistance of my boyfriend, his father, and a travel agent from Gecko Africa. For Cape Town, we had an idea of restaurants, hikes, and excursions that we were interested in, but left a few days open to plan the trip out as it progressed.

Also, I highly recommend the “Cape Town Louis Vuitton City Guide.” This book includes chapters on the neighborhoods, hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars, tearooms, farmers markets, nightlife, hikes, shops, arts/culture, wineries, full-city tours, and more! I carried this book with me during our trip and used it several times.

Cape Town

Cape Town

What was your biggest travel splurge?

Staying at Exeter River Lodge.

Where do you want to go on your next big trip?

We would love to go to Spain or Greece!

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