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First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

North Yorkshire...
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First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

We have recently returned from our first trip to the Western Cape and while we didn't venture too far we did give ourselves a marvellous taster of the area. We spent 3 nights in Hermanus, 3 nights in Franschhoek and 8 nights in Cape Town and I was happy with this division. The only thing I would maybe do differently is take a couple of the Cape Town nights and put them in Camps Bay. I know it is easy enough to taxi between the 2 but I am a firm believer that you don't really get a proper feel for a place unless you sleep there.

It was too long a holiday to do too detailed a trip report but I have written up loads of reviews which have all been published now and are available to read here.

www.tripadvisor.co.uk/members-reviews/jean-s

I am putting all prices in £ so this might be more useful to other first time UK visitors.

Our flight (KLM via Amsterdam just under £700) brought us into Cape Town at 10.35 pm and by the time we got through customs and collected our luggage it was 11.30 pm so I was pleased with my choice of staying at the Hotel Verde (£57) which is just a free 5 minute shuttle ride across the road. So comfortable and luxurious we were all refreshed to be picked up the next morning by a driver to take us to Hermanus.

shuttlehermanus.com/Home/vehicle-information

We chose to do this rather than hire a car straight away as we were a bit nervous. We wouldn't really need the car in Hermanus anyway so I thought the £49 or 800 zar was great value. John was a lovely driver who gave us lots of information on the way and when he was driving us around Hermanus on our arrival to give us our bearings we saw a whale breach twice in the harbour. What a greeting. We loved Hermanus and saw so many whales we felt really blessed. We really didn't need to go in a boat to see them (which was lucky as they were all cancelled because of the windy weather) -we could even watch them from our balcony at Quarters Hotel. We had a suite there for 2 nights (£125 p night) and it was gorgeous well worth pushing the boat our for. Our first night we stayed in Hermanus Boutique guesthouse which was only £65 a night as I wanted to experience both categories.

After 3 days we picked up an Avis hire car from the outskirts of Hermanus. (£80 for 5 days ) It was 8 km from our hotel but they sent a driver to pick us up (arranged by our lovely receptionist at Quarters.) We felt relaxed enough tackle the car by then and we had a brilliant drive via Betty's Bay to see the penguins, the coastal road to Gordon's Bay and then the glorious Franschhoek pass to The Maison Chablis guesthouse in Franschhoek. (£98 a night) A very tiring drive but unbelievably beautiful and we saw 2 sets of wild baboons.

I am glad I chose Franschhoek over Stellenbosch as it is just the right size. Very user friendly and very very pretty. I also think we had our best food of the holiday here. Our main activities were wine tasing, the wine tram and the wonderful motor museum. (the wine tram was about £10.50 and the motor museum about £4 each) - which you can read about in my reviews.

Next was an extended stay at an apartment in The Rockwell Hotel in Cape Town. I booked this on flip key and haven't done a review yet but I think I chose well and it worked out at about £74 a night. We had a huge wrap round balcony and we could see Table Top Mountain, the Lions Head and Signal hill from it (albeit over a school car park. :) ) but it was very windy at times so we couldn't sit out there as often as we would like. It was ideally situated for getting around. Just 15 minutes walk to the V and A Waterfront , 10 minutes from Bo Kaap and 20 minutes from Green Market Square. We felt safe enough walking around during the day and we just used taxis at night.

We still had the car for a days drive round Cape Point but unfortunately it was heshing it down by the time we got to The Cape of Good Hope and we couldn't see a thing. We still had a great day though doing the Chapman Peak drive and stopping at Hout Bay and Scarborough. (my husband is from Uk Scarborough so it had to be done. ) The rest of the time we used the HOHO bus (£15 p p for 2 days and 2 routes) and walking to see all the sights. We actually got a taxi to the cable car (£5 or 70 zar) rather than use up valuable time on our bus tour.

I still have a few restaurant reviews to do but most of the attraction ones are up but if anyone has any questions about their own trip I am more than happy to answer them here. As you can see I have all the facts and figures. :) To sum up my husband and I had a fabulous holiday - it was all we dreamed it to be, we saw some of the most stunning scenery we have ever witnessed, saw loads of whales, tasted loads of wine and ate loads of good fish and meat. I was a little nervous about the trip but as long as you keep your wits about you you will be as safe as anywhere. Thank you South African people for your friendliness and hospitality.

Cape Town
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1. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

Thank you so much for your trip report which will I am sure be extremely helpful for those planning trips. Just sorry that you came during probably our worst spell of late October - early November weather for many years. Hope you missed the BIG storm last Friday/Saturday! The first half of November is usually my absolute favourite time of the year here in the Cape. Anyway, weather is weather and unpredictable wherever you go in the world. Had e-mail from friends in the UK yesterday and they had snow 40mins from central London so bet you wish you were back in the Cape where summer looks like it has really finally started!

I agree with you and think that your breakdown was about right. Lots to do in Cape Town and some people think they can do it all in 1 or 2 days.

Good that you liked the Hotel Verde. It is about time that we had a proper airport hotel in Cape Town for people like you who arrive late or for those getting 6am flights out in the morning. The only other option we have had for years is pretty basic.

Will try and read through your many reviews but I can see that you really enjoyed yourselves. Again too few people who visit Franshhoek go to the Motor Museum which IMO is one of the very best small (well not that small!) motor museums in the world - possibly one of the best settings and probably the only one with wine tasting! Thanks for your recommendation.

So pleased that you had a great time, despite the weather, and then, like thousands of others who come for their first time, "one-off" holiday, hope that you will find yourself returning to this magical corner of Africa year after year! You still have so much left to see and experience!

Edited: 21 November 2013, 10:13
North Yorkshire...
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2. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

thank you for taking the time to read my report Van_de_Caab. We must have missed that storm by 1 day - what happened? To be honest we didn't really mind the bad weather. We are not sun worshippers and we did get some good weather too. It was beautiful while we were in Franschhoek and we enjoyed our bracing walks along the cliff tops in Hermanus and we had the added bonus of very dramatic skies. I think it might have been too hot for us if the sun had been high all the time. Yes we loved the motor museum. We didn't do the wine tasting there - but that leaves us with a good excuse to return. :)

TSO
POULTON .LANCS.
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3. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

Thanks for the great report

Leeds, United...
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4. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

Thanks jean-s

A great trip report, and like VDC I agree that you spent the right amount of time in Cape Town. I also went to Sacrborough last year, as it was too close to miss for someone from Yorkshire. We had a lovely walk on the beach

Looking forward to reading your reviews and the motor museum is now on my to do list for March!

Lisa

Cape Town
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5. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

I am sure that those who were here on holiday don't want me to remind them, but from Friday evening to Sunday morning last week we had continuous rain. The heaviest in the middle of the night on Friday. I woke up 3 or 4 am and commented that it sounded and felt like being in the middle of a waterfall! We had a few leaks and clearing up to do in the garden, but my heart went out to friends and those I know who live in much less substantial accommodation. Many hundreds of shacks were completely flooded out and many washed away.

The road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay was blocked in several places by continuous mudslides and rockfalls. It was reopened after the weekend but at one point after Backoven a substantial section at the side of the road has slid into the ocean.

Chapman's Peak Drive also had serious rockfalls and is still closed - hopefully for not long. However, right now, all you Yorkshire folk will have to get to Scarborough from the other side of the peninsula - lol!

Edited: 21 November 2013, 14:57
Fordingbridge...
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6. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

Sadly the storm has ruined the stone fruit crop in the area & the farmers have lost millions of ZAR. As well as the roads already mentioned, the road between Hermanus & Stanford has been washed away & the road between Gordon's Bay & Somerset West has been closed.

Glad that you enjoyed your trip, you'll now be able to spend your dreadful Yorkshire winter planning your next visit!

Blyth, United...
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7. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

We have flights booked for Cape Town on 6th October 2014. We will be there until 20th October. I would like to ask how early did you book your accommodation and did you pre book with Avis before you left the UK? Thanks.

North Yorkshire...
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8. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

I booked our accommodation about 3 months before we went but I am sure for October you could leave it a little later. We pre booked Avis at about the same time. Where do you think you will stay Michael? I mean which areas.

North Yorkshire...
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9. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

I booked our accommodation about 3 months before we went but I am sure for October you could leave it a little later. We pre booked Avis at about the same time. Where do you think you will stay Michael? I mean which areas. Oh and Avis didn't take the money until the day we returned the car and our guesthouse and apartment took quite a substantial deposit straight away.

Italy
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10. Re: First time Western Cape trip report by UK visitor

I really enjoyed your report, it brought back memeories of our trip last year, we stayed in both Stellenbosch and Franschoek and also preffered Franschoek as it has a village like atmosphere whereas Stellenbosch is more a town.