South Africa and Me: Safaris, Sports Tours, Honeymoons and so Much More - Part Three

Rob Morris on 13 June 2004
A brief honeymoon visit to the Western Cape & Johannesburg

My third visit to South Africa formed part of our fantastic honeymoon that saw us spend a magical week in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean before returning to Africa for an overnight at J’burg airport to allow us to continue our love of safari’s by visiting Botswana and Zambia which I will write about separately, so watch this space! We rounded off a stunning trip in Cape Town, that was quickly becoming one of my favourite places in the world.

Our brief stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Joburg airport was great; perfect for a stop over. The staff had gone to a lot of effort to make our stay special with heart shaped rose petals on the bed that also trailed into the bathroom. Lovely evening meal, a great breakfast and we were away.

After exploring Botswana and Zambia enjoying light aircraft flights, view over the Okavango Delta, superb game viewing and a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls among many highlights, we headed for the Cape. Even for a third visit there as so much to do and different ways to enjoy things we had already experienced.

Firstly, we had to get up Table Mountain on a sunny day, so we dropped everything and did so at the first given chance. Fantastic views out over the city flanked at either side by Lions Head and Devil’s Peak with Robben Island out in the distance in Table Bay. We enjoyed watching the ‘Dassie’s’ or Rock Hyrax’s playing in the sunshine and enjoyed the signposted walks fully exploring the summit.

Our previous visit did not allow us to visit Robben Island; the infamous prison that was home to Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years of incarceration as a political prisoner for crimes against South Africa’s apartheid government. As visits and tourist attractions go, this is up there with the best. Extremely emotive, moving and thought provoking and I still feel privileged to have had the experience and a brief glimpse at the hardships faced by one of the worlds most iconic and influential figures. I would whole heartedly recommend that every visitor to Cape Town takes the short ferry ride from the waterfront.

A return to the winelands was also high on our to do list as we had enjoyed the experience so much during our last visit. With more confidence and a feel for where we wanted to head to, this time we self-drove visiting the university town of Stellenbosch as we’d not been there before and had heard positive things about it, but spending most of our time in the Franschhoek and Paarl areas, dropping in to vineyards we thought looked interesting in our guidebook and simply those that looked appealing. As our day was coming to an end, we happened across the Asara Wine Estate and thought we’d take one last chance to stock up. We were welcomed warmly and offered to taste the some of their popular wines and enjoyed them very much. As we were settling our purchases, a member of the team came from the back office full of excitement; their white port had one a gold medal that day; did I like port and if so would I like to try some. Minutes later I was the proud owner of a case of a beautiful white port; something I ignorantly didn’t realise existed; it was fabulous and has been a talking point around our dinner table for some time since.

We also wanted to visit Hermanus, a drive of approximately 120KM east of Cape Town. An old fishing village, renowned for the opportunity to view whales from the cliff tops during whale season, (July – September, peaking in August and September) marine life is a running theme. Stunning cliff top walks, breath-taking beaches and a quaint seaside town await. To the north and emerging wine region the Hemelen-Aarde Valley was becoming increasingly popular, so we decided to take a detour and visit the Hamilton Russell Vineyard, one of south Africa’s most southernly vineyards and a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialist. After a thorough and enjoyable tasting, our wine stocks increased further!

And so another Western Cape adventure came to a close with more memories and a fully stocked wine store brining our magical honeymoon to and end and we returned home to Cheltenham to start our lives as Mr & Mrs!