Roaring above Cape Town on our Lions Head Tour!

There are so many things to see and do in Cape Town that you could easily spend a fortnight just exploring the city and its surrounds, but if there is one thing you shouldn’t miss during your stay in the Mother City (in my humble opinion!), it would have to be climbing Lions Head Mountain.

Tailor Made Holidays Cape Town South Africa

Table Mountain’s iconic little sister, Lions Head has no fancy cable cars, no restaurant at the top, and no long and winding routes to its peak (it’s straight up here!), yet the view from the top is quiet simply breathtaking, and you get the best view of Table Mountain in town!

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Whenever we are in Cape Town with our guests, we always encourage them to join us as we conquer the mighty Lion, and while it make look a little daunting from the base, this magical mountain has a large plateau at the top where you can enjoy a traditional South African picnic of Sauvignon Blanc and Biltong!

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The view from Lions Head is worth the climb – believe me! With Camps Bay on one side, the Harbour of Cape Town on the other and Table Mountain as a backdrop, it really is one of the best places in the world to sit back, relax, and enjoy the amazing vista.

Unlike Table Mountain, where one can simply glide to the top on the revolving cable car, Lions Head Mountain is not for sissies! You need to hike, climb and scramble your way to the top – which is perhaps why 90% of the people we know in Cape Town have never been up there!

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But you never know who you will meet at the top… A lovely couple asked me to take a photo of them on top of the mountain – and its only when our group of cycling enthusiasts ran over to meet my unsuspecting couple that I realised I was taking a photo of Jan Ullrich (Tour de France winner!) and his wife…

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Like us, they had just cycled the Cape Argus Cycle Tour on a Tandem!

Perfectly Paternoster

If, like us, you are a huge fan of South Africa, then you have probably already ticked Kruger Park, Sabi Sands, the Garden Route, Cape Town, and a whole host of inland treasures off your bucket list… but if you haven’t ventured up the west coast yet – you are in for a treat!

During our two-year placement in Cape Town we heard much about the windswept west coast, but never seemed to find the time to go there, so on our recent trip to South Africa we made sure our first two days were spent in one of the country’s oldest fishing villages – the quaint seaside retreat of Paternoster.

When it comes to describing Paternoster, idyllic, peaceful and romantic are just some of the words that spring to mind, and by treating ourselves to two nights at the exquisite Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel, we were able to relax and unwind in this beachside haven before heading to the chaos one only finds in Cape Town.

If walking on the beach, collecting shells, eating seafood, and drinking fine South African wines as the sun goes down sounds like your dream holiday, add a trip to Paternoster in your next itinerary, and enjoy a little bit of luxury at the Strandloper Ocean…

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Save Those Air Miles on Your Next Flight – They are Worth More than You Think!

If, like me, you have a million different loyalty cards for your favourite airlines, but rarely remember to use them when booking a flight – it is time to dig them out from the back of your purse and check just how many points / avios / air miles you have available, as they could be worth more than you think.

flights to cape town

Upgrading your flight to the next category is always costly (in terms of air miles), and unless you have around 25,000 British Airways Avios (two round-trips from London to Cape Town), there is little chance that you will be able to upgrade your ticket, but there are other ways in which you can spend your airline currency…

You can book hotels, rent a car, and book a reward flight using your air miles, and if you do not have enough Avios for the entire trip, you can ‘top it up’ with cash, or ‘pool’ your air miles together with those of a family member and pay it off without spending a penny!

A great idea for those who travel frequently, but with different airlines, this system allows you to use up your air miles before they expire, and enjoy some of the ‘perks’ generally reserved for business or first class passengers.

Having redeemed my pending Avios against an overnight stay in a 4* Hotel (completely free of charge), I now realise that air miles are not just about ‘upgrades’, and if you travel long-haul even once per year, they are most definitely worth collecting.

 

 

 

Luxury Hotels for Valentine’s Day – Just add Romance!

Whether you love it or hate it, there is no escaping Valentine’s Day, and if red roses and love hearts are not really your thing, why not use February 14th as an excuse to get away for the weekend, and treat a loved one (and yourself!) to a night or two at a luxury hotel.

Romantic Holiday Destinations

There are some fabulous hotel offers on over the Valentine’s period, and while you may have to endure the odd marriage proposal during your stay, it could be just what you need to shake off winter, get over the floods, and get in the mood for some Valentine’s romance!

Whether you decide to stay at home or take a weekend break somewhere warmer, there are endless possibilities for ‘Lurve’ this Valentine’s, here’s a few of my own particular favourites:

A Romantic Valentine’s Affair at The May Fair Hotel, London

If your idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day includes Five Star Luxury in London’s most exclusive corner, then check out the romantic treat on offer at the May Fair Hotel.

Luxury accommodation in a deluxe room or suite, Champagne and Chocolates on arrival, and Champagne breakfast in bed for two can be yours for the princely sum of £475!

Valentine’s Day at Le Bristol, Paris

Over in Paris, the uber luxurious Le Bristol Hotel is offering couples the opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the most romantic city in the world.

This “exceptional” package includes accommodation for two people, Champagne and Chocolates, a Cocktail for two at Le Bar du Bristol (surely that doesn’t mean one glass and two straws!), two continental breakfasts, and a Tiffany & Co gift.  Prices start at €880.00 – Mon Chéri!

Celebrate Love at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa

It may involve a long-haul flight, but believe me, the romance package on offer at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in Gansbaai, South Africa, is worth every single air mile!

For just R4450.00 South African Rand (approximately £250) you and your loved one can enjoy 5-star luxury in a freestanding suite, a gourmet lunch, an afternoon of activities including horse riding on the beach and nature walks, a 7-course Dinner, a romantic turn-down and a bottle of sparkling wine.

Wherever you are this Valentine’s Day, we hope it is a day filled with love and a little bit of luxury!

Last Chance to Enter the Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2014

With just over five weeks to go until the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2014 (that’s 39 days, 12 hours, and 32 minutes for anyone who’s interested!), the pressure is on to train, train, and then train some more, in preparation for the world’s largest timed cycle race.

Last Chance to Enter the Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2014

I’ve whinged and whined about how difficult it is for us European’s to train in the Northern Hemisphere during our winter months, but now the excitement is starting to kick in, and I can’t believe that in just four weeks time, we will be on our way to South Africa!

Cycling in snow is a challenge (especially on a road bike), so we’ve been making the most of the mountains with brisk winter walks, and while we probably won’t be tiptop condition for the Cape Argus on 9th March, we will be ready, willing, and hopefully able to complete the 109km route!

If you are still ‘umming and arring’ about the 2014 Cape Argus, the time has arrived to make your final decision.  South African entrants can still enter by riding for a charity, and International cyclists have until 21st February to secure their place on this amazing event!

Sun, sea, sand and cycling awaits… so why not go for it, and book your place now. You won’t regret it!

Cape Argus Cycle Tour – Voted One of the World’s Top 10 Cycle Routes!

Anyone following our blog will know by now that we are Cape Argus Cycle Tour fanatics, and if the recent National Geographic ‘Journey of a Lifetime’ book is anything to go by, it seems we are not the only ones! 

Cape Argus 2014

A brilliantly organised 109km race around the Western Cape of South Africa, the Cape Argus is suitable for anyone with a good level of fitness, and they only things you need to partake is a bike (obviously!), a helmet, a pair of sunglasses, and the determination to get up Suikerbossie!

Held at the beginning of March each year, the Cape Argus Cycle Tour attracts over 35,000 cyclists from across the globe, and as March is a summer month in Cape Town, it is the perfect time for us freezing Europeans to head south for a spot of winter sun.

The Cape Argus Cycle Tour made it onto the National Geographic’s “World’s Top 10 Cycle Routes”, and if you would like to take part in the 2014 event, you will be pleased to know that International entries are still open.

So what are you waiting for? Dust of your Lycra pants, grab your passport, and make your way down to Cape Town for the world’s largest timed cycle race – We’ll see you there!

Countdown to Cape Town

Holiday hot spot to the rich and famous, Cape Town attracts more than its fair share of A-Lister’s each year, and with just over 6-weeks to go until we head down to the city on our annual pilgrimage to the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, we are excited to find out which ‘star’ will be joining us on the World’s largest timed cycle race.

Winter Breaks in Cape Town

Lance Armstrong, Matt Damon and Sir Richard Branson have all taken part in this fantastic sporting event, and while the chances of meeting these guys is slim, you could well bump into your favourite movie star at Caprice in Camps Bay, Beluga near the Waterfront, or Nobu in the One & Only hotel.

Cape Town is, in my opinion, the most beautiful city in the world at any time of the year, but during the sultry summer months of January, February and March, this cosmopolitan metropolis really comes to life as everyone moves outside to enjoy a Braai and a bottle (or two!) of crisp Sauvignon Blanc while watching the sun go down over Africa.

When it comes to hotel accommodation in Cape Town, there really is something for everyone starting with backpacker lodges and going all the way through to uber luxurious five-star properties.  The choice (and price range) is vast, but with the favourable exchange rates on offer right now (over R17 to the Pound!); you can treat yourself to a quality hotel for less.

When Cape Town hosted the World Cup in 2010, numerous new hotels opened across the city, but it’s the long-standing favourites such as the Winchester Mansions in Sea Point, the Cape Grace at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, and the 12 Apostles in Camps Bay that get my vote.

So while I may have six whole weeks to go until I head down to the Mother City, this freezing winter is a lot more bearable knowing that sunshine is most definitely on its way!

New Year’s Resolutions… Here We Go Again!

It’s that time of year again, and if you haven’t made your New Year’s Resolution yet, you have just a few hours left (depending on where you live in the world), to choose your resolution before setting it in concrete with a glass of Champagne on New Year’s Eve.

travel more in 2014

The most common New Year’s Resolutions involve health/fitness and financial goals, and while both are very commendable (especially if you have eaten too much and spent too much over the festive period!), I prefer to go with a resolution that I have every intention of keeping – and that is to travel more in 2014!

If you are struggling to come up with a New Year’s Resolution that will last longer than a week, (most of us quit after 7 days apparently!), then here are a few unusual and unique resolutions I found on the internet today that might keep you interested for longer…

Travel the world and have your photo taken in front of five places you have always dreamed of visiting (Great Barrier Reef, Great Wall of China, and Table Mountain etc.)

Become a volunteer, either at your local charity organisation or abroad, and dedicate some of your time to help those less fortunate.

Skip the diet, and opt for a lifestyle change instead. Walking to work rather than driving, switching your Latte for a fruit tea, and having pizza once a week rather than twice will all make a difference to your waistline!

Try a new food / wine each week, and don’t be afraid to try the local cuisine when you are on holiday – you might find fried locust to your liking!

Spice up your life by swapping the ‘usual’ for the ‘unusual’ and don’t save anything for a special occasion – eat it, wear it, or do it today!

Add twelve items to your Bucket List, and cross one-off every month of 2014.

We would love to know what your New Year’s Resolutions are for 2014, so drop us a line and let us know!

Anyone for Everest? Base Camp Here We Come!

While I am not one for making New Year’s Resolutions, I do like to step into a New Year with a goal in sight, and after much deliberation we have decided that 2014 is going to be the year in which we cross ‘Climb Everest Base Camp’ off our ever-growing bucket list!

It has been 14 months since we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and while we definitely want to climb Africa’s highest mountain again in the future, we feel it is time to add a new mountain to our repertoire, and what could be better than the highest mountain in the world!

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Of course, we will only be heading to Everest’s base camp at 5,364metres (almost 600 metres lower than Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak), and not the snow-capped peak of Everest at 8,848metres, but this 18-day trek is a lot longer and, I would think, a lot more demanding than the  7-Day Machame Route we completed in October 2012!

Training will commence in January 2014 as we prepare for our Cape Argus Cycle Tour in Cape Town in March, and thereafter we will be climbing every mountain insight in order to get in shape for the end of the year!

We would love to hear from anyone who has climbed to Everest Base Camp – handy hints and tips are always welcome, and if you fancy crossing this mighty mountain off your bucket list in 2014 – drop us an email – the more the merrier!

 

Stellenbosch – The Epicentre of Epicurean Travel

If you are a lover of the finer things in life, namely luxury hotels, exquisite food, and magnificent wines, then I can highly recommend you pack your taste buds and your “tastevin”, and head on down to Stellenbosch and the Winelands of South Africa.

Connoisseur Tours South Africa

A pretty university town sitting approximately 50 kilometres from Cape Town, Stellenbosch was recently declared as the “Gourmet Capital of South Africa”, and with some 200 wine and grape producers in the region, it is easy to understand why sommeliers and connoisseurs from around the world flock to the ‘City of Oaks’ every year to taste its latest offerings.

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A town for all seasons, Stellenbosch is sunny and inviting in the summer months (December to March), cool and refined in autumn and spring, and warm and cosy during South Africa’s winter months when you get to enjoy a glass of Thelema’s Mint Cabernet Sauvignon in front of a roaring open fire (heaven!).

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Many wineries in and around Stellenbosch have their own restaurants onsite, and by using locally produced ingredients, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and South Africa’s diverse selection of venison, game, fish and seafood, they create some of the most mouth-watering meals that work perfectly with the wine pairings on offer.

When it comes to hotel accommodations, Stellenbosch has something to suit every budget and every taste, but there is a real emphasis on luxury in this region, and if you are looking for something extra special, you are sure to find it here.

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If you want to get away from it all and spoil yourself, the luxurious Delair Graff Estate will take care of your every need. With magnificent views, indulgent accommodations, and both Thelema and Tokara vineyards within walking distance – this is possibly the most opulent resort in Stellenbosch.

If you like to be a little more central, the equally magnificent 5-star Coopmanhuijs Boutique & Spa in the heart of town will tick all the right boxes.  Built in 1713, the Coopmanhuijs was one of the first grand residences built in the Stellenbosch region, and while it has been updated over the years to include the latest modern conveniences, it retains its classic charm.

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We might have 12-weeks to go until our next visit to Stellenbosch, but winter will be whole lot easier to bear knowing that a there is a bottle (or two!) of Kleine Zalze’s crisp Sauvignon Blanc waiting for our arrival!