Join us on a fully guided and portered walking adventure through the pristine natural environments of the Western Cape
Welcome to the Ethical Walking Adventure! Your trip starts with a private airport transfer from Cape Town International to An African Villa, Cape Town. You’ll enjoy the first afternoon and evening climatizing to the city and then, after a comfortable overnight in this most chic of boutique hotels, you’ll hike Table Mountain from the City Bowl for the full day. That’s Day 1 and Day 2.
Day 3 sees you walking through the splendor of the Kirstenbosch and the wetlands at Strandfontien: this will be both a birding day and a walking day. You’ll overnight in at The Vineyard Hotel in Constantia on this night.
On Day 4, you’ll leave the northern part of the peninsula and spend a full day hiking through the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. You’ll over-night at The Vineyard Hotel in Constantia again on this night.
Day 5 takes you east towards the Overberg coast and then walking through the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens and either the Kogelberg Biosphere or the Rooisands Nature Reserve. After all that leg work, it’s on to Stellenbosch for an overnight in the Oude Werf Hotel, right in the centre of this historic town for some well-earned rest and massages.
The following morning, you’ll be taken on a private Winelands tour including a five-star picnic at Vergelegen, ending with a transfer to Cape Town International for your flight home.
Additional days are possible as follows:
Day 6: Drive north from Stellenbosch to the DuToits Kloof Pass for a hike in that area, ending the day at the far side of the Cape Winelands in Montagu. You’ll overnight at the Montagu Country Hotel.
Day 7: travel over the Sir Lowry’s Pass to the splendid Wildekrans Country House in the fruit-growing region of Elgin. Here you’ll walk sections of the Green Mountain Trail and enjoy the personalized hospitality that Barry and Anne offer in their magical garden.
An African Villa
An African Villa is an intriguing and surprising place to stay: from the exterior, it presents a quaint but unassuming terrace of three town houses, replete with the original covered wooden ‘stoeps’ or balconies associated with the Cape Dutch style.An African Villa is an intriguing and surprising place to stay: from the exterior, it presents a quaint but unassuming terrace of three town houses, replete with the original covered wooden ‘stoeps’ or balconies associated with the Cape Dutch style.
Once inside, you’re in for a treat: James and Louis, two of the directors, have musical and fashion backgrounds respectively, which they have combined into a modern and chic interior design style which they call Afro-Zen. It’s minimalist and calming, whilst still being opulent and acknowledging the building’s heritage.
The location is perfect: on a quiet residential street but literally a five-minute walk away from the buzz and fun of Kloof Street, which by day and by night has so much choice of dining and boutiques that two days will not be enough to even start to cover it. Cape Town’s big attractions like Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront and the Old Town are all less than ten minutes away by car.
HIKING DAY 2
Table Mountain is 57 square kilometres and we have several routes to choose from, depending on fitness and interests. Our full day hikes tend to stay away from the Table Top and cable car area (they get very crowded and you can easily see what you need to on your own without a guide at any stage) so this means we walk up and down – but the descents are always as easy as possible.
The morning is spent getting up there, via a tea and coffee break with fresh chocolate croissants or muffins. We may choose the 12 Apostles side of Table Mountain with views of the Atlantic Ocean and Lion’s Head or we may hike from the Constantia area, taking in views of False Bay and the rest of the peninsula. Some fullays are easy with little or no scrambling; others are tougher with steeper ascents and some scrambling. A picnic lunch is included, as is a cold drink or two after the hike.
Highlights on the mountain include secret forests, white-sand beaches, Eden-like waterfalls and miles and miles of glorious, unspoilt fynbos vegetation.
19 Carstens Street, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town 8001
Tel +27 (0)83 900 7894
THE VINEYARD HOTEL
HIKING DAY 3
The peninsula’s two best bird watching destinations are also great introductions to a wide diversity of plants. An early pick up and a drive to Strandfontein Water Treatment Works usually starts the day, an exceptional birding experience with hundreds if not thousands of flamingos plus pelicans, waders, wildfowl, sea birds and plenty of raptors – fish-eagles, harriers and kites. It’s also a place to see what the Cape Flats used to look like – thickly vegetated and with large wetlands.
Then it is a picnic lunch and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where we balance Strandfontein’s coastal and wetland experience with superb examples of fynbos and natural forest. It is a botanist’s paradise but we also enjoy excellent bird watching: mountain, thicket and forest species in beautiful surroundings. It’s especially good for photography as the birds are often quite tame in the gardens; highlights include all three local sunbirds, Cape sugarbirds and eagle-owls.
HIKING DAY 4
We’ll be collecting you early again today so that we arrive at Boulders Beach penguin colony as the gate opens and before everyone else! At this time of day, this destination is magical and we’ll see far more birds than later in the day. It’s a short walk to a sheltered beach (my secret!) where we have a picnic breakfast, often with penguins walking past us, before packing up and driving to the Cape of Good Hope Reserve. Our itinerary now depends on the tides and time of year; perhaps we start with the teeming tidal pools of Black Rocks on the Indian Ocean coast or head for a hike on the wild Atlantic beaches, complete with shipwrecks and bleached whale bones.
The reserve is the best destination for wildlife on the Peninsula: we’ll be on the lookout for various antelope, ostrich, baboons and tortoises plus great birds and whatever has drifted onto the beaches after a storm. We have a picnic lunch at the seldom-visited but excellent information centre (with bathrooms) and head down for the views at Cape Point at the end of the afternoon. To round off the day, we will have a wonderful scenic drive back to Cape Town via Chapman’s Peak Drive and the 12 Apostles.
ACCOMMODATION DAY 3 and DAY 4
Your accommodation for the night is just a little further on at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands (Constantia). With over 200 years of history within its walls, The Vineyard is situated in six acres of attractive landscaped parkland on the banks of the Liesbeek River. This beautiful building is most unusual for its time in that it was built then a very long way away from Cape Town itself and over two stories in a Regency (rather than a Cape Dutch) style. It was the original home of Lady Anne Barnard but on conversion into a hotel had extensions designed by highly acclaimed architects Jack Barnett and Revel Fox. It is filled with works by leading South African artists and offers rooms ranging from single to family suites, both mountain and courtyard facing.
There are two restaurants with reputations in their own rights at the Vineyard: “the Square”, a great favourite for breakfast and dinner, as well as a popular sushi bar and Myoga Restaurant which offers a modern fusion style of cooking. Myoga is open for lunch and dinner and the Square for breakfast and dinner.
The hotel offers its guests two swimming pools - one outdoor, surrounded by loungers and one heated indoor pool. You’ll be pleased to hear that after a long day in the saddle there is a world-class spa on site too.
Colinton Road, Newlands
Tel +27 (0) 21 657 4500
HIKING DAY 5
Today we’ll leave the Cape Peninsula and start the day with yet more amazing coastal scenery as we travel out of Cape Town and along the eastern arm of False Bay. In spring, we’ll be on the lookout for southern right whales.
Our first stop is Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay, a naturalist’s paradise with cormorants, gulls and dassies (hyraxes) among the thousands of African penguins. It’s also an easy place to introduce the Cape’s marine ecology – shells and seaweeds, and if the tide is out, there are great rock pools. Then it’s a few minutes’ drive to the idyllic Harold Porter Botanical Gardens – a kind of mini-Kirstenbosch without the crowds – and perfect for an introduction to the Cape’s fynbos. We have a picnic lunch under a tree and a wander to the back of the gardens where wild forest and very beautiful fynbos takes over – excellent bird watching.
We will have time for a drive into the heart of the fynbos – the Kogelberg Biosphere; incredible fynbos and views from the moment we turn off the road and chances of spotting rare mountain birds. An alternative is to visit the Rooisands Nature Reserve in Kleinmond – great water birds and, occasionally, wild horses. Back to town via Hermanus road and N2.
The Oude Werf is the oldest running hotel in South Africa, having been in existence for over three centuries: but don’t let this fool you into thinking that it’s dowdy or set in its ways. The hotel has earned the coveted Fair Trade Accreditation, meaning that it puts people and planet first, synchronizing ethical and sustainable business practices with a superb client experience.
You’ll be impressed with their offerings of in-room massages (you’ll enjoy that after all that hiking!), coffee lounge and room service, not to mention the superb food and wine. We know it’s good because the Werf is a place where you will find locals as well as visitors eating and as everyone knows, if the locals eat there, it must be good! Unbelievably, the building that the hotel is housed in actually burnt down no less than three times in its history: originally built in 1686 as a church, the modern building is from 1880 but was completely redesigned and refurbished in 1973 into a hotel. To this day, it remains family owned and run by the Pistorius family who are on site most days.
30 Church street, Stellenbosch
Tel . +27 21 887 4608
On your last day, we'd recommend spending time simply walking the streets of Stellenbosch, lined as they are with jacaranda trees and oaks and every turn leading to more history and old-world architecture.
Late morning, you'll be collected by Chris Hannival, but to make the most of the last day, you'll be stopping off at Vergelegen for a picnic. This splendid wine estate near the town of Somerset West offers a picnic in truly inimitable style: you're seated in a wooded glade on proper chairs with a table and a picnic basket is brought to you by a waiter! What could be nicer?
After your picnic, Chris will drop you off at Cape Town International Airport.