penguins

Boulders Beach Penguins, Cape Town

Meet the boulders beach penguins

As part of a tour around the Western Cape one of the main parts of this trip and one we were looking forward to the most was a visit to Boulders Beach Cape Town which has one of South Africa and Africa’s largest penguin colonies.

The breed of penguin is the rare African penguin in fact its the only place in the world you can get close to African Penguins

The rare African Penguin

A bit of history

It was back in 1982 that a few of these penguins settled here on Boulders Beach. The area was perfect with large Boulders made of granite that protect the beach from wind and wild waves.

The population of the penguin is sadly dwindling to between 2000 and 3000 and is classified as protected.

Penguin spotting

On a good note Boulders Beach and some of the surrounding areas are part of the marine protected area in the Table Mountain National Park. This meaning the beaches are protected and both safe and clean.

Our trip

We arrived in False Bay the location of Boulders Beach out on the Cape drive from Cape Town.

Around this little town there are local shops, restaurants and cafes for you to explore. However we headed straight for the boardwalk. (A fee is payable on entrance to the boardwalk 65 SA Rand).

The boardwalk took us out onto a elevated boardwalk above where the penguins are running around playing, swimming and waddling about. It’s a beautiful site to see. The view out to sea is breathtaking and to catch a glimpse of them playing in the waves is just a bucket list item.

Watching the penguins at sea

The boardwalks meander through the dunes and don’t interfere with the penguins in fact they provide great shelter for those penguins nesting with there chicks.

Nesting penguins

Take a guide

Our guide Chris who was with us through our Cape Point tour was so knowledgeable on the penguins and although its a easy trip to take yourself I would well recommend a guide as the history and the habits of penguins was so interesting to learn. We used City Sightseeing as our guide for this tour they are experts in the field and have regular tours to Boulders Beach and also well known over South Africa.

We love penguins

This wasn’t our first trip to see rare penguins on a trip to New Zealand we took a drive out Curiio Bay on the most southerly point of the South Island of New Zealand.

It was here we got to see the yellow eyed penguins waddling in for the night from the shore.

Yellow eyed penguins

To see more on this check out our trip to Curio Bay.

More South Africa

We had 4 parts on our stay in South Africa. See some posts below and see what we got up to.

Franschoek Country House & Villas

Franschoek Country House & Villas

We had the pleasure of staying in this unbelievable Hotel whilst on our honeymoon in 2018, situated a short 2km outside the center of town and access to the wine trams. The Franschhoek Country House is also perfectly situated with pristine mountain view setting.

So the setting is beautiful, the building was 1890 Manor House and was renovated using Provencal influences to the highest quality. And add to this beautifully landscaped gardens its a site to behold.

With only a total of 22 rooms Country House offers quality rather than quantity. Attention to detail being very prominent throughout the rooms and around the grounds. And the care taking into looking after the place is obviously high on there agenda.

An onsite Spa, pool and the very impressive award winning Monneaux restaurant, its a must for anyone wanting to soak up the scenery and kick back and just relax. And well enjoy some great wine

The Pool

The Rooms @ The Country House

We stayed in a luxury room, which had ample room, extremely comfy bed, a beautiful view out towards the pool and the beautiful range. The bathroom again spacious, very clean and in great condition.

They are 4 types of rooms Standard, luxury, cottages and villas. All come as standard with complimentary wi -fi, nespresso machine, tea making and fully air conditioned. I heard also the luxury and Villas also have fires in them, with the later having its own private balcony.

We had our own balcony area with table and chairs where we could sit back and listen to the beautiful running water from the many water features around. Which was a perfect place to sit and unwind with a glass of Pinotage at the end of the day.

Breakfast

Breakfast was served in a beautiful first floor room in the centre of the country house, with views all around the country house and the surrounding area. A great start to a day means the world, and here would certainly do that and in style

Breakfast was in 2 styles, you can order off a lovely fresh cooked breakfast, all also the was the buffet style table, which had some of the most amazing meats, cheeses, breads and pastries. A great freshly brewed coffee or pick from a selection of teas would accompany your breakfast.

The breakfast was absolutely divine and worth the visit alone. And even the service was second to none and enjoyed a lovely chat with our waiter, who was also very knowledgeable with the local area.

The Monneaux Restaurant

What can said about the Monneaux, well really this restaurant deserves a post on its own to be honest. I’m a chef myself and I can hands done say was one of best restaurants I have eaten in.

Right from the moment we walked in until the last sip of gin we had as a nightcap we were so impressed. The food was so fresh the care and attention that went into the flavours was brilliant. And the presentation was works of art. I always say first impressions count, and when the dishes landed a sense of excited lifted us.

Now they say a picture paints a thousand words below is a little gallery of the food and drink we had over the 2 nights we stayed.

As for the service I wish I could remember the waiters name because he was fantastic, and being a chef I have had many fall outs with waiters. So was pleasantly surprised. We love wine but we wouldn’t be connoisseurs by any means and he was able to talk us through the wines and pairings. He was obviously passionate about his job, and his recommendations were greatly appreciated.

Summary

Would we recommend the Franschoek Country?? I think the answer to that is obvious a big YES. We are already thinking about when we can visit again.If you get the chance please do check it out, or at the least check out the Monneaux as it is open to the public also.

We will leave a links to the country house and restaurant below please take the time to have a look. And why not contact them maybe see what’s available you wont regret it. These businesses need our support in these times lets all stick together.

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Franschhoek Wine Tram Tour

Franschhoek Wine Tram Tour Day

During our stay in the wine region of Franschhoek we decided to try out the Wine Tram Tour we love wine and this was one of the most exciting parts of our holiday.

There are different tram lines, 8 in all to choose from all with 8/10 stop offs on each one. Meaning plenty of choice for you especially if staying a few days.

Our decision

We decided on the Red Line, for no other reason than it was near where we were staying. This allowed us to be close to our hotel just in case a few to many where enjoyed.

So when you hop off, you could chose to sample wine at each stop otherwise just hang around and enjoy the scenery until the next tram came along.

The trams stopped off every hour, but if you were settled enough in one you could stay put and jump on the next one. However there is a cut off point so be aware, because you could end up stuck at a winery.

Below is a link to the Tram wine Tour website which has all the tours and tram lines for you to look over. This is a great site with plenty of information.

Wine Tram Tour

Our Favourite Wineries

We loved the Maison Winery it was a lovely small place with a very passionate owner who loved his wine and was extremely knowledgeable. As a result we did actually go back the next day to buy some wine.

Another highlight was Dieu Donne , and this was perfectly located a bit up in the hills overlooking the unbelievable Franschoek mountains. Epic views and great wine was always going to be a hit

OUR TIP : If visiting Dieu Donne I would recommend the amazing cheese platter to compliment there lovely wines.

Cheese Platter at Dieu Donne
Vineyards at Maison Winery

History

About 75 kilometres from Cape Town, Franschoek is a small town with a population of around 15,000.

So the name Franschoek means in Afrikans “the French Corner” with the French influence on the town being there to see.

In 1688 French Huguenot refugees came in and brought with them there wealth of knowledge of agriculture. Because of this many of the wineries even to this day are named after French regions like Champagne and La Provence to name a few.

In recent years Franschoek has become South Africa’s premium food and wine area, many of South Africa’s top restaurants being here. With this can bring great numbers of visiters to this great area.

Our top tip restaurant would be the Monneaux restaurant inside the Franschhoek Country Club and Villas

Franschhoek Wine District

Franschhoek Wine District

I can safely say this was the most luxurious stop on our African trip so far. The wine district is an unreal experience and even comes with it’s own Franschhoek wine tram tour. Could you possibly ask for anymore.

The Franschhoek Area

This area of Cape Town was without doubt, the most picturesque in terms of landscape and idyllic countryside. The drive out from the city took about an hour and as soon as we left the developed hub, we were spoilt with the sweeping mountains and valleys of the beautiful winery district.

Why Franschhoek

When we were planning the trip months before, we tossed up between the two main wine regions, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Although I’m sure both are just as beautiful as each other, we were delighted with our choice. We heard from other visitors who were staying in Stellenbosch, that yes it was breathtaking but it was further out from the hustle and activity of the little town and the activities available in the region.

If you are heading to Cape Town and within reach of this pocket of paradise, you MUST put it on your travel list…even if only for a couple of nights. We had 2 full days and 2 nights and it was enough time to immerse ourselves in the tranquillity and take full advantage of all this region has to offer.

Franschhoek Country House

Our stay at Franschhoek Country House was luxury with nothing spared and we got the royal treatment from the moment we arrived.

While we waited for our room to be ready (we did arrive a little early), we were taken to a stunning sun room overlooking the immaculately manicured gardens, to relax. A waiter took our drink orders and returned in minutes, with our barista made coffees. I could certainly have gotten used to that life!

As we explored our surroundings, we weaved our way along cobbled footpaths lined with lemon and lime trees. There was only a small number of country houses and villas on this property and we only ever saw a few other couples throughout our whole stay…felt like a private destination all to ourselves at times!

The Rooms

The room itself was huge and furnished with an elaborate fire place, private balcony and an elaborate bathroom. In addition to all the space in the rooms, there was a communal lounge quarter in each of the country houses (there were about 3-4 rooms per house). In the evenings, the fire was lit in this area and there was a fresh bottle of port set out each night on our return from dinner…an indulgence we took full advantage of!

The Pool

The pool area is certainly worth a mention due to the attention paid to it throughout the day and the facilities the resort provided. There were two pools, one heated and the other heated naturally (it was one to wake you up in the morning!). There were fresh towels in baskets by the poolside and lots of very comfortable sun loungers (no need for that dash to the pool each morning with your towel!).

The pool

While we lazed by the pool on our first day in the resort, we were regularly checked in on by the very attentive staff and even had lunch served to us by the pool. As well as having the luxury of ordering any drinks we wanted to be delivered to us throughout the day, there was also a complimentary refreshments table set up under a pergola by the pool with still and sparkling water, home grown lemons and limes as well as freshly made lemonade…seriously, who doesn’t need this in their life!

Poolside enjoyment

Hotel Extras

Each day there was a complimentary evening drinks reception held in one of the sunrooms. We sipped on our choice of drink and nibbled on some tasty snacks each evening before heading back to our room to freshen up before dinner. As the on-site restaurant was of award-winning calibre, we didn’t have to go very far to dine in style (further details below).

Breakfast

Breakfast each morning was served upstairs in one of the reception villas overlooking the charming gardens, silhouetted by the distant mountains and rising sun…pure perfection. We had a large selection of hot menu options as well as a great variety of cereals, fresh fruit, yogurts, breads, meats and pastries in the generously prepared buffet. Fresh juices and barista made coffees were the perfect pairings to keep us fuelled until the late afternoon.

Tip:We had a very early check-out on the day we left Franschhoek, we were departing before breakfast. The staff were more than happy to take our breakfast orders the night before and had our meals delivered to our room in the early hours of the morning so we could eat while we finished packing…service with smile!

Monneaux Restaurant

As we were lucky enough to have such an incredible restaurant on our doorstep, we didn’t even need to leave the resort at night to have dinner. There were so many delicious options on the menu, that we were only delighted to be able eat there twice to sample more of what they had to offer.

The award-winning Monneaux restaurant, located in the original manor house, is elegantly decorated with a warm and inviting ambiance.

The Menu

The menu is a selection of ‘small plates’ served in a series of courses. Richie being a chef, and totally food obsessed, was in heaven. It was the perfect menu for any appetite as the waiters recommended 3-5 courses each but on the night we had eaten a later lunch, we opted for fewer courses and were still full. There were so many tempting options on the menu that even over the two nights we didn’t try everything (the perfect excuse to return, right?!)

Steak from the menu

We had a variety of meals in the Monneaux restaurant but our stand-out picks were definitely the steak with béarnaise and hand cut chips, chicken and prawn curry with sides and condiments, and tempura prawns with kimchi and lemon aioli. The dark chocolate tart with white choc mousse for dessert was the decedent finish that we couldn’t resist!

Drink Tips

Tip: There was a great choice of gin cocktails and the ones we tried were delicious…definitely worth tyring a few! And if you prefer a beer, the local craft brewery beer is a must…cheers!

Things To Do

Apart from soaking up the lavish atmosphere and relaxing in complete luxury, there was plenty to see and do in this winery heaven.

The vineyards of Franschhoek

Something we didn’t realise in time, was that the town itself is a little hive of activity and well worth an afternoon wander. Pop in for a look as it has lots of interesting cafés and restaurant options and quirky shops to wander through.

Our resort had bicycles for rent or a complimentary shuttle service that could take residents to and from the town so perhaps enquire about similar options if you feel like exploring.

Franschhoek Wine Tram

What a memorable and relaxing day…being carried from one amazing winery to the next with our only concerns being which estate would be our next stop! The Franschhoek wine tram was going to bring us a happy day.

Sampling Wine

The tour we took was operated by Franschhoek Wine Tram and has 5 different routes, with between 7 and 9 stops on each, where you can choose to stop at any 6 wineries of your choice. Each stop had tasting selections and some had delicious food or snack options (the program you get with your ticket has all the information you need for planning stops to suit your individual interests). Our initial stop was at the Eikehof estate. This was an inviting, boutique family winery with a backdrop of postcard quality. The sweeping vines ran as far as the eye could see only to be met on the horizon by a backdrop of striking mountains. We chose not to do a tasting here as it was a little early but enjoyed the complimentary glass as we strolled through the vineyard and listened to the proprietor share the estate’s history.

Vineyards

Dieu Donne Winery

One of our favourite stops was the Dieu Donne winery. We decided to make this stop as it was the highest point up the mountain on our route and we had seen on the program that there was a restaurant here too. It was the perfect way to break up our afternoon as we went for the wine tasting option and accompanied it with a cheese board…certainly a cheese board worthy of mention!

Cheese platter Dieu Donne

The Rest

And so, it’s with a head full of incredible memories, that I come to the end of this post, we really enjoyed writing about the Franschhoek wine district. I hope some of this information can be of help to anyone considering a trip to this unique paradise or that perhaps we have ignited an interest in you to pay a visit.

Thank you for taking the time to read our post and we would love for you to check out our earlier posts on the previous stops we made on our African adventure.

We hope to see you again soon. And hopefully it could be sipping on a pinotage in this wine district and tearing around the Franschhoek wine tram.

We had the pleasure of travelling around Cape Town also before moving on to Franschhoek. it’s well work add that to a trip.

Best Things To Do In Cape Town

Cape Town City

What a contrast this city was to the week we had already spent in Africa. Cape Town echoed the squares and streets that we have previously encountered in other destinations of European feel. It had the comfort of a city but with a genuine African twist. We had 3 nights in Cape Town and made full use of every moment we had there. This is our Cape Town City Guide.

When we visited Cape Town, the city was experiencing its worst drought in over 100 years. As a result of this, everyone was monitoring water use and saving water where ever they could. We were staying in a hotel so although bath plugs had been removed to reduce unnecessary water use, we were lucky enough to be able shower comfortably.

Table Mountain

Accommodation

Our stay in Cape Town was certainly one to remember. We stayed in the V & A Waterfront region, which is not actually in the city itself (it is only a few minutes’ drive to the city centre). The V&A Waterfront was home to our remarkable hotel, The Victoria and Alfred Hotel.

On arrival, we were greeted with a bottle of chilled champagne and a fruit platter. Rose petals lined the floor leading to a beautifully decorated bed. The room itself was tastefully furnished with elegant armchairs and a selection of luxurious toiletries.

The breakfast was without doubt, one of the most impressive we have had in a hotel. There was the usual spread of muesli, cereals, breads and pastries but with a very elaborate selection. The generous assortment of cold meats and spreads were the perfect accompaniment to the great cheese selection on offer. Along with all this, there was a very tempting hot menu to choose from each morning.

Hotel View of Table Mountain

Tip: For an amazing finish to your afternoon, be sure to squeeze in a drink in the hotel bar (Ginja), where you can sit by the water’s edge with the picturesque Table Mountain as your backdrop…Insta-worthy material without a doubt!

Table Mountain in the background

Restaurants In Cape Town

There was such a variety of options in Cape Town that we were spoilt for choice. We availed of the different eating options while in Cape Town as many other destinations on this trip were all inclusive, and we wanted to take advantage of the diversity of experiences while we could.

Casual dining In Cape Town

As food markets are right up our alley, we couldn’t go past the V&A Food Market. This is a reclaimed, warehouse style setting home to an abundance of delicious food and drink outlets and an electric atmosphere. To take full advantage of this great selection of local and international flavours, we ate here a couple of times. The fact that it opens for brunch and goes right through to dinner, meant we could squeeze in more than one meal. Choosing between homemade pizzas, burgers, rice paper rolls, curries, smoothies, creatively flavored popcorn and a huge list of other options, will be your most difficult decision of the day! As there are both coffee venders and bars, it means you can have a casual brekkie or lunch or pop in later in the day for a relaxed dinner and a glass of local beer or wine…YUM!

Restaurant Dining

We had an amazing night strolling along the marina while checking out all the menus and beautiful restaurants on the waterfront. Choosing just one was a difficult decision as there were so many options that varied form cheap eats to more expensive dining venues. We were eventually drawn in by one menu due to the large selection of freshly made sushi and other seafood specials. Boy, were we pleased with our choice!

Harbour House Restaurant– The ambience of the restaurant was beautiful, with soft lighting and undemanding music in the background. Tables were in high demand and there was hardly an unoccupied seat the whole time we were there. The restaurant had both indoor and outdoor seating all overlooking the beautifully lit harbour; the perfect setting for a romantic dinner date!

The food itself was delicious. We started off with warm, house made bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar…washed down of course, with a couple of glasses of local pinotage wine.

We had a selection of freshly made sushi for mains. It all looked so tempting on the menu that we got a little carried away when ordering, but at such reasonable prices we were quite happy to do so. (I should be honest and admit there wasn’t much left on the plate when we left either!)

Tip:Watch out for the waiters running about with the specials boards. Although it seems to be how specials are communicated to customers in Cape Town, people dragging huge chalk boards between tables never got old and certainly gave us a giggle!

Table Mountain (The Best Views)

The picturesque views from Table Mountain were just breathtaking and as it is also such an iconic image of Cape Town, it is definitely ‘a must’ for anyone visiting the city. We decided to try the hop-on hop-off bus initially to give us a taste of what was at the top (or as close to the top as the bus goes).

There is the option of taking a cable car to the very top and even walking part of the way up the mountain but as the weather was quite hit and miss for us, we decided not to do either, due to the cloud cover. We were satisfied with the stop we made from the bus, as we had amply time for photographs and to take in the incredible views of the sweeping city from this vantage point.

Table Mountain

Hop On Hop Off Bus

The hop-on hop-off bus also gave us a nice taste of what the city centre was like, as well as the expensive suburbs that we drove through later in the day. The snippets of information we listened to on the bus were also very interesting and I would recommend this as a good option to get a good snap shot of the city if on a time budget like we were.

Table Mountain

Cape Point Day Trip Morning

This was a full day trip, packed with a huge variety of interesting stops and picturesque settings…brag worthy experiences not to be missed! The early morning drive along the Atlantic seaboard which took us to Hout Bay, was lined with gorgeous white beaches and rugged mountains…perfect locations for some great photography.

Views on the Cape

Hout Bay

The first major stop of the morning was optional, and at additional cost. We stopped at Hout Bay and had the option to take a ferry to a small island inhabited by hundreds of seals. Our driver called ahead to confirm the ferry was running as he advised it gets cancelled if sea conditions are too rough. We quickly learnt why this was!! Although the water seemed calm in the bay, once we got a little further out, the waves became quite large.

Sick Bags

We felt safe throughout the short journey (about 40 minute round trip), although not everyone was as lucky as us. One guy had felt adventurous on boarding and availed of the bar service…it only took him about 10 minutes to greatly regret that decision and while the rest of us snapped pictures of the basking seals, he examined the bottom of SEVEAL sick bags.

Seals at Hout Bay

Chapman’s Peak Drive

After this stop, we continued towards Cape Peninsula, a drive that took us along Chapman’s Peak Drive; renowned as one of the most stunning roadways in the world. It felt like we were scaling the mountain face as we meandered along the rugged coast, looking back over postcard worthy, pristine beaches.

Chapman’s Peak Drive

The most south-westerly point of the trip was to the Cape Point Nature Reserve, where we experienced being at the tip of the Cape Peninsula; something that has captivated travelers for years with its dramatic scenery and profound atmosphere.

Us at Cape Of Good Hope

Cape Point Lunch

It was at this stage at Cape Point that we had lunch and also a little free time to explore the breathtaking scenery from several viewpoints on the elevated walk up to the lighthouse. This could also be reached via a venicular tram if you didn’t feel up to the walk. There were two options for lunch here; the first being a seated restaurant and the alternative, a take-away food shop. Our driver advised us that the restaurant was often very busy which meant longer wait times and also quite expensive. The take-away option was very time efficient although the options were limited.

Penguin Beach Boulders Beach

As we travelled back towards Cape Town along False Bay coast, we had one final stop and it was certainly a cutie. Although this was also optional on our trip and again at additional cost, I think it was worth it.

At Boulder’s Beach, we had the opportunity to visit a colony of rare African penguins. We walked along a decking type fenced bridge, that allowed us to get very close to the penguins without interfering with them.

We had about an hour to watch them waddle and play together on the sand while others ducked and dived in the ocean. The sound these little penguins made was very unusual and watching them ‘honk’ and communicate with each other was fascinating. There was also a hole-in-the-wall coffee nook along the street that lead to the beach as well as an ice-cream window; the perfect spot for a little afternoon treat!

Memories Of New Zealand

We were delighted we had this stop as seeing the penguins is such a treat, we had the privledge of seeing the rare yellow eyed penguins in New Zealand and were desperate to see the African penguins. These African penguins seemed a lot more accustomed to people,

Penguins Boulders Beach

Robben Island Day Trip

This is the island where Nelson Mandela spent most of his prison life and is reached from Cape Town by a short ferry. Unfortunately, due to visibility conditions on the morning we were to visit the island, our ferry was cancelled.

We were very disappointed to be missing this tour but have been told that this is a common occurrence. I would therefore recommend, that if you wish to take this trip, schedule it early in your stay and if for any reason it gets cancelled, you will have more chance of being able reschedule it for another day.

Street Entertainment

Tip: To experience some authentic African entertainment, you can’t go past the amazing talent of the singers and dancers that are dotted around the marina area in the early evening and night. Take a wander before dinner and get swept away in the heart-warming rhythm and cheer of some incredible street performers.

Street Dancer Cape Town

And Cape Town Final Thoughts

So, for Cape Town city, that is our whirlwind visit. We hope you find something useful in this information or perhaps it entices you to consider a visit to this marvelous city.

Fancy taking a closer look at our stay in the Victoria and Alfred Hotel check out our review below.

The Victoria and Alfred Hotel Cape Town

South Africa was a big trip for us and we got to see so much from the wine region of Franschhoek , the city of Johannesburg and our favourite of all our safari in the Sabi Sands . A place we would recommend to anyone a country so diverse and full of history.

We hope to see you again soon.

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Our Africa Adventure (Off We Go)

Africa Introduction Our Plan

When we started planning this trip, I wasn’t 100% sold on the destination. It was Richard’s suggestion but as always, I was keen to try somewhere new and different. And am I glad I did!! Africa it was

If you ask any group of people, there is a good chance you will get a VERY mixed vibe about Africa. Let me give you a tip…if they haven’t been there, their opinion doesn’t count!

Our Destinations


As first time visitors to Africa, we wanted to experience different parts of what this amazing country has to offer. We were on a time frame of 2 weeks, so that was another factor in our planning. Once we started looking at the options, we quickly picked out several places we wanted to visit…the difficult part was narrowing it down to what we could fit into 2 weeks!

Where we went:

Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls
South Africa – Johannesburg
Cape Town
Franschhoek
Sabi Sands

We Hope You Enjoy The Series

See the history of Johannesburg as we visit places like Soweto and Constitutional Hill.

We visit the wonder of the world that is Victoria Falls and stay in the impressive Illala Lodge.

Moving on to Cape Town and seeing Table Mountain, Cape Point and a stay in the V & A hotel.

Enjoy as we unwind inbghe wine district of Franschhoek, catching wine trams, enjoying our stay at the Franschhoek Country House and dining at the Monneaux restaurants.

Then leave the best until last a safari in the Sabi Sands and stay at the luxurious Savanna Lodge.

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