Aqua hiking, the ultimate experience on Reunion Island.

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“Look straight ahead and just take a step” says Aliocha, our guide.

I am about to obey and then time slows down,

My legs turn to jelly and my mind screams

“Are you flippen insane? “

I am standing on a slippery rock next to a waterfall that drops for way too many meters before it hits the pool below in a fury of white water. Above me green cliffs soar towards the heavens, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and I am in paradise.

I am also absolutely petrified and unable to move.

For days I have been mentally preparing myself for this jump of eight meters.

“It is mind over matter. It will be over in seconds. You can do it.”

Right, tell that to my body, because as much as I really want to jump, I just can’t seem to take that one little step.

I decide to start again.

I take a step back and foolishly look down. A swear word escapes from my lips.

I breathe.

Deeply.

Right, I am afraid of heights and today I am going to face my fear.

I make the decision, step forward, look forward and so begins the longest hesitation…

For thirty endless seconds I stand like a fool saying out loud

“I am going to do this, I want to do this, I can do this”.

I hyperventilate.

And then I just jump.

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It is not pretty, it is nowhere near graceful, but it is exhilarating.

I free fall and hit the water like a bullet, my body goes underwater while the life jacket rockets up to my ears and pops me back above the surface.

Laughing and gasping for breath, I look up to where I was standing just a few seconds ago.

It looks so far away; I can’t believe I just jumped from way up there.

I feel like a ninja. I am a flippen ninja.

Welcome to the ultimate experience on Reunion Island. This is Aqua Hiking, and if I can do it, anyone can do it.

The first challenge of aqua hiking starts after a winding, uphill drive from the coastal town of Saint Benoit to a small informal car park alongside the Langevin River.

The guide Aliocha, (just call me Yosh) presents me with my outfit for the day.

Stripped down to my bathing costume I start the long and arduous process of putting on a full body wetsuit. This involves a lot of grunting, rolling, stretching and pushing flesh into rubbery corners until finally it is on and I am exhausted.

Then come the socks, takkies, life jacket and helmet and the final flourish is a heavy duty Prussian blue piece of plastic that fits like a nappy. Not styling this look at all, and sweating profusely in this attractive getup, I start the 200 meter uphill walk to official starting point.

The not so little pint sized one in the middle is me.

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The views from the start are spectacular and a good excuse for a quick rest. A group in front of me are ziplining into the pool below, but our route involves climbing, slithering and slipping down black mossy rocks, over boulders in finally into the 8 degree water.

A few practice jumps off a meter high rock and I am oozing confidence. Bring it on.

Saying goodbye to the eight waterfalls that thunder into the first pool, I realise that this water flows pretty fast and concentrate on the instructions from Yosh.

Basically he tells me to lie on my back and use my feet and hands to avoid crashing into large rocks. OK then.

Yosh is incredibly fit, softly spoken and really calm. This is a good thing as freaking out was definitely an option on hearing these instructions.

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“Lie down, I am going to push you underwater. You must go under this rock, but don’t worry, you will come up on the other side.”

Whaaat? I can’t  even see the other side. Somehow I obey, and don’t drown.

I swirl along a few more gentle rapids, taking the line Yosh indicates and probably due to brain freeze, I trust everything that he says. Mostly it works out fine and then this happened.

I have been slipping and sliding over rocks, wading through shallow pools and climbing up and down embankments around trees, when I am told to sit down on a flat rock waist deep in water.

“Move to the left and lie down in the channel. Look up, cross your arms over your chest, I am going to push you, and keep to the left of the waterfall. Just trust me”

What the……. ?

I am sliding, no I am airborne and I am hurtling down a waterfall, inhaling most of it as I go. Once again the life jacket hits my ears and spluttering, choking and laughing I hang on to a rock to catch my breath.

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A swim to the rocky wall and I am behind a waterfall. Oh my soul, this is too much. I stand there grinning like a maniac trying to take it all in. The noise of the water rushing to meet the pool overwhelms all other senses and for a moment I am completely in awe of the power of nature. It is raw, unbridled energy.

Crouched down, I use everything I have to launch myself and I dive right through the waterfall and into the white water. I roll onto my back and float with the current.

I have never felt so alive.

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All too soon it is over and I wade through a few more pools before the short walk up and along the embankment to the car park.

The adventure ends with an ice cold beer and the long process of getting out of wetsuits, helmets and all the rest and back into regular clothes.

I felt like I could conquer the world. The next day, I could barely walk and sported an impressive collection of scrapes and bruises.

But I feel like a ninja. I am a flippen ninja.

I would do it again without a second thought. Next time, I’m choosing the full day option.

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To book an Aqua Hike contact www.Runaventures.com

Air Austral flies between Johannesburg and Reunion Island on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Thanks to Hannelie Diedericks for taking the pics with my phone. I need the evidence to prove to myself that I actually did this.🙂

Disclosure:  My visit to Reunion was as a guest of Reunion Tourism.   Opinions are all my own.

How to escape from the crowds in Knysna, South Africa

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Knysna is the ultimate holiday destination which means that loads of people flock there over the holidays. Sometimes the vibe starts to feel a little manic, the action somewhat frenzied, the crowds, the noise and the traffic overwhelming. It’s time for a change of pace. Here are 10 ways to enjoy Knysna that will not leave you stressed, frustrated, and yearning for peace and quiet.

  1. Escape to Thesen island and the Turbine Hotel

From the busy Knysna Waterfront, a 365m bridge over the water will welcome you to the relative calm of Thesen Island. Once a gritty industrial area and hub of the timber industry, it was converted into the Thesen Island Harbour Town, a magnificent marina development that was awarded Blue Flag status in 2013.

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Cars are only seen around the shopping mall and restaurant area, the rest of the island is linked by canals, waterways, pedestrian paths and nineteen bridges.

The Turbine Hotel on Thesen Island is masterpiece that will enthral anyone with an interest in architecture, design and engineering. This twenty four roomed boutique hotel manages to blend industrial edginess, five star luxury and local history into a refreshingly different place to stay in. Read more about the Turbine Hotel and restoration here.

The hotel is a skilful conversion of the old power station. Due to the heritage status of the building the exterior is unchanged, but the interior is what makes it unforgettable.

Brightly coloured tables and chairs share space with massive, freshly painted wood boilers, generators and turbines. A huge chain hoist and hook is a feature in the Tapas Bar and the dials and switches of the control panel situated behind the reception desk beg to be examined.

Metal stairs lead up to a grid walkway and one of the wood boilers, restored to pristine condition. The surrounding walls have stories to tell. Framed newspaper cuttings, some dating back to the early nineteen hundreds provide insight into a different time in history.  An old 1:50 000 map of Knysna shows how much the entire area has developed over the years.

A swimming pool that looks over the canals, fine dining at the Island Café and a peaceful sleep uninterrupted by traffic noise make the Turbine a tranquil haven for your base in Knysna.

  1. Find peace on the water

A sunset Cruise from the Thesen Island canals to the Knysna Heads with Turbine Water Club pontoons is a relaxing way to explore the marine eco- system, or just float mindlessly and take in the view. The bubbly and canapé’s served on board  add a decadent touch to the fresh sea air and the stunning views.

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  1. Celebrate the sunrise

In summer first light is around 5 am, the perfect time to take one of the bright red canoes out for a paddle on the waterways, sharing space only with the birds. Head out to the open waters of the lagoon and watch the Pied Kingfishers having breakfast. Nature puts on some great displays as these birds hover in the air before diving for fish. By 8am you can be back at the hotel enjoying a stack of pancakes and a cappuccino, completing the feeling of utter contentment.

  1. Discover the views

A drive to Knysna heads is a must if you find gazing at the ocean therapeutic. The Knysna Heads are two cliffs that rise up to 80 meters on either side of the narrow opening where the lagoon meets the sea. A short walk from the car park leads to various view points and gives a great orientation and overview of the Knysna area. Less popular, but a favourite place of mine are the Heads at sea level. A restaurant and a rocky beach lead to a cave like rock where the water echoes as it rolls in and out. Red starfish and sea urchins are easy to spot in the cave, but first prize goes to the Fish Eagle who paused briefly on a wooden pole, calling to his mate.

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  1. Explore on two wheels

A trip with Knysna Hike and Bike is not your average cycle tour. It starts with cake and cappuccino at a café with Anne and Mandy, Knysna locals and accredited professional tour guides. The pace is comfortable and the stops en route are unusual. A bit of effort was required to get up the hill in the industrial area but the reward was a beer tasting with The Red Bridge Brewing Co. This natural hand brewed beer is a celebration of everything about Knysna.

The Pioneer Series pays tribute to the Prospectors, Mariners and Woodcutters who shaped the town as we know it, and the ethos of this brewery is all about the community, from sourcing staff and ingredients to branding and manufacturing of bottles, crates and apparel. The beer is great too. The Privateer IPA is as good as any bitter, the Prospector Golden Ale is lighter and thirst quenching but the Woodcutter Saison Ale is the ultimate in craft beer. Subtle citrus undertones blend perfectly with hops and malt, this beer is best ordered by the jug, with a case or six to take home.

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  1. Visit the Knysna sea horses

These curious little creatures can be found at the SANPARKS office on Thesen Island. At just 7cm in length they are small in stature but big on design.

They are an endangered species, but could they also be suffering from an identity crisis

They have the exo -skeleton of an insect, and an internal skeleton of bones like a human. As water creatures they have fins and gills, but also have a pouch in their midsection just like a kangaroo, and sport a monkey like tail that is used for gripping. Their chameleon style eyes move independently and can see in all directions. Sea horses mate for life and the male is the one who gives birth. They seem a little shy but if you stand quietly at the tanks that house them you will be enchanted by these delicate, fairy-tale creatures.

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Knysna Hike and Bike can tailor make your ride to suit your interests and focus on beer, wine, gourmet food or anything else you can dream up.

  1. Head for the hills

A 25 km drive from the centre of Knysna will take you into the heart of the Millwood Forest where the trees soar, paths lead to waterfalls across golden coloured rivers and signs warn of the dangers of entering the old mining tunnels. Guided by an expert in the area from the Rheenendal Ramble tour company, the history of the woodcutters is brought to life, and the flora and fauna of the area explained, including tales of the elusive Knysna elephants, three of whom are definitely still living here.

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Forests are mystical and healing and Millwood is no exception, green, dense and silent apart from the sound of the rain splashing the top of the forest canopy but unable to penetrate the thick foliage.

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  1. Eat like your grandma once did

Lunch at the inimitable Totties Farm Kitchen is a feast for all the senses. The original store that served the woodcutters with their basic requirements still trades today and the buildings are a hodge podge of corrugated iron, stripped plank ceilings and mismatched window frames. Old photographs and memorabilia are dotted all around the interior and the gardens, and it is difficult to decide what to do first, eat or explore.

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  1. Indulge your senses

The ultimate in relaxation is a pamper session at the Amani African Spa, situated at the Turbine Hotel. Their signature kurhala ritual is a blissful ninety minutes of a full body and face massage coupled with a pressure point foot treatment that leaves you feeling like a new person.

  1. Save time by flying

Knysna is a 6-hour drive from Cape Town or as I recently discovered a 45 minute flight from Cape Town with Airlink.
Airlink – the Regional Feeder Airline, offers a wide network of regional and domestic flights within southern Africa and operates as a franchisee to SAA

Route Specific Information:  Direct scheduled flights between Cape Town and Durban to George.

Connectivity: Through our alliance with SAA travellers can connect conveniently with SAA, their Partner airlines and other carriers throughout Southern Africa and the world.

Frequent Flyer Programme: Airlink is a member of South African Airways (SAA) Loyalty programme -Voyager.

Website:  http://www.flyairlink.com

Flight Bookings:  online, booking agent or SAA Central Reservations +27 11 978 1111.

Disclosure My stay was hosted by the Turbine Hotel, this article first appeared on AFK Travel website.

 

Slow living on the Garden Route.

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The Garden Route is the name given to a stretch of coastline, mountains and forests that extends from Albertina to Storms River, in the Southern Cape region of Western Cape province in South Africa. Best known for the very popular towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, the whole area is ridiculously attractive and positively overflowing with golf courses, nature reserves, game and safari ranches, wildlife sanctuaries, water sports, hiking trails and scenic routes.

I recently spent eight days in a few of the small villages in the area, where life is lived at a slower pace.

Wilderness

Boardwalk at Wilderness

Imagine a beach with sand so white it hurts your eyes to look at it.  Black rocks, sand dunes covered in green and flowering succulents, fynbos covered mountains rising up from the coastline and roads and a railway line cut into the rock. Houses look on to the dark tannin stained waters of the Touws River, boardwalks beckon and bird calls fill the air. Looking up you will often see para-gliders floating on the thermals above this natural playground, sharing space with Fish Eagles, Reed Cormorants, Kingfishers and Spoonbills.  Welcome to the Wilderness.  A place for walking shoes, canoes, binoculars and your bathing costume.

Much of the greater Wilderness area is part of the Garden Route National Park which consists of rivers, forests, beaches and lakes. The Wilderness camp offers accommodation and an information office that has useful information on the various hiking trails, MTB Routes, bird hides and other activities within the Park.

Until 2007 a steam train ran between George and Knysna, crossing the iconic Kaaiman’s River Bridge.  Extreme flooding after a storm caused a landslide that covered a small section of the tracks high above the Wilderness beach.  Since then the steam train no longer operates but part of this railway route can now be enjoyed on foot.

Kaaimans Railway Bridge

Starting at the old Wilderness station follow the train tracks as they climb into the mountainside, weave through tunnels and afford fantastic views of the beaches. Take time to stop and examine the fynbos and flowers, listen to the birds, breathe in the air and enjoy the contrasts as you wander from sun to shade and into the chill of the tunnels.  Scramble down the rough path to the little village of Victoria Bay to watch the surfers and enjoy an ice cream before heading back. A highlight is crossing the old bridge over the Kaaimans River. I was petrified as I am afraid of heights, but it was both heart stopping and worthwhile. The round trip is about 7km.

Just 7 km inland and about 200m above sea level is the rural area of Hoekwil,  and the tranquillity of the 7 Passes Tented Camp. Forests and farmlands thrive side by side in these hills.  This is the place to truly get away from it all. Hikes, easy walks, bird watching or just lazing on the deck of your tent set on a stilted platform in the trees overlooking the lake.

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In “Sedgies” you will find your sanity. Slow living is celebrated in this official “slow town.” Time is not measured, nature is savoured, and shoes are optional. Slow living encompasses all aspects of life, from finding a healthy balance between work and play, to embracing the community,  conserving the environment and respecting the seasons.

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Sedgefield is built around a lagoon and the beach so a water view is almost always an option. Friendliness is the default setting of the locals and you quickly become accustomed to being greeted by everyone.

It is easy to spend all day wandering along the beaches, marveling at the fossilized dunes at Gerrike’s Point, spotting birds while walking along the lagoon towards the sea, or driving around town and stopping at the mosaic installations which are part of a community project. There is plenty to explore for free, but if you like you can add a tour  guide which will create a richer experience.

Saturday mornings are for rising early as it is market day.The Mosaic Market, The Wild Oats Farmers Market and the Scarab Village Market all converge just outside of town and it is a festival of shopping for locals, tourists and residents of the surrounding towns.  Fresh and home grown local produce is sold out fast, breakfast, brunch, lunch and snacks are consumed at the huge variety of stalls. Crafts, art, wine, beer, clothing and almost anything else you can imagine is sold here.

My personal favourite is the Currywurst from Wurst Express, and I never leave without a few bottles of Jan’s special sauce.

If you are visiting the area, you absolutely must include a Saturday in Sedgefield.

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Injured or human imprinted birds of prey find a safe haven at Radical Raptors , an education and rehabilitation centre situated on the N2 approaching Plettenberg Bay.Flying displays are offered three times a day at 11am, 1pm and 3pm and are educational and entertaining. Dennis is clearly passionate about these birds and a staunch conservationist as well.

He explains that birds raised by humans are unable to be released into the wild as they would not have the instincts or skills needed to survive. These birds need to be exercised and they are used in the educational displays. Dennis knows each bird intimately and he is spot on in his description of their different personalities. The Rock Kestrel loves to show off and swoops and swirls gracefully for the small audience. The Crowned Eagle wants to be in charge, and even when tempted with food will only fly when she feels like it. My favourite, the Spotted Eagle Owl is cheeky and swoops over our heads brushing our hair before circling for another round. Dennis offers us a glove and we extend our arms for an up close look at the various birds as the fly in and perch inches from our faces. . This visit taught me a lot about rat poisons and other pesticides and the huge threat they pose to these glorious birds.

Nature’s Valley

This exquisite area is only slightly tamed, nature is in charge here.  From 250m above sea level at the National Road, a narrow pass curls and bends through a tangled forest for 12 km before giving you a sneak preview of a jaw dropping beach unmarred by too many footprints.

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Conservationists will love this area as there are numerous sanctuaries within a 20km drive.This small settlement consists of about 10 narrow streets laid out in a dense forest that leads to the beautiful beach.  I stayed at Lily Pond Lodge which is on the road that leads to the village.

I met the dynamic Lara Mostert, one of the passionate wildlife activists behind Birds of Eden, Monkeyland and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary. Lara took me on a guided tour around Birds of Eden talking with pride and passion about the 3500 birds now living here. The area is 2.17 hectares of trees, waterfalls, a river and dams, creating a very natural feel to a controlled environment. The birds can fly fairly freely as in parts the huge mesh enclosure is 35 metres high.

Monkeyland operates on a similar system, with lemurs, vervets and capuchin just a few of the curious primates you can see as you walk through the tree paths.

Jukani is where you will find the big cats, lion, cheetah, black and snow leopard and caraculs. Each animal has a sad story to tell and although very educational a visit is a very sobering experience.

All the sanctuaries mentioned are opposed to any human interaction and exploitation of the animals. No petting or touching is permitted, and no breeding or selling takes place.

Disclosure: This post was first published on AFK Travel

DeZeekoe sunset over dam Di Brown

DeZeekoe in Oudtshoorn

Heat shimmers in waves off the tar, the air is as dry as ostrich biltong and smells faintly of the fynbos that thrives on either side of the road in the rich rust coloured earth. Mountains frame the views in distant washed out greys and the land changes to shades of green as we turn off to De Zeekoe.

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This luxury accommodation is on a working farm on the R328, just ten kilometers outside of Oudtshoorn .  It is far enough to get the rural feeling but a five minute drive will get you into town so it really offers the best of both worlds.

Farm life

De Zeekoe has three separate areas offering accommodation to cater for different needs. The luxury suites are at the main reception next to the restaurant and pool flanked by a true Karoo wind pump, play area and fire pit.

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At the top of the hill are the self catering stone cottages offering privacy and views forever and down in the dip are the rustic wooden chalets overlooking the dam.

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Bellowing cows joined the dawn chorus and sunrise called my name. The tick tick of the huge water sprayers drew me like a magnet pulling me in for an unplanned shower, and the horses in the field laughed.

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The colours are on steroids and I have to drag myself away to go for breakfast.

DeZeekoe farm machinery Di Brown

This huge digger passes me on the farm path. There is something very sexy about these giant working vehicles.

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The farm is already busy with farmy type activities as I wander back to my room to shower, dress and head off for food.

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Fed and well coffeed up, it’s time to visit some locally recommended places and Die Smitswinkel is the first stop. The interior is a great collection of #Karoomobilia, I just quickly made up that word, but think of little wind pumps, mugs, keyrings, meerkats, carpets, clothing and of course food, all made in true Karoo style or depicting something iconic from the area.

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Good for an hours browsing at least.

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Then  go out the back and top up with some more coffee, this time from Blacksmith, the roasters with heart. Called the Blacksmith Coffee Movement,  it’s about making fantastic coffee with a good conscience. Fair trade principles are adhered to, and the Barista Upliftment Program offers real hope and opportunities for the youth. Please go and look at their website, buy their coffee and drink some goodness.

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Oudtshoorn is a perfect starting point for a circular drive you will never forget. You need an early start and a whole day to really enjoy this, and probably the next two days to return to your favourite finds.

Some highlights of this route include R328. Known as the Cango Route, there are plenty of attractions on the 50km you travel before reaching the start of the mighty Swartberg Pass. Olive estates, Karusa Winery and Tapas, Kobus se Gat country pub, Wilgewandel Holiday Farm and Bella Mia Olives and Pottery to name just a few.

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Plan a day or three to visit and explore the fine wines and ports from the Klein Karoo Wine Route.

Take your time as you navigate the Swartberg Pass, stop at the viewing points and marvel at the genius engineering of Thomas Bain. The building of the pass was completed in 1886 and used only by carts and wagons. The first time a car  traversed the pass was in 1904.

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These views have to be photographed somehow, and I was forced by Anje to resort to extreme measures to get the shots I wanted.

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We left too late to do the whole route and after passing signs telling us that the road might be closed we passed a lorry coming the other way who said we could continue. We got totally side tracked by the burned veld and the proteas that survived, that we never made it to the top.

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flower Di Brown

Burned proteas Swartberg pass Di Brown

Earlier in the year when I planned to drive this amazing pass, a short way up, this happened and the pass was closed. Maybe next time😦

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On completing the drive over the pass, you can either carry on for about 10km to the town of Prince Albert, well worth a visit, or turn right onto the R407, continue on to the N12 and drive along the prettiest pass in South Africa, the Meiringspoort Pass.

This will take you into De Rust. Visit the Village Art Scene, enjoy a donkey cart ride, and do not miss the Doornkraal winery just out of town or Mons Ruber  directly opposite. Pot stilled brandy, witblits and entertaining conversation await you. From there a drive of 25km will take you back into Oudtshoorn.

Curious ostriches come to say hi, or buzz off from their home on the lower slopes of the Swartberg Pass.

Hello ostrich Swartberg Di Brown

Driving back into De Zeekoe the dipping sun got our attention and the race was on to find the best spot for some pics.

DeZeekoe road Di Brown

DeZeekoe river sunset Di Brown

We raced around the farm like lunatics, stopping to gasp, click and do another 360 scan before we finally settled at the river.

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Joggers and cyclists passed us as we sat here in awe.

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We waited until the very end, silent, humbled by the show that the Karoo sky put on.

The next night we went to the dam and were rewarded again with a spectacular show.

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The only sounds are the birds and the frogs and the click of a camera.

 

DeZeekoe sunset over dam Di Brown

DeZeekoe dam sunset Di Brown

DeZeekoe is a nature lover and photographer’s dream.

An activity not too miss is a Meerkat Encounter on the property. Ethical, incredible and discounted to DeZeekoe guests, you can read about my experience here.

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Grand Constance, a winter pairing.

It’s one of those winter’s days when your duvet is your best friend and you seriously contemplate working from your bed. All I want to say is “Really Cape Town, does it have to be this cold?”

But I have a date with food and wine and history at Groot Constantia, so I dress up and show up, shivering and muttering just a little bit.

The focus is food, but I am still at the “I don’t understand this menu” level .

The food is being paired with wine which unless served in a really small glass makes me sleepy, drunk or both very quickly.

My mood improves slightly as I enter the grounds of Groot Constantia. A weak sun is shining on the vineyards and the old buildings have a classic beauty that is admirable in any weather.

Groot Contantia perfevcting life for 300 years Di Brown

Entering the private function room at Jonkershuis Restaurant I am cheered up a bit more by the warmth of the fire, gorgeous table, warming nibbles and a glass of Grand Constance.

a warm fire paired with Grand Constance Di Brown

I am addicted to Grand Constance, so let me tell you a little bit about it.

It comes from the Cloete Cellar at Groot Constantia which is the original home of the South African wine industry dating all the way back to 1685.

Grand Constance is a sweet wine with spicy undertones and smoother than anything you will ever taste in your entire life.

It is high in sugar, totally organic and wine maker Boela Gerber has managed to come very close to replicating the recipe and methods used hundreds of years ago, when this wine was highly sought after by the who’s who of Europe.

Groot Constantia still have the original purchase order from Napoleon Bonaparte who needed thirty bottles of Groot Constantia wine a month to give him comfort during his exile on St Helena Island.

Grand Constance Di Brown

Grand Constance is made from Muscat grapes which are left on the vines until they are practically raisins. They are then picked, stomped and allowed to ferment for a few days before being pressed and put into barrels for a couple of years. That’s just the basics of the process; they are not giving away all their secrets.

Whatever they do and however they do it, the result is very palatable. In my opinion Grand Constance can be paired with everything, but Groot Constantia does have other great wines, and this is how they chose to pair them.

Grand Constance

By now I am cheerful and warmed by the fire and the generous glass of Grand Constance that has warmed and charmed me into good humour. I take a look at the four course menu and foreign words assail me.

Pafait, gnudi, emulsion, parmentier, terrine, fondant.

Help! What does it all mean?

A few English words come in to focus and reassure me, nice easy words like cauliflower, mash, kudu and chocolate cake. OK,maybe I will survive.

the table is set, Jonkershuis Di Brown

The starter and dessert were both paired with Grand Constance and did an excellent job in enhancing all the subtle flavours of the wine.

For the foodies, here are the details, foreign words and all.

Starter: Chicken liver parfait, soft creamy goat’s cheese on brioche toast served with a choice of these preserves.

Apricot and vanilla, spiced beetroot relish, apple chutney, almond and honey praline, pineapple and chilli preserve.

The dessert was a celebration of chocolate flavours and consisted of a dark chocolate and citrus terrine, a chocolate fondant with salted caramel and a gluten free chocolate cake.

We also enjoyed a Governeurs Reserve White wine with Ricotta Gnudi, butternut emulsion, sage noisette butter and spinach.

This was followed by a Governeurs  Reserve Red with Deconstructed Kudu Wellington, buttered cauliflower mash, puff pastry with porcine and red wine sauce and roasted winter root vegetables.

Despite my initial misgivings and appalling ignorance and inability to speak fluent “food and wine” this restaurant is not easy to leave.

From the creative blends of flavours to the friendliness of our hosts and the perfect private setting for a day of indulgence, GrootConstantia  delighted me.

Jonkershuis door Di Brown

Foodies will swoon and drool and to any non-foodies like me, the food might sound scary and weird but it is actually normal food with a delicious twist and when the plate is in front of you, you will recognise most of what is on it.Trust me, just dig in and enjoy it.

I finally left the venue, full, warmed, merry and with a great respect for the creative people who combine science and a passion for food with such artistic flair and make eating an adventure.

 

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