When I was asked to join a MINI roadtrip of the Western Cape in South Africa with fellow bloggers René, Isa, Camilla and Nico, I was absolutely eager to join. I didn’t regret my decision for one minute: our journey across Cape Town, Paarl, Grand Roche and Hermanus was an adventure I’ll never forget
We took off from Frankfurt to Cape Town with South African airlines. It’s a tedious adventure, as there are no direct flights from Berlin to South Africa. Ultimately, we had stops in Frankfurt and Johannisburg before we arrived in Cape Town.
Roadtrip route across the Western Cape
Within 7 days, we completed the following stops:
- Cape Town
- Cape of Good Hope
- Westcoast National Park
- Rebeek Castle
- Riebeek Valley
- Grande Roche Hotel
- Sanbona Game Reserve
It’s quite the immense itinerary for one week. I would prefer to stay longer (as always), but I appreciated every second of our trip nonetheless. I’ve already highlighted my favorite stops – not to say that the rest wasn’t worth a visit, but everyone’s got to have a favorite.
Highlights of the Western Cape road trip
We arrived in Cape Town, a vibrant city of color and diversity. Impressive colonial style architecture mixes with modern infrastructure. A sight to behold, obviously, is the famous neighborhood Bo Kaap. It’s houses are painted in candy cotton bubble gum colors, definitely an urban treasure (for every Instagram photographer there is).
Our tight schedule didn’t allow for much sightseeing, although we did take a guided tour around the city center. A sundowner drink on Signal Hill concluded a sunny and beautiful first day in South Africa.
Cape of Good Hope
After an elaborate breakfast – oysters and champagne at the One & Only Hotel in Cape Town – we got into our quirky little Mini Cooper S Roadsters and drove to the Cape of Good Hope. Although the weather was rather stormy, I was thrilled to be at the southernmost point of the world (something to cross out on any serious traveler’s bucket list). We continued our drive to the Tintswalo restaurant, definitely a culinary highlight of our trip through the Western Cape. This fine dining experience had me stunned, not only for the panoramic view over the ocean which the establishment offers next to its hotel rooms, but also because of an amazing menu (tender veal, succulent wines). I had not expected South Africa to bring forth such culinary expertise, but I was enlightened throughout the trip.
Bartholomeus Klip is an old, colonial farmhouse surrounded by zebras, antilopes and baboons. The chic and romantic country lodge is quiet and sweet, perfect for a short getaway from Cape Town (only an hour drive away).
I had a really hard time parting from Bartholomeus Klip, but alas, we had to leave. We continued our trip into the Winelands of South Africa. After all, the Western Cape is famous for its wine production. My sadness upon departing was forgotten immediately when we turned into the entrance gate of the Grande Roche Hotel, our next overnight destination. This 5-star, pompous chalet was a bit too flaunting for my taste, but nevertheless absolutely gracious and fantastic. This “castle” is set on a plateau, overlooking the wine valleys of the Cape.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Here comes my absolute favorite part of our road trip through South Africa: our stay at the legendary Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. Smaller in size than famous Kruger Park, Sanbona is also home to the so called Big 5: the African Elephant, the Leopard, the Lion, the Rhino and the African Buffalo. It is also the habitat of hippos, zebras, cheetahs and many other wildlife we encountered on our African Safari through the park.
Far away from paved roads, we checked into the Private Sanbona Lodges. They are completely immersed into the wilderness of the valley, only separated by a tiny electric fence from a reservoir. After a quick snack – Antelope Burger (the chewy meat takes some getting used to, but a burger is a burger) – we continued on our first game drive in Sanbona.
We saw our first Antilopes and Giraffes, grazing next to Zebras, within minutes of our journey. I felt utterly blessed to be in the vicinity of such unthinkable creatures. It was then our guide Pascal received a radio transmission and immediately corrected our course: someone had spotted the white lion cubs that roamed the park. It was already dark by the time we saw them, so I don’t have any usable proof, but we were only a meter away from them as they approached our jeep. Three lions: mama and two cubs. White as snow. I could smell their breath from where I sat – that’s how close they got.
On our next drive, we saw a horde of of elephants and even spotted a bathing, lazy hippo. Pascal even pointed out a sneaky Cheetah hiding in the bushes. It’s very rare to see Cheetahs (or white lion cubs for that matter). This is more than I could have ever hoped for.
The Marine, Hermanus
On our last leg of the Western Cape itinerary, we drove to Hermanus along a winding coastal road that had me cursing. We checked into our last lodge, The Marine, as a beautiful sunset painted the sky in exploding fires. In the winter, you can dive with sharks and whales in Hermanus, but we were much too early for that and so had to enjoy the view on it’s own.