Stuart, Jan, Matthew and Erin
After receiving your meticulously planned itinerary for our South African holiday, I thought it only right that we give you our honest thoughts about every aspect of our holiday .....
There are not enough superlatives to describe the holiday we have just had. It was fabulously awesome and far exceeded any of our expectations! The flight to Cape Town was great and getting through the airport and collecting our hire car was slick and smooth.
Lawhill Apartments were stunning and perfectly matched our requirements for exploring beautiful Cape Town. In the four days we were there, we managed to do Table Mountain, the red open top bus route that took us to Camps Bay, Cape Point, the wee fellas in dinner suits at Boulders Beach and Robben Island. We spent time at Quay Four watching the cape fur seals whilst we had a spot of lunch and ate dinner in some fabulous restaurants from the fish market to the traditional South African restaurant Karibu. We even managed to squeeze in a bit of the Jazz Festival to boot!!
Although a little more expensive than other breakfasts we had, we loved the One & Only and were treated like royalty by their staff every time we ate there, incredible considering we weren't hotel guests!!
We moved on from Cape Town to Gondwana. Although it was a long drive, it was a nice one with beautiful scenery. Gondwana itself was absolutely perfect for our first safari with the kids. The villa was enormous and had everything we could possibly need. We did four game drives during our stay (2 evening and 2 morning) and were lucky to experience four of the big 5! Both Erin and Matthew also participated in all the kids activities from treasure hunts, cookie decorating and the skull garden, which filled the time in between. Unfortunately the weather turned towards the end of our stay, but this gave Stuart and I the opportunity to experience Gondwana's spa treatments and we could also borrow DVD's from reception to watch back in our villa.
From Gondwana we headed to The Views in Wilderness. You surpassed yourself with this one! What an absolutely incredible place to stay!! We turned up too early for check-in, but were greeted with open arms and although our rooms were not ready, we were offered refreshments and use of their facilities. We sat outside on the deck soaking up the fabulous sea views only to be treated by several schools of dolphins playing in the surf - amazing!
The rooms/suite we were allocated were perfect in every way (1 & 1A). to be able to lay in your bed watching the waves crashing along the beach was absolutely mesmerising and something we will never forget. We didn't get to do the drive you recommended although we did venture up the outeniqua pass to Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves. Unfortunately as we hadn't booked the waiting time was 3 hours, so we headed back down and stopped off at Cango Wildlife Ranch. What a find that was! We spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the park and watching the crocs jumping out of the water for food and of course the big cats. Matthew and I also ventured into the cheetah enclosure to stroke and have our pictures taken with these magnificent creatures - unforgettable!!
As with Gondwana, the weather wasn't particularly great during our stay at Wilderness, so we took the opportunity to venture up to Plett and Monkeyland. Again a lovely afternoon spent watching these amazing primates. I'll be honest, we were sad to leave Wilderness and were worried that we would be disappointed with Plettenberg Bay.
Emily Moon already had a hard act to follow, but the reception we got upon arrival to drop our bags didn't help their case! We knew we were early, but wanted to head down to the beach without having suitcases on view in the car, but were greeted by a receptionist that was most put out that we were there.
The room we were given was beautiful and we could really understand your thought process when putting our itinerary together. Emily Moon had taken the liberty of reserving us a table for dinner, but we couldn't believe how popular it was with bookings having to be made months in advance. Unfortunately on the first night we were shown to our table and more or less forgotten about for the rest of the evening. We don't like doing it, but we complained. The food we were served was sublime, but the service fell way short of anything we had experienced during our trip and we explained this to them, saying we were staying there on recommendation. We dined with them the following evening as they asked us to give them a chance to put things right and they did, although I have to say it was slightly uncomfortable as everyone was then a little over attentive!
Whilst in Plett the weather improved so we spent most of our time chilling out and relaxing on the beach and trying to recover from a hectic and full on 10 days. However, our last afternoon was spent at Knysna Elephant Park. After my wedding day and the birth of my children, this has to be one of the most special days of my life. We all went along on the tour to touch and feed the elephants, but Matthew and I had booked the sunset ride. What an utterly awesome experience that will stay with me forever.
So, what were the highlights? Stuart's had to be Table Mountain, mine and Matthew's were most definitely the ride with elephants and Erin? Well she says it was just everything!!
Would we have done anything differently? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if we were to do it again knowing what we know now, we would have spent an extra night in Cape Town, a night less in Gondwana and would have then based ourselves in Wilderness for the rest of the holiday, purely because The Views was spectacular.
We are now home, dreading the prospect of work tomorrow and have a seriously bad case of holiday blues. One thing is for sure, this may have been our first holiday in South Africa, but it most certainly won't be our last!
I have attached a couple of photographs from our trip and all that's left is for me to thank you for an unforgettable experience.