Tuesday, March 15, 2016

South African Wine Safari with VM Travel Adventures

November is Spring in South Africa!!!

VM Travel Adventures' very first South African Wine Safari kicked off in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.  Our tour route would take us westbound along the Western Cape of Africa's southernmost continent ending in Cape Town with a climb up Table Mountain!

The Radchenko "birding team" and 7 other family members were picked up in George and subsequently whisked around in the van on the wrong side of the road for two weeks.

Rory and Natascha collaborated with Rory's family to provide a wonderful family visit of which the highlights were a beach braai BBQ with home cooked ingredients from Lederle's Bakery.  We did some fishing and some kayaking, enjoyed sundowners after rocky hikes on the peninsula.  Plettenberg Bay is a magical place offering the tourist the utmost holiday of adventure, animals and jungled forests.  Within these forests we got to swing from the tall canopies trying to catch a glimpse of a vervet monkey or a Knysna Lourie, a green curious fellow that warns you of danger.  We walked with the elephants in the sanctuary and learned all about their wildlife habits....  Sherry could not resit a ride on these majestic and endangered giants.... a once in a lifetime event! 

Once we were comfortable with the animals, monkeys and birds, we swiftly jumped out of our comfort zone with the Worlds' Tallest Bugee off of the Bloukrans Brige.  219 metres of Bungee and some fancy flying with Rory's drone made Myles' jump sensational!!

It seemed that the wonderful flavours of Africa followed us everywhere.... the wines we focused on were the non-chocolatey Pinotages along with the Chenin Blancs, both flagship wines of South Africa.  We tried a handful of different wild game flavours, Zebra, Ostrich, Kudu and Gemsbok.  Each and every restaurant had outstanding service and a complete wine list!  Some favourites included Cape Malay Curry, chicken livers, fresh fish and chips and peri-peri spice, of course!

The Garden Route Game Lodge gave us a good view of the BIG 5 up close and personally with our eccentric guide, Wessel.  He was passionate about the animals, and sadly predicts that there will be NO rhinos left in South Africa in a matter of 6 years.  SAVE THE RHINO!

The game lodge was an educational experience and the reptiles were much adored by all!  Next, we were whisked off to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa!  Peta hosted us in Saandbai, where the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet.  Myles collected shells and other crustaceans while we enjoyed walk on the beach some down time.   A sneaky back road to the Elim wine region had us off-roading with the locals and we caught a glimpse of a Secretary Bird and several Blue Cranes.

And the wine tour begins!  A charcuterie and wine tasting lunch at the Black Oystercatcher was our second stop in a long list of wineries we were about to visit....  Zain toured us through the Glen Carlou Winery and we set off for cheese and wine - and cheese - and wine at Fairview, where "goats do roam"!

The adorable metre was off the charts when we visited the penguins in Betty's Bay, and we kept our eyes peeled for the Southern Right Whale alone the Atlantic coast as we approached Paarl and Cape Town.   We partook in the Wellington Wine Walk, trekking 9 KMS though 4 vineyards and 'fynbos' interspersed by wine tasting and lunch!  Our host Vanessa at Ridgeback winery kept us busy in the region, visiting Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franshoek.  The highlight of this town was the market and the Cellarmaster's tasting and tour at Haute Carbriere...... the wine just kept on flowing and the giggles in the room crescendoed!

In Cape Town we saw all of the beaches, Hout Bay, Camp's Bay and Llandudno.  We even took a boat ride from the V & A Waterfront to Robben Island, the prison of Nelson Mandela, his having spent 18 years here in his 27 years of incarceration.   Madiba's memory lives on everywhere in Africa.  

Thanks so much to the family members and friends of VM Travel Adventures.  It was a pleasure to travel with such a fun group and the fun never stopped!  The biology and birding lessons made it an educational experience!

We plan on going back to Africa for more exquisite accommodation, gourmet cuisine and stunning beaches!  Until then we can enjoy our 'sundowners' and dream of our return to the Msanzi 'south' of Africa!  
Tot-Zins and until next time!!!

Life is too short not to have this much fun!

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