Discover Natural Beauty on the De Hoop Trail

Very few places in the world can boast of the breathtaking diversity and stunning natural beauty that De Hoop, the Jewel of the Cape, offers.  Nature lovers can experience this stunning, pristine environment by walking the De Hoop Trail, a stimulating and inspiring exploration of both the De Hoop Vlei and the magnificent De Hoop Coastal Reserve.De Hoop

The De Hoop Coastal Reserve has a variety of values:

  • It is a magnificent outdoor ‘classroom’, offering spectacular viewing opportunities.
  • It houses undisturbed archaeological sites of great significance and the well-preserved architectural historical homesteads at De Hoop, Melkkamer and Potberg, allows you to experience a bygone era from a cultural-historical perspective.
  • The Vlei is a 19 km long, highly productive ecosystem – it is a Ramsar site of international ecological importance, where water fowl and other organisms breed and feed undisturbed. It is here that many of the 260 bird species which occur at De Hoop can be seen.
  • Its diversity of 1 500 plant species is amongst the highest in the Cape Floristic Region. It’s an absolute privilege for discerning visitors to walk between rare fynbos vegetation and view the rare flowering plants from up close.

Guests on the trail are accommodated in the Opstal Suites or in the Opstal Manor House.  Another accommodation option is on the western bank of the De Hoop Vlei, where there is a remote area known as the Melkkamer. This was originally the centre of the farm, ‘The Hope’.  The Melkkamer Manor House was built in 1907 and has both Neo-Cape as well as Edwardian and Art Nouveau features and is the epitome of stylish elegance, with tall chimneys, spacious verandas and high ceilings. 

Melkkamer, De Hoop

Trail ‘must-knows’:

  • A maximum of 12 people, aged 12 and older, may participate (children younger than 12 will be accommodated by prior arrangement if the entire trail is booked by a single group).
  • A reasonable level of fitness is required. The walk can be long and sometimes uneven, especially on the coastal rocks, but the walking pace is leisurely and focuses on being an interpretive experience of the natural environment.
  • The Trail incorporates birding, game viewing, learning about the fascinating fynbos and incredible marine experiences along the unspoiled shores of De Hoop, learning about life in the inter-tidal zone.

The three-night trail is a fully catered luxury trail with two days spent with a private guide to accompany you on special guided activities.

The Rate:

R7 900 per person sharing. This includes accommodation, internal reserve transfers, all scheduled meals, hot/cold teas, bottled water, coffees and juices but excludes cool drinks and alcoholic beverages.  Minimum six guests.

*De Hoop Collection Terms and Booking conditions apply. The general rules and regulations of Cape Nature and De Hoop Nature Reserve will apply and indemnity documents will be completed before participating.

Phone 021-422 4522 or email res@dehoopcollection.co.za

www.dehoopcollection.com

8 Best Autumn Destinations

Autumn is a season of beautiful scenery, lovely weather (for the most part) and stunning photography. We’ve made a list of the top 8 autumn destinations across the globe, which are definitely worth a visit:

Autumn

Gruyere Cheese FactoryGruyère, Switzerland

Autumn is the ideal time for hiking in Switzerland, with all the summer crowds gone and the scenery changing hues. The Chemin du Gruyère is a 3-hour trail between a chocolate factory and the popular Gruyère cheese-making centre. Definitely something to put on your bucket list!

Wester Ross, Scotland

If you enjoy autumn for its delights of mushroom foraging, Wester Ross is the place to be! That and their smoked salmon and squat lobster will have you want to prolong your stay.

 

Paso Robles, California, USA

This is a lesser known wine region, almost the same distance from LA than from San Fransisco, with beautiful autumn views among rolling hills. You’ll find Petite Syrah around every corner – the perfect autumn experience further down the Californian Coast.

The Winelands, South AfricaAutumn Vineyards

The Cape Winelands turn into the most remarkable pallet of colours in autumn, inviting domestic and international visitors to enjoy this lovely season among thousands of hectares of vineyards. Tulbagh, Stellenbosch, Paarl and many other areas boast some of the most magnificent views – a must see for any traveller fond of fine weather and wine.

Snowdonia, Wales

Even though you might have to bring your raincoat, long, chilly walks in these mountains are something out of this world. The perks of these hikes come in the form of stunning views and post-hike pub experiences in front of open fires.

Snowdonia, Wales

 

The Cotswolds, England

Explore the picturesque Cotswold Way by foot in this lovely, yet cool and cloudy weather and treat yourself to some cream tea in some of England’s most beautiful, historic villages.

Underberg, South Africa

With its tree lined streets, Drakensberg views and oak trees leading the way to Himeville, the gateway to Sani Pass, this village is a must visit destination in South Africa.

Clarens, South Africa

Clarens is a small town in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, nicknamed the Jewel of the Eastern Freestate. Its poplar trees and sandstone cliffs boast the most beautiful autumn imagery, combined with lovely restaurants and art galleries.

 

Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches pay homage to heritage fare

Chef George Jardine to enthral with traditional tastes and champion wines

28 May, 27 August & 19 November

BHWL feasting LR

Bottelary Hills Feasting

Discover what makes fine country food and slow-crafted wine so special when you book a seat at this year’s trio of Pop Up Lunches featuring the Stellenbosch wine route of Bottelary Hills and celebrated, Scotland-born chef George Jardine.

The must-do winery lunch series has grown to become a feature on the calendar of food and wine-lovers who can’t miss this annual taste exploration showcasing different farms and wines of the region each year. Stepping up the attraction, a headline chef is part of the mix too.

George Jardine with knife LR

Chef George Jardine

On the heels of Bertus Basson’s participation in 2016, comes celebrated chef George Jardine whose stellar career includes a string of successful restaurants and his most recent project – the fine dining eatery in the heart of Stellenbosch, Restaurant Jardine.

For the Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches 2017, Jardine will present his signature foodie pizzazz at Hartenberg Wine Estate on 28 May; Kaapzicht Wine Estate on 27 August; and, Mooiplaas Wine Estate and Private Nature Reserve on 19 November. At the same time, guests will have the chance to socialise with the winemakers or owners themselves.

 

The theme of the menu and events will serve to highlight the deep historical roots of the region and farms of Bottelary Hills.

Known for producing champion wines, Bottelary Hills is one of five sub-routes in the Stellenbosch wine region and is situated to the northwest of South Africa’s famous wine capital.

Bottelary Hills is home to some of the oldest wine farms in the country and many of them have been nurtured over generations by the same families. As a result, they have an incomparable understanding of the terroir, which shows in the wines the region produces,” says Stellenbosch Wine Routes manager Elmarie Rabe.

“Then pairing these wines with the cooking of one of South Africa’s most acclaimed chefs is an opportunity no epicurean dare miss.”

BHWL food service LR

Bottelary Hills Dining

For the lunch at Hartenberg Estate on 28 May, guests will get insight to heritage stretching back to 1692. Hartenberg lies in a valley on the free-draining, north-eastern slopes of the Bottelary Hills where its vineyards were planted to take most advantage of either morning or afternoon sun. There is a difference in altitude of some 250m between the vineyards, providing sought-after diversity to its portfolio. At the hand of renowned cellar master Carl Schultz, the estate has become known especially for is outstanding Shiraz wine.

On 27 August, it’s the turn of Kaapzicht Wine Estate. The name is derived from Dutch and refers to the sweeping views of hills and Table Mountain the estate enjoys. The Steytler family has farmed the 190ha property since 1946 and specialises predominantly in red cultivars. Kaapzicht’s unirrigated vineyards thrive in ancient, weathered granite soils and are cooled by breezes from the Atlantic Ocean just 30km away – ideal conditions that produce full bodied, fruity and award-winning wines.

The final Pop Up Lunch on 19 November features Mooiplaas, which has a reputation for spectacular scenery almost equal to the elegance of its wines. Here too, is a farm built on heritage, care for the land and topographical contrast that results in diverse microclimates. Cape Granite is the foundation material of the soils on the estate, which comprises some 100ha of vineyard and 70ha reserved for its nature reserve.

Tickets to the Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches cost R550 per person and include a wine tasting prior to lunch and the ensuing three-course feast, served generously with glasses of estate wine paired with each course. Each guest also gets a bottle Bottelary Hills wine to enjoy at home too.

Booking for every one of the popular events is required as the tickets are limited. To make a reservation or see a map of Bottelary Hills, visit the Stellenbosch Wine Routes website. For more information phone (021) 886 8275.

Get social and share your experience with Stellenbosch Wine Routes on Twitter @StellWineRoute and Facebook.

Avondale Wines at Marble Restaurant

It’s not every day that you get to eat lunch at Marble Restaurant in Rosebank, let alone in the company of whom I believe is one of South Africa’s top proprietors in the wine industry.

I was invited to join Johnathan Grieve from Avondale Wines, along with a two other journalists, for what he calls a vertical tasting of Avondale‘s white wine range, Cyclus, paired with a delicious lunch at Marble Restaurant. It’s not the norm for the travel editor of BELLA Magazine to enjoy the food editor’s perks, but this time I got lucky.

Finding Marble Restaurant if you’re a first time visitor, might be challenging as the signage for this high in the sky restaurant (literally) is quite small and almost unnoticeable among parallel parked cars, construction barriers and cones around the Trumpet on Keyes building where the restaurant resides. But, once I entered Marble, on the third floor, my frustration with the concrete jungle was immediately exchanged with awe – what I saw was an almost 180 degree city view and, even though in daytime the view was quite hazy, I can only imagine what it must be at night. Jo’burg truly is the City of Gold.

Marble struck me as a high end restaurant with posh, carefully thought through interiors and a top quality dining experience. The staff are well trained and professional and shares Avondale Wines‘ sentiment for elegance. Chef David Higgs‘ menu is rich in a variety of South Africa‘s finest cuisine: Blackened Octopus with crushed paprika potato, candied lemon and squid ink dressing; Rib Eye Steak with burnt end beans and mature cheddar, homemade pickle, smoked pepper and chipotle sauce and Lamb Cutlets with chimmi churri, crisp potato skins and lemon labneh. Need I say more?

Avondale Wines, a family run wine farm between Paarl and Franschhoek, is known for its unique wine farming techniques. They call themselves slow-wine makers and make handcrafted, organic wines that surprise you with multidimensional flavours. These wines are different. The white wines are only released two years after production, which may cause it to loose the original fruity flavours, but gives it time to develop and age into absolute elegance.

Avondale makes use of ancient, original farming techniques and have mastered the art of focusing their farming on rhythms, energy and homeopathic remedies. Their wines, which are not only unique, but also top quality in my opinion, resembles their utmost respect and symbiotic relationship with nature.

Fabar Restaurant, Avondale Wines‘ latest venture, will open its doors on 19 October 2016. Be sure to pop in whenever you are in the area.

Honeymoon Travels

I’ve come to realize that the saying comparing the world to a book, explaining that those who don’t travel, read but a page, is so very true! In the past few months I’ve been blessed with travel opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, starting with a visit to some of our top clients within the BON Hotel Group and ending off with champagne on the beach at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort.

Yup, I got married! And our honeymoon was one for the books. I was taken by surprise with how well my man knows me, kicking off our travels with a visit to one of my favourite parts of South Africa: the Freestate. Many people describe this part of the country as boring, flat and as a place with nothing to do. But that’s just it! Within its “nothingness” lies so many stories, small, beautiful things and the most generous and humble people I know. We stayed at Woudzicht Guest Farm, just off the N3, and what a treat! It is a typical Freestate home with the kind of hospitality we now try to bring back and teach. From “soetkoekies” (sweet biscuits like my grandmother would bake them) and a complimentary bottle of wine, to a delicious cheese platter with the wide, open fields behind us, to a delicious home-cooked stew for dinner and a colourful plated french toast breakfast – this was the ideal kick-off for what was to come.

Woudzicht

On the airport I was informed that Amsterdam was our next stop! I loved the mystery of it all – not knowing where we were going next. We stayed at the Ibis Hotel Amsterdam Central, which was conveniently located and offered good service. In this lovely city we had beer, walked through the red light district, stood in awe of the ‘Oudekerk’, shared fondue, visited a local market, went on a canal cruise and much more.

Amsterdam

Bruges was our next stop and one of my favourites from now on! Lace, chocolate, swans, cobble stone roads – it was the perfect romantic spot. We ate ‘Boem-Boems’ and delicious tomato soup, took a stroll to the lovers’ bridge, wished we could stay in one of the houses bordering the canal, visited the chocolate museum and saw the “Madonna and Child” by Michael Angelo. It might not be so big, but Bruges has a lot to offer!

Bruges

From there we went to Paris. Now, this place boomed with tourists and it was busy at all times, but still an unforgettable and beautiful experience! From the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge to the Louvre and many other buildings and structures of which the hours and years of workmanship I just couldn’t grasp.

Paris

The end of our honeymoon was an absolute statement of love and happiness: Seychelles. Although it was quite expensive (almost R200 for a glass of South African Sauvignon Blanc) it was still an experience I would not trade for anything. We beach-hopped from the one white stretch of sand to the next. We lay low at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort, reading, snorkeling, sleeping. We hired a car and explored the island on our own. We dined like royalty. It was a feast and definitely a place to visit again.

Seychelles

Photo Blog: La Vie Lente Urban Farm

Feast your eyes on the perfect replica of a slower life! La Vie Lente Urban Farm is a daytime bistro and function venue in Pretoria East. We had so much fun reviewing this place and couldn’t help but share a few extra photos with you!

Also take a look at our review on them here: Life’s a blessing at La Vie Lente

DSC_0016 DSC_0047 DSC_0059 DSC_0060 DSC_0068 DSC_0076 DSC_0087 DSC_0091 DSC_0101 DSC_0122 DSC_0155 DSC_0161 DSC_0183 DSC_0185 DSC_0187 DSC_0216 DSC_0219

Life’s a blessing at La Vie Lente

While indulging in a foam-leaf decorated cappuccino, my eyes take in purple Jacaranda splotches against a blue sky canvas and green tints and textures from herb filled pots seaming off the garden – Life is a blessing.

 
La Vie Lente Urban Farm reminds you of exactly that and of slowing down.

Cappuccino at La Vie Lente

Cappuccino at La Vie Lente

I imagine kids running up and down from under the Jacaranda trees covering the kiddies’ play area on a busy weekend while parents socialize over some of La Vie Lente’s carefully selected wines. For now, though, there’s stillness as if time decided to go into slow motion.

 
It’s about slow life here.

 
La Vie Lente has the ability to create calmness even while cooking up a storm. They compose music on plates with a variety of countrified dishes, including some of the latest dietary trends.
Farmhouse omelettes, blueberry flapjacks with pecan nuts and fig cream and breakfast platters with cheese, boiled eggs and freshly baked farm bread with preserves, quality butter and cold meats. These are a few of the items you will find on La Vie Lente’s breakfast menu and if you’re not careful, brilliant lunch dishes like grilled line fish with potato dauphinoise, smoked paprika prawns and vegetables, banting lunches and grilled rump tacos might just trick you into ordering something of everything!

Line fish at La Vie Lente

Line fish at La Vie Lente

“Life’s a blessing…” echoes the song in the background and I silently second it. This is a place you can slow down at. If you haven’t found your happy place yet, this should be it.

La Vie Lente is an urban, daytime farm bistro that also caters for special, intimate events. Contact them on 072 916 7801 / info@lavielente.co.za for more information.