River Manor, StellenboschRIVERMANOR, STELLENBOSCHGuests at River Manor are welcomed like familyby the owner-managers Johan and Leigh, makingthis a very homely accommodation. The 18rooms are cosy and well-appointed, and there is a small spa offering a range of treatments. The gardens have two swimming pools, as well asplenty of shady areas to relax in. River Manor'slocation is superb, within walking distance ofDorp Street which is filled with shops and cafes.Overall this is an ideal base for your stay inStellenbosch.StellenboschStellenbosch is a charming town in the heart ofthe Winelands. Old collides with new here, withbuildings dating back to the early 1700s, and thestreets are filled with students attending itsfamous university. The result is a lively town witha very welcoming feel. Roads are lined with 300year old oak trees and filled with boutiques, delisand exquisite restaurants. Of course, the area isbursting with excellent vineyard estates, from the tree-lined avenue leading to Neethlingshof to the world-renowned wines of Delheim's Cellar. Cultural events take place throughout the year, including street festivals, art exhibitionsand music concerts. 14The oldest shop in StellenboschNeethlingshof wine estate, StellenboschWine and dineAside from the incredible wines in thisregion, the Winelands is known as thegourmet capital of South Africa. Many ofthe country's award-winning restaurantsare situated in Franschhoek, Stellenboschor the neighbouring wine estates. Aswell as the traditional combination oftasting vintage cheeses with wine, someestates match varieties of chocolate totheir reds and whites. At lunchtime,choose anything from a simple salad to a picnic sourced from a local deli. In theevening, enjoy a bistro meal or treatyourself to a seven-course tasting menuin a fine-dining restaurant. It's hard notto be caught up in the passion of therestaurateurs, who delight in creatingedible masterpieces.
Cape fur seal, Walker BayHermanusRocky cliffs and windswept beaches form the coast around Walker Bay. For six months eachyear, this is the spectacular setting for the world'spremier land-based whale watching. The steep-shelving shoreline allows migrating southern rightwhales to approach within just metres of thecoast. Between June and November, large podscan be seen breaching and displaying. Boatexcursions get you even closer to these oceangiants, as well as seeking out great white sharksand playful colonies of Cape fur seals. The areacentres around the colourful harbour town ofHermanus, where a whale crier announcessightings with loud blasts on his dry kelp horn.Aside from whale watching, visitors can explorethe nearby vineyards, or enjoy walks amongst theheather-like fynbos in the beautiful FernkloofNature Reserve.MOSSELBERGONGROTTOBEACH,HERMANUSThis boutique guesthouse overlooks a sand dunewith superb sea views beyond of Grotto Beachand the dramatic Mosselberg Mountains behind.The five bedrooms are contemporary and stylishin their décor, taking inspiration from the naturalscenery in the area. The central lounge and kitchenarea is open and modern. A well-stocked winecellar features locally-harvested wines and the cheftakes pride in providing delicious breakfasts.www.audleytravel.com/southafrica ?01993 838 550 ?The Cape Region15THEMARINE, HERMANUSPerched on a high cliff with commanding views,this grand hotel has been welcoming guests formore than a hundred years. Decorated in anEnglish country house style, with sumptuousfabrics and wooden furniture, the décor harksback to colonial times. There are 42 rooms, manyof which have superb views over Walker Bay.The hotel has excellent facilities including a solar-heated swimming pool, spa and sauna aswell as two restaurants. The Marine, HermanusABALONEGUESTLODGE,HERMANUSAbalone Guest Lodge is a comfortable seasideproperty situated between Hermanus' bustlingtown centre and its wide stretches of beach. Each of the five guest rooms has a private balcony or patio. All are decorated with paleblues and creams and walls are adorned withSouth African artwork. There is easy access to the coastal walking paths from here and thetown's shops and cafes are a stone's throw away. Abalone is a great value option for yourstay in Hermanus and you can be assured of awarm welcome. Whale watchingWatching a whale cruising gracefully throughthe waters off Hermanus is an unforgettableexperience. Southern right whales canmeasure up to 18 metres long, making theman impressive sight. Each year they return to Walker Bay to mate and calf. Unlikeelsewhere in the world, the whales come so close to the shore that you can watchthem from a quiet clifftop bench on one ofthe coastal paths. If you want to get evencloser and feel the splash of the waves, aboat trip is a real treat. However you choose to enjoy this wildlife spectacle,patience is paramount. So simply relax, enjoy the sea air, and don't forget yourcamera and binoculars!