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Top 10 Culinary Experiences in South Africa

February 4th, 2015 by

African Travel, Inc. asked their own safari specialists for their favorite top culinary experiences in South Africa and a below is a list of the top 10.

1. Sabi Sabi Earth LodgeEarth Lodge Cuisine

Dining in the wine cellar at South Africa’s Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is truly an unforgettable experience. The cool subterranean wine cellar is romantically lit with soft lights and candles, creating an indulgent atmosphere long before the sumptuous meals are even served. Mouth-watering dishes are paired with a collection of more than 6,000 bottles of rare wines; dining at this venue is a must!

2. StellenboschBites & Sites Classic Cape Cuisine Walk

Established in 1679, Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa and is arguably one of the loveliest. Taking the “Bites & Sites Classic Cape Cuisine Walk” is a fascinating (and tasty!) introduction to this vibrant university town. Enjoy a tea and rusk tasting, sample a variety of white and red wines from various award-winning estates, savor a trilogy of fragrant Cape dishes, and experience the legendary local sweet treats like koeksister, milktart and malva pudding – all while touring the town’s romantic oak-lined streets and outdoor art exhibitions.

3. Flagship

The Flagship is a celebrated restaurant that was recently taken over by Chef Duncan Doherty. The legacy of late Chef Bruce Robertson lives on in this innovative restaurant, which pairs a signature five-course chef’s table seafood lunch with wine for a superb “piece of culinary theatre.” The establishment is a firm believer in the Slow Food movement, which supports sustainable food by catching only the fish in the morning that they plan on serving for lunch, and their wine pairings are like a piece of heaven on Earth.

4. The Twelve Apostles Hotel

Twelve Apostles Hotel_ delectable platterThe Twelve Apostles Hotel is rightfully recognized as one of South Africa’s top places for wining and dining – and for good reason. The modern French menu is tastefully mixed with South African influences, and the menu is updated regularly. In 2013, the hotel made its debut into the coveted American Express Fine Dining Awards list and more than 95% of the items on the menu are sourced from the Western Cape, following the Hotel’s Responsible and Sustainable Environmental Policies. Don’t miss the amazing Champagne and Oyster breakfast, or their innovative Eggs Benedict. The Twelve Apostles also knows just how to do dessert – check out the delectable platter!

 5. Apprentice @ Institute of Culinary Arts

Stellenbosch is also home to the Apprentice @ Institute of Culinary Arts, situated among various other restaurants, art galleries and tourist shops. Owned and managed by the Institute of Culinary Arts chef school, the restaurant is run entirely by culinary students under the guidance of the Head Chef and Managers. All menu items are prepared and everything is made in-house, including melt-in-your-mouth, straight-out-of-the-oven bread baskets.

6. Ferrymans Tavern

Ferrymans Tavern, which opened in 1989, was the first tenant in the V&A Waterfront and it remains ever-popular. It has established a loyal following of regulars over the years, from Cape Town residents and – in many cases – those from much farther away. The establishment offers something for everyone, including an outside beer garden, children’s play area, jungle gym and big screen TV’s for a host of sports fans. The Tavern is bursting with energy, oftentimes with crowds of people dancing to an assortment of local bands.

7. Franschhoek Country House & VillasMonneaux Restaurant 261

The award-winning Monneaux Restaurant in Franschhoek Country House & Villas is luxury and charm at its best. The restaurant serves an inspired contemporary take on Mediterranean classics, influenced by local cape malay flavors and skillfully blended into signature dishes with compliments from fresh seasonal produce.  Even by the standards set forth by the food and wine capital, Monneaux is exquisite – the restaurant has been voted as one of South Africa’s Top 100 Restaurants for the past six years and was also awarded the acclaimed American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award. 

 8. La Petite Ferme

La Petite FermeBesides the amazing food, the heavenly views of the Franschhoek Valley alone make this a great place to relax and have lunch. La Petite Ferme also has one of the more intimate wineries in the Cape Winelands, crafting its wines using time as its artisan.


 9. Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant

Set in the Moreson Winery, Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant is a staff favorite due to its rustic charm and laid-back atmosphere. Gorgeous trees provide a shaded retreat to enjoy the exquisite food, including the best charcuterie in South Africa hands down. Bread baking is available for groups of eight or more, but one of the most exciting events in this establishment is February’s Blessing of the Harvest. Pick your own grapes and make wine the old-fashioned way – with your feet! 

10. The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa Azure Restaurant

Azure-Restaurant-12AThe Twelve Apostles deserves two places on our list due to its phenomenal culinary offerings. In addition to the fabulous food available through its other venues, The Twelve Apostles is home to the award-winning Azure Restaurant and its magical international and indigenous cuisine. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the incredible views are some of the Mother City’s best and it is an overwhelming staff favorite for sundowners and sunsets. Whales can often be spotted in the mornings and afternoons, breaching right off the coast. Azure offers a high-end selection of entrees, including seafood, meats, and local African cuisine. From the delicate fresh oysters to the massive seafood platter, guests’ taste buds are infused by the finest organic ingredients and brilliant flavor combinations.


The rescue of Roi

January 15th, 2015 by

On the 22nd October Richard Roberts from the Mara Elephant Project contacted us about the plight of a young milk dependent calf, approximately 10 months old, whose mother had been found dead on the plains of the Masai Mara that day.  Closer inspection of the dead mother revealed that she had been poached and died from a poisoned spear wound on her cheek.  She had been photographed by a visitor happily feeding with her little baby underfoot, both alive and well.  

The next day the tragedy unfolded and the same visitor found a very different scenario with the baby confused by her dead mothers side, but in the company of the rest of the herd, trying to come to terms with it all.  The little calf was then whisked away by the rest of the herd but not before she had said her painful goodbyes to her lifeless mother.  As a milk dependent baby she would have little hope of survival without being rescued as a lactating mother in the herd would never have enough milk to satiate two calves.  The tragedy was reported to the Mara Elephant Project and KWS. Everyone realized that her young milk dependent calf had little hope of survival without her Mum and that she needed to be rescued before the herd travelled great distances with her, possibly into Tanzania where the hope of any rescue would be lost forever.  The baby without sufficient milk would only get weaker and weaker and eventually be unable to keep up with the herd, and be left behind.

Coordinating together with the DSWT elephant Keeper rescue team, who had by now landed at Olare Orok airstrip, Richard Roberts of MEP had the unenviable fraught task of separating this baby from the herd before she was spirited away and lost.   With careful maneuvering the calf was separated by vehicle in order to enable the DSWT Keepers to quickly leap from the moving land cruiser and restrain the baby.   This took some planning as the matriarch was extremely protective of the young orphaned baby.  What had been observed in the meantime was when the orphaned calf tried to suckle her (She had her own calf a little older than the orphaned baby so was lactating) she would push her away, not prepared to share her milk and deprive her own baby.  The separation was done extremely effectively by the DSWT, so experienced in restraining elephants, and with so many others from the MEP prepared to jump in and help.  The little calf was wrapped and strapped and prepared for her flight to Nairobi, while the rest of the team from the MEP together with the DSWT funded Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit headed by KWS Veterinary Officer Dr. Limo went to do an autopsy on the dead mother to absolutely confirm her cause of death.  Her tusks in the meantime had been removed by the authorities.  

We named the little girl Roi and she was watched and cared for closely throughout the flight by the DSWT Keepers and given some tranquilizer to take the edge off what had been an extremely traumatic and heartbreaking day for her.  She finally arrived at the DSWT Nursery in Nairobi National Park after dark.  She was a very robust baby from the outset not having been without mothers milk for long, and thankfully very soon took to the bottle which made things simpler.   She was confined to a stockade for a couple of days but remained aggressive and clearly agitated when the others left her orbit for the day out in the Park.  We made the decision to let her out despite her not having tamed down as much as we would ideally like and this made all the difference.  She was immediately comfortable and content amidst the older orphans who paid her attention and provided her with the elephant love and affection she craved and missed.  She was hooked on her milk bottle so continued to gravitate towards the Keepers for her three hourly feeds.

As the days have passed little Roi has settled in completely and is now extremely attached to her Keepers, familiar with the routine and is playing once more and she appears to be genuinely  happy.

To foster Roi, please CLICK HERE

HOWIE’S Southern African Safari

August 15th, 2014 by

#1 – Cape Town

Meet Mark Bayman, our veteran Thompson’s guide who met us as we finally arrived in CPT via Dubai and Johannesburg.

Mark Bayman_Thompsons Guide

Mark works exclusively with Thompsons and frequently handles ATI’s important clients.  No, not me, but folks like the Klein’s from L.A. who were in the week before we were.  He’s licensed as a National Guide, which means he can take folks along the Garden Route as well as local sightseeing.

Mark is as good as they get…reads his guests well, knows more than Google about every aspect of his country and a most pleasant fellow to spend time with.  My wife, Susan, and I tend to ask a lot of questions, just ask Mark!  Many of them are political and economic questions along with the usual touristic ones.  He didn’t duck a one and his pride in the progress his country has made was palpable along with his honesty about the issues the country faces.

As we drove past the Cape Town window where Mandela addressed the crowd right after his release from Robben Island, he told us how he’d ridden his bike there that day not sure of what he’d experience.  First person insights like that sharpened our picture of Mandiba’s huge contribution to the country.

Accommodating doesn’t begin to describe him.  He was more than willing to get soaked with us as we braved the pouring rain for a classic Cape of Good Hope picture.  He informed us that the explorer who first rounded it called it the “Cape of Storms”.  However, the spin doctors in Portugal thought that wouldn’t be good for trade and tourism.

Howie and wife

More than a Safari – A Historic Trek in Zambia

June 13th, 2014 by

by: Janice Dahl, Great Story!

I followed in the footsteps of David Livingstone, traipsing through Zambia and listening to tales of exploration from the lips of a grandson of one of those early British explorers.  In those days, it was Northern Rhodesia, or even more accurately darkest Africa. Just the name made my imagination crackle with excitement.

This is definitely a call to action for history buffs.

Zambia, Africa, Janice Dahl

The requirements for taking this trip were minor: a thirst for knowledge and open ears. With that, African Travel’s President Jim Holden just poured it in, packing the 12-day tour with stories of his grandfather, Edward Arden Copeman, who was an administrator for Cecil Rhodes, the man for whom the country of Rhodesia was named.   We got a taste of what they encountered in the wilderness of south central Africa, searching for and mapping its rivers, lands and people.

I’ll admit it, you can’t really know what they experienced while you sit in a luxurious tent on the Lower Zambezi River. But if you bring your imagination to the table, you can understand that those early explorers fought extreme bouts of malaria from the mosquitos, many dying of the diseases.

When you face a huge elephant or a roaring lion, you can imagine what they felt. Was it awe or terror?


Jim Holden getting ready for the trip to his homeland – Zambia

May 8th, 2014 by

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