Ten of us headed out of the city of Cape Town at 10am heading up the N2 to Hermanus / De Kelders.
A quick stop at Peregrine Farm Stall for their famous coffee / sweet snack / sausage roll before we made our way to Stanford arriving at about 11h45. We had made a booking at Brunia Wines 20km outside of Stanford to do some wine tasting and enjoy a light lunch. We were all blown away – yes, it was 20km, but after about 25 minutes on a gravel road with scenery to-die-for ,we reached the Brunia property.
Willie and his wife, Annetia welcomed us so warmly! They invited us into their beautiful family home to do our wine tasting. This is a relatively new wine estate situated very close to the Koue Berge and next to Salmonsdam nature reserve. The Du Preez’ family used to be stock farmers in the Eastern Cape and then relocated to Stellenbosch in 2003. They purchased the property (Cold Mountain) and realized their dream to develop and own a wine farm!
Development commenced in 2005, clearing alien trees, installing an irrigation network, and then planting their first Sauvignon Blanc block and before building their beautiful home.
Willie enticed the group with his wines – which resulted in a good few boxes being carried out to our trailer! Meanwhile Annetia set up cheese and cold meat platters with fig / grape jam/ and health bread and crackers – what a lovely lunch!
After saying our “farewells” we headed down to Stanford again and turned towards De Kelders and our accommodation for the next two nights, The Whale Waters Lodge (9 of our group stayed in this beautiful 6 bedroom home with bathrooms en suite) and two people stayed at the Crayfish Lodge.
Time to unpack & settle in. At about 18h30 Brian lit the braai fire and the oven was started to do roast vegetables / potato wedges and very soon everyone enjoyed dinner around their large table. Fresh fruit and delicious Czech shortbread biscuits rounded off the meal and by about 21h30 everyone turned in and slept like babies!!
Saturday saw four of our group heading off to do boat based whale watching.
We had pre-booked for boat based whale watching from Gansbaai on Saturday 13th. We chose the first tour (leaving at 09h15) and arrived at The White House (home of Dyer Island Cruises) at 08h00 to allow us time to have breakfast before the tour.
The tour briefing started at 09h15 and on completion we were issued with life jackets and “rain macs” and then guided towards the harbour which was 200m away. The crew was already present on the Whale Whisperer, our boat for the excursion and once everyone was directed on board and bags etc were stowed under the seats, the tractor arrived to guide the boat & trailer into the sea.
There was an air of excitement as the skipper guided the boat through the shallows and the approaching waves, heading for the bay in front of us.
Suddenly there was a roar as the Skipper opened the throttle and the boat leaped forward into deeper water and started to negotiate the swell in front. Spray shot up on both sides of the boat and the excitement became vocal as everyone experienced the power of the boat and the expectation of what was to come.
We stopped briefly in the bay to scout for whales and then headed out to ‘Shark Alley’, home of the shark cage divers. On arrival we saw 8 boats arranged in an arc across the area, all trying to attract sharks for their ‘clients’. What a sight and yes there were sharks being drawn to the ‘bait’.
We headed for Pearly Beach, where the crew said “they always find whales. They weren’t wrong. In the 45 minutes we spent in this bay, I counted 25 whales. Boats are not allowed to approach whales (min 50m), but can remain static and have the whales approach the boat. At times we were 5 metres from whales…see the photos!
Before returning to Gansbaai we stopped at Dyer Island to view (and smell) the seals.
What an absolutely thrilling day we all had. Everyone agreed that they could easily do a turnaround at the harbour and ‘go out again’
While the boat based whale tour was on the go, seven of us went into Stanford to the relatively new Graze Slow Food Café operated by Tabby Robertshaw and Alex Choulder who operate this restaurant. They have a very different breakfast menu – Mushroom Brushetta / Duck egg Omelette / Croissant eggy Bread (similar to French Toast / Smoked salmon on a sweet potato rosti!!).
After this, a short time was spent roaming around Stanford. Their normal market was disappointingly small – (was this because of the early rugby match?). After this we headed through Gansbaai to the Funky Fynbos Festival. This market, out in the country had quite a lot to offer – proteas which happened to be export quality / new leather handbag for a lucky lady / and dried fruit from the area.
We then went back to The White House in Gansbaai and enjoyed a light lunch before returning to De Kelders. A short rest for some / rugby for others / whale watching from the patio for others and by 18h00 sundowners prior to our dinner at The Blue Goose in Gansbaai, where Riaan warmly welcomed our group. We were seated in what Riaan called his stoep! Wine was served and what followed was much laughter and fun that this coupled with an excellent meal made for a very enjoyable Saturday evening.
Amazingly of the 11 of us, 10 chose the Tempura Prawns for starters and 10 of the 11 chose the Lamb Shank. Excellent choices for everyone!
Sunday morning and by 09h00 we were already on-the-road again – this time up to Grootbos Nature Reserve, a short distance from De Kelders. This 5* resort has a very commanding view of the peninsula and we were treated royally to an excellent breakfast. Fresh fruit/ yoghurts/ pastries / coffee/ tea and juice and this before we were offered a hot selection which included the Grootbos farm benedict which one can have with smoked salmon or bacon / the Sauteed potato cake with smoked salmon trout and sour cream or if you were hungry a Traditional Breakfast. Much mirth resulted when Margot explained her choice and size of sausage; this had the young lady taking her order to blush profusely.
After breakfast we loaded the luggage and headed into Hermanus where we spent an hour whale watching – there were a lot of people doing this and one only needs to listen for the whale crier and watch in which direction his fingers are pointing to find the whales.
Finally we had a stop in Kleinmond at The Boathouse where calamari baskets / chicken wings seemed to be the order of the day.
We were able to get two of our group to the airport in time for their return flight to Durban and the remainder at the airport holding bay by about 17h30 – all feeling well rested and happy.
Being with friends enjoying a long weekend away
is a sure-fire way to feel good about life again!