Road tripping with a newborn – disaster or adventure?

My love for travel and exploring new destinations was not going to be put on hold when we decided to start a family. However, I did know that certain destinations would be off limits for a while and that sacrifices were to be made. My road trip in the USA from New York to San Francisco is a perfect example of an adventure that could have been a disaster if a newborn baby was my +1. Now that my little girl is 3 months old, what better time to introduce her to the wonderful places and sights our country has to offer….will she remember it? Probably not but I certainly will.


Our garden route adventure begins in October and we’ll be covering a few places in our two week road trip. Starting in Cape Town, our first stop will be Knysna. I have always loved Knysna but haven’t stayed there as yet. I am certainly looking forward to it and cannot wait to review a hotel or guest house that’s perfect for the young traveling couple with a baby in tow.

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Weekend getaway to The Villas at Le Franschhoek

A weekend getaway to celebrate a birthday and a baby on the way? Yes please!


The Villas at Le Franschhoek offer magnificent views of the surrounding Franschhoek Mountains and are ideally situated for day touring the famed Wine routes of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Wellington. Nestled on the outskirts of the quaint village centre, this luxury choice of accommodation offer the choice of being an active participant in village life, yet having the flexibility and privacy of your own Villa.

Our villa consisted of a one bedroom beautifully decorated unit with an open plan kitchenette, entertainment lounge and patio. With a fully functional kitchenette, the villas lends itself to a self catering option and is perfect for families and long stay guests.

This was the perfect choice for a nearby yet city escape weekend away from Cape Town and comes highly recommended. Make your booking here: http://www.franschhoek.co.za/thevillas/

Stonehill River Lodge in Swellendam

Exploring the Western Cape is always one of my favourite things to do. This amazing province has tons of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. One of my absolute favorite places is Stonehill River Lodge in Swellendam, just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town.

Stonehill is located just outside Swellendam on a private reserve alongside the Breede River. The environment is designed in such a way that it lets you be one with nature. The river is literally a stones throw away from your door and even though you get a “camping outdoors kind of vibe”, you are still in a luxurious setting. Just my kind of weekend!

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The houses accommodates 8 people, which makes it perfect for a family getaway. It’s also kitted out with a fully equipped kitchen, so bring everything besides your kitchen sink because I can guarantee that you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

If relaxing and soaking up some Mother Nature isn’t your thing then there are tons on offer. You have to try the croc paddling. It’s a few hours of fun and an experience that never leaves you. If you’re into hiking then there are some stunning trails that lets you get up close with the numerous wildlife on the reserve that were introduced to Stonehill.

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If you’re ever looking for a getaway that’s out of the city but still close to home, I highly recommend this hidden gem.

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A day of luxury pampering at Bakwena Spa

We recently spent the day at Bakwena Day Spa which is located at Sante Hotel in Paarl. Set in magnificent surroundings, Bakwena is the perfect place to escape to when you need a break. Bakwena Spa was developed by offering an innovative and creative approach to spa and spa therapy in South Africa. We were treated to a full day package which exquisitely spoils and indulges you the whole day long.

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We began at 8am with a light breakfast and that gave us the time to absorb the beautiful views of the mountains and vineyards. Shortly afterwards, the much awaited treatments began. Each treatment was an hour long… it was pure bliss!

The package included:

1. Full body hot stone massage
Ancient stones carrying the energy of the earth invigorate and stimulated our body as warm oils are drizzled all over. The stones helped release the tension trapped deep within our muscles and improved circulation for sure!

2. Foot massage, ankle & calf massage
A one hour foot massage on sore feet can feel like heaven, let alone the wonderful relief one gets from a massage on your ankles and calves! We started of with this massage and it definitely set the tone for the day. I am pretty certain Jacques fell asleep during this treatment.

3. Scalp, neck and shoulder massage
Calming for the mind surprisingly deeply relaxing, ideal for the workaholic or those who endure mental as well as physical stress. I loved the shoulder massage, just the right amount of pressure was applied and I am certain I said goodbye to many knots.

4. Hand and forearm massage
Because we use our hands and arms in almost everything we do, it makes good sense to be kind to them to ensure loving hands can keep on giving.

5. Invigorating spa body treatment
Prepare your skin for the African summer with a full body exfoliation. We both chose the apricot exfoliation which definitely left our skin radiantly beautiful and soft, not to mention smelling delicious.

6. Hydrating African facial
The facial was amazing and was a 5 step process. The mask was made from clay and I noticed a huge difference afterwards; my skin was clearer and tighter.

7. Food
There was always enough to eat starting from a light breakfast, a full lunch and a snack platter in the afternoon. Drinks were flowing around the pool as well as sweet treats for those feeling for something to nibble.

8. Facilities
In the midst of our treatments, we were given an hour to just rejuvenate with a splash in the pool and jacuzzi.

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I am already planning our next visit to Bakwena, it is the best value for money you will receive. We felt the stresses and tensions melt away as each treatment focused on our harmony and well-being. At the end of the day we felt radiant and in a state of deep relaxation in mind, body and soul.

The unique attractiveness of Riebeek-Kasteel

Riebeek-Kasteel is one of the oldest towns in South Africa, situated at 80 km north-east of Cape Town in The Riebeek Valley together with its sister town Riebeek West. I had no cooking clue that this magnificent town existed and when I heard about it’s charm and splendor, I knew I had to visit it. Surprisingly enough it was only 45 min away from my home in Durbanville, so it was a quick but extremely beautiful drive. After wandering through the town and poking our noses into all the little nooks and crannies, we discovered a few gems:

Mama Cucina

We had lunch at Mama Cucina, an authentic Italian restaurant nestled in the middle of the town. Their food is always fresh, innovative and firmly grounded in the Italian Mediterranean tradition! Both Jacques and I tried their pasta and needles to say, it was gustoso.

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Crystal and Twine

I am the biggest fan of home decor and can get sucked in for hours just browsing through antique and vintage shops. When I walked into the Crystal and Twine shop, my mouth dropped to floor and I stood there a little speechless. It had everything I had ever added to my “mental must buy list” – I probably walked around for hours just choosing things I could not live without (much to my husbands dismay). The Crystal and Twine shop offers quality, affordable French inspired décor, gifts, kitchenware, small furniture pieces and all things beautiful for your home.

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Still Pure

You cannot walk past Still Pure and not get pulled in by their magical smells of oils and bath products. It’s a heavenly feeling to say the least. All their products are naturally hand made and ranges from bath salts to healing balms and soaps. I purchased some of the rose geranium bath salts and it turned my bath into a tub of magic!

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Aitsa

Aista was started by two friends in 2005 with the aim of providing a wide variety of locally-sourced goods and services under one roof. Focusing on the concept Local is Lekker, Aitsa brings you a variety of home-baked cakes, pies, fresh farm bread, rusks, brownies, fudge and milktarts.  Here we bought some home made fudge and bread, it didn’t even last past the exit of the town before we scuffed it down.

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It is not difficult at all to fall in love with this alluring little country town. It has so much to offer and is totally worth a visit. If you’re into olives then make sure you save the date for their annual olive festival which usually occurs in May.

Have you been to Riebeek-Kasteel and think we missed out on something? Let me know before my next visit.

The low down on South Africa’s new low cost airline, FlySafair

Let’s face it, sometimes cheap is not always the option you go for, especially when flying. Sometimes spending just a little extra can ensure you get extra leg room, baggage allowance, more miles and just better reliability and trust. The South African airline space is not extremely competitive, with only a few operators dominating popular routes, you are not left with much choice and can sometimes fork out around R3000 for a single ticket (if you are desperate).

Introduce FlySafair and we now have a true low cost airline. When FlySafair launched I must admit I was very hesitant to fly with them. Surely there had to be something wrong with either the aircraft or the service for those prices?! Ticket prices were as low as R199 one way and that I just could not fathom.

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This week I was forced to fly FlySafair and it left me very impressed! A round trip to Johannesburg cost less than R1000 – this blew my mind! It was far more cheaper than any of what the other airlines were offering.

So what’s the deal with FlySafair?

  • Tickets are super cheap but you pay R150 to check in luggage (carry on luggage remains free) – no problem here as this is adopting major international models especially in the USA. It is the perfect solution for business travelers.
  • You can check in online 24 hours before your flight and the process allows you to select seats including selecting the exit row. Extra leg room? Why, yes thank you!
  • Pricing of snacks is affordable and on par with other airlines however the options are limited. It’s best to just grab something from the airport before boarding.
  • It’s a pity but there isn’t a loyalty program as yet which means no airline miles. However I am certain this is soon to come.
  • The flight attendants don’t seem to have tons of experience and the pilot does not make many announcements throughout the flight.

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The price of airline tickets in South Africa are sky rocketing and I definitely see myself booking a lot more flights via FlySafair again soon. Will you give them a try?

Win a 2 night stay for two at 3Flavours guest house

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LIKE | SHARE | COMMENT AND WIN!

Who doesn’t need a luxurious break at a 4* Guest House? 3Flavours Guest House is perfectly situated to serve as a safe haven from which you can explore The Overberg and surrounding countryside. 3Flavours Guest House has a magnificent setting in the heart of the Cape’s uniquely rich fynbos region. They provide breathtaking mountain and distant ocean views from the comfort at our 8.5 hectare fynbos farm on the outskirts of Pringle Bay.

HOW DO YOU WIN?

Its super simple, all you have to do is Like my Facebook Page and the 3Flavours Guest House Page and comment on this post. Tell me why you need this break and tag the person you would take with you. Good Luck!

What does the other side of Cape Town have to offer?

Cape Town is probably one of the most traveled to destinations in Africa, it is rich in its diversity and has tons to offer its visitors yet the majority of the attractions are either in the CBD or the Southern Suburbs. I live in the Northern Suburbs and I love it. It’s gorgeous and offers tons of things to do away from the hustle of the CBD. So, apart from the amazing food, what other things are there to do on this side of the mountain?

Visit Franschhoek

Nestled between towering mountains in the beautiful Cape Winelands lies the magnificent Franschhoek Valley. This small town has so much to offer those who visit. It is home to some of the worlds best chefs and wineries. Franschhoek’s French heritage of more than 300 years is evident in the towns buildings, shops and culture. The picturesque valley is perfect for photography lovers and those looking to just escape for a while.

Root 44 Market

We’ve got our hippie markets too you know! You will not be disappointed with the Root 44 market in Stellenbosch. It is open every Saturday and Sunday, come rain or shine! This is not your average market with just traders and food stalls; it provides entertainment too. Keep an eye out to see what bands are playing as you might just have the luck of watching someone well known play.

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Cool Runnings Toboggan Track

Cool-Runnings Toboggan Track is the first downhill toboggan run in Africa. This summer version of snow tobogganing delivers the ultimate in safe, thrilling speed, in a bobsled on wheels down a 1,25 km winding track. Speed is regulated by the rider and there is no need to walk up the hill for your next go because you get on the sled at the bottom and let the automatic pully take you all the way to the top. Its perfect for adults and kids!

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Blue Rock Water Activities

Blue Rock is situated on the beautiful slopes of the Helderberg Mountains, a stone’s throw away from Sir Lowry’s Pass. It is a cable water ski resort and restaurant where families come to wakeboard, picnic, play paintball, swim, fufi slide and more. It makes for an awesome day out for the entire family.

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Giraffe House

I had so much fun visiting Giraffe House. This Wildlife Awareness centre provides easy access to some of Africa’s wonderful wildlife and bird species. Focusing on African wildlife, Giraffe House aims to provide a place for people to enjoy the outdoors, whilst experiencing and learning about animals and why they are special.

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Vredenheim Wildlife & Winery

Vredenheim is approximately 320 years old and is one of the oldest wine estates in the Stellenbosch area of the Cape Winelands. It has so much to offer; your first stop should definitely be Barrique Restaurant and make sure you try their grape juice. After a relaxed lunch, head over to the Wild Cats Park where you can walk among some really fascinating white lions, tigers and other wild cats (they’re in their cages offcourse).

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Paarl Rock

Paarl Rock is the bulbous granite outcrop that is part of the larger Paarl Mountain, standing out from miles away for its smooth, flawless appearance, from where it gets its name. If you’re keen for some adventure then rent out some climbing equipment and partake in some rock climbing. If you’re a scared cat like me then stick to the trails. Either way, you are promised some gorgeous views so ensure your phone is near by!

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The Robberg Beach Lodge in Plettenberg Bay

Road tripping down the Garden Route is always so much fun. It really is one of the nicest places in South Africa and the accommodation and activities in these coastal towns are nothing short of amazing. Our last stop before heading back home to Cape Town was Plettenberg Bay. We decided to be spontaneous and only booked our accommodation whilst driving down the N2.

I use Booking.com for all my accommodation needs and searched for something in Plett; The Robberg Beach Lodge was the first option. I opened it, drooled over the pictures, read the reviews and immediately booked. This 5 star beach lodge is located alongside the beach and was honestly one of the nicest places I have ever stayed at in the Western Cape. It may have been in the middle of Winter but the weather was perfect and views crystal clear!

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From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we were treated like royals by Victor and the other staff. They were so accommodating, friendly and immediately made you feel like you were home. After a quick check in, we were escorted to our phenomenal Luxury SuiteOur suite offered fresh modern accommodation with a spacious sea facing room, large bathroom and private balcony. The next morning a superb breakfast awaited us and the choices were endless. The Robberg offers its guests a little piece of heaven that is not easy to forget.

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Take a look at their specials and rates and make this your number one choice when visiting Plettenberg Bay; I definitely have! Follow them on social media for more information. (Pictures courtesy of The Robberg Beach Lodge)

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Bathurst – A 19th Century English Village in South Africa

Bathurst is located in the Eastern Cape and its chief claim to fame is that it was the early administrative centre established by the British Government for the 1820 British Settlers. The town is quaint and does not offer tons of attractions to its visitors but the little that it does offer is quirky and nothing short of charming. Many of the original settler houses and other buildings have been preserved, and there remains much of the look and feel of an English village of the early 19th Century. The Pig and Whistle Inn, built in 1821, is at the heart of the village and is reputedly the oldest extant pub in the country.

We visited the iconic Bathurst Pineapple which is a 17 meter tall pineapple and home to the pineapple museum. It’s only a R10 admission fee and there’s tons of interesting facts to learn about pineapple farming. A must see, even if it’s just to snap a picture of the ginormous pineapple.

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I am always surprised by the amazing shops hidden away in towns like these. Bathurst has so many wonderful little shops with interesting things for sale. My favourite is Tales Of Antiquity. It is hard to describe but if you can picture a secondhand vintage shop with a mixture of antiques, clothing and bric à brac then you can imagine that Tales Of Antiquity has a lot to offer. I was thrilled to find so many gems including vintage dessert bowls; R110 for 6 and fine bone China tea cups for R35. If you’re looking to host the ultimate vintage tea party then this shop should definitely be on your list of things to see in Bathurst.

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CNN rated Bathurst South Africa’s most eccentric town and now I definitely know why. Make sure you have an entire day to spend here and preferably on a Sunday when the Farmers Market is on. Don’t worry, all the shops are open till late on Sunday too!