Tag Archives: Wine Tasting

Perdekop Hiking Trail – Franschhoek

140This scenic hiking trail is in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, just outside the town of Franschoek, in the Western Cape. While the town is known for its wine and it’s gourmet restaurants, the surrounding mountains offer some very accessible hiking routes, ranging from a short two hour excursion, to a full days hiking such as this one. The destination is Perdekop (Horse Peak), from where there is a 360 degree panoramic view. While the walk up is fairly easy, the steep route down is challenging on the knees.

After last week’s rain, Sunday was one of those wonderful, sunny, Cape winter days. Nevertheless it was a cold start with a breeze coming off the snowy mountains not far away. Once we got walking the beanies and fleeces soon came off. The first part of the hike is a fairly easy undulating hike, to Uitkyk view point. There was plenty of opportunity to stop to take photographs of the views back down the valley to the Theewaterskloof Dam. We stopped for tea at the view point, enjoying the view over the Wemmershoek dam. The trek up from there to Perdekop is slightly more strenuous with the destination hidden from view133 for most of the route. Once it came in to view it seemed to get further away as we got closer. We made it there by lunch time and enjoyed the amazing 360 degree views all the way to Cape Town and Table Mountain in the distance and Worcester in the opposite direction. The circular path leads back down the valley to the start. Although shorter, this is the most strenuous part of the hike, with the path being almost entirely downhill and very steep in places. By the end most of the party knew where their knees were and there were a few sore feet and thighs. All was worth it though and certainly rates as another of the most scenic hikes in our beautiful Cape. It was great to stop for a quick cup of coffee in Franschhoek afterwards.

We will have to make a plan to come back for wine tasting on another occasion.



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Klapmutskop Hiking Trail – Klapmutskop

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This is a wonderful trail for a short outing in to the Cape Wine Region of Stellenbosch, for those who want a bit of outdoor activity to wet the appetite for wine tasting or other activities in the area. The hill leading up to the ‘kop’ (peak or head) is also extremely interesting from a botanical point of view, encompassing the three biomes of the region – renosterveld, fynbos and afro-mountain forest – all in a very small area. It forms an important part of the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy area.

Beautiful winters day

Looking back on the Simonsberg Mountains towards Stellenbosch – beautiful winters day

The walk starts at the Delvera Wine Estate, where you will need to purchase a walking permit (R30 as at June 2014) from the reception area. The first part of the hike meanders through the vineyards, marked with the various cultivars that you are passing by.  It is interesting to see the differences between the various vine varieties and how they are trellised and pruned or maintained as bush vines. The path is well marked, taking hikers over wide farm tracks with clay underfoot conditions.

As the path approaches the hill it enters the renosterveldt band the circles the ‘koppie’, zig-zaging gently up the slope. It is an excellent example of this severely threatened biome, with only 6% of the original area still regarded as sustainable. About half way up the hill the path skirts vineyards again, where the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy information board explains the importance of the area.Klamutskop - Delvera June 2014_0008

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View from the renosterveldt band. Cool overcast, slightly misty conditions on the day

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Transition from renosterveldt to fynbos

The path then climbs slightly more quickly through the renosterveldt band up to the fynbos band above. The transition between the two is quick and quite dramatic, suddenly hikers are in amongst proteas, restios and ericas, among others, putting the route firmly in the Cape Floral Kingdom. The fynbos band is quite short, before suddenly the forest at the top appears. Even when you know it is there it is a surprise – beautiful Breede River yellowwoods perched on top of this unlikely hilltop.

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The path tunnels in amongst the yellowwoods

 From the top, the 360 degree views of the Stellenbosch Mountains, Simonsberg, DuToitskloof and the Paarl Mountains are unmatched. On a fine day Table Mountain is also clear in the distance.


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View from the top

 The path back circle the hill on the other side, before joining the vineyard tracks once more and zig-zagging back to the farm. The hike is about 3 to 31/2 hours, allowing for photography and tea breaks.



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Devon Valley – Vineyard Trail

Devon Valley – Vineyard Trail description

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The Vineyard Trail is a circular route of approximately 11km. It starts and finishes at the Devon Valley Hotel and meanders through vineyards and the wine farm of the area. Although the paths are clear, the signposting is Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0002confusing in places and a wrong turn or missed marker can take hikers off on the wrong route. A map is provided at the hotel, although it is important to make sure you are given the correct one, as one of the alternative trails (green route on the map) is closed. Not all the hotel staff are properly briefed on the alternatives.

Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0082The trail starts from the parking area behind the hotel, follow the tarred exit road to the gate and turn left up the hill. Head up the tar road, to where it becomes a dirt track, passing buildings on your right, to a line of pine trees. At the pine trees there is a trail marker, turn right down the hill, keeping the vineyards on your right. At the bottom of the hill the path does a right turn before you pass between two posts on your left and on to a short tar road opposite the Protea Heights flower farm.Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0005

Note: At this stage the trail used to go up to the left. With the Protea Heights farm being fenced in, it now goes to the right. It can be confusing, as the old direction marker has not been removed and the new one is easy to miss.

Turn right down the tar road for a few metres, before following the sign at a left turn in to the vineyards, following a clear track. At the end of the track there is a sign pointing out a path between the rows of vines. Here there are two options:Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0010

  1. Either follow this path until it comes out on a T-junction with a farm track – there is no sign here – turn left up the hill until you come to the electric fence border of Protea Heights. Here you will see a very confusing sign with arrows pointing in different directions.
  2. Turn left and follow the farm track until you come to the electric fence border of Protea Heights and turn right, following the track along the fence until you come to the confusing sign pointing in both directions.

Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0076Follow the track along the electric fence until there is a fork. Follow the sign along the left hand fork. From here on most of the signage is fairly clear, although it is easy to miss a direction marker.

Shortly after this the track descends gently, with views of the outskirts of Stellenbosch and Simonsberg Mountain. Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0019As the track descends, there is radio mast is on the right at the highest point on the trail. Half way down the valley there is a marker showing the track that turns right up towards the FM radio mast at the highest point.

After passing the mast the track descends once more with a small farm dam in the valley on the right. Before a row of pine trees follow the marker to the left and then right to where there is a marker on one of the trees. Follow this row of trees to the left along the track until there is gap in a group of low trees.Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0032

There are wine cellars down in the valley to the right and the trail is well marked here with the track twisting through the vineyards, before coming to an old concrete water tank structure and a large stone pine, where the path turns right and then left passed the farm labourers cottages. Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0043This track comes out at Middlevlei Wine Estate, which is a good place to stop for a rest, wine tasting and their regular ‘Boere Braai’ lunch (this should be booked before departure to avoid disappointment).

After leaving the farm along the paved exit road, past the large farm dam, the track leads past a small cottage and towards a smaller dam. This is a good place for a picnic lunch if hikers do not want to take advantage of the Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0046Middlevlei offerings.

The path continues between the small and large dam, just below the main farm homestead. This is not clearly marked but it is easy to pick up the track through the vineyards on the opposite side by following the track close to the dam. The track through the vineyards is clearly marked after this.

Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0052Follow the track to a fenced off area surrounded by security wire, before turning right down the hill. This track is very clear and eventually comes out at the Aaldering Estate. If you are interested in wine tasting this is also a great stop, with an interesting Pinotage Blanc that is really worth tasting, among others.

Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0061 After leaving the estate via the main entrance, the road passes a small dam with the path turning off over the dam wall towards some cottages. The sign showing the way is in place, but easy to miss if you are distracted. After the passing the cottages head down a paved track between a row of olive trees and the vineyards. Half way down this path is a turn off on to a track between the vineyards. There are various twist and turns but the signage is all in place and the path clear up to the end of the farm track where it leaves the vineyards.Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0064

Follow the sign to the left before passing a group of cottages, where you are likely to be greeted by friendly wave and greeting by the inhabitants and excited children. Pass by two large green water tanks and then left again on to a farm track leading behind the cottages and the farmVineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0066 buildings. Now you should be able to see the track that leads up to the fenced Protea Heights property. Shortly after this it is a back on familiar territory and you cross the vineyards back to the confusing ‘backwards / forwards’ sign and then follow the farm track to tar road and that passes the Protea Heights entrance. Pass through the two posts Vineyard Trail - Devon Valley - June 2014_0058 the left and the return route back to the hotel follows the same track as the as the start.

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Bloupunt Waterfall and Montagu Hiking

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Bloupunt Waterfall – Montagu, a set on Flickr.

A visit to Montagu is never complete without some hiking into the Cogmanskloof and surrounding valleys. I had the opportunity to spend a few days there while a client was enjoying the luxury of the Sanbona Private Game Reserve, so I took the opportunity to explore some of the trails and Montagu itself. I had passed through a few times and spend short periods there, but not enough to enjoy the hiking trails. Enough said, it needs a few days dedicated to hiking only, with the Cogmanskloof Trail and the Bloupunt Trail both a full days trekking. (My) photographs don’t really do justice to the overpowering cliff faces and twisted rock formations, as well as the sound of the waterfalls and continuous bird songs. I only walked as far as the waterfalls on Bloupunt Trail (3hrs return), having done a two hour walk to the ridge above the Cogmanskloof Pass (Aasvoël Trail) in the morning.

I’ll be back to make a booking for the overnight trek shortly.

Mountains, rocks and hikes – Montagu Oct 2012


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Marita & Joseph Cederberg Tour

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Marita & Joseph Cederberg Tour, a set on Flickr.

Tour to the Cederberg via the West Coast and returning through the Gydo Pass and Ceres

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Cederberg Tour with Marita & Joseph

A great four day tour, including some short walks and a trek up to the Maltese Cross. The sunset at Gecko Creek on our first evening was quite stunning and the rainbow on the second evening added to that.

On the second day, after the short hike along the Savilla Rock Art trail, the drive to Wuppertal was quite an experience with unequalled view of the Cederberg. The next day was for the longer hike up to the Maltese Cross, a visit to the historic Stadsaal and wine tasting at Cederberg Vineyards. We finished on the last day with a two hour walk through the amazing rock formations of the Lot’s Wife Trail.

More on this tour to follow.

Tour for Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; info@afrukaecotours.co.za

Marita & Joseph Cederberg Oct 2012

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Lot’s Wife Trail – Cederberg

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These amazing rock formations are on the Lot’s Wife Trail, in the central Cederberg, near Dwars Rivier. On tour with Marita & Joseph, we were looking for a last, short walk before returning to Cape Town. I had bypassed this trail many times before, but always focused on the Maltese Cross & Wolfberg Cracks. It really a worthwhile diversion, as the photos show, but in reality, are even more impressive.

The trail is also very close to the Cederberg Cellars, where one can finish off the hike with wine tasting.

Tour for Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; contact: info@afrukaecotours.co.za

Gallery for Lot’s Wife Trail – Cederberg:

Lot’s Wife Trail – Cederberg

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Posberg Nature Reserve – Aug 2012

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Posberg Nature Reserve – Aug 2012, a set on Flickr.

For guided day tours from Cape Town (Aug / September) – hikes or drives contact Frank: hostnet@mweb.co.za

Posberg Nature Reserve – drive or hike

The first thing that comes to mind when the name Posberg is mentioned is flowers. The reserve is a privately owned piece of land within the boundaries of the West Coast National Park. It is managed by SA National Parks, but is accessible to the public only in August and September each year when it is opened to show off the magnificent array of flowers.

The best way to visit the reserve is to set a day aside, park at the gate and follow the Klipspringer hiking path up on to the ridge. This way you get to see both the detail of the individual flowers, as well as the incredible flower carpeted expanse of open veld and the views to the sea.

If you are on the ball and book early, you can also arrange an overnight hike in the reserve during this time. The trail follows a circular route and the overnight site is close to the beach at Plantjies Bay. You will need to bring your own tent and food supplies, but it is a beautiful experience to spend the night under the stars.

For those that do not have the time or the inclination to walk it is possible to drive the scenic routes. It can be done in an ordinary saloon car, although a high clearance vehicle is preferable. At various parts of the route you will be able to see the Atlantic Ocean, Saldhana Bay and the port of Saldhana, Langebaan Lagoon and the West Coast National Park.

Within the West Coast National Park, on your way back, you can visit the site of the discovery of “Eve’s” footprint at Kraalbaai. Dated at 117,000 years old it is proof of human habitation of the area during the Halocene Age.

For flower tours, both hiking and driving contact info@afrukaecotours.co.za or frank@slackpackersa.co.za. We cater for tours for one up to ten people or complete the contact form and we will get back to you.

Visit our web site at www.afrukaecotours.co.za.

Contact Frank: Cell 082-8824388

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Fynbos Trail July 2012


Fynbos Trail July 2012, a set on Flickr.

Trail Summary

A two hour drive from Cape Town in the Walker Bay / Stanford area, the Fynbos Trail is walked over three days, covering a total distance of 25km. Two nights are spent on the trail in comfortable farmhouse style accommodation at Fynbos Retreat and self-catering cottages at Bodhi Khaya. Overall the walking is easy, although a good level of hiking fitness will make the trek a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. There are a few short climbs out of the valley, with the paths following a reasonable grading up and down the hills. There is no exposure to heights nor scrambling required.


The paths are mainly well defined and maintained, although surfaces are often natural. We recommended hiking boots, especially in winter, when you may encounter patches of mud and wet areas.


The trail is offered as a ‘slackpacking’ experience with all overnight luggage and food requirements transported. It can be done on a fully guided and catered basis; or as a self-catered, self-guided experience. We highly recommend the guided experience.


The Fynbos Trail is a linear trek, with secure parking available at the start, at the Growing the Future Project. All hikers will be transported from the finish at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, back to the cars.


There are so many beautiful and interesting hiking routes in the Western Cape these days that finding a new one that exceeds expectations is always exciting. The new Fynbos Trail in the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy area is one such trail.

I was lucky enough to be able to do it on a beautiful Western Cape winters weekend in July. So much for the reputation of the Cape being a wet and wild place to walk in winter. The conditions could not have been better. Added to the experience was the advantage of the trail hosted by husband and wife team of Sean & Michele Privett. Sean is a botanist and together with Walker Bay guide Billy Robertson, added a whole dimension to the interest and enjoyment.

Day 1

We got together for the start, at the innovative Growing the Future project on the Grootbos Estate. This project has been set up to train groups of women in sustainable farming methods and other associated life skills. The fruit and vegetables grown on the project are used in the kitchens of the guest lodges of the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve as well as on the catered version of the trail.

I was part of a group that was being introduced to the Green Flag trail assessment system, so our schedule was slightly different to the usual. The normal 2 p.m. start gives plenty of time for a leisurely drive from Cape Town and lunch in Hermanus or closer by in Stanford. An important aspect of Slackpacking is being able to enjoy a beer (or whatever your preference is) after a hard days walking, so I stopped off at the Birckenhead Brewery in Stanford,  on my way, to pick up some local beer.

Sean and Billy met us at the start for pre-trail briefing, paperwork and organisation of luggage transport. Our Green Flag mission, meant that we had a slightly later start than would otherwise have been the case, but we soon set off to trek through high stands of strandveld fynbos and in to the wonderful old milkwood forest of Steynsbos – one of only eight similar forests in the world. This is a beautiful and peaceful place with paths meandering around twisted tree trunks and overhanging branches. Although these trees are not tall, the knurled branches give them an air of being wise and distinguished.

On leaving the forest the trail undulates through magnificent stands of Fynbos, up and down the hills, into a valley where it joins an old jeep track. At the end of the track there is a dam where, in summer, is an ideal rest stop and swimming site. It was a bit cool for that in July. As we hiked up towards Pinnacle View Point – the highest point on day 1 – Sean added interest, explaining how the silver-edge pincushion protea ( Leucospermum patersonii )  acts as a landing pad for sugarbird, getting the pollen on its head as it extracts the nectar and how the seed drops to the ground for the ants to carry underground to exactly the right depth, before they eat away the outer coating and leave the seed until the conditions are exactly right for propagation. He also pointed out the Erica irregularis, flowering in abundance on the hillside, but endemic to the area, occurring only between Stanford and De Kelders and nowhere else in the world.

The views from the high point of Pinnacle View Point are spectacular, with mountains in the distance in the one side and the sea, with the outline of the Cape Peninsula in the distance on the other. By the end of the trail there was a danger that spectacular views would become routine.

The sun was sinking below the hills at this stage as the late start caught up with us. Reluctantly we opted for a short cut along a jeep track that took us down to Fynbos Retreat, our overnight accommodation. The excuse was that we would be back to try out the usual path at some stage in the future.

Fynbos Retreat is comfortable farmhouse accommodation, with crisp white linen on the beds, a blazing hearth in the lounge and a large farmhouse kitchen. The garden setting is stunning and there is a dam close-by for swimming. Electricity is by generator, which Billy had rushed ahead to get started, apparently nearly decapitating himself in the process, and there is a built in pizza oven on the veranda. Billy proved to be a master pizza maker, with home recipe, freshly made bases and a variety of fillings that we were able mix and match for ourselves. The beers were welcome and later Sean treated us to a tasting of his own home made, very drinkable Merlot, while telling us the amusing story of its development. The company and conversation was excellent as we tucked in to the pizzas around the fire in the lounge.

After a nice warm shower, it did not take much effort to get to sleep that night.

Day 2

The second day started with the arrival of Michele with a huge breakfast display. Fruit, fruit juices, a range of cereals, eggs, tomato, toast, preserves and of course, coffee. Clearly it is not a trail that is designed for weight loss – but that is ‘slackpacking’.

Getting the pack back on was a bit of a struggle, but we soon set off along the path that ran along the side of the hill above the Witvoetskloof Valley. Proteas, ericas, restios and a huge variety of other flora line the path and the hills either side, as it descends into the valley itself. There is a boardwalk bridge and steps leading steeply down to the floor of the valley, past a fast running waterfall. As there had been quite a bit of rain prior to us doing the trail, it had to be negotiated with care to avoid slipping. A bit like the milkwood forest of the day before, it is a beautifully peaceful place, with the addition of the gurgle of the stream from time to time, a number of small waterfalls, twisted tree trunks and moss covered rocks. We stopped for coffee and delicious homemade crunchie biscuits before starting our trek out of the valley.

The highpoint of this day is Grootberg and as we hiked up this path, Billy and Sean pointed out the differences between the Fynbos on the limestone ridges and the sandstone slopes. The top of the Grootberg gives a 360 degree views over the entire valley and across to sea at Gansbaai and De Kelders, Hermanus and Cape Point – wow.

The slopes of the hill on the other side of Grootberg were swept by fire in April and are fairly exposed, with a few fire heath ( Erica cerinthoides ) and tufts of green poking through among the blackened skeletons of the burned protea bushes. Down in the valley below the path has been completed wiped out by the fire, mainly because of the speed with which the new growth of groundcover has sprung up. On our way to the lunch spot at the Stinkhoutsbos forest we had to a bit of ‘bundu bashing’ to get to where the path was visible once more.

Michele was waiting for us with a welcome array of mouth watering quiches, pate, cheeses, breads, fruit, juices and more, in a beautiful shaded spot among the afromontane trees. The area was badly exploited for the hard wood trees growing there during the Second World War and made vulnerable to fires as a result. Considerable effort is being made to protect and re-establish the forest by the Conservancy and every hiker participating in the trail is given a tree to plant, gradually reclaiming the forest. It felt good finding a suitable spot and digging the hole to plant my White Pear ( Apodytes dimidiate ) in to the ground.

After lunch we headed along a clear path to Flower Valley Farm, where local flowers are grown, cut and exported for the international cut flower market. It is a project wherein there is a good deal of participation and development with the local population, creating employment and training opportunities. After passing the farm the path disappeared once again, swallowed up by fire and new growth. With a bit of local knowledge, Sean found the way to the jeep track and we were on our way once more.

It was Super 15 rugby semi-final day and Sean had invited us to watch the match at his home, so once again it was a short cut, missing the section of path leading to Bodhi Khaya, where we would be spending the night. Luckily the braai provided by Sean and Michele made up by far, for the disappointing rugby result (being an ardent Stormers fan – enough said). This trail lends itself well to good companionship and conversation and the rugby was soon forgotten. Another wonderful evening to end a very satisfying day. Transport was arranged to take us to the very comfortable Bodhi Khaya self-catering cottages.


Day 3

After another hearty breakfast, we set out on the last leg of the trail, starting with a walk up the side of the hill above Bodhi Khaya. The setting for this tranquil retreat is superb and it is no surprise that it is a place where people come to relax, meditate and get in touch with nature. The Fynbos, dominated at one stage by bright orange pincushion proteas on either side of the path, presents an impenetrable tangle that would be impossible to get through without the cut path. The trail links with various paths used by residents from Bodhi Khaya, crossing a stream at one point where, lagging behind the rest of the group to take photographs, I managed to slip, nearly landing in the stream. Fortunately some soft grass on the other side provided a soft landing and I was able to protect the camera.

Eventually route leads into the Baviaansfontein Valley, following a seemingly disused jeep track to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. This is easy walking between the hills that narrow up ahead as the slopes become steeper. At this point the paths winds gradually up through the forest overlooking the deep gorge, to the plateau above.

Suddenly we are looking down a gradual slope, over stands of purple Erica, towards De Kelders and the sea in the distance. The path, on a now overgrown wagon track, is long and straight, with constant contrast between the bright blue of the sea and the pale blue of the sky standing out against the green and purple of the hills.

We are in to the last leg of the trail now as the track descends a short distance in to the Grootbos milkwood forest, where we stopped for a short tea break before the short stretch to Grootbos itself. Like the Steynbos forest, this one is a magical place, although a little more open, making one more aware that it is surrounded by Fynbos. About half way through the forest I suddenly became aware of a load buzzing around me and found myself in surrounded by bees. Fortunately Anne, in front of me remained calm and walked on without panicking, helping me to keep my own head. I ended up with a few stings on my arms and eyebrow but no major damage as the swarm moved on.

The Grootbos building emerged from the forest, blending in so well that you only become aware of them as you pass. Then on to the magnificent cultivated garden of the estate and the tantalising smells coming from the restaurant. At that stage we settled for a cold beer perched on the luxury recliners around the pool, later being tempted to try some of the lunch buffet. (Lunch at the restaurant is an optional extra at the end of the hike).

Transport was laid on to take us back to our cars at Growing the Future, and with reluctant goodbyes we gathered our belongings for a return to Cape Town. Needless to say, a few of us were tempted to stop off for a beer ‘tasting’ at the Birckenhead.

The Fynbos Trail is a wonderful and highly recommended experience in growing Slackpacker tradition. We will surely be putting a group together soon to experience what is likely to become one of the classic Western Cape trekking routes.

For enquiries contact Frank; frank@slackpackersa.co.za

Fynbos Trail – July 2012

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Filed under News, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails

World Cup Safaris and Tours with Afruka Eco Tours

With the World Cup Soccer come and gone it is good to record some of the activities, sites and scenes that we were able to offer our visitors in addition to the soccer. The overwhelming comments from the people that I came into contact with were the amazement at the diversity of the tourism product that South Africa has to offer, including game safaris, wine tours and tasting, whale watching, fantastic scenery and more. Although hiking is my particular focus, not many of our clients have made the time for this, this time around and most were not sure what to expect. I was fortunate to in being able to host visitors from Brazil, Mexico, U.S.A, England, Canada, Russia and France over the four week period and I am sure many will be back to experience this and more of what we have to offer. I have put together an album of some of the tours, the sites and the people, including a few of the Cape Town games, the Fan Walk and more. Afruka Eco Tours

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Filed under Cape Point, Day Hikes, Day Walks, Information, News, Outdoor, Safari, Slackpacker, Table Mountain, Tours, Wine Tours