Monday, October 8, 2012
Drove out to Kleinbaai for some Great White shark cage diving action!! There are quite a few different shark cage diving tours in Kleinbaai, its the capital of the sport, but we decided to go with Great White Shark Tours. The company is headed by owner and founder, Brian McFarlane, who has earned a living from the sea his entire life. He has become somewhat of a local legend in the industry with his incredible tales about the sea and his underwater experiences.
There had been a few days of bad weather, so there were a few extra people in our group than usual. We were a bit concerned at first, but by the time we got to 'shark alley' 5 people were already sea sick.
After dropping anchor the crew through out a giant tuna head, a black seal cut-out and began the process of chumming up the sea. We didn't have to wait to long for the first Great White to come cruising by. After that it was pretty much non-stop shark action for the next 4 hours.
Being able to get up close and personal with one of the world's most feared animals was a completely unreal experience! They were sleek, muscled, and incredibly agile. There is no doubt that they are the most evolved predators in the ocean. Row upon row of teeth and capable of sensing the blood of an injured animal from over a kilometre away, its not surprising that they are the most feared creature beneath the waves. And of them all, the Great White is the most awesome.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
After a couple of days in Cape Town it was time to head out on the Garden Route. Our first stop was in a small town called Stanford, about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town. We stayed at the beautiful Mosaic Private Sanctuary, one of the greatest hidden gems on the whale coast of South Africa!! We stayed in one of the stunning 5 safari-style chalets at the Lagoon Lodge. Earthly beauty and African simplicity at its finest!!!
The cuisine was also excellent! Three course dinners and breakfast were included in our stay. Chef Yuri's creations were always fresh and delicious. Breakfast was always a hearty affair and consisted of freshly baked muffins, homemade jams, fresh fruit and a hot meal. The dinners were built around organic vegetables from the garden and local seasonal ingredients… and of course best paired with fine South African wine!
Definitely can't say enough great things about this place!! Fantastic stay!! Food, staff and accommodation were all amazing. The only thing that could have been better was the road filled with potholes.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Spent Thursday afternoon hobnobbing around wineries in Constantia. The oldest and of course my personal favourite was a winery called Groot Constantia, located on the Cape Peninsula overlooking False Bay.
Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in South Africa and considered a national monument in the suburb of Constantia in Cape Town, South Africa. 'Groot' in Dutch and Afrikaans translates as 'great' in English. The winery itself was established in 1685 by the VOC Governor of the Cape of Good Hope Simon van der Stel, and was used to produce wine as well as other fruit and vegetables and cattle farming.
The vineyards are tucked in the steep valley on the eastern side of Table Mountain. Nine different soil types exist on the farm of Groot Constantia, the majority consist of Table Mountain granite soils. The winery is noted particularly for its high-quality red wines, as a result, red varietals account for approximately 70% of the plantings and include the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Red Muscadel, and Malbec. White varietals make-up the remaining 30% of plantings and consist of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, White Muscadel, and Morio Muscat.
The one thing of note about wine tasting in South Africa is that they pour you an actual full size glass of wine!!! Completely different from the average one ounce pours I'm so used to experiencing back at home. They charged us 30 ZAR each for a five glass tasting, about $3.50 CAD. If I lived here I would go there regularly!! Ended up buying 6 bottles and I'm hoping to pack at least 3 of them home with me. The other three are for drinking while in SA. Here were the highlights:
A full-bodied Chardonnay with flavours of oak, vanilla, citrus, litchis and pears on the nose, with hints of orange peel and cloves. The crisp acidity of this wine ensures long lasting tropical fruit and butterscotch flavours on the palate. This is a well balanced wine with defined complexity.
The wine shows black pepper and black currant on the nose, while time in the glass reveals hints of violets, ripe plums and smokiness. The spiciness and black currant follows through on the palate, leaving a sweet rich taste in your mouth.
2010 Gouverneurs Reserve
The wine has a deep, intense ruby colour. On the nose, one finds many ripe, rich flavours: Black cherries, plums, blackcurrant and hints of chocolate and mint. These rich flavours follow through on the palate with black pepper spices coming through on the after taste. The wine offers good extract on the palate with lots of good structured tannin to ensure good maturation potential.