How to spend a perfect day in Cape Town

Only in Cape Town can you start the day swimming in icy seas, meet a Cheetah for lunch and have sundowners of fine wine in the mountains.

Matt and I awoke to a glorious day. After months of London snow and miserable cold weather, we both eagerly jumped up and threw on our swimmers for an ocean swim. We walked from Kalk Bay to Muizenberg along the coast, a neighbouring seaside town on False Bay.

I won’t lie, this far south, the sea is COLD. But it doesn’t take too long to thaw out in the South African sunshine. For those that are allergic to sharks, there are a number of shark-free rock and tidal pools along the way from Kalk Bay to Muizenberg to dip into.

We stopped for breakfast at Knead Bakery, a bustling eatery directly opposite the beach. The coffee was great – I’d say it meets my high Sydney standards, and the food was superb. We both felt fortified for the walk back to Kalk Bay.

After picking up Matt’s sister, our designated driver for the day, we began our tour through the wine region of Stellenbosch. Our first stop was Spier, a wine estate in the Stellenbosch region that also throws in a cheetah and bird sanctuary – Cheetah Outreach and Eagle Encounters. We went to both, and they were both special, never to be forgotten experiences.

Secretary bird
Martial Eagle – the biggest eagle in South Africa.

The bird of prey rehabilitation centre houses birds that have been injured, poisoned or fallen from nests. It is an awesome experience to be so close to such impressive predators. We saw eagles, kites, vultures and the bizarre looking secretary bird, a tall, long legged bird which karate chops snakes.

The biggest eagle was the Martial, which apparently can hunt an adult impala. The wingspan of a martial eagle is up to 230cm.

The highlight is getting the chance to hold a Spotted Eagle Owl. We entered a huge aviary and donned leather welding gloves. As soon as Matt held out his hand, two owls landed on his arm – enticed up by a tidbit from one of the sanctuary staff.

The cheetahs at Spier have been raised by people and will never be released into the wild.

“They can’t hunt. If we released a chicken in the pen, he wouldn’t know what to do with it,” says our guide.

Nevertheless, they are a powerful animal and one annoyed swipe of his paw would be enough to end this blog forever.

Before we enter the enclosure, the guide reads a long list of instructions: only approach Josie from behind; lean down on one knee; pat him only on the sides and back. The last thing we want to do is get on the wrong side of this animal.

However, Josie, the cheetah, dozes peacefully while we stroke him. I expected his fur to be rough, which it is, but it is not as rough as I anticipated. A truly amazing experience.

After a picnic lunch at Spier (you can buy the full deluxe basket, but we grazed on a simple baguette and dip),  we drove onto Meerlust wine estate to taste the Rubicon. This bordeaux blend is one of South Africa’s finest wines.

The story behind its name is romantic: Rubicon was the name of the river that Julius Caesar crossed when he advanced upon Rome to wrest sole control over the ancient city from the senate and its ruling triumvirate of consuls in 49BC. The term ‘cross the Rubicon’ means you have made a decision and cannot go back.

The estate is also achingly beautiful in the Cape Dutch architectural style. It is worth a detour through Stellenbosch town to see more of these beautiful old buildings.

My favourite wine of the day was from Rust en Vrede. Nelson Mandela chose wine from this estate to be served at his Nobel Peace Prize Dinner. It has been nominated in the Top 100 wines of the world for four consecutive years. Now that’s a list I’d like to drink my way through.

We ended our day sipping fantastic premium wine in the dappled light under an old oak tree. Cheers!


Eagle Encounter –  R30.00 for entry, which includes shows and holding the owls

Cheetah outreach centre: R10.00 for entry and R100.00 to stroke the adult cheetah (R200 for the cubs)

Meerlust – Tastings are R30 per person, but are redeemable against the cost of purchases. Groups larger than 6 are required to make a reservation.

Rust en Vrede – R40 per person to taste 4 wines, and R60pp to taste 6 wines, including two premium bottles.


This blog post originally posted on What Shmatt Did.


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