Friday, December 31, 2010

Tidal pools of Cape Town

So many of our visitors enjoying a holiday in Cape Town with their families seem to be setting out from their holiday cottages looking for information about safe swimming for the children, and tidal pools seem to feature prominently in searches on the Internet this summer. This article gives some information about the tidal pools found on the popular False Bay coast of Cape Town, where the water is a little warmer for bathing than the Atlantic side of the peninsula. All of these pools are enclosed by stone walls and offer protected and safe bathing for children. In addition they are well maintained by the City, which places a high priority of tourism in Cape Town.

St James Pool : There is a small beach here, with a large tidal pool that is surrounded by brightly coloured Victorian era bathing boxes which may make this the most photographed beach in Cape Town. The tidal pool is popular for child friendly bathing as it is quite shallow for most of the length although one can dive from the rocks into the deeper end. The pool is surrounded by a relatively low wall, which keeps the water refreshed but keeps children safe. There are plenty of rocks with little tidal pools to explore, full of marine treasures which will keep the kids occupied for hours when not swimming. There is a nice wide sand beach, but St James is very popular on weekends and holidays so it would be best to arrive early if you want to spend the day here. There are toilets, showers and changing rooms at the beach. A pleasant diversion is the walkway along the shore between St James and the beach at Muizenberg that will make an enjoyable meander with the children from where they can admire the ocean and some of the interesting and historic buildings facing the sea.

Dalebrook Pool : is a little further on the main road before one gets to Kalk Bay, and is not as well-known to visitors from outside of Cape Town. This is a great pool where one can swim quite energetically. It is also surrounded by a stone wall, but one which is low enough for the waves to break over the end and keep the pool clean. If taking the children, be sure to let them take their goggles and snorkels because there are plenty of little fish and marine plants in the pool that will keep them amazed. Access to the beach is through a subway under the railway line opposite Dalebrook Road. Toilets, a shower and changing room are available, and it is close enough to Kalk Bay should you need to purchase refreshments or snacks.

Glencairn Pool : on the main road between the popular family beaches of Fish Hoek and Simonstown is another large, walled tidal pool which offers perfectly safe bathing for kids. The pool is a little distance from the beach itself and is situated just below the railway station. It is also a good place to grab a sunbathing spot when the beach itself becomes overcrowded on the weekends. The beach is directly in front of Black Hill Road coming over the mountain from our affordable Noordhoek holiday accommodation and the GPS coordinates are : latitude: -34.15, longitude 18.41667

Miller’s Point municipal resort is a caravan park, boat launching site and tidal pool on the road between Simonstown and Cape Point. It is less popular and not as well-known as many of the other pools, probably because of the distance that one has to travel, but it has a really great tidal pool for children, surrounded by expansive green lawns on which the adults can relax. Although there is not much of a beach here, there are quite a number of small sandy coves where you could enjoy a private family picnic. GPS coordinates : S25.74446 E028.21735

Boulders Beach at Simonstown may not, strictly speaking, be a tidal pool, but it is a beautifully sheltered little beach with gently sloping sands, surrounded by massive boulders which enclose and protect the beach from wind, waves and even predators. The added advantage for children of bathing here is that it is also a sanctuary for the African Penguins who will share the beach and the water with them. Unlike most of the Cape Town beaches, there is an entry fee which contributes to the cost of running the Penguin sanctuary and information centre. It is not only a great spot for the kids to bathe, but they will have hours of fun climbing the boulders as well as ducking beneath them to get to the coves on the other side. It is a very popular beach and crowded at weekends and holidays, so it is best to arrive early as numbers are limited in order to preserve the peace of the penguins

No matter where you chose to stay during your affordable cape holidays, these tidal pools are at most 30 min drive from the city but you can access most of them by train either from Cape Town or from the quaint Victorian station at Muizenberg. Our Blog contains more information about safe bathing beaches of cape town.

By : Affordable Cape Town self-catering accommodation - Fully equipped self catering Cape Town beach Cottages and chalets.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Go Topless in Cape Town this summer

Cape Town’s popular City Sightseeing topless red double decker busses are a familiar sight, particularly at the ticket office in the V&A Waterfront, and have been carrying visitors on holiday in Cape Town on a journey to explore the city’s heritage for some 10 years. The Open Top Red Tour Bus is an easy way to explore the sights, history, sounds and attractions of Cape Town.
This summer they have introduced an innovative new attraction; a “Magical Night Tour, departing at 6 pm only from the V&A Waterfront each evening until February. The 2 hour tour winds through the city, and will stop on Signal hill to view the sunset. This side of the Cape Town peninsula faces west, with the prospect of a spectacular, colourful, sunset over the sea every evening, before returning amongst lovely views of the city lights at night. The adult price per ticket is R80. Kids 5 - 15 years R40 and under 5 Free; but the night tour does not operate on 31 December 2010 and 2 January 2011.
If one buys a 2-Day Ticket to enjoy both the Red City Tour and Blue Mini Peninsula Tour, you will get a FREE Night Tour Ticket to be used on either one of the 2 consecutive days of travel.

The topless bus tours offer a convenient hop on hop off service to explore Cape Town starting at the Waterfront, but you may board the bus at any of the stops with a bus coming your way again about 45 minutes later. Choose from 2 tours:

The Red Route City tour offers the best way to see the City, and to get to the Table Mountain Cableway, the V&A Waterfront and Camps Bay. The tour departs from the Waterfront and winds its way around the City Centre stopping at the most important museums and the Cape Town Castle, before climbing to the lower Table mountain aerial cableway, some 350m above sea level. From there you drop down to the beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton before following the Atlantic through Sea Point and back to the Waterfront. There are 13 stops for your convenience.

The Blue Route Tour is really an inexpensive mini tour of the Peninsula with 10 stops to choose from; each with its own attraction. It offers a spectacularly scenic route outside the City Centre along Devil's Peak to the renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; then through the Cecilia forest and down Constantia Neck to beautiful Hout Bay where you can visit the world of birds in a tropical setting with 3,000 birds and small animals, and enjoy fresh seafood at Mariner’s wharf. From Hout Bay, the coastal road goes past the majestic peaks of the 12 Apostles and a spectacular coastal drive takes one to Camps Bay Beach, reputed to be Cape Town’s own Riviera, followed by Clifton Beach en route back to the Waterfront.

You can hop-on and off as many times as you like aboard the open top double decker bus, and each entire route takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, with the bus departing every 45 - 60 minutes from each stop. What a relaxed way to enjoy Cape Town, with no hassles about driving and parking. In the Cape Town summer the weather is ideal for enjoying the great views from the open top of the bus, and includes interesting commentary and anecdotes about the rich culture and colourful history, in a 14-channel multi-language system for enjoyment of visitors from all over the world, as well as a dedicated channel for children. Kids are more than welcome; and not only can they can plug into their own onboard channel, but they will receive an activity pack to provide hours of entertainment.

You can conveniently book tickets on line and save having to stand in line at the website
The website also has a range of special offers that will enable you to see even more of the city which include:

• A 2 day tour with free night tour: adults R180. Kids R120; kids under 5 free.
• The Go Cape Town card is a great affordable family tour option as it includes the Red City Tour, a tour up Table Mountain on the Cableway and admission to the Two Oceans Aquarium in the Waterfront: Adults:
R 375; R190; Kids under 4 free.
• Tour and Boat ride : Combine a 1-Day Ticket for the Red or Blue Tour with a 1 hour boat cruise in the bay with the Waterfront Boat Company; depart from Quay 5. The adult price per ticket is R200.
• Enjoy a really exciting aerial view of one of the world’s best loved cities in a helicopter: Combine a 1-Day Ticket for the Red OR Blue Tour with a 30 minutes flight over Cape Town. The adult price per ticket is R1050.

Get the wind in your hair and the sun on your face and make the most of this interesting and affordable Cape Town holiday touring opportunity.

By  : Affordable Cape Town self-catering accommodation - Fully equipped self catering Cape Town beach Cottages and chalets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best Cape Town Picnic Spots

The wonderful summer is here and, with blue skies and plenty of sunshine, visitors on holiday in Cape Town and locals alike are sure to anticipate with pleasure planning a family picnic or just a romantic picnic for two. Cape Town's wonderful beaches and stunning scenery present many opportunities for a relaxing outdoor meal. Just be warned that the beaches of Cape Town enforce a "no alcohol" rule for good reasons. Not everyone, however, wishes to have sand between their teeth while eating, so here is a list of beautiful picnic spots that cater specifically for those wishing to have a picnic or a barbecue known locally as a “braai”, all within a short distance from our Noordhoek self-catering accommodation . These spots have been chosen because they allow you to pack your picnic basket and cooler box with your own choice of delicacies, instead of having to pay for an expensive picnic hamper.

Silvermine Nature Reserve
The Silvermine reserve is part of the Table Mountain National park, and is just a few minutes’ drive from our self-catering Cape Town accommodation. At the top of the mountain road is a clearly marked National Parks sign denoting the entrance to the Silvermine reservoir trail. There is a nominal entrance fee, but toilet facilities are provided at the parking area. A pleasant and easy walk to the Silvermine reservoir will be sure to enjoyed by the whole family, along a trail that winds through indigenous flora alongside a bubbling stream with boardwalks to cross the stream, until the trail circles the wall of the dam. Along the walk are panoramic views across False Bay. There are a number benches and tables made out of stone set under leafy shade, where one can picnic or make use of the braai (bbq) pits. The cool, clean blue waters of the dam will entice you to enjoy a swim on a warm day.

Chapman’s Peak Drive
Motor down the road from our Noordhoek accommodation to Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is undoubtedly Cape Town’s most spectacular coastal scenic drive. It is a an opportunity for photographers for great pics, with the road skirting the rocky coastline of the Atlantic Ocean far below, while hugging the slopes of the mountain. Chapman’s Peak drive has more than 100 curves and bends and offers magnificent views from the white sand beach of Noordhoek to the sheltered bay nestling under the imposing Sentinel, which is Hout Bay. Along the drive will be found a number of designated picnic spots, each equipped with concrete tables and benches, most of which are situated on spectacular view spots, and at least one next to a bubbling waterfall. These are lovely secluded spots to enjoy your picnic and, if you plan it for the late afternoon, you will be rewarded with one of the spectacular sunsets enjoyed almost every evening on this western side of the peninsula as the sun sinks into the sea.

Oudekraal is located between Camps bay and Llandudno on the way from Cape Town to Hout bay, and is possibly the best kept secret picnic and bathing spot of Cape Town. It is located under the majestic 12 Apostles range, and offers a number of sheltered coves situated between massive granite boulders with small, safe bathing beaches sheltered from the waves. Some have braai (barbecue) sites sheltered by Milkwood trees, whilst others enjoy fantastic views of mountain and sea. Be warned, however, that there are enough local people who know of this almost idyllic location that it might be difficult to get access on the weekends.

Perdekloof Picnic Site
Travelling from Noordhoek along the coastal road to Cape Point, is a very large picnic spot located in a sheltered growth of pine trees at the foot of the mountain just after the beach village of Scarborough. There are numerous concrete tables and benches and well maintained braai (barbeque) facilities. Perdekloof offers an opportunity to enjoy that "away from it all" feeling, whilst being easily accessible. Right opposite is an open air showroom with great opportunities to purchase stone African carvings from the local people. Entrance to the site is free.

Cape Point Nature reserve
In the Cape Point Park are picnic spots at both Buffels Bay and Bordjiesdrif, with clean white sand beaches, tidal pools, and lovely grassed picnic and braai spots which make it ideal for a family outing. Buffels Bay is often preferred for swimming because it enjoys the warmer waters of False Bay. Cape Point nature reserve presents an opportunity to view the mighty meeting of the oceans at Cape point, the high cliffs above the sea, and a variety of wild animals including baboons, Cape Mountain Zebra and various antelope. There are many other bird and animal species and some 1,100 species of 'fynbos' (Cape indigenous flora) The reserve is open between 6am to 6 pm in the summer months. An entrance fee of R55 per adult and R10 per child is payable.

Seaforth beach is an ideal venue for a family picnic; it has sloping green lawns that overlook the sheltered bathing beach, enabling parents to keep an eye on the little ones at play. The beach is sheltered from waves by massive rocks and offers safe swimming for kids. Entrance to the beach is free. There is a good restaurant at Seaforth Beach, with lovely views from their deck.
Boulders Beach, a little further on, was recently voted the best family beach in the world by a leading UK journal. Here, too, is a safe sheltered beach, nestled amongst the massive boulders for which the beach is named. The whole family will enjoy strolling along the boardwalk past the penguin colony where the cute black and white birds waddle along the beach or swim in the waves. This is a pay beach to limit the numbers. Further on the road to Cape Point one will find a delightful small beach at Froggy Pond ; situated right next to the road opposite the Fresh Air camp, where green lawns invite one to unpack a picnic and enjoy the sound of the waves and the fresh air.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The Gardens are renowned for the diverse floral kingdom and displays of Proteas and fynbos, with a magnificent setting against the Eastern slopes of Table Mountain. This is an ideal spot for a family picnic with plenty of space for the kids to play. In summer there are open-air concerts presented on Sunday evenings, so bring along a blanket, a picnic basket and some Cape wine to enjoy the gardens or the concerts. The Silvertree Deli and Restaurant offers a selection of picnic baskets if you want to take the easy way out. An entrance fee has to be paid to the Gardens.

Tokai Forest
Situated on the edge of the Tokai forest is a spacious picnic site shaded by pine trees, set in the beautiful Constantia valley. There is plenty of space for families and for kids to run and play; as well as walking trails through the forest. Tokai forest is a close forest of pine trees, and, indigenous forest as well as Cape Fynbos; an ideal spot for weekend family picnics. There is a nominal entrance fee payable.

Although strictly speaking located just outside of Cape Town, Spier Estate can reached along the spectacular coastal road that fringes False Bay from Muizenberg beach and I have included it only because it is one of the prettiest picnic spots set alongside a river, with manicured rolling lawns, tables and benches amongst shady nooks, and rippling trees. Picnic baskets can be purchased but the most enjoyable option is to create your own gourmet picnic from the Spier Deli, choosing from the delectable range of cold meats, cheese, salads, delicious fresh bread, and homemade produce as well as dessert display. The family will enjoy packing their own picnic and then set out to nab a spot at the river bank.

No matter which is your choice you will be sure to have an enjoyable day out, but when planning your picnic it is good to remember that if the South East wind is blowing it may be better to have your picnic away from the False Bay side of the peninsula.

By Affordable Cape Town self-catering accommodation - Fully equipped self catering Cape Town beach Cottages and chalets.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holidays in Cape Town more affordable this Summer

We find that our affordable accommodation in Cape Town is usually booked for the peak holiday season of Christmas and New Year more than six months before the start of the summer, by people who can easily afford to pay the required advance deposit to secure their Cape Town holiday accommodation. Things are definitely looking up in the travel accommodation business and we have been experiencing a steady increase month on month since the early part of the year of enquiries for self catering accommodation cape town. What has puzzled us is that so many requests for reservation are not confirmed in spite of the fact that the person making the enquiry has obviously viewed our accommodation and the rates on the website before submitting the enquiry. We have drawn the conclusion that the requirement to pay the 50% securing deposit which is standard in the industry becomes a problem for ordinary working people.

During the month of November as well as early December we have been experiencing a flood of enquiries from the website as well as telephone calls for people looking for affordable cape town accommodation during the peak season after having tried without success elsewhere. It seems that most South Africans from upcountry are determined to have their annual holiday at the seaside but have left the booking too late to take advantage of their expected annual bonuses. We have also noted in the search terms used by visitors to our website that large numbers of people are looking for budget accommodation in Cape Town, cheap self catering accommodation in Cape Town and similar terms. No one in our industry, particularly those who have been graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa or other associations that bestow status upon accommodation want to be associated with the term “ cheap accommodation” and all that it implies, but we used the knowledge that was gained on the market to offer prospective guests the opportunity to pay the securing deposit for a reservation in monthly instalments to suit their budgets and also to similarly pay the balance of the accommodation fee in monthly instalments before the start of their holiday.

Those who have taken advantage of this opportunity have said that being able to take advantage of this flexibility has meant that they will have their annual bonus available to spend during their holiday in Cape Town instead of having to use it to pay for accommodation and dig into their savings. In their latest newsletter Cape Town Tourism has reported that the survey amongst their members showed “cautious optimism” about the summer season ahead. One of the factors that is undoubtedly resulting in reservation about the prospects for a bumper season is the strength of the South African Rand. Luckily for many of us in the non-hotel accommodation sector, the largest numbers of our guests are from within our own country and they are not adversely affected by rates of exchange.

Horizon holiday cottages plans to take advantage of this by offering its clients an instalment plan to make holidays in Cape Town more affordable by allowing guests to book up to 12 months in advance and pay any amount that suits their budget and circumstances. We have no doubt that the fact that we have experienced record numbers of bookings for the summer months; stretching right into the Easter school holidays is due to this flexible and innovative payment plan, for securing affordable accommodation in Cape Town .

By : Dennis : Horizon Holiday Cottages

Monday, November 22, 2010

Safe bathing beaches of Cape Town for this summer

Seaforth Beach, Simonstown

 By now the award of Blue Flag status to some of Cape Town beaches has been well-publicised and blogged about. This coveted award will certainly help to further improve the reputation of our beautiful city as a desirable international holiday destination, but we note that many up country visitors who are searching for cape town beach cottages for the summer holidays are also questioning whether it is safe to swim in Cape Town. For many who will holiday and enjoy the relaxing lifestyle of False Bay and the southern peninsula, the concern is whether bathing will be safe for the family this holiday season. The good news is that the city of Cape Town's recreation and amenities department has made every effort to ensure that the beaches of Cape Town will be ready for influx of visitors for the summer season, with a special focus being paid to beaches and tidal pools. In addition, the city has renewed a contract with Lifesaving Western Province for another three years to provide safe bathing and management of the beaches during the summer peak season, which means that 250 trained and accredited lifeguards will be deployed to render life-saving services at all beaches between 10 am and 6 pm daily from 01 December 2010 to mid-January 2011 when the schools re-open.

Shark-spotting measures will remain a priority for this holiday season, with Shark-spotters being deployed to Glencairn and Clovelly beaches during December, long weekends and over the Easter holidays. Shark-spotters will remain in place throughout the year at Muizenberg Corner, Fish Hoek, St. James, Kalk Bay and The Hoek in Noordhoek. The City’s Sport, Recreation and Amenities Department has been conducting regular checks of all of its beaches to ensure that they are clean and that all infrastructure is maintained including :
• All bathrooms and showers are clean and in working order
• All braai areas, paving, and grassed areas are regularly maintained and weeded
• All railings are maintained and some are being painted
• The tidal pools are managed according to the tidal pool management plan, which includes regular removal of algae
• Attention has also been paid to water quality at beaches and in tidal pools, which is tested and monitored by the Water and Sanitation Department’s Scientific Services, and action taken where necessary.

Horizon Holiday Cottages is a popular family and child friendly accommodation resort, and it seems that many are looking for beaches where the family will be assured of being able to enjoy the sun, surf and the beaches in complete safety. Whilst there are many beaches to choose from in the greater Cape Town area, the beaches of nearby False Bay offer warmer waters and a number of completely safe family swimming options. Especially suitable for holiday visitors with children are the following beaches all within a few minutes’ drive of Horizon Holiday Cottages:

Glencairn beach is the closest of the False Bay beaches; and is just a 5 minute drive from our accommodation. This lovely, clean, sandy beach remains largely overlooked by tourists even though it lies between the more popular beaches of Fish Hoek and Simonstown. The beach forms a small bay that is quite sheltered from the South East winds that prevail in the summer, although there is quite a strong backwash on the beach, particularly when the tides are high. Kids are bound to prefer the spacious tidal pool that juts into the bay, just below the railway station. Although beach amenities are sparse, there are a couple of good restaurants nearby including ”Flukes” at the Southern Right - a pretty, restored Victorian beach hotel.

Seaforth Beach, Simonstown is another great family beach, popular with children and their parents for safe bathing; Seaforth Beach is almost completely surrounded by large boulders with no waves and it is almost like an enormous tidal pool. The beach has gentle sloping sands, making it ideal for toddlers at play, although further out it is certainly deep enough for those who want to engage in more energetic swimming. The gentle sloping lawns that overlook the bathing area offer an ideal spot for a family picnic, and where adults can relax under the shade of old palm trees while keeping an eye on the little ones. The restaurant at the beach offers dining on the deck with spectacular views across False Bay.

Boulders beach has a deserved reputation as one of the world’s best family beaches and can be reached by a pleasant walk from Seaforth beach or, by car, from the parking lot just opposite the unusual golf course at Simonstown. In summer it is best to arrive early since numbers allowed access to the beach are limited in order to prevent overcrowding. The sheltered beach gets its name from the massive boulders that surround it, and which form sheltered coves in which you may will encounter some of the cute African penguins that have made this beach their home. Kids love this beach because the Penguins will come waddling past, or may even be sharing the water with them as they swim.

Boulders beach
You may be assured of your family being able to enjoy our beaches in complete safety at these great beaches. For further information about some other of the best Cape Town beaches with walled tidal pools see our website information, and for shark spotting measures at the beaches consult our blog :

By : Dennis Cook
Affordable Cape Town self-catering accommodation - Fully equipped self catering family Cottages and chalets on Noordhoek beach.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Sharks in Cape Town may not be in the water

It is that time of the year when it seems that all the rest of South Africa is looking for affordable holiday accommodation in Cape Town. We at Horizon Holiday Cottages have been booked since June for the middle of December to the end of the first week in January. In spite of this we receive dozens of enquiries every week for people searching for accommodation between the peak period from about 20 December to 5 January. I notice that the search terms often include “cheap holiday accommodation “ “family holiday accommodation” and the like. Most of us in the accommodation business do not exploit the peak Christmas season of about two weeks, preferring to maintain seasonal rates over the summer period and those visitors who have the foresight to book early are able to take advantage of our competitive rates.

Quite why everyone wants to be in Cape Town over Christmas and New Year for their annual holiday, I have difficulty in understanding. At this time our city is frenetic. The traffic at any time of the day is heavy, the malls crowded, and most visitors intending to holiday over the Christmas period may not be aware that construction is still in progress on the main road between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek, and you can be sure that they will not enjoy travelling along the beautiful coastal road with the traffic stalled for long periods of time. It will be difficult to get into most of the popular attractions of Cape Town and one will have to wait in a long line just to get a seat at many of the popular restaurants while the prices of almost everything, including eating out are raised for this holiday period. The beaches will all be crowded and parking impossible to find.
The 2011 school holidays extend right until the middle of January and prospective visitors to Cape Town with families should consider planning their holiday after the New Year period when they will enjoy Cape Town in a more relaxed state. For those who do not have children at school, consider that the months of February and March are the two most beautiful months in Cape Town. It is the middle of summer, but is often less troubled by the south-east wind and the city and its attractions is not so busy.

I read an article in Times Live titled "Holiday sharks on the prowl", subtitled “Con man collects deposits, then goes missing”.
 It reported that two Cape Town families were conned out of thousands of rands after booking a luxurious home on the Internet for their Christmas holiday. It seems that scammers use free advertising websites to post pictures of a luxurious beach cottage, collect what seems to be a reasonably small deposit, and go missing resulting in these families losing their deposits. We hate to hear of such incidents and advise visitors when booking to ensure that they are dealing with an established and reputable accommodation provider. Cape Town tourism of which we are a member inspects the accommodation of all of their members who are registered as providers of tourist services. We are proud to display the AA Travel “quality assured “ sign on our accommodation because that, too, was preceded by a comprehensive and thorough inspection which is renewed annually . The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa has very stringent requirements of its members before awarding a grading. If you are looking for luxury accommodation you require 4 or 5 star accommodation or, if it is affordable accommodation that you are looking for, this is usually graded, like ours, as 3 star. Almost every year during the peak Christmas/New Year period we receive telephonic enquiries from guests looking for last minute accommodation after finding that what they booked was of such poor quality that they were prepared to forfeit what they had paid just to find suitable accommodation. This misfortune can be avoided if you deal with accommodation establishments that are quality assured.

Fortunately for those of us in the Cape Town accommodation business, our city has more than one peak season, in addition to the Christmas and New Year period. Accommodation at Easter time is sought after because of the school holidays and the Easter long weekend. Looking at the calendar there is a great opportunity to take advantage of off-season rates at the end of April. Then of course we are fortunate to have major events that bring visitors including the Argus Cycle tour 13 march, and the Two Oceans Marathon which will be held on 23 April. Because these times are so sought after there will be a high demand for accommodation and those intending to holiday in Cape Town should be careful not to be deceived by advertisements for cheap accommodation at these times.

By  Affordable Cape Town self-catering accommodation - Fully equipped self catering family Cottages and chalets on Noordhoek beach.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Be captivated by Bohemian Kalk Bay

Cape Town’s equivalent of the Riviera is reputed to be Camps Bay; because it is fronted by one of the most beautiful of the beaches of Cape Town and the main road is lined with trendy, upmarket restaurants and entertainment venues, where the beautiful people go to be seen. Life is very different on the False Bay coast; much more relaxed; where people walk barefoot in the street in their baggies with total disregard for the fashions of Gucci and Tommy Hilfiger. Amongst the coastal gems in the southern end of the Cape peninsula is an interesting and eclectic alternative dining and shopping destination which is the fishing village of Kalk Bay; always bustling on weekends throughout the year, and extremely crowded every day during the holiday seasons. Here people go to sea and to see.

Kalk Bay has a deserved reputation for being bohemian in character, but it has something interesting to offer the visitor on each occasion that one returns. This is why it is so popular with the people of Cape Town, and not only visitors. For a start; the main road of the village is lined with Victorian shopfronts housing antique shops , art galleries, crafts and simply collectable bric-a brac, as well as some outstanding restaurants. Look a little further and you will find quaint shops, boutiques coffee houses and restaurants up almost every one of the little cobbled lanes that lead from the main road up toward the mountainside. Who can resist browsing for an hour or two amongst the collectables in “The Trading Post “ which is located in the old Post Office building next to the railway station. On the third Sunday of the month, you will find the Fresh Etc market located in the community hall, making it the market with the best views in Cape Town . For more info see our Gourmet Markets post.
Fancy having a crepe in an old railway dining carriage? If not, there are many interesting restaurants along the main road; up the narrow alleys and in the harbor. Perhaps the most well-known is the “Brass Bell” situated between the railway platform and the sea; where you can enjoy good fish and seafood with the waves splashing alongside, as well as lovely views of the bay. Others include the harbour house and Polana restaurant in the harbour itself. Another old favourite is the Olympia café and deli where just to get a seat and a table is considered an achievement. Here you will find interesting and outstanding meals, making use of seasonal produce, as well as a bakery whose fame has spread far into the Cape countryside where they supply many restaurants on the wine farms.

Our current favourite is the truly Bohemian “Cape to Cairo” - situated on the beach. Be prepared for a total sensory overload- from the time that you walk up the twisted boardwalk wards what looks like a large beach shack, and enter the bar which serves great mojitos or the dining areas which are crammed with religious icons, myriad chandeliers, bric-a brac, and a variety of cottage and antique furniture where everything in the restaurant is reputed to be on sale. Whether you sit inside or on the small outside dining area you will be sure to have a ringside seat for the activities in the fishing harbour.

Ah … the fishing harbour; beloved of artists and photographers and those who just enjoy living next to the sea, the picturesque fishing harbour as well as the interesting and amusing fishermen and local characters gives so much colour to the village. The little fishing harbor is home to a collection of wooden fishing boats many of which are pained in bright colours and have evocative names like "Star of the Sea". There is a small fish market where you can be lucky enough to get fresh fish off the boat, but the prosperity of the fishermen has suffered because of the dwindling catches in False Bay over the years. During the season one can find good catches of the prized local “yellowtail” and the plentiful barracuda type “snoek” that is the staple of the coloured people; it is also a magnificent fish to be enjoyed on the braai as the South African BBQ is known. Kalky’s is an informal fish and chip sit down restaurant in the harbour which is reputed to offer the best fish and chips in the Cape. Judging by the long line of people at almost any time of the day the locals must agree. If you want to get a flavour of the local folk join the queue for an inexpensive but delicious meal.

Kalk Bay has an interesting history which began with the Dutch East India company who used nearby Simon's Bay as a winter anchorage for their ships to escape the storms experienced at Cape Town. Kalk Bay was used as a staging point from which to carry supplies by barge to Simonstown as there was no passable road from there on until the British occupation. The name “Kalk” bay comes from the Dutch for lime; the local community established lime kilns here to supply building needs in Cape Town. For a while it was the centre of the whaling industry which was a major income earner for the Cape Colony, but which ended due to almost total extinction of the southern right whale off the shores of False Bay. The fishing community of Kalk Bay comprises mostly mixed-race people known as “Cape Coloureds” who have a wonderful turn of phrase and great sense of humour. Their ancestors include people from the Philippines as well as many freed slaves who originated from Batavia, Java and Malaysia who brought their fishing skills and became influential in the community. Kalk Bay has become one of the trendiest villages on the False Bay coast and recent developments of the two magnificent old hotels and the area behind have seen property prices soar to the kind of levels usually only paid for properties on the Atlantic seaboard.

Although running a self-catering Cape Town accommodation establishment may not be as onerous as running a B&B, we often find our weekends fully occupied attending to the business, and to the needs of our guests. Fortunately we do not get many Sunday check- ins and once the guests have departed we have the Sunday afternoon to relax. One of my wife’s favourite treats is to have me drive her in one of our old classic sports cars to Kalk Bay for the simple pleasure of enjoying an ice cream cone, with 2 mixed scoops, at the Ice Café in Kalk Bay main road. Although we have travelled to many parts of the world, my wife emphatically states that there is no better ice cream available anywhere. Not only is there a great choice of flavours, but it is always packed and even boasts pictures of the famous Jamie Oliver delighting in a cone. After that we usually spend an hour or two browsing the shops before returning home relaxed to face the business again.

Visitors on a holiday in Cape Town should not be seduced into spending the whole time in the bright city lights and its environs, or rushing past in a tour bus to Cape Point– come and see how people really enjoy life on the False Bay coast.

By : affordable Cape Town holiday accommodation

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Summer tourists seek affordable Cape Town accommodation

Visitors seeking  holiday accommodation in Cape Town,  whether local or international, are spoilt for choice when looking for affordable accommodation because there is such an extensive choice of guesthouse, B&B’s and self catering cottages and apartments available as an affordable option to the many luxury hotels. Thanks to intense competition, the efforts of Cape Town Tourism and the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, most of these are professionally run establishments offering a high standard of accommodation and who market extensively on the Internet; either directly or through one of the many accommodation websites and portals.

Our self catering beach cottages and chalets have long been fully booked for the Christmas and New Year period. From the number of enquiries that we still receive and the referrals that we get from other networks it is apparent that larger numbers than ever before of local tourists are looking where to stay in Cape Town for the summer holidays. We are receiving many enquiries for the Easter holidays as well as the popular Argus Cycle tour and Two Oceans Marathon. From the pickup in our business, I had good reason to think that the tourist business can look forward to a bumper season . It was with some surprise, then, that I read an article headlined: “SA hunts for summer holiday deals”, on the informative Fin24 website which states that travel groups are seeing a huge decline in business.

The article gives the pessimistic views of some stakeholders in the travel industry :

DEBT-ridden South African households are choosing solvency ahead of the sun and sea this year.Travel and accommodation bookings groups are worried about December, with some reporting that sales are up to 20% slower than last year.

"The travel demand is picking up but is not as busy as it used to be," says Sandy Pretorius, a manager at travel group Harvey World Travel. "Travel packages are fewer and we are mainly selling flights only, with the clients doing their own accommodation arrangements online or staying with family."
Business has taken a huge knock during the recession and is still very slow, …………. says John Ridler of Thompsons Holidays. ……. there is a definite change in the behaviour of travelling South Africans; they are much more concerned about price.
Lindy Wattrus, owner of the Nelspruit branch of Harvey, says the effect of the recession is still seen in the middle-income market in particular. "We find that we are competing for the same spend against indirect competition, such as the ever rising cost of consumables in the form of electricity bills, groceries and fuel.

The phenomenon of a long South African summer holiday may also be in for a makeover.
It looks like shorter but more frequent weekend breaks closer to home are challenging the traditional longer holiday, says Barnie Louw, editor of outdoor and travel magazine Weg!/go!

Recently a travel agent glumly informed me that the Internet has changed their business fundamentally because clients are now able to make informed choices for flights, tours and accommodation on the Internet without having to rely upon an agent. Travel agents are no longer receiving the good commissions that they did in the past and the traveller can usually get the same price direct from the service provider who markets on the Internet. The travel agent stated that the majority of their clients are now those who do not have access to the Internet, or who do not have a credit card. This shift enables the Guest House business to capitalise on many opportunities.

I have no doubt that the strength of the Rand is going to have some effect on tourism from our traditional overseas markets such as the UK, Holland and Germany, because price is important for many of these tourists. South African families are also struggling with high inflation rates and interest rates but those from Gauteng and mining area still want to get away for their annual and school holidays. There is a great opportunity for those of us in the non-hotel accommodation sector to capitalise on this price consciousness by improving our Internet marketing and even networking with competitors in our areas. In spite of the seeming efforts of the Tourism Grading Council to make it difficult for the small business to comply with their grading requirements, we can capitalise on the price consciousness of those seeking holiday accommodation in Cape Town without breaking the family budget.

by : affordable Cape Town holiday accommodation

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gourmet Markets of Cape Town

One of the most enjoyable Cape Town attractions is to spend a lazy Saturday or Sunday paying a visit to one of the many markets that are to be found in the various suburbs of our city. Although we have some very old markets; the modern trend is for lifestyle and food markets which attract many visitors seeking good quality fresh home produce.

The Neighbourgoods market is situated in the Old biscuit Mill in Woodstock, just outside Cape Town city. This market is the undoubted leader, and by far the largest, in Cape Town, and features over 100 traders offering artisan bakes, fresh produce, plants and herbs, handmade cheeses, preserved meats and a wide variety of fine food and produce with the emphasis on fresh organic foods and locally produced specialities. You will also find offerings from small wine estates and micro-breweries to enjoy with your choice of things to eat. Some fashion, jewellery, designer furniture and clothing stalls are also available. It is always popular, vibrant and crowded. The downside of this very popular market is that parking is very difficult to find, unless you go very early, and it has become a little pricey. When/Where : The Old biscuit mill 373-375 Albert Street Woodstock, Saturdays 9 am to 2 pm

The Earth Fair Market, Tokai seems to have recognised the opportunity to offer similar fine quality comestibles to the southern part of the Cape Peninsula and has been successful since being established just over a year ago. This market is much smaller, but more welcoming. As you enter you will be faced with the choice of fresh vegetable or fruit juices as well as a choice speciality beers and wine. The number and variety of stalls has been carefully limited and the centre of the hall is dominated by convenient tables and chairs as well as bales of hay where one can sit and enjoy a meal or a snack. Here you will find a delectable range of home produced delicacies including a selection of tasty pies, farm cheeses, bbq meat and kebabs (sosaties) speciality sausages and meat, fresh and smoked fish, organic and farm fresh produce artisan breads and cakes and bakes, olives and preserves, gourmet pizza and crepes, curries and delightful take home meals. It seems that friends and families have discovered that this is a great place to gather and enjoy a different meal each time in an informal environment. Spoil yourself on a Saturday morning with a breakfast pizza or crepe with great coffee ! Plus factor- no parking problems, and not too crowded. When/Where : South Palms (next to Builders Warehouse in Steenberg Main Rd, and is open on Wednesdays 3-8 pm, and Saturdays 9am-2pm

Triangle Square market : Noordhoek/Sun Valley. This food market has moved from its original location in sleepy Fish Hoek to the Sun Valley mall. On offer are a range of fresh and organic produce, freshly baked pies, cakes and cookies, artisan breads, delicious homemade filled pastas (think Portabello mushroom tortellini, Spinach and Ricotta panzeroti), olives and olive products including delicious Tapenade, smoked fish and pates, relishes and chutneys. One stall holder claims to be the great granddaughter of the famous Mrs. Balls, whose chutney fame has spread all over the globe with the South African diaspora, who also claims the mass produced product is no longer true to the original and she offers the “real” stuff. Finish your visit with a platter of meze, inspired by the Levant; delicious and healthy. This market is within strolling distance of our self-catering cottages, and we encourage our guests to enjoy the fine food and produce on offer. When/Where : Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm. Sun Valley Mall, Noordhoek. The stall holders also operate in the Long Beach Mall on a Wednesday morning

Kalk Bay Fresh Etc Market is situated opposite the sea in a pretty 1906 double storey building. With only 20-25 stalls and its enviable position overlooking the sea and a large parking lot, the market is promoted as being small and personal and a great opportunity to hang out with friends or make a few new ones. On a recent Spring day visit, we found very little of interest on offer, not much choice and not many customers, in spite of the offered great opportunity to hang out on the centre’s balcony while savouring the food and watch out for whales in the bay opposite. We did enjoy the vegetarian Biryani, along with Samosas which was the best food on offer. Perhaps the summer weather and influx of tourists to this popular coastal village will improve the market’s fortunes. If you go and don’t find too much, be consoled by the wide range of restaurants and shops that line the main Road of Kalk Bay which can beguile you to spend the day. Where/When: Community Centre, Kalk Bay, Cape Town; 3rd Sunday of every month from 10am to 3 pm

Simonstown Lifestyle Market at Southern Right hotel : This new market is billed as offering arts, crafts, home bakes, produce, preserves and clothing, and has only recently opened. In spite of the signage and newspaper ads and our knowing the Southern Right hotel so well, it was difficult to even find the market, which we finally located in the back of the hotel. Our visit took just 10 minutes as there was little of interest on offer. The available space is limited for growth and perhaps the best thing to do, is sit on the hotel deck with a cold beer enjoying the view with a plate of local seafood- which is perhaps what the promoters intended, along with their fibreglass Southern Right whale tail that has been planted in the sea opposite. Where/When : Southern Right hotel and restaurant, Glencairn Simonstown, Saturdays 9:30 am to 3 pm

Solole Reserve Market : The Southern peninsula boasts its own Game Reserve at Solole, and is now promoting a new market for local producers of food and crafts as well as wine producers. To encourage families they will have a range of activities for kids. This market will commence on 3 October from 11 am to 4 pm. Where : Kommetjie Road, Capri.

All of these markets can be found within a short drive from our self catering Cape Town accommodation and add to the enjoyment of your Cape Town holiday

By : affordable Cape Town accommodation

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wild Flowers will not disappoint at Kirstenbosch this spring

Spring is a wonderful time for those of us in the business of accommodation in Cape Town; when the roads into our beautiful city are lined with seemingly perpetual old trees and lovely indigenous flowers are in bloom. It is sheer pleasure to take a drive over the Old Cape road (Ou Kaapse Weg ) which leads from our affordable self catering accommodation to the highway into the city. This route over the Table Mountain reserve is lined with beautiful yellow pincushions and Watsonias as well as colourful daisies, and a detour into the hiking entrance to the Silvermine reserve will be rewarded by some spectacular Proteas in bloom. It is a pity for tourists to the Western Cape that the late and sparse winter rains, followed by unseasonable hot weather this year , seems to have resulted in a disappointing flower season in the traditional viewing areas of the Western Cape.

Those visiting Cape Town, however, need not be disappointed, because Kirstenbosch National Gardens has a spectacular display of a wide variety of indigenous flowers to awe the visitor. We visited Kirstenbosch recently on one of those amazing warm and wind free Spring days that make Cape Town seem like paradise, with the temperature soaring to 27C; so warm that my wife had occasionally to rest during our walk on one of the many benches that can be found under the shade of a convenient tree, nestling in enchanting little glens.

Spring is the most colourful time in the Gardens, and we were rewarded with magnificent vistas of colour at every turn. This commenced at the entrance with magnificent displays of orange Clivias growing in the shade of century or more old trees lining the avenue built by Cecil John Rhodes, the one time owner.

There can be few more uplifting sights than fields of Namaqualand daisies turning their bright faces of white, orange, yellow and purple toward the sun, as well as equally colourful vygies that carpet large areas of the Garden. In the fynbos garden many plants are in flower, and the arrays of Ericas were absolutely splendid. My favourite section is the clearly signposted Protea Garden, higher up toward the mountain slope where bright pincushions with their brilliant oranges, yellows, peach and red colours were dazzling. Although they tend to be at their best in the early Summer; we were rewarded with several bushes of the majestic King Protea in full bloom. Who can fail to be impressed by this beautiful flower that symbolises our country, South Africa? Unfortunately we missed the brilliant Cape bulbs, including my own favourites Babiana and Sparaxis because we did not realise that the flowering bulbs are kept in the Conservatory to protect them from the voracious porcupines.
In a cleft is a riverine glade and amphitheatre filled with amazing, semi-prehistoric cycads and tree ferns, offering a welcome respite from the heat and an opportunity to admire these unusual specimens that are so sought after by collectors that a permit is required to keep just one in your garden.

Kirstenbosch Gardens covers 36 hectares in a 528 hectare estate including protected mountainside with natural forest and fynbos set against the Eastern Slopes of Table Mountain, and one cannot be unmoved by the awesome setting of the gardens against this magnificent backdrop. Kirstenbosch was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country's indigenous flora, and is the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site as it forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, which in 2004 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are 3 choices of restaurant or refreshment in the Gardens, but do enjoy the flowers while waiting and don’t be in any hurry as it might otherwise spoil a perfect day. Entrance to the park is an affordable R37 per adult, with lesser rates for students and children; but it is worth noting that SA senior citizens are admitted free (on production of ID) on Tuesdays.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is just one of the many spectacular attractions that are within easy reach of our Noordhoek beach cottages

By : affordable Cape Town accommodation

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beware perceptions that can harm tourism in South Africa

What can influence tourism and our South African accommodation industry more than perception? The euphoria of having successfully hosted the World Cup 2010 soccer tournament has hardly worn off, and many are using this to forecast significant growth in the number of international visitors to South Africa. It seems to me that the jury is still out on the number of foreign visitors to South Africa for the World Cup, but numbers like 200,000 seem to be gaining more credence. This is significantly down on the original estimates of the organizers who were expecting between 350,000 and 500,000. The havoc that was caused by these projections and the perception by the world that it was a great rip-off have been well-publicized. One ponders what the reason could be for such inaccurate estimates by FIFA and the WC organisers? We know that the world recession popped its ugly head up during the planning, and was undoubtedly a factor.

Another factor that should not be excluded is that of perception. Yes, we all take delight in the many positive responses by visitors to our country during the world cup, and the relatively few reports of crime that appear to have affected tourists during this time. We are reassured then that the future for the tourist industry looks bright ahead. It may come as a surprise to find that some overseas journals reported that 1000’s incidents of crime were perpetrated on tourists during the World Cup, although we did not see this in our own press. South Africa has so many attractions and so much to offer the world, but one wonders whether the world at large has really changed its perception of an unsafe and crime-ridden South Africa.

Newsweek is a prestigious publication that is widely read throughout the developed world and particularly in the USA. Note should be taken of their publication of the top 100 countries of the world, and where our own country ranks in their survey, because this is how perceptions are formed. When I took a job a few years ago in Saudi Arabia, friends and family were horrified because of their perception of life in such a country. In the Newsweek survey South Africa was rated 82 out of 100 whereas Saudi Arabia ranked 64th.
NEWSWEEK stated that their objective was to rank the countries which would provide someone born today with the very best opportunity to live a healthy, safe reasonably prosperous and upwardly mobile life. For this special survey, then, NEWSWEEK chose five categories of national well-being—education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and political environment—and compiled metrics within these categories across 100 nations. A weighted formula yielded an overall list of the world’s top 100 countries. Finland topped the list followed by Switzerland, Sweden and Luxembourg. The country which rated highest in Africa was Tunisia with ranking of 65

It is worth looking at how South Africa scored in the various aspects that were rated :
Education 58.25
Health 32.39
Quality of life 46.55 (compare this to Saudi Arabia at 66.2)
Economic dynamism 59.57
Political environment 76.34 ( really good for an African country)

Under "quality-of-life" were considered such things as income equality, poverty, gender gap, homicides and unemployment. A life expectancy of 49 years rounds off the rather dismal picture in which the only really positive ranking is that of our political environment.
For full details see the survey :

What does the Newsweek survey have to do with tourism in South Africa? Perhaps nothing directly at all, but hopefully the authorities will be concerned at the perception of our country that is portrayed to the developed and developing world from where we source the valuable bulk of our tourists. Add to this the aggression and hooliganism that is being portrayed to the world during the current strike of the civil service, with people reported to be dying from lack of health care due to picketing strikers, and one need not ask whether this is the sort of image that will entice people to put up with the cost and tedium of the long haul flights to our shores to visit and enjoy our many attractions and the wonderful beaches of Cape Town . Many will continue to see South Africa as just another part of a backward and unsafe Africa, and look to other popular destinations. If our government is really dedicated to growing tourism there is a need to address many seemingly unrelated social issues.

By Dennis Cook : Horizon Holiday Cottages,  Noordhoek
affordable Cape Town accommodation

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cape Town beaches to have improved shark spotting signs

With the coming of spring, Cape Town beach cottages and other holiday accommodation establishments look forward to an increase in the number of guests and visitors to our beautiful city and its wonderful clean beaches. We have noticed quite an increase in the number of Google searches that relate to sharks and the safety of the beaches of Cape Town recently, so it will come as good news for prospective visitors to find that the City of Cape Town, in conjunction with the Shark Spotters’ programme will put in place three new, strikingly visible information signs to inform visitors as well as raise awareness about the presence of sharks in Cape Town’s waters and to guide beach users on the workings of Shark Spotting Programme.

A new blue ‘Shark Smart’ sign will convey general information on sharks in Cape Town waters as well as advice on using the ocean, and will be erected in the near future. The existing Shark Spotting Programme information sign has been modified to explain the meaning of the colour-coded shark warning flags and shows information on shark spotter duty shifts. Beach-goers can also use it to get general visibility condition information, emergency service contact details and the date of the last shark sighting.

Red warning signs indicating a ‘high risk’ have been placed on Jagger’s Walk at Fish Hoek Beach – where the most recent shark attack occurred. Bathers are , however, reminded to always be vigilant and exercise caution when they swim at any beach, particularly in the deeper waters. In addition, all Shark Spotting Programme flags now have a shark outline printed on them, to ensure that beach users are able to differentiate between the shark spotting flags and other, unrelated, bathing flags.

When the Red Shark Flag is flown this indicates a general shark alert, and will be raised when a shark has been observed in the area, when there are more sharks in the area, or when there are conditions conducive to increased shark activity, such as high fish activity or stranding of a whale. This flag will be lowered only when the alert is no longer necessary and will be flown in conjunction with one of the other spotting flags.

The new shark information signs may be found on the following Cape Peninsula beaches: Noordhoek Corner , Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Clovelly, St. James, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg. The signage is designed to be highly visible and has been strategically placed to ensure that it is accessible to all beach users. The City has requested the public to familiarise themselves with the new signs. Beach-based shark spotters are available to answer any questions related to shark safety, and informational brochures can be obtained from them or the “Save Our Seas” Shark Centre in Kalk Bay. Swimmers are advised to leave the water immediately when warnings are sounded and not return to it until the shark spotters have given the all-clear. For further details and copies of the signs refer to the City of Cape Town website :
In a previous blog post we have pointed out that shark attacks are quite rare on the beaches of Cape Town and that bathing is generally safe. Whilst the attack at Fish Hoek occurred on a deep water bather, most shark attacks involve surfers and spear fisherman and take place way beyond the usual bathing beach waters. If anyone is not reassured by this information and wishes to find information about the many safe tidal pools and enclosed beaches of False Bay, this can be found in our blog post :

By Dennis Cook
Horizon Holiday Cottages, Noordhoek
affordable Cape Town accommodation

Monday, July 26, 2010

South African Tourism taps the USA market

There has been recent criticism of South African Tourism because of its website appearing to set itself up as an accommodation portal in competition with some of its members; promising accommodation establishments who list with them to grow their business. South African Tourism is the national tourism agency responsible for the marketing of South Africa as a tourist destination, and some have felt that this should be their focus. We advertise on so many portals and websites that another with a huge advertising budget will certainly not be shunned, but we do agree that South African tourism should stick to its core business which is to promote tourism to our country.

It is good news, therefore, to read news broadcasts from the USA stating that South African Tourism (SAT) has announced the recipients of its 2010 Joint Marketing Agreements, and that 8 trade partners had been chosen based on their campaign submissions for the “Journey of Discovery”, a tourism marketing initiative designed to identify trade partners for SAT’s Joint Marketing Agreements for the fiscal year 2010-11, with the aim of promoting tourism to South Africa. The winning partners are USA Tour and travel firms 2Afrika, Africa Answers, Classic Escapes, Collette Vacations, Destination Golf & Leisure, Immersion Journeys, STA Travel and Travel Impressions. These all appear to be reputable and well-established tour organisers and are undoubtedly competent to promote our country to the USA. I could not help but note that the website of one – Africa Answers- announces that their services were “ coming soon”. Nevertheless, I believe that the USA is still a largely untapped market for South African tourism in spite of the fact that more visitors came from the States than any other country during the recent World Cup soccer tournament.

This is the second year that we have run this competition, and once again we were truly impressed with the extraordinary level of creativity and quality of execution in the submissions,” said Sthu Zungu, president of SA Tourism, North America. “We appreciate the time and energy that our partners devoted to creating these campaigns, and we congratulate all of the operators who participated. We value their commitment to selling South Africa, and their support for our efforts in this important marketplace.”
SAT had invited their prospective trade partners to submit an innovative proposal for a marketing campaign targeting; with the challenge of building on the positive impressions created during the 2010 World Cup, and to leverage this goodwill into attracting more American travellers to South Africa. Each tour operator received an invitation kit with a letter from the President, detailed profiles of each of South African Tourism’s two consumer segments, a leather travel journal embossed with the SAT logo and the contest rules.

The eight finalists will each receive a fully funded joint marketing agreement to the value of US $25,000, to implement their unique marketing campaigns during the period of August 2010 through March 2011.
For more information, visit
Perhaps because South Africa is such a long haul from the USA, or perhaps because the people of the USA are not well informed about our country, we do not yet seem to take priority in the vacation plans of the majority of people in this affluent market. We hope that this partnership arrangement with South African Tourism will bring about a step change, and that we can look forward to an influx of new visitors looking to enjoy a Cape Town holiday

By Dennis Cook : Horizon Holiday Cottages 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The whole world knows that the whales are back in Cape Town.

Guests at our affordable self-catering cottages and cabanas during the Cape Town “secret season” look forward to the opportunity to view the annual visit to our shores of the whales from the Antarctic. There have been many sightings in False Bay during the past week between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek. Friends who live close to the sea in Simonstown have reported whales coming very close to the shore near their place. The pretty coastal road that hugs the shore all the way through the coastal suburbs from Muizenberg to Simonstown presents wonderful opportunities to view the whales basking or frolicking in the bay. Although it is winter in Cape Town, by comparison with their home waters, the whales enjoys our sunshine and relatively warm waters. One will often spot them lying half submerged lazily sunbathing.

One does not need a whale spotter to know that there are whales to be seen in the Bay- if you see traffic backed up ahead of you and cars pulling onto the pavement you can be sure that they are watching these magnificent mammals and perhaps have taken the opportunity to snap some pictures, aiming their cameras and hoping to catch a special picture of a whale sounding, or slapping his tail above the water.

News spreads fast these days with Internet media and social networks. On 20 July the first report came of an incident where two people from Cape Town stated that they believed that they were lucky to be alive after a breaching whale landed on the yacht in Table Bay. The yachtsman are both instructors at Cape Town sailing Academy and had been sailing Day 32 foot yacht between Robben Island and Blouberg strand, where they had been watching the whale flipping its tail for some time. Apparently just as they were ready to head to shore up the whale breached some distance away and then finally against their boat causing considerable damage to the yacht and some loss of skin and blubber to the whale which was a young Southern Right of between 12- 15 metres long, but fortunately the pair were unharmed and the whale, too, is reported to be OK. Since then, this report has been carried on innumerable websites, news broadcasts and blogs ad made front page of and; with the result that the whole world indeed knows that the whales are back in Cape Town .

South Africa has strict rules regarding for whale watching which include a restriction zone of 300 metres to be kept between vessels and the giant friendly mammals. One report said that Richard Smith, who manages the Waterfront Boat Company, was told by his staff that the couple had been harassing the whale, sailing their yacht close to her whale and annoying it. Anyone who decides to watch the whales from a boat should take note, not only of the restriction, but also the possible danger of getting too close to the giants.

For information about where to see whales or to record your own sighting on the False Bay coast go to this informative and interesting website :

Whilst Hermanus seems to have given itself the title of the whale capital of South Africa, False Bay , Cape Town seems to attract greater numbers of whales and presents many varied opportunities for whale watching. Visitors who wish to enjoy this never to be forgotten experience are sure to be pleasantly surprised that accommodation rates during the winter and spring months in Cape Town are lower than at any other time of the year making this a wonderful opportunity for an affordable Cape Town holiday experience.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travel and Leisure Magazine shock reader poll

That the attractions of Cape Town make it one of the top destinations of the region, if not the world, is no longer newsworthy. Cape Town Tourism does a great job of promoting our beautiful city, but we should take note that the readers of the respected international travel magazine “Travel and Leisure” have relegated Cape Town to second place in the Africa and Middle East region in their latest reader poll. Hot on the heels of the recently announced World Travel Awards voting Cape Town as the best city on the region, comes news that readers of “ Travel and Leisure” who participated in their 15th annual poll to find the world's best in travel for 2010 have voted Cape Town into place as the second best city in the Africa and Middle East region, being narrowly beaten by Jerusalem, but well ahead of Cairo ; famous for decades for the pyramids and the Sphinx. How ironic is this for South Africa, which has acquired an unjust reputation for being plagued by crime- Jerusalem is plagued by constant unrest, ethnic violence, bad publicity for the simmering Palestinian problem and the way in which the Arabs are being ejected from the city. Whilst it has many historic and religious attractions Jerusalem could never be described as a beautiful city. Come on Cape Town Tourism , we can't take this lying down.

“Travel and Leisure” magazine has a paid circulation of just under 1 million readers and may be compared to other influential magazines such as “Forbes” and “Business Week”, both of which have similar circulations. In this poll their readers were asked to rate the best hotels, cruises, airlines, outfitters, cities, islands, and more.
Here is a list of the best cities in the region voted by on their readers with the ranking of 2009 shown

Africa and the Middle East

    09  City          Score
1    3  Jerusalem 87.55
2     1 Cape Town 87.27
3     7 Tel Aviv 83.38
4     4 Marrakesh, Morocco 83.04
5     5 Cairo 78.29
6        Petra, Jordan 77.56
7   -    Dubai 73.71
8   -    Alexandria, Egypt 73.33
9   -    Nairobi, Kenya 72.82
10  9   Amman, Jordan 71.34

We should not become too complacent about the wonderfully favourable publicity that South Africa has received as a safe and friendly holiday destination following on the 2010 World Cup because, according to the readers of Travel and Leisure , Cape Town did not make it into the list of top 10 cities in the world where, surprisingly , 2 of Thailand’s cities top the list:

1 Bangkok Thailand 90.30
2 Chiang Mai, Thailand 89.35
3 Florence 89.17
4 San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 89.09
5 Rome 88.60
6 Sydney 87.99
7 Buenos Aires 87.98
8 Oaxaca, Mexico 87.78
9 Barcelona 87.71
10 New York City 87.68

The same readers have shunned the ostentatious luxury of the self-styled seven star hotels in Dubai and elsewhere in the Middle East, reflecting a taste for African hospitality and adventure in their choice of the top 10 Lodges and Resorts in the region, where a number of South African hotels and lodges have moved into the top 10 compared to last year.

Top 10 Lodges and Resorts in Africa and the Middle East

1 - Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Masai Mara, Kenya 96.31
2 Royal Malewane, Kruger National Park, South Africa 94.67
3 SingitaSabi Sand (Ebony Lodge, Boulders Lodge, Castleton Camp), Sabi  Sand  Wildtuin, South Africa 94.67
4 Kruger National Park (Lebombo Lodge, Sweni Lodge), South Africa    94.25
5 Londolozi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa 94.18
6 Tortilis Camp, Amboseli National Park, Kenya 94.12
7 &Beyond KichwaTemboMasai Mara Tented Camp , Kenya 93.71
8 Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Cape Town 93.62
9 MalaMala Game Reserve, South Africa 93.07
10 Royal Livingstone , Victoria Falls, Zambia 92.59

International tourism has become a major business and contributes much more to the GDP of our competitors than it does in South Africa which, we believe, shows that there is plenty of opportunity for growth in our industry. The readers of this magazine are predominantly from the USA which undoubtedly accounts for their taste and preference in choosing an international holiday. The main markets for South African tourism have always been the UK and Europe; with Germany and Holland dominating. There is a great opportunity to exploit the affluent market of the USA from whom we traditionally get a small share of visitors, because statistics for the 2010 World Cup showed that more tourists arrived for the tournament from the USA than any other country. We think it is time for South African Tourism and our own Cape Town Tourism to focus their efforts in growing this particular market.

Few of us can compete with the luxury Hotels and Lodges that make it to the top 10; but the market is growing for those international tourists who look for self-catering accommodation and B’n B’s for their holiday, and Cape Town’s extensive and professional non-hotel accommodation sector offers these guests a wide choice of affordable Cape Town holiday accommodation.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cape Town voted Tops at World Travel Awards

No one involved in tourism in South Africa needs convincing that Cape Town is one of the most sought after international holiday destinations; particularly after the success of the 2010 World Cup and the extensive favourable international feedback that our beautiful city has received. This recognition has been reinforced by the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony in Johannesburg on 7 July, attended by 1200 senior industry leaders. In fact the headline of the press release on their website states that “ South Africa swept the board at the World Travel Awards Africa”. The World Travel Awards was launched in 1993 to acknowledge and recognise excellence in the world's travel and tourism industry. Now celebrating its 17th Anniversary, the awards is regarded as the very highest achievement that a travel product could ever hope to receive.

Graham E. Cooke, Founder and President of World Travel Awards said, the winners gain considerable commercial benefit from their deserved success. “Because of their global reach and reputation, World Travel Awards are unique and regularly referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of travel and tourism”. This means that consumers are increasingly using our portfolio of winners as a reliable and independent guide when booking their vacation.” “What is so encouraging for Africa is that unlike much of the world, the region has determinedly bucked the trend, notably with the sub-Saharan destinations which are doing particularly well.”

The travel and tourism industry’s best watched South Africa take the spotlight, winning 36 awards out of the total 49 categories; although there were awards for travel companies, organisations and destinations in Botswana, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The winners were selected with the participation of about 183,000 travel professionals, including travel agencies, tour and transport companies and tourism organizations voting on line in over 160 countries.

The full list of awards may be found on the website of “World Travel Awards”, but notable were :

• Cape Town was voted Africa’s Leading tourist Destination.

• South African Airways - Africa’s Leading Airline

• 1Time Airline - Africa’s Leading Online Tour Operator.

• The Hilton Durban -Africa’s Leading Business Hotel

• Sun City Resort - Africa’s Leading Family Resort

• Arabella Hotel & Spa at Hermanus - Africa’s Leading Luxury Hotel

• The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays, -Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel;

• Sandton Sun -Africa’s Leading Convention Hotel.

• The Blue Train- Africa’s leading luxury train

We take pride in the wonderful Cape Town beaches, a number of which have been awarded blue flag status, but South Africa did not have win it all, as Egypt managed to scoop a few prestigious awards with its Red Sea beach resorts, which included:

• Sharm El Sheikh beat the competition as Africa’s Leading Beach Destination.

• The Sheraton Miramar Resort El Gouna Hughada in Egypt took Africa’s Leading Beach Hotel.

In spite of the many prestigious and beautiful golf resorts in South Africa, such as Steenberg Golf estate , just over the mountain from Noordhoek, the top place had to be ceded to Morocco’s Palmeraie Golf Palace, which was voted Africa’s Leading Golf Resort.

CEO’s, directors of leading travel companies, Government Ministers, heads of tourism departments and destinations, industry association leaders and celebrities gathered for Africa’s most important industry evening. VIP’s included: South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Hon. Tokozile Xasa; Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, the Hon. Commissioner, Lagos State Delegation; Mr. Kenneth Racombo, First Secretary at the Seychelles High Commission; Mr. Mansoor Mohamed, Executive Director of the City of Cape Town; and Ms. Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism..

Winners of this Regional ceremony will now forward to compete in the World Travel Awards 2010 final in London, immediately before World Travel Market on Sunday 7 November. To be recognised as the best in Africa is no mean achievement, but we are sure that Cape Town, which offers such an extensive range of activities to suit the interest of every tourist,  and a range of Cape Town holiday accommodation that includes world-class luxury hotels through to the extensive non-hotel sector that includes guest houses; B'n Bs and self-catering accommodation, will be recognised as one of the world’s top destinations.

Website of World Travel Awards :

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The World Loves South Africa- thanks to the 2010 World Cup.

Many are speculating on the benefits to South Africa of the World Cup. We think that the most important question to be considered by those who are involved in tourism in South Africa is what benefits it will bring to the tourism and Cape Town accommodation industry.

Almost every news site, every press release in the internet, every blogger, seems to be speculating on whether the World cup 2010 in South Africa can be justified over other national priorities, and whether there will be financial benefits. The President, Jacob Zuma, said recently that the 2010 World Cup has been an economic success with good return on the investment of R33 billion the Government spent on transport infrastructure, telecommunication and stadiums. He added that the investment had created an estimated 66 000 new construction jobs and that R1.3-billion spent on safety and security included a permanent addition of 40 000 new policemen and women. “The social benefits are priceless. We have seen remarkable unity, patriotism and solidarity being displayed by South Africans, which has never been witnessed before." Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has stated “What this actually means is that about R38 billion will be added to the GDP as a result of the World Cup.” Then there is the enormous amount of new business enjoyed by Cape Town accommodation establishments, restaurants, and all in the hospitality industry right down to the informal traders.

So it made economic sense. There are many who would argue that the money could have been better spent on housing or a number of other pressing priorities, but from a tourism perspective, there is every reason to be pleased with the outcome of the World Cup, because it has changed forever the way in which our country, South Africa, is seen by the rest of the world, with very positive benefits for the tourism industry. Simply stated the world loves South Africa at the moment. I currently work on contract in the Arabian Gulf and I have been amazed at the interest that has been taken in our country by people of this affluent region. There has been surprise and admiration for our country's ability to have hosted such a magnificent and successful international tournament. What is more exciting is that South Africa has moved up alongside the developed nations in the perception of the world and has escaped its stereotyping. Qatar, aiming to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup; has carefully placed its TV ads immediately following that of South Africa in order to capitalise on our great public image. South Africa is at last on the world map. Coming off a base which has shown growth in tourism even during the past year of recession this should fill us with hopeful anticipation.

The Internet, blogs and social media are full of positive reports from those who have visited South Africa during this tournament. We stated earlier in our blog that the 2010 World Cup should be seen as the creation of exciting new future opportunities for tourism. Tourism accounts for about 4 % of GDP, and is a significant employer. Growth in tourism means growth in job creation. The new tourism strategy released in draft by the Minister seeks to create up to 225000 new direct jobs and 400000 indirect jobs in the tourism sector and increase tourism's direct contribution to GDP from R64bn or 3,4% last year to R125bn by 2015.

The massive positive public relations for South Africa has meant that we are seen as a safe, friendly and positive place to visit, and to do business with. The International accommodation portal has just published the results of accommodation enquiries from European tourists which rates Cape Town as the 9th most favoured destination by tourists during the July and August 2010 summer holiday. Undoubtedly some of these enquiries relate to the World Cup but this can only be seen as positive news. The changed perception of the world will bring even more interest from tourists who wish to escape the northern hemisphere winter for sunny South Africa where Cape Town attractions enjoy the majority of visitors. The real benefit of World Cup is the showcasing of South Africa to the world which will grow our tourism; as Germany experienced with a growth of 30% in tourist numbers after they hosted the 2006 World Cup tournament.

On top of the frenetic social networking which has created a public image that almost no amount of government spending could have equalled; South Africa has seen so many influential and public figures are visiting during the World Cup, including ex US Pres Bill Clinton enjoying the nightlife in Cape Town; Chancellor of Germany Engla Merkel; Mick Jagger, Leonardo di Capriccio, UK Royal Princes William and Harry. You may not care for Paris Hilton but the hundreds of thousands who follow her Tweets will get this message : “ South Africa is such a beautiful place. Loves it! It's so beautiful here. I can't wait to go on the Safari this week and see all the amazing animals. Had so much fun at the game today. What a match! I love South Africa! “ Bill Clinton has almost 400,000 followers on Facebook – and has said : “South Africa has branded itself in this World Cup in a very special way. Lots of people didn't think you can pull it off. South Africa is being given a chance to set standards the world can learn from"

South Africa has much to be positive about- our JSE keeps outperforming most of the rest of the world's ; our currency has appreciated some 30% in the past year, and does not seem to weaken because of the inflow of foreign capital seeking investment and excellent interest rates when compared to the rest of the world. In spite of some problems, and which country doesn't have them, we have a stable and peaceful society and we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So many positive reports are being sent by people who had been surprised to find that South Africa is not riddled with crime, and is not like the negative image that has been portrayed by so many. South African Tourism is to be congratulated for ensuring the superb international coverage on the TV networks during the tournament when the interest in our country is at an all-time high. How can we not be awed at the opportunity that this presents?

Danny Jordaan, CEO of South Africa's World Cup Organizing Committee sums it up beautifully "They said we could not build the stadiums in time: we did. They said we could not provide the infrastructure in time: we did. They said we could not deliver the TV broadcast capability to the rest of the world: we did." There were stories of crime and terrorism and even an outbreak of giant snakes, he said. All this fear-mongering was aimed at suggesting that South Africa was too unsophisticated to host the games. The fact is, the South Africa World Cup is a huge success, among the best run in history--and possibly the most profitable for FIFA ever. Take that, naysayers.

Shari Cohen of the US “Huffington Post “ stated : “ As the 2010 Cup slogan goes, "Feel it. It is here." Well, I have felt it, because I am here. Thank you South Africa, for giving me this unexpected gift. I am humbled.” The official statistics on visitors for the period show an increase in the number of tourists from so many of our traditional markets , but the great news is that the USA has discovered South Africa; they constituted the largest number of any country who visited during the World Cup. South Africa has yet to tap this massive and affluent market and the World Cup is certainly conveying the right image for this market.

We in the in the Tourism Industry look forward to the anticipated growth and hope that the numbers of people who will be looking for accommodation in Cape Town this season will be at an all-time high thanks to the legacy of the 2010 World Cup, which we will enjoy for many years to come.