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