This review was posted by Candice on 1 September 2010.
Part I - From white wines in Franschhoek...
As Cape Portfolios expands its range of exciting villa holiday destinations, our boss cruelly chased the "CP sales team" away from our desks for two days to check out some fabulous rental properties we plan to offer our clients in the magnificent Franschhoek valley (arguably the country's food and wine capital) which is just an hour and a half's drive from Cape Town. And we were asked to experience a luxury safari at the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve which we will also be offering our clients very soon; it's always the Cape Portfolios way to hand pick and view the properties and tourism experiences we recommend and I have to admit I could think of worse things I could be doing for work!!
We had a wonderful drive to Franschhoek and enjoyed a beautiful sunny Western Cape winter's morning viewing some fabulous properties ranging from simple self catering apartments to luxurious villas and hotels. The ones we liked best will be up on our site soon but you can always email us for our top tips in the meantime at
! We paused for a delicious lunch at ICI Bistro and Bar, a trendy little place I would really recommend in the heart of Franschhoek (part of the multi award winning "Le Quartier Francais" Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux group member). Our table outside had wonderful mountain views and the atmosphere was perfectly relaxing after our busy morning of viewings! For those with more time on their hands and big appetites a visit to the World renowned "Tasting Room" restaurant at the same venue is simply a must!!
After some more "hard graft" (!) viewing even more lovely rental properties for our new Franschhoek selection, my colleague and I treated ourselves to a late afternoon glass of white wine at Mont Rochelle, a stunning 5 star hotel I would highly recommend on a wine farm perched high up on the steep Franschhoek valley slopes with unbeatable views. We reflected on the day and thoroughly enjoyed our drinks before an excellent dinner at the hotel's "Mange Tout" restaurant. Again exquisite food, great views and delicious local wine! An idyllic spot for a romantic getaway and certainly don't be shy to ask for the honeymoon suite, indeed even if you are not on honeymoon (or at all romantic!) that particular room is very special and a must if it's available!
Feeling well pampered we retired to our accommodation in a luxurious two bed apartment at the newly launched Ivy Apartments superbly located just off the main road in Franschhoek and easy walking distance from the shops and restaurants (not that we could possibly eat more by now!) The big fluffy duvets and pillows were a relief for our weary limbs!
Part 2 - To white Lions at Sanbona....
The following morning we awoke early to head through to the 54,000 hectare Sanbona Wildlife Reserve which is located at the heart of the Warmwaterberg mountains in the heart of the Little Karoo approx 3 hours from Cape Town. Having never been on safari I was eager and rather nervous about what to expect.
On arrival at Sanbona you have the option of either self drive to the accommodation or a complimentary transfer. We decided on the latter and although this can mean waiting around for up to an hour it was well worth it. During our transfer we saw a wonderful array of animals including zebras, giraffes and elephants! When we reached our accommodation in 1 of 9 luxurious tents in the heart of the mountains and the remoteness and wild beauty of the landscape and setting of the accommodation was simply mind blowing! We didn't even have cell phone reception, how rare and how relaxing is that these days!
We went on two game drives (afternoon and evening) and although initially I chuckled when I saw another guest completely wrapped up as if she was going to the Antarctic, I soon realized what a clever woman she was and spent part of my game drives dreaming of warm hats and jackets!! We were given blankets and even hot water bottles but at least in our Cape mid-winter ALWAYS bring extra warm clothing (7 layers should do it!). We had a wonderful time anyway and saw a lot of game, including the famous Sanbona white lions (apparently the only two self sustaining white lions in the World) and even the nostrils of a hippo - I never knew a hippo can hold their breath underwater for so long!
The following morning the baboons barked and echoed in the valley as our natural wake up call and a sorry reminder that we had to head back to Cape Town. I was sad to leave, having been so in touch with nature and the animals really touched my heart. I just loved the philosophy behind Sanbona which is to re-introduce the same species of wild animals that would have naturally lived in this part of South Africa hundreds of years ago and I must say look so at peace and at home there again now! Ideally Sanbona is somewhere you should go for a few nights to really relax and make the most of the experience. Everything was top class from the food to the service and the endless smiles. I will certainly be going back again and be sure to take my fiancee (and some warmer clothes) with me next time!