Author Archive | Lew Rood

Graaf Reinet

Eastern Cape Splendour

I have long wanted to go to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, scenically set beneath the Sneeuberg Mountains, conveniently accessed from Port Elizabeth and close to the historic town of Graaff-Reinet. My recent first visit to the reserve provided a unique game-viewing and nature experience, with breathtaking view sites, great sightings of plains game, good birding, beautiful vegetation and with cheetah on the property too.  This, coupled with clear sunny days and pleasantly cool nights, made for a delightful and relaxing few days in this pristine landscape.

The hospitable management and staff take impeccable care of their guests, and our experienced game ranger opened up Mount Camdeboo to us in a very personal way – he was knowledgeable and interesting and we left with many happy memories, longing to return.

The accommodation options are housed in three Cape Dutch styled restored former homes. Camdeboo Manor offers hugely comfortable rooms, with every amenity you could wish for whilst spacious lounge and dining areas, both indoor and outdoor, spill out on to a beautiful garden and magnificent swimming pool. Just four suites in the Manor plus one, in the garden, in a secluded setting ideal for those wanting complete peace and tranquillity. Rates which are remarkably affordable, are fully inclusive of very good dining, local drinks and two open vehicle game drives daily, with the option too of guided bush walks and other activities which for us included a stop on the property at an Anglo Boer War battle site and graves.

For those who prefer to self-cater, Mount Camdeboo offers comfortable, luxurious and exceptionally well designed options for families and friends travelling together.  The charming ‘Hillside Manor’, scenically situated against the mountain with its own swimming pool, excellently appointed kitchen and three en suite bedrooms so ideal for up to six guests. A shady verandah, comfortable lounge and dining areas, and a rate that includes a game drive or walk every day, it exceeded my expectations. Should you have a larger party, ‘Courtyard Manor’ also self-catering with absolutely everything you need will accommodate up to eight guests.

Mount Camdeboo is a rewarding destination and an added plus, is the fact that should one want to overnight in Graaff-Reinet to view its many national monuments, museums and galleries, the legendary Drostdy Hotel there, is being restored and will reopen later this year, and promises to be even more special than before.

www.mountcamdeboo.com

www.graaffreinet.co.za

04 April 2014

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The Green Karoo

THE GREEN KAROO

Much is written on the Karoo, but still today many don’t actually realise what this region embraces, in spite of the many books published on South Africa’s heartland. My most recent personal experience was probably my most memorable, certainly in recent years. Sneeuberg Nature Reserve is situated in the Sneeuberg Mountains water catchment area with altitudes that vary between 1550 and 2000 meters above sea level. Here you will find green plains and mountains of spectacular beauty with abundant water. Within easy reach of the historic town of Graaff-Reinet, and close to the village of Nieuw Bethesda, made famous by Helen Martin’s Owl House, much of the reserve used to be farmed by stock farmers. ‘Gordonville’ the farm I was fortunate enough to visit, now forms part of the Compassberg Protected Environment.

This pioneering development is geared to protect environments of specific natural importance and beauty, in partnership with the owners of the land, and protects the land from excessive development, mining and drilling for oil and gas. Here I saw an assortment of indigenous game, enjoyed rewarding birding and marvelled at the sight of some 400 Nguni cattle roaming the entire area. The fortunate thing is that you too can enjoy this thanks to ‘Gordonville’ owners Derk Blaisse and Charlotte Daneel. Their home on the property is named ‘Gordonville’, an impressive Herbert Baker style house, built in 1925 and lovingly and artfully restored.

I stayed in ‘Kliphuis’ a self catering, fully serviced guest lodge, located in the most scenic and tranquil setting.  Kliphuis has been magnificently restored from the ruin it was, into an impeccably equipped and stylishly decorated and furnished option for up to 8 guests. The sheer comfort, thoughtful amenities and everything that has been embraced by the modest yet legendary Charlotte Daneel, must make this one the most desirable hideaways in the country. Happily too, there are other options at Gordonville too – ‘Karoo Cottage’, an old stone cottage which has been renovated to sleep 6 guests, also self catering and a charming option, again equipped with absolutely everything you might need to enjoy your time in the beautiful surrounds. The newest option on offer, is ‘The Poplars’, an old farmhouse, close to ‘Karoo Cottage’ (so that one can combine the two if you have a larger group of family or friends travelling), restored to accommodate up to 10 guests on a self catering basis.

Here you can relax enjoying the many books and magazines that are in each property, whilst mountain trails have been created for 4 x 4 driving, mountain biking and hiking, and horseback riding is an option too. My lasting memory will be sitting beside one of the dams on the property enjoying the beauty of flamingos in flight, in this extraordinary environment. As you might guess, I cannot wait to return!

www.sneeubergnaturereserve.com

www.perfecthideaways.co.za

www.treasurethekaroo.co.za

 

 

03 April 2014

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The Guardian March 2014

The Guardian – Friday 7 March

Lew is mentioned in an excellent article by Lisa Grainger, which appeared in The Guardian on Fri 7 March 2014.  To read the full article, click: Guardian Article

A tour of Cape Town, World Design Capital 2014

Forget fancy galleries – in Cape Town, 2014 World Design Capital, the most exciting work is in the townships and once-grungy inner-city areas.

THE BASICS

There is an enormous amount of art and design to see in Cape Town, but you have to know where to find it. Recommended guides include, for fine art, Natalie Bulwer, for bespoke tours Lew Rood and, for planning entire holidays or just days out, concierge Michelle Snaddon .

To explore independently, a good starting point is to download one of several design routes from mapmyway.co.za, as well as the visitors’ guide available on capetown.travel. Many of the hottest designers in Cape Town are based in two edgy but interesting areas, Woodstock and the city centre.

The Old Biscuit Mill Cape Town

History & Innovation

Swellendam – History & Innovation

Tourists both local and foreign, travelling between Cape Town and the Garden Route, might be forgiven for bypassing Swellendam, the scenically situated, historic town alongside the N2. When the Dutch East India Company established a replenishment station at the Cape in 1652, trade continued inland as far as Swellendam.

In 1743 Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the third oldest in South Africa, and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife, Helena Ten Damme. Today, museums and tree lined streets of Cape cottages, many of which are national monuments, remind us of the colourful past, however Swellendam has moved on. Home to some superb small boutique hotels and characterful guest houses, one of the many reasons for making Swellendam a worthwhile addition to any itinerary.

Dining options abound, but Italian couple Cristiana, she in the kitchen, and Gianni, out front, neither with a background of hotels nor restaurants, were welcome arrivals in South Africa, and more specially Swellendam, when they developed the stylish uncluttered La Sosta Restaurant, limited to a small number of guests in the evenings for dinner, who appreciate some fine Italian contemporary décor, authentic yet modern cuisine, intelligently chosen wines and good service.

‘RAIN’ now sold in its own stores from Cape Town to New York, are a range of handmade bath and body products and hand crafted homeware using natural ingredients with African origins. RAIN  products, the brainchild of Bev Missing from Swellendam, are responsibly handmade with love and care for their customers, craftspeople and the environment. Visitors to Swellendam can enjoy the Rainforest Day Spa alongside their RAIN store here in the place of its origin.

www.swellendamtourism.co.za

www.lasostarestaurant.com

www.rainafrica.com

03 February 2014

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