Bluebells Cottage

Bluebells is just a brisk stroll away from the centre of Greyton; a town known for its delightful coffee shops, top restaurants and interesting corners filled with arts and crafts. Every Saturday from 10 to 12 you will find the locals and visitors streaming to the morning market where locally produced or harvested treats and fresh produce are sold.
                                                                       
Francois talks about their family trip to Greyton.

KC:  How far is Bluebells from Cape Town?

Francois:  Bluebells is located in Greyton, a peaceful and picturesque village in the Overberg region about 150 kilometers from Cape Town.

KC:  What made you decide to stay at Bluebells?

Francois:  Myself, Carien and the two boys have been to Bluebells in 2012 for the first time and we have been hooked ever since. Bluebells offers something really unique – allowing us as a family to connect, relax and spend quality time together.

Bluebells Cottage

KC:  What was your first impression of Bluebells on arrival?

Francois:  We are home (although we do not own the house…)

KC:  What was the service like?

Francois:  Bluebells is a self-catering cottage – the check-in procedure and cleaning services offered was friendly and efficient.

KC:  Is it child friendly?

Francois:  Yes, Bluebells and Greyton as a whole are meant for children. The gravel roads to walk or cycle and the random free roaming horses makes this place a paradise for children – my kids loved it!

KC:  What activities are offered at Bluebells?

Bluebells Cottage

Francois:  Bluebells is walking distance from Greyton’s top restaurants, art galleries and more. The cottage is well equipped and we ended up buying fresh goods in Greyton and then cooked up a storm every evening – with the fire burning in the back ground (and kids playing snakes and ladders in the lounge – and not staring at the IPAD )

KC:  What was the food like?

Francois:  Greyton offers a good selection of restaurants and if you do not feel like cooking yourself – Bluebells is a hop skip and jump from where you want to be!

KC:  What was the highlight of your stay at Bluebells?

Bluebells Cottage

Francois:  The time with Carien and the two boys in the evenings in front of the fire – just the slow pace of the surrounds and quality time with my loved ones.

KC:  What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois:  You need to stay for at least 3 nights – and you will be back!

KC:  Who is Bluebells ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois:  People wanting to escape from the hustle and bustle of normal city life and want to connect with their loved ones in a rustic unpretentious environment.

Point out of 5
Service  4
Location  5
Facilities  4
Décor  4
Attention to detail  4
Value for money  5

Should Bluebells sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Kayaking Safari in Okavango Delta, Botswana

– Kayaking Safari Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby, Klein Collection Safaris

If you’re tired of sit-down safaris and want a bit of exercise (and adrenalin) to accompany your game watching, John Sandenbergh’s unique kayak trips through the Okavango Delta are the perfect counterbalance to a more traditional Botswana safari. Now 49, John has lived in the delta all his life and is one of the most experienced operators around, and the only person to offer, or dare to offer, commercial, multi-day kayak trips deep into the delta. We join him for an informal two day trip to get a taste for what it’s all about.

Kayaking Safari in Africa

Sophie and John kayaking in the Okavango Delta

Emily, John’s girlfriend, laughs. “I can’t see John anywhere”, she says. “That means he’s telling one of his crocodile stories!” We’re sitting round the campfire in a bush camp deep in the delta and sure enough, John is describing an encounter with a three-metre reptile that attacked his kayak recently. “It came out of nowhere” he says, “And went straight for me. I jammed my paddle into its mouth and it snapped off, the kayak went upside down, I pulled myself into the front section and turned to breath in the trapped air bubble”. Apart from a couple of broken ribs, he got away unscathed. I’d have thought he’d never want to set foot in a kayak on the delta again after that but he’s circumspect. “This is what I do. I’ve been doing it all my life”.

We’d set out on a motorboat from Maun the day before, zooming through the waterways to the buffalo fence that demarcates the community areas from the wilder interior. John’s right hand man, implausibly-named C Company, went ahead with another boat so when we arrived at our campsite on a remote island, everything was meticulously set up with safari tents, a mobile kitchen and camp fire, kettle already on the boil. C Company grew up in the delta and is as knowledgeable as anyone in the ways of the bush.

Birdwatching BotswanaWe’d transported two kayaks up on the motorboat but this evening we decide to take the motorboat out for some fishing and game viewing, and a couple of cold beers as the Botswana sun sinks low over the horizon. African Jacanas flit from lily to lily, a giraffe pokes its neck out from above the reeds and a couple of young male elephants flap their ears at us as we cruise by. Out here, you really feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, while back at the camp, Emily prepares a delicious braai and we drink whisky around the fire, listening to the nightjars, and more crocodile stories.

It’s the crocodile stories that are foremost in my mind when John and I push off in our kayaks from the island and start our paddle downstream. I try to ignore the bite marks in the polyethylene on the back of the boat. The sun is beating down and the air is silent save the distant resonance of Cape Turtle doves, and the dipping of paddles into water. My eyes constantly scan for moving lilies, and that silent ripple as a croc glides underwater towards you.

John laughs. “The crocs here are not too big”, he says. “This area was dry for too long. It’s up in the panhandle that you have to be really careful”. Over the years, John has learnt which areas to avoid and at what times of year, and his trips are planned carefully to minimise the risks. As we cruise along, he taps the side of the boat with his paddle.

“It’s to warn the hippos”, he explains. “I find that as long as they know I’m here, they’ll leave me alone. It’s when you surprise them that the trouble starts. Sometimes they even answer to my taps with a ‘honk honk’ and we have a little conversation. I’m here, you’re there.” In all his life paddling in the delta, John’s never been attacked by a hippo. “I’ve had a few close calls though!” he confesses.

We pick up the motorboat further downstream and Anne-Sophie has a turn in the kayak. We’re both struck by how comfortable they are, with fully adjustable padded seats and adjustable foot rests. We’ve found on kayak trips before that you can quickly get uncomfortable after an hour or two, making a multi-day trip nothing short of torture. With John’s kayaks you’re comfortable from the start and good for many days of paddling – John’s even done an epic 22 day trip in them.

We relax in the motorboat for a bit and land on an island for lunch. This being a ‘slack-kayak’ we’re enjoying the comforts of the motorboat more than usual, but on a typical 5 day trip, you might kayak 7 hours a day and 30-50km, depending on the fitness level of the group. That sounds a lot, but with the flow of the water at around 3kph (and you always paddle downstream), it goes surprisingly quickly.

What we found most satisfying was the physical exercise combined with the wilderness experience. All too often on safari you sit on your backside day after day, either in a vehicle or on a boat, and get plied with copious amounts of food and drink all day to boot. Sometimes you just crave getting your heart rate up a bit, and a stroll in the bush doesn’t always do it. John’s kayak trips give you as much of a work out as you want, in one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in Africa.

If you’re looking for a challenge as well as a safari, this is it.

Kayaking the Okavango 101

For John, this is a lifestyle as well as a business and he does this because he’s passionate about it.

Kayaking SafariHis most popular trips involve taking a motorboat with kayaks and supplies for mobile camps high up into the delta, then paddling downstream for 4-5 days camping on islands where you’ll hear lions roar and see no one. The camps are basic but absolutely adequate with comfortable tents and sleeping rolls and good, hearty food cooked on open fires, and plenty of cold beers after a long day’s paddle.

Trips are for a minimum of two people and can be tailored for whatever you want – from the popular 5-day paddle, to a shorter ‘slack kayak’ where you can cheat with the motorboat, to a full-on, no-frills, self sufficient Trans-Okavango expedition of 10 days or more.

John carries a full first aid kit and satellite phone for emergencies but no firearms. It’s important to understand that this is a remote wilderness area with dangerous game in abundance and although you’re in the safest hands around, you need to be comfortable with this.

Botswana Kayaking and Camping TripGood for: The more active and adventurous looking to compliment a traditional safari with something unique.

Not good for: The fainthearted…

We would love to help you plan your own African safari. Contact us today.

Old Mac Daddy: fresh and fun

I was still walking towards my car after check-out when the next-door guests sneaked over to my trailer to find out what the designer did with its unique theme. I prayed that they would not carry away the Victorian crystal, silver and hand-crocheted cotton napkins before management had a chance to check their inventory. But it is not that kind of trailer park. Die Antwoord would definitely not feel at home here.

Old Mac Daddy silver and crystal

Old Mac Daddy is the ingénue youngest sister of the suave, but playful Grand Daddy hotel on Long Street, Cape Town. The concept is the same: import several Airstream trailers and commission local artists and designers to each create an artwork in which guest will not only sleep, but which will surprise and delight them around every corner. Unlike its two sister hotels in Long Street, the Old Mac Daddy is nestled in the countryside, with a super spacious restaurant and bar area flowing onto a pool deck, and trailers overlooking Elgin’s apple orchards, water-lilied ponds and gigantic weeping willows.

Old Mac Daddy Life before colour

Since first stepping into Life before Colour during an open day, when the nearly completed trailers debuted to Capetonians before moving to their new home in Elgin, I knew that I wanted to stay in that specific Airstream. And so I booked their honeymoon suite by accident. To the credit of the Old Mac Daddy reception, they only asked once whether I was alone and appeared baffled at my answer for less than one second before carrying my luggage to this romantic boudoir in black, white, silver and light gold.

Old Mac Daddy trailers

Life before Colour is larger than the other trailers with themes like The Dirkie Sanchez suite, The Private Life of Plants and For Better or for Boerewors. But it does not have the lounge and bathroom glass-and-brick annex of the other trailers. Instead it hosts a large Victorian bath in the sleeping quarters (but a private W.C.)The attention to detail is something to explore for yourself and I will not spoil your fun.

I used the Saturday morning to taste wine at the two largest estates in the area, Oak Valley and Paul Cluver, before sampling the organic salads at Fresh, with most ingredients straight from the thriving fruit and vegetable garden surrounding this slow food restaurant. The nursery of Oak Valley, who is also the supplier of cut flowers to Woolworths, can be toured by prior arrangement.

A friend joined me during the run of the Saturday afternoon for a cabaret at the nearby Paul Cluver forest theatre. This is an experience in itself and I highly recommend planning your stay at the trailer park to coincide with one of the amphitheatre’s concerts. Just take care to drive back slowly, as you are bound to encounter a few frogs crossing the road on those perfect summer nights.

Old Mac Daddy pool area

Colleagues who had stayed at the Old Mac Daddy before warned me that there is not that much to do, but that they found it a great place to relax. I was not bored for one second. The Lebanon Mountain Bike trail runs right next to the trailer park and I explored parts of the route on foot. (There are mountain bikes to rent from the Old Mac Daddy or you can bring your own.) The colourful bee hives against a back-drop of tranquil farm dams below are picture perfect. And good news for the eco conscious: through the planting of 3,500 indigenous plants Old Mac Daddy is luring honey bees and birds back to the previously eroding pine slopes. There are plenty of places to swim, from the lodge’s own child-friendly pool to the large clay dam just down the road (reception will give you directions). The library is extensive, internet access free and the bar will serve you champagne late into the night.

The playfulness of this place really rejuvenates. I can especially recommend it to families with small children or someone who enjoys the quirky and unexpected.

Review by: Lizelle Steyn, independent traveller