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July 03, 2012

My Bontebok National Park getaway

The media team that visited Bontebok National Park Getaway. Photo courtesy Fazielah Williams

My exploratory adventures with South African National Parks continues this winter and if I thought that quad biking along the West Coast in April was thrilling, I clearly had not seen anything.

For me Bontebok National Park, on the outskirts of Swellendam, has taken the title of most exhilarating weekend getaway spot.

Whether you’re ziplining across the Buffeljachts Dam, putting your taste buds to the test at the Barrydale Cellar with a bit of brandy tasting or trekking through the wilderness for a spot of game viewing, you’re sure to create memorable experiences.

I accompanied a small group of media representatives on an educational tour of this wonderful reserve and discovered why Bontebok National Park is the ideal holiday spot for adventure lovers.

Wake up to nature’s call

Lang Elsie's Kraal Rest Camp is the ideal accommodation for some rest and relaxation in Bontebok National Park. Photo courtesy Rory Alexander

It may be South Africa’s s tiniest park but it sure does have spectacular accommodation and views!

Enjoy some well-deserved rest and recuperation at Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp, a series of quaint wooden chalets on the banks of the Breede River, while listening to the sounds of about 200 species of birds.

If you’re lucky, you may spot the once-endangered Bontebok grazing along the riverbank.

Location: Bontebok National Park
Contact: +27 (0)28 514 2735
Website: www.sanparks.org

Experience a ziplining thrill

Experience an adrenaline rush by ziplining across the Buffeljachts Dam. Photo courtesy Rory Alexander

Nothing gets your heart racing quite like a ride on a foefie slide across a huge body of water, high in the air.

Photographer Rory Alexander was the only one in our group willing to brave the cold and attempt the Buffeljachts Watersports slide. Considering he went back for a second ride, I’d say he had a great time!

For the less adventurous, there are canoes available and riverboat cruises.

Read more about Rory’s exciting experience here.

Location: Umshanti, Buffeljachts Dam, Swellendam
Contact: +27 (0)28 512 3787
Website: www.umshanti.co.za

Stop and smell the lavender

Nicole Biondi, SANParks marketing manager, enjoys the calming effects of lavender picking at the Lavender Farm in Swellendam. Photo courtesy Rory Alexander

After all of the excitement of the day, we headed out to the Lavender Farm in Swellendam.

In this perfumed wave of colour, it’s all too easy to get carried away by its calming effects while picking fresh lavender or staying overnight in the tranquil guest room.

Location: Lavender Farm, Swellendam
Contact: +27 (0)28 512 3476
Website: www.lavender-farm.co.za

Fine dining in Swellendam

You can tell a lot about a town simply by the taste of its cuisine and if the dishes at the Old Gaol on Church Square and De Vagabond are anything to go by, the people of Swellendam certainly know how put on a spread!

Breakfast:

For a full farmer’s breakfast, visit the Rolandale Restaurant and Farm Stall on the N2 highway. The tasty food, impressive book collection and playground for kids make this the ultimate one-stop breakfast stop.

Location: On the N2 at Buffelsjag River, Swellendam
Contact: +27 (0)28 512 3383

Lunch:

Satisfy your lunchtime hunger pangs with a feast at Old Gaol on Church Square. Indulge in the warm roosterkoek (home-made bread roasted over coals) with some apricot jam or bobotie, while the traditional melktert (milktart) is a must for dessert.

Location: Old Gaol on Church Square, Swellendam
Contact: +27 (0)28 514 3847
Website: www.oldgaolrestaurant

Dinner:

A cosy fire and quirky décor makes De Vagabond a great choice for dinner.  Their set menus offer some of the best food I have ever tasted, but I personally recommend the malva pudding with home-made custard.

Location: De Vagabond, 132 Voortrek Street, Swellendam
Contact: +27 (0)28 514 2221

We’re heading out to Aghulas National Park at the most Southern tip of Africa for our next trip in August. I can’t wait!

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