20-best-travel-blog-experiences

My 20 Best Travel Blog Experiences… So Far

In the few short years that I have been blogging, Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust has grown from strength to strength. This year especially, I have had the joy of engaging with my peers and followers online; assisting my readers with travel queries; and producing solid content, all while weathering this trying year. Usually, I share a round-up post of my best travel blog experiences for the year with my readers.

This is another way of engaging with them. It also allows me to recap on my own blogging highlights and reflect on the year that has been.

But, with COVID-19, my travels have been few and far between during 2020. Life and its sanctity took priority over travel for me. It was a necessary, responsible sacrifice to make.

When Travel Gets Put on Hold

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In the process, I realised that I don’t need travel to live or even to be happy. Because yes, there are far more important things in life.

Yet, at the same time, 2020 has made me see just how much travel is a keen part of who I am. It has also shown me how much I have to be grateful for and reminded me again just how greatly travel has enriched my life in every possible way.

2020 has taught me to never take that privilege for granted ever again… Because even a coffee shop visit or special day trip is something to be treasured.

So, in light of this, I have decided to compile a post on my 20 best travel blog experiences… So far. ๐Ÿ™‚

My Blogging Journey… So Far

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Since I started blogging in June 2014, my blog has afforded me the most incredible, lifechanging travel- and food-experiences.

It seems unbelievable when I stop and reflect on all I have seen and done. So honestly, compiling a list of just twenty best experiences has been extremely difficult.

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I have stood on deserted, secret beaches surrounded by pristine Cape nature; been awestruck by the beauty of my home city and country endless times; met amazing people from all walks of life on my travels; visited at least 50 wine farms (if not more by this time); dined at hidden gems and world-rated restaurants and estates alike and above all, made lasting memories with those I love.

In this time, every step of the way, someone has believed in my blog – and in me… Whether it is the wine farm or restaurant that agreed to host me for a special review, the trusted travel companion who never tires of my endless itineraries and new travel ideas, the friends and family who have made my travels possible or the PR representative who has believed in my blog’s brand.

My 20 Best Travel Experiences to Date

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I have been blessed and enjoyed such amazing support, experiences and adventures.

This is my way of giving a nod to those amazing travel memories and the local businesses, people and loved ones who made them possible.

At the same time, I want to give my readers the chance to one day aspire to or relish these self-same travel adventures.

Because in a year where life has turned inward – it seems only fitting that my final post for 2020 does the same.

So, here, in no particular order, is a round-up of my 20 best travel blog experiences so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

1) A Romantic Weekend Getaway at Dunstone Country Estate

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Dunstone Country Estate is a gorgeous wine farm and accommodation estate in Wellington.

A few years ago, we were hosted for a beautiful weekend at Dunstone. This remains one of my most memorable self-catering stays.

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Dunstone offers beautifully appointed accommodation (some of which is even pet-friendly) and also has a great bistro in family-friendly The Stone Kitchen.

As far as accommodation experiences go, our stay at Dunstone was definitely one of my stand-out reviews.

Where It Is:

Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

dunstone.co.za

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2) Decadent Lindt Chocolate Experience

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One of my most decadent travel blog experiences thus far was the chance to bake a delicious chocolate cake with a masterful Lindt chocolatier at the Lindt Chocolate Studio in the Silo District.

There are a selection of different cooking classes available – everything from macaroons to chocolate cakes – and best of all, each baker walks away with their incredible creation.

lindt-chocolate-studio-cape-town-best-travel-blog-experiences

This was one of my most luxurious and fun experiences to date.

You can also sometimes get discounts from the shop so it’s fun to stock up on some Lindt treats before or after your class session. The Lindt classes are perfect for experienced and amateur bakers alike to enjoy with their friends, partner or family.

Where It Is:

Lindt Chocolate Studio, Silo District, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

chocolatestudio.co.za

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3) Adventures at Cape Point Nature Reserve

cape-point-nature-reserve-best-travel-experiences

One of my favourite places in South Africa is Cape Point Nature Reserve.

With pristine natural beauty, incredible wildlife and birdlife, stunning secret beaches, lighthouses, family-friendly braai- and picnic-spots, outdoor adventures, curio stores and more, Cape Point Nature Reserve – and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve – is a natural haven.

dias-beach-cape-point

There is so much for families, couples and solo travellers to see, do and enjoy at this special place. It’s virtually my favourite part of the Table Mountain National Park.

I have been to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope twice in recent years and both occasions remain firm highlights in my travel memories and life.

cape-point-lighthouse-new-cape-point-nature-reserve

Where It Is:

Cape Point Nature Reserve, Cape Point Road, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

capepoint.co.za

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4) Fun Wine Farm Hopping with Franschhoek Wine Tram

franschhoek-wine-tram

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is one of the best travel experiences around. To me, the Franschhoek Wine Tram is one of the greatest concepts we have ever come up with in South Africa.

With a variety of private and public tours, different lines (with several unique wine farms to choose from per line) and quality customer service offerings, the Franschhoek Wine Tram is an unmissable local attraction – whether you love wine or not!

It’s the easiest, most fun way to explore several wine farms over the course of a single day. You can hop on and hop off, spending an hour or two on each estate before visiting your next stop.

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Photo credit: Alicia Chamaille

I still want to go back and try their other lines – but the Blue Line we tried a few years ago was a definite highlight.

Although wine farm offerings, such as restaurant meals, cellar tours, picnics and winetastings, are not included in your tram ticket price – you do sometimes qualify for great discounts through the wine tram so it’s a huge help cost-wise too!

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It is a great experience to enjoy with a group of friends, family or even overseas guests. Both locals and tourists alike adore the Franschhoek Wine Tram.

Where It Is:

Franschhoek Wine Valley, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

winetram.co.za

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5) Spier Wine Farm Picnic and Eagle Encounters

spier-wine-farm-stellenbosch

I have said time and time again that Spier Wine Farm is one of the Western Cape’s best wine farms.

What I really love about this tranquil Stellenbosch estate is its eco-friendly practices, quality service offerings and fun, family-friendly travel experiences for all ages to enjoy.

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Whether you go for a peaceful stroll around the immaculate gardens and dam; embark on a segway tour through the vineyards; order a tasty picnic basket; or check into their hotel for an extended stay – Spier is quality from start to finish.

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One of my biggest attractions at Spier is Eagle Encounters. The birds of prey shows and encounters they offer visitors are amazing and ideal for adults and children alike, as they are safe and carefully controlled.

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I am not always a fan of interacting with animals and birds because, for me, there’s a fine line between interacting and actually manipulating animals into doing something they would rather not do – but Eagle Encounters does careful work with the rehabilitated animals and birds of prey here.

Nothing feels forced or stressful for the birds and they can choose whether or not to land on you in the enclosures. (The Spotted Eagle Owls clearly liked me because I had two settle on me at once!)

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It’s wonderful to see these incredible birds and other animals up close and to learn about the amazing efforts Eagle Encounters make to save, help and protect endangered creatures.

Where It Is:

Spier Wine Farm, R310, Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.spier.co.za

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6) Nostalgic Sunday Lunch at The Kraal

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One of my best food- and travel-experiences was our Sunday lunch at The Kraal at Joostenberg Wine Estate.

The Kraal Restaurant has a beautiful outdoor setting, great service and impeccably designed menus each weekend that make the dining experience faultless.

This is relaxed, excellent food and good Cape wines at their best.

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If you are looking for an incredible, farm-to-table-style dining experience in the Stellenbosch countryside, look no further than a weekend lunch at The Kraal.

While you are visiting the estate, why not enjoy a winetasting or stock up on some wines from Joostenberg Estate?

joostenberg-wine-estate-the-kraal-restaurant

Where It Is:

Joostenberg Wine Estate, Hoopenburg Road, Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

joostenberg.co.za

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7) Dreamy Carriage Ride and Picnic Memories at Boschendal

boschendal-carriage-ride

Boschendal Wine Estate is possibly my favourite wine farm of all-time. I have tried to allow other estates to remove Boschendal from its pedestal – but the more I visit this farm (and I have been several times over the years, even since my young childhod), the deeper it creeps into my travel-loving heart and continues to impress me.

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There is something really special about this esteemed Franschhoek wine farm, with its lush, vibrant gardens, cosy deli shop and eateries, stunning wine farm picnics, famous rose garden and quaint, Cape Dutch-style architecture.

boschendal-deli

Over the years, I have visited Boschendal for everything from Werf picnics to deli meals and incredible carriage rides around the estate.

Each time, I come away feeling spellbound by this amazing estate and all it offers.

With MTB trails, lavish cottage accommodation, amazing venues for weddings and other functions, outdoor fun, award-winning wines and quality food offerings, Boschendal is one of the Cape’s most beautiful, well-rounded estates for all ages to enjoy.

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If you visit any estate in Franschhoek, make sure you tick Boschendal off your list first.

Where It Is:

Boschendal Wine Farm, Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.boschendal.com

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8) Overberg Adventures: Penguins, Hiking and More

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One of the Cape regions I love exploring or staying in the most is the exceedingly diverse, fiercely beautiful Cape Overberg Region.

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Everything from its inland valleys and outdoor adventures to its richly rewarding hiking trails, immense natural beauty and stunning, pristinely maintained beaches is a quick fix of pure wanderlust and family-friendly fun.

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The Overberg Region is well-suited to everyone from international tourists to families with young kids or adrenaline-craving couples.

There is something for all to savour and enjoy in this unique part of the Western Cape.

stony-point-nature-reserve-penguins

A few years ago, we enjoyed a magical weekend escape to the Overberg Region.

We crammed in incredible, scenic hikes in both Kogelberg Nature Reserve and Harold Porter National Botanical Garden; sunset drives along Clarence Drive; and even quests to find the Stony Point penguins, good local cuisine and peaceful beaches into one action-packed weekend and it remains one of my best travel blog experiences.

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Where It Is:

Cape Overberg Region, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.overberg-info.co.za

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9) Amazing Hiking and Camping in the Cederberg Wilderness Area

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The Cederberg Wilderness Area is a region I have not explored nearly enough. Yet, even after one jam-packed weekend, I am head over heels in love with this special part of South Africa.

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Famed for its incredible hikes, historic rock art and otherworldly rock formations (like the Stadsaal Caves, Wolfberg Arch and Maltese Cross), excellent camping spots and rich, diverse beauty and Cape wildlife, the Cederberg Region is one part of the Western Cape I feel everyone should visit at least once.

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With its spellbinding star viewing opportunities, lovely accommodation offerings, small wine region and amazing outdoor experiences, the Cederberg is a truly unforgettable place for all ages to explore.

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Where It Is:

Cedergberg Wilderness Area, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.cederberg.com

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10) Fun Couples’ Getaway at Thali Thali Game Lodge

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Whether you visit for a day trip or weekend getaway, you are guaranteed an amazing time at this special, Langebaan-based game farm.

Thali Thali is all about rich nature, stunning farm accommodation, thrilling game drives, fun archery and serenity in nature.

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thali-thali-langebaan

Thali Thali Game Lodge remains one of my most memorable travel blog experiences. Both from an accommodation and adventure perspective.

It is also one of my best in terms of a cosy, romantic couples’ getaway.

I love everything about Thali Thali and that’s the simple truth.

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Where It Is:

Thali Thali Game Lodge, Langebaan, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.thalithali.co.za

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11) Elegant High Tea at the Table Bay Hotel

the-table-bay-high-tea-dessert-buffet

Over the past few years, I have enjoyed high- and afternoon-teas at some of the best places in Cape Town and surrounds. Despite this, my tea experience at the Table Bay Hotel remains one of my favourite to date.

table-bay-hotel-high-tea

With its opulent lounge (or outdoor setting), incredible spread of sweet- and savoury-treats and quality teas, excellent service and gorgeous views of Table Mountain, The Table Bay Hotel is a special experience, whether you visit for a simple coffee or their excellent high tea offering.

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table-bay-high-tea-savoury-snacks

I also love how affordable and generous their high tea offering is.

You really get to enjoy a good amount of both tea and delicious eats, all while soaking up one of the most lavish settings in the Mother City.

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Where It Is:

Table Bay Hotel, Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.suninternational.com/table-bay

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12) Sunset Platters at Kunjani Wines

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Kunjani Wines is one of the few travel experiences I managed to enjoy in 2020. Yet, even in a year where I could have packed travel adventures in, Kunjani would have been a standout.

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I love the vibrancy, warmth and beauty that this Stellenbosch gem offers.

At Kunjani, everyone from owners, Paul and Pia to their amazing staff make you feel like part of the family, ensuring a memorable stay or visit.

kunjani-wines-deck

With some sumptuous self-catering cottages, incredible wines, a stunning restaurant and wonderful service, Kunjani Wines is a definite winner on all fronts.

Kunjani is an estate that I could visit again and again. Even after one sunset visit, I have so much time for this special Stellenbosch estate.

kunjani-wines-restaurant-seating

Where It Is:

Farm 90/20, Blumberg Drive, Devonvale, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

kunjaniwines.co.za

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13) A Breathtaking Hike up to Tranquility Cracks

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Edged by the popular Pipe Track, Tranquility Cracks is one of the city’s most underrated hikes. It’s also quite possibly one of the most beautiful too.

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As ever, caution and safety are essential when hiking. So be careful and please never hike alone.

But this is one of the most rewarding hiking experiences I have ever enjoyed (and I love my hikes).

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The views of Table Mountain, Camps Bay and even Muizenberg in the far distance are stunning. Yet what really makes this hike fascinating are the width, height and formation pattern of these amazing cracks.

When you reach the top, you really feel like you are standing on top of the world and it’s a good feeling to say the least.

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Where It Is:

Camps Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

N/A

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14) Macaroons and MCC Magic at Canto Wines

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Canto Wines MCC and Macaroon pairing

I have enjoyed so many memorable wine tastings at estates all across the Western Cape. Yet one of the most special is certainly Canto Wines’ macaroons and MCC tasting.

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One of the newer additions to the Durbanville Wine Valley, Canto Wines has fast-become one of the most popular. It is adored for everything from intimate, beautiful weddings to relaxed lawn picnics.

But, without a doubt, the highlight at this boutique estate is their delicious, frivolous macaroons and MCC offering.

For anyone looking for a cute date or outing with friends, this is a winning combination.

Each of the macaroons are perfectly matched with their MCC counterpart. Overall, it’s a thoroughly lovely pairing in an equally nice setting.

canto-wines-durbanville-wine-estate

Where It Is:

Canto Wines, Vissershok Road, Durbanville, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

cantowines.co.za

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15) Cosy Weekend Away at !Khwa ttu

khwattu-cottage-accommodation

Another memorable weekend stay for me was our time at !Khwa ttu near Yzerfontein, West Coast.

With cosy cottage accommodation and luxury tents, good restaurant cuisine and an insightful glimpse into the San culture, !Khwa ttu promises a thrilling time.

We loved our tasteful self-catering cottage, with its creature comforts (and possibly the best bathroom around). Just as much as we enjoyed our restaurant meal and time exploring the farm.

self-catering-accommodation-khwa-ttu

With both nature walks and MTB trails among wildlife, !Khwa ttu is geared for outdoor fun.

Yet, equally interesting is the cultural outing you can enjoy here. It was fascinating learning more about the San people and their intricate culture.

tented-camps-khwattu

Where It Is:

!Khwa ttu, Grootwater Farm, Yzerfontein, R27, West Coast, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.khwattu.org

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16) A Stunning Russian Tea Ceremony at Hazendal Wine Estate

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Another Stellenbosch gem is Hazendal Wine Estate. This estate is now arguably one of the best in the Cape Winelands.

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Hazendal offers family-friendly attractions (including Wonderdal), fun picnics, varied food offerings and beautiful grounds.

This estate masterfully combines Russian and Cape cultures, making for an interesting day trip.

It is perfect for families, couples and friends to explore.

hazendal-wine-tasting

One of the estate’s most fascinating aspects is its Russian Tea Ceremony.

This is certainly one of the most impressive experiences I have enjoyed in the Cape Winelands. I can’t recommend it enough. (There is even a child-friendly version available.)

hazendal-tea-garden-ceremony

It’s exciting to learn more about this delicious Russian tradition. Especially while enjoying a selection of tasty sweet- and savoury-treats and Russian tea!

Where It Is:

Hazendal Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.hazendal.co.za

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17) Fine Dining Thrills at Glorious Gรฅte Restaurant, Quoin Rock

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Possibly one of the most show-stopping experiences I have enjoyed to date was our 16-course fine dining experience at Gรฅte Restaurant.

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gรฅte-restaurant-stellenbosch

Found at the beautiful Stellenbosch, Quoin Rock Wine Estate, Gรฅte Restaurant is a stunning restaurant.

While I concede it is a bit on the pricey side, you can still visit Quoin Rock without breaking the bank.

gate-restaurant-quoin-rock

Now, with their picnics, wine tastings and other offerings, Quoin Rock has become more affordable and accessible.

If you can splurge a bit though, a meal at Gรฅte Restaurant is truly special.

gate-at-quoin-rock

Where It Is:

Quoin Rock Wine Estate, Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

quoinrock.co.za

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18) Ziplining in the Hottentots Holland Mountains with Cape Canopy Tour

cape-canopy-tour-ziplining

One of the most thrilling, adrenaline-fuelled outings I have enjoyed to date was ziplining with Cape Canopy Tour.

It was absolutely incredible to drive up the Hottentots Holland Mountains in a 4×4 before a short walk to our zipline slides.

cape-canopy-tour-elgin

With 11 slides, a fun suspension bridge and incredible natural beauty, the Cape Canopy Tour ziplining experience near Elgin is fun for adults and children alike.

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cape-canopy-tour-best-travel-blog-experiences

I would return for this fun outdoor adventure in a heartbeat. Especially with how excellent the staff and owners and safety measures are.

Another great thing about the zipline adventure is how knowledgeable and humourous the guides are. This adds a fun, educational aspect to the overall outing.

ziplining-cape-canopy-tour

Where It Is:

Cape Canopy Tour, Elgin, Overberg Region, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.canopytour.co.za

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19) A Magical Garden Picnic at De Meye

picnic-de-meye-stellenbosch

One of the few, yet entirely special travel experiences I enjoyed in 2020 was our dreamy picnic at De Meye.

This Stellenbosch wine farm, home to the Table at De Meye Restaurant, is another rare gem in the Cape Winelands.

The Table at De Meye has always been famed for its unique country-style lunches – but it’s newly introduced picnics can rival the best anywhere.

picnic-spot-de-meye-wines

alicia-chamaille-online-stellenbosch-winelands-photo
Photo credit: Alicia Chamaillรฉ

Not only is De Meye great for families, with its vast lawns and gorgeous gardens but this estate and its offerings are some of the highest quality around.

I can’t praise our picnic experience at De Meye enough – but trust me, it’s a winner on every score!

de-meye-wine-farm

Whether you visit De Meye for a winetasting, magical country lunch or stunning picnic in the gardens, you are sure to leave feeling utterly enchanted and keen to return.

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Where It Is:

The Table at De Meye, De Meye Wine Estate, Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

thetablerestaurant.co.za

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20) A Dreamy Steam Train Ride and E-Bike Adventure in Elgin

ceres-rail-company-elgin-train-trip

Last but far from least, we have one of my most stunning travel blog experiences: a ride on a steam train, followed by a thrilling e-bike adventure in Elgin Valley.

I love Elgin so much that any excuse to visit this beautiful part of the world and I will jump at it. So it wasn’t hard to get amped about a classic steam train ride from the Mother City to Elgin.

Especially when you throw in some market fun with my parents and an adrenaline-inducing e-bike and wine tour.

elgin-adventure-centre-e-bike-tour
Photo credit: Elgin Adventure Centre

The Ceres Rail Company’s Elgin train trip is one of the most special travel adventures I think you can find.

Offering a glimpse into nostalgic travel of yesteryear, this beautifully appointed steam train experience is ideal for adults and children alike.

No matter your age, this return train journey is sure to induce a heady dose of childlike wonder and whimsy.

ceres-rail-trip-elgin

elgin-ceres-steam-train

And my e-bike and wine tour with the excellent Elgin Adventure Centre (also responsible for Cape Canopy Tour ziplining) is another truly memorable outing.

the-pool-room-oak-valley

I loved every minute on the e-bike, as we rode beneath a canopy of ancient oaks and forest paths. A stunning winetasting at the Pool Room at Oak Valley made it even more special!

Both of these experiences stand out in my mind when I think of the best things I have ever enjoyed through the blog.

ceres-rail-steam-train-elgin

Where It Is:

Elgin, Overberg Region, Western Cape, South Africa.

Website:

www.ceresrail.co.za

elginadventurecentre.co.za

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20 Best Travel Experiences – Here’s to Many More!

ceres-rail-company-elgin-train

While it was hard narrowing this post down to just twenty incredible travel blog experiences, I have no doubt that there will be many more still to come. ๐Ÿ™‚

Until then, I am grateful to each person, business, company or reader who has supported my blog and my journey thus far. Thank you for being part of it.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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