The Moonwalkers of Cape Town

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In celebration of summer in Cape Town, the best season to explore the city’s outdoor life, we will be blogging about a few of our favourite things to do and see. This is perhaps the first thing you should do… the full moon hike up Lion’s Head.

A mountain rises up in the heart of the city. It splits off into new peaks, toward the vineyards of Constantia and Steenberg, toward the Atlantic Ocean, toward the southern most tip of the city, the Cape of Good Hope.

It was here before the bars and restaurants. It will be here long after the hotels and art galleries and cinemas. It is the true north of the city, resetting us on our path – we who live around it. It is part of the city’s personality, but more than that, it is part of us. The locals.

Travellers to Cape Town know its significance. It’s why most days and full moon nights you will find people from all around the world making the pilgrimage – whether to the top of Table Mountain or its outlying peaks, in particular… Lion’s Head. The mountain resembling that King of the bush but home only to the birds, lizards, dassies and people of the Cape.

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As ingrained in my psyche as Lion’s Head is, in my past, present and future, until recently I had never embarked on the Moonwalk. Armstrong and Aldrin aside, this hike takes place each full moon. Hikers make the ascent up the mountain just before sunset and wait on top for the moon to rise. They leave only after the claps and shouts and exclamations of awe and disbelief as that round astronomical reminder of our place on earth rises, slowly, slowly. And then they start on the hike down – in the pitch black night, guided by the light of the moon (and each other’s head lamps.)

You understand everything better up there – watching the brightest and largest object in our night sky, the reason for our Earth being a more livable place, surrounded by people all finding delight in a rather simple phenomenon of nature. Simple, yet so mesmerising. And you fall in love with the city, again. And again.

Below are images from our first Moonwalk, our initiation into Cape Town’s tribe of Moongazers…

For a place to rest your head between these Cape Town summer adventures, take a look at Ellerman House in Bantry Bay, The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia, and Delaire Graff Estate in the Cape Winelands. These Relais & Chateaux hotels will also be able to help you organise your own Lion’s Head meander.

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Views

The view

Night lights

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City life

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The Things We Do For Love | The Benguela Diamond Safari

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“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

The search for a diamond, the right diamond, usually occurs at some time, sometimes many times, along the path of love – for instance, when couples begin plans for an engagement or celebrations of anniversaries and other special events. The art of celebration, though, is and should always be about more than mere materials – it should be about the moments, about a greater experience, one as everlasting as a diamond itself.

Ellerman House’s Benguela Diamond Safari, in partnership with Benguela Diamonds, is just that. Guests at the hotel are invited on a ‘diamond safari’ to the mineral-rich west coast of South Africa, to go in search of their own ocean diamond – and at the same time, to embark on not only a celebration of love, but an adventure in amour as well.

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The journey begins at Ellerman House – from here a chauffeured limousine transfers you to a private terminal at Cape Town International Airport for a scenic early morning private charter flight on board a Swiss-designed Pilatus PC12 jet or a Kingair 200 aircraft. Travelling from Cape Town to Port Nolloth on the west coast, the flight is around an hour and 15 minutes, following the coastline.

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First stop: a luxurious, contemporary villa on the coast, between Port Nolloth and McDoogles Bay, in front of Benguela’s private offshore concession. The morning begins with a cup of coffee or a glass of freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice, followed by breakfast, while the host presents an introduction to the day’s activities.

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By mid-morning, the adventure gets under way with the option of joining the Benguela dive masters under the water. A current Padi Open Water 1 certificate is all that’s required, as the dive is an entry level one, in fairly shallow water.

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For those who choose not to dive, it’s just as exciting to be on the boat waiting for the precious seabed gravel to be brought up to the surface. The gravel runs into a classifier that separates the larger stones from the gravel. The remaining gravel is then ‘jigged’ which means that the diamonds are sorted from the gravel using a vibrating pan system. The heavier gemstones, such as garnets, olivines and diamonds, fall into the pan. Only then does the final sorting and grading process begin.

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A gourmet lunch awaits you on the terrace of the villa after being on the sea. A private chef accompanies guests for the day to take care of all your culinary needs. Ellerman House villa guests will be accompanied by their personal in-villa chef. A gourmet lunch of your choosing – perhaps a seafood dish of fresh line-caught fish or west coast crayfish, depending on the season – is paired to award-winning South African wines, handpicked from Ellerman House’s wine collection.

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After lunch it’s time to sort through the day’s richest pickings with an expert from Benguela’s sorting team, and learn more about the grading of diamonds. This is the time to select your rough diamond to be cut, polished and set into a piece of jewellery at the design studio in Stellenbosch. While nature determines the colour, carat-weight and clarity of a diamond, only a skilled craftsman can determine the cut, displaying the fire, sparkle and beauty of the diamond. When a diamond is cut to perfect proportions – not too deep nor too shallow – light will reflect inside the stone and disperse through the top of the stone, giving it an inner radiance.

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By late afternoon, guests are en route back to Cape Town aboard their private aircraft. Safely back at Ellerman House, round off the day by indulging in the hotel’s signature Dom Perignon Experience. As the sun sinks into the ocean, pop the cork on a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon paired to a delicious bento box-style dinner prepared by the Executive Chef.

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The Facts

  • For visitors to Cape Town, the biggest advantage of investing in a diamond through Benguela is that it only takes three consecutive working days to get a diamond cut and polished, and a piece of jewellery designed, made and certified.
  • Recently opened, The Studio at Ellerman House also offers a full range of Benguela Diamonds for the convenience of its guests.
  • Available for a maximum of 6 guests, the trip includes road transfers, return air transfer on a private jet, and all food and beverages including the Dom Perignon Experience at Ellerman House.
  • For more information on the Benguela Diamond Safari Exclusive to Ellerman House or reservations contact info@ellerman.co.za. View or download the brochure online.

The Route du Bonheur Diaries | The Cellars-Hohenort

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Two things come to mind when I am presented with cake. Marie Antoinette, the Sofia Coppola film. And Edward Monkton’s card, “The Cupcake of Life”, which reads, “May you always find the icing on the cupcake of life.” This is good, because as a young girl it was always that scene in Matilda – I won’t go into detail – that I thought of. As a result, I stayed away from the stuff. Fortunately, high teas such as the one at The Conservatory at The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town have since altered the way I think about all things cake. This particular high tea is a significant sweet thing revival. Because, quite simply, Head Chef Delia Harbottle and her team have created a low carb version of what is usually a very decadent affair.

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The last stop on our Cape Route du Bonheur was for this very experience – The Conservatory‘s Low Carb High Tea. Tiered trays of savoury bites lined our table outside on the verandah – with crispy prawn Vietnamese rice paper roll, broccoli, roasted red peppers and goats cheese tarts, grass-fed beef and peppadew sosaties, hummus, lavash and crudités. More importantly though, on the sweet side, with xylitol replacing sugar, were dark chocolate and beetroot cupcakes, sugar-free fresh fruit pavlovas, yoghurt honey panna cotta scones, sugar-free strawberry jam, whipped cream cheese, and home-made seed and grain bars. Open sandwiches included toppings such as Coronation chicken, roast beef, red onion, horseradish, smoked salmon, chives, squid ink ciabatta.

Surrounded by the stately garden of this Constantia hotel – its Cedar trees, vineyards, rose bushes and duck residents – our troupe raised glasses of local Cap Classique to a trip well done, a Route du Bonheur that was quite truly a road of immense happiness.

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Take a look at the full Low Carb High Tea menu here and for information on the origins of the high tea, read more from The Conservatory team below:

High tea or afternoon tea has a long rich history. It’s a custom that stretches back to the late 1800s. The most enduring tale of how it all began is the tale of the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Stanhope.

Lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, she complained of ‘having that sinking feeling’ during the late afternoon. In those days, it’s said it was customary to only eat two meals a day: breakfast and dinner. So, the sweet-toothed Duchess would tackle the ‘sinking feeling’ with a pot of tea and something to nibble on in her boudoir.

Too good not to share, soon all the ladies of the day took up this new pastime in opulent drawing rooms and grand outdoor picnics all over Great Britain.

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Thank you to BMW for sponsoring our Route du Bonheur by providing the exquisite BMW X3 and BMW530 D as our roadtrip carriages. Thank you, too, to all of the incredible properties that welcomed our group – Ellerman House, Delaire Graff Estate, Bushmans Kloof and The Cellars-Hohenort, and lastly, thank you to the travellers who accompanied us on our Cape adventure.