CAMPS BAY

THE CROWN JEWEL OF CAPE TOWN

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Gallivant South Africa - Words & Photographs: TRACEY LEE VIC­TOR

Au­thor James Thurber said in one of his more fa­mous books that “beau­ti­ful things don’t ask for at­ten­tion” - and while I’m sure Mr Thurber meant his words in a more an­thro­po­log­i­cal way, the same can’t be said for Camps Bay, the un­de­ni­able Crown Jewel of Cape Town’s At­lantic Seaboard.

it’s a beau­ti­ful early au­tumn evening as I check in to The Bay Ho­tel; a Camps Bay icon, sit­u­ated in the mid­dle of the sea­side sub­urb’s fa­mous Sun­set Strip. The Bay Ho­tel has been a stal­wart on Camps Bay’s most fa­mous strip since the late 1980s, and it’s easy to see why the ho­tel has stood the test of time. Ac­com­mo­dat­ing every­one from lo­cals, in­ter­na­tional celebri­ties and even English roy­alty. If you haven’t been to The Bay Ho­tel, have you even re­ally been to Camps Bay? The check­ing-in process is seam­less, and I al­ready feel wel­come af­ter the won­der­ful ho­tel staff show me to my suite. My suite show­cases Camps Bay in all its glory; beach­front views, a view of Cape Town’s fa­mous Lion’s Head and a bright­ness that can only come from re­lax­ing in a lux­ury ho­tel room af­ter some se­ri­ous trav­el­ling. Af­ter un­pack­ing (and un­wind­ing with the com­pli­men­tary bot­tle of Mu­ratie Mer­lot in my ho­tel room), I find my­self tak­ing the first of many gasps as I see the sun set over the At­lantic Ocean and the bright, white sand of the beach turn a milky beige. As I fum­ble to find my phone - nat­u­rally, to doc­u­ment the sun­set in all its glory - I re­alise why Camps Bay beach has been in­cluded as one of the best beaches in the world on sev­eral trav­ellers’ web­sites. I de­cide then and there that af­ter break­fast the next morn­ing, I would most cer­tainly take a stroll along this world-fa­mous beach. Break­fast at The Bay ho­tel is nothing short of a feast. The buf­fet spread is beau­ti­fully pre­sented and of­fers some­thing for ev­ery palete. As for me, all ideas of pos­si­bly stick­ing to a diet fly out the win­dow and into the At­lantic as I grab my sec­ond, per­fectly baked crois­sant. Feel­ing (a lit­tle) guilty af­ter my crois­sant-in­dul­gence, I make my way to the beach, hop­ing the walk will help bal­ance out the carbo-load­ing I just did. Camps Bay beach re­minds me of a Pin­ter­est board; pris­tine beaches, bright, blue wa­ter and en­vi­able bikini bod­ies. I once again grab my phone, snap­ping more shots of my sur­round­ings - bikini bods ex­cluded, of course. As I make my way back to the ho­tel - a stone’s throw away from the beach - I no­tice that the in­fa­mous Cape Town Red Bus Tour has a stop right in front of The Bay Ho­tel. Be­ing fond of ex­plo­ration my­self, I de­cide to buy a ticket. Opt­ing for the ‘Clas­sic’ pack­age on the open-top bus tour, I was thrilled to find out that the R180 pack­age in­cludes the Con­stan­tia Val­ley Wine Bus, some­thing many a girl­friend has rec­om­mended. With the first de­par­ture at 10:50 from the Red Bus Tour Of­fices, con­ve­niently sit­u­ated in front of The Bay Ho­tel, I was dressed, ready and en route to Con­stan­tia Nek by 11:00. To join the Con­stan­tia Val­ley Wine Bus, you have to get off at Con­stan­tia Nek, af­ter which the much talked about Wine Bus will pick you up, and take you to three legendary wine farms in the Con­stan­tia Val­ley: Beau Con­stan­tia, Ea­gle’s Nest and the in­fa­mous Groot Con­stan­tia - the old­est wine es­tate in South Africa. My girl­friends were right; the Wine Bus def­i­nitely did not dis­ap­point. Shortly af­ter lunch time, I hop off at Groot Con­stan­tia - wide eyed and ready to try the wines and a light lunch (the lin­ger­ing full­ness caused by the crois­sants pro­hibits me from opt­ing for a large lunch!). Groot Con­stan­tia wines are fab­u­lous. Without sound­ing too cliché, or like one of the ladies who lunch on the Up­per East Side of Man­hat­tan, en­joy­ing an ex­cep­tional glass of wine along­side a de­li­cious serv­ing of mus­sels in Masala lentil cream should be the way we lunch ev­ery­day. Life is too short for bad wine and bad lunch dates - that much I’ve learned! Af­ter pe­rus­ing the beau­ti­ful ter­rain of Groot Con­stan­tia, spend­ing way too much money on Sau­vi­gnon Blanc and, once again re­flect­ing on my to­tal dis­re­gard for diet, I make my way down to the pick up stop to wait for the bus: Beau Con­stan­tia here we come! Beau Con­stan­tia, lit­er­ally mean­ing ‘beau­ti­ful Con­stan­tia’ in French, def­i­nitely does its name jus­tice. The view, over­look­ing False Bay is to die for, and I find my­self plan­ning my fu­ture wed­ding in my head. The last de­par­ture from Beau Con­stan­tia for the Red Bus Tour leaves at 17:24, which gives me enough time to get back to The Bay

Ho­tel and get changed for din­ner. By the rec­om­men­da­tion of many Camps Bay lo­cals, I de­cide to head to Camps Bay Re­treat for din­ner at their famed Von Kamptz restau­rant. As if Camps Bay and all its glory has not blown me away al­ready, I am in awe of the ab­so­lutely gor­geous Camps Bay Re­treat. Camps Bay Re­treat is a lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel, com­pris­ing of a gor­geous manor house hous­ing four rooms and sev­eral other rooms and Villa’s sprawled across the four-acre prop­erty. I get there just as the sun bids farewell be­hind the hori­zon of the At­lantic Ocean, and, just as I felt the day be­fore when wit­ness­ing the sun­set from my room at The Bay Ho­tel, I gasp; once more as­ton­ished at the pure beauty this view and this sea­side sub­urb of­fers. The Von Kamptz restau­rant at Camps Bay Re­treat is named af­ter Fredrick Ernst Von Kamptz, a sailor who fre­quented the area in the 1700s and ended up mar­ry­ing Anna Koeke­moer - the widow of Jo­han Wer­nich, who owned the land that we now know as Camps Bay, and sub­se­quently left the land to his widow af­ter his death. Af­ter the mar­riage of Anna and Von Kamptz, the area be­came known as “Die Baai van Von Kamptz”, which is where the name Camps Bay came in to play. I could count my­self lucky as I was told that Camps Bay Re­treat of­fers a buf­fet-style bar­be­cue ev­ery Wednes­day and Sat­ur­day evening, in ad­di­tion to their a la carte menu. As this was an al­ready amaz­ing Sat­ur­day, I de­cided to (once again) put my diet to bed and opt for the bar­be­cue buf­fet. It did not dis­ap­point. With a se­lec­tion of sal­ads, warm, baked veg­etable dishes and your choice of pro-

Groot Con­stan­tia wines are fab­u­lous. Without sound­ing too cliché, or like one of the ladies who lunch on the Up­per East Side of Man­hat­tan, en­joy­ing an ex­cep­tional glass of wine along­side a de­li­cious serv­ing of mus­sels in Masala lentil cream should be the way we lunch ev­ery­day. Life is too short for bad wine and bad lunch dates - that much I’ve learned!

tein on of­fer, I could not re­sist indulging in the buf­fet. The pro­tein, ei­ther beef fil­let or Kingk­lip fil­let, is cooked to your spec­i­fi­ca­tion, on an open fire, while you fill your plate with all the lovely side dishes on of­fer. I de­cide on the Kingk­lip, as I am on the brink of the ocean, af­ter all. My plate is full of hearty veg­etable dishes, fresh, or­ganic salad and a per­fectly cooked fil­let of Kingk­lip. Paired with a per­fect Chenin Blanc - thanks to the rec­om­men­da­tion of the highly com­pe­tent waiter - my meal is one I savour, as I once more reach for my phone to take pic­tures, much to the dis­may of my girl­friends, drool­ing at their phone screens as they tell me how jeal­ous they are. But alas, the evening’s meal is not done. I ven­ture back into the quaint and cosy din­ing room, where a spread of drool-wor­thy desserts have just been laid. Cho­co­late mousse, malva pud­ding and fresh fruit adorn the ta­bles and with a deep breath, I in­dulge. Af­ter gath­er­ing my­self - and ad­just­ing my high-waisted skirt - I re­treat back to The Bay Ho­tel, ready to get into some loose fit­ting cloth­ing and into bed. As I drift off into a slum­ber on my won­der­fully fresh Queen-sized bed, I start to re­flect on my won­der­ful stay in Camps Bay. Have I reached Nir­vana? Did I find the Crown Jewel of Cape Town? I think so. And I im­me­di­ately check my calendar to see when I can re­turn to this lit­tle piece of heaven. My fi­nal morn­ing in Camps Bay arises with a sense of in­tense sat­is­fac­tion and sor­row, as I re­alise I have to leave this beach­front es­cape. The ho­tel staff at The Bay Ho­tel are friendly and ac­com­mo­dat­ing, and it makes me feel as though I’m say­ing good­bye to old friends. As I wait for my Uber to ar­rive to take me home, I once again gasp at my sur­round­ings: sit­ting on the deck at The Bay Ho­tel,

The Von Kamptz restau­rant at Camps Bay Re­treat is named af­ter Fredrick Ernst Von Kamptz, a sailor who fre­quented the area in the 1700s and ended up mar­ry­ing Anna Koeke­moer the widow of Jo­han Wer­nich, who owned the land that we now know as Camps Bay, and sub­se­quently left the land to his widow af­ter his death.

sip­ping on a gin and tonic, and, with the fast, free WiFi the ho­tel of­fers, I pull out my lap­top and start doc­u­ment­ing my time in Camps Bay. I could write about the amaz­ing view, the fan­tas­tic ser­vice I ex­pe­ri­enced at The Bay Ho­tel and all the other venues I vis­ited in my short stay, or the friendly Camps Bay lo­cals I en­coun­tered on my walks on the beach or my quick stops at the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket. In­stead, my mind sums up my ex­pe­ri­ence as a whole, and I re­al­ize that I have found a home away from home. To call Camps Bay the Crown Jewel of Cape Town al­most seems like an an ex­ag­ger­a­tion. A typ­i­cal metaphor that any first-time tourist would use to de­scribe this lit­tle piece of heaven that the Mother City has to of­fer. While I try to re­frain from mak­ing an anal­ogy that would fit firmly in the realm of “cliché trav­eller re­views”, I re­alise that any­thing else would not do this sea­side sub­urb any jus­tice. The views, the at­mos­phere, the friendly peo­ple and the Sun­set Strip in all its glory, could eas­ily trans­port you to a kind of Won­der­land; magical, ma­jes­tic and down­right mov­ing. With my apolo­gies to Mr Thurber and his orig­i­nal quote, I’d like to say that the beauty Camps Bay has to of­fer not only asked for my at­ten­tion, but de­manded it - and I’m oh-so glad it did.

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