Richard Holmes, 9:21 am
“Today, praise be to God, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape grapes.” Those were the words scribbled in the diary of Jan van Riebeeck, the first Dutch commander of the Cape of Good Hope. It was Feb. 2, 1659. South Africa may still be referred to as one of the “New World” wine producers, but there is a long history of wine making in the Western Cape province. With some of the most scenic vineyards on the planet just a short drive from Cape Town’s city center, it’s no surprise that most visitors to the Mother City spend at least a day – often longer – exploring the magnificent wine lands.
Richard Holmes, 1:00 am
Locals tell the weather by the clouds swirling around Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Don’t be surprised if driving directions involve phrases like “drive away from the mountain.” You can’t overstate Cape Town’s beauty. The city is built around its single greatest feature — Table Mountain. Its trailheads are usually just a short drive from most city hotels, which can be a problem. Because it’s so accessible, tourists often underestimate Hoerikwaggo, San for the Mountain of the Sea.
Richard Holmes, 7:30 am
My favorite destination in the Quirimbas region is Ibo Island, where time on the beach comes a distant second to meeting the locals and soaking up the history. There are a handful of guesthouses on the island, but Ibo Island Lodge is your best bet. Walking tours let you wander through the layers of history left behind by Arab, Chinese and Portuguese traders. Silversmiths at the historic fort continue the multi-generational trade. Their fine filigree jewelry makes a perfect souvenir.
Richard Holmes, 7:00 pm
The tropical rainforests of the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo may be the wildest corner of a country taking its first steps in wilderness tourism. There’s no shortage of creature comforts. It’s a bumpy road to Odzala, but for the traveller who’s ticked the Serengeti, Okavango and Namib off their bucket lists, the rainforests of northern Congo should be your next stop.
Richard Holmes, 6:30 pm
Truth be told, my first visit to either bank of the Congo River had sent a tingle down my spine. Far from the cosmopolitan pavement cafés of Cape Town, or laid-back beachfront bars of Maputo, this felt like the real Africa. This was an “Africa” for James Earl Jones to do the voice-over; the corner of the continent Joseph Conrad immortalised in ‘The Heart of Darkness’. Perhaps it’s Brazzaville’s history as a French colony, or the fact that relative peace has reigned north of the river since the civil war ended in 2002, but unlike many African capitals Brazzaville has a relaxed air about it.
Richard Holmes, 6:00 pm
While South Africa may be part of the New World of winemaking, alongside the likes of California, Argentina and Australia, its wine heritage stretches back over 350 years. The Cape’s vineyards have come a long way since then though, and are today a major player in the globalised world of wine. The winelands, a short drive from the centre of Cape Town, offer an exciting look back at the area’s rich and varied history.
Richard Holmes, 8:00 am
In the seventh installment of our monthly flight review series, Richard Holmes revels in the modern-Dutch styling of KLM’s new business class, after the airline’s major revamp of its long-haul premium cabins. The new World Business Class cabin on this flight was certainly impressive, with the cabin crew making a concerted effort to ensure a comfortable flight.