Whales and a white-knuckle ride

Whales and a white-knuckle ride

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If quad biking is supposed to be so much fun, why is my mouth dry, my knuckes white, and I’m terrified I’m about to shoot through the air before being pummeled into the ground by four fat tyres?

Probably because I’m totally useless at it.

But I won’t be defeated, and wrestle with the beast as I careen down the sandy path between Walker Bay and Mosaic Farm.

Quad bike trails are one of the attractions for guests at this 19th century manor house, which makes a perfect base if you’ve been lured by the area’s main attraction of whale watching. Hermanus is only half an hour away – by car, not by quad bike – but in whale-watching season it’s crammed to the gills and your holiday mood can take a dive when every shop and restaurant is heaving. Instead you can gawp at the blubbery beasts then take the road less travelled to Hermanus Lagoon in time for sundowners against a beautiful backdrop of the Overberg mountains.

If you hear the twang of American accents don’t assume they’re tourists, because Mosaic Farm is owned by an American couple, Breese and Kathryn Johnson. Kathryn is an interior designer, which was jolly handy since all the buildings were derelict when they bought the place.

The 1892 Spookhuis manor was carefully restored, and now serves delicious meals created by chef Craig Andersson. You can picnic under sprawling milkwood trees, stage a private party in the wine cellar, or stand at any window facing in any direction and marvel at the magnificent scenery.

The rooms are simply furnished, and with prices from R700 a night for self-catering the Johnsons hope to attract local guests rather than fat-walleted foreigners.

As well as luring whale watchers they’re capitalising on its location in the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. Not everyone is a fynbos fanatic, but if you are this is the place to be. You can gloat over the removal of intruding species and cheer the return of our less hardy home-grown fynbos, which is making a reappearance in the spaces cleared of the overbearing intruders.

The nearest village is Stanford, a quaint looking place where a variety of artistic types now call home. It would be fun to grab a bicycle and set off for a leisurely ride to explore that area. Or for a more energetic bird’s eye view of the region, farm manager Justin Boshoff can send you off on a day-long hike up the Overberg. He’ll probably even go with you, since he’s not averse to an arduous expedition.

Personally I was happier to recline on the terrace, admire the gorgeous scenery and sample a scrumptious Chenin Blanc sourced from the Springfontein estate next door. A well deserved reward after taming my quad bike beast, I do believe.

For further information follow the links alongside.

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