Highlights of VBT’s Biking Vacation in South Africa

Cape of Good Hope

When our new Cycling South Africa: Cape Town & the Garden Route tour launches this January, it will be the only VBT vacation to a country on the African continent. The diverse natural beauty, flora, fauna and friendly people make traveling to this unique region so great. Travelers will be delighted to experience the stark contrast of the bustling streets of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and the bare, craggy peaks that tower overheard—and that’s just Cape Town! This amazing new adventure has an itinerary that is so full of spectacular cycling, dramatic coasts, inviting wine country, and rugged mountain scenery that it will be a simply unforgettable travel experience. Take a look at some of the highlights of this new tour that you just can’t experience anywhere else with VBT.

Cape Town
Cape TownFramed by the iconic skyline of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Lion’s Head; Cape Town’s “City Bowl” is a natural amphitheater that descends downward from the foothills through the city’s garden district and onward through the downtown neighborhoods and into the picturesque beaches and bustling waterfront that line Table Bay. As we make Cape Town our home for a few days, we’ll get to experience some great cycling as well as unique off-the-bike activities including a cable-car ride to the summit of Table Mountain, an enlightening home-hosted meal with a local family, a trip to the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and a chance to meet some new friends at an African Penguin Colony.

South African Wine
The historic town of Franschoek is located in the heart of South Africa’s Winelands in the region once known as “thephoto 12 Bolands”, which is derived from the Afrikaans word meaning “the higher land”. Founded in 1688 by French Huguenot refugees, the town’s farms soon became known for producing stellar wines, a reputation that continues to this day. The Winelands’ Mediterranean climate and fertile soil is the perfect area to grow some world-class grapes. We’ll get to cycle through the wine valley and admire both Franschoek’s arresting Cape Dutch-style architecture and lush landscape. Of course no visit to a wine region is complete without some sampling of the goods during a tour and wine-tasting at local vineyards and wine cellars.

Little Karoo
Little Karoo
As we journey eastward from the Western Cape, we’ll find ourselves in “Little Karoo”, a sprawling, semi-arid region known for its wildflower-filled valleys and majestic sandstone mountains—a perfect locale for some epic cycling. Our lodging is located in Oudtshoorn, a charming, Victorian-flavored town nestled in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains. And when we say lodge we mean, working ostrich farm. Yes, you read that correctly. Owner Bartel du Toit is a delightful fellow and is more than happy to show guests around the ranch including the ostrich, cattle and alfalfa operations.

The Garden Route
photo 11
The final destination of our South African trip is a section of coastal landscape along the Indian Ocean known as the Garden Route. There are so many ecological wonders here that make the cycling so spectacular. We’ll encounter everything from densely forested hills to craggy cliffs to secluded coves and lagoons along the water. During an optional hike along the Robberg Peninsula be sure to look out for Cape fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and even humpback or southern right whales (depending on the season) frolicking in the Indian Ocean-fed waters of Plettenberg Bay.

On safari Kruger 3-LThese are just some examples of the highlights you’ll enjoy on our new South African biking vacation. To learn more about this fascinating vacation—including the pre- and post-trip extensions of a safari in Kruger National Park and a visit to Victoria Falls—click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit www.vbt.com . They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Taste the Wine of the Loire Valley

The Loire is the longest river in France, flowing westward from the high massifs of the French Alps to the Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic Ocean. Along it’s 600+ mile journey, the Loire serves as the lifeblood to a stunning region known as the “Garden of France” that is full of verdant vineyards and majestic châteaux that dot its valley. The richness of its soil has facilitated a century-old history of grape growing in the region. In fact, during the High Middle Ages Loire Wines were the most sought after in western Europe, even more so than Bordeaux. Travelers on our Loire Valley biking tour will love spending their days tracing the river’s banks and stopping to marvel at architectural wonders and sip word-class wines. The Loire region produces a variety of grapes that are used in the making of red, white and sparkling wines, and during our tour you’ll get to sample quite a few. Here are some of our favorites.

Chenin Blanc

This white grape’s high acidity allows for its malleability in making _7096579-Leverything from sparkling wines like Chemant to sweet dessert wines. We’ll get to taste some examples of wine made from Chenin Blanc when we visit Vouvray, an AOC—which stands for Appellation D’origine Conrolee, France’s certification for geographical indication of produce—that is known for its a dry style that develops hints of honey as it ages.

Sauvignon Blanc
IMG_0629-LAlthough this green grape can trace its French roots to Bordeaux, there are many AOC’s in the Loire Valley that harvest Sauvignon Blanc. The difference of the soil in Loire—which drains better and is more gravel based—imparts hints of minerals and spiciness; whereas Sauvignon Blanc’s in Bordeaux tend to taste more fruity. Wines made from Sauvignon Blanc are often served with cheese and perhaps more surprisingly, sushi.

Cabernet Franc
While a majority of wines produced in the Loire valley are white, this black IMG_0575-Lgrape is used to make some of the region’s best reds. When vinified alone, one can detect a peppery taste and aromas that recall tobacco and raspberries. However, Cabernet Franc is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cot Noir, especially in the Amboise-Touraine region. VBT travelers will taste wines made from Cabernet Franc during our visits to Blois and the charming village of Azay-le-Redeau, when we sample vintages once produced by local monks.

These are just some examples of the world-class wines you’ll enjoy on our Loire Valley biking vacation. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit www.vbt.com . They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

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