September 14, 2008

South Africa - Arrival and Rosenview Guest House

No landing card is required for immigration, but you must have a printed itinerary or something that proves you intend to return home and when. We were lucky we had not packed our return documents.

Even though we arrived 2 hours earlier than the rest of the group, our guide Elizabeth met us as we exited with our bags. She works for Mask Expeditions ( +27 11 807 3333) who are subcontracted by Exodus. We got ZAR "Rand" at an ATM (1 USD = 8 Rand) before Elizabeth brought us to a pleasant coffee shop to wait. When the other 3 arrived (Emma, Jacqueline, Jon) on South African Airways, we walked out to meet our driver (Goodman). The 15 passenger van (plus guide and driver) becomes an Exodus van by applying magnetic signs on the side of the van. Goodman drove directly to Rosenview Guest House (, a working wine farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

Rosenview is within view of the Hedelberg mountains. The scent of eucalyptus wafted across the courtyard during one of the intermittent moments of sunshine as we walked toward the reception area. Our room was basic and comfortable – 2 single beds with many blankets, mini-bar, kettle, desk, armoire with drawers and rods for hanging clothes, stuffed chair, heating/cooling, and recently renovated bathroom with a great hot shower. There were no TVs or phones in the rooms, but there was a TV in the common area where breakfast is served. Breakfast included a full English cooked breakfast (eggs, mushrooms, tomato, ham, toast), yogurt, fruit, muesli, oatmeal, juices, and hot beverages.

In our room, there was a large sign stating that we were NOT to wash and hang our clothes in the room, which is exactly what I was planning to do. On the 2nd morning, we brought our laundry to reception at breakfast. It was returned later that evening to our satisfaction for ~$5.

We were encouraged to wander around the grounds but not to be alarmed if we set off any sirens - there are perimeter alarms. We enjoyed the vines, views of the beautiful homes in the vicinity and a fish eagle.

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