The big SA beer tour


South Africa has a reputation for wine, so oenophiles as well as those of us with less-developed noses are drawn to the country for full-blown wine tours or for visits that include wine tasting within a varied itinerary.

But the country is no less equipped to support tours focused on beer. Enter the 13-day Hops & Hippos safari, created by Denver-based Africa Adventure Consultants.

This upscale programme includes plenty of beer tasting, insights into brewing, an optional home-brewing workshop at Beer Lab in Cape Town and a wildlife safari at Thanda Private Game Reserve. Hops & Hippos can be customised based on client request.

As presented, it included a visit in Cape Town to the home of a woman who brews traditional African beer using methods not much changed from the earliest known forms of brewing. 

The trip included behind-the-scenes tours of commercial breweries, including South Africa's oldest, the Newlands Brewery at Cape Town, which opened in 1820.  Other breweries on the itinerary are Birkenhead and Napier breweries en route from Cape Town to Hermanus, Firkin Brewery in Durban and the Zululand Brewery at Eshowe in Zululand, for an introduction to Zulu beers.

The itinerary includes SAB World of Beer in Johannesburg, notable for a museum that provides insights into the history of brewing in general and South African brewing in particular. Travelers can add a tour, available on weekdays, to the Southern Associated Maltsters, the South African beer industry's largest malt producer, in Caledon.

The home-brewing class at Beer Lab in Cape Town is priced separately and is available on Saturdays only. With a nod to the grape, the plan makes time for a tasting at a winery in the Hemel-en-Aarde wine-producing valley between Cape Town and Hermanus.

As for the “hippo” portion of Hops and Hippos, guests have three days of bush walks and game drives during which they will see hippos and more. Housing will be in the luxury Thanda Tented Camp. In an atypical twist on wildlife viewing, seasonally, guests also can see the largest mammal of all: the whales that come to South Africa's Cape Whale Coast, at Hermanus.

The itinerary is priced at US$4 871 per person, double, through December 31, land only. All air, including intra-South Africa flights, is extra. In 2014, rates are US$5 358 January 1 through March 31 and October 1 through December 31, and US$4 957 April 1 through September 30.

A safari firm specialising in custom itineraries to 13 African countries, Africa Adventure Consultants pays 10 percent commission.  – Travel Weekly

November 2013
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