The Winelands

The Winelands, with its green valleys, majestic mountain ranges, historic wine estates and Cape Dutch homesteads, offers an ideal day or multi-day heritage excursion from Cape Town. Drive out on the N2 and take the R44 into Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa and famous for its wines, historical buildings, oak-lined streets and university. The town contains many fine examples of historic Cape Dutch architecture, all of which have been carefully restored. The Stellenbosch Wine Route is arguably the most famous in South Africa, and includes over 300 members, of which more than 100 farms are open to the public.

Just over the Helshoogte Pass on the R310 from Stellenbosch, continue into the town of Franschhoek, which has a rich cultural and historical heritage, dating back to 1688 when 200 French Huguenots were granted land in the area. Known as the food and wine capital of the country, the town continues to attract some of South Africa’s best chefs and its restaurants regularly feature in the country’s “Top 100”. The Huguenot Museum is situated here and the Huguenot Monument is situated next to the museum, and symbolises the Huguenot origin. Also in Franschhoek, the Solms Delta Museum van de Caab is situated in the original cellar of a 315-year-old wine estate.

Follow the R45 into Paarl in Drakenstein country, situated on the banks of the Berg River and overlooked by the huge granite dome of Paarl Rock. Explore the Main Street, lined with shady oak trees and historical buildings dating back to the 18th century. The Afrikaans Language Monument recognises the role played by pioneers living in the Drakenstein district, in the formal development of the language. Visit Madiba House, the place where the foundation for a free South Africa was laid. The historic town of Wellington nestles at the foot of the Groenberg, in a picturesque valley including the well-known Bainskloof Pass.

The West Coast has many attractive fishing villages, and during August and September a dramatic display of spring flowers can be seen. !Khwa ttu, the San Culture and Education Centre, 70km north-west of Cape Town, offers a unique introduction to the world of the San people.

The Cedarberg Wilderness Area contains numerous Rock Art sites. About 80 sites at more than 15 places in the Western Cape are open to the public along guided trails. The hidden gems of the Cape country are the Harold Porter and Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens. Harold Porter nestles between mountain and sea while the Karoo garden is the only truly succulent garden in the southern hemisphere and in Africa.