A visit to the Western Cape’s Winelands is something you simply cannot miss on your South African trip.
The wines from this area are exquisite and famous around the world. This is also the culinary capital of South Africa; take the opportunity to taste locally produced cheeses, olives and export quality fruit and organic produce.
The Winelands are situated east of Cape Town and include several regions; the most popular towns being Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Wellington and Paarl. It’s unsurpassed scenery with mountains, vineyards and Cape Dutch architecture (dating back to the 17th century) as a backdrop, is a sought after location for weddings, conferences and special occasions.
There are several options when it comes to moving around and exploring the beautiful Winelands, here are the traditional ones – as well as some new and unusual ones worth trying next time you are in the Cape:
Visiting the Winelands by car gives you the convenient opportunity to explore the region at your own pace and to really see all the attractions you are interested in by doing day trips from your chosen town of accommodation. Most of the towns in the region are about half an hour’s drive from each other so moving between them is easy. Driving in the Winelands is a pleasure thanks to well-kept roads, stunning mountain passes, rolling valleys and well-signposted vineyards.
2. Guided tour
Why not take a guided tour and learn more about the area and the wine-making process? An added bonus is that you can relax and there is no need to worry about tasting wine and driving between the wine farms! You can choose between private chauffeur driven tours to seat in coach ones, half day or full day tours as well as dine and wine tours – the choice is yours according to your budget and taste.
3. Franschhoek tram
Board the open-sided Franschhoek Wine Tram and the open-air tram bus and experience a unique and leisurely way to see the Franschhoek valley, stopping in at some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates. A combination of tram and tram-bus takes you around a loop of stops giving you the chance to hop-off at each stop and experience the activities on offer, be it wine tasting, a cellar tour, lunch or maybe just a stroll through the vineyards and when you are ready, hop-on to continue the tour. The experience takes passengers right into the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, with a narration focusing on the history of Franschhoek and wine cultivation in the valley. (Adult ticket price currently includes complimentary wine tastings at Grande Provence, Rickety Bridge and Dieu Donne).
4. Vine Hopper hop-on-hop-off bus
The Vine Hopper is a hop-on-hop-off bus service that runs through the Stellenbosch wine route. There are two different routes; the Northern Route and the Southern Route. Each of these two routes can take you to six different wine estates, you decide if you want to stop at all or just a few and spend longer at some of the farms. Wine tasting fees are not included in the Vine Hopper ticket price and differ from farm to farm. (As a guideline: if you do all the tours and tastings on all six farms visited on a day, the cost of wine tastings is around R100 for all six estates).
Cycling through the Winelands is a fresh approach to appreciating the area. Hiring a bicycle or mountain bike is an excellent way to explore while doing something a little bit different and keeping active too. You can join a guided tour – different distances are available for different levels of fitness – or explore the area on your own. Kids’ bikes, as well as baby carriers, are available for rent (all rentals include helmets).
6. Harley Davidson / Sidecar adventure
If you like the feeling of the wind on your face and the excitement of riding a motorbike, this is for you! You will be the centre of attention while you are being chauffeur driven on a Harley Davidson between the wine farms of your choice, stopping for wine tastings and lunch. Or cruise through the Winelands in a World War II vintage sidecar – drive yourself or be chauffeur driven. There are specialized Winelands tours or you could create a trip of your own design. Cellar tours and wine tastings can be organised, as well as a lunch-stop at one of the wonderful restaurants in this part of the world.
7. Horse riding
Saddle up; a horseback ride through the vineyards is always amazing – for beginners and experienced riders alike. Ride through beautiful farmland and fynbos, enjoy the magnificent views of Stellenbosch, its mountains, False Bay and even Table Mountain. Picnics can be included, as well as wine tastings of course, and why not watch a spectacular sunrise or sunset on the horseback!
8. Walking / Hiking
Get out and about while exploring the beauty of the Winelands on foot. There are different trails to choose between, including one where you let a donkey carry your bags and everything needed for a memorable wine tasting – while you enjoy the walk and the stunning viewpoint overlooking False Bay. There are also more specialized bird walks and Nordic walking lessons available. Most wine farms will allow you to walk around their vineyards and see the different type of vines; many will supply you with a map as well.
This is an exciting day out! There is something special about paddling down a river, bobbing over rapids, taking in the scenery, bird life and the many farmlands that flank the banks of the river. This is a great way to add some adventure to the Winelands experience.
10. Helicopter ride
What about a helicopter ride from the V&A Waterfront over the majestic mountains for wine tasting or a sumptuous lunch at one of the estates? This is an experience you will remember for years to come.
No matter how you wish to explore the beautiful Winelands in the Cape, SW Africa will be happy to organize it for you – and we will make sure you get the best deal through our preferred suppliers!
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