When you hear about the beauty of Cape Town you zero in on spending all your time in the city and miss out on everything else the Western Cape has to offer. Western Cape is one of nine states(provinces) in South Africa. I spent time in the Western Cape exploring Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Hermanus, De Kelders and Gransbraai. Here are my 14 reasons when planning a trip to Cape Town you should add a few more days to your trip and explore the Western Cape.
Stellenbosch is famous for the wine it produces but don’t sleep on the mountain bike trails available to the public. You can bike the extreme trails that are used for the Mercedes-Benz UCI Cross-Country World Cup and ride like the pros or tackle moderate trails around town. If you’re coming from out of town you can rent a bike at BMT Bike Marathon Triathlon.
You can’t visit Stellenbosch without indulging in wine. The climate of the region, it’s soil and the mountains have given South Africans the perfect formula to produce delicious wines. There are so many vineyard to choose from it can become overwhelming quickly on where to start. My suggestion is Neil Ellis Wines, it’s vineyard is beautifully located in the backdrop of two pristine mountain ranges. During my wine tasting lunch I was presented with their Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Amica and Whiteball Chardonnay Elgin. The surprising twist was the wine paired with four different types of pesto.
When visiting Stellenbosch you should spend a few days there and the Stellenbosch Hotel is a great option. The location makes this hotel an ideal place to stay. The hotel has an old school charm and it’s set in the middle of town and walked distance to restaurants, clothing boutiques, spa and tourist sites. The Stellenbosch Kitchen is located on the property and has a delicious dinner menu. Karoo lamb is a big deal in South Africa and they serve a great dish here. Their sister hotel, Coopmanhuijs Hotel’s located one block away offers breakfast at Helena’s restaurant. I had a pleasure to meet the breakfast chef and she was delightful.
Stellenbosch has so much to offer and and the Stellenbosch tourism office can you provide more information when planning your visit.
Rupert Wines Tasting
Franschhoek is another wine region in the Western Cape and home to Anthonij Rupert Wyne founded on the farm L’Ormarins. The estate gives you a feeling of prestige from the moment you enter through the gates and as you continue to drive down the canopy tree branch covered road, which leads you to the main house. When I arrived we started tasting off with what I call champagne but since the grapes aren’t from the Champagne region of France technically it isn’t champagne. What they produce is called MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) which is made the same traditional way as champagne. The MCC tasting started with my favorite a rosé, L’Ormarins Brut Rosé NV, then their Brut Classique NV, Brut Rosé 2015 and the Blanc de Blancs 2012, which turned out to my favorite of the four. After the MCC tasting I headed over to their restaurant Terra del Capo with an Italian inspired menu. The dining room is made of a glass wall that gives you a panoramic view of their cellar. During lunch, I had a red wine tasting and was served their Syrah 2013, Southern Slopes 2013 and Shiraz 2017. After lunch, I returned to the main house for their white wine tasting of their Cape of Good Hope label. I served three different chenin blancs of the Van Lill & Visser Chenin blanc 2017.
Franschhoek Motor Museum
The Franschhoek Motor Museum is located on the Anthonij Rupert Wyne estate and from the main house you take a shuttle through the estate to the museum. Once you arrive you can enjoy a front row to automotive history. I learned so much about cars and nuggets auto facts were revealed to me that I was always curious about but never inquired about. For example, if you see a Rolls-Royce emblem and it’s red Charles Rolls and Henry Royce worked on the building that car together. If it’s black then both men didn’t work on the car together. A variety of classic cars are on display and my guide was knowledgeable about every single car.
Lumley’s Place is a great option to stay when visiting Franschhoek. The guest house located 20-minutes outside of Franschhoek in the town of Pneil and owned by husband and wife, Peter and Benita Cyster. Benita is a great host and born and bred in the area and it’s always good to invest with people who are connected to an area. They always know the fine details that help make your stay more enjoyable.
Scuba diving in Hermanus was challenging to say the least. The water is freezing and you to wear a hood and boots but it was worth suffering through the cold water. I saw seals and crayfish while diving. If you love to scuba dive then I suggest diving with Neptune Divers. Their equipment is new and my dive master Marx was patient with me and gave me some great coaching to get me comfortable and relaxed.
Quad biking in Hermanus is a fun time and SA Forest Adventures took me to an incredible lookout point. The lookout point provided an unobstructed view of the Hermanus’ coastline as far as my eyes could see.
Burgundy Restaurant is a great place oceanfront restaurant for dinner. During dinner I indulged in the 150 gram (5.2 oz) spicy Portuguese style beef fillet topped with fried egg and chips. Add a bottle of Hermanuspietersfontein Poesmeester 2016 and you set for the evening!
Misty Waves is an oceanfront boutique hotel with a classical decor throughout the hotel. My king bed room came with a spacious bathroom and balcony with oceanfront views. The balcony is perfect to sit outside and whale watch. The location is walking distance to Burgundy Restaurant and other oceanfront attractions.
Checkout the Hermanus Tourism Office for information when planning your visit.
Cliff Lodge Oceanfront Retreat
The Cliff Lodge was absolutely stunning from the time I entered the front door all the way into my ocean suite. The property sits on the edge of the ocean and you literally can’t get any close than this. The jagged cliffs of the coast line and unobstructed panoramic view is breathtaking. The view alone is worth booking and the property addresses every detail a travel needs to feel like there staying in their home away from home. When I plan to write a book I would come back to the Cliff Lodge and write my life away. The staff is incredible and they prepared a delicious breakfast which I ate on the enclosed patio during sunrise.
Fat Tire Biking
Fatbike Tours will take you on an incredible fat tire bike tour through the sand dunes in De Kelder. The tour was thrilling as you start off riding on a single track trail through foliage than you’re off exploring the sand dunes riding up and down a variety of steep hills. Finally you reach the oceanfront rocky edge where you’re picked up and taken back to your drop off location.
Marine Big Five
Dyer Island Cruises offers cruises to spot the Marine Big 5: whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins. During my cruise we only spotted dolphins, penguins and seals. It wasn’t whale season and orcas were spotted in the area and they hunt great whites. It was a slim chance we would see great whites but the trip was a great experience. I originally wanted to cage shark dive but because of the orcas I opted for the Marine Big 5. I learned a lot about the declining penguin population that is in danger because of overfishing and other human related disruptions to the environment.
African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary
Penguins are beautiful animals but the African penguins are suffering at a staggering rate. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust was setup to bring awareness to this epidemic and raise money to help re-establish the penguin population. They also provide medical attention to injured birds and a variety of other services.
I hope this blog has been helpful to introduce you to what the Western Cape can offer in addition to Cape Town. I was truly blown away with every experience I participated in and the incredible people I met along the way. Please share your travel experience with me to the Western Cape and I will try to check them out when I return.
Thank you to the WESGRO Tourism Board for hosting me on my trip to the island and Air Seychelles who provided excellent service.
All view and opinions are my own.
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