The locals’ guide to exploring the Boland and beyond

Beyond the Stellenbosch Winelands lies Paarl, the Breede River Valley, the Swartland and eventually the Cederberg, which all beckon with scenic splendour and a slower pace. The distances are greater, so it takes more time to explore these places, but it’s worth it.

Cederberg Wines protects 5200 hectares of pristine nature and works hard at preserving it. Burgherspost and Cloof in Darling share a nature reserve, and Cloof hosts the only eco-friendly music fest in Africa (Rocking the Daisies in October), while Vondeling has a long-running project listing and protecting the rare fynbos species on its land.

Here are recommendations for exploring the Boland and beyond.

Vondeling

The locals

Jane Ferriera-Eedes of Vondeling, Johan Delport of Waverley Hills, David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg Wines and Lester Pywell of Cloof.

 

1. Find the best views

Cederberg Wines

Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve offers splendid views of the countryside and is easily accessible. ‘A great spot for picnics – and for walks and rock climbing,’ says Jane. Johan recommends a drive up the Gydo Pass, from Ceres to Op-die-Berg, for the best views of the Ceres valley. Cederberg Wines (tel 0274822827) is nestled within the mountains, 1000 metres and more above sea level, isolated from other farms and entirely surrounded by the Cederberg Conservancy.

 

2. Hike and bike

There are plenty of MTB trails around Paarl, Wellington and Riebeek-Kasteel, says Jane. For extreme bikers, there is an ‘epic trail’ in Wellington at Welvanpas (0218641239). The Cederberg Wilderness Area is well known for its network of day and overnight hiking trails, as well as MTB routes that ‘start from the most basic to the point of utter craziness’, says David. ‘You have to do your homework before arrival. Most of the hikes and trails start on private land so you’ll need a permit.’ ‘There is a lovely hiking trail for the whole family at Waverley Hills,’ says Johan. ‘You don’t have to be a mountaineer to do it! It’s a 45-minute walk up the valley through fynbos and wildlife.’ Tel 0212310002

3. See wildlife

Sister estates Burgherspost and Cloof in Darling share a private nature reserve with ‘a breath-taking hiking trail where you can see some of the region’s most beautiful wildlife,’ says Lester, adding that they’re also planning a new MTB track for next year. Tel 0224922830

The 4000-hectare Elandskloof Nature Reserve near Riebeek- Kasteel is the home of quaggas, Cape buffalo and geometric tortoises, and Bartholomeus Klip, which Jane recommends for its luxury accommodation, fine dining and interesting game drives (for day visitors, it costs R300 per person for a game drive, R520 per person with brunch, R610 per person with lunch). Tel 0224481087

4. Have a picnic

In front of the tasting room at Cloof, on the lush lawns. ‘The view will take your breath away and the peaceful tranquillity will lengthen your visit,’ says Lester. In the Ceres Valley, Johan suggests Waterval near Tulbagh. Tel 0727436700

5. Crafty finds

The Houtkewer in Wolseley, three kilometres from us, has excellent hand-made wood furniture,’ says David. ‘It’s also a very good option for coffee and a light meal.’ Tel 0836599299

The Creative Hub, for handmade items, is just outside Wolseley. Tel 0825787881

Jane recommends the Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop and Weaving Studio near Paarl, which is ‘especially fun for kids’. Tel 0847933666

Lester loves The Toffee Gallery, a museum run by Hentie van der Merwe at Darling Sweet (tel 0762811561), and the community arts and craft shop at Evita se Perron (tel 0224922851).

6. Eat here

Pizza night at Waverley Hills.

Bosman’s (tel 0218635100) at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl is memorable, says Jane. ‘The views lend themselves to a perfect sundowner, and you can enjoy brilliant fine-dining cuisine, excellent service and a wonderful wine list.’

For a more casual, family-friendly meal, she suggests Under Oaks (tel 0218698045), just off the Noord Agter-Paarl Road, for ‘excellent pizza and fine views’.

Wednesday is pizza night at the Waverley Hills Restaurant. ‘All the food is good, though – fresh and in-season produce, and where possible organic,’ says Johan.

The Tulbagh Hotel (tel 0232300071) is great value for money. ‘You get decent portions of well prepared and well-presented food,’ says Johan. He recommends the lamb curry, linefish and steak. At The Cloof Kitchen (tel 0224922839) ‘Chef Nokkie is constantly pushing boundaries with a hearty menu at fantastic prices,’ says Lester. Go for the Trailblazer beef burger.

David says three places offer food and picnic spots en route to Cederberg Wines: Oasis Backpackers (tel 0274822819), Krom Rivier Farm (tel 0274822807) and Mount Ceder Resort (tel 0233170848). ‘They’re deep in the mountains and will welcome you, but it’s best to let them know you’re coming.’

 

Psst … keep an eye on …

  • According to David, Waverley Hills is busy planting new and lesser-known grapes, ‘which is really exciting. Some of the cultivars have never been planted before in South Africa.’
  • At Vondeling’s neighbouring farm, Ayama, you can taste the very first South African Vermentino, an Italian grape. Tel 0218698313.
  • Cederberg Wines is expanding its offering. The Cederberg Brewery will make three beers – a lager, a blonde ale and IPA.

 

 

This story first appeared in the Green Wine Guide from the November 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

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