Dropping into the Drakenstein

Posted by Georgie Barrow on 6 December 2010

The Cape Winelands are so much more than just the wine. The Drakenstein regions of Paarl and Wellington are both hives of exciting and unique experiences that will have you begging for more. Here are the top five things to do in the area.

1. Township Tour
Mbekweni Township sits just in between Paarl and Wellington and is by far the most progressive and vibrant in the Cape Winelands. The first half of the tour focuses on the history of Mbekweni where some of the migrant labourers’ ‘hostels’ still remain. However, one doesn’t need to look far as signs of progression are everywhere. The township boasts an immaculate gym for its residents to exercise, complete with hundreds of the latest treadmills, bikes, rowing machines and weight machines. The gym was donated by an ex-Lions rugby player who grew up in Mbekweni and wanted to encourage a spirit of health and fitness. The tour ends at the township’s best-loved tavern, Chippa’s Place.

2. Cheese and Olive tasting at Foxenburg Estate
Upon arrival at Foxenburg, guests are welcomed by a paddock of the handsome resident goats whose milk is used to make some of the finest cheeses in the Drakenstein. Surrounding the paddocks are groves upon groves of organically grown olive trees which produce award-winning olive oil and olives that are available for guests to taste and buy. In addition to cheese and olive tasting, there is also self-catering accommodation where many a writer or stressed out urbanite has come for a peaceful escape.

3. Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve
This gem of a reserve is nestled in between the town of Paarl and the beautiful Paarl Rock that overlooks it. The vegetation of the reserve is strictly indigenous and boasts a very impressive collection of Proteas. Mountain-bikers and trail runners hit the hills daily and the walking and hiking trails are very popular amongst locals and visitors. The major highlight of the reserve is a climb up the numerous granite rock faces, especially The Pearl and The Diamond which proudly tower above the sleepy town.

4. Visit Chippa’s Place for Pap en Vleis
The sound of kwaito and the smell of braai smoke is enough for even the slickest city slicker to be drawn into Chippa’s Place Tavern. As the sun begins to set people from all areas of Mbekweni Township make their way to the large tented area of the tavern. Girls in their best dresses wear sunglasses long after the sun has set while the men look on admiringly over a game of pool and a beer. To the left of the bar are the raging fires where customers can get their meat from Chippa’s Butchery cooked to perfection. Ice cold beer for almost nothing, juicy chops, wors and pap and the hum of Friday evening unrolling – it’s always going to be a good night at Chippa’s Place.

5. Wine and dine at Rhebokskloof
Rhebokskloof Wines are one of Paarl’s finest and most precious. Visitors to the farm are not in for an ordinary experience – the rolling lawns around the lake provide the most perfect spot for families to throw out the picnic blanket, enjoy a picnic and some wine tasting and simply relax while children roam freely. The a la carte restaurant, The Rhebok, looks over the lake and picnic lawns and is a special treat for the hungry and the thirsty. Picnic baskets also available for R325 for two people and R95 for kids.

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