Riding, wining and dining in Stellenbosch

Posted by David Henning on 20 September 2021

As an old Matie, I thought I’d seen and done it all throughout my trailblazing student years, but I was to find myself short of words cycling through trails I never knew of before.

There is more to do in this town than one thinks, with active lifestyles seamlessly slotted in alongside the town’s reputation as a food and wine capital.

Riding: Adventure Shop’s E-bike tour

Situated on the corner of Stellenbosch’s quaint avenue, ‘Die Laan,’ Adventure Shop – a member of Cape Country Routes – shows you a side of Stellenbosch you’ve never seen before.

One such adventure is their E-bike tour to Boschendal Wine Farm, a leisurely breakfast ride of approximately 20km through vineyards and nature, before arriving at an elegant wine estate.

If 20km does not sound like a leisurely ride to you, on an E-Bike, it’s way easier than it seems. The bicycle’s battery is essentially a turbo-boost, making you feel like a conqueror of hills as you ascend any incline with ease.

The trail starts alongside the Eerste River, which showcases the hidden spots situated in the town itself. Cycling down a natural track between houses, you shortly pass behind the campus, past the JS Marais Nature Reserve, and through Idas Valley before getting your first taste of mountain biking.

Taking an obscure dirt road, the vegetation slowly changes to swathes of the forest as you wind your way over the hills. With the E-Bike, you never over-exert yourself, allowing you to comfortably enjoy manoeuvring the windy path and minding the holes.

After you’ve had your fun on the dirt roads in the forest, you come to arrive at Idas Valley dam, discretely tucked away in the mountain. The large body of water adds another striking portrait to the many panoramic treats the tour offers.

Idas Valley dam is tucked away in the valley.

The toughest part of the journey behind you, you find yourself on the still reasonably tarred old Helshoogte Pass. With giant eucalyptus trees still flagging the road, offering not only shade but an awry aesthetic as you climb the forgotten past.

This would be the end of an ascent you barely noticed. For those who want a bit of a small adrenalin injection, the dirt road after Tokara is a fun opportunity to speed down the hill.

The good rainfall sent streams gushing down the mountain providing the soundtrack as meander through the fynbos before reaching your destination at Boschendal.

Rolling into Boschendal after the E-bike tour.

The half-day guided tour to Boschendal via the scenic valley and Winelands. For those wanting a bit longer, there is also an E-bike tour to Franschhoek on offer. Tours start at 9 am in front of their offices in Stellenbosch and include transport back from the Wine Estate.

Visit Adventure Shop here.

Wining and dining: Boschendal Farm Estate

After the morning’s ride, it’s time for some well-deserved relaxation. The atmosphere at Boschendal is that of a village square with tables nestled under oak trees and surrounded by old Cape-Dutch houses. Their wine range speaks for itself, with a glass of white as soothing as it gets.

The menu also has more than enough to keep you satisfied, with a selection of cheese platters to get the mouth-watering before moving onto the mains. There are the classics of a lamb shank or a steak, but for me was the fish of the day, Cape Bream served sashimi style.

If you are not familiar with the name, the pachymetopon blochii fish first had the unsavoury name of hottentotsvis in days past. With the renaming, the fish has made its way onto Woolworth’s shelves and it’s fair to say the fish has become quite laanie.

Boschendal’s herd of Black Angus cows. Picture: Boschendal.

There is also the option of taking Boschendal home with you. The farm shop and Butchery are stocked with herbs, vegetables and fruits from the garden as well meat from the livestock roaming the property.

The estate has three delectable offerings for food, all incorporating the abundance found on the farm. There is The Werf Restaurant focused on bringing ‘soil-to-fork’, using available local and seasonally sourced ingredients.

For a more laid-back experience, the deli offers hearty farm meals such as a farmer’s breakfast and wood-fired pizzas. There is also the option of ordering a picnic, and sprawling out on Boschendal’s wide lawns on a summer’s day.

Visit Boschendal here.

Cape Country Routes offers travellers easy and interesting driving routes, fascinating attractions, and quality accommodation options throughout the Western and Eastern Cape.

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