3 day trips from Cape Town under R500

We challenged our staff to find the three best one-day road trips out of Cape Town. They each got R500 spending money (way too much, it turns out). Here’s where they went.

Three day trips you can take from Cape Town for under R500 per person.

The N7 day trip along the West Coast

Browsing Magic Minerals in Philadelphia; A scrumptious breakfast at Peppertree Art Stable and Coffee Shop.

Browsing Magic Minerals in Philadelphia; A scrumptious breakfast at Peppertree Art Stable and Coffee Shop. Photos by Teagan Cunniffe.

In just under an hour, we’d arrived in Philadelphia and ordered breakfast at Peppertree Art Stable & Coffee Shop: hearty and delicious mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon on a bed of polenta with a poached egg. Then we took a stroll around town, soaking up the tranquillity and browsing in Magic Minerals (beautiful jewellery and artefacts). Up the road at De Malle Meul, Marisa bought ginger syrup and Teagan and Welcome scooped up second-hand books. We fell in love with this little town and ended up staying much longer than planned.

Beer tasting at Darling Brew. Photograph by Teagan Cunniffe.

Beer tasting at Darling Brew.

We hopped on the R304 to Atlantis and then the R307 to Darling. Along the way, a fantastic view of Table Mountain foregrounded by a landscape of golden-brown wheat compelled us to stop by the side of the road and listen to the sound of the dry wheat moving in the soft breeze. Welcome seriously contemplated jumping over the fence and running in ‘the fields of gold’.

Wheat fields on the R304 on way to Darling Brew.

Wheat fields on the R304 on way to Darling Brew. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

From the outside, Darling Brewery didn’t seem like our best pick ‒ the building is very industrial and the ground around it dusty. However, inside it’s painted black and decorated with wood and fantastic lights, giving it a Gothic vibe. We ordered the cheese and meat platter and tasted a lot of beer, including Bone Crusher and Blood Serpent; Warlord was the most memorable one. On the way out of town, we popped in at Darling Sweet for toffees and spreads. Annette told us about the variety of toffees on offer, and how they’re made (you can see the ladies at work through a glass wall across the room). Then we headed to the Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve in the hopes of seeing spring blooms. Alas, we were too late in the season, so we walked round the reserve for a while, contemplating a Plan B…

West Coast Wild flowers at the Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve on the R315.

West Coast Wild flowers at the Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve on the R315. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

In the West Coast National Park, slowing down is a requirement: here, tortoises have right of way and within a 10-kilometre radius we saw 28 of them. We walked along a boardwalk over the lagoon to a bird hide at the end. Inside, we opened the windows and let ourselves soak up heaven on Earth. The breeze was perfect and we had a wonderful view over the water and surrounding hills. We stared at the ripples on the surface of the water. After a long silence, we looked at each other knowing there was no better way of bringing this road trip to an end.

A walk towards the bird hide near Geelbek visitor centre at the West Coast National Park; Marisa Steyn inside the bird looking at ripples of waves. Photos by Teagan Cunniffe.

A walk towards the bird hide near Geelbek visitor centre at the West Coast National Park; Marisa Steyn inside the bird looking at ripples of waves. Photos by Teagan Cunniffe.

Planned itinerary

• Breakfast in Philadelphia
• See the flowers
• Darling breweray
• Lunch in darling
• State at the sea
• Buy treats at Darling Sweet

Directory

Peppertree Art Stable & Coffee Shop Louw Street, Philadelphia. 0219721916
Magic Minerals Louw Street. 0636835544
De Malle Meul Corner of Meul and Main Roads. Open Thursday to Sunday. 0219721097
Darling Brew 48 Caledon Street. 021-286-1099 Darling Sweet 7 Long Street. Open daily (Sundays until 2pm). 0832354002.
Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve En route to Yzerfontein on the R315. 0224923361
West Coast National Park Open daily. 0227079902 Most places are closed on Mondays, unless specified.

Total spent: R834

• Breakfast at Peppertree R95 each
• Ginger syrup R75, books R24
• Beer tasting R50 and lunch platter R50 each
• Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve: free entry • West Coast National Park: entry R50 per person.

What we wish we’d done differently

• Spend more money on food (and definitely a fresh slice of cake at De Malle Muel before leaving Philadelphia).
• Jump that fence and run in the wheat fields.
• There were stop-and-go roadworks on the road to Darling (R307), which cost us some time.
Next time we’ll check on the road situation with someone in Darling before heading off.
Verdict: Good for foodies and peace-seekers

 

The N2 day trip along the Bot River to Lourensford

Walking towards the Disa Kloof trail that leads to the waterfall on the left.

Walking towards the Disa Kloof trail that leads to the waterfall on the left. Photos by Kati Auld.

For this trip, we used our own version of the Magic 8 ball to help make decisions ‒ a jar with answers on pieces of paper. First up was Pajamas & Jam, in a warehouse just off the highway in Strand industrial area. We were transported back in time, surrounded by antique traveller’s trunks, vintage pots, old books and a hanging bicycle. The waitress recommended a scrumptious surprise breakfast special (an avo, salmon, egg and red onion croissant). The question was asked: ‘Should we linger?’ The magic jar responded: ‘Why not?’, so we browsed in the antiques store and vintage clothing shop next door.

Beer tasting at the Honingklip Brewery and our decision making jar.

Beer tasting at the Honingklip Brewery and our decision making jar. Photo by Kati Auld.

Leaving Strand, we turned onto the R44 to drive along the coast to Kleinmond, and stopped at the Stony Point Penguin Colony along the way ‒ an impulsive decision made by our jar. It’s home to the largest breeding colony of African Penguins, and it appeared we had arrived at nap time. Most of the birds were lying on the ground with no sense of enthusiasm, except for one, a poser penguin who showed off his tuxedo for everyone. A quick drive beyond Betty’s Bay, we parked at the Harold Porter Botanical Garden and set off on the Disa Kloof Trail to the waterfall. It’s tranquil, although Ondela couldn’t forget the sign we’d seen at the entrance notifying us of baboons and venomous snakes (34 out of the 130 species found in the garden). At the waterfall, we were in awe of its copper-coloured water. Back at the exit, we deliberated about having a cup of coffee before moving on. The magic jar’s reply: ‘Don’t know’ and suggested asking Kati. She said keep going.

Penguins at at the Stony Point Penguin Colony;

Penguins at at the Stony Point Penguin Colony; Ondela taking in the view on Clarens drive. Photos by Kati Auld.

A beer tasting at Honingklip Brewery is only fitting after a hike. A quick glance at the menu and there were whispers about whether we should have lunch here instead of The Shuntin’ Shed, as planned. We turned to our trusted jar and it told us to continue, but not before we’d decided on our favourite brews: Leigh loved the Blond and Ondela the Indian Pale Ale. On arrival in Bot River, we found The Shuntin’ Shed closed! (Turns out it’s not open on Mondays and Tuesdays). So we drove on and spotted the sign for Beaumont, the region’s oldest wine cellar dating back to the 1700s. We shared a Country Platter (terrine, Parma ham, cheeses, crusty bread, baby gherkins and wholegrain mustard) before jetting off to our final stop.

A bench by the Bot River at Beaumont Wines; Spotted a few artefacts walking around Beaumont Wines.

A bench by the Bot River at Beaumont Wines; Spotted a few artefacts walking around Beaumont Wines. Photos by Kati Auld.

We made it to Lourensford with 20 minutes to spare before it closed ‒ only to learn that the chocolate and wine pairings are temporarily on hold. Elana saw the gloom on our faces and lined up a row of glasses for an impromptu pairing: MCC with Turkish delight, white wine with dark mint chocolate and a Lourensford liqueur. She wasn’t in a rush to lock up ‒ and said she wouldn’t charge us. Her warmth and hospitality embraced us, without her knowing we were journalists. At the end of an eventful day, Elana was a highlight.

Wine tasting on our final stop at Lourensford before heading home.

Wine tasting on our final stop at Lourensford before heading home. Photo by Kati Auld.

Planned itinerary

• Breakfast in Strand
• Visit the Harold Porter Garden
• Tasting at Honingklip Brewery and Gabrie Lskloof Estate
• Lunch at the Shuntin’ Shed
• A Lourensford wine pairing

Directory

Pajamas & Jam Eatery 32 Van Zyl Street, Gants Plaza, Strand. 0218546408
Stony Point Wallers Road, Betty’s Bay. 0282729829 Harold Porter Garden R44/Clarence Drive. 0282729311
Honingklip Brewery R43/Hermanus road. 0825426484 Beaumont Wines Main road, Bot River. 0282849194
Lourensford Lourensford Road, just past Erinvale Golf Course, Somerset West. 0218472333
Some places closed on Sundays or Mondays. The ones we didn’t get to: gabrielskloof.co.za, shuntinshed.co.za

Total spent: R720

• Breakfast croissants R70 each, flat whites R16
• Stony Point: entry R20 per person
• Harold Porter Botanical Garden: entry R22 per person
• Honingsklip Brewery tasting R30 each
• Beaumont Country Platter to share R230
• Wine & chocolate pairing R65 per person (no charge for us)

What we wish we’d done differently

• Find out if places are open. We didn’t and it resulted in not getting to experience the Shuntin’ Shed at Bot River station.
• As an alternative, we’d do lunch at Honingklip ‒ the chalkboard menu had tempting options.
• Although using the Magic 8 Jar caused a few unplanned detours, which forced us to watch the clock later, we’d keep it. It was great fun to use.
Verdict: Great for coastal scenery, wine and beer lovers

 

The N1 day trip towards Paarl

The view from Paarl Rock.

The view from Paarl Rock. Photo by Michelle Hardie.

The Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl winelands are all off the N1, but we decided to try do the day without wine! We hadn’t even left town when Michelle started to feel car sick, which prompted an early stop sooner than Paarl, at Anura wine estate, which has the newly launched Trading Post deli and eatery and, we discovered, Wagon Trail Brewing Co. We shared a Breakfast Pizza (sausage, mushrooms, tomato, bacon, two poached eggs) in the lovely garden, with its big trees, pond and fountain. Fortified, we felt ready to tackle Paarl Rock. We took Jan Phillips Mountain Drive (off Paarl’s main drag), a gravel path that winds up past picturesque labourers’ cottages with fantastic views of vineyards. It felt like real ‘bushwacking’ … was our little Chevy Spark up for the challenge?

We shot this as we were approaching Paarl Rock.

We shot this as we were approaching Paarl Rock. Photo by Leo Abrahams.

The road up to Paarl Rock becomes a twisty little pass, with the looming boulders thrillingly getting bigger and bigger as we got closer. From the first parking area and braai site (Millwater), we were told it would take ‘about 10 minutes’ to climb the rock ‒ turns out, a sheer near- vertical walk on a rounded dome. About halfway up, lunatics in the noonday sun, we decided to try the other car park. From this ‘official’ Paarl Rock stop, there is a boardwalk to the top ‒ a quick two-minute walk! The views were wonderful, but our tummies were grumbling.

Jan Kan Farm stall; Enjoying Berg River craft beers.

Jan Kan Farm stall; Enjoying Berg River craft beers. Photos by Leo Abrahams.

Back in Paarl, Jan Kan farm stall did not have much picnic food but we bought a chicken pie, two slabs of biltong (sliced on the spot) and Berg River craft beers. Next was Nibbly Bits, a factory shop for savoury and sweet treats. Then Kikka ‒ a characterful florist-bakery-coffee shop that smelled wonderful ‒ where we bought carrot cake, mini quiches and two glasses of ginger beer decanted into an empty water bottle (to take away). Perhaps not a typical spread ‒ we did the best we could ‒ but we were famished and keen to get to our picnic spot.

Pizza breakfast at The Trading Post at Anura.

Pizza breakfast at The Trading Post at Anura. Photo by Leo Abrahams.

First, we had to negotiate another nerve-wrecking road: Bainskloof Pass (and its large troupe of baboons). Leo spent most of it leaning away from his passenger door, averting his eyes ‒ sheer drops are not his thing. The drive was stunning and quite astonishing in places. We reached Tweede Tol after 3pm, walked down to the riverside and finally relaxed ‒ and ate! Shadows were already starting to fall, so we swam while there was still sunshine on the water. It was ice-cold and totally exhilarating (our shrieks could be heard for miles), the highlight of the day. We had to resign ourselves to the fact that we would not make it to the alpacas, nor would we get those churros…

Finishing off the day with a swim at the Tweede Tol, the water was ice-cold and exhilarating.

Finishing off the day with a swim at the Tweede Tol, the water was ice-cold and exhilarating. Photo by Leo Abrahams.

 

Planned itinerary

• Breakfast in Paarl
• Climb Paarl Rock
• Forage for provision in Paarl/Wellington
• Picnic and swim at Tweede tol – on Bainskloof
• Tea and cake, with alpacas
• Buy churros at spice route on our way home

Directory

The Trading Post at Anura Simondium Road, Klapmuts. 0218755360
Paarl Rock Jan Phillips Mountain Drive. 0827445900 Jan Kan farm stall Laborie Street, Paarl. 0871311653 Nibbly
Bits Factory Shop 123 Main Road, Paarl. 0218632207
Kikka 217 Main Road. 0218720685
Tweede Tol Off the R301, in Limietberg Nature Reserve. Day visitors limited to 120 people. 0218711535
*Some places closed on Sundays or Mondays.

The ones we didn’t get to: alpacas.co.za, spiceroute.co.za

Total spent: R904

• Breakfast pizza (to share) R95, coffees and tea R63
• Bag of nectarines at the robot R30
• Paarl Rock Nature Reserve ‒ free on weekdays
(R48 per car plus R16 per person on weekends and holidays)
• Picnic provisions ‒ R566 for three people
• Tweede Tol campsite: R50 per person for day visitors

What we’d do differently:

• Pack most of our picnic at home. Or Paarl Main Road is lined with lovely cafés.
• We’d head to the picnic spot first, in the morning (when it’s hot and sunny), and do Paarl Rock later.
• Or we’d visit the alpacas, which can be seen in the afternoons only, instead of the rock. From here it’s a quick drive to Spice Route (for churros, sundowners, dinner…)
Verdict: Idea; for swimmers and nature lovers.

 
 

This story first appeared in the December 2016 issue of Getaway magazine.

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Our December issue features 5 awesome summer adventures in South Africa. On sale from 21 November 2016.

 

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