Drink in the mountainous surrounds of the Cape

Caroline Hurry


Combine fine wine with sumptuous guided hikes through nature reserves. Uncork the region with top notes of fynbos-flanked footpaths, stunning coastal or valley views, and subtle hints of wildlife including shy duiker and bontebok sightings. A Camino-type experience involving wine, food, and historical narratives awaits the energetic oenophile in the Western Cape’s Hermanus and Hemel en Aarde regions where you can explore some of the best cellars while fuelling up on fresh air and Pinot Noir. In the Breede River Valley, ‘kloofing’ is a great way to get the pre-prandial adrenaline going. Drink in the mountainous surrounds of Stellenbosch and Franschoek. Expect art and abalone adventures, gourmet cuisine, superb vintages, and even 1600 quirky Indian Runner ducks on patrol.

Make your way around Walker Bay

Take any one of five Glamtrails guided hikes around the Hemel en Aarde region famous for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir-producing farms such as Bouchard Finlayson, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Newton Johnson Family Vineyards, Creation Wines and Ataraxia. Press ahead at an unhurried pace with ample Instagram opportunities as Tim Lundy, accredited mountain guide, author, and co-founder of Glamtrails imparts fascinating tales about the area.

Crisp early mornings are particularly conducive to the unique peppery pear bouquet of protea fynbos on the nose. Inhale deeply as you survey spectacular surrounds, home to orange-breasted sunbirds, rock thrush, and Verreaux's eagles riding thermals above the heath-type vegetation punctuated with bright ericas.

Whether you choose a short stroll through vineyards or a four-hour uphill hike, food and wine pairings are a given. Enjoy a slow lunch at The Restaurant at Newton Johnson. Another fitting trail finale is a tasting at Bouchard Finlayson, the award-winning boutique winery set within 125-hectares of pristine indigenous flora with 22 hectares under vine. Cellar Master, Peter Finlayson pioneered South African Pinot and helped put the Walker Bay wine region on the map.

Indulge in art and abalone

If you’ve ever harboured desires for mother-of-pearl, take the Glamtrails’ abalone hike that starts at the Marine Hotel in Hermanus and follows the meandering coastal path to the old fishing harbour ‒ one of only two in the world that has been conserved intact ‒ then onto the permanent art expedition overlooking Walker Bay. Stop and browse through a dazzling array of artworks, paintings, and sculptures from several galleries. Sometimes there’s a lucky draw for an art piece.

Continue towards the New Harbour and visit the Abagold abalone farm for a tour and tasting. Buy some canned or dried abalone to take back with you. Lunch at Ficks Pool just below Marine Drive, where the sea enters the sheltered cove via a narrow inlet, then amble back to the Marine Hotel for a cocktail in the Sun Lounge overlooking the ocean.

Choose an American Saddler stud in Stellenbosch

Founded by in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, first Governor of the Cape, Stellenbosch still rejoices in 18th Century Cape Dutch architecture with thick whitewashed walls and oak tree-lined avenues. There are so many good hotels, wine farms, bars, clubs and restaurants here, you’ll be spoilt for choice but spend a few hours at Cavalli Estate in the Helderberg region comprising 26 hectares of vineyards, 10 hectares of indigenous fynbos gardens, an art gallery, and an equestrian facility that breeds American Saddler steeds. Natural light floods the award-winning Cavalli Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and views spilling across the dam, vineyards, paddocks, and distant Helderberg Mountains.

Otherwise, opt for a gourmet picnic under oaks on landscaped lawns at Vergenoegd Löw The Wine Estate famous for its 1600 Indian Runner Ducks that consume any errant snails and bugs on their daily patrols through the vineyards. The waddling workforce help maintain the estate’s WWF biodiversity certification.

Go kloofing in the Breede River Valley

Apart from endless vineyards and farms, the jaw-dropping beauty of the Breede River Valley about an hour’s drive northeast of Cape Town lends itself to rock climbing, cliff-jumping, and abseiling, collectively known as ‘kloofing’ (from the South African word ‘kloof’ meaning ravine). Frixion Adventures provides safety equipment and qualified guides for all sorts of mountainous adventures that range from mild to wild, full-day to half-day.

Lunch at BOSJES Kombuis set within the old Bosjesman’s Valley Farm that produces grapes, olives, peaches and proteas. Whether you dine indoors at the Scandi-inspired glass-walled restaurant designed by London-based architect Coetzee Steyn, or alfresco under the oak trees, views of the surrounding Waaihoek Mountains are glorious.

A meditative stroll through the landscaped chapel gardens reveal plants referenced in the Bible that form the base of the diverse vegetation that includes fruit tree sections. Walk up the small hill to see more of the property with its original 1790 Cape Dutch manor house that has been in the Botha/Stofberg family since 1831. If you’ve over-imbibed, sleep it off in Die Skuur Guesthouse that offers five rooms including a honeymoon suite. 

Taste French-inspired wines in Franschhoek

French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in the 17th Century had the Gallic foresight to bring grapes and vines when they arrived as refugees in the area now known as Franschhoek (French corner) where Bastille Day is still celebrated every July.

Learn more about their challenges at the Huguenot Memorial Museum adjacent to the 1940s Monument at the top of Huguenot Road. The Franschhoek Motor Museum on the Rupert family’s L’Ormarins estate is worth a look for the stunning surrounds alone. Petrolheads will enjoy the Bugattis, post-60s Ferraris and veteran Ford Model Ts, all apparently still driveable.

The Klein Drakenstein and Wemmershoek mountains encircle neat, ordered vineyards basking behind ornate gates as thousands of roses scent the air. Among the dozens of secluded terraces on which to taste local wines, Haute Cabriére, which dates back to 1694, offers a new glass-walled outdoor lounge and restaurant to enjoy fine views of the Franschhoek valley while site-specific vintages provide the smoothest finish to your Bacchanalian wine-tasting weekend. 

Become a member to join the conversation!

Become part of the world's leading travel & lifestyle community!