Planning a holiday to South Africa? There is one area that you absolutely should not miss: the Cape Winelands. Just northeast of Cape Town, this easy day-trip destination is filled with amazing food, sites, activities, and, of course, wine!! If you are a traveler who loves any of the above, the Cape Winelands is a must visit destination for you.
What is there to do in the Cape Winelands?
From the vineyards of Stellenbosch to the lions in Drakenstein, there is something to keep everyone from honeymooners to family groups entertained and intrigued, The area’s history reaches back over 350 years to when Dutch traders discovered and cultivated the region’s rich soil and terrain, establishing hectares of vineyards. During this time, the roots of segregation and apartheid were also established, creating a tumultuous 300 years to come for the entire nation. Apartheid has since been abolished in South Africa, though the Cape Winelands’ prisons, vineyards and ancient estates can still be explored today.
Though world-class wines are grown all throughout Cape Town and its surrounding area’s, Cape Winelands’ locations of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are the most renowned. These three destinations produce some of the area’s most extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and other red & white favorites. All three destinations have set “wine trails” for enthusiasts to follow, which are illustrated by the area’s stunning mountainous backdrops and rolling, green valleys. There’s no wondering why this area of South Africa is often cited as one of the world’s best honeymoon destinations
Not entirely interested in wine? That’s OK, because the Cape Winelands still have a vast number of attractions and activities to keep everyone busy. The landscapes alone make this region worth visiting, and amongst the valleys, farms, vineyards and mountain ranges, are a number of exciting adventures to undertake. From horseback riding, mountain biking and four-wheeling through set forest trails to hiking, hot air balloon riding and soaring along Ceres’ longest zip-line route in Africa, there’s a plethora of things to keep you enthralled. Check with your Cape Town tour guide for ultimate adventures and best outdoor destinations around Cape Winelands.
Preserving and Protecting Wildlife in the Cape Winelands
In South Africa you’re probably looking to experience some amazing wildlife. The Cape Winelands don’t stray from this top attraction, with a number of notable destinations for the wildlife-seeking tourist to explore. Drakenstein is home to an amazing “Lion Park”, which not only houses these incredible animals, but also protects them from abuse and persecution. Set up in 1998, this lion refuge recreates a lion’s natural habitat, giving them a life-long home to survive and thrive in. Observe these majestic creatures in Drakenstein all while supporting an amazing cause. Also home to a new “Chimp Haven”, visitors can experience chimpanzees in their natural habitats, which are also being rescued/reared back to health as well! Two other amazing, up-close wildlife locations in the Winelands are the Cheetah Outreach and Eagle Encounters, both located at the Spier Wine Estate.
Touring the Arts
The Cape Winelands are known primarily for their world-class wines; and yet there are a few other attractions that keep visitors pouring in each year. For the artistic traveler, Stellenbosch has an amazing collection of art galleries tucked inside its picturesque oak-lined towns. Comprised mostly of works done by local artists, visitors can get a taste of modern culture strolling through these beautiful galleries. Another attraction that pulls in visitors from all over the world, are the Winelands culinary arts. The town of Franschhoek is proclaimed by many a Cape Town travel guide to be South Africa’s “gourmet capital”, with endless award winning restaurants for the traveling “foodie” to sample.
When is the best time to visit the Cape Winelands?
Quite possibly the biggest attraction for visitors to the Cape Winelands is its versatility. No matter what time of the year you decide to visit, it’s going to be beautiful, exciting, adventurous and extremely memorable!
Image credits and license details: https://flic.kr/p/5gexu9 (stuart001uk, CC BY-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/imNXi (Chris Eason, CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/a23cTD (Ian Barbour, CC BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/8jKmeD(Jimmy Baikovicius, CC BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/kTGEpk (Werner Bayer, CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/xU (slack12CC by NC-ND-2.0) https://flic.kr/p/cm8Tdm (John Hickey-Fry CC by 2.0)