On our last trip to SA, after exploring Route 62, we headed to Somerset West and the Winelands. We were lucky that my friends mom lived there and let us use her home as a base to stay and explore the area. And what a beautiful area it is. Vineyards surrounded by mountains, beautiful beaches, penguins, whale spotting, Cape-Dutch architecture, good food and really good wine... what more could you ask for?
We started off with a beautiful coastal drive to Hermanus. On the way is Betty's Bay where you can see the Jackass/ African Penguins and the odd Dassie. It was not the right time of year so we didn't get to see any whales (you need to go from around June to November), but the drive was still worth it.
We stopped at Mooiberge strawberry farm for an amazing breakfast surrounded by strawberry fields and mountains. I had a muffin topped with bacon, strawberry jam, creme fraiche and toasted hazelnuts with a strawberry smoothie - obviously! This is really fun place, with cool scarecrows all over the place. You can pick your own strawberries, and they have a well stocked farm stall!
Stellenbosch is worth a stop if you don't use it as a base. It is a university town so has plenty of good places to eat and drink. The streets are lined with oak trees, cafes, art galleries and boutiques and there is plenty Cape Dutch architecture to be admired! It is also worth visiting Oom Samie se Winkel (Uncle Samie's Shop). It is an institution in Stellensbosch which started as one of the first trading stores in 1907. It is a popular tourist stop now, and stocks everything from dried fish and biltong to tobacco, fruit, sweets, clothes and books.
We spent about two days visiting loads of vineyards. A few that we visited were:
- Spier - They do a good buffet lunch and have cheetah and owl sanctuaries too.
- Vergelegen - Founded in 1700, it is one of the oldest vineyards in the country. They have really beautiful gardens and enormous camphor trees that have been declared a national monument.
- Simonsig - They have a really good champagne that we still drink now!
There were a few more, but these were the highlights. For all of them we just turned up and asked if we could do a wine tasting. A tasting cost £3 at the most and you usually taste around four different wines. A lot of them do breakfast, lunch, food and wine pairings and generally have beautiful grounds... so are worth a visit even if you are not that into wine.
And we couldn't leave without seeing Somerset West's beautiful beaches.