The Cape Winelands are east of Cape Town, with the most popular wine routes encompassing the vineyard towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Constantia, and Wellington. The lush region is one of mountain ranges, historical towns, and green valleys, with stunning views in every direction. While the many wine farms offer an extensive range of the best wines and wine-tasting tours, the Cape Winelands has an array of activities for non-wine drinkers too.
Cape Winelands Culinary Experience
Considered to be a centre of culinary distinction, the Cape Winelands is referred to as the ‘gourmet capital’ of South Africa. Top notch restaurants with cuisine prepared by some of the most established chefs, and made with the freshest ingredients hand grown or from local markets. While you may want to give the wine tasting a skip, sample the wine farms’ cheese and olive selections, and visit the fresh food and organic markets for the highest quality local fruits, vegetables and jams. Go strawberry picking and bread making, or have a picnic in between the vineyards.
Flora and Fauna of the Cape Winelands
The Cape Winelands features high peaks, vast valleys, rivers, springs, caves and canyons, and there is an endless choice of walking, hiking, and cycling trails that take you up into the mountains or through the forests. There are many nature reserves within and near the Cape Winelands, including the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, which is a registered UNESCO site. Explore the wildflower garden in the Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve along the Eerste River near Stellenbosch, which has 135 bird species, and count the exotic butterflies in South Africa’s largest butterfly park. Butterfly World is near the village Klapmuts, between Paarl, Stellenbosch and Wellington, and as well as the butterfly greenhouse, there is an aviary and a duck pond. The Drakenstein Lion Park near Paarl provides sanctuary for lions that were raised in captivity and unable to be rehabilitated into the wild. The park offers a lifetime home for lions, who have over 50 acres of land to roam freely. No petting of lions is allowed, as this is a genuine lion sanctuary (places that allow petting of lions work for the lion breeding and captivity trade, and often make false claims of lion rescue). The park has opened a Chimp Haven, and your visit will include observations of both lions and chimps.
The beautiful region is also a cultural and historical attraction, with several museums, including the Huguenot Museum and the Franschhoek Motor Museum. As a result of the French and Dutch occupation, much of the architecture in the area differs from elsewhere in Cape Town, and here you will see some brilliant examples of Dutch design of the 17th century. In the summer there are fun, family-friendly Harvest festivals, with workshops, live music and food markets, and several world-class golf courses that attract international visitors.
The Cape Winelands is certainly a favourite amongst wine-lovers, but it is a must-see for non-wine drinkers too. While the activities are endless, the beauty alone is enough to make this one of the essential things to do when visiting Cape Town.