5 GREAT day trips around Cape Town
Pick your own grapes at De Doorns House Estate
If you haven’t already experienced what it is to pick your own food, then head off to De Doorns Homestead in the Hex River Valley. Not only is this one of the most gorgeous valleys known to man, it is also very accessible and an easy day trip from Cape Town.
De Doorns lies between Worcester and Touws River on the N1, about one and a half hours’ drive, nestled in amongst the Hex and Quado Mountains – snowcapped during winter, and incredibly lush and fertile during summer.
Harvest season is typically between January and May, and you can pick your own grapes from the vineyards of this typical Cape Dutch homestead that is not only a working table grape farm but a national monument too – certainly the centre gable has been around since 1769 …
The farm offers beautiful views of the surrounding area and a chance to walk in amongst vineyards – an experience that could easily serve as the only real way to experience the Cape.
The farm doesn’t have its own restaurant, but join the R46 and then the R303 from here for a scenic drive through Ceres, and on to Wellington and Paarl, before heading home. There should be any number of opportunities for sampling traditional Cape fare. Or head back into Worcester and do the Worcester Wine Route, which includes the labels Aan-de-Doorns, Hex River Valley, Nuy and Scherpenheuwel.
Besides, with your boot full of table grapes, there may be little need to ruin your palate with food! Contact De Doorns House Estate: +27 (0)23 356-2221
Wining & dining in Durbanville
It’s hard to believe that just 20 minutes’ drive from Cape Town brings you to a valley literally on the edge of the northern suburbs, where gorgeous views and excellent wine farms tumble over one another to vie for attention. And yet these are so often overlooked for the wine routes of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and beyond.
Wine labels include Meerendal, De Grendel, Bloemendal, Altydgedacht, Diemersdal, D’Aria, Hillcrest and Nitida, many of which have restaurants worth sampling. We’ve visited Nitida wines for their farmers’ market, which takes place on the last Saturday of every month, has been running since June 2007.
It is well worth attending, not just because the views and the setting out here are simply beautiful, but because of the sense of community the farmers’ market exudes as you support local growers and producers, and tuck into scrummy food.
It’s called the ‘Degustazione’ Farmers’ Market, and the next one is Friday, 26 February from 5pm to 9.30pm, and Saturday, 27 February 7.30am to 12 noon.
D’aria and Hillcrest wine estates both have restaurants, as does almost 300 year-old Bloemendal. Altydgedacht holds picnics on selected Sundays from lunch time.
Whilst parents get to sit in the shade on beautiful lawns, there are fun things for kids to do like tractor rides and making their own cupcakes.
Look out for harvest festivals at this time of year as many wine farms make use of them to draw visitors and they’re a great time to visit.
Cut your own roses and have tea at Chart Farm
Often overlooked and hidden in amongst the Constantia wine farms, Chart Farm in Wynberg overlooks the Constantia Valley with to-die-for views, really reasonably priced pots of tea, delicious cake, and a selection of roses that immediately transports you into another world.
A couple of hours spent strolling and picking here, and you’ll wonder at the end of it where your long, sweeping skirts and bonnet are.
Picking roses at Chart farm is inexpensive, and your bunch of roses holds an extra appeal simply because you picked it yourself, and you get to feel particlarly self-righteous when you consider that the distance roses have to travel from garden to table is just about nothing.
It might be my imagination, but they seem to smell that much more potent when they’ve not spent time in a fridge whilst en route to a supermarket!
The coffee shop is fairly popular over a weekend, so get here early or outside of the lunch and tea rush. The views are worth it!
Don’t forget: take your own secateurs, gloves (those thorns!), and bucket with water for hot days, as the roses can wilt en route home.
Take the R44, scenic drive to Betty’s Bay
Route 44 begins only 100 kilometres from Cape Town and lies between Gordon’s bay and Betty’s Bay, one of the most scenic and peaceful drives (when it isn’t a hectic weekend) in the Cape, and a beautiful alternative to the N2, if you have time on your side.
Its other name is Clarence Drive. Actually it is more correct to call it the Faure Marine Drive, as it only becomes Clarence Drive at Rooiels, where it heads inland slightly and cuts around the back of Pringle Bay to Betty’s Bay.
Betty’s Bay is a gorgeous, no longer quite so small, town (as many Capetonians now use this as their weekend haunt, or have houses here and commute) in the heart of a protected Biosphere just beyond Cape Hangklip.
The beach is often as not windswept, but incredibly wild and beautiful, and a day spent here, followed by a trip to visit the penguins at Stony Point, or a trip to the Harold Porter Botanical garden, is a lovely outing.
It fortunately is not yet on the beaten track for most visitors and has managed to retain its rustic, seaside tranquillity, and its prized black oyster catchers.
World of Birds – Hout Bay
Nestled in amongst the trees in Hout Bay, the World of Birds is a bird and wildlife sanctuary where you can get close-up and personal with typically South African birds and beasts, like guineafowl, cranes, meerkats and penguins.
It’s the largest bird park in Africa yet manages to retain the feel of a large tropical garden, against the backdrop of awesome mountains.
Great horned owls, peafowls, mute swans, jungle fowl, hornbills, parakeets, thrushes, turkeys, vultures and flamingos are just a few of the over 3 000 birds, whilst small animals include squirrel monkeys, porcupines, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, racoons and squirrels.
Particularly for visitors and children, the World of Birds is a fairly betwitching chance to experience an amazing array of beasts and birds.
You can also bring your own picnic to enjoy on the Flamingo Terrace.