Where do you find yourself in just an hour and fifteen minute drive outside of Cape Town? Well on Saturday morning I found myself at a friends holiday home in Bainskloof, and no I wasn’t teleported there it was an easy drive. Three good friends and I decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and head to a family holiday home that has enjoyed many happy moments over the years.
We had decided to indulge ourselves in a complete girly weekend and what better way to spend it than right on the river, in a magnificent setting with our favourite magazines, chilled white wine and mountains of good food …
Bainskloof Escape: You might be saying to yourself, where is Bainskloof, and believe me I was asking myself this the entire drive. If you have an idea of where Wellington is in the Western Cape you are not far off from Bainskloof as it is just to the west on Route 303.
The Bainskloof Pass is said to be one of the most beautiful in the country and I certainly couldn’t fault it. Something I was unaware of is that the Bainskloof pass was built in 1853 by a complete novice ( i.e. he had no engineering training at all). The man who name is behind the pass is Andrew Geddes Bain who is a Scotsman.
To get to Bainskloof you need to travel through the Huguenot Tunnel, which extends from the N1 through the Du Toitskloof Mountain and is a safer and faster route than the old Du Toitskloof pass which took you over the mountain. This is a toll tunnel and so you will need to remember to have some cash with you on the journey to and from Cape Town. For a standard car the cost is R23 one way and don’t forget to switch your headlamps on as it can be a bit dark. It also helps to take off your sunglasses…
I had barely gotten comfortable in my seat when my friend told us we only had fifteen minutes left of our journey and before I knew it the house was in sight just a few metres away. The house is situated just opposite the local restaurant and pub – The Calabash and set on the banks of the Witte River.
Once we had opened the doors, plonked our bags down and put the food in the fridge it was straight off to the river for a dip. The river water was cool, very cool in some spots, but absolutely refreshing. It was a blazing hot afternoon and we had a great time splashing around in the water. Some parts of the river are extremely shallow, so be very careful if you are diving into the water. We took a little walk further down the river to a deeper part of the river that was better for swimming and had some great rocks to laze around on.
After a delicious lunch of tuna salad and heated game of Scrabble and the obligatory afternoon nap, we took a walk up the road for a drink at The Calabash (Telephone: +27 (0)23 355-1844).
The pub and restaurant has stunning views, is frequented by an eclectic mix of people and I am told that the food is pretty good too.
If you are up for a challenge you can involve your friends in the local pub game – the game revolves around a stump of wood – each player gets a hammer and 1 nail. The aim is to get your nail in before your opponent does, as the loser buys the next round of drinks. Your strategy is your own and it is up to you whether you want to play it slow and steady (for accuracy), or hard and fast (for speed). Either way it’s a laugh!
We headed back to our house to make dinner and enjoy the evening, it was a calm and clear evening and it was wonderful to sit and relax and enjoy the nature while watching the mountains turn brilliant colours as the sun set.
Bainskloof is definitely a place where you can restore your soul and connect with nature before heading back to city life. I will certainly be making my way back soon to discover more of Bainskloof’s hidden secrets.