Ceres, in the Western Cape, is named for the Roman goddess of the harvest and plenty. Living up to this name, the town has a reputation as one of the best fruit growing areas in South Africa, and accounts for a large amount of the production of deciduous and other fruit in the Cape.
The fruit industry here so permeates the every day life of the town that the fruit growers have developed a tour through their factories to allow a peek into what makes the fruit from this area better than most, as well as tours of the farms, where the precious harvest is grown and dried for local use and export.
For an even more interactive (not to mention delicious) experience, the Klondyke Cherry Farm just outside town offers visitors the chance to pick and sample this sweet, tart fruit. For something guaranteed to appeal to kids of all ages, an incongruous partnership, yet worth a visit none the less is the toy car collection at Valley Funerals, which currently bears the honour of being the largest privately owned collection of this type in South Africa.
Within easy reach of the town are several equestrian centres, which offer trails and other horse riding experiences to everyone from children, to complete novices, and the more accomplished rider. For the very adventurous, the town is also home to the Western Province Sport parachute club, offering sky diving training and regular jumps.
Another attraction synonymous with Ceres must be the winter snowfalls. This area is one of the few in the largely Mediterranean Cape where snow falls in the winter, and local tourists flock to the area in season to interact with the magical winter wonderland this creates.
If you are interested in history, then visit the Toll House monument at Mitchell’s Pass, or the transport riders’ museum which chronicles the town’s time as the main transport route for diamonds to the Cape, and boasts an impressive collection of vehicles from the period.
A bit further afield, but also of interest to culture and history buffs are several locations where well preserved rock paintings from the areas more primitive inhabitants are on display. Other options include the Matroosburg 4 x 4 truck drives, where visitors are treated to a unique trip up the Matroosburg in a 5 ton, all terrain truck or try a trip to Koelfontein Estate, Ceres’s only, but award- winning, wine estate, or the Kaap Agri Co-Op to sample local wines.
Golf lovers need not fret, as the Ceres Golf Club offers 4891m of well maintained course, with a comfortable club house. Bird watching, biking, fishing, hiking and nature reserves are all on offer in the surrounding countryside and mountains, and the friendly local tourism office will be more than happy to advise on these options, as well as provide details of Ceres accommodation to suit almost every budget and taste.
For a small town, almost hidden in the Cape Fold mountains, Ceres certainly packs a large variety of attractions, and will almost certainly have something that will appeal to anyone.
Klondyke Cherry Farm: 023 312-1521
Toy car collection: 082 575-3181
Western Cape Parachute Club: 021 462-5666