Where to Stay - South Africa
 

On a recent day trip, we took the Tradouw Pass along to Barrydale which is situated about 61km km from Montagu along the famous Cape Route 62. On the one side of the Tradouw Valleys is Barrydale and on the other side is the semi-arid Klein Karoo. This beautiful Pass, built by Sir Thomas Bain is renowned for its wild flowers, waterfalls and magnificent swimming pools. We stopped here to capture some aerial footage with our DJI Pro Drone. You can see the short video we made here which really gives you a bird’s eye view of the Tradouw Pass – Tradouw Pass Video

Getting aerial shots

Getting aerial shots

 

Barrydale is unique and offers a variety of places to eat and things to do and see all year round. We parked and then took a stroll along the main road. The town is totally geared up for people stopping to explore, grab a bite to eat and buy a curio or two. It’s a very popular stop with the tourist buses! We grabbed some lunch at Diesel and Crème and we would definitely recommend having one of their specialty milkshakes or craft beers. And yes the Milkshakes really are this big and this pink! On a hot day it is the perfect way to cool down.

Diesel & Creme inside

Diesel & Creme inside

Each place has its own attraction and unique quality and it’s worthwhile exploring the little shops with their artisan specialties. Take a stroll up and down the main high street and don’t be afraid to pop your head into places like the Hand Weavers to watch the ladies in there hard at work. Fascinating to watch them.

This charming town has sunny days for most of the year and is built at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains. It offers unsurpassed vistas of the mountains and there is a wide range of pathways and foot trails for hikers and walkers alike. Excellent wines, brandy and craft beers are produced in the area.

Just 24km outside Barrydale (en route to Ladismith) is the infamous Ronnies Sex Shop. This is well worth a stop for a cold beer or drink to quench your thirst and take in the surroundings. Ronnie’s Sex Shop has had visitors from all over the world and is a regular pit stop for bikers, local farmers and people travelling this road regularly. It has to be said that when a group of riders ride in or out it makes for quite a sight and as for the sound – well some ear plugs might come in handy for the little ones.

 

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As regular visitors to the Cape Winelands and in particular to Franschhoek – our favourite of all the Winelands towns – we always try to do something a bit different each trip. This trip took place in January 2017 and the weather was incredible for the duration of our week-long stay in Franschhoek. Given the weather conditions we decided that we would try a self-ride bicycle tour of some local wine estates. We headed off to Franschhoek Cycles located at 2 Main Road – this is the main road that runs through the centre of Franschhoek. We rented 2 bikes here for a full day which is up to 7 hours. If you are not familiar with the area or the wine-estates just ask and they will provide maps and guidance on the distances between stops and also the overall terrain in terms of hills, etc.

Franschhoek Wine Tasting by Bicycle

Our Bikes!

As we were quite familiar with the area we had a good idea of where we wanted to go and opted for the following 4 wine farms to visit.

  • Mullineux & Lieu Family Wines
  • Four Paws
  • Leopards Leap
  • La Motte

Part of the enjoyment of cycling is being able to keep to your own pace and be able to stop whenever you want for photos or just for a breather! When I said the weather was incredible I wasn’t wrong as we managed to co-inside our cycle tour with the hottest day of our getaway with temperatures reaching over 93F (34C). Plenty of cold water was kept on board at all times! Our first stop was at Mullineux & Leeu which has beautifully manicured gardens and a path that leads you right up to the Tasting Room.

Franschhoek Wine Estate

Mullineux & Leeu

 

From Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines it was a very pleasant gentle downhill ride to our next stop which was Four Paws. Now Four Paws is what I would call ‘unpretentious’ – it isn’t like many other wine tastings you will go to but the service you get accompanied by some very friendly pets made for an awesome experience. Gerda, the winemaker, is extremely knowledgeable and if you like Rose or White Wine then you should definitely make this a stop. Great value for money as well.

Four Paws Wine Tasting

Four Paws!

From Four Paws, located at La Vigne Estate on Robertsvlei Road we took a fairly flat but longish ride to Leopards Leap Wine Estate. Coming from Four Paws it just illustrates the high diversity in size of operation and how it is great to enjoy and support the smaller wine growers. The Restaurant and Wine Tasting area is quite large and has views across the grounds to the mountains.

Leopard's Leap Wine Estate

Leopard’s Leap

From Leopard’s Leap we wanted to make one final stop before we took our bikes back. Having stopped at La Motte on a previous visit to Franschhoek we couldn’t wait to stop over again. The fact that we also enjoy red wine probably did have a lot to do with our decision to stop here. Plus La Motte is beautiful; the gardens are manicured with lovely water features and the Tasting Room is wonderfully relaxing.

La Motte Wine Estate

La Motte

We can thoroughly recommend a cycling tour of the Wine Estates around Franschhoek and something we will definitely do again. Although we did our own self-cycle tour you can get ‘guided cycle tours’ as well which is probably great fun in a group. Naturally we were quite tired at the end of the day not helped by the fact we had to cycle quickly to get back to the Cycle Shop before it closed at 17h00 but that was just down to slightly misjudging the length of time it would take us to get back from La Motte. So whether you are saying in Franschhoek or Stellenbosch be sure to give this a try!

Check out all our Cape Winelands Accommodation here

Top Tip:

If buying wine – many of the estates will deliver to your accommodation OR like we did, hold the wine for you to collect the next day.

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We’ve often travelled through Swellendam on our way to Cape Town or other areas within the Western Cape however never actually stayed there. (Swellendam is about 220 kms from Cape Town). However on our last trip, we decided to put this right and to spend a couple of nights in which to explore the town and the area and aren’t we glad we did this! So a bit about Swellendam – it’s the third-oldest town in South Africa being declared a magisterial district in 1743.  The town is at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains and is well known for its fascinating past, great outdoor life and its eclectic architecture. Swellendam is just one of a number of great places to explore in the wider Overberg Region of the Western Cape.

Swellendam Town

Swellendam Town

We stayed a few kilometres outside of Swellendam at a pet-friendly, self-catering chalet, at Kwetu Guest Farm.  We bought all our supplies in Swellendam as there’s an excellent choice of shops.  For those opting for B&B / Guest House or other – there are loads of places to stay in Swellendam and of course, a variety of places to eat – definitely something for everyone.

Swellendam Mountains

Views of the mountains

The view was amazing from our chalet and can I can honestly say we really looked forward to our sundowners as we had the most amazing multi-colour sunsets with the backdrop of the mountains. The accommodation is Pet-Friendly but they do have buck roaming on the farm so you may need to keep an eye on your loved one.

Sundowners in Swellendam

Sundowners

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to activities and things to do. About 7km from town is the famous Bontebok National Park – a world heritage site; the Drostdy Museum which has a collection of 18th and 19th century Cape furniture; Dutch Reformed Church with its eclectic architectural features including Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and vernacular Cape elements. Marloth Nature Reserve is on the southern slopes of the Langeberg Mountains and the reserve has an abundance of wild flowers and fynbos.

Swellendam Sunset

Swellendam Sunset

As for activities – you can pick from abseiling, canoeing, hiking, horse riding, kloffing, walking, whale watching trips and mountain biking. The area is well known for great hiking and mountain biking trails such as the Whale Trail and the 4 – 6 day Swellendam Hiking Trail.

For accommodation options in the Overberg Region please click here Overberg Accommodation


Longing for an escape from the rat race? We take a look at some wonderful places to stay in South Africa where you can just kick back and relax.

Forest Creek Lodge & Spa

As locations go this is definitely going to inspire you whether you are staying in the Winter or Summer months. This luxurious lodge with both suites in the mian lodge and lovely self-catering cottages close by is situated in a gorge at one end of the Drakensberg Mountain Range. If you need pampering then treat yourself to an hour or two in their Forest Spa. Read more……

drakensberg accommodation

Forest Creek Lodge & Spa

 

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By Neil Playdon

Before the Swartberg Pass was built one of the only ways for farmers to transport their goods was via Meiringspoort. Unlike the Swartberg Pass the Meiringspoort route is flat and the tarred road winds for 25km with towering sandstone cliffs on either side of you.

Meiringspoort Scenic Route

Entering Meiringspoort

To get there from Prince Albert take the R407 out of town and go past the turn off for Swartberg Pass. Follow this road for about 45 minutes before turning off towards De Rust. The road then enters Meiringspoort immediately identifiable by the cliffs on either side of you. READ MORE