Onsite Review

Three Days in Cape Town & the Winelands, South Africa

written by | Posted on July 23rd, 2012

Waterford Estate in the Winelands.

Waterford Estate in the Winelands.

Winery-hopping, shopping, drumming? Just a few of the sports to try during a visit to the Western Cape. Quite a few tour operators and wholesalers, including Goway and African Travel, offer outings in both Cape Town and South Africa’s largest wine region, but those who want to go about it on their own with you as their “guide,” so to speak, will find that it’s an easy endeavor.

day 1: wining & dining
Even the gloomiest of days—and there are few of those here—cannot dim the bucolic enchantment of the Cape Winelands, just a 35-minute drive from Cape Town. It’s not just the grapes that give it its charm; it’s the horses prancing about in hyper-green pastures and wildflowers dancing in the wind, the Cape Dutch homes in perky bridal white with a mountain backdrop. Beautiful towns such as Stellenbosch, meanwhile, hide some of the best culinary experiences in South Africa, as well as excellent shopping in eclectic boutiques.

Then there’s the wealth of wine farms and estates in the region, offering exciting blends that tickle the palate, aromatic brandies and some wonderful edibles. Fairview, in Paarl, is as known for its wine as it is for its award-winning cheeses—and even if clients can’t take them home with them, once they taste the White Rock with Apricots and other choices they’ll want to grab one or two to enjoy that same day.

Waterford Estate, which looks straight out of a Tuscany ad, offers a unique wine-and-chocolate tasting as well as a wine drive safari around its vast and breathtaking property, adorned not just with grapes but also fragrant lavender and citrus groves. Call for rates.

Stays in the Winelands are often as romantic as their surroundings. Franschhoek’s Le Quartier Francais, a Relais & Chateaux property, is a country inn with lots of quiet, flower-filled corners and large, inviting rooms and suites, some with their own tiny gardens and terraces, with great details such as floor heating and wood-burning fireplaces. There’s even a 2-bedroom cottage for those who want to stick close together.

Another great plus to the property: incredible cuisine from breakfast through dinner in the form of “surprise” menus and an award-winning chef. In fact, Le Quartier Francais has a Culinary Concierge program that offers lessons in bread and cheese making, charcuterie courses, wine blending and other culinary adventures. Room rates start at about $450 per night.

day 2: city finds
Have clients start this day with a must: a cableway ride to the top of iconic Table Mountain for amazing views all around them. If they have the time and energy, they can even hike to the top. Later, they might want to get some awesome shopping done: head to Greenmarket Square, an open-air area with vendors selling everything from kitchenware and wooden animals to dazzling prints and artwork. There are also many cafes and restaurants in the area for a quick bite to refuel.

They’ll also want to get an eyeful of Bo-Kaap and its Crayola-colored houses, some centuries old, on the slopes of Signal Hill. After the abolition of slavery in South Africa, this became the home of many slaves from different parts of Africa and Asia, which became known as Cape Malays. Visitors might want to stop by the Bo-Kaap Museum, which showcases much of the area history, then have a true Cape Malay lunch at a local restaurant before exploring the art galleries that have sprouted in the adjacent area of De Waterkant.

Clients exploring on their own might want to know about City Sightseeing Cape Town’s hop-on, hop-off buses and tour options, which can start at $14 per day. They’ll want you to choose their hotel in Cape Town wisely, because location is everything. The sleek 15 on Orange is secluded enough that they won’t get noise or insanity from a busy street, but they can still walk to some of the city’s best attractions and beautiful parks (we love the Company’s Garden park next to the South African Museum, the oldest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa). The hotel has ultra-modern rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows—beg for a room with a view of Table Mountain because it’s an incredible way to start and end the day. Rates start at about $120 pp per night.