A visit to Stellenbosch in South Africa’s Western Cape may not be complete without one possessing a delectable palette for quality wines, but there’s more ways to enjoy the manicured vineyards and their mountainous surroundings.
Every destination I travel too, I not only try to dig on the culture, the industry that defines it and the people who make it, but I also try to incorporate some active adventure time. There’s always room for adventure and Stellenbosch and Cape Town, known for their vibrant urban hubs, are no exception. Whether it’s freewheeling down hills or hiking in valleys or exploring vineyards (and travelling between them) with a little speedy adrenalin boost, the Cape has you covered…
Scooter Ride in Cape Town
Table Mountain is obviously the go-to vantage point for a viewing point of sweeping Cape Town below. It is, after all, a city with this mountainous hulk in its very centre. And while many accept the challenge of the hike (or simply hitch a ride in the cable car for ease), others might want to get down via a little more speed and adventure.
We met Christiaan from Scootours at the Lower Information Centre of Table Mountain, ready to drive up with the monster fat tyre scooters for a whirling ride, powered by gravity, down on the Lower Slopes of Table Mountain and the national park. The 5km off-road gravel path track on Signal Hill provides sweeping inner-city panoramas and a front row seat for views of that famous Table Mountain ledge.
Segway in a Vineyard
It’s easy to wander through vineyards or sit up on a winery terrace, sipping on the elixir they produce and admiring them in their growth. Except in South Africa, some vineyards are like entering a national park – extensive, seemingly endless and often begging the question of where to even begin.
While we leisurely jumped in a jeep safari to explore the never-ending rolls of hills at Jordan’s, Spier’s flatter grounds were the perfect foundation for adventure. Taking a two-hour Segway tour around the Wine Farm eventually led us to the huge expense of oil painting vines reaching all the way to the mountains (or so it seemed).
Hiking in National Park – Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
Before wining and dining comes the exploration of Cape nature, and the means from which to work up an appetite. A morning hike in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve in the southwestern Cape was a chance to see a fynbos filled wilderness of Stellenbosch beyond the wine estates (just 9km away). We wandered past the Boland Mountains that encased us in this rugged valley of dense woodland of oak trees, rivers and hundreds of plant species.
This was a chance to see an untouched and un-groomed side of the Cape region of South Africa, off track with outdoors experts ‘Adventure Shop’ as our guide. Not only do they take you on guided walks and long hikes, but also run mountain biking tours around the rugged valleys.
Cape Town Sidecar Adventures
Whether you are in Cape Town or Stellenbosch, or even want to combine both, there’s a way to do it in old school biking flair style with Cape Town Sidecar Adventures. Donning a retro leather jacket and neck scarf to match our designated biker (with the added option of goggles if you want to up the ante), we jumped in our sidecar at Tokara estate for a windswept ride to Stellenbosch town, ending up at Stellenbosch Vineyards. We looked vintage throwback, felt VIP and jumped off at the end all pumped up and full of adrenalin. We owned the road in our leather-clad convoy and we knew it.
Cape Town Sidecar Adventures offer everything from a two-hour tour to half and full day sightseeing circuits of the Cape Peninsula with multiple stops. If you just want a taster of the fun, they even offer simple transfers from A to B, much like our trip.
More Stellenbosch Stories
Visiting a Township in South Africa – An overview of my guided tour of Kayamandi in Stellenbosch.
My guide to Stellenbosch – Wine and Cultivation in the Western Cape.
Things to Know:
Cape Town Side Cars. The price for a two hour tour start from 2,100 Rand (£124/€140). A half day tour starts from 3,850 Rand (£226/258).
Getting to South Africa:
I flew from Munich to Johannesburg and then onto Cape Town via South African Airways. *NOTE: You have to have one or two BLANK passport pages in your passport for entry into South Africa. I learnt the hard way, not being allowed on my first flight and embarking on a last-minute emergency round trip from Munich to London to sort a one-day passport processing!
How to get to Stellenbosch from Cape Town:
50km from Cape Town, it takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the Western Cape winelands region from the Mother City. Coastal hangouts are just 15 minutes away, should Stellenbosch be your main base and you want a combination of big city, pristine beach and nature.
If driving, you can take the N1 from Cape Town via the R304, R44 or R300 and M12, or the N2 via the R44 or R31O. However, coaches and hire cars are available as well as trips and tours. Self-driving is recommended in order to see more of the region. We used First Car Rental during our time there.
When to go to Stellenbosch:
September to April marks the summer period, with temperatures reaching into the 30’s.
For further information on what to see and do, eat and drink, and how to get the most out of your time in the Western Cape winelands, visit the Stellenbosch Travel website, or read further stories and watch the videos on the dedicated ‘Stellenblog’ Stellenbosch Experience website – the project of which I was a part of and who sponsored my trip in the Western Cape region.
Image Credit: Segway drone footage copyright of: www.bothajackson.co.za