Let’s face it, South Africa has the best road trips! I mean, just look at the Midlands Meander up North, or Route 62 and the Garden Route; hitting the road in South Africa is such a treat! Among these different routes, I found the Cape Country Routes concept to be quite unique. I recently spent an idyllic weekend exploring this route and here’s why you should definitely make the Cape Country Routes part of your December plans.
The whole premise of the Cape Country Route is based on providing travellers of all shapes and sizes, and especially families, a route filled with not only spectacular scenery but also accommodation and loads of activities.
It is also not only one route, as the Cape Country Routes portfolio spreads across the Garden Route, Route 62, the Whale Road, the Winelands, the West Coast and more. This all with the idea of making it as easy as possible for travellers to plan their trip – activities and accommodation – with the Cape Country Routes partners.
The Routes were established in 1997 by collaborating independent hotels and country inns as a means to stimulate the influx of tourists to the areas between the harbour towns of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Great care is taken to curate the portfolio that is presented to travellers, with the focus always being on character, charm and romance. They also make a point of forming a productive part of the community by assisting community projects in the area.
As mentioned, I had the privilege of exploring some of the accommodation and activities on the route at the end of September with a great group of girls. First off, we took the road to the breathtaking De Hoop Collection in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Situated on the Whale Route, this Cape Nature Reserve is all about stunning views, comfortable accommodation and a wide variety of outdoor activities.
A visit to the De Hoop Collection is a visit for the soul and because they have several different accommodation offerings at different price points it is accessible to everyone from families to couples. It is, of course, also a whale-watching paradise and from the unspoilt beach, one is able to spot these magnificent creatures, Southern Right Whales to be exact, that make the visit so special. You should also not miss the marine walk or the vulture viewing, both of which are led by knowledgeable experts, making it a very educational experience.
I won’t describe myself as an adrenaline junkie, but I couldn’t have been more excited to experience my very first shark cage diving experience at Marine Dynamics in Gansbaai. My brother is a marine biologist and I was quite nervous about telling him about my experience as I know there are several objections to the practices used in shark cage diving.
I am happy to report that I found everything to be well above board. At no stage was any shark fed during the trip. Instead, non-nutritive fish oil was used to flavour the water in order to attract sharks. Marine Dynamics also runs quite a tight ship; their boat is extremely clean and their staff knowledgeable. Every single trip has a marine biologist on-board, so it was great to have all our questions answered by professionals.
I was quite nervous about going out on the open sea as I am prone to motion sickness, but the crew knew how to handle each and every severe case of sea-sickness. And yes, the water is very cold, but as soon as you get up close and personal to those beautiful creatures, you forget all about it. The hot chocolate you are handed as soon as you get out also helps!
I love Stellenbosch. I’ve been living here for two years now and it’s an enchanting town in the heart of the Winelands, known for its proximity to the big city without conforming to any of the big city ideas. Most days you’ll find the streets filled with tourists and students alike and everyone knows that by 3 pm locals and visitors head to the closest wine bar for a wind-down.
To experience Stellenbosch to the fullest you need to find accommodation in the heart of the little town so that you can take a walk beneath the oak trees along Eersterivier. Oh, and of course, parking is a nightmare in Stellenbosch so it’s always better to be on foot. That is what really makes the Evergreen Manor and Spa in Stellenbosch so great – its prime location!
This guesthouse really does have the character, charm and romance that the Cape Country Routes so pride themselves on, with big rooms that are tastefully decorated and awesome staff that make you feel welcome the second you set foot in the front door.
Just because the guesthouse is located in the town centre does not mean that you will not be able to unwind and relax. Hidden away from the busy main roads, Evergreen gives you easy access to town and the chance to kick up your feet. While touring the guesthouse I was surprised by its calming atmosphere and spacious lounges – and even more so at its swimming pool, which is a rarity in Stellenbosch.
Seeing as you are already in Stellenbosch and primed to explore this quaint town, you should definitely stop by The Adventure Shop as well. As they are also part of the Cape Country Routes portfolio, they give you the opportunity to explore Stellenbosch and surrounds on e-bikes or mountain bikes. Want to know the best part of all? Their trips also include two wine stops at some of the most famous wine estates in Stellenbosch!
Have you tried any of the Cape Country Routes stops? Let us know in the comments below!