By: Sandy Nene
Although the Cape Winelands are primarily about celebrating the awesome wines coming out of South Africa, they are also incredibly beautiful and best explored on foot. Between cellar tours and tastings, head out into the mountains of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Somerset West to breathe in the fresh Western Cape air and feel the sunshine on your shoulders.
Here are some of the best hiking trails in and around the Winelands:
Cat’s Pass (or Kat se Pad) Trail
Situated in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, this trail is relatively challenging and best left to those with a bit of experience. It covers just over 10 km of the reserve and takes about five hours to complete. Steep climbs mean that it is not suitable for little ones. The spectacular views and the many historical attractions along the trail make it well worth the tricky climbs, though. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Boland Biosphere Reserve, which is also a fantastic spot for bird watching.
Dirtopia Full Moon Hike
Every month, from September to April, hikers can head out to discover the unrivalled beauty of Stellenbosch by the ethereal light of the moon. After enjoying the sunset over Table Mountain in the distance, head out on a 9.75 km circular route through the vineyards and yellowwood forests of Stellenbosch. There are options to stop along the way and be taken back to base, though, which is great for families with little ones that don’t want to tackle the entire route.
Limietberg Hiking Trail
For hikers that want to experience the raw beauty of the Winelands, this is a 36 km trail in the heart of the Boland’s mountains. Exquisite views of the endemic fynbos, mountain ranges, and verdant valleys make this a very special hike. It is usually covered over the course of two days – the first day covers 19 km and the second 17 km, with no return trail. There is a hut en route for those that choose to do it over the two days.
Cape Winelands Walk
Somerset West to Stellenbosch
Take this 100 km trail over the course of seven gloriously scenic days as you get the very most out of your Cape Winelands experience. Known as the slack-packer hike, it starts at Somerset West and covers between 10 and 19 km per day. Along the way, you get to enjoy the utter beauty of the fauna and flora of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Assegai Nature Reserve, and Helderberg Nature Reserve. There is a shorter option that only takes four days.
Vlakkenberg Mountain Trail
Constantia is part of the Cape Winelands, but conveniently situated within Cape Town itself. This trail extends from Constantiaberg to Constantia Nek, all within the Table Mountain National Park. Views of the vineyards below are complemented by those of the opulent suburbs of Bishopscourt and Wynberg. A few challenging, rocky climbs carry the promise of a wine tasting reward at the end of it.
The Cape Winelands are about so much more internationally renowned wines and top-notch food. Feel, see, taste and hear the very essence of South Africa when you explore this unique area on foot.