Talk about the best of both worlds: in the Cape Winelands, you combine superb mountain hiking with the well-rounded delights of the country’s best wine estates. And it’s just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
The famous vineyards of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek lie surrounded by ranks of imperious-looking mountains. Far bigger and wilder than the Table Mountain range on the Cape Peninsula, they are home to baboon troops, mountain antelope and even leopard. The views are nothing short of sensational and there is barely another hiker around.
And as for the vegetation – well, prepare yourself for a floral treat. The mountains of the Cape Winelands are covered in luxuriant fynbos and forest-lined rivers. There are flowers all year round (especially from August to November) but there are also post-fire areas to hike through, your chance to see the amazing recovery of fynbos after fire and the extravagant flowering that follows the flames.
There are half and full-day hikes in the Cape Winelands as well as a multi-day adventure. You’ll be walking on well established trails with plenty of up and down but no scrambling. They are of course very convenient if you are staying in the Winelands but such is their ease of access that an early morning start from Cape Town is all it takes to enjoy any one of them.
WHERE TO GO HIKING IN THE CAPE WINELANDS
Home to the magnificent Jonkershoek Valley, the stately town of Stellenbosch lays claim to some of the most scenic trails in South Africa. The aptly-named Panorama Route is the signature hike but the Swartboskloof Trail has views just as stunning. Both are full-day hikes but there are shorter versions too – half-day hikes in the valley with great views, tumbling waterfalls and flower-spangled fynbos.
The Jonkershoek Valley is also the start to a 3-day hiking trail that leads you into the dramatic wilderness of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains. It’s a sprawling, beautiful landscape and you stay in rustic mountain huts along the way.
The Mont Rochelle Private Reserve is the venue for excellent hiking in Franschhoek. Set in the mountains of the Franschhoek Pass, the reserve offers a range of trails that you can set out on just 15 or 20 minutes after leaving your Franschhoek accommodation. There is a great day-hike that takes you up to Pederkop (Horse Head) Peak for views across the entire south-western Cape and several half-day hikes, all with staggering views.