The Best Places To Visit In Western Cape.
For the third British winter in a row I've been lucky enough to escape the harsh weather and melancholy of January and February, replacing it with South African summertime. Not a bad swap eh, on a more personal note I get to spend six consistent weeks with Sam which doesn't happen again at any other point in the year. The reason we come to Stellenbosch, Western Cape is actually for Sam, who hosts a mountain bike event on a beautiful wine farm. They build the biggest dirt jumps in the world, invite the world's finest riders and celebrate the radicalness - yes I did just bring radical back. It's kind of become more than that now, this is my third visit but Sam has been coming to South Africa for several years and has a group of friends that are fast becoming our southern hemisphere family. The families who own the farm where the Dark Fest jumps are built on, have kids who also share the passion for mountain biking and are totally open minded to this extreme form of expression and talent. Now you see why the radical was necessary. But I'm not going to chime on any more about the event because I'm neither qualified or an expert. Instead I thought I would share some of my favourite places to visit during our stay.
Imagine the most beautiful rolling gardens, with mountains cresting in the background, the smell of the herb gardens and flowers fill your nostrils as giant tortoises casually plod alongside you as you walk around taking it all in. That's Babylonstoren. There's also a great place to go for lunch or breakfast where all the produce comes from the farm itself. Whilst I can't personally comment on the hotel or spa facilities as I only went as a day visitor, if it's anything like the rest would suggest, staying overnight would be an equally relaxing experience. It literally made me want to go home and turn our little courtyard into a green fingered haven. There's a surprise in every corner and every inch of land has been used to either create something beautiful or botanical. The camomile lawn was a personal favourite.
So needless to say, staying in Stellenbosch we were pretty spoilt for choice when it came to wine farms but Delaire Graff was a rather special one. I'm going to build the hype and say it probably tops the list for the most romantic date night I've ever been treated to. We actually ate in the Indochine restaurant, which is in addition to the main restaurant and boasts Asian inspired cuisine. As it was perhaps one of the fanciest date nights either of us have been on, we decided to capitalise and go for the tasting menu complimented by our favourite bottle of wine; Kaapzicht Pinotage , both of which I can recommend.
The Fat Butcher
The fact that I don't have a picture to show for any of the multiple visits that were made to the Fat Butcher reflects the fun that was had there. As the name would suggest, this isn't a place to visit if you are of the Vegetarian or Vegan persuasion but if you are still eating meat- welcome to mama! The service adds the perfect sparkle to what is already one of our most favourite global dining experiences. Always say yes to the meat speech, take the blue cheese & vodka sauce and if the weather is nice, sit in the back courtyard.
Aquila Private Game Reserve
Unless you want to travel a fair distance during your stay, a game reserve is as close as you can really get to a safari experience but to be honest Aquila offered the perfect balance of getting to see the big five up close in a setting that didn't feel like a zoo. The hotel looked out on to a part of the vast game reserve and there was also a great spa to relax in between the sun dawn and sun dusk jeep tours into the reserve. Plus the reserve is so big that you maintain that element of anticipation by not being guaranteed to see all the animals on one drive. Again the South African hospitality stands out and I do remember that when booking it at the time was one of the more reasonably priced reserves.