Yes, you’ve sunbathed and surfed in the Mother City. You’ve sipped wine in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek, and had a froth-filled time in Darling. And you’ve chilled in Knysna and seen the whales off the coast of Hermanus. You’ve visited all the places that people go on about when they’ve just come back from their beautiful Western Cape holiday. But have you ever properly visited any of the province’s smaller towns. You know, the ones you might only pass by or pass through. If not, then you’re missing out on quite a few wonderful adventures.
Here’s small selection from the plethora of small towns you should give a go when you’re in the Western Cape.
A small seaside town is an idyllic holiday setting, and Pringle Bay is one to visit if you’re ever in the Cape. Just an hour-and-a-half long drive from Cape Town, it’s sandwiched in between two amazing natural environs. The first is the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom. The second is, of course, the beach, where you can get up to numerous activities, such as sunbathing, shark-cage diving and whale watching. And if you’re on the lookout for fab accommodation in Pringle Bay, Moonstruck Guesthouse is the place to go.
One of three small towns in the Riebeek Valley (the other two are Riebeek West and Hermon), Riebeek-Kasteel is one of the oldest in South Africa. It boasts the 160-year-old De Oude Kerk which houses the Riebeek Valley Museum. It’s also home to its very own micro-brewery, Flagship Brew; and to Kloovenburg Wine Estate. This latter destination is particularly heavenly, thanks to its luxurious accommodation space, The Pastorie; and to its abundance of wine, figs and olives. The estate sells numerous olive-based treats and body products, thus forming part of Riebeel-Kasteel ‘Golden Olive’ triangle (along with Het Vlock Casteel and the Olive Boutique). In fact, you can catch the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival in May. Find out what else we love about Riebeek-Kasteel here.
Paternoster is a gorgeous authentic fishing village on the West Coast where you can enjoy a variety of stimulating experiences. Swimming is the most immediate option, of course, but plenty more adventures await you here. Do some kayaking; visit the 80-year-old Cape Columbine Lighthouse; browse the At Botha Art Gallery; and stay, dine and be pampered at the five-star Abalone House.
Citrusdal was established just over 100 years ago and is one of a few small towns close to the breathtaking Cederberg Mountains. Together with its neighbour Clanwilliam, it offers beautiful vistas aplenty. These include the gorgeous Namaqualand flowers that bloom between August and September; Tierhoek, located between the two towns, and cultivating wine, rooibos and buchu; Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort; and Petersfield Farm. Another natural haven is the Wolfkop Nature Reserve, which also happens to be the site of the outdoor music festival, Wolfkop Weekender. If you’re more of an indoors person, then head to Citrusdal Museum; The Baths, a natural hot springs resort; and various lovely eateries.
One exquisite aspect of the Little Karoo town of Montagu’s is perhaps its close proximity to the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, which we’ve visited a few times (most recently in 2016). But the town itself has gems of its own. There’s Joubert House, a small museum that dates back to 1853. It gives you a tiny glimpse into 19th-century farm life, and also amazes with a variety of indigenous medicinal plants in its back garden. Then there’s Mimosa Lodge where you can stay in one of 23 luxurious rooms. Last, and unfortunately not as constant, is the annual Montagu Makiti, happening in September this year.
Matjiesfontein in the Karoo is a tiny pocket of South Africans history. It was once a British army stronghold during the Anglo-Boer war and boasts a British Army Remount Camp as one of its attractions. There’s the Marie Rawdon Museum where various Anglo-Boer War items are on display. And, accommodation-wise, the Olive Schreiner Cottage offers a slice of literary history. Most notable, however, is the Lord Milner Hotel. Once a hospital in the lates 1800s, its now a three-star hotel that’s seen many renovations over the years. Oh, and apparently its haunted. Read about our trip to Matjiesfontein here.
There’s one great reason to visit Calitzdorp: wine! The town features two wine estates that offer a bounty of goods. The first is De Krans, which produces wine under three labels: De Krans, Le Sueur and Garden Route. Also check out the list of wine-based cocktails on their website, and take note of their Orchard Festival and apricot-picking extravaganza. The second is Bo Plaas, where you can get award-winning wine (their Cape Vintage Auction Reserve 2009 was one of last year‘s 11 most prized Cape Wines); brandy; and port-style wine (which cannot be called port unless it’s made in Portugal).
From the beautiful hand-crafted designs at its Avoova branch, to the cooking experiences offered by African Relish, Prince Albert has a host of attractions to keep you enthralled. Any town with over 70 bed-and-breakfasts has to be visited multiple times. And seeing as it dates back to the late 18th century, we’re sure Prince Albert is also rich in history. Read more about our journey in and around this beautiful Great Karoo town.
Beaufort West was founded in 1818, and has the distinction of being the first municipality in South Africa, as well as having the country’s first town hall. It is also the hometown of Dr Christiaan Barnard and Patricia de Lille. Added to that, it just happens to be the home of Karoo lamb. We visited Beaufort West a while back, and were truly charmed by this place. There’s the wonderful three-star Olive Grove Guest Farm; an olive farm 20km away; and the Kwa Mandlenkosi township, where stands a 100-year old stone dwelling, the oldest house in Beaufort West.