Drive an hour out of Cape Town towards the Du Toitskloof Mountains, and you will be swept into a world of wondrous scenery, historical charm, impressive architecture, glorious wine and fruit farms, and environmental delights. And this is what recently welcomed me when I ventured to the Paarl/Wellington area for the One World Festival of Healing and a weekend away in the Winelands.
The festival itself was set in one of the area’s many natural attractions, namely the Paarl Arboretum. Located on the banks of the Berg River, this 2.8km park is home to over 4,500 trees from 750 species that come from six continents. Each of these ‘continents’ played host to its own eclectic style for the weekend, with bands, kiddies activities, food, crafts and other inspiring activities taking place in each different land. The event also sought to empower small and micro industries within the region, while showcasing major industries and the tourism assets of the Drakenstein region.
And the area does indeed offer many attractions. During a stay in the area one can visit the Afrikaans Language Monument, walk up Paarl Mountain, sample some local olive oil, go strawberry picking, cheese tasting, beer sampling, visit one of the many exquisite restaurants, sip on some wine or take a tour along the brandy route, or my personal favourite – take a visit to the Limietberg Nature Reserve, nestled in the mountains.
The nature reserve is set in a picturesque valley, reached via the well-known Bainskloof Pass. The pass, now a national monument, took 23 days per kilometre to complete and opened up a route inland for the wagons of old, giving the valley its initial name, Val du Charron, meaning valley of the wagon-makers. A number of accommodation options are available in the region, and it was at the foot of this pass that I made a home for the weekend.
Bakkies B&B offered the perfect spot in which to indulge in many of the area’s exciting activities and, as some of us took to the wine, others dined in sophisticated style, and others took to the mountain on a bicycle.
Apart from great mountain bike trails, the area around Bakkies B&B also offered stunning hikes through the nature reserve, stopping off at the pristine pools on the mountain – a must-do activity in the summertime. Further along the pass the rest stop at Tweede Tol offers the perfect place to enjoy a picnic before heading back to Paarl and Wellington or to camp for the night on the way before continuing on your adventure to the other amazing winelands that await in Ceres and Tulbagh.