Take wine weekend road trip through South Africa's Cape Town and along the coast to Hermanus, with the best food and wine along the way....
Cape Town weekend road trip: Cape Town to Hermanus
The plane’s wing dips, turning the giant 747 southeast. To the right is your first glimpse of Table Mountain and Cape Town, South Africa’s Cape Peninsula stretching away into the morning haze and the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean filling the void below.
Mountains, sea and vastness lie close to the Mother City along one of the most dramatic, flora- and fauna-rich coastal routes, winding all the way to the seaside resort of Hermanus.
Just 150km in length, the distance could be covered easily in a day, in approximately two hours. But why, when a more leisurely two-day trip allows for exploration of silver-sanded beaches and mountain slopes strewn with fynbos (indigenous, bush-like vegetation)?
A September visit will ensure the full, colourful and scented glory of this part of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
Insider’s tip: Make sure you try snoek, a local fish. Its firm but slightly oily flesh is delicious smoked or braaied (barbecued).
After the tedium of the unavoidable stretch out of Cape Town along the N2, head towards Gordon’s Bay and Clarence Drive (R44). Built by Italian prisoners of war in the early 1940s, Clarence Drive is named for one of three business partners who bought land along the route, at what is now Betty’s Bay.
At every twist and turn, the mountains rise seemingly vertically above you; the slope to the crashing waves below is equally dramatic and vertiginous.
Several viewing sites allow for closer inspection: bend down to look at tiny, exquisite flowers and smell the many bushes with their garrigue-like scent; then gaze out to sea and maybe spot a Great White shark or a school of dolphins.
Further on, it’s worth a small detour to Pringle Bay, a holiday-home community, for a short stroll along its endless, sandy beach with panoramic views back across False Bay to the Cape Peninsula.
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Birdlife too is abundant: from the majestic black eagle to the brilliant orange-breasted sunbird.
And just before Betty’s Bay, at Stony Point Nature Reserve, is a rare breeding colony for African Jackass penguins, with their comical swagger (pictured top).
Plenty of overnight options, from guest houses to self-catering eco cabins in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve – you might even be lucky and see the rare Cape Leopard – and dinner at The Tides Restaurant (1539 Clarence Drive, +27 (0)28 272 9835) make Betty’s Bay a natural stop.
The colours, smells, birdsong and fauna of a fynbos spring can be experienced walking the many trails through the nearby Harold Porter Botanical Gardens before heading through Kleinmond (look out for the wild horses on the lake) and joining up with the R43.
Hermanus is a short drive further on.
Before reaching this bustling seaside town, it’s time for some wine tasting at Benguela Cove on the Bot River Lagoon. Look back over the mountains you’ve traversed along Clarence Drive, then head up the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to Newton Johnson with its excellent wines and restaurant.
Take time to enjoy the Cape Winelands-style cuisine while absorbing the splendours of Walker Bay with its Southern Right whales on their annual visit to give birth.
- This guide originally featured in the top 10 holidays for wine lovers in the February 2017 issue of Decanter. Subscribe to Decanter here.