Last weekend we headed west into the Cape Winelands for a little getaway. We arrived in Bonnievale, “the valley of cheese and wine,” located along the beautiful Breede River and spent the next three days surrounded by mountains, vineyards, and the most gorgeous gardens in the Western Cape. If it weren’t for the Bonnievale Bonanza Cycling Race (and our cycling friend), I doubt we would have ever come to Bonnievale, but this has to be one of the easiest and most affordable weekend trips to make out of Cape Town, especially if you love wine and cheese. Just be sure to brush up on your Afrikaans.
The route to Bonnievale is spectacular. The greenery, dramatic hills, waterfalls, and rainbows make for very scenic 2-hour drive, and just after the tunnel through the mountain pass, you will likely find families of baboons hanging out in the grasses beside the highway.
We stayed at Baken Oord, a small farm on a vineyard between Bonnievale and Robertson. There are four cottages to choose from, all of which have been transformed from laborer’s cottages into charming little holiday homes. They are perfectly situated on the farm beside the river, flanked by the Langeberg and Riviersonderend mountains, with fully equipped kitchens and big outdoor braai areas. They supply you with fresh linens and towels, and although the cottages are small and simple, they are beautifully renovated. The farm life slows everything down, forcing you to reconnect to nature and the animals – the cat, the chickens (and chicks), colourful and melodious birds, and a very friendly horse named Lily 🙂
The air is fresh with eucalyptus trees. White and red roses line the streets on your way into town (which is basically just one street with a few shops). The people are really friendly and there are plenty of wineries to sample, as well as Klipdrift – the legendary South African brandy – aka “Klippies.” Robertson has slightly more in the way of shops than Bonnievale, they have a good Spar and Tops, and a couple of nice places to eat. We sat on the patio at the Grand Café in Robertson – be sure to try their freshly baked scones with clotted cream and local jams.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet romantic getaway for two or a wine-tasting trip out of town with friends, Baken Oord is a great option. It’s also ridiculously cheap (R150/night per person in a cottage for 4 people)!
It’s simple out there, but nature will give you an abundance of beauty. All that emptiness will somehow make you feel full. And have you doing handsprings on the lawn.