Now that inter-provincial leisure travel is permitted, but international flights are not yet on the cards, and what with conventional school terms all awry, South Africans are revising their holiday plans. This new move to enjoy the finest of local, right here, right now, comes with the added patriotic thrust and economic impetus of supporting our tourism industry.
Discovering – or re-discovering – what our country has to offer is not without considerable pleasures. After all, South Africa is not a major global tourism destination for no reason. The Mother City sits at the pinnacle of this offering, with a global gourmet scene, award-winning wine estates and an iconic mountain that is one of the Natural Wonders of The World. And until international leisure travelers may return to the fairest of Capes, we have its splendour all to ourselves…
Cape Town is not just a beacon for anyone outside of the Western Cape. Capetonians themselves have been known to “staycation” and live it up in the city. There’s a wealth of attractions and characterful areas. One such is the renowned Constantia region, set against the densely forested eastern sides of the Table Mountain range and sloping down into a valley of vineyards. There are many, many reasons to make a beeline for Constantia and plan a holiday break or getaway around this locale.
With a heritage that stretches across centuries yet boasting a contemporary sensibility, Constantia is one of the finest areas to visit when in Cape Town and remains its oldest and arguably, its most beautiful wine valley, fondly referred to as Cape Town’s Vineyard. On the Constantia “bucket list” is Eagles’ Nest, one of the highest vineyards in the Cape, with its slopes facing North, East and West. Offering not only terrific wines but spectacular views over the Cape Peninsula, Eagles’ Nest is perched in a secluded spot high up on the slopes of the historic Constantia mountain range. You can enjoy a simple wine tasting in their tasting room or take your wine tasting experience to new heights by tasting the wines in one of their vineyards.
Groot Constantia, founded in 1685, is an historical wonder with an enduring legacy. So famous are the fruits of South Africa’s oldest vineyard that they were enshrined in the novels of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The oldest wine producing estate in South Africa offers fascinating cellars tours, a cultural history museum, the original Cape Dutch Manor House, an art collection, and even, wine tastings. So, you can find out for yourself why ‘Constantia Wyn’ was bought by emperors and kings such as Frederick the Great of Prussia and Louis Phillipe of France, and served to Napoleon in exile on St Helena island.
If you want to connect with nature explore the Constantia Greenbelt network on foot, which includes the tree-lined Alphen Trail or go for the longer haul and take a gentle hike up Constantia Nek, for spectacular views over the valley towards the ocean. There’s also the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which is acclaimed as one of the great botanical gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of this setting for a walk or picnic. Take a stroll across The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway – aka the boomslang. This curved steel and timber bridge winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum, offering spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, garden and Cape Flats.
After all that physical activity, enjoy a hearty breakfast or lavish lunch at Chardonnay Deli. The deli is based in an old farm stall near Groot Constantia, on an historic route that also houses the original police station and the commander’s house. Enjoy a delicious cup of TRUTH coffee, freshly squeezed super juices or browse the range of handmade items for the home. Sit back, relax and indulge in their freshly baked artisan goods and experience the serenity of the scenic valley surrounds.
You can easily up the ante on the foodie front because Constantia has an incredible fine dining scene. Many of South Africa’s top-rated, world-renowned establishments lie in close proximity to one another, allowing you to dine on seasonal Cape cuisine as often as you wish. Absolute musts on this gourmet hotlist are the multiple award-winning Greenhouse restaurant.
Not far from the Constantia Valley wine route, lies a popular spot for getting creative while enjoying lunch and a glass of wine. Set in the heart of Hout Bay, lies Clay Cafe. The large open patio offers views of a lush garden that boasts an innovative playground for the kids. Create a ceramic masterpiece while you indulge in a meal made from fresh produce from their very own veggie garden – an ideal day out for a unique creative experience.
Be adventurous with Ziplining Constantia. Ideally situated and accessible from all major transport routes and located on Silvermist Estate, Ziplining Constantia is one of Africa’s longest and highest Zipline tours and aims to give you a thrilling experience in the traditional SA Forest Adventures way.
When visiting Constantia, break away from the humdrum to one of the most unique boutique hotels in Cape Town! Five-star destination The Cellars-Hohenort affords breathtaking views across The Constantia Valley to False Bay. With its understated luxury, antique furnishings and original works of art, the hotel is a celebration of traditional values and gracious living. Surrounded by nine acres of historic gardens, with views of Table Mountain, The Cellars-Hohenort offers world-class accommodation, two award-winning restaurants, a tranquil spa and more.
While at the hotel – if you’re not out exploring Constantia’s many gems – you can experience the historic architecture and award-winning gardens boasting 300-year-old trees that are of national importance. You can enjoy revitalising, magical walks around this famous garden featuring various horticultural wonders; from the aforementioned ancient camphor trees, to the abundant rose garden (there are thousands of roses planted on the property), secret doorways, lawns, water features, vegetable and herb gardens… Or, lounge in the warm Mother City sunshine next to the tranquil pool area overlooking the hotel’s very own vineyards.
When you’re ready to venture forth once more, the valley awaits. The Cellars-Hohenort is set deep in the heart of the Constantia Winelands and is the perfect base to visit jaw-dropping-ly beautiful estates for fine wines, incredible views, and many great restaurants.