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June 20, 2013

#DiscoverHelderberg: things to do in the Helderberg

I recently spent three days discovering the Helderberg and found that there were almost too many options from which to choose – I needed about a week to do and see all that is on offer in this often-overlooked region!

A typical rustic Helderberg scene. All images by Natalie Roos

My itinerary was jam-packed and I still didn’t get to experience it all. I did, however, spend a lot of time sniffing and sipping on the region’s delicious wines in front of roaring tasting-room fires, as it rained buckets outside. So I look forward to visiting again in summer, when I’ll no doubt spend countless hours in the sun on Bikini beach. The Helderberg is a firm favourite with golfers, wine lovers and beach bums, and it's easy to see why.

Winter or summer, there is always something to do in the Helderberg.

Relax and unwind at the Erivale Spa

The courtyard at Erinvale Hotel & Spa

For the month of June, Erinvale Spa at the Erinvale Hotel in Somerset West is running a Massage Monday special, giving you 50% off all massage treatments. The spa facilities include a steam room, indoor heated whirlpool, outdoor pool, sun deck and relaxation area.

Enjoy high tea in the Erinvale Hotel

The tea room at Erinvale Hotel & Spa

The Erinvale Hotel offers a selection of tasty treats in its dining room on Friday afternoons, for its high tea – perfect for that post-massage, sweet-treat craving.

Experience an olive oil and wine tasting at Morgenster

Delicious olives at Morgenster

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting at Morgenster

I’d never done an olive oil tasting before, so this was a novel experience for me. In front of a roaring fire, Morgenster offers a tasting of two extra virgin olive oils and an imported balsamic vinegar, as well as a platter of olives and olive pastes. They also make beautiful wines and a white truffle olive oil. If you’re there at lunchtime, stay awhile and have something to eat at Sophia’s, where the menu changes weekly. (Tip: if you like red wine, I highly recommend the NU Merlot.)

Go wine tasting at Lourensford

Wine tasting on the beautiful Lourensford property

Honey liqueur at Lourensford

This beautiful farm produces some fantastic wine. Sprawled across the slopes of the Helderberg, the drive onto the immaculate Lourensford property is an experience all on its own. The exquisite natural beauty marries perfectly with the stunning white Cape Dutch tasting room, where wine, cheese and chocolate await. The Millhouse Kitchen is the farm’s restaurant, and offers French and Italian-inspired fare. 

Visit the kramat of Sheikh Yusuf

The kramat of Sheikh Yusuf

Visit one of the most important Muslim shrines in the country. The kramat of Sheikh Yusuf in Macassar, said to be the father of Islam in South Africa, remains an important place for followers of the Muslim faith.

Experience the big cats of the Cheetah Outreach

Beautiful big cats at the Cheetah Outreach

Getting to know the incredible Joe at the Cheetah Outreach

Get face-to-face with the fastest land animal at the Cheetah Outreach. Working to educate the public of the cheetah’s endangered status, the Cheetah Outreach is home to six of these majestic cats as well as other small predators, such as bat-eared foxes. They also run a conservation programme, breeding and placing Anatolian shepherd dogs with farmers, providing a solution for farms where cheetahs are blamed for killing livestock. There are no words to describe the feeling of being so close to one of these graceful big cats. Definitely worth a visit.

Go beer tasting at Triggerfish Brewing

Beer tasting at Triggerfish 

Eric's beer schnapps at Triggerfish

Triggerfish is a micro-brewery with more than 20 beers on its label. Owner Eric van Heerden loves to experiment and he creates some interesting combinations, such as his Champ’s Breakfast coffee beer and a beer wine. The tap room is an awesome place to try the beer, and grab something to eat from the new kitchen. (Tip: if Eric is around, make sure he gives you a taste of his beer schnapps.)

Go horse riding

Horse riding through the vineyard at Journey's End

Delicious cheese tasting at Waterkloof Wines

Horse riding is a popular pastime in the Helderberg and is offered at various farms. At Journey’s End you can taste wine before taking a ride through the vineyards. The magnificent Waterkloof is a must-see farm with lots of activities, including horse riding, wine tastings, cheese tasting and guided nature walks. The activities page on their website gives an overview of their various offerings, including the “bird’s eye view” – guests take a helicopter from the V&A Waterfront to the farm, where they enjoy a cellar tour and wine tasting, followed by an incredible, six-course degustation menu in The Restaurant at Waterkloof.

Soak up the sun at Harbour Island

The view of Harbour Island from Bertie's Mooring in Gordon's Bay

Gordon’s Bay is home to Harbour Island, where you can relax, soak up the sun and enjoy the view at Bertie’s Mooring while enjoying a delicious plate of fish and chips. The venue often hosts music nights with live local bands and artists, so check out its Facebook page to see who is playing when.

Visit the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum

Inside Hostel 33 at the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum 

The Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum is a fascinating and moving look into what life was like for the many men absorbed into the labour system between 1958 and 1994. The museum’s main exhibit is Hostel 33 – a hostel that has been preserved, unchanged, to show the living conditions of the inhabitants. Definitely a worthwhile visit for those wanting to understand more about the history of South Africa.

With so much to see and do in the Helderberg region, you might want to book a few nights' accommodation. Have a look at our list of places to stay in the Helderberg for recommendations. 

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