June 20, 2013
#DiscoverHelderberg: things to do in the Helderberg
Natalie Roos’ body was born in Johannesburg… but her soul was always Capetonian. At the age of 14, Natalie started work in the television industry, presenting popular local kids TV show, KTV. Ten years and another TV job later (presenting celebrity gossip show JIP on Afrikaans music channel MK), Natalie made the move down to Cape Town where she started her blog, Tails of a Mermaid (www.tailsofamermaid.com). Her love for the internet and all things communication-driven became a natural progression to a career in Social Media, where she worked in an agency managing the online presence, content and reputation of various brands.
Natalie’s passions include cats, communication and Cape Town.
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!
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.