One trend that was on the rise pre-Covid and is now more popular than ever due to obvious reasons, such as travel restrictions, safety and budget, is the idea of the staycation and playing tourist in your own city.
Increasingly, close-to-home destinations are being visited spur-of-the-moment. One such destination perfect for a last minute escape in the Western Cape is the small student town of Stellenbosch just an hour or so out of Cape Town. Offering tons of outdoor activities and al fresco dining beneath leafy oak-lined streets good old Stellies offers a refreshing yet still relatively safe respite from stay-at-home confinement.
Even taking into account the alcohol ban and the fact that the myriad of award-winning wine farms can’t sell or serve wine currently, there are still many reasons to visit this picturesque town.
One of them being the Adventure Shop Stellenbosch tours. I recently headed to Stellenbosch, courtesy of Cape Country Routes, to experience the guided cycle tour. The tour utilises e-bikes and the route is predominantly flat so it is such a breeze as the electric-assisted bicycles do most of the work for you and only need a few pedal pushes now and again to keep the momentum going. However, the level of how much electric power you utilise can be adjusted, so if you fancy a slightly more challenging cycle you can go right ahead.
The cycle tour starts at 9am and lasts approximately three to four hours and takes you on a leisurely meander through the historic part of Stellenbosch where you will learn about the origin and history of the town. The tour then moves to the banks of the Eerste Rivier and then through the scenic Jonkershoek Valley with stops at two wine farms, Stark-Condé Wines and Lanzerac, before heading back into Stellenbosch Town via the Stellenbosch University.
Usually, the tour includes wine tasting and pairings at the wine farms, however, due to the current booze ban, non-alcoholic refreshments can be enjoyed instead.
Highlights include learning so much from our extremely knowledgeable and friendly guide and zooming through the lush Jonkershoek Valley.
Adventure Shop also offers an e-bike tour through scenic Winelands from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek, a Boschendal breakfast ride, multi-day cycle tours and guided hikes.
Adventure Shop is currently offering some great specials for South Africans on their guided cycle tours and hikes, for more info click here www.adventureshop.co.za/specials
If staying a night or more in Stellenbosch you are spoilt for choice with accommodation options for every budget, from super luxurious wine farm accommodation to homely stays in historical buildings in the centre of town.
We stayed in the award-winning Eendracht Hotel and national monument. The original building, a small two-roomed cottage, was built in 1710. Reconstructed to remain true to the original architecture, it now offers 13 en-suite bedrooms, a restaurant and conference facilities.
It is located super centrally on the popular and picturesque Dorp Street, which FYI is the second oldest street in the country (thanks e-bike tour history lesson!), and is flanked by many historical buildings, boutiques, museums, galleries, delis, coffee shops and restaurants.
Boasting old school charm a stay at this budget-friendly historical three-star hotel includes Wi-Fi, a cute splash pool, a classic breakfast, friendly and welcoming staff and a perfect base to explore the town.
Eendracht Hotel was awarded the 2019 Lilizela Tourism Award for Best Small Hotel in South Africa and is a serial recipient of the Trip Advisor’s Best-of-the-Best Travellers’ Choice Award.
The Eendracht Apartments' newly refurbished self-catering units offer self-catering accommodation a five-minute walk from the hotel.
Currently, the hotel is offering a 50% discount on all bookings made before the 31 January 2021. For more info go to www.eendracht-hotel.com
*Ruth Cooper was a guest of Adventure Shop and Eendracht Hotel - both are members of Cape Country Routes.