Roving around ‘Stellies’

by Justin

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We hit the road and spent three days in Stellenbosch (Stellies) in search of good food, wine and adventure. Stellenbosch delivered!

Day 1

Acrobranch tree-top adventure

Just a short drive from Cape Town, the first stop of our three-day tour of Stellenbosch was the Acrobranch Tree-top Adventure, conveniently located just off the N1.

With various courses on offer suiting varying age-groups and fitness levels, this adventure is geared towards wholesome group experiences, be it family, friends or colleagues.

The helpful guides started off by giving a mini tutorial including safety precautions, tips to navigate the various obstacle causes and more, to help get you comfortable.

Then it was off to explore your chosen course! Red is the most difficult, Blue is intermediate, and Green is relatively easy. Balance is key as you navigate walking on ropes, ladders, climbing nets and walkway bridges that wobble.

After you’ve finished the course, you are rewarded by yet another climb that culminates in a cool zipline that is about 120m in length.

This will certainly be a hit with the kids and it’s a great, fun experience for adults who are looking for something a bit different. For this writer, it was reminiscent of a carefree time when play included climbing trees and taking the leap of faith – a major plus is if you slip, the safety precautions ensure that you are strapped and do not fall to the ground.

Clos Malverne Wine Estate

Following our tree-top adventure, it was time to be spoiled and pampered, so off we headed to Clos Malverne Wine Estate, which was our home away from home for the weekend.

The spa at Clos Malverne is an intimate affair as the venue is booked for a maximum of two people at a time for a massage. The therapists know their business, applying just the right amount of pressure to ensure that within 10 minutes the stresses of daily city life begin to fade away. After an hour, feeling rather lazy, it was off to the steam room for a few minutes and then lounging on the terrace, soaking up some rays with intermittent dips in the pool nearby.

Now feeling thoroughly relaxed, it was time to relax at the self-catering cottage which is equipped with all the mod-cons needed. Sitting on the stoep, with a glass of Clos Malverne bubbly, which is very easy on the palette, guests are afforded a spectacular view of vineyards, making it feel like a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Dinner was a memorable experience – a top tip is to book a table on the balcony, which affords guests panoramic views. There is an ala carte menu, but we opted for the four-course food and wine pairing, which was a gastronomic delight. The food and wine pairings, beautifully presented, were both rich and flavourful. For a lunch getaway, try the gourmet pizzas which, in this writer’s opinion, are some of the best in the Western Cape – kudos to the chef!

Magnificent views, great ambience, fantastic food and top-notch service by staff makes Clos Malverne Restaurant a must visit for foodies and leisure seekers.


Day 2

Cavalli Wine Estate

Starting off the day with a hearty breakfast at Clos Malverne, we were set to venture out! Off we headed to Cavalli Wine Estate, which boasts modern décor and a very fresh look. The equestrian centre located on the estate houses several horses. On offer are stable tours, horse riding and carriage tours which take guests on a scenic and leisurely ride through the estate.

Stellenbosch city life

After a relaxing carriage ride, we drove to the heart of Stellies near the university. Parking can be a bit of a mission, but the town itself boasts a thriving and lively café culture with numerous spots to enjoy.

It’s a hip and happening spot where young and old alike can be seen socialising with some craft beers and lunch on the sidewalks. Stellies also has some of the most charming-looking bookstores that will appeal to book-lovers. Following lunch, it’s great to roam the little nooks and crannies where you will find art museums, craft and clothing stores.

Winston and Julia Chocolate and Ceramic Café

Feeling rather active after walking around the town, it was time to get dessert and some chocolate moulding at Winston & Julia Chocolate & Ceramic Café, situated at Stellenbosch Vineyards. There were a decent amount of giggles as we suited up into our “chef” outfits, which include some really colourful hats.

We started off by heating our chocolate (you get to choose milk or dark) and while that is being done, you bring out your inner creative by choosing moulds and add-ons, such as sprinkles, nuts, etc. The staff guide you about when it is best to remove your chocolate from the heat and give other useful advice throughout the process.

Once this is done, it’s time to place the add-ons and melted chocolate into your chosen moulds – this is relatively easy but can get a bit messy… but as you have your own station and chocolate, there is no judgement if you do a bit of tasting in between! While you wait for the chocolate moulds to cool, adults can enjoy some wine and there is a play area outside for kids to run around. The kids will love this experience and adults will get a kick out of doing something a bit out of the norm. Also, on offer at the café is a chance to paint ceramics and glass.

Explore the nightlife

Stellies serves up a vibrant nightlife of bars, lounges and trendy restaurants. Depending on what you are looking for, there is something for everyone. A number of bars serve up some very decent dining options.


Day 3

Spier Wine Estate

On the last day of our Stellies adventure, we ended off on a high – Spier Wine Estate! Spier is a well-known establishment and our visit proved yet again why it’s such a popular choice – adventure, wine, food, nature, wildlife, art…

Vineyard Segway Tour

The morning kicked off with a Vineyard Segway Tour. The helpful guides gave us a crash course in how to operate the Segway – a two-wheeled self-balancing transporter. First thoughts on the Segway brought to mind security officers at malls who zoom around but were replaced quickly with thoughts of how cool this actually was!

At first you may be a bit hesitant to go fast, so we started off slowly until we got comfortable with the Segway – then it was game on (okay while not at Schumacher speed, it is still quite exhilarating to zoom around the vineyard). Going through the vineyards you get to see beautiful scenery but the highlight for the group was the actual Segway – it was fun and something different.

Artsy explorations

Throughout the Spier Estate, visitors are treated to incredible artistic creations in the form of murals, sculptures and paintings (including areas that host exhibitions) – Spier is home to one of the largest contemporary collections of South African art in the country.

The story of the Creative Block, a Spier Growing for Good initiative, is very inspiring as it is open to established as well as emerging artists. The way in which it works is that artists are invited to create work on a small blank block. After a critique by a panel the best are exhibited at Spier for members of the public to enjoy and purchase, making it a great opportunity for artists to gain exposure and make some money.

Even if you are not an art enthusiast and would not necessarily visit an art gallery, it must be highlighted that Spier has ensured that artworks are highly accessible for people to enjoy as they are liberally scattered throughout the estate for no additional viewing costs.

There is also a crafts market on the grounds.

Eagle Encounters

A visit to Eagle Encounters, a non-profit rehabilitation and conservation centre for magnificent birds of prey, is a must. The centre provides a sanctuary to a variety of falcons, eagles and vultures who are unfortunately not able to survive in their natural wild habitat.

The reason for this varies, but most often it is because the bird was domesticated by humans who later realised they should not be kept as pets. Some have been injured in the wild or shot by pellet guns. In some instances, these birds of prey can be released back into the wild following rehabilitation or treatment.

Walking through the centre, is both fascinating and educational. The guides are super helpful as they answer questions, explain the differences, behavioural patterns and other key facts about these creatures.

Also housed at the centre are meerkats, an anaconda and other animals.

Picnic in nature

While there are several restaurants at which to grab a bite, we opted to enjoy a picnic that had a great selection of foods included in the basket. This option gave us an opportunity to laze on the grass (picnic blankets are provided) while taking in the beautiful surrounds.

Chocolate and wine tasting

Instead of opting for a good old wine tasting (which is great), we opted for novel – chocolate and wine tasting. Pairing wine with chocolate feels decadent – what’s not to love?

We were treated to three wines (one white and two red) that were accompanied by three different chocolates that are crafted to complement the wines. In between the different pairings, the MCC is used as a palette cleanser. This is a perfect activity for friends and couples – and it was the perfect way to end our Stellies tour![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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