A week away to switch off and celebrate
10 months and a lot of hard work into the year, I decided that spending some time isolated from my everyday in a quiet and peaceful space would help me relax and unwind for the final push of the year. Piggybacking off one of the most exciting times of my life - my engagement - Robertson was chosen as the spot for my switch off and celebration.
Why Robertson? Well, having lived in Cape Town for 8 years, it was one of the last ‘untouched’ pieces of the province. It’s not the furthest drive from Cape Town, but it almost seems like a new world when you pass through the Huguenot Tunnel.
Here's what we did on the way there, whilst we were there, and what we would recommend you do, no matter what your visit is for.
The drive is just the beginning
After a hard-earned lie-in, around 9AM it was time to get going. Packing the back of a 2-door Jeep Wrangler is probably one of the more complex games of Tetris you’ll ever find yourself playing, but the views you’re blessed with on this drive, make taking the roof off the most worthy experice you’ll find.
With the back of the car packed, the AUX cable plugged in, the fuel tank full and a bag full of 'padkos' from our friendly neighbourhood Engen garage, it was time to hit the road.
With the music keeping our spirits high - you can find my favourite road trip playlist here - and the sluggishly boring traffic on the N1 navigated, we were eager to be greeted by the infamous views of the Paarl Valley.
Going against traditional wisdom
Most people will have you believe that it is not always about the destination, but it is also about the journey. I am going to have to agree to disagree on this one, because as beautiful as the scenery on this road may be, nothing could prepare us for what awaited us at our destination.
With no stops necessary on the way - much to my new fiancé’s utter dismay - we were left to marvel at the Dutoitskloof Pass and the beautiful scenery framed by the sloping mountains surrounding us. With the music becoming increasingly difficult to hear as the wind swept past our ears, we slowed down a bit, ready to soak in everything we could see, hear and smell.
With the first argument as an engaged couple out of the way (a tip for you all, when you’re asked to stop for a “pitstop”, just listen) we made our way through Worcestor, before turning left into one of the most serene parts of the world.
Off the beaten path
Turning onto a well-kept dirt road, framed by the most magnificent olive trees and the Nuy Winery, we knew we were on the home stretch. But a much needed, and very different pit stop, was on the cards before we progressed any further down the road. Taking a sharp left turn onto another dirt road, we pulled into the Willow Creek Olive Estate to go and sample some of the land’s finest.
It wouldn’t typically be my first choice stop for refreshments, but after sipping on an ice cold lemonade, tasting some of the freshest and most delicious olives and oils, I felt extremely at peace as we looked over the valley.
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor
Or perhaps, a full stomach and a bumpy road trained a skilled driver? With only a few kilometres left on our road trip to our cottage, one of the most scenic drives I have ever been on was winding to a close. As we turned onto the farm that houses one of South Africa’s favourite children - the Saggy Stone Brewing Company - and got lost as we gazed into the vast expanse of lush, green agricultural beauty - we felt right at home.
The bumps in the road were seemingly no match for the four wheeled monster beneath my right foot, navigating the slopes and slants of the mountain range with relative ease, whilst my fiancé soaked in the sights and sounds (albeit through the lens of a camera to write this article).
A short but sweet road trip for a week of adventure
Worcester, Robertson & Bonnievale may just be some of the most beautiful parts of the Cape. As far as the winelands go, they fly under the radar when pitted against the Stellenbosch & Franschoek valleys that we are all so accustomed to. But, don't let these smaller, sleepier towns fool you into believing that your stays will be anything short of spectacular.
Here’s a few things that we did to stay entertained, that we would recommend anyone gives a try on their trip. You’ll notice a pattern as you scroll through our list - food and drink play a key role.
1. The Lookout Cottage
Perched at the top of the farm overlooking a sweeping valley lies the Lookout Cottage. An amazing 6 sleeper cottage, completely off the grid, isolated from anyone else on the game farm is where you’ll find sanctity and solitude amongst the farm’s bushveld and wildlife.
The days consisted of touring the area, eating amazing food and tasting the region’s best wines, before keeping ourselves busy in the afternoons completely horizontal, sleeping off the day’s feasts.
In the late afternoon sun, the hot tub calls (don’t forget to get the fire burning before you head off to the sunset perch). With the fire burning away warming the water, back into the Jeep we climbed for perhaps the steepest challenge of this little Wrangler’s career. After many bumps and clenched fists holding tightly to the rails, you make your way to the most spectacular lookout point. Situated at the top of the farm’s highest peak, you’ll be treated to 360 views of the whole farm and beyond.
The evenings are for braaiing (eating again I know), sipping on wines (this really is a pattern) and playing games long into the night while listening to the crackling fire and the wildlife around you.
It truly does feel like your own little paradise.
2. Owl’s Rest Olive & Lavender Farm
Do you like olives? What about freshly baked breads? Sipping on refreshing cordials basking in the sunlight? This small, family owned farm is the place for you! A quick stop in at the farm is well worth the trip. Pop your head in to taste some of the artisanally made olives and oils, baked into some fresh quiches for breakfast with a cup of coffee and a juice to tantalize your taste buds. It’s a must see stop for breakfast on your journey.
3. Springfield Estate
This may be a little bit biased, but Springfield Estate houses some of South Africa’s finest wines. Get there early to secure a spot right on the edge of the deck overlooking the farm dam for your tasting. After being treated to even more olives, ask for the full menu wine tasting, and sit back and enjoy the view tasting some of the most spectacular estate wines. Before grabbing a few bottles to take home with you, be sure to remember who the designated driver is on your way home.
4. Weltevrede - Jonker Family Estate
There’s probably no better way to celebrate your new engagement than on a wine farm famed for producing some of the country’s (and the world’s) best bubbly. Treat yourself to some sips as a welcome, before settling in to bottle your own bubbles with a custom label to take home with you, whilst learning about the history of the most beautiful wine farm you’ll see. Steeped in history, with a maze of tunnels underpinning the whole estate, you’ll feel transported into a new world entirely underground to enjoy the experience of the day.
5. Graham Beck Estate
Just another wine farm on the list? Well, this is one experience like none other. Arriving to sit on the deck overlooking the vineyards and the beautiful fountains, perfectly landscaped into the horizon. Browse their menu of various different pairings for the country’s most comprehensive selection of bubbly. Our pairing of choice? Well, it was difficult to look past the popcorn and bubbly pairing. Showcasing proudly South African popcorn flavours - including biltong and milktart - this is bound to awaken your tastebuds.
6. Saggy Stone Brewery
A home away from home whilst on our trip, but a mere stone’s throw (and a pretty steep rocky drive) away from our cottage, lay the brewery and the area’s most popular pub. Take a seat on the lawns, order a freshly poured draught beer or a gin & tonic to accompany some comfort food in the form of pizzas fresh from the oven or a burger to help you get a good night’s rest on a full stomach. With live music playing every other day, you’re sure to be kept entertained.
The long and longing trip home
After a week spent in pure relaxation, enjoying the celebrations on our self-proclaimed 'one-kneemoon' it was time to head on home. The roads we travelled on hadn't changed at all, but our feelings towards them had certainly shifted. Conversations were had, laughs were shared and memories had been made along those winding, twisting paths that would stay with us forever.
These roads will hold a special place in our hearts, as will the wheels beneath us that allowed us to enjoy a week that we would never forget. Our cars take us places, let us see things we had never imagined and experience the world in a different light. Inanimate as they may be, they come to life when you need them the most.