From sampling wines to living like a local, Winelands ecotourism gives a heady introduction to South Africa
The prides of lions and herds of zebras still beckon, but tourists to South Africa are discovering a taste for something new: Winelands ecotourism. In their hunt for the perfect glass of wine, visitors are exploring the country’s vineyards—indulging in fine dining, gourmet wine pairings and elaborate tastings, while there—and taking an interest in conservation efforts, farmers’ lives and sustainability measures.
Biking and bouquets
Much of South Africa’s vineyards are in Cape Winelands, a short drive from Cape Town. “Not only can you enjoy mountain biking, full-moon hikes, literary festivals and rock concerts, you can also harvest grapes, spend a day at a local village and learn how to prepare traditional food,” says Evelyn Mahlaba, regional director (Australasia) for South African Tourism.
On the trail
For oenophiles and gastronomes, there are several options to choose from. Like the Green Mountain Eco Route, the world’s first biodiversity wine route, where you can explore farms, hike among the fynbos (indigenous shrubland vegetation), go bird watching, besides sampling local food and wine. Then there’s Darling Stagger, which takes you through wine and olive farms right up to the coast—perfect for biking.
“If you want more, go on the Franschhoek Wine Valley’s community tourism route, which includes a number of sub-routes like culture, cuisine and archeology. You can try cooking in a home kitchen, learn pottery and even sample 40 flavours of chocolates,” says Mahlaba.
-Surya Praphulla Kumar