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    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 countrya��s vineyardsa��indulging in fine dining, gourmet wine pairings and elaborate tastings, while therea��and taking an interest in conservation efforts, farmersa�� lives and sustainability measures.

    Biking and bouquets
    Much of South Africaa��s vineyards are in Cape Winelands, a short drive from Cape Town. a�?Not only can you enjoy mountain biking, SAfrica-Franschhoek-HauteCafull-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,a�? 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 worlda��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 therea��s Darling Stagger, which takes you through wine and olive farms right up to the coasta��perfect for biking.

    a�?If you want more, go on the Franschhoek Wine Valleya��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,a�? says Mahlaba.

    Details: country.southafrica.net

    -Surya Praphulla Kumar


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