Take the N7 out of Cape Town, put on some tunes and keep driving until you see the silhouettes of the silos in Malmesbury. You are now officially in the Swartland, historically known as the breadbasket of South Africa, but also quite the wine and olive destination thanks to the stellar offerings of innovative small-scale wineries and exciting artisanal producers in the region.
There are all sorts of lovely wine tastings and pairings to enjoy in the area, but to make things a little more interesting, I’ll share some things to do that venture beyond that. Here you go!
Braai in the vineyards at Lammershoek
Lammershoek is one of the oldest farms in the Swartland. Its name (which translates to ‘lamb’s corner’) was the result of this part of the originally much larger farm being a sanctuary for lambing ewes who would herd their young here to safeguard it from birds of prey against the outcroppings of the foothills.
To invite guests into the fold, winemaker Jorrie du Plessis has started to host ‘braai and wine’ events once a month. Visitors can buy tickets ahead of time, and then arrive on the day to enjoy a guided cellar tour, tastings from the barrels and a convivial braai overlooking the vineyards, set to live music by the Lammershoek Farm Band. You can also take a walk through the vineyards or opt-in on a tractor ride around the farm, and there are always a few kid-friendly activities in the mix as well.
Learn to cook proper Indian food
I know what you’re thinking – Indian food in the Swartland, what the what? But I can personally attest to the fact that Nicole Neethling from Flour & Oil in Malmesbury is very much the real deal. This bubbly chef and talented food enthusiast is a born teacher and has such an authentic love for Indian cuisine that you can’t help but get excited and inspired when she’s behind the pots.
So, get this – Nicole is actually a qualified patent attorney whose food demo business came about when she started to question her busy-busy-busy career and wanted to spend more time with her husband and three boys while also doing something she loves.
Now, she conducts delicious Indian food demos and cooking classes throughout the Swartland, Cape Town and further afield. Check out her Facebook page to see which events are coming up in and around the Swartland.
TOP TIP: Nicole also conducts private events for groups of 10 or more – so if you and a bunch of friends are making the rounds in the Swartland, get in touch ahead of time to see if she might fit you in for a private cooking demo at your accommodation venue, or elsewhere.
Find Flour & Oil on Facebook
Enjoy open-air theatre in the Riebeek Valley
The Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) is nestled in the gardens of the Royal Hotel in the shadow of the Kasteelberg in the Riebeek Valley. This lovely destination opened in response to the months of Covid-19 lockdown and has just concluded its first Summer Theatre Season, which provided opportunities for audiences of up to one hundred at a time to gather safely in the open air, socially distanced by stone installation artworks dotted around the auditorium.
Amphitheatre Director Mark Graham-Wilson put together a season of ten productions submitted for selection by leading South African actors, writers and directors. In line with Covid restrictions, the productions all had small casts of one or two actors. Closed for the winter, RATA’s second Summer Theatre Season is already being curated and will open in October 2021 with another exciting line-up of local productions. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for more info.
Sign up for a yoga retreat at Kalmoesfontein
Kalmoesfontein is undoubtedly one of the most magical destinations in the Swartland. This farm is home to AA Badenhorst Family Wines, Caperitif and all softs of other hand-crafted tastiness. Situated on the slopes of the Paardeberg mountain, it has killer views over the Swartland, all the way to Kasteelberg Mountain and beyond.
The farm regularly plays host to beautiful weddings and has now also become the destination for gorgeous yoga retreats arranged and overseen by Clarisse Coetzee. These exclusive events are package deals that include 2 nights’ accommodation, amazing vegetarian meals, snacks and drinks, yoga classes, massages, group sessions with a life coach and more.
So, if you want to enjoy a farm detox where you can stretch, swim, indulge in nourishing meals and soak up some Swartland chill, this is the vibe for you. Keep an eye on the Kalmoesfontein events page or get in touch with Semma Badenhorst to find out when the next retreat will be.
Keen to view the Swartland from above and get your adrenaline pumping? Then a skydiving trip with Mike Rumble and the Mother City SkyDiving team will be right up your alley.
The Swartland drop zone is a few kilometres from Malmesbury along the N7, which means it’s nice and close to Darling, Moorreesburg, and Riebeek West as well. Tandem skydiving is suitable for novices, with no previous experience required, so even if you’re a complete skydiving noob, you can still get in on the action with Mother City SkyDiving! Get in touch with Mike to find out more.
Now you know! As always, it’s best to book your spots for these outings and activities ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Check back soon for more awesome insights on where to go and play throughout this less-explored part of SA.