Monday, 25 February 2008


On the outskirts of Stellenbosch is a small vineyard named Skilpadvlei. In the (northern hemisphere) summer of 2005, we road-tripped South Africa, staying in bed and breakfasts and self-catering accommodation all over South Africa.

When we arrived in Stellenbosch (which was as close as we were willing to pay for accommodation to Cape Town, but still close enough that we could get there for day-trips), we struggled to find somewhere to stay. Fortunately for us, we eventually found this delightful vineyard. We stayed in a three bedroom self-catering cottage, with a view of a lake, and a herd (flock?) of ducks that came to breakfast each morning. The cottage was well within walking distance of the 'Vlei's lovely restaurant, as well as their wine tasting facilities. Needless to say, we tasted each of their wines, and bought some of each (there were only four at the time, but they may well have extended their range since then). It is really very tasty wine. Plus, it has a cool name: SkilpadDop[1]. And the label has a lovely picture of a tortoise looking mighty tipsy with a wine glass over his head. Of course, this also may have changed since '05, but I kinda hope not. *grin*

Skilpadvlei was an incredibly affordable place to stay (although we were aided there, and in most other places, by the fact that we were travelling out of season - the SA winter), and was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable spots we stopped. The cottage was really beautifully decorated, and it felt considerably homey. Add that to the surrounding landscape, and the general beauty of the Western Cape, and you have a perfect mix. Even in winter, it was warm enough to braai (barbecue, for those of you who don't speak Safrican), and we had a thoroughly wonderful stay.

Stellenbosch has a lot to offer as a town, although we really didn't get to spend very much time there, as we spent a couple of days in Cape Town, being tourists and meeting up with people I hadn't seen in ages! It is, however, a lovely historical place, and if you're into wine, I imagine there are few places in the world that can beat it for good wine, coupled with beautiful landscapes and affordability. It's close enough to Cape Town to day-trip, like I said, but not so close that, as a tourist, you end up having to fork over the Grand Tourist Destination prices. Plus, I personally think Cape Town is somewhat over-rated. *ducks to avoid the wrath of the Capetonians I know read this* In my own, and Cape Town's, defense though, I am not a big city girl, so if big cities are your thing, your mileage may vary on this. ;)

However, if, like me, you prefer the road less travelled, but still feel you ought to 'do' Cape Town (since it is one of *those* destinations), Stellenbosch is a good accommodation alternative, and if you choose Stellies as your base of operations, I thoroughly recommend Skilpadvlei as a place to stay. The people were friendly, the place is beautiful, the food at the restaurant is good SA fare, and the wine is really quite scrummy.


[1] For those of you who have no Afrikaans, a Skilpad is a tortoise, and 'Dop' is colloquial Afrikaans, but is used widely amongst English South Africans too, for a drink - specifically an alcoholic drink.


Sikander7 said...

It was a lovely 'dop' that wine; you forgot to mention that the waiter was fluent only in Afrikaans and I had to order chocolate crepes for my sons. Neither he nor you kept a straight face as I massacred the Afrikaans tongue. We got the food though.

belgatherial said...


I'd forgotten about that. You trying to say 'piesang pannekoek' in your oh-so-british accent. HA. Priceless.

hawk said...

Sigh. Nou verlang ek ALWEER na die Boland!

belgatherial said...

Heh. Jammer skat.