We get that you’re so comfy here at Easy Five Guesthouse that all you want to do is spend your days lounging by the pool, and that’s great. But if you feel you really have to move around a bit, here’s our current (it’ll change) selection of things to do in the Helderberg-Stellenbosch-Franschhoek area of the Cape Peninsula.
1. Explore the Helderberg Wine Route
With no less than 33 wineries on the Helderberg Wine Route – A sub-route of the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the oldest wine route in South Africa, established in 1971. – making a choice of which ones to visit might be tough. The good news, though, is that they’re all within a 15- to 20-kilometre radius of Easy Five Guest House, and they include some of the country’s biggest names in wines.
Here’s a selection of (you guessed it) just five of them:
- Vergelegen was founded on 1 February 1700. You can visit the historic Cape Dutch homestead, restored in the ’80s, and tour the estate’s cellars or its 18 themed gardens. (It’s best to book!) Tours begin at the wine tasting centre. Dining experiences include a signature restaurant, The Camphors at Vergelegen, as well as a family-friendly bistro, and picnicking in season. Oh yes: And wine. Vergelegen produces reds – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz – and white table wines – Semillon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. All #JustAroundTheCorner, a mere five kms from Easy Five.
- Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate isn’t much younger, it was founded in 1711. Morgenster produces acclaimed and award-winning Bordeaux-style and Italian-style wines, as well as top-quality extra-virgin olive oil and other olive products, and balsamic vinegar, too. Also #JustAroundTheCorner, five kms from Easy Five.
- Rust en Vrede Wine Estate produces only red wines, and bills itself as South Africa’s premium red-wine estate. It focuses on Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. 14 kms from Easy Five.
- Ken Forrester Wines is famous for its Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Besides wines, the tasting room offers Wagyu pairing. Wagyu is a Japanese beef that’s known for its intense marbling and tenderness, and the meat is partnered with the estate’s Rhône style red blends. Seven kms from Easy Five.
- Idiom Vineyards is much younger than the other estates on our list, with a beautifully modern restaurant and wine-tasting room. It produces fine red and white wines, and focuses on Italian varietals, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Barbera and Nebbiolo. Unique features include a varietal sensory garden and a fynbos garden where visitors can explore the scents that form the constituent elements of the estate’s wines. Twelve kms from Easy Five.
2. Take a book to the beach
Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay, about 17 km from Easy Five, is a fine beach for swimming because it’s sheltered from the wind, and the water’s usually warm and calm. Tucked between the Hottentots Holland Mountains and the breakwater of the harbour, it’s also got amazing views of False Bay – all the way to Cape Point on a ridiculously clear day.
But Bikini Beach is also home to one of Cape Town’s most interesting – and chaotic – book shops, Bikini Beach Books. Literature lies in twisted stacks and tales on trestle tables in no particular order. But you’ll definitely find something to enjoy on the beach, the selection is that extensive. Look out for the breezy, 1950s American-style sign on the gable of the single-story building behind the three palm trees at 41 Beach Road (between Sir Lowry and van der Byl Streets).
3. Visit the art in Franschhoek
Franschhoek, about 60 kms from Easy Five, is a special little town known for its wine, its restaurants and its art galleries. Definitely worth a drive even if just for one, outstanding gallery in this village of great art, The Gallery at Grande Provence, which offers revolving exhibitions of the very best of contemporary South African art, both established and emerging artists, with selected American and European artists also represented. The sculpture garden is also a treat that features, according to the estate’s web site, “a continually evolving collection of monumental works in a variety of media.”
Grande Provence, by the way, is a heritage wine estate on the route of the Franschhoek Wine Tram, a hop-on, hop-off tour that traverses the Franschhoek Valley. Plus, the drive to Franschoek over the spectacular Helshoogte Pass is one the more scenic drives you can take near here.
4. Golf in Somerset West
If you’re a golfer — and we know that most of you are — then Easy Five is your perfect venue, especially with the Gary Player-designed, 18-hole Erinvale Golf Course at Erinvale Country and Golf Estate #JustAroundTheCorner, only four kms from our door.
It’s a fabulous course with views of the Helderberg Mountains and the sea.
But don’t take our word for it: it impresses even the professionals. As Mark Sampson wrote on compleatgolfer.com, “Manicured to perfection within contrasting mountain and ocean surroundings, Erinvale has matured into a prime example of what it takes to create a great golf course.”
5. Visit the Mandela release site
The first democratically elected president of South Africa was released after 27 years of political incarceration from the Victor Verster Prison (now Groot Drakenstein Correctional Facility) on 11 February, 1990.
It was an incredibly important moment in the country’s history, and it is commemorated by a larger-than-life statue of the man himself, Nelson Rolohlahla Mandela, at the prison gate.
If you’re exploring the Winelands, the prison is near Simondium on Wemmershoek Road between Franschhoek and Paarl, you really should stop and pay your respects, and take a picture or two, too.
Just one thing, though, and you might miss it: There’s also a tiny granite plaque at the prison gate that commemorates the launch of the Nelson Mandela Rules
Previously known as the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and first adopted by the UN in 1955, the Nelson Mandela Rules were revised in 2015 to reflect recent advances and best practices, and it’s probably appropriate that they were renamed in honour of possibly the world’s most famous prisoner.