(Facebook: Elgin Valley Tourism)
The Elgin Valley on the Hottentots-Holland Mountains serves as the very first escape out of the city. The valley literally sits just as you come off Sir Lowry's Pass, and offers an array of to-do's for weary city-dwellers.
From leisurely sightseeing and road-tripping to the various family-owned vineyards in the area, to extreme mountain biking and trail running.
Before this valley's epic Elgin Cool Wine & Country Festival, I've only ever sped past the Elgin Valley on the N2 before. I realise now that this was mortal sin, as this valley is an unique travellers' experience in more than one way...
The people here don't care for trendy Cape Town ideas - like the current obsession with bacon and beer in the Mother City. No. They simply create their own trends, and sell them to a beer-and-bacon saturated market who lap up their fresh ideas, naturally.
The Eglin Valley is setting trends. Here are five reasons why:
Hey, they grow something other than wine in the Cape!
There’s a reason this valley is known as ‘The Other Big Apple’ of South Africa. The Elgin valley is home to the sparkly fruity Appletizer brand, and boasts with some of the most beautiful apple and pear tree plantations in the country.
You can’t help but imagine how beautiful this orchard must look and smell in Spring, when they’re covered in blossoms!
Elgin Valley is nature's version of an extreme playground
Is everyone here active!? Seriously. It’s Sunday, and everywhere you look people are running in forests and falling off dirty mountain bikes.
The rigid Elgin valley, with its plenty of rocky mountains, slopes and hills and lakes and dams provide the best terrain, especially for triathletes and trail runners.
For the more laid-back folk however, there are always fly-fishing, swimming or easy hiking.
'Patchwork' vineyards doesn't get prettier than this
Aaah, yes. As you wind down the N2 that runs through the Elgin valley, the patchworks of shades of orange and red welcome you to the other side of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains.
The earthy autumn colours of the vineyards serve as a reminder that harvest season is complete, and that a time of rest and regrowth awaits both the vines and the winemakers.
Craft cider is so much cooler than craft beer
The people in the Overberg are so over beer… and rightfully so! The cider revolution brewing up there in the mountains is a fitting tribute to the area, as they are using the valley’s own apples and pears to create some of the best craft cider in the world!
The cider-makers have stepped it up a notch too, and are now doing delightful food and cider pairings with their local brew.
Brrr… it’s cold up here…
The winemakers boast with the valley’s cool climate, saying that it ensures they have a more relaxed harvesting season as the grapes take a little longer to ripen in the cooler air.
You can taste it in the wine (if you taste long enough), but you can definitely feel it in the air too… so take along something warm, especially for the evenings. Luckily, the quirky accommodation destinations out here cater for the cold by means of fireplaces, wine and thick blankets.
SEE: The secret is out at Old Mac Daddy...
At The Hickory Shack, just off the N2, you can also struggle up to the fire where the most delicious pork ribs in Western Cape are carefully prepared.