Your guide to exploring the Helderberg this summer

2018-10-02 16:26 - Nadia Krige
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Helderberg

(PHOTO: iStock)

If you love spending time in the Cape Winelands, but enjoy having quick access to the beach, the Helderberg region is the ultimate dream come true!

Incorporating Somerset West, Strand and Gordon’s Bay, this area is home to gorgeous wine farms, beautiful beaches, intriguing eateries, excellent outdoor options and a bit of quaint shopping.

With summer just around the corner, we highly recommend taking a little shot left off your usual winelands route and exploring the Helderberg for a change.

Here are a few fun things to do:

Wining & Dining

Do lunch at Idiom, Sir Lowry’s Pass

Even though it’s only been around for two years, Idiom Restaurant has made quite a name for itself among foodies and those in search of a truly luxurious dining experience.

Situated against the upper slopes of the Helderberg Basin close to Sir Lowry’s Pass, it offers spectacular views of the vineyards and pine plantations, as well as a unique vantage point of False Bay and the rugged outline of the Cape Peninsula far in the distance. The restaurant itself boasts pleasing lines and a strikingly simple Scandi-inspired interior.

Chef Calum Anderson recently launched Idiom’s brand new menu for the summer season and it’s really quite something! You can choose between a 2-course or 3-course menu. Each course has a couple of different options, all more delicious than the next. And, yes, plant-based foodies, Idiom caters (absolutely deliciously) for you too.

wine farm, food

wine farm, food

Images by Nadia Krige. 

We can highly recommend the poached stone fruit salad for starters, braised pork belly for mains and dark chocolate dome for dessert.

The 2-course meal is priced at R315 per person and the 3-course meal is R390 per person. Wine pairings range from R30 – R90 per course depending on the wine.

Visit the Idiom website for more details.

Lourensford Market, Somerset West

There’s nothing quite like an evening market to get you into the festive season swing. Lourensford hosts a lovely Twilight Market every Friday between 5pm and 9pm.

With twinkling fairy lights, hay bales and rustic picnic tables, it’s a great spot for everything from a first date to an early evening outing with the kids. The vendors offer a diverse range of street food-inspired meals, as well as a variety of ciders, wine, beers and coffee. 

If a Friday evening doesn’t work, you can enjoy a similar day-time outing on Sundays between 10am and 3pm.

Visit the Lourensford Market website for more details.

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Picnic at Vergelegen, Somerset West

Enjoy a lovely ‘white tablecloth’ picnic in Vergelegen’s magical Camphor Forest. Your picnic basket will typically include artisanal break and an array of patés, salads, cured meats, cheese and biscuits, as well as dessert and aromatic filter coffee.

They also offer special kids’ baskets for 3-to 10-year-olds for R95 per child.

Adult baskets are R255 per person. Note that picnic baskets do not include wine, so you will have to purchase that separately.

Visit the Vergelegen website for more details.

De Brasserie, Strand

This stylish Belgium-inspired restaurant is located on Strand’s beachfront and offers excellent beef dishes as well as delicious fresh seafood options. Unsurprisingly, they pride themselves in a substantial beer menu (with quite a number of craft beers on tap), great coffee and superb wine.

Visit De Brasserie’s website for more details.

Breakfast & coffee

Schoon, Somerset West

Carb-lovers unite! At Schoon Bright Street Café, you can indulge in an array of freshly-baked bread, pastries and sandwiches, as well as a wide variety of coffees and tea.

It’s a lovely breakfast spot for anyone looking for hearty home-baked goodness and a dream for a sweet tooth coffee date.

Visit the Schoon website to find out more.

Pajamas and Jam, Strand

If you like the sound of an eclectic, steampunk-meets-Scandi-meets-vintage space, you will love Pajamas and Jam Eatery. It’s tucked away in the industrial area between Strand and Somerset West and seems just as rustic as its surrounds from the outside.

However, when you step through the doors, the high ceilings, light wood furniture, white-washed walls and greenery immediately transport you to a whole different world. They have majestic baked goods, as well as a menu filled with wholesome meal options.

It’s also home to loads of antique furniture and trinkets for sale, as well as a vintage clothes shop and a costume hire store.

Visit the Pajamas and Jam Facebook page to find out more.

READ: Escape to these unique Western Cape winter winelands + wine events not be missed 

On the Go, Gordon’s Bay

Whether you’re in the mood for a quick cappuccino, an ice cream cone or a sundowner drink, this new beachfront coffee shop in Gordon’s Bay has your back!

Plus, if you want to taste the BEST toasted sandwich you’ve ever had in your life, order their four cheese toasty (for only R40-something!!). It. Will. Blow. Your. Mind!

They don’t have a website or a social media presence just yet, but find them IRL at 39 Beach Rd, Gordons Bay.

Exploring the outdoors

Beach hopping

If you’re looking for family-friendly seaside experience, the Helderberg has exactly what you’re after!

Both Strand and Gordon’s Bay are renowned for their long stretches of beach and mostly calm waters. Unsurprisingly, during summer weekends and holidays you’ll find young and old revelling in the sand and saltwater. It does tend to get a bit crowded, however.

If you’re looking for something ever so slightly more exclusive, try Bikini Beach, adjacent to Gordon’s Bay’s Old Harbour or Kogel Bay about halfway to Rooi Els along the majestic Clarence Drive.

Watersports

Whether you’re into saltwater activities like surfing and kitesurfing or prefer that freshwater feeling, there are loads of options for you to explore!

If you stick to the side of Strand Beach that is closest to Somerset West/Paardevlei, you’ll find a pleasant surf spot that never gets too huge or crazy. While it’s well-suited to beginners, those with more experience shouldn’t snub it entirely – you’re bound to catch a fun wave or two out in the backline. It’s also a particularly fun spot for long boarding. Check out local surf shop, Natural Energy’s daily surf report to get the inside scoop on wave and wind conditions.

Now for all the freshwater fans out there, Blue Rock (located right at the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass) offers a huge range of activities, including kiteboarding, water skiing, SUP-ing and wakeboarding, as well as a super fun 400 metre long adrenaline-filled fufi-slide ride into the water. They charge an entry fee of R60 per adult during season, R50 for children under 16 and R45 for children under six. Each activity also has an additional cost of its own. Check out the Blue Rock rates page to find out more.

Hiking (and trail running)

Home to both the Helderberg itself and the Hottentots Holland Mountain range, this region has loads of hiking trails to explore.

The Helderberg Nature Reserve has seven different trails ranging between 2.2km and 12.8km. All of them will take you through beautiful fynbos vegetation and offer sweeping views of False Bay in the distance. Take note that there is a vehicle entry fee of R15, as well as a per person entry fee of R20 for adults and R10 for students, pensioners and children.

Helderberg Farm is another great location for hikers of all ages and fitness levels. They offer five different trails ranging between 1.8km and 11km. The trails are open daily from 8am – 6pm and permits can be obtained from the kiosk.

All these trails are also excellent options for those who prefer to pick up the pace and do some trail running instead.

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Mountain biking

With a wealth of slopes and peaks, it’s hardly surprising that the Helderberg is also a hotspot for mountain biking!

Once again, Helderberg Farm offers an array of downhill tracks as well as family-friendly trails. Permits (including Shuttle permits) are available from the Teagarden. Check out the Helderberg Trail Co. Facebook page for more information.

Lourensford Estate is also home to a number of mountain bike trails that are managed and maintained by Basin Mountain Bike Club. You can visit their Facebook page to find out more or send an email to Malan Wykerd at malan@velolife.co.za

There are also the Schapenberg MTB Trails located just above Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. All trails start at Ongegund Conference Centre, range between 10km and 32km and have been graded as easy to intermediate. They normally take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to complete, depending on which route you choose. You can find out more by calling Ongegund Lodge on 021 858 1554.

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