Approximately an hour and 30 minutes north of Cape Town will land you in the town of Worcester, where the scenic Breede River and the snow-capped Hex River Mountains surround the area. Rich in history, the town was founded in the early 1820s by Dutch settlers, making this destination one of the best sites in South Africa to admire historic Cape Dutch architecture (and of course, admire the majestic mountains in the backdrop).
Start your visit right by exploring what Western Cape is the most proud of — its wineries. Stettyn Cellar is among the most favorable wineries to visit since the building is an iconic white, Cape Dutch style with spacious patios for wine lovers to kick back and enjoy the scenic view of the vineyard and mountains. Winemakers at Stettyn Cellar use centuries old methods to make the drinks and tourists will get to sample vino made by the family that have been on the farm for eight generations. Another fantastic place to sip on wine is at De Wet Cellar, where visitors can enjoy a tasting in its upscale lounge or polished patio with mountain view to die for. Because the winery owns a large portion of hilly terrain, there is a mountain bike trail for seasoned cyclists to trek through and see more of the view.
However, if mountain biking is a bit out of your league, the best way to explore the stunning natural landscape is at Karoo Desert Garden, one of the country’s most prestigious botanical gardens operated by South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The garden is more than 150 hectares wide with the majority of its land uncultivated, meaning you’ll get a glimpse of true natural vegetation of desert flowers and plants. There are two hiking trails visitors can explore to admire the surrounding field of flowers (the best time to visit is late July to late September). Or consider Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve, a more isolated destination with more strenuous hiking routes and a natural spring to cool off in afterwards. Once you’ve built up your appetite, head back to the park’s visitor center that has its own craft brewery (Mountain Brewing Company), restaurant and room rentals to extend your stay.
While hiking the mountains surrounding Worcester is a great way to see wildlife, a surefire guarantee to see them is at Fairy Glen Game Reserve, a sanctuary that’s open to visitors. There, you’ll find exotic animals roaming in the large reserve in the Brandwacht mountains like elephants, rhinos, zebras and lions. Guests can opt to go on a morning or afternoon safari to marvel at the big game animals living peacefully in a natural surrounding.
Don’t leave Worcester without going on a small shopping spree to take home souvenirs. Get to the heart of the town at Q Square that’s loaded with boutique shops, gourmet restaurants and a coffee house. While there, go on a Worcester Heritage Walking Route (you can find the map at Q Square) where you’ll stroll past historic buildings that dates back more than 200 year ago. Cape Dutch style buildings you’ll find along the walking route include The Old Gaol (jail), Sunday School Hall (built in 1918), Dutch Reformed Mother Church (built in 1832) and the iconic Garden of Remembrance (ancient cemetery). Most of the historic buildings are currently being operated as a restaurant or a shop on the square. If you’re looking to shop somewhere off the beaten path, check out Die Pampoen Padstalletjie, a small farm shop along a dirt road. You won’t miss the farm since it’s completely surrounded by hundreds of pumpkins and gourds. Once you’re inside, you’ll be greeted by mouth-watering, locally-made snacks and fresh produce along with some homemade goods like lotions and scarves.
The Worcester area has quiet a few accommodation options but whatever you’re looking for, there’s a hotel that’s a perfect fit for you. For a larger business hotel in the town’s limit, consider Protea Hotel Worcester Cumberland. If you’re an avid golfer, you’re in luck. The area has two fantastic golfing boutique hotels; Rendez-Vous De Golf and 19th Hole Golf Villa ,where guests can play a round or two within steps of their rooms. For an intimate and historic atmosphere, The Habitat House Guest and The Oak Tree Manor are the place to be.
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