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It’s summertime – the best time to enjoy outdoor activities! With Covid-19 still around, avoiding large gatherings and keeping a safe distance are imperative but having fun in the fresh air is still possible. Beaches might be closed, but the winelands area of the Cape Floral Kingdom is waiting to be explored. Here are five nature-based activities to inspire your next adventures. They also happen to be a showcase of WWF’s Conservation Champion wine farms and the wide-open spaces they have to offer.
Imagine relaxing under a shady tree on a picturesque wine farm, sitting on a blanket and eating a few delicious and sustainably grown or locally made foods, from artisanal cheeses, freshly baked breads and baguettes to mouth-watering savoury and sweet delights. This is all possible.
Of the conservation-minded wine farms in the Cape, you can enjoy outdoor picnics at, Gabriëlskloof, Spier, Boschendal, Almenkerk, and Mooiplaas, among others.
Some offer packed picnic baskets, and some have delightful delis and farm shops where you can purchase freshly picked produce, jams, olives, herbs, honey and more.
If outdoor picnics are not your cup of tea, how about a warm breakfast or wholesome lunch in the socially distanced alfresco restaurants and outdoor tea rooms at some of the Conservation Champion farms. This is probably the most common activity across these farms who are leading in environmental commitment and action. And you have plenty of different food options at Waverly Hills, Klein Constantia, Groot Constantia, Gabriëlskloof, Delheim, Anthonij Rupert and Rust en Vrede wine estates to name but a few.
Use the free Champion wine guide app to help you choose which sustainable farm to support first and find out what food options they offer before you book a table or plan a visit.
If you want to spend more time at these beautiful farms in nature, Spier, Hidden Valley, Oak Valley, Vondeling, Bartinney, Cederberg, Cloof, Kloovenburg and Merwida are some of the estates that also offer accommodation.
Going for a run or a walk around your neighbourhood can be refreshing, but it can be even better when you do it with stunning expanses of nature all around you. Imagine breathing in nature-filtered air and the sweet aroma of fynbos combined with ripening grapes at this harvest time of year, while trail running or walking and enjoying close-up mountain crags. This is an experience you can savour in the winelands.
Waterford Estate offers trails through vineyards and protea bushes as high as 2.5m. It’s called the Porcupine trail, named after the nocturnal creatures, that created the path. You can also go on a self-guided tour at Bouchard Finlayson and hike the sustainability trail at La Motte, wander the naturally landscaped gardens at Almenkerk, Waterkloof and Waverley Hills, while at Hamilton Russell, De Wetshof and Koelfontein the trails are for the more adventurous and require prior booking. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars if you walk at Paul Cluver or Oak Valley in the Elgin Grabouw area as they are part of the Groenland Green Mountain Trail offering slackpacking to flora and fauna lovers alike.
The Cape winelands sit in the heart of South Africa’s Cape Floral Kingdom which is one of the richest areas of plant diversity in the world. The Conservation Champions, with support from WWF to enable environmental best practice, have voluntarily committed to ensure that they farm in harmony with nature so that we can also have a taste of what they enjoy daily.
Remember to contact the wine farms before your visit, to confirm their current offerings.
Mountain biking in the winelands is suitable for all types of people – from those who want to have their first taste at this heart-pumping sport to the pros of the game and even for the nature enthusiasts who wish to simply explore a farm’s mountain areas on two wheels.
There are plenty of routes to follow on selected Conservation Champion farms – from steep and mean challenging climbs to flat relaxed single-track rides, depending on your preference, the route, and the level of your ability. The great thing is that many of the rides can be guided, which means that you don’t need to worry about the route as the guide will ensure that you get back to the farm in time for your lunch and a refreshing drink to cool off. Since each farm with a bike track operates differently, you can look on the wine app and then contact them to find out more about their offerings.
These are some of the Conservation Champion farms that you can bike at: Boschendal, Bartinney, Delheim, Lourensford, Neethlingshof, Schalkenbosch, Paul Cluver, Plaisir de Merle, Oak Valley, Wildekrans and Mooiplaas.
We all have those days when we don’t feel like using much strength for our activities. Simply because we feel tired or it’s just a lazy day, but we may still want to have fun. If this is you, horse riding might work for you if you want to explore the winelands at your own pace. If you are a beginner you can take your time winding your way through the winery and enjoying every feeling of being in nature, as well as the smells and views. Advanced riders can take longer routes and may spend a longer time in the saddle. Only some farms, such as Wildekrans and Boschendal, offer this special adventure so it’s important to book in advance.
The adventures on the Conservation Champion farms are not only for adults, children can also have a lot of fun: playing on open expanses of lawn and shady areas, staying physically distanced and safe. At Backsberg, children are entertained in the garden play area while parents enjoy the shade beneath the trees on the farm’s terrace.
For a truly unique experience, Vergenoegd Löw has a daily duck parade with about 1000 ducks that waddle out to the vineyards every morning for their daily feast “duty”. They indulge on snails, slugs and bugs while helping to keep them away from the crops. What a clever and nature-friendly way of controlling pests! Contact them to find out if they are open before you visit. Remember to check the Champion wine guide app for other child-friendly farms.
The ongoing commitment from WWF’s Conservation Champions has become a worldwide success story that has seen the South African wine industry lead the global wine sector in demonstrating the symbiosis, and balance, between nature and farming.
So, which Conservation Champion wine estate are you keen to visit first? Check out the full list of 45 farms in the champion wine app, contact them and plan your next visit.
Please stay safe while enjoying a taste of summer and the free fresh air of nature and do support these eco-active farms as they work hard to keep the beautiful winelands in their most natural condition for us to connect with nature and have fun outdoors.
Explore the Conservation Champion wine farms and enjoy eco-tourism activities this summer. Download the Champion wine guide app for more information.