With beaches, history, culture, and great food and drink, there is so much to do in Cape Town. Somehow, with so many things to explore in one short trip, we stumbled upon what might just be the best possible way to spend a gorgeous spring day in the Mother City.We started the day at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. The garden was our gateway to hike up the mountain, but it was also beautiful in its own right.
In fact, the Kirstenbosch Gardens, as well as Table Mountain National Park, are part of the “Cape Floral Region Protected area,” a UNESCO World Heritage site. (That’s our 8th and last UNESCO site in South Africa!)
The region is important because of the rich biodiversity of the area. The area it encompasses is less than 0.5% of the area of Africa, but that small area hosts almost 20% of the continent’s floral diversity. The unique flora of the region is called fynbos. We were not there in peak blooming season, but there was still plenty of vibrant flora all around.
There are many great trails to take through the gardens, but we just took a quick stroll as we made our way towards our destination on the mountain – Skeleton Gorge. This included stumbling upon a baby owl, and enjoying a walk amongst the tree canopy along a winding boardwalk.
The Skeleton Gorge trail is one of the lesser traveled routes up Table Mountain, which meant it wasn’t too crowded for us that Sunday morning. The trail begins amidst a lush, shady forest, winding along a stream. Eventually, that stream turns into a trickling waterfall up a cliff wall. We had to climb ladders and pull on ropes to make it to the top. It is not an easy walk, but it is lots of fun if you like scrambling over rocks like I do.
We were rewarded for the strenuous climb with spectacular views over the Southern Suburabs and False Bay.
Our original plan was to turn west from Skeleton Gorge and head for the cable car, which would take us leisurely down the mountain.
But then Spencer had a genius idea. What if, instead, we turned south, and walked down the mountain to end up at a wine farm? He had me at “wine”, and we changed course.
The top of Table Mountain was a spectacular place. We passed the sparkling blue waters of the dam, trekked across the fields of mountain fynbos, and did some off trail mountain scrambling to have our lunch on top of a towering rock formation.
As we turn off on the road that winds its way down the mountain, the winelands of Constantia spill into view. In one sweep of the eye, I could see beaches, wine estates, and mountains. I think heaven must have a similar landscape.
The walk down was steep but easy, and before long we were relaxing on the sunny tasting deck of Beau Constantia, wine in hand.This place, set on a stunning farm, had great wine without taking itself too seriously.
Our next stop was the grandmother of all South African Wine: Groot Constantia. This is the oldest wine estate in the cape, making wine since 1685.
We quickly toured the historic manor house and strolled through the gardens, before making our way to the bustling tasting room to try out Groot Constantia’s wares.
We ended the day tired, tipsy, and full of joy for the great experiences. Altogether, not a bad way to spend a Sunday.