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Dwars River Escape Route



Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Clouds Estate - Guesthouse and Villas
Accommodation: The Guesthouse - Luxury Accommodation: The modern style Guesthouse features seven beautifully appointed...

Camberley Wines and Cottage
On the slopes of Helshoogte beneath the powerhouse of the Groot Drakenstein Mountains lies a small winery. With about 5a...

Dwarsrivier Homestay and Catering
Levona runs Pniel’s local convenience store, but also offers a homestay for two in her delightful home convenientl...

Hazel's View Homestay and Tea Garden
Hazel's View has a delightfully decorated double room, ideal for couples on their honeymoon. Supper and lunches are serv...

Lekkerwijn Cape Country Home
Lekkerwijn (pronounced 'lekkervain') is a classic and historical Cape Dutch Country House, offering comfortable and priv...

Mac's Place
At Mac's Place, visitors will be treated to homemade food and baking, as well as exceptional hospitality. Four people ca...

Moores End
Moores End is a small holding located at the bottom of Banghoek. Its self-catering cottages are located on the steep slo...

Samburu Cottage
The name Samburu is taken from the Samburu tribe in Kenya - part of the Masai tribe. Samburu Cottage is a delightfully a...

Tree Tops Cottage
Tree Tops Cottage nestles on the slopes of the Simonsberg and overlooks the majestic Groot Drakenstein Mountain Range. T...

Le Pommier Wine Estate
Le Pommier Wine Estate is a country lodge situated on the beautiful Helshoogste Pass region known for its breathtaking v...


Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Boschendal Wine Farm
Less than an hours drive from Cape Town, nestled at the foot of the Groot Drakenstein Mountains, stands Boschendal, whos...

Tour Guide - Eva Williams
Eva qualified as a tour guide in 2003 and will gladly take visitors on a walking tour of Kylemore. The tour will give a...

Thelema Mountain Vineyards
Current wine production on Thelema is approximately 30 000 cases per annum, of which about 25% is exported. Thelema is v...

   Arts & Crafts

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Imbali - Live Craft and Art Centre
The Imbali - Live Craft and Art Centre is home to KYLEMORE COMMUNITY CRAFTERS - a group of previously unemployed people...

Petersen's Antiques
Ben started his antique furniture business after being involved in the Kylemore Community Crafters group. He now works f...


Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Allee Bleue Estate
Peter Anderson, from the German port of Tonning, arrived in Cape Town courtesy of the Dutch East India Company and was a...

   Food & Drink

Below is a list of restaurants and other food and beverage outlets on this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Hillcrest Berry Orchards
Quality is the hallmark of this family business with a reputation for attention to detail, innovative ideas and exceptio...


Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

House Calabash
House Calabash provides a number of services to the local community and visitors alike. Elizabeth is passionate about t...

Kylemore High School
With a visit to Kylemore High School, tourists will take a different value system away with them. Here one can see how m...

Mullin Trade
Mullin Trade specialises in the import and export of goods and services - especially the sale of wines. The owners start...

Taxi Services
Mr Brookes will provide tourists to the Dwars River Valley with all their transport requirements. A comfortable mini-bus...


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The Dwars River Escape Route is located in the Dwars River Valley between the university town of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, also known to be the culinary capital of the country. The route stretches from the Helshoogte Pass just outside Stellenbosch to the Groot Drakenstein area at the turn-off towards Franschhoek. The route covers a relatively short distance but the valley is packed full of attractions and activities. 

The Dwars River Escape Route has a wealth of spectacular scenery, cultural features, sites of historical significance, activities and comfortable accommodation options as well as a fascinating mix of established businesses, entrepreneurs, small businesses and community projects. 

Reasons to visit:

The valley has a number of quaint villages such as Pniel, Lanquedoc and Kylemore. The local people are a central part of any experience on the route and their rich history is portrayed in a number of historic buildings and churches. 

The valley is also home to many wine and fruit farms and local delicacies from the area can be enjoyed at coffee shops and restaurants throughout the area. Apart from being extraordinarily scenic, the mountains in the region also offer great opportunities for hiking and mountain biking.

Cheese Festival
When: Watch this space for next year's date
Where: Sandringham - outside Stellenbosch
Tel: +27 21 975 4440/1/2/3
Fax: +27 21 975 4446

After 11 years of success the SA Cheese Festival has endeared itself to hearts of thousands of cheese lovers. 2012 saw "Thousands of happy visitors tasting and buying some 35 tons of cheese," says Johan Ehlers, CEO of Agri-Expo. The festival has become a trend setter where the use and enjoyment of cheese is concerned and cheese lovers make the most of the unrivalled variety of cheese that is available from across the country.

Franschhoek Harvest Festival (Oesfees)
Watch this space for next year's date
Solms Delta Wine Estate

Music-loving Richard Astor is the force behind this Cape rural musical festival that was inaugurated at Solms-Delta in April 2008, and is now an annual event. The Franschhoek Oesfees, South Africa’s authentic harvest festival, takes the form of a heartfelt ‘thank-you’ to the valley’s farm-workers, to celebrate their hard work and bless the year’s harvest. Complementary admission is extended to the workers of all Franschhoek Valley farms, but limited tickets are also available to the general public. Each year the festival team scouts the winelands and hand picks a number of local musical gems. These amateur and professional bands from all over the Boland flock to Solms-Delta’s outdoor stage, entertaining thousands of revelers who bop and sway to the sounds of goema, Cape Jazz, langarm, vastrap and boeremusiek. Rustic local cuisine is served all day.

Some history of the Dwars River Valley:

While there is archaeological evidence of the presence of Early and Middle Stone Age people in the Groot Drakenstein Valley, it is the Late Stone Age people from 30 000 years ago who are linked to the Bushmen, who lived in the valley well into the colonial times. From about 2000 years ago, the Cape herders or Khoi began to use the valley for seasonal grazing. Their tradition was to burn the abundant fynbos vegetation (still visible on some farms today) to make way for new growth to improve the grazing. The wide tracks trodden by their herds of cattle, it is suggested, created the early colonial road system.

The land was allocated to the Dutch free burgher (Vryburger) settlers in 1687. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and the arrival in the Cape of the first French Huguenots, significant change began to occur in the landscape as the Huguenots were granted land interspersed with the Vryburgers. Since they were disallowed from teaching it at school, within 40 years few residents in the valley still spoke French.

The settlers adopted some of the Cape herders’ practices of stock rearing, also planting fruit, vegetables and particularly grapes. The livestock were easily driven to Cape Town and the vegetables, wine and brandy, which commanded a high price when sold to passing ships, were the cornerstones of the valley’s economy. 

Slavery at the Cape had been introduced shortly after the establishment of the Dutch settlement in 1652. Initially few farmers in the Drakenstein area had slaves, but the demand increased and eventually this region had the greatest proportion of slaves at the Cape. Slaves were valued highly – the most sought-after being artisans (masons, carpenters and wheelwrights). Slave women were employed as cooks, seamstresses, nursemaids and wet-nurses. Children entered service early and were listed separately on estate inventories as 'slave jongetjies' or 'slave meisjes'.

Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire (of which the Cape was now part) in 1807. Slaves were finally emancipated at the Cape in 1834, but they were required to do another four-year 'apprenticeship' with their former masters before being set free. Many ex-slaves gravitated to the mission stations in the area (Pniel in particular), where they could obtain schooling and learn trades.

The fruit industry became the main economy in the valley when many farms were bought up to make up Rhodes Fruit Farms Ltd. The fruit industry offered employment for many people in the valley and stimulated entrepreneurial skills in others who took up market gardening, became fruit vendors or entered the transport industry.

Rhodes Fruit Farms started in the wake of phylloxera, which infested the Cape vineyards in the 1880's. Recently, the valley has come full circle in that many of the farms in the valley are now re-embracing wine-farming as their business instead of fruit.

Cecil John Rhodes and Sir Herbert Baker:

Having resigned as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony after the Jameson Raid, Rhodes turned to fruit farming at the Cape. In consultation with Harry Pickstone, Rhodes decided to buy old wine farms in the Groot Drakenstein area. Pickstone and a banker were instructed to negotiate – but initially not in Rhodes’s name, for prices would have been much higher! Over a few years from 1897, 29 farms were acquired, mostly in Groot Drakenstein, but others in Wellington and Stellenbosch. The farms bought were having immense problems as a result of the phylloxera virus that attacked the root of the vines. Rhodes bought the farms, ripped out the vines and started the fruit farming in the area – he was apparently the first to send fruit by way of refrigerated shipping to Covent Garden. Twelve managers were appointed, most of whom were trained in California. An impressive total of  200 000 deciduous fruit trees were planted – mostly pears, apricots, plums and peaches.

At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War, Rhodes went to Kimberley and remained there during the four-month siege. He continued to show an active interest in the development of the fruit farms, however, and persuaded Alfred Beit and De Beers to become shareholders.

Rhodes’ health deteriorated and he moved to his cottage in Muizenberg. In February 1902, as Rhodes was dying, a new company – Rhodes Fruit Farms Ltd – was born. Harry Pickstone became resident director and technical advisor of the company for its first few years of existence. Also in 1902, construction was complete on Rhodes Cottage, also designed by Sir Herbert Baker. Rhodes Cottage was built (at Rhodes’ instruction) exactly one mile from the Boschendal Manor House, at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain. There is some doubt as to whether Rhodes ever spent any time in Rhodes Cottage but there is a romantic tale that says he spent one night there. The house originally had a corrugated iron roof and it is said that on the night he spent in Rhodes Cottage it hailed and it was so noisy that Rhodes had the roof replaced with thatch.

Sir Herbert Baker, who designed the Union Buildings in Pretoria and many other famous buildings in South Africa, was the architect responsible for designing labourers’ housing on the farm Lanquedoc – on the opposite side to the village of Pniel on the Dwars River – for the labourers of the some of the farms that made up Rhodes Fruit Farms. 

Work began in Lanquedoc in 1898 when the concepts of suburban “garden villages” and industrial housing were only beginning to emerge. The houses built were well proportioned yet functional, reflecting Baker’s combined interests in Cape Dutch architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement. For church buildings, however, he adopted a traditional English style in sandstone – one such example being St Giles Church in the heart of Lanquedoc.

Many other buildings in the Dwars River Valley were designed by Herbert Baker, including the homestead on Lekkerwijn.

Lanquedoc history:

The history of housing at Anglo American Farms Ltd dates back to 1898 when Sir Cecil John Rhodes, aware of the need to attract and keep labour because of immense demand for labour from the gold and diamond mining industries further north, commissioned Sir Herbert Baker to design an orderly village for the farm workers in a simplified Cape Dutch style. Over 100 houses, a church, a school and a house for the pastor were built at a cost of £27 000, which at equivalent value is approximately R37-million (using a 7.5% interest rate over the 100 years) today. The result was the village of Lanquedoc, which today still stands under its long avenue of oaks. Each cottage included half a morgen of garden for flowers and vegetables, and the keeping of two horses, two cows and pigs. A hundred morgen of commonage was provided for grazing of the livestock. 


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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.

South Africa - Western Cape

South Africa - Western Cape

The Dwars River Escape Route covers the entire Dwars River Valley, located near the university town of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape of South Africa. The route covers a relatively short distance but it is a valley packed full of attractions and activities for any traveller.

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Key Contacts

Doreen Carolissen

Telephone: Click here
Mobile: Click here


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