Hemel n Aarde Valley

Accommodation in Weekend Getaways - Cape


The road through the Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley, between Caledon and Hermanus, is a rollercoaster of gravel and tarmac, dropping in giant steps surrounded by mountains, rows of vineyards, pine and eucalyptus, ruins and a church before eventually reaching the coast.

About the destination

The valley is dotted with wine farms and due to the cool sea breeze and clay soil, similar to ones from northern France, the region is unique in South Africa and known for its pinot noir and chardonnay. The wine farms are relatively young, the oldest being Hamilton Russell at only 35-years; however the commitment to expression of terroir and quality are proven in the taste.

What to see and do

Take time to explore the markets or take a hike:

The Hermanus Market used to be held at Fernkloof Nature Reserve but is now run from the Montessori school. There are approximately 30 stalls, shaded by tall trees, where items for sale range from homemade cheese and children’s clothing to artwork and jewellery. The setting is rural, the goods are locally produced, many from people who have participated in the market since its inception almost three-years ago. There are plans to build a permanent market with wooden stalls but for now, shoppers enjoy steaming hot filter coffee or freshly brewed tea while wandering around.

From trees and nature to concrete and modernity, the other market is next to the Olive Tree Country House, Hermanus-Pietersfontein, located at the entrance to the Hemel-en-AardeValley. Founded in 1855 the farm is said to be home to the winemaker Bartho Eksteen. The idea behind this market is to pick up a plate at the entrance and collect goodies to taste along the way beneath a sheltered veranda. Whether it is samples from the enormous Hermanus-Pietersfonteinwine range, coffee, cheese, savouries or sweets, shoppers are sure to fill their plates. A number of the wines are named after the founders, such as Die Brtho, Die Martha, Posmeester – the person who got tired of writing out the long name and abbreviated it to Hermanus.

If you haven’t had enough wine-tasting, visit the nearby Whalehaven Wines and watch the ocean while sampling. But for the best views, and affordable food, go to La Vierge. Another new winery is Sumaridge which also offers light lunches and a self-catering guesthouse.

Explore the 60km network of trails at Fernkloof Nature Reserve above Hermanus. The trails are for people of all fitness levels and offer magnificent views across WalkerBay, the Hemel en AardeValley and Maanskynbaai. With 1 474 plants, nowhere on earth has so many species growing in such close proximity. Fernkloof Nature Reserve climbs the KleinrivierMountains, incorporating coastal and mountain fynbos and a patch of evergreen forest. The reserve also protects the Cliff Path, the MosselRiver valley, De Mond to Kettle Point and the mouth of the VogelgatRiver and part of the KleinRiver lagoon.

The reserve lies on the northern side of the town, sign posted from the main road. Entrance is free and the trails start from the visitor’s centre where there is a permanent display of some of the flowers in bloom.

An easier option is the 10km Cliff Path where hikers can stop now and then to enjoy the fynbos and watch whales in season (July – Nov), which seems to be getting longer every year.

Food and entertainment

We had sundowners and watched the Kiwis play the Springboks at the Harbour Rock and Gecko Bar. There is no shortage of restaurants in Hermanus but we concocted a pasta and salad at the well-appointed Olive Tree Country House on our first night. Tempted to have a braai on the patio next evening, instead we enjoyed Pakistani food at the Hemel-en-AardeVillage shopping centre.

For lunch we tucked into home-made bread, cheeses and veggies we had purchased at the markets.

Where to stay

We stayed at Olive Tree County House, located at the entrance to the Hemel en AardeValley on what was the Glenfruin Farm. This self-catering accommodation offers a peaceful getaway, privacy and security and is fully equipped with all modern conveniences, including microwave, stove, television with DSTV and DVD player.

There are four double bedrooms with two bathrooms, both with bath and shower. The lounge area has a fireplace and opens onto the swimming pool patio in a spacious garden which opens onto a stream and hilly backdrop.

This Sneaky Weekender was recommended by: Pictures and story by Karen Watkins of Rondebosch, Cape Town

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the Sneaky Weekender articles on this website, do not necessarily reflect the views of Finding Africa.

Hemel n Aarde Valley
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