- 13 Jan 2017
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Why You Can't Sleep Late in Riebeek-Kasteel
Barely a blip on the radar a decade ago, the little Swartland town of Riebeek-Kasteel has become a centre of all things collectible and delectable, a thriving hotbed of artisanal creativity and family-run fooderies in a breathtaking setting.
The route from Cape Town on the N7 is fairly straightforward, and once you're through Malmesbury and on the R46 heading towards Kasteelberg, expect lovely vistas of rolling farmlands. The cherry on top is the breathtaking view down into the valley from the top of the Bothmaskloof Pass.
If you're approaching from the north and want to take the scenic route, turn right onto the R43 off the N1 just after Worcester and enjoy a leisurely drive via Wolseley, then turn onto the R46 to Tulbagh. About 5 km after the Nuwekloof Pass (watch out for baboons), turn right towards Zonquasdrift onto a well-maintained dirt road that leads to the heart of the village. Just take care when crossing the railway lines.
There's a vast range of accommodation options, from the luxury of the Royal Hotel to budget-friendly self-catering like De Oude Kasteel, a meticulously restored Victorian house near the village centre. For more options – plus loads of suggestions of things to do, see and eat – visit Riebeek Valley Tourism.
Eat and drink
The jewel in the crown of Riebeek-Kasteel's many eateries is Mama Cucina, a much-loved Italian-style restaurant known for its friendly staff, buzzy vibe and fabulous food. There's also the relaxed outdoor setting of the Red Tin Roof, where the "boerekos with a twist" will hit the spot.
For slap-up breakfasts and luscious baked goods from cupcakes to pies, you can't go wrong at the aptly named family-run bakery Wicked Treats. Or enjoy coffee and cake on the verandah overlooking the town square at Beans About Coffee.
See and do
Sleep in – that is, if the town's roosters and church bells allow you to! Visit the People's Gallery, originally a pop-up during the Solo Studios art weekend, now permanently sited in the Tourism Office. The artworks are amazing, and the people and stories behind them equally so.
Make time to drive all the way around Kasteelberg, travelling in either direction. The route will take you through the twin village of Riebeek West and along the picturesque Riebeeksrivier Road that's edged with farms.
While in Riebeek West, visit the valley's other grand old lady, the Riebeek Valley Hotel, and stroll around the gardens, which contain the biggest collection of heritage roses in the country.
Pop in at Crisp to stock up on farm-fresh veggies, free-range eggs, meats and cheeses, plus many other delicacies. And pick up a loaf of oven-fresh artisanal bread (if there's any left!) from Shake & Bake nearby.
Pop in at Still Pure to stock up on one-of-a-kind gifts and bath products such as handcrafted soaps, all-natural mosquito sprays and luxurious lotions.
Take a drive west out of the village to buy olives, wine, preserves and other goodies from the Olive Boutique,Het Vlock Casteel and Kloovenburg Estate; then head east and pop in at Riebeek Cellars before driving the 5 km down the Zonquasdrift road to Deli-Co farm butchery.
* When planning your weekend trip, bear in mind that some of the outlying wine farms and olive outlets keep "old" South African hours, closing at 1pm on Saturday and not opening on Sunday.
Words: Tracey Hawthorne. Images: Laurel Heritage.