The Breede River Valley 225km

The Breede River Valley.

Paarl

When the Dutch fiskaal (revenue collector), Abraham Gabbema, and his party first saw the granite domes that dominate the Berg River valley glistening like gems in the rising sun in October 1657, he named them the 'Paarl' and the 'Diamant' (Pearl and Diamond). In 1687, Governor Simon van der Stel awarded the first farms in the valley, and in the following year several Huguenots settled here. Paarl Mountain lies within the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, accessible along the 11-km-long Jan Phillips Mountain Drive. The mountain originated some 550 million years ago when granite intruded into the rocks of the Malmesbury Group. Over millions of years the softer, overlying rock was eroded, exposing the more resistant granite outcrops. The Afrikaans language had its formal origins in Paarl in 1875, with the foundation of the Society of True Afrikaaners.

The Afrikaans Language Monument on the southern slopes of Paarl Mountain was unveiled in 1975 to commemorate the birth and development of the Afrikaans language in Paarl a century earlier. To appreciate Paarl's wealth of historic buildings, take a walk down Main Road. Starting at the Strooidak Kerk (Thatched Roof Church), dating back to 1805, the walk takes visitors past Zeederberg Square (surrounded by several historic buildings) to the Afrikaans Language Museum. The only language museum in the world, it focuses on the history of Afrikaans. The walk ends at the Oude Pastorie Museum, built as a parsonage in 1786. The graceful U-shaped manor house, with its pedimented gable, contains a fine collection of antique Cape furniture, silverware and copper.

KWV Brandy Cellars

The KWV (Ko-operatiewe Wijnbouers Vereniging van Zuid-Afrika), founded in 1918,  produces a wide range of internationally renowned wines, port, sherries, brandies and liqueurs. It also supplies local brandy wholesalers with over half their annual requirements. The 22-ha cellar complex is the largest of its kind in the world. A highlight of the cellar tour is the Cathedral Cellar, with its dome-shaped roof, slightly tinted windows and enormous 1 200-litre red wine vats decorated with carvings depicting the Cape's winemaking industry. The tour also includes a visit to the Sherry Cellar, where sherry has been produced since 1937 in accordance with the methods of the Spanish bodegas. Here visitors can see the world's five largest vats under one roof. After operating as a co-operative for nearly 80 years, the KWV was converted to a group of companies in December 1997.

Nederburg Wine Estates

...is one of South Africa's best-known wine cellars, and its wines have received over 1 000 international and national awards. The farm was awarded to Philippus Wolvaart in 1791, and named after the Commissioner-General of the Dutch East India Company, Sebastiaan Nederburg. The beautiful H-shaped Cape Dutch manor house, with its magnificent gable, was completed in 1800. After a succession of owners, Nederburg was acquired by Johann Graue in 1937, and under the talented winemaker Günter Brözel the estate's wines became famous. The extensive range includes red and white wines. sparkling and champagne-style wines and a range of late harvest and dessert wines. Since 1975, the estate has hosted the annual Nederburg Wine Auction, one of the top five wine auctions in the world. Over 1 600 guests and participants attend the event, and annual sales exceed R6 million. Between November and February, visitors on their South African holiday can enjoy picnics on the estate grounds.

Dal Josafat

Dal Josafat, meaning 'Valley of Josafat' was named after the biblical Josaphat, the 'place of judgement' in Joel 3. The first farms in the fertile valley were awarded in 1692, and the area was settled mainly by Huguenots. The valley is noted for its beautifully preserved 18th-century buildings - Roggeland, Non Pareille, Goede Rust, Schoongezicht and Vlakkeland. Dal Josafat is closely associated with the development of the Afrikaans language, as the Society of True Afrikaaners had its origins in the area. SJ du Toit, founder and leader of the first Afrikaans Language Movement, and his brother, DF du Toit, another founder member of the society, were born on the farm Kleinbosch. In 1880, the farm was bought by another prominent campaigner for the Afrikaans language, Petrus Jacobus Malherbe, the eldest son of Gideon Malherbe and the society's printer.

Wellington

...lies in a picturesque valley originally known as Limiet Valley, regarded by the early Dutch settlers as the boundary or limit of the settlement at the Cape. The town was once famous for its wagon-making industry and became known as Wagenmakersvallei (wagon makers' valley) before it was renamed Wellington in 1840. It is the centre of the country's dried fruit industry and one of the most important centres for growing grafted vines. The twelve cellars on the Wellington Wine Route include Bovlei, Wamakersvallei, Wellington, Jacaranda, Welvanpas, Cape Wine Cellars and Hildenbrand Wine and Olive Estate, and produce a wide variety of white and red wines. Wellington is also well known for its educational institutions, among them Huguenot College and Boland College. Noteworthy buildings include the Dutch Reformed Church (1840), and the various buildings of the old Huguenot Seminary. Just north of the town is a blockhouse, built to guard the railway bridge over the Kromme River, a tributary of the Breede, against Boer guerrilla attacks during the South African War.

Bain's Kloof Pass

...is named after master road builder, Andrew Geddes Bain, who began building the pass in 1849 with convict labour and completed it four years later. The vantage point just below the summit affords motorists spectacular views of the Berg River valley; a little further on, just south of Bain's Kloof village, lie the graves of 11 convicts who died during the construction of the pass. From here the scenic pass follows the winding course of the valley carved by the Wit River between the Limietberg and the Slanghoek mountains. Large sections of the road had to be blasted out of solid rock; one large outcrop, Dacres Pulpit, was left hanging over the road. In some places the road had to be supported by 12-m-high dry-stone retaining walls.

Slanghoek Valley

Bounded by the rugged Slanghoek Mountains in the west, Badsberg to the east and Kleinberg to the north, the Slanghoek Valley is famous for its spectacular mountain scenery. The fertile valley is also noted for the production of quality wines, especially chenin blanc, colombard, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

Goudini Spa

...is centred around thermal springs that bubble to the surface at a temperature of 41°C. The resort comprises indoor and outdoor thermal pools, a jacuzzi-spa complex, conference centre and a variety of recreational facilities. Accommodation consists of rondavels and flats, and there is also a restaurant and a shop.

Worcester

Situated amid rugged mountain scenery on the banks of the Breede River, Worcester is the 'Capital of the Breede River Valley'. About 25 per cent of the area under vineyards in the country lies in the Worcester region, making it one of South Africa's most important wine-producing areas. It is especially noted for its dry and semi-sweet white wines, dessert wines and brandy. The Kleinplasie Open-Air Museum depicts the lifestyles of the early Cape pioneer farmers. The museum comprises 26 buildings and structures representative of agricultural industries in the Western Cape between 1690 and 1900. Daily demonstrations of traditional home industries and activities (witblits distilling, candle making and tobacco rolling) are given. The town of Worcester is also a well-known education centre, and the Nuwe Hoop Centre for the Hearing Impaired, the Institute for the Blind and the Institute for the Deaf are located here.

Villiersdorp

...is the centre of a productive farming area where nectarines, peaches, pears, apples, apricots are grown and wine is produced. Founded in 1843 by Pieter de Villiers, of French Huguenot stock, the town has retained its rural character and atmosphere. Among the town's historic buildings are several Victorian-era cottages, Oude Radyn (1844), Oude Huis (1852) and St Augustine's Anglican Church (1858). A variety of fynbos species can be seen in Villiersdorp Wild Flower Garden and Nature Reserve on the slopes of Aasvoël mountain.

Theewaterskloof Dam

...was built along the course of the Riviersonderend in the 1970s, primarily for irrigation, but also to provide water for domestic use to the Cape Town metropolitan area, Stellenbosch and Paarl. Covering an area of approximately 52 km2, it is the seventh largest dam in South Africa and has a capacity of 483 million m3. It is linked to the Assegaaibos Dam on the Berg River by a 11,7-km-long tunnel, and by a 20-km-long tunnel to the Jonkershoek Dam. During the dry summer months, water is pumped from Theewaterskloof through the tunnels into the two dams, and in winter excess water is pumped into Theewaterskloof. The large dam is a popular destination with water-sport enthusiasts.

Franschhoek

...was established in 1688 when 207 French Huguenots, who had fled France because of religious persecution, arrived at the Cape. The French origins of the town still persist in the surnames of many residents and the distinctly French names of many of the farms in the fertile valley. A prominent landmark on the eastern outskirts of the town is the Huguenot Monument 3; the three arches symbolise the Trinity, while the figure of a woman, with the Bible in her right hand and a broken chain in her left, represents freedom of religious belief. The nearby Huguenot Memorial Museum houses exhibits on the history of the Huguenots, and is also a research, information and education centre. Franschhoek is famous for its many fine restaurants offering Cape Huguenot, French, traditional South African and Malay cuisine.

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