It is spring at last and the fynbos, the natural vegetation of the Cape, is at its most spectacular with hundreds of species in flower. I have been trying to convince myself that it is time to get moving and shake off those nasty winter wobbly bits.
I thought I should start with the La Motte trail in Franschhoek, because that is fairly gentle; 5 kilometres in total. It starts at the tasting room where you pick up your detailed map and follows a circular route through the gardens of the Manor House and restaurant, past the protea nurseries, along the dam wall, past the vineyards and up through the natural fynbos on the slopes of the Wemmershoek mountain. Everyone says the views are brilliant and the Blushing Brides will be in bloom now. The trail is open mornings from Monday to Saturday, with a guided tour on Mondays, leaving at 8am.
Another reasonably gentle trail is the nature walk at Bouchard Finlayson near Hermanus. Like La Motte, Bouchard Finlayson is a Biodiversity and Wine Champion, and they have 100 hectares of protected and superb fynbos. The walk can vary in distance and take anything from 45 minutes to two and a half hours. I love the idea of their special package which consists of the scenic walk, guided by a local botanical fundi, followed by a Bouchard Brunch Board and a wine tasting. (I have walked in the fynbos with a botanist and was captivated by the stories he told us- for example a fly with a 3- inch long probiscus that pollinates specific tubular shaped flowers.)
And then come full moon, I am thinking about the Delvera Full Moon Hike to the top of Klapmutskop (see the Dirtopia website). Imagine sitting on a rock in a yellowwood forest at the top of the koppie, enjoying your picnic as you watch the sun sink behind Table Mountain, and then coming back down again by torchlight. Magic.
In Robertson, Van Loveren Family Vineyards have laid out a 7,5 kilometre trail that goes through the vineyards, crosses the Breede River, and then takes you up to some splendid views of the valley. They have set out excellent information boards along the route so you can learn about your surroundings as you go. It’s definitely another one to add to my list.
And then maybe, just maybe, once I have got fit from these shorter trails, I’ll sign up for the 4-day Green Mountain Trail in the Overberg (www.greenmountaintrail.co.za). It is a guided slackpacking trail that wanders along for 60 kilometres of stunning wild scenery through the 100 000 hectare Kogelberg biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to 1900 plant species- the densest in the world- and over 200 species of birds. You get to sleep in 4 star country guesthouses, eat delicious local food, and visit Beaumont, Oak Valley and Paul Cluver wineries. I know the wines are all excellent, and they must be extra rewarding after all that exercise.
So, now all I have to do is dig out my hiking boots. But before doing that, I think I need another glass of shiraz…