A return to the finer things in South Africa’s Cederberg wine region
After a rather long day at our camp yesterday on the Namibian side of the Orange River, we load up the truck and set off this morning at 530am for a big day of driving. As much as I’d like to just go immediately to sleep in my seat, there’s little point— ten minutes later, we have to go through the Namibian border to get exit stamps and then drive to the nearby South African border to pass through their passport control and customs. Thankfully, the lines are incredibly short at this time of the morning, so we are soon back in the truck and able to get a few hours of sleep before stopping for fuel in Springbok. Most of the group spends our 45 minute break at Wimpy’s eating a second breakfast (or, in my case, a first breakfast of hamburger and fries) and then we pile back into the truck for the rest of our agonisingly long drive.
All the details: Cederberg Wine Region
Cost: Taste 6 wines from the Cederberg region for R100.
Getting there: Cederberg is about 250km north of Cape Town, so the best way to reach this region is to drive.
Where to stay: Stay in one of the beautiful en-suite, air-conditioned cottages at Highlanders for about R400 per room. The property also has beautiful vineyard views, a cool pool, and a lively bar/ restaurant.
Top tips: Sample a few of the local cheese platters with your wine tasting.
Once we arrive in Cederberg around 3pm, though, all of our time on the road has been worth it— our little camp is surrounded by vines and the beautiful mountains so characteristic of the Western Cape, all visible from a delightfully chilly pool perched on a hill by the bar and restaurant. Since it’s the last official night of our overlanding, Nicole and I spring for a R320 upgrade to a room (after nearly 3 weeks of sweating it out in the tents, it’s pretty difficult to turn down air conditioning and a private shower). As usual, we seem to be the only guests staying, so we have the pool and the outdoor area all to ourselves after we move into our fancy room for the night. We all hang out for a bit, indulge in a few pre-wine-tasting wines, and then skip back to our rooms/tents to get ready.
Even though the wine tasting is only at the outdoor bar area not 100m from my room, it’s still a perfect opportunity to get spruced up (our last night, after all) so everyone is looking considerably cleaner than usual when we congregate at 430pm. The manager walks us through 6 different wines, including a Muscat and sparkling, and then we split a few bottles between us before dinner is served. Rachel makes a lovely goodbye speech, quoting the famous “we travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”, and Sam even says a few sappy things to the group over our dessert. Sitting here with everyone, looking out over the rows of grapes and the beautiful mountains, it’s starting to dawn on me that I’ll soon have to say goodbye to Africa and go back to reality, which is crushing. I am so not ready for the adventure to end, and I’m overwhelmed by all that’s happened these last 2 months. More excitement than I ever could have dreamed up.
The rest of the evening is spent drinking far too much wine, boogying the night away in the little bar, instigating my signature drunk D&Ms, trying to learn Franco’s fancy Afrikaans swing dance, hopping into the pool for an evening dip, and just generally going out with a huge bang. Laying in the room with Di and Nicole, waiting for the clock to tick over to midnight so everyone can say happy birthday, it’s difficult to imagine a better group of people to spend my birthday with (if only Cal were here). We’ve been like a little family these last 3 weeks, more so than I ever expected, so it will be truly hard not to see these people every day when I’m back in Wollongong. (On the bright side, almost the whole group is from Aus, so a reunion may be on the cards.)