The Dwars River Valley – or Dwarsrivier valley as it’s also known – owes its name to the Dwars River that runs through it. The valley is made up of the little villages of Pniel, Johannesdal, Kylemore and Lanquedoc. This hidden of the Cape Winelands offers something for everyone – nature lovers, wine connoisseurs, foodies and fitness enthusiasts. The Dwars River Valley is one of those heart-warming areas of the Western Cape that welcomes you with true South African warmth and offers great local experiences.
A Little History behind the Dwars River Valley
The beautiful Dwarsrivier was established when Cecil John Rhodes decided to buy old wine farms in the Groot Drakenstein area – after farms were affected by the phyloxera virus – and start fruit farming instead. Many of the farms in the Dwarsrivier Valley are now returning to wine farming as their primary mode of business.
The communities of Pniel, Johannesdal, Kylemore and Lanquedoc together with the town of Franschhoek, all form part of the Stellenbosch Municipality.
Get a Full History a Lesson at the Pniel Museum
With a current population of approximately 4000 people, Pniel has a very fascinating history. Everything in the village formerly belonged to the church which also enforced a 10pm curfew on the residents. The close-knit community has tried to keep the majority of the land within the families of the village. This seems to have been effective because there are currently no more plots available to purchase. Learn even more at the Pniel museum and have a hearty lunch at the Pniel Museum Tea Garden afterwards.
Contact: +27 21 885 2645
Solms-Delta Wine Estate and Fyndraai Restaurant
Solms-Delta Wine Estate celebrates and embraces South African heritage. My first first to this Cape Winelands wine farm was 4 years ago at their yearly Oesfees and I instantly took a liking to their unapologetic ‘local is lekker’ stance. That is after all what this very blog also stands for! The farm offers a myriad of things to do including: picnics, wine tasting, farm tours and a on site museum.
Good local Cape Malay inspired food is what you’ll find at the unpretentious Fyndraai restaurant. Think glazed pork belly served with mashed potato and pickled spekboom. It’s local with a fine dining twist.
www.solms-delta.co.za/fyndraai-restaurant | +27 21 874 3937
Take a Walk with Faith 4 U Tours
The best way to experience what the Dwars River Valley has to offer is to get out of your car and start walking. Faith 4 U offers historical walks and tours of the Dwarsrivier area and surrounds conducted by experienced local guide, Faith Stubbs. Learn more about the interesting history of Pniel straight from a local resident’s point of view. Faith also offers personalised wine tours – which includes pick-up and drop-off at your Cape Winelands accommodation.
www.faith4utours.co.za | +27 78 157 3737
Stay Overnight at Lumley’s Place Guesthouse
Perched against the backdrop of the Groot Drakenstein Mountain in Pniel, you’ll find the four-star rated bed and breakfast Lumley’s Place. The accommodation has four tastefully decorated rooms which are individually equipped with amenities and have access to the pool. They also support local artists by selling their artworks onsite – which you can browse while waiting for your breakfast to be served.
www.lumleysplace.co.za | +27 21 885 2962
Buy Your Blooms at Flowers Direct
Around the corner from Lumley’s Place, you’ll find Flowers Direct which was founded in 2000 by Ashley Mentoor. It is operated from the Johannesdal village within a residential area. The nursery sells wholesale flowers directly to the public. Alstroemerias are their biggest sellers and at only R40 for a 20 stem bunch, it’s easy to see why. Stock up on fresh flowers after you’ve checked out of your accommodation.
Contact: +27 83 703 4205 | email@example.com
Browse the Street Art in Kylemore
The street art project was founded in partnership with Open Africa and the Dwars River Valley community. The creations are interesting in the sense that they tell a story of past, present and future. They also make for a great contrast with the Cape Winelands lush greenery. Each unique artwork is numbered and there are 12 in total scattered across the four villages in the area. Try to spot them all!
Have a Hearty Meal at Beker en Bord – Siena’s Tea Garden
A drive further into Kylemore will take you to Aunty Siena’s Tea Garden which has been serving home cooked fuss-free South African food since 2010. Kerrie afval, stamp mielies and kool bredie are just a few of the mouth-watering meals you can expect to be served at this homebased restaurant. Eat outside in Siena’s quirky garden or in the shaded yard whilst browsing the curios on sale. Just be sure to confirm your attendance for lunch a day in advance.
Contact +27 78 912 9604
Cape Dutch Style Houses at Lanquedoc
Lanquedoc is the epitome of a childhood fairy tale village. Hundred year old houses line the main street; all built in a same Cape Dutch Style. One of these houses stand out in particular – 140 years old, still in immaculate condition and maintained to this day by the original owner’s family! The Dwars River runs through the little village which you’ll see on your way in whilst driving over the one-way bridge.
More Things to Do in the Dwars River Valley
The Dwarsrivier area also hosts a range of events throughout the year which attracts scores of visitors. The Dwarsrivier Valley Orchard Run held at Boschendal Wine Estate and the ATKV Solms-Delta Oesfees are particularly popular. However, the Pniel Church Flower Festival and the release of the slaves festival held in December each year are also worth a visit.
*I was hosted in the Dwars River Valley during November, as part of a Cultural and Heritage media educational arranged by the Dwarsrivier Valley Tourism board. As always; all views are my own, uninfluenced and completely honest.