To read about this trip from the beginning – click here.
|General Jan Smuts with Albert Luthuli|
This area is birthplace to one fondly remembered political leader and another less so. Field Marshall Jan Christiaan Smuts was born in Riebeek West. He fought in both world wars and was head of state for South Africa twice. He is credited as the father of Holism. What is Holism? Smuts defined Holism as the “tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution”. He was also instrumental in keeping South Africa on good terms with Europe and the west. He had a big role in establishing the League of Nations. Smuts spent a considerable amount of time out the country which was viewed with negatively by the opposition National Party and contributed to his downfall. Jan Smuts was an avid outdoorsman and nature lover. He took great pleasure in taking the British royal family amongst others on hikes in the South African mountains.
|Smuts with the British royal family in The Drakensberg|
The other politician from the area is Daniel Francois Malan. He succeeded Smuts and is widely known as the architect of apartheid. The National Party got into power and proceeded to implement racist Apartheid policies. He was born in Riebeek Kasteel. His descendants still run the wine farm Allesverloren successfully. Malan’s descendants or family do not all share their ancestor’s ideologies. Riaan Malan wrote an excellent book called My Traitor’s Heart sharing his views on people and politics in South Africa after spending much time abroad.
|D F Malan|
What to do in the Riebeek Valley? The Tourism Office was friendly but not that helpful. We waited over half an hour for them to open during time they were supposed to be open. Once inside they had a quirky free map which they happily gave us. But volunteered almost no info. We had to ask. Are there good hikes? Um, yes. They have the Carl Thunberg Route and the Pieter Cruythoff Route.
Neither are a Sunday leisurely stroll – but hey we would have liked to know about them. You apparently need a permit so they – whoever they is – know who is on the mountain for safety purposes. You supposedly get a permit from the Tourism Office or The Royal Hotel. Except the Tourism Office can’t afford to print permits so they don’t have any. You also need consent from the wine farm as the hikes are on private property. Some wine farmers get a bit upset when ramblers help themselves to grapes. Understandably so.
We decided to do the Pieter Cruythoff route as it was shorter and easier. You start at Pulpit Rock Winery. The woman there was super helpful and gave us a laminated copy of a map. The route is overgrown and we gave up trying to find the path and just walked as much as we could. We decided to do a spot of wine tasting while we there. Such nice wines. And the best prices. How could we not buy wine? We ended up with two cases of wine.
|Pulpit Rock Hike|
There are more hikes further out – Silverfontein Hiking Trail on the slopes on the Elandskloofberge, Waterfall Forestry Reserve (contact Tulbagh Tourism Office), Murludi Hiking Trail (north of Tulbagh) and Die Hel or Groot Winterhoek. Perhaps they are more structured. Turns out there are cycle routes too. Not sure about permits as we aren’t cyclists.
|Funky Fresh Market Riebeek Kasteel|
We also asked at the Tourism Office if they had any markets. Yip, they have the Funky Fresh Market on the first Saturday on the month in Riebeek West. There was even a leaflet on it. Not the biggest market in the world I will admit, but it’s a market. It’s next to the main road. You can hardly miss it. They sell items like hand crafted soaps and jewellery, fresh juices and smoothies, artisan bread, home made food, coffee, antiques and loads more interesting stuff. There is also a Sunday Market @ The Barn. We weren’t told about it, so we never got to visit that one. And there is a museum at De Oude Kerk. We discovered that by driving the History Route. Actually there is LOT to do.
Luckily we discovered a whole lot going on in Riebeek Kasteel by accident when we went to the Royal Hotel to catch up on comms. The Royal Hotel is the oldest hotel in South Africa. It’s the top place to visit on Trip Advisor, plus they do really good coffee. When you sign up for their bfound wi-fi you can subscribe to the Riebeek Valley Newsletter. So perhaps do your own planning to ensure you won’t miss out on stuff to see and do. Go to email@example.com.
Read the rest of this article – here.
For more on places we have visited click on the My Holidays and Trips page.