Up Close Tours visits Darling

More uses for an old bath
(Courtesy of http://www.upclosetours.co.za/blog/visit-darling/)

This blog post is courtesy of http://www.upclosetours.co.za/blog/visit-darling/

Driving north from Cape Town on the R27 (take the R307 turnoff) for 72km will take you to Darling, a small town with its own wine route and a very special station. Since 1996, this station has been taken over by Evita se Perron, a restaurant-cum-playhouse-cum-art gallery owned by Tannie Evita Bezhuidenhout, otherwise known as Pieter Dirk-Uys. Evita se Perron put Darling firmly on the map and if you are looking to be thoroughly entertained followed up by an excellent meal, make a booking here.

Evita se Perron at Darling station
(Courtesy of http://www.upclosetours.co.za/blog/visit-darling/)

The Darling info centre/museum in the old town hall is open 7 days a week and has a nice display of old agricultural implements including a wheat carbine that looks like something built for the Will Smith movie Wild, Wild West. While at the museum, ask the friendly curator to show you the fascinating antique photographic glass slide collection.

There are four splendid wines farms on the Darling wine route (Cloof, Darling Cellars, Groote Post and Ormonde Vineyards) with only one – Groote Post – open on a Sunday.

The Hildebrand Monument is just outside the town and the curator at the museum can give you a very interesting insight into the death of this Boer commando.

The Voorkamerfest takes place in September and the concept here is that ticket-holders are driven by taxi to three mystery homes where they will experience some form of art (drama, mime, comedy or cabaret) in the homeowners lounge!  Stalls are setup throughout the town offering arts & crafts, food and wine tasting.

The roads around Darling are bordered by masses of white arum lilies in the winter. It’s illegal to collect them but stop and see if you can find the elusive and striking Arum Lily Frog that lives in the flower of the lily. Spring is flower season when Darling and surrounding towns are swamped with visitors. During this period, the Tinie Versfeld Flower Reserve just outside Darling is filled with an amazing array of flowers.

Other towns & places worth visiting in the area are:

  1. Groote Post farm

Named after a cattle guarding station, this 18th century farm continues its livestock breeding and dairy tradition but also includes an award winning winery and onsite restaurant serving modern country meals from the historic manor house

2.  Mamre

Originally a mission station dating back to the early 19th century, Mamre has a number of interesting places to visit –

  • There is a fantastic community-driven tour called the Mamre Donkey Trail where you take a donkey cart ride around the town escorted by a local guide. It’s a highly unusual tour worth taking and includes a meal, all at a very reasonable price
  • The Moravian mission station (church, water mill and VOC soldier’s barracks) visit is included in the above tour or drive to the site yourself
  • Visit the old goal in Mamre
  • Just outside the town is a nature garden containing indigenous plants

3.  Philadelphia

On your return to Cape Town, remain on the R307 and look out for a left turn to Philadelphia.  The town is a few 100 meters off the R307 (note that the R307 will take you back to Cape Town via the N7 highway). If I had money for a country home, this little picturesque town is where I would buy. Dominated by the huge church at its entrance, the town has a number of quirky shops, galleries, studios and restaurants. Of particular interest are the Crystals and Gemstones store and Pepper Tree Art Stable & Coffee Shop

4.  West Coast Ostrich Farm

On the N7 highway, the ostrich farm is well signposted. Visit to find out about the ostrich, its breeding & feeding habits and if you want some excitement, sit on one for a good photo opportunity

So, if you are looking for something unusual to do on a day trip, Darling and surrounding towns are worth visiting.

NOTE: Please don’t drink and drive, rather arrange a tour through us and never walk alone in any of the nature parks, we can assist with a guide. Our contact details can be found here:www.upclosetours.co.za/contact-us

This is the fourth in a series of blogs where we highlight some of the fantastic offerings in Cape Town’s neighbouring cities and towns. Look out for the next blog describing the nearby wheat region!

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I ♥ Darling Because…

This Q&A article was first published on the SA-Venues blog: http://blog.sa-venues.com/provinces/western-cape/love-darling

 

Hi, I’m Paul Martin from Aloe Cottage in Darling.

Darling IS BEST KNOWN FOR its won­der­fully diverse spring flowers, the Voorkamerfest Theatre and Arts FestivalEvita se Perron (the home of Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout), great wine farms, art gal­ler­ies, country-style res­taur­ants and bis­tros, the Duckitt orchid nurs­ery, the friendly small-town atmo­sphere and relaxed coun­try life.
GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT Evita se Perron where you can pose as “the most fam­ous white woman in South Africa” and take a humor­ous trip down South Africa’s memory lane at Boerassic Park.
THE BEST spring flower PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN AT the Tinie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve, Waylands Flower Reserve or at the orchid open days at Duckitt Nurseries on the first Saturday of the month from May to November.
OTHER HAPPY SNAPS CAN BE TAKEN while sip­ping wine at some of the local wine farms like Ormonde, CloofDarling CellarsGroote Post and Tukulu.

WHEN THE WEATHER’S GOOD, I LIKE TO cycle around the vil­lage and farm­lands with my cam­era. The Nguni cattle at Oude Post Farm are par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful with their speckled hides and long horns.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD, I LIKE TO browse the amaz­ing selec­tion of books at Book League.
I THINK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT IS any time of the year, BECAUSE sum­mer offers trips to nearby Yzerfontein beach and long warm even­ings around the braai. The Darling Music Experience clas­sical fest­ival takes place in February. Autumn is ideal for wine tast­ing while the vine­yards turn to orange and gold. Winter brings misty morn­ing walks, and cosy nights with good food and wine. Spring brings the annual Darling Wildflower Show, Voorkamerfest, Rocking the Daisies music fest­ival and so much more …

MY FAVOURITE BREAKFAST SPOT IS Chicory Cheese Café or Brig’s Barn.

FOR LUNCH, I SUGGEST The Marmalade Cat.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IS Bistro Seven, TRY THE Eisbein.
BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK FROM Café Mosaic, known by the loc­als as ‘The Stoep’.
MY FAVOURITE bar­gain hunt­ing SPOT IS The Mantis Trading Store.
FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN TRY Kraalbosdam on a Friday night.
IF YOU WANT TO MEET LOCALS, GO TO the Darling Country Market on the first Saturday morn­ing of the month at the Nitrophoska Building.

Darling’s BEST KEPT SECRET IS the local butchery, Darling Vleismark, per­fect for stock­ing up before return­ing to the city. And don’t miss the cheap homemade jams at the till!
MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO WITH FRIENDS IS enjoy the local beer, Darling Brew, avail­able at most res­taur­ants in Darling.

FOR SOME CULTURE , I LIKE TO GO TO the Voorkamerfest in September, where per­formers from South Africa and around the world give intim­ate per­form­ances in the ‘voork­amers’ (lounges) of houses in Darling. It is not to be missed.

TO RELAX AND RESTORE MY SOUL, I LIKE TO enjoy the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings.
IF YOU’RE FEELING ADVENTUROUS, TRY mak­ing your own wine at the annual Darling Cellars Crush Day.
MY FAVOURITE WALK IS with my dogs at the Renosterveld Reserve at the top of the hill, where you have pan­or­amic views of the vil­lage and sur­round­ing farm­lands.
MY FAVOURITE gift and home­ware SHOP IS is the beau­ti­ful ware­house at the back of The Marmalade Cat.

MY FAVOURITE bird WATCHING SPOT IS from the kit­chen win­dow at Aloe Cottage, where the weaver birds put on a fant­astic dis­play build­ing their nests and show­ing off their dexterity.

IF YOU’RE HERE IN July, JOIN IN THE FUN AT Christmas in July at Evita se Perron.

MY FAVOURITE MUSEUM IS Darling Museum. Discover how Darling got its name and don’t miss the little shop; Ouma’s Treasures.
MY FAVOURITE BUILDING IS Koekemakranka Backpackers, FOR ITS cre­at­ive and whacky interior, cre­ated by local artist and co-owner Omnia Grobler.

TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN? A FUN OUTING IS Lelieblom Farm Restaurant where the kids can see and touch farm anim­als. Enjoy a lazy week­end lunch where you dine with your hosts and enjoy true coun­try hospitality.

BEST CHEAP AND CHEERFUL OUTING IS tak­ing a leis­urely drive around the coun­tryside.
WHEN MONEY’S NO OBJECT, I LIKE TO go wine tast­ing, stock up my cel­lar with excel­lent local wines, then enjoy a cel­eb­rat­ory meal at Hilda’s Kitchen at Groote Post.

THE MOST UNUSUAL THING I SEE HERE IS the dif­fer­ence that one per­son, Pieter-Dirk Uys, has made to a com­munity by put­ting Darling on the map and giv­ing so much to sup­port devel­op­ment pro­jects in the area.
MY FAVOURITE WEEKEND GETAWAY IS Aloe Cottage, of course!
WHEN I WANT TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY, I sup­port The Darling Trust.

I ♥ Darling BECAUSE the people are friendly and wel­com­ing, the vil­lage is authen­tic and not overly touristy, and it’s an hour from Cape Town… but a world away!

Aloe Cottage

Aloe Cottage offers lux­ury self-catering hol­i­day accom­mod­a­tion in Darling, near to Cape Town, South Africa. We are pet-friendly! The hol­i­day home has been beau­ti­fully dec­or­ated with top qual­ity linen, fur­niture and art­work and enjoys pos­sibly the best views in Darling — over rolling hills and farm­lands to the dis­tant moun­tains. Aloe Cottage is the per­fect romantic get­away for couples as well as for week­ends away with friends or fam­ily holidays.

Visit Aloe Cottage
View Rates or make a Booking

Desirable Digits

Chicory Cheese — +27 (0)72 852‑6644
Brig’s Barn — +27 (0)22 492‑2451
The Marmalade Cat — +27 (0)22 492‑2515
Bistro Seven — +27 (0)22 492‑3626
Café Mosaic — +27 (0)22 492‑2307
Kraalbosdam — +27 (0)22 492‑3803
Lelieblom Farmhouse — +27 (0)82 573‑7736

Introducing the Darling Stagger

Are you a hardcore mountain lover, a twitcher, or botanist, do you want to take your family on an easy walk to appreciate nature? Do you see yourself as a  modern-day strandloper?

The Darling Stagger (launching September 2011) :- A slow-paced, mouth-watering hiking trail from the hills of Darling through wine and olive farms to !Khwa ttu San Cultural Centre and down to Yzerfontein on the coast.

It’s great to see South Africans finally picking up on what the Italians have known for centuries; that this is the way life is meant to be lived – slowly and simply, with good food and wine and good company, in a natural, outdoor setting. This is a trail for those who know how to experience the good things in life.

This 2.5 day, 25km trail begins in Darling. Tucked away between hills of vineyards and golden wheat fields, the trail winds through olive groves and wine farms up to the highest point in Darling where you will take your time sampling local fruits of the vine direct from the farmer.

The trail then meanders through renosterveld and fynbos full of flowers, game and birds, en route to !Khwa ttu where you spend the first night at the unique San Cultural Centre. After a leisurely breakfast, we continue downhill through the strandveld to Tygerfontein Farm along the coast to Yzerfontein, sampling local seafood along the way.

These new 2.5 day slackpacking trails, without the schlep, are guided and catered, comfortable and safe.  Hikers carry a small daypack, lifts and luggage are organised and local folk and restaurants prepare meals in traditional West Coast style.

For more information, full itineraries and prices and to book please call or email.

 

The Darling Stagger Slack Packing Trail

Review by Louise de Waal

Courtesy of http://baobabtravel.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/the-darling-stagger-slack-packing-trail/ 

 

Earlier this month (July 2011) the Cape West Coast Trails were launched within the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve (CWCBR). The CWCBR, with the West Coast National Park at its centre, is one of the 6 UNESCO recognised Biosphere Reserves in South Africa.

Paul and I were invited to explore the brand new Darling Stagger, a cycling and walking slack packing trail between Yzerfontein and Darling. The Darling Stagger is one of the five trails planned within the CWCBR. The other four include the Eve’s Trail (a walk mostly along the West Coast National Park beach), the Five Bay Trail (a coast hugging walk between Paternoster and Jacobsbaai), Wheels of Time (a cycling tour from Mamre via West Coast National Park to !Khwa Ttu), and the Berg River Canooze (a kayak trail from Hopefield to Velddrift).

Why a Biosphere Reserve?

With Cape Town rapidly expanding north, West Coast communities recognised that action was required to ensure that conflict between urban expansion and the diverse ecosystems on the West Coast would not get out of hand and appropriate development plans were put into place. Hence the CWCBR was proclaimed in 2000.

The idea behind the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme is a sustainable and balanced approach between human development and nature conservation. Part of the sustainable development of the CWCBR is enhancing its tourism potential and the Cape West Coast Trails are part of this philosophy.

The Darling Stagger Stage 1

At lunch time we left Cape Town on an unseasonally warm & sunny day. The meeting point just outside Darling at Alexanderfontein Farm was also the first activity of the weekend. Olive tasting at the home of Darling Olives is an all-round olive education on growing, pressing, and use of these originally Mediterranean fruits. As a non-olive eater, I was fascinated and partly converted. A total surprise to see how many uses olives can have. From your simple virgin olive oil and cured olives to olive pastes and olive cooking & bath salts. Maybe I am pretty ignorant when it comes to these little fruits, but the biggest revelation was to learn that black olives are just ripe green ones. Always believed these were different types….

After this olive experience we set off to !Khwa ttu, San Education and Culture Centre and home for the night. We worked up a bit of an appetite with a cycle from the Bush Village Camp to the Atlantic Ocean for a traditional African sundowner. Staying in locavore style, we had a Darling Brew, a slow beer inspired by the rare geometric tortoise. Although a reasonably light beer, the return cycle was far more challenging than the first leg. Or maybe it was more due to the fact that we ended up cycling in the pitch dark, under the most magnificent night sky? The Scorpio constellation was a gentle reminder that it really still is winter in South Africa.

Returning to camp, a typical West Coast dinner was awaiting us, mussel soup, grilled snoek, and several traditional deserts prepared by Natasha and Cariline from Langebaan. All flushed down with the lightly wooded Quercus Gold Chardonnay from the Darling Cellars.

Was this setting the standard for the rest of this slack packing weekend? Can it get even better?

The Real Darling Stagger

Waking up after a chilly but comfortable night, I bumped into yet more great cooks. Natasha & Kyle from Chefs on the Move in Scarborough, although not quite Darling local, were here to show our guides, Morgan and Jacky, what can be achieved with some TLC and fresh ingredients. For a change I was not the odd one out, the lonesome vegetarian, the one declining a full cooked breakfast. This time breakfast consisted of Mobi’s organic granola with fruit & yoghurt, a vegetarian spicy Lebanese take on a cooked breakfast and good quality coffee. Basically I was in heaven.

Coming down to earth with a bang, I realised why this weekend was called the Darling Stagger. After all this fabulous food, walking is no longer an option. So we just staggered to !Khwa ttu, where Ivan gave us an introduction to San medicinal knowledge of the Fynbos vegetation. Fynbos is not only the most diverse vegetation types known on earth, it is also rich in medicinal purposes.

From !Khwa ttu we walked through the fields, vineyards, and olive groves of Ormonde and Alexanderfontein with stunning views of Table Mountain, Dassen Island, and the Atlantic Ocean behind us. The terrain varies from sandy & grid tracks to some tarmac roads or just through the fields. The trail is not hard, you only carry your day pack and the distance is limited to about 15 km. I had no problems at all, so basically anybody in reasonable shape can do it.

After about three quarters of the hike, we arrived at an idyllic setting in the olive groves, where a Bedouin type tent was erected, straw bales set out to give the old legs a good rest and a delicious light lunch of salads ready to be devoured. Natasha, Kyle and Morgan had done an sterling job!

The last stage of the stagger was fortunately mostly downhill, a good thing as drinking wine at lunchtime and climbing hills is not a good combination. Little did we know however that more wine was on the itinerary with a full blown Ormonde wine tasting. For some strange reason, nobody seems to quite remember how many wines we tried, but I can tell you we sampled the whole Alexanderfontein, Ondine, and Ormonde ranges.

The evening programme was the cherry on the cake – Evita Bezuidenhout’s Christmas in July show and babotie at Evita se Perron in Darling. Having heard so much about Evita se Perron and Pieter-Dirk Uys’ character Evita Bezuidenhout, I can confirm that all the praise is well-deserved and more. She is not only funny, but very sharp and willing to stick her neck out by tackling political issues in a way that everybody, regardless age, gender and race, will listen to and take note off. In addition, she does amazing work raising funds for the Darling Trust. Girl you totally rock!

The Darling Stagger finale

The second night we stayed in the heart of the sleepy village of Darling in Trinity Lodge. Here you don’t need an alarm on Sunday, as the church bells, calling Darling’s community to the early morning service, wake you well on time for breakfast.

After breakfast it was time to burn some of those calories with a short cycle through the village, a visit to the fascinating Darling museum and Nicolaas Maritz’s Studio Gallery.  Nicolaas, a well-established local artist, decided it was time to have a proper Studio Gallery, so people can have a look ‘behind the work’ and understand it better. He created the most incredible house full to the rafters with art, mostly his own but also some of his fellow South African artists. You roam from one room into the next, into his waterwise garden and his studio, and lose yourself in his intriguing work described by art critics as zippy, post-modern ethno-centric punk, naive, and challenging. No idea what that means, but I love his work.

The finale to the Darling Stagger is wine tasting and lunch at the historic Groote Post wine farm. I have always liked their wines, but the Groote Post Chenin Blanc 2011 is exceptionally good and great value for money. The mini ‘Ice Age’ last spring led to a very late harvest of this cultivar and the beautiful guava and green-apple flavours.

Overall the Darling Stagger slack packing trail was a great success with fabulous food, wine tasting to make anybody’s mouth water, mixed with a good amount of calorie burning of walking and cycling, and great company. Thank you guys for hosting us!

tel: 086 187 2457 (TRAILS)
Cape West Coast Biosphere Central Office: 022 451 2648
Cape West Coast Biosphere Hub R27: 022 492 2750
083 261 7960 (Ivan)
083 628 3426 (Sheryl)
email: trails@capebiosphere.co.za
web: www.capebiosphere.co.za/trails
notes: Special offer! Ask about reduced prices on initial exploratory trails.

Vyge Valley wine house re-opening

Vyge Valley Wine Shop

Vygevallei has new owners: – Juan Louw (snr) and Juan (jnr) from Nuweland farm and Winery took over the Vyge Valley Farm Stall in March and will re-open the Wine house on 21st of April over the Easter weekend.

 

The following eight wineries are going to participate in wine tastings at the wine shop over this period.

 

Nuweland wine cellar:

Wines at CELLAR PRICE. Nuweland are known for its dessert wines, but the white wines that were bottled last year are just as good.

There will also be tasters of Nuweland’s gourmet preserves that consist of chilli jelly, olive and lemon jam, Mediterranean chutney, etc. Nuweland Gourmet preserves has over 30products at the farmstall, all homemade by Mariëtte Louw.

Muscat ‘d Frontignan 2009 (4stars Platter) Muskadel

Muscat ‘d Alexandrie 2009 (4stars platter) Hanepoot

Straw wine 2008 (4stars platter) Hanepoot

Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ( 4 stars by Niel Pendock) Only 40 cases left at R35.

Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Semillon Blend only 50 cases left 

 

Wine from the Darling Region:

 

Groote Post:

Weisser Riesling: 2008 ( 4stars platter, Bronze Veritas)

Pinot Noir (4stars Platter, Bronze veritas, Bronze decanter)

Old man’s blend 2009 red

Old men’s blend 2010, 2011 white

 

Darling Cellar:

Premium Kroon: ( 2004 Michael Angelo silver, 2003 bronze veritas,  bronze swiss internartional awards, 4star platter)

Petit Verdot Cellarmaster signature selection NO1 petit verdot (NEW)

DC merlot ( Michael Angelo 2009 gold, silver international wine challenge, decanter bronze, best value, veritas bronze)

DC Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (bronze veritas)

DC Chenin Blanc ( bronze veritas)

Flamingo Bay Rosè

 

Cloof Winery

Very Sexy Shiraz 2008 (gold veritas)

Inkspot (4stars platter)

Darling Daisy white (silver veritas)

Darling Rosè

 

Ormonde winery

Alexanderfontein chardonnay

Alexanderfontein Shiraz

Ondine Cabernet Franc

Ondine Semillon

 

Wines from the Swartland region:

 

Org de Rac winery( Organic winery outside Piketberg)

Merlot 2006 ( 4stars platter)

Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Shiraz 2006

Rosè

 

Babylons Peak:

Shiraz Carignan 2009 ( 3 and a half stars platter)

Chenin Blanc 2010 ( 4 stars Platter)

Witty white Pettilant sparkling

 

Black Ridge

Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Chenin Blanc 2010

Shiraz 2010

 

BRING YOUR FRIENDS ALONG AND SHOW THEM WHERE REAL WINE COMES FROM!

Address: R27 (West Coast Road) opposite Jakkalsfontein
tel: 022 492 2586
cell: 078 111 7913
email: juan@nuweland.za.net

 

 

Wine tasting dinners in Darling

A fun-filled Saturday night hosted by the Darling wine producers throughout the month of May.
The evening commences with a tasting of wines from the individual cellars and
is followed by a 3 course gourmet dinner with matching wines selected by the winemaker.

WHERE:
Trinity Lodge, 19 Long St Darling.

WHEN:

1 May – Tukulu
8 May – Ormonde
15 May – Groote Post
22 May – Darling Cellars
29 May – Cloof

COST:

R175 all inclusive per person
Contact – Shaun Mc Laughlin – 083 325 4148 or stay@trinitylodge.co.za

The Wonderful Wines of Darling

Groote Post sauvignon blancA fun-filled Saturday night hosted by the Darling wine producers throughout the month of November.

The evening commences with a tasting of wines from the individual cellars and is followed by a 3 course gourmet dinner with matching wines selected by the winemaker.

WHERE:

Trinity Lodge, 19 Long St Darling.

WHEN:

31 October      – Darling Cellars

7 November    – Cloof

– Wild mushroom risotto (served with Daisy Darling)
– Fragrant lamb and butternut tagine on dried fruit and almond couscous (served with The Sexy Shiraz)

– Pistachio and rosewater pavlova with seasonal fruit and farm cream (served with Chenin Blanc Natural Sweet)

14 November  – Groote Post

21 November – Ormonde Vineyards

28 November – Tukulu

COST:

R175 all inclusive per person

Contact – Shaun Mc Laughlin – 083 325 4148 or stay@trinitylodge.co.za