The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Written By Rishi, Goodwill Mountain Farm

 

In Stanford, life is lived close to nature.

We are farmers and gardeners, dog-walkers and mountain-bikers, tree-huggers and flower-smellers. Our intention to live sustainably is a natural extension of our love and enjoyment of the environment that surrounds us. As a visitor, you can experience this by eating a farm-to-table meal, buying hand-made crafts at our markets or meandering through town and peeking in on the many vegetable patches and worm farms that adorn the gardens of the residents. But did you know that Stanford and surrounds is also home to a good handful of reforestation projects? Throughout our beautiful valley, an increasing number of farm owners, organizations and individuals are joining hands to clear alien vegetation and plant indigenous trees, pledging to conserve and protect their young forests for years to come.

This is great news for many reasons. As we face global and local challenges of rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity and desertification, it is becoming ever clearer that we as humans need to act quickly and efficiently to not only mitigate but in fact reverse our negative impact on the environment. And while we are often told about what to do less of – using plastic, flying and eating meat for instance – planting trees is one of the things we can and should be doing much more of.

So why should we plant trees? One of the main reasons is for carbon sequestration. Whereas an average South African will be responsible for 9 tonnes of carbon being emitted per year, an average tree will sequester about 20 kg per year. This means that only 450 trees being planted in your name could offset your carbon for the entire year! Carbon sequestration is only the first chapter of the feel-good story, however. Trees provide us oxygen, they create habitat for animals, insects and other plants and they are wonderful producers of topsoil; a resource that we are losing at an alarming rate both locally and globally. Furthermore, by planting a tree we align ourselves with something far greater than us: by pouring physical effort and personal intention into something that will outlive us, we enter a kind of immortality. When we join with the network of a forest, in which no single element or function can stand alone, we are reminded that we, too, are never alone, but part of a greater whole.

One of our local projects, Trees for Tourism, is a wonderful example of this. An initiative of the non-profit organization South African Reforestation Trust, it brings the whole community together as it acts as a platform for various stakeholders to plant and extend indigenous forest eco-systems. Trees are funded through donations and planted on private properties where the landowners have committed to clearing, reforesting and protecting demarcated sites. Local businesses and organizations, such as Graze Café and African Horse Company among others, have joined as partners and ‘sell’ trees that will be planted out on various sites. One of these sites is located on Goodwill Mountain Farm – a permaculture community, guest farm and retreat where residents and volunteers work together to rehabilitate an invasive forest. Guests are invited to join weekly alien clearing efforts and events are hosted to raise funds for trees. Other forest sites include Farm 215 and Klein River Cheese Farm, where tourism activities and care for the environment go hand in hand in similar ways. To date, Trees for Tourism has planted 16,137 trees at their various sites with the help of donations from locals and visitors alike, showing that we can achieve so much when we come together as a community.

 

Similarly, forest projects at Bodhi Khaya and Platbos also offer visitors the opportunity to get involved. When donating to the newly started project at Bodhi Khaya, one can choose between several packages. Some of these even include other benefits such as accommodation, long-term memberships and donations to the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. At Platbos, the project is unique in that the site is an ancient indigenous forest being expanded, rather than a disturbed area being regenerated. Here in Africa’s most southernmost forest, some trees are estimated to be over 1000 years which, when experienced first-hand, gives one a true sense of the immortal nature of the work being done.

 

Working with the land is not a simple or linear process. A forest, or any piece of wild nature, is comprised of a myriad of connections between different elements, so it makes perfect sense that we organize ourselves in a similar way when attempting to rehabilitate these systems. All the projects mentioned have one thing in common: they leverage the energy of tourism inflow into our area to create a more sustainable future. As a member of the tourism sector, this makes it so that conservation and rehabilitation are part and parcel of running a business, rather than a mere activity on the side. As a visitor, it gives a cohesive experience of the place one is visiting. Rather than seeing just the polished façade, by donating a tree or lending a hand, one is directly in touch with the fundamental workings of that place. Imagine how exciting it is to leave that place even better than how you found it!

Where and how to get involved:

https://saforesttrust.com/

https://www.goodwillmountain.com/

http://www.platbos.co.za/index.html

https://www.bodhikhaya.com/important-initiatives

https://www.stanfordconservationtrust.org.za/

Overberg’s Hidden Gems Revealed by Stanford MTB Classic

The 2020 Stanford MTB Classic, an Overberg MTB Events race, is set to take place on the 29th of February and 1st of March this year. In order to ensure that newcomers and returning riders alike are treated to a spectacular weekend of mountain biking the event’s route has been revamped. It now boasts more singletrack than ever and more opportunities to immerse oneself in the stunning Stanford Valley Guest Farm and Paardenberg surrounds.

 

Offering two days of riding, with a longer (±50 kilometres) and a shorter (±25 kilometres) route options, the Stanford MTB Classic is the perfect active family getaway. Located just 155 kilometres from the Cape Town city centre the race village is an easy Friday afternoon drive away. All entry options include lunches at the Stanford Valley Guest Farm race village and accommodation be can booked separately through Stanford Tourism.

The Stanford Valley Guest Farm and Paardenberg farms have been building new singletracks at a frantic pace since to 2019 Stanford MTB Classic to ensure the riding is better than ever in 2020. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Off the bike the atmosphere is one of relaxed country life. The vast lawns of the race village are dotted with oaks under which riders can unwind in the shade post-stage, sharing stories from the trails or revelling in their shared love of the outdoors. Family members are welcome too with extra meal tickets available to purchase for non-riders. Alternatively, tables can be booked at the venue’s Manor House restaurant; allowing supporters to relax in comfort over a scrumptious meal and a glass of award-winning local wine while the mountain bikers take on the trails. As well as being open for lunches throughout the race, the Manor House will also be open for pre-race breakfasts and sunset dinners.

 

On the bike the riding at the Stanford MTB Classic has been refined. The opening day now features a 40-kilometre loop, which takes in 630 metres of climbing. It starts at Stanford Valley Guest Farm, before heading south towards Óak Grove Farm and the first of the event’s Strava sections, Lucerne Sea. After passing through the Vaalvlei vineyards the route turns towards Stanford itself, passing through the Sir Robert Stanford, Welgesind and Stanford Hills farms. From the highest reaches of their vineyards the valley floor spreads out in an emerald carpet to the south east, showcasing natural fynbos, flower farms and vineyards bordered by mountains to the north and low hills, which separate the valley from the ocean, to the south. After passing the high fences of Winding the route crosses the Kleinrivier and heads for home at the Stanford Valley Guest Farm. The day’s short route option is 27 kilometres in length.

Day 2 now starts with a climb which takes riders past the Stanford Valley Guest Farm dam and along a new singletrack to a spectacular view point. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Stage 2 is the race’s action-packed play day. On the Stanford Valley Guest Farm and Paardenberg farms in particular trail building has been taking place at a frantic pace since the 2019 Stanford MTB Classic. In 2020 it is 53 kilometres long and features 950 metres of climbing. Starting and finishing at Stanford Valley Guest Farm once again; Day 2 begins with a climb, turns left at Lucerne, and takes riders around the Stanford Valley Guest Farm dam and up the new singletrack to the bench. From there it flows down to the start of the new Slipstream singletrack which takes riders over three bridge crossings and snakes all the way up to the Beloftebos Bitterbal Bult singletrack. This features beautiful fynbos and rock formations overlooking Stanford Valley Guest Farm and the Raka wine farm. The trail drops towards Beloftebos to follow the Wabooms River. Skirting the Paardeberg farm lands the route loops south and then west, traversing the Hartebees and Protea Link singletracks on the way back to Stanford Valley Guest Farm.

The existing trails on the Paardenberg farm are still included in the event to ensure there are familiar favourites to reward returning riders. Photo by Oakpics.com.

“It is important for us to showcase the spectacular riding, in a region not traditionally associated with mountain biking” event director Anneke Jacobs explained. “Stanford Valley Guest Farm have put in an exceptional amount of work, building new trails, which mountain bikers will now be able to visit throughout the year. Permits to ride the trails can be purchased at Stanford Valley Guest Farm; which also boasts a restaurant which is open for breakfasts and lunches, as well as accommodation options. The Stanford MTB Classic is thus a first taste of the adventures the Stanford area offers and we hope that participants in the event return for weekends in the platteland later in the year.”

Each climb in the Stanford MTB Classic is well worth the effort as it provides rewards in the form of thrilling downhills and breath-taking views. Photo by Oakpics.com.

“The distances in the Stanford MTB Classic may be short” Jacobs continued. “But the terrain is deceptively tough at times. The longer route option is certainly not for inexperienced mountain bikers. We believe it is perfect though for long-time riders to take part in for the simple pleasure of riding their bikes and for experienced mountain bikers who have yet to take part in a multi-day race to experience their first stage race in. The short distance routes feature much of the longer route’s best scenery, but with less of the exertion. They are ideal for riders with competent bike handling skills but who find themselves short of the fitness required for a three hour, plus, ride.”

The new singletracks wind through pristine fynbos and marvellous sand stone formations. Photo by Oakpics.com.

The Stanford MTB Classic is not a race, in the traditional sense. Times are taken via Strava for designated sections on the route. Each day the man and woman with the fastest combined time for the day will be rewarded with a prize, as will the fastest man and woman, overall, after the two stages.

 

Entries to the event are open, and will remain so until Wednesday the 26th of February. Thereafter riders can enter at registration, but a late entry fee will apply. To enter the 2020 Stanford MTB Classic, which takes place from the 29th of February to the 1st of March, please visit www.stanfordmtbclassic.co.za.

Top 5 Reasons to say “I do” in Stanford

1. Local is very Lekker

Choosing to wed in a small hamlet like Stanford really does become a village affair. From food and wine sourced locally (think farm to fork options and homemade goods), a bouquet of Fynbos and Proteas (abundant in the winter/spring months), to opting for a local baker to design your cake, your wedding can have true country charm from the ground up. Artisanal products made by locals also make the perfect, authentic thank-you gift for guests. Hint: Visit Antjie’s for homemade soaps ideal as small tokens of appreciation or visit the Saturday Morning Market to enquire about homemade fudge or treats as gifts.

We challenge you to return home without knowing the names of your hosts’ dogs as well as three interesting facts about their venue or the village! You might even score one of their grandmothers’ jam recipes.

A gorgeous wedding cake by Caro of Divine by Design & Divine Cupcakes

 

2. Venues Accommodation options for almost every pocket

With a choice of venues and accommodation options scattered in and around the village of Stanford, couples can design their dream wedding according to their budgets. While some parties may choose to stay onsite at the location, the village also offers a number of more affordable overnight options for guests who would like to be close enough to the venue to walk, drive or shuttle to the location. Weddings out of season are also a popular choice for budget-conscious couples and thankfully Stanford’s a “go” all year round –

“In the past, a country wedding was reserved for spring or summer, but so many venues and establishments in and around Stanford have tented options and indoor facilities, so couples can plan a winter or autumn away wedding with confidence,” says Philippa Murray, a Stanford local and volunteer member of the Stanford Tourism Committee.

 

3. Gorgeous Backdrops for your Photographs

From the mountains to the water’s edge, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to wedding photography in and around the village. It’s probably pretty difficult to take a bad wedding photograph what with the abundance of scenery on offer. For some old-world charm, snap some of your photographs in front of some of the quaint heritage houses or Stanford’s oldest church – St Thomas Anglican Church.

 

Wedding alongside the Lagoon captured at Mosaic Private Sanctuary

Beautiful backdrops at White Water Farm

4. Kick off the Honeymoon right away

There’s no need to dash off to a remote destination when you’ve tied the knot in Stanford – you’re already surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty, fantastic food and wine, and plenty to do. Go horseriding on the beach, pamper yourselves at the Rain Milkwood Spa, book an exquisite lunch at Havercroft’s or slow it all right down and stroll hand-in-hand through the village admiring the architecture, wrap-around stoeps and the local wandelpad.

Local photographer Annalize Mouton captures weddings, matric farewells and other special occasions in and around Stanford with the village and river as ideal backdrops.

 

5. Spend quality time with friends and family

Destination weddings allow couples the opportunity to spend additional time with their guests, rather than trying to squeeze it all into one afternoon and evening. Meet up for a wine tasting the day before (Stanford boasts its very own wine route) or go on a cruise down the Klein River – a proudly-Stanford experience and a tourist favourite.

“There is so much on offer in Stanford, something for oldies, young children and families,” Murray says. “A wedding can be a whole weekend experience for guests, and it is a perfect place to come back to, so couples can relive their experience.”

Top wedding venue choices in and around Stanford include:

Reliable shuttle and transport options, including LesP Enterprises and Shuttle Service, for day-trips in the Overberg and along the Stanford Wine Route.

HOT TIP: For bachelor or bachelorette parties – try the area’s vibey wine farms and craft-beer breweries, such as the Jolly Rooster, Misty Mountains Estate, Birkenhead Brewery or Stanford Hills Estate.

 

Stanford: What’s in a name?

In Stanford we just love uncovering history – whether it’s a building’s architectural past, or something about its tenants, function or its geographical positioning. It comes with being a heritage village – we have a natural curiosity for ‘what was’, a curiosity we so enjoy sharing with visitors and friends of our little part of the Overberg. Let’s take a look at the origins of some of the names of establishments, wineries and natural gems in and around Stanford.


Did you know, Springfontein Wine Estate is named for a natural spring found on the property (responsible for keeping the 25 hectares of vineyards irrigated). Follow them on Instagram here.

Just down the road from Springfontein at Mosaic Private Sanctuary, the 1892 Spookhuis is named for well, yes, being haunted (Spook is the Afrikaans for ghost). Follow them on Instagram here.


Blue Gum Country Estate
owes its namesake to a 150-year old Blue Gum on the property. The estates farm roots date back to 1839. Follow them on Instagram here.

Platbos Forest . This ancient forest is named after the Afrikaans word for ‘flat forest or bush’ – when looking down on the property from an elevated road, the forest resembles a “flat green swath of fynbos”. Follow them on Instagram here.

Bodhi Khaya Retreat. A combination of the words enlightenment (or perhaps ‘awakening’ translates closer to the original meaning) coupled with the Zulu word for “home”. Follow them on Instagram here.

White Water Farm. If you think this name dates back to cascading waterfalls, think again. The farm’s chapel is “converted from the old distillery barn, where Witblits (a local liquor like Grappa) used to be made, hence the historic farm’s name – Witwater or White Water.” Follow them on Instagram here.

Bugler’s cottage in the heritage part of the village was one of the original labourer cottages on Sir Robert Stanford’s Farm. Dating back to the early 1860s, it “is the only cottage in Stanford that is still true to its original form, except for internal changes and the addition of a bathroom at the back.”

If you’re looking to supersize your historical knowledge on Stanford, pop into the Tourism Office for a copy of Historical Stanford on Foot (for just R10), then head on to one of our local wine farms and grab a few bottles of their finest, and you’re on your way to being the most interesting person at your next dinner party!

 

 

Hidden treasure and a fynbos adventure in Stanford

Stanford, the place where fynbos, family and freedom are abundant.

By this we mean the freedom to explore the vast landscapes we have filled with the most incredible display of indigenous fynbos.

Did you know that we are even fortunate enough to have two unique species of Fynbos, found nowhere else in the world: The Erica irregularis, growing on the foothills between Stanford and Gansbaai, a gorgeous pink species, and Erica aristata, growing on the Klein River Mountains between Hermanus and Stanford.

Erica aristata. Image: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

So, what better excuse to gather family and friends and set out on a Fynbos adventure?

We start this series of exploration with a highlight on an activity that may entice even your tech-addicted teenager to join you in the fresh mountain air.

If you’ve never tried geocaching, or you’re looking to stay and explore Stanford’s newest hiking trail, crossing over the Klein River Mountains, pack your hiking boots and head to Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, a sho’t left from the historic village centre.

Adding to an already jam-packed list of activities and near-by attractions, Phillipskop Mountain Reserve’s new Haarkapper (Hair Cutter’s) Hiking Trail route connects the private reserve with Tesselaarsdal, nestled behind the Klein River Mountains, via Elzaksa Farm.

The Haarkapper Trail will take you over the Klein River Mountains. Image: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

The unusual route name honours the weekly journey of the famous Tesselaarsdal barber, Jannie Willemse. Jannie was a farmer from the valley and walked 20 km over the mountains to Stanford every Saturday to cut the villagers’ hair.

The 15-km trail follows a figure-of-eight route, offering visitors the option of a longer fynbos-filled mountain hike, says Phillipskop Mountain Reserve owner and manager, Chris Whitehouse. “You can also hike just one way over the mountain if you arrange transport on the other side. Or enjoy a delicious lunch in the historic village of Tesselaarsdal at De Poskantoor (The Post Office),” he says.

Haarkapper Map courtesy of Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

The Haarkapper Hiking Trail is billed as “straightforward but still challenging for anyone with reasonable fitness”. There is an initial steep climb up from the reception at Phillipskop but, after that, the path takes a more gradual ascent towards the ridge before descending via Elzaksa Farm. The return climb follows the same route up the mountain as the 2017 Cape Epic bike ride. On a clear day, views stretch from Sir Lowry’s Pass across to the Langeberg above Swellendam.

“Beginning in 1926, Jannie did this walk every Saturday for over 20 years without fail, faithfully serving his Stanford customers, and clocking up 42,000 km on foot – more than the distance around the Earth,” Chris explains.

Caring for flora and fauna at Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, a 246-hectare (608 acres) privately-owned property, is a labour of love for owner couple, Chris and Anna. English-born, the married pair both completed their doctoral degrees in South Africa – Anna, a Zoologist, specialising in the study of the Addo elephants, and Chris, a botanist who qualified at the University of Cape Town.

Anna and Chris, who have three young sons and bought the farm four years ago, converting the chalets to self-catering accommodation and creating activities to get guests out and exploring. On a hot day, cool off in the reserve’s lily pond or upstream in the Nerine mountain stream pool, visit the picnic tree and play on the rope swing.

More than 700 fynbos species have been identified on the reserve so far. Walking paths range from a four-kilometre picnic option to a six-kilometre route around Phillipskop peak. There’s also an eight-kilometre hike to the highest point on the property, Haarkapper Peak, or scramble up the shortest path to the summit of Phillipskop if you don’t mind a steep climb.

In 2016, ancient rock art was discovered in Phillipskop Cave, the only recorded rock art on the Cape Whale Coast. The site is open to the public.

In the rainy season, a small waterfall flows on the reserve, and there are a pair of fascinating rock stacks, which the family have called ‘David’ and ‘Goliath’.

“We produced a series of bi-monthly guides, which shows 20 common flowers of plants that guests will find on their route at that time of year. Even children can do it and love ticking them off!” adds Chris.

That’s just one way Phillipskop engages young explorers. There’s also geocaching – a GPS-enabled treasure hunt and international craze drawing millions of followers (called ‘geocachers’) around the world.

Using GPS technology, participants find their way to certain points around the reserve. At the location, a watertight plastic container is hidden, containing a logbook to record the finder/finders’ name and the date. A small trinket or souvenir is also hidden inside. If you decide to take anything away, participants must leave something of equal or greater value for the next person to discover.

Geocache box. Image: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

“It has been interesting seeing the engagement,” says Chris, of the concept. “We aren’t avid geocachers ourselves. However, we set up a little loop with six geocaches on the trail via the waterfall and back via the rock stacks. The first day we made it live, two geocachers turned up within two hours in torrential rain.

“What we have found, is families come here, and they’ve never done geocaching before, but they love the experience,” he continues. “It used to be a bit ‘specialist’, and you needed a dedicated GPS unit, but, now, most smartphones have GPS.”

Chris says plenty of geocaches are hidden near Stanford, which opens up even more possibilities for hobbyists to explore more of the village and the Overberg region.

“If you say to the kids, ‘we’re going on a walk’, they might plod along. But, as soon as they’ve got an objective, they run on ahead… they want to get on and find the next one. They’ll want to visit David and Goliath because there is a geocache there. Families really enjoy that aspect.”

Day visitors are welcome at Phillipskop Mountain Reserve (conservation fee R40 per adult, R20 per child) and there are guided walks of approximately two-hours, from R125 per person (minimum four people). Gates open from 08h00 until 17h00.Due to the resident wildlife, dogs aren’t allowed on the reserve. You might see Klipspringer, Black Eagle, or baboons, and keep an eye out for leopard spoor on those trails!

To hike or trail run the new Haarkapper trail, permits need to be purchased in advance at https://www.phillipskop.co.za/permits. These cost R60 per adult and R40 per child under the age of 18.

For overnight stays, Phillipskop offers five self-catering chalets that sleep six adults comfortably in three separate bedrooms. Each unit has a large dining room and kitchen with a living area. Rates are from R1,400 for up to four people and R200 per person extra.

There are regular updates via the Phillipskop Facebook page (@Phillipskop). “We try and educate visitors about fynbos each month via our blog,” Chris adds.

Chris talks excitedly about the future of the business but, conservationists at heart, the family’s priority is clearly to maintain and care for the land. They aim to educate others about responsible fynbos management.

“Apathy is one of the biggest dangers to fynbos,” Chris maintains.

“In the past, fynbos was a self-sustaining ecosystem, but, because of invading alien plants, without correct management we will lose this amazing flora. A lot of what we do here is clearing alien vegetation from our property. We will never be totally clear, but we have made great progress since we arrived.”

For more information about Phillipskop’s range of activities, over-night accommodation and permits to explore the trails and new Haarkapper route, visit www.phillipskop.co.za. Share stories from your stay on Instagram (@PhillipskopSa), Twitter (@PhillipskopSA), and Pinterest (Phillipskop).

Cheers to Whales!

The donning of jerseys and thicker socks marks more than the arrival of winter – it’s whale season and we invite you to combine the best of Stanford’s village atmosphere (think Victorian architecture, antique shopping, foodie hot spots, our own wine route, family fun destinations, river activities and outdoor fun) with whale spotting at our neighbours on the coast.

As the only inland destination on the Cape Whale Coast, Stanford’s body of celebrated water is the Klein River, and although you won’t find whales in her depths, Southern Right Whales can be spotted as close as a 20 minute drive from the village.

These magnificent annual visitors usually arrive around June and can stay as late as November, birthing their young and enjoying our warmer coast before heading home to sub-Antarctic waters. As they frolic and splash visitors flock to watch the spectacle, and who can blame them? The sight of a male Southern Right propelling himself out of the ocean and landing back with an almighty splash (called a breach) is a thrilling sight and kids love waving to the whales as a giant flipper waves back – an action known as pec-slapping.

Image and blog cover image via Cape Whale Coast.

Call ahead to local tourism offices like Kleinmond, Hermanus and Gansbaai, and easily reach wherever the whales are lolling and waving from Stanford. Land-based whale watching can be done at Die Plaat (Cape Nature) if you have a 4×4 or willing feet, or book a fatbike ride or Sundowner Beach trip with Mosaic Private Sanctuary. Many of the Stanford guesthouses and the Stanford Tourism office will help to make you a boat-based booking, or even pack you a picnic basket as you set out on your whale watching expedition. You could even pack your own picnic basket with goodies from the Saturday Morning Market, yum!

Stanford Saturday Morning Market Goodies. Image via: Stanford Saturday Morning Market Facebook

For a sure thing, book aerial whale watching with African Wings. For water-based whale watching, Ivanhoe Sea Safaris (from Gansbaai harbour) and Marine Dynamics (Kleinbaai) offer excellent, ethical whale trips, while many boat operators launch from the Hermanus New Harbour.

Last year’s Mammal Research Institute’s survey yielded some amazing results regarding whale numbers along our coastline, nearly three times the amount counted in 2017. With the impressive total between Hawston and Witsand exceeding 1000 (source), it’s good news for the species, which is recovering after heavy hunting in the 1900s.
Map data copyright 2019 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd – Google Maps

After time spent admiring the leviathans of the bay, unwind back in the village with a celebratory meal, beer or glass of wine and join us in saying Cheers to the Whales this winter! Share your adventures with us online #visitstanford. Stay snug and happy whale spotting!

 

Celebrate #SAHarvest2019 in the Overberg!

Celebrate the Overberg’s juiciest crop and #SAHarvest2019 season with wine tastings, year-round country-style markets, festivals and grape stomping fun along the  Stanford Wine Route.

Western Cape winemakers’ busy harvest season generally starts in January until late March and April. It will be a few months before the fruits of #Harvest2019 are ready to be enjoyed but visitors can enjoy wine tastings, picnics, country-style cooking and overnight stays at many of the Overberg’s award-winning estates, boutique wineries and breweries.

Launched in 2015, the Stanford Wine Route includes producers of top-quality wines and MCC, craft beer, fynbos-infused gin and grappa liqueurs.

Self-drivers can make their way to no fewer than nine member farms along the Stanford Wine Route, which begins just outside of Hermanus in the direction of Gansbaai, less than two hours from Cape Town .
Extend your day trip or weekend stay by combining tours of the acclaimed Hermanus and Bot River Wine Routes, two more popular Cape Whale Coast routes .

Many farms have expanded with family-friendly atmospheres and delicious farm-to-table produce stalls and restaurants operating year round, always in a spectacular outdoor setting.

“Stanford is cool-climate wine country, with a wide variety of soil types that enable the production of various award-winning wine styles,” says Visit our Winelands, a wine tourism development partnership involving the Wine Tourism Industry of South Africa and Wesgro.

“… Taste the unique wines of the cool-climate terror, sample wholesome, delectable country cuisine, relax into laid-back village life and sock up the tranquil landscape, book into a wide range of accommodation, from five-star to home-from-home, and make lifelong wine friends.”

Celebrated estates and tasting rooms along the Stanford Wine Route include:

Spotted on Instagram.
Did you #VisitStanford recently and bragged a little on Instagram? Well we may just have spotted you!

To discover more of Stanford’s Secrets, pop into the Tourism Office in Queen Victoria Street, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

For weekly updates, make sure you sign up for the free What’s on compiled by Stanford Tourism every Thursday right here. That’s all for now, folks. And remember, if anyone asks where you got your news, tell them you heard it through the Grapevine!

Stanford Tourism and Business
ask@stanfordinfo.co.za
028 341 0340

Majestic Mountains and where to find them

Majestic Mountains –
to be explored by foot, bike, horse or boat!

#visitstanford

Mountains have always captivated and inspired the human spirits. There seems to be a powerful attraction, which stirs a desire to either explore and conquer its peaks, or merely rest and relax in its valleys and rivers.

Whichever appeals to you, there is a landscape of diverse flora and fauna waiting to be explored by foot, horseback, bike or 4×4. Stanford is the perfect base from which to explore these majestic structures and if you give us enough notice , we will gather the local food artisans and put together the most delicious and nutritious picnics and snack packs for you to take with,  we may even suggest some of our local wines for you to enjoy in the shade of the Kleinrivier mountains.

Hiking Trails
Hikers are spoilt for choice in this region, not only with the spectacular views and abundance of varying biomes, but you have your choice of anything from a gentle walk and picnic to a multi-day hike. Phillipskop Mountain Reserve offers a unique opportunity to access part of the Klein River Mountains. Visitors are welcome to hike anywhere on the reserve but they have established a number of hiking trails to help you in your exploration. You may also wish to explore Walker Bay Nature Reserve 17 km of rocky and sandy coastline which include the incredible cliff paths at De Kelders. See more on walks and hiking trails in our region.

Mountain Biking
As home to the Stanford MTB Classic stage event  we have so much to offer the avid Mountain Biker and the whole family! Start in Stanford and explore the many tracks through the fynbos and nature reserves.

Horse Trails
Explore our wonderful region on horseback, as many of the early explorers must have. African Horse Company offers 1-3 hours or multi–day horse trails and outrides. You will ride along kilometers of unspoiled beach, climb rugged mountain terrain, and ride through indigenous forest, cross private farms and vineyards and swim with your horse in dams filled with the purest mountain water. What a wonderful way to discover our region.

River Adventures
For some the mere luxury of gazing up from the valleys and rivers to take in the numerous rock formations is enough food for the soul. In Stanford we take full advantage of our Kleinivier and you can hire a Kayak from River Rat Boat Cruise & Kayak Hire and do some self-exploration.
The river is famous for its big variety of birdlife, breeding and nesting in the reeds on the banks of the river. Other wild life include some buck in a small reserve, otters feeding on crabs, terrapins and the odd puff adder swimming across the river.
Or simply pack a picnic ( you can stock up from our many food and wine artisans) and enjoy a leisurely cruise with Lady Stanford, or African Queen Cruises.

Read all about our Stanford River Festival here. A lovely account from Roger Duffet.

Spotted on Instagram.

Did you #VisitStanford recently and bragged a little on Instagram? Well we may just have spotted you!

To discover more of Stanford’s Secrets, pop into the Tourism Office in Queen Victoria Street, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

For weekly updates, make sure you sign up for the free What’s on compiled by Stanford Tourism every Thursday right here. That’s all for now, folks. And remember, if anyone asks where you got your news, tell them you heard it through the Grapevine!

Stanford River Festival 2019

One-hundred-and-six boats, one-hundred-and-thirty-something paddlers,
eight sitters, two standers, one swimmer and a dog!

The annual Stanford River Festival took place in ideal conditions on
Saturday 2nd March on the beautiful Klein Rivier. The event is a mix of
serious racing and not-so-serious fun! It offers something exciting for
all levels of paddlers including those who just love plonking along in a
boat with friends and family!

Line up at King Street for the start! A colourful spectacle of boats,
jokes, laughing insults and a small measure of anxiety. The serious
racers are at the front, strategically looking for the best way off the
line. Just behind a jostle of anxious youngsters looking to be in on the
action and at the back the fancy dress party! The starter calls and the
race is off – churning the still water into a tumble of waves out to
topple the unwary.

From Stanford the river carries the paddlers out toward the lagoon. The
turn for the 15km route is just on the edge of the lagoon where the
sleepy water loses itself in the shallows and the flamingos, in unison,
ignore the passing race. It takes about 36 minutes for the first
paddlers to reach the turn. At this point just over half of the 5km race
has finished. Joshua Loubser [U14] came storming through in 23 minutes
and 1 second on a Ski chased home by Emma Privett [U12] in a Guppy.
Third across the line was Daniel Burls [U16] in a K1. First dog across
the line, stylish bandanna ad all, was Gemma [U6] in a fine hand made
wooden kayak! Joshua, Emma, Daniel and Gemma are all from Stanford Canoe
Club.

The Wooden Boat Regatta at the The Stanford River Festival was a new
thing this year. Graceful, shining wooden hulls mingled with the dowdier
K1s and K2s bringing a touch of class to the river. Let’s hope we see
more of them next year! Local builder Neil Eberhard took the prize for
best presented wooden boat on display at the festival.

Meanwhile, with the 15km racers now racing back for the finish line the
first 10km paddlers were coming home. Rodger Duffett [M] was first back
in 54 minutes and 57 seconds. Racing to the finish, up-and-coming
paddlers Khanyisa Ngaxa [U14] and Sibongeleni Mzimba were second and
third. The first five places in the 10km were all Stanford paddlers with
fourth and fifth going to Nonelela Mqalekane [U14] and Samkele Mgengo
[U14] respectively! Go Team!

One hour, seven minutes and thirty five seconds after starting out Lance
King [S] from Milnerton Canoe club crossed the line to take first place
and the points for the Western Cape Canoe Union Presidents Trophy.
Second place went to Luke Stowman [S] from Paarl and third to Ernest van
Riet [V] from University of Stellenbosch. The first lady home was
Christina Geromont from Milnerton Canoe Club [U23] in 1h23m46s closely
followed by Amy Duffett [U14] from Stanford. Third lady in the open
category was Lindi-May Harmsen [V] from Milnerton.

Of the one-hundred-and-thrity-something paddlers about 35 paddled in the
under 18 category! Our friendly rivals from the Paarl Developmont club
made the journey from their home river – the Berg River – to join us on
the Klein Rivier. In the Boys Junior class Matthew Privett [U16],
Stanford, took line honours in 1h12m53s. Bevan Duffett [U18], Stanford,
was second across the line and Eugon Williams [U16] from Paarl was
third. The Girls race was a Stanford clean sweep with Amy Duffett [U14]
first and Neriyah Dill [U14] second.

Let’s not forget to count the Guppies! A special sprint race over 2km
was held for the Guppies aged 8 to 12. Tia Hector from Paarl took this
one from Emma Privett [Stanford]. The girls led the way in this one with
Lucian from Paarl coming third! Well done to Jahkahyda [Paarl], Sibusiso
[Stanford], Whitney and AJ [Paarl] and Joshua, Boaz and Tristan from
Stanford!

And so, another river festival came and went! It was such a pleasure to
enjoy this very special place with all who came! A big thank-you to all
who worked to make it happen especially for the support of the Grootbos
Foundation and Stanford Tourism! Funds raised at the event go toward
supporting the Stanford Canoe Club Development Academy.

 

Author: Rodger Duffett

Images: Wilien van Zyl

 

 

 

Diving into Adventure

Shark Cage Diving and Educational with Marine Dynamics.

 

With Gansbaai only 20 or so kilometers from Stanford, guests to the village can easily combine their country-getaway (complete with delicious fare, nature-inspired activities and award-winning wines) with the high-adrenalin adventure of Shark Cage Diving. Stanford Tourism and Business Manager, Nicky Currie, takes to the high seas to tick off one of her all time favourite bucket list experiences.

 

Hosted by Marine Dynamics, Nicky and fellow Stanfordian, Karla Erwee, prepared for their big day out and walked away with hearts pumping and a treasure trove of facts and information about the gorgeous creatures that call the Gansbaai coastline home.

 

Their day started with a delicious breakfast and coffee at the Great White House while Marine Biologist, Toby, briefed the team on what to expect on the dive, as well as key safety tips. They then headed out from Kleinbaai Harbour on Slashfin, the “coolest boat ever” – built for both work and comfort. After slipping into dry (well not for long) 7mm wetsuits, they prepared for the dive.

“I can honestly say that EVERYTHING that I experienced was flawless. From the moment you walk in through the doors at The Great White House…you feel welcome.”
– Nicky, ST&B

The big blue. Photo: Karla Erwee

Despite reports of killer whales and the dramatic effect they’re having on the presence of Great White Sharks in the Cape, Tourists can rest assured that there’s more to see than just the Great Whites –

 

“The Copper Shark sightings have been amazing and gave visitors memories that will last forever, as well as Sevengill sharks.  With these amazing sightings daily, we are able to still offer our five star trips and change perceptions.  Over the last week we had Great White Shark sightings again, and this morning we saw a beautiful Great White Shark.”
– Gretha, Marine Dynamics

 

Nicky echoed the sentiments of Marine Dynamics –

“Copper Sharks was showing off and I can honestly say that I just cannot get enough of them!… All the tourists on the boat was in awe of these majestic creatures and excitement level was HIGH!”

Photo: Marine Dynamics

Photo: Marine Dynamics

After their dive, the group enjoyed a much-welcomed steamy cup of hot chocolate aboard the boat, and then an awesome surprise, they had time for another dive to take in even more of the natural and graceful beauty of the Copper Sharks before heading back to The Great White House for hot soup, bread, and the chance to watch the video made of their dives (which are also available for purchase for those looking for the ultimate memento of their time with the sharks).

 

“The staff onboard is out of this world.
They are professional, yet fun and highly informative.”
– Nicky, ST&B

 

But the day was not over yet. Marine Dynamic’s Gretha treated Nicky and Karla to an educational at the African Seabird & Penguin Sanctuary in Gansbaai.

The African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary is well worth a visit on your next trip to the Cape Whale Coast. Photo: Karla Erwee

Photo: Karla Erwee

“How very special and educational! They are doing so much work for all these animals, it is inspiring to see that there are people putting in such an effort! Marine Dynamics will most definitely see me again and next time, I am taking the family with!”
– Nicky, ST&B

 

A big thank you to Marine Dynamics for an exceptional experience. For visitors looking to follow in Nicky and Karla’s footsteps, pop into the tourism office to learn more about Shark Cage Diving options and tours.

 

(Cover Photo: Marine Dynamics)