Surrounding Stellenbosch are pleasant towns and nature reserves.
Soon after leaving Stellenbosch the road begins to climb to the Helshoogte Pass (336m/1102ft), from which there are magnificent views. The road then runs down to the Boschendal, with a mansion of 1812 which is a superb example of Cape Dutch architecture, now a national monument. The house is furnished in period style and is open to the public Here too there are a souvenir shop and a restaurant.
Address: Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Western Cape 7680, South Africa
Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve
The Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, area 25,000ha/61,750ac, is accessible only on foot, on the Boland Hiking Trail; it can also be reached from Sir Lowry's Pass. This reserve has an extraordinarily rich flora and a fauna which includes reeboks, springboks and dwarf antelopes; leopards, caracals and jackals are also occasionally to be seen.
Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve
An attractive excursion from Stellenbosch is to the Jonkershoek valley, in which is the Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, area 168ha/415ac. Through the reserve runs a circular hiking trail 2km/1.25mi long, which also leads to a 5ha/12ac wild flower garden.
Franschhoek, South Africa
The town of Franschhoek, as the name ("French Corner") indicates, the town was originally established by French settlers - Huguenots who came here in 1688, seeking refuge from persecution in France.
Beyond the Huguenot Monument the road climbs to the Franschhoek Pass (701m/2,300ft), from which there are breathtaking views of the surrounding country.
Huguenot Monument & Museum
In gardens at the south end of Franschhoek is the Huguenot Monument (by the sculptor Coert Steynberg), erected in 1938 to commemorate 250 years of settlement by the Huguenots. The central figure is a woman holding a Bible in her right hand and a broken chain in the left, symbolizing the Huguenots' escape from religious oppression.Beside the monument is a museum opened in 1965 consisting of two buildings displaying mementos and documents on the history of the Huguenots.
Southwest of Stellenbosch is the old-established Neethlingshof. In the Cape Dutch mansion is an excellent restaurant. Rather less elegant is the adjoining Palm Terrace.
Address: Polkadraai Road, Vlottenburg, Western Cape 7604, South Africa