Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands

Posted on December 14, 2018

Lucy Downes

Lucy visited South Africa in November 2018 and writes here about her time riding in the Western Cape.

“Landing into Cape Town Airport, I was met by Louis Geyer – the owner of Cape Winelands Riding. This holiday offers different accommodation options and I would be staying at each over my four nights. I was excited to learn more about this beautiful area and the local wines which are produced here. On the 40 minute car journey from the airport to the stables (situated between Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek), I was taken back by how beautiful this part of Africa was – mountainous, lush and very different from anywhere else I’ve visited in South Africa.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

Driving between the paddocks and to the Farm Accommodation at the stables

Having arrived in the afternoon, I didn’t have time to ride that day. Instead, Ellen, who has been working with Louis for the last 5 years, introduced me to the horses. At the stables, they have a complete mix of breeds and crosses from Warmbloods, Thoroughbred, Friesian, American Saddler, Arab and Shire to name a few. There is definitely something for everyone!

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

The first horse I rode – Sky, a lovely Boerperd gelding

Each day follows a similar itinerary. After breakfast we would meet our horse for the day and mount-up. Either Ellen or Louis guided us into the surrounding countryside; exploring the mountains and vineyards before stopping at a wine estate for some tasting and divine food.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

One of the lunch stops, tasting wine with a food platter in the sun – bliss

After a leisurely lunch, we would carry on riding for a couple of hours (less depending on how much wine was enjoyed at lunch!), back to the stables in time for a sun-downer on the veranda. In the evening, Louis whisked us away to a top class restaurant. As we choose our food Louis recommended the best wines to accompany the dish.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

Being wined and dined every night was a real high-light for me

Riding through the Winelands was relaxing, scenic and Ellen’s knowledge of all the fruits growing there was extensive. Cantering to the top of the rolling hills gave us fantastic views of the vineyards and countryside, with Table Mountain sometimes in sight in the distance.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

My second horse, Amado the Appaloosa with the beautiful views in the background

Staying at the Farm Accommodation allows you to wake up, open the curtains and see straight into the paddocks where the horses gaze. The hammock outside your room is the ideal place to put your feet up with a book and a glass of wine or G&T.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

The Farm Accommodation is comfortable and ideal for guests wanting to spend as much time as possible with the horses

For a little treat, you might prefer to upgrade to Klein Waterval – where I stayed for a night.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

The pool and bar area at Klein Waterval – perfect for relaxing after a days riding

For the ultimate luxury and relaxation, you could really push the boat out and stay at the Angala Boutique Hotel. I was lucky enough to stay here for my last night and indulged in having a massage in my 5 star standard room which overlooked the mountains.

Both of these alternative accommodations have quality restaurants, pools and are only 10 minutes from the stables. Louis collected me each morning after breakfast to meet the horses and dropped me off after dinner – so there is no requirement to hire a car wherever you decide to stay.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

Angala Boutique Hotel – so beautiful that it makes amateur photographers like myself look professional

My only regret about this holiday was not staying longer. But even after just four nights of riding around vineyards, eating fabulous food in the wonderful company of Louis, Ellen and the rest of the Cape Winelands Riding team – I was totally relaxed, happy and slowly becoming a wine connoisseur. This region of South Africa surprised me and I’ve fallen in love.

Riding Cape Winelands, Fine dining and glorious riding at the Cape Winelands, In The Saddle

Riding past (and sometimes going for a splash in) clear blue lakes with the mountain backdrop

Spoil yourself to this riding holiday! For more information, please call Lucy on +44 1299 272 2378 or email lucy@inthesaddle.com.

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