Discover the roots of present-day Cape Town by travelling a little inland from the West Coast to a picturesque piece of South African history, known as Riebeek Valley in the Western Cape.
Riebeek Valley consists of a series of towns that were built after the discovery of the valley by early Dutch explorers in 1661. Riebeek Valley and it’s surrounding towns were named after the then commander Jan van Riebeeck. The town itself was later inhabited by Dutch settlers in the early 1800s and a small administrative district with its own church and paster was established in 1858 as part of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Another interesting historical fact is that Riebeek Wes was home to two South African Prime Ministers, General Jan Christiaan Smuts and Daniel François Malan. One can still visit the house General Smuts grew up in, which is preserved as a national monument while the farm Malan grew up on has become a renowned wine estate complete with restaurant, known as Allesverloren.
Dr. DF and Mrs. Maria Malan with General. Jan Smuts.
Now that you know some of the histories of this picturesque town, it’s time to delve into its cultural highlights.
Also known as Riebeek Valley, Riebeek Wes is prized for its natural beauty and is home to several artists who gain inspiration from the rolling hills and valley sunsets. This is also perhaps what makes it a popular spot for retirement. The town also has a strong farming heritage with wheat, wine and olive farms aplenty and is home to the popular Olive Festival held every year in May.
What really makes this town a tourist attraction are the river estuaries running through from the Berg River which bring a host of fun activities like the Berg River Canoe Marathon taking place annually in July.
Another noteworthy attraction is certainly the markets and thriving arts and crafts scene. Among others is the Short Street Market and the newly renamed Village Market (previously the Funky Fresh Market). Both markets boast fresh produce, home-baked goodies, preserves, cheeses and locally produced meats. Champagne and oysters are also on offer as is an impressive selection of indigenous wines which you can enjoy while listening to a few tunes from the Village Steel band.
The Village Market is located on the Kasteelberg Trading Post, Voortrekker Road R311 and takes place on the last Saturday of every month, while the Short Street Market runs from 09h00 to 12h00 on the last Saturday of every month.
A review of the Riebeek Valley wouldn’t be complete if we did not mention the amazing cuisine on offer by all the locally owned restaurants in the area. One such gem is the Old Dalby, a small 20 or so seater establishment within a renovated house, the owners Vielies and Jaco, of which Jaco is also the chef, take pride in every excellently prepared meal. The value for money is also worth mentioning. A tender 300g rump steak with hand cut chips is R95 while the scintillating beef burger with bacon, egg and Shiraz infused caramelized onions and chips is only R85. A trio of homemade ice cream with flavours such as Turkish delight, Amarula and chocolate peanut butter is only R50.
Just 4 kilometres away in Riebeek Kasteel, you’ll find, hidden behind foliage just down Sarel Colliers Street, Mama Cucina, an Italian restaurant that serves delicious pizzas on homemade, wood-fired bases with interesting and delicious topping combinations. For example, the Con Pollo with smoked chicken, Peppadews, Brie cheese and basil mayo was exceptional. Another hidden gem found on the right, down an alleyway next to the Garagista, is The Shake and Bake which offers iced coffee so good it should be bottled and a number of milkshakes and baked nibbles.
In case you're wondering, we visited during a time of load shedding and yet it does not hold the town area back one bit. Every restaurant and shop makes use of either gas or generators to deliver exceptional service despite the prevalent power conditions.
The oceans around Cape Town are heavily polluted with a variety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals that are now being found in the flesh of fish being caught. Fish found in waters off Kalk Bay have been found to contain everything from antibiotics and pain killers to cleaning chemicals and other toxic substances with at least 15 different chemical compounds being found in alarming numbers.
It is always good news to hear about declining levels of poaching of any kind. For decades the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique was one of the top spots for illegal elephant ivory poaching. We are elated to report the good news that this once “ivory factory” has not seen a single elephant killed since 2018.
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