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South Africa: There’s more to the winelands than…wine

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It’s easy enough to spend an entire weekend tasting your way through the many wine farms and restaurants in the Western Cape’s winelands. From Stellenbosch through to Paarl and Franschoek, the various farms each provide their own unique experiences and histories, but the area has more than just this to explore and experience, especially now that spring has arrived.

Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager at Protea Hotels by Marriott has a few more out of the ordinary ideas for day trips, that will allow you to experience more than just wine-tasting and food pairing (as delicious as that is).

Get car-free in Franschhoek
For the active among us, you can mountain bike through greater Franschhoek, viewing the vineyards from a different perspective on single / double track trails in the mountains above the town. Or, if you’ve always fancied yourself to be an equestrian, you can also go horseback riding through the same hills, with rides for both beginners and the more experienced.

For those of you more comfortable on your own two feet, walking tours are available through the town’s quaint French-themed streets. There are plenty bookshops, galleries and antique stores that line the streets.

And after all of the biking, riding and walking, you’ll probably work up quite the appetite. If this is the case, the newly refurbished Protea Hotels by Marriott Franschhoek now boasts a Hussar Grill, famous for its mouth-watering steaks.

Pleasurable Paarl
Sticking with horses, further down the road in Paarl, the Wine Valley Horse Trails offer carriage drives for those who want to experience life “back then”. Or if you’ve ever wanted to watch the ‘sport of kings’, polo, make a stop at Val de Vie. There is a coach available to teach you some useful tricks about the game, and sticks and helmets are available for hire.

If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, check out the beauty of Butterfly World just outside of the “city centre” on Route 44. It has a large variety of birds and 24 species of butterflies to see and learn about.

Historical Stellenbosch
One of the first things to do in Stellenbosch is walk down the town’s oldest and most historical road, Dorp Street. Here you’ll find shops like Oom Samie se Winkel. Dating back to 1904, it’s Stellenbosch’s oldest business, and you’ll find it’s stocked with pretty much everything. From jams, to old records, dolls, tobacco, books and other niks naks, all available at this eccentric store.

On the same oak-lined street, you’ll find de Akker, Stellenbosch’s oldest pub. Expect solid pub food and a friendly atmosphere.

For a bit of quirkiness, head to the Toy and Miniature Museum. Here you’ll find a house of pretty much everything miniature, including antique dolls, cars, cuddly toys and a lifelike miniature of South Africa’s Blue Train, the only one of its kind in Africa.

And if you just want to unwind, head back to Dorp Street and get yourself a therapeutic treatment at the Protea Hotels by Marriott Dorphuis spa. While in the winelands, you should definitely try out their uplifting Pinotage massage. Only in the winelands would you find a wine-flavoured treatment.

So head out to the winelands this spring and enjoy the wine farms as well as so many other unique offerings.

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