Groot Drakenstein, Cape Winelands
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The valley known as the Groot Drakenstein lies in the shadow of the mountains with the same name, on the back side of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, part way between Franschhoek and Paarl. Some great historic Cape Dutch homesteads lie in this valley, including wine estates like Boschendal, Bien Donne, Meerlust, Solms-Delta and L'Ormarins. Essentially it describes a district that lies in the shadow of the Groot Drakenstein mountains.
The approach to Franschhoek is breathtaking for this very reason - it is hemmed in on three sides by the Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek and Simonsberg mountains, all vying for attention and all adding a beauty to the area that attracts a constant surge of visitors. The Drakenstein Mountains form part of the Cape Fold Belt but are, when you actually annalyse it, two separate ranges known as the Klein Drakenstein and the Groot Drakenstein Mountains (the Huguenot Tunnel passes through the Klein Drakenstein Mountains, whilst the Groot Drakenstein lie south of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch).
Interestingly the Franschhoek Valley's perimeters lie between the Klein Drakenstein and Wemmershoek mountains to the north, and the Groot Drakenstein and Franschhoek mountains to the south - you can understand that valleys, districts and wine routes might overlap and confuse the individual somewhat. This simply adds flavour to this already popular part of the Cape.
You can visit the Groot Drakenstein Cultural Centre near the town of Simondium between Franschhoek and Paarl. It used to be a jail, but this does not deter groups from using it as a venue for workshops and programmes as it is particularly pretty, offers wonderful views, and can sleep over one hundred people.
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Featured Attractions in (or near) Groot Drakenstein
Lying within the Western Cape's Cape Floral Kingdom, the 322 030 hectare Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve (CWBR) lies roughly 40 km east of Cape Town. It was officially registered by UNESCO in September 2007. The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve is bordered in the south by ... more information
If you are even vaguely into cars, then the Franschhoek Motor Museum is worth a visit. Over 400 vehicles that range from the Beeston Motro Tricycle (1898) to the 2003 Ferrari model, there is something to make everyone drool, even if you're not an ardent fan of the automobile. Museum it might be, but forget the ... more information
Franschhoek has been one of South Africa’s chief wine-making regions for centuries, and this history permeates every element of the town. Historical architecture adds to the experience of sampling some of the world’s finest wines for a truly memorable time. The valley itself is practically ... more information
The Groot Drakenstein correctional facility (the former Victor Verster maximum security prison near Simondium, between Franschhoek and Paarl) is a working prison that was renamed in 2000. It is on the map chiefly because this was the last place in which Nelson Mandela was incarcerated and it was through ... more information
Lying in the Du Toitskloof Mountains close to Paarl, Limietberg Nature Reserve is a beautiful space in which to spend time, particularly if you are a hiker. There are nine separate hiking trails that wind through fynbos, indigenous forest, rugged and steep kloofs, and valleys through which the Breede and Berg rivers ... more information
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