Things To Do in StellenboschDwars River Escape Route
Where? The Dwars River Escape Route lies in the area that stretches from the Dwars River Valley at Helshoogte Pass, just outside the town of Stellenbosch, to the Groot Drakenstein area near Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands.
When? Travel on your own, any time.
How? Call +27 (0)21 876-2861
How much? Price on request
Launched in 2003, the Dwars River Escape Route includes not only some incredible scenery, cultural features, things to do and places of historical significance, but also a mix of entrepreneurs, community projects and little businesses. It was initiated by locals and Open Africa with the idea that the route would become a way for businesses and projects to create an income for themselves by encouraging visitors.
Historically the Dwars River Valley was allocated to Dutch Free burgher settlers in 1687. They were joined by the French Huguenots. Before them, the land had been used for seasonal grazing by the Khoi herders. Some of the settlers also reared stock, planting fruit vegetables and grapes. Over time, this region had one of the highest proportion of slaves in the Cape, brought to an end only in 1834 when they were finally emancipated in the Cape. Thereafter the valley produced mainly fruit.
This background goes some way to explain the route's use of the word 'escape', which marks the freeing of the slaves in South Africa. It also includes those Italian prisoners-of-war who worked on the fruit farms in the area, escaping concentration camps in the process, and Mandela's 'escape' from Groot Drakenstein prison at the lower end of the valley where he was held for the last few years of his sentence.
The Dwars River Escape Route includes the Imbali Live Craft and Art Centre, where Kylemore community crafters produce crafts for sale, a children's feeding scheme, Johnson 'the wire worker', the Anna Foundation, Tokara Olive Shed, Living Stones, Candles for Africa, and a list of wineries, restaurants and small businesses.