Things To Do in WellingtonSelf Drive Cape Town to Wellington
Where? Cape Town to Wellington, via Philadelphia and Riebeek-Kasteel
When? Best during daylight hours.
How much? Free
Route: Bloubergstrand, Philadelphia, Malmesbury, Riebeek-Kasteel, Nuwekloof Pass, Tulbagh, Bainskloof, Wellington
Description: from the most recognisable view of Table Mountain north to the 'Land van Waveren' (the fertile valley of Tulbagh, Wolseley, and Ceres in the Cape's wine country) beyond the mountains
Length: roughly 250 km
Time: a day, at least (we would recommend doing this over two days)
Overnight: our favourite towns are Tulbagh and Riebeek-Kasteel
From Cape Town's foreshore on Table Bay Boulevard (N1), take Marine Drive (R27), away from the city, driving past Milnerton, the lagoon on your left, and a little later Rietvlei on your right.
Take a left into Otto du Plessis Drive (M14) and head down to the beach, taking a left into Sir David Baird Drive, and another left into Stadler Road to reach the parking area on the beachfront.
Ons Huisie is a restaurant in a national monument right on the beach (perfect for fish 'n chips). A stroll on the wide beach is a must, particularly at low tide when you can walk across a sand bar to the outcrop of rocks.
Bloubergstrand to Philadelphia (28 km)
Leave the beach, continuing on Stadler to meet Sir David Baird, where you turn left. At the second traffic circle take a left, following Otto du Pless Drive all the way up the coastline, alongside Blouberg Nature Reserve and Atlantic Beach Golf Estate, until Otto du Plessis curves right gently at Melkbosstrand.
At the intersection with Melkbosstrand Road, take Melkbosstrand (straight). This crosses the R27, and then finally intersects, about 8 km later, with the N7 at a t-junction. Turn left.
You now head through the rolling farmlands of the Swartland. Shortly after the Engen One Stop, take a left to the little village of Philadelphia. Lunch at one of the restaurants (De Malle Meul is a good bet) and explore.
Philadelphia via Malmesbury to Riebeek-Kasteel (55 km)
Head back to the N7, taking a left in the direction of Malmesbury. After roughly 30 km, turn left onto the R315 into Malmesbury, the largest town in the Swartland with a vibrant community.
Leave Malmesbury on the R45 (Bokomo Road is a left off the N7 as you enter Malmesbury), and then, after you cross the Riebeeksrivier, take a left onto the R46 for Riebeek-Kasteel / Ceres.
About 11 km later you will reach the top of Bothmaskloof Pass, with beautiful views over the Riebeeck Valley, Winterhoek Mountains, and the Witzenberg a little further north east. The pass descends the Kasteelberg along a wide S-bend. Just down the pass is a viewpoint over the town of Riebeek-Kasteel.
Take the R311 left to visit the sister villages of Riebeek-Kasteel and Riebeeck West. They're only about six minutes' apart and both are worth a visit, if not an overnight stay (or two). We recommend Bar Bar Black Sheep Restaurant in Riebeek-Kasteel.
Pieter Cuythoff led an expedition from the Castle in Cape Town in 1661, intent on finding the legendary kingdom of Monomotapa. He may not have discovered Monomotapa, but he did encounter a great, isolated ridge that he then named Riebeek-Kasteel.
Riebeek-Kasteel to Tulbagh (38.3 km)
Return to and follow the R46 until it junctions with the R44 at Hermon, take a left to Tulbagh.
About 8 km after passing the turn off to the Voelvlei Dam, you will cross the Klein Berg River in the Nuwekloof Pass, built by Thomas Bain in 1873. Take Tulbagh Road to the left off the R46 after crossing the Kleinberg River on coming out of the poort.
To fully explore the history of Tulbagh, you really need to stay overnight. But if short of time, at least park at the top end of Church Street and walk it to appreciate the town's restored 18th and 19th century buildings.
Tulbagh to Bainskloof (44 km)
Leave Tulbagh via Van der Stel Street in the direction of Wolseley.
Alongside you for the next 13 km are the Witsenberg, Watervalsberg and Elandkloofberg ranges. Van der Stel joins the R46. Roughly 7 km later, take a right and drive through Wolseley. At the t-junction with the R43 take another right to Worcester / Wellington.
7 km later, and just before you cross the BreŽ River (also known as Breede River), pass the R43 to Worcester on your left. Just after you cross the BreŽ River is the start of Bainskloof, and a sharp left turn as the R301 now wends its way alongside the Wit River, right up against the Limietberg Mountain.
Bainskloof Pass is a 30 km pass built by Andrew Geddes Bain, and regarded as one of the most scenic routes in the Western Cape.
Roughly 7 km after the sharp left bend, you will pass Tweede Tol camp and picnic area, where a short walk under the road takes you to a cluster of natural swimming pools on the Wit River.
Head on, passing Dacres' Pulpit and Bishop's Arch (two prominent rock formations). At the crest of the pass is Eerste Tol, another campsite. The viewpoint offers superb views over Wellington and the Berg River Valley.
Bainskloof to Cape Town (80km)
The R301 takes you directly to Wellington. Leave the town on the R44, continuing across the intersection with the R45 to Paarl and Malmesbury. Roughly 9.5 km later, take the R312 to Durbanville and then a left onto Klipheuwel Road, which takes you into Durbanville. From there follow the signs to the N1 to Cape Town.