For years we’ve driven up and down the N2 freeway on our way to any number of small towns for weekends away and longer family holidays – Hermanus, Garden Route, Stanford, Swellendam, George and many more. And on each trip over Sir Lowry’s Pass we’ve always said “We need to spend more time in Elgin” It’s always struck me as such a beautiful part of South Africa and a valley that demands exploring…
Fortunately that wish finally came true when we received an invite to attend the Elgin Winter Festival over the recent long weekend in August.
What we discovered was that it really IS a valley worth exploring. In fact I can’t believe it’s taken us so long to realise this, especially considering that it’s only 1 hour from Cape Town making it one of the easiest weekend getaway spots near Cape Town. Not to mention one of the most beautiful. We loved spending time in the Elgin Valley. In many ways it feels like a completely different country – exactly what you want when the wanderlust to explore the world grips you, yet your budget doesn’t stretch that far.
Our weekend started on Friday morning (a public holiday) and we found ourselves heading to the Elgin Railway Market to start our itinerary. We enjoyed time at the market itself, located in a beautifully restored railway shed and offering an incredible variety of food stalls and a wonderful local atmosphere. In the evening we attended the Elgin Wine Tasting Fair.
During our weekend in the valley we adventured offroad with Elgin Adventure Centre, taking a few Segways out for a spin along the trails of Oak Valley.
We chilled out for a lazy afternoon of picnic food and a relaxing boat cruise on the Palmiet River at Elgin River Lodge. This spot offers rustic relaxation and once we arrived we stepped into holiday mode immediately, absorbing the chilled vibes of families relaxing in the sunshine on the deck, in the hammocks or on the lawn – playing, fishing, lounging, drinking, eating, laughing. Hidden down a windy dust road, this was well-worth the journey!
We went wine tasting at some of the top wineries in Elgin and surrounds – Oak Valley, Almenkerk, Elgin Ridge, Iona. And enjoyed a delicious lunch at Rojaal which we can highly recommend as my husband enjoyed his very best pork belly ever here. The burgers are also incredible and the cakes decadent. Arrive hungry!
During our visit to the valley we stayed at the best child-friendly accommodation in Elgin. Trails End Bike Hotel is the only bike hotel in Africa and offers an amazing opportunity for bike enthusiasts of all ages to stay and play in one place!
The accommodation is basic, but clean and functional. We stayed in a room for 4: a queen and a bunk bed taking care of our sleeping needs. We hung out in the bar and lounge area enjoying hot chocolate next to the roaring fire and browsing books from the library.
The kids enjoyed the climbing wall, table tennis, bike pump track and kids play area. (I’m sure they would have enjoyed the lap pool too had the weather been warmer!)
For enthusiastic bikers there are PLENTY of mountain biking trails mapped out to explore in the Elgin Valley – well known as one of the stages of the Epic and Wines to Whales mountain biking stage races. The beauty of staying at a “bike hotel” is that this spot is “geared” up for you! There is plenty of secure parking, a wash station outside to keep your bike clean, secure bike stands in an outside courtyard for when you are coming and going and an awesome safe indoor storage “cage” for your bikes to be kept secure when not in use.
If you’re looking to explore the Elgin Valley – from the back of your bike or not – Trails End offers affordable, comfortable, clean and secure accommodation that is child-friendly and conveniently located in the heart of Grabouw.
Contact Trails End
Tel: +27 21 859 5193