Orderly rows of vines and wheat fields blanket the rolling hills flanking the straight, smooth R44. Thirty minutes from Wellington, a left at Hermon takes travellers past rural scenes of aloe farms, tractors, cows, stone chats and blue cranes to the relaxed little hamlet of Riebeek Kasteel.
Cottages and gardens line the streets, greeting visitors with wholesome warmth and tranquility. The Riebeek Valley nestles on the slopes of the magnificent Kasteelberg (traversed by two hiking trails) and encompasses Riebeek West, Riebeek Kasteel, Riebeeksrivier and Hermon.
Famous for its wine, olives and country lifestyle, Riebeek Kasteel is full of lovely surprises, wickedly delicious eateries and delightful art, furniture and craft shops.
Scenic dirt roads beckon walkers, cyclists and bikers. Accommodation ranges from budget to five-star inns and guest houses. The Friendly Grocer (“the Friendly”) is a local orientation point and has an ATM. Riebeek Kasteel is instantly likeable, blending rural beauty with trendy comfort and fresh country air. Its peace and prettiness induce thoughts of settling and growing roots alongside the pig’s ears and wisteria.
Look out for
Riebeek Valley Festivals - the Medfest (March), Olive Festival (May), and Shiraz and Art Festival (October) annually celebrate the wine, olives, food and culture of the area.
Hiking and biking - enjoy 360-degree views of the Swartland from Kasteelberg from the Pieter Cruythoff and Carl Thunberg hiking routes, and the Kasteelberg and Villages bike trail.
Village Square - the Friendly Grocer and Riebeek Valley Tourism Office are both on the town square and the Riebeek Valley Country Fair is held here on the last Saturday of every month until 2pm. The Red Ox Monument (erected 1938) honours the Great Trek Oxen.
Swartland Wine Route - Swartlandmeans “black country” and refers to the indigenous renosterbos. This wine route extends from Darling to Porterville and encompasses the Riebeek Valley, with its long-established cellars offering wine and olive tasting.
The History Route includes places of interest such as the Jan Smuts Museum,commemorating the statesman’s birth (1870) in Riebeek West.
The old Royal Hotel, one of the oldest in South Africa, is famous for its lengthy stoep (verandah) and its 150-year-old bar.