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Friday, 01 January 2021

South Africa's Artists, Craftspeople, History and Unique Culture - Page 4

Written by Russ and Emily Firlik
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We said goodbye to our wonderful guide, Bonginkosi, and took a short flight from Durban Airport to Cape Town. Our destination was to explore Stellenbosch, a town in Western Cape province. The cultured university town had meticulously restored Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. The streets were lined with enchanting shops, many interesting galleries, a large number of oak trees, and delicious multicultural cuisine. We spent the entire day exploring and discovering this unique and interesting town. Although Stellenbosch is called a ‘town,’ the area hosts 117,000 residents; the majority of whom are white.


Our guide, Hendrik, a born and bred Stellenboschian, drove us to the beautiful winelands and historic towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and we learned about their French Huguenot, Dutch and Afrikaans heritage. Our much anticipated visit to their famous wine and cheese farms, and their grand homesteads were insightful and extremely interesting. The fertile valleys and gardens were surrounded by the magnificent Jonkershoek mountains. We learned that the Paarl and Franschoek valleys form the Cape Winelands, the main wine growing regions in South Africa. The de rigueur wine tasting, along with a very enjoyable meal, completed our adventurous long day.


We spent the next two days slow-scouting the historic town and university. The Stellenbosch University, with 25,000 students, is one of South Africa’s leading universities. It is renowned for its communications satellite, which was launched in 2000 and orbited the earth for three years.

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The next few days were filled with excitement, exploration and discovery. Our guide drove us on an all day tour of the beautiful Cape Peninsula, including a drive through Hout Bay, along the spectacular Chapmans Peak marine, and finally, through the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve to Cape Point. Our guide pointed out the indigenous fynbos, a small belt of natural scrubland vegetation, is only found in this area. Henrik made sure that we visited the colony of African penguins. On our way back to Cape Town, we had a stop at the quaint village of Kalk Bay, to explore the wide array of antique, art and book shops.

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As previously arranged, we set off to visit a successful township empowerment project, that creates items which are a fusion of traditional craft techniques with contemporary resources. This was a fascinating and insightful visit. Our next stop was to the colorful area of Bo-Kaap, which is closely associated with Cape Town’s Muslim community. We spent the rest of the day just observing the brightly painted 18th century flat-roofed homes, lingering along cobbled lanes and the many shops, and enjoyed an excellent traditional meal.

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Last modified on Friday, 01 January 2021

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