Over Easter we stayed in the Hemel and Aarde valley with family and I think I’ve found one of my favourite spots in the country. I’ve been there before, but I was reminded once again that there is something blissful about being close enough to the buzz of Hermanus, but still being tucked away in tranquil farm life, where there are fewer people around you.
I want to live here. No traffic jams. No sirens. No electric fences. Just acres of the most beautiful lush valleys and dramatic mountain peaks. Air so fresh it gives your lungs a kickstart. Rivers and streams trickling past. Wine farms you trip over. Space for kids (and adults) to explore. Take me back.
If you’re thinking of putting this on your travel list, here are some highlights in the Hemel an Aarde area:
- Visit Onrus beach. Not as crowded as Hermanus, although I’m told that in peak season it can be hard to find parking. I love the unpretentious vibes, the cute restaurant on the lagoon, the food truck which makes the best samoosas and the wide clean beach.
- The Hermanus Country Market. Yes I go every time I am in Hermanus because their stuff is delicious. Grab a coffee and then YOU MUST get a Scotch egg and bacon on a stick for your breakfast. This was a friend’s tip but I hope she won’t mind me sharing it, because it is a good one. Trust me.
- Stay at Hemel en Aarde cottages. Their website is rustic but don’t let that fool you – I haven’t stayed in such lovely accommodation for a long time. We rented the Gatehouse and Strelitizia cottages, and both were amazing. The highlight of the Gatehouse cottage was the woodfired hot tub on the deck, which we sat in on chilly evenings with glass in hand as we looked over the valley. Strelitiza also has a beautiful braai area with amazing views and the kitchen is cosy with an Aga stove and everything you need to cook up a delicious meal. And guys, the linen in both! Apparently the owners used to own a linen retailer which explains why I could not drag myself out of bed each morning – amazing.
- Eat at Spookfontein. We had Sunday lunch here and I was very impressed. Bear in mind that I wouldn’t say it’s the most suitable spot for “energetic” toddlers, as the restaurant is quite smart and hushed. Ben was the youngest at age 6, and him and his sister and two cousins managed to sit beautifully and play cards, eat lunch and then head outside to run around when they were getting a bit rowdy. I was super proud of them. The food was knockout (try the ramen) and the wine was also delicious, plus the views are outstanding.
- Buy produce at Die Plaaskombuis. The brownies! The farm fresh eggs! Fresh veg! I am such a sucker for a farm stall and this one is a goodie. You can’t buy all your groceries here but stop in on your way to Hermanus and pick up some essentials, before buying the rest at a retailer. I love supporting local where I can, plus it’s such excellent quality.
That’s it. Hopefully in a decade you’ll find me living in a cottage in the Hemel and Aarde valley, finishing off my fifth novel and making my own marmalade. A girl can dream.
Photo by Freshshoots Photography