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It’s safe to say that Bonnievale is located in one of the most picturesque parts of the Western Cape. On the road entering the town, each farmer has lined their property boundary with a unique colourful plant or unusual tree, from red and yellow canna to white roses, pale green fever trees and purple jacarandas. This makes for a visually pleasing display.
The area was originally called Vale before a settler Christopher Rigg bought up the land, divided it into plots and called the village Bonnievale after his grandfather’s home in Scotland. He was to design an irrigation canal that ran from the nearby Breede River and, in parts, suspended around the side of a mountain, to reach the village. Unfortunately not much remains of his original design, however, cement canals still route water through to the farmlands.
Bonnievale is best known for the sweet wines, fruits and cheeses produced here and green fields extend as far as the eye can see. The town is a quiet refuge in attractive surroundings and visitors are treated to a friendly and warm welcome.
Top 6 reasons to visit Bonnievale
1. The Myrtle Rigg Church has a fascinating story to tell and is worth visiting. The church was built at the behest of Christopher Rigg’s ill 7-year old child, who asked him to build a church for the people of Bonnievale so that they ‘…can all become good people’. She died shortly thereafter and Rigg built a small stone church in her memory. The key to the church regularly goes missing, ask around enough and someone will open the church.
2. Several tour operators offer guided hikes through the Langeberg Mountains, this trail passes waterfalls and swimming spots before reaching an old stone leopard trap. Other items of interest include ancient ruins and eagle’s nests.
3. One of the oldest farms in the area, Weltevrede has an underground vault where bottled wine was stored to maturity before the owner progressed to vats. Wine tastings are done in the vault under candlelight.
4. Van Loveren Family Vineyards are renowned for having converted many a non-wine drinker with their light, palatable wines. This modern winery has a fabulous outdoor tasting deck and they offer cellar tours and tours of their garden. Hiking and mountain bike trails are open to visitors.
5. The Bonnievale Museum has a unique private collection of items that range from an old wooden hand-cranked Sony-Ericsson phone to ornate furniture with hidden compartments. Don’t rush your visit, the curator will gladly provide more information on any of the items.
6. Take a riverboat cruise on the scenic Breede River. Ask your host to recommend a cruise operator and remember to pack a picnic basket for the river journey.
The nearest international airport from Bonnievale is Cape Town International Airport, 180km away. There is an airfield 28km away in Robertson for chartered flights. Car rental agencies are located in Cape Town, Swellendam and at the airport, otherwise order a rental online and collect at a convenient location. There are no trains and bus services into and out of Bonnievale, however, local tour operators offer shuttle services.
Did you know?
The Wine Shop at the end of Bonnievale town sells Timjan, a general health tonic made from the aloe ferox plant and preserved in a port wine. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it tastes awful but many swear by its wellbeing benefits.
Be sure to stop at the Parmalat factory shop to purchase their excellent range of cheeses sold at vastly reduced prices. The factory is popular with the town residents and farmers from surrounding areas.