Named for the large mountains that overlook the valley, The Helderberg region encompasses several residential suburbs, an industrial park, a section of coastline and gorgeous wine farms along the mountain slopes.
The word Helderberg means Clear Mountain and refers to the fact that its highest peak, the Dome at 1137m above sea level, is forever free of cloud. The Helderberg is the northern part of an amphitheatre surrounding Stellenbosch in the Western Cape Province.
At the beginning of the 1700s, the Dutch East India Company Governor Willem van der Stel recognised the area’s fertility and was able to secure a large farm for himself south of the Helderberg. The farm has since been divided but much of the history remains and exceptional wines are still being produced here.
The Helderberg coast has some of the best swimming beaches along this stretch of the warm False Bay.
Holiday makers laying over in the Helderberg area can look forward to clean beaches, wine tastings, country hospitality, prime scenery and modern town convenience.
Top 6 reasons to visit the Helderberg
1. Gordons Bay’s tiny Bikini Beach at the harbour is a Blue Flag appointed beach while Harbour Island Marina is the only Blue Flag certified marina this side of False Bay. The beach at Strand is one of the longest along the coastline at 3km and is a popular swimming beach.
2. The region has a multitude of wine farms, the recommended estates being the historic Vergelegen Wine Estate with formal gardens, slave quarters, restaurants and picnics under the trees and the ultra-chic Lourensford Estate, popular with the glamour set.
3. The scenic Steenbras Dam is currently closed to the public, however, the Crystal Pools trail through the Steenbras River gorge is an alternate route to enjoy the waters. The area has several deep rock pools with jumping ledges ranging from 5m above the pools to 18m for the crazies. A permit is required to enter the area.
4. Travel the steep Sir Lowry’s Pass to find the old trails where wagon wheels left deep grooves in the rock. Aside from the grandiose views of False Bay, the area has several interesting hiking routes.
5. For those who love shopping, the Somerset Mall has over 200 tenants consisting of major retail chains and boutique, jewellery and specialist stores. The mall has an 8 theatre cinema complex and enormous food court.
6. The exclusive Erinvale Golf Club is an 18-hole championship course designed by Gary Player and all visitors are welcome. The practice greens include a driving range.
Cape Town International is between 40km and 65km away, depending on where you are based in the Helderberg region. Car rentals can be hired at the airport, in Cape Town or in Stellenbosch, otherwise order a vehicle online. Many shuttle and tour service companies operate between Cape Town and the Helderberg area. Metered taxis and Uber are located in Stellenbosch.
Did you know?
The Steenbras Dam above Gordons Bay contributes roughly 12% of Cape Town’s water needs. The dam water is perfectly drinkable, however, it has a brownish tinge that would have homeowners screaming if the water were to be piped directly to their taps. The water is tainted by fynbos plants that die and release harmless tannins into the water. A large filtration plant was fitted in the 1940s to remove the tannin.
The old Camphor trees at the entrance to the historic manor house at the Vergelegen (distant) Wine Estate in Somerset West were planted in 1700 and are national monuments.