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Another of the Western Cape’s appealing small towns, Montagu is a 2-hour drive from Cape Town and lies nestled on the eastern slopes of the Langeberg Mountains.
The road between Worcester and Montagu is fairly flat until you reach a chain of 450 million year old mountains that appear squeezed up against themselves and fittingly called the Cape Fold Belt. You enter Montagu town via a natural arch with an old fort atop and you come to the realisation that you are about to discover a rather unique and magical town. And you won’t be disappointed; Montagu is renowned for its hot springs but this historic town has a host of other attractions, from the interesting architecture to outdoor pursuits such as hiking and mountain climbing. Deciduous fruit is grown in the surrounding valley and sweet dessert wines, particularly Muscadel, are produced under the warm climate.
Montagu has 21 national monuments, 2 museums and a plethora of eateries offering wholesome country cooking.
Top 8 reasons to visit Montagu
1. Whether you visit the hot springs in summer or winter, the experience will leave you relaxed and refreshed. The warm, radioactive spring water is piped into swimming pools and its healing properties appear to calm the soul.
2. Visit the Montagu Guano Cave, only partly explored and home to 4 species of bat. The entrance has an ancient San rock art painting and the cave itself is an important roosting site for the bats. The resort has a number of other family activities available to day visitors, including a petting zoo and swimming pools.
3. Join a rock climbing party for the thrill of climbing the spectacular mountains around Montagu. A local company called Montagu Climbing provides equipment and training, and guides climbers of all experience levels.
4. An excellent hiking trail is via the Keurkloof ravine, a 6km route through the gorge to reach a peaceful picnic spot.
5. Montagu has a number of mountain bike routes popular with weekend mountain bikers. The Baden Route takes riders past the golf course and into scenic farmland before returning on a steep downhill path.
6. The Protea Farm offers tractor rides up a mountain to reach an altitude of 1500m for sweeping views of the valley and to see the bright flowers of the protea. Combine the ride with a traditional lunch in the forest where you will be treated to a potjiekos (stew prepared in a small pot).
7. Stop in at Cape Dried Fruit Packers for a tour of their facilities. The tour passes through the orchards, the drying lanes and to the packing plant. Light lunches are offered and there is an onsite wine tasting room and farm stall to purchase fruit and nuts.
8. Montagu has a lovely Nature Garden where tea and cake is served every Tuesday for a nominal fee. The various garden pathways have interesting displays of indigenous flora, frequented by birds and small animals.
The nearest airport is Cape Town International Airport, 186km away. Car rental agencies are located in Cape Town, Worcester and at the airport or order a rental online and collect at a convenient location. Shuttle service companies and tour operators offer drives between Montagu, Cape Town and the airport but a rental is the most practical option.
Did you know?
The tiny fort above Cogmans Kloof was built by the British at the start of the South African War which began in 1899. The fort is one of four built by the Brits in the area to prevent the Boers from entering the Small Karoo region.
Montagu was named after the British colonial secretary Sir John Montagu who is credited with approving much of the Cape’s road network during his 10 year tenure between 1843 and 1853.
For those who are a little adventurous and enjoy the company of other travellers, you can decide to stay at a Backpackers. Often having to share a room with others as well as costs, it is incredibly inexpensive. Often the best choice for those who may be just passing through or will be occupied for the majority of their day. It comes with the most basic amenities and is often formed as part of a bar or similar establishment. Not recommended for those who want privacy, this is best suited for those who wouldn’t mind meeting various other interesting travellers.