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A charming town in the Western Cape Province, Stanford lies between nature reserves, and with a mountain range as a backdrop, in a magnificent rural setting. The place could be described as a smartly-restored artist’s retreat, the entire village having been declared a heritage site, however, the locals prefer to regard their home as a cultural village. With a bubbling river running through the town, Stanford leaves visitors destressed and with a feeling of inner peace.
Inland of Walker Bay and situated between the whale watching town of Hermanus and the shark cage diving capital, Gansbaai, Stanford is well-positioned to enjoy the daily excitement nearby and then return to restful accommodation and country hospitality. Stanford is also close to the historic missionary town of Elim.
The town’s slogan ‘for a taste of village life’ accurately describes a visit to Stanford.
Top 8 reasons to visit Stanford
1. To best appreciate Stanford, take a walk through the town, then enjoy a riverboat cruise down the serene Klein River. Bring your binoculars to see the vast birdlife in the area. End the day off with a relaxing dinner at one of the many exceptional restaurants scattered around the town.
2. For the opportunity to sample craft beer, superior wine and purchase bottled spring water at one destination, drive out to Walker Bay Estate. The venue offers tastings and tours of the micro-brewery and wine cellars.
3. The organic fruit and vegetables on offer at the Saturday morning market outside the hotel are fresh from the farm, picked early in the morning and delivered directly to the market. Purchase artisanal bread, locally made cheeses and cured meats and you’re good to go for a picnic under the trees.
4. Collect a map from the town’s tourism bureau and walk the Stanford Art Stroll, a route established by local artists to showcase their work. Aside from the many galleries, there are interesting outdoor artworks on display.
5. For the adventurous there are a number of registered boat operators in Gansbaai offering shark cage diving at Gansbaai. The trips offer visitors the opportunity to witness the great white shark in its natural environment, hunting seals on the island’s colonies.
6. Stop in at the Overberg Honey Co to taste the varieties of honey on offer, the flavours produced by the different plants that the bees pollinate.
7. Aside from the quality products created here, Kleinriver Cheese has a children’s playpark, a popular picnic shed (in summer only) and cheese boutique to sample and purchase fine cheeses. Children may feed and interact with the farm animals.
8. Take a trip to Hermanus to watch whales from the cliffs or via a chartered boat. Humpback, Bryde’s and Southern Right whales frequent Walker Bay to calve and the best time to visit is between July and September.
Stanford is 130km away from Cape Town International Airport. Car rental agencies are located at the airport, in Cape Town and two in nearby Hermanus to hire a vehicle, or book a rental online. There are no train and bus services to Stanford; however, Jonno’s Transfers is a local shuttle company available for transfers between the airport, Hermanus, Gansbaai and Stanford.
Did you know?
The old method of drawing water using the lei water system to irrigate crops is still employed in Stanford, an ancient means of distributing water fairly, using only gravity and canals to route the flow.
The original farm owner, a Captain Stanford, was also a ship owner. In 1894 he agreed to transport a shipload of convicts to the Cape and this so enraged the public that they boycotted his farms. He was forced to sell up and return to Britain.