Whether you’re a local or a tourist, Eikestad born-and-bred or a long-haul traveller, it’s surely not hard to see how the ‘paradise valley’ of Stellenbosch earned its name.
As you turn off the R44, slow down to soak up those first views of the Paradyskloof: Stellenbosch Mountain rises ahead, the Helderberg towers to the east and fynbos, forest and vineyards fill the spaces between. To one side, the Eden Forest attracts both trail-runners and mountain bikers to the slopes.
But it’s a garden of a different sort that is drawing a stream of visitors to the Paradyskloof. The Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden is an opportunity, right on the doorstep of Stellenbosch, to discover the creative journey of this internationally acclaimed South African sculptor.
In the verdant 7ha garden, visitors can explore the chapters of Dylan’s creative journey, from the iconic leopard sculptures that catapulted him onto the international art scene to the variations of human and shamanic forms that followed. Above the scenic lake, a forest of smaller current works explore the tension within human relationships, while Dylan’s former studio and foundry is today a fascinating gallery of art and curiosities.
Epitomised by poplar groves and stone benches, there’s pure joy in the symbiotic relationship between the garden and the art it holds, as indigenous plantings create striking sightlines to juxtapose sculpture and landscape. A highlight? The pathways just above the herd of life-size buffaloes that gaze westward to a distant Table Mountain.
Those buffaloes also gaze out over the vineyards of nearby Vriesenhof, a family-owned winery that has become an icon of the Stellenbosch Winelands over the past 40 years. And the cellar that legendary vintner Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee calls home is as down-to-earth as the man himself. Beneath the whitewashed walls and thatched roof of the original homestead, a handful of tables are scattered on the oak-shaded terrace overlooking a vineyard of Pinot Noir. There’s no glitz or glam here; what counts is authenticity; something that Vriesenhof has by the barrelful.
Jan Coetzee is considered a pioneer of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Cape Winelands, although today the cellar is just as famous for Kallista, its inspired Bordeaux-style blend, its Grenache and its Pinotage, a proudly South African cultivar. Tastings are strictly by appointment.
If you’d rather enjoy your wine with a plate of inspired regional cuisine, Majeka House should be your next stop. Owners Karine Dequeker and Lloyd van der Merwe are renowned for their generous hospitality and on the Majeka Kitchen menu, you’ll find a delicious array of plates that celebrate the local produce of the Cape Winelands and surrounds.
This family-owned boutique hotel has also won worldwide acclaim for its design-led sense of style, blending Winelands inspiration with a contemporary global aesthetic.
The 23 rooms and suites are dotted around the manicured gardens, with each given an individual touch by acclaimed designer Etienne Hanekom. Insider tip? The adjoining Poolside Choice suites share a plunge pool and are perfect for a small family or couples travelling together. Plus, that hot-pink flamingo mural is simply made for Instagram!
While the Winelands are known for their sense of indulgence, Majeka House also brings a sense of balance. The on-site Majeka Spa offers a wide range of facial and body therapies in three elegant treatment rooms, with access to hydrotherapy facilities included in all treatments.
Come evening, settle into the French-inspired armchairs of the Majeka lounge, a colourfully eclectic space to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or a glass of Vriesenhof Pinot Noir before dinner. It’s the perfect way to round off a day in paradise.
For curated group tours of the valley, tastings and farm lunches,
contact Hanlé Hill: 072 386 8470, email@example.com.
Visits to the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden are by appointment.
To make a reservation, contact 021 880 0054, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To book a wine tasting at Vriesenhof, contact 021 880 0284,
For reservations at Majeka House, call 021 880 1549 or