Located a little over an hour out of Cape Town, Darling in the Western Cape is a small town along the West Coast that has uncovered its epic potential. While this little town is a popular destination in September and October due to the breathtaking wildflower display and festival, there is so much more to Darling that makes it worth a visit throughout the year.
Since our focus has been to explore Cape Town and the surrounding areas for our #SundayStrolls posts on Instagram, this was the furthest we’d travelled in a while, especially given that we wouldn’t stay overnight.
Did you know that the team at West Coast Way are experts in curating the ideal road trip to suit your particular interests? Whether you’re keen to do a tour of all the wine farms or prefer to delve into the pure nature and wild wonders of the West Coast, they can offer you digital maps and suggestions on how to have the most memorable experience.
Museum Mystery Tour
For those who feel like they’ve been there, done that, believe me when I say that I felt that way too. We had visited the town for the wildflower show a few times but had not explored the business district until now. After hearing about a museum mystery tour, we decided to start there as it seemed like the ideal way to see the town through the eyes of the locals.
You start by visiting the Darling Museum and purchasing a ticket for each person. Tickets range from about R35, but we purchased a family ticket to cover two adults and two kids for R100. Once armed with a map and your first clue, you head off to search for treasure, first in the museum itself and then onto the rest of the town.
As we don’t want to spoil the surprise, we’d highly recommend that you try it for yourself. We saw parts of the town we had no idea existed that may have had something to do with us getting lost but, you’re probably better at reading clues than we are.
Evita se Perron
After working up an appetite, we headed into the town to find something to eat and found ourselves selecting Evita se Perron. Considered to be the base of operations and home of Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, the most famous white woman in South Africa, political activist and cabaret star, Evita se Perron occupies the buildings of the old Darling train station. This is where you can visit her museum, browse in the book shop, and grab a light meal or drink at the bar while you take a trip through history.
Kossie Sikelela is now open for Sunday 3-course set menu lunch bookings. While Tannie Evita’s cabaret shows are still on hold due to Covid19 restrictions, this would be an excellent way to celebrate a special occasion or meet up with loved ones for a chat.
The 2-course menu, which can be the starter and main course, or a main and dessert course, can get enjoyed for just R215. Alternatively, you can go the whole hog and pay R285 for all 3-courses.
Select from options that include aubergine salad or beef tartare, braai-spiced quail or lamb shoulder and white chocolate mousse or goats milk cheesecake. Once you’ve enjoyed a lovely meal and a few drinks, take your time as you explore the museum and then move onto the bookshop to select something to read or visit the market stalls outside to support the local economy.
The Groote Post experience
Located just 12 kilometres outside Darling, the Groote Post wine farm is the ideal stopover before heading back to Cape Town. The scenic farm used to be a dairy farm which fairly recently switched to wine farming instead and run by 3rd and 4th generation dairymen, Peter and Nico Pentz.
The family purchased the farm in 1972 and later purchased the Klaver Valley farm and expanded the estate to encompass over 2,800m2. In 1998, Peter received the prestigious South African Agricultural Writers National Farmer of the Year award for his excellence in dairy farming. However, in 2001, the family decided to turn their attention to wine farming instead and sold off their prized Holsten herd.
Groote Post offers a few options you can choose from in terms of how you’d like to experience the over 2,000 hectares of conservation-worthy Renosterveld and Atlantis Sand Fynbos. Why not make a booking and join the team on a 2-hour long farm drive where you get to enjoy a cheese and wine tasting while overlooking Table Mountain?
Book your spot 48 hours in advance and meet the team at 9 am for a drive through the game camp, where you can view indigenous species such as kudu, black wildebeest, springbok, and quagga. This memorable experience is available for just R225/adult or R95/child (ages 3-18 years). Children under the age of 3 can enjoy the drive at no cost.
If that is too early a start for you, you are welcome to stop by for a cheese and wine tasting under the umbrellas just outside the cellar before heading off for a short walk to visit the bird hide on the farm. Bird watchers from all over the world enjoy spotting Jackal Buzzards, Malachite Sunbirds, Southern Boubou and Fish Eagle from this location with many a celebratory bottle that gets shared after a particularly unique sighting.
Wining and dining
Visit the wine tasting room between 10 am and 4 pm daily to meet up with friends and try a few delicious wines in a relaxed, socially distanced environment.
Another option would be for you to make a booking at Hilda’s restaurant! Enjoy modern country cooking where the chef prioritises using fresh local produce where the menu, which is updated daily, has been designed around the exceptional Groote Post wines.
Secure your table by selecting a slot between Wednesday to Sunday for lunch seating from 12 pm to 2:30 pm. This could be the ideal intimate venue for that special occasion celebration.
These are just a few of the many unique experiences you can enjoy when you visit Darling which, thanks to its proximity to Cape Town is the ideal day trip location. Reach out to @westcoastwaysa on social media before you hit the road for tips on how to see the route like a local and make the most of your travels. Alternatively, why not book a trip for expert insights into the route and a tour you’ll never forget.
Of course, staying overnight at one of the many local accommodation spots would mean that you could take your time and explore properly but, if you only have a short time to leave the hustle and bustle, this may be just what you need to recharge and inspired.