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Slowing down to enjoy the stops along the way

If heaven were to be found on earth, I have found a little piece of it. I would never have found it if I did not consciously decide to experience the journey instead of rushing to the destination. Our journey to the Hemel en Aarde valley was all about taking it slow with no sense of urgency to get anywhere in a rush.

Have you ever travelled on holiday in a tight time frame? It could be the constraints we place on time for leisure and vacations, but in some way, in our rush to get somewhere, we miss so much in-between. In many ways, the destination has become more important than the journey. We’re so busy planning and organising, often just waiting for the time to pass until we get there, that we forget to notice and really experience the trip.

I have driven past the Hemel en Aarde Valley many times in a rush to get somewhere else, most often to visit Creation Wines or lunch at the Heaven restaurant, and then rushing back to where I’m staying. We’ve often spoken of how beautiful the drive is and wondered about the wine farms signposted along the way – but we’ve never stopped to explore.

Last month, our group of ten long-time friends decided to take it slow and explore the magic this area has on offer. We opted for a walking tour accompanied by our lovely tour guides Gillian and Ralph (pictured below) from Africansunroad. Read all about the customised tours they offer in this newsletter. We had the opportunity to tailor-make our tour by combining visits to wine farms with a walk through the gorgeous fynbos landscape.

Not only is this area home to fifteen boutique wineries – which already puts it at the top of my visit list – but the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful as the valley nestles in a sweeping fynbos landscape surrounded by towering mountains.

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring nature in the heart of the Cape floral kingdom on foot. We saw beautiful indigenous fynbos, gorgeous proteas and spectacular birdlife – including a blue crane – South Africa’s national bird! One of the highlights was meeting a wonderful lady at the Hamilton Russel vineyard who shared all the stories of this valley with us. She spoke with so much passion and had a wealth of knowledge to share after spending fourteen years on the farm. Apart from the wine farms, there is so much to see and do! We visited magnificent orchards, including pear, fig and a berry farm that exports their produce.

We shared great stories, belly laughter and delicious food on this trip – juxtaposed with the absolute tranquillity and stillness of the surroundings. We stayed on different farms in charming cottages and spent our evenings chatting and playing bridge. Of course, I am still a novice bridge player, but it’s an activity we started as friends during lockdown and still enjoy.

Here we are at the end of our walking tour – happy, energised, relaxed, and so grateful to have taken our time to watch the world go by slowly instead of rushing through.

This trip has made me realise how much I have missed by getting wrapped up in the destination. By meandering on foot with no sense of urgency, we took in the beautiful scenery, charming places and interesting people. We lingered for as long as it took to imprint our journey to memory. Our destination unfolded with each step we took and made even more special by sharing it with good friends.


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