Explore the Great Outdoors from La Cabrière with Hiking and more!
La Cabrière Country House is located in the beautiful and historic Franschhoek Valley, 60kms east of Cape Town and is in close proximity to all the top Franschhoek outdoor activities.
When one drives from the direction of Stellenbosch and Helshoogte, the Franschhoek Mountains close off the Valley from the east.
The Franschhoek Pass falls within the Limietberg Nature Reserve and remains one of the most picturesque passes in the country. It forms part of the “Four Passes” – a well-known day-trip which visits Helshoogte, Franschhoek, Viljoen’s and Sir Lowry’s Passes. The stone bridge over Jan Joubert’s Gat is a great feature here.
So, what DOES the Pass OFFER VISITORS to La Cabrière?
La Cabriere Country House is located at the bottom of the Franschhoek Pass and therefore near many Franschhoek outdoor activities like hiking for instance. Take a 5km drive up the pass to access the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve to begin one of 3 different hiking trails.
Views of the Franschhoek Valley, Wemmershoek Dam and parts of the Theewaterskloof Dam can be enjoyed from these trails – and even Table Mountain on a clear day.
Hiking trails are well maintained and clearly marked – all that is required of visitors is to purchase a permit before setting off.
Permits are available at the Franschhoek Tourism Office, the Protea Hotel or the Huguenot Museum (approximately R20 per person). You will also be supplied with a map of the possible routes when acquiring the permit.
Hiking trails in the Mont Rochelle reserve range in difficulty. For an easy start one should try the 6km walk to the viewpoint (+/- 3 hours), then there is also the Cats Pass Trail – 10.5km to the summit of Cats Pass (5km), the moderate to fairly strenuous 14km hike to Du Toitskop (+/- 5 hours) and finally the 15km hike to Perdekop which requires a high level of fitness (6 – 8 hours)
Another hiking trail worth mentioning starts at the La Motte Wine Estate located approximately 8km from La Cabrière Country House This trail is a 5.6km (2 hour) circular trail through Fijnbos & along a scenic mountain route. The hike is quite strenuous and must be pre-booked at the La Motte Tasting Room at R50 per person. La Motte focuses on biodiversity & kids interested in indigenous plants can experience a tour through the greenhouses.
Franschhoek was originally known as Oliphant’s Hoek due to the migration of the elephants across the mountains at the change of seasons. In the early days of settlement, the white settlers would use these same paths carved out by the elephants to travel across on foot or on horseback, but the route was too narrow and steep for wagons. This prompted the Cape Government to contract a local farmer, SJ Cats, to build a mountain pass in 1818.
Cats had no formal training, and completed the road within a year – the route remained dangerous, and wagons could carry no more than eight bags of corn. Cats’ road soon fell into disuse, but his name remains an important & widely recognized one in Franschhoek, with one of the most famous hiking trails in the area named after him. In 1822, Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape Colony, authorized the building of a pass which would be a gateway between the Overberg and Cape Town. He appointed Major William Cuthbert Holloway (Head of the Colonial Engineer’s department) to lead the project. The pass was to be built either through the Franschhoek Mountains or through the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The latter option was 5 times more expensive, making Franschhoek the decided location for SA’s first professionally designed and constructed mountain pass.
The labour for the massive project was provided by 150 soldiers based in Cape Town who were waiting to be deployed to Sierra Leone. The pass was completed in 1825, and was wide enough for 2 wagons to pass each other. One of the monumental features of the pass is South Africa’s oldest stone arch bridge built over Jan Joubert’s Gat – subsequent bridges have incorporated this bridge, making it the oldest still in use in South Africa today. The Franschhoek Pass became the main gateway to the Overberg until Sir Lowry’s Pass was constructed in 1830. It carried traffic for more than 100 years before it was reconstructed in 1932/33 in a massive road works project to improve the geometrics. The pass was finally tarred in the 1960s and then completely resurfaced in 2005.