Previously, on our way to the sublime Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden on the outskirts of the Paradyskloof suburb of Stellenbosch, we passed by what looked to be an informal parking area in front of a gate that in turn guarded a pine plantation – but which most importantly appeared to freely allow people to walk or ride through it. As it turns out, we had passed the gate into Eden Forest, otherwise known as the Paradyskloof nature area, another mountain bike and hiking mecca for Stellenbosch locals.
Forming part of the comprehensive Stellenbosch Trails system (maintained through a partnership between the Stellenbosch Municipality and the Stellenbosch Trail Fund community organisation) that crisscross the lower ranges of the Stellenbosch mountain, the Paradyskloof gate puts you slap bang in the middle of the trail network that stretches from the University of Stellenbosch owned Coetzenburg rugby fields on the left, all the way across to the vineyards of the Mont Marie wine estate on the right.
The area is littered with well maintained mountain bike trails covering both single and jeep track options, including the popular Mark Gordon created and cheekily named G-Spot MTB Trail, to test your skills out on. Of course, the trails aren’t restricted to people racing about on bicycles either, offering plenty to tackle for the hiker marching about on foot. Fynbos, mountain ridges, views for days, and of course as this particular section of the trails indicate, a Pine Forest to waddle through.
Towards the end of January, Chantelle and I chanced the sweltering Summer sun and took the girls out for a walk under these very trees, which they begrudgingly did and hopefully enjoyed. (Its always hard to tell because the initial excitement wears off pretty quickly and then the bargaining with rewards has to swoop in to save the day). We marched about without aim or any sort of plan, and so didn’t necessarily walk particularly far, but it was a good workout accompanied by some crisp clean air – in other words exactly what one wanted after being cooped up for so long following the various earlier Covid-19 lockdowns.
Walk now complete, we next drove our sweaty selves around Stellenbosch, doing general sightseeing and even popping into Adam & Eve Collab to scope out their newly announced on the side Ceramic painting initiative, followed by a drive out and visit to an even better option when it comes to decorating and glazing your own ceramic creations, the aptly name Ceramic Cafe in Raithby, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. Naturally the girls are now very adamant that we immediately set aside some time to spend a Saturday afternoon doing this! And then of course the aforementioned rewards earlier proffered needed to be honored, hence the final photo of the girls eating soothing McFlurry ice creams in the very crisply air-conditioned halls of McDonalds at Waterstone Village in Somerset West. (Honestly, at this sweaty point in the day I didn’t actually mind doling out this reward! :D)