Ceres: Eden of the Cape

2013-03-08 15:31

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I am from a sleepy town in the northern region of the Eastern Cape and coming to Cape Town has vastly opened my heart and mind. I’ve met different yet remarkable people and we have had conversations about everything under the sun. But visiting Ceres is the highlight of my travelling thus far.

The place resembles the town where I come from. Welcoming, striking and sleepy yet vibrant – this is probably the most common aspect between the two. I felt at home from the very first minute, seeing the people going about their usual business, others heading to and from work. It told me a story about a town in tranquillity.

Allow me to tell you about Ceres, named after the Roman goddess of fruitfulness.

At the centre of one of the most important deciduous fruit producing areas in the Western Cape, South Africa, this town is located 150 kilometres or 90 minutes drive from the Mother City.

You can reach this attractive town through Michell’s Pass (from Cape Town, via N1, R43, R46), Theronsberg Pass (from Touws River, R46) and Gydo Pass (from Citrusdal, R303).

However, if you really like experiencing the unique aspects of a destination while travelling then you should hazard a visit during the winter months. These beautiful mountains are often covered in snow, earning it the title Little Switzerland. It would be ideal to spoil yourself with activities like skiing and snowboarding.

A view of the Ceres Valley in winter (Shutterstock)

To me, the purpose of travelling is to learn, to get to know people from hidden places as you experience their culture, language and food. Places such as Ceres, with its rich history. You get to listen to stories about the Koue Bokkeveld and the open plains of the Tanqua Karoo first occupied by the ‘forefathers of the Cape’, the San and Khoi, thousands of years ago. The San rock painting sites in the area are some of the best conserved in the country and thus making Ceres the one of the richest town in terms of heritage.

Because Ceres is blessed abundantly as a fruit producer, feasting on fruit products like jam or chutney is just like a walk in the park. Or in this case a walk through the Kitchen of Eileen Baron, the owner of award-winning Baba’s Je’m. Smells of mouth-watering recipes tickle you nose as you enter and you will be blown over by the tastes of these fruits that have been turned into delicious preserves.

Ms Baba Jem herself

Eileen, nicknamed Baba was busy preparing her secretly made ‘vetkoek’ (fat cake) when we visited and it would seem it was a divine appointment as she hails from a sleepy town just next to my town. Eating the homemade vetkoek with her atchar and chutney resurrected a long lost connection with my town, making me feel even more at home in Ceres.

Did I tell you about food at the Eden Restaurant and coffee shop? The family-owned restaurant is out of this world, the food is fresh and simple yet tasty. As I made entry into skilfully decorated place, I thought of trying spare ribs with veggies and I truly liked their juicy and tender method of owner and Chef John Moreland. Remember Ceres is part of the Cape Winelands route, so for a drink, try a Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon before feasting on their wide range of desserts.

Although sleepy and laid back, Ceres has its fair share when it comes to those who love to go wild and lead an outdoor lifestyle. Visiting Kagga Kamma and Inverdoorn Private Game Reserves to spot a buffalo, white rhino, giraffe and zebra is quite an experience especially if seeing these animals live - not in a zoo – and in its natural surroundings.

It would also be an injustice to not point out that you can indulge in fishing, hiking, birding and mountain biking activities at Eselfontein farm, Matroosberg Nature Reserve and Hiking Trail.

I fell in love with Ceres and coming back, whether for a lunch at Eden Restaurant or a glance at the beautiful scenery will absolutely not be a waste of time.

Visit their site to get more information before packing your stuff and set off for the ideal weekend escape to Eden of the Cape.


Read more on:    travel south africa

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