The 2018 Hi-Tec Walkerbay Xtreme may be behind us, but the coastal town of Hermanus is still humming from the buzz and excitedly anticipating the 2019 event taking place from 26 to 28 April.
Prior to completing the event, I believe I totally underestimated the small town that sits just on the other side of Sir Lowry’s Pass. But since that long weekend in April I have been back to Hermanus monthly (sometimes twice a month!) and have found new and exciting things to do each time.
Nestled between mountain and sea, visitors and locals alike are spoilt for choice with activities, wining, dining, and adventure. Below are just 5 easy, accessible and cost-effective things to tick off your Hermanus bucket list before you find your extreme at the 2019 Walkerbay Xtreme Event.
1. The Hermanus Parkrun
Whether you’re into your running or not, you’ve definitely heard of the parkrun – free, timed 5km runs/walks that take place in different locations around the world. I may be a little biased, but I reckon the Hermanus parkrun is the best of them all! The route starts in the forest at the coffee shop and proceeds to loop through the well-maintained mountain bike tracks, with 1 or 2 little hills for a bit of a kick, finishing back at the start point. If you haven’t tackled this slightly challenging, off-road route yet you should definitely get to Hermanus one Saturday and give it a go! We ran it on one of the windiest days and had absolutely no regrets! There were parkrunners of all ages, shapes and running abilities…and we were fortunate enough to spend an hour alongside one Mr Johann Andersen (featured in the image above) who at 83 completed just another Saturday parkrun with us. What a treat! And that’s what it’s all about. Encouraging everyone – no matter their fitness levels – to get up, get out and get active. From walkers to those taking their first steps in running to Olympians. It’s such an awesome, healthy way for people to start their day surrounded by like-minded outdoor enthusiasts.
WHERE: Hermanus Forest, Camphill Road, Hemel en Aaarde Valley, Hermanus, 7200
WHEN: Every Saturday at 08h00 come rain, shine or gale force winds as we came to discover!
PRICE: Nothing – it’s a free 5km run but bring a bit of cash for a coffee at the end!
2. Hermanus Country Market
Once we had completed the parkrun we were on a mission to find the best coffee in town. So we followed a local’s recommendation and went to the market in our ‘active wear’ ready to re-energise with a hot cuppa. Everyone who has met me will confirm that I am a HUGE market fan! And I am an even bigger fan of the Hermanus Country Market. In terms of food and drink, there is something for everyone. For the health nuts there are fresh juices, smoothies and organic produce, then there are home made delicacies, artisan breads and mouthwatering meals which can be finished off with sweet treats like real ice-cream from Camphill, wheat-free bakes or hand made cheeses, There is even great wine and craft beer! Apart from the treats the market also boasts a whole variety of arts & crafts, as well as live music, plants and all things that are good for your health and happiness. The whole vibe and feel is relaxed, fun, family-friendly, inclusive and just absolutely CHILLED.
WHERE: Hermanus Cricket Club
WHEN: Every Saturday between 09h00 and 13h00
PRICE: Entrance is free and there are a number of vendors where you can purchase food and beverages with cash, cards or Snapscan/Zapper
3. The Wine Hopper
Then there is my love and appreciation for all things vino, and where better to enjoy wine than in the famous Hemel en Aarde! The Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Hopper is possibly the best way to experience the boutique wine farms and award-winning wines of the valley. The reason it is so worthwhile is because there is ZERO rush and YOU get to decide how you want to spend the day. I was a little apprehensive about the Hopper at first, as my worst thing about wine tours and tastings is having to rush. But I was pleasantly surprised. The classically South African safari-style vehicles follow a set route and pass each wine farm on the route every 20-30 minutes. So basically. for just R250 (excluding the tastings and meals) the hopper enables you to simply hop-on here, hope-off there, and stay at whichever farms steal your heart for however long you please in order for you to get the full experience. It’s an absolute must! Book your spot online and find out which farms you will be visiting on the day you choose.
WHERE: Ticket Office & Departure Point: Stall 18, Village Market Stall, Market Square Street
WHEN: Mon-Fri, 09h00-17h00. Sat, 09h30-17h00. Sun (1 Oct to 30 April) 09h00-17h00. Sun (1 May to 30 Sept), CLOSED
PRICE: The all-day ticket is just R250 per person excluding wine tastings and meals
4. Cliff Path Strolls
No matter where I am or how tired I am, I believe there is no better way to start the day than with a brisk walk, outside, in the fresh air. And when in Hermanus, the best place to do this is along the cliff paths that wind their way next to the coastline. The whole path is roughly 10km long, but my favourite section is from the Old Harbour to the New Harbour. It really doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done that walk, it is totally different each time. The views are constantly changing and you’re bound to see something new whether it’s whales during whale season, different types of wildlife or a breathtaking sunrise/sunset. I love going early morning to avoid the foot traffic and catch the sunrise. It’s amazing walking into the day listening to the calming sound of the crashing waves or morning birdsong. The cliff path also has a number of benches where you can sit and watch the whales or have a sundowner on the rocks admiring the sunset.
WHERE: Westcliff Rd, Hermanus, Overstrand 7200, South Africa
WHEN: Early morning sunset strolls, or late evening sundowners are the best. The best months to go is August/September during whale season where you are likely to spot whales breaching and splashing in the water.
PRICE: It’s totally free. Spend 2-3 hours walking the +-10km strip along the coast.
5. Hemel en Aarde MTB Routes
I will be the first to say that I DO NOT mountain bike. In fact, more truthfully, I CANNOT mountain bike. But since tentatively completing my first mountain bike race during the Walkerbay Xtreme in Hermanus (it was a compulsory event that formed part of The Big 6) I have found yet another activity to add to the list…although I’m pretty sure it was cycling through the area that sold me to the sport more than the actual activity! The Hemel en Aarde valley has some stunning views and awesome well-marked, well-maintained routes that accommodate for every class and style of mountain biker. The trails vary from river meanders to vineyards, and boasts some exceptional views over Hermanus and the Overstrand. If you are keen to explore the trails there are a few options that are available to you. You can use your own bike or rent a bike from one of the many bike rental shops (we did a half-day rental from GoBike Hermanus) and follow the routes on your own. Alternatively you can opt for a guided cycling trip. There are also some cool tours that I have yet to try, but have heard great things about, like the Mountain & Wine Off Road Tour from GoBike. It’s definitely scheduled for the next Hermanus trip! Either way, whether your up for a short 6km or want to go on a full-day mission, the valley is simply a stunning place to ride through.
WHERE: Starting from the Hemel en Aarde Village, the route follows the tar road into the valley – look out for the route markers on the left dropping into single track along the river winding into the valley. This is flat with a slight drag up till the Camphill turnoff. Here you turn left and follow the gravel road.
Green: 6.5km – 30 to 60 minutes
Blue: 15km – 1 to 2 hours
Red: 25km – 2 to 4 hours
Black: 35km – 3 to 5 hours
WHEN:The trails are open all year round and are always a pleasure to ride.
PRICE: You need to purchase a permit in order to ride the trails. Adult day permits cost R60 (R600 annual) and scholar day permits cost R30 (R200 annual).
So there you have it, my top 5 quick, easy and cost-effective activities to do in Hermanus that you should definitely complete before the Hi-Tec Walkerbay Xtreme 2019 Sports Event! But this is not even close to the complete list – there really is SO MUCH MORE to this unsuspecting, picturesque town! For myself, I am absolutely hooked! And I can guarantee that you will be too!
Article written by Jamie-Lee Day