Stellenbosch does do solo well, from delicious food and wine offerings to a rich history, modern art, outdoor and adventure experiences and various community experiences, there is no end to the experiences on offer in this picturesque town.
7 reasons why Stellenbosch is one of the best destinations in South Africa for solo travelers...
1.Incredible food (which you don't have to share)
Eating alone can be an intimidating experience the first time, but what makes it most enjoyable is that you don't have to share any of the delectable delights placed on your plate. They all remain you very own, and you get to enjoy every single bite! Stellenbosch has no shortage of incredible eateries. An abundance of wine farms play host to all manner of gourmet resturants. I lunched at Cuvee at Simonsig Wine Estate - a quite corner table with an unmatched view across the vineyards to Table Mountain and didn't feel isolated for one moment. For dinner, Makaron at Majeka House, one of the Top 20 restaurants in South Africa, is hard to beat. The 7 course wine and food tasting menu is an experience. If you're a true foodie don't forget to request the chef's table right in the kitchen for a night you'll never forget! Plus you get to chat to the friendly kitchen staff for company. P.S. If eating alone is still a taboo for you then pack a good book to fill the quiet moments.
2. A township tour (with time to meet the locals)
One of the aspects of traveling alone, especially as a woman, can be the safety of doing so which is why choosing to explore a destination such as a small country town like Stellenbosch instead of a large city can be a much wiser option. One of my favourite activities during my stay was a township tour of Kayamandi. This is one of the oldest, and safest, townships in South Africa and my guide Thembi was welcoming and warm, sharing stories of it's history and giving me insights into what living life as a local is really like. We wound our way through the streets, some paved and lined with brick houses, while others just dirt alley ways lined with rusted corrugated metal sheets homes. We popped in to enjoy a cup of tea and a chat with a family, visited a local artisan shop and watched a supper of "smileys" being prepared for commuters on their way home from work... but I'll let you discover what those are for yourself!
3. The opportunity to browse (at your leisure)
The streets of Stellenbosch are filled to bursting with all manner of interesting shops. So many to see and such little time... unless you are on your own and don't have anywhere to be or anyone to please except yourself. What utter bliss! A day spent browsing the side streets of Stellenbosch is surely something I will be aiming for again soon. On this visit I popped in to meet the owner of Ateljee boutique, located just off a pretty little square in the centre of town. This is a haven for fashion lovers, with an array of locally designed and produced items including clothing, leather handbags and delicate silver jewelery. This little shop is popular with the locals who trust it as a source of ethical fashion. I have plans to return soon to explore more of the quirky shops which I didn't get a chance to browse and there is no shortage of quirky coffee shops at which to refuel, De Oude Bakkerji, a firm favourite, is just a few steps away.
4. Unique wine pairings (that suit your palette)
Wine and Food pairings are nothing new... almost every wine estate seems to offer some sort of pairing on their menu be it Chocolate, Biltong, Nougat or even Tukish Delight. But nowhere else in the world offers a Salt & Wine pairing... This unique combination of wine, food and salt is only available at Fleur du Cap at Bergkelder in Stellenbosch and I was lucky enough to sample the salt selection and learn more about the cellar's wine offerings. Each wine was paired with a different salt from around the world and this salt was included in a bite sized food item that showcased the Unfiltered range of wines beautifully. Chef Craig Cormack believes that this range, which is inspired by nature, is ideal for salt pairing as the wines have greater complexity and these richly layered wines perfectly complement the saltiness of the food. This is a delightfully unique experience and was a fascinating lesson in learning what works well with each type of wine. Being on my own meant I had more time to talk to my lovely hostess to find out more about the history of the wines and ask all the questions I wanted to. And of course I could take things at a pace at which I felt comfortable.
5. Pamper sessions (without the guilt)
Announce you are taking a holiday on your own as a woman and immediately most people with think you are heading to the spa for some time out, but even though that is one of the most popular destinations for solo woman travelers, it's not the only activitiy we want to do when traveling alone. It's one of the them! And what could be better than booking yourself in to a spa for a day or two of complete privacy and pampering. When traveling alone the beauty is that you are beholden to no one and need not feel any guilt whatsoever for indulging your every whim. After all, you are the only person to please and if that means switching off your cell phone and taking some time to enjoy a massage followed by a facial and then by a mani or pedi then you are quite entitled to do just that... and enjoy every minute of it, without the guilt. Stellenbosch has a variety of top quality spa's, although The Lanzerac is hard to beat!
6. Entertainment and adventure experiences (of your choosing)
There's certainly no reason to be bored when visiting the "City of Oaks". Besides wining and dining your way around the winelands there are also so many other things to do in Stellenbosch when traveling alone. Choose from a live theatre show at AmaZink Live in Kayamandi township, a yoga session, bike or hike in the vineyards, participate in a cooking class at The Demo Kitchen or enjoy learning more about the town with a historical walking tour. For more ideas on what to do and where to go in Stellenbosch, visit stellenboschexperience.co.za or follow the hashtag #visitStellenbosch on social media.
7. Time to take it all in (at your own pace)
Taking a solo trip is all about doing things at your own pace. The serenity of waking up late and taking your time to savour each mouthful of your meal without interruption. Heading out the door to enjoy an activity unique to your interests or changing your mind at the last minute based on a whim is your perogative. Not to mention the empowerment you experience knowing you made it all happen on your own and arrived home safely, but braver and stronger for it!
If you still need a reason to pack your bags and plan your solo trip to Stellenbosch, then here are a few more facts and stats about why single travelers are the biggest growing segment in the tourism industry... and why you need to join them!
Stats about solo travelers
The 2014 Booking.com Solo Travel Report revealed that women felt more confident when holidaying alone as they have more freedom to be themselves and they are able to be more selfish with their time, without the added guilt.
After traveling solo, woman feel more energised and refreshed upon returning to their daily lives.
Solo travelers are more inclined to experience new cultures, take part in active holidays, acquire a new skill or give back to the destination they are visiting.
One of the reasons why this trend has taken off is the rise of social media in that woman feel far more connected, and therefore safe, while travelling solo.
50% of solo female travel fans plan to travel solo again within the next 12 months.
For more solo travel inspiration for your stay in Stellenbosch watch the following video which featured a few South African travel bloggers enjoying their #SoloStellenbosch experience.