The small, pretty hamlet of Montagu, in the borderlands of the Klein Karoo region of the Western Cape province, has a secret: apart from having some of the best hot springs in the country, as well as a robust dried fruit industry, it’s the muscadel capital of South Africa.
What is muscadel? It’s South Africa’s official word for port, now that, because of certain trade agreements, we’re not allowed to use that word to describe sweet, fortified after-dinner and dessert wines. (The same goes for “champagne”, incidentally; it’s now officially called “sparkling wine” or “Methode Cap Classique” here.)A fine Montagu tradition among many of its B&Bs is to greet guests with a small bottle of local muscadel – a practice which SA Logue can only encourage. One can then take the bottle off to the mineral springs, and warm oneself wonderfully up, inside and out!
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Getting to Montagu is a treat, for it involves an approach either through historic Swellendam, SA’s 3rd oldest town, or through quaint Robertson, which has its own wine route. From Montagu, one can then ramble around the Klein Karoo on Route 62 – a drive to the nearby country-bohemian village of Barrydale is especially worthwhile.