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Meaning “sweet water” in the language of the Khoisan, the nomadic hunter-gatherers who inhabited the area over 100 000 years ago, the Keisie is a 18km-long valley enclosed by the foothills of the Langeberg mountain range in the Little Karoo, the semi-desert inland region to the south of the Karoo in the Western Cape, one of the world’s most unique arid zones and South Africa’s largest ecosystem.

Rich Pickings

Nature dazzles in this land of extremes, where the silence is so pure you can hear the flowers grow and the stars so near it’s as if you have only to reach out to touch them. The dry climate, together with the naturally limed soils, is ideal for the cultivation of vineyards, grown predominantly on the high slopes in the fertile alluvial soil along riverbanks. The Klein Karoo Wine Route , which stretches along the Cape Route 62 from Montagu in the west to Langkloof in the east, is arguably the most diverse of South Africa’s wine regions and its various microclimates enable winemakers to produce a wide variety of quality wines, including dry wines, fortified wines and pot-stilled brandies. World-class Port and South Africa’s champion Muscadel are specialties among the fortified wines produced here, along with a host of outstanding red and white wines, which vary from full-bodied Cabernets to lighter styles for easy drinking.

Olives, too, thrive in this climate and the area produces the full spectrum of these versatile fruits, from Manzanilla and Mission table olives to Frantoio and Coratina oil olives, all prized for their coveted monounsaturated fats and high Vitamin E content. Stone, citrus and soft fruits as well as squashes and gourds are also grown in abundance here, and come spring, the valley is awash with white and pink apricot and peach blossoms.

Land of Plenty

The valley is home to many species of birds and small animals, including the black eagle, dassies, baboons, duiker, rhebuck, klipspringer, steenbok, otters, badgers, karacal, bat-eared foxes, tortoises and even the occasional leopard.

The area’s vegetation is hardy renosterveld (rhinoceros bush), one of the major vegetation types of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest and most diverse of the six recognised floral kingdoms of the world, and a World Heritage Site. A very large selection of indigenous wild flowers – from proteas, ericas and aloes to lilies, watsonias, and gladioli (Gladiolus Stephanie is endemic to the area) – can be seen at all times of the year thanks to perennial streams that flow through the area.

The Keisie Valley also has an enormous geological significance, the many vertical rock faces – a prime example of the famous Cape fold mountains – revealing where 450 million years of history have been sliced open and to expose a landscape that was once buried beneath the glaciers of Gondwana.

Of infinite sight-seeing and special-interest appeal in its own right, the Keisie Valley is also an ideal base for exploring this very unique region of the Western Cape, with the historic towns of Montagu, Ceres, Worcester, Robertson, Bonnievale, Swellendam and Barrydale all within easy access.


Some fun things to do:

  • Take a tractor ride up the Langeberg Mountain and enjoy a traditional potjiekos meal at an altitude of 1 500m. Find out more ... Tractor Trips

  • Bathe in the legendary healing waters of the world-famous Montagu hot springs. Find out more ... Avalon Hot Springs, Montagu

  • Enjoy scenic walks, nature trails and mountain hikes, including the Bloupunt trail (15,6km), the Cogmanskloof trail (12,1km), Aasvoelkraans trail (3.2km), the Badskloof trail (2,2km) and the famous Lovers Walk, a scenic 500m walk along the banks of the Keisie river, below Kanonkop Mountain. Click here for a downloadable hiking-trail map ... Hiking Trail Map (PDF)

  • Cycle one of the area’s many well-marked mountain biking routes. For bicycle hire, contact Montagu Cycle Hire Click here for a cycling trail map ... Cycling Trail Map

  • Montagu is the most developed sport climbing area in the Western Cape (if not the country) and is considered one of the 10 rock climbing “hot spots" in the world thanks to its unique rock faces and ideal climbing conditions. Find out more ... Montagu Climbing

  • Visit the galleries and studios of Montagu’s huge contingent of resident artists on the Montagu Arts & Crafts Route. Click here for a downloadable Arts & Crafts Route map ...Montagu Arts & Crafts Route Map

  • Adrenaline junkies will relish the Karoo Adventures Zip Slide, which offers a variety sliding options at numerous heights and speeds on a network of cables that span one of the best preserved canyons in the Koo Valley. Find out more ... Karoo Adventures

  • Spend the day river rafting on the nearby Breede River, gentle enough for first timers with enough small rapids to keep it exciting for practised paddlers. Find out more ... Rafting Route 62

  • Put your Landrover through its paces on a 4 x 4 mountain trail that winds it way over the inclines and through the crannies of this unique landscape. Find out more ... 4x4 Mountain Trail, Leeuwenboschfontein
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