Paarl was the third European settlement to be established in South Africa, after Cape Town and Stellenbosch and is, today, the largest town in the Cape Winelands. It is situated about 60km outside of Cape Town and is renowned for its haunting scenic beauty and deep viticulture and fruit growing heritage. In the 1600s the French Huguenots arrived in the Western Cape and began to settle on farms in the area. The fertile soil and the Mediterranean-like climate of this region provided perfect conditions for farming. The settlers planted orchards, vegetable gardens and above all, vineyards. Thus began Paarl's long and continuing history as a major wine and fruit producing area of South Africa.
Paarl gained international attention when, on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Correctional Centre (now known as Drakenstein Correctional Centre) in Paarl, ending 27 years of imprisonment and beginning the march to South Africa's post-apartheid era and multi-racial elections. Mandela spent three years in prison here and, today, a bronze statue of Mandela stands outside the prison. The district is particularly well known for "Paarl Rock", a huge granite rock that is formed by three rounded outcrops that make up Paarl Mountain and has been compared in majesty to Uluru in Australia. This enormous granite boulder is a mecca for experienced mountain climbers.
Surrounded by majestic oak trees and manicured gardens, the hotel has been restored to its former Victorian elegance and welcomes guests from around the globe. Situated on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, just a few kilometers along from the renowned Grande Roche hotel, Pontac Manor Hotel welcomes visi...
Paarl's reputation as one of the most significant wine tasting regions in the Western Cape puts it in a primary position on the Cape Wine Route. Visitors travel from far and wide to observe the scenic beauty and to taste the world-renowned wines born from Paarl's exceptional vineyards. The town and its surroundings attract many visitors with an array of activities and interests. There are magnificent Cape Dutch buildings, scenic drives, hiking trails and the many wine tasting opportunities (including vintages from the famous Nederburgestate) and excellent restaurants. The "Paarl Rock" is a popular destination for rock climbers. Nowadays protection is afforded by bolts in the granite and there are a few dozen spectacular, beautiful and difficult routes that attract the best climbers of the current generation.
Paarl attracts locals and tourists alike with its culutural heritage and the tribute paid to its natural beauty and organic resources. Every year, there are fantastic events held to celebrate these features and visitors to Paarl are bound to be kept busy in between their exceptional wine tasting experiences. Horse, cycling and quad bike trails; hot air ballooning; organic markets; nature reserves and wildlife attractions; delectable cuisine at well-reputed restaurants and coffee shops; beauty treatments at salons and spas; and of course, what brings visitors to this superb Western Cape town - the vineyard and winery tours, as part of the Cape Wine Route.
Paarl normally receives about 657mm of rain per year and because it receives most of its rainfall during winter it has a Mediterranean climate. It receives the lowest rainfall (9mm) in February and the highest (121mm) in June. The monthly distribution of average daily maximum temperatures shows that the average midday temperatures for Paarl range from 16.4°C in July (mid-winter) to 28.2°C in February (late-summer). Varying temperatures can see summer days getting as hot as 40 degrees Celsius and winter nights as cold as 5.8°C on average.
Ideally, visitors travelling around the Western Cape are advised to make use of a rental car, particularly if wanting to explore the wine route. Paarl is about 60km from Cape Town, most easily accessed from the City itself along the main motorway, N1 North; however, there are also scheduled train and bus trips that transport people between Cape Town and Paarl. Sun Safaris takes pleasure in organising guests' transportation in and around the wine route, starting at Cape Town International airport.