Franschhoek, The Winelands, South Africa
At a Glance
A great base from which to explore the area
Each property is extremely comfortable and full of character
The lawn and pools at Explorers and the Library are a perfect place to relax after an activity filled day
Draw on Jo's knowledge of the local area for restaurant recommendations and things to do and see
On a winter night, make use of the classic dvd collection at each property for an evening in by the fire
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
The Winelands are a wonderful year-round destination and enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, somewhat like the South of France, which is what makes the area perfect for grape-growing. Summer is the reverse of the Northern hemisphere. The best season visit is September to March when it is hot, sunny and dry. From April to August it cools down with some rain.
To start planning your vacation to Explorers Club
Explorers Club is a collection of four self-catered houses in Franschhoek, at the heart of South Africa's Winelands region. These properties offer something for everyone, from honeymooners through to older families.
Explorers Club is the brainchild of self-confessed traveler/adventurers Jo Sinfield and Tom Priday. The pair came up with the idea over a few too many bottles of wine on the Croatian coast in the late 1990s. Today, Explorers Club is made up of a collection of four properties in the very center of Franschhoek, the food and wine capital of South Africa, and set in probably the most picturesque wine valley in the world.
The houses are all less than 5 minutes walk to the Franschhoek High Street, but are set in quiet little side roads so even in peak periods the area is calm and quiet - a great place to retreat from after a day out exploring. The Map Room is set just off one of the oldest streets in Franschhoek, still a dirt track, it is not uncommon to see the occasional tractor rumble past, laden down with a trailer full of grapes or fruit from the surrounding vineyards and orchards.
One of the great selling points of this collection of houses is that they offer something to suit all types of visitor to the area. Whilst marketed as self-catered, they can arrange for the fridge to be stocked at an additional cost but this must be requested in advance.
Each house has been decorated by Jo, and all while being different, represent something of his adventurous past. African prints, the odd bone, mounted horns and other, often humorous curiosities are found throughout, together they give the interiors an interesting and welcoming atmosphere.
Each house offers different accommodation options and the Library and Explorer's Club are situated next to each other and can interconnect, if required for larger groups.
The Explorer's House is a bungalow, so would be best for families with young children, while the Library is on two levels with a large open plan living area on the first floor. The Library would be best for a family with older children, or a group of friends traveling together. The Map Room would best suit honeymooners or couples wanting lots of privacy.
Sleeps 6 in 3 double ensuite bedrooms. 2 bedrooms are in the main house and 1 is in the pool house. 2 of the king size doubles can be split into twins.
The Library sits next to and interconnects (if required) with The Explorers Club which can sleep 10.
|The Explorer's Club||
4 bedrooms sleeping up to six adults, four children, and one toddler in a cot.
Master bedroom with king sized bed and ensuite bathroom.
Second bedroom with queen sized bed and ensuite shower room.
The third bedroom can be used for children or young adults and has an ensuite bathroom.
Up some stairs in the eaves of the cottage is a room with two single beds that can be made into a king. There is a bath beneath the side window in the same room and a loo at the bottom of the stairs.
|The Map Room||
A large master bedroom with inbuilt bath and ensuite wet-room.
A second ensuite bedroom can be made up as either a twin or king size bed.
Designed to accommodate up to four adults and two children.
Master bedroom in the eaves with a built in mosaic bath. An adjoining study has a sofa bed and large desk.
Downstairs is a second double bedroom and an adjoining bedroom with bunk beds.
Babysitters can easily be organized through the owners. They have a number of ladies who work in the properties who also provide a child-minding or baby-sitting service. It's a good option to allow you flexibility to go out for dinner in one of the many restaurants that are a short walk or drive from the houses.
The owner, Jo Sinfield, has lived in Franschhoek for over a decade. He knows the ins and outs of the town and surrounding area, and is happy to make restaurant recommendations and plan activities for any visitors to the Explorers Club properties.
Both The Explorers Club and the Library have a good sized back garden with swimming pool. Cooks Cottage has a small, 3m x 3m, plunge pool in the garden. The Map Room does not have a pool but has a balcony with great views up to the mountains and plenty of space for a BBQ and a table and chairs.
All of the houses have fully equipped kitchens, wood burning fire places, outside areas with BBQ facilities, washing machines and dryers, satellite TV and all except Cooks Cottage have wifi.
A maid is available to service each of the properties at an extra charge on request. The Explorers Club and Library can also provide full catering at an extra charge on request.
There is so much on offer in this area: from visits to the numerous vineyards and wineries, to hiking and mountain bike trails, trout fishing, horse riding, cooking classes, art classes and much more.
Sarah Clegg (Staff)
It would be hard to pick my favorite of these 4 properties, all just 2 minutes walk from the Franschhoek high street. Owned by traveler/adventurer Jo Sinfield, the Explorers Club houses are packed full of character and atmosphere. If I was off for a fun couple of days with friends it would have to be the Library: on two levels with the bedrooms on the ground floor and a vast open planned top floor of kitchen, dining area, sitting rooms and library, this is a very cool but a totally relaxed spot to stay where youre never far from the action. The Explorers Club, on the other hand is perfect for a family, a spacious bungalow with even more character than the Library, the walls are hung with Jos collection of African prints and every nook is home to some sort of sculptural tribute to a life traveling the continent. Both have grassy lawns and outdoor pools, its important to use them and not overdo it out and about..!!
Jo has lived in Franschhoek for 11 years, and prides himself in being as hands on and available as his guests want him to be. He can get you into restaurants that youve been told are overbooked, and has a host of secrets to take you off the beaten tourist path to unearth some true gems.
As South Africa;s gastronomic capital, the leafy old town of Franshhoek has plenty of fine hotels. But for families or larger groups, the Explorers Club is the perfect place to stay. The biggest of four self-catering houses here designed by "adventurer and antiques expert" Jo Sinfield, it sleeps up to ten in impeccably "stylish" rooms, with white wooden ceilings and eclectic decor (including vintage wall maps and "recycled furniture"). The large living area opens along one wall onto a long swimming pool beside which there's an outdoor wall braii.
Dine at Babel
A trip to the Winelands is not complete without visiting Babylonstoren. A walk through the gardens is a fantastic experience, time your visit to take advantage of Babel's opening times. Lunch here is not to be missed!
Dinner reservation at Tokara
This evening we have booked you a table at Tokara.
Le Quartier Lounge Bar
Le Quartier Lounge Bar is a recently opened, stylish cocktail bar at Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek. Mixologist, Matthew Roberts is quickly making it Franschhoek's evening 'hot spot' with his unique, African-inspired cocktails.
The Garden at Babylonstoren
Take the opportunity to explore the wonderful acres of Babylonstoren's gardens. Team up with the gardeners for a fun and interactive experience.
Waterford Wine Estate Wine Drive Safari
Waterford Wine Estate, in the heart of Stellenbosch offers a range of tours for visitors, including a Wine Safari Tour in a safari style Land Rover, a Wine and Chocolate Tasting Tour and a Reserve Vintage Tasting Tour.
Wine at Babylonstoren
Enjoy an interactive tour of a working wine farm. Babylonstoren take you from the grape to the finished product. The enthusiasm and commitment to the Babylonstoren ideal shines through on this tour.
Location & directions
Franschhoek, The Winelands, South Africa
Situated in the heart of Franschhoek, only a couple of minutes walk to the bustling village center. The Explorers houses are ideally located to explore the South African winelands.
How to get there
11-hour flight from London to Cape Town, followed by a 1-hour drive to Franschhoek.