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#SoloStellenbosch – an Undiscovered Gem for Solo Travellers

Posted by Lorenzo Samuels on 20 June 2019 6:05 AM CAT
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"Discovering Stellenbosch as a solo traveller"

Solo Travelling – a Growing Global Phenomenon

During the past 10 years, the expansive growth in the popularity of solo traveling has been a global phenomenon, opening new possibilities and destinations for the lifestyle and leisure travel markets of the world.

Annabel Fenwick Elliot, journalist of the UK based The Telegraph, published an extensive and well-researched article* in May 2018 entitled “Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?” Quoting various authoritative sources like ABTA (the UK's largest association of travel agents & tour operators), both the unlimited growth and exciting further potential of solo traveling are discussed and confirmed.

Main Trends

Elliot’s article amongst others stated that there are two main trends in respect of solo traveling.

Firstly, what appeared to be consistent, “is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising”. Hitwise confirmed at the time that the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 percent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. On the other hand singles holiday operator Just You indicated that the age of their clientele ranged from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group.

Secondly, solo traveling does not necessarily imply that the individual traveler is traveling on his/her own. Solo traveling can take place via groups of strangers organised by reputable travel and tour agents. However, solo traveling also often happens in smaller groups when strangers join other solo travelers that they meet when arriving at their destinations, and then travel on their own yet in a more secure manner with others.

#SoloStellenbosch – an Undiscovered Gem for Solo Travellers

Good news for South African and Western Cape tourism is the fact that the country has also been experiencing substantial growth in the number of visiting global solo travelers. According to Wesgro’s official figures, solo travelers accounted for no less than 19,2% of all tourists to the Western Cape in 2017.

Solo travelers to Stellenbosch often include numerous media bloggers from all over the world and they frequently post their stunning scenic pics of Stellenbosch and surrounds that can be seen on Stellenbosch 360’s Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/stellenboschtravel/.

Both travel journalists and media bloggers from abroad and South Africa have also raved about Stellenbosch as an ideal and exciting destination for solo travelers over the years – especially for those seeking an idyllic and scenic rural town with mountainous surrounds offering a vast combination of undiscovered gems going much further than indulging in world-class wining, dining and street soirees, including wonderful accommodation, spas, an ever-present student ‘vibe’, stunning nature reserves, world-renowned golf courses, the arts, culture, museums, history and much more.

However, Stellenbosch also caters for the growing generation of solo adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies of almost all ages from 20 and younger to the 70’s roaming the globe in search of new challenges. This second category encompasses adventurers in different disciplines including mountaineering, hang-gliding, abseiling, mountain biking, cycling, canoeing, aviation, 4x4 trails, horse-riding, and hiking,

 Solo Travelling by Women in Stellenbosch

Malani Venter, a journalist of the leading Western Cape daily Afrikaans newspaper Die Burger,  formed part of a group of 6 women journalists and bloggers who visited Stellenbosch in October 2017. She subsequently published a comprehensive article about Stellenbosch “from the viewpoint of a solo traveler” (translation from the Afrikaans language). She also covered the following 4 pertinent matters in her story which are briefly summarised.

o    Whether Stellenbosch is a ‘good’ destination for female solo travelers?

“It’s easy to find your way in the town, either on foot or on a bicycle that can be rented at the tourism office or elsewhere – an available app taxi service is also recommended. Make use of Uber for visits to wine farms. I found that personnel on duty at all the places I visited were well-informed and their service was excellent”.          

o    Is there enough to do on your own?

“Although this town is renowned for its great wines, it has a diverse offering including various engaging art shops and a multitude of coffee shops serving quality coffees. Guided town tours are available should you want to learn more about the town’s fascinating history, architecture, museums, street art and more. Do not forget the many walk and cycle tours in the town as well as the nearby wine farms”.

o    What is the best time of the year to visit Stellenbosch as a solo traveler?

“For me personally autumn and winter are the most beautiful times of the year to visit Stellenbosch. Tourist can also benefit from the lower seasonal rates that most hotels, guest houses and restaurants offer. The town is quieter and to me, the atmosphere of rain, burning fireplaces, and red wine combine to the unique charm of Stellenbosch as a tourist destination”.

o    Whether Stellenbosch is a safe solo travel destination?

“Answering the question whether there is any place in the world that is totally secure, the reply is obviously no. However, on arrival in Stellenbosch, establish the emergency telephone numbers of the police and the medical clinic and never walk around alone at night – it does not matter whether your hotel, guest house or restaurant are in walking distance”.

Future potential

Annemarie Ferns, CEO of Stellenbosch 360 as the official local tourism organisation, welcomes the growth in and further potential of solo travellers, both female and male, to Stellenbosch and surrounds as a South African travel destination of note and choice. “I believe that our visits to Europe, the East and the USA during the past 7 years to promote new and unique Stellenbosch tourism experiences and packages to the trade and travel and the world at large, are paying of dividents. We have succeeded in creating new awareness and favour for local experiences such as ‘Stellenbosch on Foot’ – focussing on our town’s exceptional architecture, art, botanical garden and others; for the immensely popular ‘Dine with the Locals’ and for ‘Wine pairing with traditional African food’. We are experiencing that solo travellers love our tourism offering and I am confident that our market share in this category will keep on growing.”

(* Annabel Fenwick Elliot’s article in The Telegraph in May 2018, can be viewed at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/whats-behind-the-rise-in-solo-travel)

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