Stellenbosch is located in the Western Cape Winelands region and surrounded by towering mountains and hills lined with vineyards. The oldest town in South Africa, Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel. With its fertile soil, the Dutch East India Company intended to grow vegetables in the valley and supply the ships en route to the East Indies. The first farmers settled on the Eerste River in 1683, with the first colonialists from the Netherlands, Germany, France and Britain. It is the Cape Dutch architecture that has proved the most distinctive over the years. The early townspeople were encouraged to plant oak trees and the area became known as “Eikestad” or ‘town of oaks’. Stellenbosch has developed into a vibrant university town, with the growth a direct result of the University of Stellenbosch, renowned as one of the world’s top learning institutions. Today, there are more than 600 farms and 123 wine cellars in the area, producing some of the best wines in South Africa. The dramatically beautiful environment, street cafes, restaurants, mountain trails, plethora of outdoor pursuits (hiking, fishing, horse riding), wine estates and access to some of the Cape’s best beaches nearby makes Stellenbosch an idyllic place to live.