Hitting Balls at the Mossel Bay Golf Club (2018-03-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 06 APR 2019

See the sea from every tee. That’s the tagline on the Mossel Bay Golf Club’s official website. Mind you, that is pretty true. Sitting nicely elevated above sea level means that you do have a pretty good view no matter what direction you look in, not to mention the added glee of having a herd of springbok bounce out in front of you every now and then.

The Mossel Bay Golf Club itself is well over a hundred years old, having been established way back in 1905. However, its current grounds only came into play around 1924, with a massive redevelopment taking plac in 1999, resulting in the creation of the Mossel Bay Golf Estate and massively upgraded facilities.

The end result? A delightful course that is well looked after, offers great views, and is easy enough for a rank amateur who only plays golf a handful times a year (i.e. me) to tackle.

So that is exactly what Ryan, Dad and myself then did.

And no, of course I didn’t win.

Related Link: Mossel Bay Golf Club | Mossel Bay

World War Artifacts at the Warriors Gate M.O.T.H. Shrine in Durban (2018-02-07) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 APR 2019

Founded in Durban in 1927 by one Charles Evenden (a cartoonist on the staff of the Natal Mercury newspaper), the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (M.O.T.H.) is an international organisation of front line ex-servicemen and women organized around the three ideals of ‘True Comradeship’, ‘Mutual Help’, and ‘Sound Memory’. As such the ideal is to help comrades in need, either financially or physically; and to remember all servicemen who have answered the Sunset Call, both in war and peacetime.

The headquarters of the order are located at Warrior Gate, the foremost M.O.T.H. shrine situated on the grounds of The Old Fort and across the road from Kingspark Cricket stadium. In addition to its function as the group headquarters, Warriors Gate is also home to an incredibly interesting Museum of Militaria, displaying hundreds of artifacts from across the world spanning multiple armed conflicts in which South African forces were involved.

Primarily covering the early wars like the Boer War, 1st and 2nd World Wars and the Border Wars, the war museum is stocked with all manner of uniforms, regiment/unit badges, rifles, guns, medals, medical and hand tools.

It is an incredibly interesting collection of war memorabilia and perhaps of course particularly poignant for any visitor who perhaps partook in any of these armed conflicts.

The museum is open to the public and entrance is free – though donations towards the upkeep of the facilities are of course welcomed.

An absolute must for any local war fundi then.

Related Link: Warriors Gate Museum of Militaria | M.O.T.H. | Durban

Platters and Picnics at Klein River Cheese Farmstead in Stanford (2017-12-16) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 31 MAR 2019

After a relaxing drive and one coffee stop at the charming Van Brakel Stoor between Caledon and Napier, we reached the outskirts of Stanford and turned past some interested cows to reach the Klein River Cheese farmstead.

For twenty years this family-run business has been producing award winning artisan cheeses on the outskirts of the art and foodie heritage village of Stanford, using local inputs against the magnificent backdrop of its lazy river, meandering forests and jagged grey-cliff mountain slopes.

The range of cheeses artfully produced on the farmstead is staggering. There is their Gruberg and Stanford brushed rind cheeses, the Danbo, Havarti, Overberg and Raclette washed curd cheeses, the Grana and Parmesan hard cheeses, and finally the popular Leyden and Colby young cheeses.

To complement their fine cheeses, Klein River have set up a magnificent picnic space, complete with a huge lawn, a big kids play area (with a few farmyard animals thrown in), and a nice stoep for when you need some shade (or in our case cover, seeing as every now and then a bit of rain would jump out and surprise us).

Sourcing fresh local ingredients and produce, they then offer a variety of picnic platter and basket options, basically providing everything that you need in order to enjoy a most relaxing day out in the countryside.

In essence, the perfect family day outing.

And yes, there are donkeys too.

Related Link: Klein River Cheese | Stanford | Stanford Tourism

Hiking and Picnics at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West (2017-10-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 25 MAR 2019

At the top of Somerset West, situated on the slopes of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, and overlooking False Bay, you’ll find the Helderberg Nature Reserve, a City of Cape Town owned and managed nature reserve.

Pushed by the Rotary Club of Somerset West, the Helderberg Nature Reserve was proclaimed as a wildflower garden (and to protect water resources in Somerset West) in 1960, but over time morphed into a proper nature reserve with the now 402-hectare reserve protecting a swathe of Swartland shale renosterveld, Kogelberg sandstone fynbos, Cape Winelands shale fynbos and Southern afro-temperate forest pockets.

The lower reaches of the park is home to large lawns, popular with families for the hosting of picnics, birthday parties and the occasional music concert, as well a small coffee shop and the Maskew Miller Educational/Visitors Centre.

Then there are of course all the walking and hiking paths scattered around the reserve, catering to nature lovers of all fitness levels. So as you would expect, there are plenty of beautiful examples of fynbos flowers to admire and even more superb views to take in – unless of course your children have pinned you down to the lawns and you’ve been forced to nap in the shade of one of the many massive trees overlooking the picnic space.

A terrible proposition, I know… ;)

All in all, a wonderful space for a deep breathe of fresh Helderberg air then.

Related Link: Helderberg Nature Reserve | Somerset West

Owls, Kites and Vultures in Eagle Encounters at Spier, Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 19 MAR 2019

Eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, kites, buzzards, secretary birds and vultures – if birds of prey interest you then a visit to Eagle Encounters at Spier in Stellenbosch should probably very firmly be on your cards.

Founded in 2001, Eagle Encounters is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism center. It is home to numerous types of rescued raptors, has a number of interactive touch points, and their flying demonstrations are always both informative and entertaining.

The girls always love visiting there (touching and interacting with the owls is by far their favourite bit), and honestly, the institution always makes for an interesting outing. Easy to recommend really.

And as a bonus, a visit to Eagle Encounters is also a visit to the delightful Spier wine estate, itself a brilliant adventure packed with food, art, activities, wine and endless views.

Related Link: Eagle Encounters | Spier | Stellenbosch

Snakes and Dinosaurs in the Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld (2017-07-09) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 18 MAR 2019

Although the Bayworld complex doesn’t necessarily shine quite as brightly as what it used to in the past, it still remains a place well worth visiting, with it currently being home to the now reduced Oceanarium, a Snake Park, the Port Elizabeth Museum, and Number 7 Castle (an offsite extension).

Housed in a magnificent three-storey building within Bayworld’s grounds, the Port Elizabeth Museum is interestingly enough recognized as South Africa’s third oldest museum – with current exhibitions including the Dinosaur Hall, the Maritime History Hall, the Marine Hall, Curiosity Corner, the Xhosa Gallery, the First People of the Bay Exhibition, the Costume Hall, and the History of Algoa Bay Exhibition.

Having already spent some time among the marine life, we next ventured over to the museum and snake park part of the complex where we first played around a bit with a boa constrictor, before moving on to admire the impressive Africa’s Lost World dinosaur exhibition (their rubber dinosaurs are huge!), and then the actual museum itself.

In all honesty, I walked away from the Port Elizabeth Museum suitably impressed. The displays are well presented and very informative, the museum is laid out well with a fun use of colour that makes everything visually appealing.

Plus, we spent far longer browsing the halls that what I thought we would and as such can highly recommend the experience to anyone with even the slightest of interest in natural history or with kids that they want to expose to some of the more interesting aspects of the bay area’s past.

Oh, and they have the 15 meter long skeleton of the last Southern Right Whale harpooned in Nelson Mandela Bay hanging around. Naturally, many photos were taken.

Plus, as mentioned before – it has dinosaurs.

Related Link: Bayworld Oceanarium | Port Elizabeth | #JuneHolidays2017

Tracking Zebras and Warthogs in Addo Elephant Park (2017-07-06) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 16 MAR 2019

The Addo Elephant National Park is somewhat a story of people coming to their senses in the absolute nick of time. In the early centuries, great herds of wild animals roamed the Addo region, living alongside a handful of native clans. However by the late 1700s, most herds of elephants and other species had been all but decimated thanks to overzealous hunting activities. Fast forward to the 1800s and farmers being to colonize the area around the park, leading to even more flash points with the remaining elephants (due to competition over water and land). By 1919 this conflict had come to a head when the government agreed to help exterminate the problematic elephants, leading to the death of around 144 animals between 1919 and 1920.

Luckily though, public sentiment had finally begun to change, and in 1931 the Addo Elephant National Park was proclaimed, set up to protect the last remaining 11 Addo elephant!

Now the third largest South African National Park (after Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park), the Addo Elephant National Park has come a long way in terms of animal population, with it currently being home to around 600 elephants, 400 Cape buffalo, lions, spotted hyenas, leopard, Burchell’s zebra, and a LOT of warthogs. There are also plenty of antelope species roaming about, including red hartebeest, eland, kudu and bushbuck.

In addition to the mammals, given the excellent habitat contrasts between dense thickets of spekboom interspersed with open grassy areas and wooded kloofs, Addo also presents a fantastic opportunity for birding, with the park being home to an extensive number of bird species. (Consequently, there are thus a LOT of lizards, snakes and tortoises too to be found as well!)

And then of course there is Addo’s famous rare flightless dung beetle, who is recognized as the king of the local roads thanks to the plethora of road signs posted in the park reminding visitors that this super recycling machine has the right of way!

We travelled to Addo as part of our June holiday back in 2017, making our way from Oudtshoorn via a weirdly unsettling strip of concrete road past the blink and you’ll miss them towns of Willowmore and Steytlerville. We overnighted in the very comfortable SANParks’ accommodation (staying inside a park is always fun), and completely ignoring the kids moaning, Chantelle and I then proceeded to spend as much time as possible out on the tracks taking in the wildlife around us.

And while Addo isn’t necessarily my favourite park to visit, it is easily one of the best when it comes to elephant watching and we were blessed with some fantastic viewings (despite the region’s dryness) to go along with the great weather conditions.

Of course, given the fact that neither one of us is a photographer and thus there is not a single piece of decent camera equipment between us, you’ll just have to take our word (and slightly grainy cellphone footage) as proof of this!

(Pro Tip: The Hapoor Dam waterhole is amazing for elephant watching!)

It is always good to get out and about in nature, and as South Africans we really are spoiled for choice. Something to make sure we treasure then.

Related Link: Addo Elephant National Park | Wikipedia#JuneHolidays2017

The Old Harbour Museum in Hermanus (2018-08-25) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 MAR 2019

Hermanus is just such a lovely coastal town to visit. The allure of the visiting whales during whale season, the excellent beaches, the surrounding mountains, the breathtaking cliff path – it really isn’t difficult to understand just why Hermanus has exploded into the tourist friendly hub that it now finds itself being. Of course, the historic and stories of old shouldn’t be lost, and one such place attempting to preserve some of this former fishing town’s history is the Old Harbour Museum.

The museum consists primarily of two sections, the historical Old Fishing Harbour and Fisherman’s Village, the latter being home to De Wet’s Huis Photographic Museum and the Whale House Museum.

The old harbour itself (or “Visbaai” as it was known back in the day) is preserved as an open air museum, with a couple of relics from a bygone era still visible along the stone and concrete walls of the structure. There is also the War Memorial at its entrance, and tucked into one of the old fisherman’s shacks is the Old Harbour Indoor Museum which displays an eclectic mix of items used by the local fishing industry both present and past, as well as some items from the Selkirk Collection.

That said, in all honesty I would have to say that the indoor museum has obviously seen much better days and is probably very much in need of better funding – though nevertheless makes for an interesting enough stop if you have some time to kill and nothing else left to see. (Admittedly, the kids don’t agree with me on this one).

So, hard to recommend as a must stop then, but interesting enough for anyone who is into fishing and has a slight love for all things historical.

Related Link: Old Harbour Museum | Wikipedia | Hermanus

Feeding Squirrels in the Company’s Garden in Cape Town (2017-08-20) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 14 MAR 2019

The historic Company’s Garden in the heart of Cape Town is always worth a visit. A hearty breakfast or light lunch at the now renovated (and very family friendly) Company’s Garden Restaurant is a must, a stroll around the beautifully cultivated gardens a pleasure, and the buying of bags of peanuts from the local vendors to feed the abundant squirrels and pigeons a necessity.

Originally created in the 1650s as a resource from which fresh produce for ships rounding the Cape could be harvested, these days the Company’s Garden enjoys a role of providing a much visited lush and tranquil green space for city dwellers to escape the nearby bustle of the Mother City.

Centrally located, the Company’s Garden is bordered by Parliament and Tuynhuys, the National Library of South Africa, St George’s Cathedral, the Iziko Slave Lodge, Centre for the Book, the South African Jewish Museum, the South African National Gallery, and the Iziko South African Museum – basically a heap of really good tourist options for any visiting history enthusiast.

The garden itself is home to a number of interesting artifacts, plants, war memorials and monuments. For example, the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa (circa 1652) calls the Company’s Garden home, as does a rose garden that was designed and build in 1929. Then there’s also the Dellville Wood Memorial (1932), a small aviary, a towering statue of Cecil John Rhodes (1910), an Artillery Memorial, a Japanese Lantern Monument (1932), and a striking figure of Jan Smuts (1964) to name but a few.

As for my kids – well, they’re just there for the squirrels and pigeons of course!

Refreshing.

Related Link: Company’s Garden | Company’s Garden Restaurant | Cape Town