Tea in the Park and a stroll along Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town (2018-05-01) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAY 2019

It is an absolute Cape Town institution to head out for a walk along the Sea Point Promenade. Stretching all the way from the Waterfront at Mouille Point all the way down to Sea Point, the promenade is perfect for a family outing on foot – it is free, there is loads of space, it is an healthy activity, there is a playground or two dotted along the route, and of course the views are absolutely phenomenal.

Despite all of the above, we don’t actually go for too many walks along the promenade, primarily because we don’t live particularly close to it. So on the odd occasion that we do head down that way, it’s like a little mini travel adventure.

On this particular outing in May of last year, we hopped on the route at Three Anchor Bay, strolled along past the Blue Train and the Putt Putt, turned at the Green Point Lighthouse and then ambled over for a light refreshment at Tea in the Park situated in the fabulous Green Point Urban Park.

The girls made sure to give all the playgrounds a go, we had fun with the crashing waves spilling over the promenade, and finally ended it all off by watching the kayaks set out from the protected cove of Three Anchor Bay. An absolutely perfect afternoon out!

Always nice to play tourist in the Mother City.

Related Links: Sea Point Promenade | Green Point Park | Cape Town

Hiking up the Hill at the Tygerberg Nature Reserve in Bellville (2018-04-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 APR 2019

Bellville’s 300 hectare large nature reserve in the form of Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers a great opportunity for locals to stretch their legs in nature without really having to go anywhere. And while it may not be a mountain, Tygerberg Hill still rises high enough to give you a great view of Cape Town, the mountain and its suburbs.

Home to around 500 different plant species, a large number of birds and a couple of small animals to be spotted, Tygerberg Hill also serves as a popular environmental education hub for local school excursions.

There are quite a couple of short trails that criss-cross all over the reserve, meaning that in theory you can put together just about any walk to suit your needs. The hill also has a trail accessible by wheelchairs, as well as a couple of simple picnic spots dotted around.

Last year Ryan, Chantelle and I went for a nice and sweaty stroll around the hill, and these are the pictures that I ended up with. (Always a good excuse for micro stopping when the going gets tough!)

Always a lovely outing.

Related Link: Tygerberg Nature Reserve | Tygerberg Hills | Bellville

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