Category Archives: Travel Attractions

There is so many things of beauty on this planet, both natural and man-made. Even though I know it would be impossible to see everything in my lifetime, seeing even a handful of these travel attractions and wonders would be enough!

Caravel and Post Office Tree at Bartolomeu Dias Museum in Mossel Bay (2018-06-26) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 01 JUN 2019

As one of the larger Western Cape museums in existence today, Mossel Bay’s Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex is a treasure trove of local cultural, Portuguese maritime, and natural history. In addition to the outside displays of the famous Post Office Tree, the Ethno-Botanical Garden, the Fountain, the Munrohoek Cottages, and the Malay Graves, the complex is also home to three distinct museums, The Granary, The Shell Museum (the largest shell museum in Africa), and the primary focal point of the complex as a whole, the Maritime Museum.

Although its history stretches back to that of about 1963, the museum complex in its current form was only really established in 1989, a direct outcome of the incredibly successful and well attended 1988 Dias Festival which celebrated the 500 year anniversary of the 1488 arrival of the first European explorer to set foot on South African soil, the highlight of the festival being the big spectacle landing of a seaworthy, life-size replica of Bartolomeu Dias’ famous caravel.

Now after dawdling through the grounds, touching everything in the garden, reading up on the historic mountain passes in The Granary, marveling at the beautiful mollusk homes in The Shell Museum, hiding under the Post Office Tree, and rolling down the sloped lawns (the kids, not me), we next traipsed over to the secret big reveal of our museum visit – the nondescript stone building marked as The Maritime Museum.

And yes, just like the surprise we ourselves as kids experienced when walking into the museum for the very first time, my girls got just as big a thrill when they entered down the stairs and walked into this:

And yes, of course we explored it.

What can I say, a visit to the museum is always a good way to spend some of that holiday free time!

Related Link: Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex | Visit Mossel Bay | Mossel Bay

Fish and Shells at The Shell Museum in Mossel Bay (2018-06-26) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 MAY 2019

The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex in Mossel Bay consists of a number of different elements all clustered in one location. There are the outside attractions of the famous Post Office Tree, the Munro Cottages, the Ethno-Botanical Garden & Braille Trail, the Fountain and the Malay Graves, and then the main buildings namely the Granary, the Maritime Museum, and finally the Shell Museum.

The Shell Museum is an interesting little animal in that it is part aquarium, part shell museum, and part African mask museum. Housed in a building that was erected all the way back in 1902, this small museum is a wondrously colourful look into some interesting examples of aquatic life (complete with touch tank – an absolute delight for the little ones), and hosts a very nicely displayed collection of sea shells and masks – all well presented with copious amounts of interesting, informative (and quite often artistic) displays.

The museum itself is not a particularly big space (it does have two levels though), but as with any museum installation, the value that you get out of visiting is directly proportional to how long you stay and more importantly how much you read.

And if you are as curious a person as what I am, then those two usually end up being a lot longer than any of my kids like!

So nothing shellfish of me wanting to go there after all.

(Plus, it was rather nice to be able to share this museum visit experience with my folks for a change. I think the kids rather enjoyed having Granny and Grandpa tag along!)

Related Link: Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex | Visit Mossel Bay | Mossel Bay

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