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!

The De Wet’s Huis Photo Museum in Hermanus (2018-08-25) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 FEB 2019

Hermanus, or Hermanuspietersfontein as it was known before the postmaster shortened the name to make it more practical, is of course an exceptionally popular South African coastal town that is a must for whale watchers, beach lovers, and people who want to escape to the sea. It used to also be quite the fishing town, and if you head over to the Fisherman’s Village complex belonging to the Old Harbour Museum, you’ll come across a small house marked as the De Wet’s Huis Photo Museum.

(Incidentally, this house, which is right next to the Whale Museum, is actually the old Dutch Reform Sunday School house, which was broken up into numbered stones, moved across to the current site, and then rebuilt by the museum curator and his team.)

The small museum houses a nice collection of photographs detailing old Hermanus, with some of the pictures dating as far back as the beginning of the last century. A number of photos in the exhibit are printed from the glass negatives taken by famed photographer T.D. Ravenscroft. The antique furniture displayed in the cottage belong to Will Paterson, son of Scotty Paterson (one of the founders of Hermanus), and a leading figure in Hermanus at the turn of the last century.

Now granted there are hardly enough photos here to label this post as one of my normal photo gallery outings, but that is only because the museum made if very clear that the taking of photos was not particularly welcome.

Still, a quick and interesting historic distraction then.

Related Link: Old Harbour Museum | Hermanus

Memorials, Trees and a Chapel at The Old Fort in Durban (2018-02-07) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 09 FEB 2019

Durban’s Old Fort (just next to Kingsmead Stadium) has had a long history tied to military action – the site having been first established as a military camp by the British back in May 1842, when 237 men of the 27th Regiment and Royal Artillery under Captain Thomas Charlton Smith were sent in to respond to an imminent Boer threat.

Following the ensuing retaliatory siege by the Boers after the failed British attack on Congella (lifted only be the arrival of the schooner Conch and the frigate HMS Southampton), a permanent fort was built on the site and a permanent British garrison was based there with a larger force being stationed outside Pietermaritzburg at Fort Napier.

Over the years a number of British Regiments did garrison duty in Durban and eventually the fort was later leased by the War Office to the Durban Light Infantry where it was at last converted into cottages for veterans. (Incidentally, the magazine was converted into a chapel and given the tranquil, lush nature of the grounds, the chapel has proven to be one of the city’s most popular wedding venues over the years!)

These days the grounds are open to the public, providing a quiet green space within the bustling city. There are old military relics scattered about to discover, and if you are somewhat of a military nerd, then the hugely informative Warrors Gate M.O.T.H. (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) Museum and Shrine (situated on the grounds) is an absolute must.

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in South African military history then.

Related Link: The Old Fort | Durban

All Aboard The Blue Train Park in Mouille Point (2017-11-18) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 08 FEB 2019

December 1956 saw the opening of the Blue Train in Mouille Point, and 60+ years later, the old girl is still running strong, now the last surviving South African beachfront miniature railway attraction still in action.

With the gorgeous Cape Town backdrop of Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Table Mountain to the one side, and the splashing ocean waves of the promenade on the other, The Blue Train Park is home to the famous “Old Lady” mini blue train, a mini-skate park, cement push bike track, zip line, climbing rock, multiple jungle gyms, obstacle courses and even a small astro turf soccer pitch – basically more than enough to keep any visiting kids super entertained for quite a while!

To be honest, I don’t know if we ourselves visited this spot as kids, but I do know that my girls had an absolute blast being introduced to this iconic Cape Town kiddies attraction. Even more so after the train conductor let them sit up front and ‘drive’ the train around its track!

Oh, and we were rather chuffed to bump into Jack Parow of all people during our visit. Turns out the Blue Train Park is super popular to host children’s birthday parties at!

Related Link: The Blue Train Park | Mouille Point | Cape Town

Making Our Way up Tygerberg Hill in the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Bellville (2018-05-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 07 FEB 2019

If you feel like a good walk but don’t necessarily feel like tackling a proper mountain, you could always opt for the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, i.e. head out for a walk up Tygerberg Hills.

The nature reserve itself is 300 hectare in size and is situated in Bellville, i.e. the northern suburbs of Cape Town. The reserve is home to the highly threatened Swartland Shale Renosterveld vegetation type, which in turn houses nearly five hundred different plant species. There are also a large number of bird species and small animals to seen, as well as the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre with its library and resource centre. (The nature reserve is popular venue for school excursions and education programmes).

And then of course there is the additional perk of having an excellent view no matter which direction you look!

As for Chantelle, Ryan and myself though? We were just there for the long, sweaty hot walk.

Bonus Fact: Swartland Shale Renosterveld is usually punctuated with a lot of large termite mounds, which all work together to create light ‘spots’ in the vegetation when looked at from afar. These ‘spots’ are in fact behind the name of Tygerberg – tiger mountain – because at that point in time, people in the Cape assumed tigers had spots.

Related Link: Tygerberg Nature Reserve | Tygerberg Hills | Bellville

A City within a City at MiniTown in Durban (2018-02-07) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 06 FEB 2019

Small buildings, check. Small boats, check. Small cars, check. Small planes, check. Small trains, check. Big smiles, check. Yup, we’re definitely in MiniTown, the smallest city within the city.

Amazingly, this miniature marvel (situated right on the beachfront) has been operating in the city of Durban since 1969. The structures are all built to a scale of 1:24, and the mini town boasts a large network of road, rail and water ways, complete with moving models and a large number of iconic Durban buildings.

With all the bright colors, moving boats, planes and trains, you’re pretty much guaranteed to walk out of there with a big grin on both your and your kids’ faces.

Also, they do host kids birthday parties in case you were wondering.

Related Link: Mini Town | Durban

Succulents and Cake at Fiore Garden Centre and Coffee Shop in Somerset West (2018-04-21) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 05 FEB 2019

Originally setup in Bot River, the family owned business of Fiore Garden Centre (and coffee shop) has since opened up branches in both Somerset West and Greyton. Situated in the leafy suburb of Audas Estate, the Somerset West branch is a wonderfully tranquil space, with the grounds filled to capacity with  a rich assortment of plants, shrubs, trees, Bonsai and a host of interesting garden art pieces.

The main building itself is home to a wonderful little restaurant area, while the big shade covered patio out back offers loads of outdoor seating – the perfect spot to be considering the garden paradise all around you. The menu has a couple of breakfast and light lunch options available, and there is also a pizza oven for when you are in the mood for something a little more substantial.

And yes, they have cake.

A wonderful little Somerset West hidden gem.

Related Link: Fiore Garden Centre | Somerset West

Indigo the Octopus at The Shark Lab in Mossel Bay (2018-03-17) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 04 FEB 2019

If you are looking to swim with sharks but without say the danger aspect, then The Shark Lab at The Point in Mossel Bay has the perfect solution for you – a swim in their pool with a couple of friendly smooth-hound sharks.

Situated directly atop the rock channel that runs below the St. Blaize Cave, the Shark Lab actually does a lot of important work with regards to researching, rescuing and protecting local sharks and marine life, in conjunction with their time spent educating both fisherman and the public at large about these big apex predators.

Their tiny space is also home to what they have dubbed a mini-aquarium, essentially a room or two with a few fish in tanks, a view into the pool containing the smooth hound sharks, and a shallow open air “rock pool” that contains a lot of starfish, anemone and quite often, a playful octopus clambering about.

Indigo the octopus is an absolute delight mind you. A clever girls that loves playing fetch with a ball and is a brilliant teaching aid to help the kids get a better understanding about these intelligent cephalopods. (Plus, which kid doesn’t love having a moist starfish plonked down into their hands?)

The Shark Lab is easy to miss and if you aren’t going to swim with the sharks then you’ll probably complain about how small an experience it actually is. However, I enjoyed the intimacy of this mini-aquarium, and in particular, the friendliness and eager to inform nature of the staff on hand.

Now it is just a matter of the kids getting old enough so that I can toss them into the shark pool! :P

Related Link: The Shark Lab | Mossel Bay

Kids at Play at Da Playhouse in Mossel Bay (2018-03-17) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 03 FEB 2019

If you have small kids and are looking to get out of the house with them on a rainy day in Mossel Bay, then you might be interested to hear of the existence of Da Playhouse, a small indoor kids play area tucked away under one of the hotels at Diaz Beach.

It has everything a small play area needs, and more importantly, a constant supply of coffee, cake and magazines for those of us who have to sit and wait while the kids have fun.

Sadly for me though, the girls spotted me tucking into my heavy chocolate cake. Sigh, sharing is caring I suppose…

And yes, obviously they host kids parties too.

Bonus: Just so you know, Mossel Bay is also home to another kids indoor play area, Blasters. Worth keeping in mind for when you find yourself in the area over the winter period.

Related Link: Da Playhouse | Mossel Bay

Sand Art and Beer at Mondeor Restaurant in Somerset West (2018-04-28) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 02 FEB 2019

We used to visit the kid friendly Mondeor Restaurant at the Cape Garden Centre in Somerset West (close to Monkey Town) quite a bit in the past. Unfortunately though, the restaurant changed ownership and honestly – the change did not go all that smoothly and resulted in a restaurant that is a lot different in tone from what it used to be.

Nevertheless, politics and people aside, the venue itself remains a great one for those of us with small kids, and so if you are looking for a bright and breezy spot complete with entertainment for small children, then Mondeor still nicely fits the bill.

As always, if you are going to visit and the weather is good, make sure to pack in your kids’ swimming costumes – they might not forgive you otherwise!

Oh, and yes, as is tradition, the girls did their sand art.

Related Link: Mondeor Restaurant | Cape Garden Centre | Somerset West