Tag Archives: crocodile farm

Stroking Leather at Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm in Paarl (2017-12-23) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 07 JUL 2018

The Cape Winelands is home to a surprisingly large number of animal-based attractions, in other words great news for tourists and dads with kids to entertain like myself. Situated on Babylonstoren Road in Simondium, an area centrally situated between Paarl, Franschoek and Stellenbosch is Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm, a CITES registered breeder and tanner of the African Nile crocodile.

Basically, if you want a close up view of teeth on legs all wrapped up in a thick leather hide, Le Bonheur is the place to go.

So, obviously the main crocodile pond tour takes front and center in terms of activities for any day visitor, with eleven such tours taking place on a daily basis.

The tour starts off with a brief introduction to the species in the briefing room, before you are led out onto the ramps that walk you above the open dams and Le Bonheur’s approximately 300 crocodiles who are mostly lazing about beneath you. You will learn more about these animals from an experienced guide, maybe witness a feeding session (primarily during the Summer months), and definitely get to touch/hold a baby croc.

While not particularly exciting as such (crocodiles tend not to move very much unless they really have to), the tour is very informative and certainly worth it if you have never seen a crocodile in real life before.

Then there is the crocodile cage dive, a close encounter experience offered by African Croc Dive that sees you dipping into a pool full of crocodiles with only a steel cage between you and their rather plentiful teeth. (For those of you who don’t relish the prospect of getting wet, an underwater, dry viewing box experience is also on offer).

That said, it isn’t all crocodile on the menu at Le Bonheur. In the main building the team have setup an interesting little self-guided snake centre exhibit filled with both indigenous and exotic snakes, and also on offer is an interactive snake show that includes both an informative talk and touch session with some of their slithery stars.

Then there is the small onsite restaurant/pizzeria that produces a selection of good pizzas, pies, and other light lunch options (like their famous crocodile meat pies). Well priced and a good way to round off a croc viewing experience on a hot summer’s day. You can also pre-book a picnic basket to be enjoyed on their luscious lawn out by the dam, or book the braai facilities if you want to take charge of your own menu for the day.

The dam behind the main building is open for catch and release fishing (you can hire fishing rods from Le Bonheur if needed), and the small kids play area around the back is great for the little ones to run out any left over energy while you laze on the grass under the shade of their big trees.

Finally there is the small gift shop full of Nile Crocodile leather products, and just in case you didn’t feel like making the drive home, Le Bonheur also has self catering/bed and breakfast facilities available.

Oh, and they host kids parties, cater to weddings (their hall can accommodate anything from 160 to 200 guests), and offer conference facilities.

So pretty much everything then.

Anyway, the girls and I found ourselves spending a Saturday there back in December last year (the second time that we had paid Le Bonheur a visit), and as you might imagine, crocodiles were observed, croc skin touching was had, pizzas devoured, and lots of photos taken. So a good day out then.

(Footnote: Obviously the horrible accident at the start of the year was an absolute tragedy for all involved, but given all the employment that this attraction provides in what is a relatively economically depressed area, I’m really pleased to see the Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm still operating and attracting as many visitors as what it does. Tourism still remains the best key to unlocking the biggest opportunities in rural communities at this stage.)

Related Link: Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm | Paarl

Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm (2015-01-17) Photo Gallery 29 JAN 2015

The Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm is a CITES registered breeder and tanner of the African Nile crocodile, a crocodile that is a resident reptile in many of South Africa’s game reserves but which no longer roams free in the country – meaning that this is a great spot to see them in real life if you haven’t done so before!

In addition to its primary crocodile farming activities, Le Bonheur (which means “happiness”) also just happens to be a beautiful estate in Simondium, offers catch-and-release fishing, has wedding and conference facilities, and also caters as a children’s party venue.

Oh, and it is one of the few places in Cape Town that you can of course get a delicious crocodile pie.

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Always on the lookout for things to go see with the girls, Chantelle and I decided to head out towards Simondium/Paarl one recent gorgeous Saturday afternoon after hearing about this Le Bonheur crocodile farm. It’s a great drive out there if you’re coming from our Gordon’s Bay side of the world, though the last stretch to actually reach the estate itself is a quite a bit of a bumpy gravel experience!

The Le Bonheur setup is such that you can spend the day at the estate without ever visiting the crocodile dams (which is a paid for experience), though if you haven’t yet seen the crocodiles before then of course this would be a rather silly thing to do.

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The crocodile ‘tour’ happens every 45 minutes throughout the day, and after paying your money, things are kicked off with a short introductory information session before everyone heads out to the walled crocodile pens.

There you’ll have a bit of an interactive session with some baby crocodiles (we handled six month old crocs, and I have to say, it’s certainly the first time I’ve ever held a crocodile!), before being set free to stroll along the walkway that stretches between the various dams, all containing a multitude of different aged crocodiles.

(Though you won’t find anything much older than three years in there – that’s pretty much the best age for harvesting the leather off the crocodile in terms of it still being relatively easy to do. Anything older and it becomes a major mission because of the thickness of the hide!)

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Because this is a working farm, there are a lot of crocodile leather items on display and for sale – but be warned though – a full crocodile hide will set you back R20,000! (After all, this is a luxury leather in great demand over in Italy and some other parts of Europe.)

The crocodile pens aren’t particular large and you’ll breeze through it pretty quickly, but again, if you haven’t seen crocodiles in real life before then this is certainly a good way to go about it.

Needless to say, apart from the nosebleed that kind of spoiled this part of the outing somewhat, Jess did enjoy seeing all these beasts up fairly close – though not enough that she’d actually touch one of course! :)

Outside of the crocodile pens is then the estate itself, and it has a cozy dining area with a kitchen that serves all manner of foods – though if you are first timers like we were then the crocodile pie is definitely recommended.

Chantelle turned out to be not so much of a fan of the crocodile meat, but I have to say that I did actually enjoy it. Very much like chicken in terms of texture and taste, but with a definite, strong venison flavour teasing your palate throughout.

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On the bottom level, next to the fishing dam, is a kids’ play area, plus a few scattered eating/picnic spots under the abundant trees, all of which opens up to a lovely grass bank which is perfect to laze about on whilst you watch the eager beavers hire some rods and attempt to catch some fish.

A really relaxing and beautiful venue then in other words.

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Jess, Emily, Chantelle and I had a thoroughly marvelous day at Le Bonheur in the end, and if you haven’t been there before then it is definitely worth the recommend – again, especially if you haven’t seen crocodiles in real life before!

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Photo Gallery: Honeymoon Road Trip – Kwena Crocodile Farm Chalets (Sun City) (2009-11-14) My Life | Photo Gallery 14 NOV 2009

Sun City was at one time South Africa’s premier holiday destination, and to be honest, is still very well worth the visit, especially if you have never been there before. As part of our big honeymoon road trip, we opted to stay in the beautiful Kwena Crocodile Farm Chalets at Sun City, where we enjoyed taking in all the big sights like the Lost City and the surrounding grounds of the Cascades, also jumping at the chance to partake in an awesome spin around the Sun City complex on some rather rugged Segways!

As for the crocodile farm, it was pretty cool to be able to eat your breakfast whilst watching all the crocs wake up to a new day, and of course the guided trips through the farm were quite the highlight, especially when some of the bigger fellows made their almighty appearance! :)