Hout Bay’s impressive World of Birds avian-focused animal sanctuary and its exotic garden theme has been a staple of the Cape Town tourist scene for years now.
The birds, the greenery, the animals, the sheer size, everything combines to make for a fantastic family outing option (for both locals and tourists alike), and is certainly a visit that we’ve all enjoyed in the past.
So of course, the girls and I paid them a visit.
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And yes, as far as the girls were concerned, the interactive squirrel monkeys enclosure was by far the biggest hit of the day.
Visiting Hout Bay with the girls invariably means one of two things – either we’ll be checking out the bird life of World of Birds, or we’ll be strolling along the old harbour watching all the fishing boats dart in and out, and as you may have surmised base on the photos probably still loading below, this time around it was most definitely for the latter.
Hout Bay is of course a lovely place to visit (though not so much at the moment thanks to all the ongoing unrest and tension following the last major fire that ravaged the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement), with its lush leafy green farmland vibe giving way to the small beach and buzzing harbour district as you head down the mountain – no wonder then that this place is as popular as what it is with both tourists and locals alike!
We actually started our little harbour walkabout with a stop first at the West Fort (or Karbonkelberg) site, where it was rather nice to see that the long neglected antique cannons have finally undergone some much needed, loving renovations. Surprisingly enough though, despite the site’s status as a National Monument, there really is nothing there other than the cannons themselves. A bit of signage would certainly not be amiss!
Next to the cannons, the ever popular “Fish on the Rocks” restaurant was alive and kicking as always, though it was the two busking, colourfully dressed minstrels that stole Jessica and Emily’s attention, with the two of them soon foot tapping and twirling along with the quintessential Capetonian sound/tunes.
Eventually I managed to drag the two of them away, getting our visit to Hout Bay’s working harbour back on track – basically meaning that we gently strolled along the pier, counted coloured boats, and got to watch the Emerald Isle steel-hulled trawler make a surprisingly quick and graceful exit out of the bay. (Truthfully, I rather enjoyed that last part).
Boats aside though, the seals dotted all around were by far the highlight of the walkabout for the girls, while for me it was the neatly dressed skipper with a roll of barbed wire in his hand who took to chatting with us about his restoration of the old SAS Oosterland, a decommissioned SA Naval Ford Class vessel that was built in 1959 for the navy and which then eventually fell into private hands come 1990.
An interesting find indeed.
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I am of course joking when I say that a visit to Hout Bay means either the harbour OR the World of Birds though – of course we did World of Birds as well on the day – there is absolutely no way that Jessica would EVER let the opportunity of interacting with squirrel monkeys slip her by! ;)
Related Link: Hout Bay
Last Sunday (following our relaxing picnic on Saturday), Chantelle and I rounded up the girls and headed off nice and early across the Boerewors Curtain to Hout Bay, where the plan was to meet up with Monty and Cheryl at the world renowned World of Birds sanctuary. As it turned out, neither of us quite made the 10:00 meeting time – we got stuck behind a sightseeing bus whilst they got stuck behind cyclists! (Not that one complains though – driving past Kirstenbosch and then on to Hout Bay is always a fantastic treat in terms of the scenery).
Anyway, in the end we arrived at the World of Birds at pretty much the same time, and first stop for the in-laws was a cup of coffee at the little Robin’s Nest restaurant. There it was a rather nice surprise to have Robert and new squeeze Tarryn join us for the day, and with everyone now awake, and Jess pretty restless, it was off to view the feathered fowls!
World of Birds bills itself as such:
“World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa and one of the few large bird parks in the World. Over 3 000 birds (and small animals) of 400 different species are uniquely presented in more than 100 spacious landscaped walk through aviaries, allowing you the most intimate closeness with nature.
A tropical garden setting in the Hout Bay Valley is the environment in which the aviaries are spaced over 4 ha of land, framed by the back of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Constantiaberg, Chapman’s Peak and Little Lion’s Head. A paradise for nature lovers and photographers, the World of Birds is one of Cape Town’s premier tourist attractions which no visitor should miss.”
Yup, that’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of birds to see, so it’s no wonder that we ended up wandering around the sanctuary for 3 hours or so! The variety of bird life (from literally right across the world!) is always astonishing, not to mention the fact that you literally walk alongside them in the enclosures it an absolute delight. In fact, it is best summed up as a proper treat of an outing!
(If I was a photographer with a proper camera I would be in seventh heaven thanks to all the feathered models I would have access to… but I’m not, which explains all the tiny, tiny birds on the photos taken with my phone!)
The weather was perfect, and apart from a little slip and slide that saw Jess soaked to the bone, boots and all, everything ran pretty smoothly, with the kids (and adults) thoroughly enjoying themselves.
As you can see, I was pretty busy with my camera phone as well:
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Having seen our fill of eagles, owls, storks and chickens, we ended our adventure in Hout Bay by joining the heavy traffic to the harbour, where our initial plan of enjoying some takeaway fish and chips fell through based entirely on just how busy the harbour was – i.e. it was packed!
In the end, we headed up the ramp to the nautically themed Mariner’s Wharf, where after a bit of a wait in the bar for a table, we sat down and enjoyed some particularly tasty (but expensive!) fish and chips.
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All in all, a fantastic day out for the family, and as always, a trip that I can highly recommend! :)
Related Link: http://www.worldofbirds.org.za/