Tag Archives: june holidays 2017

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

Feathers, Eggs and a Tractor at Safari Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn (2017-07-04) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 29 SEP 2018

When in Oudtshoorn with kids, visit an ostrich farm. I am pretty sure that this is a rule for the Little Karoo, and certainly one that I followed when we found ourselves spending some time in the ostrich capital of South Africa as part of last year’s June school holidays road trip.

Established as a tourist attraction in 1956 by 4th generation ostrich farmers Derek Fisch and Harry Lipschitz, Safari Ostrich Farm is a commercial ostrich breeding farm in Oudtshoorn with a focus on extensive farming of ostriches for meat, leather/skins and feathers.

The 1800 hectares large farm is built around a beautiful old sandstone homestead called the “Feather Palace” – built in 1910 and harking back to the beginning of the ostrich industry when the Oudtshoorn farmers farmed with ostriches exclusively for their feathers (which at a stage ranked fourth to gold, wool and diamonds in terms of the value of exports from South Africa).

The farm has about 280 breeding South African Black ostriches onsite, of which about 60% are female. Interestingly enough, Safari Ostrich Farm also happens to be the first South African ostrich farm where you can see both the Kenyan Red and Zimbabwe Blue ostriches (both of which are surprisingly a lot more aggressive than our local variety). The farm is also home to a few rare white ostriches, as well as some Australian emu.

For the visitors to the farm there is obviously the ostrich product shop and little eatery to enjoy, but by far the biggest hook is of course the Safari Ostrich Farm’s little ostrich ‘safaris’ – an informative stroll and tractor drive among the ostriches and around the ostrich farm itself. In other words, loads of fun for the little ones.

Basically, expect all the staples of an ostrich farm visit, made all the better thanks to a polished experience and super friendly guides.

And yes, of course I had some ostrich for lunch.

Related Link: Safari Ostrich Farm | Oudtshoorn | #JuneHolidays2017

The Big Cats and Crocodiles of Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn (2017-07-04) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 27 MAY 2018

Celebrating over 30 years of conserving and caring for endangered animal species, the Cango Wildlife Ranch (which originally started life out as a crocodile show farm), is one of the now very iconic Oudtshoorn attractions for visiting families – after all, which small kid is ever going to forget entering the premises through those toothy, gaping crocodile jaws!

A fully accredited, privately owned institution, Cango Wildlife Ranch has worked for years towards the conservation of cheetah and other endangered species – so much so that they are in fact one of the five biggest cheetah centres in the world and has for many years had the highest survival rate of cubs produced globally.

Currently housing over 90 species of animals, all in good condition, and looked after by a large experienced team of both professionals and volunteers, the Cango Wildlife Ranch serves to maintain both excellent breeding programmes as well as robust public awareness campaigns.

Then of course there is that whole entertaining visitors through edu-tourism thing.

The Cango Wildlife Ranch setup is fantastic. The grounds, pathways, and enclosures are interestingly presented, well maintained, and in fact just well done, while the guided tours which lead you through everything are slick and very informative – and for those in search of something even more adventurous, experiences like crocodile cage diving and big cat interaction are also available.

There was of course no way that Chantelle, the girls and I could pass up the opportunity to pay the ranch a visit as part of our June Holidays road trip last year, and I’m quite glad that we did make the time to do so in the end.

The girls were enthralled, I was happy to relive pleasant childhood memories, and most pleasing of all, Cango Wildlife Ranch remains still well worth the visit.

Seriously. If you find yourself in Oudtshoorn and have kids in tow, then missing a visit to the Cango Wildlife Ranch (which is open 365 days of the year just by the way) is pretty much unthinkable!

Related Link: Cango Wildlife Ranch | Oudtshoorn | #JuneHolidays2017

The Stalactites and Stalagmites of Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn (2017-07-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 MAY 2018

Caves and ostriches, that is pretty much what immediately comes to mind if you think of Oudtshoorn, and rightfully so – no tourist visit or holiday with kids to the largest town in the Little Karoo is complete without having visited at least one ostrich show ranch and of course the world famous Cango Caves!

Situated in the foothills of the Swartberg mountain range, the Cango Caves can be found in the Precambrian limestone of the area, stretching for about 4 km (in length) underground. Based on cave paintings and other recoved artifacts, the cave system appears to have been in use throughout prehistory over a long period during the Middle and Later Stone Ages, however, it was only after its rediscovery in 1780 (by local farmer Jacobus van Zyl), that the caves took on its role as one of the more popular local places to visit.

Due to accessibility constraints and in efforts to preserve the caves themselves (the limestone is particularly susceptible to heat, light, touch, and of course the carbon dioxide that we breathe out), only about a quarter of the actual cave system is open to visitors – who may only only enter the cave as part of a guided group.

Tours are conducted at regular intervals throughout the day, with the two main tour types being the “Standard Tour” which takes around an hour to complete, and the “Adventure Tour” which takes around an hour and a half and has you crawling through a number of very narrow spaces and up some very vertical faces!

(Not really recommended if you are on the larger than normal side though – people can and do get stuck, sometimes horribly so.)

The tourist parts of the caves have been made wonderfully accessible, with knowledgeable tour guides and clever lighting bringing to life the beautiful stalagmite and stalactite formations, in a space that really is one of those places that you need to experience in person in order to get a feel for its majesty.

It is also worth mentioning that the visitors centre that you need to move through in order to reach the caves is also rather well laid out, featuring an excellent and informative “Interpretive Centre” that is well worth spending a little time in.

Now the last time that Chantelle and I visited the caves was back in 2007, so I was rather pleased to be able to return to this otherworldly place a full ten years later – the perfect showpiece for our two little munchkins in tow on what was now turning out to be a very attraction filled holiday roadtrip.

Pleasingly, the Cango Caves were exactly as brilliant as how I remembered them to be.

Fun Fact: You don’t really want to still be walking along the pathway when the lights are turned off (which they do in order to further preserve the caves). Unfortunately for Jessica and myself though, this was exactly what happened as we were making our way out (my knee was giving a bit of hassle, so I was moving slowly by this point of the tour).

Seriously, I’m amazed that I didn’t need to dig out a clean pair of pants for Jessica – that was one massive pitch dark fright for one so young to have experienced! :D

Related Link: Cango Caves | Wikipedia | Oudtshoorn | #JuneHolidays2017

Craft Beer and Play at Grass Roof in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-08) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 21 MAY 2018

If you are ever out in the Port Elizabeth area and find yourself in need of a good kid friendly restaurant option, be extra sure to pay the exceedingly cool Grass Roof farm stall and coffee shop a visit.

Situated on the Olive Tree Farm, just a few kilometers from Sardinia Bay, the Grass Roof is a coffee shop, kids playground, trendy cafe, and farm stall all rolled into one. Open Monday to Sunday, the eatery strives to promote a healthy, organic lifestyle, with a lot of its food menu and farm stall offering sourced directly from the gardens and fields of its host farm.

In addition to all the fresh produce and baked items (it is a proper smorgasbord of tasty stuff), the farm shop is stocked with all manner of deli surprises, authentic crafts and handmade items.

The rolling lawn in front of the restaurant provides the perfect play area, which is complete with a number of fun kids activities like old tractors, climbing frames, etc. (There is even a giant adult swing if you are keen on also joining in on the fun!)

Then we get to the restaurant/cafe itself. First off, the menu is amazing. Well presented, evocative descriptions, and a final product to back it all up, makes for an exceptional light meal experience. From pizzas to gourmet burgers, from craft beer to freshly brewed Mastersons Coffee – Grass Roof’s kitchen team has  you covered.

Also, the view from the deck is pretty damn decent too!

And yes, just as the name implies, all of this happens under a bright green, grass covered roof!

It is no wonder then that this is easily one of Chantelle’s favourite spots on the list of places visited over the course of our 2017 roadtrip holiday. Definitely worthy of a family get together or two!

(Also, eagle-eyed readers might have spotted that the last two photos in the gallery aren’t exactly of the Grass Roof visit. As it so happened, we actually stayed with our good friends – and tour guides – the Grangers during the P.E. stint, and of course, Evan being Evan, time simply HAD to be made for a braai or two!) 

Related Link: Grass Roof Farm Stall | Port Elizabeth | #JuneHolidays2017

Staying at De Oude Meul Country Lodge in Oudtshoorn (2017-07-03) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 24 APR 2018

One of our stops on last year’s June Holidays Road Trip was the ever delightful Oudtshoorn, a visit filled with caves, ostriches, camels and milk tart jaffles. In terms of accommodation, we went with De Oude Meul Country Lodge, a fantastic family friendly self-catering accommodation complex that lies about 14km out of Outshoorn, at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains.

A working ostrich farm come season, De Oude Meul has no shortage of facilities,  counting among its many offerings a restaurant, two pools, free (and pretty decent) Wi-Fi, game hunting, hiking routes, 4×4 trails, a kids play park, fishing, a wedding venue/conference hall, and yes, as you can see from the photo above – a whole lot of bunny rabbits! (Plus a Shetland pony or two).

Our unit was more than spacious enough for the four of us, the braai worked a charm and a working DSTV a nice bonus. I adored the open space (prompting many a stroll through the well tended, lush green grounds), while the kids absolutely loved the animals and the play area.

The restaurant was pretty decent as well.

Being in the shadows of a mountain meant that it got bitterly cold at night, but nothing that a few extra blankets couldn’t solve! Besides, everybody cheered up the minute the bales of hay was carried towards the rabbit pen anyway…

Bonus find – De Oude Meul commissioned this video to give you a bit of a better feel of what to expect when staying with them:

Pretty accurate and thus not hard to see that this is indeed a thoroughly enjoyable place to call home for a couple of nights – especially if you have small kids in tow like we do!

Related Link: De Oude Meul Country Lodge | Oudtshoorn | #JuneHolidays2017

Seals and Penguins at the Bayworld Oceanarium in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 APR 2018

While the days of the crowd being splashed wet while being entertained and enthralled by Bayworld’s team of well trained bottlenose dolphins are now long since passed, the now visibly less vibrant (despite its R10 million 2013 revamp) Port Elizabeth tourist attracting complex is still worth the visit – even if the oceanarium is no longer the star of the show.

While our day out to Bayworld revolved mostly around the excellent Port Elizabeth Museum (which I’ll dedicate a separate post to), we did of course kick things off at the oceanarium (animal activists perhaps look away now), where the kids were delighted to watch the seals and penguins splash about and play in the two open view pools (next to the sadly, but thankfully hidden, dilapidated dolphinarium zone).

Next came the short seal (and turtle) show, with Jessica particularly pleased at being called out to the front to receive a kiss from a superbly trained seal and his flexible whiskers. (Turns out, the kiss was a lot more ticklish than what she was expecting!) 

Following that, the last remaing thing to be seen in the Oceanarium section of Bayworld was of course the actual oceanarium itself, though to be fair, with the large tanks now all out of action, the dimly lit space is perhaps better referred to as an aquarium, containing only a few tanks, but thankfully filled with enough interesting fish species to make it worth the while.

(When you have a small fish tank dedicated to a LEGO shipwreck build then you might just realise that perhaps something is not running 100% according to plan…)

Anyway, I grabbed a few photos here and there, but honestly, given the oceanarium section’s now diminished state, there isn’t a whole lot to actually take photos of! Still, the kids all seemed to enjoy the space enough to have made the visit worthwhile…

Still, I have to admit, seeing the now abandoned dolphinarium (which holds such wonderful childhood memories for me) is admittedly more than just a little heartbreaking.

Next up: Bayworld’s much more amazing Port Elizabeth Museum!

Related Link: Bayworld Oceanarium | Port Elizabeth | #JuneHolidays2017

Elephant Dung Paper at the Scarab Art and Craft Village in Sedgefield (2017-07-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 APR 2018

Just across the road from Sedgefield’s super popular Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market grounds stands another, even more colourful entry into the weekend market scene – The Scarab’s Craft Market at Scarab Village.

Leaving the fresh produce and eco-friendly themes for the Wild Oats Market to pick up, the Scarab’s Craft Market instead doubles down on being the source of the best authentic, handmade craft to be found along the Garden Route.

The musical, colourful, welcoming market is held beside the titular Scarab Art and Craft Village, which itself is also home to more than just a few super interesting stores.

Beads, exotic plants, stone art, ornate light fittings, wooden crosses, owl boxes, woodcraft furniture, and my personal favourite, craft paper made from Elephant Dung can all be found as you flutter between one artsy shop and the next.

There is an outdoor red roof venue which you can hire, there is a small diner ready to see to any hunger pangs that you might be experiencing, and there is a small, octopus under the sea themed kids play area for the little ones. (Which the girls of course enjoyed).

Oh, and Sedgefield’s very own little craft brewery also just happens to be situated in the village…

Sadly for us though, our short Sedgefield stop didn’t quite fall over a weekend, so we missed out on experiencing the vibrant atmosphere that surely must be on display here come each and every Saturday – which I guess just means we need to make our way back there sooner than later then! ;)

Related Link: Scarab Village | Scarab Paper | Sedgefield | #JuneHolidays2017