Tag Archives: june holidays 2017

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

Sightseeing from Shark Rock Pier in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-08) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 APR 2018

When in Port Elizabeth, head out for a stroll along Shark Rock Pier. Or rather, that is what it feels like every tourist to Port Elizabeth does at least once while visiting the Friendly City. (Well certainly that is what my Instagram feed seems to suggest anyway).

To be fair though, that is of course exactly what we did when we visited Port Elizabeth as part of last year’s June Roadtrip Holiday.

Built in 1998 and measuring 137 metres in length, Shark Rock Pier can be found between Hobie Beach and the Red Windmill, and interestingly enough, is the only public accessible pier in Port Elizabeth.

Situated at the very center of the Port Elizabeth beachfront, free to access, and giving amazing views across Algoa Bay, it is no wonder then that the pier is both a major landmark of and drawcard for P.E.

Or at least that is what all the travel operators say about it.

I have to say, it is pretty cool though, and we all enjoyed the gentle amble out to its end and back again. The views are great, non locals like us are easily bamboozled by the hordes of open water swimmers who look just like dolphins in their wetsuits, and there are plenty of friendly ice cream vendors waiting for you to look hot on hand.

Oh, and interesting fact. The famous Hobie Beach only exists thanks to Shark Rock Pier’s presence. Its positioning is such that the pier blocks the tidal drift of sand northwards, causing it to instead build up and thus pile on the layers of fun for this super popular sun soaked beach.

Basically, well worth the walk if you find yourself in the area then.

Related Link: Port Elizabeth | #JuneHolidays2017

Mosaic Sculpture Hunting and Paragliding in Sedgefield (2017-07-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 MAR 2018

In 2010 Sedgefield became the first African “Cittaslow” or “Slow Town”, joining the global movement that promotes quality of life and resisting fast-lane lifestyle. The town takes this denomination seriously, and because of this, remains a leisurely, tranquil little Garden Route stop, worth paying a visit to if you are looking for a quiet escape in the area.

We spent two nights in Sedgefield as part of our lovely June Holidays breakaway last year, primarily because I, having spend large swathes of my holidays there as a child with my grandparents, wanted to show off this beautiful little slice of the Southern Cape to Chantelle and the girls.

That of course then meant going for a decent drive about town drive, hunting down the public mosaic art pieces scattered throughout the village (these days  Sedgefield associates itself a lot with mosaic art work, and pleasingly, the girls seemed to rather enjoyed this miniature ‘treasure hunt’), taking them to see the beaches, the Island, the art and craft markets, and of course stopping for a nibble or two along the way.

We also drove up the back of the town, following the steep dirt roads up the hills that are home to Sedgefield’s more rural farm areas. The route that we took on this particular day lead us all the way to the Sedgeview Paragliding Site, launchpad for all the paragliders that you often see floating above in the skies over Sedgefield.

(Annoyingly though, when we did get to the site, no paragliding was taking place – the wind conditions only played along again once we were back in town! Gah!)

Oh, and I took some pretty pictures as always…

I have a soft spot for Sedgefield, and honestly, I kind of think that this special place rather deserves it anyway.

Related Link: Sedgefield | Sedgeview Paragliding Site | #JuneHolidays2017

The Cape Recife Lighthouse and Nature Reserve in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-08) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 FEB 2018

Built way back in 1851, the Cape Recife Lighthouse was originally established to warn passing ships of the dangerous Thunderbolt Reef (named for the HMS Thunderbolt, a British Royal Nave Sail and Paddle Frigate that wrecked at Cape Recife in 1847), a job the venerable (albeit upgraded) lighthouse still admirably performs to this very day.

In 1973, a surrounding 366 hectare large area was proclaimed as the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, thereby transforming Cape Recife into a protected sanctuary for the Summerstrand region’s coastal and marine ecosystems to thrive within.

These days, in addition to the walking routes, countless unspoiled beaches, picnic areas, and accessible to the public lighthouse, the Cape Recife Nature Reserve is also home to the Port Elizabeth branch of SANCCOB (otherwise known as SAMREC), which provides rehabilitation and care facilities for many of the regions coastal bird species.

Seeing how I rather enjoy visiting lighthouses and was after all now in the area (as part of our June 2017 Holiday Adventure), I dragged everyone over to the nature reserve (most who were visiting it for the very first time), where after securing our entry permits, we enjoyed a rather tranquil stroll around the area.

Well not the kids mind you. They were far too busy chasing up and down the sand dunes like energetic little bunnies of course!

Extra: On exiting the nature reserve our initial route to the Grass Roof Farm Stall for a spot of lunch and play was blocked by a rather angry veld fire. Apparently, thanks to the dry seasons Port Elizabeth is also experiencing, wild fires like this is now pretty much a daily occurrence now…

Related Link: Cape Recife Lighthouse | Cape Recife Nature Reserve | Port Elizabeth | #JuneHolidays2017