Finally, we had come to the end of our week in Montagu. It had been a good trip thus far: springbok pie in Ashton, birds in Robertson, a river cruise on the Breede river at Viljoensdrift, a nature garden in Montagu, a historic stone tunnel, and a fantastic farm stall – not bad for only a handful of days’ worth of leave! :)
Our final little excursion (after packing up and saying goodbye to Rainbow Glen) was out to the Montagu Guano Cave guest farm, with the intention of enjoying a nice breakfast followed by feeding all the animals and of course a visit to their every so fluffy Rabbit World enclosure.
(We were originally planning to do the tractor drive up the famous guano cave with the kids, but in the end decided against this, feeling that the trip is a little too long and a little too rugged for little Emily.)
And that is exactly what we then did.
We ate breakfast, the kids played in the playground, and then everyone took a stab at feeding the animals – from bunnies to fish to ponies and all the way through to camels!
In other words, the perfect end to our kid-centric Montagu adventure! :)
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(P.S. We’ve actually been to Montagu Guano Cave before – last time around though, it was us, our friends, and tents! As to be expected, that experience was… in tents. :P)
Related Link: http://www.montaguguanocave.co.za/
If you are out and about in Montagu and are looking for a great kid-friendly place to take the kids while you sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, a slice of cake, or perhaps something more substantial, then look no further than the excellent Die Kloof Padstal.
This farm stall is the first building on your left as you enter Montagu through Cogmanskloof and has been in the Zilverentant family for the past 10 years. There are three distinct parts to the business, namely a small little nursery, an interesting arts/curio gallery, and then of course, the restaurant. Outside is a large kids playground, with loads of tables and chairs dotted for those interested in getting fresh air or to keep a watchful eye on their children running about!
Needless to say, we ended up there more than just once on our recent Montagu holiday trip! :)
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Related Link: Die Kloof Padstal
The Cogmanskloof Pass connects the towns of Ashton and Montagu. Its entire 6.5 km stretch through a majestic landscape of towering rock formations. Renamed after Cape Colony secretary, John Montagu, the town’s original name of Cogmanskloof is where this pass took its name from.
The original route through the mountain included two fairly dangerous river crossings (Kingna River), and so following a few disasters, famed road and pass builder Thomas Bain was commissioned to build the pass through Cogmans Kloof in 1877.
Using a combination of dynamite and gunpowder (gunpowder because dynamite was apparently relatively new and they quickly ran out of supply), Bain and his team ‘dug’ (fine, blasted) through the Kalkoenkrans and opened the route in 1879.
The unlined tunnel is 16 metres long, and has a five metre high arched roof.
The tunnel is the oldest solid rock (unsupported by concrete) road tunnel in South Africa.
(Thomas Bain’s father Andrew Bain, actually built the very first tunnel along the western ascent of Bainskloof Pass near Wellington in 1835, but that collapsed during construction so it doesn’t count)
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At the top of the tunnel, blink and you will miss it, is the remains of a well camouflaged English fort (declared a monument in 1999), accessible via a short little hike starting to the right of the tunnel entrance, heading towards Ashton side.
Taken from the Internet: “1899 heralded the Second Anglo Boer War and saw the construction of the English Fort above Cogmans Kloof. This was built by stonemason William Robertson at a site selected by Lieutenant Colonel Sidney, Commandant of the Royal Field Artillery. The fort was garrisoned by a company of the Gordon Highlanders who were survivors of the Magersfontein battle, commanded by a Lieutenant Forbes.
They were camped on the original road construction site below Kalkoenkrans (Turkey Crag) the site which is now the parking area below the fort on the Montagu side.
The fort measures 9,3 x 3,8 m on the outside. It has a simple entrance opening at the west end and 21 ‘waisted’ loopholes formed in the masonry without steel plates. The loopholes are 700-800 mm above the concrete floor and the 400 mm thick stone walls reach a height of about two metres inside the building.
Inside the fort, near the south-east corner, is a roughly circular mortared stone platform (400 mm high), together with a drainage channel and hole at the base of the adjacent east wall, which seems to indicate the presence of a water tank and hence a roof.”
One of the things that Jessica and I popped in to take a look at during our enjoyable week long Montagu holiday earlier in the month was the Montagu Nature Garden, a 61 year old indigienous wild flower garden dedicated to plant species representative of those in the Klein Karoo and marginal Fynbos biogeoghraphical zone.
(Chantelle and Emily decided this time would be better spent sleeping in the car).
From the Internet: The Montagu Nature Garden was established in 1954, the year in which the village of Montagu celebrated its centenary. In 1961 the garden was proclaimed a Nature Reserve and placed in the care of the Montagu Municipality. Currently the Montagu Nature Garden Association “leases” the Nature Garden on a long-term basis. The association is also a member of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA)
Montagu Nature garden is situated in the most southerly part of the succulent Karoo “biome.” It has the distinction therefore of having flora of 3 regions of the Western Cape – succulent karoo, fynbos and renoster veld. There are numerous species of succulents, fynbos, geophytes and a diversity of flowering shrubs and trees occur here. The garden is especially known for the excellent variety of Vygies (mesembryathemums), which sets the garden ablaze with colour during spring.
A 1.7km circular walking trail within the garden includes a fairly easy climb with benches at strategic intervals. From the top of Bessiekop, magnificent panoramic views of the town and the Cape Folded Mountains can be seen. Bloupunt, one of the highest peaks in the area rises in the distance. One is sure to come across a geometric tortoise, a dassie midden and sunbirds enjoying the variety of aloes on the hillside. The dam, stream and intermittent areas of fast flowing water at the bottom of the hill provide a welcome break after the walk. The area is planted with lawn and benches are placed along the stream.
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I suspect though that Jessica was more pleased with the fact that I was now letting her take photos with my camera than with the actual plant species themselves:
Related Link: Montagu Nature Garden
We enjoyed one of our first holidays away together as a family (just the four of us) this July, with a four day long adventure in the Montagu area.
We were originally booked in to stay at the Montagu Springs resort, but Chantelle got a little spooked when Andy and Albert returned early from their break a lot less than impressed, plus some of the information we were receiving from Montagu Springs in regards to their warm pools wasn’t helping either. So instead, Chantelle made a last minute switch to Rainbow Glen, a quaint little self-catering guest farm setup run by a family of rock climbers (Montagu is after all heaven for South African rock climbing!).
We rented the Garden Cottage, which although being a little sparse and not particularly modern, housed the four of us easily enough, with access to a great little braai lapa, a big lawn for the kids to play on, kids toys like slides, a trampoline, and a jungle gym, a rabbit hutch, a chicken coop, and a cool little paddock with two horses roaming about in it.
Jessica immediately made friends with some of the other kids staying there and what followed was a particularly enjoyable week away from home and work.
We built each day up around a primary focal point (Robertson Birds Paradise, Viljoensdrift River Cruise, and Montagu Guano Cave) and spent quite a bit of time driving around and taking in the sights of the Robertson, Ashton, Montagu, Barrydale area – made particularly easy by the fact that we got a great mobile data signal throughout plus a Google Navigation app that works really, really well!
Even the odd power break or two couldn’t quite dampen this great week of out and about with the family! :)
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Related Link: http://rainbowglen.co.za/
Taking full advantage of the multitude of public holidays and thus long weekends over the course of April/May, the weekend of the 25th to 28th of April 2014 saw the intrepid family units of Karl and Trish Storbeck, Damen and Michelle Oosthuizen, Ryan Lotter, Dean and Zania Stapelberg, Evan and Natasha Granger, and obviously Chantelle and Craig Lotter, pack up their kids (where applicable) and camping gear, and set off to the Montagu Guano Caves camping site, a good 2.5 hours journey away from Gordon’s Bay.
What followed was an entertaining and pretty damn enjoyable weekend of tenting, caravaning, sun, rain and many, many camp fires, all of which has been neatly documented in the photos below: