Tag Archives: south africa

Ferns and Forest in the Garden of Eden, Knysna (2019-01-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 29 JUL 2019

Halfway between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay sits an ideal spot to introduce your kids to the gorgeous forests of the Garden Route National Park, a literal stop and stretch your legs point right along the N2 itself.

Part of the Harkerville Forest, the Garden of Eden is a long running site that has been welcoming visitors to its short shady paths since 1926. A superb example of the Wet High Forest biosphere, the Garden of Eden contains a number of moist ferns and tree species, including tall stinkwood, kalander, and wit-els.

The site only has about 1 km or so of wooden boardwalks to follow through the forest (arranged in two 500 m loops), making it particularly suitable for young kids, the elderly and of course the disabled. There are plenty of benches and tables scattered about, so you could also theoretically enjoy a nice picnic whilst watching all the moss and lichen grow.

During the day the site is manned (and so there is a small SANParks entrance fee to pay), and on the whole the Garden of Eden is a very well maintained and signposted taste of the Garden Route’s gorgeous nature.

So naturally we had to stop and take some pictures.

...

Sculptures and Selfies at Tokara Delicatessen in Stellenbosch (2018-12-08) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 24 JUL 2019

I love the fact that Tokara with its wonderful wines, olive oils and exquisite restaurant, also has the more casual, equally as beautiful, Tokara Delicatessen on the estate, opening the beautiful art, landscape and food experience to an even broader range of people.

This particular visit saw us meeting up with Retha and Miguel who were down in the country for a bit of a visit, but seeing as the girls and I had arrived a little earlier than everyone else (Chantelle was out delivering a cake on the day if I remember right), we had a bit of extra time for strolling around the vineyards and orchards to admire all the sculptures and scenic beauty on display.

And after a light lunch? Well it was time for some silly selfies of course!

...

Birding on Intaka Island in Century City, Cape Town (2018-11-04) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 23 JUL 2019

You will discover Intaka Island about 7 km out from the Cape Town CBD, tucked away behind the tall buildings of Century City and its Canal Walk shopping mall. Built by Century City developer Rabie following an initial project environmental impact assessment, Intaka Island is a 16 hectare large wetland conservation area.

As such, it serves as a crucial bird sanctuary for the area and the nature reserve itself is setup around this idea, filled with a well maintained walkway that features plenty of hides and viewing platforms that are perfect for local birders. It’s a great way to step into a little nature without having to go out on a full blown hike!

This particular visit saw me leave Chantelle and the girls behind and instead ring up my brother to join me for a stroll among the reeds. Pleasingly, he agreed – and didn’t even moan at all the pictures I kept stopping to take! ;)

...

Food and Crafts at Lourensford Market in Somerset West (2018-12-16) Markets | Photo Gallery 20 JUL 2019

I do think that it is impossible not to love the Lourensford Market experience. Situated on the gloriously scenic (and historic) Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, everything about a visit to this well run (and well supported) market screams class, from the well maintained estate, manicured gardens, and exquisite sculptures, all the way through to its excellent vendor space.

The traders themselves are a wonderfully diverse lot, with delicacies from all around the world on offer, some good wine, beer and ciders available, and loads of sweet treats wherever you look, all mixed in with a creative mishmash of art, clothing and craft stalls. (And on this particular visit, even a 3D Printing booth).

The live music and excited vibe completes the experience, and as if all of that isn’t enough, then there is still the rest of experiences of the estate itself on offer – wine tasting, a coffee shop or two, art galleries, clay pigeon shooting, and thanks to the recent(ish) introduction of the MOTOR Studio, even vintage cars on display!

...

Searching for Strawberries at Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch (2018-09-15) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 19 JUL 2019

When Spring rolls in at the start of September, the strawberry plants start bearing fruit, and as such, Stellenbosch’s firm family favourite, Polkadraai Farm, opens its gates and allows the public to stream in and start hunting out the best of these sweet red juicy delights.

The last couple of years has seen the farm really cement its family outing offering, with the completion of a host of different upgrades, resulting in an experience with better parking, more shopping variety, outdoor eating options, a mini golf course, jungle gyms, dedicated party venues, pony and tractor trailer rides, and of course expanded strawberry fields for the picking.

It’s a colourful assault on the senses (even if the clouds were a little grey on this particular occasion) and a fun experience for the kids, whom these days don’t often have the opportunity to see just where their food actually comes from. Plus, the strawberries are absolutely delicious, so there’s that too! :P

...

Steam Trains at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-08-11) Markets | Photo Gallery 15 JUL 2019

I have mentioned the wonderful Elgin Railway Market in these pages before, but a visit to this fantastic market with its breathtaking 1920s Art Deco inspired styling is even better if you manage to come through on a day that the brilliant Ceres Rail Company rolls one of its immaculately restored vintage steam locomotives into the station.

Like I previously said, the market on its own is a wonderful experience, well worth a visit if you do ever get the chance. Located in an old apple packing warehouse that has been transformed with the most gorgeous of steel, iron and wood finishes, the market features plenty of communal seating, an incredible atmosphere or vibe if you will, and some really interesting food and craft stalls, with their offerings stretching all the way from artisan gin through to couverture chocolate.

(There is technically a small play area outside for the kids, complete with climbing wall, as well, but seeing as I haven’t really had the girls running around that particular space yet, I can’t really comment all that much on it.)

As for the steam train element, watching one of these smoke billowing beasts pulling into the station is a crowd favourite, even more so when you realize that the train is actually ferrying people in from Cape Town to Elgin on what must be a thoroughly special trip. (So yes, one more thing to add to the never ending list of Cape Town adventures still to be had then I guess! :D)

On the day of this particular visit, it was beautifully restored Bailey, the 1930’s Class 19B No. 1412 steam locomotive, doing the charge to Elgin, with the equally stunning Dominique, the late 1940’s Class 19D No. 3332 steam locomotive, hitched to handle the reverse work.

Basically train heaven then.

...

Fluttering about at Butterfly World in Klapmuts (2018-07-28) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 10 JUL 2019

Klapmuts’ very own Butterfly World has long since expanded since its early days of just breeding butterflies. Up until recently they had suffixed the word “Zoo” to their title, but that wasn’t really all that accurate, seeing as their expansion is based almost entirely on the public leaving unwanted, injured, or abandoned exotic pets with them. In other words, the recently adopted Butterfly World Animal Sanctuary is a much better suited moniker to rally around!

The girls and I drove out for a visit last year and as usual it was a fun, lengthy visit. There had been a number of changes to the premises since we had last visited, and so it was fun to discover the creepy skeleton park (courtesy of young taxidermist(?) Francois Malherbe), the new outdoor animal enclosures, the newly located tea garden, and even the addition of a hopelessly out of its environment Arctic Fox.

(The spider escapees were pretty funny too!)

Butterflies, guinea pigs, exotic birds, snakes, lizards, spiders, monkeys, meerkats and tortoises, Butterfly World continues to exist as a proper menagerie, with all of it beautifully and playfully presented in its iconic tropical styled garden setup.

As per usual, the girls were entertained, informed and occasionally weirded out, making for a properly memorable family outing then.

And then we popped over to next door’s Villa Visaggio for lunch.

...

A Giant Jersey, Pancakes and Silly Fun at Tuinplaas in Albertinia (2018-09-22) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 JUL 2019

With the impossible to miss combination of colourful flapping flags and ridiculously dressed ostriches waving to you from the side of the road, sooner or later you are simply going to have to pull off the N2 at the edge of Albertinia and investigate just what exactly this silliness is that labels itself Tuinplaas. So that then is precisely what I did.

With the girls and myself travelling up for a weekend away in Mossel Bay with my folks, I decided to call up mom and dad (who were already there) and asked them to drive down and meet us in Albertinia for a quick breakfast. Amazingly, they agreed to my plan and soon enough we both pulled up in the vast parking lot of our destination. Hello Tuinplaas.

As it turns out, Tuinplaas is in fact a business that is wonderfully not afraid to throw anything and everything at you in order to be successful. At its core, Tuinplaas probably started out as a garden concrete mouldings specialist (hence the many concrete statues, pots and other garden pieces for sale), but then also successfully dabbles as a plant nursery, with a specific focus on its many beautiful succulents.

On top of all that, next is the homely restaurant (situated right next to all the plants and pots), and beside that, the intriguing farm museum that is host to an incredible collection of scale models (with over 8,000 models on display), ten vintage tractors (the oldest being a 1933 McCormick Deering), and incredibly (because this is Albertinia of all places), the Guiness World Record certified largest hand-knitted jersey (jumper) in the world!

And then there is the very silly, impossible to categorize, R.O.A.R., aka the Royale Ostrich Ancestral Republic, concrete ostriches “installation”. It is very silly (in a good way).

...

Milkshakes at the Pepper Tree Art Stable in Philadelphia (2019-05-12) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 01 JUL 2019

After a lovely mini weekend away to Darling, we took a bit of a detour coming home and ended up in the blink and you will miss it tiny village of Philadelphia, situated just off the N7 about 38 km north of Cape Town. (And yes, it is spelled exactly the same as Rocky Balboa’s home city in Pennsylvania, not to mention all the other same name towns scattered across the USA. Translating to more or less “brotherly love”, it’s a biblical reference in case you were wondering.)

With a history spanning back to 1863, Philadelphia is a small rural town that just so happens to be in possession of a couple of pleasant eateries, a handful of shops, and one or two art galleries lurking around its very few streets. One of these nice little eateries is the Pepper Tree Art Stable & Coffee Shop, taking its name from the impossible to miss, old gnarled pepper trees out in the front of the property.

(Incidentally, the Pepper Tree has now been operating for more than a decade already! I’m not entirely sure how this is the first time that I have ever heard of it.)

Although sitting down for a light lunch on the day would have been rather nice, Chantelle and I had picked our Sunday for this particular visit rather poorly, seeing as it was Mother’s Day and thus fully booked. Nevertheless, they were gracious enough to give us a table for drinks before the lunch rush hour could properly start streaming in.

And so we had milkshakes, marveled at the trees, and inspected all the art – before vowing to come back again as soon as possible.

Thirsts now sated, we next wandered across the road to inspect the incense heavy healing crystals shop (seems popular with visitors), followed by visits to the two decor shops opposite the aptly named Magic Minerals building. And that’s pretty much it for the commercial side of this strangely charming little town then.

...