Tag Archives: spier

Touching Owls from Eagle Encounters at Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 MAR 2017

I’m not massively fond of animals in captivity. However, there is most of the time a sound argument for this to be a thing (and necessary at that), so okay, I’ll go with it. Plus, when you have kids, nothing beats a trip to see some really interesting feathered/furry/scaly creatures – which is a lot easier when they are conveniently all in one place.

Now, if birds of prey is your thing and you find yourself in the Stellenbosch winelands, then you are definitely in luck, because Eagle Encounters, situated on land donated by the renowned Spier wine estate, is definitely worth a stop.

Founded in 2001, Eagle Encounters is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism centre.

Birds of prey, raptors are their speciality, and scattered all about their premises you will encounter a wide variety of eagles, hawks, falcons, kites, buzzards, vultures, owls and all other manner of feathered hunters.

With funding coming primarily from their eco-tourism slant, Eagle Encounters makes sure that there is enough on the go to keep visitors interested, with various interactive shows throughout the day, including falconry demonstrations, secretary bird stomp displays, and mock hunts for their varied selection of raptors.

The birds are for the most part out in the open, tethered to their perches, which is apparently the currently most accepted way of keeping these big birds safe and sound, as it helps in preventing them from injuring themselves whilst in captivity.

(Like I said, I’m not overly fond of animals in captivity, though birds have always been the worst for me. Nothing sadder than seeing a bird in a tiny cage. I honestly don’t know why anyone keeps birds as pets. Very maddening for me. Strangely enough though, fish are alright. I have no idea why I have such a lower opinion of the little swimming fellas out there..)

Anyway, the kids always seem to enjoy the outing – though I suspect that is almost entirely based on the fact that they are allowed to touch owls, and better still, coax them to come and sit on their arms.

Which so far has worked out pretty well for us.

In other words, I’m still waiting for the day one of the owls decides to make a sudden poo!

(Mind you, this particular visit of ours was pretty cool. I got to hold a Cape Vulture aloft – man, those birds are much lighter than what their size suggests! Sadly though, Chantelle didn’t get a photo of this. A lot better than the last time I was called up during an interactive show – the guys at Giraffe House put a tarantula on my face!)

Right. So in short, an interesting visit if you are into your birds of prey. Photo opportunities as with any bird sanctuary is a bit of a hit and miss – I know that I certainly never get anything good on my little old phone camera whenever we pop in for a visit to a place with creatures behind fencing/netting…

Naturally, here’s a map if you want to go and touch some soft fluffy owls for yourself one day:

Related Link: Eagle Encounters | Facebook | Spier

Exploring the Lawns of Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 27 DEC 2016

Back in September Chantelle and I took the girls out for a visit to Eagle Encounters at the world famous Spier Wine Farm. Of course, any visit to the beautiful grounds of Spier is not complete with an amble down its many scenic walkways, admiring the art installations, the gables of the beautiful Cape Dutch architecture, the lush gardens and picnic areas, and of course breathing in that fresh Stellenbosch air. (Wine Tasting is a must as well, but that is often easier when you don’t have little ones darting all about you, excited at the prospect of touching owls and seeing eagles!)

Spier has for years now been one of the leaders (if not THE leader) in the wine estate as a destination tourism industry, and these days are certainly no different.

There is a literal smorgasbord of things to see/do on the wine farm, like tasting wine at their purpose built tasting room, enjoying a picnic on their endless lawns with a picnic basket stocked by the Eight To Go Deli, heading out on one of the many walking tours around the estate, feasting at either Eight or the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery, shopping at the Craft Market and Gift Shop, relaxing at the Spa, learning about birds of prey at Eagle Encounters, exploring the vineyards on Segways, taking in the Spier Art Collection, or resting your head in one of the lovely rooms of the Spier Hotel.

It is impossible not to spend a lot of time then when at Spier, and so if you have never been there before, then you should know that a visit to the Stellenbosch winelands isn’t quite complete without a visit to the iconic Spier wine farm.

As you would expect from any place established way back in 1692, Spier (one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms by the way) has a fascinating history and a legacy for those interested in that sort of thing to discover.

In terms of architecture, naturally Spier has a lot of fine examples of the iconic Cape Dutch styled houses on display, with a staggering 21 historic gables that can be found on the estate.

As I said, our particular outing on the day was very much centered around our visit to the Owls and Eagles at Eagle Encounter, but we did stroll around the grounds as much as the little ones would allow for, with a stop for a quick lunch at the brilliant Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery.

I would love to explore a lot more, so I reckon a return visit for just Chantelle and myself might soon be in order! ;)

In case you want to go and check it out for yourself, here’s a handy map:

Bonus: Spier published this polished video about the current state of their operation to Youtube in May 2015. Great at summing up the vibe of such a great Stellenbosch space:

Related Link: Spier Wine Farm

Bratwurst from Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery at Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 08 NOV 2016

Based in Ndabeni, Hoghouse Brewing Co. started out as a craft brewery before expanding into artisan bread making and believe it or not, Texan-style smokehouse barbeque food. Following a successful season or two of their popular bakery at the ever beautiful Spier Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery is now back bigger and better, with a giant new smoker and a tasty barbeque menu to go along with it!

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Having come to Spier for a bit of bird watching at Eagle Encounters, we decided to give the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery a go for a lightning quick lunch – and pleasingly, despite the lack of a booking, they were able to help us out with a small table right before the lunch rush began!

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If you are looking for smoked meat decadence, then Hoghouse’s menu certainly doesn’t disappoint, but because we were a  little on the clock, it had to be something small – hence some handmade fries for the girls to nibble on (they were too busy rolling around on Spier’s lawns in any event to even bother with actual food!), a good looking salad for Chantelle, and a bratwurst hotdog of all things for me.

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Mind you, I wasn’t just content with savouring their food alone – no, I also enjoyed one of their signature craft brews which happily turned out to be well worth it in terms of flavour.

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The staff were awesome, the vibe really cool, and surrounded by the Cape Dutch architecture and beauty that is Spier’s grounds, pretty much everything now points to the fact that we need to head out that way again for a proper lunch as soon as the chance arises.

After all, have you seen that BBQ listing on their menu!!!

A handy map:

Related Link: Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery | Facebook | Spier Wine Estate

Photo Gallery: Eagle Encounters at Spier (2013-10-20) Photo Gallery 22 OCT 2013

Last Saturday was pretty awesome, what with Jessica and myself spending literally the whole day together, followed by an evening visit that saw Retha and Miguel (finally back from their teaching stint in Borneo) join us for homemade hamburgers and chips with a movie (This is 40 – which was actually pretty funny, even if it didn’t really go anywhere), the night being capped off with some fun FIFA battles between Miguel and myself that went on well into the early hours of Sunday morning, much to the detriment of poor Retha who couldn’t go to sleep thanks to our incessant cheering!

After a leisurely breakfast at the Garden Kitchen and saying goodbye to our friends, Chantelle, Jess and I took a snap decision to head out to the Eagle Encounters bird sanctuary at Spier (the weather was too poor to go for first choice World of Birds in Hout Bay), a tourist spot where believe it or not, neither of us had actually been to before!

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Although it’s sad to see all the quite magnificent birds of prey cooped up (or in this case, tethered up), the sanctuary really does some incredible work, and all in all it really was amazing to see some of these majestic birds from so close up. We enjoyed an informative show (where Jessica completely surprised us by demanding that the owl come sit on her hand as well), and a demonstration or two (the secretary bird’s incredible kick accuracy is certainly something to behold, never mind the bounding porcupine who loves to play run), and by the time the rain finally decided to show up, we were quite happy with what we had seen on the day.

Definitely a sight worth visiting then in other words (though only if you pay that little extra to gain access to the shows), especially if you haven’t seen some of the bigger eagles in person ever before!

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