Tag Archives: stellenbosch

Burgers and Colouring Pages at Villa Visaggio’s in Klapmuts (2018-07-28) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 02 OCT 2018

Jessica, Emily and I paid a long overdue visit to Butterfly World back in July, and after a nice lengthy walkabout of butterfly spotting and guinea pig stroking, I decided that we now wanted something to eat. So, I was rather pleased to discover that there is actually quite a nice lunch option situated right next door to the animal sanctuary these days – in the form of one Villa Visaggio’s.

Set up primarily as a stylish venue intended for weddings, conferences, corporate parties and other event gatherings, Villa Visaggio’s is also home to a really nice restaurant – featuring a decent menu packed with well priced, particularly good food. (I had their Mexican burger on the day, and I have to say, it was pretty damn delicious.)

Although not necessarily spacious enough (in terms of grounds) to be labelled as a kid friendly restaurant, there is however a small play area (complete with jumping castle) out back (though not visible from the dining area), and the menu certainly does a great job of doubling up as a neat little colouring page.

All in all, I rather enjoyed stumbling upon this new option for our annual Butterfly World visit, and honestly, it might just be enough to lure Chantelle to also come out butterfly spotting with us for a change! ;)

Related Link: Villa Visaggio’s | Facebook

Animal Spotting at Giraffe House in Stellenbosch (2017-09-30) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 02 SEP 2018

The Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Centre (better known as the Giraffe House) sits on the outskirts of Stellenbosch on your way to Paarl. Their focus is on providing easy access to some of Africa’s wonderful wildlife and bird species, a place for people to enjoy being outdoors whilst experiencing and learning all about the animals – but most important of all is the fact that they are home to Gerry the hand reared giraffe.

Actually that isn’t all that accurate any more. These days the Giraffe House is home to a handful of giraffes, joining the rest of the stable that includes the likes of monkeys, meerkats, eland, bontebok, grysbok, duikers, springbok, zebra, caracal, cape fox and a black backed jackal!

In addition to the wildlife, Giraffe House also has a couple of farmyard enclosures set up, filled with goats, sheep and geese, perfect recipients for kids eager to feed the animals. (Of course this does then mean with every kid wanting to feed an animal, a lot of kids walk away slightly disappointed when the now obviously not so hungry/quite full goats refuse to take even a nibble! :D)

The center also has a collection of snakes, Nile crocodiles and tortoises on site, with the bird complement being filled by the likes of ostriches, blue crane, storks, lovebirds, parrots, ducks and even a couple of starlings.

Given the open space, the venue also makes for a great locale for kids’ birthday parties, and they have a little snack vendor and small kids play area to ensure that the kids don’t moan too much once they tire of walking about watching the animals.

My favourite part of visiting Giraffe House is however the interactive reptile show with their extremely affable host, who is guaranteed to pretty much always pull a good coupe of laughs out from the crowd.

At least this time around I didn’t end up with a tarantula on my face!

Pro-Tip: Avoid going in the middle of the day when it is too hot – there isn’t a lot of shade, it is a lot of open ground to cover, and quite frankly neither you, your kids or the animals aren’t going to be even bothered with one another if all are miserable and drenched in sweat.

Related Link: The Giraffe House | Stellenbosch

The Muddy Princess Obstacle Mud Run at Vergenoegd in Stellenbosch (2017-04-30) Events | Photo Gallery 19 JUL 2018

Last year Chantelle surprised us all when she agreed to join Andy and a few other ladies on the local Muddy Princess Vergenoegd run. Now if you haven’t heard of it before, the Muddy Princess is an outdoor women only obstacle mud run, with an emphasis on having a “girls’ dirty day out” in the mud.

There is no timing or competition, instead it is all about fun, with the 18-19 obstacles delivering a variety of challenges that sees the ladies (all generally decked out in tiaras, tutus and fairy wings) having to run, walk, climb, slide, balance and laugh their way over the finish line.

Needless to say,  Chantelle was more than just a little nervous come obstacle run day!

However, a couple of hours and a whole lot of mud later, she and the rest of her very wet and bedraggled group emerged victorious. (My shoes that I had loaned her less so.)

The girls and I were there to support her at the finish, and despite being super proud of her for having completed something that is so VERY much out of her comfort zone, I still refused to allow her anywhere near my car.

So, so much mud.

Related Link: Muddy Princess | Vergenoegd Low Wine Estate

Strawberry Picking at Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch (2017-09-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 JUL 2018

Soon soon strawberry picking season will be rolling in again and when that happens you simply have to make a plan to bundle your kids in the car and make the drive through to Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch for what is currently one of the better strawberry picking options on offer.

The team at Polkadraai really have gone all out in terms of spending money on expanding the strawberry picking experience into a full on family  attraction. They’ve added more parking space (truthfully, it is almost never enough), they’ve created a fun playground area for the kids, there are pony  rides to be had, a tractor trailer tour to jump on, a putt putt mini golf course to tackle,  a quick and easy outdoor eating area for light lunches (if you can keep your kids from munching on all strawberries in your bucket), and of course a playfully decorated farm shop that should cater to pretty much everyone’s needs.

However, the strawberry picking itself remains the highlight of any visit, with the large fields with the row upon row of strawberries relatively easy to navigate and pick from – though you might want to consider wearing boots or at least hardy closed shoes given the always slightly soggy ground.

Honestly, the experience is a whole lot of fun if you have small kids to entertain, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying trudging through the channels, pointing out which strawberries the girls needed to pick, and generally just trying my hardest to stop the girls from randomly tucking into the strawberries that were just lying there right in front of them.

As you might be able to pick up from the photos below, last year’s visit saw my folks, Chantelle’s folks, and my heavily pregnant sister Claire with her boys join us for this particular strawberry picking run.

I won’t lie, the kids had fun! :)

And yes, as any self respecting strawberry farm which likes attracting kids should have, there are plenty of very colourful scarecrows scattered all around.

Related Link: Polkadraai Farm | Stellenbosch

Pedal Carts and Craft Beer at Dirtopia on Delvera Farm in Stellenbosch (2017-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 JUL 2018

Delvera (out on the R44 in the Stellenbosch winelands) has now for a long time billed itself as an “agri-village”, a farm estate hosting a lot of little shops focused on arts & crafts, food and kids activities.

Over the years a lot of these businesses have come and gone, but by far the biggest player still left standing in the complex is Dirtopia, the outdoor, off-road event & trail construction company that bases itself out of the Dirtopia Trail Centre at Delvera – which itself was established to provide active travelers with mountain biking, hiking and trail running information (and equipment), as well as serve as a base for permit sales for a range of trails in the Klapmutskop Conservancy.

Dirtopia has also absorbed what used to be known as the Simonsberg Cafe into its operations, renaming the restaurant to Dirtopia Cafe in keeping with the brand. Not that this was the last of their expansions mind you: the team also took over the operation of Oakleaf Lodge, rebranding the lodge to Dirtopia Trail Lodge – so basically affordable country accommodation option for anyone wanting to sleep over while tackling the trails for a weekend then.

Apart from all the Dirtopia operations, there is also Chrisna’s Olives (boutique olive company), the Simonsberg Environmental Education Centre (conservancy), The Vineyard Connection (wine and freight specialist company), Johan Swart Ceramics (ceramics manufacturer), and Polka Dot Party Pants (birthday parties company).

My favourite of the lot though has to be Zebonkey, the cheekily named, family owned micro brewery that produces interesting beers according to the German Reinheitsgebot ( “German Beer Purity Law”) – but always with a twist, like using sea salt water or Buchu smoked wheat!

Anyway, the point is that Delvera is currently super popular with mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners, but if like us you are none of the above, there is still just enough reason to pay a visit – even if it is just to have lunch in Dirtopia Cafe’s wonderfully leafy garden setting while sipping on a Zebonkey craft brew and taking in the stunning Stellenbosch winelands view.

As for the girls, there was only really one thing that they were dead set on tackling during our visit – the pedal carts! (But be warned – there is a LOT of competition to grab hold of one…)

Tip: According to their website, please note that some businesses at Delvera (not any of the Dirtopia ones mind you) are open by prior arrangement only, so it is advisable to call in advance to avoid disappointment.

Related Link: Dirtopia Trail Centre | Zebonkey Brewery | Delvera | Stellenbosch

Art in the Mosaic Kraal at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 MAR 2018

When it comes to picking out the granddaddy of visitor friendly wine estates in Stellenbosch, then surely the venerable Spier comes out right at the top of the list. It has been on the tourist welcoming bandwagon for many years now, and as a family we’ve also enjoyed the beautiful estate more than just a few times in the past.

Although the list of things to do at Spier has ebbed and flowed over the years, these days the wine estate still offers a smorgasbord of activities to both the day and overnight visitor – from wine tasting, picnics on their luscious lawns, self-guided walks and Segway tours, to dining at either Spier Farm Kitchen,  the Hotel Restaurant, Eight Restaurant, or the excellent Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery.

You can ride a horse, browse the Craft Market, shop at the Spier Gift Shop, watch birds of prey at Eagle Encounters, get a treatment at The Spa, visit the Spier Artisan Studio, or simply admire the countless examples of public art on display.

And then of course there is the plethora of art and music festivals that seem to take place all the time!

On of the oldest farms in South Africa, and one of the most environmentally conscious, Spier also puts a lot of effort in its community upliftment projects as well as supporting local art through its art academy and various art projects.

On that note, one of the newer displays on the grounds is the Mosaic Kraal, containing various mosaic art pieces created by local artisans.

Given that I had just entertained Jessica and Emily with a rewarding visit to the owls and eagles of Eagle Encounters, I thought it only fair that I take some time for myself and get a chance to leisurely browse through some of Spier’s art pieces – much to the frustration of two easily bored little girls.

So I sauntered a little slower to make sure it took just that little bit longer…

It is really is hard not to enjoy strolling around Spier’s expansive grounds!

Related Link: Spier Wine Farm | Stellenbosch

Scones and Cream at Hillcrest Berry Orchards in Banhoek Valley (2017-08-13) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 29 JAN 2018

Having spent most of our Sunday enjoying a drive, admiring the Huguenot Monument, and letting the kids run wild and free at the Station Pub & Grill in Franschhoek, we then wrapped up the outing with a stop at Hillcrest Berry Orchard (at the behest of BOTH Chantelle and the girls!) on the drive back.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time then you know that we end up stopping here more often than not whenever we find ourselves driving along the R310, better known as the Helshoogte road, through the beautiful Banhoek Valley (which lies on the outskirts of Stellenbosch on your way through Pniel and on to Franschhoek).

If that is the case, then you undoubtedly already know about the fantastic jams and other berry-rich products that Hillcrest Berries produces, not to mention the good, uplifting work opportunities it provides in the immediate area.

If you know about those, then you probably also know that the Tea Garden and its deck with a view is a great option for some good coffee and scones, and furthermore, as a long time reader you would probably then also know that paying a little more for the Devonshire clotted cream REALLY is the way to go.

Unless of course they don’t have any more left for the day, meaning then that your foodie wife is nearly brought to tears with disappointment.

Still, it was a very nice enough stop as always – even if they had already run out of clotted cream for the day.

Related Link: Hillcrest Berries | Facebook

Fishing for Lunch at Eikendal in Stellenbosch (2017-08-06) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 11 DEC 2017

You could of course travel to Eikendal in Raithby, lying along the R44 snug between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, in order to taste and buy their award winning wines. You could even be heading out that way to stay in one of the private terraced rooms of the Eikendal Lodge, or perhaps to try your hand at fly fishing in their trout stocked dams.

Most likely though, you are probably heading towards their distinctively styled entrance to grab a seat (either inside or out) at Cucina di Giovanni, more commonly referred to as Giovanni’s among the locals.

We didn’t actually know this, but it turns out that this restaurant is rather on the popular side, and even more pleasingly, produces some particularly delicious pizza – as we find out for ourselves with an impromptu visit there one Sunday afternoon back in August this year.

(Turns out, the place we were actually on our way out to, the nearby Vredenhof, is closed on Sundays).

Eikendal itself is really worth a visit though.

Obviously there is the traditional wine tasting and food pairing that happens at the Eikendal Tasting Centre, but then there are also tours of their distinctive barrel vaulted cellar, fishing with the onsite Winelands Fly Fishing outfit, upmarket food from Giovanni’s, mapped out vineyards walks, lush green lawns, and finally a small kids play area, to enjoy.

Also, the abundant views of the vineyards and mountains isn’t too shabby either.

Chantelle, the kids and I rather enjoyed this impromptu visit, and given the fact that Eikendal lists Kiddies Tastings and Tractor Rides on their website, there is a more than reasonable chance of us returning for a more full experience sooner than later!

Related Link: Eikendal Wine Estate | Cucina di Giovanni | Giovanni’s Eikendal

Jam and Scones at Hillcrest Berry Orchards in the Banhoek Valley (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 24 NOV 2017

It is nowadays quite impossible for me to travel the road from Stellenbosch, past Pniel and on towards Franschhoek without it being requested that I stop for scones and cream at Hillcrest Berry Orchards by young Jessica.

(Not that I mind though – a visit to Hillcrest Berries, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, is always quite pleasant!)

While you can sit and dine in the remarkably popular restaurant/tea room if the weather doesn’t play along, it is by far the best to grab a spot on their terrace, with its beautiful views over the Banhoek Valley.

You’ll be rewarded with some crisp fresh air and some particularly pretty scenery to look at.

Primarily a producer of a wide selection of fine jams from the assortment of berries grown on the working berry farm, a visit to Hillcrest Berry Orchards is definitely defined by tucking into their scones, first choosing the jams to accompany and then deciding on what to round it off with.

Pro Tip: the Devonshire Clotted Cream is the MUST go to option, no question about it!

The atmosphere is relaxed (though on this particular visit there was a gaggle of girls celebrating someone’s 16th birthday, which on its own made for a very entertaining watch – so much posing and so, so many selfies!), the scones, jam and coffee great, and the view is fantastic.

Hard to argue against visiting this great little business that coincidentally also does so much good in its local community then.

Oh, and they even have a couple of weekend away guest cottages for rent available these days – just in case you’re looking for a bit of a Banhoek Valley/Stellenbosch getaway.

(Bonus: You’ll note the sad face photo of Jessica towards the bottom of the photo gallery. It was just me and the girls on one of our days out and about and unfortunately for Jess, it was a bit of a knee meet cement slab moment.)

Related Link: Hillcrest Berries | Facebook