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.)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”55979,55980,55981,55982,55983,55984,55985,55986,55987″]
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.
On a day that would go on to include falcon and owl watching at Eagle Encounters, admiring art installations at Spier, browsing through antiques at the Stellenbosch Toy Museum, building pizzas at Weltevreden’s The Carnival and lastly a visit with my folks in Bellville, the morning started off in a much more sedate fashion with a session of doughnuts and chocolate croissants while waiting for some rather special ducks to arrive.
The estate actually has quite a nice little Saturday routine set up now, starting off with their early Family Breakfast Run (or Walk) event which then leads into the small but pleasant Saturday Market that seems to always features some great, chilled music and a very relaxed vibe.
(Oh, and being a wine farm there is naturally opportunity for some impromptu wine tasting as well.)
There are a couple of activities for the smaller kids to partake in (my girls in particular were very, very keen for a ride around the vlei on the blue quadbike “train”), and as far as I can tell, it looks like the market is pretty pet friendly.
The highlight for a lot of people is of course the running of the ducks, when Vergenoegd’s 1000+ strong “duck squad” makes its appearance for their morning duties, with the trained Indian Runner ducks marching along past the manor house before heading out into the vineyards to hunt down all those pesky/delicious snails!
For interest sake, the manor house pictured above houses Vergenoegd’s onsite restaurant – but funnily enough we have yet to actually give it a go. All in good time I guess…
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”46348,46388,46387,46386,46385,46384,46383,46382,46381,46380,46379,46378,46377,46376,46375,46374,46373,46372,46371,46370,46369,46368,46367,46366,46365,46364,46363,46362,46361,46360,46359,46358,46357,46356,46355,46354,46353,46352,46351,46350,46349,46335,46336,46337,46338,46339,46340,46341,46342,46343,46344,46345,46346,46347″]
Hard not to recommend the Duck Parade as a morning outing if you have little kids. (Or just love quirky looking ducks I suppose).
Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate
The Stellenbosch wine estate of Vergenoegd went from being completely unheard of to one of Cape Town’s “must visit” attractions in literally the space of a year and a half, and while a lot of this is of course down to some really good marketing, the lion’s share of kudos has to go to the farm’s unusual, eco-friendly pest control scheme – their duck squad.
Cared for by duck handler Denzel Metthys, around a 1,000 trained Indian Runner ducks are used to control snails and other pests in Vergenoegd’s vineyards.
These ducks, who put on daily parades in front of the manor house, are essentially the wine estate’s superstars, and as such are treated rather well.
As for the wine estate itself, well the team over at Vergenoegd produce some rather nice wines, have a great restaurant operating out of the old manor house, host a couple of events, and nowadays, is home to a popular weekend farmers market.
A team over at Great Big Story put together this great little feature on this feathered story:
Well worth putting on your “things to see” in the Western Cape list.
Following some delightful deli delicacies from the upmarket Asara boutique hotel outside Stellenbosch one early Saturday morning in October last year (the original plan had been to pick strawberries at Polkadraai Farm down the road in case you are wondering), we next popped our heads in at nearby Vredenheim – where we promptly decided to much rather head further down the road to visit the newly revamped Vergenoegd Wine Estate for the first time – and man are we glad that we did!
Despite being the third oldest wine farm in the Cape (having been established way, way back in 1773), Vergenoegd has never really been a part of Stellenbosch’s famed (and super lucrative) wine route tourism market – a fact that has only now recently been rectified, following a change of ownership in 2015.
The new owners have done an amazing job of renovating and breathing new life into this grand old dame of a wine farm, allowing for Vergenoegd to very much become the new Stellenbosch destination darling that everyone seems to currently be talking about!
(Seriously, whomever is handling their marketing needs a massive raise. That team is doing a brilliant job of putting Vergenoegd very firmly on Stellenbosch’s tourism map!)
Front and center in terms of popular attractions is of course their amazingly well trained herd of Indian Runner ducks, tasked with keeping the vineyards snail and bug free.
The famous duck parade (the girls LOVED it!) is of course a massive hit with the kids, and in fact, has done so well for Vergenoegd that they now even host full on, informative duck tours!
In terms of dining offerings, they have a lovely restaurant area in front of the manor house, as well as a range of artisan picnic options to choose from.
Then of course there is the wine tasting covering their various well made wines, and even more interestingly, a range of interactive wine, olive oil, tea and coffee blending experiences that teaches you about the source and technique behind some of the Cape’s best food and drink products.
Naturally, as just about every other place in the winelands is doing these days, Vergenoegd is also home to its very own Saturday farmer’s market, with both adults and kids well catered for.
Given the market’s runaway success, the team has now further expanded on the this experience by hosting live music events, bringing in some surprisingly popular local musicians in the process!
(Oh, and they also have a weekly, family friendly fun run/walk through the vineyards.)
In other words, it is really, really hard not to like this place.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, we kind of just wandered onto the estate without knowing anything about it other than there was a pretty cool duck parade to be seen. The market was certainly a pleasant (and welcome!) surprise, and we ended up having a great afternoon out there on the day, soaking up the vibe and enjoying the live music.
As always, I snapped a few pictures which does nothing to do the place any sort of real justice, but serves well enough to give a decent idea of what you can expect to find any given Saturday afternoon at Vergenoegd:
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”44165,44166,44167,44168,44169,44170,44171,44172,44173,44174,44175,44176,44177,44178,44179,44180,44181,44182,44183,44184,44185,44186,44187,44188,44189,44190,44191,44192,44193,44194,44195,44196,44197,44198,44199,44200,44201,44202,44203,44204,44205,44206,44207,44231,44208,44209,44211,44212,44213,44214,44215,44216,44217,44218,44219,44220,44221,44222,44223,44232,44224,44225,44226,44227,44228,44229,44230″]
In summary: The little ones are of course guaranteed to get a kick out of the ducks, but that said, the restaurant location is fantastic, not to mention the new market. Well worth a weekend outing then.
Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate