If you have small kids and are looking to get out of the house with them on a rainy day in Mossel Bay, then you might be interested to hear of the existence of Da Playhouse, a small indoor kids play area tucked away under one of the hotels at Diaz Beach.
It has everything a small play area needs, and more importantly, a constant supply of coffee, cake and magazines for those of us who have to sit and wait while the kids have fun.
Sadly for me though, the girls spotted me tucking into my heavy chocolate cake. Sigh, sharing is caring I suppose…
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And yes, obviously they host kids parties too.
Bonus: Just so you know, Mossel Bay is also home to another kids indoor play area, Blasters. Worth keeping in mind for when you find yourself in the area over the winter period.
Having decided that she wasn’t particularly keen on eating lunch off a bench table at Wilgewandel following our exciting morning of exploring the world famous Cango Caves, Chantelle was instead much happier with the idea of taking a short hop up to the Cango Caves Estate (which itself is just below the Cango Caves), home to both an interesting looking deli and a rather scary looking zipline!
This turned out to be a really, really good idea, because a) the deli afforded fantastic views of the swartberg mountains, b) the tranquility of the Grobbelaars River was right there if needed, c) the zipline made for some exciting people watching, and d) the coffee at the Cango Caves Estate turns out to be rather good.
Aside from its main business as a wedding or private event facility (the restored Manor House elegantly caters for this), the Cango Caves Estate also operates a very popular deli, which has its own coffee roastery and curio selection, not to mention its impressive stock of all the local fine wines, cheeses and biltong.
Then of course there is their zipline.
The Cango Caves Zipline is a double zipline setup, meaning that two people can slide side by side at the same time.
The ride starts at the parking area of the Cango Caves, with an initial teaser zip of some 155 meters over a Karoo ravine, followed by the big 465 meters trip over a game enclosure and all the way down to the Cango Caves Estate!
My girls are of course too small for this, (while Chantelle and I too heavy), so we opted to rather make do with some delicious pizza and ice cold drinks, admire the view, and perhaps try and beat the heat instead.
Can’t say that it wasn’t an enjoyable attempt.
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Their food is good and the deli air-conditioned (and rather comfortable), making this a worthwhile stop if you ever do find yourself out and about in the middle of a sweltering hot Karoo afternoon.
Three minutes down the road from the world famous Oudtshoorn Cango Caves is the popular (and relatively well known) Wilgewandel Holiday Farm, a family friendly accommodation option situated at the foot of the Swartberg mountain range.
Famous for their camel rides (which is precisely the reason we simply HAD to take Jessica there following our exploration of the caves), Wilgewandel is built around its kid friendly activities, offering things like water slides, donkey cart rides, the humorously named Ghwarra-Ghwarra Golf Course (putt putt), a foefie slide (zip-line), pedal cars, farmyard animals and rowing boats – basically it should technically be near impossible for your kids not to find some form of entertainment that they enjoy on the grounds!
Centered around a lovely dam, there is plenty of space to run around, the farm atmosphere keeps everything relaxed, and the onsite restaurant works hard to ensure that everyone has a plate of food and full glass in front of them.
Oh, and Wilgewandel sports a pretty well stocked curio shop as well – useful for all those touristy people among us.
The place is then as you imagine a magnet for day visitors and as such can get quite busy at times – so worth keeping in mind if you were originally looking to get away for some complete peace and quiet!
Although we weren’t staying at Wilgewandel (we were bunked down at the lovely De Oude Meul Country Lodge further down the road), and we didn’t grab a bite to eat here either (Chantelle preferred to grab something a little better looking from the nearby Cango Caves Estate instead), we did however hang around long enough give the girls a good chance to run around and play and talk to all the animals – and of course let Jessica tackle her second camel ride of the year.
(Which she absolutely LOVED of course!)
So, if you have kids with you and are looking to escape the the hot Oudtshoorn/Klein Karoo sun (and maybe recharge your batteries for a bit by letting the kids run off to play), then marking Wilgewandel on your travel map is definitely quite the good idea.
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Bonus: It is worth noting that I’m not overly excited by their pricing model mind you – basically you need to pay for every single activity as opposed to bunching every thing up under a single access fee, meaning that a day out at Wilgewandel as a day visitor has the potential to get really expensive really quickly if you have two or more kids running around who demand to try absolutely each and everything on offer.
That said, Wilgewandel Holiday Farm is out in the middle of nowhere and is definitely an oasis of entertainment if you ever find yourself lounging around Oudtshoorn with bored kids that are maybe a little tired of seeing ostriches every time that they look out of a window! :D
The other day Chantelle came up with a rather strange suggestion – “Why don’t we go out for lunch at Somerset Lakes?”. Now I know that Somerset Lakes is one of the new fancy Somerset West residential estates that they are building here rather close to us (in fact, it is right next to the brand new, rather posh Reddam School that recently opened its doors), but residential estates aren’t normally open to the public now are they?
Well as it turns out, Somerset Lakes has in fact allowed its clubhouse facility to be converted into a restaurant (aptly called The Lake House), operated by the same team that own the excellent Southey’s Family Bistro (also in Somerset West).
The restaurant itself is situated in this beautiful contemporary designed building that overlooks Somerset Lakes’ titular lake (which is of course nearly empty now thanks to the drought that continues to plague the Western Cape), with its open plan spaces spilling outside in the form of lovely open deck, complete with small swimming pools for both big and small.
Pizzas are currently the hot item on The Lake House’s menu, and it is pretty easy to see why after having tried a few of them for ourselves!
(Unfortunately the restaurant is still waiting to receive their liquor licence, meaning that for now you need to remember to bring your own drink if the non-alcholic stuff doesn’t quite do it for you any more).
The girls were of course completely lost to the pool (which is literally right next to the tables on the deck), meaning that Chantelle and I had even more time to just sit, relax, and enjoy the view.
(Or, if your kids don’t enjoy the pool, they can always go play on the artificial beach in front of the clubhouse as well!)
After lunch, we decided to take a delightful stroll along the lengthy boardwalk that takes you around the central lake. Naturally, the area is usually a lot more pretty (and will be once the rains start coming in again), but nevertheless, it was great way to stretch the legs whilst watching the abundance of bird life that still call this area home.
Along the way we came across a jungle gym for the kids to spend some of their energy at, and a little later, an outdoor gym (complete with concrete weights).
Obviously, without not a single other soul in sight, we had a ball giving everything a quick go ourselves! ;)
Back at the clubhouse, Jessica and I decided to take a quick stroll over to the nearby grove of Pine trees, where we were rather excited to find a full on obstacle course lurking in the small forest. (A pretty handy find considering the fact that Chantelle would be tackling the Muddy Princess obstacle race rather soon!)
Note: I found out later via some Googling once back at home that these are all a leftover from the recent The Grind obstacle race which was held back in February this year.
Also, as you might have suspected, I took loads of pictures with my phone on the day, some of which didn’t come out half bad if I say so myself:
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It is kind of strange that a private residential estate has allowed for the establishment of a public restaurant on their grounds, but I for one am rather glad that they did, because the location is rather stunning and thus well worth the visit if you ever find yourself anywhere near the area!
I’ve already posted about Vredenbosch, this gem of a kid friendly find that I made with the girls the other day, but what I didn’t get around to was posting any photos of the very fun “flying fox” style foofy (foefie) slide (also known as a zip-line for any non South Africans reading this) that you can find on the obstacle course/animal grazing grounds in front of the restaurant.
Obviously Jessica wanted a ride on it at first sight (which surprisingly went very well), and after seeing her sister having all the fun, obviously Emily also wanted in on the action too.
Amazingly, this also went rather well (though with her I stuck close by!).
The girls probably had me pulling and pushing them along the line for at least an hour, and had an absolute blast of a time in the process.
Even the free roaming alpacas came in for a closer look! (Much to little Emily’s horror of course!)
A highly recommended outing if you have kids with a lot of energy and in need of a LOT of space to run around and play in!
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Here’s a handy map in case your kids bug you to take them there for some fun:
Related Link: Vredenbosch Restaurant
I stumbled across this gem of a kid friendly place in Stellenbosch by the name of Vredenbosch. It is situated along the R304, heading out of Stellenbosch, on what is or was Pete’s Adventure Farm (I’m struggling to ascertain as to whether or not Pete’s is still a thing – certainly the horse rides through the nearby wildlife sanctuary appears to still be alive and well, based on the website some Googling turned up).
According to the waitress that helped the girls and I out with some ice cream and coffee on the day (we were a little hot and bothered following our morning of gallivanting at Klein Joostenberg and its surrounds), Vredenbosch hasn’t been operating for all that long, but has already proven quite popular for the hosting of kids birthday parties, kitchen teas and that sort of gathering – thanks primarily to its remote location and humongous wide open space which is just perfect for letting the kids run wild in.
I didn’t really order food, so I can’t comment on that, but the menu seemed to cover all the bases, and the girls certainly enjoyed both their milkshake and ice-creams. (Apparently though, they are still waiting on their liquor licence – which was a bit of a surprise considering the location).
We sat in the shade of the outside area, but once the group of ladies celebrating a kitchen tea moved on, we did venture inside to get a better look at what turns out to be quite a spacious restaurant interior.
The real stars of the show were however the miniature horses roaming around the enclosed field, which Jessica immediately made a beeline for. There are also these two awesomely chilled alpacas wandering about, Lucio and Frost, who are quite curious about anyone that steps into their domain.
While Jess rather enjoyed having all these animals freely wander about, Emily was of course absolutely terrified – meaning that whenever they would come in close to investigate us, she would tearfully disappear behind my legs faster than what I could blink!
Apart from the animals roaming about, the expansive field also houses a wooden obstacle course as well as a wooden jungle gym. However, the star of the field is without a doubt the foofy slide (or zipline as it is otherwise known), which at the end of the day provided at least an hour’s worth of entertainment (if not more) to the girls! (More pics in a follow up post!)
So yes, as you might imagine, the girls and I ended up spending quite a bit of time at Vredenbosch on the day. In other words, a good find indeed!
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Here it is on the map in case you think your kids might also like to give it a go:
Related Link: Vredenbosch Restaurant