Tag Archives: dam

Lemon Meringue at Die Kloof Padstal in Montagu (2020-10-26) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 16 MAR 2021

Also known as Route 62 Restaurant and Farm Stall, Die Kloof Padstal is probably one of the more famous farm stall stops in the Langeberg area. Literally the first building that you encounter on the left as you enter Montagu via the Cogmanskloof tunnel side, this is a proper never-say-die institution, having survived countless floods, veld fires, the seemingly never-ending roadworks that have defined the area for so many years now, and now of course the recent decimation of the tourist industry that Covid-19 and all its accompanying lockdowns have wrought.

Die Kloof Padstal is situated on the banks of the Keisie River, and its large, tree shaded outdoor area features picturesque views of Bloupunt and the Langeberg mountains. This spacious garden area is filled with stuff for the kids to play on, making it a very family friendly space, and if the weather is say not so great on the day of your visit, they also have a very comfortable, cozy interior section under their quaint thatched roof. Free wi-fi happily keeps you connected while you wait on your food and drinks to arrive, and given their rather extensive menu, you are pretty much guaranteed to find something to your liking.

The farm stall itself is packed with all manner gifts, crafts, handbags, hats, and books to browse through, as well as a plethora of locally produced dried fruit, nuts, jams, biltong and preserves to indulge in. We tend to try and pay at least one visit to Die Kloof Padstal whenever we find ourselves staying in the Montagu area, and last year’s lovely little between lockdowns stay at Badensfontein was certainly no exception.

The kids stretched their legs, we ate our lemon meringue and they their waffles and ice cream, and then we all went down the road to spend some time watching the mass of sacred ibis birds that roost at the Leidam, Montagu’s old leiwater dam. Tranquil.

A Stroll around Door de Kraal Dam in Bellville (2021-01-30) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 09 MAR 2021

The family and I felt like a bit of a walk about Majik Forest in the Door de Kraal suburb of Bellville the other day, so we hopped into the car and headed out to the Northern Suburbs via the R300, making our way up the gates only to realize that under current Covid-19 lockdown levels, the fenced in Majik Forest park was still very much tightly locked up. Disappointed, we quickly moved on to a different option in the same area, the remarkably nearby Door de Kraal Dam.

Situated in the heart of the suburbs, tucked in between Door de Kraal, Kenridge, and Tyger Valley (and just across from the sprawling Willowbridge Mall village), the Door de Kraal Dam is a fair sized man made dam that offers a neat little green space that comes with picnic lawns, a circular walking path, fishing opportunities (this is the only local dam in the area that catch and release fishing is allowed at), and a great variety of birdlife, thanks in part to the many reeds growing around the banks of the dam.

It’s not a particularly long walk, between 1 and 2 km to go around via the path, but it is wide open green space with clear blue skies above and happy dogs being walked all around you.

McDonalds at Poinsettia Park in Somerset West (2020-08-22) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 20 FEB 2021

I am not fond of McDonalds fast food to say the least. If we absolutely do have to have fast food then the oily (but tasty) mess that is KFC could probably be classified as my favourite fast food option, but unfortunately for me, both my wife and kids seem to like what comes out of the Golden Arches’ kitchen and thus every now and then I need to indulge them. That said, if the chance arises to not have to eat it in the fast food outlet itself, then I always try to grab that opportunity with both hands. Case in point – why eat in the admittedly nicely airconditioned and spacious McDonalds of Waterstone Village Somerset West when it is by far more pleasant to just drive up the road and munch on your cardboard patty around nearby Poinsettia Park dam instead.

Situated to the side of the very nice, up on a hill suburb of Heldervue, Somerset West, sits Poinsettia Park, a small strip of green wedged in between suburbia and the big R44 that serves to shuttle traffic between the Helderberg and Stellenbosch. Built around a small dam, this space of green is a relatively popular spot for fishing and family picnics, and also features a small loop which makes it great for getting dogs (and little girls) to stretch their legs a little. These days there is also a brightly coloured outdoor gym in case you are eager to show off some sweaty muscles to whomever is willing to take the time to look.

As for the three of us (Chantelle was back home hard at work in the kitchen on this particular day of out and about adventure), we found a bench, munched on our food, watched the birdlife and the fishermen at work, and then grumpily took a short stroll before chasing back to the car because the youngest one decided that the need for a toilet was now about to enforce itself. (Kids always make everything so fun.)

Anyway, with the relatively busy R44 lying right next door, Poinsettia Park isn’t a particularly quiet and tranquil space, but it is rather pretty to look at, and it definitely does beat sitting in a boring McDonalds, that’s for sure!

Ducks and Noodles at Sonstraal Dam in Durbanville (2019-07-17) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 MAR 2020

We obviously have a few of our own nice places to head out for a walk here in Gordon’s Bay (aka we live by the sea), but I have to say that I do miss having easy access to the very scenic Sonstraal Dam in Durbanville.

There’s actually two dams tucked away in the leafy desirable Sonstraal/Vygeboom/Eversdal residential area of Durbanville, the smaller Vygeboom Dam at the top and then the much larger Sonstraal dam at the bottom.

Although neglected for a number of years, the ban on fishing and subsequent clean up operations have resulted in a wonderful green space with a footpath that lazes around the body of water, offering a tranquil and scenic family friendly nature experience right in the heart of the suburbs.

With the now abundant bird life that call this dam home there is forever a goose to feed, a water fowl to cheer on, or a duckling to swoon over. It is fresh air, a chance to stretch the legs, and it is short, so the girls can’t really justify moaning at me if they didn’t really want to do it in the first place.

And then usually, like we did on this late mid week afternoon outing, we ended off our wanderings in Durbanville with Chinese takeout food at the Kenridge institution that is Ho-Ho Take-Aways. (Chantelle has been ordering from then since she was in school!)

It was, quite frankly, delicious.

Fishing and Picnics at Majik Forest in Bellville (2017-12-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 AUG 2018

The Durbanville/Bellville area is home to a couple of nice greenbelt areas, not necessarily as lush green as those found in Constantia and the like, but certainly nice wide open spaces with lots of grass and loads of good picnic spots. One of the better known ones is Majik Forest, a strip on the edge of Welgemoed that encompasses two dams (Fynbos Dam and Amandel Dam) and of course the titular small forest.

Naturally this then means that you are bound to encounter quite a few families spending some quality time down on the grass together, either enjoying a picnic, trying their hand at a bit of fishing or going for long walks. (The forest on the other hand is the perfect spot for teenagers looking for a bit of privacy – or at least that is how it was back when I was growing up!)

Mountain bikers have laid some serious claim to Majik Forest, with the Tygerberg MTB Club setting up shop and laying out various trails over the area. The park is also adjacent to Vink’s Arboretum, another great public space that is home to over 500 different indigenous trees!

So, a great option to keep in mind if you find yourself in the Northern Suburbs and want to get the kids off the couch and away from the tablet/TV!

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Side Note: Although security used to be somewhat of an issue in the area, following the fencing off of the entire public space, things have gotten much better, thus seeing an influx of families returning to relax in the park.

Related Link: Majik Forest | Bellville

Strolling around Sonstraal Dam in Durbanville (2017-08-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 MAY 2018

Going for an afternoon stroll around Sonstraal Dam whilst feeding the ducks is somewhat of an institution for any family with small kids in Durbanville, and seeing as this is something that we did back when we were kids, there is no reason not to continue the tradition with my own brood – even if I don’t exactly live in the area any more.

Although an inviting and scenic space, there is in fact no swimming or boating allowed in this small body of water, and in response to an outbreak of avian botulism in 2005, no fishing allowed either. (Although the bird flu has since been dealt with, the local council opted to maintain the fishing ban in order to protect the local birdlife, many of which use the dam for breeding purposes).

Another thing worth pointing out is that for a long time the dam area went into a real state of disrepair and neglect, thanks in large part to the inconsiderate nature of visitors who littered with abandon and in general just disrespected the facilities. Thankfully though this problem seems to have mostly been dealt with and the dam area certainly appears to be undergoing a productive period of rehabilitation.

Anyway, I’m kind of getting distracted now. Last year August I found myself in the area, and so invited my folks (who live reasonably nearby) to join us for a walk around the dam. It was, as always, a pretty pleasant affair.

Even if we didn’t actually feed any ducks for a change.

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Oh, and after our stroll we grabbed a coffee and some cake from the Deeghuys Taste Kitchen, a neat little eatery/test kitchen for Deeghuys that is tucked away off main road Durbanville. It was rather nice as well.

Related Link: Durbanville

Water Level of the Berg River Dam in Franschhoek (2017-08-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 OCT 2017

Every time that we enter Franschhoek via Stellenbosch, a large mound/structure off in the distance on the right hand side catches my eye, I mutter to Chantelle, “I wonder what that is?”, and then continue to drive on into main road of this wine-soaked, tourist friendly little town and straight away forget all about it.

Which is silly really, because if I had just opened up Google and looked at a map then I would very much have known that what I’m seeing is a dam wall.

For its water needs, Cape Town relies heavily on the Western Cape Water Supply System, which is basically a big inter-linked network of six dams, their associated pipelines, tunnels and distribution networks – with the six dams in question being the Theewaterskloof Dam, Wemmershoek Dam, Steenbras Dams, Voëlvlei Dam and finally the Berg River Dam (i.e. the one that was right in front of me the whole time!).

As you can see from the photo above, the reason that the Berg River Dam isn’t all that apparent from the road (basically the reason I’m using to excuse my ignorance of the dam in the first place) is because of the clever decision to plant indigenous flora on the downstream face of the dam wall – the express purpose  being to try and get the dam and associated structures to blend in with the surrounding landscape and thus be a little more environmentally friendly.

As for the award winning dam build itself, well, from all accounts this was a very successful project (basically completed on time and within budget – something not often associated with government run projects of this scale).

With an exhaustive planning and consultation period that stretched from 1989 to 2002, construction began in 2004 and by July 2007 the dam started storing water – with it filling up a year later thanks to a particularly good spell of rainfall. The Berg River Dam was officially opened in 2009.

The dam itself is a concrete-faced rockfill dam (a type of embankment dam) which is 68 metres high and 929 metres long, with a gross storage capacity is 130 million cubic metres. The surface area of the reservoir is around 488 hectares.

That said, given our current drought conditions the current water level of the Berg River Dam isn’t quite where it normally would be…

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Unsurprisingly, the surrounding area itself is actually quite popular with local joggers, hikers and mountain bikers.

So, just in case that somehow, like me, you haven’t actually spotted it before, here’s a handy map:

Related Link: Berg River Dam | Wikipedia

The Drought-affected water level of Theewaterskloof Dam near Villiersdorp (2017-03-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 04 SEP 2017

Six months ago, on an impromptu Sunday afternoon drive, Chantelle and I passed by Theewaterskloof Dam and of course stopped to take photos of the very noticeably almost empty dam.

(In case you aren’t familiar with it, the Theewaterskloof Dam, established in 1978, is the largest dam in the Western Cape and forms a major component of the Western Cape Water Supply System.)

As the months passed and the drought worsened, things like saving the lawn were quickly forgotten, and instead Chantelle and I focused on using less water than normal, the end result being an average monthly use for our household of around 4-6 kilolitres.

What that translates into is less bathing for the girls, less showering for us, and using bathwater to refill the toilet cistern. Also, we don’t wash cars, or bother with anything in the garden either.

So not particularly pleasant or convenient, but certainly effective.

Our rainy season has now technically come and gone, and although there was at least some rain, it still wasn’t particularly much, meaning that this coming summer is going to be pretty scary for the City of Cape Town if its population can’t get it into their heads to do even more to save water.

One can only imagine what Theewaterskloof Dam will look like next March.

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Bonus: A lot of local drone enthusiasts and vloggers have of course been documenting this phenomenon. This particular video was put together by Adam Spires, and gives you a much better view (and bird’s eye view) of the dam as it more or less currently stands:

Here’s a map in case you feel like driving out to see for yourself.

Related Link: Theewaterskloof Dam | City of Cape Town: Water Restrictions

Rowing on Eikenhof Dam at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club (2017-03-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 31 JUL 2017

Located in the Kogelberg biosphere region and sitting right next to the tranquil waters of the Eikenhof Dam in Grabouw, the Elgin Grabouw Country Club, which was founded in 1987, serves as the area’s local recreational sporting and social hub.

Thanks to its proximity to the dam, watersports, rowing in particular, are particularly big here and a number of amateur and university rowing teams call this dam home.

In addition, the country club serves as home ground for the Elgin Cricket Club, never mind the fact that it also counts 3 tennis courts, two squash courts, a swimming pool, and a bowls green among its facilities!

The nearby Cape Pine’s pine forest plantations are home to some of the best mountain biking trails in Grabouw, and as you can imagine given its location in the Kogelberg biosphere region, the natural fynbos and mountains are home to many a hiking trail, making it popular with nature enthusiasts.

I had heard that the restaurant at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club is technically open to the public, and so having never been there before, one early Saturday morning in March, I bundled my girls into the car and went for a scenic drive over Sir Lowry’s Pass and on to Grabouw.

I enjoyed the drive, the girls less so. (It was hot).

Anyway, back to the dam. Established in 1977 (and raised in 1998), the Eikenhof Dam is an earth-fill type dam on the Palmiet River, its primary purpose being that of irrigation for the fertile land that makes up the fruit-producing Elgin Valley area.

Naturally, given the severe drought that the Western Cape currently finds itself experiencing, the dam was looking in need of quite the serious top up, but nevertheless, there was still enough water for some rowing to take place. (Which was of course quite fascinating for the girls).

However, my master plan of sitting down to eat some lunch with the girls at the club house promptly went up in smoke on discovery of one single “Beware of Snakes” signboard staked into the ground in front of the restaurant building, immediately freaking both girls out to such an extent that I begrudgingly had to heard them back into the car and make another plan.

Sigh, sometimes exploring with little girls is much harder than what it should be… ;)

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Nevertheless, I do look forward to return when the dam and its surrounds are back to their usual lush green state!

Related Link: Elgin Grabouw Country Club | Eikenhof Dam