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Set in beautiful surroundings on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, this magnificent 538-hectare garden features a rich diversity of indigenous South African plants. The lower portion of Kirstenbosch consists of large flowerbeds and expansive lawns while higher up the slopes, the cultivated garden gives way to natural forest and fynbos. At the main entrance, an impressive conservatory houses a wide variety of plants from other climatic regions of South Africa. There is a restaurant, an information desk and a great shop. Come summertime, the gardens host the annual, magical Sunset Concerts. The gardens also have their own Stone Cottage which can be hired for various events like lectures, meeting and such other events. The cottage can accommodate about 60 people and has a self-catering service. For further information, do call ahead.
The Arderne Gardens sprawl by the Main Road of Claremont in Cape Town, South Africa. It was founded in the mid-19th century by Ralph Arderne, a timber trader. His exotic collection included the magnificent Norfolk Island Pine. In the 1920s, the garden was rescued from certain doom by the Municipality’s Parks and Gardens division. It is famous for its Champion Trees; the largest in South Africa. The garden is also popular as a spot for wedding photography.
Two Oceans Aquarium is the largest aquarium in South Africa, housing more than 300 marine species in impressive and informative displays. Watch seals playing underwater or the calm swaying of kelp forests filled with fish. Certified divers can take a dip in the shark tank or kelp bed. An onsite shop sells souvenirs, books, and videos and the Bayfront Blue restaurant serves excellent food.
Enjoy an interesting visit to this productive ostrich show farm. Tours are available to familiarize visitors with the life cycle of the ostrich giving one a unique look at these majestic birds. One may be surprised at how big they are and the speed at which they can move, but don't get too close as their beaks hold a nasty bite. There is also a tea garden, and a curio shop with a rather macabre stock of ostrich leather products. Catering may be arranged by prior appointment.
Heading out of Stellenbosch on the R310, it would be easy to drive past the small community of Lyndoch en route to the N2 or Somerset West. Off the beaten path of tourist activities lays a wealth of knowledge at the Lyndoch Eco-Village, which is also home to the Sustainable Institute. The Sustainable Institute is an international learning and research facility. It is also home to the Masters program for Sustainable Development in connection with Stellenbosch University. The Eco Village and Institute are a living, working example of sustainability in a community context. Guests can visit and stay over at the lodge and tours can be arranged to see the sustainable functions of the community. Upon arrangement, guests can also join in the fun with experiential learning or eating an organically-produced, local meal. While there, be sure to support the new agreencafe and amazing little coffee shop. -Joel Bronkowski
Cheetah Outreach is an excellent program created to increase awareness about the plight of the fastest animal on land in the world. Offering education on cheetah in schools and providing resources for workshops are some of the objectives of this group. Tour the facility for cheetah and cub encounters and also to witness scheduled animal enrichment. Watch a cheetah run or walk and stroke a cub for an amazing and memorable experience.
The only zoo in the Western Cape is situated on the edge of the rolling hills of the Winelands area, about 39 kilometers from Cape Town. The zoo is located on 24 hectares and specializes in the breeding of rare, endangered and seldom seen wildlife of a variety of sizes. The collection of wildlife on show at the zoo comprises well over 200 species and around 1,500 specimens. A large collection of primates, the only free-ranging white storks in Africa, and one of the finest collections of tortoises in Africa are part of this encounter with the wild.
Monkey Town is the only place of its kind in Cape Town. Located in Somerset West along the N2 just next to Stellenbosch, Straand, and Gordon’s Bay is Monkey Town. With over 230 individual primates and 27 species, this place is worth a stop. With monkeys from all over Africa, Asia and South America, one can really experience a unique variety of monkeys. Monkey Town is open Mondays to Saturdays and bookings do not need to be made in advance. In addition to normal visits, Monkey Town is also available for private functions and events. This stunning park is sure to provide a fun and educational experience perfect for the whole family. -Joel Bronkowski