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Somerset West: the wild side!

January 24, 2011

Much of my art is inspired by wildlife and the natural world. Staying here in Somerset West offers many great opportunities for encounters with South Africa’s animals and birds.  From the unspoilt landscape of the Helderberg Nature Reserve to a night spent with lions at Drakenstein Lion Park, be sure to make the most of the chance to see some of our wonderful wildlife.

Helderberg Nature Reserve
The reserve is located on the slopes of the beautiful Helderberg Mountain overlooking Somerset West. There are picnic spots, a café, gift shop and information centre, and an indigenous plant centre. Around the picnic areas you will encounter friendly giant tortoises, guinea fowl and a herd of bonteboks including the two new babies which were born in December. Take a gentle stroll around the lake, where you will see geese, ducks and turtles, as well as sunbirds, sugar birds and weaver birds who nest in the reeds in the centre of the lake. Further up the mountainside there are several hiking trails on which you may encounter porcupines, mongooses, snakes and lizards amongst the fynbos.

To reach the Helderberg Nature Reserve: from Main Road in the centre of Somerset West take Lourensford Road, at the third traffic circle turn left into Hillcrest Road then turn right into Reservoir Road and left into Verster Road.

Monkey Town Primate Centre
Monkey Town is home to over 230 individual primates, with 27 different species in total. An unusual feature of the centre is that visitors view the animals from a caged walkway, whilst the primates roam free. This enclosed walkway allows the animals to be seen without any human intruding on their living space. Also on the site there is a monkey jungle fun park with rock swimming pool, trampoline and play park with braai venue, as well as a bush pub and restaurant.

Monkey Town Primate Centre is situated just outside Somerset West on the N2 after the R44 ramp heading away from Cape Town.

Helderberg Farm
Helderberg Farm has attractions for all the family. There are braai areas and picnic sites overlooking beautiful False Bay all the way to Table Mountain. There are hiking trails from which you can see fish eagles, blue cranes and many other species of birds. You might even be lucky enough to see a cape clawless otter or the tracks of a cape leopard. The farmyard nursery offers a range of plants and provides gardening advice. Alongside the tea garden is a children’s play area, where there are a variety of farm animals to meet.

Helderberg Farm is located on the Helderberg Road 1 km from the R44 just past Main Road in Somerset West.

Spier Wine Farm
Spier offers more than just good food and wine.   In addition to wine sales and tastings, and great food served at two different restaurant locations and in the picnic area, you can engage with the cheetahs at their outreach facility on the estate. At eagle encounters you have the opportunity to ‘hold’ tame birds, as well as participate in the daily flying display.

Getting to Spier: Take the R44 out of Somerset West heading towards Stellenbosch.  At the crossroads where the Mooiberge Farmstall is located turn left.  At the end of that road is the R310.  Turn right and Spier is a little further along the road on the right.

Drakenstein Lion Park
The Drakenstein Lion Park is a sanctuary for lions which have been captive-bred or hand-raised and which cannot be released into the wild.  You can view the lions, including two white lion cubs, living in their own habitat and even spend the night with them.

Drakenstein Lion Park is located on the R101 Old Paarl Road. Turn right onto the R101 off the R44 between Stellenbosch and the N1 junction.

Visit all or any of these attractions  for a rewarding and fun day out!  Then come back and tell us all about it at Penny Lane Lodge where we love to hear about your experiences.

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