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SwakopmundHoodiaNamtibFish RiverSpringbokBabylonstorenGoing Home

Friday 27th October

(The link above takes you to all the photos I took on the 27th October. There are a lot!)

We had a long uneventful drive from Springbok to Babylonstoren. We filled up at Springbok and at Malmesbury. We had lunch at a resort near Citrusdal. The scenery, especially for the first hundred kilometres from Springbok was beautiful. There is not a lot to say about the drive. It got more difficult the closer we got to Cape Town as the road got busier. The worst bit was a long stretch where there were road works. Slow driving and no passing.

But eventually we got to Babylonstoren. And it was such a relief! We gave our names at the entrance, we were expected and were told where to park. There was someone there to greet us, who escorted us to our cottage, explained all that we needed to know and made us feel very welcome. Our luggage was delivered by golf cart, and we were left to settle in.

The room we had looked like a superior farm workers cottage. It was part of a line of linked cottages.

Our room at Babylonstoren.
Our room – the one in the middle.

The room looks modest from the outside but inside is different. There is lots of space, the largest double bed I have ever slept in, a huge bathroom, a courtyard with a very comfortable hammock and a bookcase with books you might actually want to read.

Chris in our room
Me in our bathroom.
Our courtyard, with hammock and vines over the wall.

We were quite tired after our long drive so did not go far. Fortunately there is a lot to see and do at Babylonstoren. We signed up for the garden tour tomorrow and booked dinner in the Bakery restaurant who were having an Italian Evening – and that turned out rather nice!

Saturday 28th October

(The link above takes you to all the photos I took on the 28th October. There are a lot!)

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast, we were ready for our garden tour. While we waited for the group to gather the farm cockerels wandered around our feet.

Cockerel at Babylonstoren.

Our guide was a coloured guy called Kobus who took some delight in telling us that his full name was a good Afrikaans one. Some of the older people had interesting smiles on their faces.

He also told us the origin of the farm name. When Babylonstoren started in the seventeenth century (1692 to be exact) there were so many languages spoken that the owners were reminded of the Tower of Babel. And there is a tower! – the rocky hill at the end of the garden path. (I had thought it was a store or shop at Babylon.)

Babylonstoren with the garden path leading to its tower.
Part of the gardens – the metal structure will soon be covered in flowers.
The cactus garden.
Roses in the pofadder walk. (The walk through here is paved in a sort of mosaic depicting a pofadder (puff adder))
Looming over the estate is the Simonsberg.

One of the things which intrigued me were the fish ponds. They have lots of tilapia but what made me look was the raised bits which appear to defy physics.

Tilapia defying gravity; Simonsberg in the background.
The fish pond.

Also there is an ugly toad which sprays water at unexpected times.

The water spraying toad.

We ate at Babel, the main restaurant at the hotel, and had a very nice meal. Chris tried waterblommetjies soup and found it – interesting. Later we found the pond where the hotel grows it’s waterblommetjies (pondweed if you must).

The Babel restaurant.

Sunday 29th October

(The link above takes you to all the photos I took on the 29th October. There are a lot!)

The view from Ernie Els’s vineyard

Some time before we flew to southern Africa we had arranged a tour of the Cape Winelands with Cape Fine Wine Tours and John Lawrence, the owner of the company, arrived at Babylonstoren on Sunday morning to take us on a tour of several vineyards.

The first stop was Ernie Els’s vineyard which is in the hills south of Stellenbosch. Ernie Els was a golfer of some renown and used some of his winnings to purchase his vineyard and turn it into a tourist destination. And he makes some rather good wines.

Chris on the wine tasting terrace at Ernie Els’s estate, looking at the view.

There is a chipping green just below the terrace and, we were told, if you get a hole in one, you get a free bottle of wine. Christine did not get a free bottle.

Chris tries some chipping.

After some tasting and a tour of the immaculate wine making areas (they may be less immaculate when they are making the wine!) we set off for our second vineyard – the Waterford Estate.

John and Christine at the entrance to the Waterford Estate.

The Waterford Estate have their tastings in a lovely courtyard.

A nice place to taste the wine.
Another view of the courtyard

After tasting six wines we had a look at the barrels maturing even more wine and then set off for Stellenbosch and lunch.

Wine maturing at Waterford Estate.

The restaurant John took us to was The Wineglass where we had a glass or two of local wine and a light lunch. Then a view of the Moederkerk (Mother Church) and off to our third and final vineyard.

The kerk in Stellenbosch.

Our third vineyard was Plaisir Wine Estate. Once again we had wonderful views and good wines.

Simonsberg from Plaisir.
Plaisir and Simonsberg

By this time we were tired and full of wine so it was good to get back to Babylonstoren.

Monday 30th October

(The link above takes you to all the photos I took on the 30th October. There are a lot!)

This was the last day of our holiday and so our last day at Babylonstoren, which was rather sad. But we did have a good day at the estate. We started off by going on a farm tour.

Simonsberg from Babylonstoren

The first stop on the tour was the estate’s cycad collection. Apparently these plants are collectable and valuable; therefore they are microchipped to discourage thievery!

Part of the cycad collection. This part of the garden is still under development.
Another view of Simonsberg.
Where the waterblommetjies grow
Tree lined track.
Crossing the Little Lake. Note the birdwatchers hide on the right.

We checked out before noon, but our flight was in the evening – no problem! Reception looked after our bags while we had lunch in the Greenhouse, then went to the Spa where we had a lazy afternoon.

After which we drove to the airport, handed back the truck – 3,704km! – and checked in for our flight. The flight to London was two hours late taking off, I wish we did not have to spend the two hours on the plane. I thought the cabin crew would run out of fruit juice before we took off.

But we got home safely, if rather later than we would have liked, and looked back on one of the best holidays we have ever had.

IntroductionWindhoekOkonjimaOkaukejo 1OngumaOkaukejo 2Mowani
SwakopmundHoodiaNamtibFish RiverSpringbokBabylonstorenGoing Home