Here’s a great idea – why not combine two great Cape pleasures and indulge in some al fresco eating and wildlife spotting at the same time?
There’s an unlimited choice of beautiful spots for a picnic around the Mother City, but some are extra special for nature lovers, where you might spy anything from a dassie to a whale.
Here at Welgelegen, just say the word and we’ll prepare a delicious picnic basket for your outing, and even arrange transport if required. Our picnic pack includes cheese & crackers, fresh fruit, sandwiches, skewers and vegetable stick dips. Pack your hat, sunscreen and binoculars, and try one of these Picnic & Wildlife destinations.
Penguins, seals, great white sharks, dolphins and orcas, southern right whales and humpback whales – a lot of Cape wildlife is oceanic, but some can be spotted from land. The Atlantic coast beaches such as Llandudno and Oudekraal are lovely places to spread the picnic rug, but not so easy for seeing ocean wildlife. It’s better to find a headland with a view.
About 30 minutes drive from Welgelegen Boutique Guest House, Hout Bay Harbor is not a bad place choice. There’s a grassy area close to the parking area at Fish on the Rocks restaurant where you can spread a rug and dine next to the historic cannons. Afterwards, take the coastal hike around the Sentinel to Duiker Punt, from where you can see the seals on Duiker Island below, plus whatever marine life else is passing. Alternatively, jump on one of the boat tours to the island from Hout Bay Harbor, and the one-hour trip will get you close to the seals, weather permitting.
Also in Hout Bay, World of Birds is a venue where the name tells the story, with an incredible 400 species represented.
There is a snack bar inside the gate, but visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic and set it up at the Flamingo Terrace, which is close to the entrance. Birds get fed too of course, with penguins, pelicans, cormorants and birds of prey all getting their turn – check the website for times.
As for wildlife, yes, thousands of birds to see but also a few mammals as well as meerkats, squirrel monkeys and other furry friends.
World of Birds is about 30 minutes drive from Welgelegen Boutique Guest House and is open 9h00 – 17h00 every day of the year.
A summer picnic at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden is pretty much a Cape Town institution, and everyone should try it once at least. Through the summer months until April, Sunday concerts are incredibly popular, so pick a weekday if you’d like a more peaceful romantic picnic. The gardens are renowned as among the world’s most beautiful, and the layout provides plenty of good shady spots for a rug.
The tended gardens, forest and fynbos are also full of wildlife: plant-loving bees and butterflies, 125 species of bird, reptiles, insects, bats and other mammals. The browsing cape francolin, guinea fowl and Egyptian geese are impossible to miss, but also look out for the resident spotted eagle owls. In the wilder areas above the contour path, you might spot a Grysbok or even a genet or caracal.
Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens are just 25 minutes by car from Welgelegen Boutique Guest House and are open from 08h00 to 19h00 during summer months. There are free guided tours.
Where the Antelope Roam
Cape Town might be some distance from the country’s finest safari destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spot a good range of native game animals close by. Almost all the land from Welgelegen Boutique Guest House southwards to Cape Point is conserved for nature in the 220km2 Table Mountain National Park.
About 30 minutes from the guest house, Silvermine picnic site is nicely situated, and there’s a boardwalk around a reservoir which is a fine bird spotting route.
The further south you go, the more animals you will see, with the open grasslands home to ostrich, red hartebeest, eland, bontebok, grey rhebok and Cape mountain zebra. Dassies (rock hyrax) are easily found, as are the seals spread out on the rocks. Keep an eye out to sea for the tale-tale blow of one of the many whales that live around the peninsula. Also watch out for naughty baboons, who would happily share your picnic.
The sky here is the domain of raptors including Verreaux’s eagle, rock kestrels and peregrine falcons, while the coastal fringe is a perfect habitat for oyster-catchers, terns, cormorants and gulls.
In the southern part of the park, there are a number of places to park up for a picnic, and the pick of them is Buffels Bay, which is on the sheltered eastern side of the peninsula.
Escape the Crowds
Summer can be busy with visitors to Cape Point, so if you’d like something different, head for Betty’s Bay, about 1½ hours drive from Welgelegen Boutique Guest House, where the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens are perfect for a summer picnic. The gardens are surrounded by Cape Nature’s Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and have 10ha of cultivated fynbos garden and 190ha of wild natural fynbos, which has already recovered well from fire damage last summer.
There’s plenty of lawn and shady trees for your picnic and to walk it off there are lovely trails with views of mountain and coast. The fynbos is the preferred habitat for a range of endemic birds including sugarbirds, sunbirds, bulbuls, and robin-chats. If you hear bird alarm calls, it might be because of a boomslang (tree snake) raiding summer nests. A few minutes away, Stoney Point is a super place to see penguins close up, and less busy than the better-known Boulders Beach on the other side of False Bay.
Written by resident blogger: Hlengiwe Magagula
Feature Image: South African Tourism