Babes at Babylonstoren

With a baby, visiting wineries has changed slightly. Okay, dramatically. I can’t merrily skip off for a quick drink whenever I feel like it, and gone are the days of tasting wine in musty cellars or visiting “off the beaten track” locations. No, I now have to plan my outings vigorously, making sure that Rosie is not going to scream the place down, and that there are good changing facilities, and that it’s basically, child-friendly (and tired parent friendly). I think, with Babylonstoren, we picked the perfect spot.

With Summer holding on for dear life, we decided to capture the last few days of warmth with a little exploring; I’ve been to Babylonstoren before but mainly for wine launches, not to fully enjoy the gardens – it seemed like the perfect choice for an increasingly active Rosie and a husband who has a thing for greenery.

Babylonstoren is located on the Klapmuts/Simondium Road, torn between belonging in Franschhoek and/or Paarl (I think it sits happily in between). There is an entrance fee of R20pp on weekends and R10pp during the week and this goes towards the education of the local children. The estate happens to be one of the oldest cape Dutch Farms and every care has been taken to preserve the heritage and beauty of its history. Aside from the gardens, there are two restaurants, a spa, a stunning new wine tasting area and beautiful cottages. But lets focus on the garden.

The Babylonstoren garden is laid out over 3,5 hectares (8 acres) and is divided into 15 sections that comprise fruit, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns, a prickly pear maze, ducks and chickens, and more. A secluded path runs along the stream where thousands of clivias flower in spring.

It’s riveting. I’m one of those people that can happily wonder around gardens for hours (perhaps that is British thing) and Babylonstoren made my heart so happy with it enormous array of wildlife. We had Rosie in the pushchair and that was a little bit of a mission to push because its not a fancy 4×4 job – the terrain is uneven but mostly very flat. Here’s what we found…

The Cactus maze with its almost ready-to-eat prickly pears had Rosie intrigued and was the perfect backdrop for photos.

There is fruit galore. I can imagine that each season births something different and finding their berry section had me craving fruit crumbles. 

The indigenous garden was a beautiful contrast to the lush greenery. Broken shells underfoot sparkled in the sunshine.

These guys were everywhere and I looked like an absolute nutcase (get it) trying to point them out to a completely indifferent daughter. We even found a tortoise who walked faster than I do!

A rare photo of the wild Mr H with an even wilder little munchkin in his arms. She was greatly intrigued by what she could touch (the citrus fruits and the flowers) and when she is walking, I’m absolutely bringing her back again for an even better experience.

If you visit now, you’ll find the following in season:

Spinach, figs, aubergines, beans, blackberries, pineapple sage, pomegranates, basil, tomatillo, chilli and the orange prickly pear which is the most difficult to harvest but by far the most delicious.

There was so much to look at, to explore – for older kids (those that are walking) its such a stunning place to visit. For photographers, it’s a dream and for nature lovers, it’s paradise.

Donkeys, ducks and chickens are all to be spotted, the former being a really novel experience for Rosie. The weather isn’t turning yet, so do plan a trip.

For more information, visit www.babylonstoren.com


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