I am a big fan of taking day trips out into the country to explore a place I have never been before. I think of them as mini holidays! One place I had heard about and was dying to visit this past summer was Babylonstoren Farm, a 17th century fruit farm located between Paarl and Franschoek. I finally got my chance when a mid-week public holiday with no other plans appeared on the calendar and I took the opportunity for an outing!
Here are some of the photo’s of our wonderful day at the paradise that is Babylonstoren.
We started out early and got to the farm before 10 knowing that they only allow a limited number of people onto the farm at any one time. The entrance fee of R10 per person was paid and we headed off to find the donkeys – one of the highlights for little people. The area outside of the wine tasting room has a lovely typical Cape farm feeling and we enjoyed watching the ducks, turkeys and chickens too. After that we popped in to do a bit of wine tasting in. This area is very tastefully decorated while still retaining it’s rustic appeal. A theme which I believe is followed throughout the hotel and restaurants! I would love to be able to confirm this though (hint, hint!!). All the decor throughout the farm has been overseen by the current co-owner, Karen Roos, an ex-editor of Elle Decor magazine and the hotel has recently been named as one of Tatler’s Best Hotels in the World for 2012, so it’s definitely a very up-market, beautifully designed destination esp lovely for a honeymoon or special occasion!
The garden was the initial draw card for me as I had heard it was amazing and it didn’t let me down! What a wonderful place to roam and discover esp for my kids. They loved the paths and water features, insects and hidden tortoises! My son, 5, even had the good fortune to come across some of the staff picking fresh produce for the kitchen and was invited to help collect the aubergines – the highlight of the day for him was being allowed to choose which bright purple beauties to pick and cut them himself! He kept wanting to go back there long after the haul had headed off to be turned into something tasty!
Mid-way through our visit we headed down to the end of the garden for a sandwich at the lovely Victorian glass conservatory. A big party meant we couldn’t sit inside but we did enjoy admiring it from our outside table. The service was rather lacking which did put a bit of a dampener on our lunch esp with 2 tired, hungry kids in tow but the food made up for our long wait!
After lunch we took a stroll along the shaded river walk path and ended up at the chicken and duck enclosures (for organic eggs and snail control respectively!). Once again our timing was spot on and we joined Pieter as he went looking for eggs – another one of my sons favourite things to do! What a treat to be able to find the still warm eggs… We then caught a lift back up to the Babel restaurant on the back of the tractor but not before tasting a gorgeous guava sun-ripened and straight from the tree, courtesy of Pieter. Finally after a day of fun in the sun we headed home – but before planning a return visit as soon as possible!
Babylonstoren Farm really does have something to offer everyone – if you are looking for a new destination for a gourmet lunch, a hotel with beautifully designed rooms for romantic accommodation in the Cape Winelands, a fun, educational outing for the kids to see a working farm in action and learn about how food is grown or a new wine tasting venue this is the place!
Tel: + 27 (0) 21 863 3852
From Cape Town take the N1 towards Paarl. Take Exit 47 – Klapmuts, Stellenbosch R44 off-ramp. At the Stop street turn right (underneath the N1 towards Stellenbosch). Go over the next 4-way stop and over the bridge. Take the next left on Franschhoek (R45). About 6km down that road on your right you’ll see Babylonstoren.
The garden is open Wednesday to Sunday from 09h00 to 17h00. The garden is available to hotel guests every day of the week. Regrettably no reservations for non-guided garden visits – available on a first-come first-serve basis. Information at the farm gate will be offered as to when access to the garden is next available should the garden visits have reached their limit. Guided visits of the garden are available on pre-booked basis. 100% of gate fees goes to Babylonstoren Trust for education of the community
Babel Restaurant is open everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner for hotel guests and open to day visitors from Wednesday to Sunday from 10h00 to 16h00. Reservations are essential
images: Kathryn Rossiter