11 child-friendly attractions in Somerset West at Vergelegen.
Parents and children are struggling after a year of Covid-19, with many kids lacking the structure and stimulation they used to enjoy. Fortunately Vergelegen wine estate, which offers 18 fantastic gardens and over 300 years of history, provides an action-packed and enriching day out for the whole family. Here are 11 reasons to head out to Somerset West and visit this famous estate, a provincial heritage site that was voted the best wine estate in Africa in 2019.
1. Animal farm:
As you drive through the entrance gates, look out for scurrying squirrels, and in the pastures, the magnificent Nguni cattle herd and possibly rare bontebok.
2. East Garden:
Parents can relax on benches in shady arbours as children explore the adventure playground. It's got trickling water to paddle through, lots of climbing areas, swings and hand-carved wooden animals to clamber on. There's also a maze created from ornamental vines that attracts lots of little explorers.
3. Big Five:
Look out for five enormous camphor trees in front of the homestead, planted between 1700 and 1706 and proclaimed national monuments in 1942. If they're lucky, kids will spot owls perched in the branches.
Cross the Lourens River on a swing bridge to the site of a giant Outeniqua yellowwood, with huge spreading branches. It's estimated to be 150-400 years old.
5. Historic highlights:
Visit the restored homestead's interpretive centre with pictorial panels describing the various historical eras and significant visitors to the estate, from President Mandela to the Clintons.
6. Environmental experience:
Take the kids on a journey of discovery through the Vergelegen arboretum and biodiversity nature reserve filled with fynbos. Look out for Nguni cattle, bontebok and eland. This is a guided tour in a Vergelegen vehicle.
7. Ancient Oaks:
Vergelegen is home to a hollow Old English Oak, which looks like a storybook illustration. Several centuries old, it's believed to be the oldest living oak in Africa. For children who love queens and princesses, there's a royal oak grown from an acorn in the 1920s, which has delighted King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II and other royals.
Book-lovers will enjoy visiting a former winery, built in 1816, now home to a priceless collection of former estate owner Sir Lionel Phillips's books.
About 7500 trees are being planted to create a green sanctuary, including a 3,5 km walkway. Explore a variety of footpaths and walking trails.
If these activities have built up an appetite, choose from several food options:
10. Stables family restaurant:
This ever-popular bistro-style restaurant is open year-round. A delicious children's menu offers breakfast options like eggs and bacon or a ham and cheese toastie with sautéed potato, while the lunch selection includes macaroni cheese, pizza, chicken strips with chips or vegetables, and burgers.
11. Camphors restaurant at Vergelegen.
Gourmet-loving grandparents will be delighted to know that children are welcome too. Book a table at the outdoor veranda area and keep in mind that the chefs share their own family favourites in daily specials.
Vergelegen estate hours: Mon-Sun | 08h30-17h00 (last entry at 16h00).
Address: Lourensford Road, Somerset West.
Phone: 021 847 2100 / 021 847 2111 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stables: Mon-Sun 08H30-17H00 | Kitchen closes 15H30.
Email email@example.com Phone 021 847 2156
Picnics: Daily 12H15-13H30 for collection of picnic baskets (Nov-Apr) | closes 16H30.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 021 847 2131.
Camphors: Open Wed-Sun 12H00-14H30 | |Fri-Sat 18H30-20H30 Oct-May.
Reservations essential. Email email@example.com Phone 021 847 2131
Environmental tour: R120 pp. 10H00 - departing from the Wine Tasting Centre.
Approximately 1½ hrs, maximum 13 people. Tour is weather permitting, 021 847 2122.