The new Babiana Trail and bird hide at Vondeling Wines is a breathtaking new addition to the growing range of ecotourism activities in the Cape Winelands. It allows visitors to view an array of birdlife in one of the most unique settings in the Western Cape.
Vondeling Wines is situated in the Cape Winelands, which also happens to be one of the Western Cape’s “diversity hotspots”: the magnificent Cape Floral Kingdom.
This means that the estate is perfectly situated to offer nature-based and eco-tourism activities such as bird watching, which is becoming an increasingly popular nature-based tourism activity around the world and is perfectly suited to this region.
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Voor-Paardeberg is a wine region with all the charm of an undiscovered country landscape, yet it is easily accessible, approximately 45 minutes drive from Cape Town.
Its vineyards run off the south-facing slopes of Paardeberg Mountain, and its wines have a vibrancy in an otherwise warm climate area due to the decomposed granite soil and afternoon south-westerly winds.
The Paardeberg Mountains are rich in indigenous fynbos. Babiana noctiflora, Erica hippuris, Oscularia paardebergenis and Serruria roxberghii are four endemic species unique to the area.
Vondeling is actively involved in preserving and protecting this natural heritage.
Vondeling is a WWF Conservation Champion and a proud member of Dr Bridget Johnsen’s Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative. It also started Cura, a fundraising initiative in collaboration with WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), and even published a coffee table book, Fire to Flower, which serves as a species identification field guide for the Paardeberg and surrounding areas.
South Africa is a world-renowned birdwatching destination, with over 850 species. The new Vondeling Wines Babiana Trail and bird hide allow visitors to see up to 30 different species of birds, including some that are only found in the Cape Floral Kingdom, such as the Cape sugarbird.
Named after the rare Babiana noctiflora flower found in the area, the Babiana Trail is a short walk that begins at the Vondeling Tasting Room and meanders through the almond orchards, past “Drie Bos”– three old olive trees by an ancient fountain – and past some flora and fauna that are worthy of focused scrutiny through the prism glass of a binocular lens.
With the beautiful Paardeberg Mountain serving as a backdrop, the Babiana Trail eventually leads visitors to the estate’s new bird hide, situated alongside a peaceful dam.
“We hope to influence visitors by reconnecting them with the natural world and thus reconnecting with themselves,” says Julian Johnsen, owner and general manager of Vondeling Wines.
He continues, “There is something incredibly healing and inspiring about engaging with the natural world that we seem to forget about when we’re caught up in life’s cobwebs! We’d like to offer visitors an escape, a sigh of relief, a miniature retreat to the wild nook that we’re lucky enough to call our home, the Voor-Pardeberg!”
“This initiative shows that commerce need not exclude or degrade nature. By creating a dam that we need for farming, we are also creating space for nature to flourish. A fact clearly illustrated by the rapid expansion in quantity and diversity of wildlife that the dam supports,” adds Matthew Copeland, winemaker of Vondeling Wines.
The new walking Babiana Trail and bird hide are the first ecotourism activities to be introduced at Vondeling Wines.
As a proud WWF Conservation Champion, Vondeling is passionate about promoting and preserving the farm’s diverse biodiversity.
The indigenous flora has attracted a plethora of birdlife, prompting Vondeling to curate this walking trail alongside the new bird hide in order to draw attention to, celebrate and share the area’s rich flora and fauna with the public.
Appropriately, the Cape sugarbird is the emblem for the 55 WWF Conservation Champions, like Vondeling Wines, who have stepped forward as custodians of the precious Cape Floral Kingdom.
After an informative 3-kilometre stroll you will arrive at the quaint Lambert Bird Hide overlooking the tranquil St. Clement’s Dam, which you will circle before returning to the tasting room, where some Vondeling refreshments and snacks will await you.
The purpose of the Babiana Trail and the bird hide is to connect people to the place that is Vondeling – it is more than just a product.
The Vondeling team feels very connected to the land, as it directly influences everything we do. We rely on it completely for our livelihoods. They would like to share this connection with its extended Vondeling family and celebrate the rich bird life that we’re lucky to have on our doorstep.
To experience this, please contact Vondeling Wines at 021 869 8595, [email protected], or visit their website at www.vondelingwines.co.za. Vondeling Wines recommends that all visitors wanting to visit the bird hide book online, as certain dates may be unavailable due to weddings on the farm.
The Babiana Walking Trail and Bird Hide Packages:
- Non-guided trail: R50
- Non-guided trail + wine tasting: R120
- Kiddies tasting: R65
- Cheese and charcuterie platter: R150 per person
- Location: Vondeling Wines | Voor-Paardeberg Road, Paarl, South Africa
- Wine tasting hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm
- Contact: 021 869 8595 | [email protected]
- Website: vondelingwines.co.za
Picture: Crave Concepts / Supplied