Free family fun for the holidays

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country will be moving back to level 3 of lockdown, with a few changes. He has closed all the beaches in hotspots, of which Cape Town is one, and reminded everyone to remain cautious as the number of infections has risen dramatically.Of course, it is best to stay at home, but if you must go out for a bit, here are a few places that the family can enjoy for free but don’t forget your mask (or you may be fined) and sanitiser and keep a distance of at least 1.5bmetres between yourselves and others.

Stodels Animal Farm

Friendly ponies, alpacas and llamas approach the fence for feed at the Stodels Animal Farm in Bellville.

Stodels in Bellville has an animal farm. Entry to the farm is free but you can buy a bag of fresh greens to feed the animals for R10.

The farm boasts a variety of animals and is surrounded by picnic tables, parks and restaurants.

Leah May plays in one of the parks at the Stodels Animal Farm.

The farm is open during the nursery’s opening hours and while no additional restrictions have been put in place, don’t forget your mask and sanitiser.

Company’s Garden

Leah and Joleigh May feed the birds at the Company’s Garden.

The Company’s Garden, in the Cape Town CBD, is another venue where children can feed animals. The pigeons, ducks and squirrels won’t be behind fences here but the birds at the aviary will be.

The gardens are steeped in history and can also be a good outdoor learning experience for older children.

Green Point Park

This park is the ideal picnic venue, with lots of space to run, skate or cycle, a gated playground and a bricked path along the water.

The park is open from 6am to 6pm daily and visitors need to be cautious about social distancing because it can attract a lot of visitors.

Oude Molen Eco Village

Situated in Pinelands, this little village has amenities for children that is open throughout the holidays, such as the horse and pony rides, a swimming pool and braai area and a children’s play area.

On the first Saturday of every month, there’s a food and craft market and on the last Sunday of a month, there’s live jazz in the garden.


Hike along Signal Hill to see the Noon Day Gun being fired.

Most hiking trails are free and there are many that are simple enough for children to take part in.

The Pipe Track, from Kloof Nek, is one such trail. The easy, 6km track has some rocky moments and a few stone stairs.

This trail is one of Table Mountain’s oldest. It was constructed in 1887 to lay pipelines. Nowadays it carries water from the mountain’s reservoirs to the city.

Featuring beautiful views, the route takes you along the Atlantic coast and looks over Camps Bay, Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean.

Or on the other side of the mountain, park at Constantia Nek and follow a jeep track where there is the chance of seeing baboons.

Other simple hikes include Newlands or Cecilia forests, around Lion’s Head or along Signal Hill to see the Noon Day Gun being fired.

Take a hike around Lion’s Head.

Or pack a picnic and bathing costume for the Silvermine River Walk, which finishes at the dam.

Tips for hiking with children

Here are a few simple tips to make the hike more interesting for the child and relaxing for the parents:

⋇Have a goal – a cave, pool, waterfall, scramble or rock formation (the Camel, Saucy Dog, Tranquillity Cracks).

⋇Take along lots of interesting “goodies” to eat and dangle them like carrots – “when we get to the top of that peak we’ll have a chocolate bar”.

⋇Take along other children; they often compete between themselves.

⋇Show them interesting plants, spiders and insects – the Drosera species is a good plant, children like the idea that these plants ingest insects. Look at all the life going on inside a Protea. The funnel spider and “spiders wardrobe” are also of interest to children. A magnifying glass is a useful tool.

⋇Take along a good book full of interesting tidbits and stories – Van Hunk’s competition with Devil on Devil’s Peak.

⋇The length of the hike should suit the age and ability of the child.

⋇Be prepared to make compromises and adapt, patience is also a useful virtue.

⋇For older children it is important to give them a task, helping to find a route, watching a smaller child, taking the lead. If there is a large gap in age of the children, give the oldest a backpack to slow them down.