There's no greater joy than travelling and having a great time.
(In the same breath there's nothing worse than ending up at places that do NOT make one feel comfortable.)
t's our pleasure to show you what we've experienced to help you plan your next trip.
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I hope you'll find our reviews helpful, insightful and inspiring. Here's to seeing you on the road...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


MONKEY TOWN, in Somerset West, received a bad wrap in the Media this year with Carte Blanche’s television video interviews. The video footage was edited to portray animal cruelty and neglect of the primates at Monkey Town. Animal Rights Association (ARA) accused Monkey Town of cruelty and neglect to animals. The ARA requested the Cape of Good Hope SPCA to intervene and criminally charge Monkey Town in order that the monkeys and chimps at the Primate Centre could be removed to “better” conditions. ARA also requested Cape Nature to intervene and withdraw the necessary permits granted to Monkey Town. Finally, to add a bit of sensationalism to ARA’s mission pot, they arranged a grueling television interview by Carte Blanche and posted the footage on several internet sites. However, after a thorough investigation was conducted by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, they did not find that there were sufficient grounds to criminally charge Monkey Town. A volunteer from the UK, who was the Curator at Monkey Town at the time, found it necessary to create this huge debacle. Unfortunately, this was done at the expense of Monkey Town’s primary focus – the primates. One has to wonder what the objective of this Volunteer, who is apparently keen to come back to work at Monkey Town, was? Were the monkeys helped or harmed through this debacle?
Monkey Town received fewer visitors to the Primate Centre after Carte Blanche’s negative footage. The impact resulted in less funding to the Primate Centre. This increased the Primate Center’s financial burden. Rumors began to spread about Monkey Town’s closure. Thankfully, with the support of their Members and Friends of Monkey Town, they were able to financially recover from the damage caused by the one-sided “investigative journalism”. The Grobler family, owners of Monkey Town, has confirmed that they are not closing down.

A comment to Roseline Grobler, by Carte Blanche’s interviewer that her care of the primates “just isn’t good enough”, I found particularly interesting. I pondered on that statement for a while. I thought about Roseline’s routine with her monkeys, many of which have been in her care for twenty years. There are the abandoned or injured babies and adult monkeys and chimps which she nursed and fed bi-hourly, round the clock. Most of us were sound asleep while she was awake, bi-hourly, attending to their care. Then, of course, there is Garra, the black Spider Monkey, who arrived at Monkey Town and could not even climb a tree. Roseline spent two months climbing trees teaching Garra how to climb. I thought about Cebus, the alcoholic brown capuchin monkey. Roseline spent 6 months rehabilitating Cebus and nursing him back to health. I thought about the family sacrifices Roseline has made in her endeavour to care for these monkeys, which are like children to her, as Monkey Town is open 365 days.

I thought about the many monkeys which are donated to Monkey Town by frustrated pet owners who realize that monkeys actually don’t make good pets. These monkeys have become aggressive as they assert their dominance and are a danger to these pet owners if not cared for in a simulated natural environment. Roseline would rather take in these stray or cast away monkeys than have them put down. I thought about how Roseline has instilled her love and care for these monkeys in her children too. Colette and Rene, her son and daughter, have taken over many responsibilities from Roseline, together with Rene’s other half, Melissa. Their dedication and commitment to the primate centre is admirable. Colette and Rene have grown up with these monkeys and are as passionate about this extended part of their family as Roseline is. The monkeys at Monkey Town are in better care now, at the primate centre, than they were as frustrated pets in the Pet Trade or grossly abused and neglected victims of cruelty by previous owners.

I thought about that Cart Blanche interviewer and wondered whether she had the same capacity? If she did, what impact it would have on her personally and her business if some television interviewer told her that what she was doing “just isn’t good enough”.

I have been to Monkey Town on several occasions over the past 9 years with my family. Each time we have enjoyed our visit and found the cages to be clean, the monkeys well fed and cared for. Conservation is a tricky arena and simulating the perfect natural environment is virtually impossible and obviously there is always room for improvement. We all know that monkeys belong in the wild and that is best for them. When a family, such as Roseline, Colette and Rene Grobler, commit themselves to the huge task of caring for 250 monkeys one should applaud them. Applaud the dedicated staff and Keepers at Monkey Town for what they have accomplished. Give credit where credit is due. Twenty years of caring for primates including 9 years of owning and managing a primate centre deserves acknowledgement. Monkey Town is home to 250 monkeys, each with their own dietary requirements and species care.

A visit to Monkey Town in Somerset West should be on your To Do list. The Grobler family and staff of Monkey Town are warm and hospitable. The monkeys love having visitors and they are an absolute delight to interact with. Careful they don’t mess on your head! The chimps, Tammy, Ruby and Sunny will keep you entertained by their interaction with each other and curiosity in their surroundings. Luke and Charmaine the Spider monkeys, are sure to be part of the welcoming committee at the start of your Tour. We found our Guide, Thulani, to be knowledgeable on his subjects and very good with kids. Our girls also had a wonderful experience with the Lemurs and Squirrel monkeys in the Interaction Centre. Monkey Town is a fun family experience which you are sure to thoroughly enjoy.

To view Monkey Town’s response to all the allegations made against them, click on this link

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Trans Karoo Country Lodge

Having just trekked ALL the way from Kimberly on our way back to Cape Town through the Karoo we stopped in a quaint little town called Britstown. It's exactly halfway between JHB and Cape Town I'm told.

I'm not too sure why, maybe it has something to do with the fact that the whole world is visiting us, but this little town has recently had a little botox applied to its façade in the form of a paint-job and is looking quite sprightly. ;-)

Looking for the not-so-obvious, my wife says that she would really like a cup of tea and cake. "Do you think we'll find something like that here?" I stopped at a quaint looking café and asked the lovely lady behind the counter if she knew where I could find a tea garden that served tea and cake... she just laughed at me. Quite dishartened I returned to the SUV and told Amanda that it doesn't look like this town has such a luxury.

As we were riding out of town we spotted the Transkaroo Country Lodge and were more than surprised as to what we found inside.
Established in 1907 and bought by Adlene Potgieter and her  husband Rian in 1973 this quaint little oasis really is refreshing for the travel-weary.

We were able to order cappuccino and cake while the kids had tea and scones! And if you're wanting to stay over for the night it's going to cost you R530 per room for 2 people. They have a wine shop, food store and the restaurant can comfortably seat 77 people.

If you're passing through we'd definitely recommend stopping over there.
You can contact them on 053 672 0027 or

Have a look at their website here:

Karoo National Park Stop Over

“Let’s stay here for the night.” I quickly said while taking a sharp left at the Karoo National Park’s Large Signpost outside of their gate on the N1.
We were met enthusiastically by the gate guard who kindly showed us the rates for the cottages while taking our particulars down on his very official looking registry.

It was past 18:30 on the 25th of May by the time we spontaneously pulled into the Park’s entrance and the African Sun, true to the African spirit, had already retired to it’s resting place a while ago. In Africa even the sun knows that in winter one should rest a whole lot more. That said the gate stays open for visitors from 05h00 to 22h00. The park is open every day of the year.

I love arriving at lodges and other such places after sunset. It always lends an air of mystery to the place. “What will it be like in the morning?” “What will we see?”
A pair of Zebra crosses our headlights as we head on to the Camp site as do a heard of Red Hartebeest lazily taking in their last mouthfuls of sour Karoo grass before turning in for the night.

When we arrived at our bungalow we were pleasantly surprised. A double Bed with a double sleeper couch finished off a comfortably decorated room and kitchen with a toilet, shower and bath en-suit. 

After calming the kids down, popping them in the bath, and having a quick chicken roll prepped by Amanda, my wife, we sat outside under a liar’s moon with a knertsie of OB’s and my pipe absorbed by the intense silence that enveloped us, broken occasionally by the distant call of a Cape Mountain Zebra and the not-so-distant call of the local Bat-eared or Cape Fox.

The next morning was great!
We headed on down to the reception area where we where issued with our breakfast vouchers. Gavin and Patricia, who helped out at the reception, were warm and friendly with that all important touch of professionalism. Breakfast which is served from 07h00 to 10h00 was more than adequate as we were offered a choice of English, Cereal or Continental. (Dinner is served from 18h00 till late)

Having filled our bellies with an elephant’s sufficiency we headed on back out of the park slowly, stopping occasionally in the thick morning mist to spot a lone Springbok or a pair of Kudu and even a couple of Ostriches.

For those of you wanting more than a quick stop-over, the Park offers:
1) A Picnic site for day visitors with a swimming pool, braai and ablution facilities.
2) Interpretive Centre where you can learn more about the ecological and cultural history of the Great Karoo, dating back 5 billion years!!
3) The unique and fascinating Fossil Trail, which has an amazing collection of fossilized creatures is only a short walk from the chalets, and is accessible by wheelchair too, is also worth the visit we’re told.
 There are also guided game drives, including night drives, hiking and walking trails as well as a 4x4 trail that allows you to explore the majestic landscape of the Karoo up Pienaar’s Pass.

Reception is open from 07h00-19h00 daily. There is also a shop there open from 07h00-20h00 which sells basic commodities as well as curios with an African flair. The one drawback we did experience was that we wanted mayonnaise which they didn’t stock.
You can get newspapers, magazines and firewood there too.

All-in-all it was a very pleasant stop over leaving us wanting more.

For more info or to make a booking head on over to:

Where we've been