Loves and life on the Garden Route in South Africa

Through the eyes of volunteer coordinator and crazy cat lady, Sharon

Cape Town to Knysna: Best En Route Stop November 14, 2014

Hit the open road and head up the Western Cape’s famous Garden Route to the laid-back coastal town of Knysna. Beautiful beaches, picturesque lagoons and lakes, rolling hills and majestic mountains make up the glorious scenery of the Cape’s famous scenic coastal route, with a plethora of quaint towns along the way.

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Make the charming farming town of Grabouw your first stop as you pass through the spectacular scenery of the Elgin Valley. Offering uncluttered quietude, exquisite surroundings, cosy eateries, and expertly crafted wines, Grabouw is home to the famous ‘Appletiser’ apple orchards.

Move on to the picturesque town of Swellendam, which is not only the largest youngberry growing area in the world, but is also bursting with heritage, culture, architecture. Lying at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, Swellendam is the third oldest settlement in South Africa.The ancient indigenous forests of the Tsitsikamma line the coast from Wilderness to Knysna where you can enjoy adventure trails and hiking, bird-watching, canoeing on the rivers, sliding through the tree canopy or simply taking an easy walk through the forest to gasp at the size of a yellowwood tree over six hundred years old. Brave the heights of the Bloukrans Bridge and bungee-jump the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee at 216 metres.Elgin ValleyFollow the rugged coastline to the seaside town of Mossel Bay, which is exactly halfway between Cape Town and Knysna and an ideal place to stop and rest. Long, white sandy beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters make for a welcome break from driving. Alternatively, if you have a few days, take a boat trip to Seal Island, go horse riding along the beach or visit nearby Botlierskop, a private game reserve that gives visitors a taste of South Africa’s legendary game viewing experience. Mossel Bay is also where to visit to try one of the country’s biggest thrills: cage diving with great white sharks.

From Mossel Bay, the beauty of The Wilderness greets you next with a ribbon of dazzling white sand and blue surf-speckled ocean stretching away far into the distance. A true nature-lover’s paradise, broad beaches, well-marked hiking trails, and unique ecosystems of bird-filled forests, rivers, and lagoons make Wilderness the perfect place to lay your head for a few days and unwind.Fiona Ayerst WordPressThe last stop before reaching Knysna is the sleepy agricultural town of George. Nestled against the majestic Outeniqua Mountains, George is best known for its world-class golf courses, so treat yourself to a game on your way through.

Final stop: Knysna! South Africa’s favourite holiday town lazes on the shore of a shallow lagoon with breath-taking mountain and sea views and an array of things to do. Head to the Waterfront, which buzzes with restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and bars; take the ferry to the Featherbed Nature Reserve and stroll along its cliff-top paths, or walk one of the trails in the surrounding Knysna Forest.


For those who love the South African great outdoors… October 28, 2014

25 Of The Best South African Campsites To Pitch Your Tent This Summer

But the outdoors nature that is so intrinsic to average South African families kept us exploring more. Rallying around the “African TV” on a frosty July evening in the Berg, or flipping the Coleman’s to a kitchen table on a warm December at the coast, camping is a core part of our culture. It’s not like we even have to travel far from our comfort zones; the best campsites in South Africa can be found within mere hours of major cities; and swapping the suburbs for sleeping bags will, as always, be a way of life this summer.

Mahai River Campsite, Royal Natal National Park

Family friendly and clean, Mahai Campsite in the Royal Natal National Park section of the Drakensberg offers one of the best camping experiences in South Africa.

This big campground is set in one of the Drakensberg’s most beautiful valleys. The Mahai Campsite offers clean ablution and washing up facilities, as well as electric and non-electric campsites. From the Mahai Valley where the campsite is situated you can choose from a range of novice to advanced hikes, as well as fly fishing close to camp. The only thing you’ll ever need to worry about is remembering to zip your tent on the way out so wayward Chacma baboons can’t get in while you’re out hiking.

Mahai Campsite is best suited to families and couples.

Mahai Camp Bookings: Call 033 845 1000 / 1071/75 / 1001 or

Find it: Mahai Campsite on Google Maps

Tietiesbaai Beach Camp, West Coast

Tietiesbaai in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve up the West Coast offers the best of South African camping next to the sea.

The amusingly named bay on the west coast is a favourite when it comes to rough and ready camping next to the sea. With its distinct rugged West Coast edge, the campsite at Tietiesbaai provides a diverse range of campgrounds to suit the tastes of every outdoorsman, even if cold showers and no electricity are par for the course. Setup near the ablutions for campsite convenience or choose a spot away from the crowd and nestle among the rocks for private holiday bliss. There are 60 caravanning and tenting sites available (grass and ground); none of them have power points. The possibility of strong South-Easters calls for sturdy tents, and if it gets all too much, the delightful village of Paternoster is just 6km down the road.

Tietiesbaai Campsite is best suited to families.

Tietiesbaai Camping Bookings: Titietiesbaai only accept fax or snail mail bookings. So if you’re up to the task of excavating a fax machine or figuring out how to post a letter you can get them on 022 752 2015 (fax) or mail The Municipal Manager, Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Private Bag X 12, Vredenburg, 7380.

Find it: Tieitiesbaai on Google Maps

Fiddlers Creek Campsite, Orange River

Fiddlers Creek Campsite

The banks of the Orange River are as enviable a location as any to setup camp this summer, and Bushwhacked Adventures’ Fiddler Creek Campsite will surely not disappoint you and your friends. Nestled on the banks of the Orange River, Fiddlers Creek Campsite is a certain wilderness escape with some mod cons to enhance the outdoors experience. Each site is equipped with an undercover kitchen, washing up basins with running water, countertops, lights and power (220V) and a built in braai area. There’s a bar, pool table and volley ball court, and the Orange River Rafting excursions available at Bushwhacked, which range from half day to 5 day trips, come highly recommended.

Fiddlers Creek Campsite is best suited to friends.

Fiddlers Creek Bookings: Call 027 761 8953 or email

Find it: Fiddlers Creek Rest Camp on Google Maps

Bruintjieskraal Campsite, Baviaanskloof

Bruintjieskraal Campsite on the shores of the Grootrivier in the Baviaanskloof.

The perfect base from which to explore the spectacular Baviaanskloof Wilderness area, Bruintjieskraal Campsite boasts one of the most idyllic settings in which to roll out your tent. It’s located at Grootrivier Poort, the entrance to the area, and spreads out on the shores of the Grootrivier. There are 10 spacious campsites on the riverbanks and another four further afield, each with a flush toilet and separate shower and braai facilities. Hot water is available, but you need to bring fresh drinking water with you. The Bruintjieskraal Campsite is an excellent base for exploring your surroundings from on scenic walks, or swimming, fishing and game viewing.

Bruintjieskraal Campsite is best suited to families and couples.

Bruintjieskraal Campsite Bookings: Call 084 515 0993 or

Find it: Bruintjieskraal on Google Maps

Motswedi Luxury Campsite, Mokala National Park

Motswedi Luxury Campsite offers comfortable 'glamping' in the Mokala National Park.

Heaven for nature lovers and hikers, Mokala National Park offers “glamping” in a beautiful landscape in close proximity to wildlife. The luxurious Motswedi Campsite is home to just six camping spots, all of them are naturally fenced by camel thorn trees. Each campsite features its own ablution facilities complete with a solar powered geyser, kitchen area equipped with a two-plate gas burner, a gas fridge/freezer, outdoor braai and washing up area. There’s even a breakfast nook overlooking a waterhole where animals come to drink, which is just perfect for game viewing. Even with the comfort of the camp, there is no fuel, electricity point or shop here, so come prepared.  And if all else fails, the lodge has its own restaurant if you’re in desperate need of a bite to eat. A knee-high electric game fence keeps large animals at a safe distance.

Motswedi Luxury Campsite is best suited to higher budget campers.

Motswedi Luxury Campsite Bookings:  Call central reservations on 012 428 9111 or 082 233 9111 or email

Find it: Mokala National Park on Google Maps

Beaverlac Camping, Cederberg

Waterfalls and rock pools make for great summer camping at Beaverlac in the Cederberg.

This comfortable, pet-friendly campsite is a great choice for a fun weekend getaway from Cape Town. Cozy up in the foothills of the Olifants River Mountains just 2 hours from the Mother City – Beaverlac offers excellent hiking opportunities and a chance to breathe some fresh air in a picturesque natural setting. It’s a great place to enjoy mountain biking, hiking and exploring the wilds. There are two scenic mountain bike trails, one 14km long and another shorter, 10km trail for beginners. The famous 1-day Leopard hiking trail is well worth a try, with stops at spectacular rock pools and waterfalls en-route. There are also numerous caves to explore, offering great rock art sightings.

You don’t have to walk far to enjoy the area’s stunning rock pools – the closest is a five-minute walk from the camp and there’s another just 20 minutes from your tent. The campsite itself is rustic and peaceful with ablution facilities, some offering hot water, braai areas and a well-stocked shop.

Beaverlac Camping is best suited to friends.

Beaverlac Bookings: Call 022 931 2945 or email

Find it: Beaverlac on Google Maps

Buccaneers, Cintsa

Camping at Buccaneers Backpackers at Cintsa offers lots of activities such as horse riding on the beach.

A favourite amongst nomadic backpackers and outdoorsmen, Buccaneers is located on the spectacular Wild Coast on the eastern shores of South Africa. The campsite is hemmed in behind the giant sand dunes of Cintsa Beach, bordered by giant guava trees overlooking the lagoon from the west. The campsite at Buccaneers is equipped with one of the most awesome communal kitchen areas I’ve ever seen! Buccaneers also offer chalets, a restaurant and lively bar, swimming pool, canoes and booze cruises. Of course, the beach, renowned for its breathtaking setting, is a big draw card and it’s a stone’s throw away from where you camp. Guests here enjoy a variety of daily activities, most of which are free. In addition, you can learn to surf, take a horse trail, go mountain biking or visit a traditional Xhosa village. Buccaneers, Cintsa is ideal for a fun-filled camping holiday with friends, especially over the New Year period.

Buccaneers is best suited to friends.

Buccaneers Bookings: Call 043 734 3012 or email

Find it: Buccaneers on Google Maps

Tsendze Rustic Campsites, Northern Kruger National Park

Tsendze Rustic Campsite is a popular camp ground in the Kruger National Park.

Image by Roger & Letitia from There and Back

Located just 7km from Mopani Rest Camp in the famous Kruger National Park, this rustic camp boasts 30 camp sites set out in two circles, each surrounding excellent kitchen and ablution facilities. The facilities are basic; hot water, electricity and lights are provided via solar power and gas. This Tsendze Camp, one of the newest in the Park, has quickly become very popular for its superb setting and excellent bird and game life, including elephant, buffalo, zebra and various antelope. Lions and leopard have also been spotted here.  Campsites offer privacy – another plus – and the feeling of being in the midst of the wilds is what makes Tzendze so special.

Tsendze Rustic Campsites is suitable for anyone looking for camping accommodation in the Kruger Park.

Tsendze Camp Kruger Park Bookings: Call 013 735 6535 / 6

Find it: Tsendze Campsites on Google Maps

Stoney Ridge Campsite, Colenso

Stoney Ridge Campsite, KwaZulu Natal.

If you’re heading for the scenic Natal Midlands, this is the ideal campsite. Stoney Ridge is located amongst 6000 acres of unspoiled natural beauty on a private game farm offering superb game viewing and bird life, as well as 4X4 trails. The campsite is located in shady environs on the banks of the Bloukrans River and offers excellent ablution facilities. It’s popular with four by four enthusiasts, both for off-road training and for the excellent trails in the area. Campers can enjoy the facilities of the restaurant if they wish.

Stoney Ridge Campsite is best suited to families.

Stoney Ridge Bookings: Call 036 354 7012 / 073 697 5108 or

Find it: Stoney Ridge on Google Maps

Albert Falls, Pietermaritzburg

Albert Falls near Pietermaritzburg, KZN.

This family-oriented campsite is located just 24km from Pietermaritzburg in the 3000-hectare Albert Falls Dam and Game Reserve. Excellent bass fishing, and watersports on the dam are all part of the magic in this idyllic setting. The campsite offers camping for at least 20 tents and caravans, well-maintained ablution facilities with hot and cold water, electric lights and power points.

Albert Falls Campsite is best suited to families and friends.

Albert Falls Bookings: Call 033 569 1202 or email

Find it: Albert Falls Dam on Google Maps

Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, Tsitsikamma National Park

Camping in the Tsitsikamma National Park affords you magnificent views like this one at Storms River Mouth.

If you’re planning to visit one of the most breathtaking regions in South Africa, the Tsitsikamma National Park on the spectacular Garden Route is an ideal choice. Storms River Mouth Rest Camp offers an unbeatable setting stretching 5km towards the seashore in the eastern section of the Park, where dolphins frolic in the waves and the Southern Right Whale makes it presence known. Guests here have access to 80km of dramatic rugged coastline and every facility for a pleasant camping experience. There’s a communal ablution block, Laundromat, kitchen facilities, restaurant and store. But that’s not the reason you’re here. The birdlife is unbeatable and Otter’s and animals native to the region are waiting to be discovered on the shore and in the forest.

Storms River Mouth Rest Camp is best suited to couples, families and friends.

Storms River Mouth Rest Camp Bookings: Call 042 281 1607 or

Find it: Storms River Mouth Camp on Google Maps

Glen Reenen Rest Camp, Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Glen Reenen Rest Camp at the Golden Gate National Park.

The magnificent Golden Gate National Park is named after the exquisite shades of gold reflected by the sun on its famous sandstone cliffs. Nestled here is the popular Glen Reenen Rest Camp, offering the ideal base from which to explore the Park’s 11 600 hectares where a variety of wild animals roam free and exquisite birds have made their home. The campsite has a coveted spot in the Park, which is located in the breathtaking Maluti Mountains in the Northern Free State just 22km from Clarens. Its landmark is the famous Brandwag Overhang, a golden rock that stands sentry at the entrance.

Found in the trees on the banks of a stream, the campsite offers full ablution and braai facilities as well as power points at some of the sites. Hiking and mountain biking are common activities, but the exquisite setting is reason enough to come here and relax.

Glen Reenen Rest Camp is best suited to families and couples.

Glen Reenen Campsite Bookings: Call 058 255 0909 / 058 255 1000 or

Find it: Glen Reenen Camp on Google Maps

Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park, Bazley Beach

An aerial view of Mac Nicol's Caravan Park at Bazley Beach on the KZN South Coast.

From the moment you arrive at Mac Nicol’s on the South Coast of KZN everything is taken care of for you – surely this is how most camping trips should start? The staff helps you erect your tent while you enjoy a cup of tea and the sea air – relaxation is a natural progression of events. Located less than 100km from Durban on the magnificent KwaZulu-Natal coastline just 90m from beautiful Bazley Beach and the Ifafa Lagoon, the campsite offers every facility for the perfect holiday… spotless ablutions, laundry stations, entertainment, communal braais and lots of facilities for the kids. The chalets have a four star rating, but you can enjoy all the benefits even if you’re camping here.

Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park is best suited to families.

Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park Bookings: Call 039 977 8863 or

Find it: Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park on Google Maps

Soetwater Resort & Medusa Caravan Park, Kommetjie

Soetwater Resort is a seaside campsite on the Cape Peninsula.

This stunning little coastal resort between Kommetjie and Scarborough in the Cape is a very popular weekend retreat. With a rocky coastline offering a few sandy bays and two artificial tide pools, swimming is popular here and watching fishermen and crayfish divers return with their catch is another regular pastime. You can also take a walk to the top of Slangkop to see an abandoned radar station from the Second World War, visit the quaint fishing towns of Kalk Bay and Simonstown, or explore famous Cape Point. The resort itself is located in the southern part of the Cape Peninsula on Lighthouse Road, an undeveloped coastal terrace that is preserved for its biodiversity. There are a choice of campsites here including those with, and those without electricity.

Soetwater Resort & Medusa Caravan Park is best suited to families.

Medusa Caravan Park Bookings: Call 021 783 4146 or

Find it: Medusa Caravan Park on Google Maps

Secret Falls, Tulbagh

Secret Falls Campsite in Tulbagh, Western Cape.

Nestling in the foothills of the Groot Winterhoek Mountains amongst 150 hectares of spectacular countryside, this little campsite is only accessible via four by four vehicles. Located just 100km from Cape Town, Secret Falls offers room for just seven tents, but the site also offers a private swimming pool. This spectacular area is home to some excellent hiking trails and mountain biking is also popular here. This is camping in unmatched scenery for those who love the great outdoors and are happy to rough it.

Secret Falls Campsite is best suited to couples.

Secret Falls Tulbagh Bookings: Call 082 393 4704 or email

Find it: Secret Falls Tulbagh on Google Maps

Cobham Campsite, Southern Drakensberg

Enjoy rustic countryside camping in South Africa at the Cobham Campsite, Southern Drakensberg.

Image by Péter Béla Molnár from

Camping in the Southern Drakensberg doesn’t get much better than this! Cobham Campsite is located 11km from Himeville Village in the southern part of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, about 150km from Pietermaritzburg. The campsite is rustic and sites aren’t designated, so you can pick your own spot. There are various braai areas and the ablution blocks do offer hot water. The location is quite beautiful and offers great hiking, bird watching, fly fishing and swimming.

Cobham Campsite is best suited to families and couples.

Cobham Campsite Bookings: Call 033 702 0831

Find it: Cobham Campsite on Google Maps (approximate location)

22 Waterfalls, Porterville

The view from the Third Waterfall at 22 Waterfalls Camping near Porterville.

Set at the foot of the Olifants River Mountains 4km from Porterville in the Cederberg, the 22 Waterfalls Campsite offers an opportunity to get up close to game and birdlife. Named after the famous hiking trail which covers 22 Waterfalls along the way, the campsite here offers a rustic bush setting and a choice of sites with or without electricity. Campers can go game viewing in the nearby Cederberg Leopard Conservation area; enjoy superb bass fishing and mountain bike trails. There’s even an animal farm for the kids. The area is famous for its rock paintings in various caves and there’s a beautiful pool and waterfall close by.

22 Waterfalls Campsite is best suited to families.

22 Waterfalls Bookings: Call 022 931 2339 / 082 878 1358

Find it: 22 Waterfalls on Google Maps

Cape Vidal, KZN

Cape Vidal Camping by the coast in the north of KZN.

Camping in the exceptional wetland beauty of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park is a unique experience, and this little campsite, which offers just 8 sites, is the ideal location from which to experience the magic and beauty of the surroundings. Go snorkeling, swimming, fishing or bird watching, laze on the beach or enjoy whale and bird watching. This exquisite coastal retreat is located in a sheltered bay offering pristine beaches and your choice of adventure along hiking trails exploring the fascinating wetland area. View hippo, crocodile, elephants and buffalo, loggerhead and leatherback turtles, playful dolphins and elusive whales. The Cape Vidal campsite offers shady spots, ablution facilities and electricity plug points. It is located 37km from St Lucia.

Cape Vidal is best suited to families and friends.

Cape Vidal Bookings: Call 033 845 1000 / 1071/75 / 1001

Find it: Cape Vidal on Google Maps

Gariep Dam

Gariep Dam Campsite

The perfect stop over point halfway between Cape Town and Johannesburg is Gariep, just off the main highway 200km from Bloemfontein. Camping here is at Gariep Dam, the largest dam in the country. The dam borders a huge nature reserve of the same name where many buck species and zebra roam free. Whether you’re using this location as a stopover, or are planning to spend some time here, there’s plenty to do, including various watersports, fishing, sunset cruises and excellent game viewing by boat. The campsite offers 122 sites in all, 16 of which have their own ablution blocks. Other facilities include braai areas or you can enjoy the restaurant located here, as the resort also offers chalet and caravan accommodation.

Gariep Dam Campsite is best suited to families and friends.

Gariep Dam Camping Bookings: Call 012 423 5600

Find it: Gariep Dam on Google Maps

Vic Bay Campsite, Garden Route

Vic Bay Campsite is one of the most popular camping sites on South Africa's Garden Route.

Victoria Bay is an immaculate alcove located between George and Wilderness on the spectacular Garden Route. The tiny inlet, squeezed between high cliffs, offers beautiful sea views from the elevated grassy Vic Bay Campsite. Surfers love it here as do fishermen. The beach offers safe swimming and an excellent restaurant. There are 36 campsites, many of which have individual ablutions and all with tap water. The campsite also offers electricity.

Vic Bay Campsite is best suited to families, friends and couples.

Vic Bay Campsite Bookings: Call 044 889 0081 / 073 800 7096

Find it: Vic Bay Campsite on Google Maps

Warm Baths Camping, Gauteng

Warmbaths Camping

A total of 300 camping sites (15 luxury + 285 caravan sites) means Forever Warm Baths is well-equipped to handle the crowds that flock to this very popular location in the peak season. Guests are guaranteed a comfortable camping experience with every facility available to camp at ease. Warm Baths is a major tourist attraction, because of the mineral baths, and this luxury campsite makes visiting this region of Limpopo a pleasure. With excellent ablution facilities, the resort, which is very popular with families, is located close to Johannesburg and offers an exciting bush atmosphere. Over weekends and school holidays you have to stay for a minimum of two nights.

Warm Baths Campsite is best suited to families and friends.

Warm Baths Camping Bookings: Call 012 423 5600

Find it: Warm Baths Camping on Google Maps

Augrabies Falls Rest Camp

Camping at the Augrabies Falls National Park

If you want to camp inside the remote Augrabies Falls National Park, this is the only place available. No matter – it’s an excellent campsite that has found its rightful place amongst the regions iconic Quiver trees. It’s spacious and well-organised, and the ideal base from which to explore the Augrabies Falls National Park at leisure. There’s a restaurant here, a choice of three swimming pools, a central area with a fully stocked shop and a petrol station. A highlight of a visit here is the breathtaking views offered from viewpoints along wooden walkways in front of the camp. The 56-metre Augrabies Falls is quite impressive too, especially when the Orange River is in flood. The walking trails in the area are another big draw card.

Augrabies Falls Rest Camp is best suited to families and couples.

Augrabies Fall Rest Camp Bookings: Call 054 452 9205 / 9200 or

Find it: Augrabies Fall Camp on Google Maps

Spekboom Tented Rest Camp, Addo Elephant National Park

Spekboom Tented Rest Camp at the Addo Elephant National Park offers more luxury to campers than it does DIY tent pitching.

Image by Michael McCrae

Located in one of South Africa’s most famous national parks, Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, Spekboom Camp offers some glam camping in the bush. Tents are already set up so there’s no need to bring your own. In fact, they are more like cabins than tents; you’ll enjoy real beds on wooden floors, towels and cookware to make your stay more comfortable. In addition, the camp has its own watering hole, so you will see elephants, buffalo and warthogs up close when they come to drink. The camp is located in a fenced area inside the Spekboom Hide in the main game area of the park, around 27km from Matyholweni Gate and Camp, and 12km from Addo Rest Camp.

This tiny camp comprises just five fixed tents on decks with two beds, two chairs, a table, braai unit and solar-powered light per tent. Ablution facilities including communal showers, and toilets are within walking distance of the tents. Although there is a curfew at the camp and you cannot go on night game drives, you will still see various nocturnal animals come to drink at the camp’s waterhole and the stars are so clear in the sky they look as if you can reach out and touch them.

You can bring your own linen and cooking equipment with you, or hire cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils and bedding. Guests are provided with dishwashing liquid and a cloth but must bring their own firewood and torches.

Spekboom Campsite is best suited to couples.

Spekboom Tented Rest Camp Bookings: Call 042 233 8600 or

Find it: Spekboom Tented Camp on Google Maps (approximate location)

Berg River Resort, Paarl

Berg River Resort near Paarl offers fantastic family-style camping in the heart of the Cape Winelands.

Camping in the famous Winelands is not only scenic, it’s also loads of fun for the whole family. Berg River Resort is located in the midst of this spectacular area in the Paarl Valley, just 60km from Cape Town, between Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The resort offers a variety of accommodation options, including a campsite, and various facilities include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, children’s pool and waterslide as well as the river itself, where guests can enjoy swimming and canoeing.

The campsite offers 150 stands with grass for tents or caravans, most of which also have electrical outlets.  There’s a café for daily essentials, a play area where kids can enjoy ball games, an animal farmyard with goats and donkeys and free trampoline and tractor rides for the kids. The area is a joy to explore, with a number of museums, art galleries, restaurants and wine farms nearby as well as the Drakenstein Lion Park, Bien Donne Herb Farm and the Paarl Bird Sanctuary nearby.

Berg River Resort is best suited to families.

Berg River Resort Bookings: Call 021 863 1650 / 52 or email

Find it: Berg River Resort on Google Maps

Pitjane Fishing Camp, Borakalalo National Park

Pitjane Fishing Camp is at the Borakalalo National Park.

Located on the northern shores of the Klipvoor Dam in the Borakalalo National Park, this excellent campsite is shaded with Acacia trees and offers traditional reed-walled ablutions with flush toilets, showers and hot and cold water. Although it’s mainly used by avid fishermen, the rustic campsite is an ideal spot from which to explore the spectacular eco game and nature reserve. There are 20 campsites scattered throughout the grounds, each with its own braai area and running water. Visitors enjoy relaxing in the spectacular surrounds, fishing, birding, going on picnics and guided walks.

Pitjane Fishing Camp Bookings: Call 012 729 4101 / 2 or

Find it: Pitjane Fishing Camp on Google Maps


A taste of South Africa October 21, 2014

South Africa’s Rainbow Nation status goes way beyond our vast culture and heritage; it also applies to a succulent range of food and beverages that South Africans cannot get enough of and tourists have to try.

Pap, a South African staple, surrounded by chakalaka and corn on the cob. Image courtesy of yosoynuts

South African food is interesting and a bit strange to visitors, but trying some of these dishes should be part of your adventure. In honour of Heritage Month, I have put together this list of classic local dishes, and places where you can find them.

Ulusu/malamohodu (tripe)

Tripe is a Xhosa and Tswana delicacy made from sheep, goat or cow stomach and intestines. These are washed thoroughly and cooked in salt water until soft and tender.

A few years ago, the charm in cooking tripe was to keep the process as simple as possible, so no spices or vegetables were ever added to the dish. These days, however, it is usually served slightly spiced with pieces of vegetables added to it. Tripe is best enjoyed with steamed bread,pap (maize porridge), or samp and beans.

Where to try it: Marco’s African Place,15 Rose Lane, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Business hours: Saturday, Sunday, Monday and public holidays, 3pm till late; Thursday and Friday, 12pm till late. Closed on Christmas and Boxing Day

Lightly curried tripe. Image courtesy of Alpha


Pap is a very popular dish in South Africa. Made from ground maize, it is cooked in different ways and accompanied by side dishes such as boerewors (South African farmers’ sausage), stew or tripe.

Where to try it: Max’s Lifestyle, Mbe Road, Umlazi, Durban. Business hours: Monday to Thursday, 7am till 8pm; Friday to Sunday, 7am till 1am


There is just something delicious about meat cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot. Potjiekosconsists of meat and/or vegetables, slow-cooked in wine and stock until the meat is juicy and tender. Bread is sometimes used to mop up the juices.

Where to try it: Magic Moments, Jan van Riebeeck Ave, Oudtshoorn. Business hours: call + 27 (0)76 501 8685

Delicious potjiekos meal. Image courtesy of NevilleNel

Homemade ginger beer

Homemade ginger beer is a refreshing beverage made of a fusion of hot water, ground ginger, pineapple pieces, sugar, raisins and yeast. The ginger flavour teases your taste buds and satisfies your thirst.

Where to try it: Tam’JaZi Country Farm Stall, Fairlands Farm, Alexandria, Eastern Cape. Business hours: call + 27 (0)46 653 0914


Chakalaka is an all-South African dish made from onions, tomatoes, peppers and a lot of different spices. This dish has become a tradition in most South African homes and a must-have at any braai. Chakalaka can be enjoyed as a side dish with meat, boerewors, pap or bread.

Where to try it: Mzoli’s Place, Shop 3, NY 115, Gugulethu, Cape Town. Business hours: Monday to Sunday, 12pm till late

Mopane worms

This unusual Tswana delicacy makes for a filling and undeniably tasty meal. Mopane worms are picked, squeezed, cleaned and cooked in delicious sauces. They are also simply pan-fried until crisp.

Where to try it: Iyavaya restaurant, 42 Hunter Street, Yeoville, Johannesburg. Business hours: call + 27 (0)11 648 3500

Dried mopane worms. Image courtesy of NH53


This is probably the most popular homemade traditional beer among South Africans.Umqombothi takes time and a certain set of skills to brew, made from a mixture of water, maize, yeast and sorghum. Umqombothi makes for a refreshing drink for beer lovers.

Where to try it: Edible Gold Restaurant, 15 Bennett Street, Green Point, Cape Town. Business hours: call + 27 (0)21 421 46453


The best blog post EVER for those who want to explore South Africa October 15, 2014

101 Of The Best Destinations In South Africa

South Africans have a lot to be proud of. We are rated third in the world in supplying safe, drinkable tap water, and despite Eskom’s bad reputation, we enjoy some of the cheapest electricity in the world. More than these basic human necessities, our colourful nation draws visitors from near and far for its natural beauty, world cities, people and unique wildlife. The diversity South Africa offers is unparalleled to many other countries – you can be reclining on a beach in Cape Town in the morning and by the afternoon you could be jostling from side to side on a game viewing vehicle in the Kruger National Park.

In April, Stats SA noted a record number of visitors to our shores with nearly one million tourists visiting South Africa in December 2013 alone. Cape Town continues to capture the imagination of the global community with the city continuing to receive many accolades throughout 2014.

Each of the destinations you see below is numbered; however, don’t take this as a ranking or rating. There’s no bias here; this is simply 101 of the best destinations in South Africa.

101. Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg

Maboneng Precinct

Image by Pascal Parent from:

Located in the eastern part of Johannesburg’s former CBD, this brand new artsy area is one of several being created to uplift the industrialized city centre. The Maboneng Precinct is full of modern loft apartments, stunning shops, restaurants and entertainment areas, as well as offices, a hotel and a museum. Maboneng means “Place of Light” in Sotho, and it has become just that, a creative hub for artists and designers that includes a cultural entertainment centre called Arts on Main, where residents and visitors come to eat, play and shop. Its home to numerous art galleries, advertising agencies, shops and private studios, including one belonging to world-famous local artist William Kentridge. The newer development, Main Street Life, is houses the 12 Decades Johannesburg Art Hotel, featuring individually designed rooms, as well as an independent cinema, shops, apartments and a rooftop events venue.

Visit the Maboneng Precinct on facebook

100. Whale Watching, Hermanus

Hermanus Whale Watching

The Cape as a whole offers unparalleled opportunities for whale watching, but Hermanus is largely recognised as the official home of this recreation. It hosts the annual whale festival, and is coasted by the Whale Coast on either side.

Visit Southern Right Charters on facebook

99. Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn

Cango Caves

As popular as the ostriches are in nearby Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves is a 20-million year-old system of caves that cut deep into the limestone. Located just 30km from Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, the caves are considered one of the world’s great Natural Wonders. These vast hidden chambers make up Africa’s largest cave system and were inhabited all the way back in the Stone Age. They have been a popular South African tourist attraction since they were discovered in the 1800s as they boast some of the largest stalagmite formations in the world. Not all of the caverns are open to the public but those that are offer an amazing subterranean adventure through chambers and tunnels. One of the highlights of a visit to the Cango Caves is Cleopatra’s Needle, a 9m-high formation that is believed to be more than 150 000 years old!

Visit the Cango Caves on facebook

98. Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Image by Jonathan Gill from:

Named for the glittering golden shades of its sandstone cliffs, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is located about 120km from Bloemfontein in the Northern Free State. Nestled in the Maluti Mountains, the park is home to a variety of wildlife, including zebra, wildebeest and species of buck, and some extremely rare birds such as the bald ibis and the bearded vulture. Activities abound, and visitors enjoy nature trails, game viewing, horse riding, swimming, and environmental education courses here.

97. Oyster Box Hotel

Oyster Box Hotel

A favourite among visiting Royals, the high-brow surroundings of Umhlanga’s long-standing Oyster Box Hotel has been the envy of us mere mortals for decades. Despite the hotel’s plush surroundings and impeccable old school service, many guests agree that the one feature that keeps them coming back is the hotel catSkabenga.

Visit the Oyster Box Hotel on facebook

96. Ronnie’s Sex Shop

Karoo to Barrydale

Image by Tours and Tales from:

South Africa’s famous Klein Karoo sex shop is anything but; Ronnie’s Sex Shop is actually a popular pub and a regular stopover for locals, as well as bikers and visitors to the area. Located on Route 62, the shop which is named after its owner, began as a farm stall selling fresh produce to passersby. However, Ronnie complained of business being slow, so, in a booze fuelled prank, Ronnie’s friends amended the painted “Ronnie’s Shop” sign to Ronnie’s Sex Shop. Suddenly business was booming, and the rest, as they say, is history. The pub is one of the most popular in the Karoo and tourists from near and far stop to photograph themselves next to the sign after enjoying a pint or two.

Visit Ronnie’s Sex Shop on facebook

95. KZN Midlands Meander

Midlands Meander

KZN’s most recognizable meander offers various routes of discovery throughout the scenic Natal Midlands. Located just an hour’s drive from Durban, the Midlands Meander is an 80km stretch of thriving arts and crafts communities, and more than 160 places to eat, sleep, shop and be entertained. You’ll come into contact with all sorts of craftsmen, from those growing herbs or producing cheese and craft beer to weavers, potters, artists, leather workers, wood carvers and much more. Nearby Midmar Dam is a haven for water sports enthusiasts where sailing, boating, canoeing and windsurfing are particularly popular.

Visit the Midlands Meander on facebook

94. Cape Agulhas

Cape Agulhas

Situated at the southernmost tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, Cape Agulhas, with its signature red and white lighthouse, is a place of mystery and adventure. The legendary “Cape of Storms” with its treacherous coastline was the catalyst for many ships’ undoing. At the Agulhas National Park you can see archeological wonders, including the well-reserved shell middens, as well as fish-traps used by the Khoi people. You might even be lucky enough to spot the Southern Right Whale on this remote stretch of South Africa’s coast.

93. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

This is the first formal trans-border conservation area in Africa, launched in 2000 on the border between South Africa and Botswana. Located around 250km from Upington in the Northern Cape and 904km from Johannesburg, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the result of joining the Kalahari Gemsbok Park in South Africa with the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Today, the park has a combined protected area of 38 000 square kilometres. Of that area, 28 400km are situated in Botswana and 9600km in South Africa. It covers the southern Kalahari Desert, an arid, desolate environment uninhabited by humans, and offers superb rare and endangered species game viewing opportunities from a number of game lodges.

Join the SANParks – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park group on facebook

92. Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay

Image by Rian Saunders from:

Located 65km from Port Elizabeth, Jeffreys Bay is one of the five top surfing destinations on earth, and the primary reason for this is what is largely considered one of the most predictable and perfect right hand point breaks in the world inSupertubes. This high speed wave reaches anything from 1.2 to 3 metres in height and varies in length from 150m to 300m. The best waves occur in winter between May and mid-September.

91. Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Moses Mabhida Stadium West entrance

Image by Andrew Ashton from:

This modern stadium is well-known for hosting international sports and music concerts, but these days it’s become a popular tourist attraction in South Africa for other reasons. Now visitors can take a trip on the SkyCar to the top of the stadium’s arch, or enjoy a 500-step adventure walk to the arch for an unbeatable panoramic view of the city and the sea. The more adventurous can even take the Big Rush Big Swing, the only stadium swing in the world, which plunges off the 106m arch, and those who enjoy less active pursuits can explore the stadium on a tour, go shopping or enjoy a meal or a snack at one of the restaurants on the property.

Visit Moses Mabhida Stadium on facebook

90. Sutherland


Image by Michael Morris from:

It’s South Africa’s coldest town, however, many gloss over the fact that it’s also one of the clearest and darkest towns in the world thanks to its remote location and altitude. Obviously this makes it a sought after spot for stargazing, and it helps that the largest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere is located nearby.

89. Union Buildings, Pretoria

Union Buildings

Located in Tshwane, the Union Buildings are the official seat of South Africa’s national government. This semi-circular structure was designed by the famous architect Sir Herbert Baker and comprises three separate sections, an amphitheater with official offices on either side. Surrounded by lush gardens, the structure is considered an architectural masterpiece. Aside from its architectural significance, the Union Buildings are also considered a symbol of South Africa’s transition to democracy. This is where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first President of a free South Africa, and long before that, it was the site of a women’s protest against the country’s strict Apartheid pass laws on what is now a public holiday called Women’s Day.

88. Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Cape Town

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

A must-do activity on a trip to Cape Town is a journey to the top of the Mother City’s most iconic natural landmark – Table Mountain. Seeing the city and sea spread below you from 1085m above is a gasp-worthy sight like no other. Reaching the flat-topped summit is easy with the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway; the modern cableway accommodates 65 passengers in each of its 2 cars, and the interior floor rotates 360 degrees on its 5-10 minute ascent and descent. Travelling upwards and downwards at around 10m per second, cable car riders enjoy an unmatched view of the beautiful Mother City, and from the top, the panorama is legendary. Table Mountain is also a nature reserve, home to a variety of indigenous animals and plants, with various paths to explore.

Visit the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway on facebook

87. Sun City

Sun City

Just an hour and a half outside Johannesburg one finds the famous entertainment complex, Sun City, home to various hotels, a world class golf course and a seemingly never-ending variety of world class entertainment options. Locals and tourists flock here to enjoy the famous waterpark, the Valley of the Waves with its simulated beach and manmade waves, gamble at the Casino, enjoy Vegas style entertainment at the Sun City Superbowl and go game viewing to see elephants, rhino, lions and antelope in the nearby Pilanesberg National Park. The lavish Palace of the Lost City is a major draw card; this five star hotel offers every facility for a romantic African holiday, and there are various other accommodation offerings including the 4-star Sun City Hotel and the 3-star Cabanas. Alternatively, there are game lodges and camping establishments nearby, or one can visit Sun City for the day.

Visit Sun City on facebook

86. Riebeek Kasteel


Image by Werner Bayer from:

Nestled in the beautiful Riebeek Valley, this is one of South Africa’s oldest towns teeming with restaurants, coffee shops, creativity, and wine and olive culture. Stumble on bric-a-brac shops; spend time sorting through reams of treasures, then grab fresh coffee and a croissant at one of the homey bakeries in town. It’s only 80km from Cape Town (about 1 hours’ drive) so it’s easily accessible … you’ll only wish you’d discovered it earlier! Leave Cape Town on the N1, peel on to the N7 near Canal Walk, turn off at Malmesbury and take the R46; Riebeek Kasteel is about 20 minutes further down the road.

85. Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall

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The Hole in the Wall is a rocky archway on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast that was created millions of years ago by the relentless action of the waves crashing against the sandstone. The little holiday village of the same name overlooks this surreal rocky phenomenon that is located at the mouth of the Mpako River in Coffee Bay. Of course, Hole in the Wall has many legends attached to it, including a charming Xhosa tale about a young woman who fell in love with a mythical “sea person”; the hole formed in the rock face so the sea person could reach the woman.

Visit the Hole in the Wall Hotel & Holiday Village on facebook

84. God’s Window

Gods Window

You know it’s going to be a holy sight if it’s called “God’s Window”, and the views from various points here are quite extraordinary. On a clear day, you can literally see all the way to the Kruger Park and South Africa’s border with Mozambique. Close by, the sheerness of the cliffs as they plunge 700m downwards into the gorge below, the lush ravine, canyons and waterfalls are nothing short of spectacular. This dramatic setting forms part of the Lowveld’s 250km-long Panorama Route, which includes Lydenberg, White River, Sabie, Graskop, Hazyview and Hoedspruit. It’s also where you will find some of the country’s best game lodges, all offering a variety of activities, including superb game viewing, walking trails, horse riding and more.

83. Clarens, Free State


Nestling at the foot of the Maluti Mountains is the tranquil Free State village of Clarens, an artistic community rich with galleries and the creativity that has become synonymous with small town South Africa. Its close proximity to Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein (300km from each of these cities) makes Clarens a favourite weekend destination for urbanites. The area is scenically beautiful, and is a popular stopover for those en route to view wildlife in nearby Golden Gate National Park. There are also a number of prehistoric rock paintings in the area, as well as a Basotho Cultural Village, and excellent opportunities for fly fishing, hiking and abseiling.

82. Huey Helicopter Combat Missions, Cape Town

Huey Helicopter Cape Town

Image by Christopher Griner from:

Where men become boys again. Reenact airborne Vietnam missions as you hug the Cape coast on a real Huey helicopter in combat mode. If the deep ‘whopping’ hum of the blades overhead isn’t enough to get your heart racing then the aerial perspectives of Cape Town certainly will be. At R2700 per person for a 30 minute Combat Mission these aerial jaunts don’t come cheap, but if you’re looking to live out your army aspirations in real life then it doesn’t get much better than this!

Visit Huey Helicopter Combat Missions on facebook

81. Victoria Street Market, Durban

Victoria Street Market

Image by jit bag from:

This flea market is completely unique, a heady mix of Oriental spices and African magic. First opened in the 1980s to replace the original turn-of-the century market that was destroyed in a fire, the Vic, as the market is called locally, offers more than 170 stalls selling an eclectic combination of products indigenous to both India and South Africa. Visitors and locals flock here to purchase all sorts of treasures, from saris and spices to incense, African herbs, fresh produce and seafood, crafts and jewellery.

80. Tiffindell


Tiffindell Ski Resort is South Africa’s only ski and snowboarding resort. Located in the Eastern Cape, the resort is 2720m above sea level, and offers winter skiing each year by way of natural and man-made snow!  And those who don’t want to make awkward, pizza shaped movements on skis can come and enjoy a unique African snow experience, making snowmen, throwing snow balls or tobogganing.

Visit Tiffindell Ski Resort on facebook

79. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve


Only 2 hours from Cape Town and 30 minutes from Hermanus en route to the Garden Route, Grootbos showcases the remarkable flora and marine life found near the southern most parts of Africa. The 5-Star luxury accommodation here complements the spectacular forest views and whale watching to be had in Walker Bay.

Visit Grootbos Private Nature Reserve on facebook

78. Wave House, Durban


When the waves behind Durban’s piers are six foot plus and grinding, or when they’re one foot and sloppy, you can guarantee the Wave House at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga will be offering up ride after ride of pseudo surf perfection. The D-Rex (pictured) is the main event, and at 10-feet high it’s the largest manmade wave in the world and the ideal cross-trainer for surfers, snowboarders, skaters and wake boarders. The Wave House also features a 4000-square-metre skate park, as well as frequent concerts and events. There’s also a climbing rock, which, at 22.5 metres, is the highest in the world.

Visit the Wave House on facebook

77. Bill Harrop’s ‘Original’ Balloon Safaris

Bill Harrops Balloon Safaris

An hour-long hot air balloon ride in the magnificent Magalies River Valley is one of the most unforgettable experiences, something that Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris has been offering visitors for the past 33 years. From your unique vantage point above the treetops, glide above the magnificent Cradle of Humankind and Magaliesberg Mountain range. On landing, you will enjoy an excellent breakfast in the clubhouse. There is an excellent range of accommodation nearby, although Bill Harrop’s headquarters, at Skeerpoort Country Base, is just 45 minutes’ drive from Johannesburg.

Visit Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris on facebook

76. Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay

The picturesque fishing enclave on the ‘other side’ of the Peninsula is a longtime favourite for its coffee shops, antique shops, steep cobbled streets and the laidback vibe that floods the place to its core. For fine dining in Kalk Bay check out Polana; for something more fitting of the chilled ambience swig a few at the Brass Bell where you’re practically in the surf, or suss out Kalky’s for fish fresh off the boats which rock just a few feet away from the tables.

Visit the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay on facebook

75. Safari Ostrich Show Farm, Oudtshoorn

Ostrich Farm Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn is ostrich country, and a stop at the Safari Ostrich Show Farm 6km from town is highly recommended. The farm, which has been operating since 1956, offers insights into how these large birds are bred. Watch a unique ostrich race with colourfully dressed jockeys racing the birds up to 70km per hour. Here you can also ride an ostrich, take photographs of nests and eggs and feed the tame birds as well as cuddle their baby chicks. The store stocks numerous ostrich products, including leather handbags, eggs and feather boas.

Visit the Safari Ostrich Show Farm on facebook

74. The Big Hole, Kimberley

The Big Hole

It’s not the biggest hole in the city, but the 500m-wide Big Hole in Kimberley is its main attraction. This is where diamonds were first found on top of a flat-topped hill in 1871. Of course, the gaping hole that measures 215m deep was created through mining, which became a big industry for the city, with more than 13.6 million carats of diamonds being found by De Beers Diamond Mines in 1914. To see the famous Big Hole you need to visit Kimberley Mine Museum, which offers an excellent insight into the city’s sparkling history. View the Big Hole from a platform suspended above it, which was formed as diggers used their picks and shovels to find treasure during the diamond rush. The Underground Mine Experience offers a view of what a mine shaft looked like in the 19th Century, while the short film overviews the history of Kimberley’s diamonds. See various items on display and explore meticulously preserved old buildings, including a Church and a tavern.

Visit The Big Hole on facebook

73. Vredefort Dome

The largest meteorite impact site on earth is located in the Free State at Vredefort. It’s estimated to have been around 300km wide and is also the oldest impact crater in the world, so it comes as no surprise that this is another of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites. The crater was formed when a meteorite fell to Earth more than 4 billion years ago hitting our planet near Vredefort. This small, idyllic farming town located only 120km from Johannesburg is home to just 3000 residents. The area is a popular destination for horse riding, mountain biking, river rafting, archery and walking.

Visit Vredefort Dome on facebook

72. Robben Island

Robben Island

The infamous island prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years is a World Heritage Site. Located just 5.5km off the shores of Cape Town, the trip to Robben Island starts at the V&A Waterfront at the Nelson Mandela Gateway. The Robben Island Ferries depart on the hour, and each tour takes approximately three and a half hours. Previous political prisoners lead you around the island and offer a personal account into the 400-year history of Robben Island and its daily life. Visitors stop off at Mandela’s former cell, and explore the lime quarry where he and his fellow inmates were tasked with grueling hard labour.

71. The Three Rondavels

The Three Rondavels

Image by Chris Eason from:

These three giant mountain peaks that resemble traditional African huts are a sight to behold, and also the viewpoint for a dramatic panorama of the Blyde River Canyon below. Located at the start of the Canyon, the rondavels, which used to be called the Three Sisters, are just one of the exquisite highlights of a visit to Mpumalanga’s renowned Panorama Route. Towering 700m above the impressive valley, these three rocks offer a view over the Canyon all the way to the distant Drakensberg Mountains.

70. Howick Falls

Howick Falls

Image by Greg Horne from:

Located 24km from Pietermaritzburg en route to Durban within the lush, rolling KwaZulu-Natal Midlands you’ll find Howick Falls. The name means “The Place of the Tall One” in Zulu because of the great height (95m) from which the water travels to reach the Umgeni River below. Legend has it that the Falls are home to a mythical snake-like creature, but that’s not the only reason people come here. The scenic beauty from the top of the Falls is mesmerising, and there are numerous walking trails to enjoy. A walk from the top to the bottom of the Falls takes about an hour.

69. Hartbeespoort Dam

Hartbeespoort Dam

Nestled within the magnificent Magaliesberg Mountains just 45 minutes from Johannesburg and Pretoria is Hartbeespoort Dam – a welcome respite from busy city life for locals and visitors alike. The dam, which covers 1620 hectares, is a popular resort destination and offers a variety of outdoor and watersport activities. Aside from sailing, jet skiing, para-sailing and waterskiing, there are also scenic walks to enjoy, more challenging hikes, an aerial cableway and excellent bird watching, as well as sunset cruises. There’s also a wide selection of restaurants and accommodation on offer making it ideal for day trips and weekend breakaways.

Visit the Harties Cableway on facebook

68. Big Pineapple, Bathurst

Big Pineapple Bathurst

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Pineapple country around Bathurst has its very own landmark, the largest pineapple on earth. Located just outside the town on Summerhill Farm in the Eastern Cape, this 16.7m tall structure celebrates one of the region’s biggest natural exports – the pineapple, the only fruit to grow in the area, first planted here in 1865. The giant pineapple is actually a building, home to a souvenir store, a 60-seat auditorium, some fascinating displays and an observation deck.

Visit Bathurst on facebook

67. Rovos Rail

Rovos Rail

Largely considered the most luxurious passenger train in the world, the old world Rovos Rail carries passengers from Pretoria to Cape Town through the arid Karoo in sumptuous 1920s-style locomotive accommodation. There are also longer journeys available from Cape Town all the way to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The observation car at the back of the train offers unsurpassed views as the train clacks along. Carrying a maximum of 72 passengers in their 36 luxury wood-paneled suites, the trains are hauled by steam, electricity or diesel at various stages along the route. Established in 1989, this famous train company offers a superior level of service including fine dining, much like the famous Orient Express that travels through Europe. With room service available 24 hours a day and every luxury on tap, passengers enjoy an unforgettable adventure on board.

Visit Rovos Rail on facebook

66. Bay Harbour Market, Hout Bay

Bay Harbour Market

Beautiful Hout Bay, located just outside Cape Town, is home to a colourful weekend market, called Bay Harbour Market. Formed as an initiative and social upliftment project for the local community, the market is located in an old fish factory on the harbour front. It houses more than 100 stalls offering a variety of wares, from art, souvenirs and gifts to food and fashion. Live music enriches the Bay Harbour Market experience.

Visit Bay Harbour Market on facebook

65. Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve


Image by James Black

Matroosberg offers a variety of fun activities for the whole family, and is a popular weekend/day getaway during the winter and summer months. Offroaders will love the scenic 4×4 route that leads 2240 metres up Matroosberg Peak and offers magnificent views and rock formations, or another that travels along the river bed. Less nerve-wracking pursuits include farm tours (the reserve is located on the farm Erfdeel), bird watching, quad biking, snow boarding, fishing, abseiling, hiking and horse riding. In winter, you can even ski here on the private ski slope.

Visit Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve on facebook

64. Valley of Desolation, Graaff-Reinet

Valley of Desolation

Image by David Siu from:

The eerily named Valley of Desolation offers a variety of viewpoints and trails where the highlight is a sheer cliff face. Located amongst barren Karoo landscape in the Camdeboo National Park just 14km from the town of Graaff-Reinet, the Valley of Desolation is a series of vertical dolerite cliffs and columns that hang 12 metres above the valley below. This unusual sight took more than 100 million years to form and stands majestic and proud amongst scenic vegetation where more than 220 species of birds and 43 animal species roam free. There’s a circular hiking trail offering spectacular views of Graaff-Reinet and the Valley itself.

63. uShaka Marine World, Durban

uShaka Marine World

Located on Addington Beach at the southern end of Durban’s Golden Mile, this marine themed entertainment complex is the largest aquatic theme park in Africa. It offers all sorts of amusement, including a vast aquarium with indoor and outdoor displays, a range of restaurants and shops, and a variety of activities for families. A highlight here is Wet ‘n Wild, a fresh water wonderland with river rides, swimming pools, and super tubes aplenty.

Visit uShaka Marine World on facebook

62. Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

Constitution Hill

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Today, Constitution Hill is the seat of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, a symbol of freedom, but in days past, it housed the famous Old Fort Prison, which was built in the late 19th Century and symbolized exactly the opposite. Located in Braamfontein, close to the city’s university, the Old Fort was once a high security prison for Anglo Boer war prisoners. Later, Number Four, a prison for non-whites, and a women’s prison were added and The Old Fort became a politically-based prison where striking mineworkers and political dissidents were jailed. Both former President Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi served time there. Today Constitutional Hill is a symbol of freedom, and the court’s aim is to uphold human dignity and human rights.

Visit Constitution Hill on facebook

61. Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town

Kirstenbosch Gardens

More than a century old and still one of the most popular locations to visit in Cape Town, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a scenic natural paradise which is famous the world over for its natural beauty. As part of the garden’s centenary, a magnificent 130m-long treetop canopy boardwalk was installed in May 2014, weaving between the branches of the Garden’s famous Arboretum. Nicknamed the “Boomslang”, the walkway offers a unique vantage point up to 12m above the ground from which visitors savour the spectacular scenery in this magnificent 36-hectare Botanical Gardens. In the summer months, garden guests can enjoy outdoor musical concerts at sunset in what must be one of the most spectacular settings on earth.

60. Addo Elephant Park

Addo Elephant National Park

Stretching over 180 000 hectares in the Eastern Cape, Addo Elephant Park is the third largest game park in South Africa. Originally a park with just 11 elephants, the park has transformed into a major wildlife sanctuary and is now home to more than 600 elephants as well as a variety of other animals, including lion, buffalo, black rhino, leopard, zebra and more. It’s famous for the Big Seven, the Big Five wild animals plus the Great White Shark and the Southern Right Whale, as well as a huge population of penguins.

Join the SANParks – Addo Elephant National Park group on facebook

59. Freedom Park, Pretoria

Freedom Park

Located on 52 hectares on Salvokop Hill in Pretoria, Freedom Park is a permanent reminder to locals and visitors of South Africa’s turbulent past, and a symbol of the country’s heart and soul. It’s a place where people come to contemplate what happened before, and how far the country has come. This monument to liberty, humanity and South African heritage features a number of fascinating sights, including the Wall of Names that lists those who died during eight different conflicts in our history, an Eternal Flame and Isivavane, a symbolic burial place for those who died heroically. The Pan African Archives is home to research material about the country’s history and there’s a Gallery of Leaders that features displays of local and international leaders who have contributed to freedom and humanity.

Visit Freedom Park on facebook

58. Knysna Heads


Located on the magnificent Garden Route in the Western Cape, Knysna is a popular resort town, home to some of the area’s most breathtaking scenery, including the famous Knysna Heads. Knysna is built on a natural lagoon, and these two dramatic cliffs guard its entrance in the sea. The Western Head is home to a privately owned nature reserve called Featherbed which visitors can explore, while the Eastern Head offers an observation point with stunning views. One of the more popular trips to Knysna Heads is on a champagne and oyster cruise at sunset.

Join Visit Knysna on facebook

57. Augrabies Falls

Augrabies Falls

Known by the Khoisan people as “The Place of Noise”, Augrabies Falls is a deafening 56m waterfall located 120km from Upington in the Northern Cape. This scenic area is full of indigenous animals including various buck, while the iconic Quiver tree, from which the Khoi hunters used to make their quivers, is a treat to see. In May and June the wildflowers transform the landscape into a yellow splashed wonderland. The best vantage point to see the Falls and the entire park in the Orange River Gorge is from the top of Moon Rock but there’s an easier 2.5km route along which you can see the Gorge, as well as Arrow Point and the Twin Falls.

Join the SANParks – Augrabies Falls National Park group on facebook

56. Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Nature Reserve


Combined, the Umfolozi Game Reserve and its neighbour, the Hluhluwe Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, form the oldest and largest Big Five game reserve in South Africa. The reserve is home to a diversity of wildlife, including the famous Big Five and the rare White Rhino, which is currently under conservation here. The reserve offers a wide selection of lodges and camps from where you can enjoy game drives, walking trails and boat safaris on the Hluhluwe Dam. Established in 1895, this famous reserve is located in the heart of Zululand, where Zulu kings hunted and then set up conservation laws. The reserve is also renowned for its Game Capture unit, where animals are captured and secured for sustainable purposes.

55. Tsitsikamma Zipline Tours

Tsitsikamma Zipline Tours

For a unique adventure, why not go ziplining across the Kruis River? This exciting experience is available within the Tsitsikamma region, 8km from the Storms River Bridge. There are eight slides in all, the longest of which is 211m, and those brave enough can zip across the river gorge, up to 50m above the water. What’s more, you can control the speed of your trip across the gorge, so that you can stop en route to take in the spectacular scenery. Guides offer commentary about the area. If you prefer another type of adventure, there are also quad biking tours, wall climbing and abseiling.

Visit Canopy Tours South Africa on facebook

54. Clifton Beaches, Cape Town

Clifton Beach

Cape Town’s famous four secluded beaches at Clifton are also the location for some of the most expensive residential properties in Africa. These beautiful white sand beaches are separated by boulders and rocks, and only accessible via steep stairways from the road above. Although the water is cold, people enjoy its calmness, but that’s not the reason people flock here. This is the “it” place to visit, the most beautiful beaches in the Mother City, and securing a spot in the sand in December and January alongside the jet set can be a challenging task. Vendors stroll around offering drinks and refreshments so that you don’t have to move. Each of the four beaches (named First, Second, Third and Fourth) has its own special personality, so it’s best to sample each to find your favourite.

Visit Clifton Beach on facebook

53. Kruger Park

Kruger National Park

South Africa’s largest and most legendary game reserve, the Kruger National Park straddles the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the northeastern section of the country. The park, which on its own is larger than the State of Israel, recently became part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that includes Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and the Limpopo National Park.  Fences are being removed between the parks so that wildlife can roam free.  The Kruger Park is most famous for its Big Five encounters, as well as numerous other species of wildlife, an incredible selection of birdlife and some of the most exquisite trees in Africa, including baobabs, Marula, mopane and fever trees.

Join the SANParks – Kruger National Park group on facebook

52. Genadendal Mission Museum, Greyton

Genadendal Mission Station

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Located outside the town of Greyton, Genadendal has to be one of South Africa’s most fascinating museums. The Genadendal Mission Museum boasts displays of some of the first books, tools and everyday items brought to South Africa in the 18thand 19th Centuries by Moravian Missionaries. It’s hard to believe that this almost deserted spot was once the second-largest settlement in the Cape, next to Cape Town. Here, Afrikaans as a language was developed, and some of the first Afrikaans literature was printed. All the buildings on the town’s Church Square were declared national monuments in 1980 and are open to explore.

Visit the Genadendal Mission Museum on facebook

51. uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park

uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park

Located just two hours from Durban and four hours from Gauteng, South Africa’s highest mountain range, the Drakensberg, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2000. Stretching for some 150km, its home to various spectacular locations, including Cathedral Peak and Giant’s Castle, as well as a 5km wall of rock called the Amphitheatre. From its summit, at famous Mont-aux-Sources, the Tugela Falls plummets 1000m. Hiking, rock climbing and fly fishing are the most popular pastimes here, and the area is also home to a number of game parks. Some 30 000 San rock paintings found in more than 600 caves and overhangs tell the story of the indigenous San people, with scenes showing dancing, fighting, food gathering, rituals and hunting.

50. Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, Simonstown

Boulders Beach

One of the most beautiful beaches on the Cape Peninsula, Boulders, is located just outside of Cape Town in the naval town of Simonstown. Not only is the beach itself very scenic, but it’s also home to a breeding colony of more than 2000 endangered African penguins. In fact, Boulders and neighbouring Foxy Beach are part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, and one has to pay a fee to enter and share the sandy beaches and their various little coves with these tame birds. Take the wooden walkway to see the penguins’ nesting and breeding sites, and then enjoy the warmth of the sun, sea and sand on an unforgettable stretch of coast.

49. St Lucia Wetland Park

St Lucia

Extending northwards from Cape St Lucia to Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, this magnificent 332 000-hectare park was designated South Africa’s first World Heritage Site. Its name, iSimangaliso, means “miracle and wonder” and this is a perfect description, as St Lucia is made up of three main lake systems, eight different interlinking ecosystems, most of the country’s swamp forests and the largest estuarine system in Africa. This paradise setting is also home to 526 different species of birds, and coastal dunes that have withstood the elements for more than 25 000 years. A visit here will see you exploring endless beaches, hiking scenic trails and routes through mountains, coastal forests and the rolling grasslands around Lake St Lucia. Magnificent scuba diving and snorkeling in spectacular coral reefs will keep the water babies occupied, while horse riding, camping, kayak trips and game viewing to see the largest population of hippo in the country are great options too.

48. Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail

Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail

Here’s an opportunity to step back in time to the very beginning of our planets recorded history. The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, part of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, are on the list to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient geotrail stops off at various geological sites of interest along a designated route, each well-illustrated and with information that explains the significance of this Belt, which is more than three billion years old and is believed to be one of the most complete pictures of what the earth looked like billions of years ago. Travel the route and explore the world from the beginning of time, a 350-million year sequence of Archaean rocks, and ancient volcanic and sedimentary rocks that are still being researched today to discover the origins of life, how continents emerged and the earliest oceans came into being.

Visit the Barberton Geotrail on facebook

47. South African National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg

South African National Museum of Military History

Located next door to Johannesburg Zoo, the National Museum of Military History showcases various weapons used in some of South Africa’s most notorious historical conflicts. These include the Anglo Boer War, the Anglo-Zulu War, the First and Second World Wars and battles between South Africa and Namibia; then called South West Africa. Amongst the 44 000 items on display are weaponry, rare military aircraft, medals, journals, books and uniforms.

46. Two Oceans Aquarium

Two Oceans Aquarium

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With sea life from both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium has a lot to offer. Located at the popular V&A Waterfront, the aquarium is renowned for being one of the world’s finest. It is home to more than 30 000 sea creatures, including a variety of fish, sharks, seals, penguins and turtles. Aside from its superb displays, many of which are interactive, visitors with diving certificates can even scuba dive with predators. The aquarium is divided into different sections, including the Atlantic and Ocean Galleries, a Children’s Centre and a Predator Exhibit.

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45. Hazyview Elephant Sanctuary

Hazyview Elephant Sanctuary

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This exquisite sanctuary is a halfway house for young elephants, after which they are released into the wild. Located just 5km from Hazyview in Mpumalanga Province, the sanctuary offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend time with elephants, interacting with these gentle giants, feeding them, walking trunk-in-hand with them and getting to know them. There are elevated wooden walkways, viewing decks overlooking the water and of course the opportunity to learn all about the large mammals, their history and future in the African wilds.

44. Tswaing Crater

Tswaing Crater

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40km outside of Pretoria one finds the Tswaing Crater; an impact crater left by a meteorite that hit the earth more than 200 000 years ago. The name of the crater, which measures 100 metres high, 200 metres deep and 1km in diameter, translates to “Salt Pan”, in both Afrikaans and the local dialect, Setswana. The crater is filled with water which used to be mined for its high concentration of salt and soda ash. The remains of the factory, which closed in 1956, are located nearby. Also next to the crater is a museum and you can stroll around the perimeter and down to the lake. The area, which is full of indigenous plants and trees, is regarded as a birding paradise.

43. Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapmans Peak

One of the most thrilling routes on the Cape Peninsula is along Chapman’s Peak Drive between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, hugging the coastline with the azure sea on one side and sheer cliff face on the other. Climbing steadily from Hout Bay’s harbour upwards, the toll road follows the rugged coastline, curving 114 times and offering some of the most breathtaking views in the world. This 9km stretch is one of Cape Town’s most famous, and well travelled, and is also known as one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken. There are various vantage points along the route where drivers can stop and soak up the scenery. Sometimes whales and dolphins are to be seen, and troops of baboons are often viewed watching passersby.

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42. Shongweni Farmers & Craft Market

Shongweni Market

With more than 90 stalls to browse through, the Shongweni Farmer’s and Craft Market in the KwaZulu-Natal foothills is a joy to explore. Most of the stall holders offer either organic fresh produce or handmade souvenirs, and the variety of fresh foods and home-made dishes is endless. If you’re in the area at breakfast time, you can enjoy one of the hearty meals that the market is famous for, and then explore for hours, savouring tidbits and exquisite arts and crafts created by local craftsmen and women. Beer lovers can also enjoy handcrafted beers including some exotic fruit varieties.

Visit the Shongweni Farmer’s and Craft Market on facebook

41. Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon

Mpumalanga’s scenic Panorama Route is home to the famous Blyde River Canyon – the largest green canyon in the world, with a number of famous viewpoints along the route such as God’s Window, Wonder View and The Pinnacle offering some of the most breathtaking panoramic scenery in South Africa. The canyon, which stretches for 60km from Graskop all the way up the Abel Erasmus Pass, is the third largest canyon in the world. Now called the Motlatse River Canyon, it boasts a variation of plant and animal life including a number of rare species, many of which can be viewed on game drives in the Nature Reserve.

40. Babylonstoren, Paarl


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Modelled on the Mother City’s Company’s Garden, Babylonstoren is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the inner city greenbelt. Set on acres of land just outside Paarl, the massive working garden is like something out of a fairytale. Stay in one of the 13 cottages with their complimentary bottles of Shiraz and Chenin Blanc produced on the farm, or just pop in for the day to enjoy the immaculate grounds and the Glaskas – a conservatory where organic food and herbal teas straight from the garden are the order of the day.

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39. The Golden Mile, Durban Beachfront

Durban Beachfront

Durban Beachfront, also known as the Golden Mile, stretches all the way from uShaka Marine World at South Beach to Suncoast Casino in the North. The high-rise hotel and palm tree fringed promenade will remind you of Miami; however, a distinct African twist is evident in the sand sculptures that spring from the sand; the work of many talented sculptors who make their livelihood here.  The traditional Rickshaw ride has been a common activity since the early days, but what most people come to Durban for is to cycle, swim, surf, or just soak up the sun on its hot beaches. And with weather that is warm year-round, this is a very regular activity.

38. Spier, Stellenbosch


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One of the oldest wine farms in the country, Spier, which was built in the 17thCentury, is now a superb four star hotel and winery where some of South Africa’s most superb vintages are sipped in an idyllic setting. Housed in original Cape Dutch gabled buildings, the Wine Centre offers a range of wines from 175 estates in the Cape, including Spier’s own variety. Enjoy special tastings in the tasting room as well as superb food from Spier’s farm-to-table offering at Eight. There’s also a deli where one can purchase fresh produce; all you need for a picnic on the estate grounds.

Visit Spier Wine Farm on facebook

37. Vilakazi Street, Soweto

Mandela House Vilakazi Street

Soweto’s most famous street was once the home of two Nobel Prize laureates in Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The Archbishop still owns his house in Vilakazi Street, while Madiba’s house, at number 8115, has been converted into the Mandela Family Museum. The street is historically significant having been the site of a massive students uprising in 1976 where protestor Hector Pieterson was killed. There are also some famous restaurants here where visitors can sample traditional local dishes as well as the community TV station, Soweto TV, broadcast from a classroom at the local primary school.

36. Bourke’s Luck Potholes

Bourkes Luck Potholes

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Carved by nature into the bedrock, the Bourke’s Luck Potholes are a spectacular geological phenomenon in Mpumalanga Province. Over centuries, sand and rock carried by the rivers have eroded into these fascinating cylindrical pothole-like sculptures located at the start of the Blyde River Canyon where the Blyde and Treur Rivers join. Tom Bourke, after whom the potholes are named, was a luckless gold prospector who never found any gold, but he did find fame after all. There’s a 700m trail to the potholes as well as a choice of two 5km trails to the canyon itself – the Bushman Nature Trail and the Interpretive Trail.

35. Fancourt, George

Fancourt, George, South Africa.Nov 2006.

Tee off at Fancourt , one of Africa’s premier golfing destinations with a Links course that was ranked number one in the world by Golf Digest USA. As if its enviable Garden Route location wasn’t enough, the resort is superbly landscaped on 613 hectares of lush countryside set against the moody Outeniqua Mountains.

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34. Orange River

Orange River

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The lush area on the banks of the Orange River offers a unique stretch of natural beauty that is worth exploring, especially after a winter of heavy rains. The landscape transforms into a paradise of colourful flowers, and the opportunities for enjoying nature are endless. There are half-day river rafting trips on offer, from Upington to Oukamps. Many tourists come here to relish in the Orange River Wine Route, known as the Green Kalahari because of its lushness in the midst of the arid surrounds. Starting at Groblershoop on the N14, the vineyards stretch out for about 300km along the river, past Upington, Keimoes, Kakamas and Grootdrink. The area is famous for its white wines, a combination of dessert, semi-sweet wines and blends, which you can sample at the various wineries en route.

33. Sani Pass

Sani Pass

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One of South Africa’s most magnificent mountain passes, Sani Pass is known as the “Roof of Africa”, because the views of the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains as it climbs upwards are quite something. Also located right at the top of the Pass is the highest pub in the world, 2874m above sea level. The Pass is located in KwaZulu-Natal, close to the Lesotho border, so passports are required when travelling through. The trip to the top takes two hours from the berg town of Underberg. Sani Pass is popular with hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and 4×4 enthusiasts.

Visit the Sani Pass Hotel on facebook

32. Milnerton Market

Milnerton Market

Located near the sea on Marine Drive, this open-air weekend market outside Milnerton offers a magnificent view of Table Mountain and the harbour 8km away. Bargain hunters come here to pick up a variety of wares, from furniture and caravans to clothing and tents, but there are often valuable vintage finds for those with a keen eye. But it’s not just the goods on offer that make Milnerton Market such fun; there are a variety of tasty refreshments and foods on offer, including hot pancakes and fresh ginger beer. And it’s the fun of discovering a hidden treasure that makes a visit here so worthwhile. Open Friday, Saturday and public holidays.

31. Dullstroom


Just two hours from Johannesburg on the way to the famous Kruger National Park, one finds the charming settlement of Dullstroom. This region of Mpumalanga is well-loved for its sparkling rivers, lakes and streams and spectacular scenery, and Dullstroom is largely considered a trout fishing destination for two specific species of trout – Rainbow and Brown. The area is also home to three endangered species of cranes, numerous beautiful wild flowers and some rare animals, too. Aside from spending hours relaxing whilst fishing, there are numerous other countryside activities on offer, including horseback riding and bird watching.

30. Madikwe Game Reserve


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Despite being the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa, the 60 000-hectare Madikwe Reserve is one of the country’s lesser known reserves. It’s a hidden gem, a malaria-free zone that offers sightings of the Big Five as well as a choice of some of the most luxurious game lodges in the country. Once farmland, Madikwe was taken over by the government in 1994 and filled with game to uplift the region. Today it boasts more than 66 large species of animals and about 300 different bird species. Located about 90km from Zeerust, alongside the border with Botswana, the reserve is easily accessible, about three and a half hours’ drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria.

Visit Madikwe Game Reserve on facebook

29. Bloukrans Bridge Bungy


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For many adrenaline junkies, a highlight of visiting the spectacular Tsitsikamma Forest on the Garden Route is to bungee jump off the Bloukrans Bridge. The bridge, which is located 40km from Plettenberg Bay, is the highest single span arch bridge in the world and offers the highest commercially operated bungee jump on earth. Those brave enough walk along a gangway that is tucked under the bridge, before plunging 216m towards the valley below. Of course, the bungy technology ensures their safety, but if you prefer, walking tours of the bridge are also offered.

Visit Face Adrenalin (Bloukrans Bungy) on facebook

28. Nelson Mandela Museum

Nelson Mandela Museum

Opened in 2000, on the 10th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, this museum is also located at the statesman’s birthplace, Qunu, in the Eastern Cape. Madiba insisted that the museum serve to uplift and develop the surrounding community, instead of being just a tribute to him. The museum covers three separate locations – Bhunga, a building in Umtata which tells the story of Madiba’s life in the leader’s own words from his book, “The Long Walk to Freedom”, the open-air museum called Mvezo, where he was born, and the Nelson Mandela Heritage and Youth Centre in the village of Qunu, where he spent his childhood. Visitors enjoy guided tours and a heritage trail that follows in Mandela’s footsteps and also get to see some of the gifts given to him when he was President.

Visit the Nelson Mandela Museum on facebook

27. Long Street, Cape Town

Long Street Cape Town

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The centre of Cape Town’s nightlife action, Long Street is packed with pavement cafes, restaurants, vintage boutiques, bars and nightclubs. During the day it’s a hive of shopping and eating activity, and after dark the people party on the streets and the rooftops till the wee hours. In Long Street there’s always something new to explore and to savour, and if you’re looking to stay out all night, this is the place to go. The food stalls are excellent and you can sample a variety of cuisines, from Indian, Chinese and Kurdish delights to ostrich steak, best-ever burgers and Mozambican prawns. And the pubs are legendary, too. The Dubliner offers cigars and live jazz, or enjoy comedy and poetry at Zula Sound Bar. If you’d like to stay in the midst of the action, book a room at the Grand Daddy Hotel, a Long Street institution.

Visit Long Street Cape Town on facebook

26. Nottingham Road

Nottingham Road

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Located in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Nottingham Road is a little village nestling in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. The surroundings are lush and picturesque and the area forms part of the Midlands Meander, an arts and crafts route full of various galleries, restaurants, country taverns, holiday accommodation, cattle ranches and sheep farms. The town started out as a tented military camp in 1856 and today it’s home to the rustic Nottingham Road Brewing Company, a brewery that produces a variety of artisanal beers. These days, polo and mock fox hunts are big attractions, while trout fishing, horse riding and other country pursuits are very popular.

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25. Pilgrim’s Rest

Pilgrims Rest

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Step back in time as you explore the 19th Century gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest in Mpumalanga. This perfectly preserved little town tells the story of the Gold Rush and how miners and residents lived and played way back then. Hear of a time when a round of drinks was paid for with a gold nugget and where the surrounding hills were full of the sounds of digging as treasure hunters panned for gold. You can explore many of the buildings in the town, all meticulously restored to their former glory, such as the Edwardian-style Alanglade Museum, once home to the mine manager. Stores sell antiques, crafts and collectables and you can enjoy refreshments and baked goods prepared as they were more than a century ago.

24. Theewaterskloof Dam

Theewaterskloof Dam

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Along the road linking Franschhoek and Villiersdorp, about an hour and a half outside Cape Town, lies the Theewaterskloof Dam. This inland catchment, which is approximately 48 square kilometers in size, is part of a river project to provide water to the Cape by capturing surplus winter run-off. The dam is a popular spot for bass fishing, and there are seven campsites located on its eastern shore. Its Sports Club has grown in popularity, and offers a variety of watersports including power boating, jet skiing and dinghy sailing. The setting is idyllic, with rolling farmlands, beautiful mountains and a variety of flora and fauna.

23. Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town

Mount Nelson

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Big, sugary pink, iconic; standing front and centre in the Mother City with Table Mountain watching over it, the ‘Nellie’ has long been THE place to stay in Cape Town for statesmen, royalty and A-Listers. With a magnificent setting at the foot of Table Mountain, the hotel, which is surrounded by 9 acres of lush greenery, has been the accommodation of choice for the rich and famous for more than a century. Of course, it offers every luxury, including two swimming pools, two excellent restaurants, the stylish Planet Bar and plush accommodation. It’s also renowned for its lavish Afternoon Tea and a very sumptuous spa.

Visit The Mount Nelson on facebook

22. Cradle of Humankind

Cradle of Humankind

One of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, the Cradle of Humankind is the richest hominid site in the world, as 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils have been found here. The area, which covers 53 000 hectares, is also home to a number of birds, plants and animals, many of them rare and endangered species. The Cradle itself is a strip of 12 dolomitic limestone caves that are home to the fossilised remains of ancient animals, plants and more than 850 hominid fossils. Located mainly where Gauteng meets the North-West, sites like Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves offers a window into early life on the planet dating back five or six million years.

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21. Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City

Located 8km from Johannesburg, Gold Reef City has long been a popular entertainment destination on the Gauteng itinerary. The complex includes an amusement park themed on the Gold Rush which gave way to the Joburg we know today, a variety of chain restaurants and unique eateries, theatres, a casino and more than 30 thrilling rides. Guests can also visit an authentic gold mine and learn about Johannesburg’s beginnings as a mining town. Gold Reef City also has two hotels, one of which is Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel, designed to look like a gold mining town, with rooms and public areas resembling buildings of that period.

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20. Aliwal Shoal

Aliwal Shoal

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Just half an hour south of Durban lies one of the top 10 dive spots on earth in Aliwal Shoal. Located 5km off the coast near the little seaside town of Umkomaas on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, its home to some spectacular marine life. Shoals of the reasonably docile ragged tooth shark are found here between July and December (no divers have ever been attacked by this species), as well as an array of fish, turtles, dolphins and whales. The coral reef, which is a marine protected area, boasts a spectacular hole called The Cathedral, as well as various scenic spots along the 5km stretch and the wrecks of two ships.

Visit Aliwal Shoal Adventures on facebook

19. Otter Trail, Garden Route

Otter Trail

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Embark on a coastal trail of discovery along the famous Otter Trail, from Storms River Mouth through the spectacular Tsitsikamma Forest to Nature’s Valley in the breathtaking Garden Route National Park. This exciting 5-day adventure encompasses 42km of trails on cliff tops along the shoreline, and offers an exceptional diversity of scenery and experiences. Hikers cross rivers and explore fascinating sights en route, stopping off to camp overnight. The Otter Trail is an experience of a lifetime along one of the most beautiful trails in the world.

18. Steenberg Farm, Cape Town

Steenberg Farm

Located in the Cape’s oldest wine region, Steenberg is a gracious five star hotel renowned for its excellent winery and 18-hole championship golf course. Set in the pretty suburb of Constantia just 20 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD, the hotel, which was originally built in 1682, offers an unsurpassed experience that includes superb cuisine, a countryside atmosphere, personalised service and every modern facility. Aside from wine tasting and relaxing in the magnificent surrounds, guests also enjoy treatments at the spa, or a relaxing game of golf.

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17. Matjiesfontein


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Untouched by time, Matjiesfontein is a tiny Victorian town in the Little Karoo that has been designated a national monument. White-washed little houses line its main street, as well as a traditional Victorian hotel, the Lord Milner, which is believed to be haunted. The railway line is an integral part of the town, which was a popular luxury health resort in the late 19th Century. Restored to its former glory in 1970, Matjiesfontein is a well-kept secret worth discovering. Visitors can explore the little town on a red double decker bus and learn about its history, which is very much a part of the Cape’s fascinating past, and then enjoy refreshments in the wooden Laird’s Arms Bar.

Visit The Lord Milner Matjiesfontein on facebook

16. Sunlands Baobab Bar, Limpopo

Sunlands Baobab

This ancient giant baobab tree is believed to be around 6000 years old. Located in Limpopo Province near Tzaneen on a mango farm called Sunlands, home to many such trees, this baobab stands out from the crowd. After a baobab has reached the age of a thousand years, it becomes hollow inside. The Sunlands Baobab is not only immense, but its hollows have been filled with a world-renowned little bar, one of the most unusual places in the world to stop for a drink. The bar, which has been serving drinks since 1933, is an excellent base from which to explore the surroundings, including Magoebaskloof.

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15. Neighbourgoods Market, Braamfontein

Johannesburg Neighbourgoods Market

Based on the popular Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town, the Neighbourgoods Market is a market set up every Saturday in Juta Street in Braamfontein. This Johannesburg suburb on the edge of the city is in the process of being regenerated, and the market has proved itself to be a successful part of the project. Located in a two-storey heritage building, the Neighbourgoods Market boasts around 100 fabulous food stalls offering fresh specialty, organic and local fare, everything from burgers to paella, with artisan products thrown in too. The beer garden on the top floor spills out onto a verandah where people relax for hours. Various events are regularly held at the market, which has fast become an institution.

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14. Cheetah Experience, Bloemfontein

Cheetah Experience

The perfect opportunity to get up close to cheetah, the Cheetah Experience is a sanctuary for big cats set up for conservation purposes. Owner Riana van Vieuwenhuizen founded this non-profit 10-hectare sanctuary for cheetah, lion, leopards, tigers, jaguars and other animals in Bloemfontein in 2006 to ensure the animals’ long-term survival. People come from all over the world to visit, and many stay for between 3 weeks and 3 months as volunteers. Visitors enjoy game viewing in the sanctuary and learn all about cheetah and other endangered species.

Visit the Cheetah Experience on facebook

13. Johannesburg Botanical Gardens & Emmarentia Dam

Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

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Nestling in one of Johannesburg’s oldest suburbs 6km from the city centre one finds the 7.5 hectare Emmarentia Dam and the neighbouring Botanical Gardens. Both create an oasis amidst the hubbub of this vast city, and are visited by residents and tourists alike, especially on weekends. The Dam is a great spot for picnics, sailing and long walks, and the Gardens are quite spectacular and worth exploring. Divided into seven different sections, they include a Herb Garden, Hedge Garden, Chapel Garden, The Shakespeare Garden, a spectacular Rose Garden, the Succulent Garden and the Arboretum, which is full of beautiful trees.

12. Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal

KZN Battlefields

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If you are interested in learning about some of the bloodiest battles fought on South African soil between the British, the Dutch-born Boers and the Zulu nation, then head for the famous Battlefields Route in KwaZulu-Natal. Home to more than 82 battlefields, as well as museums, forts and memorials, this route takes visitors through a selection of wars in different periods. The best way to explore is by choosing a specific war or period and then following the relevant route to see the historic sights. The more famous battles include Isandlwana and Rourke’s Drift, and these routes, as well as the others, are best explored with an experienced guide.

Visit the KZN Battlefields Route on facebook

11. Baxter Theatre, Cape Town

Baxter Theatre

A Cape Town cultural landmark, the Baxter Theatre opened in 1977 on the University of Cape Town’s campus. The main theatre seats 666, and there’s also a concert hall with 683 seats and a small 162-seat theatre. The theatre provides a forum for theatre, dance and music in Cape Town and is renowned for its superb and varied performances, including classical music, opera, dance, dramatic theatre and comedy.

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10. Baviaanskloof


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Baviaanskloof means “Valley of Baboons” in Dutch, and this magnificent narrow valley is a World Heritage Site not only because of its scenic beauty, but also because it’s one of the few places on earth with evidence of human history going back a million years! The valley is a little less than 200km in length and nestles between two mountain ranges, the Baviaanskloof Mountains on one side, and the Kouga Mountains on the other. Here, a variety of wild animals and birds have made their home in a wilderness that is not only scenic but extremely tranquil and remote.

9. Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari Game Reserve

The award winning Shamwari Private Game Reserve is situated in the malaria free Eastern Cape, only an hour away from Port Elizabeth Airport. The reserve has been running for almost 20 years and offers a wide variety of animal life, including Big 5 encounters. Shamwari’s biggest concern is conserving a vanishing way of life, as such their primary objective is to protect the wild flora and fauna of Southern Africa and share her immense but fragile beauty with the rest of the world.

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8. West Coast National Park

West Coast National Park

Located slightly inland from Saldanha Bay and surrounding Langebaan Lagoon, the West Coast National Park is home to thousands of seabirds, magnificent stretches of golden beaches and spectacular salt marshes. Just one and a half hours by car from Cape Town, the Park is a bird watcher’s paradise, home to thousands of waders that gather in the salt marshes and the lagoon. The Park is also famous for its antelope that reside in the idyllic Postberg Reserve, which is only open to the public in the summer when the multi-coloured wildflowers are blooming. Animals and spectacular flora have made this paradise their home, and in the Atlantic Ocean, passing whales and dolphins appear in the waves.

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7. Valley of 1000 Hills

Valley Of 1000 Hills

One of scenic KwaZulu-Natal’s hidden gems, the Valley of 1000 Hills is a spectacular region that stretches from Botha’s Hill and follows the Umgeni River through Drummond, Assagay and Shongweni to the Indian Ocean with various hills and valleys to explore en route. Visitors to this region can gain an insight into age-old Zulu traditions and culture through various attractions and activities. The climate is tropical and warm, the scenery dramatic, and the diversity of landscape, from rolling hills to beautiful windswept beaches, is unmatched.

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6. Apartheid Museum

Apartheid Museum

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This fascinating museum educates people about the horrors of South Africa’s Apartheid regime through photographs, research, films and artifacts. It reenacts the life of people who lived in the townships at that time, constantly being watched by security police, how they rebelled, and were suppressed. Located south of Johannesburg’s CBD, it’s an important place to visit, to understand the suffering of the oppressed and how they triumphed over adversity.

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5. Route 62

Route 62

Stretching between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, and further up the East coast to Port Elizabeth, Route 62, also known as the Mountain Route, is a renowned tourist route through various spectacular mountain passes. It’s far more scenic than taking the national motorway to reach these destinations, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular. Along the route one finds exquisite lush green scenery, sparkling rivers, magnificent mountains and sheer cliffs. The route also covers the Western Cape’s longest wine route, offering the chance to stop off and sample superb wines as you travel along.

Visit Route 62 on facebook

4. The Big Tree, Tsitsikamma National Park

Tsitsikamma Big Tree

Image by FrauDeee from:

The magnificent fairytale Tsitsikamma Forest on the Garden Route is renowned for its exquisite yellowwood trees, which are protected under the country’s National Forests Act. The most famous tree of all is dubbed The Big Tree; at 37m it towers over all the rest, and has been standing here for around 800 years. Located in the forest near Plettenberg Bay and boasting a trunk circumference of 9m, the tree is the largest and oldest remaining yellowwood in the region.

Join the SANParks – Garden Route (Tsitsikamma, Knysna & Wilderness) National Park group on facebook

3. KwaMuhle Museum, Durban

KwaMuhle Museum

Durban’s KwaMuhle is a museum dedicated to telling the story of Apartheid and how the oppressed overcame harsh conditions. Housed in what used to be the punitive Native Affairs Building, the museum is one of Durban’s four major historical museums. Today it tells a thought-provoking story of those unjust years and how the new democratic South Africa has overcome its past. Emphasis is, of course, focused on Durban and the Zulu nation, but the strong South African message of freedom prevails.

2. Sedgefield


Image by Discover Sedgefield from:

No longer a sleepy seaside town or a hidden gem, Sedgefield is one of the most famous places to visit in the Garden Route, and for good reason. Located within the Garden Route National Park just 490km from Cape Town and between George and Knysna, this scenic little town has just been awarded “Slow Town” status, which means slowing down to nature’s pace. Visitors come here to enjoy spectacular scenery, exquisite beaches and a lazy summer holiday strolling through the village, enjoying the famous Wild Oats Farmer’s Market, and interacting with some of the friendliest people in the province in one of the most idyllic settings on earth.

Visit the Sedgefield Wild Oats Farmer’s Market on facebook

1. Cape Point

Cape Point

Image by Bas Leenders from:

Even though rumours are rife that this is where two oceans meet (that in fact happens at Cape Agulhas), the peninsula that comes to a head at Cape Point is an impressive sight on a tour of South Africa. It’s a wild stretch of coastline and must’ve been a nightmare for navigator’s in the early days; even so, Cape Point is a must see – the dramatic views will make you feel as if you’re standing at the definitive end of the world!

Visit Cape Point on facebook

When we set out to create a list of the best destinations in South Africa we never thought we’d reach 101. But as the research went on, we uncovered even more impressive South African sights that we simply couldn’t leave out.

What are your best destinations in South Africa? No doubt we’ve missed something close to your heart so let us know in the comments below or join us on theTravelstart South Africa Facebook page to discuss.


Oh I so want to go camping! September 30, 2014

Family Camping Checklist (and a few great tips!)

There’s no doubt about it, camping is hard work. Organizing gear, getting a reservation, preparing food for several days ahead, packing the car, and making sure there is enough to do to entertain the whole family—it can overwhelm. But it’s worth it! You’re guaranteed to make lasting family memories, enjoy lots of laughs with the family, and get plenty of outdoor time for the kids.

To help you get out under the stars, we’ve put together some tips for camping with the family and a checklist of what to take.

First, get a camping date on your calendar. Campgrounds can fill up quickly so plan ahead to get a spot. And try to leave early in the day on Friday (or head out during the work week) to avoid commuter traffic and have a better chance of setting up camp before it gets dark.

Invite friends. Camping with kids alone is great. But camping with another family or bringing your kids’ friends along helps keep everyone happy and occupied.

Prepare the gear. Use the camping checklist below to make sure you take what you need, but not much more. Check the tent, stove, matches/lighters, and lanterns beforehand for damage and working condition.

Prepare the food. The checklist doesn’t include food—you’ll have to create that yourself. Here’s a tip: Write down what you plan to eat for each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner.) Then prepare what you can at home—marinate the meats, cut the vegetables, wrap the potatoes in foil. You’ll be thankful once you get to camp.

When you pack the cooler, set out the foods meal by meal, thinking about how you’ll serve each meal so you don’t forget condiments and necessary utensils, can opener, etc.

Get five more tips for camping with kids. And visit REI for an even more extensive checklist for camping.

Family Camping Checklist

  • Tent, poles, stakes
  • Tent footprint (ground cover for under your tent)
  • Extra tarp or canopy
  • Sleeping bag for each camper
  • Sleeping pad for each camper
  • Repair kit for pads, mattress, tent, tarp
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets
  • Chairs
  • Headlamps or flashlights (extra batteries)
  • Lantern
  • Lantern fuel or batteries
  • Stove
  • Fuel for stove
  • Matches or lighter
  • Firewood
  • Frying pan
  • Pot
  • French press or portable coffee maker
  • Corkscrew
  • Tablecloth
  • Roasting sticks for marshmallows, hot dogs
  • Food-storage containers, bags
  • Trash bags
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Water bottles
  • Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
  • Cups, mugs
  • Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Foil
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
  • Paper towels
  • Extra bin for washing dishes
  • Clothes for daytime
  • Sleepwear
  • Swimsuits
  • Rainwear
  • Shoes: hiking/walking shoes, easy-on shoes, water shoes
  • Extra layers for warmth
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • First-aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Toothbrush, toiletries
  • Soap
  • Camera
  • Campsite reservation confirmation, phone number
  • Maps, area information
  • Bikes, toys
  • Pet supplies and food


South African newsletter from November 2011 that I made especially for our company September 11, 2012

South AfricaNewsletter


Horseback safari, getting up close with white rhinos

Well summer is hitting our shores again with the days getting longer and blue clear skies!! Despite the holiday feel in the air a cloud still hangs over us in South Africa. It was just reported recently in our local news that another 2 white rhino have been poached at a private game reserve. This brings the number of rhino poached in 2011 up to 341!! That’s more than one a day!!! Our company is keen to assist in this area and we were fortunate to be involved with a rhino relocation project in September. This was a success and Helen Purdy who volunteered on the project had the most amazing time and had this to say “Just back from the rhino/cheetah experience in South Africa and it was awesome! I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants an introduction to South Africa, lots of wildlife, friendly hosts and a relaxing but unpredictable trip! Apart from sitting on the back of the safari truck a lot watching the reserve go by I also hid from poachers in a lightning storm, flew in a helicopter on a game count and watched the cheetah eating from only 10 feet away in the setting sun. Fantastic!”

Some of the Knysna volunteers were indeed lucky to get the chance to see these beautiful creatures up close and personal while doing a horse riding safari in their free time. Imagine their delight on seeing that there was a baby rhino too!!!

Helen also had this to say about the their beautiful cheetah, Rebecca “

The afternoon session started at 3pm and usually involved more animal tracking. Often Anthony would take the afternoon trip and we would end the session with a visit to track and, if we were lucky, to sit with Rebecca the cheetah.  She is so beautiful and enigmatic and it’s such a privilege to be able to get close to her.  You really do have to pinch yourself to remember that she’s a wild animal who just tolerates us because of Anthony’s hard work and time investment.  She even let us sit within ten metres of her while she ate her latest catch, a hare, in the late evening sunshine. “

In fact our volunteers have been so busy helping teach English, Drama and Music in local township schools, working at youth development centres, safe houses, soup kitchens, animal rescues, wildlife rehabilitation centres, just to name a few, that they deserve a bit of fun in their spare time and South Africa has so much to offer whether it be taking a trip to the world famous–or should that be notorious-Robben Island were our ex-president and Noble Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela, was incarcerated for so many years, taking the cable car up the magnificent Table Mountain, one of the newly appointed 7 Natural Wonders of the world, visiting cheetah sanctuaries, walking with elephants or having birds of prey eating out of your hands. And for those we enjoy their sports to the extreme we have the best spots for skydiving, kite surfing, surfing and the world’s highest bungee at 216m off Bloukrans Bridge in the Eastern Cape.

In beautiful Plettenberg Bay, we presently have Humpback whales calving in the bay from October to December. These majestic creatures are so wondrous and can sometimes be spotted close to the shore.

For those that are determined to do a bit of whale and dolphin watching the best option is to take advantage of the ‘ocean tours’ that many companies offer. As whales are quite curious creatures there is even a chance of them swimming up close to the boat. This is definitely one of those unforgettable experiences that you will carry with you in your memories your whole life.

Apart from our wonderful whales that are so wonderful to observe off our coastlines we are also known for our shark population, in fact a man was attacked recently after not heeding the shark signals and flags on the beach in Fish Hoek in Cape Town.

For those that have a fascination with these misunderstood creatures then the opportunities to go cage diving with them and observe them from their natural habitat are plenty. It’s even possible to volunteer on projects that just focus on marine life and sharks. Not for the faint hearted but with our Great White shark population worldwide vulnerable to extinction-in fact in South Africa they have been protected since 1991- research on them is vital. In South Africa it is illegal to catch Great White sharks while fishing and hopefully with the public becoming more educated about these killers of the deep we might be able to increase their dwindling numbers. The ‘White Death’ as they are also known, are quite amazing being one of the only types of sharks which ‘breach’ while hunting sharks and can reach an estimated 6 meters and weigh up to 2.268 kilograms.  There are only rough estimations as to the size of their population though.

The population of South Africa is something that we are at present having counted with our Census 2011. The last time we had a census was in 2001 and our statistics show that across South African our most commonly spoken home languages are Zulu at 23.8 %, Xhosa at 17.6%, Afrikaans at 13.3% with English coming in at 8.2% despite it being the language used most widely for commerce and science. We have 11 official languages spoken all in all across the country in our population of close to 50 600 000 people with the others being Ndebele, Sepedi (Northern Sotho), Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati (Swazi), Tshivenda (Venda) and Tsonga.

Of course we shall have to see once the statistics are in if these figures have changed a lot.

So on visiting South Africa a few good phrases to know are;

Hello    Hallo (Afrikaans)

Molo (Xhosa)

Sawubona (Zulu)

How are you?  Hoe gaan dit? (Afrikaans)

Kunjani? (Xhosa)

Unjani ? (Zulu)

I can only speak English          Ek praat net Engels (Afrikaans)

Ndithetha isiNgesi kuphela (Xhosa)

Ngikhuluma isingisi kuphela (Zulu)

Bye      Totsiens (Afrikaans)

Sala kakuhle (Xhosa)

Sala kahle (Zulu)

It seems extremely intimidating but most South Africans are fluent in at least two languages and quite a few even speak more so communication is never a problem.  It just makes our country that little bit more colourful after all we are the ‘rainbow nation’.

News Updates


(The jewel of the Garden Route)

New on our books in Knysna is our safe house and soup kitchen project, which has received such a positive response. It is a non-profit organisation that provides a warm loving and stable home to children from abusive and neglected backgrounds in our local township. On top of this the housemother takes on the challenge of feeding as many of the children from the community as she can after school on weekdays. For some children this might be the only decent meal they get. To help out with the children is extremely rewarding as just spending time with them gives them a positive influence in their lives and they are just so happy to have the attention. It is so amazing to see how some who have so little in their lives can still smile all the time; it really is such a humbling experience.

I am also thrilled that the local youth development centre project has also recently launched its skills centre and will be teaching the youth and locals from the community computer, pottery, welding, sewing, cookery and even marimba lessons. It has been a long time coming but it is finally up and running with a launch that even our local mayor attended.

And last but not least our local mascot at the volunteer house, “Blondie” our male Vervet monkey has turned out not to be an albino like I originally thought but a genetic anomaly which has been confirmed by Dave from the Vervet Monkey Foundation.

He is indeed a very special boy and possibly one of a kind!!!

Cape Town

(The Mother City)

Our volunteers in Cape Town waste no time and soon after they arrive they have their list of activities ready. High on the list is the tour to Robben Island.  A recent volunteer said that it was fascinating to talk to the guide who showed them around the island – as he was one of the inmates of that infamous prison during the time that Nelson Mandela had been there.  As one crosses the few kilometres of ocean between the mainland and the island, the views of magnificent Table Mountain looming above the city make one want to take hundreds of photos.  In such contrast are the sad stories of the people who spent years looking at that view, but away from friends, family, work and freedom.  A visit here is a must when in Cape Town.

One activity which could only be done once a month was a climb up Lion’s Head (a peak next to Table Mountain) above the city of Cape Town, done in the late afternoon to see the sun set and the full moon rise.  Armed with goodies to eat, bottles of champagne and torches, a group of volunteers from the backpackers, Colleen, Sofia and Alicia, set off following the path round and round the peak until the spot where you do the serious climb to the top.  And they are not alone, a whole bunch of Capetonians and visitors sit at the summit and wait eagerly for the full moon.  As the sun sinks behind the ocean, the sky turns an amazing red and gold colour – and then one looks in the opposite direction and the huge moon rises up behind the Hottentots Holland Mountains. It is absolutely stunning and can only be described as an experience of a lifetime!

It begins to get a bit darker and the journey down is a little less steady, and one has to tread carefully by the light of the moon which is now climbing up into the sky above the city.  You can see the trail of little torch lights bobbing ahead of you, and every now and then someone stumbles and sends a tumble of pebbles down into the darkness.  Amazingly enough, one never hears of any accidents during this great traditional ritual of Cape Town.

Colleen and Alicia are planning to go again tonight as it had been so amazing the last time.

On Saturday Colleen is going to climb Table Mountain with a group of friends.  Another must-do activity here – and no namby-pamby going up the cable car for the volunteers!  They are escorted up the mountain on foot-usually by one of the managers at the backpackers-and what a feeling of achievement this is, worth every moment of sweat and tears experienced on the way up.

Colleen, Alicia and Sofia have been here for nearly 3 months, each at a different placement. All have had a wonderful experience at their respective placements. Sofia has taught drama and art, Colleen has not only worked in the classroom at her school for children with autism, but been to the sessions of horse riding for the disabled and been on the school bus taking the kids back to their homes – what an eye-opener.

Work at the Red Cross Hospital for Children is always a favourite.  Every day the volunteers go and choose which toys they are going to “play with” that day.  Then off to the wards to spend time with the children, many of whom have no-one visiting them and the thrill of having someone to play with them for the morning is great.  In the township areas one of the frequent tragedies is house fires.  Someone leaves a candle burning, their house catches fire and next minute there is a raging fire leaping from house to house as there are hardly any spaces between them.  Adults and children are caught unawares and the burns suffered are unbelievable.  It is so terrible to see little kids covered in bandages, sometimes not even aware what has happened to them and their parents.  At the Red Cross the doctors and nurses perform miracles and volunteers bring a bit of fun and enjoyment into the recovery period. We have had a steady flow of volunteers at the Red Cross this year-Alicia has worked at the hospital now for nearly 3 months-and it has been an amazing experience.  She will be joined next week by Ciara and Lois, our last two volunteers for 2011.


(Kingdom of the Zulu)

The cold KZN winter has left, allowing a warm spring to find its way into our province, although we have had some days that are grey and drizzly. Two of our most recent volunteers have been greeted at the airport by pouring rain and were wrapped up in jackets to keep warm……we are not quite ready to put away the winter woollies.

KwaZulu-Natal is an extremely large province about the size of Portugal. Travelling distances between towns and cities can take anything between one or six hours and the scenery during these drives is very diverse -green rolling hills one moment and the next are the unexpected purples of distant mountain ranges bordered by the warm Indian Ocean on the East.

Our projects are spread across the province and each one offers a different experience. At the wildlife rehabilitation centre in Durban the volunteers get involved in a variety of tasks. The centre has recently held a fundraising golf day which was a great success and a s PR volunteer was instrumental in helping to raise in excess of R40 000.  Much needed funding!

The Director had this to say:

Rachel’s efforts will probably stand us in good stead to raise approximately R 40,000 in our upcoming golf day and she has also made the front page of one of the Durban newspapers with a press release she wrote for us.  She has also done extensive research and copy writing for information panels for our environmental education centre that is being upgraded; this will be a legacy she will leave for at least the next 15 years of public tours coming through the centre. Well done Rachel, you have been a real star and we will surely miss you!”

Our two recently established projects, one in Pietermaritzburg and the other in northern KwaZulu-Natal have attracted volunteers in the past two months. These two projects, although vastly different in terms of volunteer requirements, both, hopefully, will bring forth a similar result. One will restore dignity and provide vitally needed life skills to women who can then go back into their communities, fully able to provide for themselves and their children, whilst the other will release rehabilitated wildlife back to their natural environment.

Indeed South Africa is truly the rainbow nation, our cultures, customs, fauna & flora and history is so diverse from region to region. From the top of our world famous Table Mountain along the Garden Route and the breathtaking Knysna Heads all way to the magnificent Drakensburg Mountains and the remarkable St. Lucia Wetlands, both World Heritage sites in KZN, our beloved country is truly magnificent!!!! Visitors are always amazed at how beautiful South Africa is and let’s hope you will come and experience the wonders of Mzansi!!!*

*local slang for South Africa coming from the word uMzantsi which in Xhosa means “south”


A Vervet monkey with her baby and the albino male