Tag Archives: south africa

Running on the Sand of Strand Beach (2016-09-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 OCT 2016

Having just enjoyed a rather unexpected midweek getaway in Swellendam towards the end of September, we returned home just in time for first me to fall ill on the Friday, and then Chantelle follow suit on the Saturday. As you might imagine then, the weekend was a bit of an indoor affair, though I did venture out on Saturday afternoon in order for the girls to stretch their legs with some play time at the main Strand Beach, also known as Melkbaai Beach.

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If you didn’t know that already, Strand has about 5 kilometers’ worth of white sandy beaches, which is probably why it is such a popular weekend destination then for beach fishermen and rock anglers, and of course holidaymakers come season time!

Melkbaai beach is one of the safer beaches for swimming and fishing, and of course there is more than enough to do in the area, including an Olympic-sized indoor pool which is centrally heated and is open all year round.

Naturally, water sports like surfing, sailing, power boating, paddle skiing and board sailing are also a pretty big thing in the area.

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Anyway, the girls and I were just there to stretch our legs for a bit, and so with a Jelly Tots chocolate slab as lure/motivator, I soon had the two of them running up and down the beach and getting rid of some their pent up energy!

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As you can see from the pictures that I snapped when the girls gave me a chance, it was actually a pretty overcast day – which was nice in the sense we had plenty of space to ourselves then! :)

(Also, because that’s how these things work, by the next day both of them were struck down with the same illness that was plaguing Chantelle. Poor babies…)

Anyway, here’s a handy map to the beach if you too want to go exploring:

Related Link: Strand

Things to See in South Africa: uShaka Marine World in Durban Travel Attractions 13 OCT 2016

One of Durban’s premier attractions is without a doubt the sprawling 16-hectare large uShaka Marine World theme park, home to one of the world’s largest saltwater aquariums as well as the highest water slide in the Southern Hemisphere!

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Opened in 2004 as one of the first phases of the Durban Point redevelopment project, uShaka Marine World comprises of five main sections, namely uShaka Sea World (the aquarium), uShaka Wet ‘n Wild (water slide theme park), uShaka Beach (a beach), uShaka Village Walk (a shopping and dining area), and uShaka Kids World (kids entertainment area).

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Entertainment options are almost limitless, with plenty to see and do throughout this amazing place. You can watch the penguins at the Penguin Rockery, be entertained by the dolphin show at the Dolphin Stadium, and laugh at Seals at the Seal Stadium. You can dive with the sharks, snorkel with the turtles, zip about in the Chimp & Zee rope adventure course, soak up the rays on the beach, or get wet on the multitude of water slides in the Wet ‘n Wild section.

Shopping, dining, and plenty of children’s entertainment means that this place is definitely worthy of a full day visit!

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The uShaka Sea World aquarium is very impressive the first time you visit (I think that I’ve been there twice already), and visiting it and its magnificently themed salt water tanks is reason enough to visit uShaka Marine World if you get the chance!

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So, basically, if you are a tourist in Durban, then you should definitely make the effort to spend at least one day at uShaka Marine World!

As per usual, here’s a handy map:

Related Link: uShaka Marine World | Wikipedia

Stroll along the Mostert’s Bay Section of Strand Beach (2016-09-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 OCT 2016

The Strand (Afrikaans for ‘beach’) is technically a seaside resort town on the eastern edge of False Bay, geographically between Macassar and Gordon’s Bay. It’s main attraction is of course the magnificent Melkbaai Beach which is known as one of the best and safest bathing areas in the country.

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However, as you head past the Pavillion complex towards the east, you’ll find yourself now walking along first Blake’s Beach and then Mostert’s Bay, both popular fishing and dog walking stretches of the beach area.

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Strand is super interesting in that despite it not appearing to be a wealthy area in the slightest, it features a stunning array of beautiful and interestingly designed high-rise apartment buildings which dominate the Golden Mile, Central, and Platinum Mile sections of the iconic Strand Beach Road that stretches the entire length of the beachfront.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but the nice thing about living so close to beaches whilst working from home is of course the ability to stretch one’s legs come lunch time by heading out for a sandy stroll – which is exactly what I ended up doing one recent Friday afternoon.

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For a change, instead of leaving my phone in the car, I forgot it in my pocket – which now means that I have a whole lot of photos for the blog again!

And of course, a map:

Related Link: Strand

South African Hotels Worth Visiting Travel Attractions 02 OCT 2016

South Africa is a country that has just about everything a tourist could want. From bush to mountain to oceans, all of which are packed with the best that mother nature has to offer, so there are many places to add to your bucket list. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay on your trip, here are five awesome suggestions.

Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

Meaning “My Dream”, ToroYaka is an elegant safari lodge that is to be found right in the heart of the Balule Nature Reserve, a 38,000-hectare portion of the Kruger National Park. The lodge boasts a modern elegant yet relaxed style, encouraging guests to sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing nature on offer. And we are talking serious nature, all of the African bush favourites can be enjoyed from here, including the hippo and crocodile filled Olifants River which flows nearby. Activities to be enjoyed here include morning bush walks, bird-watching, bush picnics and dinners and game drives. For the thrill seekers among you, there is white water rafting available close by in the Blyde Canyon, as well as abseiling or hiking up to the Mariepskop Rain forest, hot air balloon rides and horseback safaris, all of which come highly recommended in order to truly take in everything this magnificent region has to offer.

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Villa Afrikana Guest Suites

With free Wi-Fi and panoramic views of the nearby Knysna lagoon and the Knysna Heads, the Villa Afrikana Guest Suites offers 6 spacious rooms, allowing its clients to experience world-class service in a unique location. Also on site is a truly gorgeous swimming pool that comes complete with a sun deck and a well-stocked library. The rooms, or suites, all feature a neat blend of both African and modern contemporary décor and deluxe bedding. Most rooms have private balconies, where you can enjoy views of the aforementioned lagoon. For those keen on the links, the Pezula and Simola Golf Courses are a mere 15-minutes’ drive away. Make your stay at Villa Afrikana an unforgettable experience and truly fall in love in everything that Knysna and the Garden Route have to offer.

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The Andros Deluxe Boutique Hotel

Suitably located in Cape Town’s beautiful southern suburb of Claremont, against the backdrop of Table Mountain, the five star Andros Deluxe Boutique Hotel, is actually a superb Cape colonial homestead that was originally built in 1908. Set in lush, green gardens and its secluded garden pool area, the hotel provides a gymnasium, a beauty salon and an award winning restaurant, all on top of fifteen super-sized suites, complete with complimentary Wi-Fi. In terms of location, things really could get much better. The hotel is just a short stroll to both the iconic Newlands Rugby and Cricket stadiums as well as being within walking distance of the magnificent Cavendish square shopping centre and its stunning line up of upmarket Boutiques, Restaurants and shops.

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Sun City Casino Resort

Up in the Rainbow Nation’s Northwest Provence, Sun International’s flagship destination, the Sun City Casino Resort, is an everything you can want resort. Built in 1979, this all in one venue sits just a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg, on the border of the Pilanesberg National Game Park meaning that, although there is no need to leave the site, there are lots of great facilities nearby. Enjoy a round of golf at either of two Gary Player designed 18-hole golf courses, splash in the Valley of Waves, visit the bird aviaries and animal sanctuaries and explore the beautiful surrounding gardens. Within the resort, there are numerous hotels, such as the family-friendly 3-star Cabanas hotel, the luxury 5-star Cascades hotel or the 4-star Sun City Hotel and Casino. The casino offers 24/7 gaming that includes hundreds of the latest progressive slot machines and 43 popular table games, including Blackjack, Punto Banco, American Roulette and various disciplines of poker. For anyone looking to visit the casino during their stay, the best pre-game strategy you can employ, is to get some practise in first. A great way to do this is to invest some time in perfecting your game at an online casino. Most of these offer games to play with either real money or play money so you can sharpen up your skills and develop your strategies with very little risk.

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Tsala Treetop Lodge

Down on the southern coast, you’ll find the unique Garden Route boutique resort that is the gorgeously lush Tsala Treetop Lodge. Sitting among some of South Africa’s finest forest canopies, the lodge provides visitors with breath taking bird’s eye views of some of the continent’s best geography, all from a luxurious stilted hut. Said huts all come with wraparound decking, private infinity pools and flat screen TVs. There are10 suites and 6 two-bedroom villas in all and the suites all come with private decks and infinity plunge pools. As for the two-bedroom Villas, they both come with kitchenettes, dining rooms, fully stocked minibars, satellite TV, private pools and a decked outdoor dining area. All this, just 10km from the beaches, bars and boutiques of Plettenberg Bay.

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Spring Flower Season in the West Coast National Park (2016-09-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 OCT 2016

The West Coast National Park is not the best SANParks national park to recommend visiting if you are looking for some big game to spot. However, with the idyllic Langebaan lagoon as its focal point, the 27,500 hectare large West Coast National Park is certainly more public friendly than most, with it being one of the few national parks where you can cycle, jog, braai, suntan, swim in the sea, picnic, swim in a lagoon, or even camp out on houseboat!

(Plus, there are actually antelope and smaller creatures to be spotted, and of course plenty of diverse bird life for the enthusiast).

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Spring however is when the park really comes to life, where the annual carpets of colourful wild flowers show their faces and turn the area into an amazing sprawl of delight.

Naturally, SANParks immediately hikes the entry fee to take advantage of this surge of interest in the area, but it is money well spent, believe you me (unless of course you own a Wild Card, because well then entry is free) – if you haven’t yet witnessed the incredible carpeted fields of colour that the private Postberg Flower Reserve unveils come Spring, then you simply have to make a plan for next year.

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Capetonians (i.e. people from Cape Town) descend on the park in their hordes, with lengthy queues at the entrance gate quite the norm. (Tip: If you don’t enjoy waiting in queues, you can go the long way around and enter via the Langebaan gate – usually a much less busy gateway into the park!)

Apart from these few weeks in Spring, the Postberg Flower Reserve section of the park is closed to the public, meaning that it remains unspoiled for much of the year. Every year this then pays dividends when the hills literally start exploding with colour as the flower season begins.

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Chantelle and I had seen this spectacle for ourselves for the first time last year (we even overnighted in Hopefield of all places!), and this year we were quite eager for the girls to also see this wonderful sight of nature at her best.

Having enjoyed a big family bash in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday the day before, Sunday saw us head out down the N7 and then R27 to Langebaan, where we met up with my Mom and Dad for a day of flower watching.

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This turned out to actually be a great plan, because we knew that the girls would probably become bored quite quickly (and thus start annoying each other in the back), so we split them up, with Jessica riding in Mom and Dad’s car while Emily stayed with us (on Chantelle’s lap).

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We spent the next couple of hours driving through the park, admiring all the colours and of course getting slightly flustered with all the traffic. As you would imagine, cars were parked everywhere, with pretty much anyone with even the slightest inkling of calling themselves a photographer spilling out to capture as much of the flower covered landscape as possible.

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We were treated to some amazing sights, and explored a bit more of the area than what we did last time around (this time I made sure I had enough petrol before going in!), and after our visual senses were properly sated, we headed down back to the lagoon for a bite to eat at the park’s Geelbek Restaurant.

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At least, that was the plan until we quickly realized that perhaps they were simply too busy to actually give good service, and so opted to abandon our table and rather exit the park to grab a now very late lunch from the nearby Beulah Farm Deli instead.

So in the end it was a day well spent, and I therefore suspect that next year we will probably be back again. Though perhaps this time even more prepared to make an even fuller day out of it! (In other words, remembering to pack a picnic basket for a change…)

Oh, and once again, taking pictures of fields of flowers doesn’t really work all that well when all you have is your Huawei cellphone for the job. Nevertheless, I tried my best:

(Oh, and sadly we did see less animals than what we did last time around. Not a big train smash though, so long as you go into the park knowing that animal spotting is not the big drawcard here!)

Related Link: West Coast National Park | Wikipedia | Postberg Flower Reserve

Things to See in South Africa: The Sunland Baobab in Modjadjiskloof Travel Attractions 20 AUG 2016

Baobab trees are renowned for their longevity and ability to reach massive proportions, with one of the largest in South Africa being the Sunland Baobab – made even more famous when in 1993, the owners of the farm on which the tree stands installed a bar in the hollow middle of the tree!

Thus was born the world famous Baobab Tree Bar.

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Situated near Modjadjiskloof (Duiwelskloof) in Limpopo Province, the Sunland Baobab grows on the Sunland mango farm. The tree has been carbon dated and its age is estimated to be around 1700 years old. The tree has a diameter of 10.64 meters, is 19 metres high, with a crown diameter of 30.2 metres. The circumference of the trunk is 33.4 metres.

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When baobabs become a thousand years old, they begin to hollow inside, forming natural wooden caverns.  Doug and Heather van Heerden bought Sunland farm in 1989, and in 1993 decided to clear out compost from the central trunk, squared off a hole to make way for a door and finally installed a railway sleeper inside for the bar.

This being South Africa, that turned the Sunland Baobab into an instant tourist attraction!

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Also on Sunland farm is a nursery specialising in palms and bamboo, as well as a mango and avocado plantation. The farm can also provide accommodation for up to 20 people in tent huts which have been dubbed ‘jungalows’.

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Baobab trees have many myths and legends surrounding them, with one of the most well known ones being the story as to why it is sometimes called the upside down tree. Local legend has it that the baobab tree offended God and as punishment, God planted the tree upside down – easy to understand if you see a baobab in winter with its bare branches pointing skywards!

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The Limpopo province is also home to the two other famous South African Baobab specimens, the country’s stoutest and second largest baobab known as the Glencoe Baobab in Hoedspruit, and the largest baobab tree in South Africa, the Sagole Baobab near Tshipise.

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[UPDATE] 5 days after posting this, the big baobab went and split!

Related Link: Big Baobab | Wikipedia | SA Tourism

Things to See in South Africa: The Goat Tower of Fairview in Paarl Travel Attractions 18 AUG 2016

Goats in general like climbing things. So in 1981, inspired by a tower that he had spotted in a garden at Sogrape Vinhos (Portugal), Fairview Wine and Cheese estate owner Charles Back decided to build something intended for the pleasure of his herd of 750 odd Saanen (Swiss mountain) goats.

And so the world’s first ever purpose-built goat tower was born.

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Built out of brick and mortar with a steep metal roof and a spiraling wooden staircase (with windows), the Fairview Goat Tower quickly became a symbol of the Paarl winelands, turning these goats into probably some of the most photographed livestock in South Africa!

(Fairview Estate was one of the first estates to open to the public, a leader in the wine tourism economy. In other words, they had tourists, and tourists of course loved the goats!)

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With the tower now a symbol of and featuring heavily in the branding of the Fairview Winery, the Fairview team also produced a wine called “Goats do Roam,” a play on the French wine growing region Côtes du Rhône.

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In 2007 a replica tower was opened by Charles Back at the Ekeby farm in Norway as part of a collaborative intiative, and in 2011 another replica was built on the Finca el Rocio farm in Argentina.

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Of course, there are now other famous goat towers across the world, including the massive six-story, 31-foot-tall Tower of Baaa, constructed by farmer David Johnson, to serve his herd of 34 Saanen milk goats in Findlay, Illinois (USA).

So, if you are ever in Paarl and looking for something different to see, a stop at Fairview to look at their famous goat tower might not be a bad idea at all.

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(Though perhaps, just don’t get the goat tower tattoo as Elisabeth Holm, chef at Ekeby apparently did…)

Elisabeth Holm, chef at Ekeby and the girl with the goat tower tattoo

Related Link: Goat Tower | Atlas Obscura | Modern Farmer | Fairview Wine and Cheese | Wikipedia

Things to See in South Africa: The Dick King Statue in Durban Travel Attractions 11 AUG 2016

Situated on the north shore of Durban Bay, the Victoria Embankment, also know as Esplanade, is Durban’s main promenade, stretching all around the waterfront and offering great views of the harbour. More or less at the center of this promenade you will stumble across a beautiful bronze equestrian statue dating back to August 1915 – the statue of Dick King.

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The statue commemorates Dick King and his heroic journey that is entwined in the history of Port Natal (now Durban).

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Port Natal was a British trading station in the region now known as KwaZulu-Natal. Richard ‘Dick’ King was an English trader and colonist based there, who became famous following his epic horseback journey that saw him cover a distance of 960 kilometres in 10 days (a journey that would  normally take 17), in order to request help for the besieged British garrison barricaded in at Itafa Malinde (now the Old Fort) of Port Natal from the British military outpost of Grahamstown.

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25 May 1842. Having successfully slipped out from a ship moored in the bay and escaping the Boer republic of Natalia’s Andries Pretorius (who was spearheading the siege), Dick King, accompanied by his 16-year-old servant Ndongeni, set out into the wilderness on horseback, fording  120 rivers and dodging attacks from both Zulu and Boer forces alike.

Without a saddle or bridle, the young Ndongeni could only make it halfway, but Dick King pushed on, covering the distance in a mere ten days, but arriving in a state of complete exhaustion. His message was heard, and a month later King returned aboard one of the British vessels carrying the relief parties, arriving in time to save the Port Natal garrison from imminent surrender or starvation.

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Later, Ndongeni would receive a farm at the Mzimkulu river and the humble King a farm at Isipingo for their services. On the 14 August 1915 this beautiful statue commemorating Dick King and his horse Somerset’s epic journey, and thus important piece of Durban’s history, was unveiled.

Related Link: Wikipedia | South African Guide | Mole’s Genealogy Blog

Watching Surfers at Victoria Bay (2016-06-26) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 JUL 2016

Having enjoyed a brilliant first day out that saw us do a lot of driving and sightseeing, the second day of our Far Hills Country Hotel long weekend getaway got off to a much more relaxed start, with us enjoying some coffee on our private balcony while watching thousands of white egrets fly through the valley down below.

After an okay breakfast (the hotel was rather understaffed for the amount of people currently visiting), the whole lot of us (Monty, Cheryl, Evan, Natasha, Chantelle and all the kids) headed out towards to the nearby surfers’ paradise, Victoria Bay – perhaps better known by its other more colloquial name, Vic Bay.

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This beautiful small cove is situated on the Garden Route between George and Wilderness, and is a particularly popular beach for surfers, consisting of a right hand reef-like wave which rolls over small boulder-like rocks for about 200m. Both district and national surf competitions are held here, so you are pretty much guaranteed to always find someone in the water – no matter what time of year you get there!

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It is an absolutely stunning piece of Garden Route scenery and well worth the stop, even if it is just to go for an amble past all the quaint houses lining the one side of the cove, wander down the pier, or just hunker down and enjoy watching the surfers and bodyboarders at play.

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We took our time strolling around, and yes, lots of photos were taken.

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After spending a decent amount of time taking in all the sights and scenery, we decided to take our leave of Victoria Bay, splitting off from Evan and Natasha who opted to spend the rest of the day there instead. (There is a small restaurant next to the beach in case you didn’t think of packing in a picnic or braai supplies!)

We did have a good reason though – ice cream at Herolds Bay was beckoning!

Related Link: Victoria Bay