Adventure

Sports crazy South Africa

South Africa is totally mad for sports. It’s an arena where all people come together to support their teams with virtually religious fervour.

Sports allows for tempers, tears, celebration and ceremony. Most of all, in South Africa, it involves a lot of noise. Whether you’re playing it or watching it, it binds the nation in euphoric cacophony. Bring on the vuvuzelas. Bring on the dustbin lids. Bring on the passionate screams from the crowds. Adrenaline and passion literally go into overdrive when a game is on.

And there are so many different sports to follow that you’d be hard-pressed not to get sucked into following at least one of them.

Rugby is, of course, probably what the country is best known for and, if you’re already a fan, you’ll know the level of rivalry between the Springboks (South Africa), the Wallabies (Australia) and the All Blacks (New Zealand). It seriously reaches a whole other level if you’re on home turf in South Africa though, and is something you definitely shouldn’t miss. Add it to your itinerary!

Wallabies vs Springboks lineout. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

Wallabies vs Springboks lineout. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

We can’t forget cricket and the tense matches between the local Proteas and the British or Indian teams though. Or soccer, for that matter. Especially since the 2010 FIFA World Cup when South Africa built its first (and subsequent) stadium devoted to football. It well and truly put the country on the world map as a world-class sporting venue with a world-class ‘welcome’ to match, Hundreds of thousands of global visitors experienced the colour of the land and the spirit of its people during the Cup, and the locals carried the competition ‘high’ with them months, if not years, afterwards. The name Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national squad, continues to ring loud and proud to this day, and remnants of the Fan Walk can still be seen in Cape Town.

FIFA World Cup fever. Fans watching a match armed with their vuvuzelas. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

FIFA World Cup fever. Fans watching a match armed with their vuvuzelas. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

And then there’s South Africa’s love of long distance. Athletics and endurance seem to go hand-in-hand when it comes to South African competition. Ultramarathons are well-entrenched in both South Africa’s blood and psyche. Both the gruelling 90km Comrades Marathon (raced between Durban and Pietermaritzburg) and the slightly less grueling 56km Two Oceans Marathon that winds its way around the Cape mountains, draw competitors the world over, with some returning year-on-year. To witness their stamina on the road, and get a grasp on how long and diverse the courses really are, is something best done first-hand.

Entrants stride out in the 90km Comrades Marathon. Photo credit: www.thenorthface.com

Entrants stride out in the 90km Comrades Marathon. Photo credit: www.thenorthface.com

There are tons of other sports that locals are fanatical about too: golf, horseracing, boxing, swimming, motorsports, tennis, cycling, surfing… take your pick.

But, if you prefer sport that pushes your personal limits in an extreme way, South Africa has one of the widest ranges of adventure sports you can hope to do anywhere in the world. From aerial sports like skydiving, hanggliding, paragliding, parasailing, microlighting, flying fox and bungy, to water sports like white water rafting, wakeboarding and cage diving with Great Whites or crocodiles. From land-based sports like hiking, abseiling, caving and quad biking. The list goes on.

Paragliding with Table Mountain, Cape Town, in the background. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Paragliding with Table Mountain, Cape Town, in the background. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Don’t wait for some big sporting event to visit South Africa though – if sports is your thing, anytime is a good time to back a team. In this country, you will always find an exciting match on the go.

Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

Sports crazy South Africa

South Africa is totally mad for sports. It’s an arena where all people come together to support their teams with virtually religious fervour.

Sports allows for tempers, tears, celebration and ceremony. Most of all, in South Africa, it involves a lot of noise. Whether you’re playing it or watching it, it binds the nation in euphoric cacophony. Bring on the vuvuzelas. Bring on the dustbin lids. Bring on the passionate screams from the crowds. Adrenaline and passion literally go into overdrive when a game is on.

And there are so many different sports to follow that you’d be hard-pressed not to get sucked into following at least one of them.

Rugby is, of course, probably what the country is best known for and, if you’re already a fan, you’ll know the level of rivalry between the Springboks (South Africa), the Wallabies (Australia) and the All Blacks (New Zealand). It seriously reaches a whole other level if you’re on home turf in South Africa though, and is something you definitely shouldn’t miss. Add it to your itinerary!

Wallabies vs Springboks lineout. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

Wallabies vs Springboks lineout. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

We can’t forget cricket and the tense matches between the local Proteas and the British or Indian teams though. Or soccer, for that matter. Especially since the 2010 FIFA World Cup when South Africa built its first (and subsequent) stadium devoted to football. It well and truly put the country on the world map as a world-class sporting venue with a world-class ‘welcome’ to match, Hundreds of thousands of global visitors experienced the colour of the land and the spirit of its people during the Cup, and the locals carried the competition ‘high’ with them months, if not years, afterwards. The name Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national squad, continues to ring loud and proud to this day, and remnants of the Fan Walk can still be seen in Cape Town.

FIFA World Cup fever. Fans watching a match armed with their vuvuzelas. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

FIFA World Cup fever. Fans watching a match armed with their vuvuzelas. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

And then there’s South Africa’s love of long distance. Athletics and endurance seem to go hand-in-hand when it comes to South African competition. Ultramarathons are well-entrenched in both South Africa’s blood and psyche. Both the gruelling 90km Comrades Marathon (raced between Durban and Pietermaritzburg) and the slightly less grueling 56km Two Oceans Marathon that winds its way around the Cape mountains, draw competitors the world over, with some returning year-on-year. To witness their stamina on the road, and get a grasp on how long and diverse the courses really are, is something best done first-hand.

Entrants stride out in the 90km Comrades Marathon. Photo credit: www.thenorthface.com

Entrants stride out in the 90km Comrades Marathon. Photo credit: www.thenorthface.com

There are tons of other sports that locals are fanatical about too: golf, horseracing, boxing, swimming, motorsports, tennis, cycling, surfing… take your pick.

But, if you prefer sport that pushes your personal limits in an extreme way, South Africa has one of the widest ranges of adventure sports you can hope to do anywhere in the world. From aerial sports like skydiving, hanggliding, paragliding, parasailing, microlighting, flying fox and bungy, to water sports like white water rafting, wakeboarding and cage diving with Great Whites or crocodiles. From land-based sports like hiking, abseiling, caving and quad biking. The list goes on.

Paragliding with Table Mountain, Cape Town, in the background. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Paragliding with Table Mountain, Cape Town, in the background. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Don’t wait for some big sporting event to visit South Africa though – if sports is your thing, anytime is a good time to back a team. In this country, you will always find an exciting match on the go.

Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

South Africa: A Hiker’s Guide to Another World

With the arrival of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, outdoor activities are a must and you can’t go past hiking in South Africa. After all, the country boasts some of the most exceptional trails in the world, and there are over 1,000 to choose from.

Taking advantage of the cooler temps, even if you’re not the fittest or most adventurous of naturalists but still crave the wild and free feeling of going on a quest, you’ll have a much better chance of conserving your energy and going that much further or higher. There is lesser risk of bumping into other people too which, let’s face it, is a huge part of the charm of taking the road less travelled (or, in some cases here, completely untravelled).

Experience the magnificent Otter Trail in South Africa. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Experience the magnificent Otter Trail in South Africa. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Picture it: just you sporting your hiking boots and backpack, trekking uncharted territory.

If that sounds a little too ‘rough’ for you though, depending on where you’re hiking, and if you’re alone or with a group, you can always hire a guide, have your gear dropped off to the next rest point, and stay in luxury cabins rather than bunk down in a cave or under the massive starry sky. It’s your pick.

One of the most appealing aspects of hiking in South Africa is the varied terrain. You’ll find awesome trails in each of the nine provinces, each of which offers magnificent scenery, challenges and surprises.

The Otter Trail along the Tsitsikamma coast is one of the most popular multi-day hikes you’ll find. Stretching from the Storms River Mouth in the East to Nature’s Valley in the West, you can expect lush forests, rugged shorelines, mountain streams and waterfalls, and fragrant fynbos. It’s 42km long and takes 5 days to complete but, while it’s strenuous, the distances aren’t too great. And you’ll have the sea mist of the Indian Ocean to refresh you the whole time as it’s always within sight.

If you enjoy coastal hiking, maybe also consider the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape that offers similar hiking with dramatically different scenery. Think endless stretches of beach with wave-lashed rocks and intermittent forest.

Exquisite Coffee Bay on the Eastern Cape Wild Coast. Photo credit: www.en.wikipedia.org

Exquisite Coffee Bay on the Eastern Cape Wild Coast. Photo credit: www.en.wikipedia.org

Another un-missable hike in South Africa is the Amphitheatre Heritage Hike, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although, aptly listed by National Geographic as one of the world’s best “grail trails”, this is one you might want to start training for! Despite being shorter than The Otter Trail (a mere 20-30 kilometres taken over 3 days), it is particularly challenging, and recommended only for seasoned hikers accompanied by a guide. It will take you to the top of the second longest waterfall in the world via ascending chain ladders!

The uKhahlamba peaks (meaning "barrier of spears in Zulu) along the Amphitheatre Heritage Hike. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

The uKhahlamba peaks (meaning “barrier of spears in Zulu) along the Amphitheatre Heritage Hike. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

And if that isn’t enough of a challenge for you, try the Amathole Trail (120km over 6 days) from Madam Dam, about 22km outside of King Williams Town to the Tyume River about 3km outside of Hogsback, an arty eco-village perfect for recovery. The landscape along this hike is so picturesque, it might even give you inspiration to write your own fictional masterpiece as it did J.R.R. Tolkien with The Lord of the Rings!

Hogsback, at the end of the Amatole Trail, transports you to another world. Photo credit: www.getaway.co.za

Hogsback, at the end of the Amatole Trail, transports you to another world. Photo credit: www.getaway.co.za

If all this sounds too strenuous though, don’t be put off. There are many gentler hikes to do too, and some that are guaranteed to heighten all of your senses. Accompanied by experienced rangers, you can join the Kruger Wilderness Trails in the iconic region bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe for about 50km over 2.5 days. You’ll cover some of the two million hectares of grassland, acacia-studded plains, bushveld, mopaneveld and tropical riverine forest inhabited by the Big Five. Depending on where your trail takes you, you could spot hippos and crocodiles at the river (Olifants Trail), or see lions hunting on the thorn-tree savannah (Sweni Trail) and hear them roaring at night.

Feel the hairs on your neck rise as you come across the Big Five on one of the Kruger Wilderness Trails. Photo credit: www.krugerpark.co.za

No matter your experience or fitness levels, South Africa has a hiking trail for you. With registered trails in all nine provinces, facilities, information and guides standing by, you have no excuse for not getting out into the wild on foot and experiencing the beauty of South Africa first hand.

Not for the fainthearted! Photo credit: Ariadne Van Zandenbergen, www.adventure.nationalgeographic.com

Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg… not for the fainthearted! Photo credit: Ariadne Van Zandenbergen, www.adventure.nationalgeographic.com

For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

TRAVEL TIPS & PLANNING INFO

WHO TO CONTACT

South African National Parks
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111

The Hiking Organisation of South Africa
Mobile: +27 (0)83 532 5557
Email: hosavosa@gmail.com

Footprint Hiking Club Mobile:
+27 (0)82 456 7020
Email: bookings@footprint.co.za

South Africa: A Hiker’s Guide to Another World

With the arrival of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, outdoor activities are a must and you can’t go past hiking in South Africa. After all, the country boasts some of the most exceptional trails in the world, and there are over 1,000 to choose from.

Taking advantage of the cooler temps, even if you’re not the fittest or most adventurous of naturalists but still crave the wild and free feeling of going on a quest, you’ll have a much better chance of conserving your energy and going that much further or higher. There is lesser risk of bumping into other people too which, let’s face it, is a huge part of the charm of taking the road less travelled (or, in some cases here, completely untravelled).

Experience the magnificent Otter Trail in South Africa. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Experience the magnificent Otter Trail in South Africa. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Picture it: just you sporting your hiking boots and backpack, trekking uncharted territory.

If that sounds a little too ‘rough’ for you though, depending on where you’re hiking, and if you’re alone or with a group, you can always hire a guide, have your gear dropped off to the next rest point, and stay in luxury cabins rather than bunk down in a cave or under the massive starry sky. It’s your pick.

One of the most appealing aspects of hiking in South Africa is the varied terrain. You’ll find awesome trails in each of the nine provinces, each of which offers magnificent scenery, challenges and surprises.

The Otter Trail along the Tsitsikamma coast is one of the most popular multi-day hikes you’ll find. Stretching from the Storms River Mouth in the East to Nature’s Valley in the West, you can expect lush forests, rugged shorelines, mountain streams and waterfalls, and fragrant fynbos. It’s 42km long and takes 5 days to complete but, while it’s strenuous, the distances aren’t too great. And you’ll have the sea mist of the Indian Ocean to refresh you the whole time as it’s always within sight.

If you enjoy coastal hiking, maybe also consider the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape that offers similar hiking with dramatically different scenery. Think endless stretches of beach with wave-lashed rocks and intermittent forest.

Exquisite Coffee Bay on the Eastern Cape Wild Coast. Photo credit: www.en.wikipedia.org

Exquisite Coffee Bay on the Eastern Cape Wild Coast. Photo credit: www.en.wikipedia.org

Another un-missable hike in South Africa is the Amphitheatre Heritage Hike, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although, aptly listed by National Geographic as one of the world’s best “grail trails”, this is one you might want to start training for! Despite being shorter than The Otter Trail (a mere 20-30 kilometres taken over 3 days), it is particularly challenging, and recommended only for seasoned hikers accompanied by a guide. It will take you to the top of the second longest waterfall in the world via ascending chain ladders!

The uKhahlamba peaks (meaning "barrier of spears in Zulu) along the Amphitheatre Heritage Hike. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

The uKhahlamba peaks (meaning “barrier of spears in Zulu) along the Amphitheatre Heritage Hike. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

And if that isn’t enough of a challenge for you, try the Amathole Trail (120km over 6 days) from Madam Dam, about 22km outside of King Williams Town to the Tyume River about 3km outside of Hogsback, an arty eco-village perfect for recovery. The landscape along this hike is so picturesque, it might even give you inspiration to write your own fictional masterpiece as it did J.R.R. Tolkien with The Lord of the Rings!

Hogsback, at the end of the Amatole Trail, transports you to another world. Photo credit: www.getaway.co.za

Hogsback, at the end of the Amatole Trail, transports you to another world. Photo credit: www.getaway.co.za

If all this sounds too strenuous though, don’t be put off. There are many gentler hikes to do too, and some that are guaranteed to heighten all of your senses. Accompanied by experienced rangers, you can join the Kruger Wilderness Trails in the iconic region bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe for about 50km over 2.5 days. You’ll cover some of the two million hectares of grassland, acacia-studded plains, bushveld, mopaneveld and tropical riverine forest inhabited by the Big Five. Depending on where your trail takes you, you could spot hippos and crocodiles at the river (Olifants Trail), or see lions hunting on the thorn-tree savannah (Sweni Trail) and hear them roaring at night.

Feel the hairs on your neck rise as you come across the Big Five on one of the Kruger Wilderness Trails. Photo credit: www.krugerpark.co.za

No matter your experience or fitness levels, South Africa has a hiking trail for you. With registered trails in all nine provinces, facilities, information and guides standing by, you have no excuse for not getting out into the wild on foot and experiencing the beauty of South Africa first hand.

Not for the fainthearted! Photo credit: Ariadne Van Zandenbergen, www.adventure.nationalgeographic.com

Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg… not for the fainthearted! Photo credit: Ariadne Van Zandenbergen, www.adventure.nationalgeographic.com

For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

TRAVEL TIPS & PLANNING INFO

WHO TO CONTACT

South African National Parks
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111

The Hiking Organisation of South Africa
Mobile: +27 (0)83 532 5557
Email: hosavosa@gmail.com

Footprint Hiking Club Mobile:
+27 (0)82 456 7020
Email: bookings@footprint.co.za

Knysna – sheer magnificence!

If you travel 73km from the George Airport along South Africa’s Garden Route, you’ll find Knysna, one of the Western Cape’s most popular coastal attractions. Historically known for its gold mining and wild elephants roaming the forest in the 1800s, it continues to be an area of extreme beauty and versatility today. Arguably, the most famous of its landmarks are the Knysna Heads, two awesome cliff faces that seem to be guarding the mouth of the Knsyna Lagoon.

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

There are many attractions that centre around the Lagoon including the bustling waterfront precinct where you can sit and watch the drawbridge rise to allow the yachts to moor as you nosh on a delectable meal with matched wines at 34 South. You can also opt to stay on the lagoon in a houseboat which can be equally romantic and adventurous and, either way, create a holiday to remember! And a particularly fun pastime at Knysna Lagoon known mainly to the locals, is to go wading knee-deep in the water at the changing of the tide to look for pansy shells. They’re such a warm bunch, just ask them where to go and what to do and they’ll share their secrets.

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Knysna is also filled with outdoorsy things to do if you’re the adventurous type. Think bungee jumping, abseiling, quad biking, paragliding, scuba diving, power boating, kloofing (also known as canyoning), mountain biking, canoeing and hiking. There are heaps of non-adventurous outdoorsy things to do too like checking out the castles on Noetzi Beach. This is one of the reasons why Knysna is such popular destination: you can live it up, go wild or just chill. It’s a sublime mix of adventure and relaxation.

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

One thing you can definitely expect however, is to indulge in all things foodie. You can’t go past the annual Oyster Festival in July that attracts thousands of people from all over the country as well as overseas. There are other more low-key places to visit like Mitchell’s Brewery where you can sample their natural craft beers and cider, or the quirky and quaint Spookasem Tea Gardens in Rheenendal where you can sip on a cup of traditional roobios tea.

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

The wonderful thing is that, as rich as Knysna is in things to do and see, your accommodation doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, you can book in to one of the Milkwood Collection of Resorts, but you can also choose to stay at wonderful guesthouses like Be My Guest, or a backpackers like Knysna Backpackers in a magnificent heritage house. All of them show you a slightly different side of this bustling town.

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

And if you’re someone who likes giving back to the community, join Experience Knysna! through Love Knysna Projects and help unite kids from all local communities through field trips promoting social unity and a sense of belonging.

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

So, if you’re after a stunning holiday destination that offers you a whole range of things to do, or not to do (as the case may be), put Knysna at the top of your list. Join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page for more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday.

Knysna – sheer magnificence!

If you travel 73km from the George Airport along South Africa’s Garden Route, you’ll find Knysna, one of the Western Cape’s most popular coastal attractions. Historically known for its gold mining and wild elephants roaming the forest in the 1800s, it continues to be an area of extreme beauty and versatility today. Arguably, the most famous of its landmarks are the Knysna Heads, two awesome cliff faces that seem to be guarding the mouth of the Knsyna Lagoon.

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

There are many attractions that centre around the Lagoon including the bustling waterfront precinct where you can sit and watch the drawbridge rise to allow the yachts to moor as you nosh on a delectable meal with matched wines at 34 South. You can also opt to stay on the lagoon in a houseboat which can be equally romantic and adventurous and, either way, create a holiday to remember! And a particularly fun pastime at Knysna Lagoon known mainly to the locals, is to go wading knee-deep in the water at the changing of the tide to look for pansy shells. They’re such a warm bunch, just ask them where to go and what to do and they’ll share their secrets.

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Knysna is also filled with outdoorsy things to do if you’re the adventurous type. Think bungee jumping, abseiling, quad biking, paragliding, scuba diving, power boating, kloofing (also known as canyoning), mountain biking, canoeing and hiking. There are heaps of non-adventurous outdoorsy things to do too like checking out the castles on Noetzi Beach. This is one of the reasons why Knysna is such popular destination: you can live it up, go wild or just chill. It’s a sublime mix of adventure and relaxation.

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

One thing you can definitely expect however, is to indulge in all things foodie. You can’t go past the annual Oyster Festival in July that attracts thousands of people from all over the country as well as overseas. There are other more low-key places to visit like Mitchell’s Brewery where you can sample their natural craft beers and cider, or the quirky and quaint Spookasem Tea Gardens in Rheenendal where you can sip on a cup of traditional roobios tea.

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

The wonderful thing is that, as rich as Knysna is in things to do and see, your accommodation doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, you can book in to one of the Milkwood Collection of Resorts, but you can also choose to stay at wonderful guesthouses like Be My Guest, or a backpackers like Knysna Backpackers in a magnificent heritage house. All of them show you a slightly different side of this bustling town.

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

And if you’re someone who likes giving back to the community, join Experience Knysna! through Love Knysna Projects and help unite kids from all local communities through field trips promoting social unity and a sense of belonging.

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

So, if you’re after a stunning holiday destination that offers you a whole range of things to do, or not to do (as the case may be), put Knysna at the top of your list. Join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page for more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday.

South Africa’s most romantic hidden gems

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, scouring the globe for that patch of perfection is top of mind for a lot of people. Now, we all know South Africa has unforgettable sunsets, breathtaking views, magnificent beaches and out-of-this-world cuisine making it the ultimate romantic destination, but did you know about these lesser known winners?

Text: Desiree Haakonsen

1. Paternoster, West Coast

This quiet, laid-back fishing village on the West Coast is filled with Mediterranean charm, and is both romantic and serene. With its traditional, whitewashed cottages and gorgeous beaches, Paternoster makes for a perfect place to leave your footprints behind in the sand. More information…

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious 'chill' appeal.

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious ‘chill’ appeal.

Credit: www.whatsonincapetown.com

2. Hartbeespoort, Magaliesberg

Are you in Gauteng and wanting something laid back but close by? We’d recommend the Hartbeespoort and its country markets, cafes and restaurants, water sports, mountain trails, golf, wildlife encounters, canopy tours, hot-air balloon rides and the aerial cable way. It’s definitely a getaway with options: choose to keep yourselves busy or simply enjoy doing very little. More information…

It's difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

It’s difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

Credit: www.functionvenues.co.za

3. Clarens, Eastern Free State Highlands

Clarens is a fairy-tale town waiting to be discovered. It’s known as the ‘Jewel of the Free State’ because of its wildlife, golden mountains, winding rivers and flower-strewn gardens. It’s also an artistic haven with lots of quirky spots to visit. More information…

One of Clarens' enexpected treasures.

One of Clarens’ unexpected treasures.

Credit: www.theclarens.co.za

4. Parys, Northern Free State

As chilled as Clarens is, if your partner’s style is more leaping out of planes, consider Parys! Mind you, although it’s big on adventure, it’s still a small town and you can definitely make equally happy memories there if you are after something more relaxed like chilling on the riverbanks! More information…

Stroll along the Vall River in Parys.

Stroll along the Vaal River in Parys.

Credit: www.getaway.co.za

5. Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Dullstroom is definitely not dull! It might appeal more to nature lovers than those looking for ritzy holidays though as it’s a slice of paradise with little more to do than relish the mountain and wild-flower vistas. You might have heard about it being a popular trout fishing destination, but given trout fishing is a winter activity, you’re pretty safe that your partner won’t have divided loyalties. More information…

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

Credit: www.tripadvisor.co.za

6. Knysna, Garden Route

Whether you prefer opulence or rustic stays, Knysna is a great option! Take your time getting there by meandering along the stunning Garden Route, and be rewarded with a peaceful lagoon, beautiful beaches, thick mountain forests, good weather and a tangible sense of ‘holiday’. More information…

Knysna lagoon.

Knysna lagoon.

Credit: www.africanbreezeguesthouse.co.za

7. Bela-Bela, Waterberg

Do we need to say more than ‘hot springs’ when it comes to the Limpopo’s Bela-Bela (previously known as Warmbaths)? The perfect spot to soak away any stress from the work week or a long-haul flight. More information…

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Credit: www.roomsforafrica.com

8. Hermanus, Overberg

Hermanus is a wonderful option for the romantic at heart and those who enjoy a little indulgence. If spending a day pottering the Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route, enjoying a seaside candlelit dinner and then taking a gentle stroll on the beach is your idea of heaven, Hermanus will be your home away from home. More information…

If you can't get in to Hermanus this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

If Hermanus isn’t on the cards this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

9. Langebaan, West Coast

Langebaan is a hot favourite. It’s a place to unwind from the whirlwind of everyday busy-ness. The calm lagoon, soothing bird calls and untouched flora of the West Coast National Park make it an idyllic nature haven. But it’s not a completely sleepy town so don’t rest on your laurels. Places like Strandlopers beach restaurant get really busy so make sure you get in early! More information…

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Credit: www.high-five.co.za

10. Margate, Hibiscus Coast

Thinking subtropical, Hawaii-wannabe beach vibes where you only wear a cozzie and flip-flops for your special out-of-town break? Margate will be spot on. And if its palm-speckled beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters become too much for you to bear, there are lots of great shops, art galleries, craft markets, pubs and quaint restaurants to visit. More information…

Margate Beach.

Margate Beach.

Credit: www.booktravel.travel

And if your main squeeze happens to be a foodie, there are so many delicious delights to discover that will make him or her weak at the knees. What about a lazy lunch or dinner at Moyo in Durban? Or The Test Kitchen in Cape Town?

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

Credit: www.planyourholiday.co.za

Whatever your pleasure, head to South Africa and get romantic! For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African getaway, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

South Africa’s most romantic hidden gems

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, scouring the globe for that patch of perfection is top of mind for a lot of people. Now, we all know South Africa has unforgettable sunsets, breathtaking views, magnificent beaches and out-of-this-world cuisine making it the ultimate romantic destination, but did you know about these lesser known winners?

Text: Desiree Haakonsen

1. Paternoster, West Coast

This quiet, laid-back fishing village on the West Coast is filled with Mediterranean charm, and is both romantic and serene. With its traditional, whitewashed cottages and gorgeous beaches, Paternoster makes for a perfect place to leave your footprints behind in the sand. More information…

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious 'chill' appeal.

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious ‘chill’ appeal.

Credit: www.whatsonincapetown.com

2. Hartbeespoort, Magaliesberg

Are you in Gauteng and wanting something laid back but close by? We’d recommend the Hartbeespoort and its country markets, cafes and restaurants, water sports, mountain trails, golf, wildlife encounters, canopy tours, hot-air balloon rides and the aerial cable way. It’s definitely a getaway with options: choose to keep yourselves busy or simply enjoy doing very little. More information…

It's difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

It’s difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

Credit: www.functionvenues.co.za

3. Clarens, Eastern Free State Highlands

Clarens is a fairy-tale town waiting to be discovered. It’s known as the ‘Jewel of the Free State’ because of its wildlife, golden mountains, winding rivers and flower-strewn gardens. It’s also an artistic haven with lots of quirky spots to visit. More information…

One of Clarens' enexpected treasures.

One of Clarens’ unexpected treasures.

Credit: www.theclarens.co.za

4. Parys, Northern Free State

As chilled as Clarens is, if your partner’s style is more leaping out of planes, consider Parys! Mind you, although it’s big on adventure, it’s still a small town and you can definitely make equally happy memories there if you are after something more relaxed like chilling on the riverbanks! More information…

Stroll along the Vall River in Parys.

Stroll along the Vaal River in Parys.

Credit: www.getaway.co.za

5. Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Dullstroom is definitely not dull! It might appeal more to nature lovers than those looking for ritzy holidays though as it’s a slice of paradise with little more to do than relish the mountain and wild-flower vistas. You might have heard about it being a popular trout fishing destination, but given trout fishing is a winter activity, you’re pretty safe that your partner won’t have divided loyalties. More information…

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

Credit: www.tripadvisor.co.za

6. Knysna, Garden Route

Whether you prefer opulence or rustic stays, Knysna is a great option! Take your time getting there by meandering along the stunning Garden Route, and be rewarded with a peaceful lagoon, beautiful beaches, thick mountain forests, good weather and a tangible sense of ‘holiday’. More information…

Knysna lagoon.

Knysna lagoon.

Credit: www.africanbreezeguesthouse.co.za

7. Bela-Bela, Waterberg

Do we need to say more than ‘hot springs’ when it comes to the Limpopo’s Bela-Bela (previously known as Warmbaths)? The perfect spot to soak away any stress from the work week or a long-haul flight. More information…

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Credit: www.roomsforafrica.com

8. Hermanus, Overberg

Hermanus is a wonderful option for the romantic at heart and those who enjoy a little indulgence. If spending a day pottering the Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route, enjoying a seaside candlelit dinner and then taking a gentle stroll on the beach is your idea of heaven, Hermanus will be your home away from home. More information…

If you can't get in to Hermanus this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

If Hermanus isn’t on the cards this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

9. Langebaan, West Coast

Langebaan is a hot favourite. It’s a place to unwind from the whirlwind of everyday busy-ness. The calm lagoon, soothing bird calls and untouched flora of the West Coast National Park make it an idyllic nature haven. But it’s not a completely sleepy town so don’t rest on your laurels. Places like Strandlopers beach restaurant get really busy so make sure you get in early! More information…

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Credit: www.high-five.co.za

10. Margate, Hibiscus Coast

Thinking subtropical, Hawaii-wannabe beach vibes where you only wear a cozzie and flip-flops for your special out-of-town break? Margate will be spot on. And if its palm-speckled beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters become too much for you to bear, there are lots of great shops, art galleries, craft markets, pubs and quaint restaurants to visit. More information…

Margate Beach.

Margate Beach.

Credit: www.booktravel.travel

And if your main squeeze happens to be a foodie, there are so many delicious delights to discover that will make him or her weak at the knees. What about a lazy lunch or dinner at Moyo in Durban? Or The Test Kitchen in Cape Town?

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

Credit: www.planyourholiday.co.za

Whatever your pleasure, head to South Africa and get romantic! For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African getaway, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

Feel like you’re flying at Blyde River Canyon

At Blyde River, the world’s third largest canyon, the drops are so extreme that they’ll literally take your breath away. There are few other places in the world where you’ll experience the same exhilarating sense of freedom and expansiveness.

Aptly known as the ‘Panorama Route’, this versatile holiday destination has some of the most dramatic and overwhelming scenery South Africa has to offer like natural wonders God’s Window, the Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.

Blyde_River_Canyon_three_rondavels_media_1061550790
Credit: www.thewildernesssociety.com
The Three Rondawels, also known as the Three Sisters.

1
The stunning Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
Credit: www.sa-venues.com

It’s no small wonder that some of Tripadvisor’s top contributors have described the region as “Breathtakingly beautiful, a must do!!” and “One of the best views in the world”.

Depending on whether you feel energetic, up for an adventure, or would prefer to amble, there are many ways to experience this awesome landscape. You can hike (for hours or for days), you can take a helicopter or hot air balloon ride, you can do some fly-fishing or white water rafting, you can cycle, you can horse-ride, you can explore in a 4×4 or on a quad bike, you can abseil, or you can just meander.

1 (1)
A gentler way to see the sights.
Credit: www.sa-venues.com

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Blyde River Canyon white river rafting for the more adventurous at heart.
Credit: www.south-african-hotels.com

Guests often say that the Blyde River Canyon has a timeless quality about it, and they’d be right. It’s apparently the exact point where, around 200 million years ago, the ancient super continent, Gondwanaland, broke apart and Madagascar and Antarctica separated from Africa!

The Reserve is also close to the Kruger National Park so, if you’re pressed for time or just want to add to your experience, you could combine your trip with some bigger game watching.

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is filled with native flora (over 1,000 species many of which are endemic to the region) and fauna that draws thousands of visitors each year of its own accord. And you might even spot a rare Taita Falcon.

de615e05c85804a04ca9ae252eb0c180Blyde River Canyon Reserve is known for its abundant native flora.
Credit: www.ispotnature.org

If you are inspired by nature and enjoy holidays where you get swept away by magnificent landscapes, make sure Blyde River Canyon Reserve is at the top of your travel list.  Filled with historical, geological and bio-diverse wonders, it definitely won’t disappoint.

For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

Feel like you’re flying at Blyde River Canyon

At Blyde River, the world’s third largest canyon, the drops are so extreme that they’ll literally take your breath away. There are few other places in the world where you’ll experience the same exhilarating sense of freedom and expansiveness.

Aptly known as the ‘Panorama Route’, this versatile holiday destination has some of the most dramatic and overwhelming scenery South Africa has to offer like natural wonders God’s Window, the Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.

Blyde_River_Canyon_three_rondavels_media_1061550790
Credit: www.thewildernesssociety.com
The Three Rondawels, also known as the Three Sisters.

1
The stunning Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
Credit: www.sa-venues.com

It’s no small wonder that some of Tripadvisor’s top contributors have described the region as “Breathtakingly beautiful, a must do!!” and “One of the best views in the world”.

Depending on whether you feel energetic, up for an adventure, or would prefer to amble, there are many ways to experience this awesome landscape. You can hike (for hours or for days), you can take a helicopter or hot air balloon ride, you can do some fly-fishing or white water rafting, you can cycle, you can horse-ride, you can explore in a 4×4 or on a quad bike, you can abseil, or you can just meander.

1 (1)
A gentler way to see the sights.
Credit: www.sa-venues.com

high_five_[640x480](3)
Blyde River Canyon white river rafting for the more adventurous at heart.
Credit: www.south-african-hotels.com

Guests often say that the Blyde River Canyon has a timeless quality about it, and they’d be right. It’s apparently the exact point where, around 200 million years ago, the ancient super continent, Gondwanaland, broke apart and Madagascar and Antarctica separated from Africa!

The Reserve is also close to the Kruger National Park so, if you’re pressed for time or just want to add to your experience, you could combine your trip with some bigger game watching.

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is filled with native flora (over 1,000 species many of which are endemic to the region) and fauna that draws thousands of visitors each year of its own accord. And you might even spot a rare Taita Falcon.

de615e05c85804a04ca9ae252eb0c180Blyde River Canyon Reserve is known for its abundant native flora.
Credit: www.ispotnature.org

If you are inspired by nature and enjoy holidays where you get swept away by magnificent landscapes, make sure Blyde River Canyon Reserve is at the top of your travel list.  Filled with historical, geological and bio-diverse wonders, it definitely won’t disappoint.

For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

Add these experiences to your bucket list

Is your New Year’s resolution to finally tick a South African safari off your bucket list in 2015? But did you know, there’s so much more South Africa has to offer? Here’s our selection of ten hidden gems we think are bucket list worthy!

One – The Garden Route

If you enjoy coastal drives and wine, you will not want to miss the Garden Route, a popular driving route and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Bramon Wine Estate is the only Wine Estate located in the middle of The Garden Route. The restaurant is set in the vineyards and overlooks the Tsitsikamma Mountains and The Elephant Sanctuary. The wine menu compliments the menu of tapas, local cheeses, oysters, meat and freshly baked homemade bread. If you’re looking for a relaxed, long lunch after driving along the Garden Route – the atmosphere at Bramon Wine Estate is sure to help you unwind.

Bramon Wine Estate

Image source: Silke Marshall Marketing

Two – Matjiesfontein

Do you consider yourself a history buff and nostalgic for years gone by? Matjiesfontein is a tiny Victorian town in the Little Karoo that has been designated a national monument. Take a stroll through the main street and admire the white-washed houses or head to the Lord Milner Hotel for a drink. Rumour has it that the hotel is haunted! The town of Matjiesfontein offers travellers a unique experience and is a well-kept secret, but we predict for not much longer.

Lord_Milner_Hotel_at_Matjiesfontein (1)

Three – Balloon Safari

When you think of Safari, you think of South Africa. But, what if you could experience the magic of safari above the treetops? Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris has been in operation for over 30 years and gives visitors a unique vantage point where they can spot the big five while gliding over Cradle of Humankind and Magaliesberg Mountain range. After the safari, there is an English breakfast in the clubhouse for guests to share stories. The safari is a 45 minute drive from Johannesburg and well worth the journey.

Web-Top-Pic3-080126-088
Image source: Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris

Four – The Otter Trail

South African landscape is truly breathtaking. The Otter Trail in the Garden Route is a must see for anyone who loves hiking or adventure activities. This is a 5 day adventure, spanning 42km of trails on cliff tops along the shorelines; the diverse scenery along the way makes the journey somewhat more bearable. Tip: Take a camera and capture the beauty for your holiday album!

Otter_Trail01

Five – Nature’s Valley

Nature’s Valley in the Western Cape is at the end of the famous five-day Otter Trail, but hikers first have to cross the mouth of the lagoon, which is the dominant feature of this secluded coastal village, before they can call it a day. The town is aptly named as it is completely surrounded by indigenous forest and the Garden Route National Park. A great outing is the coastal walk to the nearby Salt River mouth, where you can enjoy complete privacy and seclusion.

Nature's_Valley_(S._Africa)_2

Six – The Big Five Marathon

The Big Five Marathon is a must if your New Year’s resolution is to get fit and travel more. Highlighted by Forbes Magazine as one the Top 10 marathons worth travelling for, there will be nothing separating you from running alongside the African wildlife. The next Big Five Marathon will take place on 20 June 2015. The 42Km marathon starts and finishes at Lakeside Lodge located on the Garden Route.

SouthAfrica_BigFiveMarathon_RunnersDownHill_039

Seven – Sardine Run

Around June each year, word gets out along the KwaZulu-Natal coast that the sardines have arrived. They’ve swum for more than 30 days from their spawning ground in the Cape to reach South Africa’s east coast. The annual sardine run sees massive shoals of the little silver fish journey from the cold waters of the Cape to the warmer tides of KwaZulu-Natal. The fish attract the attention of whales, dolphins, sharks and sea birds, leading to well-documented feeding frenzies.

Sardines_-_鰯(いわし) (1)

Eight – Zip lining in Drakensberg

Have you ever wanted to experience what it feels like to get a bird’s eye view of the greenest forest? The Drakensberg Canopy Tours runs zip line tours rain, hail or shine in the Blue Grotto Forest. The location is home to over 150 species of birds including the rare Bush Blackcap.

48bf697f444dc7a22c1461431c072268

Image source: Drakensberg Canopy Tours

Nine – The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town has taken out first place for the prestigious Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant awards held in November 2014. It is also featured on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants

This dining hot spot is a hit amongst local and international travellers. The menu is South African inspired with a sprinkling of Asian flair. Dishes range from grilled scallop with miso and shiitake to seared springbok in turnip milk and fermented red cabbage. The Test Kitchen has taken out the Eat Out award for the third year in a row. Needless to say, if you want to book a table at this award winning restaurant, be sure to allow for a month’s waiting list.

large31

Ten – Soweto Township

The township of Soweto in Johannesburg was a key point during the struggle against apartheid. Former president Nelson Mandela and Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu both lived in Vilakazi Street in Orlando, making it the only street in the world that was home to two Nobel Peace laureates. The Mandela home is a now museum open to the public. Visitors to Soweto can also go to the Hector Pieterson Museum, a memorial erected to pay homage to students who died during the struggle.

orlando__620_400_80_s
For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

Add these experiences to your bucket list

Is your New Year’s resolution to finally tick a South African safari off your bucket list in 2015? But did you know, there’s so much more South Africa has to offer? Here’s our selection of ten hidden gems we think are bucket list worthy!

One – The Garden Route

If you enjoy coastal drives and wine, you will not want to miss the Garden Route, a popular driving route and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Bramon Wine Estate is the only Wine Estate located in the middle of The Garden Route. The restaurant is set in the vineyards and overlooks the Tsitsikamma Mountains and The Elephant Sanctuary. The wine menu compliments the menu of tapas, local cheeses, oysters, meat and freshly baked homemade bread. If you’re looking for a relaxed, long lunch after driving along the Garden Route – the atmosphere at Bramon Wine Estate is sure to help you unwind.

Bramon Wine Estate

Image source: Silke Marshall Marketing

Two – Matjiesfontein

Do you consider yourself a history buff and nostalgic for years gone by? Matjiesfontein is a tiny Victorian town in the Little Karoo that has been designated a national monument. Take a stroll through the main street and admire the white-washed houses or head to the Lord Milner Hotel for a drink. Rumour has it that the hotel is haunted! The town of Matjiesfontein offers travellers a unique experience and is a well-kept secret, but we predict for not much longer.

Lord_Milner_Hotel_at_Matjiesfontein (1)

Three – Balloon Safari

When you think of Safari, you think of South Africa. But, what if you could experience the magic of safari above the treetops? Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris has been in operation for over 30 years and gives visitors a unique vantage point where they can spot the big five while gliding over Cradle of Humankind and Magaliesberg Mountain range. After the safari, there is an English breakfast in the clubhouse for guests to share stories. The safari is a 45 minute drive from Johannesburg and well worth the journey.

Web-Top-Pic3-080126-088
Image source: Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris

Four – The Otter Trail

South African landscape is truly breathtaking. The Otter Trail in the Garden Route is a must see for anyone who loves hiking or adventure activities. This is a 5 day adventure, spanning 42km of trails on cliff tops along the shorelines; the diverse scenery along the way makes the journey somewhat more bearable. Tip: Take a camera and capture the beauty for your holiday album!

Otter_Trail01

Five – Nature’s Valley

Nature’s Valley in the Western Cape is at the end of the famous five-day Otter Trail, but hikers first have to cross the mouth of the lagoon, which is the dominant feature of this secluded coastal village, before they can call it a day. The town is aptly named as it is completely surrounded by indigenous forest and the Garden Route National Park. A great outing is the coastal walk to the nearby Salt River mouth, where you can enjoy complete privacy and seclusion.

Nature's_Valley_(S._Africa)_2

Six – The Big Five Marathon

The Big Five Marathon is a must if your New Year’s resolution is to get fit and travel more. Highlighted by Forbes Magazine as one the Top 10 marathons worth travelling for, there will be nothing separating you from running alongside the African wildlife. The next Big Five Marathon will take place on 20 June 2015. The 42Km marathon starts and finishes at Lakeside Lodge located on the Garden Route.

SouthAfrica_BigFiveMarathon_RunnersDownHill_039

Seven – Sardine Run

Around June each year, word gets out along the KwaZulu-Natal coast that the sardines have arrived. They’ve swum for more than 30 days from their spawning ground in the Cape to reach South Africa’s east coast. The annual sardine run sees massive shoals of the little silver fish journey from the cold waters of the Cape to the warmer tides of KwaZulu-Natal. The fish attract the attention of whales, dolphins, sharks and sea birds, leading to well-documented feeding frenzies.

Sardines_-_鰯(いわし) (1)

Eight – Zip lining in Drakensberg

Have you ever wanted to experience what it feels like to get a bird’s eye view of the greenest forest? The Drakensberg Canopy Tours runs zip line tours rain, hail or shine in the Blue Grotto Forest. The location is home to over 150 species of birds including the rare Bush Blackcap.

48bf697f444dc7a22c1461431c072268

Image source: Drakensberg Canopy Tours

Nine – The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town has taken out first place for the prestigious Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant awards held in November 2014. It is also featured on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants

This dining hot spot is a hit amongst local and international travellers. The menu is South African inspired with a sprinkling of Asian flair. Dishes range from grilled scallop with miso and shiitake to seared springbok in turnip milk and fermented red cabbage. The Test Kitchen has taken out the Eat Out award for the third year in a row. Needless to say, if you want to book a table at this award winning restaurant, be sure to allow for a month’s waiting list.

large31

Ten – Soweto Township

The township of Soweto in Johannesburg was a key point during the struggle against apartheid. Former president Nelson Mandela and Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu both lived in Vilakazi Street in Orlando, making it the only street in the world that was home to two Nobel Peace laureates. The Mandela home is a now museum open to the public. Visitors to Soweto can also go to the Hector Pieterson Museum, a memorial erected to pay homage to students who died during the struggle.

orlando__620_400_80_s
For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

Celebrating NYE and NYD in South Africa

New Year’s is an event celebrated around the world. South Africans celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day similar to Australians. Both countries celebrate the last day of the year with parties and fireworks and New Year’s Day is generally spent outdoors.

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Cape Town you can ring in the New Year on top of Table Mountain. Pack a picnic and grab some friends and you can party until 12:30 a.m. This vantage point gives an unobstructed view of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront fireworks. The party continues on January 1, with thousands heading to local beaches.

5581_gallery
Image source: A luxury travel blog- Table Mountain Sunset

VAWaterfront-capeletting
Image source: A luxury travel blog – V&A Waterfront

There are many popular nightclubs and areas to watch fireworks in Durban, Johannesburg and Victoria Falls to bring in the New Year.

South Africans love a good ‘jol’ and New Year’s Day is a public holiday in South Africa, making it the perfect opportunity to celebrate the beginning of 2015 and recover from the festivities the night before.

New Year’s Day occurs during the balmy African summer and is often enjoyed outdoors. The many beaches of the Eastern Cape and Western Cape are buzzing with locals and international visitors who want to start the year off with a dip in the ocean and relaxing with friends and family on the sand. This can lead to delays in finding a parking spot or getting a bite to eat along the coast.

2417710541_16e5f8eda0_o (1)Image source: Hobie Beach – Port Elizabeth

Many South Africans spend New Year’s Day having a braai (barbecuing) with friends and families in the gardens, parks and beaches of the country (where permitted). The warm, sunny summers of the country make it a perfect way to celebrate the first day of the New Year.

Braaing-on-the-plains
Image source: Yuppie Chef

Whatever you end up doing on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, South Africa Tourism Australia and New Zealand wish you a happy holiday season.

Celebrating NYE and NYD in South Africa

New Year’s is an event celebrated around the world. South Africans celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day similar to Australians. Both countries celebrate the last day of the year with parties and fireworks and New Year’s Day is generally spent outdoors.

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Cape Town you can ring in the New Year on top of Table Mountain. Pack a picnic and grab some friends and you can party until 12:30 a.m. This vantage point gives an unobstructed view of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront fireworks. The party continues on January 1, with thousands heading to local beaches.

5581_gallery
Image source: A luxury travel blog- Table Mountain Sunset

VAWaterfront-capeletting
Image source: A luxury travel blog – V&A Waterfront

There are many popular nightclubs and areas to watch fireworks in Durban, Johannesburg and Victoria Falls to bring in the New Year.

South Africans love a good ‘jol’ and New Year’s Day is a public holiday in South Africa, making it the perfect opportunity to celebrate the beginning of 2015 and recover from the festivities the night before.

New Year’s Day occurs during the balmy African summer and is often enjoyed outdoors. The many beaches of the Eastern Cape and Western Cape are buzzing with locals and international visitors who want to start the year off with a dip in the ocean and relaxing with friends and family on the sand. This can lead to delays in finding a parking spot or getting a bite to eat along the coast.

2417710541_16e5f8eda0_o (1)Image source: Hobie Beach – Port Elizabeth

Many South Africans spend New Year’s Day having a braai (barbecuing) with friends and families in the gardens, parks and beaches of the country (where permitted). The warm, sunny summers of the country make it a perfect way to celebrate the first day of the New Year.

Braaing-on-the-plains
Image source: Yuppie Chef

Whatever you end up doing on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, South Africa Tourism Australia and New Zealand wish you a happy holiday season.

Whale watching season in South Africa

Whale watching is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Hermanus is a popular seaside holiday town in Walker Bay in the Western Cape, a 90-minute drive from Cape Town and is one of the best spots to catch a glimpse of these amazing animals. Each spring, from as early as July through to October, southern right whales visit this area in large numbers to mate and calve.

Whale watching

Image source: Southern Right Charters

You can see southern right whales from the cliff path in Hermanus or hop on a boat and let the whales come to you. southern right whales got their name because they were considered the ‘right’ whales to hunt as they are slow moving and surface often to breathe. Ever since hunting was banned in South African waters in 1979 their population has grown around 7% a year.

Whale-close-up

Image source: Southern Right Charters

One way to identify a southern right whale is by checking its spout (the way in which it blows water out of its blow hole). Because a southern right has two blow holes, the spray of water it expels is V-shaped. By contrast, a humpback whale has a single spout that rises 4m into the air.

You can experience whale behaviour first hand. Look on in fascination as they breach (jump out of the water), ‘spyhop’ (stick their heads out of the water as if to see what is going on) and tail-lob (slap their tails on the water). Scientists speculate that these are forms of non-vocal communication.

Humpback-whale-breach-2

Image source: Southern Right Charters

Another marine spectacle is the sardine run, which normally takes place from around May to July, along the east coast. This is when shoals of sardine (a kind of pilchard) migrate northwards. The fish gather in shoals for protection and are herded into giant ‘bait balls’ by marine predators like dolphins, sharks and birds, as well as Bryde’s whales, which prefer temperate waters.

Sardines_-_鰯(いわし)

Image source: Southern Right Charters

Humpbacked whales are commonly sighted off the warmer KwaZulu-Natal shores. Although they have not been observed feeding on sardines, they also migrate up the coast during the winter months.

1.-SR-Whale-and-boat-feature-21-e1402402129387

Image source: Southern Right Charters

Come to South Africa and experience some wonderful whale watching from a number of different locations along the coast. It provides for wonderful photographs, fantastic experiences and fun for the whole family.
To book a whale watching tour with Southern Right Charters, phone +27(0)82 353 0550 or send an email to info@southernrightcharters.co.za.

Whale watching season in South Africa

Whale watching is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Hermanus is a popular seaside holiday town in Walker Bay in the Western Cape, a 90-minute drive from Cape Town and is one of the best spots to catch a glimpse of these amazing animals. Each spring, from as early as July through to October, southern right whales visit this area in large numbers to mate and calve.

Whale watching

Image source: Southern Right Charters

You can see southern right whales from the cliff path in Hermanus or hop on a boat and let the whales come to you. southern right whales got their name because they were considered the ‘right’ whales to hunt as they are slow moving and surface often to breathe. Ever since hunting was banned in South African waters in 1979 their population has grown around 7% a year.

Whale-close-up

Image source: Southern Right Charters

One way to identify a southern right whale is by checking its spout (the way in which it blows water out of its blow hole). Because a southern right has two blow holes, the spray of water it expels is V-shaped. By contrast, a humpback whale has a single spout that rises 4m into the air.

You can experience whale behaviour first hand. Look on in fascination as they breach (jump out of the water), ‘spyhop’ (stick their heads out of the water as if to see what is going on) and tail-lob (slap their tails on the water). Scientists speculate that these are forms of non-vocal communication.

Humpback-whale-breach-2

Image source: Southern Right Charters

Another marine spectacle is the sardine run, which normally takes place from around May to July, along the east coast. This is when shoals of sardine (a kind of pilchard) migrate northwards. The fish gather in shoals for protection and are herded into giant ‘bait balls’ by marine predators like dolphins, sharks and birds, as well as Bryde’s whales, which prefer temperate waters.

Sardines_-_鰯(いわし)

Image source: Southern Right Charters

Humpbacked whales are commonly sighted off the warmer KwaZulu-Natal shores. Although they have not been observed feeding on sardines, they also migrate up the coast during the winter months.

1.-SR-Whale-and-boat-feature-21-e1402402129387

Image source: Southern Right Charters

Come to South Africa and experience some wonderful whale watching from a number of different locations along the coast. It provides for wonderful photographs, fantastic experiences and fun for the whole family.
To book a whale watching tour with Southern Right Charters, phone +27(0)82 353 0550 or send an email to info@southernrightcharters.co.za.

Affordable Adventure in South Africa

South Africa is a paradise for those travellers with a thirst for adventure! There are plenty of outdoor activities in South Africa which will get the heart racing, but won’t break the bank. You can hike a mountain, surf a wave, dive with sharks, take on South African mountain bike trails or even jump off the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at The Big Rush.

When visiting South Africa there is no excuse not to take a good long walk. No matter where you are staying there is ample opportunity to get out there and get moving. In Mpumalanga, some of the best hiking on offer is in and around the scenic Blyde River Canyon and along the Panorama Route (which offers lots of great adventure activities too). The Free State is another great place for hiking and there are several world class trails on offer in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. If you’re in the Western Cape then hot-footing it up Table Mountain is always an option – with a cable car offering amazing views of Cape Town you could always treat yourself on the way down! Another great hiking option is the Garden Route’s Dolphin Trail with its gorgeous views of the coastline and mountain ranges.

Mpumalanga Trail

Image source: SA-Venues

Surfing is an integral part of South African culture. From the colder Cape waters to the tropical warmth of the Indian Ocean, young and old mingle at popular surf spots from early morning until sundown with a single goal – to pick the best wave of the day and ride it all the way to the beach. Big wave surfers should try their skills at extreme surf spots such as Kalk Bay Reef on False Bay and Dungeons in Hout Bay. Such sections of water should, however, only be attempted by those who know what they are doing.

For the beginners, South Africa offers a choice of surf schools that will have you out there in the breakers, learning to surf and making new friends in no time at all! If you’re a beginner looking to catch your first wave in Durban, don’t look past Addlington Beach for small, consistent waves guaranteed to ignite your passion for surfing.

south-africa-surfing

Image source: TNT Magazine

The Big Rush Rope Swing asks adventurous travellers to take a leap of faith by stepping off the roof of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Big Rush is listed in the Guinness World Records as the tallest swing in the world! Those brave enough to take the leap will face a 60 metre free-fall at a speed of over 120kph. If you’re travelling with people who don’t share your taste for adventure, they can watch your jump from the comfort of the Base café in the Big Rush Stadium Shop – so don’t forget to smile for the cameras! The stadium jump will set you back $74 (AUD) and takes place daily from 9am – 5pm, weather permitting.

Enjoy the experience of a lifetime and go shark cage diving on the Great White Trail. Great White sharks are seasonal animals so get yourself to the Cape in June, July or August where you’ll not only have an excellent chance of seeing them, but also to watch them breach and hunt. SharkExplorers in Cape Town offer a range of cage diving experiences. The White Shark adventures take place in False Bay, which is a 30-minute drive from Cape Town and is a Great White Shark hotspot. The tour starts out before dawn and as well as getting close and personal with these sharks in their natural habitat you’ll be able to witness the power of the Great White Sharks as they launch themselves out of the water to catch their prey safely from the SharkExplorers boat. Prices start from $158 (AUD).

Great White Shark Diving

In South Africa, mountain biking has become a tremendously popular sport, and there are new trails opening up all the time. There are some timeless classics though, in glorious surroundings. The Cederberg Mountains and the Drakensberg within sight of whales at De Hoop or in the forests of Knysna. Mountain biking in South Africa offers options for all skill and fitness levels. Some trails and tracks are as short as 10km, while others, like the magnificent Cederberg Mountain Bike Trail in Clanwilliam, can take you over 170 km of the most dramatic rocky terrain you could wish for!

These affordable adventure activities are bound to make your South African trip a memorable one.

Affordable Adventure in South Africa

South Africa is a paradise for those travellers with a thirst for adventure! There are plenty of outdoor activities in South Africa which will get the heart racing, but won’t break the bank. You can hike a mountain, surf a wave, dive with sharks, take on South African mountain bike trails or even jump off the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at The Big Rush.

When visiting South Africa there is no excuse not to take a good long walk. No matter where you are staying there is ample opportunity to get out there and get moving. In Mpumalanga, some of the best hiking on offer is in and around the scenic Blyde River Canyon and along the Panorama Route (which offers lots of great adventure activities too). The Free State is another great place for hiking and there are several world class trails on offer in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. If you’re in the Western Cape then hot-footing it up Table Mountain is always an option – with a cable car offering amazing views of Cape Town you could always treat yourself on the way down! Another great hiking option is the Garden Route’s Dolphin Trail with its gorgeous views of the coastline and mountain ranges.

Mpumalanga Trail

Image source: SA-Venues

Surfing is an integral part of South African culture. From the colder Cape waters to the tropical warmth of the Indian Ocean, young and old mingle at popular surf spots from early morning until sundown with a single goal – to pick the best wave of the day and ride it all the way to the beach. Big wave surfers should try their skills at extreme surf spots such as Kalk Bay Reef on False Bay and Dungeons in Hout Bay. Such sections of water should, however, only be attempted by those who know what they are doing.

For the beginners, South Africa offers a choice of surf schools that will have you out there in the breakers, learning to surf and making new friends in no time at all! If you’re a beginner looking to catch your first wave in Durban, don’t look past Addlington Beach for small, consistent waves guaranteed to ignite your passion for surfing.

south-africa-surfing

Image source: TNT Magazine

The Big Rush Rope Swing asks adventurous travellers to take a leap of faith by stepping off the roof of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Big Rush is listed in the Guinness World Records as the tallest swing in the world! Those brave enough to take the leap will face a 60 metre free-fall at a speed of over 120kph. If you’re travelling with people who don’t share your taste for adventure, they can watch your jump from the comfort of the Base café in the Big Rush Stadium Shop – so don’t forget to smile for the cameras! The stadium jump will set you back $74 (AUD) and takes place daily from 9am – 5pm, weather permitting.

Enjoy the experience of a lifetime and go shark cage diving on the Great White Trail. Great White sharks are seasonal animals so get yourself to the Cape in June, July or August where you’ll not only have an excellent chance of seeing them, but also to watch them breach and hunt. SharkExplorers in Cape Town offer a range of cage diving experiences. The White Shark adventures take place in False Bay, which is a 30-minute drive from Cape Town and is a Great White Shark hotspot. The tour starts out before dawn and as well as getting close and personal with these sharks in their natural habitat you’ll be able to witness the power of the Great White Sharks as they launch themselves out of the water to catch their prey safely from the SharkExplorers boat. Prices start from $158 (AUD).

Great White Shark Diving

In South Africa, mountain biking has become a tremendously popular sport, and there are new trails opening up all the time. There are some timeless classics though, in glorious surroundings. The Cederberg Mountains and the Drakensberg within sight of whales at De Hoop or in the forests of Knysna. Mountain biking in South Africa offers options for all skill and fitness levels. Some trails and tracks are as short as 10km, while others, like the magnificent Cederberg Mountain Bike Trail in Clanwilliam, can take you over 170 km of the most dramatic rocky terrain you could wish for!

These affordable adventure activities are bound to make your South African trip a memorable one.

The Romance of Rail in South Africa

South Africa offers romantic rail journeys for any budget. Taking the road less travelled always has its advantages and exploring South Africa by rail could open your eyes to some amazing and unique experiences. A journey by rail across the South African countryside provides the traveller with luxurious, elegant surroundings while taking in the scenic beauty just outside the window. Add to this, exceptional dining cars, pampering and the kind of exceptional service normally reserved for royalty and you have a recipe for a truly unforgettable experience!

Each train, and their range of routes, is different. Rovos Rail, for instance, is pure nostalgic elegance harking back to the 1930’s. Royal Suites take up half the carriages, and are named after famous money-men of the British Colonial era. A 3 day safari from Pretoria to Durban will set you back $1,675 – this includes accommodation, meals and excursions as well as all beverages, including alcohol, while on board. Tuck yourself away in your small but comfortable apartment, or sit in the observation car at the back of the train and take high tea or sip a glass of bubbly as lovely scenery unfolds outside the big windows.

Rovos RailImage source: Rovos Rail

The Shongololo Express is marketed as a ‘fully serviced travelling hotel’ and offers Economy and Deluxe Sleeper packages to suit all budgets. The Shongololo Express offers a range of amazing experiences – from battlefield tours to hot-air ballooning and a score of other exotic adventures in between! The Good Hope Tour is  a 13 day journey offering guests a comprehensive view of South Africa and incorporates virtually every internationally regarded ‘must see’ sight and highlight, with prices starting from $4,280 pp.

The Shongololo Express

Image source: The Luxury Train Club

The Premier Classe Trains are another affordable, but luxurious option available to travellers. Premiere Classe offers all the deluxe trimmings offered on luxury trains and is popular with budget-conscious travellers.  The Cape Town and Johannesburg weekly train ride is $295 and includes exclusive use of a cosy private sleeper and all meals and afternoon tea in the elegant restaurant car as you pass the fabulous South African scenery.  The trains also run to other popular South African cities including Durban and Port Elizabeth. A truly unique way to travel and experience South Africa.

The Blue Train is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious trains in the world, and when you meet your personal on-board butler, experience the fine dining and superb service, you’ll know you’ve died and gone to Romantic Holiday Heaven! During peak season the day and a half trip from Cape Town to Pretoria can cost around $1,800!

Blue Train

Blue Train SuiteImage source: The Blue Train

When travelling by rail in South Africa, a must-see is the town of Matjiesfontein a beautifully preserved Victorian village which sits on the fringe of the Great Karoo and which has been preserved as a National Heritage Site. Visitors wander around the museum, visit the historic Lord Milner Hotel and the coffee shops of this quaint little Victorian railway village in the desert. One of the many romantic stops on the rail journeys of South Africa, it’s a must-see.

Have we inspired you to take the road less travelled?

Who to contact?

Rovos Rail

Tel: +27 (0) 12 315 8242
Email: reservations@rovos.co.za
Website: http://www.rovos.com/

The Shongololo Express
Tel: +27 (11) 486 4357
Website: http://www.shongololo.com/

The Premier Classe Trains
Tel: +27 (0) 87 802 6674
Email: mai123@southafricanrailways.co.za
Website: http://southafricanrailways.co.za/premier_classe.html

The Blue Train
Tel: +27 21 449 2672
Email: info@bluetrain.co.za
Website: http://www.bluetrain.co.za/

The Romance of Rail in South Africa

South Africa offers romantic rail journeys for any budget. Taking the road less travelled always has its advantages and exploring South Africa by rail could open your eyes to some amazing and unique experiences. A journey by rail across the South African countryside provides the traveller with luxurious, elegant surroundings while taking in the scenic beauty just outside the window. Add to this, exceptional dining cars, pampering and the kind of exceptional service normally reserved for royalty and you have a recipe for a truly unforgettable experience!

Each train, and their range of routes, is different. Rovos Rail, for instance, is pure nostalgic elegance harking back to the 1930’s. Royal Suites take up half the carriages, and are named after famous money-men of the British Colonial era. A 3 day safari from Pretoria to Durban will set you back $1,675 – this includes accommodation, meals and excursions as well as all beverages, including alcohol, while on board. Tuck yourself away in your small but comfortable apartment, or sit in the observation car at the back of the train and take high tea or sip a glass of bubbly as lovely scenery unfolds outside the big windows.

Rovos RailImage source: Rovos Rail

The Shongololo Express is marketed as a ‘fully serviced travelling hotel’ and offers Economy and Deluxe Sleeper packages to suit all budgets. The Shongololo Express offers a range of amazing experiences – from battlefield tours to hot-air ballooning and a score of other exotic adventures in between! The Good Hope Tour is  a 13 day journey offering guests a comprehensive view of South Africa and incorporates virtually every internationally regarded ‘must see’ sight and highlight, with prices starting from $4,280 pp.

The Shongololo Express

Image source: The Luxury Train Club

The Premier Classe Trains are another affordable, but luxurious option available to travellers. Premiere Classe offers all the deluxe trimmings offered on luxury trains and is popular with budget-conscious travellers.  The Cape Town and Johannesburg weekly train ride is $295 and includes exclusive use of a cosy private sleeper and all meals and afternoon tea in the elegant restaurant car as you pass the fabulous South African scenery.  The trains also run to other popular South African cities including Durban and Port Elizabeth. A truly unique way to travel and experience South Africa.

The Blue Train is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious trains in the world, and when you meet your personal on-board butler, experience the fine dining and superb service, you’ll know you’ve died and gone to Romantic Holiday Heaven! During peak season the day and a half trip from Cape Town to Pretoria can cost around $1,800!

Blue Train

Blue Train SuiteImage source: The Blue Train

When travelling by rail in South Africa, a must-see is the town of Matjiesfontein a beautifully preserved Victorian village which sits on the fringe of the Great Karoo and which has been preserved as a National Heritage Site. Visitors wander around the museum, visit the historic Lord Milner Hotel and the coffee shops of this quaint little Victorian railway village in the desert. One of the many romantic stops on the rail journeys of South Africa, it’s a must-see.

Have we inspired you to take the road less travelled?

Who to contact?

Rovos Rail

Tel: +27 (0) 12 315 8242
Email: reservations@rovos.co.za
Website: http://www.rovos.com/

The Shongololo Express
Tel: +27 (11) 486 4357
Website: http://www.shongololo.com/

The Premier Classe Trains
Tel: +27 (0) 87 802 6674
Email: mai123@southafricanrailways.co.za
Website: http://southafricanrailways.co.za/premier_classe.html

The Blue Train
Tel: +27 21 449 2672
Email: info@bluetrain.co.za
Website: http://www.bluetrain.co.za/