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Blogs

A Day in Kommetjie
17 Feb 2015
 
     

After a long and busy week of travelling, arriving in Kommetjie, Cape Town, was the break I needed. This humble seaside town is rather enchanting. It draws you in with its quiet neighbourhoods, warm(ish) waters and beautiful boardwalk. If you are too chicken to take a dip in the ocean alcove, then do what I did and enjoy a coastal stroll through the fynbos and wildflowers. At the end of the boardwalk is a quaint lighthouse and one of those views that renders you speechless. It's the perfect choice for a seaside getaway, with many beach homes available for rent. I left at the end of the weekend pining after the smell of salt, seaweed and sunscreen.

 - Daniella Toscano

A Ballito Summer
10 Feb 2015
 
     

In the summertime the Durban beaches tend to get pretty crowded ­ which is the perfect excuse to take a 30 minute drive up the North Coast and spend the day on the vibrant shores of Ballito. It's fast become one of my favourite weekend­away spots.

You should definitely stop for breakfast at the Water Berry Restaurant and take a stroll through their mini­forest walk. If you're lucky you may even see the beautiful bushbuck that lives there! Then it's time to make your way down to Willards Beach and enjoy the sunshine, surf and friendly locals. Stay there for the rest of the day and return home ­hopefully with an enviable tan!

 - Daniella Toscano

Table Mountain Road Picnic
18 Dec 2014
 
     

Table Mountain Road Picnic

There is no better spot (free of charge) to pack a picnic for, gather a few friends and appreciate Cape Town’s beauty. The ideal spot is about a ten minute drive past the Cable Car building, and you know you’re there when you park before a rusted gate, and begin moving toward the bench that is directly beneath a big tree. We came with blankets and tapas, and even though the wind blew our tapas all around while we tried desperately to save them, Cape Town shone below us in an awesome way. The sea pulls into the land so extremely that you start to wonder if you ever knew it was there. Then the harbour begins to break it up with piers, oil rigs and big ships, until the city begins. The city that is petite and limited – you respect it so much more when you notice.

- Brad Harris

Woodstock: Cape Town
19 Oct 2014
 
     

Woodstock: Cape Town

You don’t always see South Africa’s rainbow nation revelry when you travel the country. That’s why Woodstock is so attractive to the person wanting a taste of what the culture has to offer. I decided to walk down Albert Street to experience it for myself. There are the hip spots like Woodstock Foundry and Woodstock Exchange with artisan logos plastering their walls, then the little antique shops and second-hand stalls that cluster together before the Old Biscuit Mill famously attracts a young adult crowd in the suburb’s heart. But, the backstreets hold my interest. Graffiti plasters these walls, children play soccer in the streets and the adults talk on their patios. Further along, a lady cuts a man’s hair on the sidewalk while an unkempt line waits beside her, and then I’m offered pavement-special boerewors rolls. This is what South Africa’s about.

- Brad Harris

Victoria Bay
2 Oct 2014
 
     

Victoria Bay: Garden Route

I walked out along the cool pier road. I’d woken up before sunrise to try and catch a few shots of the locals hitting their favourite spot – Point Break. Tourists emerged from the seaside lodges towards my feet slapping the pier, as I realised that the sun was breaking the horizon and, still trying to cool the coffee from the bay’s café, I began attaching a longer lens to my camera. Behind me, children had already begun a soccer game on the strip of beach and a fisherman was setting up his tackle on a far-out rock. Life was beginning. I quickly found my seat on a barnacle-covered boulder and waited… the wave built, the sun was blocked and the surfers turned wild. Life was really beginning.

- Brad Harris

Winter in Gordon's Bay
23 Sep 2014
 
     

Winter in Gordon's Bay 

There is something so endearing about the sounds and smells of a fishing town. Waking up in the morning in a bed and breakfast at Gordon’s Bay and stepping outside onto white beach sand, with an expanse of silver ocean in front of it, is exactly how I wish to spend my long, winter weekends. Everyone knows the Cape waters are too cold to swim in, but oh my word, the beauty that surrounds you as you go for a walk on the beach is breathtaking. The reason I choose to visit this part of the Western Cape in Winter, is because the bustle of tourists is missing from the equation. It’s my favourite choice for a quiet getaway.

- Daniella Toscano

Woodstock
18 May 2014
 
     

Woodstock

One of my favourite places in Cape Town is the area of Woodstock. Upon first glance, one may think that it’s just a dodgy industrial area, but when you look closely, you realise it’s a suburb hidden with many treasures. From bakeries to coffee shops, to beautiful graffiti murals, this area has become the new creative hub. You will find hipsters riding their scooters and bikes to The Woodstock Exchange – either to grab a coffee, purchase a new leather wallet or rent out some of the shared office space designed specifically for freelancers in the creative industry. Living in Woodstock has led to the discovery of many thrift stores, second-hand furniture stores and encounters with a wide range of people – you will feel like you’re in South Africa and in Europe at the same time. 

- Daniella Toscano

Eerie Durban
21 Apr 2014
 
     

Seeing your city through tourist’s eyes

I went bicycling (not cycling- that requires spandex and helmets) recently through Durban’s CBD and Point area. Not a normal route for cyclists, but the beautiful buildings, colourful walls, shocked pedestrians and hidden homes made this self-navigated ‘tour’ a visual treat. The Point area is rather eerie with its new but empty developments. Veiled as a "waterfront" city, the promised land of new development in Durban feels more like a ghost town with its empty shops and half-built structures. And rumour has it that uShaka Marine World breed hammerhead sharks in the waterways. Who knew Durban could be so spooky.

- Megan Pilditch

Riomaggiore
9 Mar 2014
 
     

On a recent trip to Italy, I visited one of the five coastal towns of Cinque Terre, which goes by the name Riomaggiorre. Picture soaring cliffs, turquoise water, quaint villages, cobblestone streets and bougainvillea vines. It was the first moment that I truly felt I was in Italy. On the street corners you can buy cherries the size of apricots; you can do a 9-hour hike across all five towns; there are hidden snippets of paradise where you can cliff jump; a viewpoint with a majestic view of an ocean sunset; and some of the best food I have ever eaten.

On your next Euro-trip, you’d be a fool to miss out on this little piece of Italian heaven.

- Daniella Toscano

Cape Town – A Joburger’s Experience
5 Feb 2014
 
     

With love from Cape Town – A Joburger’s experience

Colin Ford for Cape Town Tourism

Joburger Colin Ford, a regular visitor to the Mother City, spent some time reflecting on his top experiences this time round...

Camps Bay sunsets

I love sitting and watching the sun set from Camps Bay. Having spent a lot of my childhood in Durban, it’s something of a novelty watching the sun going down over the sea. Especially since it sets so late. But apart from that, it’s really pretty, especially when there’s a bit of weather moving in. The combination of the clouds, the sea and the sun make for some dramatic evening skies.

Heart 104.9 FM

Now this is a radio station you want to listen to. The presenters chat to listeners like they’re old friends – which they often are – and the music is right up my street: a bit of R&B mixed in with some disco and classics from the late 80s and early 90s. There were many times this weekend when I said “Ah, remember this song?” and found myself taking a little trip down memory lane.

Harbour House

Ok, so the wasabi was a bit old and the waitress got our order wrong, but sitting on the edge of the ocean eating sushi with a glass of Brampton sauvignon blanc made up for all the shortcomings. Harbour House is always worth a visit. I particularly enjoy watching the seals lolling about waiting for scraps from the fishermen in Kalk Bay harbour. The closest I get to this in Joburg is watching my Labrador scratching his back on the lawn.

Another perfect day

After a bit of a dodgy start, it looks like we’re in for another glorious day in the Mother City today. Three more days of this and I’ll be ready for whatever Gauteng has to throw at me. Bring it on, I say!

Photo: Matthew Stark

Van Wyksdorp
28 Dec 2013
 
     

Van Wyksdorp.

Nightjar Travelled
26 Nov 2013
 
     

Graskop

This little town has a lot going for it, from God's Window to the original Harrie's pancakes. Graskop makes for a great base to explore the Panorama route from, and you're going to want a camera with you. Best of all, after a long day exploring, was returning to town with this sunset.  Wow.

http://www.nightjartravel.com/regions-towns/graskop

 – Erik on Instagram (@nightjartravel)

Various Viewpoints
5 Nov 2013
 
     

Various viewpoints in Durban

Durban has some of the most breath-taking views which I am in awe of time and time again! The chance to see the extent of Durban’s coastline, Moses Mabhida stadium and the harbour, whether at the break of dawn, sunset or under the stars, cannot be missed! First up is ‘The Cube’ on Innes Road which not only offers a great lookout point but also showcases the work of some local artists. The small park on Currie Road, just past Surrey Mansions, also holds the promise of a spectacular view. Lastly, and my top contender, is ‘The Viewpoint’, also on Currie Road, which presents a view of the majority of this beautiful city as well as a great picnic spot for some time with loved ones.

 – Ashleigh Bargate
Photo by Calum Oberholzer

Stilbaai
31 Oct 2013
 
     

Did you know that Stilbaai, located approx. 4 hours out of Cape Town along the Garden Route, is also known as the Bay of Sleeping Beauty? This little dot on the map became a municapility in 1965, and is now part of the Hessequa Local Municipality.

It is a classic holiday resort town with its small number of permanent inhabitants and warm coast for surfing and swimming. During the height of summer, care should be taken as many bluebottles could be blown to shore when the easterly wind is blowing. Stilbaai has a moderate climate and rainfall is almost the same for the different seasons; the temperature averages between 12° and 20° Celsius in winter and 20° and 28° Celsius in summer. 

There are several unusual natural wonders in the area such as caves and strange rock formations and a large number of eels populate the streams. Quite a few nature reserves are found in the area, such as the Pauline Bohnen Nature Reserve with various hiking routes, and the Skulpiesbaai Nature Reserve situated near the harbour. The Geelkrants Nature Reserve is situated close to the ‘Pulpit’ rock formation.

Stilbaai is also host to a number of interesting archaeological sites, including ancient fish traps thought to have been built by early ancestors of the Khoi people of the Southern Cape, and a shell landfill that has been carbon dated to around 1000 BC.

Interesting features of the area include a group of caves at Blombos cave, about 12 kilometers from Stilbaai, where artefacts of ancient early inhabitants have been found. Further evidence of later human presence can also be found at Stilbaai in the fish traps, known as vywers (ponds), some of which are still in use today.

– Gerhard Brits

A Brief History of Parys
30 Oct 2013
 
     

Parys began in 1883, when a Village Management Board was appointed and became a municipality in 1887. It is situated on the banks of the Vaal River in the Free State province of South Africa and falls under the Fezile Dabi District Municipality. The town was named after Paris because the location of the town on the Vaal River reminded the town surveyor of Paris on the River Seine.

The towns in the northern Free State were situated very far apart in the late 1800s and members of different churches had to travel great distances to participate in religious services and it was then decided by the Ring of the Dutch Reformed Church to start a congregation in this area. The first erven were laid out in 1876, and the town of Parys was born.

Because it was situated on the route to Johannesburg from the south, the gold rush of 1886 on the Witwatersrand brought life to Parys. It was ideally situated for a stopover and later developed as a trading post.  In 1905 the completion of the railway sideline to Parys meant that Parys had become even more accessible and this in led to the growth of the town as a holiday resort and industrial centre. The town was soon marketed as The Pride of the Vaal and visitors came to enjoy the inviting river banks and accommodation provided by the Village Management Board of the time. 

The road bridge over the Vaal River was opened for traffic around December 1915. As a consequence of the bridge over the Vaal, Parys was seen as a new market for farmers from the then Transvaal side. The town developed rapidly as more traffic ran through the town.

Only a handful of industries remain in town today, but the town is still popular as a weekend and holiday destination with facilities for day visitors and camping with The Mimosa Grounds as the main resort for visitors to Parys.

– Gerhard Brits
Photo by Vije Vijendranath 
www.vimagemedia.com

Hoedspruit
29 Oct 2013
 
     

Hoedspruit is a town situated on the T-junction between the R527 (the road from Blyde River Nature Reserve and Swadini) and Klaserie Road at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg in South Africa's lowveld region. The town has a pleasant climate most of the year, although summers can get a bit hot with daily averages of around 30°C, and consequently has numerous game lodges, reserves, and other nature-related tourist attractions. It is in close proximity to the Kruger National park (the Orpen and Phalaborwa gates) and is located in an area known as the 'Valley of the Olifants'.  

The town used to be fairly agricultural, but these days you will find the ‘Kamogelo’ tourism centre just after you drive in. With the wealth of things to do hidden in the surrounding bushveld, this makes for a good first stop to orient yourself.

Hoedspruit is also known for its wildlife breeding and care centres such as The Hoedspruit Research and Breeding Centre for endangered African wildlife species which is engaged in research and breeding of endangered species, especially the cheetah, African wild dog and black-footed cat.

The Hoedspruit Air Force Base was opened outside of town on 1 July 1978. 

 – Gerhard Brits

Photo by jespahjoy

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