I am fortunate to have travelled the length and breadth of our country and love it. We have a lot to be proud of. There is a diversity that attracts from far and wide. And let’s not be put off by things such as load shedding. Remember, we are ranked in the top ten countries worldwide in terms of delivering potable water. And do not forget our 4o plus blue flag beaches.
Sadly the pandemic has hit the tourism industry, tourism numbers are down. Hopefully, this will improve should we maintain level one of the lockdown.
I was going through some photo folders and would like to share some of my favourite destinations, some of which are a few kilometres from my front door. Others require the magic of a real road trip.
They will not be numbered as I do not have sequential favourites.
The KZN Midlands offer various routes with a great deal to discover. This includes the famous Midlands Meander just over an hour from Durban. You can make merry here with numerous eateries and a wide variety of bespoke goodies. If you end up at one of the craft beer breweries be sure to book overnight accommodation. It’s a veritable delight with crafts of every nature, fresh produce, pottery, leather goods and pottery to name a few.
Nearby you will find Midmar Dam, well known for the annual “Midmar Mile” swim. You can explore the hamlet of Underberg and even take a swim in the nearby Umzimkulo River.
I cannot leave out my fascination with the Northern Cape. Kimberley for its rich history and numerous museums.Sutherland for the telescope and clear skies as well as Kenhardt and Kakamas.Lovely towns with friendly people. The lush areas adjacent to the Orange River are also worth some time. Explore the area known as the Green Kalahari and the Orange River Wine Route, famous for its white wines, dessert wines and semi-sweet wines.
In the foothills of the Maluti mountains, you will find the delightful village of Clarens.A relatively unspoilt artistic community with a great deal to do and see. It is close to Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein, an ideal destination for a short break. Numerous eateries abound, scattered around the village square, there is even a deli if you want to self cater.
It is a very scenic area close to the Golden Gate National Park which welcomes day visitors. A drive to nearby Fouriesburg is worth doing, you can lunch at the country inn. For the more active, fly-fishing, hiking and abseiling can be arranged.
Further afield in the Eastern Cape, you will find the town of Graaf Reinet the fifth -oldest town in South Africa. A visit is worthy of a few days. The town is dotted with museums, antiques and other interesting shops. Nearby you can drive up to the viewpoint and view the rock”fingers” immortalised on canvas panel by J H Pierneef. The full collection of panels was originally displayed in the concourse of the Johannesburg Station, they are now housed at the La Motte Wine Estate near Stellenbosch.
Then you can visit the Camdeboo National Park and hike the Valley of Desolation. For the less energetic there are driving routes around the park. Accommodation is available in the tented camp. No trip to Graaf Reinet would be complete without a visit to the quirky little village of Nieu Bethesda and the Owl House.
Further South I love the Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town a, piece of paradise. Do not forget to walk the canopy boardwalk which takes you through the Arboretum. It is fondly called the “Boomslang” and offers a unique viewing point. In summer the gardens offer sunset music concerts in a beautiful setting.
I also love Cape point for its unspoilt wildness, the hidden beaches and the shipwrecks. Yet my favourite beach is Boulders, adjacent to Simonstown. Not only scenic it is also home to a breeding colony of over 2000 penguins. It’s great to be at one with the penguins, you can swim with them and explore the walkways and breeding sites.
Heading back north to the eastern side of the Johannesburg Zoo the National Museum of Military History is located. The museum has displays showcasing the various conflicts that South Africans have been involved in. These include the Anglo Boer War, Anglo Zulu War, two World Wars and the so-called Border War.
Just a stone’s throw away in one of Johannesburg’s oldest suburbs you will find Emmarentia Dam and the Botanical Gardens. Worthy of a day visit with a picnic basket. Sailing can be arranged and one can take long walks in the shade. There are various gardens laid out. They include a herb garden, a rose garden, succulents as well as an Arboretum. There are dedicated areas for dog walking, the energetic of any age can join the Dabulamanzi Canoe Club known as “Dabs”.Canoe storage is available in a secure facility.
It is a strong club with more than 1000 members and has seen numerous national and international champions within its ranks. Something to be proud of. Regularly, the gardens host an amazing market, “The Linden Market”. One can spend hours there marvelling at all the displays, food drinks etc. Pre-booking is advised as strict COVID protocols are followed. You can find them on Facebook as “The Linden Market”.
The last spot is “Kings Kloof “ a favourite destination for mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers. It is situated in the Muldersdrift area and is well run. Only water and energy drinks are allowed, catering is available at the restaurant as sit down or takeaway options. I always opt for a takeaway enjoyed under the trees at Laurentia Lake. The lake is a firm favourite among specimen anglers who come to match their skills with the wily carp. There are braai facilities as well as ablutions. Due to its location, it is not uncommon to see waterfowl, otter and fish eagles. The area is peaceful as the management do not tolerate bad behaviour. The trails and dam are only open over the weekends and on public holidays.