Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Eastern Cape Coastal Route to Launch at Indaba 2014

Lions at Pumba
A holiday to South Africa is on most people's bucket list whether it be to achieve a lifelong ambition to go on safari or to visit the Mother City, Cape Town. Visitors travel from far and wide including the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands and typically stay for a longer period than the average two week holiday. Many visitors choose to hire a car and travel long distances to ensure they take in fully all that this diverse country has to offer. One of the most famous touring routes is the Garden Route which starts around Plettenberg Bay in the Eastern Cape and stretches for 200km down to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape.

At this year's Indaba Tourist Show in May 2014 a new route is being launched called the Eastern Cape Coastal Route. The route will cover over 900km of stunning coastline from Tsitsikamma all the way up to Port St Johns in the Wild Coast. The Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency and Open Africa formed the idea of a new tourist route to promote the Eastern Cape as a holiday destination. Many tourists may not be aware that the Eastern Cape has some of the best Game Reserves in South Africa. Stunning luxury safaris are available at Shamwari, Lalibele, Amakhala and Pumba all located in the Eastern Cape and offering Big 5 game viewing and in a malaria-free environment.

In addition the route will incorporate the Sunshine Coast a stretch of glorious beaches and popular holiday destinations from St Francis Bay up to East London.  Midway along the Sunshine Coast is the coastal town of Port Alfred built around the Kowie River which leads into the Indian Ocean.  Twice a year the Kowie River hosts annual rowing event for the SA Schools and Universities. There is a lovely marina here to accommodate the popularity of deep sea fishing off the coast here. All along the Sunshine Coast you will find coastal holiday spots like Port Alfred including Kenton-on-Sea, Kleinemonde, Hamburg and Kidds Beach.

The new Eastern Cape Coastal Route will offer a huge selection of activities for visitors from fishing, hiking trails, horse-riding on the beaches, diving and surfing. The launch of the route is coinciding with a government initiative to invest in tourism in the Eastern Cape.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where to get married...

Groenvlei Guest Farm
There is a huge choice of venues up and down the breadth of South Africa that provide some awesome settings for your wedding day. Clearly we cant tell you about all of them here but here is a sample of some of the places that will give you an idea of where to get married.

The Cape Winelands in South Africa offers stunning scenery with beautiful wine estates and majestic mountains like those found in Franschhoek. Just 17km outside the university town of Stellenbosch is the lovely Groenvlei Guest Farm set on its own grape farm and with views Table Mounatin from its terrace. The grounds of the Guest Farm provide a lovely setting for an outdoor wedding with upto 170 guests welcome. If the Western Cape is too far away then what about Oranje Guest Farm in Clarens in the Free State. This beautifully restored farmhouse has some panoramic views and grounds that will create the perfect South Africa outdoor wedding wedding photos.

If it is a beach wedding in South Africa you are looking for then Le Paradis Lodge in Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal is very popular. They can offer both weddings on the beach and at their lodge. They have two swimming pools and some lovely gardens ideal for photos. They also offer good rates for wedding functions.

For something a little different the Valverde Country Hotel in Lammermoor in the Muldersdrift area is an ideal for those looking for a wedding venue near Sandton, Midrand or Randburg. This unique Spanish style venue is located right on the doorstep of the Cradle of Humankind and offers a venue and great sleeping accommodation for the happy couple and their guests.
Oranje Gasteplaas - Clarens

Perhaps you fancy getting married on a Game Reserve. Well the Santa Paloma Guest Farm located just a short distance form Vincent in East London offers a tranquil setting with views all around of the valleys and wil running game. This Eastern Cape wedding venue are only to willing to sit down with you and discuss all your wedding day requirements. 

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Up,up and away over the skies of Cape Town

Cape Town Helicopter Flips

If you have ever walked or driven around Cape Town you will have been struck by the stunning scenery and of course the iconic Table Mountain that looks over the Mother City. Its unique position situated at the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantiic Ocean creates a dramatic coastline. From the majestic Twelve Apostle Mountains to the beautiful white sandy beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay what could be better than to see these sights from the sky.

A number of Helicopter Tour Operators now run from the V&A Waterfront offering a variety of helicopter flips over the Cape Town area. Whether you are on your own, treating a loved one or on holiday as a group there is a flight over Cape Town designed for you. The helicopter flights over Cape Town have become very popular with both locals and tourists. Some example prices for the different flight options are included below and are definitely worth the money.

Flying high above the Cape Town area its a chance to get some magnificent photos and to see the natural beauty that surrounds this city. Please note that flying over Table Mountain is strictly prohibited as the area is a national park and as such is protected. On your trip you will typically fly at an altitude of 2500 feet or 762 metres depending on the weather. Makana Aviation is just one of the helicopter operators in Cape Town and here are the different Helicopter Flips they offer:

The Hopper tour takes off from the V&A Waterfront and then heads over the city bowl and the recently built Green Point Stadium before heading over the Clifton beaches and the lovely white sandy beaches of Camps Bay. At the same time you will be able to have a great view of the Twelve Apostle Mountains before you head back to Cape Town.

Flight Duration: 12 - 15 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R1815.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R2420.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R3630.00
Per Person Rate: R605.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:30 & 16:30 Daily)

The Atlantico tour leaves the V&A Waterfront and follows the Atlantic Seaboard route down to Sea Point. The tour gives you an excellent view of Table Mountain, Robben Island and the V&A Waterfront harbour area. The trip takes you along Clifton, Camps Bay, the Twelve Apostles and onto Hout Bay which is the turning point before heading back to Cape Town.

Flight Duration: 16 - 20 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R2420.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R3225.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R4840.00
Per Person Rate: R805.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:00 & 16:00 Daily)

Three Bays
The slightly longer Three Bays trip follows the same route as the Atlantico to Hout Bay. After Hout Bay you will then have views of the famous Chapmans Peak Drive coastal road before reaching Noordhoek Beach. At Noordhoek your helicopter will fly inland and over to Fish Hoek before heading back past Kalk Bay, Muizenberg, Tokai, the Constantia Winelands, the famous Newlands Cricket and Rugby grounds, the University of Cape Town before finally heading back to the helipad at the V&A Waterfront.

Flight Duration: 24 - 30 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R3630.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R4840.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R7260.00
Per Person Rate: R1203.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:00 & 16:00 Daily)

The Point
The longest flip is The Point which takes you along the coast passing Sea POint, Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandadno and Hout Bay.After Hout Bay you can then see Chapmans Peak Drive before reaching Noordhoek Beach. The flip then continues south along the coast passing Kommtejie, the Cape of Good Hope, Dias Beach until reaching the famous Cape Point. Your helicopter will round Cape Point to follow the northern coastline back past Simonstown, Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay. Then its over the Constantia Winelands, Newlands Cricket ground, the Cape Town University before the final part of the flight back to the V&A Waterfront.

Flight Duration: 45 - 60 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R7260.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R9680.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R14520.00
Per Person Rate: R2420.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:30 & 16:30 Daily)

Terms and conditions apply to all prices and flights and you should check these with your helicopter tour operator.

For more ideas on what to do and where to stay in Cape Town visit
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why not have a Tourism Grading System for Towns

Camps Bay near Cape Town
With so much emphasis put on establishments providing accommodation in South Africa to obtain a Tourism Grading to attract clients I can't help but wonder whether a similar tourism grading system shouldn't also be applied to towns and cities. Looking around the various holiday destinations around South Africa this could only have a positive effect. It is all well and good for establishment owners to ensure they are meeting the grade in terms of visitor expectations but what about the towns. There should be a responsibility placed upon municipalities up and down the country to raise their game.

A Tourism Grading system for destinations would encourage those responsible to ensure they are continually improving the facilities and overall look and feel of the town for the holidaymaker. Presently too much reliability is left to the local Tourism Offices who have to fight for funding for basic functional needs with the municipalities. In addition these Tourist Offices have no say on what needs to be improved in their locality to encourage visitors to come back. There needs to be a far broader joined-up approach between the local
Tourism Offices and the Local Municipality. A Tourism Grading System for holiday destinations in South Africa could provide real guidance and emphasis on how and what a town could do to improve its tourist market experience.

The answer is not to put up a few signs and to have a website with some nice photos on it (although these are still needed) it is to look at your town or city through the eyes of your typical tourist. In these times of economic downturn the repeat visitor and word of mouth recommendation is key to ensuring the long term viability and success of a town as a tourist destination. A tourist on holiday at the moment expects good quality accommodation in an area with plenty of things to do or see. Good quality accommodation in a seemingly run-down or neglected area is not going to encourage visitors to return.  Places like Knysna in the Western Cape set good examples of what can be achieved.

Ideas for a Destination Tourism Grading System:

As a suggestion Towns and cities in South Africa could be graded on the following:

1. Quality and availability of amenities Eg Public Toilets, Parking, Open Areas
2. Quality of the roads
3. Quality and Safety of the beaches
4. Quality and Availability of Outdoor Activities
5. Quality and Availability of Indoor Activities
6. Quality of Shopping areas
7. Family Friendly Destination

These are just a few ideas and I am sure others will have more. 
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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Table Mountain on a glorious hot day in February

We stopped over in Cape Town this February for 5 days to take in as many sites as we could with our friends from the UK. On our penultimate day the weather in the morning was really misty and the clouds hung low over Table Mountain and Lions Head. There was a slight breeze and we remained optimistic that the weather would improve so we could go up Table Mountain later in the day. We decided to head over to Camps Bay for a late brunch and found a very nice restaurant on the seafront serving an excellent choice of breakfasts. As we sat eating out brunch the weather was improving by the minute so we decided to go for it.

We headed off in our hire car out of Camps Bay and along the short route to the bottom of the Cable Car at Table Mountain. We managed to find parking within an easy stroll of the Cable Car - making sure our car was parked facing up the road towards the Mountain so as to avoid the R300 fine if you park facing down the hill!

We headed straight to the tickets - where there was no queue! - amazing for this time of year and day. Maybe Cape Town is suffering from international visitors along with everyone else. Anyway we quickly purchased our tickets (R180 each) and went straight to the Cable Cars where once again we got straight on with no queuing. 

The trip up the Cable Car is only a short one about 5-7 minutes and the car revolves a full 360 to ensure everyone gets a view. Once up there the weather was glorious. Sunny conditions with almost no wind - we slapped on our protective cream of course!

We then went on a stroll around the top of the mountain admiring the amazing views across Cape Town, Robben Island, V&A Waterfront and over to Cape Point. There are some fabulous photo opportunities right the way around but we were also keen to spot a Rock Dassie. Rock Dassies are small rodents which live up among the rocks. After we had almost given up we spotted them. There were about 6 or 7 of them including a very small baby one. 

After quite a long walk about we then headed off to the cafe/restaurant and bought a cold drink and sat outside at one of the tables enjoying the views. Occasionally a very light cloud would come over but it was so quick and light it was actually a nice respite from the heat. 

You really cant come to Cape Town without visiting Table Mountain but it really is a case of when you see some fine weather coming in then just head for the Cable Car. It is worth considering buying a combination ticket which includes the Two Oceans Aquarioum and Robben Island and represents quite a saving if you are thinking of visiting all three Cape Town attractions.To find out more about what to do and where to stay in Cape Town visit Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Masterchef South Africa 2014 at Nederburg Winery

The Masterchef TV revolution has finally come to South Africa starting on M-Net and M-Net HD on 20th March 2014. The Masterchef series has become a worldwide phenomonen watched by millions globally and now its South Africa's turn to find their Masterchef 2014. 03,000 people entered the competition and heats have already been held up and down the country and now we start to get down to business. The contestants will go through 18 episodes of elimination rounds to find the Masterchef winner.

The three main judges will be Pete Goffe-Wood, Andrew Atkinson and Benny Masekwameng. Benny is the executive chef at MondoVino Restaurant at the Sun Square Hotel in Montecasino. Andrew is the executive chef at Piccolo Mondo at the Michelangelo Hotel. Pete is also well known for his involvement in the 'Eat Out' awards, his membership of the South African Chefs Association and for running cooking classes under the name 'Kitchen Cowboy'.

The Masterchef South Africa series will be shot at the Nederburg Wine Farm in Paarl. This prestigious wine farm will host the majority of the show in the huge auction hall which has been equipped as the kitchen. The auction hall has undergone a revamp with 20 cooking stations being installed along with over 15 tonnes
of wood, locally sourced, to cover the walls and floors.

The Cape Winelands is a firm favourite with international travellers to South Africa with stunning scenery, wonderful restaurants to eat at and beautiful accommodation to stay at. For more information on Cape Winelands Accommodation visit our website
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Cape Town's Most Popular Attractions

View from Table Mountain
Looking back each year it is always interesting to see how popular certain attractions in Cape Town are and whether they are attracting more vistors than the year before. Of course the challenge in 2014 has been the global worldwide recession which has seen tourism impacted in many different ways. During December 2014 Cape Town International Airport saw 86,903 international visitors which was a 17.7% increase on December 2003. Here are the most visited attractions in Cape Town in December 2014 with the December 2003 figures represented in brackets.

  • Number 1: Table Mountain Cableway - 032,000 visitors in December 2014 (76,398 in December 2003)
  • Number 2: Cape Point - 031,672 visitors in December 2014 (89,867 in December 2003)
  • Number 3: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens - 77,300 in December 2014 (75,784 in December 2003)
  • Number 4: Boulders Beach - 68,942 in December 2014 (56,026 in December 2003)

On the face of it these look like very encouraging figures for Cape Town and perhaps reflects on the increased global awareness of the Mother City since the World Cup was held in South Africa in 2003.

However it isnt all good news. Some attractions such as Robben Island actually saw a 7.5% decline in visitors in December 2014 equating to 3,140 less visitors. The main reason for this appears to be the ongoing service provided by those operating this World Heritage Site. The Western Cape MEC for Tourism Alan Winde has initiated discussions to look at ways of improving the service provided to tourists.

The top three tourist experiences in the Western Cape remain; The Cape Winelands, Table Mountain and the Scenery/Nature. For more information on Cape Town attractions and Cape Town Accommodation visit our website
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wake up and smell the coffee !

In these times of economic recession the tourism industry across South Africa has to be really on its toes. With rising electricity and petrol prices people are feeling the pinch and watching their spending carefully. For towns and villages outside of the key holiday destinations in South Africa the tourism centres should be targetting the major local events throughout the year that bring in key revenues to accommodation establishments, restaurants and other businesses in their area. The municipalities and tourist centres need to work closely together to see how they can use these events to promote their town for future holiday business. Creating a warm welcome to visitors to these events is vital to ensure repeat business. How often do we visit somewhere on the word of mouth recommendation of a friend or relative!

Ensuring that your town is well prepared for these events is key. Potholes are a major problem in some areas and simply fixing these up for visitors as well as ensuring the key attractions are tidy and well presented goes along way to leaving a positive impression. Tourism centres need to co-ordinate and communicate all the things that are on offer for visitors during these events. Where to eat, places to see, activities on offer and things for children to do. Simple things like having information readily available for visitors to take away with them would seem a good idea. These can also be used to publicise other local events planned. I wonder how many tourism centres engage socially on the web with visitors to their events asking them what they would like to see when they come to an event? Most big events now have their own Facebook Page and should be used as a marketing tool by Tourism Centres. Twitter is also a valuable tool to reach out to your events visitors creating a platform to easily communicate updates on the event as it gets nearer to its date.

Big events such as the Inter-Varsity Rowing Regatta 2014 in Port Alfred attract hundreds of visitors to the town bringing in valuable tourism business. The event is staged over the weekend of 03th September to 12th September with nine universities from across South Africa competing. The coastal town of Port Alfred on the Eastern Cape of South Africa literally buzzes with students and friends and relatives. For the bars, shops and restaurants these are happy days especially for those positioned along the Kowie River itself where the racing takes place. So my advice to towns and villages in South Africa out there is to wake up and ask youself are you doing everything you can to encourage visitors to your destination.
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Kosi Bay in the St. Lucia Wetlands

Traditional Old Fishing Nets still be used today in the lakes of Kosi Bay
The name Kosi Bay is actually quite misleading as there isn’t a ‘bay’ here. Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, is made up from an intricate system of rivers, lakes, an estuary and mouth, running parallel to the beach. The entire Kosi Bay area, falls under the protected St Lucia Wetlands area which forms part of a World Heritage Site.

The beach at Kosi Bay is considered to be one of the most pristine estuarine lake systems in Africa. There are actually four inter-connected lakes that are fed by the Siyadla and Nswamanzi Rivers from the south and west respectively. The “aManzamnyama” or “Black Water” Lake is also known as Fourth Lake, and is home to many hippos and crocodiles.  This lake drains into Nhlanga Lake which is also the largest lake in the system. .The four lakes form part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa.  Kosi Bay estuary is actually only 2 kilometres from the border of Mozambique.

Kosi Bay beach is amazingly quiet and the River Mouth is referred to locally as ‘the Aquarium’ due to the clear waters and the wide variety of fish living here. One of the reasons Kosi Bay is famous is because of the traditional fish-traps that are still used today to catch fish as they swim in and out of the estuary. The mouth of the estuary is a popular spot to snorkel at and where you can often see a variety of tropical fish including the Moray Eel and Stone Fish.

Many people come to the area to experience the diversity of wildlife that lives here including the loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles that come here annually to lay their eggs on the beach. The waters here are also home to crocodiles, duiker and Bull sharks.

In order to preserve this largely unspoilt and beautiful area it is important to understand how to get about. Many of the roads are pure sand and become very rough during dry conditions, while others are filled with building rubble or gravel by the community and surrounding lodges in order to provide easier access for most 2 wheel drive vehicles. Cars that are low to the ground are not recommended, as the 2 wheel tracks on the sandy roads often leave a centre bump in the road that can damage the underneath of your vehicle. The use of 4x4 vehicles on roads here is recommended as the sand can often be very thick in places. Getting to the Kosi Bay Mouth, Black Rock and other beaches, including driving around in Mozambique are best explored in a 4x4 or 4WD vehicle.

Quad Bikes are not allowed as they are off road vehicles and not licensed to be driven on a public road.  The roads that lead to the lakes, the lodges and private dwellings in Kosi Bay are accessed by the public and are therefore considered a public road.

KwaZulu-Natal is a popular hosliday destination in South Africa both for locals and for international visitors. The wonderful beaches along the coastline of KZN as well the wide range of KwaZulu-Natal holiday accommodation has people coming back year after year.
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