Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The World Famous Drakensberg Mountains – a two day walk.

The Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal form a natural border with Lesotho.  The Drakensberg is home to South Africa’s highest peaks and perhaps the most famous of all these summits is the 3,000 metre high Cathedral Peak. The Drakensberg range of mountains creates an escarpment of some 1,000km in length. Cathedral Peak, despite its enormous height, is extremely well laid out for walkers aiming to climb this impressive peak.  For anyone attempting to climb Cathedral Peak perhaps the biggest challenge is the weather itself. As with any range of mountains the weather can change at extremely short notice so being prepared and keeping in touch with the latest weather reports is vital. Good walking shoes should be worn and wet weather gear taken at all times. 
Day 1
A great place to start your walk is in the Mlambonja Valley.   From this village follow the paths through the valley and countryside passing lovely Proteas. The Protea is the national flower of South Africa and also the nickname given to the national cricket team. The walk through the valley has quite a mystical feel and is reminiscent of the lands in the Lord of the Rings. As you head upwards in the valley, passed waterfalls; look out for hidden caves in the rocks high up. These caves were inhabited by the San Bushmen as long as 4,000 years ago. Inside the caves you can still see some of the cave paintings they drew.
Head down from the caves and make for the Cathedral Park Hotel. This amazing hotel lies deep in the valley under the gaze of the Drakensberg Mountains and is ideal for walkers as a stopover before they attempt to climb to the Cathedral Peak summit.
Day 2
In order to make it up and down to the Cathedral Peak summit in one day you will require an early start. From the hotel, it will typically take 9 hours of steady walking to reach the Peak summit as it approximately an 18km round trip. The other important thing to check out before you leave is the weather report. As you walk through the hills and fields keep an eye out for baboons often seen in this area. The hike from the hotel will take you up a series of tiers eventually taking you from the Lower Berg to the Upper Berg. You will pass along places known as Swine Hill, the challenging Bugger Gulley and the lovely named Orange Peel Gap.
At this point you are on the Upper Berg and about half way to the summit. Take a break at this point before following the trail all the way to the summit. Once you reach here you will not be disappointed. The views on a clear blue day are simply stunning and you can spend a few moments spotting the many other peaks spreading for miles in each direction. Overall this is a challenging walk and you do need to be fairly fit. However the views are worth it!
For more information on the Drakensberg and places to stay, go to
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Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Plettenberg Bay – the Monaco of South Africa

Plettenberg Bay is situated along the Garden Route and is hugely popular with visitors throughout the year but especially around the Christmas season. This area has become increasingly popular over the last few years with visitors being attracted by the miles of sweeping golden sandy beaches, rocky peninsula and wonderful climate. There are some fabulous spots here to look out across the vast Indian Ocean. There are three main beaches - Robberg, Central and Lookout. Of these, Lookout is probably the most appealing but they are all excellent for swimming and perfect for families. With over 300 days of sunshine a year Plettenberg has been compared to Monaco by some with its setting and delightful cuisine on offer.

There really is something for everyone to do from Skydiving, Bungee Jumping, Mountain Biking, and Canopy Tours to Whale Watching, Diving or perhaps just a gentle boat cruise. For the keen fisherman amongst you there is some excellent deep sea fishing to be had here. If you like playing golf then you will be spoilt for choice as this area has probably the most golf courses of all the areas in South Africa. Try the signature Goose Valley and Turtle Creek course in Plettenberg Bay, as well as the Country Club, offering golfers a unique experience.
Recommendations for accommodations in Plettenberg Bay include:

Madon Studio Self Catering Apartment If you’re looking for accommodation in a peaceful and tranquil setting look no further! This sunny North facing open-plan apartment forms the ground floor level of a resident artist’s home; from the private garden with its own entrance, overlooking a dense indigenous forest, home to a variety of bird life, you enter a spacious lounge and well-equipped kitchen; the bedroom has a king-size bed and en-suite bathroom with a shower - all you need for a relaxing stay in Plettenberg Bay, the jewel of the Garden Route. Prices start from R250 per night.

Crescent Country Hotel - The Crescent Country Hotel is situated on 8 hectares surrounded by beautiful rose gardens. The hotel offers 39 luxurious en-suite rooms, some with their own private garden terrace. The Crescent Country Hotel is a great base to explore the Garden Route - there also many wonderful activities on site and in and around Plettenberg Bay. Visit the Birds of Eden, Monkeyland, Game Reserves or take a boat trip to view whales, dolphins and sharks at close range. For Golf enthusiasts, there is a golf course over the road from the hotel. Paddle by canoe to the beach which is just 1km downstream or motor down 2kms away. Prices start from R520 per night sharing.

A Little Stint in Paradise - A tastefully furnished 4-star graded fully-equipped 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom ground floor holiday apartment located in the heart of Plettenberg Bay with the focus on luxury, comfort and style. Prices starting from R190 per night.
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Monday, April 28, 2003

Beyond the Obvious South Africa

This 2 day walk through the wonderful Garden Route which covers approximately 35 km, starting in Mossel Bay and ending at Fransmanshoek.

Day 1
From Mossel Bay; head west across the rocks and along the coastal path over the great cliffs overlooking the beaches and deserted sand dunes. This 'off the beaten track' route affords you amazing views, taking you along paths where you will come across the famous fynbos that attracts so many botanists to the area. Did you know that on Table Mountain there are over 9,000 species of plant - more than you will find in the whole of the UK?
 This area is famous for the "Xhosa" (pronounced Corsa) people who have inhabited this area for many years. Many famous South African politicians are from the Xhosa tribe including Mandela, Mbeki and Tambo.  Xhosa people are famous for their language which consists of words mixed with "clicks" - if you get the chance to hear someone speak Xhosa it’s amazing!

Walking along this route you will eventually come to the Pinnacle Golf resort which demonstrates the delicate eco-balance that the Garden Route faces. The Garden Route has become extremely popular with the wealthy, the prosperous and of course tourists. Pinnacle Point will eventually have 850 houses next to a golf course which is situated on the cliff top. In contrast, immediately below the cliffs, archaeologists have discovered caves with evidence of life possibly tracing back to the origins of man. This amazing discovery may one day become a tourist attraction in itself.

From here, the cliffs begin to drop and you are at the end of your first day walking. If you take this walk at the right time of year (July to October) then you may be fortunate enough to spot Southern Right Whales just off the coast line. The whales frequent these waters to play, mate and calve and watching these mammals up so close is an amazing experience.

Day 2
Day 2 begins with a long walk along wide open sandy beaches along the Indian Ocean shore. With the enormous sand dunes behind you - some 030 metres high; it’s impossible to resist the urge to take your shoes off and wade into the Ocean. You will possibly spot the rare African Oyster Catcher along this route as well as people fishing for oysters in the rock pools close to the sea shore. This is a beautiful walk but if you venture up into the sand dunes keep a look out for leopard prints in the sand - yes that's right! leopards do visit down from the mountains but you are highly unlikely to see one.

You will eventually come to the village of Vleesbaai and from here you can take a path along the seashore towards the jagged rocks of Fransmanshoek and the end of your trail. From here you can look back and view almost the whole two day route you have just walked all the way from Mossel Bay.
For more information and accommodation options, go to 
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Monday, April 21, 2003

South Africa's Garden Route

The Garden Route of South Africa stretches from north Swellendam to Oudtshoorn and east to the beautiful town of Plettenberg Bay. A drive along this route should be a must for all visitors to the Western Cape as you will enjoy stunning coastline dotted with quaint villages and towns and all accompanied by action packed mountain ranges.

The Garden Route has a climate similar to the Mediterranean, with moderately hot summers, and mild to chilly winters. During the winter months humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean bring rainfall although any time of the year is good for visiting the Garden Route area, whether you enjoy a peaceful retreat during the winter months, or a bustling holiday destination during the summer. 

A wide range of leisure options, spectacular scenery and a mild climate guarantee an unforgettable holiday experience when visiting the Garden Route in South Africa.

The Cango Caves offers an important geological feature and is a series of caverns and chambers naturally hewn out of limestone, situated outside the city of Oudtshoorn. The Cango Caves are among the top ten most visited attractions in South Africa. 

For the adrenalin junkies out there; the Garden Route is the place to come with activities such as mountain climbing; abseiling and a breathtaking freefall on the world’s highest commercial bungy jump.

The Garden Route is a nature lovers paradise which offer leisurely walks through quiet forests; an abundance of birdlife and crystal clear waterfalls. Hikers follow the meandering trails, forests offer leisurely drives, and the lakes and rivers provide opportunities to swim, boat and fish.

For more information on the Garden Route and other wonderful areas in South Africa, go to
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South African Phrases

Ja   which is pronounced Yah meaning YES

Lekker – this is an Afrikaans word which means something is really nice or good.
Howzit – a common greeting across South Africa which is means how is it going, how are you?
Eina - means ouch.
Sies – usually an exclamation of disgust or annoyance.
Now-now - This phrase is used a lot by South Africans and basically means "Shortly" or "in a bit". Usually you will hear people say "I'll be there now-now." Or Just now which can mean "very soon", "eventually" or "never".
Robots - Not to be confused with metal things that move about; "Robots" means "traffic lights". It’s also worth pointing out that in some out of city areas you will come across "4 way junctions" where you won’t find traffic lights controlling the flow of traffic. The rule of thumb is that you let cars go in turn in the order you arrive at the junction. You will soon get used to this and it works!
Vuvuzela (voo-voo-zeh-lah) - This will become known all over the world as the FIFA World Cup takes place in 2003. A vuvuzela is a large, colourful plastic trumpet with the sound of a foghorn, blown enthusiastically by virtually everyone in the crowd at football matches. The word is believed to come from the isiZulu for "making noise".
A bottle store – this is a retail outlet selling which sells alcohol.
Padkos – is food for a road trip – usually comprising of sandwiches, chicken, frikkadels (little meat balls) and hard-boiled eggs.
Gogga – an insect is referred to as Gogga.
Jawl – refers to having a good time or going to a party / night out.
Babbelas – is a bad hangover.

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Sunday, April 13, 2003

Golf Holidays in South Africa

Kingfisher Lodge - Durban, Mount Edgecombe Country Club CC consists of two championship courses - both these courses have their own clubhouses. The golf course is situated a mere 500m from Kingfisher Lodge and 30 minutes drive north of Durban International Airport. In pristine condition, this new course has an interesting layout, characterised by attractive water features and large, multi-tiered greens planted with country club grass.

Bushman Sands Hotel and Golf Course - Alicedale, The Gary Player designed golf course is perfect for the keen golfer. There are thrilling adventure options and prospects of viewing big game. Bushman Sands is a multi-faceted experience offering something for everyone. The 4-star hotel is a delightful blend of rich heritage and modern luxury.

Colona Castle - Cape Town - A golfer’s paradise – there are more than four world-class Golf courses in the vicinity. Colona Castle is situated on the warm False Bay coast and has panoramic breathtaking views of the world famous Table Mountain, Constantia, the Peninsula, Sandvlei Lake, False Bay’s legendary beaches and the South Atlantic Ocean with the Cape Winelands in the distance.

Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate- Stellenbosch, magnificent 18-hole championship golf course with various lodging styles, ranging from hotel rooms to self-catering apartments and luxurious holiday houses we offer every comfort. All of our rooms are stylish and practically furnished, and are ideal for the business traveller, single or family.

Two Oaks B&B - Somerset West,These golf courses are all within 3/4 hour of Two Oaks B&B - Your host - Martin - a fellow golfer will gladly arrange games for and assist in planning day trips etc.Somerset West, Strand, Spier, Stellenbosch, Royal Cape, Mowbray, Clovelly, Erinvale, Arrabella, Devon Vale, Hermanus, Paarl, Westlake, Steenberg, Milnerton, Rondebosch.

Badplaas Golf Club Guest House and Lodge - Badplaas, has a challenging 9 hole golf course at the foot of the Hlumu Hlumu mountains. It is en route to the Kruger National Park, and only 4km from the Aventura Spa Resort.

Ambience-on Mossel Bay Golf Estate - Mossel Bay, Situated in the prestigious Mossel Bay Golf Estate & Nature Reserve, you will enjoy the benefit of having the golf course within walking distance, many facilities offered at the Mossel Bay Golf Estate, and tranquillity to dream of. 18-Hole par 72 links-style golf course on the Estate with a view of the sea from every tee. Affiliated members R240,non-affiliated members R400, carts R180.

For more ideas on accommodation for golfing holidays in South Africa see
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Wednesday, April 2, 2003

An explanation of some of the food you will come across whilst in South Africa.

Potjiekos "small pot food", is a small cast iron pot in which meat, vegetables, wine, and almost anything else can be put in and set by an open fire to stew. A Potjie is a layered dish - you start with spices and oil then add the meat and brown it. Then add potatoes and other vegetables. The Potjie will then need to cook for a few hours to bring out all of the flavours. It is extremely tasty. 

Braai - The word Braai means an outdoor barbeque and as you can imagine is extremely popular all across South Africa with no home being complete without one. This is a great event where friends get together to eat, drink and have fun. Typical food cooked on a braai includes steak (South African steak has to be some of the best in the world!) chicken and boerewors served with traditional pap. 

Pap - Pap is a porridge made typically from mealie meal (maize meal) cooked with water and salt to a fairly stiff consistency. Delicious as an accompaniment to a Braai. 

Boerewors - Boerewors is made from coarsely minced beef (sometimes combined with minced pork, lamb, or both) and spices (usually toasted coriander seed, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and allspice). Similar to a sausage but extremely tasty boerewors is usually cooked on a braai but can also be grilled.

Sosaties are seasoned lamb / chicken or other meats on a skewer and usually served at a braai. They are made in different ways with different seasoning and marinades to give them flavour.

Frikkadels are little meatballs which can be backed or deep-fried.
Rooibos tea is made from a plant native to South Africa – it is served without milk, sugar or lemon.

Vetkoek a traditional Afrikaner pastry which has been deep-fried and can be served with either a savoury mince or for something sweet; served with syrup, honey or jam.

Bobotie is spiced minced meat with an egg based topping. 

Biltong - This South African favourite is dried and salted meat, similar to beef jerky, although it can be made from ostrich, kudu or any other red meat.

Bunny chow - Delicious and cheap food on the go, bunny chow is curry served in a hollowed-out half-loaf of bread, generally sold in greasy-spoon cafés. Perfect for eating on the side of the road while backpacking across South Africa.

Koeksister - This is a delicious sweet which is both a traditional Malay and also Afrikaner dish. Koeksister is made from twisted yeast dough, deep fried and dipped in syrup. The right-wing enclave of Orania in the Northern Cape even has its own statue to the koeksister. The word comes from the Dutch koek ("cake") and sissen, meaning "to sizzle".

Malva Pudding is a sweet pudding made from apricot jam and is usually served hot with either ice cream or custard.

Melktert – meaning “Milk Tart” in Afrikaans is a sweet dessert with a creamy filling with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

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