Source: L’Agulhas, Overberg
Our planned Heritage weekend in L’Agulhas commenced with a beautiful coastal route from Cape Town through Gordon’s Bay and a lovely photo opportunity as you can see us playing around with our cameras.
At this point we headed towards Rooi-Els, Hermanus, Gaansbaai, Elim then destination. We were supposed to stop at one of the small towns along the way and have a meal but we didn’t. I wanted to eat as much seafood on this trip as my tummy could stomach, you wonder why, I have no idea either except I felt like that somehow.
After Gansbaai, we wondered if we should continue on the coastal route or just land-lock ourselves till the destination. Land-lock won, off we went on the journey till we arrived in Elim. I had never seen houses that were as cute as these in the Western Cape. We missed our turn inside the small village, it seemed there was a party or concert at the church, out of respect we had to forgo the picture.
We found our path, instead of going straight to Bredasdorp, we took the dirt road straight to Agulhas. We checked in at our very neat and fabulously designed accommodation, South Point located on main road in Agulhas within walking distance to the Lighthouse and all restaurants. On the first night we ate at Seagulls and my craving for seafood was met as well as satisfied – six king prawns cured me for the whole week.
The following day, we behaved like the tourists we were by visiting the local attractions like, the lighthouse. I did not have the inclination to climb up the stairs to get to the top of the lighthouse and my travel companions also thought nothing of the idea, once that was settled, we took photos.
After taking photos, we drove to the Southern most tip point of Africa where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Since hiking is among my favourite things to do at home and when I travel, we found a 5 kilometre path to sweat on. The route was fabulous with extraordinary views. If the featured photo doesn’t convince you, you’ll have to do the Ghost trail then share your pictures. At the start of the hike, I thought a selfie was in order.
We saw no ghosts, I promise. At the end of the hike we felt refreshed yet not ready to go back home.
After months of not running as regularly as one wished during winter in preparation for summer races, I finally convinced myself to sign up for a few races this year. This courageous effort was subsequent to a complete winter stop the previous year. At the top of my race list was of course the Two Oceans Half Marathon in March, it is popular among runners and I have done it more than once.
Also to add a little bit of spice and challenge I signed up for a historic Slave Route race. Running can be monotonous even when surrounded by like-minded people. As motivation one needs entertainment along the way, hence the choice of route. I thought to myself, motivation and enthusiasm are a lovely combination to embark on an unfamiliar route. I was looking forward to discovering more historical landmarks about slavery in the Cape Colony, of course there is the Slave Lodge Museum just at the foot of the Company’s Garden but that was not the point, instead I wanted to run around the city of Cape Town on a quest to discover how I fit into it historically.
The start of the Slave Route is in front of the City Hall which once housed the public library if you were a student when I was, this also where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech in 1990. From there you proceed towards the Cape of Good Hope Castle which is also where you collect your race number. Then quickly you incline up to Keizersgracht in Zonnebloem which where Cape Peninsula University of Technology is located, where many residents were forcefully removed.
After this point all my history education failed me completely, I had no idea where I was and what the link was to the route. Then came parliament, after that we made our way up towards the Jewish museum, I got lost again till the Company’s Gardens. Some other landmarks came up, by then I was already wondering when we going to see Bo-Kaap so that I could have a koeksister or two. To be honest, when I eventually made it to the Koesister Hill in Bo-Kaap, I was already knackered wishing to terminate my run but I am a finisher, thus abandoning the cause was not an option.BoThe route then took us to Green Point Park and through to the army base then back to town and the end location was the Cape of Good Hope Castle. I mindlessly finished the route, so exhausted I was.
My friend and I have taken to hiking together on Table Mountain after belonging to an unofficial hiking club. I suppose it was time we showed confidence in ourselves. We chose five of the most popular hikes not without the help of Mike Lundy’s book which was a gift from a dear friend.
So our first hike was, Platterklip Gorge (3-4hours), if you really want to hike around a lot of people and feel safe, try this hike. In summer it is busy from morning till sunset, on your way up or down you will encounter families with small children encouraging each other to get to the top – why encourage, you ask – it is very steep, exposed to the sun all the way to the top with a few rocks providing shelter, but getting to the shelter is a race – if they are occupied, you will have to soldier on or sit in the sun. Just as you get closer to the top, the cool breeze will cool you down.
Lion’s Head is an initiation hike for newcomers to Cape Town, or those who are looking for a manageable up and down hike with amazing views. The hike up is not too heavy on the knees, although you have to have the heart to hold on to the harness steps to climb to the top – steel steps and chains. Some of my colleagues sometimes hike with Dobsonian telescopes up to the top during full moon; it is still wonder to me how they get to the top with telescopes and their stands since you need both hands for balance. If you start late, you may find a long queue at this point; apparently there is an unwritten rule about taking turns to go up or down. Perhaps you will be lucky and find a considerate group just like we did on many occasions. Also parking is a nightmare if you start late.
Once you get to the top, you will be welcomed by the most amazing views of Camps Bay and Twelve Apostles to your left (depending on the direction you are facing, of course), to your right, Signal Hill, Sea Point and the Cape Town Stadium, further into the distance, Robben Island and Table View. Then you tell yourself, ‘This is the reason I do this’. Always bring a light jacket in summer because what your geography teachers taught you about heights rings true here – the higher you go, the colder it becomes. Going down, you can extend the hike to bypass the steel steps, let others enjoy the adventure, it’s good for their hearts too.
I was worried about getting lost on the Pipetrack, but my friend had done it many times. If you wonder where it got its name, once you embark on it, all of your questions will be dispelled since you will encounter many pipes along the route. We could not finish the hike owing to the rain and fear of getting lost, though we made it to a flat rock where we could wait it out and enjoy our snacks. While on this path we spotted Woody Ravine as our next hike.
Woody Ravine is an every day, all the time hike, even better after the rain as the surface can get a bit uneven requiring shoes with proper grip or barefoot walking if you are brave enough.Top of Table Mountain weather is a bit unpredictable, thus it won’t kill you to bring a small jacket every time you hike up. The hike is completely shaded on the way up, you need to pay attention to the path otherwise you may end up on uncharted territory.
The last one was Kasteelpoort, the hike starts out very easily along the contour path till you get to ascend leading to the ‘breakfast rock’, when you look back you see the beautiful Camps Bay beach, cars rushing up and down while up there greedily breathing in the flower scented fresh air.
Some take the route all the way to the Cable car, we chose to go down Woody Ravine for shade. That is the lovely part about these hikes on Table Mountain, at some point there is a confluence, but you ought know what you are doing otherwise it is easy to get lost.
I love the Cape Winelands though in small dosages in summer because when it is hot in Cape Town, be sure it will be a sauna in this region. What I love though about the Winelands has nothing to do with the extra heat, everyone who works here, be it a restaurants, special event coordinator or contractor, wine farm, beer tasting venue, or a tourist attraction, knows all about taking care of visitors and making them feel like their visit is the only one that matters to their bottom line.
My family and I went to visit Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm in Paarl, I had been pestering them for a few weeks now till the actual day we did it. I forgive them for their hesitance – it was summer and one wants nothing else to do during this time, but go to the beach to cool off. Yet, I could not be negotiated out of it, they sadly had to give in.
The tour commences with a video/documentary -only interesting (if you have watched Sisterhood of travelling pants, you’ll know what I am talking about) about crocodiles. After which, you are taken to the open air area where a guide awaits you with a small creature, and educates you all about how crocodiles devour their prey, how they open their mouths, the sound they make as teeth make contact after biting a mouthful of your flesh or other creatures in their food chain.
Then, a small one will be shown to you, for touching and caressing if you are not too scared to make friends with dangerous animals. My small person had to be encouraged to touch it, afterwards though, she reckoned she had assumed the skin would be hard and a bit prickly which was not the case – what a revelation, imagine we had let her be. Sometimes parents have to encourage their young to overcome their fears. Joy overcame us once she confessed to enjoying making contact with the baby croc – referred to as juvenile, I thought, ‘we did good.’
Wait, apparently these crocodiles cannot swallow underwater, should you go, ask why that is so. Big ones like this one are in the pond as you explore the area.
As things are with holidays, you really cannot do too many things in one day even when you are pressed for time or have plenty, unless your idea of a holiday is ticking boxes instead of having fun. Mine is fortunately fun and experience.
So a friend asked, “hey T, how long did it take you to save for your Johannesburg trip”, my response, not very long, but it meant identifying attractions of value to me and to my daughter who is almost a teenager.
The visit to Johannesburg was more for her than me because she was of age to completely understand, make real life connections with her curriculum and tourism (don’t judge me 🙂 ). Thus, the attractions were carefully chosen to fulfill that purpose. I lied to her about the detour to Joburg otherwise she would have crushed the whole idea because that’s really how she rolls sometimes, later she thanks me for such a great experience.
I am a little bit ill disciplined when it comes to savings, so I tried so hard to commit financially to my plans. My friend lives in Pretoria, I called her up arranged couch-surfing which was going to be great because we would kill two (three) birds with one stone, my catching up with her, my daughter too would spend time with her favourite aunt – this way, we would be on holiday and still experience the warmth of home. Best friend was happy to receive us, all is well. Now that’s minus hotel accommodation, this by no means suggests you should sponge off your friends, do not take advantage. Try to have your breakfast out and bring dinner, don’t finish things and not replace them.
Day one: Upon our arrival, we flew to Lanseria (cheaper flights), picked up the car – I was lucky, I booked on the international Europe Car website and received an amazing deal for ten days- score, I thought. I compared about five or so quotes from different car rentals and none was as good as this deal.
We went to the Apartheid museum on Northern Parkway and Gold Reef roads; we sadly underestimated the size of it, we thought we would only need two hours to see every thing, big mistake. Ideally, you need more than that to fully experience it and engage with all the different exhibits. My daughter at I are radicals of note, it was as if we planned to rock up at the door with our black consciousness Afros. Look at her.
Day two: We went to Soweto to visit Nelson Mandela House 8115 and Hector Pieterson Museum. At Mandela House our guide was Emanuel who could not be older than 20 years, such a knowledgeable tour guide, funny and really amazing. The hospitality of the vendors too on the side of the road was out of this world great. I bought my Biko t-shirt on Vilakazi Street and I wear it with such pride.
The first time I was at this museum was in 1997, then it was in shack-like containers; I was with a tourism class group, look at it, now.
I absolutely love this photo of Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela, it reminded me of my humble upbringing in the Eastern Cape. She is so beautiful, filled with humility and poise even when performing such a meaningless task of filling the pot with water there is such elegance in the way she goes about this job.
We skipped Sakhumzi because we are cheapskates, our excuse was, “It’s a tourist trap”. Instead, we went on an expedition to find ‘sphahlo’ ikota for the uninitiated. Now, I had heard so much about ikota to imagine heaven in the mouth or something gloriously divine and that I would reach nirvana after finishing it. But, it was just ok, perhaps this was not the best choice or I needed a local to guide me through the intricacies of securing the best of the best kotas, that was not to be because we were just unaccompanied tourists from another province. Here is what we got.
Day three: Time to visit the Cradle of Humankind , suffice to say, you see the evolution of men, the wonderful interactive exhibits, a lot of children soaking up on all the knowledge and the joy of play learning, so many things to do in one place! Your children will love it, so did I by the way and it was my second time though it felt like my first. So enjoyable was the experience, I only remembered to take photos as we were exiting the museum.
Then off to Sterkfontein Caves, not as engaging as the cradle of humankind. Before going down to the caves, you have to gear up, makarabha (hard hat) with a hairnet possibly to prevent you from stinking up the hat – cool idea. Before all of this, you have to wait in the queue. I could not help but feel a bit of trepidation, somehow the thought of cattle slaughter came to mind, do they feel like this when the day of slaughter has arrived and cannot be postponed by mere nervousness or do they give in long before the act, I wondered. Why was I this apprehensive about something I paid for, willingly dragged myself to, perhaps, the way people were sitting, like they had been waiting for days in that line or was I just being silly. Such were my thoughts..
Eventually our turn came, we followed our guide, I remember her mentioning 300 steps into the cave that lead you to the exterior, then it dawned on me – this is what I was nervous about – the fear of not making it to the other side – who would carry me should that be the case. Alas, the tour was amazing and very informative, they even have a sundial outside of the cave. At this location too, I forgot to take photos because I was too engaged to think of pictures and it was a bit dark inside the photos would have been ugly.
The cave has water that is believed to be very deep, once you go in, you cannot feel the bottom or surface of the river (if you like). A very brave diver died of hypothermia in the cave, but before going into the warm fuzzy light, he wrote a lovely tribute to his beloved. Now, who could be mad at such a brave man -‘me’.
We were going to stop at Hartebeespoort Dam on our way to Pilanesburg National Park and Game Reserve, but we forgot, thus we missed that spot and headed straight to the park. We spent the night at Rustenberg at the cheapest hotel – Road Lodge, we only slept there, we had our meals elsewhere – that’s budget travel for you. We also drove ourselves around the park, we arrived at 06h00 as they were throwing the gate to the other side declaring open access to all those with permits. We were the first car to drive through the park, talk about determination!
Hippos basking in the Sun
Plenty of antelopes
Gees, it was extremely hot here, therefore time to go and check out the Valley of Waves and the water slides in Sun City, it had to feel or look like a holiday just as holidays are advertised on travel magazines and television. As if holidays cost you nothing, the grand walk to the waves goes through a slots looking arcade surrounded by shops selling anything you can think of: ice cream, sweets, beach clothing, manicures and many more; as if I would subject myself to such daylight robbery – I know better than to do that – I said budget holiday, didn’t I!
Off we went to the slides and the waves. I vowed not to do the highest slide because just looking at it was fear gripping. You don’t believe me, here is proof.
I sat on top of that slide for more than 20 minutes trying to muster enough courage to carry me from top to bottom safely, I had to get down safely otherwise if I die without a will and on holiday, who could I blame. I made it. My little person allowed the adrenaline to propel her to another round of that crazy slide, only afterwards was she completely satisfied with herself. I thought, for someone who had to be coaxed to do it, you sure are brave!
The slide instructors were very unfriendly, somehow it felt like they did not need the job or were fed-up with all the questions and all those many people who converged at their lovely attraction. Perhaps they don’t understand that without us, there would be no job to moan about.
The last stop was hot Mafikeng which we did not explore because we were too knackered to do anything meaningful with our time, also, we only had two days to spare before going back to our real lives – school for the little person and work for moi.
Such was the ten day holiday!
It had been a long awaited trip to the wild coast hike which was suggested by my friend a year ago. The idea was to explore the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape without visiting our families because both of us are from the nearby villages. We were a group of six people who only had one friend in common, the organiser of the hike.
Thus, we each agreed to meet in Umthatha – the capital city of the former Transkei. After alighting from our respective long distance buses (I put this here, in case you are wondering how you can get to the hike if you do not want to drive or do not have a car). Buses will drop you off at Shell Ultra City, and from there to Port St Johns you can take either one of these shuttle buses: Amapondo Backpackers or Jungle Monkey Backpackers to Port St. Johns, of course, this has to be pre-arranged to guarantee you a seat. This information will be given to you by Jimmy or one of his guides.
View from the first overnight accommodation:
Jimmy is the head guide of the hike and a very amiable guy to have around. He is well-known among the people of the villages you will subsequently sleep at as you progress with your hike. The five day four nights hike is along the coast from start to finish – I dare say, nothing is as breathtaking as seeing cattle lazying along the beach listening to the hum of the waves crushing on the rocks.I lost count of all the river crossings, but I remember two off the top of my head, our first was Umngazi River and then the hair raising crossing on Mzibumvu River mouth – we were in the vlei in a tiny boat with makeshift oars and the water was flowing westwards and we were going eastwards, imagine that! The boat man assured us of our safety, who are we not to trust him.
Every overnight home-stay will feed you food that is their specialty or what is in season. Like at one of the homes our dinner was crayfish fresh from the ocean and this is also where we went for a swim in luxurious warm waters of the Indian Ocean – oh what bliss!
What is also interesting to mention is the kind of laid back life led by the villagers of this side of town, girls go the beach after their day chores to swim and catch up on the latest gossip- or so it seemed – perhaps I was just curious and envious of their lives, boys go deep sea fishing or swim or checkup on their nets deep into the ocean. They are quite knowledgeable about the preservation of the underwater resources because this is their livelihood. Divers:
I had the pleasure of chatting with one of the boys about the life along the coast, and who teaches them to dive as well as go so deep into the ocean fearlessly. Well his response, “Every little boy is taught at a young age either by their brother or someone older than they are, if they have no older brothers and so the cycle goes on and on”. Rarely do you meet a child from these villages who can’t fish or swim. I suppose if you grew up with this in your backyard, you have no choice.
In preparation for this hike, you need the most basic things, no sleeping bags because you will be provided with a mattress and duvet. Pack your lunch snacks and water. I brought biltong, oriental snacks made out of rice, some jelly beans, fruit though not for the duration of the hike but enough to last three days. Should you run out of snacks, you can always go to the nearest spaza shop (convenient store) at the village you will be spending the night. Hence you need to have at least R1000 pocket money, that way your bag will not be too heavy with food for the five days.
We could have surfed or swam in Mdumbi which was our last overnight home-stay but we were slow, we arrived a little before dinner. A bit of warning though, the distances are not accurate, some days are shorter when they are supposed to be a tad longer, others longer which was the case for Mdumbi, we had been told it would be quick and we would arrive early afternoon, that was not to be. But who can complain when one is surrounded by such amazing beauty and tranquility.
The best way to book the hike is through the wild coast hikes website, call Jimmy and make all the arrangements. The hike ends at Coffee Bay where you will be taken back to Umthatha by a shuttle.
It was an awesome hike with even better company. The other people you see there are a group that joined on the third night.
Here we are trying to ask the village man how one can buy a plot of land, and his response was, “Marry me and you shall have land in abundance”.
I love going for short drives to the Winelands region just to take in the countryside and enjoy a glass of wine in an environment that allows such relaxation. My favourite town of all three, is Franschhoek because of its lovely interesting events; from literary festival in May, Summer wines in February, and more wine events towards the end of the year – who wouldn’t love such awesomeness.
This time around though my friends and I decided to visit the Spice Route in the South of Paarl, on the occasion of my friend’s complete voyage around the sun; Fair View Farm had to be the first stop, their Beryl Back Master Tasting room is cosy enough to allow wine information to sink in while taking in the lovely ambiance of the room. Their tasting consists of eight wines, paired with the same number of cheeses. Be sure to book to avoid disappointment; their service desk people are so on the ball – they will call to find out where you are closer to the time of your appointment.
The ladies who conduct these tastings are so well informed, you leave the room thinking you would certainly be able to grow your own vines and make your own wine once you get home. Perhaps after tasting eight glasses of wine and not spitting a drop, this is expected. Ah well, it’s lovely to dream, ain’t it. In addition to such lofty dreams, I always buy a bottle with the intention of preserving it till my next visit, but I keep disappointing myself. Better resolve next time!
Well, we were not chained to that location, as soon as we could muster non staggering struts; we set off to the next place, De Villiers Artisan Chocolate. After-all, we were celebrating a birthday, if there was no cake – chocolate had to be on the menu. Here too the people conducting the tasting are so informative eating chocolate becomes guilt free, even buying it afterwards feels like a contribution to knowledge-sharing.
The Spice route is filled with activities, if you are into craft beer, there is a craft beer brewery next door to the chocolatier. None of us were keen on that, thus we opted for lunch and some biltong at the nearby restaurant. Their service was a bit slow, but the view more than made up for that shortcoming.
I have friends, and I have always had friends. Most of them are great, I connect with them because they are lovely people. Not all of them are the same though, they each come with their own set of skills to impart, shortcomings to cherish and marvel at. What is most fascinating about the interactions with people whom you aren’t biologically related, is their ability to love and care for you so magnanimously like you were a member of their family. It is extremely touching how just by merely sharing a few words here and there, a meal or whatever, can result in intense almost selfless giving.
I am very particular about who gets accepted into my circle, although some argue that friendship is a spontaneous and natural thing that occurs among living beings whether guarded or not. Yet even the wacky particular beings like me get to make friends with kind an assuming people. Age makes us weary of uncouth behaviours and cultures, and yet we still need to expand the circle of friendship.
To all my friends, near and far, thanks for being in my life. You make it that much more fun!
I suspect I have always been paranoid about money, perhaps for as long as I can remember. This probably stems from my very budget oriented dad, who would not just handout money without prior notice of a week or two at least – these lead-times were rated according to their order of importance.
If it’s relating to your education, a week’s notice would suffice, but don’t you dare get used to springing things up on him, after all, you know it’s four of you who are dependent on his measly weekly earnings. The rest of your needs (wants) would then have to stand in the long queue of items without urgency. It’s funny how I made fun of him for being such a terrible scrooge, little did I know that financially prudent parents breed similar offspring.
Although, I admit to not being as thrifty as he was and to some degree still is, bless him. I logically buy clothes when the need arises (read: dad only replenished my wardrobe every end of the year with R1000,00 – a habit I simply cannot defeat) which is every change of season – think what you will, this is by choice and is not related to my dad’s lack of fun. I have recently taken stock of my limited wardrobe, and realised with utter shock that I still have a good pair of pants purchased in 2003 along with plenty items of clothing bought around the same time or before – again choice, not frugal (think what you like).
It hit me after paying an exorbitant amount of money for repairs on my old skodoki car last month from my “rainy days” bank account which I suddenly usurped without prior notice. I need to save for future mechanical problems similar to last month’s, otherwise, I will be at the mercy of banks – an idea I no longer cherish in my ripe age. Furthermore, an image of my grey hair submerged in debt was enough to implore me to carve a way to a better and financially healthy living or face the misfortune of never having enough to cover my daily expenses or better yet, hate everyone who can go on holiday.
My desire to go against my father’s teachings has cost me plenty during my early years of financial independence. After all, it seems there was logic and lessons to take with from my father’s way of handling money. Learn from my mistakes! Small steps make bigger changes in the long run.
No one says it will be easy or fun. Take this morning for instance, the state of my bank balance after all the well-meaning debit orders were done nauseating me with beeping noises enough to induce a migraine, a feeling that left me with a long list of unanswered questions. Shouldn’t saving be thrilling, if so, why then am I not elated. Yerr, it’s like I got robbed overnight by an invisible assiduous minion. Seriously, must saving feel this heavy on the heart and soul.
Perhaps my unshed tears will one day unleash pure joy. This is going to be the longest month of counting pennies after every purchase.