A day or two after waving our Christmas guests goodbye (with a sigh of relief on my part), we decided that a bit of exploring was in order. Friends had told us about the small but worthwhile Amatikulu Nature Reserve which is a mere 25 minute drive from our house. So, we packed a picnic of sorts and headed in the direction of Amatikulu … Continued
This category includes posts about featured and new attractions throughout South Africa as well as editors’ reviews of popular towns and holiday resorts. Need more info? Visit SA-Venues.com for comprehensive information about all our towns and South Africa’s Attractions.
In December, while we had a bit of free time we decided to try and see a bit of our local area … our journey took us to the coastal town of Mtunzini which is located just 90 minutes drive north of Durban. The word Mtunzini is derived from the Zulu word emthunzini which means ‘a place in the shade’ and in the history of this coastal town it refers more to the place under the milkwood trees near the Mlalazi River.
Overlooking the Umlalazi Nature Reserve, Mtunzini is a lovely coastal town, well known for its status as a conservancy and also for being a town with a safe, clean and peaceful environment. As had already spent the morning exploring the Amatikulu Nature Reserve we were in need of lunch when we arrived in Mtunzini and stopped for a quick bite to eat at The Clay Oven Restaurant. Continued
Sophia (Sophy) Gray designed no fewer than 40 of the 50 Anglican churches built during her husband Robert Gray’s bishopric. She was the first woman to practise architecture in South Africa, and one of the earliest to do so in the world. No mean feat for a woman who was a wife during the Victorian era, and a mother to five children.
Perhaps Sophy managed to escape the full impact of the crinoline, and its relegation of women to the home, when she moved with her husband from England after he was assigned the colonial bishopric of the Cape of Good Hope. Part of his remit was to build churches.
Robert and Sophy Gray arrived in 1848 to settle on the farm Boschheuvel, originally known as Wijnberg, and later called Bishopscourt. With her Sophy brought drawings and plans of church architecture that she felt would best adapt to South African conditions. She added her own sketches of styles and details that shaped the form of Anglican churches all over South Africa, conferring often with the British ecclesiastical architect W. Butterfield. Continued
Calling Mossel Bay a ‘harbour town’ is a misnomer. It does have a harbour, but ‘town’ suggests small, when in reality some 60 000 people live there. Mossel Bay is big enough to give the impression of a city. What adds to this impression is that it sprawls, merging seamlessly with the beach side villages of Klein Brak River, Reebok, Tergniet, Groot Brakrivier and Glentana so that the entire bay is a twinkle at night (provided Eskom isn’t load shedding).
Travel brochures tend to gloss over Mossel Bay’s domination by oil refineries; from the N2 they are all you can see between the highway and the harbour. Mossgas’ gas-to-liquids refinery meets 7% of the country’s liquid fuel needs, initiated 22 years ago when gas was discovered offshore.
As a result, light industry monopolises Mossel Bay to such a degree that one’s initial sentiment is to give the town a wide berth. How wrong this impression, and how much more Mossel Bay has to offer than one thinks… Continued
Wines in South Africa do not start and end with the Cape Winelands (Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch), although one is hard pushed to find a comparable abundance of excellence in so small an area
The Overberg, Orange Free State, Northern Cape, and even the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, produce outstanding wines. And the country’s capacity to grow vines extends as far north as Bronkhorstspruit, 50 km east of Pretoria. You will even find vines in Mpumalanga.
But you would be right in assuming that vines grow particularly well in the Cape. The breezes off the Atlantic Ocean, the cold winters and hot summers, the winter rainfall – all combine to create the perfect scenario for wine production.
Probably the most distinctive feature of the African wild dog is its big, round ears. They’re nothing like a domestic dog’s.
They’re nothing like a wolf’s either, yet this beautiful Cape hunting dog, or painted dog as it’s also known, is given the Latin name Lycaon pictus, meaning ‘painted wolf-like animal’, because it is closest in nature to a wolf.
Their hide is different from a dog’s too – covered with irregular patches of black, brown, red, white and yellow fur. Wild dogs have a black, furrow-like vertical line on the forehead between the eyes that is rather endearing. And they have only four toes per foot, unlike the five toes of domestic dogs.
Catching a glimpse of one is difficult. The wild dog is southern Africa’s most endangered large carnivore, and has all but disappeared from most of its original range… Continued
Whether you enjoy your wine big, buttery, smooth, opulent, complex, creamy or crisp, the wines made in South Africa will more than meet your needs, as we produce some of the best wines in the new world.
South African wine, a quick overview:
- our wine history dates back 350 years, to 1659
- today we export over 450 million litres of wine
- a little over 10 years ago, most of our wine was distilled into brandy
- SA wines are of the best valued red and white wines
- there are 100 000 hectares under vine across the country
- 56% of this is white wine, 44% is red
- the oldest fruit bearing vine in the southern hemisphere is a Crouchen Blanc variety, planted around 1771 at the Cape Heritage Hotel in Cape Town
- we are the 9th largest wine producer in the world
- our most popular grape variety is Chenin Blanc
- followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Colombard
- a white label with a red key and Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) logo, indicates the wine is of the best (it was sold at a CWG annual auction and you’ll find it in top restaurants and cellars in SA)
- if you’re new to South African wines, pick up a copy of John Platter’s South African Wine Guide…
Mandela was branded a communist terrorist by the apartheid government and spent 27 years in prison as a result. Despite this, he was instrumental in bringing about a peaceful reconciliation in a country torn apart by racism, was loved and revered throughout the world for his magnanimity, and became Madiba, the father of the people.
He received over 1 000 awards, more than 125 streets, boulevards, avenues, bridges and highways have been named after him, and his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, has been read by millions.
For those who come to our shores to experience a little of this great man’s life, here is a list of places to visit… Continued
For many the Karoo is a great expanse of (dry) land somewhere in the middle of South Africa. Just where this place of great heat and frosts, with an annual rainfall of next to nothing, starts and ends is a mystery, expounded by the impression that its extent is unknown (although we estimate it as nearly 400 000 square kilometres).
We have rather a romantic notion about its limitless skies, Marino sheep, succulents, windmills and little hillocks. Rightly so, as it is unusually beautiful. Some of us speak with longing of retiring to a town in said expanse of land, to fritter away our days running fish ‘n chips shops, or little coffee cum bookshops. Others actually do this… Continued
Every visitor to South Africa does Table Mountain, the Kruger National Park, Cape Point, the V&A Waterfront, the Drakensberg, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Reserve, the Garden Route, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the Cradle of Humankind, and Sun City.
But cast your eye down this list and you’ll find 8 equally stunning and hugely underrated destinations in South Africa, all worthy of a visit… Continued
Think Cape Dutch architecture and one immediately calls to mind the style’s most distinctive feature: the central gable. But gables are not anything new, you might argue, what’s the big deal? – European architecture is full of examples. But at the Cape, gables are different.
Rather than lying at the end of a house, as they do in Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe, they are set right in the middle of the façade over the front door. They’re even given an appealing name for this reason – the central dormer gable. Over time this gable, the work of skilled Malay craftsment, was to become something of a status symbol – the larger and more ornate, the wealthier the settler. Continued
Every spring marks the return of the Stihl Open Gardens which take place in the town of Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas. Gardeners are kind enough to open their beautiful gardens to the public and are delighted to share their gardening tips and secrets!
Although some of the gardens were only open for a few weekends in October and have already closed, there are still a number that are open during weekends in November and December. Continued
If there was a place that guaranteed more sunshine hours than anywhere else in the country, wouldn’t you head there?
Stretching between Tsitsikamma and East London is just such a place; its coastline gives you over six hours of driving pleasure along the N2. And whilst I know you’re itching to know what it is (no, it isn’t the Garden Route), you’ll be tempted to slap me when you hear it’s (ta da): the Sunshine Coast.
Obvious, yes… Continued
The Eastern Cape and Garden Route boast some of the prettiest and most extensive beaches in South Africa, with warm waters from the Indian Ocean making them excellent choices for water sports. In recognition of their beauty, excellent swimming conditions and commitment to the preservation of the local fauna and flora, 20 Eastern Cape beaches were given Blue Flag status in 2014… Continued