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Clanwilliam – rooibos, veldskoene, Tolla, and the living landscape project
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Clanwilliam – rooibos, veldskoene, Tolla, and the living landscape project

We wander quietly into Clanwilliam on a particularly hot day, our air conditioning turned up full (not great for my green street cred, but what's one to do when it's this hot?). The main street is busy. But then it always seems to be, what with the new and huge Spar to the right of us, and the myriad historical buildings opposite it that make up one of the major charms of the pretty town. I'm busy rattling off from a brochure about the many attractions in Clanwilliam - great place to be during flower season, the Clanwilliam dam offers a space for water sports, there is hiking (Clanwilliam l...
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So much to do in Mbotyi on the Wild Coast
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So much to do in Mbotyi on the Wild Coast

Whether you’re looking for an adventurous holiday or just a peaceful break from everyday life, Mbotyi River Lodge can do both. In the Eastern Cape on the Wild Coast, the lodge is 26 km from Lusikisiki, on the Mbotyi river mouth. Snuggled between the undulating hills of Pondoland, surrounded by flourishing indigenous forestry, this picturesque valley is the ideal location for anyone looking to experience South Africa’s true beauty. This popular family resort, in the midst of Pondoland, is renowned for its friendly Pondo people, whose intriguing culture has captured the hearts of many and...
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McGregor weaves a spell over you, and all resistance crumbles
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McGregor weaves a spell over you, and all resistance crumbles

McGregor is a wee village, tucked away in a valley at the foot of the Riviersonderend Mountains. It also happens to rest on a series of ley lines (spiritual earth energy connects here in a big way) that lend the village something the folk who live here term 'magic' (they usually shrug their shoulders and look all starry eyed as they say it, as if it's all a little beyond them). A stay here, it seems, is incomplete without falling in love with the place, or certainly experiencing something other than the ordinary. Spring in McGregor is something akin to gorgeous... It has just rained as we dr...
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Rustenburg – not so sleepy
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Rustenburg – not so sleepy

Rustenburg does not live up to its name. Meaning “place of rest” this once sleepy little town started out as a small farming community producing citrus and Virginia tobacco, but now it is known as the Platinum City due to its extensive mining. A hub of activity and only a ninety minute drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria it is perfect for day trips or a weekend getaway. Rustenburg has a fine balance between history, arts, culture and nature making it a place that everyone can enjoy. Its history is closely linked to the Voortrekkers who founded the town in 1851. They started to settle ...
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Citrusdal – town of endless citrus orchards
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Citrusdal – town of endless citrus orchards

Pretty Citrusdal is hot. And it is the height of orange season, so the air is rent with the pungence of really sweet citrus flowers – no guesses about where the town's name originated as it's surrounded by citrus farms. The little country village is popular with Capetonians, who head out here at any time of the year for weekends not least because it lies right in the heart of the Cederberg Wilderness on the banks of the Olifants River, but also because it takes but a couple of hours to drive here. Petrus Smith, who has taken on the Rasta name of Naphtal, which I think means 'green', wears h...
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Louriesfontein and Calvinia – sommer net passing through
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Louriesfontein and Calvinia – sommer net passing through

'Just what is so important that it warrants a drive through to Louriesfontein?' my other half comments dubiously whilst thumbing through his recent acquisition - a book brimming over with the plant types we can hope to see around Nieuwoudtville – millions of them. My windmills cannot compete, or can they? 'A windmill museum', I inform him, with as much 'ta da' as I can muster. I've seen photographs of the array of eccentrically stacked windmills in the yard of a church in Louriesfontein, and I want to go – think of the photo moments. Besides which, it isn't that far from our accommodation. ...
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Nieuwoudtville – the town famous for its bulbs reveals itself
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Nieuwoudtville – the town famous for its bulbs reveals itself

The road to Nieuwoudtville is filled with unexpected surprises. For one, it rests on a plateau – sort of – called the Bokkeveld Plateau. You leave Vanrhynsdorp via the R27, which, after heading due north in a very straight line through the type of vegetation I would have described as the true Karoo (it is the Hantam Karoo), takes one up Vanrhyns Pass. Take the pass and its myriad hair pin bends faster than 70 kilometres an hour at your peril. We were lucky that there was no mist or rain when we ascended, but on days when there is little visibility, I can imagine that Vanrhyns could be p...
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Vanrhynsdorp discovered
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Vanrhynsdorp discovered

Vanrhynsdorp, in the heart of the Nama Karoo, might appear small, but for a Sunday the place is buzzing. Even the tourist information is open and Shaun is very quick to thrust a town map in my hand, from which I quickly ascertain that there are seven buildings of historical note that include the Kokerboom succulent nursery on Voortrekker Road, that is closed. Bad luck really, as we want to visit it. No problem. Because we have also worked out that travelling along the dirt R364 from Nieuwoudtville, to which we are making our way, back to Clanwilliam is far from a sane idea in a sedan, and t...
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The Olifants River Valley – A Stay in Vredendal
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The Olifants River Valley – A Stay in Vredendal

The most amazing surprise for me was seeing the expanse of grapevines along the banks of the Olifants River. These begin just outside Clanwilliam and continue for miles like a great, green swathe on either side of the river. I had read about the Olifants River Valley as a wine-producing area. I was prepared, in a way, but the actual evidence is nonetheless unexpected. Huge diaducts guide water to various parts of the wine  farms that grace the banks of the river and palm trees are aplenty. I think it is the sheer audacity at this amount of green in an area that is predominanty dry and arid ...
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De Hoop – three hours up the coast, friend to whales …
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De Hoop – three hours up the coast, friend to whales …

De Hoop is filled with such rich biodiversity and rare species of fynbos that it is part of a World Heritage Site. All around you are proteas, ericas, restios and heather – in full bloom. The exuberance of colour in the dying sunlight – for we only reached the gate at the ...
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Struisbaai or Blue Lagoon?
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Struisbaai or Blue Lagoon?

I have a very fond memory of swimming in a lagoon ten years ago. Not only found because I was ten years younger but also because the surrounding were so exquisite. Basically it was like being in The Blue Lagoon. Ten years later I may have changed, but the Blue Lagoon hasn’t. It’s real name is Struisbaai and it’s well known for the longest continuous stretch of white sand coastline in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also only ten minutes from Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. Struisbaai is as close to a tropical paradise as one can get with its exquisite white sand beaches, ...
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A Grand Old Mac Daddy time in Elgin
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A Grand Old Mac Daddy time in Elgin

The weather was divine. It was a beautiful winters day, with rays of sun tickling your skin with warmth while leaving the sky clear and beautiful, when I left the hustle and bustle of the city and in just over an hour’s drive and a dirt road later I saw before me glistening Airstream trailers nestled into the hillside ... We had arrived at the Old Mac Daddy in the Elgin Valley. Our first port of call was to sit and relax on the deck to enjoy one another’s company and soak in the setting. I was told that the dam was soon to be filled with trout of many sizes and so those fishing enthusiasts ...
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Kleinmond for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts
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Kleinmond for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts

About an hours drive from Cape Town, along the picturesque drive of the R44 is the little town of Kleinmond. Sitting between the jagged Palmiet mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, this peaceful coastal town lies within the unique Kogelberg biosphere reserve boasting over 1600 species of indigenous plants. Although traditionally a retirement village, when holiday season hits, the town becomes ablaze with activity. With its gorgeous beaches; tranquil lagoon; fantastic hikes and walks; as well as sumptuous restaurants, Kleinmond is a little piece of paradise. Outdoor enthusiasts and history...
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Rosendal – the “new” Clarens?
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Rosendal – the “new” Clarens?

I'd heard that Rosendal is the "next" Clarens and seeing as we were en route from Ficksburg to Clarens and Rosendal is only a teeny bit off track we used this as our opportunity to pop in and see the village for ourselves. One is greeted by a fairly large ‘map’ of Rosendal when arriving but to be honest we drove down a dusty track and thought to ourselves ‘what the heck is all the fuss about’ - in fact we couldn’t even find a shop of any kind!  We spotted a church steeple and being the intrepid, seasoned explorers that we are made our way towards that landmark ... Aha - good move tha...
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