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TTENDING the Lilizela Awards hosted
by SA Tourism was a great opportunity
for the SA & Beyond brand. For me, the
highlight of the entire evening was when I
watched disabled individuals being given an
opportunity to perform on stage. Their performance
was extremely heart-warming and watching them
have fun and share their most beautiful smiles with
the audience was priceless! This draws attention to the
importance of promoting inclusivity and respecting
and appreciating every single individual, without
discrimination of any kind. In this issue we showcase
inclusivity in tourism - specifically with regards to
physical limitations and disabilities.
Favourable circumstances allowed me to meet an
extremely inspiring young man with a million-dollar
smile. Joseph, who is a blind barista, has gladly shared
his story with us and if you’re in Worcester, make
a stop at Blindiana Barista and he will make you a
cuppa with pleasure. Also featured is the MahaRaja
Eco Dive Lodge in Indonesia, which is accessible
to disabled individuals as all the lodge jetties are
wheelchair friendly – which permits everyone to join
the adventure! Read about Morgan’s Wonderland in
Texas which is a playground that caters for all ages and
all abilities and should be a must-visit at some time
during your travels. We are also offered advice by Karin
Coetzee who is an occupational therapist and disability
consultant, on assisting individuals with special needs
to make informed decisions when it comes to travel.
We have the most breath-taking natural beauty
around us and, in this issue, we take a closer look at
a few of these places – from the KZN Midlands to a
soulful town called McGregor, climbing Mt. Elbrus in
Russia to the magnificent Victoria Falls, and more.
Please continue interacting with us and don’t
forget to enter the competitions that you would find
within this issue. If you would like to read the digital
copy the magazine, please scan the QR code that is
Be sure to explore the hidden gems, both in SA
and beyond – and don’t forget to always take time to
stop and smell the flowers along the way :)
Let’s explore the world together, making memories as
Wishing you safe travels!
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© SA & Beyond Travel Magazine
All material is strictly copyright and all rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is forbidden. The views expressed in this publication
are not necessarily those of the publisher. All prices are correct at time of going to press. Conditions apply to all competitions.
Win a 2 Night Stay
at Walkersons Hotel & Spa
The 22-year old Walkersons Hotel & Spa near Dullstroom is a perfect blend of elegance and charm with its historiclooking
main buildings fully up to date with all the modern amenities. Located on 800 hectares of peaceful countryside,
Walkersons boasts 27 private hotel rooms — two of which, the Family and Manor Suites, are suitable for families — and
six self-catering family cottages. Available to guests and day visitors, its delicious gourmet country cuisine has long
been one of Walkersons’ significant attractions, along with the unspoiled scenery, its luxurious Spa and the chance to
fly-fish in Dullstroom’s famous trout dams. Recipient of the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence awards from 2013 to
2018, the hotel is ideal for exclusive weekend breaks and weddings and business conferences.
For more information please visit www.walkersons.co.za
Reservations on 013 253 7000 or email email@example.com
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To win a 2 night stay (mid-week) for a couple sharing a room at Walkersons Hotel & Spa on a dinner,
bed and breakfast basis all you have to do is like and share the SA and Beyond facebook page, also
leaving a comment as to why you believe you should be the winner of this amazing prize. Winners
will be contacted by 15 February 2020 and announced in the March 2020 issue.
Congratulations to Dominic Naidoo for winning
the last readers competition. He has won a two
nights stay for two people at Protea Hotels.
“My partner, Nina, and I took 3 weeks off work in March 2019 to visit a
close friend in Delhi, India. Nina lived in India for a few years, but it was
my first time. We tried to visit a different restaurant or café every day
because we wanted to taste every bit of Indian cuisine we could manage.
We stopped at roadside “chaat” stalls and corner paan shops to high
end hotel restaurants and chain establishments. Both being vegetarian
in India is a whole new experience! For the first time in our collective
culinary lives, almost all the restaurants we visited had more options
for herbivores than carnivores. This was utterly delightful. The food
was amazing! We also explored ancient Delhi landmarks like Qutub
Minar, the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb where the attached picture
was taken. We took tuk-tuks when we needed to hop around short
distances, these are cheap, convenient and an experience on their
own. The people were super friendly, and the weather was perfect. I
had never had a more wonderful travel experience. SA&BEYOND 3
SA & BEYOND TRAVEL MAGAZINE
SA & Beyond Travel Magazine celebrated its official launch at Kloofzicht Lodge and Spa in
Muldersdrift on 03 October 2019. The magazine has been extremely well received and the
team is excited and looking forward to building great relationships within the industry.
to Rathna Sewdass
Border Air at the
launch. She was the
winner of the social
held on the day.
The Lilizela Tourism Awards 2019
The Blind Barista
Magical Mumbai Moments
McGregor, for a soulful getaway
Oewerbos – A family reunion in nature, and the
dogs came too
All Hearts Foundation
Far from the madding crowd – a remote private
island in Indonesia
Universal access for special needs
From Russia with love… Mt. Elbrus
Morgan’s Wonderland – where everyone can play
Exploring the KwaZulu Natal Midlands
A visit to Victoria Falls
Magnificent Thailand “The Land of Smiles”
Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane
The annual Lilizela Tourism Awards took place on Saturday, 09
November 2019, honouring excellence in South Africa’s tourism and
hospitality industry - which drives the industry to levels of greatness
through providing the highest standards of service excellence.
cross-section of South African tourism
accommodation establishments, visitor
experiences, tour operators, tour guides,
emerging entrepreneurs were celebrated
alongside several industry luminaries, during an
awards ceremony that saw performances by the likes of
Sibongile Khumalo and The Ndlovu Youth Choir.
Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-
Ngubane paid special tribute to South Africa’s
outstanding tourism businesses, some of which have
been beneficiaries of the National Department of
Tourism’s market access and enterprise development
“Thank you to the men and women who, in
their area of work, go an extra mile to ensure that
tourists that travel to our country enjoy a memorable
experience. Providing real authentic experiences to
tourists is what will sustain and grow our tourism
sector. All of us should do this cognisant of the fact that
tourists have no obligation to choose South Africa as a
tourist destination,” she said.
“Tourism is a very competitive sector and demands
from all of us to offer tourists a distinct, authentically
South African and memorable experience so that they
can return to our country again and again, or even
better entice others to come along with them in their
subsequent visits. As we cast our eyes into the future,
we must continue to ensure that we transform our
sector inclusively and to showcase more authentic and
uniquely South African experiences,” she said.
This year’s awards coincide with South Africa’s 25
years of democracy commemorations and honoured the
tourism excellence born as a result of this phenomenal
history. In support of Government’s efforts to promote
sustainable tourism and youth employment, a
Sustainability Village showcased SA’s arts and craft.
The Minister and other special guests toured the
Sustainable Village curated space for selected blackowned
businesses to market their products at the
venue, all of which are proudly made in South Africa.
Many of their products are also inspired by South
African culture and heritage, and are beautifully
handcrafted using sustainable materials which is why
we are proud to support this initiative.
In total, 66 awards under eight categories were
handed out to deserving recipients. In an effort to
recognise the wider tourism industry, nine new
award sub-categories have been introduced. These
In-hotel conference centre
Convention & exhibition centre
Meetings, exhibitions and special events
Bheki Dube of Curiosity Backpackers was awarded
the prestigious “I Do Tourism” award. Introduced
in 2018, this award recognises proudly South
African organisations or individuals who, through
sheer dedication and passion, have excelled in
positioning the country as a tourism destination of
choice, contributing to the vibrancy and growth of
Established in 2013, the Lilizela Tourism
Awards are an initiative of the National
Department of Tourism and are spearheaded by
South African Tourism. The awards recognise and
reward exemplary service among businesses in the
local tourism sector, ranging from accommodation
establishments and tour operators to scenic
attractions and cultural heritage sites. The Lilizela
Tourism Awards are adjudicated through public
votes and by a panel of industry judges, and are
audited by Nexia SAB&T.
Entry to the Lilizela National Tourism Awards
is free and tourism businesses of all sizes are
encouraged to enter in a bid to help develop, grow
and transform the industry while celebrating its
achievements. For a full list of the 2019 Lilizela
Tourism Award winners, visit www.lilizela.co.za.
BY JOSEPH MATHEATAU
I’M Joseph Matheatau. I was born in Welkom and
I was raised by my garndparents in a small village
I’m proud to be blind. I lost my sight, but I
never lost my dreams and goals in life. I came across
lots of challenges, but I never gave up and never will. I
may not see the rays of the sun nor the rain drops, but I
can feel it on my skin.
When I was about 3 years old I noticed that I was
different from any other child. I couldn’t see with
my right eye and sight in my left eye was very poor. I
couldn’t recognize people from a distance. I learned at
a very young age to use my sense of hearing to identify
people by their voices. Some of the things I used to see
when I was young were gradually fading away and I
didn’t know how to explain this to my grandparents
and teachers. My childhood friends were always
watching out for me when we played in the dark, so I
didn’t hurt myself.
When I started going to primary school, I
was sitting at the front with the girls and I was
uncomfortable. I hardly saw and copied what the
teacher wrote on the board. I wrote over the lines with
the most horrible hand writing my teacher had ever
seen - that’s what they used to say. When I had read a
book, I put it very close to my face and I
felt severe pressure in
eye. I didn’t know what the cause of the pressure was,
until I was diagnosed with glaucoma. My teacher
thought I was naughty and lazy as I could not complete
my school work. Like they say, ‘if it doesn’t kill you, it
makes you stronger and wiser’.
Both my parents were working in Welkom. When
my mom heard about my eye condition, she came over
and took me to visit the eye specialist. I was young and
I didn’t know what the doctor had said at the time and
I only found out later that I would have had to undergo
surgery. The poor woman refused that I undergo an
eye operation as she believed it was not going to be a
success. She never wanted me to be blind especially at
that young age, she wanted me to complete my studies
and play like any child.
Growing up in the village my grandparents thought
that I was a prophet as I said many things and they
came to life. They didn’t realize that those words came
from my heart and my mind - I learned at a very young
age about the power of the spoken words.
I remember growing up there used to be a calendar
hanging on the wall and my friends could see all
the dates from a distance. I had to climb on a chair,
remove it from the wall and go outside where it
was sunny for me
to see. I couldn’t
could see it
all this, I
always had something deep within me telling me that
one day I will achieve greatness and that has kept me
focused, determined and hungry to achieve. Although
it was not clear what it was going to be, but the more I
faced the challenges the more I felt my passion burning
like a fire.
There was a time during winter months when I
couldn’t find my way to school as my left eye was hazy
and very cloudy whereby I couldn’t read a book – to me
it was blank. This was the loneliest time of my life and I
couldn’t wait hear the voices of my friends after school.
It all started from home with simple things like
putting my heart in a cup of tea. My mother saw the
magic in me and always asked me to make tea for the
family and guests. She couldn’t stop flattering me and
always said that I’m the best tea maker the world has
ever seen. I only needed those simple words to face my
challenges head up however my mum never knew that
I’ll completely be blind.
It was very difficult
when I went
completely blind, I had to adapt. I had to learn to
shave without looking at myself in the mirror and dress
myself without seeing the clothes. Learning how to
cook, clean and iron without seeing what I was doing
and to walk was difficult at first, but I had to train my
mind to master all these things. I landed in Worcester
in 2014 to further my studies in Hein Academy for the
blind. Many opportunities came my way and I ran with
them and never looked back. I studied commercial
subjects - in terms of accessibility I did computer
training and all our computers have a software installed
that has a voice over that reads the text on the screen.
I’m able to communicate with the world via e-mail and
on all the social media platforms.
The very same year Innovation for
the blind was looking for one of the
blind students to be
trained as a barista
to work in
I can achieve
anything that comes
from my heart, if I
have my mind set
on it. All I have to do
is, at the back of my
mind, visualize the
Blindiana Barista in Worcester (Western Cape) and
they saw a determined blind young man with a million
dollar smile that can light up the world of the blind.
Now I’m able to welcome clients from all walks of life
and prepare a perfect cup of coffee for them. It was
never easy to be a blind barista as I rely on my senses,
smell, hearing, touching and I visualize to complete my
Apart from being a barista, I’m also a motivational
speaker and continue inspiring both the young and old.
I can achieve anything that comes from my heart, if
I have my mind set on it. All I have to do is, at the back
of my mind, visualize the end product.
By believing in myself and staying focused, I will
one day own my dream coffee shop with the name JBB
Against all odds, I can beat the odds...
TigerCanyon-HP.pdf 1 23/11/2018 14:08
I have a passion for bridges, all
bridges, and the Worli Sea Link
bridge that connects Bandra to
Worli, is one that truly inspires. The
early pink of dawn made my nearly
8km crossing over the bridge in
a 1958 Hindustan Ambassador, a
mesmerizing and unforgettable
experience, and it marked one of
many love affairs I’ve had with an
extraordinary country and a special
people that is uniquely India...
- Mich Immelman
Worli Sea Link Bridge.
The Dhobi Ghats in Mumbai can only be described
as an ‘open air laundromat’ where even the poshest
of hotels have their laundry done every day by a wad
of washers standing knee deep inside pools of soap
froth as they swing and twirl and twist large wrings
of washing like a cowboy with a thick lasso over their
heads which they thrash against what can only be
described as a concrete washboard.
I was hoping to capture only a few images of life
in the Dhobi Ghats from a distance through a long
lens, but my guide somehow managed to arrange for
me to photograph inside the Ghat where visitors are
not normally permitted but guests are always warmly
There I found what at first seemed to me like a vast
confusion of washing pails, soap, suds, water, hosepipes
and laundry stacked all over in piles that had no names
or labels or tags at all to tell what was in the the pile
and who the pile belonged to.
Amid all the washing activity where there is no
9-to-5 routine and no one ever bothers with weekends
or public holidays, I met the Dhobi Wallahs where they
also live together with their entire families in small,
cubbyhole-like rooms that were all surprisingly neat,
very tidy and, like their washing, impeccably
But in spite of what looked like
mayhem to me with all the work going
on, children playing around, mothers
cooking and fresh chai tea being brewed
on small Primus stoves all over, every
piece of washing is somehow promptly
returned at the end of the day to its
nameless owner, crisp, clean and
folded crease free.
Even though I tried very hard
to understand how the Dhobi
Ghat system actually works - how
the Ghat people manage to
produce such immaculate Surf
results under such apparently
squalid conditions without
Taj Palace Hotel with Gateway to India. Photos: Michele Immelman and others
ever confusing a lady’s sari with a hotel’s bedsheet or a
gentleman’s Dhoti with a baby’s diaper, I very quickly
gave up trying to figure out a system that’s confounded
everyone outside of Mumbai’s Dhobi Ghats for many
It’s been said that the essence of every culture is always
best captured in its cuisine - if that’s the case, then
Mumbai can aptly be described as unexpected, exciting,
varied and certainly, uniquely original.
Indian cuisine draws inspiration from Ayurveda, an
ancient form of folk medicine that advocates a theory of
nutrition based on six base flavours: sweet, sour, salty,
bitter, pungent and astringent.
And while Mumbai offers the visitor a veritable
cornucopia of opportunities to savour these flavours in
all its many forms, I chose the well-known landmark,
Leopoldo Cafe (below) to indulge in some of the many
tastes which Mumbai has to offer.
Originally established in 1871 as a school cafe/bar,
Leopolds understates its reputation as a venue that
has to be experienced by every visitor to Mumbai. But
for me, it is where I am able to escape the buzz of the
city and just watch typical Indian life play out while
enjoying a deliciously refreshing cup of chai tea.
One of the many other fascinations which the city has
to offer, are the Tiffin Wallahs of Mumbai...
Properly known as ‘Dabbawalas’, they can be
seen all over Mumbai pushing their trolleys heavily
laden with shiny silver tiffins (lunchboxes). Every
day, Tiffin Wallahs collect more than a million tiffins
from workers’ homes where their wives dutifully pack
lunches for their husbands into tin cans. The Tiffin
Wallahs then deliver on bicycle or by train to the
husbands at their different places of work all over the
city of Mumbai. And after lunch, the Tiffin Wallahs
once again collect all the empty tiffins to return it all to
their wives at home.
But what I find even more fascinating about this
odd phenomenon (which I believe is uniquely Indian),
is the fact that, like the piles of washing that are never
labelled, none of the one million tiffins is ever labelled
either, and yet, it never happens that the Chapati which
Chandrajit’s wife packed for him that morning for his
lunch is ever confused with the Paratha which Pranav’s
wife packed for him!
The Dhobi Ghats and the Tiffin Wallahs of Mumbai
are just two of the many reasons why I’ve long since
given up trying to figure out the Indian culture -
instead, I’ve resigned myself to simply enjoying its
people and everything they have to offer...
A short walk from Leopold Cafe lies the world’s busiest
railway station, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, or,
‘Victoria Station’ as it is affectionately known by those
who, like me, only manage to get our tongues twisted
into a pretzel whenever we try to be proper.
Originally built by the British in 1887 to celebrate
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, this majestic structure
with its magnificent stone dome, steel turrets and
pointed arches (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site),
serves more than three million passengers traveling on
1,250 trains over 18 platforms every day!
In an attempt to capture the experience of Victoria
Station for myself, I climbed over a low railing (with the
help of my guide I must confess) onto a low structure
that would give me a bird’s-eye view of the next train
arriving at the main platform.
Nothing could have prepared me for the sea
of people that literally gushed out of the carriages
when the train arrived, and the din of noise was like
invited me to seek permission from the Station Master
to photograph inside Victoria Station.
That led me into the offices of the station... Like a
scene from a Rudyard Kipling account of life in colonial
India, there sat rows of clerks, all neatly attired in
the same white shirts and grey suits, dutifully writing
things in heavy, leather bound journals by hand. Not a
single computer screen in sight... only endless shelves of
ledgers filled with their entries.
I never got to meet the Master of Victoria Station,
but I got to understand why the world’s largest railway
system, like the Dhobi Ghats and like the Tiffin
Wallahs, actually works and why it works as well as it
High Tea At The Taj
The gracious Taj Mahal Royal Palace in Mumbai
reflects the very finest of English grace which India
has managed to preserve with great pride, immaculate
care and the kind of attention to detail that has sadly
become something of a rarity.
something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. In fact,
I was so awestruck by the shock of the scene that I
almost forgot to press the shutter on my camera!
But as suddenly as the human tsunami came, it was
over, and the station once again returned to an almost
morguely quiet as it lay in wait for the horde which the
next train will bring.
But then the police descended upon me...
Apparently, anything other than the normal things
commuters are expected to do (alight, babble, hastily
head for wherever you’re going, babble more...), is
generally not welcomed by the authorities (security is
a big thing in Mumbai). The two officers however were
extremely polite and quickly understood that this was
just a silly woman who wanted to capture something of
the spirit of Mumbai. So, instead of arresting me, they
At the Taj - it seemed to me - India does English
better than the British do, and nowhere is that more
evident than at High Tea at the Taj...
Since it first opened in 1903, the Sea Lounge with
its old colonial charm and a spectacular view of the
Arabian Sea, has served the hotel’s signature Taj House
Blend (a muddling of assam and darjeeling) together
with an elaborate spread of scones, tarts, muffins,
sandwiches and quiche) and local Mumbai treats to
anyone who is prepared to stretch the budget just a
bit, not only to enjoy, but also to claim one of the finest
experiences to be had, anywhere in the world.
But the Taj experience is not complete unless you
also indulge in the signature cocktail made famous by
the hotel’s iconic Harbour Bar...
Curiously named, “From The Harbour Since 1933”,
the cocktail is a delightful mix of gin, peach liqueur,
fresh fruit, chartreuse liqueur, fresh juices, green apples
and pomegranate seeds, spectacularly served as a
burning liquid (yes, the mixture is actually set alight as
it is poured into the frothy fruit juice).
But it’s how this famous cocktail got its name that
really fascinated me...
In 1933, I am told, an American sailed into what
was known back then as the ‘Bombay harbour’ aboard
his yacht. Upon his arrival, the sailor received a
telephone call from his wife back home who told him
about the end of Prohibition in America. But alas,
having just arrived from a ‘dry’ America, the sailor
had no alcohol on board his yacht to celebrate the
occasion. Then, he spotted the palatial Taj Mahal Hotel
where he sought to “quench his thirst from the last
thirteen years” with a drink in the Harbour Bar. And to
celebrate the occasion, the bartender offered to make
the sailor a special cocktail, which the sailor could
name to mark the end of Prohibition in America.
The sailor got onto a bar stool, raised this fiery
cocktail the bartender constructed for him and loudly
shouted out, “From The Harbour Since 1933”! Now, I
kinda suspect that the sailor never intended that to be
the name for the bartenders latest mix, but the phrase
nevertheless stuck, and since then, many an occasion
has been celebrated to a round of “From The Harbour
Since 1933” in the Harbour Bar at the Taj.
I realise stories like these all sound a bit weird, but
weird is something you just have to expect in India.
I like weird.
+2782 567 6933
BY DAWN JORGENSEN
Street Scene Photos: Dawn Jorgensen
Rhythm Full On Garden
Fresh organic veggie box delivered by Allendale Farm
THE first time I visited McGregor was to walk
the rather intense but scenically beautiful
Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail that traverses
the rocky hills and valleys between there and
Greyton. Arriving by road into the tranquil village that’s
so conveniently located just a couple of hours from
Little did I know at the time that this was to be the
start of a relationship that would fast see McGregor
become one of my favourite South African small towns.
Specifically, for soulful and replenishing weekend
More recently I returned for a weekend sans hiking
boots, staying at the perfectly themed Rhythm Full
On. A minimalistically styled cottage conveniently
placed among mature trees in one of McGregor’s most
attractive and quiet streets, and easy walking distance
to the restaurants, shops and some of the friends I’ve
made over my years of return visits.
The one-bedroom home is designed to offer a
Flowers at the market
soulful retreat with giant linen couches to sink into, two
single beds which make it perfect for a friend’s getaway
and a slipper bath for added spoils. The free flow style
instantly soothes the spirit, with no wifi and limited
connectively, it’s about enjoying conversations, reading
and relaxing – something that I’ve grown to associate
The lovingly laid out garden with abundant fruit
trees, vegetables and herbs, aloes and spekboom is
enviable, there’s even a rather elusive resident tortoise.
A picturesque country village accessed just
off Robertson and surrounded by the Langeberg
Mountains with Robertson, Ashton and Montagu as
its near neighbouring towns, McGregor is said to be
the best-preserved 19th century South African village
with its white-washed reed roof cottages, Victorian and
Every Saturday there’s a morning market in the
square next to the Church, which is a good place to
mingle with the local community as they trade in their
organic produce, home baked breads, delicious pastries,
jams, books, plants and more. The roads are mostly
used for walking, with very few tarred, and the pace of
life is idyllically slow.
Things to do include the Art Route, garden visits
and shopping at Made in McGregor. Get to the Old
Post Office turned pub for a whisky tasting, book a
visit to the Tanagra Distillery and for Method Cap
Classique, visit the Lord’s Winery.
On the main road and one of McGregor’s biggest
draw cards is Temenos. Housed in a restored 19thcentury
farmhouse with expansive gardens, they run
retreats throughout the year, many of which focus on
detoxing and stress release, but also covering themes
like creativity and cooking, meditation and yoga. Their
Tebaldi’s Restaurant is particularly popular.
For homemade country food during your stay
there’s Green Gables Country Inn, while The Fat Lady’s
Arms is a good place for a pizza. If you’re self-catering
and simply looking for an excellent coffee midway
through your village meander, 51 is the vibey new spot
on the main road for that.
Fellow lovers of walking trails might try the Krans
Nature Reserve or the Rhebokskraal Olive Estate walk
that takes you through the olive orchards and vineyards
in he village. Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, a circular
route with bird watching points is equally popular with
mountain bikers and hikers.
My first visit had me leaving with blistered feet
and an adopted rescue donkey named Sheila, one of
the residents at the incredible Eseltjiesrus Donkey
Sanctuary on the outskirts of McGregor, with whom
I fell instantly in love. Open to visitors from
Thursday to Friday, this sanctuary provides
permanent homes and
care to destitute,
abused and rescued
The work that
do there is
last visit with
to introduce her
to the village and
after a fair amount of
exploration we retreated
to the our soulful Rhythm
Full On where we settled
with a pile of magazines
and tall glasses of locally
happy to share the quiet
of the aromatic garden
with the resident birds,
bugs and bees.
It certainly is the
perfect place for a
reviving getaway, and
quality time with my
number one woman.
Angel on the
Buildings on the main road
The Bloom Bar at the market
McGregor is located about 2 hours’ drive
from Cape Town in the Western Cape’s
Langeberg Valley. For more information
and various accommodation options look
co.za/. Rhythm Full On is a strictly
vegetarian household. Learn more about the
Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary at https://
and the dogs
Oewerbos, evening paddle and a swim for the dogs Photos: Di Brown
THE call of a Fish Eagle woke me at first
light. Coffee in hand, I sat and watched
the Orange River come to life, as the
sun rose over Namibia. Cormorants sat
on the rocks drying their wings after
the first dive for breakfast, grey herons
waded in the shallows and an African
jacana flitted in the reeds. The resident
geese chased a dog along the grassy
embankment, and a slightly scary Nile
monitor slithered onto an abandoned
floating jetty for a spot of basking in the
early morning sun. What a way to start
Oewerbos on the
River, where they
invite you to let the
magic of nature fill
BY DI BROWN
A multi-generational get together
When the family is split between Windhoek and Cape
Town, meeting halfway works well. We won the toss
and avoided the tedium of a border crossing but had
to bring all the beer needed by 6 adults for 5 days.
Four generations, from great granny in her eighties to
the little ones aged 3 and 6, and two fur kids, a gentle
border collie and an enthusiastic puppy of unknown
Time lost all meaning as we adapted to the pace of
nature. We woke at dawn and eased gently into the
world with coffee and river views, watching the sky
change colour as we waited for the first rays to warm
Early morning walks with cameras, binoculars
and Karen our very own nature conservationist, snake
handler and bird seeker. Little voices whispered,
chubby arms pointed, cameras clicked, and the kids
spotted birds for Karen. Our highlights were a Goliath
Heron, African Jacana, Little Bittern, Orange River
White Eye, Karoo Thrush, Swallow Tailed Bee Eater,
Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Jackal Buzzard,
and a Spotted Eagle Owl.
We drove into the vast arid mountains and pitted
Kids on the river, life jackets provided
the Toyota Fortuna against the Ford Everest. No
winner could be agreed on. We followed a road along
the river, past vineyards and camps, abandoned houses
and the skeletons of cars.
We watched the skies change as dramatic clouds
came out of nowhere and decorated the sky, and at
night the stars had us mesmerized.
We braaied and cooked huge breakfasts and potjies
and read books and chatted to Nev and Di the owners
over pizza. We listened to owls calling, perched in the
camp. We talked, we played, we laughed.
On the water
The river was a source of endless entertainment. We
drifted lazily in the sun, we raced wildly in the kayaks,
we ventured far up the river and rescued a Monitor
caught up in an abandoned net on the embankment.
We waded to the Namibian side, rock hopped to the
little rapids, and paddled out for a sunset on the water.
The kids swam until they were wrinkled, and the
adult boys delayed a braai for hours as they played on
the phoofy slide like fools until way after dark.
This intimate river camp is well run by the owners
Nev and Di. The vibe is relaxed, very friendly and
centered around nature. Popular with river rafters and
as a halfway stop between Cape Town and Namibia it
has many return visitors.
A regular noisy visitor to our site
3 riverside safari tents with en suite bathrooms
2 double room self-catering chalets.
11 dome tents each with 2 single beds
10 grassed camp sites with electric power points.
The whole area is grassed and shaded by White Karee
trees, and the camp sites are well spaced for privacy.
Drying wings in the sun
entrance to the pub and restaurant
For communal use there are a number of large
thatch roofed bomas spread around the camp. Each is
equipped with power points, a large table, a sink with
running water and a huge fridge.
We booked a riverside safari tent and a campsite
next to one of the bomas where we pitched a large two
roomed tent and a smaller dome tent.
The restaurant, bar and sundeck has a wood burning
pizza oven, and also serves a buffet breakfast, light
meals and pub lunches. DSTV and a pool table provide
A swimming pool complete with a slide straight
into the water. A children’s playing area with swings, a
trampoline and a climbing frame.
For all ages there is a phoofy slide that runs from
the embankment into the river.
Exploring the arid landscape west of the camp.
Photo: Rob Stamatiadis.
Pool overlooking the river
Oewerbos is right on the Orange River which forms the
border between South Africa and Namibia.
From Cape Town it is a six hour drive on the N7.
Six hundred and seventy kilometers of hot black tar
heading relentlessly north. In excellent condition, the
road is mostly straight, leading you up the odd pass,
twisting a little to skirt a mountain, and providing a
glimpse of the exquisitely untamed landscapes of South
Africa. As you approach the border post, turn left at
the fork and follow the gravel road for 13km to reach
We left Cape Town at four in the morning and
stopped in Klawer for breakfast not long after sunrise.
We stopped again in Springbok for coffee and a leg
stretch, and arrived at Oewerbos just before midday, in
time for lunch.
ALL HEARTS FOUNDATION
Photos: Corrie Barnard Photography
All Hearts Foundation is a NPO organization
(174-118 NPO) that rescues both wild/exotic
and certain domestic trauma case animals.
Ronnie and Lexi have fought to rescue a
pack of Canadian timber wolves that were destined to
be sold off to the hunting trade, for the last 4 years they
have been on this mission and have so much passion
for what they do. Their key goals are education and
educating the public on the fact that wolves and wild
animals are not pets. They have successfully relocated
to a property based in the heart of Hartebeespoort.
They are also home to a well-known paralyzed dog
called Shimbungu who has featured on eNews and
other media forums. AHF (174-118 NPO) needs the
public’s constant help and support to keep this facility
functional and able to take on further causes. They are
open to the public and offer a really educational and
magical experience for every person who visits.
They are a small dynamic team of passionate caring
individuals that care for many different animals at the
foundation. AHF (174-118 NPO) also helps the less
fortunate people in our communities and that’s why
they are called All Hearts Foundation (174-118 NPO)
as everything with a beating heart is considered and
helped by AHF (174-118 NPO).
You can learn more about them on the below forums
Shimbungus Facebook page
Our website is www.allheartsfoundation.co.za
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.
If you would like to visit booking are essential.
Please contact 0728733881 to make a booking.
If you would like to donate below are their bank details
Bank: First National Bank
Account name: All Hearts Foundation
Account number: 62637209471
Account type: Cheque Account
Branch code: 251655
Swift code: Firnzajj (international people can
donate by using the swift code or by using PayPal
Our PayPal, you can donate by using the below
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mauritian food at
NESTLED on the shores of the east between
the renowned Radison Blu, Jalsa Beach,
Azuri and Prince Maurice hotels is the home
of an authentic Mauritian taste, Seabell
Established 22 years ago by Rajen and Indira
Rekhaye, the Seabell brand has become their family
pride and a part of many tourist’s itinerary. Rajen
used to fly to Durban in South Africa where he ate at
Seabelle restaurant in La Mercy many times during
his travels. He fell in love with the food and this
inspired him to open Seabell Restaurant in Mauritius,
as it reminded him of good memories from South
Africa. Seabell Restaurant was first opened as a small
shop after the family moved to Poste la Fayette. The
restaurant is a family business catering for holiday
makers from around the globe and it has since become
popular to the locals for the best fast food of Mauritian
cuisine prepared by Indira herself, together with her
son in law, Siven Muruga Carpanen and her son Girish
Rekhaye. The restaurant is a combination of old and
new Mauritian cuisine. If you want to try authentic
Mauritian cuisine, a visit to Seabelle Restaurant is a
The hotel is managed by the daughters (Akshada
and Angela) who have studied special courses on Guest
Relations, Customer Service and Food Quality to
ensure that guests of Seabell Restaurant receive only
the best in taste and service. Akshada’s past experience
working in 5-star hotels such as Touessrok, St. Geran,
Royal Palms and Belle Mare Plage has assisted in
maintaining a service of the highest standard. From
her Irish experience of working in different types of
restaurants, Akshada has incorporated at Seabell
Restaurant the different tastes of French, Italian, Thai,
Mediterranean and Indian cuisine.
Seabell Restaurant has been newly renovated to
provide guests with a comfortable experience. The
menu has been designed to suit guests from all over
the world whilst constantly being updated with new
concepts and cooking styles. The food is prepared from
only the best ingredients and there is no lengthy wait to
be served. Rajen Rekhaye is very hands on and interacts
with his guests to ensure customer satisfaction and an
“at home” experience like no other.
Visit them on the doorstep of the beautiful and quiet
beach of Poste La Fayette and enjoy the breathtaking
scenery of the mountains and the sea while you tuck in
to our food bursting with flavour and freshness.
B15, Poste Lafayette, Costal road Poste Lafayette,
District Flacq 41519, Mauritius
Call: +230 410 5373
Check them on trip advisor and read their reviews
for more details.
From a remote private island in Indonesia, Gillian Mclaren explores
the snorkelling and diving in Raja Ampat, meets the local Papuan
people and discovers the joy of simplicity.
Images: Gillian Mclaren (@Jetset_Gillian)
RAJA Ampat, in Indonesia, is the epicentre of
the Coral Triangle. This is where the greatest
diversity and number of marine species
in the world are found, a veritable species
factory. This area - between the Indian and Pacific
Oceans - is renowned amongst snorkelers, divers and
adventurers, as the ultimate spot for an island holiday.
As MahaRaja Eco Dive Lodge is located on a small
private island, I decide to venture here, to see what the
reputed attraction of the area is all about. The fact that
the lodge claims to be super eco-friendly, with a staff of
Papuans, also draws me.
It’s quite an adventure getting to the lodge, flying
from Singapore, to Jakarta, then on to Sorong where
Maha - the owner of the island and its exclusive resort
- greets me enthusiastically outside the small airport.
In her wooden longboat, its roof painted bright pink,
the crew motors us from Sorong’s floating dock, on
a pleasant two-hour voyage across the Indo-Pacific
Ocean to Raja Ampat’s islands. At Maha’s wooden jetty,
we are met by shy but warm Papuans, each of whom
is introduced to me by name. Lest guests forget their
names, Maha has a display board with a name next
to the photo of each person. Even the small children
that live with their parents are included in the images,
as is the residential turtle, which had part of its shell
damaged by a fishing line. One of Maha’s Papuan staff
rescued this turtle from a fishing line.
I am immediately impressed by the simplicity
yet beauty of the resort, with its circular dining area
on stilts in the water near to the jetty, then open
boardwalk to the five guest cottages on the other side
of the island. Strolling to my cottage I watch lustrous
blue starfish, mating cuttlefish, schools of gleaming
silver fish jumping out of the water, plus three batfish
hanging still, as through suspended. This is before I
have even entered the water! We pass a dazzling white
beach with a gazebo supporting hammocks. Vegetation
on the island next to the resort is lush, tropical and
thick. Pretty bird calls punctuate the silence, so I
eagerly anticipate walks with my binoculars and my
Indonesian bird guidebook, to identify these species,
new to me.
With three doors in front and one at the back
of my cottage on stilts, the through breeze from the
ocean cools the feng shui space. As well as a double
bed - with mosquito net draped above and side tables
beside it - the room has a cupboard, desk and two easy
chairs, plus two woven leaf partitions for bathroom
or changing areas. However, I find that I use the
wooden deck to bathe as it is completely private with
a panoramic view over the water to islands far beyond.
A 25l tin is refilled with freshly desalinated water each
day, to replace however much I use. Soap, shampoo
and conditioner are fully biodegradable, as is the
toothpowder provided with a bamboo toothbrush.
Plastic is discouraged on the island, but even small bits
of plastic waste are placed in bottles to make plastic
bricks for use in a nearby Papuan village. All buildings
are made from local biodegradable materials, like wood
or palm leaves. Small solar panels on the deck provide
power for lights at night. Here I have everything I need
and nothing I don’t. Except for the sound of rhythmic
movement of small waves on the stilts of my cottage
and the wind rustling the Palm leaves, it is restfully
quiet. The tranquility seeps into me and I find that the
tension of city life - with its frenetic business, focus on
work, materialism and achievement - slowly dissipates.
Stepping off this tiny island into the richest coral
reef ecosystem in the world, is an unprecedented joy
in my diving experience. Maha has taught me how to
put on and to adjust my diving equipment, literally
with my eyes closed. Plus, we have snorkelled and
swum in the area, to familiarise me with the seascape.
We descend together and within minutes, we are
watching a Wobegong shark resting on the sand under
a rock, its frilly head peeping out. There is so much
life, such a multitude of critters, I don’t know where
to look. Try as I might to stay calm - so I don’t use up
too much air from my tank - I am gasping with delight
as I swim with fusiliers, descend to see flamboyant
nudibranchs, clothed in colours to inflame any fabric
designer, plus look out into the big blue to watch turtles
and blacktipped reef sharks. When we ascend next to
the lodge jetty, smiling Papuan staff are ready to help
us carry our equipment and to hear tales of what we
I seem to develop a healthy appetite underwater,
so am more than ready for the tasty vegan fare that
Urged by me to jump
into the water, my
valiant heroes join
me with shouts of
glee. They lead me
under the waterfall
to a tranquil space
with stalactites in a
is served at lunchtime, in the opensided dining area.
Maha spends time with each of her guests, with a
natural flair for hospitality. She laughs easily and lives
out her philosophy of treating all people with equal
respect. Men and women workers on the island are
paid the same wages and staff live with their families in
wooden cottages on stilts, next to her room.
Three young Papuan men motor me to a nearby
island, to show me the wildlife and escort me on a
trek to a waterfall. I am intrigued by the biology of
mangroves, freshwater crabs, several species of frogs,
loud calls of hornbills and the array of colourful fungus
on the forest floor. After a fairly easy climb, it becomes
steeper and I flag, expressing my desire to return to the
boat. The three intrepid youngsters cajole, pull, push
and encourage me further, holding my hand when we
cross over rocks and expressing that they are sure I will
enjoy the waterfall. As we crest to view the thundering
waters, I tear up with joy and relief! Stripping off my
muddy clothes, down to my bathing suit, I leap into the
alluring pool below the steep rocky cliff. Urged by me
to jump into the water, my valiant heroes join me with
shouts of glee. They lead me under the waterfall to a
tranquil space with stalactites in a rocky cave.
As I am keen to meet more Papuan people and to
visit a village on a nearby island, I accompany Maha
to a church service. In a simple brick church, after
a journey across the azure sea, I am touched by the
harmony, sincerity and obvious joy in the a cappella
worship of this gathering. When we stroll down the
single street that comprises the village, locals show
me painted walls in their homes, the lush gardens and
allow me to take photographs. This is authentic tourism
and a chance to see how some Papuan tribes live.
I know that this experience is changing me.
Besides becoming a far more competent diver and
creating blissful memories, I feel deeply challenged
to reassess the way I live in the city. I am asking how
responsibly do I use water; how carefully do I recycle
what I buy and what can I do to be kinder to our earth?
Considering the clarity of the stars above MahaRaja
Eco Dive Lodge, the rich abundance of underwater life
here in this Indonesian archipelago and the sweetness
of her people, gratitude wells up within me.
To read more of Gillian McLaren’s features, see
Good to Know
Flights from ORTI in Johannesburg and Cape
Town International Airport depart everyday. There
are many airlines that have flights to Indonesia
from South Africa, however Singapore Airlines was
my airline of choice when I travelled.
From Singapore, take Silk Air - Singapore Airlines’
sister airline - to Jakarta, then a local
Indonesian airline - Lion Air or Garuda - to Sorong.
From Sorong, where MahaRaja Eco Dive Lodge
crew will transport you to the island, a pleasant two
hours journey in a longboat. www.singaporeair.com
Visa for Singapore and Thailand
No visa is required for South African passport
holders. Please check Visa requirements for your
country. Note that your passport must be valid for at
least 6 months and have minimum of 2 blank pages.
What to take
Singapore and Indonesia are hot and humid all year
round. Lightweight, breathable clothing - especially
pure cotton - is best, with a hat or portable umbrella
to protect you from the sun, or a flash rain shower.
Consider comfortable closed shoes if you would like
to walk to explore in Singapore or nearby villages
in Indonesia, but sandals or even slip slops will
suffice. As Indonesia is mostly an Islamic country,
in villages and cities wear pants longer than your
knees with sleeved, loose tops, to show respect for
the culture. In MahaRaja Eco Dive Lodge, cotton
shorts and tops, a sarong or a bathing costume is
perfect. Remember your wetsuit or skin for diving
Highly Recommended Accommodation in
If you extend your trip, consider seeing weird and
wonderful creatures during muck dives, from Dive
into Lembeh or White Sands Beach Resort in the
Lembeh Strait. For coral reefs, with pelagics, stay at
Tasik Ria near to Bunakan Marine National Park,
in Northern Sulawesi.
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• High UVA & UVB protection
• 4 hours water-resistant
ISLAND TRIBE SPF 30 & 50
LIGHT LOTION & INVISIBLE CONTINUOUS SPRAY
Adcock Ingram Healthcare (Pty) Ltd. Reg.no. 2007/019928/07 Private Bag X69, Bryanston, 2021,
South Africa. Tel. +27 11 635 0000. www.adcock.com. Island Tribe ® & Tame The Sun ® are registered
for Special Needs
BY KARIN COETZEE
Occupational Therapist / Disability Consultant
FREEDOM of movement is more important
than freedom of speech or freedom of political
association for a significant portion of our
society. Their primary concern is access to a
pavement, supermarket, restaurant or toilet for the
basic necessities of living. One of their most daunting
tasks is to organise a trip away from home, whether it is
for work, holiday or family events.
Dr Scott Raines, an American researcher and travel
writer once said “Access might be sufficient for survival.
Only inclusion allows the joy of participation.”
People with special needs include senior citizens,
junior citizens in baby strollers, people with visual and
hearing impairments as well as people using mobility
devices such as crutches, walking aids and wheelchairs.
They all want to enjoy a holiday and be included in all
the available activities.
Functional accessibility is needed for every
person to be included in our society and experience
life with dignity. Unfortunately we still create too
many barriers which prevent people from accessing
pavements, buildings, restaurants, outdoor facilities,
beach walkways etc. because we have not adopted the
concept of Universal Design. “Universal Design is a
framework for the design of places, things, information,
communication and policy to be usable by the widest
range of people operating in the widest range of
situations without special or separate design. It is not
a design style but an orientation to any design process
that starts with a responsibility to the experience of the
My knowledge and insight as an Occupational
therapist with 34 yrs experience in rehabilitation led
me to the establishment of a South African data base
for Inclusive Tourism to assist people with special
needs. Then an unfortunate skiing accident left me
with a broken knee and wheelchair bound for 3 months
which further enlightened me to the daunting tasks
that I had to face on a daily basis.
The Disabled Travel website lists accommodation
establishments and facilities, including photographs
and reliable information to assist people with special
needs in making an informed decision.
Many tourism establishments advertise themselves
as being disabled or wheelchair friendly, but
unfortunately they do not comply by international
standards or the National Building regulations.
Only 22,7 % of the more than 1000 accommodation
establishments which were evaluated, was found to
be wheelchair accessible in the bathrooms to some
degree. A guest who booked in at an “accessible” guest
house had to use the toilet in the Wimpy restaurant
in town because there was no access to his bathroom.
There is an erroneous perception that “wheelchair
friendly” means access to the bedroom only and
neither the bathroom, dining room or other facilities
are considered when they advertise. Therefore
it is extremely difficult for people with special
needs to find suitable accommodation or trust the
information on the websites.
I started travelling around the country, visiting
establishments and taking photographs and
measurements to build the data base with reliable
information. If it is not possible to make a
personal visit, I send a list of required
pictures and measurements to an
establishment to complete and then follow up with
It is very important to educate and enlighten the
tourism industry and I strive to create more awareness
whenever I visit an establishment. It is so much easier
and less expensive when the concept of universal
design is used for a bathroom to accommodate the
needs of every possible guest. Guest houses or hotels
are welcome to contact me for assistance and advice
to make changes to existing facilities by sending me
photographs of a bathroom. I will gladly send them the
specifications and make a drawing on their photograph
of possible recommendations.
Universal design and inclusive tourism equally
benefit both senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Dr Raines stated that Accessibility is a revenue source,
not an expense. Many people of retirement age want to
visit other countries and they often have some mobility
or health impediments.
South Africa is not known worldwide as a disabled
–friendly tourism destination and we should strive to
change that perception and claim our share of that
untapped, niche market. Cape Town, the most popular
destination in the country has less than 25 guest houses
which are wheelchair accessible.
Disabled Travel often receive requests from overseas
travelers with disabilities to assist them in finding
suitable accommodation and most of them prefer guest
houses to hotels. If we do not have a suitable listing
on the website, we will source the required facilities
for them. There is a huge shortage of guest houses
in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban for guests
who want to visit medical facilities, attend sport or
recreational events and family functions or participate
in business opportunities.
According to Dr Raines Inclusive Tourism is the
systematic application of Universal Design by the travel
and hospitality industry at every stage of its product,
service, and policy life cycle. So why do we not have
any adequate transport options for people with special
needs? They cannot hire a suitable vehicle at an airport
to accommodate a person sitting in a wheelchair and
only a few private contractors are available, but at a
very high cost. No travelling between cities is possible
in a train or passenger bus and the majority of game
drive vehicles cannot accommodate a guest sitting in a
We want our visitors to come and enjoy everything
that our beautiful country has to offer and we should
strive to make everyone feel welcome and included.
Disabled Travel will gladly assist any establishment
with advice and information to promote universal
design and inclusive tourism. Please contact us by email
From Russia with love…
BY SARAH KINGDOM
AT 5,642m Mt Elbrus is the highest peak in
the Caucus Mountains, a mountain range
which straddles Asia and Europe. It is also
the highest mountain in Europe and one of
the coveted ‘Seven Summits’ (the highest peak on each
of the seven continents). The mountain has two almost
identical peaks, the west summit at 5,642m and the
5,621m east summit; we would only decide which peak
we would attempt once we were on the mountain and
could assess the conditions; but we knew that reaching
either summit would count as a successful climb.
There are two main routes up Elbrus, the ‘usual’
route from the south side, and a more precarious
and challenging route from the north; we would be
attempting the north side. Elbrus is not a technically
difficult mountain, but it is notorious for brutal, fickle
weather, strong winds and freezing temperatures. As
we would discover ourselves, the weather here can
change from sunny skies to blizzard very quickly. Bad
weather conditions, coupled with the elevation, can
create problems for ill equipped or inexperienced
climbers. By number of deaths, Elbrus is one of the
most lethal mountains in the world, with an annual
death toll of between 15 and 30. The climbing season
had only just begun and already four people had died
on the north side of the mountain.
So here we were, a team of eight climbers,
assembled at Base Camp. The conditions on the
mountain were cloudy, it was snowing up high on the
summit, we couldn’t make out even the outline of the
mountain we were here to climb.
Over the following days we would do a series of
hikes and up and down the mountain, getting used to
the climbing conditions and carrying all our gear up
to High Camp ready for our attempt on the summit.
Unlike in the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro or numerous
other mountains, there are no porters/sherpas on
Elbrus. We would be carrying all our own gear. Our
various climbs up and down to High Camp would be
‘load ferries’, where we would drop off much of our
equipment’ including snow boots, ice axes, crampons,
ropes and harnesses; all of which would be need on our
High Camp on the north side of Elbrus is at an
altitude of 3,800m, approximately 1,820m below the
summit and has a breathtaking, uninterrupted view of
the mountain above. With all my climbing expeditions
in the past I have slept in tents, no matter what the
weather conditions. On Elbrus however we would sleep
in what are referred to as ‘barrels’. In reality the ‘barrel’
was a slightly insulated metal shed, with enough space,
just about, for the twelve members of our group to
sleep, on the floor. We would spend four nights here.
On our third night, we set off for the summit.
Conditions are not looking favourable. However
knowing conditions were forecast to get worse in the
upcoming days and that there were fair number of
experienced climbers in the group we decided to make
an attempt. So just after midnight we set off.
It took us almost exactly twelve hours of nonstop
climbing to reach the summit. Two of the team
dropped out at 5,000m, another dropped out at
5,100m, leaving just five of us to continue on to the top.
In almost total whiteout conditions and with constant
snow and high winds, every hundred metres gain in
altitude was taking us about 40 min, so when the third
Counting climbers, guides and support staff, we
were 14 tipsy people, who hadn’t washed for 8 days,
still wearing our climbing clothes… in a tent, in a
field, in the wilds of Russia!
Photos: Sarah Kingdom
team mate dropped out we still had an expected 4
hours to go, to cover the remaining distance to the top,
followed by another three hours to get back down.
It was bitterly cold and my fingers, despite being
in gloves rated to -35deg, were frozen and felt like a
million tiny needles were being stabbed into them. I
kept wriggling my fingers. I didn’t want them to get
so cold that I couldn’t feel them. The few exposed
portions of my face were stinging from the constant
blasting of wind-blown snow. My insulated water
bottle, which had started the night filled with boiling
water, was ice when I finally managed to retrieve it
from the depths of my rucksack. One team mates
GoPro had frozen and stopped working, as had her
GPS and tracking device. The last few metres to the
top I was walking about twenty steps, stopping to catch
my breath, walking another twenty steps, and resting
With poor visibility and numerous crevasses on
the mountain, it was important not to separate. When
we finally reached the summit, the conditions were
so bad and visibility so poor that we could have been
anywhere! Five minutes to attempt to take a few
photos and then we started our decent. Fifteen hours
after we set off, we returned to High Camp, where we
fell into our sleeping bags and slept. The floor didn’t
feel so uncomfortable this time!
Our expedition ended the following night with an
evening of vodka drinking lessons, conducted by our
support crew, back in Base Camp.
Counting climbers, guides and support staff, we
were 14 tipsy people, who hadn’t washed for 8 days,
still wearing our climbing clothes… in a tent, in a field,
in the wilds of Russia!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Mt. Elbrus, 5642M, is the highest peak in the Caucas
Mountains, the mountains that straddle Asia and
Europe. Elbrus is also the highest mountain in Europe
and hence one of the Seven Summits.
After arriving in Moscow you will need to take a
domestic flight from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport
to Mineralyne Vody and then transfer by road to
Kislovodsk (the closest town to Elbrus), the town is
located 50km from Mineralyne Vody airport.
There are 2 popular routes to climb Elbrus – the
standard southern route and the more challenging,
tougher and less populated northern route.
Whilst you can climb Elbrus from April to October on
the North Side (and even into early December on the
South Side) the very best season for climbing is June –
BOOKING THE CLIMB
It is imperative to climb Elbrus with an experienced
guide. I have climbed the mountain a number of times
and always use Elbrus Tours http://www.elbrustours.
ru as my support company when taking my clients to
do the climb, you can book fixed date departure tours
direct through them.
It is important to start training to climbing Elbrus
several months in advance, as dependent on weather
conditions, the climb can be a tough one. You need
a good level of fitness and stamina. Running, hiking,
cycling, are all good ways of preparing for the climb,
as is time spent in the gym. Focusing on your leg
strength is pretty imperative, so even without a gym
membership you can find a good long flight of stairs
and spend time simply going up and down them over
and over... boring but useful! No great technical skills
are required for the climb, and things like use of ropes,
ice-axes and crampons etc. will be taught to you on the
mountain by your guide.
Most nationalities require a visa to travel to Russia.
Passports need to be valid for at least 6 months from
date of submission of the application. An online visa
application form needs to be filled in, printed off,
signed and have two colour photos attached, as well
as a covering letter from the applicant stating purpose
and duration of stay, copies of air tickets and a letter of
invitation or voucher receipt from the tour company.
Visa application is then submitted, with application
fee, to your local Russian Embassy. Embassies are
not open every day and so some advance planning is
LALELA is an isiZulu word that means “to
listen” and it is at the heart of what we do.
By listening to the individual stories of the
at-risk youth we assist with educational
arts programmes, we are better able to understand
the challenges the face. We can then come up with
solutions for them as well as their communities.
Lalela was founded by two friends, Sandy Tabatznik
and Andrea Kerzner, in the wake of the FIFA World
Cup in 2010. It opened its doors to 20 students, and
today we reach approximately 5 500 youths each week
in South Africa, with programmes that are designed to
spark creative thinking and awaken the entrepreneurial
spirit. Our primary communities of operation are
Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg, Masiphumelele, Happy
Valley, Melkbos, Pniel, Mfuleni, Zeitz Mocca in
the Western Cape, Maboneng Precinct in Gauteng,
Rorke’s Drift and Westville Durban in KwaZulu-Natal,
Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and Hope North in North
Our curriculum develops imagination and
creativity, which leads to innovative solution thinking.
By activating whole-brain and creative thought, we
aim to encourage children to dream about a different
future. We provide them with the tools to map and
manifest their dreams and goals, launching possibilities
for themselves and their communities.
We start early (age 6) in developing the art of
imagination and we continue through Grade 12 to
connect the arts to everything important in a child’s
life, from core academics to critical life skills.
The students attending Lalela invariably live in
informal settlements with severely limited service and
utility provisions. In these communities, which are
ravaged by crime, poverty, gangsterism, HIV/AIDS
and physical abuse, youth unemployment runs at 70%,
compared to the 43% applicable to South Africa as a
Lalela programmes create permanent change with
a positive outlook, community role models, and the
mind-set for our students to design a more certain
future for themselves and their communities.
This season’s must-have fashion item for men?
The Suit Pocket Square by Lalela Scarf!
Lalela Scarf’s brand-new Spring/Summer range
provides stylish accoutrements for men who appreciate
the finer things in life. This international luxury brand,
which supports a non-profit arts education programme
for at-risk youth in sub-Saharan Africa, has its finger
on the pulse of global fashion. Its elegant items always
make a statement, whether worn by businessmenabout-town,
counter-culture aficionados, or on-trend
Lalela Scarf’s latest men’s range includes scarves,
pocket squares and bandanas. The collection was
created using Lalela learners’ original artworks, which
are adapted and curated for the season by New Yorkbased
Creative Director Sandy Tabatznik.
Light, colour-saturated items float in breezy
featherweight silks and are guaranteed to brighten up
your life, whether carried in the breast pocket of your
suit or worn around your neck. Their strong visual
appeal and social impact make them this season’s musthave
fashion item for men of style.
The new range is available through selected retail
outlets in the USA, South Africa and Australia, as
well as online via www.thelalelascarf.co.za or www.
Please contact email@example.com for Lalela Scarf
enquiries for USA and Europe.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for Lalela
Scarf enquiries for Africa.
Please contact email@example.com or oliver@lalela.
org for information about Lalela.
Follow Lalela Scarf on social media via:
With festive season social occasions just around
the corner, Spier has the perfect quick-and-easy
dish for your guests – and it goes wonderfully
with a glass of Spier’s crisp Signature Chenin
Blanc 2019. These pan-fried, Parma ham-wrapped
asparagus spears are ideal for a cocktail party,
lunch or dinner. They make an elegant starter but
can also add magic to a larger spread as a side
Be careful not to overcook the asparagus – they
can easily become limp and lose their colour.
Once you’ve successfully made the luxurious
hollandaise sauce (it’s not as difficult as you might
think), you’ll be able to move on to classic Eggs
Benedict for breakfast. Your weekend mornings
will never be the same!
Pan-fried asparagus and Parma ham with
Paired with Spier Signature Chenin Blanc 2019
For the hollandaise sauce:
(serves 4 as a starter)
• 3 extra-large egg yolks
• 30ml (2 tablespoons) lemon juice (or apple
• pinch of salt
• 150g butter, cubed
For the asparagus:
• About 16-24 asparagus spears (not too thin)
• 16-24 slices Parma ham, very thinly sliced
• 15-30ml (1-2 tablespoons) olive oil
• ¼ cup (60ml) almond flakes, toasted in a dry
• A handful micro herbs, for serving (optional)
Make the hollandaise first so that it’s ready when
the asparagus is fried. Place a small pot filled with
5cm water on the stove and heat to a slow simmer.
In a slightly wider heat-proof bowl (glass or
stainless steel), add the yolks, lemon juice and salt.
Place the bowl over the simmering water, taking
care that the bottom of the mixing bowl doesn’t
touch the water. Start whisking the egg mixture
immediately, whisking steadily as the mixture
heats up. When it starts to thicken (after about 3
to 5 minutes), add a few blocks of butter and keep
on whisking as they melt into the mixture. Keep
on adding more butter until it is all melted and
incorporated, and you are left with a thickened
custard-like sauce. If your mixture becomes too
thick at any stage or looks like it wants to split,
remove it from the heat and add more cold butter
to bring the temperature down, and then
continue as above. Remove from the heat
when ready and set aside until ready to use.
(Add a tablespoon of boiling water to the
mixture to bring it back to pouring consistency
just before serving, if necessary.) Finally, serve
it with Spier’s Signature Chenin Blanc 2019.
The Spier Signature Chenin Blanc 2019 is
available at the Spier wine shop and leading
liquor outlets nationwide.
By choosing Spier, you are supporting Spier’s
Growing for Good learning initiatives that
empower communities to create positive
social and environmental change.
BY BOB MCCULLOUGH
When most people think of Texas, they
recall things they’ve seen in the movies
like cowboys, horses and rugged, wideopen
But Texas is now developing a reputation as a
destination for travelers with special needs. Historic
and beautiful San Antonio deep in the heart of Texas
is the home of Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first
theme park designed with special-needs individuals
in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment. Since it
opened in 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland has welcomed
approximately 1.6 million guests from all 50 states in
the U. S. and 73 other countries.
“My wife, Maggie, and I are blessed with a 26-yearold
daughter, Morgan, who’s dealt with physical
and cognitive challenges since birth,” says Gordon
Hartman, who gave up a successful career as a
homebuilder to devote his energies to helping people of
all ages with special needs. “Morgan doesn’t realize it,
but she’s been the catalyst for new and different ways
to assist and shine the spotlight on the special-needs
community. It’s her inspiration that led to San Antonio
being proclaimed ‘Inclusion City, USA’ in 2015.”
While on vacation in 2006, Hartman witnessed a
life-changing incident. “Morgan, who was splashing in
the hotel swimming pool, wanted to toss a ball around
with kids at the other end of the pool,” Hartman recalls.
“They sensed there was something different about
Morgan, so they abruptly took their ball and exited the
pool. I’ll never forget the look of surprise and anguish
on Morgan’s face. That got me to thinking there must
be a better way to bridge the gap of misunderstanding
between those with and without special needs. This
led to the creation of Morgan’s Wonderland, which
uses the common denominator of play to create an
atmosphere of inclusion.”
The completely-accessible, $36-million theme park in
Northeast San Antonio opened in spring 2010. Its 25
attractions including rides, playscapes, gardens and
other facilities enable those with special needs to do
the same things as individuals without disabilities and
boost their confidence in a safe, colorful, affordable
atmosphere of enjoyment. Anyone with a special need
is admitted free of charge.
Generally speaking, Morgan’s Wonderland is open
on select days from March through November. In
December, the park decorates for the holidays and
presents “A Wonderland Christmas,” special evening
entertainment. For the latest information on days and
hours of operation, special events and admissions, visit
“I can’t begin to tell you how many lives Morgan’s
Wonderland has touched, but I believe it’s a big
number,” Hartman says. “Special-needs guests
immerse themselves in having fun with family and
friends, and they surprise and amaze themselves in
doing things they thought were not personally possible.
When we opened Morgan’s Wonderland, we didn’t
know what to expect, but the park’s acceptance and
growing popularity encouraged us to pursue a major
expansion – Morgan’s Inspiration Island.”
Morgan’s Inspiration Island
Summers in Texas can be scorchers, so in response to
many guest requests for something cool and refreshing,
Hartman and company unveiled Morgan’s Inspiration
Island – the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park
– in June 2017. This $17-million, 4-acre attraction
features five tropically-themed splash pads, the River
Boat Adventure ride and extensive support facilities.
Like Morgan’s Wonderland, admission for anyone with
a special need is free.
Guests in wheelchair that previously may have been
unable to visit a splash park have the opportunity to
privately transfer out of their chairs into three types
of waterproof chairs – one of them the PneuChair
powered by compressed air and developed by Morgan’s
Wonderland in collaboration with the University of
Pittsburgh. This gives guests the opportunity to enjoy
Morgan’s Inspiration Island and not risk damage to
their personal, expensive, battery-operated wheelchairs.
Because of its uniqueness, Morgan’s Inspiration Island
earned recognition on TIME magazine’s 2018 list of
World’s Greatest Places.
“Inclusion is our mission,” Hartman says, “and
this is clearly evident at Morgan’s Wonderland and
Morgan’s Inspiration Island, where everyone can play.
This also will be the case as we complete other projects
in the near future.”
Morgan’s Wonderland Camp
Earlier this year, Hartman announced plans to
construct ultra-accessible Morgan’s Wonderland
Camp, a 102-acre recreational oasis on the northern
outskirts of San Antonio that year-round will offer a
summer-camp-type experience to people of all ages
with and without special needs. The $28-million
project, made possible with generous support from
Valero Energy, will accommodate at one time more
than 500 campers of all ages and abilities along with
staff for day, weekend or week-long camp sessions.
Facilities will include horse stables, hiking trails, a
nature farm, multiple pools, a relaxing river, a sports
pavilion and even a zipline that can accommodate
wheelchairs. Projected completion is the latter half of
Morgan’s Wonderland Sports
Morgan’s Wonderland Sports, a $3-million complex
that will offer fitness and competition for athletes with
different abilities, is currently nearing completion. The
3-acre facility will provide 8,000 square feet of covered
space for wheelchair sports – basketball, softball,
baseball, football, soccer, pickleball and tennis. Two
acres of concrete playing surfaces will be tinted to
minimize heat from the sun and striped in accordance
with regulation dimensions for the various sports.
“We’ve learned a great deal from every project
undertaken to help those with disabilities,” Hartman
notes. “That knowledge and countless interactions
with special-needs individuals have spurred us to
pursue new and better ways to serve the specialneeds
community. The assistance we’ve been able to
deliver has been achieved without any governmental
support. Instead, generous foundations, corporations,
organizations, groups and individuals have provided
the financial energy we’ve needed to move forward.”
Always advocating for collaboration and
cooperation, Hartman firmly believes: “Together, we
ARE MAKING a difference!”
The Mandela sculpture at the Capture Site is
breathtaking in its simplicity. Photo: Supplied
A misty Midlands morning – the scenery across the KZN Midlands
is spectacular. Photo: Karen Edwards of Karen E Photography
BY GAYNOR LAWSON
Looking for a fun and family-friendly holiday destination? The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is
an ideal option for numerous reasons. It’s close to the N3 highway that links Johannesburg
and Durban, so it’s an easy stop-over for travellers heading to the coast. It is also
conveniently located for trips to the battlefields, Drakensberg Mountains, and the many
game reserves the province has to offer, for a central Beach-Battlefields-Berg-Bush hub.
Its lush green hills offer diverse attractions on the routes of the Midlands Meander (033
330-8195; www.midlandsmeander.co.za), an iconic tourism success story that dates back
to the 1980s, when a group of artists and crafters aimed to attract visitors to their studios
to see them at work and buy directly from them. Today it’s a ‘something-for-everyone’
kaleidoscope of restaurants and pubs; spas, 5-star getaways, historic hotels and remote
retreats; a multi-faceted destination for thrill-seekers and outdoor fans, and generally a
wonderful place to relax and have a good time.
FOR those seeking outdoor activities, the
Midlands has tons to offer all ages and fitness
levels. Fly-fishing has been a much-loved local
activity since trout were brought to KZN in the
1800s, and today, trout fishing can be enjoyed at many
dams and riverside spots: ask fly-fishing experts Wildfly
(www.wildfly.co.za) at Gowrie Centre in Nottingham
A somewhat different outdoor activity for groups
of four or more is clay pigeon shooting with Country
Pursuits (www.dirtyboots.co.za). Clay shooting is an
Olympic sport, with clay targets flung from a ‘trap’, a
spring-loaded metal throwing arm that propels targets
for up to 135 metres. Clay shoots started in the late
1800s so people could enjoy shooting airborne targets
as an alternative to costly hunting weekends held by the
‘landed gentry’. It’s great for team-building, wedding
groups and birthday parties.
Another hugely popular sport hereabouts is golf,
with fans spoiled for choice. Set in the central Midlands
village of Nottingham Road, Gowrie Golf Club (www.
gowrie.co.za) has a classic links-styled par 70, 9-hole
course, with a relaxed rural atmosphere. Nearby is the
Bosch Hoek Golf Course (www.boschhoek.co.za). Built
in 1963 by renowned golf architect and course designer,
Bob Grimsdell, this nine-hole, eighteen-pin course is
legendary. Another golfing spot in the breathtaking
surrounds of the Kamberg is Glengarry (www.
glengarry.co.za) in the foothills of the Drakensberg. All
three courses offer accommodation for keen golfers to
totally immerse themselves in the game.
Also in the Kamberg is Qambathi Mountain Lodge
(www.qambathi.com), an upmarket boutique getaway
Suites at Fordoun 5-star hotel and spa were built from the
original settler homestead and farm buildings.
Photo: Fordoun Hotel & Spa
The magnificent rock art at Game Pass Shelter in the Kamberg Nature
Reserve is reached by a short hike. Photo: Supplied
where personalised attention, comfort and magnificent
mountain scenery are on the menu. It’s close to
Kamberg Nature Reserve and its magnificent rock art
and is just the spot for those wanting to escape.
If you are more of an inside sort, then a good time is
easy to attain no matter what the weather. At the 5-star
Fordoun Hotel & Spa (www.fordoun.com), guests
can choose from a wide selection of indoor wellness
pursuits. In addition to soothing facials and massages
and other pampering options, there’s a gym area and
indoor heated pool, plus the gourmet Skye Bistro. If
the sun is out, then make the most of the trails around
the Fordoun estate, either on foot or via mountain bike.
Also in Nottingham Road, the Brookdale Health Hydro
(www.brookdale.co.za) is your must-go spot if you need
to wind down and escape from the daily stresses of life.
Brahman Hills Hotel and Spa (www.brahmanhills.
co.za) is another luxury Midlands landmark with lots to
offer. Again, all of the treats of a spa are available and
guests can stroll or MTB around the expansive grounds
and nature reserve where game such as antelope and
zebras graze alongside the handsome cattle that lend
their name to this multi-faceted destination. There is
also a Park Run through the estate every Saturday for
those who favour the freedom of the open trail.
Star Dam Estate in the Dargle Valley (www.
offers a tranquil, luxurious retreat set in vast pristine
spaces. There are several upmarket serviced lodges to
choose from, all set around the unique star-shaped
dam. With horse riding and MTB trails plus boats for
fishing and exploring the trout-stocked waters, there’s
plenty to keep a family of all ages busy.
At Indigo Fields (www.indigofields.co.za) you can
explore self-indulgent soothing outdoors, as their
Chilling out at one of the guest cottages at Brahman Hills. Photo: Karen Edwards of Karen E Photography
skilled therapists conduct spa treatments in bomas
situated around the farm (equipped with heaters for
snuggly pampering even on cooler days). There is
nothing quite like having stresses and tension eased
from tired muscles while surrounded by birdcalls, the
sounds of a running stream and the scents of nature.
When it comes to dining, the Midlands is a
smorgasbord of options. Linga Lapa (www.lingalapa.
co.za) is a cosy restaurant, butchery and deli with
panoramic views of the Drakensberg and a reputation
for outstanding one-nibble-is-not-enough biltong.
The proprietor, Ian Mackay, is a farmer, butcher and
restaurateur, so you know the meat is going to be good.
Just a few kilometres away is Netherwood (www.
netherwoodfarm.com), an expansive estate that offers
weddings as well as a coffee shop at Blueberry Hills, the
appropriately-named Happy Days craft beer brewery, a
steakhouse and peaceful gin lounge. Again, spectacular
views and yet more great food!
In Nottingham Road, the hub of the KZN Midlands,
you’ll find the legendary Notties Hotel (www.
nottieshotel.co.za), famed for its wood-paneled bar,
comfy hotel and garden suites, and scenic garden eating
(a great space for kids and dog-friendly too). Their lady
ghost, Charlotte, is also quite well-known. Set at the
crossroads where the roads to the interior once met,
this spot has been a hostelry since the 1800s, so it’s no
wonder that it’s a landmark - or haunted!
Craft beer and gin are found across the Midlands,
but the longest-running local brewery is Nottingham
Road Brewery at the picturesque thatched Rawdons
Hotel (www.rawdons.co.za). Here brew-master John
Morrow creates the deliciously named Pickled Pig
Porter, Tiddly Toad Lager and Whistling Weasel Pale
Qambathi Mountain Lodge is a secluded luxury retreat in the Kamberg’s mountain foothills. Photo: Qambathi and Tammy@littlethingspics
Fly-fishing is available at dams and rivers across the Midlands. Photo: Chris Allen and Star Dam Estate
Ale, with several other animals in the beer menagerie.
A selection of flavoured gins is also recommended – a
tasting ‘paddle’ with four sample glasses is a great way
to work out what tickles your fancy. The pub grub,
served outside under vast oaks, is worth exploring too.
These beers are available at several outlets across the
Midlands, including the next-door Austrian pub, The
Bierfassl (www.bierfassl.co.za), which has tables in the
sun and a playground.
Another kid-friendly venue is the nearby Junction
Centre, which offers a wide range of shops including
Chocolate Heaven for chocolate-dipping and delicious
handcrafted choccies (www.chocolateheaven.co.za)
and Funtasy toy shop – a treasure trove of quality toys,
games and marbles (www.funtasy.co.za). The centre’s
District 103 restaurant has tables outside so parents
can chill while the kids roam free and play.
A similar family-focused centre is located near the
neighbouring town of Howick, about 20 minutes away.
The Piggly Wiggly complex (www.pigglywiggly.co.za)
started out as a roadside fresh produce stall that has
flourished into a shopping-eating-fun-activities Mecca
for all ages, with a miniature railway and a zipline for
Wines might not be something you’d associate with
KZN, but alongside Piggly Wiggly is the acclaimed
Highgate Wine Estate and Menu restaurant (www.
highgatewineestate.co.za). Abingdon Wine Estate
and its restaurant (www.abingdonestate.co.za) is also
just down the road, as is the iconic Steampunk Coffee
(www.steampunkcoffee.co.za), with its glorious artisan
roasted coffee. It’s en route to the Mandela Capture
Site (www.thecapturesite.co.za), where the tall steel
bars of the Mandela sculpture merge into an image of
the great man. A scenic spot for coffee and light meals
is The Barn Owl, high on the valley’s hillside in the
grounds of leatherwear must-visit Groundcover (www.
So there you have it: a few of the many attractions
of the KZN Midlands. There’s a lot more: waterfalls, art
studios, old churches, indigenous forests, fine cheeses
and other fabulous food from local farms, so come and
see for yourself!
Linga Lapa deli offers a feast of goodies and superb biltong.
The Nottingham Road Brewery offers craft beer and gin
along with Rawdons’ excellent food in a country setting.
Clay shooting will test your target-shooting skills.
Photo: Country Pursuits
STAND A CHANCE OF WINNING
AN ISLAND TRIBE SUNSCREEN HAMPER
VALUED AT R650!
It’s a sizzling hot summer and this hamper is the perfect accompaniment to all the fun in the sun you’re set to
have! Valued at R650, the hamper contains a drawstring bag and Island Tribe products including Light Lotion Tube
[SPF50] (200ml), Light Lotion Trigger Spray [SPF40] (300ml), Invisible Continuous Spray [SPF50] (125ml) and Kids
[SPF50] Invisible Continuous Spray (320ml).
As fellow members of the Rainbow Nation, we at Island Tribe celebrate our diversity, offering a range of sunscreen
products as diverse as we are. There’s a sunscreen for everyone, families, the weekend warriors and the full-time
adventurers. We also recognise that there’s one thing we all need: protection from the harsh African Sun.
Island Tribe has you covered!
Visit www.islandtribe.co.za for more information and join the conversations on Facebook and Instagram.
If you would like to be a winner of this fantastic hamper, please send through
a high resolution picture of you and your loved ones having Fun In The Sun to
firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than 10 February 2020. Winners will be
contacted by 20 February and announced in the March 2020 issue.
A visit to
will be the
BY WILLIAM SMOOK
IT’S revered as one of the natural world’s great
spectacles, and the raw power of the mighty
Zambezi River plunging 108m into the mighty
Victoria Falls has spawned awe and legends for
There’s really no better time to visit the falls, than
right at this moment, says Desmond O’Connor, Head
of kulula holidays. “We reckon the low-season, from
October to January is ideal for seeing the rainbow’s
hues in the spray of the falls, as well as the region’s
renowned hospitality and outdoor activities. He
suggests the following:
Take a cruise: It’s become a rite of passage for
visitors to take one of the many sunset cruises offered
on the stretch of river above the falls. There’s a good
reason for that popularity: on this beautiful stretch of
river it’s common to see massive herds of elephants
of all ages drinking and bathing. The mothers drop
their young in huge numbers at this time of the year
and watching the new-borns frolick in the water is a
delight. You’ll be close enough to hear the splashing of
the hippos and the distinctive, contented, deep-bass
rumbling of the elephants while sipping a sundowner.
Some cruises offer a full supper aboard. See www.
Tackle the wild waters: The low season has much in
store for those travellers who don’t want to get caught
up in the total might of the great Zambezi, but would
still like a rush of adrenalin. Excursions range from a
morning in the waters of the Batoka Gorge, to fivenight
trips that combine fishing, game-watching and
camping with braving the Zambezi.
Step off the edge: A number of operators on the
Zimbabwe and Zambia side of Victoria Falls offer a
variety of adventure-sports, including bridge-swings,
bungee-jumps and zip-wire slides. All these take full
advantage of the chasm carved by the river and allow
for stomach-swooping fun, with a strong emphasis on
One option that’s less intense than the free-fall
of bungee-jumping is the Flying Fox, where you slide
along a zipline in a horizontal position, and as the
name suggests, it feels a little like flying. With the
water at its lowest, you might escape being soaked by
Lunch on Livingstone Island: When the Zambezi
River is high, 10 million litres of water rush over the
lip of Victoria Falls each second, crashing down 108
metres below. Livingstone Island sits in the heart of
this spray, on the brink of one of the Seven Natural
Wonders of the World, and offers an experience only
available when the water is at its lowest and the island
is accessible. You’ll follow the footsteps of the explorers
of yore as you tour the island, hear about its history,
experience luxury dining, and soak up the sights.
Watch the game: Game viewing peaks during the
low-season months as water is scarce and hordes of
animals gather around permanent water sources. This
is also when migrant birds start to arrive, a boon for
twitchers from across the world.
Catch the moonbow: The falls can send mist up
to 800m in the air, which can be seen from 50km
away. You might see multiple rainbows, and if you’re
fortunate enough to visit the falls at full moon there
may be a moonbow, a rainbow lit by the full moon:
truly a memory to treasure.
Brave the Devil’s Pool: In the low-season, stouthearted
visitors can slip into a pool at the very edge
of the cataract at Livingstone Island, and peer over
the slippery lip of rock into the abyss. Heed the
experienced guides who escort you there, take a deep
breath and earn some serious bragging rights.
BY NICK ORSMOND
THE Southeast Asian country of Thailand,
also known as “The Land of Smiles”, is
already a popular destination for South
African travellers. With a reputation for
blissful beaches and idyllic islands, the south of the
country receives a lot of attention: Phuket, Bangkok
and Koh Samui are tourist hotspots, offering outof-this-world
experiences in a setting befitting of a
James Bond movie (in fact, 1974’s “The Man With The
Golden Gun” was filmed in the stunning Phang Nga
Bay…) That said, Thailand’s northern region offers a
wealth of opportunities to immerse oneself in culture
and traditions, and interact with locals who have a
reputation for unmatched friendliness, tolerance and
hospitality. These regions include the likes of Chiang
Mai, Chiang Rai and Trat.
Chiang Mai is a city in the mountainous areas of
northern Thailand. Rich in history, it was once the
capital of the Lanna Kingdom, with many historical
structures still in existence today. Old City is a mustvisit,
where Nimmanhaemin Road has developed into a
hotspot hub for both tourists and locals. Shopping and
dining options aplenty, there is something for everyone,
including those with a special interest in unique
handicrafts, art, antiques and clothes – boutiques,
galleries and dining options lining the street. This is the
place to experience both old and new-world Thailand,
as modern hustle and bustle takes place within an
North of Chiang Mai, located a total of 785
kilometres from Bangkok, lies Chiang Rai, the capital of
Thailand’s northernmost province. Situated alongside
the famous Kok River, Chiang Rai and its surrounds
is home to the ethnic hill tribes of Akha, Lahu, Karen
and Hmong. The region has a long history with small
kingdoms dating back to the pre-Thai period. The
King Mengrai Monument commemorates the founder
of Chiang Rai, and holds an extensive collection of
artefacts, many of which once belonging to or affiliated
with the Lanna Kingdoms. As is true throughout
Thailand, Buddhism is prevalent in this region, with
elaborate temples dotting the landscape. Notably,
Photos: Nick Orsmond
the White Temple – also known as Wat Rong
Khun – is particularly eye-catching. Still under
construction (most temples in Thailand boast
a rich history spanning hundreds of years), this
magnificent place of worship is the realisation of
a dream for well-known Thai artist Chalermchai
Kositpipat. There is also a gallery close by which
showcases his other works.
For those travellers who consider themselves
beach lovers, but also want to avoid the crowds of
more popular destinations, the province of Trat
is a great option. Located in Thailand’s southeast
corner, and bordered by Cambodia along the
Cardamom Mountains, the region also has a coast
on the Gulf of Thailand. This means that much like
the Mu Koh Ang Thong National Marine park near
Koh Samui, Trat boasts an impressive collection
of spectacular islands. White sand beaches and
coral reefs, many of which lie within Mu Ko
Chang National Park, offer the typical islandstyle
experience for which Thailand is so famous.
Moreover, cultural experiences in this region can
be especially rewarding – locals very welcoming
and willing to engage with tourists.
Take advantage of
our growing network
Dar es Salaam
(+27) 21 202 1193
(+27) 11 289 8050