SAandBeyond Magazine December 2019 publish

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Travel Magazine


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SA&BEYOND 1


EDITOR’S NOTE

Inclusivity in

Tourism

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

available below.

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

we go.

Wishing you safe travels!

Sunisha

Publisher/ Editor-In-Chief

Sunisha Sookdew

Sales Team

Sunisha Sookdew

info@sa-beyond.co.za

Sandra Zacharopoulos

sandra@sa-beyond.co.za

Design Director

Rajesh Mungroo

+27 84 015 3887

Contributors

Gaynor Lawson

Michele Immelman

Sarah Kingdom

Di Brown

Dawn Jorgensen

Gillian Mclaren

Ritesh Sookdew

Sunika Hobraj

Production

Shereno Printers

Distribution:

Media Support

Services (Pty) Ltd

www.sa-beyond.co.za

SA and Beyond

@SAandBeyond

© 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.

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SA&BEYOND


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 reservations@walkersons.co.za

Facebook: Walkersons Hotel & Spa

Twitter: Walkersons Hotel

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


LAUNCH OF

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.

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Congratulations

to Rathna Sewdass

who represented

Border Air at the

launch. She was the

winner of the social

media competition

held on the day.

SA&BEYOND 5


In ThisIssue

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

Seabell Restaurant

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”

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11

15

21

24

28

30

32

38

40

47

52

58

62

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SA&BEYOND 7


TOURISM EXCELLENCE

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.

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A

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

programmes.

“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.

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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

are:

In-hotel conference centre

Events venue

Function venue

Conference Centre

Convention & exhibition centre

Meetings, exhibitions and special events

Apartment hotel

Boutique Hotel

Small Hotel

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

the sector.

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.

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SOUTH AFRICA

Joseph

the

Blind

Barista

SA&BEYOND 11


BY JOSEPH MATHEATAU

I’M Joseph Matheatau. I was born in Welkom and

I was raised by my garndparents in a small village

in Thaba-Nchu.

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

my

left

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

understand

why my

friends

and I

could see it

couldn’t.

Despite

all this, I

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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

SA&BEYOND 13


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.

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

job.

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

Coffee.

Against all odds, I can beat the odds...

Contact details:

josephmbarista@gmail.com

Facebook: @blindbarista

TigerCanyon-HP.pdf 1 23/11/2018 14:08

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INDIA

agical

umbai Moments

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.

SA&BEYOND 15


Dhobi Ghats

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

welcomed.

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

clean.

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

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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

centuries already.

Cuisine

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,

SA&BEYOND 17


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.

Tiffin Wallahs

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...

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Victoria Station

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

does!

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

SA&BEYOND 19


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.

Journeys

Curious

Mich Immelman

+2782 567 6933

mich@CuriousJourneys.co.za

CuriousJourneys.co.za

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SOUTH AFRICA

McGREGOR

for a

Soulful

Getaway

BY DAWN JORGENSEN

Street Scene Photos: Dawn Jorgensen

SA&BEYOND 21


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

Cape Town.

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

getaways.

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

with McGregor.

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

Georgian homes.

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

22

SA&BEYOND


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

loving

care to destitute,

retired,

abused and rescued

donkeys.

The work that

they

do there is

admirable.

This

last visit with

my

was

beloved Mom

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

brewed kombucha,

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

main road

Buildings on the main road

Temenos Retreat

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

to https://www.mcgregor-accommodation.

co.za/. Rhythm Full On is a strictly

vegetarian household. Learn more about the

Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary at https://

www.donkeysanctuary.co.za/.

SA&BEYOND 23


SOUTH AFRICA

A family

reunion

in nature,

and the dogs

came too

Oewerbos, evening paddle and a swim for the dogs Photos: Di Brown

24

SA&BEYOND


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

the day.

Welcome to

Oewerbos on the

mighty Orange

River, where they

invite you to let the

magic of nature fill

your soul.

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

origins.

Slow living

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

the day.

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

SA&BEYOND 25


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

Accommodation.

Oewerbos offers:

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

26

SA&BEYOND


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.

Facilities

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

entertainment.

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

Getting there

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

Oewerbos.

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.

www.oewerbos.co.za

SA&BEYOND 27


ALL HEARTS FOUNDATION

To theRescue

Photos: Corrie Barnard Photography

28

SA&BEYOND


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

https://www.facebook.com/loveshimbungu/

Our website is www.allheartsfoundation.co.za

Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.

com/AllHeartsFoundationSA/

Instagram: @all_hearts_foundation

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

below)

Our PayPal, you can donate by using the below

email address: allheartsfoundationsa@gmail.com

SA&BEYOND 29


MAURITIUS

30

SA&BEYOND


Authentic

Mauritian food at

Seabell Restaurant

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

Restaurant.

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

must.

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.

SA&BEYOND 31


INDONESIA

32

SA&BEYOND


Far from

the madding

crowd

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)

SA&BEYOND 33


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

experienced.

I seem to develop a healthy appetite underwater,

so am more than ready for the tasty vegan fare that

34

SA&BEYOND


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

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.

www.maharajaecodivelodge.com

To read more of Gillian McLaren’s features, see

www.gillianmclaren.blogspot.com

SA&BEYOND 35


Good to Know

Getting there:

Singapore Airlines

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

or snorkelling.

Highly Recommended Accommodation in

Indonesia

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.

www.diveintolembeh.com

www.eco-divers.com/new-eco-divers-resort-lembeh

www.tasikria.com

36

SA&BEYOND


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SA&BEYOND 37


Universal Access

for Special Needs

BY KARIN COETZEE

Occupational Therapist / Disability Consultant

38

SA&BEYOND


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

user.”

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

telephonic evaluation.

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

wheelchair.

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

info@disabledtravel.co.za.

www.disabledtravel.co.za

SA&BEYOND 39


RUSSIA

From Russia with love…

Mt Elbrus

BY SARAH KINGDOM

40

SA&BEYOND


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

summit attempt.

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

SA&BEYOND 41


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

again.

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!

42

SA&BEYOND


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

ORIENTATION

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.

CLIMBING ELBRUS

There are 2 popular routes to climb Elbrus – the

standard southern route and the more challenging,

tougher and less populated northern route.

SEASON

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 –

August.

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.

PREPARATION

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.

VISA

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

essential.

SA&BEYOND 43


The Story

behind

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

Uganda.

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

whole.

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.

44

SA&BEYOND


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

under-13s.

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.

thelalelascarf.org.

Please contact scarves@lalela.org for Lalela Scarf

enquiries for USA and Europe.

Please contact heidi@africanlabd.co.za for Lalela

Scarf enquiries for Africa.

Please contact leigh@lalela.org or oliver@lalela.

org for information about Lalela.

Follow Lalela Scarf on social media via:

twitter.com/lalelascarf

www.facebook.com/thelalelascarf

www.instagram.com/thelalelascarf/

SA&BEYOND 45


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

dish.

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

hollandaise

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

cider vinegar)

• 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

(roughly 120-150g)

• 15-30ml (1-2 tablespoons) olive oil

• ¼ cup (60ml) almond flakes, toasted in a dry

pan

• A handful micro herbs, for serving (optional)

Method:

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.

www.spier.co.za

46

SA&BEYOND


USA

Morgan’s

Wonderland

Where

Everyone

can play

SA&BEYOND 47


BY BOB MCCULLOUGH

When most people think of Texas, they

recall things they’ve seen in the movies

like cowboys, horses and rugged, wideopen

spaces.

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.”

Morgan’s Wonderland

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

www.MorgansWonderland.com.

“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

48

SA&BEYOND


SA&BEYOND 49


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

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SA&BEYOND


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

2020.

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!”

www.morganswonderland.com

SA&BEYOND 51


SOUTH AFRICA

Exploring

the KwaZulu-Natal

Midlands

The Mandela sculpture at the Capture Site is

breathtaking in its simplicity. Photo: Supplied

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SA&BEYOND


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.

SA&BEYOND 53


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

Road.

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.

lekkeslaap.co.za/akkommodasie/star-dam-estate)

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

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SA&BEYOND


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

SA&BEYOND 55


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

the adventurous.

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.

groundcover.co.za).

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.

Photo: Supplied

The Nottingham Road Brewery offers craft beer and gin

along with Rawdons’ excellent food in a country setting.

Photo: Supplied

Clay shooting will test your target-shooting skills.

Photo: Country Pursuits

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SA&BEYOND


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

admin@sa-beyond.co.za by no later than 10 February 2020. Winners will be

contacted by 20 February and announced in the March 2020 issue.

SA&BEYOND 57


58

SA&BEYOND


A visit to

Victoria Falls

in the

low-season

will be the

Biggest High!

BY WILLIAM SMOOK

SA&BEYOND 59


ZAMBIA/ZIMBABWE

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

centuries.

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.

victoriafalls-guide.net/victoria-falls-sunset-cruise.html

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

60

SA&BEYOND


advantage of the chasm carved by the river and allow

for stomach-swooping fun, with a strong emphasis on

safety.

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

the sprays.

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.

SA&BEYOND 61


MAGNIFICENT

T

H

A

IL

A

N

D

62

SA&BEYOND


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

ancient setting.

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

SA&BEYOND 63


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.

64

SA&BEYOND



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