As part of our TRAVEL LIKE A LOCAL competition, we asked our readers to send in their South African countryside holiday photographs, sharing their travel experiences. These were the travel story entries we received…
Mira Mothilal spent a week at Castleburn, Drakensburg
There on a mountain, not too far from Jozi
Lies a nest of heaven, perfect for a roastie
Winter or summer, maybe all year through
Perfect for relaxtion, for me and you
On this dam
Where I never swam
I found a peace of mind
That I was looking for, for a long time
Just a week long holiday
Was perfect for thy
Emma Green holidays in Hogsback
Not a week goes by after finally getting my driving license (7th time’s the charm), and I’m driving down to Hogsback with my Daddy dearest for a road trip that will open my mind and eyes to a whole new world, and understanding of myself and others. The first day we enjoyed an easy 39 steps waterfall hike, then craft beer tasting. After seeing a beautiful sunrise on the second day, we were the first hikers on the trail and ‘why oh why’ must there be so many spiders? But with all 3 waterfalls seen we then headed out to see Madonna & Child. Now that made the morning for us. That evening we demolished kettle sprout in no time before we decided to do more exploring. T best decision ever was to ignore the “do not enter” sign. The forgotten paths allowed views of every inch of Hogsback. No wonder they call it the place of the fairies. Sunsets there are magnificent.
Nastassja Ashworth honeymoons in Mpumalanga
Road trip of fun and beautiful memories. We got married the 21st November 2015 and with all the wedding planning we never got around to organising our honeymoon. We decided that we will go on a road trip. So that’s what we did. We got in the car and just drove, phoned places along the way and stayed at cutest places we could find. We travelled to Mpumalanga and went to Graskop and Sabie. We have such a beautiful country. It’s the best holiday ever had so much fun with my husband.
Sue Dewar took a drive
Driving past Standerton in the rain, we saw some interesting recycling uses of the plastic lying around.
Carmen Pretorius discovers a moment of appreciation
In awe I open my mouth. Tears in silence mark my cheeks. Majestic beauty robs me of speech. The vista of wonder never stops. This is just too much for eyes and brain to comprehend.
Voices seem to come from far away, as if nothing can spoil this holy moment. The moment of: When I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds your Hands have made!
My heart voluntary prays that this scene might forever be burned in my memory so that when the cares of the world becomes too much I would find solace in the beauty here.
Candice Gardiner admires the setting of the sun
Maxine Miller discovers a haven
My boyfriend and I had the opportunity to rent some prime property on the Camps Bay strip for 2 months before our house was ready to move into. We made it a daily ritual to walk the dogs to Glen Beach and watch the sunset. We will miss living here.
Duanne Chetty enjoys the summer sun
Fresh air on a summer’s day
Bring on the waves for our baby’s play
It was just enough for all of us
Drops of fun under a Durban sun
Would hate to be found out shopping
When the waves are definitely chopping
No time to waste a single day of summer
To miss out on local fun is definitely a bummer!
Shirleen Olivier holidays with her sweetheart
Within the festive season chaos and millions of people flocking to the ocean all that matters is the two of us. Blessed to have a love for each other and an unending love for the stunning views all around us. Adventure takes you places…
Cathari Naude enjoys some peace and tranquility in the Free State
The El Niño climate phenomenon currently punishing our vulnerable country hardly associates with the fond Spanish reference to ‘little one’. Driving through the vast open iconic heartland of the Orange Free State, taking the slow road trip over the recent festive season, we ‘happened’ on Rosendal, some 45km’s from Bethlehem. Traversing the few residential dirt streets, past quaint sandstone buildings, we stopped for breakfast at a sidewalk Art-gallery/coffee shop for coffee. We enjoyed free freshly made biscuits and happily welcomed a pack of playing cards that were offered. The only interruptionsin this tranquil setting were the odd friendly wave from locals as they drove by… Regular people, every day mindfulness, beloved country!
Charlene Ganesh appreciates the great outdoors
There nothing like the great outdoors and the fantastic scenery it has to offer. Diverse cultures work hand in hand to create a perfect harmony. We have such a beautiful country with so much to offer. All we need to do is take time to love and appreciate this gift that we have been given to care for so one day our children have something they can be proud of.
Sophie Baker and her family holiday in Paternoster
I looked out over the wooden deck to see my uncle’s silhouette against the setting sun. He was wearing his swimming trunks, and bizarrely, his glasses. A hardened policeman visiting from the UK, he prided himself on his toughness. We’d told him tales of the beautiful Paternoster coast that was the kind of freezing cold that made your feet hurt as soon as you dipped your toes in the water. He’d simply scoffed at us for “letting our blood thin” since our emigration to South Africa. We laughed back at him, because we weren’t the ones who had to return to the grey skies of Hampshire the following week.
Perhaps he thought a sunset swim in the idyllic waters would be one of those beautiful, isolating moments where you feel strangely at one with the world. The more likely scenario is that he wanted to brave the cold and mock us for our thin blood and cowardly natures. Whatever it was, he was blissfully unaware of me watching from the window.
I watched him slip off his shoes, put his towel on the sand, and run towards the water. ‘This ought to be good’, I thought to myself. This was typical of him – where I would choose to meander down cautiously, he did things in an all-or-nothing fashion. The last 20 metres or so he accelerated to a full sprint, right into the water. As he reached around knee depth, I heard a yell from his direction. Laughing to myself, I observed him continuing to run….first in a 180 degree circle, then right up the beach and straight back to the warmth of his towel.
He snuck back in through the front door while shivering, and judging by the sound of water, headed straight for a warm shower. The next day, with our combined families of 10 sitting around the table I asked ‘Is anyone going to be brave enough to swim today?’
‘I did, yesterday. It’s really not that cold’, he said.
The photo isn’t taken from that night, but it was taken the day before on the same beach.
Emma Green goes exploring
She finds some hidden beaches, pathways that encourage exploration, as well as embarks on a treacherous journey up the mountain side (it was worth every gasping moment), and finally, a moment to soak up the beautiful sea, savouring every moment of a beach paradise.
David Seligman plans a road trip to remember
My friend wanted to buy a house in every dorp we visited: Nieu Bethesda, Calitzdorp, Montagu and Suiderstrand were top of her list. As a veteran road-tripper, I smiled benevolently each time the “newbie” became smitten with the charm of whatever village we were visiting. “Just wait ’til the next place,” I would tell her.
My wife and I are veteran December road trippers. Each year we plot a different route down to our small cottage in Fishoek. Most of our friends and family from Gauteng who holiday in the Cape either fly, or do the mad dash down the N1. “You don’t know what you’re missing” we continually berate them. Last September, we finally managed to persuade our best friends to join us this year. “Leave it all to me,” I said, as I began planning a 6 day itinerary for 3 couples. First: a route. I settled on Nieu Bethesda/Graaf Reinet, through the Klein Karoo to Montagu and all the way to Agulhas, ending in Cape Town via Napier, Stanford and Elgin. Next: the trip had to have a name. I settled on the generic “Why don’t we do it in the road?” which was more in homage to a favourite Beatles song than anything else. Finally, I put together a detailed itinerary which we loosely stuck to.
Our road trips are subject to certain criteria: we don’t skimp on the accommodation, we look for good food, we detour to interesting wine farms and craft breweries and we fill our car boot with produce from the best padstalle. We don’t stay in guest houses that cost thousands a night – we can’t afford that; but we do look for gems that offer high quality rooms and food, individual touches and personal attention. It requires research to find these places –magazines like SA Country Life, and sites such as Trip Advisor are a great help, and in peak season, it requires booking a few months in advance.
So, here are the raw statistics for the 6 day trip: 3 guest houses, 4 craft breweries, 7 padstalle, 8 restaurants, 12 wine farms and 2100km to get from Joburg to Cape Town. Of course, the figures can’t do justice to our experiences. How about swimming in the Meiringspoort waterfall, (“I never knew such places existed” exclaimed my friend), cycling in the Keisie valley where vines and orchards punctuate the Langeberge, cruising the Breede River while sipping sparkling wine and finding my favourite vinyl records at a padstal outside Napier? Our overnight stops were of an impeccably high standard, and most of the meals we ate were brilliant. Maybe we were lucky, but I really don’t think so. In many towns, the discerning road-tripper is spoiled for choice in our beautiful country.
After we had returned to Joburg, I asked my friend, tongue in cheek, which dorp she would be settling in. “That decision might have to be delayed for a few years,” she said, “but I’ll tell you what: next December, I’m not flying to Cape Town!”
Colin Mills went in search of an elusive cat
“Look for his eyes” my son said, and in that instant the beautiful markings of the 18 month old male leopard cub, stretched out under cover of a giant Mashatu tree in the Tuli Bloc on the banks of the mighty Limpopo River, were revealed to me. He was lying behind branches and in the shade, and our party of eight had missed him, despite intensive searching, even though we knew that this was his chosen “hide.” We had seen him in full view the day before, but he had become shy and elusive and we had not spotted him until my son called “stop”.
What a magnificent animal and what a privilege to view him in the wild; unfettered, unhindered and completely free. It was late afternoon and his mother had gone off to fetch supper for herself and her cub while he relaxed out of view of the marauding lion pride that prowled nearby. We had seen his mother, and another female some 5 km away, but the lasting memory will be the one of the cub camouflaged in the shade of his “hide”, who evaded 7 pairs of eyes looking for him only to be spotted by the alert eyes of my son. The reward was some beautiful photos and memories to last a lifetime – a truly unique experience.
For Jacqui Cooks, the West Coast is the Best Coast
I’m a born and bred Capetonian who grew up mostly in the Eastern Cape. But you know what they say? You can take the girl away from the ocean but you can never take the ocean away from the girl. For me, there is no better coastline than the West Coast in the Western Cape. A mere 2 hours escape from the CBD and you are transported to another world where endless miles of white sand kiss the crystal blue ocean.
It was my birthday weekend and the man knew exactly how to spoil me. A romantic weekend away up the West Coast! We spent a great deal of time exploring beaches from Elands Bay, Lamberts Bay, Langebaan to this family-friendly stretch of peacefulness, Silwerstroom. You will find this beach just before you arrive at Langebaan on the N27 West Coast road from Cape Town. With clean bathrooms, security, braai facilities, tidal pool for the kids as well as a campground, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more affordable beachside vacation spot, especially in the December holidays. We spent the whole day frolicking in the waves and I improved on my tan. The water isn’t any warmer here, it’s just as icy as everywhere in the Cape. The difference is that the beach is just not as crowded as Camps Bay or Blouberg, which for me, is my idea of bliss.
Should you ever find yourself with a couple of hours to spare on a hot summer’s day in Cape Town, take the drive to Silwerstroom. You will not be sorry!
Celeste Everitt takes a memorable road trip
During December (2015) we went roadtripping across the country. One of our stops was the beautiful Coffee Bay and we went to the Hole in the Wall, where this photo was taken. We had two phones on timer to take this photo, but the one phone fell and I dived forward to catch it as the other one took this shot (hence the phone in my hand). We all burst into laughter afterwards. Even the cows were all staring at us thinking we were crazy (there are cows EVERYWHERE).
Shanice Andrews finds peace and tranquility over the holidays
Andre Smith goes on an adventure
On holiday with the in-laws, Cape Agulhas was the setting, fun was the agenda. Seeking adventure as we are easily bored, we went around to see what was lost and what was found. We spotted a ship wreck (lost) and an amazing cave (Waenhuiskrans) where our ancestors once dwelled (found), hence the picture. It’s just a shame I couldn’t add the sound for added effect.
For Gerda Swart, there’s a first time for everything
Chantel Nolan honeymoons in Nature’s Valley
While we were on honeymoon in Nature’s Valley we got a free pass to Tsitsikamma National Park. It was there where we saw this suspension bridge for the first time. It was the most beautiful place we have ever seen. Even a German tourist we met there said it felt like he was in Thailand. We went back to Plettenberg Bay where we had a lock made with our names and wedding date, and we put the lock on the biggest suspension bridge of the three and dropped the keys in the ocean. Once a year we go back to Tsitsikamma National Park to visit our lock. It is just the most beautiful place we have ever seen and would never have known about it if it weren’t for the voucher we received on our honeymoon. If just one place in South Africa is this beautiful, I can’t wait to see the rest of this country!
Many of our readers are uploading their favourite travel photographs as mock COUNTRY LIFE covers too. See these fantastic entries here.