Sutherland – Stargazing, relaxation and getaways.

Star gazing, cosy nights, good company, and fresh air are the makings of a great holiday getaway and the small town of Sutherland has all these ingredients. This Karoo town in the Northern Cape is a quiet town known for its snowy winters, striking landscapes, and clear skies for astronomy. There isn’t a bombardment of activities to do there but sometimes, relaxing under the stars is just what the doctor ordered.

The Rooikloof Farm where we stayed.

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A Day Trip to Kalk Bay

Kalk bay is a suburban fishing village along the coast of the False bay in the Western Cape. It’s a trip we often make when we feel like a change of scenery and tasty lunch of the freshest fish on the coast. Despite its eclectic vibe, there are so many different things to do in Kalk Bay that everyone can find an activity to enjoy. A trip here probably warrants a whole weekend if you have one to spare.

Kalk Bay Harbour over looking a colourful town

Our first stop is always the Kalk Bay harbour, fishermen line the harbour with their catch of the day, which we often buy to cook over the fire later. Once that’s safely away in our ice box, we get to exploring. Obviously the earlier you head in the better the catch but never quite make it there before almost brunch. We keep threatening to go there for breakfast but that doesn’t work out, so a weekend staycation might actually be the only way we’ll make it to Kalk Bay breakfast.

What’s for dinner? Getting ready to pick a fish for the fire later.

Here you will also find seals, looking out for scraps that make their way to the sea. I suppose, it’s a strategic spot for the seals. They hobble along here looking slothful and full (can you guess how much I like seals?). There are many signs asking you not to feed the wildlife but clearly, someone is feeding these guys. Still, you can’t knock their hustle.

Seals at the harbour. Performing? Non-nonchalant or hungry? No, definitely not hungry!

As you walk along to the lighthouse, you can take in the beautiful views of the sea and mountains. Watch the boats bursting in colours with the mountain and houses in the background. Take a few shots by the light house or just sit on the makeshift benches and savour the afternoon. As for lunch, I can definitely vouch for Live Bait, Harbour House and of course Kalk Bay’s rite of passage – Kalky’s Fish and Chips.

Kalk Bay Views

As with many small towns and villages, the main road is where many of the good stuff happens. There’s an independent theatre, antique stores, book shops, and restaurants and great coffee spots. There are also many stores that specialise in what my friends and I call “shabby chic” items. These are your more eclectic, treasure troves or as my bestie says, “old shit that will feed your hoarding tendencies”. Clearly I prefer the former description because I’m not a hoarder…more like collector.

The Light House

On our last visit, my friend Racine invited us for a swim at the Darenbrook Tidal pool , which it turns out is a great find for fun in the sun with the whole family. We’ve probably walked past it a few times and never really thought to venture under through the tunnel under the Railway track to see what’s on the other side. When we did it was we discovered a cool spot to cool down after a hot day, or after morning yoga. Yep, it’s that kind of place.

Darenbrook Tidal pool

Darenbrook Tidal pool: It’s still Cape Town, so the water is still nippy but still a great spot to take a dip when the suns up.

So, I’ll be updating this post as we find more great things to do in Kalk Bay when we return for more exploration. Maybe on that weekend away that we keep saying we’ll do. It’s just that there is so much choice and variety in this gorgeous country that you just keep trying new and amazing this all the time.

Gotta love South Africa!

Kalb bay - view

Colourful Kalk Bay

The Valley of Desolation

The first long distance trip that I remember was when I was eight years old and drove down to Cape Town with my family. We listened to the Quincy Jones album “back to on the block” so much that we knew all the words by the end. We stopped for loads of junk food (and peeing) and it was a long drive. My dad was so over it by the time we arrived in Cape Town, that he flew my brother down to drive us back home.

On the drive back, my mom made my brother stop off in the then Transkei (Eastern Cape) to visit her friend and a national park. It was great. That’s because mom knew how to road trip. You need music, a good temperament, food and stops. Stops maketh the road trip!

 

 

Bird Watching - Camdeboo park

Camdeboo National Park game viewing and bird watching.

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Things to do in the Drakensberg on a rainy day

The Drakensberg is a phenomenal destination for outdoor activities. It has great hiking trails, zip lining, swimming and waterfalls. But what happens when it’s rainy, misty or cloudy? Which was the case for two of days we were on holiday. You can’t stay inside all day because that would be a real waste. You could snuggle up by the fire with a good book but let’s be honest, you could have done that at home. Thankfully, although its chilly, there are loads of activities to keep you entertained while waiting for the sun to make an appearance.

 

We came all this way, so come rain or shine, the adventures continue!

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Hiking in the Majestic Drakensberg Mountains

I started hiking as a recreational activity while I was in university. Before that it was one of those mandatory activities that you could not get out of at school, despite very colourful and creative excuses on my part. To me, the fact that I was a pedestrian at the time was my “weekly contribution” towards a healthy lifestyle and I wasn’t really looking for added extras. 

Over the years, that feeling has changed and my attraction for hiking in the wilderness, or even closer to home, has grown. Even so, it had been a long time since my last hike.This year I decided to change that and kill two birds with one stone by going hiking and doing so in a place I have never visited before as an actual destination as opposed to a drive through– the Drakensberg.

Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains – Incredible views all around.

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Camping – My Relationship Compromise

Camping was never my thing (and to be clear, it still isn’t). It was one of those experiences that I liked to see locked in a cupboard with the other things of the past labelled “do not do that again.” This particular experience, however, doesn’t seem to want to stay in its place. I don’t have any deep-seated sociological reasons about why I don’t like camping, I’ve really only gone camping a handful of times and I just don’t like it. Despite that, it is my relationship compromise – I can commit to one night without complaining, provided the loo is not dodgy. That’s how I discovered the Bontebok National Park.

bontebok-national-park

Beautiful morning picture of the campsite along the river with the chalets in the background.

 

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Phola Hier, sithandwa sam’ – A walking tour through Sophiatown 

Jazz, kwela, fashion and culture, all encompass the colourful character of old Sophiatown. Located to the west of Johannesburg, this freehold township of homes owned by blacks, coloureds, Indian and white people was a unique occurrence in a time when the separation of races was enforced by law. Although heavily populated and poor, the circumstances created an integrated, vibrant community.

In February 1955, this jazzy spirit was shattered when two thousand armed policeman bulldozed the suburb and forcefully removed its inhabitants to Meadowlands. Years later, with song, storytelling and entertainment Mbali Zwane transports us back in time on her walking tour through Sophiatown.

Church View

The view of the surrounding areas from the church.

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Chasing Waterfalls in Mpumalanga

A couple of years ago, while paging through a travel magazine I came across a stunning picture of the Lisbon Falls in Mpumalanga and became obsessed with taking a trip up there to see for myself. Each time we’d start planning a trip I’d throw Lisbon Falls in the mix but it never seemed to pan out…until late last year when the coin toss was finally in my favour. I was beyond excited.

The drive to Mpumalanga has a mystical feeling to it and I love driving through there. The roads hug the rolling forest hills, meticulously lined with pine and eucalyptus trees. Each curve on the road reveals another angle of amazing views as you make your way up and down the winding valleys.

Valley View.JPG

The view outside our backpackers

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Tracking Wild Dogs in Zululand

It’s 4 am on a cold morning and I’m on an early morning game drive (I seem to be making a habit of these cold morning rides). I made sure that I was dressed warmly and have tightly wrapped the blanket, provided by our friendly Rhino River Lodge ranger, around me but the cold still seeps through. So, I sit extremely still and try meditate for the duration of the 50 minute drive to the northern part of the reserve where we will be tracking wild dogs with Wildlife ACT.

As cold as I am, I’m also very excited because we are camping, hiking or just driving in a reserve that is said to have wild dogs, we always joke about this being the time we see them. We joke because we know how extremely lucky we would have to be to spot one. The African wild dog is the second most endangered wild dog and there are less than 550 left in South Africa. This time the odds are largely in my favour, leaving my friends green with envy.

Rhino River - Water Hole

A view of a watering hole while on a game drive Rhino River Lodge in Zululand.

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