With cross-border travel restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africans have been exploring their own backyard more than ever. Discovering South Africa’s hidden gems, intrepid explorers have met our diverse people and learned about their different customs and cultures.
Celebrating our diversity and growing in unity, the spirit of Ubuntu is spread far and wide.
“Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu” or “I am because you are” is how we describe the meaning of Ubuntu. It speaks to the fact that we are all connected and can only grow and progress through the growth and progression of others. Ubuntu is a reminder for our society on how we should be treating others.
Recent events have made it abundantly clear that our beautiful country and its incredible people are worth fighting for. South Africans have a spirit that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. It is a largely unspoken feeling and way of thinking that allows us to confidently say that South Africa’s future is bright. Together, we can do anything we set our minds to. We always find a way.
In celebration of our love for Mzanzi, we invite you to join us on a brief trip across our diverse country with stops at some of South Africa’s hidden treasures that are eager to welcome you.
The Family Road Trip
Margy and Dale Southern have just arrived back home from a five and a half week caravanning road trip through a large part of South Africa. They originally wanted to do this trip last year. However, they had to put it on the back burner due to the pandemic.
The couple left KZN and spent the first two weeks of their long-awaited road trip travelling through the Free State and the Karoo. Afterward, they headed down to Kommetjie and Hermanus in the Western Cape before heading up the Garden Route.
“We’ve had loads of fun, met wonderfully helpful people, enjoyed exploring the surrounds and also had some crazy weather,”Margy says on her Facebook page.
Kommetjie and Beyond
The small town of Kommetjie lies about halfway down the west coast of the Cape Peninsula. Kommetjie means “little bowl” and the town is named after the circular bowl-like sea basin “Die Kom”.
The quiet, rustic seaside village is one of Cape Town’s surfing, kite surfing and windsurfing hotspots. It is also one of the best places to eat fresh Cape Rock Lobster (Crayfish).
Birders will be dazzled by a flurry of activity while climbing up to the top of Slangkoppunt, South Africa’s tallest cast-iron lighthouse. This reveals breathtakingly beautiful views of Cape Point Nature Reserve and Hout Bay.
If you go past Hout Bay, there is also a small family-owned gin distillery in the historic harbour called Hout Bay Harbour Distillery. Here you will find award-winning small-batch gins.
Have you ever wanted to ride a camel? Imhoff Farm along Kommetjie road has camels, a farmyard and a snake park for the kids. You can also buy fresh farm produce and pick various arts and crafts for sale.
A Whale of a time in Hermanus
Along the shoreline of Walker Bay lies the whale watching capital of the world and the popular holiday town of Hermanus. It possesses unparalleled scenic beauty, superb beaches and upmarket shopping. It is also an adventurer’s paradise.
Explore the countryside on horseback, take to the sky paragliding or book a scenic plane trip. Water lovers can get their aqua adventure fix kayaking or shark cage diving while keen piscators can cast a few lines.
For a down to earth, country vibe, visit any of the markets in and around Hermanus. The Hermanus Country Market and the Hermanuspietersfontein Boeremark are popular destinations. Here at the latter, you can do some wine tasting from the Hermanuspietersfontein winery.
While continuing your Western Cape road trip, pop in at the monthly Onrus Market. There you’ll find delicious home-baked goods, snacks and local knick-knacks. You can also shop for artworks, clothes and food at Lemm’s Corner Craft Market. It is open every Saturday.
Wilderness, Buffels Bay and Plettenberg Bay
On the second leg of their Western Cape road trip, Margy and Dale explored Island Lake Wilderness, Buffels Bay and Plettenberg Bay. The couple saw splendid sunrises and sunsets walking the Kingfisher Trail. There, they crossed a river on a pontoon. A trip over Prince Alfred’s Pass revealed picturesque scenery.
“Feeling so blessed to be able to travel and enjoy such incredible beauty everywhere we go,” Margy says on Facebook.
A richness of indigenous trees that host more than 280 bird species, lake views, water sports and fishing…welcome to Island Lake Holiday Resort. Here Margy and Dale set up camp on one of the well-grassed, shaded and level stands. From this spot, you could enjoy an early morning cuppa and watch the sunrise over the lake.
Situated on the shores of the scenic Island Lake in the arresting Wilderness National Park, this little piece of paradise is nestled in the heart of the Garden Route near Knysna, George and Sedgefield.
Situated halfway between Knysna and Sedgefield, Buffalo Bay is known as the Garden Route’s island holiday destination. White sandy beaches and crystal clear waters offer safe swimming and SUP conditions as well as some good surf breaks.
Head out to sea for some first-rate angling. Alternatively, you can stay on land and watch Humpback and Southern Wright whales pass by on their annual migration between May and November.
Put on your hiking shoes and head out into the wilderness. If you please, you can also take a leisurely paddle up the Goukamma River. Here, you’ll discover its famed black waters contrasted by lush green canopies.
No trip to the Garden Route is complete without a stop-over in Plett. There really is something for everyone. Visitors need at least a week to see and do sample all the natural gems, outdoor thrills and gorgeous food this seaside town has to offer.
Robberg Nature Reserve with its rock formations dating back more than 120 million years. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places to experience untouched nature. Robberg is also home to abundant plant and animal life, such as the rare blue duiker and a large colony of seals.
Three circular hiking trails, the Whale Tail Lookout Point, three stunning beaches keep visitors coming back for more. So do the quirky shops and a number of ethical animal sanctuaries in the area.
From Plett, one can continue their Western Cape road trip up north on the N2 or take an adventurous shot left towards Prince Albert’s Pass, as the Southern’s did on their recent caravanning road trip.
Said to be one of the most beautiful passes in South Africa, Prince Albert’s Pass links the Klein Karoo to the coast. At 68.5 km, it is the longest publically accessible mountain pass in South Africa as well as the second oldest unaltered pass still in use.
There is no cell phone signal on the pass, so it is the ideal place to disappear off the radar for a short while. Make a few stops at quirky spots like Bain’s Tearoom, Angie’s G Spot or the Outeniqua Trout Lodge. The Jonksrus dirt road will take you to Burchell’s Farm or the Buku Off-Roaders Pub.
If you decide to follow the pass all the way into Uniondale, be sure to enquire about the famous Ghost of Uniondale. It’s said to be a woman who stands between the lonely stretch of road between Uniondale and Willowmore…but that’s a story for another day.