8 awesome things to do in Dubai

This article was first published here: www.getaway.co.za

Dubai is mostly known for its shopping, but if you look a little harder you’ll find that this Arabian city offers a bit of nature, history, culture and even adventure to travellers who’re in the know. Here are my suggestions for things to do in Dubai – whether you’re just popping out of the airport for a day or two en route, or enjoying the city as your final destination.

I visited Dubai courtesy of RwandAir, who have recently launched flights from Kigali to Dubai in their brand-new A330 Airbus fleet.

1. Visit Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Also known as Bastakiya, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is one of Dubai’s oldest residential areas. Not only is it an opportunity to be surrounded by nineteenth century Persian architecture, there are also many attractions such as the Dubai Museum and the Al Fahidi Fort. You may also find yourself in the Coin, Camel or Horse Museums (free admission) and the famous Textile Souk.

Explore the courtyard cafes and labyrinth-like alleys of Al Fahidi on your own, or pop into the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) which organises visits to the Jumeirah Grand Mosque for less than R80 per person. The SMCCU also offers a guided heritage tour of Al Fahidi which costs approximately R300 per person. This is a good idea if you want to get an introduction to Dubai.

Also: The Etihad Museum provides insight on the emergence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by weaving its political history with personal stories through visual and interactive exhibitions. General admission is about R100 per person.

 

 

2. Dune bashing

Bashing the dunes in Dubai is a must, even if you are in the city for just a few hours. Riding the steep dunes in a Toyota Land Cruiser is also as action-packed as it sounds and you can ask the driver to adjust the speed as you wish. It’s just as thrilling as a roller-coaster and you must be strapped in at all times. Being up close and personal with the desert landscape and the view of the Western Hajar Mountains is worth the soaring temperatures – but don’t forget the sunscreen.

Photo by Nandi Majola.

 

3. The Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain

The Burj Khalifa is the jewel in Dubai’s crown and shows the city’s infinite ambition. Level 124 or ‘At the Top’ is an observatory that’s open to the public. It takes 77 seconds to reach level 124 by elevator, but you won’t even feel it because of the multimedia projections inside which show you how high up you are. Seeing as it’s the top tourist attraction in Dubai you may need to squeeze in between people to get a 360 view, but it’s worth it for the amazing contrast of desert, skyscrapers, construction and the Persian Gulf. Visit at dusk for the city lights. You will also see the JW Marriott Marquis, the tallest hotel in the world (read: World’s tallest hotel doubles up on the high life).

If you have enough time, go to the Dubai Fountain on the Burj Lake. A synchronised performance of water, music and light, Dubai Fountain is the most popular tourist attraction that’s also free. The best spot to catch this epic movement of water and light to familiar songs is at the Waterfront Promenade outside Dubai Mall.

4. Jumeirah Open Beach

It’s just like going to the beach… except there’s WiFi. The Smart Palm allows internet connectivity and there are charging stations, just in case you need to upload your photos on Instagram). It might also be the closest that you’ll get to seeing the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the 7-star hotel. It’s like being on a high-tech tropical island.

 

5. The Green Planet

It might be a man-made tropical rainforest, but the Green Planet has over 3000 plants and animals and offers an educational experience. Tickets are around R340 per person and the park stays open until 10pm on Saturday to Wednesday and until midnight on Thursday and Friday, giving you time to make the most of a stopover.

6. Al Karama

Dubai is better known for its glistening skyscrapers and futuristic architectural developments than its older residential areas, but you’ll be rewarded for exploring the less glamorous side of the city. Al Karama (or just Karama) is a neighbourhood, popular for its diverse and wallet-friendly Asian eateries (think Indonesian, Filipino, Nepalese and Indian) and bargaining shops. More recently, various apartment buildings have been turned into canvases featuring Dubai’s multi-faceted graffiti culture. If downtown cities and murals are your thing, you will enjoy getting to grips with the more artistic side of Dubai.

Photo by Nandi Majola.

7. Al Qudra Lake

Instead of camping out in the airport, head to Al Qudra Lake. You may not exactly have time to pitch a tent but you will have an opportunity to be outdoors before you board your next flight. Al Qudra is a man-made freshwater lake in Seih Al Salam desert, about an hour from the centre of Dubai, and is where more than 130 bird species have been found. Migratory birds also populate Al Qudra. Even though the desert night sky is beautiful to look at, it is advisable to leave before the sun starts to set because there are no street lights. Make sure that you also have a GPS or organise with someone who knows the area well because there are reportedly no exit signs.

 

8. Gold and Spice Souk

The malls in Dubai are no doubt extraordinary, but for a more traditional Emirati shopping experience, go to the Gold and Spice Souk in Deira. The souks are swarming with tourists – make sure that you go with someone who can bargain well, if you’re not that way inclined. It’s also completely okay to bring your camera and just take pics. A photo of the colourful spices is just as good a souvenir. It’s a great cultural experience that’ll give you a taste of the Middle East.

Take an ‘abra’ or a water taxi across Dubai Creek for around R4 per person. The buildings of ‘old Dubai’ look like a movie set and this comparison doesn’t diminish the city itself, it instead adds to the feeling of being stuck in another time. The photographic opportunities in this part are also in abundance.

If you want to see more of Dubai, RwandAir have recently launched flights from Kigali to Dubai. If Rwanda is your destination and you’re on your way to trek gorillas, don’t miss out on an opportunity to explore Kigali. Read Getaway photographer, Teagan Cunniffe’s Kigali: photos from the African city that shines.

 

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15 night-time adventures for thrill-seekers

This article was first published here: www.getaway.co.za

Evenings aren’t just for winding down. They’re for adventures too. These activities will have you racing around your city, boogying in an ice rink and climbing walls that move.

Seize the night this summer and not just the day. Here are 14 activities you can extend into the evening in Joburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Joburg

1. Carlton Centre

A view of Joburg from the Carlton Centre. The Pinnacle in Kenya is set to replace the Carlton Centre as Africa’s tallest building upon its completion in 2019. Photo by Gandhi Square Precinct.

Salute the setting sun from the 50th floor of the Carlton Centre in downtown Joburg for just R15. The elevator journey to the Top of Africa ends in panoramic views of Joburg with the traffic humming 223 metres below you. On-site telescopes also give you a chance to zoom in on the city’s most recognisable landmarks. One of the safest ways to get there is on a City Sightseeing bus, which includes a tour guide to take you around.

While it currently houses retail businesses and offices, the Carlton Centre is a historic building that has been around since 1973. It is located on 150 Commissioner Street, Marshalltown. Tel 0113081331.

2. Night trail run

Neon lights are usually for Saturday nights, but they can also be for weeknight adventures. Kinetic hosts monthly night trail runs at either the Country Club Johannesburg in Woodmead, Bryanston Country Club, the Randpark Golf Club, Houghton Golf Club or Parkview Golf Club. There’s an eight-kilometre race that starts at 19:30 and a shorter four-kilometre route that begins at 19:40. The first three runners of either the under 40 or over 40 categories receive vouchers and everyone who finishes the race gets a medal. You must wear a headlamp and they’re sold at registration if you forget. Get a head start by paying R70 before race night (later registration costs R100). For more information and upcoming trail run dates, visit kinetic-events.co.za.

3. Yoga under the stars

Yoga might already be a part of your evening workout session, but how about practising poses under a starry ceiling? The Space Yoga and Fitness Studio hosts a Yoga Under the Stars event involving vinyasa flow under the guidance of guest yogi, Sydney King. Tickets are R220 and the session takes place on 28 October 2017 from 18:00 to 21:30. Stick around for the wine and tapas afterwards. Mats are limited so remember to bring your own. Follow the event on Facebook  or call 0729055553.

Durban

4. DurbaNite Race

The Durban Country Club is a kilometre from the beachfront and opposite Moses Mabhida and Kings Park Stadium. Photo by South African Tourism

Founded by radio personality and fitness enthusiast, Phindi Gule, the DurbaNite Race is an event that takes place on the last Friday of every month. Wearing bright running gear with glow-in-the-dark accessories is part of the fun, plus DJs and dancers perform as well. Show Durban some love by making it come alive in an energetic and healthy way. The event encourages families to participate and is all about making the city a free and safe space. You can choose to run in either the 5- or 10-kilometre races, which cost R60 and R80 respectively. It’s taking place at Durban Country Club, which starts at 18:00. Tel 0715212546.

5. Trail run at Giba Gorge

There is less impact on your joints when running on trails compared to running on harder surfaces such as the pavement. Photo by Ludo Rouchy.

The Giba Fun Trail Run Series is on the first Wednesday of every month and costs just R10 to participate. If you’re not a member of the park, you will have to pay R30 at the entrance. The race starts at 18:00 and ends at 20:00 at Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park.

Giba also hosts free social night rides which begin at 17:30 and anyone is welcome. Non-members will be charged R60 for their bikes. Remember your headlamps for both activities. Tel 0317691419 or 0794514898 or email info@gibagorge.co.za.

6. Laser tag in Ballito

Sugar Rush Park in Ballito is a hive of adventurous activity and Laser Rush is one of their coolest offerings. Their spacious outdoor arena and broken down walls will bring out your rivalrous spirit in this laser version of paintball. The laser tag guns have different settings and you can choose to play in teams or on your own. Their normal closing time is 18:00 from Tuesday to Sunday, but they are sometimes open until 20:00. The cost is R65 per person for 30 minutes and R100 per person for an hour. Laser Rush Ballito is in the process of organising a club or league night for adults that will include a braai and drinks. Keep an eye on their social media for announcements or email laserrushballito@gmail.com or  Tel 0832335165.

 

Port Elizabeth, East London and St Francis Bay

7. Indoor trampolines and dodgeball

The trampoline craze has swept across the world and SA is not being left out. Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park in PE and East London brings adventures of the bouncing kind with interconnected trampolines. Not wild enough?Join the Gravity Dodgeball League from 18:00 to 20:00. It’s R250 per team for six players for a 30-minute game, booking essential.

Using the trampolines costs R90 per person for an hour and for kids below eight it’s R70. Open until 19:00 from Mondays to Thursdays (until 21:00 during the school holidays and weekends. For PE email info@gravitype.co.za or Tel 0413602883.

The Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park in East London has different prices and hours. It’s R100 per person and R80 per child younger than seven. During school holidays they open until 21:00 from Monday to Saturday and until 19:00 on Sunday. Email info@gravityeastlondon.co.za or Tel 0717102384 0437482767.

8. Sunset cruise

The Khoisan named the Sundays River, Nukakamma meaning ‘grassy water’ because the banks are consistently grassy and green. Photo by Sundays River Adventures.

For R380 per person, take a two and a half hour cruise down the Sundays River. It probably won’t get the heart pumping, but it’s still a daytime activity that you can save for the evening. Plus, who can resist a sunset? You can bring your own food and drinks or order from the Sundays River Ferry menu. Prices will increase to about R420 per person from 1 November 2017 for peak season so try to squeeze in cruise before. Email info@addocruises.co.za or Tel 0414680140.

Cape Town

9. The Cape Wheel

See the Mother City radiate with beauty from the Cape Wheel in the evening. The iconic observation wheel allows you to see Cape Town from 40 metres up on a 10-12 minute ride. It’s a popular daytime activity and is just as exciting at night. Sunset is peak time so make sure you get there before the rush. The Cape Wheel closes at 22:30. Tickets cost R130 for adults and R60 for children. Tel 0214182502 or capewheel.co.za.

10. Glowing Rooms

The people who worked on the interior of Glowing Rooms SA were also involved in The Dark Tower, which was filmed in Cape Town. The film’s props can be seen in the rooms. Photo by Glowing Rooms SA.

It’s a new twist on an old favourite and is in Milnerton, Cape Town. Miniature golf meets a glow-in-the-dark space adventure that feels like you’re in a video game. Play the 18-hole course with 3D glasses under UV lights! Glowing Rooms SA is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 to 20:00 and costs R130 per person. Tel 0215512244 or email info@glowingrooms.co.za.

11. Full Moon Hike at Delvera

Forget Lion’s Head. Head to Stellies for the Delvera Full Moon Hikes at Dirtopia. The 9,75 kilometre hike takes you through an indigenous yellowwood forest to the top of Klapmutskop which is part of the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy. The hike starts at sunset which means that you can still marvel at the Winelands and, if it’s clear, even Table Mountain. Vehicles are available to transport children and the elderly from the Pepper Tree, which is approximately halfway to the top.

It’s R100 per adult and R50 for children under 10. You’re sure to be hungry after the hike so bring along your own picnic basket or get one for R80 from the organisers. The hike starts at 17:45 and you need to book a spot. Email info@dirtopia.co.za or Tel 0218844752.

12. Ice and roller skating

Durban’s beloved ice rink was built in 1955 and has historic significance. It was recently renovated to Olympic-size and is now a world-class facility that draws many tourists. Photo by Durban Ice Arena.

Skate to your heart’s content at the Durban Ice Arena during their disco sessions every Friday and Saturday night. The sessions are from 19:00 to 10:30 and entrance is R50 per person. Tel 0313324597.

The Northgate Ice Rink in Northriding, Joburg also has evening sessions from 19:30 to 22:30 from Sunday to Thursday and until 23:00 on Friday and Saturday. Their half-price sessions are every Tuesday. The entrance fee is R75 and you can hire skates for R35. Tel 0117948706.

The ice rink in Baywest Mall, Port Elizabeth also has evening sessions from 19:30 to 22:30. The entrance fee is R75 and skate hire is R35. Tel 0414920318.

Ever seen a grumpy roller skater? Neither have we. Roll Egoli in Bryanston has sessions until 21:00 on Friday and Saturday and they have an old-school mirror ball. If you’ve been dying to show off your dance moves on roller skates, this is the place to do it. It costs R75 for a three-hour session and R35 to hire skates for individuals. For groups of 10 or more it’s R85 per person and for groups of 20 or more, it’s R80 with skate hire included in the fee. Tel 0832329861 or email info@rollegoli.co.za.

13. Indoor climbing

Climbing is a new addition to the Olympics and climbers will be able to compete in Tokyo 2020. Photo by CityROCK CPT.

City ROCK has branches in Cape Town and Joburg and their climbing facilities accommodate people with varied levels of climbing experience. Challenge yourself with their top rope and lead climbing, automatic belay walls and their bouldering areas. City ROCK Cape Town will be relocating to Paarden Eiland in December 2017 so look out for details on their website.

For Cape Town email capetown@cityrock.co.za

For Joburg email johannesburg@cityrock.co.za or Tel 0100072732

If you’re in Durban, head to the Southern Rock Climbing Centre in New Germany and try out their treadwall, a rotating climbing wall that’s sure to give you a workout. You can control speeds and adjust the angle from an overhanging to a vertical angle. They close at 21:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays and at 22:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A day pass for adults is R110 and R80 for scholars. Tel 0317053842.

14. Cycle at night

Early this year, the Maboneng City Cyclists rode from Joburg to Durban on a cross-country journey. Photo by Maboneng City Cyclists

Every Thursday night, the Maboneng City Cyclists get together and take to the Johannesburg streets on their bicycles. The meeting point is outside Love Revo at 17:00 and the cycling starts at 19:00.

If you’re in Durban, Bike and Bean also has you covered and will be open until 18:00 from 1 October for the summer. Bike hire is R50 per hour and your deposit is an ID or Driver’s Licence. Don’t forget to sit down for a delicious cup of their single origin Africa coffee. Tel 0820657096.

Every Thursday, Curiocity Hostels in Durban’s trendy Rivertown Triangle has a night cycle that takes you through the city and the beachfront. The cycle begins at 18:30 and is R200.

In Cape Town, Moonlightmass is a monthly event hosted by Critical Mass Cape Town, a movement that aims to encourage the use of bicycles in cities. The event is from 20:00 until 23:00 so you can spend all evening admiring the nighttime cityscape. An outing is planned for each full moon. The next dates for 2017 are 5 October, 4 November and 3 December.

15. Sunset Full Moon Cape Canopy adventure

Enjoy the unique rush of ziplining through the mountains by moonlight on a Cape Canopy Tour.

The adventure starts with a light meal at base before heading up into the magnificent Kogelberg Biosphere where you’ll be treated to spectacular views as the sun sets. Once dark, it’s headlamps on (you need to bring your won) and it’s time to speed through the darkness beneath a dome of stars. The tour consists of eleven thrilling slides, some over 300m long, each ending on a platform constructed on the cliffs and fynbos covered mountain slopes above the Riviersonderend Gorge. This is surely a great way to get some summer thrills!

The tour costs R895, starts at 18:00 and is only available on these upcoming Saturdays: 4 November, 2 December or 3 February 2018. The tour takes roughly four hours and you should be down the mountain by 22:00.

 

The energetic way to an unforgettable West Coast road trip

This article was first published here: www.getaway.co.za

More than 300 kilometres of tarred road? Check. Wine tasting? Check. MTB’ing, hiking and bouldering? Check, check and check. Magnificent coastal and semi-desert environments on the Namaqua West Coast and the Cederberg? Check. Now all you need is enough space on your camera for epic pics and you can plan an epic energetic West Coast road trip.

I spent four days exploring the West Coast and learnt about some of its top sights and destinations with DiscoverCTWC and Weskus Tourism. Here’s my ultimate four-day road trip itinerary for those who love to get outdoors.

Also read: A road trip up the West Coast off the N7

Day 1: The Viswater MTB Trail (Doring Bay, Strandfontein and Papendorp)

I thought that mountain biking would be a chance to affirm my inner adrenaline junkie, but I was a victim of my own deceit. Enthusiasm evaporated in the 40-degree heat as soon as we reached our first incline. Would the decadent cheese platter from Lutzville Vineyards sustain me? Were Saturday mornings at parkrun a true realisation of #fitnessgoals? Surely knowing how to get on a bike was sufficient? Nope.

At certain points on the Viswater Mountain Bike Trail, you’re just 50 metres from the ocean, a relief when the crisp sea breeze can cool you down in the summer heat. Photo by Visit Namaqua West Coast

The Viswater MTB Trail definitely brought out the devil in me; one that dared me to throw my bike to the ground and have a tantrum worse than any toddler in their terrible twos. Plus, I certainly got a workout, pushing my bike through the rocky and sandy terrain.

Distracted by my incompetence, I hardly paused to admire the views of the Atlantic and the menacing cliff faces. Luckily, falling off so many times got me to notice the gorgeous succulent Karoo up close.

‘It’s probably better for you not to go on the single track’, said photographer and entrepreneur, Craig Howes, who had established a graceful cycling and picture-taking sequence. So I tried my best to tackle the wider jeep track, but as a novice this whole mountain biking thing was tough!

Doring Bay Abalone is an abalone farm at the harbour that is located at what used to be the crayfish processing plant. It produces 40 tons of abalone per year. Photo by Nandi Majola

It was a nine-kilometre journey from Strandfontein to the lighthouse (and my beacon of hope) in Doring Bay, which was our endpoint. When the tall black-and-white lighthouse seemed close enough, the fraction of determination I had left got me back on the bike and then I could see the blue roofs of Thornbay Accommodation taking the last bumpy moments to fight to the finish.

The view of the ocean from my window at Thornbay Accommodation was soothing after a hit day and I was pleased with the thought of being able to see the sun rise in the morning. Doring Bay might be a small town, but being so close to the sea is a reason I’d like to go back.

Day 2: The Crayfish Hiking Trail and Fryer’s Cove

The coastline looked less daunting in the morning sun and the bay’s indigo blue water washed away any fear I had for the next activity: hiking.

The Crayfish Trail is a slackpacking route that was revived by Daniel Smith, an environmental and geological sciences graduate who based his thesis on it. A trial group that started in Elands Bay joined us in Doring Bay and we walked our MTB track in reverse, from Doring Bay to Strandfontein.

There is a choice between a Five Day Trail of 61 kilometres and a Two Day Trail of about 22 kilometres. Photo by DiscoverCTWC

This time, the trail took us closer to the coastline and within a few minutes of starting, my phone was out to capture this fascinating environment. Daniel said that in Elands Bay, where the Crayfish Trail begins, there are wide, sandy beaches, strandveld and fynbos – all typical markers of the West Coast. Further along the coast towards Papendorp, the difference is stark and sudden with sheer cliff faces. According to Prof. John Compton (UCT’s Department of Geological Sciences) the rocky outcrops are the familiar sandstone rocks of the Table Mountain Group.

As the single track winds up, it becomes cooler and there’s a great view about 30 metres above the ocean. Daniel mentioned that these parts make the route feel very unexplored and undiscovered. He’s absolutely right.

The duality of semi-desert and ocean-side was awe-inspiring and the atmosphere felt post-apocalyptic with the sandstone formations and the coppery bronze sand. I really enjoyed the variety of uphill and downhill and felt much more in my element with the hiking.

The towns along the Crayfish Trail include: Elands Bay, Steenbokfontein, Lamberts Bay, Doring Bay, Big River Bend and Papendorp. Photo by Daniel Smith

Next, we drove to Papendorp, 16 kilometres from Doring Bay. This old missionary town at the mouth of the Olifants River could easily be overlooked, but we stopped and went across a boardwalk to a solitary bird hide.

Before leaving the Namaqua West Coast we made one last stop: Fryer’s Cove at Doring Bay Harbour. It was a spontaneous decision to go wine-tasting, but locals insisted on it. Located on a jetty, we tasted wine from grapes harvested 820 metres from the Atlantic Ocean. We all agreed that the eccentricity of Fryer’s Cove is the kind of thing you look for on a road trip and their Pinot Noir, popular with customers, lived up to our expectations.

Day 3: Beer tasting and bouldering (Vredendal and the Cederberg)

We eased into the first part of our day with a beer tasting at Maskam, a brewery located on a family farm. Maskam was a surprising find in a laidback rural setting. Here you can drink your way through a flight of blond ale, amber ale, Weiss and cider. You also can’t miss the garlic and herb pita bread – it’s worth travelling all the way from Cape Town for.

Maskam Brewery is the first craft beer brewery in the Matzikama area. Photo by Nandi Majola

80 kilometres later, we sat for lunch at Reinholds Restaurant in Clanwilliam before driving another 30 kilometres to Rocklands for bouldering.

The mountainous landscape of the Cederberg region was other-worldly to my unfamiliar eyes. Pupils from Elizabeth Fontein Primary School were already at the ‘warm-up’ boulder for a lesson with their coach, JP. When it was my turn to conquer the boulder, I felt a surge of nervous energy – I didn’t want a repeat of the mountain biking experience and the crash pads didn’t look like they’d make a comfortable landing, but in the spirit of ‘fake it til you make it’ I went for it.

At the top of the boulder, I paused for a few minutes, arms and legs feeling like jelly, before lumbering down. In a way, a fear had been overcome because I didn’t believe I could climb without a harness. The landscape of the Cederberg exerted a kind of energy that made me want to step outside of my comfort zone.

This climbing area was developed by a team of Austrians including bouldering trailblazer, Klem Loskot. Photo by Nandi Majola.

Day 4: Rock art and rooibos (Clanwilliam)

The last time I saw rock art was in a grade four history textbook. Groggy from a satiating braai the evening before, the overcast conditions were pleasant for a five-kilometre walk along the Sevilla Rock Art Trail.

As we meandered along the path and followed the painted footsteps to each rock art site, I tried imagining the San having this place to themselves. Gabi mentioned that the rock art might have functioned as a newspaper for San communities. If so, the world as they depicted it stood the test of time and now we were seeing it, thousands of years later.

We returned to Clanwilliam for an impromptu stop at Rooibos Ltd. The iced rooibos sample infused with honey melon relieved my thirst and I was happy about the choice to stop there. Our visit included a 15-minute video on the history of rooibos tea from the Khoisan who harvested it in the Cederberg to its commercialisation in the twentieth century.

There are 2500 paintings in the Cederberg and the Sevilla Rock Art Trail’s paintings are between 800 and 8000 years old. Photo by Nandi Majola

Then, it was time to go home.

The journey back to Cape Town was very different from when we headed out on the N7. Strangers had become travel companions and muscles were stiff from the trifecta of outdoor activities and I finally got to see the famous Cederberg Mountains.

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) can’t grow anywhere else in the world but the Cederberg. Photo by Selena N. B. H.

If I’m lucky enough, my next West Coast road trip will include stargazing and if you’ve been reading Getaway for a while, you’ll know just the place to do that.

Also read: where to go stargazing in South Africa

Plan an active West Coast road trip

Do this

The Viswater MTB route is a 30-kilometre circular trail that goes from Doringbay to Papendorp and back again. There are single tracks on the cliffs and jeep tracks. Definitely, a must if you want something challenging to give you that adrenaline rush. Call 027203376.

There are also guided walks along the Viswater route where you can get close and personal with the diverse vegetation. Contact Tania and Lehan Fouche to set up a time. Call 0721543887 or email noordkykers@mylan.co.za

Go to Klawer Cellars and Lutzville Vineyards for wine tasting. Make sure you try Klawer’s African Ruby Rooibos Vermouth, which is also infused with buchu. The sweetness doesn’t overpower the flavour and tastings at Klawer are free. At Lutzville it’s R20 per person for five wines and there are three different cheese platters to choose from (R85, R160 and R280 respectively). For Klawer, call 0272161530 and for Lutzville call 0272171516.

Fryer’s Cove  has three different tasting options: The Doring Bay range consists of four wines at R20 per person and their premium range, Fryer’s Cove has three wines at R40 per person. Combining the ranges will cost R50 per person and there is a waiver of the price if you purchase bottles. Call 0272151092.

The Crayfish Trail is still running their discounted Trial Tours. Find more information on crayfishtrail.co.zaOtherwise, their tours will be priced from about R1650 per person per night. This price includes food, accommodation, transport and a local guide. You can choose between a two and five-day trail. Group size must be between four and 12 people. Call 083 553 9107 or email info@crayfishtrail.co.za

Beer tastings at Maskam Brewery costs R35 per person and includes three beers and a cider. The garlic and herb pita bread is R50. They also have free wine tastings from local cellars every Saturday from 11:00 to 15:00. There is a petting zoo and jungle gym to keep your kids entertained while you sip. Call 0828880119.

The Rocklands Bouldering day permits are R80. A weekend permit (two days) is R130. Call 0274821879.

There is an entrance fee of R40 per person at the Sevilla Rock Art Trail.

Eat here

Doringbaai Seespens serves seafood and steaks. Just a few minutes walk if you’re staying at Thornbay Accommodation.

Reinholds Restaurant in Clanwilliam is renowned for their steaks. They also have bobotie, quiches, chicken schnitzel and hake. Their lunch menu ranges from R50 to R130. If you’re craving a full house breakfast while on the road it will cost you R80 and there are also health and vegetarian options. Call Emil 0833893040.

Red Ox Steakhouse at Letsatsi Lodge in Vanrhynsdorp. Starters are from R60 and mains start at R120 for a 200-gram sirloin to R180 for a T-bone steak. They also serve chicken/beef schnitzels and beer-battered hake (all R120). Call 0272192828.

Traveller’s Rest Restaurant has a full farm breakfast on their menu for R75. Filter coffee is R20. Their health breakfast is R50. Call 0274821824.

Sleep here

Thornbay Accommodation from R600 per night for four people and it’s self-catering. 0272151333.

Letsatsi Lodge is R595 for a single person and R950 for two adults sharing (breakfast included). Letsatsi has succulent tours and a historical church. Some of the units also have self-catering facilities and braai areas. Call 0272192828.

Kliphuis has three cottages that sleep a minimum of six people and a maximum of eight people. Self-catering. 0214830190.

Call Cape West Coast Tourism for more information: 0224338505 or email tourism@wcdm.co.za

Shades of black

The words ndoni yamanzi seem to transform a speaker with the most basic grasp of isiZulu into a poet. When these words first entered my vocabulary, I was enchanted. It didn’t matter how many times I read them in a book or used them in a narrative essay, they always moved me.

Ndoni yamanzi is used to refer to a beautiful African woman with a darker complexion. It can loosely be translated to “dark beauty“.

Ndoni yamanzi is an acknowledgement of beauty. As a dark-skinned black woman, knowing that there is nothing wrong with me is important for my self-confidence. I’ve never felt envious of my fellow sisters with lighter skin nor have I been bullied for being dark.  However, many black women have to endure criticism and humiliation, sometimes within their families because of their skin tone.

Colourism is the prejudice and discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone and it typically occurs among people of the same racial or ethnic group. Before I expanded my knowledge on colourism, I first had to acknowledge that colourism is a thing. I thought it was a made up word when I encountered it in a magazine article. My cynical attitude however evolved into fascination as I grew to understand the impact of colourism on a woman’s self-image.

The prejudice that dark-skinned women have been subjected to has not only resulted in self-condemnation but has also created a wall between them and their light-skinned counterparts. This is a tragedy because black women as a whole not only continue to fight for their representation in the public sphere, but are also divided because of the notion that light-skinned women are more favourable and privileged. One only has to watch television for 5 minutes to understand the plausibility of this notion.

I recently watched an episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass where the spotlight was on colourism. I watched a young dark-skinned black woman admit to the audience that she believed she was ugly. No amount of encouragement, compliments or wisdom could break the shackles that had formed around her. Light-skinned women also highlighted that the grass was not greener on the other side. Many of them had also been the victims of verbal abuse and prejudice especially those of mixed racial ancestry. For them, their “blackness” is always in question, even within their families.

Not black enough

Teen Vogue magazine, recently drew criticism for an article on Senegalese twists. Senegalese twists are a protective hairstyle where the hair extensions are twisted instead of braided. Readers where unimpressed when a light-skinned model was used to show the twists. The debate that arose from this article highlighted two issues. The first issue is that media tends to favour light-skinned black women. This is known as “whitewashing” and dark-skinned black women often feel alienated and misrepresented in the forms of media that they subscribe to. The second issue is that light-skinned black women don’t feel “black enough” even when they have African ancestry.

Upon recognising the hurt stemming from both dark and light-skinned women, Oprah’s Lifeclass co-host, Iyanla Vanzant, stated that it was important not to delegitimise each women’s experience no matter where they fall on the colour spectrum but to be a witness to each other’s wounds.

If you were wondering, there is also a description for light-skinned African women that admires and celebrates their beauty by comparing them to the hue of beach sand (“muhle njengezihlabathi zolwandle”). One could easily assess this comparison and conclude that it places the light-skinned black woman on a pedestal. However, I choose to see both of these representations of dark and light-skinned women as the intrinsic relationship between beauty and nature. Both are ubuhle bemvelo or “natural beauty”.

Beauty shouldn’t lie in the tone of one’s skin, however, shallow perceptions of beauty dictate how women should see themselves. Most of us know this but the message is yet to come full circle.

Inner…booty?

Okay, so I know that 2015 is still shiny and new, but that doesn’t mean we should shove 2014 into the recesses of our mind, right?

It is only a matter of time before the media dubs 2015 as the year of “whatever” and I would like to reflect on a recent trend that has placed the posterior on a pedestal. I think you know where this is going, but don’t worry, this is not a rant about the “booty”. However, I am itching to discuss exactly how intense this trend is.

Miley Cyrus has received enough flak lately for appropriating twerking, so I will not bore you with that topic. But twerking is a good place to start considering its “revival” in 2013. Even more senior citizens decided to take a ride on the twerking train, which creeps me out but that’s another story that needs its own post. I am more concerned with how twerking paved the way for the rise of the female butt. Yep, in case you missed it, 2014 was the “Year of the Booty”.

Nicki Minaj warned us that unless you’ve got buns, you wouldn’t be getting any. Jennifer Lopez and featured rapper, Iggy Azalea commanded us to throw our hands up if we love a big booty and if we didn’t get it the first time, Meghan Trainor told us that she was bringing booty back!

It is appropriate to say that the booty was a celebrated part of the female form last year, but it is also safe to say that not ALL females could be included in this celebration. I am not sure if there was an increase in the demand for butt implants or if women everywhere tripled their squat reps, but it would be interesting to find out. People have become obsessed with the art of squatting to develop the toned tush they see in music videos . Let’s be real, cellulite and uneven skin tones are a problem for most beautiful women so I am also not sure who “Anaconda” and “Booty” were aimed at

I understand that in every song there is a message and the artists themselves have a special connection to the songs that they put out there, but I think that they should be careful of two things. The first is berating other women who are not included in the category of  the women that they are singing about. Meghan Trainor and Nicki Minaj both refer to “skinny b******” and this is alright to the extent that it puts curvy women in the spotlight that they have been denied for so long. It also might be a counter-argument to all of those women who have been subject to discrimination and bullying because of their size. It can also however, be damaging to women who are naturally thin and as a result are also insecure about their skinniness. Believe it or not, there are women who are tired of explaining how they are not skinny by choice. My question is, is this a movement that is beneficial to all body types, or are we just replacing one body standard with another?

The second thing that I think these artists should be careful of is making everything come down to who we are on the outside. I understand that this is what entertainment and the media is all about, but your true personality and character, come from within.

I am all for celebrating bodies, but hopefully, 2015 will be the year of celebrating not just one body type but a diversity of them. As consumers of the media we should also focus our attention on our inner beauty and not come to define ourselves because of what we look like. It is probably a long-shot but it would be awesome to see the internet breaking because of a person’s (positive) deeds and character and not because of their physical traits.

The End.

Opening the world of reading

At Little Red Dragon Preschool, it is never too early to develop a love of reading.

Every day, a class of 20 young minds are encouraged to delight in the world of books, instead of waiting to be introduced when they start ‘big school’.

The ages of the children of Little Red Dragon may range from four to six, but for them, reading is an activity that they are learning to thoroughly enjoy. They are not only read to by their teachers in English, but in Afrikaans and isiXhosa as well.

The staff at Little Red Dragon believe that it is important to teach the children in their mother-tongues; alongside the primary medium of instruction which is English. It is proven that children learn better in their own language. It is also a good opportunity to develop future multilingual citizens who are appreciative of diversity and who have a formidable grasp of more than one language.

Below are a series of photographs of the Little Red Dragon preschoolers during their reading time. The main boy featured in the pictures is 4 year-old Luciano Gallant. Luciano cannot yet read but has memorised the words of his favourite book, Kassie se Glimlag. Many of the children at Little Red Dragon come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are either under the care of grandparents or foster parents. However, this has not stopped them from developing in the classroom and embracing books.

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During reading time, each child is allowed to pick a book from the classroom library. They are usually encouraged to read aloud to one another.

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Chante Blom, 5, and Kimberley Njani, 5, during reading time.

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Once they have chosen their books, the children must try to identify the main character of their book on an illustrated map. Luciano, points to a frog.

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Shakira Sauls, 5 and the book she has chosen from the classroom library.

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Luciano first reaches for the Bible from the classroom library!

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…But he eventually settles for an easier read!

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The spotlight is on Luciano as he is asked by the teacher to “read” aloud to the class. Kassie se Glimlag is one of his favourite stories that he has memorised and is about a boy who has lost his smile.

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At the end of the book, Kassie finds his smile from being hugged by his loving parents.

Why I love Marie Claire South Africa

In Grade 12, a boy I had a crush on called me a feminist. I took it as a compliment, because it was a sign that he was paying attention to me. He could not have been more wrong. Any self-respecting feminist might have banished me from the movement because of my reliance on his opinion to feel worthy of his affection.

Still, I felt like I had accomplished something. He was not like most boys his age and was very insightful. I had tried relentlessly to get him to notice me. When I spotted him in the room where I was presenting a speech on female empowerment, I told myself that this was my chance to captivate him with my intellectual and linguistic prowess (the speech was in isiZulu). Fortunately, it had been a week since my Matric dance, so my weave was also still in check.

I imagined that after my presentation, we would sit and chat and he would want to spend more time getting to know me. All I got was, “You’re quite a feminist”. And all I could do was mumble shyly about how I wasn’t.

When the blind-fold was miraculously lifted and I realised that I was not the yellow-bone he had been pining for, I distanced myself from him and threw my feelings where they belonged. I no longer have a crush on him but three years later a morsel of rejection still resides within me when I think about how I was not good enough for him. This is getting deep for a post that is simply titled, “Why I love Marie Claire South Africa” but this is a magazine that has certainly been a part of my maturation into a young South African woman and an aspiring features writer.

I count browsing their blogging site as productive procrastination. If I am in need of a thought-provoking distraction, I usually visit marieclairvoyant.com. Don’t worry, you will not be bombarded with “How to Make Him Yours” headlines, nor will you have to set AdBlock to avoid adverts for psychic readings. Marie Clairvoyant has been created purely for your benefit as a woman.

The blogging staff at Marie Claire have created a “Body Politics/Sex” section where you can find a range of posts that surround the issues of body politics. You do not have to be a feminist to have a vested interest in this section, you simply need to be a twenty-first century woman who due to the pervasiveness of the media has undoubtedly had her image judged and scrutinized, by well, everybody.

The blog posts usually critique the fashion industry and communities where woman are often told that they need to be more skinnier or lighter in complexion or not grow out their armpit hair. For a magazine that obviously has interests in fashion, this is refreshing, especially for a community of woman who would benefit from realising that they are not alone in their struggle to conform to certain beauty standards or ideals.

This is not a “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” blog that aims to homogenise women and their issues and inadvertently inject you into some kind of female movement. It is a blog that simply tries to unite woman in their struggles while also embracing their diversity.

For the record, my ex-crush was wrong. I am not a feminist. However, I do support a magazine that rejects the fashion/media industry’s objectification of women and that also intends to celebrate the ordinary woman, flaws and all. After all, it is what we deserve.