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Photo by Udo Juressen


This magazine, though conceptualized as a travel magazine, could be more clearly defined as an experience magazine. Unlike your “10 things to do in South Africa” this magazine is for those who want to see South Africa in its authenticity. We can travel to a place and see its landmarks, the beautiful cities and the historic sites. But if we’re so lucky we get to experience its authentic culture, the local pubs, the untouched beauty of the land and see the past in its true colours. Being an outsider to a country never visited before has its limitations, but the opportunity to explore South Africa as a true local is made possible by me in this magazine. When you first step foot in South Africa, you’ll soon become familiar with the word lekker. Originating from the Afrikaans language, it is a word used and understood by all South Africans regardless of their native tongue, background, culture, religion or race. It is a word that describes the country and a state of being – a shared meaning.


The dictionary compares it to the word good though to understand the true meaning one must know the feeling of sitting in the African sun with a beer in your hand, biltong in the other and a view of the ocean or bushveld. Once you know that feeling, you’ll know why this country is known as one of the most beautiful in the world. I was raised in South Africa by parents who taught me that the world is safe and that to live is to explore a place’s boundaries. So, this magazine is a guide to anyone who seeks to travel South Africa as a local, anyone who likes to travel beyond the sightseers and anyone whose intent to travel there is not to get the perfect picture of the landmarks to prove that they have “been there” but rather for those who want to leave knowing who South Africa is. The pieces in this magazine come from individuals who can describe to you what lekker means. It is a pictorial journey that guides you to know what to expect, what to pack, where to go, what to see, what to indulge in and what to avoid. Lekker tells the story of South Africa’s past and inspires any traveller who has ever thought about seeing this country but has drawn back by its political reputation. We give you a survival guide to third world countries, and we suggest you put South Africa on your bucket list so that you too can experience the cradle of humankind. Enjoy,

Anye Juressen Editor






My dearest Winnie, I have been fairly successful in putting on a mask behind which I have pined for the family, alone, never rushing for the post when it comes until somebody calls out my name. I also never linger after visits although sometimes the urge to do so becomes quite terrible. I am struggling to suppress my emotions as I write this letter. I have received only oneOctober letter26, 1976 since you were detained, that one dated August 22. I do not know anything about family affairs, such as payment of rent, telephone bills, care of children and their expenses, whether you will get a job when released. As long as I don't hear from you, I will remain worried and dry like a desert. I recall the Karoo I crossed on several occasions. I saw the desert again in Botswana on my way to and from Africa--endless pits of sand and not a drop of water. I have not had a letter from you. I feel dry like a desert. Letters from you and the family are like the arrival of summer rains and spring that liven my life and make it enjoyable. Whenever I write you, I feel that inside physical warmth, that makes me forget all my problems. I become full of love. - Nelson


Nelson Mandela on the roof of Kholvad House in 1953. Image courtesy of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

BIOGRAPHY Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Hendry Mphakanyiswa of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies after 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961. After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC. In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela’s campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC. This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with hard labour. In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland.


During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela’s reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom. Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life’s work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organization’s National Chairperson.

ROBBEN ISLAND In the winter of 1964, Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island where he would spend 18 of his 27 prison years. Confined to a small cell, the floor his bed, a bucket for a toilet, he was forced to do hard labor in a quarry. He was allowed one visitor a year for 30 minutes. He could write and receive one letter every six months. But Robben Island became the crucible which transformed him. Through his intelligence, charm and dignified defiance, Mandela eventually bent even the most brutal prison officials to his will, assumed leadership over his jailed comrades and became the master of his own prison. He emerged from it the mature leader who would fight and win the great political battles that would create a new democratic South Africa. Copyright © Norsk Rikskringkasting AS 2012 - Used with permission


The Spice of Life by Anye Juressen

It’s often said that it’s not where you come from but where you’re going, and I completely disagree. Being born and raised in South Africa I find that my heritage defines me daily. I grew up camping every second weekend and while most kids were sharing their holidays in popular spring break spots I was off in an unknown camping spot with my family. There’d be a lack of kids my age and an abundance of boring activities to do with my family like hiking or wind surfing. I had experienced places most people never knew about and explored their nooks and crannies in search of some childish fun. At the time I hated that we didn’t go where everyone else went, and it wasn’t until I graduated high school when I realized that my parents, whether intentional or not, had shown me the love of the road less taken. I appreciate authenticity in all aspects of my life. My parents showed me the value in being different, which is a hard thing to appreciate in a world where there’s an urge to belong. Our trips were far from the ordinary – camping in tents with no running water or electricity, hiking hours to undiscovered waterfalls, swimming in lagoons populated with sharks and jellyfish, drinking traditional beverages in huts and interacting with native Africans that had never seen a person with white skin. I had normalized these happenings and find myself craving alike experiences whenever I’m travelling. Going to a well-known allinclusive resort in a city where everyone’s been couldn’t be less appealing to me. South Africa has a feeling of authenticity to it regardless of where you are in the country. Though my most authentic experience to date was when we went to my favourite place in the world: Msikaba, located on the Wild Coast of South Africa. The drive there can only be conquered with a 4x4 having to battle sand dunes and the roughest of unpaved roads. The drive is slow as we encounter endless herds of cattle and kids running from their huts screaming “sweeeeets” while holding out their hands for candy. Upon arrival, we set up camp for what seems to be hours until we can finally run down the mosquito-infested path that leads to the beach – the completely unpopulated beach. Being with all fifteen of my cousins, we would slowly move all the canoes, surf boards and beach volleyball equipment to our claimed spot on the beach with the ocean to our right and a lagoon to our left. The mouth where the two waters meet is low enough at noon every day, which is when we cross over to access Shelly Beach where we search for pottery and beads that wash up ashore from a 200-year old shipwreck. Beyond Shelly Beach there are waterfalls we access by car, followed by a long hike to a waterfall in which we shower. The lack of ablutions at the camp site means that we spend every evening at the waterfall washing our hair, jumping from cliffs and having sundowners. Msikaba provides the opportunity for us to go kayaking up a gorge with jelly fish below and bald eagle nests above. My grandpa who speaks Xhosa, the native tongue of that region in South Africa, had heard from locals in the camp site that there was an Elder who sells beads and pottery pieces found on Shelly Beach, among other artifacts. When we’d visit her she’d show us her collection and my mom and aunts would buy most of it. Upon every visit the lady would break into tears and hugs, thankful for the source of income. On our last visit to Msikaba, the lady had shown us around her village, which included us sharing a local beverage with her family and playing with the kids of the village that couldn’t stop touching our skin – their fascination with our white skin and long hair was endless. We were discovering and exchanging cultures. Experiences like these had become so normal to me that I crave this travelling recipe whenever I go anywhere. My curiosity for cultures and adventure today comes from my past. South Africa is not just where I’m from but rather a big part of who I am.



Photo by Anye Juressen – Msikaba, South Africa






MIND THE TOURISTS Every country has the world-famous spots that everyone wants to see, that everyone goes to see and that you can’t not see while you’re there. These are South Africa’s top attractions.

Penguins at Boulders Beach

A short drive from Cape Town’s downtown will bring you to Boulders Beach, but be prepared to fight some tiny locals for sandy, waterfront real estate: The area is home to a colony of penguins that laid claim to the beach back in the early ‘80s and never left. Their home is now a sanctuary. You’re invited to get as close as you dare without touching, but whatever you do, don’t feed them—penguin bites are no joke.

Soweto’s Murals

Standing for “South Western Town ships,” Soweto is a

sprawling yet culturally significant district within Johannesburg. It’s the birthplace of Nelson Mandela, and his childhood bricked home still stands, preserved as a museum. Also of note in the area are the Orlando Power Station Cooling Towers, which have been painted with captivating murals depicting the community, music, and Mandela himself. Brave souls can bungee jump from a platform between the two 300-foot towers.

Cango Caves

Take the plunge and sign up for the Cango Caves Adventure Tour. You’ll enter a mysterious and strangely beautiful underground world of fascinating rock formations, cellar-like chambers and low passageways. Be prepared to crawl, duck and squeeze your


way through a breath-taking subterranean world. This tour is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re reasonably fit and healthy, steady your nerves, hold your breath, tuck that tummy in and go deep into Africa’s largest cave. Alongside a caving guide, it’s a mere two hours, but two hours that you’ll never forget! Explore underground wonders such as bizarre rock formations, stunningly beautiful helictites and crystals, cave pools and peaceful grottos. The Cango Caves lie in a Precambrian limestone ridge adjacent to the Swartberg mountains in the Cango valley, just 29km from the small town of Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo.

Kruger National Park

Big Five safaris in South Africa are a must-do for anyone fascinated by wildlife. The Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces remains the iconic tourism drawcard. The Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) are abound in the park and you see them by selfdrive, guided drives or guided walks through the bushveld. But remember, you are not in the middle of a National Geographic documentary. You may well see all Big Five, you may well not, although your chances are high. Drive slowly, stop at waterholes, listen for the warning calls of birds, watch when other vehicles stop, and always keep your eyes open.

Prepare to be awed. To see a leopard dozing in the bough of a tree, spotting a black rhino half-hidden in thick shrubs, finding a pride of lions in the shade after a kill, or watching a large herd of elephants or Cape buffalo move soundlessly across the road– these are all priceless moments.

The Garden Route

When you take a trip down the N2, a stretch running from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border, you’ll discover one of South Africa’s best kept secrets: the Garden Route. While the scenery is enough to make you stop and stare, it’s the hidden gems that can be found on the sides of the roads that are the real allure of the Garden Route. Over time ancient woodcutter clans, fishermen, artists, businessmen and top chefs have all found their niches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape. Oudtshoorn (the ostrich capital of the world) also calls the Garden Route home and, for those who are interested in history, both early inhabitants and elephants have been crossing the Outeniqua Mountains, from Oudtshoorn to the coast, for many centuries. The Garden Route National Park, connecting Tsitsikamma National Park’s ancient forests and wild coastline with the Wilderness National Park via a chain of lakes and sections of Fynbos.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Robben Island: The famous landmark where Nelson Mandela and many other Freedom Struggle heroes were imprisoned. iSimangaliso Wetland Park: One of the largest estuary systems in Africa is acclaimed for its exceptional biodiversity, golden beaches and over 520 bird species. Cradle of Humankind: This area boasts the richest evidence of human evolution over the past 3.5-million years and the remains of some of the oldest hominids, the early ancestors of the human race. uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park: South Africa’s highest mountain range has exceptional scenic beauty,iverse habitat and a concentration of historic rock art paintings. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape: This Iron Age site showing evidence of an indigenous society that existed centuries before European colonialism in Africa. Cape Floral Region: The Western Cape’s fynbos where 70% of its floral species occur nowhere else on the planet. Vredefort Dome: The world’s biggest meteor crater dates back 2-million years when a gigantic meteorite 10km in diameter hit the earth. The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape: A mountainous desert in the north-west that is owned and managed by the Nama.

Image courtesy of MyLittleRoad – Soweto Murals, Johannesburg

A Gift to the Earth


Photo by Anye Juressen – Top of Table Mountain, Cape Town

On World Environment Day 1998, the first president of a democratic South Africa, Nelson Mandela, declared this mountain and he rest of the Cape Peninsula National Park, this nation's 'Gift to the Earth'. In his speech that day, President Mandela stated that: "South Africa, as a signatory to the Convention of Biological Diversity, is committed to playing its role in the conservation of the global environment. What we have done today by proclaiming the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a message to the world on World Environmental Day of South Africa's real commitment to making this international convention a working reality in our country". For all who have been enriched by this mountain and peninsula, who have drawn life, nourishment, an d protection and inspiration from this precious gem of our natural world - may it never be forgotten that as much as Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula National Park belongs to all of us, we are at the same time entrusted with its care and protection by those who came before and those who will come after.

Photo by Anye Juressen – Giraffe in Mabalingwe, South Africa

go to the top of Table Mountain and read this sign yourself only when lived can things truly confer meaning


though you'll be looking for the big five, dont forget to sweat the small stuff - look out for the dung beetles



Christina Dabrowski Photography The outstanding coastline of the R44 between Cape Town and Gansbaai


As a documentary series, hosts Scott Wilson and Ellis Emmett explore over three-quarters of the world’s oceans, including the coasts of South Africa. As avid divers, each episode features a new location where they dive into unknown waters to witness sights and creatures unlike the usual traveller.


Nearly three quarters of our planet is water. No matter how tall the highest peak, how vast the broadest desert or how inhospitable the polar caps, they’re all insignificant compared to what lies beneath the waves. Descending is a 13-part documentary that takes viewers on a year-long journey exploring the submerged treasures of our planet (both natural and man-made) with breathtaking beauty and life-threatening excitement possible on every descent. Descending’s Scott andEllis aim to awaken the adventurous spirit in all of us as they experience stunning environments and fascinating cultures around the globe, connecting the world on land to the one undersea.


As an aquatic adventure series for a new generation, it is shot in stunning HD by award-winning cinematographer Andre Dupuis and pushes the boundaries of existing digital camera technology.

Scott Wilson Photography Great White Shark breaching off of Dyer Island

E107: “The Big Six” Scott and Ellis visit South Africa to face their fears and brave some of the most notorious shark-filled waters in the world. Disaster strikes on what should have been an easy dive.


Scott: South Africa is a lot different from the rest of Africa that I’ve seen. Perhaps most obvious is the fact that, no matter where you go in South Africa, you are never that far away from water. Slammed constantly by two oceans, its jagged coastline of cold Atlantic water slowly transitions to a much more gentle and warm Indian coastline to the east. This allows for two completely different diving worlds within one country. If you’re not a surfer, there is only one other reason to brave the cold currents around Cape Town and that’s to dive with shark. I think the thing that blew me away the most about the Great Whites is how calm and controlled they appear to be. The only reason we’ve seen footage of them gnawing away at cages with divers inside is because they have been baited to do so. The process now is to use a bait but it’s not to alter their behaviour as much as it is to play on their curiosity and to observe and learn more about them. I feel it is much better that tourists are leaving with a thrill, a respect and a good photo of a shark than it is to be leaving with a totally inaccurate portrayal, and a shark tooth or fin souvenir from killing them. The sharks are now starting to be viewed as more valuable alive than dead. It’s about time. Copyright © Echo Bay Media Inc. 2011 - Used with permission


Christina Dabrowski Photography Host, Scott Wilson, entering the shark cage for his first Great White encounter

QA &

scott wilson traveller

Scott Wilson, traveller and co-creator of Departures, has paired his mutual love of scuba diving with his passion for travel in the acclaimed adventure series “DESCENDING” which airs on OLN in Canada and Travel Channel internationally. Here is a Q&A with Scott about the episode “The Big Six” where they descend into the deep waters of South Africa.

Q: As your first trip to South Africa, what were some of your first impressions? Was it the Africa that you had pictured?

A: I had been fortunate to have visited Africa a number of times before my

first trip to South Africa, so I had some idea of what to expect. I was surprised to see the level of development and infrastructure compared to other African countries I had seen. I was also impressed at the diversity of landscape/ geography and climate here, too.

Q: In the first part of your trip you were able to see The Big Five, where was this?

A: Aquila Game Reserve. There are so many options in South Africa to

visit game reserves and experience the wild life. Aquila was just the most conveniently located to our filming at the time.

Q: When did you learn to scuba dive? And how many dives have you done?

A: Spring 2009 (although I did a trial dive in June ’08 in Brazil that got me started). I’ve done 325+ dives.



Christina Dabrowski Photography The Descending team launching off the beach for another dive on the Aliwal Shoal

Q: What, for you, is key to staying calm while being in the water with one of the largest predatory fish on Earth?

A: Being with professionals and experts on the shark certainly helps. The

more you read and more understanding you have of the shark, the less fear you seem to have. The fear turns to curiosity and amazement.

Q: Tell us about Shark Alley, Cape Town, and how it feels to meet eyes with a Great White shark?

A: Shark Alley was fascinating. We first visited the area to see why the sharks

are there. The massive population of seal which reside on Dyer Island provide a healthy food supply for the sharks and keeps them close by. The first sight of a Great White underwater brought feelings of wonder and amazement more than fear. They are such incredible, powerful creatures. Perhaps most impressive was getting to see them breach right out of the water.

Q: You did a few dives while in South Africa. Where would you

recommend prospect divers to go and are there any companies you would recommend to them?

A: Certainly diving with the Great Whites in Gaansbai is a must, but also

twitter: scottdescending insta: scott_departures follow Scott's travelling adventures


the Aliwal Shoal south of Durban offers fantastic diving experiences with Ragged-Tooth Sharks, Black Tip Oceanic Sharks and huge Moray Eels. Time your trip right, and you can experience the “bait-ball” phenomenon.


PACIFIC OCEAN Bloubergstrand

Home to one of the most iconic views in the world, Cape Town’s Bloubergstrand is a lovely spot to ogle at one of the New 7 Wonders of the world – Table Mountain. The long beach has gentle waves, lots of beautiful white sand and many restaurants and bars nearby to sip a sundowner and kiss your worries goodbye.

Coffee Bay

Known to all surfers for it’s world-class waves, Coffee Bay hosts international surfing competitions. When you’re done enjoying some of the best waves the Eastern Cape has to offer, take a walk to the hole in the wall - a picturesque hole in high rolling rocks.

Camps Bay

If Durban’s North Beach is the King of Beaches, Camps Bay would be the Emperor, getting into number 1 spot with a landslide of votes; there are plenty of reasons why this is SA’s most popular spot. Sandwiched in between the spectacular 12 Apostles and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, the postcard picture image of Cape Town, is Camps Bay.


Also home to a few beaches, this West Coast fishing village is the definition of quaint. Popular with Capetonians looking to escape the hecticness of their lazy craft-beer swigging city lives, Paternoster is just about 2 hours from Central Cape Town. The beach is long, flat and usually devoid of much human life making it ideal for unwinding and catching your breath.

Don't go to Paternoster Hermanus without havingIf you’re looking for a scenic drive on a Sunday afternoon, make sure a beer at to drive from Gordon’s Bay to Clarence, to Betty’s Beach and finally to Panty Bar Hermanus. Breath-taking coastlines along the way and plenty of fresh fish to eat while you’re at it.


A gem on the False Bay coastline, Kalk Bay is known for its raw beauty, interesting shops, vast selection of restaurants and stunning views. You could easily spend a full day in this little neighbourhood and still not be able to experience it all! be sure to check out the Brass Bell. Well known for its live music offering, the Brass Bell Restaurant and Bikini Bar offers up something for everyone. Situated right on the beach, you must pop in here for some cocktails, fresh fish, entertainment and the ocean spray.

Robben Island

A trip to Robben Island is a bittersweet experience but is a must do for anyone visiting Cape Town. Robben Island reinvented itself many times over the years, once a leper colony, a mental hospital and defence training base, this World Heritage Site is most famed as the prison for anti-apartheid activists like our former president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.


Stand at the most southern point of South Africa at Cape L'agulas where the two oceans meet.

INDIAN OCEAN Westbrook Beach

Westbrook is one of those classic unknown North Coast spots that turns into a world class wave with everything going for it. Warm water, long right big barrels and when the swell hits during the week – no crowds.


Known as “The Wild Coast”, the Transkei remains untouched and raw in its authenticity. The beaches are accompanied by large lagoons and waterfalls. In the Transkei lies Msikaba, a coastal location where one can camp, surf, hike and find remains of a 200-year old shipwreck on Shelly Beach.


One of KZN’s most popular beaches for locals and holiday-makers alike, the warm Indian Ocean draws millions the world over to Umhlanga’s gorgeous golden sands. It doesn’t hurt that the town has great nightlife, hotels and shopping too!

Point Lookout Beach

This beach town’s locals embrace the slower way of life and anyone who’s visiting is there for the impeccable surf.,


You may be surprised to see this East London beach at number 4, but there’s a reason it’s the city’s most popular beach. Whether it’s lazing on the soft sand, swimming in the warm Indian Ocean, surfing some of the epic waves or taking a stroll on the boardwalk through the dunes, this is a beach which won’t disappoint.

Cape Vidal

Another Northern KZN beach, Cape Vidal really is a mighty sight to behold for adventure lovers. Fishermen have been coming here for centuries. ‘Nuff said!

Go open-water diving with ragged-tooth sharks at Cathedral Cave


Photo by Anye Juressen – The iconic beach bungalows in Kalkbaai

Photo by Anye Juressen – View of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand

Photo by Anye Juressen – Msikaba, Transkei



A world view depicting an apocalyptic inner-city squalor and decay Johannesburg, which turns 130 this year, has, in many parts, successfully reconfigured itself as the Pan-African capital it was always destined to be. Be sure to visit the Rosebank rooftop market on Sundays, where local artist sell their art amongst other African crafts. If you’re looking to do some unique shopping visit Amatuli where you can indulge in African housewares, artifacts, jewelry, textiles and prints and when you’re done grab a cold beer or a warm coffee at Milk Bar, right outside the shop.


Nestling at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains, George finds itself at the centre of natures “Garden Route” in the Cape Wildflower Floral Kingdom. As a city it is very underplayed, therefor less tourists and more for you to enjoy. The city is filled with young hipsters who surf but enjoy the feel of a smaller city. Outeniqua Farmer’s Market is a must-attend, no questions asked - you’ll find fresh fish and plenty of colourful African designs.

Cape Town

Rated the most beautiful city in the world many times over by numerous travel magazines, Cape Town is an obvious visiting point. With the best South African wines being produced here, along with picturesque beaches–this city will keep you busy. Stellenbosch, known locally as “Stellies” is the first stop to make when you step foot in Cape Town. As a young and vibing neighbourhood known for its local eateries, galleries, shopping and nightlife, weeks could be spent here. Be sure to grab a slice of pizza at Mulderbos, a glass of wine at Bramptons and a beer at Bartinney.


lovewine: If you like A little list of wineries that not only produce top-shelf vino but you get to drink it with the best views of Cape Town Spice Route Ernie Els Winery Thelema Wines Delaire Graff Vrede en Lust Neethlingshof Franschhoek Lamotte Winery Rickety Bridge

Image courtesy of The Newspaper – Holden Manz Wine Estate, Cape Town


Mabalingwe Nature Reserve

Truth is you can’t visit South Africa without experiencing it’s bush. To see even one of the “Big Five” will leave you feeling a sense of connection to nature like never before. Though there are many places to experience the safari, Mabalingwe is a local favourite. Rich in abundant bird and animal life, including Africa’s “Big 5”, it is here where nature has united to create the perfect paradise on earth. Spread over more than 12, 500ha and malaria free, unspoilt bushveld, Mabalingwe Nature Reserve nestles in the shadow of the majestic Waterberg Mountains.

Waking up early to catch the animals at the wateringhole requires a moring coffee and some rusks (a traditional South African breakfast pastry). If you’re not an early riser, a sunset drive with a cold drink and a bag of biltong is the only recipe for going on a sightseeing hunt on the back of a 4x4. While you’re in Mabilingwe you’ll have to go and see what the Kalahari Oasis Bar is all about, or what it’s not about–it’s a hidden gem.


In our tradition of ‘something for everyone’ there are a number of recreational activities to be found. After a memorable day of activities, relax with a superb meal in the restaurant, and then sipping cocktails against the backdrop of the setting sun, listening to nocturnal calls of the wild African bush.


Spanning nearly 400, 000km2 in the geographic midriff of South Africa, the Great Karoo must be one of the quietest places on Earth. Photo by Anye Juressen – Kalahari Oasis Bar, Mabalingwe

It is a place of immense spaces, wide-angle horizons, craggy mountain ranges, conical hills, an ancient inland seabed, and a sky so big that at night it feels like you can touch the stars. The Great Karoo stands proudly with other desert tourism regions like the Australian Outback and Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, and makes for a memorable road-trip. It seems you could travel for months in and about the towns of the Great Karoo and have a different experience in each one.

Scott Wilson Photography – Rhinos grazing, Aquila Game Reserve

BIG 5 Lion , Elephant, Cape Buffalo ,Leopard & Rhino 23


As an avid traveler and blogger, Kristin went to the Karoo in South Africa to get away from it all and disconnect. What she found instead was a peace of mind emerged within her. Kristen Attis, 27, stood at the center of a rock labyrinth on the Kingwill farm near Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo, South Africa. The clouds rapidly danced around the mountain peaks surrounding her, culminating in sweet desert rain right as she reached the end of the maze. “It was the kind of coincidence I think they call ‘fate’,” she says.

Kristen recalls the experience as feeling completely alone with nothing around her, nothing encumbering her, and what seemed like the entire world at her feet with nothing interrupting her view, and not a soul in proximity to interrupt the beautiful moment unfolding before her. “It was a sense of lack of solidarity with anyone, but alone in the sense of pure, sweet freedom,” she recalls.

“It’s a rarity, to be sure. That kind of infinite space and the beautiful feeling of being the only human on earth – even though deep down you know it’s not really true. It creates the kind of euphoria that I haven’t often experienced,” Kirsten says. Paula, who owns a farm in the Karoo, had told Kirsten that going into the labyrinth with a question, might cause her to return with an answer. “I was skeptical,” Kirsten recalls. But she went in with no expectations and elected to try and make it meditative. Proving this to be difficult, she started looking around and walking.

Kirsten recalls that the beauty quieted her mind, and halfway through, unexpected emotions began to well up in her. She looked up at the mountain in front of her and she had felt like she had found an answer to a question she didn’t know. She remembers feeling a sense that she wanted to create beauty rather than experience it, help rather than harm, and live fully rather than shallowly. Paula had turned out to be right. The Karoo is known as the African bush but better defined as a desert. It is why most people skip right over them thinking they couldn’t have much to offer.



Paula and her husband took over her family’s farm when it was being sold due to her parents’ decreasing ability to maintain the cattle and land. They were both in the film industry in Cape Town when they decided to up and leave to take over the family business with no agricultural education or background. Though tough at first, Paula being fearless, had conquered living on a farm in the Karoo. When Kristen first arrived at the farm, she was hesitant because she was there to experience the farmstay, but had been asked to also participate – like going cattle herding on foot. “Is it difficult?” she asked Paula.


But Kirsten claims that’s why it’s such a well-kept secret “That’s why you won’t see sunburnt tourists clouding your nature. It’s the best kind of vacation there is – complete isolation, if you can handle it,” she says.

“How’s your common sense?” Paula asked. “If you just use common sense, it’ll be easier than you think.”

She had told Paula that although she feels she has common sense, she’s also known to be clumsy – as proven by the scars on her legs. As it turns out, Kirsten discovered that cattle herding is fun. It involved dropping down and snake-crawling under electric fences, jumping over streams and tiptoeing marshes, using sticks in both hands to appear as a moving fence. The best part she recalls, was that the cows fell for it every time. For Kirsten, the purpose of the short stay on the farm was to get away from it all and to disconnect. What she found instead was that it reconnected her with her purpose in life and it helped her recognize what is important to her.

“When you go to South Africa, even if you’re just passing through, will you see the Karoo? There are mountains, beaches, lions, and zebras to see in the rainbow nation, but a girl who has travelled the world has this to say: Few things in life have affected me as profoundly as the Karoo did.” Kristen says. “I wish I could articulate the butterflies in my stomach, the overwhelming feeling of peace, the sudden lining up and organization of things in my mind that were previously running amok, and the peace of mind with which I emerged.” “I guess all I can say is it’s the real deal.”




adjective (South African, informal) 1. pleasing or enjoyable: ‘the lekker local flavour of South Africa’ 2. tasty 3. slightly intoxicated: ‘the snacks helped keep people only lekker’ 4. ‘local is lekker’, popular slogan promoting South African culture, produce, etc word origin C20: Afrikaans, from Dutch

Profile for Anye Juressen

Lekker Magazine  

Lekker Magazine