Page 1





Pack your takkies for Stone Town YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE


22 great gift ideas 5 festive recipes




perfect day trips

Cape Escape


Melkbosstrand, Franschhoek, Darling, Hout Bay and along the coast to Kleinmond THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE!


GAUTENG Hang out at these five markets STANFORD Relax next to the Klein River GARIEP DAM Overnight on a stud farm MPUMALANGA Have you heard of Val?

R43 (VAT INCL) Namibia N$45,50

#138 SATURDAY SORTED. Enjoy good vibes and good food at the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein.

CONTENTS December 2017

COVER PICTURE SHAEN ADEY Chapman’s Peak covered in fynbos with a view of Hout Bay and the Sentinel.




Five family-friendly day outings close to the Mother City.

Go behind the scenes at the annual Dankfees in this quirky Karoo town.

Want to take in the history, street markets and beaches of Stone Town? All you need is a long weekend.




REGULARS Take Your Pic 65 READER PHOTOS Toast chooses his favourite shots from our recent photography tour in Botswana. Did yours make the cut?

Food, Gear & Wheels 70 FOOD Fillet on the coals, crunchy coleslaw, strawberry-and-cream pancake stack… Here’s your campsite Christmas feast!

77 GEAR A list of our favourite products, plus a few gifts we wouldn’t mind finding under the Christmas tree.



A town that bakes together…


Audi has returned with a winning diesel engine in its new Q5 luxury people-mover.

8 ED’S LETTER 12 UPFRONT Letters – 12 Pause for Thought – 22 Good to Know – 24 Veld Facts & Night Watch – 26 News – 27 Books – 28 Pit Stop – 31 View From Here – 32


70 Festive food 6 December 2017

Cars are getting safer and more advanced, but have road trips become more boring as a result? Jon Minster remembers some of the cars he’s owned over the years.

This weekend! 89 STAY HERE Overnight near the Gariep Dam or relax next to the Klein River in Stanford.

92 TAKE FIVE Get up early for these weekend markets in Pretoria and Joburg. (Or swing by later for brunch.)

98 TOWN Val might have fewer permanent inhabitants than a touring Springbok squad, but it’s still well worth a visit.

Tours & competitions 10 Learn how to take better photos in Botswana.

12 Write to us and win a prize! 48 Join go! and Mpafa Travel on a tour of Botswana and the Zambezi Region. 64 Attend our one-day photography workshops in Pretoria and Cape Town. 76 Explore Lesotho on your bike with Dryland Ride. 88 Discover the Knysna Forest with go! and Bhejane. 91 Subscribe, get a 50 % discount and win a stay at the Orion Hotel worth R12 000.

And lastly... 122 AFRICA AT ITS BEST The loo with the best view in Africa.

In the next issue BEACHES Your childhood summers stay with you forever. Our writers share their favourite beach memories.

DON’T GET ROASTED Gear to protect you from the sun this summer.

BRUNCH Delicious recipes to get you out of bed during the school holidays.

NEW NISSAN X-TRAIL Take adventure further in the new Nissan X-Trail. It’s packed with Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, such as Intelligent 4X4 Mode* for smooth sailing on rough terrain. Seating for up to 7* ensures that the whole family can also get in on the fun. Test-drive one, today. Find out more on Peace of mind comes standard with Nissan Assured, which includes 6-year/150 000km warranty and 3-year/90 000km service plan. *On selected models

Intelligent 4x4*

Up to 7 Seats*




Stops you in your tracks RONEL STEYN


OUR PROMISE We don’t accept freebies. When one of our journalists visits a destination, it’s mostly unannounced and the magazine covers all costs. If we don’t pay for something, we’ll tell you about it. We strive to travel like our readers travel. If you think we’re not keeping our promise, write to


like to think that the people who work at go! and the people who read the magazine see their glasses as half full. No, three-quarters full. We don’t always think of life as a song, but we’d rather hum one under our breath than mumble about all the problems in the world. Sometimes I get asked about the go! philosophy. Well, we’re unashamedly pro-South Africa and pro-Africa. Our country and the broader continent is packed with wonderful places and people. We’re not oblivious to the negatives, but we purposely choose to celebrate the positives. There was a time when I looked at everything through first-world spectacles, but I found it helpful to take them off. I was standing on a beach near Inhassoro in Mozambique, watching local fishermen hoist a dragnet ashore. Hundreds of fish wriggled around on the beach. But there was more than just fish in the net: A boy snatched a seahorse and played with it like a rubber toy, twisting its head and tail in different directions. Starfish lay to one side and small sand sharks were gasping for breath. This scene, and the wastefulness of human beings it represented, bothered me greatly. That night around the campfire our conversation became philosophical. Why is it that we regard one species as “cute” and worth saving, and another as food? Do we have the right to interfere in another culture’s way of doing


Gerda Engelbrecht is the mastermind behind our popular special edition go! Puzzles. She’s mad about crosswords and she even owns crossword-print pyjamas. True story!


grew up in a crossword-crazy home. Every week when my mom got her latest Huisgenoot, she’d stay up late to finish the crossword. I started working at Huisgenoot in 2011 and I quickly put up my hand to be the editor of their biannual crossword book. I’m a bookworm myself and I was soon addicted to playing with words. Now I compile about a thousand crossword puzzles a year. Sometimes, when I go on holiday, I tell myself to take a break. But by the second day I can’t help switching on my computer. I also still enjoy doing crosswords – mostly in English because English is my second language and I want to improve my vocabulary. Crosswords remain popular in South Africa and I’ve received complimentary letters from

8 December 2017

things? The subsistence fishermen put their dragnets out to sea every day for nine months of the year. “No wonder there’s nothing left in the ocean!” one of us exclaimed. Our guide, who until then had been listening in silence, finally spoke: “Do you know that a single commercial super trawler catches more fish and other sea creatures in one night than all the fishermen of Inhassoro catch in a year?” The neatly packaged fish we buy at our supermarket is, of course, caught by those super trawlers. And it doesn’t bother us because we don’t see it happening. Context and perspective are important. That being said, I do struggle with context and perspective when it comes to rhino poaching. The cruelty of this greed-inspired slaughter is depicted in a portrait on page 22, by South African photojournalist Brent Stirton. It’s one of a series of rhino-poaching photos that won Brent the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. It’s a shocking photograph – a murder scene that stops you in your tracks. It’s not Africa at its best, but we decided it was important enough to publish. If you don’t see it, it doesn’t bother you. And that’s just unforgivable.

a range of people: young and old, homemakers and professionals. In New York, more than a thousand people gather every year to compete in the The New York Times crossword puzzle tournament. I attended it once – it was like going down the rabbit hole into a different world. One woman walked around in crossword pyjamas and no one batted an eye. (It wasn’t me, I promise, but I ordered mine soon after!) Long after the last cellphone has been replaced by a chip in your chin, people will still open a magazine, sharpen a pencil and fill in a crossword. Hopefully one that I have created! go! Puzzles #2 (R45) will be on shelf from 4 December. You can also order a copy from


ADVE 33°27’48.7”S 20°35’18.7”E

Put down your marker at any of our 25 reserves for your perfect summer getaway. With so many different destinations and activities to choose from, you will most likely find more than one favourite. Experience activities such as hiking, camping, mountain biking, bird watching, 4x4 trails, horse riding and many more.

021 483 0190 Book online:

Standard daily conservation fees apply. Free access for Wild Card members.





Take better photos in Botswana! One of the magazine’s professional photographers will travel with the group and teach you more about your camera and the technical stuff. You’ll return with classic photos to print and frame, and the know-how to take your hobby to the next level. TOUR DETAILS Duration: 11 days, 10 nights Dates: 15 – 25 March 2018 15 – 25 July 2018 Departure point: Letlhakane, Botswana Cost: R14 950 per person THE RATE INCLUDES • A professional tour leader and an experienced field guide • Three meals a day • All park, camping and advertised activities fees • Two-way radios

ADVENTURE ITINERARY Day 1: Letlhakane to Kubu Island Day 2: Kubu Island to Maun (Boteti River) Day 3: Maun and Okavango Delta Day 4: Maun to Tsodilo Hills (rock art) Day 5: Tsodilo Hills to Ngepi Camp (Namibia) Day 6: Ngepi Camp: Visit Mahango Game Reserve Day 7: Ngepi Camp: Visit Bwabwata National Park Day 8: Ngepi Camp to Kasane Day 9: Day trip to Victoria Falls Day 10: Chobe National Park Day 11: Until next time…

To reserve your place and for more info call 044 535 0065; e-mail or visit


SUBSCRIPTIONS, RENEWALS AND QUERIES FOR THE PRINTED MAGAZINE: 087 740 1036 | 086 534 4704 | +27 21 065 0033 | “gosubs” to 32361 (R1 per SMS) | CALL CENTRE HOURS: Mon – Fri 8 am – 5 pm FOR THE DIGITAL MAGAZINE: 0861 697 827 |

WHERE TO FIND US CONTACT: DONVÉ MYBURGH 021 443 9830 CAPE TOWN: POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 740, Cape Town, 8000 STREET ADDRESS: 18th floor, Absa Building, cnr of Adderley & Riebeek streets, Cape Town, 8001 JOHANNESBURG: POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 785266, Sandton, 2146 STREET ADDRESS: 6 Kikuyu Street, Sunninghill, 2191

Weg/go! is a member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa

Printing: Paarl Media Cape All rights reserved

Distribution: On the Dot

Published by Media24, a division of Naspers, 40 Heerengracht, Cape Town, 8001


Where have you been? What have you seen? Write to



A narina trogon flew into us! We recently visited Marloth Park, which borders the Kruger Park. One afternoon, as we were driving home from a nearby shop, a bird flew into the window of our car. We were sure the bird had been killed by the impact, but then I saw it struggling in the road. We pulled over and rushed to get it to safety. That’s when I realised: It was a narina trogon! For most bird­ watchers, this is a seldom­seen bird and one that you would be very lucky to spot in a dark forest canopy. The bird was dazed, so we took it home and put it in a tree in the shade. It sat there for about an hour and we were very relieved when it eventually flew away. As quickly as it had appeared in our lives, it was gone. MARYKE SCHEUN, Pretoria

WRITE TO US & WIN! Maryke wins a rechargeable Zartek spotlight worth R1 170. The ZA478 is compact but unbelievably bright, with a 1 200­lumen LED bulb and a powerful Li­ion battery that will ensure that you’re never left in the dark. The light comes with a 220 V charger and a 12 V charger that you can use in your vehicle. It’s a must­ have item for security at home and for any adventure in the outdoors.

SPEAK TO US Send your letters to – please include your name, surname and where you live. Please also include a photo if you have one. We reserve the right to edit and shorten letters, and use your photos elsewhere in the magazine, on our digital platforms and in our marketing material. 12 December 2017

WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? The question, ‘what are you wearing?’ takes on a whole new meaning when you consider nextgeneration tech like the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, Gear IconX, Gear VR and Gear 360. It’s no longer only about the smartphone. Now an integrated universe of smart wearables is changing how we engage with everything from fitness to the world around us. For man-about-town, model, TV presenter and multitasking entrepreneur, Maps Maponyane, his hectic work and travel schedule means that staying in shape

is an absolute necessity in order to stay on top


of what needs to get accomplished in a day. The Gear Fit2 Pro sports band is the ideal tool for Maps as the embedded GPS and heart rate monitor give him accurate feedback, whether he’s pounding the treadmill or racking up the steps hustling around Hopetown or Helsinki. At some stage, everyone finds the gym boring and a chore – and Maps is no exception. However, pairing his Gear Fit2 Pro with the Gear IconX livens the experience as he gets fit and he doesn’t even have to turn it on, because it activates as soon as he inserts the earbuds. Maps can listen to music and tap the earbuds to change tracks without needing to have his phone nearby. He gets instant feedback on whether he is meeting his daily goals, and all his accumulated data from the Gear Fit2 and IconX easily syncs with S Health.

The Gear Fit2 Pro is designed to track data all day long, and the sleek ergonomic design and interchangeable display don’t compromise his smartly tailored look. Staying in shape is non-negotiable for Maps, but it’s only a fraction of his day. Working in media and having a huge social media presence mean that his followers expect to see all the highlights of his day-to-day activities. The Gear 360 is the perfect tool for him to deliver amazing 360-degree visuals in both video and stills. Whether he’s busting a move on a Saturday night or taking a red carpet wide-angle, the Bright Lens F2.0 gives him fantastic high-resolution images, even in low light. It’s also small enough to slip into his jacket pocket, ready at a moment’s notice. The Gear 360 is also a great tool for those behindthe-scenes shots Maps loves to share. He can sync it with his Samsung Galaxy S8 and upload or share directly onto his social media channels, as well as preview content in real time while he’s recording. And of course, he can watch his own content through the Gear VR –

another wearable that’s part of his cohesive Samsung universe. It’s super simple for him to slot his Galaxy S8 into the headset and start enjoying his virtual reality content. Best of all, it’s light and comfortable. With a selection of fantastic – not to mention fashionable – tools at his disposal, it’s no wonder that Maps not only manages to always look effortlessly good despite a heavy work and travel schedule, but he’s able to document it, one cityscape at a time.


A life-long fan With reference to the snippet about Oosie’s Index in go! #136: I also have all 156 issues of Weg (Our Afrikaans sister mag. – Ed.) I decided to investigate and discovered the following:


Ghost town crows I recently joined go! and Mpafa on a tour of Namibia – a wonderful experience. Along the way, I noticed a worrying number of pied crows almost everywhere. They’re aggressive birds and often chase and harass other species. This photo of two crows in a deserted house in the ghost town of Kolmanskop sums up the chills these birds give me. ELSA DU PLESSIS, Pretoria

The total height in metres of all the issues in a pile.

Cheers to Cheerio Gardens


I had heard about Cheerio Gardens in Haenertsburg before, and when I read about the gardens in go! #136 I decided that it was time to go and see them for myself. What a beautiful place! Flowers, dams, shrubs, trees… Cheerio has it all. Thanks for seeking out such good places to visit. If I want a suggestion for a scenic place to travel to, I just turn the page and find what I’m looking for. JACKIE EKSTEEN, Polokwane

The weight in kilograms of that pile.

3 895,70

The total cost in rands of all the issues published so far – bargain!

11 904

Total number of pages. Every issue features at least one place that my wife Katrien and I have visited, although we’ve never been outside the country. I was born in Knysna in 1932 and the Garden Route and Route 62 remain our favourite holiday spots. We love mountain passes and detours and since my retirement 22 years ago, Katrien and I have driven more than 90 passes, kloofs and poorts. We enjoy Toast, Erns, Sophia and all the other writers’ stories and I often reread them to experience the scenery again. Without the magazine, our holidays wouldn’t be as enjoyable. May there be many more issues to come! FERES KÖMMER, Springs 14 December 2017

Bread fever on the Garden Route The column “Chop Fever in the Tankwa” in go! #136 reminded me of our first caravan holiday as a married couple in 1973. We left Port Elizabeth very early in the morning to sleep over at Storms River Mouth in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. The plan was to buy a loaf of fresh bread en route, but at every roadside shop we were too early and the bread had not yet been delivered or baked. We arrived at Storms River early as planned – this would give us leisure time in the park before moving on the next day. Being out of season, we were the only campers in the park. After lunch we walked the first part of the Otter Trail up to the waterfall. When we got back to camp, we saw that another

caravan had arrived. Some time later, our neighbour came over to ask if he could borrow our bread knife. I found this very amusing. The only two campers in the park and one arrives with a bread knife and no bread and the other arrives with bread and no knife! When our neighbour returned our knife, he presented us with a loaf of bread that his wife had baked using a special recipe. “This bread does not go stale!” he exclaimed. It was the best loaf of bread I’d ever eaten. It lasted us about four days and was as good on day one as it was on day four. The only mistake we made that day was that we didn’t get the recipe. If any reader has a recipe for bread that lasts so well, please share it! COLIN STOCK, Port Elizabeth


Leave the cycads in Mozambique

Tanganyika in the 1980s Your story about Lake Tanganyika in go! #135 made me dust off my photo albums. In 1986, I set off with my friends Willem Blommaert, Christie Mocke and Fritz Smit on a fishing trip to Lake Tanganyika. We flew to Lusaka and reached Ndole Bay at the southern tip of the lake in the dark, after passing through about eight roadblocks. At the time, the sight of four young, white South Africans was treated with suspicion. We also spent time in Nkamba Bay and Kasaba Bay, where we caught big Nile perch and a kind of kurper during our 10-day stay. The lake was pristine with very little infrastructure and we stayed in deserted but clean guesthouses. After our holiday, we wanted to avoid the roadblocks so we decided to fly from Kasaba Bay to Lusaka via Kasama, Ndola and Kabwe. We couldn’t book tickets beforehand and there was a long queue of people waiting to board the 40-seater aeroplane. With the help of a local big game hunter, we managed to find seats and when we boarded we were greeted with the words: “Welcome on board Zambian scare ways, we hope you enjoy your fright!” Chickens in wire cages filled the aisles and the plane was packed. At Kabwe we had to disembark so the plane could refuel. They also emptied a 20-litre drum of oil into one of the engines – the side of the plane was pitch black where the oil had spilled. This is just a short summary of everything we saw and experienced. I’ve visited Zambia many times since – it remains an overlooked gem in Africa. RINUS VAN DER SLUYS, Paarl 16 December 2017

We’ve just returned from a few days at Macaneta north of Maputo in Mozambique. While there, we came across several young boys selling cycad seed cones as well as small cycad plants, their bare roots dangling limply in the air. This is not a product the boys would be selling if there were no market. Who is buying, if not South Africans? Trafficking cycads is illegal, so why would you trade on the enthusiasm of local people to please visitors and make a little money, and in doing so plunder their own country’s resources? My point is that when we leave home, we should always be on our best behaviour and respect the people, laws and customs of the country we’re visiting. I want to be welcome wherever I go and this can only happen if my fellow South Africans are also model tourists. DAPHNE HAMILTON, Mooinooi WYNAND VAN EEDEN, editor of Encephalartos, the journal of the Cycad Society of South Africa, says: This is the seed cone of Encephalartos ferox. This particular species may not cross the border without the necessary CITES documentation and a valid import permit supplied by the local conservation authorities. South Africans like to collect these plants. Most people think they’re “saving” the plants or aiding conservation efforts by buying cycads and getting them to grow back home. But in reality, all they’re doing is ensuring a demand for illegal plants, which leads to the veld being plundered. When one cycad population is decimated, the poachers simply move on to the next. From a conservation perspective, I recommend visitors never buy seed cones or plants. You also run the risk of being caught with these plants at the border – the new endangered species legislation allows for higher fines and prison time. Enjoy the cycads in their natural habitat and take photos, but leave them where they are. You can get this species for an affordable price at specialist nurseries in South Africa.

UPFRONT LETTERS The Kgalagadi stole our hearts My wife Susan and I love the Kruger, but we were sceptical about the Kgalagadi – what could be wonderful about a semi-desert and red sand dunes? Despite our misgivings, we recently decided to hit the corrugated gravel road and see what all the fuss was about. We spent two weeks in the park and it stole our hearts. We didn’t want to leave! The vast landscapes, the sun rising over plains of springbok, orange sunsets over the dunes, green camel thorn trees in dry riverbeds… This photo was taken on the road between Nossob and Union’s End – we saw four lions that day – two at the Union’s End waterhole and two at the Kwang waterhole. One of the lions was enjoying a “fingerlickin’ good” Kgalagadi springbok. We can’t wait to go back. HANSIE VAN RENSBURG, Langkloof

Slow and steady wins the game-viewing race

Left, right, left! I took this photo at Sunset Dam near Lower Sabie. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The lions had a drink of water then they took a stroll around the dam and crossed the road right in front of our vehicle. They seem to be marching, watched by a stern giraffe general! HEIN WASSERMANN, Mossel Bay

The white wizard We came across this pride of lions with a white lion in their midst on the S41 near Satara during a recent visit to the Kruger Park. DICK SWART, George 18 December 2017

There’s nothing quite like the Kruger Park. It’s a unique and special place that worms its way into your heart like an ant lion burrowing into the ground. On our latest trip, we managed to secure accommodation at Lower Sabie, which was a treat in itself. As always, the excitement of being in the park automatically activated my internal alarm clock, which refuses to function on regular work mornings. So, early one morning, we waited in the queue to leave the camp, fresh coffee in hand. Our usual Kruger routine is to try and see as much as possible on a full day’s drive that can last up to 12 hours. This time, however, because we were staying in the best section of the park for game viewing, we decided to rather take it slow. This approach definitely paid off. As the gates opened, everyone motored ahead, rushing to catch that

first sighting. We trundled along the Sabie River road instead, making our way back to the spot where lions with cubs had been seen the day before. And then we saw them, right on the side of the road: three little cubs. They were the youngest I’d ever seen in 20-something years of visiting the park! We shared the experience with two other vehicles for a good few minutes before the cubs retreated to the safety of their den. The Kruger has taught me many things, but the most valuable lesson so far is to take it slow in the park. CLAIRE BOTHA, Isando

Kruger 2017 TRAVEL GUIDE


days in 30the park


Hike on the wild side – p 16

Photography • Park regulars share their pics

• Snapshots from the old days

Plan your best holiday ever! CAMP INFO • DETAILED MAPS • ACTIVITIES

+ Top tips from the Kruger’s residents and great game-viewing routes

RSA R55 (Vat incl.) N$57,50 (Namibia)

Our 2017 Kruger guide is on shelf now (R55). You can also order a copy at winkel.weg.


Dove kebab


JOHAN FOURIE from Centurion writes: I photographed this dove in my garden. Although impaled by a porcupine quill, it didn’t seem to be struggling too much, but it did sometimes trip over the quill. It ate some pap that I put out and flew into a nearby tree. I know it’s a myth that porcupines shoot their quills and to my knowledge there aren’t any porcupines in my area.

An impaled dove? A tree stripped of its bark? Send your questions to

However, Rietvlei Dam is about 13 km away. Any idea what might have happened here?


Bird expert FAANSIE PEACOCK says: It looks like the quill has penetrated the right side of the bird’s chest, but it missed the wing so it doesn’t seem to have an effect on the bird’s ability to fly, eat or walk around. The wound is probably smaller than it looks because it’s

hidden beneath a thick layer of contour feathers. This is a freak accident and how it happened is a mystery. It might be that the bird ventured too close to a porcupine, but that’s unlikely. Porcupines can’t shoot their quills, but people can. It’s possible that there was a third party involved. Quills are often used in home-made weapons and traps. But if the bird was shot, the quill is at a strange angle.

A recent study on the interaction between birds and the North American porcupine reported 17 cases and nine species that got to know the sharp end of a porcupine quill. The end result of many of the cases are unknown, but at least half of the birds died. The majority of these cases involved birds of prey (eagles, buzzards, hawks and large owls) as well as crows. A grouse hen with quills in her breast has also been recorded. The grouse nests on the ground and she might have been injured while protecting her eggs: Porcupines might be largely vegetarian, but there have been reports of North American species eating bird eggs. The calcium in the eggshell could be the real target, since porcupines like to gnaw on bones as well. Johan was surprised to see a porcupine quill in suburban Centurion, but porcupines are highly adaptable and are widespread in green belts and urban areas. They’re found in many municipal nature reserves and estates in and around Pretoria. I doubt the dove will survive for long. Even if the wounds heal, the quill will remain a hindrance.

around the tree, but a baboon had marked one of the branches higher up. Did baboons strip the bark?


Who stripped the bark?


PIET THERON from Graaff-Reinet writes: I came across this cabbage tree on a game farm near Graaff-Reinet. There haven’t been any wild animals on the farm for quite some time, except baboons and smaller animals like porcupines and meerkats. I couldn’t find spoor on the ground 20 December 2017

Plant taxonomist BRAAM VAN WYK says: It’s hard to say without seeing the tree up close. The most likely explanation is that people stripped the bark. Many parts of the cabbage tree are used in traditional medicine. Could it have been an animal? Porcupines sometimes ring-bark trees, but mostly along a relatively narrow strip just above the ground. In this case, the animal would have had to move around in the branches and porcupines aren’t known for their tree-climbing skills. If there are visible tooth marks on the stripped parts of the tree, the animal had large and sharp teeth. This would point to baboons and rock dassies – both species are known to eat bark. I’ve seen bushveld trees stripped by dassies that looked much like the tree in this photo, but not a cabbage tree. As far as animals go, the dassie is suspect number one, and the baboon number two. When an animal strips a tree, there will be small pieces of bark scattered around on the ground. Dassies (and baboons too, I suspect) selectively eat the innermost living layer of bark that lies directly against the wood; the outer, dead layers are left alone. I can’t see any bark lying on the ground, which makes me think that humans are the culprits in this case.


Which longhorn are you?

Tree bug anonymous


FRANS J GROTIUS from Brakpan writes: I took this close-up photo of a plant and only saw the insect when I looked at the photo on my computer. It was so well camouflaged that I didn’t even see it when setting my focus. What kind of bug is it?


THEO MOSTERT from Goodwood writes: I photographed this beetle on the Piekenierskloof Pass near Citrusdal in a stand of cultivated wild fig trees. The trees were clearly their hosts because the wood was full of holes. I often travel that way and have never seen these beetles before. Are they indigenous or did they arrive with the fig trees?



Entomologist DUNCAN MACFADYEN says: This is the larva of a heteropteran, or seed bug, called Stictopleurus scutellaris, which belongs to the family Rhopalidae. Unfortunately, we know very little about this group. I spoke to leading heteropteran expert Dr Dawid Jacobs and there is literally no information available about this bug!




Entomologist DUNCAN MACFADYEN says: This is a Cape PondoPondo longhorn beetle. It’s an indigenous species that belongs to the family Cerambycidae. It’s a large species: Adults can reach a length of 37 mm. The beetles lay their eggs in slits in bark, using their strong mandibles to cut through decaying wood. The larvae bore into rooibos tea bushes, and are also expected to impact black wattle and cassia trees.








In October, South African photo­ journalist Brent Stirton was announced as the winner of the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for this heart­wrenching, savage portrait of a black rhino killed for its horn in Hluhluwe­iMfolozi. In 2015, an estimated 5 000 black rhino remained in the wild. Since then, their numbers have fallen even further. “When an image shocks us, there needs to be a good reason,” says Lewis Blackwell, chair of the competition jury. “With this one, there is.” The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is owned by the Natural History Museum in London.






Have you seen a red disa? The red disa (Disa uniflora) is the symbol of the Western Cape and it’s in bloom from December to March. We asked Dominic Chabon, aka The Fynbos Guy, about which hikes to do on Table Mountain if you want to see this special flower. The easy option: Disa uniflora is an orchid that grows in the high mountains next to streams and wetlands. Start at Constantia Nek and walk up the concrete road to the top. Go past the Overseer’s Cottage and bear right onto Smuts’ Track, which runs along the eastern side of the mountain. Continue past Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge until you get to Window Stream in Window Gorge, where there are usually lots of disas. Then you can retrace your steps or continue along Smuts’ Track to Maclear’s Beacon and the cableway station. If you’re up for a challenge: Park your car in Theresa Avenue in Camps Bay and hike up Kasteelpoort. Red disas grow in the stream in the final section of the ravine. Or hike up Skeleton Gorge from Kirstenbosch. There are usually disas at the top of the trail. Return via Nursery Ravine. Both these routes are steep and you should set aside at least half a day. For the connoisseur: The Myburgh’s Waterfall Ravine Trail is the best place on Table Mountain to see disas, but it’s a difficult route. It starts in Hout Bay and returns via Llandudno Ravine, but it’s not marked clearly and requires some scrambling. The Disa Stream Gorge and Aqueduct trails are equally impressive but tricky to find. I’d recommend you do all three of these trails with a guide. For more info, contact Dominic on 072 9925 636 or visit

OR HEAD TO THE OVERBERG… Visit Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay and follow the Disa Kloof Trail to the waterfall (about an hour return). Red disas grow on the slopes to the west of the Disa River. You can also see disas on the Luiperds Kloof Trail – see page 40. Entrance fee: R25 per adult; free for children under 6 and with a SANBI membership. Opening times: Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4.30 pm and until 5 pm on weekends and public holidays. Contact: 028 272 9311;

24 December 2017

Enjoy a full moon picnic in Paarl Watch the full moon rise over the Taal Monument in Paarl. Bring your own picnic basket or order one beforehand from the Volksmond coffee shop ( 021 863 2800; R300 for two people; R400 with a basket included). Funds raised go towards a reading project for children – bring along a second-hand children’s book to donate. When? 1 December, 2 January, 2 February and 2 March, from 5 pm to 10 pm. A free, guided tour of the monument is offered at 6.30 pm. Cost: R30 per adult; discounts for students, pensioners and children. Contact: 021 863 4809;

WIN! Win two tickets to a full moon picnic of your choice in January, February or March. SMS the word “Picnic”, followed by your name and e-mail address to 35695. Entries close on 10 December 2017. SMSes cost R1,50 each.


Think strawberries, think summer! December is harvest season on strawberry farms all over the country and many farms allow you to pick your own. (Call ahead to see if there is still fruit available.) GEORGE


Red Berry Farm

Tangaroa, The Strawberry Farm

Geelhoutboom Road (next to the R404), Blanco Times: Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. Closed on 25 December. Entrance fee: Free. Strawberry prices: From R20 for a small punnet. More info: 044 870 7123;

Near Hartbeesboort Dam, next to the R560. See the website for detailed directions. Times: Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 7.30 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee: R70 per adult; R50 per child under 10. Strawberry prices: From R70/kg. More info: 012 207 1116;


Polkadraai Farm About 6 km from Kuils River next to the M12 towards Stellenbosch. Times: Open every day except 25 December, from 9 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee: Free, but every person in your group must buy a punnet of strawberries. Strawberry prices: From R40 for a small punnet. More info: 021 881 3303;


Mooiberge Farm Stall About 9 km from Stellenbosch, next to the R44 towards Somerset West. Times: Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm; open every day during the December school holidays. Entrance fee: R10 per adult; R5 per child under 12. Strawberry prices: R40/kg More info: 021 881 3222

Father Christmas and his… dolphins? Visit uShaka Marine World in Durban this month for “Dolphins by Starlight” – the dolphins perform to Christmas carols sung by the Durban Gospel Choir and other artists. A ticket to the show includes entrance to the Sea World Aquarium so you can have a look around beforehand. When? 7 – 13 December; show starts at 7 pm. Cost: R170 per adult; R140 per child at More info: 031 328 8000;




Anything but ordinary


ou could set your calendar to the social behaviour of impalas. Every year in February, adult impala males (four years and older) start splitting off from their bachelor herds to form temporary territories of their own – a process that lasts until the end of April. They mark their territory by defecating in middens, pasting gland secretions from their foreheads and by their distinctive roars and coughs that can be heard throughout the night. (I’ve often had to convince safari guests that the “roar” they’re hearing is actually a benign antelope and not some fierce predator!) Female herds are non-territorial and move freely though males’ territories. When a female herd arrives, the males do their utmost to keep them in the area while attempting to mate at the same time. This is tiring work and the dominant male loses condition quickly. This is when other males might try to oust the territory holder – an ousted male will join a bachelor group consisting of non-breeding males. After the rut, the territorial urge diminishes and the males rejoin their bachelor groups, where more eyes and ears offer better protection against predators. The females give birth from November, after a sevenmonth gestation period. It’s a common misconception that females can hold their unborn young inside until conditions are suitable. No animal has control over the growth rate of a foetus. Towards the end of November and December, the bush comes alive as lambs are born within weeks of one another. This creates a feast for predators, but the market is flooded to such an extent that enough lambs are able to reach sub-adulthood and avoid becoming prey. Predators like jackals and lions feast on impala. As a result, the antelope have well-developed escape measures in place. Individuals warn the herd when a threat is nearby. Should something spook the herd, the various animals will scatter in different directions to confuse the predators. It is believed that a gland on the impala’s hind leg (it looks like a black spot) releases a scent that helps the herd regroup after an attack. So next time you pass yet another herd of impala – sometimes called the McDonalds of the Bush – take a moment to marvel at all the features that make them so successful. – Albie Venter

Super moon in the bull’s horns


n 4 December, the day after full moon, the moon will reach “perigee” – the point on its orbit closest to earth. The closer the moon, the bigger it seems. The full moon in December will be the “biggest” of the year. But there’s more. On 3 December, look for a bright, red star close to the moon. This star is called Aldebaran and it’s the eye of Taurus the bull. (The constellation is an upside down V – the bull’s “horns” point downward because we’re in the southern hemisphere.) Many people call the perigee moon a “super moon” and warn that it might cause natural disasters. Fake news. Remember, the moon comes this close to the earth every month without doing any damage, the only difference is that it’s not always full. The moon’s orbit is elliptical and the distance from earth varies from about 357 000 kilometres to 406 000 kilometres – about a 14 % difference in apparent size. Take a photo of the super moon in December and repeat the exercise for the mini moon on 26 August 2018. Use identical camera settings and compare the photos to see the difference in size. The full moon looks even bigger when it rises and sets because of the so-called “moon illusion” – an optical illusion that causes the moon (or sun) to apparently increase in size near the horizon. The reason for the illusion is not fully understood. – Willie Koorts









These are the high tide times for Cape Town. For other places, add or subtract minutes: Saldanha: +5; Hermanus: -4; Port Elizabeth: +19; Durban: +26 Tide information reproduced with permission from the Hydrographer, SA Navy. The Hydrographer is not responsible for any transcription errors.

SUNRISE & SUNSET: 16 DECEMBER Cape Town: 5.30 am and 7.56 pm

Bloemfontein: 5.11 am and 7.13 pm Johannesburg: 5.11 am and 6.59 pm Durban: 4.50 am and 6.56 pm Source:

26 December 2017



Watch out for malaria in the Kruger Park


ake sure to take precautions against malaria if you plan to visit the Kruger Park between December and April. Doctor Nardus Visser from the Skukuza medical centre says there have been more reported cases of malaria in 2017 than there were in 2016. This is probably due to good summer rains following last year’s drought. SANParks recommends that all visitors get prophylactics as prescribed by their doctor, and that they cover their skin at night. If you are unfortunate enough to get malaria after a visit to the Kruger, please inform the doctors in Skukuza so they can identify risk areas.


• • •

Malaria is only transmitted by female anopheles mosquitoes. The early symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle pain, tiredness, jaundice, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. You might only experience symptoms as long as 12 – 35 days after you’ve been infected.


• •

• • •

Wear trousers and a long-sleeved shirt at night – and socks with your sandals. To stay cool, wear clothes made from light, breathable fabric like cotton or linen. Use insect repellent on the parts of your body that are still exposed, like your hands, neck and face. Repellent made using natural ingredients like citronella or lemongrass is often seen as a healthy or safe alternative to products that contain chemicals, but it’s not as effective. If you’re in a high-risk area, use a repellent that contains DEET (diethyltoluamide) like Tabard or Peaceful Sleep. As you would with sunscreen, reapply it often. The safest option in a high-risk area is to sleep under a mosquito net. Use Vital Protection spray to treat fabrics like clothes, curtains and bedding. (You can buy it at stores like Light a mosquito coil or citronella candle. It will keep insects at bay and it’s safe for humans. – Marcelle van Niekerk



Good reads for Christmas A book always makes a nice gift. Erns Grundling recommends some stocking fillers.

On Your Bike by Chris and Tim Whitfield, Tafelberg Mountain biking is apparently “the new golf”– it’s one of the most popular and fast-growing outdoor activities for young and old. But where do you start? Chris and Tim Whitfield, both seasoned journalists and mountain-bike enthusiasts, answer all your questions in this new guidebook. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie looking to escape over weekends or if you have ambitions of riding the Cape Epic or becoming the next Greg Minnaar… This book will take care of all your mountain-biking needs. The design is fresh and contemporary and the text gives a brief history of the sport before moving on to advice for beginners with a comprehensive guide to routes (with maps) in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. For serious mountain bikers, a special focus on popular stage races like the Cape Epic is also included. On Your Bike is inspiration for anyone who wants to do more riding in 2018. R239 at

28 December 2017

Geological Wonders of Namibia

Diving in Mozambique

On Route in South Africa

by Anne-Marie and Michel Detay, Struik Travel & Heritage

by Robynn and Ross Hofmeyr, Struik Travel & Heritage

by BPJ Erasmus, Jonathan Ball

This book, written by divers for divers, is the first guide to diving in Mozambique that specifically focuses on the best dive centres and resorts in each of the four coastal provinces. In the Author’s Preface they explain that the book aims to resolve “hit-and-miss Internet searches” by following a more objective approach, providing comprehensive information and addressing typical questions that divers consider while planning their next adventure. How big are the dive groups? What boats does the resort use? Which are the best months for seeing a particular marine animal? These questions and many more are answered, along with personal experiences from Robynn’s dive logs and travelogues. This book also highlights and celebrates the diverse diving on offer along Mozambique’s extensive coastline. Whether you want to swim with manta rays or a whale shark, explore beautiful coral reefs or test your bravery in the company of sharks, this guide won’t disappoint. R199 at

This iconic travel planner was first published in 1995 and has sold as many as 100 000 copies. (You might even still have one squashed into the cubby hole of your Kombi.) The author BPJ Erasmus passed away in 2012 and since then his legacy work has been revised and updated. It might be more than two decades old, but it’s still the most comprehensive guide to South Africa’s cities, towns and villages. The updated version has more than 500 photographs and reworked regional maps. On Route focuses on history (factual and anecdotal) and other interesting information in 37 chapters, starting in Cape Town and moving on to other logically ordered geographical regions. Whether you’re heading to Pofadder or Port Elizabeth, Tzaneen or Taun, Hermanus or Hotazel, On Route will be your companion of choice for the whole family these December holidays. R295 at

“The Earth teaches us more about ourselves than all the books in the world.” This quote on the opening page sums up Geological Wonders of Namibia nicely – a visual celebration of our neighbouring country’s geology. What makes this book especially interesting is the chronological arrangement of the chapters. The journey through time kicks off around 13,8 billion years ago, with the Big Bang. From there you travel through Namibia’s geological history up to the 20th century, while learning more about meteorites (like the world-famous Hoba meteorite near Grootfontein), the Fish River Canyon, fossils, volcanoes and of course the origin of the Namib Desert. This is an accessible book written by an adventurous French couple with incredible photography that will enrich anyone with an interest in our planet’s origins. It’s just the right gift for a BSc student or an uncle or aunt hungry for knowledge. R179 at


What we’ll be reading From modern classics to non-fiction and travel, the editorial team will be delving into some interesting titles this summer. MARCELLE VAN NIEKERK Down Under by Bill Bryson “I always laugh out loud at Bryson’s writing and I often get funny looks from people. His books are filled with interesting information and this one about Australia is one of my favourites.” ERNS GRUNDLING The New Yorker “I’ve been a subscriber to The New Yorker for years – it publishes some of the best journalism in the business. I don’t always get around to reading my copies when they arrive, so I’ve banked them for my holiday.” ESMA MARNEWICK Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier “I’ll read about Frazier’s travels by train and delivery van in the icy Siberian Desert while hiding from the sun on the stoep of a beach house. At least my thoughts will stay cool!” The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams “Most of us spend the last few weeks of December thinking about the year ahead. We could all do with a few tips on how to be happier in 2018!” SOPHIA VAN TAAK The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman “This is the kind of book to read when you have lots of time to really sink your teeth into the subject matter. I love books that remind me that us humans are not so important in the greater scheme of things. The world is a much richer place thanks to all its other inhabitants.” PIERRE STEYN Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness by Richard Steyn “Smuts is a giant in South African history – lawyer, military leader, statesman, botanist and philosopher

– who made his influence felt on the world stage in the first half of the 20th century. But he was a complex character. He was revered overseas and reviled at home. Why?” SUZAAN HALL The Alice Network by Kate Quinn “I love historical fiction and this spy tale from World War II will keep me busy for a long time.” MARTINETTE LOUW Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver “In this novel, a monarch butterfly migration veers off course, arriving in the Appalachians in autumn, and sets in motion a series of events that leaves a young mother grappling with her place in her community and how climate change and human interference are impacting the environment. Kingsolver has a master’s degree in ecology and I always enjoy her vivid descriptions and observations about the natural world.” MARIJCKE DODDS In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde “A group of thrill seekers and nature lovers embark on a guided rafting trip down the Colorado River. Along the way, the strangers have to tackle the rapids as well as their own churning emotions. The book has all the elements for a gripping holiday read: drama, adventure, conflict and beautiful scenery.” JON MINSTER Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan “Finnegan is a distinguished journalist who has worked for The New Yorker for decades. This is his memoir – a Pulitzer Prize-winning tale about his lifelong infatuation with riding waves, which began when he was a teenager in Hawaii. I’m not a surfer but Finnegan’s addiction is contagious. I think it’s time for some lessons at Muizenberg…”  




The Kruger Park’s Big 6 Everyone knows about the Big 5, but have you heard about this list of six special birds found in the park? How many have you seen?

Kori bustard Martial eagle Lappet-faced vulture Pel’s fishing-owl TOAST COETZER

Saddle-billed stork Southern ground hornbill Source:


GET 10% OFF! EXCLUSIVE TO CARDHOLDERS Enter your MySchool card number when you buy your ticket online.


Don’t have a card? Go to





S Single ticket: R130 S Family of 4 package: R460 For more information about school packages, email or call 065-880-7257.


Shepherd tree near Stockpoort, Limpopo


You’ve just returned to South Africa after a wonderful holiday in Botswana and the immigration official’s ink is still drying on your passport. Stockpoort is one of those small border posts in Limpopo where you can usually cross without too much hassle. It’s a rare thing to enjoy your time at a border post, but Stockpoort is actually a nice spot. Why race back to busy Gauteng? Take it slow and see if you can spot this tall-as-a-house shepherd tree on your left as you follow the tar road towards Lephalale. It has a picnic table – score! Pull over on the road verge and drink lukewarm coffee from the flask you filled earlier at Woodlands Stop Over near Francistown. Peek under the front seat of your vehicle to see if there might be one last Romany Cream in the box. Savour the surrounding bushveld one last time and then be on your way. Opening times: From the day’s first francolin call until its last. Where? About 18 km east of Stockpoort next to the R510. GPS: S23.39478 E27.48051 – Toast Coetzer


BEST FRIENDS. Lucky and his patrol dog, Ngwenya.


Lucky Ndlovu This field ranger sergeant recently received a Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa for his work to combat rhino poaching. Prince William is the royal patron of the awards ceremony, which was held in Africa for the first time this year. Lucky and his team arrested a senior official involved in poaching. Where does your love for the outdoors come from? I was born in South Africa, but I spent my early years in Mozambique near a village called Mapulanguene. I grew up herding my family’s cattle in the bush. I had my own dogs, which I used for protection, herding and hunting. We lived off the land, hunting and farming. I was about 10 when I moved to the Kruger Park, where my grandfather and my father were field rangers. The rules were not so strict in those days and I used to accompany my father to see what he was doing on the job. I became a ranger because I wanted to protect the place that my father and grandfather called home. The wild animals have always supported my family and I wanted to protect them so that my children could also work in the Kruger Park one day. How long have you been working in the Kruger? I started working in 1992 as a security officer. After a year, I applied for field ranger selection and passed. I was trained and appointed as a field ranger in the Punda Maria section, where I worked until 1997. After that I was transferred

32 December 2017

to Kingfisherspruit, where I have been stationed ever since. I was promoted to field ranger corporal in 2002 and to field ranger sergeant in 2016.

The experience of attending the ceremony was also fantastic. It was my first time travelling on an aeroplane and the first time I had been to Cape Town.

Best part of your job? I love working with my K9 dog, Ngwenya. I grew up with dogs and I have always enjoyed working with them. Ngwenya is trained to track and locate illegal substances and firearms. I started working with her in 2009 and she goes everywhere on patrol with me. She has saved me by warning me about dangerous animals on many occasions.

Why is conservation important to you? Conservation takes care of wildlife and gives wildlife value. It provides jobs for people in rural areas. It also ensures that the animals will be around for future generations.

Hardest part? Conflict situations and when colleagues don’t do their jobs properly – reprimanding them is not something I enjoy doing. I also don’t like seeing colleagues being corrupted by the poachers. How did it feel to win the Tusk Award? I am very grateful to be acknowledged. The award has given me renewed energy to do my job – I feel like a new ranger! No matter how hard the job gets, I will remain dedicated to the cause.

What makes someone a good field ranger? You have to be self-motivated and you need a heart for the job. You also need to be patient and determined because there are many hardships in the job. How can ordinary South Africans help with the fight against rhino poaching? Raising awareness about rhino poaching is important because people don’t always understand the value of wildlife and what it contributes to their lives. If people are educated from a young age, they will support the cause. We need the support of the whole country to win this battle. – Suzaan Hall

The worker. The works. The Next Generation Mahindra Pik Up has been designed and built in India to withstand the harsh conditions of the subcontinent. It delivers power, strength and tenacity, along with reliability that you can depend on with a maximum payload of up to 1200 kg* and a braked towing capacity of 2500 kg. Whilst the more utilitarian single-cab will prove itself as the dependable worker you’ve always wanted, you’ll probably want to keep the high-spec double-cab to

yourself to load up the family on the weekend and head for the hills, or simply to run your errands around town. Mahindra’s legendary 2.2l mHawk turbo-diesel engine provides an impressive 103 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque to ensure it will get your job easily done. And with the new six-speed manual gearbox it’s more fuel efficient and kinder on the environment too. Available in 4X4 or 4X2 to provide great performance whatever the terrain.

The Next Generation Mahindra Pik Up, from

R 187 995

for the single cab - double-cab from R 324 995 And comes with a full 4-Year/120 000 km warranty including Roadside Assistance. Service plan 5-Year/90 000 km** (1st service at 10 000 km and at 20000 km intervals thereafter with Maximile Oils)

BI MAHI1710-11-02-E

Visit us at or call 012 661 3161 *Single cab payload, 2WD 1195 kg / 4WD 1095 kg. Double cab payload, 2WD 1095 kg / 4WD 995 kg. **Optional on S4 4X2 Single-cab Please note: The images shown may differ slightly from actual product available. For full specifications please refer to our website or visit your dealer.

Cars of our lives

Cars are getting safer and more advanced, but have road trips become more boring as a result? Jon Minster remembers some of the cars he’s owned over the years, and the holiday adventures tied up in those memories. ILLUSTRATION NICOLENE LOUW


y wife Jess and I recently bought a low-mileage, second-hand Subaru Outback at a strangely low price. We needed more space for the children and their paraphernalia and we wanted something safe and powerful for the open road. We got all of that and more. The Outback has all-wheel-drive and sticks to the road like a lion on an impala. It has cruise control and a punchy engine that allows you to sail past everyone else when the highway opens up to two lanes. It has more safety features than a kids’ playground in Sydney and it even

34 December 2017

has heated seats. Do you know how nice a heated seat is when it’s 5° C outside? All of this is great, don’t get me wrong, but it does take some of the drama out of a road trip. More expensive cars than the Outback already have adaptive cruise control, hybrid engines, lane-departure warning systems, blind-spot cameras, pre-impact braking and a host of other features. Soon you’ll be able to unplug your SUV, climb in, tilt the seat and have a nap on the way to Plett. Where’s the fun in that? My first car was my mom’s old Golf and I got my driving licence exactly two

days before I set off with friends on matric holiday. (Disclaimer: The cars might be safer but there’s no way I’d let my own son drive from Joburg to Ballito two days after he got his licence. Or even worse, let him be a passenger in a car with some punk teenager in his mom’s old Golf!) But anyway, back to that Golf. Being a Volkswagen, it was reliable if a little underpowered. The first thing I did was cut two holes in the parcel shelf for a pair of Pioneer 6x9 speakers – all the better to pump Prodigy on the N3 and further distract the wildly inexperienced driver.


For some reason, we decided it would also be fun to turn the heater on full blast when we got to Pietermaritzburg and see who would be first to give in to the unholy heat. It was like an episode of Survivor. We sat there sweating into the seats, faces like boiled beetroots, none of us willing to admit defeat. In Ballito, we deluged out of the poor Golf into the summer sun and drank a beer to celebrate our achievement. How we didn’t perish from stupidity on that holiday, I have no idea. The Golf came with me to university in Cape Town. By that stage I had acquired a huge sticker for the back window that read, “Feed the Rat”. Why? Because I was 18. My 6x9s got stolen in Observatory – along with everyone else’s 6x9s – and the bodywork slowly began to rust, no longer protected by the Highveld’s carfriendly climate. I saw Route 62 for the first time, my rat sticker flapping a bit as I bulleted through the Little Karoo like a character in a Tarantino film. I accidentally drove half of Prince Alfred’s Pass in the dark; I learnt how to coast hills in neutral to save petrol and I spent an uncomfortable night in a parking lot in Velddrif after we’d tried to camp illegally in a field and had been chased off by a farmer. Eventually, road trips in the Golf became a lottery. “Feed the Rat” had long since fallen off; the car began feasting on batteries and it overheated more than a few times – once, memorably, in the right lane during rush hour. By then I’d finished studying, got married and found a job. Yes, the moment had come to indulge in that most adult of pastimes: acquiring debt! My wife sold her Mazda Soho, I sold the Golf and we lost our hearts to the most impractical car ever made. It was a white Suzuki Jimny and they had just been launched in South Africa. The salesman must have loved us. I can’t even remember taking one for a test drive. We just wanted to sign paperwork. Here’s the thing about a Jimny: It’s incredibly capable off-road, but to get to any decent patch of rock and sand, you have to drive at least 350 km on tar. And

The Jimny might have made my life a misery but at least it had character, like a badly behaved chihuahua.

a Jimny is diabolical on tar. “It’s like an enamel plate bouncing around the back of a bakkie,” said my colleague Albertus van Wyk, then editor of WegRy and Drive Out, describing the ride experience in a Jimny at 120 km/h. That’s if you can get to 120 km/h. Throw in a crosswind and the car felt less like a plate rattling around a bakkie’s load bay and more like a sailboat being tossed around on an angry sea. The steering wheel would be pointing way off-centre, my teeth would be clenched, my foot flat, and I’d blink my eyes repeatedly to escape visions of rolling into oncoming traffic. Then there was the fuel tank. It was the size of a Camelbak and we seldom got anywhere near rocks and sand before we had to fill up. I was so paranoid about the car’s limited range that I sacrificed camping gear for a second jerrycan of fuel on an extended winter road trip through Namibia. Out went the big, warm tent and in went a hiking tent on loan to this magazine for review. At Sesriem, in a clawing wind, I realised my mistake as I rolled the tent out on the frozen ground. It was highly ventilated, designed for “three-season” camping. Thank goodness it was tiny, otherwise Jess and I would definitely have got hypothermia. The final straw was a painful weekend away after our first son was born. For those who don’t know, a car seat for

a baby goes on the back seat and faces backwards. A Jimny has no rear doors, so the only way to get him in and out of his seat was through the boot door. Now load that micro 4x4 with everything required to feed, clothe and wash an infant for two days, plus a pram and a mountain bike. Then set baby to cry mode and stop every half hour to take him out and rock him – and to refuel and recover from crosswind syndrome. Unpack the car to remove baby, and start crying yourself as you attempt to repack, not knowing how on earth you managed to fit everything in the first time around. The Jimny had to go. Despite what you’ve just read, I actually loved that car. The Jimny might have made my life a misery but at least it had character, like a badly behaved chihuahua. Which brings me to the Outback, with its heated seats and cruise control. Kilometres fly past under its wheels. Blissfully. Effortlessly. Road trips have become much less stressful and – to be fair – a little less exciting. However, there is one thing about the car that sets it apart from a truly dull Audi or BMW. We bought the diesel model, which has been discontinued in South Africa because the fuel here is apparently not clean enough for that specific Subaru engine. If you only use the car to inch along in traffic to school and work and back, the particulate filter clogs up. Bingo! That’s the reason for the low sale price… Luckily, there’s a way to activate the filter’s self-cleaning function: Drive fast on a highway for an extended period of time. In other words: Go on holiday. Yes, we unexpectedly bought a car that requires constant holidays to function optimally – much like the humans inside. The engine quirk is the perfect excuse to escape the city for a weekend. The “getting there” part might have become boring, but when the braai fire is flickering and the moon is rising over distant mountains, I look at the Subaru parked nearby under a tree and it seems to be smiling. I am, too.

December 2017 35





Cape Town has more than enough activities for young and old, but sometimes it’s good to get in your car, wind down the windows and leave the city for the day. Here are five day trips to do this summer.




Tinie Versveld Reserve


Riebeek-Kasteel Wolseley

N7 R315





R45 R302

Koeberg Nature Reserve



to Worcester





Kuils River R300


Hout Bay Kommetjie

Muizenberg Fish Hoek Simon’s Town

Motor Museum

Western Cape

Somerset West

Strand Gordon’s Bay Rooiels

Atlantic Ocean


R45 Stellenbosch Franschhoek R44





Grabouw to Swellendam

Kogelberg Nature Reserve

Bot River

Clarence Drive

Pringle Bay Harold Porter Botanical Garden

Betty’s Bay

Kleinmond 20 km

KOEBERG NATURE RESERVE Open every day from sunrise to sunset. Cost: Entrance is free, but you have to show your ID. Contact: 021 550 4668


Put your toes in the sand or dip them in the icy Atlantic, eat fresh seafood and stare out over the sea while you sip a craft beer. And don’t forget to take a photo of Table Mountain in the distance.





MORNING The quickest way to get to Melkbos is via the West Coast Road (R27) or the N7, but the most scenic way to get there is along the coast via the M14 (Otto du Plessis Drive), past places like Bloubergstrand, Big Bay, Eerste Steen, Tweede Steen and Kreeftebaai. When you get to Melkbos, turn left into 6th Avenue (the main road where most shops are) and drive to Beach Road. Park at the big parking area at NSRI Station 18. Beach Road is packed with restaurants, but The Hart Breadhouse & Eatery ( 021 553 1073) opposite Station 18 serves an excellent cup of coffee and breakfast from 8 am to noon. Sit outside on the deck with a Cortado coffee (R24), or order a Croque Madam (R70) and sit inside if the morning mist hasn’t burnt off yet. Next, walk off your breakfast and make room for lunch by following the path from 1st Avenue and along the beach to the mouth of the Salt River (2 km). Watch the surfers and kitesurfers playing in the waves.


On the way back, explore the town and its shops. Blessings ( 073 166 5996) in 11th Avenue is owned by Welma Esterhuyse from a nearby olive farm called De Fayebosch. Don’t leave without some olive and chocolate salami (R25 for 80 g) or a jar of lavender salt (R20 for 125 ml).

AFTERNOON Few things trigger hunger pangs faster than sea air and exercise. Die Damhuis is situated in the oldest building on the original farm of Melkbosch, which dates from around 1785. The whitewashed walls were built using cow dung, whale bones, hay and sand. The menu has wonderful dishes like Saldanha mussels in white wine (R113), pickled fish (R128) and oxtail (R128). Walk back to your car and drive down Beach Road to the bottom of 11th Avenue where you’ll see a purple building called Tube Wave ( 082 568 8945), serving the best soft serve ice cream (R14) in town. Go on, shell out that extra R6 for a Flake!





LATE AFTERNOON overtake him if he’s walking in the road. It’s getting late, so drive back to Melkbos and find a seat at Castella Amare Restaurant ( 021 553 3827) at the bottom of 5th Avenue and order a sundowner. If you want something more casual, drive back to Beach Road and look for I Melkies ( 021 553 0472). Order an ice-cold CBC Krystal Weiss beer (R45) and say cheers to the end of another tough day in Africa. – Pierre Steyn



If you still have energy to hike or ride a bike, or if you want to drive through fynbos fields while eating your ice cream, find your way to the Koeberg Nature Reserve. (Go north along Beach Road, turn left into Otto du Plessis Drive and continue to the gate.) The 30 km² reserve surrounds the Koeberg power station and it’s interesting to see springbok and eland grazing with the station’s water towers in the distance. The reserve is also home to caracals, snakes and a grumpy zebra that doesn’t like to let cyclists


Open weekdays from 9 am to 9 pm; until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Closed on Mondays. Contact: 021 553 0093;


WELMA ESTERHUYSE December 2017 39




MORNING Pack a coffee flask and some rusks and drive through Gordon’s Bay to the start of Clarence Drive (R44), with False Bay on one side and the slopes of the Kogelberg on the other. Pull over at any of the viewpoints. On a clear day you can see the Cape Peninsula rising from across the bay like a great grey dragon. Dolphins sometimes play in the waves and from June to November, southern right whales come to visit. After the village of Rooiels, the road heads inland until you reach Betty’s Bay. As you approach, follow the signs to Stony Point Nature Reserve, which is home to one of South Africa’s last remaining colonies of African penguins. The permit office is not in the building next to the parking area – that’s where you’ll find the toilets. Get your permit at the hut further along the boardwalk. The penguins are entertaining to watch: so clumsy on the rocks

and so adept in the water. Stony Point is exposed and it can get very windy: Hold onto your hat and go to the end of the walkway and back, then find shelter inside On the Edge Restaurant ( 060 720 7885) where you can order a hot chocolate (R25) or a milkshake (R25). The restaurant gets busy over weekends so be patient. Turn right into Disa Street as you leave Stony Point and go back to the main road. Turn right and continue through Betty’s Bay until you see the sign for the turn-off to the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. There are several day hikes in the reserve, from the strenuous Kogelberg Trail (24 km) to the easier Oudebosch to Harold Porter Trail (6 km). We can recommend the Palmiet River Trail (10 km), which mostly follows the course of the river. There are many places where you can sit down on the warm rocks and see how many dragonflies you can spot. Even toddlers will manage a short section.

HAROLD PORTER NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDEN Only a limited number of hikers are allowed onto the 3 km Luiperds Kloof Trail per day, and only from 8 am to 1 pm. If you want to do the trail, come early and get a key for the gate (R50 deposit) at the reception office. The trail slowly climbs through an indigenous forest and crosses the river a few times until you reach the base of a wonderful waterfall. If you want to go to the top of the waterfall, do the Zigzag Trail (8 km) up the slopes of Bobbejaanskop. Cost: R25 per adult; free with a SANBI membership and for children under 6. Opening times: Daily from 8 am to 4.30 pm; until 5 pm on weekends and public holidays. Contact: 028 272 9311; 40 December 2017



Clarence Drive between Gordon’s Bay and Rooiels is the kind of road that you should drive in a Cadillac with a spotted scarf around your neck. Or just bundle the kids into the Kombi – it’s just as good!




AFTERNOON What’s the first thing you want at the seaside? Fish and chips! You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants at the small harbour in Kleinmond, but if you want to buy where the locals buy, head to Ocean Fisheries & Take-aways ( 028 271 4643), tucked away in a side street. From the main road, turn left into 9th Street, left into 9th Avenue, right into 11th Street and left into Kalkoentjie Avenue. They also serve calamari and burgers. If you have kids, eat your take­ aways at one of the tables next to the Kleinmond lagoon. There’s also a playground here. Or sit on a bench along the coastal walkway that

goes from the main beach to Palmiet Beach. What’s the second thing you want at the seaside? Ice cream! Drive to Sunset Ice Cream Parlour ( 082 333 6700) in the Kleinmond harbour, which serves everything from King Cones to Italian gelato and soft serve (R15). They also serve pancakes (R6), waffles (R30), milkshakes (R25) and coffee (R15). Sit outside and watch the waves splash over the rocks.

LATE AFTERNOON Once you’ve wiped everyone’s sticky hands and faces, turn back towards Betty’s Bay and pop into the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden. Your energy levels will determine how you spend the rest of your

WHERE CAN I SWIM? The best beaches for a dip are Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay, the main beach at Pringle Bay and the main beach at Betty’s Bay. Toddlers can safely swim in the lagoons at Pringle Bay, Palmiet Beach and the main beach in Kleinmond. The beach at Kogel Bay off Clarence Drive is surely one of the most scenic in the world, but the rip currents can be deadly.

KOGELBERG NATURE RESERVE Open every day from 7.30 am to 7 pm (no permits sold after 4 pm). Conservation fee: R40 per adult; R20 per child. Contact: 087 288 0499;

afternoon. Spread your picnic blanket on the lawn next to the Dawidskraal River for an afternoon nap, or stroll through the fynbos gardens to the Disa Kloof waterfall (about a half­hour walk). See the sidebar if you want to do a proper hike. Try to get back to Clarence Drive around sunset for scenes that will burn up the remaining space on your memory card. The Strand promenade is currently being renovated and sections of it look like Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. If you want to end the day with a sundowner, sit on the deck at Casa del Sol ( 021 853 6867; casa­del­sol. and raise a glass to the good life! – Esma Marnewick



STONY POINT NATURE RESERVE Open every day from 8 am to 4.30 pm. Permit fee: R20 per adult; R10 per child. Contact: 028 272 9829;


DARLING Swap the hustle and bustle of the city for a day of fresh air and wildflowers. Darling is about an hour’s drive from Cape Town and there is lots to do – and taste!


EVITA SE PERRON If you’re here on a weekend, book a spot for one of PieterDirk Uys’s laugh-until-you-cry performances. See the website for the programme. Opening times: Monday from 9 am to 1 pm; Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. Contact: 022 492 3930;



42 December 2017

R115/kg and the Skattie (somewhere between gouda and cheddar) is a little pricier at R350/kg. Wine lovers should visit The Darling Wine Shop ( 022 492 3971; next door for wines from local estates like Cloof, Darling Cellars and Earthbound. You can taste wine from R50 per person (booking essential).

AFTERNOON Next on the itinerary is Evita se Perron ( 022 492 2851; evita. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, you can’t say you’ve been to Darling if you haven’t been here. More than two decades ago, satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys turned the old railway station in Arcadia Street into a restaurant and theatre that celebrates South Africa’s tumultuous history by making us laugh at ourselves. Buy one of Evita Bezuidenhout’s cookery books (R190), explore the Boerassic Park art garden and sit down for lunch in the restaurant, which serves traditional dishes like Reconciliation bobotie (R75) and Pik se Boerewors Roll (R45). Once you’ve lined your stomach, head to the tasting room at Darling Brew in Caledon Street ( 021 286 1099; This microbrewery produces a range of craft beers, from their Slow Beer lager to the Rogue Pony pale ale. A 100 ml tasting glass costs R10. Order a cheese and meat platter for two (R195); there are also light meals on the menu if you didn’t have lunch at Evita se Perron. There’s even a jungle gym to keep the kids busy. (The tasting room is closed on Mondays.)


MORNING If you didn’t have breakfast at home, stop in Darling at The Marmalade Cat coffee shop in the main road ( 022 492 2515; marmaladecat. for a cappuccino (R25) and scones with cream and jam (R30). Afterwards, browse the gift shop and the Cat Walk clothing store next door. The coffee shop is open every day from 8 am. Now you can go where your interests lead you: History buffs can visit the Darling Museum ( 022 492 3361; in Pastorie Street to learn more about the town, which was established in 1853. Go see the exhibition about how the people of Darling used to make butter – the wooden butter churns and old milk cans will make you miss your grandmother’s farm kitchen. The entrance fee is R10 per adult and R5 per child. The museum is also the tourism office. If you’re after something sweet, the Darling Sweet toffee shop ( 083 235 4002; darlingsweet. in Lang Street is right around the corner. Buy handmade toffees, toffee spreads, honey and fleur de sel for your pantry. There are 11 different toffee flavours, from redwine-and-chocolate to orange-andpomegranate (R53 for 150 g). You can also give your kids’ school sarmies a new twist with a jar of toffee spread, with flavours like salted honey (R59 for 200 g). Do you have a soft spot for good cheese? The Udderly Delicious cheese shop ( 082 829 8111) is at the top of the main road. Cheese maker Carla Bryan makes her products using milk from a local dairy – the pepper caciotta costs


FOR YOUR CALENDAR • The Groote Post wine estate, about 18 km outside Darling on the R307, hosts a farmer’s market on the last Sunday of every month, from 10 am to 3 pm (no market in winter). Pull in for good food, good wine and handmade products.

In spring, the landscape around Darling comes to life with wildflowers. There are several small reserves in and around town, like Tinie Versfeld, Waylands and Contreberg. If you’re travelling back to Cape Town via the R315, the choice is made for you: The Tinie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve is about 13 km outside town and the stile gate is right next to the road. The 20 ha reserve is always open and it’s free to enter. It’s a nice place to stretch your legs, even when the sundews and parasols aren’t in bloom. Pathways lead through grass fields and seasonal wetlands. A flower called the yellow wine cup is endemic to the reserve and you might see a blue crane hop the fence in search of a grasshopper or lizard to eat. With lungs full of fresh air, you can now return to the city. Take an extra deep breath for the road! – Martinette Louw


• The Darling Wildflower Show will take place from 14 – 16 September next year. Come see the region’s wildflowers and buy plants for your garden. darlingwildflowers.





December 2017 43







Donate your used tea bags. Visit to find out how to preserve and post your used tea bags. Contact: The main shop is closed on a Saturday, but there’s an outlet at the Bay Harbour Market and the V&A Waterfront. 021 790 0887;



Opening times: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The Monkey Jungle is open from 11.30 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 3.30 pm. Cost: R95 per adult; R60 for students and pensioners; R45 per child. Contact: 021 790 2730;

Pull over at Valley Farm Stall ( 021 790 3803; in Valley Road. The garden is a peaceful spot where you can have a quick coffee while the kids play on the jungle gym. The tea garden serves light meals and has a kiddies’ menu. The kids will love meeting the ponies, donkeys, dwarf goats and pigs in the farmyard. There’s also an indigenous nursery and animal feed store on the same premises. Don’t get too relaxed, though, because World of Birds is just down the road… You’ll need a few hours to do justice to the World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park. The circular paths are built around spacious aviaries home to hundreds of birds, from camouflaged indigenous ones to jewel-coloured exotic birds. The garden is one of only a few bird parks of such magnitude in the world. The park is in need of some TLC, but your kids won’t mind and you’ll have an insider’s view as the feathered residents chatter, build nests and feed chicks. Visit the website to find out when the different birds are fed ( Then there’s the Monkey Jungle… Make friends with a mischievous squirrel monkey and marvel at the


ACROBRANCH 44 December 2017

wizened old faces of the tiny tamarins and marmosets. The park also has other mammals like mongooses, meerkats and squirrels, as well as some reptiles. (Due to the outbreak of bird flu the park is currently under quarantine. It is still open to visitors, but give it a miss if you own or work with birds. – Ed.) Once you’ve seen all the birds, it’s time to find out about all the creative ways you can use a tea bag. In 2000, Jill Heyes came up with the idea to turn used tea bags into greeting cards made by women from Imizamo Yethu – Hout Bay’s township on the hill – thus recycling waste and creating jobs at the same time. Three years later, “the Tea Bag Lady” launched Original T Bag Designs, which now employs 18 full-time staff members. They empty, iron and decorate thousands of tea bags a week. Each artist applies his or her own design to the sachet before it’s made into all kinds of products. Visit the shop and studio at 144 Main Road for great stocking fillers or birthday presents like notebooks (from R65), gift tags (R10), angels (R90) or coasters (from R60). If you’d like to know more about the production process, do a free 20-minute guided tour. Afterwards, chat to knowledgeable shop supervisor Nomsa Ndabambi (pictured left) over a cup of tea.


Acrobranch is a great alternative for the adventurous family. Drive northeast along Main Road (M63) to the parking area at the top of Constantia Nek (at the circle). Test your agility on one of three aerial obstacle courses: Acrotwigs for children aged 3 – 6; Monkey Moves for anyone older than 7 and Swinging Tarzan for anyone older than 10. Navigate your way over cargo nets, along zip lines and through barrels. Cost: Acrotwigs R110 per person; Monkey Moves R160; Swinging Tarzan R220. Contact: 086 999 0369; What else? If all that swinging has made you hungry, grab a table at Harbour House ( or La Parada (, both housed in Cape Town’s oldest restaurant building at Constantia Nek.


Approaching from Cape Town, Hout Bay is the gateway to famous attractions like Chapman’s Peak Drive and Cape Point further south. But this colourful harbour village holds plenty of attractions of its own…




Don’t like fish? If you’re here on a weekend, the vibey Bay Harbour Market is a feast for the senses ( At the myriad stalls, you can buy anything from chilled tomato soup and craft beer to decadent cheesecake. Open on Friday from 5 pm to 9 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 9.30 am to 4 pm.

AFTERNOON Fish and chips is a Hout Bay tradition and the harbour has a number of places all claiming to serve the best. Stroll around, watch the buskers or marvel at the fat seals before you pick a spot. The Wharfette Bistro ( 021 790 1100; at Mariner’s Wharf is popular and gets very busy. The more upmarket Wharfside Grill is part of the same establishment ( 021 790 1100): Sit inside on a cold day or try for a table on the deck overlooking the water. Or drive to the end of Harbour Road to Snoekies ( 021 790 6677; or Fish on the Rocks ( 021 790 0001;, where you can eat your parcel with a view of Chapman’s Peak Drive clinging to the mountain across the bay.

LATE AFTERNOON Kick off your shoes and go for a walk on the beach before your boat cruise. Several charter boats (some with glass bottoms) depart from the harbour to Duiker Island. You might encounter dolphins or whales (July to November) along the way. At Duiker Island you’ll see hundreds of Cape fur seals basking in the sun. End your day on a high by coasting up the spectacular, 9 km


Chapman’s Peak Drive. Shortly after you’ve passed the Chapman’s Peak Hotel, there’s a layby on your right. Pull over and snap a picture of the bronze leopard statue on the rocks below you, which was sculpted by Ivan Mitford-Barberton as a memorial to all the wild animals that once called this part of the Peninsula home. Coming from the Hout Bay side along Chappies, there’s a parking area on your right a few hundred metres before the toll booth. Stop here and do the short walk up to the remains of East Fort, built in the 1780s. From the ruin, you have a nice view of the bay and the mountain. This winding mountain road offers vertical rock faces, sheer drops to the blue sea and views that will fill your camera’s memory card. Stop at one of the picnic spots and toast the sunset. – Marijcke Dodds

Cost: R45 for a light vehicle to go through to Noordhoek; a day pass is free and gives you access to viewpoints and picnic sites on the Hout Bay side, but you have to turn around 2,7 km beyond the toll booth. Contact: chapmanspeakdrive. What else? Chappies may be closed during periods of strong wind or heavy rainfall.

BOAT CRUISES Cost: R85 per adult; R45 per child; the cruise lasts about 45 minutes. Contact: Drumbeat Charters; Nauticat Charters






ADMIRE THE CRAFTSMANSHIP If the sea is too rough, rather visit the Harvest Centre next to the Bay Harbour Market for an amazing array of handmade wooden, stone and metal art­ works. Walk around and meet the artists and artisans in their workshops. You can’t miss the life­like bronze and stone sculptures made by Robin Kutinyu ( or the quirky and intricate scrap­metal creations by brothers Mambakwedza and Chenjerai Mutasa. For a taste of craftsmanship order a Monkey’s Paw Pilsner or SS Maori Dry Cider at Urban Brewery ( 021 791 1130; Contact: Helena Fagan 082 784 5054;; December 2017 45


FRANSCHHOEK Parlez-vous français? Don’t worry, Franschhoek is not that French – South Africans are also welcome. Here’s your guide to a day that starts with a mountain view, featuring chocolate and wine and ending at a motor museum.

MONT ROCHELLE NATURE RESERVE Cost: R40 per adult; free for kids under 16. Pay beforehand at or at the gate. Contact: 083 270 7291;

SATURDAY MARKET Pop into the town market next to the Dutch Reformed church in Huguenot Road if you’re here on a weekend. The market is open from 10 am to 3 pm and the stalls sell everything from wild buchu to second-hand books. You can relax under the trees, listen to live music and enjoy a pancake.

46 December 2017

Pack sandwiches and a flask of coffee and drive through town and up the Franschhoek Pass to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve at the top. There are seven hiking trails in the reserve, but you’re on holiday so choose the circular Vista Trail, which is only 2,5 km long and will take less than two hours to complete. The gatekeepers will be there from 8 am to show you the way. Spend the rest of the morning in town. Pull over at the Huguenot Monument ( 021 876 2532; at the bottom of the main road and pay the entrance fee (R10 per adult and R5 per child) to see it up close. There’s also a sundial inscribed with the surnames of the original French Huguenots. If you want to learn more about the Huguenots and see interesting items like an old Bible that travelled all the way from France, visit the museum (an additional R10 per adult and R5 per child). If your kids behaved themselves during the history lesson, treat them to a chocolate tasting at De Villiers Chocolate Café ( 021 874 1060; in the main road about 200 m from the monument. The price starts at R57 for four different blocks of chocolate – you can share among each other. Be warned: You’ll want more! Buy a slab for R32: Intense Cocoa is a must if you like dark chocolate; more adventurous chocolate fans will enjoy the cinnamon-and-chilli flavour. Enough of the sweet stuff? Head to Tuk Tuk Microbrewery ( 021 492 2207; across the road. It costs R52 for four 100 ml tasting glasses of their lager, dunkel, weiss and pale ale. Order a pint of

your favourite – the lager is delicious (R44). They serve tapas too, but hold out if you can – you’ll have lunch on a wine farm later. Walk further up the main road and visit the art galleries and gift shops. At Tap & Cork ( 021 876 4120; you can taste and buy olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This is not your average supermarket fare: There are lots of different flavours, like lime olive oil (R38/125 ml) and pomegranate vinegar (R51/125 ml).

AFTERNOON Head back to your vehicle and choose from one of the 51 wine estates in the valley. (If you want to do a full day of wine tasting, come back another time and buy a ticket for the Franschhoek Wine Tram; see sidebar. The tram is not worth the money if you only have enough time to visit one farm.) Visit for a full list of wine farms in the area, and attractions and activities on each farm. At La Bourgogne ( 021 876 3245; you can taste wine outside under umbrellas (from R60 per person) and order a platter (R220 for two people) while your kids play on the jungle gym. They also have a kiddies’ menu – a boerewors roll with potato wedges costs R65. Franschhoek has lots of restaurants to choose from if you’re not in the mood for a wine farm. Franschhoek Cellar ( 021 876 2086; thefranschhoekcellar. is on the main road near the entrance to town from the Paarl side. It has a playground for the kids and the menu offers a variety of dishes,



from a smoked salmon gourmet sandwich (R85) to slow-roasted pork belly (R130). On your way back to the N1, pull over at the Franschhoek Motor Museum on the L’Ormarins estate (take the R45 to Paarl and turn left about 10 km outside town). Up to 80 vehicles are on display at a time, depicting the evolution of motoring over the years. It’s interesting even if you’re not a petrol head: The collection includes a Ferrari that once belonged to Mick Fleetwood, drummer for Fleetwood Mac, and the Chevron B25 race car that Ian Scheckter raced to victory in the 1972 Formula Two championship. – Suzaan Hall




FRANSCHHOEK MOTOR MUSEUM Book beforehand by telephone or e-mail (details below). R80 per adult; R40 per child aged 3 – 12. Last admittance at the door is at 4 pm on weekdays and 3 pm on weekends. Set aside about 40 minutes for the museum. Contact: 021 874 9002;;

PIERNEEF, 60 YEARS LATER It has been 60 years since South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef passed away and the La Motte Museum will commemorate this anniversary with a special exhibition of his work until 3 January 2018. Go have a look; entrance is free. Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. Contact: 021 876 8850;


HOW DOES THE WINE TRAM WORK? Visit and buy your ticket in advance, especially during the busy summer months. You can choose from six routes, each of which visits eight wine farms. Each route includes a short ride on the tram, but you’ll mostly travel by bus. All the routes start at the ticket office (32 Huguenot Road): Busses depart from 10 am and stop on the hour at the farms en route. Cost: R220 per adult; R90 per child aged 3 – 17. December 2017 47



COME ON TOUR WITH US! Botswana & Caprivi Discover true African wilderness at these iconic destinations: Makgadikgadi Pans, Okavango Delta, Tsodilo Hills, Caprivi Strip, Bwabwata National Park, Mahango Game Reserve, Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park. TOUR INFO 2018 DATES 19 – 29 April; 28 June – 8 July; 6 – 16 August; 15 – 25 September How long is the tour? 11 days/10 nights Departure point: Nata, Botswana End point: Kasane, Botswana Accommodation: Formal Rates: R23 950 per adult; single supplement additional 30 %. THE RATE INCLUDES • A professional tour leader and an experienced field guide • Three meals a day • All park fees • All accommodation • Bedding and towels • Two-way radios



WHAT TO BRING • A vehicle – a 4x2 with high ground clearance will do (fuel and border fees are for your own account) • Drinks and snacks • Camping chairs • Your passport • Personal things THE TOUR IN A NUTSHELL Day 1: We meet at Nata Lodge and enjoy sunset at the famous Makgadikgadi Pans. Day 2: We explore Maun and surrounds, with an optional flight over the Okavango Delta. Day 3: Near Sepupa, motorboats will take us to a houseboat on the Okavango River, where we’ll spend two nights. Day 4: Enjoy a mokoro cruise on the delta, or do some tigerfishing. Day 5: We return to the vehicles and drive

Call 044 535 0065; e-mail

to the rock art at Tsodilo Hills. We then cross the border into Namibia, to Ngepi Camp on the Okavango River. Day 6: We visit Mahango Game Reserve, renowned for its 300 bird species and herds of roan and sable antelope. Day 7: Spend time relaxing at the camp, visiting Bwabwata National Park, going on a mokoro cruise, birdwatching or fishing… The day ends with a cruise on the Okavango. Day 8: We drive the length of the Caprivi Strip to Kasane, where we’ll spend the last three nights. Day 9: We visit Vic Falls, where you have the option of doing a bungee jump or a helicopter flight. Day 10: We go on a game drive and boat cruise on the Chobe River in Chobe National Park. Day 11: It’s time to say goodbye. or visit

The importance of pudding

What happens when there’s a power cut two days before the annual Dankfees in Merweville, threatening the pudding output? Everyone pitches in to help, that’s what – including visitors from all over the country. WORDS & PICTURES ERNS GRUNDLING



t’s 10.30 pm on a Friday and Merweville is quiet. The streetlights cast shallow pools of light. At least the streetlights are working: An hour ago, this little Karoo town was still in the dark. The power had been out for about 30 hours. The power failure couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time: It’s the Dankfees weekend, an annual highlight for this farming community. A blue Ford bakkie pulls up. It’s Belia Muller, owner of Muller Handelaars. She’s here to bring me the key to the guesthouse next door. “We had to use the generator at the store to power the fridges,” she says. “We had to make a plan – bazaar pudding has to be kept cold!” Over the next few days I’ll learn that making a plan is something the people of Merweville are very good at indeed.

Unleash the visitors

FREEDOM AND FUN (opposite page, clockwise from top left). Reinie Dick drove all the way from Stellenbosch to support the Dankfees and to take part in the mountain-bike event. In Merweville children can still run freely in the wide streets. Brian Ferreira plays concertina for the Donkiekar Boere Orkes, which entertained the crowds on Friday evening and at the bazaar on Saturday. Visitors in the hall eagerly await the opening of the bazaar and the pudding table.

52 December 2017

It’s Saturday morning and the caravan park opposite my guesthouse is bursting at the seams. Men recline in camping chairs and sip coffee. A boy runs through the campsite with his toothbrush clenched in his teeth. Other kids pedal past on their bikes, their chatter rivalling that of the weavers in the karee trees. Despite a recent influx of incomers who have bought and renovated holiday houses in town, Merweville is not a busy place. That all changes during the Dankfees, however, when up to a thousand people arrive for the weekend. On the festival pamphlet, there’s a paragraph that reads: “Even though we’re experiencing a severe drought, we can look back at all the Dankfees festivals held since 1909 and know that God is great and merciful. [...] The Merweville Dankfees is a festival unlike any other. It’s a festival with heart, a festival that cares. It’s a have-you-been-there festival. Everyone is welcome.” I walk to the church, two blocks away from my guesthouse. The bell tolls once, letting everyone know it’s 7.30 am. A shaft of sunlight lights up the big cross on the hill. The church, built in a neo-Gothic style using blue sandstone from the area, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole Karoo. It’s the centre of life in town for the 123-strong congregation, as it was in 1904 when the congregation was established after

the Anglo-Boer War. The Dankfees is their only fundraising event – some of the money raised goes towards paying dominee Herman Burger’s salary. The festival grounds are already busy. I see lots of white bakkies. Tables and chairs are set out, fires are lit and coals are heaped into braai drums with shovels, ready for braai grids packed with juicy burger patties. People from as far as Patensie in the Eastern Cape and Kuils River near Cape Town have donated fruit and vegetables for the stalls: bags of butternut, cauliflower, oranges and peaches. A jumping castle has been brought in from Somerset West and a visitor from Stellenbosch is doing face painting for the kids. Some people are wandering around in cycling gear, ready for the 50 km mountain-bike ride or the shorter fun ride. Unlike many other country festivals, the Dankfees doesn’t have a beer tent and a stage where singers perform to booming backing tracks. The soundtrack to this festival is much more laid-back, courtesy of Dawie le Roux and his Donkiekar Boere Orkes from George. I chat to Reinie Dick, a retired dominee from Stellenbosch, who’s here visiting friends. “Look how people are stocking up on food – you’d think the Second Coming was upon us!” he says. I buy one of the legendary Dankfees hamburgers – more like a giant braaibroodjie with a patty and sauce. “It’s a secret recipe,” says Gina Mans with a wink. “But if you eat enough of them, you’ll soon be able to figure out all the ingredients…” Inside the church hall, I walk past a room full of meat. Meat is one of the biggest attractions at the Dankfees: There are crates full of every imaginable cut. Then there’s the pudding table, where I find Lerouna le Roux. “It’s like we’re preparing for war,” she says, standing behind 60 bowls of bazaar pudding. (In the end, they sold more than R11 000 worth of pudding.) A little girl sidles up to sneak a glance. “Looks good, doesn’t it, sussie?” says Lerouna. “Come back in a little while and buy one.” But Sussie will have to wait until after 8.30 am, when dominee Herman has finished his welcoming speech with the word that everyone is looking forward to the most: “Amen.” Amen means “So be it”, but today it also means: “Go forth and buy!”


Opposite page, clockwise from top left: SPRINGBOK GOING ONCE. Johnny Mocke and dominee Herman Burger were in charge of the auction. Local blockman Stuurman Krediet holds up the next item: a springbok carcass. TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE. On the Sunday morning, twin babies were baptised in the church. They’re the third generation of Mockes to be baptised in Merweville. SOKKIE TIME. Young and old shuffle across the dance floor at Springbok Lodge on the Saturday night. CHURCH PEOPLE. Dominee Herman Burger, his wife Priscilla, their children, friends and Maximus the dog all take a breather on the stoep of the parsonage at the end of the Dankfees weekend. KAROO NIGHTS. Festivalgoers relax around the fire in the town campsite. COMMUNITY IS KING. Dominee Herman gets his hands dirty during a big church lunch on the Sunday.

I ask Lerouna about the secret to a great bazaar pudding and she shrugs her shoulders and says, “It’s just bazaar pudding. It should look tasty and colourful and it should be made with love.” Lerouna lives in Gansbaai, but her daughter Zaria Barnard is a teacher at George Fredericks Primary School in Merweville. Zaria asked her mom to come and help with the festival and she obliged, much like many other visitors in town. It was a struggle to get the pudding to set due to the power cut. “We bought hand mixers and boiled water on a gas stove to mix with the jelly powder, then we put ice in the kitchen sink to get the jelly to set,” Lerouna says. “It made me think about how people would have made bazaar pudding in earlier years when there was no electricity. Everyone had to pitch in, even the men. I told them they’d have to work their muscles – the pudding wasn’t going to make itself!” Lerouna knows all too well what happens after the dominee says “Amen”. “As soon as the first people arrive, you get so busy you don’t have time to see who’s in front of you,” she says. Mary-Ann van Heerden, manager of the Springbok Lodge in town, lends a hand at the pudding table. “Once a Karookiewiet, always a Karookiewiet,” she says. “You’ll always long for this place. You grow used to the arid conditions and not having everything available all the time, and you learn to plan ahead.”


At 8.30 am, dominee Herman greets the congregation. “I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that when you leave, you’ll already be making plans to come back next year.” He wishes a few members of the congregation a happy birthday and extends his condolences to the family of Sakkie Marais, a resident of Merweville who passed away the day before. Then he ends his address with a prayer. Amen. The mass of people starts to move, splitting up and gathering around the tables and stalls. The Dankfees is now in business and money is handed over for biscuits, rusks, carrot cake, pancakes, children’s toys and lamb chops. A little while later, I meet the Mocke family. They grew up in Merweville and all six siblings

54 December 2017

(one brother has passed away) have returned for the Dankfees. “Once we had seen more of the world, we all realised how fortunate we’d been to live here,” says Anton Mocke, a retired dominee from Krugersdorp. “When I leave this town, I leave with the knowledge of what the stones feel like under my feet and how it feels to run up a gravel ridge and stub your toe. I know the smell of the grass and the trees and the veld.” Back at the hamburger stall, I talk to Johan Basson. He and his wife Annemarie drove here from the coastal town of Reebok on the Garden Route and set up camp in the parsonage garden for the weekend. “People need to escape the city, even if it’s just for a few days,” he says. “That’s how these small towns survive. If you grew up on the platteland, you’ll always long to be back here, long for the quiet lifestyle. For many people, the power cut was a highlight. You could see the stars in the darkness.” While Johan was gazing at the night sky, Annemarie strapped on a headlamp and decorated cakes in the dark. “We worked three nights in a row, but I loved it,” she says. “People have such a positive attitude here. The drought is severe, but people work together to make a plan. The Merweville residents are an example to us all.” By now, the Donkiekar Boere Orkes is in full swing. Inside the church hall, dominee Herman and another resident, Johnny Mocke, are auctioning off items to raise funds. At one point, local blockman Stuurman Krediet makes his way to the stage with a springbok carcass over his shoulder. All too soon, the final items have been auctioned off, the pudding bowls have been scraped clean and the braai fires have burnt out. It’s the end of the busiest day in Merweville.

Giving thanks

Late on Sunday afternoon, I join Herman, his wife Priscilla, their three children and some of their friends on the stoep of the parsonage. Earlier in church, twins were baptised by their grandfather Anton Mocke – the boy and girl are the third generation of Mockes to be baptised in Merweville – and then more than 300 people gathered in the church hall to feast on 30 legs of mutton. The hustle and bustle has since died down,

and now only birdsong breaks the silence. “The town will quieten down and stay that way for the rest of the year,” says Herman with a smile. Priscilla thinks back to all the hard work put in over the past few days. “My children were all here and they brought their friends. Everyone helped. I measured all the dry ingredients for the baking beforehand so only the wet ingredients needed to be added, but then we couldn’t use the oven because the power was out. So we lit gas stoves in the church hall to start the process and when the power came back

on we went home to finish the milk tarts. The tarts were done around midnight and then we moved on to the cheesecake…” Herman nods and looks towards the church. “A Karoo town can go one of two ways,” he says. “Either it dies or it thrives.” It’s clear which way Merweville is going. The next Merweville Dankfees will take place from 27 – 29 April 2018. Contact Esther Fourie for more information: 084 962 2725; ngkerkmerweville@

THE BLUE OF SKY AND SEA. In Zanzibar, your morning coffee at a street cafĂŠ comes with this idyllic view of the sea, complete with the billowing sail of a dhow. This photo was taken from Baboo CafĂŠ which looks out over the beach where Omary Seremani Kisinga (opposite page) and a few friends were practising some acrobatic moves.



For most visitors to Zanzibar, Stone Town is their first point of contact with this East African island before they head to the beach resorts. But if you only have a long weekend at your disposal, Stone Town offers more than enough mini adventures to keep your camera clicking away… WORDS & PICTURES TOAST COETZER



WELCOMING SMILES. Sofia Ali (below) poses for a photo on the ferry between Dar es Salaam and Stone Town. The trip takes about two hours and costs US$70 (R930) for a return ticket. Stone Town’s tourism industry attracts vendors from all over. Matthew Joseph Lemamuree (below right) is a Maasai from Tanzania who sells curios.

t’s 8 am in Stone Town, Zanzibar, and I’m sitting in the rooftop dining room of the Al-Minar Hotel, four storeys high. Across from me, on top of another building, I spot a water thick-knee. From a widening crack in yet another building, a small tree is growing. In it I see a broad-billed roller – a rare bird in South Africa, but here it seems to have become urbanised. Maybe the roller is on holiday too… Birds have fewer worries than we do when it comes to crossing borders: no queues, visa fees or passport hassles. But we tend to forget how easy it is for us South Africans to jump on a plane and head to exciting parts of Africa. South Africans don’t even need a visa to visit Zanzibar! Stone Town is a collection of jumbled buildings, with only narrow streets – built for foot traffic – between them. From above it must look like a jigsaw puzzle. For centuries it was an important trading post on the coast of East Africa. Stone Town is on a route that connected similar ports in Mozambique to the south with Kenya in the

north, and beyond to the Arabian Peninsula. Zanzibar’s history, however, is darkened by its key role in the slave trade. Thousands of slaves were brought here and traded from the open marketplace, after which they were put on ships and sent to lands from where there was no possible return. When you step outside your hotel, you step into this rich, complicated history. The house of notorious slave trader Tippu Tip is close to my hotel. In his day, he headed west, crossing Tanzania on foot all the way to the Congo. Tippu encountered Livingstone and Stanley on his travels and helped them to plan their own journeys. Guess who else is from Zanzibar? Freddie Mercury! It’s a strange and funny scene to imagine: a buck-toothed boy humming the harmonies of “Radio Ga Ga” as he skips along a cobbled street. Stone Town is best explored on foot. Use the map in your guidebook, or buy one from a tourist shop. I’d recommend getting the hand-drawn town map by Giovanni Tombazzi. Despite having directions in your hands, however, you’ll still get lost in the maze of

narrow lanes and alleyways. But that’s how you discover things that aren’t marked on the map. Many tourists come to Zanzibar for the white beaches and great snorkelling spots, but to me Stone Town is enough of an escape from the everyday. It offers an experience you can’t get in South Africa. It’s also very different from mainland Africa. (Tanzania is just 35 km away as the gull flies.) Historically, this is where mainland Africa was exposed to influences from the Arab world and the East. The legacy of this is a cosmopolitan city, where you’ll meet a Maasai selling his wares alongside a Nigerian who also found his way here. The town’s Arabic roots are evident in the faces of the people you meet, and in the architecture: minarets of mosques jut out everywhere. It’s not a mosque but the St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral with its distinctive two spires that calls me first. This huge cathedral was completed in 1898, but these days it’s rarely full. Today it offers me peace and quiet after the hubbub of the streets. I sit down and imagine the church full, hymns ringing out. Then I leave it behind, silent as I found it.

On a street corner a group of shopkeepers while away the time chatting and waiting for customers. I pause, too, waiting with my camera for a photo opportunity to present itself. This is my plan for the day: to take photographs and slow down the pace of my holiday. I want to take in the smells, the tastes and the textures. Eventually I spill out onto busy Benjamin Mkapa Street (better known as Creek Road), which forms a kind of border – this is where the old part of Stone Town ends. For 10 minutes I stand next to a man peeling oranges, inhaling the citrus scent along with the dust from passing feet. Then I venture into the adjacent market with my sister-in-law’s shopping list of spices open in my notebook: saffron, vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks, cumin, coriander, curry… Yes, you can probably buy all of these somewhere in your local supermarket, but isn’t it cooler to say your chicken was curried with Zanzibar’s finest? Every stallholder worth his or her salt is now trying to sell me the same thing. It’s important not to rush. Wait them out. Find someone you can have a calm conversation with. Smell the produce and compare it with

FRAME THE MOMENT. Shopkeeper Suleiman Salim Al-Harthy (above left) was born in Zanzibar, but his father’s family is originally from Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. Farida Salim (above) stands at the entrance to her clothing shop. Stone Town’s intricately carved doorframes are a treat for photographers.

December 2017 61

Stone Town is a feast for the senses

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO How do I get there? I drove – it takes a good two weeks from South Africa to Dar es Salaam, from where you can catch a ferry to Zanzibar. It’s easier and faster to fly: Mango flies direct from Joburg to Zanzibar for about R4 959 return. Where do I stay? I stayed at Al-Minar Hotel for R1 133 per person, with breakfast. Check if there are any special offers. Al Minar has friendly staff, decent rooms and is only 150 m from the beach. What else? There are plenty of small travel agencies in Stone Town (or just enquire at your hotel’s reception) that offer day trips: snorkelling outings, short dhow trips, or visits to an old slave cave, a spice farm or Jozani Forest. We recommend you do the guided walking tour of Stone Town: about US$15 (R200) to US$30 (R400) per person depending on the tour. You can also visit one of several museums like the Peace Memorial Museum (furniture and clothing) and the Natural History Museum (dusty stuffed animals and skulls).

62 December 2017

a neighbour’s. My bag fills up with one fragrant packet after another. Not everything smells good in the market: Avoid the fish and chicken stalls unless you plan to cook later that evening. But there’s no self-catering for me in Stone Town. There are many great restaurants to pick from, and then there’s the Forodhani night market. Forodhani consists of a small park and promenade at the seaside end of Stone Town. As the sun starts softening on the western horizon, locals and tourists head to Forodhani to watch the last dhows and other fishing vessels return to shore. Young fishermen show off by somersaulting off their boats into the water. Some kick a soccer ball around on the beach. Couples sit together, kids tug at their parents’ elbows for ice creams. Soon the smell of seafood – everything from octopus to prawns – being cooked on the braai will lure me to the food stalls, where I’ll stack a paper plate high with anything I fancy...

Natural History Museum

Mkunazini area, Stone Town

Jaws Corner

A street market

Peace Memorial Museum

The Old Fort and House of Wonders

St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral

Fruit seller

Forodhani Gardens




Learn to take photos like a pro Join us on a one-day workshop of all things camera-related. We’ll show you how to operate your camera so you’ll be inspired to get out there and capture the world around you – a lion in the Kruger Park, a pretty sunset, your grandkids playing… Our picture editor, Shelley Christians, will facilitate the course and she will be joined by another member of the go! team. Come armed with your point-and-shoot or D-SLR and we’ll help you improve your photography.



3 February 2018, Evertsdal Guesthouse, Durbanville

R1 750 per person, including lunch

24 February 2018, Velmore Hotel, Centurion, Pretoria BOOK NOW! Contact Donvé Myburgh 021 443 9830;



This month, we feature reader photos taken during a recent go! and Mpafa Travel photography tour in Botswana. Want to join in the fun? Turn to page 68 for more information. BY TOAST COETZER

KARIN LATEGAN Canon 7D Mark II Sigma 150 – 600 mm lens TOAST SAYS: Few antelopes in southern Africa can rival the majestic kudu. It’s a big buck that stands out in the landscape, unlike the camera-shy duiker or grysbok.

There are lots of opportunities to take photos of wildlife on our Botswana tour. The tour ends in Chobe National Park, where hippo, buffalo and elephant are abundant. Before then, you’ll travel through the Zambezi Region in Namibia, where you’ll get to photograph antelope like kudu, lechwe, roan and sable

in Mahango Game Reserve. Karin took this photo in Mahango. Getting the exposure right was tricky because the kudu was standing in the shade of a tree. Maybe there were some clouds in front of the sun, however, because the contrast between the shade and the clearing in the

background is not too extreme. The pic works because the horns of the kudu bull are clearly visible. The side profile is also strong. Try to maintain eye contact with your subject if you can, as Karin did here. Had the kudu been facing away from the camera, this photo would have had less impact.

We’re on Instagram! Follow us and our sister mag Weg for travel and wildlife pics from all over: Search for @gomagsa and @menseselense

December 2017 65

RELINE DU TOIT Canon PowerShot G3 X TOAST SAYS: One of the highlights of the Botswana tour is an optional 45-minute flight over the Okavango Delta, departing from Maun (not included in the

tour rate). My advice to people is to make sure that they enjoy the experience first and foremost, without worrying too much about photos. After all, it might be your only chance to see the delta from the sky. It really is a spectacular sight:

The Okavango fans out below like a garden engulfed by a flood. Look closely and you might see elephants, giraffes and hippos. When you do decide to take a snap or two, don’t fiddle with your camera settings too much; you can even use automatic mode.

Reline’s shutter speed of 1/500 second was fast enough to counter any movement blur caused by the vibration of the aeroplane. A part of the wing will inevitably creep into some of your shots, but you can always crop this bit out later if it bothers you.


next to the road are also part of Botswana’s story. Dalene’s shutter speed of 1/400 second was fast enough to freeze any sudden movement made by the donkey (what are the chances?) or one of the horses. Fortunately the animals didn’t mind striking a pose. The light in the background is very bright, but Dalene got it right by setting her exposure according to the shade of the tree, where Frik is standing. Although the cars in the road behind the tree are a little distracting, it’s a great travel snap to show the grandkids at home.

Canon EOS 500D Canon 18 – 55 mm lens TOAST SAYS: Dalene and her husband Frik are from Hazyview in Mpumalanga. Frik is not the kind of guy who likes to wear shoes on holiday, and Botswana is just the place to kick off your flip-flops and wriggle your toes in the sand. On our photography tour, you’ll occasionally pop into towns like Maun, where this photo was taken. You might have booked a spot on the tour to take photos of fish-eagles and lions, but donkeys 66 December 2017

TAKE YOUR PIC READER PHOTOS FERDINAND KIDD Nikon D7100 Nikon 18 – 300 mm lens TOAST SAYS: Southern yellowbilled hornbills are not shy. They’ll hop over to your camping chair and look you up and down like you’re an alien who has just landed on their planet. In Botswana, every campsite has its feathered residents: starlings, spurfowl, babblers and grey go-away-birds. That’s why you shouldn’t put your camera away when the drive is done – there are still lots of photo opportunities around. Sit in your camping chair and give the birds time to get used to your presence, then move closer. Ferdinand took this photo at Khama Rhino Sanctuary north of Serowe. I like the reflection of the tree branches in the vehicle window in the background. The window also provides an unusual frame for the birds.

JACQUES DU PREEZ Canon EOS 760D Canon 18 – 135 mm lens TOAST SAYS: Don’t forget about the little things. You won’t see an elephant every day so look down to see what life is like at your feet. There might be a millipede marching past, or a toktokkie knocking about. Jacques took this photo at the campsite near Tsodilo Hills. We were all on our way to take sunset photos when we came across these butterflies fluttering about in the wet soil turned up by our tyres. When shooting small creatures on the ground, try to get a low angle. Don’t be lazy: Lie down on your stomach to get the best perspective. If your joints are creaky, crouch down. This photo’s strong point is the contrast between the yellow butterflies and the dark soil. The shape of the butterflies’ wings – and their delicate legs – draws you in and keeps your attention. December 2017 67


IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY IN BOTSWANA! Join go! and Mpafa Travel on an 11-day photography tour in northern Botswana. One PHOTO of our staff photographers will accompany the TOUR group and teach you how to make the most of your equipment (all cameras are welcome). It’s a self-drive tour, but the experienced guide and his team will prepare your meals and pitch your tent. Along the way, you’ll visit places like Mahango Game Reserve in Namibia, Chobe National Park in Botswana and Vic Falls in Zimbabwe, and you’ll return with photos that will make your loved ones green with envy. Tour dates in 2018: 15 – 25 March and 15 – 25 July Bookings: 044 535 0065;

ANELÉ VAN WYK Canon PowerShot SX50 TOAST SAYS: You can bring any camera on the photography tour, whether it’s a D-SLR with lots of lenses or a point-and-shoot that fits into your shirt pocket. Our guides will help you get the best out of it. I always tell people that every camera has limitations. Yes, even the expensive ones: A D-SLR with a long lens is heavy and hard to handle if you’re exploring the Okavango in a mokoro, for example. Anelé used a Canon PowerShot

SX50: a super zoom or “bridge” camera that fills the gap between a D-SLR and a compact pointand-shoot. It can do a little of everything without breaking the bank and it’s a great travel companion because it’s lightweight to carry around. You can take close-up shots using the macro mode and also zoom in on a hyena peeking out of an aardvark burrow. This sunset over the Boteti River was the perfect opportunity for a camera like the PowerShot SX50 to prove its mettle, and it could do so thanks to Anelé’s skill, of course.

SEND US YOUR BEST TRAVEL AND NATURE PHOTOS! WHY? We publish a selection of reader pictures every month. Don’t be shy, haul out those shots you’ve been hoarding on your computer and send them to us! We like just about anything: wildlife, landscapes, portraits, holiday snaps or bugs in your garden. HOW? Send your best photos to Don’t send files bigger than 4 MB – if we need a bigger version, we’ll ask for it. Give the name, surname, home town and contact number of the photographer. Also include info about where and how the shot was taken, and what equipment was used. If you manipulated your photo in any way, tell us what you did. THE FINE PRINT We reserve the right to use your photos elsewhere in the magazine, on our digital platforms and marketing material.

68 December 2017


You can prepare this delicious menu in the campsite. The dishes all have a splash of red or green in them to keep things festive. RECIPES & STYLING ALETTA LINTVELT FOOD ASSISTANT MERRILL BUCKLEY PICTURES MYBURGH DU PLESSIS

Fillet in coffee marinade

FOOD Coleslaw

It’s fresh, crunchy and full of flavour!

• sea salt, to taste • ground black pepper, to taste • 2 peaches, halved • 6 baby leeks, whole • 2 small heads of lettuce, separated

You need

Here’s how

Serves 6 Preparation time 20 minutes

Fillet in a coffee marinade

1 Put the fillet in a ziplock bag. Mix the coffee, sugar, cocoa, cumin, garlic and chilli flakes together until the sugar dissolves. Pour the marinade into the ziplock bag with the fillet. Refrigerate the meat for at least 4 hours to allow the meat to marinate. 2 Remove the fillet from the marinade. Make sure the meat is at room temperature before you braai. 3 Prepare a bed of coals. Put the fillet directly onto the hot coals – don’t worry, very little ash will stick to it. Turn it every 2 minutes until it’s seared all around – it will take about 10 minutes in total. Remove the fillet from the coals, cover it with a sheet of foil and set aside for 15 minutes. 4 Season the peaches, leeks and lettuce with salt and black pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Sear the fruit and veggies on the grid over the coals for a couple of minutes or until charred. 5 Arrange the peaches, veggies and fillet on a dish. Serve with the coleslaw.

Serves 6 Preparation time 10 minutes plus marinating time Cooking time 10 minutes 

TIP If you use the braai method described above, you have to use firewood and not briquettes as they are treated with chemicals.

• ½ red cabbage, shredded • 1 red onion, thinly sliced • 5 radishes, thinly sliced • ½ red chilli, finely chopped • ½ cup coriander, chopped • ½ teaspoon salt • juice of 1 – 2 limes or 1 lemon • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 tablespoon honey • ½ cup medium desiccated coconut or coconut flakes

Here’s how

Pan-fried brie Hummus with crisp chickpeas

1 Mix the cabbage, onion, radishes, chilli, coriander and salt together in a bowl. 2 Squeeze the lime juice over the cabbage mixture. Add the vinegar, olive oil and honey. Stir through and add the coconut. 3 Set the coleslaw aside for a while to allow the flavours to develop. The salad won’t wilt so you can even make it a day in advance.

The coffee marinade serves two purposes: The enzymes in the coffee tenderise the meat and add subtle flavour.

You need • 1 kg fillet • 2 cups strong filter coffee, at room temperature • 3 tablespoons treacle sugar • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder • 1 teaspoon ground cumin • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic • 1 tablespoon chilli flakes • olive oil 72 December 2017

Pan-fried brie Serves 6 Preparation time 5 minutes Cooking time 15 minutes  You can make this delicious side dish in the middle of nowhere.

You need • 250 g brie • 125 g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped • a handful of olives, pitted

• 1 ciabatta, sliced • olive oil • pesto, chermoula or another paste of your choice

Here’s how 1 Cut the brie in pieces. Add the cheese to a small cast-iron pan with the tomatoes and olives. Cover the pan with a sheet of foil. Cook on a grid over medium-hot coals for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and starts to bubble. 2 Toast the ciabatta slices on the grid and drizzle with olive oil. Spread a bit of pesto or chermoula on each slice. 3 Dip the slices of ciabatta in the melted cheese and serve.

Hummus with crisp chickpeas Serves 6 Preparation time 15 minutes Cooking time 5 minutes  This hummus with crisp chickpeas and pomegranate seeds makes a tasty and pretty starter. You can also add small red onions, green olives or pistachios.

You need • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 tin (410 g) chickpeas, drained • 1 teaspoon paprika • ½ teaspoon salt • 400 g hummus • ½ cup pomegranate seeds • ½ cup parsley, chopped

Cheese-and-tomato pie

Cheese-andtomato pie Serves 6 Preparation time 30 minutes Cooking time 40 minutes 

Here’s how 1 Heat the olive oil in a pan. Fry the chickpeas, paprika and salt until all the liquid has been reduced and the chickpeas are a caramel colour. Set aside to cool. 2 Spread the hummus on a platter in an even layer. Use a teaspoon to make concentric circles in the hummus. 3 Fill the grooves of the circles with chickpeas and pomegranate seeds and garnish with parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with crackers.

Cheese, onion and tomato are a winning combination. You can bake this pie in the oven or wrap the filling in puff pastry and cook it over the coals.

You need • 1 roll short crust pastry, thawed • 2 cups grated gruyère or cheddar • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced, juice and seeds removed • salt, to taste • 2 tablespoons butter • 1 onion, thinly sliced

• 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper • 250 g mascarpone or cream cheese • 2 eggs

Here’s how 1 Preheat the oven to 200° C. Grease a 23 cm tart dish with butter. Roll out the pastry using a rolling pin until it’s about half a centimetre thick. Line the dish with the pastry. Leave some pastry hanging over the edges because it will shrink in the oven. Prick the pastry with a fork and blind-bake for 10 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and add half a cup of cheese. Lower the heat to 180° C.

2 Arrange the tomato slices on a sheet of kitchen paper in a single layer. Season with salt and cover with another sheet of kitchen paper. Set aside for 15 minutes and then pat them dry. 3 Heat the butter in a pan. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper. 4 Mix the mascarpone, eggs and the rest of the cheese together. 5 Arrange the tomato slices on the pie crust in a single layer, followed by the onions, the rest of the tomato and the mascarpone mixture. 6 Bake the pie for 30 minutes at 180° C. Allow to set for 30 minutes before you slice it. It’s also delicious served cold. December 2017 73


Strawberry-andcream pancake cake Here’s how Serves 6 Preparation time 1 hour Cooking time 30 minutes  You can bake the pancakes in advance (or use frozen ones), then all you have to do on the day is assemble and serve.

You need FOR THE PANCAKES • 2 cups flour • 2 teaspoons baking powder • 1 teaspoon salt • 1½ cups milk • 1½ cups water • 4 eggs • 1 tablespoon vinegar • ¼ cup oil, plus extra FOR THE FILLING • 2 cups cream • 1 cup mascarpone • ½ cup icing sugar • 4 cups strawberries, finely chopped 74 December 2017

1 Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the milk and water and beat until you have a smooth batter. Beat the eggs, vinegar and oil into the mixture. Put the batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (preferably overnight). 2 Heat a little oil in a pan. Ladle the batter into the pan – the ladle should be about two-thirds full for each pancake. Flip the pancake when the underside is cooked. (Don’t worry, the first one is always a flop!) Repeat the process until you’ve used all the batter. 3 Beat the cream until stiff peaks form and add the mascarpone and icing sugar. Set aside a few spoons of strawberry and fold the rest into the cream mixture. 4 Stack the pancakes by adding a layer of the cream mixture in-between. Decorate the top of the cake with the rest of the strawberries. Put the cake in the fridge and serve the same day.


Fizz for the festive season

ecember is the time of year for bubbly: lots to celebrate, lots of sunshine and lots of lazy days in need of a fizzy boost. Whatever your budget, here are three goodies to enjoy this festive season. Rietvallei John B Chardonnay Brut 2016 (R65) is my go-to party wine this year. The price is great (which means I can buy lots!) and it’s made from chardonnay grapes that give the wine plenty of lemony, zesty flavours. It’s nice and dry and made in a fresh, fruit-forward style. You can’t go wrong topping it up with orange juice or peach nectar for a great Buck’s Fizz or brunch Bellini. Sauvignon blanc is on trend at the moment and this summer you can celebrate with some good bubbly versions. One of those is the Steenberg Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (R120). It’s made in the Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) style, which involves a second fermentation in the bottle, but it doesn’t spend too long in contact with the dead yeast cells so it remains crisp and juicy, with notes of lemon, lime and crunchy green apples. Try it with a smoked salmon salad or with sushi, or just sip it outside on a sunny day. If you’re looking for a full-on, flavour-packed fizz, give the Avondale Armilla Blanc de Blanc 2010 (R260) a go. It’s made from 100 % organically grown chardonnay and has spent a whopping five years on the lees, giving it a layered, savoury taste profile with a seemingly endless finish: Think marmite, oyster juice and toasty brioche. People often forget that sparkling wine is a great food partner. This one in particular has enough weight to handle rich dishes like seafood, pork and duck – a classy addition to any festive gathering. – Cathy Marston

Eat, beach, sleep... Repeat


CENTRAL LOCK GAZEBO 3 m (W) x 3 m (H) One-person set-up Central-locking mechanism UV 50+ protection One-year warranty

One-person set-up

Available at

BEACH SHELTER 200 Two-person Side ventilation UV 50+ protection Silver-lined glare protection One-year warranty Available at


36 kg weight support Cup holder One-year warranty

Sleeping bags Mattresses Camp beds


Two-person Built-in ground sheet Side ventilation UV 50+ protection Silver-lined glare protection One-year warranty Available at

Instant set-up system Back ventilation UV 50+ protection One-year warranty



50 ℓ capacity Pin hinged lid Fits a 2,25 ℓ bottle upright One-year warranty Available at

Available at

Tents Gazebos


Chairs Cupboards Tables

Available at

120 kg weight support Utility pocket Cup holder One-year warranty Available at

Cooler boxes Cooler bags Thermo coolers

Charcoal Briquettes Braais Firelighters




Ride the high roads of Lesotho!

Lesotho has some of the most spectacular roads in southern Africa. Join go! and Dryland Ride on a guided cycling tour in the Mountain Kingdom. Day 1: The tour starts at a guest farm near Clarens in the Eastern Free State, a half­day drive from Joburg or Durban. You’ll leave your vehicle there − safe parking is available. If you’re flying in, a shuttle is available from OR Tambo. At the farm, you’ll meet the other cyclists and the guides, who will talk you through the itinerary over a delicious meal and a glass of wine. Day 2: You’ll be transferred in one of Dryland Ride’s 4x4 bakkies to the top of Moteng Pass in Lesotho, more than 3 000 m above sea level. From there, you’ll ride a thrilling gravel road down into

the Malibamatso River Valley. After lunch and another stint of pedalling, you’ll be transported to Katse Lodge where you’ll spend the next two nights. Day 3: Today you’ll ride a circular route around Katse Dam along a 4x4­only road with epic views of the water. Along the way, the guides will tell you more about the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the local trout­farming initiatives. Day 4: The day begins with a ride along a gravel road high above the Malibamatso River Valley. Afterwards we’ll travel south to

the lodge at Mohale Dam, our home for the next two nights.

TOUR DATES 17 − 23 March 2018

Day 5: Time to head out for a day’s pedalling around Mohale Dam and surrounds. We’ll have a picnic lunch before returning to the lodge.

RATES R14 450 per person sharing R18 785 single supplement R7 225 per child under 12

Day 6: Some scenic descents into the Lesotho lowlands are on the itinerary today. We have lunch at the Peka Bridge border post before we tackle the last stretch of the tour, to our guesthouse. Day 7: After breakfast it’s time to head home or we’ll transfer you to OR Tambo airport.


• Your passport • Your bike, cycling kit, helmet and accessories

• Clothes for all weather conditions • Toiletries • Swimming costume and sunscreen • A torch or headlamp • Camera, GoPro, etc. • Cellphone charger • Insect repellent


• The tours include accommodation, camp­ ing gear where applicable, all meals, snacks, supplements and wine during dinner



• Guides accompany you at all time • Qualified medics and bike mechanics travel with the group

• Airport transfers are available • It’s non­competitive • Rental bikes are available

For more information and to reserve your place, visit or contact René Rademeyer 044 279 1013; 082 855 6015;


Our writers and contributors travelled more than 60 000 km this year and tested lots of gear along the way. Here’s a list of our favourite products, plus a few gifts we wouldn’t mind finding under the Christmas tree.

GEAR GIFT GUIDE Beers for Africa 8-pack When our writers travel, they often bring me a beer from the countries they visited. In a smart, thirst-quenching move, SAB decided to put eight of Africa’s most iconic lagers from countries like Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Tanzania and South Africa together in one tasty 8-pack. R100 at liquor stores

Velskoens Velskoens might have been around forever, but it still took me 50 years to try my first pair. Once you go vellies, you can’t go back – I started late but my collection is now growing fast and my favourites are the ones I bought from our very own online shop. I might be biased, but they’re comfy and my wife says I look good. What more could you want from a pair of shoes? R800 at

Casio G-Shock G-5600E-1 Zojirushi 480 ml flask go! photo book This year, we’re introducing a brand-new way for you to enjoy the travel photos taken by our photographers: a limited run of durable photography books. Each book will be a compilation of our favourite shots from the wildest corners of Africa, including many previously unpublished shots. The first book will feature my own travels in Tanzania – classic wilderness destinations like Ngorongoro, the Serengeti and Tarangire. R300 at

The Zojirushi brand has been around since 1918 in Japan, but until a couple from Cape Town began importing their products, you couldn’t get anything of theirs in South Africa. The flask doesn’t have a cup, but the lid flips open at the push of a button – perfect when you only have one hand free. If you fill the flask with coffee at 7 am, I can guarantee you that it will still be piping hot at 4 pm. It’s the best flask I’ve owned. R520 at

The G-Shock is the kanniedood of the watch world. Mine has seen snow north of the Arctic Circle, the underwater world in Madagascar and the scorched dunes of the Namib. It still works perfectly, but I wouldn’t mind owning a second G-Shock – especially if it’s the 5600E-1… This retro model looks like the original G-Shock launched 35 years ago, but with modern technology inside. R2 199 at

Hi-Tec Sierra X-Lite Low Thought Hi-Tec only made those big, brown hiking boots? Their new range of takkies, leather shoes and flip-flops will make you do a double take. I’ve been eyeing the Sierra X-Lite Low in their online shop for weeks. Or should I go for the more affordable Badwater? Hmmm… R1 199 (Sierra X-Lite Low); R799 (Badwater) at 78 December 2017

Apple Music subscription The way we listen to music has changed tremendously. Streaming services are now the norm. Apple Music is one such service and it syncs seamlessly with an iPhone. Connect using Bluetooth to a speaker at home and listen over Wi-Fi, or download your favourite playlists for a road trip or to block out noise if someone in the hiking hut is snoring. Google Play Music is a similar service for Android devices. From R30 per month at

Spurcycle bicycle bell A bike bell is a crucial piece of kit for any cyclist. It alerts others to your presence on the trail or in the street and it could prevent a nasty accident. This one has a clear, loud ring. It costs a small fortune, but it has a lifetime guarantee. If you can’t stomach the price, there’s a Chinese-made replica called the Rock Brothers bell, which looks the same but costs half as much (R380 at From R799 at

First Ascent Apple Jacket This jacket squashes down to the size of an apple – hence the name. It’s a lightweight outer shell to keep you dry in a light rain shower or to keep you warm in a chilly wind. Stick it in your jersey pocket if you’re going cycling, or in the side pouch of your backpack on a hike. If the weather turns, you’ll be very thankful you did. R849 at

Shweshwe picnic blanket Every household needs one of these proudly South African picnic blankets. The one I bought was made by Richard and Precious Mahuni, who live in Cape Town. The blanket is durable and the underside is waterproof, it has a carry strap and it’s available in a range of beautiful colours. Measuring 1,8 m x 2 m, it’s big enough for the whole family and the dog. R450 084 830 0175 (Richard)

Stainless steel water bottle A water bottle that will last 18 years – that’s what I want! My kids are now 3 and 6 years old and their water bottles accompany them to school and on weekend getaways in the mountains. I tried several plastic bottles over the years, but after a few months of use, bits and pieces invariably start breaking off. This year, I’ll put two durable stainless steel bottles under the Christmas tree. R200 at outdoorwarehouse.

Guide to Birds of the Kruger National Park I’ve had my eye on this bird guide for a while now. It’s slimmer than a more comprehensive guide (224 pages as opposed to 500+ pages), which makes it easier to track down the bird you’re looking for. It’s also lightweight enough to carry in your backpack on one of the guided hikes in the park. But the feather in this guide’s cap is the Kruger-specific information. Did you know that the rare African wood-owl can only be seen next to the Luvuvhu River? And if you spot a goliath heron next to the Sabie or Crocodile rivers, take a closer look: It might actually be a similar-looking purple heron. R220 at December 2017 79


Stanley coffeemaker

Hoity Toity Pallet Chic bird feeder Yes, we’d all prefer to do our birdwatching in Pafuri, but your garden also has a lot to offer. Attract birds with a bird feeder and you can listen to birdsong before work each morning. Feeders come in all shapes and sizes but they’re not all equal. This is a goodie: It’s made from pallet wood, it’s not too expensive and it will look good in any tree. R200 at

Want to make friends in the campsite? Take out your Stanley coffeemaker and invite your neighbours over. There are two models on offer: a 6-cup percolator, which is more affordable and good for making coffee in the campsite; and the Mountain Vacuum Bottle Coffee System set, which is what you need if you require caffeine at all times. The lid of the latter separates into two cups and the vacuum-insulated bottle will keep your brew hot for up to 24 hours. R950 at (6-cup percolator); R1 199 at (Mountain Vacuum Bottle Coffee System)

LK’s enamel potjie The traditional cast-iron potjie is still popular, but now there’s a new potjie in town. This one is also made of cast iron, but coated in a layer of enamel (blue, red or green). Not only does it look great on the coals, it’s also much easier to clean. From R1 299 at

First Ascent Lunar hiking tent When it comes to a tent, buying cheap will cost you in the long run. The fabric can tear and leak and a broken zip will ruin the vibe of your Drakensberg escape. Rather invest in this two-man tent. It’s not one of those instant ones that takes three seconds to pitch (and three hours to wrestle back into its carry bag) but it’s still easy enough. I usually manage to strike camp in about 20 minutes. When packed away, it’s smaller and lighter than my girlfriend’s handbag. R2 199 at 80 December 2017


Meet Spark, a mini drone that features all of DJI’s signature technologies, allowing you to seize the moment whenever you feel inspired. With intelligent flight control options, a mechanical gimbal, and a camera with incredible image quality, Spark empowers you to push your creative boundaries. FEATURES




With FaceAware, Spark lifts off from your hand by recognising your face. It takes off and hovers in place within seconds of powering on.

Take amazing aerial photos using just hand gestures, without a remote controller or mobile device.

Intelligent Flight Modes and intuitive controls help you create cinematic aerial videos with just a few taps.




The DJI GO 4 app features automatic editing templates and an array of filters. Quickly edit videos and share them straight to social media.

With ActiveTrack, Spark automatically recognises objects of different shapes and sizes then tracks them according to what they are and how fast they move.

Deep learning gesture recognition allows you to take selfies with simple hand motions. With PalmControl mode, control Spark’s movement by hand.

Now available at



Basotho blanket

30 Seconds Booster 2 When it comes to board games, 30 Seconds remains a firm favourite. That said, if you play often enough, you’ll start to remember the cards and the clues will get predictable. Luckily new cards are introduced regularly – this second booster pack contains 240 new cards. R200 at toy stores

A quality blanket can last a lifetime, sometimes even generations. These wool blankets are durable and available in a number of designs that hold special significance for the people of Lesotho. Once, during a visit to the Drakensberg, I managed to buy a turquoise-and-orange blanket with a mielie print, but I had to roam the back streets of Phuthaditjhaba to find it. If only I had known about the Aranda website! Visit the website to see the different designs. They also sell travelling rugs and throws. Price on request at

Microscope Growing up in the time before iPads, my brother and I had to get creative on rainy days and quiet Sunday afternoons. We read books, played Monopoly and studied the natural world through the lens of a microscope. Every time we put something between the two glass plates (a feather, pollen, the antenna of a dead moth), we were amazed at what is invisible to the naked eye. I’d like to believe that my microscope encouraged me to be curious about the world from an early age. R685 at (currently on special for R376 while stock lasts)

K-Way Sherpa Expedition PVC Duffel Bag This bag is not just nice to look at, it’s also dust-proof and waterproof. I have no desire to climb the seven highest peaks on earth, but it’s nice to know that my bag would survive. It’s well suited for motorbike touring, boat cruises, 4x4 expeditions or just about any other adventure you can dream up. R1 500 at Cape Union Mart

Ryobi Dual Power Stereo It’s wonderful to sit in a quiet campsite and listen to the sounds of the bush at night, but I also like a bit of Johnny Cash around the campfire. This radio works off an 18 V Ryobi battery – the same one that powers my Ryobi cordless drill – or you can plug it into an extension lead. It has a USB socket to charge your cellphone, and Bluetooth connectivity. R1 878 at Mica 82 December 2017

Carma Pet bed Am I breaking the rules by asking for something my four-legged family member can enjoy? I want my pooch to be comfortable when she’s chasing rabbits in her dreams. This mattress can be used indoors and outdoors and the outer layer is made from heavy-duty 600 D material. It weighs only 2 kg, folds up to take less space when travelling and dries quickly. R350 at


Spending time in the wilderness need not be intimidating. Here are six overlanding solutions to make camping easier and to help you explore further for longer.

National Luna is the preferred supplier to Avis Safari Rentals and their extensive fleet of fully equipped 4x4s. These vehicles tour some of the most remote places in Africa and demand the best in equipment, reliability and backup service.

Visit for more information or call 011 392 5202.


Embrace the ice age

Take power with you

Nothing has revolutionised an outdoor way of life quite like the 12 V camping fridge. Gone are the days of melted ice and floating lamb chops – now you can run a powerful fridge at ice-cream-freezing temperatures for more than 24 hours on a single battery charge. But efficiency isn’t the only thing that matters. Backup service and reliability are also key features to consider when purchasing a fridge/freezer, along with the fridge’s ability to perform in extreme heat and when exposed to excessive vehicle vibration. National Luna’s fridges tick all these boxes. They’re designed and manufactured in Africa, for Africa.

Dual-battery power is great, but “power on the move” is even better! Our portable power packs have travelled the globe, from the toughest overland routes in Africa to the furthest reaches of the Australian Outback. It’s drop-proof, shock-proof and bang-proof, and it will keep your campsite running smoothly no matter where you are. The National Luna Portable Power Pack is easy to install and features a built-in dual-battery system, an accurate battery monitor and multiple outlet plugs.

Box clever For a number of years, National Luna had repeated requests to manufacture a no-frills auxiliary battery box that would make it easier to connect electronic devices to a 12 V battery. Instead of just slapping together a plain old plastic box with limited features, the new Auxiliary Battery Box can be fully customised. Yes! Save money by choosing which connection types you require: a DIN/Hella connection, a cigar socket, countless USB ports? The choice is yours!

For more information and other overland solutions, visit or call 011 452 5438.

ADVERTORIAL Get your backup system sorted As 12 V refrigeration becomes more powerful and efficient, so too does the need for bullet-proof backup power. And what could be more reliable than a mechanically proven solenoid system, trusted for 20 years? Indeed, National Luna’s onboard dual-battery system has been serving the worldwide 4x4, boating and caravan markets since 1997. It’s the dual-battery setup of choice for Avis Safari Rentals and their fleet of hard-working Ford Rangers and Toyota Land Cruisers.

Let there be light

Charge it right Batteries are expensive. If you don’t look after yours, it won’t last. To make matters worse, and contrary to popular belief, most vehicle journeys are not long enough to fully recharge a deep-cycle battery, which is why you should connect your auxiliary battery to an Intelligent Maintenance Charger when it’s not in use. If not, you’ll do permanent damage to the battery. After extensive research into battery technology and recharge/discharge curves, it became clear that battery maintenance is a critically ignored subject. That’s why National Luna invested more than three years into developing this charger. It boasts an eight-step charging program that allows the charger to optimally analyze and restore your battery. Best of all, you can leave it connected for an indefinite period, without the risk of damaging or over-charging the battery.

DID YOU KNOW? • National Luna is the only camping fridge manufacturer in South Africa. • National Luna was the first company in the world to design and manufacture a dual-compartment fridge/freezer that used a single compressor. This product was released in 2002 and it took 10 years before the first Chinese copy appeared on the market. • All National Luna fridges are manufactured and tested to tropical spec (43° C), the highest international fridge/freezer test specification. • National Luna boasts the world’s widest range of 12 V camping fridges.


Here’s the thing about outdoor lighting: Sometimes you need a lot; other times you want less. The only thing worse than a harsh camping light that ruins the ambience is a dinky light that doesn’t let you see anything. National Luna has an extensive range of LED camping lights, which are all fitted with multiple brightness modes, from easy-onthe-eye to blindingly brilliant. Each also has a dual-colour mode (red or yellow), which doesn’t attract insects. There’s even a helpful blue light on the back to make your light easy to find in the dark. (Great for caravan and trailer owners.) Each light is water-resistant and fitted with a polycarbonate lens/diffuser that’s almost unbreakable, and each has a built-in battery protection feature that automatically shuts down the light to prevent it from draining your vehicle’s battery.

Established in 1987, National Luna is a leading specialist in 12 V outdoor products, and the preferred supplier to all major off-road trailer and caravan manufacturers in South Africa. National Luna products are available at all leading outdoor and 4x4 stores.

Visit or 011 452 5438 to find a dealer near you.


NEW-AGE DIESEL FOR THE LONG HAUL Shirking public perception, Audi has returned with a winning diesel engine in its new Q5 luxury people-mover.


o you remember the Dieselgate scandal in 2015? The one that saw the Volkswagen Group being fined in excess of R22 billion for emissions cheating, causing huge damage to their corporate image in the process? Heads rolled like bowling balls and every new diesel-powered VW and Audi “disappeared” overnight from US showrooms, where the bombshell first dropped. But nothing smooths over controversy faster than the sands of time and Audi has been brave enough to equip the entry-level version of their new, secondgeneration Q5 SUV with – you guessed it – a diesel engine. And do you know what? The world’s a better place already: underneath the Audi’s bonnet and in the cockpit. The new Q5 is bigger, lighter, smarter and more frugal than its

BY BRAAM PEENS predecessors, but unfortunately a little pricier, too. It needs to be because it faces stiff competition from other luxury SUVs in the segment like the Mercedes GLC, the Jaguar F-Pace, the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Volvo XC60. At 4,66 m long and 1,89 m wide, the new Q5 is actually big enough to transport five adults. However, it’s a tad too small to fit a third row of seats. Short of a Rolls-Royce, you get the bestmade and quietest interior in the business, as well as a vehicle that prides itself on class-leading safety (it stops automatically if it detects a pedestrian in the street), entertainment (wirelessly charge any suitable cellphone) and connectivity (up to eight devices can be simultaneously linked to the onboard Wi-Fi). Portable devices are welcome; your petrol card less so. The new Q5

has a claimed range of 1 327 km. If you drive from Joburg, you’ll only have to fill up in Worcester. Astonishing if true. The Q5 is also sold with a 2-litre or 3-litre petrol engine, but the diesel is a no-brainer for longhaulers. Occasionally, something good can come of something bad, as evidenced by this diesel Audi.



Engine Power Torque Transmission Top speed Fuel consumption Tank Boot space Warranty Maintenance plan Service intervals Price

1 968 cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel 140 kW @ 3 800 rpm 400 Nm @ 3 800 – 4 200 rpm Seven-speed automatic 218 km/h 4,9 ℓ/100 km 65 ℓ 510 ℓ 2 years/unlimited km 5 years/100 000 km As determined by the on-board computer R698 000 December 2017 87


DRIVE THROUGH THE KNYSNA FOREST Join go! and Bhejane 4x4 Adventures on a scenic day trip deep in the Knysna Forest.


It’s a day outing that starts at 8.30 am and ends just after lunch. WHEN?

Every day of the year (except Christmas Day). Book at least one day in advance. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

R400 per adult in your own vehicle; R500 if you drive with us in one of our vehicles. R200 for students and R100 per child under 10 years. DO I NEED A 4X4?

No, a 4x2 will suffice or you can drive with us in our vehicle. WHERE DOES THE TOUR START?

From the Sasol service station in Harkerville on the N2 (halfway between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay). WHAT MUST I BRING?

• Yourself and your family • Your own vehicle and fuel • Drinks and snacks



Lunch at the Diepwalle Forestry Station is included and we stop at one of the river crossings for tea and coffee. THE PRICE INCLUDES

• • • •

Park entrance fees Use of two-way radios Lunch A professional tour leader and an experienced guide


Only six vehicles can be accommodated on each tour. This is not a technical 4x4 route and no previous 4x4 experience is required. Should there be any bad patches on the road, the Bhejane team is on hand to help out with their experience and recovery gear. The tour leader from Bhejane 4x4 Adventures and an experienced field guide are in constant contact with the vehicles via two-way radios and will gladly share their environmental and historical knowledge with you.

HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to be inside the world of Dalene Matthee’s stories, populated with phantom elephants, giant yellowwoods and lush ferns, here’s your chance. SANParks has awarded Bhejane 4x4 Adventures the exclusive rights to do day trips into the inner sanctum of the Knysna Forest. On this tour you’ll experience indigenous yellowwood and stinkwood trees, ferns, bushbuck, blue duikers and Knysna turacos. You might even see an elephant. On your drive you will learn more about the fauna and flora, the Italian settlers who hoped to make their fortune in the silk trade, and the woodcutters and lost travellers. We meet at Harkerville, about halfway between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, just off the N2. Here, the Bhejane team explains the day’s events and hands out two-way radios before we take to the tracks through the Diepwalle Forestry area. The first stretch is a gravel road through the forest and our first encounter with the area’s legendary trees: Outeniqua yellowwood, stinkwood, wild elder, ironwood, Cape beech, Cape ash, candlewood… Then the forest becomes closer and the track narrower. We drive through tree tunnels so dense they even shut out daylight. The lushest ferns grow among the indigenous trees. The forest is also home to many bird species. When we stop for a break, listen out for the distinctive “Piet-my-vrou” call of the red-chested cuckoo or the Knysna turaco’s “korr-korr-korr-korr”. On our next stop you’ll learn more about the woodcutters who lived here in the 1700s and 1800s. They laboured deep in the forest, felling trees and creating paths. Then we continue our tour along a narrow, winding track surrounded by green vegetation. We end the day with a lunch prepared by members of the local community at the Diepwalle Forestry Station before everyone takes a leisurely drive back to the N2. You will leave the forest, but you will carry the experience with you forever.

Call 044 535 9033 (telephone or fax) or e-mail;

THIS WEEKEND Stay near the Gariep Dam or on the river in Stanford, and browse Gauteng’s markets. STAY HERE • TAKE FIVE • TOWN





hrow a dart at the middle of South Africa and you’ll probably hit the Gariep Dam – a popular and sensible overnight spot if you’re travelling from Gauteng to the beaches of the Eastern or Western Cape this summer. These cottages are just south of the dam, next to the R58 about 9 km west of Venterstad. You might have driven past before and noticed the small statue of a horse at the farm entrance: It’s a horse stud, but they also breed Nguni cattle, merino sheep and indigenous veld goats. The farm is owned by Schalk and Christa van der Walt and their daughter Marené manages the cottages. She’s also a great cook: Book beforehand for a three-course dinner (R220 per person) and you’ll eat like a king. When I last visited, I had a lamb shank that I still dream about sometimes. Many of Marené’s dishes are made using family recipes and almost everything comes from the veld or from the vegetable garden and fruit orchards. You can also order a picnic basket, a braai pack (R120 per person) or breakfast (R100 per person). Meals for kids younger than 12 are cheaper. You can walk on the farm or bring your mountain bike and explore. No pets allowed. Facilities: Two fully equipped self-catering cottages: Lavender (four adults, one child) and The Farm Cottage (four adults, two children). Four big en suite double rooms: Angelica, Borage, Cottonwood and Chamomile (there’s a sleeper couch for a child in Angelica and Cottonwood). There’s a restaurant, a bar area, braai facilities overlooking the Karoo plains, and a small pool when the sun gets too hot. Rates: Lavender R1 400 per unit; Farm Cottage R1 450. Angelica, Borage, Cottonwood and Chamomile: R450 per person sharing. Discounts for children aged 3 – 11. Contact: 051 654 0302; 082 494 3895 (send a WhatsApp message because cellphone reception is poor); – Toast Coetzer

December 2017 89




JUST CHILL. This self-catering house on the banks of the Klein River has everything you need for a relaxing weekend away: a fireplace, a swimming pool, a braai... But bring your own kayak to paddle on the river.

90 December 2017


hey say that home is where the heart is, and this spacious self-catering house next to the Klein River will certainly steal your heart. The pastel yellow house is in a quiet street north of the main road. Park your vehicle, open the blue-green garden gate and walk up to the front door. With a little imagination, you could be in Provence for the weekend. The house is furnished with style and luxury in mind and it has everything from Le Creuset coffee mugs to a dishwasher, washing machine and a TV with DStv so the kids won’t miss out on Paw Patrol. There’s a big stoep with a braai, a green lawn and a swimming

pool. White-eyes and sunbirds flit around the garden. Walk along the riverbank and look for other birds like purple heron and African purple swamphen. About two houses downstream, there’s a nice clearing on the riverbank where you can relax next to the water. Facilities? The house sleeps eight people. The bottom floor has two double rooms (one is en suite) and a room with a bunk bed for the kids. Steep stairs lead to a third double bedroom (en suite) with a canopy bed, a Victorian-style bath and a balcony. Call dibs on this one! Things to do? You mean, besides sitting on the stoep and imagining you’re in the French countryside? You can browse the shops in

Stanford (, taste craft beer at the Birkenhead brewery ( 028 341 0013; or have a picnic at the Klein River cheese farm about 7 km from town ( 028341 0693; Niggles? The living room doesn’t get much sun. The house is nice and cool in summer, but it can be chilly and dark in winter. However, there’s a big fireplace to keep you cosy. Rates: From R2 800 per night during off-peak season (minimum two nights) to R5 350 per night in peak season (minimum 14 nights). Contact: 073 819 5472; – Esma Marnewick


Two lucky readers will each win accommodation at an Orion Hotel in South Africa, worth R12 000!





Which cooler is the coolest?

KAROO Find freedom on the Heuningland Hike


The Free State’s man of the match is...






ler Which coolest? is the coo




on the Find freedom d Hike Heuninglan

our wish list

State’s is... The Freethe match man of


Kalaha R43 (VAT INCL)

Namibia N$45,50







r wish list to add to you

alahari ri R





10 days in Witsand, Augrabies, Riemvasmaak, he Kgalagadi, Van Zylsrus and more!

, mvasmaak grabies, Rie Witsand, Au re! 10 days in srus and mo adi, Van Zyl the Kgalag


R22 per issue R258 per year*

Orion Hotels and Resorts have 10 properties across South Africa, ranging from heritage hotels and luxury estates to country retreats and private game lodges. The three- to fivestar accommodation caters to all your needs, whether you’re looking for a place to spend a family holiday, or a conference or wedding venue. THE PRIZE INCLUDES: Two readers will each win a two-day stay for two people at one of the Orion Hotels located in Gauteng, Limpopo, KZN and North West, including dinner, bed and breakfast. For bookings and more info call 086 199 1199 or e-mail

(Save R258 per year) FREE delivery *12 months from starting month issue Offer valid until 18 December 2017

FOR PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS: Call 087 740 1036 or SMS “gosubs” to 32361 and we will call you back; or e-mail FOR DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS: Visit; call 087 741 3177; e-mail Terms and conditions apply: The prize is valid for two couples only – no children under the age of 18. Accommodation excludes lunch and drinks. Any extra days will be at the winner’s own cost. The accommodation is worth R6 000 per winner so Orion Hotels will only provide accommodation at the same value. Book in advance to secure your stay.

Weekends are for markets! If you live in Joburg or Pretoria, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend markets. Some will suit early birds looking for fresh produce and coffee; others are for friends looking to catch up over brunch and bubbly. Here’s our pick. WORDS & PICTURES SAM REINDERS

Fourways Farmers Market There’s lots to love about this market and it’s our pick for a great Sunday morning in the ’burbs. It’s a true family experience: Grandmas help change nappies on picnic blankets, hip youngsters search for hangover cures and post-Parkrun friends chat over coffee while their toddlers roar around on their bikes. There’s still the odd selfie, but it’s for the family scrapbook rather than Instagram. The market has a great garden feel: The ground is covered in wood chips and pine cones and there are hedges that cordon off patches of grass where you can lay down your picnic blanket and set up a base for the morning. There are straw bales and wooden stumps to sit on, and we all know that lots of seating is one of the signs of a good market! There’s live music of the chilled, background kind, bunting flapping in the breeze and food – so much food! If you try hard enough, you can fit in breakfast, brunch and lunch! We can recommend the “Joplin” (R65) from Woodstock Waffle – a waffle smothered in white chocolate sauce with grilled pear, cinnamon and pecan nuts. Kids will love this market. There’s someone doing magic tricks, milkshakes in every colour of the rainbow and loads of space to run around and play safely. Pro tip: Come at about 10 am when parking hasn’t yet become a problem and beat the lunchtime rush at SumTing Fresh, which seems to be one of the most popular stalls if the queue is anything to go by. (They sell gourmet grilled chicken, fish tacos and other deliciousness.) On your way out, drop some change into Arthur’s violin case. He plays at this market and at some others in town, too. Stand for a minute and listen. He’s a virtuoso! When? Sundays from 9 am to 4 pm. Cost? R10 gets you in. Where? Opposite Montecasino on William Nicol Drive. More info: December 2017 93


Bryanston Organic Market This market is organic in two respects: It was one of Joburg’s first markets, long before Saturday markets were a thing, and their healthy food game is strong. Sample one of the Raw Wizard’s delicious vegan products or meet the charming Dalia Tzror – otherwise known as Mrs Bread Care – who has had a stall at the market for nearly two decades. Taste one of her artisanal breads and you’ll see how much she cares! The stalls are semi-permanent and covered, making this market one of the best for a rainy weekend. It also changes the vibe somewhat: Everyone seems to know everyone and many people come weekly to stock up. Fido can come along too, if he’s on a leash. The market works using a nifty centralized cashier system: Do your rounds and each stall holder will give you an invoice. Take your invoices to one of the many cashier points and pay using cash, SnapScan or card, then return to the various stalls with stamped copies of your invoices and collect your purchases. (Some signposted stalls accept cash directly; no ATM on site.) What to buy or try: Many stalls sell top-quality crafts and clothing. Look out for Chappy Holtzhausen’s beautiful hand-lathed pens and other products. And don’t leave before you’ve sipped a cup of chai from Meera’s for only R10 – it’s the best I’ve had outside India. When? Thursday, Saturday and public holidays from 9 am to 3 pm. There are also moonlight markets closer to Christmas time. Where? 40 Culross Road (off Main Road) in Bryanston, on the grounds of the Michael Mount Waldorf School. More info: 011 706 3671;

94 December 2017

Neighbourgoods Market The Neighbourgoods Market in Joburg started off as the younger sibling of the same popular market in Cape Town. But like all younger siblings, it grew into its takkies faster than you can blink. The vibe (and some of the vendors) is the same at both markets. Neighbourgoods is fast-paced, urban and fabulously photogenic. Expect high fashion and hipster hats. There are a handful of stalls selling vintage clothing and accessories and even a stall called Plato’s Beard that offers all the oils and balms you need to keep your beard manicured. However, it’s the food and fun that keeps this market packed to the brim. A busy day can see more than 4 000 people hustling for a spot in one of the food queues. (If you’re in a group, use the “divide and conquer” tactic: Send at least one person on a mission to find a base while the others go and forage.) Market favourites include oysters (easy to slurp down while holding a glass of bubbly; order early because they sell out quickly), paella (cooked in planet-sized pans) and gourmet toasted cheese sandwiches (try the “Kevin Bacon” – never has a humble grilled cheese sarmie tasted so good). Listen to live music and sample the wide selection of craft beer and cocktails served in Consol jars, or even in fresh coconuts with their noggins lobbed off. Most of the food is best enjoyed on site, but you can also browse for cupcakes and other goodies to take home. Be sure to visit Victoria Meat for some of the best Polish sausage south of, well, Poland. Neighbourgoods is mostly indoors and it’s guaranteed to be buzzing whatever the weather. Pro tip: Scared of visiting downtown Joburg? Don’t be. Braamfontein is on the up – if you have time after visiting the market, check out the surrounding coffee shops and art galleries. When? Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm, and in the evening on the first Thursday of every month (First Thursdays). Cost? Visiting the market is free, but the best and closest parking comes with a price tag – anything from R10 to R40. Where? 73 Juta Street, Braamfontein More info: December 2017 95


Rosebank Sunday Market A market on the fifth floor of a parking garage doesn’t sound very enticing, but give the Rosebank Market a chance and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Because it’s in a mall, you can even do your weekly shop or catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster at the same time! There are about 250 vendors and everything is well organised. Each section is separate – antiques, crafts, flea market, food and clothes – which makes browsing a breeze. It also reduces the likelihood of losing your husband, mom or kids. (Yes, we know this happens all the time!) Forget about designer produce – this market is all about stuff. You can buy anything from an etching made on elephant-dung paper to Princess Di memorabilia, second-hand books, vintage ammo boxes, a plastic skeleton or a working typewriter (for only R300). But it’s not just about stuff: The kids will love the jumping castle and you can get your palm read or have one of the best Thai foot massages you’ll ever experience (15 minutes, R70). There are also lots of food stalls with long tables for the whole family. Or scoot up next to someone and make a new friend. Pro tip: Tired of driving after a week of commuting? No problem. There’s a Gautrain station at the mall. Catch a ride. When? Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. Where? Upper Level, The Mall of Rosebank Contact:

96 December 2017

Pretoria Boeremark


You have to be a real early bird for this market. People start queueing from 5.30 on a Saturday morning for pap and kaiings, coffee and melkkos. In the dark, headlamps are trained on the freshest produce, before the sun rises. This 20-year-old farmer’s market used to be at the Pioneer Museum, but when the lease expired it moved to another location in Silverton. In all other respects, however, everything is still the same: Tables are laden with fresh vegetables, meat, hand-made items, preserves, baked goods, flowers and plants. “We didn’t just move the nearly 250 stalls to a new location, we brought the vibe as well,” says Johan van Wyk, manager of the market. Joao da Silva, who farms near Cullinan, has manned a stall at this market since 1999. “It’s fun to see familiar faces,” he says. Customers can order their vegetables from him beforehand via WhatsApp. The baskets are then assembled at his stall. You can browse the stalls, enjoy a cup of coffee and pick up your basket before you leave. Japie van Staden, his neighbour in Cullinan, sells proteas at his stall nearby. Cullinan is well presented at the market and its cheese and milk products fly off the shelves. But it’s not just delicious food that lures people here. Everything from clothes and bolts of fabric to handmade pepper grinders is sold. There is even a goldsmith that repairs and sells jewellery. By 9.30 am, the stall owners start to pack up and an hour later the grounds are deserted. To think it’s all over by the time other people get out of bed. When? Saturday from 5.30 am to 10.30 am. Where? 665 Moreleta Street, Silverton; about 1,5 km from the Pioneer Museum where the market was previously held. Contact: 082 416 3900 (Johan) – Alet Pretorius December 2017 97

FALLING FOR VAL Leaving Gauteng this holiday? Make sure you stop over in this tiny town you’ve never heard of. WORDS & PICTURES IAN MCNAUGHT DAVIS


n hour and a half from Joburg, on the golden brown plains of Mpumalanga, between a railway line and a river, you’ll find the town of Val. With three streets and fewer permanent inhabitants than a touring Springbok squad, you’d think Val was a one-horse town. Well, it isn’t. It’s a half-horse town. Rita Britz from the Val Hotel tells me that the town shares a horse with Greylingstad. The first thing you notice when you drive into Val are the shoes. They dangle in a clump on a wire strung across the main road, swaying in the breeze. It was Rita and her husband Andre who threw the first pair over the wire, which now sags with donated takkies. The act was inspired by the Afrikaans saying “Om jou skoene agterna te gooi”, meaning to give thanks. They’ve got a lot to be thankful for: After decades of DIY, they’ve rebuilt a dishevelled hotel on a derelict railway siding and revived a village that has witnessed far more history than its size suggests. The Britzes have sentimental reasons for restoring Val, too. Rita’s forefathers farmed around here for eight generations, and now the land has returned to family hands.

GREEN GRASS & BLUE SKY (above). Cows graze on a part of the original Oudehoutspruit farm – bought in the 1800s by a certain Joseph Smith, who later sold a section to the South African government for a railway station to be built. The town of Val grew around the station. Opposite page, from the top: DOWN THE AISLE. A lightning storm in 1970 caused a fire at Val's little Anglican church, the chapel of St Francis of Assisi, but thankfully the sandstone walls survived. These days, couples exchange wedding vows under its new roof. TIME TRAVEL. From antiques to faded photographs to rusting Zam-Buk tins, the Val museum is brimming with memorabilia. RAISING THE BAR. If you want a burger, a beer or breakfast, head to the Moeggeploegkroeg. Take your time with the menu – it's filled with historical snippets and stories about the town. 100 December 2017

It’s early afternoon in the Moeggeploegkroeg, the Val Hotel bar, and an Australian miner is fed up. He has been ordered by his boss to stay in Val instead of in Joburg. “What am I doing in Fall?” he asks, slamming his beer down theatrically. Being an Aussie miner, his language is more colour­ ful than reported, but not as colourful as the neon safety gear he’s wearing – an equally Australian tendency. Give him about half an hour, I think to myself. That’s the thing about Val – it takes a while to adjust to the unexpected peacefulness that seeps into you – mostly through the ambient sounds. First you’ll notice the absence of urban cacophony. Then you’ll hear the distant bickering and squabbling of the local geese that patrol the village. Finally, your ears will do a double take when they pick up Portuguese mutterings coming from the sky. You’ll follow the mutterings to find a megaphone fixed to a streetlight playing LM Radio from Maputo. Since most of Val is so unexpected, a DJ whispering sweet nothings in a foreign language doesn’t seem out of place at all. It wasn’t always like this. The sounds that defined Val in the early days were the heaving, thudding, screeching, sighing and grunting

of trains. These noises first echoed across the plains in 1896, when Paul Kruger realised he needed something stronger than stagecoaches to haul gold from the Lowveld back to Joburg. Joseph Smith, who owned the farm Oude­ houtspruit on the banks of the Waterval River, offered a portion of his farm to the government, which became the town of Waterval – shortened to “Val” in a few years’ time. Soon enough, Val had a railway station, a general dealer, a post office, a hotel, a roller mill and a blacksmith’s forge. Three years later, the Anglo­Boer War broke out and Joseph Smith – being on good terms with his Afrikaner neighbours – declared his neutrality and left Val for the remainder of the war. His wife Elizabeth stayed on to run the farm and the businesses. Apparently, she would have tea on the stoep with her neighbours, then excuse herself to serve rations to English soldiers at the kitchen door. On 29 December 1900, the sound of trains was interrupted by the bang of an iron­ wrenching, black­powder explosion. Two Boer brothers, Jack and Gert van den Heever, had planted a bomb beneath the tracks about 4 km from Val. A band of Boers bristling with Mauser rifles held up the train, captured

TOWN VAL British soldiers and relieved the train of its cargo: five ox wagons’ worth of liquor. Just in time for a riotous New Year’s Eve jol. The party was one for the books. Booze was freely shared with the captured British prisoners while Jack van den Heever, being the man of the moment and having sufficient Dutch courage, convinced a senior commando to give him his daughter’s hand in marriage – which he duly did after the war. Despite the fireworks earlier on the train tracks, there were no casualties. The train brought post, news and gossip to the hamlet for years, but the biggest news to leave Val happened after Jan Smuts, Louis Botha and Koen Britz met at the Val Hotel on 6 April 1902, in a small room that is now the hotel library. At the meeting, they discussed the Treaty of Vereeniging, which led to the end of the second Anglo-Boer War. Val has played host to other auspicious historical figures, but not all of them have stayed over in a hotel room. In the middle of a peace march from Durban to Johannesburg, Mahatma Gandhi was arrested in Val and forced to spend a night in its tiny jail. Refusing to eat the jail’s meaty fare, a certain Mrs Janoo – grandmother of Latib Janoo who still owns a shop down the road – was summoned to cook a vegetarian dish for the future liberator of India.

WHAT THE HOTEL STAFF SAY “It’s quiet, nice, cool… There’s no noise. No crime.” – Tsitsi Joseph, housekeeping manager “Lekker! No tsotsis!” – Sarah Sibeloane, laundry manager “Charmant paysage (lovely landscape).” – Nana Kasongo, chef “Kumnandi (very nice)!” – Lindo Butelezi, barman “Trés calme (very calm).” – Raymond Muvala, barman

The sun follows the railway tracks west towards the horizon and two families (who’ve profoundly inflated Val’s population by staying in the self-catering cottages) shunt braais onto the roadside verges. Val is safe. Children run around by themselves, chase geese on bicycles and explore the train station. The town is clean, peaceful and full of interesting sites to visit at an easy amble – a perfect break on your way out of the Highveld. As guests migrate to the Moeggeploegkroeg to watch the rugby, the sun’s last rays slide off a distant silo and slice through the laces of the swaying shoes on the wire. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” – broadcast from Mozambique – drifts into the evening air from the speaker on the streetlight. Ninety minutes later – amid the ja, well, no, fines of Cheetahs supporters reluctantly shaking hands with Bulls fans holding back their smugness – the grumpy Australian has commandeered a guitar and is belting out “House of the Rising Sun” in a drain-cleaning drone. Glowing in his orange overalls – and from self-confidence – he’s forever thankful that his boss ordered him to stay in Val. I’m betting that his steel-toe safety boots are going to end up on the wire before the morning train pulls in. December 2017 101





How to get there: Val is about 150 km south-east of Joburg via the N3, the R23 and the R547. GPS: S26.79686 E28.93572 Browse the museum: Antiques and artefacts from Val’s fascinating history are on display here. Check out the old telephone operator’s exchange. You can visit the museum (and church) any time. If the doors are closed, call Rita on 082 550 5540 and she’ll give you a bunch of keys to explore Val at your leisure. Go to church: The Church of St Francis of Assisi was built in 1964. 102 December 2017


Six years later, lightning struck the church and destroyed its roof. All that remained were the sandstone walls, a family Bible and a pew. The church has since been rebuilt. Add your shoes: Pack some old takkies, tie the laces together and fling them over the wire to join the rest! Visit the monuments: Rita Britz will give you a map and you can drive out to memorials and monuments in the area, including the monument to the infamous Whiskey Train, some

Voortrekker graves, a monument to the Unknown Soldier, tributes to Commandant Claassen (Croix de Guerre) and Surgeon Captain Arthur Martin-Leake (VC and Bar) and the Smith cemetery. Eat here: The Moeggeploegkroeg has a cosy atmosphere and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try the pub lunch – a 200 g sirloin, egg and chips for R85. On Sundays between noon and 2 pm, you can pile your plate with Rita’s roast, complete with home-made chicken pie, vegetables, crispy potatoes, rice and lashings of gravy. Pace yourself

because there’s delicious dessert to follow. Sunday lunch costs R150; half-price for children under 10; free for children under 5. Stay here: The hotel has 12 rooms. Double room from R650 per night; single from R600 per night. There are six self-catering cottages; rates from R800 for two people plus R150 per extra person. There’s also a backpacker lodge that sleeps 15: R150 per person. Contact: Andre and Rita Britz 082 550 5540;;


Don’t let a bad battery system ruin your holiday Andre van Vuuren is a tour guide with Fly Africa Safaris and he has more than 18 years of overlanding experience in Africa. He’s led more than a thousand vehicles across the border, as far as Uganda, and he has worked on many dual-battery systems, deep-cycle batteries and charging systems. Here’s his advice.


have seen technology evolve from a cooler box packed with dry ice to a fridge connected directly to the vehicle’s main battery. Then solenoid systems took over the market and today we have vehicles with smart alternators, absorbent glass matt (AGM) batteries and best of all, DC-to-DC chargers. People have argued for many years about which split-charging system is the best, but with the latest alternator and battery technology, we need to admit that solenoid technology is outdated. It served the market very well for many years, but DC-to-DC charging is the future. Most vehicles still have an older lead acid battery as its main cranking battery, and the alternator is designed to charge that battery. However, with the use of an “intelligent charging system” the unit can be programmed to specifically charge more specialised auxiliary batteries (AGM, lead calcium or gel).

It is important to remember that a battery is just a storage tank and it will not determine the efficiency of the system. The most important factors are the efficiency of the charging system and the condition of the battery. Although driving time also plays a role, it is not as important as the other two factors. A DC-to-DC charger will always charge the second battery to 100 % – the same cannot be said of a solenoid system. A solenoid system will initially charge a depleted battery quicker to a certain point, but it won’t be able to charge the battery to full capacity. It will take a little longer for a DC-to-DC charger to charge the same battery, but it will restore the status of the battery and charge it to full capacity. It is extremely important to use the correct charging method. If incorrect charging methods are used, it may result in premature battery failure or permanent battery damage. The InterVOLT DCC Pro DC-DC charging system has endured vigorous testing in Africa that has led to some impressive results. The greatest benefit is the unit’s ability to perform at 20% at temperatures

between 50° C and 85° C. (All other chargers in this category switch off at 50° C). It will also remain effective to an operating humidity of up to 98 %. The DCC Pro has a multitude of features with great benefits: • The unit is IP67 rated, with unrivalled temperature performance. It can safely be fitted under the bonnet of the vehicle, in a dust-proof and waterproof casing. • The unit comes standard with an in-cab display, which gives you accurate battery performance from the comfort of the driver’s seat. The display system allows you to keep track of two individual chargers from one display monitor. • The built-in MPPT solar controller allows for optimal charging in the sun. • The unit will correctly charge AGM, gel, deep-cycle calcium and lead acid batteries. • The unit works with all newer “smart alternators” currently available, and will give true 25-amp charging. This revolutionary charging system is made in Australia for the harsh conditions of the Outback and Africa. As a standalone power conversion


unit, you require no modification to your vehicle’s original wiring and no changes are made to the manufacturer’s electrical system. Once installed, the system requires no maintenance and all necessary info is displayed in the cabin. Many other brands only display battery voltage; the InterVOLT display gives a real-time indication of charge rate, current usage and charging phase. The ability to connect more than one unit to the display is unheard of in the industry. Monitoring up to four batteries at once allows a user to maintain batteries in a trailer or offroad caravan while travelling.

SO WHAT IS MY RECOMMENDATION? I would choose a flooded wet-cell deep-cycle battery like the Discover Mixtech EMX. (Buy it from a reputable battery dealer for proper fitment and warranty purposes.) This kind of battery is much less expensive than a dry-cell, EV traction battery and will perform equally well if connected to an InterVOLT DCC Pro DC-DC charging system, available from Opposite Lock and numerous 4x4 outlets.

Join us on the Garden Route


Escape into the Knysna Forest to clear your head and unknot your muscles. Join us on this four-day camping trip for scenic walks and epic views. WHEN? 6 – 9 January 2018; 9 – 12 January 2018 HOW MUCH? R5 550 per adult. Kids under 12 get 30 % discount. The rate includes all meals, activities, tented accommodation, transfers and park fees. WHERE? Diepwalle Forest, Knysna

DAY 1 Arrive at the SANParks campsite in the afternoon, where you’re free to explore the nearby museum, do one of the many hiking trails in the forest or ride your mountain bike. DAY 2 After breakfast we drive an exclusive guided route through the Knysna Forest (in your own vehicle or in our shuttle). After a picnic lunch we go on a boat ride on the Knysna Lagoon, with scenic views

of The Heads. Afterwards, we return to camp for another delicious dinner.

DAY 3 After breakfast we shuttle to Plettenberg Bay for a guided beach and forest walk, suitable for all ages. After another picnic lunch, we return to our campsite in the forest. DAY 4 The adventure comes to an end after breakfast.

BRING YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY! Get a group together for a holiday of camping, relaxing and unwinding. You’ll stay in a luxury tent and we’ll take care of the rest. You can look forward to great-tasting breakfasts and dinners and exclusive excursions in and around Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.


To book call 082 575 8499 or e-mail


Is this the toilet with the best view in Africa? We think so! Mount Nyiragongo (3 470 m) is an active volcano just north of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the view from the edge of the main crater, looking past a smaller crater towards where Goma lies shrouded in the early morning mist. Nyiragongo is part of the Albertine Rift Valley, which straddles the border between the DRC and Rwanda. The building at the bottom right of the picture is where the porters overnight. Tourists stay in A-frame huts on the crater rim, with awe-inspiring views over the bubbling pool of lava during the night. It takes about five hours to hike up the mountain and it can get very cold at the top; flurries of snow are not uncommon. Still, you have this view from the toilet to look forward to in the morning!

BY TOAST COETZER  Read Toast’s article about climbing Nyiragongo in go! #134.

122 December 2017

GG-1000-1A3 R6999

Cavendish Square • Tygervalley Center • Somerset Mall Head Office: 021 671 1130

• The Pavilion • La Lucia Mall • Musgrave Centre • Gateway • Watercrest Mall • Ballito Junction 0861 WATCHES (928243)

Call 011 675 3013 for details of your nearest Cajee’s store. Fourways • Northgate • Cradlestone • Keywest • Eastpoint Gateway - 031 566 2743 • Rustenburg Cajees - 014 537 3750

Phone us on 011 314 8888, 0861 CASIO1 or 0861 318 888 for your nearest dealer. SPECIFICATIONS AND PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE

New World Menlyn 012 368 1633 Cajees Clearwater Mall of The South

Profile for dfbdfvdfv



Profile for dfbdfvdfv