If you could show YOUR South Africa to the world…

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If you could show YOUR South Africa to the world, what would you show? If you could take a first time visitor to South Africa around YOUR South Africa, where would you take them?

Back in 2011 I met Martene in Gyeongju, South Korea and we immediately clicked over our love for languages and exploring. In 2012 we waved each other adieu but kept in contact; her journey took her to Germany and back to the States while mine sent me back to South Africa (where I worked in Knysna), back to South Korea and back to South Africa again. We talked about meeting up multiple times – especially somewhere in Africa – but it never worked out. And then she booked her tickets to South Africa…

I had two weeks to show her as much of MY South Africa as possible (while still being desk-bound from time to time because my deadlines don’t understand the concept of time). There was only one problem: I wanted to show her EVERYTHING of MY South Africa, especially my favourite spots to escape to in the Eastern Cape.

But the problem with EVERYTHING is that there is always something more. I simply can’t go from point A to B without stopping at point A.1 and A.2 as well.

“I just quickly want to show you this place, it has the most amazing view” or “Let’s go there, I used to visit often when I was a kid”.

I’ve inherited this from my parents who have a real talent for turning a 250 km stretch into a 10-hour day.

Your South Africa

Does taking someone to Map of Africa count as ‘EVERYTHING’? Asking for a friend.

Showing people – especially friends – around some my favourite sights and destinations in South Africa is a way to not only let them into the place I call home, but into South Africa’s history and future, into South Africa’s different cultures and traditions. It is a way to let someone into my childhood, my dreams and the memories I’ve made along the way.

But it is more than just showing, it is all about sharing; sharing the places that make me tick, the places that bring joy and nostalgia, the places that fill me with immense pride, gratitude and satisfaction to call a place like South Africa home.

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Every so often you are lucky enough to meet people while travelling, people who have made an impact in your life, people you are lucky enough to call friends, people who have made an effort to visit your side of the world. From left to right: Sandhira (from SA, met in South Korea), Hippy (from Taiwan, met in Nepal), Martene (from USA, met in South Korea) and Bernice (from Johannesburg, met in South Korea).

I quickly gathered a hefty number of places that flirted their way onto “the list”. But it was not places per se, it was regions, with their own fair amount of places within their borders. Of course there were the Eastern Cape bits of the Karoo, the Wild Coast, Addo Elephant National Park (duh), the Garden Route, Gamtoos Valley, Baviaanskloof and a few sights in Port Elizabeth. All places within easy reach, all places with a lot to offer, all places with dirt road alternatives or off-road opportunities that would allow me to make use of the Isuzu KB300’s lekker tyres, ground clearance and suspension… so something bumpier than normal was to be expected.

Sharing MY South Africa

The following places made “the list” but I’m hopeful to get a chance in the future to share all the other spots we didn’t visit.

Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas

Donkin Reserve and bits from Route 67.
Port Elizabeth beach front.
SANCCOB and Cape Recife Nature Reserve.
Schoenmakerskop.
Addo Elephant National Park.
Apiarist Farm Shoppe (where she suited up and joined in on an educational bee tour).
Van Stadens Pass.

Your South Africa

Karoo

Graaff-Reinet and Camdeboo National Park (Ark in the Karoo Farm Stall, Polka Restaurant, Game drive, Kwelimanzi bird hide, Valley of Desolation and the Koedoeskloof 4×4 trail – watch the video). 

Camdeboo National Park
Camdeboo National Park
Camdeboo National Park

Garden Route

Scenic drive on the R102.
Coffee stop at Oudebosch Farm Stall.
Bloukrans Pass and Groot River Pass.
Nature’s Valley (she instantly fell in love with this place).
Sedgefield (Gericke’s Point, Swartvlei and some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had at Remex Mexican Cantina).
Hoekwil.
Wilderness (Map of Africa, Touws River and The Green Shed Coffee Roastery.
Seven passes.
Knysna (The Heads, walking around Leisure Isle and Thesen Island, Buffalo Bay, stoep sitting and coffeeing at Elalini Backpackers, and of course, brunch as Ile de Pain).

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Langkloof

Scenic drive via the R339 with a stop at Diepwalle and Angie’s G Spot in De Vlugt.
Klip Hotel.
And another protea-lined nameless Langkloof back road.

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Here’s the two-week visit in a nutshell. Have a look at the video:

If you could show YOUR South Africa to the world…

I’ve asked a few people from all walks of life – from bloggers to guest house owners – to share a few places, not more than 250 km from the place they call home, that would be on the top of the list of places to go or things to do for first time visitors to their respective areas.

Sharing your south africa

This is what they had to say:

Monique van der Walt | www.moniquevanderwalt.com
Area of expertise: KwaZulu Natal, Bulwer and surrounding areas.


Di Brown | www.theroaminggiraffe.co.za.
Area of expertise: Western Cape, Cape Town and surrounding areas.


Sarah Dirsuwei | www.chasingtherainbow.net
Area of expertise: Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas.

The Dirsuwei family wrote a post on “How to show your visitors the best of Nelson Mandela Bay” a few years ago, definitely give it a read if you are visiting the Bay.


Verushka Ramasami | www.spicegoddess.co.za.
Area of expertise: KwaZulu Natal, Durban and surrounding areas.


Hennie and Sandra Cronje | www.deoudehuize.co.za and www.deoudehuizeblogspot.co.za 
Area of expertise: Free State, Harrismith and surrounding areas.


Carmen Barends | www.meanderings.co.za.
Area of expertise: KwaZulu Natal, Hilton and surrounding areas.

  • Coffee in the Midlands at Steampunk, Terbodore, Coffeesmiths and Blueberry Cafe.
  • Ziplining with Karkloof Canopy Tours.
  • Eat at The Farmers Daughter, Menu at Highgate, Hartford House and Bierfassl.
  • Karkloof Safari Spa and Villas for a safari and spa experience and hike up to the waterfalls.

Heather Mason | www.2summers.net.
Area of expertise: Gauteng, Johannesburg and surrounding areas.


Mira Weiner | Hot Oven Marketing
Area of expertise: Western Cape, McGregor/Robertson Wine Valley and surrounding areas.

  • Boesmanskloof die Galg (hiking trail between McGregor and Greyton with incredible waterfall at the halfway point).
  • Candlelight wine tasting in 100 year old underground cellar at Weltevrede Estate.
  • Garden tour of Temenos Retreat Gardens in McGregor.
  • Noddy Bus (local bakkie handcrafted into a wooden noddy bus for historical village tour of McGregor).
  • 4×4 vineyard safari tour with wine tasting and cheese platter on top of the mountain at Jan Harmsgat.

Eleanor Douglas-Meyers | www.justellabella.co.za
Area of expertise: Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas.


Nadine Rose Larter | www.passingtheopenwindows.co.za.
Area of expertise: Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas.

  • Bird of Eden (The Craggs).
  • Van Stadens Pass (the spot under the bridge).
  • Schoenmakerskop.

Now tell me.

If you could show a visitor YOUR South Africa, where would you take them?

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