52 favourite places in South Africa Week 3- Knysna

Sunset Knysna

The quaint seaside town of Knysna certainly deserves a place in my list of 52 favourite places.

In Knysna one is spoiled for choice with activities, shopping, restaurants and accommodation.

Knysna waterfront

One of my favourite things to do is to visit Featherbed Nature reserve. This 4 hour excursion to Featherbed Nature reserve situated on the Western head of the Knysna headlands (heads) is a wonderful experience. It includes a boat ride across the Knysna estaury, them a drive to the top of the head with an Unimog, (breathtaking views!!) a walk down through the coastal forest, and along the shores of the Knysna estaury to the restaurant , a delicious lunch, and a boat trip back to Knysna.

Paddle cruiser Knysna

Visiting the Knysna heads, or Thesen island, shopping or eating at the waterfront, a sunset cruise on the John Benn or paddle cruiser, a whale watching trip in whale season, oyster tasting …. Knysna certainly deserves the status of the favourite town of South Africans.

Something that’s still on my bucket list, is to hire a house boat on the Knysna waters for the weekend – one day J

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52 favourite places in South Africa – Week 2 Table mountain

As a South African tourist guide I have the privilege to visit some of the most beautiful places in South Africa regularly. I have chosen my 52 favourites, and will share these in this blog.

Table mountain viewed from Signal Hill

Visitor’s often ask me how often I have been to the top of Table mountain – in my 10 years of guiding I have honestly lost count – lucky me!! I have walked to the top of Table mountain  a couple of times using various routes, and have used the Cable Car on all other occasions (that takes only 6 minutes)

Table mountain was named Hoeriekwaggo, by the  people who lived there long before the ships came from the East and the West.  Hoeriekwaggo means the mountain in the sea. The Portuguese seafarers, who sailed around the Cape in the 15th century,  were probably the first people who made the association with a table Taboa do Cabo – which the indigenous people did not, since they had no tables! The Dutch adopted the name – Tafelberg and it stuck.

Table moutain new 7 wonders of the world

Some interesting facts about Table mountain:

It is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new 7 wonders of nature.

It is 1088m high at Maclears beacon, which is the highest point

There are about 800 hiking trails on the mountain, and these are frequented by many hikers regularly.

My most awesome experience has been hiking the Hoeriekwaggo trail – a 5 day guided experience which takes you along the Table mountain range from the city to Cape Point. It is really worth it!!

Rainbow & sunset 11 July 2008 007

The  57 square km of Table mountain is home to an astonishing number of plant species: 1470 (the whole of Britain has 1492 different plant species)

As a South African you get a free ride with the Cable Car on your birthday – so enjoy it!!!

Table mountain view from Blouberg Strand

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My 52 favourite places in South Africa – Week 1 Nelson Mandela Statue Pretoria

As a tourist guide I have the privilege of visiting some of the most beautiful places in South Africa on a regular basis.

This is a privilege I am deeply grateful for, since I know that South Africa truly is one of the most awesome countries in the world. This is my opinion of course, but it has been verified by every single one of the hundreds of guests, whom I have accompanied through South Africa over the past 10 years.  So this is why I had the idea of writing a weekly blog, choosing my 52 favourite places in South Africa. In this way I can share these with a wider audience. Some readers may be inspired to visit the places (physically or virtually), and everyone can enjoy the beautiful pictures and interesting info, which I will post.

So here we go: WEEK 1 Favourite place Number 1 – the Nelson Mandela statue in the picturesque gardens of the Union buildings in Pretoria.

Nelson Mandela statue Union buildings 2014 (1)

Everyone who comes to visit me, is taken on a walk to this grand bronze statue, since it is literally up the road from my home in Pretoria. Most will agree that it is “larger than life” 9 meters – pretty much the same as Nelson Mandela himself, and therefore very appropriate. Since the unveiling of the statue on 16 December 2013, shortly after the death of Nelson Mandela, the number of visitors to the Union buildings park as increased significantly. Families, school children, tourists (local and foreign) all flock to see the most famous man in the world – with his arms outstretched to bless the city of Pretoria – the capital city of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela statue Union buildings 2014 (4)

True to our African spirit, the number of entrepreneurs seeing a business opportunity has mushroomed. The ice cream vendors, curio sales men/women and of course the photographers – who take a picture of people in front of the statue for R20-00 and print it on site. The pictures  are taken in such a way, that it looks as though one is holding Mandela’s outstretched hands. They have the position and poses waxed, and are causing a real buzz at the statue, with the eagerness to sell their pictures.

Nelson Mandela statue Union buildings 2014 (3)

So if you live in Pretoria, or are visiting the city and have not been to the statue – go! It is breath taking, and the gardens are a wonderful place to go for a walk. The Union buildings are the official seat of our national government in Pretoria and are one of the most magnificent buildings in our country. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, completed in 1913, symbolising the peaceful Union formed in 1910, between the two major political forces at the time (the British and the Boers) It is  inspired by Greek Mythology, Neo-classic architecture of the Italian Renaissance, as well as elements of the English Renaissance and Cape Dutch architecture.

Raphael July 2014 (1) 

The Union buildings and gardens are a national heritage site, well worth visiting. Entry into the buildings is not possible, as they are closed to the public – since that is where our presidents offices are! They can however be admired from the outside.

July 2014 Jasmin and Christel

 

Anya July 2014 (2)

Nelson Mandela statue Union buildings 2014 (2)

 

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Souljourney

I have just been on a 2 week tour through KZN  & Swaziland with 5 special German ladies! I am in awe with the diversity and abundance in the vegetation, and bird and animal life, in such a ‘small’ area of our country. We saw everything from hippo’s to elephant, croc’s to eagles … the friendliness and smiles of all the people we met in restaurants, along the road, even at toll gates and airports was awesome!!

Giraffes in Swaziland
Seeing the giraffes close up was awesome!

The primitive trail in Hluhluwe Imfolozi was certainly a highlight, a nature experience second to none – not for the faint hearted though, but something I will treasure forever. www.souljourney.co.za

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table mountain

South Africa – as a holistic travel destination

When you embark on a Soul Journey holiday you are guaranteed to be in one of the most beautiful, sunny places in the world – southern Africa, the ideal destination for your holistic journey.

A place where natural sacred sites and spiritual shrines, temples, synagogues, kramats, mosques and cathedrals abound, and most faiths and spiritual traditions are practised. The large variety and availability of natural settings lend themselves to soul searching, in the mountains, at the ocean, in the African bush or desert. Explore the spirituality of the oldest living inhabitants of Southern Africa – the bushmen. View the magnificent rock paintings, which they have left for us to marvel at, as they depict the physical and spiritual dimensions.

Visit world famous tourist attractions (Table mountain, Maropeng -The Cradle of humankind, Mapungubwe, Robben island, The Kruger National Park, St. Lucia Isimangaliso Wetland Park) or venture off the beaten track to discover the diversity of this magical land, it’s people and it’s animals.

Shamans, astrologers, diviners and many more tap into the energy of Mother Africa and practise ancient or modern ways to explore oneself and expand ones consciousness.Holistic Fairs, full moon meditations, equinox as well as solstice ceremonies and various religious and spiritual events are celebrated in ways, which only a country as colourful and rich in culture and history such as South Africa can.

South Africa is home to many world class health and wellness centres and spa’s where one can be pampered, advised, healed and nurtured. Some offer treatments which can not be experienced anywhere else in the world. Holistic, complementary and traditional health practitioners of nearly all existing modalities from aromatherapy to zen, can be found in the cities and countryside. Juice bars, organic, natural or vegetarian restaurants offer delicious food for those seeking a healthy alternative.

For creative self exploration and expression the possibilities are endless:drumming, song, dance, colour and art in true vibrant African style…or eastern, western, and cosmopolitan styles…inspire your imagination!

So if sunshine and nature, ancient wisdom and modern diversity, joy and laughter are what you are after – South Africa has it all.

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