Two weeks ago I spent a weekend at Brahman Hills, a beautiful lodge near the N3 highway in the Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal. I stayed at Brahman Hills once before in 2016. Read my previous post for all the details on what Brahman Hills is, what the Midlands is, and what I liked best about my stay — it’s all still true. I went back again for a few reasons: First: I loved Brahman Hills the first time and selfishly wanted to enjoy it again. Second: Last time I went to Brahman Hills with a partner, but this time I was invited as part of an all-female media trip. Traveling with girls is fun. Third: I last stayed at Brahman Hills in winter, when the landscape was dry and desolate. I loved the winter feel but wanted to go back in summer, when everything is green and sparkling. Fourth: I wanted to see more of the Midlands Meander, which has become one of my favorite tourism regions in the country. Fifth: Brahman Hills has a herd of the most beautiful cows in South Africa. New Things About Brahman Hills and the Midlands There are a few important things I either […]
Welcome to Week 18 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Tswaing Meteorite Crater. About 200,000 years ago, a swimming-pool-sized rock crashed into South Africa. The collision created the Tswaing Meteorite Crater. Two thousand centuries later, the Tswaing Crater is a nature reserve in the far northern reaches of Gauteng Province. The Tswaing Crater is not to be confused with another nearby impact crater, the Vredefort Dome, which is thought to be the largest impact crater in the world and is about 166 times larger than Tswaing. (The Tswaing Crater is 1.8 kilometers, or just over a mile wide, and the Vredefort Crater is an unfathomable 300 kilometers wide.) Ray and I had been wanting to visit the Tswaing Crater together forever, and I’ve been really excited to feature it on #Gauteng52. Unfortunately our visit didn’t go as smoothly as planned and we didn’t experience the crater as fully as we’d hoped. I have some valuable tips to share that will make your visit to the Tswaing Crater more fantastic than ours was. The Tswaing Crater, looking way less impressive than […]
Welcome to the #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. On Week 1, Ray and I went for a walk along the Hennops Hiking Trail. Setting out on the trail. I read about the Hennops trail, which is named for the Hennops River it crosses, on my friend Hitekani’s blog a couple of years ago. I’ve been meaning to do it ever since. (This is one of the great things about the #Gauteng52 challenge — it will motivate me to do lots of things I’ve been meaning to do.) I finally got around to it on the last day of 2016. The Hennops Hiking Trail The trail is on a private farm about 50 minutes north of my house in Melville, only 20 minutes from Joburg’s northern reaches of Fourways and Diepsloot. Even though it’s close to town, the Hennops farm is idyllic and made me feel like I was well away from the city. Admission to the hiking trails is R60 (about $5) and there are three routes to choose from: the Krokodilberg route is about 12 kilometers; the Zebra route is 6 kilometers, […]
I recently received an assignment to book a stay on Accommodation Direct, go stay at that place, and write a review of the experience. Accommodation Direct is a new accommodation booking tool and has listings throughout South Africa and a few other southern African countries. This was a pretty great assignment. I could choose to stay wherever I wanted (with the understanding that I was responsible for getting myself there), I could bring Ray, and my only instruction was to have a good time. The only hard part, as it turned out, was choosing where to go. Accommodation Direct offers everything from low-budget backpacking hostels to expensive safari lodges (I had a budget of R5000 — about $350 — so I had to be smart), with listings all over the place. Ray and I scoured the site for a couple of days, growing increasingly confused and indecisive, until settling on a self-catering guest farm called Stone Hill in Magaliesburg, just an hour or so from Joburg. People are always asking me for recommendations on weekend getaways that are close to town and this seemed like a good excuse to try one out. Plus Stone Hill is dog-friendly — we don’t have a dog but like […]
Last week I went to Cape Town for an Instagram campaign, to attend a single two-hour event on a Wednesday evening. My friend Kate was invited too. Cape Town being one the most beautiful cities in the world and all, Kate and I decided it was silly to fly down for just one evening. We extended our stay to two nights and three days. This decision resulted in two Jozi blogger chicks Ubering madly around Cape Town, meeting up with blogger friends, stuffing our faces, drinking lots of beer and wine, walking our asses off, doing yoga poses on mountaintops, and laughing at big fat seals. It was so random and so fun. Here are some highlights. Random Cape Town Activity #1: Climbing Lion’s Head Lion’s Head is the second-most famous mountain in Cape Town — dwarfed in size and fame by its neighbor, Table Mountain. View of Lion’s Head from Daylight Studio, where I hung out on Wednesday evening. Kate and I had never climbed Lion’s Head and this was our chance. We convinced a few other bloggers to join us: our old friend Di and our new friends Cassandra and Jane. Di picked us up at our hotel at 6:30 a.m. and we reached the base of Lion’s Head […]
Magoebaskloof, a mountainous region in South Africa’s Limpopo Province between Polokwane and Tzaneen, is referred to on its tourism website as “the Land of the Silver Mist”. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. Fly-fishing at sunrise on Magoebaskloof’s misty Stanford Lake. I arrived in Magoebaskloof on Friday afternoon with a bunch of Instagrammers, on a mission to visit as many interesting places as possible in less than 48 hours. On our first morning we rose at the crack of dawn (actually before the crack) and walked down to Stanford Lake, where a magical, misty dreamworld unfolded before us. Reflections and lily pads on the glassy lake, just before sunrise. I’ve got hundreds of Magoebaskloof photos, and I’m actually still here (I decided 48 hours wasn’t enough) and accumulating more and more. But for now I’m just posting my favorite pictures from that first morning. Morning Mist in Magoebaskloof Fly-fishing is the most beautiful thing in the world to photograph on a misty morning. Who knew? A teenage boy fly-fishing. I don’t think he caught any fish. But really, who cares? Mist, reflections, and a hint of sun. More fly-fishing. I’m glad I wasn’t the one in that freezing water. But it […]
A few weeks ago Ray and I spent three days at the Drakensberg Mountain Retreat, on the northern edge of the Drakensberg Mountain range near the border of the Free State and KwaZulu Natal. The lodge is frequented by a herd of wild horses. Wild horses are pretty much like domesticated horses. Except you can’t pet them or ride them and they go wherever the hell they want. There isn’t much to do in this part of the country, which was exactly what we were looking for when we booked the trip. We sat around the lodge, looked at the view, ate, hiked a little, and watched the horses. The Drakensberg Mountain Retreat offers great weekday specials. We initially booked an upstairs room but then got upgraded to this beautiful, huge downstairs room with its own enclosed patio, where I spent hours sitting with the windows open and watching the horses. There’s Ray sitting on the patio with the lodge’s trusted terrier and horse-chaser, Cato. Wild Horses in the Northern Drakensberg Theo, the lodge manager, told us the horses are descended from those who were abandoned in this area during the Anglo-Boer War more than a hundred years ago. I searched online but couldn’t find any definitive information about […]
Maybe this is an overstatement. Theoretically I was hiking, not mountain-climbing. But the pictures speak for themselves. This is Dee, balancing herself at the top of one of many mountains that we climbed up and then down again. When I first received the invitation to participate in the #GoToReunion campaign, I wasn’t sure I could go. I had just booked my trip to the U.S. (where I am now), and it overlapped with the Reunion trip by several days. Then I reread the Reunion invitation and saw that the itinerary included a multi-day hiking trek through the island’s cirques (calderas/extinct volcanoes), walking to villages accessible only on foot and sleeping in traditional gîtes (guesthouses). This wasn’t an opportunity to pass up. I changed my U.S. plane ticket. After four days of helicoptering, paragliding (post to come), sunbathing, and other relatively un-exhausting activities on Reunion, we embarked on our hiking journey. We had a long drive from the beach town of Saint Gilles up to the hike starting point in Salazie, and enjoyed some amazing sights along the way. The Cascade Blanche, an 800-meter (2624-foot) waterfall. A beautiful church in Salazie. Quick note about the mountain roads in Reunion: This island has the windiest roads I’ve ever experienced. If you […]
Fourth in my series of Sandton Snapshot posts, leading up to the publication of SandtonPlaces. Read posts 1, 2 and 3. This past weekend I went to Fourways, the northernmost Joburg suburb. I know what you Jozi city folk are thinking: Fourways is a sprawling, traffic-choked suburban wasteland and I wouldn’t go there if you paid me. I know many of you are thinking that, because I used to think it myself. Until someone actually did pay me to go to Fourways. So I went. And I discovered interesting things. Sure, Fourways has traffic and gated communities and Montecasino. But Fourways also has chubby, slightly evil-looking dassies, living in the wild. (Dassies are kind of like prairie dogs. But bigger.)
On New Years Day, my friend Michelle and I paid an impromptu visit to Golden Gate Highlighnds National Park. We were staying nearby in Clarens and thought we’d check out the park, which I’d heard was beautiful. We were tired from our recent strenuous hiking in Lesotho, and Michelle had a bad blister. So a long hike was out of the question. We thought we might take a brief stroll. Apparently Michelle and I don’t know ourselves very well.
South Africa is a geographically diverse country with eye-popping natural wonders everywhere you look. We all know the big ones: Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, the Karoo, the Drakensberg Mountains. But if you dig deeper into your travel book you’ll find dozens of lesser known places, offering their own unique versions of dramatic South African beauty. De Hoop Nature Reserve is one of those places. De Hoop seascape. Last weekend I spent three days at De Hoop, which is a three-hour drive southeast of Cape Town. Full disclosure: The trip was sponsored by the De Hoop Collection. (Trips like this are what blogging dreams are made of.)
When it comes to beautiful views in Namibia, most people think of sand dunes. I didn’t make it to Sossusvlei — Namibia’s most famous sand-dune viewing destination — on my recent trip, although I did check out the dunes around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay (coming up in a future post). The dunes are indeed beautiful. But the breathtaking view from the top of the Waterberg Plateau in northeastern Namibia will give even the most dramatic sand dune a run for its money. Beat that, Sossusvlei.