Karabo Podcast

In this second episode of Chica Travel, Lelo chats to avid traveler & house music DJ Karabo Ducasse about her luxurious travel adventures through Europe, with a focus on Croatia and Greece. Find out which apps she uses to connect and make friends in new cities, her advice on getting that long term Schengen Visa and more!

Karabo Podcast

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Solo Travel

In this first episode of Chica Travel Podcast, Lelo is joined by Buhle Ndlovu (@BeeinRSA) & Palesa Lengolo (@pale_lengolo) to discuss the rising phenomenon that is Solo Travel amongst females. If you are a black woman who wants to travel solo but aren’t sure of where to start, whether it’s safe, where to go, then this episode is for you.

Click on one of the below images to hear all about Palesa’s Bali Adventures and Buhle’s life of travel.

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I am super excited to share this and I hope you guys will be just as excited to hear that I’m launching a new podcast called Chica Travel as an alternative space for us discuss and share all the travel stories we share here.

I love traveling, I love talking about travel, sharing my experiences and hearing people share their travel stories and because I have gotten lazy to sit down and blog (I’m old now guys), I figured a podcast would be the best way for us to continue the conversation. Every time I travel, some of you ladies ask if I’m going to blog about the trip, and I usually say yes in excitement, but never get to do it so this is a way to make sure I keep my promises 🙂

I also get a huge number of questions from people on social media who ask for travel tips and advice but I don’t always have the answers so having this Podcast will allow me an opportunity to get your travel questions answered by industry experts and people who travel more than I do.

Contrary to popular belief, I only travel a handful (at most) of times a year so it’s always confusing when people message and ask if I’m in the country. Heheh Stop it guys.

The Chica Travel podcast will tackle different travel topics including, How to pack stylishly for your trip, the Ins and Outs of Solo Travel, Girls Trips, Travel Insurance, Baecations, in depth discussions on Must See Destinations, Budgeting for Travel and so much more.

And now for the other GOOD NEWS!!

The Travel Podcast is already available for you to listen and enjoy. Whether you have an Android or iOS device, I got you!

You can search for CHICA Travel wherever you listen to podcasts (including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast (available with every android phone), Stitcher etc) or click on the images below:

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Apple allows you to review and rate a podcast so if you’d like to do that, would be much appreciated, otherwise please feel free to give me feedback on Social Media through the hashtag, #ChicaTravelPod.

If you’d like to suggest topics for the podcast, or you have a question you’d like to get answered, please get in touch with me via social media @Mslelob or send an email to travel @ chica.co.za.

You can listen to the CHICA Travel Trailer here: Apple / Android 

I’m so excited!! I hope you will join me on this journey!!!

LeloB

Cuba

My trip to Cuba was a 28 hour flight from SA, with only two flights coming in and leaving Cuba. I took an 8 hour flight to Madrid and had a 10-hour layover there, which I used to see a bit of the city. I then took another 10 hour flight directly to Cuba. I flew Iberia Airlines and it was safe and basic.

My visa application cost me about R280 and I had to go to the embassy in Hatfield to apply.

Cuba Cash

The Money
Their currency is the Cuban Peso. Cuba is a closed economy and locals have a different currency to tourists however the conversion is the same (1cuc = 1usd). You need to change your money at the airport because that will make your life easier because locating a bank or money exchange place is tricky.

Accommodation is relatively affordable and Airbnb has extended its services to Cuba. Getting there is a bit more expensive than what you’ll spend when you are there though. I don’t think I spent more than $10 per day, excluding the odd souvenir.

Weather:

I went in February and suffered a bit because I don’t do heat very well. Think of the Durban kind of weather, that’s Cuba. Sunscreen and water are your besties here and 1litre of water costs 1cuc.

Accommodation:

I decided not to stay at a hotel, only because I wanted to have an authentic Cuban feel so I booked a room at one of the Casa’s (family owned homes that rent out their rooms).

It was probably my best and most emotionally fulfilling experience. I stayed there for 6 nights and had my own room and en-suite shower. I also had a hearty breakfast every single morning.

cuba

Internet:

There is still telecommunications infrastructure development in Cuba so they sell “internet cards” for 1Cuban Peso (=1usd) that grants you 1 hour of internet access. You’ll have to ask the hotel or B&B to first give you their WiFi code (you need access to the WiFi line to use the internet prepaid card), optionally while walking around you can find your nearest WiFi Park where the WiFi line is free, but you still need an internet card.

To be honest the lack of access to the digital world was the best part of my trip. Knowing I could be present in the moment with no need to check social media or whatsapp was enlightening.

You need to locate one of these small kiosks to buy internet. They do run out of cards at times and in such cases, some nearby hotels sell them, even though it’s at double the price.

Cuba horse ride

Enjoy

To fully enjoy Cuba you need to leave all your baggage and preconditioned ideas at the airport. It’s a place like no other. You will either LOVE or hate it, there’s no middle ground. The people are content with the status quo. You will be exposed to the slumps and the “touristy” areas.

Try to visit one of the buildings and immerse yourself in the culture, the food and people. The random art displays and music. The dancing was better than how I had imagined it!  Spanish people are passionate, carefree and the men will catcall you with no shame.

Broken Place

I am easily drawn to people and things that are broken because that’s where I find beauty and love. That’s what I loved about Cuba. I left my heart there. I’m not an extrovert and I don’t think I’ve ever done something that is all about me. Cuba defined and helped me rediscover things I love and hate about me, but I found myself in Cuba.

Cuba cars

Vintage Cars
The vintage cars are REAL!!! The owners take so much pride in them. All of them are super clean…
Some are taxis but for the most part they use their cars for tourists to book for a drive around Cuba (1 hour, half day, full day). Most tourists just take pictures next to the cars and do not ride because those rides cost a small penny. Anything from R500 per hour, depending on the driver. It’s all part of the experience though.

Visit a place called Restaurant Jibaro, it has a modern menu and great drinks, a gem I found in Old Havana

Cuba villages

Vinalès is a two hour drive outside of main Havana. I spent the whole day there mixing with the locals and learning about the farming. I rode a horse for the first time, smoked my first cigar and had a taste of their rum.

A memory nestled in my heart!

Cuba

The End.

 

You can follow Neo on social and see more of her pics via @NeoRadise

Port Elizabeth

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Port Elizabeth? Wind right? Anything else?
That they have a beach yet you’ve never seen a beach pictured tagged #PE? Yeah that’s me and that’s all I imagine when I think about the Eastern Cape city.

Well, my #SAfricansTravelToo friends Papi Mabele, Lonwabo Zimela and I partnered with SA Express, EC Tourism and Radisson Blu PE to check out if there was more to PE than the wind and guess what! There is more!!

Our first stop was the Radisson Blu hotel where we got welcomed like royalty. I was also very happy with the view from my room. I love SA hotels, in general, I think we have some of the best hotels in the world. Especially when it comes to space and comfort.

Port Elizabeth

The first excursion was a marine salary with Raggy Charters Marine and they took us to go visit St Croix Island, which is a Penguin Colony.

Oh what a beautiful sight.

PE Penguins

You aren’t allowed to land here but we could cruise close enough to be able to watch these beautiful babies. They are so lovely man…

The cruise last around 3 hours and the only low point was me getting sea sick during that beautiful ride. Thanks to a German tourist who gave me something to chew, it made me feel so much better, very quickly.

I absolutely loved the Dolphins!! They are such beautiful and flamboyant creatures, I loved having them follow our boat around and dance to keep us entertained.

 

 

I even attempted taking selfies with them hehe.

The next part of our itinerary was to take a PE City tour including Route 67, which consists of 67 Public Art Works symbolising Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of work dedicated to SA but we were late for that so went around to see a bit of the city.


We then took  a short drive to Colchester to meet up with Sundays River Adventures for a Ferry Cruise and Sandboarding. Ooh what an experience that was.

I was very surprised at this part of town! It felt like we were in another country altogether.

Like a Dubai!

Feeling myself

I also tried a bit of sand boarding but I was sitting on the board… hehe check my PE highlight stories on IG for a bit of that.

On our last day we visited Addo National Elephant Park, which is the 3rd largest after Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier in the Northern Cape.

We were lucky we saw lots of animals… but no Lions, I would have loved to see one King.

 

Our last activity before heading to the airport was to visit Addo Adrenalin for the double zipline. I did not partake in this activity because FEAR lol. but my fellow travelers had a ball!

 

Lonwabo doing the Superman. He also did the normal zipline and swing. Things I am way too old to even attempt. My heart would literally pop out!

We had an amazing time in PE and even though I went there as a non-believer, I now think it has lots more to offer than what we’ve previously be shown. Go visit, the activities we did are quite reasonably priced and if you’d like to duplicate our Itinerary, you can contact Lyon Tours as they were tour operator that guided us or check out the Eastern Cape Tourism website for other adventures to explore.

In terms of places to eat, we had dinner at Something Good Roadhouse, which is a beach front spot. The food was okay but the service very slow. I hear they are infamous for that.

We also had dinner at Bridge Street Brewery, which I totally loved. Nice vibe and the food was delicious. The food portions in PE totally shocked me, we don’t get served that much in Johannesburg! Reasonably priced too. I really wondered if we were in SA, particularly when we ordered Pizza during lunch and had a pizza that was super stacked with cheese and toppings. You guys are having it good there in PE. Bridge Street Brewery also has craft beer so you can do a tasting with your food as well.

A BIG thank you to SA Express, (Happy 25th Birthday), Eastern Cape Tourism and Radisson Blu PE for making our trip a great success. The next I visit, I will be making my way to Tsitsikamma! I’ve beeeeeen wanting to go!

Have you been to PE? Let me know how your experience was!

LeloB 

Tomjachu

Tomjachu, it’s a bit of a strange name when you first hear it isn’t it? I think my reaction  when my fellow traveller Papi Mabele mentioned it was “What is that?”. Now that I’ve heard all  about its origins and the rich family history behind it, I no longer think of it as a strange name, I think it’s just beautiful. 

A bit of the history. (keep reading, I promise it’s interesting)

What is now known as Tomjachu Bush Retreat was originally was originally a tobacco farm and it was bough by Gordon Fillery in 1986 with the intention for it to be a family home. This was after the previous farmer’s crop had failed but unfortunately, in 1992, Gordon fell ill and died , leaving the farm to his son Brian. 

Realizing the potential and beauty of the farm, in 1995 Brian Fillery started converting it into a conservation reserve whose aim was to reclaim the bush, and create an environment where the animals, birds and plants could just live and be in their own paradise.

And that is exactly what I experienced…

Tomjachu

In 1995 when this business started as a 3 star B&B, it was also given the name “Tomjachu” – named after Brian’s 3 sons, Tom, Jack & Hugo. TomJacHu, get it? lol 

Unfortunately Brian passed away in 2016 so his 3 sons took over ownership of Tomjachu and they are continuing their family legacy by preserving this conservation paradise and there was something warm about how warmly we were received at Tomjachu that tells me that Gordon and Brian are proud, wherever they are. 

The Accommodation

The place is not at all crowded, which is why they are able to give their guests such special treatment, and there’s the option of self catering, for those who want total peace and quiet.

Tomjachu

The accommodation includes Homestead which sleeps 2 – 6 people, so whether you’re there with Bae, friends or family, there’s an option for you!

Homestead tomjachu

Ooh and there’s Rock House, which is a romantic open plan thatched cottage with way too much space. That’s definitely not a complaint though, the space was actually one of my favorite things about Tomjachu! They certainly don’t have a land problem, given their 550 hectares hehe.

My suite was  spacious and more importantly, super comfortable.

Tomjachu

Keeper’s Cottage is a one bedroom country style cottage under a giant fig tree. Did I mention there’s no dstv there? You have to want to come here for total peace, and honestly, I think TVs would be out of place there.

My 2nd favorite, Bush Cottage is newly renovated and ideal for groups or family as it accommodates 2-4 people. I loved the decor here and how though it was modern, there was still something warm and “bush” about it. A great combination of the glam and bush world, if I can call it that.

Then there is the most beautiful of all, the 5 star Valbonne Villa which sleeps 6 -12 and has 6 en-suite bedrooms. Yhuuuu I think this is where I lost my mind! I thought Bush Cottage was my favorite until I saw Valbonne. When I do go back, this is where I”m staying so I need friends to go back with.

Ladies, maybe we can have a Girls Trip to Nelspruit? mmh?

The views from that place!!!

Tomjachu

As I said, the place is all about history and Valbonne was named after an area of France where Gordon Fillery and his wife Vikki lived before they moved to SA. It was beautiful seeing how in each of these rooms there is a piece of history/antiques infused into the decor. 

That’s the view from the pool at Valbonne!!

View from the bedroom…

and that’s another view from the main bedroom! Can you imagine waking up to that each morning! What I liked about Valbonne.. actually the whole farm, was that it felt like home, there was nothing about it that felt artificial. It’s a place to really switch off and connect with nature. 

There are a number of picnic spots around the property, all accessible by the roads and hiking trails. There are 4 dams, and two watering holes on the property and it was interesting when we were given a map and had to make our way to the dam to go for our picnic.

The fun and exciting thing about that was that there are no dangerous animals like your Big 5, so we walked freely, following clues to the picnic spot and walked past animals grazing, drinking from their watering holes. This was definitely my best part of the weekend!

I just want to go back again guys…

Tomjachu

The joys!!

We took a game drive and went on to have a nice bush dinner under the stars..

Perfect with a bushfire! It was quite an adventure.

Our last morning was even more perfect.. first from viewing the beautiful sunrise,

Tomjachu

As beautiful as it can only be in Africa!

We thereafter took a guided hike through the farmer with our super dope host & narrator Jack whose every word had me going wow.

tomjachu

I started noticing things I don’t normally notice, like the differences in the trees, the plants,  birds, even little crawling things I’d normally consider bugs to be stepped on.

Tomjachu

I left Tomjachu feeling relaxed and at peace. I left thinking about what I’m doing to take care of the environment. I left thinking about the importance of preserving nature and having the animals live freely, uninterrupted by us and our know-it-all tendencies.

I certainly left with more than what I was promised and I am looking for an excuse to visit their beautiful nature reserve again. You should go visit too!

For more on Tomjachu Bush Retreat, visit their website HERE , view their rates HERE and you can follow them on Social Media under the same name!

Visit the rest of our Travel Features HERE and pf course would love to hear from you in the comments below!

By Lelo 

Victoria Falls

Still on our quest to see more of our continent, my #SAfricansTravelToo friends and I ventured off to the much talked about, Victoria Falls. As with all our trips, we did not go at it alone, but we partnered with Fastjet Airlines and Avani Hotels & Resorts to help make our trip memorable.

Victoria Falls

Getting There…

Having heard of FastJet and their aim to be pioneers in making travel through east and southern Africa reliable and accessible, we reached out to them to ask if we could try them out for our trip to Vic Falls and we were happy when they agreed to come on board.

They did not have a direct flight to Victoria Falls from Johannesburg on our dates, so we had to fly via Harare and then connect to Vic Falls. And it just so happened that our trip was around the time of #MugabeMustFall so it was interesting to be there at that time. It was quite surprising though that as much as there were marches and everything going on in Harare, the airport was super quiet, and it was business as usual.

Victoria Falls

So a bit about Fastjet: Their model is based on Easyjet’s model, which means they allow you the option to choose pay-as-you-travel extras. If you won’t be carrying a suitcase, you don’t need to pay for it and if you’re happy to only be assigned a seat at check in, you don’t need to pay a pre-assigned seating charge, and they offer flexibility that promises to save you money and time.

Fastjet currently fly to the following destinations:

  • Mozambique
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

We had a good experience with FastJet, there isn’t much to expect really, all low cost airlines promise is to get to you to your destination safe, without any frills and that’s what we got.

Victoria Falls

Our Time At Avani Vic Falls

Oh Avani!! Where do I start! Should I start with the fact that the hotel is literally a 5 minutes walk from the Vic Falls? And that as a guest you have unlimited access, meaning you could sit and stare at the falls all day? Or should I start with these Zebras that are lazily strolling about, everywhere you turn?

Avani Victoria Falls

Or talk about the friendly staff at the hotel? I don’t know where to start, all I can tell you is that we were received so warmly at the hotel, and having spent time at the Avani in Lesotho, there seems to be a common thread of warmth and genuinity in the people they employ.

Avani Victoria Falls

The hotel driveway…

This is where the 5 minutes walk from the hotel will take you… to view the falls.

But ….

..we unfortunately visited during their Dry Season so there were no “waterfalls” to see on the Zambia side…

Victoria Falls is ranked as one of the greatest natural wonders of the world and they lie in between Zambia and Zim. The falls are part of two national parks, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe and they are 1.7km wide and 108m high.

But we didn’t let that get us down… instead, we went to where there was definitely water: Zambezi River for white river rafting!!!!! *insert scream*

Victoria Falls

Guys, we went river rafting in the Zambezi river and it was the best thing about the trip. We did the half day option, it was the scariest experience but also the BEST! Just make sure you take a GoPro camera with you, and don’t be like my friend, Papi, who forgets the camera in a bag!!! I wanted to strangle him, when I saw all the wonderful photo opportunities we missed along the way. Thanks to Bushtracks Africa for the images we managed to get.

Victoria Falls

…and no, don’t worry about not being able to swim, you will still come out of this alive lol. I mean, I did. The Rapids were absolutely amazing, and they had names like Devil’s Toilet Bowl or Boild and  Stairway to Heaven, they really named them to make you believe death is coming but shem they were super fun! Though I closed my eyes through them all… lol I only realized when I viewed the pictures that I was the only one who closed eyes during the rapids, i thought we were supposed to lol.

Our Guide was really great, he even convinced me to get out of the boat and swim (read float) in the river. I felt like something was pulling me under the water and screamed for them to get me back in the boat, so my “swim” was very short-lived.. I’m glad this part isn’t captured anywhere hehe.

This pic above was taken at the end of our journey – I was SO happy I did this, and I was talking about how I can’t wait to do it again! We luckily did no flip over!

…that was until I realized I had to hike up the gorge!!! Heheheh I don’t know how I thought we’d get back up but to be honest, all I knew before this was that I wanted to river raft, then I saw we were walking down to the river and then I was just anxious to get to the river, I did not for a moment pause to think about the fact that I’d have to walk up to get back! Oh my word!!!!!!!

The hike back was so dramatic! Can you imagine hiking that entire distance when you had NO plans to hike??  We walked, and walked, and walked… took a break, walked, took a break, walked, took a break, took a break, took a step…took a break..  and after what seemed like a lifetime for someone as unfit as me, we finally got back to the top and I wanted to cry!

But I had no time to waste crying because next up we had the Royal Livingstone Express waiting to host us for dinner….

plus I had a red dress I had to wear!

This was another beautiful experience but definitely one that you must do with a partner for a romantic dinner.

inside the train…

The menu… The only thing I couldn’t eat was the seared salmon eeeuww… 

I generally felt the trip was ideal as a romantic getaway. Take your partner to Victoria Falls! I felt this even more when we went next door to the Royal Livingstone hotel – another must see!!

Sunset view from the Royal Livingstone Hotel bar

It wasn’t a romantic getaway for us but nonetheless the boys and I had a great time in the train. I most especially enjoyed the train’s stop at the Victoria Falls Bridge where I once again, looked down at the river and marveled at not having died after that hike! It was intense.

Joyce Victoria Falls

A special mention goes to our wonderful hostess Joyce Sikabbubba for her hospitality, she was amazing. Thank you Joyce!! 

Another BIG thank you to Papi and George for their company during the trip, we had the longest layover in Harare but they made it memorable. On that note, if you go to Vic Falls, fly direct! Like Zanzibar, layovers to Vic Falls are a waste of precious time.

Thanks once more to our partners FastJet and Avani for making my first time in Zambia/ Zimbabwe/Vic Falls unforgettable! I will definitely come back and yes, I will go river rafting again 🙂

I think it’s one of those adventures you should do at least once in your life!

Here are the details of the companies that helped with arranging our activities during this trip. 

Bushtracks Africa

  • Return Airport Transfers from Victoria Falls Airport to the Hotel
  • USD 30 per person one way
  • Royal Livingstone Express Train Dinner
  • USD 180 per person ( Inclusive Train ride Experience, wines, beers and soft drinks and a 5 course dinner)

Safari Par Excellence

  • Half Day White Water Rafting on Saturday
  • USD150 per person (Light Lunch inclusive)
  • Full Day Trip
  • USD 160 per person
  • productions@safpar.com

Livingstone Adventures

  • Sunset Cruise on the African Queen on Sunday afternoon.
  • USD 75 per person ( inclusive snacks, wines, beers and soft drinks)
  • www.livingstonesadventure.com

By LeloB

Jaguar

Anyone who has followed my blogging career will know that I’ve test driven a lot of cars but nothing quite prepared me for the experience I had with Jaguar. And this is not a sponsored blog bafethu, I’m sharing!

A few weeks ago, Jaguar SA asked me to go on the ultimate Jaguar XF test drive and to put to the test, their claim that the car can go 1,400 KM with just one tank of fuel! Giving me a luxury car with a full tank to drive to a memorable destination during Tourism Month? There was no way I was gonna turn that offer down so off I went to Hartford House in the Natal Midlands.

Jaguar

At first my son and I were worried about the 450km drive as the furthest I’ve ever driven is between Welkom to JHB (not a fan of driving), plus I have a policy of not driving anywhere I can fly. The XF R-Sport however, was such a pleasant drive. Stylish, red seats, a sexy interior and oh so powerful on the road, I felt like royalty driving it. What annoyed me where the zig zag bends on the N3, like bathong couldn’t we just get a straight road? Yhu…

And I must say, I kinda enjoyed the attention I received from fellow drivers on the road, the car guards and petrol attendants – I didn’t know people reacted this positively to Jaguar. To be honest, I had never even considered it till this test drive because I’ve always thought it was an expensive car meant for rich people so was surprised to discover that its entry level, the XE is around R560k.

I wonder though if it would have my favorite features like how the XF automatically shuts its door if you don’t close it properly, the way you lock it with just your fingers, and of course the in-car wifi… it’s a beauty man, and these are probably basic features, but they sure got me!

Anyway, on to our destination!

Hartford House is a country side 5 star hotel in a beautiful Mooi River farm, surrounded by horses. If you’re looking for peace, quiet and tranquility, you will enjoy it. They have the most amazing food too.. The restaurant doesn’t have a set menu, every day the Chef Constantijn Hahndiek and his team come up with ideas for their 5 course dinner, so each evening is a major treat and surprise.

Jaguar

How gorgeous!

Jaguar

There’s also this tijnhuis where guests can enjoy high tea surrounded by that beauty.

Jaguar

We stayed at one of their lakeside suites, which is built like a traditional rondavel and has its own pool. I had initial reservations with its open design, it takes some getting used to.

Jaguar

We didn’t spend all our time indoors, we also went on a horse ride around the farm. Horse riding has definitely become one of my favorite things to do. The feeling of being on a horse nje, and the relationship you sort of form with it during that time – I love, love it and look forward to riding some more.

Jaguar

We also drove around to take in the scenic Natal Midlands routes and went to visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Horwick.

Jaguar

There is no entrance fee to to the Capture Site but they do accept donations from those willing. You can read more about the capture site HERE. In short, it is where Madiba was caught by the apartheid police after being on the run for months. I blogged about this location before after my first visit 2 years ago. This time I went so my son could also see it, am trying to get him interested in travel, it’s quite the mission.

Jaguar

Peaceful surroundings…

Jaguar

…and after a long day, the bathtub was the perfect place to take it all in and just breathe. Talk about Queening!

Jaguar

The XF is a gorgeous car and I am besotted. Thank you to Jaguar for a great introduction to their luxurious art of performance, they certainly have a new fan in me.

You can see more of my journey via #xfjourneys on my Instagram & Twitter @MsLeloB

 

** All pictures captured with the Huawei P10 Plus

#IdoTourism

#CHICATravel

I spent four days in Mpumalanga marveling at God’s creation and the splendor that is our country.

SA Tourism took us up to Mpumalanga to launch Tourism month for September and when the invite came through, I was sold at wildlife and scenic beauty so my trip included going to Nkangala district and Ehlanzeni district.

#IDoTourism

Our first destination was Dullstroom; EMAKHAZENI (The name speaks for itself), I didn’t know there’s a place that’s THAT cold in Mpumalanga. The launch event emphasized how important it is for South Africans to see what the world sees when they visit our shores. Most of us go on holidays and are busy planning holidays abroad; why don’t we start with a shotleft? While we at it, we will contribute to our own economy.

#IDoTourism

The days were loaded with wildlife and scenic beauty experiences. We saw the Geotrail in Barberton which is rich with history. We spent a night in Kruger National Park; were we arose to a early morning Game drive with thee sweetest guide.

#IDoTourism

Not forgetting culture; from the performances we saw during the launch to visiting the Shangana cultural village, I was reminded of the diversity of our country.

#IDoTourism

If you want the perfect wildlife and scenic experience, Mpumalanga is your destination. This province is worth exploring; with so much to give.

The sight seeing left me speechless. I experienced nature from a new perspective. The Panorama route in Graskop is so beautiful. I was literally breath taken: Lisbon falls, Three Rondavels, Bourke’s luck potholes and God’s window. These sights are a work of art. My advice to anyone that goes there; is to have enough time to take it all in!

The adventures pushed me to total surrender. I did zipline, river rafting and my highlight was the big swing. I came back fearless from the big swing; the certificate says “Congratulations Gugu Manqele you’ve conquered your fear” it is truly so! If I can trust a rope with my life surely I can do anything. Anytime fear tries to visit me, I’ll look at that video and remember I am fearless.

 

A post shared by @gugumanqele on

 

Just like that I discovered a bit of heaven in my own doorstep.

SA is a gem and all South African’s should experience it by traveling.

Join the movement, explore SA and follow the conversation on social media through #WeDoTourism and #IDoTourism

 

By Gugu 

Having to share about my travel experiences feels like those days in school when we had to write an essay about our holiday. Growing up in the village of Ga-Masemola, with no access to many resources such as electricity, it meant that we did not have access to television. Therefore, the only access to information was through radio and reading. I could only produce an imaginary holiday. I am grateful that we were allowed to dream fearlessly.

Now that I have had a taste of travel and still have the hunger to travel some more, it is comforting to know that the village helped me to go to places I could only dream of in my childhood.

My travels started when I arrived in Pretoria in 1998. Having not been exposed much to the city life, I made it my mission to know the city in its entirety. I started to travel to its townships and the upmarket areas by taxi. And through that, myself and my girlfriends started organising domestic travel. Our first trip was going to Mpumalanga, we went to the Crystal springs, visited the Kruger National Park and God’s window. It was such a great experience. The downside of the trip was agreeing on what groceries to buy and activities of the day. As the accommodation was self-catering, but overall great.

Then it was different cities across the country and I am still doing that to this day.

Travel Adventures

Then came the time I went to the Kingdom of Lesotho. That was the first time my passport was tattooed and the excitement was out of this world. There is just something about Lesotho that I become speechless to explain it. I told my father that the environment will make you believe that God is alive. I went to Afriski, WOW, what an amazing experience. From Afriski I went to Katse Dam and had their trout… If you haven’t been there, just make sure you eat that in your next trip.

adventures
And I knew then that, that was not my last trip. I made friendship that I went back many more times. My last trip was going to Mohale Dam and surrounding areas as well as their annual music festival in Roma. What a beautiful experience. That would be the time I acquired the taste of beer, drinking Maluti 😊. I have more stories to tell… And by the way I am going to Maliba lodge for my birthday on the 23rd of July 💃🏿. Downside was, you need an offroad car when in Lesotho to access certain areas.

Then came a trip to Maputo, it was very spontaneous. I had just started a new job and it was my first month in the position that fell into my birthday weekend. I Asked my boss if I could take the Friday off. I lied that I had already planned a weekend away 🙈. In that week, myself, my younger sister and two friends decided we are going to Mozambique. The one friend is from Maputo and the other one from Lesotho. We did not even have accommodation bookings made. Call it adrenaline… It was the 22nd of July. We drove into Maputo and when we got there it was 12 mid-night, it was my birthday and went straight to a party at the airport. One thing I can tell you is, Mozambicans can party. We left the party straight to breakfast 😂😂. Yes I said it. And we started looking for accommodation after breakfast. We got a nice place in Matola which was accessible to all the amenities we needed. I loved the food and the people of Mozambique. The challenge is the language, they hardly speak English and the Tsonga they speak is totally different from the Giyani Tsonga. The other downside is the speed limits… That is a topic for another day. Little did I know that I will go again to Xai-Xai last year for my birthday… Beautiful island… And yes their beer 2M is great

And there was Swaziland… I had a blast. Connected to the country like I was one with it. You can’t go to Swaziland and not go to Ngwenya glass. Of course I am obsessed with beautiful glasses and I bought myself beer glasses.

adventures

I wanted to buy candles but my sinuses failed me. But beautiful craft. The pineapple 🍍 of that region are delicious, don’t say I did not tell. And their beer Sibebe was tasty, and myself and beautiful cousin we had our Ngud 😊. The people are warm-hearted. I am still due to go back for Bushfire experience as well as the biker’s rally. Will have more to tell.

When in Swaziland, I told my cousin and friends that I will be going to Europe the following year chasing summer. They thought I was joking. That January I made enquiries and found Expat travel. Communication started and got a quotation. I made my first deposit as they allow you to pay in parts if you don’t have the whole amount. It cost me R14,000 in 2014 and flights was R8,000 return. That was SAA to Heathrow. The tour packages included all breakfast and some days dinner on arrival to a new country. We had the following places to visit: Amsterdam, Germany, Italy (Pisa, Florence and Venice), Switzerland, Paris and London. I will write a separate post to share my experience of each country/city.

In all of the travelling experience, I have come to appreciate my country so much. And I now know that I am not the same person that I was before I travelled. Travelling is life changing if I could, I would do it every quarter of the year.

By Pinky

IG: @Pinky_Bapela/ Twitter: @pinkzaza