SIX OF THE BEST
There’s more to the KZN South Coast than surfing and sandy beaches. Here are six fun things to do.
You don’t need a surfboard to enjoy the KZN South Coast – do one of these quirky activities.
1 THE WAFFLE HOUSE
Eat a waffle
Ask any local whether they’ve been to The Waffle House and the answer will be: “Dude! Duuuh!” The Waffle House next to the Ramsgate Lagoon has been a landmark in the area since 1957, when it was known as the Tea House of the Blue Lagoon. Every crisp, golden waffle served is freshly made and you can order almost any kind of topping you can think of: ice cream with chocolate sauce, smoked salmon, chicken curry… The restaurant has free Wi-Fi so you can share a photo of your waffle on Instagram to make your friends jealous. If you can’t stomach the thought of so many calories, take a walk on the beach afterwards or hire a paddle boat and burn off your waffle on the lagoon. Cost: From R21 for a plain waffle to R96 for a bobotie waffle. What’s on the menu? If you don’t want a savoury waffle, you can replace the waffle part with rice or salad. But you’re here for a waffle so give it a try! No takeaways. Where? Marine Drive, south of the bridge over the Ramsgate Lagoon. Opening times: Every day except Christmas Day, from 8 am to 5 pm. Contact: 039 314 9424; wafflehouse.co.za
2 PISTOLS SALOON & WILD WEST MUSEUM
Play cowboys & crooks
You’re at the bar, drinking a beer, when a donkey strolls in and orders a Coke. This isn’t a joke – it’s what actually happens at Pistols Saloon! Donkey is a regular visitor and he likes to drink straight from the can. The saloon is owned by Pete and Igna Webber. Pete’s interest in the Wild West is reflected in the decor and in the small museum next door, which features a collection of antiques from that era and an original poster offering a reward to anyone who can catch Jesse James. Despite its theme, Pistols isn’t a bar for rough men. A sign at the door warns that every swear word will cost you R2 – Pete donates the money to the SPCA. Don’t worry about the donkey either – he steers clear of alcohol and is well looked after. Pete makes sure of that. Cost: Entry to the museum is free. What’s on the menu? Everything from bratwurst with potato salad (R82) and eisbein with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes (R99) to a cheese burger (R58) and a pepperoni pizza (R57 – R83). If you’re after a salad, try the Wild West Prairie-Rabbit Food (R38). Where? Old main road in Ramsgate, on the corner of the R620 and Andries Pretorius Crescent. Opening times: Weekdays from 10 am to 11 pm; weekends from 10 am to late. Contact: 039 316 8463; pistolssaloon.co.za
3 RED DESERT NATURE RESERVE
Meet a Martian
Did you know there’s a little desert hidden in the subtropical vegetation of the South Coast? Some people say it’s the smallest desert in the world – it’s barely the size of four rugby fields. You might think that such a small patch of bare earth is likely just a clearing, but the hard red soil and the handful of plants that grow there are markedly different when compared to the surrounding landscape. The watsonias and endangered Phylica natalensis look like they would be more at home among fynbos.
There are many theories about the origin of this desert, ranging from severe overgrazing in the 19th century to a visit from aliens, although the most probable explanation has something to do with geological changes in the earth’s crust during the Cretaceous period. This is also consistent with the petrified forest and fossils found about 3 km southwest of the desert, on a beach near the Wild Coast Sun Hotel. Call the hotel ( 039 305 9111) to enquire about tours of this site. No matter how it came to be, the area looks like a mini version of Arizona. Walk across the desert until you reach the grassland on the other side for a scenic view of the Umtamvuna bridge that connects KZN and the Eastern Cape. Cost: Entrance is free. Where? At the end of Maurice Road, Port Edward. Follow the route to Beaver Creek, but turn left onto Old Pont Road and left into Maurice Road. Opening times: The gate is always open. Contact: 083 631 9331; reddesertnature reserve.co.za
4 BEAVER CREEK COFFEE ESTATE
Think & drink coffee
If you can’t function without a constant supply of caffeine, you’ll love Beaver Creek. You can explore the coffee plantation while Norman Turner or one of the other baristas tells you how coffee is grown, harvested and roasted. Norman is shaky with excitement when he talks about coffee plants. ( Or maybe too much caffeine? – Ed.) After the tour he shows off his skill with a plunger and foam, and shares a delicious recipe for coffee with condensed milk. You can buy Beaver Creek coffee to take home – beans, grounds or pods for your machine. ( We can recommend Transkei Gold and Ed’s Special Blend.) You can even buy a coffee plant if you have longterm plans… There’s a restaurant next to the coffee shop where you can order a bottomless coffee (R26) – try what’s available and decide which flavour you’d like to buy. Cost: R60 per person for the tour. What’s on the menu? Coffee is the main attraction, but you can also order bacon and eggs (R40) or fresh fruit with yoghurt and muesli (R56). Breakfast is served until 11 am. They also have light meals like tramezzini, toasted sandwiches and quiche. A cheese-and-tomato toastie costs R36. Where? Izingolweni Road, Port Edward. If you’re coming from Margate, turn right at the traffic light at the Port Edward Spar and follow the road for about 4,5 km. Opening times: Weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm. The tours start at noon and take between 45 minutes and an hour. Contact: 039 311 2347; beavercreek.co.za
5 MAC BANANA
The all-in-one stop
Mac Banana is like a farm stall that swallowed an amusement park. The farm stall section has shelves stuffed with fresh fruit, nuts, sweets, biscuits and an impressive collection of jams and preserves that takes up an entire wing of the shop. They also sell cheese, wine and cold meats that will put many delis to shame. Then there are the activities… You and your kids can spend the day riding horses or quad bikes, playing Putt-Putt, doing a butterfly dome tour, swinging around in the rope adventure park, jumping on a trampoline, playing paintball or visiting the farmyard. (Each activity is charged for separately.) Scoff a pancake at the Banana Café or buy a gazania at the nursery, while your Fortuner gets cleaned at the car wash next door. Cost: Pancakes R25 to R120, depending on the filling. Horse rides R25 per child. Putt-Putt R58 per adult; R40 per child under 12. Butterfly outing R50 per adult; R40 per child. Where? Next to the R61 between Palm Beach and Munster. Opening times: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm (later during peak season). Contact: 039 319 1033; 039 319 1454 (Banana Café); macbanana.com
6 HAZEL’S WORLD OF MINIATURES
Enjoy the small things
Hazel Voice built her first doll’s house with her 70-yearold father in 1991 and since then it has grown into a beloved hobby. She calls herself a miniaturist and creates not only doll’s houses, but also small tableaus. The museum in her house consists of only two rooms, but you could easily spend an hour taking in the details in every scene, like a Victorian street tableau and a clockmaker’s workshop. Hazel is available to answer any questions while you look around. She makes all the figurines by hand and she’s always looking for new ways to make the other elements herself – like the street lights in the Victorian scene – instead of buying them. She makes the heads and hands of her figurines from Fimo polymer clay; for the rest she uses any material that gets the job done. She used a mustard tin to make the coal stove for her first doll’s house. The detail is incredible. Have a look at the Singer sewing machine in the 1950s Maid’s Room, for example, or the cuckoo clock in the scene she made for her parents to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Hazel also makes figurines to order. Cost: R20 per person. Where? 1414 Shirley Avenue, Ramsgate Opening times: By appointment only. The museum is inside Hazel’s house. Contact: 083 447 9261; hazelsworldofminiatures.co.za
GOLDEN. The beach at Scottburgh, swamped by a high tide, is a sunset playground for the young – or the young at heart.
ROCK THE BOAT. You can explore the Ramsgate Lagoon in a paddle boat.
THE WAFFLE HOUSE
HAVE A COKE AND A SMILE (above). Besides the Wild West memorabilia at Pistols Saloon, this donkey is the main attraction. He saunters into the bar from time to time to have a Coke, straight from the can.
RED DESERT NATURE RESERVE
HOWZIT BREW! Norman Turner (top), one of the baristas at Beaver Creek, impresses his guests with some fancy coffee skills. On a tour of the plantation (above) you’ll see how each new plant is tended to.
CLIP- CLOP. Pony rides at Mac Banana are a sedate jaunt around the estate under the watchful eye of a member of staff.
HAZEL’S WORLD OF MINIATURES