SIX OF THE BEST

There’s more to the KZN South Coast than surf­ing and sandy beaches. Here are six fun things to do.

go! - - Contents - WORDS & PIC­TURES ZIGI EKRON

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

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