Spring-load your September
● From breweries to bike-routes, consider these local options for springtime travelling
As the nights shorten and the days become warmer, it’s time to hit the road to savour some of SA’s best attractions.
From breweries to bikeroutes, kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair) brand communications manager Luane Lavery suggests the following local options for springtime travelling:
Western Cape: flowers and a road trip
The West Coast explodes in a vivid display of wild flowers every spring, drawing visitors from all over the world.
But you need not drive too far to be dazzled by the colours. Head north up the R27 or N7 motorways and the fields around you are sure to show their blooming beauty from about this time of year.
For regular flower-spotters, the West Coast National Park is an annual pilgrimage.
It is about 90 minutes’ drive north of Cape Town and its 35,000ha includes beaches, braai spots, vast, open spaces, walking and biking trails, a shipwreck and lots of birdlife. ● See www.sanparks.org/ parks/west_coast/ for details and offers of discounts on entry.
Lavery’s tip: Take your foot off the accelerator and stop at some of the many farm stalls along the way. She recommends the carrot cake and cappuccino served by Aaron, the waiter at Beulah near Yzerfontein, which is rated 4/5 by Tripadvisor.
Weskus Spens is renowned for its pies and homemade gin- gerbeer, freshly baked bread and preserves. It is on the R27, 10km before Vredenberg.
The West Coast Farm Stall has a sit-down restaurant serving traditional fare, such as oxtail, tripe and bobotie.
On weekends there’s weigh-and-pay buffet.
If you have visited the farming town of Darling you have probably also spent time at Evita se Perron – a museum, cabaret theatre and restaurant that examines the cruel absurdity of apartheid politics.
While the venue remains well worth a visit, Lavery also recommends the Darling Brew microbrewery nearby.
Its tasting room offers fine beers and platters of good local cheeses, cured meats, greens (the olives are a local speciality), wines and bread.
Eastern Cape: Coastal getaway
The unspoilt beauty of parts of this province invites exploration and Lavery particularly recommends the Umngazi River Bungalows and Spa in Port St Johns.
It has been a family favourite for many decades, but is also an ideal destination for couples, friends and singles, with its warm seas and lush vegetation on offer.
Accommodation ranges from spacious family suites to honeymoon love-nests.
There is plenty to do, from long walks or bike-rides on the beaches, to canoeing up the river and exploring the mangroves.
You can make the most of the Wild Coast’s balmy climate with sunset cruises, spa treatments, fishing and tennis, and there’s a water park for the youngsters.
● Visit www.umngazi.co.za
Garden Route enchantment
Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours operates in what is arguably SA’s most majestic old-growth forest, with some Outeniqua Yellowwood trees estimated to be about 700 years old.
A good way to appreciate their splendour is 30m up, along hundreds of metres of ziplines.
● Visit www.canopytour.co.za
Gauteng: Purple spectacle
Springtime brings one of SA’s great annual events to Pretoria, when the city’s 70,000 jacaranda trees explode into bloom, says Lavery, who suggests parking your hired car at the famed Union Buildings and strolling eastward along Government Avenue.
This is one of the few thoroughfares with double rows of jacarandas, planted to shade civil servants as they walked to the seat of government.
Pretoria can be sweltering in summer, but in spring it is mild and welcoming to civil servants – shady or not – and visitors!
Lavery also suggests an or- ganised visit to Pretoria Zoo by night. Between September and March, visitors can see the nocturnal behaviour of many fascinating creatures, with a one-hour guided walk as evening sets in.
Braai fires are available for those who would like to end the evening with a traditional chop ’ndop. Facilities are also available to camp overnight at the zoo.
● See www.nzg.ac.za
Pretoria also has a burgeoning markets scene, including the Market @ The Sheds, run by a non-profit collective focusing on urban renewal in the Pretoria CBD.
It offers fashion, live music, good wine, cocktails and coffee, and a pop-up art exhibition.
Hazel Food Market focuses, as the name suggests, on good grub, with about 80 stalls – mostly operated by the folk who produce the fare – and trestle tables under trees in Greenlyn Village Centre in Menlyn Park. It is open on Sat-
urday mornings and some evenings. There are also play facilities for kids.
● See https:/ /showme.co.za/pretoria/ events-entertainment/ hazel-food-market-3/
Pretoria Boeremark: This is a firm locals’ favourite, where those selling traditional produce are mostly the farmers themselves. Expect traditional flavourful, aromatic fare including handmade yoghurt, rusks, preserves and herbs, as well as fresh meat.
Apart from the food, you can also buy jewellery, woodwork and clothing.
● See www. pretoriaboeremark.co.za
KwaZulu-Natal: Ocean and mountain adventures
The Indian Ocean is vital to KwaZulu-Natal tourism and its economy. It is warmer yearround than the Atlantic Ocean further south and a playground for millions of South Africans.
One good way to experience it this spring is to take a charter cruise out to sea. Sightings of whales, dolphins, sunfish and many other ocean denizens are common.
Charter outfits like ABM Charters, African Queen and Blue Water Charters offer cruises offshore and in the busy harbour, as well as deepsea fishing.
● See www.bluewatercharters.co.za
Don’t fancy being on the ocean wave? Take a hike! The Drakensberg Mountain range offers short and multi-day treks for all levels of fitness.
Try the five-hour, 11km Injisuthi Battle Cave walk, which takes you to waterfalls and the cave itself, with its dazzling and mysterious cave art.
● See http://www.kznwildlife.com/
As an alternative to – or reward for – such exertions, linger on the Midlands Meander, a network of routes offering accommodation, arts and crafts, artisanal foods and more.
Lavery’s pick is Indezi River Creamery near Curry’s Post, known for the range and quality of its dairy products.
● See www.indezi.co.za
If you have visited the farming town of Darling you have probably also spent time at Evita se Perron – a museum, cabaret theatre and restaurant
The Drakensberg Mountain range offers treks for all levels of fitness. Try the Injisuthi Battle Cave walk, which takes you to waterfalls and dazzling cave art
JUNGLE FUN: Zip-lining is a great way to experience the Garden Route’s Tsitsikamma forest
RIVER RIDE: Canoeing is just one of the things to do at Umngazi River Bungalows and Spa in Port St Johns
PURPLE RAIN: Pretoria’s iconic jacaranda trees explode with colour in spring
MOUNTAINOUS SPLENDOUR: The majestic Drakensberg Mountain range
FLOWER POWER: The West Coast is famous for its vivid display of wild flowers every spring