Spring-load your September

● From brew­eries to bike-routes, con­sider these lo­cal op­tions for spring­time trav­el­ling

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Travel -

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

Pho­to­graphs: PIXABAY

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

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