Last Thursday I left a cold and rainy Durban to head off on a Sho’t Left adventure with South African Tourism to explore Gauteng and the North West Province.I was super excited for this trip as part of my goals for this year was to travel locally and Africa more this year.
As soon as we arrived we headed off to SA Tourism offices in Sandton to meet the rest of the Sho’t Lefters for the next few days.The home of SAT is indeed magestic and utterly beautiful.I had to capture some photos before breakfast and the briefing.It was good to see familiar faces and meet new faces and put faces to some of the social media accounts I follow.The purpose of this trip was to launch the Sho’t Left campaign which ends tomorow ,which encourages South Africans to discover their country with discounts off up to 50%.
Armed with brand powerbanks and umbrellas we got onto our coach and headed off into Soweto for the first part of our Sho’t Left.Having previously only been to Soweto once with my cousins to Zone6.It was such a cool experience and I had always wanted to return to explore more.Our first stop was Lebo’s Bicycle Tours,having used Lebo’s as an example in my lectures for Township Tourism I was glad to experience this place.Besides bicycle tours,Tuk Tuk tours are also available for Tours around Soweto.
Some of the highlights of Soweto include :
1.Vilakazi Street is probably the most famous street the Soweto. Vilakazi is the only street in the world that has housed two Nobel Prize winners- the former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
2.Orlando Cooling Towers which I will go into more detail later in this post.The Towers are a decommissioned coal-fired power station in Soweto, The power station was commissioned at the end of the Second World War and served Johannesburg for over 50 years.The two cooling towers are an iconic landmark in Soweto.
3.Kliptown is of great important in the history of South Africa as it was where 3000 people came together in 1955 to write The Freedom Charter, a statement of core values that served as the foundation for South Africa’s liberal constitution.It is also where the only hotel in Soweto can be found,Soweto Hotel.
4. The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum situated in Orlando West, Soweto. The Memorial and Museum was constructed to honor the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid. The two commemorative sites are just few blocks from where Hector Peterson a young boy was shot in 16 June 1976.
5.Mandela House the home of Nelson Mandela that is now a museum.On the property is a vistors centre and museum.Madiba did not stay here for very long as he was sent to prison.
After taking loads of pics at Lebo’s we headed off to a fleet of bright yellow Tuk Tuk’s awaiting us.Having been on a Tuk Tuk in India ,I thought this was a fantastic way to explore Soweto and it was cost effective too.Our driver was Mama Tuk Tuk ,who told us that she had been driving for over 5 years.As the Tuk Tuk is rather small there is a technique to get in and out and two people can sit comfortably.
1.Wear closed shoes as you will be walking around.
3.Carry a small backpack so it easy to move around and not in your way.
4.A small bottle of water as it does get very hot.
6.Bring a packet of sealed sweets so you can give to the little children.
7.Be mindful of the privacy of the residents.
8.Do not take photos of the children.
We stopped at various places around Soweto and had a guided tour of the area and her people.The locals are friendly so do greet them.We walked into areas which intially housed men who were working on the mines and now house families.Every home housed some sort of shop seling all sorts from ice to locally brewed beer to food.The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Vilakazi Street were on the tour before we headed back to Lebo’s for a traditional meal.Lunch was a traditional meal with served where we started our Tuk Tuk journey oh and make sure you order a pineapple juice because it is the legit real pineapple and not a blended out of the carton juice.
Next stop was the iconic Soweto Cooling,the unused Soweto Towers have now been turned into an adventure centre.There are a range of adrenalin activities for everyone.I chickened out and I had a deadline for the next day so I sat out the activities and worked amidst the shrieks of laughter and terror of my fellow travellers.
1.Do not wear loose clothing wear fitted clothing.
2.Remove your glasses/sunglasses.
4.Do not eat a big meal before your activities.
5.Carry cash to pay for your photos.
Exhausted after a long day we headed to our hotel for the evening to Soweto Hotel.We quickly had time to freshen up and head out for dinner back to Vilakazi Street which was still a buzz of activity.Tummies full ,tired and a hundred new memories we headed back to our hotel to best before we headed off to the North West Province for the next two days.
Our day started rather early the next morning as we headed North.Our guide Mpho whose tour company transported us throughout our Sho’t Left adventure always ensured we were comfortable,hydrated and well informed of journey and pointed out places of interest along the way.We headed straight to the Harties Aerial Cableway and got up that mountain.The ride up is just a few minutes it is relatively smooth with the occasional bump as it goes over a cable station.It is defo worth a trip up with incredible views all round.I can imagine how stunning a sunset would be up here.There are two eateries up there and a bar for liquid refreshments.
Then it was time to head off to go-karting but eager beaver had a Google moment and realised we were rather close to Fake Paris.There was no way I could be so close and not go here.After chatting to Mpho he agreed to stop for 15minutes ! Guys this place is beautiful if you closed your eyes then opened them you would believe you were in Paris.
Ah Paris you are so beautiful and not forgetting the love locks everywhere so authenic and yes you can add your own here.The French Toast Cafe , was specially built as the official ‘Bar’ in the movie French Toast, which in Montmartre, Paris, France playback, and it is known as Café Alexandre in the movie.So everything is made to look very French.I am a huge fan of eating French Toast and I have been told the food here is amazing so next time I am defo eating here.I did not know about the South African movie am defo adding it to my list of movies to watch.After the go karting we headed off to our home for the night Riverstone Lodge.
A quick check in and we headed off to our rooms.On entering my room I was amazed at just how spacious the room and bathroom was.The bathroom was out of this world with a gorgeous bath tub that just tempted you to have a soak.Well needless to say everyone arrived a lil later to dinner but looking a lot more relaxed.Dinner was a typical South African Food offering of a braai and salads as I was fasting I opted for a pizza.
And then it was morning and we headed off for our last day of adventure which include Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng.Having visited Maropeng many moons ago I was still just as intrigued by the history.
1.Buy a combination ticket works out cheaper.
2.Dress comfy with sneakers.
3.The caves have 150 stairs to climb and very narrow passages so might not be approptiate for young children,elderly or those with medical conditions.
4.Allocate sufficent time to explore at leisure as there is a wealth of information here.
A new addition to Maropeng is the Long March to Freedom installation
The installation is literally what can be best described as an army of bronzed statutes of men and women who all played a part in the history of South Africa and fought for the freedom of all South Africans.Many are popular faces but some are unknown heros.Next to each statue is signage with a story about the person.One does need some time to spend here absorbing the history.This is such an eye opening display and every South African and visitor should check out the Long March to Freedom to understand the past and the present.
It was time to head to our last destination and us tired travellers were really looking forward to some chill time.Our home for the night was the gorgeous and very African property called
The property has 195 rooms ,conferancing venues,a spa and an amazing eatery called Carnivore.After a quick check in it was time for some pampering but as we walked through the establishment I felt like I was in the middle of an African village in the heart of Africa ok ok minus the occasion golf cart ferrying guests to their rooms.Water features and gardens on literally every corner created a feeling of serenity.
The Spa area was set in a tranquil garden area.The interior had a old school charm about it with a tea area set up with a Lavazza machine and eats.My therapist was amazing and worked on all those knots in my back and neck.All I wanted after that was a warm shower and to curl up in bed.I went off to locate my “room” which ended up been magnificent suite with my own plunge pool,outdoor shower and a divine sunken bathtub.Oh hello Bubble bath ! After a quick photo session and video call to show my mum my suite I ran my tub and sunk into a bubble bath cocoon for 30 minutes before getting ready for dinner.
Dinner was at the famous Carnivore eatery on the premises which is basically an all you can eat meat buffet.In the centre of the eatery is a coal pit with huge almost spear like rods roasting chicken,beef,pork,zebra,crocodile,impala and venison.A lazy susan of sauces and side dishes are brought to the table for sharing.Throughout the evening there was a constant supply of meat been brought to the table and carved for you.As I was fasting I sampled two veg dishes but I am defo coming back to eat some meat.Full to the brim and tired we headed off to sleep it all off.I was tempted to take a bubble bath again but left that for the morning.
And just like that my Sho’t Left was over and it was time to head back to reality.Check out the Sho’t Left over here you have until midnight to book.If I have not inspired you to travel locally here are 50 reasons to explore South Africa.
As we headed to the airport I realised why I love travel and mostly it is about the people you meet ,the food you eat and the cultures you discover.I travelled with an amazing bunch of people and hopefully I get to travel with them again.
Read these posts by my some of my travel companions :
Lerato says her experience https://www.leratolefafa.com/southafrica/gauteng
So what are you waiting for go on your Sho’t Left and experience South Africa !
Be Inspired !