A few weeks ago I received an intriguing email that instantly lit a flame inside of me. The email was from Mazda, tasking me with showcasing the beauty of the province that I live in using their sleek Mazda CX-5 as part of the country’s first Virtual Road Trip. The campaign was all about recreating memories that everyday South Africans had graciously shared with them, given that many of them are unable to recreate them themselves due to the current restrictions on inter-provincial travel. I was so eager to get involved with this campaign because I am a huge fan of road trips, as they were also a huge part of my childhood.
The two finalists whose memories I was tasked with recreating were Kavendree Muthu-Kurten and Roselin Pillay, both of whom live in Kwazulu Natal and love exploring the beauty of their home province. After a phone call with these two amazing ladies, the excitement for my #MazdaVirtualRoadTrip really kicked in. I started off with Roselin’s memories, which included the picturesque beaches of the South Coast. Her images made it clear that her hubby and her loved the outdoors and are passionate about exploring the hidden gems of their home town. Kavendree’s memories included a visit to the glimmering Lake Eland and Leopards Rock on the South Coast. Her family loves this area because they are avid thrill seekers (her little one included).
Every road trip needs planning, especially one in the time of Covid-19. To add some luxury to my road trip, Mazda delivered an automatic Mazda CX-5 for the trip. Upon receiving the car, I was taken aback by the gorgeous design, sleek curves, luxurious interior and expansive boot space. Boot space is of huge importance for me, and is something I use as a ‘ticking box’ when considering a new vehicle. The Mazda CX-5 had no issue ticking that box. As we have not been out at all during Lockdown, I decided to make this a family road trip with my mum and my brother.
I am a planner of note and have no issue admitting it. With Covid19 a huge part of our lives I needed to make sure that we had everything we needed, and of course – we needed some good old Padkos. Most avid ‘road trippers’ will tell you that padkos is an essential that you simply can’t forget about, and we weren’t about to go against the experts.
Food we packed:
• 1. Individually wrapped rolls or burgers.
• 2. Small packets of chips.
• 3. Mini bars of chocolates.
• 4. Small packets of fruits and nuts.
• 5. Mini pizzas
• 6. Mini bread rolls filled.
• 7. Fruit juice/water/fizzy drinks.
• 8. Sweets.
For me, catering is relatively easy – my mum is a vegetarian and I often tend to have a stock of frozen savouries from Savoury Boutique on hand. They honestly make life easier and their products are delish. Besides food there are other things to pack for your road trip:
• 1. Empty packets for dirt.
• 2. A sealed container of serviettes.
• 3. Individual packs of small sanitisers and wet wipes for each person.
• 4. Do not forget to take your masks.
• 5. Carry cash as some places like the Toll booths do not take cards.
• 6. Jackets, caps/hats and sunglasses.
For a road trip it is important to check your car before you leave, making sure that:
• 1. You have a full tank of petrol.
• 2. Spare tyre is in good condition.
• 3. Indicators work.
• 4. Hooter works.
Most importantly, dress comfortably! This will add an extra element of comfort to your trip, allowing you to enjoy it that much more. The Mazda CX-5 seats are very comfy and, as a plus size girl I felt really comfortable and not in the slightest claustrophobic. We headed off just after 10am and made our way down the coast.
Having been down the South Coast a few times over the years, I still was so excited to be able to see the world, get some fresh air and spend time with my family. Throughout the trip we kept our masks on, and were still able to keep our distance thanks to the Mazda CX-5’s spacious interior. As we went along, we tuned into our local station ECR and watched the landscape change, with the sea occasionally peeping its head out every so often. The MZD Connect feature was fantastic, allowing us to link our smartphones to play our favourite playlists, use google maps and so much more. I simply loved how intelligent the car technology was. This was mum’s first trip to Lake Eland. My last trip there was in a bus filled with students and boy oh boy do I remember feeling sick on those previously bumpy, windy roads. My brother (the car expert) was super impressed with the Mazda CX-5 and it’s features, especially the ones designed specifically for the driver, such as the Lane Keeping Assistance, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure warning and the Parking sensor in both the front and rear. The Mazda CX-5 made the drive exceptionally smooth, handling the curves and bends so effortlessly.
We arrived at Lake Eland and were rather surprised to see how many people had the same idea about a game drive. Whilst my mum and brother had a stretch outside the vehicle I headed inside the shop to buy our entry tickets. It cost a mere R170 for 3 of us, with mum getting a pensioners discount. All Covid-19 safety protocols were in place, including temperature scanning, contact details taken, hand sanitizers and screenings at the counter.
On my last trip to Lake Eland, we ended up only seeing Antelopes and a few Eland, but this time around we managed to see a few different types of buck, loads of Zebras, Warthogs (AKA little Pumbas) running around and lastly, some giraffes grazing peacefully from the trees. One of Kavendree’s images that qualified her as a finalist was of a Zebra giving birth. I knew we would not be that lucky, but we were fortunate enough to see several baby Zebras and bucks, which made up for it.
We headed to the Zip line centre, which was a bit too busy, so we decided to park away from the crowds, and rather took in some of the beautiful views there and carried on driving. We drove on further to a viewpoint with a pier, and Mum and I ventured out for a little walk, ensuring not to go too close to the edge but (mum is afraid of heights). Further up the route we encountered the famous suspension bridge, which was also rather busy – prompting us to rather walk around and take some images. By this time the Mazda CX-5 looked like she had been in a full on safari with all the dust. But let’s just say she handled the dirt road with such ease and we did not feel a single bump along the way. All in all the Lake Eland trip was worth its price and a great addition to any road trip down the coast. Roughly two hours are needed to see everything.
In conversation with Kavendree she spoke about the Mac Farm Stall that sold the freshest Macadamia Nuts. And since mum has an obsession with nuts, we decided to make a quick stop there. The store had a variety of locally produced sweet treats which, we could not resist buying some of each (and maybe some extra too). We decided to enjoy our Padkos here too before we heading home. On the way home, my brother noticed a small hidden Hindu Temple which I felt that we absolutely had to stop at.
The temple dates back to 1939 and is the Umzimkulwana Shri Shiva Soobramoniar Temple. Everything was locked but so beautifully maintained. I took off my shoes and wandered into the temple yard to take some pictures. For just a moment I was taken back to the temples of Mauritius only to be brought back by the sound of a nearby hooter. I said a little prayer and left the temple with a sudden interest to learn more about its origins.
Beach days are very typical getaway options for locals and understandably so – we do have some amazing beaches along the South Coast. It is no wonder the second finalist Roselin and her hubby found themselves escaping her for some quiet time. We decided to head home but stop along the way at some must-see beach spots. Our first stop was at Scottburgh, a famous family picnic spot. It was super windy, but the ocean’s mystical colours were so stunning, that it made the crazy hair worth it. This seaside town has summer holiday written all over it. A colleague once mentioned that in the 1980’s it was a popular honeymoon destination. As we were driving out I noticed signs to Umkomaas, and given that I had never been there, I decided to make the detour.
My brother was surprised that I had not been here, and was eager to show me the several holiday cottages and apartments that were super close to the beach and boasted incredible views that make one want to return again and again. People were out enjoying the sea breeze and fishermen galore along the beach. We started to approach a rather pink building which I had only seen from the freeway and knew it was the world famous Aliwal Shoal, a place where local and foreign tourists visit to learn and go diving.
The drive was so relaxing and comfortable as we all chatted about my Dad, Gran and Uncle who have all passed on. Life is all about making memories and living in that moment and the #MazdaVirtualRoadTrip gave us three all that and much more.
The Engineer’s Vision of the Mazda CX-5
“Our dream is to create an emotional connection between drivers and passengers with the Mazda CX-5. We were determined to create an SUV that gives drivers pleasure that increases every time they drive it and make friends and family feel relaxed, happy and outstandingly comfortable.”
And the vision is exactly what we felt as we made our way home tired, happy and relaxed.
With the new Level 2 Travel restrictions in place now more than ever is the perfect time to go explore South Africa.
Be Inspired !