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5 Ways to see the ‘Real’ Cape Town

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Guest post by Christopher Clark.

 

I left my native Britain for South Africa’s Mother City back in 2009 thinking I might hang around for a few months and play a bit of cricket.

Suddenly it’s 2014, I’m still here and I haven’t picked up my cricket bat once (apart from the time I thought someone was breaking into my flat). I don’t really know how it all happened, but I’ve certainly got the Cape Town bug alright.

Here are a few of my recommendations on how to fall in love with my adopted city:

 

1.) Party in a township

Many of the tourists that come to Cape Town leave with a pretty limited view of what the city really is. They see the plush restaurants and hotels at the V&A Waterfront and Camps Bay, take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, hit a few nice beaches, then head home with a suitcase full of overpriced carved wooden elephants and tell everyone that the road surfaces were surprisingly good.

However, the overwhelming majority of Cape Town’s residents inhabit a pretty different world. That world is broadly referred to as the Cape Flats, and constitutes the range of largely-impoverished informal settlements and townships that sprawl beyond the city proper. For me, the best and easiest way to experience a fun slice of this other side of Cape Town life is to head to Mzoli’s Place in the township of Gugulethu.

 
Cape Flats

Cape Flats. Photo: flickr, Chris Preen.

 

Mzoli’s is essentially a (not very) glorified butchery. You buy your raw meat over the counter, take it out to a dark cavern full of wood fires at the back, then go find a seat under the canopy outside until it’s done. While you wait you can go and buy drinks from across the road, where a number of local residents’ houses serve as makeshift bars and bottle shops. Read More »

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Losing Track of Time in Tofo, Mozambique

Filed under Africa, Diving, Guest articles, Snorkelling
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Guest post by Christopher Clark.

 

You cross an arbitrary and essentially imaginary line and, suddenly, everything is different. Rarely had this feeling been more pronounced than when the bus carried me across the border between South Africa and Mozambique, on its way from Johannesburg to Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.

The undulating sing song sounds of African Portuguese quickly replaced any trace of South African English; I left my name behind on one side of the border and picked up a new name on the other. The currency was different, the people looked different too, so did the products being sold at the liquor stores and food stalls. Even the terrain changed. For some hours, we had been cutting like a dagger through the low, golden savanna of South Africa’s Kruger National Park; now all around me were dense swathes of green palms and jungle marshland. It was hotter, more humid.

I was excited.

A Crumbling Colonial Capital

We left the border behind and arrived in Maputo in the early evening with the sun just beginning to set – a hazy pink hue was being drawn like a blanket over the city and a light sea breeze whispered through the tree-lined streets.

Having thrown down my bags in a popular and social backpackers named Fatima’s, I set out in search of food with a couple of other Englishmen I had just met. As we walked through the cobbled streets of the old town, it all felt very Mediterranean with the numerous Portuguese colonial structures coloring the city in summery pinks and oranges. Travelling through Africa is always an interesting lesson in colonial architecture, though many of the buildings in Maputo were not in the best condition and clearly bore the scars of previous decades of civil war and a still struggling economy.

 
Photo: Jo Barr.

Photo: Jo Barr.

 

We bought beautiful, fresh prawns and barracuda at the large and bustling central fish market, where you can then take your purchases to one of the eating houses around the periphery of the market and have it cooked for you with local spices, lemon, butter and garlic. This is certainly worth the small extra fee. Read More »

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Kruger National Park, South Africa

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South Africa has been on my mind for years, inspiring daydreams of endless adventure. The nature of this land is a living tribute to our roots, since it is said that South Africa is the cradle of humanity. It is a place where you’ll experience nature with all it’s unforgiving wildness, alongside the best in luxury stays – if it’s what you so desire.

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Kruger National Park is one of the greatest Natural Parks I have ever been to – the park is  the size of a small country itself, in fact it’s about the same size as Israel or Wales!

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Top 10 Places to Visit in Africa

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“This article is brought to you by Mahlatini Luxury Travel. Mahlatini specialize in luxury travel to Africa, tailoring bespoke honeymoons, safaris and family holidays. Our intimate knowledge of each unique region and the finest properties they have to offer, will ensure you have the very best African adventure.”

 

It’s safe to say most travel lovers have ‘Africa’ on or near the top of their list. Fifty-three nations make up this continent, reaching from Algeria to South Africa. Africa may be unparalleled in diversity and vibrancy, and the continent’s cultural richness is rivalled only by its natural wonders. The continent is huge, the cultures expansive, and the experiences abound, so making this dream a reality can easily overwhelm. If you’ve always wanted to go to Africa, let this list of the top ten places to visit in Africa guide your planning process.

 

Zambia - Helicopter flights over Falls - Photo by Wilderness Safaris

Zambia – Helicopter flights over Falls – Photo by Wilderness Safaris

 

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Toubab Dialao, Senegal

Filed under Africa, Beaches, Curiosities, general
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A 45-minute drive from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, the quaint fishing village of Toubab Dialao is one of the West African country’s most loved off-beat destinations and for good reason.

Some rights reserved by robin.elaine

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Ethiopian Food: Addis Restaurant, London

Filed under Africa, England, London
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Most of the time, living in Yorkshire is rather pleasant. Quiet, homey, down-to-earth, lots of sheep. Nice place to raise kids. But despite the small-town charm of northern England, much of me still yearns for the faster hustle of the city–and luckily for me, London is a mere three hours away. I get enough English culture at home. When I go to London, it’s to experience the world; if you can’t find it there, you simply aren’t looking hard enough. And on our last trip to London, priority number one was getting a type of cuisine we hadn’t had in a very, very long time: Ethiopian food. Addis, conveniently located near King’s Cross Station, delivered…and then some.

Main course. Photo by deannanmc.

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One Love: Jamaica’s Impression

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In one of my past lives, I was a music blog editor. This is not a music review, but just a confession that I learned more about music from my travels to Treasure Beach, Jamaica than in the hundreds of hours of listening to new indie rock albums in Brooklyn. Think of Jamaican music and think of Bob Marley, and for good reason, of course. Though in Treasure Beach I think I got a taste of that “One love,” feeling he sings about.

Looking towards Great Bay - Photo by Jamie Bright

Looking towards Great Bay - Photo by Jamie Bright

It’s always tough to arrive somewhere in the dark. After flying into Montego Bay around 6 p.m. (customs was CRAZY – We got the tip to avoid flying into Jamaica on Saturday, it’s when many of the resorts all-inclusive patrons arrive) we hopped in a friend’s car and drove for three hours to Treasure Beach.  The sun was setting as we began, so I only got a quick glimpse of  the skinny strips of pavement between potholes as we exited Mo’Bay center.  I love these kind of death-defying rides, truthfully – and since I couldn’t see much, I dared close my eyes and luxuriated in the smell of cookfires and the sounds of cicadas as we whizzed by.

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Greeters Network: Welcomed by Locals

Filed under Adventure, Africa, Culture, Eco Travel, Volunteering
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What do Buenos Aires, Houston, Bilbao, Kent, England, the Ivory Coast, Toronto and Berlin (and more!) have in common? In these cities, the locals, known as Greeters, welcome tourists and escort them through their home city, for free.  These volunteers aim to show a tourist the parts of the city that truly play a role in their everyday lives. What a way to discover a new place.

Melbourne Greeter Service in November 2008

The recipe for success: locals welcome tourists and show them their city. Photo: Melbourne Greeter Service

This program is a very unique offer of companionship and a way to see a new city off the beaten path.  In 1992, the first “welcome visitor” program like this emerged in New York, and has the idea to conquer the whole world.  Meanwhile, in 23 cities Greeters are now welcoming tourists.  I spoke with Zoya Shurygina from Moscow, Anne Chabot from Marseilles and Anne Macvean from Melbourne, each currently volunteering as Greeters in their city.

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Taking the Leap: How to Move Abroad, Rwanda Edition

Filed under Adventure, Africa, Culture, Travel Tips
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Been thinking of moving abroad? Cara Silva and her partner Casey Cobell had dreams of Africa together.  The land called to them, and they knew they had to make it happen.  Here’s there story of what brought them to Rwanda, and how they made the dream turn into a reality – it’s really large leap of faith!  Another inspiring story full of tips on how to make your desire to live abroad come to fruition.

Cara Silva and husband Casey Cobell

Why Rwanda? Tell us about taking off for Africa.

If I am honest with myself, I have been drawn to Africa since I was a child.  I wish I could pinpoint what it was, or when it was, but I just can’t seem to do it.    There are some images that I do remember inspiring me when I was young: watching the graceful African animals run along the plains on National Geographic, seeing the images of African children with distended tummies during the severe drought in Ethiopia in the 1980s, the large media hype around Bono’s One Campaign splashed everywhere in the U.S., and reading about how the AIDS epidemic has plagued the continent far beyond anywhere else on this earth.  Something about all of this, and probably much more, put a longing in my heart…but that is not where it ended.

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