The Haunting Melody of the Tankwa Karoo

The Haunting Melody of the Tankwa Karoo

Guest post by Tracy Wynter.

There are some things that money simply can’t buy: the ticking of your vehicle’s engine right after you’ve switched it off after reaching your holiday destination, just before you start unpacking, in that happy moment knowing that you’ve finally arrived; the deafening silence of a Karoo afternoon, holding its breath as the clouds gather, teasing with the promise of rain; the deliciously grassy fragrance of a horse’s breath, tickling your nose as your lean your head against its face; the reflection of the flickering fire on a half empty glass, when everyone is fed, tummies are full and all the problems of the world have been solved around that very fire ….

 

This is one of those moments. A moment when all is still, save the occasional call of an unidentified drab little bird, and the persistent buzzing of a hopeful fly. The Tankwa Karoo provokes reflection and introspection – this is not a place for the restless and easily bored, those who need to keep moving and ticking boxes in order to have their holiday dreams fulfilled. It may lack the drama and flamboyance of the Tsitsikamma, the showiness and overabundance of Addo and the gentleness of the grassy plains of Cradock. This is a place that somehow seems a little reluctant to share its magic; until you’re still, that is, and start to appreciate it for its spartan, rugged beauty.

 

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Glamping in Bergrivier’s Vintage Ox Wagons

Glamping in Bergrivier’s Vintage Ox Wagons

Glamping, a combination of glamorous and camping, is a classic oxymoron. What on earth is glamorous about camping? Although it can be argued that there is a primal allure to stumbling around in the dark with a torch strapped to your head, cooking your food on open coals, zipping yourself into a canvas tent and smelling like a campfire, it is quite simply as far from glamorous as you get.

 

But when you start from such a low base, each creature comfort you add into the mix starts to transform this primitive way of holidaying into something entirely more desirable. A stylish starting point is not having to erect your own tents. Add to this some dazzling electricity, a glitzy bush kitchen,  opulent real beds, a swanky hot shower, elegant en-suite toilet and some posh privacy and voila – glorious glam!

 

We were thoroughly delighted to discover that Bergrivier Eco Estate, located only 30 minutes’ drive from Port Elizabeth, ticks all these oxymoronic boxes, in a completely unique albeit very rustic way.  Although Bergrivier offers a few different styles of accommodation, it was their vintage ox wagons that immediately caught our eye.

 

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5 Affordable Glamping Getaways Around Port Elizabeth

5 Affordable Glamping Getaways Around Port Elizabeth

What is it with camping? Why do people spend a small fortune buying equipment to live rough in the bush when they have a solid roof over their heads and a comfy bed at home?

 

Well, according to Google there are many reasons. I particularly liked Tim Dowling from The Guardian’s take on it – “Perhaps it’s because camping is to living as cooking is to barbecuing. It’s basically an outdoor version of housekeeping. There is something so primally satisfying about escaping from our reliance on infrastructure that it turns the most tedious chore into an adventure. Suddenly making toast is interesting, just because it’s so hard.”

 

For us, getting far away from civilisation into the wild is the absolute best way to unwind, destress and enjoy real quality family time together without technology.  I have to confess though that the actual camping bit does not entirely float my boat. A resounding “Yes Please” to counting the stars at night, sharing stories around a campfire, long hikes and afternoon naps under the trees. But “Hell No” to poxy shared ablutions, leaky tents, deflating mattresses and noisy neighbours.

 

Despite the drawbacks, we seem to have become quite adept at camping (this has been our most financially viable mode of accommodation since we invested in making memories on our cross global expedition to the Canadian Rockies). I am even slightly at risk of becoming a happy camper. But there is still a very large part of me that prefers to swap the “c” for “gl”, to mitigate the roughness of living wild with a little bit of creature comfort and a lot less PT.

 

Glamping (glamorous camping) can be very expensive, in fact it’s quite easy to spend more to stay in a fancy tent than under a real roof. But we have discovered quite a few affordable glamping destinations – places in beautifully wild locations that have permanent tents with proper beds and built in lighting. Where you get to experience the real outdoors, up close and personal with Mother Nature, but still get a good night’s sleep. Where you don’t have to schlep half your house along and spend hours constructing a temporary abode but where you can still build a campfire and sleep with only a thin layer of canvas between you and the world.

 

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Why Not to Ride an Elephant – A Child Explains

Why Not to Ride an Elephant – A Child Explains

Last week we hosted visitors from the United States. They were on a countrywide tour and were in the Eastern Cape to visit our famous Addo elephants. Their highlight, they explained to us, was sure to be the elephant back safari they had booked. I bit my tongue – clearly they did not know how cruel this is to elephants.

 

We too have ridden elephants. It was only when we met Lara Mostert, avid animal rights activist and owner of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani near Plettenberg Bay, that we gained some in depth knowledge on what constitutes a true animal sanctuary, and how we can all make a difference by being responsible tourists who refuse to support facilities that place economics above ethics.

 

So if elephant back riding is cruel to elephants, how can it be that it is so popular among both tourists and locals? I guess it must be from a lack of information and education as surely most people would not knowingly support cruelty to these majestic and magnificent creatures.

 

When Cian was in Grade 6 last year, he was tasked with preparing an oral to persuade his audience about something he felt strongly about and he chose to tackle the topic of elephant back riding. His words are simple and emotive and I’ll bet they will cause you to think twice before you head off to ride an elephant.

 

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Cruising PE’s Islands with Stampede Cruises

Cruising PE’s Islands with Stampede Cruises

Have you ever noticed a swish looking catamaran cruising along Port Elizabeth’s promenade? We certainly have, and have been itching to be the ones on board, watching the city from the water.  So we booked ourselves tickets on Stampede Cruises and headed down to the harbour on a perfectly still and sunny PE morning.

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