Savvy Joburg Bicycle Tour

Embrace the vibrant energy of the locals and at the same time discover historical sites and stunning architecture of an inner-city experience. Encountering the city from a bicycle is an eco-friendly form of travel that ensures you get the true feel for the city and its people.

I set out feeling slightly apprehensive, I last cycled over 10 years ago. My head was swirling with so many questions, would I manage to ride a bicycle for a couple of hours ( wondering about my fitness levels at this point ), was it safe to ride around these suburbs , would it be worth my while ? Well those thoughts of insecurity vanished in a flash. Riding a bicycle is a skill we never loose, the bikes had gears making it a breeze for the one or two up hills we endured. I felt 100 % safe, the local communities know Franck Leya, the CEO of Honest Travel Experiences so when they see the group peddling along there are many welcoming greetings shouted across the streets. Was it worth my while ? what a silly question, it was worth more than its weight in gold – I loved it.

Frank , CEO of Honest Travel

Cycling along, the pace allows you to soak in your surroundings in a way that you cannot appreciate from your car window. When something grabbed my attention we could stop and photograph it or talk about it. I have always had a love for the city and have been fascinated by its many faces, so to get up close and personal just made it all the more special.

The Barnato Gates

We set out from Ponte where we received a briefing on our bikes, safety talk and the route we would take. Working through a section of Hillbrow and learning about the 31 December activities that take place each year we moved on to see the Barnato gates at the old Johannesburg Girls school. Feeling peckish we stopped for a Kato , an authentic South African street food, it was mouth watering and incredibly filling. Next stop was the Door of Hope, aka The hole in the wall, where abandoned babies are left. Touching on Yeoville, attention was paid to the many historic synagogues, churches and old houses. Free wheeling down Stewart Drive was exhilarating, I was having a blast. The freedom and fun of being in command of my bike, knowing that the brakes where all that stopped me becoming a part of the tar mack gave the adrenaline an extra boost.

Leaving Ponte, wearing our facemarks

Cruising the streets of Bertams, Ellis Park and finally finishing off in Bezuidenhout Valley for high tea at Moon Valley ,with the many talented actors and actresses was the perfect way to end a day, filled with adventure and appreciation of the City of Gold.

Street store in Bertrams

What you will gain from this experience :

A wealth of information
Increase your fitness levels
Meet new people and make many friends
Contribute to the local communities with buying local
See the lifestyles of people beyond the usual tourist sites
Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the sounds of a bustling city
Personal interaction with the local guides – the glue that holds the tour together.
An authentic and rewarding way to interact with the variety of cultures
A huge dose of the “ WOW “ factor
Expertly designed trip to ensure every moment matters
A photo album on your camera or phone, that celebrates the art, culture and people

Tour Highlights:
A full day experience on pedals, exploring some hidden gems
Enjoy a traditional African street food – the Kota
Short skit performance put on at Moon Valley but local actors and actresses
Feel the hospitality of the locals as you traverse the streets
Unforgettable scenery
Outstanding adventure
Free wheel down the dramatic Stewart Drive
Venture through the forgotten streets of the older Johannesburg suburbs

Characters from Moon Valley

I learnt so much as I peddled along I love being a tourist in my own city. Travel local is so important as we should all know what is on our door step and the history and people that surrounds us.
Honest Travel Experiences creates the magic,having been in the tourism sector for over 7 years they know how to cater for individuals needs as well as support local communities by giving back.
This epic bike tour lets you enjoy the urban beauty of Johannesburg and its diverse people, I will cherish this experience for a life time.

Day trip in The Kruger Park

The Kruger National Park was established by its namesake, Paul Kruger, the South African President of the day in 1898. It is one of the largest nature conservation areas in the world. Not only is it home to the Big 5 but it is found in two of our provinces, Mupumulanga and Limpopo. The park also borders two countries, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park was proclaimed on the 9 December 2002, this 35,000km2 peace park links some of the best and most established wildlife areas in Southern Africa.

Crocodile River at the Kruger Park

I set out for a self – drive day trip, eager to see how many animals I would encounter. A day trip to the Kruger Park is ideal for the entire family, children are always eager to see the animals up close in their natural habitat.

After driving for some time I decided to stretch my legs on the giant rock at Mathekenyane Lookout on my way to Skukuza camp, I realised with deep appreciation for our country that we often overlook the dramatic landscapes that are on our doorstep. From my vantage point, no matter where I looked there was untamed natural wilderness. Time seems to stand still as one acquires a deep sense of connection to the nature surrounding us, I felt both excited and calm.

The three founders of the National Park where President Paul Kruger who through his farsighted statesmanship was largely instrumental in fostering an awareness of nature conservation in the old Boer Republic, Piet Grobler – Minister of Lands, who piloted the National Parks bill through Parliament on 31 May 1926. This simultaneously led to the proclamation of the Kruger National Park and Lt Col. James Stevenson Hamilton who became warden of the Sabie Reserve on 1 July 1902. He remained warden of the Kruger Park until his retirement on 30 April 1946.

Kruger Park founders

The Kruger Park opened its gates to the public in 1927 for the hefty price of 1 Pound per vehicle. The long park has nine entrances that generally open at 5h30 during the summer months and close at 18h30. Skukuza airport that is found inside the park not only operates for charted flights but also daily scheduled flights from JHB, CT and Durban.

Skukuza camp at Kruger Park

There is always the big question : When is it best to visit the Kruger Park ? In my opinion it has always been in the winter months, June to August. I visited now at the end of June as a day visitor, due to COVID regulations no camping or staying over is allowed. The dry bush and dwindling water holes make it easy to spot the wildlife, the animals have become braver due to the lack of tourists and herds of elephants, rhino, buck, zebra and giraffes are easy to spot along the road. A day spent traveling around ends with the African sunset, the perfect canvas silhouetting the wildlife going home after a memorable day in the Park.

Giraffe at the Kruger Park

I was ecstatic to see not one, but two herds of rhino, the Park’s anti-poaching unit consists of 650 specially trained anti-poaching game rangers who are assisted by the South African Police and the SANDF. The majority of the poachers enter from the Mozambique side, with the aid of a specialist dog unit, drones and two Gazelle helicopters the unthinkable task of ending poaching is making progress together with education in local communities.

Rhino at The Kruger Park

Sanparks announced on 6 June 2020 that self- drive excursions for day visitors would be permitted from 8 June 2020 in all parks country wide that cater for self-drives. Guests are asked wear masks, maintain social distance, follow transport capacity directives and dispose of rubbish in the brown paper bag issued on arrival. Provincial border crossing is not permitted without a travel permit.

Crocodile at Kruger Park

The crown jewel of Southern Africa this unspoiled African bushveld made me realise why my roots are deep in Africa. It’s an experience that connects you with the wild side and can only be fully understood once you have breathed the African wilderness and witnessed the charismatic animals up close , wandering freely in their homeland.

Ground Hornbill at Kruger Park

Lockdown in Black & White

The evening of the 15 March I was relaxing in luxury, in my 5 star hotel room at the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town. There was much anticipation around the speech that President Cyril Ramaphosa would deliver that evening. Cape Town had been quiet with only a few locals out walking their dogs and soaking up the suns rays, social distancing was already taking place and a sense of uneasiness was hanging in the air. Little did we know that evening would be the start of major change in South Africa. The 16 March saw me boarding a plane back to Johannesburg, the flight was full to capacity , if I knew then what I know now, I would have savoured every moment in the sky. This was going to be my last flight for a long time.


1 March First case confirmed in SA, from a group returning from Italy
5 March Minister of health Zweli Mkhize confirmed the spread to South Africa
15 March President Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster
17 March Government established the National Coronavirus Command Centre
18 March Schools closed, immediate travel restrictions
23 March National lockdown announced
26 March At midnight lockdown came into effect , it would be for 21 days to contain the spread
21 April 500 billion Rand stimulus announced
1 May Gradual and phased easing of lockdown announced
28 May Confirmed cases 24 264, Recovered 12 741 and deaths in SA 524
1 June Moving into Level 3 of lockdown


Driving the streets of Johannesburg ( with a permit ) and taking photos allowed me to experience surreal moments. Moments that I will probably never again see in my life. To think that over night a city with over 8000 000 people can suddenly became desolate. It was plain and simply eery.

My first photo was on the 27 March at 6h30am on Louise Botha Avenue, a normally bustling road connecting Hillbrow to Alexandra. Suddenly there wasn’t a car or human in sight.

30 March we made cloud coffee, the craze that took social media by storm. One hadn’t survived quarantine if they hadn’t made this coffee. Recipes were consuming social media. Suddenly recipe swopping became the norm again, Nigella Lawson’s were emerging in households across South Africa. Families became so excited with the new found talents emerging from women. Two weeks in, the weight gain was taking its toll and exercising was now getting discussed.

7 April my twins turned 11 years old. They would celebrate their birthday in quarantine, no party, no family meal at a restaurant, not even hugs and kisses from close friends and family. This was also the first time we encountered the Military , they were at a local mall.

Birthday cake and shoes

9 April was a drive through Joburg CBD. Never could I imagine what an empty city felt like. The streets were spotless, there was ample parking outside the High Court, Ghandi Square didn’t have a single bus. I wished I could have spent hours driving the streets admiring the beautiful buildings. Reality hit me when a homeless man wandered across the road, looking so forlorn. He didn’t come to beg, he just looked like the wind had blown out of his sails. The vibe and energy of the city that was his home had vanished and I wondered how much he understood of it.

Ghandi Square

25 April while walking through Sandton City, I was attracted to the Diamond Walk. The designer stores were empty. Expensive shop fittings had plastic draped half heartily over them reminding one that at some point not even money can prevent some of the inevitable’s in the world. Sadly Italian designer Prada has closed their doors permanently , the first and only store in South Africa, after 5 years in operation it was no longer viable for them to continue.

Prada – Sandton City

12 April , Easter Sunday. No family gathering but we could still enjoy an Easter Egg hunt in the garden. There was also no church service, it was up to each individual to celebrate Easter and its true meaning in the silence and privacy of their home

Easter Egg hunt

1 May saw the start of alert level 4. Shopping for winter clothes and ordering fast food was allowed. Wearing of masks became obligatory outside of ones home. Every street corner saw people selling masks ranging from R20 upwards. Curfew was set at between 20h00 and 05h00 , Exercising was now allowed between 06h00 and 09h00 daily within a 5km radius from home.

2 May with restrictions dropping a little, suddenly queues emerged everywhere. Sending money home was not easy for many as they stood patiently waiting. Every store had red markings outside reminding customers to practise social distancing while numbers were controlled of the amount of people allowed inside at any one time.

13 May just one of the many fantastic days I have had with my children,creating what they named “ mom moments “. I was never meant to be a teacher & I fully appreciate everything that they do. We have laughed, been silly , quarrelled but mostly importantly spent time together . Playing soccer, running, baking cakes, dressing up , swinging together and blowing dandelions has brought us closer together as we also had to learn to be more tolerant of one another in our own space.

16 May was one of the best. I collected a friend who had been placed in Quarantine after being repatriated to South Africa under very trying and difficult circumstances. Walking through the Radisson Blue Gautrain Hotel, I realised how the people make a hotel. If there are no people it’s just an empty shell with luxury furnishings waiting for the energy to enter.

Radisson Blu Gautrain

23 May was another memorable moment. Spending time at the stables with my sister and her horses. We couldn’t ride the horses because of restrictions but being able to feed the horses and walk them was just as enjoyable. The horses miss human interaction as much as we miss them.

We started a photo album entitled 21 days in Lockdown but when 21 days ended and lockdown didn’t we renamed it a second and a third time. Eventually it just became the lockdown album. Documenting photos and events for 60 days has had its ups and downs. A moment in history that we don’t want to forget, something for the children to look back .The animals and plants have been thriving, the air is cleaner, we have had more time for our families and we have learnt to practise patience and rely on our faith.
Not to be forgotten are the heartbreaking stories, people who were starving, who lost their homes and sadly those who lost friends and family to the COVID-19 virus.

Lets hope this is the beginning of a great new future for the planet and its occupants.

Gifting your girlfriends during Coronavirus season

Giving gifts during social isolation can assist in alleviating the boredom and loneliness that many people may be feeling. It could also be a birthday or some special occasion and you don’t want your loved ones to feel like they are forgotten.

Some great gift ideas that will show the love but maintain our social distancing.

Netflix subscription

Kicking ones feet up with a bowl of popcorn and binge watching will help with much needed stress relief. This anti – social tool is now considered fashionably social. Gift cards can be bought at many retail outlets they range from R150 up to R1000 and don’t expire.Existing Netflix members can use the gift card to top up their Netflix account credit, while those who don’t have an account can redeem their credit by visiting Purchase the card while out shopping and send a photo to your friend to #stayhome


Now is the time to become a book worm again, with more time to read Kindle unlimited offers the biggest selection of eBooks and Audiobooks, this online e-book e-commerce store that is operated by Amazon can be accessed from any Amazon Kindle, Fire tablet or Kindle mobile app. Gift cards are available in the Amazon store.

Things to look forward to

Unwinding at a nail bar while getting some winter colours splashed onto your nails.With dehydrated hands from all the hand washing and sanitising, a luxurious hand treatment that will rejuvenate your dry and lethargic hands is something every women looks forward to. Silky smooth hands and styled hair are what dreams are made of. Online vouchers from various salons are available to be used after lockdown. Tours of Jozi are a great way to get to know the Jozi, book a tour with Honest Travel experiences and receive a 30% discount, walk the city after lockdown with your friend.Dream big, plan a holiday with your friend locally or internationally with Mathakgong Travel. An annual holiday with my girlfriends is one of the highlights on my calendar.

Learn a new skill

Acquire a new skill so that when lockdown has ended you can have bragging rights to your new achievement. Learn a language with the free app Duolingo it has over 30 languages that offer bite- size lessons. Always wanted to try podcasting but you didn’t know where to start, try . Browsing through your phone you will realise you have hundreds of photos , to learn the in’s and out’s of Adobe Photoshop online for free try , they offer paid content as well, but the freebies offered will get you well on your way to being Photoshop proficient. Even cooking and trying out new recipes, swop a recipe each day. Cloud coffee became quite the craze.

Video message

Written messages often fall short of being sincere and hardly ever portray the full meaning of what we want to say. Take a minute or two to record a short video and send it to your friend. Who know’s maybe today they are felling down and seeing your face will cheer them up plus they can watch it over and over. This unexpected gesture is sure to make them feel warm and fuzzy inside. Try Vidday.

Zoom calls for a good chin wag

The leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing , chats and webinars. Who would have guessed a few weeks back that we would be holding virtual coffee dates with our girlfriends around the world while in the comfort of our lounge drinking a steaming cup of our home brewed coffee. As face to face gatherings have been discouraged and even banned in this age of social distancing, putting on our make up and taking out the curlers has become the highlight of our day. After all who wants to look like they have just crawled out of bed.


Seeing your photos in reality and to hold them in your hand gives so much more meaning to those snaps on the phone. For the best quality photo books and weekly specials that come out on Thursdays I use Rapid Studios. Creating a photo book of your memories during lock down is not only a relaxing hobby but will create a unique and historic coffee table book. Gift your friend a photo book of your adventures and fun times together. These books will only be delivered after lockdown but they are a fabulous project to keep one busy.

Restaurant voucher

Aurum restaurant is one of the many that are offering gift vouchers where one earns 20% extra in value added spend, during this lockdown period. Assist the staff to earn an income while they are unable to trade and tide over during this difficult time. Mouth watering meals will be waiting when doors open again and there is no better way to celebrate a get together than at your favourite restaurant. Go to the Eatout website where you can assist staff with this simple platform allows you to help staff stay afloat as so many normally rely on tips.

Send fresh flowers

With rainbow inspired gifts being really popular at the moment bunches of flowers in different colours make the perfect gift. Brighten up a friends home with a beautiful bouquet that comes straight to the door step. Netflorist is offering deliveries form the 5 May. Another option is to give a gift card from a store like Woolworths where garden seeds can be found. Start planting a vegetable garden, being outside in the sunshine gives a cheerful, happy vibe.


For all the coffee lovers Nespresso offers a free delivery of 5 or more sleeves , their supply chain is functional and the courier will deliver under strict hygiene protocols . Place orders online, and delivery takes 2-5 working days. Their website also has some great recipe ideas for those who see themselves as future barista.


Browse the internet and you will discover evouchers for almost every industry out there. From photographers, Tupperware , and so much more. We are spoilt for choice and convenience especially for those last minute gifting ideas. Buy now and use it later, choosing an online store is just as much fun as spending it.

While life feels upside down and maybe even inside out there is still a lot of fun to be had. Thinking out the box has become a new way of living and putting a smile on our friends faces has become a whole lot easier and more personalised.

Cape Town Staycation

South Africa’s tourist capital , fondly called the Mother City is not only exhilarating it’s addictive.
If you can’t abscond for a trip overseas, take the staycation route and pay a visit to some of Cape Towns most plush hideaways – whether you’re lounging at a pool with a cocktail or dipping your toes into the icy water at a tidal pool, these are some of the best ideas while escaping in Cape Town.

The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa

The epitome of South African luxury, with opulent but cosy rooms , this award winning family run hotel makes for the most picturesque retreat. Nestled between the Twelve Apostles mountain range, and dazzling Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by a tranquil national park , yet a stone’s throw away from some of the best beaches the city has to offer. The setting is idyllic, the hotel and facilities oozing in splendour and the service second to none. The hotel boasts 2 outdoor pools, a cinema ,The Spa has 7 treatment rooms, Rasul Chamber, 2 mountain gazebos with ocean views, salt water flotation pool and a health bar. All rooms have private balconies or patios , my superior sea facing room with its sunken lounge and breath taking views as far as Lions Head made it difficult for me to tear myself away and make use of the complimentary shuttle into town. High Tea at the Leopard bar is a full-on indulgence of cakes, finger sandwiches, pastries and …. of course scones that can’t fail to wow you.

The Crystal Tower Residences

Meet the chicest new apartment on the block, with fully – furnished executive apartments that provide luxurious self – catering accommodation for both business and leisure. The elegant, fully serviced rooms with modern bath rooms and under floor heating make this home away from home. Taking advantage of the glorious Century City settings after a scrumptious breakfast, I took a stroll across to the conveniently located premier shopping centre of Canal Walk. Walking over the bridge, I stopped to admire the canals and waterways that offer canoeing. Intaka Island , a 16 hectare wetlands reserve has over 120 bird species. The precinct has over 40 restaurants and a flagship Virgin Active Health Club. My jaw dropping moment was looking out my window in the evening at the spectacular view of the moon shining silver against the view of city lights.

Turkspirit Cafe

The perfect introduction to a deep and meaningful conversation with friends is Turkish coffee paired with locally hand – made Turkish delight in historic Stellenbosch. The owner, Dilek originally from Istanbul demonstrated how to prepare the coffee using a cezve that is traditionally made of copper. Sugar is added before the coffee is cooked, never after, as the coffee comes to the boil , the foam must be allowed to rise, Turkish coffee without foam is incorrect . It is served with a glass of water and some authentic Turkish delight made with honey. This hidden gem has been in existence since 2007, complete with traditional fabrics adorning the seating and Turkish melodies enveloping the atmosphere.The rose flavoured Turkish delight is a personal favourite.

Saunders Rock Beach

Named after the mammoth granite rocks that are the main feature of this mostly wind – free secluded beach, it’s an ideal spot for people staying in the surrounding areas from Sea Point to Camps Bay. I chose to walk along the promenade, just when you think you won’t find it there it is. The last beach in Sea Point with some steps leading down to the white sand. The small tidal pool is set in a magical position nestled between imposing boulders , it provides a perfect opportunity to discover marine life and watch the magical sunset after an intense day, as the waves break gently into white foam and the orange yellow blob slides down from the sky into the ocean.

Gold Restaurant

Offering an authentic African experience, with a 14 – dish taste – safari paired with traditional Mali puppets and entertainment. Enjoying the rhythmic beat of the marimba and djembe drums, captivated at the same time by the taller than life graceful Mali puppets you are whisked off to different corners of the African continent. Located inside a revamped warehouse, open 7 days a week be prepared for a fun and mouth watering evening.The Queen is the star attraction, she sprinkles the guests with gold dust as dancers surround her and drums beat.This is the beat of the African food scene.

Camps Bay

Soak up the sun on this blue flag beach, voted as one of the top 25 beaches in the world, while dreamily staring out at the clear azure ocean with its buoyant waves. Feeling peckish ? then wander over to the Camps Bay beachfront strip and try out one of the trendy eateries. With its Mediterranean vibe this glitzy strip is the place to be seen. Beautiful people, sunsets that dip below the horizon and clinking cocktail glasses, one can’t help but smile as the salty spray caresses your face.

Long Street

Famous as a bohemian hang out, the street is lined with various ethnic restaurants , bars, bookshops, antique stores and anything in between. The Victorian era buildings guide your eyes upwards as you absorb the detail of the wrought- iron balconies and pretty broekielace . This iconic road is one of the oldest in the city , after a day of hanging out on the pavements, the night life is nothing short of awesome. With roof top bars, and out of the ordinary clubs you are spoilt for choice. Sadly this road comes with a word of caution for ones safety.

V&A Waterfront

A walking tour that lasts approximately 1.5 hours is the best way to experience this historic location that dates back to 1654. With breathtaking views of Table Mountain, tantalising food that will beckon you from every corner and buskers with performances scattered all around this working harbour it is a tourist showpiece. Nobel Square is a lively public space in the heart of the waterfront, while listening to some of the talented performers in front of the four bronze statues of South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates don’t forget to peer over the railings into the water. On a sunny day the seals will frolic for hours in the water while seagulls swoop through the air and cry out.

Bo Kaap

The best way to experience one of the most photographed areas of the Mother City is to simply wander around the plethora of brightly painted exteriors. The earliest development in the area was in 1760 by Jan de Waal , he built what is now the Bo Kaap Museum, and is also the oldest house in the area still in its original form. The Aural Mosque in Dorp street is the country’s oldest mosque, construction on it began in 1794. For a perfect roof top view of Waal street with the colourful houses and Table mountain as a backdrop take the stairs inside the Atlas Trading spice company, bypass the coffee shop and head straight to the roof.

Fynbos flowers

The Cape’s floral kingdom is one of the richest areas in the world for plant biodiversity. It is said that the Western Cape is more botanically diverse than the richest tropical rainforest in South America, including the Amazon.This plant paradise has over 9000 plant species and is found nowhere else in the world. The national flower of South Africa, the king protea , is probably the most famous species of fynbos. When driving around the Cape Peninsula make sure you windows are open to get a whiff of the pungent, peppery smell that is synonymous with summer. Foxglove Studio at Canal Walk sells dried out sugar bush flowers and many others that you can take home as reminder of your holiday in the Cape

The Company Gardens

The sprawling gardens were first built in 1652 as a refreshment station for the trade route that rounded the tip of Africa. Ships sent by the Dutch East India Company would dock here after having been at sea and stock up on fresh produce grown in the garden. Up until 1679 the gardens were used exclusively to supply the ships, however with the arrival of Simon van der Stel, he converted it into a botanical and ornamental garden. Strolling along Adderley Street which is 1020 metres long and is a continuation of Government Avenue will get one from one side to the other. Don’t be in a rush though, there is the Saffron Pear tree believed to be the oldest tree in the garden and presumably planted by Jan Van Riebeeck, there are statues, the slave bell and the friendly squirrels that will eat from visitors hands.

Getting around

The obvious way to travel is to Uber , but the best way to explore the promenade is by bike then wander around by foot. I am a firm believer in walking a city , its the best way to get to know whats local

Holidaying in Cape Town remains an enduring favourite in the country for both locals and foreign visitors. The influence of Cape Town goes way beyond a host of memories , chatting to a lady I met from Belgium on the beach in Camps Bay, her story was one that had literally changed her life forever.

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Mountain Manor - Cape Town

The quiet, stylish guest house in the heart of Oranjezicht combines old with new, offering superior executive apartment suites. The guest house has a total of 12 rooms, 5 standard rooms and 7 superior rooms all with bathrooms en-suite.

This historical Cape Colonial building dating back to 1852 is oozing with history. Built on the original farm of the lower slopes of Table Mountain called “De Hoop”.
The original De Hoop farm house was where the Gardens Shopping centre is now and the current homes were part of the farmlands.
Olaf Bergh one of the founding forefathers of well-known South African families at De Hoop, was the first owner of the farm De Hoop and an original Burgher of Table Valley.

Before current owner Michelle Whitehead bought it, the building was used as an old age home from 1974 until 1996. The quiet leafy suburb, making it an ideal location for the elderly to soak up the sounds and smells of nature. In November 1996 two elderly women went to visit Michelle who had turned it into a guest house called Georosme Mansions in early 1996. They wanted to see what she had done with the building because this was where they had met their husbands when it was a boarding house during the war. It had housed airfield men and the adjoining house,was home to their wives and families.

Just a 10 minute walk from the Company Gardens I was super excited to set out on my first day and have some fun while feeding the resident squirrels. The Company’s Gardens cultivation began around the end of 1652, the master gardner was Hendrik Boom ( Tree ). It gradually grew and took shape by 1670 expanding in the direction of Table Mountain. Up until 1679 the garden was used exclusively to supply needs to visiting ships for fruits and vegetables, but with the arrival of Simon van der Stel change occurred. So much food was being produced by the free Burghers that Simon van der Stel converted it into a botanical garden.

Entering the park, a slight breeze rustled the leaves as they crunched underfoot. The air was warm, rays of sun sneaking through the narrow openings of heavy branches. Path ways lined with deciduous trees and garden beds thick with foliage. I sauntered lazily along, listening to the birds chirping and children playing. Surrounded by such beauty I stopped and took a deep breath in and I could taste the autumn in the air. Satisfied that I had spent time with the scurrilous squirrels I headed back to the guest house looking forward to my comfy room.

The King Protea Room with its extra length king size bed sprinkled liberally with fluffy cushions and an en-suite bathroom with a shower and bath. Each day I enjoyed sinking into the chair at the window indulging in a good novel which I had found in the library out in the passage way. The carefully preserved antique pieces in the room gave homage to the historical Cape charm found in this tranquil, inviting atmosphere. This isn’t just any room, its a home.

As summer stretches lazily into autumn, lounging at the swimming pool in a peaceful garden setting with the iconic Table Mountain as a back drop is the ultimate in relaxation. The surface of the pool that is glassy in the morning has gentle lapping sounds in the afternoon. My eyes drawn to water I want to be immersed, gliding dolphin-like through it. But one touch and I know the season for swimming with the sun on my face is over.

The highlight of my stay was the wine evening hosted by Rickety Bridge Wines established in 1797. Twiddling my hair in an absent minded manner with the girlish giggles one could be mistaken for thinking I was drunk. Wine is emotive, and sipping a glass of wine encourages us to let our “ hair loose “ and enjoy it through language. Swirling the wine in my glass, breathing in the fragrance this was a moment to savour. Allowing the fluid to sit in my mouth for a while before swallowing, I sat listening to the joyous sounds of the guests around me. I realised that a guest house is not only for tourists but also a place for the local community to gather and support each other and chit chat.

The following morning I woke up late, it could have attributed to the fine wine evening the night before. Feeling hungry I slid into my chair in the dining room. I was immediately served a scrumptious platter of food. Enjoying the aroma of fresh coffee I read the morning paper in-between bites.

It wasn’t just the house steeped in history that was so exciting for me. Michelle is the personality of the manor, the day I walked into reception I had a good feeling , and I was right. The cozy atmosphere was welcoming, I could imagine the fire place filled with wooden logs , flickering with flames in winter. Michelle’s warm smile and years in the industry shines through. Eager but not over whelming she is available at all times to assist the guests.

I cant wait to return

(021) 461 – 7200

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Boudoir Photography - Curvy You

Sharon Le Roux of Curvaceous Photography specialises in women with curves. In my opinion boudoir photography must be the best confidence booster . It empowers women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Every women could learn to love herself more and be less critical.

Sharon and her superb team help eliminate all of those insecurities and fear as they bring out your inner goddess. This in turn becomes an immediate confidence booster . The make – up team literally transforms you into a beauty queen, bringing out the hidden inner beauty and hiding any imperfections. Sharon talks to her clients throughout the photoshoot, boudoir shoots are as much about stories as they are about photography.

Sharon has always been a visually stimulated person, so photography was a natural progression for her from a young age. She only started calling herself a professional photographer four years ago though because she felt she had to earn that title by completing her International Diploma in Photography. Besides her diploma, Sharon has also completed various courses and had the privilege of working with great names and ambassadors in the industry which has been priceless education.Specialising in curvaceous women , she not only makes a voluptuous women feel uber sexy , she also allows them to explore their femininity in five star settings.

Curvaceous Photography has become synonymous with sophistication and tasteful glamour. Sharon aims at empowering women, not only do her photos flatter they create the “ wow “ effect , and strengthen the women through their awareness of self worth and self – discovery.

What makes Curvaceous Photography so special?

Sharon is the only photographer in South Africa who can say “ I specialise in curvy or fuller figures.” There are very specific techniques when it comes to lighting and posing which are quite different. Unfortunately there aren’t many places in SA to study these techniques and she had to do a lot of her studying for this through overseas institutes. She also has an absolute heart for making a fuller figure women feel as beautiful as she deserves to feel and helping her see it too.

Who are boudoir shoots best for :

Curvaceous women
Moms who need a confidence booster
Women giving that “ special someone “ a gift
Women who want to explore their self worth
Women of any age or size

What to wear :

Something lacy
High heels
Sexy underwear
Body suite and bustier
Corset and suspenders
Fish net stockings
A mans over sized shirt
Favourite outfit

Where did boudoir begin :

It began in the 1920’s when boudoir art and photography really began to be a style of its own. During this decade, it was generally illegal to have nudity in photographs, but regardless, photographers like Albert Arthur Allen, a French artist, continued to create masterpieces. The french word boudoir, historically stands for the private suites of rooms of a “ lady “ or upper-class women, for bathing, dressing, adjacent to her bedchamber.

What is boudoir photography

A personal experience that a women takes about love and rediscovering her own beauty, they have sensual photos of themselves, which are not intended to be seen by a wide audience, but rather for private viewing by a select few. Pictures taken in boudoir style are more suggestive , rather than explicit and typically feature women who don’t regularly model.

What to do with the photos:

Drink a glass of champagne and celebrate your beauty
Love yourself more each time you look at them
Create a photo book
Print one on a canvas and hang it above your bed
Share one or two on social media
Use a head shot as a teaser for profile images on various social media platforms
Have your girlfriends over and share your path of self discovery with them

Looking through her lens, Sharon observes the happiness in the world. She loves the way she makes women feel, one could say she is a “ photo therapist “ . She becomes a presence in their lives and shares in their stories and what they aim to get out of a photoshoot both mentally and emotionally. Climbing on chairs, walls and ladders, crouching on the floor, peering through door handles, Sharon is photographing the strengths of each women.

What I loved is that Sharon does not have a checklist of poses, she poses each women and flaunts what makes her look best. With some guidance Sharon manipulates the results through the clever use of lightening, posing ( chin up 🙂 ), wardrobe and lens choice. However its not so intense that you won’t recognise yourself.

The pictures are a souvenir of this transforming experience. Taking them out of the cupboard a year later will remind you of that special day. Sharon wants to reveal women as they are, not what others want them to be or think they should be.

Fantastic news for Sharon she was recently accepted as a member of the global boudoir photography association. Established in 2009, AIBP is an association with members spanning six continents.  As a distinguished AIBP Member, Sharon falls under professionals who guide the standards in the bona fide boudoir industry.  AIBP isn’t an association for hobbyists, enthusiasts and lookiloos – it is a generous and knowledgable collective of some of the best boudoir talent from all around the world.

Power of the moment caught in a photo.
Remember “ courage is not a requirement .. just your curves “ by Sharon Le Roux

Facebook: curvaceous photography
call 072 748 7685

Make – up Artist: Louise from LS Metamorphic Makeup
Zanel from Meraki Makeup

Hot air ballooning with the best

A bucket list experience, the magic begins at sunrise. Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari, offers a once – in -a – lifetime experience.

The hot air balloon safari lifts off at dawn after some tea, coffee and light snacks. Once inside the woven cane basket, guests receive a flight briefing before take off. Flames from the burners light the morning sky as the pilot does some final safety checks. The one hour flight will give you a bird’s eye view of the magnificent Magalies River Valley and Magaliesburg Mountain range and the Hartebeesport dam in the distance.

The balloon floats silently above farm lands, giving one a birds eye view of what happens below. Suspended beneath the rainbow-coloured canopy , you will be amazed at the stillness of the morning. Drifting wherever the current takes you and providing enough time for photography and filming.

Our pilot Marc, has been flying for over 20 years, both locally and internationally. As with other aircraft it is necessary for the pilot to gain a license and maintain his hours. All pilots employed by Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris are, of course, legal and compliant. As an airline Bill Harrop’s falls under the auspices of SA Civil Aviation and is therefore well monitored. The pilot will do pre- checks and keep a close eye on the weather conditions. While floating in the sky Marc also shared his knowledge on the surrounding landscape and explained what he did while flying the balloon, putting everyone at ease.

Wherever the balloon lands guests and crew will in the time honoured tradition of balloon flights , toast their return to earth with a glass of champagne or orange juice while the pilot recites the Balloonist Pray. Once complete everyone climbs into the bus and is driven back to the Bill Harrop’s Clubhouse Pavilion and Restaurant where you can indulge in a delectable and scrumptious breakfast at the Pavilion while Bill Harrop hands out certificates to all the brave passengers who “ had the courage and fortitude to ascend “ .

Fast Facts

Children must be over 7 years to fly
Children under the age of 12 year receive 50% off the published rate
Bill Harrop’s has a fleet of 6 balloons
Land crew is between 3 to 4 dependent on the size of the balloon.
Balloons carry between 2 – 18 passengers dependent on weight and other factors
Balloons are manufactured in the UK
The envelope (colourful section )is made of a variety of fabrics including nomex which is closest to the burner and the gores ( colourful panels ) are made of a nylon called Galvinor.
Bill Harrop is the Chief Pilot and still flies. He is still as passionate today about flying as he was when he first stepped into a balloon.
Bill began his business in 1981, a few years earlier he saw a balloon, dashed off and met the pilot & decided this was what he wanted to do. He never looked back.
Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari became a fully licensed domestic non scheduled airline in June 1981

The legendary Bill Harrop

With 5 aviation safety awards, perfectly maintained equipment , professional pilots and friendly crew you couldn’t make a better decision when deciding to fly with Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari.

Head office ( 011) 705 – 3201
Mobile: 083 443 2661

Moledi Lodge

Remote and intimate, Moledi which means “ to narrate “ in the local language of seTswana must be one of South Africa’s best kept luxury lodge secrets. This exclusive lodge provides comfort with exceptional service. Built high on a cliff,it was bought 10 years ago and revamped. This privately owned game farm in the North West Province, covers 1800 hectares of wilderness

With a classic old world feel the rooms exude a seemingly effortless elegance. Jewel – tones oriental rugs lie casually on the floor , a high peeked thatch roof and my personal favourite, the outdoor shower on the deck with breathtaking views over the sweeping bush below. Floor – to – ceiling glass windows encase each of the 8 luxury rooms, providing uninterrupted views, opening up and bringing the smell and sounds of the outdoors in.

The 7 luxury rooms and 1 presidential suite are uniquely dressed in soothing textures and tones of cream and white with a splash of colour. With light streaming in through the wall of glass you can be forgiven for finding your king size bed to be the most comfortable spot in the lodge. The claw – foot bath tub was not only a great focal point but also blissful, lying in the steaming hot bath after having listened to an African thunderstorm the night before ,the wet smells of the bush crept inside the room, enhancing the overall sense of tranquility. Amenities in the room included a Nespresso coffee machine, mini bar, air con , work station, hair dryer , safe and bug spray. The presidential suite has its own garden complete with a pool and a jacuzzi. In actual fact its the perfect honeymoon suite.

When you are not lazying by the infinity edge swimming pool, flanked by days beds on the expansive deck you can enjoy a pampering treatment at the luxurious spa and steam room . Alternatively participate in any of the other activities such as nature walks, picnics with hammocks swaying gently in the trees or a game drive where you can expect to see zebra, giraffes, wildebeest , kudu and more.

The day ends with dinner under the tapestry of stars sitting around a raging fire in a boma. This is where you can enjoy the heart of Africa. The boma “ which originates from Swahili , is used to describe an enclosure – usually where sheep and cattle were kept. Nowadays a boma signifies a place where people come together to eat, chat, tell stories , sing and dance. Boma dinners at Moledi are truly unique and enjoyed by all , the potjie pots bubbling with juicy meat which is served on a hot bed samp was one of the tasty dishes served. With full stomachs and lots of giggles we made our way up the path way lit with lanterns back to our turned down beds.

Extraordinarily beautiful in its simplicity and textures, the lodges timeless design incorporates wood, thatch , glass , water and sand enhancing and blending effortlessly with the surrounding landscape. The open plan lounge and bar are spacious but cosy, this would be the informal meeting hub of the lodge.

This 5 star, malaria free lodge set in a richly diverse habitat , that teems with birds and an abundance of wildlife beneath endless African Skies, exudes calmness. With dramatic landscapes where the Gorge forms the backdrop the personal attention from the friendly and professional staff adds to the exclusivity you can expect.

When I leave the bustling city I want to be somewhere where I can hear myself think. I don’t need a television,after all wifi is enough to keep us connected these days on our electrical devices. Moledi Lodge is exactly this, where time stands still and where everything not only meets your expectations but goes a step further by exceeding them.

Kars - The last Ottoman outpost

Ani is area often over looked by tourists, probably because of its distance from other major tourist attractions this magical wonderland is one of Turkeys best kept secrets. With its snow capped mountains, ancient ruins, steel – grey sky in winter and rich history it has been spared from the over – development that plagues other areas of the country.

The region is also home to some of the best honey and cheese in Turkey. Just about every street in the town boasts a cheese and honey shop.Tending bees, herding live stock and cooking traditional food is very much away of life here. Organic honey is farmed on the vast plains of Kars, it is also said that due to the lightly sweet honey of the region, Kars honey – soaked baklava is famous all over Turkey. The region is widely believed to be the birthplace of the Caucasian bee, the bee sub – species with the longest tongue, which allows it to drink nectar from even the deepest of the region’s 500 endemic wildflower species.

Cheese making was introduced during the Russian era 1875 – 1925. The cheeses are large wheels of a tasty cheddar style made from unpasteurised sheep milk and are displayed beautifully in shop windows. Kasar ( a gruyere – like cheese unique to the Kars province ) can be young, aged or with crunchy ‘ crystals ‘ reminiscent of those found in good parmesan reggiano. Cheese is an essential part of the local breakfast, there are many varieties ranging from the string cheese called cecil peynir , kasseri cheese ,cakmak cheese and many others.

Orhan Pamuk mentions Kars in his novel – Snow. His Kars is a desolate , unfriendly city thick with intrigue and foreboding. His novel was set during a particularly harsh winter ( Kar translates to snow in English ) Kars was the last Ottoman outpost before Russia, its time as part of the Empire is evident in what Pamuk calls “ Russian houses “ many of which are broken , empty and built of large grey stone blocks.

With so much to see these are some of my recommendations

Kars Castle

Dating back to around 1153, the castle with its dark brown stone walls crowns the ridge that dominates the cities northern edge. Destroyed and rebuilt many times , the structure saw the most damage during the 40 year Russian occupation after the Ottoman Turkish War. Below runs the winding Kars river flanked by historic mosques and bridges. Best time of the day is just before sunset , where from various vantage points one can appreciate the panoramic views. Kale Cafe is perfect for a hot cup of cay especially on those cold winter nights when the castle becomes veiled in a heavy mist that swallows up everything below. The castle lights barely manage to penetrate the haze that is eerily mysterious yet curiously sublime.

Kars Castle

Kumbet Camii

Below the castle stands the Kumbet Mosque also known as the Cathedral of Kars, that was built as a church between 932 and 937 when Kars was the capital of the Bagratuni kingdom of Armenia. Later it was converted to a mosque, in 1064 when the Seljuks conquered Kars. It was used again as a church in the 19th century by the Russians, who added the porches. The 12 apostles still adorn the upper drum tower beneath the dome. The mosque also served as the ‘ Kars Museum ‘ between 1964 and 1978 but the museum then moved back to its current location.

Kumbet Mosque – Church of 12 Apostles

Tas Bridge

The eye catching 3 arch ashlar basalt bridge that crosses over the Kars River, was built in 1579 as part of a program of works in Kars by Lala Mustafa Pasha, who became Sultan Murad III’s grand vizier the following year. It was rebuilt in 1719 replacing the 16th century original after it was destroyed by a flood.

Stone Bridge over Kars River

Mazlum Aga Hamam

It is said that Pushkin bathed in this rectangular 18th century basalt hamam in 1892. It stands on the banks of the Kars River below the castle. During the restoration process of the historical bath, which began in 2016, bat wings and star figures from the Ottoman period where uncovered from under the plaster work. During the Ottoman period such places where used as saunas , the hamam was built from cut stone and covered with a central dome. The bath was destroyed by the Armenians in 1918 and later repaired.

Mazlumaga Hamam


No trip to Kars is complete without visiting to breath taking ruins of Ani. Called the “ City of 1001 Churches “ Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings , palaces and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world. Once the thriving capital of the Armenian Bagratid Kingdom, with approximately 100 000 people living there,the site now days is a vast expanse of well preserved monumental buildings. In the valley below runs a rivers that separates the Turkish and Armenian border. It was recognised as a sovereign state in 884, over the centuries it faced many wars and attacks then in 1920, Ani was captured by Turkish forces under the authority of Kazim Karabekir. In July 2016 Ani was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a relic historic city of the medieval period on one branch of the Silk Roads.


Hotel Katerina Sarayi

A former palace, this stately grand stone built hotel with the Castle as its back drop and the Kars River flowing in front is an ideal location. The Palace of Catherine was built by Tsar 11 Nikolay during the Russian invasion of 1879. Later it was used as a hospital then a military unit building. During the 1980 revolution the building was completely evacuated and abandoned and left to its fate. In 2015 the once magnificent building was restored to its former glory by businessmen Kemal Erdogdu of Kars and introduced as a boutique hotel with its 34 rooms.

Katerina Sarayi Hotel

Sutlu Cardak

A delightful, bright and bustling restaurant, walls painted with quirky images ranging from cats to the “ photo wings “ I found myself a favourite seat next to a window but more importantly it was the comfort of being able to sit snuggly next an electric heater and defrost on occasion. Perfectly located within walking distance of the Castle its ideal to stop at for a delectable breakfast or after your day out exploring. I rapidly became a regular and found every meal to be fresh and served with perfection. One of my favourite dishes had to be the Manti ( Turkish ravioli ) the little white parcels were wonderfully fresh , filled with meat and drenched in yoghurt. There is no english spoken here but the menu has ample images, so a simple finger pointing at the most mouth watering picture will do . No meal is complete without a Turkish coffee before wrapping up and heading out to explore some more.

Sutlu Cardak

Ahsap Sanat Dunyasi – curio shop

Not only a curio shop but also a hobby shop. Having been in Kars for about 3 years the shop owner Yavuz Guney offers a variety of options to make a special gift. Working with wooden products he will laser write anything you want, products range from wooden notebooks, wall clocks, photo frames, family trees to little wooden houses complete with tables and chairs. Nothing is to big or to small a project. The shop also has postcards depicting scenes of the area, beautifully framed images of the Kars region and Ertugrul style hats – medieval handmade fur hats ideal for the cold Anatolian winter.

Ahsap Sanat Dunyasi souvenir shop

Busts of leaders

Busts of historical figures lined up outside the Kars municipality giving recognition to past leaders

Busts of leaders near Kars Castle

If its a gurgling river weaving through the city of Kars, windswept plateaus , or the eerie ghost city of Ani with its wrecks of stone buildings that stand ominously adrift a sea of undulating grass that makes you ponder about this once stately Armenian capital. Dont hesitate , take yourself off like many travellers before us and explore the poignant ruins and imagine how merchants and nobleman alike did business along this stretch of the Silk road.