Lepogo Lodges’ Noka Camp, one of Africa’s few entirely not-for-profit safari lodges, is delighted to unveil a brand new, two bedroom family villa for 2021. The luxurious safari camp, set within the 50,000-hectare, malaria-free Lapalala Wilderness Reserve and home to the ‘big five’, offers an exciting array of child-friendly activities to ensure families have an unforgettable South African wilderness experience.

Set over 385m2 and sleeping up to five people, the sprawling new family villa perches atop a 100ft cliff overlooking the winding Palala River and the endless bush ahead, all without compromising on privacy.

The luxurious residence comprises of a master and a children’s suite – each with its own en-suite bathroom – separated by a large family living area, providing privacy, peace and tranquility for parents. Three outdoor decking areas and a large infinity pool complete the villa, providing ample opportunity for children to splash around and spot elephants basking in the river below while Mum and Dad enjoy a sundowner or two.

Noka Camp consists of five stilted villas, with the entire property built on small concrete pads, ensuring that no scars are left on the land. Each villa is complete with heated plunge pool, unique ‘sky bed’ with glass floor over the ravine, sunken bathtub and underfloor heating.

The villas are joined by a main lodge comprised of dining room, bar, lounge area and sprawling outdoor terrace, all of which enjoy unspoilt wilderness views. The camp is entirely off-grid, with all energy self-generated by a bespoke, 250m solar walkway.

Guests have full access to a private butler, chef and safari vehicle, offering the opportunity to create a bespoke safari holiday and experience unparalleled luxury throughout the entirety of their stay.

Family Activities at Noka Camp

Children and young teenagers are kept endlessly entertained at Noka Camp as they embark on fun-filled treasure hunts around the lodge, whip up a culinary storm with bush baking, and unleash their creative flair with mindful pottery making, trinket crafting, bush painting and jewellery making.

Come evening, families can wonder at the magical African night-sky and learn about the stars under the expert guidance of the in-house astrologer. The beautiful waters of the Palala River can also be enjoyed by guests of all ages with activities including boating, fishing, frogging and river swimming.

Home to more than 60 mammal species, Lepogo Lodges’ private game drives mean families are able to observe an abundance of spectacular wildlife at a time that suits them.

Lead by an in-house expert ranger, guests can expect to spot rhino, lion, cheetah, buffalo, elephant and more, as well as some of the 300 different bird species inhabiting the reserve.

Tours of the nearby Iron Age site atop Melora mountain and the remarkable rock art of the Bushman paintings allow those seeking a more cultural experience to step back in time and uncover the area’s ancient history and traditions.

Parents looking to unwind after a full day of exploring can opt for a rejuvenating spa treatment in the privacy of their own villa. Families who wish to find equilibrium together can delight in a restorative open-air yoga or gym session upon the tree top yoga and gym deck, whilst meditating over the jaw-dropping views of the bush and beyond.

Lepogo Lodges will consist of two lodges, with a second property, Melote House, set to open in 2022. Ideal for multi-generational family travel, Melote House will be an exclusive-use property sleeping up to 16 guests.

Nightly rates for the Family Clifftop Villa at Lepogo Lodges’ Noka Camp start from R60,000 per night, based on four guests staying on an all-inclusive board basis. Lepogo Lodges’ Noka Camp cannot accommodate children under 10 years old unless the camp is exclusively booked. For best deals or to make a reservation visit www.gallivantplus.com.

With domestic travel set to be the focus for holidaymakers in 2021, Dream Hotels & Resorts (DHR) is encouraging South Africans to re-discover the country’s finest hidden gems. “Hyperlocal, closer to home, and flexible travel will be the order of the day as changing lockdown restrictions continue to impact the way in which we travel,” says Sharmila Ragunanan, Marketing Manager, Dream Hotels & Resorts. “Having recently acquired Zimbali Lodge in KwaZulu Natal, it is fitting that we’ve arrived in 2021 with 21 properties in 21 destinations brimming with experiences that would tempt even the most hardened homebodies to leave the house.” With bookings declining in the first quarter of 2021 for tourism and hospitality establishments and many of South Africa’s international source markets experiencing COVID-19 re-surges, the importance of stimulating demand within the domestic market and entrenching a culture of local tourism is even more important. “The introduction of regulations over the festive season mean that some travellers may have cancelled or deferred their plans for travel. With fewer crowds and quieter roads, the period from January to March after the festive season presents a safer and less crowded time to travel,” Ragunanan says. “Availability is high and, right now, many accommodation establishments are offering discounted citizens’ rates, making it affordable for those on a tight budget.” As part of their ‘21 places to be in 2021’ campaign Dream Hotels & Resorts will be offering reduced rates at selected resorts within their portfolio, alongside a flexible booking policy. “Our mission…

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The current market outlook is stressful for South Africans who are looking to invest. On April 6, 2020, the Rand was trading at R19,26 to the US Dollar but by December 3, our currency had strengthened significantly against the greenback to R15,19, at the time of writing, its best level since the first week of March. Craig Kiggen, Consolidated Wealth’s Managing Director, says this strengthening of the Rand leads to a question that is regularly fielded by financial advisers: should a client invest locally or take their money offshore and when? The answer he says is not straightforward as there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. “For a client looking to invest in the long-term, a well-diversified portfolio that includes both Emerging Market exposure and offshore investments will help them to achieve their goals,” Craig explains. “Buying asset classes at the right price is however critically important and today, given what is happening with the Rand, sending a part of your investment strategy offshore is worth more than just modest consideration.” Craig says there are several short-term factors that are currently dominating the Rand’s movements: Over the past five months, South Africa’s current account went into surplus as commodity prices (our biggest export) were strong and the oil price (our biggest import) was very low. During November however, this trend swung and oil is now up by 27%.The US Dollar is somewhat weak.The investment world turned bullish for Emerging Markets post the US election. This can…

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The art scene in South Africa has a new player on the market. Newly launched in September 2020, the new venue has already started gradually making a bold statement. The venue is raising its hand to compete and be noticed among the myriad of arts venues, in particular in the north, and has its origins in West Africa from where it borrows its ethnic and exotic name ‘Jollof’.

Though tucked away in the North West Province, in Haartbeestport to be precise, Jollof Gallery, is something of a refreshing presence, galvanizing the power of some of Africa’s revered history and art makers, and with that managing to tap into the potential tourist market that visits the idyllic environment away from the hustle and bustle of the cities.

The term Jollof is derived from the West African ‘one-pot rice dish” called Jollof rice, and part of the Wolof traditional cuisine culture practiced across many countries including The Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Togo, and Mali. Typical of the one-pot dish concept, the gallery is a single place where scores of art, handcrafted, hand-painted, and other artworks can be viewed.

The artworks are not only from mainly West Africa but there is a blend with Zulu originals, courtesy of the owner Talla Niang’s partnership with Nyathi Arts, the latter’s contributions steeped in the Zulu traditions and rich southern African cultural history.

Major African tribal histories represented are the Zulu of South Africa, Yoruba (largely found in Nigeria), Ashanti (Ghana), and Dogon (Mali).

The collection comprises of Old Zulu spoons, headrests, milk pots that can be seen side-by-side with modern Tika masks (Gabon), Yoruba sacred beaded beads (Nigeria), and Modern Ashanti beaded masks (Ghana).

Table lamps, coffee mugs, salt and pepper shakers, spoon rests, vases, pots, mirrors, bowls, snack bowls, flower pots, wall hanging decorative items, and more, designed by Jollof Gallery and manufactured by Nyathi Arts add to the range of artifacts on show. Jollof Gallery brings the West African creative element while Nyathi Arts represents the Zulu facet.

Visitors can also see sets of pots that are hand-painted; blending the Adinkra symbols called Dwennimmen that represent strength (Ghana), Ndebele patterns (South Africa), and Bogolan Patterns (Mali).

More hand-painted mirrors blend the Adinkra symbol called Gye Nyame that symbolizes the supremacy of God (Ghana), and patterns of the Ndebele (South Africa), and the Bogolan of Mali.

This trans-continental creative convergence is further evident in the spoon rests (hand painted) that blend the Adinkra symbol (Dwennimmen in Ghana) and representing strength, and patterns synonymous with, again, the Ndebele and Bogolan.

Niang, who says he travels the far corners of the globe to enrich his appreciation of artistic expressions and cultures, both traditional and modern, wants Jollof Gallery to be the dominant reservoir to entertain, educate and inform the tourist of all the complexity and shades of African art.

 “We have blended the West African and southern African Zulu to create a unique space and to make the tourist experience and take home a piece of Africa.” Says Niang. He asserts that there is no reason for tourists to shun the country, stating: “For me, the most dangerous city in the world is New York, not Johannesburg but the world doesn’t know that. Jollof Gallery is making African art fashionable. With each piece of artwork, there is a unique story and meaning, there is an African clan story connected to it.”

The place is yet to get recognized on the market but looking at the array of artifacts on display Niang has done a great job to bring together some wares from around the continent where connoisseurs can indulge in a single pot.

Some ‘Zulu Delights’ artworks displayed at the Gallery

The idea is to blend African patterns for the world to marvel,” Niang emphasizes.

At Jollof Gallery, the tourist can marvel at a single spot of cultural outpourings and within a tranquil setting.

Niang says though still a bit risky for art buyers to put money into art at the moment because of the pandemic, things are none the less looking good for his gallery which has some of the best collectible, timeless art.

For tourists, Africa and South Africa has so much to offer than, for example, going to France or other parts of Europe because Africa has cultures that are not seen anywhere, he explains yet another reason to visit South Africa and include his gallery into their itinerary.  

Estimates project that the number of tourists to South Africa will reach 19.6 million by 2023. Of this figure, a significant number will be those seeking to sample some of the country’s arts and culture products.

Talla Niang is a Senegalese migrant who came to South Africa more than two decades ago and it seems he has succeeded to improve the country’s ever-changing artistic attractions. 

“African designs are not just decorations. They represent life-affirming symbols, ancient wisdom, and guidelines for human behavior. Under our label, we bring together a blend of different patterns which become a new, rich “language”. Through this language we want to express Pan-African unity in diversity – the vision of Africa’s energetic power to create new futures,” reads a joint Facebook post by Jollof Gallery and Nyathi Arts.

On our first collection we focusing on three nations The Ndebele nation (South Africa) with their colorful geometric wall painting patterns, done by women, the Bambara nation (Mali) with their affirmative and popular Bogolan mud cloth, traditionally worn for ritual purposes as well for joyous celebrations and the Akan nation (Ghana) with the Adinkra symbols that represent evocative messages and proverbs.”

Ceramics are deeply rooted in African tradition way back with the Nok culture in the north of Nigeria, where potteries dating back around 2000 BC were found, and the heritage is kept on good hands from the north of Africa in Morocco at Safi, one of the world capital of ceramics down to South Africa in KwaZulu Natal with the beautiful and popular Zulu pots.”

One of the most convenient things to do when visiting a different country on a low budget is to also consider the different backpacking spots that best suit your needs. With a clear breach about where in South Africa can you find the best backpacking, whether near the beach, historical sites or just somewhere you can enjoy a nice time with the locals? Spiralling through the best accommodation that South Africa has, I had to also write down from the beach life and historical spots and experience from the scariest backpacking. To my expectations, I was more baffled with the comments you get from visitors saying things life “township backpacking, is one of the most dangerous things to experience.” The best thing I love about backpacking is the fact that you can share different stories and converse with different traditions, travel experiences and the best and weirdest food experiments. I had to try out in one of the most well-known not-so-safe township called Alexandra. But, you may know how this place is with regards to how the media has labelled it as the biggest amongst crime Rate Townships in South Africa. Undeniably correct, although this place has one of the best spots you can also experience and explore without fearing much. Just a hint, try streaming through with someone who knows the best spots and the safest to take pictures without fearing for your life the most. I still recommend Naledi or Lebo’s backpacking in Soweto. I must say, at…

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The mention of the word Zulu brings a romantic notion of brave African warriors and beautiful maidens to mind, yet in today’s modern South African and African society, the Zulu nation is by far the largest ethnic group with about 20 -22 million people. Looking back at a brief history of how the Zulu nation came into being long ago, they lived as isolated and sometime nomadic family groups. By the late 18th century, political consolidation and a transformation to a more organized form among groups took place resulting in a more cohesive nation, albeit with some force when needed by compelling chiefdoms to swear and support to Zulu chiefs. Military conquest was greatly valued and used as a means to garner support and unite all warring groups under one powerful force Zulu nation, with a then powerful King Shaka ruling from 1816 to 1828, only to be assassinated by his brothers. Within those twelve years, Shaka had, without a doubt, forged one of the mightiest empires the African continent has ever known. What resulted then among the descendants of Shaka’s legacy was treachery and deceipt and death in the form of countless battles between the Boers and Zulus, the British and Zulus, and even Zulus and Zulus.   Today the Zulu are the largest South African ethnic group who live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa. Their spoken and written language is isiZulu, and is part of the Nguni subgroup and by far the most dominant language…

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The cultural enthusiast and musician, Mbuso Khoza, returns to the Wits Theatre Hall on 13th October 2019 to stage the 4th Amahubo Symposium – launched in 2015 as a platform to preserve our heritage and encourage Africans to stay in love with who they are and where they come from.

The symposium, in partnership with Wits Theatre, will see Nduduzo Makhathini – jazz musician, pianist, and composer present on music and healing, Xolani Zondo from KZN Department of Education who will be presenting on the sacred aspects of Zulu dance and Kholeka Shange, a PHD candidate from Wits University who will take the audiences through the role that Princess Magogo played in ascribing value in heritage.

Khoza had this to say about the Amahubo Symposium, “Amahubo is a rare style of music and also serve as a scroll of the nation. They are associated with the very beginning of time when the Nguni people were in control of their destiny. In the olden days, each household used to have a family song called Ihubo which was used to safeguard the family history and also serve as a prayer for respective families. This Symposium is aimed at reminding people about the importance of heritage. Amahubo are the songs of the ancients. They are at the centre of our spiritual lives, our historical lives. Even our religious lives. They carry messages of the past, warning us about the present. This event seeks to encourage people to embrace and fall in love with their histories.”

Music is one of the best and [most]effective methodologies to instrumentise our culture and heritage, and this will be felt at the 4th Amahubo Symposium.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa will deliver the keynote address, and the renowned Themba Mkhize, Niki-B, Madala Kunene, Madusini, Mbongeni Ngema, Mgqashiyo Ndlovu and Busi Mhlongo will be honoured on the day with the Heritage Orders for their support and notable work in the arts and culture space.

The day will be jam-packed with interesting and engaging conversations around heritage and cultural education, as well as entertainment through song and dance. The line-up includes Mbuso Khoza with the legendary Themba Mkhize who has mentored him who will treat the audience to a once-in-a-lifetime mesmeric performance.

The Afrikan Heritage Ensemble, founded by Khoza and boasts an 18-member accapella tunes that will captivate patrons with their versatility, energy and melodies they bring to every stage they have performed on, and Nduduzo Makhathini – regarded a kind of musical activist on behalf of African traditions of healing – who is also known for the ‘elegant mix of heritage and modern sensibilities’ in his music will take the guests on a spiritual journey while they dance and nod to the keys with Khoza serving some vocal sensations to the audiences.

Driving down Eastern Cape to see what is the whole buzz about when it comes to Xhosa translates. The way things are done here, it is just so unreal and just so factual to behave, dress and even approach elders in a certain way. People always thought that being Venda was just beautiful, don’t get me wrong. It is. But with Xhosa woman, they have this effect on you that just makes you want to keep figuring things out. The journey ahead to the Xhosa village, where I ditched the fancy hotels, lodges for more traditional accommodation, (the Xhosa Hut) I could just say, was comfortable. Being in the second largest culture in the Southern-Africa. I just had to see it with my own eyes. Missionaries had introduced the Xhosa hymn as one of their dialects and written by a school teacher Sontoga Enoch, the Nkosi Sikele iAfrika was introduced in the National Anthem. According to history, the first man on the earth was called Xhosa. Very interesting I must say. One thing I need to say is that I love everything about them and how they pronounce some of their words, whilst throwing around that ‘clicking sound’ in the back. Being surrounded by such beautiful people, that know how to actually use and give you love, is something worth never wanting to leave this province again. Derived from the Khoisan word, Xhosa means “angry men” and is a pure representative of the Nguni family. IsiXhosa culture may not very…

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Solidarity is something that is celebrated world wide. But on this specific day, the 21st March 2019 South Africa has its moment. The month of unity is celebrated every day, although this is the one day where we honor the bravest citizens.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, this year was able to be join in the celebration at Sharpeville, Vereeniging just 50 miles out of Johannesburg to honor the brave soldiers that marched to the police station on the 21st of March 1960.

Human Rights Day 21 March, is a day where South Africans gather in support of the brutal killing of which the police officers shot at a peaceful crowd marching to the police station. Killing 69 people and 180 almost wounded. The march was meant to be peaceful in connection to the rights of all races in South Africa. Without their dompasses (passbooks) the police weren’t eager and hesitant to start all fires on the crowd. Although the crowd came in large numbers, only a few were also able to head back home unharmed.

Robert Sobukwe, an anti-apartheid activist under the Pan-African Congress lead the protest on that day, a day before he wrote a letter to the police commissioner to inform him about the peaceful protest that was to be held on this recognized day, today. On the 21 March, an approximation of 7000 people including women and children headed to the police station without their passbooks. The brutal shooting on the peaceful march became a way for revenge from the black people. Before the blacks could retaliate on the white police officer. The National Party at that time, led by FW De Klerk stated that any protest was condemned illegal. The blacks were able to adhere to the new rule for 5 months and on the 5th of August 1960 protest begun all over again. Leading to almost close to 25000 arrests.

After a group of the Sharpeville citizens marched to the Sharpeville in Vereeniging not holding their passbooks and hoping to come to an agreement with the national police offices. A command was set out to fire the people marching and therefore ending 69 lives. Thousands gathering and burning their passbooks. From this day, a new democracy would start and with the release of the former late President Nelson Mandela in 1994, it was a peaceful unity among all the races. The free to vote, roam around freely without carrying any passbooks begun with the ruling of the new political party named African National Congress (ANC).

Grave site of the 69 who lost their lives

The celebration is in honor of the 69 people that were brutally murdered that day. Every year, South Africans will gather at the site in Sharpeville in honor of the lost lives. This year the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa will also be part of the celebration and honoring those who lost their lives in 1960 March 21. Of which among them were 8 children and 10 women who died.

The Sharpeville incident didn’t only happen in Vereeniging but also happened across other towns including Eastern Cape (Sharpeville Langa) and Western Cape.

Coffins of the 69 allegedly dead bodies came covered and family members were unable to see the bodies of the deceased. The theme song “Senzeni nah” translated (what have we done?) was one of the major songs that brought unity amongst the black group. The passbooks limited blacks from everything. They were unable to vote, live or travel anywhere they wanted. Whenever they had visitors, they were supposed to report it to the police station so that the police officers know whenever the policeman would come to your house.

Even though the Sharpeville incident was against the black people, all ethnic groups celebrate this wonderful day that today has brought us closer together.

The 5 main reasons towards the start of the segregation in South Africa and why it is that we celebrate the 21 March:

  1. Human rights is a tribute to the Sharpeville Massacre.
  2. More than just a protest about Pass laws.
  3. Pan-African Congress spearheaded the anti-pass laws campaign.
  4. African National Congress instituted 21st March as South Africa’s Human Rights Day.
  5. Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa.

A day where South African’s are happy to celebrate, where it has been an important day. “Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 21 March in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre which took place on the 21 March 1960. Parliament’s role on this day is to empower the people so that the democratic processes becomes known to all South African.”

This day is celebrated by the many and has been a day where we all look towards when it comes to celebrating our rights as individuals of a different race. Being a sharp memory of the tragic Sharpeville moment in Soweto. This day is also celebrated together with the youth day that is celebrated every June 16.

Fighting for the democracy is something South Africans will never forget, generations to come because of the hardship that they had to face during the apartheid movement.

There is something about this place that makes you want to try it out. Located in one of the safest suburbs in Johannesburg, this was spot I had to visit – I mean, why does everyone come here for after-work drinks?

When you first get a look at it, you can’t help but wonder how a such a small place can have such a vibrant energy but then you figure it out – it’s quite spacious once you are inside. On our entry we were welcomed by the General Manager Sam, who made sure we were comfortable throughout our stay. Lovely and a happy soul that will definitely give you a very gratifying time there.

Gin and Tonic | Photo credit: Lorraine Masemola

We began our trip down the rabbit hole with Spritzers. Called the Social Spritz with pure mixture Aperole, a great favourable taste coming from an orange, vanilla and a delightful sparkling wine. It wasn’t long before I opted for the Gin and Tonic mix with pure vanilla and strawberry. Not my choice but something I wanted to try since I was promised a wow factor, and it was delivered! The taste is nothing like I’ve had before. A sensual and yet not too overpowering. Nothing out of the ordinary but everything blended well together. Like a good date on a Friday night.

If you are a chilled person then this is an amazing place for you to hang out at. With their variety of chilli and non-chilli flavoured menu to choose from. An attempt worth trying for the first timers too.

Korean fried chicken with hot sauce_clucking good. Bacon and cream cheese Jalapeno peppers. Salt and pepper calamari and lime aioli | Photo credit: Lorraine Masemola

My first attempt had to be the chicken wrapped in a full length hot jalapeño and goat cheese and a small pinch taste of bacon, a very blend taste but delicious. Not much was put in there if need to say ‘anything was put in there.’ Try it together with the Korean fried chicken with hot sauce, a good burning sensation coming from there. A big bang on the lips, a very seething hot feeling and well-done to perfection.

Rib eye, Chips, Onion rings and mushroom sauce | Photo Credit: Lorraine Masemola

Second choice was my main, it came with a lot of curiosity. If I had made a great choice. More of fear, my mouth was on fire but was still craving some deliciousness, with the simple choice of a well incorporated enjoyable flavour coming from the juicy rib-eye and the cheesy flavour mushroom sauce, the big onion rings and chips. I Definitely knew I had made a gratifying choice. Well perfected as though the chef knew that with every mixture and spice should be counted. With great taste and sauce coming from the steak I should say that I was beyond amazed. The 12 giant bucket peri peri smoked wings with blue cheese dip was something I really couldn’t resist. As much as the mouth was burning a desire still lust in me and refused to stop indulging myself in them. Well-done and very appetizing for customers sharing.

The atmosphere quickly set off. The mood quickly switched on. The place got crowded fast and there was a very hyped mood by the customers who walked in. A great place to just unwind and enjoy the busy crowd. With customers coming in numbers and others just outside enjoying the nice weather, I definitely should advise that you do pop by and experience this moment. Hopefully not a last but a definite turn around will happen soon.

Banoffee chocolate waffle, glazed bananas, salted caramel and espresso ice cream. Crack cake cone, sugar cone, sponge cake, choc chip mint ice cream cone and other mental things | Photo Credit: Lorraine Masemola

Now the dessert was just beyond words. What a beautiful way to end the day. With just an extraordinary taste to it, the chocolate waffle and ice cream and half fried banana was something to look forward to. Amazing and perfectly done. A very rich, smooth and busy taste in the tongue. Not forgetting the tasteful crack cake cone, sugar cone, sponge cake, choc chip mint ice cream cone and other mental things. A definite way to end the burning sensation.

With the fun and most memorable time spent here, I should be amongst the people that say, this is definitely a place where I can call my second home. This venue really makes you feel as though you are home and enjoying an intimate time with friends/colleagues and family. Catering all ages even children who would also love to try their friendly non-chilli burgers are catered for. Again I say thank you to the wonderful service and great dining experience.

Service: 4/5 beautiful people who know how to come by and check if everything is going well.

Food: 5/5 a trip worth visiting again

Price range: from just a minimum of R65 to R360 affordable and great value for money.