Kloofing

Looking for something to do that is off-the-beaten-path?

Want to do something much more adventurous than a guided tour?

Trail hikes starting to seem like long, monotonous treks?

Then, you might be ready to go kloofing!

We say ‘might be ready’ because kloofing involves jumping off cliffs, abseiling (lowering yourself down cliff with a guide rope) and swimming in rivers and pools located in deep canyons and gorges. It’s somewhat dangerous, always exciting and definitely, wet.

Start by booking a kloofing adventure with one of the several South African companies. This is certainly the least hazardous way to go kloofing. Besides, these outfits have all the gear already and will save you time because they already know where are the best places to go. Plan on spending most of a day on this activity, although several outfitters offer overnight camping trips along with kloofing.

Know before you go:

  • This activity involves climbing, scrambling over rocks, jumping off heights, sliding on your bottom, wearing a wetsuit (in cooler months) and climbing gear. You must be in reasonably good shape.
  • The route your outfitter is planning to go. Some areas offer you options; you may not have to jump into that cold pool of water. However, on most of these trips, there is only one way in and one way out so, be sure you understand what you’re signing on for.
  • Kloofing started on the West Coast and that area has the most kloofing sites. Do you homework and know where and how you can work it into your travel schedule.
  • Most companies require participants to be at least 12 years of age. They will sometimes make exceptions, but inquire first!
  • Rates vary but plan on around $32 per person for a 4-hour excursion, about 50 bucks for a full-day adventure which includes lunch, and $85 – $100 for a campout, no-frills overnighter.

Kloofing is not for everyone but for those who venture forth, the risk and the reward are some of the best South Africa has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look for The Blue Flag

Beaches and marinas that have attained the Blue Flag designation are operations who have shown clearly that they meet a strict set of practices that will foster tourism while respecting and caring for the environment.

The Blue Flag is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education, an international organization dedicated to sound environmental practices. The award to a site is given after specific objectives are met based on these guiding standards: education, information, monitoring, management, and safety.

The Blue Flag initiative began in Europe and became an international movement in 2001 when South Africa adopted the initiative for use at our own beaches. The initiative has now been adopted by countries all over the world as shown in this map from the Blue Flag website. The red arrow points to SA Blue Flag beaches.

 

 

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The Blue Flag Channel on You Tube recently featured this clip on Durban.

 

Interested in visiting our lovely South African Blue Flag beaches? Here’s the list by region:

 

Blue Flag beaches in KwaZulu-Natal

Richards Bay: Alkantstrand

South Coast: Lucien Beach, Marina/San Lameer Beach, Southport, Trafalgar Beach,

Umzumbe (Pumula) Beach

Blue Flag beaches in the Northern Cape

Port Nolloth: McDougalls Bay Beach

Blue Flag beaches in the Eastern Cape

Port Alfred: Boknes Beach, Kelly’s Beach

Kenton-on-Sea: Kariega Beach, Middle Beach

Jeffrey’s Bay: Dolphin Beach

Port Elizabeth: Humewood Beach, Kings Beach

Kleinemonde Beach

Blue Flag Beaches in the Western Cape

Gordon’s Bay: Bikini Beach

Knysna: Brenton-on-Sea, Buffalo Bay

Cape Town: Camps Bay Beach, Clifton 4th Beach, Llandudno, Mnandi Beach, Muizenberg Beach,

Silwerstroom, Strandfontein Beach,

 

Mossel Bay: De Bakke, Gouritsmond, Hartenbos Beach,Santos Beach

Hermanus: Grotto Beach, Hawston Beach, Kleinmond Beach

Plettenberg Bay: Keurboomstrand, Natures’ Valley, Robberg 5th

George: Kleinbrak Beach,Wilderness Beach

Still Bay: Lappiesbaai Beach, Preekstoel

 

Vredendal, West Coast: Strandfontein Beach

Breede River: Witsand Beach

Getting around South Africa

There are many good choices for ground transportation in South Africa. What you choose depends on (among other things):

  • your level of independence
  • your desire to travel off the beaten path
  • the level of adventure you’re after.

Travel by bus

Bus options abound in South Africa.

Intercept provides bus service between all the major cities and many towns and attractions as well. Their route map will show you where all they go exactly. A ticket calculator will tell you exactly how many legs you will need to take and the exact time and price of each leg.

Baz Bus labels itself as “hop-on hop-off backpacker bus service”. The bus picks up and drops off at hostels located all over SA. They offer several ticketing options including the Travel Pass which is a 7, 14, or 21-day ticket that allows you unlimited travel in any direction during the time period for which you purchased. They also offer adventure and tour packages. Visit their FAQ page to get a better understanding of exactly how they operate.

Travel by rental car

Renting a car is a good idea if you want to be in charge of your own itinerary. Most of the major car rental agencies are available and cars may be rented for as little as $10 a day. Here are the top ten things you need to know:

  1. As long as your drivers license is valid in your country and there is a picture ID then it will work in South Africa.
  2. Read the fine print. Make sure you understand everything you were signing up for. Your own car insurance should suffice to cover you while you are in country. However, be advised that in South Africa especially in the rural areas there can be unlicensed and untrained drivers. You may want to add the additional insurance offered by the rental company.
  3. Most rental cars are manual transmission. If you want an automatic transmission you will need to request it.
  4. Drive on the left.
  5. Be careful. Unfortunately, petty theft can be a problem anywhere. Lock your doors. Do not leave items in plain view on the seat. Lock things away in the trunk. If there is a car radio, make sure you remove it and take it with you. By all means, if the rental company provides one, then use a steering lock. Car guards, individuals who will guard your car when you are away from it, can be found in most urban settings for only the price of a small tip. Do not pick up hitchhikers.
  6. Travel with GPS or at least a good up-to-date map. Always travel with a cell phone. If you do not have an international plan for your phone, then you can rent or even buy an inexpensive one. Make sure you have the number of your rental car company, the AAA phone number if you are member, as well as the National Tourism Information and Safety number which is 083 123 2345. In South Africa the emergency number for police is 10111.
  7. Populated areas in South Africa are quite distant from each other. Make sure you have plenty of gas and know where gas stations are located. If at all possible, make sure you have the items needed to change a tire. Towing services may not always be available.
  8. Traveling to a remote area? Check in with a local business or information kiosk to make sure you understand the route and any possible security or travel issues in the area.
  9. South Africa is known for its wildlife. After all, that’s one of the reasons you’re visiting this beautiful country. Just remember: these animals are wild! If you see wild animals on the side of the road, or if you are driving through a game park or animal reserve, please stay inside your car and only stopped in the designated areas.
  10. Did you know that South Africa has robots on many street corners? It’s true!  In South Africa, a traffic light is referred to as a robot.

Travel by train

Tourists who wish to see SA by rail are advised to use one of two luxury train companies: Blue Train or Rovos Rail.  Both make the standard trip from Pretoria to Cape Town and back and are a bit pricey: about 1000 dollars for one way. However, rates generally include all meals, including alcoholic drinks, accommodations and at least one off train excursion each way.

Roos Rail also travels between Pretoria and Cape Town and visits Victoria Falls, as well. They also operate longer trips, up to two weeks, several times a year. Their promotional video shows the why this is a special and memorable way to visit SA.

Spring for Festivals!

Visit South Africa in the spring and you will have many festival events from which to choose. There are festivals for the arts, wine and beer, and music to name but a few.

First, there is the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. This has been THE major event happening on this continent for the past sixteen years. There will be five stages and over forty artists will perform during the two-day happening.

Next, is Lambert’s Bay Kreeffees held, naturally, in the town of Lambert’s Bay which is located on the west coast of the country. Kreeffees literally means ‘crayfish fest’ and there will be plenty of that to go around. There will be plenty of beer to wash down the crayfish and plenty of activities to work off the food, including a half-marathon and bungee jumping.

For something totally different, try attending the SciFest Africa. Now entering its 20th year, SciFest features hundreds of events and over 70 exhibitions. Samples of things you can see and experience are:

  • 50+ Workshops with titles such as “Prehistoric Bling” about jewelry in prehistoric times, or “Dissecting a Radio Telescope” where you will get to look into an actual radio telescope.
  • Daily lectures on diverse subjects from scientists and authoritative speakers from NASA, the Smithsonian, and Harvard among others.
  • Water World hosted by the South Africa Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity offers hands-on experiences through apprenticeships and field trips to the coast.

It’s all about the peaches at the Tondeldoos Country Festival held in Mpumalanga. Located about two hours drive from Johannesburg, it is the place to go if you like peaches. Most visitors goes to taste the peach mampoer, a fermented drink (think ‘fruity beer’.)

In celebration of the olive, try out the Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival held in April in Swartberg. There is something for everyone at this one. Games, crafts, exhibits, food, dancing, olive pit spitting contests, a cabaret…seriously, you cannot get bored.

Just in case that wasn’t enough olives, there is yet another festival devoted to the tasty fruit in May. Called the Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival, it features the best olives in SA as well as wine, food, music and art.

If you want to just get out there and explore counter culture, there are options for that, too. AfrikaBurn is SA’s version of Burning Man. It is a forum, a space, a coming-together for individuals to participate in self-expression while guided by a set of agreed upon principles. There is also the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, SA’s gay festival held for four days in Knysna.

Whatever sort of adventure or experience you are looking for, you can find it in South Africa. Those we’ve featured here are but a few of the many.

Why visit South Africa?

The reasons to visit South Africa are numerous. The climate, the biodiversity, the food and wine, the people, the mountains, the beaches…the list goes on and on. It is easy to get here, too; there are flights from almost every major city in the world.

There is something for everyone in South Africa. So, what are you waiting for?