Five places to visit to sustain tourism without petting a big cat

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A lot has been said [and perhaps even done] about the recent killing of Cecil the Lion. While it saddens me that people kill such beautiful, majestic animals for sport and while I have always loathed hunting, a lot more focus has fallen on the protection of Africa's animals.

So much so that there have been suggestions that wildlife tourism, such as safaris and animal encounters should be scrapped entirely. I don't think this is entirely viable, as hunting - albeit as stupid, futile hobby - and animal tourism have made big bucks for the country.

However, for this reason I thought about things that South Africans can do, places we can visit which is all about the, for lack of a better word, structural tourism - things that do not involve animals, but you might be lucky to spot one while seeing the other beautiful spots the country has to offer. Thinking about it now, there are so many, I have no idea how I'm going to round it down to just five, but here are my top five.


Just ten kilometres outside Sabie, hidden in the lowveld and overshadowed by its big brother, the Mac Mac Falls, you'll find the Mac Mac pools - a natural oasis wher you can take a dip, if you are willing to brave the icy cold water. I doubt a lot of people know about these pools, as my family and I have regularly visited the Lowveld, but I only came across it while roadtripping with Flip last year. Make sure to wear your hiking boots for the 3 km Secretary Bird Walking Trails. If relaxing is more your thing, bring a couple of beers and something to braai, as there is some great picnic facilities too.

You could spend an entire day at the pools, if you are not in a rush to see all the other gems in the area, but be on the look out for critters. We saw a snake in the picnic area.


Staying in the region, the Blyde River Canyon is one of the highlights of a trip to Mpumalanga. The view is breathtaking, no matter how many times you have seen it. I would recommend you visit in the golden hour, just before sunset, as the colours are just specatucular. Take a sundowner with you and take in the view until the sun has set.

Just an fyi, the locals also think that the canyon is a wonderful spot to have sundowners, but they start drinking early, so expect rowdy crowds, drunk people stepping too close to the edge and asking you to take their pictures while they make out and cars that vibrate from all that bass. Be extra careful when you drive back to your destination, as the curvy roads can get quite dangerous after dark and adding a drunk bunch to it makes it all the more so.


This is one of the most spectacular place in the country! Smack bang in the middle, just about 4 hours from Joburg, you will find a small town called Clarens and just outside, the entrance to the beautiful reserve. It is such a fascinating landscape and the way it lights up in the sun - where it obviously got its name from - will stay with you for months.


Listen, if you have never been in Hout Bay, I think you should make a plan to go there as soon as possible. Besides its beyond spectacular beach, which is almost like an alcove between the mountains and its harbour, it also offers a whole bunch of touristy things, like a market.

 If you ever do have time to travel to Hout Bay, trawl along the beach down Harbour Road to Snoekies Fresh Fish Market and have your lunch on the jetty. You will see a couple of seals, some fishies and a couple of birds.

And after spending your day on the beach, which I think is dog-friendly - not that I give a flying willy if you look at my pics - you can head off to Dunes Beach Bar for drinks and supper. 


It seems I really like high-up places, but if you do find yourself in Cape Town, even for a business trip, there is no greater place to soak up the sun, the amazing view and just how flippen awesome Cape Town is than climbing Lion's Head. Take heed though that you need to have some degree of fitness before scaling up the mane, it's really steep and your calves are going to scream at you.

I might be a bit overconfident here, but I think if I stayed in the Mother City, I would be up there every weekend. And you do get to see some wildlife! We saw many dassies along the way and up there. PS REMEMBER A WATER BOTTLE! I didn't. It's torture.

There are many places in South Africa that you can visit to sustain tourism without getting caught up in the hype of hunting and petting (big cat) zoos. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments ;)

1 comment:

Sue said...

Awesome pics and thanks for including our gorgeous Cape Town!! Funny enough, Lion's Head is actually quite a dangerous hike. We've done it a few times with the kids and there are a few really risky spots where people have fallen off! If you enjoyed Lion's Head, be sure to try Devil's Peak next time. And if you're looking for company, please let us know - we love walking in our mountains, especially the kids.

Awesome post x

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