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Terry George – Telling Stories


Recently, for a dose of winter sunshine I decided to visit South Africa.  I wanted to go this year before it gets too busy in the summer when the football World Cup starts and thousands of flag waving, face painted patriots flood in.

From what I saw the country is getting in good shape, there has been a massive influx of hotels since I was last there. The transport system is mainly small local buses but very clean and cheap, and of course it’s easy to get around if you hire a car.

I like to jump on a tour bus to take in the main sites as it helps to get your bearings very quickly before you embark on your own sightseeing. It takes around 1.5 hours and is very worthwhile to see lots of places at once and pick out ones to spend more time at later on.

My top pick for Cape Town has to be Table Mountain. You ascend the mountain in a revolving cable car which enables you to have a 360 degree vista of Cape Town as you climb to the top.  Once you’re up there you can go exploring, and it’s so flat it’s easy to get around.  I would advise visiting early morning though as it tends to get cloudy later in the day when the ‘table cloth’ hangs over the top of the mountain.

The hotel I stayed at in Cape Town was the Cape Cadogan, which is a small boutique hotel, with a range of luxurious rooms and in a good central location.

The climate is hot and sunny during UK Winter time, so it’s a perfect destination for a winter tan.  The beaches are great too.  My personal favourite is Camps Bay (no pun intended), where the waves are usually high. There’s an array of trendy bars and restaurants plus plenty of hotels and guest houses if you want to stay at the bay.

Once away from the cities, you cannot visit Africa and not go on a safari.  I opted for the Pilanesberg game reserve, which is malaria free so you don’t have to take tablets.  It took around 2 hours by road from Johannesburg, which gave you a good opportunity to take in some of the country.

The lodge I booked was Kwa Maritane where they organise game drives from the hotel at sunrise, daytime and twilight to give you chance to see the animals at different times of the day.When it’s so wet and green you tend not to spot too many animals, I’m told it’s best to go when the weather is dry and they have to go to watering holes to drink and travel further for food so you see them more often.

It was the second safari I’ve done and I’ve still only seen 4 out of the big 5. I’m beginning to wonder if they are all there at all?  Being a photographer it’s like a dream come true for me though however many animals appear.

We did go to a cheetah sanctuary to see baby cheetah’s so I could tick all 5 off my list.

Ten minutes drive from the Pilanesberg is the famous Sun City.  I found it very disappointing, you have to pay to go in if you aren’t a resident. I went at night, but the resort is just really hotels.  The 5 star Palace of The Lost City is amazing but other than that, unless you enjoy golf and just relaxing, there are much more authentic places to visit.  It wasn’t my scene anyway.

Overall I love South Africa and a week there just isn’t enough.  I’ll be watching the World Cup with interest, not because I like football but to see how they cope with one of the biggest sporting events in the World, then when all the excitement has died down again I’d love to go back.

Meanwhile, I’d like to congratulate Charl Van den Berg, a 28-year-old restaurateur from Cape Town, who was named Mr Gay World 2010 at a competition in Oslo, Norway last month.

wcharl winner mr gay world

Pink News reports that Van den Berg said: “It’s my aim to help break down stereotypes and differing mindsets in the global community and promote oneness and equality for all people by bridging the gap between those mindsets. It is my understanding that people are people before we are different.”

And so say all of us.

Well done Charl you will be a terrific representative for South Africa’s burgeoning gay community.