It’s been a while since I last visited the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. To say that I was impressed with the regions tourism attraction development would be an understatement, writes Des Langkilde.
As a recreational scuba dive master back in the 80s and 90s, my frequent week-end forays to the South Coast were limited to dive sites along Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks, which are accessed from adrenalin fuelled beach boat launch sites located between Umkomaas and Margate. Back then, I barely noticed the land-based attractions that keep domestic tourists flocking back year-after year for the South Coast’s warm hospitality, beach, bush and sea experiences.
Reviewing the entire itinerary of my jam-packed post-Indaba media FAM trip hosted by South Coast Tourism, would make this a very long article, so I’ll break it down into a series of four articles, covering different aspects. So, let’s kick off with activities.
There’s a lot to do on the South Coast – both in-door and outdoor. In-door activities range from gambling at the Wild Coast Sun, movies at either Margate or Shelly Centre, night clubbing at one of four clubs along Margate’s ‘Sunset Strip’ to being pampered at a wide array of Beauty Salons and Spas. But it’s in the outdoor activities that the South Coast truly excels – specifically in adventure
Fun Boat Rides
C-Freaks Tours & Sightseeing operates from Margate and launches from Shelley Beach for the ultimate experience in Fun Boat Rides, Shark Cage Diving and Scuba Diving.
The ‘Fun Boat Ride’ is well named, as the experienced skipper opens the twin 85hp Yamaha outboard motors full-throttle to jump back-line swells and ramp the boats wake while performing ‘doughnuts’. The action is preceded with a sedate cruise along the coastline accompanied with humorous commentary and anecdotes on landmarks from the tour guide. Stop-offs along the KZN Shark Board’s baited buoys and shark nets add interest to the tour, while a brief interlude allows passengers to enjoy a deep-water swim among the warm Indian Ocean swells.
C-Freaks has two custom built rigid-hulled inflatable boats – one is used for shark cage diving, although I’m told that the ‘fun boat’ can quickly be adapted to accommodate the cage. Highly recommended for all ages, the pre-launch safety briefing belays any fears that clients may have.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/CFreaksRSA or call +27 (0)82 379 4073
Beach Horse Rides
Owner operated by Mark and Megan, Selsdon Park Estate is a working sugar cane farm located between Trafalgar and Marina Beach near Margate, and has sixteen horses ranging from ponies for kids to eight draft horses for hefty riders.
I’m not a hefty rider but I am tall, which is probably why I was allocated a giant horse. When it comes to transport I prefer my ride to not have a mind of its own or a motion that causes your butt to be rubbed raw in the saddle – next time I’ll wear cycling shorts for padding, and some butt cream! But the post-ride discomfort is certainly worth the elevated viewing advantage afforded by horse riding through suburbia, along bush trails and on open stretches of golden beach with waves lapping over the horses hooves.
The average riding time is around one hour and the group is escorted by experienced guides riding front and back, who keep the posse ambling along at a sedate pace.
For more information visit www.marinabeach.co.za or call Mark on +27 (0)83 301 2941 or Megan +27 (0)82 451 9827.
Located within the Lake Eland Game Reserve, the zip lines cover 4.5 km in eighteen stages over the magnificent Oribi Gorge, which plummets 300m metres below! The tour takes between 2 – 3 hours (depending on the size of your group) and is suitable for all ages with tandem slides available on request.
For novices, the staged structure is ideal as the zip lines between the first six stage platforms are short, slow and closer to the ground, allowing time to get used to the gloved technique of holding onto the suspension straps and slowing-down on approach to the next platform. Stages 6 to 11 are the fastest and most exhilarating with speeds of up to 80kmh, while stages 11 to 12 are the most fun as it runs across the lake and one can hang off the harness and skim the water surface with your (ungloved) hand. Stages 12 to 13 and 15 to 16 are short walks, which allow time for the groups pulse rates to slow down before zipping off along the final stages from 16 to 18.
For the more adventurous, an almost vertical zip line careens down the gorge where speeds in excess of 100kmh can be attained. Unfortunately, this section was closed when I visited but as Schwarzenegger says in the ‘Terminator’ movie – “I’ll be back!”.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/lakeelandgamereserve or call +27 (0)39 687 0395.
Coming up in future editions of Tourism Tattler: Attractions – S’Khumba Crafts, The Pistol Saloon, Mac Banana (http://www.macbanana.co.za), Vulture Viewing Hide. Accommodation: Leopard Rock Lookout Chalets, Realty 1 Southbroom Self Catering, Blue Marlin Hotel. Cuisine: The Waffle House, Blue Lagoon, The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa.