Posted by: gypsytales | April 15, 2011

Karoo Fracking: David vs Goliath or Trust?

Springtime in the Hantam Karoo

The controversial application by various gas and oil companies to explore the Karoo for natural gas is causing a monumental ruckus.  There is still much speculation abounding with more questions than answers. 

Some of the questions that came to mind are written in a post I did for Getaway’s blog site.  Please click here  to find out if we need David to slay Goliath or alternatively trust the custodians who hold the key to the gas, to make an ethical decision on our behalf?


Knysna Tourism, in conjunction with industry specialists, are campaigning to facilitate established and emerging tourism related enterprises towards responsible and sustainable tourism in Knysna. 

A succession of tourism workshops are planned for the first quarter of 2011.  We attended the “Tourism Awareness Programme” presented by Tourism Enterprise Partnership.  TEP (Tourism Enterprise Partnership) is an initiative funded by Government through the Department of Tourism in partnership with Business Trust representing the private sector.

“The Tourism Awareness Programme” presented by Alexander McLeod, formerly from TEP, took us through an introduction to the tourism industry and the major role players involved.  He went on to say that tourism is going to become one of the largest contributors to the economy and GDP.  As the tourism industry grows, opportunity for employment and economic advancement increases.  According to data provided by the Department of Tourism on International Tourist Arrivals, growth in the tourism industry has increased year on year – except for one year – over the past decade; despite political change and high crime stats.  

Businesses involved in tourism are divided into two segments; direct and indirect.  Direct tourism businesses are those that offer a service directly related to tourism e.g. tours, accommodation and transport.  Indirect businesses are those that benefit from the tourism industry but are not directly involved.  For example a company in Cape Town derives 25%-35% of their business by supplying linen to the tourism industry. 

Tourists travel for different reasons based on individual interests.  South Africa has a broad palette of choices available with an appeal to all ages.  Below is an overview of the main tourist interests on offer:

  • Ecotourism

40%-60% of our tourists who are visiting for the scenery, wild animals and the wilderness are classified as nature tourists.  South Africa has approximately 20 National Parks and many privately owned game farms, resorts and lodges. 

  • Adventure

Adrenalin adventure is a small contributor to tourism but is on the rise with increased attractions like Bloukrans Bungy, which is currently the highest bungy jump in the world; shark cage diving; sky diving; paragliding.

  •  Fossils / Archaeology

Tourists with an interest in fossils and archaeology won’t be disappointed.  South Africa hosts: 

    • Some of the oldest rocks in the world
    • Fossils of some of the oldest organisms on earth
    • A record of mammal ancestry in the Karoo region
    • The bones of Mrs Ples, one of the most complete skulls ever found of an “early” hominid (human ancestor)
  •  Spiritual

 With the demand that high powered careers and stressful lives place on people there is a growing trend towards spiritual and religious tourism as alternatives to purely recreational holidays.  Establishments offering retreats, meditation and workshops in comfortable accommodations are popping up in tranquil and serene destinations throughout South Africa.

  • Historical

South Africa is rich and diverse in history for a relatively “new” country.

  • Cultural

South Africa features traditional tribal communities each with their own unique customs that are visually displayed through arts and crafts, museums and heritage sites.

  •  Sport

Previously Sports and Tourism existed in isolation from one another.  But with more than 10% of foreign tourists coming to South Africa to either watch or participate in a sporting event, Sports & Recreation along with Tourism are now working together to ensure a successful collaboration.

  •  Business / Conferences

South Africa is becoming a popular and affordable destination for international companies to conduct seminars and other matters of business.  During this time conference delegates are spending up to three times the amount of regular tourists.

  •  Shopping

Dubai is synonymous with shopping.  A trip made especially to Dubai with the sole intent of going on a shopping spree is not uncommon.  So too, in recent years, South Africa has become an accessible shopping destination, attracting visitors from neighbouring countries.

  •  Medical

South Africa is a popular destination for medical treatments and procedures whether cosmetic or other.  Patients are able to recover anonymously on arranged post surgery holidays. 

While South Africa may have some unique tourism offerings, particularly pertaining to our wildlife, it is still nonetheless a long-haul destination.  This affects tourist’s decisions when choosing a destination.  With this in mind, a conscious effort towards responsible and sustainable tourism will have a positive impact on social, economic and environmental factors. 

McLeod went on to add that we need to Think Betterment when referring to Responsible Tourism.  One cannot offer a service that degrades the image of one’s country.  Ethical tourist services equate to operating your business with integrity and providing quality and value for money.  Among other issues raised, high prices and overcharging for tourism related services was a strong point of discussion among the attendees of the workshop.  Valid points were raised highlighting the concern that out of control tourism prices do not support the maxim that Responsible Tourism forms a platform for Sustainable Tourism thus ensuring longevity of the tourism industry.

 The workshops, hosted at Knysna Tourism, are an informative opportunity for entrepreneurs and local tourism operators to meet like minded people, to gain insight into current industry trends and initiatives and to garner the necessary support from one another to ensure Responsible and Sustainable Tourism thrives in Knysna.

Posted by: gypsytales | March 14, 2011

Let Nature Show You How to Mimic

I recently attended a workshop at the Knysna Tourism office on Biomimicry.  The concept is fascinating and since then I’ve been thinking so much about the potential and how this can influence the way we live.

I have written a blog post about this topic which appears on Getaway’s blog site.  Please click here if you would like to discover what Biomimcry is and how nature can teach us to mimic.

Posted by: gypsytales | March 9, 2011

By the Light of the Moon


An advert in the local community paper had piqued my curiosity. “Pledge Nature
Reserve night walk. Bring yourself, good walking shoes and a headlamp for an
exciting evening of night life in the Pledge.”

Click here to read more about what we learned on our night walk through the Pledge Nature Reserve in Knysna.

Posted by: gypsytales | March 4, 2011

Practical Packing Tips for Long-Term Travel

Who doesn’t struggle when it comes to packing for a trip? For most people, packing everything, for that “just in case” moment means we end up with loads of paraphernalia to lug around that inevitably we don’t need or use.

If you’d like to discover how we solved our colossal packing conundrum and weigh in below 10kg each please click on the article I wrote for the Getaway blog .  Please click here 

Posted by: gypsytales | February 25, 2011

Birds of Eden – Plettenberg Bay

“Recalculating….recalculating”, repeated the GPS device.  Evidently we were not obeying the instructions of the monochromatic voice emanating from the centre console.  We switched off the noise maker and navigated the rest of the way using Radar.  You know how it goes; five occupants in a vehicle, each with a built in “Ry Daar” (“drive there”) pointing finger.

The above is an extract from an article I wrote about our visit to Birds of Eden in Plettenberg Bay.  The full article, with pictures is published on Getaway Magazine’s blog site: Please click here  if you would like to read the article.

Posted by: gypsytales | February 12, 2011

Fifty Plus Travellers

We are very excited about the next chapter in our journey. 

We have recently lauched Fifty Plus Travellers.  

“Fifty Plus Travellers offers tailor-made holiday itineraries for active travellers over 50 who don’t want to travel alone.  Whether you call us travel assistants, chaperones, companions or guides, we’d like to think that we are friends you haven’t met yet.”

Please take a look at our new site for further details:

Posted by: gypsytales | December 27, 2010

Blogging For Getaway Magazine

Hello everyone, thanks again for stopping by for a visit. 

We are blogging for Getaway Magazine Travel Blogs.  Until further notice I will be posting my blogs on their website so please feel free to click here from time to time to see what we are doing.

Posted by: gypsytales | November 14, 2010

“Le Dolce Vita” with BEYERS TRUTER

Paddle Cruiser

Le Dolce Vita, “the sweet life”, was well underway as we sailed to The Featherbed Nature Reserve, on the other side of the Knysna estuary.  A limited number of guests aboard the Paddle Cruiser vessel were sipping the last fragments of light before the sun slipped insouciantly behind the Knysna Heads.

Just before boarding

Splendid sunset

Tonight we weren’t going to be hearing it through the grapevine.  Instead, multi-award winning master winemaker and owner of Beyerskloof Wines, Beyers Truter was our host.  Famous for purporting the indigenous South African grape varietal Pinotage, we were to enjoy an evening of story telling, wine tasting and fish braaing in his company.

Restaurant at Featherbed Nature Reserve

After docking at the nature reserve we made our way to the wooden tables and chairs clustered under the canopy of lacy green leaves.  Before long the microclimate around our table of merry wine tasters produced enough effervescence to carbonate a cellar of sparkling wine.

Between playing chef and cooking the snoek over open coals and casual conversation about whether screw caps are better than corks or whether one should store their wine bottles lying down or standing up, Beyers, armed with his magnum of knowledge and experience, regaled us with wine making stories and hilarious anecdotes.  Considering his pedigree, there’s no showboating here.  Mr Pinotage, as he is also known, is down to earth and noticeably unaffected by his accomplishments and accolades.

Beyerskloof Wines

Beyers Truter - Master Winemaker


Pinotage, contains resveratrol a powerful antioxidant; 12 times stronger in fact than any other red wine.  Resveratrol acts like blotting paper assisting in reducing the bad cholesterol in the blood stream.  Further studies are revealing that resveratrol has other health benefits related to aging, diabetes and cancer.  And who said an apple a day keeps the doctor away?

All the fireside bantering didn’t slow progress down and before long we were making our way to stockpile our plates with tasty helpings of fresh greens, sticky sweet potatoes and braaied snoek seasoned with Beyers’ secret basting sauce.

Perfect weather, for a perfect evening

We dined under an embroidery of fairy lights enjoying convivial company, local cuisine, cooked the traditional way and complimented by a selection of Beyerskloof wines.

All too soon the horn from the Paddle Cruiser blew reminding us of our imminent departure.  The return trip was a blend of subdued lighting, mellow conversation and quiet remorse that Le Dolce Vita was about to end.  Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long for The Featherbed Company to organise another fun-filled bouquet of entertainment at the Featherbed Nature Reserve. 

All photographs on this post were taken by my hubby.  To see his website please visit:


Posted by: gypsytales | November 14, 2010

Leisure Isle Coffee Shop

This  picture speaks more than a thousand words to me.  I love the spray of pastel colours, the shapes of the different leaves and the unusual texture on the bark of the trees.

This is Leisure Isle Coffee Shop, situated on Leisure Isle in Knysna.  By choice we don’t have a car, so walking is our de facto mode of transport.  It’s incredible how many small details one misses when one drives.  But on the other hand, one also under estimates the distance between places when one has to walk. 

Setting off at lunchtime last Sunday we were intent on taking a lazy stroll which ultimately would culminate in a coffee stop.  If you had read my previous post our unwavering mission has been to search out the best coffee in Knysna; neither inclement weather nor distance has deterred us from achieving our goal.  As my hubby always says “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”.

So with a day pack containing a variety of clothing options we set off in the direction of Leisure Isle.  A cheeky wind blew constantly belying how high and hot the sun was.  No matter how long or how fast we walked, Leisure Isle lay like a mirage of illusive hope before us.  Just when we thought it couldn’t be that far the distance tricked us once again.  So it was a welcome reprieve when we finally arrived to discover Leisure Isle Coffee Shop cupped in an English country garden.  It was shortly after the lunch rush and we found a quiet table in the corner where we read the paper and sipped on cappucinos and cafe lattes. 

After recharging and refuelling the return walk didn’t seem as long.  It’s funny that way isn’t it?

A week later, I still have a very distinct  tan or I should say burn on my neck and shoulders from walking 3 hours in search of the best coffee in Knysna 🙂


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