To Beach or not to Beach

When you come to #MeetSouthAfrica, you will inadvertently end up on some of our infatuating beaches. The Indian and Atlantic Ocean glistening in the sun will hold your gaze for hours and the soft white sand that will warm your buttocks, will have you coming back for more year after year.

But when one goes to the beach, you do not simply just allow your toes to touch the sand, look left and look right, stare at the water and then say “Okay I’ve been to the beach! Let’s go home!” Oh NO!

You throw open your towel and stretch yourself out on the sun baked sand. You get a cool beverage or sneakily drink a cold cider from your satchel. You lay there slow-roasting like a Sunday spit-braai, steadily turning now and again to get that even tan on all sides. You might play a game of beach bats with a friend running around a slightly flaunting you beach body you worked on all winter. Then you walk to the cool water and let your toes feel the way first. While you wet your hands and arms, your friends playfully splash you from behind. Then you run off after them and dive in head first! Next up is the baking-game on the crispy towel again… out comes the cider, cue some plans for shenanigans or a rocking pub crawl this evening and smack in some sun-burnt shoulders.

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Tsitsikamma Day Trip with #ThinkingBeyondBorders

NOW THAT’S A DAY AT THE BEACH MAN! And traveling… is exactly the same!

One cannot simply drive through a country, snapping some pictures, slapping it on Instagram and send it home saying ‘wow it’s beautiful here’ (said in a lame voice). You can’t go hiking just to see the lush forests of the Garden Route. One does not drive all the way to the Wild Coast just to say you were there and brag with the wild parties you had with the same old friends… And you definitely do not just spend 30 minutes wolfing down your dinner at a quaint restaurant while complaining that the service was too slow. And when you only talk in your mother tongue and barely give more than the odd wave to a local, it’s sadly simple…

YOU HAVEN’T LEFT YOUR COUNTRY YET!!

So how do you truly get a feeling for the country? (Or beach) How do you make sure you Experience the Garden Route and all other areas in this magnificent South Africa?

You roll in the grass on your morning #hiking trail. You jump into the VERY refreshing water of the Cape Town beaches. You make sand angels on the beach and get sand everywhere. You run down the dune like a happy dog who hasn’t been to beach all week. You randomly dive into some bushes on your way home after a night out. You chat to the friendly guys at the petrol stations and ask where they are from. You order starters and enjoy a few drinks before ordering food at the cool and cozy restaurant for dinner. You tip the waiters and bar staff. You tip well.

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#RockingtheRoute with a Bonfire South African style. photo creddit Laura Nemeth

You take your time traveling. You stop off at random places next to the road and walk a few meters into the veld or bush while watching out for ostriches. You learn the local tongue and how to say funny things like ‘maphuta’ ‘enkosi wena’ or ‘slet-sappie’. You ask the bar staff what they are doing over the weekend and join them for a fire on the beach at Afrovibe Backpackers in South Africa’s own Slow Town. You get lost in the streets of the Maboneng Precinct while staying at Curiosity Backpackers. You switch off your phone for a few days and cheer the local rugby team.

This way you will open doors to authentic, original and once in a lifetime occasions. You will EXPERIENCE a country with its ups and downs and how the local people conquer their challenges.

And this way, you will truly #MeetSouthAfrica. The best and most beautiful country in the world!

So jump in the deep end and get wet! Here or in any country you want to.

Why limit yourself with an itinerary?

#Independenttravel is all about making your own choices while traveling. Not having to stick to any specific plan or too much of a schedule. Forgetting the guidebook for a while and getting a little lost. That’s when you start to experience a country. When you can get past the fancy facade that tourists usually get locked into.

That’s why we believe in Spontaneous Itineraries.
This means, if we feel the need to stop anywhere, we do so. If there’s a nice viewpoint or spot you would like to see, we do that. If you want to stop so everyone on board can quickly jump in the sea and back on the bus, then we do that! Or if you feel like staying in Knysna longer for the beer special starting at 5pm, then we do that! It’s like an exclusive tour package without the exclusive price-tag.

Hey that looks cool!? Let’s pull off here!

Now the weather in the Garden Route can turn funky, fast. It can be sunny the one second and warm-stormy the next. So if you have an itinerary that you want to stick to, you will probably end up disappointed when you can’t do the whale watching anymore, because of stormy seas. So how about some #craftbeer tasting at The Heath instead? Or the indoor flea market in the old wood factory?

All towns in the Garden Route are situated a mere 20 or 40 min drive apart. So getting to the next best adventure or a LIVE music show is so close. And the weather usually changes from town to town anyway! There is also simply so much to do and see that you can not fit it into a schedule or itinerary.

That’s why we specialize in #RoadTrips. It’s not a tour because we can do what we want. Your driver knows the Road TrippinGarden Route and all its nooks and crannies that tourists never get to see, off by heart. He will make suggestions during the road trip for you to decide. Maintaining a general consensus on the bus is important and he will keep everyone in mind and will also make sure you experience everything you want to. But feel free to steer off the plan and #explore more… with Rock the Route!

Meet the Locals

Have you ever looked at someone and thought that ‘This guy must have one crazy story to tell’…?


 

Just like countries, scenery and experiences, people can vary more than any other species on the planet. Hairy, beautifully-old and wrinkly. Young, joyous and smiling from ear to ear. Tall, tanned and walking with a stride like a cowboy. Short, hunched and frowning over a newspaper they might not be reading. Not all are what they portray. And not all portray what they are.

I simply love people-watching and I know I’m not alone on my little undercover perversion. Silently sitting in a little beach restaurant pretending to read or type this, while stealing glimpses at an old couple chatting or some friends telling old jokes. And airports! I will gladly pay four times as much for a coffee at Mugg & Bean at Cape Town International while watching all the hello and goodbye shenanigans go down at airports. Irresistible!
But simply watching won’t give you a chance to talk to them, and to really experience a country, you have to emerge yourself among the people. Talk to the old guy waiting at the bus stop. Ask questions and listen to the beautifully dressed Malawian lady selling wooden bowls. Make a joke with the kid tied to her back. And best of all, have a few extra drinks with the friendly and weird people at the local drinking hole. Have a few too many as a matter of fact and listen to what makes them tick, what ticks them off, what they do for a living and their views of the Rainbow Nation… You might be pleasantly surprized.

I believe THIS is how you truly experience a country. Beautiful scenery can say a thousand words, sure. But you’ll only find out special and unique things if you Meet the Locals. Leave the guide book in your backpack and talk to people. Follow them on a bundu-bashing hike to that ‘hidden-spot’ only they know about. Join an old couple for their Sunday fish braai at their house and try the lady’s trifle for pudding.
Be smart about it. Be bold. Trust your gut feeling about people. This way you will make memories that will never leave you and find things no one else has found or seen. And also see why the locals never leave!

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What is Independent Travel

What is independent travel?
Is it traveling on your mind’s whim? Going where you want, when you want. Not having an exact plan of what to do because you don’t like doing the typical tourist stuff… Just you and some old, or new, friends in a car on a foreign mission of exploration in a country stranger than Narnia. With purple pygmies making mini snow angels in the desert.
Yes, foreign soil can be stranger than fiction. With different languages flying over various lips. But that, is what every traveler should go in search of. New experiences, exciting scenery, adventurous conversations or just the content feeling of sitting on a cliff, staring quietly out onto some strange country. Change is truly as good as a holiday.
Indie Travel, as I like to call it, is exactly that. Making your way through beautiful foreign territory with a simple plan, but still having those adventurous spur of the moment decisions. That is what makes any holiday, priceless!
Back in the day we use to call it hitch-hiking. Riding your thumb and paying with your friendliest foreign smile. When traveling from town to town was as simple as packing your backpack and heading for the highway. I myself pick up hitch hikers all the time. An interesting conversation or two later you part ways again. These days, unfortunately, we have some special scaly individuals with ulterior motives or wrongful intentions. Because of this we find ourselves cautious of strangers and stuck on well-traveled routes. How boring!
Spontaneous decisions should be the heart of any itinerary. To have a basic route is good and is necessary. Yet having the option of altering and spicing up your initial plan should be possible. Maybe you met Mr Ian, a long haired strange talking guy, smiling from ear to ear on a deserted beach in Wilderness and ended up having dinner at his fascinating house. Get out there. Do wilder things. Be smart about it and make sure you have the freedom to enjoy the most unique and special things a strange, strange country has to offer…
Now go get lost!
And support Indie Travel!