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Struik Travel & Heritage

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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

“You Don’t Get that Stress” – Table Mountain’s Baker Describes Working on a Wonder

British Airways’ inflight magazine High Life recently ran a feature on Cape Town’s beloved Table Mountain, asking seven Capetonians what the landmark means to them, accompanied by some fantastic photography by Michael Ellis.

“The Mountain”, as it is affectionately known, is an ancient icon – as Hoerikwaggo, the Khoisan word meaning “mountain in the sea” – and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Octavia Tumeka Nkomombini, a baker who works at the lower Cableway station, supplying the café on top of the mountain and the kiosk, first visited the mountain as a baby with her father. Her next visit was 35 years later, for a job interview.

Nkomombini has to wake at 3.30 AM to prepare breakfast for her three children before leaving for work, but says: “Working here has changed me. One, it’s given me peace. [...] I feel like I’m blessed to work here, to have a place like this. You just don’t get that stress.”

Read the article:

‘I don’t get used to the cable car trip; every time I go, it’s like, wow! I still want to walk up one day; that’s in my plans. It is a wonder, Table Mountain. Everyone who comes here wants to come back; people from all walks of life. And the mountain influences us: it gives you peace, it makes you feel close to nature. I brought a friend from Kimberley last year. We took the lift up to level five. And there was this tourist by the cable car, and she grabbed him to pose [for a picture]. I thought, “What if he has a wife or girlfriend?” But he seemed to enjoy it.

For more on Cape Town and its wonders, see:

Seven Days in Cape TownThe Cape Town BookMy Cape Town ABCCape Town Then and NowWalking Cape Town


Book details

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History from a Different Angle: Nechama Brodie Commandeers a Red Bus to Launch The Cape Town Book

Cape Town City Hall

Nechama BrodieThe Cape Town BookWith The Cape Town Book, Nechama Brodie has written a deserving biography of the Mother City – telling the often forgotten stories and revealing magical hidden gems about the place where so much of South Africa’s history has taken place.

This book is much more than just a tourist handbook, and anything but a history lesson. It builds a bridge between old and new, contrasting contemporary settings with their origin stories. Brodie highlights the people that played a role in creating Cape Town, from the slaves and slave owners to modern-day celebrities and political figureheads, and paints a fresh picture of the city everybody loves so much.

The Cape Town Book aims to be an inclusive and comprehensive document of history, focusing on the individual, unique spaces of the city. This includes the entire peninsula, from the Cape Flats and Northern Suburbs to Simon’s Town and Kommetjie. Brodie also covers topics such as “What Came Before?” and “Who Came Before?” – the first two chapters in the book – and consults experts and archival material to tell the full story.

To launch her new book, the sister publication of the bestselling The Joburg Book, Brodie took a small group of avid bookworms on a special sightseeing trip on board one of the famous Cape Town City Sightseeing double-decker red buses. As we jolted through the city she shared facts about the things that could be seen from the top, sowing a thread from street to street and leaving no stone unturned.

“Everywhere we go history stalks us,” Brodie said as the group gathered in the Company’s Garden to start the day’s adventure. “With The Cape Town Book I want to help you notice where and when it happens.” Armed with coffee and pastries, we learned more about the living museums and preserved relics that bear testament to the very beginning of the colonisation of the Cape.

From the Company’s Garden Brodie commandeered the red bus, sending us travelling past UCT Hiddingh Campus towards parliament – where history-in-action could be witnessed as students gathered for the historic #NationalShutdown as part of the #FeesMustFall campaign – with the author acting as a bespoke tour guide.

From parliament the bus drove down Spin Street, which Brodie revealed to have been the location of South Africa’s failed silk industry, towards the Castle of Good Hope and Grand Parade. After a brief pause to take in the surroundings and all that it represents, we travelled up Buitenkant Street and onto De Waal Drive where strong winds, which have shaped Cape Town in their own remarkable way, could not deter Brodie’s captivating voice-over.

It’s fascinating to take into account that Table Mountain was at some point the bottom of what was once a much larger mountain, and that Robben Island used to be a hill on a coastal plain, the author mused as we looked towards the famous landmarks in the distance. People would have been able to walk across.

The next stop was Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, albeit briefly, before the bus hit the road again, following it to Hout Bay via Rhodes Drive and past Constantia. Travelling on Victoria Road back to the city a group of whales could be seen playing in the distance, emphasising the diversity of life in the Mother City.

All along the way Brodie shared a wealth of information on the city, from the story behind the bitter almond trees planted by Van Riebeeck to logic behind the well-known Cape Dutch architecture. If the tour and is anything to go by, The Cape Town Book is sure to be an indispensable read for anyone interested in the true story of the Mother City.

Cape Town


Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp) tweeted live from the launch, using the hashtag #TheCTBook:



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Scroll through the Facebook album for photos taken during The Cape Town Book red bus tour:



Book details

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From Lion’s Head to Table Mountain – Discover Cape Town’s Beauty from Above (Video)

How well do you know Cape Town? Have you ever climbed Lion’s Head or appreciated the view from Table Mountain? When you bustle through the city centre on your way to work, do you stop to admire the architecture?

If you’ve always wanted to have a birds-eye view of Cape Town, this video will blow your mind. The Two Wheels Across film crew spent six weeks filming the breathtaking Cape Town scenery, from above!

The result is a 2:37-minute video called “Rise Above Cape Town!” that features all the splendour the city has to offer, from Lion’s Head, Table Mountain and V&A Waterfront Marina to Camps Bay, the Cape Town Central Business District and much more.

Watch the video to see if you can spot your favourite landmarks in Cape Town:

YouTube Preview Image

To supplement you Cape Town experience, have a look at the following books from Struik Travel and Heritage:

Seven Days in Cape TownThe Cape Town BookMy Cape Town ABCCape Town Then and NowWalking Cape Town


Book details

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Kingsley Holgate Reaches the Heart of Africa – See Photos from His Latest Adventure

Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great ExplorersIntrepid explorer Kingsley Holgate, author of Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great Explorers, recently embarked on his latest mission: to touch the heart of Africa.

With help from the University of Cape Town and the International Geographical Union, Holgate and his team, which includes his son Ross, pinpointed the geographical heart of the continent and set out on another epic expedition.

“Four or five years ago we came across this idea that if we have been able to embrace Africa through all of our travels, where is the beating heart? It’s been a growing idea that we need to find the heart of Africa,” Holgate told Richard Holmes, who reported on this adventure on the South African Airways blog, Sawubona.

Read the report for photos and stories from this incredible, and very tough, journey (which is still not over):

Holgate and his son Ross, who is increasingly taking the reins as expedition leader, turned to the University of Cape Town and the International Geographical Union to pinpoint the geographical heart of the continent. The answer? West of the Unbanji River and southeast of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in northern Republic of Congo.

“Once we had the definitive co-ordinates, that was the turning point. That’s when we knew the expedition was on,” explains Holgate.

With the co-ordinates punched into their GPS, Land Rovers stocked and an expedition team readied, Holgate was ready to leave. In late-August he set off from the Landy Festival in Vereeniging. His destination?

17.05291°E, 2.07035°N

The heart of Africa.

Holgate has been updating the Kingsley Holgate Foundation Facebook page frequently, sharing his personal story as they go along. Read his post about the moment they reached the actual heart of Africa where they planted a beacon to commemorate their adventure:

And then the moment of truth sets in. With 1.7 kms of dangerous swamp ahead to reach the ‘Heart’ the Ba’aka realize we have bitten off more than we can chew and begin turning back. I collapse my stinking wet,aching body into a sitting position at the base of a tree that could well be over a thousand years old, is this the end? I’m so exhausted I could just give up and die. Nazaire our interpreter is ‘Man- Down’ and is at our last base camp 3 kms back. But Ross is having none of it’ “We will not fail we’ve come this far and we will not give up” – so using sign language we persuade the Ba’aka to lead us on. Later they told Naz that it was the wild determination in our eyes that they were touched by. Ross pulls me up by the hand,father and son, and with me the finest expedition team of diehards I could ever wish to journey with gather around in support. Seven hours later,in a daze of pain, I arrive at the co- ordinates as verified by the International Geographic Union and the University of Cape Town’s Department of Geographic Sciences. The hands of the Ba’aka and the expedition team slowly screw the Beacon into the roots of an ancient tree and then with some emotion I pour out the symbolic water that had been carried from the Cradle of Humankind. On the Beacon are the colors of the Republic of Congo,the words ‘The Heart of Africa’ A tribute to Africa’s Elephants and coordinates 17.05291 E. 2.07035 N. We have made it!!!

Book details

Photo courtesy of Kingsley Holgate Foundation

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Join Nechama Brodie and Lester Kiewit at the Launch of The Cape Town Book at the Iziko Slave Lodge

Invitation to the launch of The Cape Town Book

The Cape Town BookStruik Travel & Heritage would like to invite you to the launch of The Cape Town Book by Nechama Brodie.

Brodie will be in conversation with Lester Kiewit on Thursday, 22 October, at 5:30 for 6 PM. The event will take place at the historical Iziko Slave Lodge, one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. RSVP by Tuesday, 20 October, to avoid disappointment.

The Cape Town Book is Brodie’s compelling account of South Africa’s first city, its landscape and its people.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 22 October 2015
  • Time: 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: Iziko Slave Lodge
    Corner of Adderley and Wale Streets
    Cape Town | Map
  • Interviewer: Lester Kiewit
  • RSVP: 011 327 3550

Book Details

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Presenting a Revised Edition of Sean Fraser’s Bestselling Guidebook – Seven Days in Cape Town

Seven Days in Cape TownA revised edition of Seven Days in Cape Town by Sean Fraser is now available from Struik Travel & Heritage:

Seven Days in Cape Town – a bestselling guidebook on the Mother City – has been given a new cover and is fully revised to include the very latest information.

• The body of the book contains seven day-tours in and around Cape Town. Each tour is accompanied by a full-colour map covering the recommended itinerary.

  • Following the day routes are six specialist itineraries further afield – comprising the West Coast and Namaqualand, Southern Cape Coast, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, and the Garden Route.
  • More than 200 colour photographs, including aerials, accompany authoritative text that covers historical background, useful facts and engaging anecdotal information.
  • A handy directory listing covers shopping, nightlife, cuisine and events, giving useful names, addresses, and relevant additional information.

About the author

Sean Fraser is a graduate of Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University and the author of a number of glossy coffee-table books, as well as reference, travel and guide books on the people and places of southern Africa. His titles to date include Picturesque South Africa, published by Penguin Random House, as well as Scenic South Africa, Scenic Cape Town and the National Geographic African Adventure Atlas. Sean is also an established editor and publishing consultant. He is married with two sons and works from his home in Cape Town.

Book details

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The Cape Town Book by Nechama Brodie – A Fresh Perspective on the Mother City

The Cape Town BookNechama Brodie’s latest city biography, The Cape Town Book, is now available from Struik Travel:

The Cape Town Book presents a fresh picture of the Mother City, one that brings together all its stories. From geology and beaches to forced removals and hip-hop, Nechama Brodie, author of the best-selling The Joburg Book, has delved deeply into the hidden past of Cape Town to emerge with a lucid and compelling account of South Africa’s first city, its landscape and its people.

The book’s 14 chapters trace the origins and expansion of Cape Town – from the City Bowl to the southern and coastal suburbs, the vast expanse of the Cape Flats and the sprawling northern areas.

Offering a nuanced, yet balanced, perspective on Cape Town, the book includes familiar attractions like Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch and the Company’s Garden, while also giving a voice to marginalised communities in areas such as Athlone, Langa, Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.

Many of the images in the book have never been published before, and are drawn from the archives of museums, universities and public institutions. This beautifully illustrated, information-rich book is the definitive portrait of the wind-blown, contradictory city at the southern tip of Africa that more than three million people call home.

About the author

In a career spanning nearly two decades, Nechama Brodie has worked as a journalist, magazine editor, publisher and talk-show host. Nechama is the editor and co-author of the best-selling The Joburg Book and Inside Joburg. She is currently completing her MA in journalism, and is head of Training, Research and Information at Africa Check, an independent fact-checking agency.

Book details

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There’s More to Robben Island than Imprisonment of Political Prisoners – Sibongiseni Mkhize Explains (Podcast)

Robben IslandDuring the month of September, celebrated in South Africa as Heritage Month, CapeTalk asked listeners to nominate their favourite museums to be featured on the Fabulous Finds programme.

Many people asked for the Robben Island Museum to be discussed, so on 22 September Pippa Hudson chatted to Sibongiseni Mkhize, museum CEO, to find out more about this historical site.

“The museum is about more than just one layer of history, because the imprisonment of political prisoners is but just one aspect of Robben Island,” Mkhize said, explaining that the landmass west of the coast of Cape Town tells many important narratives relating to the history of South Africans.

Robben Island: Mandela’s prison and place of inspiration by Charlene Smith also explores the island’s history, and charts the evolution of its political and social history, from mail station, place of exile, and military defence post to maximum security prison and World Heritage Site.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about the museum, their activities and future plans:


Book details

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Vineyard Tempations of the Klein Karoo: David Bristow Wines His Way Along Route 62

Riding the Dragon's SpineDavid Bristow, author of Riding the Dragon’s Spine, recently wrote an article for Wine Magazine about a memorable trip he took along Route 62.

In the article, Bristow speaks about the Port region of the Klein Karoo, which would be worth traveling for on their own, particularly in the colder months when he visited.

Bristow writes about the history of Port wine-making industry, postulating that it began “one particularly blustery night that the incumbent winemaker Nel added a splash of their famous potstill brandy (exported to London since 1800) to his Muscadel”.

Read the article

Route 62 begins in delightful old Montagu, and then undulates through Barrydale, Ladismith and Calitzdorp before reaching the historic feather capital of Oudstshoorn, heart of the Little Karoo. From there it whizzes past De Rust (a two-donkey dorp) before finding its eastern terminus at Uniondale, from where the Langkloof extends the adventure to the coast.

Midway on the journey is Calitzdorp, which on first sighting will not beckon as the most comely attraction of the region for a little overnight R&R, but this viniferous wench conceals her temptations well. In any storm it is the ports of Calitzdorp to which you want to anchor your vessel.

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Visit Any National Park for Free During the 2015 South African National Parks Week

National Parks and Nature Reserves: A South African Field GuideSouth African National Parks Week will take place from 14 to 18 September this year and for the whole week South African National Parks (SANParks) will be opening their doors to the public – for free!

The annual event forms part of the ongoing “Know Your National Parks” campaign and any person with a valid South African ID book will be allowed to enter our wonderful national parks free of charge.

SANParks acting head of communications, Reynold Thakhuli, says the aim of the week is to instill a sense of pride in South Africans of our natural heritage and resources: “When people start to take pride in the national parks, then we believe that they will start to understand the importance of conservation.”

All the parks will also be hosting activities focusing on education. Read the article:

All of the parks will be hosting activities during the week which will be aimed at education. “We are focused on involving young people and communities, to cultivate knowledge of the importance of conservation and an appreciation for the country’s natural heritage”, said Thakhuli.

The Garden Route National Park (GRNP) will launch the week in Knysna on 14 September which will focus on conservation initiatives, activities in the forestry and estuarine areas and business opportunities in the Park. Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West in the Western Cape will host two groups from the local community to a special programme every day. This will kick off with an entertaining presentation about the search and recapture of Sylvester, the lion which went on a walkabout from the park for 24 days. The Kruger National Park will host two seminars for traditional leaders from the surrounding communities bordering the park and also strategic media executives for the purpose of exposing them to the tourism products that exist in the Park.

In the run-up to National Parks Week SANParks have been tweeting images of famous landmarks and urging nature lovers to guess which park it is:

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @SANParks or by using the hashtags #SANationalParksWeek and #KnowYourNationalParks.

So now the only question remains, which park(s) will you be visiting next week?

To help you make the decision, read National Parks and Nature Reserves: A South African Field Guide by Chris and Mathilde Stuart, and tell us about the experience on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Monday, 14 September 2015
  • Place: South African National Parks
  • Cost: Absolutely free!
  • RSVP: Not required, but remember your South African ID


Book Details

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