Nontando Mposo aiming her arrow as she explores Archiery at the Real adventures place in Parys, Free State province. Picture: Paballo Thekiso
Nontando Mposo aiming her arrow as she explores Archiery at the Real adventures place in Parys, Free State province. Picture: Paballo Thekiso
ROUGH RIDE: To acknowledge the importance of tourism to the economy, the writer went quad biking in Parys while on a Sho/t Left in the Free State. Picture: Paballo Thekiso
ROUGH RIDE: To acknowledge the importance of tourism to the economy, the writer went quad biking in Parys while on a Sho/t Left in the Free State. Picture: Paballo Thekiso
BUSH SCENE: Capturing the moment for eternity while quad biking in Parys.
BUSH SCENE: Capturing the moment for eternity while quad biking in Parys.
RIVER RUN: Liam Joyce and Nontando Mposo river raft on the Vaal River.
RIVER RUN: Liam Joyce and Nontando Mposo river raft on the Vaal River.

Nontando Mposo

 

Cape Town - My first road trip was in 2009 with three of my friends. We planned the trip from Durban to Cape Town in three months.

We were young and carefree. We divided the trip into two parts with an overnight stay in Knysna.

For dinner we ate sushi for the first time, in a restaurant by the harbour.

This was followed by a late night of drinking at the bar at the backpackers’ where we were staying before stumbling to our four-bunk bedroom in the early hours.

The next morning on the road was rough, we were tired, hungover and excited at the same time about reaching Cape Town. We arrived just before sunset at the Green Elephant backpackers in Observatory, our home for four nights.

The staff welcomed us with open arms and we formed friendships that are still alive today. We spent the days sightseeing in the CBD, shopping at the V&A Waterfront, sipping cocktails in Camps Bay and driving up Signal Hill.

The nights were spent playing pool in Lower Main Road Observatory and club-hopping in Long Street.

Without realising it until the last night, we had spent most of our petrol money. Our parents came to our rescue, but not before scolding us for our irresponsible behaviour.

Memories from that trip remain fresh in my mind.

What made the trip extra special was we managed to save the little money we had at the time for an adventure that would see the four of us bonding - we learnt a lot about each other during the long drive in a small Corsa.

I would like to think his trip ignited a lust for travel in each of us.

Since then, the four of us have travelled extensively in South Africa, as well as in Europe and the US.

Contrary to what some might believe, one does not require a fat bank balance to be able to travel, be it local or international. However, some saving and smart planning is key.

Common sense goes a long way. For example, buying a plane ticket a few months before you travel will be cheaper than booking the flight the day before you are due to travel.

In the past, I have taken the Greyhound bus to Durban to visit my family and overland trucks to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Namibia for holidays.

The experiences are priceless. Venturing out of your comfort zone and learning about other people and cultures will teach you things about yourself and the world you won’t find in a textbook.

One of my favourite Sho’t Left (domestic travels) trip include a visit to Joburg where I caught up with friends and family. On a recent trip there I spent a weekend in Soweto, which is home to some of South Africa's world famous names, such as Nelson Mandela, and is known for history changing moments such as the 1976 Soweto student uprising.

During my stay there I visited the Mandela house in Vilakazi Street, a buzzing street lined with restaurants and cafes a not so common sight for a township.

There is an electrifying energy that hangs in the air that when I left, I felt empty .

Recently I paid a visit to my home town, but opted to stay at a hotel in the city centre instead of home as they were busy renovating.

I saw Durban through the eyes of a tourist for the first time and I became one.

I visited art galleries, museums, took long leisurely walks on the beachfront promenade and discovered cafes where I spent hours watching people.

I returned with a new-found appreciation for the city where people have no whims about striking up conversations with strangers. I realised how much I missed this simple act of ubuntu (human kindness) that is still alive there.

Last week I spent a week in the Free State visiting several towns. It was my first time there and I experienced a number of firsts. I learnt about towns I never knew existed, such as Vredefort near Parys.

I quad biked, I tried my hand at archery and went river rafting on the Vaal River. All these sporting activities were never on my to-do-list of fun things while on a holiday before this trip.

September is tourism month, an annual celebration focusing on the importance of tourism for the economy. The theme for this year is Tourism For All: Promoting Universal Accessibility. It aims to encourage everyone to explore and rediscover our country.

So, round up a group of friends or family for a Sho’t Left somewhere.

Cape Argus

 

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