On the weekend of my birthday my wife gave me one of the best birthday presents I have ever received so far, she organized a weekend full of action and adventure at the Saddle Creek Adventures. So we drove to the place early that morning and I had quite an awesome surprise birthday gift.
The place is located in Hartebeesfontein Road in Hekpoort, this is somewhere in Johanessburg.
She had booked us a very fully loaded package and I loved every minute of it. Our morning started off with Archery where we had to use the bow to propel arrows through the air with the intention of hitting a target, she missed quite a few but we had lots of fun.
Straight after the first activity we did what we really love doing and that is horse riding. We were a set of 3 couples as it was also happened to be the Valentine’s Weekend. We were all allocated with happy horses and had an unforgettable riding experience in a very peaceful countryside, with beautiful mountain scenery and lovely bush trails.
We came back from our lovely horse riding experience to get into more adventure and did some go-karting. You definitely need to bring some extra clothes because after the go-karting you get so dirty but hey it is an amazing experience. This does not even require that one must be a pro that thrives on adrenalin, the tracks are just amazing and everyone will have fun on their track which is full of corners an straight sections to challenge your driving skills.
The staff is well trained and very enthusiastic about their job hey. I mean who wouldn’t love to get paid for having fun hey?
This has got to be my favourite activity of the day, after the go-karting, looking all dirty and dusty we got another exciting adrenaline filled adventure that is not hard to master. The scenery was just the best for this, from driving in rocky countryside places to a muddy forest got me all pumped up and hungry for more fun. This was one challenging, fun and thrilling experience for me.
We ended the outing off on a very high note; we were then led to a private bushveld champagne picnic. The weather was just perfect for this, we laid on our backs and listened to birds chirping and watched the beautiful sky while at it. I must say that this was a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. We got locked up in moments of reflection and meaningful conversations in the presence of nature. Not only was this a romantic gesture but it was a fantastic one. They had provided us with a picnic basket full of delicacies, a bottle of wine, water and we just enjoyed every moment of this experience. I am sure you will understand why I still regard this weekend as one of the most special celebrations we have ever had. Not only did we have a fun packed and adventure getaway but we also got an opportunity to cater to what matters the most to both our hearts and spent quality time in a seclude area with a lifetime of tranquility and privacy.
It all started when our company announced that Dubai would host our annual company global rally. We purposed that we would make the most of this trip and create life long memories.
So on the 31st of March we flew to Dubai, the excitement was just way out of this world. We rested the Saturday because we were quite exhausted.
We had booked ourselves at an Ibis Hotel in one of the best locations as we were at the centre of everything we needed. It was easy to access malls, transportation and anything else that you can think of.
The service at the hotel and every other place that we went to was just world class, I think that is the standard in Dubai, everything is perfect and the service is awesome.
I think I must have picked up quite a number of kilograms while in Dubai because the food was just way to delicious to resist. Dubai is very expensive though so one cup of coffee would cost you anything from one hundred and twenty something. My love is an ice cream fan and I remember us paying way over R100 for just one scoop of ice cream. We experienced the Indian cuisine at its best and I must say that anything else that we tried was just too delicious for words. A place that takes care in delivering the best croutons in the world deserves an award.
So our adventure and experience started on Sunday. We took the City Sight Seeing Red bus. So we took the 7day tour and our first tour was the historic route, we had a wonderful Sunday going to museums, downtown beulevard, dubai creek, spice souk just to mention a few. What was fascinating about the historic route was using the water taxi rides to cross over from one side of the creek to the other. We also took the dhow midday cruise. I must say it was a refreshing experience just watching the beauty and the magnificent structures of Dubai.
The same day we were headed to the Dubai mall, got to be one of the biggest malls I have ever been to. We were not just there to grab something to eat but were attracted by the Dubai Aquarium and underwater Zoo, did I say this is at Dubai Mall? Yes it is, inside the mall they have a humongous aquarium and underwater zoo. It is the largest suspended aquariums in the world. I had always admired this on the movies and pictures and I now got a chance to experience it first hand and I must say I was blown away; I was like a kid in a candy shop. You walk through a tunnel, provides the most crystal and fantastic view you can ever think of from the surface of the tank. They have boat rides where you can enjoy a unique view of the aquarium; they cater for adrenaline junkies too hey, with a shark dive and cage snorkeling.
By the time we left the mall it was very late we were bushed completely. Their malls close at 12 mid-night and 2am.
On Monday we were headed to Alpha Tours Helipad Atlantis. We flew above Dubai like rock stars in a luxurious helicopter, got to see the iconic Burj Al Arab, this was an awesome experience, you get a bird’s-eye view of the World Islands and the Palm, you see the Dubai’s iconic buildings and magnificent skyline from a unique perspective. We departed from the helipad at Atlantis the Palm and were high up in the sky for 25 minutes. We soar over the beautiful Arabian golf coastline and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. This was an experience of a lifetime.
The same evening we went for an evening dhow cruise dinner. This is an experience of a lifetime hey; you get such a warm welcome that you immediately get ready to have fun. On arrival you are served with dates and some weird tasting coffee and it gets finished in just one sip. You then get sitted and get served with juice or wine. The entertainment on this boat will get you partying the night away. Buffet dinner is then served, world class food, the desert was just my favourite.
On Tuesday we woke up and were on our way to Atlantis AquaVenture waterpark. It is like your bigger version of SunCity’s water rides with the most thrilling rides and adrenaline pumping water slides from the aquaconda ( worlds’s largest waterslide), slitherine ( a waterslide within a waterslide with twists and turns that will make you call your mom to come to your rescue), they have the zoomerango and atlantean flyers just to mention a few. The slitherine will twist and turn you till you end up in the belly of the anaconda. Their lazy ride is nothing close to the word, full of surprise twists and adrenaline pumping turns. Did the leap of faith and you must be prepared to wait as the queue is always long and it’s all worth the wait. We also enjoyed the longest Middle East zipline circuit, we could go as many times as we wanted and were stopped by the wind which started to blow a lil wild. The aquaventure has a man made beach and so when you tired of the water you can go lie in the sun. You even able to book your own private chill area called a Cabana in the waterpark where you can just relax with a whole lot of privacy. Rent one if you can it will definitely be worth every cent you will spend for it. A full day Cabana price is about 800 dirham for a family and this includes a fruit basket and a bottle of water, lockers, tables and loungers.
If you planning to take your phone with please ensure that you buy the water resistant protective phone pouch.
Right next to the AquaVenture is an an Altantis-themed aquarium with underwater halls and tunnels that house marine life, here you get to get a glimpse into an underwater world. This place takes you through a series of mazes and tunnels as you explore the underwater ruins of Atlantis. This aquarium houses aquatic animals like sharks, the highlight being the rare albino alligators. It has that special and unique cinematic quality. So if you plan to go to Dubai, make sure to go to this aquarium’s to have an experience of its “history”.
One evening while walking around the mall we heard beautiful music and saw a crowd gathered in one place beholding the beauty of the Dubai Fountain dancing to a beautiful love song. The beauty of this fountain in the evening leaves me out of words. I do not have words to describe just the feeling it leaves you with. I tell you watching that fountain dance to music can make you fall in love with your partner all over again or will awaken emotions of love you never knew existed. We then kind of made it a ritual to go to the fountain every evening; it was truly love at first sight; so while enjoying our dinner we would be mesmerized by the beauty of this man made creation.
On our fourth day in Dubai we got to get some desert experience. We were picked up by our cab from our hotel together with another family from Europe. You have to ensure that your number 1 and 2 tank is empty as you drive for 2hours without any toilets. Our first stop was a place where all the cabs release some pressure on the tyres so as to prepare the car for the drive on the sand dunes.
The adventure started when we were driving on the sand dunes, those were magical moments I don’t ever want to forget. I take my hat off to the drivers they certainly have advanced driving skills. I loved every moment of this experience.
We then got to the place where they serve the desert dinner under the stars, you get to do camel rides, my wife got her hands painted and some people got to experience the “hook-a-pipe” which is called the “Shisaha” in Dubai.
A buffet dinner was served while we were being entertained by belly dancers.
My highlight of the evening has to be the few moments before you leave almost at midnight, they switched the lights off and it was completely dark and we sat and watched the stars, that was just magical for me and my wife loved it to bits.
We were then transported back to the hotel. I was moved by the kindness from the drivers of those cabs, you would swear that they get paid for taking the most beautiful pictures too. They just offer to do this and will direct you so as to capture the best moments of your experience.
We headed to Ski Dubai; this is the largest indoor snow park or resort with 22500 square meters of indoor ski area. This wonder is located in one of the largest shopping malls in the world called the Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This is a place where one can enjoy real snow in Dubai all year round. This is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, an amazing mountain-themed wintery setting where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, this is a place where you can take part in many snow events and meet and play with the Penguins. We enjoyed rolling down the Giant Ball run, jumping a 10ft ramp spiralling down the tube slides, sightseeing on the chairlift. You definitely need hot chocolate after every activity because the place is minus 4 degrees and is freezing literally. What is kind of amazing about this place is that you walk in dressed in summer clothes because Dubai is extremely hot and within a couple of minutes you are dressed up in warm suites to get ready to walk into the snow park. Within no time you forget that it is scorching hot outside.
We went for some serious coffee after this experience, we were back on our normal clothes searching for a coffee shop so we could get back to our normal selves before heading back to the hotel. We played like kids and lost ourselves in adventure and fun and as much as it was freezing cold it was an unforgettable experience.
Well we were in Dubai for fun and business so Day 6 and 7 were fully packed as we had to attend our company’s global rally at one of the world’s largest trade centres called the Dubai World Trade Centre. This is one eye-opening event and there is nothing as refreshing like being in a room full of network marketers from all around the world, people who have changed their lives through this profession. We truly got challenged and we want to collect our own big cheque in the year to come.
On the last day of the event we went to meet up with my wife’s ex colleague who now is a permanent resident of the UAE. We met at Texas Roadhouse at the Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa. The food in this restaurant was out of this place and I have never seen the size of the glass in which we were served our martini’s. Everything was just of high quality. We also got to meet and greet with our industry idols, took some pictures with them and that was a fulfilling moment too.
We went up the Burj Khalifa, Early that morning we got ready to go see Dubai from one of the tallest buildings in Dubai. This is one experience where you literally get to see the world from the top. This building is 828 meters in length and has 164 floors. This was the tallest building in the world as of January 2010. It is indeed a megatall skyscraper in Dubai. You get the best Dubai view and photo spots that would imprison any photographer for life in that building.
50 years of bond style exhibition at burj khalifa
Same day we took the red bus tour and did the pink route, the main highlight of this tour is the palm Island. The same day we did the dhow cruise but this one was on the palm island.
We visited the Souk Madinat, enjoyed shopping for some sovounaires there, quite a very nice and relaxed place. This was like our second last day so we made the most of it and did quite a lot in one day. We visited the Dubai Wild Wadi; this is another waterpark in Dubai, this park is a bit similar to the AquaVenture. We could not explore it to the fullest as we were also rushing to my wife’s favourite spot, the Dubai Miracle Garden. They don’t call it the Miracle Garden for nothing; this is one place that lacks nothing close to a wonder. The Dubai Miracle Garden is a flower garden located in the district of Dubailand, this garden is home to more than 45 million blooming flowers, all showcased in a variety of immense sculptures and designs. The plenty of hearts and the love train that you will find in this garden truly explains why this garden was launched on Valentines day of 2013.
This sums up our Dubai trip in a nutshell, tried to keep it short but there is just so much to say about Dubai.
One of the beautiful attraction in the North West has got to be a world within a city, this is another exotic man made wonder of Sol Kerzner’s creations, similar to the Aqua Venture or the Atlantis that you find in Dubai. Yeah I must say this man is not limited in his thinking and creative abilities.
We booked ourselves for only three days and the timing was not so perfect because it was the end of the year and the place was just way too overcrowded especially on the 1st of January but other than that we had the time of our lives.
Sun City is well known for its world class water park and if you love water like we do, then the water slides and blood pumping activities in the Valley of waves will be your favourite spot. We just lost ourselves and became like little kids, we had so much fun on those water slides and since my wife is not much of an adrenaline junkie she only enjoyed the lazy ride more, you just chillax unlike the lazy ride that you get from the AquaVenture, Atlantis in Dubai, I am still wondering why they call it a lazy ride cause there is absolutely nothing lazy about the Aqua Venture’s lazy ride.
Sun City is a just a place where you can completed get lost in, from having an amazing shopping experience and stopping to take a break to grab something to eat you just don’t run out of something to do but will certainly run out of energy after swimming in the man made beach and repeating the water slides that lure you into an unquenchable adventure.
We made time and made our way to the casino, oh this just made me want to be in Vegas already, just seeing those slot machines made me want to be be in Vegas………
One of the other fun things we did was doing the maze, we got so lost on that maze till we felt like we just wanted to see ourselves out of it miraculously. After all the crazy and mind intriguing “find you way out” exercise you find yourself in a very nice a restaurant that is located at the end of the maze where you can get your refreshments and also partake in the food they serve in their restaurants.
We had booked ourselves in some bed and breakfast in Rusternburg and so we would do some driving every single day from and to Sun City, the drive was about 30 minutes. They served the most delicious buffet breakfast and I must say we did not spend much time there at all since we would come back in the early hours almost every single day and be out the whole day.
Sun City from Gauteng is about an hours drive so this is just one of those get-away that you can do once in a while.
There was a new years’ eve party and so we spent our new years eve at SunCity partying the night away till the early hours of 2017. This one just an awesome experience, we really had so much fun that waking up the following day was a mission.
On the first the place was so overcrowded and it’s then that we felt that we had not made a good decision by spending the 1st there, we still enjoyed ourselves swimming and chillaxing till it was time to leave.
We also had an excuse to eat at Rocco mammas, you know how their food can be tempting especially when you trying to watch what you eat but nonetheless we were seated there and we indulged to the fullest.
It all started as a business weekend getaway and since business was taken care of and completed early on Saturday we decided to make the most of the trip and not just make it a business weekend but a fun weekend as well. Our definition of fun always includes getting in touch with the extraordinary show of nature, adventure and plenty of driving. We spent our evening at some bed and breakfast in Phalaborwa and purposed to leave Phalaborwa in the early hours of Sunday so we would have enough time to explore two provinces in one day. I know that sounds almost impossible. Our first stop was at the Eco caves, for some reason it was nothing like what I had expected, I am even embarrassed to share that my wife was not willing to go all the way to experience the entire tour, again I blame this on the movies we have watched. Fear is crippling and will rob one of beautiful opportunities and experiences, after being challenged by a young girl who was so enthusiastic about the tour she decided not to be a party pooper and wear her big girl cap and act as if she was not frightened.
This was an exercise and a half because we had to bend for most of the time and watch out not to hit our heads against the rocks. It was dark and a bit creepy, well its a cave what did we expect? Of all the beauties of nature what I saw there has got to be the most thought provoking creations of nature I have ever seen. There were images of statues and animals and so the sections of the caves are named after the theme of each compartment, this again is such a wonder, how nature would decide to have a theme and carve the rock to whatever theme it desired is still a mystery to me, there are ostrich heads, elephant skins, and many other incredible images naturally carved on the rocks. I know it just sounds way to supernatural for the human mind to fathom. These caves are full of history and such an amazing one if you ask me, we were fortunate to have been guided by one of the best tour guides the place has to offer, it was as if she was taking us through her own life, she painted a bold and well detailed story about the history of the cave, one I don’t see myself forgetting any time soon.
The one thing I almost forgot to mention is that as you drive to the caves you find yourself on a road that looks so dead you would swear that you are lost or even turn back. The tour guides at the Echo Caves do not get paid, they work as volunteers so it’s a good thing to budget a tip for this and one more thing is to ensure you have comfortable shoes as it gets slippery inside the caves because of the water and its quite rocky as well in some areas.
On our way to the three Rondavels not far from the Echo caves my wife spotted a shoe house, oh my word she felt like a child in a story book, lol, yeah its amazing how the child in her never grows old. She clams to have only seen shoe houses in cartoons for most of her life and for the first time in her life she was seeing a real one and she could not resist but want to go touch it and feel that it was real. I know that sounds crazy, and so we had to take a couple of pictures and yeah we did what we do best. I think her shoe house fascination was a little bit too much because before we knew it we were headed at the wrong direction and had to make a U turn.
A couple of minutes later we were at our original intended destination and that was the three rondavels. It’s a mountain that carved itself into three rondavels. Believe you me, there was also a story I remember vividly now about the Queens and the three rondavels. I am not going to try and remember it, the wonderful view of this place on its own its far more exhilarating. There was just so much showing off of nature going on in that place, while you at the top looking down there is an “instagram type of beaty” going on and yeah a Geographic photographer would literally feel imprisoned in that place.
We left the Three Rondavels and headed to a place called Bourkes Lurke potholes. For the first time in my life I got to understand the meaning of the quote, “ it is not the strength of the water that causes the water to cut through the rocks but its persistence.” The Bourkes Lurke potholes embodies that. I don’t know how this place was discovered but it has to be one of nature’s living epistle on persistence. Just looking at the humongous potholes on those rocks made me realize just how powerful persistence is. This is just one of those places I can never truly do justice to by trying to explain its magnificence. Indeed if you think that God is dead, you better look around and please do yourself a favor and visit that place. Nature on its own has convicted me of the existence of God, there are just places that will magnify the existence of God and leave you with no doubt that indeed our God is majestic and lacks no creativity in him.
Now trying to do two provinces in one day can be exhausting and this was one of those road trips that had less talking and more moments of reflection. Our next stop was in Graskop, God’s window in Mpumalanga. The weather had now started to get all moody on us, and we did not get one of the best views on God’s window because it was misty. We then went up the mountain for another view and again, we did not have the correct shoes on because the adventure was not really preplanned but was a spontaneous thing. This is just one element that keeps a spark in a relationship, you don’t always have to have everything all figured out, at times you will have to go with the flow. The fact that we were not wearing comfortable shoes to go up the mountain did not stop us, we were up on that mountain, correct shoes or not and were so determined to climb that hill for the view of a lifetime. It was already in the afternoon by the time we got to God’s window and we take a few moments peeping through his magnificent window, it was a bit cloudy so the view was not as crystal clear however there was still a whole lot of a phenominal dance of nature that we still relive in our not only in our photographic minds but deep down in our hearts that get captured by God’s splendor in nature.
We drove to the pinnacle rock, this is just another wonder on its own, this is a natural beauty, it’s a massive rock that erupts from the earth’s surface and reaches about 30 metres in height. The rock is just every photographer’s capturer. You will also find vendors sitting at this attraction selling African curious and keepsakes.
On our way back we drove pass Sabie, did the Mac Mac pools would be your ideal spot for a breakfast picnic with its magical and soothing sound of the waterfall, which is just a perfect romantic soundtrack. We would not miss the Mac Mac falls for anything. You hear the rumbling from quite a distance and cant help but continue to be drawn to the awestrucking source of the noise. Pilgrims rest is like a fairy tale small town that is tucked away in the mountains; this is a place that is rich in a historical legacy that has not been tampered with at all.
Just sweeping through the grasslands gazing at the beautiful mountain ranges, the panorama route along the Mpumalanga escarpment is pleasurable and makes a roadtrip a worthwhile one.
Passing through Sabie kind of brought back many childhood memories as I myself come from a very small town that specializes in delicacies like the pancakes you get in Sabie
Our last stop before leaving the awesome Mpumalanga was the Sudwala Caves. This place offers a fascinating trip into the Earth’s interior. All you need to enjoy this is your legs and a sense of wonder. The tour lasts for an hour, you are allocated a tour guide on your arrival and the tour guide will help point out the fantastic natural sculptures and rock formations which will leave you awestruck. If you do not suffer from claustrophobia or any serious health problem you can walk, scramble or wriggle and climb around the oldest caves in the world.
They say it is not the destination that matters the most but the journey, I somehow agree with the statement but when it comes to Cape Town i must say that it is was not just the journey that mattered but the destination itself was just a cherry on top. We left Gauteng to drop off the kids at my mother in law’s place in Burgersdorp.
The following morning we were up very early and ready to hit the road, our first stop was at the Gariep Dam, we have kind of made it a tradition to stop at Gariep even if its just for a moment to remember the day we committed to doing life together for the rest of our lives.
I had anticipated a very long journey but to my surprise we were in Cape Town within no time, what was so heart warming for me was the deep and meaningful conversations we had. It is important as couples to take time out just to reconnect and most importantly to listen to each other. The journey to Cape Town was a time of reflection and connection, I genuinely believe that it is the beautiful conversations we had on the way that lit sparks and led to an awesome-mazing vacation.
We got to Cape Town in the afternoon and it was the time when the street market was being packed up. Our first stop in Cape Town was in the city centre, I kind of felt a bit lost at first and had that uneasy feeling and deep down I wondered if we had picked the right spot for our vacation, we grabbed something to eat for the night and before you know it we were on the internet planning our 2week stay in the friendly city. They don’t call it the friendly city for nothing, it is indeed one of the warmest places I have ever visited in terms of hospitality and oh boy your pocket must be loaded because everything is just a bit priced and at times that included the smiles we would get from the car guards. (Laughing out loud).
The following day we really started to explore the beauty of Cape town and the first thing we did was to go to the V & A Wharf, we spent almost the whole day just doing some shopping, watched movies and had food, I remember us taking a walk by the beach and laughing non stop. It felt like we had just met and were getting to know each other from scratch, blame it on the atmosphere we were in.
We got our tickets to do the city sight seeing bus tour for the 2 following days, we figured that doing that would ensure that we didn’t miss any highlight of Cape Town. We enjoyed the Red Bus City Tour and the mini cape peninsula. To see the full details of what is included in the ticket you can click on the link below.
On our forth day we went to the Table Mountain, I guess we had not done our homework properly because we did not dress warm enough to go up the famous table mountain, I guess we were fooled by the fact that it was Mid December and so we expected that the weather would be ok. Cape Town can be very windy and so the day we had booked for this trip we did not have the best weather, its important to check your weather focus before you may your booking and the same applies for your boat cruise. I would not say I really enjoyed going up the mountain and this was mainly as a result of the manner in which we were dressed. So we went up, took a couple of pictures, that on its own was an assignment I will never forget as my face was literally frozen because of the cold, we were on our way down as fast as possible. Lesson learnt, always do a proper research before visiting any place, know how you should dress.
One of the wildest experiences we had in Cape town was driving up Chapman’s peak, the view is to die for but the adrenaline is truly not for the faint hearted. We stopped a couple of times to take pictures, you will be glad that you not the one driving if you have a fear of heights and will get attempted several times not to look down. You know the movies we watch will spoil ones experiences sometimes because they will keep you imagining the worst thing that could ever happen just driving on Chapman’s peak.
I still maintain that God did no shabby job when he created Cape Town, it’s a place that shows his magnificence in no small way, how every piece of wonder is assembled in one place and held intact forever is still a mystery. I must say this; God is incredibly creative.
We went to the beach a couple of times and our favourite being Camps Bay, as much as our bodies were longing to swim the water was just way too cold, I remember dipping my feet for only a few minutes and felt like I was coming down with athritis the same time, Please don’t ask me how I know about how one feels when they coming down with athritis, Ijust know.
Our love for shopping compelled us to drive around looking for the factory shops, we just could not leave Cape town without going to the Factory shops and so we visited a couple but got disappointed as most of the shops were still closed due to the holidays.
One thing I will advise you is this, your Cape Town experience will just not be complete without you heading to Enyanga to enjoy one of the most delicious braai vleis ekasi has to offer, this is at a place called KwaMzoli. This is a very chilled out ghetto hang out spot, we got all kasified and headed to Enyanga to get an experience of a Kasie Chisanyama. There is so much diversity in Cape Town and to this day I still believe that Cape Town must be one of the places in South Africa that embodies diversity when it comes to tourism. We got to Kwamzoli and there were all kinds of people that you can ever think of. It was midweek but the place was buzzing, service was great regardless.
I think one of my wifes’ highlights was eating fresh fish and enjoying the beauty of listening to the cliques of other intriguing Xhosa speaking people, that was just heaven on earth for her. One thing I will never forget about Cape Town is the chilled out culture, there is no sense of urgency at all and so if you are a person who is used to speed service, you will have to relax your standards a bit.
That was Cape Town in a nutshell.