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Your real, down-to-mars travel guide

2019-08-11 00:00

Let’s face it, as young black people in SA, leisure travelling is almost impossible. At the end of the day, travel bloggers sell us a beautifully packaged Instagram lie. Moroetsana Serame delves into the world of travel packages and tries to find trips that we can all afford.

My ideal job in another lifetime would be travel blogging. Imagine being paid to experience destinations, delicious cuisine and music, meet new people with different lived experiences and cultures, and then write reviews about it all.

However, nothing pops a wanderlust bubble faster than long queues at the department of home affairs, passport application costs, visa red tape and a bank balance that doesn’t match your travel ambitions. The conundrum of being black in South Africa and of having a history of dispossession that still affects our reality, means it’s just not an option for many of us financially.

And then there’s my general disgruntlement with tourists, who, in the words of poet Lebo Mashile, “gauge their tears on raw sewage then drive 10 minutes to sip chai tea”.

With travel guides so unrelatable economically and socially, I felt motivated to write one for those who have to watch their dime, and mind their marginalised identity.

LOCAL TRIPS

1. Western Cape excursion with Once

Price: R640 to R1 000 per person

Duration: Four nights

Once in Cape Town is a youth hostel that offers affordable accommodation. This includes budget Loud and Proud rooms, twin standard rooms, balcony rooms and mixed multishare dorms. All rooms have an en-suite bathroom.

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It also has a branch in Johannesburg. The Loud and Proud rooms are for people who like to travel on a budget and don’t mind bunking with others. If booked on special, the room costs R640 for four nights. However, the price can go up to R1 000 depending on the dates you’ve booked.

The package includes a stay in the mixed-dorm room that is a four-sleeper, which is ideal if you are sharing a trip with your friends.

If you’ve booked on special, you’ll also get free breakfast and daily activities such as Power Hour (free drinks if you don’t use your phone for an hour), watching the sunset at Camps Bay and hiking at Lion’s Head.

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The accommodation is located on Kloof Street within walking distance of parks, restaurants, bars, fashion boutiques, grocery stores and the famous Long Street.

It has three restaurants, a communal kitchen, bicycle renting facilities, free Wi-Fi, and a tours and concierge desk that assists with bookings for activities such as surfing lessons, wine tasting in Stellenbosch (ranging from R20 to R75), visits to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (entrance fee R180) and its in-house restaurant that overlooks the Waterfront harbour.

Regarding flights, it is advisable to book early and look out for specials on airlines – you could spend less than R1 000 on return flights.

With the above being said, it is important to note that Cape Town is not a friendly place for black people and people of colour in general.

It is no secret that there is huge disparity between the suburbs and tourist locations and the actual lived experiences of people in townships and on the Cape Flats, which is a common thread throughout South Africa.

Book at once.travel/cities/cape-town/

2. Mpumalanga Kruger to Canyon Tour

Price: R1 900 per person

Duration: Two nights

The MFM Tours & Safaris package includes breakfast and supper, accommodation and transport. It excludes entertainment. Mpumalanga is suitably named as the place where the sun rises.

Bordering eSwatini and Mozambique, the province hosts the southern half of the Kruger National Park, so there is plenty to see and do. Try hiking and going to tourist attractions such as God’s Window, the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Blyde River Canyon, the Graskop Gorge Lift and Echo Caves.

Note, these all have entrance fees of up to R65 per person.

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For the adventure lovers, there is the Big Swing, the Mac-Mac Pools, ziplining and bungee jumping. Some activities are free, while others cost less than R150 per person, so your entertainment budget might not break your piggy bank. The tour runs from September 22 to 24.

Tip: If you’re travelling in a group, consider a joint savings account that is easily accessible for everyone. Discuss costs such as food, drinks and entertainment prior to departing to avoid disputes. Beware of gravel roads and potholes if you’re using your own transport.

Many people also opt to book their own accommodation to avoid costs incurred if an agent is booking on your behalf.

Book at mfmtours.co.za

TOUR THE CONTINENT

3. Mozambique with Travel Plug

Price: R3 500 per person

Duration: Three nights at a four-star resort

The Travel Plug package includes transport, accommodation, a beach braai, paddle boating and a shuttle to attraction sights, namely the Maputo tour, restaurants, markets and malls.

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Mozambique is along the Indian Ocean coastline, resplendent with popular beaches and offshore marine parks. Its greatest charms are its people, nightlife, music and art. The country has been described by many as having the best seafood in east Africa. The package is for October 24 to 27.

Call 083 306 9685 to book or email info@thetravelplug.co.za

4. Portuguese islands

Price: R4 990 per person

Duration: Three nights

The Flight Centre package includes a three-night stay on board the MSC Orchestra departing from Durban, all meals and entertainment on board, gratuities and port charges and taxes.

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The package excludes flights, visas, transfers, insurance, personal spending, excursions and drinks. The special is for those departing on January 24, giving you some time to save.

Book at flightcentre.co.za

5. Botswana and Namibia tour with Walala Wasala

Price: R5 000 per person

Duration: Eight days (two nights in Botswana and five nights in Namibia)

The Walala Wasala tours package includes border transfers, return transport and breakfast. The two nights in Botswana serve as a resting stop, where activities will be available but are not included in the package.

The rest of the tour is in Namibia in a resort that has a dual entertainment feature – a beach at the front and a desert at the back. Other activities included in the package are camel rides, boat cruises and quad-bike rides.

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Botswana is landlocked, while Namibia boasts the towering red dunes of the Namib desert, star-crammed skies, the Atlantic Ocean, and delicious German beer and cuisine. Namibia may be the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, but it’s also been dubbed as one of Africa’s best adventure destinations.

The tour is for October 3 to 10.

Call 079 654 3032 to book or email walalawasalatour@gmail.com

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Safety

This year, the Botswana High Court decriminalised same-sex sexual activity by unanimously declaring that section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code was unconstitutional.

There has since been lobbying to have Namibia follow suit. Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, South Africa, the Seychelles, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Angola are countries where homosexuality has been decriminalised.

Namibia, Sudan, Somalia, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leone have anti-gay laws that criminalise homosexuality and homosexual gender identity.

Some of these countries impose sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty as punishment for homosexual acts.

Kenya’s high court caused widespread discontent when it refused to scrap laws criminalising gay sex recently. Tanzania in particular recently launched an anti-queer crackdown, intensifying LGBTQI+ discrimination.

I would therefore urge you to do your research regarding the laws of your desired holiday destination and book with caution.

OVER THE SEA

6. Phuket, Thailand

Price: R13 470 per person

Duration: Seven nights

Phuket is a rainforest dream – a mountainous island in the Andaman Sea. It boasts some of Thailand’s most popular beaches and is home to many high-end seaside resorts, spas, markets, nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

This Flight Centre package includes a seven-night stay at the four-star Centara Karon Resort Phuket in a superior terrace room, return flights from Johannesburg, approximate taxes, return transfers, breakfast daily, a transferable R1 000 travel voucher, late check-out subject to availability and a room upgrade subject to room type booked and availability.

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The package excludes items of a personal nature, items not mentioned, gratuities and porterage and meals not mentioned, as well as drinks, tours and sightseeing not mentioned. The travel dates are October 1 to 31.

Book at flightcentre.co.za

Details correct at time of print, #Trending has no control over any changes in package prices

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August 25 2019