September 2013

With the onset of spring and after a superbly wet winter Cape Town is at its lush verdant best. After a brief winter we cannot wait to get out there!

The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are celebrating their centenary and putting on a fine show. A photographic display taking you through the garden’s century of growth is part of the current showing as well as Free guided walks and other events ( that celebrate 100 years of our beautiful garden. Moyo Restaurant is a welcome addition to feed the admiring visitors. The treetops tour is in its early stages of development, but upon completion you will be able to view the lesser-known arboretum from above with its indigenous. For the more adventurous, a clamber up Nursery Ravine is splendid. The recent display of waterfalls is wonderful but beware of slippery rocks. This is quite a demanding walk but worth the effort. Remember to be well prepared and if you are not doing the hike with an experienced guide let someone know your route and eta (

Alternately, catch the last gush of the Palmiet River with a day out river-rafting in the Kogelberg National Park on the East coast. (Palmietriver rafting)

Not to be outdone, the West Coast is putting on a fabulous spring display of annual flowers. If you already have tickets you will be heading up to the Rocking the Daisies Festival to dance in a field of daisies. If not, console yourself by visiting the West Coast National Park where free entry is being offered for the week 9-14 September. Take a picnic and think about booking to stay overnight in one of SANPARKS’ wonderful overnight cottages (; if you have a more generous budget private homes are also available in Churchaven (churchhaven perfecthideaway).

Tripping likes to think of itself as “green” in terms of promoting environmental awareness and leaving nothing but footprints, taking nothing but photographs in our beautiful country. Now we want to do even more – by donating plastic from our trips to a recycling arts project not only are we upcycling your trash but we also support a creative outlet and potential income generation project. We have also become acutely aware of the unfortunate carbon footprint that visitors leave in their international air travel and would like to offset this by planting a tree in guerilla gardens across the Cape, or by facilitating a donation to an organization that concentrates on greening the Cape Flats for every group that travels with us.

Life Lessons from a South African Surfer

(From the Blog of a happy Tripper - - many thanks)

Recently, a few of us here at john st. had the privilege of heading across the world to South Africa to shoot a spot for one of our pro bono clients. While we were there, we got to experience some of the amazing sights South Africa has to offer and work with some pretty incredible people, but there was one person in particular that really made the experience a special one for all of us. When we met Andrew he was our chaperone, but by the time we left South Africa he was our also our history teacher, DJ, life coach, and most importantly... our friend. His outlook on life was nothing less than inspiring. Andrew taught us so much but I think a lot of it can be summed up into the three rules below.

Always follow the light. Without fail, any time off we had with Andrew, he would check the Wind Guru app on his phone to find out where the best weather was. We followed the sun all over Cape Town and the surrounding area. But, Andrew also lives this rule figuratively. He associates himself with positive people who have an optimistic outlook on life. He sees the best in all people, and makes a point of looking for the good in all things. In turn, being with Andrew made us a little lighter (as cheesy as that may sound). By the end of the trip, our outlook on life was definitely altered for the better. It’s true that when you focus on the positive, good things happen. And I think we can apply that to our day-to-day work as well. With a positive outlook and like minded partners you are much more likely to achieve great things.

Avoid the beaten path. We all know this one already as “take the road less travelled” but I like Andrew’s way of putting it better (and it helps that he says it with a South African accent). We literally lived this when he forced us away from the stairs up to the tourist viewing platform at Cape Point and got us to scale the side of a cliff so that we could stand on the edge of the world all by ourselves. This act of insanity was an incredible reminder that when you push yourself out of your comfort zone the reward is oh so worth it. Again, the same can be said in our industry. If you push the boundaries and connect with consumers in fresh and innovative ways it can be scary, but also extraordinarily rewarding.

Don’t go back the way you came. The nature of being on a shoot with three different locations outside of Cape Town meant that we spent a large majority of our time in the car. We travelled around not only for the location scout, the tech scout, and the shoot day, but also to visit wineries, go shark diving, see the national parks, and hunt for penguins. And in all that driving, we always took a different route back to where we came from. Because of this, we saw sooo much of the land. The opportunity to see the landscape was amazing but we also got to stop in and visit many different places that we stumbled upon along the way. It reminded us that breaking out of your routine keeps things interesting and allows you to experience and discover things that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It adds an element of adventure to a part of your life that is so easy to let get boring. In advertising, it’s important to remember that consumers are constantly evolving and what worked three years ago might not be relevant today. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the constantly changing markets could lead to relevant insights and touch points that would otherwise go unnoticed. In the end, while it may be a bit harder to live by these rules literally in Toronto, it’s definitely worth a shot at living by them in spirit. We owe Andrew a huge thank you for making our experience in South Africa one we’ll never forget and for teaching us to truly appreciate life.

Under Cover – Winter in the Cape

The winter chill has arrived, bringing with it much needed and beloved rain showers. Although it rains, there are still glorious sunny days interspersed with the rare phenomena of no wind – a friend of mine returned from a week in Amsterdam and told me that our winter was far warmer than the “summer” there. So unless you are a devoted sun worshipper adamant on keeping that year-round tan going there are a good few reasons to visit Cape Town during the low season.

Come and feel out the real Cape Town – without the swarming hordes there is a far mellower and authentic laidback experience to be had. No hype, no queues, no rushing, and friendly locals will see you more as a traveller intent on an experience rather than part of the throng that swamps the place in summer.

Cape Town is a creative city that likes to play. In winter, without the distraction of the beaches and outdoor living, that play becomes the art xhibitions, music concerts and parties. With a host of exhibitions – be sure to catch the Tretchikoff and Drum installations at the Iziko National Museum Winter is also the time for the largest Arts festival held in Grahamstown for 10 days of cutting edge theatre music and art.

Also, it is cheaper – much cheaper. Those amazing hotels, spas and restaurants that are too full to get into in summer are all offering deals and specials to entice you to visit. Top restaurants have time to expand their repertoire and you will be more than a grateful guinea pig as they wow you with the latest offerings on their tasting menus. You could try cheap and cheerful, like Andiamo’s breakfast for R20 per person, or imagine a five-course tasting menu (with wine pairing) at a top rated place like La Colombe for R390 per person. Harbour House also has a three-course lunch delight at R160 (without the second seatings required to accommodate summer's demanding crowd), so you an spend all afternoon sipping red wine in front of a fire, watching the dramatic and stormy sea. For more restaurant specials check out

If the storms are brewing the sea itself is dramatic and sublimely beautiful in its power. It also makes the surfers very happy, as the winter swells are better and more reliable than those wind broken small summer ones. If you want to give this surf a try the good news is that the winter water is warmer at Muizenberg and after your exhilarating adventure you can enjoy a hot chocolate or coffee at the Empire or one of the other coffee shops along the beachfront.

The whales also start arriving in the bays and shark viewing is at its best if you are a nature bunny or thrill seeker.

Communion with nature is still very doable and misty walks in some of the seasonally blooming fynbos will show you the landscape in a different hue, and pumping waterfalls that are all but a trickle in summer. Country retreats, or perhaps a sojourn to the Karoo are a fantastic treat at this time of the year – characterful farm homes with roaring fires and fantastic food offering a warm welcome and relaxation after the exhilarating outdoors.

Did I mention that the wine is great this time of the year, too? Vineyards release their new cultivars at this time of year and you can be the first to sample what may become an award-winning flagship wine. The wine estates, especially those in the old manor houses, have large fireplaces to stave off the chill as you hop from estate to estate. I have always found it easier to sample an abundance of red wine in particular, when the weather is more moderate. Be sure to join in the Bastille day celebrations in our very own French Quarter in July.

Further afield, if you head up the East coast you will find the temperature more moderate and bearable – even pleasant – on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. In summer this area is so humid that you break into a sweat getting dressed in the morning even after a cold shower!

As for safaris, this is the very best time of year for them. Kruger and many other parks are in the summer rainfall area, so at this time of the year they are rain free, with beautiful warm Highveld days – although the nights are very chilly. Without the summer rain the animals congregate around the remaining water holes and are easier to spot – also, a lack of vegetation on the winter trees makes tracking them an easier task.

So for those willing to brave a mild “winter chill” and wanting to get some good deals or see another face of the country – come now and stay for longer!

Most of our top-rated places are having some great specials, half price and 3 nights for the price of 2. Contact us for details.

Turning Up The Heat

The summer months are upon us, but the notorious Cape barometer can still promise four seasons in one day. Apart form the weather, which can be somewhat fickle, a more noticeable season change is the attitude of the city and in its inhabitants. After a winter of dormancy and hibernation (with the exception of the world cup month), we emerge ready to make the most of the longer summer days and nights with plenty happening on the holiday calendar.

Bums on Beaches

Summer and a perfect day on the beach is the essence of the season. We have so many types around the peninsula to choose from – Clifton and Llandudno the bikini beaches where you can work on your tan, family or swimming beaches like Muizenberg and St James, or the boundless walking and horse-riding beaches such as Noordhoek. For those who venture further, the West coast or the more temperate beaches of the East coast will not disappoint. At this time of the year we encourage everyone who travels to bring a swimming kit, as you never know when you may find the perfect tidal pool to cool off in. Like Cape Point Reserve, which not only has marvellous scenery but also the most beautiful natural pools for swimming and exploring. There are also perfect spots for picnics – just keep a lookout for baboons.

Summer storms

Our winter months (May – August) are ideal for safari’s. The Kruger is in the summer rainfall area so when it is dry animals congregate around the water holes, making game spotting very rewarding. The sparseness of vegetation also makes them easier to spot. The good thing about going on a safari in summer though, is that there are many spring babies and nothing is as dramatically beautiful as a Highveld thunderstorm. But be prepared for the heat, as temperatures often climb way into the 40-degree mark. We would recommend the Pilansberg area at this time of year – no malaria precautions necessary.

Day tripping

For the active and adventurous, now is the time for summer sports – try your hand at paragliding, surfing, kite-surfing, rock-climbing or just hiking. Walking trips are best done in the morning before the heat of the day and, as a general rule, the wind normally picks up in the afternoon; great for kite-surfing – not ideal for rock climbing or even a trip up Table Mountain. Table mountain introduces its half price after 6pm special for peak summer season. For a more chilled-out day there are Christmas markets and open gardens to wander around. Or catch a bit of the post World Cup soccer fever with home games, like the Bafana- Bafana vs the USA match in January. Try your luck at the J&B met horse races in January, take in the daily exhibitions and shows - keep your eye on the local press and posters.


You might have missed flower season up the West Coast but it is time for crayfish or lobster season - a veritable seafood treat, especially when prepared on an open fire and eaten on the beach . The lagoon houseboats within the West Coast National Park are a real treat at this time of year – nothing beats waking up on a perfect summers morning on the tranquil turquoise waters of the lagoon.

Sundowner Sipping

As the heat of the day melts away, meeting for sundowners becomes a priority. Marking the end of the day with a drink or cocktail in hand or a quiet contemplative moment cannot be beaten. Places to try are the Grand Beach at the waterfront and the older Grande in Camps Bay, or Wafu above Wakame in Mouliepoint. The newish Moyo at Blouberg has perfect Table Mountain views. La Med in Campsbay is lively and young and you can watch the adventurous paragliders who have taken off from Lionshead land in front of you. The 12 Apostles is more austere but the setting is beautiful. If you find yourself in the “deep south”, try the rustic Lookout deck at the Red Herring or Monkey Valley in Noordehoek. But the best sundowners experience is to grab some drinks and head up Signal hill or to Llandudno or Noordehoek beach on the perfect evening. Kirstenbosch sunset concerts also start again with an impressive line-up this year. Enjoy your Sunday evenings relaxing in the beautiful gardens listening to some of the best S.A. talent.

Party on…

And after sundowners it is time to party in the sizzling city. Already the city is getting psyched up for the 30 Seconds to Mars (November) and U2 (February) concerts. There are plenty of other gigs happening in the mainstream and underground. Holiday season brings out the party animal in Capetonians so keep an ear out for what is happening on the streets – The OBZ festival, the Table Mountain Blues Summit at Bloemendal farm, Paul Cluver Forest Amphitheatre, Synergy, the Mother City Queer Project – Africa’s biggest gay party - and some of the better festivals and events go down at this time of year.

Wishing all visitors and locals a hot “mother “ of a summer!

Tripping in the Daisies

Our World cup hangover has abated and the sun is shining on us – not only literally but also in the eyes of the world. The World Cup visit to South Africa was for many visitors a first, and many misconceptions were laid to rest. They were impressed by the natural beauty and diversity of our country as well as the top-notch accommodation and facilities, not to mention our friendliness as a welcoming nation and the “gees”(spirit) that gripped us all.

At Tripping we want to say, “Wait, there is more…” as we gear up for our favourite season in the Cape - with the advent of Spring the Southern Right whales return to our shores to calf and breed and the arid semi- desert of the West Coast bursts into its annual kaleidoscope of colour.

When the gentle giants of the sea swim 2500km from Antarctica to our seas it is always a celebration. We never tire of seeing the exhaled v-plumes in the bays, a fluke, some lob tailing and the joyous full breech. The whales come so close to the coast you can hear them breathe. Travelling on the Eastern Coast road from Cape Town to Agulhas one is rewarded with many whale sightings in False Bay and it just gets better further up the coast. The fit and adventurous will be well rewarded by the 5 day Whale trail in De Hoop and some boat-based companies will take you right up to whales (under very strict control – we are very much hunter turned gamekeeper these days and take whale protection very seriously – after so many years of hunting them to virtual extinction). Landlubbers will not miss out, with Hermanus reputedly being the best land based whale-watching spot in the world. A visit to the secret Heaven and Earth Valley and arty Stanford and other small towns along the coast complete this trip.

Recently a couple on a yacht got a little too close to a young whale who honoured them by breeching on the hull of their yacht – they were unharmed. It must be said this is very unusual for these gentle giants and the only recorded incident we have heard of in which a whale has eaten a person is in Jonah and the whale.

Not to be outdone, the West Coast also puts on a show for Spring. Whales visit these shores as well, but the show of colour put on by the annual flowers has to be seen to be believed. Off the coast, it is a semi-arid area which once a year bursts with variety and colour in many different blooms and quite literally carpets of flowers. This area is also known for its fossil finds – sabre tooth tiger! - and the Footprint of Eve believed to be 117000 years old, as well as being important for Khoi remnant finds. The quaint town of Darling, home to satirist and favourite first “lady” Evita Bezuidenhoudt, hosts its own arts festival and orchid show and pays tribute to a collection of “Afrikaaner”.

A coast of wild open beaches, craggy inlets and a cold strong sea where many a past sailor has met their doom shoulders the interior. This wild and sometimes forbidding coast is dotted by villages home to fishermen and diverse and eccentric characters that seek the solace of nature. (Read about Frank Wightman in Lawrence Green’s Biography – A Giant in Hiding if you are interested in this type of thing.) House boats bob romantically on the turquoise waters of the tranquil lagoon at Langebaan, offering respite, with the West Coast National Park on one side and the holiday town of Langebaan on the other, where kite boarders flock to practice this new craze. This is the time to feast on affordable seafood at rustic beach side “restaurants” dotted up the coast like the Strandloper.

The Postberg area in the West Coast National Park only opens to the public once a year, in September, and then not only are you treated to flowers and whales but the park is also home to many small mammals and antelope. West Coast National park.

The entire area is a twitcher’s delight, so binoculars are a must with as the Park and lagoon are both Ramsar sites. Even those who do not consider themselves bird watchers will gasp in awe at the flocks of flamingos colouring the sky pink.

With a spring in our step Tripping is offering day trips up both coasts in August and September, as well as a longer 3-day, 2-night trip for those with the luxury of time to see this Seasonal Wonder (space for the overnight trips is very limited so be sure to book early

West Coast 3 day trip
Whale Overberg day trip
Wild West Coast day trip

World Cup fever

A current of energy is bristling through the city and the country – that amped up feeling that something big is about to go down – and with just over two weeks till the opening matches of the World Cup, we can all feel it – even the sceptics and non-sports enthusiasts are putting flags on their cars and considering buying a vuvuzela and wearing a makarapa.

Tripping is no exception, and we were particularly excited to be part of hosting some of the up and coming young stars in the in Cape Town on 28 April 2010. At first our S.A representative, young Kamal “Kamalio” Rancho from Johannesburg did not look like he stood a chance against the more experienced and media blasé competitors from around the world, but our backwater boy seemed to grow more confident as the rounds moved on, pulling new moves out of the ether. Spurred on by funky hip-hop tunes and the home crowds ululating, toyi toying and spontaneous renditions of Shosholoza, he rose through the ranks into the finals and took second position – something the EU Films crews could have missed, they were so focused on the rapture of the masses watching. Next up for the Red Bull Crew is the Big Wave Extreme that comes in at Hout Bay, winter being an epic time for swell and surfing in general.

South Africa is almost ready for the World Cup, with all the stadiums completed, even though the Cape Town one has been described as resembling a giant bedpan. All the airports have been upgraded and even the international airport iShaka in notoriously laid back Durban opened on the 1st of May. Some roads are still frustratingly closed as they finish upgrading the transport infrastructure but it looks positive that we will make the June 10th deadline. Commercial opportunism abounds, even with street hawkers being arrested for “counterfeit” soccer goods, the paraphernalia is everywhere – my personal favourite being the Laduma latrine freshener!

The music choice for the celebrations has caused a major uproar from locals, as African musicians were scarce and marginalised. It is clear that despite its marketing campaign FIFA’s interests are commercial and not to create a showcase for African culture and talent. With Shakira singing the opening song at the World Cup, it is painfully obvious that visitors are going to have to scratch the surface a little to find a real picture of what’s happening here now. The good news is local music will take the opportunity to make their voices heard and a voice that will not go unheard will be that of Afrikaans zeitgeist Die Antwoord. Poetry-like folk tunes by Vusi Mahlasela or the mashed up hybrid electronic beats from artists from the homegrown eclectic African Dope label ( are also sure to catch attention. There is no doubt that you will be able to find a party in Cape Town at the Fanfest on the Grand Parade or the Cool Britannia month long party, hosted by Global Icons at the CTICC or something a little more underground.

So 54000 construction workers who worked on the stadiums have their tickets, as do some South Africans who waited out the morning of the final sales – despite FIFA botch-ups. If you do not have tickets, come anyway – there is still “room at the inn”. It is our bet that the spirit will spill through the streets and onto television screens everywhere. In true South African style we are having a party we cannot afford, so we are going to make the most of it and enjoy it while we can.

tripping contributes to the Big Issue

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