Live our South Africa with Lorna Maseko, South Africa’s Culinary Princess

One of South Africa’s most endearing TV personalities and a contestant on the South African edition of Celebrity Masterchef in 2015, few people know their homeland as well as Lorna Maseko…

Team Wanderlust
02 January 2023
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South Africa

One of South Africa’s most endearing TV personalities and a contestant on the South African edition of Celebrity Masterchef in 2015, few people know their homeland as well as Lorna Maseko. She recently took a trip around South Africa to not only strengthen her roots but encourage visitors to explore the country like her, a local. From the street food of Durban to the whales of Hermanus, here’s where you can follow in Lorna’s footsteps…

1. Durban

Durban Golden Mile Beach (Shutterstock)

Durban’s crimson dawns are well worth rising early for. The morning skies are perfectly framed by Umlanga’s striking Whalebone Pier, while the city’s sandy seafront (part of which is aptly named the Golden Mile) is another worthy spot to admire them from. Once you have soaked up those stellar morning views, follow in Lorna’s footsteps and go in search of food at Victoria Street Market. Nowhere is Durban’s Indian heritage more keenly felt than here, at the city’s oldest market, where you can try its most famous street food dish, bunny chow (hollowed-out bread filled with curry).

2. Nelson Mandela Capture Site

Nelson Mandela Capture Site (Shutterstock)

A little outside Durban, in the north, lies one of South Africa’s most poignant sites. In 1962 just outside the town of Howick, Nelson Mandela was arrested by apartheid police, marking the start of his 27 years in prison. A sculpture comprising 50 steel columns now stands in the spot where he was captured and when viewed from the correct angle, a portrait of South Africa’s most beloved son reveals itself. A small museum embellishes Mandela’s remarkable story further, with a particular focus around his arrest. If you are on a road trip towards Johannesburg from Durban, this memorial is well worth pausing for.

3. The Anglo-Zulu Battlefields

Isandlwana battlefield (Shutterstock)

The undulating hills, kopjes and grasslands of KwaZulu-Natal may look serene these days, but during the 19th century they played host to a series of battles fought by the Zulus, British and the Boers. These disputes of land and power helped to shape modern South Africa and Lorna spent time at two of its most famous battlefields. The infamous Isandlwana battlefield saw the Zulus hand the British army their most bruising defeat and the site today remains incredibly moving, pocked by memorials and whitewashed cairns, while a small museum tells the battle’s story. Close by lies Rorke’s Drift, where an informative interpretation centre sits on the site of the original mission station the Zulu reserves attacked.

4. Drakensberg

The Tugela Falls in front of the Amphitheatre (Shutterstock)

With brooding basalt ranges and sweeping emerald-coated valleys, the Drakensberg is stuffed full of landscapes bigger than your imagination. With epic hiking trails webbing this rugged wilderness, the Drakensberg invites you to treat it as your playground. The Amphitheatre is one of its most eye-popping, a hair-raising trek up steep gullies and rock faces before revealing widescreen panoramas of the misty Tugela Falls and wider peaks. It isn’t just dramatic walks you can do in the Drakensberg, as a stay at Montusi Mountain Lodge will prove, whether it’s mountain biking through its northern grasslands or spotting birds like ground hornbills, kingfishers and sunbirds.

5. Clarens

Charming Clarens (Shutterstock)

Snuggled up in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains on the western fringes of the Drakensberg, Clarens is a hidden gem seemingly stuck in time. Known as the ‘Jewel of the Free State’, the chocolate-box Dutch sandstone architecture feels as if it’s not been touched since the village was first built in 1912 and its quaint high street is a joy to wander in search of pottery, leatherwork and other curios. But its dramatic setting, surrounded by the cloud-baiting monoliths of Golden Gate Highlands National Park, has long fired the creative juices of artists and a number of galleries dotted around Clarens showcase their work.

6. Johannesburg and Soweto

Street food in Soweto (Shutterstock)

Diverse, outward-looking and high-octane, Johannesburg is modern South Africa at its buzzing best, with a thriving arts scene, burgeoning café culture and neon-tinted nightlife. To appreciate the city’s progressive nature visit its most famous township, Soweto. Formerly home to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, Soweto has emerged from its shady past and been reborn as an eclectic neighbourhood with vibrant street art, gourmet eateries and poignant memorials. During her visit, Lorna connected with the locals at one of the township’s shisa nyamas, where you can pick your own meat from a butcher before watching it cooked on a braai. Shisa nyama Chaf Pozi accompanies its barbecuing with live music – Jozi knows how to party.

7. Cradock

Camdeboo National Park (Shutterstock)

Founded in 1813 for the migratory farmers working the surrounding countryside, Cradock is a charming agricultural town situated on the banks of the Great Fish River. Cattle farmers still live here today and the town also specialises in the production of wool and mohair. But Lorna’s curiosity was piqued by the epic wilderness found right next door to Cradock, Camdeboo National Park, which is a happy hunting ground for hikers and those itching to see a rich bounty of wildlife like eland, springboks, hartebeests and rare Cape mountain zebras. Stay after nightfall, too, for some of the best stargazing in South Africa.

8. Hermanus

Hermanus is a great place for whale watching (Shutterstock)

Renowned as one of the finest whale-watching hotspots on the planet, what makes Hermanus extra special is that you don’t even need to leave its coastline for quality sightings. Sure, organised boat trips allow you to spy marine big five (Cape fur seal, southern right whale, great white shark, African penguin and bottlenose dolphin) but where else can you sit on the shore and spy southern right whales in such close proximity? Lorna headed into town and shopped in Hermanus’ boutique shops and cafés for a tasty picnic to accompany her whale encounters from the beach – Fick’s Pool and Voëlklip are two of the best sandy lookouts, as is the cliff path in Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

9. Elgin and Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch (Shutterstock)

Head north from Hermanus and you enter South Africa’s bucolic Winelands. An hour in and you’re among the sun-dappled vineyards of Elgin Valley, whose cool climate lends itself perfectly to growing varieties like sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. Elgin’s rolling hills and vineyards are best explored by e-bike, an invitation Lorna didn’t ignore before carrying on to one of the Winelands’ more renowned towns, Stellenbosch. Characterised by its Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture, plenty of heritage surrounds Stellenbosch in the form of its historic wine estates. But the region’s rich soil isn’t just used for growing grapes but vegetables, too, which translates into tasty menus of farm-to-fork food served at its estates and restaurants.

10. Cape Town

Cape Town (Visit South Africa)

Lorna’s last stop is Cape Town, where culture, history and adventure collide unlike anywhere else. The city’s buzzing Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is ideal for drinks at sunset overlooking the harbour but if you really want to appreciate Cape Town’s dramatic location, you need to head up high. Lorna took to the skies in a helicopter but a hike atop Table Mountain, Lion’s Head or Signal Hill will all deliver epic panoramas. Back at sea level, there’s no better way to soak up the city’s eclectic culture than a stroll through the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood. Its vividly painted houses are staples on Instagram, but its chequered history, Cape Malay cuisine and spice-laden supermarkets describe a deeper story.

Feeling inspired?

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