You have to see Ethiopia

posted in: Travel Inspiration | 6

Ethiopia should be on your list of must-sees this year.  It is affordable and easy to get to, with an amazing coffee culture!  One could say Ethiopia is the top emerging African travel destination.

Ethiopia has the largest selection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the continent.  Let’s take a closer look at 3 of them:

All photographs courtesy of Iga Motylska.

Lalibela

You simply have to walk through a winding passage and then through a rocky entrance to find yourself standing in front of the St George’s Church.  This particular church is the most popular of the 11 rock churches and 2 chapels that form part of the Lalibela church complex which was literally carved out of volcanic rock.  This painstaking task took 23 years and 6 months to complete and was a result of King Lalibela’s dream to build a new Africa Jerusalem.  After 9 centuries, these awe inspiring creations are still standing for us to behold.

Travellers are actually silenced by the grandeur of it all.

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Aksum

Though Lalibela is regarded as a very important religious and pilgrimage site, the kingdom of Aksum – which was founded more than 3 000 years ago  – was one of the world’s first Christian countries, when the religion was adopted in fourth century. You can wander amongst towering granite obelisks and admire engraved tablets before entering the royal tombs at Aksum Stelae Park.

Just across the street from Aksum, is Ethiopia’s oldest church. The walls of the cathedral are brightly painted with Bible scriptures simply because a lot of individuals were illiterate. Both sites free to enter.

Behind the cathedral you will find the Chapel of the Tablet.  This is guarded night and day as it’s believed to house the Ark of the Covenant – a gold covered receptacle for the 2 stone tablets which are actually inscribed with the ten commandments. Based on the legend, which any Ethiopian will be able to tell you, this was brought to Ethiopia by the son of Queen Sheba and King Solomon.

Gondar

Ethiopia is a land of royalty. Fasil Ghebbi, also known as the Camelot of Africa, is based on the 17th century fortress city of Gondar – the former capital city. Although impressive, it’s normally Debre Birhan Selassie Church that is the most impressive.  The tiny church appears quite humble from the outside, but the insides are adorned with biblical murals, and the ceilings are painted with the faces of angels.



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Coffee in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, not Brazil, and it resonates through every part of every day living.  You don’t just grab a quick coffee, here coffee drinking is down to a long standing ritual, a fine art.  Coffee is sold to you by white cloaked female coffee sellers busy hand roasting coffee beans in clay pans on street corners, in restaurants and cafes, airport lounges and hotel lobbies. You need no convincing when that aroma grabs you!

Local cuisine

Rather than sticking to your hotel’s international meal options, try the wide selection of affordable and traditional dishes.

Christian Ethiopians fast on Wednesdays, Fridays and during religious holidays by not consuming animal products so there are plenty vegetarian options available to travelers. One of the favourites are Bayenetu, a kind of vegan, lactose free platter consisting of a big injera (pancake made from fermented teff flour) topped with Shiro (chickpea paste) and sauces called Wats. Expect large dollops of curried potatoes, spinach, beetroot cubes, cabbage, and also pureed lentils and pea stews.

Locals normally share communal meals so expect your waiter to bring a jug of water, a bucket and a towel to your table so you can wash your hands.  Also join in the local tradition of eating using your left hand only!

Budget

While Ethiopia isn’t the cheapest African nation to visit, it is still pretty very affordable for South African travellers and is frequently be found on lists of the’ ten cheapest African countries’. Local food and public transportation are also very affordable so you have no excuse to not visit this African gem!

 

Sun City – an African oasis

posted in: Local is lekker | 27

As you pull into the reserve, an impressive sight awaits – grand architecture and swaying palm trees create quite the contrast against the dull background!  You have reached Sun City, an African oasis.

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Sun City is situated between the Elands River and Pilanesberg, about a two hour drive from Johannesburg. It is the ideal spot for luxurious weekend away or maybe a fun family break. There is plenty to do both day and night. You can also view the Big 5 in the Pilanesberg National Park, enjoy a hot air balloon ride, play a round of golf or just laze by one of the amazing pools.



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The resort consists of 4 hotels:

The Cabanas – 3 Star:

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The Cabanas are situated next to the Waterworld Lake and has recently undergone renovations. It now incorporates modern finishes and pops of colour which offers a pleasant change from the African theme running throughout the resort.

Visitors have a choice between a twin or family room. The family room is suited for families with kids under 12 while the twin rooms are a bit better for families with teenage kids.  In the mornings, guests can enjoy a delicious English breakfast at the Palm Terrace restaurant.

Soho Hotel – 4 Star:

Pick the Soho Hotel if you want to be close to the action! This was the first hotel on the resort and offers immediate access to the casino and the other resort entertainment.clickclickgo_suncity

The hotel itself offers a choice of 340 rooms, including presidential suites to luxury twin and family rooms.  Wake up to beautiful pool or lake views and enjoy a daily buffet breakfast.

After a fun-filled day, sit down for a lovely dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants or head for the casino and try your luck.  Other activities include dance club’s, cocktail bars and live music.  There is never a dull moment at the Soho Hotel!

Cascades Hotel – 5 Star:

The name Cascades actually originates from the waterfalls around the hotel, offering a lush tropical paradise and tranquility amongst the business of the resort.  You will regularly encounter monkeys and birds which can cause for much excitement on your afternoon walk!clickclickgo_suncity

The 5 star hotel offers 241 luxury rooms overlooking the lovely gardens and beach pool area.  Enjoy around the clock room service, drinks on the terrace and other special touches throughout your stay.

Be sure to make use of the hotel concierge service to assist with daily activities or any day trip bookings that you might require.

The Palace – 5 Star:

The world class Palace is one of Africa’s most sought after five star hotels and is a symbol of African luxury, transporting you to an African Kingdom from years gone by.clickclickgo_suncity

The hotel has 335 suites and rooms with breathtaking views of the jungle and water as well as the luxury pool hidden by swaying palm trees.  Visitors can enjoy the finest cuisine at some of the best restaurants.

When you stay at The Palace, the Valley of the Waves is at your doorstep and can be reached by taking the lovely walkways through the resort’s jungle.

A World Within A City

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You can never go wrong with choosing Sun City for either a family holiday or a romantic getaway.  Amazing accommodation, activities abound, delicious food, sunset safaris, drinks with breathtaking views, African wildlife, sun and laughter – what more do you want.

Compare a few airlines and book your cheap flights to Sun City right now!