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Holidaying back in time
How many times have you sat around and reminisced about your childhood?
Like back when your pocket money came in coins, when Gummi Bears was the cool TV show to watch and Aromat still contained MSG.

As we get older, these reminiscings turn into slightly whiney indictments on the future in comparison to the past. Holidays today often involve constant interference from DSTV, bosses calling with perfect cell phone reception, unlimited internet access to email clients back and hungry nights after haute cuisine dinners.

While all these modern conveniences are good in theory, it often leaves us wishing for simpler times. Times when you went on holiday to that little town in the middle of nowhere, braaied every night and the accommodation's biggest attraction was a trampoline - sunk into the ground nogal!

But when we finally grow up and decide that a flat screen TV is not everything we begin to long for those holiday resorts of our childhood. Unfortunately, the chances are that we either can't remember where they were or that they have been bulldozed in favour of a McDonald's.

So while I was feeling all nostalgic, I decided to find which of my friends get that starry-eyed look when they think back to the holidays of their childhoods. Surprisingly, many of the places are still standing and offer a lesser-known, but incredibly beautiful holiday experience for those privileged to know about them.

Haga Haga - the place that is so nice that you have to say it twice.

And no, I did not make up that tagline.

Situated on the east coast, roughly 70kms from East London, Haga Haga was founded in the 1920s as a place for farmers to graze their livestock in winter. In order to move the cattle across the beach, one oxen team would have to be unspanned and hooked up to another. The Xhosa term for "hook on" is "haka haka", which is how Haga Haga got its unusual name.

There is a 13km gravel road that makes getting to Haga Haga a bit of a challenge, but really helps you get into the rustic spirit.

At first glance, there really looks like there is nothing to do in the area. In fact, one of the hotels even tries to use this to their advantage, stating that it is the ideal place for a conference as there are no outside distractions...

But once you give this little place a chance, you will find a plethora of things to do. From shell collecting to rock pool investigations, horse riding, fly and bass fishing, canoeing, hiking and pretty much any other outdoor activity you can think of, Haga Haga is the "get back to nature" capital of South Africa.


Situated just over an hour from Cape Town, Voelvlei dam is smack bang in between Tulbagh and Hermon. This fresh water reservoir supplies drinking water to the city, meaning that motorised boats are not allowed.

This lack of noise and technology based activities is not only peaceful, but limits your options for entertainment. While some may shudder in horror at this thought, Voelvlei is in fact the ultimate place to relax.

The stones lying along the water's edge are ideally shaped for skimming and you will be amazed at how addictive perfecting this child-like activity will become.

The soft rocks can also be broken down with a little effort into a rich red paste and which makes for excellent materials for body painting competitions.

This area also offers one of the most stereotypically relaxing activities of all - fishing. The water is mostly populated with smallmouth bass as well as carp, some tench, rainbow trout and Cape witvis.

It is recommended that you practice catch and release with everything but the carp meaning that you don't even have to feel guilty and lose sleep at night.

The accommodation in the area is simple, yet comfortable and it is worth bearing in mind that permits to fish are needed and need to be applied for in Cape Town at the offices of the Receiver of Revenue.

If you do get bored of the tranquillity of doing nothing, both the towns of Wellington and Tulbagh are close enough for a day outing.


This town lies roughly 30kms east of Pretoria and was once a diamond town, a POW camp and the site of the discovery of the world's biggest diamond in 1905.

Cullinan is a richly historical town that has the added benefit of beautiful surrounding scenery. It is almost as if the town is frozen in time, offering an atmosphere of relaxation and languidness of a yesteryear.

While South Africa is filled with such towns, Cullinan is one the less explored even though it is so close to Johannesburg and Pretoria. This makes the area even more special as you truly feel like you are the only one in the world who was smart enough to discover such a gem so close to home.

With museums, ancient churches, mining relics, craft shops, diamond markets and even unusual tea gardens to visit, Cullinan offers a different experience to places like Haga Haga that focus purely on outdoor activities.

Today, the town is experiencing a tourist boom, which means that there are more amenities to enjoy, but some of its rustic charm is at risk of being lost. My suggestion? Visit it now before McDonald's moves in - even a quick day trip from Jozi is worth the drive.

These three little towns barely scratch the surface of what is available in South Africa if you think back or manage to resist the call of the resorts.

What was your favourite holiday destination as a child?

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