February, the month of love, is a good time to discover the joy travel experiences can deliver over material gifts. Travel is a fantastic way to bond with a loved one while also seeing something of your own country.

The South Africa is Travel Ready (SAITR) collective of influential agencies in the tourism and hospitality space is promoting the idea of #ExperiencesNotThings. It is supporting the industry’s efforts to reopen to international visitors, create awareness of the role tourism plays and inspire tourists to return because South Africa is “travel ready”.

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s to focus on the things that really count. Getting out there and doing things with those we love is a huge part of that.

Here are a few ways you and your loved one can support South Africa’s tourism and hospitality industry while making lasting memories.

Stellenbosch travel experience: Art from the heart

Stephen Rautenbach sculpture
This bold hare sculpture is a work in progress by Stellenbosch artist Stephen Rautenbach. Image: Supplied

Opposite the Visit Stellenbosch office in Church Street there’s a fascinating gallery where you may be lucky enough to find sculptor Stephen Rautenbach at work. His gallery and workshop is one of the oldest buildings on the street.

Inside, natural light streams in through a large window and you are besieged by a variety of creatures. The boldest is a large and determined “sprinting hare” Rautenbach is sculpting in wax.

Owls, eagles, hares and magical animals beckon you, and Rautenbach is happy to share insights into his work when available. He is just one of the artists in this creative town where artistic treasures await at every corner. 

From Rautenbach’s menagerie of creatures and the three Alan Ainslie cheetahs outside the ART on Church gallery, to Wilma Cruise’s Monkey Business bronze sculptures, art is everywhere. A Stellenbosch Art on Foot tour with your loved one is the ideal way to enjoy this living, breathing gallery.

Do also visit the Dylan Lewis Studio and Sculpture Garden in Paradyskloof Road, among other galleries on wine farms in the area.

Once you have fed your soul with art and creativity, we suggest a romantic lunch at Haskell Vineyards. Their “Plates” menu (little plates of sheer deliciousness), accompanied by fine wines, is the stuff memories are made of. They also have a special Valentine’s day menu:

Contact Visit Stellenbosch for more information on art tours and other romantic and fun experiences, or call 021-886-4310.

Adrenalin Addo travel experience

If you and your partner want an adrenaline fix, look no further than the Adrenalin Addo Adventure Park. It’s an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth and a 20-minute drive from the Addo Elephant National Park.

The Sundays River Valley is the perfect spot to let loose and have some fun. Adrenalin Addo’s activities range from chilled, soft adventures to the more extreme options. 

Consider the Addo zipline — with two 500m wires, it is known as “the highest, longest and fastest double zip line in South Africa”. It takes two riders at a time, so real bonding can take place between the shrieks of delight (or fear).

Another option is the Addo Superman zipline. Participants get to fly through the air on their stomachs facing forward. Here’s one way to fly without wings with your partner! There is the Addo Giant Swing, as well as two-man canoes for those who enjoy a more leisurely adventure.

After all these activities, visit the Addo Snack Deck overlooking the Sundays River. Relax and enjoy a light meal, and the incredible views of the surroundings. 

Visit: www.adrenalinaddo.co.za for more information or call 078-911-1619. Prior booking is advised.

Travel experience 3: With Love from Lebo’s

Lebo's Soweto
Lebo’s tuk-tuks are ready to take you and your special person on a fun tour of Soweto. Image: Supplied

If ever there was a tourism success story in Gauteng it is Lebo’s Soweto. Lebo’s offers unique experiences of Soweto for day visitors and those who wish to stay overnight. For overnight stays there is the Backpackers Lodge and Guest House, chalets or, if camping’s your bag, the Lebo-Land campsite. 

Treat your partner to a Soweto bicycle tour taking in various heritage sites; a Soweto Tuk-Tuk Tour; or a number of walking tours. Stroll through historic Orlando West, meet artists and entrepreneurs, and engage with residents. Finish with a delicious meal at the outdoor restaurant and taste the traditional flavours of Soweto.

Visit www.sowetobackpackers.com for more information.

Before you go: COVID safety first

When travelling, take note of and observe all COVID-19 safety protocols. Respect your tourism service provider and supplier by wearing a mask, practising social distancing where possible and having your temperature taken when requested.

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