Discover Johannesburg’s Top Hikes

hedianga-2
Hedianga Hike 15km – “We love hiking with dogs.”                                                                                                                                 Photo Credit: Becci Monge

For a city as gritty as Johannesburg, you might be surprised to find out just how many fab hiking spots there are in and around it.  My friend, American expat Becci Monge has kindly written a guest post with her top local hiking picks.

Becci got hooked on hiking last year when she decided (and by the way successfully succeeded – enormous kudos to you Becci and the rest of the Jo’burg based She-Trek team) to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. In preparation for Kili, the She-Trekkers explored (and continue to explore) the best hiking spots on offer in our local area.

Over to Becci: Continue reading

Scorpion on the Line

 

scorpion-on-the-line
Did you ever hear the story about Thomas the Tank Engine and the scorpion?  It’s got a sting in the tail.

This is a passenger announcement.  Regular blog services are running late.  Normal service has been severely disrupted by The Christmas Holidays…and a scorpion on the line.

Regular service will resume shortly.

In the meantime, just incase you missed them the first time around, the most popular 5 posts on Expatorama in 2016 were:

  1.  Why Expats are Like Dung Beetles
  2.  The Escape Room Phenomenon hits South Africa
  3.  10 Things I’ve learned from running and Expat Facebook Group
  4.  Ladies who Lunch
  5.  Which School? An Expat Parenting Dilemma

 

The scorpion has now thankfully left the building and I’m busy working on some brand new posts for 2017.

Thokozani: A Happy Place

thokozani

There is a great deal of poverty in South Africa and some expats choose to use their time here to do what they can to contribute to improving and empowering local communities through a variety of volunteer programs, fundraisers and initiatives.  All in all there are some fantastic expat projects going on. Today’s guest post is written by expat Mona Brantley with input from Annabel Newell. Mona currently heads up the Friends of Diepsloot volunteer team that has invested an enormous amount of time and love in Thokozani Preschool over the last few years to great effect.  Over to Mona…..

Where is your happy place? Have you found a place in your current location that makes you smile, where only good memories are made? For me and many other Joburg expats that happy place literally is Thokozani (a Zulu word for “a place or state of happiness”).

Four years ago, in April of 2012, Laurence Braeckman, a Belgian expat, went into Diespsloot township to look at schools, day cares, and preschools. When she discovered Gogo and Thokozani, she knew she had found her happy place.

Gogo (Zulu for grandmother because no one calls her by her name Miss Lizah) had already been running Thokozani for six years, primarily as a day care and a place of safety for the very young children of Diepsloot.

The facilities then were very basic. They were making food for 200 kids on a two gas hob cooker in a kitchen that doubled as the office. The children sat and ate on the floor. They practiced writing letters on the backs of their classmates. The classrooms were little more than shacks: hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The food, though made with love and care, was not nutritious enough for growing children. While the kids were safe and in a loving environment, so much more could be done, and Laurence and her cohorts set to work. Continue reading

5 Top Tips to Guide you when Buying Diamond Jewellery

South Africa is famous for diamonds.  Whether you are living here or just visiting, you will no doubt appreciate some guidance if you are in the market for a loose stone or piece of diamond jewellery.

img_6135
Actual Road Sign in South Africa en route to Cullinan Diamond Mine!

Expat Michelle Morrow is passionate and well-informed about all things that sparkle and has learned a huge amount about the diamond industry whilst living in South Africa.  She kindly agreed to share her top 5 tips for buying diamonds with us. Continue reading

24 Hours in Hermanus – You’ll Have a Whale of a Time

img_6570

There is a vast swathe of the jagged southern coastline of South Africa that is prime whale watching territory. The small coastal town of Hermanus has the advantage that it perches on low cliffs fringing deep Walker Bay, offering excellent land based whale watching. The town’s fortuitous position means it has been rated as one of the top 12 spots on the entire planet for spotting the gentle giants of the ocean.  If you go during whale season, you are virtually guaranteed to see whales (yes, that’s whales plural) without even having to set foot on a boat.

We hoped we could experience the highlights of Hermanus and surrounds in 24 hours, here’s how we did… Continue reading

Feeding the Five Thousand

South Africa is a meat loving nation.  The braai (barbecue) is practically a national pass time, heck, it’s nigh on a national sport.  Just to give this claim some context, you need to see this mother-of-all-meat competitions running at one of our local shopping centres..

Continue reading

Discover Sci Bono

Sci Bono Discovery Centre is situated in an old power station in Johannesburg’s Newtown. We’ve taken our kids a few times and they love it.  We hosted a birthday party there this morning, which included a guided tour of the best bits and an awesome exploding science show.  Quite a few of our guests had never been, which made me realise that plenty of Jo’burgers have never checked this place out.

IMG_3669
Exploding Science in Sci Bono’s Party Room

This is why they should…

Continue reading

These Easter Eggs are a No-Glow

We haven’t had any blackouts here in our neck of Johannesburg for a while (fingers crossed, touch wood, famous last words), nevertheless South Africa is now fully prepared for Easter next week should the power go off.

Loadshedding Eggs 1

Load Shedding Easter Eggs are glow in the dark eggs.  Small torches are included in the box to help you hunt for the eggs in the dark.  It sounds like a fun idea.

However, entertaining as they are, these load shedding eggs have a fatal flaw, a catastrophic flaw in fact.

Continue reading

Which School? An Expat Parenting Dilemma

Parents everywhere want the best education for their children.  However, when you move to a different country every few years, the decisions, trade-offs and problems multiply.IMG_3435

American School? British School? French School? German School? Local School? Home School? Boarding School? Anywhere-that-has-a-place-for-my-child-School? Which school is the right school?

This is a conundrum faced by many expat parents.

There are a whole host of factors to consider and I’m sure I’ll have more to share on this subject in future, but in the first instance I’m including a nifty little table I’ve put together to assist you in working out which grade/class/year equivalent your child may fit into moving from one system to another.  It’s something I would have found useful to have over the the last few years, so I figured it might help a few other people too. Continue reading

Powerless and Powerless

IMG_3387 1
The Blank Screen of Death

Increasing numbers of South Africans have electricity meters at their properties. They are popular with landlords, because it forces the tenant to pay up front, thus avoiding nasty disputes about electricity bills during a tenancy. We didn’t realise our rental property came with one of these delightful pieces of equipment until after we had moved in.

 

“Ja, you just go to Spar and buy a voucher”, the estate agent said vaguely.

 

So after years of Direct Debit convenience where electricity supply was constant in return for the power provider debiting amounts due on a regular basis, we were in a situation where we had a meter on the wall. We checked it regularly to make sure it didn’t run out.   We religiously bought the 20 digit vouchers and on the occasions when the meter frowned and beeped at us with displeasure, ran frantically about the house trying different sockets until we found one that the meter was happy to communicate with.  Then we would get a smiley face and newly topped up balance showing on the screen.

 

However, we now know what happens when the meter gets to zero or malfunctions… Continue reading