The South African beach story

It’s summertime, it’s the festive season, it’s holidays, and the virus is peaking, again, with a new variant that infects faster. But wait, there’s more .. in the interests of public health, the government has closed the beaches in two of the most popular coastal holiday destinations.

The Eastern Cape. This province is one of South Africa’s most corrupt, incompetently run and poorest regions, but also one of the most beautiful. The long beaches are mostly unspoilt and fabulous with warm Indian Ocean water. But because a few pockets here and there are likely to be very crowded, the government decided to close them all rather than monitor the situation and enforce social distancing. This is because our Minister of Police is a really horrible and lazy bully who forms part of a faction that fights the president instead of working with him. We live in hope that he gets the boot one of these days. If it was up to him, the restrictions would be worse, with renewed prohibition and total lockdown..

Ironically, there are a few people who are able to walk on some of the forbidden beaches. The cattle herders of Pondoland. It’s not leisure, it’s work. Their job is to ensure that the wealth of the Pondo people, their cattle, is cared for and returned home every day after their traditional beach walk. Have a look at these stunning photos. Isn’t it ironic that the lowly cattle herder has a privilege not extended to the wealthy holiday-maker?

The Garden Route. Straddling the Eastern and Western Capes, this coastal region is also magnificent. So named because it is always green and lush, it’s one of our most popular holiday destinations. I like it very much and am grateful to have been able to take clients there on many occasions but I prefer going there outside of this time of year. It gets very crowded in December/January, unpleasantly so in my opinion, but that doesn’t deter the many who go there year after year, many of whom have a second home there. One can avoid crowds – there are several small towns and villages, there are forests, there are lakes and lagoons, and there are many beautiful beaches and the warm ocean offering a host of activities.

Oh, wait, not this year – this year all beaches along the Garden Route are closed. This is another of the crazy and lazy demands of the hated Minister, and it’s absurd. There are some very small beaches that might be difficult to control, but the most popular are wide and long, (and in some instances quite difficult to access, therefore never very crowded)!

Yes, there’s plenty of other things to do and places to go in that region but the warm water and the beach activities are a major attraction and for some people the only reason they go there, especially those from Johannesburg where there is no beach, or Cape Town where the ocean is too cold for swimming. The tourism industry has already taken such a knock that it was relying on this festive season to recoup some losses but unfortunately this stupid beach ban has caused many people to cancel their plans.

But all the beaches in Cape Town are open! There isn’t much logic in that because the Covid-19 hotspot is now extended to include Cape Town and surrounding areas. Logic has been absent from quite a few lockdown restrictions since March so this doesn’t come as a surprise.

All these photos are from the Garden Route – Robberg Peninsula, Victoria Bay, Wilderness, Nature’s Valley, and Plettenberg Bay. Only Victoria Bay is small and might not be easy to manage, all the others are either very wide or not very accessible, such as Robberg.

My ‘save my business’ fund has reached 50% of my goal and I am super grateful to see how generous and kind so many people have been. I still need to inch closer to the goal though, so in case you haven’t yet spent all your money on Christmas presents, here is the link. All I am asking of Dear Santa is to remove the spectre of losing all the efforts of my hard work 🙂

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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