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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Stick no bills !

What does the word “graffiti” mean to you?

The deterioration of the urban space? A new form of expression for young people without hope for their future? The hip-hop culture? Or maybe, to you, it remains to be an illegal art?

Let’s start again if you don’t mind?

16-mike believe v2 SS Print

Drawing, writing or engraving on walls have existed for eternity. Roman, Greek and Egyptians have all played this little game a long time ago…
But if we really think that the story has begun with the aerosol spray, then we shorten the history. We would then associate the beginning of this history to the punk years, the hip-hop culture and the 70s…

Graffiti is a cultural effect which began in New York, London, then in Paris and which has now spread to the rest of the world, depending on the influences of different cities, music, activism or propaganda, but also depending on the strong influence of pain in societies. This movement arrived in South Africa at the end of the 80s.

between sky and earth A2

So yes, graffiti may you make you think of gangs and ugly inscriptions in the subway…Unfortunately, the one who holds the aerosol spray can isn’t always the artist! And I know what I’m talking about…

However if we take a new and fresh look at graffiti, now commonly called “Street Art”, so that it won’t be too scary, this new kind of art has found some amazing artists who will definitely leave a very high quality work of art, legal or… illegal!

But it’s not our job to give any names, the history will decide who is good or not, and who is the best.

03-Human rights A1

Nowadays cities such as London, Rio, Bogota, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Berlin, Paris and New York are places where you can go and find a huge number of high quality works of art!
But this Top 10 wouldn’t be complete without Cape Town… The city has more than 3000 works of art listed! Woodstock, Mitchell’s plain, Manenberg, Langa… These districts are very rich with their amazing works of graffiti! It’s probably because the police didn’t dare going to such places…

The creativity of local artists, their talents, the mix of different styles, and the strong message they convey are present today in many cities. Knowing and discovering these elements helps having a different point of view on a city or a society. If you really learn about street art or graffiti in a city, you will truly know its history, its pain, its joy, and its state of mind!

19-the little girl and the pink elephant a1

We, at XO Africa, organize visits to highlight the culture of Cape Town. Thanks to our Street Art tours, you will now be able to discover the heart of the Mother City, her real story, her urbanization and her population. The messages on the walls are symbols of the past. They show everything: values, stories, colors, lifestyle, emotions, freedom….

An experience that begins with the eyes continues with the head and ends with the heart…

02-Mandela blue

But we shouldn’t stop there! Nowadays graffiti is taking a new form. Some of you may think it’s too commercial. As far as I’m concerned it’s more creative and elaborate.
Street Art artists are thinking of new ideas and new projects when they meet people attracted to the urban art (and there is no longer a doubt that people are very attracted to this art), or even better when they meet people interested in their art!

If you want to know more about the Street Art or if you want to join us for an amazing experience through Cape Town and its graffiti, don’t hesitate to call us!

By Sebastien Charrieras

Photos taken by Marco Vanrenterghem – marco@villabelleombre.com

Edito 059 – The Inseparable Couple

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First of all, it’s only a two hours’ drive from Johannesburg.

Two hours to find yourself in this 550 km² volcanic national park where more than 7000 animals can be found… wild animals that is.

The Big Five? Yes, you will find them there. Which is not the case of Malaria that has vanished from these protected lands for a long time now, making the whole area a renowned destination for families.

I think you got it, the Pilanesberg is above all a safari story. Either driving your own vehicle or enjoying a real 4×4 game drive organized by one of the many lodges that have settled in the heart of the park. Or if you feel like something more unusual, how about a hot air balloon safari or even by foot, guided by an experienced ranger?

The Pilanesberg is an “easy” and “accessible to all” park. The maps and tracks are reliable and animals abound. I even happened to come across elephants and giraffes just a few meters from the park gate, absolutely undisturbed by me or the other visitors.

And like Holmes is nothing without Watson, one can say the same about the Pilanesberg and its acolyte, Sun City. This resort that borders the park brings its own extravaganza and touch of madness to the surrounding quietness.

There, one can eat and sleep… But that’s not just it…
Golfing, swimming, sliding, dancing, betting and gambling, relaxing or even getting tired… Sun City is a sparkling bubble that combines perfectly with the Pilanesberg National Park…
A complementary and inseparable couple… just like Danny & Bret, Victoria & David… Mario & Luigi.

Happy reading,

By Sébastien Charrieras

Introducing Pilanesberg

You all know of the Kruger Park in South Africa? The biggest park of the country, well-known for its safaris. Yes, certainly. But what do you know of the Pilanesberg National Park? Nothing? The Pilanesberg is a game reserve which extends more than 572km2 in the North West Province in South Africa, approximately 2 hours journey from Johannesburg.

It still doesn’t ring a bell? Well let me give you one more clue: Do you know Sun City? If yes, you should know that the Pilanesberg borders this amazing entertainment complex and offers many different natural assets!

pilanesberg-12

The Pilanesberg, it’s a stunning landscape. The eroded crater of a long-extinct volcano is the setting of the large animal sanctuary of this National Park. The heart of the crater is surrounded by plains and rockridges that the wind and the water have shaped over the years.

The Pilanesberg itself is the highest peak, from which the whole park got its name.It overlooks Mankwe Dam, a huge lake situated in the middle of the park, surrounded by mountains and wild hills. Near the lake, the scenic view is amazing; mountains, plants and wildlife surround you. You can feel only calm in front of such a landscape. Moreover, the Mankwe Lake is the main place of water wildlife. So if you wander there for a guided safari, for example, you probably won’t be alone!

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The Pilanesberg does not envy its ‘older brother’ the Kruger Park for its diversity of animals and plants. This reserve is home to many different species… elephant, giraffe and both black and white rhino, lion, leopard, eland, kudu, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest, nyala and buffalo. The park is also very rich in birdlife and has a particularly rich flora. Therefore the Pilanesberg National Park is the perfect place to enjoy a safari in South Africa!

Pilanesberg-Salt_lick-002

The Pilanesberg also offers a wide range of luxury lodges, in which you can live a wonderful experience in the African savanna. Whether it’s KwaMaritane Bush lodge, the Black Rhino Game lodge or the Ivory tree Game lodge (or many others), they all offer many activities and services to make your stay unforgettable and most comfortable by paying attention to the slightest details.

You can enjoy a morning safari in the National Park, unless you would prefer relaxing in the swimming pool or enjoying the spa. Whatever your choice, you won’t get tired of the amazing view and you may see many wild animals. So don’t lower your attention!

By Capucine Motte

Escape the city

When you think safari in South Africa the first name which comes to mind is the Kruger Park. That makes sense because is the jewel of the country. However, other parks can be fit for your safari dream. It depends on how much time you have and your plans.

If you plan a short stay, the Pilanesberg Park which is located two hours’ drive from Johannesburg is a great alternative for a safari. In addition, the Pilanesberg is close to the tourist complex Sun City with its many attractions…it’s a perfect combination to enjoy a family holiday.

  • Two days of safari in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and a stay in one of the top lodges.
  • Two days of relaxation and fun with the family for memorable experiences in a setting that would remind you of the scenery of an American blockbuster but built in the heart of the African desert!

itinerary-pilanesbergAt the airport you will be welcomed by a guide and will be helped to collect your rental car before heading to the Pilanesberg Park.

If you have time, you can stop at the Cradle of Humankind, World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which includes 15 archaeological sites containing the origins of humanity.

Safari at Pilanesberg Park and stay at the Black Rhino Game Lodge

The Black Rhino Game Lodge is a hidden treasure set amongst the trees of an old Tamboti forest at the foot of an ancient volcanic crater that today comprises as one of South Africa’s most exciting Big 5 eco-tourism destinations, the greater Pilanesberg National Park. It is from here, accompanied by your personal game ranger, that you will be able explore a 58 000ha malaria free wildlife wonderland and discover the magic of the African bush.

blak rhino game lodge - 1

The luxury suites are very private with patio doors that open out into the bush, and if you look out quietly, you may see the herds of impalas or a lone elephant walking by. The designer bathrooms open out into your own private outdoor shower, which are perfect to cool down in on a hot day.

Sun City, be prepared for fun and entertainment in family

Lush gardens, tropical birds and water features give The Cascades in Sun City its unique and relaxing atmosphere.This sophisticated, elegant hotel is named after the tumbling streams that flow through the surrounding verdant gardens. The Cascades Hotel is centrally situated within close proximity of the Entertainment Centre and the Gary Player Golf Course which houses the health spa.

The pool area, with its tanning island and a small private beach, has a distinctly tropical feel with umbrellas, swaying palms and rocky water features, an area reminiscent of the azure blue of the tranquil Mediterranean. There are 3 bars offering cocktails, a fresh cup of coffee as well as pre dinner drinks. Alfresco dining takes place along the island promenade and delightful gazebo’s offer shaded areas where guests can relax informally and enjoy a delectable meal.

Cascades Hotel pool at night

The Luxury Family Room at The Cascades offers a spectacular view and ample space for the entire family to enjoy. A setting which will certainly amaze both children and adults.

The main attractions of Sun City available for your pleasure are the Valley of Waves, the Waterworld, Adventure Mountain, children’s pools, water skiing, Jet Skis, boats and catamarans. Have fun !

For the typical family day, we recommend our article: “News from Sun City”.

By Stéphane Rossard

Story of an Empire

Uncontrollable megalomaniac? Worshipped tycoon? Unreasonable careerist ? Sol Kerzner, the founder of Sun City, seems to be so when we see the extent and the size of his empire – this empire that he built from almost scratch.

But first, let’s start at beginning.

Sol Kerzner

August 23rd, 1935. Sol Kerzner (his real name is Solomon) is born in a suburb of Johannesburg. He is the youngest child of a family of four children and his parents come from Russia. They are owners of a grocery shop in which they work. Nothing planned such a future for Sol…

Nevertheless, everything begins here. His parents decided to buy a fifty-room hotel near Durban. In 1964, Sol was 29 years old and had a diploma in accounting. Taking advantage of the fact that is parents were away on vacation, Sol sold their hotel and bought a property in ruins in Umhlanga Rocks where he then continues to build the Beverly Hills of South Africa with the support of investors. Some people say that it was the first 5 star hotel in the country. And, with this, Sol created the concept of a Resort: hotel, bar, restaurant and entertainment all in one place. It is a success. The money flows. Sol’s parents forgive him. His career begins.

Sun city

Proud of his first success but not yet satisfied, Sol imagines Sun City. Sun City will offer what is prohibited in a country with racial and moralistic apartheid laws. Therefore, Sol decided to build a hotel complex – the future Sun City – in the independent homeland of Bophuthatswana, where the puritan rules did not apply. Sun City was inaugurated on December 7st, 1979. Luxury hotels, swimming pools, theaters, auditoriums: everything is there and everything is overweening and extravagant. Afrikaners noticed it fast: Sun City echoes Sin City. Entertainment strippers, money games, casinos: Sun City was fast becoming a popular and multiracial destination for leisure where some came to satisfy their most unthinkable desires.

In the 1980s, the most prominent artists were lining up to Sun City: Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Ray Charles – artist then forbidden under apartheid – the Beach Boys, Elton John. Then Sol imagined The Palace of Lost City, an extraordinary architectural replica of The Palace of the Arabian Nights, mixing the wildest styles. It was inaugurated in 1992. This year, Sun City hosts the famous Miss World contest. In short, the last born of the Kerzner family is never short of ideas.

One&Only Cape Town: Grand Opening - Arrivals

However, in 1975, during the construction of Sun City, Sol Kerzner was accused of corruption and decided to leave South Africa and move to London. Thus, as Sol broke away from his native country, he became very ambitious. Among his most famous projects, he bought Paradise Island in 1993 in the Bahamas, a hotel complex, which went bankrupt.

It cost $ 120 million to rebuild, renovate, reinvent and create Atlantis (opened in 1998). Results: 2,900 rooms, a golf course, an aquarium, a Mayan temple (!) including casinos, a water park, spas, nightclubs, etc. Then, the bulimic Tycoon builds a second Atlantis in Dubai, but this time for $ 1.5 billion. Needless to say, this project again proved a great success.

Sol Kerzner& Nelson Madela

Sol never stopped. In 2002, he created a chain of luxury hotels: One & Only. The hotels are scattered around the world and the last one opened in 2009 in Cape Town. Today, Sol is 79 years old and is not retired. We do not count the projects he completed anymore or the fortune he held. But Sol is not just a mogul. Some dramatic events took place along his life: he lost his 42 years old son Butch, in 2006, in a helicopter crash. His son was supposed to take up the torch and to lead the empire of his father. Later, Sol, who suffered a heart attack, is sent to rehabilitation to overcome his alcohol’s addiction.

He was also a friend of Nelson Mandela and would have invested money in the ANC (African National Congress, Mandela’s party), he was knighted by the Queen Elizabeth in 2010, married four times, had five children and six grandchildren. Complex character, tireless and megalomaniac, this is Sol Kerzner, the man who has built a global empire in 50 years and can afford to spend $ 20 million for an inauguration cocktail of one of his latest hotels.

By Sophie Pollet

Welcome to Wonderland

The legend tells that The Palace Hotel was built in honor of the king of an old civilization settled at the heart of this magnificent valley. Set up on the highest place of the plain, it is the symbol of Sun City where the extravagance was excessively pushed. You will never imagine what waits for you in the most luxurious hotel of Sun City…

Palace of the Lost City

Walk to the sound of birds and brooks through the passes of the luxuriant garden lined with sculptures and sprinkled with soothing waterfalls. You will be warmly greeted at the majestic reception where original mosaic and golden furniture offer a spectacular arrival. Enter a world where the impossible has no place.

The ornamental details are perfect, putting the excess in the service of the dream in this 5 star hotel: crystal luster, gigantic sculptured Roman columns, rule of life-size bronze animals. You will feel like you are lost in a temple or in the crossing between the real and imaginary worlds.

Palace of the Lost City

Seven restaurants offering local and international cooking were created to treat your taste buds in a unique style. Have a refreshing break between all the activities on offer. According to the time of day you can take your tea in the mythical Crystal’s Court, or a fruity cocktail at the edge of the huge swimming pool, on the terrace overlooking the valley. At sunset, enjoy a romantic dinner, a moment favored in the Tower of King (70 meters high) with a magnificent view on the kingdom of Sun City.

Sun City African Suite

Regarding the rooms, you will be delighted by the African suite; a smart and spacious family suite, finely decorated with African fabrics. You can relax in the peaceful sauna or the jacuzzi after having tasted a wonderful breakfast on the privatized terrace. These experiences will make you appreciate the high standard of service provided by this luxury hotel.

A real palace of a thousand nights in the African style which was the talk of the town for a long time. No matter the places where you are used to staying, you will not leave The Palace unmoved. It is quite unique and a journey itself!

The palace

By Mélanie Chapellan

News from Sun City

My dearest granny,

Forgive me if I have not written sooner, but I didn’t have time for myself since we’ve been arrived in South Africa. After Cape Town, the Garden Route and the Kruger Park, we settled down yesterday in Sun City. Mum demanded to come here so she wouldn’t have to take care of us anymore. She is sick of being stuck with us all day long, especially Lucas who has just started walking and doesn’t leave her alone for one minute.

Here, it’s like the Club Med but in a Disneyland version. It’s amazing, you’d be stunned!
There are 4 hotels. We are at the Cabanas. I would have loved to be in the Palace of the Lost City, the 5 star hotel but dad said that we were flat broke (yeah right, like I’m gonna beleive that!). Anyway, it seems that it’s better for families here.

So yesterday, on monday, we didn’t do too much, given that we were really tired by the trip. We stayed by the pool. Hugo and I remained in the water all afternoon while dad and mum vegged out on the deckchairs.They left Lucas at the nursery. I mean, the good life !

Sun City activities

This morning, we all went to visit the Kwena Gardens Crocodile Sanctuary. We saw the world’s biggest Nile crocodile in captivity. He’s called Arnold but his nickname is Terminator, like Mr Berger, my math teacher! But he is less terrifying! No, I’m kidding, he still is scarier than my teacher! Then dad, Hugo and me, went for a ride on bumper boats while mum took Lucas to the petting zoo with farm animals and to the birds sanctuary (you know how Lucas is fascinated by birds!).

Sun City activities

After lunch, we went to the valley of the waves. There is a huge swimming-pool with waves where you really can surf, with a white sandy beach and palms! And there is also a pool with a lot of slides. I didn’t take the highest because it’s really scary but I went in the tube called the ‘viper’ with my two friends. Oh ! I didn’t tell you that I made two new South African friends ; Melissa and Alexandra. I get along well with them, it’s cool! The problem is that Hugo kept on clinging onto us because he is unable to make new friends!

This evening, while Dad, mum and Hugo went to the cinema to watch Spiderman 2, I went clubbing with Melissa and Alexandra, at the Kowabonga Club. Well, it’s not a real nightclub, it’s a disco for teenagers (no alcohol don’t worry!), and it is forbidden for people above 18. It was AWESOME! I had a lot of fun and I met a boy who wanted to have a date with me, but I didn’t accept because it will be too sad when we leave.

Tomorrow, it’s our last day. Mum and I planned to go for a segway tour. The segway is a two-wheeled vehicle for one person (I’ll send you a picture of it because it’s too hard to explain).

Sun City activities - Segway

Dad will play golf, Hugo will go to the gaming arcade and Lucas to the nursery. In the afternoon, I’d like to try the water-skiing but I also would like to go back to the Valley of the waves, because Melissa and Alexandra will be there. It’s too hard to choose! There are so many things to do here, it’s just heaven!

Well, I must leave you, dad is moaning because he wants me to switch off the light. I send you a million kisses granny. I miss you.

Your beloved little girl.
Lucie

PS: I took a lot of pictures with the polaroid you gave me for christmas. I’ll send you some of them.

By Muriel Romero

One of us: Mimy Kabongo, Leisure Travel Consultant

mimy-kabongo-31- What is your background?

I’m Congolese from DRC/Kinshasa where I was born and raised. I came to South Africa in 2008 for a month visit but I fell in love with the country and decided to stay and study here. I applied at university where I was accepted to pursue my studies in tourism and management.

2-What do you like the most about your job?

Oooouf! my job is fun because you deal with different client with different personalities but all you want is to put a smile on their faces and give them what they want.

3- Describe XO Africa in three words?

[laugh] I have more than 3 words:
I started at XO in 2011 October for a 6 month internship to complete my degree and from the fisrt day I loved the people and the company. The most important thing that I appreciate at XO is the fact that they open their doors to interns and give them a chance to prove to themselves that the can face the real world.
XO is well reputed and gives opportunities to its staff.
Thanks to XO for that

4- Tell us one of your best travel memories in Southern Africa.

The garden route is one of my favorite part and Kwazulu Natal

5-What is your favorite destination in Southern Africa?

Mozambique is my destination number one I use to call it “Paradise in Africa” White sand, palm trees on the beach and sea food makes it my destination number 1.

6- What are your secret addresses (restaurant, sunset, club…) in Cape Town?

Hmmm I don’t really do clubbing, I’m boring [laugh], but for sunset I would do Signal Hill and for restaurants I got a long list but mostly Salushi in Claremont for their “ seafood stir fry” beluga in green point for the best sushi and fresh sol fish…Pigalle restaurant for seafood as well.