A June 2005 trip
to St. Lucia by Linda Kaye
Quote: Four days in St. Lucia, South Africa – Not nearly long enough
Among the ecotourism attractions is the St. Lucia Estuary and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site. A combination of lake, swamp, forest, grassland, high dune, and marine wilderness offers a wide range of environments. A large contingent of crocodiles and hippos call Lake Lucia home.
The main street through St. Lucia is scattered with bed-and-breakfast lodges and guesthouses, restaurants, and shops, all geared for the tourists.
Our choice for accommodations was Zulani Guest House. From Zulani, we were able to walk to the internet café, restaurants, and even church on Sunday morning.
Fishy Pete’s is a great place to get Mozambique-style shrimp hot off the braai. It is a friendly town, and we were quite at ease in our new surroundings.
A drive to Cape Vital, just 30km from St. Lucia, with its unexpected wildlife sightings was a bonus for us. Swimming and snorkeling in the warm Indian Ocean was a joy. Climbing the dunes was good exercise and provided panoramic views of the ocean and shoreline.
Undoubtedly, the most memorable activity was the time we spend with a wonderful fellow named Sipho, who gave us a tour of his Zulu Village, Khula, and invited us to join him and his family for dinner at his modest village home.
Internet Café: There are two very-well equipped internet cafés in St. Lucia. The charge was R15 (.25) for 30 minutes. The connection is high-speed, and I was able to instant message with family back home, as well as check emails.
Hair Braiding: If you are at all interesting in tying a new hairdo, African style, here is the place. Of the many vendors on the main street, we found one who offered to braid hair for only R80 () and to do it within 1 hour, a formidable task, no doubt. One person of our group who took her up on the offer was not disappointed in the results. The braids can last up to 6 weeks, but even if you only leave them in for a week or so, it is well worth the money.
Throughout South Africa and the surrounding counties, it is recommended that visitors not drive after dark. Plan your schedule so that you arrive at your destination before sunset
Sunrise and Sunset: South Africa does not use Daylight Savings Time. We visited during June and July, which is winter in South Africa, and the days were short. Sunrise was at approximately 7:15am and sunset at 5:30pm. Be sure to consider the shorter days when planning drives in the game reserves, as most close the gates before dark. In the mountains, dusk comes even earlier, usually by 5:15pm. In the summer, however, the sun rises at 4:30am and sets as late as 7:30pm, making for a very long day.
Our hosts, June and Gary Lang, greeted us with a welcome drink and immediately made us feel at home. The guesthouse consists of five beautifully decorated guest rooms that are large and very African. The largest is the Elephant Room (also known as the Honeymoon Suite) with its own Jacuzzi, refrigerator, and television. All rooms have coffee- and tea-making facilities. Our room was unusually spacious, with a king-size bed with warm and decorative covers. A small table with a lighted mirror provided the perfect place for hair and makeup. The bathroom is modern with a large shower. Although we didn’t really need it, the rooms are air-conditioned, but the large ceiling fan was a welcomed sight.
The center of the guesthouse is a lush and well-cared for garden, patio, and pool area. My favorite place was the hanging hammock chair. In the main part of the house were several lounge areas, one with a large television and DVD player. There is a good selection of DVDs available ranging from current movies to wildlife documentaries. We were invited to make ourselves at home and we did. One evening we stopped at the local market (the Spar), picked up microwave popcorn (with extra butter) sodas and other snacks, pulled up couches and chairs for our group, popped in a DVD, and had a great evening.
June, our host, arranged the deep-sea fishing and a culture tour. She knows all the guides and made sure our tours fit nicely into our schedule. She also provided beach chairs, a large portable canopy, snorkeling equipment, and cooler box for our day trip to Cape Vital.
Breakfast was served on the patio most mornings and consisted of juice, coffee, tea, fresh local fruits, and breads for toasting and preserves, plus a choice of eggs with bacon, tomato, and mushrooms. The morning we went deep-sea fishing, June packed a cooler box with drinks and sandwiches for us.
We were invited to braai (cooking over an outdoor fire pit) the catch from our fishing excursion.
All throughout Zulani, we could see June’s creative influence on the newly renovated and redecorated guesthouse with embroidered zebras and elephants on the curtains and exquisite furnishing in the rooms and throughout the lounge areas.
There is a refrigerator/freezer in the main house for the guest use. Parking is secure behind the remote-control gates.
After our 4-day stay, we left Zulani with many memories of this beautiful area and the warm and friendly people we had met. June and Gary will always be remembered for their kindness and hospitality. This is definitely a place to revisit someday.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 1, 2005
Zulani Guest House
75 Flamingo St.
St. Lucia, South Africa
27 (0)35 590 1427
Attraction | "Culture Tour of Khula Village: PART 1"
We were picked up at Zulani in a safari vehicle driven by an interesting young Zulu nicknamed Colgate for the short drive to the Khula Village. We left the vehicle at the front of the village and went on foot into this strange and interesting place. As we walked, Sipho gave us a little history of the Zulu and how the people of today live. Most of the homes in the village were shacks, but there were a few that were quite nice, large brick homes with well-kept yards. Sipho told us that some of these belonged to teachers and other residents who had good jobs.
The residents of Khula Village have electricity, but the system of paying for it is quite unique. They actually buy time, and when that is gone, the lights go out. Most use the electricity for a single light inside their house. We could hear music throughout the village that came from radios connected to car batteries. Very innovative, these Zulu people.
Of course, the nicer brick homes had many lights, both inside and outside. We were happily surprised to learn that there is virtually no crime inside the village. The punishment is harsh and usually results in the entire family being banned from the village, which is an effective deterrent.
As we walked through the village on dirt roads filled with potholes, small children watched. A few of them yelled "the doctors" and ran away. Sipho told us that white doctors visit the children and they think all white people periodically are doctors. Two of the residents approached Sipho and begged us to visit their home. We followed them to two small huts. We were invited inside, where a small fire was burning, and took our place on mats on the floor. The men in our group were offered short crude benches. Sipho explained later that Zulu men always sit higher than the women.
After a few minutes, we walked a few steps to another hut. Inside were handcrafted items that our host proudly showed off. There were beaded items, hand-carved bowls, and weaving. We couldn’t resist and purchased items, which made these two gentle women happy. We said goodbye and continued our walk.
There were barefoot children everywhere, anxious to wave at these strangers in their village. None of them asked for money or candy, which is quite common in town. They were simply curious and wanted us to acknowledge them by waving back, which we happily obliged.
St. Lucia, South Africa
Attraction | "Culture Tour of Khula Village: PART 2"
We visited a home where the women were weaving grass mats. A few of us tried the weaving and hopefully didn’t mess it up too badly. I noticed that as we left, Sipho gave the women a few coins. He told us that on his tours, he visits different homes and gives a portion of the tour charge to them. He keeps a portion for himself, and the rest goes to the village for improvements.
We walked past two schools and a church under construction, and visited a chicken hatchery. We were able to see the day-to-day life of the inhabitants of this village, who are also called the people of heaven. Probably the most famous Zulu was Shaka, a warrior chief known for his bravery and strength who ruled between 1816 and 1828.
Just at dark, we reached our final stop and were happily surprised to learn it was Sipho’s home. It was a modest home, and this is where we were having dinner. Siphon’s wife had apparently been cooking all day, and everything was ready for us. We learned that Sipho has six children of his own and has adopted 16 more.
A low table was covered with vegetable dishes, including yellow squash, beans, sweet potatoes, carrot salad, and potato salad, along with chicken and beef dishes. We sat on couches and enjoyed this feast. Everything was delicious. Colgate, our driver, who says he never turns down a chance for a good meal, joined us.
But wait, the tour was not over. As we finished eating, we could hear drum music. Sipho told us that the "children" were ready for us and invited us outside. Colgate positioned the vehicle so that the headlight spotlighted an area in front of the house.
Sipho’s older children were putting on a show for us. It is their way of helping this huge family. Several were dressed in traditional Zulu attire; several others provided the music. For the next 10 minutes, we were treated to traditional Zulu dancing by a group of enthusiastic performers.
We hated to see this night end. The gentleness and resilient character of these people stole our hearts. Sipho’s tour had accomplished its mission: it provided small amounts of funds to several families that night, taught his children that they must earn the little amount of money they collected after their performance, provided funds for his village in general, and most importantly, gave us a chance to participate.
Never before had we experienced a beach launch. It was so exciting. We curiously watched our captain pushed the boat with the pickup through the sand and into the water.
Removing our shoes and rolling up our pant legs, we jumped into the boat and were instructed to sit on the deck, bracing ourselves against each other and facing the back of the boat. Hold on was the captain’s command.
He then started full speed through the high and powerful waves, cutting through each one. Bounce after bounce, we finally got through the breakwater and were in relatively calm water.
We could then get off the deck and onto the seats. Sebert let out three fishing lines and we started moving down the coast. The first strike hit after a few minutes, a nice, small tuna. Then in turn, we each got to reel in a fish. They really weren’t biting much, and as hard as the captain tried to get us in the right spot, the fish were not cooperating.
At one point, we had a relatively big one on a hook and were reeling it in when a dolphin decided that our catch was his lunch. We enjoyed seeing snook swimming close by us, but they just weren’t hungry.
Then it was time to return to the beach, the captain again asked us to take our positions on the deck of the boat. When he got into position, again the command of hold on came as we cut through the waves at full speed and right up onto to the beach. The beach landing (for me, at least) was more fun than the fishing. With swells in excess of 6 feet, the ride across the breakwater, both in and out, felt more like a rollercoaster ride.
While we enjoyed a brief walk in the sand, Sebert cleaned our catch and hitched the boat up to his bakkie for the return trip to Zulani Guest House. That evening, under African skies, we enjoyed grilled tuna on the braai.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 1, 2005
Throughout St. Lucia
St. Lucia, Africa
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