Tag Archives: SA Tourism

Akela goes to Indaba!

Akela meets Nicholas Kitching, the ICC's security manager

The fantastic people at Durban’s ICC who made arrangements for Akela to visit were all keen to meet her.

These photos are the highlights of the people she met — the story on Indaba and our travels there will follow.

Most ask if they can touch Akela but only women get lucky — she’s female and only makes friends with women and children, running away from men. (She’s bonded to her pack so hard luck to all other men!)

ICC's Nicolette Elia gets to touch a wolf while ?? only gets to look on.  Most people how soft Akela feels.

Hannelie Slabber is one of SA Tourism's real stars and has been enormously helpful to Travels with Akela.  She meets Kenya (an immediate fan) and Akela for the first time.

Some people dance with wolves... Hannelie and Akela talk to each other.

Melissa Storey of First Car Rental, which have made Travels with Akela possible, also meets Akela in Durban for the first time.

Next stop – Mopani

I’m setting off this morning for Tzaneen, which I’m told is in the Mopani region.  Now I’ve never heard of Mopani before, except for Mopani worms – which some people eat!

I’ve read about the area in quite a few web sites, but none really give me a feeling for the area.  One bit of information did pique my interest and fill me with excited anticipation – Google’s satellite image of the area.

Mopani region

This got me thinking on brands once again.  A brand is not a name and its tagline, nor a visual identity.  A brand is something experienced.

I’m still trying to work out how Limpopo fares in the brand stakes.  I kept thinking how one of its best-known product brands, Marula, is owned by Distell in Stellenbosch.  And Cape Town Tourism is currently busy with a promotion for Marula, where it’s origins are not recognised at all.

The Cape’s West Coast has a culture, cuisine and lifestyle that all add up to the West Coast brand.  The same can be said of the Winelands.

The self-esteem of locals in successful tourism destinations is always far higher than that of locals in lesser tourism destinations.  A successful tourism destination always offers more amenities, better services and hospitality and a memorable environment.

It’s worth remembering how Cape Town changed from the mid 1980s.  Before then, it was one of the world’s best-kept secrets.  It started with the publication of a report by the City Council titled The Greening of Cape Town.  That saw the closure of St George’s Street which was given back to people… as St George’s Mall.  More pedestrianisation followed and the city centre became a place where people came first.

In 1989, work started on the V&A Waterfront.  Many said it would be a six-month wonder and then stagnate.  It didn’t.  Can you imagine people queuing for an hour to get into the Waterfront’s first two pubs – Ferryman’s Tavern and Bertie’s Landing?

One of the aims when the Waterfront started was to make it popular among locals first and foremost.  Because it’s locals who would recommend it to visitors as a must-visit destination.  And those visitors passed that on to their friends back home.

Another factor in the building of Brand Cape Town has been the role of Cape Town Tourism (CTT), which enjoys HUGE support by locals.  CTT do an amazing job at grass roots level; something I am yet to encounter in Limpopo where no-one has had anything good to say about tourism authorities.

So with Tzaneen (and Mopani) barely on my destination brand radar, two things excite me.  Firstly that Google image does promise some spectacular scenery.  Secondly, and as important, Hanneli Slabber at SA Tourism asked Adri Kruger to assist me.  Adri owns Tzaneen Country Lodge and is a mine of knowledge and insight.

So yes, I am filled with anticipation.  Come back to read more…

The adventure begins!

The final preparations for the real Travels, exploring South Africa with a wolf and staffie as companions, have begun.  We’ve been making our last stops in Cape Town. This blog won’t be all about Akela but rather a social commentary – finding and writing about fascinating people and places, and projects that inspire.  Akela is a wolf, not a dog, and most people spot the difference immediately.  She attracts enormous attention wherever she goes, so the trip will have double the interest.

The French School in Cape Town was the last local school we’ll visit for some time.  And what a delightful place it was!  Each school we’ve visited, where kids wanted to know about wolves, has been so different.  The French School really stands out as a happy and very vibrant place.  The kids were delightful!

Christine, the headmistress, sent some stunning photos of the visit and wrote: “Thank you for bringing Akela to the school. I think all the children will remember this moment for a long time. It was a great pleasure to meet you and Akela.”

Akela at the French School in Cape Town

Akela at the French School in Cape Town

We also visited Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism’s CEO. CTT is one of CapeInfo’s marketing partners. As much as it irks some to admit it, Cape Town is South Africa’s strongest city brand globally and the virtual international gateway to SA. And we will be ambassadors for Cape Town and the Western Cape wherever we go.

Mariette du Toit Helmbold and Akela

So the travels begin… as Hanneli Slabber, SA Tourism’s global manager: product, wrote, “Now this does sound like an adventure!