Where in the world?

Where in the world?

Keith Bain asked some South African icons to name their ultimate vacation fix

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The Talent: Christopher Jaftha

‘Think of French-Italian villas, super trendy clubs and posh hotels, and – as far as the eye can see – hundreds of big, expensive yachts spread across the ocean. That’s Monaco: a Mediterranean millionaire’s playground. It is where you expect to see Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) racing his fancy cars through the streets. In fact, every car that you see is a Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini or Aston Martin. There’s just so much money, these things are normal. It’s like a little fairy-tale world – everything’s so neat and pristine and unbelievably clean. They start cleaning the streets at 4 am every single morning.

It’s a great base: drive for 20 minutes and you are in Ventimiglia in Italy and, in the opposite direction, the French coastal cities of Nice and Cannes are also nearby. Monaco’s atmosphere during the Grand Prix is especially electric. It becomes an incredible melting pot with people from around the world mingling, all having a great time. Everyone is treated the same way – there’s an assumption that, if you’re there, you’ve made it in some way.

Nightlife is very cool: the kind of parties you see on FashionTV, with a culture of schmoozing at restaurants, moving from one venue to the next, really living the high life. One thing you must do is see a show at Le Sporting Monte-Carlo, the ultimate entertainment venue – whatever’s playing, you have to go.

Monaco’s beaches are great, too – the shore is pebbly, though, so you have to wear your sandals. Beach culture is quite different from back home, but the vibe is really terrific.’

Christopher Jaftha is an actor, model and TV presenter. He performs in West Side Story, opening at The Mandela at Joburg Theatre on 24 January

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The design maven: Maria McCloy

‘Everyone is so astounded by Lesotho’s beauty – they take a look at the landscape and mountains and they’re, like, “Woah!” It always comes as a surprise, so arrive with an open mind, get rid of your big-city expectations, chat to the locals, crack open a can of Maluti beer, and prepare to chill out… You don’t have to travel far out of Maseru before you start seeing village gorgeousness, tall mountains, and blanketed men on horseback.

Well worth visiting is Thaba Bosiu, which is a large sandstone plateau where King Moshoeshoe founded the Basotho nation. You can get a guided tour to the top and pay Morija Museum a visit afterwards. Stay somewhere you can experience traditional culture and perhaps go on a pony trek. From Semonkong Lodge, there are also amazing walks all the way to the famous Maletsunyane Falls.

What excites me most about Lesotho is the wave of young Basotho creativity, such as you’ll find at Che Mogagane’s monthly market. Lesotho’s blankets and traditional cloth have always figured large in my life and they are a great source of inspiration – I have brogues in my range that feature shweshwe cloth. I quite like the way Thabo Makhetha incorporates Basotho blankets into her ladies’ dresses and jackets, and I have some exquisite shweshwe baseball-shirt-style dresses by Maseru designers Bonono Merchants. In Maseru, look out for graphic designers and textile specialists House of Thethana. They create amazing graphics printed on home decor and bags.

I’m not the only person who’s been so taken by Basotho style; there have been two Louis Vuitton collections influenced by Lesotho’s horsemen and shepherds.’

Maria McCloy creates African-print shoes, clutches, necklaces and wire earrings. They are available from the Sunday market at Maboneng and her stall at Work Shop New Town, both in Joburg.

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The Daredevils: Ryan Sandes and Vanessa Haywood-Sandes

‘In the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Leadville is the highest town in the US. We enjoyed six weeks there while Ryan acclimatised ahead of running the legendary Leadville 100, a 160 km trail race. There are endless trails in the area to hike, run and bike. We suggest hiking up Hope Pass or, if you are feeling more adventurous, up Mount Elbert. Many people camp in the wilderness areas, which are untouched and magnificent; most sites have full ablutions and are free of charge. For cyclists, there’s good riding along the Mineral Belt Trail, exploring abandoned, historical mines. River rafting is popular in summer and a dip in the hot springs in Buena Vista is an absolute must.

Leadville’s close to iconic ski towns such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek, with plenty of freshly powdered slopes in winter. Leadville’s City on a Hill coffee shop is the town’s hub with such a great vibe, plus out-of-this-world coffee. We love Mexican food, so we spent many evenings at The Grill Bar & Cafe – the food is excellent and the margaritas aren’t too shabby either. Looking down at Leadville from Mosquito Pass at sunset is magical, while sunrise on Hope Pass or any of the surrounding peaks is spectacular.’

Vanessa Haywood-Sandes is an actress, model and writer, and Ryan Sandes is a world champion ultra-distance trail runner and the first person ever to win an ultra marathon on every continent.

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 The Joker: Tumi Morake

‘On regular visits to Ghana, I have come to realise what an astonishing destination it is. For a chilled family holiday (my children are seven, four and three), go to Prampram, an undiscovered gem on the eastern outskirts of Accra. It’s a small fishing community with incredible beaches, and you can rent a plush holiday home with your own pool and veranda, a dedicated staff and chef, and a gate leading directly on to a clean, gorgeous, empty beach. Ask your chef to prepare tilapia; you can watch these guys catch your dinner for you and then tuck into the best fish you’ll ever taste.

All along the coast are centuries-old castles, where slaves were interred before being shipped westwards. A guide will show you around, revealing the history – not only of the colonial involvement in slavery, but also how the Ashanti enslaved people from other tribes and sold them to the Dutch.

Ghana’s funerals are gorgeous, grand affairs – huge billboards celebrate the person who has passed away and there is always traditional dancing and singing for entertainment.

Delicious roadside foods are widely available – buy some roasted peanuts with plantain, and look out for grilled bush rat, served as a kebab, very spicy, and utterly mouth-watering. You also can’t leave Ghana without having a shot of akpeteshie, a kind of home-distilled gin. Be careful, though – one is enough for an instant buzz.’

 Tumi Morake won the Edgars Comic of the Year title at the 2016 Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards.

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The Foodie: Benny Masekwameng

‘Australia’s culinary scene is tremendous. Eating out is huge; chefs are doing incredible things, and there’s an abundance of exotic ingredients from Asia. MasterChef Australia judge George Calombaris owns two restaurants in Melbourne. There’s Gazi, which is Greek, and The Press Club just next door, where he offers a private experimental dining experience that’s out of this world. The city also has a fantastic Argentine restaurant – San Telmo – where steaks are cooked on this huge traditional parrilla charcoal grill.

You have to visit the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), an iconic sports stadium where you can watch cricket and Aussie rules football, or tour the National Sports Museum. I’m a huge Formula 1 fan, so the best time to be in Melbourne in 2017 will be 23–26 March, for the Aussie Grand Prix.

In Sydney, I recommend you pay a visit to Mr Wong. I have never in my life seen so many Peking ducks hanging from the ceiling, each one destined to be crispy and delicious. Another worthwhile stop is Victor Churchill, Sydney’s oldest butchery. During my visit they had rib-eye that had been dry-aged for 427 days. I later tasted that steak at Firedoor, a restaurant in Surry Hills – R2 700 for 330g! Pricy, but you really are able to taste the quality.

I love the late-night buzz around the Harbour and Opera House; it keeps going till around 3 am. Bondi Beach is also very cool; I got a tattoo at Bondi Ink and could have happily chilled out there forever.’

Benny Masekwameng is Tsogo Sun’s executive chef and MasterChef SA judge.

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 The Musos: Dominic Peters and David Poole

‘Not being the best surfers in the world makes you search for a location where you can have all the amazing times that an Indian Ocean surf trip can give you, without fearing for your life every time you jump into the sea. When we have free time and money, the Maldives is definitely the place we head out to.

The island archipelago is undeniably stunning, the people are incredibly friendly, and the surf is just perfect for a chilled vacation with family. The water is warm and the waves are mellow. As if you’d need more reason, there is warning from certain quarters that these islands aren’t going to be here forever – the oceans are rising, so the time to visit is now. Aside from surfing among super-friendly locals (very different from Mauritius, where local surfers often swear at you), these islands also provide snorkelling with turtles, deep-sea diving, and incredible beaches where you are free to have a braai right in front of your own private villa. There are few experiences that can compare with floating in the waters of the warm Indian Ocean while snacking on freshly caught tuna ceviche and sipping a cold beer. And, of course, surfing out on the backline during a tropical rainstorm at sunrise will always rank as an epic memory!’

Dominic Peters and David Poole form electronic duo Goldfish; they’re performing at Shimmy Beach Club, Cape Town on various dates throughout December.

Photography: Gallo/GettyImages, Merivale Photography, Courtesy Images

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