Category Archives: South Africa

A Backpacker’s Guide to Mzoli’s Meat in Cape Town

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu


Imagine this.

You’re in a scant South African township in the far outskirts of Cape Town. You and a few of your friends go there to attend a braai (bbq) in the middle of the township. Only this braai isn’t your typical braai. There, you eat boxes and bowls full of deliciously grilled and sauced up meat with your bare hands while deep South African house and marimba music jam out in the background to mobs of vibrant dancing and celebrating. The libations and springbok shots are aplenty. The music is pumping. The meat is plentiful. And the guests there are a mix of locals and international tourists from all around the world, together under one large red tent simply having a good time.

It’s called Mzoli’s and it’s happening somewhere special in Cape Town. And after personally experiencing it on a handful of joccasions, I have outlined for you the best guide to experiencing this the proper Mzoli way.

What is Mzoli’s? 

Some pronounce it as em-zoh-leez, fewer as miz-oh-lies, but I, along with most other people pronounce it as miz-oh-leez. 

A man named Mzoli Ngcawuzele began the tradition more than a decade ago in the township of Gugulethu in Cape Town, South Africa. Basically, it’s a South African BBQ (braai), but turned up quite a few notches. Mzoli’s restaurant is all about the people, the rhythmic South African house music, the drinks, and most importantly the “Tshisa Nyama” (braai meat)! It has become so popular throughout the years that international tourists in addition to Capetonian locals began popping up year after year to be a part of this unique experience.

When To Go

First and foremost, plan on going only on a Sunday.That is the day when Mzoli’s is most alive. I went there on a Wednesday once and it was absolutely dead. Sunday is the day to attend, year round. It’s still very possible to go during the day during the week but then you’ll be missing out on the true experience.

Mzoli’s Butchery is open every day from 9am to 6pm. However, the tent stays open later.

I usually get there around noon in order to make sure I have a table ready for my friends and I before it becomes packed with guests. It’s first come, first serve here. I normally leave no later than 6pm. Since you are a tourist in the middle of a township, it’s the safest idea to leave before it gets dark.

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Getting There

Getting to Mzoli’s is simple. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Cape Town.Simply take a taxi or better yet, an Uber. Taxi drivers are used to taking passenger’s there, as well as Ubers. When using the Uber app, Mzoli’s in Gugulethu pops up as a drop-off location on the map. I personally wouldn’t drive myself there. There isn’t anywhere suitable to park. Plus, it can be a tad dangerous leaving your car parked in the middle of a township.

Leaving Mzoli’s is another story. If you have data service, requesting an Uber is simple, but without service, you must simply find a taxi service. Taxis are usually located nearby the premises. Like I mentioned earlier, its best to leave the area well before it gets dark. Another option is to ask your previous taxi or Uber driver to pick you up from there at a certain time. You’d be surprised how willing they are to help.

Cost and Fees

The cost to enter Mzoli’s is 20 Rand (as of 2017).

You pay this fee in the meat shop directly next door to the main tent. The cashier will give you a receipt. Take this receipt to the security guy at the front of the tent entrance and he will stamp your hand for admittance. Now, you are free to come and go in and outside the tent as much as you please. Just show your stamp upon re-entry each time.

Mainly mixed drinks and shooters are served at the two small bars located inside the tent, but it is allowed to bring your own drinks from outside. There is a small bottle shop about three minutes walk just a block or two from the main tent. Ask someone nearby for easy directions (I also provides a map below), but know that they may want to escort you there and then ask for a tip at the end. It’s safe just to go on your own. Just mind your belongings.

I typically go to the bottle shop and buy a couple bottles of red along with packs of beer to save some money.

Now you need some ice to keep your beer or even your wine cold. Next door to the meat butchery is a convenience store. There you can buy bags of ice, along with other snacks and goodies if you wish. Ask for an extra bag to store your ice or even better yet, you can ask for a cardboard box from the aforementioned bottle shop. You may even see some locals on the corner selling cardboard boxes if you wish. It may be worth it in order to store your ice and booze comfortably.

I found the maps on Google pertaining to Mzoli’s to be a tad outdated, so I customized it to make it current:

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1= Actual location of Mzoli’s

2=Convenience store

3=Local bottle shop to pick up cheap booze in bulk. You cannot actually enter the store. Instead, tell the woman inside at the counter what you would like and she will fetch it for you.

 

Note: In between 1 and 2 is another small bar where you could pick up beer and wine which is just a touch more expensive.

Right outside of the Mzoli’s tent is a stand selling modified glass bottles customized into cool drinking chalices. There you can buy a glass for your wine. The prices start at R10 and go slightly up from there.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

Ordering Your Meat

Sorry vegetarians, meat is the only thing served here and it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to grill, if not a little longer depending on how busy it is. I found it more enjoyable to wait a little into the day, maybe around 3pm before going inside the meat shop to order the meat. Try not to forget! Then in about an hour, go back into the kitchen with your ticket to retrieve your bowl of your delicious barbecued meat!

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Take it back to your spot in the tent and chow down! No utensils are necessary. Eat with your hands!

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

You have a variety of meats to choose from: sausages, chicken, steaks, ribs, and lamb fillets. Just point, mix and match if you want, and the butchers will weigh everything on a scale for pricing.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

Once you receive your container of raw meats and sauce…

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…take it to the back of the kitchen and deliver it to the hard-working grill masters. They’ll keep your order separate from the rest and prepare it especially for you. Keep the ticket they give you.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

If you’re really hungry, order a little more than you think because drinking and dancing all day in the tent works up an appetite and there is nowhere else around to get more food. Plus, grilling will shrink the meat a bit. I always managed to order just enough or not quite enough to satisfy my craving. If you order too much, then other patrons you meet will be happy to share. I’m not exact on how much you pay per kilo, but for a box full of meat, we paid R350 to split between four of us hungry dudes and it was the perfect amount.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

More Useful Advice

The area on the patio (the narrow section to the back not covered by the tent) is a great place to bunker down when the weather is nice. There is a small under-utilized bar and a few tables to stand, drink, eat, and mingle with other patrons. Mind the sneaky local kids who sometimes put their grabby hands through the uncovered holes in the gate.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

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–Avoid the man with the drum. My last few visits, there was always a local man walking in the tent carrying a bongo-style drum. He would then go up to groups of patrons, introduce himself, and tell a story about how he helps the community and then urges you to beat his drums. Then at the very end, he drops the bomb and persistently asks for money. I would just politely say “no thanks” right from the beginning. He claims the money would be used for the community, but my gut tells me otherwise.

Mind your belongings. I’ve never felt to be in any danger while at Mzoli’s but pickpockets are a thing there. On one visit, my friend felt a hand reach into his pocket, grabbing his phone. It happened so quickly that he wasn’t able to catch the culprit. However, out of the several times I’ve been, that was the only incident that occurred within my group while I was there.

There is a restroom facility inside the main tent. Don’t expect much. It gets the job done.

–The woman who sold bottles of wine from her home on the corner of Mzoli’s a few years ago is gone. Sad.

Get there early and stay there all day! Mingle with the locals and the tourists alike and have a fantastic time being a part of such a cool South African experience you can only find in Cape Town.

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Mzoli’s is always evolving, so if there is any information I should add on here or modify, please do let me know!


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Get To Know Table Mountain's Vastly Underrated Neighbor, Lion's Head Mountain

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Being a self-proclaimed “Capetonian” pro, I often tell people I meet that the hike up Lion’s Head is much more enjoyable than the routes up Table Mountain. And for many reasons.

Table Mountain is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world and deservingly so.  This 1,085m mountain with a relatively flat summit earned its name from the spillage of clouds that cover the top like a tablecloth. It truly is a world wonder.

But.

Directly neighboring Table Mountain is another smaller, more precious mountain called Lion’s Head which stands at about 669m, much shorter than it’s counterpart. Lion’s Head has a unique spiral shape leading up to the apex of the mountain which resembles the shape of a lion laying down. It took me awhile to see it.

Lion’s Head lives in the shadow of the ever prominent Table Mountain, but I actually prefer it over its more popular neighbor.

Unlike most routes leading up Table Mountain, the singular path spiraling up to Lion’s Head is completely out in the open. You literally circle up with the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town, and Table Mountain always in view. To see the clouds blanketing Table in such a close encounter is simply stunning.

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To get to the base, or the start of the hike, simply take a taxi or a cheaper Uber there. That’s it. It’s impossible to get lost as there is only one route that leads up. No entry fees either. It’s completely free as of this post.

The hike itself is straightforward, but it’s the last twenty minutes or so that I would consider the fun part. You literally have to start using your hands to climb up steady boulders and crevices, along with ladders and chain-links to pull yourself up. You may hear people say that it was difficult, but these are the same tourists who would probably consider botanical gardens and art museums a crazy good time. The joy of climbing overwhelmed any difficulty I may have had. It takes about an hour to reach the top, depending on your pace. Though I guarantee you’ll be stopping a bunch to take photos, which is a must!

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Myself along with a few other backpackers made the climb around 4pm, to give us enough time to relax at the top and enjoy a few beers for the sunset. No, there aren’t any beerstands there. Instead, I filled up a dry bag with ice and cans of South Africa’s best brews and carried it up. Easy as pie. Many people also brought snacks and food to the top. Just make sure you take everything you brought up, back down with you as there are no bins for rubbish,

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While you are up there, every side of the top offers alluring panoramas and magazine-worthy shots. Feel free to explore everywhere!

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You MUST stay for the sunset! 

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But, don’t stay too long, especially without flashlights to guide your way back down. There is an alternate route to bypass all the climbing bits, that leads you back to the spiraling path downward, back to the start of the hike.

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The walk up to Lion’s Head didn’t take nearly as long as it did for Table Mountain, the route is more open, and is much easier on the legs when walking back down as opposed to the many rocky steps on Table. Although Table does have the cable car option.

Also with Table Mountain, sometimes you just never know when there’s an incoming cloud cover to totally block your view from everything. Like this…

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For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

 

 

Get To Know Table Mountain’s Vastly Underrated Neighbor, Lion’s Head Mountain

IMG_9182

Being a self-proclaimed “Capetonian” pro, I often tell people I meet that the hike up Lion’s Head is much more enjoyable than the routes up Table Mountain. And for many reasons.

Table Mountain is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world and deservingly so.  This 1,085m mountain with a relatively flat summit earned its name from the spillage of clouds that cover the top like a tablecloth. It truly is a world wonder.

But.

Directly neighboring Table Mountain is another smaller, more precious mountain called Lion’s Head which stands at about 669m, much shorter than it’s counterpart. Lion’s Head has a unique spiral shape leading up to the apex of the mountain which resembles the shape of a lion laying down. It took me awhile to see it.

Lion’s Head lives in the shadow of the ever prominent Table Mountain, but I actually prefer it over its more popular neighbor.

Unlike most routes leading up Table Mountain, the singular path spiraling up to Lion’s Head is completely out in the open. You literally circle up with the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town, and Table Mountain always in view. To see the clouds blanketing Table in such a close encounter is simply stunning.

IMG_9194.jpg

To get to the base, or the start of the hike, simply take a taxi or a cheaper Uber there. That’s it. It’s impossible to get lost as there is only one route that leads up. No entry fees either. It’s completely free as of this post.

The hike itself is straightforward, but it’s the last twenty minutes or so that I would consider the fun part. You literally have to start using your hands to climb up steady boulders and crevices, along with ladders and chain-links to pull yourself up. You may hear people say that it was difficult, but these are the same tourists who would probably consider botanical gardens and art museums a crazy good time. The joy of climbing overwhelmed any difficulty I may have had. It takes about an hour to reach the top, depending on your pace. Though I guarantee you’ll be stopping a bunch to take photos, which is a must!

IMG_0610.jpg

IMG_0646.jpg

Myself along with a few other backpackers made the climb around 4pm, to give us enough time to relax at the top and enjoy a few beers for the sunset. No, there aren’t any beerstands there. Instead, I filled up a dry bag with ice and cans of South Africa’s best brews and carried it up. Easy as pie. Many people also brought snacks and food to the top. Just make sure you take everything you brought up, back down with you as there are no bins for rubbish,

IMG_9115.jpg

IMG_9113.jpg

While you are up there, every side of the top offers alluring panoramas and magazine-worthy shots. Feel free to explore everywhere!

IMG_9200.jpg

IMG_9120.jpg

 

IMG_9174.jpg

You MUST stay for the sunset! 

IMG_9201.jpg

IMG_0628.jpg

IMG_9197.jpg

But, don’t stay too long, especially without flashlights to guide your way back down. There is an alternate route to bypass all the climbing bits, that leads you back to the spiraling path downward, back to the start of the hike.

IMG_0654.jpg

The walk up to Lion’s Head didn’t take nearly as long as it did for Table Mountain, the route is more open, and is much easier on the legs when walking back down as opposed to the many rocky steps on Table. Although Table does have the cable car option.

Also with Table Mountain, sometimes you just never know when there’s an incoming cloud cover to totally block your view from everything. Like this…

IMG_8701


For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

 

 

All The Reasons Why South Africa Is The Perfect Place To Wine

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Western Cape, South Africa is the Shangri-La of all things wine. The Garden of Eden of wine.  The absolute nirvana of wine ecstasy.

Not to discredit world-renowned wine capitals such as France, Italy, Spain or any others, but everyone already knows how distinguished and prized they are, unlike the hidden gem and severely underrated wine region of Western Cape, specifically in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  South Africa is the underdog in the world of all things wine and now, more and more people are discovering just how impressive it truly is. If you’re a complete wine enthusiast or love wine even just a little bit, treat yourself and get down to Western Cape for a truly pleasurable experience.

Here’s why:

imagesIt’s Scenic Everywhere You Look

South Africa is one of my favorite countries because of how stunning it is. Oceans, mountains, rivers, valleys, lakes, forests, deserts, vineyards–it’s all here in one relatively small pocket of the world. Each winery I visited in Western Cape (I lost count) was complemented by mother nature during her finest.

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Even my Airbnb in Franschhoek was surrounded by acres of beautiful vineyards and mountainous backdrops.

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What did I do to deserve all of this?

imagesMore Accessible Than Ever

Western Cape presents to you more options than ever to get your wine game going strong. Private shuttles, Ubers, cabs, trains, trams, wine buses, bicycles, and even Segways are at your service when it comes to getting around. My favorite option was the trams and wine trains in Franschhoek which normally requires a reservation.

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In many cases, you don’t have to book a tour in advance. On two occasions, we walked right up to a tourist information center in Stellenbosch and enquired about a wine tour to go on there and now. Soon enough, a knowledgeable driver arrived to chauffeur us around. On another occasion, we simply had different Uber’s take us around to the random wineries we chose on our maps. On another occasion, we took a series of Hop-on, Hop-off buses in Franschhoek to a few wineries. Getting around safely and responsibly was never an issue.

imagesThe Unbeatable Pairings

Sure, wines are known to be carefully paired with select cheeses and chocolates, but where else in the world can you have your wine paired with biltong?

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Biltong is basically South Africa’s unique version of beef jerky. Though the biltong here can be made up of some of the most interesting game meats–from springbok to kudu and even ostrich. They all pair quite well with your reds.

Besides the biltong, you have your go-to pairings of favored cheeses, chocolates, sweets, and other nicknacks all available to your liking.

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imagesYou Will Meet Some Fantastic People

Wine tours attract thirsty people from all around the world who enjoy divulging in the finer things in life. In this case, wine. And in my experience, wine people are happy people. You’re bound to meet others who share in your wine commonality. I met a group of frat-like Dutch dudes who joined in on a custom tour and on another occasion, I accompanied a group of beautiful ladies on a special birthday wine tour that they thoroughly enjoyed.

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imagesThere’s No Better Place To Discover Pinotage

Did you know South Africa has their own varietal of red wine they invented? It’s called Pinotage and there is no better place in the world to try it. It’s a red blend: Pinot noir and Hermitage, hence PINO TAGE. Western Cape offers that and every other varietal you can imagine. As a special bonus, South Africa also offers some of the finest selection of Brandy in the world!

 

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imagesIt’s Conveniently Affordable

I’ve been to South Africa a handful of times over the past five years and have been able to go on SO many wine excursions because of how affordable they are. At one of my favorite vendors, Muratie, I even shipped a few bottles back home to Michigan right there on the spot. As of this post, the US dollar is doing well in South Africa, which means more to spend on your favorite Cabernet or Sauvignon blanc.

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I found a tour that shuttled you roundtrip from Cape Town and included six different wineries with five tastings at each winery and lunch included for R800 which translates to about $65 USD. Quality pricing!

imagesThere’s More Than Just Wine

Another thing that’s great about the wine region here is that there is an abundance of other things to do during your wine day. There are tons of exceptional restaurants and bars, shops and cafe’s, malls and theaters. There was even an instance where a friend and I went to a champagne tasting at the House of J.C. LeROUX and then immediately after went to go play with monkeys in a conservation outreach nearby!

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imagesTips To Make The Best of Your Wine Excursion

  • The wineries in Western Cape are open year round but the best time to visit is during the late spring and summer when the weather is ideal. Remember that the summer in South Africa is in the December to February months.
  • Many wineries, especially in Stellenbosch, close earlier on Saturdays for some reason. Some as early as noon! For that reason, Fridays are the most popular days for wine tours.
  • However, there are a couple exceptional outdoor food markets in Stellenbosch that are only open on Saturdays. Root 44 and the Slow Market in Stellenbosch are the two most popular. There they serve lots of fresh and delicious food in addition to great wines. Beginning there on a Saturday morning is never a bad idea!
  • The birthday girl in one of my wine groups got lots of free samples and larger pours when she told our wine hosts it was her birthday. Hint hint 🙂
  • Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are home to an insane amount of different wineries and I have yet been to a bad one. You should have no trouble finding any as they are all relatively in close proximity to each other.
  • Pace yourself. You’ll be surprised just how fast the wine creeps up on you.
  • There are many other wineries outside of the neighboring towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, but these two places have the most wineries by far.
  • There are loads of accommodation in Cape Town that cater to wine tours, along with hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Many companies offer direct pickups and returns.

Happy WINEing 🙂

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First You Play With The Ostrich, Then You Eat The Ostrich!

Along the southern coastal region of South Africa’s Western Cape, lies a stretch of parallel routes originating from Cape Town and bleeding into the Eastern Cape. It’s referred to as the Garden Route–a ridiculously scenic drive encompassing a myriad of activities to partake in along the way including but not limited to whale watching, cave exploration, game drives, surfing, bungee jumping, and a visit to an ostrich farm or two.

I had the pleasure to show two of my friends around the Garden Route, being this was my third time experiencing such a wondrous opportunity. One of the particular highlights I was looking forward to, besides the highest bungee in the world, was introducing them to the peculiar world of ostriches.

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You see, ostriches are absolutely terrifying creatures.

They are bitey and ultra curious birds that can easily wreck your s#1T if you get too close to them. They’re also fast as heck and can kill you with their giant legs if they wanted to.

At the Cango Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world, we had the privilege of being shown around the farm on a private tour, along with everything an ostrich is capable of. They really are bizarre creatures!

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I informed my friends of a thing called an “ostrich massage” that I’ve gotten here before, but I didn’t tell them exactly what it was. They had all sorts of guesses, including a version where they thought an ostrich would give them a back massage by stepping on their backsides. THAT would be the death of us!

But, no. An ostrich massage was much less horrible than being stepped on. Instead, you were simply given a bucket of pellets to hold close to your chest as an ostrich or two or three came and went to town on the pellets from around your neck. It was a kooky experience, but the unpredictable nature of the ostriches showed on all our faces.

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We learned quite a few things about the ostrich bird that day, including how their feathers were used as a form of currency back in the olden South African times. Weird. Also, cannot forget the fact that their abnormally large eggs are strong enough for a human to stand on without them cracking.

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Enough with the play. Time to eat!

On the menu? Ostriches!

Served right here at this very farm.

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing ostrich meat for the first time at this very place a few years ago and it did not disappoint. I implored Veronica and Will to try it as well and they were more than down for it. Even after learning to love the ostrich, we still didn’t mind devouring one!

Take a look at this delicious ostrich-kabob that I ordered.

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If you’ve never eaten ostrich meat before and are wondering how it tastes, know that it resembles and tastes more similar to beef than that of chicken. It’s also lean and full of flavor. The others ordered an ostrich burger and an ostrich steak, both great options as well.

The Cango Ostrich Farm is situated in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape of South Africa. It is one of two main farms along the Garden Route. I do recommend a visit during your Garden Route trip as it doesn’t take up much time and it IS in the ostrich capital of the world after all.


Cango Ostrich Show Farm

Oudtshoorn 6620,
South Africa

+27 44 272 4623


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