In the twenty years of democratic freedom, tourism in South Africa has undergone a dramatic transitition from pockets of international tourists huddled in tour busses being shuttled between iconic attractions to a plethora of independent travelers armed with a road map and a rental car exploring the diverse landscape and culture of this magnificent country.
Interest in South Africa has diversified from the focused wildlife viewing in nature reserves to include bird watching, scenic photography, botanic diversity and cultural profusion found across the length and breadth of the country. No longer are travelers dashing into the Kruger National Park for an intense sojourn snapping a collage of the big five and herds of hebivores before scurrying home. Instead, travellers intieries have been broadened by adventure to discover the vast strechtes of the Karoo with it’s treasure trove of fossils spanning 400 million years. Or to hike the forested coastline of the Garden Route. Or explore the geological wonders of Meiringspoort and Seweweekspoort incised by the ancient inland sea of the Karoo as it flowed through the Swartberg Mountain range to reach the coastal plain of the Garden Route. Currently Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with it’s ecclectic garden features of South African flora compete with and complement the lions, elephants, and rhino’s of the Kruger National Park.
As tavelers have transformed in their appetite for South Africa, so too has the expression of regional celebration proliforated in the country with festivals dedicated to sport, food, crafts, music and wine establishing themselves as highlights on the annual calender. A youthful festival that has been established in the Garden Route in the village of Sedgefield, located between Knysna and Widerness, is The Sedgefeild Slow Festival, that celebrates it’s fifth year over the 2014 Easter weekend. Unique in it’s activities, it has captured a fusion of nature, sport and family values.
While competitive athletes can challenge themselves through pristine nature on the 19km Goukamma Traverse trail run, families can reconnect in the Anything That Floats and Sand Sculpting competitions on the lagoon and beach respectively. Alternative evening entertainment ranges from the popular nightly Drive In movie to dinner and dance events. Animal lovers can make a contribution by joining the Dog Walk and Show to raise funds for the local animal welfare organisation.
Community expression is displayed in the Festival Street Parade, local art and dances displays and busking. The Village Green is the social hub of the Festival with a perfect tranquil sunset setting gazing over the lagoon and coastal dunes and offers local products and crafts, a selection of tasty faire and special craft brews from the renowned Mitchell’s Brewery Beer Garden .
The Slow Festival epitomises the wholistic lifestyle of Africa’s first Citaslow town as it embraces the relaxed lifestyle of the natural surrounds and the sense of community in this mellow coastal village. Organised by a team of dedicated volunteers, the Slow Festival lives up to it’s ethos of unifying community and raising funds for local charities.
So, if you have not yet planned your Easter Weekend, head for Sedgefield and participate in the Slow Festival. Not only will it transform your travels, but it will enrich the lives of those supported by the local charities.