Ever wondered what it would be like to meet your favourite celebrity in the country and have the opportunity to travel with them? By travel, I mean share a table, share an experience with them while marveling at the beauty of your country. That was me earlier in February. I took a ShotLeft with South African Tourism around the Gauteng province and the Free State province with Cassper Nyovest (Refiloe).
Who is Cassper?
- Refiloe Maele Pholo goes by his stage name Cassper Nyovest and hails from the mighty North West Province – Mafikeng. Professionally he is a rapper, song writer, entrepreneur and record producer. He has his own recording label – Family Tree Media. One of his most successful projects among others is his #FillUpTheDome Concert which he launched in 2015. The success of the event pursued him with the affix “Fill Up” from which he started more concerts in different stadiums annually, including Orlando Stadium (2016) and FNB Stadium (2017), also both in Johannesburg, Moses Mabhida Stadium (2018) in Durban, and Royal Bafokeng Stadium (2019) in North West.
#ShotLeft partnered with Cassper to motivate more South Africans to travel and explore more of the country or rather their “backyard” as they say.
ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is home to nine distinctive provinces in total and each has its own characteristics and a variety of activities entrenched within the rich history of that particular place in South Africa. Furthermore, these provinces are also home to at least three languages out of the total official eleven languages spoken in South Africa. I have had the opportunity of living in three of these provinces (Free State, Western Cape and Gauteng) and it is impossible to not feel at home in any of them when I travel. No one province is like the other and this is essentially what makes South Africa so diverse and beautiful. South African Tourism #ShotLeft is on a mission to create a culture of locals travelling and give more people the opportunity to experience the beauty of this country first hand.
Below is my trip itinerary with #ShotLeftWithCassper around Gauteng and the Free State province, from the first day until our last day.
DAY 1: Destination Vaal
We arrived at the River Lodge & Spa where we spent the night. This 4 star lodge is just a 57 minute drive from Johannesburg when taking the N1. The lodge is situated along the banks of the Vaal River and the atmosphere is fresh with little noise to disturb your peace.
Inside the River Lodge and Spa
I personally loved the look and feel of this lodge which gave it such a natural stone feel. The rooms are spacious and the decor makes you feel right at home. I would see myself going back there very soon and any other time if I could and take time out there.
The placement of this lodge, being far out of time and in a serene area, makes it the perfect place too for a corporate event venue. If you are planning an event be sure to consider taking your team out to this amazing area, you will not regret it.
The thought of waking up to such views is enough to take me back to this lodge, I wish we stayed a bit longer.
WHAT TO DO DURING YOUR STAY IN VAAL
- Go for a spa treatment at the River Lodge, the staff are amazing and they give the best massage. We actually had a massage the day we arrived, but you choose to have it any time in the day, but you may need to make a booking.
- Visit the Vaal river and see the beautiful views from the banks of this river and how beautiful it really is. From the lodge the walk to the river bank is about 2-3 minutes, I took advantage of that and went down to take a few photos there.
DAY 2: VAAL ABSEILING & LUNCH BOAT CRUISE
On day 2 we actually got to meet the man himself, Cassper Nyovest. My heart palpitations were on on fire because he is someone I have always admired and to meet him and spend time with him was such a blessing. Him and his crew were really the most sweetest and down to earth celebrity group I have met to date and they are also so much fun to hang with.
- We started with abseiling and if anyone had told me how difficult this activity was, I honestly wouldn’t have told all the boys that I’d climb up to the top (LOL). I honestly struggled and not sure I’d ever try it. But if you are brave enough and love climbing, then go for it! Below is how far I got with this activity, no matter your progress, always have fun![wpvideo Hq6SyOMj]
- Vaal River Lunch Cruise with Liquid Lounge Vaal: This was such a cool way to relax and marvel at beauty of the the Vaal River close up. I really had such a fun time seeing the Vaal and how it really looks like. I remember learning about the Vaal river back in Geography class in high school and being there finally reminded me of all the theory and technicalities that had to know about this river in order to pass. I’d need to revisit those notes again though (it’s been 10 years!)
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The sun ☀️loves my melanin skin👩🏽🦲😊• 📍@liquidloungevaal _ Before my #ShotLeftWithCassper trip I had always been a bit confused on whether the Vaal area was in the Free State or not. I legit always thought this area was part of the Free State. This is because all the boundaries of the Gauteng Province are cadastral, except for the border with the Free State which runs along the Vaal River. _ So it turns out my confusion was not at all off😂. South African geography is is really interesting (pay attention in Geography kids lol 😂). I can’t believe I had to travel to this place to fix that confusion 😅 _ Have you been to the Vaal area? I’d love to hear what your experience was.
Going on a boat cruise was definitely the highlight of my trip. I had never seen the Vaal River so close and personal before. The adventure was both peaceful and the views were incredible.
We had a three course lunch meal which was well prepared and the food is definitely first class. By the time I had to go for dessert, I was already full, but still had a bit of room for ice-cream.
DAY 3: PARYS
We then left the Vaal area in Gauteng province and went to Parys in the Free State. Before this trip, I was always of the opinion that the Vaal was somewhat in the Free State. This is because all the boundaries of the Gauteng province are cadastral except for the border with Free State which runs along the Vaal River. This makes it a bit tricky because the Vaal is the actual border between Free State and Gauteng, so on one side of the Vaal is Gauteng and on the other Free State.
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📍#StreetPhotography in Parys, Free State | #ILoveFreeState 💛 _ I was born and raised in the Free State province and I have lived here almost my entire childhood life. But I’ve never really explored it much 🙈• I’d love to learn more about my home province, go on more adventures, see the wild life and do more fun activities here. _ Which activities/ fun events take place in the Free State throughout the year? I’d love to check them out. #ShotLeft #ShotLeftWithCassper
Staying in Parys reminded me of the old South African Lottery advert where one women said she would live in Parys if she won the lottery and another women replied: “Parys?! What kind of millionaire are you gonna make?” (LOL). However, as small and quiet as it is, with the Vaal River right next to this small town in the Free State, I see why someone would retire here. It is the perfect peaceful and quiet town to relax and take time out in.
Parys is actually the Afrikaans version of “Paris” – so it’s not to say it is as luxurious, but it definitely is a lovely place to visit.
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📍Hidden Grace Guest House, Parys Free State. _ I started my morning with a Mindfulness podcast and learnt that: – Being present is the way – Stay in the moment – Continue to make space in your heart for what you are feeling and simply be 💛😊 _ Cheers 🥂 to a new bright week. May you truly be present in it.
- River Rafting
- We went river rafting for 5 hours. I had never done this activity before and I felt slightly anxious about doing it. Safe to say that I now have experience in river rafting. Just be prepared beforehand by wearing light clothing and wearing sunscreen. Also be careful of swimming because the Vaal River is a bit deep, so wear a life jacket and keep track of your mates by having a roll call whenever, at least every 1km or have two instructors, one behind and one in front the pack to keep track of everyone.
Frame 1: What I imagined 5 hours of river rafting would look like, vs how it actually went down (frame 2).
2. Quad Biking
We also went quad biking too, and this is one of those activities that you don’t want to miss out on when you are in Parys or your next #ShotLeft adventure travel! I won’t lie, I still haven’t mastered the courage to do this on my own, but I do still ride to be part of the experience.
It was really awesome spending time with South African Tourism and Cassper Nyovest while exploring the magic of South Africa and I hope that you can also take time out of your busy schedule to try and explore the beauty of South Africa.
Thank you #ShotLeftWithCassper it was so much fun!
In closing, when in the Vaal/Parys, try to go for the boat cruise, visit the Emerald Casino and do also try river rafting if you love water activities.
Until next time, happy leap year (29th February) I hope it’s a magical one and remember to take a #ShotLeft somewhere in South Africa and see more of this magical country.