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Monday, March 4, 2019

Eating Mopane Worms, Biltong, Pang and Pap at ATKV - Klein Kariba in Bela-Bela, South Africa

Coming Home

While Canada is in the middle of winter’s icy grip, we decided to head south towards the sun and to explore and rediscover our homeland of South Africa. After eighteen years away, not much has changed, yet everything is different. 


Biltong Potjie at ATKV - Klein Kariba.

Township Tour - Bela Bela

Wildlife Safari


Toeka se Dae

Cooking at the Koswerf


Coming to South Africa is coming full circle for the Cowboys. This is where it all started. We were born South African and grew up during some of the more turbulent times in the country's recent history. In 2001 we set out to see the world and broaden our horizons. We are still on that journey, and it is ironic to come home eighteen years later to find it a place very much the same as the one we've left behind, yet very different - good different - in many respects.

The international perspective of South African travel is mainly negative due to news coverage about safety, corruption, and ongoing conflict. It is an out-of-the-way destination with concerns for the traveller. It is why the destination is unfortunately frequently moved to the bottom of the travellers' priority bucket-list.

Mexico is similar in that it offers phenomenal vacations and experiences to travellers and at the same time it is also marred by adverse news reporting related to safety and corruption. The difference is that Mexico succeeded in positioning its travel and tourism products by addressing these concerns. They've done it through all-inclusive packaging, offered to the travel trade, and marketed accordingly. Travellers' concerns are addressed through "white-glove" handling in a controlled manner, from the moment they step off the aeroplane until they are safely back at the airport's departure hall.

South Africa offers as much, if not more, at an equally competitive rate. Wildlife, culture, cuisine, natural beauty, history, human capital and yet, it hasn't even started to fire up its tourism machinery. It lacks packaged products that overcome travellers' concerns and that are competitively positioned and highly rated. If you compare its positioning and messaging to other similarly developing world destinations, it definitely has the opportunity. It is now merely a matter of South Africans grasping it.

The Two Cowboys hope that we can play a small role in promoting this unique destination, its businesses and its people. We will be sharing content about our experiences. With our travel partners, we will be bringing you along for an incredible journey.

This is how our tour of South Africa started at one of the happy places we enjoyed as children, ATKV's - Klein Kariba Resort in Bela-Bela.

ATKV - Klein Kariba

Klein Kariba has a lot to offer as a typical South African family resort. It is a beautiful setting close to the main cities of Gauteng, with great weather, wildlife, beautiful camping, chalets, glamping tents, and hot and cold swimming pools. It has been a must-do family vacation spot for as long as we can remember. The resort continues to be a local favourite. Weekends and holidays are packed with visitors. Some have been patrons for generations.

I know the place well. After frequent trips tenting there during the early 1990s, I eventually wooed and married my wife at Klein Kariba, 26 years ago.

Our favourite spot at the resort, then and it still is now, must be the restaurant, Koswerf. “Koswerf” is the Afrikaans term for an outdoor kitchen or cooking area. This one is unfortunately mainly indoors. However, with the beautiful weather of the Waterberg Region, there is ample opportunity, all over the resort, to partake in cooking outdoors. Wherever you turn, the iconic cultural pastime called "braai" (cooking over an open fire outdoors) happens spontaneously, every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We were fortunate to be hosted by Riaan Maritz and his team. They reluctantly handed us the keys to the pantry, and we kicked off our week cooking up a storm in the Koswerf’s kitchen. On our menu was a Cuban-style Arepa with a South African Peri-Peri Chicken Livers and Mango-Salsa twist. To round it off, we were introduced to the local tropical passionfruit samba sensation of Pang!! (more about this later).

In turn, they reciprocated with a Biltong Potjie (a risotto-like stew made with a lot of cream and cheese, and cooked over an open fire). We lubricated festivities with Caipirinhas as it was our turn to quench the thirsts.

When you visit ATKV - Klein Kariba, the resort has a lot to offer at its facilities. However, it is easy to miss some of the many attractions and other rich offerings of the Bela-Bela area. Klein Kariba sees its responsibility not only to be a destination of choice but to also encourage visitation around the area. That is why Riaan introduced us to M Court Township Tours. They afforded us an eye-opening opportunity to experience some of the curiosities that make up everyday life in a typical township in South Africa. We even tasted the local beer they brew (no license or permit required) and ate mopane worms and pap!

We visited one of the more popular "Padstalle" (roadside shops) called "Toeka se Dae". Here we were treated to freshly baked bread, home-made ginger beer, biltong, and enormous cold and crispy koeksisters.

Do you remember Pang?

What if we told you that we discovered absolute passionfruit gold just outside the gates of ATKV Klein Kariba? Chances are that if you ate anything real passionfruit-related in South Africa or Europe, then Stilhoek Boerdery had something to do with it. They are one of the largest passionfruit producers in South Africa. Nine months in the year they are shipping their products all over the country and some export markets.

It doesn’t stop there, they also bottle the passionfruit pulp with a swig of vodka and call it Pang! The range expanded from there with Mango, Strawberry and even a spicy JalapeƱo, as its popularity grew in the local cocktail consuming market. Klein Kariba is fortunate to offer this locally produced godly elixir at the resort, where it is popular with their younger patrons during the summer holidays ( (legal drinking age, of course!).


After eighteen years away not much has changed, yet everything is different. Klein Kariba still feels like home to us. However, it is apparent that it evolved in that it reached out to play an increasingly important and more inclusive role in the more diverse local communities of Bela-Bela.

After decades, during which people in a changing South Africa treated each other with animosity and suspicion, it is evident that those that are reaching out to each other, are the ones making a positive difference in their community. Klein Kariba is the main attraction, yet it collaborates with local entrepreneurs and businesses across the spectrum to lend a hand and facilitate success for others too. Business is always more natural when people work together. Those that discover it early continues to prosper.

We are enthused to see that our home language - Afrikaans - is treasured by everyone, even more than we remembered. Yet, everyone is welcome if you speak English, Zulu, German, Cantonese or another language. The South African culture of food, friendliness and hospitality is found around every corner, and the beautiful wildlife setting of the resort’s facilities remains absolute and intoxicating.

Klein Kariba is for everyone. We cannot highlight this single feature enough. Yes, the people of South Africa knows it well and loves it. It is such a gem that they will be forgiven to try and keep it to themselves. However, we hope we can entice the world to come and see it too. We are so proud to be home and proud of what we see and experience, that we want to share it with the world.

Enjoy our programming and see what makes this such a great place to visit. Then, book your ticket and see for yourself. Come for the food, the wildlife, the weather. Above all,  meet the great people of Klein Kariba and Bela-Bela. You may just find us here as well.

We are glad to be home, again!

Wandering Cowboy!

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