Happy 2018 everyone! We decided to poll the girls in the office on their goals, dreams and aspirations for 2018. Some reckon New Year’s resolutions are SO 2017, others have some clear ideas….

Monade – Explore and travel more

A passport has approximately 26 blank pages and is valid for 10 years. In my previous passport (that expired about 2 months ago) only 2 of the 26 pages were stamped as I lived in the Netherlands for 1 year and spent almost half a day in Namibia. At the start of each year I challenge myself to travel more, not only internationally but locally as well. This year I will follow through and not waste another 26 pages. “If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet”. Let the money saving start and the travelling begin. Bucket list destinations for the year includes: Botswana, Zimbabwe (Vic Falls), Zambia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore & Malaysia.

Bianca – I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions and my real name is last-minute-dot-com

People love micro managing their lives to the last T. What are we going to eat tonight? What am I going to wear to that work thing tomorrow? I wish my hips were smaller – no more carbs starting Monday… yeah right. Not me, the word resolution means “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. Today I might decide to not eat chocolates anymore, but I most certainly will not abandon my sweet friends for an entire year. I want to travel the world, but I’ll only start planning the trip a week before. I might not believe in New Years resolutions but maybe I’ll start a new trend of New week resolutions.

Lauren – In past years, when it came to new year’s resolution, getting into shape and getting out debt was the trend for many people.  This year, I’d like to take a different route.

  1. To become more confident and take some chances: If you are confident other people notice it, and it is much easier to have your opinions heard, ask people out on dates and get ahead at work among other things. I think that caring too much about what other people think keeps me back a bit and I aim to change this in 2018.
  2. Another new year’s resolution I’d like to take up is writing. I used to love writing and it was something I did all the time when I was a teenager, but this year I think I’d like to start again as it is a great stress reliever and a great way to express yourself not just emotionally but artistically as well.

Khunji – This year I will wake up every morning:

  • Be awesome,
  • Work very hard
  • Live life colorfully,
  • Choose happiness every day,
  • Chase adventure and do what I love 😊
  • And lastly stay out of debt!

Imogen – be healthier, travel more, hang out with my dogs more…

 Yandisa-think and dream big!

  • Learn to believe and stand up for myself
  • Overcome fear and dream big

Q&A with Imogen McCormick-Matthews

What is your role at PG Tops?


What do you enjoy most about your job?

Assisting people from around the world in putting together a once-in-a-life time trip to our beautiful country; it is very special. Being a part of big life events such as engagements, honeymoons, birthdays and reunions is amazing!

What makes PG Tops unique?

PG Tops offers a completely customised and personal service to clients.

What is your favorite PG Tops tour and why?

I used to work as a field guide in the Eastern Cape and as much as I love the city, the bush will always be a special place, so a safari is always my favourite.

What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

South Africa is so diverse and each area offers something so different to the next, so it’s hard to pick just one. However, having said that Cape Town offers pretty much everything so if you only have a short amount of time in South Africa, a trip to the Mother City is a must.

What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?


Bora Bora


If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

My mom. My parents live in the UK and even though I normally see them about twice a year, an extra dinner (preferably cooked by my mom) would always be nice.

What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

I have so much respect for women who guide. It’s a role that’s male-dominated and sometimes presents challenges from lifting heavy bags, changing tyres and convincing guests you can drive the big vehicle in front of them.

What is the best career advice you have been given?

Never give up. If someone says you can’t do something, prove them wrong and pursue your dreams.

What is your favourite motivational quote?

“Life is a journey and only you hold the map.”

If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?




My two dogs!

Q&A with Danielle Janse van Rensburg


What is your role at PG Tops?

Tour facilitator.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My dual role of consultant and tour guide. I never get sick of one job because I have the best of both worlds.

What makes PG Tops unique?

Obi, our friendly PG Tops mascot (Pieter’s Labrador) and reason to smile when stuck in the office all day.

What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

Winelands, because it’s a stunning area, filled with lots of hidden gems, nature, hikes, local markets, amazing wine and delicious food. All my favourite things.

What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

Sodwana Bay.

What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

Fiji, India and all of South America.

If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Amelia Earhart.

What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

Bianca Smith – she is a rockstar consultant!

What is the best career advice you have been given?

The best service you can give starts with listening.

Who is your role model and why?

My mother – she’s been through thick and thin and still rocks out every day with a smile.

What is your favourite motivational quote?

“Just keep swimming” – Dory

If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

Toothbrush and four pairs of clean underwear. 😊

Q&A with Bianca Smith

1. What is your role at PG Tops?

Overseeing staff, handling HR, banking and consulting.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Creating/ building new and exciting itineraries for clients.

3. What makes PG Tops unique?

The flexibility of our tours, our guides and the speed of replying upon consultation.

4. What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

Peninsula! There’s just so much to see and the best part is driving around at Cape Point looking for animals.

5. What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

Narina Lodge, Kruger.

6. What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • Mozambique

7. If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Kate Hudson – I often hear that I look like her.

8. What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

All my lovely lady colleagues in the office – Imogen, Monade, Danielle & Lauren.

9. What is the best career advice you have been given?

Under promise and over deliver.

10. What is your favourite motivational quote?

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

11. If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

Underwear, mascara, phone, charger and wallet.

Q&A with Lauren-Lee Isaacs

1. What is your role at PG Tops?

My main role is called Control Tower and it basically means that I’m in charge of the schedule and making sure that all the bookings display the correct information. I make sure that each client has a guide and a vehicle allocated to it. I am also a consultant.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people I work with; there is not a day that goes by that we don’t have a good laugh. Also, the educationals (experiencing the places we send clients first hand). But my job is very challenging (which I like) and it’s very rewarding when a client gives you a good review because then you know you’ve delivered a great service.

3. What makes PG Tops unique?

Well, I don’t think there is anything specific that makes us unique as there are so many places out there that do what we do. I think the difference though is that we do it better.

4. What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

The Cape Canopy Tour. I’d do it again and again and again because it’s just so much fun and I kind of think it’s a good stress reliever. I also love Hermanus and the drive going there. I feel like it’s our own little Hamptons.

5. What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

If I could choose to go anywhere in South Africa, it would have to be Grootbos, Gansbaai, we were recently treated to an overnight educational and it was amazing.

6. What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

Turkey, Cuba and Chile. Turkey for the Turkish Delight, Cuba for the Cuban Cigars and Chile for the Chinchorro mummies.

7. If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Ellen Degeneres. I think she’s hilarious but is also a great ambassador for women all over the world.

8. What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

It would have to be one of my tourism lecturers, Lesley Badenhorst. She played a very important role in getting me to where I am today.

9. What is the best career advice you have been given?

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you’ve already done.

10. Who is your role model and why?

My role model is not a woman but my father.

11. What is your favourite motivational quote?

‘’I believe in pink; I believe that laughter is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything else is going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another and day and I believe in miracles.’’ (Audrey Hepburn)

12. If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

If I were going on an island vacation, I would take a good book, iPod, a camera, sunglasses, flip-flops and suntan lotion.

Q&A with Monade van Eeden

1. What is your role at PG Tops?

PG Tops reservations team leader & consultant.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working with my awesome colleagues.

3. What makes PG Tops unique

Thinking out of the box when consulting and having an awesome boss like Pieter.

4. What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

Cape Peninsula tour as it covers such a large area of our beautiful city.

5. What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?


6. What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

Vietnam, Bali & Greece.

7. If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Jennifer Aniston. I would like to know what hair products she uses. 😊

8. What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

My sister, Eunice, and all my fellow colleagues. Girl power!

9. What is the best career advice you have been given?

If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat, just get on!

10. Who is your role model and why?

My dad. He always gives the best advice – even if I don’t want to hear it.

11. What is your favourite motivational quote?

Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace.

12. If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

Sunglasses, a Deon Meyer book, wet wipes, credit card and passport.

Springfontein Eats: Gourmet Dining in Great White Shark country

Springfontein Eats

A number of years ago, a good friend of mine suggested I shift my business into the realm of high end clientele and “gourmet” experiences.

Being a card carrying philistine who regularly spoils my housemate (the Gentleman)’s sterling culinary efforts by liberally applying too much Tobasco, I have never quite felt that that was really what we do…

But then, unbeknownst to me, a few key factors conspired to change the way I deal with, look at and appreciate food:

  1. I grew up. Made some new friends. Kept the old ones, and I still prefer a good old braai on my porch any day of the week – but that’s because my porch is awesome. However, a lot my current mates seriously enjoy the finer side of life and food, and I couldn’t help but be influenced.
  2. My business grew up.  While the core philosophy has always been “welcome to my life” and sharing the amazing stories we have to tell here in Cape Town, after a while I realized Swedish 20-year old backpackers might be fun to look at, but they don’t necessarily help pay for my puppy’s lunch money or my expensive collection of wine. As the clients changed, the place we take them to changed, and now La Colombe, Test Kitchen, Babylonstoren, Reubens et al are all regulars on our recommendation list..
  3. Cape Town grew up. From a city famous for its laid back citizens, beautiful beaches and mountains and cultural diversity and wind and wines and vineyards – a new element has crept in during the course of our re-integration into the world post-apartheid. The city – and the region – has become a culinary hotspot:  Attracting not only food lovers with a nose for a good deal, but commensurately, food lovers with a passion for cooking and living in a place that is arguably THE most vibrantly growing environment in the world.

Cut to present day. My friend, foodie and non-ginger (he argues he has a chesnut beard) Tudor Caradoc-Davis asked me to assist with transfers for a media lunch at a new venue in Stanford. And come check it out, while I’m at it.

Stanford? Really?

This small, sleepy coastal town past Hermanus in the Overberg region is admittedly charming, but in my experience mostly merited a howzit on a driveby on the way to taking my clients Shark Cage Diving in adjacent Gansbaai (

But Tudor caught my attention with some snippets of the inspiring story behind Springfontein wine estate – and I decided to hop along for a free lunch.

The drive from Cape Town is about 2 hours, and can be enjoyed going through the picturesque Elgin and Overberg region, or along Clarence Drive hugging the False Bay coast. We do this drive all the time taking small groups to Marine Dynamics for their whale watching or Great White Shark experience. In this instance, I was essentially a guest, so I got to sit back and shoot the breeze with the interesting other passengers, comprising a few journalists, online folks and various interesting and interested parties.

Our destination? Drive through the town of Stanford, keep on going on a dirt road for a couple of kilometres and you come to the farm of Springfontein.

There is no gate. I would later learn that Jurgen took a sledgehammer to it. This place will be OPEN!

The estate has a charming and unpretentious feel to it, although it is clearly well run and they are in the process of upgrading it even further. I was struck by my immediate sense that this is a WORKING estate, as opposed to a showpiece winery that is just the pet project for some rich investor.

Continue to the restaurant, where we were greeted by too many smiling faces to count. Everyone from the proprietor (charming and gracious host Jennifer Packard Weber) to the winemaker (gentle but passionate Tariro Masayiti ), his gorgeous partner Hildegard Witbooi and most significantly the chef couple Jurgen and Susanne Schneider made us feel immediately at home.

I need to address two separate elements at this point: The Dream and the Food.

THE DREAM: Spend the latter years of your productive working life on a labour of love – a winery in Africa. Choose a region that is exploding with potential for its fantastic white cultivars,Pinot Noir and Pinotage. Buy a property that has huge potential but little current infrastructure, and proceed with the business of creating amazing wines through careful cultivation, meticulous planning and hiring the very best and brightest to assist. Collaborate with a couple team that share the same dream, and proceed to convince them to leave a secure (but ultimately unfulfilling) life in Germany owning and running a five-star Michelin Restaurant – because you’re going to just do it all over again, in the place that will allow you to live the life you’ve always wanted to live, develop people to their amazing potential, and work with new and exciting ingredients, flavours and recipes.

Hats off to Jurgen and Susanna for making this leap, and to Jennifer and her husband Johst (not present, but he’s the money – therefore equally important as the one bankrolling things!) They have joined hordes of European expatriates that have, wisely, realized that the Western Cape is the ideal place to live, love and play.

The interesting Segway to this story is that my friend Tudor used to be a professional rugby player in Germany. This quite uncommon reference is why he ended up in a region with the “last star from Moscow” ie Jurgens restaurant – where he not only played fullback for the local team, but competed for the title of champion dishwasher with a little old Romanian lady for his nighttime gig. He admits she beat him hands down in efficiency and workrate. Jurgen tells the funny story where he went to his wife to tell her that they were going to have a problem with their dishes that night, as the newspaper reports their dishwasher had been seriously injured in the weekend game.

Now, 15 years down the line and many investigatory visits later… they have built, sweated and laboured day and night for the last few months to open Springfontein Eats, sure to become the new hotspot for culinary awesomeness.


And so to the food part.

Our six course lunch was wonderfully paired with their delicious wines. Tariro Masayiti is a huge man, and interestingly, one of the very few black winemakers I have met. His inspiring story brought him to South Africa from his native Zimbabwe, where he has carved out a reputation for his winemaking skill first at Nederburg, and now set to take the market by storm with the Springfontein range.

Before sitting down to eat, Jurgen first presented us a with a tray full of herbs from the estate. His favourite thing is foraging for interesting herbs and flavours on their estate, which he then experimentally couples with the different gourmet cousine choices that he will present on the day – therefore every dish has some kind of local flavour right there from the estate- even the desert!

I liked all of it. It was indicative of the quality that the foodie group round the table was scooping up every morsel – and the flavours were beautiful. It is, however, above my pay grade to explain to you exactly what each course was – google Springfontein Eats for the foodie blogs sure to pop up soon, and they’ll go more into the detail.

What I can tell you, is that the one thing that absolutely fascinated us was the veal accompaniement Mushroom pate – but that description doesn’t even do it justice. It looks like a slice of blood sausage, tastes like heaven and transforms the veal from great to awesome.

The finished off the meal with a lovely lemony desert, and a wonderful selection of pastries with some seriously good coffee.

The best way I can describe the experience is listening to the Philharmonic. Without understanding the technicality that goes into producing this awesome sound, if done well and under the right direction, you are swept along by the technical symbiosis, the individual brilliance but above all the tangible passion that is the mark of a great team.

We left happy, sated and slightly tipsy. I can highly recommend the experience.

They do lunches and dinners, and courses range from 2,3 and 6 course options.

You can contact Springfontein Eats by calling Tel: 0027 (0)28 341 0651, go to the website or email them on

Or email us on to arrange the day out for you, for foreign guests it would particularly work with a Shark Cage Diving or Whale Watching experience in Gansbaai (

Leaders in South Africa – circa 2007


Answering the question of leadership in South Africa is an interesting task, and one I would gladly undertake. The potential scope to this task is monumental as South Africa has produced many incredible people in its rich history, but to simplify to a global audience it is necessary to divide the South African history into four main parts:

PRE-1652: Pre-colonization
1652-1910: Colonization and imperialism
1910 – 1994: Segregation, white dictatorship and APARTHEID
1994 – present day: Democracy

The leaders that can be mentioned are numerous, from the Zulu King Shaka Zulu to the leader of the first Dutch colony Jan van Riebeeck, the spokesman for peace Bishop Desmond Tutu to the last great dictator P.W. Botha, the captain of the National Rugby Team the Springboks Francois Pienaar who won us the World Cup, to the man who did the first heart transplant, Chris Barnard.

I will limit my dissertation to the following 3 highly Influential Leaders. The first two have been bridges from near civil war to democracy, the third is a role model for young people in the new South Africa…

Political-social: Nelson Mandela, former terrorist leader of the African National Congress, a prisoner for 27 years and the first black South African President.

Business-social: Raymond Ackerman, founder of the Pick ´n Pay retail group, a white Jewish Businessman who believed and fostered inclusive systems and the importance of social responsibility long before it became fashionable.

Business-social: Mark Shuttleworth, 30-something internet billionaire, engineer for social change, venture capitalist and the first African in Space.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned by the white Apartheid Government of South Africa in 1963 for what was to be a period of 27 years. At the time he was one the leaders of the African National Congress, a black political organization who was fighting for civil liberties for the black majority in South Africa and was subsequently banned. A period of civil strife, sanctions and economic duress ensued with white and black South Africans living in segregation, a state of near civil war, rampant terrorism and cruel and violent surpression of black terrorist activity by the militant white government.

International pressure, coupled with a changing in the thinking of the white leadership and an untenable domestic situation led to a reformed National Party government under the leadership of F.W. de Klerk releasing Mandela from prison in 1990.

He could have emerged bitter and vengeful, eager to get back at his surpressors. Instead, he preached a system of inclusivity for white and black Africans alike, a new economic and social order of peace and democracy that would see all South Africans prosper. A model of renewal that would put South Africa firmly at the forefront of world affairs, a leader in Africa and a beacon of hope that would be a role model for others.

Under his leadership, this came to pass. He was duly elected President of South Africa in 1994. He did not accept this leadership sooner, as it was necessary to build the foundations to a new South Africa, including a ironclad constitution, a democratic system that was best of breed with an inclusive Parliament, Regional and National Government and a business environment that would foster growth.

Even more remarkable, he had earmarked a successor in Thabo Mbeki that would, in 1999, take on the mantel of national leadership and admirably fill the shoes of this legendary and almost mythical figure. Mbeki would bring South Africa to the next step of economic and social welfare with one of the strongest growth rates in the world, and sustainable social and economic programmes to ensure that it would remain an inclusive and internationally attractive country.

He is admirable for:

His capacity for forgiveness
His ability to inspire through the integrity of his character and the strength of his convictions
His complete lack of ego, and the resultant sustainability of his achievements through others

Raymond Ackerman

The Chairman of national grocery store Pick ´n Pay, he was fired by the then market leader Checkers in 1966, an action spawned by jealousy from his bosses at his success and often described as “The Single Greatest Mistake in South African Business – Ever.”

He proceeded to open a rival chain called Pick ´n Pay, and from humble beginnings this eventually grew into a market leader, built on fundamental principles he calls “The Four Legs of the Table”. Ackerman, and the whole of his thriving business, believes in and stresses the importance of Administration, Merchandise, Promotions / Social responsibility and People – with the sovereign consumer on top of the table.

His belief in Social Responsibility, specifically, has spurred him to implement social wellness programmes, educational benefits to staff, huge charity drives and numerous other initiatives that has firmly fixed Pick ´n Pay in the mind of the consumer as a company that cares about – and fights for- them. The public has resonded by supporting Pick ´n Pay to the degree that today is has long since eclipsed its old competitors and in reality now only face the Shoprite group in the retailer battlefield.

He is admirable for:

Doing what´s right on a social level long before it became fashion.
Formulating his guiding principles and sticking to them, and successfully transferring them to a massive organization as foundational principles to success.
Being a role model to other business leaders to what the modern South African can achieve through good corporate citizenship in helping change the landscape of our country.

Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth is of my generation, being born in 1973 in South Africa, a white South African. He sold his internet software company Thawte Consulting to US-based Verisign in 1999 for a reported $300 milllion, making him South Africa´s first internet billionaire (in Rand terms) and making him an immediately celebrity. Instead of just enjoying his windfall for the next few years, he proceeded to do the following:

He gave all of his 17 employees – including his gardener- a cool million dollars each to say thanks for their part in the success of his business
He immediately created several businesses, but most noteworthy would be HBD venture Capital (“Here be Dragons”) – to foster and support new technology businesses in South Africa.
On a social level, he initiated the Shuttleworth Foundation which runs the Hip2b² (hip to be square) campaign, a national campaign which encourages young South Africans to study Science and Maths as a key to eventual economic and social success.
He has broken several social taboos as one the most prominent young white South Africans, including dating a prominent black South African celebrity.
Currently, he is based in London and is spearheading the Ubuntu Project, an incursion on the territory of all-powerful Microsoft by developing free desktop software that can be readily available all over the world.

He entered the international consciousness, however, by using some of his vast fortune to buy a ticket to space in 2002. After seven months of intense testing and training, he launched with the crew of Soyuz TM-34 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and docked with the International Space Station two days later. This event was the culmination of a lifelong dream and received wide international press for being “the first African in Space”.

He is admirable for:
His belief that there are no boundaries, whatever the mind of man can conceive it can achieve
· His generosity
His success as an entrepreneur, and his admirable use of capital gained in his pursuits to foster social upliftment and education
His willingness not only to spend on social initiatives but also to be gratuitous even under significant criticism (the exorbitant cost of the space mission cost him some friends – but hey, I just think it´s jealousy…).


All three leaders had very different paths.
Mandela´s power came from character and integrity, and the ability to convince others of the validity of his convictions.
Ackerman brought a work and principle-centred ethic to his life and business, and is a role model for all South Africans in building a sustainable business that benefits the greater community.
Shuttleworth has firmly established that no young South African needs to see any limits for themselves in the new global community, but that your successes should not be used just for personal gain but also to the benefit of others.

Through integrity of character, hard work and self-belief or our leaders, South Africa will continue to build a new economic and social miracle, and truly become a Rainbow Nation…

South Africa grows to 51.7-million!

Noun: Census – (sensus)

  1. A periodic count of the population

Statistics, statistics…we don’t like it but there must be some individuals as there are faculties dedicated to future statisticians!

Thanks to Statistics South Africa, Awesome South Africa and and good ‘ol Google for some of the following information.

The last census before 2011 was done in 2001! As you experienced counting an entire country’s people from 10 years ago was going to need a lot of man (and woman) power. A year later with 156 000 field workers, 1 228 computers, 25 million census questionnaires (in 8 languages) and over 13.5 million houses visited they have established that we have 51.7 million people!

The average age of our citizens is 25 years old. There is an estimation of 26 581 769 females and 25 188 791 males. This I think can become problematic, so if you have a partner, stick to them as there is 1 392 978 more females than males. There is also a figure that shows more men died of unnatural causes…just saying…

We have 9 Provinces here in South Africa each a different size and with its own speciality! Our Provinces with their estimated population figures are below:

Western Cape – 5.8   million
Eastern Cape – 6.5   million
Northern Cape – 1.1   million
Free State – 2.7   million
Kwa-Zulu Natal – 10.2 million
North West – 3.5   million
Gauteng – 12.2 million
Mapumalanga – 4.0   million
Limpopo – 5.4   million

Now this is quite a substantial amount of people here and we all need to eat at some point…

73% of South Africans make use of electricity as main cooking source which is a 47.5% increase since 1996! The other cooking methods include Gas (3.5%), Paraffin (8.5), Wood (braai inclusive at 12.5%), Coal (0.7%), Solar (0.2%) and Other methods at 0.7%.

This is a bit of information to process and talking about food and cooking and being a Friday, let’s see if we can do a proper Chisa Nyama!

Till next time!

South African Coat of Arms

We all see the Coat of Arms everywhere, on our money, identification documents and well, just about all over…but do you know what it means?

It illustrates the extraordinary creativity of our people through the ages. It inspires our united and diverse nation to shine as bright as the sun!

The words in the Coat of Arms is that of the San people and calls for the nation to unite in a common sense of belonging and national pride!   !KE E:/XARRA //KE

Campbell, D. 2011, Awesome South Africa, Awesome SA Publishers.