Woman in Tourism – Southern Drakensberg – Part 2
As we mentioned in our previous blog, two ladies were mentioned for the Southern Drakensberg area. Meet Michelle Howard!
Where do you live and what tourism business are you involved in?
I live in the Southern Drakensberg in Himeville, Willowbrooke Estate with landscaped gardens flanked by a two-hectare trout dam (fly fishing here and in this district, one of the favourite for all fishermen). We are situated in a valley in the hills on 17 hectares of pristine land. We run a 4 star TGCSA (Tourism Grading Council of South Africa) guest establishment called Willowbrooke Cottage and employ a compliment of six staff of which three are ladies.
The SDCTO (Southern Drakensberg Community Tourism Organisation)
Is very much part of my repertoire as I am a member of this committee in assisting with membership and helping getting Members set up with joining Tourism in KZN, promoting the Southern Drakensberg district being a very popular destination for both local and international visitors.
I was inspired to join Tourism about twelve years ago when I arrived here in the district, an area I felt had to be one of the most beautiful parts of our country and very privileged to live and work here.
Is there a special lady in your community you feel deserves a special mention?
One of the woman who inspired me into the Tourism industry was Cheryl Santini who was very passionate and dynamic in Tourism but unfortunately no longer lives here in the district, I believe a great loss not only to KZN Tourism but Tourism generally!
Cheryl was part of a CTA provincial conference that took place here in Himeville in 2001/2002 and took up the first ever, Provincial Minister of Tourism up Sani Pass plus a contingent of about 100 Tourism partners from around the country. All went up the pass in Quad bikes as well as 4 x 4’s…
What do you enjoy most about the Southern Drakensberg community?
The Southern Drakensberg Community has to be one of a kind – connected, caring and super supportive of one another, not to mention if you happened to be in a crisis of some sort. The District and Community too somehow always seems able to fulfill all your needs.
Which is your special space in the Southern Drakensberg area to go to relax?
Difficult to say on my favourite spot to relax and enjoy – being at home is definitely one of those places to be as it truly is an exquisite environment. Birding is another fantastic relaxing pastime outdoors not mention spotting buck, hares, snakes, genet and serval cats.
Hiking in these mountains may be active but most enjoyable with many different hikes to participate in with very experienced leaders so you are always in good hands. The weather in the mountains is so variable and can be harsh at times, but always exciting.
The Cobham Nature Reserve, South Africa’s first cultural and environmental World Heritage Site is dominated by Hodgson’s Peaks which enclose the Giants Cup. Cobham is a 52,000 ha section of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park accessible from the D7, adjacent to Himeville Village. Its vast expanses of Themeda (red grass) and Festuca (bright green grass) grassland which turn from emerald green in spring and summer, to shades of gold, brown and purple in autumn and winter. It is a paradise for relaxing, enjoying nature as well as for keen photographers. There is so much more on offer to enjoy in the Southern Drakensberg!
A trip up Sani Pass, 2874m’s above sea level, is a must if you only have a day in hand to experience a spectacular scenic drive crawling up hairpin bends where you will reach the top and can settle your nerves with a Maluti beer at the ‘highest pub’ in Africa.