UP IN THE AIR WITH… MAPS MAPONYANE

A Jack (and a master) of all trades, this Johannesburg-based actor, model, entrepreneur, presenter, philanthropist, writer, fashion designer, image consultant and MC, Maps Maponyane talks travelling to Helen Clemson.

The one place you can really be yourself is Braamfontein. It’s a true melting pot of cultures and our answer to what Cape Town has to offer in terms of cool. There’s also a kind of Brooklyn and Williamsburg feel to it.

When I was at university, my way of de-stressing – and seeing my favourite view of Johannesburg – was at Hope School in Westcliff. I retreated to the sports fields there, which is a beautiful vantage point at pretty much the same height as the Northcliff Tower.

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When travelling, I believe in doing things the long way round. I’m always on a plane, so when I can, I prefer to drive. I’m a fan of road trips, as you go through all these dorpies that surprise you. I recently did a five-day road trip to Cape Town and back, and I saw really special places, like the Meiringspoort Waterfall near Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape. There are also many other incredible local gems, like Hogsback, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the Eastern Cape.

I always “run” an international city first. I do this so that I can see what I’d miss on the ground if I were taking public transport. In terms of city travel, Barcelona (I absolutely love Spain!) is top for me. I’m also a big fan of New York City, as it suits my lifestyle.

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My first international trip was to England, which is an island I’ve fallen for hard. Another island I love is Pangkor Laut in Malaysia – a place too incredible to describe. The hospitality of the Malaysian people is also amazing, though nothing beats the hospitality of Africans.

I’m drawn to places with a rich heritage and culture. In Italy, I love the artisanal feel of Florence and the romance of Venice, which I was lucky enough to visit during the Redemptory Festival. Everyone sits in their boats and watches the fireworks, which are mind-blowing! It’s a very special experience.

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