Look around the office. Now imagine that everyone is naked. Giggle. Go on, you know you want to. Nudity is, after all, pretty funny ? things jiggle, wobble and sag. Yip, cellulite is real and few people possess the improbable anatomical proportions of Barbie and Ken.
That being said, clothes are pretty funny too. Slaves to arbitrary fashion trends, we squeeze into unreasonably tight jeans, totter around in stilettos and sweat it out in three-piece suits. Not to mention all that highly impractical underwear.
Naturists (cue more giggling) tend to be of the opinion that ? weather permitting ? it is better to be free of the shackles of clothing. Concealment, for some, is simply not a valid enough reason for wearing clothes.
However, naturists are not all hippies campaigning for a clothes-free world. Nor are they perverts, exhibitionists or immoral hedonists. Well, not necessarily. Essentially, naturism is the practice of accepting the human body for what it is ? nothing to be ashamed of.
The South African Naturist Federation, which serves as an organisation for like-minded individuals, acknowledges that the lifestyle still carries a bit of a stigma, but reminds visitors to the website that ?there is nothing lewd, crude or distasteful about the unclothed body.?
Agreed ? well, in most cases anyway. And while I enjoy wondering around my house in the buff as much as the next person, I suspect that my neighbours and our trusty law-enforcement officials may object if I step out of my front door in all my natural glory.
So, where exactly can you go bare in SA?
For the more casual naturist, there are a few unofficial nudist beaches dotted around the country. On the Atlantic Seaboard, next to Llandudno, you?ll find the renowned Sandy Bay. Further up country, you can strip down on the Port Alfred beach situated below the Great Fish Point Lighthouse (approximately 24 km out of town) and you can tan au naturel at the lagoon in Umhlanga.
?Unofficial? is an important word here and if you happen to notice that everyone else is fully clothed ? or wearing skimpy bikinis ? it is probably a good idea to keep your kit on.
For the more intrepid naturist, there are a number of private naturist resorts, catering largely for families and couples. These resorts tend to have rather strict rules and those suspected of voyeurism or indecency are generally asked to leave quite quickly.
While newbies (and those with valid objections) are given some leniency, most resorts have a no-clothes rule for adults in the public areas of the resort.
- Kiepersolkloof: Situated on 207 hectares of unspoilt bushveld in the North West province, Kiepersolkloof is the oldest private naturist resort in South Africa. It offers camping and self-catering cottages at reasonable rates and has a swimming pool and braai facilities.
- Sun Eden: Just over 100 km from Joburg, this beautiful game farm welcomes both day visitors and those wishing to stay in the cosy cottages. Aimed at families and couples, the resort includes a swimming pool, restaurant and pub. Guests are encouraged to socialise with each other at the disco and karaoke evenings.
- Harmony Nature Farm: Situated in the Magaliesberg mountains in the North West province, this privately owned family resort is home to zebras, monkeys, baboons, duikers, jackal and a variety of bird species. Guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation with camping, caravans and chalets all on offer. Leisure facilities include swimming pools, a steam-room, a dance hall, bars, a snack bar and a beauty salon.
- Kudumanzi Nudist EcoPark: Approximately two hours drive from Joburg, this resort is located on a protected game farm. Guests can stay in the Nudist Bush Lodge, which is located next to the river and caters for up to 16 people (eight couples), or they can camp in one of the six luxury tented facilities. Game typically seen on the farm includes giraffe, kudu, zebra and crocodiles. The range of activities on offer includes nude game drives, walking trails, quad biking and personalised picnics.
- Haakbos Naturist Lodge: Situated 10 km outside if Bela-Bela on the Modimolle road in Limpopo (one and half hours drive from Joburg), this resort is one of the newest in South Africa, having only been established in 2006. Aimed at both couples and singles, it claims to be the most cost-effective naturist resort in the country. Visit as a day guest or camp overnight.
For something further afield, Kalypso Tours ? South Africa?s nudist and clothing-optional tour operator ? can help you organise a naturist trip through South Africa.
The naked truth
If you?re new to letting it all hang out, there are a few basic ?rules? which you should bare (sorry, I couldn?t resist) in mind.
- It is rude to stare.
- Always sit on a towel.
- Use sunscreen.
- Remember to put your clothes on when you leave.
- Public sexual activity is still indecent
- Get permission before photographing others.