• Bitten by the whale watching bug Bitten by the whale watching bug We don’t realise how lucky we are in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, to have the mightiest of the marine mammals visit our coastline between every year ...
  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

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Friday, 30 January 2015

Greytown and Tranquili-Tea

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A few weeks ago a friend and I took a trip from where we farm in Kearsney to the town of Greytown. I must admit, I had driven through Greytown on my way to the Natal Midlands many times before but had never taken the time to stop and see what the town has to offer.

The landscape is for one is completely different; here the hills are covered in green forests compared to the sugar-cane fields that makeup the Kearsney landscape. The climate is wonderful too; on the day we visited it was beautifully cool and misty … in fact the drive home on the windy R74 took much longer than anticipated due to the misty, wet conditions (it’s not always easy to see a cow wandering across the road in the mist!) Continued

Thursday, 29 January 2015

I Love Greyton Because … Insider Tips

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Hi, we are Ines Stoll and Mark Dittke from The Purple Dog Self Catering House in Greyton in the Cape Overberg, Western Cape.

Greyton IS BEST KNOWN FOR its magnificent piece of peace, tucked away from the N2 but still close enough to Cape Town with its oak tree lined streets surrounded by the majestic Riviersonderend Mountains.

GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN whilst meandering in the Nature Reserve along the Gobos River with an easily accessible waterfall or from the top of the Mountain whilst hiking the Loerkop Trail with a marvellous 360-degree view with the whole chain of the Riviersonderend mountains spread from east to west, with Greyton and Genadendal in sheltered positions… Continued

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

6 Ways to Experience Cape Town’s Ocean Wildlife

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Known historically as ‘The Cape of Storms’ the tempestuous seas around the Cape Peninsula have battered the rocky shores, and more than a few ships, for millennia. The peninsula juts out into the ocean at the edge of the African continent, tipped by the Cape of Good Hope (which, contrary to popular myth, is not the southernmost tip of Africa – this honour is reserved for Cape L’agulhas, a little further east).

With the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean on one shore, and the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean on the other, Cape Town has historically served as a watering hole for travellers, and continues to do so today, although as a destination rather than a stopover on the Spice Route to and from Asia. Continued

Thursday, 22 January 2015

10 Reasons Downtown Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct is the Place to Live, Eat and Visit

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Downtown Johannesburg is a dangerous place. In May 1999, not five years after the first democratic government was elected in South Africa, the Guardian published an article entitled: Johannesburg, the most dangerous city on earth? The chilling article gives personal accounts of death by car-jacking, muggings and rapes, and cites frightening statistics about the country’s daily murder and rape rates.

It presents Johannesburg as nothing short of a ‘rough, provisional kind of place’ that has ‘never quite shaken off its arbitrary, squatter-camp beginnings’. (ouch!) It is not a pretty picture.

Johannesburg’s downtown has attracted many illegal immigrants. The CBD, dense with skyscrapers, is also dense with people. If statistics are to be believed 217 000 inner city residents live in 37 000 dwelling units. The threat of vagrancy and crime keeps people away. But. Things are changing.

Fast forward to 2014 and news articles now convey Jo’burg’s downtown as ‘less dodgy’. They describe an urban renaissance transforming the city’s once-feared streets into welcoming urban spaces. One of the major contributors to this renaissance is the Maboneng Precinct.

Here are 10 Reasons Downtown Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct is the Place to Live, Eat and Visit… Continued

Thursday, 15 January 2015

10 churches designed by a woman in the Cape; plan your Sophia Gray Route

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Sophia (Sophy) Gray designed no fewer than 40 of the 50 Anglican churches built during her husband Robert Gray’s bishopric. She was the first woman to practise architecture in South Africa, and one of the earliest to do so in the world. No mean feat for a woman who was a wife during the Victorian era, and a mother to five children.

Perhaps Sophy managed to escape the full impact of the crinoline, and its relegation of women to the home, when she moved with her husband from England after he was assigned the colonial bishopric of the Cape of Good Hope. Part of his remit was to build churches.

Robert and Sophy Gray arrived in 1848 to settle on the farm Boschheuvel, originally known as Wijnberg, and later called Bishopscourt. With her Sophy brought drawings and plans of church architecture that she felt would best adapt to South African conditions. She added her own sketches of styles and details that shaped the form of Anglican churches all over South Africa, conferring often with the British ecclesiastical architect W. Butterfield. Continued

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mossel Bay – 5 things to do in SA’s most mistakenly maligned town

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Calling Mossel Bay a ‘harbour town’ is a misnomer. It does have a harbour, but ‘town’ suggests small, when in reality some 60 000 people live there. Mossel Bay is big enough to give the impression of a city. What adds to this impression is that it sprawls, merging seamlessly with the beach side villages of Klein Brak River, Reebok, Tergniet, Groot Brakrivier and Glentana so that the entire bay is a twinkle at night (provided Eskom isn’t load shedding).

Travel brochures tend to gloss over Mossel Bay’s domination by oil refineries; from the N2 they are all you can see between the highway and the harbour. Mossgas’ gas-to-liquids refinery meets 7% of the country’s liquid fuel needs, initiated 22 years ago when gas was discovered offshore.

As a result, light industry monopolises Mossel Bay to such a degree that one’s initial sentiment is to give the town a wide berth. How wrong this impression, and how much more Mossel Bay has to offer than one thinks… Continued

Thursday, 11 December 2014

9 other (really) popular wine routes of the Cape – the bouquet beckons

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Wines in South Africa do not start and end with the Cape Winelands (Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch), although one is hard pushed to find a comparable abundance of excellence in so small an area

The Overberg, Orange Free State, Northern Cape, and even the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, produce outstanding wines. And the country’s capacity to grow vines extends as far north as Bronkhorstspruit, 50 km east of Pretoria. You will even find vines in Mpumalanga.

But you would be right in assuming that vines grow particularly well in the Cape. The breezes off the Atlantic Ocean, the cold winters and hot summers, the winter rainfall – all combine to create the perfect scenario for wine production.

There are so many different wine routes in the Cape that we didn’t mention half of them in our first article Continued

Monday, 8 December 2014

10 best places to see wild dogs in South Africa

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Probably the most distinctive feature of the African wild dog is its big, round ears. They’re nothing like a domestic dog’s.

They’re nothing like a wolf’s either, yet this beautiful Cape hunting dog, or painted dog as it’s also known, is given the Latin name Lycaon pictus, meaning ‘painted wolf-like animal’, because it is closest in nature to a wolf.

Their hide is different from a dog’s too – covered with irregular patches of black, brown, red, white and yellow fur. Wild dogs have a black, furrow-like vertical line on the forehead between the eyes that is rather endearing. And they have only four toes per foot, unlike the five toes of domestic dogs.

Catching a glimpse of one is difficult. The wild dog is southern Africa’s most endangered large carnivore, and has all but disappeared from most of its original range… Continued

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The wine lover’s guide to South Africa – 10 wine routes to tempt your taste buds

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Whether you enjoy your wine big, buttery, smooth, opulent, complex, creamy or crisp, the wines made in South Africa will more than meet your needs, as we produce some of the best wines in the new world.

South African wine, a quick overview:

  • our wine history dates back 350 years, to 1659
  • today we export over 450 million litres of wine
  • a little over 10 years ago, most of our wine was distilled into brandy
  • SA wines are of the best valued red and white wines
  • there are 100 000 hectares under vine across the country
  • 56% of this is white wine, 44% is red
  • the oldest fruit bearing vine in the southern hemisphere is a Crouchen Blanc variety, planted around 1771 at the Cape Heritage Hotel in Cape Town
  • we are the 9th largest wine producer in the world
  • our most popular grape variety is Chenin Blanc
  • followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Colombard
  • a white label with a red key and Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) logo, indicates the wine is of the best (it was sold at a CWG annual auction and you’ll find it in top restaurants and cellars in SA)
  • if you’re new to South African wines, pick up a copy of John Platter’s South African Wine Guide…

Continued

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Mandela’s South Africa – Mandela-infused sites to visit

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Mandela was branded a communist terrorist by the apartheid government and spent 27 years in prison as a result. Despite this, he was instrumental in bringing about a peaceful reconciliation in a country torn apart by racism, was loved and revered throughout the world for his magnanimity, and became Madiba, the father of the people.

He received over 1 000 awards, more than 125 streets, boulevards, avenues, bridges and highways have been named after him, and his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, has been read by millions.

For those who come to our shores to experience a little of this great man’s life, here is a list of places to visit… Continued

Friday, 28 November 2014

Bring On The Barnyard Theatre

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I am a big fan of the vibey, laid back atmosphere the Barnyard Theatre creates, but never seem to get to their fantastic shows often enough. In fact I only seem to get myself organized when friends and family visit from the USA every two years and they request an evening at the theatre!

However, friends have asked us to join them for the production currently showing at the Gateway Barnyard in Umhlanga; I don’t think there could be anything better than a night of listening to 80’s music and I’m sure the ‘80’s Rewind, The Total 80’s Party’ will have the crowd up and dancing in no time at all!

Continued

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

10 attractions that will have you packing your bags for the Upper Karoo

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For many the Karoo is a great expanse of (dry) land somewhere in the middle of South Africa. Just where this place of great heat and frosts, with an annual rainfall of next to nothing, starts and ends is a mystery, expounded by the impression that its extent is unknown (although we estimate it as nearly 400 000 square kilometres).

We have rather a romantic notion about its limitless skies, Marino sheep, succulents, windmills and little hillocks. Rightly so, as it is unusually beautiful. Some of us speak with longing of retiring to a town in said expanse of land, to fritter away our days running fish ‘n chips shops, or little coffee cum bookshops. Others actually do this… Continued

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Exceptional Bakery and Deli is popular with the local crowd

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I’ve discovered somewhere that is fast becoming my favourite coffee spot. Located in the village of Umhlali, The Exceptional Bakery and Deli has only been open for six short weeks but is quickly gaining popularity with the local crowd.

What makes this venue so attractive is its premises … slap bang in the middle of the Karibu Nursery! There are a number of tables on a raised and covered deck area which overlooks the majority of the nursery area and there is certainly something tranquil about sipping a cup of Illy coffee while gazing out over rows of bobbing Agapanthus or bright daisies… Continued

Friday, 21 November 2014

7 tips to cut the cost of your next holiday

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It is a challenge not to spend a lot of money when on holiday. If you typically spend more on holidays than you budget for, then you’re not alone.

We’ve put our heads together to come up with a list of ways to spend less on your next holiday, without having to sleep on your friend’s couch or stay in a relative’s guest bedroom.

Here are 7 tips to cut the cost of your next holiday: Continued

Thursday, 20 November 2014

8 favourite South African writers, for your Christmas stocking

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I first connected with South African fiction when I read Etienne van Heerden’s The Long Silence of Mario Salviati, and was hooked. If you consider it was 2002, it took me rather a long time to get there.

Since then I’ve read much and often.

Here is a list of my 8 favourite South African writers, in no particular order. Any of their books make great holiday reads, or gifts… Continued