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Mountain Biking in Hogsback
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Mountain Biking in Hogsback

Hogsback is an ancient and enchanted place that lies on the R345 between Alice and Cathcart in the Eastern Cape. It is possibly most famous for its link to Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” novel and is claimed to have inspired the novel and subsequent Tolkien scenery, whether true or not, the town certainly looks as though it has been dreamed up by a fantasy novelist. Some of the things that makes Hogsback so special is that it is incredibly, almost magically, well-populated with indigenous forest, trout rivers and waterfalls - according to one guide Hogsback has one of the highest densities of water...
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On Safari in Sibuya Game Reserve
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On Safari in Sibuya Game Reserve

So when the day came for us to check in to Sibuya Game Reserve in Kenton on Sea, we completely missed the boat.  Literally, at 11:30am the boat chartered all the guests across from the reception to the reserve.  Except for us.  We arrived late from Hogsback and Ranger Chris came all the way this side of the river to collect us in time for lunch. As we boated along the river, looking out for birds and even game beside the water’s edge I realised that so much of this game reserve’s beauty lies in the fact that you can only access it by water. We stopped to see a tiny malachite kingfisher perc...
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An Interview with Graeme Mann of Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
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An Interview with Graeme Mann of Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve showcases the lushness and beauty of the Eastern Cape’s fauna and flora. It is the perfect getaway for locals and visitors alike. Home to prey and predator, along with a breath-taking variety of birds and other impressive animals, this is a nature-lover’s delight. We interviewed General Manager, Graeme Mann, to hear what’s behind the success of this reserve... An Interview with Graeme Mann, GM of the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve When was Kwandwe established? What was the vision? Kwandwe is the result of the shared vision, resources and energy of four very dynami...
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At the heart of Cintsa
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At the heart of Cintsa

Let me just tell you now that two nights in Cintsa is just not enough. Especially when the drought decides to end and the rain arrives. Sitting on the balcony of Buccaneers Lodge & Backpackers, I watch the clouds slowly pulling in over the high sand dunes and where the river meets the ocean.   The palms and thick fronds of green vegetation start to gain movement as the wind picks up.  The sun that heated up our late afternoon here on the hill of Cintsa West has all but disappeared. Luckily we’re set up in the one of their newest cottages nestled between tall bushes and other tent...
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Discovering Coffee Bay
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Discovering Coffee Bay

Tucked away along South Africa’s Wild Coast is the little area of Coffee Bay.  I’m not sure if it was the name or what my imagination conjured up, but for the longest time it has been a mystical place for me.  Somewhere far from Cape Town in a rural place along the coast. Now as I lay on the bed in our hut on the hill, I could see the green hill to the right jutting out over the ocean, the large aloe in the garden, a wooden gate keeping the cows out and the river moving steadily in with the tide. For the next two nights, this chunk of paradise at Coffee Shack would be our home... As ...
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Coastal Hike in Coffee Bay
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Coastal Hike in Coffee Bay

With the wind at full force and the rain relentless, the roads that lead to the start of the Hole in the Wall hiking trail in Coffee Bay were in too poor condition for the Coffee Shack tour vehicles to navigate. Slightly dejected at not getting the opportunity to see one of Coffee Bay’s famed marvels, but still very keen, we headed out wrapped thick in layers with local guide and barman, Lazarus, to the Umtata river mouth which is just north of Coffee Bay. The plan was to do the Coastal Hike which runs from the river mouth back to the hostel, which usually takes around two hours. With o...
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Hike to Kettlespout Falls in Hogsback
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Hike to Kettlespout Falls in Hogsback

Visiting Hogsback for the first time (see our post here), after living in South Africa all my life, was honestly like stepping into another country- A greener, lushious region where forests and mountains took up nearly all of the space and left tiny areas for houses and roads.  Even without names around town such as Lothlorien, Middle Earth and Striders, this green oasis immediately took me back to the Lord of the Rings and the Shire. The cottage we stayed in at Away with the Fairies Backpackers had paintings of little gnomes and fairies beside the fireplace, next to the tiny doors and ...
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Hogsback as a first-timer
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Hogsback as a first-timer

It is a sad fact of life that it has taken us 29 years before visiting Hogsback. Even as we drove inland towards the mountains in the downpour, the land became greener and more lushious than we had seen throughout our entire trip down the Wild Coast. Our stay for the next few nights was at Away with Fairies Backpackers set within an oasis of trees and easily mistaken for a hangout of hobbits.  With room names like Frodo and Bilbo’s Rest, they too recognized the resemblance to the magical shire in the Lord of the Rings. Right in front of our room just beyond the flowers, tall trees an...
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Canoeing down the Xhora
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Canoeing down the Xhora

We set out to face the hills with paddles in hand and the sun beating down upon our sun-screened shoulders as the clock turned over to ten. The Xhora is one of many rivers that gracefully wind their way down to the Wild Coast, through the hill and past the clay huts, it goes, supporting the local fisherman and providing much needed nourishment to the livestock of the land. Canoeing is one of the many activities offered by community driven backpacker lodge, Bulungula, and today we were headed out with local guide, Lindo, to conquer one of the rivers in the area. Although Bulungula ...
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An Interview with Janine Keyser of Koffylaagte Game Lodge
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An Interview with Janine Keyser of Koffylaagte Game Lodge

Koffylaagte Game Lodge challenges the norms and traditions, and offers nature-lovers something novel and memorable. Janine Keyser is the Sales and Marketing Manager, and has a passion for this Eastern Cape retreat. She shares some insights into what makes this lodge unique and why the Eastern Cape is its ideal home. A Interview with Janine Keyser, Sales and Marketing Manager of the Pegasus Hospitality Group ... When was Koffylaagte established? What was the vision? Koffylaagte was purchased in 2005 as a family farm which was a third of the size it is now and was commercialised in 2007 with ...
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10 reasons to head to the Karoo Heartland
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10 reasons to head to the Karoo Heartland

The Karoo Heartland lies at the heart of South Africa. Threatened with imminent fracking, this beautiful, water-strapped and desolate area is a series of mountains, vast plains, star studded skies, farmland, idiosyncratic little dorps reminiscent of yesteryear and space – lots of it. You may intend heading off in that direction, a mere couple of days at your disposal to take in the towns of Aberdeen, Cradock, Dordrecht, Graaff-Reinet, Nieu-Bethesda, Somerset East and similar, but I should warn you: they do things SLOW in the Karoo... If it isn't the heat then the people will get you. And...
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An Interview with Fayroush Ludick of Addo Elephant National Park
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An Interview with Fayroush Ludick of Addo Elephant National Park

The Addo Elephant National Park is one of the Eastern Cape’s, and indeed South Africa's most popular attractions, and is home to an impressive array of wildlife. Included in this is the Big 7. Find out what animals are part of this sought-after group and what unique attractions Addo Elephant Park has to offer, as Amelia chats to Fayroush Ludick, the Marketing Manager of this popular park. An Interview with Fayroush Ludick of Addo Elephant Park: Q. When was Addo established? What was the vision? A. The emphasis at Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) was for years to save the Eastern Cape e...
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An Interview with Joe Cloete of the Shamwari Group
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An Interview with Joe Cloete of the Shamwari Group

Joe Cloete is the General Manager of the Shamwari Group, which represents the exquisite Shamwari Game Reserve just outside Nelson Mandela Bay. This reserve has consistently been voted the World's Leading Safari and Game Reserve and Conservation Company, and promises visitors an experience of sheer luxury. Mr Cloete sheds some light on the lodge, its facilities, and what makes it so very special... An Interview with Joe Cloete of the Shamwari Group: When was Shamwari Game Reserve established? What was the vision? It was established in 1992 and the vision was to conserve a vanishing...
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10 reasons to head to South Africa’s Wild Coast
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10 reasons to head to South Africa’s Wild Coast

The Eastern Cape's Wild Coast, as its name suggests, is one of South Africa's least spoilt areas stretching from just beyond East London to Port Edward. In between are a series of remote, wild, ragged cliff-lined beaches (the real thing), valleys, coastal forests, seaside villages and great expanses of undeveloped wilderness. The Wild Coast gets wilder the further you travel. At its start, places like Cintsa are beautiful, but they can get seasonally inundated. Head up as far as Coffee Bay, Bulungula and Mdumbi, and both the people and the wildlife begin to represent a part of Afr...
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Afro Optimism at ABSA Vuka Showcase
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Afro Optimism at ABSA Vuka Showcase

This year sees the very first of a brand new event that promises to whip South Africa and the rest of the continent into a vibe of unique arts, music and the delicious cuisine of the nations. The Absa VUKA Showcase will highlight all that is African, progressive and exciting... In the light of its theme, which is Afro Optimism, the art, cuisine and music of Africa is presented in a positive light; displaying how such a diverse continent can be united by the very things that define its different cultures and customs. This event is inviting representatives from 12 different countries (inc...
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