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Reconnect at Rhino River Lodge

The African bushveld feels like a vast and never-ending space when you’re in the midst of it, but it’s at these times that you feel the most intimate connection to this natural environment and its inhabitants.

At Rhino River Lodge in Zululand, the small team aims to give each guest that uniquely personal nature high.
“We want them to get an intimate look at nature, so that all of our guests leave with a renewed appreciation of the bush, mindful of the importance of conservation and how it can play a role creating a space where people can relax, and hopefully re-awakening that childlike thrill of seeing a special nature moment – be it as simple as examining an intricate leaf or looking up at the stars, or as complex as negotiating a bush walk round an extremely rate and hugely endangered black rhino,” says manager Shona Lawson.

She’s one of a group of just 15 people who total the workforce at this quaint lodge within the 23,000 hectare Zululand Rhino Reserve. The lodge consists of four luxury en-suite rooms plus there are also two rustic family cottages that can accommodate up to four people.
Reserve manager Dale Airton leads the team with Shona, head ranger Isaac Gumede and support rangers Jenine and Jason take on the wildlife and bushveld challenges. In addition there are 3 trackers who also work on the grounds and 7 ladies who run the kitchen and housekeeping services. Continue reading

Saving Rietvlei for a Summer’s Day

Johannesburg is a city with limited entertainment resources. This densely populated hub leaves one to choose between malls and public parks for any form of amusement – especially for children. While a coastal destination would make an ideal alternative, a drive to the Rietvlei Zoo Farm easily ignites the excitement in anticipation of warmer Summer days.

September 1 marked the beginning of Spring and our enthusiasm as mothers led us to pack our babies and picnic baskets into our cars and spend the day in the outdoors- to Rietvlei Farm, the perfect place for family picnics, provides vast space for chairs, tables, gazebos and picnic blankets.

Situated in the south of Johannesburg on Swartkoppies Road, the farm offers boundless recreation. It receives an influx of visitors during the hottest months of Summer when the grass is beautifully green, the flowers have blossomed and the trees are renewed. The first day of Spring came with great disappointment as the farm was not ready yet to host visitors. The wind was harsh sending dry and flaky grass into our neatly packed baskets. Trees were still dull and the rest of the farm looked arid and barren. It seemed we were too eager for the warmth of Spring.

Nonetheless we salvaged what we could and made the most of the day. The tail end chills of Winter prompted us to steal an unoccupied lapa that became the best solution to keeping the children warm. Continue reading

A wedding with a Vaal River view

An hour long drive to the Vaal River from Johannesburg seemed endless and the excitement could not be contained as we anticipated the celebration of my sister’s wedding. The sky was overcast and the wind was relentless but we were determined to commit to all the festivities.

A convoy of cars snaked along the N1S highway towards Bloemfontein. After driving through the Grasmere Tollgate the open road led the way to one of Sasolburg’s diverse venues. Situated on the banks of the Vaal River, Riverside Beach Club is a paradise for boat lovers and water skiers who have access to over 60 km of waters.

The 70 hectare nature and game farm also offers camping and lapa facilities for private functions. The largest Gemsbok lapa seating a maximum of 200 people was prepared to serve as the reception venue for my sister’s wedding. White draping with fairy lights covered the ceiling and the floor was covered with crisp white Tiffany chairs and white-clothed tables. Crystal centre pieces were delicately placed alongside pearl balls and mirrored flower boxes. This Gemsbok lapa was transformed to fulfil the bride and groom’s wedding dream.

A sign welcoming guests to the boat club appears along a narrow driveway leading to the main area of the farm. One can also see many rows of boat locker facilities. The club has one of the largestboat locker rentalfacilities on the Barrage Reservoir however; it is only members who have access to boat locker facilities that can enjoy more than 1kmof privateriver frontage and additional facilities. My uncle is one of these members and it is his boat that transported me, the bride and groom, the groomsmen and the bridesmaids across the river to the smaller lapa where anexcited congregation waited for the bridal party. Continue reading

Wildlife from behind the lens with Pangolin

Fate was clearly at work the night that intrepid wildlife photographers Toby Jermyn and Gerhard “Guts” Swanepoel met around a campfire in Phalaborwa a few years back.
Their mutual passions and frustrations with the safari experiences they were being offered eventually led them to start their own photographic safari company, Pangolin Photo Safaris.

Although Toby says a photo safari can take place in any environment – urban or natural – he and Guts set up camp in The Chobe, where they can easily show off some of Africa’s best assets to their clients.

“We are lucky in The Chobe where it’s a photographer paradise,” Toby said, “The weather is great, the light superb and with the vehicles we have, getting photographers into position is quite easy. There are times, however when the animals don’t cooperate so you have to find other subjects. Our guides have been trained to look for photographic subjects that might not be of interest to a traditional safari-goer but will thrill a wildlife photographer.”
But what makes a photo safari different from a normal safari, one may ask? According to Toby it’s about spending time with other keen photographers who will be looking for subjects to photograph, rather than just trying to see as many animals as possible.
“Traditionally there was always conflict between birders and non-birders on a game drive with people wanting to see different things. That conflict now exists between photographers and non photographers. On a photo safari you can, for example, sit in front of a troop of baboons misbehaving for a long time getting lots of great shots without someone getting frustrated that we are not moving on.”
Because Pangolin is a company set up by photographers for photographers, they understand that clients want to be put in position to get that great shot. They welcome photographers of all levels or experience and even supply state of the art digital cameras free of charge to those who have yet to make the investment in their own camera. Continue reading

In 2 Minds about Mica’s Mobile

Official Mica mobisite

Mica hardware have over 140 stores nationwide and more opening as we speak.
It’s a fairly hallowed space for those who make their living with their hands and even more so for those who are passionate about their weekend DIY projects.

Having spent a fair amount of time with a weekend handyman, I’ll try to approach the Mica mobisite with a similar mindset. There are 3 main reasons you would need to access the Mica mobisite:

  • You need to find a store
  • You need to know if they carry a particular product
  • You want to know what promotions they have on or whether the promotion you are keen on is still available.

The official Mica mobisite is only helpful in 2 ways. It’s neat & basic and allows you to easily select a store from a predetermined list. You can also use it to mail customer service directly.

Store Locator - Official mobisite

But there seems to be a second ‘mobisite’ which is basically their main site optimised for mobile.The landing page also links to a ’Store Locator’ but takes you to the same map system as their main website which is pretty hard to navigate on a phone. I wasn’t able to view parts of the map or click on them.That said, if you happen to be in the sweet spot, once you click on the area, you will be directed to a list of cities & towns where you can collect your relevant data.
With so many stores all over the country, it would definitely be easier to use GPS to determine the user’s location & find the nearest store.

A small, non-descript menu button lurks in the right hand corner which, when clicked, will open a more detailed menu that includes most of the content from the main website, but simplified for mobile.
Under the Brands menu, you can view an extensive list of suppliers in various products ranges from power tools to electrical supplies. This menu also doesn’t transfer quite as well to mobile, but click on the product category and the info contained is helpful and has links to the relevant websites. Continue reading

Daily Collection

KZN Camper – For the tent-dwellers & caravan-lovers

For some of us, camping is nostalgic – something that takes us back to a simpler time with the family would just pack up everything and head down the coast, or into the mountains. For others, it’s an experience they’ve come to naturally looking for respite from the hectic city life.

KZN is a special province with so many options for a camper. Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled family beach holiday or a solitary mountain mission, there are so many options.

We spent some time on the collection, looking for some of KZN’s most popular spots as well as some of her most gorgeous hidden gems. It’s another work in progress and, as always, we value your input into our selection.

Thrill-seeking in Soweto

A now famous sight in Soweto

For many years Soweto was the face of the South African struggle. But the largest township in the country that became famous for riots and violence has a very different face in the new South Africa.
Today, Soweto is a buzzing metropolis on the skirts of Johannesburg that’s setting trends in politics, fashion, music, dance and language.

Central to the upliftment of the area is the Orlando eKhaya Precinct Development. This previously neglected zone that once housed the Orlando Power Station is gradually transforming into a vibrant hub of activity.
Just 25km from Sandton City and 22km from OR Tambo Airport, Orlando eKhaya is expected to transform the area into a sought after destination for investment, business and tourism. Construction began in late 2006 and developers hoped that the majority of the work on the over R1Billion project would be completed by 2008.

Negotiating the bends!

Despite the fact that this has not happened, there have already been significant upgrades to the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus to the tune of R400 million. Added to this the Orlando cooling towers have been converted into a world-class bungee facility and plans are underway for a waterfront park, 30 000 m2 of new retail space and 60 ha of open space and conservation development.
Other plans underway include an events stage, a hotel and huge amounts of housing and office space.

Recently, the newly constructed Heroes Bridge was unveiled to the public. The 130m-long bridge spans the outflow of the Orlando Dam and connects the suburbs of Orlando and Klipspruit. It was named in honour of local community heroes Basil Zuma and Kingsley Sithole, but stands as a reminder to everyday heroes in all communities. Continue reading