Travel & Tourism

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A festival where the family’s welcome

It’s been six consecutive years that I haven’t missed the White Mountain Festival. From the very first year this small but fabulous festival grew on my heart like a woolly moss you might find growing in the mountainous area.

Originally started in 2006 as an alternative for the more sedate Splashy Fen fans, and organised by the same group, C-Weed Productions, White Mountain, situated at White Mountain Lodge just outside Estcourt, was intended to cater for families and folk fans.

Word spread almost immediately after the first festival and soon it was attracting a healthy crowd of around 2000 music-lovers, which is about as big as it will get. I couldn’t help but compare my latest visit to my recent trek to Oppikoppi. Though White Mountain may involve music and camping, it couldn’t be further removed from its’ northern counterpart.

For one thing, you can replace the hard, red dust with green verdant pastures and picturesque mountains. The setting is truly stunning. You get a feeling of peace as soon as you drive into the main camping area, which is equipped with basic ablution facilities – also unlike Oppikoppi. (If you’re lucky you may even score a hot shower!)

With a single main stage where the majority of the action takes place, the pace is leisurely. There’s no need to rush around to see your favourites. It’s best to grab you gear and get comfy in front of the stage for the day.

Around you you’ll find people napping, sipping on cold Craft beer from Notties Brewery or coffee to keep off the mountain chill. You’ll see toddlers shaking their nappied tushes to the tunes. You’ll see old friends laughing in camping chairs and new friends being made around the bonfire. The food selection isn’t huge but what’s there is hearty – homemade potjikos, delicious shwarmas, vegetarian curry, pizza and giant burgers! Continue reading

“The colour of adventure”

Anyone who’s ever felt the desire to hop into the basket of a hot air balloon will find this picture by Jayme Vasconcellos, taken at the Kruger Adventure Lodge, particularly inspiring! Nothing says adventure quite like a colourful hot air balloon taking off into the sky! See more Instagrams under “Photos” here: http://safindit.co.za/kruger-adventure-lodge

Top 5 Private Game Reserves in South Africa

South Africa is beyond famous for its’ incredible game reserves and lodges. People flock from all around the world to experience Africa in one of our top class facilities. Some just back a tent and trundle off but others seek out SA’s most luxurious and exclusive wildlife experiences. As far as we’re concerned, we’d be more than happy to stay at ANY of these reserves, but here are our Top 5!

1. Singita – Sabi Sand

It’s no secret Singita has been winning awards for some time now and although all of their private reserves are spectacular, Sabi Sand is regarded as uniquely special. With three magnificent but warm lodges set on a massive plot of Big 5 rich land, it’s easy to see why Singita Sabi Sand was recently ranked number 9 in the Condé Nast travellers awards in the Middle East, Africa and India Ocean.

2. Londolozi

One of the original pioneering Private Game Reserves of the ecotourism industry in South Africa and an unashamedly family run, stand alone operation, conservation is at the core of their ethics. World renowned as one of Africas finest game lodges, Londolozi was the first game reserve in the world to be accorded Relais & Chateaux status, with each of its’ 5 lodges committed to luxurious accommodation, fine cuisine and exceptional service.

3. Thanda

Wildlife, romance and exclusivity meet at Thanda Private Game Reserve – an award-winning safari destination in northern Zululand.Originally purchased as degraded cattle farms, Thanda’s wildlife management has concentrated on an extensive rehabilitation project, which included reintroducing the Big Five. The newly added Luxury Tented Camp is the epitome of oppulent colonial safari-style, perfect for guests who are searching for an authentic safari experience!

4. Shamwari

Home to Africas Big 5 and is situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa Shamwari has received numerous international awards, including the Worlds Leading Conservation Company and Game Reserve for many consecutive years.Luxury safari accommodation is offered in 7 different 5-star lodges on the 25 000 hectare reserve. From rustic treetop hideaways to colonial bush mansions, Shamwari will make your safari dreams come true.

5. Phinda

Phinda is unique in that is includes seven distinct habitats – a magnificent tapestry of woodland, grassland, wetland and forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, river courses, marshes and pans. At Phinda intimate encounters and rare discoveries can be experienced firsthand. With unspoiled beaches and spectacular reefs nearby, and an abundance of wildlife, Phinda offers the perfect bush and beach adventure. Six luxury lodges, each set in varying environments, provide exclusivity and privacy deeply set in the natural environment.

10 things to do this Heritage Weekend

Whether you’re staying at home this Heritage Day long weekend or you’re heading out to explore South Africa, we’ve got some ideas of places you can visit and events you can enjoy to celebrate!

In KZN…

1. White Mountain Festival

Acoustic music in the mountains… what more could you ask for? Brought to you by the same experienced crew that produce Splashy Fen every year, White Mountain is its’ smaller, mellow cousin. Discover new local artists or support your favourites, all while indulging in the magical mountain vista. Take the family for an unforgettable experience.

2. Witness Hilton Arts Festival

Broadly considered to be KZN’s premier arts and culture festival the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festivaland produces a sterling programme of drama, comedy, music, cabaret, arts and crafts, children’s theatre, Mindscapes discussions, workshops, films and exhibitions appealing to all who visit the festival each year. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the festival.

3. Fun in the Sun

For the fourth year running over 3000 KZN electronic music lovers will once again gather on the banks of the Hazelmere Dam for a massive outdoor festival involving two days of house, dance and electronic music, Swimming, Tanning, Partying and fun times.

Gauteng

4. The Cradle Festival

Head to where it all began to celebrate in the ultimate Heritage Day place. Expect musical performances from the likes of Louise Carver, and Idol’s winner, Elvis Blue as well as the Cradle Festival Wine Weekend, which includes cheese and wine tastings, as well as loads of fun activities and competitions for the whole family to enjoy. The daily kids programme offers parents peace-of-mind and a day-off to spoil themselves and relax while being able to enjoy the live entertainment, cheeses and wines. A Craft Expo allows exhibitors from the Cradle and surrounding areas to showcase their business and service offerings. Continue reading

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

Dive into an underwater wonderland

The Two Oceans Aquarium is, I believe, one of the shining jewels in Cape Town’s tourism crown.
But being Monday and all, allow me a small confession: I live in Cape Town. I love Cape Town. But man, oh man, I hate the holiday crowds. This especially includes children.

Yes, I know – they’ll be unleashed on the world once again next week and you’ll be looking for somewhere to take them; the aquarium is perfect for that. It’s pretty and it’s educational. Fun and awe inspiring even. But if you are like me and prefer to take your edification without being surrounded by hoards of screaming waist-high, ice scream-smeared creatures, then do yourself a favour and sneak off for a few self-indulgent and calming hours.

Entrance to the aquarium is not cheap, but if you plan to go regularly, get yourself a Soul Mates annual pass which offers unlimited access for a fraction of the price. They’re sneaky; you’re going to have to delve into their website a bit to find it, but it’s there and represents huge savings. Even buying your normal day ticket online is less expensive, so do your research.

Inside the aquarium a world of underwater wonder awaits you. The “Nemo” tank near the entrance, with its clear cavity into which you can immerse yourself in a cloud of swirling clown fish is a huge attraction for young and old. I suspect there are plenty of adults who wish they could fit in there.

Again, doing this with little ones or doing it as a grown up are two different things. As the latter, you can take your time and appreciate the magical beauty of marine life you’d never otherwise experience. Not all of us are cut out to be scuba divers. Continue reading

Mango’s new mobi hits the sweet spot

I have to applaud Mango Airlines. While all the other low budget airlines are struggling to keep airborne, they’ve come out with something fairly revolutionary (in South African terms) - a mobisite with booking capability!

I’ve said many times how great it would be if more businesses would enable actual booking, ordering and purchasing capabilities on mobile and this is an example of someone thinking ahead and realizing the possibilities!

The question remains whether Mango have done a good job with it. I tend to say, yes. It’s simple and effective with no frills and that’s something we like in a mobisite!

They’ve put all the focus on booking so there’s very little else on offer. When you click on “Book your flight” you can follow the exact same process you would on the main site to do just that. The writing is all legible and the process completely optimized for the mobile platform. They could have simply replicated the web experience but it would have been clumsy and ineffective. Thankfully they realized that.

If you already have a booking you can check your details easily using the “My Booking” link. I think it’s great that they also have an “Important Update” section – presumably for customers who are on the move and need to know if there have been any major delays etc.

I only have one complaint about this very smart and seamless mobisite. The special offers are not displayed or offered anywhere? I know for a fact that Mango are running a 24 hour sale today, but nowhere on the mobisite is there any mention of it.

The mobisite is very new though and perhaps this is something that will be added in the future. Overall I love the clean, hassle-free interface. It’s fast, efficient and extremely handy.

Well done Mango for leading the way and understanding the true power of the mobile market.

9/10

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

Daily Collection

PE Cuisine – The best of Port Elizabeth Dining!

Smaller cities are often neglected in the “best nosh” lists and we don’t think that’s fair! We want all popular establishments to get their dues!

That’s why we created this latest collection highlighting some of Port Elizabeth’s best places to wine and dine.

As a tourist city, PE can’t afford to rest on its’ laurels in the entertainment arena and that’s why it’s no surprise there are a solid group of restaurants, bakeries, delis and bistros that keep the locals and tourists smiling, serving everything from steak to sushi to fresh seafood.

Daily Collection

Route 62 – the Great Karoo!

It’s an area of South Africa that many who live elsewhere may not even have thought of, let alone visited, but this scenic tourist route covering the Western Cape and Eastern Cape is one that could keep you good and lost from civilization for some time.

Adventure is never far away on Route 62 where you’re surrounded by a wealth of natural resources from mountains, passes, rivers to vineyards and orchards.

This collection contains just a small selection of some of the more interesting places, sights and activities you could sample on your Route 62 road trip like adventure activities, wine farms, antiques and collectables, nature reserves, animals and water sports- just enough to peak your interest in the magical Karoo…