Saturday, August 24, 2002

Unforgettable Game Reserves in South Africa

For a long lasting impression, a South African game reserve is something not to miss whether you experience one of the game reserves via a safari or travelling on your own – it really is an unforgettable experience. South Africa has a huge collection of both private and public game reserves and nature parks situated all over the country. South Africa is home to the BIG 5 – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard and is of course Malaria free.There is a wide range of Game Reserves to suit all types of budgets from 5 star luxury to self-drive parks.

Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa and covers nearly 2 million hectares of land or an area greater than the size of Israel. Kruger is home to the Big Five, the Little Five (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle), the birding Big Six (ground hornbill, kori bustard, lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, pel’s fishing owl and saddle-bill stork) and more species of mammals than any other African Game Reserve. At Kruger Park it is possible to do your own self-drive although there are guided tour operators, with an excellent infrastructure that includes picnic sites, rest camps, waterholes and hides. The Kruger Park is a truly remarkable reserve offering everyone an incredible experience of Africa at its most wild.

Addo Elephant National Park - This finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 450 elephants and attracts more visitors per year than the Serengeti National Park. Elephant viewing at Addo is considered to be the best in the world and you can either choose to drive yourself around the park or take advantage of the guided tours on offer.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve - A favourite amongst international celebrities including royalty, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is home to the coveted Big Five. Situated close to Port Elizabeth, in the malaria-free Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Shamwari Game Reserve offers an unsurpassed nature experience. In an area blessed by the convergence of 5 eco-systems, it's a natural habitat for all types of wildlife makes it the ideal viewing reserve, for not only the Big Five flourish here, but so does a large variety of antelope and smaller wildlife, as well as about 300 species of birds.
Places to stay:

Buhala Game Lodge - Malelane, Mpumalanga - Buhala is an enchanting Game Lodge right on the banks of the Crocodile River, the border of the Kruger National Park. What a wonderful waterhole to have at the bottom of the garden! Elephant, buffalo, hippos and many antelope are just a few of the frequent visitors there. Guests sitting on the verandah sipping sundowners or lazing around the pool have wonderful sightings of these fascinating animals.

24 Riviere - Vaalwater, Limpopo -The Mountain Lodges are built in the mountains, out of the mountains. With rocks and thatch roofs these Rondavel designed lodges have cool day temperatures and nice warmth at night. The spacious lodges are finished and furnished in style to provide you with comfort and luxury
Plumbago Guest House - Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga - Superbly positioned on a ridge with a magnificent panoramic view of subtropical Hazyview & the Kruger National Park. Plumbago offers luxurious suites in the lush garden – Sauna, Pool & Tennis.

For more information on Game Reserves and places to stay, visit:
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Thursday, August 22, 2002

Out and about in South Africa

South Africa really is a wonderful country for those loving the outdoors and in particular, there are so many activities such as golfing, fishing, adventure sports, water sports that one can do whilst travelling through this amazing country. If you’re stuck for things to do, why not try one or more of the following activities:

World's Highest Bungee Jump: This is the ultimate thrill for all those adrenalin junkies out there! 216m above the Bloukrans River in the Western Cape. Whilst you are there, why not try the Flying Fox which is the newest adventure at Bloukrans. The Flying Fox is a 200m cable slide (foofie slide) out onto the archway of the bridge. This can be done by itself or as a quicker way to get to your bungee jump starting point

Take flying lessons: This air school in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape is a professional flying training organisation which caters for private, commercial, airline and military sectors. They have a dedicated training facility and the average student population is 200 with the campus situated at the airport which provides a secure and productive pilot training environment.

Golfing: The climate in South Africa is perfect for golf and attracts keen enthusiasts from all over the World. There is a fantastic choice of courses to choose from all around the country with some wonderfully challenging coastal courses on offer. The high altitude location of some of the courses offer you a chance to hit the ball further than you have ever hit it before. South Africa has been blessed with many fantastic world class golfers many of which have designed golf courses over here such as Gary Player and Ernie Els.

Visit Table Mountain in Cape Town: With over 19million visitors transported to the summit of Table Mountain to date, this is quite simply something not to miss. With an amazing backdrop to the city of Cape Town and at over 3,563 feet, the mountain commands spectacular views over Cape Town and beyond.

White Water Rafting: South Africa offers some fantastic white water rafting opportunities especially during the months of November to May. If you have never done this before it is truly an experience to enjoy! River package trips are available for all levels of experience and you can go for just a half day or even take a 4 day break. The Tugela River offers a stretch of river some 30km where you can experience some of the most exciting white water. The water here is so good that the Camel White-Water Challenge brings its South African leg here and is extremely well thought of by participants and organisers. If rafting is not your thing you can take one man kayaks or two man crocs instead.

Explore South Africa’s popular routes by car: The Dolphin Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, Panorama Route, Mpumalanga, Garden Route, Western Cape, Route 62, Western Cape or the Cape Winelands in the Western Cape.

Learn to surf at Jefferys Bay: Most people coming to Jefferys Bay do so to surf or learn to surf. The main beach is an ideal place for beginners to learn as there are no rocks and beginners don’t have to venture too far out as there are sandbanks close to the shore.

Go scuba diving in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape: Port Alfred dive sites are famous for soft coral, the numerous wrecks that dot around our shores and unknown to many, the incredible "Lunar landing" which is where crayfish in their hundreds live and breed.

For more information on these activities and others, please visit:
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Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Mpumalanga – Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, World Cup 2003

Mpumalanga is one of South Africa's top tourist destinations and there are few regions in the world to match the extraordinary beauty of the Lowveld and escarpment. The Province covers nearly 80 000km² from rolling highlands to the lofty escarpment and the lush wetlands. The 1870’s “Gold Rush” and fortune hunters have made this area rich in history. Places such as Barberton and Pilgrims Rest have become the most explored towns. The scenery is absolutely amazing and draws back tourists year after year.

Mpumalanga is also the home of the world famous Kruger National Park which is the largest game reserve in South Africa and covers nearly 2 million hectares of land or an area greater than the size of Israel. Outstanding variety of game, birds and wildlife can be viewed.

Mpumalanga’s Capital city, Nelspruit, is now flourishing due to its tobacco and timber industries. Nelspruit itself is a very trendy and modern city leading into historic towns (by contrast), intimidating mountains and gorgeous game sanctuaries. The Mbombela Stadium is also in Nelspruit which is one of the host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2003.

Not to miss is the Blyde River Canyon - a significant natural feature of South Africa. It is 26 kilometres in length and about 800 metres deep. It is the third deepest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon in the United States and the Fish Eagle Canyon in Namibia. It is the second largest canyon in Africa, and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continent.

Panorama Route - is one of the most popular visitor destinations in South Africa with outstanding beauty to be seen on route. The best time for ensuring a reliable clear view is in the dry winter months.

Accommodation in Mpumalanga:

Plumbago Guest House - Kruger National Park - luxurious suites

Helmon's Place – Ohrigstad - offers accommodation within 50km radius of Pilgrims Rest, Graskop, Blyde River & Lydenburg.

Old Joe's Kaia - Schoemanskloof Valley, Guest House

For more information on Mpumalanga please visit:

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Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Gauteng - Diversity, Gold, World Cup Stadiums, Great Accommodation


With a population of over 9 million people and a history of discovering gold; Gauteng offers a vibrant mix of diversity and is one of the wealthiest provinces in Africa. Rapid development has swept the province in the last 03 years with new chrome structures rising overnight. The two major cities are Johannesburg and the city of Pretoria.

Johannesburg - This is the third largest city in Africa, after Cairo and Alexandria, and the world's youngest city to pass the million mark. For many visitors to South Africa, Johannesburg is their first port of call, and many of them stay no more than a day or two before moving onto another city /game reserve or other South African attractions. Although to many, Johannesburg is not considered a beautiful town, it is the South African city with the most stimulating atmosphere. Johannesburg is considered to be the heart beat of South Africa and a gradual process of getting together between whites and blacks has begun. Against this background, it is well worth spending several days in South Africa's largest city but you shouldn’t ignore the fact that the city has a high crime rate. However, if you heed common sense, as you would do in most major cities around the world, then you can still enjoy this city.
Pretoria - The best way to visit the many historic and interesting sights which are located outside the city is by rental car. The heart of Pretoria is geared up for the corporate and governmental business side of things. Hiring a car is also beneficial in terms of venturing into the suburbs where you will find excellent places to stay and a good choice of restaurants with some lively student nightlife. Hatfield and Brooklyn are suburbs worth visiting. If you visit the Church Square in Pretoria you will find some of the oldest buildings. This spot is a haven for locals to meet despite the rather unattractive statue of Afrikaner political hero Paul Kruger which stands in the middle.

Not to miss – Soweto - Of course, the most popular attraction in Soweto is the house where Nelson and Winnie Mandela lived before Nelson was imprisoned in 1962. This three bedroomed house was bombed several times by security forces and rebuilt. Today it is a small museum. On the very same road, is former home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who also won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work. Although it is not safe to visit Soweto on your own, there are some well run tours by reputable operators. We recommend you pick a tour that includes a walk where you can have the chance to talk to the local Sowetans. Although there are not your usual tourist sites to see here, it is an experience to take in the atmosphere of this unique place.

Accommodation recommendations:

Honeydew (North-western suburbs of Johannesburg) Guest Lodge

Centurion (located between Pretoria and Midrand (Johannesburg) Apartment rentals – Blue chip accommodation to corporate and business executive travellers

Johannesburg - Distinctive and contemporized Guest House
Johannesburg - Boutique-style manor

For more accommodation options in Gauteng – please visit
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Monday, August 19, 2002

Tsitsikamma in the Western Cape

Tsitsikamma National Park

Second only to the Kruger National Park is Tsitsikamma National Park. The best time to visit this area is between November and February. The park itself is split into two sections - to the West, you will find De Vasselot which includes the Nature's Valley resort. Here you will find quite a few short walks through forest and across rivers and a wonderful stretch of sandy coastline.

To the East, is Storms River Mouth where the wild Storms River meets the Indian Ocean via a deep gorge. Walking here is very popular with some really lovely hikes across the forest covered cliffs. If you enjoy bird watching then there is an array of birds to be spotted here including the Knysna Lourie which you can spot by its flash of red in its wings. You may even spot a rare African black oystercatcher which has black feathers and red eyes, beak and legs.

The coast here is rocky and reminiscent of parts of Cornwall in England. This area of rainforest is the last remnants of a rainforest that used to cover this coastal area. If you are taking in the Garden Route then this is a must stop along your way. The whole area covers some 80kms of land and also extends 5km out to sea providing essential protection to the fish and mammals found here. One of the most popular trails for hiking in this area is the Otter Hiking Trail. It is so popular that you have to book well in advance (one year sometimes) to take in an amazing 5 day hike across rivers, though forests, and passing waterfalls. If you stop at the restaurant at the Storms River Mouth you can take a short walk to a suspension bridge which provides some amazing views. This area is extremely well catered for in terms of accommodation with something to suit all budgets.

From an accommodation point of view, we highly recommend the Tsitsikamma Lodge - surrounded by mountains and tucked away in the forest, the Tsitsikamma Lodge is a haven of peace where a warm welcome and friendly service, combined with nature, provides a perfect break. Set in beautiful gardens, and built entirely of logs, the Lodge has 32 cosy cabins, each with its own spa-bath, private deck and barbecue area. There’s also a honeymoon suite with a sunken lounge and a crackling wood fire.... Built on stilts, this is a place where romance is literally in the air!

Tsitsikamma is home to a wide variety of activities – bird watching, horse riding, black water tubing, canoeing, etc. Or you might like to follow the river and nature trails or take a picnic in the forest. For the more adventurous, there’s the Tree Top Canopy tour and our very own Strip-Tease River Trail! For a more gentle activity, why not spoil yourself with a great treatment at our Spa or stroll along to the library for a relaxing read, or take a dip in the swimming pool? And when the sparkling air builds up an appetite, our licensed restaurant offers delicious home-cooked meals! Tsitsikamma Lodge is an AA Award Winning Leisure Hotel, which offers unobtrusive and personal service. An ideal place to enjoy time with the family, spend a romantic few days, or just take time out, it also offers superb conferencing facilities for up to 40 delegates. Tsitsikamma Lodge.
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Sunday, August 18, 2002

Adventure Province - Eastern Cape South Africa

The Eastern Cape region is the second largest of the nine provinces in South Africa and the province has recently undergone a rebrand. The Eastern Cape is now known as the “Adventure Province” due to the sheer number of activities on offer. Wonderful expansive beaches, mountain ranges, beautiful countryside and lush green forest dot around the province.
You can also enjoy some of the longest hours of sunshine along the sub-tropical coastline. You can take advantage of the malaria free Big 7 Game viewing and for the adventurous ones amongst you, leap off the 216m bridge bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge. This is the highest commercially operated bungee jump in the World! The Indian Ocean provides a wonderful coastline for the Eastern Cape comprising long stretches of clean sandy beaches, rocky coves, secluded lagoons, huge sand dunes and towering cliffs. Some highlights not to miss when visiting the Eastern Cape are:

Port Elizabeth – is the largest coastal city between Cape Town and Durban. In the heart of the town, known as Central, you will find Market Square which is very attractive. PE has many historical attractions including the Donkin Heritage Trail where visitors can trace the footsteps of the 1820 Settlers. This is a 5km trail passing by some 47 historical sites in the Old Hill area of central PE. If you are interested in snorkelling or scuba diving ,then head to Sardinia Bay which is a marina reserve. Indeed PE offers ship wrecks, coral reefs and wonderfully coloured fish in warm waters for the scuba divers amongst you.

Grahamstown - is also known as "City of Saints" due to the many churches found here and "City of Schools" due to the array of excellent schools and of course Rhodes University. Grahamstown is of course most famous for the Grahamstown Arts Festival which is held over 03 days every year during June/July. This festival is one of the top cultural events and attracts over 50,000 visitors from far and wide and is a real treat for holidaymakers.

Port Alfred - most popular destination for holidaymakers on Route72. There are kilometres of sand dunes in both directions and the friendly village atmosphere and beautiful climate make it the perfect place to visit. The unique arched bridge which crosses the Kowie River in Port Alfred provides a landmark for all those visiting or passing through. Each evening, the bridge is lit up with a wonderful display of multicoloured lights for all to enjoy. This is especially a delight watching from the banks of the Kowie or on a boat with a glass of wine in your hand. This town is popular with surfers and scuba divers. There are a range of activities which include golf, sand boarding, river cruises, flying school, hiking, horse riding, quad biking, art galleries, fantastic restaurants and much more.

Addo Elephant National Park - sanctuary to over 450 elephants and attracts more visitors per year than the Serengeti National Park. The park is now expanding to over 360,000 hectares and transforming Addo into one of the great tourist attractions in South Africa. Elephant viewing at Addo is considered to be the best in the world and you can either choose to drive yourself around the park or take advantage of the guided tours on offer.

Jeffreys Bay - truly a surfer’s paradise. This place has a real international atmosphere as the bars buzz with chatter of perfect waves and supertubes. This is a perfect spot for families with great sunshine and beautiful beaches stretching for miles. Nearby are other smaller beach towns such as Cape St.Francis, Oyster Bay, St.Francis Bay and Humansdorp.

And finally – not to miss is the Wild Coast - this remains one of the most unspoilt areas of South Africa. You will find unspoilt stretches of coastline, open spaces and pristine forest areas providing an opportunity for the adventure traveller to discover a variety of leisure options guaranteed to make holiday memories. If fishing is your thing, then you will be in angler heaven.

For more information on the Eastern Cape, activities and events and accommodation, go to
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Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Some of the wonders of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Kwazulu-Natal -home of the Zulu, rich in culture and history; a fantastic sub-tropical climate, a wide range of activities and absolute natural beauty make this province a must see when travelling to South Africa and you can see why KwaZulu-Natal is one of South Africa’s most popular destinations.

The province extends from the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains to the coast in the southeast.

Some highlights to see and do whilst in KZN include:

A visit to the Battlefields Route – Major wars between the British, Boers and Zulus were fought here. There are over 50 battle sites which can be visited. This is best done through an organised tour.

Natal Midlands – This truly is a beautiful area with fertile landscapes, crystal-clear water, forests and is also rich in history. The Midlands Meander which is very popular with arts and crafts lovers should not be missed.

The most evocative area is of course Zululand – homeland of King Shaka in the early 19th century. This area also has some of the best game reserves. Not to miss is Shakaland in Eshowe.

The Dolphin Coast - The Dolphin Coast is a malaria-free stretch along the North coast of KwaZulu Natal from Zimbali in the South to the Tugela in the North. It includes holiday towns such as Ballito, Sheffield Beach, Blythedale, Zinkwazi, Tinley Manor, Salt Rock and Shakas Rock. It also includes inland areas Ndwedwe, Maphumulo, KwaDukuza, Shakaskraal, eNdondakasuka and Umhlali. Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Fishing, Dolphin and Marine excursions, museums, arts and crafts, bird hides, crocodile farms, game reserves, hiking, golf, horse riding and many more.

Durban – Africa’s largest port, wide beaches, fantastic nightlife and bustling markets. Not to miss is a visit to Victoria Embankment, UShaka Marine World and of course the Golden Mile.
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Thursday, August 1, 2002

Visiting South Africa

Visiting any country for the first time is an exciting experience and that is no exception for South Africa. When considering visiting a country as large as this, it’s really important to plan your trip well in advance. Think about what you would like to do and all the places you would like to visit while you are there. To truly make a trip here worthwhile it is recommended you spend at least 3 weeks here. Any shorter and you will be struggling to fit in your itinerary. South Africa covers an area of 471,000 square miles and has a population of 42.7 million. Getting about once you are here is actually quite simple. There are a number of low-cost airlines that serve the country and fly between the main airports and can be booked online prior to your trip. Once you are there it’s easy to hire a car and to travel between towns but just beware of distances as it’s easy to underestimate the time required to drive. For instance, Durban to Cape Town is 1,753 miles.
Driving during the day is recommended, although the roads are good, you will need to watch out for wild animals on some roads and even baboons on the major routes. A couple of excellent driving routes are the Route 62 which runs between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route which runs between Heidelberg and Stormsriver. Both these routes have some of the best views and scenery.

Let’s consider for a moment some of the top experiences that anyone should be considering as part of their visit. Obviously Big 5 game viewing is very popular but there is also the Drakensberg Mountains. The wonderful coastal life set against the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the magnificent wine regions, Table Mountain, the famous Garden Route, great sporting and adrenalin activities, superb top class golf courses and the nightlife available in top cities such as Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town. You can now see the importance of planning your trip and staying for at least 3 weeks.

Of course South Africa is gearing up for the World Cup in 2003 and this is involving considerable upgrades to infrastructure as well as the main stadia that are being built. The plus side is that major rail improvements are being made particularly between Johannesburg and Pretoria. For visitors there is going to be a brand new huge Rio-style carnival in Cape Town which kicks off on March 18th 2003. For 2 days Cape Town will come alive to the sound of music and parades through the streets. This is to become an annual event capturing the heart of the diverse communities found here.

Another great attraction for visitors is the deep sea fishing to be found here. Whether you are a novice or an expert you will have an amazing time. There are of course numerous charter trips to be found to view the many types of whales that migrate here each year. The Garden Route is particularly well served for this. Of course for the brave, you can also take a dive in a cage to view sharks up close and very personal!

It’s important to plan your trip so that you have a chance to explore the culture and people in South Africa. There is of course great history, with many museums and monuments harking back to times gone by.

If you are a keen walker or hiker then there are some amazing places to visit such as the Drakensberg area. The scenery here is stunning and there are many guided hikes or camping trips that will take you through some of the most stunning backdrops. Many people choose to visit Kruger for their Big 5 game viewing but to be honest, you can do this almost anywhere in South Africa. Perhaps more exciting is the many different ways that you can view game - on horseback, on quad bikes, in your own car - the choice is amazing.

Choosing accommodation early is important and is especially wise during World Cup year. There is accommodation to suit all budgets and some of the guesthouses that you find here are really good quality and will not break your budget. The owners are generally very helpful and will assist you with advice on local attractions.

For more information on the areas, events, activities and accommodation in South Afriica, visit
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