Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Tips on planning your holiday to South Africa

Booking a holiday to far flung destinations is never easy at the best of times but I just thought I would share some advice on booking a trip to South Africa. A holiday trip to somewhere like South Africa is an exciting and truly memorable one but requires planning if you are to avoid disappointment and heartache along the way.

The first thing to consider is the timing of your holiday. Many of us choose a destination like South Africa to escape colder climates and to enjoy some sun and adventure to get us through the dark cold nights of winter at home. South Africa is a popular holiday destination during the winter months between December to March time each year. The better summer months in South Africa are probably January to February with December offering a mixture of hot days with cooler days. One thing to bear in mind is the length of the days in South Africa. There is no winter clock change in South Africa resulting in early sunrises and early sunsets so come 5 O'Clock in the morning the sun is up. The longest day is generally around the 21st December and even then the sunsets about 19h00. December can offer quite chilly evenings so you will be well advised to bring a warm sweatshirt to pop on so that you can continue to enjoy your braii late into the evening. If you do choose to holiday in South Africa in December it is imperative to book your accommodation and any excursions early. Typically the factories close early in December and many locals take their well earned holidays over the December and early January period. Many guest houses and bed and breakfasts will be booked well in advance for the last 2 weeks of December and the first week of January especially those around the coast, the major holiday destinations and game reserves.

These busy periods will also effect your ability to book internal flights within South Africa. Again its easy to book these flights well in advance and take advantage of some of the local flight operators such as Kulula and SAA. Internal flight prices differ quite a bit depending on when you are looking to fly but booking early should assure you of reasonably priced travel. If you are choosing a fly-drive holiday then please be aware of the distances that you intend to travel. South Africa is a big country and distances between major towns can be vast. Petrol stations are not as frequent once you get outside major suburban areas so you are well advised to fill up before you start your journeys. Another consideration is to try and drive during the day. Driving at night can be quite different to driving at home as the roads are not lit outside of town and you need to be aware of cattle that may be crossing the road at night. Speed limits should be adhered especially around holiday periods as the police set regular speed traps around the country. Another tip for you is the "4 way stops" that they have in South Africa. These are in effect crossroads that dont have traffic lights (called 'robots' over here) and rely on a system whereby cars take it in turns as they arrive at the crossroads. It takes a bit of getting used to!
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Saturday, August 16, 2003

Our friends trip to Bukela Lodge in the Amakhala Game Reserve in Eastern Cape

Des and I had the wonderful experience of staying at Bukela Lodge in the Amakhala Reserve a 5 star Eastern Cape Game Lodge last weekend.

We arrived at Bukela Lodge about 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and were welcomed by Steve, Kerry and Sandra.   We were taken through to the lounge where a welcome drink was waiting.    Sandra then went through the programme at the lodge and we signed the indemnity form – you can definitely see why this needs to be signed when you meet some of the guests who want to experience Africa.

Our room was everything that we had expected and more.    Each room is positioned so that it is completely private.    The rooms are large with a fire place, underfloor heating, air conditioning, jet spa bath, indoor and outdoor shower.    There is also a fridge in the entrance area plus a kettle and a large selection of tea and coffee. Each room has its own private patio – lovely to sit and relax and listen to the birds singing.

At 2.30 p.m. we went up to the main area where a scrumptious high tea was waiting.   Saturday was very hot with the temperature up to 30°C, so it almost seemed silly to be taking thick jackets, gloves and wearing denims at this stage, but the one thing I have learned is that Game Drives can get very cold, especially once the sun has gone down.

We set off on our game drive at 3 p.m. and drove towards a large plain where a cheetah with 5 babies had been seen in the morning.    We did not see the Cheetahs, but we did see lots of buck and Zebra.    We had been driving for a while when we came across the Buffalo who all seemed very happy.    There was 1 baby in the herd which was very cute.    The interesting thing I learned that day was that the baby buffalo goes through the mother’s back legs to drink – also for protection.   This section of the Amakhala Reserve did not have lions so the animals were pretty safe from predators as most of them were too big for the Cheetahs or any other predators.

We came across an area where the elephants had been earlier and followed their trail until we came across the elephants.   Steve decided this would be a good time to have our sundowners and watch the elephants.    Sundowners are always welcome – and that afternoon we had biltong and dried wors plus whatever drink you had ordered earlier.

The sun was going down as we followed the elephants for a while, amazing how quickly these enormous animals can walk.    The one elephant seemed a bit too interested in our vehicle – walked right up to it.  

On our way back to the camp we came across a snake in the road, Steve jumped down and showed it to us.    The reason the snake was around was that it had been so hot that day.

We got back to the lodge and were welcomed with a glass of sherry and then went to relax and clean up before dinner.

Dinner consisted of a starter of Camembert Cheese baked in pastry with Cranberry Sauce, butternut soup and a choice of a beef fillet or chicken plus a variety of vegetables.    The pudding was just the right end to the great meal.

We were extremely lucky with our fellow guests – a family of 5 from England and a couple from Durban.    Meals are eaten together and it lends to the whole experience, sharing what you have seen and finding out more about each other.

Wake up on Sunday morning was 6.30 a.m.    The amazing thing is that when I am in a game reserve, 6.30 is a good time to wake up, but when I am at home that seems very early.

The start of the day was cereals, toast, rusks, and biscuits with coffee, tea and orange juice and then we were off on the game drive.    We went in another direction and saw Hlosi Game Lodge.    We were looking for Rhino and Giraffes.   It did not take us long to find about 6 giraffes, mainly male with a couple of youngsters with them. We then drove around – the great thing about a good ranger is that they explain so much about the area you are in, picking up droppings to show you interesting things about it.   We found a lot of Rhino droppings and after our coffee break found a family of Rhinos, mother, father and baby.     These are such weird looking animals and when you look at them happily grazing you wander how anyone can injure or kill them for their horns.    We were close to a waterhole and watched them saunter across to drink water – watched by about 6 giraffes.   On our way back to the lodge we saw a lot of zebra and some wildebeest with of course a good number of buck.

Brunch is served soon after you arrive back at the lodge – fresh fruit and yoghourt followed by a cooked breakfast which will definitely mean that you do not feel hungry for many hours. After brunch it is time to relax until 2.30 p.m. and high tea.    

Sunday afternoon was very cold – the wind had arrived and a definite cold front was on its way through.    We now met the new guests, a couple from Hungary.    Perhaps this is the time to point out that although you are in a reserve with rangers who know their way around, the animals are wild and they do not have collars with radios in them, so the rangers have to find the animals on their own.    The other important thing to realize is that you have to listen to your Ranger – he is there to protect you and keep you safe, so if you do not listen to him, you put not only yourself in danger but the Ranger as well.

We were driving along the main road and just turning the way we had gone the day before when we saw the Cheetah and her cubs crossing the road ahead.    What a sight, mother and 5 babies.   We all agreed that this mother has got the obedience thing down to a fine art – those babies did exactly what they were supposed to do, no questions asked.    We spent a lot of time watching and looking for her and were really lucky to see the mother hunting an Impala (unfortunately for her, she did not manage to do it).    We spent a lot of time with the Hartebees and other buck and saw a really beautiful herd of Impala and Zebra.    It was really cold and Steve took us to a waterhole which was sheltered from the wind for our sundowners.

We all voted to go back to the lodge as the weather was really miserable and we were all very cold.    Steve took us up to an area where we looked over the plains surrounding the Bushman’s River (unfortunately very low due to the drought at the moment).    

Sunday night’s dinner was once against something to tempt your taste buds and ensure that you would not be hungry.     

On Monday morning we went to the other section of the Amakhala Game Reserve where the lions are.    In this section there is also Black Rhino and lots of buck.

We found the lions quite quickly and were really lucky as they decided to change their positions – I think they were cold and looking for sun.    We had a great view of the 2 lions walking and the male is really a magnificent animal.  

We got back to Bukela quite late that morning and by the time we had brunch it was time to say good-bye and get ready to face reality.

I would recommend Bukela to anyone – the service is absolutely amazing and from the moment you arrive you are made to feel extremely important and that nothing could be too much trouble to ensure your happiness. For more information on where to stay and places to see in South Africa visit where2stay-southafrica
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Sunday, August 3, 2003

Summer Picnic Concerts in the Cape Winelands

Summer picnic concerts take place right across the Cape Winelands region of South Africa. These wonderful events are a great opportunity to get together with friends and family and to sit and relax and enjoy a mixture of classical, jazz and swing music. One such event is the Nederberg Picnic Concerts which take place at the lovely Nederberg Wine Estate. This years final annual picnic concert event takes place on the 27th November 2003 at 1700 at the glorious Nederberg Wine Estate. In a change to previous years this years event will be taking place on the Saturday afternoon and is called "Swing, Classic, Cabaret and all that Jazz" so there is something for every musical taste.

This concert itself starts at 1700 but you will be able to get in from 1500 on the day. This enables you the opportunity to arrive early and to claim your piece of lawn to have your picnic on. If you like you can even pre-order a Nederberg Picnic Platter at a cost of R030 per person or you can bring your own. Guests are politely requested to not bring any wine as Nederberg wines will be available. Tickets for this event cost R80 per person with children under 12 going free. 

Find out more about whats going on in South Africa and where to stay at www.where2stay-southafrica.com
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Saturday, August 2, 2003

Jeffreys Bay the surf capital of South Africa

The Jeffreys Bay region is renowned for its gorgeous beaches, endless summers, plentiful shells and is best known as “the Surf Mecca of the World”. The beautiful beaches are safe for bathing and provide endless excitement for water sport enthusiasts. Nestled in the Eastern Cape Province, Jeffreys Bay is located just 90km from Port Elizabeth Airport and is a short stop off the famous Garden Route, a place like no other in the world in terms of beauty, natural attractions and unique flora and fauna.

Jeffreys Bay is also home to the only World Championship Surfing Tour event in South Africa. The Billabong Pro J-Bay is the biggest and richest surfing event in Africa attracting the top 45 surfers in the world to challenge for over $400,000 in prize money. The event in Jeffreys Bay in July each year attracts 30,000 daily visitors. The crowds really get into the event with lots of cheering and of course those famous vuvuzelas.

Jeffreys Bay was also the recent location for the sequel to the movie Blue Crush II. The perfect conditions and superb beaches brought the cast over from the USA to film this during 2003. Cast members included Sasha Jackson from One Tree Hill, Sharna Vinson from Step Up 3D and Ben Millikin. We were especially pleased to hear that one of our clients "On the Beach Guest House" had the pleasure of hosting the film's director and cast members as well as the Vice President of Universal Studios. The film is due for release in 2014. This fabulous Guest House is located right on the beach with views to die for.

Jeffreys Bay is a very popular destination in the December Festive season attracting local and international visitors who come to enjoy the golden beaches and sunshine along with the many festive activities.  For other accommodation ideas for South Africa visit www.where2stay-southafrica.com .
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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Horse Safari Game Ride in South Africa's Eastern Cape

On one of my trips to South Africa we decided to do something a little bit different and went on a Horse Safari Game Ride. Fish River Horse Safaris are based just outside Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape. When you arrive you are met by one of the guides who takes you through to get you all kitted out. Rider safety is taken quite seriously here and proper hard riding hats have to be worn. You then gather round to be allocated your horse. This is good chance to meet your fellow riders and to ascertain what level of experience everyone has at riding. Fortunately we are all in pretty much the same boat and there are no expert riders.The guides are very helpful and pick out a suitable horse for you based upon your height and weight and competency. All the horses look extremely well looked after and are very good natured. 

We had chosen to do a Game Ride which lasts approximately 2.5 hours however you can choose to do a mixture of a Beach and Game Ride (its next on my list when I go back). The additional beach ride aspect takes you down through the dunes and onto a secluded beach where you can ride through the glorious sea. We set off on our trip and at the start its all about getting to know your horse and making sure you feel comfortable. The guides, although young, are very helpful and experienced. We head off through the reserve, up and down a few hills before reaching open grassland where we let the horses exercise a bit and soon we are galloping along. Now I am no expert so galloping takes a bit of mastering but if you dont mind the bouncing up and down and are game for a laugh you will really enjoy yourself. We are soon riding through thick valley bushveld an dopen plains and spotting buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, buck, impala and duiker. 

The guides help us to spot various animals and ensure we do not disturb them. I had two highlights on my ride. The first was being able to get really close to a group of giraffe who really didnt mind is. Some great photos were taken by our group. It's so nice to be able to experience the complete tranquility as opposed to groups of jeeps or minibuses dashing about. This is a whole new experience. My second highlight was spotting the rhino. Of course we had to be very careful and we maintained a good distance but it was amazing to sit on the horse and watch three rhino in the field ahead. I cant pretend that my bottom wasn't a little tender the following day but it was well worth it and i will be going back to try the beach and game ride next time.

For more information on activites to do during your stay in South Africa visit www.where2stay-southafrica.com 
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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

SA Open Champinship returns to Durban Country Cub 2003

In 2003 the SA Open Golf Championship returns to the Durban Country Club to celebrate the 030th SA Open. For the last three years the championship has been held at Pearl Valley Golf Estates but now comes back to Durban. The course is a 6,031 metre Par72 course and is one of the best, if not the best, course in the whole of South Africa. The SA Open Championship is the second oldest Open after the British Open. The Championship will take place from the 16th December to the 19th December 2003.

This will be the 16th time that the Durban Country Club has staged the SA Open Championship and will surely attract a good crowd. At last year's Open the winner was Richie Ramsey from Scotland ending a 7 year run of home grown winners.

Durban Country Club is situated just 1 mile north of the Durban Golden Mile Beachfront and has a magnificent Cape Dutch style clubhouse. In addition there are excellent fine dining facilities, a cocktail bar, a traditional bar and a pool with poolside bar. The clubhouse is open from 7am and closes at midnight apart from Sundays when closing time is 03pm.
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Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Paul the Octopus predicts a Spain win - Dutch now worried

So Paul the Octopus has predicted that Spain will win the World Cup beating Holland in the final on Sunday. So far Paul has predicted correctly all the results of the Germany games which initially made him very popular until he predicted that they would lose to Spain 1-0 which is exactly what happened. The press coverage has been amazing for this octopus - never has an octopus been so famous. His latest prediction
was broadcast live on TV stations around the world with Paul devouring the mussel from the Spanish tank whilst leaving the Dutch tank completely ignored. Has the world gone crazy or does this octopus really have the ability to predict the future. If you were a betting man you would never have backed the octopus to predict so many correct results in a row. Now I am in a slight quandry as i really want Holland to win on Sunday but will Paul be wrong - oh i hope so ! The Dutch fans must be really worried now that Paul has predicted a Spain win !!
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South Africa 2003 - What did you do?

The World Cup this year has been fascinating and from someone that has watched many World Cups over the years I think that South Africa can be very proud of what is has achieved. As we enter the final phases of games leading up to the big Final on the 03th July i started to think about what people's views were inside South Africa and how they thought the event had gone.

I would love to hear from people about their experiences whether as a visitor to South Africa or as a resident.

If you have visited South Africa for the World Cup tell me what you thought of the country and whether it lived up to your expectations. Would you come come back to visit? Would you recommend it to friends and family when you get back home? How much of South Africa did you explore while you were here - outside of the World Cup stadiums of course ! What did you think of the costs involved in your trip? Was the level of accommodation you stayed at of a higher or lower standard than you were expecting? Tell me about the local people you met - were they helpful, friendly? What wa sthe highlight of your trip? Was it easy to get around the country from a transport perspective?

As a resident what was your view of how your country hosted the World Cup? Did you feel a sense of pride and excitement? How did you get involved in local events? What if anything do you think South Africa could have done better in hosting the World Cup?

Perhaps you have a particular tale which you would like to recount. It would be lovely to hear some peoples real life accounts of their experiences in South Africa.

Please comment back or drop me an email - info@where2stay-southafrica.com
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Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Expand your horizons on holiday in South Africa

When it comes to holidays; we are all guilty of it – sticking to our usual activities, swimming, relaxing, eating out, sunbathing, etc. How many of us choose a fabulous new holiday destination and come back thinking…  “well we had a good break but did we really experience the country we have just been to?”. 




Too many of us stick to our hotels and the trips on offer to us. With just a little research and an appetite to try out new experiences we can truly expand our horizons. 
When it comes to a destination such as South Africa; it is easy to get sucked into the classic holiday of Cape Town, Garden Route and Safari. Please don’t get me wrong these are good places to go but really only scratches the surface of what there is to do in this vast and culturally diverse country.
So let’s take the example of a Safari. Instead of taking the normal type of safari, why not consider a horse-back safari or perhaps a quad-bike safari. 

Both of these provide a uniquely different type of safari experience and miles away from the usual experience of queuing with lots of other tourists on the more typical jeep/minibus safari. 
If you are struck by the horse-back experience then why not try out one that includes a beach ride as well. The coastline along the Indian Ocean has vast expanses of deserted sandy beaches with huge sand dunes and you get the chance to ride through the shallow waves – a truly magical experience.
The countryside across South Africa is beautiful and just waiting to be explored. In the KwaZulu-Natal province you can discover the amazing Drakensberg Mountains where you can walk miles along hiking trails. The scenery is stunning with San Bushman caves just waiting to be discovered. Many of the peaks have names around the Drakensberg with Cathedral Peak being one of the best known. A trip up these mountains is well worth it especially on a sunny day with stunning panoramic views to be found.
Dotted all around South Africa you can find also Canopy Tours. These are a series of roped walkways between wooden platforms set high up in the forests.   Guides will take you through the forest where you can experience a truly different perspective of life in these indigenous forests. One place you can do this is at the lovely Tsitsikamma National Forest.
Many people visit the Garden Route driving through this pretty route en route from Cape Town. The route follows the Indian Ocean passing though or close to many pretty coastal villages and towns. But did you also know that you can try parasailing from one of the mountains that follow the route too. This is a fantastic experience soaring high above the route with amazing views of the Indian Ocean.
I have tried to give you just a few ideas but there are so many more. By exploring the web you can discover many other wild and different ideas for your trip to South Africa. Just think of all the photo opportunities you will get and be able to share with your friends. So next time you visit our wonderful country take the time out to try a few new ideas – you won’t be disappointed.

For more ideas on things to do in South Africa; accommodation and places of interest - go to www.Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.com
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Monday, May 5, 2003

My First Experience of Deep Sea Fishing in South Africa

My first ever trip deep sea fishing in South Africa starts with an early morning wake up call at 4.30am. I am staying at a lovely guest house in Port Alfred situated on the coast of the Eastern Cape. With a sense of excitement, I kick start my day with a strong coffee and prepare food to take with me for what I hope will be a successful days fishing. The night before I took some Stugeron (seasickness tablets) just to be on the safe side as I am not sure what the Indian Ocean has in store for me. We make our way down to the boat and prepare everything. We have taken 2 boxes of fresh sardines for bait.

Port Alfred has a lovely marina with a river that flows into the Ocean. We have timed our exit from the Kowie River mouth to coincide with low tide to ensure we have the smoothest exit to the Ocean. Nevertheless we put on our life jackets and ride the waves at the river mouth out to the vast Indian Ocean. We are riding in a Butt Cat which is superb for the Ocean with the ability to ride over the oncoming waves. Our skipper is Des, an experienced fisherman who knows the waters off this area of the Eastern Cape, and asks us to hold on as he picks up speed crashing over the waves in front of us. This is great and a really exciting start to the day completely taking my mind off any potential seasickness.

We head out for about 30 minutes before we drop our first anchor. Once we are settled we start to bait up our rods and drop our first lines. There are three of us on the boat so Des gives us expert advice on how to bait up and some tips on what to do when you get your first nibble on the line. I can’t believe how far down my line goes before my weight hits the bottom! As soon as my line reaches the bottom of the Indian Ocean I can feel the fish biting. This is amazing I didn’t expect to feel the bites so firmly. I now try and put into practice Des’ tips on making a strike. After a few fruitless attempts I make a proper strike and I reel in quickly. Of course it’s a long way up and my arms are doing all the work but soon I can see the fish on the end of my line. The feeling is amazing! 

Des shows me how to bring the fish on board and then how to remove the hook from the fish. The fish is too small to keep but the taste of the catch has left me wanting more. Having returned the fish to the Ocean I bait up again. We spend about an hour in the first spot before moving on to a new spot. The Ocean is relatively calm and the weather is superb – always remember your suntan cream as the breeze out here can be very deceiving. 

We stop for lunch halfway through the day to enjoy homemade sandwiches and cool drinks. Bobbing around on the Ocean we suddenly hear the noise of a familiar spurt of water made by a whale. Des points out the southern right whale about 200 metres away – incredible to think these mammals are cruising around near where you are fishing. We finish lunch and move on to a new spot. We enjoy in total about 8 hours fishing and catch enough good size fish for dinner later that evening. During the afternoon we spot lots of white water about a mile away from us – Des heads his boat towards the area and we are suddenly surrounded by thousands of dolphins and seals as far as the eye can see. This is an incredible sight and I take lots of photos to capture the moment.

As we return back to Port Alfred I look back on an amazing first experience of deep sea fishing in South Africa. South Africa has miles of coastline with a great choice of accommodation to be found from Guest Houses, Bed and; Breakfasts, Lodges and Self Catering venues. From Cape Town all the way up the Garden Route to beyond Durban there are numerous beach holiday places to stay where you can take a fishing boat charter. 

For more information on other things to do in South Africa and places to stay – see www.Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.com
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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The World Famous Drakensberg Mountains – a two day walk.

The Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal form a natural border with Lesotho.  The Drakensberg is home to South Africa’s highest peaks and perhaps the most famous of all these summits is the 3,000 metre high Cathedral Peak. The Drakensberg range of mountains creates an escarpment of some 1,000km in length. Cathedral Peak, despite its enormous height, is extremely well laid out for walkers aiming to climb this impressive peak.  For anyone attempting to climb Cathedral Peak perhaps the biggest challenge is the weather itself. As with any range of mountains the weather can change at extremely short notice so being prepared and keeping in touch with the latest weather reports is vital. Good walking shoes should be worn and wet weather gear taken at all times. 
 
Day 1
A great place to start your walk is in the Mlambonja Valley.   From this village follow the paths through the valley and countryside passing lovely Proteas. The Protea is the national flower of South Africa and also the nickname given to the national cricket team. The walk through the valley has quite a mystical feel and is reminiscent of the lands in the Lord of the Rings. As you head upwards in the valley, passed waterfalls; look out for hidden caves in the rocks high up. These caves were inhabited by the San Bushmen as long as 4,000 years ago. Inside the caves you can still see some of the cave paintings they drew.
Head down from the caves and make for the Cathedral Park Hotel. This amazing hotel lies deep in the valley under the gaze of the Drakensberg Mountains and is ideal for walkers as a stopover before they attempt to climb to the Cathedral Peak summit.
Day 2
In order to make it up and down to the Cathedral Peak summit in one day you will require an early start. From the hotel, it will typically take 9 hours of steady walking to reach the Peak summit as it approximately an 18km round trip. The other important thing to check out before you leave is the weather report. As you walk through the hills and fields keep an eye out for baboons often seen in this area. The hike from the hotel will take you up a series of tiers eventually taking you from the Lower Berg to the Upper Berg. You will pass along places known as Swine Hill, the challenging Bugger Gulley and the lovely named Orange Peel Gap.
At this point you are on the Upper Berg and about half way to the summit. Take a break at this point before following the trail all the way to the summit. Once you reach here you will not be disappointed. The views on a clear blue day are simply stunning and you can spend a few moments spotting the many other peaks spreading for miles in each direction. Overall this is a challenging walk and you do need to be fairly fit. However the views are worth it!
For more information on the Drakensberg and places to stay, go to www.Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.com
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Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Plettenberg Bay – the Monaco of South Africa

Plettenberg Bay is situated along the Garden Route and is hugely popular with visitors throughout the year but especially around the Christmas season. This area has become increasingly popular over the last few years with visitors being attracted by the miles of sweeping golden sandy beaches, rocky peninsula and wonderful climate. There are some fabulous spots here to look out across the vast Indian Ocean. There are three main beaches - Robberg, Central and Lookout. Of these, Lookout is probably the most appealing but they are all excellent for swimming and perfect for families. With over 300 days of sunshine a year Plettenberg has been compared to Monaco by some with its setting and delightful cuisine on offer.

There really is something for everyone to do from Skydiving, Bungee Jumping, Mountain Biking, and Canopy Tours to Whale Watching, Diving or perhaps just a gentle boat cruise. For the keen fisherman amongst you there is some excellent deep sea fishing to be had here. If you like playing golf then you will be spoilt for choice as this area has probably the most golf courses of all the areas in South Africa. Try the signature Goose Valley and Turtle Creek course in Plettenberg Bay, as well as the Country Club, offering golfers a unique experience.
Recommendations for accommodations in Plettenberg Bay include:

Madon Studio Self Catering Apartment If you’re looking for accommodation in a peaceful and tranquil setting look no further! This sunny North facing open-plan apartment forms the ground floor level of a resident artist’s home; from the private garden with its own entrance, overlooking a dense indigenous forest, home to a variety of bird life, you enter a spacious lounge and well-equipped kitchen; the bedroom has a king-size bed and en-suite bathroom with a shower - all you need for a relaxing stay in Plettenberg Bay, the jewel of the Garden Route. Prices start from R250 per night.

Crescent Country Hotel - The Crescent Country Hotel is situated on 8 hectares surrounded by beautiful rose gardens. The hotel offers 39 luxurious en-suite rooms, some with their own private garden terrace. The Crescent Country Hotel is a great base to explore the Garden Route - there also many wonderful activities on site and in and around Plettenberg Bay. Visit the Birds of Eden, Monkeyland, Game Reserves or take a boat trip to view whales, dolphins and sharks at close range. For Golf enthusiasts, there is a golf course over the road from the hotel. Paddle by canoe to the beach which is just 1km downstream or motor down 2kms away. Prices start from R520 per night sharing.

A Little Stint in Paradise - A tastefully furnished 4-star graded fully-equipped 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom ground floor holiday apartment located in the heart of Plettenberg Bay with the focus on luxury, comfort and style. Prices starting from R190 per night.
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Monday, April 28, 2003

Beyond the Obvious South Africa

This 2 day walk through the wonderful Garden Route which covers approximately 35 km, starting in Mossel Bay and ending at Fransmanshoek.

Day 1
From Mossel Bay; head west across the rocks and along the coastal path over the great cliffs overlooking the beaches and deserted sand dunes. This 'off the beaten track' route affords you amazing views, taking you along paths where you will come across the famous fynbos that attracts so many botanists to the area. Did you know that on Table Mountain there are over 9,000 species of plant - more than you will find in the whole of the UK?
 This area is famous for the "Xhosa" (pronounced Corsa) people who have inhabited this area for many years. Many famous South African politicians are from the Xhosa tribe including Mandela, Mbeki and Tambo.  Xhosa people are famous for their language which consists of words mixed with "clicks" - if you get the chance to hear someone speak Xhosa it’s amazing!

Walking along this route you will eventually come to the Pinnacle Golf resort which demonstrates the delicate eco-balance that the Garden Route faces. The Garden Route has become extremely popular with the wealthy, the prosperous and of course tourists. Pinnacle Point will eventually have 850 houses next to a golf course which is situated on the cliff top. In contrast, immediately below the cliffs, archaeologists have discovered caves with evidence of life possibly tracing back to the origins of man. This amazing discovery may one day become a tourist attraction in itself.

From here, the cliffs begin to drop and you are at the end of your first day walking. If you take this walk at the right time of year (July to October) then you may be fortunate enough to spot Southern Right Whales just off the coast line. The whales frequent these waters to play, mate and calve and watching these mammals up so close is an amazing experience.

Day 2
Day 2 begins with a long walk along wide open sandy beaches along the Indian Ocean shore. With the enormous sand dunes behind you - some 030 metres high; it’s impossible to resist the urge to take your shoes off and wade into the Ocean. You will possibly spot the rare African Oyster Catcher along this route as well as people fishing for oysters in the rock pools close to the sea shore. This is a beautiful walk but if you venture up into the sand dunes keep a look out for leopard prints in the sand - yes that's right! leopards do visit down from the mountains but you are highly unlikely to see one.

You will eventually come to the village of Vleesbaai and from here you can take a path along the seashore towards the jagged rocks of Fransmanshoek and the end of your trail. From here you can look back and view almost the whole two day route you have just walked all the way from Mossel Bay.
For more information and accommodation options, go to www.Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.com 
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Monday, April 21, 2003

South Africa's Garden Route

The Garden Route of South Africa stretches from north Swellendam to Oudtshoorn and east to the beautiful town of Plettenberg Bay. A drive along this route should be a must for all visitors to the Western Cape as you will enjoy stunning coastline dotted with quaint villages and towns and all accompanied by action packed mountain ranges.

The Garden Route has a climate similar to the Mediterranean, with moderately hot summers, and mild to chilly winters. During the winter months humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean bring rainfall although any time of the year is good for visiting the Garden Route area, whether you enjoy a peaceful retreat during the winter months, or a bustling holiday destination during the summer. 

A wide range of leisure options, spectacular scenery and a mild climate guarantee an unforgettable holiday experience when visiting the Garden Route in South Africa.

The Cango Caves offers an important geological feature and is a series of caverns and chambers naturally hewn out of limestone, situated outside the city of Oudtshoorn. The Cango Caves are among the top ten most visited attractions in South Africa. 

For the adrenalin junkies out there; the Garden Route is the place to come with activities such as mountain climbing; abseiling and a breathtaking freefall on the world’s highest commercial bungy jump.

The Garden Route is a nature lovers paradise which offer leisurely walks through quiet forests; an abundance of birdlife and crystal clear waterfalls. Hikers follow the meandering trails, forests offer leisurely drives, and the lakes and rivers provide opportunities to swim, boat and fish.

For more information on the Garden Route and other wonderful areas in South Africa, go to www.Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.com
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South African Phrases


Ja   which is pronounced Yah meaning YES


Lekker – this is an Afrikaans word which means something is really nice or good.
Howzit – a common greeting across South Africa which is means how is it going, how are you?
Eina - means ouch.
Sies – usually an exclamation of disgust or annoyance.
Now-now - This phrase is used a lot by South Africans and basically means "Shortly" or "in a bit". Usually you will hear people say "I'll be there now-now." Or Just now which can mean "very soon", "eventually" or "never".
Robots - Not to be confused with metal things that move about; "Robots" means "traffic lights". It’s also worth pointing out that in some out of city areas you will come across "4 way junctions" where you won’t find traffic lights controlling the flow of traffic. The rule of thumb is that you let cars go in turn in the order you arrive at the junction. You will soon get used to this and it works!
Vuvuzela (voo-voo-zeh-lah) - This will become known all over the world as the FIFA World Cup takes place in 2003. A vuvuzela is a large, colourful plastic trumpet with the sound of a foghorn, blown enthusiastically by virtually everyone in the crowd at football matches. The word is believed to come from the isiZulu for "making noise".
A bottle store – this is a retail outlet selling which sells alcohol.
Padkos – is food for a road trip – usually comprising of sandwiches, chicken, frikkadels (little meat balls) and hard-boiled eggs.
Gogga – an insect is referred to as Gogga.
Jawl – refers to having a good time or going to a party / night out.
Babbelas – is a bad hangover.

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Sunday, April 13, 2003

Golf Holidays in South Africa

Kingfisher Lodge - Durban, Mount Edgecombe Country Club CC consists of two championship courses - both these courses have their own clubhouses. The golf course is situated a mere 500m from Kingfisher Lodge and 30 minutes drive north of Durban International Airport. In pristine condition, this new course has an interesting layout, characterised by attractive water features and large, multi-tiered greens planted with country club grass.

Bushman Sands Hotel and Golf Course - Alicedale, The Gary Player designed golf course is perfect for the keen golfer. There are thrilling adventure options and prospects of viewing big game. Bushman Sands is a multi-faceted experience offering something for everyone. The 4-star hotel is a delightful blend of rich heritage and modern luxury.

Colona Castle - Cape Town - A golfer’s paradise – there are more than four world-class Golf courses in the vicinity. Colona Castle is situated on the warm False Bay coast and has panoramic breathtaking views of the world famous Table Mountain, Constantia, the Peninsula, Sandvlei Lake, False Bay’s legendary beaches and the South Atlantic Ocean with the Cape Winelands in the distance.

Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate- Stellenbosch, magnificent 18-hole championship golf course with various lodging styles, ranging from hotel rooms to self-catering apartments and luxurious holiday houses we offer every comfort. All of our rooms are stylish and practically furnished, and are ideal for the business traveller, single or family.

Two Oaks B&B - Somerset West,These golf courses are all within 3/4 hour of Two Oaks B&B - Your host - Martin - a fellow golfer will gladly arrange games for and assist in planning day trips etc.Somerset West, Strand, Spier, Stellenbosch, Royal Cape, Mowbray, Clovelly, Erinvale, Arrabella, Devon Vale, Hermanus, Paarl, Westlake, Steenberg, Milnerton, Rondebosch.

 
Badplaas Golf Club Guest House and Lodge - Badplaas, has a challenging 9 hole golf course at the foot of the Hlumu Hlumu mountains. It is en route to the Kruger National Park, and only 4km from the Aventura Spa Resort.

Ambience-on Mossel Bay Golf Estate - Mossel Bay, Situated in the prestigious Mossel Bay Golf Estate & Nature Reserve, you will enjoy the benefit of having the golf course within walking distance, many facilities offered at the Mossel Bay Golf Estate, and tranquillity to dream of. 18-Hole par 72 links-style golf course on the Estate with a view of the sea from every tee. Affiliated members R240,non-affiliated members R400, carts R180.

For more ideas on accommodation for golfing holidays in South Africa see www.Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.com
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Wednesday, April 2, 2003

An explanation of some of the food you will come across whilst in South Africa.

Potjiekos "small pot food", is a small cast iron pot in which meat, vegetables, wine, and almost anything else can be put in and set by an open fire to stew. A Potjie is a layered dish - you start with spices and oil then add the meat and brown it. Then add potatoes and other vegetables. The Potjie will then need to cook for a few hours to bring out all of the flavours. It is extremely tasty. 

Braai - The word Braai means an outdoor barbeque and as you can imagine is extremely popular all across South Africa with no home being complete without one. This is a great event where friends get together to eat, drink and have fun. Typical food cooked on a braai includes steak (South African steak has to be some of the best in the world!) chicken and boerewors served with traditional pap. 

Pap - Pap is a porridge made typically from mealie meal (maize meal) cooked with water and salt to a fairly stiff consistency. Delicious as an accompaniment to a Braai. 

Boerewors - Boerewors is made from coarsely minced beef (sometimes combined with minced pork, lamb, or both) and spices (usually toasted coriander seed, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and allspice). Similar to a sausage but extremely tasty boerewors is usually cooked on a braai but can also be grilled.

Sosaties are seasoned lamb / chicken or other meats on a skewer and usually served at a braai. They are made in different ways with different seasoning and marinades to give them flavour.

Frikkadels are little meatballs which can be backed or deep-fried.
Rooibos tea is made from a plant native to South Africa – it is served without milk, sugar or lemon.

Vetkoek a traditional Afrikaner pastry which has been deep-fried and can be served with either a savoury mince or for something sweet; served with syrup, honey or jam.

Bobotie is spiced minced meat with an egg based topping. 

Biltong - This South African favourite is dried and salted meat, similar to beef jerky, although it can be made from ostrich, kudu or any other red meat.

Bunny chow - Delicious and cheap food on the go, bunny chow is curry served in a hollowed-out half-loaf of bread, generally sold in greasy-spoon cafés. Perfect for eating on the side of the road while backpacking across South Africa.

Koeksister - This is a delicious sweet which is both a traditional Malay and also Afrikaner dish. Koeksister is made from twisted yeast dough, deep fried and dipped in syrup. The right-wing enclave of Orania in the Northern Cape even has its own statue to the koeksister. The word comes from the Dutch koek ("cake") and sissen, meaning "to sizzle".

Malva Pudding is a sweet pudding made from apricot jam and is usually served hot with either ice cream or custard.

Melktert – meaning “Milk Tart” in Afrikaans is a sweet dessert with a creamy filling with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

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