Thursday, January 30, 2014

Horseback Riding in South Africa

Horseback riding in south africa
There are many amazing things that you can do whilst on holiday in South Africa from whale watching, deep sea fishing, bungee jumping to a horse safari holiday or horseback riding trails. There are a number of companies througout South Africa offering a variety of horseback experiences from 1 to 6 hour beach trails to 2-03 day overnight trails. The great thing is you dont need to be an experienced rider to enjoy the delights of these horseback trails.

From trails through the Overberg region in the Western Cape to riding along the beautifully clean beaches of Walker Bay there are endless choices of places to see and experience. The Walker Bay area is also well known for being the annual breeding ground for the Southern Right Whales and from July to December as well as enjoying one of these horse trails you might even get the chance to see the Whales just off the shore. The horse trails typically will take you through rugged mountain terrain, indigenous forest, via national parks, nature reserves and other scenic routes.

If you are thinking of embarking on one of the longer overnight horse trails you will need to consider what to bring and wear. Our advice is to ensure you have a cap or hat, definitely some rain or sun protection as the weather can fluctuate, a sleeping bag and warm jacket, a change of clothing, a torch and some jodphursand gloves although these can often be hired. In the summer it is worth bringing a swimsuit and dont forget some good shoes or boots.

A great place for a beach horse trail is along the Noordhoek Beach situated just below the southern slopes of Chapman's Peak Drive. This trip is normally a 2 hour horse trail across sand dunes and onto the beach with magnificent views and a chance to trot or cantor along the beaches and through the waves.

Another great place to try horseback riding is up on the Wild Coast where you will find superb beaches, lagoons and the chance to come face to face with zebra and giraffe. Dont worry you wont be coming face to face with any dangerous animals.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Whale Watching in South Africa

South Africa has some of the best Whale Watching opportunities in the World. The Whale season lasts from July through to December each year but the best months are September and October when you are almost guaranteed to see these magnificent creatures lobtailing and breaching. There are a number of excellent vantagepoints along the coastline from Cape Town up to Mossel Bay and beyond where you can admire the whales without you even having to take to the seas. Further up the coast in KwaZulu-Natal you can take boat trips from places such as St.Lucia which go out to sea to catch sight of the whales. Along these waters you are morelikely to spot Humpback and Mincke and the occasional Southern Right Whale.

Cape Town - Some of the best whale watching spots can be found between Muizenberg and Cape Point. Although we can't guarantee you will see whales we do recommend checking out the Southern Right Whales between the middle of August and middle of October. This period is typically the calving season where whales congregate in False Bay to calve. Other whales that you might see are the Humpback and Bryde's whales. False bay is reached via the M3 from Cape Town.

Hermanus - probably the most famous whale watching destination in South Africa with excellent land-based whale watching spots. Check out the Cliff Path that starts at the new harbour in Westcliff and stretches 15km along the shoreline past Walker Bay and on to Grotto Beach. Hermanus even has its own Whale Crier who's job it is to alert visitors to where the whales are by blowing his kelp horn. Hermanus also has a very popular Whale Festival in September each year with lots of food, entertainment as well as the whale watching. Whale watching by boat is strictly controlled with only two licensed boat operators in Hermanus that charge approximately R500 for A 2 hour boat trip.

For all your South Africa Holiday accommodation needs check out
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Our trip to Addo National Elephant Park

We recently had friends over from the UK and we decided to take them to Addo National Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Addo is situated just 60 minutes drive from Port Elizabeth and is home to over 500 elephants, lions, black rhino, buffalo, leopard, zebra, hyena, warthog, a variety of antelope and not forgetting the famous flightless Dung Beetle.

We entered Addo at the Colchester Entrance Gate just off the N2 route. At the entrance it is always worth asking where lion have been spotted that day. This entrance takes you through the newest extension to Addo National Elephant Park which now extends to over 180,000 hectares of land. This Colchester entrance is provided for game viewing in your own vehicle. If you want a guided tour then you will need to enter via the Addo Main Camp section which is on the R342.

As soon as we entered Addo we spotted a Vervet Monkey sitting in a tree which was a great start to our day. The roads here are a mix between tarmac and dirt track but are suitable for most vehicles. The vegetation in southern section of Addo is quite high so you really need to keep your eyes and ears open to try and spot the animals. Travelling around the southern section we spotted zebra, ostrich, buffalo and just a single bull elephant. We came across the bull elephant in the middle of the road about 3 hundred yards infront of us. We stopped the car as we are well aware that you should not annoy a bull elephant. As we could see we were in the way of where the bull elephant wanted to go we reversed a little and allowed the elephant to continue on his way.

We moved on and passed across the southern gate and headed towards the various waterholes that can be found dotted around. As we were all getting a little hungry at this point we decided to pull into Jacks Picnic Site which has some excellent facilities including braai areas - all you need to do is bring your food, charcoal and utensils. There were a few people braaing and the smell was fantastic. This is a good chance to recharge your batteries and look at some of the photos you have already taken. We finished our food and carried on. Just before the Hapoor Dam we decided to take a turn down the Mpunzi Loop and boy are we glad we did. We had only gone a short way when we spotted two elephants right by the side of the road and very close to the car. We stopped the car and soon discovered we were right in the midst of a herd of elephants that were all feeding on the bush all around us. The group was mostly made up of females and their young. There were some extremely cute baby elephants which didnt mind us at all and passed a number of times both infront and behind our car. With our windows wound down we took the opportunity to get some wonderful close-up shots and to watch the elephants as they ate. We were there for a good half an hour just marvelling at these amazing animals.

Pushing on we headed towards the Hapoor Dam where we could see a number of elephants drinking at the waterhole. We could also see a number of different herds all waiting for their turn at the waterhole in what was very clearly a pecking order. Occasionally a bull elephant would try and jump the queue which resulted in quite a bit of pushing and shoving and some large elephant trumpetting. It was extremely interesting to the interaction and social behaviour of what must have been 50-60 elephants. Although we didnt spot lion during the 6 hours we were there we did see lots of other animals including Kudu, buffalo, zebra, ostrich, warthogs to name just a few. We visited Addo in January and there lots of animals with their young which clearly shows how happy these animals are. Addo is a great day out and we thoroughly recommend a trip here. If you are looking for accommodation for your holiday in South Africa visit Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Popular Markets in South Africa

There is a wide range of markets to be discovered in South Africa popular with both locals and tourists. Often these markets are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. One such market is the Victoria Street Market in Durban. This market is an indoor market with over 170 different stalls set on 2 floors which is open 7 days a week with parking available under the building.

In Cape Town you can find the Old Biscuit Mill Market popular with the young and trendy in Cape Town. This market is open every Saturday from 02h00 to 14h00 but be warned this market gets very busy and parking can be difficult close by. Our advice is to get their early to find a parking space. The market sells lots of produce and homemade goodies and has a really good vibe.

The Welwitschia Country Market is located just 1km from the popular holiday resort of Hartbeespoort Dam in the North-West Province of South Africa. The market has over 40 shops set under the shadow of some lovely old trees with even an aviary in the middle to amuse the children. The market is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 02h00 to 17h00.

On the first Saturday of every month the Green Market in Pretoria is the place to be to discover everything that is eco-friendly. Or check out the Bryanston and Organic Natural Market with its wholesome food stalls and arts and crafts - open Thursday to Saturdays from 0200 to 15h00.

Check out our Activities page for more ideas on what to do during your holiday in South Africa.
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Our Poor Mans Game Drive

Stuck for something to do this Sunday we decided to go on our local Poor Mans Game drive. We drove from Port Alfred heading towards East London on the R72 in the Eastern Cape for approximately 20 mins and just before reaching Fish River there is a left hand turning into Kapp Reserve. The turning is signposted. 

The road is a dirt track but on a dry day is easily done in a normal car. The road takes you through a gate and across a cattle grid and straight into the reserve. Following the dirt track you will wind your way through the Kapp Reserve and will soon be upon views over the valley and Fish River. Keeping our eyes peeled we look out for game. On the way you pass a picnic point and also the start of a 3 hour canoe trail. We continued up the dirt track and soon spotted some giraffe sitting down in the bush but quite easy to spot. There were quite a few giraffe and a number of zebra all mingling together. I dont think I had ever seen giraffe sitting down in the wild so it was quite a treat. They were quite close to the track and getting photos was easy. Then as we turned the corner a number of zebra passed right across the road infront of us. Naturally they stopped and stared at us before continuing on their way. 

We continued slowly on our way and then spotted a herd of buck all gathered under the bush feeding. There was an excellent mix of males and females and their babies. They werent too bothered by us and allowed us to get some lovely photos. So why is this a Poor Mans Game Drive - well for starters its free as long as you turn back before you hit the main entrance into the reserve. It was lovely and quiet and we enjoyed a good hour or so checking out the animals. 

Ok so its not the Big 5 but if you are just looking to amuse yourself its really good fun. On the way back we passed the giraffe again this time up and about and feeding on the bush. All in all a well spent afternoon. For a Big 5 Game Reserve experience why not check out our Game Reserve Accommodation. Click here for all your other South Africa Accommodation needs.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Port Alfred Air Festival 2014

The renowned 43 Air School in Port Alfred will be staging its annual Air Festival on the 26th and 27th December 2014. The Air Festival is a great chance to get up close and personal with some superb flying machines including bi-planes and even Russian Jet Fighters. There will be a small entrance fee charged to visitors as the festival raises import charity funds for the local area.

The Air Festival will have a full flying programme including acrobatic-displays by stunt pilots . For the adventurous among you there will be the chance to buy flips on certain aircraft including helicopters with costs ranging from R500 to R5000. The 43 Air School will also be arranging tours of their facilities which if you are interested in ever becoming a pilot, air-traffic controller or aircraft engineer will provide you with a real insight and a chance to ask questions.

Other attractions at the festival will include stall holders from the Bathurst Farmers Market and Hamburg Cottage Industries. Offers have also gone out to the Bathurst Agricultural Museum to display some of its equipment as well as the vintage car club to show off some of their classic cars.

The 43 Air School is located just outside Port Alfred a seaside town on the Eastern Cape's Sunshine Coast. Port Alfred is a very popular holiday destination with superb sandy beaches and plenty of accommodation on offer.
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Our 10 Most Popular Posts

Here's is the travel blogging catch-22.  Most people are looking for information about places they plan to visit.  So, millions of people search for things about Tuscany, Paris or Amsterdam's canals.  The most amazing place on earth won't receive much traffic if nobody knows about it.  The problem is, the more popular a place is, the more bloggers there are writing about it.  The chance that someone reads your post about the Acropolis? Slim.

Predicting which of our 700 (plus) posts would get read was almost impossible.  Some of the best things we wrote didn't even get read by our own parents.  Some of our silliest or worst-written bits have became enormously (and embarrassingly) popular.

Our 10 most popular posts (based on Google analytics data and traffic reports) are a mixed bag.  Some are good (number one, thankfully), some began their online life as throwaways (see number nine), some are just weird (number five).  Only one of these posts was specifically designed to attract traffic (number two).
Sometimes we just hit upon something. Cihangir is a hip, young Istanbul neighborhood.  It reminded us of a Turkish Williamsburg and confirmed our belief that renting an apartment is the best way to see a city.  The best neighborhoods are often the best because they don't have any hotels.  Don't get us wrong, the center of Istanbul is as gobsmacking is you'd expect and we never tired of tooling around in search of balik ekmek or The Mussel Man (who we wind up finding in Cihangir anyway).  But the best cities are great because of their ever-changing qualities, their momentum and the neighborhoods defined by the young people there at a given time. 
As bloggers, we found ourselves in a jam.  Here we were in Vatican City, two whole weeks of posting about a very, very small microstate and the pièce de résistance was off limits.  No photos in the Sistine Chapel.  Seriously?  If this were a rule decreed by the pope, the security guards would probably have worked a little harder - or at all - to enforce it.  As it turns out, a Japanese TV company owns the exclusive rights to some of the art world's most famous images because they funded its restoration. (This is after NBC turned down the deal.  Probably because they were too busy fine-tuning  Joey, the Friends spin-off).  Anyway, the whole thing was ridiculous, made only more so by the fact that everyone. was. taking. pictures.  So, we decided to half break the rules and snap some shots, too.  Just not of the ceiling.  We're sure this gets traffic because people are searching to see if photos are allowed in the Sistine Chapel.  Not that finding out is going to stop them.  
8. Georgian Food
We can vouch for the fact that it is very difficult to search for anything about Georgia, in English, without being directed to the state instead of the country.  Using the word "Georgian" helps matters a lot.  This one makes us happy because Georgian food really did feel like a revelation.  The textures and flavors were consistently surprising and delicious.  Pomegranate seeds, crushed walnuts, cilantro,  the best bread of our lives.  And then there were khinkali, the soup dumpling like concoctions pictured above.  In the tiny town of Mestia, at the time the most remote place we'd been, the only restaurant in town basically only served khinkali   We discovered, quickly, that they are so delicious you don't need anything more.
Amazingly, this is only our second most-popular Albanian post (see below!)  
Sometimes we know exactly why people are reading a specific post.  After a TED Blog writer used our photos of Tirana's painted buildings we got a sudden surge of visitors.
The story of Edi Rama (painter turned Minister of Culture turned mayor) and his brilliant idea to transform ugly communist-era cement blocks into bold, bright works of art is a great one.  It's no wonder it's garnered some attention.  We're just happy that our own piece focuses more on the story of the city today and of Malvin, a young man who served us dinner one night and was showing us around the next.  Maybe he'll stumble upon the post himself and shoot us an email.  We wonder if he ever made it to that bioengineering school in Canada.
6. Castle Hunting: Trakai Castle
Island castles are a little bit of a trend (see number 4).
We remember this castle most for the speeding ticket we got nearby.  Lithuanian police take road safety very seriously.  For the record, if you should ever find yourself stopped by an officer in Lithuania, be prepared to pay your fine in cash on the spot.  If you don't have the money, he/she will drive you to the nearest bank to withdraw the amount.  Don't be scared.  This is absolutely normal.  Well, you can still be scared.  As we were.
5. Sleeping In Soviet Style
This little Belarusian piece has always baffled us.  For almost a year it was our number two most-viewed post, second only to this, about Belarusian tractors (which now ranks about 12th).  It would make sense if people were only landing here while looking for lodging in Belarus - which is hard to find - but that didn't seem to be the case.  Inexplicably, thousands of people showed up after searching for "armenian elevator buttons."  The internet is a weird, weird place.
(Thanks to one visitor, we learned that what we thought was a very cool smoke detector was actually an even cooler single-channel radio from the Soviet age).
We were never even supposed to be there in Kizkalesi, but we were finding it a little difficult to catch a boat to northern Cyprus, and we needed a place to stay.  For a Turkish seaside town, it's a little drab.  People visit for the "floating" castle (and visit our blog for pictures of it).  We stayed in an empty hotel, run by a very nice Kurdish man who took us to the nearby Caves of Heaven and Hell and invited us to watch a televised NBA game with him in the evening. 
3. Lithuanian Food
For a long time, Lithuanian Food was the most viewed post on the blog.  It features grainy, unappealing photos of cepelinai, blyneliai and various other cheesy, gloppy dishes.  This is a poorly-lit shot of kiaulės audis, which is smoked pig's ear.  We had no idea - as we crunched cartilage on that dark night in the Žemaitija National Park - that so many people would find this stuff interesting.  Then, again, we may not have ordered the smoked pig's ear if we didn't at least hope they would.
2. Montenegro's Best Beaches
Some day soon, this will be the most read post.  It's been popular since day one, and it does really well around every vacation time.  Montenegro is newly independent and popular, so there isn't as much written about it as, say, Croatia.  We think that's why readers end up on our site.  This one feels a little bittersweet, though, because we created it while thinking "this will get so much traffic!"  But, hey, the hope is that then you stumble upon something like this.  The other hope is that more people will look beyond the big resorts that are threatening to destroy the coastline and find those little places that remain untouched… for now.
While it's not too surprising that 3 of our 10 most popular posts are about food, Albania sneaking in for the win is a bit of a shock.  Here's our theory:  there's simply not much information available online about Albanian food.  So, unlike a search for "Italian food," you're more likely to stumble upon us.  In fact, googling those two words right now, we're right there behind wikipedia,, and pinterest (which may or may not have even existed when we published this post).  If the title had been "Frogs Legs and Lamb's Head" - as I'm sure at least one of us wanted it to be - there's no way this would be our number one.  But… hey… we learned a few traffic tips along the way.  Now, add the fact that Albania was named Lonely Planet's Top Destination for 2011 and you've got yourself a winner!
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

CRF: The Best of Slovenia

"CRF" is not a crime show you've never heard of, it stands for "Cutting Room Floor." It's been more than a year since we returned from Europe, and we've started to get seriously nostalgic.  To give us all an extra travel fix, we're posting some of our favorite photos that never made it onto the blog.  Here are our favorite unpublished memories and pictures of Slovenia - truly one of our favorite countries.
Slovenia held a special place in our heart years before this trip and we were a little worried about tarnishing it.  You see,  it was the first "weird" place we had ever travelled together.  Our former trips included the post-collegiate trifecta of France, India and Amsterdam.  One of us had read an article about Slovenia in a magazine and the idea of the place stuck (along with Lake Baikal in Siberia, which seemed a little less doable).  We went, in 2006, without knowing how to pronounce the name of its capital and came back its biggest ambassadors, dubbing it "The Vermont of Europe" and encouraging everyone we knew to visit.
It was both more "European" than we'd expected (what does that word mean anyway?) and quirkier than we could have imagined (a doormouse museum?).  It felt like a discovery, a magical place.  One day we were driving through foliage that could rival New England, the next we were eating shellfish on a blip of Mediterranean coast.  There were gorges and caves, castleshorse burgers.  Our farm stay had a pet bear, the capital had parking spots dedicated to electric cars ("way back" in 2006) and a Sunday flea market that finally served up that slice of Slav we were expecting.  Revisiting the country, after traveling to places even further afield, we worried it would feel…. predictable.  Or, dare I say, average.  And then, this happened...
The water caves of Križna Jama are special.  They really are.  They are that solitary, unknowable, ancient thing that lurks at the edges of human existence.  There are human remains in the entryway that date back ten millennia.  One travels for hours by headlight, in blowup rafts, past the oldest of earth's rocky bones.  There are creatures there, in those depths, that exist literally nowhere else in the universe.  No more than eight people a day are allowed in.  All of this, accessed through a rock in the deep Slovenian forest.  By some wonderful twist of fate, our guide was a photographer himself and the photos he prompted us to take are some of our favorites of the trip, inextricably linked to the memory of snapping them.
When we're asked that inevitable question - "what country did you like best?" - we have no idea what to say.  Phrased: "what was the most memorable experience you had?" the answer would be easier.  Križna Jama is the experience we call up when we mean "unbelievable."
The Slovenian karst is full of caves - there's the theme-park-like Postojnska jama and the outlandish cave-castle of Grad Predjama, with hundreds of other caverns in between - but there is none to match the grandeur of Škocjanske jame.  We've been twice, but photos aren't allowed in the main caverns, so we never blogged about it.  This is a picture of the exit, which actually feels small at the end of the tour.  Notice the full-grown trees being dwarfed by the archway.
The main cavern in Škocjanske jame is so large that standing inside, with the lights off, feels like standing outside on a dark night.  You can hear a river flowing, a hundred feet below the walkway.  You feel damp cave-breezes and gusts.  It's the largest enclosed space you can imagine.  A friend brought along on our second visit was nervous.  "I'm claustrophobic," she explained, logically reasoning that this would make spelunking unpleasant.  Škocjanske jame conjures the exact opposite feeling.  All you feel is the expanse, your own smallness.  You feel anything but trapped.  You feel like you're on the edge of something that is somehow even bigger.  
At the very top of Rogla Ski Resort, in the Zreče region, we came across this funny group of schoolchildren filing onto a down-slope chairlift.  Even though it was midsummer, it was cold and blustery in the Julian Alps.
We had hiked up from the endearing, bizarre deer farm that we were staying at, Tourist Farm Arbajter.  Our hosts cooked us venison dinners and gave us homemade borovnica (blueberry schnapps).  We loved it there and promised to return with our family one day.
Slovenia's glamor spot is lake Bled.  It's the Slovenian stuff of postcards.  The rolley-bags outnumber backpacks and footwear gets noticeably less clunky.  It's easy to see how one could be content dropping in on Bled and being whisked back away without ever setting foot in the more rugged landscape surrounding it.  Retirees rent rowboats by the hour.  Young, fashionable people sunbathe on the grassy shores.
Slovenia is very much a tale of two lakes, Bled and Bohinj.  Both are beautiful, but we actually prefer Bohinj, nearby, which has zero luxury hotels.
At some point in our trip, we began taking photos of local candy.  It's the little things.  These were a cross between Necco wafers and hole-less life savers.  We just liked the packaging, really.
We considered doing a post about the unusual and emblematic Slovenian roofed hayracks (called toplarji), but never got all the pictures we wanted.  Here's an old toplar surrounded by modern digging equipment.  It's not easy to find prime examples of the old Slovene way of life, because the country doesn't dwell on its past.  History in Slovenia has been relegated to the national parks, culinary tradition, a few quaint castles and their excellent museums.  Everyone looks forward.
Despite its diminutive size, Ljubljana (pronounced "loob-lee-yah-na") easily feels the most modern of the former Yugoslavian capitals.  It's demeanor mirrors the national spirit: lighthearted, friendly, unpretentious.
Slovenia was the first republic to gain independence from post-Tito Yugoslavia, and there wasn't much violence during the breakaway.  Compared to Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia or even Croatia, the country has few scars and better memories.
We love this red picture of a tiny, communist-era Zastava (nicknamed "Fičo" in Slovenia and "Fikjo" in Macedonia, where we posted about them) against a high-tech construction site. About a block from here, we saw a tractor pulling bales of hay through downtown Ljubljana.
Like Slovenian food, Slovenian wine is pretty basic.  It's also cheap, tasty and plentiful.  For a while, we were working on a vini-post that didn't get finished.  It was going to be about the vineyards of the Vipava and Štájerska regions, but we never got the cornerstone picture or experience that a good piece needs.  It was still fun to try.
We took this picture at a  courtyard "vinotok" in the colorful wine town of Slovenska Konjice. Underripe grapes hung from an arbor over our heads.  If it had been September instead of July, we probably would have had a great, boozy post.
We're still crazy about Slovenia.  Comparing it objectively to its neighbors, it might seem a little boring.  It has nothing to rival the history and cuisine of Italy.  It's mountains aren't as impressive as Austria's.  Ljubljana doesn't hold a candle to Hungary's Budapest, and it's tiny bit of coast is barely a blip next to Croatia's sprawling seafront.
But Slovenia has a bit of everything, and also possesses maybe the most pleasant vibe of any European country.  It's always at the top of our list of recommendations - especially because of all those caves
To see all our posts from Slovenia, just click here.
To see all the Cutting Room Floor posts, with great pictures from the other 49 countries, just click here.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kloof - a leafy suburb of Durban

The small town of Kloof is a suburb located on the greater Durban area in KwaZulu-Natal. Kloof translates from Afrikaans to mean Gorge and is named after the deep gorge that has been formed from the Molweni River. The Kloof Gorge forms part of the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve which extends for approximately 5 square kilometres. The middle to upper class suburb of Kloof borders onto Winston Park, Forest Hills, Gillitts and Hillcrest which together are known as the Upper Highway Area. The area is also known as a mist-belt and includes winding roads and lovely mansions surrounded by trees. There are a number of shopping malls in the area such as Maytime Shopping Centre, the Village Mall, Fields Shopping Centre and Delcairn Centre. There is a lovely selection of places to stay in Kloof from Guest Houses, Bed and Breakfast and self catering accommodation.

Kloof Country Club is located in the green hills of Kloof, within easy access of Durban, and combines a wide choice of activites from the wonderful 18 hole Golf Course, to a squash centre, dining and conference facilities, tennis courts, swimming pool and also a cricket pitch. The Golf Course has been designed to USGA standards and offers a challenging course with a well earned refreshment break available at the Halfway House.

The Krantzkloof Nature Reserve is approximately 532 hectares in size and is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Although you will not see the Big 5 here you will discover zebra, grey duiker, vervet monkey, bushbuck, mongoose, genets, rock hyrax and many other animals. The birdlife here is excellent with over 200 different variety of birds being recorded. Much of the reserve is covered by thick forest and vegitation and has superb views across the gorge that has been created by the Molweni River.

Click here for more ideas on where to stay in Durban.
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Top 03 Driving Tips for South Africa

1. Always fill up your car with petrol before embarking on a long journey. Distances between Petrol Stations can vary quite a lot and with such big distances between towns and cities it is better to be safe than sorry.

2. Try to plan your journey for day time driving. Driving at night can be hazardous especially out of the towns and cities. It is not uncommon to come across cows, monkeys and goats wandering across the road and at night there are many stories of cars hitting these animals. Also roads outside of town are not well lit if at all.

3. When stopping at a petrol station take advantage of the attendants and ensure they clean your windscreens - for the sake of a R2 tip it is well worth it.

4. Try to tune into a local radio station when travelling - they are normally very good at warning you of roadworks and those aptly named "smile zones" - to you and me these are speed traps !

5. For those long journeys make sure you take some food and drink with you in the car. Great for keeping the kids quiet when they start getting bored.

6. Keep a camera handy with you in the car - you just never know when you are going to come across wonderful scenery, animals or interesting sights.

7. Make sure you have your driving licence with you always. If you are stopped by the police they will want to see this. It is also always worth keeping some cash handy for those annoying on the spot fines.

8. Be aware that some of the roads in South Africa are not up to the standard of those you may normally be used to. If you are driving off the main roads or around areas like the Wild Coast you will really need a 4X4. You wouldnt want to miss out on some of the more off the beaten track sights beacuse your car isnt up to it.

9. Make sure your mobile phone is charged and you notify people of where you are going and what time you should be reaching your destination. That way if you are late you are contactable or can contact someone if you break down.

03.When parking your car anywhere do not leave valuables on show. Like anywhere in the world there are petty crime theives that are only too willing to snatch them.
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Weekend away at Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve - Port Alfred

This weekend we spent a night at Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve which is located just 5 minutes outside of Port Alfred on the Eastern Cape Sunshine Coast. Oceana is situated in an elevated position overlooking 7km of private beachfront in the maleria-free Eastern Cape. It opened its doors for business approximately
4 years ago and has established itself as a 5 Star Game Reserve and Spa Retreat.

The location is extremely private and has a really romatic feel about it. The main lodge has a lovely bar with seating around a log fire and separate dining rooms. It would make an ideal setting for a wedding function or to just getaway and pamper yourself for a few days. We arrived early evening and enjoyed some pre-dinner drinks on the patio overlooking the Indian Ocean whilst gazing at the amazing star-filled sky.

As we were celebrating a special occasion our hosts had organised us a private table for 2 in one of their lounges with a lovely fire going next to us. The food was of a very high standard and the service was excellent. After dinner we enjoyed our superb cappuccinos by the open log fire by the bar. Next to the bar area there is a very nice patio with steps leading up to the swimming pool and boma. If you are having your wedding here then Oceana have a large Bedouin-style tent that covers this area and makes for a wonderful setting.

That evening we stayed in a lovely chalet with large balcony overlooking the Reserve and Indian Ocean. Our room had a wonderful double bed with TV at the end of it. There was also a his'n'hers bathrooms with a bath with views outside in one of them. The rooms are extremely well appointed and very spacious.

In the morning we sat outside with our coffee and watch the sunrise and the animals roam around just a short distance away. Oceana is not a Big 5 Game Reserve but it still has Giraffe, Rhino, Zebra, Buffalo, Wildebeest and many other animals. There is a lovely fitness room near the Lodge with magnificent views plus an excellent Spa with a range of treatments available. Other activities on offer at Oceana include; Surf and Rock Fishing, Game Drives, Bush Picnic and Sundowners, 5 hole putting green on the Heli Pad, Steam Room and Games Room.

Visit Where2Stay-SouthAfrica for more South Africa Accommodation ideas. 
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