Saturday, May 31, 2014

Weekend in the Wild Coast

We took a short weekend holiday break to Kei Mouth which is located about 1 hours drive north of East London and is effectively the start of what is known as the Wild Coast. We took the N2 route out of East London heading towards Mthatha before turning off right towards Kei Mouth. From the N2 turn off it is approximately a 30km drive down to Kei Mouth.  The road down is surprisingly very good with tarmac all the way down that takes a scenic route through rolling hills before you catch sight of the coast.

We were staying at a place called Whispering Waves which is a very apt name as our rustic cottage overlooked directly onto the waves breaking on to the beach below us. Kei Mouth has a few shops, post office and supermarket, restaurant and a garage and is well geared up to serve the holiday makers that come here to stay - many on a self catering accommodation basis.

It is advisable to travel to this area in a 4x4 as there are lots of off-road dirt tracks where you can drive and explore this rugged coastline. We took a drive down to the Kei River Mouth on the Saturday afternoon and tried our hand at fishing off the rive bank. Sadly although the fish were biting we only caught barbel and not the cob which we were after. The weather over the whole weekend was lovely but rather chilly in the evenings which is to be expected in late May.

On the Sunday morning we took the river crossing (only R120 per car return trip) over the Kei River to explore the coast further up and visited the Trennerys Hotel which is a lovely hotel set high up overlooing the Indian Ocean. The Trennerys is a popular holiday resort with lovely accommodation, swimming pool and tennis court plus play areas for the younger ones. They have a very nice bar with full size snooker table and DSTV. From the hotel you can walk down to the lagoon and beach below. The beach stretches for miles with several coves and inlets visible and it is not uncommon to see the odd cow roaming around on the beach. After our walk we enjoyed a nice cold refreshing drink at the hotel before setting off to enjoy a picnic beside the Kei River. The locals wander about from early morning selling locally made crafts and will even make things to order if they dont quite have what you are looking for.

It really was a delight enjoying braais in the evenings whilst chatting and watching the waves breaking in the ocean below our cottage. The whole Wild Coast stretches for a long way northwards from here and is worth exploring. There is a good choice of accommodation from the basic and simple to the luxury end of the market. We recommend you add the Wild Coast to your South Africa Holiday itinerary.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Boutique Hotels in South Africa

Boutique Hotels have become extremely popular over the world and South Africa is no exception. You can now find a good choice of Boutique Hotels in South Africa which all seem to offer something different . Many of these Boutique Hotels are more intimate and offer an ideal romantic getaway or weekend break. They also make ideal wedding function locations offering privacy and lovely settings. Generally these venues have achieved a minimum 4 star status and have been decorated to a high standard and offer something a little extra that your normal hotel. From ideal locations such as Cocomo Boutique Hotel in Hartbeespoort in the North-West Province of South Africa to Casta Diva set on the slopes of the Magaliesberg in stunning peaceful surroundings in Gauteng Province its worth seeking out these venues and to spoil yourselves. Many of these venues are family run and provide real home-from-home touches with the opportunity to recharge your batteries and getaway from the stresses of work and city life.
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend away in Hogsback

Hogsback Village is located halfway between Alice and Cathcart in the Amatola Mountain range in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. We decided on a last minute weekend away to the village of Hogsback leaving our house in Port Alfred and travelling on a route that took us through Bathurst, Grahamstown, Fort Beaufort, Alice and finally into Hogsback. We arrived at our accommodation - Maylodge Cottages - located in a wonderful setting just off the main street. There were six of us staying for the weekend in a delightful thatched cottage (Heron House) with extensive gardens surrounding the house. Our two miniature schnauzers had come along and immediately explored the gardens and took an interest in the monkeys high up in the trees.

The cottage accommodation comprised three bedrooms and three bathrooms with a lovely open plan living area with a fireplace as the centrepiece. Hogsback is surrounded by mountains and a hikers paradise. Its elevated position also means that you do get snowfall in the winter months on the mountains and occasionally in Hogsback village itself. In July they even have what they call "Christmas in July" when the village usually buzzes with people relaxing over a long weekend around log fires.

On our first morning in Hogsback we took a short drive down Oak Avenue which is just off the main high street. We parked and then set off through the Arboretum and up to The 39 Steps Falls. The leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colours and the walk up to the waterfalls is a gentle one. Look out for the huge Giant Redwoods dotted about in the forests.

In the afternoon we took a drive out down Oak Avenue again but this time turned up Forest Drive and then stopped off to walk the hike up to the Kettlespout Falls. This is a longer hike and more strenuous up some steeper steps and inclines but the view is worth it when you reach the top. From the top you can see the waterfalls cascading down and enjoy the views that stretch for miles on a clear day.

Later that day we drove out on the R345 to visit St Patrick on the Hill church which really is quite beautiful. From there we continued on past the Little Candle Factory and onto the Labyrinth - follow the signs for The Edge. Here we stopped and walked around the Labyrinth beofre enjoying a well earned coffee and cake in their cafe/restaurant. After a long day we returned home to enjoy a log fire and scrummy food.

The next morning we sat out by our cottage enjoying the sunshine and views and then headed off down Wolf Ridge Road along a dirt track enjoying the views and then stopping off to have our picnic by the dam. Sadly it was now time to head for Port Alfred and we decided to take a different route home taking the dirt track route to Seymour and then onto Fort Beaufort. This route is recommended for 4x4 vehicles only as the roads are very rough in places and a good clearance is needed.

All in all we had a very relaxing break in Hogsback and it is easy to see why many people from East London and Port Elizabeth visit here for weekend breaks. The air is clean and it is lovely and quiet a real getaway from suburban life. The picturesque village of Hogsback is approximately 1.5 hours from East London.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Tsitsikamma National Park in the Eastern Cape

Tsitsikamma National Park is a popular national park found along the famous Garden Route of South Africa. The word "Tsitsikamma" actually translates from Khoi to mean "place of abundant and sparking water" and this is a very apt description of this area. The Tsitsikamma Forest is home to beautiful indigenous trees such as the Yellowwood, the Stinkwood amd the Ironwood to name just a few. The patch of coastline along the Tsitsikamma National Forest is rocky and wild and where the Storms River meets the Ocean is a must see spot. From here you can watch the huge waves crashing against the rocks or perhaps eat at the Tigers Eye restaurant that overlooks the river mouth. There is also a boat trip from here which takes you into the gorge itself or you can take the short walk along the Mouth Trail which leads up to Strandloper Cave and the suspension bridge and vantage point.

The Tsitsikamma National Park is well served with places to stay such as Lodges or Log Cabins providing everything from luxury accommodation to self catering accommodation for those on a budget or travelling as a family or group. The area really is a haven of activities for everyone from Bungee jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge to canopy tours and ziplines through the forests. If trail walking is your thing then you must try the famous Otter Trail which is a spectacular hikng trail leading from Natures Valley to Storms River. The Otter Trail hike takes you past hidden coves and caves along paths where sometimes you can feel the spray from the waves breaking. Keep an eye out to see for dolphins and whales which depending upon the season you may well see.

Tsitsikamma National Forest is well worth a visit and you should set aside a day or 2 as part of your Garden Route trip.
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Holiday in the Western Cape

South Africa's Western Cape Province is one of the most popular areas for tourists but with so much to see and do here the first thing you need to realise is that you are not going to see everything in one trip. So planning your trip is a necessary and vital aspect to your holiday.

The Western Cape has many popular attractions such as the famous Garden Route, Cape Town and all its city attractions, the Cape Winelands, Route 62, Cape Point and Table Mountain. Planning your route and your accommodation for your holiday break in the Western Cape is important. Hiring a car to get you about is a must and remember the distances you will travel may well be further than you are used to so ensuring you get a comfortable and practical hire car is important. Small and cheap is not always the best idea.

There are lots of lovely beaches around the Western Cape to enjoy and its a good idea to break up your sight-seeing with a few days spent relaxing on the golden sandy beaches. Areas near Cape Town such as Clifton, Camps Bay and Bloubergstrand have lots of guest house, self catering and hotel accommodation to choose from.

The Cape Winelands are well worth spending a least a couple of days exploring with some wonderful wine estates and beautiful towns such as Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. If you are travelling with some friends then it is well worth staying in self catering accommodation and there are some fine places to stay at with pools to cool off in the warm evenings.

The Garden Route can be driven in a day but to do this would mean on missing out on visiting the many towns that you pass along the way. Again plan to spend 3-4 days driving through the Garden Route exploring the area and the coastal towns such as Mossel Bay. Click here for more accommodation ideas in the Western Cape
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Friday, May 2, 2014

Coldplay coming to South Africa in October

Coldplay are coming on tour to South Africa for the first time in October this year. They will be playing at Cape Town Stadium on October 5th and at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on October 8th. Coldplay have had a string of hit albums since the release of their album 'Parachutes' in 2000. Their latest album is described as a step in a new direction by Chris Martin and a change from their previous three albums. Coldplay have sold over 50 million albums worldwide and have won seven Grammy Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards as well as six Brit Awards.

Tickets for these concerts are priced between R270 and R635 and will be available to purchase from Thursday 1th May at 02h00.

Computicket Tel: 083 915 8000
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Flights from Durban to London

This Sunday the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu announced that King Shaka International Airport in Durban is to get direct flights to London Gatwick Airport and across Africa as part of a new strategic deal with Dube TradePort and South Africa's biggest privately owned airline Comair. Although the plans are only at the initial stages it is hoped that they will start with three flights a week to London Gatwick which presently does not serve South Africa. London Gatwick Airport is located to the south of London and has a fast train service from within the airport directly into the centre of London.
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Marloth Park in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Marloth Park can be found towards the southern edge of the famous Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Visitors to the 3,000 hectare Marloth Park can find some of the best game viewing conditions in South Africa and excellent accommodation to stay in. No fences are allowed around Marloth Park creating a natural environment for the abundance of animals to be found here.

Visitors are spoilt for accommodation in Marloth Park with some wonderful lodges offering everything from self-catering to luxury boutique style hotel accommodation. It is very common to find animals like nyala and kudu wondering around the accommodation in Marloth Park. Other animals to be found here include giraffe, lion, rhino, buffalo, warthog and zebra.

For families on a budget then self-catering accommodation offers an affordable holiday option with a chance to share the thrill of game viewing.  Marloth Park sits on the banks of the Crocodile River which is a haven for many different types of birds. For the adventurous types you can even enjoy a micro-light flight and observe the wild animals from the skies. In the evenings the skies in Marloth Park come alive with stars creating a majestic night sky. You will often find accommodation in Marloth Park with balconies so you can sit in the evening and watch the glorious sunsets while sipping on your sundowner.

From your Marloth Park accommodation you can easily explore the wonders of Kruger National Park or even take a day trip to the beaches of Mozambique. For other accommodation in South Africa visit Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.
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Friday, April 4, 2014

The Top Ten Golf Courses in South Africa

1.    Leopard Creek Golf Course is currently rated the number 1 golf course in South Africa. This 18 Hole Championship course was designed by Gary Player and is 6723m long and is a Par 72. Leopard Creek Golf Course is located at Malelane in Mpumalanga Province and is only open to hotel residents. The Gary Player design team worked very closely with local conservationists and the Kruger National Park Game Reserve, which the golf course overlooks, to ensure that Leopard Creek blends in with its natural surroundings.
2.    The Gary Player Country Club Golf Course in Sun City in the North West Province is rated the number 2 golf course in South Africa. The course was designed by Gary Player and Ron Kirby in 1979 and its Championship course is 6938m long and is a Par 72. The Gary Player Country Club is home to the Nedbank Challenge and is renowned for being a challenging and difficult course. The course is not open on Mondays but otherwise visitors are welcome.
3.    The Links Course at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate in George in the Western Cape of South Africa is currently rated number 3 golf course in South Africa. The Links Championship Golf Course is 6532m long is a Par 70. The Gary Player Design Team spent some time studying the famous Links courses of Scotland before finalising the design of this testing round of golf. The course is open to Fancourt members and their guests and also to hotel residents by prior arrangement.
4.    The Arabella Golf Course in Kleinmond in the Western Cape of South Africa is currently rated the number 5 golf course in South Africa. This Par 72 course is 6381 metres long and was designed by Peter Matkovich in 1999. The Arabella Golf Course has lovely views across the Bot River lagoon and across to the Kogelberg mountain range. Visitors are welcome everyday although there is a booking restriction of 7 days in advance if you are not staying at the hotel.
5.    The Pearl Valley Golf Course is rated number 5 golf course in South Africa and was designed by the great Jack Nicklaus. Situated in the beautiful Cape Winelands area  between Paarl and Franschhoek the Pearl Valley Golf Estate and Spa is surrounded by the Simonsberg Mountains and Drakenstein Mountains. This creates a spectacular setting for this Par 72 course which is 6503 metres long. Golf clubs are available to hire and there is a driving range on site.
6.    The Durban Country Club, in Durban KwaZulu-Natal, actually has two 18 hole championship courses designed by Laurie Waters and George Waterman. The course has been created alongside the Indian Ocean creating a semi-links style course. The course is more geared towards the experience golfer and the third hole here is said to be the best third hole on any course in the world. Visitors are welcome to play here any day apart from Saturday.
7.    The Royal Johannesburg Golf Course actually has two 18 Hole Championship courses – the East Course and the West Course. The East Course has hosted numerous SA Open Championships and is 6846 metres long and is a Par 72. The West Course is marginally shorter at 6382 metres in length and probably favours the less experienced golfer although you may well be punished for any wayward shots. The course is open to visitors everyday apart from Saturdays and Sunday mornings.
8.    The Montagu Course at Fancourt is rated the number 8 golf course in South Africa. This course, designed by Gary Player, is located in George in the Western Cape of South Africa. The course has recently undergone a transformation with two new holes being created and several others being completely redesigned. The course is open every day to Fancourt Hotel residents only.
9.    The St. Francis Links Golf Course is situated in St. Francis Bay on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Yet again Jack Nicklaus has used his skills and experience to design another challenging Links course reminiscent of those you would find in Scotland. As with all links courses the wind plays a major factor in your round of golf. The St. Francis Links Golf Course is open to visitors every day of the week.
03.    The Elements Private Golf Reserve is located in the stunning scenery of the Waterberg region of Limpopo Province in South Africa. This golf course is rated number 03 in the Top Ten Golf Courses of South Africa and is a Peter Matkovich designed golf course.

If you are looking for accommodation in South Africa for your golfing holiday try Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Less than 2 weeks now to the Splashy Fen Festival 2014

With less than two weeks to go before this year’s Splashy Fen Music Festival there is as you can imagine a hive of activity on site at the tranquil Underberg Farm in South Africa’s Southern Drakensberg. Splashy Fen Festival starts on Thursday April 21st through to Monday April 25 and there will be over 90 acts performing over the two stages which means there really will be something for everyone’s musical tastes.

The site is very busy at the moment with a host of skilled tradesmen putting the final touches together to ensure that the festival is ready for the thousands of music fans who will attend this popular event.

New fields are being cleared ready for the camping sites, new fences are being erected and of course those all-important toilet and washing facilities are being prepared. Even the cellular networks are being upgraded especially for this event.

As always Pedro Carlo, the festival organiser, is making sure that music fans will have even more to look forward to than last year. This year there will be more bars, more food stores, a new comedy tent and an all new Freestyle Tribal Village. For festival fans coming as a family there is a separate family campsite area which is perfect for those with younger ones in tow. The Children Centre will put on a full programme of childrens activities as well as providing a child minding service.

As usual all profits from the festival’s main bar, run by Sani 152 Round Table, will go to helping out deserving causes and community upliftment projects.

At this year’s Splashy Fen Festival you can expect to see acts like Vusi Mahlasela, Boo!, Goodluck, Karen Zoid, Ard Matthews, The Rudimentals, Valiant Swart, Holiday Murray, City Bowl Mizers, Madala Kunene, Wrestlerish, Dan Patlansky and former Tree63 frontman, John Ellis, among many others.

Supported by East Coast Radio and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Splashy Fen was established in 1990 and is the longest-running music festival in the country.  Tickets cost R500 at Computicket and selected Game stores.  The price includes camping for the entire festival.  For more information and the full programme, visit or contact 031 563 0824. For news on other events across South Africa visit South Africa Events Page.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ski in South Africa - not yet but maybe soon !

Since 2002 Snowboarders and skiers in South Africa have had to endure long trips to Europe or America to get their skiing fix but there may be light at the end of the tunnel. The mothballed ski resort of Tiffindell in the southern Drakensberg Mountains is due to go up for auction soon with a number of local and foreign buyers proported to be interested. The auction is to be managed by the High Street Auction Company.

The Tiffendell Ski Resort covers an area of 031 hectares and includes a main lodge, chalets that can accommodate 142 guests, a beginners slope, a bar, shop, ski school and place to hire ski equipment. The main ski slope does have its own ski lift. More news to follow.

Going to South Africa on holiday in the future - visit where2stay-southafrica for all your accommodation needs.
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Formula 1 returns to South Africa in 2014

Formula 1 Racing is returning to South Africa at the famous Kyalami Race Track on 20th November 2014. Due to the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this year there was a gap in the schedule that needed to be filled and South Africa has won the race to host the replacement. This is great news for South Africa and the economy as it will bring a real boost to local businesses and tourism around the Kyalami Grand Prix track.

David Coulthard recently drove around the Kyalami Race Track to test its suitability and gave the race track a ringing endorsement with just a few minor changes required to ensure a safe and successful race. The last time South Africa hosted a Grand Prix at Kyalami was back in 1993 when the likes of
Alain Prost was racing.

The Grand Prix at Kyalami will be followed by a huge concert with big acts such as U2, Shakira, Beyonce and Usher all playing. Kyalami Grand Prix Race Track is in Midrand in Gauteng Province, South Africa.

Gauteng Province has excellent self-catering accommodation, guest house accommodation, hotels and Bed and Breakfast accommodation to ensure your visit to this Grand Prix is an enjoyable one.
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The Great Annual Sardine Run

There are some truly spectacular natural events that occur around the world every year and none more so than the awesome Sardine Run which takes place off the East Coast of South Africa. Every year between the months of May and July the Sardine Run takes place off the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape coast.
The sardines start their epic journey off the Cape Point of South Africa and journey north to escape the cold waters. Millions of sardines congregate and travel up the Eastern Cape up to the north coast of the KwaZulu-Natal coast. The huge numbers of sardines create a mass so big that it is visible from satellites orbiting the earth. The vast shoal reaches lengths of 15km, a width of 3km and a depth of 40 metres.

This spectacular event attracts a wide array of predators that come to feed creating amazing feeding frenzies which are spectacular to watch. Some of the predators that come to feed include dolphins, sharks, whale, birds and game fish. This natural event ranks alongside the huge migration of wildebeest across the African savannah.

This unexplained phenomenon is not to be missed whether viewing from a boat or, if you are an experienced diver, from beneath the sea. The Annual Sardine Run passes along some of the best coastlines in South Africa, passed the Garden Route, the Sunshine Coast, and the KZN South Coast and up to what was once known as the Transkei.

If you are planning a holiday to South Africa during May and July then you may want to consider a trip to see this marvellous event. Visit Where2Stay-South Africa for all your accommodation needs.
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Monday, March 31, 2014

James Blunt Live in Concert in South Africa

Its exciting news to hear that James Blunt is coming to South Africa as part of his 'Some kind of Trouble World Tour'. James Blunt will be playing on the 24th August 2014 at the ICC Durban Arena and on the 26th August at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg. This is terrific news and follows on from other international artists that have played in South Africa this year including U2 and Neil Diamond.

It is really great to see artists such as James Blunt choosing South Africa as part of their World Tour. His latest album 'Some Kind of Trouble' has seen him team up with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder in terms of songwriting and James is really looking forward to getting back out on the road and infront of his fans. Tickets for these concerts can be obtained from Computicket.

If you are looking for accommodation for either of these events check out where2stay-southafrica.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

South Africa upgrades its Establishment Grading System

South Africa's Minister of Tourism has launched a new star grading system for accommodation establishments across South Africa. The new star grading system is an update to the current system which was introduced in 2002. Over the last three years the current system has delivered a world class standard in grading accommodation and provided visitors with a real level of comfort in booking accommodation for their holidays.

The new star grading system which was unveiled by Marthinus van Schalkwyk at the Kind Edward Hotel and Forest Hall Guest House in Port Elizabeth will increase the grading criteria and minimum requirements for establishments. The grading system is managed by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) and is an official measure of an establishments quality assurance. The changes to the new grading system will ensure that South Africa provides tourists with a promise of quality when booking their holiday accommodation. It will also ensure that South Africa remains a key destination for international visitors. The Minister of Tourism's aim is also to maintain South Africa as world leaders in terms of quality assurance.

Look out for the Star Grading on all venue listings on where2stay-southafrica.
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SPCA Carols by Candlelight in George, Western Cape

The annual SPCA Carols by Candelight is taking place on 2 December 2014 in George at the Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort & Spa.  This year’s event will be filled with caring and love as the proceeds of the event will be donated to the Garden Route branch of the SPCA to further the incredible work they are doing in our Eden District to educate people and assist animals in need.

The loving and dedicated staff members at the Garden Route SPCA are passionate about finding the right home for their furry, scaly or feathery friends and regularly place pictures of adoptable cuddle buddies in local newspapers. These critters have so much love to give and simply need to find the right home and the right people to take care of them.

What better way to shine a light on the plight of these poor deserted or abused animals than with caroling at candlelight at one of the South Cape’s most beautiful hotels, the Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort & Spa. The evening will be filled with entertainment and candlelit loveliness, accompanied by the lyrical prowess of Voldi George and the South Cape Children’s Choir conducted by Jan-Erik Swart.

Most of us grew up listening to “How much is that doggy in the window?”, and at one time or another we were all that little boy or girl, face pressed against the window of a pet shop, arm tugging on mom or dad’s coattails, and eyes mirroring the look of the puppy eyes staring from the other side. It was never about the “brand new” sticker or the label on the collar. It was the heart connection that made the question irresistible.

If you are considering giving a pet as gift this Christmas, visit the Garden Route SPCA in George at Ossi Urban Road, Tamsui Industria or contact them on 044 878 1990. How amazing would it not be to see all the little faces in homes filled with love this Christmas? Make a heart connection and come and light a candle for caring on 2 December at the Hyatt Regency Golf Resort & Spa.

Tickets are available at the event at R20 per person and include a candle. No bookings are necessary, so bring one and all so the merriment can increase whilst making a difference to the SPCA’s reach in the Garden Route. Pet gifts are welcome!

For more information contact the Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort & Spa on 044 851 1234.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Things I love about South Africa

Having moved to South Africa last year I thought it was time I shared my top 03 things that I love about living here. Living very close to the Indian Ocean on the Eastern Cape the deep sea fishing is fantastic. Sadly I cant go as often as I would like because of work but every time I go its always great fun. Generally there are three or four of us that go deep sea fishing off of the Port Alfred Coast. We normally leave early around about 6h30am and fish for about 6 hours or so depending upon how lucky we are at catching ! Of course there is nothing better than the taste of freshly caught fish cooked that evening.

Second on my list is walking our dogs on the endless sandy beaches. Our miniature schnauzers absolutely love running up and down the enormous sand dunes and then playing in the waves. Dudley, the grey one in the photo, generally tires himself out so much that we some times have to pick him up on the way back. The best time of day for a walk is first thing in the morning or late afternoon. You can't beat paddling along in the waves while your dogs wears themselves out. Walking back home watching the sunset infront of you is just pure delight and a perfect end to any day.
Third on my list is the view from our offices which overlooks Port Alfred Marina. You never tire of staring out across the marina on a sunny day watching the boats come and go. The marina even has its very own seal - Sammy the Seal - which can be seen frequently playing in the marina. Just the other week a dolphin was even spotted swimming around the waters. The marina is a real tourist attraction in Port Alfred with a number of charter boats taking people up the Kowie River or out to sea to fish.

Next up is the traditional Braai - of course where I came from it was known as a BBQ but to be honest a Braai is a very traditional and social activity in South Africa. We often get together with family or friends to enjoy a Braai. I have to say that the quality of meat on offer here is of a much higher quality than I was used to in the UK and our local butcher supplies excellent steaks, sausages, boerwors and ribs. Its just lovely to sit together outside enjoying a few drinks and the amazing smells coming from the Braai.

South Africa is a country rich in wildlife with an abundance of Game Reserves with a range of accommodation options. There are Game Reserves to be found all over South Africa and not just in provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The Eastern Cape now has some of the best private Game Reserves in South Africa. Its great to be able to just plan a short trip to stay on one of these as we did recently at Pumba Private Game Reserve situated between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth. I never seem to tire of seeing the magnificent Big 5 in their natural surroundings and feel very lucky to be able to do so.

South Africa is a country full of natural wonders such as Table Mountain, the Drakensberg Mountains, Cape Point, the Garden Route, Cape Winelands and many more. Its a joy and a pleasure to be able to visit these wonders and to share these with friends and family that visit us. There are many great hiking trails and walks that pass through some of the most beautiful countryside and include some spectacular views.

For more travel advice on where to stay, what to do and what to see in South Africa visit Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Prince and Duchess to visit South Africa

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting South Africa next month which intends to take in a number of visits to local and community projects. The Prince of Wales is now the president of the WWF in the UK and his visit to South Africa is intended to focus on the work of the WWF in its fight against fragile ecosystems and the protection of endangered species. They arrive for their visit on the 2nd November and
will be staying for about a week. During their tour they will be visiting townships and community projects across South Africa. The Duchess will also be going to see some of the child literacy programmes as well. The royal couple's tour of South Africa will include visits to Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal. Their tour is timed to take place just before the start of the Durban Climate Summit.
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

There's more to South Africa Game Reserves than just visiting Kruger National Park

We visited Pumba Private Game Reserve and Spa for a weekend in March 2014. Pumba Private Game Reserve is the 3rd largest privately owned Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. We drove from our offices in Port Alfred taking the Alicedale turnoff on the N2 between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth. Pumba Game Reserve is signposted off to the right off the Alicadale Road.  As you turn into Pumba you follow a gravel road for about 1km and then take a left into the entrance to Pumba.  Once through the gates there is a further track leading up to the Main Lodge at Pumba. As you head up to the Main Lodge you will start to see animals immediately with Blesbuck, Warthog and Blue Wildebeest grazing close to your track.

Pumba Main Lodge is an impressive thatched set of buildings joined by wooden paths. Pumba has two lodges the Msenge Bush Lodge and the Pumba Water Lodge where we were staying. The Pumba Water Lodge has the advantage of overlooking a beautiful lake which each cottage can enjoy from their balcony. The lake is a haven for birds, a variety of buck and of course the hippo which you can see and hear grunting in the lake. Occasionally these lumbering giants will come out of the water close to your accommodation which is an amazing sight. We even caught sight of a giant tortoise across the other side of the lake as well as two of the white rhino that roam around.

We went on four game drives during our stay at Pumba which were a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Our guide was called Peter and he had recently joined Pumba after working at Amakhala Game Reserve. Morning game drives started at 01h30 and finished at approximately 02h30. After each game drive you are welcomed back at the lodge with a hot or cold towel to freshen up along with drinks in evening. On each of the game drives there is a chance to stop and have a hot drink in the mornings and a sundowner on the evening drives. Pumba Private Game Reserve has a lovely relaxed feel to it along and along with the Big 5 that are on offer to see here it makes for a real alternative to travelling up to Limpopo to Kruger National Park. Pumba has white lions as well as normal lion and we were lucky enough to see the male and female who are simply magnificent. Late on during one of our evening game drives we caught sight of four Bat Eared foxes which is quite a rare sighting.

Evenings at Pumba are so relaxing as you sit and eat your delicious dinner whilst looking over the lake. A warm fire is always on the go and creates a lovely atmosphere. We got to know our fellow travellers on our game drives and on our last evening we enjoyed dinner together. It was lovely to exchange stories of other trips whilst listening to the hippos grunting in the lake below us.

The accommodation at Pumba Water Lodge is first class with lots of space, a large balcony and even a plunge pool to enjoy. There is an excellent choice of Game Reserves in South Africa and Pumba in the Eastern Cape offers a real alternative to the more traditional Kruger Reserves. For more information on South Africa and what to see and where to stay visit where2stay-southafrica
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Top Ten Natural Wonders of South Africa

Cape Winelands
Exploring the Cape Winelands in the Western Cape of South Africa is an indulging affair. The sheer number of Wine Farms and Wine Estates on offer is a treat for any budding wine connoisseur. The Winelands are located in a beautiful setting with undulating hills and imposing mountains particularly around Franschhoek. Vinyards stretch across the land hugging the bottom of the hills creating a patchwork of neat parallel lines.  The Franschhoek Mountains are not to be missed first thing in the morning as you will often see the clouds dripping over the mountain tops like a huge tablecloth.  Many people of course visit the famous Wine Estates of Boschendal, Laborie, Spier and Simonsig to name just a few but it is well worth exploring some of the smaller and lesser well know wineries. There are some excellent restaurants in the Winelands serving some delicious food and places like Franschhoek have a number of the Top 50 restaurants in South Africa located there.

Garden Route
Probably one of the most visited areas of South Africa after Cape Town the Garden Route stretches for 200km from Mossel Bay all the way up to Plettenberg Bay. There are two sides to the Garden Route – one is the well-developed coastal resort towns like Knysna, George and Plettenberg Bay while the other is the wilder areas such as Tsitsikamma and Wilderness and the famous Otter Trail which runs along the coast through the Tsitsikamma National Park. The main N2 road takes you through the Garden Route crossing bridges over rivers that flow down from the mountains to the north and passing through lush forests. To really see the Garden Route though you will need to take detours off the N2 and down towards the sea discovering places such as Nature’s Valley and Victoria Bay. This whole area is teeming with things to do such as the famous Bloukrans Bridge Bungee Jump which is the highest commercial jump in the world. At Tsitsikamma you can enjoy a Canopy Tour through the indigenous forest or take a zipline ride over waterfalls. Other popular things to do are horse-riding, abseiling, mountain biking and hiking.

If you are into walking or hiking then the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal are simply not to be missed. Stretching for 032 miles this impressive mountain range has become hugely popular with mountain climbers. The best time to visit is between May and September when the weather is dry and despite snow on the highest peaks the temperatures are still quite warm. Probably one of the most popular areas to visit in the area is the Royal Natal National Park which has over 80 miles of walking trails. The walks here are set against a stunning backdrop of the Amphitheatre created from an impressive rock wall that stretches across the skyline for about 4km. Other highlights include the famous Cathedral Peak where after hiking the 6km to reach the top you will be rewarded with some of the most stunning views of the Drakensberg.

Addo National Elephant Park
We have visited Addo National Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape a few times now and never tire of seeing these amazing creatures in such wonderful surroundings. There are over 500 elephants in a park that covers over 30,000 acres as well as lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard plus many others.  The great thing about Addo National Elephant Park is that you can drive yourself around. You are provided with a map when you enter the park and they will also tell you where various animals have been spotted that day. There are a number of water holes in the park that are a great place to spot animals. The park also has a special braai (BBQ) area set aside with places to braai, sit and eat. All you need to do is bring along some charcoal and some food and drink. Just watch out for the monkeys while you are there as they are very cheeky and will steal your food!

The Whale Coast
South Africa has some of the best whale watching opportunities in the whole world and the great thing is you don’t even have to go out on a boat to do it! The coastline which stretches from near Kleinmond all the way up the Western Cape coast to the De Hoop Nature Reserve is known as the Whale Coast.  From about July to October each year up to nine different whale species frequent the Indian Ocean waters off this coastline many to come and calve and then to rear their young. The most common type of whale you will see is the Southern Right Whale which is common to the Cape Town area. Hermanus has become world famous for visitors being able to stand on the cliff paths and watch these amazing creatures out to sea and even has its own annual Hermanus Whale Festival. However for perhaps a less crowded experience why not head to either the De Hoop Nature Reserve or De Kelders which are considered to provide even better places to watch the whales.

Namakwa (formally known as Namaqualand)
For something a little bit different why not travel out to the arid north-west corner of the Northern Cape of South Africa. From late July to November each year this normally arid region explodes into life with a sea of colourful flowers that can stretch for miles. This area of South Africa is best explored from the comforts of a 4x4 to fully appreciate the scenery. Springbok which is actually the capital of Namakwa is probably the most suitable place from which to base yourself as it has many of the amenities you require when on holiday. What is normally a sleepy part of South Africa truly comes to life with the large number of visitors that flock to the area during flower season. North of Springbok is the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park where with a 4x4 you can discover some of the most beautiful scenery to be found in Namakwa. The rugged terrain and wild flowers during the flower season attract many keen botanists.

Augrabies Falls National Park
After visiting Namakwa why not then move further north to visit to the Augrabies Falls National Park where you can find the sixth largest waterfall in the world. The falls here are fed by the Gariep River which drops down via a series of cataracts culminating in the 300 foot drop that creates the Agrabies Falls. The Gariep River provides some excellent white water rafting opportunities both above and below the Augrabie Falls. The park here is located close to the border of Namibia and is probably best visited between the months of March through to October when the day time temperatures are bearable although the evenings can be quite chilly.  You can view the waterfall best from the south side of the gorge and a particularly good time of day to visit is at sunset when you can see swallows and then bats flying around.  Hiking is extremely popular in the area especially the 2-day Klipspringer Trail. There is a charge to enter the National Park and the gates are open from 0130am to 03pm daily.

Blyde River Canyon
The spectacular Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga extends for some 26km and the depth of the canyon reaches up to 2,400 feet in some places. There are so many viewing spots it is impossible to list them all but some of the best places to view the canyon are from God’s Window where on a clear day you can see as far as Kruger and from the Three Rondavels where the canyon opens up and you can see the amazingly blue waters of the Blydespoort Dam way down below. You can learn all about the creation of this canyon, some 60 million years ago, at the Bourkes Luck Potholes visitor centre. The Bourkes Luck Potholes are the point where the Treur and Blyde rivers meet and where truly unusual rock shapes have formed from the swirling whirlpools creating a Swiss cheese type effect. There are a number of viewing spots here including World’s End and Lowveld Lookout which are easily reached from the R534 road.

Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is so big, measuring 60km wide by 350km long, that it actually stretches across Mpumalanga Province and Limpopo Province – 2 of the 9 provinces that make up South Africa. Kruger Park has an extensive network of roads that join the numerous camps dotted about. Accommodation in the park varies from the simple (and cheaper) self-catering accommodation to top of the range private game reserves. Hiring a car is essential to getting around but don’t worry you won’t be alone as the park attracts some 1.5million visitors every year. Of course the larger the park the easier it is for the animals to remain hidden from view so patience is a necessity here. The southern area of Kruger Park has the highest concentration of animals and with it most of the larger Kruger accommodation camps. The central Kruger Park region is a lot quieter with fewer camps and a lot less vehicles on the road and is more appealing to some visitors. You can still find all the Big 5 here although they are elusive especially the cheetah. The very northern section of the Kruger is very dry and quite remote. This area has very little water and hence the environment supports less animals.

Cape Peninsula
The Cape Peninsula incorporates some of the most visited spots of South Africa including Table Mountain, The Cape of Good Hope, the V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay & Clifton, Boulders Beach, Robben Island and False Bay.

From the top of Table Mountain you can see nearly all of these attractions in the distance. Make sure when you are staying in Cape Town to head to Table Mountain at the first sight of good weather. Planning Table Mountain into an itinerary can be a big mistake as you need to be flexible and go when the weather is good. Often the top of Table Mountain can be shrouded in what is known locally as the ‘tablecloth’ – low cloud that drips over the top of the mountain rendering sightseeing impossible.  Remember to keep an eye for the Rock Dassies when you are up there. A walk around the V&A Waterfront is extremely popular with lots of bars and restaurants for you to sit at and do some people watching. From the V&A Waterfront you can catch the boat to Robben Island for a half day tour. It is essential to book your tickets for this well in advance as these trips are very popular. Trendy Camps Bay and Clifton are a short drive from Cape Town and has some excellent sandy beaches. At lunch time and in the evenings the main promenade is the place to be seen and the place to eat – booking ahead is essential.  Take a drive along the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive which hugs the Atlantic Coast and provides some amazing views of the Twelve Apostles and a great driving experience. Continue on to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point but remember to hold on to your hats and sunglasses when you get to the top of the lighthouse as the winds here can be pretty strong.  Finally don’t forget to pay a visit to see the wonderful penguins on Boulders Beach about 2km south of Simon’s Town.
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Trip to Addo National Elephant Park

We left on Friday morning and entered from the N2 at the Colchester Gate.    The park has just about doubled in size in the last couple of years and the fence between the main Addo and the Colchester side has been removed, so the animals have much more space to roam. We immediately saw what the unexpected June/July rains had done – Addo looked like pictures you see of the Cape Flowers.    Beautiful long green grass and flowers everywhere and the animals looking very contented.

We arrived at about 2 p.m. and drove around the Southern part for quite a while – lucky to see lots of Buck, including the Eland, Red Hartebees and Kudu.   We also saw a lot of zebras – the number in the park of all the animals seems to have increased a lot – not sure if this is because they used to hide away more.

The new drives in the Southern Area are quite beautiful and very different from the original Addo with some breathtaking views over the whole area. We saw a lot of Buffalo – quite amazing how expensive they have become, heard on the radio the other day that one was sold on an auction for R18,000,000.00.   

The main attraction of Addo is of course the elephants and the number of herds seem to have grown as you see small groups of them all over.   The weather was not very hot with a chilly wind, so they were not all over the waterholes, guess they are also getting a lot of moisture out of the leaves and grass.

About half way between the Colchester Gate and the main rest camp is a picnic spot – called Jack’s spot.   This is well placed as the ablution blocks are spotless and a great spot to stretch your legs, have something to eat and drink.   The one thing to remember is that the only shop/restaurant is in the main camp, so when you go to Addo you need to take your own refreshments.

We spent 3 nights at the Addo Rest Camp – main camp – in a small chalet.    The Chalets are always immaculately clean and they have all the mod cons you need, including quite a large fridge, stove and  microwave, plus fully stocked as far as crockery and cutlery are concerned.    They also have convenient braai areas. The chalets are cleaned daily and new towels provided, so even if you are self catering you don’t have to wash all your own dishes etc.

On our first morning we were up bright and early, thankful that we were in our car with a heater as it was rather cold and windy.    The gates open at 01.30 a.m. and we were there, ready to enter at 01.30.    We saw a lot of Kudu – they are really beautiful and I know that most people think the males are the best with their spectacular horns, but the females are just so sweet with their big eyes and ears that stand up straight.
We decided to drive back to the Southern parts as there seemed to be more animals there the day before, so were really lucky to see a family of lions sleeping near the road – very satisfied with their lives.

Zebras must be the most sociable animals, you always seem to find them with other animals – that day we came across them with a whole flock of ostriches. We have noticed over the years that the number of warthogs have diminished, evidently the lions are very fond of warthogs. The amazing thing this time was the variety and colour of all the flowers, absolutely awe inspiring.    Of course the advantage of these flowers is that you also see the different animals in amongst them. We were lucky to see a couple of jackals as well as a whole family of meerkats – they are just so funny, they way they run through the grass.

One of the good things about Addo (or any Game Reserve) is that you get up early, do your game watching thing and then go back and have a midday rest – you don’t feel lazy as you have already done what you are there to do.

We have found that when we go to Addo it is better to take our food with us – the restaurant never used to be the greatest and when you have your food in the chalet, you can eat what you want to, when you want to.   There is a shop at the main camp, but also a very good Spar at Colchester, so self catering is very easy.   It is also a good idea to make sure you take something to eat and drink on game drives – sometimes they last longer than your originally planned.   A great idea is to make a picnic and have it about half way though your morning drive – lets you stretch your legs and by that time the food really tastes great.

To learn more about what to do and see in South Africa visit our South Africa Accommodation and Travel website.
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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Congratulations, Kosovo!

It was announced yesterday, or at least reported in the New York Times, that Kosovo has finally been given a chance to form their own soccer team and compete in international "friendly competitions."  This may or may not make them eligible for the next World Cup, but it's still a big step and we felt inclined to post a big congratulations to the country.  We watched the final matches of Euro Cup 2012 in Kosovo - mostly outside on pull down projection screens, on computers, on sides of buildings.  It was fan-demonium punctuated by calls to prayer and we wondered just how into it they would be if they had their own team to root for.  We wrote about the experience here.  Good luck Team Kosovo!

Read Euro Cup Runneth Over from our travels in Kosovo.
Look through our Kosovo archive.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Eastern Cape Coastal Route to Launch at Indaba 2014

Lions at Pumba
A holiday to South Africa is on most people's bucket list whether it be to achieve a lifelong ambition to go on safari or to visit the Mother City, Cape Town. Visitors travel from far and wide including the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands and typically stay for a longer period than the average two week holiday. Many visitors choose to hire a car and travel long distances to ensure they take in fully all that this diverse country has to offer. One of the most famous touring routes is the Garden Route which starts around Plettenberg Bay in the Eastern Cape and stretches for 200km down to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape.

At this year's Indaba Tourist Show in May 2014 a new route is being launched called the Eastern Cape Coastal Route. The route will cover over 900km of stunning coastline from Tsitsikamma all the way up to Port St Johns in the Wild Coast. The Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency and Open Africa formed the idea of a new tourist route to promote the Eastern Cape as a holiday destination. Many tourists may not be aware that the Eastern Cape has some of the best Game Reserves in South Africa. Stunning luxury safaris are available at Shamwari, Lalibele, Amakhala and Pumba all located in the Eastern Cape and offering Big 5 game viewing and in a malaria-free environment.

In addition the route will incorporate the Sunshine Coast a stretch of glorious beaches and popular holiday destinations from St Francis Bay up to East London.  Midway along the Sunshine Coast is the coastal town of Port Alfred built around the Kowie River which leads into the Indian Ocean.  Twice a year the Kowie River hosts annual rowing event for the SA Schools and Universities. There is a lovely marina here to accommodate the popularity of deep sea fishing off the coast here. All along the Sunshine Coast you will find coastal holiday spots like Port Alfred including Kenton-on-Sea, Kleinemonde, Hamburg and Kidds Beach.

The new Eastern Cape Coastal Route will offer a huge selection of activities for visitors from fishing, hiking trails, horse-riding on the beaches, diving and surfing. The launch of the route is coinciding with a government initiative to invest in tourism in the Eastern Cape.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where to get married...

Groenvlei Guest Farm
There is a huge choice of venues up and down the breadth of South Africa that provide some awesome settings for your wedding day. Clearly we cant tell you about all of them here but here is a sample of some of the places that will give you an idea of where to get married.

The Cape Winelands in South Africa offers stunning scenery with beautiful wine estates and majestic mountains like those found in Franschhoek. Just 17km outside the university town of Stellenbosch is the lovely Groenvlei Guest Farm set on its own grape farm and with views Table Mounatin from its terrace. The grounds of the Guest Farm provide a lovely setting for an outdoor wedding with upto 170 guests welcome. If the Western Cape is too far away then what about Oranje Guest Farm in Clarens in the Free State. This beautifully restored farmhouse has some panoramic views and grounds that will create the perfect South Africa outdoor wedding wedding photos.

If it is a beach wedding in South Africa you are looking for then Le Paradis Lodge in Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal is very popular. They can offer both weddings on the beach and at their lodge. They have two swimming pools and some lovely gardens ideal for photos. They also offer good rates for wedding functions.

For something a little different the Valverde Country Hotel in Lammermoor in the Muldersdrift area is an ideal for those looking for a wedding venue near Sandton, Midrand or Randburg. This unique Spanish style venue is located right on the doorstep of the Cradle of Humankind and offers a venue and great sleeping accommodation for the happy couple and their guests.
Oranje Gasteplaas - Clarens

Perhaps you fancy getting married on a Game Reserve. Well the Santa Paloma Guest Farm located just a short distance form Vincent in East London offers a tranquil setting with views all around of the valleys and wil running game. This Eastern Cape wedding venue are only to willing to sit down with you and discuss all your wedding day requirements. 

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Up,up and away over the skies of Cape Town

Cape Town Helicopter Flips

If you have ever walked or driven around Cape Town you will have been struck by the stunning scenery and of course the iconic Table Mountain that looks over the Mother City. Its unique position situated at the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantiic Ocean creates a dramatic coastline. From the majestic Twelve Apostle Mountains to the beautiful white sandy beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay what could be better than to see these sights from the sky.

A number of Helicopter Tour Operators now run from the V&A Waterfront offering a variety of helicopter flips over the Cape Town area. Whether you are on your own, treating a loved one or on holiday as a group there is a flight over Cape Town designed for you. The helicopter flights over Cape Town have become very popular with both locals and tourists. Some example prices for the different flight options are included below and are definitely worth the money.

Flying high above the Cape Town area its a chance to get some magnificent photos and to see the natural beauty that surrounds this city. Please note that flying over Table Mountain is strictly prohibited as the area is a national park and as such is protected. On your trip you will typically fly at an altitude of 2500 feet or 762 metres depending on the weather. Makana Aviation is just one of the helicopter operators in Cape Town and here are the different Helicopter Flips they offer:

The Hopper tour takes off from the V&A Waterfront and then heads over the city bowl and the recently built Green Point Stadium before heading over the Clifton beaches and the lovely white sandy beaches of Camps Bay. At the same time you will be able to have a great view of the Twelve Apostle Mountains before you head back to Cape Town.

Flight Duration: 12 - 15 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R1815.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R2420.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R3630.00
Per Person Rate: R605.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:30 & 16:30 Daily)

The Atlantico tour leaves the V&A Waterfront and follows the Atlantic Seaboard route down to Sea Point. The tour gives you an excellent view of Table Mountain, Robben Island and the V&A Waterfront harbour area. The trip takes you along Clifton, Camps Bay, the Twelve Apostles and onto Hout Bay which is the turning point before heading back to Cape Town.

Flight Duration: 16 - 20 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R2420.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R3225.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R4840.00
Per Person Rate: R805.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:00 & 16:00 Daily)

Three Bays
The slightly longer Three Bays trip follows the same route as the Atlantico to Hout Bay. After Hout Bay you will then have views of the famous Chapmans Peak Drive coastal road before reaching Noordhoek Beach. At Noordhoek your helicopter will fly inland and over to Fish Hoek before heading back past Kalk Bay, Muizenberg, Tokai, the Constantia Winelands, the famous Newlands Cricket and Rugby grounds, the University of Cape Town before finally heading back to the helipad at the V&A Waterfront.

Flight Duration: 24 - 30 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R3630.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R4840.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R7260.00
Per Person Rate: R1203.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:00 & 16:00 Daily)

The Point
The longest flip is The Point which takes you along the coast passing Sea POint, Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandadno and Hout Bay.After Hout Bay you can then see Chapmans Peak Drive before reaching Noordhoek Beach. The flip then continues south along the coast passing Kommtejie, the Cape of Good Hope, Dias Beach until reaching the famous Cape Point. Your helicopter will round Cape Point to follow the northern coastline back past Simonstown, Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay. Then its over the Constantia Winelands, Newlands Cricket ground, the Cape Town University before the final part of the flight back to the V&A Waterfront.

Flight Duration: 45 - 60 Minutes
Helicopter - Robinson 44 (1-3 Passengers) R7260.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 JetRanger (1-4 Passengers) R9680.00
Helicopter - Bell 201 LongRanger (1-6 Passengers) R14520.00
Per Person Rate: R2420.00 Per Person (Departing at 03:30 & 16:30 Daily)

Terms and conditions apply to all prices and flights and you should check these with your helicopter tour operator.

For more ideas on what to do and where to stay in Cape Town visit
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why not have a Tourism Grading System for Towns

Camps Bay near Cape Town
With so much emphasis put on establishments providing accommodation in South Africa to obtain a Tourism Grading to attract clients I can't help but wonder whether a similar tourism grading system shouldn't also be applied to towns and cities. Looking around the various holiday destinations around South Africa this could only have a positive effect. It is all well and good for establishment owners to ensure they are meeting the grade in terms of visitor expectations but what about the towns. There should be a responsibility placed upon municipalities up and down the country to raise their game.

A Tourism Grading system for destinations would encourage those responsible to ensure they are continually improving the facilities and overall look and feel of the town for the holidaymaker. Presently too much reliability is left to the local Tourism Offices who have to fight for funding for basic functional needs with the municipalities. In addition these Tourist Offices have no say on what needs to be improved in their locality to encourage visitors to come back. There needs to be a far broader joined-up approach between the local
Tourism Offices and the Local Municipality. A Tourism Grading System for holiday destinations in South Africa could provide real guidance and emphasis on how and what a town could do to improve its tourist market experience.

The answer is not to put up a few signs and to have a website with some nice photos on it (although these are still needed) it is to look at your town or city through the eyes of your typical tourist. In these times of economic downturn the repeat visitor and word of mouth recommendation is key to ensuring the long term viability and success of a town as a tourist destination. A tourist on holiday at the moment expects good quality accommodation in an area with plenty of things to do or see. Good quality accommodation in a seemingly run-down or neglected area is not going to encourage visitors to return.  Places like Knysna in the Western Cape set good examples of what can be achieved.

Ideas for a Destination Tourism Grading System:

As a suggestion Towns and cities in South Africa could be graded on the following:

1. Quality and availability of amenities Eg Public Toilets, Parking, Open Areas
2. Quality of the roads
3. Quality and Safety of the beaches
4. Quality and Availability of Outdoor Activities
5. Quality and Availability of Indoor Activities
6. Quality of Shopping areas
7. Family Friendly Destination

These are just a few ideas and I am sure others will have more. 
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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Table Mountain on a glorious hot day in February

We stopped over in Cape Town this February for 5 days to take in as many sites as we could with our friends from the UK. On our penultimate day the weather in the morning was really misty and the clouds hung low over Table Mountain and Lions Head. There was a slight breeze and we remained optimistic that the weather would improve so we could go up Table Mountain later in the day. We decided to head over to Camps Bay for a late brunch and found a very nice restaurant on the seafront serving an excellent choice of breakfasts. As we sat eating out brunch the weather was improving by the minute so we decided to go for it.

We headed off in our hire car out of Camps Bay and along the short route to the bottom of the Cable Car at Table Mountain. We managed to find parking within an easy stroll of the Cable Car - making sure our car was parked facing up the road towards the Mountain so as to avoid the R300 fine if you park facing down the hill!

We headed straight to the tickets - where there was no queue! - amazing for this time of year and day. Maybe Cape Town is suffering from international visitors along with everyone else. Anyway we quickly purchased our tickets (R180 each) and went straight to the Cable Cars where once again we got straight on with no queuing. 

The trip up the Cable Car is only a short one about 5-7 minutes and the car revolves a full 360 to ensure everyone gets a view. Once up there the weather was glorious. Sunny conditions with almost no wind - we slapped on our protective cream of course!

We then went on a stroll around the top of the mountain admiring the amazing views across Cape Town, Robben Island, V&A Waterfront and over to Cape Point. There are some fabulous photo opportunities right the way around but we were also keen to spot a Rock Dassie. Rock Dassies are small rodents which live up among the rocks. After we had almost given up we spotted them. There were about 6 or 7 of them including a very small baby one. 

After quite a long walk about we then headed off to the cafe/restaurant and bought a cold drink and sat outside at one of the tables enjoying the views. Occasionally a very light cloud would come over but it was so quick and light it was actually a nice respite from the heat. 

You really cant come to Cape Town without visiting Table Mountain but it really is a case of when you see some fine weather coming in then just head for the Cable Car. It is worth considering buying a combination ticket which includes the Two Oceans Aquarioum and Robben Island and represents quite a saving if you are thinking of visiting all three Cape Town attractions.To find out more about what to do and where to stay in Cape Town visit Where2Stay-SouthAfrica.
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Masterchef South Africa 2014 at Nederburg Winery

The Masterchef TV revolution has finally come to South Africa starting on M-Net and M-Net HD on 20th March 2014. The Masterchef series has become a worldwide phenomonen watched by millions globally and now its South Africa's turn to find their Masterchef 2014. 03,000 people entered the competition and heats have already been held up and down the country and now we start to get down to business. The contestants will go through 18 episodes of elimination rounds to find the Masterchef winner.

The three main judges will be Pete Goffe-Wood, Andrew Atkinson and Benny Masekwameng. Benny is the executive chef at MondoVino Restaurant at the Sun Square Hotel in Montecasino. Andrew is the executive chef at Piccolo Mondo at the Michelangelo Hotel. Pete is also well known for his involvement in the 'Eat Out' awards, his membership of the South African Chefs Association and for running cooking classes under the name 'Kitchen Cowboy'.

The Masterchef South Africa series will be shot at the Nederburg Wine Farm in Paarl. This prestigious wine farm will host the majority of the show in the huge auction hall which has been equipped as the kitchen. The auction hall has undergone a revamp with 20 cooking stations being installed along with over 15 tonnes
of wood, locally sourced, to cover the walls and floors.

The Cape Winelands is a firm favourite with international travellers to South Africa with stunning scenery, wonderful restaurants to eat at and beautiful accommodation to stay at. For more information on Cape Winelands Accommodation visit our website
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