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Muizenburg Beach
21 Aug 2014
 
     

Muizenburg Beach

We woke up before sunrise and drove in the dark towards Muizenburg. When we arrived, I was starving, but Knead Café was still closed. 7:30 a.m. That’s when I get my croissant and coffee. An hour and a half away. So we sat down on the still grey beach, with surfers already slipping their wetsuits on around us, and waited. It starts slowly, the sunrise, with pinks and reds and yellows stripping the night sky – beautiful. The sun rises over distant mountains, and then turns the sea into liquid gold… 8 a.m. hits. It’s that beautiful. But still Knead welcomes us in with coffee and croissants, except now we run back out. Already the beach is attracting the crowds, but, early in the morning, when no one besides the oldest surfers thinks to go out, it’s at its best.

- Brad Harris

Mo and Rose at Soekershof
8 Aug 2014
 
     

Mo and Rose at Soekershof

Mo and Rose's wine bistro is ensconced in the beautifully renovated old barn just outside Robertson on the road to Ashton. Experience genuine Tischkultur (fine dining) - a refined dining experience filled with attention to detail and a friendly atmosphere, in a lovely country setting. Mo & Rose's mission is to serve thoughtfully handcrafted fare utilising fresh local produce with most of the vegetables and herbs farm-grown. The wine bistro pays tribute to the passion of winemaking with its stellar selection of boutique wines from renowned wineries both local and beyond...

(GPS coordinates: -33.81122, 19.979579)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/animals-nature/mo-and-rose-soekershof

Padstal near Yzerfontein
8 Aug 2014
 
     

Padstal near Yzerfontein

It’s raining when we arrive, but we have spotted the giant sign inviting us to see a tiger and there’s no holding us back from that. In the middle of nowhere (Yzerfontein), we have stumbled across a “padstal” that is full of glorious creatures. I find myself being photo-bombed by a cockatoo and having a conversation with a rainbow macaw. We are served a delicious farm-style breakfast next to a fireplace and the waiter tells us all about the hour-long tour where we get to see a tiger and a panther! It feels like we have stepped into this magical world of exotic birds and exciting creatures. You never know what you may find in the middle of nowhere.

- Daniella Toscano

The Man with the Golden Car
1 Aug 2014
 
     

The Man with the Golden Car

The only words that we managed to muster were, “Only in Durban”. Literally, where else in the world would you find a car like this? The reflection from the car shone so bright in my eyes it actually blinded me. But I couldn’t stop looking, and the owners didn’t seem to mind a bit.

- Megan Pilditch

3 Cool things to do at Table Mountain this winter
30 Jul 2014
 
     

3 Cool things to do at Table Mountain this winter

Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism

As a visitor to our fair city, you’ve probably been told if not once, then a million times, that you simply MUST visit Table Mountain, Cape Town’s wonder of nature. Sure, that’s relatively easy to do in the summer, but just what is there to do at this iconic attraction in winter? Oh, if you only knew…

Grab your comfy, warm jackets and join me for the following cool things to do at Table Mountain this winter:

Spine-chilling views:

Weather permitting, the cable cars run daily from 08h30 to 18h00 and this gives you plenty of time to take in that magnificent 360 degree view of the Mother City.

Once on top, prepare to be astounded by the sheer magnitude of beautiful vistas – nothing beats watching a Capetonian sunset from the Twelve Apostles Terrace, the endless views of the Fairest Cape sprawled below  or spotting  one of 1 460 different species of plants and possible a Dassie or two.

Charge those camera phones – you’re going to want to take amazing photos!

Snuggling in style:

Let’s face it: there is nothing more romantic that snuggling with your beloved at a fireside and stargazing from the comfort of your tent. This chilly season, do it in style at the luxurious Orangekloof tented camp in the Table Mountain National Park.

For the nature and adventure lovers, the day-long hike along the Hoerikwaggo Trail from Table Mountain to the camp in the Constantia Nek Valley builds up quite the sweat and anticipation and is the ideal winter getaway for two.

Quality family time for less:

Travelling with your precious darlings and keen for an adventurous experience with a difference but watching your budget? Why not try the Cableway Kidz Season Special, which sees two kids riding the Cable Car for free, with every paying adult, each weekend, on public holidays and during the school holidays.

The fun-filled Kidz Season deal is a real treat for mini-adventurers who can collect treasure hunt maps from the Ticket Office, a sweet treat from the Shop at the Top and a Dassie Biscuit from the Table Mountain Café when they hand in the vouchers printed on the map. 

FYI: The Mountain is chilling out between Monday 28 July 2014 and Sunday 10 August 2014 for maintenance.

Dingwall: Northern Scotland, UK
20 Jul 2014
 
     

Dingwall: Northern Scotland, UK

A castle-like hotel was what attracted me first, but the countryside kept me there. This was my last stop on a tour of the UK, and it reminded me most of home. On a shaky bus into Dingwall, I overheard an elderly couple expressing their distaste with the season: ‘Marge, do you know what I’d do if I saw a bloody tourist this season? I don’t know what I’d do!’. It’s a miracle I heard it through their sing-song accent, but even though I did, I wasn’t put off. The experience encouraged me. This was the real Scottish countryside, where tourists are looked on poorly. It’s where you always eat local produce, because they don't get anything else. I hardly noticed the grey skies and cold. I noticed the rolling green lawns, red leaves and twisting trees that form little forests with chimney smoke snaking above.

- Brad Harris

Venice Canals, LA
6 Jul 2014
 
     

Venice Canals, LA

Stepping across the road from the trendy glitz and muscle-pumping glamour of Venice Beach on a Californian summer Sunday, we suddenly find ourselves on the enchanting sidewalks of the Venice Canals. This small rectangle of tranquil waterways is all that remains of a grand plan to transform once-fetid marshlands into a showpiece of Venetian splendour. The ambitious project was drastically curtailed in car-obsessed Los Angeles when most of the ersatz canals were paved over. A steady decline into shabby bohemia led far-sighted developers to do a cleanup in the 1990s. They hired clever architects to create eclectic space-saving designs that range from Tuscan villas and miniature turreted castles to cute Swiss cottages and modern mini-mansions.

Some of the original wood and stucco houses remain. Souped up, they offer a deliberate - and undeniably effective - olde worlde charm. Surprisingly few of the somewhat top-heavy larger homes appear to be inhabited. As we stroll past one exquisitely landscaped 'front yard' after the other, lulled by the chatter of ubiquitous Mexican gardeners, we can't help being absolutely captivated by the magical atmosphere that pervades this premium real estate. And we can't help wondering why, apart from the odd duck waddling past, we seem to have these entrancing pathways almost entirely to ourselves. Heading back to the beachfront, we immediately succumb to LA hype mode as we rejoin the thronging masses and order a corndog.

Bloubergstrand
2 Jul 2014
 
     

Bloubergstrand

Bloubergstrand is known for its long, sandy beach and its lively surf - ideal for kitesurfing, windsurfing and surf skiing. Large waves are propelled by the Cape’s southeaster winds. Kitesurfing is particularly popular with adrenaline seekers here. There are a few kitesurfing schools offering lessons all year-round. While the water is cold and the beach can be windy, it’s also a popular spot for tanning, dog-walking, kite flying and photography...

(GPS coordinates: -33.796, 18.456345)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/activities/bloubergstrand

Pansy Island
22 Jun 2014
 
     

Pansy Island: Inhambane, Mozambique

The picturesque Pansy Island isn’t well known to most of Mozambique’s visitors. I arrived on the thin white strip of paradise by hiring a dhow captain in Inhambane harbour, who sailed me out of the channel and into the Indian Ocean. After an hour's trip over small swell, I arrived to white shores, blue shallows and colourful sea life. Probably thinking I was looking for something more exciting, my captain opened up a bottle of Tipo Tinto rum. He and his deckhand drank and told me stories about the beach – and I discovered that the locals are friendly, but only tell their stories in Portuguese. Still, if you prefer a sober captain, it’s the perfect place for snorkelling over coral, seaweed, anemones and shellfish – all of the most extreme colours. As for me, I spent the rest of my time admiring the vast store of precious Pansy Shells that the beach holds.

- Brad Harris

Your Top New Things to Do This Winter
11 Jun 2014
 
     

What’s New in Cape Town: Your Top Things to do this Winter

Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism

Thought Cape Town only had really cool new things to do in summer? 

Ha! Winter in the chilly Mother City is my favourite time of the year because not only are there unbelievable specials on offer but there is also a feast of GREAT fresh events, activities and products to experience.

Now, quit your moaning about how it’s too cold to go out and join me for these belly-warming, soul-rejuvenating, heart-racing new things to do in Cape Town this winter:

Boomslang Aerial Walkway at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

If the idea of getting a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and Cape Flats from the top of the ridiculously beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden gets you all hot and bothered, you simply cannot miss out on a visit to the recently opened Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, aka Boomslang (tree snake).

Fair warning – the stroll to the Boomslang, a physical commemoration of the Garden’s 100 year anniversary in 2013, is at least a brisk 15 minutes long but trust me; the picturesque vistas are totally worth it! Gorgeous even in the pouring rain, this unique Garden structure is also wheel-chair friendly.

Remember to wear your wellies (gum boots), as the Garden can get quite muddy, and don’t forget to pack your umbrella and camera for those must-have “I was there” pics. www.sanbi.org

Lucky Fish&Chips

So, you’ve got an epic night of partying all along Long Street planned but you’re starving and nachos just ain’t gonna cut it… why not head down to Lucky Fish&Chips for your late night snack?

With some legendary specials including a R29.50 half portion of fried hake and chips and trading hours from 10h00 to 22h00 Mondays to Saturdays, this seafood joint is a party animal’s foodie dream. www.facebook.com/LuckyfishandChips

Clay Shooting Luxury Charters at the V&A Waterfront

Got a killer aim and dying for some sea breeze action? It doesn’t get better than a clay shooting experience on-board a luxury charter in the Table Bay Harbour.

Departing from the impressive V&A Waterfront, your exhilarating charter escapade includes 15 shots per person at clay pigeon and all of your adventure necessities including guns, licences, ammo and an experienced facilitator. www.waterfrontcharters.co.za

Howick Falls
22 Apr 2014
 
     

Howick Falls

Howick is more than just a small town and a great retirement spot. This peaceful place, nestled in the KZN Midlands, is home to a beautiful 310 foot waterfall which lies on the Umgeni River. Visitors to Howick Falls have the option of viewing the great wall of water from a distance, or embarking on a 30 minute hike to the bottom of the falls - both are rewarding and provide great photo opportunities. If you like a bit of retail therapy, the surrounding area is littered with neat curio shops, rich with South African style and you will be surprised at how many foreigners you will meet. It really is an underrated tourist spot!

- Daniella Toscano

Jacaranda Shipwreck
16 Apr 2014
 
     

Jacaranda Shipwreck

The notorious and spectacularly beautiful Wild Coast of South Africa partly derived its name from its wild character, but mostly from the pounding breakers and cauldron of boiling seas when stormy conditions reign. This part of the Eastern Cape coast has been the graveyard of many vessels through the ages, and shipwrecks and artefacts bear testimony to the loss of lives that have taken place there. One of these is the Jacaranda, which was wrecked at Qolora Mouth. You can walk there from Trennery's Hotel, since driving is not permitted closer than 1km from the coastline...

(GPS coordinates: -32.619515, 28.469353)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/animals-nature/jacaranda-shipwreck

City Sightseeing at Sunset
9 Apr 2014
 
     

City Sightseeing at Sunset in Cape Town

Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town, our gorgeous Mother City is amazing to explore during the day but have you ever seen how spectacular it is from aboard the City Sightseeing Bus at dusk? Now, with their amazing Night Tour, you can!

Running until May 5, 2014, this magical experience gives you the wonderful opportunity to take a leisurely drive along the Atlantic Seaboard, before stopping off for a picnic of your own making and an unparalleled view of the Capetonian sunset from the top of Signal Hill.

The only one of its kind in the world, the Night Tour is great for spending quality time with the family or for a romantic evening with your beloved.

BEFORE YOU HOP ON, HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

• It’s a priceless view but a totally affordable experience: Book your Night Tour tickets online and only pay R90 instead of R100.

• Don’t miss the bus: The bus departs from and ends at the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront, leaving at 17h30 daily until May 5, 2014.

• It’s a whirlwind tour: The total length of time of the entire tour is approximately two to three hours but please note, it is not a hop-on, hop-off tour.

• Come hungry and pack a picnic with all your favourite food and drinks. 

DID YOU KNOW?

City Sightseeing, the first carbon neutral bus company in South Africa, has been hailed as a global leader in sightseeing and, in addition to the Night Tour, runs two exciting routes, the Red City Tour and the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour - which includes a free Wine Tour bus to Constantia Valley.  Also on offer is the City Sightseeing Canal Cruise which offers the chance to experience the V & A Waterfront from a completely different angle whilst enjoying this nautical adventure for only R30. www.citysightseeing.co.za.

Rallystar
27 Mar 2014
 
     

Rallystar

If you’ve ever dreamt of being a rally driver, here’s your chance to drift those gravel corners. At Rallystar you get to drive a real rally car and inject some real adrenaline into your day. Before you start you’ll be given some tips on drive-lines, car behaviour and the course. A specialist driver then guides you around the track to point out some of the dangers. Then do a hands-on “engine tour” of the Subaru’s turbo power. The true test happens once you’ve looked under the bonnet … fire up the car and take on the Rally Special Stage with a professional navigator at your side. Top Gear - in real life!…

(GPS coordinates: -26.04277, 28.396016)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/activities/rallystar

Table Mountain Cableway Special
22 Mar 2014
 
     

Birthday Special 

"The cable car floor is about to revolve in 1… 2… 3…" Time stands still, as you you glide into the air, your receding view of the city and harbour below gradually giving way to a magnificent 360-degree panorama amid gasps of amazement from the sixty-five or so locals and tourists in your car. Dizzying up-close rock formations herald your arrival at the top of what early Khoi San inhabitants called Hoerikwaggo, 'Mountain of the Sea', formed below the ocean more than 600 million years ago.

I have a vague memory of a rather terrifying trip up Table Mountain in a small open cabin, now on display along with two other cable cars dating back to the Cableway's 1929 inception. Being a Capetonian, the thought of going up again didn't feature until I decided to give the Birthday Special a go, arriving at the Lower Cable Station only to find the cableway closed due to high winds. Cape Town weather is always a gamble.

Issued with a free pass valid for 7 days, the promise of a perfect day dawned and I seized the opportunity. Walking along well laid out paths to various lookout points, I felt the same breathtaking awe that hits you at the rim of the Grand Canyon. At every turn, you're confronted with indescribably spectacular and never-ending views - over the city with the V&A Waterfront, Table Bay and Robben Island beyond, the Atlantic seaboard with its surprising number of beaches, the southward stretch all the way to the Kommetjie Lighthouse, and the Cape Flats with those pale blue mountains far in the distance. 

Free short guided walks are also offered at the Twelve Apostles Terrace below the Shop at the Top and the Table Mountain Café. Ameer, knowledgable and user-friendly, enlightened us about the Fifteen Apostles, the elephant-related dassies that feed on blister bushes, the diverse fynbos, floral kingdom and much more. A geographically-correlated relief map of the Peninsula showing relative direction and distance to far off cities was of special interest to a sudden horde of schoolkids, and Hong King honeymooners were amazed to learn that they were 11,863km from home, "just over there…" 

The clouds were beginning to roll in from the south as we started our descent with much camera action and self-congratulation on our perfect timing. As you leave, you can buy your pre-expedition photos, bundled with a convincingly contrived sunset shot, a CD of general pics, and two post cards - alas, too late for snailmailers to pop into the postbox at the top this time round, but you'll be back! A Cable Card for a year's unlimited access is a bargain at R510.

If you have the time and energy, a popular alternative is to hike up the 3km Platteklip Gorge route and take the cableway down. If not, skip the crowds by arriving mid afternoon, preferaby after booking online at www.tablemountain.net and checking the weather conditions.

For the Birthday Special, all you have to do is grab your South African ID and carpe diem natalis!

Cable Car Beach Front
1 Mar 2014
 
     

Cable Car Beach Front

Durban’s fun fair on North Beach offers a wide mix of activities, my personal favourite being the cable car ride. The chance to view Durban’s spectacular beaches and harbour from above, whether at day or night, is so enticing! As I am quite afraid of heights it was a comfort to share a cable car seat with my two close friends, and to be in the vicinity of many an unfamiliar yet encouraging and friendly face on the seats in front and behind us. For a mere R20 we were able to sit in silent awe as we circled the night sky looking out at twinkling boats and crashing waves.

- Ashleigh Bargate

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