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Cape Town to Durban Road Trip
15 Jan 2015
 
     

Cape Town to Durban Road Trip

Travelling to Durban from Cape Town is usually a breeze, and the only uneasiness is caused by take-off and landing, or that minor turbulence. Yet we decided to travel by car. We also decided to take the route through the Transkei. Sleep-wise, length-wise and travel-companion-wise, it is taxing to the extreme. It’s not easy. But suddenly it is, when moments like this happen and the sun starts setting while you’re driving through abandoned fields. Or when you stop at a fuel pump at ten o’clock at night and have to convince the family running that little station to be kind to a stranger. It’s the strangeness and beauty of the trip that makes it memorable and, when you arrive, worthy.

- Brad Harris

Garden Route Driving
6 Jan 2015
 
     

Garden Route Driving

Taking road trips through the Garden Route is a favourite pastime of mine. That's because of the diversity of experiences that the region has to offer as a whole. You could happen upon a deep, blue ocean and rolling dunes, and next minute you’ll be encompassed by fynbos-covered mountains. It’s the sea that attracts visitors to the Garden Route, but in places like this, where fynbos grows in rich colours and spreads across the Outeniqua mountains like a Persian rug, the area is at its most intimate. Away from the sea, the Garden Route is quiet, populated only by a few quaint locals, and begs to be explored.

- Brad Harris

The Coconut Kingdom
26 Feb 2014
 
     

The Coconut Kingdom

Franki for Travel Ideas Magazine

The coconut is king in Mozambique. Every coconut tree in this narrow, Portuguese-speaking country is owned by a local and each owner gets his money’s worth. Every part of the coconut tree is put to use. Leaves are used to build shelters and to stuff mattresses, while the coconuts are used for food, water and oil. A local showed us how it’s done…

During a recent media trip to Mozambique, I discovered why our neighbouring country is such a popular holiday destination. We landed at the Inhambane airport and headed straight to the local market where you can buy everything from fish to baskets to hand-crafted bowls.

From there, we jumped on a catamaran and made our way to the luxurious Massinga Beach hotel (89kms north of Inhambane). Massinga Beach is the ideal place for romantics, honeymooners and wedding ceremonies. Local influences are tangible and very much alive at Massinga Beach. You can go shopping right outside reception. Massinga Beach Hotel has a fabulous beach bar and as a group of jolly South Africans, we weren’t shy to make ourselves at home. Next on the ‘to sample’  list was the coconut. You can even drink a cocktail from a coconut…

Our next stop was Castelo do Mar, an ocean-fronting hotel situated on the northern peninsula of the Inhambane Bay. Our journey to Castelo was a visual feast! Castelo do Mar is ideal for families and groups of friends. Boat trips, diving and fishing opportunities are on your doorstep. On the last evening we played poker and roulette’s for a grand prize of another weekend stay at Castelo do Mar. Stakes were high. It was a great evening filled with laughter, poker faces and lots of betting. Gina, one of my travel pals, walked away with the prize. I didn't win the grand prize, but I got four of a kind!

After three glorious days, it was time to board the Embraer 110 aircraft for the journey home (private charters can be arranged for guests).

Masinga Beach: www.massingabeach.co.za; [email protected], +27 11796 5029

Castelo do Mar: [email protected], +27117965029 or +27 828544521

Sean Furlong Photography: www.seanfphotography.blogspot.com

For more photos, check out www.travelideas.co.za/the-coconut-kingdom

Nightjar Travelled
25 Nov 2013
 
     

How SA's like to travel

I recently received some research on how local travellers behave from Avios (www.avios.com), and it made me think. As anyone who follows me on Instagram will know, I travel a bit more than the average according to this research, but how do these numbers stack up against your travels?

Do you usually travel with friends / family? Are your trips usually between 3 - 5 days? Do you pay for most things by credit card? And most importantly, how do you research and plan your trips?
 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Laos Islands
20 Oct 2013
 
     

4000 Islands, Laos

By the time we reached Don Khong our journey had taken us on an overnight train from Bangkok to a town near the border, on a short ride to the border squeezed into the back seat of a local bakkie, on a shuttle to Pakse and finally on a ‘sawngthaew’ (basically a small pick-up truck with a row of seats down each side and a roof which is piled high with bags, boxes, chicken, bags of rice and everything else you can imagine) to the shore opposite our destination. But wow, was it worth the journey!

Don Khong is the largest island in the beguiling archipelago of islets and palm studded sand bars that scatter the widest part of “the mother of all rivers’, the Mekong. Pretty much a one-street affair with a quiet so still you can hear your own heart beating… a place where the skies seem wider, the air fresher and life better. 

Not to be missed is trying to spot the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. This fresh water dolphin is critically endangered with as little as of 7000 left in the world. Due to the help of the Laos and Cambodian Government as well as the local fishermen the pod living below Don Khon has increased from 20 to almost 100!

- Shan Routledge

The Panorama Route in Mpumalanga
31 Aug 2013
 
     

The Panorama Route in Mpumalanga

There is a place in Eastern South Africa that is touched with astonishing views and breathtaking locations. Whilst driving to Mpumalanga, I was teased by glimpses of the sunset beaming through some mountainous terrain on the tarred road. An aroma of winter grass was drifting through my vehicle as I munched on a road snack dropping little pieces of biltong everywhere. 

Travelling the ‘Panorama Route’ is always best done with a map of the area showing places of interest. This will also ensure you don’t miss out on any spectacular views but don’t be shy to try out any places that may come along your way that aren't necessarily on the map. 

First stop was the ‘Pinnacle’. I was pleasantly surprised to see a massive tall rock in the middle of a gorge. It was a very appealing rock with all its rockiness and foliage scattered on top. 

Travelling a little further up I came to a very well-known view called God’s Window a place that took my breath away. Feeling the breeze and listening to the birds made me fall in love with Africa all over again. 

I stumbled upon an area with an open panoramic view and my first reaction was a very loud... “Oh WOW” that had this sort of echo ability! Little did I realise that an entire viewing crowd was seated there staring in the quiet. They all kind of looked at me with this awkward frown as if to say, “Look what the hummingbird brought in”. I was flabbergasted by the display of non-verbal communication and it made me wonder if it was a rule in a hiker’s etiquette handbook to be silent at views. Next time I think I’ll approach a view with caution... 

There are a few waterfalls around the area that are truly spectacular including the Berlin Falls.

‘Bourke’s Luck Potholes’ features massive circular potholes with the Treur River running right through it.  

My journey brought me to the ‘Lowveld View’ which in my opinion has to be one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. 

The Blyde River Canyon was unbelievable! Apart from being one of the biggest green canyons in the world, I think it’s also one of the most awe inspiring wonders as well! The ‘Three Rondawels’ stood like monuments of rock almost seeming like guardians of this magnificent canyon. 

There are moments like these that become priceless in my life... moments that I just want to take in and treasure. South Africa is beautiful!

Route 395
25 Aug 2013
 
     

Route 395 is the long way to get from Reno down to Death Valley and on to Las Vegas in Nevada, but as always, the long way is the scenic way. It runs along the eastern side of the Sierras and for much of the way, you are surrounded by mountains and desert.

Ooh Route 62
12 Aug 2013
 
     

I know you are all getting tired of Route 62 photos by now... Oh who am I kidding, one could never! Here I find myself rushing through the most beautiful cloudy landscape because I forgot to fill up in the previous town and am now freaking out about getting stranded on a Saturday with only half a pack of biltong in my car. It eventually started raining to make me feel less guilty about only stopping for a photo every 30km, but then the light became so soft that it became even harder to focus on fuel economy. Well, I eventually found fuel, but let me just advise you that not all petrol stations along Route 62 are open over weekends, so don't pass up an opportunity to fill up!

Lake Toba
4 Aug 2013
 
     

Most of Indonesia is pretty damn hot and humid. After a few weeks of needing to shower three times a day I decided it was time for a change. Another scruffy backpacker tells me, ’There’s a lake, some say it’s the biggest volcanic lake in South East Asia, Its quite high up, almost high enough for you to want hot water.’ I’m sold. Several buses later I reach Lake Toba. The tourist area is more of a ghost town, with tens of empty restaurants and homestays offering everything from ‘pizza’ to magic mushrooms… The lake is a beauty and a few days lounging in its waters with a book were just what my dusty sweaty backpacking feet needed!

 – Sara Barnes

Hit the road Jack
29 Jul 2013
 
     

I had fun this weekend, escaped a lunch party in Franschhoek and made a dash for the hills. For me there’s nothing like having the roof down, sun streaming in and a sporty engine just waiting a foot to deck it. Music’s part of the package, with Ray Charles blasting I flew over the pass “Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more, Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more. What you say?"

It may be an old blues song but it rocketed straight to the top of the charts in the 60s and also won a Grammy award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. Another line that springs to mind when the wind's blowing through my hair is “Not a cloud in the sky, Got the sun in my eyes” by the Carpenters. Forget about smelling the flowers - just “Hit the road Jack!"

Text & Image: Shaen Adey

Beat the winter blues
28 Jul 2013
 
     

Winter getting you down? Well this might cheer you up! A 2.5 hour flight from Johannesburg to Pemba, northern Mozambique and you’re a short island hop from Azura at Quilalea - the ultimate in barefoot island luxury. Nine beautifully designed, spacious villas are dotted around the shores of the idyllic private island – each opening up onto a private terrace and beach. Dinner is usually a candlelit affair on the main beach; there’s a cool bar and pool area - complete with incredible views over the inviting azure waters, but should you prefer to hole up in your villa, a private butler meets your every need. Leisurely walks around the island take you past towering baobabs to the white sands of the turtle-nesting beach and there’s sea kayaking, snorkelling and some of the best dive sites in southern Africa in the marine sanctuary surrounding this island. Humpback whales are regularly seen from the shore from July to December. It’s the little touches that make Azura at Quilalea so special; champagne on ice in your room, romantic picnics on Turtle Beach, a tour with a birding fundi, funky chandeliers made of recycled plastic, ‘real’ milk in the fridge and a telescope to study the star-studded sky. Whether you need an upmarket Robinson Crusoe-style escape, a romantic weekend or a way to beat the winter blues I can think of no better place.

http://azura-retreats.com/quilalea/

Text: Fiona McIntosh
Image: Shaen Adey

Roadtrippin' along Route 62
17 Jun 2013
 
     

My girlfriend and I often have an unusual argument when we go on long road trips. You see, we fight over who gets to drive and not over who gets to sleep, as we are both motoring enthusiasts. The upside of this is that we are not shy to add a few extra kilometres to a journey, and we recently did the Cape Town - Joburg drive over one day but diverted along Route 62 for a few hours. As you can see, this turned out to be the best thing we've done this winter!

Route 62 is famous for being a great way to explore the Western Cape, and makes for many, many an interesting stop. However, the multitude of mountains you pass through on the well maintained road makes it a great drive even if you don't intend on stopping. The photo, by the way, is of snow on the mountains outside Montagu. For more reading, check out:

http://www.nightjartravel.com/activities/route-62

 – Erik

Exotic travel
8 Jun 2013
 
     

Air travel used to be glamorous. But with low cost airlines, more and more people taking to the skies and endless security checks it’s lost all its allure. After waiting in the immigration line in Miami airport for nearly two hours, then another half-hour for the hotel transfer bus I was about to throw in the towel. Landing in Belize City completely restored my faith.

Far from the main hubs air travel is still exotic. A band was playing in the arrivals hall; the air was thick with the smell of freshly ground coffee and the immigration officers smiled as they addressed us, their English heavily accented with Creole. Our onward connection was in a Caravan, with only one pilot at the helm (I’m sure that’s against all airline regulations!) Five minutes after take off it touched down on the tiny reclaimed strip that serves as the downtown airport, and then we were airborne again skimming low over the island-studded waters and reefs of the Gulf of Honduras. It was wonderfully laid back; how travel should be.

 – Fiona McIntosh

The Swartberg Pass
26 Feb 2013
 
     

It’s always fun to listen to how differently people experience the same thing. We saw a study recently that claimed that colour (for example the colour of the mug from which you drink your hot chocolate) significantly influences your perception of taste. 

In a similar vein, the Swartberg Pass between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert in the Western Cape has given rise to almost legendary stories about its “toughness”. And, sure, when it’s wet or covered in eight inches of fresh snow, it must be utterly treacherous. But, when were recently boxed in between a Jaguar sports car and a Citi Golf, it almost felt like just another city road! 

There may be debates about exactly how tough the Swartberg Pass really is, but about one thing there is little room for doubt: it is one of the most beautiful mountain passes in the country... 

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Nightjar

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Erik