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Expedition Africa 2016
15 May 2016

Nightjar Travel's very own Fiona McIntosh will be part of the Merrell Mentored Adventure Team setting off at 8am on Sunday 15th May on the Expedition Africa Adventure Race 2016. The 500km multi-discipline endurance race in the Garden Route combines mountain biking, trekking, kayaking, rope work and orienteering, and teams are required to complete the entire Expedition distance together (always within hearing and visual distance of each other), helping and assisting each other in harsh remote environments in all weather conditions. 

This is a first expedition race for journalists, Fiona, Shaen Adey and Sarah Hearn, and they have special dispensation from the race organisers to post photos and the lowdown directly to their Facebook page, which will offer a fascinating insight into the raw, unfiltered emotions they experience as they confront each challenge along the way. We wish them all the best for a thrilling adventure!

Snorkeling with Seals in Cape Town
24 Oct 2015

Think “adventure in Cape Town” and your first thoughts will probably be along the lines of shark cage diving, hiking up Table Mountain and kite surfing in Blouberg. Now, along with a helicopter flip around the Atlantic, there’s a new activity to add to your adventure bucket list. Just 20 minutes out of the Cape Town city bowl, in the quaint harbour town of Hout Bay, you’ll find Animal Ocean’s boat, ready and waiting to take you just offshore to Seal Island (or Duiker Island), home to a colony of close to 7000 Cape Fur Seals. Animal Ocean are the seal snorkeling experts and are dedicated to getting you in the water with these fantastic creatures. Their 8m Rib (inflatable boat) takes up to 10 snorkelers...

(GPS coordinates: -34.04873, 18.347097)


Horse Whispers
2 Feb 2015

Horse Whispers is located on a 2 000ha conservancy. It offers a variety of horse trails across open fields and rolling hills, along pretty streams and through beautiful forests. The diversity of vegetation attracts a wonderful array of birds and wildlife. Horse Whispers offers tailor-made experiences to match any occasion - be it corporate team building, a marriage proposal, a birthday celebration or a wedding. The usual rides on offer are a one-hour ride, a two-hour ride, a ride-and-picnic experience and a sundowner ride...

(GPS coordinates: -25.012232, 31.110167)


Noordhoek Beach Horse Rides
15 Oct 2014

Noordhoek Beach Horse Rides

Imhoff Equestrian Centre offers two-hour horse rides along Noordhoek beach, which are combined with short bush rides. En route to the beach, particularly in the wetlands, you experience a diverse range of bird life. This includes a myriad waterbirds, cranes, geese and even rare flocks of flamingo. Once at the beach you can let loose and ride through the waves with sea spray in your face and the wind in your hair. Or you can choose the more sedate option and enjoy the sense of space as your mount takes you gently along the long white stretch of sand..

(GPS coordinates: -34.142709, 18.350502)


Kloofing, Strijdom Tunnel
7 Jul 2014

Kloofing, Strijdom Tunnel

Limpopo offers a number of great kloofing experiences, but this one should top your adrenaline list. Kick off this outdoor expedition of note near the Strjidom Tunnel entrance near the border with Mpumalanga. It is top-notch adventure from the word go, with a hike down to the banks of the Olifants River; along the way, you will pass a magnificent waterfall as well as some fascinating caves. Next up on the menu is some boulder-hopping and pool-jumping as you follow the stream bed into a dense tangle of indigenous, riverine forest. Your excursion will last anything from three to five hours and you need to get at least six people together in order to book this amazing adventure... 

(GPS coordinates: -24.485918, 30.824772)


Lydenrust Horse Trails
29 May 2014

Lydenrust Horse Trails

Lydenrust Farm is situated in a lovely valley on the Mpumalanga escarpment close to the Kwena Dam (previously the Braam Rubenheimer Dam). The horse riding is through pretty montane grassland with some fun and mildly challenging ups and downs. The most popular trail takes one-and-a-half hours, but you can choose to ride for longer if you like. On the longer trails you may spend a short while on a quiet gravel road to get to the dam...

(GPS coordinates: -25.336022, 30.32737)


Southern Comfort Ranch Quads & Hose Riding
23 May 2014

Southern Comfort Ranch Quads & Hose Riding

The Southern Comfort Western Horse Ranch is situated on the Garden Route, halfway between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, right next to the Garden of Eden. This out of the ordinary forest retreat is well known for horse rides in the Knysna Forest. Guided horse rides are for the whole family, beginners or experienced riders. Quad bike rides on a guided trail in the Knysna forest can be quite challenging with ups and downs, as well as sharp turns although there are some nice straights as well...

(GPS coordinates: -34.025045, 23.226546)


500 kilometre non-stop race on KZN's South Coast
23 May 2014

500 kilometre non-stop race on KZN's South Coast

Adventure racing is a bit Survivor does Amazing Race; but no-one gets voted off the island, competitors participate in teams of four and they don't get to travel on planes or in cars. Feet, mountain bikes and kayaks will transport these rugged competitors over 500 kilometres of South Africa's South Coast during the 2014 edition of Expedition Africa, which starts on Sunday, 25 May 2014.

Adventure racing is an outdoor sport that sees teams navigating by means of map-and-compass to defined checkpoints and transition areas. It's incorporates multiple sports where each transition area marks a discipline change, say from trekking to mountain biking or paddling. These are the sport's three main disciplines; there's usually a rope section too where participants go up, down, or across a steep and challenging section.

In the build-up to this gruelling endurance event, adventure racing journalist Lisa de Speville delights in telling people about the event. Her conversations with people go something like this:

"There's this really incredible adventure race happening on the South Coast soon," she begins. "There are 40 teams and participants from 17 countries. They'll have to hike, bike and paddle around 500 kilometres from start to finish."

"500 kilometres? For real?" the person asks. 

It's the distance that always catches attention. People gasp at the kilometres rather than the fact that there are people from 17 countries coming to South Africa to play on Kwa-Zulu Natal's magnificent South Coast. Lisa answers the question anyway.

"500 kilometres isn't really as bad as it sounds. The total distance is split into legs and between the different sporting disciplines so there could be say 40 kilometres of hiking and then 80 kilometres of mountain biking and then 30 kilometres of paddling... that's already 150 kilometres. The crunch is that the legs follow one after the next... And it's a race. So the teams just keep going from one leg to the next and the next and the next and the next. OK, so 500 kilometres is sort of as bad as it sounds."

"How long is that going to take? A month?"

"No," she says laughing. "The front teams will be done within four days and the slower teams have like eight days to get to the finish."

"Four days? You've got to be kidding me!  I take it that they stop at night to sleep?" the person responds.

"Nah, they don't. Well, not really," she replies. "When the race starts on the Sunday morning, the teams shoot off. They've got to find checkpoints and pass through transition stations and when they get to the finish they can stop. It may be four, five, six or eight days after the start... They do sleep but not very much. Two hours here, four hours there. It's really quite incredible what one can do on very little sleep." 

For the rest of Lisa’s charming responses, see:

Follow online: Live tracking, team information, feeds, leader board, photographs, daily videos:


Twitter: #expafrica

Event Organisers: Stephan and Heidi Muller. Kinetic.

Adventure Racing World Series:

Spot the Shipwreck!
16 Apr 2014

Spot the shipwreck!  Explore beaches on horseback with Sleepy Hollow Riding School

Carla Gontier for Cape Town Tourism

Sleepy Hollow Riding School is nestled in the heart of Noordhoek, close to the sprawling beach and right next to the wetlands – right near the majestic Chapman’s Peak. It was established in 1975 as a riding school, and is the oldest riding school in the Noordhoek valley.

Sleepy Hollow is a horse riding school, but offers Bush Trails and Beach rides on Noordhoek’s  8km beach, where you can take a gentle walk or trot along the beach (home of The Kakapo shipwreck!) on one of Sleepy’s 17 horses.

Upon arrival at Sleepy Hollow, you will receive riding shoes and a horse is allocated to you. The rides are perfect for riders of all levels, and even if you have never ridden a horse before (like me) you will still feel right at home on one of these gentle creatures.

The walk takes you through the front of the school and along the quaint roads of Noordhoek, before you enter the beginning of the dunes to Noordhoek beach. Once on the beach, the horses ride along the water’s edge, allowing the rider to take in the beauty of the ocean, sand and gorgeous backdrop of Chapman’s peak and the mountains. The ride takes you all the way to the edge of the beach, where you are just able to spot the shipwreck, before turning back and heading through the wetlands, riding through the bulrushes.

In addition to providing riding lessons and beach rides for the public, Sleepy Hollow also offer Hippotherapy -  the use of a horse to achieve a variety of therapeutic goals. The benefits of therapeutic horse riding are as numerous as the types of disabilities and conditions served.

A ride along Noordhoek beach is one of Noordhoek’s best kept secrets – and definitely a must-do for any visitors to the area, especially if you love horses!

For more information, visit

Photo: Aslam Levy

Tubing in the Midlands
2 Apr 2014

Tubing in the Midlands

The Midlands presents the opportunity to go tubing in one of its many rivers. There are few things better than packing a picnic, road tripping with a car full of friends and hiring tubes for a day to peacefully explore and swim. The drive can be anything from an hour and a half to a three hour and beyond trip from central Durban, depending on the destination, but the outcomes of tubing are worth the drive. Consult guides at The Bushman’s river or Mooi River for their tubing courses, or alternatively, visit an accessible and charming camping ground such as ‘Glengarry’ in Kamberg to tube down their small, yet alluring river. 

- Ashleigh Bargate

Namaqua Horse Trails
21 Mar 2014

Namaqua Horse Trails

The Northern Cape is one of the most underrated areas of South Africa. Wide open spaces, a huge sky and surprisingly varied scenery make for the most fantastic riding country. Relatively inexperienced riders can join a one- or two-hour ride close to the farm. More experienced and fitter riders can opt for a 6-hour ride in the Goegap Nature Reserve. Multi-day trails offer the opportunity to sleep under the star-spangled desert night sky. Children’s camps are available, offering the usual horse riding as well as a range of other fun and mildly challenging activities...

(GPS coordinates: -29.731524, 17.935623)


Kite Surfing in Ballito
11 Mar 2014

Kite Surfing in Ballito

Kite-surfing is one of the fastest growing - and many would say most exciting - watersports in the world. This wind sport combines board sailing, wakeboarding, surfing and parasailing into one truly exhilarating package. Ballito offers several great local locations in and around the village, covering both flat-water and wave-riding conditions.

Learning to kite-surf (some people call it kite-boarding) couldn't be simpler, and will appeal to just about any age of adventurer. Trained and experienced IKO-qualified instructors (that stands for International Kite-boarding Organisation) at the Surf Centre will have you up and sailing before you know it...

(GPS coordinates: -29.53158, 31.22404)


Koh Tao, Thailand
2 Mar 2014

Koh Tao, Thailand

I have found paradise and it is called Koh Tao. It is so picturesque and perfect – it lives up to all expectations. Straight out of a movie, it is the definition of an island, with the perfect combination of rocky cliffs, white beaches, jungle and transparent turquoise waters. 

The best way to explore this incredible island is to pack some bags, buy some of the local beers and head down to the harbour. Locals will clamber around offering you their services, and you can easily haggle the price down. Before you know it you will be climbing into a longboat and stretching out to tan and enjoying a tour around the island.

When our boatsman eventually expertly steered our boat into one of the coves and dropped anchor, we all jumped over board to do some snorkeling – I have never seen so many fish and different types of coral in one place! The gigantic granite rocks that emerge out of the water create little caves, tunnels and ledges to swim around and under. It all seems so surreal and almost as dreamlike as the island – what an incredible combination. 

After a week of exploring everything Koh Tao Had to offer, I had to be dragged off the island before I settled there for good. In my mind, no trip to Thailand would be complete without stopping at this Eden!

- Shan Routledge

BBK Horse Trails
26 Feb 2014

BBK Horse Trails

The Mpumalanga escarpment is the perfect backdrop for a fabulous day out in the saddle and BBK (Blaauwboschkraal) Trails offers a range of options. For special occasions, a champagne breakfast ride or a sundowner ride offers a combination of indulgence, exercise and the outdoors.

BBK also offers pony camps for children during school holidays and weekend camps for stressed urban horses. These self-catered ‘Me and My Horse’ weekends give urban riders a chance to take their urban showjumpers for a few days in the country. Accommodation is in tents or hiking huts (for the humans) and comfy stables for the horses...

(GPS coordinates: -25.598593, 30.290693 )



Snorkeling with Cape Fur Seals
26 Feb 2014

Snorkeling with Cape Fur Seals in #lovecapetown

Natalie Roos for Cape Town Tourism

Think “adventure in Cape Town” and your first thoughts will probably be along the lines of shark cage diving, hiking up Table Mountain and kite surfing in Blouberg. Now, along with a helicopter flip around the Atlantic, there’s a new activity to add to your adventure bucket list.

Just 20 minutes out of the Cape Town city bowl, in the quaint harbour town of Hout Bay, you’ll find Animal Ocean’s boat, ready and waiting to take you just offshore to Seal Island (or Duiker Island), home to a colony of close to 7000 Cape Fur Seals.

Arriving at 12pm, I kitted up in my head-to-toe wetsuits to keep out the icy water before a quick safety briefing from Steve. Then it was onto the boat for a fun 5 minute ride out to the island. Thousands of Cape Fur Seals frolic in the waves around the island, safe in the knowledge that great whites stay away from the icy shallows.

I took along our GoPro Hero3+ and got some footage of my adventure with Steve and the Animal Ocean crew. If you’re looking to experience an ocean adventure while in Cape Town, I can highly recommend seal snorkeling with Animal Ocean.

For more information on the seal island snorkeling adventure, including pricing and booking information, visit Also visit Animal Ocean's website to find out about their other ocean adventures like the once in lifetime diving trip out to the annual sardine run and diving with sevengill sharks.

EP Skydiving
23 Feb 2014

EP Skydiving

EP Skydivers, located halfway between East London and Port Elizabeth, is rated as having one of the friendliest drop zones in South Africa. And that is not the only argument they have... during your 25-minute plane ride you will also be treated to spectacular views of the Sunshine Coast.

Start off with a tandem skydive from 10 000 feet. This is the safest and easiest way to experience the rush of jumping out of a plane. After a short safety briefing on exit techniques, freefall and landing procedures, you and your instructor will take to the skies. You’ll fly to an altitude of 10 000 feet before freefalling for almost 35 seconds. Once your instructor opens the parachute, he/she will offer you guidance as you fly the parachute together for your 10 minute canopy ride...

(GPS coordinates: -33.287795, 26.499238)




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