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Brown-Hooded Kingfisher Trail
11 Aug 2014
 
     

Brown-Hooded Kingfisher Trail: Wilderness, Garden Route

For once my friends and I weren’t concerned about watching the sunrise, and only started the trail at midday. I expected unbearable heat and long hills. It was far better than that. The forest around Wilderness is thick, and only where the path has been cut away is there space to walk – shaded walkways, long vines and moss-covered stones reminded me of reading The Lord of the Rings, or watching scenes from Avatar. Even the couch-potato inside of me enjoyed those wooden bridges and dirt paths under green canopies. I’m not a bird watcher either, but the excited cries of my city friends told me that Knysna Loeries were something to appreciate – they are. At the end of the trail we arrived at a waterfall and massive boulders. Picnic, swim, relax. You don’t need the sunrise for this kind of magic.

- Brad Harris

The Policeman's Helmet Trail, Royal Natal National Park
10 Aug 2014
 
     

The Policeman's Helmet Trail, Royal Natal National Park

The Royal Natal National Park forms part of the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park world heritage site. The magnificent amphitheatre, flanked by the Eastern Buttress and the Sentinel, dominates the scenery, with the Policeman's Helmet standing proud in the foreground. The sandstone structure is visible from afar and doesn’t take much imagination to see where it got its name. From the car park below Thendele camp, the trail goes past the ablution block through a section of forest. About 750 metres further on, the trail to the Tugela Gorge heads off to the left. Keep going straight, with the Vemvaan River on your left...

(GPS coordinates: -28.709317, 28.940547)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/hiking/policemans-helmet-trail-royal-natal-nation...

uShaka Marine World Diving
10 Aug 2014
 
     

uShaka Marine World Diving

Although KwaZulu-Natal has the best diving in the country, you don’t have to brave the open ocean to enjoy the marine life - you can have one of the best underwater interactions of your life in the crystal clear, four-metre deep lagoon and open ocean tanks of uShaka Marine World. Dive virgins can sign up for a two-hour Discover Scuba Diving experience and mingle with the 1 500 or so curious reef fish in the lagoon, which include beautiful bannerfish, emperor angelfish and even harmless smooth houndsharks a metre long. Three times a day, at 10.30am, 1pm and 4pm, guides from uShaka offer the Xpanda Shark Experience, which allows you to get up close and personal with Zambezi and ragged-tooth sharks from the safety of an acrylic cage...

(GPS coordinates: -29.86799, 31.04498)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/scuba-diving/ushaka-marine-world-diving

Delos Antiques
10 Aug 2014
 
     

Delos Antiques: 181 Albert Road, Woodstock

When I asked an official-looking lady, while pretending I hadn’t just been sitting in a hundred-year-old chair, she said they specialise in antique chandeliers. Over 300 of them. But that’s only half of the truth. Delos specialises in drawing your heart through Narnia-like doors and then keeping you in the double-storey mansion, if only to hold onto that feeling of golden-era nostalgia. The prices are high, but there’s no doubt of the antiques’ authenticity. My illegal moment in the hundred-year-old chair was enough to go on. By the end of my tour, I found myself asking, “Who doesn’t need a ship inside a bottle? Or life-sized baboon sculptures wearing colourful waistcoats?”  It’s a playground for the modern man who is intrigued by the past. You don’t need to buy anything, you only have to experience it.  www.delos.co.za

- Brad Harris

Sunshine Coast Trail Running Event
9 Aug 2014
 
     

Sunshine Coast Trail Running Event

The setting for this beautiful trail run is the Springmount dairy farm. You will be running through some of the most pristine dune fields in Southern Africa: the Alexandria Coastal Dune Field. This is the largest, most impressive and least degraded dune field in South Africa - arguably one of the most spectacular in the world. It covers an area of approximately 14 000ha, with 1 800 dunes. It stretches for 50km from the Sundays River Mouth to beyond Woody Cape and is 22km wide on average. There are panoramic views from almost every point on the run, including views stretching for miles to your left of the Woody Cape coastline…

(GPS coordinates: -33.667884, 26.038533)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/trail-running/sunshine-coast-trail-running-event

Marcuskraal 4x4 Trail
9 Aug 2014
 
     

Marcuskraal 4x4 Trail

Marcuskraal lies approximately 20km north of Citrusdal, perfectly set between the rugged western slopes of the Cedarberg Mountains and the Sandveld stretching off into the west towards Elands Bay and the icy Atlantic Ocean. In the old days of ox wagons and convoy routes, this was a safe ‘kraal’ for cattle. Today Marcuskraal offers an unsurpassed experience for nature lovers and 4x4 enthusiasts alike. The trails wind through mountain fynbos and rooibos plantations, revealing spectacular views only two hours from Cape Town...

(GPS coordinates: -32.439647, 18.942492)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/4x4/marcuskraal-4x4-trail

Lowestoffe Farm MTB Trail
8 Aug 2014
 
     

Lowestoffe Farm MTB Trail

This part of the Eastern Cape is famous for its riding, and many informal trails along the grassland slopes here deserve a thumbs-up. Want gravel? Pedal onto the 4x4 route linking the farm house and various lodges to the quirky town of Hogsback. From the farm house, head toward Cathcart before turning right after first crossing the dam wall (two kilometres). Here, there’s a bit of a climb via two gates before dropping down to the Klipplaat River and Rockford Lodge. The road now follows the river before turning right to climb past Coolin Trout Lodge to Hogsback...

(GPS coordinates: -32.445464, 26.906354)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/mountain-biking/lowestoffe-farm-mtb-trail

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

Fish Hoek
7 Aug 2014
 
     

Fish Hoek

The traditional angling community coexists with the leisure pursuits of surfing, sailing and sunbathing along the Fish Hoek beach front. The long, white, sandy beach at Fish Hoek is one of the safest on the False Bay coast, popular for swimming and snorkelling. The beach is about 1.5km long and flat, while the bay is protected from the strong currents and vigorous surf prevalent in the rest of False Bay. 

Lifesavers are on duty at the beach during the summer peak season, and body surfing, boogie boarding, wind surfing and kayaking are popular...

(GPS coordinates: -34.137268, 18.43375)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/activities/fish-hoek

Helderberg 4x4 Trail
7 Aug 2014
 
     

Helderberg 4x4 Trail

At the Helderberg Farm, at the very foot of the Helderberg Mountain olde worlde charm and atmosphere reign. African fauna and flora are well represented by the fish eagle cry that is heard almost daily, the Cape clawless Otters leaving their footprints in the mud, hundreds of bird species and one of the biggest klipkershout trees in SA. The 12km trail is well marked and colour-coded, offering variations in grading and escape routes should you prefer to bypass some of the more hectic obstacles… 

(GPS coordinates: -34.032779, 18.83433)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/4x4/helderberg-4x4-trail

Kruger Scavengers
7 Aug 2014
 
     

Kruger Scavengers

The sound of the bone scraping against the road as the hyena dragged the heavy leg across the tar was spine chilling. The leg had become detached from the giraffe’s carcass, and the group of hyenas were having a field day gobbling it up. In the background sat a little jackal, patiently waiting for his chance to pick up the scraps.

- Megan Pilditch

Marievale Bird Sanctuary
6 Aug 2014
 
     

Marievale Bird Sanctuary

The approximately 1 000ha sanctuary is situated at the southern end of the Blesbokspruit floodplain - a RAMSAR site and a designated Important Bird Area (IBA SA021). Open all year round, with free access, the Marievale Bird Sanctuary is among Gauteng’s best birding spots, with over 280 wetland and grassland species. The reserve is characterised by expanses of marsh with large reed beds and open patches of water (becoming mudflats during drier periods)...

(GPS coordinates: -26.384421, 28.510267)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/animals-nature/marievale-bird-sanctuary

Atlantic Seaboard Shore Diving
6 Aug 2014
 
     

Atlantic Seaboard Shore Diving

One of the attractions of Cape Town diving is the number of spectacular shore dives within the marine reserve. But be warned, getting to the water usually involves scrambling over boulders - no mean task in full cold-water dive gear - and once in the water you’re often faced with a longish swim through kelp forest. (Don’t be deterred, diving from a boat is always an option!) Some of the best and most accessible dives on the Atlantic Seaboard are at Oudekraal...

(GPS coordinates: -33.982442, 18.357024)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/scuba-diving/atlantic-seaboard-shore-diving

Knysna Diving
5 Aug 2014
 
     

Knysna Diving

Diving Knysna is a bit unpredictable and very weather-dependent but the lagoon is usually warm and sheltered even when the sea is rough – and of course there’s always the lure of spotting an elusive Knysna seahorse. One of the most popular shore dives in the lagoon is the wreck of the Paquita, a German vessel that sank in 1903 on her way to Barbados. Other top reefs include Christmas and New Year, a fairly protected site halfway between the Eastern Head and Brenton-on-Sea. Advanced divers will enjoy East Cape Wall, off East Cape Point…

(GPS coordinates: -34.039085, 23.040588)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/scuba-diving/knysna-diving

Boe Boes Nest Trail
5 Aug 2014
 
     

Boe Boes Nest Trail

Although slate is not the most sought after rock these days, there are still a number of slate quarries from which their owners eke out an existence. North West province is home to a few of these and Elephant Slate, near Koster, is one such blemish on the landscape. The Boe Boes Nest explores the pleasant Elands River gorge on land that belongs to the slate company and although the area cannot be classed as pristine, it's a surprisingly beautiful trail that has some interesting relics that take you back to the heyday of slate roofs and floors...

(GPS coordinates: -25.794308, 26.746345)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/hiking/boe-boes-nest-trail

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