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Thabaphaswa MTB Trails
25 Feb 2014
 
     

Thabaphaswa MTB Trails

Thanks to the geology, Thabaphaswa has very scenic and some rather challenging trails on dirt tracks, cattle paths and single-track. The riding is basically along a core circuit route, with optional diversions off the beaten track. 

The farm is fully fenced, you cannot get lost and the map provided gives ample directions and indicators of where to go and where to turn back home. In addition, all 95 kilometres of hiking and biking trails are beautifully signposted. None of the wild game that you may encounter here was introduced. In line with the commitment to a genuine ecotourism experience, what you see is what has always been here...

(GPS coordinates: -24.063486, 29.050791)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/mountain-biking/thabaphaswa-mtb-trails

Ganora Guest Farm
25 Feb 2014
 
     

Ganora Guest Farm, a sheep farm situated just outside Nieu Bethesda in the foothills of the majestic Sneeuberg Range, offers an abundance of things to do in a classical Karoo setting and the hospitality is second to none.

Apart from the 'normal' range of activities, like hiking and mountain biking, there are a range of more unusual gems. These include a fossil museum, fossil walks, a medicinal plant walk and San rock art walks to well-preserved rock paintings and engravings. Observing the meerkats in the rehabilitation project provides hours of fun. The surrounding rock formations and rich fossil beds on the farm bear testimony to the events that contributed to the formation of this vast and beautiful landscape...

(GPS coordinates: -31.8547, 24.5916)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/accommodation/ganora-guest-farm

John Pringle Trail
24 Feb 2014
 
     

John Pringle Trail

Bisley Valley Nature Reserve is situated on the dry western side of Pietermaritzburg – a 250-hectare patch of thornveld and grassland that was saved from suburban creep by the Pietermaritzburg city council. It is home to a variety of large mammals, including giraffe, red hartebeest, impala and zebra, and is also a birders’ paradise.

Park at the gate, clamber through the stile and then walk a short distance on the dirt road until you reach the picnic area. The John Pringle Trail heads off to the right from here...

(GPS coordinates: -29.658176, 30.394471)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/hiking/john-pringle-trail

Sani Pass 4x4 Trail
24 Feb 2014
 
     

Sani Pass 4x4 Trail

Experience the white-knuckle pleasure of negotiating Sani Pass, rated as one of SA’s most spectacular mountain drives. It might not test your 4x4 skills to their utmost, but zigzagging into the low clouds along this vertiginous dirt road snaking along the plunging cliffs of the Drakensberg escarpment is certainly exhilarating.

The first 16km climbs gently to the SA border post. From here you hit a very steep 8km to the Lesotho border before the final 2km that are just exceptionally steep. The track is narrow and the air is thin but when you eventually summit at 2 874m to experience spectacular panoramas you won’t want to go back down again. And don't forget to stop at southern Africa's highest pub for an ice cold beer or a hot toddy, depending on the season. The Black Mountain Pass awaits only 20km further on and if you're really a bit of an adrenalin junkie and feel like roughing it for a few days, you can always carry straight on to the Katse Dam...

(GPS coordinates: -29.661355, 29.456481)

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

SAMREC
24 Feb 2014
 
     

SAMREC, Cape Recife

Libby Sharwood is right: it’s impossible to watch an African penguin for more than a few minutes and not smile. The co-founder and trustee of the South Africa Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) isn’t all smiles though; she spends plenty of time worrying about them too. “These little chaps are under incredible pressure,” she explains, citing research from the last decade which illustrates the decline in the number of African penguins. In fact, given the recent rapid decrease in African penguin numbers, its threat status was raised from vulnerable to endangered in 2011. “These penguins are an important indicator species, and they’re telling us that something is very wrong with the state of our seas,” says Libby.

SAMREC is a small, volunteer-run non-profit that rehabilitates sick and injured African penguins and other marine birds. They can’t claim to be saving the species – but they’re doing what they can to keep alive the penguins that wash up on their shores.  “They are brought in dehydrated and hungry. We fatten them up, give them vitamins, test them and retest them for disease and then, when they’re strong enough, we release them back into the sea.”

The Centre also gives people – and especially kids – a chance to learn all about South Africa’s marine world, and African penguins in particular. You can learn more about them by visiting www.samrec.org.za. 

Dianne Tipping-Woods

African Peninsula Guest House
24 Feb 2014
 
     

Perfectly situated on the edge of the Indian Ocean in Durban, African Peninsula Guest House exudes a peaceful charm with spacious air-conditioned suites, breathtaking sea views and delicious cuisine, where you can reconnect with nature, see dolphins, whales, birds and spectacular nature that the ocean creates. Close to all the amenities of a city - shopping, business, industry, golf course and a wide variety of entertainment, African Peninsula is almost in the heart of the city but it feels as if you are on a tropical island!...

(GPS coordinates: -29.92796, 31.014323)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/accommodation/african-peninsula-guest-house

Hoeksfontein 4x4 Trail
23 Feb 2014
 
     

Hoeksfontein 4x4 Trail

Venture into the Karoo Heartland and discover the unsurpassed grandeur of majestic mountains, vast plains, champagne air and crystal clear starry nights. The Hoeksfontein Safaris base camp is situated close to Pearston in the Semi-Karoo. The landscape consists of rock outcrops, mountains, hills and open plains. You can also expect thick valley bushveld.

The Bontebok Lodge is the base camp for all the adventure trails and all the routes start and end here. There are three spectacular routes to choose from. They wind over mountain and valley across Hoeksfontein, Olievenfontein and Vlakfontein...

(GPS coordinates: -32.387509, 25.118694)

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

 

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)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/activities/ep-skydiving

 

Koh Pha-ngan, Thailand
23 Feb 2014
 
     

Full Moon Party on Koh Pha-ngan, Thailand

If the boat ride to Koh Pha-ngan is anything to go by, you are well advised to prepare yourself for a chaotic and crazy night. Rumours and legends of the infamous Koh Pha-ngan Full Moon Parties are rife and have reached almost legendary status, with tourists travelling from all over the world to dance the night away on the beach of this small island. 

Arriving on the far side of the island you have to make your way through the sandy roads and millions of glowing stores before you reach the epicenter of the party. This generally results in a full wardrobe change as you try to blend in with the luminescent tops, shining alice bands and neon paint along the way. By the time we hit the beach we were covered from head to toe in paint and shined like some otherworldly creatures in the various UV lights luring partiers into the various bars standing sentinel along the beach.  

Grabbing ‘buckets’ (deadly drinks which are served out of an actual small bucket and filled with a half-jack of the poison of your choice, one can of soda and a can of redbull) you are now set to explore the never-ending party. Every type of music, fire dancers, wildly unsafe-looking slides and a heaving crowd transports you into a different world and provides the perfect experience for everyone’s needs.

Before I knew it the sun was rising and I was climbing back onto the boat bound for Koh Samui - or back to earth, because I'm pretty sure Koh Pha-ngan is a different planet! 

-  Shan Routledge

Skurweberg Guest Farm
23 Feb 2014
 
     

If you are looking for dramatic landscapes, amazing stargazing and endless headspace then you should be packing and on your way to Sutherland. Skurweberg Guest Farm, situated in the Roggeveld mountains along the upper Fish River, offers fully equipped self-catering accommodation and camping, 4x4 routes for all skill levels, mountain biking, hiking routes, swimming in the river, and all the fun of the farm for the children...

(GPS coordinates: -32.289772, 20.381098)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/accommodation/skurweberg-guest-farm

Leopard Magpie
23 Feb 2014
 
     

This photo features the funky and wonderful Leopard Magpie (Zerenopsis lepida)! This moth belongs to the Geometridae family of moths. It prefers forest habitats and occurs in South Africa as well as Mozambique. The Magpie Leopard's larvae feed gregariously on cycads, Apodytes dimidiata, Carissa grandiflora, Carissa macrocarpa and Maesa spp

This photo was submitted to LepiMAP by Deon Grobler, who photographed this Magpie Leopard in East London, Eastern Cape province. Where else does this awesome moth occur?? Well you can help us find out by submitting your photos to LepiMAP at http://vmus.adu.org.za/

~ Megan Loftie-Eaton

Chamisso
22 Feb 2014
 
     

Chamisso

Chamisso is an outstanding example of how San painters sometimes covered large areas of the rock face with depictions of eland. It is also famous because images at the site were once thought to represent the survivors of the wreck of the Grosvenor, a ship that sank off the Transkei coast in 1782. This remote site is close to the Pot River Pass on land owned by PG Bison’s north-east Cape division. It requires a 4X4 to visit and if there is snow in winter the dirt road can be extremely dangerous. It is possible to drive very close to the site and then take a short, steep walk to visit the site...

(GPS coordinates: -30.890708, 28.174545)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/rock-art/chamisso

Protea Banks Diving
22 Feb 2014
 
     

Protea Banks Diving

Protea Banks is the preserve of advanced divers only but it’s an absolute must for shark fiends and adrenalin junkies. About 7,5 kilometres offshore and swept by currents, Protea’s main drawcard is the variety of shark and other big pelagic species, which includes Zambezi (bull), hammerhead, ragged-tooth, dusky, thresher, tiger and blacktip sharks, the occasional great white, mako or bronze whaler, large numbers of rays and game fish and all the usual reef dwellers...

(GPS coordinates: -30.808164, 30.412093)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/scuba-diving/protea-banks-diving

Maboneng Precinct
22 Feb 2014
 
     

When you walk around the Maboneng Precinct in inner-city Johannesburg you’re bound to notice some eye-catching street art. There are over 36 public arts dotted around the Maboneng Precinct and each one is as unique and individual as the next. Other than beautifying the area, the artwork plays a big role in the creative feel of the neighbourhood. Every Sunday at 4:30pm there is a public art walk starting from Main Street. This particular art piece 'Acrylic Words' was done by a collaboration of three international artists and one South African artist. You can find it on Albrecht Street.

- Megan Pilditch

The Hat & Creek
22 Feb 2014
 
     

Phalaborwa has a new restaurant – The Hat & Creek has arrived. This is a brand that husband and wife team Andre and Cheryl Nel created right here in the Lowveld when they opened The Hat & Creek in Hoedspruit almost 3 years ago.

The restaurant was an instant success in the little town. People would regularly drive through from Phalaborwa to eat at The Hat & Creek, lamenting the lack of restaurants in their own little dorp. Andre and Cheryl were paying attention and opened the doors of The Hat & Creek Phalaborwa Gate on 7 December 2013.

“Phalaborwa happens to be one of only two towns in South Africa located right at one of the gates into the Kruger National Park and many local and foreign visitors use this entry and exit point into the park but, don’t stay over,” says Andre. He believes that the new Hat & Creek, located at the Bushveld Terrace Hotel, run by business partners John and Dave Turner, gives people a reason to spend some time in Phalaborwa before exploring the natural paradise on its doorstep. 

Themed around elephants, The Hat & Creek at Phalaborwa Gate has a distinctive identity and is bigger than the Hoedspruit branch, seating just over 200 guests. It shares the same relaxed ambience though as the original. Expect a large, alfresco dining area, an elegant bar and a spacious, modular inside dining space with cocktail bar and fire-side boma for intimate dining.

Its expansive green lawns make for a relaxed daytime ambience and in the evenings, when the fires and the fairly lights are lit – you’ll have  a wonderfully atmospheric dining experience. 

The food won’t disappoint either. Look out for their delicious fresh seafood and awesome signature beef and venison steaks, traditional “potjies”, famous lamb shanks and other local delicacies. The restaurant is open 7 days a week from 9am – 10pm (kitchen) 10am – 12am (bar). For bookings, call 015 781 2517 or Andre on 071 554 3503.

- Dianne Tipping-Woods

White Umfolozi Rock Climbing
21 Feb 2014
 
     

White Umfolozi Rock Climbing

KwaZulu-Natal has some pretty impressive rock climbing areas, but the superb riverside location of the White Umfolozi crags is hard to beat. Over the millennia the river has cut a small gorge through the ancient Pongola quartzite. The resulting cliffs have been the main area of new trad route development in KZN over the last decade. In recent years many high quality sport routes in easy to moderate grades have been put up. Currently there are about 250 routes, over 100 of which are bolted...

(GPS coordinates: -28.234074, 31.189145)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/climbing/white-umfolozi-rock-climbing

 

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