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Springfield Picnic
4 Dec 2013
 
     

Life is too short to drink bad wine

I just love the Springfield Wine Estate in the heart of the Robertson Valley. In fact it’s one of the few places that I’ll ever break a journey for. Life from Stone, their flagship, Sauvignon Blanc, is one of my all time favourite tipples, but everything about the place is chilled yet professional. The estate’s motto is “from the grape to the bottle with care and passion” and this passion and the warm welcome that they extend to all their customers, combined with the awesome setting on the banks of their small dam, creates an extra special experience. Good wine and good food go together, so pack a picnic (or head down the road to Viljoensdrift and stock up at their deli) then chill at one of the tables under a shady tree or on the deck at the tasting room. Once you’ve tasted Life from Stone you’ll agree with the famous Scottish bacteriologist, Alexander Fleming (credited with the discovery of penicillin), who famously stated “Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy."
www.springfieldestate.com

 – Shaen Adey

 

Sail Away
3 Dec 2013
 
     

Sail away…

Every morning, at about the same time that we would be setting up for our day on the beach, a herd of boats would come sailing into shore. We would watch the colourful crafts slowly float their way into shallower waters, eventually the fisherman having to drag the heavy wooden vessels up onto the beach. In Mozambique fishing is still practised using time-honoured methods, and traditional fishing counts for over three quarters of domestic catches. These fishing boats can navigate up to three miles from shore. The only time I wasn’t impressed was when a rather large turtle was pulled out of their catch for the day.

 – Megan Pilditch

Nightjar Travelled
2 Dec 2013
 
     

Orange River Sunset

Did you know that the Orange River is the longest river in South Africa? Starting in the Drakensberg in Lesotho, and flowing right across the country to the Namibian border where it empties into the Atlantic. Interestingly, the only major town that it flows through on this entire journey is Upington. All that makes for great food for thought, or you could simply sit, as I did, and watch the sun go down over this mighty river.

 – Erik on Instagram (@nightjartravel)

Lost in the Pans
1 Dec 2013
 
     

Lost in the pans

One third of the earth’s surface is desert. On a trip to Botswana, I was lucky enough to experience the endless glory of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. There was a strong warning though - apparently a tourist got lost in the pans and walked around aimlessly in circles until he eventually died. Research suggests it’s impossible for humans to walk in a straight line without having something to fix their direction on. If ever you find yourself lost in a desert, don’t move, especially if you have a higher chance of someone coming across you. Needless to say I didn’t venture too far out into the dust.

 – Megan Pilditch

Howick Falls
1 Dec 2013
 
     

The Howick Falls are 95m high - and from the viewing platform they look really impressive - but they are a significantly smaller than the uThukela (Tugela) Falls in the Drakensberg which are not only the highest falls in South Africa at 947m but fourth highest waterfall in the world. Since 1851 there have been over 20 deaths recorded at Howick Falls, including young Charles Booker a sixteen-year-old from Michaelhouse who took a bet of twenty pounds in 1940 that he could dive into the pool at the bottom. The falls are known to the Xulu people as KwaNogqaza which means 'Place of the Tall One'. 

 – Shaen Adey
Image copyright: Shaen Adey

Victoria Street Market
30 Nov 2013
 
     

Who knew that a spice like this even existed! Almost hidden in the buzzing footpaths of Victoria Street Market in the centre of Durban is a spice shop that sells something completely unique. As one of the oldest markets in the city, Victoria Street Market is an historic landmark. It was formally established in 1910, before then it was an open-air affair. After a bizarre fire in 1973, the market was rebuilt on the corner of Queen Street and Victoria Street. Just like at this particular spice shop, most of the merchants are 3rd or 4th generation traders. They say there’s no escaping family!

 – Megan Pilditch

Swissland Cheese
29 Nov 2013
 
     

Swissland Cheese

Being in a car with kids is my idea of a nightmare. They usually seem to get ratty and at some stage one of them is going to say, “Are we nearly there yet”? So in my wisdom I’ve learnt to break journeys when travelling with friends and their little ones, and that’s what took me to Swissland Cheese. Apart from their award winning cheeses, you can also buy picnic hampers and bags of nibbles to tempt the goats to eat at Billy Goat Avenue. At 3.30pm it's fun to watch the goats lining up for milking, but remember they’re all on maternity leave from the end of May to August each year.

www.swisslandcheese.net
082 418 3440

 – Shaen Adey
Image copyright: Shaen Adey

Ring Ring
27 Nov 2013
 
     

Ring ring!

If you have ever visited Mozambique you definitely would have remembered various cellphone giants advertising on any surface available. Mcel is the largest Mozambique cellphone company with the most extensive coverage- it’s creative and colourful advertising seems to plaster itself into your memory. Interestingly mobile phone usage in developing world exceeds that of the developed world. Possibly, because of the lack of formal telecommunications infrastructure, Africa has the fastest growing mobile network in the world and most mobile users use their phones for all sorts of reasons - banking, trading, communication and even mobilizing protests. Mobile is to some respects Africa’s equivalent of a PC.

 – Megan Pilditch

Nightjar Travelled
26 Nov 2013
 
     

Graskop

This little town has a lot going for it, from God's Window to the original Harrie's pancakes. Graskop makes for a great base to explore the Panorama route from, and you're going to want a camera with you. Best of all, after a long day exploring, was returning to town with this sunset.  Wow.

http://www.nightjartravel.com/regions-towns/graskop

 – Erik on Instagram (@nightjartravel)

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!

Santorini, Greece
24 Nov 2013
 
     

Santorini, Greece

Nothing quite prepares you for Santorini, the caldera towering out of the ocean topped with houses that look like icing on top of a cake. From the sea it is an impressive sight but as you make your way through the vineyards and olive groves somehow growing in the rocky soil and you wend your way, alongside bikini clad tourists, up the narrow roads and winding alleyways into Fira, not even the sight of Santorini prepares you for the view from Fira. The buildings sliding down the caldera towards the shimmering sea in a mosaic of white and blue – it is postcard perfect.

During our time on Santorini we got lost and unlost and lost and unlost again discovering Perissa beach, one of Santorini’s famous black beaches, Emporia perched on the highest point of the island and Ammoundi harbor the infamous port below Oia.

We tasted the local wines and olive oils, bought some of the famous Greek Ouzo, had our fortunes read and swam in the luke warm sea. Snacking on schwarmas, fresh calamari and local tapas and sipping cocktails in the hot Santorini sun – we decided that Greek island living is definitely all that it is cracked up to be! 

-  Shan Routledge

Durban’s ‘little Venice’
23 Nov 2013
 
     

Durban’s ‘little Venice’

Situated on Durban Point Waterfront canal next to Ushaka Village Walk is the romantic and relaxing gondola rides. Upon arrival you will see these beautiful man-made canals, lined by palm trees, slipping in between new and modern building developments. A friend and I had a peaceful picnic on our journey through the canals that left us feeling impressed and rejuvenated…so much so that we are planning a return to Durban’s ‘little Venice’ soon! Tickets for the ride are a little pricey (R80 per gondola, which fits two) however I don’t regret a cent spent on my scenic adventure along the canals. 

 – Ashleigh Bargate

Bojaankop 4X4 Trail
22 Nov 2013
 
     

BOJAANKOP 4X4 TRAIL

As you may have gathered by now, the only thing hardcore about the Nightjar off-road team is its bakkie. It’s not that we mind a bit of a hard slog now and again, but it has to serve a greater purpose. In other words, it has to be about more than just surviving a bad stretch of road. If it’s a bad road experience you are after, rather do a road trip on the provincial roads of Mpumalanga. At least it comes with farm stalls as compensation.

The Bojaankop (baboon’s head) 4x4 trail is our kind of trail. (http://nightjar.travel/17Qw8bc) The veld was in pristine condition, despite a very dry and windy winter, and at its highest point you are rewarded with an unimpeded 360 view of the peaks of the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains.

Most of the way to the top is up steep koppies, but the trail is extremely well maintained and perfectly manageable. For the more adventurous, the one end of the trail is a different matter altogether. Here the gradient increases to about 33 degrees. But what makes it hard is the loose, scruffy surface and some rain damage in its upper reaches. Not for sissies.

The second thing you may have gathered about the Nightjar household by now is its strict division of labour. So, for example and without exception, when stuck it is the Big Chief’s job to shovel or hoist as required, and it is Mama Nightjar’s job to laugh (usually derisively) and take photos. Given that the Big Chief’s ego was still a little bruised from getting stuck in some pretty innocuous sand the previous week, we decided to do an in-and-out from the easy end. 

Matjiesvlei (www.matjiesvlei.co.za) offers a variety of accommodation options, from camping to lovingly restored cottages, in a classical farm friendly setting.

Walker Bay Fisherman's Trail
21 Nov 2013
 
     

The Walker Bay Nature Reserve comprises five coastal sections between Hermanus and Die Dam, near Struisbaai. Walker Bay is the largest of these and has a coastline of 17km. It features a long beach, Die Plaat, with white sands and rocky limestone outcrops. 

The Fisherman’s Trail may well be designated a 4x4 route, but the main reason for going here is the long unspoilt beaches and the air of solitude. We went there on a fine spring morning. Not only were we the only tracks in, but we also drove over our own, undisturbed tracks going out!

The sand track runs for just over 5km from the office to the last parking spot, and is ideal for taking the little ones cycling without having to worry about other road users. Pack a rucksack full of snacks, fill up the water bottles and leave the cars at reception. Then you don’t even have to worry about going in a 4x4! 

http://nightjar.travel/1h2gTnI

Wingsuit Flying
20 Nov 2013
 
     

Wingsuit flying under the bridge of the Aiguille du Midi

Where did 2013 go? I can’t believe it’s nearly over. Looking back I thought I’d had a pretty exciting year of adventures; skiing powder snow in the alpine resort of Zermatt, climbing the near vertical ice of Alpamayo in Peru and scaling some terrifyingly crumbly desert towers in Utah were all exhilarating.

But then I saw this and realised that in fact my life is somewhat banal!

nightjar.travel/I4rCQk

I must set my sights higher in 2014. Even just standing on the bridge must have been an adrenalin rush of note! And you? What was the most exciting thing you did in 2013?

- Fiona McIntosh

My Kingdom for a Spade
20 Nov 2013
 
     

MY KINGDOM FOR A SPADE

Three thoughts crossed my mind as we drove into the Walker Bay Nature Reserve. 

I reminisced about a time when we were out photographing ground squirrels in the Karoo. Not keen to lose sight of a colony on the move, we decided to “feel” our way through the veld, but were brought to an abrupt stop when both left wheels simultaneously dropped into discarded borrow entrances. We had to dig our way out, but only after having walked about half a mile to borrow a spade.

The second thought was about how “over the top” it looks to mount a spade on a roof rack.  

The final thought was that the Fisherman’s Trail was just a regular set of sandy tracks and not really a 4x4 trail at all.

So in this tranquil half slumber, we drove on to the first parking spot. The track here runs just behind the final set of dunes. In two places the dunes had done their seasonal wandering and spilled ever so slightly over the track. I did pick up a little speed, enough to commit, but not enough to get through. And as you may know, by the time you have to press on the accelerator when driving in sand, it is usually too late. This time there was no handy farmstead half a mile away, so I dug with a piece of stick while Mama Nightjar rolled around in mirth and took photos. (Duties being very much segregated in this household when it suits her mood).

So, despite comments above, I guess I will be looking into mounting brackets after all!

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Welcome Message

Nightjar

Welcome to our website. South Africa is awesome and you've come to the right place to help you explore it!

Enjoy the site
Erik