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Nightjar Travelled
17 Oct 2013
 
     

Benoni

The Rynfield Bunny Park on Pretoria Road in Benoni with its free entrance is the perfect setting for a nice picnic outing for families with young children.  It is quite spacious with open areas, playground equipment, walkways, ponds and enough large shady trees. The park and toilets are kept clean and the playground equipment is well maintained.  

Children can feed the variety of farm animals like bunnies, ducks and geese which roam around freely. The more ‘dangerous’ animals like donkeys, goats and cows are kept in enclosed camps but could still be fed through the fences. 

You can purchase fresh carrots for the animals (or basic snacks for humans) from the kiosk but do take some brown bread or fish food along to feed the fish in the ponds. There are pony rides at the entrance and a mini fairground inside (not free) for the little ones and enough (free) parking space outside. 

- Gerhard Brits

Lilac-Breasted Roller
15 Oct 2013
 
     

It’s impossible to get tired of these beautiful birds. I live in Hoedspruit and see them all the time but I can never resist photographing them. I joke that they never seem to get tired of themselves either, since they appear to constantly be on display, just waiting for you to notice them as they perch characteristically at the top of dead trees, often close to the edge of the road.

In fact, what they’re doing is looking for prey. They eat things like grasshoppers and beetles, which they swoop down and catch, often from the road, where these little creatures are particularly easy to see. They eat them on the ground or return to their perch with particularly prize morsels, which they then proceed to swallow whole. They are also territorial birds, which is why you may see them at regularly spaced intervals – at certain times of year it seems like every tree has one.

Lilac-breasted rollers get their name from their distinctive colouring - actually more pink than lilac in my opinion - as well as their characteristic style of flying in the breeding season, where they perform rolling, downward dives. These displays are often accompanied by raucous calling, their harsh voice somewhat at odds with their physical beauty.

In Kruger, these birds are resident all year round, just like purple rollers. Broad-billed and European rollers are summer visitors - look out for them from October onwards. 

 – Dianne Tipping-Woods

Nightjar Travelled
14 Oct 2013
 
     

Wellington Block House

A reminder of times long gone by, this relic of the Anglo-Boer war still stands guard over the railway lines in Wellington. Originally there were a number of these to protect British shipments from boer commandos. Looking at the size of the windows, it must have been a pretty depressing job standing inside that thing all day - especially during summer! 

 – Erik on Instagram (@nightjartravel)

Diving in Mabul
13 Oct 2013
 
     

Diving in Mabul, Malaysia

The PADI motto of “Go Places, Meet People, Do Things”  lived up to its name in Mabul. A tiny island off the coast of Borneo, this fabled dive site is a popular destination for dive junkies and newbies alike! 

On our journey through our level 1 dive course, we saw everything from fire fish to moray eels to a nulibranch to parrot fish to nemo and dory to angelfish to butterfly fish to turtles to crocodile fish to a 2m grouper fish and a school of jackfish! The whole experience was incredible (even if we all had to watch out for a friend who had a tendency of arriving right above you without warning and kicking you in the head).

When we finally came up after our last dive, Turkhe, our dive instructor, shook us all by the hand, congratulating us on completing our course. But it already felt like I had been diving my whole life and sitting around the table with South Africans, Brits, an Aussie and a Scot I marvelled at the wonders of travelling and how we could all end up here together sharing a meal, all brought together by diving and by this island, this small wonder somewhere in the Malaysian sea. 

- Shan Routledge

Soda Butte
13 Oct 2013
 
     

Soda Butte, Yellowstone

To get to this pretty stream, you literally just have to roll out of your car, after putting on your waders, that is. Yellowstone sells about 40 000 multi day fishing permits per annum, and there are always fishermen around on the more easily accessible stretches of water.

On this particular day, our first in the park, we started fishing a bend in the mid afternoon, and were barely on the water when the next party approached and started fishing two bends upstream from us. Being used to South African waters, this caused us no end of anxiety and some muttering about fishing etiquette. But as it turned out, it was all for nothing. The fishing was so interesting and abundant that we never even made it to the second bend. Pretty setting, lots of fish, what more could one ask for!

- The Travelling Fisherman

Ci Gusta
12 Oct 2013
 
     

CI GUSTA

If you have travelled to Italy and tasted real Italian ice-cream, also known as 'gelato', then you would probably have become very disappointed with the ice-cream that South Africa offers. But never fear, because there’s a new ice-cream store in town, and it’s brought gelato to our doorstep. Situated on Florida Road, Ci Gusta has become the new Durban favourite. You will never fail to see families, groups of students, or couples on dates, sitting inside the shop and enjoying their double scoops of the good stuff. If you’re in Durban, make sure you pay Ci Gusta a visit...I recommend White Hazelnut and Salted Caramel.

– Daniella Toscano

Arniston
11 Oct 2013
 
     

Arniston bustles with activity during school holidays, but out of season it turns into a sleepy little village. We were there on a Tuesday morning recently, and the place was practically asleep on its feet, just the way we like it. We took the drive out to the lighthouse, and there was only one other truck on the parking lot, but its passengers were only dots on the horizon, fishing one of the better known spots of this prolific coastline. So we had the lighthouse all to ourselves and spent the morning taking dozens of snaps and scouring the beach for interesting debris. The drive only takes 10 odd minutes, but is strictly for high clearance vehicles only. The alternative is to walk there. At low tide, much of this route can be done along the shore line, and it’s a more interesting way to get there anyway.

Quiver Tree Forest
10 Oct 2013
 
     

This forest of kokerboom trees, or Aloe dichotoma - meaning, regularly forking or dividing in pairs – is on the edge of the Gannabos Protected Area, a wild flower reserve on the road between Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein (-1.230142,19.264042). 

The earliest record of the quiver tree was made by Simon van der Stel on an expedition further north-west in 1685: "The branches of this tree are used by natives as quivers for their arrows. They hollow them out and cover one end with a piece of leather and thus skilfully make from this tree, which they call Choje, a strong and serviceable quiver."

Umhlanga Lighthouse
8 Oct 2013
 
     

Who runs the lighthouse?

The Umhlanga Lighthouse, an iconic feature on the Umhlanga coastline, has been running since 1954. It was built to replace the Bluff lighthouse, which was deteriorating at a rapid rate at the time. Interestingly, the lighthouse has never had an in-house keeper. Instead the Oyster Box Hotel was and still is the official warden of the lighthouse. The hotel was launched in 1869 and was the first beach cottage to be built in the area. The Oyster Box still continues to manage the lighthouse with the controls being kept in the hotel office where staff monitor it. 

 – Megan Pilditch

Nightjar Travelled
7 Oct 2013
 
     

Cape Grace Hotel

One of the perks of having a day packed full of meetings (i.e. a day on which you normally need a bit of cheering up) is getting out of the office. Unfortunately, on this day my last meeting was at the Waterfront, and at that stage I did not feel like the excited thrum of busy shoppers and tourists, so I moved the meeting 'across the ocean' to the Cape Grace. All the usual perks of the Waterfront - scenery, location, scenery - still apply, but in a much calmer environment... the perfect place for a coffee and cake escape.

 – Erik on Instagram (@nightjartravel)

Slough Creek, Yellowstone
6 Oct 2013
 
     

Yellowstone National Park contains hundreds of miles of accessible, high-quality trout rivers. There are over 200 fishable creeks, streams and rivers and 45 fishable lakes. Many of these are easily accessible to visitors.

The upper meadow of Slough Creek, however, is a good two-hour walk away, but worth every minute of it. We kitted up in the car park with two Japanese fishermen who looked like they had ironed their waders the night before, and make us feel decidedly scruffy. And for the first hour, we accompanied them on the walk to the musical pealing of tiny bells. Apparently, it puts off the grizzly bears. However, the locals joke that it just makes it easier to identify the scat. The ones with little bells in it belong to the grizzlies.

We left the musical fishermen behind at the first meadow, and spent most of a delightful afternoon fishing just one bend in the river – the fish were that abundant – until we were chased off the river by a booming thunderstorm.

- The Travelling Fisherman

Uttarakhand
6 Oct 2013
 
     

Exploring Northern India

Uttarakhand is an intriguing tourist destination situated in the Northern India. The picturesque beauty due to the proximity of the mighty Himalayas makes Uttarakhard a treat for tourists’ eyes. This natural bounty is also known as the Land of Gods. Here, a tourist can experience sacred journeys, exhilarating adventure sports, and cultural trips. The state is full of the tourist attractions. Here are the two most famed:  

Nainital is a famous tourist spot that attracts swarms of the domestic and foreign tourists throughout the year. Located in the Kumaon region at an altitude of 1,938m above sea level, the city derives its name from the beautiful Naini Lake. The climate here is temperate; the maximum temperature goes up to 27 degrees and the minimum a pleasant 10 degree Celsius. 

Besides the Naini Lake, there are many attractions worth considering. Naina Peak offers an awe-inspiring view of the snow capped Himalayas. The famous Hanumangarh Temple has an observatory close to it, which provides a gorgeous night view of the moon. One should definitely visit Bhim Tal, Sat Tal and Naukuchiya Tal. Bhim Tal is the largest lake around the city and located at a distance of 23kms from it. Naukuchiya Tal derives its name from the nine corners of the lake. It is located at a distance of 27kms from the city. Sat Tal, located at the distance of 21kms from the city, is a huddle of seven small lakes. A few other attractions around this hill station are Khupratal, Kainchi, Kausani, Kilbury, Almora and Ranikhet.

The hill station offers a range of amusements to the tourists, of which horse riding is the most popular. In Nainital, there are some of the finest hiking routes of the Great Himalayas. A tourist can enjoy mountain biking, mountaineering, boating, trekking and skiing in the valleys of this beautiful hill station. 

Jim Corbett National Park is situated around 60kms from Nainital. Abundant with nature’s beauty, the park has diverse wildlife and amazing panoramic views in its 1318sq km area. Corbett is the first tiger reserve in India, and is a pioneer in preserving rare wildlife species. It protects some of the most exotic species like Snow Leopards, Bharals, Thars, Brown and Black Himalayan Bears, Leopards, Serows and many more. 

There are over 600 species of trees, bamboos, climbers, grasses, ferns, herbs and shrubs in the park. There is an outstanding range of both the local and migrant species of birds as well. The migratory bird species that you can spot here are Plumbous, Brown Dipper, Wallcreepers, White-Capped Water Redstarts, Gray-Headed Fish-Eagle and numerous species of Wagtails. 

There are three zones (gates) in the park. Jhirna zone remains open for the tourists throughout the year while the other two zones Bijarani and Dhikala remain closed in monsoon season. The climate of the park is more temperate than any other protected area in the country. Entry is prohibited in the evening, therefore, no night driving is allowed here. 

Uttarakhand also offers great rafting at Rishikesh and a well-known pilgrimage at Haridwar; in short, Uttarakhand has all the makings of a great destination.

Author Bio:
Jessica Frei is a wildlife lover and travel enthusiast. This write-up is based on her discoveries on a recent adventure-focused trip to Nainital and Jimm Corbett.

More reading:
http://www.corbett-national-park.com/  
http://www.nainitalpackagetours.com/nainital-with-corbett-tour.html

Mazeppa Bay
5 Oct 2013
 
     

This beach is missing a cow

The Eastern Cape is a gem of a landscape underappreciated by many South Africans. If you find yourself in the Wild Coast neighbourhood, I strongly suggest a trip to Mazeppa Bay. The area offers both a variety of hotels, for those who enjoy more stable accommodation, but there are camping and caravanning areas as well. The sand dunes are spectacular and if you’re not a sandboarder or snowboarder I suggest you collect all of the empty beer boxes you have and prepare to spend your days sliding down the dunes in true South African style. A walk along the beach reveals an expansive dream-like landscape that you can easily get lost in for hours. Also, you’ll more likely be sharing the beachfront with a cow than a Camps Bay deckchair. Livestock seem to roam freely in the area and are quite happy to plonk down next to you. I’m sure that they do belong to someone in one of villages along the coast, but they don’t seem to know that. It’s quite a surreal experience seeing such a domesticated animal in such a wild environment, but that really does sum up Mazeppa Bay in a nutshell: a place where boundaries are a little more unclear than you might be used to.

 - Matthew Jones

Meisho Maru
4 Oct 2013
 
     

The Meisho Maru Shipwreck

The Meisho Maru No 38 was a small Japanese fishing vessel that ran aground in the stormy waters around L'Agulhas on 16 November 1982. The accident occurred close to shore and the crew of 17 all managed to swim to safety. After surviving seas than at times can produce swells of up to 30 metres, the ship finally broke apart a few years ago. The prow can still be seen, but the ocean will eventually claim even that. In the meantime, it makes for an ideal spot for a sunset sundowner.

Man's Best...
3 Oct 2013
 
     

Man's best travelling companion, fly fishing companion, hiking companion, listening companion... and always up for the next awfully big adventure, these little terriers were originally bred in the 19th century to catch rats in Yorkshire clothing mills. Yorkies belong to the family, Canis lupis familiaris, meaning a domesticated form of the gray wolf, and are regarded nowadays as companion dogs, to which their human families will happily attest.


RTD Check list
2 Oct 2013
 
     

Rocking the Daisies Check list! 

So many of us have been counting down the days till Daisies 2013 since Daisies 2012 but for those of you first timers who are about to embark on your first ever trip to Rocking the Daisies this will give you an idea of exactly how excited you should be, what to take and important things to remember… 

Rocking the Daisies is already sold out with 15 000 festival frolickers and is an experience of a lifetime. With the organizers raising the bar you can expect some incredible international bands and local rock stars!.

After making the trek up to Darling for the last 4 years, I like to think of myself as pretty experienced and prepared for my favorite weekend of the year so here are some of my secrets.

What to expect:

The variety of music at Daisies can wet anyone’s appetite. From the pumping beats of the Red Bull Electronic Stage to the local and international bands gracing the Main Stage you will not be disappointed by the line-ups. During the day you can kick back and relax by the beach bar listening to Goldfish pumping out the tunes or recline by the Hemp Stage. And for something a little bit different try the Nu World Beat Barn which features artists from African countries.

Besides the incredible world-class music you can take advantage of the traders market, wine-tasting and food village. Wander through the art field or watch a comedy show in the Lemon Tree Theatre – there really is something for everyone.

Rules: There are some basic rules that you need to be aware of before road tripping up.

  • Alcohol: you will only be able to consume alcohol in the camping area and it must in decanted into plastic bottle because there is NO GLASS allowed in the festival grounds
  • No fires so if you want to have a boerewors roll or a hangover cook up in the morning remember you will have to use a skottel or make use of the food village
  • No animals: Leave all dogs, cats and hamsters at home!
  • Take as many photos as you like but no DRONES are allowed without an official event permit
  • LEAVE NO TRACE: with the mission to create a clean, green festival everyone must remember to respect the environment

Getting there:

Because of the environmentally conscious mission of the festival there are a variety off options when you are planning getting to the festival. There is the Daisy train bring festival goers from Jo Burg, busses running from all over Cape Town and for the those really serious about minimizing their carbon footprint there is Walking the Daisies and Cycling the Daisies.

If you are going to drive up remember to be cool and car pool!

Essential Daisies Kit List:

  1. Drinks: you can never have enough!
  2. Food: although you can buy almost anything from the food market it is always a good idea to take some of your own. Having snack is always important (not to mention cheaper than buying all your meals)
  3. Seat: camping chairs are always important – you will appreciate having somewhere to rest your feet
  4. Toothbrush and toiletries: you will want to feel fresh and refreshed after dancing the day and night away – there is nothing better than a minty fresh mouth in the morning
  5. Sleeping arrangements: tents, mattresses, pillows, blankets – there is nothing you are going to want more than a comfy place to sleep
  6. Cash: although there is ATMs you will want to make sure you have cash to avoid standing in long queues
  7. Medic kit: Rehidrat, Headache tablets, Liver tablets, anti histamines (the grass and dust can cause hay fever) and some plasters etc in case of a small accident
  8. Water bottles: whether you need to rehydrate or a bottle to mix some drink in, a water bottle is not something you should leave behind
  9. Clothes: a good variety of warm clothes for the evening when the temperature drops and daytime clothes when it tends to be warm and sunny. Don’t forget tie-dye, flower crowns, fedoras, summer dresses and eccentric accessories – anything goes at Daisies
  10. Waterproof: Just in case don’t forget to pack in a rain jacket
  11. Camera: NB – you will want to document this weekend
  12. Towels, sarongs, bikinis, sun hats and sun umbrellas: useful if you decide to go for a swim in the dam or need to keep cool or hide from the sun
  13. Gazebo: A great addition to your campsite – a gazebo provides some shade and a place to hang out
  14. A lilo/9ft inflatable animal/ beach ball: who doesn’t want any of these things
  15. Shoes: comfortable reliable shoes are VERY important – in this case comfort over style is the way to go
  16. Cellphone car charger: with smart phones and awful battery life you might want to remember a charger
  17. Lock for your tent: although Rocking the Daisies is still pretty safe you might want to take a small padlock

So now that you have your kit list, you have gotten appropriately excited, get ready to pack your bags, full up your car and wait in eager anticipation for the day to finally arrive.

See you all there!

– Shan Routledge

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Nightjar

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

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Erik