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Watu Karong
11 Aug 2013
 
     

Friend: ‘We’re going surfing at Watu Karung, it’s a dangerous break on a shallow reef, but you should come.’

Me, sceptical: ’Okay, I won’t be able to surf a reef break but I guess there are no waves here anyhow. Maybe I can snorkel.’

An hour’s motorbike ride through hilly farmlands later I can’t seem to find my breath. No one mentioned the beach! Pristine sand, a few painted fishing boats, limestone cliffs and royal blue waters great us. In addition there’s a woman selling Pecel (veggies and rice in a peanut sauce) and Fresh Coconut sweetened with palm sugar under a tree nearby. Most of my jealousy over the surfers melts, the incredible fishes under the royal blue help too.

 – Sara Barnes

Khao Sok
11 Aug 2013
 
     

An eerie call penetrates the mist. Gibbon calls, echoing across the lake, otherworldly, reminding me just how elusive this solitary forest dweller is. Peering across the glassy water into the forest lined banks I try to spot movement in the swirling cloud. The lake goes on for miles, interrupted sporadically by soaring karst peaks, topped with impenetrable forest. Here creatures such as gibbons, the slow lorris, gliding lizards and some of Thailand’s last wild tigers roam. This morning they’re hidden in the swirling mists, but somehow that’s ok – After a breakfast of fresh fruit and banana pancakes outside my floating bamboo bungalow I’m off to find at least one of them!

 – Sara Barnes

Best in the World
10 Aug 2013
 
     

If you’re looking for a city spoil, look no further. For the twelfth year in a row, Jo’burg’s Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas & Spa trumped the competition to be voted the World’s Leading Boutique Hotel by the 2012 World Travel Awards (WTA). Their food’s great too with larney Five Hundred the place for fine dining and the upmarket grillhouse-styled restaurant Saxon Restaurant perfect for a more casual meal. Makes a visit to the big smoke tolerable!

www.saxon.co.za 

 – Fiona McIntosh

Lapa Lange Game Lodge
9 Aug 2013
 
     

On the edge of the Kalahari, in south central Namibia, lies an oasis of luxury; Lapa Lange Game Lodge is surrounded by vast open spaces, magical landscapes and wildlife close enough to touch.

Thirty different species of game can be found on the farm including rhino, black impala, giraffe, cheetah, zebra and many more.

The lovely chalets and suites are built around a waterhole which offers spectacular views, while manicured gardens and waterhole-walkways offer a sanctuary where you can truly relax and experience nature at its finest.

Of course, dol, it comes with all the luxuries you’d expected on a safari vacation – the perfect place to unwind. And did I mention the romantic honeymoon suite?!

http://gamelodgenamibia.com/ 

 – Fiona McIntosh

 

Kosi Bay Nature Reserve
7 Aug 2013
 
     

Found on the northern part of the KwaZulu Natal coast the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is in essence based around a huge interlocking lake system. The reserve is part of the iSimangliso Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and is a series of channels that join four lakes together eventually running out into the sea. Mangroves, coastal forests and crystal clear water make the Kosi Bay an ideal place for a ‘beachish’ holiday. There is excellent snorkeling inside the estuary right by the river mouth, a surprising and unique spot to find a variety of colourful fish and eels.

 – Megan Pilditch

Bitch Creek Idaho
6 Aug 2013
 
     

Bitch Creek is a beautiful tributary of the Teton River and lies just south of the town of Ashton in Idaho. It is perhaps the closest we have come to “home” fishing, with parts of the Creek very similar to the Elandspad River in the Western Cape, apart from the pine trees, that is.

The river gets is name not from the fishing, thank goodness, but from the access path, which is essentially a run down a 200m, 45-degree scree slope. Going down was fine. In fact, some of the more intrepid guides slide their drift boats down this slope to fish the Teton itself. 

But getting back was, well… a bitch. It took us the best part of an hour to make our way back out again, sliding back two steps for every step gained. We were soaking wet by the time we got to the top. But after two dozen beautiful cut-throat trout apiece, it still seemed worth the effort.

 - The Travelling Fisherman

Sheilam Cacti & Succulent Garden
5 Aug 2013
 
     

Now this is somewhere to slow down and smell the flowers … carefully. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve driven the R62 but I’ve always been on a mission and have sped past all sorts of interesting little gems hidden away in the side roads. On this trip I slowed down and ventured onto the Klaasvoogds Meander near Robertson. The detour is well worth it, with great restaurants, stunning wine farms and guesthouses like Mo and Rose and Fraai Uitzicht 1798. The highlight for me was however the Sheilam Cacti & Succulent Garden. For the time I was there I could have been in Mexico, surrounded by absolutely massive cacti. Everywhere you looked there was some weird and wonderful spiky monster poking up into the sky but my favourites were the very prickly ‘Golden barrels of Mexico’ – a type of Echinocactus (otherwise known as Mother in law’s chair) - and the fascinating little stone plants and other treasures in the shade houses.

www.sheilamnursery.com

Text & Image: Shaen Adey

Lake Toba
4 Aug 2013
 
     

Most of Indonesia is pretty damn hot and humid. After a few weeks of needing to shower three times a day I decided it was time for a change. Another scruffy backpacker tells me, ’There’s a lake, some say it’s the biggest volcanic lake in South East Asia, Its quite high up, almost high enough for you to want hot water.’ I’m sold. Several buses later I reach Lake Toba. The tourist area is more of a ghost town, with tens of empty restaurants and homestays offering everything from ‘pizza’ to magic mushrooms… The lake is a beauty and a few days lounging in its waters with a book were just what my dusty sweaty backpacking feet needed!

 – Sara Barnes

Merapi
4 Aug 2013
 
     

Standing majestically at 2,968m, Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. So it seemed a brilliant idea to climb it. The aim of the hike is to get to the top in time for sunrise. This means starting around midnight. The first 4 hours climb up a steep, muddy path through scrub that’s managed to cling to the slopes since the last eruption in 2012. The last hour is even more treacherous – two steps forward, one slide back through volcanic rubble all the way to the crater. Here the steaming sulphur obstructing the view of the crater is almost enough to make you forget to turn around and watch the sun peak out over Solo in the distance, almost.

 – Sara Barnes

City Bowl Market
3 Aug 2013
 
     

If you want to know where to get the freshest and cheapest fruits and veggies while also getting to taste the world’s greatest chocolate brownies, croissants, smoothies and macaroons, then you need to head to 16 Hope Street in Gardens, Cape Town. A bag of apples for R5, a large packet of grapes for R10... and they taste good! The market also offers trendy fashion stores, organic food stands and live music. It’s open every Saturday from 9am until 12am but I soon realised that you need to get there early, because people go crazy for affordable fresh produce.  

Once I discovered this place, I didn’t step foot in a supermarket for months – It’s definitely one of Cape Town’s best kept secrets. 

– Daniella Toscano

Ruin Near Nieuwoudtville
3 Aug 2013
 
     

You'll find this old sandstone ruin at the side of the road just outside Nieuwoudtville, travelling north on the road to Loeriesfontein. The ruin is one of many in the area, most of which date back to the pioneering days when the first settlers started farming around here in the 1800s.

An unscrupulous estate agent would have an easy time of it with this one: ‘Stunning open-plan sandstone villa in superb location with spectacular mountain and valley views. With a unique skylight feature, solar heating, natural airflow, unlimited bathroom facilities, spacious outdoor braai area and communal driveway, all it needs is a little TLC.’

Kardouw Farm House in Citrusdal
2 Aug 2013
 
     

The great thing about living in South Africa and being a South African is that there are always places to go that you’ve never heard of. For me, one of these places was Citrusdal, home to natural hot springs and an abundance of orchards. The Kardouw Farm House provides rustic accommodation suitable for a large group of friends or family. The perks of the house are not limited to the house itself. Visitors are allowed to take back as much citrus fruit as they can carry from the property’s orchard. A pair of friendly horses roam the backyard and have a lovely affinity for people. The combination of a crisp morning, a cup of coffee and a horse outside the kitchen window is enough to make any city-slicker give up their day job and surrender to the simplicity and quietude of this lovely little spot.

The resources in the town itself are minimal, but don’t worry, there is a Spar and a bottle store, so there’ll be no excuse to not have a night by the fireplace with a few bottles of Merlot and Quality Streets. And if you don’t overindulge in the evenings, there’s plenty of time for a morning run through the orchard or a casual afternoon walk across the rocky streams. Or you can take a trip up to the natural hot springs.

If this sounds like your lump of sugar you should check out the website at: http://www.citrusdal.info/kardouw/farmhouse.htm

Did I mention that you can pick as many oranges as you can carry? Seriously, the Spar’s Orange Juice just won’t cut it after this.

 – Matthew Jones

African Sacred Ibis
1 Aug 2013
 
     

Photographed in a field just outside Nieuwoudtville, the African Sacred Ibis used to breed in ancient Egypt during the flood season. Since the 1850s it has not been seen there except in 'ibis' branded merchandise sold by market vendors who believe the bird symbolises good luck. Hieroglyphics show that their ancient ancestors believed that it symbolised Thoth, god of wisdom, who bore the head of an ibis. 

Over the years this bird made pools safe for villagers to bathe in, by feeding on the water snails that carried bilharzia. Because of the ibis’ sacred cultural and historical value in Egypt, a feasibility report for its reintroduction was scheduled for 2012 but was delayed by the political turmoil. This silent creature that occasionally utters a harsh croak in flight probably has cause to steer clear for now.

Okavango Frog
1 Aug 2013
 
     

If you happen to be exploring one of the reed-covered channels in the Okavango Delta in a makoro (originally a tree-trunk dugout, now usually a fibreglass canoe), keep an eye out for the occasional makoro-capsizing hippo as well as this reed frog. Your first guess might be that this is the marble or painted reed frog, Hyperolius marmoratus and avid Googling may appear to corroborate this. 

The problem is that H. marmoratus isn’t found in the Okavango Delta. Thanks to the kind auspices of a university frog expert, this one can in fact be confirmed to be Hyperolius parallelus, the Angolan reed frog, a slightly larger, more finely spotted species. Hopefully the hippo will be easier to identify.

Namaqualand Daisy (Jakkalsblom)
31 Jul 2013
 
     

Seen here at Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Dimorphotheca sinuata belongs to the family Asteraceae. Whether yellow or orange, it is probably the iconic indigenous spring flower on the West Coast, although somehow it made its way to the United States and has spread across almost half of California, where it is known as the African Daisy or Cape Marigold.

With some decent winter rain, there could be a mass of these over the next few months at Tietiesbaai, the colloquial name for this 263ha Reserve just south west of Paternoster. The totally unspoiled rocky coastline with inlets, little bays, and massive boulders of pink granite lorded over by the famous manned lighthouse makes this an idyllic setting for spring flower magic.

Fun in the mud
31 Jul 2013
 
     

On a recent trip to Kruger we came across this family of warthogs having some fun in the mud. This was a matriarchal group of warthogs and consisted of a mother and her babies. In this particular sounder of warthogs the boar has no role in raising the babies. Warthogs are distributed throughout Southern Africa and are often found at waterholes and marshes wallowing in the mud. They do this to keep cool as they have no sweat glands, and it's a good thing they do because this makes for great photos.

 – Megan Pilditch

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