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Prince Albert
18 Apr 2013

We have been to this little hamlet countless times over the years and have seen it grow in stature as a tourist destination. From a dusty, and often dirty little town, it has flower into one of the gems of the Karoo. Having travelled through a fair number of dorps and towns over the festive season, it was refreshing to see a town as clean as Prince Albert. What a pleasure! Not a scrap of litter lying around. The townsfolk clearly take pride in their town - and it shows. The same was true for Willowmore and Aberdeen, so clearly somebody is doing something right in that part of the world. 

Sharpe's Grysbok
17 Apr 2013

The Sharpe’s Grysbok (Raphicerus sharpie) is a small, shy antelope that you might just encounter in dense vegetation in the northern reaches of the Kruger National Park. I spotted this one on the Mahonie loop near Punda Maria rest camp, probably the best place in South Africa to see this diminutive browser (although it readily occurs north of the country up to Tanzania). Grysbok is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘grey buck’, but its coat is actually red-brown with off-white highlights. It has a stockier body than the Common Duiker and longer fur over its hindquarters. The Sharpe’s Grysbok is closely related to the similar Cape Grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis), an endemic animal that lives in amidst the fynbos of the Western Cape.

 - Dianne Tipping-Woods

Close call
15 Apr 2013

Two days ago, we wrote about letting Nightjar Junior out of the house occasionally.  Well, this is why don’t do it too often! One minute he was driving happily up Hospital Bend, the next he was on his back next to the embankment.

On a more serious note, Nightjar Junior was very lucky. He crawled out of the vehicle without a scratch - it could have been so different. In his particular case, increased vigilance would probably not have made a huge difference. The vehicle directly in front of him lost control, leaving him little time to react. But, it pays to be extra careful. Keep your tyres and airbags in good condition, and wear a seatbelt. These things happen to everyone.

Ballooning in Cappadocia
14 Apr 2013

One of our correspondents recently spent some time in Turkey. Over the next few weeks we'll share a few of her stories.

"There are few experiences that top a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey. You are collected by the balloon company at 5am and sped off to the top of the hills. There, you enjoy the sunrise and a cup of coffee while your balloon is filled with hot air. Before you know it, you are standing with nineteen other awe-struck people in a basket floating roughly 6000 feet above the ground. Aside from the sheer thrill of floating in a basket, you witness the breath-taking beauty of Cappadocia's rock formations surrounded by about thirty other balloons in the air." 

 - Pasqua Heard

Photographer: Jane Jager - Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey

Nightjar Junior and the Dolphins
13 Apr 2013

Every once in a while, we make Nightjar Junior do something fun and write us 'the youth perspective'... Not too much fun of course, else he'll get spoilt.  This week, we sent him sea kayaking:

"After much persuasion (almost none whatsoever), my dad agreed to bring the two-person kayak to Cape Town. It was covered in dust, but completely unscathed, from ten strenuous years of lying in our garage.

My girlfriend and I were already giddy with excitement, having talked about doing this for months, and it was pleasant paddling up until we decided to go back. From then, in just twenty minutes, a seal picked us for company during his lunch break and a pod of Dusky dolphins danced along beside us.

Dolphins. A seal eating sushi. Penguins cruising past. Dolphins. Sail boats bobbing. Sea breeze. Dolphins! Could a first-time kayak outing into the blue wilderness on our doorstep go any better?"

Rooftop Bars
12 Apr 2013

The City Bowl is a hub of unusual night spots where not only the cocktail prices climb sky high. Rooftop bars and lounges, located several storeys above Cape Town’s lively streets, are both popular filming locations and prime VIP real estate for the city’s after-dark scene. Diners and ever-punctual happy hour-goers can take in the panorama from these elevated vantage points.

Sky Bar is the crowning glory of the always-popular Grand Daddy Hotel at 38 Long Street. This local rooftop jol is a seventies Airstream time warp with a dash of Kubrick futurism. On clear warm nights, a star-studded sky forms the bar’s natural ceiling, giving you the best of Cape Town’s scenic beauty while seated in the comfort of a luxurious Bedouin tent. 
Vista Bar and Lounge at the One&Only Hotel promises much more than a view. The bar’s expansive glass windows spare not a single inch of the panoramic Table Mountain views the venue boasts, while its diverse menu covers genteel afternoon teas and more energised evening festivities. With its opulent interiors and unrivalled vistas, this lofty hangout is rated high enough for social ascension. Quite literally. 
Tjing Tjing, inspired by the Tokyo skyline and other forms of Japanese wonderment, serves uncapped Jack Black, cocktails and sticky tapas from the third storey of a 200-year-old house on Longmarket Street. The rooftop venue hosts the Tjing Tjing Exchange, a creative showcase for local art and design talent while the kitchen makes diabetic-friendly lunches in support of Diabetes Awareness Day. 
Trinity in Green Point’s trendy south district, with its warehouse-style, red-brick industria feel, has a secret rooftop garden. The space, decorated with plume-like trees and lazy wicker furniture, is adaptable to Cape Town’s erratic weather patterns. It has a fireplace for chilly winter nights and umbrellas for summer, though the surrounding buildings are close enough to provide shade as well as obstruct a perfectly good view.  

The Revolving Restaurant at the Ritz Hotel is the unofficial lighthouse of the Atlantic Seaboard. Located at the top of a glittering high-rise, the restaurant puts ‘panoramic’ into motion, completing a full 360-degree rotation before you’ve ordered dessert. Though some years past its heyday, the Restaurant remains a vintage icon of the Sea Point skyline. 

 - Aimee Dyamond

Geelbek Hide
11 Apr 2013

Geelbek Hide

The three Geelbek bird hides in West Coast National Park are favourite hangouts for South African birdwatchers. Just 100 kilometres north of Cape Town, they overlook the Langebaan lagoon – one of the best places to spot migratory waders like the little stint, marsh sandpiper, ruff, common whimbrel and eurasian curlew. Rare summer visitors like common redshank and dunlin also occasionally occur. The park is mostly covered in fynbos and boasts a bird list of about 250 bird species, including many endemics or near-endemics. Best wader watching times depend on the tide, but the hides definitely have a special magic in the evening. A highlight of my visit was sitting watching lesser flamingos feed peacefully while the sun set, after a day of walking through the stunning seaside scenery.

Read more about the West Coast National Park here:

 - Dianne Tipping-Woods

Dung beetles
6 Apr 2013

Along with butterflies, dung beetles must rate amongst the most popular insects to watch. While the comical effects of seeing them get to grips with ever-growing balls of dung may sometimes eclipse their committed work ethic, they hold a special fascination for children and adults alike. Worldwide there are thousands of species of dung beetle; the ‘rollers’ make a ball from animal faeces, roll it (usually backwards) to their underground chamber and use it there as a food source or to incubate their eggs. You can watch them at work at rest camps in popular parks like Kruger, Pilanesberg or Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, while Addo Elephant National Park, in the Eastern Cape, has a large population of the flightless dung beetle (Circellium bacchus). 

 - Dianne Tipping-Woods

The Golden Mile
3 Apr 2013

The long stretch of pavement that runs from Moses Mabhida Stadium to Ushaka Marine World has become one of the biggest attractions in Durban.  Pick a sunny day and head to Branches, the skateboard and bike hire shop situated at Bay of Plenty beach. I joined in with young and old alike, selecting a skateboard as my preferred mode of transport, and we collectively began to journey along The Golden Mile. It’s a great activity to do with family or a group of friends, especially if you’re not the walking or running type, and it gives you a real taste of the laid back, “beach lifestyle” that Durbs has become famous for. 

 - Daniella Toscano

Of men and monsters
2 Apr 2013

Those of you who like winter sports will probably have heard of Tiffindell, "South Africa's highest resort". During the winter months, lying at around 2750m, Tiffindell provides an excellent setup for learning to ski, and even a bit of entertainment for the more experienced skiers. During the summer, the challenging road lures bikers of the motorised and non variety, and the peaks are a hiker's playground. However, Tiffindell has a deep, dark secret... the fishy waters of Loch Ness. This Loch is a wee bit smaller than the famous lake in Scotland, but our Loch Ness holds more monsters.

We fished the weedbeds and shoreline drop-offs, wading and from float tubes, and although the fishing was slow, there was steady action throughout the day. We had the best luck on olive wooly buggers, although darker buggers also did well, and a solitary hotspot nymph had its moment of glory. As for the moments of glory... well! We snapped off half our fish on the strike, on 3X fluorocarbon. These fish meant business.

As luck would have it, we had no 2X, or nylon (more stretch) with us, so in desperation we started fishing with the butt section of a 9ft 3X leader (yes, the stuff as thick as a pencil) tied onto a 9ft furled leader (for more stretch). Eventually, we started landing fish, and oh! what fish they were. Deep across the belly and broad across the head but definitely not fat, and your arm could feel that in the fight... there were monster rainbows that made whooping, screaming boys out of men. We caught a selection ranging from 4 to 7 pounds until a lightning storm chased us off the mountain.

Nightjar Travelled
2 Apr 2013

Last weekend we headed to Witsieshoek Mountain Resort and were impressed by what we found. The only accommodation in the vicinity of the famous chain ladders - the only ‘easy’ way to the top of the ‘Berg - Witsies has always been a winner when it comes to location and has long been a haunt of hikers, climbers and those wanting to escape the rat race. The highest lodge in the northern Drakensberg mountains, it’s not luxurious, but is now very comfortable thanks to recent refurbishments, a cozy bar and little touches like good quality bed linen. Best of all it’s big on heart with an extremely helpful management couple and friendly staff who really go the extra mile to make you feel welcome.


Alex Harris, Marco Broccardo and David Joyce
2 Apr 2013

Nightjar Adventurer 2013.
The Adventurers: Alex Harris, Marco Broccardo and David Joyce
The Adventure: Walking across the Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali) in the Arabian Peninsula, unsupported.

Rub' al Khali is one of the driest regions in the world, and is virtually uninhabited and largely unexplored. Three men, dragging a 350kg sled behind them, decided to walk the 1,180km crossing with no support except for each other and their provisions. It took them 40 days... and if you imagine pulling a dead weight behind you for more than a month, over soft sand, in desert temperatures, I think it is fair to say that this was no mean feat! To make matters worse, they could only ration one wet wipe each, per day, to allow themselves the possibility of a sand-free night's sleep. Despite this, the vast expanses of sand were still magical to observe, according to the team, so do come and read their story.


And with that, ladies and gentlemen, voting is now open! Please do come and vote for your favourites.

Richard Kohler
2 Apr 2013

Nightjar Adventurer 2013.
The Adventurer: Richard Kohler
The Adventure: Paddling the first continuous solo expedition around the coastline of South Africa.

With years of experience on the water, Richard Kohler knew that paddling the coastline of South Africa, putting a 3300km "smile" on the map, would be a daunting task... but he had no idea what was in store for him. Within days of launching, his surfski was bulldozed by an angry shark, taking off the rudder system. The spare was snapped in two by angry surf, and soon after Richard himself was packed off to the physio by angrier surf. The expedition continued with determination, until night-time burglars made off with all the vital equipment. Richard was devastated, but buckled down, replanned, and on his second attempt at the expedition he succeeded. This attempt was not without its harrowing moments either though!

Chris Bertish
2 Apr 2013

Nightjar Adventurer 2013.
The Adventurer: Chris Bertish
The Adventure: A 323km SUP expedition along the Cape West Coast

The treacherous Cape West Coast has claimed many an ocean faring vessel, and makes for quite good wreck spotting.  What it does not make for, on the other hand, is an easy trip for one dude on a stand-up paddleboard! Chris Bertish spent 8 days battling the elements and barely made it from Cape Town to Lamberts Bay, on a world first solo expedition raising funds for The Lunchbox Fund.


Kingsley Holgate
2 Apr 2013

Nightjar Adventurer 2013.
The Adventurers: Kingsley Holgate
The Adventure: Great African Rift Valley Expedition

Kingsley Holgate is almost a household name, and many see him as The Greybeard of Africa for his numerous adventurous exploits.  The Great Rift Valley is equally revered, with the track that it leaves across Africa visible from outer space!  In an epic meeting of giants, Kingsley and his team travelled from Djibouti on the Horn of Africa to the Gorongosa Mountains in Mozambique, distributing mosquito nets, eye glasses and water purifying Lifestraws all along the way.    

Porter, Marteningo, Glass and Bradshaw
2 Apr 2013

Nightjar Adventurer 2013.
The Adventurers: Clinton Marteningo, Dave Glass, Andrew Porter, Steve Bradshaw
The Adventure: A 7000km Arctic Circle Sailing and Climbing Expedition

Take four well known South African climbers and one vastly experienced sailor borrowed from the Queen, give them four months and this is the result... Arctic exploration extraordinaire!  With a focus on big wall route development, they fought the treacherous waters of the Arctic Circle and did some pioneering climbing to boot.  Just thinking about how they took on two ferocious adventures at once gives us the shivers.


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