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Durban at Daybreak
1 Mar 2013

Waking up at 4am seems rather absurd to most people, but if you have not yet experienced a sunrise over the Durban ocean then you need to start re-setting your alarms and rubbing the sleep from your eyes. Head down to Moyo Pier – located on the south side of the Golden Mile promenade – and appreciate the beauty of a Durban morning.  In front of you is the shimmer of the sun on the horizon and behind you is a panoramic view of the Durban skyline. And there’s nothing as invigorating as a quick dip in a sun-kissed ocean so make sure you take your swimming costume.

 - Daniella Toscano

27 Feb 2013

Eland are the world’s largest antelope species. The giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus) of Central Africa is actually slightly bigger than the common eland (Taurotragus oryx) that roams South Africa. Eating grass and leaves, eland occur in diverse habitats, from the high altitude Drakensberg grasslands to semi-desert areas of the Kgalagadi, where their occasional large group migrations are still poorly understood. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find them in the northern parts of Kruger and Mapungubwe national parks. Females are light brown and are sometimes domesticated for their nutritious milk. Males are larger (they weigh up to 1000 kg!) and greyer. They are not very fast, but can trot for hours and jump up to 3 metres high, despite their bulky appearance.

 - Dianne Tipping-Woods


The Swartberg Pass
26 Feb 2013

It’s always fun to listen to how differently people experience the same thing. We saw a study recently that claimed that colour (for example the colour of the mug from which you drink your hot chocolate) significantly influences your perception of taste. 

In a similar vein, the Swartberg Pass between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert in the Western Cape has given rise to almost legendary stories about its “toughness”. And, sure, when it’s wet or covered in eight inches of fresh snow, it must be utterly treacherous. But, when were recently boxed in between a Jaguar sports car and a Citi Golf, it almost felt like just another city road! 

There may be debates about exactly how tough the Swartberg Pass really is, but about one thing there is little room for doubt: it is one of the most beautiful mountain passes in the country... 

A trip to the Middle East (3)
23 Feb 2013

Our correspondent continues through the Middle East:

Wadi Rum, Jordan

A perfect dust devil right before it vanished at the entrance to Jordan's Wadi Rum. For me, Wadi Rum is one of the most surreal landscapes I have encountered, the rocky outcrops conjure up scenes from science fiction, contrasted with windswept swathes of ruby sand. Home to Bedouin tribes, and adventurers like Lawrence of Arabia, Wadi Rum is the perfect idyll. 

Lion on the Mananga Trail
22 Feb 2013

I love the expression on this young male lion’s face. He had just woken up from what appeared to be a long and lazy nap under a magic guarri bush (euclea divinorum). I spotted him and his equally scruffy but content looking brother, at the turn-off to the Mananga 4x4 Trail, about 11km north of the Satara Rest camp in the Kruger national park. The best thing about this trail is that you have the road virtually to yourself, as only 6 vehicles are allowed on it each day. It passes through an area that has a reputation as big cat country. It’s well-deserved in my opinion; I’ve had frequent special encounters lion, leopard and cheetah in this part of the park.

You can read more about the Mananga Trail here 

 - Dianne Tipping-Woods

Melville Koppies
21 Feb 2013

They say that our nature reserves are meant to be an educational experience, but how often do you do more than read the list of fauna on the back of the map they give you at the entrance?  Well, if you're in Joburg then you no longer have an excuse... Friends of Melville Koppies organise several hikes a month which are led by local experts, who will give you a  wealth of information in the field.  Best of all, you're practically still in the heart of the city, so you can go and mull it over, over a cocktail or such afterwards!  

Their website also has a field guide's worth of information on it.  I'll give you a teaser: did you know that the Highveld's pre-rain flowers actually respond not to the rain, but to the warming of the soil? 


More info:

19 Feb 2013

This weekend we found ourselves in Langebaan, and as it turns out the area has a lot to offer even out of flower season.  This has to be one of South Africa's watersport hotspots, and the rugged dune landscape is beautiful enough to explore all year round.  The beaches also offer great views, and the lagoon water is positively balmy for swimming.  Just remember, there is a reason the kitesurfers love Langebaan... it is Windy!

More info:

P.S. Anyone recognise this rock?

Polana Serena
18 Feb 2013

If you’re still in the romantic mood this special offer is too good to pass up. The Polana Serena Hotel in central Maputo is celebrating its 90th birthday and until the end of February you can stay at the opulent Grande Old Dame for $125 a night, including breakfast and high tea. Trust me, it’s a steal – and guaranteed to impress your beloved!

011 021 2607
[email protected]

A trip to the Middle East (2)
17 Feb 2013

Another update from our roaming correspondent...

Basilica of St Paul, Harissa

Perched atop the green slopes of Harissa, St Paul's Basilica makes for  a stately neighbour to Our Lady of Lebanon. Harissa is home to St Paul's Basilica, the seat of the Greek Melkite Patriarch, as well as Our Lady of Lebanon. Both are popular sites with pilgrims who come to offer prayers and light candles, as well as tourists and locals who come up for the fresh cedar and pine-scented air. A mere 20km from Beirut, it's a quick getaway, with sweeping views of the mountains and coastline stretching southwards.

15 Feb 2013

The office has been abuzz with talk of adventure this week...

One piece of news that might have gone unnoticed during the festive season was the death of Maurice Herzog, at the ripe old age of 93. Hertzog was the first man, along with climbing partner Louis Lachenal, to successfully summit an 8000-metre peak.

The pair climbed their way into the history books on June 3, 1950 when they made the first successful ascent Annapurna, the tenth highest peak in the world at 8,091 metres (26,545 ft). Annapurna is now considered to be amongst the most challenging of the fourteen 8,000m peaks and wasn’t climbed again until 1970. Even more remarkable was that they made the ascent without the use of supplemental oxygen. 

The summit team, along with two companions, Lionel Terray and Gaston Rébuffat, spent a night camped out in a crevasse on the descent with only one sleeping bag between them. As a result, they suffered severe frostbite. Herzog himself had lost his gloves on the way to the summit and ended up having all of his toes and several fingers amputated in the field.

Herzog book about the adventure, Annapurna The First Conquest of an 8000-Metre Peak, has been translated into 40 languages and has sold over 12 million copes across the globe. Even if you’re not a mountaineer it’s an inspiring read.

A trip to the Middle East (1)
9 Feb 2013

One of our correspondents recently spent some time in the Middle East, so we asked for a bit of feedback.

On the Teleferique - Harissa, Lebanon

This photo was taken out the window on the tiny teleferique capsule on the way up to the church of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, 20km north of Beirut. In the distance, an overcrowded Beirut jostles for space besides the Mediterranean. Affluent Downtown high-rises which were built after the civil war jut into the dusky sky, whilst in the foreground, apartment blocks in Jounieh have their privacy invaded daily as passengers zip past on their way up the mountain slope for one of the best views along the Lebanese coast.

Umfolozi Lions
8 Feb 2013

Whoever said that trees were the domain of leopards was clearly mistaken! This family of four lionesses and three cubs was spotted casually resting in a tree in the Umfolozi Game reserve in KZN. Undisturbed by the cars’ ignitions and camera flashes the family continued to snore away, occasionally rebalancing themselves on the branches after a slight wobble. Umfolozi Game Reserve is the oldest proclaimed park in Africa and is home to a healthy population of lions. It’s a definitely a lot easier to spot a lion in a tree than inthe dense bush that has been encouraged by the summer rains.

 - Megan Pilditch

More Reading:

The Bateleur
5 Feb 2013

The bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) is one of the iconic birds of the Kruger National Park, but it also occurs in the rest of the Lowveld, Zululand and the Kgalagadi. The mostly black plumage of the raptor and its red facial skin, bill and legs, are easy to spot. Even the brown-coloured juveniles can readily be identified by the bare facial skin between their bill and eye. It is also one of the easiest birds of prey to recognise in flight; it has a short, stubby tail and continuously rocks its wings from side to side to keep its equilibrium, like someone using their arms to balance while walking a tight rope. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll know its French name, which references tight-rope walkers, is perfectly apt. The birds pair for life and eat small reptiles, mammals and birds.

 - Dianne Tipping-Woods

Pasta e Fagioli with mussels by Giorgio Nava
3 Feb 2013

One last treat to end of food week, and it's a good one!  Giorgio Nava, of 95 Keerom fame, was recently lauded as one of the 'silent heroes of the success of Italian cuisine and wine in the world', at the recent Grand Padano Awards.  This dish, by him, won 2nd place in the World Pasta Championship last year!

Pasta e Fagioli with mussels (Serves 6)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 500g cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250 ml white wine
  • 2 Tbs Thyme, chopped
  • 2 Tbs Oregano, chopped
  • 500g fresh mussels
  • 250g ditalini pasta, cooked
  • 2 Italian tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the potato, onion, carrot and celery.
  2. Add the soaked beans and cover with water. Leave to simmer for 35 minutes or until beans are cooked through.
  3. Remove 1 cup of cooked beans and blend the rest. Season to taste. Place the wine, thyme and oregano into a pan and bring to the boil, add the mussels and cover.
  4. Once mussels are cooked, remove from the shell (save a few in the shell for decoration).
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the bean puree together with the mussels, tomato and baby spinach and toss to combine.

Serve in a deep bowl topped with the reserved beans, mussels and basil to garnish.

Paulina's Crispy Pork Belly
3 Feb 2013

Crispy Pork Belly

served with fried greens, Wasabi mash and sweet chilli and ginger sauce.

For the plate

  • 200g Slow cooked pork belly
  • 50g Mixture of julienne green cabbage, mange tout, baby marrow and bean sprouts, fried off in a pan with a little oil and salt and pepper 
  • 100g Mash potato mixed with butter and salt
  • 15g Wasabi paste
  • 20ml Sweet chilli ginger sauce
  • Salt and pepper and coriander to garnish

Slow cooked pork belly

  • 5kg pork belly
  • 5g bay leaves
  • 400g carrots
  • 400g onion
  • 1/2 bunch celery
  • 1/2 bunch leeks
  • 2g star aniseed
  • 2g cloves
  • 8lt water


  1. Roughly cut carrots, onion, celery, leeks and place in a deep tray.
  2. Place pork belly on top of the cut veg with the skin side down and cover with the bay leaves, star aniseed, clove and water, pork belly must be completely covered.
  3. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven at 170 degrees for 3 hours.
  4. Once cooked and soft take out of the cooking liquid and place in a tray and cover with grease proof paper and another tray on top of the belly and fill the tray with a heavy weight to press the belly flat and place in the fridge overnight. 
  5. Once cold and pressed take out of the tray and portion into 200g.

Sweet chilli ginger sauce

  • 500ml sweet chilli sauce
  • 50g fresh ginger
  • 200ml soy sauce
  • 400ml beef stock


  1. Finely grate the ginger.
  2. In a pot add the sweet chilli sauce, soy, beef stock and grated ginger and boil for 10 minutes.

For the wasabi mash heat up the mash potato and then add in the wasabi to the mash slowly. Depending on your taste you can make it as hot as you like.










Rickety Bridge - Paulina's
3 Feb 2013

First the tasting centre got a complete make-over, now Franschhoek’s popular Rickety Bridge winery has totally revamped its restaurant. The Restaurant in the Vines has made way for Paulina’s, named in honour of the original owner of the property in 1797, Paulina de Villiers.

In keeping with current culinary trends, the restaurant features a variety of half and full portions on its bistro style menu, allowing diners the opportunity to sample and share dishes. 

We can report that the half portions are, in fact, larger than a conventional tapas serving, so also ideal as a starter, and the food is beautifully prepared and presented using fresh seasonal ingredients – many of which come from the estate’s herb and vegetable garden. Try the seafood risotto, the crisp pork belly or the somewhat unusual salmon trout fish cakes, which are served on a beetroot roll and topped with a lime aioli.

Tasty stuff in a great setting -




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