Sheet lightning paints the sky at the foot of Ship's Prow pass, in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg. Camping in this storm turned out to be a blessing and a curse - sights, scents and sounds the likes of which you simply cannot get outside the mountains, but every second of awe is a second of sleep sorely missed after the hike to get there! This storm took the best part of three hours to blow over - a good reminder that even on the nicest of days (which it had been) you should still be prepared for anything when you go on long hikes.
If you’re looking for a lekker place to take the kids while in Jozi, Sci-Bono is said to be the largest science centre in Africa. Situated in Newtown, there are over 300 exhibits that cover subjects such as aviation, electronics, lasers and electromagnetism. There are mini construction sites (a huge hit with small people), exhibits constructed with Lego, science shows, and even an exhibit called the Science of Soccer (Dads love this too).
The museum's aims are to improve learning in maths, science and technology by having fun. Allied to it is an education centre with computer and science labs where interactive workshops are held, as well as a career centre that undertakes psychometric testing and guidance. Sci-Bono has an active holiday programme for kids and older students and offers ‘edutaining’ for children’s birthday parties. It makes for a great family outing and draws large numbers of school groups. So if the kids are getting cabin fever now that the holiday is over, this is the place to take them.
- Denise Slabbert
Fancy a game-viewing holiday in 2013? Well we’ve got good news for you.
WILDERNESS SAFARIS LAUNCHES LOYALTY PROGRAMME FOR AFRICAN RESIDENTS
On the eve of their 30th birthday Wilderness Safaris, one of Africa’s long established safari companies, have introduced a loyalty programme - the Wilderness Safaris Residents Programme for - African residents/citizens. The programme is tailor-made to accommodate residents of southern Africa and other African countries with Dream Deals allowing members to take advantage of exclusive rates and last-minute booking discounts at the 70 Wilderness Safaris exclusive lodges, scattered in spectacular locations throughout nine African countries.
Best of all the R5000 membership fee (valid for two years) goes directly to the Children in the Wilderness programme, www.childreninthewilderness.com, and is tax deductible for South African residents. CITW is an environmental and life skills educational programme for rural children focusing on the next generation of decision makers: inspiring them to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of these areas in the future.
After a scintillating run in Durban, Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams is coming to the Mother City. The Miracle Tour – a thoroughly OTT dinner theatre extravaganza - opens at its new venue in Cape Town’s prestigious V&A Waterfront on the 16th of January 2013, and runs nightly from Tuesday to Saturday. Exhilarating from beginning to end, a night with the Madame is jam-packed with enthralling sensory experiences; from the fairytale characters who populate the tent and the drama, suspense and thrill of the show to a delectable four course meal prepared by gourmet chefs. So drag out your glad rags and get down to the party.
Tickets range from R385 – R475. More info @ www.madamezingara.com
A favourite among locals and tourists alike, the Old Biscuit Mill in trendy Woodstock, Cape Town, is the spot to taste some gourmet foods. Originally an actual biscuit mill, this warehouse type building has been transformed into a buzzing Saturday market. Meander your way through the maze of stores and sample the artisan food and drink tasters. This particular store was selling mushroom kebabs, with other store options ranging from oysters to fruit smoothies to pastries.
The market is open every Saturday from 9am until 2pm but try to get there early to avoid the crowds. There are also some permanent stores if you want to stop by without the crowds... support local foodies!
- Megan Pilditch
‘The Godfather of South African Rock’ Arno Carstens wooed the crowds on Sunday at the first Kirstenbosch summer concert of 2013. The sun was shining, the wine was flowing and there were plenty of revellers dancing in front of the stage. A brilliant reminder that just because the Christmas holiday is over, that's no excuse to stop having fun! Kirstenbosch has a great line-up for the rest of the season so pack a picnic basket and head to one of the most scenic live music venues one Sunday before 7 April. The rest of the country is getting back into swing too, and we'll update you as soon as we find some more ideas!
Having faced a normal monday again, it has become apparent that the holiday season has come or is coming to a close to most of us, a few lucky students excepted... So it's time to start looking closer to home for your daily dose of beauty, adventure, or whatever else floats your boat. Take, for example, this little chameleon chilling out in my garden... Certainly smaller than some of the game we've photographed in the last two months (but I'd hate to clean up behind a giraffe anyway), and no less beautiful.
So now that I'm back in the swing of things, I'm making a hit-list of 'little adventures' to have within easy reach of my home, and hopefully this will lead to a rewarding year... Starting with figuring out where on earth that chameleon has disappeared to!
Mom, I’m hungry! In the Northern Cape, sociable weavers breed at any time of the year, averaging 4 broods a year. This number can be much higher under repeated predation. Their most common enemies are snakes, and in particular the Cape cobra. One of these can wreak havoc if they manage to break into a colony. Sociable weavers help out with the care of younger siblings, and sometimes even unrelated little ones. Colonies are therefore inhabited by extended family trees, stretching over many generations.
Even if the 'facts' don't interest you, these guys are still highly entertaining to watch for a few minutes - the amount of activity around a colony nest is simply unbelievable, as is the noise!
The Nightjar Team hard at work watching a colony of sociable weavers. Although some birds build bigger nests, nothing matches these little guys for the size of their colonies. Some of these colonies house over 100 pairs. Pygmy Falcons are the most common co-inhabitant, but a range of other birds, including finches, lovebirds, Barbets and Chats, also use these nests - and for good reason. During hot summer’s days, the outside chambers offer cool relief from the scorching sun, while at night the central chambers remain cosy and warm.
Stay tuned for the result of all this 'hard work'!
Built in 1936 this large lighthouse towers over the rugged and windswept Cape coastline and is usually the first lighhouse seen by ships travelling from Europe. With this area notoriously known for shipwrecks the lighthouse was actually named after the barque ‘Columbine’ that was wrecked along the coast in 1829. The lighthouse is situated in the Columbine Nature Reserve, 5km away from the popular tourist destination Paternoster, and camping facilites, hiking trails and kaykaing are some the some of the parks activites. Entrance fee into the park is R13.70 for adults and R6.90 children. Open daily.
- Megan Pilditch
The vulture restaurant at Giant’s Castle is one of the best places in the world to watch Cape vultures and bearded vultures (also known as lammergeiers) soar and feed at very close range. Located near a cliff face, this secluded hide in the Drakensberg allows for close encounters with these two vulture species, as well as jackal buzzards, white-necked ravens and other carrion-eating species. In addition to the birds, at any given time opportunistic black-backed jackals might appear and tussle for scraps, creating some great photographic opportunities.
Just remember to heed the instructions please - vultures have been known to swallow nails used to stake bait to the ground, with severe consequences!
- Dianne Tipping-Woods
January is almost in full swing again, and if you're anything like me, you're looking very hard at your weekend plans and trying to make them bring back that holiday feeling... and if you're in Cape Town, why not pop out to the Durbanville Wine Route? It's easy to forgot about this magical corner of the city with all the publicity that the winelands receive, but once you're over the first hill, the scenery is just as pretty - and you're only 20 minutes out of the city!
I recently did the condensed version, stopping at Altydgedacht and Diemersdal, but drove past so many farms on the way back that I know this warrants another visit… Once I've finished the treasures I came home with!
Travelling through South Africa can be a humbling experience. It’s easy to feel small and awe-struck when looking at elephants up close, losing yourself in a wide landscape or taking in the magnificence of a night sky full of stars. But nothing quite compares to how you’ll feel when you encounter a millennia old baobab (Andansonia digitata). This particular specimen is the Sagole Big Tree in Venda, in the north-eastern corner of Limpopo province. Home to a flock of rare mottled spinetails (a type of swift), it has a trunk diameter of 10.47 meters, a circumference of 43 meters and a crown diameter of 38.2 metres. The tree is 22 metres high and is estimated to be 3000 years old. It’s amazing to think that it originated from a single tiny seed.
- Dianne Tipping-Woods
Afternoon tea dahlin? The tantalising Land of Sweets afternoon tea extravaganza at the One&Only is a festive upgrade of their now famous afternoon tea buffet. Cucumber sarmies (naturally dol), fancy cakes, luscious fruit tarts, enormous bowls of fresh berries, candied almonds, chocolates and a collection of old-fashioned sweets. Naughty but ooooh so nice! If you missed it on the 20th December, fear not - it will be served again on the 2nd January in the Vista Lounge.
The Karkloof Canopy Tour in KwaZulu-Natal is an exhilarating adventure activity (as you can see from the expression on my sister-in-law’s face as she comes in to land after completing a section of it). During the 2 hour adventure, you and a group of friends will get to experience the area’s magnificent indigenous forest from a unique aerial vantage point, as you slide between 9 platforms. The longest ‘foefi’ slide is about 180m. Secured by a harness, gravity does most of the work, making the activity suitable for almost anyone between the ages of 7 and 70. You’re accompanied by guides at all times and, can go tandem with one of them if you want to. The forest is alive with the calls of birds and monkeys and the high lasts long after you come down from the trees.
- Dianne Tipping-Woods
Temperatures of over 30 degrees this weekend had us, and our dogs panting. So we thought we’d share a bit of advice from a mountain club member, Chris Walker, about hiking with your four-legged friends.
‘At knee level the temperatures on paths are much higher than at your head level and often owners do not realise the stress being encountered by their pets. It’s also important to remember dogs, like people, have good and bad days. On some days we cope well and others we just battle along with the rest of the group.
Dogs are no different so look after your pooch by following these tips:
• Start and finish early before the heat of the day
• Take plenty of water for your dog (not that this will help much for dogs susceptible to heat stroke)
• Restrict your walk to something you are confident your dog can cope with
• Be on the lookout for abnormal behaviour, particularly the following:
- Excessive panting
- Constantly seeking shade
- Unnaturally dry and warm nose
- Unable to cope with terrain it can normally cope with
Keeping your animal well watered, allowing it to wallow in water as and when that is found, and staying in breezy and shaded spots will all help avert heat stress.'