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Mama Nightjar and The German (3)
3 Nov 2012
 
     

A little bit more advice from Mama Nightjar - if you go to Kirstenbosch, do check out the impressive stand of cussonias near the cycads! And speaking of cycads...

Did you know? In Francis Masson’s collection of plants sent to Kew in 1772, a small cycad from the Eastern Cape, currently weighs more than a ton and is almost 5 meters tall! For a plant that only grows about 3cm per year; how amazing that it is still alive! Go say hallo to this Encephalartos Altensteini in Kew Botanical Gardens when you hop over to London… but save the month of October for Cape Town.

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Mama Nightjar and The German (2)
3 Nov 2012
 
     

Some more excerpts from Mama Nightjar and The German (a visit to the Cape) :-)

Which was more enjoyed? The lunch at Kirstenbosch, or the art exhibition, or the mass flowering of both the yellow and orange Strelitzia Reginae? To be able to show a fresh foreigner the flowers, in such abundance and size, tickled me orange! Did you know that these flowers are named after Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Strelitz, the wife of King George III?

Of course, when I mentioned these proud spikes are also called Bird-of-Paradise flowers, my friend was suitably impressed. When I mentioned they are also known as Crane Flowers, it led to a discussion of the way languages can influence each other… crane… kraan… but the imposing line of orange won and we followed it all the way up to my favourites, the cycads. And yes! Crowning as proudly as the Strelitzias. A sight I had not experienced in years. Even the Encephalartos Stangeria was gently pushing up two cones. Some cones were as fat as only a king can dream to be. My friend was gasping. Then the mountain backdrop clinched it for her. She will retire in Cape Town.

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Sunbirds
2 Nov 2012
 
     

Nature - beautiful, but hard. These gorgeous Greater double-collared sunbird chicks, spotted in the Giant's Castle Game Reserve, are so beautifully huddled on this branch... because a troop of baboons destroyed their nest in search of food. Sadly, this makes their chance of survival slim.

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Three Peaks Challenge
2 Nov 2012
 
     

Cape Town’s iconic Three Peaks Challenge is not for sissies. Yet places are like gold dust and the race sells out almost immediately entries open. On Saturday 120 ultra-runners will take on the challenge of scaling Devil’s Peak (1000m), Table Mountain (1085m) and then Lion’s Head (669m) - a distance of around 50km. Hope the weather is kind to them.

Our Fiona McIntosh will be running - read her take on it in our magazine.

Good luck to her - I think I fall into the sissies category :-)

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Mama Nightjar and The German (1)
2 Nov 2012
 
     

Mama Nightjar recently got the chance to play tourguide... so of course, I asked her to report back afterwards!

My German friend needed to see and smell real fynbos... Therefore we drove through Newlands, up Riverside road, in order to have lunch at Moyo in the Botanical Gardens. It was my pleasure to show her where we once lived, and what a delightful jog it was up to Kistenbosch - peacefully along the river, then through the arum lilies and up up up - to the highest path in Kirstenbosch. Ohhhh , to be young again!

One can run a different route every day of the year and still have so much beauty around you …and be surprised by the fact that one has covered mud and tar in Newlands, Bishopscourt and Kirstenbosch only. Claremont next year!

There will be more from Mama Nightjar and The German tomorrow :-) Enjoy your evening!

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Journey Planning Inspiration
31 Oct 2012
 
     

Are you keen to check out the Chokka spawning this month?

Well, as scuba divers are painfully aware, you can't spend the whole time underwater! Gills are only scheduled to feature on humans in 200 years... so here's a quick suggestion of what you can do when you're stuck on the wrong side of the waves...

As usual, feel free to pull this into your own journey planner and play with it!

Erik

[ P.s. the Chokka feature in case you missed it! ]

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Nightjar Travelled
29 Oct 2012
 
     

You’d have thought that there would be hiking trails a plenty through the winelands. But actually ‘proper’ hikes - as opposed to leisurely strolls - are surprisingly scarce. So the Kloovenburg Pastorie in Riebeek Kasteel, was a real find. You can walk straight out of the boutique guesthouse and up through the picturesque vineyards onto the craggy peak of Kasteelberg – a good challenge for hard-core hikers (though, of course, those of a more leisurely bent can just stroll around the vineyards!) Or you can just hole up, lie by the pool, sit on the terrace and enjoy the views from the beautifully renovated old home or indulge in a leisurely wine and olive tasting. Either way a stay at the Kloovenburg Pastorie’s a spoil.

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Big Hole Trivia
17 Oct 2012
 
     

Who's up for some trivia?

The Kimberley Mine, or Big Hole, produced over 14.5 million carats of diamonds, equivalent to 2,700kg! Even more amazing, I find, is that 22.5 million tons of earth were excavated to produce this!  Although the hole is only 215m deep, the underground workings of the mine went down 1097m! Also, we're coming up on the anniversary soon - work ceased in August 1914.

If anyone objects to the 'facts' above, I sourced them from the big sign on the tourist bridge overlooking the hole - I don't think you get more official than that? Hehe :) The Big Hole tourist attraction really is a sweet place to explore. I love how much effort they've put into the story surrounding the mine, because you can only look at the Big Hole for so long before you get bored, but with all the extra history to explore this is really not a problem...

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Journey Planning Inspiration
16 Oct 2012
 
     

So you've read about the West Coast several times by now, given that flower season has been underway for just over a month... but as our latest magazine article shows, there is far more to do than just flower-gazing!

In this itinerary, we've chucked together a few things suited more towards the 'go-places-do-things' crowd than those just looking for a nice lunch and some good photos. 

As Paul Winter says in our magazine, the West Coast hosts some of South Africa's best sea kayaking, as well as a number of 'weekend getaway' hikes (and some longer ones). A lot of the hikes in the area are guided by community members, providing you with a fascinating insight and them with valuable employment!

If you can do it on water, you can probably do it on the West Coast, but there are also numerous cultural gems scattered around (need I say more than 'Darling'?!)... Have a look at all the ideas we've put into this itinerary, then import it into your account and play with it - we've listed way too many to do in one weekend, but if you delete the ones that don't interest you, you could end up with a great weekend trip.

Enjoy!

View the route in the Journey Planner.

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Nightjar Travelled
15 Oct 2012
 
     

With rain still lashing the Cape we decided to give open water diving a miss and headed to the Two Oceans Aquarium for dip with the sharks in the I&J Predator Exhibit. Diving with apex predators sounds intimidating but this is actually the easiest dive in the Cape – all you need is a Discover Scuba qualification. There’s no surge, the visibility is great, the water’s warm and you spend the dive eyeballing menacing looking ragged tooth sharks, cheeky turtles and massive game fish. Best of all it carries serious bragging rights – just check the wide-eyed admiration of the aquarium visitors on the other side of the glass!

You can check it out (or at least admire the aquarium photos) here:

Aquarium dive information.

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Wild Adventures at Wild Mountain
11 Oct 2012
 
     

Kate and Phil of Wild Mountain Adventures are one couple who are mightily relieved to see the start of spring in South Africa. Whilst building their lodge in the Drakensberg Mountains near Barkly East, they spent this winter under canvas in one of their permanent safari tents. With snow on the ground and night time temperatures as low as minus 14 degrees Celcius they are living proof that ‘You need attitude to do the altitude’. Kate is pleased to report that temperatures are now balmy, and guests are welcome to stay at Wildside with no fear of their bedside drinks freezing, which is what regularly happened to them this winter!

Get more info. about Wid Mountain Adventures.

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Cities for Scoundrels - Panama
8 Oct 2012
 
     

Some cities are ideal for lovers, some for shoppers and some for - well, let’s be honest - scoundrels. Such as Panama City, synonymous with sleazy deals, laundered money, the classic cad’s hat and, of course, a canal. With its history determined by being at the narrowest point between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it’s always attracted more than a fair share of bounty hunters, pirates, adventurers and rogues.

From here, it’s only a short hop to Bogota, the capital of Colombia, synonymous with coffee, cocaine and a national footballer being shot dead for scoring an own goal. Once famous primarily for murders and kidnappings, Bogota’s now also renowned for its pulsating, energetic nightlife. Not that you should discard your bullet proof vest just yet.  Of course, you don’t need to be a scoundrel to visit Panama or Bogota. But if you are one, you’ll certainly feel at home.

- Matthew Holt

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The Fairies of Boven
8 Oct 2012
 
     

You might remember, last week, how seriously impressed we were by Shaen Adey and Fiona McIntosh for being the first women's team in history to place on the podium at the Waterfall Boven Roc Rally 2012 (With a 2nd overall?! 

Well, I've thought about it, and I've decided that... impressed or not, the world has got to see this pic :-) Hehe!

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Darling Brew
5 Oct 2012
 
     

Micro-brewed beer in a dorp - Yes please. The Darling Brew’s Slow Quarter is worth the hour’s drive from Cape Town. Located in the theatrical town of Darling, the tasting room has four beers on tap accompanied by meals with a distinctive South African flavour. On offer are: Slow Beer, their good old lager; Native Ale, a spicy brown ale; Black Mist, a deep black ale, and the Bone Crusher. The Bone Crusher, named after the spotted hyena, is a love-or-hate-it Wit Beer with more than a hint of orange peel and coriander. I’m a fan, though I won’t be cuddling hyenas any time soon.

- Sara Barnes

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Journey Planning Inspiration
2 Oct 2012
 
     

By now you've heard plenty about bouldering in Rocklands, and flowers on the Cape West Coast... so what if you're itching to go, but you have friends/family to consider?

Well I've put together an itinerary that touches on a few different interests to get you started... and if it doesn't quite suit your style, remember that you can always pull it into your account and replace my suggestions from your own favourites list! If you have any questions, drop a comment here and I'll see what I can do.

See the route in the Journey Planner.

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Nightjar Travelled
1 Oct 2012
 
     

With rain forecast for the Cape last weekend we decided that a culinary tour of the pretty winelands town of Franschhoek might be just the thing to chase away the blues. Contrary to popular belief that all accommodation in the valley is pricey we found good value at Delicious, and, best of all staying at Le Quartier Français’ little sister meant we breakfasted in the Common Room - quite the most lavish spread of fresh fruits, patisseries and hot treats that I have ever enjoyed. Two hours later we rolled out for a few wine tastings before returning to the cozy Common Room to sample celebratory chef Margot Janse’s small plate skills. Winter ain’t so bad after all!

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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!

Enjoy the site
Erik