Namibia’s alluring diamond-mining ghost town, Kolmanskop
Oct15

Namibia’s alluring diamond-mining ghost town, Kolmanskop

Namibia has a wealth of cultural and natural history and it’s one of the most alluring countries to travel. With its “frozen in time” German colonial towns, uniquely adapted desert wildlife, rich mix of cultures, and its dramatic landscapes, it is nothing like other countries in Africa and offers something entirely unique. There is a lot of evidence of the past in Namibia, from old shipwrecks that have stood stranded where they met their end on the Skeleton Coast; there is ancient rock art left behind by the Bushmen thousands of years ago; and then there are the ghost towns that lie abandoned in the desert sand, decades after the diamond rush was over. All along the southern coast of Namibia, diamond mining settlements started to spring up during the turn of the 20th Century. Back then, the country was colonised by Germany and unfortunately the crimes related to the Scramble for Africa in the early 1900s were not absent from the diamond rush, which was spurred on by the discovery of a diamond in the desert in 1908. Zacharias Lewala, who was working for a German supervisor on a railway near Lüderitz, discovered something glinting in the sand and handed it over for inspection. Upon the confirmation that this “glass” stone was indeed a diamond,  Namibia’s booming diamond industry kicked off. While this industry would go on to sustain the country’s economy for generations, the many mining settlements that cropped up through the desert and along the coast would eventually fizzle out and become “ghost towns”. The most famous mining settlement, which expanded into an eccentric town complete with an ice factory, bowling alley, and a swimming pool and playground for children, thrived for only a short few decades before the diamond rush collapsed. Kolmanskop, today, is a tourist attraction and somewhat of an interactive museum, welcoming Namibian travellers to this tiny, disappearing town in the desert. In 1912, a few years after the first diamonds were found in the area around Lüderitz, Kolmanskop produced a million carats, which was the equivalent of almost 12% of the world’s supply at the time! It was no wonder that with the seemingly endless supply of wealth in the area, miners and prospectors began to settle and the town of Kolmanskop developed. There was so much wealth that rather than existing in the desert on the bare essentials, Kolmanskop grew into a town that serviced the elite and eventually it housed a hospital that was considered to be world class. It was an oasis in the desert! Fresh water was brought in, a butchery and a bakery went up quickly, an ice...

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Client Feedback : Namibia and Victoria Falls
Oct12

Client Feedback : Namibia and Victoria Falls

Liselle has a knack for arranging the ultimate African safari experience. Carefully she crafts the perfect luxury itineraries, ensuring her guests return time and again. She advised her clients to stay at Wolwedans Dunes Lodge in the remarkable Soussusvlei area in Namibia, and the family-run Bayete Guest Lodge in the world-renown Victoria Falls. Liselle combined their Namibia and Victoria Falls with a brief stay at the Belvedere Boutique Hotel in Windhoek. Here is their feedback :  Dear Liselle, Thank you very much for your email and for following up after our journey. We will begin by thanking you for all your hard work and suggestions. We had a wonderful experience in Namibia and Zimbabwe. We are so glad we listened to you and stayed at Wolwedans. The staff was very nice, professional, and paid attention to detail. In the restaurant special thanks go to Beatriz and Tabea for making our evenings pleasant. We would recommend Wolwedans to friends. As a matter of fact, I need to get in touch with Virginia Esposito as she wants to hear about our trip and possibly plan a trip to Namibia. Getting the car rental and driving from Windhoek to the Wolwedans proved that our sense of direction (with the help of GPS) is not that bad. Furthermore, wherever we stopped for refueling and stretch our legs, we found out that locals were very friendly and helpful. The hot air balloon and the view from it was spectacular and well worth getting up early in the morning to see the sunrise We managed to book a Sossusvlei and Deadvlei drive from the Wolwedans, and have to say that the drive and visit to both “valleys” were very impressive Overall, the lodge, with a suitable setting to relaxing and the while life around it (mostly oryks and zebras) made the trip extra special. While in Windhoek, our stay at the Belvedere Boutique Hotel was also pleasant. We liked that it was a small and laid back place but very professional at the same time. Toward the end of our trip, we found out that the Naankuse Lodge which is located between Windhoek and the airport offers day gaming activities. This lodge could also be an alternative to travelers before they begin their 4×4 trip to the dunes As for Zimbabwe, our plain ride was smooth, a representative from Wild Horizons was waiting for us, who transported us to Bayette Lodge. The setting of the Lodge is very pleasant. The rooms were simple but clean. We found out that Victoria Falls was more than the falls, we took a sunset boat ride of the Zambesi river and visited a...

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South Africa joins Brazil and Indonesia as world’s most biodiverse nations
Oct10

South Africa joins Brazil and Indonesia as world’s most biodiverse nations

South Africans, indulge in a moment of national pride: ZA is ranked as the third most biodiverse country in the world! It comes in after Indonesia in second place, and Brazil, which takes the gold medal in the category. The land of biltong, Ouma rusks, the Vuvuzela, and Walkie-Talkies (not the two-way radio kind) is also one of the planet’s megadiverse countries, meaning it has at least 5000 species of endemic plants and borders marine ecosystems. Not only is South Africa considered megadiverse, it is ranked third in the world. Our biologically diverse country is surrounded by two oceans – Atlantic and Indian – and occupies only about 2% of the world’s land area, while it hosts an impressive 10% of the world’s plants, 7% of the reptiles, birds and mammals, and 15% of coastal marine species. While we’re talking numbers, wrap your head around 850 species of birds, and 300 species of mammals occurring across our landscape. We can also boast about our nine different biomes, three of which have been declared global biodiversity hotspots: the Cape Floristic Region, Succulent Karoo, and parts of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany. The Eastern Cape of South Africa is one of the world’s top 10 coral reef hotspots, while the Cape Fold Belt is an important freshwater ecoregion. What animals are endemic to South Africa? A few famous examples of animals endemic to South Africa include the Cape grysbok, bontebok, and riverine rabbit in the mammals category; the Cape sugarbird, Cape parrot and Cape rockjumper for birds; the geometric tortoise and Knysna dwarf chameleon as endemic reptiles; and the Table Mountain ghost frog as one of our endemic amphibians. The list goes on with plenty of insects, invertebrates, fish, and of course endemic plants. Take a look at a more in depth list of unique species and genera in South Africa here. Urgency to protect this unique biodiversity This climb in the ranking to third place comes after the declaration of 20 new Marine Protected Areas in South Africa, which will now protect 90% of the country’s marine habitat species. This, of course, is good news as it is an indication of the steps being taken by government to keep these sensitive and globally significant ecosystems safe from unsustainable overfishing, unethical recreation, and poaching among other things. The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy said: “In terms of government priorities, these ocean parks will not only protect our rich marine biodiversity but will also contribute to the sustainability of our fisheries and our fishing industry – a perfect example of sustainable development, evidence-based policy-making, and a valuable outcome of the Operation Phakisa: Oceans...

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4 Good Reasons to Spend Christmas & New Year on Safari
Oct06

4 Good Reasons to Spend Christmas & New Year on Safari

It’s the time of year when half the population turns to Pinterest for their Christmas decor inspiration and menu planning, while the other half makes a quick U-turn out of the tinsel-strewn shopping mall and scans the web for any last minute flight specials to somewhere remote! We aren’t all cut from the same cloth, and while the bustling shops and festive music might give some people the warm and fuzzies, others start to dream of wide open spaces and silence instead. Sure, family time is the best time, but so are midday gin and tonics by the pool with absolutely nothing being asked of you for at least four hours. We get it; you’re torn between spending a week in near-pyjamas tripping over Christmas lights, and absorbing the African warmth under a big sun hat and a view of elephants parading across the savanna. Here are four good reasons to spend Christmas and New Year on safari. You’re welcome.     All the feasting without the cooking or cleaning Safaris are synonymous with overeating, in the best possible way. There is so much good food going around at every time of year and over the festive season, safari chefs really start churning out the special treatment. From early morning homemade rusks and shortbread, to fluffy frittatas, fresh fruit and mince pies, charcuterie platters and big, hearty flavours across the board, you’re definitely not going hungry. Food is so much a part of feeling nurtured and satisfied, and when you’re on safari – over Christmas time or not – you’re eating home-cooked meals that not only deliver in terms of comfort and flavour, you’re 100% on the receiving end and 0% on the prep! A safari Christmas means you have no kitchen duties assigned to you whatsoever, so forget the devilled eggs and the stewed fruit pudding you’re responsible for this year, and put those feet up! Where? Chinzombo Camp A rather appealing absence of (human) crowds We generally love our own humans, and the festive season allows absent aunts, uncles, and cousins to spend quality time together and lighten the load on parents of tots! But with long overdue family catch ups comes the exponential growth in general human traffic. A quick run for an emergency litre of milk on Boxing Day morning could turn into an hour-long affair with a few thousand people in the same predicament. Long queues of people in dire need of coffee with overtired kids in tow isn’t our idea of morning fun, but what we DO kind of like the sound of is birds. The deep, resonating drum of the ground hornbill enters...

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Rio’s Tijuca National Park: Explore the World’s Largest Urban Forest
Sep24

Rio’s Tijuca National Park: Explore the World’s Largest Urban Forest

Established in 1961, the sprawling Tijuca National Park is – arguably – the world’s largest urban forest. Some might argue that Johannesburg in South Africa is home to the world’s largest man-made wooded area, but it’s actually Rio de Janeiro that takes the title. Granted, Johannesburg is one of the largest forests, but we’re handing the baton to Brazil. The Tijuca Forest carpets 3,953 hectares of reclaimed land that was previously cleared for coal and coffee production. Tijuca is now home to a mosaic of trails, cascading waterfalls, wildlife, viewpoints and famous landmarks (most notably the art deco Christ the Redeemer statue). History of the Tijuca National Park The initial reforestation project on the outskirts of the city actually started in 1861, when water sources became scarce. It was quickly realised that the production of coal and coffee was depleting the city’s water supply. Industry cleared and wiped out the natural rainforest, and the city suffered to consequences. And so the reforestation process began with the replanting of over 100, 000 trees after the arduous task of expropriating land in the interest of the public. The task was long and drawn-out, but much needed. In 1961 the urban rainforest was declared a national park, and has since become a much-visited destination in Rio de Janeiro. General tourist info about Tijuca National Park This urban rainforest inside city limits is an absolute gem to explore, and there are plenty of activities and monuments to visit within the park. The Tijuca Peak and Corcovado mountain where  Christ Redeemer statue is located are two major attractions which should not be missed. Visitors would need, on average, 2 days to explore the park. The park is open from 8am to 18:00, so we recommend you set aside a couple of days for exploration purposes – just bear in mind that summer is the rainy season, so you’ll need to check the weather prior to planning your activities. During the peak season and carnival time it’s recommended that you get an early start to your sightseeing. Things to do in Tijuca National Park There are many different ways to explore the Tijuca National Park, with varying routes. Its many roads allow visiting on foot, bicycle, car and even busses. The fitness fanatics should hike up to the Tijuca Peak. You can either drive right up to the start of the trail, or walk from the park entrance. From the entrance it’s about 5.5 km to the top, with a 2km uphill from the start of the actual trail where the carpark is located. It’s a safe and rewarding trail, offering up exquisite panoramic views...

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Client Feedback : Family Safari to the Delightful Nambu Camp
Sep24

Client Feedback : Family Safari to the Delightful Nambu Camp

Natasha’s clients stayed Nambu Camp in the Balule Nature Reserve, a camp that is fast becoming a favourite among visitors to the area. Personalised attention, fantastic atmosphere and exquisite cuisine are just a few hallmarks of this wonderful lodge in the Kruger. Even if there’s an issue, it’s tended to immediately. It’s all about attention to detail and prioritising guests’ needs, which Nambu excels at doing.  Here is their feedback : Dear Natasha Sorry for late reply, but I have been very busy in the last days… Nambu Camp was great, we have appreciated it a lot We have had only one initial problem with the family of three people because the space in the room was very little and the extra bed extremely uncomfortable (with inflatable mattress). Luckily the manager solved the problem changing their bed with a real one after few hours. In general we really enjoyed our stay, in particular all restaurant staff  and Ranger (Stewart) ,were extremely kind and helpful You can find some picture in attach Thank you very much for your assistance Kind Regards...

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Explore Our Top 4 Hotels in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sep24

Explore Our Top 4 Hotels in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is a bubbling, cosmopolitan city in Argentina brimming with European style and Latin seduction. Buenos Aires is the city of grand palaces, colourful architecture and has an atmosphere that oozes charm and passion. Walk down the cobblestone streets of bustling La Boca and stop to photograph the burst of colour adorning the narrow houses. Meander through the city on foot and watch rhythmic couples showing off their Argentine Tango skills on the street, while you admire the trendy crowds filtering into street cafes. Don’t have too much of an agenda in Argentina’s capital – make time to kick-back with a glass of delectable Argentine wine, while you observe the locals of Buenos Aires. A city swaying with life, sultry Buenos Aires is one of the most unforgettable cities in South America. Before you book your ticket to Buenos Aires, you’ll need to book hotel or guest house accommodation in the city that never sleeps. Dotted with an array of luxury hotels in tourist-hotspots and secluded sectors of the city, Buenos Aires is certainly not short on its offerings when it comes to sophisticated and refined hotels. We figured it was our job to seek out the top 4 hotels in Buenos Aires (each offering something catering for a specific type of traveller) – the hotels that we deem perfect enough for any discerning traveller seeking that Argentinian feel coupled with exclusivity. Four Seasons Hotel The Four Seasons offers unparalleled luxury in the heart of the exclusive Recolata neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. This leading brand is synonymous with style and sophistication; and it’s Argentine hotel in the cosmopolitan capital is certainly no different. Ideal for hotel brand-seekers and lovers of international hotel quality, the Four Seasons is just perfect. Of course, Buenos Aires Four Seasons has a uniquely Argentine twist, evident in its early 20th century architecture. Award winning dining, relaxing bar areas, rejuvenating spa treatment rooms tranquil poolside bliss and classic old-world rooms certainly set the standard in terms of luxury. In total, there are 12 floors in the main hotel with a total of 139 rooms. Alvear Palace Hotel The Alvear Palace Hotel is a grand hotel situated in the stylish Recoleta neighbourhood. Picture gold-leaf design mixed with plush interiors, with hints of French-inspired decor. The public areas are gracious and expansive, and offer exclusive relaxation areas that include indoor swimming pools, solariums, pool bars and even a spa and fitness centre. The Alvear boasts a whopping 192 rooms in total, each decorated in that classic French style. This hotel is fit for royalty, and has played host to a number of celebrities in years gone...

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