Phinda Homestead is the sole-use bush villa of your safari dreams
Dec11

Phinda Homestead is the sole-use bush villa of your safari dreams

When Phinda Homestead was damaged in a fire in December 2016, it closed for renovations and has emerged more alluring than ever before. Each of the six luxury lodges on Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal is imaginatively curated, indulgent, intricately detailed, yet soft and comforting in its beautiful natural environment. It could only have been expected that after the fire, Homestead – Phinda’s sole-use luxury villa – would rise like a phoenix and leave us all agog at the next level luxury and well thought-out features that now characterise this exclusive safari destination. There are four bedrooms making it just right for families or a small group of friends looking to get away into pristine wilderness with no one but themselves and the lodge’s elite team of staff making sure everything you need or want is not more than an arm’s length away. The extensive use of glass in the form of large sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling windows ensures that everything you’ve come to see outside is represented indoors. Being able to watch the birds from your bath tub is certainly an elevating experience, and to see and feel organic textures indoors is grounding and connective. In each bedroom, the use of wood, bamboo, and Swazi grass come together to set a natural tone to each room. A floating headboard, highly textured scatter cushions and curtains, giant glass lampshades, and local Nguni hides tie the elements of these bedrooms together in perfect harmony. Raw timber has been treated only so slightly as to smooth the edges and refine the look, but the evidence of its previous life is represented in its wrinkles and lines which decorate its surface. The dining table is an enormous slab of pale wood, patterned with natural grain and celebrated as the centrepiece of every meal. It glows gently under a handful of large, hanging basket lights which hover above it, and it matches the incredible double sliding doors, which themselves are singular slabs of the same wood extending from ceiling to floor. Behind them: the interactive kitchen with edgy cork bar stools lined up along the preparation counter to invite company into the cooking area.  The ceilings throughout the lodge pulls in organic material once again: bamboo poles laid side by side cover the ceiling above your head. The dining chars and carpet bring a traditional shade of ochre to the scene, which is cut with a pale stone hue of the painted brick walls. The Homestead’s living spaces are about togetherness and community, bringing together the family in comfort and style that matches the mix of Zulu celebration and identity with...

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Contrasts of Chile: desert, pumas, art and architecture
Dec11

Contrasts of Chile: desert, pumas, art and architecture

Chile is a country of contrasting extremes, wedged along the Pacific Coast along a world-famous mountain range with a lunar-landscape desert in the north, and icy peaks and pumas in the south.  In between, a cultural hubbub of colourful street art, powerful poetry, ancient architecture, and award-winning wineries. From rural cowboys riding untamed horses, to glaciers iced into jagged mountains, Chile’s wild side is exciting and full of adventure, while its cities are a combination of modern-day chaos and moments frozen in time. On this 12-night trip, we discover the contrasts of Chile and make sure we cover the bases to ensure one unforgettable experience of this rich and rugged South American territory. We’re going from the northern Atacama Desert and to southern alpine Patagonia to experience the adventure, all tied together with the bohemian street art experience of Valparaiso and the combined historic and modern-day bustle of capital city, Santiago. The trip offers the perfect blend of outdoor excursions, adrenalin and adventure activities in the arid desert and the alpine lake region of icy Patagonia, broken up by enriching city tours that portray the colourful cultural history of the Chilean people. Luxurious accommodation and gastronomy at Relais & Chateaux hotels in Atacama and Patagonia bring indulgence and comfort to the experience. Valparaiso An old, eclectic port town surrounded by 17 tall hills is a colourful, bohemian part of Chile that celebrates the arts. Valparaiso was once the home of famous Chilean poet and writer, Pablo Neruda. It is bustling, cluttered, vibrant, and somewhat neglected, so it has immense character and is best explored on foot along the many old pathways, or on the ancient bus routes through town.  The towering hills surrounding the port are full of colourful houses and facades built into the cliffs overlooking the bay. The town is lathered in interesting street art that covers everything from walls to staircases, buses, rooftops, and the many old funiculars that journey up and down the hillside, transporting people to the top and down again. These “elevator trams” date back to the 1800s when they used to be run on coal and are a fascinating and integral part of the Valparaiso experience.  Visit Caleta Portales – the traditional fishing village of Valparaiso – to eat and enjoy local fare or watch the fishing boats come in first thing in the morning and purchase daily catch off the boat. Also visit Cerro Alegre – a mythical mountain and cultural capital of Valparaiso – reach it via a funicular and arrive to see locals and tourists alike contributing to artwork, making music and poetry in the streets. Atacama Desert The driest...

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3 Facts About the Prehistoric Crocodile
Dec06

3 Facts About the Prehistoric Crocodile

The prehistoric looking Nile crocodile is sneaky predator that uses the art of surprise to ambush its unsuspecting victims. It’s a ruthless and opportunistic predator that has no particular preference for prey – the ultimate “generalists”. The most popular source of prey is fish, found in abundance in the rivers of the Lowveld. Crocodiles are silent and deadly apex predators, and their docile behaviour is not to be taken lightly. They can move those bulky bodies fairly swiftly. Don’t stand too close to rivers and waterholes, you don’t know what lurks beneath! Crocodile Feet : This ectothermic reptile has a body that’s adapted to both land and water. Its feet are both webbed and clawed. The claws are on the front legs and used for digging and clambering about on land. The back feet are webbed which aids the swimming and gliding movements in water. Born Sexless : Hatchlings aren’t born with a particular sex. Their sex is determined by the soil temperature where they are incubated, with high temperatures producing males. Crocodiles have been known to reach the ripe old age of 100 – we’re not surprised they survived through the Mesozoic period of time when dinosaurs were in existence. These robust animals have outlived dinosaurs and have been around for over 200 million years. Their bodies have evolved somewhat, but they still have that unmistakeable prehistoric appearance. Crocodiles are Nocturnal : Crocs have eyes adapted to the dark, which means they have excellent night vision. The use the cover of darkness to hunt, but will relish any opportunity to snag prey during the daylight hours. Impala lambs bumbling on the water’s edge, calves splashing about in the shallows and herbivores coming to drink stand little to no chance against this primary predator. You’ve been warned – watch where you stand !        ...

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Kruger Safari Lodges for Corporate Groups
Dec06

Kruger Safari Lodges for Corporate Groups

The Greater Kruger is scattered with a plethora of intimate lodges, many of which only cater for a handful of guests at a time. These camps often a personalised and intimate safari experience in South Africa’s expansive Lowveld region, but leave little room for large corporate groups in need of something a little different when it comes to their bland annual budget meetings or compulsory conferences. There are lodges that cater for corporates while combining a typical luxury safari experience complete with game drives, bush breakfasts, and sundowners. Going on safari for your work function or formal conference is one way to ensure you combine fun and work. And there is nothing healthier that work life balance! Here are 3 Kruger safari lodges for corporate groups :  &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge : Sleeps 42 The charming and classic &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge is located in the Kruger National Park on a private sect of land. Surrounded by canopies of mopane and tamboti trees, this lodge is nothing short of an elegant hideaway shrouded in natural vegetation. Lantern lined pathways wind their way down to manicured lawns, a busy waterhole attracting herds of elephants sits neatly on the doorstep of Ngala, and a sparkling pool provides much needed respite from the heat. Don’t be surprised to see elephants approaching the pool area! Boughs of trees surrounded the boma dining area, which is the ideal space to connect with work colleagues. A roaring campfire provides a relaxed atmosphere in the boma, and is certainly a place where memories and made and stories shared. To destress, we recommend you book a spa treatment or hit the gym. 17 air-conditioned cottages, 3 family cottages and 1 private family suite; and outdoor and indoor showers. The family suites have their own private plunge pools and the bathrooms with a view are definitely a highlight! We recommend Ngala for a company getaway. It oozes colonial elegance and certainly sets the standard in terms of luxury safari lodges.  There isn’t a conference room, so it would be more of a relaxed company getaway with small group meetings which could be held in outdoor areas or in the courtyard – provided you booked out the whole lodge. Kapama River Lodge : Sleeps 40 Kapama River Lodge is a modern lodge tucked away in Kapama Private Game Reserve, and boasts plenty of open spaces with African inspired decor peppered throughout the lodge. Kapama has cleverly designed this lodge to reflect both modern hotel living and the wild African bushveld. A perfect balance between city life and bush life; and an ideal destination for corporates. River Lodge is a...

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Kenya Airways to Fly Direct from Nairobi to New York
Dec05

Kenya Airways to Fly Direct from Nairobi to New York

Kenya is a popular safari destination for international visitors. The country is home to vast savanna landscapes rich with wildlife and laden with national parks. The annual wildebeest migration is arguably the main reason why visitors flock to the Masai region. The humble people of Kenya, the famous Masai warriors, the exquisite coffee and cuisine; and the rustic tropical coastline of Kenya are all reasons why Kenya has become an iconic destination. Kenya has certainly earned its reputation as being the jewel of Africa! Kenya Airways is the country’s major airline, and is affectionately known as the “Pride of Africa”. Kenya airlines was limited to a number of routes, serving mainly direct routes from Kenya to neighbouring countries in Africa and its Indian Ocean islands. The majority of international routes went via major airports such as Johannesburg. Because of the influx of US tourists to Kenya the airline launched a direct, non-stop route from Nairobi to New York. The maiden voyage happened on Sunday 28th October and we trust this popular route will ensure easier accessibility to East Africa. This is actually the first direct route from East Africa to the US. There will be 6 flights per week, and the flight time is roughly 14 hours. Nairobi (NBO) 10:25pm Departure –  New York (JFK) 6:25am New York (JFK) 12:25pm Departure –  Nairobi (NBO) 9:55am The carrier is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with a carrying capacity of 234.  The direct flight is the perfect way to cater for Kenya’s high-end tourism sector, making the...

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3 Luxury Beach Hideaways on the West Coast of Cape Town
Dec05

3 Luxury Beach Hideaways on the West Coast of Cape Town

The West Coast of Cape Town is a rugged stretch of coast extending from Bloubergstrand all the way through to Lambert’s Bay. This charming coastline is lined with small fishing villages that are quintessential “Cape”. Dotted between villages there are fynbos covered sand dunes and endless stretches of barren land. The West Coast  National Park forms part of the region and a wealth of plains game call the reserve their home. It’s the place to see the wild flowers in bloom during spring time; and the many bays, lagoons and wild beaches are also a major drawcard for road trippers from Cape Town. The 270 km coastal stretch of the West Coast is full of heritage and colour; and remains relatively unspoilt. This is the place to discover derelict wooden fishing boats, ancient whitewashed fishing cottages, the history of the strandlopers, stretches of pristine beaches, rolling breakers, brazen sunsets, and perfectly cooked seafood.  We’ve scoured the coast for handful of coastal gems, and have found 3 luxury beach hideaways on the West Coast of Cape Town. The Oystercatchers’ Haven in Paternoster  Paternoster is an old fishing town that is now popular with tourists. The ancient fishing village still remains a charming seaside village, but now buzzes with activity during the summer months. The village hugs the long stretch of beach, and is home to a few top-notch restaurants and guest houses. The old fishing houses and new guest houses are washed in white, to keep that West Coast feel. Watch the trawlers come in, walk on the beach, swim, or hike to the lighthouse – the choice is yours! Our choice of accommodation in Paternoster is the Oystercatchers’ Haven. This is a 4 star graded property located in a peaceful area, and offers sweeping views of the surrounding coastline. Rooms have all been designed to take advantage of the sea view, and each comes with a private patio. This establishment injects style into simple beachside living and the elegant decor complements the serene surrounds. Antique pieces ensure there’s a sense of history and refinement to the guest house. It’s a hop down to the beach and the perfect place to wake-up to the sound of the ocean and smell of the salty sea air. There are 2 luxury Queen rooms, 1 Twin room, 1 Luxury Suite and a Honeymoon suite complete with a private lounge area. Rooms come complete with complimentary WiFi, satellite TV, mini bar, electronic safe and walk-in showers. Cocoon yourself in the 500 thread count percale linen at night, and envelope yourself in the magic of the seaside atmosphere during the day. The Farmhouse Hotel in Langebaan...

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Relationship Between Wildlife and Trees in the Greater Kruger
Dec05

Relationship Between Wildlife and Trees in the Greater Kruger

The Kruger savannah comprises scrubveld, sweet grasses and mixed woodlands that, together with our wildlife, makes up a fascinating biome. The diverse habitat is home to an array of small mammals, giant herbivores, rodents, big game, predators, and birds. Many of these species share a special relationship with the indigenous flora of the area, proof that the delicate eco-system works is a well-oiled harmonious machine. Today we look at a few dependent relationships between trees and wildlife in the Greater Kruger; and pair trees to species. The next time you’re observing wildlife congregated around a specific type of tree, ask your if there is some sort of mutualism between tree and animal. Let’s talk about the relationship between wildlife and trees in the Greater Kruger.  Mopane and Elephants The mopane tree is covered in flat leaves that are high in protein. This is a herbivores’ favourite nutritious snack and the majority of plains game consume vast quantities of the leaves. Although high in tannins, mopane is actually a favourite meal of elephants. Pachyderms will digest vast amounts of the leaves and  bark during the rainy season when the tannins decrease, and the leaves become more palatable. The butterfly shaped leaf of the mopane is believed to relieve a number of digestive ailments if you make tea from the leaves. Jackal-berry and Jackals The omnivorous and fruit loving black-backed jackal is a connoisseur of the jackal-berry fruit, and tends to devour excessive quantities of the fallen grape-shaped fruit from this tree. The trees are impressive in size and provide massive shady canopies over areas. The tree is also known as the ebony tree because of its dark bark speckled with white patches. The ripened fruit can be used in a variety of condiments, and for brewing beer and brandy. Acacia and Giraffe Giraffe have a very special relationship with acacia trees, and in particular the knob thorn acacia. Giraffe are the mammal pollinators of the knob thorn, an unusual role for an animal. When the knob thorn produces flowers, giraffe devour the small flowers in a gluttonous  feast. The pollen from the flowers attaches to the giraffe’s hide and as they journey along, the pollen is deposited. Fever trees have pods which provide sustenance to an array of herbivores, including the giraffe. Interestingly enough, acacia trees “talk”. When giraffe feed excessively on one tree in produces an excess of tannins, in conjunction with other chemicals released that warns other trees in the area. Leadwood and Vultures The wood from the leadwood tree is incredibly heavy and can actually sink in large bodies of water. It remains standing long after the tree has died...

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