Primates to Look-Out for While Gorilla Trekking in Africa
Jul11

Primates to Look-Out for While Gorilla Trekking in Africa

Gangs of chimpanzee eagerly swing from the branches that form a canopy over the lush Kibale National Park, while mountain gorillas knuckle-walk their way through the velvet greens of the jungles in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Both Uganda and Rwanda are sought-after gorilla trekking destinations and – along with Congo – are the only countries where mountain gorillas live freely in the wild. Rwanda and Uganda are premier destinations for gorilla trekking in Africa, but it’s certainly not the only reason why these recently-on-the-map destinations deserve mention ! If you’re drawn to the tropical rainforests of Uganda and Rwanda for its plethora of primates, we urge you to look further than just chimpanzee and gorillas. There are other unique species, even bush babies and that fall into the primate family alongside the monkeys listed below.   The most commonly spotted monkeys are the elegant long-haired black and white colobus monkeys (they look a bit like a rock star). A striking primate found in abundance throughout the forested regions and riparian woodlands of both Uganda and Rwanda. Unlike other primates, these monkeys actually lack thumbs which is where their namesake is derived. “Colobus” is loosely translated to mean “mutilated” in Greek. This particular species of old-world colobus is easily identifiable by its monochromatic colourations and white-tuft tail. While we’re on the topic of colobus monkeys, there’s also the Ugandan red colobus species. A primate with a rust colour cap and black face, the red colobus is known for its jumping and launching capabilities. Their long tails act as a rudder for balance which allows them to move at speeds through the gnarled jungle terrain. Like most monkeys, the colobus forms a vital part of the jungle’s eco-system.  They actually digest plenty of coarse toxic vegetation and naturally disperse seeds across the jungle floor. Most species of colobus monkey provides an easy source of prey for predators, raptors and even chimpanzee. When you’re traipsing through the rainforests, be sure to spot the territorial colobus monkeys – they make for excellent photographic subjects. The endangered golden monkey is a rare species of primate and is also only found in 3 countries (Rwanda, Congo and Uganda). This monkey should definitely on a wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list of primates to spot in Africa. A golden monkey has a face that appears to be covered in tightly woven wool-like fluff, and a body laden with grizzly golden fur that gleams in the light. Their contrasting black limbs and crowns on their heads, give the golden monkey a staggeringly beautiful appearance. Golden monkeys are hard to photograph because they’re so rarely seen and only naturally occur...

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Enter These Famous Running and Cycling Events in Cape Town
Jul10

Enter These Famous Running and Cycling Events in Cape Town

Coastal Cape Town is a premier destination for the adventure lover, thrill seeker and outdoor enthusiast. A buzzing city rests at the foot of the flat-topped Table Mountain, and contrasting suburbs lie scattered across vineyards and coastlines. Every where in Cape Town has some kind of a view. Whether it’s a cliff, beach, mountain in the distance, vineyards or a yacht basin; there’s pretty much something picturesque everywhere you turn. The topography of Cape Town lends itself to numerous sporting activities; which include everything from surfing to trail running, mountain biking, sailing and rock climbing. There are literally hundreds of small sporting events held annually in Cape Town, but it’s impossible to list all of them in on single blog post. We’ve grabbed the most popular running and cycling events in Cape Town that are worthy of being added to the energetic crowd’s “bucket list” of global sporting events to enter. Grab the lycra shorts, tie the laces, clip in your cleats or tie shoelaces and come to Cape Town for these famous running and cycling events! Cape Town Cycle Tour The Argus Cycle tour is – arguably – the most famous cycling road race in the southern hemisphere. It’s also the world’s longest timed cycle tour, making it a must conquer sporting event for budding cyclists. Annually, Cape Town sees an influx of thousands of tourists taking to the roads to complete this event. The (usually) 109 km route starts in the centre of Cape Town (Grand Parade Precinct area) and winds its way around the peninsula, finishing in the Green Point/Waterfront area. Hard-working riders are treated with hard hill climbs, downhill freewheeling on roads hugging the cliff faces and exquisite seaside areas in flat easy-cycle areas. It’s one of the world’s most scenic cycle races and is incredibly well-supported by locals. Roads are lined with supporters playing music, dancing and encouraging cyclists – the cycle tour is nothing short of a massively festive event. Where to Stay : It’s an early start and the city centre can become congested. You don’t want to spend too much time on the road getting to the start point. We recommend you stay in the centre of Cape Town or within the VA Waterfront area. Our hotel recommendation : Townhouse hotel is an affordable hotel, literally located within walking distance of the start of the tour. For more elite hotels stay on the town side of the VA Waterfront at either the Westin Grand or the Southern Sun Hotel. For slightly further afield, but “across the road” we recommend the five star Cape Grace Hotel or premier Silo Hotel.  Enter the...

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Mountain cottages in South Africa for the eternal city escapee
Jul08

Mountain cottages in South Africa for the eternal city escapee

Take me to the mountains! The mountains where forests and flowers, blankets of mist and waterfalls culminate to create something we can only describe as mystical, dream-like, and deeply restorative. South Africans flock to the mountains to bird-watch (see what we did there), to hike or bike the trails, to clamber over sun-bleached rocks and marvel at ancient artwork left behind in the caves. There are so many reasons to want to escape the big cities and run for the hills where noise pollution falls away, neighbours are nonexistent, and days start with the sunrise and not an alarm clock. South Africa is self-drive country, and many adventurous tourists take to the roads to see more of the unique and diverse landscape. Here, we’ve listed three (from many) different mountainous regions across the country and picked our favourite mountain cottages and cabins for restoration and relaxation. Hogsback This little town is located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, about an hour and a half’s drive inland from the coast and at about 1300 metres above sea level. It has some of the country’s last remaining Afromontane forest, it is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise, and you’ll certainly find yourself among artists and craft brews, and even fairies if you let your imagination run wild. Bird watchers will delight in the presence of the rare Cape parrot, and wonderful sightings of the bright green, crested Knysna turaco among many others. It can snow in winter, turning the magnificent gardens white and the waterfalls to ice. This is a retreat for fresh air, adventure, imagination, and creativity. The Edge Mountain Retreat is located high up on the Hogsback mountain ridge, at eye level with the top of the cliffs and overlooking a gorge. Aptly named, The Edge, offers a variety of self-catering accommodations in the form of garden cottages and thatched Rondavel-shaped chalets with immense views. Some even have outdoor bath tubs and showers that bring a whole new element to the act of bathing! The gardens are a fantastic mixture of wild, untamed, wilderness, and beautifully nurtured rose beds. The cottages are furnished with simple, comfortable items that provide everything you need and nothing you don’t. They are warm and inviting in the winter with feather down duvets and fire places, and all have either gorgeous garden surroundings or breath-taking views off the mountain. Choose to spend all day on “the edge” and explore the incredible Labyrinth, which at 91 metres in circumference, is one of the largest in the world. Or, amble down to Hogsback village to eat, drink, and be merry! Drakensberg The grand and magnificent mountain...

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4 Gorilla Trekking Lodges in Uganda
Jul04

4 Gorilla Trekking Lodges in Uganda

The endangered mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park bear a striking resemblance to us humans. There’s nothing more humbling than getting up close and personal with these dark-furred primates in their natural habitat within the ancient montane forests of Bwindi. The tropical and verdant vegetation of Bwindi carpets a dormant volcano, which gives rise to a topography of deep mist-filled valleys and lofty hills. This remarkable jungle kingdom is home to the famous mountain gorillas, colourful birdlife, rare forest elephants and a range of reptiles. But the most prominent species in the area is the primate. Between the gnarled vines and lush ferns, there dwells a variety of primates that include the black-and-white colobus monkey, Ugandan red colobus monkey, blue monkey and golden monkey; to name a few.  There are plenty of gorilla trekking lodges in Uganda tucked away in the cool valleys surrounding the Bwindi. Some of these lodges are a short 5 minute walk from the briefing point for gorilla trekking and others boast panoramic almost-aerial views of the terrain. There are lodges that are rustic, and some offer more of a luxury experience. What they all have in common is that they serve as the base for guided gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda’s Bwindi Forest. It’s up to you to choose your hideaway, but where do you start when selecting your gorilla trekking lodge in Uganda? You need to consider a number of factors, with the most important factor being whether you are an early riser or not! The morning treks start early, so if you’re not an early morning person then please book a lodge close to the starting point of the trek. Choosing your base at Bwindi really is down to personal preference. Gorilla Safari Lodge Gorilla Safari Lodge is located a 5 – 8 minute walk from the briefing point for gorilla trekking, making it a sought after lodge in the area. Banana and guava trees cocoon the 18 bedroomed lodge, and in the distance there are views of the forest jungle below. Winding paths and intricate walkways join the rooms, lined by bright green vegetation and colourful flowers. It’s a simple lodge with enough luxury to keep you happy, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Each chalet has its own private balcony offer perfect viewing points of the bold surrounds. After an arduous day of trekking, guests can return to their chalets and relax in the deep set bath. The main area of the lodge has a relaxation lounge, dining area and small bar. During your stay you’ll be introduced to local fare and great Ugandan coffee !  There are plenty...

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Indian Ocean to Okavango Delta with Machaba Safaris
Jun30

Indian Ocean to Okavango Delta with Machaba Safaris

Machaba Safaris is known for its fresh, understated classic safari camps in sought after pockets of wildlife paradise in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Camps are simple and sophisticated, and transport discerning guests straight back to the classic 50s safari era, where it was all about immersing yourself in graceful design and style. Machaba’s Okavango Delta camps offer a combination of land and water safari options, with each camp located on the banks of the placid waterways and river systems. The depths of the Delta waters framed by date palms and fringed by reeds, provide the perfect tropical riverfront scenes. Visitors flock to the Okavango Delta for wildlife and landscapes, but Machaba noticed a trend with these eager safari seekers – the desire to combine a pristine water-safari with an idyllic beach holiday. With that, Machaba’s Delta and Ocean idea was born. Machaba Safaris latest offering is their beach and safari combo called “Machaba Blue Safari”, a 15 day journey from Maun in Botswana to Mahe in the Seychelles. The itinerary is :  3 Nights at Machaba Camp in the Khwai region of the Okavango Delta 3 Nights Gomoti Plains Camp situated on the edge of the Gomoti River System 1 Night at the Intercontinental OR Tambo (lay over) 1 Night Eden Bleu Hotel in Mahe, Seychelles 7 Nights Alphonse Island at the Alphonse Group, Seychelles   Machaba Camp in Khwai Machaba Camp is a 50s style camp designed to exude an atmosphere of “vintage explorer”. A few collectables adorn the main area and decor is designed to reflect a safari style from bygone era. It’s fresh simplicity combined with elegant sophistication, and plenty of added value extras, ensures an ultra-luxurious stay. The location speaks for itself. Situated under a canopy of trees along the banks of the much-loved Khwai River in the Okavango Delta, lies 10 luxury tents and a main lounge/dining area leading out into a boma. The pool is situated in an enclave surrounded by greenery overlooking the hippo-filled waters of Khwai. Each tent features an en suite bathroom, living area and a typical safari-style outdoor shower. Guests can expect guided bush walks through the riverine vegetation and surrounding emerald landscapes. Game drives lead to all sorts of noteworthy sightings. It’s certainly not uncommon to spot leopard and wild dog in these parts. The most popular wildlife to spot is hippos and elephants; often seen from the swimming pool and open areas of camp. Of course, there are all the frills and spills that come with staying at an ultra-luxurious safari camp. These include sundowner sessions, boma campfires and al fresco dining under the Botswana sky. Machaba Camp...

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The best of South America: top traveller attractions, by region
Jun28

The best of South America: top traveller attractions, by region

South America is a continent simultaneously erupting with ancient history and vibrant, modern culture. It flows from the frosty peaks of the Andes Mountains, to desert landscapes that look like the surface of the moon. It has a vast tropical jungle basin, Caribbean shores, wine country, bohemian port towns, and exotic wildlife. With so much to offer, the biggest question of all is where to begin? It is easiest to break South America down into its four portions, each offering something iconic and different. There’s SO much to choose from and we recommend getting in touch with Liselle, our South America expert, to ask questions about the continent and what will best suit you. Below are some of our top traveller attractions, by region. The North Coast On the Caribbean coastline is the North Coast and the northernmost reaches of the rainforest, where you’ll find Colombia and Venezuela, palm-fringed beaches, the hard evidence of European colonisation and residual African settlements that stem back to the days of slavery. Lifestyles seem lackadaisical, colours are vibrant, history is everywhere, and nature is close by.   Museo del Oro, Bogotá, Colombia: The home of Colombia’s gold heritage. The museum is a testament to the country’s metalwork expertise of the old days when gold was extracted from the earth, reworked into figurines and jewellery and then buried as a gift to the Earth. While much of the south was plundered for gold treasure, Colombia was overlooked for many years and managed to retain its treasures for longer. Today, what remains – some 36 000 pieces – is on display in Museo del Oro where it is guarded by the bank. A truly exquisite exhibition. The Caribbean Coast, Santa Marta, Colombia: This city is the gateway to the northern attractions, including the tropical, sensual coast and El Rodadero beach. Stroll the popular promenade, sit at pavement restaurants and watch the comings and goings of locals and tourists alike. Salsa dancing is present everywhere you look – a part of the culture. Visit the Cathedral Basilicá, which is built on the ground where the oldest Catholic cathedral in Colombia used to stand after it was founded in 1951. Tairona National Park is easily accessed from Santa Marta and is popular because of its sparsely populated, white, sandy beaches and tropical jungle, which spans out below the jagged Sierra Nevada mountains. The Southern Cone The Southern Cone is the name given to the part of South America that has the most European influence and is most frequently travelled. This is where you’ll find Patagonia and its mountainous hiking routes and windswept shores. Chile – wedged between the Pacific Ocean...

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Light and luxurious new look for affordable Zambia safari lodge
Jun19

Light and luxurious new look for affordable Zambia safari lodge

Kafunta River Lodge, one of our most loved South Luangwa safari accommodations, recently received a fresh lick of paint and opened up its living spaces to invite even more of the view right in. The new image is all we look for in a comfortable, soothing safari environment, and given its prime position overlooking the open floodplains, you won’t miss a thing in terms of lodge-based wildlife viewing opportunities! Pick a place to relax, whether it be on your private deck or with friends around the pool, and absorb the wilderness around you. Location South Luangwa is Zambia’s flagship national park, famous for hippos basking on the banks of the Luangwa River, leopards stalking through the dappled shade of riverine trees, begrudgingly sharing their territory with lions – the true kings of the jungle –  while every member of the wild kingdom gives way to the elephants, which naturally dominate the landscape. The park draws visitors from far and wide, and offers up-close encounters with wildlife in the form of game drives and walking safaris, and during the peak season, it can get very busy. Kafunta River Lodge enjoys its own piece of heavenly shade on the floodplain of the Luangwa River away from the bustling Mfuwe area of the park, and has a private pontoon which offers unrivalled access across the river and into national park territory where game drives are conducted. Rooms It is intimate with only 10 rooms – 8 standard safari chalets and 2 luxury suites – all with sublime positioning along the floodplain and enjoying private viewing decks, comfort, and quiet solitude. The chalets have king or twin beds, an ensuite bathroom, private verandah, minibar fridge, and a ceiling fan. They have new floors and new furnishings, and the bathrooms were upgraded as part of the soft make-over. The two suites can be made up to accommodate four people by converting the upstairs alcove (which would ordinarily serve as an exclusive lounge with a view for suite occupants) into a loft bedroom for two additional beds. The thatched suites enjoy added privacy as they are set further away from the main lodge area; plus, they each have a stand-alone bath tub and both an upstairs and ground-level viewing deck. Lodge The spacious main guest area is sprawled out under the dappled shade and a large deck area accommodates space for various lounges, both out in the open and under thatch. There is an extended deck that perches out over the floodplain, which makes for the perfect starlit dining experiences; there is a circular sunken lounge that surrounds a convivial fire place; and there is...

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