The mountains are calling! Our two favourite Magoebaskloof getaways
Dec18

The mountains are calling! Our two favourite Magoebaskloof getaways

Magoebaskloof (meaning Magoeba’s Valley) is a pocket of lush, afro-montane greenery full of indigenous plants and wildlife in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. It is the very northern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range and is known as the Land of the Silver Mist for its famous blanket of cloud that envelopes the peaks and valleys. Samango and vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, bush pigs, porcupine and bush buck are some of the larger mammals found dwelling in the forest, and let us not get started on the birds! If you’re a keen birder, Magoebaskloof is one of the best spots for forest birding in the country, and its proximity to the Kruger National Park makes it a convenient addition to a classic safari experience in the Lowveld. About 1.5 hours’ drive west of the Kruger’s Phalaborwa Gate you’ll find yourself in the country’s “fruit bowl” having driven along an undulating road that progresses from acacia thornveld and mopane to the green slopes of the Wolkberg. This is where fertile soils produce the best avocados in the world, along with blueberries, macadamia nuts, bananas, litchis, and mangos. Magoebaskloof pass winds its way out of the “bowl” and into the higher slopes where some of the rare indigenous forest remains. Here, beneath the silver mist, the water is crystal clear, rocks are laden with moss, and big, old trees are entangled with vines. The forest floor is a patchwork of sunlight and shade, and there is peace in the air. There are hiking trails winding up and down and throughout the lush mountain slopes, and there are waterfalls and pools of fresh water sprouting along many of them. Mountain bikers will find themselves a challenge in Magoebaskloof, where an annual event sees fit riders gather to take on the mountain trails.  Visitors can fish in nearby dams and lakes, while birdwatching can take place from the comfort of your very own mountain cottage veranda. There is the diminutive village of Hanaertsberg nearby where a handful of good, honest restaurants serve up the mountain’s finest grub, and there is Limpopo’s famous Zwakala brewery nestled off the beaten track. Folks travel from far and wide to enjoy the unique energy of this local brew house, so make sure you pop this item on your Magoebaskloof agenda! Now that you know what’s on offer in the glorious Magoebaskloof mountains, allow us to let you in on our two favourite places to stay. Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages Situated at the end of a winding dirt road in the indigenous forest, Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages feel like a hidden secret. There are three little cottages – Robin (a six-sleeper),...

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Client Feedback : A Journey to Cape Town – Kruger – Vic Falls – Botswana
Dec08

Client Feedback : A Journey to Cape Town – Kruger – Vic Falls – Botswana

Liselle arranged an epic journey for her guests to southern Africa. The fresh and breezy shores of Cape Town were a must on the itinerary, as was the prime game viewing region of Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. Of course, it just wouldn’t be a safari experience without a brief sojourn to the Greater Kruger in South Africa and the “land of giants” in Botswana’s Chobe National Park. The itinerary also included time at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.  Liselle’s carefully curated itinerary offered her guests the best of each region – and they weren’t disappointed. Liselle selected Cloud 9 Boutique Hotel in Cape Town, Nsala Safari Camp in the Greater Kruger, Camp Moremi in the Moremi National Park, Camp Okavango in Okavango Delta, Savute Safari Lodge in Chobe National Park and Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls.  Here is Liselle’s client’s feedback:  Hi Liselle, We are back home after the best vacation ever! We were so pleased with all the accommodations and the transfer arrangements you made.  We commented repeatedly how you thought about everything.  The safaris were fabulous, saw everything except for the rhinos.  Camp Nsala was the most rustic of all the camps but we were pampered by the staff and we loved our guide there.  It was our first safari so didn’t realize it was rustic until we went onto the rest of the camps which were more luxurious! Intercontinental was a welcome site between SA and Botswana- it was very nice and the air conditioning was particularly fabulous. Victoria Falls was a bit dry but we were glad we went.  Ilala hotel was lovely and the shopping in Zimbabwe was the best.  I bought a beautiful drawing of an Ethiopian tribal girl by a local artist. We will be passing on your name to our friends and we will likely be back so thank you for your excellent service and hope to connect again in the future! Grace...

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Where to Stay in Buenos Aires
Dec08

Where to Stay in Buenos Aires

Argentina’s creative and sexy capital, Buenos Aires, is a unique mix of modern western European culture woven into Latin American culture. Buenos Aires is a modern city oozing a chic but intense atmosphere, and an absolute fusion of cultures which means a fantastic foodie, arts and culture scene. Gritty graffiti lined streets with traditional colourful buildings lie in great contrasts to cutting edge architecture. From trendy, to hipster and chic; Buenos Aires has something for everyone in each region. Some neighbourhoods are loved for the elite lifestyle and others for their character and artistic vibrancy.  The main areas to stay in Buenos Aires are : Palermo : This is the biggest neighbourhood in the city and offers a mix of residential spaces, modern buildings and a thriving gastronomic scene. Its a “cool” neighbourhood and ideal for foodies. Recoleta : A chic and upscale area ideal for the elite and discerning traveler. Think high end galleries, boutique shopping places and relaxed cafes. La Boca : The bohemian neighbourhood of La Boca is a tourist destination known for its colourful buildings and street side tango. Located next to the Riachuelo River, this artistic area offers a wealth of offbeat attractions. Centro : El Centro is the central area of Buenos Aires and is divided into smaller neighbourhoods. The central location means that accommodation is never far from a major transport route or sought after attraction. Here are our top choice of hotel, making it easier to figure out where to stay in Buenos Aires. Park Tower in Centro The seductive Park Tower Hotel is a luxury collection hotel forming part of the world-renown Marriott Group. This is an exquisite hotel located in the buzzing centre of Buenos Aires and offers a vibrant place to stay. There are a range of different room types, each catering for a different style of traveller. Suites are grand with gold finishes and deluxe rooms offer extraordinary views of the city below that is only reserved for the birds. The lobby is dripping with 18th century oil paintings, ornate furniture and grand pianos. A highlight of staying at the Park Tower is the dining experience. The St. Regis restaurant is an exquisite mix of international flavours using local fare. Do try the Patagonia trout and crispy octopus. Hotel Madero in Puerto Madero Close to La Boca Luscious La Boca is brimming with local life and soul. Rooftop cafes, tango in the streets and riverside strolls are the order of the day in La Boca. Colourful shabby chic buildings, art vendors and buskers fill the crisscross of streets the La Boca neighbourhood. Even if you don’t stay...

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5 Tours and Activities in Nairobi
Dec07

5 Tours and Activities in Nairobi

These are 5 tours and activities in Nairobi worth doing if you’re based in the country’s capital for a brief period of time. It’s not always possible to explore the vast wildlife-rich areas of Kenya and its reserves if you’re just in Nairobi for a city break, but the Nairobi National Park more than makes up for the lack of time you have in Kenya. And Nairobi also happens to be quite an interesting – and chaotic – city to explore. Here is our choice of tours and activities in Nairobi. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) : Elephant Orphanage Fondly referred to as “Nairobi’s Nursery”, the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage is a safe-place and sanctuary for orphaned elephants rescued by the trust. Most of these calves have lost their mothers and matriarchs to poaching; and some to natural causes.  The elephant nursery is located in Nairobi National Park and provides the first stage in the hand-rearing of young elephant calves. When the youngsters have graduated from the nursery phase they are moved to Tsavo East National Park where they will be reintegrated into the wild after years of proper rehabilitation. Visitors are welcome to visit during the milk feed and mud bath time of day, which normally only last for about 1 during midday. During your visit the passionate keepers and conservationists will give a bit of background about the trust, and the heartbreaking stories behind the orphaned pachyderms. Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick founded the trust in 1977 in honour of her wildlife loving husband who passed away in the same year. Her and her husband – David – rehabilitated a number of species needing a helping hand. Although world-renown for their protection and passion for elephants, their operation is not only limited to elephants. The Sheldrick family and foundation is also involved in anti-poaching, environmental protection and assistance to injured/sick animals. Find out more here : The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Giraffe Manor : Breakfast with the Rothschild Giraffes Giraffe Manor is luxury boutique hotel set on exquisite, cascading lawns. Surrounded by a flourishing indigenous forest in the heart of one of Nairobi’s suburbs, the Giraffe Manor hideaway is one of the most appealing destinations in the capital. Its major drawcard? There is a huge herd of resident giraffe that visit the grounds every morning and evening, without fail. They are creatures of habit and routine, and return to the hotel in the hopes of getting fed a treat from the hotel’s guests. The giraffe often poke their long, gangly necks through the expansive windows of the restaurant and demand a portion of your meal. The stately hotel...

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6 Weird and Terrifying Creatures of the Amazon River
Dec06

6 Weird and Terrifying Creatures of the Amazon River

The unexplored waters of the mighty Amazon River provide the perfect habitat for a wealth of species. Beneath the  surface of this mysterious sediment heavy river is a murky underworld home to a few weird and terrifying creatures. The Amazon Basin is a raw and primitive place, with a unique biome. Visiting the Amazon is a coveted dream for many nature lovers, but a few of its inhabitants are enough to turn coveted dreams into freakish nightmares. These are our 6 weird and terrifying creatures of the Amazon River – there are still plenty more lurking in the shadows, but we don’t want to freak you out by listing them all in one blog post!  Vampire Fish : Saber-tooth monsters The vampire fish (also known as payara fish) is a ferocious hunter that certainly doesn’t back away from a fight. Armed with massive bottom fangs and razor sharp teeth, this evil looking fish is a common resident of the Amazon Basin.  The vampire fish swims with the current and is also a fan of tumultuous, churning waters. Rapids and waterfalls are common places for the vampire fish to congregate. This scary looking fish has a bad reputation because of its ominous teeth, but they generally aren’t predatory towards humans. Their favourite meal is the piranha ! Our advice? Just try to avoid the vampire fish. Arapaima : One of the world’s largest freshwater fish The colossal Arapaima is one of the world’s largest freshwater fish and can reach remarkable lengths of up to 2m, earning it a reputation as being one of the beasts of the Amazon Basin. Unfortunately, this fish is one of the most overfished species, making it quite rare to spot individuals over 2m. It’s easily identifiable by its red markings, strange underbite and large green and black flecked scales. The Arapaima has both dorsal and anal fins close to the tail. This fine predator feasts on crustaceans, land animals close to shore and has a unique method of bolting out of the water to attack its prey. An absolute torpedo of a fish ! Green Anaconda : Real life monsters from horror movies The green anaconda is also referred to as the common anaconda or water boa. Although non-venomous, it’s extremely dangerous. The water-loving anaconda has the ability to constrict and strangle its prey to death. It is the largest and heaviest snake in the world, and not one you want to come into contact with while in the water. Although massive in size and stature, they are graceful and stealth-like in their watery domain. Their preferred habitat includes swamps, tranquil streams and dense rain soaked forest...

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4 Exclusive Luxury Kruger Safari Villas for Hire
Dec01

4 Exclusive Luxury Kruger Safari Villas for Hire

There’s certainly a place in this world for private and exclusive safari experiences. Discerning guests and small groups of travellers who have little desire to mix with others; and who want a safari experience tailored to their needs, should think about booking out one of these luxury Kruger safari villas. Hiring out a villa is a wise choice for celebrities who want to fly under the radar, families that want quality time together, celebrations and private parties; groups wanting control of their experience. Most of the luxury Kruger safari villas come with bush walks, game drives during peak predator hours, private chefs, boma dinners and sundowners. Depending on the villa, you will no doubt have various options and add-ons for your unique elite safari sojourn. Walkers Bush Villa Walkers Bush Villa is located in the game-rich Timbavati Private Nature Reserve on land belonging to Howard and Ingrid Walker. Sharing unfenced borders with the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park, means that wildlife roams freely throughout. The villa has a luxury country house feel and the interiors are plush and artistic. A huge wrap-around patio overlooks a swimming pool and expansive garden that extends all the way down to the waterhole and river. Huge herds of elephant and buffalo often congregate at the waterhole. There are 4 bedrooms in the villa and the entire experience is fully-catered. A highly-qualified chef is at your disposal, and surprise bush dinners, sundowners and other tailor-made bush experiences are the order of the day at Walkers Bush Villa. Just recently the team at Walkers hosted a 60th birthday bash. The group enjoyed their exclusive safari experience, proving that this villa is ideal for celebrations of all kinds. Singita Private Villa Collection Singita is the brand synonymous with exceptional luxury spaces in wild locations. Singita has a range of perfectly designed villas, each striking the delicate balance between exquisite luxury and functional design. All villas have a full staff complement which includes a host, chef, and private guide with vehicle. Although schedules and itineraries are completely up to your time schedule, it is worth heading out on game drives at the recommended time of day. Trained field guides have experience in knowing when the predators are most active. The These are Singita’s private Kruger villas : Singita Castleton : This is an exclusive use lodge that oozes a country charm, but boast impressive facilities. Located in the world-renown Sabi Sand, Castleton is certainly perfectly placed for game viewing. Let’s chat about those facilities ! There are perfectly manicured lawns at Castleton, a swimming pool, wine cellar, tennis court, fitness centre, spa and...

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Try These 10 Local Drinks and Dishes in Kenya
Dec01

Try These 10 Local Drinks and Dishes in Kenya

Kenyan cuisine is a heady mix of spices, fresh ingredients, tangy piquant flavours and an abundance of coconut. Each region in Kenya boasts something unique in the food department, but 90% of dishes are heavily influenced by Arab and Indian flavours; thanks to spice merchants from 100s of years ago. Arab, Asian and Swahili cultures dominate Kenya; which means food and drink is a tasty global mix of country specific cuisine prepared with Kenyan personality. Kenyan food is very healthy, packed with local spices and oozes flavour. And of course, there are a few local beverages that need sampling. These 10 local drinks and dishes in Kenya are bound to tantalise the tastebuds. Chapati The chapati is also known as a roti, and is a typically Indian flat bread that has been adopted by Kenyans as their own. It’s a soft, round shaped flimsy bread used for wraps and scooping up juicy curry dishes. Chapati dough is typically prepared with ‘flour, salt and water; and Kenyans like to layer their Chapatis and cook them in oil. It’s just not a meal without a Chapati bread on the side. Ugali Ugali is the most popular staple starch food in Kenya. It’s cornmeal made with maize flour, and is also commonly known as sadza. This porridge like dish is quite stodgy in texture and makes a perfect accompaniment to saucy meat dishes, stews and even soup. Ugali really is the most commonly devoured dish of Kenyans. Matoke Matoke is found across most of East Africa and served alongside hearty dishes. But just what is Matoke? Matoke is an East African Highland banana (plantain) commonly found throughout the Great Lakes region, and differs from normal bananas in that they are larger and tougher. Matoke are steamed in plantain leaves until soft and then mashed into a meal and served with a sauce. Plantain is starchy and tastes a bit like mashed sweet potato. Pilau Pilau rice (Pilaf) is basically an aromatic rice that is built up using a variety of spices. Pilau is a must have on any Kenyan menu, and is particularly prevalent on the Kenyan coast where it is served with Kachumbari. It’s often cooked with beef or chicken, and it’s bursting with flavour. The Swahili chicken pilau is a firm favourite dish in East Africa and is a typical dish of the region. Kachumbari Kachumbari is a refreshing, palate cleansing side dish comprising raw onions, fresh chillies and tomato. It’s a great side to spicy curries and a small bowl is often served alongside heavy meat dishes, Pilau and just about every other meal. Kachumbari is actually the Swahili...

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