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Plettenberg Bay

An intriguing mix of cultures, exquisite blue Indian Ocean, pristine sandy beaches and spectacular and unique nature experiences make Plettenberg Bay a prime holiday destination for both South African and international visitors.

Boasting more than 300 days of sun-shine a year, ‘Plett’, as its fondly known, offers you a temperate climate in which to restore your mind and body as you vacation on its shores.  

Plett Villas has a wide portfolio of accommo-dation including luxurious and exclusive villas, holiday homes, apartments, self-catering, bed and breakfast, guest house and lodge accom-modation to choose from.

Baviaanshoek is nestled in the secluded private community of Milkwood Glen on Keurboomstrand. This self-catering cottage boasts four bedrooms and three bathrooms and can sleep up to eight people.

You’ll never go hungry in Plett either with numerous restaurants and eateries being avail-able. Consistently voted as the number one restaurant to visit in the Plettenberg Bay area on Trip Advisor, Zinzi Restaurant offers diners a vibrant experience on the Hunters Estate. Be sure to stop in and enjoy all that Zinzi has to offer in an exquisite forest setting.

For adrenaline junkies, skydiving, canopy tours, kloofing and bungee jumping are all sure to get those adrenal glands working and endor-phins flowing. For those not quite so adven-turous, horse trails, ocean safaris, township tours, wildlife sanctuaries, outdoor markets, golf, spas and walking trails are sure to provide endless hours of enjoyment and create lasting memories.  

The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance ( SAASA ) consisting of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary have won numerous awards including the World Responsible Tourism award. SAASA continues to perform the vital task of maintain-ing wildlife populations in as near as possible to wild environments, except these days it’s efforts are not only directed at primates but several other species as well.

 

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Shining On - Lighthouses

Think of lighthouses and two words spring to mind. ‘Mystery’ and ‘intrigue’. By Shellee-Kim Gold

Scenarios of secret deals made between spies in mist;  hideaways for those with a past; desolate, unfulfilled romance that howls with the wind. These are some of the more dramatic associations with lighthouses.

Your scene is set to perfection if it’s a stormy night with thunderous waves crashing on the rocks. At least this is what Hollywood movies  would have us believe about the secret lives of lighthouses.

But lighthouses, their keepers and the genuine tales they tell are far more pragmatic. Real-life, sometimes-bizarre events are what these solitary, sobre figures tasked with the protection of sea-faring life sometimes face.  

Just 15 of South Africa’s 45 lighthouses are manned, helping keep 3000 kilometres of coast under surveillance and the curious traveller can  get up close and personal in four of them – which offer accom-modation - to learn the truth from an old sea dog. Many keepers are past seamen.

My mouth’s draping open ever wider as I stand at the bottom of Slangkop lighthouse, gawking upwards as my eyes travel the ascent to it’s 34 metre height, the country’s tallest. This tapered, cast iron structure is the lighthouse closest  to Cape Town where I’ll develop my ‘sea legs’, climbing the 146 steps to its tower.

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Monitoring Wolf, Lynx & Bear Populations in Slovakia

Based in a cozy and comfortable mountain chalet, you will be part of a small international team, working with the local scientist and contributing to an important piece of research. You will track large carni-vores through snow in the forest and meadow habitats of the mountains (using snow shoes, which are easy to use) and you may be involved in capturing and radio-collaring them. You will also learn how to recog-nize and record other signs of their presence, such as radio telemetry signals, scats and scent markings, camera trap them, collect samples to study their diet and for genetic analysis, and survey prey species. All in an effort to create a sustainable future for these icons of the Carpathian wilderness and to promote greater understanding of their role in European ecosystems. Sam Mittmerham recently joined and expedition and shares the story.

“Don’t panic, don’t run, and don’t approach”. “It’s best to turn around now” Tomas, the resident scientist, murmurs to the group.  We turn around as quietly as we can but fol-low Tomas’ gaze up the hill and see it. A cave with tracks in the mud in front of it.

We’re in Slovakia in the Vel’ká Fatra National Park in the Carpathian Mountains. The Vel’ká Fatra is where the Carpathians rise out of the Eastern European plains, starting their arching journey through the lands of Dracula, who has his castle in neighboring Romania. It is a land of hard winters and hot summers, of high peaks and formidable forests, of misty mountain meadows, lore, and where Europe’s three big carnivores still survive – the wolf, the bear, and the lynx.

Not much funding

I’m on a volunteering expedition with Biosphere Expeditions, a non-profit conservation organization, help-ing Tomas Hulik, our Slovakian sci-entist, gather data on Slovakia’s “Big Three”. “Conservation is not high on the agenda here in Slovakia,” he bemoans “and there is not much fund-ing, so you are my helpers on several levels,” he explained to us – a group of people from all over the world. Kate, the nurse from Australia, Martyn, a Biosphere Expeditions veteran of ten expeditions from the UK, Anna and Frank, Information Technology boffs from California, Peter, the bricklayer from Germany with a wolf “obsession” as he admits freely, Helene, the lawyer from Austria, Sergii from the Ukraine and David from Singapore.

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Afriski Mountain Resort

Summer fun in the Maluti Mountains

Afriski Mountain Resort, where it’s not always about champagne powder and hours spent bombing down the slopes in winter. There’s a whole range of adventure activities for young and old to keep you busy in the summer months too.

Over the next two editions of Wildside we’re going to take you on a journey through a little piece of the “African Alps” and with summer fast approaching we thought we’d start by sharing what summer at Afriski looks like.

Afriski Mountain Resort is situated in the Kingdom of Lesotho which is one of three remaining monarchies in Africa. A 6 hour drive from Durban and 5 hours from Johannesburg, on relatively good tarred roads, Afriski is easily accessible. The scenery and vistas en route are nothing short of breath taking.

On arrival you’ll be met by friendly staff who can’t do enough for you and will ensure that you are checked in and ready for the adventure to begin in no time at all. Situated at 3050m above sea level Afriski Mountain resort quite literally, takes your breath away. It make take you some time to acclimatise to the high altitude so all the more reason to spend a few extra days in this Kingdom in the Sky.

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Umzolozolo Private Safari Lodge

Umzolozolo is a place where you will experience and never forget the vast cinematic views in a Big 5 private game reserve from a lodge that wraps guests up in comfort and luxury. Here, in Nambiti Private Game Reserve you have a rich experience where the setting induces relaxation only enhanced by the Tulana Spa and that is in between your exhilarating game drives to find the Big 5.

In keeping with the ambiance of a boutique lodge there are only five suites. The freestanding suites are luxurious, with exquisite views, built in harmony with nature from local materials including thatch stone, and wood. There is a presidential suite, a honeymoons suite, a luxurious family chalet and luxurious chalet all decorated with strong African themes including prints and hides.

The game drives are a highlight and your personal game ranger will be with you for the duration of your stay taking you on morning and afternoon drives to experience the beauty of this reserve as they share their expertise and knowledge to enhance your time in the bush.

The cuisine is not only plentiful but delicious with the Chef preparing a diverse array of exciting meals that you enjoy either in the dining room or around the pool to take in those infinite views. Umzolozolo is place that induces relaxation, be it around the fire in the boma at night sipping on an evening drink, or around the pool after a cool dip, or in the privacy of your suite on your viewing deck or veranda.

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Tembe Elephant Park

We drove along the sandy track enveloped by magnificent sand forest simply enjoying being in the bush when a magnificent great tusker slipped quietly out of the bush. He swayed as he walked across the tracks and went back into the bush tramping a path-way that is as ancient as the sand-forest itself. This is Tembe Elephant Park and it is quite unlike anywhere else because it brings with it a great sense of landscape history, biodiversity where you are embraced by the wilderness.

Situated between Zululand and Mozambique, this 300 sq. km park is home to Africa’s largest elephants as well as the smallest antelope, the suni. What most people don’t know though is that Tembe is a Big Five park with lion, leopard, black and white rhino and buffalo, and has more than 340 bird species.

You feel that something is different from the moment you arrive. It is the ancestral home of the Tembe people who co-own and manage Tembe Safari Lodge and it is per-haps this that makes all the difference. You feel like a long lost relative being warmly welcomed rather than a guest, and the hospitality is no doubt one of the many reasons their guest book is brim full of glowing reports about how much people love this park.

Your accommodation is in tents, made of light wood and canvas so as not to block out the sounds of the bush; an outdoor shower under the stars or in the early morning sunlight is a wonderful way to feel as if you are standing under a (warm) waterfall in the middle of the wilderness.  However don’t think tent, think luxurious tented accommodation with en-suite bathrooms and comfortable beds.

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Springbok Lodge

Springbok Lodge

Situated in the Big 5 Nambiti Private Game Reserve, Springbok Lodge’s well-appointed safari tents set the tone for a complete safari experience including game drives, sitting around a fire at night in a boma, and scrumptious food and a real value for money stay.

Springbok Lodge is in Nambiti Private Game Reserve - one of the most accessible game reserves because it is situated between Johannesburg and Durban. Springbok Lodge is a four-and-a-half hour drive from Johannesburg and three-and-a-half hours from Durban – and within that short time you are taken into a wild and beautiful setting.

Springbok Lodge offers superb value, is large enough to accommodate groups of friends and family celebrating special events and, with their large and beautiful central lodge area, is most conducive to special dinners. Springbok Lodge can be hired out in totality and makes for a very special conference venue and is fully equipped for this.

If it is just you and yours look-ing for a romantic bush escape, Springbok Lodge delivers a wonderful experience. There are two game drives daily with the morning game drive having a coffee stop to take in the views while the afternoon sundowner stop gives photographers some great opportunities.

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Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge

I’m always looking for an excuse to spend some time in the bush so  I jumped at the opportunity to experience Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge -  a 4 star private lodge, situated in the first private conces-sion within Africa’s oldest game reserve, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The three hour drive from Durban, north on the N2, brought us to Nyalazi Gate at Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park from where we travelled a further 40 minutes on dirt road. Sections of the roads en-route to Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge are badly potholed but we’ve been told that there is a significant road upgrade scheduled to commence soon.

We saw a magnificent herd of elephant on our arrival and they entertained us with their mischie-vous antics and set the tone for a weekend of superb game viewing.

An iSibindi Africa Lodge

ISibindi has become known for its successful formulae of establishing top class lodges in partnership with the local community which includes Thonga Beach Lodge, Kosi Forest Lodge, Rhino Walking Safari’s and Rhino Post Safari Lodge.  

After almost 10 years of nego-tiations with the local community and government, Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge, situated on the Western boundary of the park, finally wel-comed its first guests in March this year. Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge is aptly situated on one of the highest ridges in the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park and lends itself to providing its guests with sprawling views of the park.

The drive up to the lodge from the plains below is steep and, although they have laid concrete strips along the steepest sections, I suggest you leave  your sports car at home for this one in favour of the one with a slightly higher suspension. A 4x4 is not necessary, but is preferable. The luxurious Bush Villa we stayed in is situated above the lodge up on the ridge with the architecture designed to take in the cinematic views. The huge picture windows and glass sliding doors provided us with a scene that took our breath away as we entered the villa.

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The Best Packing Tips Ever!

The thrill of travel: new destinations, fun and adventure. It’s a mouth-watering feast of exciting experiences. How can you prepare for the journey? Packing makes all the difference, regardless of whether it’s a bucket-list adventure, a 5-day hiking trail, a camping venture in the great outdoors or a work trip to the next city. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you out.

Packing a suitcase

It’s amazing how relaxed you can be when there is a certain amount of order and you know where to find things. It takes the panic and fluster out of travelling and allows you to sit back and enjoy the ride. Here are some ideas for peace of mind:

  1. Roll up items like t-shirts that don’t crease too much (yes, rolling clothes actually works, saving space and making it easier to find and extract individual items without crumpling everything else.) It’s an old sailors’ trick for packing a neat kitbag.
  2. Put long pants and clothing that you don’t want to crease on top so that they will flatten against the suitcase.
  3. Make sure you know where you have packed essentials like underwear, especially if you will be living out of your suitcase for the next few days. (It’s best to fold underwear and place in the gaps on the sides).

 

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Escape into the Wilderness

AS A WARM BREEZE DANCES ACROSS YOUR FACE AS YOU SIT AROUND YOUR CAMPFIRE, GAZE UP TO THE MILLIONS OF STARS.

Fall asleep in your cosy roof-top tent and listen for the sounds of the night in the bush. Incredible adventure awaits and you don’t have to buy a 4x4 or fit it out but can hire  a fully equipped 4x4 from Safari 4x4. To equip a vehi-cle can cost more than R100 000, but instead when you hire it includes a rooftop tent, long range fuel tanks, duel battery system, refrigerator, roof racks, gas bottles, spare tyres, camping table, chairs, crockery and cutlery.

More than a Vehicle – Self-Drive Solutions

Safari 4x4 is one of the top play-ers in the market and was started in 2009 by Christo Hugo. “Our fleet is ever expanding and at the moment we have 20 4x4 vehicles (Toyota Hilux SRX and Raider, Land Cruiser, Land Rover Defender) and 10 adventure bikes (BMW R1200,  F 800). We are focused on service and provide not just a vehicle, but a professional solution for self-drive and guided tour adventures.”

Their advice will enhance your experience. Christo has travelled extensively in Southern Africa while Diego who looks after the marketing, is in an accomplished photographer and documentarist (www.diegofrangi. com) who has been to over 50 coun-tries around the world.

Choosing your adventure

Safari 4x4 offer delivery and col-lection to South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, so have a chat to Safari 4x4 and look at the different costs. During July -August there is high demand for Botswana and at Christmas time its Mozambique and Swaziland. May is the ideal time to visit game reserves like the Kgalagadi - it is not as cold as winter, or rainy as in summer and you get to enjoy the place without a rush of tourists.

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