Posts Tagged With: Kingfisher FM

Addo To Karoo: Day 5

Addo To Karoo is a 5 day series written by Lize-Mari Arthur as she explores our South African National Parks from Nelson Mandela Bay through to Beaufort Wes.

Another sunrise morning…

On our last day of exploring the SAN Parks in our region, we got up early to go for a guided walk through some of the park. Jan guided us up one of the “koppies” close to main camp as we enjoyed a 2 hour hike learning more about the plant life and nature of Karoo National Park. It was refreshing to start the day off so close to nature and to realise how privileged we are to be having this experience.

Jan Sun 2                                                                           Jan guiding us over the ‘Karoo koppie’                                                                                     

After our walk we quickly cleaned up and said goodbye to some of our fellow travellers before we popped in to the curio shop to see what they’ve got to offer. We couldn’t go back home after such an experience with nothing to share with our loved ones from the area. They little shop is called ‘Sout en Peper’ and they have some gorgeous items to display in your home, to eat and to cook with. This is the place where the local ladies will take their crafts to be sold. They even have cards that are made by a home of restoration for women and children as a means of fund-raising. Definitely a place to support if you want to help make a difference in the community.

With our gifts ready and packed we picked up our breakfast to go and hit the long road back home.

This is a trip I will always remember fondly.

Follow the series from Day 1

Lize-Mari Arthur is the Lifestyle Presenter at Kingfisher FM and is a lover of  food, good books and healthy wholesome entertainment. She enjoys new experiences in life and going on adventures. You can find her on her blog where she does weekly updates on some of the content on her show.

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Addo To Karoo: Day 4

Addo To Karoo is a 5 day series written by Lize-Mari Arthur as she explores our South African National Parks from Nelson Mandela Bay through to Beaufort Wes.

Exploring Graaf Reinet…

We started off with a healthy breakfast at the Coldstream restaurant (my new favourite place in Graaf Reinet) and realised that even though we planned on heading back to the Valley of Desolation for some early morning shots, it wasn’t going to realise due to the peaks being to cloudy. Instead we opted for some sightseeing through the beautiful old town before we headed towards Beaufort Wes.

Hitting the road to Karoo…

Karoo Landscape

Beautiful Karoo landscape

The road to Karoo National Park is quite a straight, flat and boring one, but as soon as you get closer to the park you see the beautiful “Karoo Koppies” and it makes for a stunning landscape. After a short drive through the park and seeing some of the animals, we headed to the main camp for a picnic lunch at the pool. Yes, it was a scorcher of a day and the relaxing water was just what we needed after being cooped up in the car.

Swimming Pool

Refreshing swim in the pool that’s about twice the size of what you see here.                     

We spent the afternoon settling into our units and catching up on some work. Some of us went to have a look at the interpretative centre and fossil trail, which is a beautiful walk alongside various displays of fossils and plants, telling the story of each. 

Karoo Acc

Self-catering units                  

Our units were beautiful old farm style homes with a kitchen and dining room in the centre and a bedroom with a double and single bed as well as a bathroom on each side. So you can comfortably have more than one family in one unit. they are very well equipped with all you need and for you to live quite comfortably for as long as possible.

Karoo Single Bed

Small part of the comfortable room I slept in       

Before our scheduled night game drive, we quickly had some supper at the restaurant and boy oh boy was it tasty. Lots of fresh Karoo lamb dishes on the menu to choose from and who can complain when you get to eat it with such a picturesque view in front of you.

Karoo Restaurant

Stunning view from the restaurant.          

We were excited to go on our night-drive and to see the animal world after sun-set. It was so peaceful and you almost felt like you were intruding in their sacred time away from people. We saw a couple of zebra’s as well as a variety of antelope.Unfortunately no lions were around for us to experience, but the drive was still worth it. I realised how well-trained our guides eyes are when he will point out an animal that’s so far away you can’t even see it with the naked eye and have to try to find it with binoculars. Amazing and an awesome way to wrap up our last night road tripping through the South African National Parks.

Normal Zebra

Burchell’s Zebra                            

Follow the series from Day 1 or continue and see what happened on Day 5

Lize-Mari Arthur is the Lifestyle Presenter at Kingfisher FM and is a lover of  food, good books and healthy wholesome entertainment. She enjoys new experiences in life and going on adventures. You can find her on her blog where she does weekly updates on some of the content on her show.

Categories: 10 Day Trips, information, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Addo To Karoo: Day 3

Addo To Karoo is a 5 day series written by Lize-Mari Arthur as she explores our South African National Parks from Nelson Mandela Bay through to Beaufort Wes.

Cheetah Tracking…

The day started off with excitement as we packed our bags ready for the adventure of tracking a wild cheetah in the park. Once again Charl joined us as we headed out with our breakfast packs stuffed to keep our tummies from rumbling and scaring off the cheetah.

Charl Tracking                                                                                    Charl busy tracking the cheetah.     

Tracking the cheetah can take anything from 1 to 5 hours, depending on your luck and time. The cheetahs have necklaces around them which transmits a signal to the tracker device, letting the rangers know in which direction they might find them. Some will be closer, some further away and some will be more relaxed with humans, others not. We opted to go for a female that’s quite relaxed and whose signal seemed to be the strongest. Now the luck plays it’s part as you only have so much road to follow until you have to hike your way through the  mountains, valleys and animals to get to the cheetah you are tracking.

Unfortunately for us, our cheetah decided to move around quite a bit, so every time we thought we knew where she was going, her signal got fainter and we had to walk further. We ended up hiking for just over an hour through the slopes as we were trying to find her. We were getting quite despondent when all of a sudden, she was right in front of us. One moment we just saw trees and grass all around and the next moment she sat upright and we could only stare in wonder.

Spot the Cheetah                                                           Cheetah appearing underneath the tree.                            

We walked closer until we were about 5 metres away from her, having the privilege of taking photo’s and enjoying her graceful beauty. Such an awesome experience to have with a wild animal.

Cheetah                                                                             Cheetah up close                          

On the way back did we become more aware of the fact that there are many dangers in the park and with the purpose of finding the cheetah gone, we were more focussed on making sure there aren’t any rhino or lions around.

Arrive at Camdeboo…

Next we packed our bags and hit the road to Camdeboo National Park which is situated just outside Graaf Reinet. if I can summarize this park in one word it would be tranquillity. It’s a stunning environment situated around a massive lake with lots of birds to keep you busy if you are into bird watching. There are many walking trails and it’s so close to Graaf Reinet that you can’t help but include sightseeing in this beautiful old town as a part of your experience.

Dark trees                                                                    Tranquil beauty of Camdeboo  

The experience at Camdeboo is very earthy, yet comfortable. The main office reminds you of an old farm-house, you don’t feel like you are entering into a national park. We stayed in the Lakeview Tented Camps, had communal bathrooms and cooking areas. Yet you see the care that’s taken in the little things like a mirror and natural mosquito spray in your tent. I had one of my best sleeps in this bed, with bedding that is fresh and warm and no sunlight making its way into the tent in the morning.

Lake Side Tented Inside                                                                                                      Cosy bed                                                                                      

Lakeside Tented Camps                                                                    Lakeview tented Camps                                 

There are 4 tented camps around this spot and we shared communal areas such as the showers which had a very rustic feel to them, yet when you get inside you are surrounded by beautiful curtains that makes you feel like you’re in a luxuriously exotic location. There are also proper cooking spots and a braai area set up in the centre of the camp for all guests to enjoy individually or as a group. I found this to be a great spot for some team building or a big group break-away.

Camseboo Showers                                                                            Outside showers  

Camdeboo Fire Place

Braai area                                  

Valley of Desolation…

That evening we went into town and collected our pre-ordered platter from the Coldstream restaurant in Graaf Reinet and headed out to the Valley of Desolation for a sun-set picnic overlooking the valleys. This is a stunning spot to spend some time and just soak in the magnificence of creation, you can’t help but stand in awe of such a sight. No photo can do it justice.

Valley of Desolation Eve                                                                                             Valley of Desolation                                                                                   

Picnic Set up Valley of Desolation                                                       Coldstream picnic at Valley of Desolation                          

Follow the series from Day 1 or continue and see what happened on Day 4

Lize-Mari Arthur is the Lifestyle Presenter at Kingfisher FM and is a lover of  food, good books and healthy wholesome entertainment. She enjoys new experiences in life and going on adventures. You can find her on her blog where she does weekly updates on some of the content on her show.

Categories: 10 Day Trips, information, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Addo To Karoo: Day 2

Addo To Karoo is a 5 day series written by Lize-Mari Arthur as she explores our South African National Parks from Nelson Mandela Bay through to Beaufort Wes.

Sunrise…

Staying in the tented camps at the Spekboom Tented Camps meant that we had the privileged of waking up to a beautiful sunrise peeking through the bushes. Some of us decided to get up and go for a self drive through the park and others headed down to the Hide and watch the animals that arrived for an early morning drink. After all our things were packed and gathered, we headed out to breakfast at the main camp restaurant to fill our bellies before taking on the day ahead.

Before leaving the park we decided to pop into the  Interpretive Centre to see what it is all about. This is an amazing spot to take your child to learn more about our nature and heritage in a fun way. They have a family tree of all the elephants over the years as well as the famous head of Hapoor on display in the centre. This is a space where stories are told with photo’s, physical items and audio-visual tools. You also have a couple of interactive games that can be played outside if you go as part of a school group, learning about nature in a fun way.

Hitting the road to Mountain Zebra…

Mountain Zebra Family

Mountain Zebra’s                                

From here we head out to Mountain Zebra National Park, which is in the Cradock area, and on route you can see a lot of random wild animals next to the road as you are looking into some of the game farms in the area.

As we arrived our guide, Charl, was all ready and waiting for us to go and explore some Bushman Paintings that aren’t too difficult to get to. There are other sites that are more adventurous if you feel like scaling rocks and working for the pleasure of seeing the paintings.

PAintings

Bushman Paintings                                                                                     

As we were driving through the park , Charl was pointing out the different animals that they have as well as chatting to us about how the park has expanded in the last couple of years. It was quite fun listening to all the tales and understanding the landscape and animals better.

Springbuck

Springbuck                            

Ostrich Egg

Abandoned ostrich egg                                                                                     

Squirrel

Squirrel entertaining us next to the road.                         

From the first moment that we arrived at Mountain Zebra, we felt welcome were treated as valued guests by all the staff. Apart from the people ensuring that we had a pleasant experience, the park itself is perfect for that break away from everything. It has that luxurious upmarket feel, lots of peace and quiet, yet it’s still down to earth and accommodating.

Bedroom

Main bedroom in self-catering cottages.               

We stayed in the self-catering cottages which are very simply equipped, yet has everything that you might need away from home. They have two bedrooms, one with a double bed and the other with two singles and one bathroom. You’ve got tea’s and coffees available along with a kettle, microwave and fridge in the kitchen as well as a fire-place in the lounge for those cold nights.

Bedroom View

Access to the patio from the main bedroom.

After lunch in their cosy restaurant we had some fun splashing around in the swimming pool, which has a lovely grass area surrounding it if you’d like to have a picnic while enjoying the refreshing water. Mountain Zebra National Park is the perfect get-away with scenic nature all around whilst still enjoying all the comforts of life at your finger tips.

Follow the series from Day 1 or continue and see what happened on Day 3

Lize-Mari Arthur is the Lifestyle Presenter at Kingfisher FM and is a lover of  food, good books and healthy wholesome entertainment. She enjoys new experiences in life and going on adventures. You can find her on her blog where she does weekly updates on some of the content on her show.

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Addo To Karoo: Day 1

Addo To Karoo is a 5 day series written by Lize-Mari Arthur as she explores our South African National Parks from Nelson Mandela Bay through to Beaufort Wes.

Our adventure starts on horseback…

5 Strangers met up early last week Monday morning to take off on a week-long adventure together to learn more about our South African National Parks throughout the Eastern Cape and surrounds. We were ready with our bags packed full of insect repellent and sunscreen.

3 riders

            3 Riders kicking off their adventure on horseback.                

First stop was at the Addo Elephant National Park’s Zuurburg Trails, where 3 of us went on a horse ride trail and the other two went hiking  through the fynbos. I ended up on a beautiful stallion called Flap. He was the most docile creature ever, obediently following the horse in front, never trying to pass him, never giving any problems. Perfect for a beginner rider.

Flap

Beautiful and gentle Flap 

As we were riding along, our guide told us about the nature around us. What the different plants are called and what makes them special to that specific environment. If you’re lucky, you’ll also bump into some wild animals like red hartebeest and because you are on horseback you can get quite close without them running away.

Heading through to the main camp…             

From there we headed to the main camp at Addo for lunch at the restaurant, where they are busy renovating and soon we’ll be dining at a Cattle Baron in that space. I quickly popped into the tourist shop to see what they’ve got on offer and I was quite surprised at the range of goods that they’ve got. Everything from food to clothing and proudly South African gear as well as any overnight essentials that you might need.

Before heading out on our scheduled game drive, we needed to kill some time and took a walk to the Hide. This is an enclosure that’s situated next to one of the waterholes in the park, which allows you to freely observe any animals that make their way to this precious recourse. This is the perfect spot to get some beautiful photo’s of the animals in the park, the only rule of the Hide is that you have to be quiet.

Elephant Water

Elephant cooling off at the waterhole by the Hide.

After this we went on our much-anticipated game drive with Jonathan as our guide. He pointing out all the different animals to us and shared as much info as he could about each of them. Any questions from our side was quickly answered with a smile and the trip was a fun as well as insightful one. On route we also came across some lion prints in the sand and got quite excited because they were fresh, but unfortunately that was the closest we came to the lions at Addo.

Elephant Eating

Elephant bull next to the road as we enjoy our game drive. 

Addo Elephant National park got its name for a reason, so we came across quite a couple of elephants throughout the drive, as well as zebra’s, warthogs and red hartebeest.

Elephants Group

Elephants enjoying an afternoon at the watering hole.

That night we stayed at the Spekboom Tented Camps, which is a small enclosed camping site in the middle of the national park. The camp has 5 tented sites which are all very private from each other and are equipped with two single beds in each tent as well as camping chairs and a utility box with all you’ll need for the stay. There are well taken care of communal bathrooms as well as a small kitchen with a fridge to make use of if you need to.

The camp site also has it’s own Hide, which means only those that stay there have access to this particular spot to watch the animals. 

Tented Camps

Spekboom Tented Camps

Keep following the series and see what happened on Day 2

Lize-Mari Arthur is the Lifestyle Presenter at Kingfisher FM and is a lover of  food, good books and healthy wholesome entertainment. She enjoys new experiences in life and going on adventures. You can find her on her blog where she does weekly updates on some of the content on her show.

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Life Measured in Moments

As the Traveling Tribe prepares for our immense adventure exploring Asia & the Far East, we’re inviting some of our friends to keep on doing travel in the Eastern Cape, South Africa & Africa, making contributions as honorary Tribe-members, so that you can now get information on South African travel, as well as our explore of unseen Asia, right here in one place.

In this article Xandre van der Berg & her husband Danie joins our Tribe, as they take a trip on the MSC Opera, cruising our stunning Oceans.

Website for more Informationwww.MSCcruises.co.za 

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“Life should be measured in moments, not minutes”

This statement not only captures the introduction to the MSC Opera’s brochure, but lingered in my mind – capturing my thoughts,  forcing me to slow down, re-measuring my  two days spent, as a guest on the luxury vessel.

It was in these moments, that somewhere between embarking in Cape Town, and disembarking in Port Elizabeth,  I was transformed from stepping on as a guest, to leaving as a friend.

Luxurious she is, by all measures and opinions.

But beneath all the glamour and glitz, I found a village on the MSC Opera.  A village which invites everyone to become one with their fantasy world.  Embracing’s differences, opening opportunities to explore and enjoy their finest moments.

Moments to reflect on life are ample, as you cruise along –creating the space I needed to reconnect and focus.

When you are surrounded by miles and miles of gentle waves, you can only focus on the eminent.

The now.

The being of your soul.

I will not be able to describe the swell of the ocean, the gentle rocking when you lie down, the ever moving horizon and the realization that this is it.

You are captured in another world.

A world beyond time.

An escape.

And it is only then, realizing that you have escaped from reality, that you start looking around, taking the surroundings in, and start to blend with this new world.

MSC has explored the seas for over 300 years.  With 450 vessels under their wing, they have mastered her – the ocean.

Their expertise, passion and professionalism are evident in everything they do.

Tina joined the family from the Philippines, seeing to all my needs in my room, Miguel came from Peru, serving our coffee with dedication, Annia from Cuba waiting at the spa and Rinthing from India, eager to be of assistance.

The South African cruises developed at such a rapid pace, that they had to include South Africans crew members.  With 98% or the passengers on South African cruises being from South Africa, this is truly a home from home.

The MSC Opera, a masterpiece on the seas, lives up to her name – a classy, grand lady, a world class resort.  Five star cuisines, 9 bars, shows, lounges, a theater, shops, casino, disco, pools, spa baths and fitness equipment.

Don’t imagine for a moment that a cruise on the MSC Opera is only for adults.

This is an amazing adventure for children as well.  Some cruises end up with 40% of passengers below the age of 18.

Pools, Play areas, Discos, movies, Virtual game rooms, outside deck games & indoor activities, are all utilized, under the watchful eyes of a very capable crew component.  Children are issued with security bracelets the moment they become part of the cruises – assuring that they can be traced at all times.

Do not be fooled by the luxury and splendor of this adventure – this is truly a South African Holiday – affordable for everyone.

While fares published would want you to reach for your saving account number – actual fares are mind blowing.

The MSC family, want everyone to be able to enjoy and share what they have captured.  Specials and promotions available allow us all to be part of their dream world.

Keeping in mind that all meals and most of the entertainment is part of the package, you will be able to freely enjoy the theater and all shows brought to you, from side splitting comedy to Italian Opera.

For the more serious ‘gastronomix’ amongst us, you will have opulent opportunities to experience different menus, steaming hot pizza from the oven – Italian pasta, homemade ice cream and the finest pastries.

Their promotion packages covers everything you could imagine.  For newlyweds, family, single travelers, anniversaries and special celebrations – they have it all covered.

And although I joined the cruise along the South African Coast – this is not where it stops.

Take you imagination on a wild cruise, and join them to explore the coral reefs, exotic landscape and cultures of the Southern African coast and islands.

Always wanted to explore the Portuguese Islands?

Madagascar?

The Island of True contrasts – Reunion?

Mauritius and Namibia?

This is the opportunity – join the MSC family and explore alongside them. They will spoil you with beach braais while you discover the hidden secrets of a Portuguese Island, snorkeling.

They will show you the best places to shop in the Cosmopolitan Maputo and invite you to Inhambane, one of the oldest settlements in Southern Africa.

Join them and explore the active volcano and black sandy beaches of Reunion.  Extend the adventure to the home of legendary figures like Captain Kidd or stop at the beautiful turquoise waters of Mauritius.

Traveling with the MSC Cruises, give wings to your wildest dreams.

For us anyway.

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Adventure for Everyone (ECPTA Mini vs Maxi Day 4)

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Waking up in the Safari Lodge opulence at Amakhala Game Reserve is something you should experience.

We arrived here, yesterday.

We enjoyed a game drive, beautiful supper & stunning conversation.

It is early morning.

We’re off to see some more game.

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We encounter the magnificent male Lion & Mnoni, our Ranger bursts with knowledge.

This is a big 5 reserve.

The German family with whom we share the experience comment on the intimacy of it.

How privileged we are to encounter the game in their natural surroundings,  yet up close & personal.

There’s a tower of Giraffes.

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A beautiful herd of ‘Rooibok’.

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We see black wildebeest, Kudu, Rhino.

All of it accompanied by interesting facts & great information.

The wind is cold.

The experience is stunning.

After the game drive there’s opportunity to warm up with a shower & a breakfast spread.

Then it is time for goodbyes & heading home.

We’ve tasted so much & yet we’ve tasted only a glimpse of what the Adventure Province offers.

The Eastern Cape is a magnificent destination, often forgotten by even the people who live here.

Not on the main routes for many international tourists, yet it offers travelers an awesome experience.

Affordable.

Family friendly.

Quality.

We’ve only encountered tourism operators who are passionate about the service they provide & every single international tourist we’ve met, on this trip & on previous trips say the same.

They say: wow! I am so glad we made time to come to the Eastern Cape.  The experience was authentic.  It gave us a taste of Africa we did not get anywhere else.  Without it, our African trip would’ve been incomplete.

And after spending a little bit of time in our Adventure Province, they all say they’re coming back.

For more.

Soon.

Perhaps, if we who are fortunate enough to live right here, see with new eyes, start tasting in new ways – perhaps then the excitement of our wonderful bit of world will be infectious.

Walking away from this experience, I know this: the Eastern Cape is an amazing place to spend time, it is more than worthwhile to explore.

Diverse.

Rich.

From Cintsa East, through East London, down the coast past Kidds Beach, Hamburg, via Bathurst, down to Port Elizabeth & up into the Karoo to places like Graaff Reinet & Nieu Bethesda – it leaves us breathless.

It makes us more.

So this is my encouragement to you: if you live in the Eastern Cape, explore it.  You’ll discover it is so much more than the little bit of world you inhabit.

If you’re from another part of Southern Africa: come!  You’ll taste our country in a way you did not know existed.

If you’re from Europe, the Americas or the United Kingdom: come, come! You’ll be able to taste Africa, like nowhere else, in a malaria free environment.  You’ll experience the authenticity you long for in an extremely safe environment & you’ll go home wishing you had more time to adventure with us.

So?  Are you up for it?

We look forward to hosting you, to showing you life like you did not know it existed.

Come taste our Africa.

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The silent howl of Heterogeneity (mini vs maxi Day 1)

(In South Africa September is ‘Tourism Month’.  As part of the launch, Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency invited me to join them on a four day promotion, as their guest, discovering some more of this adventure province.)

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The holler of contrast – this is what we experienced on our first day of exploring this adventure province with Eastern Cape Tourism.

We woke up at Meander Inn to the bustling sounds an smells of early morning at an old fashioned Inn, where travelers become friends as they trade and buy and promote and ply.

Unbeknownst to us, the day held excitement & solitude.

I’m without my Tribe on this trip.  They’ve graciously allowed me to head out & explore this little bit of Eastern Cape.  Perhaps we’ll be fortunate enough to come & explore together, the gems I might find along the way.

Uzi & Esti are my travel companions.

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Uzi works as internal auditor for the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency.

Esti, represents St Francis Bay Tourism.

After fueling the VW Amarok, we head out of East London, towards Durban.

We’re not heading to Durban.

We’re just traveling in that directions to Areena River Resort & later to Prana Lodge in Cintsa East.

At Areena we’re met by Jarod who takes us Quad Biking on the resort’s reserve.

This is a family resort with chalets, camping & loads of activities on the river’s edge.  Other than quad biking, they also offer zip-lining, canoeing,  boating, walks, paintball – a lot of stuff my little Tribe would love.

Jarod takes us through the motions of how to operate the Quad Bikes.

We’re joined by a family from Johannesburg.

Their kids scream & laugh as we swoop up the hills & down the valleys.

They’re mesmerised as we meet Abby, the resort’s only male Giraffe.

What an experience.

Abby is an 8 year old fully grown Giraffe.

He was rescued & hand-reared.

He comes to us, as if we are old friends, smelling us, reaching down with his long neck to solicit a little bit of affection.

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This is an African Experience.

Not the fake kind, so often orchestrated for international tourists.

An authentic one.

The Africa we live & have come to expect.

The Africa we love.

We spend two hours exploring Areena River Resorts Hills & Valleys.

From our open Quad Bikes we see Zebra, Blesbuck, Wildebeest & an assortment of smaller game.  We even get a glimpse of their 7 other Giraffe,  gracefully picking the softest leaves from tree tops.

Then we do lunch at the resort’s restaurant, before heading to Prana Lodge.

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It is a quick drive to Prana Lodge, in the VW Amarok.

Here we are met by this 5-star Lodge’s very friendly reception staff.

Three beautiful ladies.

One Dutch.

One Zulu.

One Xhosa.

This is Africa too.

She is exciting & diverse.

Sophisticated & adventurous.

Prana brings us silence.

Calm.

Rest.

The rooms are luxurious & oppulent.

After refreshing & spending an hour reading, I head to the Lodge’s Treatment centre where I am met by Nom from Thailand.

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Prana Lodge offers a comprehensive Thai Treatment Centre.

People coming from far & wide, to rejuvinate, reconnect,  relax & listen.

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While Nom treats me to a massage,  my body relaxes & my mind empties of concern.

I think of Zuko, who should be here with me.

Of the beautiful life we share.

Of the stunning adventure which is our life.

Of new chapters, persistent hope, intimacy, relationship & affection.

Supper is a slow affair.

We’re joined by Gail, the owner of the Lodge.

We hear of her family.

Of a lifetime of holidays spent on the property.

Of children raised & finally getting away from Johannesburg to create the sanctuary they’ve always dreamed of.

The food is exquisite.

Tasty.

Beautifuly presented.

Prana Lodge receives day visitors, overnight guests,  small executive conferencing groups.

Their 43 staff always ready to cater to the needs of a handful of guests.

I would imagine, a couple could spend a weekend here & go home reconnected.

A stressed out businesses-person could come here & go home rejuvinated.

With new focus.

New hope.

New ideas.

We have to little opportunity to think, consider, read, in a very fast-paced, high-demand world.

Prana Lodge certainly offers the perfect environment for someone who is hoping to refresh & reach again.

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Decor & furnishings are understated, yet oppulent.

Service is calming, yet perfect.

Food is couture,  yet scrumptious.

The beach a minute’s walk away.

The silence & solitude stunning.

After supper I find my room turned down, my bed welcoming.

And rest engulfs me.

My soul tasting rejuvenation,  after but a moment.

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The Republic of Swellendam

Congratulations to all our winners, who will be traveling to Swellendam.

To see who won & where they’ll be staying, click HERE for details.

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Location: 535 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, on the N2 in the direction of Cape Town, just past Heidelberg.

Date Visited: 19 – 28 July 2013 (Winter)

Where we Stayed: Stonehill River Lodge

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Other Great Accommodation Options:

Wildebraam Berry Estate

Arumvale Country House

Roosje van de Kaap Herberg

Braeside Guesthouse

Barrydale Karoo Hotel

What we Drove: Chrysler Grand Voyager, complements of Maritime Motors – this is the most comfortable family vehicle the Tribe has ever traveled in, it is extremely spacious, handles easily & has all the luxuries you could dream of, including climate control, heated seats, TV-screens, DVD-player & automated doors.

What we did:  Swellendam & surrounds offer an awesome range of activities & experiences.  The Museums are beautiful.  The town is the 4th oldest town in South Africa, you can imagine how much history is nestled in this bit of world.  Here’s what we did over the few days we were there.  Every one of our experiences were amazing.  Horse Riding with Stephanie at Two Feathers Horse Trails was a stunning highlight.  Zuko loved crossing the Breede River by Ferrie at Malagas.  Pippin & Sophia fell in love with the Faerie Sanctuary.  I loved Barrydale & Warmwaterberg Hot-Springs.  We’re sure you’re going to find the perfect mix of experiences to make your visit to Swellendam exquisite.

Visited the Sulina Faerie Sanctuary in Swellendam

Went Horse Riding at Two Feathers Horse Trails in Swellendam

Crossed the Breede River by Pontoon at Malagas

Spent a day in Suurbraak & Barrydale.

Spent an afternoon at Warmwaterberg Spa on the other side of Barrydale.

Went Mountain Biking in Stonehill River Lodge‘s reserve.

Visited Cape Agulhas.

Visited the Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp.

Recommendation: The Swellendam area is beautiful.  Once you’ve chosen suitable accommodation you won’t struggle to find the perfect mix of activities.  There are loads of little art shops, organic food shops & restaurants to browse & enjoy.  The area has two very beautiful nature reserves in close proximity: Bontebok National Park & Marloth Nature Reserve.  Distance wise its a bit far to travel for just a 2 night weekend, but if you plan a 3-night stay, maybe leaving Thursday or only returning on Monday, it could be a perfect break.  The ten days we spent in the area was amazing, as we were able to do enough exploring without rushing anything.  The Tribe loved the experience.  We’ll definitely be back, we know we haven’t seen or tasted everything.

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Swellendam Explore Day 6

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If you know our Tribe, you’ll know we love horses.

We keep our own & ride as often as we can.

We share this gift with whomever visits us at the little wooden house on the not so little hill.

We search for the opportunity to enjoy this, wherever the opportunity exists.

We ridden at Addo.

At Koffylaagte.

And on this day we shared the exhilaration with Stephanie on the outskirts of Swellendam.

We met up with her at Swellendam Backpackers.

Here she recieves guests who are looking for something more than the standard buffet offered to people passing through.

A menu of activities is up on the wall & a tangible love for people is nestled in her words.

We drive to the Two Feathers Stables at the foot of the mountain.

The horses are beautiful.

Their temperament a mirror of Stephanie & her crew.

Kind.

Warm.

Willing to share.

Each of us is assigned a horse & as we saddle up, Stephanie speaks about each horse like you would speak about a friend.

Where the horse comes from.

How he came to live at Two Feathers.

What he enjoys.

What he does not enjoy.

By the time we’re in the saddle, we each feel as if we’ve kniwn these horses since forever.

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Then the ride.

Into the mountains.

Crossing a river.

Amongst trees.

Exquisite views.

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Stephanie has been doing this for almost two decades.

A short interval taken, somewhere in between, to travel to America, to work on a horse farm where she was part of the team who took people on a week-long ride into desolate mountains.

Then she came back.

Continued with new energy & fervour to bring happiness to the lives of whomever wanted to be part of her world.

A son was born.

Later a beautiful girl.

They share the joy of horses & nature.

Stephanie came to Swellendam to work, during a school holiday,  on one of the river boats.

She came from Upington.

She never left.

She is a beautiful person to meet.

An awesome guide to take you on horseback into the mountains.

She offers day trips as well.

Taking riders deeper into the mountains, breaking for a picnic lunch, before returning to the stables.

We do the afternoon ride.

The horses are comfortable with us.

I can see that they’re used to attention & even if you’re not used to riding, this would be an exquisite experience.

Stephanie not only attentive to each rider, but bubling with easy conversation, talking about herself & Swellendam, its people, its history, its beauty.

This is the kind of person who should be in the hospitality industry.

Late afternoon we return to the stables.

It wasn’t a hard ride.

It was relaxing.

Refreshing.

It filled each one of us with what we needed.

A sense of connectedness.

To nature.

To each other.

To this place.

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Even Forest, Theunsie’s new friend, who does not ride often, bubbles with excitement.

As we take each horse back to its stabke, Stephanie talks about the hot-springs at Barrydale.

She heard we’ll be heading that way.

She knows, few people know if the hot springs.

Like a secret, divulged only to insiders, she gives us directions, so we could find this hidden gem.

We say our goodbyes.

We’ve made new friends.

We’ve tasted a bit of Swellendam, without which our experience would’ve been bare.

The rest of the day is soent at Stonehill River Lodge.

As we drive through the reserve to our cottage we see Eland, Zebra & Blesbuck.

Over supper we talk.

We dream.

We hope with new energy.

For it is when we live & taste & experience that we are reminded that every day is precious and tomorrow is beautiful, when approached from a lived today.

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