To lower yourself down a mountain…

We’ve been so busy these last few months, which is wonderful of course, but it leaves little time for anything else. So it’s been a long time since you heard from us here.

My boyfriend Wayne and I did however take some time off to try abseiling, what an awesome adventure.

A Sunday in the middle of September we headed south from Wayne’s hometown Krugersdorp, to Parys, a small town situated about 100-150 km away. We had an early start and when we arrived we were met by our guide.

To come down you must first go up, so we had to walk up to the top of the old quarry where it all happen. From the top it was 45 meters to the bottom, it may not sound like much but once you are up there, it feels like…pretty much…

We were given a safety briefing and some instructions and then it was time to go. Wayne had the pleasure to start…and he made it down in a rather composed and dignified way. I didn’t feel so tough anymore when my turn arrived. The very first section was the scariest; it takes some guts to lean out over the edge and trust that you’re safe! But once I dared to lean back and rely on the harness and ropes to hold me, it went really well. And it was fun! 🙂

Wayne finished it all with a dip in the dam down below, I was not as brave – perhaps mostly because I had neither swimwear nor a change of clothes with me. Sorry, no pictures guys 😉

We had a wonderful day and we both left Parys with big smiles on our faces. Now that we’ve had a taste of a slightly more adventurous experiences, we will definitely make more room for that in the future!

Until next time!

-Lina

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Rovos Rail

Step on board of Rovos Rail and be pampered in 5-star luxury while you slowly move through the beautiful landscape. There is everything from shorter journeys between Pretoria and Cape Town to longer trips that depart once a year. Why not take the train from Cape Town to Dar Es Salaam?

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Since 1989, Rovos Rail has become known as the world’s most luxurious train. The adventure often begins at Capital Park just north of Pretoria, where Rovos Rail’s private station is built in colonial style. This is the point of most of the departures and arrivals.

Rovos Rail has the most spacious compartments in the world, with all the luxury and comfort you can imagine. With beautiful wood panelling and furniture in Edwardian style, the compartments accommodate two people and you can choose between two single beds or a spacious double bed. There is a safe, room service around the clock and a mini bar stocked with the beverages you want, all included in the price.

Rovos Rail offers three types of accommodation:

pullmandaycutawayThe Pullman Suite has a size of 7 square metres with private bathroom with a shower. You can choose between an upper and a lower bed or a double bed which during the day is converted into a sofa. This is the smallest compartment on offer.

deluxecutawayThe Deluxe Suite is a slightly larger option at 11 square meters. You get a small lounge and a private bathroom with a shower and you can choose if you want two single beds or one double bed.

royalcutawayThe Royal Suite is a full 16 square metres big and is very spacious and elegant. The compartment personifies opulence. It takes up half a carriage, with its own lounge and bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower.

All meals are served in one sitting in the charming Victorian design restaurant carriages. Every morning a breakfast buffet with a wide selection of croissants, cold meats, jams, pastries, yoghurt, cereal and fresh fruit is served.

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Lunch and dinner begins with a starter and then your choice of fish, meat or a vegetarian dish, followed by a tempting dessert. And of course you will have excellent South African wines to choose from.

During the day the dress code is casual, while more formal attire is worn in the evening. A jacket and tie is a minimum requirement.

Doesn’t this sound lovely…?

10 drinks to try out when you visit South Africa

A large part of travelling certainly revolves around eating and drinking, and travelling to South Africa is no exception. And rightly so – South Africa has so many tasty things to offer, so try them out!

Here we’re taking a closer look at some of the drinks…

Wine
This one is a given. You can drink wine every day without getting to excperience a small part of all the wonderful wines available in South Africa.

Two local specialties that you should definitely try is Jerepigo or Cape Ruby, sweet wines that go well with dessert, and Pinotage, which is a blend of the grape varieties Cinsaut and Pinot Noir.

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Beer
Everyone drinks beer, regardless of social status and it’s somewhat of South Africa’s unofficial national drink – especially during summer and sports season. The most popular beer, Castle Lager, is produced by South African Breweries, but they also produce brands such as Carling Black Label and Grolsch. Windhoek Lager from Namibia is also popular.

Cider
These are much less sweet and less fruity than the ciders sold in Sweden (I’m not sure about the rest of the world). They have a more adult taste and with hints of wine.

Try Hunter’s, Redds or Savannah – with or without lemon.

Amarula
I’m sure many of you have already tried this sweet and creamy liqueur. Add it to your coffee or ice cream – yummy! –  or as is with ice. Amarula is made from the fruit of the Marula tree, a fruit that’s also a favourite among monkeys and elephants.

Van Der Hum liqueur
This citrus liqueur from The Cape combine spices, herbs, sugar, tangerines, brandy and diluted wine. It’s named after its original creator, and is a favourite among South Africans.

Witblits
Witblits is Afrikaans for “white lightning”, and is a home-made brandy that packs a punch. It’s mostly produced and consumed in the Western Cape, so keep an eye out for it at the farmstalls dotted along the roads there. Witblits is also the name of my car. Vroom vroom! 🙂

Mampoer
Mampoer is a fruitier alternative to witblits, made from peach, apricot, litchi and other fruits. Also, a drink that packs a punch… Mampoer is most common in the northern parts of South Africa.

Springbok (Springbokkies)
A springbok is a popular shooter named after the antelope and it also has the same name as the South African rugby team, wearing gold and green. The drink reflects these colours (or of a springbok and green grass) by layering creamy Amarula with green peppermint liqueur. It’s served in bars around the country and is very popular and insanely nice!

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky
South Africa is widely known as a country that produces a lot of wonderful wines. Most people know that. But there’s also an award-winning whisky produced here.

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is distilled and matured at The James Sedgwick Distillery in the beautiful Bainskloof Pass in the Western Cape. Bain’s was named “The World’s Best Grain Whisky” at the annual World Whisky Awards in London in 2013.

Rooibos
I’m sure most of you have tried rooibos tea. Right? Rooibos is unique because it’s only grown in two specific valleys in South Africa, in the Western and Northern Cape. This slightly reddish tea is full of antioxidants and is often added to other teas to improve the taste, such as Honeybush, Hoodia and Buchu.

The elephants of Mfuwe Lodge

We would love to experience this… 🙂

Every year when the mangoes are ripe a family of wild elephants visit Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Led by their matriarch Wonky Tusk they carefully make their way through the lodge’s reception area and onto the the grounds where the mango tree stands.

Once they’re done they simply walk back…

Go see the spring flowers of The West Coast

I love my Johannesburg, and right now we are experiencing summer temperatures that are very welcome after the cold winter. However, I wish I could visit Cape Town, or rather the West Coast, now…

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Between July/August and September/October each year this part of South Africa explodes. The first spring rain falls and turns the dry and rather barren landscape into a display of bright colours when the ground becomes covered in flowers of thousands of species.

It is impossible to predict exactly when this annual flower parade will occur, but the safest bet is probably from August to September. The key is of course the arrival of the first rains, but the temperature is also important and the flowers will only open up until later in the morning and hardly at all on cloudy days.

The Namaqualand region is located in the northern part of the west coast and is divided into two parts either side of the Orange River – Greater Namaqualand in Namibia and Little Namaqualand in South Africa. It’s in this region that the flowers of west coast reaches its full strength.

But you don’t have to travel all the way up there to experience this magical spectacle. Spring flowers are abound from Darling and Yzerfontein up to the West Coast National Park, so if you are visiting Cape Town during this period – take a day to visit this beautiful area.

Before you dash off on your way, I advise you to call Flower Line on +27 (0)71 320 7146 in order to find out which area has the best show of the day.

Stop Rhino Poaching

For every client who books a trip with us, we donate R50 to the organisation Stop Rhino Poaching. We also ask our clients to help out and donate a small amount, and almost everyone do so without hesitation and to all of you we want to say a big THANK YOU!!

From the time we started this, at the end of last year, until now, we have together been able to donate R13 900 and we continue to do what we can to help in the fight against rhino poaching.

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Since 2008 South Africa has lost over 4 000 rhinos and the number is growing daily. Stop Rhino Poaching is a nonprofit organisation that, since 2010, has been working to raise awareness and to provide support where it’s needed in the fight against rhino poaching.

If you want to donate money, you can do so easily on their website – otherwise you can always book a trip with us and we will take care of it!

Is it safe to go on safari?

I don’t know how far outside of South Africa this news has spread, but perhaps you have heard of the lion attack that happened here a few weeks ago. An American woman visited The Lion Park outside Johannesburg and died from the injuries she sustained when a lion attacked.

So that no one will jump to the wrong conclusions and think that it’s dangerous to go on safari, I would like to explain the situation.

The Lion Park is sometimes called a game reserve, wildlife park, nature reserve and wildlife park. It’s really not much more than a glorified zoo. You can drive around in a small reserve and see lions, among other animals. “Super Close-Up Animal Views Guaranteed” it says on the website…

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Entrance to the Lion Park

The woman had her window fully open, just like the private guide she was there with. No one can miss the signs that are everywhere, clearly telling everyone in the park to always keep windows closed. So no matter how tragic it is, it’s their own fault.

Lions are wild and dangerous animals! But this is precisely where misconceptions can arise… How can you go on safari in an open safari vehicle if it’s so dangerous to have a window down?!?

These lions began their lives in the area of the lion park where you can pet the lion cubs. And no wonder that draws people, admit it – how many of you are not thrilled by the idea? I admit, we’ve been there and cuddled with these wonderfully cute little lion cubs. It was many, many years ago – before we knew better.

Because the question is what happens to these lion cubs when they have done their 3 months as cute cuddleable cubs. According to the website, they are sent to a farm near Hartebeespoort Dam where they are housed in large enclosures.

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Lion cub cuddles

The Lion Park also says that they do their utmost to ensure that their lions are not used in so-called “canned hunting”. They donate or sell the lions to reputable zoos or wildlife parks. If the lions are not sold, they stay at the farm until they die of natural causes.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how many lions are needed in zoos and wildlife parks and how many can they keep at the farm until they die of natural causes..? With the amount of lion cubs the Lion Park must have in a year, I’m not sure the equation adds up.

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The Kruger Park

But this wasn’t really what I meant to write about… The wrong conclusions that can be drawn is that it’s dangerous to go on safari in the bush in a game reserve on an open safari vehicle. Every day, tourists in southern Africa experience the magic of sitting in an open vehicle next to a flock of wild lions. And yet nothing ever happens.

Wild lions in areas like the Kruger Park are completely wild. They haven’t been handled by people, fed, petted or photographed with people. They don’t associate humans with food. They are completely wild and have a natural fear of humans.

They also have really big areas to move around in and can easily move on if they get irritated, something that the lions in the lion park can’t. They have no choice, they can’t escape …

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Lions in Lalibela Game Reserve

In a car, whether it is a normal car or a large open safari vehicle, you are also safe since the lions see the whole silhouette as a single unit. You are significantly bigger than the lions. So before heading out on safari your guide will explain to you that you may not stand up and break this silhouette. You may of course never leave your car if you drive on your own… And you should keep the noise level down and never disturb the animals, of course.

As long as you stick to the rules, you need not worry about being attacked by lions in the African bush.

Rugby

On Friday evening there was a knock on the door, Freddy opened and there was our neighbour asking if we had any plans for Saturday. The answer was no, whereupon he presented two tickets for the game between The Blue Bulls from Pretoria and The Cheetahs from Bloemfontein. Not only that, it was tickets to a Platinum Suite 🙂

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So on Saturday we headed off to Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria and found our suite. Free food and free drinks and a lot of big – no, huge – men who brutally dives into the fight for the ball.

It wasn’t an important game, so the number of spectators was unfortunately quite low, but believe me – the noise levels can become high anyway. South Africans are very passionate about rugby!

I have said for probably 15 years that I want to go to a rugby game and this sure was a nice way to do it. But next time it will have to be when The Lions from Johannesburg play. But we had a great time!

New regulations for travelling with children

It’s been about a year since South Africa changed its immigration regulations and the rules became stricter in terms of staying for longer periods in South Africa. The idea was that new rules for travelling with children would be imposed at the same time, but due to strong protests this was postponed.

But now it’s time, as from 1st of June 2015, these new stricter rules for travelling with children to and from South Africa will be introduced and these rules apply to all children under 18 years.

The following documentation must be produced when entering and leaving South Africa:

Parents travelling with a child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.

Single parent travelling with a child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
  • consent in the form of a Parental Consent Affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic with the child he or she is travelling with.
  • a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child.
  • where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate.

Person travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
  • a Parental Consent Affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child.
  • copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
  • the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

Here you can download the Parental_Consent_Affidavit.

All documentation must be in English and in the original or certified copies.

We hope this information is helpful, but please double-check with the South African Embassy in your country to make sure that you have the latest information and that it is completely correct 

Leopard vs. lion

Guests at Jaci‘s Lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve were really fortunate when they were out on a game drive in early March. Their ranger saw a leopard that had a kill, a young zebra, up in a tree. That in itself is an amazing thing to see.

But there was more to come! A male lion had tracked the kill to the tree and managed to jump up and climb the tree to steal the kill, while the leopard balanced in the top of the tree.

There you are, that‘s what you can experience on a normal game drive in South Africa 🙂

You can read the full blog at Africa Geographic.