The Travel Manuel | Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone and Into Your Next Adventure
Step out of your comfort zone and into your next adventure! It's not risking your life that makes it an adventure, It's risking your comfortable, preconceived ideas about life. The essence of adventure is to stretch yourself. To go further, faster, higher, longer, deeper or wider than you ever thought you could. To see the world from a different perspective.
Let’s face it: nothing takes the fun out of travelling than lengthy airport waits, trying to locate a cab/taxi, waiting on an Uber – or even having to call a loved one awake so they can fetch you from the airport!
For most of us, the airport drop-off and collection struggle is real – but with Tourshuttle – an exciting booking platform designed to connect people with reliable transportation companies across Europe – that unnecessary stress is instantly removed!
Tourshuttle works hard to offer you the best services, at the most affordable prices. This is why they carefully monitor each service, ensuring travel reliability, accuracy and sheer comfort for you… It’s no wonder their reviews are so glowing!
What Tourshuttle offers – and where they are based:
Photo by Sladjana Karvounis on Unsplash
Tourshuttle can put you in contact with the best transport companies, assisting with transfers to and from European airports, ports, major cities and smaller centres.
Currently, they have over 208 operators in Europe and their presence is felt at over 328 European airports…
Their reach may spread far and wide (to over 8200 locations, in fact…) – but low costs and quality assurance remain their top priority. This is why they select only reliable and affordable local operators, with good reputations!
How it works:
If you are wondering how their process works, we can assure you that it’s as easy and effortless as a few moments spent online.
As a start, head to their website and sign up for your own Tourshuttle account.
Once your account is setup, log in and search for airport transfers for your location. (To see which European countries they operate in, please click here.)
Imagine you’re based in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and you wish to travel to Brussels City Centre for the day – simply select this transfer option and book your desired transfer destination, taxi and price per vehicle. After that, it is simply a matter of confirming your payment!
Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash
Some useful tips …
To make the process with Tourshuttle even smoother and simpler, here are some great tips to remember:
– Book your chosen vehicle – but make sure it can fit all passengers and expected luggage… If you need a larger vehicle, choose this in advance.
– Tourshuttle also offers return trips… For these, they recommend booking on the same page as your outbound travel.
– During the booking process, for added peace of mind, you can specify detailed information like your airline, flight number and number of travellers.
– Local taxes and a 45-minute wait time (for delayed flights) are included in the overall cost.
– If you need to cancel your booking, rather do so at least two days prior to departure to enjoy a free cancellation and refund!
– Worried about your payment’s safety and security? Don’t be! Payment is perfectly secure and gets processed directly through to the local operator in their required currency, while you can pay in USD, Euro or Pound Sterling!
– Finally, for advance reservations, your payment is automatically processed 48 hours before the trip – for all other bookings, it’s instant.
So what are you waiting for? Book with Tourshuttle and enjoy effortless, safe and pleasant airport transfers in and around Europe, without any of the normal travel stresses there to detract from your fun trip!
A few weeks ago I was invited by Better SA to get off my butt and take part in a volunteering initiative that would see us renovating and revamping Siyazingisa Primary’s school library in Gugulethu. Apart from the obvious intention of refurbishing the existing school library for the 1000+ school children that attend Siyazingisa, the event was also momentous because this was the official launch of Better SA’s volunteer program in Cape Town!
Having had a successful launch in Johannesburg, and after seeing the need for their service, Better SA has now launched their “Uber of volunteering” service in Cape Town too.
But what is Better SA?
The below excerpt is taken straight off their website:
“Described by SA’s media as ‘The Uber of volunteering’ Better SA’s Hop on Hop off volunteer bus service is taking all the hassle out of volunteering. The service is free of charge and each experience is fully facilitated, ensuring that volunteers make the biggest impact in the time they have available.
The only requirement from the volunteer is that they book a spot on one of our buses, arrive and hop on. Better SA does the rest.
The Hop on Hop off volunteer bus service runs every Saturday morning, between 8am and 12pm. When volunteers arrive at any of our bus hubs they are greeted by Better SA team leaders who brief all on the community and organisation being visited. Once at the organisation, each volunteer is handed a pack complete with a step by step guide on how to complete the activity and all supplies needed. Volunteers spend 90 mins at the organisation before boarding the bus and heading back to their cars. It does not get easier than that.
Volunteer activities range from teaching computer skills, playing educational games and typing up hand written CV’s for the unemployed to visiting the elderly, painting inspirational murals and environmental clean ups.”
As briefly mentioned above, Better SA is a service and a beneficiary of the My School, My Village, My Planet foundation that aims to connect volunteers / ordinary citizens (like you and me) to incredible volunteering projects around Johannesburg and Cape Town. They have actually been described as the “Uber” of volunteering in South Africa, which is just incredible.
Just one of the many reasons that I love Better SA’s service is how easy they have made it for people to get involved. Seriously. Go check out their website here >> https://www.bettersa.org << and see for yourself how simple the process is. Check out their calendar, sign up and simply meet at the collection point! Dead easy.
I think that (and I speak for myself here) so often we (as citizens) do want to get involved in helping out where possible but the process to get involved has been a genuine barrier to entry or a barrier to help, but now with a streamlined and simple process we have an incredible opportunity to get involved sitting right at out fingertips. Literally.
How can I get involved?
Again, it’s as easy as heading to https://www.bettersa.org/upcoming-events/ and signing up for the next event in the calendar. It’s literally that easy. Or as Better SA describes it: “The only requirement from the volunteer is that they book a spot on one of our buses, arrive and hop on. Better SA does the rest.”
Siyazingisa library revamp:
So no that you know a little bit more about how Better SA is improving the lives of South Africans in need and literally making our country a better place, let me tell you a little bit more about our morning spent revamping the Siyazingisa school library.
Firstly, we all met at the Better SA pick up point at the Mupine Golf Course in Pinelands and hopped into the Better SA shuttle. We didn’t have to bring anything other than our willing hands. When Better SA says that they “take care of the rest” they genuinely mean it.
When we arrived on site 20 minutes later, we found that Better SA’s ground team had prepped the library for us. Books were ready to be sorted, paints and palettes had been laid out, new furnishings were stacked outside the library ready to placed in and the whole structure just need the 10 of us to literally get stuck in and set everything up. So we painted, we packed and stacked, we put our backs into it for the children and within two hours we helped created a beautiful space for young minds to come in and soak up the invaluable information that a school library provides.
On a personal note; I loved the library when I was in junior school and I know that hundreds and hundreds of learners are going to rediscover that same passion I once had as a child in this new library. But I also know that even if only one learner falls in love with this space the same way that i did when I was a kid, then it was all worth it, and I’m sure that Better SA feels the exact same way.
Thank you Better SA for inviting me to take part in this initiative and to get my hands dirty. I can guarantee this won’t be my last experience with you guys!
Here’s a video of our experience and more pics below :)
With over 2000 passengers waiting to board the MSC Sinfonia you would think the embarkation at Durban port would be a tedious, but I assure you that MSC makes the process as efficient as possible. Welcome drinks, family boarding pictures and good music set the tone for the embarkation process.
The Balcony Suites found on the upper decks can offer some of the highest comforts on the ship during your ocean journey, like waking up to a morning sunrise with a light breakfast knocking at your door.
For those who love their sunsets, expect nothing less on the upper decks. So take pictures to you hearts content.
Tender boats to Portuguese Island can start early in the morning depending on the weather. Each passenger will be issued a ticket to determine when it’s their turn to leave for the island. This is definitely an exciting time for most as you get to see the entire ship at anchor.
Aside from the many shorex options available on the Portuguese Islands, the market truly is a beautiful sight to behold, a perfect place to get your loved ones a memento from the island. Just be mindful that alcohol and wooden items bought on the island are not allowed on the ship and will be quarantined until you disembark.
Lunch in the form of a ‘braai’ aka barbeque is made available by MSC to all passengers in lunch area on the island, so pick a spot and enjoy.
Sunbeds, Pools, Jacuzzis, and Water Parks; a great place to spend on a beautiful sunny day with your family or maybe you feel like relaxing by yourself and putting your feet up with book or cocktail in hand.
The Il Galeone, one of two restaurants found on the lower desks of the ship with a menu that changes each evening and options that cater for every palate. Expect a more formal style dinner seating depending on the ships theme day.
Spending lunch time with the Captain and his crew was indeed a special privilege, getting to knock elbows with those who keep the Sinfonia running.
A prawn carpaccio, with a lemon dressing and green salad were just some of the fine dining experiences we got to sink our teeth into.
Tropical Dance Parties, games and dance lesson are just some of the ways to have fun topside in the evening
The Manhattan Bar is the place to be, with crowd favourites like live music and bingo night; don’t knock it till you’ve tried because you might walk away with some cash. Find other places like the spa, theatre, coffee
Photo Credit: Seth Cairns
A big thanks to MSC cruises for hosting us on this wonderful voyage.
Summer depression! Yes, you know what I’m talking about. That feeling you get when you sit down at your desk on the first day back at work after an incredible summer holiday over the December period in South Africa. I promised myself more adventures in 2018 so within the first two weeks of being back in the office I joined my friend Ruth and her brother on their weekend trip back home to Haernertsburg in Limpopo Province. I have always heard about the mystical beauty of ‘Hburg’ with its lush vegetation, rolling grasslands, dense forests and the famous Ebenezer Dam on its doorstep. With that picture etched into my mind, I ventured north to discover its alluring personality.
Day 1: Morning
We woke up, prepared our gear for a day hike and then drove into town for a quick breakfast. A few more friends joined us from Polokwane and before we knew it, we all decided that a day hike was just not good enough. An overnight hike was now on the cards! Back to our base to fetch tents, sleeping bags and supplies for our night on the mountain.
Day 1: Mid-Day
Our destination was going to be the breath-taking 22 000 hectare Wolkberg Wilderness Area. It is situated just off the R21 south of Hburg and forms part of the northern Drakensberg and Strydpoort mountain ranges. All nine of us were now packed like sardines in the back of an old school Land Rover Defender and hit the road less travelled. We headed into the Wilderness while passing local farms, tall mountain peaks, deep gorges, expansive plains and crystal-clear streams. We had to remove ourselves from the vehicle on more than one occasion so that our designated driver could navigate our trusted steed up steep embankments and over gigantic potholes. We had our fair share of celebrations when those obstacles were conquered and we emerged victorious.
Day 1: Afternoon
After a bumpy and sweaty few hours, we finally made it to the base of Selara – the highest peak in the Wolkberg which stands at 2050m tall. We quickly setup camp and started our mountaineering expedition to find a ‘secret cave’ before nightfall. Ruth vaguely remembered finding a cave when she traversed these hills and valleys with her school class many years ago.
Zigzagging over the grassy plains below the escarpment, we managed to find the cave with much jubilation. All non – essential gear including our backpacks were left at the entrance as we soldiered on into the pitch-black cave with only our phones and headlamps to guide us. Hunched over and sometimes on all fours, we started exploring the narrow passages which lead into cathedral like openings within these natural wonders. The cool crisp air kissing our faces and the meditative sounds of the stream in and amongst our feet kept us in wonder until we reached a dead end and had to turn back.
Day 1: Evening
As the sun started to set on the lip of the rolling hills, the drinks began to flow and we started preparing our dinner for the evening. Gas stoves are so bourgeoisie so we used a collapsible paraffin stoves from 1980’s, and with food in our bellies we all sat crossed legged around the fire telling ghost stories and sharing our life journeys. It was pure bliss connecting with fellow nature lovers’ hours while being embraced by Mother Nature, hours away from any form of human intrusion. Okay we didn’t end up telling tell ghost stories but you get the picture.
Day 2: Morning
Misty clouds enveloped us as we started our hike to summit Selara. While en – route we found old discarded boots placed on an earth mound which was left for hikers to find. A conversation soon started about the person who walked a mile in these boots and the longer we looked at it, layer upon layer of meaning and perspective appeared. How magical this place is turning out to be!
Traversing the hills and valleys we found the jaw dropping Thabina Waterfall cascading down into the deep valley below. We sat in awe admiring its raw beauty and power while it quenched the thirst of the land. Leaving it felt like leaving a child in need of care but then I realised it was me who was the child needing Thabina to cleanse me with its life force. We eventually reached the summit of Selara in overcast weather so unfortunately we unable to experience the renowned views from the top but the journey was worth it nevertheless.
Day 2: Afternoon
We made our way back to Hburg, grabbed some lunch, hopped into the shower and started our 7-hour journey back to Johannesburg. I was full. For two days while we were out there all that I could think about was the following statement. It appeared so vividly in my mind and struck a chord with me… “When nature calls, heed the call”. So, heed the call and get out there and explore this beautiful country of ours. We are beyond blessed!
Kota Bharu is the state capital of Kelantan and lies in the state of Kelantan bordering Thailand. You will simply love this conservative and pretty laidback town. This is your chance to see some great museums, look at a traditional architecture and eat some delicious food. It is here where you will find the traditional side to Malaysia. You can book a hotel in Kota Bharu, and there are plenty of options available for all kind of travelers with different budgets. If you are looking for a hotel with all the latest amenities and excellent services, then head for Hotel Perdana Kota Bharu. Located near the market hub, it is easy to reach the local attractions from here.
There is plenty to do and see in Kota Bharu. The charming city boasts of palaces, museums, markets and many historic buildings. However, it is not possible to cover all, especially if you are here for a few days. So, read on to learn about those five things that are a must to do or see while here.
Streetart Gallery Visit the Streetart Gallery for a colorful display of street art. There are graphics of smiling locals, idyllic jungle scenes as well as the different scenes of Palestine suffering. Make sure you visit the Streetart Gallery where you will come across beautiful artwork. Stop by and click a few pictures of the Palestine war depictions, detailing on the carpets on the roads, and some great examples of a 3D representation.
Explore the night market which is immensely popular with the locals and the tourist for its Malay food. Some of the top favorites include ayam percik which is a marinated chicken on bamboo skewers. You will also love nasi kerabu, a nasi kerabu or murtabak, which is a pan-fried flatbread filled with meat or bananas. You can hang out here with your friends or simply look around. People are drinking iced tea and juices on those long tables.
Istana Jahar is one of the most exciting museums of Kota Bharu’. It is recognizable from afar because of those gilded roofs and brown and yellow shades. Built in 1887, the museum offers an insight into the life at the northern Kelantan state. The pentagon-shaped building is really intriguing. Take a look at the artifacts, photographs and traditional handicrafts that reflect the rich and sophisticated heritage of Kelantan.
Also known as Istana Balai Besar, the Grand Palace was built in 1844. Skilled local carpenters built the palace along Malay architectural lines. One can venture inside to see the throne and royal regalia. Today, the palace is used for important events and to host special occasions. The building has a kind of elegant architecture that is indeed unique and well worth seeing.
Kampung Cina is one of the initial Chinese settlements. Here you will find colorful outdoor markets and picturesque Chinese temple. This is the earliest Chinese settlement in Kota Bahru and the Chinese are known to have a long historical link with Kelantan. Today, Chinese live in cultural harmonies with other communities in Kelantan.
Apart from the spots mentioned above, there is still a lot more to do and see in Kota Bharu. You can walk around the downtown area or go to the beautiful beaches such as Irama Beach or PCB Beach. Shop for hand-Printed batik clothes, silverware and crystals, and gemstone. Kota Bharu is famous for its delicious Kelantanese food which is influenced by Thai and Indian style. Enjoy the unique cuisine and lots of goodies coffee shops. Drink coconut water from the fruit and then eat the flesh.
Australia has some great long drives between its major cities. Sydney to Melbourne via the Australian Alps, and Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road, are amongst the most scenic. But in the southern hemisphere winter months, one of the best drives on offer is the Bruce Highway from Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane, to tropical Cairns.
The Bruce Highway is about 1,700 km long (a little over 1,000 miles). It’s a good road and can be easily driven in 2-3 days, but to see the major places of interest along the way, you’ll need a minimum of 5-7 days for the trip.
Most of the major car rental companies offer special one-way rates for Brisbane to Cairns trips
Before leaving Brisbane, if you need any new travel bags or accessories, check out one of the four superstores of Luggage Direct, because once you leave Brisbane and head north, your options will be much more limited.
Take an esky (the Aussie name for an icebox) too in which to store water and snacks in case of any vehicle breakdowns. Although all the car rental companies offer roadside assistance along the entire route, there are long stretches between towns and in some locations it could take several hours for an assistance vehicle to reach you.
First stop Sunshine Coast
To see the most interesting places along the Bruce Highway drive, you’ll need time to take some short diversions off the main highway. Heading north out of Brisbane, the first diversion will be either the inland route through the Glasshouse Mountains and up over the Blackall Range through Maleny, Montville and Mapleton, or the coastal route along the Sunshine Coast.
The Blackall Range tourist drive takes you through picturesque villages in the hills, with many small arts and crafts shops, and some spectacular views to the coast from several lookouts along the route.
The coastal route through Buderim, Mooloolaba, Coolum and Noosa Heads passes surf beaches and shopping malls, but is still a picturesque drive. Mooloolaba and Noosa Heads have some of the trendiest restaurants and coffee shops on the coast, and are popular tourist destinations with visitors from southern Australia in the winter months.
If you have more a week or more to do the Bruce Highway drive, it’s worth overnighting on the Sunshine Coast so you can do both the Blackall Range drive as well as the coastal drive.
Before leaving the Sunshine Coast, it’s worth visiting the Eumundi Markets, which are just 500 metres off the Bruce Highway at Eumundi. They are open seven days a week and are one of the best markets in Queensland for handicrafts, organic foods and quality Australian souvenirs.
World famous Fraser Island
Heading north from Eumundi, the next major diversion should be to Fraser Island. This is the world’s largest sand island and one of Australia’s top ecotourism destinations.
Fraser Island has some of the best beaches in the world and many freshwater lakes for swimming as well. Wallabies can be frequently seen on the beaches, and sometimes the occasional dingo. There is a 120 km beach highway on the island and it is widely regarded as one of the best spots in the world for beach fishing.
A visit to Fraser Island requires a 20 km diversion off the Bruce Highway at Maryborough to Hervey Bay. From Hervey Bay there are ferries to the island, but only four-wheel drive vehicles can be taken on the car ferry. There is accommodation available on Fraser Island, but day tours from Hervey Bay are also available.
Hervey Bay is also the jumping off point for whale watching tours from July to November. The whale watching here is so reliable that most operators offer money-back guarantees if there are no encounters with whales.
After leaving Hervey Bay, it will be time to rejoin the Bruce Highway and head north again. This will be the longest non-stop stretch to drive on the trip. The Whitsunday Islands is where most travellers head to after the Fraser Coast, and the jumping off point for these islands is Airlie Beach.
From Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach it’s a 10 hour drive as it’s over 850 km. You’ll pass through the small cities of Rockhampton – a beef producing area – and Mackay – a sugar cane region. Rockhampton is about halfway, so if a 10 hour drive doesn’t appeal, an option is to overnight there in one of the 60 or so motels along the Bruce Highway or around the city.
Rockhampton has a large number of motels because it is usually the overnight stop for drivers who are attempting the Brisbane to Cairns trip in two days. An alternative is Yeppoon, a quiet coastal town about 20 km away, where there are motels and apartments available, albeit at a slightly higher price than Rockhampton.
The fabulous Whitsunday Islands
Airlie Beach is about 15 km off the Bruce Highway, 480 km north of Rockhampton. It is a popular tourist destination in itself, as well as being the town from which most of the ferry services and charter boats to the Whitsunday Islands depart.
The Whitsundays are one of the most beautiful island groups in the world and deserve as many days as you can afford to spend there. It rivals the Caribbean as a world-class yachting destination and there are many tropical resorts scattered across its 70 or so islands.
Whitsunday Island itself – the largest in the group – is where the world famous Whitehaven Beach is located. Whitehaven has been voted the best beach in the world by many travel publications because the sand is made of pure white silica which does not get hot in the heat of the day.
From Airlie Beach it’s a comfortable one day drive to Cairns – travel time is usually around 7 hours. The provincial city of Townsville is located halfway, so makes an ideal lunch stop. A short diversion off the Bruce Highway to Castle Hill overlooking the Strand provides some impressive views of Magnetic Island.
The tropical paradise of Cairns
The final stretch from Townsville to Cairns is through green sugar cane country, and arriving in Cairns you will feel like you are in the heart of the tropics at any time of the year.
Cairns is a major tourist destination in itself with many international flights from Asia. Often overseas visitors to Queensland arrive in Brisbane and leave from Cairns, or vice-versa, after doing the Bruce Highway drive in one direction or the other.
There are also direct flights to Alice Springs and other Australian capitals, so it is easy to fit Cairns into a longer itinerary.
Cairns is the jumping off point for snorkeling and dive trips to the Great Barrier Reef, and there is a beautiful hinterland that rivals the Sunshine Coast’s Blackall Range.
A round trip to Kuranda on the green tablelands behind Cairns – one way by train and one way by cable car – is a must, and the Kuranda markets are the best in Queensland north of Eumundi.
Port Douglas and further north
Although the Bruce Highway finishes at Cairns, it’s worth holding onto the rental car for a day trip to Port Douglas further north. This is a one-hour drive and one of the most scenic in Australia.
Port Douglas itself, and Palm Cove on the way, are exceptionally pretty towns with excellent restaurants and coffee shops right on the beach.
For those with more time to spare, driving north of Port Douglas takes you into the beautiful World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest and the ecotourism destination of Cape Tribulation.
The Daintree Rainforest is reputed to be the oldest rainforest on earth. There are many species of plants and animals here that can be found nowhere else in the world, and was described by Sir David Attenborough as “the most extraordinary place on earth”.
Night tours in the jungle, zip-lining through the rainforest canopy and crocodile-spotting tours on the Daintree River are just some of the things you can do here that will bring you very close to nature.
North of Cape Tribulation, the road is driveable only by four-wheel drive vehicles, so for most visitors this is as far north on the east coast of Australia as they will ever get.
The Bruce Highway drive north from Brisbane to Cairns, and onto Cape Tribulation takes you from modern cityscapes to ancient mountainscapes. It’s a drive you’ll never forget and one that you’ll probably want to do again one day.
Australia is one of those places that beckons to be road tripped. Being longtime lovers of camping, the great outdoors and road tripping; it’s a vast country filled with diversity of landscape, people and wildlife which we just have to see. This is an idea of what our dream road trip would look like in Australia.
Coupled with the fact that the winter months of May-September are the best times to travel and road trip through the Western Australia, North Queensland and Northern Territory and that Cape Town’s winter months are pretty miserable; this is when we would plan to visit Australia. Trying to brave the rain and humidity with kids does not sound appealing, neither does the super hot climate or fires.
What to travel in
We have always wanted to road trip around Australia with a camper van. Having grown up camping and caravanning, I am an avid lover of sleeping in a tent, staying in remote locations and being able to immerse myself in nature. Caravans are always trickier to drive and tow and more expensive to rent, but provide more mobility than a mobile home/camper van which you can unhitch from.
The other option I find appealing is the rooftop tent but this would be trickier with two young kids and would be highly dependent on the vehicle we rented once there. A 4×4 with a separate tent is of course the other options but would mean setting up camp with each stop which could get tiring but allow us to move around independently of our home.
While Vaughan is a huge fan of Google Maps and online navigation systems, I imagine that like many parts of rural and remote South Africa; these would only get us so far. When signal disappears, the phone is not an option; but a Garmin is said to do the trick when going slightly off the grid.
It’s been so long since we’ve used old-school paper maps, but I would definitely keep regional maps on hand if any of our digital maps failed us.
This will become a necessity when going off road, especially if you are traveling as a solo vehicle. If we ever found ourselves far from a town with two kids in the middle of nowhere ( a hug possibility), I would want this as a backup to be able to call for assistance. Especially if we are lost of our vehicle has broken down. One thing we always have on hand when road tripping anywhere; is vehicle insurance which includes roadside assistance. If the sat phone is too expensive, hiring one may be an option for the road tripping time.
A few road tripping routes we would like to choose from:
Gibb River Road, Western Australia
Broome to Perth Western Australia
The 75 Mile Highway, Fraser Island, Queensland
Sydney to Jervis Bay, NSW
The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Red Centre Way, Northern Territory
The Savannah Way, Queensland
Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Queensland
Sydney to Brisbane Drive, NSW & Qld
Instead of the Sydney to Cairns coastal, we would love to try this alternative East Coast Road Trip suggested by BBC Travel.
Things we would and wouldn’t leave behind
A solid backpack for day trips and exploration is always essential. As well as fitting our camera and tech equipment, it would be helpful to have when leaving the camp site for the day to store extra clothing, water, snacks and other necessities.
Just as travelers underestimate the cold, winters of South Africa, they do the same of Australia. With such diverse landscapes and climates over a vast space, temperatures will differ vastly between regions and also over the days and nights. So we would be sure to include rain macs, warm jackets, and really warm gear for cold days and nights.
National Parks are said to have great facilities in terms of showers, cooking areas and places to bbq, so this would mean we wouldn’t need to travel with portable showers, bbq grids etc and small plated stoves.
This March, we were invited to be a part of the Hi-Tec Garden Route Walking Festival. With trails on each day of the Easter Weekend between Great Brak and Nature’s Valley, walkers had a plethora of trails to choose from. Walks ranged from easy, moderate and strenuous perfect for every fitness level and group. Times and distances varied and while some were charged for, others were free.
Being 34 weeks pregnant and walking with a toddler we chose only easy trails with minimal inclines but were seriously surprised by how beautiful and unique each trail was. Here’s the list of walks we did each day during the walking Festival, a few of which you can still do when visiting the Garden Route:
Giraffe Walk at Giraffe View Safari Camp
This was a leisurely walk on this private game reserve situated in Wittedrift just outside of Plettenberg Bay. Guided by the owner, we circled part of the property learning about the land and the animals who live here. We didn’t spot a single giraffe, however we watched as horses, impala, bontebok, wildebeest roamed around. Amongst the many interesting wildlife facts shared, I discovered that termites in fact produce most of the world’s methane gas and not cows or zebra as many people imagine.
Contact Giraffe View Safari camp for a guided walk and/or stay on their property. Wear good shoes and take water and a hat. During the Walking Festival this walk cost R150 per person. Price and walk may differ outside of the festival. More info on the Guided Game Walk.
Karlander Kloof Circle
From the Karlander Kloof picnic spot I was told there are steep drops to gorgeous valley and beach ( the opposite side) below. As we had only signed up for easy walks, this had me a bit worried. But as soon as arrived and met our small party of walkers and our knowledgable guide, Kellyn from the Nature’s Valley Trust, she put us at ease and let us know that we would only be doing a fynbos walk in a circle on the top and not down the mountain.
This was a truly lovely walk to do with a toddler and those not keen on anything strenuous as Kellyn frequently stopped to chat about the various kinds of fynbos especially the main ones of proteas, ericas and restios occurring in South Africa and this region in particular. We stopped to smell, feel ( which Caleb loved) and marvel at various flowers, leaves and discover their traditional uses to the native Khoi San people. It’s true that nature produces the best patterns and colours which humans are often unable to replicate.
We were well rewarded at the end of the trail when we reached the viewpoint over Nature’s Valley Beach far below and cascading mountains to our left.
I would really recommend getting in touch with Kellyn from Nature’s Valley Trust to arrange a fynbos walk of this area as you’ll encounter abounding natural beauty and knowledge of our local fauna and flora, most of which isn’t found outside the Cape Floral Kingdom.
For families joining the Walking Festival this was an absolute highlight on Easter Sunday. Children and adults arrived in their private gear excited to trail along the otherwise deserted Keurboomstrand. This is a long beach with separate section separated only by rocks and sometimes fresh water lagoon water. From one beach to the next kids followed the private leader and his flag stopping at regular intervals for easter egg hunts and songs. Together everyone stood in circles singing the pirate song and digging in the sand for apples and easter eggs.
While Caleb was not really interested in wearing his pirate hat or eye patch, he loved taking in the beach walk action on his dad’s shoulders and joining in the dig at designated points. So if you have kids, don’t miss this walk come the next festival. Outside of the festival, I would encourage you to visit Keuboomstrand anyways. Park at the parking lot at Enrico’s restaurant and choose a little alcove of your choice. On a glorious day, this beach is true perfection set with rock pools, shallow streams of fresh water leading to the ocean and lots of sand to tan and play on.
The reason most people prefer minimalist front pocket wallets is that they are lightweight, slim, and easily accessible. The age of big, bulky billfold wallets are over and slim, functional minimalist wallets have taken over because they are a much better choice. They are stylish, practical and comfortable. Here 11 reasons to choose a minimalist wallet.
Slim minimalist wallets are thin enough so that you can carry other items in your pocket
You can put it in a side pocket or front pocket and carry other items in the same pocket. It could be a phone or other important everyday carry item. The slim wallet from Kinzd will help improve your EDC organization immensely.
They are good for your lower back
Hauling around loads of items in your wallet can affect your back. It’s no mystery that big wallets are a health hazard to the back. This is because there is a nerve in the lower back that controls and coordinates some of the muscles in the body; like your buttocks core and legs.
With a heavy wallet, you’ll be putting pressure on these muscles. Sitting on a big wallet can cause all kinds of body mechanic problems, an example is Sciatica.
Your cards will last longer in a front pocket wallet
Sitting on your wallet will cause your cards to look old and frayed. Getting a front pocket wallet will increase the longevity of your credit cards and keep them looking clean for longer. Because you’re not crushing your cards when you sit on the wallet, you won’t need to replace them frequently.
It’s easy to access your cards when they are in your front pocket
You no longer have to dig through your back pocket just to get out cash or card. Imagine being on a long queue and when it gets to your turn, you have to hold up the entire line just so you can rummage through your thick wallet.
If this has ever happened to you then welcome to the club. It is embarrassing and can be avoided by simply getting a minimalist front pocket wallet. The minimalist wallet size is the main reason is loved by many. You won’t need to carry useless items around and getting access to the things you need will be much easier.
They are trendy and presentable
You no longer have to be ashamed of your old worn out billfold. Many men today have been using their wallets for decades and have never really considered gettings a more modern wallet. With the minimalist wallet, you can be up to date and when you bring out your wallet in a public place, you will not be ashamed. Another good news is that it will not wear off as fast or as badly as a billfold and offers a more elegant representation of who you are.
Less chance of being a victim of pickpockets
If you find yourself in crowded places like the bus station or subway, you could quickly lose control of the situation around you and can lose your credit cards or personal information. But when you carry your wallet in your front pocket, crowded places will not be a problem anymore. Crowds can press up against you and there will be no feeling of pressure like you are under attack. The best thing about modern-day minimalist wallets is if you get one with an RFID blocker, electronic pickpockets cannot steal your personal information.
It brings you closer to a cash-free society
As the world moves closer to becoming a cash-free planet, there’s no longer a need for big wallets. As data gets digitized, and everything from business cards to receipts become accessible online, minimalist wallets are the way to go and the future of EDC.
Services like Apple Pay make it easy for us to make payments just by clicking a few buttons on our handheld devices. As payment gets more convenient and simple, you won’t need to carry much cash around with you. All you need is your minimalist front pocket wallet.
It is a more comfortable option
This is the main reason why most people choose minimalist wallets under their clothes: it makes them look better. The best thing about it is the comfort. It’s a very comfy choice and sometimes you could even forget that you have one in your pocket.
Truth is that subway seats, benches and bar stools are very uncomfortable to sit on and if you have a thick wallet in your back pocket is even worse. No need to squirm or be uncomfortable when you’re out and about just choose a minimalist front pocket wallet to ensure that you can eliminate every interruption or discomfort along the way.
Choosing a minimalist wallet will improve the way you look
This is a fact that many people cannot deny. There’s no comparison between bulky back pocket wallets and small front pocket wallets. Minimalist wallet literally removes any bulk and will not ruin your silhouette. This is especially true if you’re wearing skinny pants or jeans.
You no longer have to deal with a lopsided look even with tight clothing. Another issue is the long-term effect of bulky wallets on clothing. Eventually, the bulk becomes permanent and ruins the shape of your clothes
You don’t have to worry about taking out your wallet whenever you want to sit down
We have all experienced the discomfort of having to take out our wallets whenever we want to sit down. This is one of the downsides of a traditional billfold which you will not experience with a modern-day minimalist wallet. This becomes a risky habit which can be formed over time because of a back pocket wallet. But with minimalist front pocket wallets, the habit can be crushed for good.
Carrying a minimalist wallet helps you declutter
A lot of men forget that their wallets are not a storage bin for useless items. A minimalist wallet will help you declutter the space in your wallet and forces you to organize. You can throw away expired membership cards, old coupons, and receipts leaving just the essentials.
“The Land of Fire and Ice” as it’s known is fast and furiously becoming one of the hottest travel destinations and with it’s almost surreal beauty, friendly locals and endless opportunity for adventure it’s not hard to see why. Here are just a few reasons why Iceland should be on your travel bucket list.
1. Weird and Wonderful Landscapes
Iceland sits on the spot where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates collide resulting in some of the most fascinating geography you’ve ever seen. Expect eerie rock formations, long stretches of black sand beaches, feisty volcanoes and endless lava plains.
Copyright: Iurie Belegurschi
The best way to see these incredible vistas has to be on horseback where you can experience Iceland’s lush valleys and steep mountain terrains in a whole new way. Landmannalaugar made up of Rhyolite Mountains, lava fields, and the Hekla volcano; is a great spot for these horseback tours.
Some other must see spots include the Thrihnukagigur volcano where the brave can navigate the 120 meter drop to explore inside the cavern as well as Gullfoss Waterfall, one of Iceland’s many but most popular waterfall due to the sheer power of the stream and the natural beauty surrounding it.
Photo Credit: Richard Schneider (flickr)
2. Outdoor Adventures
In a country so defined by its natural wonder it’s a given that it would be crammed full of outdoor adventure for you to fully immerse yourself in. With a large landmass (103,000 km²) and a rather small population (334,252 people) Iceland lends itself well to thrill seeking exploration from mild to adrenaline pumping adventure.
You will never be closer to the raw beauty of Iceland than while hiking. Whether it’s along flower-filled meadows or black sand deserts and icefields the terrain is exceptionally varied and each with a magic of their own. Trails throughout the country range anything from an hour to a week and popular spots include Landmannalaugar, Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, and Skaftafell.
Photo Credit: Mark Bray (flickr)
Known for its grand glaciers and as being the ultimate winter wonderland there are of course a myriad of activities to enjoy on the icier side, just be sure to gear up in your warmest, and preferably waterproof, apparel.
If travelling over snowy landscapes and glaciers at top speed gets your adrenaline pumping then snowmobiling is a must and you should definitely put Skalafellsjökull on your itinerary.
Skiing and snowboarding are also popular activities and there are a number of venues arouynd Reykjavik, Akureyri, Hlíðarfjall and in the West Fjords.
Photo Credit: Yuan (flickr)
Iceland’s history of fishing, farming and gathering on a volcanic island in the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic has resulted in some very interesting traditional cuisine. Even though fermented shark or sheep’s heads may not be your cup of tea there are some very different although palatable dishes to experience like Skýr (yoghurt product) and rugbrauð (rye bread baked in a hot spring). Although still loyal to tradition there are plenty of fantastic restaurants offering modern, hearty meals perfect to end off a day of icy adventure.
Between April and October are best months for some of the most spectacular whale watching in Europe. Humpbacks, minkes, bottlenose and blues flourish in the fish-rich North Atlantic and Arctic waters around Iceland and during a tour departing from Reykjavik you can be 99% sure of a sighting of these magnificent creatures.
Photo Credit: Ted van den Bergh (flickr)
Bird watching is also a massive draw card for those visiting Iceland with a number of unique species coupled with stunning backdrops. Tours are also available to the seaside cliffs of Flatey Island that has its own colourful colony of puffins.
Photo Credit: Ted van den Bergh (flickr)
5. Live Music
The Icelandic love their live music and with music festivals running almost every month of the year including Dark Music Days in January and Secret Solstice in June there’s no excuse not to enjoy the local scene. On most nights you can find more intimate performances at spots like Harpa Concert Hall, Húrra and Mengi all in Reykjavik.
Photo Credit: Amy-Lou Lafontaine (flickr)
6. The Northern Lights
This beautiful and elusive natural phenomenon also known as the Aurora Borealis is a result of charged particles from the sun becoming trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field which gives the colourful, dancing light show we get to see on Earth.
Iceland is one of the best places to see this magical show particularly between September-April. There are many tours in Iceland offering the chance to venture into the remote countryside to spot the lights however if trekking in the cold is not your thing there is also the option of viewing them from a hot tub in one of the city pools.
Photo Credit: Modes Rodríguez (flickr)
7. Hot Pools
With geothermic waters hovering between 36-40 °C and picturesque snow-capped lava rocks everywhere you turn it’s no wonder Blue Lagoon is such a popular tourist spot and locals hangout. You’ll find it just a few minutes from Keflavik International Airport and known for its healing and anti-ageing properties with its sulfur and silica content its’s the perfect way to relax tired muscles after a day of exploring. Wherever you find yourself you can find a geothermic outdoor public swimming pool in almost every town so ask locals where the best spots are.
8. Experience the Midnight Sun
Being the country of extremes it is, Iceland’s seasons draw some interesting contrasts of their own. In winter you can expect long dark nights however come summer between June and August the sun barely sets before it’s up again. It’s a strange feeling and will take some getting used to but it does mean that there will always be enough light to get in as much sightseeing as possible.
Photo Credit: Peter Coughlan (flickr)
9. History & Folklore
Possibly my favourite part of this little country is the whimsy and folklore surrounding it. With a history tied very closely to the Vikings there are many activities dedicated to learning more about this fierce group of people who settled on Icelandic shores around 870 AD.
A little more unusual is the local belief in elves (huldufólk), or hidden folk, as they’re more commonly referred to. Although very strange to outsiders the belief is very much a part of the Icelandic culture. It’s not uncommon to spot small wooden alfhol (elf houses) in family gardens and there is even an Elf School in Reykjavik where you can learn all about the mystical creatures.
10. Glaciers & Ice Caves
With more than 4 500 square miles of glacier in Iceland there’s no way of avoiding these grand structures so take a walking tour along the glaciers or a self-guided driving tour of Ring Road, the main national route that circles the country. For the more adventurous at heart guided ice climbing tours are also available. Trained professionals will guide you every step of the way and provide all the gear so any level of climber can have this once in a lifetime experience.
While you’re there why not check out some of the ice caves usually found in and around glaciers. A number of movies have been shot from inside these crystal walls and they are even more stunning in real life.