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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Top 10 Free things to do in Joburg (I)

Visit the Goodman Gallery

If you are a fan of contemporary art, or just art in general, then take a drive out to the Goodman Gallery in Parkwood. Housing artworks from artists such as David Goldblatt and William Kentridge, you can spend the day viewing some exquisite artwork, and maybe even learn a thing or two about art.

Details: Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday – 09:30 to 17:30; Saturday – 09:30 to 16:00 | 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg | Tel: (011) 788 1113

Visit the Circa on Jellicoe

With exhibitions such as Anthea Pokroy’s “I collect Gingers” (17 January to 2 March 2013) and the upcoming “Beautiful Boats” exhibition (9 February to 30 March), view and enjoy some South African contemporary art and marvel in the exquisite architecture of the Circa on Jellicoe, which represents a celebration of art within our beloved city.

Details: Opening times: Monday to Friday – 09:00 to 18:00; Saturday – 09:00 to 13:00 | 2 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg | Tel: (011) 788 4805

the Circa on Jellicoe Johannesburg

Hop on down to the Bunny Park

Enjoy a day out in the sunshine with family and friends at the Bunny Park in Benoni. Bring along some veggies, or buy some at the kiosk available, and hand -feed the tame bunnies and other animals like goats, cows and donkeys. And to make the day even more relaxing, pack in a lovely picnic filled with snacks and enjoy the great outdoors while the little ones track down bunnies, see peacocks show off their flamboyant feathers or (when available) go on camel rides.

Details: Opening times: Daily from 07:00 to 17:00 | Pretoria Road, Benoni, Johannesburg | Tel: (011) 422 3651

Nan Hua Buddhist Temple

Take a drive to the scenic temple of Nan Hua Buddhist Temple (the South African branch for the Humanistic Buddhist Order) to marvel at the divine architecture. Take the time to walk through the museum and view their large collection of Chinese artifacts. Visit the white Temple Lions (not real ones, obviously) that protect the temple, or admire a set of impressive antique Han Dynasty (dates back 2000 years ago) Chinese Palace gongs which are the exact replica of the originals.

Details: Opening times: 09:00 to 17:00 daily except Monday | 27 Nan Hua Road, Cultura Park, Bronkhorstspruit, Johannesburg | Tel: (013) 931 0009

Adler Museum of Medicine

If, like me, you are a fan of anything medical then take some time to browse through the history of medicine and developments in the medical world. Visit the Adler Museum of Medicine where you can see interesting collections representing the medical, dental, and pharmaceutical history through the ages. With hundreds of historical medical items, documents, philatelic and medallion collections and a library housing rare books, you can enjoy a day of browsing and learning. Regular public lectures, tours, film shows and exhibitions are on show at the Museum.

Details: Opening times: Monday to Friday – 09:30 to 16:00; Saturdays on request | Wits Medical School, Corner York and Carse O’ Gowrie Roads, Parktown, Johannesburg| Tel: (011) 717 2081

Read : Top 10 Free things to do in Joburg (II)

One of last wildlife paradises

The Kalahari is an arid area of 259,000 sq km, stretching between Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, a small part of Angola  and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Covered largely by reddish sand, it lies between the Orange and Zambezi rivers and is studded with dry lake beds. The Kalahari is one of the last african wildlife paradises.

Among animals which live in the region, we can quote:  brown hyenas, lions, meerkats, several species of antelope, and many types of birds and reptiles.

Kgalagadi_National_Park,_South_Africa_Oryx

Vegetation in the Kalahari consists of dry grassland and scrubby acacias. The grasses thrive in the Kalahari during the summer rainy season. African people known as the San (or Bushmen) were the first known human inhabitants of the Kalahari.

The Kalahari Park is located in north-west of South Africa. Remoted, with less tourists than the Kruger, for example, it’s probably a more relevant place to go for those who look for peaceful open spaces to enjoy the wildlife.

Exciting Crafts Alive event

Head through to the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market for their exciting Crafts Alive event.

The Bryanston Organic & Natural Market is Johannesburg’s original outdoor market. When you visit our market, you will enter an environment where the emphasis is on quality hand crafted goods, unique art and photography, clothing made from natural fibres, a deli filled with rich, wholesome foods and, of course, fresh organic and naturally grown produce

What is Crafts Alive?

Crafts Alive is a rich pageant of creative expression, festive fun and artistic flair! An opportunity to showcase the amazing talent that abounds at the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market, where artists and crafters have been nurtured for the past 36 years in an holistic, supportive community environment that allows them to prosper and express their gifts.

The Bryanston Organic and Natural Market Crafts

When is it happening?

Crafts Alive starts on Thursday 21 March and runs until 30 March, and includes both Easter and the school holidays. The market is open each Thursday and Saturday from 09:00 to 15:00 and so there are four market days during the Crafts Alive pageant to enjoy all the exhibitions, interactive workshops, show-&-tell displays and plenty of children’s activities on offer.

What is there to see and do?

Live and interactive demonstrations will happen all day throughout the market and include stone masonry, pewter moulding and sculpturing, flame-worked glass beads, glass polishing, jewellery making, bead and wirework, wool spinning, creating pottery on a potter’s wheel, painting, woodwork, embroidery & crochet classes, shoe making, design & making of 3D greetings cards, knife making forge, and much more.

The artists and crafters will not only be demonstrating their arts and crafts, but will spend time discussing the processes used, their choice of materials and designs, and offer handy tips for DIY projects.

Plus, don’t forget to enter the Customer Lucky Draw taking place each day!

There will also be lots for the little ones to do on the day so make sure you head through for a day of fun arts and crafts!

Children’s Activities

21, 23, 28 and 30 March from 09:00 to 14:00:

Funtastic Arts & Crafts – R40 per child
Wool Felting – R40 per child
Ceramic Painting – from R60 per child
Bead & Wirework – from R30 per child
Candle Making – R30 per child
Sand Art – R20 per child
Gemstone Scratch Patch – R20 per child

Saturday 23 March from 09:00 to 14:00:

Origami Workshop – projects range in complexity and price from R10 to R65.

Thursday 28 March – 11:00 to 12:00:

Spellbound Puppets – puppet show free of charge followed by a puppet making workshop at R45 per child.

Website : http://www.bryanstonorganicmarket.co.za/

Matobo Hills, unique and astonishing

Zimbabwe is undoubtedly a great destination place to discover, rediscover and experience.

Personally I like rough it a bit and go off on the beaten track. For me the Matobo Hills are magical.

I love its otherworldly landscapes, specially i would recommend you to don’t miss the «mother and child kopje», because it’s probably one of the most unique landscape in Southern Africa.

The Matobo Hills also have one of the highest concentrations of rock art in Southern Africa.The Hills are a natural reserve as well with an abundant wildlife.

Matobo Hills Zimbabwe

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Matobo Hills is situated only 45kms from Bulawayo.

You can stay at one of the rest camps which are rustic but comfortable. My personal preference is to indulge myself at the Amalinda Camp, a beautiful lodge where you enjoy walking safaris, spa safaris and many other activities.

At Camp Amalinda you’ll experience the spit of Africa in the sensitive and exquisite beauty of the Matobo Hills.

By Christian Dettori

Are you able to switch off?

On rare occasions for me. This may disappoint many…

However, there is a place that allows me to instinctively escape from the daily pressures: the Bush, Savanna and Wilderness.

South_Africa_Bush_Entabeni

First, once in the bush, there are the scents. Warm, amber aromas of dry grass, of the spicy dust… sometimes sweet … sometimes strong and musky.

The wind also plays its role, carrying along the sound of some distant hornbills, of branches cracking under the strength of an elephant, of the so peculiar neighing of the zebra, or the captivating chirps of these insects that are so well camouflaged around you.

These first sensations are flowing through my veins such as warm air that I happily swallow like vitamins, finally letting my mind find peace.

And then comes the moment when we become aware of this environment… Back on earth, already revitalized. Eyes searching, observing, considering, contemplating, and enjoying…

Am I spoiled? Animals are now only the icing of a cake I’ve already eaten…

Such as our 43rd newsletter, it is not simply of Safari that we’re talking about here. This is Africa, with all its senses and sensations that we propose you to discover.

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A Typical Day on Safari

A Typical Day on Safari. What you will get up to while on safari

Here is a rough guideline of what to expect on Safari in the Kruger National Park for example :

05h00
Wake Up! Wake Up! … It’s an early start.

05h30
Meet your ranger and tracker for early morning tea and coffee before heading out on safari, typically on open 4X4 safari vehicles. The best game viewing is to be found first thing in the morning and the anticipation is half the excitement! You could meet a herd of elephants at a drinking hole, observe a herd of shy impala or get up close with a pack of lions…it’s all up to chance!

09h30
Safari vehicles start returning from the game drives and you can enjoy a sumptuous and well-earned breakfast!

11:00
Depending on the season and the rules of the reserve, many lodges offer a Safari Walk with an armed tracker. This gives you a chance to concentrate on the smaller wonders of the Kruger National Park such as insects and birds. The tracker will tell you fascinating stories of the bushveld as well as the traditional cultural and medicinal properties of trees and plants. After your walk you will have a chance to relax and unwind or enjoy a swim to cool down from the relentless African sunshine.

13h00
A delicious lunch is served. After lunch there is more time to relax and soak up the splendour of your surrounds.

Lion-Timbavati-Game-Safari

16h00
As the African sun begins to ease away and shadows start to form across the bushveld, guests and rangers meet for afternoon tea before the evening Game Drive.

16:30
Safari Time! You will head out on your second Game Drive for the day with a majestic African sunset as the backdrop. The animals become more active again and the nocturnal animals get ready for their hunting. Your ranger will be driving the vehicle and the tracker is up front looking out for tracks and spotting the animals.

18h00
As the sun sets the ranger will pick a good spot for a sundowner where you will pause to watch the sunset and enjoy some cocktails and refreshments. A real safari tradition!

18h30
As it starts to get dark, the tracker and guide use a powerful spotlight to catch sight of the animals. The animals eyes reflect in the spot light and the ranger and tracker will concentrate on finding the nocturnal animals such as Leopards and sunset hunters such as Lions.

19h30
The timing of dinner is determined by the activities on safari! If there are things happening and lions hunting – your dinner will wait. A chance to freshen up before dinner

20h00
Dinner Time. At most lodges, there are a number of places to enjoy dinner at the lodge and weather dependant the camp manager will select the perfect venue. Your ranger usually joins you for dinner and the camp fire stories have been known to continue into the early hours! The more luxurious lodges offer you the choice of having dinner in your room. And finally you get to retire to your suite for some peaceful sleep before the next exciting day!

Let’s step into the magical bush

For me, the bush is a magical place and it seems that with more than three decades in the safari business, Sabi Sabi hardly needs to impress anybody.

So, off we go, flying out from Joburg’ to Nelspruit in 50 minutes and taking less than two hours to enter Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, situated in the world-renowned 65000 hectare Sabi Sand Wildtuin in the South-Western section of the Kruger National Park.

Our first impression of the Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge was at sunset, furnished in plush colonial style.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

Kindly greeted by our host with a welcome drink and some refreshing towels and giving us the planning for the next two days.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge Lounge Area

In contrary to my normal week days for work, when I am in the Bush, the best time of the day is the early morning. The sound of the alarm going off is never a pleasant one but once you have switched it off, you know that what awaits you is worth getting into your safari gear.

The taste of coffee is the second push into the dawning of a new day and sitting on the deck at Bush Lodge looking out at the mist covered bush just leaves you awestruck.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

After dinner and some “bush stories” from our head ranger, we believed that we could walk to our rooms on our own, until the ranger kindly reminded us with a smile that he spotted three Hyena’s close by not so long ago.

Richard, our ranger asked us what if we were hoping to find something special during the Game drive. “ we have no expectations” we answered… Let’s see tomorrow…

Read part 2Our exciting safari day in a game reserve on the edge of the Kruger National Park

By Fleur Kimmich & Cécile Castoldi

7 tips to enjoy your safari

1/ Bring with you warm clothes.
Always take a fleece and a scarf, among others. Surprising? Yes it is Africa, it’s hot, the sun can be relentless … but do not forget the freshness of an early wake up and a game drive in an open 4×4 ! So take these along to protect you against the biting morning cold… and a small thermos of coffee. This impression of cold will quickly dissipate with the rising sun, trust us.

2/ Take your time
A safari can the fulfillment of a dream and undoubtedly the the main highlight of your trip. So it would be a pity not to dedicate enough time and give you the best chances to see the greatest number of animals. Therefore we advise you to stay at the same lodge, in the same park or reserve for at least 3 nights to get the most out of your safari experience.

3/ Spend at least 2 nights in a private reserve 
A self-drive safari is a bit like reading a “book in which you are the hero” (those who have children understand …!). However, a deep learning of the bush, recognizing and understanding the animals of the African wildlife in the company of a professional ranger is, from our point of view, an experience not to be missed. Not to mention a personalized service provided by an attentive staff that will maximize your enjoyment, especially if you are travelling with children.

Game-Drive-South-Africa-NL43-tips-safari

4) Live in harmony with nature
Be aware, forget lazy mornings in safari ! The best time, indeed, to see the animals and especially the famous Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) is at sunrise and during the last hour of sunlight. But you will quickly adapt your rhythm with mother nature’s one. This will also grant you some good breaks during the hottest hours of the day… have a swim in the lodge’s pool for example…

5) Observe the speed limit
Respect the animals you came here to see. Then, to give you the best chances to see as many animals as possible. Believe us, you can drive pass an elephant without noticing its presence in spite of its mass. Finally, it’s all about your and your children’s safety. Hitting a hippo can cause heavy damages. The common speed limit is 50 km/h on tarred roads and 40 km/h on all other roads and tracks.

6) Stay calm, animals don’t really care about you
A lion is approaching your car? You come across a herd of elephants? A buffalo is sitting right in the middle of the road, determined not to move and preventing you from driving on…? In all circumstances, keep cool and stay calm. Animals are used to cars. Never make any sudden movements, shout or make abrupt maneuver with your car. They will always get out of the way 😉

7) Be in the right place at the right time
We saved you the best and maybe the most difficult for the last as it’s not really in your hands : be in the right place at the right time 😉 Remember, animals are in their natural element and actually wild … so be armed with patience and also count on your lucky star.

Sabi Sabi, timeless safari

During our stay in the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, one of the most prestigious in South Africa and ideal for observing the african wildlife, we also visited their different lodges.

Here’s what we thought and our advice :

On the theme “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, we started our site inspection with “Earth Lodge“,  or the “Tomorrow” side of the experience. It seemed to us that they intended to build a thoroughly modern lodge for the new millennium. To this end, the entire lodge looks as if it has been built into the earth, with one of the most spectacular open-air entrance foyers in Africa.

earth-lodge-suite-xo-blog-NL43

Original and reasonably priced Little Bush Camp offers six luxury rooms on a dry river bed, we found it very intimate and cosy for the “today” experience.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

Alternatively, the elegant eight-unit Selati Lodge is a pleasantly refurbished former hunting lodge, named after the famed turn-of-the-20th-century railway line that ran through the area, and decorated with vintage railways antiques, and old sepia-tone photographs. It falls into the encapsulated “Yesterday” experience with a romantic twist.

Sabi Sabi Selati Lodge

Safari, our checklist to get ready

This is your first safari?

You’re hesitating: which clothes to take? Rather with stripes or khaki? Dark or light color? No idea at all ?

Well, we can assure you right now that, first of all animals do not pay much attention to your look (although some colors may attract or annoy them more than others) and secondly you do not go to a fashion contest… So let’s keep it simple and useful to make your safari the most enjoyable.

Besides your clothes arises the inevitable question of what equipment to bring so you don’t miss a single piece of the show.

Here is our checklist before going on a safari trip so you’re 100% ready on “D day” :

Safari Check List