here

Monthly Archives: September 2013

Our memorable journey through the desert

Our journey begins in the Namibian capital Windhoek…

After landing and the usual customs procedure, the real adventure starts. We are all excited loading our 4×4 vehicles, our hopefully reliable companions for the next days in the desert. We quickly leave the vibrant city life behind us and go en route towards the Kalahari Desert.

We hardly enter in the park and the first game, Gemsbok and Kudu, welcome the group on the road side. The Kalahari Desert, south-east Namibia, is well known for its red sands and red dunes scattered with grass and low bush.

A breathtaking sun-set and a sun downer before dinner at our first lodge, guarantees that everybody will fall asleep with a smile on their face.

Early in the morning we wake up to the sounds of a herd of buffalo strolling past the lodge on their way to the next waterhole. Before the sun rises we hop onto game drive vehicle for our first safari.

Sossusvlei_Sand_Dune_Namibia

Franklin, our ranger, shares his remarkable knowledge of the savannah, the Namibian flora and fauna. Our safari is followed by lunch in the bush in the shade of an acacia. This fantastic day ends with a traditional African dinner around the fire called Boma.

The second day begins with a big surprise : we manage to spot a group of lions, finishing a buffalo they obviously hunted the night before. Besides us, only a few eagles above in the sky observe this memorable moment.

The next morning we continue our journey towards Sossusvlei. We enter the largest nature conservation area in Africa. After a wonderful dinner at Sossusvlei Desert Camp we enjoy the unmatched clarity of the sky while star-gazing and recapping the uncountable impressions of the first days.

kalahari desert dunes namibia

Early in the morning we make our way to the famous dunes, the ideal timing to take some unique pictures of this amazing nature. The unique colour and ever changing shapes of the dunes accompanied by the dead trees, some are up to 550 years old, are simply breathtaking!
During our last night in the desert, we sit together around the campfire, speechless because mesmerized by the night studded with stars.

And try to forget that tomorrow, we will head towards Windhoek and say goodbye to Namibia… But not forever.

Top 3 best spa’s & wellness Lodges

The Twelve Apostles, rejuvenate yourself with ocean views

The view would definitely be the selling point of this hotel. What can be more exquisite than having the sea on one side and the mountains on the other? Its location makes this hotel very special and a great landmark.

You need to consider the mere 10 minutes drive from Camps Bay through one of the most beautiful areas in the Cape, is truly magnificent. Should you stay at the 12 Apostles you have to make a point of treating yourself to their Spa as it is one of the most incredible structures I have ever seen.
Plunge Pools, Spa Menu, 2 Mountain Gazebos, delicious meals and much more… all you need to thoroughly enjoy your stay and conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

So, in a nutshell, it’s romantic, elegant, chic and simply … breathtaking!

The Twelve Apostles spa blog

Royal Malewane: to soothe your mind in the heart of the savannah

A stay in the heart of the savannah in itself is wonderful therapy to relax and forget our everyday lives often, under high pressure.

Moreover, add to this the opportunity to be taken care of and relax in the hands of an expert masseuse with incredible views over the breathtaking scenery of the bush … we are not so far from ideal conditions, is it not?

Too idyllic to be true ? Wrong, because we have found the formula in achieving this harmony between the serenity of the bush and the tranquillity of body and mind: the Royal Malewane Bush Spa. It boasts comprehensive facilities which include a gym with wonderful views, sparkling heated lap pool, steam room, Jacuzzi, hot and cold African baths and private casitas for relaxation or treatments. Furthermore, you are invited to relax around the pool in the central courtyard and drink nutritious juices and snacks.

Royal Malewane Luxury Safari Lodge & Spa blog

Karkloof Spa, timeless wellness…
The ‘no-time’ concept… a must do! Yes at Karkloof, time does not exist anymore. After weeks of schedules, appointments and organization, you can finally totally unwind and be spoilt at your own rhythm.

And the no-limit concept to pamper yourself where you can enjoy 22 hours of spa treatments when staying for one night, just adds to the uniqueness of the Spa!

Enjoy your meals whenever you want and decide to benefit from the spa treatments you wish at any time that suits YOU or why not take a walk at your own pace in the mountains… it’s all about relaxed and personalised experience.

Karkloof, nestled in the wonders of the Midlands in Kwazulu Natal, offers beautiful and very spacious individual chalets, nice green/yellow hilly environment, a treatment list nearly without end (17 luxurious treatment rooms to highlight the breath-taking views of the surrounding natural environment !) and great food. Well in brief, everything to make sure you will leave the place relaxed and boosted.

karloof_spa_blog

Alison Alexander, Rainbow House of Hope

Interview Alison Alexander, founder and project manager Rainbow House of Hope

alison alexander rainbow house interviewWhat give you the impulsion to open a safety home for children?

Since the age of 16 I knew that I wanted to help children less fortunate. Throughout my adolescence as well as into my twenties, I was a Sunday school teacher, a junior youth worker, an educare teacher. Always working in townships and with children less privileged. Married in March 1984, my husband and I responded to an ad in the local newspaper where Communicare was looking for safe homes where they could place children who had been abused, abandoned or neglected. We were the only respondents to that ad and so started a life of our home becoming a haven to those who could not defend themselves.

The setting up of Rainbow House has been a catharsis for me and I know now I am driven by compassion and an unconditional love for all children whom I believe must be placed in the best possible care and environment that the community can give them. I believe God has birthed this in me and it is very hard to explain. I am also truly inspired by women like Mother Teressa, Catherine Booth, Florence Nightingale, Hannah More, Elizabeth Fry and Nancy Ward. If they, with little resources at their disposal could help millions throughout a hurting world, then so can I.

In 2003 I started my work with the Western Province Baptist Association, the house being given for childrens ministry, (it was first a place of safety to refugees), and that is how I came to realize my dream of a place of safety for children run by the community, totally dependent on God.

And this little girl made a big difference…

I can’t begin to tell you how many kids have been through our home. The youngest child ever placed with us was a two week old girl just before Christmas 1999. Her mother had left her with a bottle of neat alcohol and was sent to Karl Bremer Hospital. This girl, Zoe, is now our daughter and recently turned 13. Against all odds she has defied what medics say about FAS. Just as recent as last week her teacher says if she continues as she does she will be able to choose whatever high school she wishes to go to as she excels in athletics, gymnastics and swimming. She has passed every school year and is now in Grade 7. We adopted her with the view to making a lasting difference in one childs life.

Where did you find the money?

We never had a cent when we started. The house was available for childrens work, everything just fell into place with NO money! Donation after donation just came in whenever it was needed! I believe it is my absolute faith in God, whom I believe called me to this work at Rainbow House and I believe because God called me, he will supply every need of this home!!!

alison

What was the most incredible story you encounter at Rainbow house?

The most incredible story is of a 6 year old whose mom was a prostitute and who also used her daughter for sexual favours. That childs grandparents didn’t want her and left her on the steps of social services with a black bag with clothes.

To cut a long story short, after months we found out that she was abusing the babies who were staying at Rainbow House. When they would cry, and I would go into the kitchen to warm their milk, this little girl would slip into the room and beat the babies. We knew it was happening but we didn’t know who. The Social Workers wanted to lay a charge of abuse against me, but one night, everything just became clear and we caught her coming out of the babies room.

I told to the Social Worker I wanted her to stay and that we would find a counselor for her. Needless to say, everyone thought I was mad, but now almost 7 years later, that girl is a well adjusted young girl. She is with an amazing women who cares for her and she STILL spends holidays at Rainbow House! This is the kind of stories that never make the newspapers, but it is these stories that give me the strength and courage to keep on doing what I do!

Do you think that you will be at Rainbow for the rest of your life?

I definitely will!

About Rainbow House
Rainbow of Hope (Rainbow House) operates as a place of safety for abused and abandoned children.  The home was established in October 2007, and since then has obtained its NPO (Non-Profit Organisation) status. Since its inception, Rainbow House has cared for and facilitated the successful placement of 56 children.

More information or if you want to support, the website : Rainbow House

Edito 048 – Travel like a star

Travel Like a Star

Travel like a star…

Ok, but which one? Lennon? Churchill? Lady Gaga? Clinton? De Niro? Not Justin Bieber, right?!!!

First of all, like Stephane Hessel, I would like to express my deepest outrage towards Morgane and Arsène who drove this 48th theme.

Seriously. I find no interest at all in it. Only poorly placed ostentation. A lame sociable voyeurism. An anthem to the deadly sins. Fakes, Glitters and Vices…

Morgane and Arsène are certainly talented. No doubt. But young. And therefore influenceable. The spotlights make their eyes sparkle. They have been tracking the small habits of the celebrities who visited Southern Africa with excitement and even with itching thrill.

Stories about the places of residence of these “stars”, their favourite cocktails, the doorman’s gossips … everything engrossed their insane curiosity!

Even worse, Arsène had started an article on Miley Cyrus…
I told you…

So, once you’ve read through their paparazzi work and witnessed their youth weaknesses, I hereby encourage you to express, like me, your indignation. Even more, to seize this opportunity to rebel yourself against this immoral fashion trend. To strike against conventions. To unleash your power of decision. To travel with conscience. To travel with us…

But, let’s keep it short, I’ve got a Starbuck waiting with Charlize… We’re in September, back to work!

SC

Stars in Africa

What do Snoop Dogg, Clinton, Lennon, Bruni, Freeman, DeNiro and Ramsay have in common? They’re all famous, right, but not only! They all traveled in Southern Africa in the most luxurious hotels and lodges you can find. They did travel like stars.
In this month newsletter, we will tell you about their preferred hotels. From the dynamic city of Cape Town, to the remote wildlife of the Chobe National Park, with a stop at the incredible Victoria Falls, here are the most top-notch accommodations that Africa offers.

Stars in Africa

Just think about it… tempting right? Then why not try and imagine yourself like that with our special “Travel like a Star” itinerary?

Mount Nelson

Step back in time… luxury and style; you’ve arrived at the Mount Nelson Hotel. Unlike her sister hotel The Westcliff in Johannesburg, the Mount Nelson is right in the middle of the busy life of Cape Town, about 2 minutes walk from Long Street where all the night life happens. This iconic hotel remains the most famous of all in the Mother City and has kept its charm and character. Two colours come to my mind when I think of this hotel: Pink and Green! Their vast garden hosts treasures of nature. The background sets the perfect scenery for a memorable time. And what we especially enjoy is their renown Thursday evening, when all the ladies are cordially invited for a complimentary cosmopolitan. For others, it’s their afternoon tea. I have to say, I sometimes do both! Treat yourself to their Spa and enjoy their swimming pool. Yes, the towels are …. Pink!

One & Only

Cape Town’s first ultra-luxury hotel in ten years takes opulence to another level! Here, the urban sophisticate can feel at home in the heart of the Waterfront, famous for its sensational views, world-class shopping and entertainment. Even the Hotel’s cuisine is designer, with celebrity chefs restaurants Nobu and Reuben on the menu. The vibey Vista Bar is a hot and happening party spot but me, I headed straight to the Wine Loft to sample some rare South African vintages! Sumptuous, spacious and well serviced describes the hotel’s 131 rooms and suites. You will want for nothing, with a dedicated 24-hour butler, nightly aromatherapy turndown service and pillow selection menu. The contemporary decor has more than a hint of South African flavour with interesting local artworks and dark woods offset against plush fabrics and furnishings in warm earthy African tones. After a hard day shopping, my oversized bath and rain shower were most welcome as was the hotel’s fantastic Spa, an idyllic retreat situated on its own island!

Wolwedans Dune Lodge

The Dunes Lodge is perched on top of a dune plateau, overlooking panoramic vistas in all directions and capturing the beauty of the desert in a most memorable way. Building style is a combination of wooden structures and canvas blinds, opening up to the desert beyond. The lodge reflects the ambiance of a tented camp, but provides the comfort and protection of a permanent building. Each of the nine spacious chalets with en-suite bathrooms supports a private verandah, which connects you to vast stretches of untouched sand. Sleeping with your canvas blinds open is just like sleeping under the stars. The main complex consists of two lounges, a number of sundowner decks, a fireplace, a tea deck, a library, the wine cellar and two dining rooms. The variety of recreational space makes a visit both exciting and relaxing.

Chobe Game Lodge

As the only permanent lodge within the Chobe National Park, Chobe Game Lodge provides guests unrivalled access to all the natural beauty the park has to offer. Situated on the Chobe River, the lodge is as stunning as its surrounds and spared no expense in ensuring the stay is as comfortable as possible. I found the rooms the perfect combination of African culture and modern luxury, and the views breathtaking, yet tranquil. Recently refurbished, it now offers a wide range of handcrafted decoration and a beautiful and colored venue instead of a simple reception. With 47 rooms available the lodge is more than ready to cater to a family of getaway-seekers with a range of activities and facilities to keep everyone entertained. I loved lounging by the river and watching the traditional dancers and, of course, the lazy days spent by the pool. I also will never forget the game viewing, which is undoubtedly the main attraction here due to the abundant wildlife. It can be done in the traditional 4×4 or via a river cruise – both of which are perfect to evoke a deep appreciation for the timeless beauty of nature.

Royal Livingstone

Being situated on the Zambezi River, just upstream from the iconic Vic Falls, the roaring waters and rainbow infused mist of this natural phenomenon can be experienced from The Royal Livingstone. But to get a true feel for this famous wonder of the world, there is helicopter and microlite tours, white water rafting (some of the best in the world) and even bungy jumping! Maybe when I work up my courage. But in the meantime, I opt for testing the African fusion cuisine of the hotel eight restaurants. Relaxed, casual, formal, indoor and alfresco dining… Whatever your mood, there is an establishment and menu to suit. Next? The idyllic river-side spa… Decor is all about colonial sophistication and sumptous luxury. My spacious en-suite room has its own private verandah overlooking the river, and with its cool white linens, elegant furniture and Victorian-style bath, I feel pampered and indulged…just the way I like it!

Vamizi Island

I feel like I’m on the set of Robinson Crusoe, idyllic white sands, turquoise waters, shimmering sunshine, and then I’m introduced to the exotic exclusivity of my villa. Ridiculously romantic with its four poster bed swathed in undulating muslin drapes, rich wooden floors (over 170m2 of it!), sumptuous day beds, sofas, plush marble bathroom and private deck … this is a rare kind of tropical luxury and privilege. All thirteen villas lie on the shoreline with exquisite views that energise mind, body and soul. As do those from the thatched open dining room and bar where I ease into a sofa, sundowner at the ready. You’ll find some of the best deep see fishing and dive sites in the world here (along with PADI dive instructors). But for pure relaxation there’s yoga and the spa’s superb energy and body treatments. Me? I’m in a state of natural harmony already…

Singita Pamushana

The Singita Pamushana Lodge is nestled in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in south-eastern Zimbabwe and combines a life of absolute luxury and the untamed African bushveld for an amazing safari adventure. This 5-star lodge impressed me from the minute we drove up. It’s set against the magnificent Malilangwe dam and is made up of a myriad of beautifully designed thatch-roof buildings. With only six suites, the camp is very exclusive and the perfect spot for couples looking for a unique romantic setting, and don’t mind paying that little extra for the privilege. Activities at the camp range from the relaxing, like bird watching, Khoisan Art educational trips and game fishing, to the more exciting like game drives, black rhino tracking and more. I personally loved ending my days in the lodge pool, with a cold cocktail in hand and enjoying the magnificent sunset. So what’s my verdict? This lodge is just amazing and has made a major fan out of me. They will definitely see me again soon.

Royal Malewane

“The Royalty of the ThornyBush Private Game Reserve”, where luxury meets the wild, opulence meets nature, spacious yet intimate spaces, 5 star and personalized service, all of these words perfectly describes Royal Malewane. A place where one doesn’t only explore the splendour of the bush but gets to do it in style. Part of the Royal Portfolio, like its sister lodges (La Residence – Franschhoek,) no money was spared. The neo-classical style blends well with the bush, the suites boasts among their facilities, wooden decks, rim-flow pools and thatched gazebos, perfect to busk in the African Sun. You can choose to go on a game viewing activity with experience guide, or indulge in a Spa treatment, while the roaring sounds of African Wild, and birds keep you entertain, or how about indulging in the lodges “Chaine des Rotisseurs Blazon Cuisine” whatever you fancy, the Royal treatment awaits you…

The Palace of the Lost City

Should you like it or not, you can’t have been to the Palace without leaving with a strange feeling of surprise and admiration. When you think twice, remember that there was nothing at all and that this entire extravaganza has been completely created by a very imaginative mind… What makes me want to come again and again besides looking at the baboons from my bedroom window and the incredible breakfast are the details that I keep on discovering whenever I go. As soon as I enter the drive way your eyes have so much to see during your stay that it will make this place, one of the greatest on earth. It’s not a hotel anymore, it’s a resort, it’s an enchanting world that has been recreated for you. I’ve always thought to myself that if you had to go to Sun City, you should stay at the Palace and experience it with luxury and abundance. No wonder most of the stars actors, singers and musicians have been drawn here… curious of what it was all about. And I am sure you as well…

Oyster Box

Situated next to the historical and famous landmark, the Umhlanga lighthouse, The Oyster Box Hotel is one of South Africa’s best-loved and most distinguished hotels. Standing majestically on Umhlanga’s prestigious beachfront, with an abundance of colonial charm, sweeping views of the Indian Ocean, lush landscaped tropical gardens and direct beach access, the old world hospitality and gracious elegance is to be enjoyed by the guests. The place incorporate state-of-the-art technology to bring this legend into the 21st century, to satisfy today’s most discerning travellers who visit for business or pleasure. The stylish décor is an elegant combination of natural stones and woods; complemented by soothing, light colours and shades of the hotel’s beautiful surroundings. Guests and visitors will unwind in the distinctive charm of this grand hotel.

Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari meaning my friend in Shona, is the pinnacle of private game reserve and home to coveted Big 5. Stretching 25 000 hectares, over a malaria free landscape, it offers an award-winning nature experience and is one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa. Shamwari is a place where guests can exist in harmony with nature however fleeting the moment where wildlife freely roam the landscape under the relentless African sun. Shamwari incorporates 5 Lodges, 1 villa and 1 explorer camp; each one unique with its own essence. Lodges are designed in harmony with their surroundings where guests can experience nature in sublime comfort.

by Morgane Chaix & Arsène Lefevre

I had a (travel) dream

I had a travel dream

Duration of the stay:  11 days / 10 nights
Where: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia
Price: about ZAR 1 070 000 i.e. 80 000 Euros

Have you ever dreamed that one day you could be staying at a 5 stars hotel in a luxury suite? Have you ever dreamed that one day you could have your private chef? Have you ever dreamed that one day you could fly in a private jet? Have you ever dreamed that one day you could cuddle with little lions?

Have you ever dreamed that one day all this could be true? XO Africa makes your dreams come true. Yes, one day you will travel like a star.

The following itinerary was built on the footsteps of many international celebrities who went all around Southern Africa. You will discover the extravagance of Sun City, the wildlife of the Kruger Park, all the wonders around Cape Town, the Namibian Cost, the incredible Okavango delta and the beauty of Victoria Falls at the highest level of accommodation and activities.

Marek Halter said: “Dreaming of travelling is already travelling”. Let the dream begin…

Day 1

Once you arrived in Johannesburg in the morning, you will not even leave the airport. Just after your plane has landed, you’ll jump in a helicopter. Do not even bother caring about your luggage or visa, we have it all sorted out for you.
Enjoy the flight and relax. No you are not dreaming. What you see is real!

The palace of the lost city

After checking in the King Suite of The Palace of Sun City and enjoying lunch, let’s have a once in a lifetime experience. Predator World offers you a private guided tour of the place and an exclusive interaction with predators. Depending on the season, you will hold little lions or cheetahs in your arms. Be careful, let’s not get bitten, it’s not a dream!!

Day 2-3

Enjoy your breakfast. Then, you will be transferred to Rustenburg where you will pick up your rental car. Wait, did we say car? Oups we meant plane. This little bird and its two pilots will follow you for the rest of the trip.

roya malewane

Once on board, let’s take off to the Kruger Park where you will stay for two nights at the Royal Malewane. No time to rest, seventh heaven is waiting for you. We organize you a helicopter flight above Blyde River Canyon where you will enjoy a panoramic lunch before coming back to discover your room and the wildlife waiting for you. You have not only the best suite of the Lodge but also a private chef, a private butler, 4 massages per day and private game-drives. Speaking about game-drives, your ranger is waiting for you. Meanwhile, all the staff will prepare your Royal Suite.

On day 3, after your breakfast, you’ll spend the whole day in the bush. Do not forget your camera, the sun cream and all this stuff because you will not be back until the end of the day. At lunch, the lodge offers you a nice picnic in the bush. No sandwiches and no crisps but a real lunch prepared by the chef of the Lodge.

iti_day4-6

In the morning, pack your things. Say goodbye to Mother Nature and hello to the Mother City. Once you have landed, get in the limousine that will drive you to your hotel: the Mount Nelson.

Mount Nelson

In the afternoon, enjoy a private guided tour of Cape Town best places like the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and its cosmopolitan atmosphere, the colorful Bo-Kaap, the historic District 6 Museum or the chic area of Camps Bay. End the day with a private sunset cocktail on top of the 8th Wonders of the World: Table Mountain.

You will spend one of your most beautiful night in the Garden Cottage Suite. Have sweet dreams!

On Day 5, go back in the past and spend a lovely day in the Winelands driving around with a chauffeur in a vintage car. Try not to get drunk after the multiple wine tastings you will go through during your day. Even if you’re not driving! You will have the opportunity to discover various cellars in the geometric perfection of the vineyards surrounding you.

Your chauffeur will finally drop you off at the V&A waterfront where a bottle of Champagne will be waiting for you on board of the Tigger 2 for your private sunset cruise.

Cape Town

Wake up, have a good breakfast and get ready for a long and beautiful day! You’re about to discover the surroundings of Cape Town. You will be able to see the penguins play on Boulder’s beach, to appreciate the panoramic route of Chapman’s Peak. We are not dreaming up, you can take wonderful pictures there! Including the one with the sign of the southern point in the African continent at Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.

End your stay at the Mount Nelson Hotel (and in South Africa) with a private gastronomic dinner at the Chef’s Table.

Day 7

You leave South Africa, but the dream is not over. The next stop is Walvis Bay, Namibia. Right after the flight, enjoy the full-day Marine Dune Tour. You spend the day “where dunes and ocean meet”. First, you will sail on a catamaran looking for dolphins, seals and ship wrecks. Then you will drive through this dreamlike landscape and end your day with a dune bashing in the Namib Desert.

Walvis Bay - Swakopmund

The charming Villa Margherita will host you for the night in Swakopmund.

Day 8-9

Your private jet will bring you to the Okavango Delta in Botswana where you will experience an unforgettable stay in Abu Camp. Let’s start softly with a Mokorrho Safari. This is a unique opportunity to go close to hippos and crocodiles without disturbing them.

You have already spent time with lions or cheetahs. Now you will discuss with Cathy, Abu, Sherini and Warona. Actually they are elephants… You will walk with them and end the day with an elephant back-safari.

abu

When you dream, it is said that you are heads in the stars. Let’s make it real. Tonight, you will sleep under the stars and above the elephants. Forget the basic tent; we are talking about a large double bed on a wooden deck. You will definitely remember it.

How was the night? You have already done water safari and earth ones, what about an air safari? The camp offers you to see the wildlife from an airplane and you will try to find Cathy and her friends! After lunch, just rest before the evening safari.

Day 10-11

Last night, last country. Zambia is welcoming you. You will stay at the Royal Livingstone just in front of the Victoria Falls. Have a lunch like you never had on the Livingstone Island. On the afternoon, you can choose between resting with a massage in front of the Zambezi River and trying Extreme Jet Boating…or even do both!!

royal

Last but not least, let’s get high with the helicopter tour of the Victoria Falls before getting back to reality. A dream is not a dream if it never ends. But even if it is over, the memories will stay for ever.

It may be nice when a trip ends, but in the end, what counts is the trip itself. We hope that you enjoyed traveling like a star and that with us your dreams came true.

by Morgane Chaix & Arsène Lefevre