Posts in Travel

The Instagrammable Places to Visit in Bali

Hun, I’m back in the Mother City after a full day of travel and I must say that the long flight from Cape Town to Hong Kong was not a selling point for me.

I had an economy ticket, as I usually do, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt strange about having to pay more for seating that would kill me first if the plane crashed. A crazy rational to be budget-savvy, I know, but the only thing that I would really have loved about travelling in business class is the chance to stretch my legs – wow. I’ll never underestimate the luxury of being able to lie flat again.

Although, because I was travelling on my own and managed to hop onto flights that were completely full, I was lucky to have empty seats next to me, which allowed me to raise the armrests and lie down – as if I was in business class. I was well-rested when the plane landed.

Also, since I’m vegan, I’d requested that all my flight meals be adapted to my diet and Cathay Pacific did not disappoint. I had fresh fruit and hot meals that had a balance of protein and carbs. The snacks were roasted peanuts and they also had non-dairy milk and butter but I was too sceptical of the milk and butter to try it. I find myself nauseated when I drink anything other than water on a flight (black tea being the worst) so I stuck to bottles of water throughout all flights and drank more water than usual so that I was fully hydrated during the flights. According to a physiotherapist featured in Marie Claire, you can lose around 2 litres of water on a flight due to the change in temperatures and I wasn’t about to take that risk I ensured that the flight attends kept the bottled water coming.

Dehydration can cause skin irritations, sunken eyes, dizziness and other not-so-cool symptoms that should never have to experience, much less while on holiday.

Enough about the flight and more about what I got up to in Bali.

Watch this video of my tour to some of Bali’s most Instagrammable locations:

All my experiences were booked via Airbnb and I was really impressed with how professional and insightful the hosts were.

Here are the Instagrammable places mentioned in the video:

1.Tukad Cepung Waterfall

This was by far my favourite place to visit. It’s a bit of a hike to the waterfall so wear comfy shoes and a change of clothing if you plan to take photos near the waterfall. This activity was free and if you’re living in Ubud, it should be quite easy to get to.

Instead of hiring a car from your hotel, download the Grab app, which is like Uber in Indonesia. The rates are more affordable and if you’re up to riding a scooter as I did, you will save even more Rupiah and have a scenic experience, riding through the city.

2. Coffee Plantation

Another free activity here. You don’t even pay to taste the teas and coffees. They only ask that you buy something from their store and of course, you aren’t obligated to but I loved the teas so much that I bought a few, which were each R100 per 100g pack. If you decide to buy tea or coffee, remember that that the product will be ground into a powder, which is easy to consume anyway.

3. Tirta Empul Temple/ holy spring water

When visiting any of the temples, go early because these are the most popular tourist attractions in Bali. I had actually intended to visit the Gate of Heaven but by the time I returned from the coffee plantation, my tour guide said that we would have to queue for hours to get the building and I didn’t want to do that.

4. Tegalalang Rice Terrace (Jungle Swing)

A Jungle swing is a must-do activity when you’re in Bali. There are lots of swings throughout the island but the Rice Terrace Swing is the most scenic. You will have to pay 200K IDR for to use the swing and if you want to wear a flowy dress for an IG worthy photo, it’s 200K IDR extra.

Do you have any questions about these locations or my time in Bali? Drop me a comment in the section below and I’d be happy to continue the conversation over there 🙂

Bucketlist budget holiday for adventure travellers

Is it just me or are more people leaning towards self-help holidays these days?

Not that I’d deny an all-inclusive vacation, every once in a while, but with access to the internet and more companies adding convenience features to their products, self-planned trips have become quite popular, and are way more affordable.

One particular holiday that I’ve just added to my bucket list is a self-drive boating holiday.

Firstly, when yacht life came to mind, I thought expensive, overpriced, I can’t afford it… That was before a sweet travel-loving PR lady, working for the Moorings, invited me to hop aboard a luxury catamaran, and informed me of the range of boating options available for family holidays, girls’ trips, and honeymoon adventures. It’s called Le Boat.

Imagine sailing through Europe, from about R12 000 per person. I know, it sounds bizarre – really affordable and totally doable with this self-drive boating service that’s been in existence for over 50 years.

Watch me hop aboard one of the pricier boats, fully equipped with a kitchen, two bathrooms, showers, double beds, oven, and a deck area, here.

Why a self-drive boating holiday is a good idea:

  1. You get an authentic local experience while travelling through local towns along your journey and this also works out to be budget-friendly as you aren’t having to spend big city prices on food, sights and entertainment.
  2. You’ll have easy access to destinations such as France, Italy and Holland with incredible natural beauty and lip-smacking food.
  3. You don’t need a driving licence for your boating holiday on nearly all of Le Boat’s cruises.
  4. You also don’t need to have any boating experience. When you arrive at the base, you’ll receive an in-depth briefing on the boat, from which knots to use to how the oven works.
  5. The boats can accommodate up to 12 people to suit your budget and group size.
  6. You’ll have to budget for fuel, service fees, water and travelling to the base; but once you’re on board, the boat is basically your home – accommodation and transport sorted!
  7. It’s an interesting and different way to experience a country. Imagine passing vineyards in the heart of the Languedoc wine region, stopping along the way for wine tasting, and sightseeing medieval villages and ancient fortress cities.
  8. Have I mentioned that it’s more affordable than catching a flight and booking a hotel?

If you’re ready to cross boating-holiday off your bucket list, head to the Le Boat website to view their early bird specials for 2020 😉

Also, follow me on Instagram, where I share event coverage via stories first, or subscribe to my Youtube channel to binge-watch my travel vlogs.

GIVEAWAY! Win a night for TWO at Dolphin Beach Hotel

Do you need a break?

Everyone should get to take a little break away from their routine once in a while and spend it in nature.

Relaxation does wonders for the body and mind. You can literally add years to your life if you get enough rest. But not all of us can take an overseas holiday or even a full weekend break at that.

This is why I love coming to Dolphin Beach Hotel in Blouberg. It’s not far from the city but far enough from the bustle to offer complete serenity.

Wake up to the scent of the ocean, scroll through the perfectly manicured gardens, pop over to Blowfish Restaurant for a breakfast, dinner or sushi, and best of all, walk out onto the beachfront, mere steps from the hotel.

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dolphin beach hotel, be whole, giveaway

Sometimes the most beautiful adventures are lurking right under your nose. You don’t need to be long-flights away from home to feel a little free. That’s the beauty of it.

I remember my first night at Dolphin Beach so vividly. I could smell the sea breeze from behind the thick drawn curtains that darkened my room so much that not a peep of light could disturb my sleep.

Strangely, I could hear the sound of waves breaking against the shore but no sound from the hotel’s side – not even from staff or guests passing by my room.

You’ll never know how refreshing a short break can be until you check-in and experience it yourself. This is your chance to enjoy the downtime you deserve. 

When’s the best time to stay?

A seaside stay, even in winter, is an awesome experience. Winters at Dolphin Beach are rainy and windy but still quite scenic. It’s the kind of place you could go to write a book. It holds a warm atmosphere right from the entrance regardless of the weather.

Summer stays are of course the best for hopping out of bed and walking to the beach after breakfast.

What are the rates like?

The style of the hotel is really nautical and cosy. It’s a white-linen pants and sandals destination rather than a suits’ hub, even though checking-in on a business trip would make your time in the Mother City more memorable.

You can view the pricing and availability on the hotel’s website, here.

dolphin beach hotel, be whole

Why should you win this prize? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below 🙂

Terms and Conditions: 

*Entries open to South Africans only.

You must have a valid driver’s license or ID for the chance to win.

One winner will be notified via email on 8 December 2017.

The prize – one night’s stay for two will be valid to the winner for one year from the announcement date.

Only the original winner can redeem the prize unless an alternative has been arranged with the hotel manager.

The winner must arrange a suitable stay-date according to the availability dates provided by the hotel.

This prize excludes any amenities not mentioned in this blog post.

Entries closed.

Congratulations Abdul Khalfe !!!

 

Road trip through the world’s longest Wine Route: Route 62

Grab some snacks, your camera, a buddy, and take a drive through Route 62.

You won’t be sorry.

If you’re looking for a cosy, affordable destination to escape to – not too far from Cape Town, stopover in the quaint town of Montagu.

The town is absolutely peaceful.

Shops are closed on a Sunday, there’s no rush to go anywhere – the people are friendly, and you can find  some genuinely mouthwatering healthy snacks at the markets.

Nothing beats catching wind on the back of a bakkie; getting to drive through messy puddles, sifting through heaps of vintage treasures, and taking home the bulk of the town’s specialties. Home baked biscuits, nuts, biltong, dried fruit and wine, wine, wine – is what you’ll find lots of at low cost, along Route 62.

One disappointment; I curse Cape Town’s coffee shops and restaurants for treating me to variety – unless you’re planning a sit-down at a restaurant for coffee, the most exotic option you’ll find is a Cappuccino with full cream milk. No Chai Lattes, no soy milk or honey substitutes, not even a decaf Cappuccino to go (to be found), anywhere from the N1 to Ashton. I packed my almond milk for the weekend, in case I wanted to have some Oats for breakfast at Montagu Springs Resort.

The self-catered experience

Who doesn’t love waking up to a rich breakfast in the morning. Staying over at a place that doesn’t offer breakfast can sometimes be inconvenient, especially if you’re trekking to the middle of nowhere. I love traveling light so I usually ensure that wherever I go, there’s a place to grab breakfast nearby. This is why staying at Montagu Springs Resort was perfect. While the resort is a fully self-catering venue, we could walk (but chose to drive) to Main Road, where restaurants and grocery stores lined the streets. There is also a superette just outside the resort where you  can find the essentials like tea, bread, milk, and biscuits.

At the resort, there are three swimming pools, one heated – it’s like getting into a bath, except that it’s outside, surrounded by greenery and mountains. There’s also three tennis courts, lots of space to braai, a huge playground where kids can jungle gym, swing, and run around, and bicycles for hire (at about R30 per hour). Avalon Springs is right next door with a restauarant, two bars, a spa, and the natural mineral springs. We popped into Avalon Springs but didn’t use any of the facilities so I’m not too sure whether it’s any good.

Our chalet was spacious and cosy. We checked into a Josmont Heights Chalet, which had a private deck with a braai place, a walk-in bathroom, a fully self-catering kitchen with cutlery and crockery, and a glass door in the main bedroom, leading out onto the deck. Waking up to the sound of birds, spotting the greenery and towering mountains, is definitely worth the experience. This is not a luxury resort so don’t expect percale linen or fancy furniture. Check out the resort pricing and chalet specials on their website for more information and photos.

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The drive Through Route 62 and using GPS

You don’t really need GPS for this road trip, it’s pretty straight forward. The road is long and scenic, something a writer like me finds inspiring. The towns you’ll pass through, if you’re travelling from Cape Town, and let’s stay, stopover in Montagu, are Paarl, Worcester, Nuy, Robertson, and Ashton. There’s more than enough to explore on the way there and back.

We’d planned to go hiking in the mountains, a few steps from our chalet at Montagu Springs; we wanted to cycle through the town, enjoy a Saturday lunch at one of the restaurants but we just didn’t have enough time. At leas three to four full days to absorb the atmosphere – to really explore all that Route 62 has to offer, would have sufficed. If not more.

Here’s how to get to Montagu from Cape Town

Roadtrip essentials

  • Water
  • Cash or credit card for e-toll gate
  • Sunnies
  • Warm clothes or blanky
  • Padkos (road trip snacks)
  • GPS or road map (if you must)

Montagu is just over 2 hours drive from Cape Town and there are quite a few pitstops along the way where you can refuel, refresh, and take lots of photos.

What has been your best road trip yet? I’d love to hear from you. Pop me a comment in the space below or email me directly to robyn@bewhole.co.za

 

 

 

5 Instagram quotes that prove how travel benefits you

 

There’s a traveller in all of us. We’re all born with curiosity for  the unknown. Whether we’re stepping out onto our front lawn, or hopping onto to a plane to a foreign destination, we’re travelling, discovering, learning and changing to adapt to our surroundings.

Do you want to see the world but feel that you have too many limitations? Read through these 20 Instagram quotes that will lead you straight into action:

It broadens your understanding of other people

You will never understand the true meaning of your life until you travel and experience how others are living theirs – anonymous

A photo posted by Jeremy Webb (@jww_25) on

You become less critical and intolerant

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.  – Mark Twain

You create memories that will last a lifetime.

Jobs fill your pocket. Adventures fill your soul – Jaime Lyn Beatty

A photo posted by ? (@nicciturtle) on

 

You develop self-confidence and begin to love yourself

Travel brings power and love back into your life – Rumi

A photo posted by Wanderers Hub (@wanderershub) on

You realize the true meaning of wealth

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer – Anonymous

A photo posted by @backpackchecklist on

You relieve yourself of past judgements that have been hold you back

When you are traveling, you are who you are right there and then, people don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road. – The Wanderlust Addict

It boosts your character

Travelling – it leaves you speechless and turns you into a storyteller – Ibn Battuta

 

What are some of your favourite travel quotes? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment in the section below and connect with me on Instagram

Abu Dhabi fast becoming luxe travellers’ hub

When I think of exploring the world, my first inclination is for uncovering scenic landscapes where there are often few people and local hangouts –  I want to see islands, safaris, national parks, try foreign foods and visit rural communities. Forget high-end shopping sprees or short stays in five-star hotels that charge R100 for a simple sandwich; I search for street markets, sometimes architecture, and usually scout to see which types of animals can be found in the area. But if there is one ultra-luxe destination that could convert me, explicitly described as luxurious and wealthy – it’s the variant and beautiful Abu Dhabi.

I chatted to Verushka Ramasami of the Spice Goddess, who recalls her first visit to Abu Dhabi as nothing short of memorable.

Abu Dhabi is a paradise for any foodie

Breakfast in Abu Dhabi. (Photo/ Verushka Ramasani)
Breakfast in Abu Dhabi. (Photo/ Verushka Ramasami)

If you’re the kind of traveller who enjoys treating your taste buds to foreign cuisine, you’re in for a hell of a time in the UAE. Verushka was fortunate enough to eat at two Michelin Star eateries and when she’d arrived, the breakfast menus were fit for royalty.  Among the fresh and hearty dishes was baked salmon, Dim Sum, waffles and roasted leg of lamb. Imagine waking up to a buffet of those kinds of dishes. I wouldn’t second guess the opportunity. She also mentioned that at one of the venues – the ultra-luxe Emirates Palace – chefs mark their desserts and even drinks with a gold leaf – the signature element of their brand.

The city is more diverse than you can imagine

In a 2010 article published by Emirates 24/7, annual statistics showed that over 1.2 million of the city’s population are expats – that sure says a lot about what kind of place it must be to live in if foreigners are flocking to the city, hey? Fast forward to 2016, where the population analytics have likely exceeded, rest assured that you will arrive at a diversity of activities, suited to your preference. “Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi still has the charm of the old Emirati way of living. There is something for everyone to do so you will never be bored in this bustling city.”

Must-see attractions:

  • Yas Island – home of the F1 track and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
  • Arabian Nights Village for desert adventures like camel riding, dune bashing, and watching belly dancers under the night sky.

 

A glimpse of Abu Dhabi. (Photo/ Verushka Ramasani)
A glimpse of Abu Dhabi. (Photo/ Verushka Ramasami)

“The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will blow you away – the architecture and attention to detail is impeccable, not forgetting the stunning crystal chandeliers. I could not stop taking pictures of this mosque. Luckily, the hotel that I stayed at, the Shangri-La was literally across the river, offering amazing evening views of the Mosque at night,” Verushka recalls.

Travel enthusiast and founder of the SpiceGoddess - lifestyle blog, taking a selfie in luxurious Abu Dhabi. Photo/ Verushka Ramasani
Travel enthusiast and founder of the SpiceGoddess – lifestyle blog, taking a selfie in luxurious Abu Dhabi. (Photo/ Verushka Ramasami)

Verushka Ramasami is a 30-something mistress of words from Durban in sunny South Africa. A lifestyle blogger who loves Vanilla, travel, books and gadgets. Read more about her at the SpiceGoddess or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thailand: the go-to for any group holiday

You don’t need to enhance any photos you take in Thailand. It’s just stunning. – Nikita Hadskins

I can’t think of anything more exhilarating than going on a trip with a bunch of my best friends for a few days – island hopping, sipping cocktails, going elephant-back riding and spending all day in my bikini. Sound dreamy? That’s just the short of how Nikita Hadskins and her friends spent their time in Thailand. Take a look at why Thailand should be your go-to for a group holiday:

Nikita Hadskins and Byron Fester snapping a photo with a Thai elephant. Photo/ NIkita Hadskins
Nikita Hadskins and Byron Fester snapping a photo with a Thai elephant. Photo/ Nikita Hadskins

It’s really affordable

South Africans who love to travel can all tell you a tale about the time they were in Thailand, or at least that they’re thinking of going. It’s one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, and also one of the few places on the planet where South African currency is actually worth more than the local currency – the Thai Baht.

Related: 7 worldwide destinations every traveller should see

The scenery is heavenly

Remembering her most memorable moments, Nikita recalls travelling by speedboat to four of the six islands that make up Phi Phi Islands. She recalls having a pretty bumpy ride en route to the islands but that it was well worth it. “My favourite beach to have visited on that day was Maya beach. It was absolutely beautiful. I honestly wouldn’t be able to think of any words that would justly describe how incredible it all was. The sand was warm; the water was clear, fading into different shades of blue and the surrounding scenery set the stage for a movie. In this new age, where social media has taken over, you don’t need to enhance any photos you take in Thailand. It’s just stunning.”

Perfect weather for a selfie. Nikita Hadskins snaps a selfie in Thailand. Photo/ Nikita Hadskins
Perfect weather for a selfie. Nikita Hadskins snaps a selfie in Thailand. Photo/ Nikita Hadskins

There’s so much to do and see

Nikita goes on to highlight how Thailand is the perfect holiday destination due to its variety for diverse travellers. “If you are planning to lounge about, soaking up the sun, there are beautiful beaches with clear, warm waters to unwind. For a wild shopping spree and bargains, explore the day and night markets and huge shopping malls that have up to 10 floors and sell everything that you could possibly imagine. If however, you’re feeling a bit adventurous and want to explore the beautiful islands, take a day trip to see the islands; swim and go canoeing or snorkelling. Thai people are extremely humble and very friendly which adds to the whole experience.”

Related: Why travelling to Mauritius should be on your bucket list

Bye Felicia, we're in Thailand! Nikita Hadskins shares a photo of herself and friends on holiday in Thailand. Photo/ Nikita hadskins
Bye Felicia, we’re in Thailand! Nikita Hadskins shares a photo of herself and friends on holiday in Thailand. Photo/ Nikita hadskins

The food’s not bad at all

“Before going to Thailand, a few people warned that we could get sick from eating local foods. We were extremely lucky as none of us had any bad experiences with the food – in fact, the food was quite tasty and often came in large portions. Most of the dishes that we tried were different curries or stir fry made from pork, chicken or shrimp and served with either egg-fried rice or noodles.”

Discover: The best route to hike up Table Mountain

3 Major Thailand Survival hacks
Protect your skin

Pack lots of insect repellent to avoid pesky mosquitoes and sunscreen to shield from the sun.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate buying prices at the markets.

“Most of the time, their first price is already double of what they are expecting to settle at,” says Nikita.

Watch out for scams

While exploring the nightlife, she recalls coming into contact with people who tried to trick her and her friends into buying club tickets to clubs that didn’t charge an entry fee.

Do you have a travel story worth telling? I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook or simply drop me a line in the comment section below.

Follow Nikita on Instagram to view more photos of her experience in Thailand.

7 worldwide destinations every traveller should see

“You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” – Eugene Fodor

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for South Africans to travel abroad. Even super wealthy South Africans are cutting down on luxe costs overseas while tourism to our country sees an even greater increase.

Thanks to the value of the Rand.

Hands up if you’re a travel enthusiast who has never been to Cape Town? You could live luxuriously for next-to-nothing and still have enough for gifts to take back home. There’s a global community of adventure-hungry explorers planning their next trip as you read this.

The truth is, as Eugene Fodor so plainly put it, you don’t have to be rich to travel well. There are ways and means to get to your desired destinations, you just need to know how.

Take a look at these 7 worldwide destinations worth exploring:

New York

New York

Leana Van Rooyen embarks on a Solo mission to the World’s most famous City. From free walking tours, tips on how to use the Subway, a mini review on American (New Yorker) food, and insight on must-see attractions; learn more about how to make the most of your visit to New York, here.

London

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London Bridge selfie. Photo/ Robyn Thomas

#Takemeback. I have never been so cold and happy at the same time. London was better than I’d imagined it. If you’d asked me to hop on a plane to just walk the streets and listen to buskers all day, I would gladly take the trip. London is quite diverse. There’s so much to do and see, from admiring creative works in Camden Town (where Amy Winehouse lived), to luxe dining on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower – at Duck and Waffle. Take a look at these tips before traveling to the UK:  I toured London in 10 days and this is the short of it.

Cape Town

The view from the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Megan Isaacs
The view from the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Megan Isaacs

There is no match for the Mother City – the Cape of Good Hope – the home of Table Mountain. Cape Town is vibrant, it’s cosmopolitan; there are beaches and tall buildings, mountains, artisan coffee shops, boutiques, and so much more. People come to Cape Town for many reasons, and one of them is to hike Table Mountain. Discover the best route to Table Mountain’s summit below:

The route to hike up Table Mountain

Mauritius

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Casually cruising in Mauritius. Photo/ Staci Jacobs

Not much needs to be said about Mauritius. Even those who’ve never seen the island have heard stories echoing its magic. Ideal for a ‘girls getaway’ or even a soul-searching solo mission, Mauritius – honeymoon central, is nothing short of an earthly paradise. Take a look at Staci Jacobs’ experience with friends on the island. Staci shares memories like swimming with dolphins, and tips for an enjoyable yet cost-effective trip.

Why travelling to Mauritius should be on your bucket list

Mozambique

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Watching the sunset in Mozambique. Photo/ Callan Blount

Exotic culture. Sunshine. Turquoise beaches. Palm trees. Surfing. Spices. Fresh seafood. And that’s just the short of it. On his trip to the south of Mozambique, Callan Blount recalls Mozambique as an aquarium; tranquil, natural, and humbling. Read the poetic details of his experience, from sipping rum with the locals, to exploring shipwrecks in the ocean:

Finding solace in Mozambique

The South of France

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A bird’s eye view of Grenoble, France. Photo/ Lynn Cupido

Is it just me or does everyone secretly dreams of settling down in the South of France. I truly hope that that will be the way my life turns out (at least now). For Lynn Cupido, moving to Grenoble for a job venture gave her an insider experience into French Culture. Teaching English and blogging in between, Lynn explains how her decision to drop everything and pursue her ambition changed her life forever. Read more via the link below:

From Bellville to Grenoble

India

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The original Holi Festival. Photo/ Simone Franks

“India is awe-inspiring and life-changing… It offers an equal dosage of old and new, traditional and modern, adventurous and serene. There is something for everyone… Keep an open mind… Do your research… Pack light…”… Just some of the tips shared by Simone in 3 reasons to love India.

Do you have a travel story worth sharing? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment in the section below or email me directly to robyn@bewhole.co.za to feature your story.

 

 

 

 

 

Why travelling to Mauritius should be on your bucket list

“It’s the epitome of a tropical island paradise.”

Dubbed heaven on earth by famed author and traveller, Ernest Hemingway, Mauritius offers every traveller a haven for peace and relaxation.

With a few effortless answers covering her latest girls’ getaway, Staci Jacobs validates why Mauritius should be the destination for your next holiday.

From left, Staci Jacobs, Yusrah Ehrenreich and Isabella Kentridge. Photo/ Staci Jacobs
From left, Staci Jacobs, Yusrah Ehrenreich and Isabella Kentridge in Mauritius. Photo/ Staci Jacobs

Vibrant, tropical and utopian are the words that first came to mind when asking how she would describe the island. “The white sand, palm trees and the warm Indian Ocean make it the perfect beach destination. There are museums, waterfalls, botanical gardens, and a number of shopping markets further inland. It’s the epitome of a tropical island paradise.”

She recalls that the highlight of her trip was swimming with dolphins. “The tour guides took us into the ocean on a speed boat to look for wild dolphins. As we drew close enough to the dolphins, we were able to jump into the ocean and swim among them. We were close enough to touch them but none of us were brave enough to do so. The ocean was very deep but spectacularly clear. Closer to the coast, as we snorkelled, we encountered plenty of other beautiful sea creatures.”

Photo/ Staci Jacobs
A typical day in Mauritius. Photo/ Staci Jacobs

Explaining that the Island is richly diverse, she recalls how the food on the island resembled much of what we eat in South Africa, with the exception that venison is  quite popular due to a density of deer on the island and no real predators.

Top tips before arriving in Mauritius
  • Learn basic French phrases as French is widely spoken among the locals, even though English is also spoken.
  • Pack lots of sunblock as the Mauritian sun can be very unforgiving.
  • Try to book an all-inclusive package (including flights, accommodation, activities and all meals and drinks) as the cost of living is very high in Mauritius.
Frequently asked questions:
  1. When’s the best time to visit Mauritius: All year round! The climate varies from approximately 20 degrees in winter, to around 35 degrees in summer.
  2. Do I need a visa? Not if you’re South African. Hallelujah!
  3. Do you require any vaccinations? Only if you’re travelling from a country where yellow fever cases have been reported. (Not applicable to South Africa, hoorah!)
  4. What’s the time in Mauritius? GMT+4 – two hours ahead of South African time
  5. What’s the currency in Mauritius? The Mauritian Rupee (1 ZAR = 0,44 MUR – 14/03/2016)

Must-see attractions: The Grand Bassin  and the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden.

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A casual cruise under the Mauritian sun. Photo: Instagram/ @stacikim14

To view more photos of Staci’s trip to Mauritius, Follow her on Instagram.

The best route to hike up Table Mountain

Wow! What an amazing workout. For a minute, I didn’t think that I was going to make it. But I did. I finally hiked to Table Mountain’s summit – a natural New 7 wonder of the world *(wipes sweat off forehead). It was such an adventure – a must-do activity for any hiking enthusiast.

A tired but relieved photo moment of me resting on the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Oupa Mollo
A tired but relieved photo moment of me resting at the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Oupa Mollo

Where to hike from

There are quite a few hiking trails to follow in Table Mountain National Park but not all of them lead to Table Mountain’s summit.  Take a look at the 5 most popular hiking routes, here. Reaching the summit is, of course, the show-stopper off all trails.  Whether you’re hiking up Table Mountain, Lion’s head, Kilimanjaro or wherever else, it’s not really as exciting to hike a path that doesn’t peak or is that just me?

We hiked from Platteklip Gorge, situated to the right of the lower aerial cableway on Tafelberg Road. We drove ahead of the lower cable way entrance to reach a Wendy house where there are public toilets. This is quite close to the entrance of the trail. There’s a big green sign that reads: Platteklip Gorge.

The level of difficulty: Hard. It really depends on your level of fitness and how well you pace yourself.

Distance: More or less 3km. It’s only 1.2km according to Google Maps but please don’t believe that. Google maps also say that it will take 19minutes to reach the summit.  They’ve got jokes.  I reached the summit in just under 2 hours while my boyfriend, who speed walked, reached the summit in just over an hour.

The scenery is spectacular. I regret not taking more photos. Cape Town spoils us (locals) with such beautiful scenery. There’s so much of the city that I have yet to explore.

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The sign indicating the entrance to Platteklip Gorge

A lovely view of Platteklip Gorge as we near Table Mountain's summit. Photo/ Oupa Mollo
A lovely downhill view of Platteklip Gorge as we near Table Mountain’s summit. Photo/ Oupa Mollo

The pathway is quite clear and safe as it's set by rocks - hence the name, 'Platteklip' (flat rock).
The pathway is quite clear and safe as it’s set by rocks – hence the name, ‘Platteklip’ (flat rock).

What to bring

LOTS OF WATER – there aren’t any outlets for drinking water along the hiking trail so it’s essential that you carry water with you. I met the sweetest French nurse along the trail who was carrying a water bladder with a pump in a backpack – it’s such a cool gadget for the serious hiker or even nomad traveller.

Sun protection – this is important.  I missed a few spots when applying sunblock on my back and now I am bearing the brunt. If you’re not super fit, your body will be a bit sore after the long uphill walk and the last thing you want to endure with that is sunburn. Also, ensure that you have a sunhat- unless you’re sporting a thick Afro like I do – then you’re safe.

Activewear – ensure that you are wearing clothing that allows optimal flexibility, as well as shoes with rubber grip soles. You’d think that it would be a silly thing to tell people what type of clothing they should wear on a hike, but it’s actually a reasonable tip. As I was walking uphill, a girl was walking in the opposite direction, wearing a ¾ shirt and Tomy takkies. Maybe she wasn’t planning to hike initially or she’s never hiked before but she was evidentially uncomfortable having to lift her legs knee-high to climb rocks.

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Who to go with

The number one rule of mountain safety for hikers is that you don’t hike alone. The recommended number of hikers per group is four people.  Some people prefer to hike alone because there aren’t many people who match their fitness level, or sometimes it’s just because they enjoy time on their own. However, don’t chance hiking up or down Table Mountain alone as it’s not safe to do so.

Hiking buddies: From left, Oupa Mollo, me, Imraan Toffar, Tshegofatso Matseba, right, Megan Isaacs.

The best time to hike

*(singing) Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! The best hikes that I have been on were morning hikes – most of them early enough to catch the sunrise and with cool enough weather to avoid sunburn.

You can nearly get away with hiking at any climate season in Cape Town. Mother Nature spoils us with great weather all the time even though our summers are dry and hot, and our winters are cold and wet. Consider checking the weather forecast a few days ahead of your intended hike. Avoid hiking on windy and cloudy days, especially when hiking Table Mountain because it can be dangerous – and if you’re planning to up to  Table Mountain’s summit and take the cable car down, it’s important to note that the cableway is out of service on windy days.

The view from the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Megan Isaacs
The view from the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Megan Isaacs

Tips for SA hikers
  • Upon presentation of your student card, All South African students only pay half-price for cable car tickets on Fridays.
  • If you’re a South African citizen and it’s your birthday, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway will offer you a free (return) cable car ticket! How cool are they!

 

I love hiking and would love to explore other hiking trails in Cape Town and surrounds. Have you hiked a scenic spot worth writing about? I’d love to hear from you.

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