Articles

Happiness in Hippo Land

It’s about 2am when I scare myself by remembering that hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa.

I’ve been taking photos all day of at least 30 hippos in the river right in front of my lodge, especially when they lumbered their enormous frames out of the water and onto an island in the middle. They’re huge, solid things with massive mouths and a lot of attitude. Now these nocturnal feeders are hungry for …

Wild, Watery and Wonderful

It seems unlikely that anything could be thrilling enough to waylay me when I’m walking to Victoria Falls, already armed with a rain coat and a silly grin.

But when the hotel gardener I’m breezing past says: “Hello, do you want to see the giraffes?” it stops me in my tracks.

I’ve never had an offer like that before, so I instantly say yes and follow him into the scrubby bushes.

I’d already seen zebra …

Foreigners win with South Africa’s financial woes

If you ever think about how politics influences your travel, it’s probably because you want to avoid war or terrorism. I never imagined politicians could affect travel by making a currency so weak that you should jump on a plane and go immediately, because a country has become so cheap to visit.

Well – say hello to South Africa! Come and experience amazing safaris, be awed by Table Mountain, pay homage to Nelson Mandela and …

The Hotel that Rose From the Ashes

Gnarled chunks of solid silver  mounted in a picture frame are the only evidence that an elegant hotel near Cape Town isn’t the same building it used to be. The silver was once an ornate chair, destroyed along with 70% of the hotel when fires ravaged the Cape peninsular in South Africa in March. The main lodge and several bedrooms of the Tintswalo Atlantic Hotel were reduced to nothing but a yard high pile of …

Exquisite African Isles

Skimming over the Indian Ocean towards the gorgeous islands of Mozambique is like entering a kid’s over-imaginative coloring book.
Water in a dozen shades of blue washes over the crisp white sand backed by vivid green palm trees. Your camera works overtime to capture some of the world’s most stunning islands owned by one of the world’s poorest countries.

Mozambique on the east coast of Africa has numerous islands, with the most tourist-friendly being the …

Solo Safaris

If you’re a solo traveller, you’ll have noticed how the world tends to revolve around couples.

You’ll probably be hit by single room supplements unless you’re happy to stay in a hostel dormitory, and may feel rather lonely having dinner for one in restaurants full of happy friends and lovers.

And then when you see a brilliant sight, there’s no one to share it with except distant acquaintances on social media.

That’s why I haven’t …

Johannesburg finally wins tourism kudos

I’m worried about Johannesburg. It’s getting a reputation that really isn’t doing us much good.
If we carry on like this, our image as a dirty, violent and gangster-ridden city will no longer fool anybody. Everyone will see that’s just tough talk designed to scare away the tourists and keep the city to ourselves.
In the old days, tourists were advised that Joburg was best approached with caution and locked car doors. In fact, it …

Island bliss in Africa

Africa isn’t normally associated with tropical islands where you can wallow in luxury. It’s a continent painted with the brush of poverty, but beneath that false impression lie some wonderful countries waiting to be explored – and you don’t even have to be adventurous or a fan of roughing it to do so.

For an exotic holiday where the taste of Africa is wrapped in style, take a magnifying glass to your map and find …

24 hours in Soweto – Leaving the Ordinary Behind

If the name Soweto is familiar, it is probably for all the wrong reasons, as it’s where the struggle against Apartheid played out, turning the township into a virtual war-zone in the 1970’s and 80’s. Now the city of 4.5 million people, the most populous black urban residential area in South Africa, are keen for tourists to stay and experience the real Soweto rather than a mere tour bus stop-over. Locals are opening their homes …

Stylish, stunning and chic – and now cheap too

If you’re looking for a cheap holiday, Cape Town has probably never topped your travel agenda. This gloriously swanky South African city has won so many travel awards that you naturally assume it’s going to pack a punch in the price department too. It’s been ranked as the top holiday destination for 2014 by the New York Times and the UK’s Guardian, and it’s always in favor with the flush Condé Nast class. It’s also …

Soho in South Africa

Cape Town is South Africa’s holiday city. Few urban centers could match its picturesque setting along the mountainous Cape Peninsula spine, which slips into the Atlantic Ocean. The most striking of its sights is Table Mountain, rearing up from the centre of the city and often draped in white clouds. Standing on the tabletop, beyond the mountainous Twelve Apostles, the drop to the ocean is sheer with Africa’s priciest real estate tacked to the slopes. …

Two Exclusive Game Reserves in South Africa

Heading northwest, towards the Mozambique border, we left Wonderboom Airport (near Pretoria) via a chartered Cessna. Ninety minutes later we arrived at Cheetah Plains, a privately owned game reserve located within the 65,000 hectare Sabi Sands reserve, which itself shares a 50km border the Kruger National Park. Sabi Sands is world renowned for Super Seven* viewing, with Cheetah Plains the hot spot for Big Cats. There are no dividing fences, which sees game moving freely …

Zimbabwe, in Your Wildest Dreams

To most Westerners, Africa is a place of witchdoctors, demons and prehistoric creatures, but those who’ve travelled there know it as an ancient continent steeped in primal cultures yet one that’s wild, raw, in your face and utterly exciting. It’s a land of blistering heat, amazing sunrises and more animals than you ever believed existed. Multiply all this by ten, throw in a UNESCO World Heritage site plus one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders …

Meeting the wildlife in Madagascar

My French came back to me with remarkable clarity as I staggered out of the ocean clutching my stinging ankle.

“Je suis blessé,” I wailed, then proved I was injured by tumbling over as my ungainly flippers snagged on the volcanic rocks peppering the beach. Something that felt suspiciously like a crown of thorns had gripped my ankle as I’d waded through the murky water. Now my ankle was punctured by five black splinters and …