Clarens Beer Festival – who’s going?

It might be a bit weird that I will be going to the Beer Fest….I don’t drink at all! But hey, apparently there will be lots of delicious food there, so hopefully I won’t be bored. Maybe they have some non-alcoholic beers…who knows!

clarens beer fest

Featuring the passion and commitment of 17 of the countries top dedicated micro brewers and their very own hand crafted brews.

 Come out and meet the brewers, enjoy fresh craft brew, a wide selection of gourmet foods and be entertained by the awesome lineup of top South African bands.

 The festival has also extended it’s hours with a concert on Friday night just to set the tone for the weekend.

 See you on the 21st and 22nd of February!

{Valentine’s day) Outdoor Acitivities to do

Make Valentine’s Day extra special by spending it in NATURE! Here are a few attractions:

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CAPE TOWN

Visit The Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront.

The Aquarium is a window on the ocean, offering glimpses of the diverse life found off the South African coastline. The Aquarium allows you to view over 3000 living animals, including fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and birds in this spectacular underwater nature reserve. Don’t miss the daily feeding at 15h30 of the fishes in the I&J Predator Exhibit. The Two Oceans Aquarium is open every day of the year from 09h30 until 18h00. Your ticket is valid for the entire day. Have your hand stamped at the entrance turnstile in the foyer if you want to visit again on the same day. Cost: R85.00 – R88.00 per adult

Take a cruise

Morning Cruise from the V&A Waterfront. If you are an early bird or just like the fresh morning air, this cruise is the ideal start to your day. Watch the mother city come to life from afar before returning to join the rat race. Morning cruises from 11:30 to 13:00. Telephone: 021 425-6354. Where? Departs from Quay 5 at the V&A waterfront. Book at Shop 08, Quay 5. Cost: R100.00 per adult

World Of Birds. (they have made extensive renovations over the last few years and it is definitely a must-see)

The largest bird park in Africa and one of the few large bird parks in the World. Over 3 000 birds (and small animals) of 400 different species are uniquely presented in more than 100 spacious landscaped walk through aviaries, allowing you the most intimate closeness with nature. Enjoy a fascinating glimpse into the private lives of birds. Get a close-up view of them as they feed, sing, display, socialise, build nests, incubate eggs and feed chicks right before your eyes – an unforgettable experience. The World of Birds is in Valley Road, Hout Bay. Telephone: Tel: 021 790-2730. See: World Of Birds Cost: Adults: R55.00.

Boulders Beach.

Spend a restful day at Boulders Beach. The water is warm (Indian Ocean), white sandy beach and penguins as beach mates! Entrance R10.00

Enjoy the gardens at Kirstenbosch

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is world-renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays and for the magnificence of its setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants. The estate covers 528 hectares and supports a diverse fynbos flora and natural forest. The cultivated garden (36 hectares) displays collections of South African plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall region of the country. You can explore the Gardens, take photographs, have a picnic on the lawn, lie on the lawns and stare at the sky…

Walk or Climb to the top of Table Mountain

Climb or walk to the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town’s famous icon. The views from the top are simply stunning and make it all worth while. There are some 350 recognised paths to the summit, some undemanding and some are extremely difficult. It is not advisable to climb the mountain without someone experienced who knows the route well. One of the most popular routes to the top is to start off at Kirstenbosch and walk up either Nursery Ravine or Skeleton Gorge. These trails demand a minimal level of fitness – the top can normally be reached in about 6 hours. Visitors should always contact the Mountain Club of South Africa before embarking on a hike or climb. Contact: 021 465-3412.

More things to do in Cape town: http://www.lagoonbeachhotel.co.za/guest-activities/

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FREE STATE

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This 11 600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra – and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.

Free State Botanical Gardens

This garden, on the outskirts of Bloemfontein, spans a valley between picturesque dolerite koppies. The natural vegetation comprises tall grassland and woodland, dominated by magnificent wild olive and karee trees. The harmony of the Garden has been achieved by retaining and highlighting the best elements of the natural landscape. From November to March, most of the plants in the Garden are in full leaf and from March to June the colourful autumn shades of yellow and red dominate. The natural areas of the Garden are a haven for wildlife, including 144 bird species, 54 reptile species and about 32 mammal species.

Horseriding in Clarens

Horse Riding on Schaapplaats on quality horses and ponies from Ashgar Connemara Stud. Game viewing on horseback is as exciting experience – you get close to the black wildebeest who snort and prance around you, and you stalk the zebra, the Blesbok, and the springbok. You  follow  the old wagon trail to get here, the horses’ hooves clip-clopping over the rocks in the grooves of the wheels. R300.00 for ± 2 hours

Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve, Free State

The Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve is a water wonder in the Eastern Free State, offering wildlife, birding, windsurfing and flyfishing with a magnificent view over the Drakensberg. After a day on the water or exploring the reserve, there is little to beat putting a few coals on the braai and then sitting back and watching the twilight dance between the water and the mountains. Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve for bookings
Tel: +27 (0)58 622 3520/1093/3892

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DURBAN

 Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

The Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, situated in the Durban South suburb of Yellowwood Park, was proclaimed in 1963 and is considered to be one of the finest reserves in the Durban area. The land on which the reserve is situated was settled by the Stainbank family in 1857, and was used as farmland. The reserve is open between the hours of 6:00am – 18:00pm. An entrance fee is charged at the entrance gate where visitors can obtain maps and plant and animal lists from the field ranger.

uShaka Sea World

Sea World is a part of uShaka Marine World, a unique marine theme park, located in Durban on the east coast of South Africa. Including Sea World, the Wet ‘n Wild Water Park and the uShaka Village Walk shopping centre, this unique destination is a premier tourist attraction that offers something for everyone.

Japanese Gardens, Durban North

The Japanese Garden at Durban North is the most recently developed of the larger parks. Water gardens with Japanese stuctures are features in this pleasant park.  Laid out in a traditional style, the Japanese Garden ponds attract a variety of water birds. There are picnic areas and a playground. The gardens are open seven days a week and entrance is free. Contact 031 563 1333 for more information.

 

Where will you be spending Valentine’s Day?

{Travel} Magoebaskloof!

Last month me and my partner did some fieldwork in Magoebaskloof (he’s a botanist :)). Here are some of the pics from our travels!

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The view from our cottage

The view was amazing! During the day, the mist would come over the mountain and it felt like you were in another world!

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A ‘goggatjie’ that wanted to hitch a ride

I don’t know whether it’s all the rain and plants, but there were so many creepy crawlies! There were spiders and ticks everywhere. And let me tell you, the mosquitoes in this area are ferocious!

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“The land of avos” (Which is my favourite fruit, by the way)

This one is still a baby, but I came home with three bags of avos!

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Part of Woodbush Nature Reserve

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The weather that welcomed us back in the Free State!

{Travel} Drakensberg Mountain retreat

The rainy weather here in Bloemfontein is reminding me of the weekend we spent at Drakensberg Mountain Retreat.

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Drakensberg Mountain Retreat is a stunning destination in the northern Drakensberg only 20 km beyond Sterkfontein Dam and 3 hours from Johannesburg, South Africa. Situated high on a ridge overlooking the Drakensberg and the Maluti Mountains many have said that the views are unsurpassed.

It offers much more than comfortable, affordable country style accommodation. It’s spectacular views, vast spaces, wild winds and superb walks make it the perfect place to experience the beauty and magnificence of the Drakensberg. Its deep silences, unfamiliar at first, will soon work its magic resuscitating body and mind. This is a place to relax, unwind, take stock, – a place to rejuvenate – a place to regain peace. The walks and hikes are spectacular catering for all levels of fitness.

This is a cosy haven for those who like old fashioned holidays, with peace and quiet, excellent home-style cooking, reading near the fireplace, invigorating walks and pleasant company; also a wonderful base to experience the mighty Drakensberg. An ideal retreat for couples, families or groups either self catered or fully catered

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If you haven’t been there yet, it’s time to put it on your “places to visit” list. The first day it was quite misty, so we snuggled on the very comfy couches and read, played board games and enjoyed coffee. For lunch you can either sit down at the table in the dining area, or they bring it to you on a tray to the living room. We chose the tray option as the fireplace was so warm, it was just too cozy to leave! There are horses that roam freely on the lawn, and at one point the two younger ones chased each other in the mist, it was amazing! How many times to you get to see something like that?!

 

Mojo will keep you company on the couch or on the hiking trails!

Mojo will keep you company on the couch or on the hiking trails!

There are several walking and biking trails, a swimming pool, pool table and lots of boardgames to keep you busy.

The food was DELICIOUS and the host  made us feel very welcome from the start!

For more information: www.drakensbergretreat.co.za

Facebook: Drakensberg Mountain Retreat 

Twitter: @DrakensbergMR

 

Have you been to the Drakensberg yet? Where did you stay?

Overcome your fear…mine was horses!

Last weekend I went horse riding for the second time in my life. The first time, was exactly a year ago on the same horse at the same trail. Before that, I couldn’t even look at a horse without shaking in fear! To me they were just so scary and larger than life.

So how did I suddenly get the courage to get on a horse, you ask?  Well,that’s quite a funny story actually. I received a voucher for two people to go on a 3 hour horse ride in Clarens, and being the bargainista that I am, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity. Together they were worth R500 and it was a trail in the mountains…I just HAD to face my fear!

 

At first it went a bit wobbly, but after a while I got used to it. In fact, in about 15 minutes, I was hooked! I had a super calm mare (her name is Cloudy) so it wasn’t hard for me to be calm myself. I think the beautiful surroundings contributed so much to my whole first-time experience. Perfect weather, majestic mountains and a patient trail guide…ideal!

 

The main reason why I am sharing this experience is because I was amazed by the powerful feeling you get when conquering your fear. After that horse ride I felt invincible, as if I could do anything.

 

So my challenge to you: do something you never had the courage for. Get that diploma, do bungee jumping or cut your hair! Take the risk and you will reap the reward!

 

Ashgar Connemara Stud & Schaapplaats Farm Cottages

Christine Walwyn

P.O. Box 53, Clarens, 9707

Tel: (058) 256 1176

Cell: 083 630 3713

Fax: (058) 256 1258

E-mail: info@ashgarhorses.co.za

RATES
Outrides:

R300.00 for ± 2 hours,

R250.00 for ± 1,5 hours

Awesome holiday!

So last month we had a short mini-holiday. Unfortunately on the Monday morning before we were suppose to leave (our road trip was scheduled for Tuesday morning), I became sick! I was in constant pain for a week, but we have been planning this holiday for a whole 5 months, and I wasn’t going to let it stop me from sightseeing!

We had a booking at De Voet Padkloof Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga for 3 nights -two nights in a safari tent and one night in a chalet. We wanted to experience both so we know where to stay next time! Not only was the accommodation extremely affordable (see prices here),but the resort was so clean and there was a host of activities to keep you busy: swimming (they have two pools), hiking (there are several trails available ranging from easy to difficult), fishing, a obstacle course, game drives (from only R50 per person), mountain biking, Putt-putt, Pool table and table tennis and bird watching! We opted for the hiking trails as it was the best way to experience nature. My partner (a botanist) enjoyed the trees and plants, and I enjoyed the bird watching as well as the Kudus and other fauna which walks around freely. Coming from the Free State, I was amazed by the huge variety of birds in the area (hope you enjoy my photos!)

There are many times when it feels like a photo just can’t capture the feeling you have at that moment, but I hope this photo gives you an idea…

If you want to visit a place where it feels as if it’s just you and nature, give De Voet Padkloof a try. There are caravan stands, log cabins, chalets and safari tents, so whatever your preference, they’ve got you covered!

De Voet Padkloof resort

For more info, you can go here: http://www.devoetpadkloof.co.za

Thanks to all the staff for keeping this resort so clean!