South of the equator, January is midsummer. If you’re planning to come to Africa at this time, you might hear things like: it'll be hot, it'll be wet, the wildlife is as widely dispersed as the abundant surface water (instead of conveniently concertrated around waterholes), and some lodges and camps are closed for the "off" season.
The world was transfixed when Nelson Mandela was finally released to freedom in 1990 after 27 years in jail for his role in the struggle to overcome apartheid. Twenty-three years later, in 2013, the eyes and cameras of the world were once again on South Africa as this former president, Nobel Peace Prize winner, statesman and father figure to millions was laid to rest. None of us will ever again have the opportunity of interacting with this great-yet-humble man but we can visit some of the places that shaped his life and that are indelibly connected with his story.
A three-centuries-old port city, Cape Town is flanked by both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Known to sailors by the rather alarming ‘Cape of Storms’ because of the fierce gales that can surge around the peninsula, we landlubbers prefer to think of it by its gentler nickname: ‘the Fairest Cape’. It's a seaside city renowned for easy living, gourmet food, fine wines and an efficient infrastructure. Cape Town's top beach hotels allow you to sample the best of the ocean - with its frolicking dolphins, seals and whales - in utter comfort and sheer luxury.
Africa is the soil my soul is rooted in; it is the scent of wild sage, the buzz of cicadas on a hot summer’s day and the heartsong of a fish eagle: all these whisper ‘home’ to me. But what does my love affair with this continent have to do with travel trends? It is at the centre of the top trend shaping travel to this continent in 2014: our desire, as travellers, for an authentic connection with the places we visit – for a genuine taste of what makes locals (like me) passionate about living there.
Summer in Cape Town sees up to 14-hours of daylight, with the sun setting at about 8pm at the height of the season when temperatures regularly hit the 30s Celsius (90s Fahrenheit). And what a sunset it usually is: the sky streaked with candy floss-pink clouds and the sun slipping beneath the horizon as it bathes all in a soft, golden light.
Book a window seat if you’re flying into Cape Town for the first time: the bird’s-eye view of the Mother City’s natural beauty deserves the chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ it elicits from arriving visitors. Accessible and easy to enjoy, the city’s mountains and beaches are its primary natural attractions, but there are hidden gems on the wilder side of this peninsula. Underwater forests, rugged hiking trails and great white shark enounters all lie within sight of Cape Town.
The scene that greeted us as we drove out of Cape Town made it hard to believe we were in Africa. Lit up by the soft light of a September morning, the city’s surrounding mountains were dusted with snow and the vineyards that lie below them glowed with good health. My daughter and I were stunned into silence by the beauty of it all, but we didn’t dilly-dally: we had a rendezvous with sea monsters.
Capturing great photographs of animals on the move is surprisingly difficult. Here are a few fundamentals to improve your chances of capturing that one great shot.
Botswana was part of my life for five glorious years and I have yet to see wildlife anywhere else that can match it. It's a place where buffalo gather in their hundreds and elephant herds are measured in their thousands.
Ever dreamed of owning a beach house - waking up in a designer holiday home a frisbee’s throw from a sweep of soft sand and the inviting blue of the ocean? Or perhaps you’d prefer a stylish city apartment, and the daily ritual of oven-fresh croissants from the corner deli?