Seychelles is looking to expand it reach in Singapore by treating representatives from four travel agents from Singapore to some of the best food, attractions, accommodation and transport that the Seychelles has to offer. The travel agencies represented included Chan Brothers, HIS, Ramesh Travel and Eco Adventures. Their tour leader was from Air Seychelles.
To kick start the tour, the representatives got a taste of what it’s like to fly in both economy and business class on Air Seychelles. They visited the three major islands: Mahè, Praslin, and La Digue and enjoyed the most recommended activities on each, including Sunset Beach, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort and Casino and Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove. After being wined and dined (with delicious Creole cuisine) to the extreme it’s not surprising to hear that the group was “blown away” by the experience. Tourism authorities now hope that that experience will translate into more flights booked and rooms reserved.
Seychelles’ drive to boost tourism from Asian markets received a boost from various international communities, especially in the Commonwealth, which have joined forces to combat the scourge of piracy. Seychelles President Michel has commended Commonwealth countries like Australia for taking the matter seriously enough to call for a counter-piracy conference, which will be held in Perth, Australia, next year.
President Michel has said: “The coast states of the Indian Ocean need more support – both in terms of maritime assets, in terms of prisons, and in terms of legislative and human resource capacity building. These coastal states are in the majority Commonwealth states- and we salute the efforts of our partners: Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania, The Maldives, and Mozambique. We also thank the government of India for its proactive role in helping our Coast Guard and training our military for appropriate response to piracy at sea. We believe the Commonwealth is ideally situated to bring more support to the member states to provide technical assistance for legal framework for prosecuting pirates.”
Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island and now the world famous Meliá Hotels and Resorts will be adding some spice of its own as it opens its Meliá Zanzibar Hotel. The hotel will be the epitome of luxury with seven 5-star villas, garden rooms, terrace rooms and suites. There are private pools and gardens and, of course, the spectacular beach right on the doorstep.
The hotel covers 40 hectares towards the northeast of the island and offers a wealth of facilities and activities to keep holiday makers with eclectic tastes happy no matter how long their stay.
Villas and suites are practically self-contained with living and dining areas, private balconies, en suite bathrooms and every modern convenience you can think of. Terrace and garden rooms also have private balconies, providing guests with a place in which to savour the peace and quiet and maybe catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife. Foodies can choose between five restaurants with different specialities, including Arabian and African dishes and Italian influences.
From fine dining to casual pool side restaurants and a restaurant on the jetty, just about anything goes. The Kids Club gives parents some much needed respite and kids some much distraction. Anantara Spa provides some much needed relaxation with options to receive massages outdoors. Of course there are plenty of water sports available.
Mount Kilimanjaro is already a major tourist attraction but a new discovery by Dutch scientists Sjoerd Vander Schuit, Arjan Van Waardenburg and Bert Tindemans could give it even more prestige. The three men believe that Kilimajaro contains the highest lava tunnels in the world – at least, they’re higher than any tubes found to date. According to reports, the longest tube/tunnel stretches 150m and is 8-10m wide. The highest tube is 4330m above sea level on the northern slope. The highest tubes on the southern slope are at 4365m and 4387m above sea level.
The team explored many of Kilimajaro’s peaks and found most of them on the Kibo and Mawenzi peaks.
Vander Schuit said, “Mt Kilimanjaro’s tubes had been part of a huge tube swarm or network. But most of these tubes have been eroded away by glaciers, ice sheets and rivers.”
This means that every effort now needs to be made to preserve the integrity of the tunnels and ensure that they aren’t desecrated by tourists or vandals. On average, 35 000 people flock to Mount Kilimanjaro every year for the privilege and excitement of climbing Africa’s highest peak. Its reputation as an “easy” climb means that it attracts people of all fitness levels, not only experienced climbers.
Unfortunately, this also means that there are a significant amount of “gapers” or people who don’t really treat the mountain with the respect it deserves. These are the people who litter without thinking, pick flowers and trample growth. They have, unsurprisingly, had an adverse effect on the mountain.
It’s hoped that the new discovery will bring the delicate ecosystems on the mountain into sharp focus and encourage tour operators and tourism authorities to be more vigilant in their approach to guided tours.
According to Rashid Mtungi MD of Tanzania Rift Valley Tours, said, “This milestone discovery of lava tubes is tantalising news, because it adds value to our unique mountain. The discovery is also timely, taking into consideration that jarMt Kilimano is among the 28 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of Nature.”
Tanzania is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, let alone on the mighty African continent. It encompasses all that a country should, rugged beauty, friendly people and an abundance of exotic animals. It’s close to a number of other popular African attractions, such as the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro but is also home to a number of largely unsung destinations, like Arusha in the Arusha region, northern Tanzania
One of the reasons for the region’s popularity is its position on the Northern Tanzanian Safari Circuit. This includes the Arusha National Park, which surrounds Mount Meru, the second highest mountain in the country. The park is not big, not by the standards of some of the other parks in Africa, but its landscape is varied, as is its animal life.
Arusha National Park is only 25km from Arusha city and is home to giraffe, buffalo, warthog, blue monkey, colobus monkey, elephant, leopard and zebra. Landscapes include woodlands, rain forests, lakes, mountain peaks and even a volcanic crater. The Ngurdoto Crater is 3km wide and 400m deep but visitors are only permitted to marvel at the view from the lip of the crater, there is a strict no entry policy.
The Momella (or Momela) Lakes are also worth a visit, as the different mineral content of each lake gives it its own unique colour. Canoe safaris around the lakes are available.
Hikers and climbers can enjoy the day walks and three- to four-day climbs in the park. Day visitors can enjoy the sites and well situated picnic spots. If you want to stay in the park you can choose between lodges, rest houses, campsites, and huts. There are plenty more accommodation options in Arusha itself. According to the official Tanzania National Parks website, the best time to visit the park (and climb Mount Meru) is between June and February. Bear in mind that November is the rainy season.
Botswana’s central district contains a number of tourist attractions, some of which are off the beaten track – or at least off the radar for the average Botswanan tourist who visits the country primarily for its abundant safari opportunities. One of the prettiest of these attractions is the Tswapong Hills.
The Tswapong Hills, as the name suggests, are not towering peaks. The highest point is around 400m, making hikes and walking trails accessible for anyone. It’s important to note, however, that much of the land in the hills is considered sacred by the locals and in many cases you will need permission from village chiefs before you venture forth.
The hills contain a couple of gorges complete with waterfalls and some ancient settlements.
Of particular interest is the Moremi Gorge.
Moremi Gorge is one of those places where you should ask permission from the leader of Moremi Village before setting out. You’ll also find guides at the village if you so require.
You’ll need good walking shoes to climb up to the point of the gorge but once there you’ll find that all the effort was worth it. There are three waterfalls in the gorge, all of which fall into large waterholes. The waterholes are surrounded by thick green vegetation, which lends to the magical atmosphere.
In addition to the waterfalls, Moremi Gorge is a protected conservation area for several breeding pairs of Cape Vultures.
Malaka Gorge is slightly less spectacular than Moremi Gorge and is accessible from Malaka Village. The single waterfall is not very high but the gurgle of bubbling water is very calming and tops off some boulder jumping and any exploratory walks in the nearby valley. Watch out for baboons.
Phothophotho Gorge is easily accessible for all visitors, as well as all animals that come for the steady supply of water. In addition to the thirsty domestic animals – cows and donkeys – you’ll see some rock dassies, baboons and a number of different birds, including Cape Vulture, Blackcollared Barbet and Redwinged Starling.
Gootau is also home to breeding Cape Vultures. In fact, the colony at Gootau is much larger than at Moremi Gorge. As a result, it’s essential to get permission from the chief of Gootau before venturing into the site.
All in all the Tswapong Hills should definitely feature on your travel itinerary.
Fine dining is intrinsic to a good holiday. As most holidays have to do with indulgence and new experiences, what better time to treat yourself to the best restaurants you can afford while sampling some exotic cuisine?. Everywhere you look you’ll find lists and reviews of the top restaurants in such and such a place and here is one more.
The top 5 restaurants in Cape Town
1) According to Bestcapetownrestaurants.com, Azure Restaurant at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa tops the list. The executive chef in charge is Henrico Grobbelaar. Grobbelaar has won several awards for his extraordinary culinary skills and has earned a place among the most respected chefs in the country.
One of the really nice things about Azure is that it gives vegetarians their due consideration; for example, one the most popular starters is the 12 vegetable salad. The grilled seafood platter is simply to die for and the dark chocolate torte is sublime.
2) Buitenverwachting Restaurant in the Constantiaberg deserves its second spot. The views of the vineyards alone are worth the trip, but people don’t flock for the views. The restaurant consistently makes top 10 lists thanks to the efforts of award-winning Chef Edgar, who has been compared to Heston Blumenthal, one of the UK’s most famous gastronomes.
Try the creamy mielie-bacon soup, saddle of springbok and honey and saffron ice-cream.
3) Cabbage is not something traditionally associated with fine dining but the Savoy Cabbage Restaurant is an exception. It’s in the centre of Cape Town itself, just off Buitengracht and Bree Streets on Hout Street. At its helm are Caroline Bagley and Chef Peter Pankhurst, together they have won the 2009 Andrew Harper Award, several American Express Platinum Awards and were declared a “Hot Spot” by CNN.
The varied menu includes twice baked cheese soufflé with paprika oil; salad of spiced roasted nuts, red wine-poached pears, mesclun and goat’s feta; grilled hake with pea and champagne risotto and split truffle oil; or fennel dusted warthog loin with bashed turnip and potato and apricot and vanilla Sauce, and red onion marmalade. End it all with polenta lemon cake and chantilly cream or caramel chocolate-chunk tart and caramel ice-cream.
4) Harbour House in Kalk Bay harbour is set right on the edge of the sea proving outstanding views of crashing waves and, if you get your timing right, seals at supper time. On the other side you’ll see the picturesque village of Kalk Bay set on the mountainside. As you can imagine, the menu is geared towards seafood lovers.
The sautéed paprika calamari is a firm favourite but meat-eaters will revel in the mustard coated rack of lamb. For dessert you do not want to miss the trio of sorbet or the classic crème brulee.
5) For something a little different try Stardust Restaurant in Rondebosch. It’s dinner theatre, but with a twist. All the entertainment is provided by the waiters and waitresses, who tend to be students at the nearby University of Cape Town. Depending on who is on duty you get to hear jazz, opera, rock and comedy.
What you’ll also get is outstanding food. The theme is North African and Mediterranean and, once again, vegetarians are more than welcome. The falafel is divine, the veg moussaka out of this world and the beef tagine succulent.
Whatever your tastes, you’ll find something in the five-star class to suit you.
29km from Oudtshoorn, at the head of the picturesque Cango Valley, lies the spectacular underground wonder of the Klein Karoo - the Cango Caves. Situated in a limestone ridge parallel to the well knownSwartberg Mountains, you will find the finest dripstone caverns, with their vast halls and towering formations.
The Cango Caves are a series of dripstone caverns that open into vast halls of towering stalagmite formations with names like ‘the bridal couple’, ‘glass flower fantasy’, ‘weird cango candle’ and ‘the hanging shawl’. Not all of the caves are open to the public .The main sections are available for amazing exploratory subterranean walks that include fumbling around on all fours in an effort to see all that is viewable.
The Cango Caves lie in the Swartberg Mountain Range in a limestone belt measuring 0,5km in width and almost 16km in length. The limestone layer was formed by the deposit of ‘oolites’ which are loosely-bound calcium carbonate crystals. Due to the age of the limestone (750 million years) no fossils have been found.
This part of the continent was once below the ocean. As the continent rose and upliftment occurred, the Little Karoo finally found itself above the water level.
The caves only started to form some 20 million years ago, however, when the water level dropped to such an extent that the ground water could start to seep into the limestone. As the water seeped into the ground it absorbed carbon dioxide from the decaying plant and animal matter in the soil and this made it fairly acidic.
As it seeped into the limestone, cavities were created that filled with water. Rivers also formed on the surface and cut deeply enough into the limestone to allow them to reach the level of the water pockets. This caused the water to flow out about 4 million years ago. The cave was then, for the first time, exposed to air and the speleothems or cave formations could begin forming.
For thousands of years, the caves were unknown, except to animals. However, about 10 000 years ago, the Khoisan used the entrance area of the cave as shelter. They never wandered deeper into the cave though due to their superstitious nature. The entrance area to the Caves was originally rich in bushman paintings though with time these have been damaged. The San left this area and their cave approximately 500 years ago.
Multilingual tours :
All tours are offered in English but an Afrikaans, German, French or other language guide may be available (please check availability when booking if you have a preference).