Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Why choose Stellenbosch?

Stellenbosch is the only winelands town that has a University, and with the infusion of young student energy this ‘College’ atmosphere permeates throughout the town. This is visible in the many bistros, art galleries, Music venues, Theatres and Wine bars that make up the vibrant heart of the Old town.
It is a unique place where international guests are able to experience the diverse culture and meet the many people from all aspects of society that make Africa the ‘Rainbow nation’.

The wine

Stellenbosch is home to some of the oldest and most famous wine estates in South Africa, in fact Stellenbosch is where South African wine making began! It’s home to the widest range of estates, with 148 wineries in total where they produce some of the world’s best wines. Kanonkop and Rust and Vrede among others are repeatedly recognized for their wines worldwide. The best way to visit the vineyards is on a tour where you can sample the wines along the way!

The arts

Stellenbosch has a thriving art community, with theatre and music at the heart of it. The Dorp St Theatre Café and Die Mystic Boer host a wide variety of innovative South African performances, and in the summer, The Oude Libertas open-air amphitheater is not to be missed for its captivating productions. Music is equally important to the Stellenbosch community, and this is evident in the evenings when the town comes to life! For the best live music and good food, head to the centre of Stellenbosch to the cafes and restaurants. Some of the finest art collections are housed at the Rembrandt museum and Sasol gallery in the town, alongside a number of significant international pieces, the Sasol Gallery is also a great place to view pieces from up-and-coming artists in the area.
the arts
Top tip – Head to the township cabaret in Kayamandi, for a production at the first township theatre of its kind. The evening promises great entertainment, delicious Kasi cuisine and an unforgettable atmosphere.

The food

Stellenbosch is home to 3 of the top 10 restaurants in South Africa, as well as a multitude of award-wining producers – a perfect pedigree for an outstanding culinary experience! If you want to dine in style, head to one of the top 10 restaurants (Overture, Terroir and Jordon) where you’ll have a dining experience to remember. Or, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local community, take a trip to the food market, where you can get to know the locals and learn about where the produce comes from.

The Wildlife

There are plenty of excursions available from Stellenbosch that promise some fantastic wildlife encounters. The Giraffe House is located in the town and is home to an abundance of animals including reptiles and birds, and even the smallest antelope in the world – the Blue Duiker. There is also the Drakenstein Lion Park, which is a sanctuary for captive born lions that cannot be rehabilitated into the wild. There are also safari trips that can be organised from Stellenbosch. Currently there are 40 lions, including a one white lion. Or is you’re looking for a wildlife adventure,  Shark diving is an hour away, and if you’re lucky enough to be in South Africa between June and November, there is plenty of whale watching around the coast of Hermanus.

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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Quick Guide to the National Parks of Kenya from our friends at Somak Holidays

Masai Mara National Park
The most popular safari destination in Kenya, the reserve is home to countless species including the ‘big five’ and stages the Great Wildebeest Migration.

river crossing

Aberdare National Park
This park is home to part of the Aberdare mountain range, an area of natural beauty. It is full of rich vegetation, clear streams, waterfalls and lakes, along with unique fauna and flora, creating an ideal habitat for a wide variety of mammals and birds. Elephants and rhinos, roam the park and other residents include leopards, spotted hyenas and bongos.

Samburu National Reserve & Buffalo Springs
Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo springs started life as one park but are now adjacent to each other. The Ewaso Nyiro River runs through both reserves and in parts acts as border between them. Samburu is not as well known as some of the other national parts in Kenya and therefore is less crowded. The dramatic and rugged landscape is home to the colourful Samburu people. Game includes species rarely seen elsewhere, such as Grevy’s zebras and reticulated giraffes and the Somali ostrich.

 Samburu people
Shaba National Reserve
Situated very close to Samburu National Reserve. Shaba has reserved its place in the history of conservation as the area where Joy Adamson releases the first of hand-reared leopards. The nearby Ezaso Nyiro River supports a variety if captivating wildlife.

Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya, Kenya’s highest mountain, sits astride the equator with its snow-capped summit rising to nearly 5200 metres. The vegetation alters dramatically, from bamboo jungle and mountain forests to glaciers and snowfields. The forests are home to elephants, and prolific birdlife.

Mount Kenya

Meru National Park
Close to the equator to the northeast of Nairobi. The park is famous as the area where Joy Adamson raised lion cub, Elsa and orphaned cheetahs. The permanent streams offer an environment of tall grasses and dense swamps. This can make it challenging to spot wildlife, but a wide range including elephants, hippos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, reticulated giraffes and zebras reside here.

Tsavo Eat and Tsavo West National Park
Combined, these parks cover an area the size of Wales, forming one of the world’s largest game sanctuaries. Tsavo East is famous for its large number of elephants and spectacular herds of buffaloes that roam across the open savanahah. Tsavo West, in contrast, has very dramatic landscape with extinct volcanoes, rocky outcrops, mountains, river forests and plains. The ‘big five’ can be found along with a range of antelope species.


Amboseli National Park
A popular national park with a spectacular backdrop of the impressive Mount Kilimanjaro. It is home to an abundance of mammals and over 400 species of birds. The flat and dusty landscape provides good opportunities to see a large variety of wildlife including buffaloes, lions, gazelles, cheetahs, wildebeest, zebras and large herds of elephants.

Lake Naivasha
Over 450 species of birds have been recorded in and around this freshwater lake, with the highest concentration between October and March, when migrating birds from Europe and resident. The shores of the lake are fringed with papyrus and yellow-barked acacia tress. A range of plain game is often spotted.

Lake Naivasha

Lake Nakuru National Park

The park is renowned for one of the most spectacular images in Kenya, as thousand of pink flamingoes are often attracted to the alkaline lake. The fenced park also provides sanctuary to one of the largest populations of rhinos in Kenya, plus lions, Rothchild giraffes and leopards.

For some amazing Kenya Safari options visit: www.safariescapes.co.uk - Great Kenya Safaris from Escape Worldwide and Somak Holidays. 

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