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Hermanus overlook

36 Hours in Hermanus

Everyone in South Africa knows Hermanus, a quaint little town about 90 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, as the whale-watching capital of the world. Hermanus is overtaken by tourists in whale season, which runs from June to December but is heaviest during the peak calving season in July and August. Up until recently I had been to Hermanus only once — an October day trip many years ago. My friends and I drove from Cape Town, wandered the promenade looking for whales, spotted a couple far out to sea, walked through a couple of shops, had lunch, then drove back to Cape Town. I now know this was a mistake. I recently revisited Hermanus again for 36 hours (still not long enough) and couldn’t believe how beautiful it is and how much there is to do there — even when it isn’t whale season. It’s a crime to drive to Hermanus and not stay for at least a few days. Here’s a quick run-down of everything I packed in during my two nights in Hermanus. 1) The drive from Cape Town If you take the right route, the drive from Cape Town to Hermanus is one of the most beautiful […]

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Mauritius sunset

I’d Rather Be in Mauritius. (Duh.)

I’ve been invited to participate in a blogger campaign called #RatherBeInMauritius. The point of the campaign is to write about how much I’d currently rather be in Mauritius, where it’s warm and everything is beautiful, instead of in Joburg, where it’s cold and not everything is beautiful. Mauritius, where I’d rather be. (For the record, I did ask the people sponsoring this campaign if they couldn’t just send me to Mauritius for a few days and let me report back on why I think everyone would rather be there. My request was politely ignored. At least I tried.) Those of you who aren’t from around here might be wondering why I complain about winter in Joburg. She’s in AFRICA, you might be thinking — how bad can it be? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s true that a high temperature of 60° fahrenheit (15° celsius) and a low of 35° fahrenheit (2° celsius) sounds like a walk in the park compared to a typical winter day in, say, Washington D.C. But try doing a few straight days and nights of 35° fahrenheit without your heat on and all your windows open a crack. Then you’ll know what it’s like to survive winter […]

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Pansy shell on Bazaruto beach

Three Days in a Mozambican Paradise

Yes, I’m a travel blogger, and yes, I travel a lot for work. Yes, I often field sarcastic Facebook comments like, “Wow, what a rough life you have!” or, “I wish could quit my REAL job and become a blogger like you.” I usually resent these comments. Travel blogging is harder than it looks and most of my travel is far from glamorous. My most recent trip to Mozambican paradise, however, was an exception. This trip was every bit as glamorous as it looked and you should resent me for it. Looking down on the town of Vilanculos, Mozambique, during my helicopter ride to Benguerra Island. We flew from Johannesburg to Vilanculos with Airlink, as part of a campaign to promote Airlink’s flights around Southern Africa. (Incidentally, the flight from Joburg to Vilanculos is ridiculously short — like an hour and 15 minutes. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to fly from Joburg to Durban.) Once in Vilanculos, we took a 10-minute helicopter ride to Benguerra Island, the second-largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago. A birds-eye view of Benguerra Island at low tide. The helicopter dropped my colleague Frances and I off at Benguerra Island’s Azura Retreat. Azura is literally paradise. My villa at […]

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Kalk Bay water and boats

Three Random Days in Cape Town: Mountaintops, Beer, and Big Fat Seals

Last week I went to Cape Town for an Instagram campaign, to attend a single two-hour event on a Wednesday evening. My friend Kate was invited too. Cape Town being one the most beautiful cities in the world and all, Kate and I decided it was silly to fly down for just one evening. We extended our stay to two nights and three days. This decision resulted in two Jozi blogger chicks Ubering madly around Cape Town, meeting up with blogger friends, stuffing our faces, drinking lots of beer and wine, walking our asses off, doing yoga poses on mountaintops, and laughing at big fat seals. It was so random and so fun. Here are some highlights. Random Cape Town Activity #1: Climbing Lion’s Head Lion’s Head is the second-most famous mountain in Cape Town — dwarfed in size and fame by its neighbor, Table Mountain. View of Lion’s Head from Daylight Studio, where I hung out on Wednesday evening. Kate and I had never climbed Lion’s Head and this was our chance. We convinced a few other bloggers to join us: our old friend Di and our new friends Cassandra and Jane. Di picked us up at our hotel at 6:30 a.m. and we reached the base of Lion’s Head […]

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Golden Hour on Reunion Island

Reunion Island, or Île de la Réunion, is a tiny French Island in the Indian Ocean. Reunion is best known as a hiking and adventure destination and I’ve already written a couple of posts about those adventures (see here and here). Reunion’s adventures are great; the mountains and volcanoes are breathtaking (sorry for the cliché but the volcano literally stopped my breathing) and completely unusual. However, Reunion’s beaches are not to be discounted either. On the west side of the island, around the village of Saint Gilles, a huge coral reef creates a “lagoon”, where the water is relatively calm and free of sharks. The beaches are clean and natural, scattered with coral and volcanic rock, and they serve as community gathering places during the day and especially in the evening. The people of Reunion make great use of their beaches — strolling, swimming, playing, talking, walking dogs, and just…being. I think this photo says it all. See the tide out in the distance? That’s where the coral reef is. The lagoon is inside it. I spent the first three days of my Reunion trip in Saint Gilles, and was lucky enough to enjoy the beach for a couple of hours each day. I […]

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Everything in Mauritius is Beautiful.

I went to Mauritius for five days. I’ve concluded that everything there is beautiful. I have lots to say about the trip and dozens of photos to post. But here’s a 10-photo teaser to prove my above statement. 1) The beaches in Mauritius are beautiful. The beach at Le Prince Maurice, part of Constance Hotels and Resorts, where I stayed in Mauritius. This beach is particularly lovely because it’s on a lagoon, where the water is completely calm. 2) The hotels in Mauritius are beautiful. The lobby at Le Prince Maurice. 3) The sunrises in Mauritius are beautiful. Sunrise from Belle Mare Plage, the other Constance property where I stayed. The sunrise was like this every morning. 4) The sunsets in Mauritius are beautiful. Pretty stunning. Although from where I was on the east side of the island, the sunrises definitely surpassed the sunsets. 5) The flowers in Mauritius are beautiful. Hibiscus blossoms floating in a fountain at Le Prince Maurice. Hibiscus are everywhere in Mauritius, along with frangipani. PS: Because of all the flowers, everything in Mauritius smells beautiful. 6) The birds in Mauritius are beautiful. I lured this bird to my Prince Maurice balcony with room service. It’s called a red fody. 7) The food in Mauritius is beautiful. It […]

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On a Beach in Zanzibar

Three weeks ago, I was on a beach in Zanzibar. It was nice. Sunset on a beach in Zanzibar.  My friend Michelle and I stayed on the northern end of the island, near a village called Nungwi, at a hotel called Sazani Beach Lodge. Our room at Sazani Beach Lodge. My amazing four-poster bed at Sazani. Every hotel bed in Zanzibar looks something like this — Zanzibari woodwork is magnificent. Our stay at Sazani Beach Lodge was interesting. The hotel’s website says “Feel like a castaway at our 10-room beach lodge…” We really did feel like castaways because we were the only two guests at the hotel for the entire four days we stayed there. (Incidentally, the entire island seemed relatively empty of tourists, despite the fact that it was the beginning of high season. Michelle was there at the same time three years ago and said it was way more crowded back then. So I’m not sure what’s going on — we asked several locals and no one had an answer for why tourism seemed down. I hope it picks up because this is an amazing place to visit and the island relies heavily on tourism.) Being the sole guests was cool in a […]

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Pop-Up Travel: Ilha Grande, Brazil

At the end of my recent trip to Brazil, my family and I spent two days on an island called Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande is reachable only by boat (ferries to Ilha Grande leave from the town of Angra, about an hour-and-a-half from Rio) and there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Lots of boats. No cars. Ilha Grande is known for its unspoiled natural beauty and we were expecting a deserted island kind of vibe. But we happened to visit during the week between Christmas and New Years, which I’m guessing is the busiest week of the year on Ilha Grande. The island was crowded, especially in the main settlement of Vila do Abraão where we stayed. So our time on Ilha Grande was more about people-watching (and animal-watching), eating, and drinking than it was about laying on deserted beaches. The church in Vila do Abraão. This was the most delicious platter of seafood I’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the restaurant where we ate it. A man making caipirinhas on a Vila do Abraão side street. That’s my sister in the shadows, petting one of Ilha Grande’s ubiquitous dogs. Holiday-makers. My favorite Instagram from the trip to Brazil. […]

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Living Like Queens on an African Beach

“Dolphins!” The boat captain pointed into the flat, clear, turquoise water. I caught a glimpse of dolphin fin a couple of hundred meters away. “Let’s swim with them,” said Theresa. She flung off her sarong and dove over the side of the boat. Pippa, Bridget, and Sandi followed in quick succession. Theresa took several strokes and then turned around. “Aren’t you coming, Heather?” I looked over at the captain. He was staring into the distance and seemed hardly to have noticed the boat’s deserters. I shrugged, pulled off my shorts and tank top, and jumped. Our gang walking out to the boat that would take us on a day trip from Bazaruto to Paradise Island, not long before the moment described above. We never caught up with the dolphins. We didn’t swim very fast and the dolphin pod was probably frightened by all the estrogen. But that didn’t matter. Over the course of three days, our group of ladies managed to: Sled down a sand dune in the midst of a sunset sandstorm; Explore the ruins of an abandoned beach hotel; Ride a pack of lazy horses up and down a pristine, white-sand beach; Spend many hours doing nothing, gazing out at the sea; Drink dozens, maybe […]

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Ghana’s Panoramic Beaches

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently had the chance to try out a panoramic disposable film camera. I shot most of the panoramic film during my trip to Ghana in August. I still have many interesting photos and stories from my Ghana visit and I’m going to share them here are there over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here are a few panoramic glimpses of my first trip to West Africa. The view from Escape 3 Points, an ecolodge near the village of Cape Three Points. I really enjoyed my stay in this remote part of the world. Cape Three Points is at 4 degrees latitude and 2 degrees longitude, the closest land point to the geographic center of the world. Beach near the town of Akwidaa, not far from Cape Three Points. I love the grainy, scratchy effect of this film — it matches the weather conditions that I experienced in Ghana. I was there at the end of the rainy season and the weather was unseasonably cool (i.e., not a boiling sauna). I hardly saw the sun during the six days I was there, which was frustrating in some ways but also saved me a […]

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36 Hours in the Lowcountry

Hooray for WordPress, who Freshly Pressed Voortrekker: My New Favorite Afrikaans Word on Thursday. Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, and subscribed to my blog over the last few days. For new readers expecting posts about South Africa: I’m in the States and have been blogging about America for the past two weeks. I’ll return to my usual subject matter later this week. ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦ Between stints in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, I squeezed in a 36-hour visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where my mother lives. Hilton Head is a small island in the “Lowcountry” – a marshy region along the South Carolina/Georgia coast made famous by the movie Forrest Gump. A Hilton Head marsh – classic Lowcountry topography.

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Moonrise Over the South Coast

Joe and I are in KwaZulu Natal Province, in an area called the South Coast. We’re staying in a drafty cabin less than a mile from the Indian Ocean. The South Coast is known for sunshine and humid heat, but for the last few days it’s been rainy and downright cold. We’ve been busy the last few days, working and traveling and dealing with family issues. Today was particularly exhausting. Joe and I were so emotionally drained this evening that we could hardly speak during dinner. Then we walked outside and saw the moon. The moon was full two days ago, but it was hidden by clouds until tonight.

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