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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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Man flyfishing in Stanford Lake

Magoebaskloof: 13 Pictures of a Beautiful, Misty Morning

Magoebaskloof, a mountainous region in South Africa’s Limpopo Province between Polokwane and Tzaneen, is referred to on its tourism website as “the Land of the Silver Mist”. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. Fly-fishing at sunrise on Magoebaskloof’s misty Stanford Lake. I arrived in Magoebaskloof on Friday afternoon with a bunch of Instagrammers, on a mission to visit as many interesting places as possible in less than 48 hours. On our first morning we rose at the crack of dawn (actually before the crack) and walked down to Stanford Lake, where a magical, misty dreamworld unfolded before us. Reflections and lily pads on the glassy lake, just before sunrise. I’ve got hundreds of Magoebaskloof photos, and I’m actually still here (I decided 48 hours wasn’t enough) and accumulating more and more. But for now I’m just posting my favorite pictures from that first morning. Morning Mist in Magoebaskloof Fly-fishing is the most beautiful thing in the world to photograph on a misty morning. Who knew? A teenage boy fly-fishing.  I don’t think he caught any fish. But really, who cares? Mist, reflections, and a hint of sun. More fly-fishing. I’m glad I wasn’t the one in that freezing water. But it […]

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Sunset in Alexandra Township

A Walk Through Alexandra Township

A couple of weeks ago I took a walk through Alexandra Township, aka Alex, as part of an event sponsored by an Alex-based tourism company called The Hub Presents and a travel networking organization called Travel Massive. I’ve been to Alex many times but I never turn down an opportunity to go back, as I believe Alex deserves more love as a tourist destination. A child runs next to the bank of the Jukskei River, a trickling waterway that runs through Alex. I don’t want to say too much about this walk because I’m definitely going to do a full-length tour with the Hub Presents — it seems like such a cool company and I want to experience all of its offerings before doing a full review. But here are a few photos in the meantime. Kids playing in a new park built along the banks of the Jukskei.  Interesting car wash sign. I chatted briefly to the owners but couldn’t get a clear answer on what the sign actually means. Our guide, Sifiso, explained that this sewage pipe used to be one of the only places where pedestrians could cross the Jukskei. Fortunately there is a new pedestrian bridge now. A child […]

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Wild Cats Belong in the Wild: #AnimalRightsInTourism

I hadn’t planned to write a blog post today, and I don’t normally use my blog as a soap box. But then I woke up this morning and heard about the #AnimalRightsInTourism campaign. If you live in South Africa or the United States, you probably saw last month’s terrible story about an American tourist who was killed in the Lion Park. The Lion Park, about 30 minutes north of Johannesburg, is a zoo-like game reserve where tourists go for an up-close look at lions and other big cats. One of the biggest attractions at the Lion Park is lion-cub-petting, in which visitors enter enclosures with big cat cubs (up to six months old) and are invited to interact with them. (The tourist was mauled by a lioness in the drive-through section of the park. Despite warnings to keep car windows up, the woman had her window open.) I confess that I’ve never been to the Lion Park. But about four years ago I went to the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, not far from the Lion Park, which offers similar activities. I knew nothing about these cub-petting programs at the time, but while I was in the reserve I saw a couple interacting with a tiger cub and felt really unnerved. First, […]

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Jozi Top Fives: Walking Tours Edition

I wrote a feature about Joburg walking tours for the February 2015 issue of BA High Life magazine. I’m really excited about the article but you’ll only be able to read the full feature if you’re flying on British Airways in Southern Africa this month. Here’s a screen shot of the first page of the article.  I posted screenshots of the article on Facebook and it garnered so much interest that I’ve decided to do a shortened version for the blog. And since five walking tours were featured in the article it provides a perfect excuse to revive my “Jozi Top Fives” series from last year. So here are my five favorite Joburg walking tours, in no particular order. 1) JoburgPlaces: Regenerated Inner City Tour I’ve written about Gerald Garner’s JoburgPlaces tours many times before: See here and here and here. I like his Regenerated Inner City tour the best because it provides a great overview of how Joburg was born and how it became the city that it is today. Gerald has a special way of telling Joburg’s story and he also has access to many of the best rooftops in town. A feral cat outside the Anglo American building on […]

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Urban Hiking, Jozi Fashion, Mexican Rooftopping, and an Underground Feast

It’s a long title, I know. I can’t help it though — it was an eventful day. The purpose of the JCTA media weekend (read about the beginning of the weekend here) was to show the media (and the world) the great things downtown Joburg has to offer. And this city offers a lot. Therefore we were very busy on Saturday and we all had a ridiculously good time. Here is a photographic narrative of my day.

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On Holiday in My Own City

This past weekend, I joined 75 journalist/writer/blogger/photographers on 48-hour whirlwind tour of the Joburg inner city, sponsored by the Joburg City Tourism Association. It will come as no surprise that I had an amazing, bad-ass time. This is me, having a bad-ass time in the Joburg inner city. (Photo: Gareth Pon or Tim Van Rooyen. Not sure which.)

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What I Didn’t Know About Joburg

“You know more about Joburg than most South Africans.” People say this to me all the time. I hear it so often that I started to believe it. Even though I’ve lived in Joburg for less than three years, I had begun to think of myself as an authority on all things Jozi. Then I went on the JoburgPlaces “Regenerated Inner-City Walking Tour”, led by Gerald Garner. During this tour I realized that, actually, I don’t know as much as I thought I did. Pretty downtown building glimpsed from a rapid-transit bus platform in downtown Jozi.

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Mystery Monument to Be Revealed. But When?

UPDATE: The mystery monument was revealed in May 2013. Read about the monument here. I went on an amazing walking tour of the Jozi CBD yesterday, led by Gerlad Garner of Joburg Places. I’ll have a lot to say about this tour in a future post. For now, here are a couple of Instagrams. Wide-angle shot of the Rissik Street Post Office, one of Joburg’s most historic buildings. 

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Stolen Shots of Hillbrow

My recent tour of Ponte City, hosted by Mainstreetwalks and Dlala Nje, included a Saturday-afternoon stroll in Hillbrow. I go to Hillbrow at least a couple of times a week for boxing training but I don’t walk around the neighborhood with my camera very often, especially not on weekends when the streets are most busy. So I was excited for this opportunity. Art deco apartment block in Hillbrow.

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Ponte City, Inside and Out

Ponte City is a mythical place. Ponte City, the tallest residential building in Africa. Ponte City is the most visually striking structure in Johannesburg, and its history is as fascinating as its appearance. Ponte has 54 floors and hundreds of flats. A few decades ago it was a trendy middle-class apartment building. Later it became the city’s largest brothel and dope den, ruled by gangs, thugs, pimps, and dealers.

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The Magical Village of Hugel-Bugel

Part 2 of a 3-part series about the Cederberg Heritage Route. Read Part 1 here and Part 3 here. When I left off at the end of my previous post, my two friends and I had just arrived via donkey cart in Heuningvlei, a traditional farming village in the Cederberg Wilderness Area. We were welcomed by three adorable children. You met the boy on the left in my previous post. I’m sort of at a loss on how to describe Heuningvlei. First, I’m incapable of pronouncing the word, which means ‘honey lake’ or ‘honey swamp’ in Afrikaans. It’s pronounced something like ‘HYEN-ing-fly’ but that’s not quite right. My friend Michelle (a fellow American non-Afrikaans speaker) christened the village ‘Hugel-Bugel’ and the name stuck.

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