Pop-Up Camps SA in the Overberg

We recently visited Pop-Up Camps SA’s pop-up camp at the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Oh, what a magnificent and eye-opening experience! 

We were able to spot a few whales and got to experience the coast on a whole new level. Pop-Up Camps SA is famous for their unique settings such as De Hoop and we are excited to see which spots they choose in 2018. 

Here is a glimpse of what to expect. Be sure to visit their webpage, popupcamps.co.za, to see where they’ll be popping up next! 

Also keep your eyes pealed for the Beeld newspaper (South Africa), where you will be able to read more about this rare and wonderful experience. 


Written and recorded by: Renate Engelbrecht

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Desert Destinations

With all the possible holiday destinations, it can be quite overwhelming when planning your travels. Since we are entering warmer temperatures again, Travelling Mystery Guest took a look at some interesting desert destinations to visit. Some are in our neighbouring countries and some are very far, never the less, they do not disappoint:

  1. Canyon Lodge, Namibia

Located near the Fish River Canyon, not only does this lodge provide activities for all visitors, but their unique stone chalets will make you feel part of the beautiful Namibian desert. For South Africans, this lodge is not too far from home and for international travellers, this oasis is worth the distance.

  1. Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa

Located in the lush Catarpe Valley of the Salt Mountain Range (in Chile, South America), this destination is for those looking to travel further than South Africa’s neighbouring desert. Similar to the architectural design of the Canyon Lodge, the Alto Atacama Desert Lodge blends in with its surroundings, making you feel part of the terracotta ridge that rises behind it.

  1. Kubu Island
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Baobab in Botswana

Though this island’s location may not be defined as desert, the Kubu Island in Botswana (in the Makgadikgadi Pan area), consists of dry granite rock that features some beautiful Baobabs. An interesting fact about this destination is that the entire island is a national monument and it is considered sacred by the natives living in the area.

  1. Salvador Dali Desert, Bolivia

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The name of this desert, originating from the environment’s resemblance to Salvador Dali’s landscapes, already paints a picture in our minds of what to expect from this desert destination. It consists of long stretches of rocky hills, sand dunes and lagoons. So if it’s really desert that you’re after, you’ll find it here. This desert is in South America (close to Chile).

  1. Luxury Desert Camp in Erg Chebbi

Erg Chebbi is one of Morocco’s two Saharan ergs (a sand sea), the other is Erg Chigaga. The Luxury Desert Camp provides a true Moroccan experience in the desert, with the culture adding to every aspect of this camp. Camping in tents completed with Moroccan décor whilst surrounded by camels and the sun setting behind a dune would be an amazing experience!

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

 

 

Eikendal Vineyards swirls Cheesecake & Wine Pairings this Summer

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Zesty citrus flavours, followed by a rich berry delight Eikendal Cheesecake & Wine HR (1)and rounded off by a sultry salted caramel enchantment. These are the delectable cheesecakes that are on offer at Eikendal Vineyards as part of their brand new Cheesecake and Wine Pairing Experience – the first Stellenbosch wine estate to offer this.

Eikendal’s crisp Sauvignon Blanc pairs like a summer’s breeze with the creamy Lemon Cheesecake, while the plump Berry Cheesecake fuses seamlessly with the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay blend. The pairing ends on a high note with the estate’s award-winning Janina Unwooded Chardonnay, which brings out her charm alongside the decadent Salted Caramel Cheesecake. All worth every single calorie!

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Eikendal, conveniently situated between Stellenbosch and Somerset West on the R44, isEikendal Cheesecake & Wine HR (7) renowned for its award-winning, internationally acclaimed wines. Apart from the Cheesecake & Wine Pairing Experience, visitors can enjoy a Wine Tasting (which includes a tasting of the estate’s exclusive Icon range), a Cookie Tasting for the young ones, Cellar Tours, Fly Fishing, Cheetah Encounters, Vineyard Rides and a kids’ play area. The popular Cucina di Giovanni offers languid lunches and dinners and visitors even have the option of extending their Eikendal Experience by spending the night at the Eikendal Lodge.

The Eikendal Cheesecake & Wine Pairing Experience costs R80 per person and will be swirling the senses from October 2017 until April 2018, Tuesdays to Sundays between 10:00 and 16:30.

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To book for this sensory indulgence or for any queries relating to the Eikendal Experience, contact Chantal-Lee at 021 855 1422 or send an email to info@eikendal.co.za.

Grape Expectations for British Airways’ New Port

British Airways has added Graham’s Six Grapes, the Port favoured by Sir Winston Churchill, to its business class (Club World) drinks menu.

Mr. Churchill looking very relaxed with a glass of Graham's after lunch

Mr. Churchill looking very relaxed with a glass of Graham’s Six Grapes after lunch.

Back then it was known as Graham’s Vintage Character Port and was served to his guests at Chartwell House, his country home. The historic Port has a rich bouquet of ripe plums and cherries and will pair particularly well with the desserts and cheeses on board, in particular the Roasted White Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart and the Cheddar and Camembert with Spiced Mulled Apple Jelly.

Colin Talbot, British Airways’ head of catering, said: “Port is incredibly popular in Club World – last year alone nearly 41,000 bottles were served to our business class customers, so we are delighted to be adding Graham’s Six Grapes to the menu.  At altitude it holds its flavour well, thanks to its good structure and with the long lingering finish, it will wonderfully complement the dessert and cheese selection on flights.”

Additionally, British Airways launched a new restaurant-style premium dining service in Club World, with display trolleys allowing customers to select dishes from a choice of freshly prepared starters and desserts served on beautiful new table settings. The airline also announced a sleep partnership with The White Company and the British retailer will supply bedding and amenity kits in Club World to ensure customers get a good night’s sleep in the sky.

The new style dining and bedding is part of British Airways’ multi-million pound investment plan to benefit its customers, with a focus on excellence in the premium cabins and more choice and quality for all.

Four hundred million pounds will be spent on Club World with an emphasis on improved catering and sleep, as well as a new seat in the future. At Heathrow a First Wing check-in area with direct security and lounge access has launched and lounges around the airline’s network are to be revamped and improved. The Club Europe cabin has also been introduced on UK domestic services and all customers can look forward to the latest generation Wi-Fi across British Airways’ long-haul and short-haul fleets over the next two years.

Spring at its best

The Hertford, as it’s colloquially called, has impressed us this past weekend with some of the best cuisine and an almost rural feel.

The Hertford Country House and Function Venue, situated just around the corner from Lanseria International Airport, has just launched their spring menu, an array of delicious dishes with choices for diners of any kind. Their fillets were tender and tasty, their halloumi starters were not only generous, but divine and they offered a dessert buffet with some local treats like malva pudding, panacotta and a zesty lemon cheesecake.

For a Sunday lunch, this is the perfect spot. It was a lovely spring day under the trees and guests came streaming in for either the new menu, some additional a la carte options or their impressive tapas and lazily sipped on locally sourced wines like Leapord’s Leap‘s Merlot. Two tame horses checked in every now and again, carefully pruning the mulberry tree that proudly offered shade to visitors with its new spring leaves and birds were chirping happily, echoing my relief for a winter that’s gone by.

Horses enjoying the new spring leaves of the mulberry trees that offer shade to the guests

Horses enjoying the new spring leaves of the mulberry trees that offer shade to the guests

Contact The Hertford for bookings and more information: 084 761 2017 / hotel@hertford.co.za

Hotel Verde

South Africa has many impressive hotels and among them is Hotel Verde. The hotel is situated in Cape Town near the airport and it is South Africa’s greenest Hotel. Hotel Verde has won many prestigious awards and is an inspiration to other South African businesses to go green. Travelling Mystery Guest did a short interview with them to share their story with the hospitality industry.

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“Verde” means green in Italian. Is this where the name, Hotel Verde, originated from? 

It is Mario Delicio, along with his wife Annamarie, who are the owners and directors of Hotel Verde. They are originally from Italy, so this is where the Italian influence comes from, particularly in our restaurant, called Nuovo. It was the Delicio’s daughter, Anika, who came up with the name, Hotel Verde, to pay homage to the family’s Italian heritage and the hotel’s sustainability concepts.

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Hotel Verde opened its doors in 2013 and you have already won a few awards. Was it difficult at the beginning to convince consumers to be more eco-friendly? 

Hotel Verde Cape Town has been designed green – we hold a double LEED platinum certification by the United States Green Building Council, which looks at both design and construction, as well as daily operation and maintenance. A guest’s carbon footprint is reduced simply by staying at our hotel, so it hasn’t been difficult to encourage guests to be Eco-friendly. In most cases the choice to stay with us is already a sustainable decision. If they wish, guests can make their stay even more sustainable by using our energy-generating gym equipment, opting to take the stairs over the elevator, or reusing their bath towels. We also have a guest incentive program that rewards guests for going the extra mile in this way. By making Eco-friendly choices during their stay, guests can earn Verdinos and each Verdino is equivalent to R5, which can be redeemed against purchases at the hotel during their stay.

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Being quite the trendsetter in South-Africa, are you planning to expand? 

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Our parent company, Verde Hotels, offers sustainable hospitality solutions with a turnkey approach. They currently operate within Africa and are developing a resort in Zanzibar, which will open in late 2017. This will be the second hotel under the Verde Hotels brand.

 

 

Was it expensive to start the hotel? Considering all the special equipment that you use?

The green budget of nearly 11% makes it possible that today, Hotel Verde Cape Town can operate the hotel at only 35% of water usage and a 35 % of power usage of a conventional hotel of the same size. It is therefore the best investment in the long term.

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Are you continuously adding new ways to preserve the earth? 

As technology progresses, new and more efficient practices are made possible. We are always on the lookout for improvements at Hotel Verde and continually strive to regularly review daily operations in an effort to go greener. An example would be our approach to the current water crisis in the Cape – we have created additional signage to encourage guests to save water and only refill conferencing water bottles on request, among other implementations. For our brand, the newest example would also be the new Hotel Verde Zanzibar, which in some areas have equipment even more efficient than what was purchased 5 years ago for Hotel Verde Cape Town.

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Who / what was the main inspiration for the start of Verde hotels? 

The Delicio family believes that we all have a responsibility to the planet and should live sustainably; it was this thinking that inspired them to conceptualize not only a hotel, but Africa’s greenest hotel. Each member of the family has had a hand in making Hotel Verde the way we know it today and our staff ensure that our values and sustainable practices work towards staying Africa’s greenest.

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Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

A special thank you to Taryn Hickson, Marketing and Brand Manager at Hotel Verde, who agreed to the interview.

Get out, look up & be amazed

Winter evenings in South Africa can be chilly, but if you spend all your time inside, you’ll miss out on one of winter’s famous attractions – the night sky. The clear, cold winter nights of the Southern Hemisphere often offer perfect conditions for stargazing.

Shaun Pozyn, Head of Marketing for British Airways (operated by Comair) suggests the following places to do some amateur astronomy, as well as other attractions for each:

Stargazing in winter

HOGSBACK

Just over three hours’ drive from Port Elizabeth, this small town in the Amatole mountains of the Eastern Cape often has snow in winter and is frequently misty, but because of its many very clear nights and very few artificial lights, it can offer good stargazing opportunities.

Some visitors say Hogsback reminds them of The Shire in The Lord of the Rings books and movies, and the area is said to have inspired the more idyllic, pastoral parts of JRR Tolkien’s epic works. While you’re no more likely to see short people with hairy feet there than anywhere else, it does have many other attractions.

Mountain-bikers love the trails in the area. There are also hiking-trails to suit any fitness level and local restaurants offer everything from pub-grub to fine dining. See www.hogsbackinfo.co.za

SUTHERLAND

Star-gazing can be very rewarding with just the naked eye and a flask of something to keep you warm, but if you want some technology on your side, you can head to Sutherland, about four hours’ drive from Cape Town. Sutherland is world-famous for its stars and its SALT (Southern African Large Telescope), one of the biggest optical telescopes in the world.

The SAAO (Southern African Astronomical Observatory) has set up several telescopes for visitors, and the Sterland guesthouse, for example, offers telescopes for guests’ use. Day-time attractions in the area include hiking and four-by-four trails. See www.sutherlandinfo.co.za. Sutherland is often one of the coldest places in the country, but that hasn’t stopped a steady flow of visitors going there to stare into the universe and to, appropriately, give the experience 4.5/5 stars on www.tripadvisor.com

NAMIBIA

Away from its towns, Namibia has very little light pollution. The desert climate boasts very few clouds, allowing for excellent stargazing. In fact, alongside Hawaii and Chile, Namibia as among the world’s best places to do so. There are many guided tours and a number of guesthouses have telescopes for guests’ use, like Hakos Guest Farm and Tivoli Southern Sky Guest Farm.

Straddling the border between South Africa and Namibia, the ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park has a starkly beautiful mountain-desert landscape and is essentially uninhabited. This means no light pollution, or pollution of any sort, creating ideal conditions for astronomy. Visitors have also found the lack of cell phone coverage liberating. (Also see our post about Digitial Detox). There are plenty of campsites, but you’ll need a four-by-four vehicle to traverse the park. The Orange River has some excellent fly-fishing too.