10 Cool Things to Do in 28 Hours in Franschhoek in Winter

A taste of the many things on offer in the winelands!

1) Visit the art gallery and wine cellars at Glen Carlou

2) Visit local potter, Nico Liebenberg, at his workshop

3) Enjoy a fantastic lunch at Babel

4) Roam the gardens at Babylonstoren then climb “the mountain” for terrific views

5) Olive and wine tasting at La Bourgogne

6) Beer tasting at Tuk Tuk microbrewery

7) Shop for art in town and at Grand Provence

8) Hike one of our favorite trails at Mont Rochelle

9) Wine tasting at Rupert & Rothschild

and top it off with…

10) Cheese tasting at Dalewood Cheese Farm

Then back in Cape Town for sunset!

Great Luggage for Safaris

The perfect solution to those light aircraft luggage restrictions

Load Hauler Expandable

If your safari includes traveling between camps in light aircraft, you’ll need to use luggage that works within the airlines’ requirements.  The luggage compartments of these planes are limited in space and thus the need to have soft sided luggage. While some of the companies will let us get by with our beloved 22″ bags with 3 soft sides, most require that the bags be soft-sided all around and no wheels.  When wheels aren’t allowed, I’ve found Eagle Creek’s Load Hauler to be the perfect solution.  It offers the space of a duffel while providing the option of carrying it as backpack which lightens the load while traveling through airports.

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Summer Vibe in Cape Town

Start planning your escape to Cape Town next winter! While its cold and snowy here, what’s better than to be in one of the coolest cities in the world. Cape Town simply oozes a great summer vibe, with tons of energy, outdoor cafes, breathtaking sunsets, gorgeous coastlines, invigorating hiking, great shopping, trendy restaurants, open air concerts, wineries, and festivals!

A few of our favorite things to do in and around Cape Town in the summer:

  • Hiking up and around the top of Table Mountain – views in all directions – and staying up there for the sunset!
  • Having a picnic and jammin” with the crowd in a gorgeous setting at one of the summer concerts at Kirstenbosch Gardens
  • Enjoying drinks at one of the vibey bars with ocean views (a current personal favorite is WAFU in Mouille Point)
  • Dining with sand, candelabras, the ocean and movies playing in the old lobster shed and an all around relaxed and funky atmosphere at the Grand Cafe & Beach Granger
  • Enjoying South African wine… in the the winelands, at the beach, outdoor cafes, nice restaurants, on picnics….
  • Riding in the Cape Argus Cycling Tour (the world’s largest individually timed bike race) with its spectacular views
  • Visiting GS Giving Circle supported projects, the townships and meeting locals with James and his team at Uthando

 

Whether you visit for two days or two weeks, Cape Town offers an unending supply of culture and diversity. No visit to South Africa should miss Cape Town! Check out this slideshow for a glimpse of all there is to see and do in Cape Town.

3 Tips To Make Your Long Haul Flights More Comfortable

Thanks to years of traveling back and forth from the states to Africa and other special places around the world, Priscilla has three simple yet extremely useful tips to make your long haul flights more comfortable. They are:

1. Get a great seat:

  • If there is an option for Economy Plus on the long haul, we feel it is worth it for the extra cost. You won’t have significantly more space, however, you won’t feel so lost in the masses as you are further forward in the plane with a bit more attention paid to you.
  • As soon as you make your reservation, try to get your seat assignment. SeatGuru can be a big help with this. We find a few rows behind bulkhead to be best. If you are traveling alone, try for the aisle seat in the middle section of the plane. Oftentimes, this increases the chances that the seat next to you will be empty and thus you can essentially stretch out in two seats.

2. Have an inflatable neck pillow:

  • These are easy to buy online or in the airport. The advantage to the inflatable neck pillow is that, once deflated, you can easily store it in your luggage taking up virtually no space. It makes a big difference in providing neck support when you relax or sleep on the flight.

3. Wax Ear Plugs and Noise Reduction headphones:

  • We recommend the wax earplugs for when you want to sleep and not watch any entertainment.
  • Noise reduction headphones are for entertainment (listening to music, watching the inflight movies, etc). We always have both. It has been found that one of the biggest impacts on jet lag is the noise from the plane. Trying to reduce that can make a big difference in how you feel upon arrival.

 

Hands On Fun Experience at the Eziko Cooking School!

One of the most rewarding things to do when traveling is to get insight into the local culture, and we find there is no better way to do this is than with an interactive experience with locals. Even better is when this experience helps support the local community! The Eziko cooking school in Langa (Cape Town) offers visitors such a unique opportunity.

  • Eziko (a Xhosa word meaning “at the hearth”) was established by a former Langa high school teacher who recognized a need in his community
  • The school teaches young adults cooking skills so they will be able to find employment and create their own businesses in the future
  • Visitors not only visit but get a cooking lesson in traditional African “home” cuisine and then enjoy the fruits of their labor! Hands on access to such foods and food preparation is very difficult for outsiders and this experience provides a very unique opportunity for cultural exchange and insight

 
Priscilla and several Global Sojourns clients experienced a cooking class at Eziko’s under the watchful eye of specialty guide Pam McOnie, one of our favorite local foodies and wine experts. They loved the hands on interaction! Pam was instrumental in helping to create the cooking classes available to visitors at Eziko. It’s a very interesting story actually. We highly recommend you visit Pam’s website to read more about it.

Our client, Karen Johnson, sums up the experience best:

“What a great way to end our trip! having an authentic experience of cooking and eating traditional foods was one of my favorite activities of the trip. Pam was so knowledgeable about the township and Eziko’s effect on local youth. Victor, founder of the school, gave us some fascinating history about hearth rituals along with samples of some special offerings. Then there was Victor’s mom, Mama Lindy, a remarkable person and wonderful instructor, who helped us to understand foods of the traditional hearth while we prepared a truly delicious meal. Long live samp and beans!”

Magical Elephant Experience on the Chobe River


Imagine these massive, proud elephants (the old and their babies) humbled by an inescapable daily need for tons of food; and a deep, crocodile infested river between them and their food source. Add to this the loving nature of them crossing, single file, together, with large bulls in front and submerged calves in back with only their trunks showing above the water. Finally, paint the picture with elephant greys, dark blue water/sky, snow-white clouds and a setting sun. Together you have a magical experience that after 30 years of watching elephants (probably in the thousands) I’ve never experienced. So I asked for my own boat to go out to the wading elephants so that I could just be near them, hear them, smell them and experience this wonderfully special moment which I’ll never forget.

-Peter Macy

One of our Top 5 Favorite Hikes in the World – Robberg Peninsula


On a warm, clear blue day we were surrounded by the majestic, dark blue-green ocean; as well as massive, snow-white waves loudly crashing into geysers against the ancient, yet determinedly steadfast coastal rocks of Robberg Peninsula as we walked on rocky and sandy paths through the indigenous, wind-hardened, brown/green flora under our feet. Priscilla and I have been blessed to have traversed the world but we both found our 4-hour hike to be one of our “top 5” in the world. The rich diversity of coastal flora, complete absence of tourists, just the right amount of exertion and amazing aquatic display of playful seals, birthing whales, traveling dolphins and hunting sharks made for an unforgettable experience in South Africa’s Western Cape Province.

We then spoiled ourselves with a stay at the wonderful Periwinkle Lodge in Plettenberg. Great decor, very comfy and best of all, it has a gorgeous view of the bay and of Robberg Peninsula! Dinner out at the Lookout Deck for more great views and dolphin sightings while we feasted on “tuna loin” and fresh shrimp.

-Peter Macy

Madagascar- I can’t wait to return!

Through the years, I’ve visited some pretty remote places. However, until now Madagascar had not been one of them, although it sat high at the top of my “would love to see” list. Two weeks ago I finally took my first trip to this unique island country in the Indian Ocean – visiting the capital and northern part of the island.  With just a 3 hour flight from Johannesburg, I was in another world.  Stops included:

  • Antananaarivo (capital, located in central Madagascar)
  • Diego Suarez
  • Amber Mountain National Park
  • Ankarana Reserve
  • Nosy Be and nearby islands

 

At first I had mixed feelings.  Much of what I saw (both lush and mountainous rainforests, white sandy beaches and warm sea, traditional culture, rare plant and animal species) could be seen in other countries (e.g. Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mozambique, Malawi). But then I realized… how utterly unique it is to see such a mix in one country- and that’s just with a visit to the north!

And of course, there are the lemurs. And the fact that Madagascar is home to 80% of endemic fauna and flora.

What I especially loved was experiencing a variety of terrain and seeing local culture largely untouched by commercialism and mass tourism. Such a rare encounter these days.

I loved that Madagascar is still very wild and untrodden, and VERY off the beaten path.  However, that means that the infrastructure, especially for tourism, is limited and in some places, nonexistent.  A few of the most visited places (Antananarivo and Nosy Be) do have some 4* accommodation options but most of the less trodden and, in my opinion, more interesting destinations offer very basic accommodations (but always great food on offer!).  Also, distances between the national parks & reserves are often significant with pot-holed roads and limited internal flights. But that just adds excitement to the overall experience!

So… for those who love nature, who seek out locales that are still quite untamed, who don’t mind simple accommodations and are up for adventure, my guess is that you will love Madagascar! For myself, I can’t wait to go back and explore other parts of this unique country- Isalo Massif, Morondava, Ranomafana…!

We’ve got a GS small group trip to Madagascar in the works so be sure to get in touch with us if you are interested!  For those preferring an adventure on your own, we’re happy to set that up for you as well.  Just email us and we’ll get started on your Madagascar adventure!

 

 

 

Can’t Wait To Do It Again! Kirstenbosch Gardens’ Jazz Concert, Cape Town

It’s been on my “I sooo want to do this” list forever- to attend one of the summer concerts offered at Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town.  I loved it!  Listening to local jazz artists, enjoying a picnic with friends, sipping great wine and being in a FABULOUS setting made for one terrific evening.  I can’t wait to do it again!

-Priscilla

Matthews Mountain Range- A Kenyan Gem

The moment I arrived at Kitich Camp, I knew this was a gem.  The camp is in a stunning location overlooking the gorge of the Ngeng River, has just 6 tents- comfy, traditional and low impact, and is the only camp in the Matthews Mountain Range in Kenya.

But it was the walk in the lush forest to look for elephant with the Samburu warriors that ensured  Kitich would become one of my all-time favorite places. For those who love getting well off the beaten track, we highly recommend putting this on your list of must-see places!

  • Pristine mountain wilderness
  • Lush indigenous forest with cycads and wild orchids
  • A truly unique forest wildlife experience
  • Walk along forest footpaths guided by Samburu warriors and Ndorobo guides to see elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, warthogs…
  • Learn traditional ways of tracking wildlife
  • Remote yet accessible
  • Only 6 guest tents
  • High eco and cultural preservation standards