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AFRICAN THUNDER STORMS

How to photograph lightning

Have you ever looked at a thunderstorm and wondered how to take a perfect picture to capture the beauty of lightning?In South Africa, we get some very powerful thunderstorms and perfect opportunities to photograph lightning.

This is what I do: As most lightning storms in SA will occur in the afternoons or evenings it doesn’t mean that you sit and wait the whole day for the storm to appear on the horizon.

African Thunder Storms

No, you first have to do a bit of homework. From early in the morning, I will regularly have a look at weather Websites like http://www.africaweather.com and www.yr.no

to see if there are any storms brewing in the area or what the forecast will be for the rest of the day and evening…

From here I can decide what routes to follow and where my best chances will be for photographing storms and lightning.

African Tunder Storms

HTTP://WWW.AFRICAWEATHER.COM

Offer a subscription service where you can subscribe to an early warning SMS service and where you will be able to have a look on their Radar service on the website to see where the storms are etc. I will have my camera gear ready, lenses clean and batteries charged. Ready for the moment I need to scramble and do a bit of “Storm Chasing”.

No, not Storm Chasing like you see on the Discovery Channel of guys chasing tornadoes in the USA in their heavily armored vehicles, more like getting in my normal everyday car with at least half a tank of diesel and myself armored with a bottle of water for the road and a packet of wine gums to keep me awake on my way back late at night.

African thunder storms

Then, if everything goes according to plan I will head out in a direction and see if I can get in front of an approaching storm. What I have noticed the last couple of years while doing this kind of photography that you will get better lightning shots and less rain in front of a storm. Try to stay in front of the storm the whole time.

African thunder stroms

These storms can move fast and you really need to know the area very well to know where to drive. Once you are in front of the storm, at a good spot with a good view you can start setting up.

Get out the tripod, camera, lens (preferably wide angle lenses if the storm is close enough). As you will be shooting at night it is wise to have a torch or headlamp nearby the whole time. A soft cloth to clean the lens from dust or raindrops will come in handy as well. I set my lens to manual focus and using the Live View try to focus on an object in the distance or you can even set the focus to “infinity” on the lens itself if possible. Good focus is very important.

will set my Camera to “M” for Manual or “B” for Bulb so that I can set the desired shutter speed and aperture manually. To keep the shutter open for longer than 30 seconds you will need a remote shutter release to make sure you will not get any camera shake while taking the photo. If the storms is a bit far from me (let’s say about 10km or more) I will set the Aperture to F/4 or even F/3.5. This way you will get more light because of the bigger aperture and you will even see a lightning bolt way in the distance.

African thunder storms

When the storm gets very close, I normally change to a smaller Aperture like F/5.6 or F8. As the lightning strikes, it will be much closer and the light intensity will be very high.  The smaller Aperture will then allow less light into the camera.

Depending on how many lightning strikes you want in the photo and the ambient light available in the area you can keep the shutter open as long as you want. I normally keep it open for approximately a minute or less. Just keep shooting and try to stick to basic rules like “The rule of thirds”, straight horizons etc. If the storm gets too close try moving ahead again.

Please think of your own safety the whole time. Don’t stand under or too close to a tree, under electrical wires or too close to radio masts. You will be looking for trouble if you do!!! If you’re feeling really scared rather get back into your vehicle. Don’t take chances with lightning!!! Just keep to these basic rules and you will get those lightning photos you always wanted.

By Des Jacobs www.desjacobs.com www.afriscapes.com (Photo tours and workshops)

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New in Sabie – Loggers Pub & Grill

An opportunity arose for Zander McDonald and his daughter, Joni Smit, to buy an existing eatery in Sabie Mpumalanga.  Zander has been in Forestry most of his life and Joni is a Goldsmith; none of them had any restaurant or hospitality experience but this minor obstacle didn’t scare them.

Loggers Pub & Grill Zander decided to use Forestry and Bikes as the theme for the restaurant as that is what Sabie is best known for, hence the name Loggers Pub & Grill. The eatery was refurbished for 3 weeks. With Zander’s exceptional taste, eye for detail and some help from friends, Loggers Pub & Grill where born

Loggers Pud & Grill

Although Zander and Joni are the owners of Loggers Pub & Grill, Sonja helps a lot with, basically everything… Sonja is the glue that holds this pub in place.

Henk Le Roux, from La Provance, supplied the profile timber products to create the rustic yet cosy ambience.

Contact Henk for your profile timber products: 083 566 2334

The Turpentine Wood (solid wood live edge slab) for the bar counter was supplied by Denzil Lawrie from Woodfella.

They specialize in exceptional furniture timber – not your everyday timber products that you find everywhere.

Contact Denzil for exclusive custom cut furniture timber: 082 455 7153

Woodfella

These beautiful lights were made by Brian van Rensburg from MR. B. crafts & creations. Brian and his wife, Jaque, basically did most of the Decor and woodwork; they played a huge role in the finishing touches of this intimate gem in Sabie.

Call Brian for unique custom made Decor items or any woodwork you need: 082 927 2574

This is Zander’s baby, fully functional and runs on Nitro Gas. It’s hanging in the restaurant because Sonja doesn’t want him to ride it.

Zander

The unique children’s play area consists of two fully functional green jeeps that Zander build, he just took out the batteries and keys. I wasn’t surprised to see the Dads enjoying the area just as much as the kids.

Ruan

International Chef, Paul Westergreen, is in charge of the kitchen.  His style is a mixture of Indonesian, Malaysian,  Thai & The Seychelles to name but a few.

All these influences helped him to create his own unique cooking style. Curries are his speciality and, believe me, he makes scrumptious curry dishes!

Loggers Pub & Grill

Loggers Pub & Grill caters for private events; they also do special theme evenings.  The Sushi evenings are very popular with the locals.

Breakfast

With their inviting atmosphere,  friendly staff, delicious food and reasonable prices, Loggers Pub & Grill is a true asset to Sabie and definitely worth a second, third and fourth visit.

Make sure to visit them next time you are in the area.

Written by: Ista van Zyl

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Get To Know Carolina

Carolina is a town situated on the Johannesburg to Swaziland route (R33 and R38) in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The town lies in the grass and wetlands region of Mpumalanga at 1700 meters above sea level. It is a mixed farming and small-scale coal- and precious-stone-mining community.

Get To Know Carolina

In the late 19th Century there was an important wagon route from Johannesburg to the gold fields of the Kaap Valley in the East. Farmers in the area that was to become Carolina decided to establish a town as a stopover for wagon trains, and one of them, CJ Coetzee offered them a portion of his farm providing the town was named after his wife. Carolina was duly established in 1882 and named after her. The town was proclaimed in 1885. The village was totally destroyed during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War and was later rebuilt.

Situated in the vicinity of Carolina is the magnificent Komati Gorge and linked Komati River. This beautiful area allows for many a day picnicking, swimming, fishing, hiking, boating or just generally relaxing and soaking up the warm sun. Numerous exciting watersports can be enjoyed. In addition, this lovely area is home to an abundance of vibrant birds. The Komati area is any bird lovers delight! Situated just to the North West of Carolina is the picturesque Nooitgedacht Nature Reserve. This nature reserve is a very popular birding area and home to more than 200 species of spectacular birds. In addition to birding, there are also a few exciting horse and hiking trails that can be enjoyed in the Carolina area. Most of these lovely trails are day trails, but for the adventure seekers, there are several 2-day trails available where one can stay overnight in a trail hut.

Get To Know Carolina

Carolina not only boasts magnificent beauty but fine cultural and historical heritage. Besides the spectacular sandstone architecture, this area boasts a few fine examples of San rock art which can be seen and explored. To add to the historical heritage of the Carolina area, there are also a few interesting Battlefields which can be visited. Make sure you visit the Market Square, Burger Monument as well as other historical memorials.

Other exciting activities that can be enjoyed in the area are 4×4 adventures, quad biking and game viewing. Definitely, a town where you can keep yourself busy for a weekend.

Get To Know Carolina

Hanna’s Antiques and Coffee Shop

While I was in Carolina looking for interesting places to write about I came across a little gem called Hanna’s Antiques and Coffee Shop.

Get To Know Carolina

I was pleasantly surprised with the small town hospitality of the locals and the old house converted into a coffee shop filled with antiques strategically placed to create a homely ambience, and everything is for sale!

Get To Know Carolina

The owner, Hannetjie Van Aswegen is a Carolina resident since 1976, this former teacher always had a love for antiques and built up her collection throughout the years, this collection is now for sale in her shop.

Her clientele consists of many diverse people who drive through to Swaziland, residents from surrounding towns who heard about this gem from others.  Locals having coffee and catching up with friends, business people having meetings and they even do parties and functions at the coffee shop. Even clients from Gauteng drive all the way to this small town to buy antiques!

Get To Know Carolina

I also discovered a very nice coffee table book in the shop – Carolina’s Ancient Sites – Fiction, Facts and Mysteries by Prof Ton Sanders.

This book traces the history and disinters a treasure trove of archaeological sites in and around Carolina that produce fascinating stories of the town that have yet been left buried or untold. A “must have” for any historian and those interested in the rich history of Carolina and the Southern African region.

Get To Know Carolina

A: 47 Steyn Street Carolina 1185

T: 071 592 4936

W: www.carolinaguesthouse.co.za

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Toyota Warrior Race 2017 Powered By Reebok

The Toyota Warrior Race is South Africa’s largest obstacle course race series. It’s a sport that incorporates trail running along with various physical challenges in the form of hindrances. With 8 events in 4 provinces consisting of 3 distances, The Warrior Race offers athletes from different sporting backgrounds the opportunity to compete with one another, to live out their sense of adventure and to break barriers never thought possible. The series is all about encouraging an active, healthy lifestyle, with an emphasis on the importance of being brave and overcoming challenges that put your body, mind and spirit to the ultimate test.

Toyota Warrior Race

Distances:

Rookie – Age 10 and older – 5km – 15 obstacles

Commando – Age 13 and older – 10km – 20 obstacles

Black-ops – Age 18 and older – 15km – 30 obstacles

Upcoming Events:

There are 4 Toyota Warrior Powered by Reebok events left for 2017

TOYOTA WARRIOR 5 POWERED BY REEBOK BLYTHEDALE COASTAL ESTATE

August 19 – August 20

TOYOTA WARRIOR 6 POWERED BY REEBOK TIERPOORT

September 16 – September 17

TOYOTA WARRIOR 7 POWERED BY REEBOK MEERENDAL

October 21 – October 22

TOYOTA WARRIOR 8 POWERED BY REEBOK RIVERSANDS

November 25 – November 26

We attended –  TOYOTA WARRIOR  4  POWERED BY REEBOK KWANYONI LODGE

MAY 27 – MAY 28

We were not surprised to see that CITYBUG was the shuttle service used – that’s how we know them – always involved with community projects.

Thank you CITYBUG

Citybug

For more information visit http://advendurance.com/warrior/

 

 

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I Vote Casterbridge For Father’s Day

As I was looking for content for this edition, I decided to explore Casterbridge in White River Mpumalanga.

Was I surprised and impressed with everything they had to offer! Staying in the Lowveld for most of my life I couldn’t imagine why I didn’t do this years ago! Then I wondered, how many others are there like me? Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre is an exceptional lifestyle destination with serene gardens, unusual independent shops a boutique hotel and even fitness centre.

They got a huge variety of shops, something for everyone from Coffee Shops and Restaurants to vintage cars, and everything in between.

Sabie Valley Coffee Shop and Roastery

Start your journey with COFFEE

Tim Buckland, owner of Sabie Valley Coffee, and his wife Kim are your hosts. This friendly couple’s passion for coffee is catching, one cannot help but listen to every word they say, their knowledge of these precious beans is astonishing and they are more than happy to share that knowledge and expertise with their clients.

As you enter the shop the welcoming aroma of freshly brewed coffee welcomes you. In the shop, they got a variety of coffee gadgets from years ago to the latest on the market. Add one of their mouth-watering homemade dishes to your experience and you will have something to talk about for years to come.

Valley Spices

Maybe you need the perfect spices to turn your next Biryani into a masterpiece

Valley Spice is a hidden gem of exotic, Indian and Middle Eastern spices. They stock a wide range of difficult to source food ingredients and hand mix spices to your taste.

ROTTCHER WINERIES AND DISTILLERY

Wine or Gin tasting anyone?

Rottcher Wineries and Distillery, which has been a landmark of the Lowveld for the past 50 years, is well worth a visit.

At this cellar, unique alcoholic orange beverages are fermented in the old fashioned way. Pop in and come and taste the “Pride of the Lowveld” – their version of dessert wines, Sherries and ports.

The Distillery produces several citrus based products

– Their very own version of Limoncello Liqueur. – Rottcher Slowveld Mampoer – The first citrus based gins in the world! – Slowveld Gins

SHAUTANY CHOCOLATES

“FOR THE LOVE OF CHOCOLATE”

Shautany Chocolatiers reminds one of the sweet shops you went into as a child where you pointed at the glass jars and said, “I’ll have that one please”. Glass display cabinets abound with locally handcrafted Belgian and Swiss chocolates, while shelves are laden with pure cocoa chocolate bars and exquisite gifts. The ultimate chocolate fantasy begins…

They encourage a new way to love chocolate that is as appealing as appreciating the traditions of fine wines and coffees. The seduction of chocolate on all human senses is irresistible. This ceremony of chocolate tasting is enhanced by a casual, easy, ambience of intimate excitement.

Shautany is the new chocolate culture: sexy, nostalgic, and forever an object of fantasy for children and grown up children.

ANTIQUES AND ARTIFACTS

If history and classic cars fancy your interest, this is the place for you

The charming owner, Angie Bunyard welcomes you with her friendly warm smile and when she is not around the equally charming Marilyn stands in for her.   Their love and knowledge of History and Antiques are remarkable.

In this unique ‘destination‘, nestled in the Vintage Car Museum, a treasure trove of artistic fusion of funk & functional, past & present pieces creatively combined into bespoke genres by Angie.

The collection comprises of a superb assortment of antiques, fabulous ‘jewellery’ items for décor processes and personal homes, general collectables, historical memorabilia, books, artworks, porcelain, mirrors, carvings, imported French wares combined with traditional African artefacts, stone works, carvings and more. An exciting mixture of traditionalism and innovation, indeed something for everyone.

The delightful owner, Angie Bunyard with her boundless energy has the exceptional ability to point one in the exact direction to find ‘what you never knew you were looking for’.

Creative Union

An eclectic mix of function and design – from repair and restoration of vintage/antique clocks and lighters, custom lighting to furniture design and manufacture.

Vintage Car Museum

The White River History & Motor Museum is home to a large collection of perfectly restored vintage motor cars, tractors and bikes.

Here automobile enthusiasts can see a wide variety of vintage vehicles, including the Willys-Overland, the Swift and the celebrated Model T Ford, the 1929 Austin Seven, various MGs and the 1936 Jaguar SS100, amongst others

A must see for petrol heads visiting Casterbridge.

If these are not enough to keep you busy for a day, they also got an Art Gallery, a Second-Hand Bookshop, a Spa, a Cinema and many more interesting shops.

End the perfect day out with a scrumptious lunch at one of the restaurants in Casterbridge.

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Shake It Up… Gourmet Milkshake

In time gone by going for a milkshake involved a visit to the Roadhouse or the local drive-in cinema. Most of all it was a treat meant for kids. It came in the usual tame flavours of Strawberry, Chocolate, Lime or the favourite, Blue Bubblegum.

Nowadays this ice-cream and milk confection gained almost cult status. The choice in flavours are limitless and some are creatively put together to resemble works of sweet art.Gone are the days that it came with a mere twirl of cream and a burst of colourful sprinkles over the top.  Now the sky’s the limit.

Milkshake

Since when was only one shake enough to satisfy the urge for adventure and discovery. The tour for the ultimate milkshake starts at the lavishly decorated SIP Coffee café & deli, in White River. Here,  try the gourmet touched milkshakes set you into the mood for a long story or a much longer gym session.

Shake it up

It is the complete and “utterly” crazy combinations and confection that you will find in the small Village of Dullstroom that will have you hooked. The variéty on offer is mind wobblingly great. At Udderlicious milkshake bar, the tough just might swap the beer for a long cold creamy drink. The client has the choice of creating his or her own concoction and add to it any topping to make it utterly crazy. Or you can choose one of their smooth creamy designed selection. With titles like French Kiss, Turkish Delight and the Millionaire you are bound to run to the bar for more.

Milkshake

We can Sip on the Udderlicious milkshakes until the cows come home.  The taste sensations of this age-old treat will shake up and rock your milkshake memories for sure.

WRITTEN BY:  Nicolene Olckers

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Nelspruit – The Lowveld Gem

This city of Nelspruit,  situated in the eastern part of South Africa is the capital city of Mpumalanga Province and the gateway to the best eco and adventure activities in the country.   With the Kruger National Park on its doorstep, getting a look at the African Big 5 is as easy as looking out your own back door. The province is also home to some of the most renowned game lodges such as Sabie-Sabie, Timbavati and Llondolzi to name but a few.  The KNP is an international tourist destination that brings thousands of tourist, local and international to visit the region all year round.

The moderate to the tropical climate, ideal for the growth of most subtropical fruits such as oranges, avocado, lemons, litchis and bananas, have also inspired local farmers to be adventurous in their thinking.   In recent years they have also been experimenting with growing exotic fruit such as grenadilla and Kiwi fruit amongst others.  With more than 11 000 hectares of land planted with bananas in 2010 the Mpumalanga province is the top producer of the fruit in South Africa and in 2010 the province contributed R1.2 billion to the amount of subtropical fruit produced in South Africa.

But the city of Mbombela/Nelspruit has much more to offer. With two major shopping malls that are host to chic boutiques and lush designer stores that include international brands such as H&M and Woolworths, Soviet, Guess to name but a few. The Tsogo Sun Emnotweni Casino is amongst those prime entertainment venues.

The I’langa Mall’s superb location and easy access offer every good reason for NELSPRUIT and surrounding citizens to embrace it as their shopping and dining venue of choice.

It has an extensive offering of popular national retailers as well as a number of unique independent retailers offering specialised products and services, many of which are local businesses. Shoppers have access to many top brands, exceptional stores and a superb comparative shopping experience which is also unique in every way.

The riverside precinct, home to the Emnotweni Casino and all major motoring dealers, is fast becoming a hub of big business in Nelspruit. Recent developments include the upbeat Chill Pepper Boutique Hotel.

But 2017 has promised to be a big year for the city of the sunny province. It was voted as a finalist in the Kwela Town of the year competition and Lowvelders are poised to welcome all the visitors to its warm heart. With great cuisine, fine dining restaurants and world-class entertainment venues Mbombela is bound to have the best South Africa have to offer to local and international visitors.

WRITTEN BY:  Nicolene Olckers

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Sabie Valley Riding

Author: Thomas Böhm

Thomas Böhm is well known in the bike riding circles of Mpumalanga. He is the owner and instructor at  Sabie Valley Rider Academy. The academy is based at the Windmill Wine Shop and Cottages on the notorious and fabled road known as the “22” (R536 ) winding between the towns of Sabie and Hazyview.

The Academy offers on- and off-road riding courses to Adventure Bike riders from novice to advanced riders wanting to improve their skills at bike handling in off-road or dirt road riding conditions. Thomas also conducts a Defensive road riding course. This course is aimed at the riders wanting to improve their safety and skills for riding on public roads.

Thomas’s passion for biking was born at the young age of nine and he participated in off-road races as a teenager. He shared his love of riding with his wife Jacqui and together they originally rented bikes to tourists visiting the Lowveld.

In 2005 he planned and hosted the first ever Sabie GS challenge This became an annual event and only registered owners of BMW Adventure Motorcycles are allowed to enter and participate. The event is held in March every year and is the longest-running BMW GS biking event in Sout Africa. Participants in the event usually have to arrive fully prepared to camp overnight, but chalets and cottages are also available for accommodation. The Sabie GS challenge provides the opportunity to ride in safe, sometimes challenging off-road conditions. The routes are pre-determined and are classed from Green – the easiest – to Black for those that has the advanced riding skills and determination to be challenged.

Thomas started The Sabie Valley Rider Academy in 2010 after a series of negotiations with BMW Motorrad. He completed the advanced instructor training course in 2012 in Germany. He is planning to construct a bigger and better training facility on his property. He is hopeful to have it completed in June this year. Thomas is actively involved in the local BMW Riders Club and assisted in the organising of this years Mpumalanga GS Trophy 2017 held in Badplaas in May.

In addition to the Sabie GS Challenge and offering beginners to advanced (level 1 to 3) training, the academy also offer bike rental, and personal, 1-on-1 training for those not comfortable in groups. The Expert Adventure Riding Sand Experience is aimed to provide training for riding in sandy conditions. Sandy roads can be challenging to most riders and are generally referred to as the sand monster. Thomas’s course conducted over a weekend at Kosi Bay in Kwa-Zulu Natal gives the participants comprehensive training and the opportunity to hone their newly learned skills under the supervision of a capable and qualified instructor. Just to be sure, Thomas assures us that all lady riders are welcome on any of the courses he presents at the Academy.

Thomas and Jacqui Böhm are passionate about Adventure Biking and biking in general. They are as passionate about the Lowveld and riders are welcome to contact him if they are looking for riding partners and or advice on routes to ride in the Lowveld.

For more information and upcoming events visit their website http://rideracademy.co.za/

Or call Thomas +27 (0) 72 133 2151 and Jacqui +27 (0) 82 930 6289

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Piggs Peak Hotel and Casino – Swaziland

A Hotel with a view – Piggs Peak Hotel and Casino Swaziland

The Piggs Peak Hotel & Casino is located in the mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland, a country with unique flora and fauna and a distinctive and interesting cultural heritage. The hotel is situated in a beautiful and secluded pine forest and it meets the diverse needs of nature lovers, sports enthusiasts, casino guests and night owls. Each day has many activities or none, whichever you prefer.  Situated just 31km from the South African border on the northern side

Piggs Peak Hotel & Casino in Swaziland provides everything for everyone, from a top class restaurant, luxury bedrooms and a cosy casino to excellent sporting facilities. The hotel is perfect for a romantic honeymoon, a relaxing weekend or a family holiday. Its secluded location also makes it an ideal out-of-town conference destination.  Piggs Peak Hotel & Casino offers a choice of 103 luxury rooms, including 14 suites and 89 comfortable bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, tea/coffee stations, telephones and satellite TV. All rooms have spectacular views from their individual balconies.

The hotel offers a 24-hour room service, arts and crafts boutique, a children’s playground, jumping castle, an indoors life-size chess facility and a babysitting service. For business people, secretarial services are available on request.

Conferences at this Hotel are hosted in 3 well-equipped conference and meeting rooms that are air-conditioned. For smaller gatherings, there is a board room accommodating 10 plus people. There are 4 conference rooms accommodating between 20 and 65 people which can be combined to seat a maximum of 216 guests.

For an experience of a different kind, enjoy a relaxing drink in one of the hotel’s three bars. Gamble in the Casino, where punters have a choice of several gaming tables with a mix of Blackjack, Roulette, Punto Banco, as well as slot machines. Stroll around the beautiful grounds and discover two tennis courts, a gymnasium, two air-conditioned squash courts, a swimming pool, a sauna, a bowling green and a mini golf course. Numerous scenic walking and hiking trails exist in the surrounding forest, which is home to a variety of bird life and indigenous flora and fauna. The hotel is close to tourist attractions like the Phophonyane Waterfall, the Maguga Dam and Sibebe Rock, the second largest single rock face in the world. Local glass and candle factories are worth a visit to search for a perfect Swazi memento.

When visiting Swaziland, if one is a non-local, one needs to have a valid international passport. Check with your travel agent to ensure you have all the correct travel documents to travel to Swaziland. A road tax is payable at all Swaziland borders upon entering Swaziland (at the moment the road tax amount is R50.00 – June 2017). Once in Swaziland it is possible to make international phone calls, the international code for Swaziland is +268, there is also e-mail centres and internet cafes located in Mbabane (Swaziland’s Capital) and Manzini. Travelling in Swaziland can be done via the railway lines, roads, buses and minibuses, roads are in excellent condition but be on the lookout for speed bumps near all the populated areas.

Tel: (+268) 2437 8800 Fax: (+268) 2431 3382 / 3415

Email: res@piggspeakhotelandcasino.co.sz gm@piggspeakhotelandcasino.co.sz

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Explore Mpumalanga On Your Off-Road

It is time to take out your bike riding gear and head for hills, forests, dirt roads and those slightly far off places in the province.

Remember to check your bike’s oil and fluid levels before heading out on the road. If your luck is anything like mine, make sure to pack the rain suit as well. Whether you plan to go on a tar or a gravel route be sure to have your brightly coloured reflective jacket on to ensure high visibility. If you are going on an off-road route be sure to have a puncture repair kit and or spare tube handy if your wheels are the tube types.

If you are an experienced rider you know what to do. To refresh your memory and riding skills head out to Sabie either from MBOMBELA (Nelspruit) or via White River. If you get there early have breakfast at The Woodsman or why not make a change and try out the fine fare at Sabie Brewery or The wild Fig Tree Restaurant.

Then get back the tingle of excitement in your toes as you swoop through the smooth curves of the Long Tom Pass. If you are new to the area and the Long Tom Pass ask one of you fellow experienced rider to show you the lines to take through the curves.

Don’t be shy to ask advice on riding some of the best twists and turns in Mpumalanga. Challenge yourself and make use of all the expensive rubber you have on your bike. If you are out early you might just be lucky enough to feel like you are riding on top of the world.

If your heart rate has not been raised by then, stop at Misty Mountain Lodge and take a wild ride on their downhill toboggan. Contact the lodge regarding fees and bookings.

You can then brave the roads from Lydenburg to Dullstroom and enjoy lunch at one of the fine establishments there. The whisky shop comes to mind.

For the more adventurous, the off road dirt roads around Kaapmuiden, Barberton, Kaapsehoop, Swaziland border, Badplaas and Chrissiesmeer offer a wide range to choose from. Take into account that the logging season is in progress and most of the forestry roads are also used by logging trucks and machinery.

Another factor to consider is the recent rains. Roads used extensively by the loggers can proof challenging to beginners or novice dirt riders.

Making a full days ride and getting dirty is the goal. You have to spend at least a day or two cleaning the mean machine that carried you safely. Be sure to oil the chain if your bike is chain driven. Mud and water can take its toll on that shiny new chain and sprockets you had fitted and not used regularly.

Get an early start to make use of the best light for your pictures and utilise the cooler morning air. Pack snacks in your top-box or camelback backpack to have a picnic along the route. Don’t forget the water.

Exploring a recent route, we ended the day at Badplaas. The route followed the service road between the railroad track and the Kruger National Park fence from the Numbi Gate to Matsulu.

This sometime two-track dirt road can be challenging with washed-away low water bridges and slippery causeways. Do not ride this route alone.

From Matsulu you can make your way on tar to Louw’s Creek (R38) and on to Barberton. You can detour on the dirt road by taking the Louieville turn-off that skirts alongside the Shiyalongubodam.

This road links up with the Barberton Geotrail and ambles through an indigenous forest with rich birdlife and small game. This is also a great spot for an impromptu picnic. The Geotrail to Barberton has paved viewpoints where travellers can stop to read about the rich geological finds in the area.

Get out there and explore the blue sky country.

WRITTEN BY:  Nicolene Olckers