Posts

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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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Spring Flowers in the Cape Region

We spoke to Piet van Zyl, former owner of Matzikama Tours and Accommodation in Cape Town, who specialized in spring flower tours in the Western Cape mainly. He gave us some guidelines for first-time visitors.

Timing is everything – This is probably the number one thing that visitors miscalculate. Being a hotter area than the rest of the Cape, spring starts earlier.  The flower season peaks between early August and late August and it is dependent on the winter rains.

As a general rule, the wild flowers begin flowering first in the Northern Cape in Namaqualand in late July/early August.

They then advance southwards through Nieuwoudtville and the Cederberg region and then begin in the West Coast at the end of August. Thus the West Coast offers the best chance of seeing spring flowers in early September.

However, there is a large element of luck involved as it all depends on the amount of rain. Some years are better than others! If there has been a steady flow of gentle cold fronts during the winter, then it is likely to be a good flower season. But one or two violent storms interspersed with dry weather are not so good.

Spring temperatures are also important. If it heats up too quickly then the early visitors have glorious sunshine but the flowers do not last very long.

The bottom line is that ideally, you need to go with an attitude of acceptance and ideally be prepared to explore other aspects of the area if the flowers are not so amazing. For example, the Cederberg has some stunning mountain passes to enjoy. View rock art, do a walking trail or visit Rooibos tea farms. The towns have attractive coffee shops to enjoy and arts & craft shops to explore.

Visitors might not feel they need any tips for flower viewing (how hard can looking at flowers be?). But there is quite a lot to consider if you would really like to get the most out of this experience. Piet suggests you visit the Tourism Information Centres and talk to the locals, who are very hospitable and enjoys sharing their knowledge with visitors, to get the information you wouldn’t necessarily find in books or on the internet.

The best way to have a well-rounded trip would be to include the West Coast National Park for its Postberg flowers, wildlife and birding, some of the quaint West Coast Towns like Paternoster, Yzerfontein and Saldanha, for their laid back atmosphere and fresh seafood, the Cederberg for its rock art and mountain beauty, Wuppertal for its interesting history and Citrusdal for the beautiful orange orchards. Darling is also well known as a cultural experience, with the Eva Perron theatre and culinary delights. The entire flower area has become well-known for its vineyards and boutique wine cellars, and the West Coast Wine Route will give you options, whichever route you take. If time allows, the flowers in the north, though further away, around Vanrhynsdorp and Springbok are glorious and well worth the trip.

Cape Town to Richtersveld 850km: Johannesburg to Springbok 1160km:

Springbok to Richtersveld 297km. We did this trip in spring after good rains. It was one of our most memorable travel experiences! Richtersveld, a world heritage site, has the most amazing scenery in a desert environment, with a remoteness that stills the soul. Set in a great loop of the Orange River, the deep canyons and jagged mountains, unusual rock colours, the rare kokerboom or quiver tree, the strange halfmens tree, unique succulents and isolation make for a lifetime experience. In spring, the desert can bring forth a host of wild flowers. Miniature rock gardens, perfectly designed by nature, cling precariously to cliff faces.

Tiny succulents, mere pinpoints against a backdrop of surreal rock formations, revel in the moisture brought by the early morning fog rolling in from the cold Atlantic Ocean.

Only 4×4 vehicles are allowed in the park. For detailed park information, booking and how to get there visit the park’s website. There are no shops in the park, but fuel and cold drinks can be purchased at a small general store at Sendelingsdrift. The shop is open on weekdays only. Tel: 012 428 9111 for central booking or 027 831 1506 at the park itself. The trip to Springbok is 568km from Cape Town and 1160km from Johannesburg.

Springbok is close to the famous Goegap Nature Reserve, also known for its birding.  Springbok is a great springboard from the north, with the top flower destinations of the Namaqua National Park, Kamieskroon (visit the Skilpad Flower Reserve – named for its tortoises), Garies and Bitterfontein, all en-route to Vanrhynsdorp and Clanwilliam.

To reach Vanrhynsdorp from Cape Town is a 308km trip and Springbok to Vanrhynsdorp is a 260km drive. If you are camping, the Vanrhynsdorp private caravan park is close to town on the Main Gifburg Road. The Caravan Park has a quiet, well managed, farm like atmosphere and also offers guests the option of staying in self-catering units. Camping sites have power points and ablution with hot water. There’s a restaurant with a great a la carte menu. Tel: +27(0)27 219 1287: +27(0)76 293 2578.

Vanrhynsdorp itself has flowers on various farms and it is best to contact tourism for the best places to go, both in town and in other areas. T:027 219 1552: Van Riebeeck Street, Vanrhynsdorp.

Vanrhynsdorp is home to Kokerboom,  the biggest succulent nursery in the world (Tel: 027 219 1062: Cell: 082 811 5474)  and to the Latsky Radio Museum with its interesting displays:  Monday – Saturday 9 am – 12 pm and 2 pm – 5 pm: Tel: +27-27-2191032: 4 Church Street.

From Vanrhynsdorp you can do the following breathtaking day trips:

Take the 182km circular route from Vanrhynsdorp to the coast and back. From Vanrhynsdorp take the N7 to Klawer, and visit the Klawer wine cellar. From Klawer, drive to Vredendal, famous for its flowers and wine. Continue to Lutzville with more wine cellars and then on to the flowers at Standfontein and Doringbaai, home of Fryers Cove wines on the coast. Not only do you go through the beautiful Olifants River Vallery, a rich wine, fruit and vegetable farming area, but get to enjoy the quiet beaches along the coast. See our article on the West Coast Wine Route. Or you can go to Nieuwoudtville.

Drive 52km over the awe-inspiring Van Rhyns Pass, to Nieuwoudtville, the bulb capital of the world and visit the flower reserves and farms for amazing floral carpets.

Drive 52km over the awe-inspiring Van Rhyns Pass, to Nieuwoudtville, the bulb capital of the world and visit the flower reserves and farms for amazing floral carpets. Visit the Hantam Botanical Gardens that boasts an incredible 1350 plant species, and is found on the Oorlogskloof Road and the Nieuwoudtville Flower Reserve, close to town.

A great day trip from Nieuwoudtville, is to take the R357 north out of town, and visit the Nieuwoudtville Falls, the Quiver Tree Forest at Gannabos, a private farm, where trees grow to 400 years old and produce vivid yellow flowers in May, June and July, as they have been doing for many thousands of years.

This forest is spectacular at sunset. Further on, Loeriesfontein has a rather interesting windmill museum.

An excellent flower experience can be enjoyed by driving south from Clanwilliam. It is only 228km from Cape Town and 80km from Vanrhynsdorp on the N7. You will pass the Klawer Cellars en-route from Vanrhynsdorp, so make a stop.

Clanwilliam offers the magnificent Ramskop Wildflower Reserve, next to the Clanwilliam Dam. A wonderful day trip from Clanwilliam is the 140km round trip to the Biedouw Valleyand Wuppertal. Not only are the flowers overwhelming, but Wuppertal is a village lost in time and an experience itself. You can enjoy something to eat at the little shop in Wuppertal.  To get there, take the R364 from Clanwilliam over the Pakhuis Pass and turn right onto the Biedouw Valley/Wuppertal road.

If you are interested in Bushman Rock Art, take a really professional guided tour with the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project.

Citrusdal is situated on the Olifants River and is famous for its citrus orchards. It is 170km from Cape Town and 58km from Clanwilliam along the N7. However, there is a wonderful gravel route from Clanwilliam along the dam, towards Algeria.

After approximately 30km, you will access the N7 again. No traffic, pure bliss (this is the same road you took to visit the Ramskop Wildflower Reserve).

The Postberg area of the West Coast National Park that is only open in flower season is a brilliant spot and the park itself is also a sight to behold, where wildlife on the plains mingle with the flowers. There are also bird hides in the park. The towns of Yzerfontein and Darling are also good flower spots.

From Citrusdal, an interesting route can be taken over the Piekernierskloof Pass and onto the R399 to Velddrif, which is also well known for its birding and fishing. From Veldrif, experience the quaint West Coast Villages of St Helena Bay, Britannia Bay, Paternoster (very popular village with great seafood) and Tietiesbaai. Drive through Vredenburg en-route to the West Coast National Park and Postberg. In Postberg you can enjoy a picnic at the Uitkyk picnic spot. An interesting attraction, 13km from Vredenburg on the R45, is the Fossil Park. On the same road, 37km from Vredenburg is Hopefield.

The veld around Hopefield provides its own natural display of springtime flowers when the green winter wonderland is transformed to an overnight spectacle of bright indigenous daisies and fynbos. There are four botanical zones: renosterveld, sandveld, reed veld and vlei areas. At the Hopefield Show, these regions are displayed in the exhibition hall to reflect Fynbos in their natural habitat. This very popular show takes place at the Hopefield Sports grounds on the last weekend of August each year.

In Langebaan visit the Strandloper Seafood Restaurant for a fresh seafood indulgence.

From the WCNP drive to Yzerfontein and enjoy a meal at the Strandkombuis Seafood Restaurant on the beach or participate in an authentic Bushman cultural experience.

Drive to Darling on the R315 and visit the Tienie Versveld Wildflower Garden, the Renosterveld Reserve, Wayland Farm, Contreberg Farm on R307 Darling-Mamre road and Oudepost Farm. Wayland and Oudepost are only open for flowers during August and September. Here millions of these exotic flowers are cultivated for local and export markets. The Groote Post wine farm also offers long walks in its beautiful natural surroundings.

Piet also stressed the fact that you need to book early to avoid disappointment the ‘season’ is very short and people book way in advance.  His last private tour was in August 2017 when he took his mother-in-law and grand-mother-in-law to observe Mother Nature at her proudest: spring flowers spring as this was a lifelong dream of Grandma. Piet says that everybody should go there at least once in their lifetime.

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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Seascape Photography By Des Jacobs

Author:  Des Jacobs

Really good seascape photography is not about expensive equipment or hi-tech methods. You need a decent DSLR camera (any make will do), good lenses and a basic understanding of camera settings. You will need a tripod. Also a wide angle lens. A 10-20mm lens, 10-22mm, 11-16mm or 17-40mm. The basic 18-55mm lens or similar lens will also do the trick.

It is not compulsory but it is wise to invest in lens filters to attach to the lens to get more special effects. Personally, I think a Circular Polarizing Filter is a must when working with water. Not only will it get rid of reflections in the water but also darken the whole scene a bit to be able to work with slower shutter speeds. An ND8 filter will also come in handy when doing water photography as it gives you a much slower shutter speed when not working in shady or overcast conditions.

Des Jacobs Photography

If you really want to be artistic you can try a ND400 or ND500 filter. With this, you will be able to use shutter speeds of 2 minutes or even longer depending on the light conditions available. Make sure you buy the correct size filter for your lens.

Most of the time your timer function on your camera will work fine to limit camera shake but if going for longer shutter speeds than 30 seconds you will need a remote to trigger the shutter.

Des Jacobs Photography

Work with the weather. Make sure you know what the weather will be like when you do the planning for your photo shoot. I use a website called www.yr.no for most of my weather forecasts when I plan a shoot. It will give an indication on what kind of clouds there will be if it will rain etc. Also, make sure you know at what hour the sun will rise or set. Try to avoid very windy days. The chances are good that your photos will blur because of camera shake. Early morning before sunrise and late afternoons with sunset are the best times to photograph seascapes. Make sure you are at your ideal spot at least 20-30 minutes before sunrise or sunset.

Camera Settings

I like using “Aperture” mode when doing seascape photography. This way I can decide on what my depth of field must be. Normally I choose a wide depth of field so that everything in the photo will be sharp and in focus. With a 10-20mm lens, I normally set the aperture to F/11. The camera will decide for itself what the shutter speed will be according to the available light. Before sunrise and after sunset the shutter speed will be very slow and during the day, while the sun is shining the shutter speed will be very fast. I like doing seascape photography in the early mornings and late afternoons. Personally, I like the colours during the golden hour. I also like the slower shutter speed effects on the water.

Des Jacobs Photography

Try to get a good composition before taking the photo. A nice rock in the foreground, a piece of driftwood or something else that will make the photo interesting. Make sure to set the focus on this subject. Also, make sure the ISO is set to 100 when doing this kind of photography.

www.desjacobsphotography.co.za

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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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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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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