South Africa

My favourite beaches from around the world

Some of my happiest memories from early childhood is when my parents announced we’d be spending the day at the beach. Mom would prepare thickly buttered salami on rye sandwiches; dad would pack up the Oldsmobile. Off we’d drive to Long Sault, a park along the St. Lawrence River near Cornwall, Ontario. The beach was no great shakes, but at the time I thought it was the best place in the world. While my taste in beaches has changed (some might call me a beach snob), I’m still delighted by a great day at the beach. Here are some of my favourite beaches.

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Categories: France, Indonesia, Maldives, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, United States | Tags: , , | 64 Comments

Cathedral Peak Hike: Drakensberg, South Africa

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Daniel, my mountain goat guide, with Cathedral Peak in the distance—Caroline Helbig

I consider myself quite fit, but three-quarters up Cathedral Peak, in South Africa’s Drakensberg Range, I was an oxygen-starved, foul-mouthed mess. I had long given up trying to keep pace with my guide, Daniel, a man of few words who must have been a mountain goat in a previous life.

Cathedral Peak (3005 m) is a strenuous but popular Drakensberg hike. From the trailhead at Cathedral Peak Hotel it is approximately 20 km round trip (8-10 hours), with an elevation gain of about 1665 m. It’s a long, steep climb, with some exposed sections. The final ascent involves a few scrambles and a chain ladder. Continue reading

Categories: Hiking, South Africa | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Mountain Biking at Kruger Park’s Olifants Camp

Trailhead for Olifants Camp mountain biking trips

Trailhead for Olifants Camp mountain biking trips—Caroline Helbig

Mountain biking among the Big 5 in South Africa’s Kruger National Park is a unique and exciting activity, but what happens when a 2000 kg hippo stares you in the face?

Kruger National Park is one of the world’s greatest game parks. Most visitors see the animals from the comfort of a private car or open-air safari vehicle. We did that too, but also opted for a more active adventure—mountain biking at Kruger’s Olifants Camp. Continue reading

Categories: Biking, South Africa, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Buckler’s Africa: A Great Base for Exploring Southern Kruger Park

Lion sighting just minutes from Kruger Park's Crocodile Bridge Gate.

Lion sighting just minutes from Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate—Caroline Helbig

Buckler’s Africa, an outstanding small lodge near Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate, is a great alternative to the park’s mediocre rest camps and pricey private game lodges. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this gem of a place.

Buckler’s is a B&B and self-catering lodge only ten minutes from Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate. It is a great location for exploring the southern section of the park. Kruger Park is massive, so it’s a good idea to divide your time among two or three locations. We spent a couple of nights at Kruger’s centrally located Satara and Olifants camps—cat and elephant country. Buckler’s became our base for three days of exploring the park’s southern reaches that boost the best chances of spotting the Big 5. Continue reading

Categories: South Africa, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Slackpacking South Africa’s Kosi Bay Trail

Monster sand dunes along Kosi Bay Trail hike

Monster sand dunes along Kosi Bay Trail hike—Caroline Helbig

South Africa’s gorgeous Kosi Bay is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site that stretches 200 km along the Indian Ocean coastline. Kosi Bay is located in the remote northern reaches of the park near the Mozambique border. A great way to see the splendors of Kosi Bay’s deserted beaches, lakes, and coastal forests is via a guided, 3-day slackpacking hike—all meals are provided, and luggage is transported between lodges.

We had an awesome time on our hike with local guides Agripa and Enoch who expertly led us along beaches, a crazy network of footpaths, and a few shallow water crossings. The Kosi Bay Trail is not difficult, but it is also not well defined, nor is it signed. Without guides, we would have got hopelessly lost. Continue reading

Categories: Hiking, South Africa | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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