Category: Dragonfly


Our travel team recently spent five nights along the Garden Route for an intensive, action packed Educational.  We asked them to keep us updated with a daily travel blog. By all accounts they had an amazing trip and were able to gather in-depth, first-hand knowledge of this beautiful region in South Africa.

Day One:

The team flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Here they met with their driver / guide and proceeded to Hermanus, about 1hr30 minutes from Cape Town Airport.

The team had lunch at the Marine Hermanus (part of The Collection) – you can view their brochure below.

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Marine Hotel

They also had a chance to view The Quarters and Harbour House, both boutique hotels in the quaint seaside village, famous for its shore-viewing of the Southern Right Whales.

They spent their first night in style at the luxurious Birkenhead House & Villa – part of the Royal Collection.

Birkenhead House and Villa

“The ocean wraps around the energy of the world round and full, humming forever innocent and playful, spinning the world”

And that’s how we start this journey.

Our first moments out of the vehicle are met with the distinctive blowing of the horn by the whale crier of Hermanus, signaling the presence of the magnificent Southern Right whale. We were spoilt with superb views of these iconic creatures all around the bay.

And so we are left with no choice but to take a deep breath of crisp fresh ocean air and slowly breath out…”

Day Two

After being rocked to sleep by the peaceful white noise of the waves lapping the shore, the team set out on a leisurely stroll along the popular beachside pathway that stretches along the shore from Hermanus to Grotto lagoon and beach. The path winds its way along the shoreline cutting in and out of small milkwood thickets, and so has obviously spectacular views and also close encounters with beautiful birds and smaller creepy crawlies…

Back at the hotel, they enjoyed a hearty breakfast, before setting off on the next leg of their journey to Knysna, approximately 4 hours away.

En-route they stopped at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a 5* eco lodge in Gaansbaai.

A stunning drive, with captivating views, makes it easier to fight the guilty pleasure of a catnap most enjoyed on this part of the road trip. They gently came to a standstill with a slightly different kind of roadblock – a herd of sheep slowly circled around the vehicle on their own journey to greener pastures.

In Knysna they did a site inspection of Knysna Hollow before proceeding to their hotel.

The team spent the night at the unique Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa, on Thesen Island, in the heart of Knysna.

Day Three

They spent the next full day exploring all Knysna has to offer, with two extraordinary highlights.

Chatting over a delicious breakfast, the team casually brought up the subject of the Knysna Seahorse and how rare and endangered they are. The Knysna setting gives you more of a Lochness monster kind of expectation, but on the contrary these mystical creatures, which have captured the imagination of people all over the world, are tiny and harmless. Growing to only approximately 12cm in length, the Knysna Seahorse is only found in the Knysna, Keurbooms and Swartvlei estuaries. They can move their eyes independently like chameleons and are best known for their unique breeding style i.e. male pregnancy. The female lays her eggs in the male’s pouch, where they will safely grow, develop and ultimately hatch from. They are considered the most endangered Seahorses in the world, primarily due to their exceptionally limited distribution range. They are very susceptible to changes to their environment, which could easily lead to their extinction.

The hotel manager arrived at the breakfast table with the “call” of a sighting.

The team immediately jumped up and headed down to the jetty, located in front of the hotel. Straight onto their bellies, like excited children, they waited, scanning the mud. And then, slowly the creature moved, lifted its head and straightened its body – just hovering in absolute splendour.

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Next they joined a ferry for a humorous, yet informative guided cruise across the Knysna Lagoon to Featherbed Nature Reserve. They climbed “gracefully” into their awaiting tractor to wind their way to the top, for a spectacular view of the Knysna heads.

They decided to enjoy the wonderful walk back down again, dotting in and out from the ocean viewing spots and back to the forested pathway to Danger Point lookout. A short walk ended in a well-deserved traditional lunch of rys (rice), vleis (meat), aartappels (potatoes) and malva pudding. After lunch it was time to check-in to their luxurious hotel.

The group stayed at the 5* Conrad Pezula Hotel, featuring ocean views and a superb links golf course.

Day Four & Five

The Travel team split up on the second last night and wrapped up their amazing Garden Route trip with an overnight stay at either Shamwari Long Lee Manor or Kariega Ukhozi Lodge and the last night all together again at Gorah Elephant Camp. The lodges in the Eastern Cape are all malaria free and offer Big Five Safaris (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo).

“There is no better way to end a journey such as this, than by doing it Relais & Chateaux style in the bush.

We were spoilt with wonderful first class service, decadent food and beautiful scenery.

Back at the lodge we are awed by a spectacular display of thunder and lighting. Trulyhumbled, we fell asleep to the roar of the lion pride and the whooping of the hyenas.”

The team flew back to Johannesburg via Port Elizabeth. What a trip it had been!!

The Cape Peninsula is one of the “must sees” in Cape Town for both leisure travellers and incentive groups. We often get asked about exclusive lunchtime function venues to incorporate in this day. We do make use of Buffels Bay, a secluded beach, located in the Table Mountain National Park, at Cape Point.

Our product team recently discovered an additional option – brand new picnic venue, which we are very excited about called Middle North Battery, located on Red Hill. This is the spot where they fire off the cannon for special occasions. There are old bunkers behind where the cannon is situated, which one can go and explore. Definately the place to be for the perfect panoramic view of the navy capital  – Simons Town and its harbour.

As an added experience the gentleman that runs the museum will give guests a talk on the history of the area and possibly even get them to fire the Naval cannon. Untitled

The vast and arid Northern Cape is by far South Africa’s largest province – it is slightly bigger than Germany and covers nearly a third of South Africa’s land area. Yet it has the country’s smallest population, a little over 1-million people, and an extremely roomy population density of three people per square kilometre. The province lies to the south of its most important asset, the mighty Orange River, which feeds the agriculture and alluvial diamond industries. The river forms the border with Namibia in the north, while the Molopo River borders Botswana to the northeast. The Northern Cape is home to the world’s largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is being built at Carnarvon. Sutherland is the site of the southern hemisphere’s largest astronomical observatory, the multinational-sponsored Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT.

The landscape is characterised by vast arid plains with outcroppings of haphazard rock piles. The cold Atlantic Ocean forms the western boundary.

Augrabies Falls

One of the highlights of this region is the Augrabies Falls. Few sights are as awesome or a sound as deafening as water thundering down the 56m Augrabies Waterfall when the Orange River is in full flood. The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, or Place of Great Noise.

Our recommendation for accommodation in the area is the newly opened Tutwa Desert Lodge, located 80km from Augrabies Falls. It has great potential for leisure travellers and small groups or incentives.

The lodge boasts 10 suites, for 20 guests in total and an additional 4 bedroom farmhouse, which is ideal for families. The owners also offer the use of three PC12’s 9-seater aircraft for private charter. Aircraft can depart from the Execujet hangar in Johannesburg or Cape Town. The flying time from Cape Town is 1hr30min, followed by a 4km 4×4 transfer from the airstrip.  A fly-in is recommended! One could also combine this with a short stop at Augrabies to see the falls, before heading on to the lodge.

Unique activities include safaris (one can see a variety of desert animals) and an ongoing leopard introduction programme (leopard tagging will take place from March 2014 so one could incorporate this as a unique activity). At a future date rhino and desert elephant will be introduced. With 25km water frontage on the Orange River guests can enjoy ½ day white-water rafting or ½ day canoeing activities. There is also a natural hot spring on-site where the lodge can set up 4 massage beds.

As for dining, there are two options – an on-site boma and a beautiful off-site Canyon Dinner with optional star gazing.

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The Marly Hotel & Umi Restaurant

Taking its name from Chậteau de Marly, built in the 17th Century for the leisure activities of Louis XIV and his family, The Marly says it all. This five-star hotel with its contemporary beach ambience is located in Camps Bay. The hotel offers eleven spacious suites, offering either sea- or mountain views; mirrored contemporary en-suite bathrooms; and state-of-the-art amenities for today’s discerning traveller. The luxury and deluxe suites have jacuzzis, outdoor showers and large, welcoming balconies. Among the hotel facilities are a private, pool-terrace bar and courtyard, 24-hour room service and a bath-butler service.

Umi, a modern Japanese restaurant, with seating capacity for 200 guests, will satisfy diners looking for tasty, healthy, in-house eating options. It boasts Camps Bay’s newest, chicest, 80-seater bar that overlooks an outside terrace. A high-tech conference venue will satisfy the business requirements of top executives and their teams.

The hotel and restaurant is located in the heart of the Camps Bay strip, so it’s spot-on for those wanting to be “where the cool people are”.

 You can view some further images on our image library by clicking here

Cavalli Wine Estate and Stud and Equus Restaurant

Situated between Somerset West and Stellenbosch lies Cavalli Wine Estate and Stud Farm. Just 45 minutes from Cape Town, this gorgeous new property offers a multitude of products; wine tastings, art gallery, fine dining, an event venue and exquisite views of the vineyards and Helderberg Mountain.

The newly opened Equus Restaurant offers fine dining, superb eco-design and a relaxing outlook over the vineyards and lake. Cavalli’s approach to cuisine can be described as “a contemporary take on the classics”, encompassing a combination of freshness, flavour and flair. Real, humble food cooked textbook style, paired with an expertly crafted wine list and selected whiskies.

Cavalli estate aims to encourage the local arts through its platforms of public sculpture spaces and an art gallery within the Restaurant / Function complex. The Gallery will retain a permanent installation showcasing classic South African artists, as well as a rotating exhibition of other notable works within the Cavalli Private Collection.

You can view more images at our Image Library by clicking here

Bennet Street and Gold Restaurant

One of our favourite venues in Cape Town, Gold Restaurant, has announced that they have taken over management of the adjacent venue, Bennett Street. This versatile function space can comfortably hold 200 guests banquet-style and can be operated independently of the restaurant. For larger groups of up to 2500 guests, the entire complex, including Bennett Street itself, the road after which the venue was named, can be closed off to create a “street-party” atmosphere.

 

The South African Rand is offering great opportunities for international travellers visiting South Africa.

Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dragonfly Africa comments:  “Most international currencies have increased in value, some currencies to well over 50%; making South Africa even more affordable to visit than before!  This is the best time to plan your next Incentive trip or holiday to South Africa and take advantage of the fantastic value the destination has to offer.”

Below are some calculations, indicating the increase in value of USD to the ZAR.

Value of USD in May 2011 – 6.92

Value of USD in January 2014 – 11.11

Increase in value of 60,7% in the last 3 years.

With some superb hotel properties, great infrastructure, amazing wildlife and top quality food and wine, this is the destination that makes sense.  Where you really get more value for your dollar!

Through its bankers, Dragonfly Africa is also able to assist clients with incentive programs to buy forward, so obtaining an even more favorable rate.

For further information, contact Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs – Yolanda@dragonfly.co.za

www.dragonfly.co.za

 

There’s never a bad time to visit Cape Town. In recent years the city has received a deluge of accolades paying homage to its undeniable natural beauty. This year the city is destined to get even prettier as it takes on the title of World Design Capital for 12 inspirational months. Expect sculpture-lined green spaces, sustainable projects, and further regeneration of former industrial districts such as Woodstock and The Fringe, now the stamping ground of trendy shoppers and gourmands. The main goal of the design team, though, is to bridge the gap between Cape Town’s disparate population, so venture on a tour out of town to see how innovation is turning things around in the disadvantaged townships, then explore suburban sights on the swanky bus system that’s finally making Cape Town feasible on public transport

This month’s feature is on Ruaha National Park in Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania, and possibly one of the least known! It covers an area of about 13,000 square kilometres (5,000 sq mi). It is located in the middle of Tanzania about 130 kilometres (81 mi) from Iringa. The park is part of a more extensive ecosystem, which includes Rungwa Game Reserve, Usangu Game Reserve, and several other protected areas.

The name of the park is derived from the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its south-eastern margin and is the focus for game-viewing. The reserve is remote, but Safari Air Link operates daily scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar to Ruaha also linking it with Selous, Mikumi, Katavi and Mahale.  For Ruaha River Lodge you would land at Msembe airstrip.

TZNP_map

Ruaha is well known for its varied dramatic scenery, which includes rolling hills; large open plains; groves of skeletal baobabs and along its southern border, the Great Ruaha River, from which the park gets its name. This is by far the most dominant geographical feature of the park and, for the wildlife it is the most important. Ruaha has a hot, dry climate which means the animals don’t tend to stray too far from dependable water sources. This makes predicating game movements far easier particularly in the dry season.

The best game viewing is generally from May to November, but the bush is greener and prettier from January to June, and birding peaks during the European winter months of December to April. There is a real mix between species more commonly associated with northern areas of Africa, and species which are widespread in the south such as; buffalo, zebra, Defassa waterbuck, impala, bushbuck, giraffe, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, greater kudu (some of the most handsomely horned males you’ll come across anywhere in Africa) also the more elusive roan and sable antelope. Grant’s gazelle and lesser kudu are also found here and are good examples of game that is more typically associated with areas further north. (It’s also one of the few places where you can see both greater and lesser kudu in the same area.) Ruaha National Park is also home to the largest elephant population found in any of Tanzanian national parks, with some 12,000 elephants migrating through the greater Ruaha ecosystem each year.

It is also an excellent park for predators. Lions are not only numerous and very habituated to vehicles, but the prides tend to be unusually large, often numbering more than 20 individuals. Cheetah can often be seen hunting on the open plains; and the park has a particularly good reputation for leopard sightings. It is one of the last major strongholds for African wild dog populations with more than 100 found here. Black-backed jackal and spotted hyena are both very common and easily seen, and the rarer striped hyena, though seldom observed, also lives here.

There are six main lodges in Ruaha: Tandala Tented Camps, Mwagusi Safari Camp, Mdonya Old River Camp, Ruaha River Lodge, Kwihale and Jongomero Camp.

Ruaha River Lodge is set on one of the most stunning stretches of the Great Ruaha River. Designed around natural kopjes (rocky hills), the lodge has been built out of local stone and thatch and capitalises on it’s exceptional position on a bend in the river. Each of the 24 chalets has stunning views from a large veranda out the front, while the huge interiors feature a sitting area, writing desk and either twin or double beds. At the rear of each chalet is a large bathroom decorated with found timber, a shower and double basins.

Ruaha River lodge

The World mourns an Icon

madiba

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela

As the news broke, in the late hours of 5 December 2013, that Nelson Mandela had passed away, a collective sense of grief descended on both the country and in fact, the whole world.

Nelson Mandela has been revered as the Father of our democracy and is affectionately known as “Tata” (Father in the ixhosa language) by most South Africans. He single-handedly embodied all that was good about our peaceful transition from apartheid to a fledgling democracy. For one who spent 27 years in jail he emerged incomprehensibly without hate or bitterness and started the process where the nation could heal itself through the first democratic elections to the Truth and Reconciliation process.

The days following his passing have been marked with an uncontrollable outpouring of love. Citizens from all walks of life, young and old, black and white have been united in their sadness and willingness to celebrate his life and what he personally sacrificed for his beliefs and our country.

Since Thursday night citizens have been holding vigil outside his Houghton home in Johannesburg, laying flowers, lighting candles, saying prayers and paying their respect.

Mandela 2

Around the country, this coming week is dedicated to a celebration of his life. In Johannesburg a commemoratory service is to be held at the FNB Stadium. The service is to be attended by many heads of states, politicians, royalty and many well-known personalities as well as regular citizens from all walks of life. Mandela’s body will lie in state in a glass coffin at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday until Friday, and his coffin will be delivered each day from the nearby 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria.

In Cape Town a memorial service and musical celebration will be held at the Cape Town Stadium with free entrance and free public transport to all. The last few nights we have seen his image projected onto Table Mountain.

Madiba image on Table MNT

 The final state funeral will be held on Sunday in Qunu, his home town in Eastern Cape, where he will be laid to rest.

My question is “What does this mean for us as South Africans?” Personally I mourn his passing. I was lucky enough to have met Nelson Mandela, and while I did not know him personally, his death still affects me deeply. My hope is that we, as citizens of the world, take the lessons we have learnt from this great leader and apply them to our daily lives both as individuals and as collective organisations.

“Nelson Mandela believed in harnessing the power of the collective to bring about change. Nelson Mandela has left us a legacy that will forever inspire the generations to come. He embodied all of humanity’s hopes and dreams. He saw what was possible before others could fully comprehend that one day South Africa would take a leap from being a pariah state and become a beacon of hope.” – Ellis Mnyandu

RIP Nelson Mandela

Robin Mcleod

This month’s feature is on South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Luangwa Map

South Luangwa National Park, in eastern Zambia in the valley of the Luangwa River, is a world-renowned wildlife sanctuary of unspoiled beauty. It is so unspoilt and natural that it has been described as what some of Africa’s other most famous parks looked like 50 years ago. Amongst many others, South Luangwa is a favourite place of best-selling novelist, Wilbur Smith. The Luangwa Valley is “off the beaten track” and a natural barrier to human migration and transport as no roads pass through it, a factor that has helped to conserve the wildlife and the precious solitude – the two major attractions that draw guests to the area.

Founded as a game reserve in 1938 and proclaimed a national park in 1972, the 9,050 sq. km South Luangwa Park offers visitors an array of small tented and thatched bush camps and lodges from rustic to luxurious, all-exclusive style.

The majority of the accommodation in the area is intimate tented or thatched camps catering from 6-12 guests, although one very worthy exception is Mfuwe Lodge. This camp consists of 18 thatched chalets and is set in a prolific game-rich area inside the Park, five minutes from the main gate.

Mfuwe is situated under a canopy of ebony and mahogany, it features an extraordinary occurrence every November when elephants regularly wander through the lobby, lured by a nearby wild mango tree as shown below.

Mfuwe

Mfuwe International Airport is located just outside the park and most visitors arrive on scheduled flights (1hr 10min) from Zambian capital Lusaka. Lodges collect guests from the airport in safari vehicles.  South Luangwa is also a popular add-on destination from Livingstone after visitors have been to Victoria Falls, though the scheduled flight to Mfuwe is via Lusaka.

Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) is the major gateway for international visitors and airlines such as Emirates (from Dubai), British Airways (from London), South African Airways (from Johannesburg), KLM (from Amsterdam) and Kenya Airways (from Nairobi).

Leading airlines offering scheduled flights are Pro-Flight (www.proflight-zambia.com), who operate Jetstream aircraft. Their fleet consists of two 29-seaters and three 18-seaters. Flights from Lusaka are currently on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The concentration of wildlife that lives around the Luangwa River, at the tail-end of the continent’s Rift Valley, is amongst the highest in Africa. The Luangwa, flanked by a spectacular escarpment, flows through the heart of the park on its way to the Zambezi River.

The park is famous for large herds of elephant and buffalo and the river supports big populations of hippos and crocodiles. It’s a wild and beautiful place and it is also usual for visitors to enjoy good sightings of leopard, lion, zebra, African wild dogs and two species unique to this area – Cookson’s wildebeest and Thornicroft’s giraffe. It’s a birding paradise with over 400 species recorded.

With no roads, the Luangwa is an excellent walking experience and night drives are also permitted, offering the best chance to spot a leopard. In the “green season” when the Luangwa is in full flow, boat trips on the river are a must.

East Africa News

The Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi, located within the larger commercial area of Nairobi, commenced operations 01st August 2013 with a soft opening. It’s rated 5 star and among the best of the Nairobi hotels.

The hotel has 200 rooms and suites elegantly presented in a fusion of European and Pan-African style distributed throughout 10 floors, including a Presidential Suite on the top floor.

In the Masai Mara, Kempinski took over the formerly Olare Ntiakitiak camp, now renamed Olare Mara Kempinski (located at Olare Orok conservancy, bordering the Masai Mara). It has 12 luxury tents as well as a honeymoon tent. Access is via chartered flight out of Nairobi.

Other properties at Olare Orok Conservancy are Porini Camp, Kicheche Bush Camp, Mara Plains Camp, and the now opened Mahali Mzuri belonging to the Virgin Group.

Olare Mara Kempinksi

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