1. Saturday, April 5, 2014

    It’s coming!

24 hours of travel, stop offs in Asia and aeroplane meals aplenty – a trip from the UK to Australia is a bit of a marathon to say the least. Nobody in their right mind actually enjoys being cramped on a plane, eating cardboard and feeling stale after a case of dry ‘plane breath’, but like every other traveller I thrive off new adventures and love going as far away from home as possible. That’s where this trip comes in to play.

Australia has always felt a little bit out of my league; with over 10,500 miles to cover the thought that I could just ‘nip around the corner’ whilst working full time seemed ridiculous. Needless to say three weeks of leave was signed off from work and with the two Easter and a May bank holiday to play with, this dream started to seem a bit more real.

The itinerary:

Hong Kong: 12th-14th, Shangri La Kowloon
Sydney: 15th-18th, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel
Hamilton Island: 18th-22nd, Reef View Hotel
Melbourne: 22nd-24th, Sofitel Melbourne
Great Ocean Road: 3 days of cruising down the highway!
Adelaide 27th:, Majestic Roof Garden Hotel
Sydney 28th: Airport stay!
Hong Kong 29th-2nd May: Hotel Icon and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

Think Google Maps has made perfectly clear that our internal flights within Oz were dominated by flight availability and price. Ha.
I’m a stickler for detail when it comes to big trips, and each and every hotel has been analysed to death. We’ve picked out some fantastic activities we’re going to try out in Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, and I’ve found a few fantastic restaurants that my taste buds are ridiculously eager to try (told you!). The hot shopping joints have been recorded and I’m almost considering packing more than a single day in advance. It’s actually happening, y’all!

From Friday, I’m going to be out the office for 25 days - which actually scares me half to death. It’s weird to think I won’t have any attachments or responsibilities for that long! Australia, here I come!
As I’m 100% social media obsessed, you’ll be able to follow my journey by instagram and Twitter at @exploredujour.

    It’s coming!

    24 hours of travel, stop offs in Asia and aeroplane meals aplenty – a trip from the UK to Australia is a bit of a marathon to say the least. Nobody in their right mind actually enjoys being cramped on a plane, eating cardboard and feeling stale after a case of dry ‘plane breath’, but like every other traveller I thrive off new adventures and love going as far away from home as possible. That’s where this trip comes in to play.

    Australia has always felt a little bit out of my league; with over 10,500 miles to cover the thought that I could just ‘nip around the corner’ whilst working full time seemed ridiculous. Needless to say three weeks of leave was signed off from work and with the two Easter and a May bank holiday to play with, this dream started to seem a bit more real.

    The itinerary:

    Hong Kong: 12th-14th, Shangri La Kowloon

    Sydney: 15th-18th, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel

    Hamilton Island: 18th-22nd, Reef View Hotel

    Melbourne: 22nd-24th, Sofitel Melbourne

    Great Ocean Road: 3 days of cruising down the highway!

    Adelaide 27th:, Majestic Roof Garden Hotel

    Sydney 28th: Airport stay!

    Hong Kong 29th-2nd May: Hotel Icon and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

    Think Google Maps has made perfectly clear that our internal flights within Oz were dominated by flight availability and price. Ha.

    I’m a stickler for detail when it comes to big trips, and each and every hotel has been analysed to death. We’ve picked out some fantastic activities we’re going to try out in Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, and I’ve found a few fantastic restaurants that my taste buds are ridiculously eager to try (told you!). The hot shopping joints have been recorded and I’m almost considering packing more than a single day in advance. It’s actually happening, y’all!

    From Friday, I’m going to be out the office for 25 days - which actually scares me half to death. It’s weird to think I won’t have any attachments or responsibilities for that long! Australia, here I come!

    As I’m 100% social media obsessed, you’ll be able to follow my journey by instagram and Twitter at @exploredujour.

    Posted on: 5th April 2014 - 0 notesReblog

  2. Sunday, February 16, 2014

    Snoozing in Style- Flying First with British Airways
One of the best moments in life, ever? Getting out of one of those plastic, bendy tunnels from the airport, and stepping onto a plane - ready to take your next adventure. Being a travel obsessive has its advantages, one of them being that you get satisfaction out of the simplest of things - the other being the actual journey itself. I love flying and thrive off the thought of getting to my end destination - but one thing I do hate is a night flight. Boo, hiss, boo.
I’ve become a bit of a terror on the airways, and over the last few years have morphed into one of those dreaded ‘non-sleepers’. You’re a member of our club if you: leave the TV on for hours after it turns dark. You try and make as little noise as possible, but snacking is frankly the only way you can distract yourself from feeling bloody exhausted. You’ll toss and turn constantly, trying to get comfortable in ‘your bed’…. (and yep, I’m one of those. Hands up, I’m guilty!)
Over the last twelve months I’ve taken at least five night flights, all in economy – and have been rattled with post-flying-brain for hours after landing (you know: that horrible taste in your mouth, lack of food, dreariness? Me all over.). In First though? Not a problem!

Aisle to yourself? Yes please…
Over the years I’ve flown in each and every cabin on the BA fleet – from Euro/World Traveller through to First, back in summer 2012 on a family holiday to St Lucia. We decided to revisit the high life and fly in style on the way back from our Christmas break in Cape Town, and low and behold I’d managed to blag seat 1A (to non-aviation geeks: the best seat on the plane! Eeek!). Check out my dream digs on the Vine below!

Currently (as of Feb ’14), approximately half of the British Airways LDN-CPT routes are being flown in the old First fleet, whereas half are flying snazzed up in the new. The Vine you can see above is that of an old First class fleet. Was it an issue? Heck, no. The old British Airways First cabin feels like your best mates living room – inviting, yet warm and snug. Seat 1A was going to be my throne for 12 hours, and it felt GREAT.
Tip: Flying ‘old’ First too? Ask the cabin crew for an AVIOS points redemption card. Fill out your details, and you’ll be rewarded with 50,000 points per seat, per journey (dependent on length of flight). We blagged 200,000 points between us for ‘the inconvenience’, which is enough for two of us to fly in Club World to Las Vegas. Result!

Seated in 1A, I’d felt like the cat who had got the cream. Coming from somebody who suffers from claustrophobia, it can feel reasonably scary when you first sit down on a flight, and it can take me a while to feel comfortable within my surroundings. The great thing about the BA seats is that they feel private, and the standard ‘will anybody see my sleeping face’ scenario can get struck off the worry list. The seat next to me, 1K was broken, so I had the nose of the plane to myself.
Downside of this?: As a family of four, we like to be seated close together – if anything just so we all have a bit of company on a flight (Cape Town- London, 12 hours! It can get pretty lonely!) and on this flight, upon check in, only 1 of our chosen ‘checked in’ seats was honoured – mine. The rest of my family were moved; two in front of the galley (a little noisy) and one – behind me. Completely understand that this particular flight was hosted on an older plane, but when there are only 16 seats in a cabin, surely they should all be up and running, or at least be unavailable to pre-book beforehand? Sounds like a small issue – but for the price, we expected more.
Food: I’ve had some absolutely fantastic meals in Business and First with British Airways (their steak - amazing!), and some not so good. Unfortunately this was one of the latter, the leek and potato soup we had as a starter wasn’t comparable to say a standard ‘Covent Garden’ packet soup, and my duck breast was delicious- but the sauce, a little overwhelming.



Not fancying any of the deserts, I did cheekily ask the air hostess for a snack from the ‘Club Kitchen’ (ie- a snack cupboard for those flying in Club, stacked with crisps, chocolates and everything a girl could ever want on a flight) and surprisingly, I was actually given a box of chocolates to snack on instead. These little touches made the flight great, even if the food in this instance was not as good as we’ve had on previous occasions.
 
My box of chocolates and the pyjamas I changed into afterwards…
The ‘First’ Experience: Although we’d come across a few little hiccups with the seats and the food, there’s no denying that the First experience is bloody good. Within five minutes of sitting down in your luxury pad you’re presented with a glass of champagne, a pair of First pyjamas (amazing!) and an Aromatherapy wash bag – which set you up for the entire flight. I hate having make up on my face when I’m asleep, and I was able to take it all off with the gear inside the bag. Loved the face cream!
Want to snooze? Call the air host, and within no time at all they’ve made up your bed, and are offering you a late night snack. Want to watch a film? The TV screen bends around for a perfect midnight watch…
And the bed? A life saver. I slept for 5 of 12 hours on this night flight, which is by a long shot my new all time record. I’m not sure I’ll ever be satisfied with a half an hour’s kip ever again! Cheers BA for a good flight (and most importantly, some precious snoozing time!)

    Snoozing in Style- Flying First with British Airways

    One of the best moments in life, ever? Getting out of one of those plastic, bendy tunnels from the airport, and stepping onto a plane - ready to take your next adventure. Being a travel obsessive has its advantages, one of them being that you get satisfaction out of the simplest of things - the other being the actual journey itself. I love flying and thrive off the thought of getting to my end destination - but one thing I do hate is a night flight. Boo, hiss, boo.

    I’ve become a bit of a terror on the airways, and over the last few years have morphed into one of those dreaded ‘non-sleepers’. You’re a member of our club if you: leave the TV on for hours after it turns dark. You try and make as little noise as possible, but snacking is frankly the only way you can distract yourself from feeling bloody exhausted. You’ll toss and turn constantly, trying to get comfortable in ‘your bed’…. (and yep, I’m one of those. Hands up, I’m guilty!)

    Over the last twelve months I’ve taken at least five night flights, all in economy – and have been rattled with post-flying-brain for hours after landing (you know: that horrible taste in your mouth, lack of food, dreariness? Me all over.). In First though? Not a problem!

    Aisle to yourself? Yes please…

    Over the years I’ve flown in each and every cabin on the BA fleet – from Euro/World Traveller through to First, back in summer 2012 on a family holiday to St Lucia. We decided to revisit the high life and fly in style on the way back from our Christmas break in Cape Town, and low and behold I’d managed to blag seat 1A (to non-aviation geeks: the best seat on the plane! Eeek!). Check out my dream digs on the Vine below!

    Currently (as of Feb ’14), approximately half of the British Airways LDN-CPT routes are being flown in the old First fleet, whereas half are flying snazzed up in the new. The Vine you can see above is that of an old First class fleet. Was it an issue? Heck, no. The old British Airways First cabin feels like your best mates living room – inviting, yet warm and snug. Seat 1A was going to be my throne for 12 hours, and it felt GREAT.

    Tip: Flying ‘old’ First too? Ask the cabin crew for an AVIOS points redemption card. Fill out your details, and you’ll be rewarded with 50,000 points per seat, per journey (dependent on length of flight). We blagged 200,000 points between us for ‘the inconvenience’, which is enough for two of us to fly in Club World to Las Vegas. Result!

    Seated in 1A, I’d felt like the cat who had got the cream. Coming from somebody who suffers from claustrophobia, it can feel reasonably scary when you first sit down on a flight, and it can take me a while to feel comfortable within my surroundings. The great thing about the BA seats is that they feel private, and the standard ‘will anybody see my sleeping face’ scenario can get struck off the worry list. The seat next to me, 1K was broken, so I had the nose of the plane to myself.

    Downside of this?: As a family of four, we like to be seated close together – if anything just so we all have a bit of company on a flight (Cape Town- London, 12 hours! It can get pretty lonely!) and on this flight, upon check in, only 1 of our chosen ‘checked in’ seats was honoured – mine. The rest of my family were moved; two in front of the galley (a little noisy) and one – behind me. Completely understand that this particular flight was hosted on an older plane, but when there are only 16 seats in a cabin, surely they should all be up and running, or at least be unavailable to pre-book beforehand? Sounds like a small issue – but for the price, we expected more.

    Food: I’ve had some absolutely fantastic meals in Business and First with British Airways (their steak - amazing!), and some not so good. Unfortunately this was one of the latter, the leek and potato soup we had as a starter wasn’t comparable to say a standard ‘Covent Garden’ packet soup, and my duck breast was delicious- but the sauce, a little overwhelming.

    Not fancying any of the deserts, I did cheekily ask the air hostess for a snack from the ‘Club Kitchen’ (ie- a snack cupboard for those flying in Club, stacked with crisps, chocolates and everything a girl could ever want on a flight) and surprisingly, I was actually given a box of chocolates to snack on instead. These little touches made the flight great, even if the food in this instance was not as good as we’ve had on previous occasions.

     

    My box of chocolates and the pyjamas I changed into afterwards…

    The ‘First’ Experience: Although we’d come across a few little hiccups with the seats and the food, there’s no denying that the First experience is bloody good. Within five minutes of sitting down in your luxury pad you’re presented with a glass of champagne, a pair of First pyjamas (amazing!) and an Aromatherapy wash bag – which set you up for the entire flight. I hate having make up on my face when I’m asleep, and I was able to take it all off with the gear inside the bag. Loved the face cream!

    Want to snooze? Call the air host, and within no time at all they’ve made up your bed, and are offering you a late night snack. Want to watch a film? The TV screen bends around for a perfect midnight watch…

    And the bed? A life saver. I slept for 5 of 12 hours on this night flight, which is by a long shot my new all time record. I’m not sure I’ll ever be satisfied with a half an hour’s kip ever again! Cheers BA for a good flight (and most importantly, some precious snoozing time!)

    Posted on: 16th February 2014 - 0 notesReblog

  3. Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    Driving Along the Garden Route: Is it for You?
I’ve always been one of those ‘wind in your hair’, sunglasses at the ready travel types, so in short – road trips suit me. They’re pretty casual and anything that has ‘laid back travel’ written all over it is me hands down.
Back in 2009, my family and I whizzed up Highway 1 and took over California and Nevada for three weeks. It was bloody amazing and without a doubt it was that trip that got me into this whole ‘travel malarkey’ and forced a ridiculous geographical itch to take over my everyday life. Since then, I’ve wanted to get back in a car and actually ‘see places’ properly, behind a window screen, with a ridiculous amount of stop offs (snaps and snacks – required) but until recently it hadn’t popped back up on my radar. UNTIL NOW!

The road tripper’s back! Whippersnapper Laura, Santa Barbara - 2009
The Garden Route is world renowned as being one of the best drives, ever. And as natural progression from the West Coast of the US, South Africa is probably the closest it gets. I loved that one, so I’d love this one too – right? Right?!
Get your pitch forks at the ready, you’ll love the Garden Route if…
You’re one of those people who goes away ‘to get a change of scene’
If like most of the general public one of the reasons you travel is to shake things up (me!) then the Garden Route is perfect as the landscape transforms constantly, and if you got bored looking out of the window it’d be practically illegal. One second – rocky, cutesy coastal sea route. The next, alpine trees galore – and thereafter, rolling hills a la Austria style. Basically, there’s more landscape variety than you can shake a stick at and compared to Cali there’s more to see behind the wheel.

You’re snap happy
Every family member has a resident photographer, and to satisfy said snapper they need ample ‘photography genius’ moments so they can wind their neck in. SLR carriers, you’re a given to love this route. iPhone obsessors, same applies. Just look at these bad boys! Prepare to have your socks well-and-truly blown off. 

Canada, is that you?

Green galore!


Niceeee…
Food is your life
… so technically I’m talking to the whole world here, right? South African food is nothing short of incredible, and over the course of two weeks we didn’t have one bad meal. Not one! It’s a miracle! One of the best restaurants we’ve ever eaten at – La Petit Ferme, is located just off the Garden Route in the beautiful Franchhoek. If you’re going to this part of the world, please promise me you’ll visit? (It’d be a crime against knives and forks everywhere if you didn’t…)


This happened. Along with iced coffee for good measure. Cue: instant food heaven
You’d hate the Garden Route if…
You’re a holiday hibernator…
Some people like to just sit and see, in one place. All week.  By a pool, with a book. If relaxation is key then this drive probably isn’t for you, seeing as though it’s 750+ miles long (and you’re sort of guaranteed a numb bum at some point…)
You’re scared/don’t like animals. Pick one!
The wildlife in South Africa is MINDBLOWING. You’re driving down the road and hey up – there’s a baboon, or you’re working your way around private reserves and suddenly, you’re playing ‘spot the giraffe’ #classic. You can’t escape from the little blighters, even if you wanted to (but in all seriousness, why would you want to?! It’s so much fun!!). If you’re a general wildlife hater, then stay clear. It wouldn’t be good for them, or you!


See, they’re even in Cape Town! (Ha. ha.)
You hate on nice landscape, as apparently ‘it’s boring’
Not too sure how you could get bored of this but apparently, you can! If you’re just down for beaches and palm trees, then go to LA and hit Hollywood. There’s more glitz and glam for you there! But if you’re after something a bit more cultural, easy on the eye and just god damn spectacular, then the South African scenery is your cup of tea, big time.
Tell the Difference: Garden Route vs Highway One, ding ding!



Can you tell the difference between the two drives above? Reckon the only dead cert giveaway is the infamous lingering mist (top - SA, bottom- California) but there’s no doubting that parts of both drives are very similar. I’m going to come out and say it –if you love cities, then Highway One is your bag. With LA and San Francisco on its radar, not forgetting Monterrey, which is pretty sizeable too- Highway One is full to the brim of big, big places. The Garden Route just doesn’t have that. We started off in Port Elizabeth (so so) and ended in Cape Town (off the chain!) but in between, we only came across average sized towns - the biggest being Plettenberg Bay and Knysna and other little villages (Swellendam) and this is the by far the easiest way to compare both drives. Small and cute vs big and brash.

Got some serious love for Cape Town! (Shown: Cape Grace/Table Mountain)
Like big cities, the bright lights and beautiful, rocky coastlines? Then you’re more American than Paris Hilton. Like big beaches, but also taken aback by stunning scenery and really good food? South Africa is probably more you.


Noetzie beach, Knysna
Personally, I loved both. There’s by far more variety in the location, activities and scenery in South Africa (safari one week, abseiling down Table Mountain the next?!) but there’s just something about America which makes it extra special.
Alas, no decision has been made. Both drives = amazing. DO THEM. Add them to your bucket list. Now!
We’ll be heading along our next big road trip in April - along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Updates inevitable. Be there, or be square!

    Driving Along the Garden Route: Is it for You?

    I’ve always been one of those ‘wind in your hair’, sunglasses at the ready travel types, so in short – road trips suit me. They’re pretty casual and anything that has ‘laid back travel’ written all over it is me hands down.

    Back in 2009, my family and I whizzed up Highway 1 and took over California and Nevada for three weeks. It was bloody amazing and without a doubt it was that trip that got me into this whole ‘travel malarkey’ and forced a ridiculous geographical itch to take over my everyday life. Since then, I’ve wanted to get back in a car and actually ‘see places’ properly, behind a window screen, with a ridiculous amount of stop offs (snaps and snacks – required) but until recently it hadn’t popped back up on my radar. UNTIL NOW!

    The road tripper’s back! Whippersnapper Laura, Santa Barbara - 2009

    The Garden Route is world renowned as being one of the best drives, ever. And as natural progression from the West Coast of the US, South Africa is probably the closest it gets. I loved that one, so I’d love this one too – right? Right?!

    Get your pitch forks at the ready, you’ll love the Garden Route if…

    You’re one of those people who goes away ‘to get a change of scene’

    If like most of the general public one of the reasons you travel is to shake things up (me!) then the Garden Route is perfect as the landscape transforms constantly, and if you got bored looking out of the window it’d be practically illegal. One second – rocky, cutesy coastal sea route. The next, alpine trees galore – and thereafter, rolling hills a la Austria style. Basically, there’s more landscape variety than you can shake a stick at and compared to Cali there’s more to see behind the wheel.

    You’re snap happy

    Every family member has a resident photographer, and to satisfy said snapper they need ample ‘photography genius’ moments so they can wind their neck in. SLR carriers, you’re a given to love this route. iPhone obsessors, same applies. Just look at these bad boys! Prepare to have your socks well-and-truly blown off

    Canada, is that you?

    Green galore!

    Niceeee…

    Food is your life

    … so technically I’m talking to the whole world here, right? South African food is nothing short of incredible, and over the course of two weeks we didn’t have one bad meal. Not one! It’s a miracle! One of the best restaurants we’ve ever eaten at – La Petit Ferme, is located just off the Garden Route in the beautiful Franchhoek. If you’re going to this part of the world, please promise me you’ll visit? (It’d be a crime against knives and forks everywhere if you didn’t…)

    This happened. Along with iced coffee for good measure. Cue: instant food heaven

    You’d hate the Garden Route if…

    You’re a holiday hibernator…

    Some people like to just sit and see, in one place. All week.  By a pool, with a book. If relaxation is key then this drive probably isn’t for you, seeing as though it’s 750+ miles long (and you’re sort of guaranteed a numb bum at some point…)

    You’re scared/don’t like animals. Pick one!

    The wildlife in South Africa is MINDBLOWING. You’re driving down the road and hey up – there’s a baboon, or you’re working your way around private reserves and suddenly, you’re playing ‘spot the giraffe’ #classic. You can’t escape from the little blighters, even if you wanted to (but in all seriousness, why would you want to?! It’s so much fun!!). If you’re a general wildlife hater, then stay clear. It wouldn’t be good for them, or you!

    See, they’re even in Cape Town! (Ha. ha.)

    You hate on nice landscape, as apparently ‘it’s boring’

    Not too sure how you could get bored of this but apparently, you can! If you’re just down for beaches and palm trees, then go to LA and hit Hollywood. There’s more glitz and glam for you there! But if you’re after something a bit more cultural, easy on the eye and just god damn spectacular, then the South African scenery is your cup of tea, big time.

    Tell the Difference: Garden Route vs Highway One, ding ding!

    Can you tell the difference between the two drives above? Reckon the only dead cert giveaway is the infamous lingering mist (top - SA, bottom- California) but there’s no doubting that parts of both drives are very similar. I’m going to come out and say it –if you love cities, then Highway One is your bag. With LA and San Francisco on its radar, not forgetting Monterrey, which is pretty sizeable too- Highway One is full to the brim of big, big places. The Garden Route just doesn’t have that. We started off in Port Elizabeth (so so) and ended in Cape Town (off the chain!) but in between, we only came across average sized towns - the biggest being Plettenberg Bay and Knysna and other little villages (Swellendam) and this is the by far the easiest way to compare both drives. Small and cute vs big and brash.

    Got some serious love for Cape Town! (Shown: Cape Grace/Table Mountain)

    Like big cities, the bright lights and beautiful, rocky coastlines? Then you’re more American than Paris Hilton. Like big beaches, but also taken aback by stunning scenery and really good food? South Africa is probably more you.

    Noetzie beach, Knysna

    Personally, I loved both. There’s by far more variety in the location, activities and scenery in South Africa (safari one week, abseiling down Table Mountain the next?!) but there’s just something about America which makes it extra special.

    Alas, no decision has been made. Both drives = amazing. DO THEM. Add them to your bucket list. Now!

    We’ll be heading along our next big road trip in April - along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Updates inevitable. Be there, or be square!

    Posted on: 4th February 2014 - 0 notesReblog

  4. Sunday, January 19, 2014

    Shamwari, Bayethe Lodge

    Since I was nee high, I’ve wanted to sit my behind on one of those cool safari jeeps to track down the Big 5. I could see it now: head to toe in khaki - sporting one of those old school cowboy hats, binoculars hanging from my hips and a army knife and plastic bottle in my bag for good measure (if I had to survive single handedly in the bush, I was going to do it old school).

    Can’t say my first safari experience was anything like what I imagined as a kid. There I was, kitted out in my baggy tee and trusty iPhone, ready to get the best Instagram photos that the world has ever seen. We spent our first night of our South African adventure resting our heads in Port Elizabeth and after a one and a half hour drive down motorways and dirt tracks galore, we ended up at the fabulous Shamwari in the Bayethe Lodge.

    Bayethe Lodge’s deck

    Shamwari : A Closer Look

    The Shamwari game reserve stretches over 25,000 ha and offers seven types of accommodation for the wannabe explorer, all of which are graded at 5 star. After some serious consideration, we decided to stay at the Bayethe Lodge – aka, Shamwari’s version of luxury, tented accommodation. Honestly I’m not sure anybody in their right mind could compare the ‘tent’ which we stayed in to one you’d drag up a mountain in the Yorkshire Dales, but we had an absolute blast.

    Our tent at the Bayethe Lodge

    One thing that makes the Bayethe Lodge incredibly special is the fact that there are only 12 tents in this one lodge – meaning that the hotel can only support a maximum of 24 guests at a time. As soon as we arrived we knew we were going to be taken care of; the staff at reception took our bags to our two tents – 7 and 8, immediately and before we knew it we were sat down for lunch. As per I opted for a burger (incredible!) and had a berry pavlova for desert – delish. All food is included within your stay at Shamwari and on a typical day you’d be eating breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. There’s no way you could go hungry at this place, that’s for sure!

     The berry pavlova - it was as good as it looks!

    The Drives

    Each guest at Shamwari will have a guide for the duration of their stay; Richard was ours and to say he was absolutely fantastic would be an understatement. Immediately we knew that he was an expert in all things Big 5 – he was giving us the lowdown on everything from the birds, to the plants to the game and during our two three hour game drives we learnt so much about the wildlife we saw. Richard was so enthusiastic that actually both game drives lasted for basically four hours, so to have eight hours of our Shamwari experience out on the actual reserve was really special.

    We were joined on our game reserve by another couple, and it felt like the seven of us were ready to take on the world! The best thing about a safari is that you never know what you might see, and with the almighty leopard on my wish list (and giraffe on my mum’s) Richard kept an eye out for our top two throughout – even though we knew the chances of seeing a leopard were incredibly slim.

    Leopard’s are incredibly rare in South Africa, and are known to be the most elusive member of the Big 5: proving incredibly difficult to ‘spot’. Why? For that reason alone, their spots form an applause worthy camouflage ready to fool the most experienced of spotters and with an estimated six leopards on a 25,000ha reserve (ie- 250 sq km to you and me!) we knew our chances were slim.

    Our first animal spot was a giraffe – and it’s hard to convey the initial rush of seeing your first big animal in the wild in words – it was phenomenal. We later stumbled into a herd of giraffe, and drove through a group of around 12. Amazing.

    We saw the expected antelope, anyala (like an antelope) and other typical species that bounce across the savannah. We drove past a bull elephant two hours in to our second drive (he was enormous!) and had a close call with a rhino and her baby who literally touched the front of our vehicle with her tusk. Those two minutes where we had to sit deadly still before Richard could reverse back at full speed went on forever, but my eyes never left hers.

    Rhino gate in all its glory (from the back row!)

    Three hours in to our first game drive, and as of circa 6:30pm we’d been pretty unlucky. We’d only seen 1 of the Big 5 and we were starting to pin our hopes on the finds of tomorrow – until Richard received a call from the intercom about a female leopard who’d been spotted five minutes away from our current spot. One of the fantastic things about Shamwari is that they never let more than two vehicles into the zone of a rare find, so if something as fantastic as this comes up you have to wait your turn. It just so happened that we were the second on board so we got to jump in face first, and I don’t think I ever expected to get so close to an animal I’d wanted to see in so long, ever.

     

     Yes, this happened!

    We tracked her through bushes, bracken and all sorts of greenery, and seeing her from afar was amazing – let alone getting within THIS close a distance. She wandered up to us, sat within 5m of our vehicle, dozed in the sun for ten minutes and then walked around to the back of our beloved jeep – within 2m of the back row seats where my brother and I were sitting. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

     

    No zoom! (Instagram heaven!)

    The following day we also got within 5m of two cheetahs- brothers, who had five minutes previously caught their latest kill. I’m pretty squeamish and would usually shy away from seeing anything of the sort on TV, but I was transfixed. We watched the brothers share their food for fifteen minutes and then carried on across the landscape.

     

    A safari, with a difference

    Shamwari provides guests with two game drives per day – sunrise (5:30-9am) and sunset (3:30- ‘til late) and on both occasions we saw wildlife which I’ll never forget. Something which makes Shamwari incredibly special was their attention to detail; three hours in to our first drive (sunset) we pulled over to the side of a dirt track, and Richard jumped out of the vehicle. Not really knowing what was going on, we were incredibly surprised when the Shamwari bag of tricks was whipped out of the car – look at the treats we had!

     

    I’m not sure I could drink a Vodka and Coke again and ever be satisfied – talk about a drink with a view! After taking half an hour out to have a natter, an ice cold slurp and some South African snacks (Biltong, which is everywhere!) we got back in the car ready to roll.

    Another lovely touch from Shamwari was the BBQ, which they host every other night at the Bayethe Lodge. After a quick pop back to the tent to freshen up we arrived back at the central lodge to see that we’d all be eating dinner together, on a table of seven. It was amazing hearing about our safari buddy’s past adventures (seeing a puma in the Amazon? Corr blimey!) and Richard’s experiences as a safari ranger. Two hours flew by and by the time it hit 10pm and we knew we had to hit the hay, but it was the last thing we wanted to do. Our sunrise safari was going to get us up at 5am for the wake up call but we were too excited to sleep after the day we’d had!

    Thoughts?

    The 24 hours we spent at Shamwari was among the best I’ve ever had – and that was all due to the care and attention of the staff and fantastic attention to detail at the reserve. Richard proved to be a fantastic host/ranger, the food was amazing, the staff – polite and friendly and staying in our tent with all the sounds of the reserve around us was bloody brilliant. I loved safari life from the start to the end, and experiencing the Shamwari slice of luxury on top made it extra special.

    In short: Head here. Now. Prepare to be amazed!

    Posted on: 19th January 2014 - 1 noteReblog

  5. Tuesday, December 31, 2013

    Travel, 2013 styley
2013, I’ve loved you. And I’ve hated you. I’ve also wanted to sucker punch you.
But as a whole –you’ve been bloody brilliant.
Unlucky number 13? Pffft. 2013 has seen me travel further around the world than I ever thought possible with a full time job (high five!). It’s shown me around Asia and Africa, gathering up a host of passport stamps (life’s basically complete now), and taken me to some incredible places that I’ll never forget. It’s also kicked me in the teeth a couple of times, seriously made me consider jacking in something incredibly dear to me and made me feel a little bit unlucky- but I’m a firm believer in that you only ever know how good the good is, when you’ve experienced the bad. What’s the rough without the smooth, right?
I’m sure travel fans around the world would vouch for me in saying that ‘getting your nomad on’ is a great healer. Going through a shit time? Countdown to your next adventure. Reminisce about your last. Daydream about where you want to be this time, next year.

Loving life at Cape Point, South Africa.
Either way, my adventures in 2013 have made this year one of my best yet. Why?
I’ve travelled to nine countries in 2013, six of which were completely new.
I’ve spent over one and a half months away this year.
I can now officially say I’ve stepped foot in Asia and Africa. Trust me, that felt good- my converse can rest in peace now.
The Bests
Best meal: I’m going to cheat, as I’ve got two (rules are made to be broken, #fact). The lamb tagine we had in Morocco was outofthisworld, but La Petit Ferme in Franschhoek was incredible. I’ve learnt that sitting down for a meal isn’t just about the food: the views, atmosphere, smells, service and experience are just as important.
Best deal: 3 nights at the Atlantis in an upgraded room, half board AND Emirates flights – £629. Bargain!

Atlantis The Palm, we love you!
Best mood: Whenever I’m away, and not jet lagged. Obv.
Best food: As a country – South Africa. Didn’t have one bad meal over there!

The fillet steak at La Petit Ferme, Franschhoek. Winning!
Best drink: One shot latte, Starbucks in Tokyo (they use full fat milk! It’s a miracle!) or the iced coffee at Le Petit Ferme. I’m the president of the coffee fan club.
Best think: Sitting on a beautiful beach, watching the sun go down in Borneo – cocktail in tow.

Best thrill: The abseil down Table Mountain, aka- Mr Rocky Horror himself. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, and completed on Boxing Day ’13. More on this to come!
 Best spill: Slipping down the Leap of Faith at Aquaventure, Atlantis! 2 seconds of my life I’ll never get back – #noregrets

Best flight: Back from Cape Town, last weekend. British Airways, 1A baby!
Best sight:  Being within 2m of an orangutan in Borneo, and a leopard in South Africa.

Captured for Instagram, obviously.
Best smell: The spices in Marrakech, in the souks.
Best dwell: Shamwari’s Bayethe Lodge, Atlantis the Palm, Cape Grace and Shangri La’s Rasa Ria. Yes, I’m a very lucky girl!

Our amazing tent at Shamwari. (Photobomb: calves)
And 2014?
New Years Day marks the 100 day countdown for the big trip to Australia. Sydney, Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, Adelaide and the Whitsundays (and can’t forget Hong Kong and Macau) await!
2013, it’s been good knowing you. Here’s to an even bigger and better 2014!
Laura x

    Travel, 2013 styley

    2013, I’ve loved you. And I’ve hated you. I’ve also wanted to sucker punch you.

    But as a whole –you’ve been bloody brilliant.

    Unlucky number 13? Pffft. 2013 has seen me travel further around the world than I ever thought possible with a full time job (high five!). It’s shown me around Asia and Africa, gathering up a host of passport stamps (life’s basically complete now), and taken me to some incredible places that I’ll never forget. It’s also kicked me in the teeth a couple of times, seriously made me consider jacking in something incredibly dear to me and made me feel a little bit unlucky- but I’m a firm believer in that you only ever know how good the good is, when you’ve experienced the bad. What’s the rough without the smooth, right?

    I’m sure travel fans around the world would vouch for me in saying that ‘getting your nomad on’ is a great healer. Going through a shit time? Countdown to your next adventure. Reminisce about your last. Daydream about where you want to be this time, next year.

    Loving life at Cape Point, South Africa.

    Either way, my adventures in 2013 have made this year one of my best yet. Why?

    I’ve travelled to nine countries in 2013, six of which were completely new.

    I’ve spent over one and a half months away this year.

    I can now officially say I’ve stepped foot in Asia and Africa. Trust me, that felt good- my converse can rest in peace now.

    The Bests

    Best meal: I’m going to cheat, as I’ve got two (rules are made to be broken, #fact). The lamb tagine we had in Morocco was outofthisworld, but La Petit Ferme in Franschhoek was incredible. I’ve learnt that sitting down for a meal isn’t just about the food: the views, atmosphere, smells, service and experience are just as important.

    Best deal: 3 nights at the Atlantis in an upgraded room, half board AND Emirates flights – £629. Bargain!

    Atlantis The Palm, we love you!

    Best mood: Whenever I’m away, and not jet lagged. Obv.

    Best food: As a country – South Africa. Didn’t have one bad meal over there!

    The fillet steak at La Petit Ferme, Franschhoek. Winning!

    Best drink: One shot latte, Starbucks in Tokyo (they use full fat milk! It’s a miracle!) or the iced coffee at Le Petit Ferme. I’m the president of the coffee fan club.

    Best think: Sitting on a beautiful beach, watching the sun go down in Borneo – cocktail in tow.

    Best thrill: The abseil down Table Mountain, aka- Mr Rocky Horror himself. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, and completed on Boxing Day ’13. More on this to come!

     Best spill: Slipping down the Leap of Faith at Aquaventure, Atlantis! 2 seconds of my life I’ll never get back – #noregrets

    Best flight: Back from Cape Town, last weekend. British Airways, 1A baby!

    Best sight:  Being within 2m of an orangutan in Borneo, and a leopard in South Africa.

    Captured for Instagram, obviously.

    Best smell: The spices in Marrakech, in the souks.

    Best dwell: Shamwari’s Bayethe Lodge, Atlantis the Palm, Cape Grace and Shangri La’s Rasa Ria. Yes, I’m a very lucky girl!

    Our amazing tent at Shamwari. (Photobomb: calves)

    And 2014?

    New Years Day marks the 100 day countdown for the big trip to Australia. Sydney, Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, Adelaide and the Whitsundays (and can’t forget Hong Kong and Macau) await!

    2013, it’s been good knowing you. Here’s to an even bigger and better 2014!

    Laura x

    Posted on: 31st December 2013 - 0 notesReblog

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    Follow the adventures of Laura, a British twenty three year old, as she explores the world and its beauty- piece by piece.

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