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Author: Tammy Dennis

Impala lily (Adenium multiflorum) – Full of drama in every way

In the past the impala lily was as common as the impala, this has changed over time becoming very rare and highly sought after by humans. Animals tend to stay away from impala lilies due to its high toxic nature and those who can eat it will only do in small amounts. Found in Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Kwazulu Natal, their distribution is shrinking and is only commonly found in protected parks where poaching is illegal. Rhino poaching is very well known across the world and people are putting tons of…

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Mauritius – A tropical stop when in Africa

If you want to travel and visit tropical islands most people think of Hawaii, Jamaica, Tahiti, Seychelles and other similar places. Africa is often seen as a sunny destination but one where nature runs wild and the famous safari takes place, but there is much more than this. Off the East coast of Africa opposite Mozambique and a little further past Madagascar lies a tropical gem called Mauritius. If you are from Southern Africa, it’s a quick flight to Mauritius. A tropical island filled with sand, sun and endless cocktails. From Europe the trip is a little lengthy, if you…

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Gin and Tonic – Not just a drink

Though not my drink of choice by far, today G&T’s are coming back in fashion with Gin bars popping up everywhere with many flavours and twists. 19th century there were many movements travelling from England to India and later Africa, for many reasons including spice trade, slavery and new work prospects. This brought on many new aspects, one being the reason for G&T’s. Moving to the tropics bring on many basic changes, new weather temperatures, diseases and wildlife. One being the mosquito, there are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes, but only one species of mosquito, the genus Anophelese, carries the…

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Yummy traditional foods – Malva pudding

With South Africa having very strong British history, some of our meals are based on British foods, often with a few extra twists over the years, making it not quite the same but with traces of the original. Malva pudding is one of these, it resembles a sticky toffee pudding with a few added ingredients that you could never have imagined. Some claim Malva pudding is from the Dutch, which is possible as South Africa has many different cultures, taking on a mix of them all. The well-known English sticky toffee pudding was originally made with dates and a rich…

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Guide books for South Africa

South Africa is an amazing country that is very diverse, appealing to so many different people with all the possible hobbies from sunbathing nude on beaches to skiing, there is definitely a full range of activities to experience. Coming from South Africa I have been spoilt with endless opportunities and experiences. Being able to explore Europe for the last few years I have had the opportunity to see how lucky I truly am to live in an amazing country. Even if there are unstable times, all countries seem to be having their own difficulties at the moment. England is rich…

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Natural Air conditioning

The first modern air-conditioner developed in 1902 allows us to have cooler summers, today we are spoilt with air-conditioning in our cars, shops and maybe in our own homes. Not many people can imagine how to survive in a hot country before 1902, using wet sheets, fans and sleeping closer to the ground. But how do animals in the wild cope with no luxuries? Sweating is a very simple way of keeping cool and done by most living animals with a few exceptions, other common ways include panting, lying in water and resting in shade. There are some animals with…

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Franschhoek motor museum – Over 100 years of motor history…

Transport has been an everyday necessity from the time we started to walk. Traveling by foot from Europe to South Africa would be almost impossible until other means of transport were developed. From the early ages of domesticating horses, camels and building of boats as far back as 4000 BC, the first record of the wheel being 3500 BC, no one could have foreseen what was to come.   In the 19th century steam reinvented the wheel as we knew it, from using manual energy to active motion of air and water. Steam was old news but new in making…

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For the twitchers – Blue crane (Grus paradisea)

An elegant species of bird, with pale blue-grey plumage becoming lighter at the forehead and darker at the wing tips. The wings resembling almost black plumage, are often mistaken for long tail feathers but on the contrary the tail feathers are very short. They are equipped with long legs, allowing them to move gracefully through grassland and wade through water. Their distribution is not very wide, with the main population staying within South Africa and a small population living in Namibia. They do not migrate long distances and have seasonal movements that occur within South Africa. Frequently seen in grassland…

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Wildlife treat – Black-Backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas)

Resembling man’s best friend, jackals are part of the canid family, the same as our domesticated dogs. They are not very large, weighing in around 5 – 15 kg, with the height of 35 – 50 cm tall and a distinctive walking trot when getting around. The name black-backed jackal is a great description of how it looks, an overall rusty light brown coat with a black saddle on its back, with intermixed silver hair. The lips, throat, chest and inner limbs are white with a black tipped tail. In Africa there are two separate subspecies; Cape Jackal (Canis mesomelas…

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Giraffe house – Awareness center

The giraffe house is a new establishment that has only been around for a few years, improving leaps and bounds from the muddy, rustic areas where some antelope used to roam and the famous Gerry the giraffe lives. I remember watching him when he was still very young being bottle fed by his keepers when it first opened. Today the giraffe house is aimed at being an educative center where more is learnt about South African wildlife, with the occasional non-native creatures. Some of the animals have been rescued from the pet trade or were abandoned. With scheduled encounters about…

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Camping basics, for the first timers or if you’r a little rusty…

So, you’re going camping for the first time, all excited and it’s time to pack. Depending on how you want to camp you can turn it into glamping or you can do the bare minimum. I think we will discuss the more minimal side, with added options if needed. First thing you will need is a tent, if you’re not in a tent it’s not really camping. There are many available, from multi roomed tents to a single man tent where you can just squeeze in, most go for a comfortable two-man tent, remember to pack in the rain cover…

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Panama Jacks, a restaurant that’s all about seafood

My dad used to work as an engineer doing the odd call out jobs to the harbour in Cape Town, this was not a new area as he used to work on the dredging ships before this. During this time, he found a small hidden gem called Panama Jacks, it’s not in the busy harbour where all the hustle and bustle happens but rather in the more industrial part where you have to go through customs security, which is unique when going out for a meal. We didn’t go all too often as it was rather an expensive outing, therefore…

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Garden route game lodge in the heart of the garden route

Based in the heart of the garden route in Albertinia and less than 4 hours drive from Cape Town, this is a wildlife dream close to Cape Town. It has beautiful views of the big 5 and the Langeberg mountain range. With it being in a malaria free area, it opens its doors to many people who don’t want to take pills as a precaution that can cause many side effects for some people. With South Africa being proud about our diversity of nature and wildlife, Garden Route Game lodge is one of many places, but what makes it different to…

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Wildlife treat – Caracal (Caracal caracal)

There are many people who don’t know what a caracal is, but when you mention lynx often you will get the response “oh yes, the cat with the fluffy ears”. Well, that is correct, though the lynx is more American and Eurasian and a separate species from the caracal that lives in Africa and Asia. The name caracal is derived from the Turkish words Kara and Kulak meaning black ear.  They have remarkable features, especially when they are younger. With a beautiful rustic red coat and black outlined facial features highlighted with white shades and iconic black tufted ears, they…

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Butterfly world and a whole lot extra

On the occasion the weather isn’t playing ball it can be rather frustrating to think of things to do that are not out in the elements, we are usually so spoilt for choice outside. However, there are a few options, if your in the right area, one is Butterfly world. It is more aimed at children and young adults, though it is just as exciting for adults too if you have any interest in wildlife. Butterfly world is the largest of its type in South Africa, opening its doors in 1996. I can’t remember the first time I visited, but…

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Stick insects, a name so simple

Sometimes names are tricky, I remember being at school in Afrikaans class and a question came up asking about “stokperdjies”. Being mainly English,  I directly translated it to, stok = stick, perd = horse and jies is the plural form. I wrote down stick horses as my answer, and I was very proud to have figured it out. Some days later it was brought up in class when reading our answers out loud that I was very wrong and I was the laugh of the class. When the teacher read out mine she said oh dear, but stokperdjies are hobbies.…

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Dusties (Dusty rebels and the bombshells) step back into the 1940’s and 1950’s

This is a rather new festival starting in 2013 and one with so much promise. It is based on the 40’s/50’s bringing a lovely flair to a day out with a funfair, music, modelling, dancing, cars and food all being from this era, almost making you believe you are in a different world. I joined the festival in 2015, and went back 2016 and 2017, I’ve never disappointed, though in 2017 they were a lot smaller than before, and in a new location than previous years. The main location was set at the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch, there was so…

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Scotland trip (20.05 – 27.05.2018)

Scotland is known for its highlands, lochs and we can’t forget wet weather. To our surprise we had glorious sunshine our entire trip which was amazing. I had never been to Scotland and it had been on my list for a while. Though we only had a handful of days available, we crossed into Scotland and spent two fun packed days there. Day 1: We started the day off from Cheshire making our way to Carlisle, once we arrived we unpacked and settled in our room at the Pinegrove hotel, it was basic but rather quite lovely, with plenty of…

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Kragga Kamma – A little bit of peace between the hustle and bustle of a busy city

If you are from Port Elizabeth there is a reasonable game park only 20 minutes from the town center, it is still surrounded by residential houses and farms, though the place has been well laid out and nicely done, giving it a relaxing feeling with all the city benefits. The game park is open to day visitors with an entrance fee, though it is much nicer to stay over in the cabins or tents, with self-catering facilities. The accommodation is not fenced off to the animals and you have them roaming freely amongst the accommodation, with the predators in their…

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World of birds – A sanctuary for those in need

As the name suggested, it’s full of birds, with over 3,000 birds and over 400 species. The real name however is World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park, over the years it has been shortened to world of birds. Though it sounds like only birds, there is a whole lot more going on including many species of small mammals and reptiles. Many of these animals have been brought in by the public, confiscated or saved by other means. It is a short distance from Cape Town center, situated in Hout bay, you can spend the entire day here. With…

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For the twitchers – Blacksmith lapwing (Vanellus armatus)

A common bird around Southern Africa, with distinctive characteristics of bold black, white and grey plumage with striking red eyes and long legs. Often found in wetland areas, moist grassland or close to water, they have a diet of invertebrates. Feeding on dry land and wading through water for aquatic invertebrates, they also are known for eating parasites off crocodiles and entering their mouths in search for food, the crocodile does not feed on these birds as it is beneficial for the crocodile to have this cleaning service. With their habitat needing water, they are often nomadic and migratory moving…

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Walking with lions in Zimbabwe

Ever wanted to take a walk on the wild side, well this is the perfect activity. Walking with elephants is one thing, but to walk with something that might enjoy you for breakfast is another. Whilst there is huge debate about this activity, with it being dubbed one of the 10 cruelest activities of 2018. Some people can be quick to judge without knowing the full story of how or why places do what they do, and some companies might not show the full workings of what happens behind closed doors. Add social media, showing many different perspectives it can…

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Solifugae – Sun Spider or is it….

They are said to be spiders or scorpions in many of their common names, this is not true, but they are a part of the class Arachnida which includes, spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks. Though I would put them in the class of aliens, the myths and legends passed through thousands of years are interesting and sometimes out of proportion, adding to this alien type animals’ personality. They can become rather large, around the size of a hand (largest species grow up to 15cm long), with a bulky body, long hairy legs and very large chelicera (mouth parts) giving it a…

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Paarl – The spice route …

Today we make food and are spoilt for choice when it comes to seasoning to give it that extra flavour, it seems hard to think even the most basic of items like salt and pepper used to be worth so much, even just a small quantity could be as much as months of rent for a small flat. Beside the monetary value, the effort to move and gather these spices from faraway lands were a feat in themselves, using wooden ships through storms, or on land with no tar roads or engine power makes this a marvellous story and leaves…

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Zimbabwe – Victoria falls, the smoke that thunders

There are many waterfalls in the world, taking long walks along rivers and streams to reach them is something I enjoy. They are always inspiring to see and give you a feeling of tranquillity with the sound of water flowing and crashing down, sadly some may only know this sound from spa treatments, nothing beats the real thing. This specific waterfall is not a part of a small stream, but rather earning its name ‘Moso-oa-Tunya’ from the indigenous Lozi language meaning the smoke that thunders. The name came about from the deafening sound of water falling great lengths, this has been…

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Wildlife treat – Aardwolf (Proteles cristata)

Another strange creature of the night, not well known to many people the name directly translated in English is an ‘earth-wolf’. They are rare to see and although they widely distributed, occasionally seen roaming wildly in farmlands and conservation areas. Few people, who know what they are looking at, might get very excited to see one, but others may just think they are looking at a very strange dog. They look like a slender, small to medium size dogs and rather delicate with a shy temperament. Staying away from high activity area or running off at the sight of movement…

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Namibia – Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon…

  I have travelled quite a bit over the years, and I am yet to find a place that is anything like Namibia. With its very boring first look of orange landscape and sand with a few odd trees, if you are lucky enough a blue ocean too. Though I struggle to believe how many incredible things there are too see in Namibia. I’m not sure if it’s because i had no expectations about Namibia, just like watching a movie you heard that was rubbish, and watching it exceeds all expectations. Namibia has been the same for me, with so much…

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Twitchers – Gymnogene (Polyboroides typus)

Though the name has changed to African Harrier Hawk, I still prefer calling it a gymnogene (gym-no-gene), it’s an original and unusual name compared to the new one and rolls off the tongue. I have not seen many in the wild but still rank in the top 5 of birds I have seen. It is a rather plain bird with light  grey plumage, black tipped wings, barring on the abdomen and thighs and yellow legs and face. The beautiful part is during breeding season or excitement the face flushes red, this is where their name gymnogene comes into it, as this…

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South African Christmas, how does it differ to UK

Living many years in South Africa and spending the festive season the last few years in the UK I have had the privilege to experience best of both worlds, though they are the same in most respects being based on a religious holiday, presents, food, friends and family. There are still many things are very different too. It is hard to say that SA and UK Christmas are not the same, as every family can celebrate it in their own way and there are no rules for how it should be done. In days leading up to Christmas it is…

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Packing cubes – something so simple can be so useful…

Ever gone on a trip and scratch threw your bags and just upsets your whole suitcase and makes everything a mess, well recently I have discovered packing cubes. Packing cubes are material squares with a zip, handle and ra nging from small to large sizes. They can come in all sorts of different colours, styles and sometimes even specialised shapes for more particular items. This could be particularly helpful having first aid in red cube; shower could be blue cube and so on. I found they are more particularly helpful in a backpack styled travel bag, as most items need to…

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