Travel Tips

1. If organization is not your strong point, be sure to write a list of all the items you need to take with you. That way you’re guaranteed to remember to bring important everyday items such as hats, sunglasses, underwear and a toothbrush (they’re easy to forget).

Suitcase handle2. Buy a suitcase in an unusual colour to set it apart from the pack. If you already own a suitcase in a common colour (black, blue or red), tie a piece of bright, patterned or unusually coloured ribbon to the handle. It’ll make it easier to spot your bag on the luggage carousel.

3. If you’re travelling with a spouse, partner or friend, don’t try to cram both of your belongings into one bag. You may think you’re being clever and “saving space”, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra for each of you to check in or each take a bag on the plane and the additional space in your luggage can be used to take gifts (if you’re visiting friends or family) or to bring back souvenirs. There’s also less chance of your clothing being creased and you don’t have to worry about your bag weighing over the recommended weight on the flight back home.  Plus, if you have to live out of your suitcase for a few weeks, it’ll make it easier for you to access all your belongings when you have a little extra suitcase space to play with.

4. When packing, pick one basic colour and build your holiday wardrobe around it. This will give you plenty of mix-and-match options and outfits to choose from.

5. Always pack a pair of sneakers. There may be a museum, park or other sightseeing destination that you may want to visit and will need to do some walking.

6. Pack shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits and not just one. Once you’ve selected the shoes you’ll be taking with you, wear the bulkiest pair on the plane to save you luggage space.

7. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them is a much more economical use of the space in your luggage. Rolling your clothes can lead to far fewer wrinkles, especially in delicate fabrics like silk, linen and chiffon.

8. Wrap shoes in a plastic bag before packing them into your suitcase. They may not be dirty now, but you never know what they’ll look like once you’ve worn them and it will save your clothes from becoming dirty, especially if you’re travelling to multiple places on your holiday.

9. Pack a sarong. This simple piece of cotton fabric that can have multiple uses: a picnic blanket, a fast drying towel, a travel pillow, tied into a bag for carrying things, can be used for sun protection, as well as being a great beach accessory! This lightweight item is so versatile that it would be stupid not to pack it.

10. Take a few various sized clear Ziploc plastic bags with you. You can use them to store make-up or bottles of liquids that may leak, for keeping your dirty clothes separate, storing souvenirs and just generally keeping your bag neatly organized.

11. Be sure to weigh all your baggage before arriving at the airport, airlines love to charge for any bags that weigh over the recommended limit. It’s not worth the extra charge!

12. Use a soft bag or even a duffel as a carry-on luggage. You’ll be less likely to have it gate-checked because it can more easily squeezed into the overhead bins.

13. Keep lip balm into your hand luggage, preferably one with some SPF protection. You’ll need it to keep your lips hydrated on those air-conditioned, long haul flights and to provide some sun protection while you’re on holiday.

14. Use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer as well. Because you’re exposed to so many germs while travelling, keep a small bottle in your hand luggage to kill germs without drying out your skin.

15. Pack a spare pair of underwear and a change of clothes in your carry-on just in case your luggage goes missing. That way you won’t be completely stuck without all your belongings for a couple of days.

Passports16. Double-check the foreign documents you’ll need to travel with. Some countries require a visa for entry. Others, like South Africa, won’t allow entrance unless a traveler’s passport contains at least two blank, unstamped pages.

17. If you are traveling out of the country take a copy of your passport. You’ll probably never need it, but if you lose your passport, having a copy greatly expedites the process of getting a new one. A scanned copy that you e-mail to yourself works fine.

18. Learn the three-letter airport code for your final destination and make sure that your bag gets labeled properly when you’re checking it in. The codes aren’t always obvious abbreviations, so check the list at https://www.world-airport-codes.com

19. If possible, pay for your checked bags online. It’s often cheaper than at the airport.

20. Avoid wearing layered jewelry and boots or shoes with lots of buckles while you’re travelling through airports. If possible, wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off at security checkpoints.

21. If you’re travelling without children, never join the airport security line with kids in it. Go for the one with business travelers dressed in suits. It will move much quicker.

22. Long flights are dehydrating. Ask for water or fruit juice every chance you get and try to stay hydrated. Avoid drinking coffee or alcohol and only have minimal amounts of sugar until the flight is almost over.

23. Eat light meals offered on the plane, even if you don’t feel hungry. Eating small, light meals can help to prevent motion sickness.

24. To combat motion-sickness, take an anti-emetic an hour before you may need it and then every 6 hours while flying (driving or boating). If you’re not a fan of tablets, try using 1000mg of dried ginger root (available in most health food stores) before travelling and again four hours later, if necessary.

25. To help prevent jet lag, avoid doing the math to figure out what time it is back home. Immediately adjust your watch to the local time of your destination once you’re on the plane and plan your in-flight sleep so that you’re asleep while it’s nighttime at your destination and wake up when it’s morning there.

26. Avoid cramps or the possibility of suffering from DVT (a blood clot in your leg) during long flights by taking short walks every hour. While you’re seated, rotate your ankles, do seated calf raises and don’t cross your legs.

27. This one’s for the ladies. Use panty liners. This applies even if you’re no longer menstruating. Panty liners can easily be changed every 4 hours to keep you feeling fresh during a long-haul flight and it’ll save you from throwing away a perfectly decent pair of panties at the end of the flight.

28. If it is night when you arrive at your destination, do your best to sleep or at least rest. If it’s morning do everything you can to stay awake. If you find that you are totally exhausted, try to hold out for a short afternoon nap.

Toiletries29. If you’re staying in one destination for a while and are provided with cupboard or shelf space, unpack when you arrive and then have a look at what freebies have been provided in the bathroom before heading out to buy any necessary essentials.

30. Did you forget to pack a toothbrush or deodorant? Before rushing out to the nearest pharmacy, try calling reception at your hotel or B&B. Most places will have a supply of basic essentials.

31. If you are in a country where it is unsafe to drink the water, keep your mouth shut in the shower, use bottled water when brushing your teeth and order all your drinks without ice.

32. Look for restaurants that are busy and filled with local residents. If the locals eat there, it’s generally a sure sign that the food is good.

33. If you’re traveling on a budget, look for free activities around your hotel or B&B. Look though websites for listings of parades, festivals, fairs, art shows, outdoor movie screenings, parks, museums that don’t charge admission.

34. Sprinkling some baby powder on your feet and legs will allow you to instantly brush off any sand that may be stuck to you.

35. Read your hotel bill carefully. If there’s something on it you don’t recognize, talk to a manager. Once you leave the hotel, fixing your bill gets much harder.

36. Finally, travel with an open mind. You’ll discover a lot more that way.

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Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park is now the third largest national park in South Africa. It stretches from the semi-arid Karoo (in the north) around Darlington Dam, over the rugged Zuurberg Mountains, through the Sundays River Valley and south to the coast between the Sundays River mouth and Bushman’s River mouth. In total, Addo covers about 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres) and includes the Bird and St Croix Island groups.

Apparently, the park receives about 120,000 visitors annually, with International tourists making up almost half of this number. The main entrances as well as two looped tourist roads in the park are tarred, while all other roads are graveled.

Addo Elephant National Park

The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area. Today this is a sanctuary to over 600 elephant, lion, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra species, as well as the unique and almost exclusive flightless Addo dung beetle.

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Dung beetle

Dung beetle

The park exclusively claims to be the only national park in the world to conserve the “Big 7” which is classed as the “Big 5” (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros) as well as the Southern Right Whale and Great White Shark (which are in the coastal section of the park, off the Algoa Bay coast).

We began our day trip through Addo Elephant Park by starting Addo Main Camp and drove down through the park, meandering along some of the side road loops, until we finally exited through the Matyholweni Entrance Gate a few hours later.

Driving through the bush in Addo Elephant Park

Driving through the bush in Addo Elephant Park

We saw plenty of warthog, eland, kudu and red hartebeest before finally spotting our first herd of elephant. We were worried that we’d driven all this way to an elephant park and weren’t going to get to see a single Ellie! Our first sighting was of quite a large herd of elephant and after that we saw many more, either on their own or in smaller groups.

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Elephant

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Kudu female

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Warthog

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Kudu

I was lucky enough to capture quite a tender moment on camera; that of a baby elephant drinking from its mother. The baby ellie didn’t drink for very long but I just happened to have my camera ready and snapped the shot moments before they parted.

Baby elephant feeding

Baby elephant feeding

Shortly after this, the car in front of us stopped to take photos of a large elephant bull grazing right on the side of the road. We’d spotted this particular (tour guide) vehicle a little while before when they’d stopped on the side of the road and the passenger had climbed out. This is prohibited in the park, with the exception of designated spots, and this rule is in place for a reason … there are lions in the park as well as all the other wild animals. These animals are wild and the rules are there for our own protection. If you do climb out of your car and get mauled by a wild animal, please don’t blame it on the animal. You were in the wrong and they’re just doing what they naturally do, in their own habitat. It’s not their fault, it’s yours! Sorry, rant over, it just irks me when people do stupid things and expect the animal to be put down.
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Anyway, this guy sat in the car right next to this bull (on the opposite side of the dirt road) and took hundreds of photos. We waited for a good five minutes while he was busy, as we didn’t want to drive between him and the elephant. Eventually the bull started to get aggravated and walked towards the car, so they accelerated and drove off, not worrying about all the other vehicles behind them and the problem that they’d now created.

Unfortunately, we were directly behind them and became the next ‘target’ in the elephant’s line of sight. We put our vehicle into reverse (so did the car behind us), made sure our seatbelts were secure and secured any loose items in the car, just in case.
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As the elephant came closer, so we reversed, constantly keeping a respectful distance (about 100m) between the elephant and us. We stopped and he kept coming, so we reversed again (and so did the car behind us). This happened three times before the elephant finally tired of this game and sauntered off into the bush on the side of the road to carry on grazing.

If you do pull over to take photos of animals, please be courteous to those around you as well. Try not to aggravate an animal and then drive off making it someone else’s problem to deal with. Thankfully there were two other cars behind us, so that if something had gone wrong, there would have been someone in the area to assist or make emergency phone calls.

Cape Turtledove

Cape Turtledove

Eventually, after a few hours, it got to a point where seeing elephant became “it’s just another elephant” or “just another warthog”. But we also saw a few Burchell’s zebra, a buffalo, a Bokmaklerie (which flew off before I could photograph it!), a few black-headed heron, an ostrich and a Puff Adder.

Burchell's Zebra

Burchell’s Zebra

Buffalo

Buffalo

Heron

Heron

Ostrich

Ostrich

Puff Adder

Puff Adder

Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to see any rhino, leopard or lion but did spot a black-backed jackal on our way out of the park and were treated to a beautiful South African sunset while driving back to Jeffrey’s Bay.
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Jeffrey’s Bay

Situated about an hour’s drive South-West of Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape, lies the not-so-little town of Jeffreys Bay (also known as J-Bay or Jeffreysbaai (in Afrikaans)). Expect to hear a lot of Afrikaans being spoken while you’re here, as well as a smattering of Xhosa and English, as these are the three most common languages.

Jeffrey’s Bay is one of those “need-to-see” places and has one of the best waves in the world, which is why it’s often listed as one of the top surfing destinations! To get to Jeffrey’s Bay you can either fly to Port Elizabeth, drive the mellow scenic Garden Route from Cape Town (just over 7 hours) or do what we did and experience driving through the Eastern Cape all the way from Durban (a long 11 hour trip).

IMG_5773The break at Jeffrey’s Bay is divided up into eight sections: At the top of the point Kitchen Windows and Magna tubes, then comes Boneyards (the precursor to Supertubes), Supertubes (a perfect, long, barreling righthander), Impossibles (the end section of Supertubes), Tubes (a short, barreling section which leads into Point), Point and finally Albatross.

Supertubes is regarded as the best part of the wave and May to September see Supers performing at its best. On a perfect day, this crowded yet ridiculously long right-hand point break (with its sandy and rocky bottom) delivers world-class rides and a six-foot southwest swell.

Derek Hynd

Derek Hynd

From what I’ve heard, it’s the goal of many surfers to make a wave from Boneyards all the way down to Point; a surf that measures just over one kilometer long. Apparently, it has been done before!

If you’re lucky enough, you may even get a chance to surf with dolphins!

Clement surfing with dolphins

Clement surfing with dolphins

There’s plenty of accommodation near the beach to chose from and we decided to stay in a self-catering guesthouse called Beach Music and the splurb on their website says it all “Situated directly on the beach at the world famous wave “Supertubes”, you really don’t get much closer to the beach than Beach Music. Beach Music offers you a comfortable, laid back atmosphere allowing you to completely unwind and enjoy the tranquility of the beautiful surroundings.”

Beach Music has 5 rooms, a penthouse, a studio and an apartment to rent, with a communal / shared Guest Area which includes the kitchen, lounge and dining area as well as the deck overlooking the ocean (including outdoor barbecue facilities).

If there was one thing I could change about the room/s that we rented for the week that we were at Beach Music, it would be to have a small bar fridge in each of the rooms. It was a bit of a pain having to go upstairs at night to fetch milk for tea or coffee if we’d run out of the little long-life milk sachets that were provided in our rooms. It also meant that all alcohol had to be stored upstairs in the communal fridges and if we wanted to have sundowners on the ‘private’ deck outside our room, one of us had to trek upstairs to fetch it.

Another thing that I did notice was that even though everyone stored their groceries on separate shelves in the kitchen and shared the communal fridges for cold stuff, there were certain people (cleaning staff included) who went digging through other guest’s groceries and helped themselves. This is not cool. It’s called self-catering for a reason, if you didn’t buy it, don’t eat it!  The exception may be something that one guest has specially bought to share with others and has made this public knowledge. If you are going to stay at Beach Music, only store stuff you don’t mind going missing in the communal kitchen, otherwise stash it in your room.

There are plenty of local restuarants and coffee shops along Da Gama Road (the main road that runs through Jeffrey’s Bay) and as the Spar Shopping Centre was within walking distance from Beach Music, we ate at Nina’s a few times during our stay.

Nina’s (Real Food) Restaurant has a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and a menu with a wide variety of food on it; everything from burgers and pizza to calamari, curry, ribs and more! And, they serve craft beer too.

If the surf does happen go flat for a day or two, there’s plenty to see and do in and around Jeffery’s Bay. We chose to take a day-trip down to St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis, where you’ll find Bruce’s and Seal Point.

Bruce's

Seal Point is a great spot to do a bit of whale watching from, although this whale was quite far out.

Breaching whale

Breaching whale

Another option, although it’s about an hour and a half’s drive, is a day-trip to Addo Elephant National Park, the third largest national park in South Africa.

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To read more about the history of Jeffrey’s Bay, visit http://www.jeffreysbaytourism.org/history

Hole-in-the-Wall

Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall

White Clay Bed & Breakfast and Restaurant is located between Coffee Bay and Hole-in-the-Wall. While driving around exploring the area, we stopped there to have lunch, only to be informed that they were closed as the owners were away and would only be back in a few days.  A little disheartened, we continued on our way, as we’d been told that Raptor’s View was also a very nice spot… we only saw one signboard outside White Clay which pointed the in the direction for Raptor’s View and we ended up at Hole-in-the-Wall when we couldn’t find the way.

Lunch at the Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant was nice and relaxed, with laid back outside seating and after our meal, we took a walk down to see the Hole-in-the-Wall.

The very steep grassy slope on the side of “Queen’s Rock” made quite an exhausting climb and we didn’t make it to the top.  Instead, we chose to rather to go around the middle and explore the steep gorge in Queen’s Rock.  If you climb down the rocks into the gorge and stand at the bottom watching the waves break over the large boulders, the sound is so loud that it’s almost like a bomb going off!  The view from the top of the gorge out over the bay in front of Hole-in-the-Wall was spectacular.

Queen's Rock gorge

Queen’s Rock gorge

View of the bay in front of Hole-in-the-Wall

View of the bay in front of Hole-in-the-Wall

On the way back to the hotel we kept out eyes open for signs to Raptor’s View, in case we’d missed them earlier, but didn’t see any and pulled over on the lookout cliffs again, to see if we could spot any whales … still nothing.  Coincidentally, when we got back to Coffee Bay Hotel, the barmaid happened to mention that she said she was heading over to Raptor’s View later that afternoon and asked if we’d been there yet. We mentioned the lack of signboards and that we couldn’t find the place and it turns out that the signboards have been taken down to be repainted!  Just our luck.  So, we followed her over there in the afternoon for a few drinks and the place is perfectly named … What a view!  The photos really don’t do it any justice.

The deck at “Raptor's View”

The deck at “Raptor’s View”

There are numerous Bed & Breakfasts, hotels and restaurants in the area surrounding Coffee Bay and Hole-in-the-Wall, where various meals or sundowners can be had. Most of them welcome walk-ins for both meals or drinks.  Where you go and what you do in this beautiful part of South Africa is totally up to your own imagination.

Coffee in Coffee Bay?

Coffee Bay

Coffee Bay

It is said that Coffee Bay was named after a ship that lost its cargo of coffee beans in a wreck off the Wild Coast and that the beans apparently washed up on shore.  The trees (if they ever grew or even existed) are no longer around but the name seems to have stuck.

The sheer cliffs in this area are absolutely magnificent and in places they drop straight down from dizzying heights into the dark, plunging sea below.  The bay provides a pretty sheltered area where swimming and surfing take place, but keep an eye out for sharks as there are no shark nets around.   Crossing the lagoon can be a little tricky as the bottom is full of boulders and large pebbles but once you’re across, the grassy slopes of Sugarloaf hill provide a comfortable spot to relax with panoramic views of both the bay and lagoon.