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The Travellers choice

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Travellers Choice

July is a month for Living and Giving

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Its warm (sic) in July and we spent time in Mozambique, Ibiza and Johannesburg. The weather has been anything but warm and hopefully its going to be a warm night for the CEO Sleepout on the Nelson Mandela Bridge later this month.

Stand a chance to win one of 4 double tickets to the 2016 Good Food & Wine Show Johannesburg! Name one of the chefs who will be at the Good Food & Wine Show Johannesburg and you could be a lucky winner. Visit the website on http://joburg.goodfoodandwineshow.co.za/ for a hint.

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Its been a great month for adventure domination and from the warm beaches of Mozambique to the rocking island of Ibiza. SA Commuter has been travelling all over!   We caught our breath in Mozambique at the warm waters of Mango Beach Lodge in Tofo and as it was my birthday month we made a journey of it to go and see just what the attraction was in this beautiful destination. It was full of adventure as well as unspoilt beaches! Check out our video and enjoy the journey with us.  It was a wonderful way to enjoy my birthday and I certainly would recommend it to anyone! Take your friends and family and vanish to Mozambique. Great roads, amazing adventures and superb accommodation. Never mind the beach bars!  And the food is just super delicious.

Nat-FB-AD_1200px-X900pxFor those who stayed home…check out the 4D Drone Video of Cape Town. Its awesome.  And Nathaniel is coming back to Emporer’s Palace. Emporer’s Palace is a great venue for this type of event as there is much to see and do after and before the show for the whole family.  New additions we covered a few months ago include more rooms, more space for a craft beer area and loads more entertainment. Some of the upcoming shows include Nathaniel who for me, always puts on a memorable show. He seems to weave a web of past and present using both English and Afrikaans and between the music and narrative, its a show you cannot miss and we look forward to a review on this current offering.

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Our intrepid journalists were keen to visit Ibiza as the ultimate Matric party venue.  We cover the story of their stay and all the wonderful DJ events they attended including the Pool Party at Emerald Island Resort.  For those matrics who are fortunate enough to swap Umhlanga for Ibiza we highly recommend it.  Follow the story of Natalie, Matthew and Nuno who went to Ibiza to experience the Ibiza Experience Party.  Ibiza is an island just off Spain and an hour’s flight from Barcelona.

OPPI Main graphic_FINAL2While on the Party front lets not forget its almost Oppikoppi time of the year again. Starting on the 5 August (and don’t forget to VOTE before heading off to party) its theme is For the lovely young taken to the THE UNSEA and its a great lineup including KONGO and August Burns Red (US).  So you can’t miss it. Read all about the party, the fun, the accommodation (and the dust) on our Oppikoppi Page!

The first ever band weekend at the OppiKoppi farm took place in May 1994 – 23 years ago! This makes the 2016 edition the 22nd main August festival episode (There were also several smaller supremely inelegant weekend events). Having started in the small bar to around four hundred people with Valiant and Koos, no one realised that this was just the tip of the icebox.

OppiKoppi now hosts 7 fixed stages (and a few roving pieces of craziness), roughly 160 sets of music and entertainment, 20 000 rabid fans and more bed nights in the hotels than all of Sun City. (Trust in the tunes, they said. And it worked).

Shows this month started with Shrek at the Lyric through to Dora the Explora at Emporers Palace.  Shrek the Musical was a great show with a standup board as you entered the theatre where we had loads of fun with photos.  Our box of goodies included a Shrek cake and green gingerbread man. The show was filled with laughs which we got from the various nursery rhyme and storybook characters of which the most memorable was Pinocchio whose nose grew at every “fib”.  I think Shrek might have been a bit more boorish but for the little ones he was quiet and gentle. My favourite was the Prince and walking throughout the entire show on his knees was quite amazing. Fiona was funny and sassy and played a great role.  I was amazed at the huge pink dragon!

IMG-20160707-WA0003Dora the Explora opening was crowded with hundreds of little ones waiting to get into the show to see their favourite characters from the TV series.  Amid loads of smoke and waves, the characters went through the show with quips and laughs to amuse them.  Their box of goodies contained a cake from Dora and that was a real highlight for the children.  The children joined Dora and her pals Boots and Diego on a voyage of discovery as they embarked on an exciting trip to Treasure Island in search of the ultimate pirate party. They were asked to help Dora navigate over the Dancing Mountain and through the Silly Singing Bridge in pursuit of the Pirate Piggies. Along the way, Dora the Explorer fans were asked to use their map-reading, counting, musical and language skills to successfully help Dora reach Treasure Island and avoid that pesky fox, Swiper!  It was incredibly interactive.

And this lineup doesn’t end as there is far more including the Terracotta soldiers at Silverstar Casino.  Which bring to mind the new offer at Silverstar’s new offer – @ Movies at 50% off on all cinemas as well as R300 for a Night out for 2.  So get that babysitter and enjoy the offer of bowling, movies, dinner, drinks and free play – Yup R300 for 2!

The list is endless!  Prime Stars launched their 2016 Educate program on Wednesday 13 July to educate matrics from disadvantaged schools in cinemas especially Maths and Science. They will also be launching Stepup to a Startup III which is an entrepreneurship program for mentors and learners from disadvantaged communities.  And on the subject of Socio Economic events, watch this space for the CEO Sleepout sponsored by Sun International.  250 CEO’s are going to spend the night on the Nelson Mandela Bridge in freezing conditions so that they can understand what its like to be homeless.

20160709_153705 (1)20160710_111831 (1) The 702 Discovery walk is also up this weekend and we will be following our Jack Russells along the route from Marks Park, along Barry Hertzog and back to the venue with no doubt two very tired doggies!  So watch this space for more details!

Lastly what did you do for your 67 minutes on Monday 18 July? Lets catch up next time with what you had planned and how many people gave time and money for this worthy cause!

Catch your breath and see you next time!

 

Review of the month

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The Beach doesn’t get better than this – Catch your breath!

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It was that time of the year, when in Johannesburg, we freeze at single digits; it was also my birthday in June and I like to celebrate in style. As June 16 is a public holiday we thought we should make a long weekend of it, so my husband, Keith, and I, took two days leave and together with some of the owners of Mango Beach, Christine and Graham Voget, left in the very early hours of Wednesday morning to journey up to Mozambique.  Misty conditions with 2 degrees on the dashboard, we huddled up in the car to keep warm as we drove towards Komatipoort, 5 hours from Johannesburg.  Our national roads are very well kept and the Toll Gates ensure a safe journey, so we made Alzu before sunrise.  A quick stop for coffee at the Mugg and Bean and it was back on our way to hopefully reach Inhambane before nightfall. Cresting the Schoemanskloof pass, the sun began to rise and the sky started changing, sunlight filled the dark skies and dawn was upon us.  We made Komatipoort at 7am and decided to stretch our legs and have a Wimpy breakfast. Sadly this turned into a disaster as the food was terrible. Unusual for Wimpy especially since it’s one of our favorite spots when travelling.

Having heard many horror stories about the Komatipoort boarder, and the harassment that ensues, we were pleasantly surprised that the border crossing was uneventful. The long stretch now lay ahead of us, 52 towns to go through on our way and varying speed limits from 40km per hour to 100km.  (Watch the speed limit changes as they happen, as you are likely to pay heavy fines if caught. They do not send out fines, they lie in wait for you and you will have to pay fines on the spot. Not a great way to start your holiday!

The sun was now starting to invite us to join it on the beach. We couldn’t wait! The excitement was noticeable and as we travelled, the stress from Johannesburg started to slowly melt away as the beautiful and rustic landscape of Mozambique unfolded before us. Palm trees and roadside markets, woodwork carvings and cashew nuts, fruit and basket weaves abound. At times we could see the sea and at other times it felt like we were in deepest darkest Africa.   The local rural Mozambican homes are really well kept and clean, and a pleasure to drive past.  The roads are in good condition for the most part and the new ring road around Maputo, when it’s finished, will reduce travelling time into the northern parts of the country. Onward to our destination of Tofo and Mango Beach

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Tofo is a quaint yet stunning eight kilometer stretch of sandy beach located on the southern coast of Mozambique, filled with beautiful grassy dunes, rolling surf and all year-round sunshine. Tofo abounds with activities, from the serious to the playful, Chartered Fishing, SCUBA diving courses (Some of the best diving in the world) to frolicking in the surf or sipping away at your favorite cocktail, eating Peri Peri prawns while watching the whales cavort in their playground! You can also sit back and enjoy an easy day relaxing on the beach, praying to the Sun gods. Tofo is a great destination all year round.  The summer months are from November to March, with temperatures during the day ranging between 30°C to 38°C during the day, with a humidity of around 80%. The rainy season usually starts in late December, January and February but these are mostly tropical showers that last only part of the day.  The winter months are from April to October, with temperatures ranging around 20-25°C. Evenings may become a little cooler, so you may want to bring something a little warmer than a costume

The sun was now starting to set as we drove into Inhambane, anxiously waiting to reach our destination of Mango Beach.  23km outside Inhambane, there lies the small town called Praia doTofo. And it’s right on the beach!  BEST PART IS YOU CAN FLY TO INHAMBANE, you don’t have to drive. We chose to drive, as we just love to enjoy the countryside and the local communities. See the links below.

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Another 3.4kilometers from the town entrance, along a winding beach sand road, we arrived at Mango Beach Tofo to the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach just over the dune. (Clearly it was high tide!)  Tired as we were, we ran up the wooden stairs that hug the sand dune to reach the Lodge Bar and Restaurant, located at the top of the dune. We were lucky to reach it before sunset.  What a magnificent site greeted us!  The most beautiful un-spoilt ocean lay stretched before us. No buildings or strobe lights, no Dubai style high-rise flats to destroy the natural beauty of our surrounds, just Mozambican beauty and beaches. Here we met the other four partners of the lodge, Steffan, Paula, Mark and Heather.

Our greeting was overwhelming and after the first customary Mozambican drink – R&R (for those uninitiated it’s Rum and Raspberry), we were treated to the best Barracuda fish and wedges south of the Equator.  Was it because we were so hungry or was it because it was that great? We would have the next few days to test and answer to that question.  The day s driving had tired us out and soon it was time for bed. What a gorgeous cabana.  We had enough space to put all our bags, winter clothes and other items such as electronic equipment that comes with being a travelling Nomad on line.  A King size bed with a Mozzie net and two single beds (which I am ashamed to say we used as extra cupboards) as we didn’t have children with us.  It wasn’t long before we dreamt of swaying palms and gorgeous sunsets.  All to the sound of the sea right next door!  Note to self – always have a cabin that is on the other side of the dune to the sea as it stops the wind and allows you to enjoy the sounds of the waves.

We awoke to the sounds of Christine shouting for us to get our breakfast sorted so that we could head to the market for vitals and a general visit in the town of Inhambane. How awesome to put on shorts and T-shirt in winter!  I highly recommend travelling to this area from around May to October as it’s warm and not overpoweringly hot.  We headed to the market and had a great morning haggling with the locals and buying some items that are not available in South Africa. Their sarongs are well priced, beautiful and are not made in China.  Their coconut oil came in re cycled liquor bottles and we could buy Ray Bans at less than R30!  The rand is so good in Mozambique, almost 4 to one and they do take Rand, if you run out of Mozambican Metical (MZN or Mets).  The hawkers help one another and feed their families on what you purchase. So words of warning, don’t haggle with them if the price is already great.  They spend hours creating items for tourists and it’s their full time job. So be nice and buy well.

We decided to take a ferry for 10 Metz per person (R2.50) across to Maxixe (pronounced Ma-sheesh). They filled this little people boat until there was really no more space and off we went. We puttered across the bay avoiding the sandbank while enjoying the beautiful estuary – Baia de Inhambane.  Flamingos could be seen from the boat as well as the traditional Dhows which are used to carry items such as vitals for the locals from one Maxixe to Inhambane. A road trip between the two is 100km.  So absolutely worth the trip.  We met some locals and learned some Portuguese such as Obrigado, Por Favor and other greetings.

Dino's 1With not much except the local KFC and Municipal buildings to see on the other side, we returned to Inhambane.  Interesting to note the boat only leaves once it’s full so it could be a long wait. But hey you are on holiday and there is no rush.

We headed back to the Lodge and stopped at some of the roadside markets to purchase wind chimes made out of coconut husks and to watch the carvers at work.  Beware of the potholes as there are some magnificent ones that can take an entire car! Hopefully by the time this article goes to print it will have been filled.

Back at the lodge, we took a walk on the desolate and beautiful beach below, picking up shells, taking in the smell of the sea and watching the waves rolling in onto the beach. It seems like time passes so fast when having fun as no sooner had we walked back up the dune it was time for dinner. Steffan, , arranged for us to meet some of the other lodge and water sport/attraction owners nearby One of the Inhambane Province tourism association members was there too. What a lovely way to meet the community. They were from all over the world. Natalie, the owner of Dino’s Bar and Restaurant was born in Port Elizabeth, ended up in Tanzania and hitchhiked down to Inhambane.  There was the couple from Finland, Yari and Satu who owned Liquid Dive Adventures and Tofo Scuba, (Dan and Brodie, with their right hand man, sorry woman, Casey, had the privilege of all coming from the UK.  The owners of Mango Beach are all South African.

You would feel right at home.

No sooner had we all met, it was time to test the local beers; 2M, Manica and Laurentina’s were the order of the day as we ravishingly consumed copious amounts of Pizza from the Mango Beach kitchen.  All served with a lashing of the local chili and smiles from the staff.  Those were smiles we would miss once we left to come home.

mango beach 1The following morning was my birthday. The biggest day on the calendar!  The day started with heart shaped fried eggs and bacon overlooking the Azul blue sea.  I got to say having breakfast by the sea is the best form of therapy ever. Not retail therapy but certainly sea-therapy. Lots of Vitamin Sea.

After our hearty breakfast and numerous cups of coffee, it was our turn to visit the Mangroves in the nearby Barra area.   Our Hosts Uari Forsman and his wife Satu the owners of Liquid Dive Adventures in Tofo, (she has the most beautiful sea tattoo on her arm and I will always remember that) treated us to a vegetarian feast prepared in their Dive center Kitchen named “Happi”, which means Oxygen in Finnish. The Dive Centre offers Fun diving as well as PADI certified diving courses, Nitrox diving, Ocean Safaris’ and nature walks, Kayak adventures to visits to the islands where you can find pansy Shells and have lunch with the local Chief. Once again fed and full, we headed out with our guide Joseph and Louise our driver, into the groves on the back of a bakkie.  The downside of being on the Barra side is that the sea starts very far from the beach, so get your walking legs on.

Before you can get into your kayak you have to push out a fair distance. Being old and cranky it took me a while to walk into where we could get into the kayak before pushing off. Tania, my sister was lucky to have Joseph as her guide, so he could paddle. Keith and I struggled to keep a straight line and after falling out once, gave my camera equipment in the dry bag to them to keep.

The scenery was magnificent and rather gorgeous.  The water was clear. Word of warning, if you take this activity, make sure you are reasonably fit.  Being in our late fifties and very unfit bikers, meant that we struggled to keep up and kept going left.  It was enjoyable none the less. We took in the beauty of the Mangroves, watched the crabs fighting for territory and identified various shallow water dwellers. I think I could learn a great deal if I wasn’t so fixated about falling out of the Kayak We eventually found we were close enough to shore to walk the rest of the way and pulled our kayak behind us!  Jari and Satu were so accommodating and even had chocolate cake ready on our return, for my birthday of course.

Parched by the long paddle back we needed a drink so we visited White Sands for a quick 2M and R&R. White Sands is another Lodge and camping facility found on the end of the Barra peninsula. We were becoming more Mozambican by the minute.  We were looking for a spot to build our house and work opportunities (Not a kayak instructor and certainly not a builder) but a dream none the less.

We returned to Liquid Dive Adventures, where Christine was waiting to meet us. On route back to Mango Beach we stopped in at Dino’s Bar, (I know, it sounds more like a pub crawl at this point).Met Natalie again and we all decided that Dino’s was the best beach bar on the planet. What a gorgeous view, exactly where a beach bar should be situated. We were starting to find more and more reasons to come back to Tofo!  The bar has a statue of Bob Marley in the corner and he makes a great Kodak moment!  Remember those! Before selfies and cell phone cameras!  The windswept furniture on the beach was reminiscent of the old LM, Pao bread and other memories of Mozambique gone by.

Mango Beach was awaiting our return, so we picked up our cameras, donned our hats and headed back along the winding sand road, over the dune home. Not a moment too soon, there shining with a blaze of candles was the biggest birthday cake ever!   The cake was a vanilla sponge with chocolate icing, which Mark had made in their Pizza oven.  What a way to spend a birthday. The restaurant was filled with local visitors.  I just love the bar as the atmosphere is so relaxing and chilled, the owner’s dogs (I am a dog person) as well as children playing on the dune and the beach nearby. We took so many photos of the sunset and sunrise, I ran out of space on my camera. I recommend it. Book out the cabana and take a week and spend it with friends and family and without your phone or computer.

On our last day at Mango Beach, we took an early morning stroll through the entire property.  It has 5 completed cabanas, with four more being built- almost like a new family, more on the way. Each cabana consists of a king size bed and 2 single beds.  One of the 5 has an en-suite bathroom and the others make use a communal bathroom which is just beautiful if you can say that about showers!  It’s well-appointed and clean. We were told that more en-suite units were on their way. The one thing about this lodge which astounded me was its close relationship with nature. The lodge makes use of a solar system with backup batteries, and only if needed runs a generator to boost power on cloudy days. So don’t drain the power with large amounts of technology just enjoy the environment.  “Catch your breath”. Everything to do with the lodge is eco-friendly. The units are all made out of local materials including Palm leaves and reed, whilst the paths have been constructed from the local hardy shrubbery.

mango beach 2Our walkabout was followed by an ocean safari which is offered to us by Tofo Scuba, one of four SCUBA diving Centre in Tofo. Tofo Scuba is run and owned by Dan and Brodie Dearman. The Centre offers top notch Scuba diving, inclusive of PADI or RAID instructed courses. They also offer Nitrox diving, for those that need more time in the water, DM certification as well as Instructor courses

After a briefing in the briefing room, we got dressed into light Lycra shirts which protected us from the sun.  A short walk to where the tractor pushed the dive boat out into the waves and off we went.  For the next two and a half hours the dive master scoured the horizon for ocean wildlife such as whales and dolphins.  We stopped numerous times to be given an opportunity to snorkel and enjoy the underwater sea life.  Being able to video underwater with our r video camera was brilliant as we could come back and enjoy it all over again.

Getting off and on the boat was an experience and you really have to make sure you can swim.  Once you are in the water, you just float.  Putting your face into the water and seeing the underwater reefs is an experience you cannot explain nor put in writing. You have to be there. Almost like putting your face into a fish tank. You have to try it. Tofo Scuba has such a great ocean front. The bar in front of the dive Centre is a great place to relax and enjoy the sea after the excursions. Grab yourself a snack or just a cold frosty from the dive Centre kitchen.

Yet again the sunset at Mango Beach awaited us. It was a home we could not resist, our new home away from home, and this time the sea was at high tide, ready for the best seafood platter dinner ever.  Homemade Pasta and crayfish, together with fresh prawns cooked two way, Peri-Peri and 2M beer, Tuna fish, and calamari and of course their famous spiced potato wedges and salad.  Keith of course, had to have a Peri-Peri chicken as he had never tried the Mozambique chili. He was not disappointed.  The average price of such a meal at the lodge is less than a Spur dinner at home. R100 on average!   All too soon it was time for a cozy night’s sleep, our last here at Mango Beach

We left again at 230am the next morning to reach Johannesburg at 5pm.  It was a quiet journey home, as we sadly headed back to the stress of city life. Would I turn around and head back….Yes anytime!

The price of this lodge is R1500 per four sleeper cabana, inclusive of breakfast and prices for the excursions are available if you click on the name of the attractions below.  We have booked to go back again for my birthday next year but this time we are staying a week!  Maybe longer…..Maybe we will move there……Maybe we can retire there!

In Preparation for your visit to Mozambique

Some hints here. When crossing into Mozambique, depending on the time of the year, the border will have a long queue.  24 December is a particularly bad time.  Last year the queue was 12km and it took 24 hours to get through. So plan your trip well in advance and because no visas are required for South African passport holders, it makes it a great holiday destination.  The weather changed almost immediately from a single digit to double digits and we started peeling off the layers.  Your cell signal dies immediately you are through the other size. It’s quite funny; you would swear there is a big invisible wall behind which the cell signal stops.  Vodacom has been offering a reasonable roaming rate to those travelling from SA on their cell phones and we were able to keep in contact throughout our stay.  The local cell provider had a really good offer and for under R100 you received 3GB of data and a large number of minutes.  So keep an eye out for those specials.

Also if you are wondering what you should take over the border as perhaps they do not have your favorite food or drink, you can take over a certain amount with you.  Visit DriveMoz on Facebook that will give you not only road information, but also what’s available in Mozambique.  Join Drive Moz, click on info, on Files you will find a list of files that will help with all types of information and its well written and researched.  Check with your local GP about Malaria conditions and medication.  Also a very important reminder is that you are crossing the border into another country and you should advise your Medical Aid as well as your insurance company and car tracker if you have one.

You will need a Temporary Import Permit for your car and if your car is still owned by the bank you will need a Letter from the bank and if your car is your own, you will only need car registration papers.  A 30 day third party liability insurance is available from either on the border or at Outdoor Warehouse.  Costs R220 and absolutely worth it. Gives you peace of mind while travelling.  I have included an audio interview with Christine on that was conducted before our journey on 103 Hope FM that will give you some great insight to the trip to Inhambane.

It might also be well worth your while to take a look at the local information site Tofo Info. It abounds with things to do, what to see and where to eat. You can also download the app which will give you directions to all these fabulous places mentioned above.

Mango beach Lodge 11 2www.mangobeachtofo.co.za

www.liquiddiveadventures.com

www.tofoscuba.com

http://lam.co.mz/en

http://www.tofoinfo.com/

 

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Review of the month

Road to Paradise Rally in Sabie

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We had a great start to the month with the Paradise Rally and here you can read all about it. Click on the picture to follow our journey to adventure domination! And don’t forget to switch your sound on!  Its a great listen….The Road to Sabie was awesome and totally enjoyable. Read all about it here below. Click on our Prezi site and it will take you on our journey through the curves of the panoramic mountains of the Long Tom Pass!

Winter Adventure Domination
Follow our road to Paradise Rally and Adventure Domination in Sabie

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