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Clarens: The Jewel of the Free State

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"The Free State landscape gladdens my heart, no matter what my mood. When I am here I feel that nothing can shut me in; that my thoughts can roam as free as the horizons." - Nelson Mandela

With its gold-stained mountains, endless open fields, winding rivers, and peculiar little spots, Clarens is nothing short of a sanctuary for those requiring a peaceful escape from their hectic daily lifestyles. Widely considered an artist's town due to its 20 art galleries, Clarens is culturally rich and a great basis from which to explore breathtaking scenery on foot. Whether you're a water sports enthusiast or an avid hiker, or simply get a kick out of discovering hideaway spots for purchasing quirky bric-a-brac, Clarens fails to disappoint. If you're still not convinced on what Clarens has to offer, here's why we think you should head out to this haven:

1. Go horse riding or clay pidgeon shooting at Bokpoort Cowboy Ranch:

Established in 1865, Bokpoort is a family farm which is run by the Roos family, with Christo being the fourth descendant. Bokspoort offers many attractive pursuits, one of which being horse riding. Explore the Golden Gate Highlands, a major natural attraction in Clarens, on horse back. You can opt for one of many packages offered by Bokspoort, whether it be a two hour sundowner ride, or an entire day out, which includes a light meal. They also have a shooting range with various options for a fun activity. These vary, from target shooting, to clay pidgeon shooting and archery. If you're not the greatest aimer, perhaps you might consider the mountain bike, hiking and running trails. Bokspoort also hosts a highly anticipated annual family-friendly shooting competition. Have a look at this video for a better idea of what's in store.

For more information, have a look at their website.

2. Visit the Art and Wine Gallery on Main:

Whether you're an ardent art or wine enthusiast, Art and Wine ensures that you don't have to choose. Founded by Anton Grobbelaar, the gallery exhibits a wide range of the finest wines and most exquisite artworks from established artists. Occupying an impressive 439 square meters with panoramic mountain views and situated in the Main street of Clarens, Art and Wine houses works by the likes of Gregoire Boonzaier, Aviva Maree, J.H. Pierneef and Conrad Theys, ceramics by Laura Du Toit, sculpture by Louis Chanu and Jean Doyle, and glass by David Reade and Shirley Cloete, amongst many others. Coupled with some of the best wines that the Cape has to offer, what is not to love?

For more on Art and Wine, view their website.

3. Learn about the culture of the South Sotho at the Basotho Cultural Village:

Nestled in the heart of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, the Basotho Cultural Village is the embodiment of a primitive and simple life. Here, the life of the South Sotho is encapsulated by means of the architecture and lifestyle, carried through from the early sixteenth century through to the rich and colourful present. Experience a guided tour by stepping into the "khotla," the gathering place of men. An offering of hospitality is made with the giving of Sotho beer and a game of "marabaraba." Consult the traditional healer and drink in his knowledge, then step into the home of one of the three wives as they grind and sift maize and beer. Listen to fables and folklore, and observe the dramatic and vibrant interior and exterior decorations of the huts, created by the Basotho women.

Read further here.

4. Quench your thirst and learn the art of distillery at Clarens Brewery:

Situated in the foothills of the Maluthi Mountains, Clarens Brewery is one of the country's first Brew-Pub, Cidery and Distillery. Their brewer, Stephan Meyer, is a keen beer drinker and, upon a visit to the UK in the early '90s, came across a mind-blowing diversity of brews and could not wait to start brewing his own beer shortly thereafter. The rest is history. From the biscuity and malty aroma of the Blonde Ale to the subtle chocolate aroma of the stout, there is a beer for everyone. If beer is too queer for you, rest assured, Clarens Brewery offers gin and cider tastings too. They also have a delicious food menu, should you get hungry.

Find out more about Clarens Brewery here.

5. Get your adrenalin rush with Clarens Xtreme:

If you're an extremist or simply just love a thrilling adventure, consider paying Clarens Xtreme a visit. They offer a wide variety of activites, ranging from white water rafting, paintballing, abseiling, quad biking and wall climbing, amongst many others! If you want to test your ability and enjoy activites which require quick and strategic thinking, all the while having an absolute blast of a time, then look no further. They've got your covered! As their motto goes, "work hard, play harder." Visit their website for more on what they offer.

6. Satisfy those hunger pangs at one of these highly recommended restaurants:

Gosto Portuguese restaurant: with fantastic service, amazing food, a cosy fireplace for those colder evenings and good background music, Gosto offers an all-round welcoming experience for diners.

Vito's Ristorante: for a scrumptious Italian dinner with mountain views, Vito's is the place to be. Although it appears as a fish and chips cafe on the exterior, a rustic and ambient atmosphere await you as you enter. The variety of sauces available to accompany your meal is especially revered, and the restaurant boasts the Certiicate of Excellence 2018 award. They are also vegetarian-friendly and have a number of vegan dishes on their menu.

Friends: sporting a fireplace, a big screen for those game nights and a live band on select others, Friends is affordable and their meal sizes generous. They are well-known for their burgers and a popular spot for the locals. With a typical pub vibe, this is where locals go to have a good time in the evenings.

Clementines: for a more fine dining experience, head to Clementines, the most exclusive restaurant and bar in Clarens. With upmarket country dining and unique ambience, Clementines is enchanting and will make you want to return again. It also has gift shops nearby, should you want to explore whilst waiting on your food. Their service is excellent, and their oxtail and camembert steaks come highly recommended. Sporting the Certificate of Excellence Award for 2015-2018, it is no wonder that Clementines is the number one diner in Clarens.

Highland Coffee Roastery: do yourself a favour and visit this coffee roastery, shop and espresso bar. With their micro-roastery roasting 100% Arabica coffee beans to perfection, sip and mull over a freshly ground cuppa as you admire the phenomenal view of Mount Horeb. Read more here.

 

With so much to choose from, you will never run out of things to see or do. Clarens truly is the jewel of the Free State, with it's astounding awe-inspiring natural beauty and a suprisingly long list of things to keep you busy, there is something for everyone!

 

View these incredible Clarens accommodation deals below:

Two night self-catering stay for two at Gypsy Guest House.

Two night stay for two at Patcham Place.

 

Author: Jamy-Lee Mansfield

The top 6 reasons to visit Mozambique in 2019

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From lazing on the palm-fringed beaches of the Archipelago to partying in the cosmopolitan city of Maputo, Mozambique has a diverse range of activities to induce wanderlust in enthusiastic travellers. Right on the brink of the birth of its international tourism status, 2019 is the year that it beckons you to shimmy to its breathtaking shores and pay visit to the magic that it offers. Still not convinced? Here are the top six reasons why we think you should visit Mozambique in 2019.

1. Go sailing in Inhambane

Imhambane is well-known for its sailing bays being dotted with an array of dhows. These dhows are the core of life in Inhambane, and thus play a fundamental role in the daily life of locals here. Take a day out of your trip and spend it fishing and cruising the azure waters as you slurp on coconut juice, or race other dhows for fun. Inhambane has unspoilt beaches and some of the oldest coastal settlements. For an affordable time-out with your family or friends in this beautiful and balmy location, take a look at this current deal on offer: Montanha Valley Lodge

Read more on what to do in Inhambane here.

2. Visit Ponta Do Ouro

This beachy destination is a popular vacation spot for those seeking a mixture of relaxation and exciting things to do. If relaxing on the beach with a book in hand is not your cup of tea, consider opting for a swim with some dolphins instead. Children old enough to swim can experience this magical moment too! For the adventure seekers, quad bike along the coastline from the southern tip of O Lar do Ouro, or kitesurf at Ponta Do Ouro bay. Capture beautiful memories with gorgeous flora and fauna, as well as an array of birdlife, at the tropical gardens of Nstuty Lodge, and end off the day of activity with a sundowner at Beach Bar. For exciting packages in Ponta Do Ouro, view what's currently on our site below, courtesy of Phaphalati Resorts:

Phaphalati Resorts Deal 1

Phaphalati Resorts Deal 2

See more Ponta Do Ouro attractions here.

3. Snorkel in the lagoons or go wind-surfing in Xai Xai

Neighbouring the capital city of Maputo is the stunning Xai Xai. Dressed in white sandy beaches, fresh-water lakes and snorkel-friendly lagoons, this dreamy heaven-on-earth location is also well-known for its wide, fertile plain where rice is grown. Formerly known as Joäo Belo, it developed as an industrial and agricultural centre and port, a service provider, banking and a district hospital. Now, Xai Xai embraces you with an invitingly warm local culture. It is well-known for its colourful markets selling cashew nuts, fresh seafood, and hand-crafted treasure troves. Walk along the glittering Praia do Xai-Xai beach and pop into a beach bar for a cocktail, go wind-surfing or drift about in a kayak and admire the birdlife flying along the shore. For a great deal on accommodation in Xai Xai, see here.

Read more about what to do in Xai Xai here.

4. Scuba dive and snorkel in the Archipelago

Dubbed one of the best places in Africa for diving and snorkelling, the archipelago offers the ultimate opportunity to discover the most fascinating creatures of the deep sea. The archipelago comprises of five main islands, namely, Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. It's a conserved area that boasts unspoilt coral reefs, dolphins, mantas, whale sharks, turtles, and over two thousand species of fish - so, you can expect a world-class snorkelling or diving experience - whatever tickles your fancy.

Read more.

5. It's got seafood straight from the gods, and delicious brews

Get your taste buds in a twist with the most mouth-watering seafood. Mozambican cuisine sports divine seafood and flavoursome spices deriving from Portugal, among the other myriad of cultures which have influenced its heritage. With abundant fishing grounds and long stretches of shoreline, the shellfish is very cheap and form part of the local diet. Indulge in a peri-peri prawn curry, or a seafood stew known as Matata, for a more authentic dish - this is one of the few Mozambican dishes without Portuguese influence. Wash it down with a cold, dark lager. Some of the best Mozambican beer arrived after the culmination of the war, and was known as Impala, presented in big brown bottles. While it is now long gone, the current favourites are 2M and Laurentina Preto. Drink and be merry as you savour the delicacies of the Mozambican cuisine. If you're an extremist, we recommend that you have a go at Tipo Tinto, Mozambique's very own national rum. Mixed with a berry-flavoured soda, it is refreshing and flavoursome. But, be careful with this 'silent killer' - it's known to induce a bad hangover!

For more on Mozambican cuisine, read here.

6. Visit the urban capital of Mozambique - Maputo

Thanks to the South African gold rush, Maputo has prospered and developed a uniquely cosmopolitan style. Crumbling ruins and distinct modernity are blended together in a charismatic way, offering a whirlwind of cultural heritage and bustling nightlife. Enjoy long strolls while exploring this richly influenced city and admire the 18th century Portuguese fort stand and the mind-blowing Iron House; grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant - the grilled peri-peri chicken is world-renowned; finally, paint the town red, dance to marrabenta music and drink in the Afro-Latino vibe. Well, what are you waiting for?

Read more about Maputo.

Now that you have more ideas to fill your itinerary with, you can plan an incredible getaway to Mozambique with endless fun activities and interesting things to see and do! Visit Mozambique in 2019 and make memories with your loved ones while getting your very own slice of island adventure.

 

Please note: all deals were accurate and available at time of publication.

 

Author: Jamy-Lee Mansfield

Experience the tip of Africa

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No trip to the Western Cape is complete without a visit to the geographic southern tip of Africa, and the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

Cape Agulhas is located in the Overberg region, 170 kilometres from Cape Town. It was named by Portuguese navigators in 1500 and they called it "Cabo das Agulhas" (meaning "Cape of Needles") after realising the direction of magnetic north (and therefore the compass needle) coincided with true north in the region. 

What can I get up to?

The topography consists of a curving coastline with rocky and sand beaches. The waters of the Agulhas Bank are quite shallow and have some of the best fishing in South Africa. One of the more iconic features is the opportunity to stand with one foot in the Indian Ocean and the other in the Atlantic Ocean at the same time.

Don’t let that distract you from the rest of the area though, it’s a nature lover’s dream! Agulhas National Park boasts around 2 000 species of indigenous plants in its 20 000 hectare area, and birdwatching is also recommended.

The area also lends itself to whale watching in season (July to early December) and there is plenty for the adventurous to do as well.

Activities for the adventurous

Surrounding areas like Struisbaai offer water sports like canoeing, surfing, diving and fishing. If you’re a lover of land you can also experience some spectacular views while hiking or mountain biking.

Maritime history ahoy!

If you want to soak up some local history then you have to visit the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse (South Africa’s second oldest lighthouse, dating back to 1849) and check out the museum.

The lighthouse came about in response to the number of shipwrecks occurring off the coast. The rocky coastline has claimed around 140 ships as a result of strong ocean currents, and gale force winds generating waves that can reach up to 30m high. In fact, this dangerous section of the Southern coast is referred to as the "graveyard of the ships".

You can visit one of these, a Japanese shipwreck, just past the southernmost point.

The Meisho Maru No. 38 was a small Japanese fishing vessel that ran aground in stormy waters in 1982 (all onboard survived), and today has become a bit of a local tourist attraction.

If this history piques your interest then you should stop by the Bredasdorp Museum, a maritime museum whose primary theme is "shipwrecks along the dangerous Southern Cape coast and their influence on the development of the Strandveld".

Food and drink galore

If you’d rather spend your time relaxing with a glass of wine and a full belly, there are plenty of delicious options available.

Seafood is a must in this area and some favourites include Struisbaai Sea shack, L'Agulhas Seafoods and Seagulls Pub and Grill for some of the freshest and most delicious seafood in the province.

If you’re all about quality wine, you can visit Elim Wine Route, the southernmost wine route in Africa, featuring a few wine estates and restaurants.

Check out these cool accommodation deals:

Enjoy a quiet escape to L’Agulhas with a relaxing stay at Agulhas Heights for a family of 4.

A peaceful and rustic 2 night stay for 2 in Agulhas National Park at Pebble Bay Bed and Breakfast.

Please note: All deals were accurate and available at time of publication.

 

Hair botox is your hair's new bestie

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In a world where we’re constantly exposed to Insta-model hairstyles and Beyonce-esque hair flips online, it’s easy to get a bit of hair envy. The good news is that there is a multitude of new and exciting styles, techniques and products that can get you looking and feeling exactly how you want.
 
One of the newer and more trendy solutions is hair botox.
 
What exactly is hair botox?
 
Hair botox is not to be confused with the botox solution used for skin (Botulinum Toxin), but is anti-ageing in the sense that it repairs and rejuvenates hair, restoring fibres and leaving it silky, shiny and more youthful-looking.
 
The treatment is suitable for all hair types and though it might sound quite clinical, is more like a deep conditioning treatment for dry or damaged hair (perfect for the end of a long and dreary winter).
 
While not all salons do things exactly the same, typically the treatment will be applied to your hair after being washed with a detoxing or clarifying shampoo, and will be left for roughly 45 minutes before being washed out.
 
Everyone is different, but the treatment usually lasts between 2-4 months if you treat it right, e.g. using a sulphate-free shampoo.
 
What are the benefits?
 
  • Restores & hydrates dry and damaged hair.
  • Promotes hair growth and length.
  • Strengthens hair.
  • Frizz reduction.
  • Plumps-up the hair.
  • Reduces knots and tangles in hair.
  • Adds shine.
  • Lifts colour.

How is it different from a Brazilian blow wave?

Often promoted as an alternative to Brazilian blow-out treatments, hair botox won’t give you the same silky straight hair, but is a good alternative for people with finer hair who find a Brazilian keratin treatment too heavy. Generally, it is considered a nice touch up in between Brazilian blow waves.
 
Brazilian keratin treatment
 
This treatment specifically aims to defrizz and straighten hair. It first reinfuses and seals the lost keratin content within the hair. The keratin hair treatment mends and strengthens these bonds, and then the formaldehyde solution keeps the hair straight. This treatment takes longer and requires straightening to activate, but lasts longer than hair botox and has a straighter finish.
 
Hair botox
 
Hair botox doesn’t actually contain chemicals. Instead, it is made up of organic materials that regulate the hair’s absorption of vitamins and proteins. Essentially, hair botox is a deep conditioning treatment that moisturises, smooths and defrizzes. The fact that it doesn’t contain chemicals like formaldehyde makes it universally useable – even for pregnant women or women who are nursing children!
 
Check out these cool hair deals:
 
Restore the health of your hair and achieve smoother, glossier strands with Hair Botox from Perfectly Pampered.
 
Achieve smoother, silkier and softer hair with a Brazilian blowout from Bella Donna Hair.
 
Get the smooth hassle-free hair you’ve always wanted with a Brazilian blow wave from Soul Scissors.
 
Please note: deals are accurate and available at time of publication.

Spoil yourself in Sea Point

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Looking for a fun day out without leaving the city behind? Look no further than Sea Point, Cape Town’s star Atlantic Seaboard attraction. A long stroll on the promenade is great fun (and free!) and allows you to stop at a variety of popular attractions paired with some of the city’s best views.

Not sure how to spend your time? We’ve curated the perfect day for you, whether you’re on your own or with a partner.

Have a delicious meal  

Craving delicious chow mein, chow faan or chop suey? Fortune House has some of the best Chinese food in town. For just R89 you and a partner or friend can indulge in a filling meal paired with awesome service.

Not in the mood for something too filling? Why not enjoy some sushi! Fortune House also has a delicious 28 piece sushi platter for two. Enjoy a variety of delicious pieces including maki, California rolls, fashion sandwiches, sashimi, nigiri and salmon roses. Yum!

There’s always space for dessert

Feeling like you need something sweet too? Venezia Ice Cream Parlour, Cape Town’s oldest standing Italian ice cream shop, has you sorted. For just R99 you and another can enjoy a waffle and a latte/cappuccino/ coffee or a milkshake. As a long-standing Sea Point gem, no visit to the area would be complete without stopping by.

Pampering near the promenade

Do you want to take your relaxed day to the next level? Indulge in some affordable spa spoils at one of the area’s most glam spas, Blue Spa at the Radisson Blu Le Vendome (not affiliated). You can indulge with a beautiful manicure if you’re alone or, if you’re with another, book a heavenly 60 minute massage for two. The spa’s incredible location and luxurious treatments will be the cherry on top of a great day in Sea Point.

What you can get up to

Walk around the trendy Mojo market. The space is a new and exciting 7-day-a-week market on Regent Road that has 45 designer retail stalls, a daily fresh goods section, and 25 food vendors. 

If you feel like you need to burn off a few post-lunch calories with activities, you’re in the best area. Options include playing a round off putt-putt, larking about at the open air gym, or, if you’ve come prepared, have a dip at the Pavilion swimming pool area. It boasts an Olympic-sized pool, two kids’ splash pools and a springboard diving pool. All the pools are filtered salt water and overlook the Atlantic ocean.

If that’s still not active enough for you, you can rent bicycles at Up Cycles on the pavilion or join one of the guided kayak tours nearby.

Keep an eye out for sun-kissed salsa which occasionally turns the promenade into a huge fiesta of dancing and fun.

If you’re there on a Monday afternoon/ evening look out for Promenade Mondays, a weekly event that sees a mass public skate celebrating anything on wheels. Bring your rollerblades, roller-skates, scooter, skateboard or long-board and join the fun.

Fun fact: the event was launched to celebrate the lifting of the ban on skateboarding and rollerblading along the Sea Point promenade.

Please note: all deals were correct and available at time of publishing.

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