Adventures in South Africa’s Northern Cape

 

Xaus Lodge, South Africa - photo by Rob McFarland

Xaus Lodge, South Africa – photo by Rob McFarland

Escape travel section, Australia – June 3, 2012

South Africa’s Northern Cape is a vast, sparsely populated region that rarely makes it on to travellers’ itineraries.

This is a pity as it’s home to numerous natural wonders including the stunning red sand Kalahari desert, one of Africa’s largest national parks, and the mighty Orange River.

Here are two examples of the adventures that can be had in this remote wilderness.

Read the rest of this story here.

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24 hours in Cape Town

View from Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town - photo by Rob McFarland

View from Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town – photo by Rob McFarland

GQ Magazine, Australia – June 2012

Few places can match Cape Town for natural wonders — a coastline fringed with white sand beaches, lush foothills peppered with world-class vineyards and the stunning Table Mountain as a backdrop. But what makes this city — and country — so compelling is the legacy of apartheid, abolished 22 years ago. People are still working out how to live with each other. Everyone from taxi drivers to tour guides has an opinion and you’ll hear a diverse set of predictions about the future.

Read the rest of this story here: Cape Town (PDF)

Marataba Lodge, South Africa

Lions resting in shade in Marakele National Park - photo by Rob McFarland

Lions resting in shade in Marakele National Park – photo by Rob McFarland

The Sun-Herald, Australia – Aug 21, 2011

“GO, GO, GO!” screams the man sitting behind me in the jeep.

I look over my shoulder to see a three-tonne bull elephant approaching the back of our open-top jeep, trunk held up defiantly, ears flapping and head bobbing up and down.

I brace myself, expecting Philip, our guide, to floor the accelerator. Instead, he just tells the three of us in the jeep to keep perfectly still. “It’s OK, boy,” he calls out, his tone soothing but firm. “You’re all right. Just move along.”

The elephant continues to approach. To my horror, I find I’m completely frozen. I couldn’t get out and run even if I wanted to. Philip starts banging the side of the jeep with his hand. The elephant stops. There’s a stand-off. I hold my breath. Finally, it wheels around and in a cloud of dust disappears into the bush.

Read the rest of this story here.

Safari magic at Singita Lebombo, South Africa

Pool at Singita Lebombo safari lodge - photo by Rob McFarland

Pool at Singita Lebombo safari lodge - photo by Rob McFarland

Deidre in the driver’s seat turns around and whispers to me: “Did you hear that?”

I can’t hear anything apart from my heart pounding between my ears. I’m in an open-top Land Rover in an area teeming with lions and my nerves are jangling from a heady mixture of fear and excitement.

We move towards the source of the sound and, eventually, I catch it: a low, cough-like bark that I never would have imagined could have come from a lioness.

“That’s her calling her cubs.”

Minutes later, we see her – a fully grown lioness – and for the next hour follow her as she meanders through the African bush. She is completely unfazed by our presence and at one stage walks so close to the jeep that I physically recoil when she glances up and looks me in the eye.

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Tracing human evolution at Forum Homini, South Africa

Human evolution sculpture at Forum Homini

Human evolution sculpture at Forum Homini

I’m sure if Mrs Ples’s husband had told her that in two million years’ time she’d be splashed across the covers of glossy magazines, she’d have told him to stop being an idiot and go out and kill something tasty for tea.

But having been unearthed in South Africa’s Sterkfontein Caves in 1947, she’s one of the reasons that a 47,000-hectare region 45 minutes from Johannesburg is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is known as the Cradle of Humankind and Mrs Ples is the affectionate term for the most complete skull of an Australopithecus africanus (our ape-man ancestor) ever found in South Africa. Since this seminal find, the region has produced more than 600 hominid fossils, making it one of the world’s most bountiful paleontological sites.

Read the rest of this story here.