Taking time out to admire the natural beauty all around you while hiking a particularly tough trail can be pretty hard.

When your backpack straps are cutting into your shoulders (still tender from the previous day’s abuse), your legs are burning and all wobbly, and you can’t quite seem to catch your breath, the last thing you want to do is veer off course in pursuit of an even rarer view.

Most hiking trails, of course, discourage – nay, flat out forbid – you to leave the main trail for your own safety, as well as the conservation of the fauna and flora that would suffer underfoot.

However, when setting out on the five-day Otter Trail between Tsitsikamma and Nature’s Valley, you will have a couple of opportunities to take legal – and highly recommended – detours to some pretty damn magical spots. Because most of them come at that time of day when your energy levels have reached a real low, you may be tempted to skip them and just forge ahead.

But let me tell you: they’re totally worth it! Shrug off your backpack and leave it on the path – with no one else on the trail except your group, they’re 100% safe – and go have some fun. You’ll feel refreshed and inspired when you return, ready to take on the road ahead with more vigour.

Here are three of the Otter Trail’s most noteworthy detours you simply can’t miss out on:

Continue Reading "3 Otter Trail detours worth taking"

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable” – Mary Oliver

When I first read this line of poetry a couple of years ago, it rang so pure and true in my soul, it became my life’s motto in an instant.

Not that I’ve always been super successful at this – sometimes the slog of daily life becomes so all-encompassing, it’s all too easy to lose that sense of wide-eyed wonder.

That’s kind of where I found myself at the end of 2018: looking back on a year of incredible opportunities and fulfilling projects but just completely exhausted to the bone. I felt an overwhelming longing for simplicity and the need to immerse myself in nature.

So, when a spot opened up in the group my cousins had organised for the Otter Trail, I grabbed the opportunity without a second thought.

Sure, I only had ONE week to get my gear together (fortunately I’m kitted out with most of the basics).

And no, I wasn’t fit at all (in fact, I think this is the least fit I’ve been in about 10 years).

But, let’s face it – when you get the chance to piggyback on another group’s booking for this trail with its notorious 1-year waiting period, you take it!

This also, of course, put me in the advantageous position of having absolutely no time to burden myself with too much reading and research; conjure up any unrealistic expectations or think too much about the dangers (like the Bloukrans River Crossing) lying ahead.

Fortunately, I still had a roll of expired Kodak Gold and decided to put it to good use snapping some of the spectacular scenery that surrounded us for the five days we were on the trail.

While I love the mood and grain of these images, no camera can capture the true magic of these pristine spaces. In a world where truly wild places no longer seem to exist, the Otter Trail offers an unforgettable taste of somewhere almost ‘untouched’.

Continue Reading "Snaps: The Otter Trail on 35mm film"

Way back, when we used to live in Pretoria, my parents would ever so often pack us all up into the combi and head to the Kruger National – or Marloth Park for the weekend.

I loved it. And a big part of my heart still resides there, in the bushveld.

Living in Cape Town now, weekend trips are obviously no longer an option, so when I get the opportunity to set out in that direction, I jumped at it!

At the end of July, I was lucky enough to be part of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency’s brand new #myMpumalanga campaign (working behind the scenes mostly), which included a quick sho’t left to Jaci’s Sabi House in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve and made me super happy.

However, the trip also gave me an opportunity to explore a whole lot more of the ‘place where the sun rises’. Mpumalanga is really an amazing province, offering a range of diverse experiences – from fly-fishing and horse-riding in the chilly highveld town of Dullstroom to glamping along the Sabie River with Africamps at Mackers.

Instead of writing about each of the experiences, I thought I’d just share a couple of pics of the most memorable.

Continue Reading "Snaps: #myMpumalanga road trip"

Earlier this year, Traveller24 asked whether I would be available to represent them on a whirlwind mission to Maputo.

The trip was hosted by Google Africa and brought journalists, bloggers and influencers from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria together to explore the Mozambican capital and share their experiences.

We were only there for about 48 hours, so really had to squeeze in A LOT. In some ways, however, this just added to the thrill of the adventure and really whet my appetite for a more extensive visit.

I loved the eclectic mix of Portuguese heritage and true African city bustle, the robust tropical vegetation and the way it seems to take over buildings that have been left unattended just a little too long.

Of course, it’s really difficult to get the feel of a place in just two days, but amid the sensory overload, I did manage to pick five favourite things:

Continue Reading "My Maputo top 5"

In my last post, I mentioned that Guillaume, Jasper and I had taken a quick two-day break in the Cederberg from Wednesday to Friday last week.

After googling ‘pet-friendly accommodation in the Cederberg’ (to coincide with flower season), we stumbled upon Enjo Nature Farm in the Biedouw Valley and were instantly charmed by the pictures of quaint white-washed cottages, quiver trees and star-studded night skies. We booked the most adorable Cabin and started counting down the days.

Continue Reading "Snaps: Mid-week break at Enjo Nature Farm"

This past week, Guillaume and I decided to take a little mid-week break and headed to the Cederberg for some flower-spotting and a quick two-day digital detox.

We stayed at Enjo Nature Farm in the Biedouw Valley and spent a full day hiking, rowing, swimming, reading, eating and laughing (mostly at Jasper).

I’d like to tell you more about this magical little place in a next post and show you some of my photos, but first, I thought I’d share some observations from the road. Observations that somehow stirred new hope and eased the tension that has been building in my belly from an overdose of news and opinions, fear-mongering and negative talk on social media.

Continue Reading "Report from the road: there is more good than bad, don’t forget"

With the weather wavering between Indian Summers and snow down here in Cape Town, I’ve been craving music to suit this dreamy liminality.

So, in between getting work done yesterday, I created a new playlist (one of my favourite things in the world) which captures a bit of the mood.

It’s a little cloud of dream pop melody with a romantic R&B twist here and there, a Nigerian chart-topper somewhere in the middle, a dash of folk, a pinch of pop-punk and an energetic burst of drum & bass right at the end.

I think it’s a pretty pleasing mix for a laid-back evening at home or to kick off a spontaneous early-morning road trip. Give it a listen on Spotify (embedded below) OR Google Music.

Continue Reading "Playlist: Somewhere between Winter and Spring"

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of joining a very special welcoming party on the docks of Table Bay Harbour, just around the corner from the V&A Waterfront.

The SA Agulhas II supply and research ship was returning from an expedition to Antarctica and on board was my cousin, Danielle, along with her boyfriend, Andre. The two had spent more than a year at the SANAE IV research base, working as engineers.

It was truly special being able to join the Taljaard and Odendaal families for this momentous occasion.

I’m still trying to pin Danielle down for a proper interview about her experience, but in the meantime, here are a few moments from the arrival day captured on 35mm film.

Continue Reading "Snaps: Return of the SA Agulhas II on 35mm film"

For a long time, the fashion industry slipped under the radar for its impact on the environment. I guess everyone was so busy focusing on the way it tends to warp women’s relationship with their bodies and a myriad of other social issues.

But then, in 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1138 people. Not just any people. People who worked long hours and got paid less than minimum wage to create garments for fast fashion chains, such as H&M. For the first time since Nike’s sweatshops caused an outcry in the 1990s, the world received a sobering reminder that the clothes we buy with the change in our pockets and toss away without a second thought are actually made by real people – mostly women with households and children and husbands and errands to run – in far-off places, working in shocking conditions.

Then, of course, there is the unpleasant little fact that the fashion industry is the second biggest pollutant on the planet. In the US alone, 13 million tons of textiles make it into landfills every year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste. Apart from this, the water needed to keep cotton crops healthy and thriving is exorbitant, while the toxic chemicals in dyes seep into our rivers and oceans.

While this all paints a pretty dismal picture for anyone with a passion for dressing sharply, the good news is there are actually a lot of ways to keep your fashion-related carbon footprint in check.

Here are some ideas:

Continue Reading "How to build a more sustainable wardrobe"