South Africa Travel: Things to do and places to see on the Garden Route

With endless sandy beaches, serene lakes, breathtaking coastlines and picture-perfect towns, the Garden Route is perhaps nature's most expressive artwork in South Africa. Any traveler should include it as part of a larger itinerary. What adds to it are several adrenaline-surging experiences ranging from riding an ostrich to jumping off the world’s highest commercial bridge.Ask a South Africa travel expert; they will be unequivocal about why you shouldn't miss out on Garden Route while in SA.OverviewRunning approximately 190 miles through southern South Africa, the Garden Route is considered one of the fascinating scenic drives in the world; if you love driving, this one's for you. This beautiful stretch begins at Mossel Bay in the east to the Storms River in the west, encompassing the country’s major natural wonders. If starting from Cape Town, it can best be accessed by taking the N2 highway all the way to Port Elizabeth in the east.  Let’s take a closer look at the incredible activities and attractions that the Garden Route has to offer.Jump off the Bloukrans BridgeAt an astounding height of 708 feet, Bloukrans is recognized as the highest commercial bungee operation in the world. Built as part of the N2 highway, the bridge is a must-stop for those who want to unleash their inner daredevil and earn bragging rights for the highest bunjee-jump in the world.Tsitsikamma National ParkLocated at the eastern end of the Garden Route and hosting the dramatic Storms River mouth is the deep green cloak of the Tsitsikamma National Park. Have a wonderful time hiking the waterfall trail (part of the famous Otter trail), which includes a refreshing dip in the pool along the waterfall; yes, be sure to carry swimming gear.Important Tip: Since this part of the trail demands climbing over large boulders, it is advised that you equip yourself with good hiking shoes as well.Storms River mouth and the Suspension bridgeStorms River mouth is merely a short 1 mile hike from the forested Tsitsikamma National Park. This pleasant walk leads you to the wooden suspension bridge that spans the entire river. The 250-foot long suspension bridge is divided into 3 sections and is the major highlight of the hike; enjoy the impressive views of the tree-covered mountains with the sound of the river flowing underneath you.Town of KnysnaOften called the “Heart of Garden Route”, Knysna is a small town worth a halt while traversing the Garden Route. It is quite famous for its lovely oyster dishes and fresh seafood, not to mention rows of pretty souvenir shops. Don’t miss visiting the Featherbed Nature Reserve, a prominent highlight of South Africa, set inland from the beautiful geological marvels of Knysna heads, basically two gigantic sandstone cliffs that stand guard over the turquoise lagoon of Knysna as it spills out gently into the magnificent expanse of the Indian Ocean.Outeniqua Transport Museum in GeorgeEditorial Copyrights: South African TourismWith old steam locomotives from the previous century and classic cars, including the original Ford Model-T, the Outeniqua Transport Museum is a great experience down memory lane for memorabilia lovers. Even if not a die-hard fan, the museum is worth a stop and look-see from a historical point of view of the birth of mankind's progress. Wilderness National ParkLocated on the flanks of the Outeniqua Mountains, Wilderness is filled with nature trails, dense forest covers and lots of gentle lakes. The park hosts a myriad variety of birds, making it as a perfect spot for bird watchers. While here, one can also indulge in plenty of recreational activities including hiking, paragliding, horse riding, mountain biking, dolphin and whale watching, thus making it a favorite of nature enthusiasts. Plettenberg BaySituated towards the eastern end of the Garden Route, Plettenberg Bay is the spot for upscale holiday makers. Plettenberg boasts some of the best beaches in the country, four of which have been attributed the prestigious “Blue Flag” status (meeting the highest standards of water quality, safety and environmental management). With a stunning outline of Tsitsikamma Mountains in the background, Plettenberg charms its visitors with loads of activities which include exquisite whale watching tours, Canopy Tours - whereby you can Zip-Line around the top of forests - and hiking its other equally remarkable nature trails.Jeffrey’s BayJeffrey’s Bay is a small bustling town, quite popular for being one of the best-surfing destinations in the world. Apart from being the haven for thrill-seeking surfers, Jeffrey’s Bay has some beautiful white sand beaches, making it an ideal destination for sunbathing and swimming. Drop down here in the month of July to witness the famed J-Bay Open, an important part of the World Surf League.Addo Elephant ParkNot exactly considered a part of the Garden Route, but because of its close proximity, most people do include a safari in Addo Elephant Park as part of a larger itinerary through South Africa. Addo is the third largest national reserve in South Africa, housing over 600 elephants, including large populations of The Big Five animals. Head out for a guided game drive and spend your stay in the tented camps or lavish lodges in the midst of the wilderness.OudtshoornAnother praiseworthy destination (another little detour off the Garden Route) is the town of Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo region. An hour and a half drive from the Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn draws its visitors for the highlight of the region, the Cango Wildlife Ranch and its rescued cheetahs and the the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites of the Cango Caves. Another major attraction of the region is the Ostrich Farm, where you have the chance to learn everything about these fascinating flightless birds. There are strict legislations about riding ostriches: the temperature must be 30 C or below; the animal welfare board has decreed that at higher temperatures, it is not comfortable for the birds. You may need to start early in the day in summer to enjoy this experience. When to goAlthough there is no bad time to visit the Garden Route, the best time to go would be the summer months of December to March, when the weather is picture perfect. We recommend the shoulder months of spring and autumn as well, when the temperatures are even better and the crowds considerably less.Important Tip: Since these months witness a healthy footfall of travelers, it is recommended that you book your accommodations and activities well in advance to avoid disappointment.Start planning your itinerary with a local expert right here.

10 Reasons to Travel to South Africa: Safaris, Wine, Adventure And More

South Africa is a country loaded with both, adventurous and relaxing things to do, whatever your preference. Having an abundance of perfectly preserved and conserved natural resources, the way you come in touch with nature here is unlike any other place in the world. Large game reserves, stunning wildlife, luxurious vineyards and the blend of various cultures and long history is what makes this country one of the favourites among tourists.Here are 10 things that you must experience when you are in South Africa. Once you know what to expect and exactly what you want to do, get in touch with a local travel expert who will execute it all for you.1) Go Hiking:South Africa is an expansive terrain that caters to all levels and varieties of hiking. Irrespective of whether it is something you are not experienced at, or you are a die-hard hiking enthusiast, you will always find the perfect hike for you here. Situated in Limpopo is the Magoebaskloof hiking trail; quite similar to a tropical forest in appearance, the place receives moderate rainfall annually and is covered with dense flora making it a good hike for nature enrhusiasts. This hike is known to be of moderate difficulty and it covers an area of around 40 miles over five days.Another hike famous here is the Hole in the Wall hike at Eastern Cape. A picturesque blend of mangrove, swamps and seaside cliffs, the entire stretch can be covered in three days. The place also has options of luxury hotels, making it a good getaway for those who love the coast. If you are looking for something you can cover within a day, there are many one-day hikes that you can go on. One of them is the Olifantsbos Shipwreck Hike at the Cape Point Nature Reserve. All you need is the map of the trail (which you can find at the Buffelsfontein Visitors Centre), and you can explore the raw and untouched beauty on this 4 mile hike. Ranging from distances of 4 miles to more than 60 miles that can be covered either within a day or a week, hiking is one of things that South Africa is known throughout the world for.2) Hit the Biking Trails:Apart from on foot, the next best way to explore the huge landscapes of South Africa is by cycling through it. Having beautiful routes with dazzling flora on both sides and a variety of terrains and trails to choose from, it is easy to see why cycling has become one of the most favourite activities for visitors. Available for people of all level of fitness and skill, you can bike through various game reserves, national parks and vineyards that offer packaged tours that include accommodation and other facilities to ensure you have a good time there. 3) Visit the Penguins:Also known as the Jackass Penguins, a name they got due to the donkey-like bray they emit, they are undoubtedly one of the most adorable creatures in Africa. The penguins are unfortunately listed as endangered species but with the efforts being put in by the South African government and various other organisations like the Boulders Coastal Park management, these flightless birds should soon be out of that list. When it comes to African Penguins, plan a trip to Boulders Beach; it is the best place in the world to see them, not to mention a must-visit highlight for any traveler. Situated about an hour away from Cape Town and in the Table Mountain National Park, it is one of the most beautiful beaches here with white sand, boulders and clear blue water.Home to more than 2,000 penguins, you can see them in their natural habitat from a convenient boardwalk. If you continue until you reach Foxy Beach, you will get the opportunity to interact with penguins one on one. The next best place to spot them are at Betty’s Beach at Kogelberg Bioshpere Reserve; although the beach is not big as Boulders Beach, it is quickly increasing in popularity due to the rising population of penguins here. The best time to see the birds would be early morning or late afternoon.4) Visit the Cango Caves:Situated around 29km from the town of Oudtshoorn (a good to spot to find accommodation if you plan on visiting the cave and nearby areas) is the continent’s largest system of caves. Made of naturally occurring beautiful and awe-inspiring structures that are over 20 million years old and made entirely of lime stone, the cave is a landmark in South Africa. Here, you are offered two types of tours: you can opt for the Heritage tour (relatively easy and short) or you can go for the adventure tour (covers more area of the cave); in any case it is best to book for a tour according to your preference in advance as the number of visitors are limited at a time.The caves are open throughout the year except on Christmas, making it one of the most visited spots in the country.5) Go Whale Watching:                                              Surrounded by the ocean on three sides, South Africa has a thriving marine life, the most majestic of which are the whales. Many local operators have all the facilities and the training required to help you get a glimpse of these gigantic, elegant creatures. Home to more than 37 species of whales and dolphins, the most common whales spotted here are the Southern Right Whale (they can be seen from June to November), Humpback Whale (they can be seen from May to December) and the Bryde’s Whale that can be seen throughout the year. The water here is so clear that you can see them from the road at places like the False Bay coast.6) Go on a Gourmet Trail Through Wine Country:Huge estates complete with scenic backdrops and view, good food, luxurious accommodation and of course a variety of excellent wines is the best way to describe the wine country of South Africa. Just a half hour drive away from Cape Town, these stunning vineyards will start to line up for you one after the other, where the cultivation of grapes dates back to the 1600. Having improved their craft over the years, the younger generation is making more complex blends and experimenting with flavours, making for some really tasty and unique wines here. Sipping wine under that great African sky is, hands down, one of the best ways to relax during your trip. Be sure to call in advance so that you get an opportunity to talk and interact with the wine makers, and also perhaps book one of the cottages or rooms, because the only way to do justice to these beautiful vineyards is by staying here for a couple of days7) Luxury Stays:Editorial credit:  / Shutterstock.comSouth Africa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and has some of the most high-end hotels and resorts. That being said, the most luxurious stays are the treehouses here. You will find a number of treehouse resorts throughout the country that have everything from private pools to beautiful balconies overlooking the game reserve. It is one of the best places to stay in as most of these houses are built inside various game reserves, surrounded by native flora and fauna, enabling you to have an incredible view of the place and also see some rare indigenous birds right from your room.8) Exotic Train Journeys:Editorial credit:  / Shutterstock.comAlthough the best way to explore the landscapes of the country is on foot or bike, the best way to travel is by train. Giving you the best view of the vast terrains, there are a number of exotic trains that you can choose from depending on the routes you wish to travel. Nothing less than a 5-star restaurant, these trains are complete with luxury rooms, lip smacking food and all the comfort you might need. Journeys range from just 27 hours to even 10 days (that go through various parts of Southern Africa); some of the most famous railways are the Blue Train (covers all of South Africa), and the Pride of Africa - Rovos Rail (covers Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe).9) Go on Safaris:Wildlife safari is a must do when you are in South Africa, whether on horseback or in 4X4s (both are highly recomended, and have their own unique advantages). You will be amazed at the extent you get close to these animals and see them here, as opposed to other parets of the continent. In South Africa, you will find the Big Five: the African Lion, Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, African Leopard and the Black and White Rhinos. Apart from these, there are various others like giraffes, cheetahs, Blue wildebeest, African wild dog etc that are found here in huge numbers. The best place to see them is at South Africa's premier highlight, Kruger National Park where you can go for a private customised safari, or there are various group safari options available for people who are on a budget. Seeing them in their natural habitat makes for one of the most spectacular sights you will ever see, against the picturesque backdrop of the national reserves, making it a memory that you will cherish for a lifetime.10) Visit Cape Town:There's lots of fun stuff to do in Cape Town, perhaps more than anywhere else. A blend of various cultures and cuisines (Christians, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and the various African customs and beliefs), Cape Town brims with a rich culture and a long history. It is also considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world; to add to that, it is literally lined with some of the finest beaches beaches you will find anywhere, with breathtaking view, bars and restaurants and tons of water-sports and activities you can try a hand at. Customize a trip to South Africa right here with a travel expert.  

Travel Essentials for a South Africa Safari

A safari trip to South Africa would easily rank as one of the most dramatic vacations you will ever take. The sheer expanse of untouched nature, the breathtaking views, and witnessing the raw power of wild animals in their natural setting is an experience you are not likely to forget in a hurry.Here are a few essentials that will go a long way in making your safari experience seamless and trouble-free; they may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how the most obvious are often the most over-looked.  A Small Bag:First and foremost, packing all the things you will need for the safari in a small and separate bag is one of the most important things you need to do. This is essential because a lot of times resorts and hotels will hold your luggage for you (relevant if you have made a big city like Cape Town or Jo'burg your base) while you take off for a safari excusrsion that may be a weekend or a few days long. Also, many flights have limitations on the size and weight of the luggage you can take along, so your best option would be to leave your main luggage behind and carry only a small-ish backpack or duffel bag which can hold your essentials. While picking the bag you plan on carrying with you, ensure that it is waterproof (here, it is mostly for protection agaisnt dust than water, but better to be safe than sorry).Medicines:Allergies are something that differ from person to person, and you never know when you might have an allergic, or simply a bad reaction to something that can ruin your stay. Carrying some antihistamines might save you from that; ddd in some fast-acting decongestants, why not. Although the risk of malaria is extremely low and limited to very few parts of South Africa, you can carry some anti-malaria medication along with you (this is optional). It is always best to run an essential list by your doctor; there may be something you will overlook that a seasoned medical person will not.One thing that you must carry along is insect repellent; this will not only protect you from mosquitos, but from several other insects with unknown allergy potential as well. And although it doesn’t strictly come under medication, be sure to carry a good sunscreen.Camera and Binoculars:Going to South Africa and just depending on your phone camera is something you may regret in a hurry, so make sure to pack something a little more professional (if you do not have one of your own, you can consider renting one). Make sure it has great zoom facility; if you know a thing or two about photography, carry zoom lenses; although the level of close contact with wildlife will astound you, normal lenses will not work for dramatic events unfurling a distance away. Throw in a good set of binoculars; those are essential!Adaptor:Editorial credit:  / Shutterstock.comThe sockets used in South Africa are unique to the place, and are literally found here and nowhere else. There is a slim (but good) chance that your all-in-one-global adaptor might not have the specific South African option. Check in advance; it may save you some grief later. Clothing:One thing that you have to keep in mind while picking your clothes, irrespective of season, is to make sure they are comfortable. Stick to breathable fabrics and throw in an all-weather jacket and a scarf. Bright colours tend to attract unwanted attention of some animals, so neutral tones are always preferable; they help to camouflage you to a certain extent. A lot of safaris are done early in the morning and in the evening, so warm woollens are a must-have.When it comes to footwear, a pair of socks with sneakers will do just fine; apart from that, flip-flops will come in handy to wear in the evenings for a stroll in and around the camp area.A few season specific things that you have to keep in mind are umbrellas or raincoats for travel during spring, and gloves during the winter months (check when is the best time to go for the best game-viewing). The temperature changes drastically during the day in South Africa, so try and bring cloths that you can layer on or off depending on when the sun is out. Full sleeves and full-length pants are always the better choice (keeps the insects at bay), and a hat and sun glasses will save you from the heat and dust.And that is about all you need to know about packing for a South Africa safari. Customise your safari trip with a local expert right here.

Iceland Travel - Best Restaurants in Reykjavik

Reykjavik has, in recent times, witnessed a commendable evolution in its culinary scene, making it one of the key things to do when in Iceland; in fact you can plan an entire trip around the cuisine only. Apart from using nature’s freshest ingredients, what makes the food scene even more exciting is that restaurants in Reykjavik are mostly staffed with well-acclaimed chefs.Get in touch with a travel expert who will point you to the best that Reykjavik has to offer.Let’s take a peek at the top-notch restaurants in Reykjavik, responsible for the success of its gastronomical scene.Dill RestaurantEditorial copyrights: Asgeir EggertssonSituated in one of Reykjavik’s prime cultural enclaves, Dill is perhaps the most prominent among all the restaurants in the city. Adding more to its credibility is the fact that it was the first restaurant in all of Iceland to receive a Michelin star. Being the brainchild of chef Gunnar Karl Gislason, who has been quite experimental in the contemporary Nordic food scene, Dill is known for its signature three, five and seven-course menu which changes weekly, with the option of wine-pairing. Expect traditional dishes with a modern twist, and don’t miss out on some of the restaurant's innovative recipes like the baked rutabaga with cheese foam and crispy millet.Grillmarkadurinn (Grill market)Editorial copyrights: robyn nevisonSophisticated, yet designed with raw Icelandic elements of rock and water, Grillmarkadurinn or better known as Grill Market provides a natural, but modern setting with a comfortable lounge area offering you a wide array of cocktails and wines. Grill Market is perhaps one of the best eateries in the city for devouring mouthwatering steaks and a variety of lamb and trout dishes. Editorial copyrights: Richelle AlbrechtThose with an unintimidated palate may even try the duck, puffin and reindeer mini burgers, for which Grill market is noted for.Snaps BistroEditorial copyrights: Anson ChenLocated in the serene neighborhood of Skolavorduholt, Snaps Bistro offers a range of Danish, Icelandic and French cuisine. Spearheading the food culture of the city by being awarded "Reykjavik’s coolest bar" by CNN travel and "Best Goddamn Restaurant" for consecutive years by Reykjavik’s Grapevine magazine, Snaps Bistro has quite a bustling ambience amidst an elegant setting. Go for the delicious Moules Marinieres (Sailor-Style Mussels) and French Onion Soup made with Icelandic Isbui cheese. After dining at the bistro, you can opt for experiencing the nightlife culture of the city, making your moments worthwhile.3 FrakkarEditorial copyrights: WhatsAllThisThenThere are hardly any chefs in Reykjavik serving the traditional Icelandic dish which has earned the 'national cuisine' title, and has quite an infamous reputation: the fermented shark. If you are looking for such adventurous traditional meal, head straight to 3 Frakkar, which is only a few blocks away from the city’s main commercial center. This family-run eatery accommodates just 44 diners in its comfy, old-school kind of dining room. Editorial copyrights: Iceland Global3 Frakkar is quite popular among the locals for being audaciously Icelandic by serving indigenous dishes like salted cod, puffin, and seal varieties. It's exotic cuisine of whale pepper steak washed down with shots of local hooch called Black Death is worth a try.FiskfelagidEditorial copyrights: Melissa OsbornYour amazing culinary experience at Reykjavik would surely be incomplete without sampling world-class seafood at Fiskfelagid, also known as The Fish Company. Located in the basement of the historic Zimsen building which dates back to the 19th century, Fiskfelagid also features a wide range of other fish dishes from across the globe apart from serving Icelandic seafood. Editorial Copyrights: Peter LeonardVisitors can relax in the restaurant’s cozy booths while munching on salted cod, burnt langoustines or the Malaysian blackened monkfish with a lobster spring roll.SjavargrillidEditorial copyrights: clyangtwYou are probably going to need a reservation well in advance for dining out at Sjavargrillid (Seafood Grill), that is how popular this restaurant is. Sjavargrillid impresses its guests with its luxurious ambience with an equally outstanding quality of relishing seafood. It's not just the seafood here, but also the delectable lamb cuisine alongside their signature three-course lunch and fish of the day which dazzles the palate. This restaurant is arguably the best spot for a perfect romantic dinner date while in the city.Matur og DrykkurEditorial copyrights: rcribb1Focused strongly on locally sourced products, Matur og Drykkur is one of those innovative restaurants in the city which has been successful in serving traditional Icelandic dishes with a modern edge. Apart from the ancestral dish of fermented shark, the chef and his team here dig deep into old Icelandic grandmother-kind-of-recipes prepared with an avant-garde twist. Editorial copyrights: anthony rueOne of the must-haves in Matur og Drykkur is the chicken-flavored cod’s head with sugar kelp and birch syrup; also, the double-smoked lamb accompanied by a buttermilk-nutmeg dip is worth your penny. Interestingly, Matur og Drykkur is becoming a favorite among the local and international connoisseurs.Baejarins Beztu PylsurEditorial copyrights: /Shutterstock.comNot in the league of comfy, luxurious restaurants with high-end interiors and haute cuisines, what sets apart Baejarins Beztu Pylsur from other eateries is its rich 80-year history, making it as one of the prime hot dog destinations in the entire country. If you might question the hype of small roadside food joint, you will change your mind when you see the line forming in front of it. This stand is famous for an Icelandic version of hot dog comprising of pork, beef, and lamb.Editorial copyrights: /Shutterstock.comFor an authentic experience, try out the famous “the works” hot dog made up of Ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onions and a special roumalade. You can estimate this food joint’s popularity with the fact that even former US president Bill Clinton had stopped by for relishing such legendary hot dogs.Start tailoring your itinerary to sample the best of Reykjavik's (and probably all of Iceland's) food scene.

South Africa Travel: Best Things to do in Johannesburg

After covering the best things to do in Cape Town, we shift our attention to Johannesburg, more commonly known as Jo’burg, Jozi, Egoli or City of Gold (because of its mines). A rapidly changing city and the vibrant heart of South Africa, it’s currently the most visited city of the African continent in terms of sheer numbers, and for a good reason. With the multitude of places to see and fun things to do, everyone is bound to find something that thrills and excites them. Visiting the city and its highlights is best done with a qualified guide. We strongly recommend a local travel expert who can show you around and introduce you to Joburg’s most interesting activities.Our comprehensive guide of the best things to do in the city will help you to kickstart the proceedings. Visit the Apartheid museumEditorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comApartheid has always been and will remain a significant part of South Africa’s turbulent history. The museum is an absolute must-see for anyone who wants to know more about the rise and fall of South Africa’s brutal era of segregation and oppression.Editorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comEditorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comThe museum is well spread out over various rooms, and your visit will be a highly informative one, with everything explained by text, audio, artifacts and live accounts that will provide a chilling insight into the architecture and implementation of the apartheid system. Guides will also tell rousing stories of the struggle towards democracy and you will learn how inequalities and tensions still exist today.Maboneng PrecinctEditorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comAfter the museum, head to the Maboneng Precinct—an exhilarating and rejuvenated quarter known for art, cutting-edge cuisine, and a collaborative, creative atmosphere. (Maboneng is a Sotho word for 'place of light'.)While you’re there make sure to dine at the trendy eatery, the Canteen, on the rooftop terrace. Watch an indie film or a rare cult classic in the Bioscope Independent Cinema, or head out to Common Ground, a swish urban park known for its shopping, recreation and open-air concerts.Take a Soweto Township tourEditorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comIf there is one township in South Africa you must visit, it is Soweto, which is short for South Western Township (located, as you guessed, in the south-western part of Johannesburg). Soweto is not the archetypal shanty town, but is actually a pulsating and popular residential area of Johannesburg.Editorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comTake a guided tour (don't try this alone, for safety's sake) around this energetic hub which will ignite your senses and immerse you in true South African culture. And there are plenty of things to do in Soweto. You can also take leisurely bike rides through the township, learn about its rich history, culture, food, and modern life; stop at Nelson Mandela’s former residence on Vilakazi Street. After your cultural excursions are complete, browse the street market or make a quick stop for a beer at a local brewery.Editorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comEditorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comAlso expect a lot of historic sites; first, you’ll stumble upon the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, where South Africa's Freedom Charter (a document used to help draft the country's Constitution) was signed in 1955. Another important destination is the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, which highlights the political upheaval that ravaged the area throughout the apartheid days, and honors the martyrs of the Soweto Uprising.Have fun at Gold Reef CityEditorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comGold Reef City is a theme park entirely based around the gold rush and is one of the biggest parks in South Africa. With Johannesburg sitting at the heart of the gold and diamond mining industry in South Africa, one should surely visit the amusement park to learn about the historic and cultural significance of the lucrative industry in a fun yet enlightening way.Editorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comThe main attraction is the themed amusement park built on the site of an old gold mine. It’s a perfect destination for the entire family (especially kids), with a variety of action-filled activities like thrilling rides, period costumes and exciting live demos, along with a museum dedicated to gold mining. A unique combination of exciting entertainment with some educational history, in other words.Ellis Park StadiumEditorial Copyrights: CharlesWith over 60,000 seats, Ellis Park is a spiritual home of Jo’burg rugby, and has played host to a number of momentous sporting events in South Africa’s history. Who can forget the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, where the Invictus Springboks (South African rugby team) were crowned champions?Editorial Copyrights: George M. GroutasIt is located at the center of a sporting district, and local sports fanatics believe a Saturday afternoon visit to the stadium to watch a game of rugby is no less than a religious experience. The stadium has also played host to a number of local and international football games including 5 FIFA World Cup matches, and hosted teams such as Brazil, Manchester United and Arsenal. Apart from sports, the arena has also hosted large open-air events and international concerts for famed stars such as Whitney Houston and the Rolling Stones.Jazz at Katzy’s & Eat at the GrillhouseEditorial Copyrights: South African TourismNightlife in Jozi is always dynamic and vivacious; it is an energetic city that is young at heart and the nightlife doesn’t disappoint. Learn about the best pubs, clubs, and dance and party spots in Johannesburg from your  local travel expert. Pubs, shebeens (tavern), night clubs, cocktail lounges; you name it, there something for everyone. If you’re looking to spice up your weekend plans, then one such unique place to hangout is the loveliest jazz club in town called “Katzy's”.  This swank den gets full points for recreating the old-school vibe of New York Jazz Clubs with mellow, live jazz music.Editorial Copyrights: George M. GroutasIf you feel hungry, there are plenty of scrumptious platters lined up at the Grillhouse (Johannesburg’s most loved and well established premium steakhouse) next door. Have our local expert book you reservations so that you experience great food, a huge collection of fine wines and malts, and to top it off, stellar service!Go shopping in Sandton and RosebankEditorial Copyrights: AdaminaThe saying “shop till you drop” really does apply to Johannesburg, home to a loads of markets and malls; whether you like malls or love a street market, you can get your fix of retail therapy in Jo’burg. We highly recommend the ‘Mall of Rosebank’ (one of the prime malls of the city). Next door to the mall is the African art & craft market, with lots of little shops offering handicraft items from all over Africa.Editorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comIf you are looking for high-end takeaways, then we urge you to head over to the Sandton City Mall nearby, which is also conveniently close to the Nelson Mandela square where you can find a lot of exclusive restaurants. There is a huge 20-foot statue of Nelson Mandela overlooking the whole square.Explore the street market too!Editorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comFrom indoors, let’s move outdoors into the street market scene of Johannesburg, which are full of fun finds and cultural souvenirs, from specialty cheeses to fashion lines from emerging designers – so much to explore!Editorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.comWe strongly recommend checking out the Market on Main or Bryanston Organic Market. Fresh produce, deli foods, baked goods, arts, crafts, clothing, jewellery and alternative medicines, you’ll find it all here. Also you can flock down to the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. Every Saturday morning, this market offers farm-fresh foods and specialty goods. It is a great place to spend a Saturday morning with friends, enjoying the local community and energy of Jo'burg.Stop for a cup of coffeeWhile Cape Town is known to be the coffee capital of South Africa, Johannesburg is a close second. Try out some of these hip coffee spots; again, ask your travel expert. Every coffee connoisseur must stop at The Grind Coffee Company, a local shop brewing the newest in caffeinated trends: coffee served in a chocolate-lined waffle ice cream cone. Also try Father Coffee, an intercity hotspot in Braamfontein and Rosebank that offers great coffee (they say the best) as well as pastries and snacks.Visit the Lion Safari ParkBefore you depart, you must see Johannesburg’s Lion Park. It’s a great place to get close to the King of the Jungle with kids. Go fot a game-park ride with the family; the park is considered to be a top breeding ground for Africa’s most incredible wildlife. Customize a trip to South Africa with a travel expert right here, and make sure to include Joburg in it; you won't be disappointed.

Iceland Travel: Things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Home to gigantic volcanic peaks, wondrous sea cliffs, sweeping black beaches and sensational basalt columns, Snaefellsnes is also known as an "Iceland in Miniature". Spanning around 100 km in length, a visit to the fascinating landscape of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is merely a 2-hour drive from the capital city of Reykjavik, making it as an ideal destination for a day trip.Connect with our travel experts in Iceland and head over; here are some absolute must-dos while visiting in and around Snaefellsnes.Exploring the Vatnshellir CavesThe peninsula is home to hundreds of hidden caves, and Vatnshellir is a standout among all of them. This cave was carved out of molten lava beneath the glacier and has a lot of fantastic speculation attached to it (in true Icelandic style), one of them being it's the passage to the Center of the Earth. Astonishingly, Vatnshellir is an 8000-year-old lava tube going 100 feet below the surface of the Earth. Don’t miss a 50 minute guided tour of this extraordinary cave that holds some of nature’s best-kept secrets.ArnarstapiOnce a prominent harbor, Arnarstapi is now a popular summer escape for tourists. The cliff-face, the endless lava fields are a beautiful artwork of nature, so keeo that camera handy. You can also hike the old horse trail that runs 1.5 miles along the coast to another splendid village called Hellnar.Alluring with epic coastal views, sea caves and layers of lava rocks, Arnarstapi my turn out to be one of your favorite stops on your Snaefellsnes drive.Raudfeldsgja GorgeJust five minutes drive from Arnarstapi is the beauteous gorge of Raudfeldsgja, which is actually a deep rift extending about 100 feet into the mountain. While one can easily make their way through the crack of this giant gorge to find a beautiful cave, you'll have to go further for adrenaline-spiking activities: a short climb up a moss-covered rock face (non-skid shoes are mandatory) and you'll find the hidden waterfall in the rift. Raudfeldsgja Gorge is nothing short of a fairytale experience, exemplary of rugged beauty in the Snaefellsnes area.Seal Spotting at Ytri TungaYtri Tunga is one of the popular sandy beaches of the area, known exclusively for its seal spotting activities, of both, the common seal and the slightly larger Grey Seal. The seals are quite friendly and curious, so don’t be alarmed if you happen to see one gamboling after you. Seal spotting is at its peak in the months of June, July, and August, when the whole beach abounds with these adorable creatures.Tasting the Traditional Dish at the Bjarnarhofn Shark MuseumWhile in Snaefellsnes, visiting the shark museum at Bjarnarhofn and sampling the exotic Hakarl (fermented shark meat) is not to be missed. Incidentally, Hakarl happens to be Iceland's national dish, made by the fermentation of a Greenland shark (the fermentation helps neutralize the toxins). It must be noted that people sensitive to the pungent smell of petrified shark meat might have a hard time. Apart from tasting this gem of Icelandic cuisine, take a personal tour of the museum where you can see the actual process of fermentation. Visit the town of StykkisholmurSituated in the north of Snaefellsnes is the small gorgeous town of Stykkisholmur, which charms its visitors with old colorful buildings. Also, don’t miss out on the boat tour of the surrounding cliff-faces and bird-life that lives there. Fresh catch is yanked up on the homeward jouirney and served fresh to guests as Viking Sushi (worth the price of the ticket). As a bonus, the entire town is wifi enabled; connect with your pals at home and brag about your brilliant Iceland trip in realtime.Djupalonssandur BeachWhether it's a gentle walk against a backdrop of dramatic rock formations, or the need for a worthy Instagramable location, look no further than Djapalonssandur Beach, located at the end of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. This black sand beach is notorious for its wicked waves and currents that have claimed a couple of ships in the history (so no swimming, even if the Arctic waters don't faze you). Some rusty metal pieces of shipwrecks can still be seen scattered across the beach. Still, it has charm by the spadefuls.Snaefellsjokull glacierStanding at an imposing height of 4750 feet, Snaefellsjokull is doubtlessly the highlight of your tour to the peninsula. It was the backdrop of Jules Verne’s well-known novel, ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’; Snaefellsjokull is also an active volcano and is believed to be one of the seven greatest energy centers on the planet. You can drive your way up to the glacier and trek the edge of the snowline; we strongly recommend a snow-mobile jaunt on the clear untramelled snow (even in summer). You can also hike this phenomenal glacier with an experienced guide. On a bright clear day, one can easily spot the Snaefellsjokull Glacier from Reykjavik.Gerduberg Basalt ColumnsConsidered the longest of all the basalt column belts in Iceland, Gerduberg is one of those marvels of nature, sculpted by wind erosion into stacks of perfect hexagons. The basalt columns are generally 50 feet high, standing side by side like an army of pillars with unbelievable regularity. Although there are paths leading to the top, a hike along the base of this incredible geological structure is the better and more picturesque of the two experiences.Kirkjufell One of the most iconic landmarks of the Snaefellsnes peninsula (and the most photographed) is the cone-shaped Kirkjufell, perfectly picturesque with green slopes and cascading waterfalls. If lucky, you can even spot the adorable wild Icelandic horses galloping across its lower sloped. Plan and customise your Iceland trip here, and be sure to include a tour of this magical north-west part of Iceland.