Seychelles – The Paradise Islands

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Before visiting the Seychelles, I had heard a great deal about these alluring tropical islands. A remote island archipelago located in the Indian Ocean north east of Madagascar, the Seychelles has attracted visitors from all over the world for over 40 years – mainly due to the islands many beautiful beaches, spectacular mountain scenery, lush vegetation, and unique flora and fauna. After sending many travellers to the islands for honeymoons, family holidays and beach breaks, it was high time that I visited the Seychelles myself. And who better to visit with than my husband and my 18 month old daughter. It may come as a surprise that the Seychelles not only offers luxury resort accommodation (out of the budget range for most travellers), but also plenty of mid-range guesthouses and self-catering apartments & chalets. Since we were travelling with an infant, we opted for self-catering allowing us to be flexible and to fit with her schedule.

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Our arrival on Mahe Island was in the evening so we missed the chance to see the stunning scenery en-route to our accommodations on the south east coast, Chalets D’Anse Forbans. But upon waking the next morning, we quickly discovered that we were indeed in paradise. Palm trees line the pristine beach of Anse Forbans and, heading down to the beach for our first swim of the holiday, we did not see another footprint in site! Anse Forbans is quite possibly one of the most beautiful beaches and bays that I have ever seen….and hardly a soul around! The bay is perfect for swimming when the weather is calm and there is great snorkelling just off the beach. If that’s not enough, during the months of October to January Hawksbill turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs, and a couple of months later they eggs hatch with hundreds of tiny turtles scuttling to the sea.

The owners of Chalets D’Anse Forbans are hospitable and friendly and they went out of their way to help us plan our few days on the island. They suggested renting a car for a day so that we could explore what the rest of Mahe Island has to offer. Setting out in the morning we ventured up the west coast stopping along the way at the many incredible beaches and bays to take photographs and have a quick swim. The island changes so much from the South to the North that it’s well worth exploring by car – we found lots of hidden coves with nobody in site; we drove up through the spectacular mountain passes; and we enjoyed a sundowner drink on one of the islands most scenic beaches, Anse Intendance.

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Our journey in the Seychelles took us to the island of Praslin next. Off we headed by local ferry, an efficient and easy way to travel between the islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. An hours trip on choppy seas (don’t forget the sea sick tablets!) and we arrived at the port. It seemed that we were in a totally different country. Praslin revolves almost completely around tourism and all the people of the island are very laid-back, the population a fraction of what it is on Mahe. Less mountainous than Mahe, but just as gorgeous, Praslin is easy to get around on the local bus network so travellers can explore the many stunning beaches and hidden coves by local transport and on foot. Travelling with a toddler, we decided to rent a car explore the island by car. As on Mahe we were struck by the beauty of the island and also the lack of people on so many of the beaches. It was easy to get away from the ‘crowds’ and find our own private beach were we spent the day playing in the waves, snorkelling, catching crabs and building sandcastles. Many of the beaches are wild and remote, while others are line with resorts….but even on these ‘resort lined’ beaches, it’s easy to find a private spot. Locals stay pretty much to themselves and, unlike in other African island destinations, tourists don’t get hassled by hawkers trying to sell over-priced but cheaply produced souvenirs.

Praslin has its share of resorts and luxury hotels catering to the rich, but just as on Mahe Praslin has plenty of locally run guesthouses and well-equipped self-catering apartments. We spent five wonderful days at L’Hirondelle directly opposite the well-known white sand beach of Cote D’Or.  This area is the tourist hub of Praslin lined with shops, restaurants, and dive centres. Day trips to the nearby islands of Curieuse, St Pierre, Cousin, and Aride can also be arranged. We decided to visit Cousin Island, a nature sanctuary and one of the most important nesting sites for hawksbill turtles in the western Indian Ocean. The island is also home to Aldabra giant tortoises, skinks, an indigenous green gecko, Fairy terns, lesser noddies, Frigate birds and plenty of other birds. A one hour boat trip from Praslin and we arrived on Cousin – we enjoyed a fascinating two hour guided tour. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip being able to experience an island that is completely devoted to nature and inhabited by humans, apart from a handful of researchers.

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The Seychelles is without a doubt a destination that suits any type of traveller – it lends itself to exploratory travel as much as the more conventional resort stay. And it attracts nature lovers, golfers, hikers, divers, honeymooners, romantics, and those looking to relax and get away from it all. The laid-back people, the all year round warm weather, the white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters, the ease of getting around, and the huge range of accommodations available make it the perfect island getaway!

For more information about Janine’s holiday and the Seychelles islands please contact Janine on


East Africa – 10th Birthday Special

Come and celebrate Asilia Camps 10th birthday by staying in any Asilia Camp or Lodge in Tanzania, Zanzibar or Kenya and enjoying every 3rd night free between 1st September 2014 and 30th June 2015.

*conditions apply

Please contact us for more information on these and other specials’

Experiencing Cape Town

Cape Point

You could easily mistake an aerial view of the Cape Peninsula for a panoramic view of Never-never Land. At the centre of Never-never Land is Table Mountain, standing as a timeless figurehead in all its glory, while all around it, the surrounding rocky coastline protrudes out of crystal azure seas. Take this still picture and add the dynamic movement of the tides, currents, clouds, and weather and you have a breathless 10,000 ft bird’s eye view of the fairyland that is the Cape Peninsula and its surrounding lands.

If the Peter Pan viewpoint doesn’t suit you, let’s examine Cape Town logically. The people are busy here and actively engaging in the finer points to life. Important things like cycling, hang-gliding, running, surfing, eating out, and rock climbing are never far from their minds — less important things are not allowed to get in the way. A multitude of various adventures and sight-seeing opportunities are within easy driving distance from most parts of Cape Town and its surrounding suburbs, so much so that some Capetonians don’t seem to travel to any other parts of the country.

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It’s a real challenge for a couch lover to find excuses to stay at home here. There’s just no time to lounge on the couch. Yes, the sea can get cold on the west side. That’s no excuse, you can buy a wetsuit. Yes, the weather is temperamental, but if you’re not careful you’ll miss out. Just because it’s raining down on you in the southern suburbs, and you can’t see your hand in front of your face for all the mist, you’ll soon realise that ten kilometres either way will probably put you back in the sun zone. When the west side is horrid, the east side is great.

You haven’t really lived until you’ve spent some quality time on the beautiful beaches of Llandudno, Noordhoek, Kommetjie, and Scarborough. If you haven’t had a coffee or a cocktail looking out over Camps Bay with the rocky cliffs of Table Mountain behind you, you’ve missed out. If you have, you’ll want to do it again.

Weather bad? Rain often means good surf at Muizenberg! You see, I see the world through the eyes of a surfer and a regular beach-goer. The peninsula has certain advantages that aren’t available to the sea lover in other parts of the country. I grew up on beaches in the Eastern Cape, and for a time, on the north coast. If the wind wasn’t blowing from the right direction, or the weather was inclement, there was nothing else to do but stay home and pull out the Playstation. I spent a number of years away from the coast, and so the move to Cape Town was like coming back home…

…except it isn’t home: it’s Never-never Land. It’s an endless adventure filled with possibilities I’ve not found elsewhere.

This is what I love most about Cape Town and its surrounding areas: its unparalleled beauty, its scope of opportunity, and its tendency to keep you busy doing the good things in life. What a great way to bring up my young boy! What a great place to spend my life with my family and friends!

A Day in the Pilanesberg


As we headed towards the Pilanesberg National Park, I was reminded of how close it is to Johannesburg and Pretoria. Only a 2 hour drive and one leaves behind the hustle and bustle of the city and enters a wildlife haven. The main attraction of the park, apart from the wildlife of course, is the fact that it is quick and easy to get to, making it an easy add-on to any itinerary for those who do not have time to visit the Kruger Park or one of the other wildlife reserves further afield. It is also a short drive from the famous Sun City Resort which attracts hundreds of visitors each year.

The park has a rich array of southern African wildlife including lions, elephants, black & white rhinoceros, African buffaloes, leopards, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles. And it is home to over 360 bird species. On our recent visit there, we kept our eyes open trying to spot the big game – we saw plenty of elephant, zebra, giraffe and other small game, but the predators eluded us that day. So, we decided instead to focus on the smaller things, of which there are many. A great way to enjoy the reserve and spot some of the smaller creatures is to stop at one of the many hides in the park.  Many of the hides overlook the vast lake in the middle of the park, and these hides create an excellent vantage point to view wildlife without being noticed. Upon arrival at one of the hides, we noticed a hippo snoozing in the water below the hide – nothing unusual about that. But on further inspection we saw that terrapins were using the hippos back as a resting spot, as if it was a huge stone! That’s something I have never seen before…..when one terrapin moved off, another popped its head out of the water, swam towards to the hippo, and climbed aboard. Astonishing!

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Another fascinating sighting was a pied kingfisher that had caught a fish that was almost the size of his entire body. The kingfisher perched on a branch of a dead tree in the lake nearby to the hide, and we watched for about 30 mins while, fish in beak, it ‘smacked’ the fish on the tree branch over and over again, until finally it swallowed it whole, and flew off. The only guess we had as to why it ‘smacked’ the fish for so long was that it was trying to remove its scales before eating the fish. Nature has its reasons.

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The amazing sightings reminded me that no matter how often I have visited this and other wildlife reserves, there is always something new and incredible to see. If you would like to visit this small, but beautiful reserve, there are a number of fantastic lodges in the area – ask us to recommend one that will suit you. To learn more about the Pilanesberg National Park, please

The Elephants of Ruaha


Ruaha is Tanzania’s largest National Park and forms the heart of a unique and large ecosystem, with over 4 million hectares of protected areas. Ruaha is home to an extraordinary diversity of species, and it is Tanzania’s National Park with the largest population of elephants. The current global ivory poaching crisis has seen a massive impact on elephant numbers across Africa. Most experts estimate that more than 30,000 were poached in 2012 across Africa. In Tanzania, which is said to have the second largest population of elephants in Africa after Botswana, this has a notable impact.

The PAMS FOUNDATION, a not-for-profit conservation organisation operating in Tanzania since 2009, recently formed the Ruaha Protection Project. This project was initiated last year and through it they aim to provide support to the Ruaha Ecosystem in order to safeguard Tanzania’s largest remaining elephant population as well as a very impressive variety of associated species which share this exceptional habitat. They have begun supporting rangers in Ruaha through providing advanced training on anti-poaching; establishing an informer network in communities adjacent to the National Park for the gathering and analysis of intelligence information needed for enabling effective preventive actions against poacher networks; providing incentives for exemplary performance; and training and certification of rangers as walking safari guides.

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In June and August 2013 The PAMS Foundation, in partnership with TANAPA (Tanzanian National Parks), helped train 40 TANAPA rangers in tactical and combat anti-poaching skills in the Ruaha National Park. These rangers now form four special Rapid Response teams that are currently operating in the Ruaha ecosystem and to date have had substantial success in combatting elephant poaching. Toni Krook visited Krissie Clark and Wayne Lotter (the founding members of PAMS) in the Ruaha National Park in August 2013 and experienced what the project was all about:

“I was fortunate to spend a few days in the Ruaha National Park. This picturesque park shared with me many very special moments and heaps of spectacular wildlife sightings. I was completely blown away! I was equally blessed, in being able to spend some time watching the new TANAPA rapid response recruits being trained in advanced anti-poaching techniques. Coming up against poachers who may armed with automatic rifles, means that the training the recruits receive, could well be the difference between life and death. I was in awe of the passion and dedication these recruits display. Only the toughest recruits made it all the way through to the end of the intensive seven week training program….this also include some courageous and determined female recruits. It was a good feeling leaving the training grounds, knowing that the future of the wildlife in Ruaha National Park had a fighting chance against the massive poaching onslaught that Africa is currently experiencing. These brave men and women together with organizations like the PAMS Foundation might just mean that our children and grandchildren still get to see the big five on the plains of Africa.”

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You can HELP elephant conservation by donating equipment, or funds needed for:

  • Operations (infield anti-poaching patrols and operations against ivory traders)
  • Rewarding informers
  • Field equipment
  • Aviation fuel
  • Procuring vehicles
  • Management and administrative costs.

Should you wish to help or partner with the project in any way, however small or big, please contact us?

Captivating Uganda

Uganda is a country with incredible natural scenery and a rich variety of ethnic tribes and cultures. Travelling through Uganda, you will be captivated by its beauty, abundant and diverse wildlife, and its people. The friendliness of Ugandans, and of course a chance to see some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in their natural environment, is the reason why so many people visit this beautiful country.

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Trekking through the lush virgin forests to try and get a glimpse of the mountain gorilla was without a doubt the main reason for my visit to Uganda. But what I was not expecting was how much more the country had to offer. My first introduction to the forests of Uganda was an incredible walk in the Kibale forest. Located in Western Uganda, not far from the mysterious ‘mountains of the moon’ or Rwenzoris as they are more commonly known, Kibale Forest has a thriving population of Chimpanzees. Not knowing much amount about Chimpanzees in the wild, I had no idea what to expect from this experience. From the moment we entered into the forest, we heard the ‘piercing’ cries of the chimps, used to warn other chimps of danger, the danger being us! As the chimps got closer however, they ‘recognized’ our guide and were no longer so vocal (every day the local forest guides and rangers spend time walking in the forests with the chimps in close proximity to try to habituate them so that visitors can view these incredible animals from a safe distance without fear of an attack). I was amazed at how close we got to one family group of chimpanzees – there were about 15 of them and one minute they were up in the trees above our heads, the other they were on the ground moving fast through the forest and we practically had to run to keep up. At no point, however, did we feel threatened…….although the guides always made sure that we maintained a safe distance!

Trekking through the Kibale forest with the chimpanzees is one of the most memorable experiences I have had in all my Africa travels and I recommend including it to anyone visiting Uganda. Combine this activity with a stay at theKibale Forest Lodge, offering ‘rustic’ luxury and with outstanding views of the distant Ruwenzori Mountains, and you will not be disappointed.

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Seeing the mountain gorillas in their natural environment was the next stop on our Ugandan adventure, and this activity is something I have been dreaming of experiencing for as long as I can remember.  As we headed further towards the mountainous region of the Bwindi reserve, the forests got thicker and the roads got steeper! Thank goodness we had a good guide as the roads in Uganda are not roads that you would want to negotiate on your own…..muddy at times and steep, with crazy drivers overtaking on blind corners along the mountainous passes. Safely we arrived at our beautiful lodge in the forest, Bwindi Volcanoes Lodge, ready for our strenuous trek into the mountains the next day.

Early in the morning we set out with our ranger and our small group of 8 people into the forests in order to find a particular family group of mountain gorillas. Viewing time with these animals is limited to only one hour so we made sure we were in the front of the group so we could get as close as possible. After only one hours walk (which is very unusual and can take up to 5-8 hours to find the group) we stumbled upon the group we were looking for, and luckily for us they we right in the open and lazing about, the little ones clambering over each other playing and swinging from branch to branch.  Mesmerized, I sat watching their interactions with awe until out of the thick brush from my left came a crashing sound that made me almost jump out of my skin! The silverback gorilla & head of the troop had appeared out of nowhere, his main role to protect his family from danger….again that being us! But as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared again under a ticket of tangled branches and shrubs and fell soundly asleep secure in the knowledge that we were not going to pose any threat. So we had the rest of the hour to enjoy our time with the females and their offspring… hour that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

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To find out more about Uganda and trekking with the mountain gorillas and chimps, please contact