The traveller’s guide to the best time to visit Sri Lanka

Apart from its warm weather throughout the year, known the world over as one of the largest producers of unconventional tea, and the friendly and hospitable nature of the Sri Lankan people, Sri Lanka is a melting pot of diversity dating as far back as the 1500s. From the beaches to the mountains and everything in between, you are bound to be overwhelmed by the innate beauty this country possesses. You might also be surprised when you discover the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo credit: @alex02my via Instagram

Weather in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has two seasons, the dry season, between December and February, and the wet season between June and August. The island’s climate is tropical, hot, humid and heavily influenced by the warm surrounding Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka’s proximity to the equator means that temperatures remain fairly constant year-round, however, the weather is heavily affected by both the northeastern and southwestern monsoons during the monsoon seasons.

Temperatures range between 15°C in the mountains and 30°C on the northeastern coast and get cooler as you gain altitude, whereas temperatures on the coast of Colombo on the Southwestern coast range between 27°C and 29°C all year round with highs of 30°C and lows of 22°C

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo credit: @assi_sunstylemirissa via Instagram

The north sees the warmest temperatures around the beginning of the year ranging between 24°C and 33°C. This area has been known to reach temperatures of 40°C.

The island sees rainfall throughout the year although it varies quite drastically starting from as low as 1,250mm on the northeastern side of the island and increasing as much as 5,000mm on the southwestern side of the island. While there is rainfall year round, there are two distinct monsoon seasons. The southwestern monsoon from May to July, and the northeastern monsoon from October to December.

Southwestern monsoon season: May to July

As it suggests, this southwestern monsoon travels through the southwestern part of the island. The monsoon is heavily influenced by the Indian Ocean with most of the rain falling on the southwest corner of Sri Lanka such as Colombo and Galle, and into India.

Although the southwestern monsoon is, for the most part, the more gentle of the two with mainly short and sharp showers that tend to pass quite quickly, this monsoon has been known to cause weather-related disasters such as harsh winds and cyclones.

Inter-monsoon season: July to September

Bar one or two showers, this is definitely one of the best times to visit Sri Lanka. The temperatures remain in the high 20s and the beaches are pleasantly warm and dry.

Northeastern monsoon season: October to December

The northeastern monsoon is heavily influenced by a low-pressure area or depression from the Bay of Bengal with most of the rain falling on the northeast slopes of the central highlands. Kandy, which is situated just north of the highest mountains is affected by both monsoons but receives almost double the amount of rain during the northeast monsoon season. In fact, the lowlands of the north and east receive most of their annual rainfall during this season. The northeast monsoon brings the coolest temperatures and affects more of the country than the southeastern monsoon.

So, when is the best time to visit Sri Lanka? Well, technically, you can visit any time of the year as long as you are impartial to a bit of rain.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo credit: @_cameralens234 via Instagram

Average temperature (°C) & rainfall (mm) per month

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 22 23 24 25 26 26 25 25 25 24 23 23
High °C 31 31 32 32 31 30 30 30 30 30 30 30
Rainfall (mm) 62 69 130 253 382 186 125 114 236 369 310 168

Essentials to pack when visiting Sri Lanka

Since there are no predominant seasons in Sri Lanka other than hot and dry or hot and wet, it is advised to carry as many of the below items which will come in handy as you travel through the various districts – whether it be the beachy lowlands, the cooler highlands or covering up while visiting a temple.  Whatever you decide to pack, light clothes made of natural fibres will be your best bet.

  • Summer dresses
  • Shirts and shorts
  • Raincoat
  • Umbrella
  • Scarf for cool evenings
  • Light sweater for cool evenings
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Swimming costume
  • Rubber-soled shoes for snorkelling in the reef
  • Beach towel
  • Sunblock
  • Sun hat

Please remember when entering the temples, it is customary to remove your shoes and to cover up the rest of your body.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo credit: @bold_in_gold via Instagram

Read up on a backpacker’s guide to Sri Lanka.

Daylight hours in Sri Lanka

During the winter or dry months, the sun rises between 06:05 and 06:30 and sets anytime between 17:50 and 18:20, giving you average daylight of around 12 hours a day.

The summer or wet months do not vary too much. The sun rises anywhere between 05:50 and 06:00 and sets anytime between 18:15 and 18:20 giving you average daylight of around 12.5 hours a day.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo Credit: @dinatank via Instagram

Sea temperatures

Some would say the best time to visit Sri Lanka would depend on the surf and sea. Well, fortunately, the sea temperatures in Sri Lanka are warm all year round ranging anywhere between 20°C and 28°C at any given time. The slight variation of temperatures is due to the monsoon seasons when the temperatures may drop ever so slightly.

How much are flights to Sri Lanka?

Peak Season: December-April

Peak season falls over the December/January months, the general peak season for South Africans to travel. School holidays means that families are able to get away for longer periods of time with their families. This also happens to fall over peak season to travel to Sri Lanka where the weather is perfect and sans monsoon rain. South Africans can expect to pay up to 18% more on flights over December to April months. Also remember that airports, hotels, and hotspots will be pricier and difficult to access with tourists from all over the world travelling over the same period. Make sure you book early to avoid exorbitant costs and very few options for availability.

Low Season: May-August

Low season falls over the South African winter period, May to August, which is just perfect. What better way to enjoy a bit more summer than escaping the South African winter? South Africans can expect to save as much as 20% on flights when travelling over this period. These savings could add an extra few days to your holiday or maybe just treating yourself and/or your loved ones to a bit more of a lux holiday.

The best way to ensure your flights and accommodation are at an all-time low is not only to book out of season, but also to book about three months in advance. Travelling costs will be a huge factor when deciding the best time to visit Sri Lanka so don’t leave your bookings to the last minute. 

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo credit: @vidutevida via Instagram

You might also be interested to know how to apply for your Sri Lankan visa.

Annual events in Sri Lanka

There is something for everyone on the island whether it be visiting a temple, walking through the tea plantations, or merely spending time on the beach. You are not likely to be at a loss of finding ways to keep yourself busy. Being a predominately Buddhist nation, however, means a large number of the annual festivals are of the religious and cultural variety. We have mentioned just a few of the events you may be interested in experiencing while in Sri Lanka.

1. Vesak Poya – Festival of lights: May

If religious and cultural experiences are what you are after, then plan your trip over the full moon during the month of May. Celebrated by Buddhists all over the world, this is one of the biggest events on the Buddhist calendar. Temples are filled with devotees and pilgrims from all over the country to celebrate this special event. Buddhists wear white and worship over flower lamp lights, and burn incense to commemorate the life of Lord Buddha on this holy day.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo Credit: @danu_snaps via Instagram

2. Sinhala and Tamil New Year: April

Sinhala or more commonly known as Avurudu is the celebration of the new year of the Sinhalese people. The new year is not only celebrated by the Sinhalese but also enjoyed by most of the inhabitants of Sri Lanka. This public holiday is celebrated over either 13 or 14 April at the first sighting of the new moon This new moon also marks the end of the harvest season and of spring. The beginning of Sinhala sees families carrying out rituals in exact timings from lighting fires to making traditional eats. Once the rituals are complete, families and children are seen out and about in the streets mingling, celebrating and feasting with fellow friends and family.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo credit: @shennperera via Instagram

3. See the elephant migrations to Minneriya: September

Book your trip early for this one because wildlife and photography enthusiasts from all corners of the world will be equally as anxious to witness the sighting of the single largest gathering of elephants in the world: a migration of 300 elephants! Also known as “The Gathering”, this natural phenomenon has been observed for centuries but is still one of the most astonishing reunions to observe. As the monsoon moves in over the forested districts, the elephants go in search of drier pastures and trek to a man-made reservoir known as Minneriya which was built in the 2nd century where they enjoy the lush green grass as the reservoir recedes. The monsoon then makes its way to Minneriya at which point the herds will make their way to another reservoir at Kaudulla National Park. The monsoon continues to follow and ends around November when the heard then makes its way back to the forest.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Photo credit: @smart_mems via Instagram

Perhaps now you have better clarity on the best time to visit Sri Lanka? It is certainly easy to see why hundreds of visitors flock to this beautiful paradise annually. In fact, some say Sri Lanka is the new Thailand.

Do you have any other tips which helped you decide on the best time to visit Sri Lanka? Please share them in the comments below.

Get ready to book your next dream holiday to Sri Lanka!

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The post The traveller’s guide to the best time to visit Sri Lanka appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Share your amazing travel stories with these apps

Why do you need to know the best apps to share your trip? Well, the second best thing after actually travelling, sightseeing, exploring and wanderlust-ing, is sharing the stories, pictures and videos that you collected along the way.

Our best content creation and sharing app picks

Using apps to share your trips may seem rather obvious, but with a little practice and the help of our handy app guide below, you’ll soon be creating incredible travel photos, videos and other fun types of content that you can share across social networks or even on your own blog! Plus, discover fun new books and places to explore…

Over

Ever wonder how people manage to add rad text to their images? Or perhaps how they’ve managed to create beautiful Instagram stories? Over is one of the apps that can help in this regard. The easy-to-use interface lets you import an image, add text and artwork and even get creative with techniques that would usually only be known to those with a degree in Photoshop.

The app is available on iOS and Android and is constantly evolving with new designs and artwork. The free version of the app has a lot of functionality, but for the full experience, sign up for the Pro version.

best apps to share your trip 1

READ: Download these apps for magical photo missions

Animation Desk

If you’re of the artistic variety, Animation Desk may be right up your alley! This app for mobile and tablets allows the user to create animations through digital drawings, transforming sketches into sequences using a variety of brushes and layers.

The app also allows video to be imported, creating a mash-up of video and sketch that offers a very unique and fun way to demonstrate your travel stories!

best apps to share your trip 1

Goodreads

If you see long-haul flights as an opportunity to catch up on all your reading, or whether you’re on the hunt for the sort of book that fuels your wanderlust, Goodreads can help. By allowing you to share your current and past reads, as well as curate the books you want to read, the app helps you find other authors and books.

Connect with friends and join groups to enrich your reading experience and the app will help you form a reading community that shares the same interests as you. The app’s catalogue is absolutely massive so if you’re looking for the perfect book on Timbuktu’s history or the tourists must-visits in Laos, you’ll find the ideal book.

READ: Trust these travel gadgets to make your next trip easier

best apps to share your trip 1

Tumblr

Interested in blogging, but don’t feel like dealing with the technical hassles? Tumblr is a fast, easy way to get short posts out with text, video, images and gifs. You can easily share other posts or respond with your own using the app. Plus, it’s easy to search for Tumblr blogs that cover the same interests as yours.

Tumblr posts can be shared to other social media networks, making it easy for family and friends to keep up to date with travels. This way, you can keep all your travel details together in one space, rather than losing them to Facebook’s algorithm.

Facebook Live

If you’re travelling for a special event, concert or festival, Facebook Live is a great way to share exactly what’s happening at the moment with your friends on Facebook. You can live stream using your smartphone and answer questions as friends post them on your video.

Pro tip: Start your live video a few minutes before the action is about to start wherever you are. This will give your friends a chance to log on and also pick up the notifications that you’ve started a live video. Try to keep your video shorter than 10 minutes, nobody has time for long-winded videos where nothing is happening!

best apps to share your trip 1

Google Trips

Not a huge fan of planning? Prefer to fly by the seat of your pants? Google Trips is an easy way to flesh out a day’s itinerary in a flash, offering up a destination’s top attractions, restaurants and things to do in an easy format.

All you need is a Gmail account, and the app will search your emails to find flight details, hotel reservations and other plans you may have already booked. It’ll pull this into the app and then give you suggestions based on where you’re staying!

best apps to share your trip 1

READ: 7 city apps that give you the key to explore

Evernote

Exploration can be overwhelming. Between museums, galleries and tours, you’re taking in way more information than you’ll ever be able to remember. That’s why note-taking can be an important part of your travels so that you have all the details in place when it’s time to type up your blog or that extra long Instagram caption.

Instead of carrying around a notebook, Evernote offers a multimedia note app that allows you to save pictures alongside notes, add in lists, links and even scans documents for later reference. Plus it syncs across all your devices, making sure you’ll never lose something.

Write-on Video

Don’t let anybody fool you, video editing is hard work! Write-on Video is an app that lets you cut clips from your smartphone, place them into the app and then use different effects to add a professional touch. It also allows you to add captions and subtitles, stickers, filters and music.

The app is also designed to adjust the aspect ratio of your video so you can export it in the perfect format for different social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Snapseed

Turning a ‘meh’ photo into something that catches people’s attention has been made a thousand times easier with Snapseed. The photo editing app has a huge variety of tools that let you adjust colour levels, exposure, structure, orientation and even edit out unwanted elements in an image.

The app also lets you apply a variety of subtle filters that look a lot more realistic than other social media apps, and even copy and paste settings across images for easy editing when it comes to more than one image.

best apps to share your trip 1

What are your best apps to share your trip, creating and sharing travel pictures, video and stories? Let us know in the comments below…

 

The post Share your amazing travel stories with these apps appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

30 Fun Things To Do In Pretoria For Free And Under R300

[Updated: 29 October 2018]

Pretoria holds its own with an amazing mix of cultural, outdoor and foodie experiences on offer. We discover 30 affordable, free and fun things to do in Pretoria and prove why it is a city that should be known for more than just jacaranda blossoms and the blue train. With monthly pop-up markets, free Zulu lessons, the longest urban street in South Africa, and some of the best mountain bike tracks, there are so many things to do in Pretoria. So, in no particular order:

1. Attend the Vibey Market @ The Sheds

markets in pretoria

Photo credit: @marketatthesheds via Facebook

weekend markets in pretoria

Photo credit: @marketatthesheds via Facebook

Visit this social market celebrating good vibes with tunes, people and sassy food like tacos in a kombi. It’s organised by the Capital Collective with the aim of rejuvenating Pretoria’s inner city and creating a space where everyone feels welcome.

The Market @ The Sheds takes place on the last Saturday of the month from 11:00 to 20:00. There are date changes in between to accommodate long weekends and holidays. For updates about the next pop-up market check out the Market @ The Sheds calendar.

Where: 012 Central, 381 Helen Joseph Street, Arcadia

Cost: R50 for adults, free for kids and Vespa drivers. Tables can be pre-booked for R150 (excludes entrance fee).

2. Tall Stories and Agatha Panther

Tall Stories and Agatha Panther

Photo credit: @TallStoriesBooks via Facebook

Just 20 minutes from Pretoria central is this haven for bibliophiles. They sell well-priced new books and very affordable second-hand ones on a wide range of topics. If you’re lucky, handsome feline, Agatha Panther, will be there to greet you.

Tall Stories is open every day of the week. From 9:00 to 19:00 Monday to Thursday, 9:00 to 20:00 on Friday, 9:00 to 18:00 on Saturday, and 9:00 to 17:00 on Sunday.

Where: Irene Village Mall, Cnr. Nellmapius & Pierre Van Reyneveld Roads

Contact: 012 662 2829

3. Join a Drumming Circle or Chill Out on a Sunday at Klitsgras

drumming pretoria

Photo credit: @klitsgras via Facebook

sunday events pretoria

Photo credit: @klitsgras via Facebook

Klitsgras Drumming hosts drumming sessions around a fire that is all about good vibes and good music. Try your hand at drumming or simply chill out with pizza and a beer while watching fire dancers dance to a didgeridoo and local musicians do their thing around a fire pit.

For a more easygoing day vibe, head there on Sunday for the Chillin’ Sunday sessions and kick back with acoustic bands, woodfired pizza or a pre-ordered picnic basket, and drinks under a gazebo. This event happens on the first Sunday of every month, except in January.

Where: Garsfontein Road

Cost: R50 for the drumming circle / R60 for Chillin’ Sunday

Contact: 083 311 0025

4. Take in the Whole Town with the Camera Obscura at the University of Pretoria

camera obscura

Photo credit: @marikapret via Instagram

The Camera Obscura (precursor to the modern camera) at Pretoria University is a marvellous invention allowing you to view the whole of Pretoria as you change the direction of the lenses and the view is projected in a darkened room. You’ll even be able to see birds and people scurrying around. It’s recommended that you visit in the mornings to see the best view of the city centre when it’s illuminated by the sunlight from the east. On a clear day, they say it’s possible to see vehicles on the pass in the Magaliesberg leading to Pretoria North.

Camera Obscura Tours are at 11:00 and 14:00 and are hosted at Sci-Enza, the oldest interactive Science Centre in Africa. Groups must be four or more people at a time. Bookings are essential for groups of 5 – 10 people.

Where: Roper Street

Cost: Free, but you are encouraged to place a donation in the Science-Enza Vortex Donation Exhibit.

Contact: 012 420 3767

5. Free Zulu Lessons at Grounded at Echo Café on Saturdays

grounded Cafe

Photo credit: @groundedatecho via Facebook

Grounded at Echo is a place for new ideas, community, and delicious coffee.

They also hold free introductory Zulu lessons from 9:00 to 10:00 every Saturday. The café is open from Monday to Friday from 6:00 to 18:00 and Saturdays from 8:00 to 15:00, closed on Sundays.

Where: Cnr. 24th Avene & Pierneef Street

Cost: R54 for a piece of carrot cake and coffee

Contact: 012 329 0159

6. Afro Boer

afro boer cafe pretoria

Photo credit: @AfroBoer via Facebook

This unique restaurant is chock full of attitude and delicious food. Order a glass of wine “for a whine”, enjoy the garden setting, breakfast, light or serious lunches, and of course, their incredible cakes. They change things up in the kitchen “to keep kitchen, ooms, tannies, and copy-cats on their toes”. Soon they plan to have breakfast and lunch takeaway boxes for picnics under the trees.

Open from 7:00 to 17:00 Monday to Saturday and from 8:00 to 16:00 on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Where: Cnr. Lynwood & Meerlust Roads, Equestria

Cost: About R100 for a drink and meal

Contact: 012 807 3099

7. Acrobatics in the trees with Acrobranch

acrobranch

Photo credit: @Acrobranch via Facebook

The Pretoria North park consists of 8 adrenaline packed obstacles, including Tarzan swings and a 300m long zip line that will end your amazing aerial adventure. Kids need to be 9 years and older and the courses are between R140 and R280 per person. You can take younger kids to Acrobranch in Centurion which has much smaller obstacles for the little ones. The courses are between R60 and R280.

The parks are open Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays from 9:00 to 17:00.

Contact: 086 999 0369

8. Visit the 1000-year-old Wonderboom fig tree

wonderboom nature reserve

Photo credit: @your_captain via Instagram

The Wonderboom is a fig tree over a 1000 years old which grew in such a way that 13 daughter trees sprung up around it forming a massive shaded area that spans 50 metres and can shelter up to 1000 people. It’s 23 metres high and a nature reserve has been built around it to protect it. There were also interesting Iron Age discoveries made near the tree and a fort built for protection against the British. Views from the Fort of Pretoria are exceptional.

The Wonderboom Nature Reserve is open from 7:00 to 16:00 in winter and 7:00 to 19:00 in summer (entrance to nature reserve will only be allowed until 1 hour before closing time).

Where: Lavender Road, Wonderboom

Cost: R31 for adults (13 years and older), R19 for kids aged 7 to 12 years, R11 for children younger than 6 years, and R20 for pensioners.

Contact: 012 341 5204

9. Best Italian at Alfie’s

italian restaurant pretoria

Photo credit: @Alfiespizzeria via Facebook

For authentic Italian, head to Alfie’s. Locals rave about Alfredo Fiachetti’s traditional Italian restaurant – the proof is that it’s always full, so remember to make a reservation. You can’t go wrong with bruschetta, fresh pasta, or a rack of lamb.

Where: 11 Hazelwood Road, Hazelwood

Cost: about R150-R200 for a drink and meal

Contact: 012 346 7873

10. Park Acoustics

park acoustics pretoria

Photo credit: @iamdebbiedeb via Instagram

The perfect way to outrazzle the Sunday blues. Park Acoustics is a monthly outdoor music festival that happens at the Voortrekker Monument and features some of the best local musicians.

Cost: Ticket prices vary depending on the event. It’s free for kids under the age of 6 and R15 per vehicle.

Website: Park Acoustics

Find and compare flights from Cape Town to Pretoria or flights from Durban to Pretoria!

11. Have a cold one at Capital Craft

Capital-Craft, Pretoria

Photo credit: @CapitalCraftFestival via Facebook

Craft beer fans will be in heaven, they add new beers to their collection regularly. Try their new black mushroom and white cheddar burger for vegetarians, or add a beef patty if you’re not. Their Van Coke Smoke burger is a winner, as is their BBQ pulled pork sandwich.

Open Monday & Tuesday from 12:00 to 00:00, Wednesday to Saturday from 10:30 to 00:00, and on Sunday from 10:30 to 20:00.

Where: Shop 20, Greenlyn Village Centre, Cnr. 12th Street East & Thomas Edison, Menlo Park

Cost: About R150 for a drink and meal

Contact: 012 424 8601

12. Picnic in front of the Union Buildings

union buildings pretoria

Photo credit: Wikipedia Republished

It’s practically always picnic weather in Pretoria (Pretoria can claim to be on average 2 degrees warmer than Joburg), so pack some picnic stuff and head to the gardens of the most famous buildings in South Africa. Be sure to visit the 9m statue of Mandela and take in the view.

Cost: Free

13. Explore Duncan Yard

duncan yard pretoria

Photo credit: @megfoster2 via Instagram

This is the place to pick up a unique antique or find the right gift in fashionable Hatfield. Breathe in the heavenly scent of fresh flowers from the “Florist @ Duncan Yard”, get your nails done, and lunch at Deli on Duncan or at Papa’s Real food. You could spend an entire afternoon here happily investigating all the little boutiques.

Where: Cnr. Prospect and Jan Shoba Streets, Duncan Street, Hatfield

14. Visit the Boeremark for the best vetkoek and pancakes in the world!

farmers market pretoria

Photo credit: @pikluvscupcakes via Instagram

Boeremark, Pretoria

Photo credit: @Boeremark via Facebook

Pretoria’s best kept secret and worth an early Saturday morning start.

The market is open on Saturdays from 05:30 to 09:30.

Where: Moreleta Street, Silverton

Contact: 079 987 1025

15. Cheer at Loftus

loftus stadium

Photo credit: @sonicaloots via Instagram

There’s nothing like the frisson in the air, the raucous cheers of fans, and the smell of sizzling boerewors when watching a team play on their home turf.

Where: 416 Kirkness Street, Arcadia

Cost: Tickets range in price from R10 to R250. Get your tickets on the Ticketpro website.

16. Visit Mrs. Ples

mrs ples

Photo credit: @liliyapoludnenko via Instagram

Pay a visit to Mrs. or indeed Mr. Ples, one of the most complete examples of a pre-human skull ever found. Mrs. Ples is a mighty 2.3 million-year-old skull you can visit at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (formerly the Transvaal Museum).

The museum is open every day from 8:00 to 16:00, except Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Where: 432 Paul Kruger Street

Cost: R35 for adults, R20 for children, R15 for pensioners

Contact: 012 492 5708

17. Challenge yourself at the Climbing Barn

the climbing barn

Photo credit: @_dan_cloete_ via Instagram

The Climbing barn is a well-established climbing facility with over 450m squared of climbing walls.

Open Monday to Thursday from 16:00 to 22:00, Fridays from 16:00 to 21:00, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00, and public holidays from 10:00 to 18:00.

Where: Plot 210, Korhaan Road, Mooiplaats

Cost: Day Pass R100 for adults, R90 for students, and R80 for scholars. R80 gear hire (harness, shoes, chalk bag). Beginner classes are also available.

Contact: 082 335 3220

18. Blue Crane Restaurant

Blue Crane Restaurant Panoramio

Photo credit: @bluecranerestaurantandbar via Instagram

The Blue Crane is a thatched restaurant that has an unbeatable setting with a sun deck by a lake in a bird reserve. Perfect for a lazy weekend lunch.

Their Sunday breakfast buffet is offered from 9:00 to 11:30, R105 for the Continental Selection or R125 for the Warm Traditional Selection. The lunch buffet menu changes every week, so give them a call on
012 460 7615/7 to find out what’s on offer this Sunday. Lunch starts at 12:30.

Where: 156 Melk Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk

Cost: About R160 for the main course only and between R235 and R290 for the full buffet.

19. Take a drive down the longest street in South Africa

church street pretoria

Photo credit: @khutazzo via Instagram

Pretoria boasts the longest urban street in South Africa and one of the straightest urban streets in the world. Stanza Bopape, Helen Joseph, WF Nkomo and Elias Motsoaledi streets (formerly all known as Church Street) are worth a drive to take in the buzz of the nerve centre of Pretoria, check out the historical buildings, and to reflect on the anti-apartheid struggle.

20. Go mountain biking in Groenkloof Park

groenkloof nature reserve

Photo credit: @chrslet via Instagram

Groenkloof Nature Reserve is the first and oldest game sanctuary in Africa. There’s a 20km mountain bike trail to explore and you might pass some curious giraffes and zebra as you navigate the reserve. Various guided horse trails are also available with a minimum of 4 horses and a maximum of 6 horses (pony trails for children are also available). Though generally safe, exercise caution when running or cycling alone and don’t leave valuables in your car.

Open from 5:30 to 19:00 in summer, and 7:00 to 18:00 in winter.

Where: Christina De Wit Avenue, Groenkloof

Cost: R38 for adults and R22 for children and pensioners

Contact: 012 358 1757/1720

21. Hazel Food Market, Menlo Park

hazel food market

Photo credit: @claire_hilliar via Instagram

Hazelwood Market

Photo credit: @hazelfoodmarket via Facebook

Firmly in its stride in its sixth year, this Saturday market is a staple at Greenlyn Village Centre. Nammie’s mini cakes are a must eat with a bullet-proof coffee. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try a jar of Stanley’s snails in French burgundy butter, parsley and garlic.

Open every Saturday from 8:00 to 14:00.

Where: Cnr. Thomas Edison and Mackenzie Streets, Menlo Park

Contact: 078 593 7716

22. Seek out the Urban Being Sculpture and Spirit of Tshwane

pretoria art

Photo credit: @gingersoo via Instagram

There is interesting outdoor art to be experienced, if only you know where to look. Marco Cianfanelli is the acclaimed sculptor responsible for the outstanding Mandela Capture Site monument. His Urban Being Sculpture stands at nearly 12 meters high, weighs 8.2 tons, and can be found at the front of the Pretoria City Lodge, The Fields, 407 Hilda Street. He says, ‘I am interested in making things that prompt a sense of the complexity of the present’.

The Spirit of Tshwane by Anton Smit can be found at Aramist Avenue, Menlyn Maine. The sculpture is designed to represent the spirit of the local Apies River (known as the Tshwane). The river is symbolised by flowing elements attached to the heads, but Tshwane also means ‘we live together, therefore, we are interdependent” which the sculptor asserts is symbolised by the two main heads growing from each other.

23. Enjoy the Jacaranda Trees in bloom

jacaranda trees

Photo credit: @nollanmoosa via Instagram

Yes, there is more to Pretoria than the beautiful purple aliens that line the streets giving hope to frantically cramming students each time a bud falls on their heads (legend has it that when the jacaranda blossom strikes, you’re sure to pass). But these iconic trees are in danger as they have been infected with a fungal condition, also because they are classified as aliens, no more can be planted to replace the diseased trees. So enjoy the jacarandas while they last. Nelson Mandela wrote about sitting under the jacarandas at lunch during the Treason Trial, “those moments under the shade of the jacaranda trees on the vicarage lawn were the most pleasant of the trial.”

24. Spoil yourself with a gourmet milkshake at Mustang Sally’s

milkshakes pretoria

Photo credit: @charlizeey_ via Instagram

Mustang Sally’s is an all American style diner that will make you feel as though you’ve just stepped into the 1950s. It is a feast for the eyes and a great place to kick back with a burger and pretend you’re on a great cross-country road trip, but the most special thing about this place is definitely the milkshakes. We recommend the Candy Floss or Nutella shake.

The diner is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11:00 to 21:00, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 to 22:00, and Sunday from 11:00 to 15:00.

Where: 1319 Pretorius Street, Hatfield

Cost: About R150 for a drink and meal

Contact: 083 535 4797

25. Attend the “Not a Dead Poetry Society”

live entertainment pretoria

Photo credit: @diedowedigters via Facebook

Die Dowe Digters was established four years ago by Andries De Beer as an informal platform for creative writers, poets, musicians, composers and songwriters to perform and network. It is now an important part of the Pretoria social fabric. The open mic/poetry starts at 8:00, followed by the band, then more open mic. Visit the Facebook page for updates on their events.

Where: The Blue Crane Restaurant and Bar

Cost: The cost varies depending on the event

26. To The Roots At Beautiful Pretoria Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens Pretoria Old Mutual Concerts

Photo credit: @ToTheRoots via Facebook

Formerly known as Old Mutual Music in the Gardens and now To The Roots, is a Pretoria music staple. Take a picnic blanket, some snacks and have a laid back afternoon enjoying the festive atmosphere and top South African music acts. You can find information about upcoming gigs and events on the Facebook page.

Where: Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden or Pretoria Botanical Gardens

27. Go on a Game Drive at the Rietvlei Game Reserve

rietvlei game reserve

Photo credit: @b33brenda via Instagram

Home to protected rhinos, this is the best bush break in a city (the largest game reserve within city borders in the world). Make use of the riverside picnic area, the bird hide and have breakfast or lunch at the café. It is interesting to note that the dam at Rietvlei supplies Pretoria with 15 % of its water supply.

Open from 5:30 to 17:00 in summer (September to March) and from 6:00 to 18:00 in winter (April to August).

Where: Nelmapious Drive, Centurion, Pretoria.

Cost: R55 for adults, R30 for children, and R32 for pensioners

Contact: 012 358 1811/2

28. Pretoria Banting Market

banting market pretoria

Photo credit: @bantingmarketpretoria via Instagram

The Banting market is set in the Botanical Gardens, so you can get your fix of healthy, high-fat, low-carb products while taking a relaxing stroll in a beautiful setting.

Open from 9:00 to 13:00 on the first Saturday of every month.

Where: 2 Cussonia Avenue

Contact: 079 527 4902

29. Meet on Milner, Waterkloof

meet on milner

Photo credit: @pdsmit via Instagram

Meet on Milner is great for adults and kids alike. Adults can wind down with a glass of wine, excellent fillet steak, live music, and convivial atmosphere while kids are entertained.

Where: Cnr. Long & Milner, Waterkloof

Contact: 083 627 8172

30. Take on Pretoria by bike

cycle tour pretoria

Photo credit: @capitalcollectivepretoria via Facebook

Capital Collective (ever active in revitalising Pretoria’s inner city) are involved with the City of Tshwane in creating a new cycling route that stretches from Brooklyn Mall to the Botanical Precinct along the Walkerspruit river. Healthy living in a revitalised Pretoria.

Website: capitalcollective.co.za

Compare and book your cheap flights to Pretoria!

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Capital Collective cycling route Pretoria

Many thanks to Candace Gawler for the insider tips.

The post 30 Fun Things To Do In Pretoria For Free And Under R300 appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Download These Apps for Magical Photo Missions

There’s only one thing that might be better than travelling, and that’s beautifully documented memories of said travels.

If you’ve ever wondered how some people’s Instagram feeds pop with gorgeous travel photos, or when to take the perfect picture, or how to edit an image to augmented beauty standards, you’re in for a crash course!

Download these apps to make sure your photography trips are planned to the last gorgeous sunset, and that your itinerary matches the life-changing phenomena you will inevitably capture.

 

1. TripIt

What you want to do before embarking on your photo mission, is to make sure that absolutely no part of your itinerary is left to chance. Tripit is an app that will compile a comprehensive itinerary for free! All you have to do is email all your electronic confirmations to the app and Bob’s your uncle! You have a one-glance itinerary that includes flights, accommodation, car rental, train rides, ferry trips, meetings, you name it! Tripit will also notify you of upcoming itinerary items in good time so that you’re never left stranded or worse… late.

2. Audible

Turn long-haul flights in story-time heaven with Audible. This Amazon audiobook app will provide you with hours of reading bliss while you head to your next destination. Simply log in with your Amazon account and choose anything from classics like Jane Austen and Mark Twain to Goosebumps or Enid Blyton! No Amazon account? No problem. Audiobooks.com is an awesome substitute. Sign up for your 30-day free trial and take your reading nook with you everywhere you go!

3. Lenstag

Camera equipment can be quite expensive and the last thing anyone wants is for their equipment to go missing. Lenstag offers global protection for your gear. Simply register your equipment down to serial numbers as well as photos of every item and travel worry-free! Should your equipment go missing, Lenstag will immediately check online for photo data posted with any of your equipment and immediately alert you. You can also use Lenstag to see which websites and other online platforms your images are on and to check how much your gear is worth. Pretty neat, right?

4. WiFi Finder

What good is taking gorgeous photos if you can’t share them in real time? Don’t let a lack of connectivity get your down. WiFi Finder will help you find fast Wi-Fi wherever you go. The offline functionality means you don’t actually need to be connected to use it. Simply whip out your phone and browse verified hotspots including the type of venue and Wi-Fi strength and speed. How’s that for convenience?

5. WeatherBug

Looking to capture dramatic shots? Make the most of misty skies and rainy days with WeatherBug. Get real-time weather updates from the largest network of professional weather stations every hour, on the hour. Browse anything from current conditions to 10-day forecasts, future lightning storms and snow storms to avoid. Prepare for severe weather conditions with alerts coming through 50% faster. You can also customize weather forecasts to your activities. Key in hiking, photography, sports plans, or even plans that involve pollen and allergies. Turn on your weather notifications and capture life as it happens.

 

6. The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE)

Welcome to the guidebook to absolutely amazing outdoor photography. With the Photographer’s Ephemeris, you’ll never have to miss out on golden hour snaps again. This handy little app will tell you exactly how the light will fall, at any time, for any location at earth. Want to photograph a lowly lighthouse at sunset or sunrise? Simply search for the location in TPE and set up to snap unforgettable landscape or cityscape shots. It’s also pretty nifty for the more nocturnal among us with augmented reality, line-of-site analysis and other state of the art photo planning features. Go on, capture that silhouette. We know you can do it.

7. Hiking Project

The best way to get some daring snaps is to take a stroll through nature. Download Hiking Project for a comprehensive guide to the best trails close to where you are, wherever you are. Hiking Project offers users full GPS routes, elevation profiles, photo galleries as well as fitness levels. Take your camera or smartphone along for some Instagram-worthy moments and marvel at what Mother Nature has to offer.

8. Camera Zoom FX

Camera Zoom FX is currently rated as the best camera app replacement and it’s no secret why. This high-end app offers an extremely extensive array of filters and photo-editing tools that do not require any other apps or software. Camera Zoom FX analyses photo quality off the jump and prompts you to apply effects to your photos as soon as you press the shutter button. The app also comes with gridlines in-built to make sure your photo focus is outstanding. We definitely applaud this app.

9. Snapseed

Welcome to the most comprehensive mobile photo editing app. Enjoy 29 editing tools including healing, brush, HDR, perspective and the ability to open both JPG and RAW files. Snapseed will allow you to get the most out of your pictures with meticulous details for the tweaking! Crop your photos for any social media platform, bring out your photo surface structures, adjust colours and exposure, add text, artistically blur your images or sharpen for a more pixilated effect. Create the effect of multiple exposures or add a soft glow. What would you expect to pay for something so off-the-charts AWESOME? Snapseed is ABSOLUTELY FREE.

10. For the Full-frame Enthusiasts

For those who prefer the DSLR or GoPro life, there are apps for that too! Download Canon Camera Connect, Nikon WIFI or GoPro Capture and download your images directly to your mobile or control your device with your phone and take pictures remotely. Each app comes with built-in storyboard features that create beautiful slideshows and lasting memories. Crop your photos to pre-built dimensions and upload them onto your social platforms as and when you want.

Do you take photography trips? Which apps are your go-to apps for enriching photo missions? Let us know in the comments. Are you planning on jetting off in search of the perfect image? Let us get you there! Book cheap flights with Travelstart, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for real-time promotions and flight deals to inspire!

 

 

The post Download These Apps for Magical Photo Missions appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Choose the Best Time to Visit Cuba!

Cuba is one the largest Caribbean islands, a country in its own right with beautiful beaches and age-old traditions found on every corner. Those who have visited know that the music coming from the city squares and lush green valleys are a rarity in this day and age, making the country all the more alluring. Who wouldn’t want to visit? You may be going for the perfect Caribbean beaches and delicious Cuban cuisine, the relaxed Havana street-side ambiance or even just to try out cigars from their original home. If you really want to take advantage of your time there then definitely plan in some time to visit the small town of Vinales and cycle around the edges of Santiago de Cuba for stunning views.

If this wonderful country is on your bucket list and you’re wondering when the best time to visit Cuba is, let Travelstart help! We’ve compiled a guide on all you need to know, including the hottest months, the rainiest days to watch out for and the best festivals that you wouldn’t want to miss!

visit-cuba-classic-ride

Featured image courtesy of @bebeyer via Instagram

Weather

Cuba has a tropical climate, with a dry and wet season. There is also a period of slightly cooler days and another of extra hot and humid days. Choosing the best time to visit Cuba would certainly be during its dry season which falls between the months of December and March. During this time, you will enjoy warm, breezy days with temperatures that range in the late 20°Cs, perfect for all of your beach days and touring the cities and towns in shorts and flipflops. The wet season in Cuba falls between May and November and whereas before this was not such a popular time to visit, many now choose this time to visit Cuba.

The dry season

Between the months of December and March, there is culture and music on every corner and you’re bound to fall in love with this country! Average daytime highs range at around 27°C and there is a freshness in the air that matches the perfect blue skies. Head to the beaches on the coast and soak up the sun or plan to walk the streets of Havana.

The wet season

A season that was previously overlooked, the wet season of Cuba is a great alternative to those hoping to save a bit. The wet season falls between May and November and this may be the best time to visit Cuba if you’re happy to put up with a couple of wet and hot, humid days. Since the increase in popularity to visit Cuba, this season is now a great alternative to the dry season as it only gets really wet around the months of June and July. Average temperatures range around 31°C.

The really wet and humid days don’t come until June and July. So, if you’re keen on visiting the many UNESCO Heritage Sites, museums and historical buildings that are found in this glorious country, then you should definitely consider this period. The beginning of the wet season is also ideal for valley and farm tours, where you will experience the raw beauty of this lush country. You can opt for tours that centre around coffee, bananas and most famous in Cuba – cigars!

visit-cuba-sorbet

Featured image courtesy of @stefania637 via Instagram

Average temperatures for Cuba

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 19 19 20 21 22 23 24 24 24 23 21 20
High °C 26 26 28 29 30 31 31 32 31 29 28 27
Rainfall (mm) 64 69 46 54 98 182 106 100 144 181 88 58

What to pack

There is so much to see and do in Cuba and with warm temperatures yearlong, packing for your trip will be easy-peasy.  You won’t need much to enjoy your time there, but make sure to pack the essentials!

  • Shorts, a few T-shirts and a dress or two
  • Swimsuit
  • Set of slightly warmer pants and a light jacket/cardigan (for cooler nights)
  • Small day bag for your essentials when doing tours
  • Sun hat
  • Sarong to use as a coverup over swimwear
  • Flip flops
  • Quick-dry towel for beach days
  • Walking shoes for hikes
  • Camera and portable charger
  • Water bottle

    visit-cuba-wanderlust

    Featured image courtesy of @cubanvacations via Instagram

Daylight hours

Dry season: 10 – 11 hours

07:00 to 18:00

You may be surprised to know that during the dry season in Cuba, there are fewer daylight hours than during the wet season. This is because, though its dry and mostly warm, the cooler season of the country falls between the months of December and March, with January sometimes experiencing lows of 15°C on occasion. Make sure to pack that light jacket and long pants for early mornings and late evenings!

Wet season:  12 – 13.5 hours

07:00 to 20:00

How would we describe the wet season in Cuba? Hot, humid and of course, wet! The days are quite a bit longer during the wet season and this is ideal for travellers that are less interested in the beach and more keen on city and village sightseeing – a bit of rain won’t hurt anybody! Remember though that Cuba is at risk of occasional hurricanes during the wettest months of the year – June and July.

visit-cuba-beach

Featured image courtesy of @whynotcuba via Instagram

Sea temperatures

Cuba and its gorgeous Caribbean coast are well-known for its beaches such as Playa Paraiso and Varadero. Visitors to the country make sure to take full advantage of the topaz sea water for swimming and enjoying some snorkelling and scuba diving. Sea temperatures are fantastic all year long, ranging from 24°C in January to 29°C in August. If you’re looking for the best time to visit Cuba for days spent swimming along the coastal beaches then you’re certainly in luck with these great temperatures!

How much are flights to Cuba?

High season – November to March

With its tropical coastline and charming cities, Cuba is becoming more and more popular as a travel destination. Flights during the high season (November to March) can be a bit more expensive than the rest of the year and with hotel accommodation and tours all inclusive, you could be paying out quite a bit, up to 20 – 30% more than during the low season.

Low season – April to October

The low season has become a cheaper alternative for travel to Cuba, and there’s always loads to see and do in the country with tours and day treks available all year round. Flights are more affordable during the shoulder season between April and May, and up to 40% cheaper during the wet months of June and July.

visit-cuba-performer

Featured image courtesy of @cubanvacations via Instagram

Annual events in Cuba

Havana Jazz Festival (January)

This prestigious event is the most famous jazz festival in Cuba, leading for its 34th year! The festival runs for four days towards the end of the month and is a must-see attraction. Prominent local and international artists fly into the country to perform, and if you’re unable to catch the main shows across the city’s venues, don’t fret. The festival can also be enjoyed on the streets of Havana, with many free and impromptu performances for everyone to enjoy.

Habano Cigar Festival (February)

Cuba is world famous for its cigars and this festival is dedicated to it! Cigar-lovers from across the world flock to the capital city of the country and rejoice with the best selection of cigars and all things related. There are tours to the plantations, gala dinners, trade fairs and so much more, making this event a contender on deciding when the best time to visit Ciba is! Get your smoke jacket on and enjoy this wonderful event.

visit-cuba-cigars

Featured image courtesy of @el_inseparable via Instagram

Havana & Santiago de Cuba Carnival (July)

Light the streets and get ready to dance with Cuba’s most famous carnivals! Each city hosts its own carnival, and each try to outdo the other with the number of floats, dancers and spectacular costumes on display. The carnivals last for a week each and are celebrated from early on during the day into late at night. You can also look forward to a wide array of food stalls selling the most tasty Cuban food that you can find.

International Ballet Festival of Havana (November)

You may be surprised to know that one of the world’s oldest ballet festivals is held in Cuba! The event is exclusively dedicated to ballet and held every two years in Havana’s grand theatres. Those in attendance will see some of the globe’s best performers and choreographers in action as the festival has been gathering only the best since the 1960s.  The festival runs for one week.

visit-cuba-carnival

Featured image courtesy of via @thirdcoastgyal via Instagram

Las Parrandas de Remedios (December)

One of the biggest and most characterful festivals in all of Cuba, Las Parrandas de Remedios is held in the town of the same name every December. Expect fireworks, loud parades, and a non-stop celebration over the Christmas period, from the 16th to the 24th of December annually. The town is divided into two ‘rival’ clans, and on the 24th you can enjoy the ‘rival rumba’ between the two with dancing and loads of entertainment!

Allow your dream of visiting this magical country to become a reality with cheap flights to Cuba! South Africans will need to apply for their Cuban visa to visit but don’t worry, we’ve got that information sorted for you too so that all you have to think about is the best time to visit Cuba for you and your travel party!

Make sure to sign-up for Travelstart’s newsletter for the latest flight specials and promotions to get you on a flight out of here and exploring the world!

Featured image courtesy of @omarmartinez5034 via Instagram

The post Choose the Best Time to Visit Cuba! appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

15 South African Honeymoon Ideas For Every Budget

[Updated: 24 October 2018]

Starting your life together in the face of a shifting Rand is a reality many newlyweds are facing. Luckily we live in a country where honeymooning locally is not just a possibility, it’s a godsend. With Cape Town and a number of hotels and resorts scooping up travel awards, it’s fair to say South Africa has been thrust on to the international stage as a travel destination many can only dream of.

And as a honeymoon destination, South Africa has the perfect answer, whatever your budget allows. From fine dining splendour, heavenly forest hideaways and spectacular safaris, this astonishing country can offer something for every couple.

Conservative Budget Honeymoons

Knysna, Garden Route

lazy leopard knysna

Photo credit: @thecattlemansdaughter via Instagram

For lovers on a budget, The Lazy Leopard in Knysna provides three very engaging choices. Two are the Forest Moon and Starry Forest “bush huts”, from which you can either enjoy a romantic forest stay or a fabulous view of the valley beyond. And as they are built of encased glass, you won’t miss a thing! Both huts come equipped with queen-sized beds, mini kitchens, bathrooms, fireplaces, TVs with DVD players, and a nearby swimming pool. The third romantic option, which is situated in the forest, is a larger cottage type accommodation, resplendent with roof beams, timber floors, and an open fireplace.

Website: lazyleopard.co.za

Hazyview, Mpumalanga

protea hotel hazyview

Photo credit: @lilo_iz_good via Instagram

For adventurous honeymooners, the Hazyview area in Mpumalanga offers many opportunities, from river rafting, aerial cable trailing, tubing and abseiling, to more relaxing pastimes, such as horse riding along the Sabie River, visiting the Elephant Sanctuary – where you can touch the elephants – and flying in a hot air balloon to watch the sunrise over the stunning vista.

The Protea Hazyview is an attractive 3-star hotel offering a restaurant, room service, garden, outdoor swimming pool, snooker table, and tennis courts. And if you really feel the need to ‘come back to earth’, for a fee, the hotel offers wired internet options ranging from dial-up to high-speed.

Website: marriott.com

Warmbaths, Limpopo

mabula game lodge

Photo credit: @jetset_gillian via Instagram

For a great opportunity to see the ‘Big Five’ (rhinos, elephants, lions, buffaloes, and leopards) at a very reasonable rate, the Mabula Game Lodge in Warmbaths, ticks all the boxes.

Besides the bigger animals, this private game reserve is visited day and night by warthogs, antelope, bush pigs, and colourful birds which can usually be seen from most patio rooms. You will have the opportunity to go on daily game drives, escorted by highly knowledgeable drivers.

The very attractive accommodation consists of en-suite air-conditioned chalets and tents and offers indoor and outdoor dining. All in all, a very comfortable and interesting stay! Mabula Game Lodge is set in one of South Africa’s finest malaria risk-free private game reserves and is only 2 hours north of Johannesburg.

Website: mabula.com

Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route

Whalesong Coastal Lodge Plett

Photo credit: @whalesonghotelspa via Instagram

Plettenberg Bay is one of the Cape’s loveliest areas and staying at the Whalesong Coastal Lodge, you will experience all that the region has to offer. Situated above the town centre, it offers truly inspirational views of the ocean and of the distant Tsitsikamma Mountains.

The Lodge offers a lounge with fireplace and bar, an African craft centre, a swimming pool with generously sized sundeck, a winery, a gourmet restaurant, and best of all, from both the lodge’s main balcony and the honeymoon suite there is always a very good chance of watching and hearing Southern Right Whales frolicking not far away – a truly magical stay!

Website: legendhospitality.co.za

Hluhluwe, KZN

hluhluwe river lodge

Photo credit: @hluhluwe.co.za

The Hluhluwe River Lodge is the perfect place for the ultimate yet affordable post-nuptial romantic hideaway. Situated not far away from St Lucia Lagoon and only a day trip to the fascinating Hluhluwe Game Reserve, you can be as private as you wish.

Adding to the romantic ambiance, the lodge is situated in a fairly remote location, but at the same time, is not too far away from many areas of interest. You can either explore the area yourselves or, if you want to put yourselves in the hands of the experts, a game ranger will accompany you on your Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park excursion.

Website: hluhluwe.co.za

Mid-Range Budget Honeymoon Ideas

Kagga Kamma, Western Cape

kagga kamma

Photo credit: @kagga_kamma via Instagram

Experiencing the awesome bush outdoors with your soul mate could not be easier. At Kagga Kamma you will appreciate the great expanse of natural bush with a backdrop of a million stars when you choose to spend a night “in” Kagga Kamma’s outcrop open-air room. You will be given the choice of either taking a picnic basket for your romantic dinner or dining at the lodge itself before your trip to the great outdoors. There will be a warming fire waiting for you when you arrive. Now, how romantic does that sound?

Website: kaggakamma.co.za

Augrabies, Northern Cape

the falls guest house

Photo credit: @safarinow.com

The Falls Guest House is located in Augrabies, close to the Augrabies Falls National Park. The Falls, on the Orange River, is famous for its constant flow of deafening splendour – a great place to ramble and catch a glance of springbok, klipspringers and various birds of prey.

The rooms offer views of the garden and are equipped with a TV and DVD player, and Wi-Fi at an additional fee. If you are thinking of having a romantic braai for two, there is also the opportunity to use the barbeque facilities. For your pampering wishes, the resident beauty salon offers massages and a selection of treatments.

Website: tripadvisor.co.za

Ballito, KZN

Ballito

Labori Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal offers everything for couples who want a self-catering honeymoon in a fun, popular holiday town. The accommodation offers fully furnished and equipped apartments in a pretty, private resort.

The apartments come with comfortably sized bedrooms, well-equipped kitchens, dining rooms, and patios, with swimming pool and barbeque facilities close by.

A short walk away is the centre of Ballito town, with its two beaches, restaurants, nightclubs and shops. Car hire and yacht charters are available, and the concierge service can also advise on any other entertainment activities on offer.

Website: labori.co.za

15-Day South African Honeymoon

mala mala game reserve

Photo credit: @welltraveledliving via Instagram

This 15-day safari will certainly be a honeymoon to remember, with memories to last you a lifetime!

Your action-packed itinerary includes five nights on safari searching for the Big 5 at Mala Mala in the Sabi Sands. You will then fly down to George in the Cape to start your self-drive Garden Route journey. Along the way, you will visit the beautiful village of Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and scenic town of Swellendam.

The self-drive route also includes a stay at Franschhoek Winelands, where you will discover the famous Cape wines, which complement the excellent cuisine also on offer.

Website: malamala.com

Thanda, KZN

thanda private game reserve

Photo credit: @bespokeadventures via Instagram

Thanda Private Game Reserve is located in KwaZulu-Natal and consists of a romantic lodge perfect for honeymooning couples. Thanda is the Zulu word for love; how much more romantic could that be!

Accommodation comprises 9 individual, private suites that overlook the surrounding game reserve, a spa and rim flow pool with outstanding cuisine served to you by candlelight. You will, of course, have the chance to take a safari, during which you will have a fascinating time discovering the Big 5.

Relax in the Lodge’s spa after a day of excitement – or relaxation. It is all on offer for a honeymoon to remember!

Website: thanda.co.za

Big Budget Honeymoons

Sabi Sabi, Kruger National Park

ulusaba rock lodge

Photo credit: @dear_volt via Instagram

For the ultimate in luxury honeymoons in South Africa, things do not get much better than Richard Branson’s private game reserve, Ulusaba. The Rock Lodge, situated in the Sabi Sabi area, is built high upon a cliff, allowing for amazing views. In addition, the property has undertaken the removal of fences between the greater Kruger National Park and other private reserves, thus bringing about the opportunity to see even more wildlife. With two safaris a day conducted by very knowledgeable tour guides, private dinners with a personal butler serving delicious food, massages, and a private spa, this will be a honeymoon you will remember forever.

Website: virginlimitededition.com

Tintswalo, Mpumalanga

tintswalo safari lodge

Photo credit: @tintswalo_safari_lodge via Instagram

Tintswalo Safari Lodge is an exclusive 5-star safari lodge that caters for honeymooners in its own special way and certainly lives up to its 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

Consisting of six luxurious, roomy suites and located in Mpumalanga Province, all accommodation comes with private decks and a plunge pool, from which you will be looking out at the interesting combination of wildlife congregating at the adjacent waterhole. Of course, you can also experience safari trips conducted by experienced tour guides.

The area of the Reserve is steeped in 19th-century African explorer history and each suite is accurately decorated to reflect this.

Website: tintswalo.com

Grootbos, Western Cape

grootbos

Photo credit: @lolyque via Instagram

If flora and fauna are of more interest to you than big beasts and you care about conservation, the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, close to the pretty town of Hermanus in the Western Cape, is the perfect honeymoon destination for you.

This 5-star nature reserve displays amazing flora and marine life. It is home to the so-called Marine Big 5 – whales, dolphins, sharks, seals and penguins – and stunning flora. Your visit will aid the Grootbos Foundation’s conservation efforts.

Guided activities include a flower safari, walks through the Milkwood forests, beach tours, coastal walks, bird watching, expeditions through ancient caves, tree planting, and a social responsibility tour.

Website: grootbos.com

Sun City, North West

the lost city sun city

Photo credit: @foot_prints__ via Instagram

The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City is a fictitious African palace where you will experience a fairy tale honeymoon!

The hotel’s magnificent towers are decorated with elephant tusks and its foyer features extravagant architecture, frescos and an opulent hand painted dome.

Each of the 338 rooms is decorated in real African flavour, with a huge four poster bed, multi-channel TV, ceiling fans, an enormous bath and shower room, and a generous dressing area. The Grand Pool is perfect to sunbathe, relax and enjoy light snacks.

You will feel like royalty during your time there!

Website: sun-city-south-africa.com

Umhlanga, KZN

the oyster box

Photo credit: @bradleyjamesoneill via Instagram

The Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks is the ideal place for a honeymoon of total relaxation. With its tropical, verdant gardens, this distinguished hotel combines historical charm, exceptional service, and stylish elegance.

The hotel’s luxury rooms and two outdoor swimming pools overlook the sparkling Indian Ocean. Your personal monogrammed robes, a bottle of wine, and rose petal turndown add to the plush ambiance. You can also enjoy a personalised massage in the luxurious spa’s six treatment rooms.

The hotel caters to food lovers, with nearby Durban’s authentic curries and freshly caught seafood. And, if you feel you have somewhat overindulged, the romantic Umhlanga promenade is on your doorstep!

Website: oysterboxhotel.com

honeymoon south africa

Photo credit: @andrew_2304_ via Instagram

As you can see, besides catering to all levels of budget, South Africa truly offers honeymoon opportunities to suit a wide range of tastes and inclinations. Whether you are an activities enthusiast, nature buff, or simply looking for complete relaxation, South Africa has a honeymoon destination supreme for you.

If you could spend your honeymoon anywhere in the world, where would it be? Let us know in the comments section below.

And be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop with the latest flight specials, and check out our holiday packages and start planning that dream honeymoon!

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Born and raised in London, Sandy’s wanderlust took root when her family moved to South Africa. While having travelled most of the world during her career in the travel industry and spending 10 years in beautiful San Francisco, Sandy now travels between her current home in warm, lively and gourmet friendly Italy and South Africa.

The post 15 South African Honeymoon Ideas For Every Budget appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Schengen Guide: How to Obtain a German Visa

[Updated October 2018]

Germany is a European destination boasting incredible attractions such as Berlin’s nightlife, Oktoberfest in Munich and of course the vast history that the streets of Germany have to tell. Find out how to apply for a German visa (Schengen visa) with this informative and concise guide. All that’s left to do is book your ticket and plan your itinerary.

South African passport holders do require a short-term tourist visa (German Schengen visa) to enter the country, but the visa application process is a relatively painless one! You will need to apply at the Intergate Visalink Visa Application Centre in Cape Town, Centurion, Bloemfontein or Port Elizabeth. You are advised to apply for your visa at least 90 days before you travel to allow for ample processing time and to avoid any application stress.

Please note this process is applicable to South African passport holders.

Travelstart German visa

Image courtesy of @fotograf_berlin via Instagram

Types of Visas

Short-term visa: For visitors who want to go to Germany for a certain period of time.

  • Single-entry visa: This visa allows you to enter Germany once. You are allowed to stay for up to 90 days within a period of six months. Once you leave Germany, you are not allowed to enter the country again.
  • Double-entry visa: This visa allows you to enter the country twice. The total number of days spent in the country must not exceed 90 days.
  • Multiple-entry visa: The multiple-entry visa affords you entry to the country as many times as you like. There are one, three and five-year multiple-entry visas available. Take note that each visit may not exceed 90 days!

German Visa Price

  • Visa Fees for Adults: €60 (R1004)
  • Visa Fees for Minors: €45 (R586)
  • Application Service Fees Visalink: R380 per application

Note: The visa fee is according to the current exchange rate and it is subject to change.

Traelstart German visa

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Requirements for German visa for South Africans

The applicant should bring:

  •  One completed visa application form, signed by the applicant (see next section for form)
  • Passport – valid for at least three months from your date of return from your trip. Your passport must contain at least two empty visa pages for entry stamps.
  • Two passport copies of the personal data page.
  • One recent passport sized photo (not older than six months). Must follow the Schengen visa photo guidelines
  •  Three months bank statement
  • Letter from employer/academic institution confirming employment/enrollment and when you are due back. If self-employed, confirmation of VAT registration showing you as the owner
  • Copy of confirmed and paid return flight ticket and documents showing further travel within the EU
  • Proof of confirmed hotel reservation and €40 per day in forex or available on credit card  or a formal obligation document issued by the local municipality from the person who is hosting you in Germany, ie friend or family (must be an original document)
  • Proof of previous trips to the Schengen Area (visas)
  • Travel insurance covering at least €30,000 for hospitalisation and repatriation
  • For accompanying minors: full unabridged birth certificate, marriage certificate of the parents, guardians or parents’ declaration of consent.

To ensure you have all the necessary documents, see the Schengen tourist visa checklist.

The German visa application form must be filled out online.

Get a free quote with VisaBox – our go-to visa experts to assist you with your tourist visa application.

Travelstart German visa

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Application Process

All German visa applications must be done at an Intergate Visalink Visa Application Centre. Follow the process to ensure your visa application goes smoothly:

Step 1: Book an Appointment

Book an appointment at the visa application centre where you will submit your application and biometric information. Schedule an appointment online at least 3 weeks before your departure date.

Step 2: Payment

After your appointment has been scheduled, you will receive a provisional appointment confirmation via e-mail which will include the payment details. Once you have sent the proof of payment via e-mail, your appointment will be confirmed.

Step 3: Prepare Your Application

You will be sent a confirmation email which includes a link to fill out your online application form and details regarding the documents you will have to submit.

Step 4: Submit Your Application

You must visit the Visa Application Centre you selected (located in Cape Town, Centurion, Port Elizabeth or Bloemfontein). Arrive at least 15 minutes before your allocated appointment time. If you arrive late you will need to schedule another appointment.

Step 5: Track Your Application

After you have submitted your application you will be able to track the progress. Track your application online.

Step 6: Return of Your Application

Once a decision has been made to grant you the German visa (Schengen visa), you will be sent an email and an SMS to let you know when your documents and passport will be ready for collection.

Before leaving the visa application centre, check that it:

  • has your correct personal details
  • states the purpose for which you are travelling
  • is valid for the date when you want to travel
Travelstart German visa

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Where to Apply for a German Visa

Cape Town

Address: Intergate Visalink

 

80 Strand Street, Cape Town, 8001

Contact: 0861 00 22 45
Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 08:00-16:00
Wednesdays, 17:00-20:00 (by appointments only)

Taxis, buses, trains and cabs are readily available to the Visa Application Centre.  If you’re driving by car, there is parking on the adjacent roads, including Long Street, Loop Street and Bree Street.

Centurion

Address: Intergate Visalink

 

1262 Lougardia Building Embankment Rd, Centurion

Contact: 012 663 3308 / 0861 00 22 45
Opening Hours: Mondays to Friday, 08:00-16:00
Wednesdays, 17:00-20:00 (by appointments only)

There are several methods of transport available to the Visa Application Centre, including taxis, buses and cabs. If you’re driving by car, you can locate a parking lot behind the building.

Bloemfontein

Address: Intergate Visalink

 

80 Pres Reitz Ave, Westdene, 9301

Contact: 0861 00 22 45
 Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 08:00-16:00
Wednesdays, 17:00-20:00 (by appointments only)

You can take a taxi, bus, or cab to the Visa Application Centre. There is parking available in the building complex.

Port Elizabeth

Address:

Intergate Visalink

 

Fairview Office Park, 4th Floor, The Regus House

Contact: 0861 00 22 45
Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 08:00-16:00
Wednesdays, 17:00-20:00 (by appointments only)

There are several public transport options available for you to take, including taxis, buses, cabs and trains. There is parking available in the building’s parking lot.

Travelstart German visa

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Where to Print Documents and Photos

Cape Town

Postnet

Address: Shop 8, No. 2 Long Street, Cape Town City Centre, 8001
Contact: 021 418 1630
Opening Hours: Monda to Friday, 08:00-16:30
Saturday, 08:00-12:00

Centurion

PostNet Centurion

Address: Shop 14 Southlake Centre, Lenchen Ave
Contact: 012 663 7976
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 08:00-17:00
Saturday, 09:00-13:00

Bloemfontein

Mi Office dot Net

Address: 12 2nd Westdene, Bloemfontein, 9301
Contact: 051 447 9757
Opening Hours Monday to Friday, 07:00-18:00
Saturday, 08:00-14:00
Sunday, 09:00-13:00

Port Elizabeth

PostNet Greenacres

Address: Shop G14, The Bridge Mall, Ring Rd, Greenacres, Port Elizabeth, 6001
Contact: 041 363 3606
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 08:30-05:30
Saturday, 09:00-16:00
Sunday, 09:00-13:00
Travelstart German Visa

Image courtesy of @dreamland.germany via Instagram

With all this helpful information for your German visa application, you are ready for a fantastic adventure through Germany. With your German visa, you’ll be free to visit cities such as CologneHamburg and Frankfurt. Sign up to our newsletter and find out about great flight specials to this mesmerising European destination and many more.

Find cheap flights to Germany at Travelstart.co.za!

Have you applied for a German visa? Share your application experience with us in the comments below.

You might also like – Step by step: How to apply for a Schengen Visa

The post Schengen Guide: How to Obtain a German Visa appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

25 Of the Best South African Campsites to Pitch Your Tent this Summer

[Updated October 2018]

Our family amp to camp … not that we’re inherently good at it. I remember us setting off with reckless abandon, caravan in tow, for campsites across the length and breadth of South Africa. We had all the enthusiasm in the world, but when it came to setting up, and configuring our campsite in such a way that we’d be comfortable for the next ten odd days, it always seemed to fall apart at the seams (of the tent).

But the outdoors nature that is so intrinsic to average South African families kept us exploring more. Rallying around the “African TV” on a frosty July evening in the Berg, or flipping the Coleman’s to a kitchen table on a warm December at the coast, camping is a core part of our culture. It’s not like we even have to travel far from our comfort zones; the best campsites in South Africa can be found within mere hours of major cities; and swapping the suburbs for sleeping bags will, as always, be a way of life this summer.

Mahai River Campsite, Royal Natal National Park

south african campsites - Family friendly and clean, Mahai Campsite in the Royal Natal National Park section of the Drakensberg offers one of the best camping experiences in South Africa.

This big campground is set in one of the Drakensberg’s most beautiful valleys. The Mahai Campsite offers clean ablution and washing up facilities, as well as electric and non-electric campsites. From the Mahai Valley where the campsite is situated, you can choose from a range of novice to advanced hikes, as well as fly fishing close to camp. The only thing you’ll ever need to worry about is remembering to zip your tent on the way out so wayward Chacma baboons can’t get in while you’re out hiking.

Mahai Campsite is best suited to families and couples.

Mahai Camp Bookings: Call 033 845 1000 / 1071/75 / 1001 or email camping@kznwildlife.com

Find it: Mahai Campsite on Google Maps

Tietiesbaai Beach Camp, West Coast

south african campsites - Tietiesbaai in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve up the West Coast offers the best of South African camping next to the sea.

The amusingly named bay on the west coast is a favourite when it comes to rough and ready camping next to the sea. With its distinct rugged West Coast edge, the campsite at Tietiesbaai provides a diverse range of campgrounds to suit the tastes of every outdoorsman, even if cold showers and no electricity are par for the course. Set up near the ablutions for campsite convenience or choose a spot away from the crowd and nestle among the rocks for private holiday bliss. There are 60 caravanning and tenting sites available (grass and ground); none of them has power points. The possibility of strong South-Easters calls for sturdy tents, and if it gets all too much, the delightful village of Paternoster is just 6km down the road.

Tietiesbaai Campsite is best suited to families.

Tietiesbaai Camping Bookings: Titietiesbaai only accepts fax or snail mail bookings. So if you’re up to the task of excavating a fax machine or figuring out how to post a letter you can get them on 022 752 2015 (fax) or mail The Municipal Manager, Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Private Bag X 12, Vredenburg, 7380.

Find it: Tieitiesbaai on Google Maps

Fiddlers Creek Campsite, Orange River

Fiddlers Creek Campsite - south african campsites

The banks of the Orange River are as enviable a location as any to set up camp this summer, and Bushwhacked Adventures’ Fiddler Creek Campsite will surely not disappoint you and your friends. Nestled on the banks of the Orange River, Fiddlers Creek Campsite is a certain wilderness escape with some mod cons to enhance the outdoors experience. Each site is equipped with an undercover kitchen, washing up basins with running water, countertops, lights and power (220V) and a built-in braai area. There’s a bar, pool table and volleyball court, and the Orange River Rafting excursions available at Bushwhacked, which range from half day to 5-day trips, come highly recommended.

Fiddlers Creek Campsite is best suited to friends.

Fiddlers Creek Bookings: Call 027 761 8953 or email info@bushwhacked.co.za

Find it: Fiddlers Creek Rest Camp on Google Maps

Bruintjieskraal Campsite, Baviaanskloof

Bruintjieskraal Campsite on the shores of the Grootrivier in the Baviaanskloof - south african campsites

The perfect base from which to explore the spectacular Baviaanskloof Wilderness area, Bruintjieskraal Campsite boasts one of the most idyllic settings in which to roll out your tent. It’s located at Grootrivier Poort, the entrance to the area, and spreads out on the shores of the Grootrivier. There are 10 spacious campsites on the riverbanks and another four further afield, each with a flush toilet and separate shower and braai facilities. Hot water is available, but you need to bring fresh drinking water with you. The Bruintjieskraal Campsite is an excellent base for exploring your surroundings from on scenic walks, or swimming, fishing and game viewing.

Bruintjieskraal Campsite is best suited to families and couples.

Bruintjieskraal Campsite Bookings: Call 084 515 0993 or email info@bruintjieskraal.co.za

Find it: Bruintjieskraal on Google Maps

Motswedi Luxury Campsite, Mokala National Park

Motswedi Luxury Campsite offers comfortable 'glamping' in the Mokala National Park - south african campsites

Heaven for nature lovers and hikers, Mokala National Park offers “glamping” in a beautiful landscape in close proximity to wildlife. The luxurious Motswedi Campsite is home to just six camping spots, all of them are naturally fenced by camel thorn trees. Each campsite features its own ablution facilities complete with a solar-powered geyser, kitchen area equipped with a two-plate gas burner, a gas fridge/freezer, outdoor braai and washing up area. There’s even a breakfast nook overlooking a waterhole where animals come to drink, which is just perfect for game viewing. Even with the comfort of the camp, there is no fuel, electricity point or shop here, so come prepared.  And if all else fails, the lodge has its own restaurant if you’re in desperate need of a bite to eat. A knee-high electric game fence keeps large animals at a safe distance.

Motswedi Luxury Campsite is best suited to higher budget campers.

Motswedi Luxury Campsite Bookings:  Call central reservations on 012 428 9111 or 082 233 9111 or email reservations@sanparks.org

Find it: Mokala National Park on Google Maps

Beaverlac Camping, Cederberg

Waterfalls and rock pools make for great summer camping at Beaverlac in the Cederberg - south african campsites

This comfortable, pet-friendly campsite is a great choice for a fun weekend getaway from Cape Town. Cosy up in the foothills of the Olifants River Mountains just 2 hours from the Mother City – Beaverlac offers excellent hiking opportunities and a chance to breathe some fresh air in a picturesque natural setting. It’s a great place to enjoy mountain biking, hiking and exploring the wilds. There are two scenic mountain bike trails, one 14km long and another shorter, 10km trail for beginners. The famous 1-day leopard hiking trail is well worth a try, with stops at spectacular rock pools and waterfalls en-route. There are also numerous caves to explore, offering great rock art sightings.

You don’t have to walk far to enjoy the area’s stunning rock pools – the closest is a five-minute walk from the camp and the rest are just another 20 minutes from your tent. The campsite itself is rustic and peaceful with ablution facilities, some offering hot water, braai areas and a well-stocked shop.

Beaverlac Camping is best suited to friends.

Beaverlac Bookings: Call 022 931 2945 or email info@beaverlac.co.za

Find it: Beaverlac on Google Maps

Buccaneers, Cintsa

Camping at Buccaneers Backpackers at Cintsa offers lots of activities such as horse riding on the beach - south african campsites

A favourite amongst nomadic backpackers and outdoorsmen, Buccaneers is located on the spectacular Wild Coast on the eastern shores of South Africa. The campsite is hemmed in behind the giant sand dunes of Cintsa Beach, bordered by giant guava trees overlooking the lagoon from the west. The campsite at Buccaneers is equipped with one of the most awesome communal kitchen areas I’ve ever seen! Buccaneers also offer chalets, a restaurant and lively bar, swimming pool, canoes and booze cruises. Of course, the beach, renowned for its breathtaking setting, is a big drawcard and it’s a stone’s throw away from where you camp. Guests here enjoy a variety of daily activities, most of which are free. In addition, you can learn to surf, take a horse trail, go mountain biking or visit a traditional Xhosa village. Buccaneers, Cintsa is ideal for a fun-filled camping holiday with friends, especially over the New Year period.

Buccaneers is best suited to friends.

Buccaneers Bookings: Call 043 734 3012 or email buccaneers@cintsa.com

Find it: Buccaneers on Google Maps

Tsendze Rustic Campsites, Northern Kruger National Park

Tsendze Rustic Campsite is a popular camp ground in the Kruger National Park - south african campsites

Image by Roger & Letitia from There and Back

Located just 7km from Mopani Rest Camp in the famous Kruger National Park, this rustic camp boasts 30 campsites set out in two circles, each surrounding excellent kitchen and ablution facilities. The facilities are basic; hot water, electricity and lights are provided via solar power and gas. This Tsendze Camp, one of the newest in the Park, has quickly become very popular for its superb setting and excellent bird and game life, including elephant, buffalo, zebra and various antelope. Lions and leopard have also been spotted here. Campsites offer privacy – another plus – and the feeling of being in the midst of the wilds is what makes Tzendze so special.

Tsendze Rustic Campsites is suitable for anyone looking for camping accommodation in the Kruger Park.

Tsendze Camp Kruger Park Bookings: Call 013 735 6535 / 6

Find it: Tsendze Campsites on Google Maps

Stoney Ridge Campsite, Colenso

Stoney Ridge Campsite, KwaZulu Natal - south african campsites

If you’re heading for the scenic Natal Midlands, this is the ideal campsite. Stoney Ridge is located amongst 6,000 acres of unspoiled natural beauty on a private game farm offering superb game viewing and bird life, as well as 4X4 trails. The campsite is located in shady environs on the banks of the Bloukrans River and offers excellent ablution facilities. It’s popular with 4X4 enthusiasts, both for off-road training and for the excellent trails in the area. Campers can enjoy the facilities of the restaurant if they wish.

Stoney Ridge Campsite is best suited to families.

Stoney Ridge Bookings: Call 036 354 7012 / 073 697 5108 or email info@stoneyridge.co.za

Find it: Stoney Ridge on Google Maps

Albert Falls, Pietermaritzburg

Albert Falls near Pietermaritzburg, KZN - south african campsites

This family-oriented campsite is located just 24km from Pietermaritzburg in the 3000-hectare Albert Falls Dam and Game Reserve. Excellent bass fishing, and watersports on the dam are all part of the magic in this idyllic setting. The campsite offers camping for at least 20 tents and caravans, well-maintained ablution facilities with hot and cold water, electric lights and power points.

Albert Falls Campsite is best suited to families and friends.

Albert Falls Bookings: Call 033 569 1202 or email albert.falls@msinsi.co.za

Find it: Albert Falls Dam on Google Maps

Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, Tsitsikamma National Park

Camping in the Tsitsikamma National Park affords you magnificent views like this one at Storms River Mouth - south african campsites

If you’re planning to visit one of the most breathtaking regions in South Africa, the Tsitsikamma National Park on the spectacular Garden Route is an ideal choice. Storms River Mouth Rest Camp offers an unbeatable setting stretching 5km towards the seashore in the eastern section of the Park, where dolphins frolic in the waves and the Southern Right Whale makes it presence known. Guests here have access to 80km of dramatic rugged coastline and every facility for a pleasant camping experience. There’s a communal ablution block, Laundromat, kitchen facilities, restaurant and store. But that’s not the reason you’re here. The birdlife is unbeatable and Otter’s and animals native to the region are waiting to be discovered on the shore and in the forest.

Storms River Mouth Rest Camp is best suited to couples, families and friends.

Storms River Mouth Rest Camp Bookings: Call 042 281 1607 or email grace.valela@sanparks.org

Find it: Storms River Mouth Camp on Google Maps

Also read: 30 Amazing Ways to Explore the Garden Route

Glen Reenen Rest Camp, Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Glen Reenen Rest Camp at the Golden Gate National Park - south african campsites

The magnificent Golden Gate National Park is named after the exquisite shades of gold reflected by the sun on its famous sandstone cliffs. Nestled here is the popular Glen Reenen Rest Camp, offering the ideal base from which to explore the Park’s 11 600 hectares where a variety of wild animals roam free and exquisite birds have made their home. The campsite has a coveted spot in the Park, which is located in the breathtaking Maluti Mountains in the Northern Free State just 22km from Clarens. Its landmark is the famous Brandwag Overhang, a golden rock that stands sentry at the entrance.

Found in the trees on the banks of a stream, the campsite offers full ablution and braai facilities as well as power points at some of the sites. Hiking and mountain biking are common activities, but the exquisite setting is reason enough to come here and relax.

Glen Reenen Rest Camp is best suited to families and couples.

Glen Reenen Campsite Bookings: Call 058 255 0909 / 058 255 1000 or email goldengate@sanparks.org

Find it: Glen Reenen Camp on Google Maps

Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park, Bazley Beach

An aerial view of Mac Nicol's Caravan Park at Bazley Beach on the KZN South Coast - south african campsites

From the moment you arrive at Mac Nicol’s on the South Coast of KZN everything is taken care of for you – surely this is how most camping trips should start? The staff helps you erect your tent while you enjoy a cup of tea and the sea air – relaxation is a natural progression of events. Located less than 100km from Durban on the magnificent KwaZulu-Natal coastline just 90m from beautiful Bazley Beach and the Ifafa Lagoon, the campsite offers every facility for the perfect holiday… spotless ablutions, laundry stations, entertainment, communal braais and lots of facilities for the kids. The chalets have a four-star rating, but you can enjoy all the benefits even if you’re camping here.

Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park is best suited to families.

Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park Bookings: Call 039 977 8863 or email macnicol@scottburgh.co.za

Find it: Mac Nicol’s Caravan Park on Google Maps

Soetwater Resort & Medusa Caravan Park, Kommetjie

Soetwater Resort is a seaside campsite on the Cape Peninsula - south african campsites

This stunning little coastal resort between Kommetjie and Scarborough in the Cape is a very popular weekend retreat. With a rocky coastline offering a few sandy bays and two artificial tide pools, swimming is popular here and watching fishermen and crayfish divers return with their catch is another regular pastime. You can also take a walk to the top of Slangkop to see an abandoned radar station from the Second World War, visit the quaint fishing towns of Kalk Bay and Simonstown, or explore famous Cape Point. The resort itself is located in the southern part of the Cape Peninsula on Lighthouse Road, an undeveloped coastal terrace that is preserved for its biodiversity. There are a choice of campsites here including those with, and those without electricity.

Soetwater Resort & Medusa Caravan Park is best suited to families.

Medusa Caravan Park Bookings: Call 021 783 4146 or email resort.bookings@capetown.gov.za

Find it: Medusa Caravan Park on Google Maps

Secret Falls, Tulbagh

Secret Falls Campsite in Tulbagh, Western Cape - south african campsites

Image by Deirdre Louw

Nestling in the foothills of the Groot Winterhoek Mountains amongst 150 hectares of spectacular countryside, this little campsite is only accessible via four by four vehicles. Located just 100km from Cape Town, Secret Falls offers room for just seven tents, but the site also offers a private swimming pool. This spectacular area is home to some excellent hiking trails and mountain biking is also popular here. This is camping in unmatched scenery for those who love the great outdoors and are happy to rough it.

Secret Falls Campsite is best suited to couples.

Secret Falls Tulbagh Bookings: Call 082 393 4704 or email marcnadia@mweb.co.za

Find it: Secret Falls Tulbagh on Google Maps

Cobham Campsite, Southern Drakensberg

Enjoy rustic countryside camping in South Africa at the Cobham Campsite, Southern Drakensberg - south african campsites

Image by Péter Béla Molnár from flickr.com

Camping in the Southern Drakensberg doesn’t get much better than this! Cobham Campsite is located 11km from Himeville Village in the southern part of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, about 150km from Pietermaritzburg. The campsite is rustic and sites aren’t designated, so you can pick your own spot. There are various braai areas and the ablution blocks do offer hot water. The location is quite beautiful and offers great hiking, bird watching, fly fishing and swimming.

Cobham Campsite is best suited to families and couples.

Cobham Campsite Bookings: Call 033 702 0831

Find it: Cobham Campsite on Google Maps (approximate location)

Waterval en Laatson, Porterville

The view from the Third Waterfall at 22 Waterfalls near Porterville -south african campsites

Set at the foot of the Olifants River Mountains 4km from Porterville in the Cederberg, the Waterval en Laatson Campsite offers an opportunity to get up close to game and birdlife. Named after the famous hiking trail which covers 22 Waterfalls along the way, the campsite here offers a rustic bush setting and a choice of sites with or without electricity. Campers can go game viewing in the nearby Cederberg Leopard Conservation area; enjoy superb bass fishing and mountain bike trails. There’s even an animal farm for the kids. The area is famous for its rock paintings in various caves and there’s a beautiful pool and waterfall close by.

22 Waterfalls Campsite is best suited to families.

22 Waterfalls Bookings: Call 022 931 2339 / 082 878 1358

Find it: 22 Waterfalls on Google Maps

Cape Vidal, KZN

Cape Vidal Camping by the coast in the north of KZN - south african campsites

Camping in the exceptional wetland beauty of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park is a unique experience, and this little campsite, which offers just 8 sites, is the ideal location from which to experience the magic and beauty of the surroundings. Go snorkelling, swimming, fishing or bird watching, laze on the beach or enjoy whale and bird watching. This exquisite coastal retreat is located in a sheltered bay offering pristine beaches and your choice of adventure along hiking trails exploring the fascinating wetland area. View hippo, crocodile, elephants and buffalo, loggerhead and leatherback turtles, playful dolphins and elusive whales. The Cape Vidal campsite offers shady spots, ablution facilities and electricity plug points. It is located 37km from St Lucia.

Cape Vidal is best suited to families and friends.

Cape Vidal Bookings: Call 033 845 1000 / 1071/75 / 1001

Find it: Cape Vidal on Google Maps

Gariep Dam

Gariep Dam Campsite - south african campsites

The perfect stopover point halfway between Cape Town and Johannesburg is Gariep, just off the main highway 200km from Bloemfontein. Camping here is at Gariep Dam, the largest dam in the country. The dam borders a huge nature reserve of the same name where many buck species and zebra roam free. Whether you’re using this location as a stopover, or are planning to spend some time here, there’s plenty to do, including various water sports, fishing, sunset cruises and excellent game viewing by boat. The campsite offers 122 sites in all, 16 of which have their own ablution blocks. Other facilities include braai areas or you can enjoy the restaurant located here, as the resort also offers chalet and caravan accommodation.

Gariep Dam Campsite is best suited to families and friends.

Gariep Dam Camping Bookings: Call 012 423 5600

Find your Mango flight to Bloemfontein with Travelstart!

Find it: Gariep Dam on Google Maps

Vic Bay Campsite, Garden Route

Vic Bay Campsite is one of the most popular camping sites on South Africa's Garden Route - south african campsites

Victoria Bay is an immaculate alcove located between George and Wilderness on the spectacular Garden Route. The tiny inlet, squeezed between high cliffs, offers beautiful sea views from the elevated grassy Vic Bay Campsite. Surfers love it here as do fishermen. The beach offers safe swimming and an excellent restaurant. There are 36 campsites, many of which have individual ablutions and all with tap water. The campsite also offers electricity.

Vic Bay Campsite is best suited to families, friends and couples.

Vic Bay Campsite Bookings: Call 044 889 0081 / 073 800 7096

Find it: Vic Bay Campsite on Google Maps

Check out: Fun Things to do Along the Garden Route

Warm Baths Camping, Gauteng

Warmbaths Camping - south african campsites

A total of 300 camping sites (15 luxury + 285 caravan sites) means Forever Warm Baths is well-equipped to handle the crowds that flock to this very popular location in the peak season. Guests are guaranteed a comfortable camping experience with every facility available to camp at ease. Warm Baths is a major tourist attraction, because of the mineral baths, and this luxury campsite makes visiting this region of Limpopo a pleasure. With excellent ablution facilities, the resort, which is very popular with families, is located close to Johannesburg and offers an exciting bush atmosphere. Over weekends and school holidays ,you have to stay for a minimum of two nights.

Warm Baths Campsite is best suited to families and friends.

Warm Baths Camping Bookings: Call 012 423 5600

Find it: Warm Baths Camping on Google Maps

Augrabies Falls Rest Camp

Camping at the Augrabies Falls National Park - south african campsites

If you want to camp inside the remote Augrabies Falls National Park, this is the only place available. No matter – it’s an excellent campsite that has found its rightful place amongst the regions iconic Quiver trees. It’s spacious and well-organised, and the ideal base from which to explore the Augrabies Falls National Park at leisure. There’s a restaurant here, a choice of three swimming pools, a central area with a fully stocked shop and a petrol station. A highlight of a visit here is the breathtaking views offered from viewpoints along wooden walkways in front of the camp. The 56-metre Augrabies Falls is quite impressive too, especially when the Orange River is in flood. The walking trails in the area are another big draw card.

Augrabies Falls Rest Camp is best suited to families and couples.

Augrabies Fall Rest Camp Bookings: Call 054 452 9205 / 9200 or email reservations@sanparks.org

Find it: Augrabies Fall Camp on Google Maps

Spekboom Tented Rest Camp, Addo Elephant National Park

Spekboom Tented Rest Camp at the Addo Elephant National Park offers more luxury to campers than it does DIY tent pitching.

Image by Michael McCrae

Located in one of South Africa’s most famous national parks, Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, Spekboom Camp offers some glam camping in the bush. Tents are already set up so there’s no need to bring your own. In fact, they are more like cabins than tents; you’ll enjoy real beds on wooden floors, towels and cookware to make your stay more comfortable. In addition, the camp has its own watering hole, so you will see elephants, buffalo and warthogs up close when they come to drink. The camp is located in a fenced area inside the Spekboom Hide in the main game area of the park, around 27km from Matyholweni Gate and Camp, and 12km from Addo Rest Camp.

This tiny camp comprises just five fixed tents on decks with two beds, two chairs, a table, braai unit and solar-powered light per tent. Ablution facilities including communal showers, and toilets are within walking distance of the tents. Although there is a curfew at the camp and you cannot go on night game drives, you will still see various nocturnal animals come to drink at the camp’s waterhole and the stars are so clear in the sky they look as if you can reach out and touch them.

You can bring your own linen and cooking equipment with you, or hire cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils and bedding. Guests are provided with dishwashing liquid and a cloth but must bring their own firewood and torches.

Spekboom Campsite is best suited to couples.

Spekboom Tented Rest Camp Bookings: Call 042 233 8600 or email addoenquiries@sanparks.org

Find it: Spekboom Tented Camp on Google Maps (approximate location)

Berg River Resort, Paarl

Berg River Resort near Paarl offers fantastic family-style camping in the heart of the Cape Winelands - south african campsites

Camping in the famous Winelands is not only scenic, but it’s also loads of fun for the whole family. Berg River Resort is located in the midst of this spectacular area in the Paarl Valley, just 60km from Cape Town, between Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The resort offers a variety of accommodation options, including a campsite, and various facilities include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, children’s pool and waterslide as well as the river itself, where guests can enjoy swimming and canoeing.

The campsite offers 150 stands with grass for tents or caravans, most of which also have electrical outlets. There’s a café for daily essentials, a play area where kids can enjoy ball games, an animal farmyard with goats and donkeys and free trampoline and tractor rides for the kids. The area is a joy to explore, with a number of museums, art galleries, restaurants and wine farms nearby as well as the Drakenstein Lion Park, Bien Donne Herb Farm and the Paarl Bird Sanctuary nearby.

Berg River Resort is best suited to families.

Berg River Resort Bookings: Call 021 863 1650 / 52 or email info@bergriverresort.co.za

Find it: Berg River Resort on Google Maps

Pitjane Fishing Camp, Borakalalo National Park

Pitjane Fishing Camp is at the Borakalalo National Park - south african campsites

Located on the northern shores of the Klipvoor Dam in the Borakalalo National Park, this excellent campsite is shaded with Acacia trees and offers traditional reed-walled ablutions with flush toilets, showers and hot and cold water. Although it’s mainly used by avid fishermen, the rustic campsite is an ideal spot from which to explore the spectacular eco game and nature reserve. There are 20 campsites scattered throughout the grounds, each with its own braai area and running water. Visitors enjoy relaxing in the spectacular surrounds, fishing, birding, going on picnics and guided walks.

Pitjane Fishing Camp Bookings: Call 012 729 4101 / 2 or email borakalalo@mtnloaded.co.za

Find it: Pitjane Fishing Camp on Google Maps


There you have it – 25 of the best South African campsites. Where are you planning to go camping this summer? Let us know in the comments below and remember to post your camping pics on our Facebook page!

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All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

The post 25 Of the Best South African Campsites to Pitch Your Tent this Summer appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

How to Deal With and Avoid Lost Luggage

Have your bags ever fallen victim to the bottomless pit of lost luggage? If you’re a frequent flyer and the airlines haven’t lost your luggage before then consider yourself lucky. As frustrating as it is when the airlines lose your luggage, I guess you have to put it down to human error… these things happen. At the same time, it can be an extremely annoying experience when your luggage is MIA and you have no idea where it is or how to get it back.

We answer some frequently asked questions about lost luggage and how things like this happen in the first place and discuss what you need to do to retrieve it from the Bermuda triangle of lost luggage.

luggage

What percentage of checked bags are lost?

Airlines are getting smarter about baggage handling and relying on technology such as luggage tags and automated tracking systems to track luggage at major transfer points. This means the chances of your checked bags getting lost are very slim. However, the chances of luggage being put on another flight or taking a detour to another airport are greater on connecting flights.

The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.” – Mark Russell

What happens if an airline loses my luggage?

If your luggage goes AWOL the first step is to not panic and blame or be nasty to the airport staff or people who are trying to help. This is what you should do if you find yourself standing at the carousel and your bag is nowhere to be seen:

  • First check the other carousels, baggage office, or holding area. It is rare that this happens, but there is always a chance that your bag made the flight but was offloaded somewhere else.
  • If your bag was delayed, the check-in tag on your luggage should allow the airline’s online system to figure out where your bag is and why it was delayed.
  • If your luggage has disappeared without a trace, you will need to report it to the airline and/or baggage claim office immediately. If you were on a connecting flight you will need to report it to the operating airline of your last flight. Include a detailed description of your bag and travel itinerary and be sure to include contact information so they can get hold of you. You should also ensure you get a reference number.
  • Follow up with the airline within 24 hours and request a reimbursement for your checked baggage fee (if applicable).
  • If the airline is able to locate and retrieve your luggage they should courier it to you free of charge, but this is not always the case. Double check if there is a delivery fee and don’t be afraid to insist that they return it to you, especially if the items you lost were valuable.
  • If your luggage is not found and returned after 21 days it is considered lost forever. You will then be able to make a ‘lost baggage’ claim with the airline and be compensated for your loss. The claim process is a lot more detailed so you will be required to list everything that was in the bag and include purchase dates and receipts for expensive items.

Note. Different airlines may have different policies for lost luggage.

lost luggage

How much do airlines have to pay for lost luggage?

Various airlines offer compensation for essential purchases if your luggage is delayed and compensation for your luggage and its contents if it is lost forever. If you are claiming expensive items as part of the lost items, you will be asked to prove that you owned those items.

Note: Certain airlines do not take responsibility for expensive items such as visas, computer equipment, electronic devices, mobile phones, fragile items, business documents, and jewellery in lost luggage.

How do I track lost luggage?

Most airline websites have a lost baggage tracker section where you can put in the tracking number and see the status of your luggage.

travel luggage

How can I avoid losing my luggage?

Having travel insurance is great, but most of us will agree that we want to get our original belongings back. Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take to ensure you never lose valuable luggage.

  • Pack valuables and your favourite jacket in your carry-on luggage. Many airlines do not cover valuables that get lost or stolen in checked bags. This includes passports, cameras, cellphones, money, and jewellery.
  • Clearly label your bag with your contact details and destination. This will make it easy for the airline to track you down and return your luggage.
  • Make sure the person who checks your luggage attaches the correct destination ticket.
  • Customise your checked bag to make it easy to identify so somebody doesn’t grab it by accident. Buy a suitcase in a distinct colour or get a unique luggage belt or tag.
  • Ensure you have enough time between connecting flights and avoid late check-ins. If you barely make a flight there is a good chance your luggage won’t. If you are flying with multiple airlines you will have to re-check your luggage.
  • Make sure that you keep the luggage stub from your checked luggage as it is a critical piece of information to prove ownership should your luggage get lost or stolen. The ground staff will usually stick it on the back of your boarding pass.
  • Consider getting traceable luggage tags. They are nifty inventions with GPS locators that give you more control over the whereabouts of your luggage when it’s out of your sight. They work on a global scale and will give you peace of mind for those long-haul flights where multiple connecting flights and stopovers can increase your chances of losing your luggage.

travel bags

Unfortunately, many travellers are at the mercy of airlines when it comes to luggage, but by clearly labelling your luggage and being careful about choosing a flight with enough connection time between flights, you should be able to avoid having to deal with lost luggage.

Add Delayed and Lost Baggage Protection to your flight booking and our partner, Blue Ribbon Bags will try to locate your luggage within 96 hours from the time your flight lands.

Has your luggage ever gone missing on a trip? Let us know how you dealt with it in the comments section below!

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Disclaimer

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this information.

The post How to Deal With and Avoid Lost Luggage appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Trust these travel gadgets to make your next trip easier

Travel can be tough unless you have a handy travel gadget! You’re jammed into tiny seats, terribly close to strangers with nowhere to escape to if they have smelly breath. The hours are long, your hand luggage weighs more than it should and of course, the chatty group of friends on their way to a two-week holiday can be rather frustrating.

Always pack a practical travel gadget

All of this doesn’t, however, mean that your trip can’t be a breeze, and if it isn’t a breeze, then at least it should be comfortable and a little easier than your last. We’ve rounded up a list of travel gadgets that are sure to make any travel marathon that much better…

Invest in a set of noise cancelling headphones

Other than being placed next to the toilet on a long haul flight, the next worse thing is being directly over the wing and by default, the engine. The whirring of a Boeing can become pretty frustrating after the first hour, so noise cancelling headphones are going to come in handy travel gadget to cut out the noise.

Plus of course, noise cancelling headphones will also help drown out any noisy passengers around you, and prevent you from being woken up when you finally get some sleep!

travel gadgets

Handy hint: If you opt for traditional headphones with an auxiliary cable, keep a lookout for adapters that allow you to plug your headphones directly into the aeroplane’s headphone socket. You can usually find these at the airport or in electronics stores.

Take along an e-reader or tablet

Rather than trying to stuff in a set of heavy and cumbersome books, invest in a e-reader or tablet as a travel gadget. They’re obviously a lot slimmer and easier to pack, plus of course, you can carry even more books than you had anticipated in digital format!

If the cost of an e-reader or tablet is just too prohibitive, then search the web for e-reader apps that work with your smartphone. Downloading books to your smartphone is another option to carry less physical books on your next trip!

travel gadgets

Weigh it up with a luggage scale

We’ve all been there: standing in the check-in queue, luggage at the ready, and panicked about whether we’ve over-packed. Nobody wants to the be the passenger digging through and organising their luggage on the airport floor, so get savvy about it!

Luggage scales, made as travel gadgets, easily hook onto the handle of your suitcase, allowing you to quickly weigh and assess whether you’ve put too much into your suitcase and whether you need to reconsider what you’re taking along on a trip (or home for that matter). Doing this before you even leave for the airport will give you peace of mind, making the airport experience a simpler and more enjoyable one!

READ: Plan the best backpacking adventure with these apps

Pack your portable charger

Travelling is already quite stressful, especially when you’re in a foreign country, you don’t speak the language and all the signage you see is in another alphabet. The best way to keep in touch and on the go is through your smartphone. Translation apps, maps, and travel guides are all at the touch of a button, but what happens when the battery dies?

A good quality portable charger is the best travel gadget–to make sure your battery is always topped up and you don’t end up spending more time than necessary in a cafe getting charged up. Invest in a portable charger as a travel gadget with a big battery life so you can charge your smartphone more than once, and perhaps even charge your tablet. Some chargers now also charge a laptop, which is definitely useful for long haul business trips.

Travel Gadgets 1

Up your photo game with smartphone lenses

Why be limited to what your smartphone is capable of? If you’re travelling, you’ll definitely want to be able to capture each and every special moment as you go. Most of us only carry our smartphones when we travel but are often limited to what photos we can get with these.

READ: Top travel photography tips from the pros

A set of smartphone lenses that clip onto your smartphone can convert your basic images into super wide landscape ones. Or if you love being creative with your travel photos, a fish-eye lens will give you a fun effect. Once you’re done, all you need to do is detach your lens and pop it back into your bag!

travel gadgets

Keep the vibe going with a portable speaker

You know how whenever you hear certain songs, it throws you right back into the memory that it’s linked to? The same can be said for travel and music. Enhance your trip by taking with a small portable speaker as a travel gadget of choice that you can use in your hotel room or on long car journeys.

Better yet, set up a playlist in advance of all your favourite feel-good tracks and shuffle through it during your trip. This will also be useful in case you’re stuck inside due to bad weather or just having a spate of unfortunate travel events.

travel gadgets

Keep everything safe with an anti-theft backpack

Sightseeing can be tons of fun when you’re on that holiday of a lifetime. But where there are crowds, there are pickpockets and scam artists. One way to prevent your stuff from getting stolen is by taping it all to your body with duct tape, but an easier solution is storing it in an anti-theft backpack.

Generally, these backpacks are designed to hide their zippers so they can’t be opened all that easily from the front, only when removed from your back. A clever way to deter pickpockets!

If you can’t find or afford one of these nifty backpacks, take precautions by using locks, carabiners and cable or zip ties to secure the zippers and pockets on your bags when you’re out and about in busier neighbourhoods. Carrying your backpack on your front is another way to deter criminals.

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You’ll need an electrical adapter

Finally, but certainly not least, don’t forget to take along a multi-purpose adapter or travel adapter. South African plug sockets are different to the rest of the world and you don’t want to end up with a dead laptop or phone battery on day one while you hunt out an adapter. You can find these at most electrical stores or even at the airport if you forgot to pack one!

What other useful travel gadgets do you always pack for your trips? Let us know in the comments below…

The post Trust these travel gadgets to make your next trip easier appeared first on Travelstart Blog.