There's no greater joy than travelling and having a great time.
(In the same breath there's nothing worse than ending up at places that do NOT make one feel comfortable.)
I
t's our pleasure to show you what we've experienced to help you plan your next trip.
Heading some place specific and want to know if we've been there yet? Use the "Search this Blog" facility. Just type in the name of the town or facility you wish to find out about and if we've been there it'll be here.
If there's anything you'd like to know about the places that we highlight here, please fell free to leave a comment or contact us directly via http://www.facebook.com/sareviews
or email us on info@sareviews.co.za

I hope you'll find our reviews helpful, insightful and inspiring. Here's to seeing you on the road...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Albizia - A true sparkle in the Gem of Cullinan


If ever you want to spoil yourself one Saturday or Sunday and are feeling at a loss of what to do, do yourself the favour of heading down to a little town called Cullinan just North East of Pretoria.
This charming village has managed to hold on to much of its mine village character - its historic stone and corrugated iron mine workers’ houses, offices and churches a throwback to the mining times of the early 1900s. Cullinan is famous for the discovery of what became known as the Cullinan Diamond - the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found.
But if I had any say in why this town is famous, I would attribute it's fame to Oak Avenue, and especially Albizia Restaurant.

If you follow Oak Avenue, lined with both Oak and Jacaranda trees, down to the end you'll discover the Gem of Cullinan - no, not the diamond, the restaurant... Albizia. An eclectic yet amazingly comfortable restaurant hailed by House and Leisure as "South Africa's best kept food secret".

The menu changes constantly and you are are ALWAYS treated something outstanding.
Our party of 4 each ordered a different dish and were so enamoured with our choices that we didn't even think of sharing :-)

Apart from the food and the atmosphere, you might also be privileged enough to bump into a local celeb or two. While there I had the privilege of chatting to Laurika Rauch  who strongly suggested I tried the "skaapsterjies" a suggestion which with I wholeheartedly concurred as they were absolutely amazing.

Knowing that a picture says more than a 1000 words here's what we had:


Albizia flat-bread pizza

Goat's Cheese Salad

Halloumi Salad

"skaapsterjies"
Here's the menu for THAT day ;-)

And some other rather happy clients had the following to say:


So how do you get there?
Their address is 47 Oak Avenue, Cullinan.



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Friday, 3 August 2012

4 Friends Country Estate


Exhausted, and I might add a little stressed, Heidi and I climbed into the car with a huge sigh of relief. We were heading off to another beautiful part of the country... The area around Dullstroom.
Our Destination? A luxury self-catering estate called 4 Friends Country Estate.

The Area is known for it's idyllic scenery and world renowned trout fishing destinations and may I add right up front, 4 Friends Country Estate does not disappoint.

We arrived 3 hours later, in the early evening to a stunning sunset while being greeted by the resident Zebra, Eland, Springbok, Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest and a couple of fine looking Simmentaler bulls.
The farm is spectacular with views of the valley and dams that take your breath away.

The lodges themselves are pure luxury. No expense has been spared to make sure you have all the creature comforts you need as you break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Fully furnished and stocked with everything from percale linen, wine glasses to teaspoons, the only thing you need to bring with you is your food. Although amply stocked with wood for both the indoor and patio fire places, you can order more if you so need.










This place is ideally suited for the avid fly fisherman, or great for a family break away.
If you love birding or wildlife you too will be spoiled here. (Although it was never mentioned, this farm would be idea for mountain bike trips as well - in fact next time we go we're definitely taking our bikes with)


The kids had a ball as there's plenty of space to run around and explore and when they've had enough of the "great outdoors" there's always DSTV to keep them out of your hair while you curl up on a couch overlooking the majestic valley and read your favorite novel. (Hell, this place is perfect for even writing your own novel)

As a photographer I had a field day, evidenced by the pictures in this review. They also cater for hunting parties and tailor make packages to suit you. (Although don't think that you can just pop in for a few days and expect trophies.. no if you want perfection, you need patience in Africa)





After an amazingly relaxing weekend of fresh air and "vegging", we headed back to the Jacaranda City refueled to take on the world again.

Would I recommend this to families? Absolutely!
Where can you find them? S25 35' 12.1" E30 08' 28.1"

For more information head on to http://www.4friendscottages.co.za
(I have it under good authority that they'll be upgrading the site soon.)

video

Have a look at their video. Nicely done.



Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Rietondale Lodge

There's nothing nicer than finding a place that not only caters to one's culinary needs but takes the whole family into consideration, from kids to sport loving partners.

Well it took me some time in the jacarander city but I believe, apart from the Spur, I eventually found just the place.

Arriving early Sunday for a bite to eat we found the waiters and manager friendly and very helpful, although we did have a bit of a toss-up regarding whether to watch the F1 or SA vs England cricket match... so we ended up doing both ;-) The lodge and the resturant, "La Cantina" both have their won channel and we could then settle for both.

There is an outside smoking section for those who would like to relax with a good ol' cigar and bourbin after a very hearty meal ;-)

We had creamy garlic snails and their mussles as starters...
The snails I was told was above average, and not having actually tasted them myself I'll have to believe Jade and Celest.
We on the other hand had the Mussles and they were absolutely superb... the closest I can come to describing them is to say they tasted like they came straight out of the sea.

I then had the Half Flat Chicken... After making doubly sure it was soft and juicy!
Well it wasn't as juicy as I'd have liked it but it did hit the spot and wasn't so dry to ruin it. I would recomend it to someone who enjoys home cooked chicken.

The Pizza's were outstanding and my compliments have to go to the chef for actually cooking them the way they were asked for. (This doesn't happen very often)


The meal was finished off with Dom Perdo's and Irish Coffee's which, with all said and done, was the perfect way to end a very pleasant Sunday afternoon lunch with friends.

Would I recomend this restaurant to my friends?
Definately. Especially if they have kids.
(For thos of you who don't have kids, there's a bar section you can sit in which is really pleasant).

Where will you find them? GPS: S 25 44' 2 " E 28 13' 27"
How can you contact them? Tel: +27 (0) 12 329-2910
Fax: +27 (0) 12 329-4609 /+27 (0) 86 299-1640
E-mail: info@rietondalelodge.co.za

TIP: You should book if you want to be outside near the kids play area.

Have a look here for more info:
http://www.lacantina.co.za/index.htm
http://www.rietondalelodge.co.za/index.htm

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Elangeni Lodge, Mpumalanga

They say that the dung beetle is the "Canary" of the bush veld.
In the old days, I'm told, the miners used to take canaries down the mine with them as an indicator of how safe the air was down there. If there was a gas leak or any harmful substance in the air, the canary would be the first to die. If the canary died the miners would skedaddle out of there. And so they say that the African Dung Beetle is a prime indicator of how well the bush is doing.

It was much to my delight when I woke up the first morning, after a fit night's sleep in my double bed wrapped in percale linen, that I should stumble upon this fine insect of the bush.


Being close to the border of Swaziland and Mozambique makes this little stop over a great place for business travellers doing business in either or both of these countries.

With comfortable room and a really African experience buffet breakfast and delicious evening meals this in and of itself was enough to make Thabs, my compatriot, want to bring his wife here for a weekend away.





But.... That was not all!

We were spoiled to an African cultural village experience which was one of the best I've ever had. (And I've had a few )

We were introduced to how things were done in the old days and shown a traditional "pillow" (all I can say is that pillow fights had a whole different meaning in those days )

Here are the pictures from our Cultural Village Experience...  (I hold fast that sometimes images speak louder than words)

Here we're told about the various outfits the girls wear and what they mean.

All I can say is... "I wouldn't want to bump into this crowd while alone in the bush at night.

Here the men, and women below, show off their skills as they dance to attract the attention of a possible suitor.


A truly African love song.

Here Thabs gets the once over from one of the Mamas

Catch me if you dare.... (A playful virgin entices us to "choose her")

look white men can dance... well sort of :s

Thabs getting in touch with his routes.
To find out more about the lodge and get contact details etc, visit their website here: http://www.elangenilodge.co.za


All-in-aIl a very pleasant stop over. If you're looking for an affordable truly native bush experience then this is place to go...


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Rebellie - Mountain Biking in The Maluti Mountains


 
With the camp site set up and the fire burning fiercely, I light my pipe and take a long deep breath.

I literally feel the world’s cares melt away into the valley before me as I’m watched over by the enigmatic mountains known as the Maluti Mountain Range.
Just to the left of me and somewhere in the distance behind me I hear what I first thought was the high pitched sound of tree frogs in the night, only to discover that my bush knowledge is severely challenged. It was, in fact, the bray of the countless Black Wildebeest that roam these mountains. The scene is serene and literally compels one to just sit and stare while the sun sets and the braai crackles before me.


BUT that is not why we’re here…

Our bikes are primed and rearing to get a taste of what these mountains can throw at us.
Our base camp is the 4x4 accredited farm called “Rebellie”. (When asked where the name came from Nick, the proprietor, said that he had no idea. But apparently a couple of clicks away are some caves where the Boere hid their wives during the war and this might have led to the name)

The farm is well kept boasting one of the Top Ten 4 x 4 Trails in South Africa (Drive Out Magazine 2005). This lends itself to some fun, challenging and technical routes for the more adventurous mountain biker, all the while watched on by a very wild bunch of spectators in the form of Zebra, Black Wildebeest and the occasional Eland if you’re lucky. (May I suggest taking along a pair of binoculars if you’re into birding and getting a good look at the shy Eland).
We were only there for two days and so were able to just cover the more modest routes, although we did climb the mountain to join the milder of the 4x4 routes at a strategic spot where we were faced with a descent of mediocre technicality.





The camping facilities are attractively rustic and they don’t cater for to many campers, keeping it rather exclusive.
The tents are erected around a very well built “barn” where you are able to plug in power cords and use the well kept ablutions and kitchen facility should you so desire.

Other facilities on the game farm include 2 lodges, each with a Jacuzzi and a larger dwelling (sleeps 12) suitable for large family outings, bachelor parties, Passover dinners and the like.






Once you’ve done your morning workout on the mountains there’s plenty to do on your bikes in the area. After we returned from our “wild” ride, (made a little more tougher than usual due to the altitude of 2010 meters above sea level) we rustled up a hearty breakfast, washed up and then headed on down to Clarens, a little town that offers a great eclectic experience of food, wine and great art. (It reminded me a little of the way Pilgrim’s Rest used to be before the street vendors took over there). 

We parked our car, unloaded the bikes and cycled our way around town, stopping in at the various galleries and eateries that grabbed our imagination. While there we chatted to the locals and discovered a quaint little ride down by the river through the Lombard Poplar and Willow Trees.



The next day after another awesome ride around Rebellie, watched on again by our now familiar friends the Black Wildebeest (we even named one or two of them) 
George the Gnu
 we had the arduous task of packing up camp and heading home, but not before popping in at the Golden Gate Nature Reserve, a spectacular site for even the most calloused of adventurers.
Here you will find a little 30km loop from which, on a clear day I’m told, you can see the Drakensberg Mountain’s Devil’s Peak.


All-in-all an incredibly rejuvenating experience allowing us to brush the cobwebs of the city out our psyche, connect with nature and get some great biking under our belt… a must for any serious mountain biker out there.

The Logistics:

Only 3 hours drive from Pretoria/Johannesburg/Durban or Bloemfontein, this little “jewel of the free state” can be found here: S 2834 54.6 ; E 28 29 15.1
(Due to the altitude, I suggest taking something warm as the wind can get a little nippy at the best of times)
It is recommended that you go in a 4x4 but our little Corsa Lite, with bike rack, handled it very well. (Just drive carefully)

The camp site only costs R100 a night and is a bargain at half the price. (If you want to hire the hall it’ll put you back another R800 a night, which for a large group is very reasonable)
For other info on the farm go here: http://www.rebellie.co.za
For more info on Clarens: http://www.clarenstourism.co.za

Where we've been