This is not a Sunday drive for families that we offer you here. It is not simply in praise of a few African roads, either. No, in this 30th edition, we take you on the most beautiful roads of Southern Africa. Extraordinary roads that, alone, are worth the trip.

Sand, canyon, mountain, ocean, desert, countryside… with nearly 5 million km2 of playground, Southern Africa has something to dazzle the eyes, especially with destinations as impressive or idyllic as Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho and Mozambique ...

Alternately immersed in the geography, history, architecture, culture, biodiversity, recreation and local gastronomic traditions, each route carries its own legacy of which we are the privileged witnesses. Each strip of asphalt, of dust, each perfect mixture of convoluted curves and long straight lines that we have chosen is worth contemplating - the common denominator being the beauty of the breath-taking scenery.

I leave you here to enjoy our selection, our experience and our advice, in this newsletter number 30, which also marks the passage to the thirties for 3 of our staff to whom I wish a happy birthday.

Enjoy the road!

S.C.
thirty something

Freedom. It’s the feeling you get when driving in an overwhelming landscape…
Don’t forget your camera, your favorite music and good company…

Click on the Road Signs to explore...

The Blyde River Canyon

Car, Check. Picnic Basket, Check. Camera, Check. Sense of Adventure, Check. Fresh air, check. Ready for a scenic day trip on the Panorama route along South Africa’s largest canyon: the Blyde River Canyon?

South Africa’s well known Panoramic route which stretches along the Blyde River Canyon, filled with mists, beautiful sunrays, grasslands, riverine forest and the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve are only the tip of the iceberg of the visual delights that you will experience on this road trip. Most of the road meanders amongst lush green vegetation with breathtaking views.

The first stop once you drive North from Graskop is the Pinnacle -- a thin, tree-topped, 30m-tall .Quartzite rock that juts below the view point. God's Window, 4km further, offers the first view of the open lowveld plains and one of the most spectacular viewpoints in South Africa. At an altitude of 1730m, it is the highest viewpoint in the area and very well named. It is no wonder that Mpumalanga is known as Paradise Country!

Follow the winding road until it leads you to Lisbon Falls, which drops from 37m and is the highest waterfall in the area. There is no lack of cascading waterfalls in the area, as nearby you can visit Berlin Falls just to name a few! Just North, The ‘Bourke’s Luck Potholes’ are a geological phenomenon which have taken thousands of years to form strange cylindrical sculptures carved by swirling water.

  • The Blyde River Canyon
  • The Blyde River Canyon

Some 20km north is the lookout for the Three Rondawels, among one of the most impressive stop of the entire trip. The name does nothing to describe the humbling size of what beckons. Thousands of feet below, the Blyde River snakes its way through the canyon to the tranquil Blyde Dam, embraced by green mountains. Beyond, the great lowveld plains shimmer in the distance. A stop here also offers a chance to sample some local arts and crafts, with curio stalls overflowing with mementoes and potential presents for loved ones back home.

Hippopotamus and crocodile live in and around the rivers and wetlands of Swadini Dam, as do water birds and otters. If you are ‘lucky’ enough, you may also have a once in a lifetime encounter with a hippopotamus crossing the road in front of you, as I once experienced, much to my shock! Do not be fooled by these gentle creates, as they can run up to 50km per hour!

Pilgrims Rest is a little village with a rich colourful history well worth a stop on you drive back to Graskop. It is picturesque and filled with stories from days of the ‘Gold Rush’. Pilgrims Rest is a living museum preserved in exactly the same architectural style of the Gold rush period.

The perfect place to bring your journey to a meandering end, would be a visit to Mac Mac Falls, 65 metres high and declared a National Monument. Enjoy your picnic amongst the shade of the trees. Let your mind unwind and replay the enchanting memories of the day and dream of days to come exploring all the wonders of this beautiful country, South Africa!

by Erika Costa

Road D707

I was on a trip around Namibia, which is already the most scenic country I’ve ever crossed, spending a night at a lodge called Klein-Aus Vista, on my way to Sossusvlei.

The plan was to go to see the wild horses of the desert, before taking the main road to the Namib Desert, when my hosts mentioned an alternative road, the D707… And I'm still grateful for that!

I left Klein-Aus after a big Namibian breakfast and followed the more or less straight C13 road northwards. The road crosses the vast Neisip plain, with the red Koichab dunes to the West and the Rooirand mountains to the East.

The D707 turns west shortly after, first over a little pass with quiver trees, to then follow the half circle formed between the Koichab dunes and Tiras mountains. There was quite some game to be seen, mainly springbok, oryx and ostrich, as well as the occasional flower. But it's the landscape with a folly of earth colours that really struck me. The rugged Tiras mountains are of a very dark plum colour; most Koichab dunes feature the same too-orange-to-be-true ochre as Sossusvlei, whereas other dunes are beige. The plains in between are covered in yellow grass, dotted with the occasional green camel thorn tree. And all this under a steel blue sky!

  • The road D707
  • The road D707

Just mountains, grass and dunes may sound monotonous, but I believe I stopped every 500 m because the view was even more breath-taking than before...

The pictures I took are meaningless compared to my memories of the places depicted. My favourite place is a big plain I called "the arena", close to the border of Karas and Hardap regions. To the left, bordering the road is a sea of red dunes and to the right an arena-like plain with round anthill-like mountains in a semi-circle. The mountains seemed to hover over the plain, in the heat, and a few trees to their feet flickered like mirage. Was it my mind playing some game on me? Could be, all I do know is that, the D707 is seriously beautiful!

by Cécile Castoldi

Road 62

A 7 days Motorcycle safari along the Road 62

Today I want to take you on my dream motorcycle safari to the heart of the Little Karoo. Jump on your Harley Davidson, power it up and follow me….!!! We will start and end the tour in Cape Town, giving you the opportunity to extend your holiday by a few days to explore this jewel of South Africa.

After spending the first day riding along the Cape Peninsula in the direction of Paarl and Franschhoek in the Winelands, stopping at all the major tourist attractions and enjoying the sightseeing, we will end the day on a charming farm in Robertson…with some well-deserved wine tasting at the end of day!

The next day we will spend experiencing the semi-arid area of the Karoo with visits to historical villages, while riding along wide open roads until we reach the town of Prince Albert at the foot of the Swartberg mountains. Just picture it for a second: You are travelling on the best roads in Harley-Davidson style, enjoying unique African scenery in one of the top luxury safari destinations in the world. On par with Route 66 in the United States, believe me! On your bike again, listening to the engine humming as it carries you over two large chains of mountains and a short ride along the coast to reach the lagoon city of Knysna where we will spend the afternoon relaxing and exploring the village, while tasting some local oysters.

  • Road 62
  • Road 62

As we start our return journey to Cape Town we take a different route through the Langeberg. The long sweeping bends of the Outeniqua Pass take us onto Route 62, a beautiful ride through the little villages of the ostrich breeding area that is the Little Karoo. Why not enjoy an Ostrich ride? We will spend the night in the village of Montagu, famous for its hot springs.

Finally we ride through Swellendam, where I love the country atmosphere, to reach Hermanus. How to end such an amazing experience after all the good moments we have spent between bikers…by a whale watching boat trip to spot the giant mammals frolicking in the waves. Yes we are lucky! Let’s Rock’n Roll!!!

by Emilie De Carvalho

The Namib Desert

Our journey begins in the Namibian capital Windhoek...

After landing and the usual customs procedure, the real adventure starts. We are all excited loading our 4x4 vehicles, our hopefully reliable companions for the next days in the desert. We quickly leave the vibrant city life behind us and go en route towards the Kalahari Desert. After 4 hours of driving we reach the first outskirts of the Kalahari Desert. The first game, Gemsbock and Kudu welcomes the group on the road side. A breathtaking sun-set and a sun downer before dinner at our first lodge – the Anib Lodge - guarantees that everybody will fall asleep with a smile on their face.

  • Namibia
  • Namibia

Early in the morning we wake up to the sounds of a herd of Buffalo strolling past the lodge on their way to the next waterhole. Before the sun rises we hop onto game drive vehicle for our first safari. Franklin, our ranger, shares his remarkable knowledge of this unspoilt part of nature. A lunch in the bush underneath a light green, spiky fever tree and a traditional, fiery African dinner in the boma complete a fantastic day.

The second day begins with a big surprise, as we manage to spot a group of lions, finishing a buffalo they obviously hunted down the night before. Besides us, only a few eagles above in the sky observe this memorable moment.

The next morning we continue our journey towards Sossusvlei. In Sesriem we reload our vehicles to ensure we are not running out of water and petrol. We enter the largest nature conservation area in Africa. After a wonderful dinner at the Soussusvlei Desert Camp we enjoy the unmatched clarity of the sky while star-gazing and recapping the uncountable impressions of the first days.

Early in the morning we make our way to the famous dunes, the ideal timing to take some unique pictures of nature’s beauty. The unique colour and ever changing shapes of the dunes accompanied by the dead trees, some are up to 550 year old, are simply breathtaking! In the afternoon we have great fun discovering the desert on some quad bikes. Our last night in the desert we sit together around the campfire, speechless by the night studded with stars.

We continue through true desert landscapes, habitat of the ancient and unique Welwitschia plants. After five hours we get the first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean and the endless beaches before we arrive at Swakopmund. The beach resort, which was founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa, is the perfect place to recover from the journey and recap the countless memories gathered in the last few days.

After strolling on the beach early in the morning, we head towards Windhoek to say Goodbye to Namibia…

by Alexander Hegeler

The Sani Pass

The Sani Pass is one of the most spectacular mountain passes in South Africa. This route connects Kwazulu-Natal and the independent country of Lesotho.

The route is also known as the ‘roof of Africa’ and for a good reason : the views from the peaks, some 3200 meters above sea level, are spectacular and usually reserved only for those willing to hike for a couple of days. What? Are you lazy?

The route climbs up through the sheer cliffs of the Drakensberg escarpment in a series of tight zig-zag curves… I have to admit: it is scary! The Sani Pass was originally nothing more than a mule and donkey track used to transport farming products like wool and mohair from Lesotho into SA. And a young man had a dream … of operating a motor vehicle service up this fantastic Pass, using the 4-wheel drive vehicles he had seen on service in World War II. His name was David Alexander and he founded his company Mokhotlong Mountain Transport in 1955.

  • The Sani Pass
  • The Sani Pass

At that time, many of the corners required 3 or more attempts to get round. Today, the road has been improved, but is nevertheless very steep and very rough: Not suitable for impatient people!

The Sani Pass can be done with anything from a motorbike to a minibus taxi if you are going down the pass. Going up is a different matter, I assure you! The tricky part is the severe switchbacks at the top end of the pass that will need careful negotiation. If you take it slowly, pick good lines and use your gears to help with your breaking.... you should be fine. But in my case, I’m a terrible driver and I love life so much… so I will let you experience this by yourselves!

A pub, renowned for its position as the highest in the world, lies at the top of the Sani Pass- 2874 meters above sea level. I would recommend tasting the sausages, they are delicious! If you plan to stay in Sani Pass several days, you have different options: I know a very good hotel which is the Sani Pass Hotel. The hotel opened its doors in the spring of 1958. Do not forget to eat in the restaurant: Sit under the wooden ceiling and enjoy delicious food: subtle combinations, respecting seasonal ingredients: you are going to thank the chef!

During spring and autumn, nature lovers will be delighted: A great number of birds can be found in the gardens or mountains and over 50 different wild flowers are growing in the mountains or in the resort.

Another option would be the Sani Valley Lodge Experience. Want to be spoilt? Want to go for a second honey moon? This is the perfect place! The Sani Valley Lodge experience offers fully equipped self-catering lodges. The rooms are very well lit and for me, this is one of the most important criteria.

by Julie Ponsin

The Quirimbas Archipelago

For those looking for colour burst, unspoiled spaces and immense oceans, one of the best scenic flights is above the Quirimbas islands in Mozambique.

This archipelago is up North at the border with Tanzania. You will start in Pemba, a typical Mozambican village set between coconut trees and the ocean. You will take off and immediately be surprised to see how natural this area is with only very few villages and some quiet dhows spread in the clear waters. This is a true “deep down Africa” feeling.

From the sky you can really follow the different currents and the scenery offers the most amazing range of blues dotted with pure white sand beaches and bright greens from the mango trees and mangroves. It simply dazzles the eyes!

  • The Quirimbas Archipelago
  • The Quirimbas Archipelago

You will fly over tiny islands deserted or not. But what is impressive is to see that each island is spectacular and has its own charm from Ibo and its interesting and rich culture to the private and secluded Medjumbe or the brand new Azura Quilalea and its intimate luxury.

The cherry on the cake: you can play whale and dolphin spotting. A flying safari is indeed very exciting and for those big animals it is an excellent way of looking at them.

You finally land on one of those magnificent islands, the one you have spotted and you already dream about. It’s all yours now and you can just enjoy!

by Hélène Soragna

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FOR ANY QUESTION OR ENQUIRY ON THIS NEWSLETTER

Alexander is German… and the only man in the incentive department made of 10 temperamental young ladies...
For those two reasons, we can only feel sorry for him.

Your idea of ultimate luxury ?

4-hour work week (see Tim Ferris), Amex Black card in my pocket, living in a house a stone throw from the beach.

What calms your stress ?

A nice windsurf session at one of the amazing beaches around Cape Town

If you win the roulette 9 times in a row, do you carry on because luck is on your side or do you stop playing because statistically you should now be losing ?

9 is my lucky number, so I definitely stop.

Is there a superstition that make you change your behaviour ?

I don’t sleep well during full moon.

If you were sent to a deserted island what book, disc or movie would you take with?

How about taking an iPad? Than I have lots of music, movies and books.

A small pleasure that you consider huge?

Taking my dog to the beach every morning before work.

Your way to kill time?

Tough question since I hardly ever have time to kill. But if I have, I will do some sports.

What are you totally incompetent in?

Ballroom dancing

To what are you addicted?

That’s a long list. Just some of them are windsurfing, coffee and sushi…

Your new year’s resolutions?

Stay happy and healthy and accomplish all the goals I have set myself for 2011.

What have you not done yet, but that you will certainly do one day?

Heli skiing in Canada.

To which other part of the world would you move to without any hesitation?

Is there really anyone who would leave Cape Town without any hesitation?

A word or a phrase that you hate?

This is Africa…to me the most stupid excuse when something goes wrong in this beautiful country.

If you were to reincarnate into someone from real life who would it be?

Robby Naish, former windsurfing world champion, living on Maui with his family, surfing every day, running a successful business and being brand ambassador for Porsche – what more can you ask for?