Category Archives: African Safari Vacation

Eziko Cooking and Culinary School: Looking After the Future of Africa

Taken from the Eziko website

Serving as both a restaurant and a gourmet culinary school, Eziko in the Langa Township outside of Cape Town has been providing superior cuisine and cooking classes to locals and tourists alike for more than 10 years now.

Victor Mguqulwa, former Langa High School teacher, started the Eziko Cooking and Catering school in 1996 with a mission to decrease unemployment rates and increase optimism in the local communities. His vision for the school was born after he saw how much interest the students of Langa High School had in their cooking programs and competitions. Victor’s goal for the school is to educate students on gourmet cooking in hopes that they will start their own business or lend their developed cooking talents to an already established restaurant.

Victor believes that through education and skill teaching, individuals can take responsibility for the future of their communities and help to sustain their economy. Eziko was designed to provide students with the exceptional cooking and catering skills as well as the skills needed to operate in the business-world. This school doesn’t simply teach cooking skills to students, rather, it provides them with motivation to take on larger responsibilities such as providing for themselves, their families, and lending to the community.     

Taken from the Eziko website

Eziko Cooking and Catering School goes beyond ordinary cooking classes. They provide their handpicked students with a job at the Eziko restaurant and then after some basic training and experience in the restaurant they are placed into a sponsoring catering establishment for six months. Helping students to integrate themselves into the hospitality and restaurant industry, the school provides employee placement and teaches students business skills.

Recently, Eziko has been struggling due to the recession. As less people eat out and require catering services, the Eziko restaurant and catering business are receiving fewer customers than before. The restaurant and catering services were the main funding source behind the Eziko Cooking School and with many students coming from poverty stricken backgrounds it’s difficult for them to pay the full tuition. Because the restaurant and catering service are not generating enough money to completely fund the school, they’re looking for outside resources to lend a helping hand.  

Taken from the Eziko website

For 2010, Eziko is proposing a student sponsorship program in order to continue educating these students. For anyone who would like to donate money to this exceptional school, donations are accepted through Uthando. Simply specify that you would like the donation to be given to the Eziko Cooking and Catering School.

An example of what this school means to one student: “I have been here at Grand West Casino for about 3 months training to be a Chef. I can prepare for a function of at least 200 guests breakfast and hot foods and pastry. I really enjoy what I am doing here and feel so passionate about cooking.Thank you and may God be with you for your kindness.”
Yours Sincerely , Melford Mehluko

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6 Tips for Navigating Through the African Savannah without a Compass

Scenario: You’ve been lost for two days in the African savannah with nothing but the clothes on your back. You know survival skills but you’re not sure how to find civilization. The key is to stay optimistic and continue to implement your survival skills (view our post on survival skills in the African savannah here). It could take days, weeks, or even months to be found, so don’t get discouraged.

Although there’s no definite way to find your way back to civilization, there are strategies you can implement to increase your chances of finding people.   

6 tips to finding your way back to civilization without a compass or a map:

  1. Be confident: Have the confidence that you will find your way back. Don’t give up and don’t think negatively. When you think this way you become discouraged and less likely to be motivated to continue on. Keep going and don’t give up.
  2. Choose your direction and stick to that route: You don’t want to end up going in circles. When choosing the direction you want to go in, look for higher ground. This is where you’ll want to head.
  3. Climb to the highest ground: Implement your survival skills when traveling to the top and your chances of survival will be very strong.
  4. Observe from the top: Once you reach the top, make sure you have a panoramic view of the lower ground. Look for huts, smoke, villages, and streams.
  5. 5. Follow the streams: If you do not see any signs of civilization from the highest ground than look for streams—these are the best places to find civilization. Also, streams are interconnected and lead to larger streams, which will be more likely to be a large water source for villages.
  6. Use the sun and your watch: Point the hour hand of your watch directly at the sun. Look for the halfway point between the hour hand and twelve o’clock. This is north (if you’re in the northern hemisphere this would be south but since you are in southern Africa, you are in the southern hemisphere). Also, during midday in the southern hemisphere, the sun will be in the north.

You don’t want to have to use these navigation or survival skills, so always remember to stay with your vehicle and guide. Many African safari tours are comprised of a small group of tourists and a highly knowledgeable and certified safari guide, so the likelihood of getting lost is nearly impossible—unless you are intentionally trying to get lost!

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Cape Town Restaurant & Bar Spotlight: Five Flies

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From the Five Flies Restaurant and Bars website

If you’re looking for the freshest and most delectable seafood in Cape Town, many would argue that Five Flies is the place to go. With an array of specialty seafood dishes, fine meat selections, and international wines, Five Flies has positioned itself as one of Cape Town’s finest and most sophisticated restaurants.

From the boldly colored walls to the works of modern art, and the soft chandelier lighting to the superior service, Five Flies’ ambiance radiates elegance and simplicity from each of its interior elements.

Enough of what the inside looks like—you’re probably wondering how the food is. In a nutshell: it’s sensational. Chef Ian Bergh and his highly-experienced kitchen staff prepare exquisite dishes with only the freshest ingredients and flavors.

Seafood selections include . . .

• Pan-fried scallops with wilted spinach and vanilla foam
• West coast oysters half dozen with shallot vinaigrette
• Grilled kingklip with sweet potato, basil and pinenut crust, grilled red pepper and cumin beurre blanc
• Rosette of sole fillet with shrimp thermidor, creamed tatsoi, potato mash and basil cream
• Pan-fried linefish served with herbed linguini, confit tomatoes and lemon beurre blanc

 

• Grilled Chalmar beef sirloin with pumpkin, courgettes, potato galette, camembert and Medeira wine jus
• Tournedos of beef fillet, with frites, roasted courgettes and bearnaise sauce
• Springbok Wellington with mushroom duxelle, roasted butternut and foie gras, truffle jus
• Roasted confit of half duck with basmati rice, oriental stir fry and Chinese 5 spice jus
• Herb crusted, roasted rack of lamb with creamy garlic potatoes, fine beans and tomato jus
• Grilled ostrich fillet with potato gratin, mange tout, sauteed spinach and red wine sauce

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From the Five Flies Restaurant and Bars website

Fine meat selections include . . .

Five Flies isn’t just for fine dining though—it’s also a hot spot for enjoying a chilled cocktail in the open courtyard, a cigar and glass of bourbon in the Cigar Bar and Lounge, or a glass of cabernet in the brick wine bar. And for those looking to get some drinks in before a delicious meal, Five Flies offers an elegant take on the traditional happy hour.  Whatever you fancy for the evening, Five Flies has made it their mission to accommodate all tastes.

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From the Five Flies Restaurant and Bars website

During my most recent trip to South Africa, we tried Five Flies for the first time and I look forward to going back! It is now on my top list of Cape Town restaurants and bars.

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Will I Enjoy The Food In South Africa?

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Cape Town, food lovers' capital of South Africa

We’re all familiar with the famous flavors of Italian spices, hearty German food, French delicacies, and Chinese take-out, but what about South African cuisine? For many travelers to South Africa, who are unfamiliar with traditional South African cuisine, there is a concern about whether or not they will be able to enjoy the food on their trip to Africa.

In order to get a better idea for South African dishes, you will find a brief description of the influences on the evolution of South African cuisine below:

Dutch settlers brought . . .

• A variety of seeds from Europe to grow watermelon, cucumbers, pineapples, and potatoes.
• Traditional English and Dutch recipes for stews and dishes.

French settlers brought . . .

• Wine and facilitated vineyard growth throughout the region. Now, Cape Winelands, South Africa, is one of the greatest wine production regions in the world and is a must visit destination for wine lovers.

Malaysian slaves (traded by the Dutch East India Company) brought . . .

• Spices that added zest and life to traditional English and Dutch stews.

German settlers brought . . .

• German desserts including pastries and baked goods.

All of these countries, as well as influences from India and China, have shaped South African cuisine into what it is today.

Specific types of food and dishes you can find in South Africa today include:

• Produce: corn, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, fruits, and green beans.
• Seafood (a main dietary staple in South Africa): hake (commonly sold as fish and chips), rock lobster, mussels, and cod.
• Meat pies (inspired by the English and Dutch): The Boer Chicken Pie and Bobotie.
• Sausages: beef, pork, lamb, ostrich, and chicken.
• Desserts: rice pudding and melktert.
• Other dishes: rice, Frikkadels (hamburgers), and Bredies (stews).

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Lunch at La Colombe Restaurant

One of the greatest misconceptions some visitors to the region may have about South Africa is that all accommodations offer South African dishes and meats that are unappetizing. This, in fact, is an inaccurate assumption, not only because many South African dishes have been inspired by Europeans, but also since many of the hotels, camps, and lodges throughout the region accommodate foreigners who are used to more westernized flavors and dishes and prefer these types of meals. 

Although this concern is understandable as there are some dishes, meats, and ways of preparing meals in the country that many foreigners would find to be unappetizing, there are also a wealth of traditional dishes that incorporate Asian and European spices and flavors.

Some of the popular cuts of meat found in restaurants and accommodations throughout South Africa (that are traditional dietary staples throughout many regions of the world) include beef, lamb, duck, chicken, and fish. And for the more adventurous eater, there are delicious meats primarily served only in Africa, which include springbok, kudu, and crocodile.

With a variety of westernized dishes and traditional South African dishes, visitors to the region are guaranteed to find meals that fit their liking. Therefore, whether you’re a more adventurous eater or a conservative eater, you will find delicious eats.

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Client Testimonial from South Africa Family Vacation

My clients, the Sirois family, just returned from their African safari vacation to South Africa, where they traveled to Cape Town, the Garden Route and went on safari.  Here’s what they had to say:

The Sirois family having a Cape Malay cooking lesson

The Sirois family having a Cape Malay cooking lesson

Thanks to Hills of Africa we had a very unique and personalized experience on our visit to South Africa. We would never have been able to find all the wonderful places we visited without their invaluable advice. We even learned to cook a traditional Cape Malay meal in a home in the Bo Kaap District of Cape Town! Tour books don’t come close to what they did.
We had a fairly rigid time line and lots of things we wanted to do. They put together a fabulous itinerary that not only allowed us to fit in all the things we wanted (touring, shopping, wineries, safari, etc…) but also gave us some flexibility to add things along the way. They booked us with hotels, game reserves and tour guides that they KNEW would be top notch. Hills of Africa met all our expectations and more. We can’t wait to go back.

The Sirois family having lunch in Kalk Bay, Cape Town

The Sirois family having lunch in Kalk Bay, Cape Town

I love Africa, I love planning vacations to Africa, and I think it really shows.

Have you been to Africa?  What were your lasting impressions of your trip to Africa?

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Bazaruto Archipelago: Mozambique’s Remote Paradise

Benguerra IslandAlmost all exotic islands around the world—well-known by seasoned travelers—boast stunning backdrops, crystal blue water, and sprawling beaches, but none can compare to Mozambique’s prized gem, the Bazaruto Archipelago.

Whether you’re a sun worshiper, beach lover, water sports enthusiast, scuba diver, bird watcher, or adventurist, Bazaruto Archipelago is paradise on earth. It’s the ideal destination for travelers with an appetite for both exciting and relaxing activities, pristine beaches, luxurious accommodations, a cultural learning experience, and a tourism-free atmosphere.

Celebrating a unique mixture of African spirit, tropical ambiance, and breath-taking landscapes, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a cluster of five, untouched islands off the coast of Mozambique. Completely embodying the term “untouched,” these islands are free from commercial and tourism institutions.

Just how free from tourism are they? There are no roads . . . no shops . . . and no tourist attractions. The unspoiled nature of these islands is what provides you with a sense of complete clarity and an authentic insight into the local culture, and Mozambique’s natural world.

While visiting the islands of Bazaruto Archipelago, enjoy . . .

scuba diving

  • Exceptional Scuba Diving: Home to some of the world’s most stunning and lively reefs and aquatic creatures, the Bazaruto Archipelago is every scuba diver’s dream. Unfortunately, for many areas of the world our coral reefs have been stripped of life and color because of human activity and global warming, but luckily for the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, the coral in these waters continues to live on.Whether you’re a beginner diver or an experienced diver, the Bazaruto Archipelago’s surrounding ocean is characterized by its varying depths and currents, making it possible for every level of diver to enjoy.One of the most popular dive sites is Two Mile Reef—a shallow reef teeming with colorful fish, turtles, black-tip reef sharks, and moray eels. For more advanced divers, Cabo San Sebastio hosts a variety of reef fish as well as manta rays and whale sharks.For those who snorkel, the shallow reefs lining the islands provide exceptional snorkeling experiences and a plethora of reef fish and turtles.
    island tours
  • Exciting Island Tours: Mozambique safari tours take you through an expansive variety of eco-systems including dunes, grasslands, fresh water lakes, and the vast ocean. Here, you’ll see colorful birds, crocodiles, flamingos, breath-taking views, and much more. With over 164 species of bird, it’s no wonder the Bazaruto Archipelago is celebrated for its spectacular birding. Frequently spotted birds include Green coucals, green pigeons, purple banded and black sunbirds, olive bee-eaters, paradise fly-catchers, and crab plovers.In addition to island drives, cultural island tours are another great activity to enjoy while visiting the Bazaruto Archipelago. Depending on which cultural tour you choose to take part in, locals teach you about the abundant fauna and flora indigenous to the area, point out some of the most interesting natural aspects of the islands, and enlighten you with an insight into their local history. While visiting local villages, learn about the Benguerra Cashew nut trees that line the island and how the villagers harvest the nuts and husk to create delightful liquor that is unique to the area.
    Horse safaris in Mozambique
  • Horseback Riding: Famous for its sprawling and untouched pink beaches, aqua blue water, and vast grasslands, the Bazaruto Archipelago is arguably Africa’s best place to enjoy horseback riding. As you ride through indescribable landscapes with nothing but the sounds of the ocean and wind in the background, you’ll have the opportunity take in all of your surroundings and observe some of nature’s most prized gems.From the very beginning of this safari to the very end, you’ll experience the most thrilling and life-altering experience you could ever imagine. Whether you’re an experienced rider or new ride, you won’t want to miss this unforgettable horseback safari. A well trusted and respected operator is Mozambique Horse Safaris and Amanda and Patrick.
  • Excellent Fishing: As one of the world’s most famous big game fishing hubs, the Bazaruto Archipelago is famous for its ability to entice fishing enthusiasts to take part in some challenging and exciting deep sea fishing and fly fishing excursions. The deep Mozambique Channel is home to marlin, sailfish, king mackerel, bonito, travelly, and queen mackerel, making fishing in the Mozambique Channel not only challenging but exhilarating.

In addition to the rare opportunities you can experience in the Bazaruto Archipelago, the islands offer a handful of exceptional accommodations that radiate luxurious, soothing, and inspirational atmospheres. The lodges on the islands are designed for you to retreat to after a long day enjoying the Bazaruto Archipelago’s phenomenal nature. Some of our favorite lodges include Indigo Bay, Benguerra Lodge, Marlin Beach Lodge, and Azura Retreat, among many others.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a vacation full of diving, fishing, horseback riding, beach lounging, touring, or a combination of them all, Hills of Africa Travel can create completely tailored itineraries and find you the perfect accommodations to fit your specific preferences.

Have you been to Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago?  What were some of your lasting impressions?

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The Currency Exchange Rate and a Vacation Budget

When is the right time to make the currency exchange work for me?

It’s no secret, some people wait until the last minute to exchange money. Some vacationers arrive in their host country and then exchange money, which could spell financial disaster if the currency pair you’re exchanging is going through a shift. Waiting until you arrive in beautiful Johannesburg to exchange U.S. Dollars for Rands could ruin your vacation especially if the Rand has move 1400 points over the last few days. That shift may cost you $140 for every $1000 you exchange. The exchange rate can shift at any time, so it’s important to incorporate the currency rate into your travel budget by averaging your exchanges. When you exchange small amounts of money during the planning process you know exactly how much each exchange costs, so you can use real values in your budgets instead of estimating the exchange rate. Averaging is especially important on an extended vacation, because more money is needed to cover expenses.

Where should I exchange my money?

Everyone watches expenses when traveling, but not enough research is done on the currency market, which means you pay too much to exchange money. Banks add a fee to every exchange and they may only post one or two rates a day which means you may not get a real time rate, because the currency market is in motion every hour. Credit card companies love you when you exchange money with them. They use their own rate which includes a built-in profit, plus they add a surcharge to every holiday purchase, so you never know how much the trip costs until you get the statement and that’s always a budget buster. Airport currency traders may add a hidden fee to each exchange which means you have less money to spend on the trip.

A reliable currency trader can help you average your exchanges so you get a real time rate every time you exchange money. A professional will guide you through the exchange process so there are no surprises or hidden fees. Averaging keeps your budget in line and you may even come home with money in your pocket.

Other travel thoughts…

Some countries put a limit on the amount of cash you can carry through customs. If a random customs search reveals you’re over the limit, officials may confiscate your cash. Always carry cash in a money belt or a hidden pocket that’s secure and out of sight. Use hotel safes and other security measures when you arrive. Wallets and purses are easy targets so just carry enough cash in them for small purchases. Common sense is your best security tool and it’s always a good idea to use it.

ForexTraders.com focuses only on currency exchange. There are so many factors that affect currencies and the forex market.  One of these are The COT (commitment of traders) report, it is published every Friday by the CFTC and is an important piece of information to analyze when trading forex.

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