A visit to Khan El Khalili Market, the biggest bazaar in the Middle East is a must. Remember to bargain your way through any purchase – half the asking price is what you should settle for!
Helene de Jager of Harvey World Travel Oudtshoorn talks about visiting Cairo
How did you get to Cairo?
I flew with Egypt Air direct to Cairo. The flight was comfortable with good leg space.
Where did you stay in Cairo?
We stayed at the beautiful 5* Sofitel El Gezirah Hotel on the Nile river. Every room has a view of the river and at breakfast you can almost sit with your feet in the Nile!
When is a good time to visit Egypt?
Anytime after August until May - the cooler months. June, July and August are very hot – around 40ºC!
What should you do when in Cairo?
A visit to Khan El Khalili Market, the biggest bazaar in the Middle East is a must. Remember to bargain your way through any purchase – half the asking price is what you should settle for! And of course you have to visit the amazing pyramids of Giza as well as the Egyptian Museum.
What did you enjoy most on this trip?
I loved the Sound and Light show at the Pyramids - the Sphinx and Pyramids make and awesome backdrop for this spectacular show. The Sphinx plays the role of storyteller, describing the history of ancient Egypt and really helps one understand the past much better. Take something warm since the desert can get cold at night.
Did you enjoy Egyptian food?
The food was generally very good and in some ways quite similar to our South African food. We had good chicken, sometimes red meat and lots of vegetables - all well prepared. And they love serving chips with almost every meal.
Your favourite food/meal?
The Egyptians love cooking with pulses and beans and they make a wonderful creamy lentil soup. I also loved the different flat breads with hummus, eggplant dip and other meze.
What can you buy in the markets of Cairo?
Perfume oils are very popular, marble statues, spices from the souk markets, kelims, leather…
What should you not forget to take with when going to Egypt?
Sunglasses, comfortable clothes, sunscreen and a hat. And a camera that works!!
Did you enjoy the Egyptian people and culture?
I found the organised chaos of the city fascinating. And the best is that in all this chaos of a city like Cairo, people have respect for each other. You don’t see men arguing and hitting each other; cars drive in total chaos but still no one scream and shout at the next person. There seems to be discipline and politeness between people. I think we can all learn from this. The presence of the police in all corners is also very reassuring. They patrol the busses, markets, streets, tourist areas etc and are friendly and helpful. We never felt unsafe.
Travel tips to Egypt?
Do your homework. The history of the country makes so much more sense if you have some background. Drink only bottled water. You can draw money in Cairo with most major credit and debit cards - a hassle free way for money issues. Try stick to at least 4* hotels when staying in Cairo. Departures at Cairo airport are quite strict – make sure that your forms a filled in and paperwork sorted.
Could one easily attempt Egypt without a packaged tour?
We would recommend that you use a good tour operator to assist you on your tour and that you book as much as you can before leaving.
Would you go back to Cairo?
Definitely but I would go in the cooler months and try to see a bit more of Egypt and definitely include a 3 day cruise on the Nile.
I never travel without…
Eyedrops, sunglasses, headache tablets and med lemon
There are 2 different Club Med resorts on Mauritius – and it’s vital that you choose the correct one to suit your needs as they are vastly different!
There are 2 different Club Med resorts on Mauritius – and it’s vital that you choose the correct one to suit your needs as they are vastly different! This one, the Club Med La Pointe aux Canonniers, offers the traditional child/family friendly, all inclusive experience that the Club Med brand has become famous for – but if you’re a couple looking for a quiet romantic break then you’d be far better off heading to their upmarket new Club Med La Plantation d’Albion nearby.
With Mauritius having become fairly notorious for its high drinks prices, the all inclusive formula pioneered by Club Med has become increasingly popular amongst South Africans. The other aspect that Club Med has built a reputation for is the way that kids are specifically catered for at their resorts with them boasting some of the best kid’s clubs in the business – throw in the wide range of activities on offer and it’s little wonder that Club Med has become established as a firm favourite for South Africans looking for the ideal family beach holiday. This is one resort where kids are likely to have a great time and collapse every night after another day packed with fun, sun and excitement whilst parents can enjoy a bit of a break from being the entertainment committee!
Originally built back in 1973, Club Med La Pointe aux Canonniers is found in the far north of the island, just 5 minutes drive from Grand Baie with its bustling shops, boutiques and bars. The resort overlooks a long stretch of white sand beach lined with loungers and thatched parasols for guests to sprawl on, as well as a smaller arc of sand a little further away from the heart of the resort – they may not reach the heights of some of the best beaches on the island, but certainly provide a very pleasant and safe environment for kids to have fun both on the sand and in the water. Club Med La Pointe aux Canonniers certainly offers plenty to do in the resort plus lots of well-organized excursions to make the most of your island visit. There is a wide range of sports on offer which include wake boarding, windsurfing, snorkelling, catamaran sailing, water skiing, kayaking, tennis, archery, fitness, soccer and volley ball. Most sports (with the exception of golf, deep-sea fishing and scuba diving) are included in the package price and lessons are also free of charge, which makes the Club Med a great place to learn new skills whilst enjoying your island holiday.
Whilst the emphasis here is definitely not on luxurious accommodation, it’s notable that a recent renovation has left this particular Club Med with rooms that are attractive, bright and cheerful and bang up to date. Depending on your budget, the resort’s 280 rooms are made up of 3 room types: the entry level Club Rooms with either garden or sea views are attractive but quite small; then there are the slightly larger and more stylish Deluxe Rooms; and finally the spacious Suites which boast a separate lounge area. In keeping with the family friendly theme, many interconnecting rooms are available here so parents can have a bit of privacy and space whilst the kids run amok next door.
If you’re a fan of buffets, then you’ve definitely come to the right place. Le Belle Créole is the main restaurant where a vast variety of dishes is served at the buffet at all mealtimes. There’s even a Baby Zone where parents can prepare meals for their sprogs! Another option is Le Paul et Virginie, the beach restaurant located just a few yards from the beach, where you can enjoy casual lunches and more refined dinners with waiter service in an atmosphere of quiet refinement. There are also 3 bars including one open to midnight and a nightclub with a live band where parents can let their hair down after the kids have hit the sack.
A great way to experience the Serengeti and the wildebeest crossing is to embark on a fully organised tour, as this group of local travellers from George recently did.
A great way to experience the Serengeti and the wildebeest crossing is to embark on a fully organised tour, as this group of local travellers from George recently did. Here they share their journey with us.
‘We flew from Johannesburg to Nairobi and after a few hours spent shopping for perfumes and mosquito sprays, we departed for Kilimanjaro airport outside Arusha in Tanzania. Our friendly drivers from Predators Safari Group collected us at the airport for our transfer to the Serena Mountain Lodge, set in a spectacular garden setting formerly the home of a German coffee farmer. The coffee plantations are still being cultivated and the drive set the scene for the tropical vegetation which we were to experience for the next few days.
We spent the next morning in Arusha, the third largest town in Tanzania with a population of two million people, before setting off on two comfortable vehicles for Lake Manyara Game Park - home of the famous tree lions as well as the glorious pink flamingoes over the soda lake. What a sight! Lake Manyara Serena Lodge was, once again, very comfortable with fantastic meals and great service.
The next day saw us heading for the Ngorongoro Crater and a 6 hour game drive in the most surreal and almost Disney-like animal kingdom! We descended 600 meters into the crater, driving through fever tree forests and dry savannah plains where the German colonists farmed sisal in days gone by. We had lion resting next to our vehicles, saw hippos wallowing in their pools, plenty hyena and even encountered the black rhino.
We descended from the heights of the crater on day three to visit the Olderpai Gorge, now a world heritage site where fossilized footprints and skeletons were discovered in the 1930's. We then moved on to the Ndutu Conservancy Area, encountering several Masai villages en route. Ndutu is an extremely rewarding destination with animals in abundance. Our two-day stay here was scarcely sufficient to absorb it all.
Finally we travelled the 150km to the Serengeti Plains on one of the most spectacular game-drives ever experienced. We passed by numerous granite outcrops, streams and mimosa acacia trees where lion, cheetah and leopard were sighted along with many herds of wildebeest and zebra.
Leaving this magical place was an emotional experience for all of us and an experience we will cherish for life.
Rosaline Delo, Harvey World Travel George, joined the beautiful river cruise ship, the River Victoria, on her 13day cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow, cruising the Volga River.
Rosaline Delo, Harvey World Travel George, joined the beautiful river cruise ship, the River Victoria, on her 13day cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow, cruising the Volga River. Here she tells us more of her experience.
When I was given the opportunity to experience a Russian River Cruise with Uniworld River Cruises, I did not hesitate! This Russian river cruise really highlighted the historical sights of Russia along the Volga River but was also combined with relaxation time, good food and excellent entertainment onboard. I can truly say that this trip was the most wonderful experience - from the moment I arrived in St Petersburg until the day of departure from Moscow.
Arriving in St Petersburg and going through customs was fairly painless – just remember to take a pen as you need to fill in arrival forms. St Petersburg is an amazing city full of Russian art, culture and literature. The entire city centre is an UNESCO World Heritage site and is full of Palaces and monuments. The city is also known as The Venice of the North because of its location on various islands in the Neva River and its many canals and bridges. For art lovers, St Petersburg houses the world’s largest collections of art in the world famous Hermitage. A must, of course, is a visit to the world famous Russian ballet. After three days of exploring St Petersburg, we set sail to explore the towns and villages en-route to Moscow.
Moscow is the heart of Russia and is the sixth biggest city in the world. During the last seven years, Moscow has changed greatly, regaining its old glory and a new dynamism. In recent years many monasteries and churches have been restored. The Moscow Kremlin is the heart of the country and the place to which all Russian roads lead. The state armoury chamber is a repository of items of artistic and historic value. In it preserved is the wealth of the grand Dukes and Tsar’s treasuries. The Moscow metro is one the major tourist attractions of the city. The décor in many central stations is palatial, with marble, mosaics, stained glass and life-sized statues.
Accommodation onboard our floating hotel was spotless, the house staff kind and efficient and the onboard entertainment very enjoyable. All meals are included in the tour price and are of a high standard– we even once had a caviar and champagne breakfast!
I can recommend this trip to any traveller who wants to experience pampering, good dining, valuable sightseeing and overall just a wonderful trip.’
Please contact us for more information on this cruise and many other fantastic river routes available.
We spoke to Nadine Smal, Harvey World Travel in George who visited the beautiful island of Zanzibar.
We spoke to Nadine Smal, Harvey World Travel in George who visited the beautiful island of Zanzibar.
When is a good time to visit Zanzibar?
All depends on your interest, why and where you’re travelling. But for a beach holiday the best months are generally from June to October when it is the driest and the island is blessed with hot sunny temperatures.
Tell us more about the island and its people.
Zanzibar or “Unguja”, also known as the Spice Island, has a history dating back to the 1st century AD, when Greek and Roman ships sailed down the east coast of Africa. Centuries later saw a succession of Arab, Persian, Portuguese and African traders all searching for ivory, tortoiseshell, spices, coconuts, fruit, and of course slave trade.
The roads on the island are typical of an African island and a short distance could take a long time - especially after a bit of rain! The beaches all over the island are mostly tidal and swimming is only possible at high tide.
The majority of souvenir shops are to be found in Stonetown, the capital. Hundreds of little boutiques, lined-up shoulder to shoulder, sell souvenirs and goods: wood carvings, products made of Maasa beads, t-shirts, kikoys, fabrics, spices, beautiful hand carved doors, brass goods, etc. A pair of the local beaded sandals is a must!
Do you need travel insurance to visit Zanzibar?
Travel insurance is very important, no matter what destination you travel to - never leave home without your policy safely in your travel wallet.
Any helpful phrases to use when visiting Zanzibar?
Jambo is the warm welcome from all the locals – it means Hello in Swahili. It becomes contagious and you actually wake up in the morning saying Jambo! to yourself. Also remember Hujambo? (How are you?); Sijambo (I am fine); Ahsante Sana! (Thank You!) and Samahani Sana (Excuse Me.)
Welcome to a world where colours are more vivid, landscapes bolder, the coastline more dramatic, the history more compelling, the tastes more divine and where life is lived in the fast lane.
Welcome to a world where colours are more vivid, landscapes bolder, the coastline more dramatic, the history more compelling, the tastes more divine and where life is lived in the fast lane. Welcome to Vietnam!
I was invited by China Experience on a five day tour to Vietnam - and what an amazing experience this was, not only because of the wonderful country of Vietnam but also because of the fantastic tour that China Experience put together for us. They were well organized, fun and you truly got to experience the country like a local - see and taste all the wonderful things on offer.
We flew to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, and spent two nights at the Sofitel Plaza Hotel - a beautiful hotel with good access to the rest of the city. Our first introduction to the people was our lovely guide who couldn't wait to share all his knowledge of his country and was so proud and enthusiastic about all. But you soon realize that all the Vietnamese people have the same positive, friendly and always happy attitude.
Hanoi is a very vibrant city with lots of history and loads to see and experience. The best and most exciting way to see the old sights of Hanoi is by pedicab taxi, which is similar to a rickshaw. It is quite nerve racking in the beginning as you have hundreds of motorbikes whizzing past (around 16 million in Vietnam!) but once you get used to this you really get up close and personal with some of Hanoi's interesting architecture, market stalls, flower stalls and coffee shops that take over the side walks and parts of the road.
We visited all the main sights in Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's former residence and Mausoleum; the Temple of Literature; the Fine Art Museum; West Lake and the Tran Quoc Pagoda. My favorite was the water puppet show that we went to - a traditional puppet theatre that takes place on water - a definite must while in Vietnam! We spend a few hours shopping up a storm in and around the old quarter of Hanoi where you can buy wonderful hand made pottery, and even get a pair of wooden sandals made while you wait.
Once we had seen all Hanoi had to offer in two days, we left the hustle and bustle behind and head off on a three hour bus ride to Halong Bay on the north coast. Here we boarded the Victory Star Junk, a traditional and elegant sailing boat, where we spent two days sailing around the beautiful upright islands of Halong Bay. The boat was amazing with comfortable, beautifully decorated rooms. The food on the boat was superb.
While on the cruise we stopped to visit Vung Vieng Village, a hundred year old traditional floating fishing village where a small rowing boat took us around the village. We also stopped at the Thung Cave where we walked through the amazing stalactites and stalagmites. The rest of our time was spent relaxing on the sun deck and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Vietnam has many more beautiful places to see and I hope to get a chance to go back one day as this is truly an interesting and amazing country to visit.
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