Category Archives: Travel bug

SA Leg 1: Pretoria – Waterval Boven

This first stop has been prominent in photos and recommendations, especially from my brother and his fellow climbers (the photos are also theirs). Though Waterval Boven wears the badge of “climbers’ paradise” proudly, it’s more than that; there are many other exciting outdoor stuff you can do (caving at Sodwala, mountain biking, hiking and swimming in mountain pools)… and it’s only about 240km outside of Pretoria [1]. After seeing pictures, I would absolutely have to hike to the Eland’s River Falls! Well… um, it’s not actually much of a hike. Climbers can see the falls from different angles, but without the harnesses and climbing gear you’ll simply drive through the ZAZM tunnel on the N4, and there should be a wooden viewing platform to watch the 70m plunge of water. 🙂

As a base camp Tranquilitas Adventure Farm is awesome, and besides being a home away from home for climbers (I hear), they organise a bunch of other activities you can do in the area. And… at R70 per night for a campsite, they’re the best bet for accommodation too. We would hopefully be camping a lot on our trip, starting with Tranquilitas! Waterval Boven is super close to a couple of oh-my-gosh-I-have-to-go-there! spots on my list, so we’ll camp here for a couple of nights and do day trips. Oh yeah, and they’re dog friendly. It doesn’t seem like there’s much else in the town of Waterval Boven (or Emgwenya, as it is now known), but I’m sure we can find something special there if we don’t rush through. When we’ve made the effort of driving away from the city, we would be absolutely content to simply enjoy the sounds of the night, and the smell of nature. The cute coffee shops and mouth-spasming gastronomics all have their special place later on this trip. 🙂

Riveting references [1] Watervalboven, Highlands Meander Accessed on 6 September 2014 from SA Venues website

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OSP: Tea! #4 Tea Time Travel Bug

Destination: Darjeeling

As much as I would love to plan out a trip for each and every special spot where amazing tea is grown and produced, I want to build a realistic, in-depth itinerary and post it within a week of starting this OSP! 🙂 I have decided to build a travel plan around a place that I don’t know at all and which, until recently, has not been super high up on my travel wishlist: India. More specifically Darjeeling, in West Bengal. India is a daunting destination that calls up intense images of mass poverty, almost aggressive begging and overwhelming crowds. Granted, this is not at all based on personal experience and really, from here my expectations can only be pleasantly surpassed. Of course I’ve come to distrust popular media, especially after what I’ve heard other people believe about gorgeous, sunny South Africa. However, it is still a fact that the population of India in 2012 was 1 236 686 700 (yeah, you read that right, 1,23 billion!) and 32,7% of the country is firmly below the poverty line.[1]

My itinerary will consist of a two week travel plan, with day trips, a vague plan of places to see with some detailed info about the places or how to get there… Basically this is exactly how I plan when I travel; transportation and admin stuff very prepared and more of a loose framework of things I want to fit into a spread of days, while still leaving enough time to meander, smell the city (as per Rudyard Kipling’s travel musings) and get lost in the streets. My itinerary is planned around going at the end of March, before monsoon season starts.

Darjeeling train station, Copyrighted to Atomicbre under Creative Commons license

Darjeeling train station, Copyrighted to Atomicbre under Creative Commons license

Day 1: Arrive in Kolkata, India
I will land in Kolkata, because I can get less transfers than landing in Bagdogra (the closest airport), and getting to Darjeeling overland is quicker than from Delhi. Also, I get to spend time in two cities! 🙂
In case of delays or tight scheduling and just to decompress from a super long flight, I’ll spend one night in Kolkata before zooming in on Darjeeling. Hostels are roughly ₹800 (Indian rupees) per night (i.e. US$14); I would try to stay in the area of Howrah Train Station, which is where I’m catching a train the next day. The Howrah station is in the North Kolkata area, which is known for it’s old Zamindar buildings and narrow alleyways. Though I might not go looking for these little alleyways quite yet on the first day I arrive, there is another place I would make a beeline for: College Street Bookmarket. A whole street with bookshop after bookshop, in a variety of different language on myriad topics (is what I’ve heard/read); after which I would go to the College Street Coffe House and pore over my purchases (not even kidding, I know I’ll walk away with something).
The first day of ‘take it easy and just take it in’ works well for me, so after College street, I’ll stroll aimlessly for a bit, probably keep an eye out for some sherbet, since late March already sees temperatures as high as 30 Celsius[2] as well as some street food to keep me going. On Scoop Whoop Srishti posted some amazing suggestions of Kolkatan street food to try – those samosas and phuchkas look dangerously delicious! Phuchka: “…In fact, the filling of spiced mashed potatoes dipped in tamarind water or meethe paani (mishti jol) is simply put an explosion of spicy tart, crunch and softness from the potatoes that account for a milieu of happy memories.”[3] I am so ready!

Copyrighted to Mjanich under Creative Commons license

Copyrighted to Mjanich under Creative Commons license


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