Some images from my recent West Coast road trip adventure. Paternoster’s ‘Santorini in Africa’ style town stole a piece of my heart.
Some images from my recent West Coast road trip adventure. Paternoster’s ‘Santorini in Africa’ style town stole a piece of my heart.
The thing about going on an epic adventure holiday is that when you get back, it takes a little while to settle into things and to blog about it 😉 I took somewhat of a digital detox over my two week stint in Indonesia and only uploaded a few photos to Instagram and Facebook from time to time when I felt the need and had some decent wifi.
It is now time to tell you all about it and I hope that this guides you if you’ve been thinking about an adventurous Indonesian holiday (which you should be doing).
The first spot I’d like to tell you about is Medewi – a little surfing spot along the coast of Bali. It’s about a 3/3,5 hour drive from the airport in Denpasar and it’s easy to organise a taxi for this. Chat to your hotel/guest house about it and they’re more than likely able to organise something quickly, easily and relatively cheaply for you. If you’re backpacking and winging it with accommodation, send me a mail and I’ll send put you in contact directly with the guy that drove us all around Bali whenever we needed to – he was great!
It is a slow and basic surfer’s “village” with one main surf spot called “The Point”, with “epic waves” as I’m told by those who are ‘real’ surfers (I am not one of them). This spot is also the best place to get the best cheap as chips Bali coffee and watch the surfers do their thing.
I did, however, learn to surf there in some of the smaller and less scary whitewash a little further down the bay, with the biggest surfboard you’ve ever seen in your life. I also learnt to trek what felt like a million kilometres with a surfboard (more like a boat) on my head. These are real skills, yo.
There are some great spots to chill and eat and watch the day go by through the waves. Bamboo Terrace is great for this (especially because the service is s-l-o-w) on their beanbags with surf movies on a big screen in the evenings.
Low Tide Yoga has made Medewi their home and offer Surf/Yoga retreats. Their yoga pondok is right on the beach and you can meditate with the sound of the waves in front of you. Sigh. If you’re not part of the retreat you can arrange drop-in classes.
If you’re keen for something a little different (and a good giggle), you can take a buffalo cart from The Point to Pekutatan for sundowners at the beautiful Puri Dajuma Resort. I always advise against animal-related tourist activities, especially in South-East Asia and Indonesia, but this is a local guy with his own buffalos that he keeps in his garden and they are treated very kindly, not as a commodity for tourism. You can organise this through Low Tide Yoga.
This was a great way to start an adventure and slowed me down to a perfect holiday pace. The people are friendly and inviting and you won’t be bombarded with tourist “hassle”. I’d highly recommend Medewi Beach Inn for your accommodation – it is basic and friendly (some rooms even have hot water!).
Drop me any comments if you want any more info or would like to ask me any more detail about the place and the trip.
If you’re wanting to get away from it all, and I mean REALLY away, then carry on reading.
I’m not actually going to say much about this holiday destination because I’d rather let the pictures do the talking, but what I can say is that there is a certain kind of peace in the Transkei that is difficult to find elsewhere. Rolling green hills that open up into long stretches of untouched private beaches, roaming cows and horses, fireflies, bonfires and stars as far as you can see. No signal, no electricity. The more difficult it is to get to, the more beautiful and tranquil it will be, I assure you, so don’t pick the easiest spot.
These pictures were taken on a recent short break in a spot near the Ntafufu river mouth, only accessible by 4×4 and a boat (we all took normal cars, not realising how bad the last stretch of road really was and had to be towed out – well worth the adventure, though!). They don’t call it the Wild Coast for nothing, hey 😉
Be ready to rough it, but also be ready to find your peace in the process.
I wrote this little post of creative fun for the Social Sessions blog (with artwork by the ever-talented Zoe Inc) and thought you might find it quite appealing too. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with every day 🙂
“We’re sure you’ve seen them around, these photo-a-day challenges. There’s the hardcore 365 projects where you post a photo a day for the entire year, 100 day projects where you post a photo a day for 100 days of what makes you happy and such.
Photography has taken a turn in the past few years. You no longer need a professional camera to be able to express yourself through photographs, our smartphones and tablets do the trick quite nicely. This decade is the rise of iPhoneography – photography with a iPhone – and you won’t believe the beautiful images that are created with a phone and an application. Opportunities are endless and our very clever phones allow us the freedom to explore the world of photography instantly and easily.
This being said, we introduce you to the Social Sessions Photo-A-Day challenge! It’s only for the month of February and happens to be the shortest month of the year so you don’t need to feel the pressure of keeping it up for too long.
How it works:
We’ll feature our best pics of the day for the month of Feb!
Time to get happy with your snappy…”
Guys, I do believe that I have just experienced my top holiday of all time – the island paradise of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
I find myself on a never-ending backpacker search for the ultimate island-style destination and each time I’m convinced that ‘this is the one’. Thailand’s Haad Yuan on Koh Phangan and Kantiang Bay in Koh Lanta, Cambodia’s Sihanoukville islands, Egypt’s Dahab, Australia’s Byron Bay and now the Philippines’ best kept Palawan secret:
Basic simplicity in tropical paradise of still relatively raw and untouched beauty.
My holidays tend to be simple and carefree: make-up, and pants for that matter, are long forgotten and soaking up the coastal vibes takes priority. This is what life is about.
I’ve travelled with friends, boyfriends and on my own and people often ask me about how to do it, where to go, what to do, what to book and what to just wing.
So here is my account of my trip with all the info that you need to do it yourself and know what you’re in for. If you can’t cope with all the writing, there are pretty pictures too.
Be prepared for a long haul – likely the longest that you’ve ever experienced. I sit here in Dubai airport, writing away a few hours of the 10 I have here to wait between flights. I’m feeling a little like Viktor Navorski in The Terminal. You’re looking at around 3 flights, at least, and some road time to get to this little island paradise. I kind of like that it’s a little more difficult to get to than other places – it makes it a little more exciting knowing that you’re going off the beaten track and the likelihood of bumping into someone you know is slim to none.
My journey was on Emirates from Johannesburg to Dubai and from Dubai to Manila, Philippine Airlines from Manila to Puerto Princesa, then a private van drive from Puerto Princesa (arranged by the hotel in Puerto) to El Nido. Don’t bother to spend any time in Manila – it’s a hole (I am not a fan of Asian cities at all, so nothing appealed to me here). The airport is a hole too, so try not to have too much of a layover there. In and out – that’s the key.
There is also a private charter airline ITI which flies direct between Manila and El Nido. It’s priority is the El Nido Resorts guests in the fancy Schmancy resorts on the Bacuit Archipelago, but you can get yourself onto a flight by booking directly with them or through the Art Cafe in El Nido.
After three days or so (lost count) of solid travel, arriving in El Nido is a quite a feeling to remember. There’s not much in life that is as sweet as the first glimpse of palm trees, white sand and bright turquoise sea through the gaps between the village huts. I’d later learn that Palawan was showing off its’Las Cabanas beach on the way into El Nido town.
The town itself is bustling. Through the haze of humidity, the streets are alive – street stores spilling their goods out onto the road, tricycles maneuvering through people and obstacles, motorbikes flying around corners. Hooting. Smiling. Hooting. Tricycle!
Electricity in El Nido only runs from 2pm until 6am, so be prepared to sweat it out for most of the day without fans if you stay in town during the day. The beach itself in Bacuit Bay is not fantastic, so you’ll be out each day to spend spend some time in paradise – it’s part of the adventure and SO worth it. Every day out holds something to top the day before.
El Nido town itself seems like merely a place to start your island hopping through the Bacuit Archipelago, but spend some time there and you’ll see how its’ own personality comes to the surface.
The Roof Over Your Head
El Nido town itself has plenty of basic accommodation available, but I would recommend staying a little out of the city, along Caalan Beach, where you wake up to a quieter, cleaner, breathtaking island home.
This is the view from the Main House at Makulay Lodge – a self-catering cottage with the BEST view in El Nido, I swear:
Copious amounts of gin and tonic were consumed while sitting on the deck and looking at this view – so much so that the town literally ran out of tonic water during our stay! Granted, there are 103 steps up to this hilltop paradise (which is also incredibly affordable), but you need them anyway to work off all the fresh seafood that you consume every day.
There are quite a few resorts along the coastal path of Caalan Beach as well as some incredibly cheap bungalows right on the beach, which require no prior booking – just rock up and make yourself at home.
The Stuff To Do
Spend your time in El Nido – there is so much to do and everything runs on island time so take it e-a-s-y…
Here’s some suggestions:
This is a must on your to-do list. There are four standard island hopping tours offered by everyone in El Nido and is a great start to your adventures, without you having to anything much at all. Try and find someone who will source a smaller local operation – if you get shoved onto a boat with ten other tourists and forced to wear a dorky orange life jacket, you’re likely to be less than impressed. Makulay seems to have their own little local operation that they use and even only two people on a boat is the norm.
You’ll be boated off to five isalnds/lagoons throughout the day, dropped off on the small and breathtakingly beautiful beaches, be served the freshest seafood and fresh produce lunch and snorkel/laze away to your heart’s content. It doesn’t matter that you’re sharing it with a bunch of other dork tourists, it’s so unbelievably gorgeous that you just block them out.
Another option for some island time is to pack your own food and drinks and organise a private boat drop-off and pick-up on an island for the day.
Sea kayak rentals are in abundance. Rent one of these for the day and choose your own islands to kayak to (if you’re feeling particularly energetic).
I’m a diving person, when I’m in some sort of tropical paradise and craving some boat time. There are loads of dive shops in El Nido to choose from and plenty of good dive sites. A day out on a dive boat always soothes a stressed soul.
I chose El Dive, a very new dive shop run by Yoshi Ohtshuka, who has 20 years of diving experience under his (weight) belt already. All his equipment is brand new and good quality, clean and comfortable.
You can also book in on one of the dive days as a snorkeller and enjoy the best snorkel spots with the best snorkel gear in town.
Rent a scooter/motorbike and take a scenic drive up to Nacpan Beach. When I say ‘scenic drive’ I mean ‘motor cross adventure’. If it’s been raining, you’re in for some extra mud fun 😉
Nacpan beach is beautiful and quiet. There are one or two little restaurants on the beach that you can grab some fresh seafood (seeing the pattern here?) or a coconut. There are also some incredibly cheap bungalows on the beach that you could stay at for some SERIOUS time-out. No pre-booking is required, or even possible, just rock up and chill out.
Las Cabanas is a GORGEOUS beach just a short tricycle/motorbike ride from El Nido. Hang out there all day, swim in the perfect sea and sip on cocktails while you wait for the sunset that happiness is made of. You should definitely NOT fill your coconut up with rum and take cheesy silhouette sunset photos. Just kidding. You should definitely do that.
If you walk along the beach/coastal path on the Caalan beach side of El Nido, there are two rather secluded and beautiful beaches for lazy days of nothingness and the occasional dip in the sea. You’ll catch a pretty mean sunset from there too.
Massages are on offer on almost every corner. My recommendation is most definitely the spa bungalow at Cadlao Resort – it’s outside in the shade by the resort poolside. Book your massage just before sunset and catch the pink skies as you fall into a relaxation coma. Then slip on up to the deck for cocktails and dinner. Epic.
There’s loads more – treks, mountain biking, rock climbing, overnight island camping, hikes to waterfalls… I couldn’t do it all – I became too relaxed and ‘island made’ prevented me from doing much more than walking to a beach or climbing on a boat. Life sucked!
The Food Stuff
You’ll find some lovely eating spots in El Nido. Fresh, grilled seafood is easiest to find and some speciality spots in between.
La Bodega – This stylish French spot is a few weeks old and offers some beautiful French and Western meals. The decor and ambience is by far the best in town. If you have some cash to splash, they have champagne and some good wines!
Lonesome Carabou Lounge – This Mexican spot serves decent tacos, burritos, quesadillas and fajitas. They also have speciality wiskey! Do it.
Altrove – These guys have a wood-fired pizza oven. Enough said. The only place worth eating pizza. They have a queue every night of people waiting to get in. They also do take-aways.
GK Restaurant – A tiny little local kitchen on Caalan beach makes the most delicious sandwiches, with a view to die for.
El Nido Corner – They have great Arabic coffee and homemade bread.
Advice and Tips
That being said, pack bandages, antibacterial cream and antibacterial tablets. If you cut yourself, it will not heal in the wet and humidity and is almost certain to get infected, no matter how well you look after your wounds.
The Round Up
So there it is, folks, all you need to have an epic island holiday. Get in there before it becomes another commercialised Thailand. And don’t be a douche – leave nothing but memories in the wake of your travels – respect the untouched beauty that you explore.
If you have been following me on Twitter for a while, you will remember my 365 project, where I took a photo a day for 365 days.
Well, that ended quite a while ago and I hadn’t picked up another project in this time.
Have a look and follow me on Tumblr if it interests you!
Saturday marked the long awaited post AfrikaBurn celebration in the form of Afterglow. In short, a massive party where you leave the world behind and become part of a community dedicated to ‘wicked tunes, celebration, wild abandon, creativity, participation, radical self expression and whole lot of love’ for a night.
Sounds very hippie. It kind of is. And completely crazy. Every person was dressed up in a costume of sorts – pixies, fairies, hippies, suits and a good few tutus, to name a few, and for that one night, nobody had a care in the world.
The best part of it all was the focus on charity. All proceeds from the tickets went to art grants and participation for the Highveld collective, as well as Burners without Borders. Every person also brought blankets and clothes for those that need them this winter.
The party was organised and run by volunteers. No fighting. No idiots going crazy with drugs and alcohol and causing havoc. It was just really lovely.
It is so refreshing to see people come together without hidden agendas and actually do something good for society, not just themselves.
If you haven’t checked out AfrikaBurn, or not heard of it before, go have a look. It’s a festival of this kind in the Tankwa Karoo where they create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance. The gallery on their site is just breathtaking – the pictures alone have tempted me and I can see how any person with some creativity in their blood would make the journey to AfrikaBurn.
I, however, need way more convincing to rough it for a few days in the desert of craziness!
Give me your thoughts…
I started my photo-a-day project today a year ago where I committed to posting a photo a day for a year. Before I knew it, it was over and I’m feeling a little like I’m going though a break-up.
My Tumblog has been part of my life every day for the past year and now it’s over!
*Big crocodile tears*
But wow, what a lot of memories in one year – it’s been quite a ride…amazing what we experience every day of our lives…
Go have a look at my blog and reminisce with me – I’m sure some of you will be part of the memories captured in my photos and you can take a little walk down memory lane with me!
And most importantly, now that my little project is over, I need some ideas on what to do for my next one please. I know you guys are creative so please send some ideas my way. I’d like to do something similar, as I’m not ready to let go of capturing my everyday memories on the run, but with something a bit different this time.
I eagerly await your comments!
A few of the crazies and I took the recent very conveniently placed holidays to take a real break from, well, everything we know, and packed up and headed off into the deep Transkei.
As South Africans, we are always itching to dash off overseas for a holiday when we actually have such amazingly beautiful places right here in our own country. All we need to do is rough it up a bit, go off the beaten track and we will find places like this for a ridiculous fraction of the price of an overseas holiday.
Okay, this one was quite FAR off the beaten track, I won’t lie about that, but the treacherous bends and a few encounters with near-death on the mountainside gravel dongas (I’d like to call them roads, but that would be lying), was well worth it.
Absolute untouched, unspoilt, rural beauty.
We stayed at Swell Tours Guest Lodge, a modest and rustic “lodge” on the north side of the Mdumbi river. We lived amongst the locals, minutes away from the untouched beach, with the locals helping us out wherever they could.I would highly recommend this place if you are interested in this kind of holiday – the owners are unbelievably supportive of their neighbours and in return very well respected in the area as well. It was just so easy and quite perfect, really.
The Xhosa people are so friendly and accomodating and I was quite touched by how happy they were with the little that they had. Well, depending on how you look at it, they are probably the ones who have so much and we are the ones that have very little. Humbling.
Life in the fast lane came to a grinding halt and we were very quickly forced to slow down, relax and feast on prawns, crayfish and oysters for next to nothing. Oh, and take a slow stroll down to the beach every now and then. If you’re into more than that, there are plenty of activities like surfing (the lodge is actually a surf lodge), kayaking, hiking, shebeen tours, horse-riding (although you may have to catch your own horse – true story), etc.
All in all, a truly memorable holiday that I hope you will also get to experience in your lifetime.
Support our country – there is so much untouched beauty here – you never know how long it will last.
Find your peace…