The great South African bite!

The Weekend Australian

After a morning spent getting up close and almost too personal with great white sharks we return to dry land to hear the dramatic news of two shark attacks back home. Not knowing Australia was gripped by fear we’d willingly dived into the chilly Atlantic waters off South Africa specifically to get as close as possible to the world’s largest predatory fish. Continue Reading »

The World Game heads south

Sport & Style

Never has so much depended on a sports event. The 2010 World Cup South Africa will be the biggest action extravaganza ever held on the African continent and the eyes of the world will be glued to its southern tip during June and July. Will fair winds fan the Cape of Good Hope?

South Africa has passed the litmus test of dress rehearsal by successfully hosting the Confederations Cup, but much is yet to be done to guarantee the World Cup is the winner it simply has to be.

This is the world game, in every sense. At stake is nothing less than Africa’s reputation. South Africa’s new President Jacob Zuma said as much at his inauguration in May 2009, promising that his country “will deliver a world-class event that will forever change the perceptions of the international community, and also ensure a lasting legacy for the people of Africa”. Continue Reading »

Best foot forward in Malawi

This article appeared in Best Foot Forward, an anthology of Australian travel writing.

It’s hard to hang on to your shoes in Africa. In a dusty village at the southern end of Lake Malawi mine are being coveted by Blessings and his pal Earnest.

Blessings is barefoot. Earnest is padding about in a torn and flapping pair of Chinese imitation Reeboks. The teenagers are working the fence along the northern end of a laid-back lakeside resort called Club Makakola, peddling carved wooden key rings through the wire to any guests who may, like me, wander away from thatched shade and groomed sands to explore the fringes of Club Mak’s fenced territory.

One flicker of interest in these rudimentary curios and I’ve been hooked. After some small talk through the wire, I’m offered a village tour which, frankly, sounds more intriguing than lounging beside the water under sun umbrellas, known locally as “gin-and-tonic trees”.

So I leave the confines of Club Mak, join the lads on their side of the fence and we set off across the veldt towards their home. Both boys, I note, are stealing frequent glances at my cross-trainers. Continue Reading »

Moroccan spice

The age-old and aromatic Souk El Najjain spice market, in the midst of ancient Fes, is the perfect place to soak up the flavours, hues and differing shades of taste fundamental to Moroccan life. Finding the market is a great adventure itself. You need plunge boldly into the human tide that flows ceaselessly by day through the oldest quarter of this venerable North African city. Continue Reading »

Classroom in the bush

Sun Herald

Should you ever get close enough to a lion you will immediately note that the king of the beasts is not quite as handsome as he’s portrayed in glossy wildlife photos nor quite as depicted in the classroom. A gap year in Africa can challenge many previously held assumptions. Continue Reading »

Wildlife for lunch

Our first meal in Botswana is interrupted by a pair of leopards. Two days later we lunch alongside a trio of elephants. The Okavango Delta regularly serves up the unexpected! Continue Reading »

Snakes alive!

Panorama Magazine

“You may encounter black and white rhino, elephant, buffalo and lion. You are requested to remain motionless. If the animal charges, move quickly and quietly behind cover. In the case of lions, DON’T RUN but move up in a close group behind the Game Guard.” – safety regulations at game park in South Africa.

It’s difficult to not instantly emulate Cathy Freeman when a ton-and-a-half of twitchy African elephant is bearing down in a swirl of dust, its trunk blaring wrathful and ear-splitting blasts. It’s even harder to “move quickly and quietly behind cover”, seeing that all that stands between us and the irate leviathan is a slim lad in khaki bush clothes with a .458 rifle slung casually over his shoulder. Continue Reading »

I’m going to Gracelands ….

The Age, Melbourne

To see how the majority of South Africans live you need to visit dusty townships fashioned more by urban reaction than any concrete planning. Townships such as Langa and Khayelitsha, only a brief drive from the elite suburbs of Cape Town, represent an alternative universe in terms of style and amenities. Yet both have become a magnet for tourists seeking more than the obligatory snapshot of Table Mountain and visiting the region’s fashionable wine estates. Continue Reading »