All posts filed under: Photography

The Beauty of Solitude at Sunrise

First published on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog. I want to tell you about the sunrise, because you weren’t there. You were 5000 kilometres away and I was alone on Paje beach on the east coast of Zanzibar, still expecting you to take your place next to me. I waited for the sun to peep out of the darkness before I stood up and decided to take the step forward, to explore, by myself. If you weren’t going to join me, I would enjoy it for the both of us. I would explore everything. I know that it is often that which first appears quiet or dark that holds the greatest mystery. And it did. The stillness of sunrise revealed a whole other world to me. People always say that sunrise and sunset stand like bookends on the tale of a day, but I realised that they hold stories of their own, if you take the time to look closely. Sunrise is a different story across Africa, but on a beach in the Indian Ocean, …

The Scared Heart of Madagascar

In moments like this, I can never tell whether my heart is beating faster, wilder, its doof doof doof building dizzily, or whether it has stopped. What I do know is that it is not rested in the in-between. And it is not on terra-firma, wherever it is, whatever it’s up to. Moments like this are the culmination of coming across something never before seen – not by me at least, and not by many – and seeing it with strangers, locals here in Madagascar, three people who have already made their way into my heart. This confused heart. This heart that finds itself in unknown territory, a territory so powerful that reacting in any simple way is just not possible. You made it more powerful, fellow explorers, leading me to that sacred space in the Lost World of Antafiamohara – past the tall wooden sculptures carved by local hands that call this region of and around Anjajavy in Madagascar home. The faces of those sculptures that stared back at me as we entered the …

The Art of the Heart-to-Heart in the Winelands

First published on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog. conversation noun, a talk between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged. synonyms: discussion, talk, tête-à-tête, heart-to-heart, head-to-head, exchange, dialogue, parley, powwow, chit-chat, chinwag, natter. Walking along a mountain path with Autumn’s colours spanning out from our feet and across the vines, we find ourselves falling into conversation with the people at our side as naturally as we fall into step with them. Identity seems to dissolve, while we focus more on the words and ideas (the glances and silences) playing between us. While we watch our feet, as they guide us. Conversations aren’t inherently like this. Very often we are rudely aware of ourselves, but perhaps it’s the effect of being in nature and the effect of genuine understanding – talking with someone who just gets you, whom you get. So much so that you feel as though you’re talking to yourself. But a self adding new ideas and stories to the developing tale between you all. Word of mouth, things spread, things grow and …

Waddler, Waverider, Wingman. Meet the Bird of Love…

First published on Relais & Châteaux Africa’s blog. “… Once a penguin finds its perfect other penguin, they stay together pretty much forever.” ― Anna Staniszewski This is a whole other kind of birding safari. There is no waiting for the bird to take flight, so to better capture the details of its outstretched wings. There is no scanning the trees for the shake of a tail feather or the rustle of a nest. These are birds of the sea. Aquatic and flightless and known as the African Penguin. And here, at Boulders Beach in Simonstown, Cape Town, is the only place in the world where you can get up close to them in the wild. Their tuxedo outfits and characteristic waddle aside, what makes these birds so charming is their unique love for each other. Penguins pair for life, climbing into their nests beneath the trees here at Boulders Beach with their loved one at night, every night (for better or for worse). Between ancient granite boulders, Boulders Beach is itself a declaration of love – set up to protect …

The Moonwalkers of Cape Town

First published on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog. A mountain rises up in the heart of the city. It splits off into new peaks, toward the vineyards of Constantia and Steenberg, toward the Atlantic Ocean, toward the southern most tip of the city, the Cape of Good Hope. It was here before the bars and restaurants. It will be here long after the hotels and art galleries and cinemas. It is the true north of the city, resetting us on our path – we who live around it. It is part of the city’s personality, but more than that, it is part of us. The locals. Travellers to Cape Town know its significance. It’s why most days and full moon nights you will find people from all around the world making the pilgrimage – whether to the top of Table Mountain or its outlying peaks, in particular… Lion’s Head. The mountain resembling that King of the bush but home only to the birds, lizards, dassies and people of the Cape. As ingrained in my psyche as …

At One with the Wild Things of Madagascar

First published on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog. If it is true that fear is the opposite of love, Anjajavy is one place your heart can be sure to find itself again. There are many things that scare me – the more tangible in nature, like baboons, the big cats and black mambas, but also matters of the heart, like love, truth and trust, and the possibility of losing them. Because of this, because I value courage, because I am in awe of the wonders that exist on the other side of fear, I challenge myself to cross over. Travelling to wild and remote spaces in Africa, my courage is put to the test constantly. And each time I make the leap, I am rewarded. By an excitement that makes the skin on my arms blush – from a gaze shared with an animal much larger than me. By the honour of nature’s acceptance – when a snakes slithers into my space and lingers, gently, before moving on. By the greater understanding that comes with seeing …

How to Collect Wild Elephants

Published first on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog There is a joke that goes, Five people — an Englishman, Russian, American, Frenchman and Irishman were each asked to write a book on elephants. Some amount of time later they had all completed their respective books. The Englishman’s book was entitled “The Elephant — How to Collect Them.” The Russian’s book titled “The Elephant — Vol. I.” The American’s book called “The Elephant — How to Make Money from Them.” The Frenchman’s book was “The Elephant — Its Mating Habits.” The Irishman’s named his book “The Elephant and Irish Political History.” Despite not being French, but perhaps heavily influenced by the roots of Relais & Châteaux, I gravitate toward the Frenchman’s title on the proverbial book shelf. Being South African, there isn’t a title suggestion from our camp, but I could offer the cruder, “How to Braai an Elephant”, or, rather, “An Elephant’s Guide to the Vuvuzela”. Once wisened to the mating habits of these rather unsexy individuals, I’d go the Englishman’s route. Which brings me to today and …

The African Food Safari

In the name of seeking out those dishes that make you wonder what on earth you were doing eating anything else before, read “The 5 Stages of Dining – A Food Safari at Morukuru Family” on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog.