Text: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen Photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
South Africa attracts for its safari game reserves, varied landscapes, surfing spots, beautiful Cape Town and the very well-marketed Garden Route. A day in the vineyards of Stellenbosch or Franschhoek is often part of the trip, but the rainbow nation is not necessarily renowned for its gastronomy. However, for the past ten years, the food scene in Cape Town has gone from non-remarkable to exquisite. If there are no restaurants rewarded with Michelin stars in the country, it is simply because the French prestigious guide does not operate on the African continent. Nevertheless, Capetonian restaurants have become used to hitting competing lists of world’s best restaurants such as the Test Kitchen in Woodstock, or La Colombe in Constantia. If it has become quite noticeable, and has also hit the top of these lists, there is still a little gem for the ones in the know… The Chefs Warehouse… Started as one location in the city centre in 2014 by chef Liam Tomlin, and expanded since, the dish-sharing restaurant concept combines delicious food artistically plated in remarkable locations with a fantastic service and a great attention to details.
Text: Marcella van Alphen Photographs: Marcella van Alphen & Claire Lessiau All photographs taken in the wild & available in high definition upon request. All rights reserved.
I follow our trail guide in his tracks while scanning the bushes surrounding me in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi park in South Africa during an early morning bush walk. With three other wildlife enthusiasts, we are on a mission to spot some of the Big 5 and one of world’s most ancient mammals. Our safari guide seems to have picked up some tracks and signs of one of them… Under the rising sun, he snaps his fingers to signal us to stop walking, while pointing out three majestic white rhinos close to a small waterhole, only 200 metres away from our small group. For a few magical moments, the sound of the shutters of our cameras competes with the singing of the birds and the loud and ungracious honking of a couple of Nile Geese fiercely guarding their precious body of water. “Please, do not post your photos on social media with the exact location of any rhinoceros”, our field guide urges us with a solemn voice. Poachers are a very serious threat and all means are good for them to locate these prehistoric animals for their horns that sell for a fortune on the black market in order to feed the unsatiable Chinese and Vietnamese demand.
In this series of five articles, we feature the Big 5 (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos) – Africa’s most dangerous mammals to encounter on foot in the wild. Keep reading to learn more about rhinos…
Article updated on May 3, 2021 Text: Marcella van Alphen Photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen Note: all photographs taken in the wild & available in high definition upon request. All rights reserved.
I am hiking in the mountains of the Cederberg, a remote area a couple of hours away from Cape Town, South Africa, known for its magnificent stargazing, and not so much for its safaris. I have just spotted some fresh tracks in the sand though. It is broad daylight and I am following them. They lead me to some dung along the track: it is rather fresh and contains some rodent bones and hair… It is what I thought: I am not alone. These grounds used to be populated by many more wild animals, but here Africa’s most feared predators have been wiped out but for one of them which has been adapting extremely well despite habitat loss: the leopard.
Text: Marcella van Alphen
Photographs: Marcella van Alphen & Claire Lessiau
I am steering the rental car around the bend on a curvy and hilly road in the idyllic landscape of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi game reserve at a rough 25 kilometres per hour. The ideal speed to spot some wildlife on this self-drive safari is also well adapted Keep travelling!
Text: Marcella van Alphen Photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen Note: all photographs taken in the wild & available in high definition upon request – All right reserved
The big 5 get their nickname from the times of hunting. Lions, leopards, buffalos, elephants, and rhinoceroses are Africa’s 5 most dangerous mammals to come across in the African bush, and as such they were the utmost trophies to bring home. Today, thankfully, most dream of spotting them in the wild, and capturing them only on camera – even if trophy hunting is still a current practice. Walking in the bush where they still roam is not common. In many African countries, these king animals are confined to game parks (that can be as large as a country: for instance, Kruger Park in South Africa is about the size of Israel) enforcing strict rules for visitor’s safety. Still, bush walks can be organized with highly-trained rangers. Whether you are on a walk, in your own car, or in a game drive vehicle, knowing behavioural facts about lions can greatly up your chances of spotting them!
Eagerly and slightly exhausted I sit down as I free my sore feet from my sturdy hiking boots after a strenuous 8 hour-hike carrying my 18-kilogram backpack along the GR 20. This is when my chores for the day start, with the one I like the least: washing my clothes! Today might be different though as I am excited to try our new Scrubba Bag that is supposed to make washing easy while saving water, time, soap and energy. Keep reading!
The toughest hike of Europe will take you through the rugged heart of the island of Beauty. In the Mediterranean Sea, off the coasts of France and Italy, Corsica is a hikers’ paradise and its famous 200-kilometre long GR 20 offers an endless variety of landscapes to the adventurers who will dare braving its often daily 4-digit elevation gains. Keep hiking!
89 days and 9,722 kilometres across South Africa, including a good amount on dirt roads, through 4×4-only mountain passes, along wild coast trails, across the last bit of sand forest left on the planet, side by side with elephants and lions to bring you the best adventures of South Africa!
Beyond the Big 5, South Africa is a fantastic playground for the outdoor enthusiasts, and here are the Top Keep exploring!
For many, a safari is a dream trip, often a once in a lifetime experience. This is why it is important to select the type of safari and game park carefully to avoid any disappointment. South Africa is one of the best countries in the world to observe wildlife in beautiful and varied landscapes showcased in its two main types of parks: government-run parks and private game reserves. The offer is so vast and prices so high that we have put together some thoughts in order to help you select the safari that is the most adapted to you.
We are standing a few kilometres south of the fortified city of Carcassonne, with the vineyards rolling down from our feet to the base of the majestic ramparts, and the Black Mountain in the background. In Southern France, Carcassonne is a marvel of the Middle-Ages: an entire city completely fortified with its narrow cobblestoned medieval streets, its imposing castle, and gothic basilica. Carcassonne remains the most complete example of French medieval military architecture, and it took about 25 centuries to shape Carcassonne as it is today…
With its vertical limestone cliffs covered in lush vegetation dramatically plunging into the turquoise waters and white sand beaches, no wonder why Maya Bay, a stone’s throw from Koh Phi Phi Island was chosen as the filming location for the Hollywood blockbuster “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. However, Keep travelling!
The majestic temples of Angkor are victim of their own success: with 4 million visitors a year mostly during the dry season focusing mainly on three temples, the atmosphere can be lost. Still, it is possible to experience the Angkor temple complex off the beaten path for a fantastic and authentic discovery, unravelling the splendour of the great Khmer civilisation.
The five towers of Angkor Wat symbolizing Mount Meru, Cambodia
Sunrise on Angkor Wat, Cambodia
I skilfully steer my mountain bike along a few pointy rocks on a narrow single track through the jungle of Cambodia. In front of me appears a desolated ruin, half swallowed by tree roots of strangler fig trees. Birds sing, butterflies flutter around reflecting the strong sun rays peeping through the dense vegetation on their brightly-coloured wings, and a cat yawns while stretching its front paws on the step of the almost-millennium old Khmer temple of Preah Khan in the temple complex of Angkor.
The sun has warmed up my skin more than I can bear while the warm wind spreads a scent of pine through the air. My backpack is filled with delicious fresh fruits from the market of the Cour Lafayette in Toulon, ready to be munched away during a picnic at a secret cove, by one of the most beautiful beaches of the French Riviera. Keep reading
Watching a show on Broadway when visiting New York City is an absolute must. You might have heard of the red TKTS ticket booth already, as it has become a landmark of Times Square. Every day, hundreds of tourists queue to get discounted tickets for the same night performances. But read along, as a couple of insider’s tips may help you buy your tickets more efficiently: Keep traveling!
In a nutshell, Paris is a megalopolis where traffic can be hectic, but a good amount of taxis and Ubers are efficient at times. Public transport and biking are often the best options to get around. Here are a few tips by a local to help you make the most of your trip to the City of Lights, detailing every mode of transport so that you can adapt! Keep traveling!
Travelling the world, we make sure to give you access to the best spots so that you can plan your trips and enjoy them to the fullest. Our free interactive maps sum up the best of the best and give you access to insiders’ tips. To make the most of them, you can easily download them and customize them to your own needs. Keep traveling!
Article updated on May 20, 2020 Text & photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
Cherry blossoms in spring, red maple leaves in autumn, hidden temples, modern buildings, bamboo forests, bright orange torii gates, philosophical strolls, haute cuisine, Geisha culture: Kyoto has so much to offer! One would have to Keep travelling!
Article updated on May 20, 2020 Text & photos: Marcella van Alphen
Hurrying past the ticket gate with our bulky luggage and waving our JR passes to the Japan Railway staff, we enter the platform at the futuristic Kyoto station to catch our first train of Keep travelling!
Article updated on May 16, 2020 Text: Claire Lessiau Photos: Marcella van Alphen & Claire Lessiau
Visiting a shrine for the first time, one can feel a bit lost, sometimes even confusing a shrine for a temple. Respecting these places of worship and their believers means understanding a few of the following basics.Keep traveling!
Article updated on May 18, 2020 Text: Claire Lessiau
We are on the 4th floor of a building in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, just a few minutes after arriving in town. Seated at a table, suddenly, the ground under our feet starts shaking. We are hearing screams, the pieces of furniture are moving around Keep travelling!
Article updated on May 25, 2020 Text & photos: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
While the Japanese train system is excellent and allows to explore most of the country, driving is essential to explore Shikoku, the remote and off-the-beaten path island of Japan, where public transportation is less developed.
The road from Yawatahama, where the ferry from Kyushu lands, to Matsuyama is squeezed between the turquoise waters of the Seto Inland Sea Keep travelling!
While preparing our 6-week trip through Japan from South to North via remote areas and major cities, we were a little bit concerned about how to find our way once there: different alphabet, hardly any knowledge of the language, very expensive roaming charges, and various modes of transportation (driving, riding the train, walking and biking in cities, hiking…) seemed tough challenges to overcome to navigate easily.Keep travelling!
I have hiked in summer in basically all the provinces of Sweden, not having any problems finding accommodation. Thanks to the Allmansrättan, giving anyone the right to enjoy outdoor activities respectful of the environment, including camping on any land (but for a few exceptions), I have pitched my tent along hiking trails many times, occasionally staying at a local bed & breakfast, or stuga (a small wooden cabin). Keep hiking!