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The best routes in the 3 Cape provinces: Top Mountain Bike Trails 2 by Jacques Marais

Top Mountain Bike Trails 2The newly released Top Mountain Bike Trails 2 covers the best trails, routes and rides in the three Cape provinces:

Up-to-date route info, great photographs and excellent, detailed maps, along with AMA approvals, make this book the perfect companion for experienced as well as aspiring mountain biking enthusiasts. A comprehensive list of trails to explore in the other six provinces can also be found at the back of the book. So, get on your bike and ride!

The book contains the following: Top SA MTB regions (Eastern Cape, Northern Cape & Western Cape), an overview of trails, provincial and regional intros, entry requirements, facilities, warnings and important information regarding age group – all (sport, race, touring & recreational riders), African MTB Association (AMA) foreword & accreditation.

Tip box for each trail:

  • Terrain (Jeep track, Singletrack etc)
  • Temperatures and safety (shared with hikers etc)
  • Access points
  • Map GPS, web
  • Mail, phone
  • Distance and time

About the author

Jacques Marais is a pro photographer and author who regularly contributes to a wide selection of premium adventure, travel and outdoor magazines, both in SA and abroad. Leading titles include Runners World, Bicycling, Discovery Magazine, Time Out and Men’s Health. As a columnist for a range of newspapers, his photographs and articles are regularly published in newspapers and on websites around the world. Marais has shot and authored numerous outdoor titles for publishers around the world. His short stories feature in an adventure anthology and, as an accredited Red Bull and Land Rover photographer, he shoots global extreme events, covering disciplines as diverse as FMX, adventure racing, DH mountain biking, snowboarding and wilderness expeditioning. During the acclaimed Red Bull Sports Photography Awards, he was honoured as a top 50 finalist from a field of well over 20 000 international shooters. Most recent honours include both a Gold and Silver Award in the respected Sony Profoto.

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Be sure to visit Jenny Morris’s new Cape Town eatery – Yumcious Cafe

Jenny Morris

World Atlas of FoodRenown celebrity chef Jenny Morris, better known as the Giggling Gourmet, has embarked on yet another exciting venture, opening Yumcious Café – a beautiful eatery located in the Cape Quarter in Greenpoint, Cape Town.

Serving breafast, lunch and all things sweet and delectable, this new place is sure to be a Cape Town favourite. The World Atlas of Food author takes a hands on approach to this new venture, so chances are that you’ll get to meet her if you stop by.

Read what one happy patron had to say on Zomato, after visiting the eatery in their second week:

Stopped in for lunch at Chef Jenny Morris’ new restaurant in the Cape Quarter and it did not disappoint. Offering home cooked salads, quiches, fish and meat – buffet style, as well as a variety of bugers. And at R19/kg it is great value. The staff were a little clueless (it is only their 1st week of operation, so this can be excused) but Jenny is on the floor welcoming and chatting to guests. Great weekday work breakfast and lunch option. Sure to be a hit!

Read The Whale Cottage‘s review of Yumcious Café:

Located in the former Rocca and then Celtic Cove restaurants, Chef Jenny and her husband David have brought the bulk of the seating outside onto the covered terrace. Tables are a mix of grey concrete, as well as black top ones with silver bases, while chairs are a mix of grey and white moulded plastic. Tables have grey plant holders with a succulent plant, while the sugar stick holders and salt and pepper holders are green ceramic. Plates for the food match the colour too. Paper serviettes are wrapped around cutlery sets. A clever touch is to have laminated A5 copies of the menu on the table already, so that one does not have to wait for it to be brought to the table.

Also read:


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Highest, largest, longest: South African geographical facts, compared to the rest of the world

Did you know that the Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, with a total height of 947m?

The falls are located in the Royal Natal National Park, through which the extensive Drakensberg Mountain range runs. “Thukela”, derived from isiZulu, means “the starting one”.

Here are some more interesting geographical facts about South Africa:

  • Longest river: Orange River (2,090km), rises in the Drakensberg, ends in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Highest mountain: Mafadi (3,240), in the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Highest waterfal: Tugela Falls (947m high) in Royal Natal National Park, KwaZulu-Natal
  • Largest canyon: Blyde River Canyon (26km long and an average of 762m deep), in Mpumalanga
  • Largest dam: Gariep Dam (5,500 million cubic metres) on the Orange River between Free State and Eastern Cape

Let’s compare these numbers to the rest of the world:

  • Longest river: Nile River, (6,650m), stretching from Ethiopa to Egypt
  • Highest mountain: Mount Everest (8,848m high), in the Himalayas in Nepal/Tibet
  • Highest waterfal: Angel Falls (979m), in Venezuela
  • Largest canyon: Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon (505km long with an average depth of 2,268m and deepest depth is 6,009m), in Tibet
  • Largest dam: Three Gorges Hydroelectic Dam in Hubei Province, China (capacity to hold 19 billion cubic metres of water)


You can find these facts and more in WTF What the Fact! by MapStudio:

WTF What the Fact!
South African Firsts and Onlys, an Excerpt from WTF What the Fact!


Images courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica and Drakensberg Ukhahlamba

Win a digital camera with MapStudio and Mooiloop!

MapStudio, SABC2 and Mooiloop are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a digital camera.

The essence of the award-winning programme Mooiloop! (as seen on SABC 2) is captured in Mooiloop!: The Book, which invites you to take South Africa’s provincial/regional routes and experience small-town South Africa.

Read: Presenting Mooiloop! The Book – The People, the Places and the Recipes as Seen on TV

All you have to do to enter the competition is answer this easy question:

Name one of the presenters of Mooiloop?

The answer can be found by watching the show – season three starts on Monday, 1 February at 7:30 PM – or visiting the Mooiloop Facebook page.

Follow the link below and enter your answer, along with your contact details, to stand a chance of winning.

The prize is valued at R4 000, and the competition closes on 1 March 2016. Terms and conditions apply.

Mooiloop!Book details

New edition of Book of the Road: Your South African Motoring Bible by MapStudio

Book of the RoadMapStudio is proud to present a new, updated edition of Book of the Road – Your South African Motoring Bible:

In this newly updated Book of the Road are 75 pages of detailed road maps, 208 detailed street plans, a comprehensive road atlas of South Africa and 1:750 000 scale super-detailed map database.

The main maps contains 4X4 trail locations, border crossings, campsites and caravan parks, detailed distance markers, dive sites, ferries and bridges, hiking trails, battlefield sites, historic sites, lighthouses, major airports and airfields, mountain passes, national parks and reserves, national, main and minor route numbers and nature reserves and bird sanctuaries.

It also contains tourist regions, an overview map of South Africa, road signs, distance chart, strip routes and an index.

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A must-have for nature enthusiasts: Wildlife Southern Africa National Parks and Reserves

Wildlife Southern Africa National Parks and ReservesMapstudio is proud to present Wildlife Southern Africa National Parks and Reserves by Mariëlle Renssen:

This book is a must-have for all wildlife and nature enthusiasts. Covering over 300 parks and reserves within South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho, you will find all the information you need to plan the adventure of a lifetime within this handy atlas.

An overview map of Southern Africa with coverage of peace parks, malaria areas, time zones, cities and towns, together with an alphabetised quickfinder, makes this book user-friendly.

Information boxes covering the park size, contact details, accommodation, places of interest and seasonal information are highlighted on each page.

Southern Africa is home to an abundance of wildlife, and when visiting these parks, you can discover not only the Big 5, but other wildlife such as giraffe, kudu, zebra, and birds unique to this wonderful part of the world. Each park lists the fauna and flora indigenous to its specific area.

The wild awaits you … with Wildlife Southern Africa!

“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there you will never be the same. Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?” ­­– Brian Jackman

About the author

Mariëlle Renssen was born in Zimbabwe of Dutch parents, educated in Cape Town, has lived and worked twice in New York City and is now settled in Knysna. So a compulsive wanderer she claims to be! Having travelled extensively in Europe, America and Southern Africa, she can’t get the travel and writing bug out of her blood.

Mariëlle was with Struik New Holland Publishers for 12 years, working variously as book editor, writer and publisher. She is the author of many books, ranging in subject from marathon running and alternative health to a teenager living with dyslexia. Today her focus is mainly off-road travel writing in Southern Africa, where she writes extensively for MapStudio and for travel company Back Road Tours which she co-established with husband, Hirsh, and a traveller friend.

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Presenting Mooiloop! The Book – The People, the Places and the Recipes as Seen on TV

Mooiloop!Now available from Mapstudio – Mooiloop! The Book:

The people, the places and the recipes

The essence of the award-winning programme Mooiloop! (as seen on SABC 2) is captured in this book, which invites you to take South Africa’s provincial/regional routes and experience small-town South Africa.

Stop and get out … admire some of the breathtaking, picturesque settings, take a walk down the streets and explore the shops and places of interest. Walk or drive to the township, feel its heartbeat. Be inspired by the artistic expressions. Learn about the history, architecture and economic activities of these “dorpies”.

Take a moment to enjoy a meal with a local flavour.

The book covers 39 small towns and villages in South Africa, introducing readers to local landmarks and also to the people who call these places home. Each visit focuses on a variety of lifestyle elements, including some local cooking, adventure, tourism and music. All aspects of the town are featured, from the unusual touristy spots to the townships and attractions in the surrounding areas.

A handy fast facts panel features the nearest major road and airport, GPS coordinates, contact details of tourist information offices and population.

Towns featured are:

Barberton, Bonnievale, Bedford, Clanwilliam, Calitzdorp, Cradock, Clarens, Darling, Cullinan, Dullstroom, Deneysville, Franschhoek, Ficksburg, Graskop, Gansbaai, Groot Marico, Greyton, Hartbeespoort, Haenertsburg, Howick, Heidelberg, Kaapsehoop, Jeffreys Bay, Modimolle, Komatipoort, Nottingham Road, Nieu-Bethesda, Philadelphia, Parys, Riebeek-Kasteel, Prince Albert, Robertson, Riversdale, Thabazimbi, Sedgefield, Uniondale, Tulbagh, Winterton and Barrydale.

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150 Must-do Experiences in Southern Africa: Your Bucket List by Patrick Cruywagen (Plus Sample Pages)

Your Bucket ListMapStudio presents Your Bucket List by Patrick Cruywagen, inspiration for your next 150 adventures:

Your Bucket List by renowned author Patrick Cruywagen gives you more than 150 must-do experiences in Southern Africa. Where and when to go, experience information, how to get there, where to stay, contact details, full-colour photography and so much more.

Here are only some of the adventures included in the book: tick off the towns with unusual names; hike the Hoerikwaggo from Cape Point to Cape Town; abseil down the Maletsunyane Falls; have a drink at the highest pub in Southern Africa; ballooning over Sossusvlei Delta; sail in a dhow from Maxixe to Inhambane; driving in Luanda; visit Africa House and Kapishya hot springs; climb Mount Kilimanjaro; and so much, much, much more.

Countries featured in this must-have guide includes: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. So get started today by ticking off on your very own bucket list and experience this beautiful part of the world we call Southern Africa.

About the author

Patrick Cruywagen was recently appointed as Land Rover Monthly Features Editor and is currently based in the United Kingdom. Before that he spent the best part of a decade working as Bush Editor for SA 4×4 Magazine. During this time he drove thousands of miles all over Africa in the latest 4×4s.

He has been published in various magazines such as Octane, Top Car, Getaway, National Geographic Traveller, Leisure Wheels, Men’s Health, Runners World, Bicycling and MTB Australia. He recently ran the London Marathon in a Womble suit for charity and is the proud organiser of a MTB ride on the Makgadikgadi Pans.

Read a sample from the book on Scribd:

Your Bucket List by MapStudio


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Strand toe! Beplan jou Desember-vakansie met Suid-Afrika vir Suid-Afrikaners

Suid-Afrika vir Suid-AfrikanersDie Desember-vakansie is op ons, en wie kan aan enigeiets beter dink as om iewers op ‘n stil strand te gaan lê en boeklees?

Weg het skouer aan die wiel gesit en die ses beste stil strande in Suid-Afrika uitgesnuffel. Daar is Zinkwazi aan KwaZulu-Natalse Noordkus, Mpande aan die Wildekus, Sedgefield op die Tuinroete en soveel meer.

Lees die artikel in Weg vir al die nodige inligting oor verblyf, koste en kontakbesonderhede, asook allerhande heerlike doendinge op die strand.

Benodig jy nog hulp om jou somervakansie te beplan? Raadpleeg Suid-Afrika vir Suid-Afrikaners vir al die verborge plekkies in ons mooi land.

Lees die artikel:

5. De Hoop, Overberg

Wanneer die res van die Suid-Kaap se strande beef van die mense, sambrele, koelbokse en kampstoele, lyk dié strand soos die paviljoen by ’n skolepluimbalwedstryd: yl bevolk.

De Hoop se strand is bykans 7 km lank. Los jou motor vir die dag by die Klipkoppie-parkeerterrein aan die westelike punt van die strand óf by die Koppie-Alleen-parkeerterrein aan die oostelike punt van die strand. Dan is dit bloot skoene uitskop, broekspype oprol, die swemhoed en beach bats gryp en daar gaat jy!

Hier is lekker rotspoele om te verken (onthou jou duikbril en snorkel), en die massiewe duine strek bykans 3 km land-in – bepaal wie in die gesin is die aan-aan-kampioen! Walvistyd (winter en lente) kom die seereuse só naby aan die land dat jy hulle sommer van die strand af kan dophou. Die gewilde vyf dae lange Walvisstaproete eindig ook op die strand.

Wat nog? Voëlkykers sal gaande wees oor De Hoop-vlei, en buiten die geveerdes hou hier ook sowat 80 ander dieresoorte in die reservaat – van bontebokke en elande tot rooikatte.

Waar bly ek? Die reservaat het verskeie verblyfopsies – van kampering teen R325 p.n. per staanplek tot ’n rondawel vir R804 p.n. of luukse verblyf in ’n ou plaasopstal vanaf R905 p.p.p.n.


Sheep and South African Place Names – Ann Gadd Launches Three Wonderful New Books at Groot Constantia

Ann Gadd

The launch of three of Ann Gadd’s quirky titles was a splendid affair. It was held at the Art at Constantia art gallery, located in the Bertram’s tasting room at the historic wine farm, Groot Constantia.

The utterly delightful books Ewe in the Office, A-Z Place Names Of South Africa, and Things ewe never KnEwe about South African place names were presented to fans of the author and artist, who is also a healer and teacher. This multi-talented woman is a hilarious raconteur and her humour shines through the texts of her books.

Ewe in the OfficeThings ewe never KnEwe about South African place namesA-Z Place Names Of South AfricaAndrew Sherwood, managing director of MapStudio, welcomed a terrific turnout of guests to the event. He said that his favourite book was the A-Z Place Names of South Africa, which has completely turned around family car trips.

“Travelling on South African rands, we can about get to Riviersonderend!” he quipped. His eight- and 11-year-old children had responded well to the challenge to read about the towns they passed through instead of fighting!

With her inimitable candour, Gadd said there was a fine line between having enough wine to relax you but not so much that you slur! With perfect enunciation she delivered a wonderful, warm and witty speech that kept the audience in fits of giggles.

This is what she had to say on the occasion of the launch:

This speech was compromised a tad because I needed to find something to wear that didn’t have a paint splotch on it.

Three hours later, I was still looking and the speech remained unwritten …

It’s the opposite of the single sock phenomena, where a sock will simply disappear – in my case paint mysteriously appears on all clothing.

So the speech:

Before I was born I found myself as a foetus (unborn baby) in a long queue of other foetuses. The idea was to shuffle along to a large white box and draw out a piece of paper on which our destined career in the next life was written.

Behind the box the Angel of Destiny (long white robes etc.) watched our progress.

I was relieved to see that four babies had drawn “bergie” which lessened my chances of that as a career, nine SABC CEOs had been drawn, but I was but disappointed that “International Model” had been gone already, together with “Mining Magnate”.

The idea was that you curtsied in front of the Angel of Destiny, before drawing a card. I was so nervous, that I forgot to curtsey, which clearly annoyed her. She had this smug, knowing look, as I put my hand into the box and drew out “artist/author.”

Double whammy rejection potential. I mean, writing and art!

I pleaded for the “Mornings Only Oil Sheik”, which the guy behind me had just drawn, but was pushed on and out into the world.

So yes, rejection is the classic archetypal experience of writers and artists (and actors), but thankfully I have found some acceptance along the way. Some of those people are here tonight and have made this event possible, so thanks to MapStudio for publishing the books, Art@Constantia for hanging my art and together with Groot Constantia, all hosting the event tonight.

Thank you also to my friends and my dear family, who have listened to endless tales of Africa and its rich characters and who would occasionally, compassionately ask sometimes what place I was currently writing about, knowing that they would have to endure a history lesson. My heartfelt thanks. Kara for your help in research on the A-Z. Clive if he wasn’t laid up having a knee op, for the intro to Map Studio. My coffee girls, your support and listening ears are heartfelt – we whine in the morning and wine in the evening. To all of you who have made the effort to be here tonight for me, thank you all so very much.

Now to the books:

Ewe in the Office is some of my later sheep work related paintings and a few old favourites.

The A-Z of South African Place Names is a factual, comprehensive look at towns and their name origins as well as points of interest, historical events and the longest, tallest etc.

Things ewe never KnEwe about South African place names, started off as a calendar focusing on place names that linked in with sheep, such as Ramsgate, Oosskaap, Lamberts Bay etc. But then I started really looking at the names and became fascinated in their origins.

A calendar soon became a book and I approached MapStudio and the rest is history!

Saldanha? (of sal sy nie?) Tietiesbaai, Klein Meer Nommer EenOgies, Darling and many more …

I so enjoyed writing the book. I delved into archives and reveled in reading old memoirs, correspondences and documents. I discovered so much about this land I never knew. For instance, did you know that the Cape was explored as a penal colony long before Australia? But ironically the Khoi chased the prisoners onto Robben Island from where they escaped on passing ships.

The mystery of how a ship called the Gentoo sunk off the coast of Struisbaai in 1846 and yet in 1851 a ship of the same name was the source of a major scandal when it arrived in the Cape. The scandal involved the 46 women who had been sent to the Cape to lessen the male/female ratio (we still don’t have that right) and the crew who cavorted the trip away, resulting in a court case and dismissals of most of the crew (including the Captain and ship’s doctor). The women who were seen as being tainted and therefore not marriage material had to, in many cases, resort to prostitution. This is where the term ‘Gentoo’ meaning a prostitute arises.

Most historians have this as the same ship, so it was exciting to discover going back into maritime records, that there had indeed been two ships of the same name, the one from the East wrecking at Struisbaai.

Many names are translation of indigenous, mostly Khoi names such as Goodhouse, being originally Gu Daos meaning “the path of the sheep.” When the missionaries arrived the name sounded like Goodhouse, which perfectly suited their mission.

uThaka translates from Zulu as “wide-awake river” or a “lively stream” so the name Wakkerstroom is simply a translation.

Benoni from the biblical Hebrew “Son of my sorrows,” because of the difficulty the land surveyor Johan Rissik experienced from fighting farmers, when he had to lay out the land.

Bethal derives from the names of two sisters: Elizabeth and Alida Naude (Lucky for the good folk of Bethal, the siblings weren’t called Wayne and Bianca for instance!)

Dronkvlei (KZN) is not a place to party but rather so called because the grass their poisoned the cows and made them appear light-headed.

Bethulie has the most name changes – eight.

Then no book on names is complete without one of my favourite characters, Adam Enslin, (1800 – 1852) head of a group called the Jerusalem Gangers. Possibly the first gangsters in the Cape?

Anyhow he had come from Europe to the Cape to find the Holy Land. Makes perfect sense … anyhow, Adam set off with his seer and purveyor of mind-altering herbs, Mietje Gous, up North. The herbs were intended to give the Gangers the courage to trek through malaria infested areas.

Anyhow, this band arrived in Modimolle, previously Nylstroom. Here, Adam believed he had found the source of the Nile, so Jerusalem could not be far off. I mean there were reeds, a river and the koppies were surely the famed pyramids – it was obvious. Sadly, the drugs did not deter the malaria and Adam and many of his gangers died before making it further north.

Q: What animal with most places named after it?
A: The king of feasts – the lamb or sheep!

It’s been a privilege to have you all here tonight. Thank you so much and enjoy the books!

Those who were there were treated to sumptuous snacks and the superb Groot Constantia wines, as well as the rich voice of Jason Atherton, who sang a range of jazzy ballads.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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