When the offer came up to experience Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of my travels I jumped at the experience without hesitation. I had previously spent several weeks exploring the south of Thailand and island hopping with endless sunshine and ocean. However, a part of me felt deprived after departure back home without having explored the cultural mecca of Thailand. Known for its beautiful temples and rich history Chiang Mai always called and I finally received the chance to answer.
Take a deep breath in, now let it out. Repeat. Do you feel that?
A momentary grounding.
Now picture white beach sand, crystal clear blue waters, tall shady palm trees, mind-blowing food.
You've just imagined Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands.
A place to feel connected and grounded. A place where you can exhale.
Right, so you find yourself in Chiang Mai Thailand and you are looking for the ultimate place to kick back and relax.
I have found the ultimate paradise. Oasis Spa Baan Saen Doi.
Located just outside of the city center of Chiang Mai with a round trip service this hotel and spa will leave your travel stress behind. Flying into Chiang Mai it's only a short 10-minute taxi ride to the hotel where you can offload and dive straight into relaxation (or the pool).
Situated on the banks of the Ping River in the heart of Chiang Mai is a place that not only will envelop you in luxury but an establishment that makes you feel like a King or Queen.
Diving to me is the ultimate form of mindfulness. I think because you are silent and you have no choice but to be right where you are. You are focused on your breath, your body, and your environment. The environment just happens to be under hundreds of tons of water in an alien landscape where you are the guest and the vibrant creatures of the ocean your host. For as long as I can remember, my dream has been this, to dive with Giant Manta Rays. These animals can get a wingspan of up to 5.5 meters and are placid gentle giants that glide underwater as if they are flying.
I stumbled upon The Yoga Barn by chance. One of my followers sent me a message telling me that if I found myself in Ubud, a spiritual village nestled in the mountains of Bali, that I better head there because I would love it! Well, I am obsessed and will return.
Tucked away in the centre of town is a lush green, calming and beautiful property called The Yoga Barn. Centred around Yoga and Ayurveda this property is filled with all that you could ask for to the point that I didn't want to leave for a few days. It is silent and peaceful, you feel like you can exhale the second you walk in. Next time I visit I will definitely look into the accommodation that they offer and stay there as a retreat for a few days of Yoga and healthy eating.
A stone's throw from Cape Town centre tucked away in what seems to be the suburbs of Stellenbosch is a historic landmark that has risen from the ashes, quite literally. Lanzerac Wine estate is not just your average wine estate but rather a piece of history with a classic feel that is timeless. With a history dating back to 1692, this grande dame is synonymous with old-world charm and rich Cape heritage.
I keep playing it over in my head. Every little moment leading up to, during and after.
It still feels surreal. That it happened. We were in an earthquake and we survived. The crazy thing is the amount of guilt I feel around it. Almost that I’m not allowed to feel sad, scared or that I have some form of PTSD because the people of North Lombok are in crisis. A natural disaster is one thing. They have been hit by several earthquakes rocking that island to its core. Villages are out of reach and in desperate need of medical attention. People are dying outside of hospitals and have been stranded without water and food. So please more than praying, donate. I am sharing some links below and google is an amazing place to start. Every cent helps.
I’ve always had slight envy for all the amazing drone shots that I have seen across Instagram. DJI drones have been something on my list for the longest time. The problem is, when is the right time to drop a large amount of money on a second camera that you are going to hover hundreds of metres in the air? The truth? There is never going to be a right time. Then why get one? Because life will never be the same again. And as a creative it’s one of the most exciting ways to flip your view on its head.
My right time happened to be shopping online at Outdoorphoto. They are the Tomorrowland of camera equipment with amazing prices and an even bigger range than you could imagine. The only criticism I have is a personal one; I don’t have a trust fund to really fulfil my wish list with them.
Situated on the cliff edge overlooking the glorious Atlantic ocean, The Marine is one of the most spectacular luxury hotels I have ever stayed at. Part of the Mcgrath Collection this establishment overlooks Walker Bay and is the ultimate Whale watching location in Hermanus. I can now safely say first hand that The Collection holds three world-class hotels.
Hermanus is an old fisherman's village which has become one of the most popular whale watching towns in the Western Cape. A two-hour drive from Cape Town, The Marine is a getaway that will offer you all that you need.
Just over an hours drive out of Cape Town tucked away at the foot of the Franschhoek mountains you will find the peaceful and beautiful Holden Manz. A small estate with vineyards that surround you. The estate might be small but you won't run out of activities and you are sure to leave relaxed and longing for more.
The guest house is eclectic and decorated with an impressive art collection that you could get totally lost in. I have yet to see such an extensive variety in a personal collection. With many local artists, I found myself with wine in hand meandering from one piece to the next.
So you have 24 hours and you need to know what to do in Cape Town? Although I am lucky enough to live here, Anna-Belle my mate from Joburg is often down and I love showing off this amazing city! Its been really awesome being an entertainer and sharing all this amazing city has to offer! So we decided to put together a little list of things to do on a girls day out. Whether you are a tourist in Cape Town or local there is plenty for everyone and who says the perfect date cant be with one of your besties? Here is our list of activities that we get up to when we have time together!
We are in the universe and the universe is within us. Every atom in your body came from stars that exploded and we are made of stardust. So don't be so small.
Look up into the night sky, you are a part of it. We are children of the stars. So at the moment where you forget this, in the moments where you doubt yourself or think that you can't. In the moment where you think that you are insignificant. Just remember that you are so gloriously wonderful.
A little over an hours drives outside of Cape Town tucked away at the foot of mountains in the breede valley you will find Bosjes Estate. A magnificent property with landscaped gardens and their own architectural feat, the chapel.
I was lucky enough to visit this gorgeous property and enjoy a night at the homely guest house. With its old Dutch charm the building is welcoming and contrasts the modern design of the restaurant and chapel.
South Africa is a magical place of wonder that I am lucky enough to call home. The safari options are endless and the magnificent wildlife is in abundance. The bush beauty will capture your heart. If you visit, you are sure to leave with your soul shining a little brighter for it. Few things compare to the rush of viewing game on the back of an open vehicle that allows you to get right in on the action of the wild or the relaxing silence at night listening to the sounds of nature.
Meet The Outpost Lodge. This magnificent property has 12 luxury spaces cantilevered on a hill giving you a bird's eye view of the Luvuvhu River. The private, freestanding spaces are interconnected to each other and the central lodge area by 500 meters of Zimbabwean teak walkway. The contemporary architecture makes use of concrete and steel and with state-of-the-art retractable, remote-controlled screens offering 180º of uninterrupted views, you will never want to leave!
Plettenberg bay is a well known coastal town on the popular garden route of South Africa. This little coastal village has a hub of activities and if whale watching is one of them, then it is the right destination for you. The only thing you need to decide is where to stay.
The Plettenberg is one of the three hotels in the Liz Mcgrath Collection. Know for their luxury and five-star experience, The Plettenberg doesn't disappoint.
Far too often do we get tired of the hustle of our lives.
Even so, sometimes travel can seem a little overwhelming. The thought of packing, unpacking, repacking, transfers, check-ins, flights etc all to arrive at a destination can be a deal breaker for that holiday you have been dying to go on. Well, what if I told you that a mere 3 hours drive from Johannesburg is a little piece of paradise that is uncomplicated in its beauty and is a thriving oasis for wildlife.
Picture lying in your bed. Listening to the African bush sing. When I say sing, I mean the sounds of the bush right next to you as if you are submerged in it. Every single layer of insect, bird, and animal all in harmony creating a symphony. It is the ultimate white noise sleep app that offers you perfect relaxation, except, its real. Then add in luxury and comfort, not only do you have a five-star experience but you also have Pel's Post Lodge.
For as long as I can remember I have been in love with the African bush. Going on safari has a very special place in my heart. The silence, the fresh air and of course seeing the animals is one of my favourite things in the world. I am the girl who is glued to the TV watching Nat Geo and David Attenborough specials and dreams of watching the wild migration. I have known about Shamwari Game Reserve and the phenomenal work that they do in conservation for several years now, So naturally when the opportunity came up to visit - I jumped at it.
Would you like to step back in time into a by gone era? A place where high tea is at 3 pm, polo horses surround you and the interior engulfs you in authentic warmth and charm.
Meet The Kurland, a luxury boutique hotel offering gracious country living. A property just a stone throw from Plettenberg bay that will transport you back in time!
Picture walking into a historic building dating back to 1777 that has been fully refurbished with a timeless decor, original fireplace and stone walls.
The Only&Only is one of the ultimate luxury hotels in Cape Town.
Surrounded by water canals and the vista that is Table Mountain, the One&Only is a stone's throw from the city center of Cape Town and borders the famous Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. This establishment engulfs you in the lap of luxury.
Picture a five-star oasis tucked away in the forest at the foot of a mountain in one of the oldest suburbs in Cape Town, Constantia.
That is Cellars Hohenort. Part of the Liz Mcgrath collection this establishment boast one of the top ten restaurants in South Africa - The Green House, a luxurious spa, the Conservatory restaurant and of course, the most exquisite garden towering with giant oaks and lush green vegetation that you have ever seen. Oh and did I mention the cute ducks waddling around? Jemima Puddleduck eat your heart out!
Cellars have created the ultimate getaway experience where you will never want to leave and the best part? It is only a 25-minute drive outside of the Cape Town CBD.
I don't want to tell you how to survive Burn. You can read that on their site. It's called radical self-reliance (a practice that should be carried out in your everyday life). I want to instead, share with you ten points. I believe these points will help you thrive once all the prep is done and you have arrived in Tankwa Town, a magical place that will inspire you and leave you changed.
I have been dying to take a road trip and just get out of town recently. When the offer came up to do one I just had to jump at it!
Taking a trip from city to coast was the theme and my first stop, Hermanus.
A small town about two hours outside of Cape Town famous for the magnificent Southern Right whales that visit every year.
The town is quaint and is an absolute must-visit for tourists and locals alike.
Adorned with sculptures by local artists and look out points at every turn; I couldn't help but keep a look out for a whale (even though I know they only arrive in winter around June/July)
If you find yourself in Hermanus and are looking for luxury accommodation, then One Marine Drive is for you. Part of the Cape Collection, this property boasts several rooms all with arty design elements.
February is for lovers and in keeping with the spirit I wanted to get away for the ultimate night. Weekdays are manic and weekends too short unless you make a thing of them, so I did.
I booked my accommodation with Accommodirect. A great website that handles all the in's and out's for you. Much like a very useful travel agent. With properties all over the country it really is as simple as entering the date, picking the destination and clicking book!
I decided to visit our beautiful peninsula and take a trip to Simons Town. The place has such a vibe. With blue oceans and quaint little antique shops, what's not to love?
So my friend Julie has this boyfriend named Ian. He is a really great guy that loves adventure more than anyone or anything. I like Ian. I didn't like Ian when he chose to have his 30th birthday in the Cederberg which involved the dustiest dirt road that was horribly rough on my little car and entailed a giant hike that was 6 hours long. Kidding (not really).
My car had beeping lights the entire way and I was convinced it was going to fall apart.
A four-hour drive out of Cape Town and we arrived at our campsite in Krom Rivier. Julie and I, of course, decided that Ian deserved a giant Steri Stumpie cake. For those of you who aren't South African; it is a local strawberry flavoured milk drink. Needless to say, the cake barely made it intact to the campsite.
Picture the Klein Karoo 350 years ago. Its beauty awe inspiring with deep blue skies, glowing red rocks and succulents scattered across the land. The big five (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo) roam free and are found thriving in a seemingly unforgiving landscape. Incredulously, this harsh environment that is classed as a semi arid desert has the ability to sustain South Africa’s greatest game.
Now, insert modern man. The farmer to be more accurate. In a nutshell? The beautiful animals disappeared and everything changed. It sounds like a rather sad story and in truth, man has a lot to answer for. I could discuss at length how we are destroying our planet but instead I am going to tell a tale of the glass half full.
Have you ever visited a destination where, from the minute you leave, you're already planning on how to get back there?
I recently visited Bartholomeus Klip in partnership with Miles For Style.
Miles For Style in an online platform that offers a shopping experience like no other. You can shop luxury products, five star wines and of course beautiful accommodation like Bartholomeus Klip.
So I have this App. It’s a simple app with the sole purpose of playing soothing sounds to aid in rest and relaxation. For example, a crackling fireplace, a babbling brook or frogs chirping. It’s actually not as random as it appears.
I use it when I just can’t seem to quieten my mind or let go of the day.
Seemingly endless moments spent lying in bed, simply exhausted, while my mind runs amok with thoughts... of that to-do list for tomorrow, my growing workload and of course the all important stuff, like "what would my dream kitchen look like" or "would I be able to use a rolling pin with my feet in a pickle?" Sound familiar? Of course it does.
Have you ever dreamt that you are flying? I have. Several times. I run as fast as I can and some times I take off.
Cape Canopy Tours in Elgin gave me that feeling. Zip lining through the Hottentots Nature reserve is up there on my top adventure experiences. I thought I would be a little scared! Truth be told, the 4 hours spent flying through the sky on zip lines was some of the most fun I have had.
You have to make sure that you are dressed for adventure and ready for action. We stopped at Peregrines for a quick coffee and a snack on our way to the reserve, they ask you to arrive timelessly and make sure you have something warm in case it gets cold!
Recently I was lucky enough to take a trip up to Kwa-Zulu Natal on the East coast of South Africa. The weather is always welcoming (even in winter) and the rolling green hills are never ending.
Travelling up to northern natal (from the airport) by road for two and a half hours brings you to a beautiful game lodge called Thanda, a private reserve that hosts the big five. Big five? Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo. Four out of the big five are endangered so the opportunity to see them in the wild is a privilege.
There is a new kid on the block in terms of craft beer and I must say I am impressed! A beer that is made with the environment in mind is my kind of beer!
With the theme of “expect the unexpected” I was whisked away to a magical night in Elgin at the Old Mac Daddy Airstream Park. For those of you that don’t know that part of the country, it really is something special. The green rolling hills and quiet forest surroundings make you feel like you are 100 miles from nowhere. Perfect for a picnic and beer under an old oak tree!
Krone recently sent me a beautiful picnic basket filled with mouth-watering hand made treats and two bottles of their still Chardonnay/Pinot Noir.
This blend is my absolute favourite wine so the arrival of said basket delivered great excitement for me.
This past weekend I opted for something a little different for Easter weekend. Instead of the usual feast at home and a full on food coma afterwards, I decided to load my family up and take a drive to the much talked about Lourensford Harvest Market.
The market is on every Sunday and this time round was an Easter theme. They even had an Easter egg hunt for the little ones. With over 70 stalls filled with food, clothing and arts, there is something on the go for everyone! Of course my main focus was food and tasting as many morsels as possible. I always feel at markets committing to one single big meal isn’t the way to go. Either that or my food FOMO really shines! Get there early as the food starts to sell out later on and you will want to get the cream of the crop and of course grab a bottle of wine!
Our wine country here in the Cape is filled with history. The sad thing is that not everyone appreciates it or even honours it. I recently got around to visiting Vergenoegd Wine Estate and I was blown away by the experience and their respect for its history and buildings. The farm is filled with stories and activities for the whole family. But before I get into that, let us talk ducks!
The farm has almost 800 Indian Runner ducks that are let out every morning to graze on the snails and bugs that threaten the vineyards. The ducks are an eco-friendly solution for the farm and to be honest, they are possibly one of the cutest creatures I have ever seen!
The Orange River for those of you that have my geographical skills is the boarder between South Africa and Namibia. They call it the Richtersveld and it is possibly one of the harshest environments one can experience or witness. It is a seven and a half hours drive up to the boarder of Namibia and of course December is the hottest time of year. As we drove north the temperature on my car went up. Driving into Bushwhacked it was a whopping 55 Degrees Celsius
Sometimes I find it slightly scary meeting new people. I am one of those people who wear their heart on their sleeve. This is a good thing in many ways but it can also result in unwanted vulnerability.
I read this quote the other day, “If you are scared, it is because you are about to do something really brave!”
I was invited by a group of really fantastic visual storytellers recently to a tour of Stellenbosch. Young bloggers and influencers that are making waves as they go. As you can imagine meeting everyone and not knowing them from a bar of soap was rather daunting. Daunting until they shared their various handles with me. Isn’t it strange that living in a world of social media sometimes results in people knowing me more as The Truffle Journal than Melissa Delport?
The Truffle journal was founded out of nostalgia. I think there is something truly special about tradition and history. To honour it and embrace it in this day and age is remarkable.
A favourite pastime of mine is to seek out places that flip the switch. If you don’t know what I am referring to; let me explain. The proverbial ‘switch’ of life that has us scurrying about our daily lives without much thought. The incessant hum drum of city living, the buzzing of technology and the crescendo of mental noise in the fast lane.
I love to find places that simply turn it all off. That make you take a step back, relax and breathe in the fresh air.
One thing I love about Capetonians is that they love a market, any excuse to get outdoors and celebrate some sort of food or event.
This particular event was the Cape Town Street Food Festival. It is a mouthful in more ways than one. This year it was held in Woodstock at the side street studios and it was the first year the event took place. With the sun shining it was a beautiful winters day and we could not have asked for better weather!
Street food and food trucks have become a global phenomenon and rightfully so. It’s quick, tasty and unique. It’s part of the fast food track and not as formal as sitting down to eat at a restaurant. The vendors use top quality produce and all of them have a unique twist to their food. You eat with your hands and share as you go. I must say I was very impressed with the turn out at the event and even more so, blown away by the quality of the food!
An interesting notion has gained traction on the footsteps of Table Mountain that may not be familiar to most South Africans with their heritage of boerewors, biltong and ‘moer koffie’.
The notion? Coffee as a luxury artisan product, to be likened to the viticulture of a fine wine.
Ask any self-proclaimed aficionado who produces the best coffee and be prepared to listen to a passionate explanation as to why one should advocate a particular blend over another.
They say there is a fine line between reality and fantasy. That fine line is Dubai. Situated on the Persian Gulf coast this city is made up of wonder, gold and delight. It's smoking hot, yes even in winter, as it is surrounded by desert and in summer can reach 50 degrees Celsius easily.
I'm lucky enough to go visit as my brother flies for Emirates (proud little sister). When you land in this city the airport in itself is over whelming. Called the gateway to the world this airport handles over 60 million passengers a year, connecting flights to all over the world. Just the baggage claim area looks like you have stepped into a top notch Vegas hotel with its sky-high ceilings and perfect white floors. Exiting the building you are reminded of how grateful you are for the invention that is air conditioner.
Yes you should spread the news and yes, if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere...
Frank Sinatra had it right and I can really see, not that I didn't before, why this epic city is so iconic! It’s simply spectacular in every single way that you can imagine.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to skip over man holes and tilt my head up at the empire state building. Amazingly, thank you to certain special people in my life it became a reality October 2014. From the yellow cabs to the subways, time square and the upper west side New York City is magic. It’s a strange thing because when I went to New York I realized how small I am. There, you are no one. Which is so beautiful because it opens up the fact that you can be anyone, someone. Now who wouldn't want that!