Melania Trump Club

Melania Trump Club
Melania Trump Club

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Top four Cape Town hotels of 2009,Cape Town 4-star hotel

By now, everyone is familiar with the excellent Cape Town accommodation on offer. Cottages on the seaside give way to stupendous mansions deep in the heart of Cape Town central. There is something for everyone, with a budget to fit any lifestyle. In 2009, many hotels sprung up from nowhere to capture the limelight, even though some of them have been around for a long time. We delve into the world of these boutique hotels and introduce you to the hospitality elements that make them so special. The listing of each hotel is not in order of which is best, so feel free to choose the Cape Town hotel that best suits your needs.

• Derwent House
Elegant, stylish and recipient of more travel awards than any other boutique hotel in Cape Town, Derwent House accommodation comprises ten rooms and one apartment. Each room is a fully styled suite which is maintained to the highest of standards. The rooms at this Cape Town accommodation venue are classified as either ‘beautiful’ or ‘fabulous’, with the assigned moniker dependent on the view. A/C, extra-long beds, a massive flat screen TV and a host of other exciting amenities make this boutique hotel a lodging option to bookmark in your travel guide. A host of luxury services above and beyond the ordinary are also included.

• An African Villa
In the heart of Tamboerskloof, three houses are linked together to create the ultimate boutique hotel. For the visitor who is looking for a place to stay which is both elegant and close to the city, An African Villa offers the lion’s share of hospitable and stylish accommodation. There is a palatable air of calm in this hotel, as each corner and each room has been planned to allow for maximum expression of colour, light and design. Each guest at this Cape Town hotel is giving an orientation to the city, as well as the freedom to explore the home as if it were their own. The house is over 115 years old, but with all the love poured into it you may never even guess its revered age.

• Alta Bay
High above the noise of the city sits Alta Bay, a five-star hotel which combines intimacy with unrivalled excellence. Alta Bay allows the visitor to relax and unwind in any way possible, by message, swimming in the massive pool, having a delicious cocktail or simply sleeping the stress away. Seven luxury rooms, with percale cotton sheets, a plunge pool, satellite TV, extra-large king sized beds and much more combine to shape the ultimate getaway. Privacy, comfort and classic features are the order of the day at Alta Bay. Book this Cape Town accommodation now to avoid any disappointment.

• The Cape Royal
Green point, Cape Town is the setting for an iconic monument to the marvels of modern construction, namely the Cape Royal. 95 suites, each one tailored to the individual guest’s needs, offer a level of luxury that is rarely seen in today. The V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay and Clifton are also only moments away. Other incredible features include a 24-hour concierge, a business centre, valet parking, wireless internet and much, much more. Alongside these stunning features is the services of the Equinox Spa, where trained therapists offer individualised treatments with a hint of couture. No other Cape Town hotel can come close to this level of excellence.

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South Africa Tours | Balloon Trips

Tours With A Balloon Ride To Remember

With South Africa’s scenic landscapes, fantastic weather (most of the time) and its natural wonders, taking a balloon ride to survey the scenery below is a popular idea amongst explorers. The most common balloons in use today are hot air balloons: they are filled with hot air to make them float. Gas balloons are also used and filled with propane gas which has a lower weight than the air, causing them to become buoyant. Paarl in the Western Cape offers ballooning, and as the picturesque town provides the perfect stop – over in a tour of the Western Cape, why not make a road trip out of the experience?

Starting Off In Cape Town
Starting in Cape Town for two days, you can explore the city and surrounding suburbs at will. There is so much to do in the Mother City: Ratanga Junction theme park, world class shopping malls such as the V&A Waterfront, Canal Walk and Cavendish Square. Constantia and Durbanville are both host to wine routes with some very famous cellars to boast of, including the oldest wine farm in South Africa: Groot Constantia. If you visit in summer, the beaches are well worth a visit, from the fashionable Camps Bay and Clifton to the surfers’ paradise that is Muizenberg. Table Mountain is the land mark which makes this city famous and cable cars are available to take you to the top of the mountain, as well as various hikes. Accommodation is offered in many sorts: from the most luxurious of hotels to accommodating backpackers, but it is recommended to book well in advance as Cape Town is an immensely popular tourist destination.

Following two days of fun in Cape Town, the trip makes its first move to Clanwilliam on day three, an old town whose popularity soared during the sixties and is situated at the foot of the Cedarberg Mountain range. Accommodation is available in guest houses, B&B’s and camp sites and once you have checked into where you want to stay, it is time to explore the town! Clanwilliam offers many activities to keep you entertained, especially water sports in the Bullshoek Dam and Clanwilliam Dam. The area is host to historic rock art by the San (Bushmen) with over 2,500 sites and can be seen either on a hike with a guide or some sites can be explored without assistance. The town is also a supplier of exquisite cuisine and fine wines. The wines are created in the nearby Olifants River Valley and are highly popular with visitors.

After spending two days and nights frolicking in the dams, eating fantastic food and exploring ancient cave art, the tour moves on to Ceres. The town was declared a public market in 1858 and named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. Famous for its fresh fruit and other produce, the beautiful town has hot summers and cold winters with a regular appearance of snow! As the town is historic, there are museums to be visited and heritage sites to enjoy. Other available activities include a fruit grower’s factory tour, fly fishing, 4x4 trails and even sky diving! Accommodation is available in guest houses, hotels, B&B’s and self catering options.

After spending day five in Ceres, the tour heads off to Paarl for days seven and eight and to participate in some ballooning! The town boasts the second largest granite outcrop in the world and offers wine farms, historical sites and activities such as horse riding, hiking and of course, ballooning. Accommodation is available in B&B’s, campsites, guesthouses and home stays.

The balloon trips generally explore the Boland area, but exactly where you go on the trip is all dependant on the wind, as this is what will steer you. But don’t worry! You won’t get lost; a following car will trail your journey and pick you up when you land. Trips tend to leave early as in the hot South African sun the balloons can become dangerous if they are filled with gas and struggle to gain altitude. An early start is also necessary to get a good idea of the coming weather for the day. It is advised to take a hat and sunscreen and to wear closed shoes. The temperature when airborne does not drop so you will only need to bring a jersey for the cold morning. Because the start is so early, most balloon trips come with breakfast, served either during the flight or afterwards on the ground whilst the balloon deflates. The height at which the balloon is flown depends on weather but even at a reasonably high altitude the wild life is still visible. Balloon trips can be postponed due to weather so it is advisable to be flexible with time whilst visiting Paarl, however, two days should be plenty of time to go on a trip.

Back to Earth!
After spending two days and two nights in Paarl, it is time to head back to Cape Town for the last leg of the tour. As you will have spent two days exploring the surrounds of the famous city, how about heading towards the Peninsula to experience the penguin sanctuary and famous Boulder’s Beach, Cape Point, Simon’s Town Harbour and other sea shore adventures which the area offers. Hotels, B&B’s, guest houses and self catering accommodation is available. The coast has the feeling of old English seaside towns, so have an ice-cream on the beach and enjoy the last two days of the trip before heading home!

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Rent A Car And Tour Cape Town

Visiting South Africa’s Mother City? Take it from a local – you’re going to need an independent set of wheels. When you’re on holiday in this city the sites are scattered far and wide, and you don’t want to miss out on anything special simply because you haven’t got your own transport. Cape Town car hire is an imperative part of planning your vacation, right up there with accommodation.

Renting a car in Cape Town is not difficult but you need to book in advance if possible as this place gets ultra busy when the end of year party season and the heat of summer collide.

You may want to collect your hired car at Cape Town International Airport when you land so as to avoid costly shuttle fees. We advise you have a map and directions to your hotel at hand. Cape Town city centre, the V&A Waterfront and the Atlantic Seaboard are the most popular accommodation locations, and all are within 25 to 35 minutes drive of the airport.

Once you’ve settled in, unpacked and enjoyed perhaps a few hours relaxing while taking in spectacular sea and mountain views that are to be found from most good establishments, you’ll be ready to start your explorations of the city.

Cape Town’s best known landmark is Table Mountain – a pleasant drive to the cable car station precedes a ride to the top of this geographical icon, from the top of which extensive views of the city and beyond can be enjoyed.

On another day, relax in the comfort of your air conditioned rented car and take a scenic drive along the Atlantic Seaboard, past the renowned beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton, to Hout Bay – a picturesque fishing village. Enjoy a delectable lunch at the Marina before continuing your drive along the world famous Chapman’s Peak drive at a leisurely pace, stopping as often as you wish to take photographs of the spectacular scenery – something you can only do when you’re traveling under your own steam.

The drive takes you to the long white beach from Noordhoek to Kommetjie, then around past Scarborough to Cape Point Nature Reserve where you can easily spend many hours hiking, swimming or just admiring the indigenous flora and fauna.

One must-take-trip for visitors to Cape Town is to the Cape Winelands. Once again, while tours have their place, nothing can beat the freedom of exploring smaller wine farms, stopping for lunch wherever you wish on the spur of the moment and lingering among the vines between wine tastings as long as you desire.

Do yourself a favour and organize your Cape Town car hire as a number one priority – you won’t regret it for an instant.

With the 2010 World Cup Soccer just a few years away, many tourists are enjoying coming to Cape Town to explore the beautiful city. The number one choice to tour is by Car . There are so many lovely places just minutes away , from beaches to winelands and even nature reserves.

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Cape Town Film Production

South Africa’s beautiful Mother City, Cape Town has become increasingly popular as a film location in recent years. The unmistakable Cape scenery can be seen as backdrops for advertisements, movies and television programs the world over.

It is becoming quite usual for local Capetonians to spot Hollywood stars out and about at the Cape’s luxury hotels, funky cocktail bars and cafes and even relaxing on the exquisite white beaches of the uber-trendy Atlantic Seaboard. Many feature films have been shot in Cape Town over the past years - most notably Lord of War (starring Nicolas Cage) which was released in late 2005.

On any given day, especially in the summer season (November to February) one can spot numerous sign boards for a range of production companies on location on the roads of the Cape.

Numerous local casting agencies and production houses have sprung up all over Cape Town. One of the big draw-cards for international film crews is the excellent and affordable local talent available for everything from feature length movies to clothing catalogues. Many of Cape Town’s men, women and children earn extra income by featuring in big and small productions being filmed in and around the city.

The exchange rate is favorable to most incoming production crews, which is another key motive for them choosing Cape Town as a location.

In addition many international passport holders are not required to obtain visas prior to entering South Africa, which means less paperwork and red tape for visiting production teams.

Cape Town offers a huge diversity of locations. From 5 star resorts and hotels and luxury beachfront mansions to bustling inner city streets; from majestic mountains to wide open beaches to shady forests – it’s all here. The cameramen who come to Cape Town always exclaim on the great natural light that bathes the city.

Many of the sites can also double as well-known but more expensive locations in other parts of the world.

There are also plenty of historical touches found in the variety of architecture and décor of certain quarters, as well as a rich cultural diversity which adds texture and color to many productions and shoots.

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South Africa Wine Tasting l Western Cape Vineyards

Cape Town and surrounds has a rich culture of wine tasting and viticulture, boasting many wine farms, vineyards and wine routes which make up a perfect trip from Cape Town where you have ample time to drive and visit all the wine establishments and experience the tasting opportunities within its estates and farms.

When Jan van Riebeek arrived in what is now known as the Cape in 1652, he brought with him Dutch settlers, European culture, and consequently – wine. Just under four hundred years later, the Cape has become one of the world’s favourite destinations for wine production.

Discovering the Cape Wine Routes

There are many wine routes in the Cape to explore. Stellenbosch has four main routes: the Bottlary Hills, Devon Valley, Helderberg and Simonsberg routes. It is also one of the most popular routes to explore by car, not only because of the scenery, but because all the wine farms are in relatively close proximity, thus you are able to squeeze in more travel in a day.

A Typical Trip

An example of a vineyards road trip could be started in Cape Town in the suburb of Durbanville, home of the Durbanville Wine Valley and vineyards. The accommodation is always of a high standard at any point on the trip and Durbanville has hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and much more to offer.

Explore the 9 wine farms, taste their produce, eat a wonderful lunch at one of the farms delectable restaurants and relax in the evening at the theatre, shopping mall or just having an early night as your next day’s trip kicks off with exploring Wellington.

Wellington is a quiet mountainside town, a figure of history and is situated next to the Kromme River in the Boland area of the Western Cape. Begin the day with the hour drive from Cape Town to Wellington. After checking into a local bed and breakfast, hotel, guest house or back packers, the Wellington Wine routes are yours to explore! Wellington has over 20 wine farms to offer and a brandy route. Explore wine farms, restaurants, beautiful scenery and outdoor activities for two days and two nights. On day 4, the journey moves on to Worcester.

Worcester is situated in the Breede River Valley, a picturesque town with historic buildings and sweeping parks with bright flora and fauna. After checking into one of the town’s guest houses, bed and breakfasts or camp sites, the tour of the Worcester wine route begins. Many famous wine farms are situated in Worcester, offering wine tasting, restaurants and shops. White water rafting is highly recommended as one of the best things to do in the town. After spending the night, the wine tour extends to the seaside whale spot, Hermanus, for two days of wineries and fun activities.

Hermanus has many hotels and accommodation options such as guest houses, bed and breakfasts and back packers. The town looks over the Indian Ocean where Whales venture in spring to mate and calve and provide the jolly atmosphere for the Hermanus Whale Festival. The Hermanus wine farms are situated in the Hermanus “Wine Wander” known as “Hemel en Aarde” (heaven and earth in Afrikaans). Hermanus offers many other activities to wine farming so if you feel like whale spotting, visiting a spa or nature reserve or even paintball, you can find all of these activities in this lively seaside town. After taking days 5 and 6 to explore Hermanus, it is time to relocate the tour to Somerset West for days 7 and 8.

Somerset West has many options in terms of accommodation: hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts. After checking into your accommodation, it is time to explore this lovely town. Somerset West is home to the Helderberg Wine Route: an exploration of over 30 wine farms and estates. The route boasts many famous cellars and farms: Vergelegen, Alto, Eikendal and Rust en Vrede to name a few. The town also has a shopping mall, Monkeytown, golf and a nature reserve. The trip stays in Somerset West for two days giving plenty of time to explore the activities and wine farms on offer.

On day 9 the trip departs for Cape Town to spend the last day and night visiting wine farms in Constantia, an area which boast the famous and oldest winery in South Africa: Groot Constantia. The area of Constantia boasts 5 top class wine farms, including Buitenverwachting, Constantia Uitsig and Klein Constantia. The area has the usual options for accommodation set in a charming suburb of Cape Town.

Road trips through the Cape winelands really do offer a great getaway and tour opportunity for all ages and cultures. The wines are first class and international standard yet even if you are not a fan of viticulture, the area has so much more to offer.

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Big Five Animals In South Africa

The term ‘Big Five’ originated among the hunters of a bygone era to describe not the largest of the animals that they hunted, but the most dangerous.

These are lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. Every one of these animals has a reputation for pursuing its attacker with intent to kill. Perhaps the most persistent is the buffalo, which will ceaselessly pursue his aggressor, making hunting a life-or-death experience for the hunted and the hunter!

All of these mammals are to be found in South Africa, making this country one of the most popular locations for safari style holidays.

Indeed, South Africa has embraced this rich wildlife heritage and welcomes visitors from all around the world who come to experience close encounters with the magnificent beasts. Many of our game lodges offer the most luxurious accommodation and facilities available for ‘bush’ holidays in the world.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve in the Mpumalanga province, for example, is arguably the most exclusive game reserve in the country. With no fences existing between the Kruger Park and Sabi Sands, the wildlife roams free between the two reserves. Leopards are the main attraction here, and these awesome creatures are so accustomed to humans that you can even follow them while hunting, in an off-road vehicle. All of the Big Five can be viewed at Sabi Sands.

Other well-known and excellent reserves around the country where one can view the Big Five in South Africa include the world-renowned Kruger Park in Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces, the Pilansberg Game Reserve in the North Western Province, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape and the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Visitors who are confined to the Cape Town area are often under the impression that they will be unable to view the Big Five. However there is a reserve only 90 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, Aquila, where one can view four of the Big Five. Self-drive or guided drive tours are available from Cape Town – even one day tours are possible, although you may well wish to stay overnight in the appealing accommodation set in 4500 hectares of pristine Karoo landscape. The terrain is varied – from mountains and valleys to wetlands – ideal for game viewing be it in a 4x4 safari vehicle, on horseback or even by quad-bike. Aquila is home to four of the Big Five animals: lion, buffalo, rhino and the rare Mountain Leopard. You may also spot and giraffe and hippo, not to mention herds of wildebeest, zebra, springbok and other bucks, plus baboon, jackal and the bat-eared fox.

What with the wetlands, you can expect a wealth of bird-life viewing to complete your safari experience – all so close to Cape Town!

Those who can travel as far as the Eastern Cape – a pleasant day’s drive along the beautiful Garden Route – can also view the Big Five and other species of game at the excellent Addo Elephant Park and Shamwari Game Reserve – both well-worth the visit for game lovers.

A safari holiday to South Africa is often considered incomplete without sightings of the Big Five. These days most people are content to take home photographs of the living animals rather than skins and hunting trophies. However there are legal hunting reserves for those who feel the need.

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Best Time Of Year To Visit South Africa

I don’t know whether or not you have considered not only a vacation in South Africa, or even got as far as the planning stage. For most people a visit to South Africa tends to be in the middle of the European Winter, because of the attractions of blue sky and a much better temperature.

Naturally enough this is high season time in South Africa, and we should all know exactly what that means.
It of course means high prices, and crowds, two things that would put me right off.

Going to South Africa has to include at least a few days spent on Safari, so what does that mean in high season?
The first thing it means is a 40% hike in hotel room rates, and in the same vein, a substantial rise in air fares especially around the Christmas to New Year period.

In addition why don’t you consider the following thoughts:

If you want to fly from Europe to Cape Town, then fares drop sharply in mid August, and hotel rates stay low until September. It is true that the temperature in Cape Town over Christmas are around 25 degrees centigrade, and in August only 18 degrees. There is far more rain in August, but what are the advantages of a low season visit apart from the obvious financial one?

The first thing is, that you don’t hopefully go to South Africa to sit and vegetate on a beach, after all you can go to many other less interesting places and do that.

Tehre is more rain so in the Western Cape, The Namaqualand is in full bloom, just for a very short period of time.
It is a great time to go whale watching in Hermanus, and a wonderful time to visit Kruger Park, because this is when the animals congregate around water holes.

So in conclusion the best time to visit South Africa is not December/January, but August

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Experience South Africa

Cape Town

Located at the top of the Cape Peninsula, Cape Town is probably the most popular destination in South Africa. Overlooking Cape Town is the prominent landmark of Table Mountain. Table Mountain is a level plateau with steep cliffs surrounding it which resembles a table. Frequently covered in clouds, these appear to hang over the edge of the mountain like a table cloth. There are some great beaches around Cape Town. Beaches on the Atlantic Coast have much cooler water than on the Indian Ocean Coast, with up to a 10 degree temperature difference. A short ferry ride away is Robben Island which served as a maximum security prison up until 1991, and is now a museam.

Cape Winelands

Close to Cape Town are The Winelands, popular with wine lovers and a great location for weddings. The Winelands are full of picturesque vineyards that produce some of the worlds best wines. There are six different wine regions, with the most famous being the Stellenbosch Wine region. It is well worth going on one of the many wine tours in the regions.

Garden Route

The Garden Route is a popular and scenic route along the south coast of South Africa, starting at Mossel Bay and finishing at Storms River in the Tsitsikamma National Park. The best way to enjoy the scenic route is to hire a car, to really open up the route to exploration in your own time. For those who would prefer not to drive, Africa's last remaining passenger steam train runs between Mossel Bay and George.

KwaZulu Natal and The Battlefields

KwaZulu Natal set against the Indian Ocean with a sub tropical climate, is a great all year round holiday destination. The Drakensberg Mountains (which translated means Dragon Mountains) are highest in the KwaZulu Natal region. With spectacular scenery, they are great for hiking or for biking. Zululand is home to the largest concentration of battle sites in South Africa, between the British, Boers and Zulus, and there are tours available of the historic sites. A visit to the region isn't complete unless you take in the culture and traditions of the hospitable Zulus.

South Africa Safari

South Africa is home to some great malaria free safaris. Sabi Sands Game Reserve situated on the western border of the Kruger National Park has excellent guides, luxury accommodation and fine cuisine. The Madikwe Game Reserve situated on the Botswana border, is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa, with many superb lodges to stay in. The Shamwari Game Reserve is located on the Garden Route with many great lodges to stay in. Safari's in Waterberg have some of the most exceptional scenery as a back drop to your wildlife experience.

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Top 3 Cities In South Africa

While South Africa is dotted with a number of urban centers, there can be little doubt that the top three SA cities are Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town.

Each of these cities has a unique character that draws different types of people.

See which one appeals the most to you!

Johannesburg / Jo’burg / Jozi

For young, vibey, fast-paced living.

The pulsing city with a heart of pure gold, Johannesburg is known as Egoli (place of gold), Jo’burg, and today also carries the trendy name of Jozi.

A relatively young city, Jo’burg traces its modern history back to 1886 when it sprang up as a gold-rush shanty town.

Today this thriving bustling city is the most densely populated South African city, home to 3 225 800 people and growing.

Jo’burg has a pleasant balmy climate for most of the year and is renowned for dramatic afternoon thunderstorms in summer. The nights can get pretty cool, especially in winter.

The city of Johannesburg has no mountains or coastline to shape it, and it is an enormous, sprawling urban jungle.

Some of the top attractions in and around Jo’burg include the Sterkfontein caves, the township of Soweto, The Apartheid Museum, the Mai Mai Herbalist market and Rosebank craft market.

Jo’burg is a shopper’s paradise - there are numerous malls – and the Sandton area is particularly popular with shopaholics.

Durban – Durbs-by-the-Sea

Steaming hot, yet so damn cool!

The settlement of Port Natal only really started in 1823, although Vasco da Gama has ‘discovered’ it back in 1497.

Most people equate Durban with a laid back, ‘chilled’ atmosphere, and also with extremely humid heat, almost all year round. For many Durban is the place to live if you love to surf, but there is more to this city than awesome waves, golden beaches, sugar cane plantations and palm trees.

Durban lies in the heart of the Zulu kingdom, land of King Shaka, which gives the entire region a rich cultural history that can be felt just by walking through the hot streets. A large ‘Indian’ community also calls Durban home, and these people add their own flavor to the city’s effervescent, colorful population.

Durban offers great shopping at malls and markets, historical and cultural attractions and plenty for families to do. Perhaps the most well-known tourist spot is uShaka Marine World which boasts an aquarium, dolphinarium and snorkel reef, a world of water slides and marine-theme shopping.

Cape Town – The Mother City

Paradise found – between the mountains and the two oceans

Cape Town as an urban settlement began in the mid-1600’s as a trading post for ships passing the tip of Africa en route to The East.

Today Cape Town is loved for its breathtaking natural beauty, with Table Mountain dominating the views from almost anywhere in the city. The beaches on both the Indian and Atlantic sides offer crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches and beautiful bodies all summer long.

From any of the chi-chi restaurants, cafes and wine-bars along the coastline you can even enjoy watching whales playing in the bay.

With numerous museums and art galleries, theatres and craft markets, Cape Town is undoubtedly the Culture Capital of SA. If the money is found in Jo’burg, the creativity springs from Cape Town’s vibrant multi-cultural population.

Don’t miss the top tourist attraction in the country – The Victoria and Albert Waterfront – a fabulous development on the foreshore which offers a world of entertainment and shopping.

A lot more laid back than Jozi, but more cosmopolitan than Durbs, Cape Town is the place to be for the arty, nature-loving yet trendy individual.

So which of these fantastic cities sounds like your perfect place to be? We suggest you don’t restrict your self to just one – visit them all and enjoy the best of the South African urban experience!

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Cape Town - Mother Of A City

It’s been said so many times it’s almost a cliché – but like most clichés it’s perfectly true - Cape Town is ‘one of the most beautiful cities in the world’.

Most first-time visitors to South Africa’s ‘Mother City’ have little real idea what to expect beyond the post-card view of the iconic Table Mountain and some vague notions about possibly buying a wooden giraffe carving for the entry hall back home…

And for many the ‘obvious’ is all they will take back with them – the sites and experiences offered in every second tour guide’s brochure.

They’ll have a good time, but there is so much more to this place curved lovingly around the tip of Africa.

Cape Town is a city crammed full of life, interwoven with vibrant colours and cultures. The city centre and suburbs which surround and spread out from the lower slopes of Table Mountain are filled with the sounds of many languages as her children live and laugh and fight and co-exist together in this place they call home.

If you give her a chance, and are prepared to look beyond the numerous wonderful yet over-done tourist attractions and in-your-face geographical beauty, Cape Town will open her heart to you and show you her true self. There are so many fascinating contrasts to Cape Town that you will be continually surprised around every corner.

The playground of the rich and famous, Cape Town’s elite stretch of coastline from Camp’s Bay through to Llandudno offers the ultimate in luxury - an unexpected surprise for those visitors who enjoy their creature-comforts and are nervously anticipating Darkest Africa with a limited hot water supply.

Palm-lined beaches, trendy lifestyle centres and premium luxury accommodation are all delightfully sprinkled along this Utopian millionaire’s strip. Drive into the City centre and be prepared for a complete change of scenery.

Starting in the colourful ‘Bo-Kaap’ area at the top of the city, this Malay quarter is simply charming with its warm and friendly community and multi-coloured terraced homes interspersed with turreted mosques. At the heart of the city is the bustling Green Market Square, a popular spot for tourists looking for some African mementos or funky clothing. Less well known, a block away, is the impressive multi-story Pan African Market which is a treasure trove of carvings, art, clothing and musical instruments from all over Africa – at much more reasonable prices.

A stroll through the Company Gardens affords beautiful views of the mountain rising up through the fringe of green foliage. Museums and Art Galleries abound, and it is not uncommon to find artists working throughout this squirrel’s playground. Of course a drive around the awe-inspiring Cape Point is not to be missed – but don’t just stroll up to the top of the paved walkway – get adventurous and explore the sheer cliffs below (taking care, of course) – Getting wet from the spray of waves crashing far below while you cling to the tip of the African continent is a rush many miss out on! You only live once – and Cape Town offers many exciting adventures to make your visit one of the most exhilarating times of your time on earth! Shark cage diving, abseiling, kloofing, surfing – unlimited adrenalin pumping action is available throughout Cape Town.

From the verdant Wine Farms surrounding Stellenbosch to the sprawling townships of the Cape Flats and Khayelitsha; from the welcoming waves of the Indian Ocean to the icy embrace of the Atlantic; the Penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach to the Southern Right whales playing in the bays – Cape Town, the Mother City, is a multi-faceted wonder-woman – so much more than just a pretty face.

Don’t wait till the 2010 FIFA World Cup to discover her charms – Cape Town is waiting now with warm and wide-open arms.

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Sublime Drakensberg Experience! The Drakensberg Boys' Choir

Travelling to South Africa? Well, you’re going to Cape Town, right? And you want to see if you can get the Big 5? Here’s something that’s better than Cape Town. Better than the Big 5. And it’s the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir.

There are quite a few things that are unique or world class in South Africa, and the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir is one of them.

Doors opened in 1965 to the first 20 pupils. The dream was of a multi-racial, multi-cultural Choir School to rival the Vienna Boys.

Not in the middle of a history-rich, ancient European city. But in the boondocks. In a beautiful, rural, sparsely populated valley in the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The first and only one of its kind on the continent.

Today the annual intake is 100 boys between 9 and 15, and auditions are held nation-wide.

Can you think of anything more sublime than crisp, mountain air, majestic mountains, azure skies and natural beauty as far as the eye can see, complemented by the pure tones of counter-tenor harmony?

The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir tours overseas every year and is internationally recognized as one of the best in the world. And they aren’t just holier that thou brats either – after hours they’re into rapids tubing, abseiling and hiking in their Drakensberg paradise. They work hard and play hard.

Be prepared for diversity. If you like a good dirge, stay away. The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir has very catholic tastes. The first half of the concert is classical. You might hear Bach or Beethoven or Mozart. The second half can be anything. It could be Queen. (Freddie Mercury would have loved it). Or folk, or jazz, or sacred music. Or African harmonies you’ve never heard before that will bring tears to your eyes.

Come with tissues. And a jersey, for the goosebumps. But whatever you do, BE THERE. The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir performs most Wednesdays during term time at 3.30 p.m. There is a world class auditorium on campus.

So if you’re coming to South Africa – sure Cape Town’s good and you need the Big 5. But you really shouldn’t miss this. Sublime Drakensberg experience!

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Elephant-Back Safaris In South Africa

South Africa Elephant Back Safaris - following in the footsteps of the Ancients: Elephants, the largest land animals in the world, inspire a feeling of awe and respect in most people. Weighing up to 6 tons (11 000lb) and reaching speeds of up to 40km/hr, this monster of the animal kingdom has an impressive presence.

Whilst the majority of people will never have the opportunity to come close or even touch these animals, many South African game reserves offer the once in a lifetime chance to do an Elephant Back Safari. Imagine yourself, perched 6ft in the air on the back of a 6 ton elephant, slowly making your way through open velds or dense forests. It’s a safari like no other. As such, Elephant Back Safari’s in South Africa are growing in popularity.

Game viewing on elephant back provides you with the unique opportunity of getting really close to wildlife that you could normally only view from far off. The smell of the elephants overpowers that of people so that other animals like rhino, giraffe and buck etc will not be scared off by the scent of people nearby. As such you’re able to get close up to extraordinary wildlife. An elephant back safari at most game reserves is usually a well catered for event including meals and of course, the elephant ride. The elephants are prepared with a comfortable saddle and you’ll be seated behind an experienced elephant handler. An elephant back safari will usually last around an hour and 30 minutes. Granted, your initial few minutes on the back of this monstrous animal will be endured with more than a little apprehension, but rest assured that as the safari begins and you become accustomed to the rhythmic and calm movements of the elephant, the experience that follows will be incredible.

Many game reserves in South Africa also provide the unique and enjoyable opportunity to walk along with the elephants as you move through the velds and forests. Being surrounded by these enormous animals and moving along with them during the safari is a sobering experience and one that is not easily forgotten. The elephant sanctuary near the Magaliesberg Mountains offers the opportunity of spending an entire day out with these animals and taking part in activities like elephant walks, elephant back safari rides, feeding and brushing the elephants and much more.

A South African elephant back safari is a truly wonderful experience. Being immersed so deeply in nature and interacting with such powerful creatures is deeply rewarding and satisfying and is an opportunity that should not be missed.

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Quick Guide To Cape Town

Cape Town has emerged as a city for romantics, adventurers, explorers and families alike. The city now boasts a number of exquisite boutique hotels from where you can enjoy everything Cape Town has to offer.

Where is it?

Cape Town sits on the south west corner of South Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. It has its own airport and visitors are never short of entertainment or excitement.

Where can I stay?

Cape Town’s growth into one of the most energetic cities in the world has been matched by the quality of the hotels. In particular, there has been a boom in boutique hotels – designed to catch the attention of the discerning traveller. These hotels provide well-designed and thought-out rooms and public areas and levels of service that anticipate guests’ every need. This new style of hotel includes Atlantic House, which occupies an enviable position in the trendy resort of Camps Bay, the Kensington Palace, a minimalist delight with just eight rooms, set right in the heart of the city, and The Bishops Court, which supplies spacious rooms, a pool and floodlit tennis court and fabulous views of the surrounding landscape.

What can I see?

Cape Town has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for designer shopping, water adventure, mountain treks, wine tasting tours or even safari trips, you can find it in Cape Town. With an enviable climate and the domineering presence of Table Mountain, Cape Town manages to combine stunning landscapes with urban chic, catering to a wide range of visitors. For those who lack the energy but want the view, take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, where you get fantastic views of the city below and the ocean beyond. Robben Island is notorious for being the home of Nelson Mandela during his years of imprisonment and is now just half an hour away by boat and has been transformed into a living museum. If you want to damage your credit card, visit the V&A Waterfront, home to designer shops, cinemas, restaurants and craft markets surrounding a working harbour.

How do I get around?

Cape Town is fairly easy to drive around – cars drive on the left here – and car hire is reasonable. If you want to explore the Western Cape then it’s a good idea to hire a car so that you are in control of your day. Trains and buses link all the major cities in South Africa and there are long-haul bus services as well if you’re planning a few days somewhere different. You can also rent a bike to travel round the city or use local taxis.

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Ultimate Wildlife Experience - Game Viewing In South Africa

Of the hundreds of awesome activities that South Africa has on offer, probably the most popular activity on offer is Game Viewing. Game viewing on any of the many game reserves in South Africa provides an opportunity to see South African wild life in all their beauty in their natural habitat. On a self-drive expedition, with a guide, on horseback, on elephant back – whatever your preference, you’re assured of a memorable game viewing experience.

Probably the most well known game viewing location in South Africa is the Kruger National Park. Home to South Africa’s Big 5, the Kruger National Park offers an incredible self-drive route through the open veld where you’ll see countless variations of buck, zebra’s, giraffe, leopard, lion, springbok, cheetah, eland and countless others. (There is a check list available at: Self-driven game viewing trips offer the benefits of being able to determine the pace of you journey, however without a guide who knows the area well, you might miss out on seeing something special.

The Kruger National Parks game viewing isn’t limited only to self-drive expeditions. The park has been very well developed to cater for many different preferences. Guided groups will be taken out into the bushveld, where you’ll camp overnight and experience the bushveld at night with all its fascinating sounds and sights.

The Eastern Cape offers much in the way of game viewing. Whilst most game reserves offer Big 5 game viewing, the popular Addo Elephant Park just outside Port Elizabeth lays claim to being the only park in South Africa that offers Big 7 game viewing! The 372 000 ha park is home to all of the South African Big 5 and in addition, there’s a 120 000 ha marine zone where you can spot the majestic whale and the much feared great white shark.

10 Minutes outside of Port Elizabeth, is the Seaview Lion and Game Park. Although it’s doesn’t offer game viewing of all the South African Big 5, it does offer the incredible opportunity to interact and play with lion cubs. R40 will get you up to about 30 minutes playtime with either the very young cubs, or the slightly older and more boisterous cubs. It’s an unforgettable experience and definitely worth doing. As you drive through the park, you’ll pass by giraffe, zebra and all sorts of buck. The Seaview Lion park also offers the rare opportunity to view the unique White Lion as well as the beautiful tiger.

Kwa Zulu Natal also has many choices for exceptional game viewing. The St Lucia National Park offers not only beautiful game viewing, but is also known as a birder’s paradise because of a the enormous variety of birdlife. Swaziland’s game viewing is one of the top in the country because of its raw beauty and rugged terrain. The Swaziland game viewing parks are not overly commercial and thus offer game viewing in its most natural form.

One of the hardest animals to spot when you’re game viewing in South Africa, is the leopard. Because of its reclusive nature – spending most of the day in the trees out of sight – game viewing trips don’t often get to see this incredible animal. However the game viewing parks in Mpumalanga offer some of the highest concentrations of leopard per square kilometer in South Africa. A day or night spent in most of the game parks in Mpumalanga is bound to include a number of leopard sightings – definitely worth the trip

Game viewing in South Africa offers more diversity of wildlife and more excitement than any other country in the world – make sure you don’t miss the wonders of game viewing in South Africa.

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It's June So The Whale's Are Coming

Whale watching in South Africa: Every year, these beautiful gentle giants congregate to our shores to mate and calve. South Africa has got to be one of the most incredible destinations in the world for watching marine mammals. In early June, southern right whales leave their Antarctic feeding ground to frolic in the warmer waters of the Western Cape coast. Here they mate, calve and generally hang out, occasionally flopping a tail up, or sticking their heads out of the water, much to the delight of onlookers. They are a true marvel to behold.

Whale watching in South Africa is done from June to November, although it’s not uncommon for whales to be spotted outside this period. They pick some of the most beautiful stretches of our coast for their activities. Some of the best viewing spots include Lamberts Bay on the Cape West Coast, the Cape Peninsula, False Bay, Hermanus, Arniston, Mossel Bay, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Some 37 species of whales and dolphins are found in South African waters, but the most common are the humpback whales and southern right whales (in spring), which are frequently encrusted with white barnacles. Humpback whales are similar in size to southern right whales (around 15m), and are often seen off the South African coast between July and November as they move to Mozambique to calve and breed, and to Antarctica, where they feed.

The absolute best way to enjoy whale watching in South Africa, is to go on a whale-watching boat trip. The boats are big, comfortable and moderately dry. Boarding is easy and people in wheelchairs can be accommodated. In some cases, the prices of these whale watching boat trips can be quite high, but the chance to get within metres of whales at water-level is simply unforgettable.

Hermanus is one of the finest places for South African whale watching. It is home of the Southern Right Whale which is named as such because it was considered to be the 'right' whale to catch. Whether it is the calm waters or their well-documented curiosity that brings them closer in, whales often come within a few meters of the shore. Hermanus as a town, is very much geared towards whale watching and many vantage points have been set up to accommodate the hundreds of people who flock here for the Hermanus Whale Festival every year in late September. The festival consists of nine days filled with music, theatre, sport and parties. The famous Whale Crier will be around to give everyone the latest whale watching news.

You could also visit one of the many coastal nature reserves to enjoy more South African whale watching. For example the De Hoop Nature Reserve near Bredasdorp which offers numerous spectacular trails and hikes varying in distance to get the most out of your whale watching experience.

Plettenberg Bay justly lays claim to the title of the South African Whale Watching Capital. The southern right whales can be seen for the whole season and when they are getting ready to leave in early November, the humpback whales arrive with their calves, and stay until the end of December or early January. A truly memorable sight! Plettenberg Bay is where the South African dolphin and whale watching industry is said to be the most organized. There are whale watching boat trips, dolphin-watching kayak trips and a number of aircraft from which you can check out the whales from the air. The town has made a vast effort to promote a responsible boat-based whale and dolphin watching program. Viewing, distances and time spent with each animal are strictly monitored so that there is minimal interference.

Which ever way you choose to watch these magnificent creatures, it is an absolute must. South African whale watching is truly an unforgettable experience!

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Travel To South Africa: Modern Nation, Ancient Origin

South Africa is an extraordinarily unique sub-Saharan African nation jutting formidably – for sailors who have planned to round its cape – into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the southernmost top of Africa. The archeological evolution of humanity has been documented in South Africa, with a history as old as any on the planet. Even more, the wildlife and biodiversity of South Africa’s semi-arid plateaus, bush and coastline are possibly the most thrilling and rewarding in all of Africa. Explore the vibrancy of a multiethnic, forward thinking democracy interlaced with the splendor and community of traditional Africa!

The South African Identity – 11 Languages Strong
South Africa stands apart from the rest of Africa with its unique colonial origin that carried over to modern day. Those who travel to South Africa are often drawn by the fascinating multicultural immersion found in a modern country that is confronting racial issues head on. Dutch navigators and settlers occupied the area for much of the 17th and 18th century, importing slaves from India, Madagascar and Indonesia to make up for a labor shortage. The descendents of the resulting interracial marriages make up a large population of the Western Cape today (“Cape Malays”) and displaced much of the local Xhosa and Bantu people. The British ultimately colonized South Africa when the Dutch could no longer fight their own battles against native resistance.

After independence, the European minority remained in political control and apartheid ensued until 1994 when black Africans finally gained full political rights and enfranchisement. Interestingly, South Africa is the only African nation to be ruled by a continuous democracy and the first and only nation in the world to build nuclear weapons only to voluntarily dismantle the weapons program altogether.

Whales, Wine and Wetlands
Since the end of apartheid, it has been much easier to enjoy the spectacular sights of South Africa. From the busting city of Cape Town, hike the iconic Table Mountain National Park when the flat top is covered in an eerie layer of clouds or travel west to the Shipwreck Coast of the Cape of Good Hope where a graveyard of unfortunate naval expeditions are well preserved and add character to the stunning coastline. Also signature of South Africa’s coastline is the abundance of whales. Spend an afternoon in the seaside town of Hermanus, famous for whale watching, or take a guided boat trip to catch a closer glimpse of the majestic creatures. From here, a trip along the popular Garden Route winds through hidden nature reserves, tucked-away coastal towns, national monuments, indigenous forests, sea caves and borders the peaceful desert highlands of the Karoo. The Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park to the north is worth a visit to see the massive hippos rummaging quietly through the marsh. Unwind from your expeditions in South Africa’s prosperous and productive wine region northeast of Cape Town. Arrange for a stay on an estate in Stellenbosch and treat yourself to a tour of some of the world’s best wine, introduced by Europeans in the 17th century.

Most of the popular areas are in the Western Cape and along the coast, although more pristine wilderness and less urbanized indigenous culture will be found inland. Also, the commercial capitals of Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria (the administrative capital) are exciting for their urban juxtaposition to the African wilderness at large. South Africa is a wondrous and historic land of global culture that has never been more accessible or enjoyable. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to explore the gem of the oldest and most diverse continent on earth!

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Swellendam, One Of South Africa's Best Kept Secrets

Swellendam, South Africa's third oldest town is nestling at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains and has much to offer visitors who have an interest in history, nature, outdoor activities and art. Swellendam is ideally situated halfway between Cape Town and George and is therefore an ideal stop over for tourists. In these two hours from Cape Town to Swellendam, you will pass through unspoilt villages and towns. Take a trip back in time and stay in some of the historic homesteads and country houses in the area, which offer bed and breakfast. Rainfall is spread over the year and there is little wind and temperatures are moderate all year round

Swellendam has been an important travel centre for centuries. Early travelers and explorers traded with the Khoi-Khoi people and in 1743 the Dutch East India Company declared Swellendam a magisterial district and built the Drostdy which was completed in 1747. This Drostdy, a national monument, is the only eighteenth century Drostdy that is preserved in its original form and will give tourists a wonderful insight as to the life of the settlers.

The more adventures tourist can go on the Swellendam hike. Located in and around the Marloth Nature Reserve this hiking trail is one of the most beautiful in the Cape. There are numerous shorter routs if a six day hike is too long for you. On this trail you will see stretches of fynbos alternated with cool indigenous forest, small animals and birds. Other sections of the trail will give you the sensation of being in a peaceful and secluded wilderness. The six day hike demands a medium to high level of fitness and is therefore not recommended for the light hearted. The Marloth Nature Reserve is also one of the best birding spots in the Western Cape and therefore defiantly worth visiting.

The rare and beautiful Bontebok antelope and other small buck species can be seen at the Bontebok National Park. This park is only 6km out of Swellendam. A total of 126 different bird species have also been identified here. There is a charming caravan park on the banks of the Breede River where they also have fully equipped chalets for hire and where day visitors are welcome to swim, fish or picnic.

Other than hiking the adventurous at heart can also enjoy a day or two off river rafting. The Breede River rafting adventure is about a 2.5hour drive from Cape Town. On this adventure you will enjoy your days paddling in two-man Mohawk canoes in the tranquil waters of the Breede and your nights socializing around a campfire. The Up the Creek Camp is situated near Swellendam on a hill side overlooking the river where the accommodation is A-frame chalets or 3 ox-wagons. This accommodation includes comfortable beds with linen and Duvets. All in all, this adventure will be well worth a try and is ideal for a family to enjoy together.

Youngberry tasting can be done at the Buffeljags Dam. This cultivated wild berry was imported to South Africa in 1939 by Prof OSH Reinecke. The industry is sadly declining because of endless problems associated with wind and rain damage or to much heat, pest attacks and insufficient labor during the peak harvesting period from mid - November to early December. Today over 90% of the total annual crop of just over 600 tons is produced by farmers in the Swellendam area. On your visit to the Hermitage Liqueur Farm just 3km out of town you can sample some of the liqueur made from youngberries. Other Youngberry products are also for sale here.

Local artists like the potter Jan du Toit's vases are famous, visit him and other artists in the town.

Other activities that Swellendam has to offer include:

* 4x4 Mountain Experience: Marloth Nature Reserve
* Canoe the Breede River
* Sunset Cruises on a kitted-out double-decker wooden raft
* Buffeljachts Dam for Water sports
* Horse Trails
* White water raft the Breede River
* Waterskiing
* Several well-known artists have settled in Swellendam and their studios may be visited
* Pop into the Sulina Faerie Sanctuary: Magical Faerie display & garden
* Cruise down the Breede River on a double-decker river boat - "Pot se Vlot"
* Motor glider flights

As you can see Swellendam is well worth a visit. Come and enjoy a few days of relaxation in our beautiful town while we pamper your every need.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

South Africa Twitter

The Republic of South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of Africa, with a 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) coastline on the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.[8] To the north lie Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland, while Lesotho is an independent country surrounded by South Africa.

Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for more than 100,000 years. At the time of European contact, the indigenous peoples reflected migrations from other parts of Africa, where new tribes had become dominant. Two major groups were Xhosa and Zulu peoples.

In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape Sea Route, the Dutch East India Company founded a refreshment station at what would become Cape Town.[10] Cape Town became a British colony in 1806. European settlement expanded during the 1820s as the Boers (original Dutch, Flemish, German and French settlers) and the British 1820 Settlers claimed land in the north and east of the country. Conflicts arose among the Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaner groups who competed for territory.

The discovery of diamonds and later gold triggered the conflict known as the Anglo-Boer War, as the Boers and the British fought for the control of the South African mineral wealth. Although the Boers were defeated, the British gave limited independence to South Africa in 1910 as a British dominion. Within the country, anti-British policies among white South Africans focused on independence. During the Dutch and British colonial years, racial segregation was mostly informal, though some legislation were enacted to control the settlement and movement of native people, including the Native Location Act of 1879 and the system of pass laws. Power was held by the colonists. In the Boer republics, from as early as the Pretoria Convention (chapter XXVI), and subsequent South African governments, the system became legally institutionalised segregation, later known as apartheid, which established three classes of racial stratification. South Africa achieved its political independence in 1961 when it was declared a republic. The government legislated for a continuation of apartheid, despite opposition both in and outside of the country. In 1990, South African government began negotiations that led to dismantling of discriminative laws, and democratic elections in 1994. The country then rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations.

South Africa is known for its diversity in cultures, languages, and religious beliefs. Eleven official languages are recognised in the constitution. English is the most commonly spoken language in official and commercial public life; however, it is only the fifth most-spoken home language. South Africa is ethnically diverse, with the largest Caucasian, Indian, and racially mixed communities in Africa. Although 79.5% of the South African population is Black, this represents a variety of ethnic groups and different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. About a quarter of the population is unemployed and lives on less than US$ 1.25 a day.

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