January 23, 2014

Pin it! Popular Pinterest Pins

If you’re looking for inspiration, there is one place you absolutely have to visit – Pinterest. And for travel lovers, Pinterest will make your travel bucket list longer than you ever thought possible.

Almost unbelievable, stunning, out of this world… the travel images on Pinterest will have you reaching for your passport in no time. Below are some of the most popular images pinned or shared on Sure Travel’s Pinterest boards. Which is your favourite?

If you don’t already, follow us on Pinterest here.

Did you know? You can now map image locations on Pinterest. For example, our “Places in Paradise” board has been mapped with the images’ actual geographical location so you can now see exactly where you need to go to put yourself in that gorgeous photo.

January 10, 2014

Where to travel in 2014

Whether they're hosting a major event, relatively unknown on the world travel stage or simply enjoying renewed attention, these are Sure Travel's top 5 picks of the countries you should visit in 2014.

Snorkeling in Lake Malawi


Malawi is firmly on the hot list for 2014. This little treasure is one of the true unspoilt gems of Africa and boasts a unique combination of bush and inland beach, formed around the crystal clear waters of Lake Malawi.  Lonely Planet included it in their top 10 countries to visit this year and we couldn't agree more.

Christ the Redeemer statue looking over Rio de Janeiro


With all eyes on the pitch, 2014 is definitely going to be Brazil's year. If you're a soccer fan it goes without saying that this should be the year to visit. With sun warmed golden beaches, vibey cities, colonial architecture, quaint villages, lush forest, the sultry samba and so much more, you’ll never want to leave.

View over the sea at Club Med Bodrum in Turkey


One of Sure Travel's all-time favourite destinations, Turkey is simply delightful. The combination of its diverse history and location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes for an immensely fascinating country. And let's not even get started on the delicious food and stunning coastline! Read some of the reasons we love Turkey and why a stay at Club Med Bodrum was one of our blog contributor’s best holidays.

Zebra in the Serengeti, Tanzania


With a booming hospitality scene, Tanzania is set to become the next major African tourism destination. Go now before the crowds descend. Whether you go to watch the Great Migration or simply to enjoy a safari at one of the many recently upgraded hotels or luxurious tented camps, Tanzania is a must on your 2014 travel list.

A beach in the Algarve region of Portugal


From the Douro River Valley wine region (a UNESCO World Heritage site) to the sunny Algarve, Portugal's scenery, food, wine, art and architecture are getting renewed attention lately, and we can understand why.

What is on your 2014 travel list?

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

January 8, 2014

In photos: North America’s big freeze

Frozen lake in the USA during North’s America’s Big Freeze

North America is experiencing its coldest weather in years as a result of a “polar vortex” of cold dense air blowing in from the North Pole.  All 50 US states saw freezing temperatures yesterday with Embarras in Michigan recording the lowest temperature in the nation: -37C (-35F).

Hell even froze over. That is, the small town of Hell in Michigan with a temperature of -17C.

As can be expected, the extreme weather resulted in nearly 2,700 cancelled US flights yesterday, Tuesday 07 January 2014.

Like amazing winter photos? View some from Europe's 2012 big chill here

Aerial photo of Chicago covered in ice
A view from a plane window shows Chicago encased in ice.
Hell in Michigan covered with snow
The small town of  Hell, Michigan, froze over.
Frozen lighthouse in Michigan, USA
A frozen lighthouse in Saint Joseph, Michigan, USA, photographed yesterday by Joshua Nowicki. View more of his photos on Facebook here.
Snow shark in Minnesota USA during polar vortex
Trevor, Connor, and Austin Bartz play with their 16 foot high snow shark in the front yard of their New Brighton, Minnesota. It took the brothers around 95 hours of work to build the icy creature using snow gathered from houses in their neighborhood. Picture: GLEN STUBBE/AP
Mist rises from Lake Michigan
Mist rises from Lake Michigan as temperatures dip well below zero in ChicagoPicture: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Woman skis to work during polar vortex
Alison Mueller skis to work through several inches of snow along Woodward Avenue in DetroitPicture: Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Icicles hang from man's snow covered beard
Lee Tuttle, 66, takes a break from blowing snow off of his driveway to pose for a portrait at his home on Miller Road in Flint, Michigan. Picture: MICHELLE TESSIER/AP
Snow covered cars at Indianapolis International Airport
A woman walks back to her car in the long term parking lot at Indianapolis International Airport. Picture: AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star/Joe Vitti
Fog drifts across Chicago skyline
The Chicago skyline sits as a backdrop as fog drifts across Monroe Harbor. Picture: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Person walking through snow storm in St Louis
A person struggles to cross a street during a snowstorm in St. Louis. Picture: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
View more photos of the "polar vortex" on the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Joshua Nowicki's Facebook page.
Photo sources: 12345-11

January 7, 2014

The secret of mystical, magical Malawi

Lake Malawi has crystal clear water

The start of a new year is the perfect time to discover more amazing places to add to your ever-growing travel list. Here's a secret... mystical, magical Malawi is a must-see.

Browse Malawi packages here.

Malawi is a unique inland beach and multi-experience destination offering a wide variety of recreational and special-interest attractions, all within a short distance of one another. It is not highly commercialised or sophisticated and is a simple down-to-earth destination. The greatest charm of Malawi is the rare combination of the large expanse of freshwater lake and her friendly people with their genuine warmth.

Malawi’s tourism base is natural and culture based. The country is unspoilt – Africa as it was when the early explorers first set eyes on it. A land-locked country in south central Africa, it is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Zambia on the west and Mozambique to the east and south. It is only a two-hour flight from Johannesburg. The diverse tourism offering is largely undiscovered by most South Africans who would enjoy a holiday in Malawi if they only knew what it could offer them.

Lake Malawi inland beach destination

Malawi is being recognised by high-profile UK and international media houses – National Geographic, CNN Travel and Wanderlust – as an emerging alternative and exciting destination providing inspirational and educational experiences for travellers.

About Malawi
Malawi covers an area of 118 484 square km, is about 900km long and only 160km wide and has a population of 14 million, 80% of whom live in the rural areas and are engaged in subsistence farming.
The dominant feature is Lake Malawi; the large expanse of fresh water that covers almost a third of the country’s surface area.

Malawi is best sold for what it is – it is warm, welcoming, beautiful, spectacular, sporting, and relaxing and offers good value for money. The landscape is full of contrasts, from miles of golden beaches to towering mountains and deep valleys with crystal clear streams. Wildlife reserves, national parks and a variety of sporting and artistic events make this an ideal holiday destination.

Apart from honeymoons and holidays, the recent developments in Malawi have opened up huge opportunities for other markets such as the business and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) market as well as the rapidly growing conference trade.

Why Malawi?

Local fisherman on Lake Malawi

No visa needed for South African passport holders!
All-year-round destination
Air access from Johannesburg
Value for money
Caters for all markets
Crystal clear fresh water
Abundant wildlife
Fantastic fishing
Towering mountains
Peace and stability
Low crime rates
Warm heartedness of the people
Haven for birding enthusiasts
Landscape full of contrasts
Fine and beautiful subtropical weather
Spectacular flowering of indigenous orchids
Diversity of attractions within short distances
One of the safest destinations in Africa
Suitable for families with children as well

About Lake Malawi
Popularly known as the Lake of Stars, Lake Malawi is the most beautiful feature of this diversely beautiful country. It stretches almost 600km from north to south. It is 365 miles long and 52 miles at its widest point, giving it the name the Calendar Lake. It reaches a depth of over 700 metres, is fed by 14 main rivers and drained by the Shire River which eventually flows into the Zambezi.

Snorkeling in Lake Malawi

The Lake is part of the Great Rift Valley, with coastal plains rising into steep escarpments such as the Nyika Plateau. The lake covers 23 000 square km of Malawi’s total area of 118,400 square km. Its crystal clear water, fine sandy beaches, wooded islands and marine life are its major tourist attractions, offering a unique African inland beach experience.

Cichlids in Lake Malawi

Kayaking on Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi in Africa

The lake has been profiled as one of the ten most beautiful lakes in the world. Its estimated 1 000 species of tropical fish (cichlids), most of which are indigenous to Lake Malawi, are the largest number of fish species in any inland lake in the world.

The crystal clear waters make the lake ideal for scuba diving and the southern tip of the lake is best known for its abundance of fish, especially around the Cape Maclear area. The most sought after are the mbuna, or rock fish. The vivid colouring and unusual behaviour of these fish make them a major attraction for all divers and snorkellers.

National Parks
Nyika National Park:
Nyika is Malawi’s oldest and largest national park. It covers an area of 3 000 square km and is at an average altitude of 1 800m above sea level. Owing to its high altitude, summer temperatures rarely exceed 21C.

Antelope in Nyika National Park

The park is remote, wild and beautiful and home to large herds of zebra, eland, and antelope and has the largest concentration of leopards in Malawi. It is also home to high-altitude birds such as Den Itam’s bustard and the Red-winged francolin.

Nyika is the only park in the country that offers horse safaris and is home to the greatest concentration of Roan antelope in Africa. November to May is the most rewarding time for game viewing in Nyika.

Kasungu National Park:
The park is situated in the central region of Malawi and covers about 2 000 square km at an altitude of
1000m above sea level. It is home to large herds of elephants, buffalo and zebra. Predators include lion, hyena, wild dog and serval and the park is currently under a heavy restocking programme. There are also a number of archaeological sites.

Lake Malawi National Park:
Lake Malawi National park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, and is the world’s first fresh water marine park and is the largest fresh water reserve in Africa.

Other reserves are Vwaza, Mwabvi, and Nkhotakota.

Mumbo Island Camp on Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi fresh water lake in Malawi

Liwonde National Park:
This park is in southern Malawi and is situated in the Upper Shire River Valley. It has a dazzling variety of birds (about 450 species recorded) including the only population of Lillian’s lovebirds in Malawi. Liwonde is home to large herds of elephants, waterbuck and reedbuck. The Shire River also has large herds of hippos (one of the densest concentrations in Africa) which can be seen on boat safaris. Black rhino, zebra, buffalo and wildebeest were recently reintroduced and the populations are rising steadily.

Lengwe National Park:
Lengwe National Park, in the extreme south, is popular for hiking and bird watching.The park lies within the Lower Shire Valley about 50km south of Blantyre and bordered to the west by Mozambique.

The natural vegetation of the area is mixed woodland and grassy dambo although much of the surrounding area has been turned into a sugarcane plantation. It is famous for the spiral horned nyala antelope, which is not found in the other northern parks.

Other antelope, such as bushbuck, impala, duiker and kudu are found here as well as warthogs, monkeys and baboons. Outside the rainy season, game viewing can be exciting as the park has only a few waterholes, which act as a magnet for animals.

Majete Game Reserve:
Majete Game Reserve in Chikwawa has been successfully restocked and is now home to the Big Five thanks to a public-private partnership between the Government of Malawi and African Parks. The reserve is one of Africa’s true success stories as the world has witnessed the wonderful transformation of a heavily poached and exhausted national park into a well stocked and thriving wildlife area with accommodation of an international standard and a fast growing animal population.

How to get there:
There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Malawi.
Road system is good and extensive.
Enquire at your nearest Sure Travel agency for all the Malawi packages. Find an agent here.

Our favorites include:
• Domwe Island, only 5 KM from Cape Maclear
•  Mumbo Isalnd, the camp accommodates 14 guests only
•  Mkulumadzi, located on Majete Wildlife reserve

Cape Maclear in Malawi

Mumbo Island camp accommodation in Malawi