October 19, 2017

Thailand to stub out smoking on beaches

Tourists caught smoking on Thailand’s popular beaches will soon face up to a year in prison or a hefty fine.

This comes after Thailand announced it is introducing a ban on smoking at 20 beaches, including those in the popular tourist destination of Phuket. Authorities say the measure is due to the tens of thousands of cigarette butts left in the sand, with “stompies” making up a third of all waste collected on popular beaches. 

Recently, more than 138,000 cigarette butts had been collected by an environmental group over a 2.5km stretch of Patong beach in Phuket.

The ban, which will come into effect next month, will apply to beaches in the provinces of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla, and includes the popular resorts of Koh Samui and Pattaya, the Bangkok Post reports.

The penalty for violating the ban will be up to a year in prison or a possible fine of up to 100,000 baht (R41,000).

While smoking will be prohibited on specified beaches, there will be designated areas further inland where smokers will be able drop their butts into the containers provided. 

Need more expert travel advice? Contact your nearest Sure Travel agency. 

Where in the world can Trafalgar take you?


Merhaba (hello) Turkey, the country that gifted us tulips, cherries and coffee, the birth place of Santa Claus, where oil wrestling is the national sport,  and where you can enjoy a chicken dessert!

Apart from its quirks, Turkey is one of the most beautiful, mysterious and exotic locations on Earth. It is packed with cultural heritage and there are more than 13 spots in Turkey inscribed on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites, and even more on the tentative list. They range from a Mesolithic temple (Göbekli Tepe) to a Biblical city (Ephesus) to a World War One battlefield (Gallipoli).

If you are a fan of ancient history or just Hollywood, then you might be interested in learning that the fabled city of Troy is believed to have existed, in real life, in Turkey. While it is believed that the city was destroyed and rebuilt many times, you will come across remnants of the fabled walls that surrounded the city and that are still in existence today. What we cannot promise is that you’ll encounter Brad Pitt.

Interestingly, while the Turkish population is 99% Muslim, the country is home to some of the most important sites in Christendom and draws draw tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims each year to visit some of its most famous sites. These include the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and the Armenian Apostolic Church in Kayseri which was established over 1,700 years.

It is not only history that makes Turkey famous. Its beautiful turquoise coastline draws sun-worshippers the world over. Ztuzu Beach, located west of Fethiye, is a major breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. The turtles arrive between May and October, climbing ashore at the exact site of their birth to lay a new generation of eggs. The beach sees around 300 nests dug each year, and government regulations have succeeded in balancing tourism with the need to protect and conserve this precious natural resource. Just down the coast, you will also find Patara, known to be the longest beach along the Mediterranean.

Want to go skiing? Don’t let Turkey’s balmy coastal climate fool you. The country is also home to spectacular mountain ranges, and during wintertime visitors can hit the slopes at nearly a dozen resorts. As a matter of fact, at Palandöken, in the eastern province of Erzurum, you will find Turkey’s highest and what is known to be Europe’s longest natural ski run of 3 125 metres.

When in Turkey, it is also best if you throw a blind eye to your budget, even if it is just for one day as it is home the one of the world’s oldest and biggest malls. Kapalı Çarı or Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is believed to date back to 1455. Currently the ‘mall’ consists of roughly 61 streets lined by more than 3,000 shops. It is said that you will never possibly be able to explore it all. But there’s no harm in trying, right?

It’s also a good idea to forget about your waistline when visiting Turkey. From mezes and salads, to fruits and fish, pilav and pasta, Turkey will tantalise your taste buds. But don’t despair meat lovers; one of the more famous meat dishes is Döner kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The outer layer is sliced vertically into thin shavings as it cooks. It may be served on a plate with various accompaniments, stuffed into a pita or other type of bread as a sandwich, or wrapped in a thin flatbread such as lavash or yufka, known as a dürüm.

When it comes to dessert, don’t be surprised if you find some chicken in your sweet treat. The signature Ottoman treat is tavuk gösü, or chicken breast pudding. It’s a strange blend of boiled chicken, milk, and sugar, dusted with cinnamon. If it sounds too exotic, there is of course always baklava and traditional Turkish ice cream which can be eaten with knives and forks. And did we mention the Turkish delight?

Go here with Sure: Why not explore this amazingly diverse country with Trafalgar's 11 Day Wonders of Turkey package ?

October 16, 2017

Play the #TravelTuesday with Trafalgar quiz and WIN!

Win a R350 Sorbet voucher!

Simply guess…

Where in the WORLD Trafalgar Tours can take you:

* I am a country and my national sport is oil wrestling
* I gifted tulips to the world (you’re welcome, Holland!)
* Forget the North Pole, Santa Claus was born here
* When you visit me, you can travel to Batman


1. Put your answer in the comment section of the competition post on Facebook.
2. Add the hashtags: #TravelTuesday #Trafalgar after your answer.
3. Share the competition post on your own Facebook page.

It’s really that easy! The winner will be announced on social media tomorrow.

Terms and conditions:
1. One winner will be selected at random from the correct entries.
2. The judge’s decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
3. The winner will receive a R350 Sorbet voucher, courtesy of Trafalgar Tours.
4. The voucher will be posted to the winner by Trafalgar Tours.
5. Prizes not claimed after two weeks will be forfeited.
6. Competition is open to South African residents only.

October 15, 2017

5 incredible luxury cruises…for 10% less

Now’s the time to book that luxury, all-inclusive European river cruise you’ve been dreaming about: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is offering a 10% discount on five incredible cruises if you book and pay before 31 October 2017 (valid for travel on all 2018 cruises departing after 1 March 2018). Take your pick…

7-night Burgundy & Provence (Avignon to Lyon)

Follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin on this exquisite journey through southern France. Cruise the Rhône and Saône rivers, enjoying the region’s incomparable wine and cuisine and discovering its many treasures – from the medieval wonders of Unesco-designated Avignon to Lyon’s lively Les Halles food market.

This cruise is for: Travellers wishing to walk through the lands that inspired Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin. History buffs, gastronomes and wine connoisseurs.

Was priced from R41 900 per person sharing in a twin cabin.
10% discount Price: from R37 710

7-night Castles Along The Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel)

Cruise along the Rhine – Germany on one side, France on the other. Discover Alsace, whose dual French and German heritage has given it fabulous food and a winemaking tradition that goes back to the Romans. Marvel at castles that were once mighty fortresses and get an insider’s look at one of the only castles on the Rhine that has never been destroyed, Marksburg Castle. Visit historic cities, including ancient Cologne and picturesque Strasbourg; stroll through the fairytale towns of Riquewihr, Kaysersberg and Rüdesheim; and taste delightful white wines in the villages where the grapes are grown. Beethoven and Byron loved the romantic landscapes of the Rhine River, and the beauty that inspired them is still yours to experience.

This cruise is for: Romantics who love the picturesque and the historic and families.

Was priced from R44 900 per person sharing in a twin cabin
10% discount Price: from R40 410

8-night Remarkable Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel)

A tantalizing mix of art, action and authentic encounters, showcasing The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland at their postcard-perfect best and deeply delving into local culture and traditions to reveal the rich complexity that lies within. Over the course of this nine-day journey, you’ll have special access to the art collections of revered museums in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Cologne and Basel.

This cruise is for: Art lovers and families (Generations Family Programme for ages four – 17 available on select cruises)

Was priced from R41 900 per person sharing in a twin cabin
10% discount Price: from R37 710

9-night Delightful Danube and Prague  (Budapest to Prague)

Experience dynamic Budapest, imperial Vienna and exquisitely preserved Prague. Marvel at ravishing scenery as your luxurious ship glides through the Wachau Valley, celebrated as one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, into Germany and past charming Bavarian villages. Exclusive treasures are plentiful on this delightful journey.

This cruise is for: Art and history lovers, active travellers and families (Generations Family Programme for ages four – 17 available on select cruises)

Was priced from R47 900 per person sharing in a twin cabin
10% discount Price: from R 43 110

9-night Tulips & Windmills (Amsterdam to Antwerp)

From the canals of Amsterdam to the belfry of Bruges, you’ll discover the best of the Netherlands and Belgium. Stroll through colourful acres of tulips at Keukenhof Gardens to get a sense of the Netherlands’ extraordinary connection to these blooms. Then visit the 19 Unesco-designated windmills of Kinderdijk, uncover the rich treasures at Amsterdam’s world-class museums and take in the dazzling skyline of Rotterdam as you cruise through the bustling harbour and drift along the canals of Bruges.

This cruise is for: Those who wish to step back in time may visit historic villages, medieval city centres and 20th-century battlefields. Art lovers will enjoy guided museum visits, while garden lovers will find a host of wonders with springtime blossoms.

Was priced from R44 900* per person sharing in a twin cabin
10% discount Price: from R40 410

Ready to book? Call your nearest Sure Travel agency and ask them about Uniworld’s 10% early booking offer, or call 0861 47 48 49. Hurry… offer expires 31 October 2017. Ts and Cs apply.

WIN a mystery prize hamper valued at R350!

Simply tell us which one of the five Uniworld luxury cruises you’d love to go on for 10% less.

To enter:
1) Post your answer in the comment section of the Facebook competition post.
2) Share the Facebook competition post on your own Facebook page.

That’s it. Competition closes 31 October 2017.

[Competition terms & Conditions]

1. Competition closes midnight 31 October 2017.
2. Winner will be selected by random draw and announced on 2 November 2017 via social media.
3. The judge's decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered in to.
4. Sure Travel's standard competition rules apply. Click here for full rules.
5. By entering this competition, entrants accept the above terms and conditions.

October 11, 2017

4 reasons you need to cross the Northern Lights off your bucket list this year

There has never been a better time to see one of Mother Nature’s ultimate shows: the spectacular aurora borealis – or Northern Lights. Caused when atmospheric gases collide with charged particles from the sun, the Northern Lights are a heavenly nocturnal dance of colour everyone should see at least once. Here are a few reasons to book your trip now:

1. The spectacular solar cycle ends soon 

We are nearing the end of a solar cycle, when the sun’s “heartbeat” is at its peak. From 2007 until 2018, the sun has been firing off solar flares and has an increased number of sunspots: the more solar activity, the better the light displays.

2. Guaranteed sightings, or a free cruise

Aurora hunters claim September and March to be the best months to plan a trip to see the lights — but the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months (from October to February) are a close second. To capitalise on the great conditions, Inspirations Travel and Tours (ITT) is offering 12-day expeditions with Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten. They’re so confident you’ll have an incredible sighting on Hurtigruten’s 12-day Classic Round Voyages cruise that they’re making a very special Northern Lights Promise: if there’s no sighting, you’ll get another Hurtigruten six or seven-day Classic Voyage for free (*Ts and Cs apply, scroll down for details).

Lonely Planet has called Hurtigruten's round-trip cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes and back to Bergen “The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage”. It explores Norway’s entire coastal route – all 34 ports – and there’s a special Polar Circle crossing. And, of course, there’s the guaranteed Northern Lights sighting.

3. No two sightings are the same

Even if you’ve seen the Northern Lights once, no two sightings are the same. They can last from a few minutes to a few hours, as yellowish-green curtains of light, or white spirals or violet, white or red arcs. If you’ve seen ‘em in Norway, then try a trip to Iceland, Russia, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Greenland or Alaska instead.

4. Snow

Need another reason? We don’t get much of it in South Africa and it can be absolutely magical. An Arctic adventure to see the aurora borealis can be the perfect reason to ski, dog sled and snow angel until your heart’s content — or cosy up with a hot chocolate after a chilly night out.

*Ready to book? Ask your nearest Sure Travel agency about ITT’s Northern Lights Promise promotion, which applies to Hurtigruten's Classic Round-trip Voyages departing from 1 October 2017 to 31 Mar 2018. Cruises start from R18 499 per person sharing. Or call 0861 47 48 49 for more details.  

Where in the world can Trafalgar take you?


From ‘honky tonks’ in a museum and sleeping in a wigwam to seeing the world’s largest rocking chair and just ‘taking it easy’, the famous Route 66 stretches across eight US states and features on many a weird and wacky bucket list.

This popular route spans from Chicago to Los Angeles and is otherwise referred to as the Main Street of America, remaining a favourite roadtrip for travellers across the globe.

You will undoubtedly pass many giant fiberglass statues along the road. However, the Muffler man in Atlanta, Illinois, is kitsch at its finest. Originally from Cicero in the 1960s, it served as an eye-catching ad for a hot dog restaurant. The restaurant closed but the statue was (very carefully) moved to its present location, hot dog still in hand.

In Fanning, Missouri, one of Route 66’s most famous attractions will be near impossible to miss – a 13-metre tall rocking chair. While the rocking chair actually rocked at one stage, it was decided to secure it in a stationary position for safety reasons. Adding to its quirky appeal is that it was completed in 2008 on April Fool’s Day, and was awarded the title of the ‘World’s Largest Rocking Chair’ in the same year. And no, you are not allowed to try it out.

Yet another strangely bizarre sight can be found in Amarillo, Texas – a colourful burial ground for cars known as the Cadillac Ranch. The ranch consists of 10 Cadillac cars that are partly buried, front first, in the hard, flat earth and their iconic tail fins pointing toward the open Texas sky. While the site is meant to represent the golden age of cars, visitors are encouraged to leave their mark on these cars, so don’t be surprised if you notice visitors with spraypaint in hand.

Other stand-out features of Route 66 includes the route’s many motels, some of which are just a little odd, like the Wigwam Village in Holbrooke, Arizona. Each room is actually a separate building, tall and cone-shaped.

If you ever wondered what a honky-tonk was, at the Museum Club in Flagstaff, Arizona, you’ll find out. Opened in the 1930s, it was built to be the biggest log cabin in the world, housing its then taxidermist owner’s collection of stuffed animals. It later became a place to gather and drink, and eventually country-western music and dancing was added. Over the coming years, the club got wilder and earned its title as a honky-tonk, a bar that features country music, low-cost drinks and wild behaviour. Rest assured that today, while it is still lively, it is very much respectable.

In Winslow, Arizona, fans of The Eagles song “Take It Easy” will appreciate taking it easy as you too can stand on a corner and see a flatbed Ford. It really is just a corner, so it’s fairly small featuring a mural depicting multiple windows, with the reflection of a truck in one and two people embracing in another.

You will never have to travel Route 66 on an empty stomach, especially in Texas. As the saying goes, everything is always bigger and better in Texas, even the steak. At the Big Texan Steak Ranch you may even get your steak for free. The catch? You have to finish a 2kg steak in one hour. You will get your own table, though – in the middle of the restaurant, for everyone else to watch. Another popular spot is Crown Candy Kitchen. Operating for more than 100 years, this family run soda fountain shop is popular for its candies, malts and meals.

Novelty shops can be found around every corner. However, Angel & Vilma’s Route 66 Gift Shop in the town of Seligman, Arizona, is known to be one of the best. The owner Angel Delgadillo was born in a house located on Route 66 and fought to have the road granted historic status in the 1980s.

Make your travel all about the journey and experience this famous highway with Trafalgar’s 15 Days Route 66 package. You won’t regret getting your kicks on Route 66.

October 9, 2017

Don't play resort roulette: find your perfect match in Mauritius

Beachcomber Tours is offering a special for early December travel to Mauritius. Prices for a five-night package range from R22 640 for the four-star superior Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa to R33 390 for the five-star Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa * (scroll down for details).

But with eight Mauritian hotels in the four- to five-star categories – seven of them occupying prime beachfront sites on the island’s preferred west coast and the eight boasting a prime site in the heart of a marine park on the south west coast – you'd be forgiven for struggling to choose which Beachcomber resort to spend your island break at. Here’s a little help:

Honeymooners Delight

Trou aux Biches Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa (five-star)

Loved by South Africans since it opened in the early ‘70s, Trou aux Biches was bulldozed in 2009 and reopened in 2010 at the very top end of the market, as an eco-friendly resort with exclusive-use villas offering private gardens, pools, outdoor showers and dedicated butler service. More accommodation options are available in the form of Junior Suites, as well as luxurious Beachfront Suites with pool. It’s all about privacy, luxury and romance at this all-suite, all-villa accommodation resort, which is a top choice for weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries.

Best choice for: Couples, and families. 

Sporty and Secluded

Shandrani Beachcomber Resort & Spa (five-star) 

Set on a private peninsula a short drive from the airport, Shandrani offers the best of both worlds: nature and non-stop action. Choose from one of three beaches, take a turn on the hotel's 9-hole, par-29 "pitch & putt" golf course or head to the sailing club and dive centre. Shandrani is surrounded by a marine park, which means the sea life is well protected and you can expect some of the best snorkelling on the island. It gets better: a short boat ride inshore takes you to the famed Ile aux Aigrettes nature reserve, where you can see giant tortoises.

Best choice for: Families wanting an action-filled holiday, groups and nature lovers.

Best Value For Money

Mauricia Beachcomber Resort & Spa (four-star) 

Cosmopolitan and relaxed, but with a festive buzz. Dance the night away at Mauricia’s private nightclub, La Rhumerie, and watch live cooking on show at the main restaurant’s glass-fronted kitchen. Choose between two swimming pools right on the beach, an array of water activities or the facilities at sister resort Canonnier next door – two resorts for the price of one!

Best choice for: Fun-loving couples, families and solo travellers who want bang for their buck. 

Fun For All Ages

Canonnier Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa (four-star) 

Located on a peninsula five kilometres from the heart of Grand Baie, this all-rounder resort has two separate beaches, each offering a unique sea view. An old lighthouse, the ruins of ancient fortifications and old cannons are dotted around Canonnier's tropical gardens, making it a fascinating stay for history buffs. The sublime Banyan Wellness Centre, built in the branches of a centuries-old Banyan tree, is a major drawcard.

Best choice for: Families, the fun-loving crowd, wedding parties and honeymooners.

Five-star At Four-star Prices

Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa (4-star superior)

Victoria is well known for its spacious rooms and suites, perfect for the whole family – grandma and grandpa included. Situated between the vibrant tourist hub of Grand Baie and the capital of Port Louis, shopping, nightlife and – if you’re in Mauritius on business – a meeting is never too far away. For those who want out of the hustle and bustle, no problem: look forward to sensational sunsets, long beach walks and snorkelling in the nearby Marine Park. 

As of 1 December, Victoria will offer child-free adults not wanting to share their holiday with someone else’s children private accommodation with the opening of the new adults only wing. The 40-room wing will have its own a la carte restaurant, bar and 800-square-metre swimming pool.

Best choice for: Families, child-free couples, shopaholics, groups and business travellers.

Golf Lovers Paradise

Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa (five-star)

Paradis is the resort you want to head to if you’re a golfer, especially a golfer with a family. A stunning beach that stretches for kilometres around the famous Le Morne peninsula, an 18-hole championship golf course, eight dining venues to choose from (four at Paradis and another four at sister resort, Dinarobin) and endless sports and activities for partners and kids. This is the ultimate five-star resort for all ages.

Best choice for: Families, golfers and other sports enthusiasts. 

Grown-up Getaway

Dinarobin Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa (five-star)

Don’t want to see or hear other people’s kids on holiday? Aside from Victoria’s adults-only wing, this is your best bet. While kids are welcome at Dinarobin, you can choose to stay at the adults-only accommodation crescent – one of six accommodation crescents that make up this resort. Each of the accommodation crescents has its own swimming pool and all accommodation is all-suite or all-villa. Tough choice. With a tantalising mix of international and local cuisine, Dinarobin’s also a foodie’s dream holiday. 

Best choice for: Honeymooners, kid-free travellers and foodies. 

Fit For Royalty

Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury (five-star luxury)

Royal Palm Mauritius is included in the Leading Hotels of the World portfolio, and for good reason. Almost as many staff as guests (four staff to every suite), discreet service and a Michelin-accredited executive chef who delivers mouth-watering cuisine at the three restaurants. Did we mention you can arrive by helicopter? 

Best choice for: Discerning guests and VIPs.

Ready to book? 

* Beachcomber Tour's offer is valid for travel on 2 December 2017 or 3 December 2017 and includes: return airfares ex Johannesburg (including airport taxes); return airport/hotel transfers; breakfast and dinner daily for all resorts (except for Shandrani which is premium all-inclusive, so all meals are included), free land & motorised water sports as per brochure. 30-day advance purchase applicable; rates subject to availability and currency fluctuations prior to booking/payment. T&Cs apply. 

These packages are going like hot cakes, so contact your nearest Sure Travel agency today, or call 0861 47 48 49.

Play the #TravelTuesday with Trafalgar quiz and WIN!

Win a R350 Sorbet voucher!

Simply guess…

Where in the WORLD Trafalgar Tours can take you:

* I am NOT a country, a city or even a town.
* I stretch across three different time zones.
* I was the topic of a 1964 Rolling Stones song.
* You will find me in the Disney Pixar movie ‘Cars’


1. Put your answer in the comment section of the competition post on Facebook.
2. Add the hashtags: #TravelTuesday #Trafalgar after your answer.
3. Share the competition post on your own Facebook page.

It’s really that easy! The winner will be announced on social media tomorrow.

Terms and conditions:
1. One winner will be selected at random from the correct entries.
2. The judge’s decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
3. The winner will receive a R350 Sorbet voucher, courtesy of Trafalgar Tours.
4. The voucher will be posted to the winner by Trafalgar Tours.
5. Prizes not claimed after two weeks will be forfeited.
6. Competition is open to South African residents only.

October 8, 2017

Surf, climb, fly, eat, explore… there’s more to Mauritius than the beaches

By Rebekah Kendal

Eat. Sleep. Beach. Repeat. It's easy to travel to Mauritius and never leave your incredible beach resort. After all, can life get any better than lying on the beach, cocktail in hand, without a care in the world? Yes. Yes, it can. It can get interesting, messy, and exciting…and you're not going to find that on your beach lounger.

Ready to ditch that cocktail (just for a bit)? We chatted to Mauritian locals and those who have travelled to the island often about things you absolutely have to try if you visit Mauritius.

Flying high

On the west coast of the island, with the Rempart Mountain in the background, you will find Casela – World of Adventures. This adventure park spreads out over 250 hectares and is home to a variety of animals, including white rhino and pygmy hippos. There's plenty to do, from quad biking to camel rides, but Joanne Visagie of Beachcomber SA, specialists in travel to Mauritius, recommends the zip line.

"I did zip-lining with my kids and it blew our minds! We did the full day option, which included a hike, swimming though a canyon, various zip lines and other features such as the suspended Nepalese bridge. It also included a lunch, which was a very tasty barbeque, with a fun mini zip line that landed in the river water at our lunch spot. The surroundings are absolutely beautiful and the zips include double and triple zip lines – it’s huge fun doing the double zip line through the canyon hand in hand. It delivers an adrenalin rush like no other and it leaves you with a huge feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction and zest."

Surf’s up!

In the 1970s, the surfing documentary Forgotten Island of Santosha had surfers the world over itching to go to Mauritius. More specifically, to Tamarin Bay. Perhaps because of this, the island developed a bit of a reputation for hard-core localism.

However, top South African surf photographer Greg Ewing points out that this need not get in the way of a great experience. "The key to surfing in Mauritius as a travelling surfer – and not a local – is to try stay away from Tamarin Bay as much as possible,” he advises. “Some of the local surfers, known as the 'white shorts', ruin an otherwise awesome surfing destination. If you are in that area, surf across the bay at Black Rocks. If you head south to the Le Morne area, follow the simple rule of surfing from Monday to Friday at One Eyes, leaving the locals to surf on the weekend, and you will have no issues. My suggestion would be to carry on driving south all the way to Souillac – you’re bound to find many empty waves along the way."

A day at the races

Somewhat surprisingly (or not, given its colonial history) horse racing is one of the most popular sports in Mauritius. The Mauritius Turf Club is the oldest horse racing club in the southern hemisphere and the Champ de Mars Racecourse in the island’s capital, Port Louis, easily draws crowds of 30 000 visitors on race days. The horseracing season runs from the end of March to the beginning of December.

"I love attending the horse races in Mauritius as it is basically a step back in time, and it’s a very authentic experience that allows you to mingle with the locals," says KykNET’s Leef Jou Reis (Live Your Journey) presenter Gerrie Pretorius, who recently did a show on the island. "Everyone gets dressed up. It's orchestrated chaos, but a beautiful experience. The racing culture that the British left is still very much alive; it's like opening a time capsule. And you get to taste all the local food!"

Climb every mountain

While the beaches get all the glory, Mauritius has some pretty special mountains too. The mountains form a ring around the island, while the longest mountain range, Moka Range, is in Port Louis. Some of the mountains have been named after their shapes: Lion Mountain in the Grand Port range is the shape of a sitting lion, Tres Mammelles has three protruding peaks and Le Pouce Mountain is the shape of a thumb.

Mauritian local Jyotee Ramkhelawon adores the peace and quiet of the island’s mountains and waterfalls. “There are several trails across the island. One particularly interesting one that isn't too tough is hiking up to Cascade 500 Pieds near Alexandra Falls. Lion Mountain and Le Morne Mountain are also great to climb,” he recommends.

Shelley Daniels from Beachcomber SA recently hiked up Le Morne Mountain, a roughly four-hour trek, and recommends using a guide if you are not an experienced hiker.

"The views from the top are magnificent," she says. “Le Morne Mountain is a World Heritage Site and is steeped in history. It is also known as Slave Mountain because, after the abolition of slavery in Mauritius in 1835, a police expedition travelled to the mountain to free the slaves. However, the slaves misunderstood the purpose of the expedition and jumped to their death."

Eat like a local… 

You haven't really tasted Mauritius until you've tucked into some piping hot street food. 

"Dhal puri – a flour-based paratha mixed with dhal and served with either a spicy sauce or a potato curry – and boulettes – similar to dim sum – are my go-to street food whenever I get back home," says Decosse.

A good spot to find roadside street food, he adds, is at the informal food court at the Municipal Council of Quatre Bornes.

Photo © tasteofmauritius.com

Anushka Mantri-Langeveldt, who grew up in Mauritius and now lives in Cape Town, always makes a beeline to Rose Hill at Dewa for her dhal puri fix. “And gato piment (chilli bites) from the food truck in Curepipe on the main road next to the State Bank.”

“Don't forget to have pineapple, mango or Chinese guava – these are served with chilli salt, which only Mauritians can make! You find them at different vendors, who sell the fruit from a clear box on their bicycles,” she adds.

Go here with Sure Travel:

 It’s easy to use any of Beachcomber’s incredible resorts as a base to explore Mauritius, especially since Beachcomber SA is offering a special for early December travel to Mauritius. Prices for a five-night package range from R21 200 for the four-star Mauricia Beachcomber Resort & Spa to R33 430 for the five-star Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa.

Why not use Dinarobin resort as your base to explore Mauritius?
The offer is valid for travel on 2 December 2017 or 3 December 2017 and includes: return airfares ex Johannesburg (including airport taxes); return airport/hotel transfers; breakfast and dinner daily for all resorts (except for Shandrani which is premium all-inclusive, so all meals are included), free land & motorised water sports as per brochure. These packages are flying like hot cakes, so contact your nearest Sure Travel agency today, or call 0861 47 48 49.

October 2, 2017

And the answer to the #TravelTuesday with Trafalgar quiz is...

Where in the world can Trafalgar take you? 

Prague Signal Festival                                                                                                            Photo © czechtourism.com

Czech Republic!

Gothic castles, picturesque towns, beer (lots of beer), mushroom hunting and one of the most famous bridges in the world, welcome to the Czech Republic.

Gifted with beautiful nature and mystery, the Czech Republic may be a small country, but it does pack a punch in exceptional places and adventure. From the amazing landscapes of the Moravia region to the disturbing church of bones found in Kuta Hora, the Czech Republic is a place filled with contrasts.

Looking for some rest and relaxation? The country is renowned for its numerous spa towns, especially along the border with Saxony, of which the most famous ones are those of Karlsbad, Franzensbad and Teplitz.

When it comes to mystery, the Czech Republic's Adrspach-Teplice Rocks are astonishing. Formed by water and air erosion thousands of years ago, the plateaus were dissected into many clusters divided by canyon-like valleys. However, what is perhaps the most mysterious feature is the shape which reflect the form of towns with streets and a central square when observed from above.

Prague Castle                                                                                                                             Photo © czechtourism.com

Then there are of course the castles, keeps and ruins reaching a tally of over 2 000. Prague Castle located in the Castle District Hradany, the largest coherent castle complex in the world. The area covers almost 70 thousand square metres, consisting of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century, through Gothic modifications of the 14th century. A word of advice, wear good walking shoes!

It is in the Czech Republic where you will also find the world’s oldest astronomical clock, installed in 1410, and of course the famous Charles Bridge, that crosses the Vltava river in Prague. The bridge’s construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century.

Charles Bridge                                                                                                                               Photo © czechtourism.com

Besides history and architecture, the Czech Republic’s love for beer is well renowned. In addition to holding the title of consuming the most beer per capita in the world, the country hosts several beer festivals, the biggest of which is the Czech Beer Festival held in Prague. It lasts for 17 days and visitors can taste more than 70 brands of Czech beer. If you are a fan of The Simpsons, you will be happy to know that Homer’s famous Duff beer exists and this too can be found in the country.

Beer is not the only thing that the locals love, though. They’re quite partial to mushrooms too, especially hunting for these fungi. Entire families wake up at sunrise, get their baskets and roam the forest searching for these wild luxuries. Just keep in mind that while mushroom hunting can be incredible fun, it may be risky if you are not a fungi fundi.

A family fungi foray

Unique Czech dishes include roast pork with bread dumplings and stewed cabbage, roast beef with steamed dumplings and creamy vegetable sauce, roast duck with dumplings and red cabbage, and potato pancakes. Best not to expect any fish though as it is rare, except at Christmas when carp is served. Seriously.

Christmas market - don't forget the carp                                                                                      Photo © czechtourism.com

Also, don’t be surprised if you find a lot of unlikely souvenirs in the country. Strange but true, these gifts reflect the locals’ dark sense of humour. In souvenir shops, you’ll be surprised to find things that would probably cause an immense outrage in neighbouring countries like Nazi memorabilia and funny Hitler masks. According the people of the republic, this is because they believe that the best way to deal with a tragedy is to laugh about it.

Why not say dobry' den (hello) to the Czech Republic by experiencing it with Trafalgar? Check out the incredible 15 Days Highlights of Bohemia with CostSaver package.

Play the #TravelTuesday with Trafalgar Quiz and WIN

Win a R350 Sorbet voucher!

Simply guess…

Where in the WORLD Trafalgar Tours can take you:

* I am a country, but I am known as the castle capital of the world.
* One of my former presidents stole a pen, causing quite an international furore.
* My presidential guard is known to be the most fashionable in Europe.
* I have a day dedicated to mushroom hunting.
* My people invented the art of defenestration: the act of throwing someone out the window.

To enter

1. Put your answer in the comment section of the competition post on Facebook.
2. Add the hashtags: #TravelTuesday #Trafalgar after your answer.
3. Share the competition post on your own Facebook page.

It’s really that easy! The winner will be announced on social media tomorrow.

Terms and conditions:
1. One winner will be selected at random from the correct entries.
2. The judge’s decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
3. The winner will receive a R350 Sorbet voucher, courtesy of Trafalgar Tours.
4. The voucher will be posted to the winner by Trafalgar Tours.
5. Prizes not claimed after two weeks will be forfeited.
6. Competition is open to South African residents only.

7 ways to stop travel fraudsters ruining your holiday

Photo © Shutterstock

When you’ve scrimped and saved for a dream holiday, the last thing you want is to have your trip cut short by cons. Frequent travellers and financial experts share their tips on how not to be taken in by tricksters.

1. Mix it up

The old adage of “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” is wise advice, according to Ian Barrable, American Express Director for Global Payment Options in South Africa.

Having some local currency for the country you’re travelling to is convenient when it comes to avoiding long queues, exorbitant commissions or language barriers. However, carrying a wad of cash is by no means safe, or replaceable in the event it’s stolen or lost.

Barrable recommends a “mixed wallet approach”: carrying a diverse range of payment options, such as cash and prepaid travel cards like the American Express Global Travel Card. The card operates very much like a debit card and can be used at directly at merchants and ATMs by keying in a personal identification number. The card is offered in three major currencies and is re-loadable should you need to top it up. Another bonus is that you can “lock in” an exchange rate before departure so your budget won’t be affected by the strength (or weakness) of the rand.

If you want to take the mixed wallet approach one step further, carry a decoy wallet with spare change and expired cards in case you’re mugged.

2. Stay clear of the ‘helpful’ stranger

It’s a travellers’ worst nightmare: you try to withdraw cash after banking hours but the ATM swallows your card, leaving you penniless in a foreign country and no chance of getting your card back till morning. Suddenly, a helpful local appears and says the same thing happened to him. He was able to get his card back by retyping his PIN.

Little do you know your card is being held by a trapping device and fraudsters are simply capturing what numbers you key-in for your pin. “Once you become frustrated and leave the ATM, they remove the device and your card from the card slot and then proceed to make withdrawals from your account, as they now have your card and PIN,” explains Lucas Venter, Nedbank’s Senior Manager of Analytics and Forensics.

Venter always advises travellers to know what their ATM looks like so they can immediately detect if a foreign object has been attached. And don’t be bamboozled by other ATM hoaxes, he adds, like a message telling you that entering your PIN backwards will notify the police or bank that you need assistance.

3. Stay vigilant

The golden rule, according to Sure Travel’s CEO Vanya Lessing, is never leave your belongings unattended, anywhere. She says airport coffees shops and hotel reception areas are sometimes targeted by thieves waiting for you to leave your bags unattended for a minute while collect your coffee or check in.

And don’t let your guard drop while you’re on the plane either, she adds. “Never leave your documents, wallets or any other important items in the seat pouch,” she stresses. “There have been cases where passengers have done so, just for a few minutes, only to arrive at their destination with no passport.”

4. Know what to pay

While it’s not technically fraud, being ripped off by overcharging train, bus or taxi drivers can also take a knock out of your travel budget. So before you step off the plane, train or bus in a foreign city, look up the costs of transport and decide on a safe and affordable option, advises Cape Town-based business traveller Farren Botha, 42, who has spent much of her working life on the road. “I always make sure I know where I’m going long before I reach a destination,” she says. “It saves my company and we don’t end up going around in circles.”

5. Don’t use the same password

We get it; remembering several passwords can be difficult. But using the same password across multiple accounts, including your frequent flyer loyalty accounts, is really not advisable. Just ask United and American Airlines customers: in 2016 thieves stole the login information for about 35 travellers from a third-party website and tested their victims’ passwords across a multitude of platforms. Those who used the same password for the airlines’ sites were robbed of more than 10 000 bonus frequent flier miles. The hackers were eventually detected, but only after they tried using the stolen passwords to book trips and travel upgrades.

6. Be careful who you book with

Barely a month goes by when the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata) doesn’t get a complaint of someone scammed by a pseudo travel company. Like any industry, the travel industry is a target for fraudsters. Make sure you do your background checks to ensure the travel agent, website or tour operator you are buying your travel products from is legitimate. All Asata member travel agencies and tour operators are vetted and are required to adhere to a strict code of conduct, so booking via an Asata accredited travel supplier is always a good place to start. All Sure Travel agencies are Asata accredited.

7. Arm yourself with knowledge

While there’s no way you can be prepared for every evolving scam targeting travellers, there are a number of great websites you can check to avoid the latest rackets. Fraud.org, scam-detector.com and profit.uk.com are some of the best, offering travel industry-specific news on recent scams, and fraud prevention tips for consumers and businesses.

Need more expert advice from a travel pro? Speak to your nearest Sure Travel agent.