Travel #Photography Conundrum

Your suggestion? Please motivate and tell us how experienced you are.

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If money, weight and space were of no consideration, choosing a camera to travel with would have been easy. We often travel and also on trains, where space can be restricted. Another consideration is speed – one may have one, maybe two seconds to aim, compose, shoot.

Time is of the essence.

Battery life is critical. For instance, Canon just released their M50 mirrorless camera, which is small, lightweight, fast and affordable yet its battery life is dysmal compared to the company’s excellent EOS 80D DSLR. The former can take but 260 instead of the 960 photos of the latter, on one charge.

DSLR’s offer excellent photo quality, have larger sensors, which is important and some can do professional video as well. They are large, cost more generally and require the switching of lenses, not advisable out there in mud & dust.

Bridge cameras are an attractive option because of excellent zoom, up the the equivalent of 2,000mm focal length on Nikon P900. Lenses are fixed, great for convenience. The drawback? Smaller image sensors, therefore lower print quality, worse low light performance. Some are also slow but shoot RAW, can take external flash, microphone, headphone as in Canon’s nifty Powershot SX60HS. Bridge cameras aren’t always as cheap, though, as Leica, Panasonic and Sony will prove – despite small sensors of no larger than 1″. One inch, for millennials. 25mm.

Compacts use the same tiny sensors as smartphones and are therefore discounted for this discussion.

DSLR market has a rich harvest of lenses, with Canon being top dog. Mirrorless cameras are only marginally catered for.

As for deciding between a small sensor bridge or a large sensor DSLR? Cost is a factor as lenses with equivalent reach will make the DSLR route insanely expensive and lenses will be huge, weigh a ton. Bridge cameras cando it all but is a tiny sensor good for 2x2m prints?

What would you choose? Options are:

– Canon EOS 80D with Sigma 18-300mm contemporary lens

– Canon Powershot SX60HS

– Nikon B700

The 80D route will cost three times more than either bridge camera or double the price of Panasonic Lumux FZ2500.

Your suggestion? Please motivate and tell us how experienced you are.

Charter Your Own Train!

You can charter your own coach or even a whole Metrorail train!

You can charter your own coach or even a whole Metrorail train!

This, of course is great for educational purposes as schools do make use of this facility regularly. Also ideal for social functions such as birthdays, weddings, church activities or even corporate events such as team building, year end functions or conferences.

The service is available from 9am – 3pm and must be booked at least two weeks in advance.

Security Guards are provided and we can also provide guides!

A favourite route is the scenic Southern Line from Cape Town to Fish Hoek, as depicted here. Or visit Strand, Stellenbosch or a wine farm in the Boland.

All you need to do, is to determine how many passengers you want to bring along, as well as a date. Then contact me on traintours@outlook.com and I will send you a quotation.

We can even assist in arranging meals at some great restaurants, mountain hiking, museum tours – you tell me what your needs are and I help you meet them.

Don’t delay, do this today!!

Random Rural Routes

This is real travel. Adventure is what births the traveler. You get people who fly across the globe without being travelers, you see. Travel is ingrained in the bone marrow from an early age.

It was back in the 1960’s and we wore safari suits & sandals. Randomly, we siblings would be summoned to bath, comb the cropped Nr 4 haistyles and get into the car.

A big car with tiny fins at the rear and a star on the hood. Lots of space inside, which was cool. A cavernous trunk that could swallow a platoon of Trojan invaders. And a kosblik.

We have this thing called padkos in South Africa. It usually consisted of cold boerewors, hard boiled eggs, sandwiches, frikkadelle, lamb chops, karringmelkbeskuit. (Google the unknown terms!)

We would lock up and go and before the car was in top gear, someone would ask: “Where are we going to?” Dad would usually answer: “We are following the car’s nose.”

This is real travel. Adventure is what births the traveler. You get people who fly across the globe without being travelers, you see. Travel is ingrained in the bone marrow from an early age.

So we would stop somewhere under a tree, at a hongertafeltjie – I coined that term for the concrete tables and benches by the roadside.

Padkos would be enjoyed al fresco. At the grave between Tweedside and Matjiesfontein, or in Bain’s Kloof, or somewhere between two Free State dorpies. Once, we had melktert in the middle of the Karoo, between Britstown and Strydenburg.

Such random travels took us to the Kruger National Park or the Big Hole in Kimberley. We camped where the two oceans meet at Agulhas, ate dried fruit in Montagu and swatted muggies at Gouda.

In this spirit of adventure, we crossed the Breede at Malgas (Malagas, really) and helped the wiry Oom Moksie Dunn haul the heavy pont across the river.

We saw the secretary bird kill a snake near Kimberley and blue cranes in wheat fields. At Roedtan, we ate putu-pap and lamb for breakfast.

High up in a tower we could overlook the entire smokey Johannesburg. And went into a studio where a livebroadcast was being done. I was six years old.

We saw weird and wonderful animals in zoos and visited Cape Point, went up Table Mountain.

We ate bokkems at Gouda and quinces at Halfmanshof. And we ate mebos. Passing through little dorpies, we always had our Thermos flask filled with sweet, black coffee – and consumed it at a suitable outlook or hongertafeltjie somewhere between Rondomverdwaal and Halfverskrik.

So we discovered the Tsitsikamma, rode ostriches, ventured into the Waenhuiskrans at Arniston.

This is just a taste of travel. Real travel, not the plastic kind you get at thirty thousand feet.

One must have it in your bones. Thanks, Dad, for making a real traveler out of your son before he was seven years old. As Awethentiq is it gets.

Twitter & IG @awethentiq

A Magic Journey on The Blue Train

Nadine excels in telling us about her excursion on Africa’s very best train, also many times rated as the world’s very best.

I just love a well-written article, especially when it tells the reader about an adventure in a hard-to-reach spot. Nadine excels in telling us about her excursion on Africa’s very best train, also many times rated as the world’s very best. Read about this great journey here http://goo.gl/UguRq2

The Joys of #RailTravel

This is you next holiday – you can even take your car or SUV with you!

This is you next holiday – you can even take your car or SUV with you!

There is somehow a perception that trains have stopped running in South Africa in 1994. Many reasons are given by “those in the know” yet I am here to boldly tell you that all is well. We travel so often that I have lost count, but I am going to outline some of our journeys for you.

PREMIER CLASSE

1-2 November 2016

Upon our arrival at the Premier Classe Lounge, we were served with tea, coffee, scones and muffins. Our Train Manager welcomed us and we were addressed by Mr Mthura Swartz, Executive Manager, Main Line Passenger Services. We were made to feel at home. We also soon made friends with a couple from Kenya.

We left Cape Town on the morning of November 1, 2016, on board PremierClasse, South Africa’s only affordable luxury train. At a price point less than a business class airline ticket, you get:

  • Air-conditioned throughout with individual controls in each compartment
  • Only two guests per compartment, one per coupe.
  • Convenient lockable wardrobes, oodles of stowage space and lots of place to hang things
  • Complementary amenities such as body wash, shampoo and shower slippers
  • Shower gowns and towels – these remain on the train
  • A variety of mood- and day/night lighting options with reading lights as well.
  • A foldable table that hides a stainless steel wash basin
  • Soft carpeting on the floors
  • A complementary bottle of still spring water per guest
  • Personalised welcoming letters that also serves as travel information regarding your journey
  • Two lounges with cash bars, with card payment facilities – one for smokers, one for non-smokers
  • Dining cars where some of the most delectable meals are served, prepared by top class chefs
  • Dinner is a five course affair. Affaire could be the right description. It is a sensory seduction.
  • Lunch is a three course delight fit for a king
  • Breakfast – once you have been served, you can face an army. It is scrumptious and laden with goodness
  • Afternoon tea with a selection of cake
  • Welcoming tea/coffee with a selection of muffins and scones, jam and butter, sometimes cheese as well, in the PremierClasse Lounge
  • Welcoming bubbly or juice with crisps, nuts, sandwiches and biltong once on board.
  • I forgot to mention the crisp bed linen, really in a league well above the travel price – also included.
  • A conference car that can be equipped according to your needs and taking 20 – 30 delegates. Also great for weddings, birthdays and wedding anniversaries or just a nice party!
  • Telephones are being installed so that guests can order room service or summon the Train Manager.
  • Mains power ports – 220V great for USB charging, laptops, cameras or your own music gadgets!
  • Plain clothes Police and Security officers keep guests safe. Relax, all is well!

On this first journey, we traveled to Potchefstroom, some 1,200km away – it is not a scheduled stop yet the Train Manager allowed us to disembark as we had another train to catch.

Our train traveled through the vineyards of the Boland and finally we stopped in Worcester where fresh water and Diesel fuel were replenished. The fuel is for the twin generator set that powers all facilities on board as overhead power is only for the electric locomotives. We then passed through the scenic Hex River Valley, then the Hexton tunnel complex that consists of four tunnels of 0.5km, 1.1km, 1.2km and 13.5km respectively. We emerged in the Karoo desert and witnessed a sable antelope that stood guard over a solar power farm. On to Beaufort West, where we arrived about 90 minutes early. On our way there, we were served with afternoon tea and cake.

At Beaufort West, more replenishment and a single Class 7E locomotive replaced the twin set of Class 6E1’s. Overhead voltage now increased from 3kV to 7kV. This is also where the sun set as we passed Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve while the famous five course dinner was served. Some had energy left to party the night away, smoke cigars in the Club Car or just converse with fellow guests over a few drinks in the Lounge Car. In the last few rays of daylight, we were treated to three herds of Springbok (Thomson’s gazelle) showing off their skills. A beautiful sight to behold and as African as it can get.

The next morning, we woke to coffee being served at our compartment – sunrise was so beautiful but we soon saw more herds of wild game – kudu, eland, sable antelope, zebra, gnu, giraffes, red hartebeest……and we were being served that famous breakfast as we passed through Klerksdorp and the first gold mines. Our journey was over within forty minutes and we greeted our new-made friends from Kenya, delightful people that we are still in contact with.

Our Train Manager was the venerable Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana.

14 March 2017

A number of journalists were invited but only showed up. Then you ask me why you didn’t know that main line rail passengers in this country is still alive and well, just better than in the days of old. The occasion was celebrating the brand new Conference Car and I travelled with Mr Karel Crous, the Area Manager, Prasa main Line Passenger Services, as a special guest, to Wellington. I had the opportunity to view the Conference Car on its maiden journey, but had to terminate my travel at Wellington as I had another appointment soon after.

17 March 2017

Karen and I boarded at Klerksdorp, on the return journey of the PremierClass with Conference Car. This was an excellent choice, as the SiMODiSA #VentureTrain was happening in the Conference Car and I was the first media representative to see it in action. Quite phenomenal and those people brought a great mood with them. Our journey to Cape Town, like our November one, was a delight and bordered upon indulgent. We met the owner of a game ranch, his wife, brother and sister-in-law. As our train was a bit delayed, we had the benefit of traveling about two hours longer, due to speed restrictions imposed by the Rail Safety Regulator and/or Transnet Freight Rail, both separate entities. Even so, these and other guests were reluctant to end their journeys as they found it so enjoyable.

Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana was our friendly Train Manager.

11 April 2017

Arriving at the PremierClasse Lounge, we were met by Chris and Nathan, who efficiently took charge of our luggage and directed us towards the lounge area, where Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana awaited guests for the welcoming snacks and drinks – and the regulation welcoming speech and “house rules.” We soon made new friends and were soon on our way, but I first showed an interested guest the heritage trains at the nearby Monument Station. Our journey to Klerksdorp was very pleasant and we were yet again treated to much wild game along the way. We arrived some twenty minutes late despite having gained 90 minutes during the course of the night. This was welcome as it afforded us an opportunity to breakfast before we disembarked.

27 April 2017

Our train arrived a few hours late due to speed restrictions as there was a TFR freight train that had derailed a week prior and the Rail Safety Regulator did not give clearance to travel at the usual 90km/h, but rather at 30km/h. As our train drew into the station from Johannesburg, a guest stepped out to stretch her legs. Her words to me: “Sir, you’d better board this train, the MOOD on here is GOOD.” So, it runs much late yet the guests celebrate? We were whisked to the dining room where our food was served, as they kept our lunch for us. A very nice touch. Then we went to unpack and settle in, as my usual paraphernalia had to be hooked up to the mains power to get charged. Cameras, laptop, tablet, three phones. We are geeks on a mission.

This journey became memorable in so many ways, as we saw even more wild game, twice we found that eagles glided for some distance right next to where we sat to breakfast in the Dining Car. We could advise foreign guests on matters travel in South Africa and we were delighted to count so many relics from the Anglo Boer War of 1899-1902, in the form of blockhouses.

People really enjoyed themselves even though we were running quite late – they found it a bonus as they now had more time to play card games or chat while having a few more cocktails from the cash bar. One guest came up to me and said: “You told me this is the #GoodFoodTrain, but I can improve upon that. Let me call it the “GreatValueTrain as we get more for the same money.” I just loved that attitude!

So, we rolled along the Karoo desert towards the Hex River and Cape Town. Because of circumstances beyond the control of Prasa, our train arrived nine hours late; we had two extra meals meanwhile and dessert with each. I stand amazed at the hours the staff were on duty and how friendly their service was throughout. As we neared Cape Town, a few guests came up to me, asking if I knew “the guys at the top.” They then asked me to “put a letter forward asking that the train always travels at 30km/h so that they can sleep another night on board.” Out of 68 guests on board, only ONE person was upset because of the delays.

Our Train Manager was Mr Patrick Khumalo assisted by James. As we disembarked, James asked me if the trip was exhausting and I surprised him by saying that, to the contrary, a number of guests indicated that they would board at the drop of a hat…..ready to go! Traveling on the PremierClasse is exceptionally pleasant and I am so glad I am not on board on the many days that I see it arrive either on time or a bit early. I would hate that!

SHOSHOLOZA MEYL

Expect:

  • Two classes, Sleeper and Sitter
  • Dining Car
  • A La Carte restaurant
  • Cash bar
  • As on PremierClasse, two flushing toilets but traditional types
  • Hot showers
  • USB charging ports, 220V
  • Carriages are being refurbished and have wood paneling (almost as great as PremierClasse)
  • 5 or more uniformed armed SA Police Officers
  • 5 or more uniformed Prasa Protection Services Officers

You are in capable and safe hands!

November 2, 2016,

We boarded the ShosholozaMeyl at Potchefstroom and were allocated our compartment. It was old and maybe needed a lick of paint but it was really very clean and somehow, someone had made our (optional). Otherwise, spic & span! We left in a mild thunderstorm, treated to the beauty of Highveld lightning as we passed the many gold mines on our way to Kimberley. Soon, we had dinner which was a beautiful Sirloin served with Hot and cold salads. We had nice company in the form of a few couples who traveled quite often, ONLY to experience the train! They came to beautiful Cape Town, stayed a night or two and were on the next train back. They take all routes on ShosholozaMeyl and never seem to get enough of it. A good sign.

I slept like a log and woke in time for breakfast. Trains lull me to sleep and the gentle sway is something I love. I almost forgot to tell you: we were woken with coffee, a rather nice touch. After breakfast, we stopped at Beaufort West to replenish (there were two such stops while I was sleeping, at De Aar and Kimberley.) From there, we started our slow descent towards the Hex River Valley a few hundred kilometres away, passed through the four Hexton tunnels, the valley itself and on to the beautiful Worcester. We spent some twenty minutes here and I was fortunate as Mr Karel Crous, Area Manager, awaited me and promptly installed me in the driver’s cabin with driver Okkie Pretorius and Assistant Henricho Vermeulen. I had a fantastic ride to Wellington, through Nuwekloof Pass between Tulbagh and Gouda and, all too soon, our journey ended.

Our Train Managers were Mr Veldtsman and Delafontyn while Soraya Stemmet managed the dining car. We were really impressed.

November 23, 2016

We boarded at Cape Town and were once again surprised to see how smooth a train can pull away. One just sees the “platform move away.” So subtle, even on a budget tourist class train. We followed the same route to Beaufort West and took many photos, or bloopers, rather. Fun with cameras….. The train was very neat and tidy, nothing out of place. James, Assistant Train Manager was installed in the Dining Car where Suraya Stemmet did her usual magic and we really enjoyed the shorter journey to Beaufort West, where Dries Potgieter of Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve collected us for a farm stay. Something I can really recommend.

We stayed for a week en returned on ShosholozaMeyl on November 28, 2016 – another pleasant journey.

I think this is sufficient to give you an idea of passenger rail travel in South Africa that really is doing quite well. You owe yourself a nice journey!

July 5, 2017

Stepping from a train that had been awarded the title of World’s Best Luxury Train some sixteen times or so, of which eight were consecutive, we boarded this train that cost almost twenty-two times less. With some guests in our party who had never traveled on trains before! No problem, they found all to their satisfaction and they soon were tweeting and posting all over social media about how great this backpacker on wheels was! Yes, ShosholozaMeyl is LOVED by we South Africans, yet we see that visitors from abroad travel here to experience her yet again. Some adopt some sort of “addiction.”

Yes, rail travel in South Africa is just great and, if anything, better than 25 years ago!

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Join the #RailLoveRevolution (also as a group on Facebook) and re-live the days of rail travel. It is here and it is as great as ever, if not even better!

Be sure to: Follow @awethentiq on both Twitter and Instagram. Visit www.railloverevolution.blogspot.com

Email traintours@outlook.com or fill out this form:

Be AwethentiQ on #TheBlueTrain

Our company, AWETHENTIQ, is authorised agent for The Blue Train. Over and above acting as booking agent, we also arrange safari’s, visits to game reserves, hotel and farm stays, wine & brandy tours, helicopter flights, airline reservations, etc.

We are AwethentiQ – a combination of awesome, authentic and unique. We only promote what we have experienced ourselves.

In our team:

  • Karen – Photographer
  • Amanda, Tour Guide
  • Pieter – Director, Blogger

Our company is authorised agent for The Blue Train. Over and above acting as booking agent, we also arrange safari’s, visits to game reserves, hotel and farm stays, wine & brandy tours, helicopter flights, airline reservations, etc.

We do regional day tours in the Western Cape and guided walking tours in Cape Town CBD area.

+27844110655

traintours@outlook.com

Steenbokkie – Paradise Between Cape Town and Johannesburg

One particular dislike I have, is to sleep in a town where trucks grind gears, exhaust brakes roaring or trains get shunted about at 3AM. Peace and quiet is what I need and Steenbokkie is just that.

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Zebra Crossing

Travel between Johannesburg and Cape Town is best experienced if the trip is done in two or three days. Rushing down the highway in one day is not only downright dangerous, but South Africa is slipping past unseen.

One of the nicest stays along the way is Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve about 7km (4 miles) north of Beaufort West. It remains a favourite stay with us, as the serviced overnight rooms and chalets are well-equipped and furnished in classic style.

Steenbokkie is self-catering and accommodation is fully air-conditioned with en suite bathrooms. Each room has tea/coffee making facilities, there also is a shared kitchen BUT the chalets all have their own kitchens, lounges and private braai (BBQ) areas. Satellite television is available but please rather experience a starlit Karoo night.

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Lovely Camping Area

Camping is great on lush, green lawns under shady trees. Yes, there is electricity and also adequate, clean ablutions facilities.

Stay at least two nights, take a stroll in the nearby desert, see wild game such as gnu, springbok, fallow deer and more.

You will also encounter a variety of wild- and farm animals at the farmstead. Kids will love it and so will you. Be sure to get a braai pack and enjoy a great Karoo evening under the exceptionally bright starlit sky. There is so much more, go discover the hidden treasures, the fullness of the Karoo will soon bust the myth of “there is just nothing.” Like us, you may even encounter the rare steenbok, the small antelope that this paradise borrowed its name from. http://steenbokkie.blogspot.co.za/2017/02/accommodation-at-steenbokkie.html?m=1

Friendly neighbour willing to eat from your hand
Our private braai area
Second Bedroom
Our Bedroom
Courtyard
Lounge with satellite TV
Lounge with Dining Area
Paradise in the Karoo