Vol 2 • Issue 1 • Sep - Oct 2015
Wild Atlantic Way
Getaway of African stars
Rich culture & heritage
First birthday milestones! August, and now September, have been very exciting and dramatic months for flyafrica.com. In August we were very excited to celebrate our first birthday -- this is a milestone for any person or entity but for an airline, especially one that is so different as flyafrica.com, it was very special indeed. We decided to celebrate by offering 30,000 seats into Africa for $1. Something that had never been done before! Over 50,000 people tried to book at 10 am; so our website stopped working for a while. When the sale was finished 8,000 seats had been sold. The sale is consistent with our principles -- we will always take steps to ensure we offer you the cheapest fare. We also believe in giving you the right to pay for what you want -- not pay for what you don’t want. After a year of flying passengers into Africa this concept has been well established and welcomed by our customers. In August we took delivery of our third plane, which will shortly be placed into service with our third airline. We have already gone public with our first two airlines: Namibia and Zimbabwe but our third airline will be very special indeed. Stay tuned for the news of our third airline -- we will be announcing this on the 25th of September. Announcements do not come much bigger than what we did in September at the New York Forum hosted in Gabon. Under the patronage of H.E. President Ali Bongo Ondimba flyafrica.com announced the launch of Gabon flyafrica, our first airline project in West Africa. With the support of the President of Gabon and Ivor Ichikowitz, a leading African Industrialist, flyafrica’s Gabonese airline will commence flights in November 2015. We will be taking our low-fare business model into West Africa with flights from Libreville, Gabon to most countries in West Africa. This is an exciting development for flyafrica that cements our role as the leader of the low fare revolution in Africa and the only truly pan-African airline.
Flyafrica’s Gabonese airline will commence flights in November 2015
The success of our low cost model can be seen in Zimbabwe. Since our arrival fares have dropped across the board as carriers compete with us while passenger numbers have increased. On the Harare to Johannesburg route alone total passengers have increased by over 30%. The vast majority of travellers welcome our low-fare model and the established airlines realise that we are developing a new market segment. They are not scared of competition and are happy to see us operated. As always, there is always someone opposed to our innovation and competition. Air Namibia have thrown every hurdle they can to stop us, even running to the High Court to seek an injunction to prevent us flying while claiming to welcome competition. The actions of the perennial Pinocchios at Air Namibia did not stop us from launching our low-fare product on Johannesburg-Windhoek on 2 September with three flights per week. We are committed to the Namibian market, and we will ensure that we develop more business between Namibia and South Africa -- just like we have done between Zimbabwe and South Africa. In one short year we have made major inroads into the travel market. With the launch of Gabon and more airlines we will continue to bring low fares to Africa.
Group CEO flyafrica.com September-October 2015
Worth the wait! On September 2 at 10.25 am our first flight landed in Windhoek. On that flight we had 56 passengers who paid 70-80% less than they normally would have to make that journey. Namibia flyafrica had finally landed and our two years of planning had reached fruition. Initially scheduled for launch in March this year we have been dragged through license hearings, appeals, objections and countless barriers thrown at us by Air Namibia to keep us out of the market. We do not know why. We are a proudly Namibian airline that has been in operation for 23 years. In that time we have never asked for a bail-out, a “refinancing” or state funding. We have never asked the Government to buy us planes that we cannot afford. We have never been a drain on the taxpayer and we have always paid taxes. I wonder who of our competitors can say that? Air Namibia has fought bitterly to keep us out of this market. Despite the fact that three South African Airlines fly between Johannesburg and Windhoek, Air Namibia feel they should be the only Namibian airline that is allowed to do this. The logic is missing on us. Our first flight showed the demand for low-fares exists. We are fully committed to delivering this to the travelling public that have paid too much for too long. A High Court injunction prevented us operating flights for the week beginning September 7. We placed our passengers on other carriers and relaunched on September 14 with flights from Lanseria, rather than O.R. Tambo. Lanseria allows us to further reduce our costs, making our fares over 80% less than our competitors. We know that Air Namibia will not stop fighting to block us flying. If they had shown this level of commitment to being a profitable airline it would be commendable. We shall not be deterred from our path of bringing low fares to Namibia. While the initial road may be bumpy at times it will definitely be worth the wait. Thank you for your support. Your patience and enthusiasm is what makes this all worthwhile.
CEO Flyafrica Namibia
We shall not be deterred from our path of bringing low fares to Namibia
flyafrica.com GROUP CEO: Adrian Hamilton-Manns CEO FLYAFRICA ZIMBABWE: Professor Chakanyuka Karase
Subcontinental Media Private Limited Publisher & Director Vikas Johari Founder & Director Prakash Johari Executive Editor Abhishek Chakraborty
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Inside this issue Volume II • Issue I • Sep-Oct 2015
14 On the cover Vol 2 • Issue 1 • Sep - Oct 2015
Cov er Story-zam b ia
Wild Atlantic Way
Getaway of African stars
rich culture & heritage
Rich ethnic cultural heritage, ample wildlife and heart songs describe the essence of Zambia. The warm people and the magnificent Victoria Falls are undoubtedly the key attractions for visiting.
14 Zambia – land of heritage and wildlife Rich ethnic cultural heritage, ample wildlife and heart songs describe the essence of Zambia. Yet make no mistake, the warm people and the magnificent Victoria Falls are undoubtedly the key attractions for visiting
on the move Big game at Hwange Hwange National Park is packed with big game and is famous for massive numbers of buffalo and elephant herds
snap shots London diary
action Land of the leopard
shopping Shop the smart way
Truly cosmopolitan and having some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures, London is referred as the ‘World in One City’
explore Hidden getaway of African stars It’s perhaps of no wonder why African celebrities praise and recommend Namibia as the destination of choice
explore It’s not just about wildlife
adventure Tantalising trail The 2,600-km-long Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world
01. Group CEO Note 06. flyafrica 101 South Luangwa offers incredible walking 70. Routes safari and an overall level of guiding regarded as the very best 72. In-Flight Menu
A stroll on the streets of Nairobi is bound to find a wide selection of gifts and other memorabilia to crown your trip
The ‘big five’ may appear intriguing if gaped at from a jeep, but there is much more to explore in South Africa
leisure Living in these coffee cities
Only a few cities across the globe have managed to make coffee a major selling point. We list a few
Machines Ready for a smooth ride?
With its quirky styling and low prices, the Citroen C4 Cactus stands out from the crowd September-October 2015
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where to be
Durban Bierfest South Africa’s biggest beer festival just got bigger for 2015! Now housed in a 4,000 seater-Bavarian Brauhaus adorned with authentic décor from the Motherland, this year the brewmeisters have three beers on offer, modelled on their German equivalents. They are the Munich Dunkel, the Krystal Weiss and the Royal Bavaria, each bringing their own flavour and texture to your bench.. When: September 4-5, 2015 Where: Durban, South Africa
Tulbagh Arts Festival In it’s fourth year, Tulbagh Arts Festival celebrates arts in all varied forms. Tulbagh is South Africa’s third oldest town after Cape Town and Stellenbosch and has always been associated with the ‘finer things in life’ -- art, music, architecture. The festival will offer a relaxed weekend where classical music, crossover music, art exhibitions, theatre, literature, food and wine are enjoyed against a backdrop of the spectacular Cape Winelands. When: September 11-13, 2015 Where: Tulbagh, South Africa
Open House London This hugely popular, capital-wide annual festival of architecture celebrates its 23rd anniversary in 2015. The festival allows access to hundreds of buildings not normally open to the public – private homes, government buildings, historic sites, educational establishments and many others. More than 800 free guided tours, architectural-themed walks, cycle rides, debates and activities are available during the weekend. When: September 19-20, 2015 Where: London
where to be
The Macufe Festival The Macufe Festival is a10-day cultural festival, showcasing the best of African and international talent. It is essentially Bloemfontein’s answer to cultural festivals such as the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtsoorn or the Aardklop Festival in Potchefstroom. It aims to be the biggest, most culturally balanced showcase of African Arts and Culture in the world. When: October 2-11, 2015 Where: Bloemfontein, South Africa
Joy of Jazz Every year, some of the world’s most renowned jazz performers come together for this celebration of Jazz in Joburg. This year there will be over 10 musicians performing across just about every genre of jazz, from mainstream and afro to R&B and world music. The festival, started in Pretoria almost two decades ago, has attracted over 50 local and international artists and more than 24,000 visitors. When: September 24-26, 2015 Where: Johannesburg, South Africa
Africa on the Square A free for all event, Africa on the Square is a festival of African culture and heritage, featuring live music, dance, fashion, entertainment, market, food and family workshops. Enjoy performances from African singers, drummers, acrobats and dancers, and there’s also the chance to experience food and fashion from around Africa at the food stands and catwalk. When: October 10, 2015 Where: Trafalgar Square, Central London
South Africa vs India The South African cricket team will travel to India for three T20 matches, five ODIs and four Test matches. The tour will be South Africa’s longest trip to India and will feature their first Twenty20 international against India in India and the first four-Test series between the two teams in India. When: October 2 onwards Where: Bloemfontein, South Africa
Balloon Fiesta Taking place every year at the vast 78-acre Balloon Fiesta Park, the site fills every autumn with something in the area of 1,00,000 spectators taking advantage of the perfect pocket of balloon riding weather known as the “Albuquerque Box.” Watching the sky fill with balloons from the ground is truly an awe-inspiring, borderline spiritual sight. When: October 3-11, 2015 Where: New Mexico, the United States
Cape Town Boat Show Often referred to as ‘the granddaddy of boat shows on the African continent, Cape Town International Boat Show is South Africa’s premier boating and water sport show. The show is in its 15th year and is the only exhibition endorsed by the Marine Industry Association of South Africa. Some part of the show will take place at the V&A Waterfront, and others at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The two venues are within walking distance of each other and also linked by water ferries and shuttle buses. When: October 9-11, 2015 Where: Cape Town
where to be
Vegetarian Festival When hearing the name ‘Vegetarian Festival’, Western minds probably think, “Oh, that’s nice, if not a little dull. Where’s the excitement in vegetables?” In this case, the reality is there are a lot of reasons to be excited about this event. Observers should expect to see entranced mediums walking the streets of Phuket with their faces and bodies pierced with thin long pins, knives, stakes, swords, and any manner of sharp objects. When: October 15 - 23, 2015 Where: Phuket, Thailand
Johannesburg Motor Show The biennial Johannesburg International Motor Show is a 12-day automotive exhibition and lifestyle event held in the heart of Johannesburg. The exhibition will feature displays, interactive activities, demonstrations and motoring subevents and a 45,000 metre square gross indoor exhibit space. When: October 14-25, 2015 Where: Johannesburg Expo Centre, South Africa
Voodoo Experience In a city already famed for its decadent and celebratory spirit, New Orleans’ Voodoo Music & Arts Experience channels the spirit of Halloween with a nod to local mysticism and throws a one-of-a-kind festival. Add to that solid programming with mega-watt headliners as well as local favourites, the city already known for raging parties and wild costumes becomes a playground with a world-class soundtrack. When: October 30-Nov 1, 2015 Where: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
65 700 1
MILLION VISITORS EVERY YEAR (MORE THAN NEW YORK CITY): DUBAI MALL IS THE WORLD’S PREMIER SHOPPING DESTINATION FLIGHTS EVERY WEEK CARRY PEOPLE BETWEEN INDIA AND DUBAI
MILLION INDIAN NATIONALS WERE WELCOMED HERE LAST YEAR: DUBAI IS TRULY A HOME FROM HOME
WHEN YOU RUN THE NUMBERS, DUBAI MEANS BUSINESS. SEE THE FILM AT VISION.AE/VIDEOS/NUMBERS
Zambia â€“ land of rich heritage and wildlife
Rich ethnic cultural heritage, ample wildlife and heart songs describe the essence of Zambia. Yet make no mistake, the warm people of the Republic of Zambia and the magnificent Victoria Falls are undoubtedly the key attractions for visiting
At a glance Zambiaâ€™s name comes from the Zambezi River Zambia has a mild climate, rarely reaching 35ÂşC You need to travel 600 miles in Zambia before you can see any real ocean.
here’s something about beauty; it cannot be put into words… In as much as beauty is something that is relative to the beholder, once you see it, you know something that you did not know before. The Republic of Zambia has a subtle beauty that is downright hard to describe. It is not just contained in its game parks and cultural festivities, but goes on to gravitate towards its people and the land. “Zambia is home. It is a place like no other,” confirms Clara Mactribouy, a Zambian multi-skilled hair salon owner and beautician whose business is in South Africa. While beautifying people, including the writer, she bursts into her cultural songs and has a grace about her that she attributes to her Zambian roots. According to Clara, the people are what makes the landlocked southern African country of Zambia unique. A lot of the people are believers and very welcoming. No matter where one is in the world, those who were born there, visited or lived in the Republic of Zambia reaffirm that their heritage and intertwined ways with nature are something to be praised. Rich in cultural heritage According to many Zambians and tourists, it is common to find a lot of countrymen singing, dancing and adorned in traditional attires on no special occasions. The songs are often sung in traditional languages by people belonging to diverse ethnic groups as they go about everyday life.
1 Zambia is rich in wildlife safaris 2 Local markets are a huge attraction for tourists 3 The country is also home to many spectacular wonders of nature and treats 4 Experience the real Africa with a Zambia Tour or Safari
Communication is an important part of life and can take place in the official language of English or a host of other spoken languages. Amongst country folks, the indigenous languages of Nyanja or Bemba are also common. Other languages that are actively spoken include, but are not limited to, Tonga, Luvale, Lozi, Kaonde and Lunda. It is believed that way over 50 languages are spoken in the Republic of Zambia, thereby symbolising a deep connection that the people still have to their proud cultural heritages.
Quick facts Capital city of the Republic of Zambia: Lusaka Motto: ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ Currency: Zambian kwacha (ZMW)
Traditional ceremonies and ways of doing life are still maintained and serve as invitations to tourists interested in cultural tourism. Overflowing in diverse wildlife It is not just the sincere people of the Republic of Zambia who are the drawcards for domestic and international tourists, but they are also known for their roles as keepers of the land, notorious for its diverse wildlife and the safari opportunities.
Animals, flora and fauna are a big deal to the ethnic people and tourists alike. There are ample opportunities for one to not just visit, but have an authentic experience of a lot that is on offer. Accommodation options include different budgets and offer an assortment of modest to luxury lodgings.
In some areas guests can enjoy outdoor showers, houseboats, game drives, bush walks and get so close, your feet can touch the ground to feel the rugged terrain and soil. Even though tourists are spoilt for choice, responsible tourism is something to keep in mind.
‘Smoke that Thunders’ One of the most popular attractions is the marvelous Victoria Falls – indigenously called Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘Smoke that Thunders’. The misty views on offer, sounds and life around the area is nothing short of spectacular. A lot has been documented about the Victoria Falls and it continues to serve as a popular tourist attraction, which brings together people from near and far. A lot of legends and stories are told about the spectacle. It is a pride to its people and those who hail it for its purging, healing and natural wonder properties.
5 Cultural song and dance are a huge crowd pleaser 6 Adventure activities in Victoria Falls
7 Lozi people celebrating their annual Kuomboka festival
While Zambians were quick to place their stamp of approval concerning the Victoria Falls offering an experience like none other, there was a deep call for people to also visit other areas and support local businesses. The cry was to buy local merchandize, support local produces and to give back to the people who call the Republic of Zambia home. Words: Phindiwe Nkosi
FlyAfricaADprint.pdf 1 8/31/2015 8:22:51 PM
ELEPHANT'S EYE, HWANGE OFFERS AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE. Stay 4 nights and only pay 3 on our amazing SADC Special from R15,079 including flights. Feel at one with nature as you experience fine dining and exceptional game viewing. The lodge offers superb bush dinners, guided walking safaris, game drives, laundry, spa treatments and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Enquiries: email@example.com www.africanluxuryhideaways.com
on the move
Big game at
Hwange National Park is packed with big game and is famous for massive numbers of buffalo and -- in particular -- its elephant herds
wange is the largest and best known of Zimbabweâ€™s national parks. At 15,000 square kilometres, Hwange National Park is packed with big game and is famous for massive numbers of buffalo and -- in particular -its elephant herds. Thatâ€™s not all. The park boasts over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. It is said that the population of wild dogs in Hwange is one of the largest in Africa. The most remarkable physical features of Hwange are the shallow pans (lake-lets) and natural salt-licks, which attract animals from the adjoining Kalahari wilderness. The flora of the park is mostly Acacia woodland set in Kalahari sands. And it is also the most accessible reserve in the country; hiring cars from Victoria Falls or Bulawayo is easy and cheap.
The best periods to visit the Hwange National Park are from July to August and from December to March Little history Located in the northwest corner of Zimbabwe, bordering Botswana in the west, Hwange National Park is named after the warrior king Mzilikazi of the Ndebele tribe. He used the area as a hunting ground before it was declared a national park in 1929. Just an hours drive from the mighty Victoria Falls, it is one of Africaâ€™s finest havens for wildlife and is home to a vast array of animals. Herds of animals, ranging from eland, zebra, giraffe, sable, wildebeest, roan and kudu, can be easily seen at the pans during their habitual drinking time. September-October 2015
on the move
QUICK GUIDE wange National H Park covers over 14,000 sq kms. It carries 105 mammal species, including 19 large herbivores and eight large carnivores. Elephant make up the largest proportion of the biomass. The landscape includes desert sand to sparse woodland as well as grasslands and granite outcrops. Manmade waterholes were introduced to sustain the animals through the dry season.
But all was not well when the park was declared a game reserve. Much of the game viewing was wiped out by settlers and hunters. When Ted Davison, the first warden, surveyed the park, he concluded that no white rhino existed and there were no more than 1,000 elephants. Today Hwange boasts the worldâ€™s densest elephant population. Best time The best periods to visit the Hwange National Park are from July to August and from December to March. Game viewing is at its best in the dry season (from July/August, and the driest in September and October), when the scarcity of water attracts large numbers of elephants to the waterholes. During the rainy season (December to March), the wildlife is dispersing across the park and thus making it more difficult to spot them. However, the birdlife is spectacular at this time of the year. Accommodation Though there are numerous accommodations options available inside the park, the one that stands out is Elephantâ€™s Eye. Elephantâ€™s Eye,
Hwange, sits in its own private 6,000 acre concession on the border of Hwange National Park. The good part of this lodge is the presence of numerous permanent waterholes in its vicinity. They attract large number of wildlife throughout the year, particularly during the dry season. Elephantâ€™s Eye, Hwange also has a number of qualified guides not only offering game drives, but the thrill and excitement of exploring the bush and seeing some of Africaâ€™s biggest animals on foot. If you are adventurous enough, go for a night drive on the concession. You might come across some animals that you may not even know existed. September-October 2015
Truly cosmopolitan and having some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures, London is referred as the ‘World in One City’
1 At St Paul’s Cathedral you can walk around the whole of the ground floor, visit the crypt, and climb all 530 steps to the top of the dome.
2 Panorama from the Golden Gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral, it’s actually a combination of four panoramas – North, East, South and West facing.
3 The Natural History Museum exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history.
Also called the â€œMillennium Wheelâ€?, the London Eye is probably present in the checklist of every tourist. 4
5 London’s Tower Bridge is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world.
Built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, Buckingham Palace replaced St James’s Palace as the monarch’s official London residence in 1837
The Houses of Parliament stand on the site of the old Palace of Westminster. It’s a really stunning building: a real London icon..
Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market; a source of exceptional British and international produce. September-October 2015
The hidden getaway of
African stars Spacious yet buzzing with culture and metropolitan hype, itâ€™s no wonder that African celebrities praise and recommend Namibia as the destination of choice
ou have it or you don’t. You can’t fake a presence, an aura and that “je ne sais quoi” effect. It is something that no amount of marketing gimmicks can recreate. No sensationalism can forge. It is either there or it isn’t. You either have it or you don’t… The Republic of Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek definitely has it. Some places have a rustic, intimate and inviting presence about them. Although metropolitan, it is not the most elaborate town you can find and yet the vibe, city lights, accents and warmth make up for all that it is not. In fact, everything comes together to present Windhoek -- the largest city of the Republic of Namibia -- as a plus; an unmatched experience waiting to be lived over and over. There’s something about it that captivates locals, masses and especially African celebrities who confessed to being drawn to this city. From the mouth of the celebs… “Namibia, Windhoek to be more specific, is the type of place that you visit once and it stays with you forever. I wish I could tell you what it is, but it is a mixture of everything. The town has a presence that draws you in and the landscape on the way to Windhoek is most marvellous to behold,” says Jabari Makhooane, a professional TV lead actor and radio voice artist with a rich heritage from the kingdom of Lesotho. According to Makhooane, one does not need a lot of words to describe Windhoek because it sells itself. Unlike acting where things are often made up, he affirms that the city is as real as it gets. In the markets you can smell the food, taste the exotic spices, hear the chit-chatter, touch monuments and feel the hospitableness of the people.
Fast facts Windhoek is the capital city of Namibia Virtually every Namibian national enterprise has its headquarters in Windhoek The first Jacaranda trees were planted in Windhoek in 1917.
“It is a sensory experience that awakens all your senses. My visit allowed me to participate and not just sit around and watch. When I got home, it seemed as though I brought a bit of Namibia back with me. I would undoubtedly recommend Windhoek to all who are looking for a business network or unusual family vacation spot,” adds Makhooane. Popular radio personality, motivational speaker and author of “Motivated and Personally Engaged”, Romeo Mabasa, too, had pleasant memories and was adamant that Namibia is a destination of choice based on his frequent travels to the country. September-October 2015
Windhoek facts Established 18 October 1890 It is the capital city of the Republic of Namibia It is the largest city in the country Languages used are mostly English, Afrikaans and German Currency used is the Namibian Dollar (NAD)
“Namibia has the most uncomplicated towns and is close to nature. I find it to be very family orientated. Once you have been there a couple of times, you are bound to fall in love with its people. I also love the fact that they truly support South African music. I absolutely recommend Namibia to other travellers,” concludes Romeo, who is currently residing in South Africa. Taste and see the goodness at market places According to some, the first thing to do when in Windhoek is to switch off so that you can be fully engaged in the moment and spirit of the time. One reoccurring attraction is said to be the marketplace. What makes it a must-see is that this is where you can walk the streets and meet with real Namibians, see their interactions, hear their languages and, most importantly, taste the yummy goodness of Namibia. Although somewhat crowded, market places are said to be the melting pot of the city and offer
informal and formal food outlets that range from unsophisticated to posh and classy. Market places were the one underlying thread that cut across most celebrities’ recommendations of must-see destinations. Many more attractions When one has to mention tourist attractions, there are a lot of contradictions, simply because there are so many wonderful options. It is hard to come up with one particular thing, building or activity.
1 Heinitzburg is one of the three castles in Windhoek, Namibia, built in 1914
2 St. Mary’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church
3 Windhoek is one of the cleanest places in Africa
4 Town Square Shopping Centre provides shoppers with convenience and value for money
How can you say you have seen it all when you have not made a turn at the Parliament of Namibia, which was built between 1912 and 1913? Somewhat similar to the impressive gardens of the neighbouring country of South Africa’s Union Buildings, the Parliament Gardens are nothing short of magnificent to behold. There is also always an opportunity to go for a stroll at the landscaped Zoo Park, see children playing on the playground and maybe secretly toss a coin in the pond. You might even be fortunate enough to catch a show in the open-air theatre. September-October 2015
The list of attraction sites, eating places and things to do is long, but can be summarised by a quick visit to Windhoek If you are into buildings and architecture, then Christuskirche, a Lutheran church opened in 1910 is your site to behold. It was built in the gothic revival style with Art Nouveau components. St. Marien Kathedrale is also a splendour for the eyes. There are even three castles built by architect Wilhelm Sander: Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, and Schwerinsburg. One can go on and on about the Windhoek Public Library and Windhoek Railway Station as they also offer one the opportunity to engage with present life on the move.
5 Windhoek city at night
6 Ideal destination to relax
7 An apartment in Namibia
The list of attraction sites, eating places and things to do is long, but can be summarised by a quick visit to Windhoek. Go ahead and see for yourself what so many African celebrities are raving about. Tip, while there, put on your best smile because you never know who you might meet around the corner. Words: Phindiwe Nkosi
It’s not just about
Yes, the ‘big five’ -- lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo -appear intriguing if gaped at from a jeep, but there is much more to explore in South Africa
outh Africa, with its vast coastline, has the reputation of being called the adventure capital of the world. There is so much to do in this country that a person needs several visits just to scratch the surface. If you’ve had your fill of animal sanctuary outings here, going for some more value-additions, like beach hopping and adventure rides, shouldn’t be the ‘only’ agenda of your Africa trip. Yes, they are a must while you visit this country, but there is much more to explore in this part of the world. European hangover Being colonised by the Dutch and British in the past, nearly half of its cities here have Dutch names (Johannesburg, Bloemfontein etc). Cape Town, which has hitherto served as the interim port for European ships to Asia, flaunts distinctive Amsterdam-esque architecture. The rainbow nation is also home to a large number of wineries, thanks to the fine weather and a historic location on the ‘wine route’. Finding an Irish bar or a French-styled cafe also won’t take too much of your time. Cape Town will leave you sleepless Arguably the most lively harbour city in the world, Cape Town is vibrant and colourful. Greenmarket Square is home to a popular flea market selling beautifully crafted artefacts from around the continent. This place can give a wonderful start to the morning before exploring other sights Cape Town has to offer. Robben island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, its picturesque vineyard drives and of course Table Mountain, SA’s contender for the New Seven Wonders, is sure to catch your rest of the day time attention. However, stay up and you’ll find that Cape Town’s nightlife appetite is enormous. Dozens of pubs and lounges on Long Street throb with revellers from across the world and the alcohol, coffee and an uber-friendly vibe keep flowing till sunrise. There are always events and parties happening around the city, especially during the summer season, so make sure you attend any of the events on offer.
1 Beach houses in Cape Town
2 Boulders Beach 3 Carnivore restaurant
WhatĂ•s more Amateurs can ride an ostrich in Oudtshoorn, in the Karoo Take a hike to the Wild Coast, one of the most beautiful coastlines on earth Dive with Great White Sharks in Gansbaai, two hours drive from Cape Town.
Be a gold-digger for a day The city Johannesburg still considers mining as serious business, thanks to a gold-rush in the 1880s. And it is at one of its significant mines -- the Gold Reef City -- that visitors can get a feel of being a miner. The theme parkâ€™s gold mine tour takes you several metres down a shaft into a dark, humid gold mine, and gives you a crash course on the risky business of extracting yellow life out of an ore. In between feel the cold air and touch the rough rock that holds the wealth of a nation. September-October 2015
It’s forbidden to touch the penguins, or feed them at Boulders Beach, just watch them from a distance Eat an ostrich/crocodile/zebra Game meat, specifically hunted and delicately prepared, is a unique local treat one must try in South Africa (of course if his heart allows). The common ones are ‘biltong’ (cured beef/ ostrich meat, spiced and dried) and the springbok (antelope). However, if you want adrenaline rushes at the dining table, try the smoked crocodile meat, charcoal-grilled zebra or the kudu. While stuff such as ostrich membrane/knuckles is sold at malls, the wilder varieties are to be tried at restaurants such as ‘Carnivore’ in Jo’burg. Play with penguins If you think you need to go to Antartica or New Zealand to watch and play with these majestic sea beauties, South Africa will surely give you a shock. They may be called the jackass penguin owing to its bray, but the
AMAZING FACTS outh Africa is S extremely rich in minerals and considered the world’s leader with nearly 90% of all the platinum metals on earth. outh Africa is S the second largest fruit producers in the entire world.
he Karoo region T in the Western Cape is home to some of the best fossils of early dinosaurs.
African penguin at Boulders Beach near Cape Town will be a charming experience. This colony of two-three feet long black-and-white beauties is on a spectacular beach. It’s forbidden to touch the penguins, or feed them, but it’s easy to stand just a few feet away from them. These are wild penguins, and they can get quite grumpy especially when protecting their eggs.
4 Cape Town bus tour is the best to experience the city e a gold digger at 5B Gold Reef nown for its 6K brightly coloured houses, Bo-Kaap is the spiritual home of the Cape’s Muslim community
They love Beer and Sport As apparent from the stands in any match in Centurion or Newlands, the South Africans love their golden brew as much as they love sports. While many ‘shebeens’ (traditional taverns) have given away to plush bars, the locals continue to down ‘Castle’ and enjoy the match together. In fact, beer aficionados might consider it criminal to miss the exquisite audiovisual tour of the history of the drink and sample the world’s dishiest brews at SA Breweries’ World of Beer, the coolest museum of Jo’burg. Words: Abhiraj Chakraborty
The 2,600-km-long Wild Atlantic Way, one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world, passes through picturesque towns, stunning countrysides and opulent waters. Magic, adventure and a bit of history are complimentary
DonĂ•t miss Visit Farrens Bar and enjoy a relaxing drink and a warm welcome Achill island is home to 5 blue flag beaches, walking tours and country pubs Cliffs of Moher is Irelandâ€™s most visited natural attraction
ne of the wildest, most enchanting and culturally rich coastal touring routes in the world. No wonder when you travel along the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll find magic, adventure, history and beauty in abundance. Let’s start with a little background on the route. The Wild Atlantic Way, 2,600 km (about 1,600 miles) in length, is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world. It winds its way all along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork, in the south. This route from start to finish unfolds the wonders of nature, the power of the ocean and its imprint on the west coast of Ireland, and the stunning countryside in all its diversity. The route gives you enough opportunities to get out on the water, ride horses on the beach, spot whales, explore legends, cycle the seaside and walk through eons of history. Explore Ruins on Coney Island: Sligo There’s a lot to explore on the secluded Coney Island. It offers a relaxing retreat for families and individuals alike where they can amble around the island, take the scenic walk past the lighthouse, stroll across to the secluded beach, picnic on the front of the island or visit the pub with garden to the side. St. Patrick is said to have bestowed the island with a stone wishing chair so magical you could only use it once a year. The island strategically guards Sligo Bay and features dunes, loads of wild rabbits, and one pub—McGowans— licensed to sell alcohol since 1836.
1 Small cars are always the best
2 The route is full of extraordinary sights
3 The roads are curvy and dangerous
Hire a bike: Co Clifden You can hire a bike in Connemara’s largest town, Clifden, and set out on one of the area’s cycle routes, which brings you through the town of Derrigimlagh on quiet country roads. Your journey will take you by the blanket bog, a stunning mosaic of tiny lakes and peat, where you can stop and view two sites of international historical significance. First, you’ll pass the scattered remnants of the world’s first permanent transatlantic radio station. It was built more than a century ago by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi
TRAVEL TIPS 2 3
and transmitted the first transatlantic radio signal in 1907. At its peak, the station employed several hundred people who helped transmit news across the ocean. It burned to the ground during the Irish War of Independence, but you can still view the vast site where many foundations of the buildings and workers’ houses remain. Nearby you’ll also come across a white memorial in the shape of an aeroplane wing, which pays tribute to John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown. In 1919, Alcock and Brown were the first pilots to fly nonstop across the Atlantic, before they crash-landed (safely) in Derrigimlagh Bog. CLIFFS OF MOHER: CO CLARE The iconic Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most visited natural attractions. Stretching for 8 km along the Atlantic coast of Clare, the cliffs reach 214m at their highest point at Knockardakin. Midway along the cliffs you’ll find the environmental friendly visitor centre set into the hillside. Here, you can also discover O’Brien’s Tower, a 19th century viewing tower, and access 800m of protected cliff side pathways with viewing areas. There are many vantage points from which to admire the awe-inspiring Cliffs of
Though Ireland tourism website has the route outlines from North to South, go from South to North as this will give a better view of the ocean. riving in Ireland D is on the left hand side of the road. ost people M think of Ireland as being a small country, but remember, the Wild Atlantic Way is 2750 km in length. So have enough time in hand for a perfect experience. oads are narrow, R so don’t rent a large 4X4 truck. Rent a medium sized sedan for comfort.. he Wild Atlantic T Way food choices can range from budget to five star. It depends on what you want to spend.
Fun Filled Cruise to the island stronghold of a pirate queen See marine life in the waters around Dingle, Kerry Go whale-watching in West Cork. Hear the bird chorus by Kayak, Cork
Moher. From the main platform, you can see the south cliffs towards Hag’s Head, a natural rocky promontory that resembles a seated woman. Walk, swim, fish: co donegal Rugged yet inviting, County Donegal’s Malin Head offers activities like walking, fishing, swimming and bird watching. Here, north of Trawbreaga Bay, you can view the Five Finger Strand, which is home to some of Europe’s largest sand dunes. At low tide, you can even spot the wreckage of the ‘Twilight’, which sank in 1889 while sailing to Derry. Travel tips Car hire companies are generally based in airports or ferry ports or the city centre. In Ireland, the majority of rental cars will be standard shift (not automatic). However, there are automatic cars available. Should you require one, book well in advance of travel to avoid disappointments.
It is often said that Ireland can experience four seasons in one day, so it is essential to pack with this is mind. Petrol stations can be few and far between in rural areas with almost none of them offering 24/7 service. It is a good idea to refill once your tank is half empty. However, not all gas stations accept credit cards.
4 Skellig Islands 5 Dunmore beach
Words: Manna Dey
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Land of the
Regarded as the place to see leopards in Africa, South Luangwa offers incredible walking safari and an overall level of guiding regarded as the very best
estled in the valley of the Luangwa River, an intricate ecosystem thrives with no concern for the modern world of mankind. Here, only a few dirt roads intrude upon the otherwise untouched wild. The spirit of Africa hums through every blade of grass, beckoning every lover of animals and beauty, every seeker of natural peace, to come and embrace paradise found and preserved. Welcome to the South Luangwa National Park. Here I will talk about my trip to the park, which I call an ‘experience to remember’. The Start It begun as a game reserve in 1938, the South Luangwa National Park became an official national park in 1972. Lying at the tail end of the Great Rift Valley, this is Zambia’s finest big-game stronghold: 3,500 square miles of woodlands and floodplains heaving with 60 kinds of mammals, including elephants, buffalo, lions, Thornicroft Giraffe and Crawshay’s Zebra and the elusive majesty of the leopard. Compared to Kafue and Lower Zambezi, it is more developed in terms of number of camps, but that is all relative as the camps are thinly spread over a massive area. This is also the birthplace of the walking safari, pioneered by legendary guides and conservationists Norman Carr and Robin Pope. 1 2
1 Leopards roam without any fear inside the park
2 Listen to your guide while inside the park
action Located just over an hour’s flight north of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, the safaris at South Luangwa begin at Mfuwe International Airport. Here you’ll first be greeted and then transferred to your lodge/camp, most of which are about 30-45 minute drive away. The park is bordered in the east for most of its length by the Luangwa River and most camps are found near the river, either just outside the park on the river or on the eastern side inside the reserve. Options for accommodations in South Luangwa have grown in recent years and most people prefer to stay in the park, which allows for deeper explorations into the park. Though the park remains open most part of the year, August-October is the best time to be there.
Walking safaris In South Luangwa, it really is all about the walking safari experience. And I bet, there is nothing like beginning the day on a walk in Africa -- the chill of the morning air; the sweet, earthy smell of the 4
WHY THIS? outh Luangwa is S regarded by many as the leopard capital of Africa. his park allows T night drives – a huge advantage to view this largely nocturnal cat. The Luangwa is one of the least-visited parks where safaris are organised on a regular basis.
3 Begin your day early to make the most of a safari
4 Accommodation is not a problem here
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Leopards here walk past vehicles without a hint of hesitation or pause and even hunt in broad daylight bush; the morning sun glinting off the dewy grass. While a game drive is about those exciting moments of adrenaline while searching for big game, a walking safari is focused on the small things and simply soaking in the sensual nature of being on foot in the bush.
5 Early mornings are the best time for leopard sightings
6 Tafika Lodge 7 Zebras too can be found easily
These early mornings are my favourite part of the day when the air is still cool. This is an ideal time for a walking safari, too, where the infamously reclusive big cats can be readily seen lounging in the trees or lurking in the bush. My guide tells me that the leopards that call South Luangwa National Park their home are not shy. â€œHere the leopards rule,â€? he says. While all over the world, natural habitats are more and more invaded by people forcing them to adapt or die, in South Luangwa, the leopards walk past vehicles without a hint of hesitation or pause and even hunt in broad daylight. Best viewing experience It was my last evening and I was reluctant to leave. However, the drive out was perhaps the best of the trip, with something interesting to look at around every turn.
Insider tips Bring good-quality binoculars, a camera and a head torch Dress in layers for chilly morning and evening game drives Bring decent walking boots with thorn-proof soles.
One of the best things in the park was that it allowed night safaris, an essential activity to maximise the chance of seeing these cats. While caught up in the drama of a clash between two African wild dogs, we got a shock when we suddenly spotted a hyena lying on the track ahead. We pulled up and trained our binoculars on it. “Why’s it hanging out there?” I asked. The hyena stared back at us, before dragging itself up and reluctantly moving a few yards into the long grass. “There’s another hyena there too,” pointed out my young guide. “Spotted hyenas have good hearing and sharp eyesight at night. There’s a very good chance there is a leopard here with a kill.” As we scoured the trees with our binoculars, to huge excitement, we saw in a tree just 20m or so away, was a beautiful leopard, her front legs resting on top of a freshly killed impala. “This was a typical case of an impala standing under a sausage tree, eating the flowers that had fallen to the ground, and the leopard jumping on top of it,” said the guide. “Impalas go crazy for the flowers, and while their eyes can see nearly all the way round, they can’t see above them.” Time stood still as the leopard stared back at us. She then gracefully made her way down the tree and into a clump of long grass, stopping to turn her head back to us. We left her, so that she could return to her meal. Words: Abhiraj Chakraborty
the smart way
A stroll on the streets of Nairobi is bound to find several streets lined with shops selling a wide selection of gifts and other memorabilia to crown your safari experience
trip to Kenya can offer you more than just memories of a safari. Here you can find a wide range of local products that make ideal souvenirs or gifts. And the best past -- these products are as diverse and unique as the country itself. From traditional artifacts, jewellery, beautiful carvings, best coffee, precious stones, furniture to excellent local music, wonderful modern art there is so much more to be found. Nairobi, often referred as the safari capital of Africa, is a perfect place to combine your safari and shopping experience. Nairobi is a place of great contrasts where diverse cultures become components of a unique Nairobi character. The city also hosts several separate open markets on various locations around the city commonly where bargaining is the key. Excellent, well stocked gift shops can also be found in many hotels, lodges and camps throughout the country. But if you are someone who is looking for some real antique finds, you have to dig a little further than the beaten track. Kenyaâ€™s markets, selling all kinds of local arts and crafts, are all over the country.
A busy mall in Nairobi
Diverse options There are endless shopping options in Kenya. All the major streets in Mombasa have numerous souvenir shops and galleries, and trader stalls are abundant on Moi Avenue and Nyerere Street. Tribal beads and bracelets are predominant and will be presented to you for purchase almost anywhere you go. Soapstone from western Kenya has been carved into an infinite variety of souvenirs and can be acquired at a very affordable price. Wood carvings September-October 2015
One of the great experiences for safari-goers in Kenya is a visit to the rotational Maasai Market are economical and are easily found in every animal shape as well as salad servers and napkin rings. Lamu is an ideal place to shop for well priced coastal handicrafts. Lamu is famous for its woodcarvers, whose specialties include the famous carved lamu doors, furniture, signboards and Swahili boxes, intricately carved and inlaid with brass, copper or marble work. Maasai Market offers a range of colourful African artifacts such as baskets, musks, bangles, earrings and bead necklaces, wood carvings, T-shirts, safari hat etc. You can buy all your souveniers and gifts in one-go, but get ready for some serious bargaining. A quick enquiry from your hotel or tour agent can reveal where these rotational markets are held and on which days.
1 The rotational Maasai Market uty free shops in 2D Nairobi Airport 3 Westgate Mall reopened recently
4 Market selling local arts and crafts
Convenient locations Nairobi has an endless and colourful array of shopping malls and markets with plenty on offer for the visitor. Diamond Plaza, The Junction, Adams Arcade, The Village Market, the Spinnerâ€™s Web, Diani Beach shopping centre, Yaya Centre are some that can be visited any time of the year. If you are fond of duty free shopping, head to the Nairobi Airport. It hosts a wide range of stores. There
are African clothes shops, jewellery shop, book shop, fashion shops and liquor shops, cosmetics, toiletries, gift items and much more. Amarula Fruit Cream Liqueur, distilled from the fermented fruit of the Marula tree, a native of the African plains is also very famous in Kenya. The spirit is aged for three years, and then blended with cream. If you like Bailey’s you should give this a try. And the favourite tusker beer. Kazuri Beads Located on part of the farm once owned by Karen Blixen of ‘Out of Africa’ fame, at the base of the Ngong Hills is Kazuri Beads. Kazuri, which is Swahili for small and beautiful, has perfected the art of using clay as a medium for making of beads, finished jewellery, tableware and pottery. Every bead is shaped by hand by one of the 300 local women employed at Kazuri. The beads are then kiln fired once, glazed and fired again before being strung. To add to the overall shopping experience visitors to the workshop in Nairobi can take a guided tour of the factory to see the work that goes into producing these unique beads. Words: Manna Dey
Living in these
coffee cities Only a few cities across the globe have managed to make coffee a major selling point
afes today are not just a place to get a warm drink. It has emerged as a place where culture and conversation meet for locals and visitors alike. However, only a few cities across the globe have managed to make coffee a major selling point. Though each city has its own way of defining its coffee culture -- whether it be by their classic drink style or by the sheer concentration of independently owned coffee houses -- these five cities have one thing in common: they are filled with people who live for the craft of coffee. Melbourne “The coffee culture in Melbourne is just incredible. Tourists love Melbourne because our coffee and cafe culture is a part of our lives and is a very unique thing to Melbourne,” says Jimmy Turner, proud owner of a cafe shop in the city. “Coffee itself is more than a commodity for people in Melbourne. It is an event. It is a simple beverage that you can mix with other ingredients,” he adds. Cold drips, aero-press, cupping and syphon are common words in the local vernacular thanks to a widespread passion for the bean, complemented by a number of leading coffee aficionado who call Melbourne home. Coffee is such an integral part of the Melbourne lifestyle that the city even hosts an annual coffee expo. Our recommendation: Located in a refurbished warehouse in the lovely inner-city suburb of Abbotsford, Three Bags Full serves rich, creamy coffee in a charming space. Its finest offering is its gourmet coffee range, including Aeropress September-October 2015
Coffee is so much a part of Italian culture that you’ll rarely encounter a local who doesn’t drink it and pour over methods. If you’re in the mood to branch out with your coffee choices, Three Bags Full is the place to do it.
1 A coffee house in Melbourne, Australia 2 Cafe in Rome, Italy offee served in 3C Iceland’s Reykjavik Mokka
4 Three Bags Full is one of the finest cafes in Melbourne
Iceland After the Dutch, Scandinavians have the highest coffee consumption per capita in the world. While Finns drink the most among Scandinavians, Icelanders are also coffee crazy. Earlier, lack of commercial coffee behemoths gave smaller businesses a chance to flourish in Iceland. Today you can hardly walk a city block without passing a coffee shop. Our recommendation: Mokka coffeehouse in Reykjavik Mokka is historically the most significant coffeehouse in the country. In 1958, Guðmundur Baldvinsson and Guðný Guðjónsdóttir opened their doors, serving the first espressos to a population
At a glance The first coffee house in the world opened in Arabia in the 16th century A coffee plant can live for between 60 and 70 years The largest coffee beans are found in Nicaragua.
who until then had only tasted brewed coffee. Soon, it became the place to be for artists, writers and philosophers looking for a good cup and a place to ponder and discuss ideas. 2 4
Rome It would be fair to say that Italians are passionate about coffee. So much so that you would think they had discovered it. But they didn’t. To make up for this, however, they have invented a coffee culture unequalled anywhere else in the world. Coffee is so much a part of Italian culture that you’ll rarely encounter a local who doesn’t drink it. But believe it or not, it’s not always that easy to find a decent espresso in Italy, with critics whispering that Italians have been resistant to adopt modern barista techniques. But with the best of the nation’s baristas calling it home, Rome is your best bet for a quality cup. Our recommendation: Romans like their coffee fast, strong and burning hot. Caffè Sant’Eustachio, the historic coffee shop, is named for a Christian convert and martyr, tops the list of nearly every Roman coffee drinker. Founded in 1938, they continue the tradition of serving excellent coffee, often from organic and fair trade growers. Taipei In Taipei, young people don’t hang out at bars; they hang at cafes. Taipei is a city that has coffee steeped into its national heritage and sense of September-October 2015
Coffee facts he volume of T coffee beans imported from around the globe through the Port of Melbourne has increased by around 780 per cent over the last decade! veryday, on an E average, the Port of Melbourne handles 30 tonnes of coffee beans. This makes the equivalent of three million cups of coffee each day – that’s enough to give every metropolitan Melburnian a daily coffee fix. he number of T places labelled “bar” in your average Italian city would make you think all Italians have a drinking problem. They do: a coffee drinking problem! That’s because a ‘bar’ is actually what we would call a ‘cafe’.
5 A coffee bar in Italy 6 Thailand is also fast developing a coffee culture offee served in 7C Rome, Italy
8 A cafe in Taipei
identity. However, it was not the same story halfa-century ago, coffee was seen as an international product nearly impossible to acquire in Taiwan. Even as the first coffee shops started to emerge, they brought with them the stigma that drinking coffee was something for the rich and trendy. However, by 2010 the number of imported beans was just short of 18,000 tons. And today you won’t have trouble finding a coffee shop to rest your legs and refuel in this walking city. Rumour has it there are hundreds of spots to choose from. Our recommendation: Rufous Coffee is one of the favourite coffee haunts for the city’s caféhoppers. The café is typically packed with students given its proximity to the National Taiwan University but the wait is softened by a few chairs outside. Bangkok Thailand is not the place that props up when considering which Asian capitals serve up the best cups of coffee, but the city of over six million, which
welcomes more tourists than almost any other city in the world, is also beginning to welcome coffee -- and refine its brewing skills that rival its northern neighbour, Chiang Mai. While the Thai city, located in the “bean belt”, the tropical geographic region blessed with climates hospitable to growing coffee, has previously iced and sugared and creamed its coffee into barely recognisable oblivion, a more-refined coffee culture is growing rapidly: coffee rockstars, most located in Sukhumvit, include Ceresia Coffee Roasters, Kuppa, and Casa Lapin, among others. Our recommendation: Roots, a boutique roaster in the capital and cousin to the café Roast (they share the same owner), trains baristas and serves as an epicentre for the growing coffee scene. Words: Abhishek Chakraborty
Ready for a smooth ride? With its quirky styling and low prices, the Citroen C4 Cactus stands out from the crowd
f a small French car doesn’t absolutely need it, the Cactus won’t have it. But the one thing that every small French car needs to do is stand out -- and the Cactus certainly does that. Supermini underpinnings were chosen because they’re robust, cheap and, most important, light. Citroën claims that this car would have been 200kg heavier if it had been built on the larger platform. Although the plastic body cladding and wheel arch protectors suggest otherwise, four-wheel drive isn’t offered. There are some interesting design features worthy of note, outside of the prominent airbumps on the bodywork. For example, you might note that the glovebox inside the Citroën C4 Cactus is much more practical than a normal one.
The panoramic sunroof has advanced heat protection, which keeps warmth in and UV rays out Interior Wonder why we don’t see storage solutions like this more widely – it’s because a car’s passenger airbag normally gets in the way. But the Cactus is the first commercial application of a roof-mounted airbag, making space across the whole of the dashboard, on both driver and passenger sides. Developed and supplied by TRW, the ‘bag in roof’ is fitted for both of the Cactus’ front seats. Mounted just under the headlining of the car immediately aft of the windscreen, the bag fills the gap between the glass and occupant completely as it inflates, acting as a better restraint than a normal airbag. It also makes the dashboard easier to develop as well as smaller and thinner. Even if you don’t like much the styling of Citroën C4 Cactus, you’ll forgive the car largely because it seems to have been designed from the inside out. September-October 2015
Engine options for the Cactus comprise 91bhp and 99bhp 1.6-litre diesels, and 74bhp, 81bhp and 108bhp 1.2-litre petrols You get an unmistakable sense of that from the driver’s seat, which is wide and comfortable for such a small car. Head and elbow room are generous and there’s great forward visibility. The dashboard in front of you is low and, rather than looking sparse or bare, has plenty of interesting design features and ritzy touches to occupy your attention. Performance Engine options for the Cactus comprise 91 bhp and 99 bhp 1.6-litre diesels, as well as 74 bhp, 81 bhp and 108 bhp 1.2-litre petrols. The 1.6-litre turbodiesel is the more powerful one that nabs our attention. Both are offered with five-speed manual gearboxes as standard, rather than a six-speeder, but we’ve no qualms with that if the ratios are spread evenly and make for a decent, relaxed cruise. This engine has a generally relaxed, refined, nature even at higher revs, but there’s little to be gained by revving it out, because most of its good work is done in the mid-range.
The other hindrance is the gearshift, which is sometimes obstructively notchy and matched to a clutch with a cumbersome take-up. Both plan to trim down from the otherwise easy-going nature of the powertrain. Put against the clock, the Cactus can reach 96kmph in a reasonable 11.8sec, but to make that kind of progress, you do have to shoulder the burden and work that gearbox. A six-speed robotised manual gearbox is available on 1.2 VTi 82 and 1.6 e-HDI models but experience says, unless you need an automatic, you’d be best off with the conventional manual transmission. The traction and stability control systems are pretty well judged. Some of the more sudden body movements that you get from aggressive braking and steering inputs -- like the sort you’d apply in an
emergency -- get the light flicking and the sensors acting quite quickly. Do that and understeer is quelled relatively swiftly, and oversteer doesn’t really get a look in at all. Driven more smoothly, it’s possible to approach the Cactus’ limits with less intervention. It’s actually more capable this way, too, stopping more confidently and quickly than if you’re harsh on the controls, but that’s almost unavoidable regardless of your ABS program. Overall The Cactus takes some beating on CO2 emissions, though, and it’s generously equipped, with mid-range models getting that touchscreen interface, DAB radio, cruise control and parking sensors as standard features. Fuel economy is good -- at times excellent. Drive this car modestly and 25 kpl is easily achievable.
Cactus sees the French manufacturer take a back-to-basics approach -- a car that’s quirky, affordable and different It’s cleverly conceived, distinctive to look at on the outside and intelligently designed on the inside. If only, it were a bit more pleasing to drive, the gearshift, the clutch action, the steering, the damping… all could be improved. Still, above all, we crave cars that are interesting, even if they are flawed -- and the C4 Cactus is certainly interesting. Words: Anirudh Vohra
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Published on Oct 12, 2015
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