Ed’s Letter: a good traveller chooses the right tools

Posted by A on 20 November 2017

My father’s binoculars were Atlases from Japan. They were big and black and heavy, 10×50, and they sat on top of a book shelf of weighty tomes that had changed the world. The binocs changed the world, too.

In the distance, what seemed like a rock in the veld would be revealed as a stately kudu with a splendid crown of horns, an African paradise flycatcher would turn into a punk teenager with iridescent blue eyeliner and lipstick.

We’d sit on the stoep for hours to watch the soapie of puffed up, acid-yellow male weavers sweat over intricate nests, only to have the females inspect them and turn their backs with cool indifference. I loved the feel of the binocular’s heavy body in my hands, and the magic of life it revealed when you twisted it into focus.

On a recent trip to Kenya’s Mara Naboisho Conservancy, our walking guide had a pair of Swarovskis; starting costs for these are around R13000. ‘Is it really worth it?’ I wondered aloud. I’d brought my trusty Nikons, priced around R2000, and they seemed good enough. He handed them over and I trained them on a lilac- breasted roller. Oh, the beauty! Yes, quality makes a difference, and there’s nowhere you see it as well as out in the field.

For us travellers, the right gear is important. A good backpack can make a hike that much easier if you have waist support, if your water is easily accessible, and it allows in cooling air behind the back. And hammocks look like a fabulous idea but are they really a practical option? And it’s good to test a stove out in the open air. So some of our team headed out to Silvermine Nature Reserve to unfold tents, pack them back up, lie down on mattresses, roll them back up, hang up the hammocks on any available trees and then lie in the bed we made, and, of course, we cooked breakfast on the stove.

The end result is 16 pages of reviews about 27 items that are new releases, cool ideas and interesting concepts. We tell you what we think of them on page 97. And if you choose to get something on our recommendation, the rest of this issue will tell you where you can to go to test them yourselves.

Enjoy your summer!


5 things to look out for in the December issue


Start off this issue with a giggle. Turn to page 56 and look at entries for the Wildlife Comedy Awards. You won’t regret it.



If you’re anything like me, holidays come around and any ideas of what to fill my days with fly out my head. Well, here are 50 great ones. See page 70.



The Tok Tokkie Trail is not new, but it’s such an incredible, and affordable, experience that we wanted to remind you of the magic that it offers. See page 62. You can also win four spots to do it!


This is simply one of the most terrific holiday destinations if you’re in, or visiting, the Western Cape. Go on, treat yourself to one of these seaside houses (page 44).



Each issue of Getaway has several inexpensive accommodation options for under R550 pp (some for less) that we think offer good value. We’ve marked these with a star


This month’s contributors

Nick Dall – Peru, page 86

Run-ins with stingrays and flesh-eating parasites, pickpockets and undercooked udders have done nothing to dampen Nick’s 12-year love affair with South America. In fact, they’re precisely why he’s so obsessed with the place. It follows that when he was invited, entirely out of the blue, to hike a remote section of Peru’s ancient Inca highway there was only ever going to be one response.

Welcome Lishivha – Jazz in Joburg, page 139

Welcome needs no reason or occasion to dance (he’s convinced that in his past life he was the lead dancer in some or other iconic band). In the office, he’s that person who’s always bobbing his head, swirling his chair or singing under his breath. When he’s not doing that, he’s soliciting playlist suggestions for his next road trip. For this issue, we sent him back to his student haunt (Braamfontein) and to meet jazz muso Thandi Ntuli.

Tyson Jopson – The Getaway 4×4 Guide to Lesotho, free with this issue

When he’s not on the road, Getaway’s Deputy Editor talks about being on the road, constantly. His rambling enumerations and high- pitched mewlings became so insufferable that we had no choice but to send him to Lesotho for close to a month. He came back with a 4×4 guide that will take you through the kinds of landscapes that’ll leave your mouth agape.

Chris Davies – Survival Guide, page 80

As a 10-year-old, Chris spent an instructive semester at Laerskool Skukuza in Kruger National Park. None of the instruction actually took place in class, but the bush lore he learnt in the veld after school has stayed with him his entire life. Or at least he wishes it had. Luckily refresher courses are available and none could have been more appropriate than this family-friendly survival weekend near McGregor.


Also find the 4X4 Guide to Lesotho, in association with Toyota, free with the December 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

Our December issue features the only 4X4 guide to Lesotho you’ll ever need, an incredible slackpacking adventure in Namibia, 50 ways to boost your summer holidays here in SA, 12 stays in Simon’s Town and a Mpumalanga road trip we like better than the Panorama Route. 


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