Pure off the Road

Pure of the Road is a Dutch writer/photography duo, specialized in travel, art, music (jazz), culture and nature. Henk Bothof and Angelique van Os write about their passions: pure traditional people, nature conservation projects, culture and off the road experiences. These experiences vary from remote areas, wildlife support to inside out metropolises and special accommodations.

We publish our work in different genres, varying from tips, reviews, interviews, reportages and personal notes.

If you are interested in our articles or other information, please contact us by e-mail: travel@pureofftheroad.com.

We also design travel concepts in cooperation with exclusive travel agents.

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Travel & Events 26 Aug 2019

7 game drive tips

For everyone who likes to go on a classic safari, some nice tips to make it an even better experience!  Cheers! Henk & Angelique  1.             Go out early in the morning before sunrise and the heat begins or just at the end of the day, when the predators will reappear. 2.             Be as quiet as possible and look closely at bushes and trees. These are good hiding places for felines. 3.             It obvious, but don't wear striking colored clothing. During a walking safari it is better not to wear white or black, because predators can                associate that with the tail or the buttocks of a prey. Or they see you as a competition. You'll be surprised when suddenly there's a lion behind                you. 4.             A huge cliché, but it happens too often that people are stubborn: always stay in the car! Unless your guide says it's safe to get out. As long                as you are in the car, a feline will not see you as a human being, but as part of an object. If you climb out of the car, then it becomes a                different story. 5.             In order to preserve as much as possible the experience and memory of the animals you have spotted, you can arrange for one to film and                the other to photograph. 6.             Before you start, immerse yourself in animal tracks. In this way, you can also participate in the 'game' along the way and you increase the                chance of success. 7.             Take your time: if you have found a leopard or cheetah, talk to your guide (and other travelers) to see if you can stay a bit longer. It is often                better to choose to see one animal (and family) than to see a little or nothing of everything. It is special to be able to observe animals up close                and the moment will soon be over. And even if they are found, waiting is worthwhile. Animals almost always move around and only then it can                become really interesting! 

Travel & Events 26 Aug 2019

part 3: paradisiacal botswana embraced by water

Despite the dry Kalahari desert, Botswana is one of the most fertile countries in Africa. This is mainly due to magical rivers such as the Chobe, Linyanti and Zambezi and the unique wet landscape of the famous Okavan Modelta. This combination results in a rich ecosystem, in which nature uses its own 'water engineers'. Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Henk Bothof  Peaceful solutionsWe continue talking about human versus wildlife conflicts in Botswana in the previous part I and II. The dosed shooting of elephants by professionals of the dikskins around problem areas is not a solution, we hear from different sources. This means that a completely healthy family will die, including pregnant heifers and young and baby elephants. An elephant is known for its good memory and can mourn for days when a family member dies. And chances are they will return to the same places. Hopefully there will be more peaceful solutions, which will have a long-term effect. There are success stories, for example, that the animals are kept away with beehives. And there are several international universities and organizations that study the forms of elephant migration. Arnold Tshipa has been investigating the migration and movement of 32 elephants around Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) for Wilderness for a number of years. Some of them wear a gps-tracking band. In a nutshell, it can be seen that there are animals that barely move around, there are herds that travel short distances and there were eight elephants that crossed the border at Botswana. The migrations are important for the distribution of the families, which can cause the animals to settle in neighbouring countries. Arnold: "It is essential that the elephants are able to move around the major rivers and along the corridors. We will discuss this with politicians in order to stimulate this approach. And if we have more knowledge about why elephants migrate - apart from the dry versus wet season - then we might as well lead them to similar areas where they feel at home. The downside is that such research and the movement of elephants is a very expensive affair and governments must be prepared to give up land so that they can receive elephants."  Finally, education also plays an important role in the future of elephants, as well as other endangered species such as big cats and the African Wild Dog, which are also the inhabited world crosses. According to Sue Goatley of Children of the Wilderness, education is a key role. Sue has been working in the field as a teacher and school principal for many years and coordinates school projects in the Zambezi region. She is involved in the Wilderness Eco-clubs, which have 18 primary schools. For each school, thirty pupils follow a special nature conservation program for four years. Sue: "Children under the age of twelve are sponges and with the right guidance they can absorb a lot of knowledge, such as how best to deal with wild animals in their environment. The great thing is that pupils not only pass on knowledge to each other, but also to their family members. The children convince their parents or warn them not to kill animals, but they can act in other ways when there is danger. And that they can even - with increasing tourism - take advantage of it."       Small water lifeThe daily problems are hardly visible during our trip. But it keeps us constantly busy, because nature has to fight hard for its existence. When we drive with Robert through the northern flanks of the delta, in the Kwedi concession, again the peaceful silence is overwhelming. The vastness. And every time the surprise. Also for Rob as a researcher: "This is such a unique area. It continues to amaze me. Recently I discovered a new species of dragonfly and lastly near the lodge, Vumbura Plains, a new carnivorous plant species that seems to come from the Congo River. Certainly the varied little water life that takes place here fascinates me." And that's what we see when we get into a mokoro. This traditional hollowed out tree trunk has traditionally served as the main means of transport in the delta. In the meantime, the wooden examples have been replaced by durable, light fiberglass canoes. The helmsman uses a long stick to move the boat. We glide criss-cross between the high reed and along countless papyruses. From the water level we see small insects flying by, frogs jumping off leaves and small kingfishers taking a dive. The shallow water is clear and warm to the touch. I doze away a bit and think back to all the impressive experiences of this trip. To the many elephant families I have been able to observe and to their uncertain future. The three little ones of only a few months old who greeted each other, the clown of the family, who gave a show with a stick and then got tangled up with his trunk. And the caring mothers who kept an eye on things in the background. I can't get enough of it. Nor of this paradisiacal landscape and its inhabitants, in which the power of water, the source of life, is all-encompassing. BACKGROUND Wilderness SafarisWilderness Safaris is one of the few organizations in Botswana that has the means to rent or lease a number of concessions from the government. The exclusivity is not only in the really beautifully decorated, luxurious tents and lodges, which are often equipped with natural materials and perfectly fit in with the vast landscape. It's all about the overall picture. The location at the waterfront is breathtaking at all four camps we visited -Toka Leya (Zambia), DumaTau, Quoroke and Vumbura Plains-. The friendliness, service and knowledge of the local staff deserves a compliment. The healthy local products are a party and finally the daily activities are varied and the knowledge of the rangers is always astonishing. In order to minimise the impact of tourism, Wilderness only uses solar panels, which also heat its own purified water. This water comes from the rivers and the swamp. To this end, Wilderness employs managers who apply as clean ecosystems as possible. The cars and their own planes do have an impact, of course, but they are necessary to get around in this country. Wilderness compensates their CO2 emissions by planting new forests. Furthermore, with their impressive contributions from the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, which has been in existence since the end of the 1980s, they want to make the difference in sustainable tourism. The trust focuses on nature conservation, research, education, running their own anti-poaching management and supports and involves local communities in their projects. There are dozens of projects that the Trust makes possible. But the relationship is symbiotic: without tourism there is no trust and therefore no conservation. Finally, the non-profit organization Children in the Wilderness has an important role to play, with a focus on various educational projects. More information: wilderness-safaris.comREAD ALSO OUR OTHER BLOGS ABOUT BOTSWANA

Travel & Events 26 Aug 2019

part 2: paradisiacal botswana embraced by water

Despite the dry Kalahari desert, Botswana is one of the most fertile countries in Africa. This is mainly due to magical rivers such as the Chobe, Linyanti and Zambezi and the unique wet landscape of the famous Okavango Delta. This combination results in a rich ecosystem, in which nature uses its own 'water engineers'.  Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Henk Bothof Geological wonderWe move on to the southeast of the Okavango Delta, to Qorokwe, a camp that lies under the vast Moremi Game Reserve. From the air the total area of roughly 15,000 km2, filled with canals, lagoons, swamps, reed collars and islets looks spectacular. Nowhere are asphalt roads, no electricity poles, no light pollution. Nothing but wilderness, in which earthly colors alternate. I feel very insignificant in this great country, but also happy: that I can enjoy this geological miracle.   The world's largest inland delta, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, borders the Kalahari Desert to the northwest. The original water source can be found some 1600 kilometers upstream in the Angolan highlands. From here, countless streams and smaller rivers in the catchment area of the two main tributaries of the Okavango - the Cubango and Cuito - are fed by summer rains that fall between October and April. Between December and March the rain peak occurs, allowing the water level to rise up to two meters and the delta to expand. In the dry season, the marshland landscape decreases. However, the delta is supplied with water throughout the year, so that the migration of animals to this area is high. Due to weaknesses in the earth's crust, formed by tectonic shifts along the Eastern African Rift Valley, the Okavango River was split millions of years ago from the Kwando and the Zambezi and therefore does not flow to the sea anywhere. Instead, the water disappears into the desolate Kalahari Desert after its fanning out. The current funnel-shaped delta was created as a result of a series of fault lines and a tectonic impoundment, such as near the town of Maun, where the watercourse was closed off. It can take four to six months for the water to flow through a large estuary throughout the delta, feeding the seasonal marshes.  AuthenticityOpinions are divided as to the extent to which the delta has changed in recent decades. Ecologist Robert Taylor specializes in wetland studies and is a botanist. He has been working for five years on various projects within Wilderness, such as a successful rhino reintegration project. Taylor indicates that the delta has largely retained its authenticity. A visible change is that the clear water becomes darker. This may be due to the increasing number of forest fires, where peat, for example, ends up in the water and attacks the soil and plants. "There is much debate among researchers about the extent to which the delta is formed from fire; that it is part of the natural balance. Others claim that increasing fires have a negative impact on water and that this is a development of recent years. In my opinion, too little research has been done into the impact of fire on the delta's ecosystem. In addition, 50 years ago there were hardly any elephants to be found here. Now there are many of them and their presence is visible in the landscape. There are many fallen and bare trees that do not survive. But it is a dynamic system. We can't agree that because there used to be forests with tall trees, it should look like this." Water architectsThe elephant, as well as the hippopotamus and termites, also plays an important role in the landscape. These are the ecosystem engineers and water architects. Rob explains: "The termites, with their hills, create islands in the delta area. At high tide, their structures protrude above the surface of the water, allowing permanent vegetation to develop here. In wetlands, elephants and hippos can use their movements to open channels to allow water to flow. Thanks to this movement, complex networks of pathways through the wetlands are created, which ensures that there is a flow of water and that the areas remain accessible. IssueThe sparsely populated Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa, with counts exceeding 130,000 since 2018. The fact that the animals thrive here is often due to the remote rich wetlands, the diverse vegetation of open savannahs and forest and shrubs. In addition, the presence of humans is limited, especially in the protected, remote areas such as the Okavango Delta and the private concessions. Because the government allows an exclusively small-scale form of sustainable tourism, it is also a costly affair to visit the wildlife parks. However, the success of the elephant now takes such a refuge that it is a major problem outside the protected areas. For example, at the end of March AG Africa Geographic reported that more than 65% of Botswana's wildlife is located outside protected areas, in the Wildlife Management Areas (AMMs), demographically speaking. These are mainly pastoral and agricultural areas, where communities live along the border. Here, elephant herds regularly cause great damage to homes and destroy agricultural crops. Sometimes with fatal consequences for the inhabitants. It is a complex discussion about which the opinions and interests of nature organizations and conservationists, politicians and the local population differ widely. The problem goes beyond the elephant problem: it is a forerunner for more human-wildlife conflicts. This is possibly the greatest challenge for the future, not only for Botswana, but also for neighbouring countries and how they should deal with these issues. In 2014, the previous president, Ian Kaha, issued a hunting ban because of the low level of wildlife. Meanwhile, the current president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has lifted this ban since May of this year and it is legal again to hunt elephants. Worldwide, this leads to great resistance and with it, the poaching and 'pleasure hunting' that has been fought against so hard in recent years can once again celebrate victory. This is already visible in less protected areas, according to a recent report by the conservation organization Elephant Without Borders: in 2018 they identified four 'poachers' hot spots', where 87 carcasses of elephants had been found. They provided the sites with photographic evidence, ground surveys and had nine international elephant experts look at them. According to researcher Mike Chase and the BBC, the government denies the extent of this poaching and is trying to silence Chase. READ FURTHER IN PART 3!  

Travel & Events 26 Aug 2019

paradisiacal botswana embraced by hydropower

Despite the dry Kalahari desert, Botswana is one of the most fertile countries in Africa. This is mainly due to magical rivers such as the Chobe, Linyanti and Zambezi and the unique wet landscape of the famous Okavan Modelta. This combination results in a rich ecosystem, in which nature uses its own 'water engineers'. Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Henk Bothof A few meters from our safari tent, I hold my breath. Leaves rustle and branches break. Suddenly I see a big grey skin. I've never seen them so close before. Manager Anneri of the really beautiful and completely self-sufficient Wilderness DumaTau Camp, hasn't said that we should be on our guard, or we're already staring straight into the eyes of an elephant. The animal flaps its ears. Not because it feels threatened, but to regulate its moisture and temperature. "You should never turn around and run away when you see an elephant, because then he will come after you. Always let the animal pass by first. Or as now, we just have to wait until he's finished nibbling. Because as long as he keeps chewing on grass, there's nothing wrong", says Anneri calmly. We wait a few minutes for the elephant to turn around. But that doesn't happen. Anneri chuckles and finally she claps her hands. She doesn't like to chase away animals, because we are guests in their environment. But the safety of the guests is paramount. With some reluctance the animal disappears into the bushes and eats its lunch a little further on. The adrenaline slowly slides out of my body. Soon it turns out that this is one of the many grey colossus that we can admire up close. And there are many of them at the same time. A day later, for example, an impressive bull wanders around the reception and during a delicious boat lunch where we float along the Savute canal, we have to wait with mooring. An elephant swims along the quay and decides to go ashore right at the back of the luxury camp. DumaTau takes its name from 'the roar of the lion', but in this area it's without a doubt the large herds of elephants that make up the service here. These large 'parades' are not only to be found in this area, on the edge of the Linyanti swamp and the Ospray Lagoon. They are mainly found in and around the waters of the major rivers such as the adjacent Chobe and Kwando, the famous Okavango Delta and the extensive Chobe National Park. In addition to elephants, these watery ecosystems are also bursting with hippos, many bird species, crocodiles, antelopes, cat-like species and other wildlife that migrate to the water to drink. We are located in the untouched Africa of North Botswana. Where water systems can still flow largely unaffected and freely and where the diverse ecosystem not only depends on this rich area, but also makes an important contribution to its future.  Complex as a wholeThe rich water and river systems of North Botswana are closely interlinked, as well as with neighbouring countries. As a result, it forms a complex whole, with rivers flowing into each other and bearing a different name. The Savute canal starts in the Linyanti concession and ends in the Savuti marsh, which borders Chobe National Park. These are protected areas. The Linyanti concession covers an enormous area of 125,000 hectares and is supervised by Wilderness Safaris and its Wilderness Wildlife Trust. Wilderness Safaris is a large tour operator within Southern Africa and only has its own concessions. In Linyanti they have two other small-scale lodges besides DumaTau. The organization has been in existence for more than 35 years and presents excellent eco-safaris in the high segment.  VeinsThe Savute water comes from the Kwando-Linyanti river. This river originates in the highlands of Angola and undergoes several name changes on this route before forming a delta-law country on the border with Botswana and Namibia. To keep it 'clear': the Kwando River touches the Linyanti fault line and changes direction into the Linyanti River. Linyanti then turns into Chobe, which in turn flows into the Zambezi River near Kasane. Then there is the Selinda Canal, which connects the Okavango system with the Kwando-Linyantis system. In the event of a flooding of the systems, water enters the other network via the Selinda canal. And so all the veins are interconnected again.The fault lines and shifts of the rivers are clearly visible from the air, so that the change of vegetation (river, swamp, grassland, forest and savannah) also complement each other. Due to the intense presence of all this water, the game thrives in this part of Botswana. And the marshy areas are unsuitable and too remote for settlements. A positive result is that the game has more living space and is less threatened, especially in protected concessions such as Wilderness. Unspoilt natureBack to Linyanti. This fairy-tale area of 28,000 m2, situated at the edge of the fertile Okavango oasis, forms a dynamic color palette, with spectacular views over the lively water landscape. There is always movement. During several game drives we see elephants cooling down in the swamps and river. They splash and spray water with their trunks on top of each other, as if they shower together. The grey skins like to swim between a bed of white water lilies, which sparkles in the rising heat. Occasionally a few hippos take a beating. Like a submarine, they appear on the surface, keep a close eye on everything with its strong smell, only to disappear under water again a little later. Gallant and agile impalas spread in small groups in the high reed while jumping. They also seek shelter and refreshment, unaware that there may be a crocodile lurking. Or a leopard, because this devious cat can sneak silently around shallow water. We are very lucky, because a two year old male has been spotted, who is working away an old bite in a tree. The beautiful animal is luckily not impressed by our 4x4 jeep, and is slowly moving after his breakfast. The solitary leopard wanders in its dead field through the high grass and walks over a wooden bridge that the jeeps can cross. The cat screens the swamp for prey with his sharp vision. There is not much to see. On the other side he marks out his territory by a tree, and then, by a small detour through the forest, arrives at an open water spot again. Rttttssshhhh... Despite its speed, the beaten leopard sees its next bite - a lizard - shooting into the water. There is always boss above boss. The cat gives up and disappears into the bushes in search of cooling. I dare to breathe again, what a privilege to be able to follow this animal in this untouched nature. SEE PART 2 & 3 FOR THE FULL STORY! 

Travel & Events 09 Aug 2019

stunning scenic flight helicopter horizons

When you are travelling across the Okavango Delta of Botswana (see previous travel blogs), one of the best ways to get an idea of the terrific scenery is up in the sky. We collaborated with the amazing Helicopter Horizons, which already fly their guests from lodge to lodge with small airplanes. But to experience a unique and even more exciting free feeling, one must really try a scenic helicopter flight! It is one of those things you put on your bucket list. And we must say, it is an absolute must!  We had a stunning flight with Helicopter Horizons, which made our trip even more magical. You can SEE OUR VIDEO HERE, and the images speak for themselves. Helicopter Horizons collaborates with travel organisations such as Wilderness Safaris. In addition to scenic flights, it is also possible to book private transfers, special helicopter safaris, they support with filming and photography. Also – that is what we really appreciate- Helicopter Horizons also supports when help is needed for special wild life assistance. They strive to give back as much and often as they can. Therefore, they for instance collaborate with organisations like the Rhino conservation Botswana (RBC) and Elephants without Borders (EWB). It is also possible to book flights to Makgadikgadi Pans and the Kalahari Desert. For more info, check the website. Photographs by Henk Bothof | Text: Angelique van Os 

Travel & Events 07 Aug 2019

video: 5 reasons why we love wilderness safaris

This Spring Henk and I had an amazing trip with Wilderness Safaris (also see our previous blog about the classic safari trip we made). But we really want to share this video with you. The images speaks for themselves. Soon you can find the profiles of Wilderness on Miljonet.  Hope you also get inspired!  Henk Bothof & Angelique van Os Images by Henk Bothof & Dana Allen (interior)

Travel & Events 07 Aug 2019

classic game drive botswana animalwahalla part 2

No LuckWe move on to the southeast of the Okavango Delta, to Qorokwe, a camp near the vast Moremi Game Reserve. From the air the area of roughly 15,000 km2, filled with canals, lagoons, swamps, reed collars and islets looks spectacular. Nowhere are asphalt roads, no electricity poles, no light pollution. Nothing but wilderness, in which earthly colours alternate. I feel very insignificant in this great country, but also happy: that I can enjoy this geological miracle. The end of the afternoon is approaching. With our new guide Alan, we go looking for lions. Everywhere we meet elephants, giraffes, antelope, birds and monkeys. The lions are nowhere to be seen. In the meantime Alan tells us all about the landscape, about the trees that have a hard time because of the many elephants. They are eaten bald and pushed over. Then we arrive at a vast plain. In the distance there are buffaloes and impalas. An ideal place for a lion to go hunting. We wait a while. But nothing happens. Alan drives on. Because Wilderness has its own concessions, the guides are allowed to drive off road here. This increases the chance to find cats and rhino’s. But no matter how many laps we drive, we don't find any lions. Alan also follows a rhino trail for a while, but without any luck. And the African Wild Dog hasn't been seen in the park for two weeks. The endangered dogs can travel up to sixty kilometers a day, so that's looking for a needle in a haystack. So no luck today.  Soes and sleepThe next game drive starts early again. Because it is already quite hot, Alan drives to a clearing that borders a large pond. Again we don't find a lion's-eye here, but we do find dozens of birds and elephants that cool off among the hippos. We can watch this peaceful scene for hours, but since the lions are not around here, we continue. While Alan drives on quietly, I hear him talking in the walkie-talkie. "Have the lions been spotted?" I ask hopefully. "And while I ask, the guide smiles and says: "Look right in front of you, under that bush." I start to shine glimpse away. There are two young lions puffing in the shade. They are brothers. Soon it turns out that the whole family (nine cats in total) is scattered under the bushes. A little further on two mothers and their one and a half year old sons are puffing in the grass. One of the lionesses looks like a sleeping beauty, with her head resting gracefully on her front leg. Cats sleep an average of 18 to 20 hours a day, so it is not surprising that there is little action. At the end of the day we see more lions! This time it are two adult males that have beautiful dark and long manes. These boys are also lazy and suffer from the heat. Yet there is a lion that walks along our jeep. We can almost touch him. The male hardly seems to be aware of our presence; the only thing he sees and hears is the car and the clicking of the cameras. Well hiddenIt's time to leave Qorokwe and fly on to the crazy area of Vumbura Plains, north of the Okavan Modelta. The Vumbura concession covers an area of 60,000 hectares, and I find it even more varied than the previous parks. Swamps, small islands with palm trees, vast savannas, acacia forests and seasonal flood plains alternate. No wonder there is so much wildlife here. We have set our sights on finding cheetahs and looking for wild dogs. However, the dogs haven't been seen in the area for a couple of days now and have moved to the south. Lettie is our new friendly guide. Also here the guides of Wilderness work well together during game drives. With three cars they scan the area. During the first afternoon trip Lettie finds lions on the trail. Because the cheetahs are nowhere to be seen, we change our plan. That is also part of a good game drive. Lettie hangs every few minutes with his nose above the unpaved path. By the size of the legs he recognizes whether we follow a male or female. It is the Kubo group, says the guide. This is a group with only lionesses and their young. "I see here that they have crossed the road, probably to drink. We zigzag through the bush. It is difficult to search in the dense and high bushes. The car is approaching a clearing. Now it gets confusing. "Look at the prints. Do you see that all the tracks run through each other, as if they doubted where to go", says Lettie pondering. The lions are nowhere to be seen, so Lettie drives back to the road. Unfortunately. Just at that moment a message follows: the others have spotted the group a bit further on. The lionesses and their offspring are well hidden under the bushes. We wait a while, but there is little movement. Through the walkie-talkie a voice resounds again. Lettie answers excitedly and turns to us with a big smile: "By chance a cheetah female has been seen with a number of cubs! On the way Lettie tells us that his colleague in the other car wanted to drive to the buffalo that we had spotted earlier that morning. When they were close by, it turned out that the cheetah had a dubious hunting attitude. And rightly so, because you don't just attack a buffalo. She had probably set her sights on a calf, but it was too well protected by the herd. Meanwhile she has retreated into the bushes. Ten minutes later Lettie drives off road through the bush. I keep finding it unimaginable how the man always manages to find his way without getting lost. In the distance we see the other jeep. Lettie looks surprised when we find the cheetah mother. "Wow! I know this female. She hadn't been spotted for a while. Apparently she has been busy, because we see her cub now for the first time. So for me also a boost. Her cubs are only a few months old." The mother keeps a close eye on us, but is otherwise relaxed. The boy doesn't know the car yet. They look around a bit nervously and when their mother starts moving, they walk in a bit nervously and trot after it. Lettie reacts immediately each time the animals are in a higher gear. At an appropriate distance he turns the car around so we can see them clearly. We stay with the cheetahs for more than half an hour and say goodbye when the foursome falls asleep under a tree. After this crazy morning a fairytale surprise awaits us: in the middle of nature Wilderness has set up a table where a delicious lunch buffet full of salads, soups, meat and fruit awaits us and the other guests. What a misery!  Close brothersThe end of our trip is approaching. The last game drive is approaching. And it will be memorable too. Again we encounter lions. This time there are four brothers. In consultation with Lettie we decide to take our time and stay with the lions. A male keeps an eye on things. The other three are lazily lying next to each other. They have their legs nicely crossed over each other. "These boys are very close. They hunt and eat together. They are three years old now. Only when they start mating do they retreat and possibly become dominant towards each other", says Lettie. Meanwhile, the sun begins to burn and the lions start to move. Together they search for a pool to drink water. Three of the four then plunge into the shady high grass. But one male walks on. He marks his territory spraying by a tree and calls with a kind of crying song to the females we saw earlier. "The lionesses won't let him come near them, because with the cubs there is a chance that he will kill them. Maybe that's why he sounds so pathetic, he probably already knows that it makes no sense", jokes Lettie. And while we're still watching the lions, I review what we have all seen. What a diversity of animals and landscapes we have seen! And in less than six days we have achieved a nice score with four lions, cheetahs and a leopard. Mission accomplished!  MORE TO COME: soon you can also read 7 Game Drive Tips, 5 reasons why we love Wilderness Safaris, a special feature about the waterlife of the Okavango Delta (& Wilderness) and we will share a video about the amazing landscapes we experienced from a scenic helicopter flight above the Delta. Keep you posted! 

Travel & Events 07 Aug 2019

botswana game drives bring a great animalwahalla

If you go on a classic safari, you'll be in the car for hours. You never know what you will encounter. Game drives can increase the excitement considerably or it can turn out to be a disappointment. It's not a 'game' for nothing. We took up the challenge in Botswana, looking for big cats. Game on!  Text: Angelique van Os | Photopgraphy: Henk Bothof & Dana Allen (interior) The sun is gradually setting. Thank God, because it's almost forty degrees. And that before the end of the rainy season, at the beginning of March. The grass is high, in many places a bit yellow. It hasn't rained much. However, the many low shrubs and the rich forest landscape offer shade. The ever-emerging marshy Linyanti river, the many small onion fields and water poles at the edge of the immense Chobe National Park, form the common thread in this colourful and extensive landscape. The Landcruiser follows the dusty, unpaved path. We are quiet, peering in the bush. Cameras ready to shoot, binoculars in hand. Looking for hidden game. "A good game drive is mainly about waiting, finding and recognizing tracks and good teamwork", whispers our guide Andy. "And luck is perhaps the most important factor", he adds with a smile. It's quiet; the predators still seem to be asleep. There are no footprints or faeces to guide us in the right direction. We are looking for big cats: lions, leopards or cheetahs. Here and there a small group of impala's and zebras pass by. And then suddenly, about ten metres from the car, a large group of elephants looms up. Dozens at a time they walk past us. A number of females protect their calves and trumpeting is imminent. The sound vibrates through my body and the adrenaline rises. I've been on safari several times already, but never before have I seen such a large family so close by. These elephants don't get a lot of visitors every day. And it's a good thing that they are wary, because unfortunately the Botswana government has allowed the hunting of the tadpoles again since May 2019. This has to do with the enormous elephant population in the country and the complex human versus wildlife problems. Fortunately, the Linyanti Concession is a well-protected area, supervised by Wilderness Safaris and its Wilderness Wildlife Trust. Wilderness Safaris is a major tour operator within Southern Africa and only has its own concessions. The organisation has been in existence for over 35 years and presents excellent eco-safaris in the high segment.   Devious cat Linyanti borders on the northwest side of Chobe National Park. The remote reserve vessel is a natural paradise of about 125,000 hectares. Driving around in the jeep, shows how rich this area is in a variety of small game. There is always movement. I get used to the many elephants, but they intrigue me time and time again with their idiosyncratic behavior. They splash and spray water with their trunks on top of each other, as if they shower together. The grey skins like to swim between a bed of white water lilies in the swamps and the Linyanti river, which shines in the rising heat. Gallant and agile impalas spread in small groups in the high reed while jumping. They also seek shelter and refreshment, unaware that a crocodile may be lurking. Or a leopard, because this devious cat can sneak noiselessly around shallow water. That leopard - or another cat - we have not spotted today. It is one of the most shy felines and lives solitary, so it's hard to find. Tomorrow we will make another attempt. The next morning we leave at dusk. "A new day, new opportunities", says Andy cheerfully. He babbles something in the walkie-talkie and while we're having breakfast, he drives quietly towards the savannah. "In addition to our car, two other cars are active. We keep in touch when someone sees something, so we can reach the location quickly." Andy is looking forward to it. After half an hour of driving he stops and stares at the ground, looking for tracks. "Hmmmm...I see a lot of things, but no traces of cats." A quarter of an hour later there is a sound from the walkie-talkie. Andy talks quickly in a local language. He hangs up and returns the car. "The other group has found a leopard, it's near here." I jump up from the couch from excitement. We are very lucky, because a two-year-old male has been spotted eating a prey in a tree. I only catch a glimpse of his beautiful coat and contours. Luckily the animal is not impressed by our 4x4 jeep and slowly starts to move after breakfast. The vehicles split, to give the leopard space. Moments later he is wandering through the high grass at ease and walks past our car in a squint. I hold my breath. Then the animal walks over a wooden bridge that the jeeps can cross. The cat screens the swamp for a prey with its sharp vision. There is not much to see. On the other side he marks his territory by a tree and disappears into the forest. The two other jeeps drive away. We decide to turn the car around and park at a water spot at a walking pace. And yes, there is the leopard again. Rttttssshhhh... Despite his speed, the defeated cat sees his next bite - a lizard - shooting into the water. Every animal meets his match. He gives up and disappears into the bushes in search of cooling. What a privilege to be able to follow this animal in this unspoiled nature. And that at seven o'clock in the morning. READ MORE ABOUT OUR CLASSIC GAME DRIVE IN PART 2! 

Travel & Events 29 Jan 2018

estate verwolde, enjoying dutch luxury and nature

A city trip to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht is a highlight of our little county, but if you want to explore a different side of the Netherlands, the countryside might surprise you. In the Provence of Gelderland there are many castles and estates surrounded by beautiful forests. One of them is the authentic estate of Verwolde, where quietness and singing birds is all you hear, celebrating your holiday in a romantic carriage house of Buitenleven Vakanties.   Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Henk Bothof You can wander there without getting lost. By bike, walking or on horseback. You do not even have to go far from the estate and its castle, because Verwolde and the Oranjewoud, which lies on the other side of the Markeloseweg, are equipped with various horseriding and walking paths that run through the forest and along surrounding meadows. Herds of horses, cows and sheep adorn the landscape. And when you go past the Moesgaard, at the end of the road, the T-junction to the right, you are surrounded by meters high cornfields that show off in the summer months in the sky. Furthermore, the typical nineteenth-century houses with the recognizable black-yellow shutters are sometimes beautifully hidden against the lee of the forest. For a long time there were sixty houses that fell under the estate, now there are still about fifteen. Great coach houseIn the heart of the estate that covers about 400 hectares, lies the stately mansion annex castle, dating back to 1776. A stone's throw away from this, completely sheltered by trees and high bushes, you can find the beautiful spacious coach house that was built in 1890. Since 2016 the Stichting Geldersch Landschap and Kastelen, Staatsbosbeheer and Buitenleven Vakanties are taken care of the coach house and it serves as a holiday home. When we close the gate behind us and park the car, a sea of ??beautiful blooming bedding flowers and plants comes to meet us. The house is surrounded by greenery and behind the house you have a 'mini-forest' with wide views for you alone. Inside, it is just such a party, because in the large kitchen, the old hayracks, water bowls and stable fences have been preserved and incorporated in the modern, sleek design. The imposing dining table with space for up to twelve people, invites you to dine extensively and play games in bad weather. It forms a tasteful, quirky whole. Through the hallway we reach the other side of the house, where the living room is located. Even so great, with multiple seating areas of classic interior. We miss a bit of coziness, because the furniture in terms of size actually falls away in space. The wood-burning stove does a great job, however, the worn-out bridles on the wall revive old times and the folding garden doors take the forest inside.The three bedrooms on the upper floor cover the entire coach house, so there is plenty of room; which is also very pleasant with children. The double rooms each have their own (pour) shower and toilet, and the master bedroom even has a tempting freestanding white bath. When you open the bathroom window in the morning, all you hear is birds singing and the swings of the trees. For lovers there is also a sauna with separate shower available on the landing. Family Van der BorchAround the country and coach house there is a canal, where a riding trail runs along the outside. It is quite possible that during a walk you will meet Bella van der Borch with one of her horses. The eldest daughter of baron Allard Philip Reinier van der Borch (1926-2008) has been living at the estate till she was eighteen. Her family relatives lived in the house for two hundred years (1777-1977). She is from the sixth generation. In the living room of the coach house hangs a family photo. The little boy sitting on the ground is her father. After several wanderings, Bella returned to her roots and cultural heritage a few years ago; she lives a stone's throw from Verwolde and makes an outdoor ride almost every day.In addition to two cousins ??and aunts, Bella's younger sister, Julie, can also be found on the estate. Together they lease a part of the agricultural land and associated houses to dairy farms. Since 2012, Julie runs and manages the Moesgaard and the associated tearoom, landscape store and flower garden. We meet her during the haying with a team of enthusiastic volunteers, the so-called 'forest men', who spend a lot of time in the maintenance of the estate. Every weekday, except Thursdays, there are volunteers at work who together maintain about 150 hectares of land. With a sweaty face, Julie stomps and rakes the gathered hay together on the cart, pulled by an antique simmering red tractor. When she has refreshed herself a little later, she tells about the work and background of her family. "My father renounced the house in 1976 and the grounds within the canal of the estate, because it was no longer workable in terms of maintenance and costs. I was twelve at the time. We moved to the Jagershuis, nearby. Later, after the death of my parents, I also lived there for a few years. For my parents it was quite difficult at first to leave the castle behind. I am very happy that I live here and see how well everything is maintained by Stichting Geldersch Landschap & Kastelen. And everyone can enjoy it. I find that very important, because it ensures a great commitment to the volunteers, as well as to the villagers and of course the day-trippers. There is always something to do. " Hard working baronessJulie van der Borch, like her brother and sister and his children, still has a noble title, but she only sees that as a formality. "When people know that I live here, they sometimes come to see the 'baroness' out of curiosity, but I do not really care about it," she says with a smile. The days when there are no volunteers on the floor, Julie runs the tearoom and estate store her self. With a lot of visitors, from hikers to castle visitors, that is sometimes quite challenging. "Sometimes I think, I have to find a 'real' job again, but I this is too much fun. And it is grateful work. Then I just have little free time." After closing timeDespite the great interest in the castle, especially during the summer when there are guided tours, you hardly notice that staying in the coach house. In fact, after five o’clock the fence is literally locked and you have the realm for yourself. That gives you a privileged feeling, because after closing time you can stroll in silence through the richly landscaped garden of the mansion, walking along the canal, over bridges, enjoying the special trees and the stately avenues. Sitting on the platform we can almost imagine the rich past of the Van der Borch family. In peace we return to the coach house, pull out a bottle of wine and settle us in front of the fireplace. Fully satisfied.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------HISTORYThe estate Verwolde was created through collaboration between the owner Frederik Willem van der Borch and architect Philip Schonck. The latter also worked for Stadholder Willem V. The castle is the first neoclassical house in Gelderland. Remarkable, especially for that time, is that the house was built in just nine months. During the construction period, the sleek, stately garden was also laid out, in which architect Schonck was also involved. In 1795 the landscaped garden was created, followed in 1926 by the current garden, designed by Hugo Poortman. The design by Poortman is clearly visible inspired by the geometric French style of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the garden there are pieces with a special 'tree path', consisting of a collection of pine trees (pinetum) of more than one hundred years old. Furthermore, there is a Judas tree, tulip tree, handkerchief tree and some specimens bear a special name such as Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. These names refer to the French Revolution and were planted during the Batavian Republic. And of course just outside the gate in a clearing of the forest is the Dikke Boom van Verwolde, the thickest oak in the Netherlands, with a trunk circumference of 7.70 meters at a height of 1.30 meters. Finally, there is also an orangery on the estate that is a popular wedding and party location. Events such as music or art exhibitions are also organized. You can find more information about guided tours and the history of Estate Verwolde on the website of the Geldersch Landschap & Kastelen.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------For more info and bookings of the coach house Verwolde, look HERE If you are interested in more of our stories, check our website.

Travel & Events 24 Dec 2016

antarctica " where the world can't find you "

https://youtube.com/?v=Of8-HIwkLuEAntarctica: the great white continent and one of the last true wilderness areas on earth – largely unchanged since the early explorers.It’s home to the world’s greatest concentration of wildlife, where penguins, seals and whales are the only permanent residents.Gaze up at magnificent icebergs, explore islands guided by various species of penguin including chinstrap, gentoo and Adélie. Experience the awe-inspiring king penguin rookeries of South Georgia, the “Galapagos of the Poles,” as well as the incredible wealth of untamed wildlife in the unique and diverse archipelagos of the Southern Ocean. Untamed Travelling The Netherlands offers in associaton with Quark Expeditions exclusive ‘once in a lifetime experience’ expeditions. Contact for bookings:  Jozef Verbruggen jozef.verbruggen@untamedtravelling.com Cellphone +31 620962940 Note:Quark Expeditions has been the world leader in polar cruises and guided tours for over two decades and successfully operated many first-ever passenger trips to Antarctica, including the Circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent and the first Weddell Sea voyage.

Restaurants & Clubs 15 Nov 2016

razmataz outstanding cuisine in amsterdam!

Amsterdam is one of the most crowded cities in the world these days. If you're looking to find that authentic Amsterdam atmosphere just outside all the tourist hustle and bustle, you might want to consider eating at Razmataz Restaurant. Situated near the center of Amsterdam at the Hugo de Grootplein 7-15, Razmataz is the place of choice for your breakfast, luch, diner, private dining party or after diner drinks. They serve over 50 different Gin’s and many other delicious cocktails. Pure off the Road was graciously invited to enjoy a diner at Razmataz Restaurant. Owner Iris Molkenboer hosted this diner,  a very friendly young lady with a big passion for France and Italian wines. For starters we were served a very nice Gazpacho with basil oil. Lovely...After this taste explosion the next course arrived; the Coquille St. Jaqques, cream of green peas, pickled chioggia beet, smoked tomato and crumble of anchovy, followed by a plate of slowly cooked veal, truffle dressing, green asparagus, poached quail egg and Manchego cheese.  For our main course we were served grilled porc file, bell pepper, black olives, chorisso served with small patatoes and turnip. There was also a choice for fish as the main course; on the skin baked sea bass, creame of wild spinach and garlic, red lentils, tomato, beetroot and smoked beurre blanc. Dessert brought a Cheese selection by Fromagerie Abraham Keft (Amsterdam most famous and oldeset cheese shop) to the table, served with a very special dessert wine, Macvin de Jura. For those with a sweet tooth they have an amazing Delicce de chocolat. Hot chocolat cake with a melted heart served with Velonosi Vin 2010  Lacrima de Moro...  Razmataz, thank you for the invitation, we had a great time and very much enjoyed the special dishes and wines.Bravo Razmataz, we are impressed, and will highly recommend you to all visiting Amsterdam! RazmatazHugo de Grootplein 7-151052 KV AmsterdamThe Netherlands+31 20 4868408www.razmataz.nl   

Travel & Events 12 Aug 2016

pure tip> join rare expeditions with frans lanting

 Expeditions with Frans Lanting: one of a kind voyage To get an idea how photographer Frans Lanting works and how he tries to create an interesting image, it is possible to join the maestro himself. Lanting organizes very exclusive high-end journeys and expeditions, like for instance to Botswana, Greenland and Antarctica.Text: Angelique van Os | Photopgraphy: Frans Lanting | Henk Bothof (portrait)For Frans Lanting and his wife, filmer and editor, Chris Eckstrom, it is important to influence people in a very personal way that are interested in wildlife (photography), nature conservation and other global issues. He is also part of different boards, like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), so the photographer gets the change to meet interesting people who care about nature and the planet. But he expressly explains that it is up to them what they do with the shared information. Lanting: “Sharing our knowledge and experience of photography has become a part of our travels and work, which is developed from our meetings with different people along the way. It is important to show what is going on in the world and share this in a direct way, so we can motivate people to contribute something.” For instance, there recently was a special boat trip to the Galapagos Islands. During the tour Lanting organized a charity auction of his work, where 50.000 dollars were collected for Conservation Research for the Galapagos Islands. Lanting also tries to connect his travellers, in order to help each other with finding solutions for problems. It is an advantage of his network. Unique Greenland ExpeditionAt the end of September Lanting takes off for a unique twelve day Greenland expedition. There are only two seats left. They travel by a yacht, with small group of eighteen people. For instance, the chairman of Air Canada is one of them. “We are staying in a special area in east-Greenland for a week. Then continuing with a charter flight to West-Greenland, to enjoy the Big Ice Experience with smaller boats, which are able to reach and experience up-close the power of ice. We will also fly above the landscape with a helicopter.” Follow footsteps of Shackelton & HurleyAnother explicit journey is the winter Antarctica, Shackelton Expedition. Frans Lanting will follow the footsteps of discovery traveller Ernest Shackelton and expedition photographer Frank Hurley, who visited Antarctica hundred years ago. The Dutchman wants to use his antique analogue camera; going back to basics, just like Hurley did. “I am privileged to (have) visit(ed) some places in Antarctica, which just a few people were able to see and photograph. There are also more interesting people joining us, like for instance a famous mountaineer, an oceanographic and an Australian discovery traveller, who re-created the open boat route of Shackelton to this area. I am really looking forward to this, it will be one of a kind voyage!” For more (booking) info see: lanting.com/travelFor the Greenland Expedition there are two seats left.For the Antarctica there are two boat penthouse suites available. This is a bigger companionship, around 100 people, because it is a study trip.It might also be possible to organize a privet family trip with Frans Lanting.For contact, please e-mail to: frans@lanting.com   See also our two other blogs about Frans Lanting’s exhibition Dialogues with Nature.     

Travel & Events 12 Aug 2016

pure interview>> fans lanting

Frans Lanting: “I move between worlds of art and communication” Photographer Frans Lanting has a clear eye, always searching for deeper layers. Not only looking for beauty at the surface, but also sharing messages about nature conservation and looking at future for life. For over 40 years he has shown the world his Diaologue With Nature, which he shares now with a beautiful exhibition at the Nederlandsfotomuseum, in Rotterdam till September 4th.  Text: Angelique van Os | Photos: Frans Lanting ©  | Henk Bothof (overview)For a few days he was back on this birth ground: Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This is the city where Frans Lanting’s passion for photography started, in the Kralingse Bos City Park. “I started to discover a camera during my economy environment studies at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Here, you can see an impression of the four seasons, which are influenced by my passion for Japanese Haiku (nature) poets.” Frans Lanting points at a series of colorful, almost painted, poetic shapes on the wall. It is his first out of five Dialogues With Nature, which is selected for this similar exhibition.The Dutch photographer lives in Santa Cruz, California for over thirty years together with his wife, nature filmer and editor, Chris Eckstrom. Actually they are nomads; travellers, who stay at isolated and remote places. Lanting is one of the greatest worldwide wildlife photographers, especially known for his direct, intimate and close-ups images of animals. He introduced this way of photographing (Eye to Eye) around the 1990’s. But as one can easily tell after visiting this first major retrospective exhibition, there is more than beauty at the surface. He wants to get under the skin of animals, behind the fur and feathers. His goal is to connect nature with people. Lanting shares messages about nature conservation, shows issues of global biodiversity, dominated by human activity and heading for future for life. Pioneers workFor instance the subject, A World Lost in Time, shows his pioneers work on Madagascar during the 1980’s, which was printed in National Geographic Magazine. We are looking at an intrigued portrait of an African man with a big egg. The image is almost hypnotizing, by the powerful light and dark sky, surrounded by surreal trees in the background. Lanting: “This man holds an egg of the extinct Elephant Bird, which only lived at Madagascar. The trees already started to disappear during that time.” He walks on, to another image of brown hill landscape. It looks nice at first hand, but Lanting explains that just before his visit, the countryside used to be full of trees. All has washed away. “When we first published this series in National Geographic, the whole world was shocked about the environment problems on the island. These were the pictures which were needed to start a worldwide discussion about the future of Madagascar.” InnovationsAfter 40 years of work and effort, the dialogue continues with the always evolving and changing planet, but also with new media forms and digital camera technologies. “When I started nature photography, it sometimes was a lonesome job. I had to develop my films in a dark room and ways of communication and traveling were slower. It sometimes took months to get images published, very different from now. There are few professions who are so much influenced by technological and cultural innovation”, he says.  Photography of today forms a community, not only on social networks like Instagram, also on platforms like National Geographic and Lanting’s, own Photo competition, the WNF-Frans Lanting Photo Award. With last mentioned, he tries through storytelling to inspire amateur photographers and nature lovers to make great pictures and give them feedback on their work. Life through timeWalking through the show, it is clear that Frans Lanting images all tell a story from a deeper layer. By traveling through time, he captures life in all its forms from the earliest beginnings with the Big Bang, to its present diversity in a very colorful and expressive way. From erupting volcanoes to delicate jellies, and from giant tortoises to shimmering coral reefs. Lanting and his wife worked six years on Life; A Journey Through Time, and with their photo document gave new scientific insights about the evolution of life on Earth. In 2006 this lyrical interpretation on image was combined with beautiful music of Philip Glass in a multimedia piece for full orchestra in seven sections. Arranger Michael Riesman adapted woks originally composed by Glass for smaller ensembles, now for full orchestra, such as the Dutch Residentie Orkest. Lets hope there will be more of these projects to come. PainterWith the theme Future for Life, Lanting spent documenting the state of global biodiversity for a year during the turn of the millennium. This new era of life is called Anthropocene, a world dominated by human activities. Lanting’s images consider the notion and what it means for the future of the Earth. “The beauty of nature and life is important to show as an ecstatic outer layer, but I also want to share my story.  In this case, I show how species are vanishing, but also that we still discover new ones with the help of science instruments and knowledge. I try to do this like a painter, with lines, forms, colors, patterns, contrast and harmony. And to create images that can be windows to a world, people might not know of it or of its relevancy. I move between worlds of art and communication. Always looking forward.”     And that is clear in the final subject, a series of panoramas with his smartphone. This is a digital impression of urban scenes that visualize the need for energy and mobility, contrasted with remote regions were nature still is able to find its own way without the presence of human activity. “I want to pass through my experiences, and keep going with new dialogues. Because there is so much to tell, it is a continues journey.”  For tickets and information: nederlandsfotomuseum.nl | lanting.com Also check out the website for more updates, because the exhibition might travel itself to other museums worldwide. 

Travel & Events 08 Jun 2016

preview frans lanting dialogues with nature

Today Henk and I had the privilege to meet one of the greatest worldwide nature photographers, Frans Lanting and his wife and documentary filmer/editor, Chis Eckstrom. We got a sneak preview of the up-coming first major retrospective exhibition of the his work, Dialogues with Nature, in the Dutch Fotomuseum, Rotterdam. It is possible to visit the exhibition from June 9th till September 4th.Soon we will publish more images and (an) interview(s) with Frans. So stay tuned. First check out two behind-the-scenes video’s. https://youtu.be/iMM-FPcysLMhttps://youtu.be/XahmsQhrWwUhttps://youtu.be/dRv2I4soO3M (in Dutch) More info about the exhibition: There are five themes which expose 40 years of work and love for nature and its surroundings. A journey through time and continents, from the exotic Amazon to the isolated Antarctica. His images convey a passion for nature and a concern about the future of our living planet. His imagery reflects his constant dialogue with nature, in communication with wild animals, life itself, from its beginning to the evolving of today. Clearly inspired by painted and poetry art forms. Frans Lanting has a clear eye, always searching for deeper layers. Not only looking for beauty at the surface, but sharing messages about nature conservation and looking at future for life, to show issues of global biodiversity, dominated by human activity. See also: lanting.com                 Nederlandsfotomuseum.nl

Travel & Events 04 Apr 2016

a breathtaking experience with the curasub

A breathtaking underwater experience with the Curasub.On the Caribbean island of Curaçao Substation Curaçao offers the possibility to discover the sea with its colorful fish, corals and old shipwrecks.Pure off the Road was invited to board the Curasub, a mini-submarine to dive to depths of 1000 feet (320 meters).After detailed instructions and an explanation about safety procedures, the adventure started. I have to admit I was a bit nervous, but underwater with a very experienced submarine pilot my nerves quickly disappeared and I could sit back and enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery.Pure off the Road recommends all Miljonet members when visiting Curaçao to take a dive with Substation to get a once in a lifetime experience.The Curasub descends four times a day from Bapor Kibra on Mambo Beach.Check it out: http://substation-curacao.com

Art & Culture 17 Feb 2016

impressive underwater museum jason decaires taylor

Jason deCaires Taylor shows impressive sculptures about humaniarian crisis The clear blue waters off the coast of Lanzarote, Spain share 'new visitors' deep down on the bottom of the ocean. A permanent installation of human tragedy is constructed 14m beneath the surface, which only is accessible by snorkelers and divers. Or, if one have a privet U-boat or underwater scooter. Creator is Jason deCaires Taylor, who In 2006, founded and created the world’s first underwater sculpture park. This project was situated off the west coast of Grenada. This exhibition is called, Drowned World, How Europe's fist underwater museum immortalise the refugeen crisis, and will be possible to visit from February25th.This is Museo Atlantico, and Taylor shows impressive subjects, such as the Raft of Lampedusa: a harrowing depiction of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, referencing French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault's work: The Raft of the Medusa. Taylor draws parallels between the abandonment suffered by sailors in his shipwreck scene and the current refugee crisis. According to his pressrelease, the work is not intended as a tribute or memorial to the many lives lost but as a stark reminder of the collective responsibiliy of our now global community. And this is just an exemple of many of his great works. See this video to get an immpression: https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10153513162666939/ Henk & Angelique     

Travel & Events 15 Feb 2016

pure, the big interview: social dine arena vulkan

 Isak Oksvold: “Nobody believed that we could succeed this” Sometimes there are people and companies who really follow their dreams, even though everybody tell them not to invest or to develop. For the Norwegian Isak Oksvold of Aspelin Ramm, this was the case: he and his real estate company created Mathallen in Vulkan, now one of hottest places in Oslo by locals and food lovers.  It is Saturday morning. There are just a few people wandering around the fancy food bars who just opened. Mathallen market is awakening. The smell of fresh coffee, sandwiches, roasted beef and crispy pies are very tempting. Isak Oksvold orders a coffee and some breakfast. He lives in the neighbourhood, and comes around very often. “It will be crowded within a few hours, just wait and see”, he says smiling. He is more than a local food lover; he is the director of Environment and Social responsibility of the Norwegian real estate company, Aspelin Ramm. Just a few years ago Vulkan was nothing more then old and neglected storage and warehouses, a pretty run down area without anything happening. But Oksvold and his company believed they could change it into a vibrant and sparkling place, in a sustainable and green environment. And they were right, because the Vulkan urban development project, defined by its innovative, environment-friendly architecture, has won several Awards and is embraced by the local community. There are two hotels, cafes, apartments, schools, office spaces, the House of Dance, a Concert Hall and the highlight is Mathallen, an upbeat food market in a converted factory building. Why was Oksvold so sure about this? He takes a bite and says: “ This is a central area, near the popular district of Grünerløkka, where a lot of locals and young people go out. It is a very social place. I think one of the best areas in Oslo. Not many tourists visit this part of town; this is the escape route from the city centre. Here you can taste the authentic city life of Oslo.” Food orientIn 2009 Aspelin Ramm started with the construction of the House of Dance, which is orientated on art. The idea of a Food orient is new in Norway; this is the first food hall in the country. Oksvold explains: “All the small Boucher’s, bakery’s and other food boutiques were taken over by big supermarket chains. A lot of knowledge of preparation, quality and competence of food has been lost. We wanted to bring this back in to the local community. But it needs to be accessible for average people living in the area. This part of Oslo has the lowest incomes. Nobody believed that we could succeed this.” So how did they succeed? You can have a good concept, but you must make it happen. Oksvold says that although people don’t have a lot of income, they enjoy spending money on other things. For instance most of them don’t own a car, they save a lot of money with that and spend it on going out, drinking and food. “It is an urban population here around Vulkan, without having a summerhouse, which also cost a lot of money. People live differently than other parts of the city; they can afford to have a good time. That’s why we believed in it. But at first it was a struggle to develop the content of the food market and it was an abandoned location. The House of Dance was the starting point, with its bar and restaurant it got a lot of attention. People saw what could happen with a place like this, so slightly we started with the construction of the Mathallen.” Green showroomStill, it took the entrepreneur and his company about ten years to develop the food court and sparkling area of Vulkan. Together with the support of the Bellona Foundation the old factory was revived. And important, it turned into a ‘green’ environment, with a local energy center with 300-meter deep geothermal wells, and an office building with an exterior that is visually defined by its extensive solar water heating system. The Bellona Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that aims to meet and fight climate challenges, through identifying and implementing sustainable environmental solutions. Oksvold: “We built up an energy supply production based on runnable sources, like geo-thermal energy, solar energy and based on recycled heat from all the cooling that is needed for the food court. We also have beehives on the roof. Bees in the cities are dying; we need bees for flowering plants. We released a carpool with electric cars. This is a showroom for sustainable urban development.”  Industrial mixProjects like this are only possible thinking on the long terms. Maybe a bit similar are the Doklands in London or Neueheimat in Berlin. The urban population of Grünerløkka content actors, artists, bloggers, writers and other creative people. To introduce it and make the area alive, several events are organised, such as a farmers markets, pop-up food courts and music festivals, brining people together. And important, old elements are mixed with new. For instance taking care of old facades and bricks, and be able to transform it into something that can function in modern society. Oksvold:“We used old building techniques, which is expensive, but important to keep authentic handicrafts alive. And the results are beautiful. The old industrial places, also like Kreuzberg and Brooklyn, they have a special ambience that attracts communities. People are hungry for this kind of dining and drinking. It is a social arena. Everything happens here and is combined, day and night. That was also the idea when we developed this, it is a little city within a city.” Recommendations by Isak Oksvold:- Mathallen: Asian Tapas, great spicy oriental food- PS. Hotel: this is a different hotel experience; a rehabilitation hotel, which gives people a second change to get back into working society.Check out for more info >> vulkanoslo.no |  visitnorway.com  | See also my vlogs about Vulkan, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bXs0-_KlTY&feature=youtu.beThanks to: Isak Oksvold, Innovation Norway, Mette Mo and Susanne Engelen, Cherry Picker. Angelique van Os #Vulkan #Mathallen #Food #Oslo #urban #sustainable #authentic #Aspelin Ramm             

Travel & Events 11 Feb 2016

vlogs: vulkan area, loved by local food lovers

 Soon you can read a lot about the urban and loved Vulkan area in Oslo. I did an interview with CEO Isak Oksvold, who is one of the developers of this foody and green area. To give you an impression, check out my vlogs and pics.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTzYc2AG-nAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVqU3DrKUyYMore coming up soonAngelique  

Travel & Events 18 Jan 2016

santa barbara beach & golf resort curacao

Santa Barbara  Beach & Golf Resort Curacao Situated majestically in a very quiet and special area on Curacao The Santa Barbara  Beach & Golf Resort offers an exceptionally elegant experience surrounded by the peaceful country yard of the Santa Barbara Plantation. The resort received the “Old Tom Morris Award” and a PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award and has a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Golf course architect Peter Dye designed” The Old Quarry” the 18 hole golf course with outstanding views to the Caribbean Sea and the sheltered bay, the Spanish Waters. Dye did a great job to convert nature into a golf course without disturbing it. The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort counts 350 luxurious rooms and suites and offers everything you can imagine, private white-sandy beaches, 24/7 open fully-equipped fitness centre, 3 outside pools, diving and all kind of watersport activities.Rest and rejuvenation can be found in the tranquil Atabei Spa.Santa Barbara is ideal for a wide array of functions from discrete board meetings and small intimate social occasions to elegant cocktail receptions and sophisticated weddings. The resort has 7 restaurants of which SHORE is known as probably one of the best restaurants on the entire island.Pure off the Road was invited for a stay of 4 nights in a Sea Traditions room to get the full VIP experience. The Sea Traditions rooms are spacious with a king size or double bed, a good shower and ultra soft bath towels. A private pool with sea view is exclusively for the guest of Sea Traditions. http://santabarbararesortcuracao.com From the resort there are many possibilities for activities, visit Christoffelpark, visit Willemstad, Aquafari, Substation etcPure off the Road will post separate blogs about Substation (underwater expedition with small submarine), Aquafari (the ultimate underwater experience), the trip with the private yacht Domicile etc (beautiful yacht with excellent on board service). A very good combination with a stay on Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort.

Travel & Events 21 Dec 2015

pure tip: taste the world of fattoria la vialla

It is almost Christmas, and therefore we want to share some of our favorite Italian products. Because Henk and I adore Italy and have a special place for a very big family and their authentic way of life, La Fattoria La Vialla. Which goes along with great food and wine! Ten tips:1.     Olio PhenoliaThis is a liquid organic fyto-complex, which contains an extract of biodynamic olive pulp and organic of grape juice. Very healthy and has a lot of healing effects, such as anti-angiogenic, anti-oxidative, anti-inframmatoir and anti-bacterial.  2.     Vin SantoA warm, light, sweet dessert wine. La Vialla is famous for its Vin Santo!3.     Mouse di morreA ricotta mousse sauce with black berries. Very nice with Penne.4.     Sugo BombolinoCherry tomato sauce, very pure and great with spaghetti5.     Bruti ma buoni, (ugly but tasteful)A traditional cooky, which is very tasteful dipping into coffee or Vin Santo6.     Olio ExtravingeVery rich oil, which has a spicy pepper tough. Great for pasta or dipping bread7.     Parpadella and TagliatellaThick, home made long pasta.    8.     Mini Penne Lisce & PomarolinaHome made Pasta and fresh tomato sauce for the little ‘bambino’s’, so you’re kids can easy chew and taste it! My baby loves it!9.     Rosa RosaA taste of summer! This sparkling rosé is fresh and gives a little magic10.   Lo ChiffonA wonderful unfiltered Spumante brut. Great for celebrations, before dinner or for lazy summer nights!     FactsFattoria La Vialla is a biodynamic 'farm/factory', which lies in a tiny village in Tuscany, Italy, near Arrezzo. It has been a family company for over 35 years, and is now running by the three brothers Lo Franco, Gianni, Antonio and Bandino. They farm and produce, purely, with full respect for nature and according to the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner. La Vialla offers for instance home made pasta, pasta sauces, wine, olive and vinegar.To try and taste their food and wine, it is possible to visit them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The diner is a special experience: with more than 40 people, you will be dining on a long table at the top of a hill beneath fig trees, served by the lovely Italian mama’s. It is a real treat! And you have to make reservations!FamilyWe have been there many times, and what makes its special is that you get the feeling that you are part of the family. The people who work at La Vialla are very committed and very personal, and above all, they work very hard, always with a smile.  Finally, you can visit the small factory, the wine cellars and the shop where it is possible to buy products. Also you can order their products online (see below). They don’t sell in shops. If you are a regular client or really interested, it is possible to rent a family house, because the family owns about 1100 hectares of land with more than 20 authentic villa’s. No luxury, but the real Italian spirit, surrounded by stunning, hilly landscape. In one of our next blogs we will give an impression of the authentic Tuscany food life at the Fattoria and we offer a special package for Miljonet membersIf you are looking for a last minute Holiday present, check out La Vialla’s special (Christmas) packages: lavialla.it  You can get info here and a service list if you want to get a taste of La Vialla. Merry Christmas,Henk & Angelique    

Travel & Events 10 Dec 2015

pure tip: winter wonderland at the aurora dome

Winter wonderland at the Aurora Dome You might have never heard of Torassieppi Winter Village. It sounds a bit like a Dolomite ski resort, but it lies high above the Arctic Circle, up north of Finnish Lapland. This place is set in the wonderful authentic winter landscape of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, surrounded by reindeers, husky dogs and its pearl: The Aurora Dome. The setting of Torassieppi Winter Village is not only special because of the unspoiled nature and its wide plains, in this town you find a reindeer farm, organic and pure food is served and there are the unique Aurora Domes. Of course there are several special ice hotels and igloos in high Scandinavia, but it is the total setting what makes these domes special. There are a few number of these exclusive igloo tents, with a private fireplace, a cozy seat space and from your bed, there is an amazing view over the frozen lake, the forest and if you are lucky, the magical Northern lights. Toilet, shower and sauna are at near walking distance. And because there is so much space, ‘neighbor’s’ are far away. Next to a special overnight stay, there are a lot of exciting activities, such as a Lappish-cooking workshop, using local and organic ingredients with help of a professional chef. So dinner is served, this time by yourself! Also, there is a reindeer farm where reindeers come and go; they are walking free around the lodges. It is possible to join for the feeding ritual with the farmer and of course sleigh rides (also with husky’s) are possible. A ride in the evening, lightened by the moon and the stars, creates a different romantic vibe than during the day. Finally, if you rather feel like hiking, put on your snow boots and walk through the Arctic night, and get close to nature in all its beauty. For more info: Voigt Travel | www.lapland.nl | +0031 35 6990322 Thanks to JPR Communication | jpr.communication.nl

Travel & Events 01 Oct 2015

pure personal: human inside

Henk and I are always seeking for the beauty of things, in nature, animals, art, living and people. We all know Africa has a lot of unsolvable issues and scars of war and hunger, but sometimes we forget the beauty of the continent and its people. With our work we are trying to show the beauty and purity of what is left and treasure this. A good example is Human Inside. This is a series of photo’s of the Suri people in Ethiopia. There is no anthropological or ethnic point of view underlying these images, but as said, an unconditional fascination for the pure beauty of the Suri in all their colour and appearance. from confronting to modest, from sober to exuberant, while time is of no consequence. The titles Blood, Ashes, Face, Body, Fight, Wood, Colour and Skin refer to their tradition and rituals. They show their feelings, emotions and power in an untouched manner. Hope you like them! And if you are curious or want to see more, let us know, we will share it. Henk & Angelique

Travel & Events 30 Sep 2015

pure tip: asfhord castle voted best hotel worldwide

Of course you can find luxurious and exclusive hotels everywhere. But there is a place in Ireland, which seem to have it all: flair, style, tradition, activities, great landscapes and high-end service. Ashford Castle & Country Estate has even won different awards for being one of the best hotels in the world (Travel & Leisure World’s Best Award 2015, Virtuoso Award 2015). Ashford Castle dates back to 1228, and is set in 350 acres of picturesque hilly and green landscapes around the shores of Lough Corrib (between Galway and Westport). The impressive and massive castle has over 82 rooms, which all has their own unique character. The property used to be part of the famous Guinness family, and since 2013 it has taken over by the Red Carnation Group who created a major make over, bringing the castle back to its former glory. And without a doubt, the spirit of a wealthy family is still alive. More than that, the classic baroque rich interior even breaths the atmosphere of kings and queens. Just glance at the curtain drapes, the detailed decorated tapestry, wooden furniture, fine arts and famous glass from Merano, to mention something. If this British style is not your thing, than you might hate it. But the Ashford estate is much more than a great hotel. You are welcomed by two Irish Wolfhounds, which are the biggest dogs in the world by height (standing up, they are over six feet tall). You can also bring your own dog. The garden is also huge, one of the biggest of Ireland. And there have stayed many famous movie stars, presidents and royal people. It also offers a lot of interesting (family) activities, such as Falconry training, equestrian (horse riding), cycling, kayaking, clay shooting and archery and you can take a private charter or boat trip to explore Lough Corrib. There also is a cinema, spa and yoga program. And for drinking and dining there are seven different rooms. You can even organize a private diner. All said we can’t wait to explore this castle ourselves! For more info: ashfordcastle.com; thanks to Ireland Tourism

Travel & Events 27 Sep 2015

danakil depression the hottest place on earth!

In Ethiopia you find one of the most remoted and hottest regions in the world, the Danakil Depression. The Danakil Depression is situated close to the border with Eritrea and Djibouti.The landscapes are fabilous. The most impressive things to see is the active volcano Erta Ale with his boiling lake of lava, Erta Ale is one of the most impressive things I've seen after visiting Ethiopia 12 times.! To reach the volcano you've to drive for 80 km along one of the most worse roads in the world, but you get to see impressive landscapes of solidified lava.After this ride you’ve to make a trekking of 3-4 hours to reach the volcano.The trekking starts late in the afternoon and you'll reach the rim of the volcano in the dark.Specially in the dark the view on boiling, lighting and exploding lava is fascinating and you can stand there on the rim for hours to view this “firework". It’s a live art, performed by nature. Henk Bothof

Travel & Events 26 Sep 2015

pure tip: lake hillier

I found an interesting tip about Lake Hilier at another Mag.com. which I wanted to share. Check it out! Cheers, Henk Where on Earth? Western Australia GPS Coordinates: 34°5′S 123°12′E We’re flying above Australia’s rugged, wild coastline along the Southern Ocean. Miles after miles, empty sand dunes and thousands of tiny islands stretch out below us, until, like some pop art hallucination, a splotch of pink appears amid the greenery. At first it looks manmade: maybe a giant sheet of pink plastic or some kind of chemical pond caused by mining. But as we get closer and start to bank, the pink blob glimmers in the sunshine and you realise it’s a body of water. The aptly-named Pink Lake is among the most surreal sights on Earth – and it’s entirely natural. Pink Lake is one of a number in this part of Western Australia, an eight hour drive from Perth on the south coast. Fly out towards Cape Arid National Park over the ocean and you soon come to the even-more-spectacular Lake Hillier (one of Another’s most popular Loves, we hasten to add). Located on an island just off the coast, it’s a perfect, stunning shade of bubblegum pink surrounded by gleaming white salty sand and green eucalyptus and paperbark trees – set beside a vast sea of blue stretching to the horizon. Separated from the ocean by a narrow strip of land, the lake is like an art installation created by nature: though similar lakes are found in Senegal, Spain and Azerbaijan, the contrast here between the bright pink and other brilliant colours is unique. What on Earth? So what’s turning the lakes into such a surreal shade of pink? Though scientists aren’t 100% sure, it’s likely caused at least in part by Dunaliella salina – a species of algae that thrives in the super salty water. To survive in such hypersaline environments, the algae is rich in glycol and creates reddish beta-Carotene – both of which make it useful in cosmetics and anti-ageing treatments. In Lake Hillier, a bacteria-like organism called Halobacteriaceae may also play a role, creating a pigment called bacteriorhodopsin to absorb light and create energy. Like the world’s other pink/red lakes, the colour can vary from season to season and year to year. Whatever the cause, the water at Lake Hillier is unique because once bottled in maintains its pink colour How on Earth? To protect its fragile ecosystem, Middle Island is off-limits to visitors, but can you can swim in Pink Lake, close to the town of Esperance. www.anothermag.com

Travel & Events 24 Sep 2015

pure tip: romance & adventure at irish lighthouses

Some weeks ago we wrote a piece about the exclusive and remote Luggala Estate in County Wicklow, Ireland. This wide and green country has more high end hotels and special stay overs. Together with Innovation Norway we selected some of the most interesting places: lighthouses, castles and luxury hotels, which are part of beautiful sceneries. In this part we introduce some interesting lighthouses. Less than fifty years ago many sailors put their faith in flashes from the coast. The light guided them. One flash every two seconds would mean that they were near Valentia Island off the coast of Kerry on the west of Ireland. There were navigation codes, the lights were a lifeline, bringing people home. Nowadays modern technology has taken over, so there is no active future for lighthouses anymore. Nevertheless, the scenery of these lighthouses is often breath taken and very private. You might not find a lot of luxury here, but it is all about the experience. Ireland presents twelve lighthouse pearls through the country which are used as accommodations. Like for instance Loop Head, at the west-coast and end of Head peninsula of West Clare. Surrounded by the Atlantic sea and dramatic cliffs, rock ledges and caves, it seems to be a perfect place to spot wales, dolphins, seals and noisy seabirds, walking around or take a canoe. A bit further north, you’ll find Clare Island Lighthouse, which is the only lighthouse in Ireland that provides a luxury B&B accommodation and a six-course dinner (others are all self-catered). You cannot reach the lighthouse by car, so the adventure starts at Roonough Pier, on the Mayo mainland, where you cross the water to reach this unique place. Here, you can unwind and leave your thoughts, but your body can work! There are several day activities, such as walking, cycling, fishing and crafting. In the south, not far from Cork, there is Gally Head, another remote lighthouse, at the edge of land and sea on Dundeady Island. It is just you and the sea. And if you like diving and clear blue water, check out St. Johns Point, at one of the longest peninsulas of Ireland. There are two lightkeeper’s cottages, surrounded by the wild and rough nature of Donegal Bay. The Coral Beach is famous for its almost pink beach. Finally, to enjoy the real lighthouse experience, stay over at Wicklow Head, in the stunning Wicklow area (not far from the famous nature of Glendalough, Avoca valley and Dublin city). You sleep in the tower itself, with viewings over the cliffy Wicklow coastline. Though it is a challenge to reach the kitchen, with 109 steps to go up, it is a nice combination of romance and adventure. More information and Lighthouse tips see: greatlighthouses.com

Travel & Events 03 Sep 2015

luxury resort maxx royal kemer turkey

Check the luxury resort Maxx Royal Kemer, Turkey. It is awesome! For more information about Maxx Royal, please look up Maxx Royal in the Business Finder or go to www.miljonet.com/maxxroyal Find the interview with founder Mehmet Ersoy in the blogs section: travel & events

Travel & Events 31 Aug 2015

mehmet ersoy founder of maxx royal resorts

On May 28 of this year the bloggers of “Pure of the Road” met with Turkish serial entrepreneur Mehmet Ersoy in the beautiful Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam. He told us more about his latest achievement: Maxx Royal Kemer Resort. THE STORY Mehmet Ersoy was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1968, and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Estur. He started his career as a tour guide together with his twin brother Murat. During their studies, the brothers combined studying Business Administration and working in the tourism industry. This experience made them aware that they could make a difference in the Turkish tourism industry, and motivated them to start Etstur in 1991. Etsur, now part of the Etsgrup, is the leading tour operator in Turkey with over 5000 employees. The Etsgrup, founded by the Ersoy brothers, offers holiday options by means of the Voyage Group, Didimtur, Atlasjet, Club Voyage Hotels, ucuzabilet.com, otelpuan.com, Jetset and Maxx Royal. The latest project of Mr Ersoy’s group is the opening of one of the most exclusive and luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the world, Maxx Royal Kemer. This luxury resort is the second hotel of the Maxx Royal concept. The first Maxx Royal was opened in Belek and is well known for its beautiful world-class Montgomorie golf resort and its amazing location on the Turkish riviera. Maxx Royal Kemer offers the ultimate luxury experience with its impressive architecture, numerous a la carte restaurants, private beaches, royal spa and luxury services. Mr Ersoy is a man with a keen eye for detail and he visited many five star luxury hotels around the world to look for the 200 best features in the luxury hospitality industry to integrate into Maxx Royal Kemer. FULL LUXURY EXPERIENCE How about sushi from Nobu’s former top chef Anthony Kando? Or a lobster at 3 am in Italian top chef Roberto Petza’s restaurant? A Dom Perignon on the beach? These are just some of the extraordinary luxuries Maxx Royal Kemer has to offer. NOT ENOUGH LUXURY? Maxx Royal Kemer also offers the Emerald Members Club: they pick you up from the airport and guide you through the customs-process, so you’re holiday starts the minute you disembark from the airplane. Maxx Royal will take care of your luggage and passport, and fly you to the resort by helicopter. What a luxury provided by the hotel! Once arrived at the resort you can enjoy your private Royal beach villa or presidential villa, with your private butler ‘pampering’ you and your family. Your fridge will be filled with only the drinks you wish... For more information about Maxx Royal, please look up Maxx Royal in the Business Finder or go to www.miljonet.com/maxxroyal Henk Bothof

Travel & Events 19 Aug 2015

pure favorite nature: rwenzori mountains

Traveling around, we see so many beautiful or mysterious natures and national parks that we want to share this. In our first Favorite Nature feature, we focus on the silent Rwenzori Mountains. We visited this breathtaking National Park in Uganda, also known as the Mountains of the Moon. We did not meet any other visitors and had the park all to ourselves!!!! The Rwenzori Mountains lie in the South-West of Uganda and crosses the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This National Park (120 tot 50 miles) shows the third highest (5.109 meters) and biggest mountain chain of Africa. A big difference with the Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and Mount Kenya (Kenya) is that there are only about 1.500 to 2000 visitors a year. How is that possible? Ilischa Balrukku is a ranger and cook for over 25 years and working for the Rwenzori Ranges Guides and Escorts Association (RRGEA). He knows the park by heart. According to him there is bad marketing and it is a physical challenge to climb this mountain. Also, the violent history of this boarder area and political problems do not help the park. “At the beginning of the 1970’s there were a lot of travel expeditions and researchers in this area. The terror force of Idi Amin directly stopped this. Civil wars and disturbance of rebels around the Congo border isolated the Rwenzori. It became a goldmine for elephant and antelope poachers. Recently I went to Germany, and people still asked me about the situation with Idi Amin. They don’t have a clue what is going on in our country right now and that Uganda is a quiet stable country since 2006. People are suspicious, but there has changed a lot since Joseph Koney, another crook, disappeared from Uganda. It is important that film crews like the BBC show how unique this area is.” According to Ilischa Balrukku there is no similar place like the Rwenzori Mountains. Every feet or mile has a change in vegetation. Even among the highest piques of 4000 to 5000 meters the surroundings changes. “You will be surprised, and bring rain clothes, because you will need it!” We are curious. When we take our first steps into the forest, it already starts to rain. Our raincoats and boots are soaked within twenty minutes. We take off at 1600 meters on the Mahoma Trail, which is used since 2012. Together with the ‘old trail’, this is the most interesting, but also the most challenging of eight tracking routes in the park. Both paths end after several days of climbing at the perpetual snow of mountains Baker (4.843m), Stanley (4.563m), Speke (4.890m) and Margherita (5.109m). To climb these mountains experience is required. UNTOUCHED FOREST The riche and divers vegetation which ranger Balrukku was describing is indeed overwhelming. The first 300 meters are long and steep. The century old wet forest full of tropical plants, high bushes, creepers and meters high trees, changes after a two hours walk, reaching an open field with dense ferns. The small path almost disappears in the green sea of plants. After hundred meters, the path coils up. Big steps; the climbing takes a lot of energy. The ground is slippery leaves are everywhere. We need to stop and catch a breath. There is a sudden cry. “Shh… grab your binoculars. There are rare blue monkeys in the trees. Can you spot them?” asks our guide Lazarus Bwambale. Watching trough the clear Swarovski glass, there appears a black monkey with a long gracious tail and blue glow on his back. It is silently watching us from 100 meters. Out of nowhere red wings and tails are passing by. “That was the Red- blue Turaco”, says the guide. “This shy bird only lives in the Rwenzori.” We are moving on, it is a long way ahead because we want to reach the second camp at the Mahoma Lake at 3.300 meter in one day. It is about seven hours walk, but possible for trained hikers and real go-getters. The road bends up in the untouched forest, with beautiful viewing over the Alps, covered by foggy layers. TRUE PARADISE With the transition of the so-called ‘Mikado bamboo forest’ , the second zone is marked. The tall bars form a mysterious still life, also because many plants fell down. The sky is barely visible, so dense is the forest. There is no sound at all. Lianas strings and moss are everywhere. Then it gets slippery because of big muddy tracks; the start of the elephant trail. Shy mountain elephants travel at night, but leave their dung and smell behind. You can’t miss boots here. Not paying attention means falling…. “At least now you smell nice”, chuckles the guide. Out of nowhere the bamboo disappears, followed by the fairy- like Chionanthus virginicus, also known as Old Man’s Beard tree, because of the moss strings looking like a beard. After a half an hour the elephant paths is gone. We are crossing small rivers reaching the other side of the hill, where the stunning Rukenga valley shows its beauty. Old Man Beard trees and a few eternal flowers (Mimulopsis Eliotti) and giant Lobelia’s surround the swampy fields. The massive Lobelia Bequaertti has a rosette collar and a diameter of 80 centimeters. This is the only species with almost bowl-shaped floral bracts, which can reach a height of vive meters. If you want to spot plants and flowers of ten meters high, you have to do a four days tracking, because the lobelias are between 3.700 and 4.300 meters height. The final climbing is short but hard. Finally we reach the lake where we put up the camp. The dark shadows of the ‘Portal Peaks’ frame the bright stars. This time we don’t climb them, but there is so much to come back for. The next day, sliding down is a lot faster, though you have to be careful. The rocky paths are slippery and heavy for knees and lap. The weather is good. One of the carriers stops, grabs a stick and shows a rare three horned Chameleon, this species only lives here. The last part of the trail, the Monthone-zone, around the untamed Kiohio River, looks like a green savanna. Open shrubs, combined with century old tropical trees. A stunning and surprising closure, and like the legendary words of explorer Douglas Freshfield (1906): “You may be familiar with the Alps and the Causasus, the Himalayas and the Rockies, but if you have not explored the Rwenzori, you still have something wonderful to see.” Uganda has stunning wildlife parks, next time eyes on the remote Kidepo Valley. Henk & Angelique

Travel & Events 13 Aug 2015

feature: special residences in.....ireland

In our new feature we will focus on special residences in different countries and or areas, which are worthwhile to check out. Our first heading is on the beautiful and stretched Ireland. We like to introduce the privet Luggage Estate, and next week continue with the top 10 most beautiful castles and Irish lighthouses. There is no soul around in the remote Wicklow Mountains, only about 28 miles from Dublin. Nothing but stretched landscapes, rough rock formations, dark lakes and green fields. Nature at it’s best. Hidden between Sally Gap and Roundwood, in a beautiful valley, lies the famous Luggala Estate. This property was the scenery for several movies, such as Cracks, Braveheart, Excalibur, King Arthur and Casino Royale. A sober fence shows the entrance and after making a call with the manager, the world of Luggala opens its doors. After driving over small steep roads, through woods, passing wild deer’s and the big lake, the gothic façade of the Luggala Lodge (1787-1805) appears. The eccentric owner Garech Browne (1939) is one of the last heritages of the famous Guinness family. His mother received this ‘little castle’ in 1937 as a wedding present from her parents. The house is as enchanting as its green surroundings, like for instance the blue kitchen with its three meters high ceiling and decorated by white china. The house is full of classic Irish furniture, silk walls, artifacts and paintings. It contains a beautiful library with more than 15.000 books. The fire is crackling in the fireplace, where the host mainly listens to music and reads literature and poetry. There are books and papers all over the place. Garech Browne created the record label Claddagh Records in 1959 and worked with many different groups, like the Irish folk group Clannad. He himself was a member of the traditional Irish group the Chieftains. Contacts with actors and directors mainly grew because of his friendship with John Houston, who visited his parents a lot. “ I met many famous people in my life; from movie stars to writers and artists. For instance I like to chat with my neighbor and friend, John Boorman, who directed Excalibur, one of the first big knights movies. Luggala is an exceptional estate, but for me it is my home. It is where I belong. I like to receive guests and it is important to keep things going and pass through the history and the beauty of these surroundings.” Garech Browne rents his houses. In the past famous guests like Michael Jackson and Angelica Houston enjoyed the private and quietness of Luggala. In addition to the lodge (prize on request), it is also possible to rent the classic Georgian Cloghoge House (3500 euro’s a week, 8 persons). For more information: luggala.com | Ireland.com Angelique van Os

Travel & Events 07 Aug 2015

pure tip: dragon breath cave, kalahari desert

The remote Kalahari Desert breathes many secrets, mostly overground. But there are also a few very interested underground stories to reveal, such as caves like Harasib, Aigamas Cave and the Guinas Lake. One of most spectacular and mysterious caves, is without a doubt the in 1986 discovered Dragon Breath Cave, which has the largest underground non-subglacial and prehistorical lake in the world. According to scientists and divers, the lake is so large, that they have only managed to chart its depth at 300 feet. The BBC-series Africa showed beautiful shots of this magical (dark) place, with deep clear water. Because there is no sunlight at all and the temperature is stable, the cave provides the perfect condition for the very rare golden cave Catfish, Clarias Cavernicola. Next to the Aigamas Cave, this is the only known place in the world where this fish lives. It is possible to experience and to challenge a visit to this cave, but it takes a lot of planning, time and physical exercise. According to the pro's, you need a lot of equipment and quite some experience when it comes to abseiling. Then, it includes climbing, squeezing through narrow tunnels, balancing on narrow ledges and about a 100 feet drop down from the cave's roof to reach the waters below. Finally, with cave diving skills it is possible to explore all that lies beneath the surface. Underwater specialist Charles Maxwell, is one of the few people who has been involved in six cave dive expeditions. He might be a good guide for people who are looking for real adventure. For more information: check out Theo Schoemans, President of the Namibian Underwater Federation: theo@schoemans.com.na Angelique van Os

Travel & Events 05 Aug 2015

pue tip: pharmacia santa maria novella, florence

Searching from the famous piazza of Santa Maria Novella and the church of the same name, I almost passed it without noticing. Only the small sober, but chic shop window announces the fragrances, cosmetics and herbals of Officina Profumo - Pharmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Entering the shop, made a big impression, and that’s what I like most about one of my favorite cities, Firenze….. You never know what you will find behind a closed door, and that is the fun in Florence. I have visited the city many times, and almost every time I discover new things, from pallazzo’s and art from the famous Medici family, to romantic private gardens or culinary markets and cuisines. It is a treat! Again, I did not know what to expect here on Via Della Scala 16, and it was like stepping into another world, another time. The entrance is impressing with murmur colorful floors, high ceilings and classic Roman pillars. Arriving at the center of the shop, the selling room, it is like visiting a rich chapel. Actually it is quite logical, because this is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, established in 1612 by Dominican monks. It used to be a monastery, including a sacristy of the former chapel of Niccolo. Today it is also a museum (for tours make a reservation) and the back of the complex crosses the famous church. The spirit of history breathes through this impressing complex, with high ancient pharmacy cabinets, beautiful ceiling paintings, a classic tearoom and a traditional flower corner. The monks, who created highly quality formulas, are based on natural raw materials and herbs. At first these were used for medical porpoises, later on developed as cosmetic products and other preparations. The political context and connection between the Dominicans and the Medici family (Cosimo I and Ferdinand II) during the 16th and 17th century, gave the Pharmacia a boost. During the centuries different people managed to keep the tradition of the so-called ‘Royall Highness Foundry’ alive, adding new elements to the tradition of the brand. And yes, you really want to smell, sense and experience al these beautiful products, such as the classic Pot-pouri, with herbs and flowers of the Tuscan hills macerated in terracotta jars. Or sense the Acqua di Rose, the classic rose water for cosmetic use. And how about the Sapone al Melograno, soap for delicate skin. And try different Eau de colognes. It is a treat, because they all have a very explicit smell. My favorite is Angeles of Florence and I love the Jojoba Skin oil! No doubt to leave the building without a special souvenir and longing to come back to this unique place. More information about the products and history: smnovella.com Notice: There are many different stores of SM Novella in Europe (London, Moscow, Paris, Madrid, Cannes, Barcelona, a.o), the U.S.A. (LA, NY, Bal Harbour), in Cape Town, Asia (Hong Kong, Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok a.o.) and Melbourne. But the most beautiful and ancient shop is in Firenze. Angelique van Os

Travel & Events 07 Jul 2015

pure tip: romantic privet island

Just imagine: ride on the back of an elephant, strolling into azure blue water to a fairytale petit island! Swimming in a stunning infinity pool, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Get the picture? You can experience this at the south coast of Sri Lanka, at Taprobane Island. Many politicians and celebrities used to stay here and celebrate their holidays. The privet island Taprobane compromises two and a half acres of tropical garden. The house was built in the 1920s and is the only privately owned island in Sri Lanka. There are 5 en-suite bedrooms (4 doubles, 1 twin) and 5 staffed personnel takes care of everything. Dining is provided by a privet chef who creates local ingredients, fresh from the market. Want to know more?? Check: http://www.taprobaneisland.com/tour.html

Travel & Events 18 Jun 2015

personal note: myanmar's last padaung women

Henk's passion is to photograph people. Especially people who still manage to live close to nature, following century old traditions, like the last Padaung women. In 2013 we visited Myanmar, (Birma) and made a reportage for a Dutch/Flamish magazine about the impressive places and its culture, and the quick changes and increasing of tourism in Myanmar. Hence, after decades of isolation with foreign contact, the government tolerates open boarders since 2010. One of the places and cultures we want to share, is the less touristic Kayah state, and Loikaw area. Here we met some of the last Padaung women, the so-called Long necks. These traditional women are famous for wearing heavy rings around their necks, knees and sometimes arms. A lot of women fled to Thailand, because of political threats and tensions, but that is not their original habitat. In the small town of Sunboon there are about twenty females left who live by the traditional culture of their ancestors. They are between 44 and 60 years old. What do they think about the disappearance of their habits, modern generations take over? "It is a pity.; our culture, our heritage, it is all we know. Though, I understand it in a way, because it is rather tough. Some women can barely move or have problems with swallowing", says one lady. The eldest woman adds: "I got my first ring when I was five years old, now I am sixty. This belongs to me, this is who I am." The rings can weight up to 5 kilo. A misunderstanding is that many people think that these ladies have very long necks, but it is an optical deception: their shoulders are put down. Every year one gets a new ring, up to 20/25 rings. Why women wear these rings is unclear. A historical explanation is protection against tiger bites. According to the women the rings are rather a symbol for beauty and their identity. One lady also wears beautiful detailed silver ear rings: "They belonged to my great grand mother, these are my most valuable possession," she says with a warm smile. Meanwhile Henk is taking a lot of portraits of these ladies, and they have a lot of fun doing this. These women are not often photographed, some of them have never seen a camera, so they are very curious about the machine. Our interpreter is family of one of the Padaung women, so they trust us and feel comfortable. We are lucky to see these women, but actually it is really sad that more and more of these ethnic groups and tribe people disappear., because the world is changing so fast and there is no room for them to keep old traditions alive. The only thing we can do is capture their beauty, the joy they find in leading simple and pure lives. Angelique van Os (I am in the middle, second photo, together with our guide and a Padaung lady) . Henk Bothof: pics

Travel & Events 18 Jun 2015

personal note: trinity giraffe on ng calendar

I am a modest person, at least I try to be, but today I am a bit proud, because a photo of mine has been selected for the Dutch/Benelux National Geographic Calendar 2016! I took this picture when Henk and I were traveling through Namibia, in the region of Damaraland. While driving, we saw this curious group of giraffes. At a split second the trio was shaped as if they have one body, and I captured it! Hope you like the result. Angelique

Travel & Events 15 Feb 2015

personal note: baby ostrisch rescue

In the remote desert of Namibia this baby ostrisch was lucky when we passed by. The animal got stuck in a swampy mud pool and was so weakened, that it could not get out. So Henk got to the rescue! We were happy to be there in time for this big baby bird who was reunited with its parents short time after. Angelique

Travel & Events 12 Feb 2015

review: little kulala, a true oasis

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed here for a week, renting the whole lodge. After visiting this little paradise you will understand why…. On less than 50 yards away, an oryx walks through the grass, towards the high dunes, disappearing in the horizon. He shared water with ostriches, springboks and jackals at the pool near the restaurant. It is almost an unreal sight to observe this antelope, floating from a privet Jacuzzi. The oryx changes into a dot. Quietness, space and clouds fill the view. In Little Kulala, south of Namibia, this is a daily ritual. Kulala means sleeping in Oshiwambo, a local language. Dreaming might have even been more applicable, because the luxury transforms into nature. Everything about this desert resort is inextricably linked to its surrounding. From the restaurant with the high reed roof and wooden ceiling and floor, from the tree stump made railing on the veranda, to the high nature stone fire place and bar and reception which form one big piece of wood. In addition, the mystical natural interior is filled with artistic accessories, like lamps made of branches and wool pillows shaped like stones created by the wonderful South-African artist Ronel Jordaan. The eleven lodges have a typical architecture, also a mixture of natural material, like wood, reed, bamboo and Granit stones. These are also eco-lodges, heated by solar panels. Looking through a panoramic window it is what you call a ‘room with a view’; the stretched landscape is absolutely sublime. There is also an outdoor shower and sleeping among the stars is also possible: on demand the staff can organize a matrass at the roof terrace. The local friendly staff is very flexible, and can easily organize special dining requests, massages or champagne at your room. A true oasis near the gates of Sossusvlei. Little Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Sossusvlei/Naukluft Reachable by air or car. For bookings: Untamed Traveling: www.untamedtraveling.com, (0031) 0487 540367 €500 p.p.p. night (incl. food & drinks). Angelique Pics: Henk Bothof

Travel & Events 30 Jan 2015

review: mondrian soho, true fairytale

Speaking of comfort, New York has so much great hotels to offer, one can barely make a choice. We selected two ‘rising stars’ and one timeless classic, variating from fairytale settings to modern open mind and ultimate treats of hamman. We are starting with the Mondrian Soho, a true fairytale. Hidden in an alley of Spring Street, the big building is barely noticed. The gracious rusty bows of the facade are namely blending in a natural way into the street view, like it has been there forever. SoHo is one of New Yorks famous shop areas, but is also known for her solid community. Behind the facade, attention goes to the beautiful pavilion- The Garden Room-, that from the inside reminds at a fairytale ball room with a ceiling of glass, a lot of chandeliers strolling towards the entrance, the romantic bow of green leaves introduces the wonderful world of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la bete (1946). This young hotel, created by designer Benjamin Noriega-Oritz, is fully based on the fairy tale of Belle and the Beast. The beauty of the interior symbolizes Belle, whereas the beast refers to the raw city life and reality. Everything in this ‘castle’ refers to the classic story, with a modern interior design à la the painter Mondriaan. Basic colors are white and azure French blue hues, from the lobby to the penthouse at the roof. It evokes a provocative fantasy, translated to every detail, from the ground floor which even blends into the street, to fire torches, which serve as lamps and rose motives at the walls, referring to this fairytale theme. Restaurant Imperial no. Nine, next to the Garden Room where Belle and the Beast fall in love, has a three dimensional atmosphere, because of optical deception by mirrors. The restaurant is famous for its fish specialties. There are also well known cocktails on the menu of John Lermayer, one of the specialties of the Morgans Hotel Group, what also counts for its breath taking views. The hotel has 270 guestrooms and there are several floors that have roof terraces, fine decorated with chique and classy launch furniture. Rooms 1804 (Deluxe room) and 1807 are one of the pearls with their perfect viewings: 10-foot floor- to ceiling glass windows. From your bath tub you look straight to Fifth Ave. Who wants to escape from the busy city, can experience a true fairytale here. Tip At the top floor of the Mondrian Soho it is possible to organize weddings or parties. There are also business meetings at this floor, which makes negotiations easy, surrounded by the NY skyline. Price From $319 per night (Superior Queen) up to $1800 per night (Penthouse) To book Address: 9 Crosby Street, NY 10013| 212 3891000 / 00800 4969 177O www.morganshotelgroup.com Angelique van Os

Travel & Events 02 Jan 2015

travel tiip: wilderness and untamed traveling

Pure off the Road traveled to Namibia with Wilderness, a big tour operator in Southern Africa, who is cooperating with the Dutch travel agency Untamed Traveling. First mentioned, has a staff of mainly local people who are working on an honest and sustainable way and fighting for the conservation of flora en fauna. They have their own Children of the Wilderness and Wildlife Trust foundation, focusing on wildlife projects, educational research and management. The organization used to run the only Concession at Skeleton Coast, which is 200 km long and 40 km broad. You can only reach this by airplane and the accommodation has room for only twelve guests. Some other accommodations are the Desert Rhino Camp (Damaraland) and extraordinary Little Kulala. Check our pics and the next blog! For more information and bookings about the lodges and traveling to Namibia check: Untamed Traveling, www.untamedtraveling.com, Zelksestraat 10, 6631 KE Horssen, The Netherlands (0031) 0487 540367. Angelique van Os Henk Bothof

Travel & Events 02 Jan 2015

editorial, introducing the team

We, Dutch photographer Henk Bothof & journalist Angelique van Os, are thrilled to share our blogs with you. With our stories, we want to show the beauty of nature, landscapes, culture and people to promote tourism. We also write about people who and sustainable subjects which bring hope for the future. Finally, we search for inside out stories with locals who are important for their community, and in cities who know the art, music and food scene by heart, showing and sharing the most exclusive places. So please join the experience with us! And if you have any tips, don't hesitate to contact us Cheers! Henk & Angelique

Travel & Events 02 Jan 2015

reportage: save the rhino, namibia

Save the Rhino, tracking with rangers “Look, there is a fresh trail over here. The print is deep and without any brushes. The toes are pointing to the north, and the dung is fresh. You can smell it”, says tracker Martin Nawaseb, pointing at the ground. “Look at this broken branch. There has been a rhino recently here.” We are walking and driving through the hilly savanna and yellow green desert, which are surrounded by a wide landscape of Table Mountains and inactive crates. This is Damaraland National Park, some hours south from the Clay Castles, and about 150 miles above Swakopmund, Namibia. The park is the homeland of the black rhino, which we are trying to track. The local trackers, Martin Nawaseb, Denzel Tjiraso and Victor Useb are monitoring the rhino’s on a daily bases. They have given the animals names and observe their social behaviors. They all know them by heart, because every time a rhino is spot, they draw their externality. The rangers are working for Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) and cooperating with The Ministry of tourism and surroundings and Wilderness, a tourism operator who is supporting several nature conservation projects. According to a critical article of National Geographic, printed in 2012, around 400 black rhino’s were killed in 2011 in Southern Africa because of poaching. Due to the successful cooperation between Wilderness, SRT and the government, the population in Damaraland is increasing and has been doubled since the 1980’s. Because poachers are still active, interest groups are careful showing the exact amount of rhino’s that live in this area. The compact Desert Rhino Camp of tourism organization Wilderness, exists since 2003, and is part of the Palmwag-concession, which has a size of 1365km2. They allow visitors to do a rhino tracking only four days a week. The car is driving around one of the four water pools, where rhino’s might come. More traces. The trackers are following the bumpy sand road, but suddenly the traces disappear in the high grass. Victor and Denzel jump off the jeep. Both are walking a different direction, checking the shape of the tracks which trace they should follow. Little by little they are getting grip; after one hour Victor reaches for his binoculars. “He has to be here somewhere…yes, look, at the end of the bush!” The trackers are getting into the car, excited that they found a big male, called Ben. When a rhino runs, it can easily get a speed of 50 miles; the rangers do not take any risk to loose the bull. “This is an aggressive male, we have to be careful,” whispers Denzel. About 100 meters the rhino smells its company, and moves towards us with big steps. “In the car, now!” says Victor, when Big Ben is running towards the car within just 60 meters. Martin takes care for some distraction, by putting him self a bit further in the field. Ben appears very aggressively towards Martin at only 40 meters, scratching its legs into the sand. Martin stands mouse-still. He knows exactly how the animal will react and that he will run after making some threatened movements. Though, the adrenaline is rising, because the colossus is very near. After a minute Ben gives up, and indeed runs off in a trot. What an experience! When Ben’s silhouette disappears at the horizon, the trackers note his character. Back at Desert Rhino Camp, nature conservator and Wilderness manager Chris Bakkes, is joining us. After several jobs as an anti-poach ranger for the South-African Kruger Park, among others, and wondering though Southwest Africa after he lost his arm because of a crocodile bite, his full attention goes to the conservation of the Namib parks. “You know, the biggest problem in Africa is that the wild has too little living space. It is not about which species live there, it is about the habitat which is available or which has to be created. The black rhino, elephants and cheetah need big life surfaces. Only one rhino can move around 10.000 hectares. We have around 1,4 million hectares, so fortunately this is a good breeding ground. A good habitat is the future that is why animal spieces survive. I am glad that the time of poaching is behind me, I do not want to go back to the Kruger or Ethosha, and it is a zoo. This is the real wilderness. There are no fences or asphalt roads. This is pure nature.” Angelique van Os &  Henk Bothof

Travel & Events 02 Jan 2015

short reportage: silence at clay castles, namibia

There is no windy breeze, no singing birds, and no sound at all. Nothing but sand and clay, surrounded by big basalts and dark rocks. The sun shines brightly, burns almost. Your own breath is the only sound you will hear around the phenomenal Clay Castles of Skeleton Coast. Around the Hoarusib River, at the north of Namibia, there are dozens of clay castles, which are ten thousands years old, and tens of meters high. They are hidden in several narrow gorges around the river bend. This unique natural phenomenon was formed due to sand and water, which were blowing into the gorges and stopped by dune walls. From here little lakes developed, which through years of rain fall, built layer for layer clay substance to finally form the so-called Clay Castles. The question is how long this fragile substance will stay intact because of the increasing rain and erosion. Because of its isolated location there are barely any tourists around here, so who wants to enjoy a moment of total silence and Zen, have to experience this.  Angelique van Os & Henk Bothof