by Amanda DiGiondomenico
To celebrate that extra day we’ve been granted this leap year, many travel destinations — from Orlando to South Africa – are trying to make those extra 24 hours worth your while. Instead of wasting away your leap day, let these 5 travel ideas inspire you to make the day something to remember.
One More Disney Day
For starters, Disney wants your leap day to be extra magical, so they are officially calling leap day, “One More Disney Day.” To commemorate the day, Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando’s Disney World and Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, will be open 24 hours straight. Once the gates open at 6 a.m. on Feb. 29, Mickey fans can have the run of the park until the rides shut down at 6 a.m. on March 1. The lines will probably be short in the wee hours of the morning, offering maximum opportunities to ride.
Leap at Martha’s Vineyard
If peace and quiet are more your speed, then head to Martha’s Vineyard for a little rest and relaxation. But don’t take yourself too seriously there; at the Vineyard Square Hotel you can score a free bottle of wine if you bring a photograph of yourself leaping over something. So let loose, find the closest leap-able object and bring someone who has a camera.
There are a wide variety of foods available in South Africa, from indigenous Khoisan, Xhosa and Zulu foods, to spicy Indian cuisine brought over with thousands of Indian workers in the 19th century, to plenty of colonial Afrikaans dishes, too. You’ll find something delicious for all tastes and budgets.
At the high end, there are many 5-star restaurants to get any hardcore foodie excited, such as Le Quartier Francais. Included in many top 50 and top 10 lists for restaurants around the world, the restaurant’s multi-course meals will please your taste buds as well as your eyes. One bite of its beetroot sponge with cucumber-dill granita and yogurt will have you longing for more.
At the low end, bunny chow is found in many South African towns with a strong Indian population. It’s a spicy meat or vegetable curry served in a bowl made from a white bread loaf. A great late-night snack to satisfy your hunger. READ MORE
I’m one really lucky guy. At least that’s what my sangoma tells me. What is a sangoma, you might ask? A traditional Nguni healer, seer, counselor and shaman. The native peoples of South Africa have been practicing the profession for thousands of years and many still do today. While visiting Khula, a rural Zulu township on the outskirts of St. Lucia, I was invited into the home of the local sangoma to consult with my ancestral spirits.
Men always enter the sacred ndumba (healing hut) before the women, in order to protect against snakes. Luckily, the small thatched room was snake-free. Once seated inside, I was given a smoldering bundle of Imphepho (perennial herb) twigs and was told to inhale the smoke while reciting my name. This ritual act would summon my ancestors with whom the sangoma would consult. READ MORE
When you think of great wine, does South Africa come to mind? I’m certainly no wine expert. But a recent visit to the winelands around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch outside of Cape Town gave me a renewed respect for this age-old alcoholic beverage. South Africa’s wine-making traditions are actually much older than those of Napa Valley in California. The fertile, rust-colored African soil has been producing delicious reds and whites for hundreds of years.
I decided to spend a whole afternoon tasting many varieties of South African wine at 2 different estates, both with surreal landscapes. Row upon row of vibrant green vines spread out in all directions, while majestic mountains off in the distance rose up to touch the sky. It’s hard to imagine a better wine-tasting setting than this! READ MORE
South Africa has a serious problem that’s spiraling out of control. Fluffy, lovable, tuxedo-wearing balls of feather are on the loose. Think you’re immune from the charms of an African Penguin? So did I. But after strolling along the bright turquoise-blue waters around Simon’s Town, I quickly discovered how wrong I was.
Hundreds of these funny birds line the white sand of Boulders Beach, sunbathing in style and protecting their eggs. Normally penguins would have been the last animal I expected to find in Africa. But there they were directly in front of me! Did you know African penguins like to sing too? Unfortunately their songs sound like a cross between a donkey and a kazoo. But don’t tell them that to their faces, as they are easily offended. READ MORE