5 Ways to see the ‘Real’ Cape Town

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Guest post by Christopher Clark.


I left my native Britain for South Africa’s Mother City back in 2009 thinking I might hang around for a few months and play a bit of cricket.

Suddenly it’s 2014, I’m still here and I haven’t picked up my cricket bat once (apart from the time I thought someone was breaking into my flat). I don’t really know how it all happened, but I’ve certainly got the Cape Town bug alright.

Here are a few of my recommendations on how to fall in love with my adopted city:


1.) Party in a township

Many of the tourists that come to Cape Town leave with a pretty limited view of what the city really is. They see the plush restaurants and hotels at the V&A Waterfront and Camps Bay, take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, hit a few nice beaches, then head home with a suitcase full of overpriced carved wooden elephants and tell everyone that the road surfaces were surprisingly good.

However, the overwhelming majority of Cape Town’s residents inhabit a pretty different world. That world is broadly referred to as the Cape Flats, and constitutes the range of largely-impoverished informal settlements and townships that sprawl beyond the city proper. For me, the best and easiest way to experience a fun slice of this other side of Cape Town life is to head to Mzoli’s Place in the township of Gugulethu.

Cape Flats

Cape Flats. Photo: flickr, Chris Preen.


Mzoli’s is essentially a (not very) glorified butchery. You buy your raw meat over the counter, take it out to a dark cavern full of wood fires at the back, then go find a seat under the canopy outside until it’s done. While you wait you can go and buy drinks from across the road, where a number of local residents’ houses serve as makeshift bars and bottle shops. Read More »


Introducing New tripwolf Maps: Sharper, Smoother, Wider!

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Hello, dear current and future tripwolves!

My name is Matej. I am an Android developer here at tripwolf, and it is a pleasure to introduce to you a major update of our Android app (which will soon be available for iOS, too).

I am especially happy that I personally had the chance to work on a major overhaul of one very important feature in our app and bring it much closer to its full potential.

The feature I’m talking about is our map.




A good map with offline support is without a doubt one of the most important tools in any would-be traveler’s virtual backpack. Anyone who has ever found themselves lost in an unfamiliar city will surely agree, especially late at night or in the early morning hours, with only the town drunk around to ask for directions. We all know that always ends well.

Out with the old, in with the new, goes the saying, and what better way to introduce you to our new map than by comparing it to the old one.

So what have we improved? The answer is, A LOT:


1. Vector maps – virtually limitless detail

The old map rendering technology we used was entirely based on images, which means that the map was divided into a grid, and each square was filled with an actual image tile representing that geographical area at the current zoom level. This could mean hundreds of small images, multiplied further by the number of zoom levels, because every level has its own set of tiles to show you more or less detail depending on how far away from the surface you are. That’s why loading the map becomes sluggish, as does panning and zooming.

Our new maps are vector-based, which means that most of the information, such as streets, buildings, bodies of water, and so on, is not in the form of images but shapes, defined mathematically and drawn in real time. This makes loading much faster, because we don’t load actual images, just the information that tells the shapes on the map how they should be drawn. This is why you will be able to zoom seamlessly in and out without losing sight of the map, and also pan and move around the map smoothly, even on slower phones.


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The new maps feel much more responsive. You don’t have to take my word for it — try it out for yourself.


2. Optimized for high resolution screens

One major weakness of the old system we used was that the texts, including street names, were barely readable on devices with high-resolution screens unless you zoomed in extremely close. The reason for this was the fixed resolution of the images, which was relatively small by today’s standards. This looked acceptable on lower to medium-resolution screens but pretty bad on high-res ones.

Our new map features crystal clear, perfectly readable street names, regardless of the screen resolution or the zoom level. This is thanks to the fact that the size at which elements of the map are rendered is actually based on the pixel density (number of pixels per inch) of the screen you have, so it will scale optimally to show you exactly what you want to see, whether your device screen’s resolution is 480p (Samsung Galaxy S2) or 1080p (Google Nexus 5). This clarity extends to every other element of the map, not only the street names. Zoom in as close as you want, and every element of the map will be just as clear as it was before.


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Screenshots of the old and new maps at the same zoom level and on the same device


3. Powerful offline maps

With the old system, we were always constrained by the file size of the maps, and this was especially painful for country maps, which typically cover a large area, so more often than not we had to sacrifice how far in you were able to zoom to keep the size reasonable. As I mentioned earlier, one of the major advantages of a vector-based map is that we can now have more information within the same file size or sometimes even a smaller file size. That doesn’t mean that the map downloads will aways be smaller and faster, because we are making sure that you get the best possible offline map experience available and that once you download one of our maps, you never have to look back. You will be able to zoom in as close as you want and see the smallest details, even on the largest country maps, without any roaming costs, just as if you were online. Another notable improvement is the fact that you can choose, within our country and region guides, to download only individual areas of a country or region map, such as specific cities or subregions.


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Available maps for the Germany guide


One last neat feature I want to mention here, which can be useful when looking at the map and trying to reach some point of interest while walking through a city, is the fact that you can now make the map follow your location and point of view. Press the “Locate me” button in the top right corner of the map once, wait for it to center on your location, then press it again and the map will start following your point of view, indicated by a transparent blue cone. As you walk, the map will be centered at your current location and will rotate as you turn, so it always shows what is right ahead of you.

I hope you have found this short overview of the new map technology in this version of the tripwolf Android app useful and that you are as excited about it as we are! Of course, this is just the start and the new maps will be available for iOS soon as well.

As always, give the new version a try, leave a comment here, a rating or a review on our Play Store page, or just send us a feedback e-mail and let us know what you think.

And remember, every bit of your feedback helps us make the app better!

Until next time,





Start the perfect summer with tripwolf Unlimited!

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The summer is coming, and we tripwolves feel it already: slowly we awaken from our winter slumber and feel the initial excitement at the thought of the many wonderful trips and experiences that the summer will bring.

In the past year, more than 5,000 of our users have opted for the tripwolf Unlimited package. This shows us quite clearly that our users are curious and wish to learn a great deal about the destinations they visit. For those who are not yet aware of the package, we would like to call your attention to something:




Through May 25 — that is, for 9 more days — you can purchase the tripwolf Unlimited package for about $21 cheaper at a price of $33.99, before we raise the price to $54.99. Once you do that you will be well prepared for your summer trips and can read more than 500 guidebooks as the need arises.

The tripwolf Unlimited package is currently available in the tripwolf app for iPhone, iPad, and Android and includes all guides that currently exist and that will come out in the future. Guides that have already been loaded can be updated anytime, free of charge. Since hard drive space is precious, the guides may be erased as often as you like and then downloaded again.

As always, you can use the same package on multiple devices. Simply log on to any device with the same App Store / Play Store, select the package and confirm the purchase. The App Store / Play Store will recognize your purchase and activate unlimited access to the guide.

As always, you can leave feedback here or you can send a message to mobile@tripwolf.com.

We always look forward to nice reviews in the App Store / Play Store too, of course!

Have fun on your summer travels!

The tripwolf Team


Here you can download the tripwolf app:




TRIPCONTEST 2014: Make your dream vacation come true!

Filed under Win stuff
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Most of us have a long travel bucket list, on which it’s always satisfying to write a line through entries. And at the top of this list is the ultimate destination, the dream trip par excellence.

We want to know: What is the non plus ultra of destinations for you? Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or a safari in Kenya? Or maybe a trip to New York? Let us know and we will support your travel dream with the corresponding tripwolf travel guide!




From today through May 16, our trip contest will be taking place on Facebook and Twitter. Here is how it works:


1. “Like” tripwolf on Facebook

2. Post a status with the hashtags #tripcontest2014 and #tripwolf in which you name your top destination and reveal why you would like to have our guide! Please make sure that the status is set to “public,” otherwise we won’t be able to see it.

3. Encourage your friends to support you with Likes, comments, and shares; the five posts with the strongest reactions will receive their desired guide!



1. Follow @tripwolf on Twitter

2. Write a tweet with the hashtags #tripcontest2014 and #tripwolf, in which you name your top destination and reveal why you would like to have our guide!

3. Encourage your friends to support you with retweets, favoriting, and replies; the five tweets with the strongest reactions will receive their desired guide!


Sounds pretty easy, huh? It is! Of course you can you decide if you’d prefer to participate on Facebook or Twitter. We are excited to find out what destinations are the most popular! If you have any questions, you simply write to a.bottmann@tripwolf.com or leave a comment!


Travel Blogger of the month: La Carmina

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One thing is for sure: La Carmina leaves a deep impression. Our travel blogger of the month of May doesn’t only attract attention with her extravagant Goth-inspired style, she also casts a different light on the seemingly common places she travels to. Fashion, travel, subcultures, art – whoever thinks these elements can’t be combined should definitely have a look at La Carmina’s travel blog!

La Carmina, travel blogger, travel blog

La Carmina, our Travel Blogger of the month May. Photo: La Carmina.


Describe shortly: what is your blog about? Where are you from and where do you live?
If you’re intrigued by Harajuku girls style, Bangkok nightlife, and Berlin music festivals – then I have a feeling you’ll like my La Carmina blog. It’s a photo-packed chronicle of my eccentric travels worldwide, with a focus on alternative culture and fashion. In addition to blogging, I’m also a travel TV host and writer. Perhaps you’ve seen my book about cute-decorated food, or my appearances on Bizarre Foods, World’s Weirdest Restaurants, Taboo and more television shows. I’m from Vancouver, Canada and live out of my suitcase. Read More »


5 Great Road Trip Routes

Filed under Adventure, general
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You just left the city miles behind, now pristine landscapes are passing by your windows. The fellow passenger is sitting next to you with a map spread on her lap. In the faint light of the car cockpit and with squinted eyes, she is trying to find the correct motorway exit.

There is as many facets of travel styles as there are of travelers. Each way of traveling has its upsides and downsides — and there is hardly one that makes you feel as free and spontaneous as the classical road trip. It does not really matter if you rent a car (mostly affordable these days) or drive your own vehicle to the destination. Traveling with a VW van (or anything similar) is especially stylish, as it can be transformed into a minimalistic camping van if necessary.

Foto: flickr, Zach Dischner

Photo: flickr, Zach Dischner


It is advisable to have an approximate itinerary, but not absolutely necessary. If you like a place a lot, why not just stay there a little longer? And if you’d like to leave earlier than expected you could definitely squeeze in that nice little town that just didn’t fit into your travel itinerary initially.

We have collected a few suggestions for great road trip routes for you, convincing either through beautiful landscapes or diverse, interesting stopovers — or both. Of course, the possibilities are infinite. Help us complete the list by telling us about the road trips you are planning to take or have already taken! Read More »


Rome and the Sweet Life

Filed under general, Italy
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Take us with you to the Italian capital and get all the suggestions in tripwolf’s Rome travel guide for your journey – through Monday, it is available at 60% off!


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All roads lead to Rome – that motto should apply at least once in the life of every traveler! The Eternal City offers, in addition to colossal world history and culinary delights, all kinds of architectural and cultural highlights that sooner or later attract a great many travelers to the Italian capital.

Foto: flickr, Josemanuelerre

Photo: flickr, Josemanuelerre


Rome in May

The best time to open up Rome is right now. While the high temperatures of the summer can make a stroll through the city a little stressful, in May one can explore the city pleasantly at reasonable temperatures. For example, at about 20 degrees C (68 F), you can comfortably enjoy the wide selection of culinary attractions the city has to offer in sidewalk cafes and on restaurant terraces, all without breaking a sweat. Read More »


Top 5 peaceful destinations in India to flush your stress

Filed under Adventure, India, National Parks
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Guest article by Anshul Srivastava.


India is the country that boasts several entrancing tourist destination offering outstanding picturesque panoramas. On the other hand, the real challenge is to find a place at which the environs are extremely serene. The major tourist spots are usually jammed with time, for the reason that each tourist wants to take a sight of such areas. However, if you are looking for the most tranquil places to spend a quality vacation and flush out the stress of the hectic routine, the below listed are the options just right for you.


Set yourself amid the fascinating landscapes in Nubra Valley, Ladakh

Positioned on the northern edge in the map of India, Nubra Valley in Ladakh is a highly secluded place that has become accessible to the travelers in recent times. This place can be reached only by passing Khardung La, which is one of the utmost mountain passes throughout the globe. This place is in the close proximity from the highest battlefield in the world. Even then, this valley and its surroundings are tranquil and calm, with spreading meadows, flowers, fields and welcoming people. For staying in Nubra, you need a permit, which is given for the maximum duration of a week. On making a trip to this scenic place, you will witness the intense quietude.


Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Photo: flickr, shankii

Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Photo: flickr, shankii

Read More »


Losing Track of Time in Tofo, Mozambique

Filed under Africa, Diving, Guest articles, Snorkelling
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Guest post by Christopher Clark.


You cross an arbitrary and essentially imaginary line and, suddenly, everything is different. Rarely had this feeling been more pronounced than when the bus carried me across the border between South Africa and Mozambique, on its way from Johannesburg to Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.

The undulating sing song sounds of African Portuguese quickly replaced any trace of South African English; I left my name behind on one side of the border and picked up a new name on the other. The currency was different, the people looked different too, so did the products being sold at the liquor stores and food stalls. Even the terrain changed. For some hours, we had been cutting like a dagger through the low, golden savanna of South Africa’s Kruger National Park; now all around me were dense swathes of green palms and jungle marshland. It was hotter, more humid.

I was excited.

A Crumbling Colonial Capital

We left the border behind and arrived in Maputo in the early evening with the sun just beginning to set – a hazy pink hue was being drawn like a blanket over the city and a light sea breeze whispered through the tree-lined streets.

Having thrown down my bags in a popular and social backpackers named Fatima’s, I set out in search of food with a couple of other Englishmen I had just met. As we walked through the cobbled streets of the old town, it all felt very Mediterranean with the numerous Portuguese colonial structures coloring the city in summery pinks and oranges. Travelling through Africa is always an interesting lesson in colonial architecture, though many of the buildings in Maputo were not in the best condition and clearly bore the scars of previous decades of civil war and a still struggling economy.

Photo: Jo Barr.

Photo: Jo Barr.


We bought beautiful, fresh prawns and barracuda at the large and bustling central fish market, where you can then take your purchases to one of the eating houses around the periphery of the market and have it cooked for you with local spices, lemon, butter and garlic. This is certainly worth the small extra fee. Read More »


Packing for Multiple People

Filed under general, Travel Tips
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Someday, my kids will be able to pack for our travels themselves. Until that day, however, I’m responsible for making sure that my girls have enough clothing. (My husband contributes, of course, but I care more about matchy-matchy clothing aesthetics than he does.) On two memorable occasions I have forgotten pants for our youngest and pajamas for our oldest. Since then I decided to get really organized. Here’s a breakdown of how I pack for our family of four.

1. Lists, a smartphone, and more lists

Getting ready means first sitting down with a weather report and our itinerary. How many days? How active will we be? What specialty items do we need? Then I open up Google Keep on my laptop. Google Keep is a note-taking app; you can use the free-form template and the checklist template. I use the checklist feature to build several packing lists: one for the girls’ clothes, one for me, one for electronics, one for dry toiletries and medical items, one for liquid items (as those have to be packed separately), and one for snacks. I like having a small stockpile of familiar, high-protein dry snacks for the airplane or if we’re going to be in a car or coach for a long time.

Being organized is everything. Photo: flickr, opoponax

Being organized is everything. Photo: flickr, opoponax


The great thing about doing Google Keep lists on my laptop is that it automatically syncs to the Google Keep app on my phone. I have my phone with me in the staging area and can add items on the fly, which is important if I’m still laundering some of the clothes or need to buy anything for the upcoming trip.

Wait, what’s a staging area? On to step two.

2. Staging your stuff matters

Our three backpacks get laid out in a row. There’s my 40L bag, dimensions approved for even the stingiest budget airline; Kid 1′s 18L pack, complete with waist and sternum clips; and Kid 2′s 12L, which is purple just like Dora the Explorer’s bag. If it doesn’t fit in these three bags–or if the bag, when packed, is too heavy for our children to carry–we cull until it does. In front of those bags go the packing cubes. We each have our own color cube. Clothing is folded in stacks in front of the packing cube until everything is accumulated. Toiletries go to the side. Everything is in neat rows. The packing cubes and toiletry kits are not zipped to go until every item on the checklist that’s supposed to be put inside have been acquired. They get put in the backpacks, and then the backpacks aren’t zipped to go until they’re fully packed–usually not until the last moment.

The important thing is that everything is laid out neatly so you can see what needs to go where. And don’t worry, we don’t make the two-year-old carry her own clothes–too heavy! Her bag, which she usually carries proudly, is our lightweight diaper bag.

3. Make separate piles for the airplane

Off to the side of the staging area, I make piles for the airplane. Those piles are the outfits we’ll be wearing on the plane (lots of light, stretchy layers to accommodate temperature variations), extra outfits (kids are messy, ok?), diapering supplies for the little one who isn’t quite toilet trained but who is well on her way, our snacks, and some airplane entertainment items. We plan to put those things in bags that will go under the seat because there’s nothing worse than realizing you need someone’s fresh outfit ASAP and it’s a few rows away in the overhead storage. The diaper bag is fairly lightweight and easy for our two year old to carry for half an hour while we get through the airport.

Nothing guarantees a smooth trip with kids. The flight is usually physically taxing for everyone, and the change in routine can ripple out into your child’s behavior in ways you can’t anticipate. But organization, efficiency, and prior planning make for calm, happy adults, and that attitude will ripple out to the children’s behavior as well.

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