Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Hermanus whale-watching and the Northern Cape, South Africa – Oct 2011

October has been a manic month.  Katherine’s arrival from Kenya proved to be the catalyst for an admin-filled couple of weeks as we searched for a new home in Cape Town, while simultaneously organising phones, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance, jobs and all the rest of that ‘fun’ stuff.

Anyway, after a couple of frantic weeks, we seem to have made good headway and are already feeling decidedly more settled (if somewhat exhausted as well).  Today we signed a lease on a lovely little two-bedroom apartment on Beach Road in Sea Point with awesome sea views and two balconies for my braais!  It has all the potential to become a great new base for us, as we start the newest chapter of our life together in Cape Town.

We did manage to sneak in a long weekend away with mates to check out the whales off the coast of Hermanus (www.hermanus.co.za/whales.asp).  It was a fun-filled and action-packed couple of days with lots of exercise, beach time, whale-spotting walks and rugby watching: an all round super-cool weekend away with good friends.

Tomorrow we depart on our much anticipated trip to the parks of the Northern Cape and Namibia.  First stop is Mokala (www.sanparks.org/parks/mokala/) where South Africa’s newest national park has already carved out a reputation as a stronghold and breeding ground for endangered herbivores and I look forward to discovering more about this little-known park, which lies a stone’s throw from Kimberly.

After three nights in Mokala, we head to the Kgalagadi (www.sanparks.org/parks/kgalagadi/) for the last week of October.  The Kalahari thirst-lands are undoubtedly my favourite wilderness area in South Africa.  It has been six long years since I last visited this iconic national park and I am extremely excited to finally be headed back there.

After reacquainting myself with the Kalahari, magazine assignments will take me into Namibia.  The trip will predominantly focus on the NamibRand Nature Reserve and Sossusvlei area, although it looks like we will also manage to squeeze in a couple of days in Swakopmund and a six-day river trip down the Orange River on our way home.

With so much to look forward to … this hardly classifies as ‘another tough month in Africa’!

Cape Town and the Otter Trail Run, South Africa – September 2011

After an incredible 9.5 years living abroad, I arrived in Cape Town on Thursday the 8th of September ready to embark on the next exciting chapter in Katherine and my life together. The first couple of weeks back home were dominated by admin, buying a car, researching apartments and where we want to live, meeting with my magazine editors and, of course, catching up with friends and family.

After a couple of weeks of writing magazine stories, proofing articles and fine-tuning the itinerary for next month’s Northern Cape and Namibian sojourn, the month concluded in fine style when I travelled up the Garden Route on a much-anticipated assignment to compete in and cover the gruelling Otter Trail Run (www.theotter.co.za). Dubbed the Grail of Trail, this brutal 42km full trail marathon weaves its way along the very same route of the legendary Otter Trail – South Africa’s most iconic and spectacular hiking trail – as it traverses the rugged coastline and fords the rivers of the majestic Tsitsikamma National Park.

On the morning of Friday September 30th, two hundred endurance athletes and one pretender (me) gathered in the inky blackness below a star-studded sky at Storms River mouth for the Otter Run: undoubtedly one of the hardest and simultaneously most incredible events I’ve ever competed in. Nervous tension mingled with an electric atmosphere in the cool morning air ahead of first light. As dawn broke on a picture-perfect day, we set off running through indigenous coastal forests, into deep ravines, over imposing mountains and across the fynbos-clad slopes of the Garden Route National Park, before overcoming one final obstacle – a precariously unstable floating bridge – to finally finish at De Vasselot campsite in Nature’s Valley.

Returning from his epic victory in the gruelling Leadville 100 mile ultra marathon in America, Ryan Sandes, the soft-spoken trail runner extraordinaire, dominated what was arguably the greatest trail running field ever assembled on South African soil to clinch first place in Africa’s premier off-road running event to clinch the coveted Grail. Shaving an impressive seven minutes off André Gie’s record, Sandes finished in a blistering 4h40m.  I staggered over the line two-and-a-half hours later in around 110th place, but, thankfully, well within the eight hour cut-off time.

October is looking like it should be a good month with spring in the air, Katherine returning from Kenya and an exciting magazine assignment to the Northern Cape and Namibia on the horizon. Here’s holding thumbs that the Springboks can play out their boots at the Rugby World Cup and turn a good October into a month to remember … Go bokke!

Back to Africa, South Africa & Mozambique – April 2010

April was a truly memorable month jam-packed with weddings, travels and quality time catching up with friends and family.  There have been so many exciting experiences and great moments during the course of this month that it’s really difficult to do them all justice in this short blog, but I’ll give it a try…

The month kicked off with my sister Carolyn marrying Jean Marc Gaudin at Suikerbossie Restaurant in Cape Town.  A memorable evening of drinking and dancing provided an excellent catalyst for bringing our extended family back together from their various far-flung corners of the world.  The nerve-wracking job of being MC aside, it proved to be a very happy and fun-filled evening.

The following day I flew up to Johannesburg and travelled on to Mozambique for another wedding.  A good friend from Stellenbosch University, Garth Kingwill, was getting married in Tofu Mozambique.  We managed to squeeze in some superb diving with whale sharks and manta rays, but, in essence, Mozambique turned into a weeklong bachelor party with all our old Hombre Koshuis friends.  The week culminated in a rip-roaring wedding celebration that spilled out onto the beach in the early hours of the morning.  A superb reunion with old uni friends that we’ll all remember forever.

Upon my return from Mozambique, I managed to squeeze in one day of work in Joburg and had two very productive meetings with African Parks Network and &Beyond (formerly CCAfrica) before rushing back to Cape town to meet all of our American family who had just arrived on their first two-week holiday to visit darkest Africa!

The next two weeks were planned as a non-stop South African extravaganza aimed at providing all the visiting family with the quintessential South African experience.  The trip kicked off with five days in a house on Llandudno beach that provided the ideal base from which to explore Cape Town, climb Table Mountain, visit Robben Island and take a tour of the townships.  The next stop was luxurious Burgundy Bourgogne in Franchhoek for fine dining, wine tasting and Katherine and my South African wedding celebration at Cathbert Country Inn (www.cathbert.co.za).  After a short blessing ceremony amongst the vines, we enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon surrounded by all our closest friends and family.  The beautiful location, amazing food, great wine, good music and perfect weather resulted in a ‘garden party’ that lasted twelve hours!

A quiet Sunday allowed some recovery time before we headed for the game reserves and four days of outstanding game viewing in Addo Elephant National Park.  Memorable wildlife viewing included hundreds of elephants, along with a good hyaena sighting and lions feeding on a kudu!  With plenty of boerewors (farmer’s sausage) on the braai (barbeque) every night, this really was proving to be the ultimate South African experience for all the visitors.  After a last few days spent on the canals at Saint Francis it was time for all the family members to dodge the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud and take a long flight back to the USA bringing down the curtain on a thoroughly enjoyable and action-packed South African extravaganza!

Katherine and I flew from the Eastern Cape to the Lowveld where we joined two of my oldest friends for another week in the African bush.  We were treated to a very relaxing and indulgent holiday in the northern Sabi Sands Game Reserve.  In between all the beers and good food we saw great wildlife, including more leopards than you could poke a stick at…  Wow, wow, wow!  However, above all else, our time at Cruise Camp provided a great opportunity to catch up with friends, reflect on the last month and process a long list of back-to-back experiences that will, over time, become those special memories that last a lifetime.

In summation April has been an insanely enjoyable and action-packed month of weddings and travels with great friends and family.  I got married for the second time in less than a year (but to the same lovely lady!) and I managed to squeeze in just one day of work this month, which in itself tells the story of just how much fun its been…

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