Tuesday, 30 September 2008

AdventureAscapades.co.za All Aboard

Being keen Adventure Activity enthusiasts ourselves, one of the frustrations we often encountered was that there was no quick, easy and user friendly method of determining what activities are available, specific to the areas we found ourselves traveling to. We launched our AdventureEscapades.co.za project, two years ago, with the goal of creating South Africa’s most comprehensive on-line adventure activity portal or guideline. As I write, we have 864 listed activities with numbers growing daily. Our site traffic has also now reached levels we would not have imagined, one year ago.

It has thus far been a really exciting ride literally and figuratively, and we have met some amazing characters along the way. I cannot emphasize enough how incredible the people are we have onboard, and what great adventure personalities they have all turned out to be.

We take this opportunity to acknowledge and welcome our newest FLAGSHIP additions:

African Reptile and Venom
African Reptile and Venom African Safaris
Cyclone Extreme, Big Bay
Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park

Hartbeespoort Dam, Snake and Animal Park
Hartbeespoort Dam, Snake and Animal Park, Dam Cruises
Isle of Capri, Harbour Cruises
Kyalami Kart Circuit
Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, Guided Soweto Cycle Tours
Livingstone Trails
Orlando Towers Vertical Adventure Centre
Over the Top Adventures
Paintball City
Point Blank Paintball
Retro Bike Hire
Segway KZN
Skydive KZN
Tandem Skydiving Adventures
The Woods Paintball
Wonderwall, Indoor Climbing Gym.

From the team at AdventurEscapades.co.za, A big THANK YOU to ALL our clients, and to let you know that nothing gives us more pleasure than seeing the amount of booking enquires and leads that are now coming through the backend, its great to see it working for you.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Paintball: Speedball vs Bushball

I recently authored a Bushball vs Paintball paragraph to appear on the “Point Blank Paintball” AdventureEscapades.co.za listing page, explaining as best I could, the not so subtle differences between Speedball and Bushball with respect to the two disciplines, paintball presents us with.

Firstly, let me clarify upfront, I am by no stretch of the imagination a paintball expert. I have played it a few times, do thoroughly enjoy it, and will be the first to recommend it to anybody, so when reading, please keep in mind that my opinions aren’t those of a connoisseur.

Busball Vs Paintball

These represent two contrasting variations of paintball activity, each with its own set of rules and skill requirements. Speedball is essential played on an open course where barriers are set up in strategic configuration and is essentially about advancing forward in high pressure rapid fire situations, whereas Bushball, played in open bush, is more hide hunt and anticipation, both make for tremendous fun. Of the two, Speedball is all out action played at high pace, it encourages players to develop their shooting skills and builds character by simulating war zone type attacks, in a fun outdoor environment. Bushball presents that silent anticipation of knowing that something’s coming and strategizing accordingly.

AdventureEscapades.co.za does have two excellent Speedball venues and one brilliant Bushball battle zone, listed in the Johannesburg area.

For Bushball we highly recommend “The Woods Paintball.” Situated in the suburb of Fourways , our site traffic stats show that it is a AdventureEscapdes.co.za favorite.

"Point-Blank-Paintball," is a great speedball venue located in the Johannesburg countryside area of Muldersdrift, they share premises with a local hotel / conference centre and offer great paintball along with great facilities for Teambuilding.

Then there’s "Pantball City." They are situated in the East Rand and have been around forever, Paintball city is a paintball institution.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Fusion Man can fly like a bird...

We featured Yves Rossy, the Swiss 'bird-man', in a previous post on this Blog. At that stage, he had achieved a life-long dream of being able to fly like a bird. He achieved this through years of experimentation, with a set of custom built wings with model jet engines attached, strapped to his back.

If this feat was not enough, a few days ago, he managed to cross the English Channel. Starting from a height of 2500m above France, he flew almost 35km, landing safely in England by parachute.

We salute this pioneer and look forward to his next flying endeavours. Word has it that he is looking to cross the Grand Canyon next. His sponsor Hublot, are naturally happy with the success of the venture and the exposure achieved - just reward for their generous and substantial sponsorship of this project.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Tandem Skydive Adventure

In today’s post we focus of on “Tandem Skydive Adventure” operating out of Wonderboom airport near Pretoria, Gauteng.

As the name suggests, Tandem Skydiving is what they specialize in. What makes them special though, is that they offer the highest jump altitude and longest freefall in the Gauteng region. They jump from 11000 feet and free fall for a heart-pumping 40 seconds, before deploying the chute.

The Skydive Centre does have a Braai facility situated under shady trees next to a sparkling swimming pool, which they welcome visitors to make the most of. For after skydive satisfaction there is also a well stocked bar kitted out with two televisions where new-comers are encouraged to relax and enjoy the Rugby, or maybe shoot some pool with friends.

Skydiving arguably makes for the most thrilling activity known to mankind! The beauty of tandem skydiving is that you don’t need experience to realize the sense ecstasy it offers. Your highly skilled tandem master will ensure your safety and provide for all the fun and excitement. Interestingly, this particular operator does not allow participants to jump with anyone who has less than 1 000 tandem jumps under their belt ……. you are indeed, in very safe hands.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Adventure for less than R100,00

Adventure Activity in many instances, isn’t exactly cheap, and with good reason. The skydive operators for example have aeroplanes to maintain and with the cost of fuel having skyrocketed as it has, it is a business that comes with its financial challenges. We nonetheless strongly advocate that there is nothing on earth to beat an accelerated freefall, its therefore definitely worth the +- R1500 it’s likely to cost you.

AdventureEscapades.co.za does nonetheless boast a couple of listed operators in and around the Durban area that are still able to provide activity for under R100,00.

Segway KZN provide guided Segway tours along Durban’s Beachfront and do have various packages availible, the cheapest of which is a fifteen minute option and for only a few Rand more, there is a half hour glide which comes highly recommended. This activity is exceptionally well priced, loads of fun, and is referred to as gliding rather than riding, since that is the sensation one gets.

"Retro Bike Hire" is a personal favorite, maybe because I’m a little bit tight and its only R40, 00 an hour. They hire out Silverback Cruiser bicycles and participants get to see Durban’s beachfront while getting some exercise. With respect to adventure sport, riding a bicycle on the beachfront, is about all I’m likely to get Jane (my other half) to participate in; skydiving is definitely not going to happen. For us it presents something we can do together, on a nice sunny Sunday morning we can hire a bike, ride along the beachfront, and take in a breakfast at the Beach Caf√©, it really is enjoyable.

Then there’s “Isle of Capri,” harbour cruises, situated at Wilson’s Wharf Durban Harbour, and is also excellent value for money. Owner operator and Skipper, Bennie, is an ex school teacher and is one of the most knowledgeable people about, for only R65,00, he and his crew will take you on a cruise around the port of Durban, and show you all the places of historical significance.

With that said and done, I just arrived home from two weeks in Johannesburg and am sitting on my balcony enjoying a spectacular view of the Natal coast while being harassed by a cat who clearly missed me. All of which serves to remind me that bargains are great, but the best things in life are free

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Wonderwall Climbing Gym

An Adventure Activity that has become incredibly popular is indoor climbing especially in the Johannesburg region, where there are several climbing gyms to choose from.

Tucked away just past the Northgate shopping centre area, in the industrial district of Kya Sands, is an excellent facility called “Wonderwall” which AventureEscapades.co.za, is proud to be associated with. I have now been to the venue twice, and on both occasions I left enthralled by the involvement and enthusiasm with which Keith and his team, go about running their business.

What makes this sport exciting is that firstly, it seems to be a lot of fun, secondly, it is both physically demanding and challenging, so what better way to stay in shape than to have a laugh with friends, while spurring each other on to take it to the next level. The added advantage being they trade long hours and it’s not weather depended, in other words, it is an activity that can fit in with your busy schedule.

It is exceedingly evident that a lot of thought went into developing the gym to meet all climber requirements, to provide a place for enthusiasts to feel at home, and to ensure that the environment is also spectator friendly.

Services include a fully equipped bar and restaurant, a 3m high bouldering cave, gear rentals and sales, locker facilities for valuables, and the always handy changeroom facility. They also provide beginner training and accommodate for corporate events, as well as children’s birthday parties

Well done to the team at “Wonderwall” on excellent offering, I look forward to my next visit.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Tips for Travelers – Internet Access

Today's post is a slight departure from our regular theme. As I was sitting down to prepare the post, my Internet Connection was summarily terminated.

In most developed countries, the Internet has become an essential and reliable resource like water and electricity. Unfortunately, South African Internet Access is still very unreliable and often expensive.

If you are travelling to SA for your Adventure Tourism holiday, you will however have a number of different options to keep in touch with your online social network. Firstly, you could make use of public internet access. This is widely available and the price varies from expensive at Hotels and Airports, to reasonably priced at any one of 223 PostNet Business Service Centres around SA. Backpacker Hostels usually also have Internet Access, but terminals are often limited and you may have to wait.

If you have your own Laptop, you can choose between wireless ISP Iburst or access via 3G / HSDPA, via one of three Mobile Operators. You will need a modem and can buy Prepaid Data Airtime at reasonable rates. Coverage is reasonable in Major Centres (HSDPA), but drops down to EDGE or GPRS in other areas. Beware however, that data bundles purchased expire in 30 days, regardless of whether you have used up your whole bundle or not!! This is not communicated clearly when purchasing a bundle and is totally opposite to how prepaid airtime works.

One final tip - If you are bringing your own modem from overseas, make sure it is not locked to a specific network, as it may then not work on the three networks in SA. If you are buying one here, it will cost you about R1500, which includes a prepaid sim card.

The information above may at first glance appear unnecessary, but one of the best parts of any Adventure Activity, is sharing your experience with all your friends and family about the experience - and lest we forget, accessing AdventureEscapades.co.za to find your ultimate Adventure Experience.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Soweto Experience

In recent post called “Adventure in Soweto” I made reference to Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers and the guided cycle tours they offer, I used the opportunity to commended them on a brilliant concept and whished them the best of luck. What Lebo and his team do is, they sell the Soweto experience, and have a lot of fun in the process.

I have since had the pleasure of visiting Soweto Backpackers and meeting both Lebo and Maria in person. Keeping in mind that what they do is unique to the point that they have had coverage on Morning Live (local morning television news show) a feature in the business section of the Sunday times, and they were also interviewed on SAFM radio, which is where I first heard of them, I felt honored.

We sat outside in the courtyard area and discussed business in general really, it was a beautiful day and from where we were sitting we could see the kids in the park across the way kicking a soccer ball around and just enjoying themselves as kids do. Lebo and Maria are both excellent people and meeting them was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, they are passionate about Soweto and want to share its amazing atmosphere with everybody.

In the “Adventure in Soweto” post we made reference to their cycle tours and all the interesting places they stop at. Additional activities they offer include a visit to the informal settlement Kliptown, where the Freedom charter was signed in 1955, and if you are in a party mood, you can join them at the nightclubs, local pubs and festivals.

Thanks to Lebo and Maria for a very enjoyable morning on Saturday, and next time I visit, it will be for cycle trip and will I be bringing friends along…..cheers all the best.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Rap Jumping

Image Courtesy - GravityOutlaw.com

Rap Jumping, also know as Australian Rappelling, is the act of descending a fixed rope in a standing position, while facing the ground. Originally used by special forces as a military assault technique, Rap Jumping has now developed into a popular Adventure Sport.

There are a number of Rap Jumping operators in South Africa and the operations are based at two distinctly different types of locations. The first is off the side of a cliff or a mountain face and is usually in a fairly remote location. The perks of Rap Jumping here is that you get to admire the spectacular countryside from a birds-eye view.

The second type of location, is a tall building, usually in the heart of the 'Urban Jungle'. The advantage of this type of location is that it is easily accessible and quick to get to for an afternoon/weekend adventure.

South Africa provides plenty of perfect Rap Jumping spots for both types of locations. The three biggest cities, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, all have tall buildings in the CBD. Whilst most could not be described as Skyscapers, some are over 300m high, which is amble for a good Rap Jump.

Alternatively, you could head out into the country, where you will find perfect spots for abseiling down a cliff/mountain in Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, The Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. One of the most scenic Rap Jumps is offered by Over the Top Adventures in Kwazulu Natal. Their base of operations is at the spectacular Howick Falls in the Natal Midlands, where you descend over 100m next to a roaring waterfall.

For a list of other Rap Jumping operators, check out the Rap Jumping page on AdventureEscapades.co.za - if you have a fear of heights, this is the best way to conquer it!!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Rooivalk - Looping a Helicopter

By all accounts the weather did indeed play along yesterday and thousands of people flocked to Ysterplat Airforce Base, in Cape Town, to watch a feast of Aerial Ballet.

As we mentioned in the previous post, the Airforce have an excellent representation at AAD and one of the highlights was the Rooivalk attack Helicopter. The Rooivalk is a South African designed and manufactured helicopter, which was built to world-class standards.

Many experts feel that if it was not for the arms embargo that prevented the designers integrating the missile launch platform with standard US and International Missiles, the Rooivalk would have received export orders from around the world.

In the video above, the Rooivalk demonstrates it's incredible manouverability. It is one of the few helicopters in the world that can actually do a full loop - without cheating!

If helicopters have always fascinated you, why don't you get on down to the AAD Airshow, which is on again today - or better still, book a ride in a Huey and go on a simulated low-level attack mission along the Cape Peninsula. If you are not in Cape Town, you will find more Helicopter Adventures and Scenic flights on the AdventureEscapades.co.za website.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

AAD - International Airshow in Cape Town this weekend

The annual African Aerospace and Defence Airshow is taking place at Ysterplat Airfield in Cape Town this weekend. The good news is that the Weather Gods have blessed the event and the forecast is for clear skies on Saturday afternoon and Sunday - a welcome change from the miserable weather that Cape Town has been experiencing this Winter.

Interestingly enough, reports of snow in many areas of KZN today, have had the Winter Sports fanatics clambering for their gear! Although snow has fallen, at some time over the last fifty years, in every month of the year in the Drakensberg, it is very unusual to get such a big dump this far into what should be Spring.

Whilst the snowboarders head for Afriski and Tiffendell, if you want to see some aerial action of a different kind, head to the AAD International Airshow this weekend. This event, set against the beautiful backdrop of Table Mountain, has become one of the premier airshows in Africa.

The program includes a lot of the usual airshow participants and a number of unique highlights. From a civilian airline perspective, the Boeing 747-400, the Airbus A340 and a Boeing 737 will all be doing displays this year. The airforce is also well represented this year and will have the new Grippen doing a routine, a Mirage, the Rooivalke helicopter and the traditional formation flying of the Silver Falcons.

All in all it sounds like a fantastic days outing and at R50 per ticket for adults, we give it the thumbs up for 'value for money'. The event is going to be very well attended, as usual, so we suggest that you check out the AAD Website to get more details and directions. We unfortunately can't make it this year, but if any of you are going, please send us some pics and post about your experience on our Forum. Happy Flying!!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Mike in Action

Mike Perry, who we featured just the other day, is one of South Africa’s leading authorities on reptile behavior and runs a business called African Reptile and Venom.

He also owns its subsidiary, African Reptile and Venom Adventure Safaris, offering tours into the African bush where besides observing the Big Five, enthusiasts also get to participate in the activity of Herping, which is really about observing reptiles, particularly snakes, in their natural habitat.

This week AdventureEscapades.co.za came across this jaw dropping photograph of Mike in action, and besides uploading it onto his listing page, we couldn’t resist sharing it with you. The snake mike is holding is a Southern African Rock Python. He warns that although it is non-venomous its dangerous to small children as it could kill and swallow them.

To us mere mortals, it does look dangerous and no doubt is if you don’t know what you’re doing, fortunately there are experts around like Mike who have a passion for these creatures and fully understand their behavior patterns, they are committed conservationists who want to teach in order to dispel the many myths, that result in these creatures being feared rather than respected.

An unconfirmed rumor: Apparently Indiana Jones has signed up for one of Mike’s courses. :)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Adventure in Soweto

Soweto is a place where historically, amazing things happen and if you were to combine adventure activity, entrepreneurialism and originality, you would probably come up with one of the following two Soweto based operations.

Our Blog has probably featured the Orlando Towers Power Swing more than any other activity and today, we make mention of it once again. If you don’t know by now, it’s a really big swing that requires participants to jump off a very high cooling tower that forms part of the old Soweto power station, no longer in use. It is worthy of praise for its originality, the spectacular view of Soweto, and the heart pumping rush that’s worth every cent of the cost.

The other Soweto based business that’s come across our radar is Soweto Backpackers. I heard a radio interview on local station SAFM with owner operators Lebo and Maria, which was both interesting and enjoyable. Shortly thereafter I saw a write up about them in the business section of the Sunday times, and was again in awe, of a totally original concept that works.

Because of the vital role it played in facilitating change to the South African political landscape, Soweto has great historical significance and has since 1994, become a big tourist destination. Lebo quickly realized, that many among those coming in on day tours, wanted to stay and enjoy its friendly and vibrant atmosphere, he therein saw the opportunity and has never looked back.

Besides overnight accommodation, they also present visitors with a unique opportunity to Experience Soweto by bike! These fun in the sun trips take enthusiasts to places like migrant worker’s hostels, Meadowlands, Hector Pieterson Museum, Nelson Mandela’s and Bishop Tutu’s house, and to finish it off, a relaxing cold drink at the local shebeen. (Traditional pub)

Well done to them and we wish them everything of the best, visit there website, www.sowetobackpackers.co.za .

Ps.For those who might be interested, that’s me in the pic, try it you will love it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Segway in SA

Amidst much hype and speculation, in December 2001 the Segway was unveiled on American news program, “Good Morning America.” It’s taken a while to become established in South Africa, it is however now, with operators in Cape Town, Sun City and Durban Beachfront, gaining in popularity.

The Segway Personal Transporter was invented by Dean Kamen and is nothing short of genius. A combination of computers and motors situated at its base, essentially respond to body movement. Holding the “Lean Steer” handlebars, if you tilt to the left, you turn to the left; leaning forward creates forward motion, back backwards, and right needless to say will result in a right turn, all this happens while Gyroscopic sensors keep its balance in check.

AdventureEscapades.co.za met with Segway KZN expecting it to be all about beachfront tours, we soon discovered that there is a lot more to their operation than just fun in the sun. They offer Teambuilding, Promotions, and Advertising in Motion, as well as Corporate Hire, they also sell them should you wish to purchase one. My understanding is that there are several models to choose from, and that after sales backup service, is all part of the deal.

Operating from Suncoast Casino & Entertainment World, the guided tours will take you around that venue, and along Durban’s famed Golden Mile. The segway gets up to 20kl per hour hence participants, as a safety precaution, are required to wear helmets.

As adventure activity goes, these tours are exceptionally well priced and look to be a tremendous amount of fun. To find out more follow the link www.segwaykzn.co.za and if you do wish to participate, booking is advisable.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Thunder City - Puma Helicopter

Thunder City, the Cape Town based organisation that has the largest civilian owned collection of ex-military fighter jets, has just added a fully refurbished Puma Helicopter to their fleet.

The SA 330 Puma was originally built by Sud Aviation and the first two prototypes flew on the 15th April 1965. In 1978, the Puma became the first Helicopter, outside the Soviet Union, to be certified for all weather conditions, including know icing.

By 1987, 697 had been sold and Aérospatiale, the new owners, then began selling a new upgraded and improved version, called the Super Puma. Both the Puma and the Oryx (a South African version of the Super Puma), have seen service for a number of years in the South African Airforce.

In recent years, they have assumed more of a peacetime role and played a vital part in the rescue of a few hundred passengers of a shipwrecked cruise ship off the Wild Coast - a treachourous stretch of coastline between Durban and East London. They are also regularly used in humanitarian efforts in both South Africa and our neighbouring countries.

If you would like a chance to ride in one of these amazing machines, head on down to Thunder City for a once in a lifetime experience. Thunder City have also got a fleet of, four flying English Electric Lightnings, three BAE Buccaneers, seven Hawker Hunters and a Strikemaster.

Emilio Titus, Thunder City's newly appointed CEO, is on a mission to broaden their client base, who are already made up of clients from the US, UK and Europe. He is now focusing on the Middle East and Asia and believes that these markets have tremendous potential. This is good news for Adventure Tourism in South Africa in general and we look forward to an influx of new visitors to South Africa.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Dining With Crocodiles

Eating crocodile! In the presence of crocodiles! Is this something you would do?

It’s always good to find interesting new adventure activity to report back on, and today, we came across something really exciting that definitely won’t, we are assured, cost participants an arm and a leg. AdventureEscapades.co.za visited the Phezulu Safari Park just 35 Kl from Central Durban in Kwazulu Natal, where we were introduced to their Fear Factor Challenge.

Before we go into it, it’s worth noting that Phezulu, is situated overlooking the amazingly picturesque, Valley of a 1000 Hills, and is a private nature reserve that has been around for more than twenty years.

Individuals involved are experts on wildlife behavior and pride themselves on presenting visitors with a unique safe and unforgettable experience. Activities available include Game Park Drives, A Zulu Cultural Village Tour, A Traditional Zulu Dancing Show, Crocodile and Snake Parks, as well as their now famous Croctilians Restaurant.

The Fear Factor Challenge presents the opportunity to dine with crocodiles. The meal, needless to say is crock meat (a choice of kebab or steak) served with chips and a helping of salad. Strangely enough, the crocodiles appear to be very accommodating hosts, those in the above picture don’t look the slightest bit concerned, especially the gentleman at the back. (Maybe just a little)

A Nice Touch…..
Participants are presented with an “I ate crock with crocks” memento certificate.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Zorbing, Life In A Bubble

In a past Blog post, we featured the adventure activity of Zorbing (Sphereing) in which we gave a lengthy explanation as to what it entails. It’s essentially about climbing into a giant synthetic see through orb and rolling down a hill, apparently reaching speeds of up to 25mph. The plastic is soft, so one imagines it to be somewhat like being inside a giant beach ball.

At the time we mentioned that if there are any South African Zorbing operators, they hadn’t yet appeared on the AdventureEscapades.co.za radar. The good news is we are happy to report, that it has indeed rolled its way to our shores, and that South Africa now boasts at least one Zorbing vendor.

There is a Port Elizabeth based adventure company call Green Adventures who in truth, we don’t know too much about other than that they have come up with a brilliant idea. Most of the activities we feature we have in some or other way been involved in or at least participated in, Zorbing not yet, its definitely something that’s on the agenda though.

What we can say for sure is, there are amazingly high sand dunes around the Port Elizabeth area and from what we can gather, this is what’s used to get the ball rolling, so to speak. Having had zero experience of this, I can only make assumptions; nonetheless I somehow envisage that the steepness of the Eastern Cape dunes, combined with the softness of the sand, makes for perfect Zorbing.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Mike Perry, Adventure Personality and Snake Expert

Is this man mad we ask ourselves?

The answer quite truthfully is no. Mike Perry is in fact a highly respected authority on snakes and has featured in several wildlife documentaries. Why snakes though?

Mike first became interested in snakes in 1963 and was eight years old at the time; just two years later at 10; he started catching them and has never looked back. From there it grew into his life’s work, and today, snake courses, anti-venom supply and captive breeding is what he happily call works. His business is “African Reptile & Venom” and is situated near to Fourways in Johannesburg.

The snake handling courses are registered with FGASA and are highly recommended for anybody involved in activity where they are likely to come into contact with these often dangerous creatures. Traditionally the courses are attended by people who work outdoors in snake prevalent areas such as miners and developers. Interestingly, more and more adventure activity enthusiasts such as mountain bikers, hunters and trail walkers are also seeing the value in taking them.

Then there’s "African Reptile & Venom, Adventure Safaris," if you want to see snakes in their natural habitat as well as the Big Five, Mike offers tours into the African bush that you will have to go a long way to beat. Who better to go into the bush with than one of South Africa’s leading conservationists as well as a renowned snake expert?

Friday, 12 September 2008

Everybody Needs A Hammock

AdventureEscapades.co.za, met this morning with Tasha Jardim of Hangaboutz Hammocks, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing what it is they do. Everybody needs a hammock, or at very least, isn’t apposed to the idea of relaxing in one on a nice summers day, preferably next to the ocean while sipping on a cold Mojito.

Located in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, Hangaboutz supplies to customers far and wide. Having already achieved success, as well as notoriety for “Tasha’s Fantastic Fudge” she is quintessentially, applying the same business philosophy to Hangaboutz Hammocks, that made her fudge organization the winner that it is today.

She refers to what she calls “The Two Basics”, quality product and quality service, without those, you don’t have a business. I was shown a testimonial from a happy customer who had highlighted that turn around time is what’s imperative to them; they alluded to the fact that this is the area where their previous supplier had let them down and where Hangaboutz Hammocks had way exceeded expectation.

Tasha and her team without doubt run an excellent operation and although surrounded by hammocks, they’re definitely not too laidback, that it appears, is left to the end-user.

We wish Tasha all the best, and if you do have a need for quality hammocks at excellent prices, give Hangaboutz, a shout.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Elsie the Rickshaw Man

Yesterday Afternoon after attending a meeting at Durban beach front, while walking back to my car I was approached by a gentleman named Elsie who enquired as to whether I would be interested in a purchasing rickshaw ride. After politely declining his offer we ended up having a conversation which proved to be very informative.

First up, for those who may not know, a rickshaw is a two wheel cart powered by man. Rickshaws were first brought to Durban in 1893 by sugar magnate Sir Marshall Campbell as a gift for his wife, who at the time required a mode of transport. Today they are a tourist attraction run by the Zulu population, and have been adopted as part of their heritage and culture.

He explained to me that it’s his own business and that the cart does belong to him. Each cart has its own unique number, his is Rickshaw No 4, and there are a set of laws that the operators are obliged to adhere to. It is essentially regulated with the rules stated on the back of the cart, along with a contact number that customers are encouraged to call to report any misconduct.

Elsie didn’t really seem to know too much about the internet; he did however get very excited at the prospect of gaining some exposure. Although his is a business where people generally don’t make appointments, it’s more targeted at passers-buy, he did however give me a contact number, so if it’s a rickshaw ride you are after, give him a call on 082 399 1261, or go down to Durban beach front and ask for Rickshaw No 4.

Photo, courtesy of www.superstock.com

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

SA National Parks Week

News that will no doubt prove to be of interest is that SANParks have announced free access to most national parks in the Cape, from September 22nd through to the 26th, in celebration of SA National Parks Week.

SA National Parks Week was first launched in 2006 and was done so in order to allow South Africans who don’t have the financial means, to also experience the beauty and splendor our parks have to offer. The aim according to SANParks is to cultivate pride in the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage under the theme ‘Know Your National Parks’.

On those days, because its flower season, (the only time of the year that they show sustainable income) three parks will be charging their normal fee; the Tankwa Karoo, West Coast and Namaqua National Parks. Boulders at Table Mountain National Park, will also charge entry fee as per usual.

In their communication SANParks highlighted the importance of conservation and appreciation of natural heritage, especially among young people. They added that the initiative is also an opportunity to showcase all national parks as affordable local holiday destinations, particularly for families.

AdventureEscapades.co.za would like to say “A Big Thank You” to SANParks and encourage all South Africans to spread the word. For more information on this brilliant initiative, click HERE to visit the SANParks website.

(Photo, courtesy of African Reptile & Venom Adventure Safaris)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Wind-Powered Adventure

I recently wrote an article tracing the origins of kiteboarding which mainly focused on the endeavors of brothers Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux, accredited for having founded the sport in Hann's Bay Dakar, in 1983.

This enormously exciting watersport, best described as a hybrid of surfing, para-gliding and kite-flying, is said to be the natural evolution of windsurfing.

The idea of using wind and kites as a source of energy to create motion is believed to date back thousands of years to China, where the kites were originally made from silk and bamboo and were believed to have religious and sacred dimension.

Amazingly, the first recorded kite-powered journey took place in the 1820's, when English schoolteacher George Pocock invented the wind-powered carriage in protest of "horse tax," a form of taxation being levied at the time. Seeking an alternative to horsepower, he patented the first four line controllable kite system and in doing so proved the principles of kite traction, the very same principles on which kiteboarding operates today.

The above picture is of Gavin (Spowy) Spowart, a world tour pro, and owner of Cyclone Extreme Products. Very well respected in South African Kiteboarding circles, Gavin has branches in Cape Town and Durban and supplies a full range of world class products, as well as providing training, for beginners to the advanced.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Livingstone Trails, An African Adventure

Another great adventure character we met along the way is Wynand Breytenbach of Livingstone Trails who like Jason the Snakeman, is from the Hartbeespoort Dam area and is also a great lover of animals. Wynand lives on a small holding along with his many collie dogs, a couple of monkeys, as well as some other interesting pets that resemble large lizards of some sort.

He owns and operates a business called “Livingstone Trails” who are legendry for their overland adventure trips into Africa and have as many as 15 tours running at any given time. Their trips depart from Johannesburg and are carried out in 4X4 vehicles, to the following destinations.

Kruger National Park: More or less the same size as Israel or Wales and is home to 147 mammal, 502 bird and 147 reptile species. Often, all of “The Big 5’ are viewed on the same day.

Chobe National Park in Botswana is very well known for large herds of animals.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe / Zambia is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world and boasts the largest sheet of falling water. This magnificent waterfall is 1700 meters wide while the Zambezi River, (4th largest in Africa) offers a variety of activities such as canoeing, boat cruises and of course the best one day white water rafting in the world.

Okavango Delta: (Botswana) One of the most beautiful and amazing untouched wildlife areas in southern Africa. Guests get to travel the water channels in a mokoro, and game walks are also a big favorite.

Livingstone trails heave been around since 1994 and have provided awe-inspiring moments and experiences to many happy adventure travelers. Wynand attributes their success to having people onboard who are committed to excellence and fully subscribe to the The Livingstone Trails philosophy” which goes like this:

Our clients are the most important aspect of our tours. Therefore we will always do our best to keep the prices as low as possible, but not sacrifice the quality or standard of our tours. We offer the best we can in guides, equipment and service.

As first choice provider of adventurous, affordable and professional overland tours to Africa’s most exciting destinations, Livingstone Tours, get a big AdventureEscapades.co.za Thumbs Up.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Giba Gorge, Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a favorite adventure activity among South Africans as it takes place outdoors and is a fun, sociable way, of keeping fit. SA weather and terrain is tailor made for it and there are now plenty of excellent cycling amenities available. Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park in Durban, caters for just about every conceivable mountain biking requirement.

In addition to the +- 45 kilometers of riding trails suited to all levels of rider proficiency through dense vegetation, and Kwazulu Natal forest, this world class venue also offers the following.

A trick park /BMX track for the kids.
Supervised trips for youngsters at the beginner stage of riding.
Lawn areas for picnicking with trees that provide the option of shade.
Great restaurant and Bar
Conference Centre
Camping Facilities
Free Style Dirt Jumps
Bike Wash
Safety and Security
On Site Pre-Hospital Medical facility
Trail Centre
Bike Doctor
Cycle Shop
Helmets and Mountain Bikes can be rented on location.

Giba Gorge has raised the biking bar in SA and thus have mountain biking enthusiasts from all over the world, making the trip.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Mechanical Spider

South African news channel e-News, this morning ran a fascinating storey about a giant mechanical spider strutting its stuff as part of the “Liverpool, European Capital of Culture 2008”anniatiative.

It immediately reminded me of the movie “Wild Wild West,” where the villain played by Kenneth Branagh, reeks havoc from the deck of a very similar looking machine, except his had lots of cannons and wasn’t shy to use them. Who knows what would have happened if Will Smith wasn’t Sheriff.

The three storey arachnid now roaming the streets of Liverpool, not to mention climbing the sides of its buildings, was created by a French arts collective called La Machine, and is one of many facets that make up, what is essentially an enormous piece of street theatre.

TimesOnline, in the week ran the headline “Huge mechanical spider to attack Liverpool” and had this to say, “When the beast - dubbed La Princess - wakes up on Friday morning, her legs will stretch out to nearly twice their length. Office workers had better beware because apparently she won't be in a good mood,”

Never fear though, like the west had their no nonsense sheriff, Liverpool has Steven Gerrad……..Be afraid spider, be very afraid.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Chris Beasley, Adventure Personality

Yesterday we unashamedly implied a connection to Wayne Rooney because he, in 2006; happened to get his picture snapped while playing paintball on the other side of the world in Manchester England.

Other than the famous Mr. Rooney, Delta Force Paintball in the UK does boast a very impressive, who’s who list of celebrities that have also had the pleasure. Those among them include Brian May of Queen, World Champion boxer Amir Khan, John Terry, plenty of other premiership footballers, as well as Hugh Laurie of Dr. House fame.

Never to be outdone by a bunch of minor stars, (to be taken with a pinch of salt) we at AdventureEscapades.co.za are proud to be associated with Christopher Beasley who plays the part of Len Cooper in Isidingo, a favorite South African television drama.

While immensely popular, Isidingo is somewhat of a soap opera and although it has been on for years, admittedly, I have never watched a single episode of it. What I find strange though is, that when I tell people we attached a rope to a body harness, and then jumped off a very high cooling tower in Soweto, the first question I,m asked is, “What’s Chris like as a person?” Go Figure….

He is in fact, very down to earth, (pun intended) with a great sense of humor and is one of those people who nothing seems to big a challenge for. Besides also being a South African champion skydiver, the Orlando Towers Vertical Adventure project, which he is very much a part of, is really something special and is also a world first.

Besides their trademark Power Swing, a must do activity for all adventure seekers; they also have big ambitions of developing the site into a fully fledged vertical adventure centre which will include abseiling, bungee jumping, rap jumping, climbing and an entertainment area, that will service the surrounding community.

We wish all involved at Orlando Towers the very best of success, and salute their originality.

PS. Chris next time we meet, please remind me to get an autograph for Gary’s daughter Amy, she still hasn’t forgiven me for having forgotten last time …..thanks

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Paintball or Football "Wayne Rooney"

Being involved with AdventureEscapades.co.za does require regular research, in order to better understand the many activities we write about. While scouting the net for both information and ideas pertaining to the ever popular activity of Paintball, we came across “Delta Force Paintball” a UK based paintball operation that definitely looked to be the market leader over there.

It was on their website www.paintballgames.co.uk where we found Wayne “Rambo” Rooney, as well as his Manchester United and England teammate Rio Ferdinand. What we want to know is, did Wayne Rooney attack from the start, and did Rio Ferdinand play his usual pivotal role, defending?

Nonetheless, if shooting paint filled, breakable gelatin balls at friends from an automatic weapon powered by compressed air, is your idea of fun, we say “Good for You!” It really is an exciting and enjoyable activity and there are plenty of South African venues to choose from.

Try it, you will most definitely have a ball ... on the arm, on the neck, on the thigh,.....

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Indoor Climbing "Wonderwall"

“The concept of the artificial climbing wall began in the UK. The first wall was created in 1964 at Leeds University by Don Robinson, a lecturer in Physical Education and founder of DR Climbing Walls, by inserting pieces of rock into a corridor wall. The first commercial wall was built in Sheffield, traditionally England's centre for climbing due to its proximity to the Peak District” That according to Wikipedia, is how it all started.

On our travels, in and around Johannesburg last week AdventureEscapades.co.za came across a fantastic indoor climbing facility called the “Wonderwall Climbing Gym” situated in the Kya Sands area.

Upon arrival it was incredibly encouraging observing, just how busy the gym was and how both genders and all age groups, have taken to this activity as a fun way of toning muscle and maintaining high fitness levels.

Participants are essentially put through the exercise rigors of mountaineering, in a safe and controlled environment, creating a perfect starting platform for aspirant young climbers to learn. It also appears to be somewhat sociable with friends working out together while just having a good time.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Surfing, The Biggest Wave Ever.

AdventureEscapades.co.za recently ran a series of posts on the “Red Bull Big Wave Africa” event, held annually at NoordeHoek beach Cape Town where in August month particularly, the waves are renowned for peaking at colossal heights.

One of the many aspects that make for surfing culture is the abundance of urban myths that go with the territory. AdventureEscapades.co.za is yet to meet a surfer, pro or armature, that doesn’t have the most amazing stories to tell.

It would appear that the greatest moments in surfing, occur when there are no cameras around, and go onto become campfire legend.

If one were to ask the question, who is credited with surfing the biggest wave ever ? The official answer would have to be, Mike Parsons who on January 5, 2008, was photographed surfing a wave that the Billabong XXL, judged to be 70+ feet.

Then there is Ken Bradshaw who at Outer Log Cabins, Oahu, on the 28th of January 1998, rode a wave that was probably in excess of 80 feet tall. Regrettably, there is no photo, only video footage shot from long distance and partly obstructed by a smaller wave in front of it.

Several other surfers went out that day, and no doubt did spectacular things. Buzzy Kerbox is suspected to have ridden the biggest of them all, with his wave having broken closest to the channel.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Kitesboarding , How it all started.

The discovery of Kiteboarding is largely attributed to the efforts of two visionary brothers Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux. Devoted sailing enthusiasts; having received several accolades most notably that of 1979 French Junoir champions, they embarked upon a life of adventure with their aim being to sail around the world.

In 1983 after being apart for a year they got together in Senagal where they spent many hours discussing and debating sail design, with kites being its natural progression. Enthused by having observed the actions of a BirdSail rider, (a windsurf type sail of the time designed for elevated lift to promote longer jumps); the brothers began work in Hann's Bay, Dakar, pioneering what would later become a world wide watersport phenomenon.

On November 16th 1984,Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux applied for their first patent on an inflatable wing structure and then subsequently lead the way by manufacturing many innovative kitesbording prototypes.

Today the sport is a fully established industry with competitions, DVD's, magazines and a dedicated global following. It is enjoyed in a variety of locations throughout the world with South Africa proudly boasting several of its hotspots.