Friday, 31 October 2008

Huey With A History


I have been dealing quite a bit lately with some really good people from the Huey Helicopter Co and like most in the adventure industry; they are passionate about what they do. Those who read my post earlier in the week will already be aware that they operate Huey Flights out of the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town and offer spectacular jaunts around the world’s most scenic peninsula.

I clearly recall from some years ago, there was a significant amount of press coverage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina about a South African who had purchased a Huey from Fort Rucker, Alabama USA, that wasn’t forthcoming. It surfaced that the machine had been commandeered without consent by a sheriff who needed it as rescue vehicle and felt that the situation had warranted it.

The difficulty in essence, was getting it back to its rightful owner which in the end happened as a result of a federal court order. Prior to that, this particular Huey although mostly used for training new pilots; did complete two tours in Vietnam with the 129th & 162nd AHC (Assault Helicopter Company)

At its new home in Cape Town this remarkable machine has been meticulously restored to its original military livery and looked after by a team of dedicated pilots, engineers and ground crew, who are ready and waiting, to share the Huey experience with you.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Tandem Gliding with Para - Pax



The first time I met with Steff of Para-Pax Paragliding was on top of Signal Hill where at the time, he was getting ready to take a client up. Between him briefing his passenger and prepping his kit, we spoke a bit about AdventureEscapades.co.za, he was as one would expect though, more focused on the task at hand.

My reason for being there was that he wanted me to see what his operation entails and I have to say I was very impressed at how effortless he made it look. The process is a lot less complicated than I would have thought, and clearly after years of doing this, Steff and his team have got it down packed.

They spread the canopy out on the ground, all cords are neatly laid down in rows pointing in the direction of take off, passenger and pilot are attached to each other by a body harness, and takeoff commences. The part that surprised me was seeing how gentle and unforced the takeoff infact is.

Steff seemed very excited about how ideal the conditions on the day were and displayed an enthusiasm that spread to his passenger and myself alike. After a short briefing take off commenced which literally consisted of about three big steps forward, the canopy lifted without any sign of complication and away they quietly floated.

It appeared almost surreal, for what seemed like an extended period of time they remained at the same sort of altitude as to what I was at, my feet however were firmly anchored on top of Signal Hill while they where floating away directly in front of me high above Sea Point. I made a decision right there and then that this is something I have got to do. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Adventure in Morocco


We often get e-mails coming through from people in the adventure industry that are doing interesting and amazing things. It looks as though these guys are a Moroccan based outfit and do some exciting trekking in the Atlas Mountains; the following is their communiqué exactly as it came through:

Meeting the Berber culture and its peopleâ?¦ Toubkal-trekking is a specialist adventure organisater offering high-quality group mountain biking and walking tours in and around The Atlas Mountains, as well as tailor-made holidays for individuals and private Groups. The organisater is moroccan and managed from Marrakech by People passionate and knowledgeable about Morocco and experienced in the field of adventure travel.

The objective of us is taking adventurous visitors off the beaten track to experience and enjoy the extraordinary beauty and unique character of Morocco. If you re' planning to do trekking in the mountains, in Sahara or in the coasts of Morocco, Contact the greatest mountain guide BOUINBADEN Mohamed , he is one of the first Mountain guide in Morocco, and he is the only who has found the itineraries of the Atlas Mountains.

With his team, they will offer all you need to spend a great and unforgettable trip that you have never imagine! began trekking to the atlas ranges & Sahara , or over the coasts, with a series of treks, possibly spending each night at a different place and overnight in Refuges, Guest houses, camps mountain huts, or with nomads.

Mules carry your food, equipment and your personal gear. One mule is usually needed for every 2-3 trekkers all you need carry is your day sac, camera, waterbottle, sweater etc... On the trek, the tracks, are normally in good condition, the mountain paths are usually a little rougher and sometimes contain stretches of scree, Or the Sahara dunes. Walking varies from 4 to 8 hours per day, with plenty of breaks and a long lunch stop.

Trekking in the atlas, Sahara , over coast, will bring you into close contact with the Berbers, and you are encouraged to mix with these friendly people you well find your trip greatly enhanced by close contact with nomads and villages life which has changed little over the centuries and is almost medieval in many areas. we want to do a partenariat with your agency , we organise trekking in morocco with low costs. for further information visit our Web site: www.toubkal-trekking.com www.imlil.ma best regards.


Photo: Atlas Mountains Courtesy of www.flickr.com

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Huey Helicopter Co



Operating out of Cape Towns V & A Waterfront, this adventure activity presents a unique and enthralling prospect of taking in the Capes breathtaking scenery while experiencing flight in an iconic machine, best known for its electrifying usage during the Vietnam War.

Referred to by many as the “Harley Davidson” of the sky, this excellent adventure offering is brought to us by The Huey Helicopter Company, sister company to Sport Helicopters who have been flying passengers around Cape Town and the Western Cape for the last 17 years.

They have several choppers in their fleet and with the Heuy’s, can take a capacity of up to 9 passengers, what’s really nice is it’s sold on an individual seat basis throughout the summer so the chances are, whether you fancy a jaunt on your own, or if its just the two of you, you will also be catered for.

For More information visit www.thehueyhelicopterco.com

Monday, 27 October 2008

Fun in Cape Town



In today’s Blog I just want to say thank you to all in Cape Town who have made my stay an absolute rip. To Laurie from Cool Runnings, had so much fun there on Wednesday, and at the risk of sounding like a stuck record, (vinyl, what we used before compact disks) there is no better value for money anywhere in Adventure Activity, than this very unique offering. I want to try and make another turn there before I leave.

To Trevor Knutson who wants me to go 4 X 4 ing with him in an open jeep on the Sand dunes at Atlantis, and to Chris, Gary’s dad who has offered to take me for a flight around the peninsula, all very cool, I feel spoilt THANK YOU.

The one that really excites me though is I am going paragliding with Steff from Para-Pax before leaving on Thursday, Paragliding is something I have never tried before and have to say, from the photos on his listing page, it looks awesome.

And then the REAL REAL highlight of week, to those in the above pic, and Kyra as well, can’t wait to see you guys, miss you lots and lots XXXXX . There’s no place like home, and well done to the Sharks. (And Liverpool) :)

Sunday, 26 October 2008

And the best way to see Durban Harbour...



This is probably one of the longest slideshows that we have ever put up on the AdventureEscapades.co.za Blog. However, we think that it is warranted as it takes you through the journey that we have just been on.

At a bit of a loss on a Sunday, we decided to head on down to Wilson's Wharf and try out the Harbour Cruise offered by Isle of Capri.

The cost for the one hour Sea Cruise was under R200 for 2 Adults and 2 Children, and I have to say, you sure get your money's worth! We were well taken care of by our host, who even took the time to apologise for our delayed departure, as we were still waiting for some passangers to arrive.

The large Motor Boat turned on a tickey and we were out of Wilson's Wharf in a flash. After a short while, Bennie started a running commentary on facts, figures and information about Durban Harbour. My experience is that these sessions are often exceptionally boring and one often cannot hear the actual commentary as the outside noise is too loud and/or the PA system is from the Stone Ages.

Quite the contrary in this case - the commentary was crystal clear and the talk was really interesting. I did not realise that Durban is the biggest and busiest Natural Port in the Southern Hemisphere for one, and if that was not enough, they are busy on a R3.5 Billion project to expand the harbour mouth to accommodate even bigger vessels (see pictures above).

Unfortunately, the wind on the day had picked up to such an extent that the swells were getting pretty big. For those who had elected to get a better view from the front of the boat, a watery fate awaited them and they soon came rushing back, looking like drowned rats.

At one stage, just before exiting the Harbour Mouth, the swell was getting so big that it felt like we were going down a Roller Coaster. The younger ones were getting a tad unsettled at this point and our host politely turned the boat around. We were still however able to get a good view of the Durban Coastline and started the journey back.

On the way back, we passed a huge ship which looked like a floating parking garage. Once again, we were given a running commentary on this thriving segment of the harbour and our economy, and learnt loads more about the vehicle import/export markets.

Back on dry land, we were carefully helped off the boat. This operation is very professional and friendly and once again, is one of the best value-for-money adventure experiences that we have come across. They operate daily, and have frequent trips throughout the day, so you have no excuse not to give this one a go if you are in the area.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Tandem Paragliding - the best way to see Cape Town


How deep are your pockets? That is the first question you need to ask yourself when deciding on the best way to see Cape Town.

In our opinion, the most exhilarating way to see Cape Town is from a Hunter travelling along the Peninsula Cape Town at 900kph! Choosing this option will of course mean that you have either won the Lottery, sold your family to slavery or were born into a fairly substantial amount of money.

On the other side of the coin, if you are as fit as a fiddle and an early riser, you could hike up either Table Mountain or Lions Head. Both of these hikes will not cost you a cent and will probably contribute tremendously towards that rock hard body that you want to display on one of Cape Town's famous beaches the following day.

In the middle are a host of other aviation related activities that all require fairly substantial amounts of Avgas or Jet A1. These include charter flights in a variety of aircraft and helicopters and are a great option if you have a group of people who would like to share your adventure experience.

We have of course left out one of our favourites, Tandem Paragliding. As this adventure activity does not have fuel as an input cost, you will probably still have enough money to enjoy the rest of the day at one of the Cape's numerous wine farms, celebrating your endeavours.

For a full description and more information about this adventure experience, visit our friends at Parapax. In their words, this is "The Second Best Thing You Will Ever Do"! Keep in mind that this activity is weather related, so it is imperative to check the weather forecast a few days in advance to plan your Tandem Paragliding Experience.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Feel The Thunder


AdventureEscapades.co.za is thrilled to announce that the newest activity operator to list on our humble adventure web portal; is one that is truly supersonic offering participants a unique opportunity to experience what its like, to break the sound barrier high above the skies of Cape Town.

Thunder City, Cape Town South Africa, is home to the largest civilian owned collection of ex-military jets and boasts the worlds only four flying English Electric Lightning’s, three BAE Buccaneers, seven Hawker Hunter’s, a Strikemaster, as well as a glass cockpit Puma helicopter SA 330. All aircraft are meticulously maintained and housed at the Thunder City base.

There are various Jet fighter flight profiles to choose from, ultra high, aerobatic, surface-hugging, formation flying, or a combination of all. A typical Sortie involves shooting across to Cape Agulus, heading back around Cape Point, rocketing to very high altitudes above Table Mountain, and then just for good measure, shooting past Robben Island as you bullet up the West Coast.

If that isn’t enough to get the blood racing, imagine taking off in an English Electric Lightning, rocketing straight up to 50 000 Ft, where at the Apex of the climb, you get to view the Earth’s curvature in all her splendor.

One word of warning though, in yesterday’s post we featured Cool Runnings Tobogganing at R15 a ride ….. Mmmm …Please note, this ones a little more expensive, :) you are however paying for what has to be the Ultimate.

Photograph: English Electric Lightning Over Cape Town, Photographer Frans Dely, AviationDimension.com, Contact + 2782 440 2707

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Cool Runnings, Best Value, Great Fun


Yesterday I got to spend the afternoon at Cool Runnings in Durbanville Cape Town and have to say, if ever there is an activity that under promises and OVER delivers, This is it.

Although Gary had previously rated this activity very highly, (the other blogger who frequents this page) I made assumptions based on price and at R15 a ride, Hell! What do you get for that? A pint of beer at best if you’re that way inclined.

The Cool Runnings activity is essentially dry climate tobogganing on a track resembling a waterslide, it is however made of steel paneling and zig zags down a very long hill.

The way it works is you climb onto a cart at the bottom of the track, you get given a nudge round the first bend at which point the cart hooks onto a cable, the cable then pulls you up a hill more or less the length of two back to back football fields. As soon you reach the top, the cart roles onto the track at which point your ride begins.

The cart come sled, glides on wheels and is designed to fit snuggly underneath you. It is made of a strong plastic compound with a hollow at its backend in which participants seat themselves in. You sit upright with legs slightly bent while your feet push up against the footholds at the front. The brake is mounted at the centre between your knees and your handling of it, is what determines the type of ride you have.

You actually lean forward towards your knees and use your hands to hold the break down, this releases it. The break which resembles a cars gear lever, totally controls the speed at which you go, so if you find that the goings to fast, it can be gently eased up to take a bit of pace off, or not so gently to take a lot of pace off, whichever the situation calls for.

For the speed demons, there’s definitely something in it for you, running the course without using the break, is not for the fainthearted. Once you get a feel for it and really let go, you rocket round the bends far faster than I ever anticipated, it really is something special. If you do build up a head of speed, you have to lean into the curves as you would a motorbike, in saying that, the cart does handle easily and doesn’t take long to get the hang of.

At R15 a ride, R30 for 3 and other bulk buy discounts, Cool Runnings categorically represents the best value for money I have ever encountered for Adventure Activity. It is both addictive and affordable, well done to Cool Runnings on a brilliant initiative.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Segway Way



With Segway KZN being an AdeventureEscapades.co.za Flagship listing and the fact that they offer a tremendous amount of fun at a very affordable price, we thought that in todays Blog we would share their product offering with you. The following is taken straight from their pamphlet:

Good day!

We would like to introduce to you SEGWAY KZN and tell you what we have to offer. Firstly, I would like to explain to you all in brief what a Segway is:

Segways are the worlds only 2 wheeled “self-balancing personal transport system”, also called a PT (Personal Transporter). It is fully battery operated and works together with tilt sensors and gyroscopes so you don’t have to do any balancing, the machine does the balancing for you! It is very easy to learn how to ride, training takes about 5 minutes!!

We offer the following SEGWAY Adventures:

Teambuilding

SEGWAY KZN comes out to your premises and does all sorts of fun activities such as:

Slalom races
Egg and spoon races
Timed race
Tours around your premises
Just to name a few ……

The day’s activities are subject to your location, number of people, duration of the activity and your requirements for example: is the activity objective going to be “competitive” or will it be “just for fun”.

Our teambuilding team will come to your premises and do a Risk Assessment and look at an appropriate area that we can use for our days fun and excitement.

We can also brand up our machines so that they become part of your “Company family”

The package price for this event starts from R2 500!

Beach Front Packages:

1) Gliding Breakfast: SEGWAY KZN will provide your staff with full training before we embark on our Beach Front Tour. Here you will experience the Lower Marine Parade from another view. On a Segway! Believe me it does look different! We stop for Breakfast at the popular Beach Café during or after our tour. What better way is there other than having a snack on the beach, looking out on the sea!

2) Lunch Time Glide: This Tour works the same as the Gliding Breakfast, except it happens during midday! We can stop for lunch at The Beach Café during our tour or after. This is ideal to give your employees their well-deserved time off, out of the office! A good rejuvenation!

3) Sunset Glide: (from 6pm only) Come and experience the warm Durban sunset on a Segway while sipping away on a delicious cocktail at the one and only Beach Café!!

Breakfast, Lunch Time and Sunset Glides @ R200 per person!!
BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL!!

We look forward to offering the SEGWAY excitement to you!

With Gliding Regards
Maria Gouws
Contact Details and More Info, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Places To Jump Off



There are a number of big swings and Bungy Jumps listed on the AdventureEscapades.co.za site, all of which offer an awesome thrill and sport characteristics that give them their own uniqueness and identity.

The Bloukrans Bungy, as declared by Guinness Book of World Records, is the highest commercial Bungy in the world. The Gourits jump offers the best ground rush I’ve ever experienced, while the bridge swing at the same venue, has the perfect pendulum for a really smooth ride above the Gourits river bed. All three mentioned are owned and operated by Face Adrenalin.

Johannesburg boasts the awesome Orlando Towers Power swing of which regular readers of this Blog will be very familiar with. Operating out of the Orlando suburb of historical Soweto, it presents us with the worlds only Big Swing off Cooling Towers. (At the old Orlando Power Station)

And then, featured in the above slide show, there’s the Oribi Gorge swing on Kawazulu Natal’s South Coast. The jump forms part of the Oribi Wild Five offering where other activities such as abseiling, white water rafting, mountain biking and hiking trails are also available.

The Gorge Jump is among the best there is and I’m fairly certain, it’s the highest cliff swing in the world. A cable has been mounted from one side of the canyon to the other spanning its width, while the swing rope, is mounted to a specially engineered mechanism at its centre. The jump zone is next to a waterfall between two very high cliff faces and is incredibly scenic, and the jump itself, is awesome to the extreme.

The only Big Swing Flagship Listing featured on AdventureEscapades.co.za that I haven’t tried, and therefore can’t vouch for personally, is the All Out Adventure swing in central Drakensberg, that has got to change soon though, can’t wait to get there.

Proudly South African, all operators featured have a 100% safety record, and as the Face Adrenalin guys say, the common side effects are post jump grin and post jump adrenalin high, unfortunately the effects only last a few days….Try It, Its Life Changing.

For more info CLICK HERE no HERE, try HERE or even HERE :)

Monday, 20 October 2008

Top Karting, Top Venue



Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, once home to the South African F1 Grand Prix is where you’ll find the countries top karting provider, “Kyalami Kart.” For anyone who has never participated and does have an adventures spirit, I don’t believe this will disappoint, I highly recommend you try it.

The Karts are not difficult to drive and does present us with a huge amount of fast paced fun, where the impression of danger, far exceeds the reality. With the Karts having such a low centre of gravity, the likelihood of them rolling or flipping are extremely slim, while the sensation of high speed driving remains very prevalent. Make no mistake it doesn’t only feel fast because the Karts are close to the ground, karts can go up to 70kl an hour and for those behind the wheel, they soon realize that there’s some driving to be done.

If you are in the Johannesburg area, think no further than the Kyalami venue, in addition to world class karting they also offer an excellent range of facilities to enhance the experience. They do provide rental karts, have bar and restaurant facilities, cater for private parties, conferencing, and for that poor unsuspecting Bachelor…..

That all said and done, their specialty is in fact Corporate Karting where service is of the highest standard and every measure is taken to ensure you have a safe and memorable time. They do have vast experience holding events for groups of all sizes with 850 people, being the largest to date.

For More Information CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Skytrails & Quad Trails, Ballito



Every now then we do in our travels surprise ourselves by encountering a real Pearl of an Adventure Activity operation that we didn’t know existed; in this case it’s particularly surprising and somewhat embarrassing, as it is situated within a 20 minute drive from where I stay.

The breathtakingly scenic Esenembi Valley is situated in the hills of Kwazulu Natal’s North Coast, Just 15 kilometers inland from Ballito. It is absolutely ideal for adventure Activity and is home to “Skytrails,”a Zip Line operation as well as “River Quad Trails,” an official Suzuki Quad Partner, voted in the Top 10 Best Quad Trails in South Africa.

From the photo sequence above one can hopefully get some sort of feel for this truly majestic venue. There is on-site accommodation available in the “Rock River Chalets” as well as Conference Facilities, it is also an ideal set up for Birthday Parties and the like thereof.

With respect to Durban based adventure activity, the significance of “Skytrails” is that besides being very reasonably priced, they are to the best of my knowledge, the only Zipline operation within in reasonably close driving proximity to the City Centre. They are also notably close to Ballito, a favorite Kwazulu holiday destination and a region well known for adventure on offer.

Before coming onboard with AdventureEscapades.co.za their web presence was relatively low key, which in itself, is somewhat surprising for an operation of their stature, it’s almost as though somebody somewhere wanted to keep it Natal’s best kept secret. As I write, I cannot escape the feeling of having discovered an Adventure Gem, and am now revealing it to the world.

If Durban’s North Coast is your destination of choice this season, and a really good adventure experience is somewhere on the agenda, you’ve gotta give these guys call.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

For the Water Babies....

Photo Credit: Matt & Anita (Flickr.com)

South Africa has one of the World's most beautiful and diverse Coastlines. These areas offer a host of water-based Adventure Experiences and Activities. For the Adventure Seeker looking for extreme activities, we can serve up Shark Cage Diving, High Speed Boat trips and Crocodile Cage Diving.

For those looking for something in between, why don't you try your hand at Kite Surfing, Scuba Diving, Deep Sea Game Fishing or Surfing.

If you are looking for something a little more sedate, to get your mind away from that hectic year at the office, why not book a Whale Watching outing, a Sailing trip, a Harbour Cruise or a Kayak Trip.

With some areas in South Africa offering over 300 days of sunshine every year, we really are an Aquatic haven, and if your better half prefers tanning topless on one of the best beaches in the World, fear not, he/she will welcomed with open arms :).

Welcome to our Country, Click here to Pick your Playground.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Adventure Racing & Trail Running


Adventure Racing and Trail Running is becoming more and more popular with organized events happening all around the country. Trail running is about getting outdoors and pushing oneself over hardcore terrain such as mountain trails, over rocks, beaches, rapids and the like thereof. Adventure racing can include such activity as mountain biking, climbing and Abseiling legs.

Adventure Escapades.co.za recently got an e-mail from race organizers “Uge Events” notifying us of the following competitions scheduled to take place.

2008 Uge Events Calendar

26 October:
Salomon Sprint Adventure Race # 4 - Hennops Pride, Centurion / Pretoria
22 November:
The 'Uge Salomon 65km Adventure Race - Rust de Winter, Limpopo
23 November:
Salomon Trail Running Series # 4 - Rust de Winter, Limpopo
20 December:
Salomon Trail Running Series # 5 - Magaliesburg, NW Gauteng

To get hold of the entry form leaflet pertaining to the Salomon Sprint and for further info, visit www.ugeevents.co.za , and for those who don’t know where Centurion is, find the Currie Cup, and from there, drive for 5 and half hours up the N3. :)

(Had to throw that in, ……Go Sharks)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

WHAT’S NEW AT ALLURE … Charters



When the boys at Allure Charters decide its time for a change, they go big or they go home. There have been major changes within their organization all aimed at ensuring the ultimate Kwazulu Natal Fishing Charter Adventure Experience.

After many years of great service and seaworthiness, Allure has been fully kitted out with new technology. With his years of experience in the fishing and boating industry, her new owner Bushy Coltman, has made this possible while her new skipper Len Hutton, brings 29 years of seamanship to the party. Len spent 7 of them operating fishing charters on the St. Lazarus Banks in Mozambique, and while in Zanzibar; he boated a Black Marlin of 293kg / 646lbs.

The Allure website also has a new look; they have in fact totally redeveloped it and can now be found at www.allurecharters.com. Their new site is far more informative and gives a brilliant portrayal of what their operation has to offer. The message is clear: They are extremely committed operators, have a wealth of fishing charter experience, record catches of plenty, and “The Customer Is King” is the philosophy they live by.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Point Blank Service


For those of us who run our own businesses, we know what an awesome and rewarding feeling it is to have clients so happy with service, they feel the need to convey it in writing. It’s silly really, service is what one pays for and should therefore rightfully receive. In saying that, I do feel that when somebody takes the time to send off an e-mail, they’re saying that their experience way exceeded expectation and that they will be recommending you to others.

At AdventureEscapades.co.za we often receive testimonials from clients of operators listed on our site wanting to let us know that they had a brilliant Adventure Experience and that we should pass on the message. Of the testimonials we have received in the last couple of months we have randomly chosen two very contrasting activities to feature, this is directly from the customer’s mouth… pen…fingers ….

Point Blank Paintball:
Hi Andrew We just wanted to say thank you to you guys for the great day yesterday! You guys really made the whole experience great and the girls all had a fantastic time…even Abigayl couldn’t stop talking about it…especially the part about nearly shooting the gun! The personal attention that’s given by yourselves sets you apart from other places. You guys will definitely see us again! Regards, Juan and Derryth

Skydive KZN:
I would just like to say a big thank you to Skydive KZN for an awesome dive on Saturday morning.

I was woken up bright and early on Saturday morning to receive another surprise for my birthday. It was a tandem skydive!

What an awesome experience! To Rogan, Michael and everyone else who helped, thanks guys you were great. You run a really professional and organized ’chaos’ organization. It was really great to see how friendly everyone was and such a great camaraderie between everyone.

Like I said - I WILL BE BACK!!! So see you guys!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Bloukrans Bungy & The Flying Fox



Face Adrenalin, the crew responsible for bringing us the worlds highest commercial Bungy Jump, now offer an amazing "Double Rush Adventure Combo". The newest addition to their adventure offering is the Flying Fox, a 200 m long Zip Line from the top of the valley to the top of the arch at the centre of the bridge.

To put it into perspective, some Bloukrans Bridge facts:

• Bloukrans is the highest and largest bridge in Africa
• The third highest in the world
• It is the world’s largest single span concrete arch bridge

So! If Flying through the air on a Zip Line at +- 216 meters above the ground isn’t enough adventure on its own for you, the Bungy boys on the bridge are ready and waiting to attach the cord. ……It doesn’t get better.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Focus on Kwazulu-Natal (Part Two)


The far Western Border of Kwazulu-Natal boasts the impressive Drakensberg Mountain Range, a World Heritage site, which separates the Province from Lesotho. The Drakensberg extends from the Eastern Cape, through the Southern Berg Region and then onto the Cental and Northern Berg. The mountainous peaks extend over 10,000 feet (3300m) in some places and lend themselves to a myriad of outdoor adventure experiences.

Mountain Climbing, Quad Biking, Gliding, Paragliding, River Rafting, 4x4 Trails, Hiking, Abseiling and Fishing are just some of the numerous adventure activities on offer in this region. Of course this list excludes the two Ski resorts outside of the province. Both are on the Drakensberg range, with one just South of Kwazulu-Natal (in the Eastern Cape) and one just North of the Province (in the Free State).

If that were not enough, Northern Natal offers a unique combination of world renowned and historically significant Battlefields. The site of several titanic battles between the Zulus and the English last Century, Adventure Tourists flock to this area to view the sites and re-enact the battles. Northern Natal also offers one of the best Game Reserves in South Africa, Ithala, which is just East of Vryheid. The area offers Hunting, Fishing, Birding, Flying, Hiking, 4x4 Trails and one of the best Paragliding sites in South Africa - Dumbe Mountain (see picture below).

All in all, Kwazulu-Natal is a must for any serious Adventure Tourist. We guarantee that you will find just about any Adventure Experience on offer and the warm and friendly nature of the locals will remain with you forever.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Focus on Kwazulu-Natal (Part one)


Today's post focuses on Kwazulu-Natal, one of nine Provinces in South Africa. Kwazulu-Natal, or KZN as it is affectionately known by the locals, is one of the World's hidden tourist gems and is situated in the North East corner of South Africa. The Province borders on three other countries, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mocambique and is divided into 10 different regions and has two cities, Durban and Pietermaritzburg (the Capital).

Along the coast, from North to South, there is Zululand, the Dolphin Coast, Durban and the South Coast. Moving Inland, we have Pietermaritzburg and the Natal Midlands about an hour to the West of Durban and then Northern Natal in the North and the Northern, Central and Southern Drakensberg in the West.

Zululand offers the Adventure Tourist, amongst many other treats, a host of World Class Game Reserves, the Izimagaliso World Heritage site (previously the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, Boat-based Whale Watching, Sailing Charters and Big Game Fishing.

The Dolphin Coast is the site of the new Durban International Airport, which will be finished in 2009 and will offer tourists direct flights to the Province. It is has some of South Africa's finest Real Estate and has been identified by the Provincial and National Government as a Development Zone. Last week, the Dubai-based Ruwaad Holdings announced that they will be building a $5bn African theme park called Amazulu World. The park will be just North of the Tugela River and will be centred on a statue of King Shaka, one of the most formidable Zulu Warriors. The Statue will be hire than the Statue of Liberty and should be an amazing landmark along the Kwazulu-Natal coastline. The first phase of this project is estimated for completion in 2014. The region offers some excellent water based activities as well as one of the top 10 Quad Bike trails in South Africa.

Durban, one of the Host Cities for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, is a holiday mecca, with Local and International Tourists flocking to the City for Holidays and Sporting events. Home to some of South Africa's great Ultra Distance sporting events, including the Comrades Marathon, Duzi Canoe Marathon and the Amashovashova Cycle Race, the city is one of the major Adventure Tourism Hubs in South Africa. There is just to much to do to list here, but use the Location Search on the top left of this page for a list of all the activities in Durban.

The South Coast is littered with coastal resorts and offers good Surfing, Diving and a range of other activities included the impresive Gorge Swing at Oribi Gorge. The Region also boast some of the best Golf Course in South Africa and borders on the pristine Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

Check out tomorrow's post for some more useful information on the remaining regions of Kwazulu-Natal.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Ndlondlo: Snake Prevention, Part 3 of 3


What to do when a snake is encountered.

1) Freeze and then analyze the situation. If the snake is in motion check which direction it is going.
2) If the snake is coming towards you don’t freeze to long, try to move out of its
path preferably 90 degrees to the direction of travel! If in the unlikely event of the snake changing direction to follow you, change direction again and retreat hastily!
4) Once the direction of travel has been determined try to maintain visual contact from a safe distance. Get someone to call a professional to deal with the situation. (Always alert neighbours.)
5) If the snake is at rest do not disturb it, maintain visual contact, alert your neighbours and call a professional.
6) If the snake is in a room simply close the windows and doors if it is safe to do so. If not appoint “watchers” at all exits and call an expert.
7) When calling a snake handler be clear with directions, address and try to give an accurate description of the colour, length and thickness of the snake. If possible post someone at your gate so that minimum time is lost when the handler arrives.
8) When the expert arrives stay clear and allow him to work without distractions.


Brought To You compliments of Ndlondlo Reptile Park, Ballito.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Ndlondlo, Snake Prevention, Part 2 of 3


When you are away from home enjoying the outdoors always keep in mind that you are now a guest in someone else’s backyard! The probability of encountering a snake is quite high. The risk can be halved if you follow these simple guidelines.

When you are outdoors:

1) If the terrain is hilly try to avoid north facing slopes.
2) Always wear suitable foot ware such as boots that reach high above the ankle. With that wear longs that cover the top of your boots, fit loosely and preferably denim material.
3) As far as possible try to step in open ground where you can see where you place your feet.
4) Step onto logs and rocks rather than next to or over them!
5) Be extra careful after dark and don’t walk around without a good light of sorts.
6) When camping out check your bedding before you bed down for the night. Be particularly wary in cooler weather as snakes may seek shelter and warmth.
7) When hiking in the veld always be aware where you place your hands. Often a person may use his hands to steady himself if the footing is treacherous.
8) When lifting logs or rocks use a lever of sorts rather than place your hands into unseen places. This practice will safeguard you against spider bites and scorpion stings as well.
9) When snakes are encountered, leave them alone and warn everyone in the party. AVOID THAT AREA as most snakes are territorial to some degree.
10) Keep an eye out for areas that have a healthy supply of food as such areas are more likely to have a resident snake population than areas with little food. Be aware of weather conditions, warm days just prior to cold fronts often spark snake activity. Periods just before, during and immediately after are prone to increased snake activity.

Courtesy of Ndlondlo Reptile Park

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Ndlondlo: Snake Prevention, Part 1


In Response to Yesterdays post pertaining to the reasons why Adventure Sport enthusiasts should empower themselves with the knowledge to deal with snake related situations, Ndlondlo Reptile Park in Ballito forwarded us, (to pass onto our readers) some VERY GOOD pointers on how to minimize contact with snakes, it’s quite a lengthy document so we will break it down into three parts over the next three posts.

Part 1:
When at home
Part 2: When you are outdoors.
Part 3: What to do when a snake is encountered

Part 1: At Home

Keep in mind that the Dolphin coast is a snake friendly environment! Snakes have three basic requirements namely shelter, food and water. Since all households require water most houses will have a drain system of sorts, garden taps and maybe a fish pond or water feature.

The water factor becomes almost impossible to eliminate. Water attracts toads and frogs which is food for most species of snakes. Most gardeners pride themselves on their gardens bird population, many of us feed our birds and may even have an aviary in the garden! Rats and mice are also attracted to “bird feeders”. Most snakes eat rats, mice and birds.

The most common animal in any Dolphin coast home is the tropical house gecko, although mainly hunted by the harmless bush snakes both bush snake and gecko fall prey to boomslang and vine snakes. The tropical garden provides more than enough shelter for most species of snakes without the garden sheds, retainer walls and other structures we so kindly provide.

A standard budgie breeding box will comfortably house three or even four, thee meter black mambas. Just think how much shelter your garden provides for a poor homeless snake trying to eek out a living in an ever shrinking environment.

To eliminate snakes is near impossible! Awareness is your best bet, be alert to unusual behaviour by your pets, garden birds, mongoose and even monkeys. When they spot snakes their normal behaviour changes. It is important to train your children to be aware and also what to do if they should happen upon a snake.

Part 2 …. Tomorrow

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Snake Courses, Why Do Them?


One of the activities we feature regularly in this Blog and also have a dedicated listing page for, is that pertaining to individuals and facilities that provide snake course training, some may ask the why? What’s that got to do with adventure activity?

Well for one, the above picture has been seen by quite a few skydivers Bunji Jumpers and the likes thereof, whose first reaction to it was that Mikes mad, Mikes and many others for that matter, think people that willingly jump out of aeroplanes are the ones that are not altogether there, so, different strokes for different folks. My view is that most people have a natural fear associated to these creatures and that handling them, is very adventurous and about overcoming that said fear.

The reason for doing it though, isn’t and shouldn’t be, for any form of adrenalin chasing. A good reason for Adventure Sport enthusiasts to get involved is to empower themselves with knowledge to effectively handle any snake situation, should it arise.

Most Adventure Activity takes place in the great outdoors and snakes are common in South Africa. The snake course operators featured on our site are all FGASA approved (Field Guides Association of South Africa) and are on a mission to dispel the many myths that surround these slithery reptiles.

The Reality is, in most cases if you know what you are doing, and remain calm, danger can very easily be avoided. A lot of species are in fact harmless, wouldn’t be nice to be able to identify them and actually enjoy seeing them without fear.

Most Adventure enthusiasts are extremely committed to their sport, mountain bikers and the like thereof, are generally not shy to ensure they are well equipment to enhance their biking endeavors, we recommend adding a snake courses certification to the list of “Must Haves”.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

News From The Towers



I was just reading through the Orlando Towers newsletter which by the way, anyone can subscribe to by simply logging onto their website and following a few simple instructions, and as usual, there is no shortage of exciting things happening in the land of the Worlds First BIG SWING between the two vertical cooling towers.

The Old Cliché: “Regardless of how brilliant a concept you have, it’s no good if people don’t know about it” “Old”…Yes …Cliché …Yes…..True, also Yes. It’s a fact, one should never stop looking for new and innovative ways to market ones product. Orlando Towers offer one of the best adventure experiences I have ever been a part of, and with its uniqueness, it’s just a question of time before word spreads, nonetheless, tomorrow is a big day for them.

During morning peak hour, they will find themselves on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in the Sandton area, north of Johannesburg. They will be setting up a mini swing with the JUMP CREW handing out brochures to all those heading to work. They ask that if you do drive past, to give them a HOOT AND WAVE!!! And to please also take a whole lot of brochures and hand it out to your colleagues at work.

They are also extremely excited about hosting the Moroka Swallows soccer team, later in the morning. They ask that you feel free to swing past the towers around 10am to meet your favorite stars and apparently, so far 7 have confirmed to jump!!! The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if it isn’t an elaborate scheme to spy on PSL league rivals Orlando Pirates, the top of those towers make a great vantage point …NO BINOCULARS ALLOWED. :)

Then lastly congratulations to the Orlando Towers team, who among several Johannesburg tourism related operators considered, was voted BEST, by the Young Presidents Association, out from the USA. The association is renowned for its promoting of exceedingly high standards. WELL DONE ....you deserve it

Monday, 6 October 2008

Close Encounter of the Reptilian Kind



I recently came across this thoroughly enjoyable article by Bawinile Ngcobo which she penned for the North Coast Courier, (local KZN North Coast Paper) wherein she excellently describes her personal encounter of the Reptilian Kind, the day she visited Ndlondlo Reptile Park. Although the date referred to at the end has long since past, the courses are run regularly, so if interested contact Dawn, hope you find it as interesting as I did.

“Its skin felt smooth and slippery and when it started to move against my hand, my heart started pounding. All I could think was that it was going to turn around and strike me and that I was going to die!

On May 19 I touched a snake for the first time at the Ndlondlo Reptile Park. I was petrified at first but after the second and the third time, my fear had subsided and I realized that the experience was not that scary.

Why do most people, myself included, have such a great fear of snakes?

Ndlondlo Reptile Park owner Neville Wolmarans said fear is natural, but it becomes a problem when people are paranoid about snakes.

“Encounters with snakes are to be expected while living on the North Coast. In most cases if you see a snake they are just passing through the area and you don’t have to kill them. It is also important to be able to differentiate between the dangerous and the harmless snakes.

“On the North Coast the dividing line is the N2 freeway. We rarely get green mambas on the western side of the N2 and we rarely get black mamba’s on the eastern side of the N2.”

One of the dangerous snakes that North Coast residents must be on the lookout for are Forest Cobra’s. Neville said the population is moving south all the time.

“Twenty years ago they were common in Zinkwazi and recently we have found them in Westbrook.”

The Mozambique spitting cobras are mostly found to the West of the N2 and rarely on the Eastern side. They are well-known for spitting at the faces of their victims. Boomslangs, Vine snakes and night adders are also common all over the North Coast.

“The night adder is not very dangerous but its bite is painful. The wound will swell up and leave a blue bruise.”

Neville said there are also many harmless snakes that can be found in North Coast gardens and homes.

First on the list is the Herald snake. These small snakes range from 150mm to about 600mm long. Their colours are extremely variable, but are mainly light brown to dark grey. The distinguishing feature is that the head appears to be darker than the rest of the body. These snakes are very common in gardens where they hunt frogs. Neville said they are often confused with black mambas, which are much bigger.

The brown house snake is also a very common harmless snake. Their colour is also variable, from light brown to dark brown and even an olive colour. They are attracted to houses where there are birds and bats present.

“They have lots of white or yellow speckles and lighter or darker spots on their body. The distinguishing feature is the white line above the eye on either side of the head,” said Neville.

The other harmless snake found on the North Coast is the Bush snake. There are four common species, which are all green. They are all long, slender snakes of about 1 metres in length. They are about as thick as a pen and are common in houses with lizards and geckos.

Bush snakes are easily distinguished from green mambas and boomslangs by their long thin tails. Green mambas and boomslangs have thick tails that end abruptly.

Neville said the main distinguishing feature between dangerous and harmless snakes is their size.

“Dangerous snakes are a metre plus long and are thick while the harmless snakes are under a metre long and have thinner, more slender bodies.”

He said people who have a fear of snakes should come to the snake park and familiarize themselves with the snakes.

For those who are interested in learning more about snake identification and how to treat a snakebite, the Reptile Park will run a course on May 31. For more information about the course contact Dawn on 084 240 3318 or e-mail to dawn@telkomsa.net.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Swooping - Only for Experienced Skydivers

Photo Courtesy of www.precision.aero


The thrill of skydiving, for someone new to the sport, involves various elements. The first is probably the pre-experience exhiliration - knowing the week before that you are going to jump out of a perfectly functioning aeroplane, for no reason other than to get a kick. I am sure the Martians watching still question our sanity at times!

The second, if you have not flown in a light aircraft, is the experience of taking off and climbing up to your jump altitude. Depending on the configuration of the jump plane, you may either have no view of the ground, or you will slowly see landmarks on the ground becoming VERY small. I guess both build up the adrenalin levels!

Finally, with the door open and the wind rushing past the plane, you take the big plunge and start the actual experience - about 40 seconds of freefall and a canopy ride down to the relative safety of the ground.

If you thought that was it for your first jump, you are spot on. However, as with any sport, that is just the beginning and there are many opportunities for you to up the adrenalin stakes once a 'normal' jump doesn't clear those cobwebs anymore.

One of these is something called Swooping. Only for very experience Skydivers, the object of this exercise is to approach the ground/water with as much speed as possible and then glide across the surface for as long as possible.

As a variation of the sport, skydivers often do this over a pond or body of water and drag their feet in the water as the speed bleeds off. In fact this has become so popular that it has now evolved into a competitive sport. Participants have to cover a course on the surface, navigating around a number of obstacles.

Anything close to the ground, at high speed, sounds like loads of fun, but as always things can quite easily go pear-shaped. Therefore, this is another one of those extreme sports that comes with the label, "Do not try this at home". In fact, this sport is only for experience skydivers and even then, broken bones are not uncommon when conditions aren't optimal or the Swooper misjudges the approach.

For more information on Swooping, check out www.swooping.net

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Kiteboarding in Cape Town - Well sort of...



So you thought you needed a Kite to Kite Board? Well, Yes and No! South African's are known to be fairly innovative creatures and in this video you can see what happens when you put together a Saffa, a Landie and a KiteBoard!

Speaking of innovation, this past week saw the launch of an Uber-Sexy new Electric Car, called the Joule. The Joule was conceptualised, designed and built in South Africa, by South Africans. It is definitely not the first Electric Car to hit the market, but is one of the more stylish cars I have seen in a while.

The manufacturer claims an overnight charge will give 7 hours of driving time. That sounds great in principle, but there are still a couple of questions I would like answered before I trade in my gas guzzler for this green alternative :)

For more details, check out this video which includes some footage of the launch.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Stormsriver Adventure Experience


I just spent the last couple of hours working on a listing page for “Stormsriver Adventures;” the newest addition to our AdventureEscapades.co.za site, and have to say, I am thrilled to have them onboard.

They operate in a region that is world renowned for its natural beauty, its breathtaking scenery and its famous Otto Trail. In a previous life, I worked for big Johannesburg based corporate that in 2002 required me to spend a year in Port Elizabeth, a period which in truth marked the start of my own adventure escapades, it was at this stage that I did my first Bungy Jump and have never looked back since.

I was required to regularly travel the Garden Route between Port Elizabeth and George providing operational management to retail stores, and wholly fell in love with what I can only describe as an incredibly majestic part of the world. I have traveled quite extensively and can say without hesitation that the Storms River / Tsitsikamma Region is my favorite place on earth.

Besides its unsurpassed natural beauty, it is Mecca of Adventure Activity and "Stormsriver Adventures" does offer a variety of them. They have the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours in their stable and also offer the Woodcutters Journey, Forest Guided Hikes, Big Tree and Spirit of Tsitsikamma Eco Wilderness Boat Cruises, as well as various teambuilding programs.

As noted: A visit to Stormsriver Adventures is a MUST for: "A TSITSIKAMMA EXPERIENCE YOU WILL NEVER FORGET"!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Thrill of Skydiving



Let’s face it, there isn’t much about that realistically compares to the thrill of a good 40 second freefall, it’s a sensation that’s virtually impossible to make sense of, “those who do, can't explain; those who don't, can't understand." Those who want to embark upon an adventure experience that will no doubt stay with them forever, can choose from one of two great operators prominently featured on AdventureEscapades.co.za, South Africa’s most comprehensive adventure activity portal.

The one is an old Natal favorite "Skydive KZN", just outside of Durban, while the other is “Tandem Skydive Adventures” situated at Wonderboom airport, centrally located to be the closest Skydiving Centre to Pretoria and Johannesburg both.

While surfing the Net for inspiration to best verbalize what skydiving means to Skydivers I came across a site called www.corephotography.co.uk that have a listed several “Skydiving Quotes.” Below are some of the ones I particularly liked, hope you enjoy:

"The higher we soar, the smaller we seem to those who cannot fly."
"If you want to experience the REALLY great outdoors, fly up in an airplane and step OUTDOORS !"!"
"Know skydiving, know life..... NO skydiving, NO life"
"I live with fear and terror, but sometimes I leave her and go skydiving."
"Air cooled, gravity powered."
"Air is like water, just less dense ... but at 120 mph you can grab it and pull on it.."
"I've gone to several drop zones that have signs saying 'No Low Pulls'... Well, rules or not, if I get low I'm pulling."
"Skydivers don’t let friends jump pink!"
"There is a reason to life. We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!"
"You will begin to touch heaven in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn't flying a thousand miles per hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have limits. Perfect speed is being there."
"If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, get out of the vehicle."

And The Best of All …….

"...And once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been, and there you long to return..." - Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Land Rover Gear, On-Line


One of my all time favorite adventure brands has to be that of Land Rover, they have been around FOREVER and are synonymous with overland exploration and trailblazing of the highest order. It is also the brand of choice for world renowned humanitarian and adventurer extodinair, Kingsley Holgate.

The shopping centre nearest to where I stay is Gateway in Umlanga Rocks Durban, and usually after much pointless protest, when I do get dragged off to "The Mall," I needless to say can’t resist visiting the Land Rover Gear Shop, just to have a quick peak, at what’s new in adventure apparel.

The other day in doing so, I found out something I thought to be interesting, and worthy of mention. Managing Director of Land Rover Gear South Africa is none other than well known South African adventure personality, Chester Foster. Chester’s passions include running, hiking, paddling (most disciplines), mountain biking, fishing and his greatest love, adventure racing.

Close to our own hearts, they have now entered into the fascinating world of e-commerce, and do boast one of best websites (www.landrovergear.co.za) I have seen in a very long time. Besides great pic’s and lots of interesting info, the site essentially allows enthusiasts to purchase Land Rover Gear without having to, well …..drive their Land Rover to the dreaded Mall.

AdventureEscapades.co.za commends them on a brilliant site, a brilliant concept, and wishes them everything of the best.