Saturday, 31 January 2009

Zandeo Endurance Horse Trails


Yesterday I spoke to Theus Badenhorst from Zandeo Endurance Horse Trails who filled me in on his extraordinary adventure offering. The more he told me, the more it made me think of the classic Billy Crystal movie “City Slickers” where his character along with a bunch of friends, decide to go on a journey of self discovery by embarking upon a horse riding cowboy type overland adventure.

Theus’s activity essentially also centres around overland horse riding adventure, and definitely isn’t for those wanting a Sunday afternoon outride. What they offer does sound like an awesome adventure experience and presents enthusiasts with one-of-a-kind challenges and memories while exploring South Africa’s ruggedness and natural beauty. Keeping in mind that the seasons do affect viability of some, the trails to choose from are as follows:

• The Magaliesberg - Green Summer 50 km Trail.
• The Kalahari Sands 100 mile Trail.
• The Namaqua Flower Desert 100 mile Trail.
• The Eastern Free State Mountain Trail over 120 km.

Packages are all inclusive and accommodation varies from five-star lodges to basic dome tent camping in remote areas. All trails span a period of several days and to find out more, visit Theus’s website on www.zandeotrails.co.za, and remember for your Adventure Activity of choice, AdventureEscapades.co.za is where you are guaranteed to find it.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Extreme 19th


Legend Golf and Safari Resort in the Big Five Entabeni Safari Conservancy in Limpopo, present golfers with a unique challenge they call the Extreme 19th. The figurative 19th hole, the one in the club house that serves cold frosties, is usually where I'm on top of my game; however the 19th hole we refer to in this instance, is definitely not for the golfing fainthearted.

The tee-off for it, is 400m above ground on top of the Hanglip mountain, a vantage point from where the shape of the green, that of the African continent, can clearly be identified along with its surrounding bunkers. To get to the top and back, helicopter shuttle is the prefered mode of transport; giving the experience that extra touch of exclusivity.

Wednesdays Mercury (Natal Newspaper) informed us that the course's eighteen holes where all designed by golfing professionals, and that Open Champion Padraig Harrington took a helicopter ride to inspect his contribution, hole number 10. While doing so he stopped off at the top to take on the Extreme 19th, and not surprisingly, he cracked the par 3 first time.

He apparently smashed his competition ball into the bunker, flew down for the second stroke, chipped it out to about 18 inches away, and casually putted it in. To most, turning a golfing experience into an adventure experience may well seem new and innovative, to me it’s always been an adventure sport, and there is many a miserable caddy to attest to that.

Anybody who has ever played with me, Geoff Milton comes to mind, will tell you that it involves plenty of overland hiking, trail blazing, endurance walking, orienteering, and boldly going where no golfer has ever gone before. For me it’s an elitist adaptation of the reality series Survivor, “Survivor Durban Country Club” where that figurative 19th hole, is the only one I’ve ever mastered.

The above photograph comes from www.zimbio.com An Interactive Magazine With 15 Million Readers A Month.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Cycling in Soweto



Lebo of Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers offers punters a unique, informative and fun adventure experience that definitely won’t be found elsewhere. He and Maria essentially offer guided cycle tours to Soweto’s many places of historical significance, as well as the option of an overnight stay, allowing this friendly and vibrant township to welcome you to its unique nightlife culture.

As small businesses go, this is one that has generated lots of interest and has received praise from quarters far and wide. The Sunday times featured them in its Business Times section where Lebo and his team were commended for their entrepreneurialism and originality. He and Maria were also guests on SA FM daytime radio and too made an appearance on Morning Live, the SA version of breakfast TV.

Of course he will tell you that as far as exposure goes, all that pales in comparison to headlining on Ern’s Blog, (everybody’s a comedian) sincerely though, Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers is a small business that’s making a big impact and one we are proud to be associated with. For more info CLICK HERE, and to close, I leave you with some testimonials taken from their website.

Na, changed my mind, there are to many of them and I’m undecided as to which ones to pick, instead here’s the back link, have a look for yourselves, and while you’re there, why not check out the rest of their new funky website: Lebo’s Reviews.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Quad Biking, Off-Road Adventures



Sticking with yesterday’s theme of quad biking, if ever there is a page on AdventureEscapades.co.za that does have entirely awesome photographs on it that calls me to the activity, it is, you guessed it, another quad biking outfit. I refer to Chris and the team at Off-Road Adventures, who run their operation out of Underberg in the Southern Drakensberg Region.

Maybe because snow is something you seldom see in Sunny South Africa, or perhaps it’s the stark natural beauty and wide open spaces of the unspoilt mountainous expanse, whatever the reason, it’s an awesome offering that ranks among our best.

Some observant person recently pointed out that I tend to place huge emphasis on surroundings and scenery when reviewing an activity. The truth is I do indeed, and don’t deny that for me it is an imperative factor. So much of South Africa’s adventure activity takes place in areas of extreme natural beauty, and being part of the great outdoors is a welcoming facet that wholly enhances the adventure experience.

Getting back to the activity itself, if you haven’t already gathered, their specialty is Quad Tours and Adventure Quad Trails. In explaining why they sometimes get to see snow and the rest of us don’t, their tours begin at 2874m above sea level, from the highest pub in Africa. Quads are all 250cc and 300cc fully auto and private quads are welcome on their 2 - 4 day tours. Maximum weight allowed on quads is 130kg, which means that my partner Gary and I, just about qualify for this one, just kidding Gary …… :)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Quad Biking, Dolphin Coast



I got a phone call yesterday form somebody who asked me to recommend a really good quad biking venue in the greater Durban area. He explained to me that he and some mates were shooting down from Johannesburg over the coming weekend and were hoping to get some quad biking in, along with some other weekend festivities that will no doubt lead to a collective hangover.

When he mentioned that they would be staying in Ballito, without hesitation I recommended River Quad Trails situated just 15km inland from where they were headed. He clearly wasn’t the bluntest tool in the shed as he asked about my personal experience with them and wanted to know how I had found their trails. When I informed him that I hadn’t yet participated, he rightfully enquired as to what I base my glowing recommendation on then.

I explained how I know the owner Johan and that he for starters, is a salt of the earth type character, or as some South African like to say “a lank good oak.” Although I haven’t personally been out on the quads with them, I have spent plenty of time at the picturesque Esenembi Valley, where they operate both the quads and their Skytrails operation from, and there’s no mistaking it’s an excellent venue.

Then there is that minor little matter of being rated by Suzuki as one of South Africa’s top 10 quad biking venues. In fact, if it’s truly adventure experience you are after, you can’t go too wrong giving Johan a call. The venue offers excellent views, quad biking, Skytrails (Ziplines), paintball as well as self catering accommodation, and they are now also in the process of building a dive pool. Watch this space.

Monday, 26 January 2009

500 Days To Go



Ever since the announcement that South Africa would be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, not surprisingly, every man and his dog has had something to say about it.

The usual profits of doom appeared who started off by saying that we’re incapable of having the stadiums ready on time, it then became public transport, sub standard airports, and so on and so on. It also gave those painful soap box types something to moralize, that being the belief that World Cup 2010 is an extravagance the continent can ill afford and that the money would be far better spent alleviating some of Africa’s many deficiencies.

All that aside, being awarded the privilege of staging the greatest show on earth is a huge honor and one that any country would be proud of. The eyes of the world are upon us, and with just 500 days to go till kick off, we prepare ourselves for what is going to be the biggest party this country has ever seen, the magnitude of which I don’t think we South Africans quite comprehend yet.

Soccer is played in every corner of the world and all 32 finalists are in with a very good chance of making it through to the knock out stages. It is a sport that evokes unrivaled passion and make no mistake, when the masters of the game like Torres, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kak√° and Gerrard all arrive in town, they will have come for soccer’s Holy Grail, I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

Rugby World cup 1995 was something few South Africans will ever forget, not only because it produced one of our proudest sporting moments ever, but the atmosphere and the festive mood surrounding the event was something we had never experienced before, well fellow countryman, BRACE YOURSELVES, you aint seen nothing yet.

Picture sequence, Durban 2010 World Cup stadium at various stages of development, courtesy of Skyimaging.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Scorpion Queen


One man’s adventure experience is another man’s madness, at least that’s what those who comment from the peanut gallery will have us think. Using bungy jumping as a choice of example, for every person who bungy jumps off the Bloukrans bridge, its a strong likelihood that there will be somebody around to tell them just how nuts they are.

The jumper one assumes does fully comprehend the immense breaking strength of the equipment, the high standard of safety operators subscribe to, takes into account that never before has a grim incident occurred there, and knows that the chances are a million times more of something going wrong simply driving a car.

Chasing the next adventure experience is something that has had an adverse effect on my personal life over the years, especially in my twenties before settling down. I have had more than the odd girlfriend who couldn’t face living with my adventure activity endeavors and yes faithful reader, I too have been called mad for taking calculated risks where the odds more than favored a safe outcome.

It is with this in mind that I feel like a complete hypocrite, for bringing to your attention somebody who I think is a 42 carrot nutter, for also simply doing what it is she does. On page 2 of this morning’s Sunday Times they had a photograph of Thailand’s Kanchana Kaetkaew aka “Scorpion Queen” with two giant size scorpions attached to her face. For the boys who I know are thinking it, yes she is a good looking lady, providing you can look past that scorpion thing she’s got going.

As the storey goes, she at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in Pattaya Thailand, has just set a new record of 33 days in a glass enclosure with 5000 live adult scorpions. I realize that those who live glass enclosures shouldn’t throw stones or even worse, use that dreaded word “but” in a sentence, but, this one really is an activity I am battling to get my head around. One thing I am reasonably sure of though, is this record will stand for a long time to come; I can’t imagine too many takers lining up for it.

Photo: LA REINA DE LOS ESCORPIONES PRETENDE ESTABLECER UN NUEVO RECORD GUINNES, by morabetmo courtesy of www.flickr.com.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Reptile Adventure Experience



I think I must have had a deprived childhood of sorts for the reason that as a kid growing up in Sea Point Cape Town, I don’t think my parents ever took me to a zoo, a reptile park or let alone a game reserve. The closest I ever came to animal life, was a border collie named Sox and the abundance of chameleons that existed on a lemon tree that grew outside my window.

As things happen, in 2008 I got to meet a lot of the reptile park owners and in doing so came to the poignant realization that I had missed out on something special. Today I live on Kwazulu Natal’s dolphin coast and visiting the reptile parks in my area, is something that I derive tremendous pleasure from. Maybe those chameleons did have an influence after all.

Some of our AdventureEscapades.co.za subscribers, do not think a visit to a reptile park should rightfully be referred to as an adventure experience. I disagree, for many who have never got up close and personal with snake before, wearing a large species around the neck like a scarf, albeit a harmless breed, does definitely get the adrenalin pumping.

On a personal note, I do particularly enjoy being around those very big chameleon type things Peter Watson calls crocs. Peter owns Croc Creek and I was privileged enough to have been given a private tour of the facility. Take it from somebody who has participated in most adventure activity, casually walking through the crocodile enclosures with plenty of live croc in them, definitely constitutes an adventure experience, and one that won’t be forgotten for a long long time to come. :)

Above pic sequence, taken at Ndlondlo Reptile Park.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Treetop Adventure


For a really worthwhile adventure experience, you can’t go to wrong at any of the Canopy Tour franchises. Canopy Tours essentially offer zip line excursions above forest tree tops and are located in some of South Africa’s most picturesque regions.

Having once met with the franchisor, I can tell you that they are extremely strict on the sites that they choose, and will only allow operators into the fold who propose locations that have natural beauty in abundance.

The reason for it being, they value splendor of surroundings as a standout feature of any of their Canopy Tour experiences, they essentially pride themselves on combining the beauty of nature with the thrill of adventure.

The above pic was taken at the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, in the Storms River region of what is affectionately known as the Garden Route. The region is world renowned for its awe-inspiring forests, breathtaking mountains, unspoilt coast-line and let’s not forget the Otto Trail. As further incentive to visit those parts, the world’s highest Bungy jump is also just down the drag.

Photo: Treetop Adventure by Jumbo22 courtesy of www.flickr.com

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Quad Biking in Elgin


I recently had a conversation with Richard, owner and operator of an Elgin Valley based business called Kamazoo Quad. When I mentioned to him that his Google Ads do from time to time make an appearance on our blog page, he responded with both laughter and approval. He jovially conceded that he had never seen one himself and was delighted to hear that others had.

With this in mind the aim of today’s blog is two fold, firstly to introduce Kamazoo to you faithful reader, and secondly out shear curiosity, to see if Google Ads can be induced. Admittedly I don’t have a cooking clue as to how and why Google choose which ads go where; I am however guessing that if I write about Kamazoo quads, the ad is likely to follow below.

About the activity itself, I haven’t had the good fortune as of yet, it is however high up on the list of things to do when next in the fairest Cape. What I can tell you is a good friend who has had the pleasure, had some very exciting things to say about it, rating it as among the best quad outings they have ever been on.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Elgin Valley region, it is nestled among the Capes Hottentots Holland mountain range and is incredibly picturesque. With its seemingly endless mountain peaks, fruit trees, cool-climate wines and breathtaking views, I can’t imagine that quad biking in those parts can be anything other than spectacular.

Back to my experiment, if the Google ad for Kamazoo Quad does appear below, experiment successful. If not, well, to find out more you will just have to click HERE instead. And of course don’t forget, whatever the adventure Experience you seek, you are guaranteed to find it on AdventureEscapades.co.za South Africa’s biggest and best adventure activity web portal.

Photo: Dawn at Nuweberg Dam near Elgin. Uploaded by Steve Crane on www.flickr.com

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

KZN South Coast Adventure



In yesterdays somewhat obscure post, in support of the photo I had chosen to go with it, I made mention of my friend George, at Oribi Gorge. To put it into perspective, the activity provider I was referring to is called Wild 5 and presents us with one of South Africa’s most awesome adventure activity offerings.

Oribi Gorge is located just inland of Port Shepstone on Kwazulu Natal’s south coast and is an incredibly scenic unspoilt region, making it an excellent sector for adventure activity. Wild 5, as the name suggests, offers 5 different activities with their flagship being the adrenalin pumping Wild 5 Gorge swing.

Other activities include river rafting, hiking and mountain biking as well as abseiling, which takes place down the cliff face just to the left of gorge swing. Admittedly, the first time I went down there was with a bunch of mates who were all pumped for the gorge jump, at no point beforehand, did I consider just how awe-inspiring the venue and its surroundings would be. The views we encountered are breathtaking and Oribi Gorge in my opinion, is KZN’S secret treasure.

There is a delightful hotel at the venue for those wishing to stay over or perhaps are in need of a romantic getaway. We on the other hand drove down from Durban in the morning, it took us just over an hour, and we drove back late afternoon. It is a bit of a drive, it does nonetheless make for a fun day out and a great adventure experience.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

From Quad Biking to Microlighting


Today I have a strange ambition,
To break the norm of Blog tradition.
Today I write a post in Rhyme;
I’m hoping it will save me time.

The benefits are plain to see,
same space less words less work for me.
So here begins a brave new venture,
A rhyming blog about adventure.

From planes trains to mountain biking,
fishing, quads and trail hiking.
The flying thrill they call free fall,
bungy, skydive, we've got it all.

Adventure Activity is what we do
so join us now for a ride in a canoe.
Live your life the adventurous way,
visit AdventureEscapades, dot co dot za.

PS

So much for my rhyming mission.
Clearly I am no magician.
I have learnt it does take time,
To come up with a freaking rhyme.

Above Pic: My friend George at Oribi Gorge.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Something Fishy


When I’m not writing about activity operators who have already supplied me with photos, or I don’t have any of my own on hand to support whatever the topic of the day is, I usually go onto the web and search for either the right YouTube video, or a photograph from one of those sites that allow free downloads. My first port of call is always Flickr.com and usually don’t then have to look much further.

Generous people from all around the world are kind enough to upload their pics for people like me to download. I regularly go onto Flickr and simply do a search; for example, yesterday I entered “flight 1549” and ended up with loads to choose from before settling on the one of the heroic pilot.

One that did give me a good laugh and admittedly, I was very tempted to use, was a picture of some guy standing on the roof of the half sunken plane, fishing rod in hand, having just landed what looks like a marlin. From what I understand the Hudson is not the cleanest river in the world and it would take an exceptionally brave person to drink from it, so Mmmmmm where do you think that big fish came from? :)

On a more serious note if you want to read about a crew that really does know how to land the big ones, especially Marlin off the coast of Durban, Click Here to visit Allure Charters. Len and his team hold several South African deep sea fishing records and are a great bunch of guys to spend a day on the water with. It’s an adventure experience that will have you coming back for more.

Photo, "Flight 1549 Fishing Competition" uploaded on January 15, 2009
by Las Tonterias on www.flickr.com

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Chesley Sullenberger, Captain Fantastic


A Big Big storey in media this week, that had me absolutely riveted to the news channels was the emergency landing of airwat flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson river. To put it into perspective, if you Google the search term “Flight 1549” it already comes up with 704 000 results, the incident only occurred on Thursday.

The word miracle has featured in many of the headlines, and although airline pilots are highly trained to deal with the unlikely event of this sort of thing happening, it takes a very special individual to do what Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger did.

A partner in AdventureEscapades.co.za Gary, is a qualified pilot and is the first to say that no amount tribute will ever be sufficient for aviations newest and improbable hero. I say improbable as he has completely shyed away from the media, and from the photo above, he looks like the ordinary sort who lives next door with his wife and two children.

Passengers interviewed, spoke of how Captain Fantastic once having got the plane down, then had the presence of mind to take charge of the safety and evacuation procedures. One testimonial I found particularly moving, was from a somewhat emotional man who praised Sullenberger as the reason his daughters still have a father.

How calm under pressure would one have to be, to bring an airliner plane down safely on water, especially in a city with tall skyscrapers on a river thats also a shipping port? There were a 150 passengers onboard and 5 crew members who all survived with the only notable injury being to a flight attendant who underwent surgery for two fractured tibias.

Taken from Wikipedia: By landing successfully on water, the captain "achieved one of the rarest and most technically challenging feats in commercial aviation," said The Wall Street Journal. A board member of the NTSB stated that it "has to go down [as] the most successful ditching in aviation history."

For a simulated pilot's eye view of what happened, CLICK HERE. Photo: sully (aka rockstar) was uploaded by jennnster on www.flickr.com

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Adventure in Karkloof


While in the Natal Midlands yesterday afternoon, I happened to stop in at the Karkloof Conservation Centre. My business partner Di is forever telling me to take time to stop and smell the roses, having found an excellent venue for it; I do concede there is merit in what she says.

Karkloof is an incredibly scenic forest region, just outside of Howick KZN and is a nucleus of adventure activity that includes mountain biking, fly fishing, Hiking, birding, canopy tours and more.

The Conservation Centre incorporates a well known mountain biking trail while bird watching of the feathered variety, is among the best you will find. The centre is a non profit organization and is situated on the farm Gartmore. Available are two very knowledgeable bird guides as well as an information and education centre.

The conservancy covers an area of 40 000 hectors that include wetlands as well as huge tracts of mistbelt forest which is a protected biome. Some of the farmers in the district are registered crane custodians and all three species occur in the area, most notably the critically endangered Wattle Crane, which can be viewed from either of the two world class bird hides, the centre proudly boasts.

I personally rate the Karkloof region as one of the best non-coastal areas in South Africa to visit. It is somewhat of a hidden gem comprised of landscapes that are breathtaking, along with peace and tranquility that’s great for the soul. If you do ever visit that part of the world, try the Karkloof Canopy tour, it is a more than worthwhile adventure experience.

Photo, “Karkloof Forest Canopy Tour Zipwire” by Evans in Africa, found on www.flickr.com

Friday, 16 January 2009

Aerial Photography 2010 Stadium



Wegular weaders of this wog, that’s Bugs Bunny talk for regular readers of this blog, :) have probably already seen some of Jason Barker’s awesome pictures of the Durban 2010 World Cup Soccer Stadium.

Jason, incase you don’t already know, has a business called skyimaging and is an accomplished aerial photographer who has mastered the art of using remote control aircraft as apposed to real aircraft, thus making it a far more affordable process.

He has been capturing the stadiums development as it’s come along and has been supplying us with remarkable images, keeping us updated as to its progress. The two that went up today (above), are the latest installments and show how the stadium arch has since been completed.

It also serves as a Rocky Balboa style punch in the nose to all those cynics who thought we wouldn’t have it ready on time. World Cup 2010, BRING IT ON MAN, BRING IT ON. You may have guessed from today’s tone, I’m seriously excited about this World Cup, I’m counting the days, see counter down the right.

Once again, a Big Thank You to Jason and his team and if you want to view the earlier pics, CLICK HERE

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The On -Line Blues


I recently had a meeting with an adventure activity operator who mentioned that he had received a bad write up on Hello Peter. For those who don’t know Hello Peter is a South African site where members of the public can air their views and expose businesses where they feel they have encountered unsatisfactory service.

The site itself is an excellent idea and is very well read by Joe Public; my concern with it has always been that it does also provide a forum for those wanting to do unwarranted damage, purely for the sake of being Malicious.

This particular adventure operator has an excellent reputation and has invested in high end equipment superior to his competitors; he has thrown money at the business and in doing so is succeeding in cornering the market. Those in the area that have been trading longer than he has, well, lets just say there is no love lost.

The message on Hello Peter was a one liner slating the operator something to the effect of shocking service, inferior equipment and I demand my money back. The authors name is clearly a pseudonym, and the vendor had up to that point, only ever received compliments on his offering. Whoever it is had not complained to him directly on the day, so he has every reason to think, it is more likely somebody with grudge rather than a legitimate complaint.

When I asked him if he had responded to it, he basically implied that in order to do so, he has to list his company and there is a cost involved, he doesn’t think it’s worth it. He feels it’s a once off complaint by some coward who doesn’t have the strength of his convictions to make contact directly, or at very least attach a contactable name to it.

He reckons if poor service is really the case, he has absolutely no problem compensating this individual. Since any sign of this complaint has only ever appeared on Hello Peter, it makes him believe that it is likely a vendetta post, strange but true.

My feeling is that if the “Accused” in a manner of speaking, is not allowed to respond to the criticism without incurring a cost, especially small businesses who have to watch their pennies as well as their reputation, I don’t believe its fair play…….just some food for thought.

(Photo, I am so angry at computer, by Jonbro, courtesy of www.flickr.com)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Duzi Canoe Marathon

Ant Stott - 2007 Winner with The Powerade Girls

This week sees the start of the annual Duzi Canoe Marathon, a 3 Day staged paddling race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, on the East Coast of South Africa.

The area really has become one of the Adventure Activity and Outdoor Sporting Event Hubs in South Africa, with the same two Cities also hosting one of the Comrades Marathon (One of the most famous Ultra Distance Marathons in the world) and the Amashovava (One of South Africa's biggest cycling events).

Paddlers have to negotiate a number of wiers, fearsome rapids, long portages, crocodiles, soaring temperatures and some very dodgy water. The Adventure Escapades team can, without qualification, say that this is not only an Endurance Event, but an Extreme Adventure Activity.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

More Mud..... Bog Snorkeling



Following on from yesterdays post, the Irish and Welsh have taken "Playing in the Mud", to a whole new level and have come up with the competitive sport of Bog Snorkeling.

Wikipedia defines the sport as follows: "Bog snorkelling is a sporting event that consists of competitors completing two consecutive lengths of a 60-yard (55 m) water filled trench cut through a peat bog, in the shortest time possible. Competitors must wear snorkels and flippers, and complete the course without using conventional swimming strokes, relying on flipper power alone. Wet suits are not compulsory, but are usually worn."

The World Championship takes place every August, in the Waen Rhydd peat bog near Llanwrtyd Wells in mid Wales. Given the abundance of rain that we have been experiencing in the Eastern parts of South Africa this Summer, I would not be surprised if we saw a South African winner of the event in 2009!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Beat The Heat


Inspired by a bunch nutters (see post 11 January) who braved an Icy cold mud pool in Essex for charity, I have applied my mind and have come up with my own proposal which will too raise money for charity, all it needs is a bit of buy in from you. This is how I envisage it happening and if I do say so myself, it’s inspirational, I’m sure others will follow.

Whereas our British counterparts braved the cold in the name of fun and supporting a good cause, my idea involves braving the Durban heat and is essentially an endurance strategy that will work on a pledge per hour system. For example if you pledge R10, 00 and I last 10 hours, your donation to this very good cause, will equate to a R100,00 total.

I was thinking along the lines of perhaps getting somebody like Allure Charters involved, who will hopefully contribute the deck of their boat. We will then need a hammock and four lady volunteers who look good in bikinis, that A), is willing and capable of waving a palm branch over said endurance athlete, and B), who know how to mix a margarita and rub suntan lotion on.

Keeping in mind that it is all for a good cause, it somehow feels like the right thing to do. :) Photo by cam i am, courtesy of www.flickr.com

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Getting Down and Dirty



As I sit on my patio taking in my sea view of Umlanga Rocks Durban, I wonder if this unbearably warm spell of weather we are experiencing, is ever going to pass. I spare a thought for our friends in the northern hemisphere who this time of the year have the exact opposite, no doubt wishing that the short icy days would hurry up and be over with.

Watching the Liverpool Stoke game yesterday, reminded me of just how cold it gets there. A slow motion replay of a shot that hit the cross bar, clearly showed the ice being rattled off the woodwork, Liverpool also looked rattled, but lets not go there. Spectators where dressed in trench coats scarves and beanies and while Liverpool was definitely feeling the heat, those in the stands appeared frozen to the bone.

I tried to imagine what it must be like being in England, in winter, and swimming across an icy river, followed by a crawl through a huge heap of mud which believe it or not, this is exactly what some people do. The event is called the Maldon Mud Race and takes place in Essex over the Christmas New Year Period, every year.

Two minutes of internet research, informs me that the tradition began 30 years ago with a pub manager putting up a prize of a free drink, to anyone who could cross the muddy water and get back again. Today, it is a charity event and after trudging through the mud, 20,000 pounds was raised, making the 2008/2009 event, another resounding success.

Stuart Putt from Boreham was crowned the 2008/2009 champion after completing the course in 3mins 49 seconds. The winner of the ladies category was Vicki Sharman from West Hanningfield, the toast of the town. :) On behalf of AdventureEscapades.co.za, hats off, and well done to everyone who took part.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Robben Island by Jet


In Yesterdays blog, I wrote about a recent trip to Robben Island where I made mention of clear blue days and spectacular views, I also mentioned the ferry ride over and then proceeded to support it with a picture of an old Bus. The above image gives us a clear aerial perspective with Robben Island below, Table Mountain towards the top, and the 7 km of Atlantic Ocean that separates the two.

The jet fighter is one of Thunder City's three English Electric Lightning’s, which if you are prepared to spend a bit, will grant you with what has to be, the ultimate adventure experience, the stuff boyhood dreams are made of.

Besides rocketing around the Cape Coast at very high speeds, one the facets is you get to go vertical, shooting straight up to an altitude of 50 000ft and breaking the sound barrier on the way. At the apex of the climb, the Earth’s curvature can be seen in all its magnificence, a view that very few people ever get to see for themselves.

If seen Robben Island from the backseat of a Jet Fighter, is something you can afford and aspire to, besides the obvious question which is can I be your friend? I have to commend you on your excellent choice of adventure activity, and must forewarn you not to blink, if you do, you might just miss it. :)

Friday, 9 January 2009

Visit to Robben Island


In 2008, while on business in Cape Town, I took the opportunity to visit Robben Island via the Nelson Mandela Gateway. The Nelson Mandela Gateway is essentially the Robben Island Museum and is situated at the mainland Jetty from which the ferry departs, making it the first stage of what is a three to four hour tour.

The fee is R180, 00 per head and commences from the museum where you begin by viewing a photographic depiction of the islands history, supported by written commentary that puts it into perspective. It’s followed by the ferry ride over which takes about 45 minutes, and upon arrival, a guided bus tour is what awaits you. From the windows of the vehicle you get see many places of historical significance, as well as animal life which include buck and snake.

The final leg before returning to the boat is a guided walk through of the islands infamous penal complex, an occasion that evokes emotion in people, especially when standing inside what was for many years, Madiba’s prison cell. The operators of the Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island have in the past for various reasons, come under some serious criticism. I can only comment on my personal experience with them which I have to say was absolutely fantastic, and exceptionally good value for money.

For those with an adventurous spirit, this is a site seeing opportunity that may well prove to be a memorable adventure experience. All you need to do is make sure you choose a day when the sea’s a bit rough, and keep in mind, the bus I referred to earlier, I’m guessing has been on that Island a long long time, its definitely not a luxury coach. :)

If you have never been before, I do highly recommend it and from a tourist perspective, an added bonus is that you get see the most spectacular views of Table Mountain. Going out to sea on a clear blue day watching it getting smaller in the distance, is nothing short of breath-taking.

Photo: Robben Island Bus, by autopsee,www.flickr.com

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Glider In The Wind



Gary Amstuts, my business partner in AdventureEscapades.co.za, known for making the odd contribution to this Blog, is also a licensed glider pilot. The glider club he operates from is somewhere in the Drakensberg mountains and sometimes compels him to talk of peace, serenity, spectacular views and gliding the thermals.

I of course know nothing about it, mainly because in spite of alluding to it for the last six months, he hasn’t taken me up yet. To be fair, it’s a long drive out from Durban and essentially means a weekend away, we are both busy people and we both have families to consider and just don’t manage to arrange a time that suits all parties, the day will come, soon I believe.

My only glider experience to date, was not by any means what one would call serene, surreal possibly, definitely not serene though. I was in Plettenberg Bay on a very very windy day and was invited to go up in motorized glider that belonged to a work colleague at the time. My first impression of the glider was that it looked like an oversized model aeroplane with a lawnmower engine attached to it.

The two man cabin was a tight squeeze and we took off on a stretch of grass next the runway at Plett Airport. I stand corrected but I seem to recall that shortly thereafter the aviation authorities put a stop to him using that strip, as the once quiet airport was starting to get much busier. Once we got going, the engine rattled away along with everything else and there was no doubt that we were in for a bumpy ride. There was also no chance of gliding in those conditions and admittedly, just flying in them, made me feel like a maverick.

Once again, we took some pics using our old low spec camera and regrettably couldn’t capture the highlight of the day, which was following a school of Dolphins up the coast. They are a bit blurry, keeping in mind that most were taken through cockpit glass with a propeller spinning in front of them. Although it was nothing near to how I envisage a ride in glider should be, it was an adventure experience that will stay with me, for a long time to come.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Getting The Shot


In doing a daily Blog focused on adventure activity, one of the challenges is coming up with either a pic or a YouTube video to support it. I’m not always crazy about using YouTube videos as bandwidth in South Africa isn’t the best and in many instances, they either don’t load or they stammer and stall throughout the viewing process. Admittedly when I do use them, it’s with our overseas readers in mind where bandwidth is far more superior and far cheaper.

Nonetheless, between YouTube for videos, and www.flicr.com for photo’s, I always find what I seek to add colour and flavour to whatever it is I’m writing about. It never seizes to amaze me how much there is to choose from. For yesterdays Blog I needed a pic on “Abseiling In Lesotho” and after doing a search, I was spoilt for choice with respect to options.

First prize of course is to make use of photo’s we have either taken ourselves, or to choose from our ever growing library of action shots supplied to us by our activity operators. The above pic, even though a bit blurry, is one of my favourites; the reason being it always brings back excellent memories of a great day out with mates.

Myself and a group of friends, went down Durban’s South Coast to Oribi some years ago to conquer the Oribi Gorge Wild Five. The jumper is my good friend George Herbst who desperately wanted a decent memento pic, in order to get it, I needed to be attached to a harness leaning well forward over the edge, knowing that I would only have one shot at it.

This all took place at a time when digital cameras had far less features than they do now and the one we used, was an over the counter al-cheapo model. I clearly recall there was a second or so delay, between the button being pressed and the camera actually reacting, so timing had to be perfect. I remember there being a jump countdown from 5 backwards, and when the jumpmaster blurted “ONE”, I pressed the button and hoped like hell something would come of it. ……I got lucky.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Abseil Lesotho


There is an interesting crowd of adventure activity providers called Maluti Treks, who we are pleased to say are active participants on our forum. They are a Lesotho based company offering day trips, transfers and tailor made tours to all of Lesotho’s best destinations. They leave from Durban every Tuesday and Friday and have pick ups on route at Clarens Harrismith and Maseru.

There are a number of treks to choose from:

The Alpine Extreme Adventure Trek: This is a true adventure experience that takes you to Semonkong (place of smoke) for three days of abseiling, pony trekking, and a hike that takes you to the breathtaking Maletsunyane waterfall gorge.

Moshoeshoe’s Citadel, Palaces and Royal villages Trek: Experience the warmth of the Basotho people and learn of their extraordinary history.

Mountains and Reservoirs in The Clouds Trek: Takes you through giant passes to the awe inspiring Katse Dam in the North of Lesotho.

The Dinosaur and Cannibal Trek: Here you travel to Southern Lesotho where you get to see Dinosaur Footprints & cannibal caves.

It looks to be a good one and for those who haven’t heard, Lesotho now boasts the highest commercial abseil in the world at 204m. The above pic was taken by Henry Jonker at Semonkong, and was found on www.flickr.com.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Beetle Cars Cape Town


Another brilliant traveler’s tip to keep in mind for those heading to South Africa in search of adventure, is Best Beetle Car Hire. Best Beetle Car Hire operate out of Cape Town and cater specifically to the backpacker adventure seeker type and as the name suggests, they rent out Beetle cars. Just to be clear, it’s the older models they provide, the classic, the ones that resemble Herbie, and they do so at exceptionally affordable prices.

Upon having met with the owners, I came to the realization that it is a unique and extraordinary operation they run. They have over 300 Beetles in use and throughout the holiday season, every single one of them is on the road. They have full time mechanical staff who maintain the vehicles and also have a 24 hour call out support crew, just incase roadside assistance is needed.

Interestingly, the business started out with Gunter and his brother restoring Beetles as a hobby, purely out of enthusiasm and love for them, one thing led to another and today they have a thriving business. A remarkable aspect to it is, they have got to be one of the only car hire companies anywhere, that don’t penalize clients for dings and dents, and that also have repeat business where clients specifically request the exact vehicle they had previously.

Cost wise they are dirt cheap by South African standards, which I am led to believe makes them very unpopular among the more mainstream car hire organizations in the Cape, nonetheless the demand is there and it is supported by excellent levels of service.It is essentially a cheap reliable and fun means of getting from one adventure experience to the next; and dont forget, it’s advisable to book your Beetle in advance.

Photo by Kyknoord, courtesy of www.flickr.com

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Braving Freezing Water For Fun



Having a bit of outdoor fun with mates and colleagues is a well prescribed means of getting the new year off to a positive start, our Italians friends with their famed zest for life, have long since mastered this.

Jumping off the Cavour bridge into the freezing waters of Rome’s river Tiber, is just one of their many traditional new years celebrations. In this year’s event, participants braved pouring rain as well as icy waters to ensure that the festivities went ahead as planned. It is a much celebrated occasion and although the heavens had opened, spectators were seemingly unperturbed and turned out in their masses.

The event dates back to 1946, when a stuntman named Mr. OK was the first to take the 50 foot + plunge. His reasoning was to gain exposure as he was at the time, struggling to get work in the film Industry. Amazingly, others followed and needless to say, it’s now an annual event that takes place every January 1, getting the year off to a fun and adventures start.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Snakes, No Fear



In 2008, I got to visit many of the reptile parks and feel privileged to have dealt with a number of incredible individuals who are very serious about nature conservation. In doing so I surprised myself by having developed a fascination for certain species, crocodiles particularly, as well as the various lizards. The snakes on the other hand, I still struggle with for the simple reason they scare the living crap out of me.

Let it be said right up front, as long as they are in an enclosure behind a plate glass window I have no problem with them. The various parks are perfectly safe and well worth visiting, I highly recommend it, especially if you have children. What I am referring to specifically, I have on several occasions been invited to physically handle them, and needless to say I have always declined.

The above pics were all taken sometime ago at Ndlondlo Reptile Park and as I’m sure you can tell, the ladies look perfectly comfortable with it. Well never to be outdone, especially by a bunch of girls, I recently seized on the opportunity to set the record straight.

People like myself, who live on Kwazulu Natal’s North Coast are fully aware that the day may well come, when we have to deal with a Green Mamba. The morning after the New Years Eve festivities, I came face to face with one, a Big Bright Green one, that had somehow found its way onto my balcony. As you will see from the photo evidence below, I taught that snake a lesson or two. :)

Friday, 2 January 2009

For The Traveler


If you look at the Cluster map just to the right of this Blog you will see that we have readers from all over the world. We welcome our friends from far away lands and assume that you are either fellow adventure enthusiasts, or that you will be visiting our sunny shores soon and are planning to partake in some adventure activity once you have arrived.

There is a well known South African furniture removal company called Kings International who have an excellent product called Excess Luggage. While the name is self explanatory, this service is tailor made for travelers who like to collect souvenirs and in doing so, place themselves in danger of getting nailed at the airport for being overweight which can prove very costly.

There are so many people in S A who sell wooden carvings and curios on the side of the road at very reasonable prices, they are sometimes heavy though and the reality is that you will probably end paying more at the airport than you will for the item itself. Excess Luggage will freight it to your home airport at a fraction of the cost.

You can either collect it yourself once you arrive back, or you can assign a friend or family member to collect it on your behalf. It is an excellent service that will save you loads of money, leaving you that little bit extra to do that tandem skydive.

Remember, to assist in finding your ideal South African Adventure Experience, visit us at AdventureEscapades.co.za

Photo, Giraffes by Pumpkin Delight, courtesy of www.flickr.com

Thursday, 1 January 2009

2009 Hong Kong Fireworks



Greetings all, and Happy New Year! It’s the 1st of January and 2009 is officially underway. Being the creature of habit I am, for me today began no differently to any other day with the exception of a pounding headache from having had too many Castle Laagers. In saying that, you might need to excuse me if today’s post is short an uninspiring.

Anyway I got up bright and early, made a cup of strong coffee, and watched an hour of the e-News channel through aching blurry eyes. For those who don’t know, e-News can probably best be described as the South African equivalent of Sky News. Its news on the hour, every hour, and with it not having ties to the state broadcaster, it is a favorite among locals as they do not demonstrate political bias.

As all news channels do every January 1, they showed seemingly endless footage of celebrations from around the globe. There were plenty of fireworks displays, from every quarter, including Cape Towns V&A Waterfront which admittedly paled in comparison to the rest of world.

Although the explosions were not helping the hangover at all, I was absolutely blown away by the Hong Kong footage. I’m not sure if the above YouTube video can do it any justice, it was nonetheless mind-blowingly spectacular and I do envy those who were fortunate enough to be there.

Using ten buildings in the city to launch from, fireworks were blasted from various levels to culminate in what was an incredibly well choreographed display. When it comes to fireworks, the Chinese are clearly the masters.