Saturday, 28 February 2009

Durban 2010



In Yesterdays post we featured the latest instalment forwarded to us by Jason Barker our resident aerial photographer. Jason in his day was a champion remote control aeroplane pilot and is known for having pioneered some of the more tricky maneuvers now commonly seen in competitive flying. His other passion is photography and commendably so, he has managed to combine the two to make a successful career out of it.

While he has been keeping a photographic record of the Fifa World Cup 2010 Moses Mabedi Stadium, (see some of his pics above) somebody else has been nice enough to mail us a mock up of what the stadium will look like once completed. (See Below) I was quite blown away by them and admittedly its going to look a lot more spectacular than I envisaged and rightfully so, after all, some of the best players in the world will be competing there for football's most coveted prize.

They are fairly big pics with high res so in order to post them on this blog I had to reduce them quite considerably so I hope you are able to view them clearly. Seeing them at full spec does have the desired WOW effect and makes me more and more excited that the greatest show on earth, is coming to my town.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Jason Barker Aerial Photography


One of the good guys you’ll find around Durban is Jason Barker who has been the featured personality of this blog on several occasions. His specialty is aerial photography and has, as regular readers of this blog will already know, been recording the progress of the Durban 2010 soccer stadium, this is what he has to say with reference to the above shot.

"Check out the latest image of the Moses Mabedi Stadium! We have been doing progress shoots from the 20th of April 2007 when they started building.
If you would like to see more of the progress shoots we did on the Moses Mabedi Stadium or how we take these images please feel free to have a look at our web site. www.skyimaging.co.za

This is just a small example of what we can do. Our images are also published in newspapers, magazines and websites such as The Mercury, The Property Magazine, The Home Guide, ECR and The Master
Builders Association to name a few."

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Moments of Maddness



Having a bunch of people out there who feel compelled to mail me anything to do with boats, planes, cars and trains does come in handy, especially during periods like these when I’m not finding time to participate in much adventure activity and am just grateful for an alternative source of blog material. Admittedly I’m also a sucker for pics that tell a story, so when I do come across some, particularly good ones, I do enjoy sharing them.

I received an e-mail with a power point type attachment entitled “Things you won’t see on CNN” which contained all of the above pics. Although I do sympathize with those who had to live through some of these moments, (hopefully they all lived) some of the images are nothing short of spectacular, while others make you want to hold your head and cry “SURELY NOT!” Where the individual photographs originated from I really can’t say, nonetheless some of them are among the most jaw dropping I’ve seen.

One my favorites is of the man running on the deck of the aircraft carrier, note the missile that he is in the process of dodging, another is of the ship in rough sees near the end of the sequence, I wouldn’t want to be on board that vessel for all the tea in china. As for action shots I have to rate the pilot ejecting, whoever the photographer was, his or her timing was precision perfect. If you haven’t already gone through them, have a look, and hopefully in the Picasa web album format, they’re not too small for you to enjoy.

Disclaimer:

We ask that you keep in mind that we cannot vouch for the authenticity of any pics we choose to upload that have come to us via e-mail, while we don’t think that any of today’s are contrived, we upload them with the usual disclaimer that we simply don’t know for sure, we weren’t there, we didn’t take them ourselves, thank goodness for that. :)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Flying HIGH with SAA


The blog topic of choice this week does seem to be aviation with even yesterdays post which was essentially about business, displaying a picture of a man sitting at an airport. At the moment, with SAA our national carrier making headlines for all the wrong reasons, the goings on in SA aviation is a hot topic of discussion among law abiding civic minded citizens.

I’m sure by now there are many so called humorous e-mails going around having a dig at the airlines expense, and yesterday afternoon, one such mail just happened to find its way to me. It consisted of 3 photographs with little or no blurb which I’m sure on some or other level, was intended to be funny. For the record, I feel it has to be said that I’m wholly against e-mails such as these on the grounds that this kind of misrepresentation is totally misleading and to some degree destructive.

The first of the 3 pics is featured above, and anybody who has ever flown SAA knows that this deceptive depiction is totally bogus and unrealistic, sadly their air crew look nothing like that, and should you board expecting them to, you are in for a big big disappointed. I stick to my guns; this is misrepresentation of the cruelest kind that can only lead to disenchanted passengers, particularly of the male variety. Hasn’t the airline suffered enough?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Business Philosophy


For today’s post, I would like to as I do from time to time, veer away from adventure activity as the core subject and touch rather on matters pertaining to business. It seems strangely appropriate since I am going through a phase in my life where it feels as though my various business endeavors have consumed me leaving little time for much else. Perhaps a gliding trip to the Drakensberg with colleague captain Gary is what the doctor is ordering here.

With regard to business, in my travels I came across these inspirational words penned by Donald Gordon founder of Liberty Life, who upon his retirement had this advice to give.

"Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know; passion in business is everything.
In business and in family relationships, remember that the most important thing is trust.
Remember that overnight success usually takes 15 years
Never accept that existing practices can’t be improved upon – there will always be a better or alternative way of doing things. If you identify one, see it to the end with meticulous care.

Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Demand excellence from yourself and your colleagues and be willing to pay for it.
Take care of your reputation, its your most valuable asset.
Learn to listen, opportunity sometimes knocks very softly.
Watch for big problems, they disguise big opportunities.
Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.

When starting out don’t worry about having enough money, limited funds are a blessing not a curse. Nothing encourages creative thinking in quite the same way.
Be tough minded but tender-hearted.
Don’t waste time responding to your critics.
Never give up on what you really want to do.
The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.
Be bold and courageous.
"

Admittedly, the first time I came across these points was some four yeas ago already. In 2005, an old friend and I adopted them as our creed when starting an IT Business. Today, as a not so young and upcoming yet still aspiring entrepreneur, reading it never ceases to encourage me; among other things, it serves to remind me not to lose focus.

Photo: business man on air port by magetankota, courtesy of www.flickr.com

Monday, 23 February 2009

Flying the Beast


After taxing around to the main runway, there is momentary pause before you feel the immense power of the C130 engines surge through your body as they rev up for takeoff. Seated with your back to the side of the plane you can’t see out, and surrounded by cargo, you feel the sensation of blindly speeding along the runway, eventually getting higher and higher.

You sense a very different type of awareness to that of a commercial airline where you are facing the front of the plane and you can see out, with a pilot that keeps you informed as to what’s going on. Taking off in the back of a tremendously powerful cargo plane not seeing out feels somewhat abnormal to say the very least.

The landing on the other side was a lot worse and to this day, many air miles later, remains my most daunting aviation experience. Once again from your strapped in position not seeing out, after hours of flight, without warning, you sense the change of altitude. You guess that you are about land, except you have no idea how high or low to the ground you are.

Suddenly the plane smashes onto the runway with impact that shudders up your spine, it then takes a couple of minutes to realise that you have in fact landed, as opposed to your first impression of having crashed. Admittedly, the thought did cross my mind that perhaps the hard landing was more of a reflection of the ability of pilot at the controls, rather than the of the plane itself.

Photo: Hercules landing by davetheplum, courtesy of www.flickr.com

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Boarding The Beast


Following on from yesterdays post, at the age of 18 having never flown before, boarding a C160 Hercules was an incredibly adventures experience and one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Although it was standard practice in those days for the SA army to transport serviceman using these planes, in my case Id hitched a ride so other than the loadmaster crew of 3, that day I was alone in the back with the cargo that was being moved.

I boarded via the cargo flap and was instructed to sit on webbing type seats that were mounted to the side. The cargo that was in there included a Mercedes Bens, which I had been informed belonged a high ranking officer who had recently been transferred. It had been well and truly strapped to the floor along with several crates and boxes.

Sitting there was like being in the belly of whale and although the C130 does have a handful of porthole type windows, unless you walk up to one of them and literally put your face against it, you can’t see out. The Cockpit of the plane is in an elevated position at the front, so from the cargo area there is ladder mounting that the pilots use to get to where they need to be.

Once that flap is closed, you are strapped into your seat and those colossal engines roar to life, you are overcome with the sense that this is where the fun begins.

Photo:Lockheed Hercules C-130 by warrenski, courtesy of www.flickr.com

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Beast of the Sky


Believe it or not, the first plane I ever flew in was a C130 Hercules; I was just 18 at the time and hitched a lift from Cape Town to Pretoria for a weekend of partying. South Africa at the time still exercised military conscription and those who shared my final year of high school, were among the last to ever be called up for it.

As it happened in those days, a letter arrived in the post telling you where to and when to report, if you didn’t, the military police knocked on your door and dragged you off. You either got called up to the navy, the air force, or the infantry, discovering your designation only when the dreaded letter arrived. It was essentially a lottery with the infantry being the short stick that nobody wanted to draw.

The majority would go off to the army and those who got the navy or the air force were very much considered to be the lucky ones. Myself and my lifelong friend Dean, were the only ones at our school who received an air force call up that year which was much cause for celebration, after all, the likelihood of being shot at had just gone down by about 400%.

After Basic training I found myself at Ysterplaat (Cape Town’s Air Force Base) and Dean ended up stationed at Waterkloof in Pretoria. With Dean being a trims clerk (responsible for weight distribution on cargo planes) he was able to get me onto flights, and with his dad having a home in Johannesburg at our disposal, I had every reason to head up North from time to time. I used to fly up on Fridays and fly back on Mondays after weekends of heavy parting at place called Bella Napoli in Hillbrow Johannesburg.

Amazingly I had the opportunity to fly in Hercules C130, Hercules C160 as well as having gone up on several occasions with Cape Town’s well known Dakota squadron, long before I ever set foot on a commercial airline. What I can tell you is while flying in a Hercules is an adventure experience of note; it’s possibly not the best introduction to flying, in tomorrow’s post I will tell you why.

Photo: Hercules by Blyzz courtesy www.flickr.com

Friday, 20 February 2009

Trust The Pilot



There is an e-mail doing the rounds that features all of the above photo’s with a caption that simply reads “When You Really Need To Trust The Pilot.” That one little short sharp sentence doesn’t give me a hell of lot of Blog material to write about, however they do say a picture paints a thousand words, which in this case is very relevant and besides, I really wanted to share them with you.

Seeing highly skilled pilots in action is something that always leaves me in awe and it never seizes to amaze how they are able to land their aircraft on a postage stamp. Down the road from where I live, just north of Durban, there is an airfield that runs parallel to the beach called Virginia Airport whose runway also isn’t the longest, and the annual air show that they put on never disappoints.

Just to clarify, if you have never heard of the Virginia Air Show, it’s not at all a case of what planet have you been living on, it’s definitely not Farnborough, it is however in its own diminutive way, something really special and well worth attending. There are always plenty of Aerobatic teams, skydiving displays, historically significant planes and jets that cause the bones to rattle when they shoot by at low altitude.

One of last years highlights was the arrival of a C 160 Hercules which landed, maneuvered, did a three point turn and took off again on the significantly small runway. The C160 is the big cargo plane that has made an appearance in so many war movies; it’s the one that usually has the cargo flap down and tanks driving out of it. The above picture sequence did for obvious reasons remind me of that demonstration.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Herping ?


Mike Perry of African Reptile And Venom is indeed a very interesting character. He is one of the countries top authorities on reptiles and has hence appeared as a guest on various wildlife television programs. Snakes are his particular passion and he runs a somewhat unusual and very specialized operation out of the Fourways area of Johannesburg.

His business is a training facility where people are taught snake awareness and how to deal with various snake related situations. While his courses are open to the public, they are predominately attended by those who work in environments where they are likely to encounter dangerous snake situations, such as in the mining industry or on building sites.

His other businesses include the producing and supplying of venom to the pharmaceutical companies which is used for the making of Antivenin. He also does specialized tours into areas where encountering all of the Big 5 is highly likely, with perhaps a bit of herping on the side for good measure. In case you don’t know what herping is, according to Wikipedia it is a term often used by professional and amateur Herpetologists to signify searching for reptiles or amphibians.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Thoughts on Jumping


Having participated in most adventure activity there isn’t too much left to do that I can truly say scares the hell out of me; especially with regard to activity that involves heights or jumping from heights. You never lose that sense of risk which drives you to be extra thorough, especially with respect to the operator and equipment you are using; you can’t be nonchalant about that, that would just be crazy.

If the operator/service provider appears to be dodgy or the equipment and the safety checks don’t conform to the high standard you demand, simply say NO. For me the fear of actually jumping or being nervous during the process of taking that step off, has long since passed. The truth is I really do have faith in the breaking strength and durability of the equipment so in my mind, where things go wrong is when it’s not used correctly, if used correctly; the chances are overwhelmingly stacked in favour of you having a safe and memorable adventure experience.

Most who participate in such activity will agree that you never lose the thrill of doing it, it’s always a rush which is what keeps you going back for more. Nonetheless, that first time is always the most memorable, there is nothing to beat the euphoria you feel after experiencing your first heart-pumping free-fall. It is the absolute Best and I’m yet to meet anybody who has regretted taking the decision.

The above photograph is courtesy of Skydive Durban.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Local Boy Does Well


The late Mr. Ernest Macdonald and his son Robert started Sport Helicopters in 1990 after Mr. MacDonald senior had during the 1980's, pioneered the business of chartering scenic flights to tourists around the Cape, in those days using single & multi engine aircraft.

Today they operate out of Cape Town's V & A Waterfront with Robert now firmly at the helm, continuing the family legacy. Myself, having grown up in Sea Point, Robert was one or two grades below me in high school and his dad was already then a legend in those parts. He was well known for his razor sharp business acumen, his passion for music, and his larger than life personality.

Although I don't for a minute profess to know Robert well, when I look at how awesome their operation is and how they have succeeded in establishing themselves as Cape Town's number 1 provider of scenic tours by helicopter, I have to admit, it does fill me with a warm sense of local boy does well, I think they call it home town pride.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Romantic Getaways


Following on from yesterdays post and staying with a theme of romance, I would like suggest a further recovery solution from a Valentine’s Day that was spent watching Rugby. This is the ultimate deal clincher; trust me on this one, all will be forgiven and forgotten at the mere hint of a weekend together at a luxurious Romantic Getaway venue.

Unfortunately, you can’t just suggest it, there has to be follow through or you will find yourself in even bigger trouble than you were to begin with. Auspiciously, there is a gluttony of stunning Romantic Getaway places that are conveniently close to some great adventure activity locations, and there is no good reason why your romantic escapade, can’t also involve some action of the outdoor kind.

Tranquillity Lodge comes to mind, situated in the stunning Tsitsikamma area of Natures Valley, the venue as the name implies, makes for one such ideal romantic getaway destination. For thrill seekers, an unforgettable adventure experience also awaits you in the form of the world’s highest commercial Bungy Jump, which is literally 10 minutes away from there. Just up the road are also two Canopy Tour operators along with a whole host of other adventure activity to choose from.

Photograph: Tranquillity lodge.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Valentine’s Day Recovery Solutions


OK, so yesterday was Valentine’s Day and you didn’t get that special somebody something really nice, the rugby was your main priority and today you rightfully find yourself in the dog box. Well the good news is if you play your cards right, your relationship can indeed recover from this. I’m tempted to say take her skydiving and all will be forgiven, instead I will share some of the more practical tried and tested solutions.

The floral method: An old favourite that men have used throughout the ages. It needs to come with a convincing speech along the lines of “I don’t need a special day to show you how much I love you, with you, every day is Valentine’s Day, I’m just so blessed to have you in my life.” Just in case you’re not convincing enough, make sure the bouquet is sufficiently large enough to take cover behind.

The restaurant method: A surprise outing during the week to her favourite restaurant is bound to impress. Don’t forget the I don’t need a special day to tell you how much I love you, everyday with you is like Valentine’s Day speech, and at least try when delivering it to show some sincerity.

The lingerie method: In addition to the flowers this can really have an impact, whatever you do though, make damn sure they are the right size and DONT under any circumstances, go for cheap and nasty here (nothing edible). Finding oneself on the receiving end of a flat hand, is not the type of impact I had in mind, proceed cautiously with this one.

The apron method: The apron unfortunately is for you to wear not her, you need to dazzle her with your culinary skills and you will definitely impress if you wash the dishes afterwards. Of course candlelight, romantic music, the flowers from earlier and the everyday with you is like Valentine ’s Day speech and who knows; with a bit of luck you may get more than just the forgiveness you seek.

Then lastly, desperate times call for desperate measures, this involves immense suffering on your part and will serve as a clear indication that you will go to any lengths to make this right, USE ONLY AS A VERY LAST RESORT. The dreaded Chick Flick method: Go to the DVD shop and choose any movie that you would rather die than watch, something in the ilk of Mama Mia, 27 Wedding Dresses or any one of thousands that Hollywood have spewed out, (there’s no shortage of them) and then the most difficult part of all, make sure you convince her that it’s just what you’re in the mood for.

Photo: A Romantic Dinner setting by turnipseed from www.flicker.com

Saturday, 14 February 2009

My Valentines Day Strategy


Today is definitely one of my favourite days of the year. It is a day that makes me feel all giddy inside, fills me with expectation of great moments to come, and evokes dreamy eyed fantasies of what might be. YES gentleman, today the Sharks and the Stormers start their Super 14 rugby campaign, with the added bonus that this year, their opening game is against each other, isn’t that a mouth-watering prospect!

Unfortunately it does coincide with that money making racket they call Valentines Day which as they say in the classics, is somewhat of Bummer. How do you wine and dine that special somebody on a day where rugby simply has to take precedence...... without landing yourself in hot water that is.

If I so say so myself, this year I came up with a brilliant strategy that really seems to have done the trick. The preasent I bought her is of something fairly extravagant which I dare say way exceeded expectation. What aided this initiative is that my track record for buying her decent quality gifts really isn’t the greatest. I then followed it up by taking her to a nice outdoor garden restaurant for breakfast and needless to say, I now have the afternoon free to watch the game with her blessing, and I'm still very much in the good books.

:) Let the Games Begin........

Photo: Be my Valentine, by {WiLd_AnGeL} courtesy of www.flickr.com

Friday, 13 February 2009

Safety First


Yesterday I got to see a safety demonstration pertaining to the building industry, where some very similar questions were raised to some I had previously heard regarding rope related adventure activity. This particular demo involved scaffolding and the various safety precautions one should take when working on one. They had this stuntman (for lack of a better word) kitted out in all the prescribed safety rigging deliberately fall from the structure to exhibit how it worked, needless to say all went well and spectators were left suitably impressed.

One of the questions that came from the floor pertained to the breaking strength of the clips and ropes. The response from the safety expert lecturer was that the breaking strength of the specific rope they use, way exceeds any man’s body weight and that if something were to go wrong; it would most likely be as a result of poor rigging. In very simple terms, it could possibly come loose as a consequence of having not been tied properly; it’s not going to snap though.

It made me think of abseiling, bridge swinging, and other rope related activity like the Orlando Towers Power swing, where the truth is, the durability of the rope (or bungy cord), is virtually implausible. The reality is, it is never going snap, and those providing the activities generally prescribe to the highest safety standards.

I truly believe that there is a far stronger likelihood of something bad happening while driving a car, than there is participating in a professionally run rope or bungy associated adventure activity. Keep in mind I said professionally run, that for me is the part that counts the most. If those running the operation do not instil faith, my advice to you is to do what your gut tells you to.

Photo: Abseiling Table Mountain - ruen by Drive South Africa Courtesy of www.flickr.com

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Adventure Of A Different Sort


After posting a blog a couple weeks ago I noticed a Google ad for something or other ...Las Vegas Tours. I immediately thought WOW; these guys are clearly going after a niche market. I somehow envisaged it being about visiting the more famous Vegas casinos and places of sordid historical significance pertaining to the gangsters and high rollers who made the town what it is.

Upon following the link and browsing through the site I soon realised that their tours are in fact something really special. There was no mention of Bugsy Siegel, Frank Sinatra, Hank Greenspun or even Elvis, it was purely about hiking the Grand Canyon and experiencing the geographic splendour of the majestic Nevada desert.

Admittedly I was a bit disappointed with myself for having jumped to conclusions, my first impression was that I would rather have a root canal than take a tour in Vegas, there is absolutely nothing about that Gambling Mecca that calls me. It’s surrounding areas on the other hand, does truly deserve to be referred to as the great outdoors, which does make me want to head that way sometime.

Maybe it’s me; I just can’t help thinking how contrived and icky the city of Las Vegas must be by comparison to the stark beauty of its surrounds, the fact that it’s located where it is, to my mind is a travesty. Nonetheless, my initial thought of a Vegas niche tour did get me thinking hell, if it can work there, why not here.

One that sprung to mind was a magical mystery type tour to Hillbrow, a combination of both sightseeing and adventure activity. I was thinking of calling it Survivor Hillbrow, with a strapline that reads “Not For The Fainthearted.” Payment would have to be made upfront (non negotiable) along with the signing of an indemnity form. Should you be lucky enough to survive, you will need to remember, that what happens in Hillbrow, stays in Hillbrow. .......It’s just an idea. :)

Photo: street hillbrow by lisetjie courtesy of www.flickr.com

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sani Pass Lesotho Adventure


There’s a tour operator called Thaba Tours who operate out of the Central Drakensberg region and offer guided Sani Pass and Lesotho overland tours in the comfort and luxury of fully enclosed 4x4 vehicles. They are in effect Sani Pass /Lesotho, overland and mountain biking tour specialists offering a whole range of packages to suit all requirements.

Located within KwaZulu Natal’s Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park close to the historical significant frontier towns of Underberg and Himeville, it is from there that they journey up the spectacular and enchanting Sani Pass. They also offer Lesotho Mountain tours which is an adventure experience that involves cultural interaction, sightseeing attractions, Basotho pony rides, Lesotho arts and crafts, high mountain passes as well as seeing authentic Bushmen Paintings.

As alluded to earlier, they present us with a variety of awsome packages that range from a 1 night/2 day overland tour to as many as 14 nights /15days with several other options in-between, depending on what it is you are looking for. They also cater for mountain biking enthusiasts beginning with a day ride that follows the Mkomazana River, to a 6 day biking adventure tour which goes all the way to Maseru. ....... How awesome does that sound?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Best Way To Unwind



I have always maintained that everybody needs a hammock, as strange as it might sound, I really do believe that. As an adventure web portal, the reason why we got involved in this business was that we all subscribe to a rustic and adventurous lifestyle, albeit that we don’t get to experience it as much as we would like to, it does give us the opportunity to meet some fantastic likeminded people.

When one thinks of overland travel, and setting up camp in the great outdoors, relaxing and enjoying the beauty that surrounds you is an essential part of the adventure experience, and for me is what makes it all worthwhile. Imagine yourself on a hammock near to a campfire, looking up at the stars and taking in the sounds of the insect’s owls and wildlife that can be heard in the distance, what could be better?

During the corporate week while a lot of us daydream about being elsewhere, it’s great to get home and relax after a heavy day at the office. If you are fortunate enough to have sea view or a vantage point for the magnificent Johannesburg sunset, being on hammock with a cold frosty is a great way to unwind.

If you will excuse me reminiscing, when I lived in Johannesburg I stayed on the West Rand in suburb called Radiokop, in an apartment complex that had been built at the top of a slope. I had wonderful view of the Johannesburg sunset and a balcony that was well suited for a hammock. I had a really good Technics sound system and always had cold ones in the fridge, so no prizes for guessing how I used to wind down after a hectic day of fighting the good fight.

At AdventureEscaapades.co.za, we have always tried to align ourselves with sponsors that fit into the adventure activity mould, who are first-rate people and share our passion for an adventurous lifestyle. Such a company, that’s been on board with us for a long long time is Hangaboutz Hammocks, and we take the opportunity to thank them for their ongoing support and to tell them that we really like their product, some days a little too much....:) Cheers.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Another World's First


Yesterdays Sunday Times newspaper informed us that “Isidingo” was granted the top soap opera accolade at the South African Film and Television award ceremony, held at the State Theatre in Pretoria on Saturday night. One of the stars of that show, Christopher Beasley, is also a competitive skydiver as well as being a senior member of the team that brings us the awesome Orlando Towers Power Swing.

Interestingly, I do vaguely remember a bit of controversy surrounding Chris having won the South African skydiving championships, only to later be disqualified over a technicality surrounding paperwork. He was as you can imagine livid over the decision and was going to appeal it, whatever came of the matter I don’t know, I can nonetheless tell you that he is an awesome individual and an adventure personality of note.

News from the towers, besides the Valentines offer featured in yesterday’s blog, is that they are finally ready with the much awaited “Jump inside the Tower” adventure offering. They have been talking about it for a while, and from what I can gather its now being put through its final testing phase.

YES ADRENALIN JUNKIES, besides jumping off and swinging between the two towers, you will soon also be able to launch yourself down the inside of one of them. Rob their resident crash test dummy, tells us that it’s an Awesome Adventure Experience, and that once again the Orlando Towers Verticle Adventure Centre, is bringing us a world's first.

Photo: Orlando Cooling Towers by Gregor Rohrig courtesy of www.flickr.com

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Valentines In The Sky



With Valentine’s Day approaching, which this year conveniently falls on a Saturday, I hope you and your loved one do have something special planned. The Saturday part is the good news, the bad news ladies is that whatever romantic festivity your Romeo has in mind, it’s not likely to happen between 5 and 7 in the evening while the big game is on.

That weekend marks the start of Rugby’s Super 14 with Saturday’s big game being contested between the never say die Cape Town franchise “The Stormers” and the hard hitting Durban based “Natal Sharks.” I could be wrong; perhaps there are some hot blooded males out there who don’t necessarily like rugby, and perhaps won’t be glued to the tele, however if there are, I certainly don’t know any of them.

In saying that, I did come across a unique valentines offer for those who live in the Johannesburg region which I personally think is a fantastic idea, and one that is bound to impress. Those who have visited our AdventureEscaspades.co.za website or are regular readers of this blog, will already be familiar with the adrenalin inducing Orlando Towers Power Swing, as per the above picture sequence.

For the month of February, they are extending their hours on trading days till seven o’clock, and between 5 and 7, they are inviting people to relax on the deck mounted at the top, to take in the spectacular Johannesburg sunset. Having been up there myself, the view from the deck is absolutely breathtaking and having lived in Johannesburg, I can say with authority that its beautiful bright red African sunset is a sight to behold.

I can honestly say that if I still lived in the province, it is an offer I would definitely take them up on. It's romantic in a very different and original way, and unless your Juliette is afraid of heights, she is bound to be blown away by this one.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

African Roulette


There is an exceptionally idiotic extreme sport that in spite of being highly dangerous with potentially horrific and lethal consequences, stupid people across South Africa are seen participating in it on a daily bases. If it hasn’t yet already been officially named, I would like suggest we call it African Roulette.

It involves something that simply just shouldn’t be allowed, PERIOD, and that is pedestrians on a busy highway randomly strolling across high speed traffic. It is absolutely bizarre and without doubt borders on suicidal, yet it’s something that happens so often, that it’s fair to call it a common occurrence.

There appears to be a strange mindset among the idiots who do this, it's as though they feel they have right of way and cars have to slow for them. They don’t seem to do the thought process that a car doing a 120klm per hour, from 25m away, may very well not have the time to slow down enough. WHY DO IT? It just doesn’t make sense!

Sorry to have bored you with my little whinge, admittedly I had very close call on Durban’s N2 Highway yesterday evening where I really don’t know how I missed the guy. One minute he was on the side of road, he suddenly took off, ran straight across the front of my car, and without exaggeration I think he must have made it by a tenth of a second. The highway has three lanes, and it was busy. I felt a huge sense of relief upon seeing him safely on the other side, before allowing anger to set in.

At this risk of giving away my age again, I feel the need to quote Del Boy from Only Fools Horses, to the idiot on the highway, “What a 42 Carrot Plonker you are.” Now that I have had my little hissy fit; I feel a lot better and thank you for having beared with me. Tomorrow I will go back to writing about real adventure activity of a non suicidal nature, promise. :)

Friday, 6 February 2009

Adventure Experience Going Jeep



There’s a nasty old joke that poses the question, what’s found on a street corner, is yellow, and goes cheap cheap cheap? Being the kind of people who take no pleasure in offending, I can’t give you the answer because it’s both sexist and politically incorrect so unfortunately, you either know or you don’t. A question that I can give you the answer to is, what’s found in Cape Town, is Grey, and goes Jeep Jeep Jeep? ......That would be Trevor Knutson.

Trevor is 4x4 a specialist with a reputation as someone who is able to provide first class training on all makes of off-road vehicle. His passion however lies with old Jeeps and he derives tremendous pleasure from taking people out for some old style 4x4 fun in them. Something that not too many people seem to know is that just up the Cape’s West Coast, about half an hour drive from Cape Town central, there is a huge area of open dunes, which is essentially Peter’s playground

For a really fun adventure experience, All Terrain 4x4 offer a day out on the dunes at a very affordable price. The jeeps that are used are all original 1947 open Willy’s Jeeps, each with its own instructor taking up to 3 passengers at a time, all of whom have the opportunity drive. The instructor is there to assist and who drives for how long, is left up to the client. Trevor does have several of these Jeeps so big groups are also accommodated. To find out more CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

An Adventure Experience Of A Ghostly Nature


Referring to oneself as an open minded skeptic is bound to evoke a reaction from some quarters. While the academics among us may go Mmm an oxymoron, your drinking buddies will probably tell you, you are a moron. I like to think of myself as being open-minded; I do however struggle when it comes to all things super natural as it is in my opinion, an area where skepticism does have a rightful place.

In doing the thought process, I’m not sure I’m what one would call a hardened skeptic; simply because there are just too many thousands of people who have reported outlandish experiences, and with so much having been written on the subject, there simply has to be bases of truth in it. In yesterdays post, I mentioned that there is such a thing as tours to haunted houses and have since done a bit of web browsing on it. In doing so, I came across an extraordinary activity provider who it would appear has taken the adventure experience concept to a whole new dimension.

The home page very cleverly, at the risk of giving my age away; does have a “True Ghost Storey” comic book feel to it. It’s called “Mark Rose-Christie's The Mystery Ghost Bus Tour,” and needless to say, they are the people to call if its haunted houses you are wanting to see. The fact that they have been going for as long as 9 years, for me is a clear indication that they do have something very real to offer, and the following reviews from various publications, certainly does support that.

I have to admit that even this hardened skeptic got a shiver down her spine" - Tracy Melass, TNT Travel Magazine, London
"For the sceptic who says there's no such thing as ghosts, Rose-Christie gives them something to think about" - Star
"Fiendishly Different ... You really get your money's worth" - The Citizen
"Top Seller at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown" - Die Burger
"High Spirits & Lot's of Fun" – Argus


Well there you have it……. Spooky isn’t it?

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Wierd & Wacky, or Not


Our AdventureEscapades.co.za website does have a category called Weird And Wacky which to be fair, at this stage doesn’t contain a hell of lot that one would realistically refer to as either weird or wacky. Nonetheless, the activity it does feature is to some extent out of the ordinary in that it’s not your everyday run of the mill adventure offering.

A good example of this, is one that in my opinion is best described as a guided tour of a bee farm. H & D Honey Products is an extremely professional outfit located at Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg region who open to the public. They invite you to come and experience the buzz that one associates with the production of honey and honey related products.

A tour is given to a glass hive where the many interesting facets are covered by a well informed H & D spokesperson. From a distinctively close up viewpoint, visitors get to observe bees as they never have before, making it a memorable and informative occasion. Although the tours are safe, it is recommended that anyone who is allergic to bees make sure they bring their antihistamines and medication along.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL ♪♫ In closing, something I did come across in my travels that would without deliberation get slotted straight into the Weird and Wacky category, was a so-called tour of one of South Africa’s better known haunted houses. Exactly what one would expect witness is beyond me, clearly there are people around willing to pay good money to see the inside of somebody’s old hovel. You are better off coming to my house, bring a six pack, and if you ask nicely, I will show you the skeletons in my closet. :)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Aliwal Shoal Adventure Experience


Kwazulu Natal’s South Coast, is where you will find the quaint little seaside town of Umkomaas which besides being home to an awesome Italian couple Livio and Maz Mazzaro, it is also situated alongside one of the world’s top ten dive destinations. I of course am referring to the much celebrated Aliwal Shoal; a reef that virtually guarantees spectacular diving all year round.

The winter months bring the Ragged Tooth Shark presenting enthusiast with the unique opportunity to observe these majestic creatures while diving alongside them. In the summer months the shoal becomes a haven for an assortment of marine species, with visits from Hammerheads, Manta Rays, Turtles as well as Tiger Sharks.

Umkomaas and its neighboring towns boast warm waters and warm temperatures all year round making it a great holiday destination for sun worshipers and scuba enthusiasts alike. Our resident dive experts in the area are the good folk from La La Manzi Dive Charters and Dive Centre. The Aliwal Shoal is in essence their home reef, so if it’s a spectacular underwater adventure experience that you seek; they are most definitely the people to get in touch with.

Their Dive Centre at Lala Manzi Dive Charters is also fully equipped to ensure that all participants are properly kitted out and are also well looked after. They offer an assortment of scuba related products that include various dive courses and boat charters that will get you safely to and from the Shoal. They also do charters to Produce & Nebo Wrecks, Rocky Bay (Landers), Protea Banks (Shelly Beach), Sodwana Bay, Mozambique as well as some further afield, international dive destinations.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Defining Adventure Experience



The two lovely ladies in my life Jane and 15 year old Kyra, are both fun and outgoing people who like myself enjoy a good adventure experience, the big challenge of course is coming to a general consensus as to what activity to choose. My idea of an adventure experience differs wholly by comparison to theirs, neither of them will ever embark upon adrenalin rush activity, and both are scared stiff by the mere thought of jumping off bridges or out of an aeroplane.

Admittedly, on this blog and on our AdventureEscapades.co.za website, we use the term adventure experience in the broadest possible sense. Strictly speaking adrenalin sport and adventure activity should be categorized separately; fortunately around here we never speak strictly, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

There’s no denying that jumping off the highest bridge in Africa is a fanatic rush, and not unlike something else that comes to mind, the event itself is over in a matter of seconds with the added bonus of an afterglow that’s likely to last all day, especially for first timers. With Canopy Tours you are out for several hours on a zip-line gliding above tree tops in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, to my mind that constitutes a true adventure experience and strictly speaking (which of course we never do) that's why adventure activity and adrenalin sport should not be considered mutually exclusive.

On adventureEscapades.co.za we have several activities that can almost be described as tranquil, so if one really wants to be pedantic, one could argue that they fall into neither of the two. To base jumpers there is probably nothing about snake and reptile parks they consider even remotely adventurous, except maybe the croc creek challenge, however for many others, just being around and handling species that are perceived to be dangerous does get the heart pumping.

In summary, the adventure activity we feature we deliberately keep as broad as possible in order to cater for everybody. As much as we love featuring the Adrenalin stuff for the hardcore thrill seekers, it’s also really rewarding being able to present fun outdoor adventure experience suited to the whole family. A great example of this is the Isle of Capri Harbor Cruise which left a huge impression on Gary’s 9 year old daughter Amy, and was a fun day out for dad as well.

The above slide show sequence is a collection of activity pics supplied to us by AdventureEscapades.co.za activity operators.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Crocodile Creek Challenge


This week’s addition of the North Coast Courier (Ballito’s local weekly paper) featured a front page pic of a lady named Claudine van der Spuy, smiling while holding a not so baby croc. The croc in question is about a meter in length, while the caption below informs us that Claudine had recently excelled in the Crocodile Creek challenge.

My good friend Peter Watson, owner of Crocodile Creek, (see above photo) had mentioned to me previously that the Croc Creek challenge was something they were looking to introduce, I’m sure his thrilled that its been greeted with such enthusiasm. Peter is quoted as saying that it’s specifically designed for people who enjoy taking risks and like to get the heart pumping.

First Claudine had to lift an American alligator affectionately known as Girlie weighing in at 75kg, followed by holding a fully grown Burmese Python, before wrestling a two year old croc which I suspect is our front page luminary. The 4th leg of the challenge was the one she admitted to having found the scariest, a 400m meter walk through an enclosure housing 80 of these not so little beauties.

The paper informs us that the enclosure is used for breeding and filming and that crocs are hidden in the deep brush and ponds. Having been given the private tour of that particular enclosure, I can tell you that there’s no shortage of big mothers in there and that it definitely constitutes a worthwhile adventure experience.

The 5th and final leg admittedly is the one that I would probably choose to exclude, and that is the eating of a crocodile sosatie. Since having been introduced to them, I have discovered that they fascinate me to much and couldn’t bear the thought of eating such a majestic creature. Having had the good fortune of spending some time with our resident croc expert, I have learnt that it’s not near as high risk as one might be inclined to think, let’s face it, if it were, they simply wouldn’t have it.