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www.bluetrainmag.co.za

Complimentary Guest Magazine

June 2012

SA’s 4x4 Trails • Zanzibar • Stellenbosch by Bike


contents 24 www.bluetrainmag.co.za

Hanlie Kotze Letter from the Executive Manager

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu Letter from the Editor

From the Mailbag Passenger Letters and Comments

NEWS Keeping You Informed

EVENTS Dates To Diarise

BITS Need To Know

WINE ON TWO WHEELS Stellenbosch by Bicycle

FORGING HIS OWN PATH Nicholas Rupanga

HIKING THE GARDEN ROUTE The Harkerville Trail

TAKE THE REINS The Equine Leadership Programme

ON THE RAILS TO RECOVERY The Phelophepa II Health Train

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Complimentary Guest Magazine

June 2012

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SA’s 4x4 Trails • Zanzibar • Stellenbosch by Bike

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contents 48 PEDDLING ACROSS PARADISE Zanzibar by Bicycle

LAUGH YOURSELF WELL The Power of Laughter

AN EXTREME DREAM Thrill Seeking in the Northern Cape

MAKING OUR ROADS SAFE AGAIN The Think Pedestrian Campaign

CLIMBING THE CULINARY LADDER Grand Chef Peter Tempelhoff

OFF-ROAD ADVENTURES 4x4 Trails across South Africa

IN THE TRACKS OF A LEGEND The History of The Blue Train

SUITE LAYOUT Coach Info

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Escape the winter Chill

Mozambique at it’s best! Winter time, when the weather is idyllic for all indulgences. Lounge around the pool, enjoying a tropical cocktail whilst basking in the sun. For the action enthusiast, don’t miss out on the following adventures: • Big Game Fishing • Ocean Safaris • Scuba Diving “Underwater Big Five” • Horse-back riding • Snorkelling • Kite Surfing Special winter rates through direct bookings. w: www.vilanculos.co.za e: reservations@vilanculos.co.za t: +258 293 82 314 Ask for the “BLUE DUGONG WINTER SPECIAL”


Letter from the Executive Manager Hanlie Kotze Greetings to all! The Indaba Travel Tradeshow, which took place at the Nkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre from 12th to 15th May, was once again quite a show, despite the decrease in the number of visitors compared to last year’s event. We are very pleased to report that our own meetings and networking sessions at Indaba were very successful. We were very humbled by the number of clients (existing and potential) who visited our stand to either strengthen our already good working relationship or who were seriously considering doing business with us going forward. As we enter the month of June (regarded as Youth Month in South Africa), I would like to take this opportunity to provide some encouragement to our youth (in South Africa and around the world) through the words of the poem below, as shared by motivational speaker, Rene Godefroy:

Don’t Quit When things go wrong as they sometimes will; When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill; When the funds are low, and the debts are high; And you want to smile, but you have to sigh; When care is pressing you down a bit Rest if you must, but don’t you quit. Success is failure turned inside out; The silver tint of the clouds of doubt; And you can never tell how close you are; It may be near when it seems afar. So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit. Kate Miller once said: “We are missing something. No longer do the children dream and believe they can change the world. Apathy has destroyed… intricate illusions and fearless aspirations”. Dream that dream; go for that goal. Impossible is possible and the worst thing that can happen is that someone says: “No”. Don’t ever give up on your dreams! As long there is breath in you, there is hope. Happy Youth Month! Warm regards,

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Letter from the Editor Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu I suppose it is inevitable that the changing of the seasons always makes me think of the movement of time. Nothing makes you more aware of time ticking by than the continual movement of the seasons from one stage to the next. And as we hit the pinnacle of winter, I am reminded once again just how ungrateful and frivolous we are with the time that is given to us. As the days get increasingly colder and the number of extra blankets on our beds at night pile up, I often hear people complaining about the weather and longing for the return of the balmy days of summer. And yet, the exact same complaints are heard when the South African summer hits its full stride and the mercury ascends to the higher ends of the thermometer. It seems to be human nature to always be yearning for something other than what we have and to be constantly waiting, hoping and expecting something different in the future. Many of us spend our lives unconsciously repeating the mantra: “When I am… I will be happy/successful/fulfilled.” When I finish my studies, when I get a promotion, when I lose weight, when I get married, when my children have grown up... when these things happen, then, and only then, will everything miraculously fall into place and I will finally have attained that elusive state (but one which we are constantly lead to believe exists) of pure unadulterated happiness. As a result, many of us spend our lives chasing rainbows. Some of us will catch a few along the way, the lucky ones will catch more than most, but if we spend our lives anticipating the future, we end up wasting the greatest portion of the lives we are given by not appreciating every moment of the present. It is hard to fight against what is intrinsically a very human characteristic to always anticipate what is around the next bend, and to constantly wish for the greener grass on the other side, but I believe that for those who can get it right, true happiness lies in appreciating the present and finding small things every day that make us smile, or make us feel grateful or make us feel loved. In doing this, one also needs to learn to let go of our idealised ideas of “complete happiness” – a state where everything is perfect and everything is right. No such state of pure bliss exists, but contentment certainly does, punctuated by little moments every day – that if we take the time to recognise and appreciate – are what really make our lives worthwhile. My wish for you this month is to live in the present and to savour every moment of it – and what better place to start taking pleasure in the here and now, than on South Africa’s moving five-star hotel, The Blue Train? Enjoy the read and the ride.

Noeleen

editor@bluetrainmag.co.za

THE BLUE TRAIN www.bluetrain.co.za Pretoria, Gauteng Tel: +27 12 334 8459 Fax: +27 12 334 8464 Cape Town Tel: +27 21 449 2672 Fax: +27 21 449 3338 United Kingdom Tel: +44 1403 243619 Fax: +44 1403 217558 Central Europe Tel: +44 2089 245126 Fax: +44 2089 245126 United States Tel: 001 305 864 4569 Fax: 001 305 675 7693

EDITOR Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu editor@bluetrainmag.co.za

PUBLISHER Deidre Theron-Loots deidre@africanspiritmedia.co.za African Spirit Media (Pty) Ltd PO Box 11273, Hatfield, 0028 Tel: +27 861 THE MAG (843 624) Fax: +27 88 012 346 2367 mail@africanspiritmedia.co.za

Cover Image © iStockphoto.com

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MANAGING EDITOR Nicky Furniss nicky@tcbgroup.co.za ADVERTISING SALES Estelle van der Westhuizen +27 84 821 7257 estellevdw@tcbgroup.co.za Nikki de Lange +27 83 415 0339 nikki@tcbgroup.co.za Robyn Shillaw-Botha +27 83 629 8818 IMAGES © iStockphoto.com

DESIGN & LAYOUT Joanne Mc Laren joanne@virtualdavinci.co.za Virtual Da Vinci Creative Room

PRINTING Business Print Centre, Pretoria CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE Wilma den Hartigh/mediaclubsouthafrica.com, Keith Bain, Niki Moore, Andrew Thompson, Emily van Rijswijck/mediaclubcouthafrica.com, Bob Truda, Lize de Kock, Nicola Weir, Kgopi Mabotja/mediaclubsouthafrica.com The Blue Train Magazine is published monthly by African Spirit Media (Pty) Ltd. Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of African Spirit Media (Pty) Ltd, The Blue Train or any of their clients. Information has been included in good faith by the publisher and is believed to be correct at the time of going to print. No responsibility can be accepted for errors and omissions. No material (articles or photographs) in this publication may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without specific written permission from the Publisher. Copyright © 2012. All copyright for material appearing in this magazine belongs to African Spirit Media (Pty) Ltd and/or the individual contributors. All rights reserved.


From the Mail Bag

Passenger Letters & Comments

Our trip on The Blue Train was an absolutely unforgettable experience that lived up to and actually surpassed our expectations. All the staff were very friendly and helpful, particularly Justice, the lounge waiter. Mr & Mrs S&K Hedley, UK All the staff provided very friendly and helpful service. It was a wonderful experience and good value for money. Mr PH Feldtmann, South Africa Thank you for making this experience so superb. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The staff, the facilities and the accommodation all contributed to an experience that will forever stay with me. Ms DA Hammond, Australia It was a wonderful experience in all respects. All the staff were excellent and we will definitely recommend The Blue Train to our friends and families. It makes us proud to be South African. Mr & Mrs Fermor, South Africa The staff were excellent and we received excellent service. We loved the experience. Mrs K Rowe, Australia It was a fantastic experience. All the staff were very friendly and helpful. We hope to be back again soon. Mr & Mrs Naude, South Africa Justice (dining waiter) was very friendly and helpful. We could not fault the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience. Mr & Mrs KK Kammond, Australia The Blue Train experience exceeded our expectations. Mrs ACS Furniss, UK

Do you have a complaint or comment that you would like to share with us? Please fill in the guest questionnaire that is available in your suite or alternatively send an email to info@bluetrain.co.za. Please also feel free to send your photos from your trip on The Blue Train to the same address. Comments may be edited, shortened or translated from the original language.

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news A Prestigious Hat Trick In a major coup, The Blue Train showed once again why it should indeed be on every local and tourist’s itinerary when it was awarded the highly contest 2011 World’s Leading Luxury Train award at the World Travel Awards prize giving ceremony in Doha, Qatar recently. The Blue Train, which combines the luxury of the world’s leading hotels with the charm of train travel, outshone its competitors and claimed it’s well deserved first spot. It has built an incredible legacy and has now won this award for an impressive three consecutive years. Since their inception 17 years ago, The World Travel Awards – known as the “Oscars of the Travel Industry” – have become an important measure of excellence in the travel and tourism industry. These prestigious awards aim to stimulate innovation and creativity in the industry; to ensure that travellers receive exceptional value, and to acknowledge the organisations that contribute significantly to the industry.

The Blue Train is now a Heart Save Area Several Blue Train staff recently completed a Heart Saver CPR/AED Course and are now proficient in the necessary knowledge and practical skills to recognise life threatening cardio-pulmonary emergencies on board. This will enable them to respond swiftly and effectively in the event of an emergency. The staff will be aided by the Samaritan Pad 500P with CPR Advisor, which is a small, portable and easy to use device, which helps to restore a pulse in most heart attack victims. It also aids rescuers by giving precise visual and voice instructions on how to use the device and how to administer effective CPR.

Promoting Excellence The Blue Train Magazine was gratified to receive two awards recently at the 2011 SA Publication Forum Awards, which recognise excellence in the custom publishing field. Publications that receive a score of 75% or above in a particular category are awarded certificates of excellence, and The Blue Train Magazine received certificates of excellence for both Design and Writing. This serves as a wonderful vote of confidence for the magazine and its team who will continue to strive to improve the publication even further.

The Blue Train Wins Again The Blue Train has proven once more why it is considered the world’s best luxury train by walking away with yet another

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prestigious international award. At the Condé Nast 12th Annual Readers’ Travel Awards held in London in September 2010, The Blue Train was voted as the “Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Favourite Specialist Train”. The runner-up in the “Specialist Train” category was the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. Other nominations included The Ghan in Australia, the Palace on Wheels in India and The Royal Scotsman. The Blue Train was the only South African company to win one of the 27 categories – although South Africa did come in ninth in the “Favourite Holiday Destination” category. “To say that we are delighted with this award would be an understatement! To be nominated alone is such a great achievement, but to win your specific category is enormous! Credit must go to everyone associated with this brand – our employees, representatives, all our strategic partners and suppliers for their effortless passion and commitment to this “Blue Jewel”. Together, through hard work and dedication, we can achieve much more,” commented Hanlie Kotze, Executive Manager of The Blue Train. She added: “With a long-standing reputation of South African hospitality, The Blue Train symbolises the very core of luxury train travel. It is exquisitely crafted and appointed to achieve a degree of unequalled luxury to satisfy not only the senses of every guest, but to also touch their souls. This is the very essence of why we are known as a window to the soul of South Africa.”

Business “Unusual” Charters A special tailor-made, all-inclusive charter on The Blue Train is a wonderful way for guests to explore South Africa’s landscapes and landmarks, lasting from a few hours to several nights. From a VIP cocktail breakfast, lunch or dinner, to a business “unusual” conference, a product launch with a difference, a special wedding reception, staff incentives or even a birthday celebration, the experience is up to you. The Blue Train follows any route, provided the rail networks are compatible to its technology.

For Further Information For more information on The Blue Train’s exciting packages and to read the booking conditions for advance reservations, visit www.bluetrain.co.za or contact The Blue Train reservation office in Pretoria on +27 12 334 8459 or Cape Town on +27 21 449 2672. Email any general enquiries or feedback to info@bluetrain.co.za. n


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events The Best of Books Regarded as the premier book fair in Sub-Saharan Africa, The Cape Town Book Fair will be making its literary presence known when it takes over the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 15th to 17th June. As usual, bookworms can look forward to exhibitions by aspiring and published authors, book distributors and stores, electronic book traders, libraries, literary agents and publishers. The fair will also host a variety of book launches and signings, author interviews, literary workshops and a poetry corner, as well as a dedicated digital zone for eBook fans, and a cookbook corner for culinary demonstrations. Thus far, confirmed exhibitors include Paarl Media, Juta & Company, Protea Boekhuis, Pan Macmillan South Africa, Shuter & Shooter Publishers and Cambridge University Press among others. Tickets are available through Computicket at www.computicket.co.za. For more information, email info@capetownbookfair.com or visit www.capetownbookfair.com.

Bring on the Maestros This year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival will take place alongside the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from 28th June to 8th July 2012. Local stars are set to lead from the front, with legendary South African musicians Mango Groove, Sibongile Khumalo, and our own “King of R&B”, Loyiso Bala, all making appearances. Jazz lovers can also look forward to Dutch maestro Benjamin Herman, French pianist and composer Carine Bonnefoy and two of Europe’s leading exponents of the double bass, Hein van de Geyn and Martin Sjöstedt. Tickets are available through Computicket. For more information, visit www.standardbankarts.co.za.

A Day Out for Dad Treat your dad to an early Father’s Day surprise by heading out to the Laborie Lazy Days Market in Paarl on 16th June. Here dads can look forward to a spectacular vintage car exhibition, a selection of international and local beers and the opportunity to relax on the lawn overlooking the vineyards, while sipping on a glass of wine and taking in the sweet sounds of the live entertainment on offer. Sports fans can also look forward to watching the rugby on a big screen TV, or they can sign up for a fun hike which leaves the market at 08h30. The Laborie Lazy Days Market is held every Saturday and offers visitors a wide selection of fresh produce and lifestyle goods. There is also plenty on offer to keep the kids entertained. For more information, contact +27 21 807 3390 or visit www.laboriewines.co.za.

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events Page Turners and Palate Pleasers As part of the Grande Roche Hotel’s “Culinary Innovations” winter programme – a series of unique wine and food events – guests are invited to head to this historic hotel, situated just outside of Paarl, for a series of “Fireside Chats”. These will showcase top South African authors and will be combined with fine wine and cuisine that will delight book lovers and wine fundis alike and serve as the perfect entertainment for wintry nights. The series will start on 23rd June with the queen of thrillers, Margie Orford, who will chat about her Clare Hart series and reveal a little something of what her fans can expect in the near future. The Fireside Chats cost R365 per person and include food and wine. Bookings are essential and can be made by contacting +27 21 863 5100 or emailing christine@granderoche.co.za. Visit www.granderoche.co.za for more information.

For Giggles and Guffaws If you love to have your funny bone tickled, then you are in for a treat when the country’s largest comedy festival, the Vodacom Funny Festival, heads to the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town from 11th June to 8th July. The line-up includes a host of top local and international comedians such as Kurt Schoonraad, Alan Committie, Piet Potgieter, Kagiso Mokgadi and speed painter Jon Hicks. Comedy lovers can also look forward to numerous Edinburgh Fringe Festival award winners including Best Newcomer Imran Yusuf and Best Musical Comedian Kev Orkian. Tickets are available through Computicket at www.computicket.com or by calling +27 861 915 8000. For more information, search for Vodacom-Funny-Festival on Facebook.

Fondue Fun Ward off the winter chills on Sunday afternoons with lashings of piping hot cheese fondue and toe-tapping tunes when Delheim’s Jazz and Cheese Fondue events kick off on 24th June. Every Sunday thereafter until 5th August, guests will be ushered into the cosy downstairs cellar at the Stellenbosch wine estate, where steaming pots of Swiss fondue await. These will be prepared to an authentic recipe, with farm-fresh bread and crisp crudités to dip, and a glass of traditional glühwein to start the festivities. A popular local jazz band will be on hand to entertain guests for the afternoon. Bookings are essential, and can be made by contacting +27 21 888 4607, or emailing restaurant@delheim.com. Visit www.delheim.com for more information.

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bits Tee Off on Time Now, golfers at the prestigious Fancourt golf resort in George need never be late for their tee offs again, thanks to a new partnership between Fancourt and international watchmaker, Rolex. Rolex has designed ten clocks, which have been strategically positioned for golfers’ timekeeping convenience around The Links, Montagu and Outeniqua golf courses, as well as at the Fancourt Clubhouse and on all practice and warm-up facilities. The relationship between Rolex and golf has continued to grow since its inception in 1967, and today, the Rolex brand is one of golf’s leading supporters worldwide. With the new Fancourt collaboration, Rolex brings the partnership to the home of one of its own, Gary Player, who originally designed all three of Fancourt’s lauded golf courses. Gary Player continues to endorse the iconic Rolex brand after more than a decade of sponsorship. Visit www.fancourt.co.za for more information.

Proudly South African Still looking for a gift for Father’s Day? Then why not treat your dad to a bottle of Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky? Inspired by the Bain’s Kloof Pass and its natural beauty, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is crafted from the finest South African grain. It is South Africa’s first single grain whisky and its double-maturation imparts flavour and complexity, resulting in an exceptionally smooth and distinctive whisky. Crafted by master distiller Andy Watts, the whisky shows an exceptional interaction between spirit and wood to produce a mix of toffee, floral and vanilla aromas and flavours with a hint of spice softened by sweet undertones. Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is distilled and matured at The James Sedgwick Distillery, which dates back to 1886 and is situated near the foothills of the Bain’s Kloof Pass in Wellington, in the heart of the Boland. Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is available from leading liquor outlets nationwide.

Giving a Hoot Through their partnership with the Owl Rescue Centre, the Sandton Sun Hotel in Johannesburg is contributing to the longevity of the natural owl population in the greater Sandton area. Earlier this year, the centre installed a Hacking Aviary on the roof of the hotel to reintroduce rehabilitated owls (that originated from the Sandton area) back into their natural habitat. The centre places owls in the Hacking Aviary for approximately six weeks to assist them in becoming re-accustomed to the area, as well as teaching them how to hunt. Through this process, the owls are encouraged to find their own habitats. Once the centre is sure that the owls are ready to survive in the wild, they are released. The roof of the Sandton Sun is home to a number of additional owl boxes to ensure that the owls are able to return to the aviary should they struggle to find their own prey.

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bits A Fusion Feast Celebrate the cultural melting pot of Cape Town with delicious fusion dishes at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. More than 25 fine dining restaurants will create fusion dishes inspired by the vibrant and diverse flavours that represent South Africa’s different cultures; from Dutch, Indian and Italian to Portuguese and Malay. They will then take part in a Master of the Trade Routes Culinary Challenge from 1st June to 31st August. Diners will have the opportunity to enjoy these fusion dishes (at special winter rates) and vote at the restaurant or on the V&A Waterfront’s Facebook page, to determine the Peoples’ Choice Award. Diners also stand a chance to win meal vouchers from the participating restaurants as well as tickets to the gala event in August where the Master of the Trade Routes will be announced. The participating restaurants include Meloncino, City Grill, Krugmans Grill, The Conservatory and Hildebrand.

Your Guide to Good Wine The newly launched 2012 Wine Tourism Handbook explores South Africa’s cellars and the many other attractions offered by the country’s various wine regions. The award-winning publication provides a comprehensive list of farms all over South Africa, their opening hours and wine ranges, along with a number of accommodation options, restaurant recommendations and an array of exciting leisure activities and top attractions. These are all clearly marked on maps for each area to enable greater ease of use. An additional feature of this year’s handbook is the inclusion of Methode Cap Classique producers in the ‘bubbly’ section, to encourage fans of ‘champagne’ to branch out and try the myriad of outstanding examples available in the country. The handbook is available in bookstores, wine shops and wine farms across the country, and now also as a Kindle-compatible e-book from Amazon.com or a PDF version from www.winetourismhandbook.co.za.

Exploring the Eastern Cape The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) in conjunction with NGO Open Africa (www.openafrica.org) has developed a new Coastal Route covering nearly 900 km of pristine coastline spanning the length of the Eastern Cape. The province is rich in biodiversity with contrasting landscapes featuring primeval coastal forests and white sandy beaches, diverse wildlife, ancient rock art and Xhosa culture, and offers visitors an adventure of a lifetime. The new Coastal Route has been designed for both self-drive and group tourists and is divided into eight regional routes, which will take travellers to the Eastern Cape’s off-the-beaten-track attractions such as the 6,500-year-old Coastal Dune Field at Alexandria or the ancient manmade fish traps at Cape St Francis. The route incorporates suggested itineraries based on interesting things to see and do as well as value-for-money local accommodation options. For more information, visit www.visiteasterncape.co.za.

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Travel

Wine on

Two Wheels Stellenbosch by Bicycle

Visitors to the Western Cape now have the option to experience the best of what the Stellenbosch region has to offer, on a bicycle. Text: Wilma den Hartigh/mediaclubsouthafrica.com Images: Š iStockphoto.com & The Adventure Shop

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Travel

A Stellenbosch-based adventure sports company recently launched a new tourism product that offers guided bicycle tours through the historic town and the surrounding Winelands. “It is something different. You actually have an opportunity to experience Stellenbosch and its surroundings, and not just sit in a bus,” says the Adventure Shop’s Raino Bolz. And, you don’t even have to be in peak condition to join in. “It is a leisurely ride but it helps to be moderately fit. We don’t rush the group,” Bolz adds. He explains that the Adventure Shop has always offered bicycle rentals and guided tours on demand for tourists. “We then decided to combine both the rentals and guided tours and turn it into a product.”

A Historic Town The tour kicks off in Stellenbosch, at the Tourist Information

Centre where riders collect their mountain bikes and helmets. Bolz advises prospective participants to travel light and cycle in comfortable gear such as shorts and t-shirts. The guides carry a snack pack for each rider. From here, the group cycles through Stellenbosch past interesting historic sites. “The town has a fascinating history,” says Bolz. Founded in 1697 by Simon van der Stel, Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa. It is home to some beautiful and well preserved examples of Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Many of these buildings can be seen in one of the town’s most well-known streets, Dorp Street, which is a national monument. On route, the guides point out other prominent landmarks such as the moederkerk (mother church), and the theological seminary. The moederkerk was completed in 1863 under the supervision of German architect, Carl Otto Hager. The first

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Travel

church was destroyed by a fire in 1710, but it was later rebuilt and extended. The theological seminary was constructed on what used to be an island on the banks of the Eerste River. Here Simon van der Stel camped with his party for the first time in 1679, and founded the town of Stellenbosch.

Heading into the Countryside

Cyclists on one of Adventure Shops’ Stellenbosch tours stop to admire the Stellenbosch Theological Seminary

Next, the group heads out to the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, just outside Stellenbosch. Cyclists might work up a bit of a sweat on this part of the route, but the beautiful mountain fynbos (fine bush) should offer enough of a distraction. More than 1,100 plant species can be found in the reserve, of which a number are rare and endemic to the area. Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is a popular cycling and hiking spot. It also includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, which is suitable for shorter walks and picnics. The tour then follows a winding road through oak and poplar forests to two wine estates in the Jonkershoek Valley: Stark-Condé, owned by self-taught winemaker Jose Condé; and Lanserac Wines, producers of the world’s first commercially bottled Pinotage. At Lanserac, the group is treated to chocolate and wine pairings, the ultimate indulgence – and thoroughly earned

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after all of that exercise! After the tasting, the group cycles back into Stellenbosch. If the wine and chocolates leave you feeling a bit weary, rest assured that the route back is as scenic as the way up, and, thankfully, mostly downhill! n

Tour Details The Adventure Shop offers variations on this route and the tour can also be tailored to suit the group’s cycling ability. The duration of the tour is four to five hours and cyclists depart at 09h30 from the Stellenbosch Tourist Information Centre, where the Adventure Shop is located. The tour costs R490 per person, which includes a guide, bicycle and helmet rental, two wine tastings and a snack pack and drink.


Feature

Forging his

Own Path Nicholas Rupanga

Nicholas Rupanga is fast making a name for himself in the sport of trail running – not only for his incredible speed, but also for his ability to win despite often getting lost along the way! Text: Keith Bain Pix Š Nick Muzik/Wildrunner, Keith Bain, RacingThePlanet Ltd

Nicholas Rupanga takes the path less-travelled in his signature colourful Salomon trail running shoes

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Feature Always beaming – Nicholas Rupanga in top form after winning yet another of this year’s Cape Summer Trail series races. Rupanga won the championship in the men’s open category

Nicholas Rupanga is a mountain goat with an unusual handicap. He has a knack for getting lost. The problem? This Zimbabwe born trail runner is just too fast. When the starter’s gun is fired, he whips off at such speed and with such focus on winning that he misses route markers and takes wrong paths. I chat to him after he has just won one of the year’s Cape Trail Series runs, and he jokes about his persistent problem. “Those orange ribbons look like flowers,” he explains. Then I ask him about another race – ironically, the Namaqua Flower Run, a 20 km knee-breaker that ascends the Northern Cape’s highest mountain. At one point during the race, I had spotted Rupanga emerging out of nowhere behind me, looking like he had taken a prolonged pit stop. “No, I got lost,” he admits. Despite the detour, Rupanga won that race too. Trail running is a departure from road running in many respects. Faulty navigation is just one diversion. On many

multi-day trail races, which traverse deserts or crisscross dense jungle, runners must carry GPS equipment. Even on simpler routes, you will find competitors frantically scanning maps at the start. Running off-road, your eyes must be constantly busy and alert. You need to gauge the surface you are slamming your feet onto; negotiate obstacles; avoid trees and rocks and other hazards; and judge distances as you leap and careen through an untamed terrain. It is all part of the sport. Although there may be pathways, these are sometimes nothing more than narrow tracks which are frequently overgrown and treacherous. A common mishap comes from being distracted by the beautiful surroundings, because if you lose concentration, there is every chance of slamming into a rock or tree. But this is what makes trail running so enjoyable; the blissful commune with Nature. With constant variations in topography, boredom is not an option. It is also why runners

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Feature Rupanga leads the pack at the start of one of the Cape Trail Series races

occasionally cross the finish line with bruises, scratches, skid marks, and gaping wounds – if they finish at all. Rupanga, who represented Zimbabwe as a cross country athlete while at school, ran his first trail race in 2009. He partnered with stalwart Patrick Cox for the African X, a three day team event which covers 90 km. “It was so easy,” recalls Rupanga. “Since I always train in the mountains.” Their victory instigated Rupanga’s transition to competitive trail running. Like many other trail runners, he is inspired by the environment. “On the trails, I don’t even check my time; I focus on the terrain,” he says. Which explains his love of his adopted home, Cape Town, with its easy access to wilderness. From his home, it is a short warm-up run before he is on mountain tracks. While trails inevitably involve gruelling uphill climbs, downhills are Rupanga’s nemesis. His battle is with technical descents. “Technical” refers to the level of footwork complexity. Often, you are dealing with tricky stones and rocks, and have to maintain your balance at a relatively high pace. Rupanga’s frustration is that downhills slow him down. Descents require more concentration and are punishing on the knees. When you are leaping between rocks, the punishment is amplified. Twisted ankles are common, and champions of the sport are not immune, as Rupanga has discovered speeding down Table Mountain. Trail runners cannot afford to switch off, he says. “You need to put your mind on the task at hand; you require much more concentration.” Rupanga’s ambitions start at home. Last year he was in the winning Table Mountain Challenge relay team with Ryan Sandes, the country’s top ultra-trail athlete and a

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global sensation. Rupanga is aiming for a solo victory in that race, and also wants to win The Otter, a two day race covering 42 km of the country’s iconic Tsitsikamma hiking route (usually walked over five days). Sandes won the event in four hours and 40 minutes last year. Most entrants do not finish before the cut-off time. Like many adventuresome trail athletes, Rupanga takes inspiration from Sandes’ considerable achievements. The fellow Capetonian has racked up successes in the world’s most gruelling events, including the arduous Leadville 100-miler in the Colorado Rockies, and weeklong multistage races, such as The Last Desert in Antarctica. Get into that league, and you see parts of the world you never imagined you would. It is the stuff of dreams. And Rupanga is a mountain goat with mighty dreams. He may get lost from time to time, but he knows where he is going. n

The Low-Down on Trail Running Aside from the obvious, trail running is not like road running, and its proponents are often militant campaigners for the freedom and added difficulty of going off-road. Trails add interest and variety, while roads can feel dull and plodding. World class Cape Town based trail runner Ryan Sandes cautions about the repetitive foot strike demanded by running on even tar, while trails require the foot constantly to adapt to different terrain. This, he says, lessens certain types of injury. Trails imply a wide variety of terrain, and often incorporate hills, mountains, and forests; while deserts and other inhospitable environments are where tougher survivaltesting races take place. For more information on South African trail runs, visit www.trailrunning.co.za.


Travel

Hiking the Garden Route

The Harkerville Trail

South Africans sometimes forget that they live within easy reach of some of the most beautiful and accessible wilderness areas in the world – some, literally on their doorstep. One such treasure is the Harkerville Trail on the southern Cape coast, a hike which can pack the punch of a longer trail in just one weekend. Text: Emily van Rijswijck/mediaclubcouthafrica.com Images: Š Emily van Rijswijck

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Besides the scenic ocean views and the magnificent giant yellowwood trees, hikers on this trail can also look forward to a veritable feast for the senses – the smell of the forest floor and the sea spray; sudden outbursts from red-billed wood hoopoes; and rows of cup-shaped fungi marking the paths.

Spoilt for Choice Inhabitants of the greater Cape area are generally spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking trails in the aptly named Garden Route, with the Outeniqua, Tsitsikamma and a host of other popular trails concentrated just in this area. The Harkerville Trail, however, remains a favourite for hikers who appreciate its diverse offerings, all squeezed into just two days. This trail is rated as “moderate to difficult” by those in the know. Port Elizabeth resident André Moolman has done the Harkerville Trail ten times and says that it is the perfect benchmark trail to see if you are ready for more strenuous hikes, like South Africa’s oldest hiking trail, the Otter Trail, and the Fish River Canyon. In size, the Fish River Canyon takes second place only to the mighty Grand Canyon in the US and forms the natural border between South Africa and Namibia. “The Harkerville Trail is a good measure for me to see if I am fit enough,” says Moolman, adding that it offers probably the most beautiful scenery a hiker will encounter in South Africa.

Harkerville Hut A challenging 27 kilometres in length, the trail starts and ends at the Harkerville Hut at the Harkerville Forestry Station located between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. This is also the end point for the seven-day Outeniqua Trail, and energetic hikers may combine the two into a nine-day trek. Day one is a 15-kilometre hike, which starts off with a long stretch in the forest before you are suddenly greeted by a break in the foliage and a beautiful view of the sea far below you. While nothing should be taken away from the forest and the mountain fynbos (fine bush) sections of the hike, it is the part trailing along the edge of the sea which brings the real thrill. The use of “edge” in this instance is deliberate, as you will find yourself with the sea spray flicking your feet and the waves charging in with purpose if the tide happens to be high during your crossing. Though the ledges across the rock face are not excessively high, hikers with a fear of heights may feel nervous. But, once safely over the rocks, the calm pools of seawater are wonderfully refreshing, and it is fun to swim with little fish that sometimes take a precautionary nibble at your feet. It is

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worthwhile remembering to squeeze a pair of diving goggles and some flippers into your backpack for just this occasion.

Californian Redwoods In this little piece of indigenous paradise, the remnants of an experimental plantation of Californian redwoods, planted in 1925, are still to be found. These remaining trees are all to be cut down but for one giant specimen of about 33 metres in height and more than a metre in diameter, which will mark time and location. The redwood is native to the west coast of America where it can grow up to 300 metres in height. Harkerville is also a place where the smallest creatures have right of way, from the large black shongololo (the Ndebele word for millipede, widely used in South African lingo) to the very common Forest spider, a creature seemingly intent on building his web exactly at face height. But as nature lovers tend to be mindful of these things, hikers manoeuvre carefully around these delicate webs, while the warning “Mind the shongololo!” from a fellow hiker is not uncommon.

Sinclair Hut The second night is spent at the comfortable Sinclair Hut. While the hut does not have beautiful views of the ocean, some points of this rocky coastline are close by and it is worth a 700-metre stroll to watch the sun setting over the Indian Ocean. During the whale season, which reaches its peak in October, it is not unusual to get excellent sightings of these magnificent creatures from various vantage points along the trail. The Southern Right whale is a common sight in these parts from around July to December as pods travel north from the Antarctic region to mate and breed. In fact, the small coastal town of Hermanus, further south along the coast, is considered to be the best land-based whale watching area in the world and has its own whale festival and fulltime whale crier. The second part of the trail winds for 12 kilometres with some challenging parts over rocky ledges and pebbled beaches, before hikers tackle the stiff climb up to the car park and picnic spot located on top of the hill. With muscular strain setting in, the last stretch through the forest is easy enough to walk even barefoot, with a soft forest carpet of leaves and twigs easing the way. Sunburnt and exhausted, you will know that you have finished a serious hike in just two days when you finally reach the Harkerville Hut once more. But, every step is well worth it. n


Feature

Yolanda Sing’s Equine Leadership Programme encourages people to embrace their own shortcomings and to become more self aware by interacting with horses

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Feature

Reins

Take the

The Equine Leadership Programme

Being a manager is not an easy job, and often those in high powered positions need a little help in honing their skills. Few, however, would probably have thought prior to completing The Equine Leadership Programme that their best teacher may in fact be a horse. Text: Niki Moore Images: © The Equine Leadership Programme

It is a summer’s day in Durban. A light breeze occasionally plays over the stable buildings at Hammarsdale outside the city, but mostly the sun beats down on the 20 people sitting on a circle of hay bales. Sweat trickles down their faces under their sun hats and their clothes are creased and dusty. But not one of the seven women and 13 men seem to mind the heat, or even notice it. Instead, their attention is focused intently on the petite dark woman standing in their midst, speaking in a soft, but compelling voice. She is not on her own; with her in the paddock are five horses of various colours and sizes. There is the huge, dark stallion; the shy, pretty palomino; the gawky and thin piebald; the plump chestnut pony; and the skittish skewbald. “See how the dominant mare is showing off,” the woman says in a musical Afrikaans accent. “She knows she’s in charge, and she’s letting us know it as well. Watch her and see how she uses her authority.” As the 20 people watch intently, sometimes even getting up and walking closer to stand between the horses, the patterns of interaction between the animals start to emerge. The task that the audience has been given is to observe the horses closely to see what kind of behaviour they recognise in themselves. “That’s how we start our courses,” says Yolanda Sing, life coach and founder of the Equine Leadership Programme. “The first thing we do is to get people to observe the horses

while we discuss leadership and herd dynamics. We ask them: ‘Which one are you?’ For two days we are with these animals, in sun or rain or wind, out of our human comfort zone. This is a subtle lesson that life must make us resilient and we must put up with discomfort in order to learn. We don’t ride horses on this programme. We spend time with them, grooming them, watching them, and interacting with them; sometimes in a group and sometimes with just one person and one horse. And then the magic happens.” Yolanda is convinced that horses are the most intuitive of animals, and that interacting with them teaches us about ourselves. “People get very emotional,” she says. “In a very short time the horse has made a clear connection with them. I don’t know how it happens or why, I have given up trying to explain it. All I know is that when people spend time with horses under my guidance, this interaction gives them insights into themselves and their abilities in a very short time and this becomes a life changing experience.” Yolanda believes that she has a gift of insight and intuition herself which allows her to understand the process between horse and human. This ability, along with her training in psychology and human resources, as well as her global experience in 15 different countries, allows her to relate this process of self discovery to the workplace. “I can interpret the interaction,” she says, “and relate it to the corporate environment. So these leadership programmes

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Feature

By observing the horses, the participants on the programme start to recognise similar character traits in themselves

are valuable for companies, where people form their own ‘herd’. With our lifestyles, people lose the ability to be self aware, to recognise their own shortcomings. Only when they acknowledge their own fallibilities can they overcome them. I also sometimes run the programme for families that are having problems with communication. God has blessed me with this ability to help people, and I can look back on my life and say: ‘I have done some good.’” Yolanda’s own journey started with a “horse whispering” course in Spain in 2002, where her interaction with the horses changed her life and made her realise she had a talent and a passion for helping people connect with themselves. Shortly after returning to her home in the Eastern Cape, she decided to abandon the high powered multi-national corporate world and concentrate on a life skills career with a more human – and equine – slant. “There are examples of equine assisted therapy all over the world,” she says. “It has been shown to help drug addicts and people with personality disorders. Even autistic people have been proven to relate better to human beings after working with horses.” For Yolanda, the most astonishing aspect of the courses is how fast and how completely people make connections with the horses and begin the process of self awareness. “There have been people who arrive with resistance to the programme. Perhaps they are afraid of horses, but within

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minutes the magic starts to work. Horses have a presence and energy, a wisdom and honesty that is impossible to resist. It’s very easy for people to get too busy with their lives, and they never stop to ask: ‘Who am I? What do I stand for?’ Then they look into the gentle eyes of a horse, time slows down and the answers come.” n Yolanda Sing is based in Maclear in the Eastern Cape, where she runs courses on her farm combined with fishing, hiking and sightseeing holidays. She also runs courses in conjunction with stables in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and the UK. For more information, contact +27 71 268 6377, email chloeinsa@gmail.com or visit www.chloeinsa.co.za.


Feature

On the Rails to

Recovery

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Feature

The Phelophepa II Health Train South Africa’s second state-of-the-art clinic on wheels, Phelophepa II, has hit the tracks, taking much needed primary health care services to the country’s poorest rural communities. Text: Wilma den Hartigh/mediaclubsouthafrica.com Images: © Mark Klein

A patient receives an eye test in the optometry department of the train

In February 2010, South African rail, port and pipeline company, Transnet, announced that it had set aside more than R80 million (approximately $10 million) for a vital corporate social investment project, to boost accessibility to primary healthcare in the rural areas of South Africa. That project was Transnet’s second healthcare train, known as the Phelophepa II. Phelophepa, which means ‘good, clean health’ in Setswana, is a flagship project of the Transnet Foundation – Transnet’s specialist unit for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Its predecessor, the Phelophepa I, is known worldwide as a forerunner in primary healthcare provision. The train made history when it became the first sustainable South African CSR initiative to receive the prestigious UN Public Service Award for its excellence in public service

delivery. The second train, which will operate simultaneously with the Phelophepa I (which started in 1994), is to follow in its predecessor’s ground-breaking footsteps. With the introduction of Phelophepa II, Transnet will more than double the number of people who benefit from the facility, taking the total to an estimated 370,000 people every year. The train travels 36 weeks a year, visiting regions with inadequate access to medical services. The healthcare staff onboard consists of 20 core employees and close to 30 student interns who are preparing for careers in a variety of health-related fields. Both health trains are part of Transnet’s commitment to help South Africa achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which include reducing child mortality, improving maternal

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Feature Many patients travel long distances to receive medical attention when they hear that the train is in town

The train is staffed by 20 core employees and up to 30 health care student interns, who all help to process the train’s many patients

Dr Lynette Coetzee, manager of the health portfolio at the Transnet Foundation, is one of the driving forces behind the Pelophepa project

health and combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases.

A Symbol of Hope At every village and town on its route, the clinic on wheels is changing lives. Phelophepa has become a symbol of hope for many people, bringing lifesaving healthcare to thousands of underprivileged rural communities who cannot afford even the most basic healthcare services. One patient at a time, the Phelophepa II’s onboard primary healthcare, dental, optometry and psychology services are giving more people an opportunity to live a healthy life. Onke Mazibuko, Manager of the Phelophepa train, says that when the news gets out that the mobile clinic is in town, people come in their numbers, often travelling long distances to be treated. The staff can only see so many patients every day, but people are willing to wait in queues and even sleep outside the train as they wait to be treated. Mazibuko and his team live on the train, staying for a week or two at each of the train’s various stops. In some communities they visit, there is just one doctor for every 5,000 people. “Every place we go there are different stories,” he says. At one of the stations, a farmer complaining of toothache left the train so grateful to the dental team, that he returned later carrying bags of potatoes, tomatoes and oranges. Dr Lynette Coetzee, manager of the health portfolio at the Transnet Foundation, remembers when an 87-year-old grandmother from KwaZulu-Natal visited the mobile clinic. She was hoping to receive a pair of glasses so she could see

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the letters in her Bible, even though she was unable to read. Her eyes were tested, the glasses were made, and a young optometry student fitted them carefully on her face. “You look beautiful in these,” he told the old lady. She sat in silence for a while, and then she started crying. The student was worried that there was something wrong with the glasses, but the woman was only crying because she was happy – she never thought that a young boy would tell her she looked beautiful. She was able to see the world clearly for the first time in years. Every year the Phelophepa eye clinic dispenses thousands of pairs of spectacles to adults and children, and adults pay a nominal cost of R30 a pair. Dr Terence Giles, manager of the Phelophepa eye clinic, recalls a visit to a school for the blind in a township just outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The screenings showed that as many as half of the children in the school were not actually blind – they just needed glasses. “It was a wonderful feeling to make the blind see,” Giles says.

Modern Onboard Facilities The Phelophepa II will offer the same health care services as the Phelophepa I but offers more technologically advanced facilities. The 18 Phelophepa coaches are old donor passenger coaches that have been completely rebuilt according to new designs and specifications. The train is fitted with enhanced communication, ablution and air conditioning systems, wheelchair platform lifts for disabled people and new


The train boasts a pharmacy (below) as well as dental, psychology, optometry and primary healthcare departments

Feature

Patients, many of whom have no other access to medical facilities, are happy to wait in long queues outside the train in order to see a healthcare professional

advanced medical equipment technology. Pharmaceutical company Roche has also expanded its Phelophepa sponsorship. It now includes funding of the primary healthcare clinic, with a diabetes care programme and oncology clinic; a medicine dispensary; school health services and education programmes for health workers and staff for both the original and the new train. Roche Chairman Franz Humer said that the company is proud to have continuously grown its support for the Phelophepa trains. “It has such a remarkable impact on the lives of thousands of people every year,” Humer said. Some of the other new technological developments on the second train include a vacuum toilet system, the first for passenger type coaches in South Africa. The toilets are connected to a retention tank that prevents sewerage spillage onto the rail tracks. The vacuum toilets also save water and for each flush, only half a litre of water is used, compared to the conventional system that uses four to five litres. The communication and data system installed in Phelophepa II is the most advanced system yet installed in a train in South Africa. It is also the first time that optic fibre has been used as a network medium on trains. The air conditioners fitted to the new coaches are more power efficient, while still providing excellent cooling and heating capability. Certain air conditioning units, such as those in the health and dental coaches, have been modified to eliminate the possible spread of germs into the corridors by altering the airflow.

The train’s special needs facilities make it possible for disabled people to receive medical attention with greater ease. Wheelchair lifts are fitted at strategic positions on the train, making it possible for people with special needs to access dental, optometry and healthcare facilities. The wheelchair elevator can lift 300 kg, which means that a person in a wheel chair as well as the caretaker can use it at the same time. Cosmetic upgrades to the new coaches are improving patients’ experience of the train. The cubicles on Phelophepa II’s psychology clinic have each been painted a different colour. This was done to make clients feel more relaxed and comfortable during the sessions. In the dentistry coach, the dental cubicles are more spacious, compared to the previous arrangement, and now have ultraviolet devices to help destroy any airborne germs.

Providing Hope Transnet has published a glossy coffee table book on Phelophepa’s journey, filled with many stories of how the health trains are helping to make South Africa a better place. In it, the train’s previous Manager, Sister Magdeline Ntikinca, who passed away in 2010, said that Phelophepa gives a voice to people’s health and wellbeing. “A lot of people say to us that the train listens to them. It hears their concerns and it makes them feel that they matter.” Sister Maggie, as she was fondly known, adds: “More than anything else, Phelophepa can teach us why we should never abandon hope.” n

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Travel

Paradise Peddling

Across

Zanzibar by Bicycle

Zanzibar. The name alone is pure genius, rolling off the tongue like a sultan’s declaration of war; instantly conjuring up images of hovering burnt orange suns, perspiring cocktails, endless tropical days, long sweaty nights, and exotic locals. And I had elected to experience all of this from the saddle of a bicycle. Text: Andrew Thompson Images: © Andrew Thompson & David Brodie

An old school mate and I arrived in Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital city, with a fairly simple plan: Walk the winding alleyways, scour the local markets and find the cheapest bicycles we could get our hands on. Barter to the point of exhaustion. Sling them on the back of a north-bound taxi, and then spend the next nine days cycling the main roads, back roads and beaches from Nungwi, at the very northern tip of the island, as far south as we could make it. By the time we had bundled our two solid steel, single gear bicycles off the back of the taxi and onto the sand outside our budget beach bungalow in Nungwi, the sun was already plotting its spectacular finale, and so we cared not that our pokey room smelt of damp and lacked a bathroom door. Instead, we dropped our bags on the creaky pine beds and floated towards the travel agent brochure outside which slowly came to life before us: An azure blue ocean sparkling invitingly in the thick afternoon humidity, speckled with a few dozen iconic East African fishing dhows, quietly going about their late afternoon business. This, I thought, is what everyone has been talking about. As it turned out, though, one night in the north would be enough. This despite the fact that the water here might be one of the few places on the island still swimmable at low tide; that the fresh marlin barbequed next to us on the beach the night before was superb, and that the party we had found and

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exhausted at 04h00 somewhere on the edge of the village was probably worthy of the next morning’s hangover! We set off late the next morning and discovered that sticky, midday, hung-over cycling is not to be taken lightly, and so, embarrassingly, we gave in to cocktails, lunch, dinner and ultimately two cheap comfortable beds at Kendwa, just a few kilometres away. Such is life on a tropical island. But we rose early the next morning, loaded up the bikes, and pointed their plastic baskets in a southerly direction, before cutting inland toward Mtemwe, on the east coast. We were determined to put some distance between us and the north. “Jambo!”, “Mambo!”, and the fantastic response to both of “Poa!” rang out from knee-high school kids giddy at the sight of two mzungus (foreigners) on local bicycles. Like miniature cheerleaders they egged us on, and the promise of a night in the luxurious Azanzi Beach Hotel pushed us through the rising mid-morning heat and over the occasional inland hill. Before we knew it, we had sliced a fifth off the top of the island, and were standing sweaty and dusty in the tranquil reception area of the air-conditioned, four-star haven. Tempting as it was to live the resort life for the next eight days, it took just a single evening of whispering honeymooners and a quick glimpse of the vast eastern coastline a few sandy steps from the resort swimming pool, to put pay to this


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temptation. We knew instantly that the only way to continue south was in the shallows of the Indian Ocean listlessly lapping up against the chalk-white sand. It was easier fantasised about than done, and the next day was to be the longest and hottest, as we did battle against the ebb and flow of unpredictable sand and rocky coastal outcrops. Occasionally, we would coast past fishermen waist-deep in the surf casting their nets, abandoned dhows, rustic straw beach umbrellas, deck chairs, hand-in-hand couples, and a half dozen beach boys harassing them. But mostly we were alone, wedged between palm trees and the turquoise ocean, weaving in and out of the waterline, with our destination – the small finger of Pingwe – taunting us in the distance. Sun burnt hands, tired legs and the eventual disappearance of rideable beach sand forced us back to the main road. When With a day to go we reached the southern tip of the island, we eventually pedalled up to the private villa awaiting us at and rode through to Kizimkazi, the dolphin capital of Zanzibar. Upendo, we had ridden just 40 km since leaving Mtemwe In all, we had only clocked around 100 km, but given a few that morning, but felt strangely satisfied with our achievement. more days and some more land, we would have gladly done Chefs at the on-site lounge and restaurant cooked up fresh a hundred more. calamari and prawns with true Zanzibari flavour, and after an The next morning we rose early to put our hosts’ promise hour floating in the cool evening breeze on the swinging beds of dolphin sightings to the test. We stood on the edge of the on the villa patio, it was time to lather the hands in lotion and resort’s finger-like pier as it jutted far into the coral-infused call it a night. ocean and sleepily watched the water, until, right on time, Our next few days would be spent in the island’s second they appeared. Two dozen dolphins frolicked and leapt biggest backpacking town of Paje, at the unpretentious just beyond the shallows and into the salmon pink morning but charming Teddy’s Place. Here we drank Tusker, Safari, sunlight, taunting us, until we quietly put down our cameras, Serengeti and Konyagi with mango juice with the local stripped down to our shorts and gently waded out to join them, barmen, fishermen, and some tourist-friendly Masai. We lazed in what is surely one the world’s most accessible paradises. n the afternoons away on the idyllic beach, and bobbed in a hand-crafted wooden dhow with a patchwork sail to snorkel the crystal clear waters, populated by a Places to Stay lifetime of brightly coloured fish and sea creatures. Azanzi Beach Hotel: 0861 010 200, www.azanzibeachhotel.com We slept in rustic beach bandas made from woven Upendo Villa: +255 777 244492, www.upendozanzibar.com palm leaves with beach sand floors, for only a Dolphin Bay Resort: +255 777 868 385, www.zanzibardolphinviewresort.com handful of US dollars a night, and for a moment Teddy’s Place: +255 776 110 850, www.teddys-place.com time stood still – as it tends to do in Zanzibar.

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Feature

Laugh

Yourself Well

“Laugh and the world laughs with you,” is a saying that is often whipped out when we are down in the dumps. While it may not necessarily make us feel better at the time, there is a lot of evidence to show that laughter may indeed be the best medicine. Text: Bob Truda Image: © iStockphoto.com

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Feature

Africa can be a mysterious place. But in 1962, something strange happened on the Dark Continent. Something so baffling that to this day it has never been explained. It all started in a girls’ boarding school in Tanzania. On 30th January 1962, three girls started to laugh. They giggled so hard that they thought they would never stop, and even their teachers’ lecturing could not get them off the floor and back to class. Much to the school’s dismay, the contagion spread faster than a Justin Bieber tweet, and on 18th March the mission run college had to close indefinitely, after 95 of its 159 students had been afflicted. Unfortunately, sending the girls to their various home towns only caused the contagion to spread further. By the end of the epidemic, 1,000 people had been affected and 14 schools closed. In general, symptoms lasted for a few hours to up to 16 days. Along with laughing fits, the victims reported pain, fainting, respiratory problems, rashes, attacks of crying and random screaming. It was only after 18 months and much speculation that the “laughter outbreak” was finally contained. As bizarre as it was, this brief spell in Tanganyika’s history is a perfect example of just how powerful and contagious laughter can be. So powerful, in fact, that Mark Twain referred to it as “the greatest weapon we have”, and lamented that “we, as humans, use it the least”. But that is not to say that we do not use it at all. Whole industries have been built around laughter and if stats are to be believed, the average adult laughs 17 times a day. Luckily for us, the Tanganyika episode was a rare exception, and laughing almost always has hugely positive benefits for us.

The Good Side of a Giggle In fact, US based Enda Junkins (AKA the Laughing Psychotherapist) has done significant research into the positive effects of a good chuckle. “If waves of laughter were sweeping the land,” she says, “waves of violence would not be possible, as laughter is warm, bonding, and contagious.” This is why she advocates that we should all laugh more. She is convinced that it helps us to feel good and safe. While we all know some pretty wet blankets, Junkins believes that human beings are not born serious. “We begin life fully equipped with an innate playfulness and the ability to laugh freely,” she says. “Sadly, we curb our playfulness and our laughter as a sacrifice to the serious business of adulthood.” Junkins proposes laughter therapy as a way to ease our adult seriousness and retrieve that lost sensation of play. “Laughter in therapy is not a paradox,” she explains. “The two belong together in the quest for healing. Nature equipped us to provide our own spoonful of laughter as a medicine for life. In fact, laughter and pain are so perfectly paired, that we often overlook the connection.” Junkins sees laughter as a form of release that can help us to deal with pain and stress. “When we laugh, we shift our perspective, and our problems shrink to a manageable size.

We don’t diminish the importance of our pain or problems, but we simply become less overwhelmed.” She admits that, traditionally, mental health practitioners have viewed laughter as a way of hiding painful emotion. “By contrast,” she explains, “cathartic psychotherapy believes that laughter releases emotion. Cathartic techniques allow clinicians to help clients to access their stored emotions and release them. The more catharsis the client experiences, the faster he or she moves through the healing process. Laughter, which is possibly the most powerful cathartic process and the least threatening in many respects, leads the way in easing controls on emotion and often opens the door to crying and deep anger.”

Tickle your own Funny Bone But how do you make yourself laugh in those moments when you just want to crawl into bed with a DVD and a tub of ice cream? According to Junkins, we do not need humour in order to laugh. “Adults can laugh without humour, just as infants can. Our spirits will so desperately crave relaxation, that when we are stressed, even the weakest stimuli will trigger the laughter response.” And while there are no rules, Junkins says: “Everyone’s pain is his own. If a client chooses to play with it, it’s not only okay, it’s healthy, and the result is laughter. A client who can laugh about pain is able to feel it and heal more quickly. The laughter also allows it to become manageable.” Junkins and her colleagues have made a career of inviting people to laugh, but even in our everyday lives we can all learn to use the power of laughter. The easiest way to lighten up is to smile more. Remember that a smile is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter, smiling is contagious. Just like we can laugh without hearing something funny, so too can we smile for no reason. You will be amazed at how quickly your mood will lift. Laughing at yourself is another great way to lighten your load. Share your embarrassing moments with others and you will see just how quickly you start to take yourself less seriously. And finally, next time you are in a sticky situation, instead of moaning, laugh it off. The people around you will appreciate it just as much as you will. If the laughing epidemic of 1962 is anything to go by, your laughter is contagious. So share the love and help everyone else to feel just as good as you do. n

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine Here are five reasons to laugh it off. Laughter: • Relaxes the whole body and relieves stress • Boosts the immune system • Triggers the release of endorphins • Protects the heart • Improves relationships To find out more about laughter therapy, visit www.laughtertherapy.com.

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Travel

An

Extreme Dream

Thrill Seeking in The Northern Cape

The Northern Cape Province is aiming to become South Africa’s preferred extreme adventure and sports destination. Text: Emily van Rijswijck/MediaClubSouthAfrica.com Images: © Maloof Money Cup, iStockphoto.com, Curventa & Siemens

This semi-arid region is home to breathtaking scenery and offers some of the best opportunities for abseiling, white water river rafting and deep cave diving in the country. With its vast expanses and perfect thermal conditions, it also offers great opportunities for paragliding and land speed record attempts. With a new land speed record attempt due to take place in 2012 at the 19 km-long Hakskeen Pan, located about 160 km north of Upington, the world is taking note of what the province has to offer. The Northern Cape Tourism Authority promotes the province as a preferred adventure destination, says Peter Mckuchane, the General Manager for Business Tourism. He says that the

A contestant shows off his skills at the Maloof Money Cup which was held in Kimberley in September 2011

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Northern Cape not only offers extreme sporting opportunities but is a destination of “extreme nature and extreme cultures” – aspects which add to the appeal of the province.

Maloof Money Cup In September 2011, the Northern Cape hosted the first international Maloof Money Cup (MMC), an annual skateboarding championship that will take place for the next three years in Kimberley, the provincial capital. It was the first time that this American event was hosted outside its home base, and it attracted the best current world skating champions to South Africa’s doorstep. By signing the contract with competition founders, the


Travel The Northern Cape is regarded as one of the country’s best paragliding locations – so much so, that the Paragliding World Cup took place here in March 2012

The Bloodhound SSC Show Car at the Bloodhound Technical Centre in the UK

Maloof family, the Northern Cape provincial government showed its commitment and formal endorsement of skateboarding as a sporting discipline in the province, Premier Hazel Jenkins said at the time. Kimberley now boasts one of the world’s best skating parks and plans to introduce the sport to other parts of the province. The MMC was broadcast internationally over three days and included a five-event skateboarding competition and skateboarding festival. Considered to be the world’s richest skateboarding championship, it has a total purse of R3.75 million (approximately $458,000). The event also turned out to be a money spinner for Kimberley, with hotels and restaurants overflowing with visitors. Extra workers were also hired to cope with the massive influx of fans from all over the world. Jenkins added that the event really galvanised the people of the Northern Cape. She is also excited about the possibilities, which the province’s new role as host of the latest land speed record attempt will bring to the area. “The opportunities it affords the province can act as a catalyst for the establishment of a science-orientated university in the Northern Cape and it offers tremendous tourism potential,” she said on welcoming the land speed record hopefuls, the Bloodhound SSC team from the UK.

Hoping For a New Land Speed Record The team, led by the current land speed record holder, Royal Air Force Pilot Wing Commander Andy Green, were in South Africa in November 2011 to promote the event. Green hopes to set a new record of 1,609 km/h (1,000 mi/h) at the

Hakskeen Pan in 2013. Green set the current record in October 1997 when he drove the Thrust SSC to a new world record of 1,227 km/h (763 mi/h). In the process, he broke the sound barrier and improved the previous record by 209 km/h (130 mi/h). Green’s latest attempt will take place at the Haksteen Pan, chosen over 34 others because of its near perfect conditions. Over 19 km long and 5 km wide, with a vertical variation of only 61 mm over the entire 2 km distance of the run, the pan’s surface is ideally hard and flat. The area also offers ideal weather conditions, factors which were confirmed by Green and his team during their South African visit. For the attempt to be successful, the car must complete two runs within the space of an hour, with the average times calculated as the new record. “The ability to control the car’s stopping, and therefore the turnaround time, is key to the success of the record attempt,” the official Bloodhound website notes. Bloodhound is about more than breaking records however. “Yes, we want to break the record, but we also want to create a global showcase for science and technology,” said Green. “The UK, Europe and South Africa have a critical shortage of engineers and scientists. We hope the project will inspire young people to join these fields.”

Employment Boost The speed attempt will also bring about much needed employment opportunities. Mckuchane says that the province has undertaken to prepare Hakskeen Pan for the world land

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The Northern Cape is also a popular white water rafting destination

speed record runs, with the first trials to start early in 2012. Additional job opportunities will be created running up to the event, with 315 unemployed locals tasked with clearing the track of stones and debris, critical for such a dangerous event as even the smallest of stones become bullet-like at these speeds. The clean-up project will be undertaken through the national Expanded Public Works Programme and will take about six months to complete. The event is expected to create more opportunities in tourism and extreme sports. “The Northern Cape government believes the record attempt has the potential to generate a lot of future interest. If the attempt is successful, it could turn the area into a tourist hub where similar events can be hosted in the future, as it will be the fastest track in the world,” says Mckuchane.

Thermal Heights and Cave Depths The Northern Cape also offers a host of other extreme activities. The province regularly plays host to international paragliding competitions, and the Paragliding World Cup took place in March 2012 in the Karoo town of De Aar. The area is considered to be one of the top paragliding sites in the country because of its hot desert conditions which create massive hot air bubbles, which provide the perfect lift for paragliders. De Aar itself is recognised as the home of crosscountry paragliding in South Africa, and is the venue where numerous international and national paragliding records have been set in recent years. Extreme cave diving is another favourite activity here and the Northern Cape offers some of the most dangerous – and exciting – dives on offer. Boesmansgat is a unique sinkhole on the farm Mount Carmel where many world records in cave diving have been set. The third deepest freshwater cave in the world, it was the scene of Nuno Gomes’s 1996 cave diving record of 282 metres.

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Unrivalled Natural Beauty The Northern Cape is South Africa’s biggest province. It consists of a dry land mass of 361,830 km², which offers a surprisingly wide range of natural treasures. There is the red sand veld and yellow grasses of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari; the wild shrubs of the Karoo Hantam with its clear, star-studded evenings and the floral splendour and big skies of Namaqualand, to name but a few. The area also has a rich archaeological and geological history. Names like Nossob, Okiep, Ais-Ais, Aoub and Gannaga ring strangely in the ear – reminders of a time when the only human inhabitants here were the indigenous San Bushmen, migratory hunter-gatherers who lived in simple harmony with nature. Later, European inhabitants moved into the area and added their own contributions: Kieliekrankie, Hotazel (Hot as Hell) Riemvasmaak, Mier (Ant) and Pofadder (Puff adder). These descriptive Dutch names often tell a visitor more than they may wish to know about a place. Today the area has a rich cultural diversity with Tswana, San, Nama and European people all calling it home. It is here that you will find South Africa’s largest river, the majestic Orange and the country’s biggest waterfall, the Augrabies. The Eye of Kuruman, a natural fountain which is reputedly the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere is also located in this province, as is the biggest hand dug mining excavation in the world, the 215 m deep Big Hole of Kimberley. The driest province in the country is also the most colourful when Namaqualand rolls out its massive carpet of spring flowers from late July until October, splashing the brown earth in a breathtaking and abundant display of oranges, purples, whites and yellows every year. n


Feature

Making Our Roads

Safe Again The Think Pedestrian Campaign

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Feature

A new campaign, driven by the UN and backed by local companies, has been launched with the aim of improving the safety situation on South Africa’s roads, by changing the behaviour of both pedestrian and vehicle road users. Text: Kgopi Mabotja/mediaclubsouthafrica.com Images: © iStockphoto.com

The Think Pedestrian campaign is expected to run for a decade, and hopes are high that it will curb the rising number of road deaths in South Africa, which have been attributed to negligence on the side of motorists as well as pedestrians. The initiative is driven globally by the UN. With the slogan ‘Together we can save millions of lives’ it is aimed at mobilising all nations to unite in promoting road safety. In South Africa, Think Pedestrian is endorsed by logistics company Eqstra and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, in support of Nelson Mandela Day. Central to its objectives is to stabilise and reduce road incidents by educating drivers and pedestrians about road

safety. The Think Pedestrian initiative will be piloted in the high-risk provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.

Light at the End of the Tunnel Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg recently, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said that road fatalities are on the increase, with pedestrians accounting for more than 40 % of deaths. It is estimated that there are 40 accidents a day on the country’s routes, and 14,000 a year. However, said Ndebele, South Africa is starting to see the

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light at the end of the tunnel. The number of road crashes over the Easter weekend, traditionally a dangerous time to be out and about, dropped to 181 from 215 in 2011. This is according to the Easter 2012 preliminary statistics released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). Ndebele commended motorists for applying caution and for driving in a sober state over the Easter weekend. “In this regard, we would like to compliment all road users who adhered to the rules of the road, as well as all our law enforcement officers and the emergency services personnel who went beyond the call of duty,” he said. While he expressed delight in the progress made, he warned that there is still a long route ahead in making the country’s roads safer. He urged road users to help the government to achieve its 2020 goal of reducing road fatalities by half. To support Think Pedestrian, the minister announced that more than 1,000 motorists and pedestrians will be screened every month for alcohol compliance, as laid out in the National Rolling Enforcement Plan. Ndebele urged community members to join road safety councils in their areas which have been initiated by the Department of Transport. “They aim to work with communities in inculcating a culture of responsibility with regard to the use of the road,” he explained. They are also tasked with identifying road safety hazards within their communities, and getting people interested in helping to resolve them. By so doing, the department hopes to instil a sense of community ownership.

Changing Road User Behaviour Eqstra MD Murray Price said the programme will consist of a range of road awareness campaigns designed to change road user behaviour for the better. “The problem is not

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about how good or bad drivers and pedestrians are; attitude is the problem. We have to educate our people about the importance of observing the rules of the road,” he said. “We can save lives by doing so.” According to Price, a task team will identify accident hotspots across the country’s roads as the campaign spreads to other provinces. “We will be guided by the Department of Transport in identifying these places. From there we can evaluate the root cause of the problem.” He said Eqstra, as a fleet management and logistics company, has a responsibility to contribute to the reduction of road death statistics. Part of the campaign will include installing road signage and speed bumps, and patching potholes in line with the respective needs in every area. A golf tournament will be launched soon to raise funds in order to sustain the campaign. “It will be played annually until the ten year period lapses,” he said. Adding to Price’s sentiments, the acting manager of RTMC, Collins Letsoalo, said road safety awareness campaigns run on an annual basis are already underway to support the Think Pedestrian campaign. One of the campaigns supported by the RTMC is Think Bike, an NGO run entirely by volunteers. Under the slogan ‘Raising awareness, saving lives’, it speaks for road users such as runners, walkers and bikers, and is aimed at encouraging motorists to be considerate and tolerant of two-wheeled road users. Dr Francis Kasolo, representing the UN, stated that South Africa is setting the pace in that it is launched the campaign a year earlier than many other participating countries. “That shows the commitment of the government to road safety,” he said. n


Chef

Climbing the

Culinary Ladder Grand Chef Peter Tempelhoff

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Chef

South African chef Peter Tempelhoff has had the honour of working with many well known international chefs during his career and now with a recent slew of awards, he is fast becoming one himself. Text: Lize de Kock Images: © The Greenhouse

Towards the end of last year, Peter was awarded Grand Chef status from Relais & Chateaux – an honour which he has been working towards for the past 15 years. “As a young chef I didn’t realise how much was involved, but I wanted to emulate the Grand Chef I was working with at the time, Franck Zlomke. I felt that South Africa could do with another Grand Chef,” he explains. It takes only one bite of the first course during a dinner at The Greenhouse (the flagship restaurant of “The Collection by Liz McGrath” which Peter oversees) to agree. Served in egg shells, the dish is a fun and playful experience and the warm sweet potato mousse with crayfish and leeks melts deliciously in the mouth. Peter points out that these are the type of unique creative touches that make all the difference: “It has to be an experience, not just a dinner. We want to make our food unique; do something that no one else is doing.” Peter Tempelhoff is South Africa’s third Grand Chef, and its first for Cape Town. The elite title involves a strict set of criteria, which includes spending a lot of time at Relais & Chateaux hotels and buying into the whole lifestyle and ethos of the brand. While we do not have the Michelin star rating in South Africa, achieving Grand Chef status also means having to adhere to Michelin one or two star standards, as well as having international appeal. “A couple of years ago we had an anonymous Michelin inspector at our restaurant who advised us to work on the style, the service and the food. Then, last year, we hosted 70 Grand Chefs in South Africa and managed to wow them. We focused on detail, added some fun elements and they were impressed. The whole process is like joining a prestigious club,” says Peter. While working towards the title, Peter spent his time studying the chefs he admires. “I spent seven years in England and decided to stay no longer than one-and-a-half years per restaurant. All the different kitchen scenarios and influences helped me to grow in different ways. Marco Pierre White from Quo Vadis in London taught me kitchen efficiency and how to make things run seamlessly behind the scenes. Aaron

Patterson from Hambleton Hall in the countryside taught me all about combining tastes and textures. This is what I believe defines me as a chef today.” The salmon trout mi cuit served with asparagus, corn, smoked potato, chorizo and sweet corn chowder is a case in point. Simple food, prepared well and masterfully combined has earned The Greenhouse at the Cellars Hohenort property in Cape Town another award. Besides Grand Chef status for the five restaurants that Peter oversees within “The Collection by Liz McGrath” for Relais & Chateaux, The Greenhouse also won the top spot as best restaurant in South Africa at the Eat Out Top Ten awards for 2011. “Aiming for perfection is the most important thing to me. It’s about managing the kitchen well and crafting the menu. Everything needs to be just right, otherwise there’s no point doing it. I still travel a lot to work with other chefs and learn from them in their own kitchens. This way I draw inspiration from New York to Tokyo,” explains Peter. Peter believes in sustainability and old fashioned food romance. It all started with churning ice cream as a child and picking apricots to make jam with his father. “I really like the old agrarian way; a lifestyle based around a central market. It’s where we feel natural as human beings. We build social bonds. I would very much like to see a fantastic fresh fish market in Cape Town.” This romantic notion of food is expressed clearly at The Greenhouse, both in terms of its gourmet delights combined with simple ingredients and its setting. The glass venue personifies the idea of a greenhouse, with bright early evening light spilling through the leaves of large trees and into the dining room, where tables are set with white tablecloths and fine white porcelain. At the end of an evening there is not one thing less than perfect to point out. From the smell of garden roses on entering the property, to the perceptive service and Vin de Constance pairing with smoked chocolate and peanut gateaux, it is all just… Delicious. n

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Off-Road

Adventures

4x4 Trails across South Africa

South Africa is a 4x4 enthusiast’s dream come true. The variety and sheer number of 4x4 trails in South Africa sees to that, as well as the fact that a significant portion of the country’s most spectacular scenery is only accessible with a four wheel drive vehicle. We look at some of our favourite South African destinations for putting your nerve and your 4x4 to the test. Text: Nicola Weir Images: © Land Rover Exp WP, Stoney Ridge, Serendipity Eco Trails, Hennops 4x4, Nicola Weir

Land Rover 4x4 Experience, Western Cape Land Rover has established a global network of centres designed to provide the ultimate driving experience in the world’s most capable all-terrain vehicles. The Land Rover Experience in the Western Cape provides off-road enthusiasts with practical training so that they can safely and confidently navigate their 4x4 vehicles over a variety of differing terrains and obstacles. Situated near Stellenbosch, at the Simonsig Wine Estate, Land Rover Experience is offering a unique 4x4 experience until 31st July 2012. The half day National Driver Skills Training Programme offers all 4x4 SUV drivers the opportunity to drive and evaluate Land Rover products under expert guidance in a non-pressurised environment. And best of all, the course is completely free. All customers who sign up for this special offer must have a valid drivers license, own a 4x4 SUV (2005 or later model) and bring their vehicle with them to the Land Rover Experience centre. The offer is based on two drivers sharing a vehicle. One additional passenger per driver is welcome for a fee of R150, to be paid on the day. Interested 4x4 SUV owners can book their free half day training course by calling +27 21 852 0728 or emailing estelle@landroverexpwp.co.za. Visit www.landroverexpwp.co.za for more information.

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Stoney Ridge 4x4 Academy, KwaZulu-Natal Stoney Ridge is situated in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and offers a diverse landscape of thornveld, mountains and open grasslands. This 6,000 acre property is a private game farm with a wide variety of game and bird life. The simple Rustic Bush Camp offers comfortable tented accommodation on raised wooden platforms, while delicious meals, hot showers and comfortable beds elevate Stoney Ridge beyond the normal ‘camping’ experience. Stoney Ridge is renowned for its 4x4 trails and offers off-road training to suit any need – from work to leisure or even a Trans-Africa trip. The 4x4 professionals at Stoney Ridge will safely equip you and your vehicle to tackle any terrain you may encounter with confidence. They offer specialised courses in advanced recovery, winching, navigation, towing, overland trip planning, adventure tours, night driving, competition preparation and extreme driving. Many 4x4 trails are available at Stoney Ridge, varying from Grades 1 to 5. All the trails offer adventurers a wide variety of natural terrain including steep slopes, rock steps, sand, mud, river crossings and dongas (steep-sided ditches) – all with varying degrees of difficulty. For more information, call +27 82 338 8809 or visit www.stoneyridge.co.za.

Serendipity Eco Trails, Limpopo Serendipity Eco Trails is situated on Tierkloof private game farm in the Limpopo Province, about 140 km from Pretoria. They specialise in 4x4 trails, quad trails, DS motorbike trails, enduro two wheeler trails and hiking trails, all set out over 1,200 hectares of mountainous bushveld. The trails stretch over an unusual combination of valleys, gorges, savannah grasslands and mountain streams. As well as beautiful natural sights such as crystal clear rock pools, indigenous forests, waterfalls, and panoramic views of the Waterberg, a large variety of game can also be spotted along the trails. Serendipity’s trails are designed to suit every taste and choice for off-road driving. The three hour 4x4 trail is family orientated but still poses excellent driving challenges with river crossings and steep rocky ascents and descents. The one hour trail will test both you and your vehicle, while the half hour trail, with its various obstacles, will get your adrenaline pumping. Prices vary from R250 per vehicle for day or weekend visitors but Serendipity can also cater for large group bookings and have several accommodation options on offer from villas to chalets. For more information, call +27 82 553 3266 or visit www.serendipitytrails.co.za.

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Mac Mac Forest Adventures, Mpumalanga The Mac Mac Summit Route is an ideal introduction to one of South Africa’s most scenic and historic regions, and includes some compellingly beautiful waterfalls. The route is definitely people and vehicle friendly. All too many 4x4 trails are either potentially damaging to lifestyle 4x4s, or daunting to newcomers to the 4x4 scene. But Mac Mac rates as one of the easiest around. The grading on the course is 1 to 2 because the focus is not on obstacles but rather on having fun and enjoying the stunning scenery. Groups usually depart from the Mac Mac Forest Retreat at 08h00 and meander through the stunning Mpumalanga escarpment, stopping at waterfalls, pine plantations and historical points of interest – participants can even try their hand at gold panning! The route ends at Pilgrims Rest where participants can enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants before heading back. Other routes are also available but are subject to forestry operations in the surrounding areas at the time of the trip. Mac Mac Forest Retreat offers affordable, self-catering accommodation in a beautiful setting. Camping facilities and quad bike adventures are also available. Rates and dates of trips can be obtained by calling Tranquility Central Reservations office on +27 82 968 4374 or by emailing bookings@tranquilitylodges.co.za.

Hennops 4x4 Trail, Gauteng Hennops has played a pioneering role in encouraging Gauteng city dwellers to get out there and have fun with their 4x4s. It has always been one of Gauteng’s most popular destinations, thanks to its picturesque setting in the Hartbeespoort Dam area and its rugged and rocky terrain in close proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria. Easy access from major centres makes it ideal for a quick refresher course or a familiarisation drive for new 4x4 owners. The Hennops off-road trail is a scenic obstacle course that offers something for everyone – from drivers who are just starting out to groups preparing for a more challenging expedition and even tired executives who need a time out. The 9 km trail features obstacles such as axle twisters, steep rocky ascents and challenging descents with water crossings and obstacles to test traction and wheel articulation. The option to skip the more difficult portion of the trail makes it ideal for owners of ‘soft-roaders’ designed more for flat roads than for bushveld complications. In order to cater for more experienced drivers, the trip back features a series of dongas followed by a deep, muddy river crossing. Although the trail can be completed in two to three hours, there is no time limit and most parties stay for the whole day, returning to the ditches and mud holes for more off-road fun. Many drivers also take the time to appreciate the game that can be spotted in the area and to relax at the picnic areas that are found along the route. For more information, call +27 82 566 5037 or visit www.hennops.co.za. n

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History

In the Tracks of a

Legend The History of The Blue Train

For over half a century, The Blue Train in South Africa has enjoyed an international reputation as one of the world’s pre-eminent travelling experiences. Officially named The Blue Train in 1946, the train’s predecessors trace their history to the 1890s and the discovery of diamonds and gold. Text & Images: © The Blue Train

For the empire builders of old, the unchartered African interior was the landscape of a dream in the making. A dream that would etch its course in parallel lines that snaked their way northward from the Atlantic shoreline, conquering the distance from Cape Town to Cairo. This dream was not to be, as the Great African Railway reached only as far as a bridge across the gorge of the Zambezi River, overlooking the thundering smoke of the Victoria Falls. But in the fading years of the 19th century, the discovery of gold and diamonds drew thousands to the edge of the continent, and those lines of tempered steel began to bear the burden of industry, commerce, and society on the move. Soon, as the moneyed classes made their presence felt, the network added leisure travel to its list of duties, and in the slipstream of leisure came luxury. The Union Limited and the Union Express, ferrying passengers between the mailships of Cape Town harbour and the goldfields of the Witwatersrand, were the standardbearers of steam-powered opulence in the easy-living heyday of the 1920s, boasting everything from card tables to hot and cold water on tap. A coat of royal blue and cream would later give the trains their distinctive livery, and it was from this line, in these shades, that The Blue Train – a “Palace on Wheels” – would ride the rails to legendary status. Withdrawn from service during the dark days of World War Two, extensively refurbished and modernised in the seventies and nineties, The Blue Train went on to define a new era of luxury travel, making the switch from steam to electric and diesel, linking veld to sea, and tradition to progress, with a sense of style, grace, and mesmerising power that have never come close to being matched.

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History

Keeping Up With Technology From the Age of Steam to the Age of the Internet, The Blue Train has kept on track with ever-changing technology. In the process, it has lost none of the charm that anchors it to a bygone era. In its earliest incarnation, as a direct descendant of the Union Limited and Union Express that plied their way between Johannesburg and the Cape coast, The Blue Train thundered down the rails at the command of a mighty steam locomotive. A wisp of romance still lingers from that coal-fired era, clouding the memory of an energy source that proved to be less powerful, less efficient, and far more difficult to maintain than its whisper-quiet replacement. Today, the dual Blue Train sets, differentiated only by their number of suites and the option of a Conference Car that doubles as an Observation Lounge, are hauled by a fleet of diesel or electric locomotives. Whatever the motive, The Blue Train glides through the countryside at a maximum service speed of 90 km/h, ensuring that the noise level of 55 decibels, somewhere between the sound of soft rainfall and normal conversation, is never exceeded. Inter-suite sealing ensures utter privacy for guests. In the world of ever-shrinking boundaries, ever-intensifying demands, rail travel in the grand old tradition has become a luxury in itself. The luxury of time: time to indulge, time to reflect, time to savour sights, sounds, senses and sensations. You’ll feel it from the moment you step into your suite, transformed by a magical act of alchemy from an elegant, spacious lounge by day, into a sanctuary of comfort and slumber by night. Bringing together cultures and travellers from across the globe, The Blue Train is an exclusive society on the move – one that will undoubtedly prevail for years to come. n

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Train Layout

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The Blue Train | June 2012  

On board Magazine for the Bluetrain.

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