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Mark Beaumont bikes the length of the continent

ON A WING AND A PRAYER Flying a 1930s biplane from Norway toCape Town


Meals on the go with Justin Bonello Also featuring Braam Malherbe and Barry Hilton

a team for life Power couple Ryan and Vanessa Sandes share their love of sport

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› OF ANIMALS AND ALOES – On safari in the Eastern Cape › PICTURE PERFECT – The life of a Nat Geo photo assistant › OFF THE COUCH – Conquering the treacherous Mt Manaslu › OUT OF THIS WORLD – Mozambique’s Quilalea Private Island › CONSERVATION ON THE EDGE – From UK to India in a Landy Defender

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One lucky reader and a partner will be jetting off to Zanzibar’s alluring Stone Town for a twonight stay, all worth

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fastjet is a low-cost pan-African airline operating from Tanzania and Zimbabwe—with daily flights from South Africa to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar as well as dozens of flights to popular destinations in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia and Kenya.


he airline also flies from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. This popular destination for South Africans seeking a once-in-alifetime challenge is just a 65-minute flight away on fastjet. Or why not fly from Kilimanjaro (or Dar es Salaam) to Entebbe in Uganda, to embark on an unforgettable mountain gorilla experience? Uganda is also home to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where you could spot the famous tree-climbing lions. Perhaps you have your heart set on travelling through Africa’s Great Lakes region. In that case, connect to Mwanza from Dar es Salaam. Mwanza boasts the dramatic Bismarck Rock, and is a convenient starting point for trips to the islands in Lake Victoria—with the worldrenowned Serengeti National Park a short two-and-a-half hours’ drive away. The Mbeya region of Tanzania offers access to popular tourist attractions such as the Ngozi crater lake, the Mbozi meteorite (the eighth-largest in the world) and the Natural Bridge at Kiwira (known by locals as Daraja la Mungu, “a bridge made by God”). Also in this area is the potentially active volcano Mount Rungwe, southern Tanzania’s second-highest peak. If it’s beautiful sandy beaches, 5-star luxury, winding streets and bustling


markets you’re after, Zanzibar’s alluring Stone Town is a must-see. Lose yourself among the minarets, carved doorways and 19th-century landmarks such as the House of Wonders—once a sultan’s palace. The newly opened Park Hyatt Zanzibar is the quintessential destination from which to experience the idyllic island and embrace the unique culture and heritage. Sitting majestically on the beachfront in the heart of Stone Town, the hotel provides the ultimate haven and easy access by foot to tourist attractions. There’s no doubt that Tanzania is a gem worth visiting, whether you’re after the rich culture and vibrant atmosphere of Dar es Salaam, or the myriad natural wonders to be found within easy reach of destinations such as Mwanza, Mbeya, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.

fastjet is offering one lucky reader and a partner the chance to experience Tanzania with a short break to Zanzibar, flying from OR Tambo International Airport. The airline has partnered with the Park Hyatt Zanzibar Hotel to offer flights, airport transfers and a two-night stay in a Park Deluxe King room with breakfast. The total value of this incredible prize is R25 000! To enter, send the answer to the question below, along with your name and contact details, to taryn@intrepidexplorer.co.za before 31 March 2016.

Question: How many times a day does fastjet fly to Zanzibar? Terms & conditions › Winners will be notified by telephone or email. › The prize is valid until 20 December 2016, but cannot be used between 21 March and 4 April 2016. › The prize is not redeemable for cash nor transferable. › Beverages and items of a personal nature are excluded. For full terms and conditions, visit fastjet.com.

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



01, 14

Andre Labuschaigne Cape Union Mart CEO


Dr Shrey Viranna Discovery Vitality CEO



No, I don’t know a guy named Jack in Kenya!

COMPETITIONS Win a trip to Zanzibar’s Stone Town with fastjet, worth RR25 000, or a safari getaway at Belmond Eagle Island Lodge in the Okavango, worth more than R100 000!

A TEAM FOR LIFE It was their love of sports and the outdoors that brought together power couple Ryan Sandes and Vanessa Haywood

16 44 CONSERVATION ON THE EDGE James McNamara and his friend Stu Clark journeyed from the UK to India in a Landy Defender, visiting eight conservation projects

32 OF ANIMALS AND ALOES Graham Howe goes on safari in Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape—the new frontier in the struggle to save the rhino

38 FROM CAPE TO CAPE What motivated intrepid pilot Johan Wiklund to fly a 1930s open-cockpit biplane from Norway to Cape Town?

26 OFF THE COUCH, ONTO THE MOUNTAINS Jeannette McGill rekindled her thirst for adventure and took on the treacherous Manaslu in the Himalayas


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



Alexander Braczkowski gives us a glimpse into his life as a National Geographic photo assistant



Armed with only a bicycle, some sparingly packed gear, and an unimaginable dose of nerve, Mark Beaumont became the fastest man to cycle the length of Africa







This summer, make a New Year’s resolution you can really keep—get fit with fun and adventure. Nick Dall shows you the way

Justin Bonello shares some recipes from his book Road Tripping, the latest addition to the Ultimate Braai Master collection

66 OUT OF THIS WORLD Editor Robbie Stammers thought he’d died and gone to heaven when he arrived at Quilalea Private Island in Mozambique



Wellness advice from Discovery Vitality




The Big 5—catch a sighting of the latest motor vehicles

Braam Malherbe learns new techniques in advanced field ranger training

86 LIFE THROUGH THE LENS Some of the masterful works by stylised wildlife photographer, Klaus Tiedge




News from the outdoors


SELAMTA! Sarah Kingdom discovers the modern and the ancient in enigmatic Ethiopia

Graham Howe goes for a walk on the ghoulish side of Dublin

104 THE LAST WORD We share a laugh with “my cousin”, comedian Barry Hilton


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



Greetings, outdoor



I trust you had a blessed and relaxing year-end holiday, spent with special family and friends. I wish you a prosperous 2016 ahead, and all the luck sticking to those New Year’s resolutions! South Africa must be the greatest country to revel in the summer season, with its pristine beaches, stretching coastlines, and beautiful mountains and trails—we’re so fortunate to have nature on our doorstep. Whenever international tourists tell me of the local sites they’ve visited, I feel ashamed that I haven’t even been to those yet, and I ask myself: Why spend so much money on holidays abroad when heaven is right here?  I encourage you to explore the great outdoors while the sun is still shining; grab a backpack and head to your local trail, or get the family together for a spot of camping. When in doubt, get out!  As with every year, winter creeps up on us—and before you know it, we’re wrapping up in thermal fleece, waterproof rain jackets and insulating down. But, hopefully, still exploring nature’s winter wonderland. 2016 is set to hold many adventures and new beginnings, and I wish you well as you and your family take on exciting new challenges. Cape Union Mart continues to grow and bring you more stores across the country and in southern Africa. And 2015 saw the arrival of Tread+Miller, a premium leather shoe and accessories chain, and the newest addition to the Cape Union Mart group family. This chain has grown to nine stores in only a few months. Watch this space as we continue to grow. Thank you, as always, for exploring with us!   Yours in adventure,

Andre Labuschaigne Chief Executive Officer Cape Union Mart


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13


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Explorer The Intrepid


Live the life of Adventure

Publishing Editor ROBBIE STAMMERS robbie@intrepidexplorer.co.za Art Director STACEY STORBECK NEL stacey@insightspublishing.co.za Chief Sub-Editor TANIA GRIFFIN tania@insightspublishing.co.za Advertising Sales Director KEITH HILL keith@intrepidexplorer.co.za Advertising Manager KYLE VILLET kyle@intrepidexplorer.co.za



new you!

t’s that time of year again when we think about how we can improve ourselves and set new goals. In 2016, I’m aiming to get my whole family healthier and spend more time active and outdoors with them, by doing parkruns and hiking together. If you’re looking for something to aim for, join us at the Discovery Duathlon Cape Town or the Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town, taking place on 23 and 24 April respectively. It will be an exciting way for families to enjoy the landscape of the Mother City—in the water, on a bike and on foot. Vitality is focusing on getting families healthy this year, so now our kids can join in the fun by signing up for Junior Team Vitality and earning points by running or cycling with the adults. As you’re powering your way toward your terrific new 2016 body, don’t forget to get started on Vitality Active Rewards to earn a free coffee or smoothie for reaching your fitness goal each week. In 10 weeks, we saw more than 100 000 members activating this exciting new benefit, and they are exercising 25% more because of it. To reward them, we’ve given away over 300 000 drinks to date! We’ve also made some changes to Vitality points this year, so you can more easily record all kinds of activities that fit into your lifestyle and your preferences. This year, get outdoors, get active and break down your boundaries. Make 2016 your year and track your progress, motivating you to regularly attain new personal records. And now, with a little incentive from Vitality, you can also help your family experience the joy of being fit and healthy! Yours in good health,

Dr Shrey Viranna Chief Executive Officer Discovery Vitality


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

Advertising Sales Executives PETER SAVAGE-REID, TYRONE BERLIN Office Manager TARYN KERSHAW taryn@insightspublishing.co.za Financial Manager SARAH BULUMA sarah@intrepidexplorer.co.za Social Media Platforms ZAID KRIEL/LITTLE EMPIRE Editorial Contributors Miriam Mannak, Ryan Scott, Graham Howe, Jennifer Stern, James McNamara, Justin Bonello, Alexander Braczkowski, Nick Dall, Sarah Kingdom, Braam Malherbe, Barry Hilton Photography Cover: Craig Kolesky Craig Kolesky, Scott Serfas (Red Bull Content Pool), Red Bull Media, sportograf, Ryan Sandes, Anja Aucamp, Ryan Scott, Samantha du Toit, Matt van Lill, Graham Howe, Alexander Braczkowski, Steve Winter, Bertie Gregory, Zach Mason, Klaus Tiedge, Bruce Viane Cape Union Mart www.capeunionmart.co.za Marketing Manager: Odile Hufkie Discovery Senior Brand Manager: Millicent Banda Divisional Manager – Commercial Discovery Vitality: Mateboho Malope Printer RSA Litho Distribution Cape Union Mart stores On The Dot Distribution Media Support Services


Managing Director: Robbie Stammers Physical address: 174A Main Road, Claremont, 7700, Cape Town Postal address: PO Box 23692, Claremont, 7735 Telephone: +27 (0) 21 683 0005 Websites: www.intrepidexplorer.co.za www.insightspublishing.co.za No article or any part of any article may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the publisher. The information provided and opinions expressed in this publication are provided in good faith, but do not necessarily represent the opinions of Cape Union Mart (PTY) Ltd, Insights Publishing or the editor. Neither this magazine, the publisher or Cape Union Mart can be held legally liable in any way for damages of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from any facts or information provided or omitted in these pages, or from any statements made or withheld by this publication.





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› Being the gear editor on numerous

platforms, you’d be surprised how woefully underprepared Ryan Scott is for so many of his adventures—from Patagonia to the Rockies, and every beer stop in between. He lives in Cape Town by choice, building tree houses and teepees (but avoids hippies). Ryan’s currently riding fat-wheel mountain bikes in the Alps. › Jennifer Stern aims to become one of

those 100-year-old bronzed wrinklies who swim on Fish Hoek Beach every morning. In the meantime, she wanders around with purpose: searching for the weird and wonderful, sometimes eating the weird and wonderful, sometimes having long conversations with the weird and wonderful (if they’re human, or at least sentient) and sometimes just gazing in astonishment—and then usually writing about it.

› Justin Bonello is a filmmaker, chef and TV

personality best known for starring in his own cooking and travel show, Cooked. He is also the host of the SABC3 reality competition, Ultimate Braai Master. As a presenter and producer of other international hit TV series Getaway To Africa and Exploring The Vine, he has combined his three favourite things—southern Africa, food and friends —into his daily work. As his own boss, Justin likes that he has no one to report to, but as the head of Cooked In Africa film production company, he says every day is scary. › Julia Roth is a student of English literature and

hospitality management at the University of Central Florida, but is currently exploring all that Cape Town has to offer. In her free time, she can be found sweating her way to the top of Table Mountain, jetting off to Tokyo, exploring farmers’ markets with her friends, and blogging about it all. After graduating university, she hopes to travel the world and return to her home away from home in South Africa.

› James McNamara is a conservation

biologist interested in understanding the complex relationships between people, wildlife and the environments they share. He works to achieve this through scientific research, film and photography. James’s work and personal travel has taken him to a variety of locations—from Papua to Sumatra, Ghana to the DRC, and more recently, London to Mumbai. › Sarah Kingdom is an Indian

Mountaineering Federation–recognised mountain guide. Born and brought up in Sydney, Australia, she climbed her first peak when she was 10 years old. Keen to keep up the ‘family tradition’ of climbing a notable peak at a young age with her own children, but now living in Africa, she took her eldest son up Mt Kilimanjaro when he was also 10. She regularly guides on Kilimanjaro, and has climbed and guided expeditions in Nepal, India, Tibet, Russia and Turkey. Sarah owns an 8 000-acre cattle ranch in Central Zambia, where she currently resides when she’s not climbing.

› Miriam Mannak is a journalist and

photographer​based in Cape Town. She ​ covers a range of​topics including travel and tourism in southern Africa and related issues such as the environment and sustainable social development. › Nick Dall is a freelance writer who

has lived and fished all over the world— postings include Italy, Argentina, Bolivia and Vietnam, but he’s back in Cape Town rediscovering the trout streams and dams of his youth. Nick’s young daughter and his mortgage also suggest he’s finally settled down. › Graham Howe is one of South Africa’s

most experienced lifestyle journalists; he has contributed hundreds of food, wine and travel features to South African and British publications for more than 25 years. When not exploring the Cape Winelands, this adventurous globetrotter reports on exotic destinations around the world as a travel correspondent, and for the weekly travel show on SAfm.

› Alexander Braczkowski is a

doctoral researcher at the University of Queensland, Australia. He has researched leopards in the Cape and Zululand, and filmed them in Zambia, India and Sri Lanka. After completing his master’s at the University of Oxford (on the sustainability of leopard hunting in Africa), he joined National Geographic magazine and television as an assistant to renowned photojournalist Steve Winter on a worldwide story on leopards. Alex is presently examining financial mechanisms for the conservation of large carnivores in Africa.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

› Braam Malherbe is an extreme adventurer,

conservationist, youth developer, motivational speaker, TV presenter and author of the best-seller, The Great Run. He has been involved in counter-poaching operations as an honorary ranger for SANParks, co-founded the Table Mountain National Park’s Volunteer Firefighting Unit, and is actively involved in numerous nongovernmental organisations and conservation groups. Braam has run the length of the Great Wall of China as well as the entire coastline of South Africa, and has taken part in an unassisted ski race to the South Pole.





y wife and I recently had the pleasure of hosting an American exchange student in our home for a week, and it reminded me of some of the hilarious misconceptions—and, in some cases, silly little concepts or beliefs—that foreigners have about South Africa. When I asked the young lady if Cape Town was just as she’d imagined, she coyly replied that she’d expected there to be wild animals roaming around everywhere. I was rather gobsmacked, as in this day and age—when every conceivable thing anyone would like to know is a mere mouse click away—it seemed crazy that such a perception still existed. I can understand, to a certain degree, why there’d been such complete ignorance when I first visited California at the ripe young age of 15 and was greeted by hosts of people asking me if we hunted for our own food. Or, seeing as I was from Africa, if I knew a guy named Jack in Kenya. And my favourite: “What do you mean you’re from Africa? You’re not black!” By the end of my trip, I was really milking it—showing them photos I had of an ellie at Kruger Park, saying it was my pet named Fido. No one even thought of questioning me, and people would look at me in complete awe. Such fun! So I thought I’d share a few other clangers that tourists have blurted out while visiting our shores: A tourist at a top African game lodge overlooking a waterhole, upon spotting a visibly aroused elephant, complained that the sight of this rampant beast was ruining his honeymoon by making him feel “inadequate”. An English lady stormed into the reception area of an Eastern Cape luxury lodge to complain there’d been a leopard with a kill


outside her window and the noise had kept her up all night. “No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled!” said someone in Plettenberg Bay. “There were crocodiles in my room!”—a guest at HluhluweImfolozi’s Mpila Camp, very concerned about the geckos inside her accommodation. “Can I please stay at another lodge? The lions roar too loudly and I cannot sleep here.”—American woman complaining to her booking agent during a trip to Namibia. And one of my personal favourites: “Can you please do something about the temperature of the ocean? It’s too cold!” exclaimed a disillusioned tourist in Cape Town. And no, sorry, we can’t do anything about it. So there you have it, proving ignorance truly is bliss. Please email me (robbie@intrepidexplorer.co.za) any others you might personally have come across so we can publish more of these! Enjoy this first edition of 2016 and please make sure to enter our two competitions: One for a trip to Zanzibar’s Stone Town, worth R25 000 from fastjet and Park Hyatt Hotels; the other for a safari getaway to Belmond Eagle Island Lodge in the Okavango, worth R100 000! Both are fantastic prizes. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and download the full digital version of this edition for FREE on Google and Apple platforms.

Until next time, keep living the life of adventure!

Robbie Stammers Publishing Editor

Congratulations to the winners of our last edition’s competitions! The BIG winner of the incredible trip for two to Imbali Safari Lodge in the Kruger, worth R25 000, is David Smith. Robert Hardy wins the book hamper that includes a personalised copy of African Icons (worth R3 000) by David Bristow and award-winning photographers Roger and Pat de la Harpe. Tamara Kriege wins the collector’s edition surfboard from WaveWorx, worth R10 000.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13


win big C OMPE T IT I O N

with Belmond Eagle Island Lodge and The Intrepid Explorer

One lucky reader will enjoy an incredible threenight safari getaway for two in the Okavango, worth a whopping

R100 000!

An original Botswana safari lodge, Belmond is perched on a private island encircled by some of the deepest stretches of the Okavango Delta—one of the world’s largest inland water systems and a Unesco World Heritage Site.


elmond Eagle Island Lodge has reopened as the ultimate Okavango Delta water- and experiencefocused safari lodge, unveiling a sleek new look after an almost total rebuild. The lodge is decorated to reflect an explorer’s base, with 12 spacious deluxe tented rooms that have a large outdoor deck with a magnificent vista, a private plunge pool, as well as a relaxation and reading nook, among other attractions. Guests can while away their time in the stylish dining area, the lounge area with artisan-style bar, the library, or the Fish Eagle Bar located directly on the water. Or partake in any of the water-focused activities such as motorboat safaris, barge cruises, mokoro (traditional canoe) safaris, fishing, walking safaris or the ultimate air safari experience by helicopter—a highlight of any stay! There is an abundance of bird and aquatic wildlife around the lodge,

complemented by larger mammals such as elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and the ever elusive big cats that have made this island their home. The prize of a three-night safari at the newly rebuilt Belmond Eagle Island Lodge in Botswana, is worth $6 800 (around R107 000) and includes: › Three nights’ accommodation for two people in a deluxe tented room; › Full board including breakfast, lunch and dinner and a morning/afternoon tea; › All drinks (excl. imported and VSOP brands); › All daily safari activities (which vary, depending on water levels) including a mokoro safari, barge cruise, motorboat safari on the delta, and a walking safari; › Game drives (depending on water levels around the island); › Fireside stories with specialist guides around the firepit; and

› Sundowner drinks and snacks at the Fish Eagle Bar, the most romantic bar in Africa. For further details, see www.belmondsafaris. com and enquire about their special rates for the SADC market. To stand a chance of winning this fabulous getaway, send the answer to the question below, with your name and contact details, to taryn@insightspublishing.co.za before 31 March 2016.

Question: What is the inspiration for the décor of the lodge? Terms & conditions › Winners will be notified via telephone or email. › The prize is valid for travel between 1 April and 30 June 2016, and between 15 October and 23 December 2016, subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. › The prize is not redeemable for cash nor is it transferable. › Flights and transport to the lodge are not included in this prize.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13


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team A

FOR LIFE Miriam Mannak chats to husband and wife, Ryan Sandes and Vanessa Haywood, whose love of sports and the outdoors brought them together

He a trail runner and she an avid mountain biker, the couple have been travelling the world together and supporting each other through thick and thin. And it all began at a race in Knysna‌


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



t’s one of the top events on the South African outdoors sports calendar: the Big5 Sport Challenge. As one of the highlights of the Knysna Oyster Festival, the race combines open-water swimming, mountain biking, trail running, road running and XTerra. For athlete and former actress Vanessa Haywood, who starred in District 9 seven years ago, the 2010 edition of the Big5 was her first real serious competition. “While I’ve always been sporty, especially at school, I had never really competed prior that—well, apart from a couple of smaller races,” she says. “Besides raising funds for the Starfish Foundation, I wanted to meet new like-minded people. I had just moved back from London. It was a mutual friend who introduced us.” For Ryan, who had completed dozens of endurance races since 2008, the Knysna Featherbed Trail Run was his umpteenth event. (He didn’t do the Big5, just the trail run.) “I did the morning and evening trail races on my own, and ran the afternoon one with Vanessa,” he says. “We spent the entire week together—and that was that!” When speaking to the couple, who tied the knot in 2014, it’s clear their relationship is more than the average bond between


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

husband and wife. Vanessa, for instance, is Ryan’s manager: a role she fulfils through their company, Peak Sport Management. Becoming his manager was a logical decision, Ryan says. “It’s something that grew naturally,” he says. “Not everyone understands what I’m going through. Vanessa is one of the few people who does. She has assisted me in the past, basically since we got together.” Vanessa concurs. “He’s always included me in his work and travel schedule as much as he can, even before I became his manager. I’ve always been helping him,” she says, confessing that managing her husband is sometimes hard work. “When I manage or crew him on race day, I need to know the course—including driving distances and map routes. I have to be at all checkpoints on time to rehydrate Ryan, feed him and see if he’s okay. Sometimes we bash heads, but mostly we work together quite well. We’re a good partnership.” This particular setup makes for a rather unconventional union, Vanessa says. “We don’t have a normal relationship. For instance, we can’t go away for weekends, because Ryan has a very strict set training schedule,” she explains. “On weekends, when his friends are having braais and

going surfing, Ryan is running. When he comes home from a training run, the last thing he wants is a beer and having to socialise. He just wants to lie on the couch and meditate. The dedication is mindblowing. What he gives up is monumental. I would never, ever be able to have that kind of dedication and motivation, and give up as much as he does.” Over the past eight to nine years, Ryan has racked up record after record, many of

PREVIOUS SPREAD: Spending time together on the mountains Phot Craig Kolesky THIS PAGE: Taking on the peaks in Whistler, Canada Photo: Red Bull Media OPPOSITE PAGE: Vanessa competing in the Absa Cape Epic Photo: sportograf




It’s clear their relationship is more than the average bond between husband and wife. Vanessa, for instance, is Ryan’s manager: a role she fulfils through their company, Peak Sport Management.

which he still holds—including the Fish River Canyon Trail in 2012 (65km, 6h57min) and the 2014 Drakensberg Grand Traverse (209km, 41h49min). While he makes these achievements look easy as pie, his successes sometimes come at a hefty price. In December 2014, he was diagnosed with glandular fever, a direct result of burnout. “I did too many long races, including the Ultra-Trail World Tour and various others. Being burnt out resulted in a weak immune system. Many ultra trail runners suffer from overtraining syndrome, and pick up glandular fever as a result,” he says, referring to the infectious viral condition known as Pfeiffer’s disease. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, body aches and swollen glands, which can last for several months. “Some athletes don’t


fully recover, and disappear from the scene. That’s why, this year, I intend to be more selective in my racing.” One of the events Ryan doesn’t want to miss for the world, however, is the 2016 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) in France. Encompassing 170km and 10 000m of positive altitude change, this race has a cut-off time of 47 hours and is rated as one of the toughest endurance events in the world. “I dropped out of the UTMB last year, because I hadn’t fully recovered from glandular fever. After 40km, my legs seized up,” he recalls. “After that I took a real break. I really only started training in December last year. My main objective for 2016 is to go back to France and finish the UTMB. I’m ready for that.” Besides various races, Ryan intends

One of the highlights for this year, apart from the Ultra-Trail de Mont-Blanc, is the launch of Ryan’s book, Trailblazer, on 10 March in Cape Town. “It’s my autobiography, which I wrote together with Steve Smith,” he says. “Pretoria and Durban will follow on 16 and 17 March respectively.”

to pioneer a trail route in the Rwenzori Mountains. Referred to as the Mountains of the Moon, this landmark on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to Africa’s thirdhighest peak (Mount Margherita, 5 109m) and is famous for its fragile ecosystem and snow-capped mountains. ”The glaciers there are melting so fast,” he says. “I want to see them before they’re gone, which could be as early as 2020.” Last but not least, besides running existing trails and scoping out new running routes, Ryan wants to focus on raising awareness around various environmental issues such as climate change, deforestation, melting glaciers and rising seawater temperatures. This is a direct result of his career. “I’ve been

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13








Over the past eight years, Ryan has participated in—and won—endurance event after endurance event. One of these stands out: the 2008 Gobi March (250km, 6 days), his very first multistage endurance competition. “I worked as a quantity surveyor at the time, and wanted to do something crazy,” he says. “After Googling, I decided to enter the 4 Deserts Series, which also comprises the Sahara Race in Egypt, the Atacama Crossing in Chile, and The Last Desert in Antarctica. All events span 250km, and are run over six to seven days. “Prior to the 4 Deserts Series, I’d only done local races such as the Knysna Marathon and a couple of 35km trail races. I did train hard for it, and I was prepared. I didn’t expect to win the Gobi March, though.” The Gobi March race remains one of his career highlights, mainly because of the nature and location of the race. “We met up at Kashgar on the Silk Trail, from where we were bussed into the desert. On the first day, I went for a run in town for 8km. I remember it being quite militarised and it was not uncommon to see tanks driving around,” Ryan recalls. “The race itself was pretty surreal too. You had to carry everything on your back, including your food, clothes and other gear such as sleeping bags. The only thing we were given were rations of water at the checkpoints, and tents. En route, we passed small villages in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think the kids living there had ever seen Westerners.”





The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



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HIS… 1982: Born in Hout Bay, Cape Town. 1989: Started Grade 1 at South African College Junior School (SACS). 2000: First Team SACS rugby tour to Australia and New Zealand. Matriculated. 2001: Gap year to Aspen, Colorado to do a ski season. 2006: Ran his first marathon, the Knysna Marathon. Graduated from UCT with BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying. 2007: First giant cobra spotting on Table Mountain—started running much faster from that day onward. 2008: Won the 4 Deserts Gobi Desert race—250km self-supported over six stages. 2009: Quit his desk job as a quantity surveyor for Faircape Property Developers to become a full-time athlete. 2010: Won the 4 Deserts series (Atacama, Gobi, Sahara and Antarctica). Met his amazing wife! 2011: Won the Leadville Trail 100 Run—his first 100-mile (160km) trail race. 2012: Ran the Fish River Canyon in record time. 2013: Won an ultra-distance trail race on all seven continents. Proposed to Vanessa. 2014: Set the fastest known time for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse with Ryno Griesel. Came second on the newly formed Ultra-Trail World Tour. Capped it all off by getting married.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

travelling and racing around the world since 2008, and this has taught me more about how the world works than books ever could,” he says. “I’ve seen with my own eyes how we, humans, are messing up the planet. This has been a massive eye-opener.” One of the races that stand out in that regard is last year’s RacingThePlanet, a multi-day stage endurance event in Madagascar. “When we flew from the capital of Antananarivo to Antsiranana in the north, we saw how massive stretches of inland jungle had been burnt for cattle and agriculture,” Ryan recalls. “People in Madagascar eat everything. We even saw people selling chameleons on skewers. The country’s frog population has been decimated as a result of deforestation. This race was a true eye-opener, particularly because the coastal trails were so incredibly beautiful.”

LEFT: In Whistler, Canada Photo: Red Bull Media RIGHT: Vanessa competing in Wines2Whales BELOW: The couple running in Hout Bay Photo: Craig Kolesky

…AND HERS 1978: Born in Johannesburg, on 7 February; grew up on a farm in Mpumalanga. 1982: Appeared in her first theatre production, at the age of 4. 2000: Miss South Africa finalist (among many other beauty queen titles in her teens). 2005: Started competing in fitness competitions nationwide, and was placed fourth in the internationally acclaimed Miss Fitness. 2006: Played a part in Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. 2009: Played Tania van der Merwe, lead female role in District 9. 2010: Ambassador for JAG Sports and Education Foundation, which uses sport as a medium to encourage disadvantaged children to live healthier lives and reach their potential. 2011: Contestant on Survivor South Africa: Maldives. 2012: Became a semi-professional mountain biker. (She’s since completed various races including four Cape Argus, three Wines2Whales, two Absa Cape Epics and the Leadville 100 in Colorado.) 2015: Put her acting career on ice to focus on Peak Sport Management (a niche public relations, marketing communications, brand and project management company) as well as managing Ryan and representing various sports brands. Studied digital marketing through the renowned Red & Yellow School in Cape Town. 2016: New Year’s resolutions: Always be on time. Never rush. Breathe. Don’t take anything too seriously. Always speak with kindness.


Photography’s Best Traveling Companion

I‘ve travelled to four different countries since making the switch to the Fuji system, and the experience has been pretty amazing. Travelling with the large , heavy DSLR camera I used before, the Fuji camera is light to use all day without feeling any discomfort. I was in Iceland October last year, the temperatures there were consistently around -1°, and most of the trip involved rain and snow. Iceland is known for having what feels like all four seasons in a single day, and it really was like that. I’d be shooting time lapses in the pouring rain, and within 10 minutes, the skies would open up. The thing that stood out for me on this trip was how the X-T1 just kept going no matter what I put it through. I frequently shot in rain, snow, and heavy wind. I also bumped and dropped the camera many times while hiking to places we wanted to shoot, and the camera never stopped working, it just started gaining more character. I also found the image quality to be almost unbelievable. The Dynamic Range that the Fuji creates is often enough for me to shoot a single frame instead of 3 or 5 in areas that I would normally have bracketed my shots. This is amazing for speeding up my editing work flow. Overall - I love travelling with the X-T1. It’s small, it’s light, it’s cheap, and it produces images that are absolutely breathtaking. Ett Venter is a portrait photographer based in Pretoria, South Africa. He’s also an instructor and speaker at various conferences, expos, and workshops. He’s got a large studio in Hatfield Pretoria that he works out of. www.ettventer.com


Instagram: @EttVenter




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The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




Jeannette McGill rekindled her thirst for adventure and took on the treacherous Manaslu in the Himalayas, writes Ryan Scott

MOUNTAINS I first met McGill at the start of a 12-kilometre hike. A seemingly innocuous distance in an ordinary context, but when taking into account that the end point of the relatively short hike would result in our reaching one of the few ice-waterfall climbing opportunities in South Africa, one can imagine the gradient covered would be pretty intense—and it was. www.intrepidexplorer.co.za

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




cGill was not the only one who struggled to haul her hefty pack up the Giant’s Castle ascent. When she later explained this was part of a plan she’d set in motion to get her conditioned to take on some of the highest peaks on the planet, I remember thinking there’d be a lot of work to be done. Two years later, she was crunching snow and ice under her crampons on the treacherous ascent of Manaslu—an 8 156m high mountain in Nepal. It’s the eighth-highest peak in the world, and she was the first South African woman ever to take on the challenge. To get above 8 000m was the big goal; although Manaslu was not the first choice, when the authorities closed Tibet to Westerners, those with aspirations to summit peaks like Cho Oyu and Shishapangma had to make alternative


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

plans. McGill chose Manaslu, which was by no means a compromise and still afforded her the opportunity to attain the goals for which she had worked so hard: to climb to the height that Boeings fly on their intercontinental journeys, to go over 8 000m, and to emphatically end the relationship with her couch that had claimed so much of her time in 2013. Having grown up in a hiking family and becoming a member of the Mountain Club of South Africa at 11 years old, Jeannette always had mountaineering aspirations. Work was also a high priority, though; without even noticing it, in an intense time of life—due to a huge workload and a wane in her dedication and enjoyment of a physical, healthy lifestyle—she sunk from the impressive heights of Colorado state squash champion, into the depressions of her sofa. Her 100kg mass was the heaviest she’d ever been, and physical activity had all but stopped.

Thankfully, after six months of languishing in despair, her spirit of adventure was rekindled—and when McGill made the decision to climb Kilimanjaro for a second time, the momentum had shifted. “On that successful Kili trip, I again found the spirit of a person who had once spent so much of her childhood in the mountains, progressively improving and taking on greater and greater challenges: from hours on end in the

PREVIOUS PAGE, LEFT: McGill heading up the Manaslu glacier to Camp 1 (5 700m) PREVIOUS PAGE, RIGHT: Enjoying the Himalayan views THIS PAGE: The village of Samagaon in the upper Budhi Gandaki River Valley, where the trek to Manaslu begins OPPOSITE: The technical crux is the steep and dangerous climb between C1 and C2



mountains of the Eastern Cape, to leading in the Drakensberg, to overseas expeditions in Bolivia, Chile and Peru, and eventually my first visit to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak in Nepal,” she recalls with a true love for the challenge of the outdoors. “As part of my new-found insatiable appetite for mountains, I continued with hikes in the Drakensberg [including the ice-waterfall experience we shared in 2014], complemented by a trip to the North Col of Everest, Mount Damavand in Iran, and back to Peru—bringing me naturally to the cusp of a trip I’ve lived my whole life for: a significant expedition to Nepal to climb an 8 000m mountain. “The strange thing is, I don’t need this the way I needed to get certificates, degrees, medals or tick boxes. Previously, I had goals because I needed to feel worthy or to hide behind my accomplishments. Now it’s a lot simpler, with less ego attached. Some girls want new shoes. I want to get up Manaslu,” McGill adds. The ever popular peaks of Tibet hog the attention of the northern hemisphere autumn season of climbing, but with the denial of access to Westerners in 2015, the


Previously, I had goals because I needed to feel worthy or to hide behind my accomplishments. Now it’s a lot simpler, with less ego attached. Some girls want new shoes. I want to get up Manaslu. shift was to the less assuming Manaslu; some would underestimate it at their peril. Expedition operators had made the transfer to Manaslu to make sure they didn’t miss out on the business from those who’d already booked with them for the season’s climbing. Customers were assured of the feasibility of the peak—notwithstanding the 67 deaths and only 672 summits. Earthquakes in 2015 had reinstalled fears of a repeat of the 2012 avalanche that had claimed 12 lives in a single incident. The icy,

technical aspects to parts of the climb and unpredictable weather, potential overcrowding (106 climbers registered to summit in 2015), politicking about contributing toward the fixing of ropes and ladders, and generally accommodating each other on the limited space in the camps leading up to the summit meant those on the mountain were tense and patience would be tested. McGill comes from an analytical job, with a PhD in Mining Engineering,

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



ABOVE: A fellow teammate on one of the vertical ice walls between C1 and C2 LEFT: Carina from Sweden and McGill enjoying a rehydrated dinner at 7 000m

Economic Geology and Mineral Economics. She currently heads technology and innovation at Anglo American Platinum, is president of the Geological Society of South Africa, and a non-executive board member of the Council for Geoscience. As one would imagine, this adventurer had ensured she had all the correct equipment, a reputable operator in the form of Altitude Junkies based in New York, and had prepared for two years to hone her skills and build her confidence. After making it onto the slopes, and with the summit looming larger than she’d imagined, the reality hit: “No more reading about bygone expeditions, no more Internet surfing and daydreaming. I’m going to summit Manaslu—the stunning, eighthhighest mountain in the world. I’m at last doing a full-scale mountain expedition in the true remote Himalayas. Just like the stories I started out reading.” The first leg saw McGill and her team


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

helicopter into the gateway village of Samagaon. This flight saves a four- to five-day trek into the valley, and then the serious stuff starts. The altitude of 8 000m necessitates the body to acclimatise to reduced oxygen pressure. The expedition would go up each day, pushing a little higher on each rotation and returning to base camp to rest and allow red blood cells to do their thing. When the weather gurus forecast a good weather window on the summit, it’d be time to go all the way to the summit. But above 6 200m, the body struggles to maintain health; it basically starts metabolising itself for energy. Waiting out the weather at base camp can be a challenge. McGill was fortunate to be able to stay in touch with family and friends back home in South Africa—despite having no cellphone signal on the mountain—with the SPOT Gen3 satellite messenger. Her Facebook wall was filled with ping-type, pre-trip customised “I’m ok!” updates, which she could activate from the device on a daily basis. In addition, it has an S.O.S and assistance button that sends an alert to an international emergency

centre—imperative in nasty conditions. And the bad weather did come in. While resting at the remote Camp 3, the ominous news of snowfalls on the higher slopes reached her group via a crackling radio soundtrack. With a tricky crevasse ahead, and fresh snow sitting precariously on the tighter packed slabs, the ever increasing chance of a dreaded avalanche was all too real. In the end, McGill respected, without regret, the decision by Altitude Junkies to abandon the attempt on the summit. She met others on the mountain who were not as fortunate to make it home safely. Death is all too real when taking on this challenge, and although some stayed and made the summit, a man died and others needed rescuing. The goal of summiting an 8 000m mountain wasn’t attained this time, but the consolation was the whole experience that strengthened McGill’s resolve to relish the next opportunity: to once more face this momentous task, to take her as far away from the lazy couch as possible, and to keep reminding her adult self of the fantastic stories that her 11-year-old adventurer spirit created those many years ago.




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OF ANIMALS AND ALOES Graham Howe goes on safari in Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape—the new frontier in the struggle to save the rhino


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



Three white wooden crosses stand high on a krans at a place called God’s Window, overlooking the Bushman’s River Valley. Coming closer, we read the names of three rhino slaughtered by poachers in the Amakhala Game Reserve five years ago. Moved to tears, we mourn the cruel and pointless death of Chippy, Geza and Isipho. In the wild, they could have lived up to 50 years old and produced many calves.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




tanding in this peaceful place, we spot rhino placidly grazing in the veldt on the plains far below us; as well as a mother and calf lying down, still asleep in the early dawn, blissfully unaware of the uncertain future they face as a species. Witnessing rhino in the wild is a bittersweet epiphany, even more so in this tranquil sanctuary on the frontier where these prehistoric creatures have browsed peacefully for millennia—and now are critically endangered. Time is running out for these docile herbivorous giants whose lumbering immensity offers no protection to the firepower of poachers. The simple shrine is a moving tribute to the tragic fate of the African rhinoceros. The crosses also record the annual death toll that climbs higher each year in the war waged on rhino by poachers in the illegal horn trade. At present, one rhino is poached every seven hours in South Africa as an endangered species inexorably declines toward the point of no return. Criminal poaching syndicates now slaughter more rhino than the number of calves being born. The tipping point might have been reached. In a struggle for survival, over 5 000 rhino have been killed by poachers in South Africa since 2008—escalating inexorably from 333 rhinos in 2010 to 1 215 in 2014, and an estimated 1 200 in 2015. An estimated 4 900 black rhino now survive in the wild here, and 20 400 white rhino bred back from the point of


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

extinction in the 1960s. Kruger National Park has the greatest concentration of these beasts, making it the epicentre of a rhino war (680 were poached here in 2014) that has spread all over the country. The ranger says 18 free-range rhino have been poached in the Eastern Cape alone in 2015. Brent and Chantelle Cook, owners of the HillsNek Safari Camp, founded the Chipembere (meaning ‘rhino’ in Shona) Foundation to save the rhino after two white rhino bulls were poached in the Amakhala Game Reserve. Today, a dedicated anti-poaching unit tracks the collared rhino 24/7 on the 8 000-hectare reserve, while guests sponsor their work by contributing to a special conservation fund. (Every contributor leaves with a soft-toy rhino as a memento and to spread the word.) Getting close-up down on the plains, we see tiny oxpeckers hitch a ride on the rhino and pick ticks from their ears and hides. Watching these poor-sighted animals saunter past our Land Rover, their innocence and vulnerability make the crimes against them seem even more hideous. In a curious paradox, their magnificent horns have become a curse, as the dead horn tissue is in high demand as a quack medicine in China and to boost male sexual potency in Vietnam, the world’s major user of powdered rhino horn. Keratin is as effective as snorting gnarly old toenails—but per gram, where superstition prevails and money rules, rhino horn is many times more valuable than cocaine, diamonds or gold, and the price rises with increasing scarcity.

Watching the animals pass by from the safety of our vehicle, I wonder how many times I will see rhino in the wild in my lifetime. Decades ago, I recall the thrill of tracking rhino on foot in Imfolozi Game Reserve. As a game warden for the Natal Parks Board, the late Dr Ian Player—a world-

PREVIOUS PAGE, LEFT: A white rhino cow and calf graze on the plains of the Bushman’s River Valley PREVIOUS PAGE, RIGHT: The crosses are a shrine to the rhinos poached at Amakhala, and the annual national death toll in the illegal horn trade THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: A male elephant in musk at Amakhala; HillsNek Game Lodge on the banks of the Bushman’s River; Tracking collared rhinos on the move OPPOSITE, TOP LEFT: Black-backed jackal taking a sundowner near Bush Lodge in Reed Valley OPPOSITE, TOP RIGHT: A Noah’s Ark of plains antelope and zebra at Amakhala, Place of Aloes



Watching the animals pass by from the safety of our vehicle, I wonder how many times I will see rhino in the wild in my lifetime… Will these legendary beasts be only a memory to future generations? renowned South African conservationist— launched a successful campaign in the 1950s and 1960s to save the sole surviving herd of white rhino in the world, reduced by poachers to a population of 437. Through Operation Rhino, he initiated the relocation of rhino to national parks throughout the country, the United States and Europe. Asked to imagine a world without rhino, he declared, “over my dead body”. How history repeats itself. Over 50 years later, rhino are again under threat from poachers. In the late 1990s, I went on assignment to Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, where Player had proposed pairing an overly protective sheep to mother a young rhino calf orphaned by poachers. The rhino was habituated to hand-feeding, and loved being scratched like a dog under its plate of armour at a tender point above its tail. Watching the unlikely pair walk off into the


sunset was a moment of pure magic. Will these legendary beasts be only a memory to future generations? Nostalgic photographs of the poached rhino bulls hang on the walls of the HillsNek lodge where we are staying. This traditional family-owned safari camp has four meru-style tents set on wooden decks overlooking the floodplains of the Bushman’s River. Getting there is half the fun, fording a rushing causeway of a tributary by Landy, driving past impala, elephants, wildebeest and Cape buffalo grazing in the veldt. Long wooden boardwalks lead to our tents on the hillside dotted with the red flowering shrub that gives Amakhala its delightful name: Place of Aloes. Visiting in spring 2015, we spot a troop of cheeky vervet monkeys snacking on the sweet blossoms of the wildflowers of the Eastern Cape: tritonia, vygies and oxalis. After an exotic dinner of Zanzibar fish curry

prepared by chef Maggie in the thatched boma, we fall asleep listening to the plaintive howl of jackal and a lone elephant trumpeting in the distance. I have disturbed primordial dreams of falling into space like a monkey from a tree. Here we are close to our origins and instincts. Set in a sea of white acacia thorn trees and giant aloes, the landscape of Amakhala feels prehistoric. In the 1850s, Andrew Geddes Bain and William Atherstone made a major fossil find in the Bushman’s River Valley of a giant iguanodon (a herbivorous Jurassic dinosaur with the teeth and tongue of an iguana) and stegosaurus (a gigantic tailed amphibian dinosaur with bony plates of heavy body armour). The site of the stegosaur remains as well as the graves of the San who wandered these plains for tens of thousands of years are marked on my map of Amakhala Game Reserve. In 1871, Atherstone wrote in the Cape Monthly Magazine (the most popular and famous of the Cape Colony journals from the 1800s): “Crossing the Komga, now we pass Dassiesklip where the rocks change entirely; there to the left lies Iguanadon-hoek where Bain and I years ago exhumed huge bones of some extinct Saurians, one from the jaw, and serrated teeth—I fancy some huge Iguanodon.” We are fortunate to have Justin Barlow, the highly experienced head ranger at Amakhala and HillsNek Safari Camp, as our guide. On daily game drives, we spot the big plains game—wildebeest, waterbuck (“the one with the white toilet seat on its bottom”), zebra, eland, impala, gemsbok, kudu, sable antelope and giraffe—grazing on the white acacia thorn bush in the habitat known as Albany thicket. When on safari, game spotting is a competitive sport. Whatever wildlife I point out usually turns out to be a cunningly shaped termite mound or tree. “Those must be the 8 o’clock gnus,” I quip, pointing out a herd of wildebeest to our left. Justin explains that white-tailed gnus were once poached by sangomas who used the tails to cast spells and exorcise demons, but were recently delisted as an endangered species as numbers recovered. At sunset we come across a pride of lion headed by a male with a magnificent Rasta mane, lying panting in the long

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



Fauna in the flora: A ‘gerry’ (giraffe) scoping out its dinner options; Cheetah mama and cub sharing a moment

grass, belly swollen from feasting on a wildebeest kill. A lioness and her two cubs lie among the wildflowers, waiting their turn to feed. My thoughts turn to dinner around the fire in the boma. Being in the bush revives the elemental spirit in us; connects us to our primordial past. Justin teaches us the hilarious collective nouns for the big game: a crash of rhinos, a stretch or journey of ‘gerries’ (giraffes), an implausibility of wildebeest (they say these strange-looking creatures were created by God from leftover spare parts), a dazzle or harem of zebra, a gang of buffalo, a coalition of cheetah, a rank of impala, a prickle of porcupine, and a murder of crows. Game rangers are masters at multitasking: They can spot a southern pale chanting goshawk high in the air, point out a nightjar alighting at dusk, or a hammerkop (an omen of bad luck to the superstitious locals) while dodging potholes, fording rivers or pouring a G&T for sundowners. On a dawn patrol game drive, we track a large herd of 20 thirsty elephant coming down from the hills to water and bathe in the dongas of the Bushman’s River. A young calf, escorted by mum and dad, scratches its belly on a raised mudbank. Justin backs off the dirt track to give the irritable alpha tusker, in must, plenty of space to get past us. Good tusks are in the genes. He tells us that 70% of all elephants in the nearby Addo Elephant National Park do not have any tusks today; the best tuskers were shot out by Victorian hunters in the 19th century, shrinking the gene pool.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

Amakhala is located in the Eastern Cape in the Addo/Shamwari wildlife conservation corridor between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. A few citrus farmers (the fifth generation descendents of 1820 settlers) came together here in the late 1990s along with five farsighted sheep and cattle farmers. They decided to turn back the clock, to drop all the internal farm fences, rehabilitate the land and restock the conservancy with the Big Five and 20 species of large mammals, and reintroduce the game shot out in earlier centuries. Dr William Fowlds, a young vet and farmer, led the project. Today there are nine game lodges and camps in the reserve, employing many locals and 23 rangers. Amakhala enjoys a magnificent natural setting and retains an authentic feel of frontier country. It gives tourists exploring the Garden Route the opportunity to see the Big Five, over 60 mammal species and 250 bird species in a malaria-free wilderness. For many foreign tourists, it is their first experience of a safari. The reserve also has a popular conservation centre where local schoolchildren learn about conservation on day trips, passing on wilderness values to the next generation. While at Amakhala, we stay at Bush Lodge, the only five-star lodge in the reserve, set in Reed Valley on another of the old settler farms founded in 1898 by Jabez Weeks. The camp was opened in 2006 by Rod and Mike Weeks, the descendants of the settlers who founded the third oldest jersey dairy farm in the area, and once grew one million pineapples on the farm

of Tygerfontein. Their forefathers dabbled in ostrich feathers at the height of the Belle Époque in Europe—though the ostriches now run wild, safe from losing their fine plumes to passing fashion. Tim Gebers, head ranger at Bush Lodge, takes us on game drives into the dune forest, one of the five biomes at Amakhala. We spot a black-backed jackal drinking from a stream, a cheetah and her four cubs, giant leopard tortoise and yellow mongoose. By the time we leave, almost every box on our checklist is ticked— except for a prickle of porcupine and a lone leopard. I take an outdoor shower, looking up at the stars and the Southern Cross, and spot a curious vervet monkey staring back at me from a tree branch. The bush is gradually reclaiming all signs of human settlement at Amakhala as nature slowly returns to the way it always was. Acacia and agave are growing through the crumbling foundations of the old dairy farm where a wind pump still creaks in the breeze. Heading out of the reserve, I say a silent prayer that the custodians of Amakhala will succeed in keeping the last of the rhino alive in sanctuaries like this, and avoid the fate of the extinct dinosaurs whose fossilised bones lie buried deep beneath these ancient plains. Being the last rhino alive on the planet is too lonely a fate to contemplate. Graham Howe was a guest of the Mantis Collection (www.mantiscollection.com) and Amakhala Game Reserve. See also www.hillsneksafaris.com and www.thebushlodge.co.za.


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Jennifer Stern finds out what motivated intrepid pilot Johan Wiklund to fly a 1930s open-cockpit biplane from Norway to Cape Town

George Mallory’s immortal reply to the question of why he wanted to climb Everest—because it’s there—has inspired generations of adventurers to tackle various outlandish projects and extreme expeditions simply because they can. So it was refreshing to meet Swedish pilot Johan Wiklund, who recently flew a 1930s open-cockpit biplane 18 000 kilometres from the most northerly airfield in Europe, Nordkapp in Norway, to the most southerly one in Africa, near Cape Agulhas.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




iklund has actually thought through his motivation logically, citing Maslow’s wellknown hierarchy of needs: He has a wonderful job; he doesn’t have to worry about food or shelter; he lives in a country where social and personal security are among the highest in the world; and he has a loving, happy and supportive family, both nuclear and extended. Life is good. In fact, it’s great. But there’s something missing. Humans, he believes, are built to face mental and physical stress. We evolved in response to a range of environmental challenges, and it’s our response to challenge that makes us human, that keeps us going and keeps us growing. And, ironically, it’s that determination to overcome every challenge that has led to our creating a world with less challenge—a world where everything we need is available on the supermarket shelves, or at the click of a mouse. We’re so removed from the source of things that children grow up with no idea at all of what kind of trees eggs grow on. That’s why Wiklund needs adventure. “We need to go back to the basics,” he says. “I don’t mean go back to the cave, but we need to take responsibility for ourselves; we need to rediscover the courage to make decisions, to take our lives into our own hands.” In short: to be fully, responsibly, human. He’s comfortable with accountability. As a pilot for Scandinavian Airlines, he regularly takes responsibility for the lives of a few hundred strangers, and he makes life-or-death decisions daily. Most of them are pretty routine decisions but, despite all the fancy-schmancy electronics on the over-engineered aircraft he usually flies, he knows that life, the weather, nature, politics or mental fatigue may one day throw him a curve ball. And if that happens, he needs to be able to respond. Immediately. Intuitively. He’s fully aware that, if he isn’t careful, the awesome technology can lull him into a dangerous false sense of security. And maybe that’s why he loves this old plane that’s held together by cloth, cables, wood and steel. “She’s a time machine,” he says. “When you’re flying a few thousand feet above the African savannah in an 80-year-old open-cockpit plane, you could be back in 1929. From up there, nothing has changed since then.” It’s full-time, hands-on flying, and you have to take 100% responsibility for your own life, your own decisions. He even did an aircraft maintenance course before he left on his journey. Airline captains are not expected to get their hands greasy fiddling around in the innards of a Boeing, but Wiklund takes pride in the fact that he gave “the grand old lady” two full services on the trip. And, like all real adventurers, he faced both physical and mental challenges, probably the toughest of which was his first day in Africa. Having taken off from Crete, he had a tiring but uneventful


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

PREVIOUS SPREAD: With retro leather jacket, flying helmet and goggles to match the vintage plane, Wiklund prepares for initial takeoff THIS PAGE, ABOVE: Johan prepares for the epic adventure, ready to take off from Honningsvåg Airport, a seven-minute flight from Nordkapp, and about as far north as you can land a plane in Europe THIS PAGE, BELOW: Flying over the beautiful waterways of southern Sweden near his home, Wiklund bids farewell to the familiar OPPOSITE PAGE, BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: Fully kitted out for his day job as a Scandinavian Airlines captain; Every day brought a new vista—this gorgeous little village is somewhere northwest of Rome



five-hour flight to the Egyptian seaport of Mersa Matruh, where he refuelled, got out of his hot, sweaty marine survival suit, and took off for Giza’s 6th of October Airport. It was to be a quick two-hour flight. But then Cairo Air Traffic Control ordered Wiklund to climb to 11 000 feet (about 3 350m) and head back out over the Med into the commercial airspace route to play with the big boys like Etihad, BA and Lufthansa. On explaining he was in an open-cockpit plane and could not fly at that altitude, they relented to 10 000ft (3 050m). That was not possible either, so, failing to talk any sense into them, he turned off the altitude reporting on his transponder and simply kept a good lookout for other planes. It got kind of messy: The controllers kept him from his destination until it got dark, and then informed him that the airport was closed and he’d have to do an


instrument landing at Cairo International. It took a while to explain that, with state-of-the-art 1930s technology, he couldn’t do an instrument landing and, incidentally, was not equipped for night flying either. But at least Cairo International was well-lit; with fingers crossed and eyes wide open, he did a visual landing. Having safely taxied across the huge airport, weaving between the Boeings and Airbuses, Wiklund breathed a sigh of relief. As had happened at almost every other landing before and since, people came up to the plane smiling, taking photographs and generally admiring the old lady. And he smiled back. It’d been a long, hot, tiring, frustrating day. But it wasn’t over yet. Once the airport officials saw his GoPro on the wing, he was manhandled by two burly policemen into a

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The exuberant welcome from the Children’s Book Network at Stellenbosch Flying Club

holding cell. They went through all his footage, and couldn’t understand why someone would want to do what he was doing for “no good reason”. So they figured if they shouted a bit louder, eventually he’d give in and admit to being a spy—which was, as far as they were concerned, the only logical reason anyone could have for flying the distances he had in an antiquated plane. I suppose it didn’t occur to them that, if Sweden wanted to spy on Egypt, they would probably use slightly more modern technology. It would’ve been funny if it hadn’t been a bit scary, but Wiklund realised that the reason no one would actually admit it was a mistake and just let him go, was because they were too scared. They lived in perpetual fear of making errors, so they simply refused to make decisions at all. Tired as he was, he was determined to stay positive. As the headlesschicken bureaucrats spiralled into tense exhaustion, fuelled as much by their inability to take decisive action as by anything else, Wiklund kept smiling, answered politely and pretended he wasn’t tired at all. Eventually, after 30 hours of incarceration and quite aggressive (but never violent and always legal) interrogation, he was released

with a cheerful “Welcome to Egypt!” It was an inauspicious introduction to Africa, but it got better after that—and continued to do so. He was delighted and humbled by the people he met. “I’ve had such incredible hospitality on this trip,” he says. “And I can’t pay back the people who have helped me, fed me and put me up, so I guess I will just pay it forward.” And that’s one of the reasons he’s using the publicity generated by the trip to collect money for the Make Reading Cool project based near Cape Point, run by the Children’s Book Network. Wiklund isn’t the first person to fly from Europe to Africa in such a plane. In fact, he (loosely) followed a route pioneered by fellow Swede, Gösta Andrée, who flew a similar plane in 1929. To show his admiration for his predecessor, he’s even emulated his wardrobe: wearing a thick, brown woollen suit for flying over Europe, and changing into lightweight khaki cotton in North Africa—with the mandatory stylishly retro leather flying helmet and jacket, of course.

She’s a time machine,” he says. “When you’re flying a few thousand feet above the African savannah in an 80-year-old open-cockpit plane, you could be back in 1929. From up there, nothing has changed since then.


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Find out more on www.capetocape.net and www.childrensbook.co.za.



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Wavecrest Beach Hotel is situated on a pristine, mangrove-lined estuary, surrounded by magnificent dune forests and endless expanses of beach.


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Conservation on

THE EDGE James McNamara journeyed from the UK to India, visiting eight projects that are conserving some of the most endangered wildlife and ecosystems on Earth


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The idea was relatively straightforward: to undertake a once-in-alifetime adventure and travel overland from the United Kingdom to India. The challenge was how to set it aside from other similar road trips. To give it a purpose that went beyond the logistical challenge of crossing 24 countries and 30 000 kilometres—a focus that would drive us to learn more about the new and exciting environments through which we would pass; a reason to stop and engage with the people, cultures and history of these new places; and ensure the journey lived up to what we intended it to be.


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fter throwing around numerous ideas, the one we settled on was wildlife conservation. Our aim: to visit eight different projects to learn about the vital work they were doing to conserve some of the planet’s most endangered wildlife and ecosystems, and to bring these stories back home. Conservation as a science is about understanding the interface between people, wildlife and the environment they share. The people at the forefront of conservation have the privilege to work in some of the most beautiful and remote environments, with fascinating and unique cultures, and with a connection to nature that continues to amaze and serve as a reminder of our place in the world. It was therefore the perfect motivator to take us off the beaten track, introduce us to people and places we would never otherwise have visited, and learn a great deal.


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The idea for the trip was first sown almost 15 years ago when, while travelling around South Africa, my friend Stu Clark and I met a group who had driven to Cape Town from London. Full of the optimism and joie de vivre that one experiences while travelling, the freedom and excitement this idea represented ignited our imagination, and shortly after we set about plotting our own adventure. Fast-forward a decade and a half, and a serendipitous turn of events found both our careers at a natural break. It was simply too good to ignore. We had the time. We had the dream. There remained only the execution. But before we could leap into this grand challenge, we needed a plan. First, a route. Inspired by the stories of Stu’s grandfather’s travels in Asia, the decision was made to drive east to India. The journey would take us through Europe, across the Caspian Sea and the deserts and high mountains of central Asia, into China, down through Tibet, over the Himalayas and down from the Roof of the World into the muggy heat of Nepal and the Indian subcontinent. From peak to valley, it would

take us through landscapes and countries that neither of us would have been able to place on a map previously. Second, we needed our purpose. Months were set aside researching conservation in central and southern Asia to identify interesting—and interested— projects. Having made our pitches, and after several coffee-shop meetings and Skype conversations, we had the projects. And what projects they were! From landscape conservation in the Caucasus

PREVIOUS SPREAD: Sutjeska National Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina THIS PAGE: James and his partner-in-crime, Stu Clark, at the top of the 4 655m Ak-Baital Pass on the Pamir Highway, Tajikistan OPPOSITE: A snow leopard at Issyk-Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan



From tracking snow leopards in the white wilderness of Kyrgyzstan, to releasing brown bear cubs in Tajikistan, and working with tribal communities in northeast India on the Bhutanese border, all the projects we had the privilege to visit set examples of how to do it right Mountains of Georgia, to conservation of emblematic species such as the snow leopard in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan and rhinos of northeast India, to community conservation work in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan. Even working in wildlife conservation as a day job, one may hope to experience two or three such projects in one’s professional life, but here we were presented with an opportunity to visit several. It was exhilarating stuff. Finally, we needed kit. The vehicle in which we travelled would be our home for eight months. It would be where we cooked, slept and spent much of our time. We needed to be self-supporting and able to tackle the full range of road conditions


we were likely to encounter. We settled on a Land Rover Defender 110, with a roof tent fixed to a reinforced roof rack plus a water tank, gas bottles and an enlarged fuel tank. We also needed protection for ourselves. We would experience a range of temperatures and conditions, from the heat and dryness of a Central Asian summer where 40 degrees Celsius was the norm, to the freezing cold of the Tibetan Plateau in winter where minus 20° was usual. This is where Canada Goose stepped in. With a need for clothing that could deal with pretty much every condition one could imagine, it was essential that our gear be up to the task. And as we huddled around our campfire in the High Pamirs on

the border of Kyrgyzstan in minus 17 degrees, I can assure you it was far more than a luxury—it was an essential! In June 2014, we set off. The experiences of the road are too detailed and numerous for a short overview, but there are highlights. One of the most remarkable and touching stories was without doubt the humanity we experienced. Once we stepped beyond the boundaries of Europe until the moment we left the Land Rover behind on a cargo ship in Mumbai, we were looked after, fed and cared for in a manner that neither of us expected. We were never robbed or even threatened; what did happen, however, was that we were invited into people’s homes on an almost

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daily basis, and frequently offered a bed to stay. Once, while driving through Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, we heard a shout from a nearby vehicle. Turning to look, we found a bag of fruit, bread, water and other food being held out the window of the passing car while the driver frantically tooted his horn and shouted greetings. Pulling alongside each other, we negotiated a moving, mid-air handover of these gifts, before these mystery friends sped ahead. Such a remarkable act of kindness was a common feature throughout our journey. The other core experience was, of course, the conservation. From tracking snow leopards in the white wilderness of Kyrgyzstan, to releasing brown bear cubs

Nature Conservation in Nepal. In the shadow of the mighty Himalayas, this environmental non-governmental organisation is a commendable example of integrated conservation. Saving wildlife through sustainable development is its mission. In addition to traditional antipoaching endeavours and reforestation programmes, the NGO is giving communities direct access to money spent by tourists on national park fees. This money is used to fund a range of environmentally and socially focused schemes, from renewable energy to healthcare, education and gender development programmes. It has given communities a financial reason

hours to fly the same distance we had driven in eight months. It was a strange experience to look down on the creased mountain valleys and snow-capped peaks from the comfort of an airline seat and think that only recently we had been rumbling over their rocky surfaces, feeling like the most isolated people on Earth. Now back in the UK, we are bringing the stories from the road to the classroom: running workshops with the charity, Action for Conservation, to inspire young people about conservation and the world around them. The trip will almost certainly continue to play a role in our daily lives for some time to come, as we get under way the daunting task of converting all the footage we

CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: The ‘fairy chimneys’ of Cappadocia, Turkey; Mount Everest Base Camp, Tibet; Livestock market in Kashgar, China; Holy Trinity Monastery near the village of Gergeti, on the slopes of Mount Kazbek in Georgia

in Tajikistan, and working with tribal communities in northeast India on the Bhutanese border, all the projects we had the privilege to visit set examples of how to do it right: dedicated people working closely with local communities in some of the most breathtaking and isolated landscapes one could wish to explore. Yet, were a single experience to be highlighted for the sake of discussion, it would be that of the National Trust for


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to conserve their wildlife, and helped engender a pride in their natural heritage as a global resource that goes well beyond the purely fiscal. Eight months after setting off—having successfully navigated some of the most impressive road routes on the planet and overcome challenges both expected and unforeseen—we finally pulled into Mumbai and began preparations for the journey home. It took approximately eight

captured into shorts for the conservation projects. We picked up the Land Rover from Felixstowe some time later. It needed a little work—but, getting behind the wheel again, it felt like it was whispering to us, and it was impossible not to feel the lure of adventure. For more information on the expedition, visit www.conservationontheedge.com.



picture Alexander Braczkowski gives us a glimpse into his life as a National Geographic photo assistant

perfect From filming spotted cats in the world’s fourth largest city to chasing man-eaters in northern India, here are a few stories from my year working as Steve Winter’s photographic assistant on National Geographic magazine’s biggest ever feature story on leopards.


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s I lugged the last duffel bag off IndiGo airline’s humming luggage conveyor belt, I caught a quick glance of the small thermometer hanging on the wall of the cargo hangar. It read 47 degrees Celsius. “Welcome to Delhi!” I heard the cargo clerk shout at me through the small cubicle window. “Why is it so hot?” I yelled back. “It’s the Loo, sir. It’s a hot wind that comes from Rajasthan— very dangerous!” Even Saurabh Sinclair, the talented Indian photographer and fixer who was helping me with the last of Steve Winter’s 31 camera bags, looked spent. He chuckled a little and shouted, “This is just the start, mate. We’ll be on elephant back in this heat tomorrow, tracking tigers—no air condition!” Just 13 months earlier, I had been stuck fitting linear models in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Examining aspects of leopard hunting in Africa, I dreamt of finding a way to inspire people about the cats I cherish so much. But as the cold English winter set in, I started to feel like my journal articles would have little impact on people. “Hey, Alex! I’m coming to South Africa to photograph leopards and need some help…” read the first line of Winter’s email. Wow, he remembered me! A real-life Sean O’Connell—the photojournalist from the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty— he had spent the last 20 years photographing everything from tigers to snow leopards, dodged rebels in Burma, and survived dengue fever and cancer. He was now setting out to tell the leopards’ story for National Geographic magazine, and there was his email asking me to be part of his team—a month before my viva defence!


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FROM SHEMBE TO SABI SANDS: LEOPARDS, AND A CRASH COURSE IN EXPOSURE VALUES South Africa holds some of the world’s largest leopard populations, but these animals also suffer some of the highest rates of persecution. Often killed for their skins, skulls and occasional stock-raiding habits, in July 2014 we embarked on a journey across the country to show the enigmatic cat in its natural habitat and document its relationship with people (be it good or bad). We hit the ground running and spent two days at the annual Shembe gathering in Inanda, where Winter wanted to show the role of leopard skins in Zulu culture and the Nazareth Baptist Church. Running behind him with a bag full of lenses, trying to



capture the excitement of 3 000 dancing men clad in leopard skins, Winter gave me a small DSLR with which to practise. I still remember him shouting, “1/500, F11 at 400!” and “Alex, focus, then compose the picture!” It’s hard to believe that one of the Earth’s most incredible visual spectacles of culture, dance and religion is right on our doorstep in KwaZulu-Natal. After the gathering, our journey continued to the Cape mountains and the savannah lowveld of the greater Kruger National Park. Here we attempted to get images of leopards and their cubs, using flash-supported DSLR camera traps. A camera trap is a remote photographic system that, with the help of a detection device, allows an animal to take a ‘selfie’ without the

photographer having to be there. Winter had used this system on snow leopards, tigers and jaguars. Now, the 180-odd kilogrammes of Nikon D7100s, flashes and waterproof boxes (not to mention the seemingly jinxed wireless transmitters) used on these species would be in the care of Bertie Gregory (another of Winter’s assistants) and I. Focusing our attention on a habituated female called Marula, we did our best to try and keep the camera traps running long enough to capture a leopard—and not get destroyed by the larger and more inquisitive wildlife in the area. My least memorable experience was trying to piece together a wireless infrared transmitter after a clan of hyenas had crushed its protective box. Their effortless bites through our cables and their theft of our flashes are also rather forgettable incidents!

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS WITH BIG DADDY: FILMING MUMBAI’S MOST FAMOUS LEOPARD When people think of places to spot leopards, cities and apartment blocks are probably last on the list. But in India, where 1.4 billion people live in a matrix of farmland, forest and urban sprawl, things are different. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a 104km2 patch of forest that lies in the heart of Mumbai’s Thane District. Between May and July 2015, this was my home. Winter’s mission in Mumbai was to obtain remote video footage of leopards walking on the city park confluence. Gregory and I had the objective of getting video footage to supplement Winter’s. For over a month, we thought out, planned and shot alternate angles of one particularly large male leopard called Big Daddy, which Winter had christened a year earlier. (At 75kg, and with an affinity for domestic dogs, it was rather fitting.) A two-shot of an apartment resident looking down onto a bridge, with a leopard in the background; an infrared wide-angle shot of a male leopard walking up to a camera; and even sticking a camera into a tree for a bird’s-eye view of the big male marching down the bridge located next to a seven-storey block of flats... The all-night, Red Bull–fuelled stakeouts in a 3x3m hide (I calculated that, on average, we would spend between nine and

PREVIOUS SPREAD: One of Dulini Lodge’s most famous leopards, Xikavi, watches safari vehicles from the safety of a large marula tree in Sabi Sand OPPOSITE, TOP: Winter and I setting up a remote camera trap near Timbavati’s Bateleur Eco Safari Camp, to photograph a female leopard called Marula OPPOSITE, BOTTOM: In Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park, leopards occasionally take a stroll on the beach THIS PAGE, TOP: The leopardess Hlangisa watches on as her young cub enjoys the remains of a common duiker at Dulini Lodge THIS PAGE, INSET: Winter checking the lighting on a camera trap set up on Buthowa Beach in Yala National Park—I’m playing the role of the leopard!


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AL E X A N D E R B RACZ KOW S K I Winter sets up a video trap at Mahaseelawa in Yala, while photojournalist Sharon Guynup and I watch on

waterholes in the scrub jungles, we found ourselves sitting in a Toyota Land Cruiser on the edge of Yala’s Block 2—an area renowned for its aggressive water buffalo. We decided to shift our focus to going for the impossible: getting a shot of a leopard on the beach. I said to Winter that his idea of chasing a cat on the shore couldn’t have a better chance of being fulfilled than in Yala, where 200km of coastline are out of For over a month, we thought out, planned bounds to people and where wildlife and shot alternate angles of one particularly roams free. For the next two weeks, we scouted three beaches hugged by large male leopard called Big Daddy, which scrub jungle. Each one yielded leopard Winter had christened a year earlier. (At tracks, some on the high-tide line. After the team flew back to the 75kg, and with an affinity for domestic United States, I was left servicing the cameras and scouting for further beach dogs, it was rather fitting.) localities. My month alone in the park was mainly occupied by trying to keep our cameras going. In 40°C heat, sandblasted by westerly winds and under threat of the changing 10 hours a night to obtain six to 14 seconds tides, this was incredibly challenging. When leopards walk around of leopard footage!) will be some of my fondest memories of your cameras and sensors, the task is even more difficult. India. But it’s the Indians’ tolerance and reverence for their wildlife Jetting off in early September, we had moderate success that will stick with me the most. In one of the most impoverished getting some incredible images of sambar deer on the beach, a parts of the world where many people live hand to mouth, leopard at a jungle waterhole, and three shots of leopards on the they will often tolerate a leopard stealing a calf or a pig. I even beach—but none turned out perfect. If we’d only had more time! witnessed offerings being made by local villagers in a leopard temple within the national park. Back home in South Africa, I’m enjoying some time off after four Everyone should visit India at least once in their lifetime— months on the run in the jungles of Asia. Many people probably and if it’s not for the leopards of Mumbai, it should be for its think being a photo assistant for National Geographic is the best food, warm people and diversity of cultures. job in the world. Well, apart from the broken TrailMaster camera cables and wireless transmitters, it is! Time to get snapping! SURF, SUN AND LEOPARDS: A SPOTTED CAT


Our leopard journey culminated on the island of Sri Lanka. One can hardly believe that leopards moved here from the Indian mainland along a narrow land bridge just 10 000 years ago. After a gruelling 36 hours of repacking our gear and trying to look casual at numerous customs offices, we made the short twohour journey by air to Colombo. Yala National Park in the island’s southeast would be our base camp for two months, with the goal of showing leopards in never-before-seen habitats. After a few days of scouting out granite inselbergs and


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Alex Braczkowski is a big cat biologist and cameraman who has spent the last seven years studying leopards and other cats. After completing his master’s in Zoology at the University of Oxford, he joined Steve Winter and National Geographic for one year as a photographic assistant and second cameraman on print and television editions of a worldwide leopard story. He is now working on finding ways to solving conflict between big cats and people in southern Africa for his doctoral research at the University of Queensland in Australia. You can follow him on Instagram @alexbraczkowski and www.alexanderbraczkowski.com.


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Julia Roth caught up with cyclist and ultra endurance adventurer, Mark Beaumont, after his successful world record attempt from Cairo to Cape Town in 2015


solo Armed with only a bicycle, some sparingly packed gear, and an unimaginable dose of nerve, Mark Beaumont set out to become the fastest man in the world to cycle the length of Africa. Bracing himself against treacherous roads, brutal elements, soaring hill climbs, and everything else Africa threw at him, it took only 41 days, 10 hours and 22 minutes for him to smash the previous record for the 10 812-kilometre solo ride.


eaumont is no stranger to extreme exploration, or even world record title-holding. In 2008, he became the fastest man to cycle around the globe (a formidable journey of nearly 30 000km) solo. Then in 2010, he became the only person in the world ever to have cycled the length of the Americas while also summiting both of the continents’ highest peaks in a single climbing season. And between these epic journeys, he has delved into team ocean rowing and Arctic exploration. If one man embodies the spirit of an intrepid explorer, that man is Mark Beaumont. Here he gives us a glimpse into his extraordinary expedition: 270km per day, through unfamiliar territory, in extreme isolation—and the ride of a lifetime.

You have been tackling various adventures and challenges since you were young. Is this trait something that has been handed down in the family?


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Not really. My parents are farmers and no one else in the family has pursued a sporting career. That said, I was home-schooled until the age of 11, so I spent most of my time working and playing on the farm, which meant an incredible freedom to be adventurous. Aged 12, I decided to cycle across Scotland with a friend, and I was 15 when I soloed from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England—about 1 800km. So I did start cycling young, and that has led to a career trying to break many endurance world records, as well as ocean rowing, mountaineering and Arctic exploration.

How do you train—physically and mentally—before each expedition you attempt? Training is specific to each expedition, but taking my recent race down Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town, I teamed up with the Scottish national cycling team and spent a lot of time in the [Sir Chris Hoy] Velodrome. Track cycling really builds your leg



speed, power and bike handling. I wanted to go faster than ever before, covering on average 270km per day. My biggest worry is always getting an injury, so I spend a lot of time in the gym as well as trail running, to build up my all-round conditioning. Mental preparation can be gained only from experience: You have to build up over the years, pushing yourself to new comfort zones and pain levels; this can’t really be taught in the training phase.

Why did you choose Africa as your next journey to conquer? I’d already cycled around the world and the length of the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego—and so Africa completed this hat trick of world cycle routes I’ve long dreamt of. After a five-year break from cycling expeditions, I was keen to go faster than before, learn from the development of the sport, and set the Cairo to Cape Town world record at a much faster and more professional level. Until 2015, the record was 70 days. I completed the route in 41 days, 10 hours and 22 minutes.

How does it feel in the moment you set off on an expedition? The start’s always a bit confusing. There’s lots of media, normally some other cyclists and well-wishers. Leaving Cairo was certainly pretty mad, and it was later that day, about 160km after the start, that I was on my own for the first time, thinking about what lay


ahead. That’s quite a daunting time on expedition: trying to settle into the daily routine.

What is it like being so isolated in the wilderness for such long periods of time, and how do you cope? It can be relatively sore on the bike, especially at the start of each day, and I’m left with my own thoughts all day, every day. But I never feel completely alone. I’ve a great team back in the UK who are just a phone call away—they sort out all my logistics and planning ahead. And I also have what I call my ‘virtual peloton’: an amazing army of supporters on social media who are constantly sending their messages of support, questions and feedback. I certainly fall into a unique mindset when riding my bike on big solo rides. One thinks about the simple things like where to find clean water, enough food and a safe place to sleep each night. I always think that life on expedition is pretty brutal, yet wonderfully simple.

How did you motivate yourself to keep going every single morning on such an epic journey? Motivation is hard to explain. Some things that I do, others may think impossible, but I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 20 years building up the stamina and experience. So when the alarm goes off at 4 a.m. after four hours’ sleep, and I roll onto the bike for another 16 hours of riding, it hurts—but it never crosses my

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mind to delay or to quit. I’m going for a world record, and I couldn’t forgive having regrets, or thinking I could’ve gone faster.

What was the scariest moment of the Africa Solo expedition? Did you ever consider quitting? The trucks in Tanzania were seriously dangerous. The roads are narrow, often broken, and there’s no hard shoulder. And almost all Tanzanians cycle in the dirt paths at the roadside, so I was forced off the road quite a few times each day. There were a few terrifying moments when trucks very nearly hit me. It was also in Tanzania that a guy tried to get money off me—but he’d been drinking, and as soon as I retaliated, he backed off. It wasn’t particularly dangerous, and I was more saddened because 99% of people throughout the continent and in Tanzania gave me such a warm welcome. Ethiopia was by far the toughest. Straight after the border from Sudan, the road climbs up to around 3 400m, with serious climbing every day. And then the final 300km to the Kenyan border at Moyale is a construction road, so when it rained, this turned to mud. It was seriously tough going, not helped by kids throwing stones and trying to hit me with sticks. I had some pretty big mental lows, but never felt like giving up.  

The overriding emotion at Mouille Point was relief and then exhaustion. I’d been pushing 17-hour days for the last week, on less than five hours’ sleep per night. It was brilliant to be welcomed by my wife, daughter and mum who had flown out from Scotland. There were quite a few dignitaries, sponsors and members of the public, which gave the finish a great buzz. And the final hour through Cape Town was superb fun, helped by a police escort that got me through the rush-hour traffic. I finished just before sunset, and the clouds parted to show off Table Mountain—it was spectacular.

Have you spent other times in and around South Africa? The only other time I’ve visited South Africa was as a BBC presenter during the build-up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I travelled to 68 Commonwealth nations and territories during 2013/14 and came to Joburg to film the South African athletes. We captured all the celebrations happening around the Queen’s Baton Relay and then focused on the story of Kirsten Beckett, the young gymnast. After the finish of the Africa Solo expedition, I had six days in the Western Cape with my family and had a wonderful time. People were incredibly

And what was the best moment? I loved Sudan. I’ve always enjoyed desert riding, and the Sahara was incredible. It certainly helped that I had a strong northerly [wind] and they have the best roads in Africa. Even when the wind picked up into a sandstorm, it was a lot of fun and I covered quite a few days of 300-plus kilometres. At night I camped in truck stops, and the food and welcomes were always great. Another highlight was northern Botswana, where the wildlife was breathtaking. By day I had a giraffe cantering alongside me and then I had 100km of night riding with elephants on the roadside. Quite exhilarating, as I threw down my fastest intervals of the ride to get past them!

What was it like arriving in Cape Town after biking for 41 days through the heart of Africa?


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PREVIOUS SPREAD: Racing hard at an average of 255km/h daily, carrying just 8kg of kit THIS PAGE, LEFT TO RIGHT: Enjoying the buzz of a police escort and film crews during the final miles; Posing by the Pyramids on the eve of the race OPPOSITE, LEFT TO RIGHT: Fresh-faced and in high spirits on day 1 in Egypt; Beaumont celebrating with his family in Cape Town on day 41



Like any athlete, I still feel there must be more, that I haven’t yet proven my personal best. So there’s always the motivation to go back, train harder and push my limits.

kind after seeing the news of the world record, and we were treated like royalty! This included a memorable trip out to Stanford and around the coastline. It did take a few days to get used to being in a car rather than on a bike!

What drives you to attempt these super-endurance expeditions, and what rewards do they give you? There’s a lot of pain, and it can be tough getting these world record attempts started in terms of sponsorship and media. I do them because, as an athlete, I’m still driven to figure out what I’m capable of. Like any athlete, I still feel there must be more, that I haven’t yet proven my personal best. So there’s always the motivation to go back, train harder and push my limits. And the reward in terms of a world record is simply a certificate! However, through the documentaries, books and speaking, I can now make

MAKING HIS MARK › AGE 15: Cycled solo from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England. › 2008: Broke the record for fastest true circumnavigation of the world on cycle, solo, in 194 days and 17 hours


(a total of 29 446km). › BBC documentarian for The Man Who Cycled the World (2008) and The Man Who Cycled the Americas (2009); author of the books of the same titles. › 2010: Became the first person to cycle the length of the

a good living from this career, which is ultimately important now that I’m married with my own family.

What can we expect to see you achieve in the future? I have another book to write and I’ll be back out this year for another major world record attempt. While I have a shortlist, I haven’t committed to what that is yet. All going well, I hope to have another three years as an athlete; while I’ve spent most of the last five years focusing on ocean rowing, climbing and Arctic expeditions, I’m now focused on the bike. I definitely plan to come back to ride more in South Africa, and would love to take part in the Cape Epic at some point. Follow Mark’s journeys online at markbeaumontonline.com and on Twitter: @MrMarkBeaumont

 012: Atlantic Odyssey— Americas while also summiting › 2 attempted the fastest team both of the continents’ highest row across the mid-Atlantic, peaks in a single climbing but capsized and was season. rescued. ›2  011: Did a team row through ›2  013: Completed the Highland the Canadian Arctic; the Line Challenge, crossing expedition became the world’s Scotland by swimming and first to reach a certified polar running. position by rowing boat.

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



on the

road again

Justin Bonello has gone on yet another adventure across the length and breadth of southern Africa, and shares the ins and outs (and recipes) of road-tripper life

Road Tripping is the latest addition to the Ultimate Braai Master recipe book collection, and it comes with some great twists and turns—including how to cheat at Beer Pong, what to pack, where to travel to, and the best playlist for your adventure.


his book is for every braai-loving, dust-kicking, crazy heart and ‘wanderluster’ out there, whether your ideal braai spot is on the banks of the mighty Orange River, on the white beaches of the Cape West Coast, or around blazing fires under the night skies of the Namib Desert. This is your invitation to get in your car, to take a ride with Bonello and his crew, and to braai mouth-watering dishes in places many people only dream about. Here he shares with The Intrepid Explorer readers a few of the recipes from Road Tripping.


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crushed garlic cloves brown sugar  chilli flakes  

BILTONG ON THE GO Have you ever tried making your own biltong? Good for you! Have you ever tried making your own biltong in your car while adventuring through the Namibian moonscapes? No? Well, what are you waiting for? This idea came to me for a couple of reasons. The first is because, obviously, like any true South African, I love biltong. Then there was the thing that we’ve been desolate for three weeks, travelling through Namibia, and I was out of ’tong. But then we arrived at Sossusvlei— renowned for its venison. And art department had some wire. And culinary department had all the spices I needed. And the Sossusvlei Lodge had a huge selection of venison. And so I was game to experiment. And it worked! There’s one rule of thumb, though: Use the best meat you can get your hands on; cheaper meat is full of sinew and stuff, and doesn’t make lekker biltong (unless you’re making it for a teething baby to suck on).


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YOU NEED:  wire—the kind that will bend easily  a car to drive in  a road to take—the longer, the better  venison—I used kudu; if you’re unsure what to use, chat to your butcher (any butcher worth his salt should tell you what the best venison is to use)  tinfoil Once you’ve got your meat, cut it into strips—with the grain—about 20cm long and 3cm thick. But on this note: If it’s hot where you are, cut it thinner—the thicker the cut, the longer it’ll take to cure, and you definitely want to avoid the meat going vrot. When you’ve cut the meat to its desired thickness and length, it’s time to spice it up. First, you’re going to make a dry spice mixture. Mix together equal amounts of:  salt  white pepper  crushed peppercorns

To this, add triple the amount of toasted coriander seeds (crushed). Then mix through a couple of pinches of salt, but don’t be too heavy-handed. There’s nothing worse than eating biltong and feeling as if you’ve just licked an entire salt pan. When your spice mix is ready, place the strips of meat (one layer) in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add a sprinkle of spice and then a light drizzle of both Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Add another layer of meat, more spice and more sauce. Repeat until you’ve used up all the meat, then cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge for the night. The next morning, before you’re about to hit the road, walk to your car with the wire, a wire cutter, your car keys, the cured meat and a vague idea of what to do. First up (and if you’re going to do it my way), cover the dashboard with tinfoil to catch the drippings and some of the spices that will inevitably drop off the biltong on the first day. And then it’s time to hang it up. There really can’t be any rules here other than don’t hang any biltong by an open window (dusty roads), in the boot (too hot), in the engine (too gross), or hovering above your passengers (too rude). What I did was hang it above my windscreen, using my rear-view mirror as an anchor, and getting the wire high enough so that it didn’t obscure my view of the road. Make an incision about 2cm from the top of each piece of meat, thread the wire through the meat, then hang the wire wherever you deem suitable and secure it tightly so that you’re free to still go off the beaten track. Get in and travel. This biltong hung in my car for about three days and roughly 1 000 kilometres, and by the time we arrived at the Fish River Canyon it was ready to eat. Sadly, with all the crew it only lasted a day, but it was worth it—and I’d recommend trying this to any bush-cook road tripper out there. Myth. Busted.




During our five days of gluttony, we found a great place that served up oyster burgers. That’s right: There are so many oysters that people actually make burgers with them. Imagine! And while it was great, Ultimate Braai Master judge Bertus Basson announced that he could do it better— and so he did. YOU NEED:  about 4 oysters per hot dog roll—so count your friends, count the rolls and do the maths  ½ cup self-raising flour  1 bottle beer (any kind)  oil for deep-frying


1 x 250g packet streaky bacon soft, fresh hot dog rolls, sliced  salt and pepper, to taste  some lemon juice (optional)  

Make a quick slaw by simply combining:  ½ onion, thinly sliced  1 big handful of shredded white cabbage  1 big handful of shredded red cabbage  about 5 radishes, thinly sliced  1 tomato, chopped  mayo  2 chillies, seeded and chopped Once your slaw is done, get the tedious job of shucking the oysters out of the way. Keep them on ice until you’re going to cook them. Next, combine the flour and about

half of the beer to make a batter—use a wooden spoon and make sure you remove all the lumps. Heat up a pot of oil over moderate coals, then deep-fry (YES, DEEP-FRY) the bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and put on kitchen paper to drain. Put the oysters into the bowl of batter—then, using that same slotted spoon, add them one at a time to the pot of hot oil. Deep-fry until golden, and then just as carefully remove them from the oil and place on kitchen paper to drain. Build your burger by placing the deep-fried oysters into the sliced buns. Top with strips of crispy bacon and the slaw, season to taste, and add a squeeze of lemon juice if you feel like it. Tuck in.

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YVONNE SHORT’S MUSSELS IN CURRY CIDER You should know one thing about Ultimate Braai Master contestant Yvonne Short, and one thing only: She’s one of the most incredible cooks that I’ve ever met, and she has a world of experience in all things culinary. Make these beauties and tell me I’m wrong. Exactly. YOU NEED:  900g fresh mussels, cleaned and beards removed  1 fennel bulb, sliced (keep the fronds and stalks)  a knob of butter  1 large onion, finely chopped  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped  2 teaspoons curry paste  1 cup apple cider (and one extra for you to sip on)  300ml fresh cream


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salt and pepper a small bunch of fresh coriander  crusty bread, for serving  

Once you’ve cleaned all the dirt and grit off the mussels, set them aside. Bring about 2 cups of water to a simmer in a potjie, then add the fennel fronds and mussels. Steam the mussels for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shells are just open, then take them out (make sure to throw away any unopened mussels). Keep about ½ cup of the liquid from the pot. In a separate potjie, melt the butter then fry the chopped onion, garlic and sliced fennel. Once the onions are nice and soft, stir through the curry paste, ½ cup of mussel water, cider and cream. Have a taste and season with salt and pepper, then take the mussels off the heat. Sprinkle fresh coriander over the top, and serve with crusty bread and good wine!

Road Tripping by Justin Bonello, written by Helena Lombard. Published by Penguin Random House South Africa. Available at all top book stores.



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Robbie Stammers thought he’d died and gone to heaven when he arrived at Quilalea Private Island in Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago marine sanctuary

Out world of this


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



I admit to having been spoilt rotten—much to the annoyance of my friends—over my many years of travel to luxurious destinations which, in ‘normal life’, I would never have been able to visit or afford. But out of all these jaw-dropping locations (sorry, mates), Quilalea has to be one of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




zura Quilalea Private Island is a hidden gem, a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of daily life, with a relaxed and understated ‘Robinson Crusoe’ castaway style that belies the comforts and experiences on offer in the nine handcrafted seafront villas. A wholly uninhabited island paradise, it ensures total privacy and exclusivity for guests— surrounded by the pristine waters of a marine sanctuary. The island is the southernmost of 32 landmasses that constitute the Quirimbas Archipelago. From Pemba Airport (a three-hour flight from Johannesburg), we took an incredibly scenic helicopter flight to the island. Once we set foot on terra firma, we were overwhelmed by the affable hospitality of the staff, and welcomed with a cool towel as we took a walk from the helipad to the main lodge along a path lined with centuries-old baobab trees.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

I was the only male in a female cast of six media crew members visiting the island, and couldn’t help referring to them as “my harem” for the rest of our stay at Quilalea. After meeting our wonderful hosts and being handed an island cocktail—in a coconut shell, naturally— we were briefed on the agenda and activities before being whisked off to our individual villas. The retreat houses nine seafront villas that can accommodate a total of 18 guests in three different styles: Kaskazi, Kusi and Villa Quilálea. The cliff-top Villa Quilalea offers the most incredible couple’s accommodation in the entire archipelago, with a private plunge pool, feature bathroom and dressing room, an outdoor shower, and its own separate sitting/ dining area. The sight that awaited me in my Kusi villa was beyond my wildest imagination: The turquoise waves literally lapped the doorway; one could almost roll out of bed and plop right into the warm Mozambican waters. The villas are built from natural coral stone and makuti thatch, and have

all been completely refurbished by the Azura design team to increase comfort and make better use of the interior space—with natural finishings, indoor/ outdoor showers, private decks stretching out to the beach, plus daybeds and sun loungers for relaxing. Pure bliss.

PREVIOUS SPREAD: The glorious view from the bar and pool area, out over the Quirimbas Archipelago marine sanctuary THIS PAGE: The private sun deck at my Kusi villa OPPOSITE PAGE: Snorkelling right in front of the island lodge OPPOSITE PAGE, INSET: Proudly displaying my catch of the day, a bigeye kingfish



The sight that awaited me in my Kusi villa was beyond my wildest imagination: The turquoise waves literally lapped the doorway; one could almost roll out of bed and plop right into the warm Mozambican waters. Once we’d settled in, it was straight back to the beachfront and the aquatic centre to grab our snorkelling gear and head out into the deep blue. There are more than 375 different fish here, and the seashells and corals are extraordinarily beautiful. The beaches double as nurseries for hawksbill, green, loggerhead and leatherback turtles, and it wasn’t long before we spotted a majestic green turtle


happily relaxing on the reef right in front of the main beach area. On my island to-do list was fishing. With the deep Mozambique Channel fed by the strong north-to-south current of the same name, this area harbours some of the world’s most exciting game- and billfish. Black, blue and striped marlin; sailfish; shortbill spearfish; wahoo and dorado; various tuna species; king and

queen mackerel; kingfish (jacks) and queenfish; barracuda as well as snappers are all found here. But it was the GT (giant trevally) I was after. My newfound friend Casey and I headed out by boat in the afternoon, zigzagging through pods of whales and dolphins in the hope of nabbing one of these elusive fish. After a few hours at sea—and after having the pleasure of catching a large bigeye kingfish—we headed to the other side of the island to try our luck at yellowfin tuna. We chased the diving birds and came across a section of water churning with tuna jumping high out of

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CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: An aerial view of Quilalea from the helicopter that flew us in; The tuna I caught would later become our sushi dinner; Canoeing through the mangrove swamps on nearby Sencar Island; Having just completed my crash course in scuba diving, I was raring to go!

the water; both Casey and I managed to bag a few fine fish. We headed back to our island with bragging rights and wide grins. Even though the GT had eluded us, we’d caught tuna that would be served to us the next day—apparently we had earned our supper! The following few days were filled with one excursion after the other, each surpassing the next. In between were sumptuous meals of local cuisine, focused on natural resources and fresh seafood— served on beach picnics, and at tables surrounded by lapping water, with the stars for illumination. We walked around the entire island, stopping now and then to hug the regal baobabs, one of which


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was 2 000 years old; kayaked through the mangroves on nearby Sencar Island where the birdlife was out of this world; and enjoyed sunset cruises with cocktails in hand on native dhow boats. My face hurt from smiling so much. However, the pièce de résistance was my first proper scuba dive. I had decided that there’d be no better time than the present for me to do a crash course, so I was taken for lessons in the residents’ pool by Tristan, the dive master and aquatic centre manager; before I knew it, I was in the sea, submerging myself under the waves. The first few minutes were rather scary and I almost surfaced once or twice, but

with the calm encouragement and support of Tristan, I began to relax. As soon as I had the first turtle in my sights, I forgot about everything else. I was utterly enthralled by the world under the water, and the dive will live with me forever. Without a doubt, Quilalea Private Island is an absolute dream destination—and next time I’m taking my wife! Thank you to the team at Azura Quilalea Private Island: Leon, Claudia, Tristan and the incredible staff; as well as Nicky Arthur PR and British Airways (operated by Comair). To book your flight, telephone 011 921 0222 or visit www.ba.com. Also check out www.azura-retreats.com.



blaze your own

This summer, make a New Year’s resolution you can really keep—get fit with fun and adventure. Nick Dall shows you the way

trail Trail running is seriously addictive, and it’s incredibly good for your body and mind too. It’ll keep you fitter than a mountain goat, and it’ll enable you to get an entirely new perspective on our beautiful country’s diverse and majestic landscapes. The best part? Membership at Nature’s gym won’t cost you a cent!


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R1 999

SALOMON MEN’S SPEEDCROSS 3 SHOES Iconic French brand Salomon has a reputation for making shoes that offer incredible foot and ankle support in a package that’s almost impossibly lightweight, and the Speedcross 3 is one of its most-loved creations. The Sensifit design envelops and cradles your feet for a precise fit that minimises foot slippage, while the Quicklace system means you’ll never again be able to use an undone lace as an excuse for a water break! The combination of a cushioned midsole, Lightweight Muscle chassis, and aggressive Contagrip outsoles means you’ll feel like you’re in a sports car even if you’re on terrain that’s 4x4–only. This shoe was actually given 10 out of 10 for traction, and rated ‘best ever’ by the revered reviewers at OutdoorGearLab.

SALOMON WOMEN’S SPEEDCROSS 3 SHOES Shoes are the one thing no trail runner should skimp on, and ladies can rest easy in the knowledge that Salomon has created a girls-only version of the legendary Speedcross 3. It doesn’t just look and feel feminine, it’s also specifically designed for the female form. It’s lighter and smaller than the men’s version and takes into account that women’s feet are wider than men’s in the toe area and narrower at the heel. What’s more, it caters for the differences between male and female pronation (the way the foot rolls inward when you run). Beauty isn’t only skin deep.

R1 999


R5 099


The all-new Garmin Forerunner 235 weighs only 42g, yet it does triple duty as a GPS-enabled fitness watch, activity tracker and heart rate monitor. Yes, you read right: Elevate™ technology enables the watch to measure your heart rate at the wrist, and eliminates the need to run with a strap. While the built-in heart rate monitor may grab the headlines, it’s the FR235’s prowess as a GPS-enabled fitness watch that has those in the know most excited. It’s extremely intuitive and easy to use—quite something when you consider its immense brain capacity. Its colour-coded display identifies your heart rate zone and beats per minute in real time, and produces clear and concise charts, graphs and maps to assist you on your journey toward becoming a better runner. Once you’re done running, it doubles as an activity tracker, counting your steps and calories throughout the day and reminding you to move if you’re static for too long; useful if you don’t have children to do this for you! The FR235 also boasts exceptional connectivity. You can wirelessly upload and share data to the Garmin Connect network and the watch can also show email, phone and SMS notifications from your smartphone—provided it’s within Bluetooth range, of course.

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T R AVEL G E A R K-WAY DART HYDRATION PACK This nippy hydration solution is designed for shorter training runs and competitive races where every gram counts. It’s an incredibly lightweight pack, which can accommodate a two-litre hydration system (sold separately) as well as essentials like your keys, cellphone, energy bar and windcheater. Its Quick-Flick buckles allow you to change the shoulder straps with just one flick, and the mesh back- and shoulder straps ensure optimum ventilation. Thanks to its sleek, contoured fit and rubberised shoulder and sternum straps, it will never jiggle or wobble—no matter R399 how fast you take that screestrewn descent.

K-WAY 2L HYDRATION RESERVOIR All trail runners need liquid, and plenty of it. The rapid-fill K-Way 2L Hydration Reservoir offers extremely good value for money and contains absolutely no harmful chemicals. You can use it in conjunction with the Dart or the Airstream, but you can also pop it into any hydration-ready backpack for day hikes or longer trails. It has a wide mouth opening, an anti-microbial finish, a quick-release tube for easy cleaning, and a magnetic strap retainer. The bite valve has to be switched to ‘ON’ before you drink—just remember to switch it off when you throw it in the car boot at the end of the day!




On longer runs, you need a bigger ‘fuel tank’—the 12L K-Way Airstream is way roomier than the Dart and has enough space for a proper lunch, a flask of coffee and a change of clothes. The mesh ventilation and shoulder straps will keep you cool and dry all day, and using the compression straps on the exterior in conjunction with the sternum strap will balance the load and keep the fit tight.




Some runners find that their head gets too hot if they wear a cap, especially on longer runs—which is where the K-Way Sonic Visor comes in. This stylish little number is made from tough-as-nails ripstop polyester and features a Velcro back strap that’s oh-so-easy to adjust. Every runner should have one in their wardrobe.


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On longer runs and on very sunny days, a visor doesn’t provide sufficient sun protection for your head, especially if you don’t have very much hair! Some caps can act like an oven, but not the lightweight, quickdrying K-Way T Cap. It uses state-of-the-art Release PF technology that’s exceptional at wicking moisture away from your skin and keeps your noggin cool and dry. It comes in a wide array of funky colours and is so comfortable, you’ll forget you’re even wearing it.



T RAVEL GEA R K-WAY MEN’S ARC JACKET In the mountains, the weather can change in an instant, but carrying a full-on rain jacket in the Magaliesberg in March seems a bit silly, doesn’t it? This is where the locally designed and manufactured K-Way Arc comes in: It’s a lightweight active shell that’s windproof, breathable and finished with a water-repellent coating. But it’s so small that it packs into its own chest pocket—literally! It won’t keep you dry in a deluge, but you’ll be amazed at how effectively it combats wind chill and light drizzle. It really could save your life.


K-WAY MEN’S KNOX ACTIVE SHORTS These are, quite simply, the Ferraris of the running-shorts world. They’re unbelievably lightweight; their liner is exceedingly comfortable and guaranteed to prevent chafe; and because they’re so good at moisture management, you’ll totally forget what it feels like to be sweaty. They have cunning zip pockets for essentials like cash and energy gels, and the ‘mechanical stretch’ fabric dries so quickly that you’ll only ever need one pair. If you’re serious about running, you deserve a pair of these sleek athletic machines.




It may look like an ordinary T-shirt, but the hydrophilic Reiko Moisture Manager is so much more. Made from 100% polyester, its main mission is to wick your sweat away from your skin as soon as it forms—in the process, keeping you drier for longer. Its incredible versatility means it’s one of the smartest purchases you’ll ever make: Worn on its own, it’ll keep you cool, but worn as part of a layering system, it’ll concentrate all your warmth in the insulation layer and keep the shivers at bay. A shirt for all seasons.



This item is the most versatile outdoor adventure headwear you’ll ever own. It can be worn as a scarf on a chilly day or as a bandana to keep the sun off your head—plus a whole lot of other ways. It’s made from breathable, quick-drying polyester that has been anti-odour treated and is designed to optimise your body temperature, whatever the weather. Still not convinced? It’s made from recycled plastic bottles, so it’s great for the planet too!

*All prices correct at time of print




The SEO 5’s 180-lumen beam has a range of 120m, but it still manages to achieve an incredible battery life (25 hours on low). Its patented Advanced Focusing System allows you to seamlessly scroll from an extremely wide angle beam with low intensity to a sharply focused long-range beam. Another cool function is a lockable power button, so it doesn’t turn itself on in your pack.

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



Selamta! Sarah Kingdom discovers the modern and the ancient in enigmatic Ethiopia


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



Before my husband and I knew it, we were in Ethiopia. Although I’d been planning a trip for several months, I couldn’t quite work out how to fit it in before the hectic end of year and festive season arrived. Since I didn’t know when the chance would come up again, I just booked our flights in mid-November. A few days after our arrival, we were trekking in the Simien Mountains in the north of the country.


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n the Earth’s long history of dramatic geographical changes, the most recent volcanic upheavals have taken place in East Africa. Torrential rains in the region have created gushing rivers and waterfalls, which in turn have eroded much of the newly formed volcanic mountain massifs—leaving behind a broad plateau divided by gorges thousands of metres deep. As far as the eye can see are the contours of crags and buttresses of hardened basalt, unsoftened by time. Listed as a World Heritage Site, the Simien Mountains are some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen. Between 3 500 and 4 000 metres, this is high-altitude trekking, and initially hard work while your body adjusts to the thinner air. Late, unexpected rain had come to the Simiens just in time for our visit. October and November are usually the best times to explore the area, as the dry season runs from October to April. We had glorious weather in the mornings, which usually lasted just long enough for us to get our daily six or seven hours of trekking done. Just as we’d approach camp, the weather would close in and rain would start to fall. It’d usually last most of the night, making getting out of a cosy sleeping bag, doing battle with a stubborn tent zip and going out to ‘commune with nature’ an unpleasant thought. Say the word “Ethiopia”, and most people’s minds would turn to civil war, coups, drought, famine and danger. Yet, the country is slowly becoming a place to which more tourists wish to venture. This year, an estimated 600 000 tourists will visit Ethiopia, and this number is projected to rise to 900 000 in the next year or two. (To put this in perspective, the number of tourists visiting South Africa is now in the region of 10 million annually.) Of these 600 000 or so tourists, about 20 000 will venture to the Simien Mountains, and only about half of those will actually trek in the park. We decided on a five-day, 60-plus-


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kilometre trek, which would finish with a climb up Bwahit—Ethiopia’s secondhighest mountain. At an altitude of 4 437m, it was a five-hour hike and a one-kilometre vertical ascent above our camp, taking us up into the clouds and giving us a stunning view of where we’d been days before. Of course, among the thousands of people trekking in the Simiens annually, you’re bound to come across a variety of characters. We encountered all sorts: a retired German couple who were absolutely delighted with the entire experience; a bunch of loud and unbelievably ignorant Americans in their 20s; and a narcissistic Spanish girl who emerged briefly from her tent each morning, only to go back inside and spend at least 30 minutes brushing and tying up her hair to give it that artfully contrived, ‘dishevelled chic’ look.

But it was a group of Belgians who took the cake. We were eating dinner (a chicken that had clearly not had an easy life, and whose drumsticks could perhaps be better termed ‘matchsticks’) in the somewhat cramped and smoke-filled communal cooking shelter. We were celebrating

PREVIOUS SPREAD: The Simien Mountains are a Unesco World Heritage Site THIS PAGE, TOP: Gelada monkeys are also known as bleeding-heart monkeys, due to the patches of hairless skin on the chest of females which turn crimson when they are in heat THIS PAGE, BOTTOM: Sunset in the Simiens OPPOSITE, LEFT TO RIGHT: 16th century painting at Ura Kidane Mehret monastery on the Zege Peninsula in Lake Tana; Worshipper outside Debre Birhan Selassie Church in Gondar; Our local scout, armed with his Kalashnikov rifle



Nestled in the foothills of the Simien Mountains, Gondar was the ancient capital of Ethiopia. Sometimes referred to as the “Camelot of Africa”, it has an impressive royal enclosure of castles and palaces all dating back to the 1600s.

our last night in the mountains with a surprisingly decent bottle of Ethiopian Merlot, when the rain drove the Belgian trekkers into our shelter. They ensconced themselves by our fire and, to our dismay, produced printed song sheets and started a group singalong in Flemish. We endured one song, gulped down the last of our wine, and escaped to our tent, from where we could hear the singing continue for hours! Then, finally, silence. We (gratefully) thought we’d have some peace at last— but sadly not. They retired to tents nearby and regaled each other with Belgian jokes for a couple more hours, laughing uproariously. As we didn’t understand a word they were saying, we assumed, judging by the hilarity, that the jokes had to be good ones—until we heard the punch line of one, which happened to be in English: “And that is why my father never lets my mother drink coffee alone!” Which rendered the group hysterical, but left us wondering just how much had been lost in translation... A remnant of the more unsettled times in Ethiopia is the prevalence of weapons: 80% to 90% of households own a gun, and the majority of the adult male population has either served as soldiers or they’re still members of various militia


groups, something like reserve soldiers. It’s compulsory to hire a local ‘militia man’ to accompany you when trekking in the Simiens. They’re approved by the national parks authority to work as scouts and escort you throughout the park, ostensibly to keep you and your possessions safe (though at no point did we feel the ‘man with the gun’ was really needed). The scouts are generally local farmers and take on this role to earn an extra income. The cavalier and nonchalant way in which our scout slung his Kalashnikov over his shoulder didn’t exactly instil us with confidence—but the thought of an armed man walking up the hill behind us with his ancient weapon pointing vaguely in the direction of our butts certainly provided us with the necessary motivation to keep moving! Along with all the spectacular scenery are found several animals endemic to the country. Gelada monkeys, the critically endangered walia ibex (the entire population of which is estimated at approximately 500) and the Ethiopian wolf (the rarest and most endangered canid in the world, with less than 500 left in the wild). Geladas are amazing and intelligent Old World monkeys, sometimes called

bleeding-heart monkeys due to the patches of hairless skin on their chest which turn crimson when females are in oestrus; the males have vampire-like canines that they bare frequently, and golden manes that wouldn’t look out of place in a shampoo commercial. Once found all over Africa and into the Mediterranean and Asia, according to fossil records, they’re now found only in the mountains of Ethiopia. With their falsetto cries, explosive barks and soft grunts, they have one of the most varied repertoires of all the primates. Grazing primarily on grass, these noisy herds are easy to follow—except at night when they disappear over the edge of the steep cliffs to sleep on tiny ledges out of the way of leopards and other predators. We could happily have spent hours watching them. We also saw the ibex and heard the wolf (though, sadly, never saw it); given the heights we climbed, we had the rare vantage point of looking down on a variety of kites, eagles and vultures—including the lammergeyer, whose old name, ossifrage, means ‘bone breaker’, as the bird drops animal bones from great heights to smash them open and reach the marrow inside. Ethiopia has much more to offer than just mountains and spectacular scenery,

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ABOVE: Gich Camp in Simien Mountains National Park INSET: Post-trek, pre-shower ‘glamour shot’

though. Going back in time, we travelled to the town of Bahir Dar to visit the 14th century Ethiopian Orthodox monastery of Ura Kidane Mehret on Lake Tana. It’s an uninspiring building from the outside, but as we crossed the threshold we were blown away by the 700-year-old paintings that covered every inch of the interior walls. Created by monks using only natural pigments, crushed berries and plants, the paintings are a spectacular depiction of biblical scenes and Ethiopian mythology that have survived the ravages of time. Even more remarkable were the ruins at Gondar, 175km from Bahir Dar. Nestled in the foothills of the Simien Mountains, Gondar was the ancient capital of Ethiopia. Sometimes referred to as the “Camelot of Africa”, it has an impressive royal enclosure of castles and palaces all dating back to the 1600s. Nearby there’s the church of Debre Birhan Selassie, with its walls decorated with paintings of biblical scenes and the ceiling painted with beautiful angels. To top it all was Lalibela in the mountains of northern Ethiopia. Here we visited the 11 medieval churches, all over 800 years old and carved by hand out of solid rock—with, as myth has it, the help of angels. Emperor Lalibela started the construction of these churches after living for some time in Jerusalem. Following that city’s capture by Muslim forces in 1187, legend has it that the emperor was instructed in a dream to recreate the splendours of Jerusalem in Ethiopia. Centuries after its creation, Lalibela has lost none of its power to awe; even more incredible is that, despite their age, the churches are still tended by white-robed priests who speak Ge’ez (an ancient


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Semitic tongue), with hermits still living in tiny caves in the walls of the courtyards and people praying there every day. To millions of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, though, Axum is the most sacred city, where the country’s most precious religious object—the Ark of the Covenant (believed by Orthodox Ethiopians to be the original sacred chest of the Hebrews)—is housed. We didn’t have time to get there on this trip, but it’s definitely on our list for next time. Without really checking into the finer details, we decided to hike from our hotel in Lalibela, at an altitude of 2 600m, to the famous 12th century Asheten Maryam monastery towering over the town at a height of 4 000m. About halfway up, I glimpsed a road that seemed to be heading in roughly the same direction. I asked the guide where it led and he replied, straight-faced, “To the monastery.” Upon hearing this, my husband, who’s an ‘exercise avoider’ of note, muttered under his breath: “If I get to the top and there’s a McDonald’s and a car park, this guy will not be getting a bloody tip!” Climbing through local villages, we were nearly always greeted with calls of “Selamta!” (welcome), and for a while we were accompanied by an old man wrapped in a ‘repurposed’ Ethiopian Airlines blanket, herding his donkey up the mountain. He derived great enjoyment from my husband’s red-faced huffing and puffing, and from time to time would place an arm around his shoulders and chuckle with delight at some joke of his own. There was no McDonald’s at the top, but there was indeed a small place for vehicles to park, about a 15-minute walk

from the monastery. It was still a bit of a precarious march along the edge of the cliff and a slight scramble to get from the ‘car park’ to the top, but the views over Lalibela and countryside were worth the effort. The monastery was the first of the famous Lalibela churches on which construction began, though the last to be finished. Daily, about 20 tourists come by bus and climb the last stretch to the monastery—and usually only one or two people a day are foolish enough to walk the five-hour round trip like us! When we got back down, it took two beers and lunch to restore my husband’s spirits. Ethiopia is an experience like no other, with stunning scenery, rare wildlife, warm people, and intriguing ancient culture and history. Well worth an entry on your bucket list. We were fortunate to have our travels impeccably organised by Shif Asrat of simientrek.com, who not only seamlessly arranged all our logistics but also offered accommodation at his Limalimo Lodge, sustainable luxury accommodation on the edge of the escarpment overlooking the Simien Mountains National Park (see www.limalimolodge.com). We flew Ethiopian Airlines, and it’s worth noting that if you arrive in Ethiopia on an Ethiopian Airlines international flight, you’re eligible for up to 40% discount on your domestic flights with the airline.



The Intrepid Explorer


www.intrepidexplorer.co.za • 1st Quarter Edition 2016 R29.90 Incl. VAT

Live the the life life of of adventure adventure Live


BIG IN THIS EDITION Luxury getaways worth over

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Mark Beaumont bikes the length of the continent

ON A WING AND A PRAYER Flying a 1930s biplane from Norway toCape Town


Meals on the go with Justin Bonello Also featuring Braam Malherbe and Barry Hilton

a team for life Power couple Ryan and Vanessa Sandes share their love of sport

or visit www.intrepidexplorer.co.za to download the link

1st Quarter Edition 2016

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› OF ANIMALS AND ALOES – On safari in the Eastern Cape › PICTURE PERFECT – The life of a Nat Geo photo assistant › OFF THE COUCH – Conquering the treacherous Mt Manaslu › OUT OF THIS WORLD – Mozambique’s Quilalea Private Island › CONSERVATION ON THE EDGE – From UK to India in a Landy Defender


team A


Miriam Mannak chats to husband and wife, Ryan Sandes and Vanessa Haywood, whose love of sports and the outdoors brought them together

He a trail runner and she an avid mountain biker, the couple have been travelling the world together and supporting each other through thick and thin. And it all began at a race in Knysna…


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13


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future focus

Simple steps to stick to your 2016 resolutions

Starting a new diet? Deciding to quit smoking? Planning to save more? The first part of the year is a natural landmark for choosing goals. Whether or not you call this goal ‘setting a resolution’, most of us will have tried to maintain these. Here are some of the most popular resolutions you can make in 2016 and some great ways to achieve them—with some help from Vitality! Resolution 1: Get fit Getting fit is often the number 1 resolution, because exercise is so good for you. Not only can it help you to lose or maintain your weight, but it can also reduce stress, improve sleep quality and improve your overall health. You have so many options to choose from when it comes to improving fitness levels.  Do you enjoy working out by yourself? Gyms are a great way to get fit, especially if you prefer to put in your favourite beats and zone out while doing so. Join one of Vitality’s partner gyms—Virgin Active, Planet Fitness or Curves— for great discounts.  Do you love to work out in a group? If you prefer the outdoors and like to work out with others, a parkrun is a great way to start your weekend. For those who really want to get sweating, try one of our Vitality Fit partners: Adventure Boot Camp, CrossFit or S.W.E.A.T. 1000. If you’re learning to run, or prefer walking, Run/Walk For Life is a great choice for you.  Do you prefer races? Running and cycling events are a great way to challenge yourself to exercise, by giving you a concrete goal to work toward. Join SA’s most popular running and cycling club, Team Vitality, for discounts on gear and cash backs on races to help you get fitter—quicker. Resolution 2: Save more, spend less One of the best ways to ensure you’re saving more is to reduce the amount you already spend on certain key items. In addition to getting cash back for your healthy choices by using your Discovery Card at Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Clicks, Dis-Chem, TotalSports and Sportsman’s Warehouse, you can also save money by getting active with Vitality Active Rewards. Download the latest version of the Discovery app and activate Active Rewards. We’ll set you personalised weekly fitness goals and we’ll reward you for achieving them. You’ll earn a free drink with KAUAI or vida e caffè when you attain your weekly goal, but you can also earn up to 100% off monthly gym fees. Simply activate the Gym Booster on the Vitality Active Rewards page, and achieve your goals to earn up to 25% cash back on your monthly gym fees. Resolution 3: Eat better This is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, because we all know we should eat more healthily. There’s so much dietary advice out there that it can be very confusing to figure out what’s best for you and your family. Vitality has made eating healthier easier with the HealthyFood benefit and our partners, Pick n Pay and Woolworths. When you activate the benefit, you can get up to 25% cash back on healthy foods at your preferred partner, and up to 10% back at the other partner. In store, all the foods on our HealthyFood list are marked with the Vitality HealthyFood icon to make shopping for healthy foods simple.


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Resolution 4: Stop smoking Quitting smoking has innumerable benefits including reducing your risk for certain cancers, extending your life, increasing your energy, improving your heart health, and reducing the risk to your loved ones. Despite these important reasons to quit, it’s very difficult to do it by yourself. To help you quit, Vitality has partnered with one of the most successful smoking-cessation programmes in the world: Allen Carr’s Easyway. It’s endorsed by the Cancer Association of South Africa—and if you join the programme through Vitality, you save 80%. Resolution 5: Celebrate your successes When life’s moving at breakneck speed, you often forget to stop and celebrate the moments when you achieve something. Attaining your weekly Vitality Active Rewards goal is worth celebrating, which is why we give you a free drink with KAUAI or vida e caffè for every week when you’re successful. If two of your friends in your Active Rewards team also achieve their goal, you can celebrate their success, too, with an additional reward. Resolution 6: Spend more time with loved ones 2015 was a bumper year for movies, and 2016 promises to be just as good. Taking in the latest blockbuster with friends and family is a great way to spend some time with them. If your New Year’s resolution is to enjoy the company of the most important people in your life more often, do it for less by activating Vitality’s Ster-Kinekor benefit. Watch massively discounted movies—and remember, Vitality kids can watch movies for free! Resolution 7: Prioritise your health Knowing your health statistics is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you can take the steps you need to stay healthy. Start with finding out your Vitality Age, and then complete your Mental Wellbeing and Online Vitality Fitness Assessments. We’ve also made it easier for you to complete your Vitality Health Check, Fitness Assessment and Nutrition Consultation by having a network of professionals you can visit. Get screened, take steps to prevent certain illnesses, and have a dental health check-up. Earn thousands of points and learn about your health by doing these assessments. Whatever your resolutions, it’s now so much easier to achieve them with Vitality and our benefits. Get fitter, get healthier, and continue being rewarded with Vitality in 2016! For more info on Discovery Vitality benefits and partners, or to activate any of the benefits, visit www.discovery.co.za.




for lunch? Make packing a nutritious lunch fun and rewarding for the whole family

Vitality understands that modern-day pressures often mean parents may be too busy to even think about healthy lunch-box options for their kids. The solution frequently becomes the quick-and-easy (but unhealthy) pre-packaged meals and snacks from the checkout aisle.


hanks to Vitality, you can now choose from a range of dietitian-approved lunch options on www.discovery.co.za to make this important task easier. Once you’ve selected your favourite meal suggestion, you can shop for all the ingredients you’ll need online—from the comfort of your home. Not only will planning lunches be that much easier, but you’ll also get rewarded with up to 25% cash back on the lunch-box ingredients with HealthyFood. All you need to do is activate the HealthyFood benefit, choose either Pick n Pay or Woolworths as your main partner, complete all the necessary assessments, and you’ll be on your way to healthy and easy lunch options for your family. Visit www.discovery.co.za for more great ideas on how to keep you and your family eating healthily.


No time? No worry! When you’re short on time, here are fast and simple ways to include healthy foods into your child’s lunch box:  A healthy, balanced lunch can include a low-fat yoghurt, a handful of berries, a small packet of baby carrots, and a few slices of lean ham and salad on a whole-wheat roll.  After dinner, pack the leftovers into your child’s lunch box—such as beans, meat and salad, or other healthy options. You’ll be ready for the next day in a flash.  After a roast, you can use the leftover meat and wrap it up in a whole-wheat tortilla or pop into a pita pocket with grated carrot, lettuce, tomato and a slice of avocado for a healthy lunch-box meal. If you’re vegetarian, you can switch out the meat for low-fat cheese or hummus.

On-the-go energy snacks for you and your kids  Swap fried chips, crisps and other commercially prepared snacks for baked chips, air-popped popcorn, trail mix or a small handful of dried fruit. These are mobile snacks that can be eaten on the go, if needed.  Veggie sticks and Rosa tomatoes with low-fat dip, cottage cheese or hummus make great crunchy snacks with added fibre.  Pack a ¼ cup of salt-free, dry-roasted nuts or seeds to provide a high-protein snack with a good dose of essential fatty acids.  Yoghurt makes an excellent snack. Choose reduced-fat yoghurts, or make your own with low-fat plain yoghurt and add chopped fresh fruit. Always look for yoghurts containing probiotics; these are great for gut health.  Don’t forget the fresh fruit. A piece of banana, orange, apple, pear or a handful berries is easy to transport, takes no preparation, and provides a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



in full force Braam Malherbe learns some new techniques in advanced field ranger training to get ahead of poachers

I recently attended an advanced field ranger training programme at the Southern African Wildlife College near Hoedspruit in the Limpopo province. What was extra-special for me was having a one-on-one course with Clive van Rooyen, arguably one of the top instructors in clandestine counter-poaching operations. I always say, if you want to increase your skills and up your game, then find the best to learn from.


m privileged to have grown up in the African bush. I’m humbled to have walked alongside legends like my mentor and friend, the late Dr Ian Player. I’m inspired to walk alongside game rangers who, for the most part, eke out a meagre wage while remaining committed to protecting the last of the world’s wilderness. That is priceless. So, what is advanced field ranger training all about? As the name suggests, rangers need to be ahead of poachers at all times—both in technique and knowledge—if we are to win the rhino war. They must be able to react to a dangerous situation with force and confidence. Confidence can only be gained through knowledge and implementation of the knowledge. My course comprised a number of important components: handgun training, in particular working inside the ’10-inch power window’, keeping the weapon close to your body when changing magazines and before firing (your arms are stronger when not extended); automatic weapon usage, including sniper training (day and night); maps, GPS and Google Earth (utilising technology to its maximum);


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

cover (what cover to use, when); camouflage (understanding what gives you away); firing an automatic weapon while moving toward a target; tracking (this went way beyond spoor identification and included establishing a temporary base without being detected, as well as observation posts); stalking (why it’s important to get close to the enemy undetected to gather intelligence); and actual deployment in the bush (putting into practice all that was learnt). Some of the training I really enjoyed. Back in the day when I was originally trained, GPS didn’t exist. I had a compass and a map, usually at 1:50 000. Van Rooyen brought me up to speed by showing why it’s important to use every bit of technology at your disposal. “If you’re not doing that, be sure the poachers are,” he explained. So, he asked me to mark a point on the map, find the coordinates and enter them into the GPS. Once done, I had to go into Google Earth and enter the same co-ordinates. Suddenly I had a clear and close-up view of the area. Unlike with the map, I could see the topography, rivers, paths and dwellings in way more detail. Furthermore, I could begin to calculate what the enemy may be doing, where they

may enter, and where their escape route may be. “Intelligence is everything,” said Van Rooyen. “Never forget that.” I thought I knew pretty much everything about camouflage and stealth in the bush… until I met Clive! “There are many things to understand about detection and non-detection, but a few of the main points are the four S’s and an M: Shadow, Silhouette, Sound, Size and Movement. A strange shadow that’s not in line with the area is a dead giveaway. It doesn’t help if you’re using a tree for cover but your shadow is clearly visible,” he explained. “Likewise, a bush hat shaped like a square tin against a broken horizon is a no-no. Always break outlines with camo. “Talking in the bush while on patrol or while at an OP [observation post] is foolish and dangerous. Sound can give you away—but also [give] the poachers [away]. The more silent you are, the more you’ll hear. “And size is important. Don’t walk tall in open ground. Fit in with your terrain. Also, don’t move unnecessarily. It’s one of the biggest giveaways, especially in the heat of the day. Often, we’ll watch giraffes because they’re very inquisitive animals. In the heat, animals seek shade and lie low. Only a



human will move in the heat. Poachers want to get their rhino horn and get out of the park as quickly as possible. If the giraffes suddenly all stare in one direction for a period, something is moving. Quite often, it’s humans,” Van Rooyen added. The old system of ‘fire and movement’, while still effective, usually relies on a decent number of people. Let’s assume there are four rangers on patrol and they detect poachers. Generally, when closing in on them, persons one and three will rapidly move forward a few metres while persons two and four provide cover fire. Two and four then rush forward while

OPPOSITE PAGE: Modern tactical combat weapons have moved away from traditional sighting to occluded-eye gunsights—providing improved peripheral vision THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ready for deployment—the gators around the pants legs are for stopping pepper ticks; Charcoal darkens the face, while hessian camouflages the head and rifle; The gun sling allows for easy movement with the rifle at 180 degrees; Kit includes a R1 rifle, range-finder binoculars, infrared night vision, rations and plenty of water


cover fire is provided by persons one and three. But what happens when there are only two rangers? This is where ‘goose step’ comes in. Person one moves, taking small, heel-placed steps in order to remain stable, while firing constantly. Person two now out-flanks the poachers, whose heads are clearly down. Then, it was time for deployment. Van Rooyen and I headed out to our OP late in the afternoon (as the day had been a scorching 44°C with high humidity). We’d established our position on Google Earth earlier; a high point on a small peninsula with a white, sandy riverbed in front of us and a smaller tributary sand bed on our right. Using night-vision monocular and infrared sighting, we took two-hour shifts through the night. No luck that evening. While on patrol the next day, we walked straight into a young bull elephant. I knew the drill: Speak assertively and raise your weapon above your head; don’t shout. The raised weapon creates a shape that the elephant doesn’t recognise. We’re in the animal’s ‘critical zone’, where it’s fight or flight. He came in closer, some 15m. “Nee… nee… nee…,” said Van Rooyen. The bull stood his ground, tall and proud, and

then sniffed the ground. He then nonchalantly stepped back a metre and sniffed some leaves. The tension subsided and he moved away. What a special moment! It’s for this reason I do what I do. I’m obligated to protect the incredible, unique biodiversity that has evolved for about 3.4 billion years on Earth. Not only does it teach me fundamental life lessons like the importance of interdependence and the value of respect for all life, but it invites me—as the head of the food chain—to be its protector and not its persecutor. This is one of the key messages I share in my motivational talks. Thank you to the Southern African Wildlife College and Clive van Rooyen, but mostly, thank you to the men and women on the ground. You’re the front line in this rhino war, and I salute you. If you’d like to make a positive contribution toward saving our rhino from extinction, please get a MyPlanet card for free at any Woolworths store. Nominate the MyPlanet Rhino Fund as your beneficiary and know that every time you swipe the card, Woolworths donates money to the fund. Be part of the solution!

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13


Pride of Africa, Etosha


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13





In this edition of The Intrepid Explorer, we showcase some of the masterful works by stylised wildlife photographer, Klaus Tiedge


LENS The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




orn in Germany in the mid1960s, Klaus Tiedge’s career as a commercials and fashion photographer saw him shooting in many locations around the world, including New York, London, New Delhi, Tokyo and São Paulo. But it was Cape Town that caught his attention in the late ’90s, when the city was at its prime as a sought-after photographic location. In 2001, Tiedge and his wife Sandra made South Africa their permanent home. Over the next seven years, travelling to many parts of the country and elsewhere in southern Africa exposed him to the hugely diverse and beautiful landscapes of the subcontinent. As a result, he made the move to nature and wildlife photography. Now one of the continent’s leading stylised wildlife photographers, Tiedge consistently produces work that combines the freshness of Africa’s people and animals in their natural environments with his precise Teutonic touch, giving his shots a revitalised cover feel. His signature desaturated colouring perfectly showcases the region’s spectacular natural beauty, whether it is storm clouds building up over the Okavango or smouldering sunsets over Etosha.

“Nature has a way of being incredibly unpredictable,” Tiedge says. “I can sit for hours, sometimes days and even up to weeks at a time, trying to capture that perfect moment in the bush— when an animal’s pose, breathtaking light, a perfectly balanced background and a dramatic setting all come together in one single focus. “Whether portraying her people or animals in their natural environment, I find that Africa is good for my soul. It is rich, genuine and satisfying,” he adds. In 2012, he published a spectacular coffee-table book of 75 breathtaking images of wildlife in locations around sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Botswana and Namibia. Tiedge’s work can be found in some of the world’s finest galleries including Hamburg Kennedy Photographs in New York and the Photographers’ Gallery in Los Angeles, plus Saatchi Art Online. Locally, his artwork can be found in the Martin Osner Fine Art Gallery in Cape Town and the Imbizo Gallery in Durban. His “Pride of Africa” retinue includes wildlife photography plus two additional collections: the Portrait Collection documenting women, children and men from the Herero, Himba and Zemba tribes, as well as the Kiburi Portrait Collection featuring the Maasai, San and Himba. Tiedge’s work, printed on fine-art German etching paper in a variety of sizes, can be ordered online at www.klaustiedge.com.

Reverence, Etosha


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Tribes of Himba, Ngupa, Namibia


Alliance, Maasai Mara

Matriarch, Etosha


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Monarch of Lewa 1, Kenya

Ethnicity, Etosha Plains


on the

wild side Here’s the inside scoop on the outside world! We look at some of the astounding feats accomplished by intrepid explorers young and old; the latest developments and products and upcoming events in which you, The Intrepid Explorer reader, can become involved. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make the most of the outdoors! Compiled by Robbie Stammers

SUPER SHARK SHOTS Rated the biggest underwater photography competition, World ShootOut Underwater Photo Grand Prix Competition 2015 closed its entries at the end of last year and winners from all over the globe were announced live on stage in January at Germany’s annual boot Trade Fair in Düsseldorf after a gruelling six-week judging process. There is reportedly no other underwater photography competition that attracts such a significant number of entries, nor offers such spectacular prizes. Hundreds of photographers from countries around the world take part each year in the World ShootOut competition, and thousands of images were submitted last year. Entrants from Germany, France, Slovakia, the United States and Belgium were just some of the countries that participated in the Sharks Category. Ugu South Coast Tourism (UGSCT) came on board as one of the main prize partners of the prestigious Sharks Category, offering a 14-day trip for two to the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom, KwaZulu-Natal—valued at $6 000. The action-packed prize included international flights, two dives per day on the famous Protea Banks with African Dive Adventures, and daily dives on Aliwal Shoal with Crystal Divers SA. Many UGSCT members also generously contributed with accommodation, activity and meal sponsorships. Said UGSCT CEO Justin Mackrory, “We see this campaign as an excellent opportunity— not only to showcase our diverse destination and our two world-class dive sites but as a way to interact directly with the diving and adventure fraternity and with all those who treasure nature as much as we do. We would like to extend our congratulations to the winner, Tanya Houppermans [winning photo pictured above] and look forward to


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welcoming her and her husband on their forthcoming dream trip.” Based in the US, Tanya lives outside Washington, DC. She said, “My husband and I are very adventurous. In fact, we both used to teach skydiving, so looking at the South Coast itinerary, we cannot believe our luck. Action, adventure, diving—and with such diverse experiences on offer. Neither of us has ever been to South Africa (or anywhere in Africa), so this truly is a bucket-list dream come true. We are thrilled to be able to participate in this adventure!” John Miller from Umkomaas, who owns a shark-cage diving business on the KZN South Coast, was also a finalist in the Sharks Category.

For more information and to see the winning images, go to www.worldshootout.org.




when the going

Double-Up Mzansi Style is a travel and lifestyle show that takes viewers across South Africa to discover the hidden treasures of our myriad landscapes. The new show is hosted by Mzansi’s biker queen Seipei Mashugane and her travel companion and internationally acclaimed comedian, Tats Nkonzo. The show focuses on unearthed and amazing features in all nine of South Africa’s provinces. The aim is to entice viewers to take their own trips and discover more about their beautiful home country. Each week, Seipei and Tats open up the throttle on a sidecar motorbike to explore some of the extraordinary attractions that each province boasts. Mashugane is a 34-year-old mother of two who has an undeniable enthusiasm for motorbikes and the open road. Known as the Biker Queen (also the name of her business), she has managed to make a livelihood out of this passion, combined with events and public relations. Born in Soweto, her goal is to strengthen the biking community in her hometown and to inspire and enrich other females. Nkonso is a stand-up comedian, singer, musician and TV personality best known for hosting SA’s Got Talent.

gets tough

Double-Up Mzansi Style airs on e.tv every Monday at 20h30.

Go to wonadventure.co.za/transkei-tuff for further details.

Scouting around an area you’re only somewhat familiar with, it’s magical to grasp the possibilities such a place has to offer. The perfect playground for any adventure racer is the Transkei. Its true beauty lies beyond the famous Kei River ferry, where the pure rawness of culture and soil meets the beauty of the Wild Coast. Unlike most events that occur along the Wild Coast, the Merrell Transkei Tuff adventure race takes teams of two or four through magical canopied terrain, onto exquisite waterfalls, swims in rivers surrounded by steep canyon walls and along magnificent beaches. “The Wild Coast has an abundance of raw beauty—and as organisers of the Merrell Transkei Tuff, it has been a case of piecing together these magnificent landmarks where we are showcasing these unforgettable places to athletes from all around South Africa,” shares adventure photographer and race organiser, Bruce Viaene. The host of this awesome event, Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa, will house the teams from 26 to 28 February 2016. The 150-kilometre, 24-hour race will feature a snorkelling leg, flat-water paddling leg, a trekking leg, swimming leg and mountain biking leg that will send the Merrell Transkei Tuff teams into the rural lands surrounding the Wavecrest area.

A swell prize! In our last edition, we offered one reader the chance to win a uniquely crafted surfboard by WaveWorx. We had loads of entries, but the lucky winner was Tamara Krige from Cape Town. Pictured here are (from left to right): Adrian Schroeder and Adriano Folsch from Auric Auto, Tamara Krige with her new surfboard, The Intrepid Explorer publishing editor Robbie Stammers, and WaveWorx’s Justin Healey. Thanks to Auric Auto, ArtLab and WaveWorx.


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LINE-UP FOR MARCH & APRIL 6 March Shortstraw, The Plastics 13 March Al Bairre, Bye Beneco 20 March Zebra & Giraffe, Monark 21 March Fundraiser: Jack Parow, PHFAT 27 March Beatenberg, John Wizards 30 March Of Monsters and Men 1 April Jungle 3 April December Streets, The Vanilla

For tickets, go to www.webtickets.co.za.



Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts are a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Cape Town. The concert venue is within the botanical gardens, with performances every Sunday running up to the beginning of April.

The concerts have a special feel, mainly due to the breathtaking setting. Part of the charm also lies in the warm, friendly and relaxed atmosphere, with concert-goers picnicking on the soft grass banks that slope downward toward the stage.

Nou gaan ons braai! If you haven’t watched Barry Hilton’s hysterically funny and poignant comedy skit about how long South Africans take to start braaiing, then you’re missing out! The clip has been watched over 600 000 times on YouTube, and the tally keeps climbing. Off the back of this skit’s success, Barry and his wife Sandy have opened up an online shop at www.mycousin.co.za where you can purchase all sorts of “Nou Gaan Ons Braai!” goodies: from T-shirts and Zippo lighters to portable braai shades. An absolutely perfect gift for any serious braaier. (Check out Barry’s Last Word on page 104 of this edition.)


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MOUNTAIN An excellent way to enjoy the concert is to pack a delicious picnic basket, bring along friends and family, and find a spot on the Kirstenbosch slopes. The concerts are very popular, so get there early to ensure you get a good spot.



NOT MILD The first Tiger’s Milk restaurant opened in December 2014, bringing much-needed buzz and delicious food to Muizenberg’s Surfer’s Corner. The glass-fronted 220-seater offers panoramic views of the bay, and the Harbour House design team’s eclectic retro biker-chic interior is a visual blast. Over weekends, Tiger’s Milk Muizenberg draws fun seekers of all ages, with a great selection of local craft beer complementing the mood and the food. A menu consisting of mostly ribs, burgers, pizzas and steaks—generous portions, perfectly prepared—has quickly become known as “Dude Food”. Spurred by the success of Tiger’s Milk in Muizenberg, a second branch opened in July 2015 on Long Street, in the heart of Cape Town’s hippest hood. Smaller in size, Tiger’s on Long gives sexy expression to the design team’s flair for creating hip, sumptuous interiors without regurgitating clichés. The same Dude Food menu works its magic, with bluegrass, funk and old-school tunes adding to the mellow but not mild vibe. Steam-punkish brass beer taps in the main dining area are cool, but nothing beats the Tiger’s Milk and Part Wolf craft beer taps—fashioned from the refurbished petrol tanks of vintage motorbikes. Additional branches will be opening soon in Claremont, Century City and Stellenbosch.   Check out tigersmilk.co.za/muizenberg or email: muizenberg@tigersmilk.co.za.

will you be the next king

of the berg? The X-Berg Challenge is a unique concept: The challenge is to fly, run or cycle through preset ‘dots/turn-points’ that sketch out a flexible route in the mighty Drakensberg. The length of the race is measured according to the straight line connecting the dots or turn points, and is generally in the region of 150km. The first athlete to reach the goal at the end of the route is crowned King of the Berg. The route and race are structured in such a way that cyclists, runners and paragliders are all on an even footing and stand a chance to win outright. Apart from competing against the other disciplines, there are prizes for each class (i.e. first three runners, first three cyclists and first three paragliders or team to finish).

The X-Berg Challenge takes place from 28 April to 1 May 2016. For more information, visit www.xcafrica.com or e-mail: xcafrica@gmail.com.



The Intrepid Explorer issue 13




Umkumbe Safari Lodge A non-perennial river—framed by thickets of lush vegetation and hugged by sandy reed-lined banks—eagerly flows past a humble, authentic and unpretentious lodge located in the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Umkumbe Safari Lodge is an affordable, family-friendly establishment located in one of South Africa’s leading private game reserves within the Greater Kruger. The pristine open savannah grasslands, marula bushveld and mopane scrub provide a diverse ecosystem that is home to the Big Five and a variety of plains game. Sitting in a prime position overlooking the Sand River, Umkumbe takes advantage of its location. The river in front of the lodge attracts a tableau of predators and breeding herds of elephant. A wooden walkway joins the six river-facing rooms to the main area comprising a lounge, bar, outdoor boma and swimming pool.


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In total, there are 10 tastefully decorated rooms. The rim-flow splash pool in the main area on the deck is a highlight. Guests are often seen hanging over the edge of the pool, gin and tonic in hand, watching big herds of buffalo trundling down to the river. Vervet monkeys, genet cats and the occasional warthog visit the main area—making you feel completely cocooned by nature. When you’re not relaxing under cobalt-blue skies in the heat of the shimmering sun on the comfortable wooden deck area, you’ll no doubt be enjoying a game drive led by a professional ranger. There are two game drives per day: You need to head out at first light to catch predators on the prowl, and evening game drives allow you to observe what happens under the cover of darkness. Dining is always a protracted affair, with

dinners being a magnificent time to sit around the campfire and discuss the day’s sightings with fellow guests. In between game drives is your personal time: read a book or watch a congress of hyperactive monkeys darting back and forth at the poolside. Umkumbe is owner-run and managed, so expect your hosts to pop in and enjoy a traditional beer and meal with you. The fireside is an enigmatic experience, a place where the orange flames dance against the black night sky, and where you can warm your blood with a good old South African favourite: brandy and coke. Umkumbe feels like a secret, special spot—where the focus is on game viewing, traditional dining and camaraderie between rangers and guests. Simply put, it’s a slice of safari heaven. See www.umkumbe.co.za for details.



OUT Gondwana PRIVATE Game Reserve

In each edition of The Intrepid Explorer, editor Robbie Stammers shares two travel destinations that should not be missed

For the perfect weekend safari break, with less than a four-hour drive from Cape Town along South Africa’s popular Garden Route, the 11 000-hectare Gondwana Private Game Reserve offers a distinctive and luxurious malaria-free experience. With awe-inspiring views of the Langeberg Mountains wherever you look, the indigenous fynbos vegetation cloaks the undulating valleys. This exclusive reserve offers guests attentive service, superb cuisine, expert game rangers and an array of activities including horseback safaris. World-class tourist facilities and attractions are right on Gondwana’s doorstep, such as championship golf courses, and great swimming and surfing beaches. We loved our afro-chic bush villa, which is one of five luxury villas on the property. These self-catering ‘country homes’ are ideal for families and groups of friends who prefer having their own space with every possible item one could need. Sit on your private stoep, taking in the panoramic views, while being mesmerised by the rich birdlife and bountiful game. See www.gondwanagr.co.za.

Tanzania Uganda Rwanda Zimbabwe Zambia Botswana Ethiopia Kenya



Hike to the summit, including a safari to Ngorongoro/Serengeti.

Mt Nyiragongo

This range straddles the border of Rwanda & DRC. Our expedition includes gorilla trekking.

Take the unique trail to somewhere truly different! Tel: 011 702 2035 or 072 927 7529 Fax: 086 689 6759 reservations@wildfrontiers.com Explorer issue 13 www.wildfrontiers.com The Intrepid www.wildfrontiers.com




Robbie Stammers gives us a guided tour of the new, exciting vehicles that have been spotted on our roads recently

Like the Big 5 in the bush, these vehicles have unique characteristics: some may be featured for their strength and speed, and others for their comfort and size.

Urban adventurer – Opel ADAM ROCKS Opel has added a limited edition derivative of the Opel ADAM to its South African line-up. Inspired by parkour sports, the ADAM ROCKS is about self-expression, combining the resilience and agility of a mini-CUV (cross utility vehicle) with the freedom of open-air driving. The ROCKS expands on the ADAM’s persona, with added details such as a


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

swing-top canvas roof, increased ride height, chunky cladding around the wheel arches and along the sills, and front and rear skid plates. On one hand, it’s a micro-crossover, and on the other a free-spirited baby convertible. The city-chic-meets-country style is apparent on the inside, too, with a high-end sound system, comprehensive infotainment

system and the ability to customise the cabin to satisfy individual tastes. With 225/35/18 tyres, there’s plenty of grip on offer—and the precise, electrically assisted steering means you can accurately judge just how much. For those urban moments, a City Mode increases the power assistance to the steering, making for effortless manoeuvring in traffic. As well as


an endearing off-beat thrum, Opel’s three-cylinder one-litre turbo Ecotec engine gives you more than enough forward thrust: whether you’re making a rapid lane change, cruising from one province to another, or tackling a dusty track to your favourite hiking spot. With impressive headline numbers of 85kW and 170Nm, the engine consumes just 5.0 litres/100km, and emissions are a low 115g/km—meeting the highest

(Euro 6) emission standards. A start/stop engine system ensures you don’t waste any of the amber liquid when waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. With a 6-speed manual box, drivers have the right gear for every condition and occasion from the super-light 37kg transmission. When it comes to traditional safety features, there’s a full house of six airbags, and the all-disc braking system is assisted

by ABS and EBD. While this is certainly a super car with which to nip in and around town, it lets itself down with the incredibly tiny boot space (if you can even call it that). However, with its safety features and economic fuel consumption, this one will prove popular with trendy young adults.

lane control assistant, active side collision protection, Surround View with 3D View, and the Remote Control Parking system. BMW EfficientLightweight helps to reduce the weight of the new 7 Series models by up to 130kg compared to their previous-generation counterparts. At the centre of it all is the body structure with Carbon Core, a product of the transfer of technology from the development of BMW i cars. The new 7 Series is the first car in its segment in which industrially manufactured CFRP combines with steel and aluminium. The intelligent body concept uses this mixed materials approach to increase the strength and rigidity of the passenger cell while at the same time significantly reducing vehicle weight. The 7 Series is available with an

extensively updated V8 engine and six-cylinder in-line variants from the BMW Group’s latest generation of power units. All the engines link up as standard with the likewise further developed 8-speed Steptronic transmission. This car literally flies: It reaches 100km/h in 4.7 seconds, with a claimed top speed of 250km/h. Average fuel consumption is rated at 8.3 litres/100km while CO2 emissions are 194g/km. The manufacturer claims this is the best BMW ever made—and I can’t argue with that. I just wish I could afford one…

Price tag › R273 400

No rival – BMW 7 Series It’s finally arrived on our shores and, boy, has it made an impact already! With its new 7 Series, BMW has redefined what an exclusive, luxurious driving experience looks like in contemporary, pioneering form. Groundbreaking technologies in the areas of lightweight design, powertrains, chassis, operating systems, intelligent connectivity and interior ambience underline its mission to bring together unbeatable driving pleasure and long-distance comfort in a luxury sedan. The handing over of the baton from one generation to the next at the top end of BMW’s model line-up sees the brand presenting a raft of innovations unmatched by any of its rivals. Key factors in enhancing dynamics, efficiency, comfort and safety while on the move are: the use of carbon fibre– reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the body structure; engines from the BMW Group’s new generation of power units; the plug-in hybrid system in the new BMW 740e; the Executive Drive Pro active chassis system; the Driving Experience Control switch with ADAPTIVE mode; and BMW Laserlight. Maximising well-being in the rear compartment, meanwhile, are the Executive Lounge feature with massage function and Vitality Programme, the Sky Lounge Panorama glass roof, the Welcome Light Carpet, the Ambient highlight and a smartphone holder with inductive charging station. Standout innovations in operating system and driver assistance technology include the extension of the iDrive system to include a touch display and BMW gesture control, as well as Touch Command, the new BMW Head-Up Display, crossing traffic warning, the steering and


Price tags › › › ›

BMW 7 Series 730d BMW 7 Series 740i BMW 7 Series 750i BMW 7 Series 750i Li

R1 365 500 R1 339 000 R1 755 000 R1 893 500

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13


HIT T HE ROA D , J AC K Nothing small about it – MINI Cooper S Countryman When you step into the MINI Countryman, you immediately discard the idea of the iconic miniature car we’ve all become accustomed to—this baby has plenty of space! In fact, the Countryman is as long as a VW Golf and considerably taller, yet it’s clearly recognisable as a member of the MINI family: slick and great fun to drive. The Countryman comes with four doors, a large tailgate, five seats and optional all-wheel drive; fuel consumption of 6.6 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 154g/km hone its profile as an all-round talent for versatile mobility and an active lifestyle. Striking accents underscore the distinctive interpretation of the hallmark MINI body design; clear emphasis of the specific dimensions and proportions conveys variable functionality and versatile athletic flair over all terrains; characteristic hexagonal radiator grille in the new design reinforces the presence of the upright front section; and visual underride guard elements for the front and rear apron and side sills now come standard in conjunction with the all-wheel drive system. Inside, the Countryman is pure MINI. A large speedometer in the centre of the dashboard is a key design feature, and

there’s also a digital speed readout at the bottom of the rev counter, mounted in a pod straight ahead of the driver. Four hefty air vents continue the circular theme in what is a sturdy, well-finished and boldly designed dashboard. There are lots of cool techno options too, like the ability to integrate an Apple iPhone or other smartphone with the car’s entertainment system. Simply plug in the phone to access your Facebook and Twitter accounts, or any streaming radio station anywhere in the world. I took the Countryman through its paces on the dirt back-roads of Elgin,

and it performed beyond my widest expectations. Strong engines, excellent handling, a spacious crossover concept and the famous go-kart feeling transform any journey into an adventure—be it for a spontaneous detour into the outback or an extended shopping tour. The new Countryman is the perfect car to flee from the daily grind.

Price tags › MINI Cooper S Countryman Manual › MINI Cooper S Countryman Automatic

R406 000 R424 000

Ruler of the African terrain – Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Shogun The Dakar Rally might have moved to another continent, but that hasn’t stopped Mitsubishi South Africa from upgrading the Pajero Sport for a true African overland adventure. This promise of adventure comes in the form of a special Pajero Sport Shogun 4x4 Auto, which is packed with Africa-ready off-road accessories and extra luxuries at no extra cost to customers. The first hint of the Pajero Sport Shogun’s special nature is its commanding stance, thanks to Geolander all-terrain tyres from Yokohama. The tyres are paired with Mitsubishi-approved heavy-duty front and rear shock absorbers from Tough Dog, the Australian 4x4 outfitter started by legendary rally driver Ed Mulligan. Not satisfied with adding only off-road tyres and shock absorbers, Mitsubishi partnered with Stofpad for custom-fitted underbody protection. Stofpad created


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special heavy-duty protection plates for the engine and gearbox, and fitted each Pajero Sport Shogun with its robust rock-sliders that replace the standard running boards and are anchored in the chassis for durability and true body protection. An off-road snorkel, custom roof rack (with spotlight) from Front Runner and a detachable tow bar complete the overland kit, which ensures every Pajero Sport Shogun will be easily distinguishable—no matter where the owner takes it. Inside the leather-clad cabin, the vehicle is fitted with an extra rubber cargo protector for camping and adventure gear. With all the off-road equipment fitted to Mitsubishi’s exacting showroom standards, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would need further encouragement to head to the bush, mountain or desert—but there’s more. Every new owner of a Pajero Sport Shogun will also receive the latest Garmin GPS Nuvi-cam device preloaded with popular African overland routes and maps, thanks to Maps4Africa. The Pajero Sport is equipped with Mitsubishi’s popular 2.5 Di-D turbodiesel engine in high-power specification. This engine is fitted with a common rail direct-injection diesel system and a variable geometry turbo (VGT), which combine to deliver 131kW of power and 350Nm of torque, which peaks at a low 1 800rpm and remains fully available at 3 500rpm. For the Shogun edition, Mitsubishi has mated this engine to its very popular 5-speed automatic gearbox, with gear-selecting paddles behind the steering wheel. The self-shifting gearbox complements the in-cabin controls for 2- or 4-wheel drive, and for locking the rear differential when engaged in low range. Furthermore, the vehicle is fitted with Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select 4WDsystem offering four driving modes: 2WD, 4WD, 4WD with lockup, and 4WD low-range with lockup. A superb vehicle all round—but not for the faint-hearted when parallel parking this monster.

Price tag › R514 900


Bigger and better – 2016 Toyota RAV4 The latest version of the original compact SUV brings a host of upgrades and new features—not least of all a fresh exterior design. The first thing you’ll notice is its sleek facelift. New LED-equipped headlamps, upper and lower grilles, front bumper and revised mud flaps (on the GX models) simplify the front-end design and reflect the latest Toyota look also seen on the new Auris and Yaris. A slinky tail light design, which features LED lights and no visible reverse lights, sharpens up the rear end while the reshaped lower tailgate and tailgate garnish further emphasise the RAV’s solid stance. All grades of the latest RAV4 have new alloy wheel designs with differing styles dependent on grade: The 17-inch five-spoke design on the GX now has split spokes, while the 18-inch 10-spoke designs are available on the VX models. One of the areas on which Toyota engineers have focused in the updated RAV4 is the sensory quality of the interior. The ambient lighting, materials and the layout of the gearshift area and cup holders have been revised and improved; a storage area for sunglasses has been added into the overhead interior lighting cluster above the windscreen. The ornamentation textures have been made more distinct; and the dials have been improved with the addition of a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display in the instrument binnacle, which shows information on energy usage, vehicle information and customisation options. It’s all co-ordinated with the central 7-inch Toyota Touch 2 touchscreen multimedia system (VX models only), with ergonomically enhanced controls and a new high-resolution screen. The package includes Bluetooth for hands-

free phone calls; a rear-view camera; vehicle information including trip data and climate control profile; as well as management of settings for door locking and lighting. It also enables simple connection of iPods and MP3 players via USB or Bluetooth. Audio system options, such as the radio and CD player, can be controlled using the screen. New safety specification include an auto door-lock system for the GX and VX models, which allows doors to automatically lock once the vehicle reaches a specific speed limit, auto locking retractor seatbelts for the rear centre seats, Trailer Sway Control and an alarm system for the GX models. The powertrain line-up in the latest RAV4 range stays unchanged. As before, it comprises a 107kW 2.0-litre Valvematic petrol engine in two-wheel-drive format, mated to a choice of 6-speed manual or Toyota’s highly advanced Multidrive S transmission that provides drivers with a sporty, sequential 7-speed mode. The 110kW 2.2-litre D-4D diesel engine is coupled with a 6-speed manual (or 6-speed auto) and the all-wheel-drive capabilities of Toyota’s AWD system; while the 132kW 2.5-litre VVT-i petrol unit is married to a 6-speed automatic transmission and AWD. I really enjoyed the new RAV due to its bigger interior and roomier boot space; the only downside was the (bleeping) beeping that the auto boot door made when closing—far too noisy! But a good vehicle otherwise.

Price tags › › › ›

RAV4 2.0 2WD GX 6-speed RAV4 2.0 2WD GX CVT RAV4 2.2 D-4D AWD GX RAV4 2.5 AWD VX

R279 900 R289 900 R359 900 R399 900

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WESTERN CAPE STORES Bayside Mall, Blouberg (021) 556-3861 bayside@capeunionmart.co.za Blue Route Mall, Tokai (021) 712-5979 blueroute@capeunionmart.co.za Canal Walk, Century City (021) 555-2846 canalwalk@capeunionmart.co.za Canal Walk Adventure Centre (021) 555-4629 cwac@capeunionmart.co.za CapeGate Shopping Centre, Brackenfell (021) 982-2000 capegate@capeunionmart.co.za Cavendish Square, Claremont (021) 674-2148 cavendish@capeunionmart.co.za Constantia Village (021) 794-0632 constantia@capeunionmart.co.za Gardens Centre (021) 461-9678 gardens@capeunionmart.co.za Mill Square, Stellenbosch (021) 886-4645stellenbosch@ capeunionmart.co.za Mountain Mill Mall, Worcester (023) 347-1484 worcester@capeunionmart.co.za Paarl Mall (021) 863-4138 paarl@capeunionmart.co.za Somerset Mall (021) 852-7120 somersetwest@capeunionmart.co.za Tygervalley Shopping Centre (021) 914-1441 tygervalley@capeunionmart.co.za V&A Waterfront Quay Four (021) 425-4559 quayfour@capeunionmart.co.za V&A Waterfront Travel & Safari (021) 419-0020 waterfront@capeunionmart.co.za West Coast Mall, Vredenburg (022) 713-4113 weskus@capeunionmart.co.za GARDEN ROUTE Garden Route Mall, George (044) 887-0048 gardenroute@capeunionmart.co.za Knysna Mall (044) 382-4653 knysna@capeunionmart.co.za Langeberg Mall, Mossel Bay (044) 695-2486 mosselbay@capeunionmart.co.za

Hemingways Shopping Centre, East London (043) 726-0908 hemingways@capeunionmart.co.za

NORTH WEST STORES Brits Mall (012) 250-1909 brits@capeunionmart.co.za

Walmer Park Shopping Centre, PE (041) 368-7442 walmer@capeunionmart.co.za

Matlosana Mall, Klerksdorp (018) 462-0711 matlosanamall@capeunionmart.co.za

Vincent Park, East London (043) 726-2900 vincentpark@capeunionmart.co.za

MooiRivier Mall, Potchefstroom (018) 293-1788 mooirivier@capeunionmart.co.za

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Mall@Reds, Centurion (012) 656-0182 redsmall@capeunionmart.co.za Mall of the South, Aspen Hills (011) 682 2361 mallofthesouth@capeunionmart.co.za

Menlyn Park Waterfall Mall, Rustenburg (012) 368-1015 KWAZULU-NATAL STORES (014) 537-3651 menlyn@capeunionmart.co.za Boardwalk Inkwazi Shopping Centre, waterfall@capeunionmart.co.za Nicolway Bryanston Richard’s Bay (011) 706-7573 (035) 789-0321 LIMPOPO STORES nicolway@capeunionmart.co.za boardwalk@capeunionmart.co.za Lephalale Mall Northgate Shopping Centre Galleria Mall, Durban (014) 763-1278 (011) 794-1022 (031) 904-2318 lephalale@capeunionmart.co.za northgate@capeunionmart.co.za galleria@capeunionmart.co.za Mall of the North, Polokwane OR Tambo International Airport Gateway World, Durban (015) 265-1067 (011) 390-3245 (031) 566-5111 mallofthenorth@capeunionmart.co.za ortambo@capeunionmart.co.za gateway@capeunionmart.co.za

Rosebank Mall GAUTENG STORES (011) 442-1959 Atterbury Value Mart, Pretoria rosebank@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 991-3171 atterbury@capeunionmart.co.za Sandton City Midlands Mall, Pietermaritzburg (011) 884-9771 Bedford Centre, Johannesburg (033) 342-0152 sandton@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 615-3097 midlands@capeunionmart.co.za bedford@capeunionmart.co.za The Glen Shopping Centre, Oakdene The Pavilion, Westville (011) 436-1300 Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria (031) 265-1666 theglen@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 460-5511 pavilion@capeunionmart.co.za brooklyn@capeunionmart.co.za The Grove Mall, Pretoria Watercrest Mall, Durban (012) 807-0642 Mall@Carnival, Brakpan (031) 763-1489 thegrove@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 915-0470 watercrest@capeunionmart.co.za carnivalmall@capeunionmart.co.za Vaal Mall, Vanderbijlpark (016) 981-5186 NORTHERN CAPE STORES Centurion Mall vaalmall@capeunionmart.co.za Diamond Pavilion Shopping Mall, (012) 663-4111 Kimberley centurion@capeunionmart.co.za Wonderpark Shopping Centre, Pretoria (053) 832-3846 (012) 549-4203 Clearwater Mall, Roodepoort diamondpavilion@capeunionmart.co.za wonderpark@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 675-0036 Kalahari Mall, Upington clearwater@capeunionmart.co.za Woodlands Boulevard, Pretoria (054) 331-3631 (012) 997-6960 Cradlestone, Krugersdorp kalaharimall@capeunionmart.co.za woodlands@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 662-1530 Kathu Village Mall cradlestone@capeunionmart.co.za (053) 723-2736 BOTSWANA STORES Cresta Shopping Centre kathu@capeunionmart.co.za Francistown, Pick n Pay Centre (011) 478-1913 00267-241-0398 Kuruman Mall cresta@capeunionmart.co.za francistown@capeunionmart.co.za kuruman@capeunionmart.co.za Eastgate Adventure Centre Gamecity Lifestyle Shopping Centre (011) 622-8788 Gaborone FREE STATE STORES egac@capeunionmart.co.za 00267-391-0948 Loch Logan Waterfront, Bloemfontein East Rand Mall, Boksburg gamecity@capeunionmart.co.za (051) 430-0230 (011) 826-2408 lochlogan@capeunionmart.co.za Riverwalk Mall, Gaborone eastrandmall@capeunionmart.co.za 00267-370-0040 Mimosa Mall, Bloemfontein Forest Hill City, Centurion riverwalk@capeunionmart.co.za (051) 444-6060 (012) 668-1030 mimosa@capeunionmart.co.za foresthill@capeunionmart.co.za NAMIBIA STORES Dihlabeng Mall, Bethlehem Maerua Mall, Windhoek Fourways Mall (058) 303-1372 00264-612-20424 (011) 465-9824 dihlabeng@capeunionmart.co.za windhoek@capeunionmart.co.za fourways@capeunionmart.co.za La Lucia Mall (031) 562-0523 Lalucia@capeunionmart.co.za

Greenstone Shopping Centre MPUMALANGA STORES (011) 609-0002 Highveld Mall, Emalahleni greenstone@capeunionmart.co.za The Market Square, Plettenberg Bay (013) 692-4018 (044) 533-4030 highveld@capeunionmart.co.za Heidelberg Mall marketsquare@capeunionmart.co.za (016) 341-2031 i’langa Mall, Nelspruit heidelberg@capeunionmart.co.za (013) 742-2281 EASTERN CAPE STORES ilanga@capeunionmart.co.za Hyde Park Corner Baywest Mall, Port Elizabeth (011) 325-5038 Middelburg Mall (021) 886-5262 hydepark@capeunionmart.co.za (013) 244-1040 baywest@capeunionmart.co.za middelburg@capeunionmart.co.za Irene Village Mall Fountains Mall, Jeffreys Bay (012) 662-1133 Riverside Mall, Nelspruit (042) 293-0005 irene@capeunionmart.co.za (013) 757-0338 fountainsmall@capeunionmart.co.za nelspruit@capeunionmart.co.za Killarney Mall Greenacres Shopping Centre, PE (011) 646-7745 Secunda Mall (041) 363-1504 killarney@capeunionmart.co.za (017) 634-7921 greenacres@capeunionmart.co.za secunda@capeunionmart.co.za


Kolonnade Shopping Centre, Pretoria (012) 548-9811 kolonnade@capeunionmart.co.za

The Grove Mall of Namibia 00264-612-53161 thegrove@capeunionmart.co.za

OUTLET STORES Access Park, Cape Town (021) 674-6398 accesspark@capeunionmart.co.za Woodmead Value Mart, Johannesburg (011) 656-0750 woodmead@capeunionmart.co.za



Looking for the little people Graham Howe goes for a walk on the ghoulish side of the Irish capital


n a recent trip to Dublin, I went to see one of the city’s most macabre sights: the mummies in the crypts of St Michan’s Church, the foundation of which was built in 1095 by the remaining and ostracised Vikings. Pilgrims have come here for centuries to shake hands with the 800-year-old skeleton of a Crusader knight—among the petrified monks, rebels and nuns whose mouldy mortal remains spill out of crumbling old coffins stacked to the ceiling. Peter Condell has been the whimsical curator of the crypts for 20 years. In the midst of my private tour, a party of tourists arrived upstairs. I was left alone in the crypts while he went to fetch his new guests, clanging the ancient trapdoor shut behind him. It gave me the heebie-jeebies! While he was away, I touched the gnarly old fingers of the Crusader, a superstitious ritual to give pilgrims good luck—as well as goose bumps. The locals like to joke, “You never know where that finger’s been.” The bone-dry atmosphere of these limestone crypts has preserved these mummy-like corpses over the centuries. I gazed into the ghoulish crypt of the nationalist rebels of 1798 who were hung, drawn and quartered—and the death mask of their leader Theobald Wolfe Tone stared right back at me over the centuries. A childhood visit to St Michan’s inspired Bram Stoker, one of Dublin’s most famous literary sons, to write his Gothic novel Dracula. Superstitious folk feared being buried alive in medieval times. I’m told the Irish wake has its origins in making sure the corpse will not awake. A stake was often driven through the heart of the newly departed to ensure they really were dead—and some even asked to be buried with bells in case they woke up from a narcoleptic coma. Shades of Edgar Allan Poe...


I headed over to the crypts of Christ Church Cathedral, which harks back a thousand years to the days of the Viking conquest. I spotted a statue of Strongbow, the legendary Anglo-Norman warrior king who invaded Ireland in 1170. According to local myth, the small figure carved in stone next to Strongbow is his son; dad cut Littlebow in half with his mighty sword for being cowardly in battle. The comical skeletons of “Tom and Jerry”, the mummified remains of a cat chasing a mouse, found trapped inside the giant organ pipes in the 1860s, are one of the holy relics on display. And at the evocative old cemetery of Glasnevin, I dropped in for a pint at John Kavanagh’s—known as The Gravediggers pub, because these workers used to knock on the back wall to order a pint, which was served through a hole in the wall between the graveyard and the pub. On my walkabout, I stepped into the fairy-tale world of the National Leprechaun Museum (only in Ireland). One of Dublin’s newer attractions, it is set in the atmospheric old city morgue. Entering the land of the leprechauns through a psychedelic giant’s tunnel feels like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. The resident storyteller led us into the giant’s lair, where we climbed into enormous chairs to experience the scale of humans from the little people’s perspective. Standing around a wishing well, curator Mark Gieran talked about the folklore of little people around the world—from the South African tokoloshe to elves and sprites. I learnt there are many kinds of good and bad little people in Ireland: from banshees (a female spirit who shrieks and wails under your window, foretelling death) to fairies and even mischievous leprechauns who steal your whiskey while you’re not looking, leaving you with an

empty glass or bottle. I’ve met a few of those thirsty little folk. I was advised to keep an eye out for little people in Ireland, and always to put salt on my food—an old Irish trick to keep those mischievous fairies at bay. Apparently, boys under the age of five are most at risk of being kidnapped by the fairies, which is why superstitious country folk used to dress their young boys up in dresses to fool the fairies. (After you turn six, it’s a lifestyle choice.) In a murder trial years ago, the accused reportedly said in his defence: “The fairies made me do it!” If you do come across a leprechaun, you only get to ask one question: “Where’s the pot of gold?” You have to keep eye contact, or they disappear in a puff of smoke! Those wily leprechauns only ever carry one shilling in their purse, and never reveal the source of the big stash. Many farmers never cut down the old hawthorn trees in their fields, because the fairies are believed to live there in a “fairy rath” (hill fort). I ended up at The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin, founded in 1198. Storytellers tell tales about Irish folklore. “There are three levels of truth in Ireland: things that are true, things that are not true, and things that should be true.” You can decide what’s what. Graham Howe was a guest of Tourism Ireland. Call 011 463 1132, or visit www.ireland.com and www.vistdublin.com.

The Intrepid Explorer issue 13



We joke around with “my cousin”, comedian Barry Hilton › What are the top destinations on your ‘bucket list’ of places to which you’d like to travel?

› What is the most memorable experience you have had with wildlife?

India and Egypt.

Being stuck in the middle of a herd of 200 elephants in the Addo Elephant Park.

› Which favourite places have you already ticked off your bucket list? Hong Kong, Seychelles, Singapore, Tasmania and Las Vegas.

› What is the weirdest food or drink you have ever tried? Crocodile burgers on a chartered boat off the coast of northern Australia. They were saltwater crocodiles, so we didn’t have to season the burgers.

› Are you an adrenaline junkie? Ever tried shark-cage diving, bungee jumping, parachuting, abseiling? Not regularly, but I’ve done all the usual stuff. Recently I broke two toes landing on rocks while kitesurfing. Very battered and bruised. Luckily enough, all the other adrenaline adventures I’ve tried—like shark-cage diving, paragliding, scuba diving, abseiling, deep-sea fishing, zip-lining, quad biking and canoeing (12 kilometres off the coast of Mozambique while fishing)—have ended well. Oh, and I’ve walked through Joburg CBD on a couple of occasions and emerged unharmed.

› If you consider your upbringing, were/are you a bush baby or a city slicker? City slicker.

› Braai or sushi? Braai, of course. I braai everything. I braai at least three times a week. When I’m on the road touring my shows, I stick to sushi, though.


The Intrepid Explorer issue 13

› If you were stuck on a desert island, would you know how to make a fire without matches, and how to catch dinner? Duh, this is the 21st century! I’d buy a kettle braai on Amazon and get it delivered by drone.

› If it were up to you, what should be done to the people running the rhino horn trade? Pull out their fingernails every time they grow. The only way to stop the trade is for everyone to stop buying anything made in China.

› Beer or wine? I’m inclined to say beer—but I live in Hermanus now and wine drinking is compulsory here. Another glass, please, barman!

[in 2013]. Since then, other highlights have been being invited to perform in Las Vegas [he was the first South African to headline four shows at the prestigious comedy club, The Improv, at Harrah’s Caesars Palace]; and performing in Australia in January this year at venues such as the iconic Sydney Opera House. What are three key qualities that you believe make a great comedian? Timing; fresh, topical material; and a never-say-die attitude.

Camping or luxury lodge? Camping. Who was your comedic inspiration while growing up? Were you a joker from a young age? Richard Pryor is my hero. And yes, I’ve always been funny. I never got picked on by bullies. What has been the highlight of your comedy career? Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the SA Comics’ Choice Awards

With six children, is planning a holiday and travel a tough task? Holiday? What’s a holiday? You now have your own line of clothing and merchandise with the My Cousin online shop. What else can we expect in the new year? My shop has proved such a success that we’re hoping to license it out as a franchise. What is Barry Hilton’s life motto? If you’re too scared to fail, don’t try.


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The Intrepid Explorer - 1st quarter 2016  

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