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Explorer

Launch edition

The Intrepid

Summer 2012/13

Live the life of Adventure

ice ice baby Amazing Antarctica

sailing the seven seas with Mike Horn

On Safari

with Spud Something fishy

Cooking with Justin Bonello

in the footprints of the

africa’s greybeard

elephant whisperer

Holgate’s journey around

Mama Afrika Our Intrepid Contributors

• Braam Malherbe • Dr Ian Player • Ryan Sandes • Ronnie Muhl

• WIN A TRIP FOR TWO TO LUXURIOUS THULA THULA WORTH R10 000! • SECLUDED SECRETS – THE TOP 10 CAMPING VENUES • YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME – ALL YOU NEED The official Cape Union Mart magazine • YOUR BEST SUMMER BUYS OF THE SEASON


contents 08

Foreword  Andre Labuschaigne, Cape Union Mart CEO

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Editor’s Note A New Adventure

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Sailing the Seven Seas “The Pangaea Expedition” is Mike Horn’s most exciting adventure yet

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 A Penguin In My

Passport

Follow Graham Howe’s expedition to the last great wilderness, Antarctica

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On Safari With Spud

King of the Continent E ditor Robbie Stammers chats with Kingsley Holgate, Greybeard of African Adventure

Shamwari Game Reserve gives John van de Ruit much to write about

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Secluded Secrets Laurianne Claase lifts the canvas on the top wilderness camping sites in SA

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In Search of Nana Robbie Stammers visits Thula Thula to pay homage to The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony, and his precious pachyderms

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Hook, Line and Sinker Join celebrity chef Justin Bonello for a fishy feast around the fire

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C on ten ts

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Road Trippin’ Follow Ryan Sandes’ example: pack your bags and hit the road for a memorable (and affordable) South African adventure

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A Family Affair These holiday destinations are firm favourites of Angus Begg and his young son

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Rhino Rage Dr Ian Player draws our attention to the dire plight of the rhinoceros

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 The Incredible

Journey

Roy Watts was privileged to observe one of nature’s greatest miracles: the life cycle of the leatherback turtle

Out & About News from the outdoors

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Gadgets & Gizmos All the latest must-haves from Cape Union Mart

Holy Mountain Share in Ronnie Muhl’s mindblowing experience of trekking to the Mount Everest Base Camp

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 The Vagabond’s

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Pole Position Braam Malherbe recounts his extreme adventures during the epic centenary race to the South Pole

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Column Get the travel bug from Begg

Always in Transit Travel photojournalist Evan Haussmann gives his top tips on what to pack for a trip

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Life Through the Lens Ruvan Boshoff is our top SA travel photographer featured in this edition

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 Cape Union Mart

Store Listings

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Last Laugh Pippa de Bruyn’s Rules for Intrepid Travel

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Last Word We get personal with District 9 actress and Survivor star, Vanessa Haywood

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conserving a vanishing way of life


Explorer The Intrepid

Live the life of Adventure

Publishing Editor ROBBIE STAMMERS robbie@intrepidexplorer.co.za Advertising Sales Director KEITH HILL keith@intrepidexplorer.co.za Art Director STACEY STORBECK NEL indiodesign@mweb.co.za Chief Sub-Editor TANIA GRIFFIN Editorial Contributors Graham Howe, Braam Malherbe, Kingsley Holgate Ryan Sandes, Vanessa Haywood, Evan Haussmann Pippa de Bruyn, John van de Ruit, Dr Ian Player Laurianne Claase, Angus Begg, Ruvan Boshoff Roy Watts, Ronnie Muhl, Justin Bonello

foreword Andre Labuschaigne

C

ape Union Mart strives to deliver its customers awesome retail experiences. This philosophy forms the foundation of the company’s corporate culture and is at the very heart of everything we do. The launch of The Intrepid Explorer is another quantum leap in fulfilling this goal. The publication promises to be an engaging read filled with interesting articles, inspirational photography and informative pieces. As the country’s favourite outdoor store, it is our mandate to equip South Africans with the correct gear and apparel – whether they are avid explorers or weekend adventurers. Therefore, we found it fitting to create a platform that showcases everything the Great Outdoors has to offer. We hope the content will inspire and encourage readers to explore. From beautiful secluded campsites, mouth-watering campfire recipes, to expeditions that test the limits of the human condition – we’re sure you will enjoy and draw value from this exciting new, free magazine.

Photography Cover – Ross Holgate Ruvan Boshoff, Julia Clarence, Chris Boyes Laurianne Claase, Angus Begg, Evan Haussmann Graham Howe, Andrew Brown, Dmitry Sharomov, Mike Horn, Louis Heimstra, Getty/Gallo Images Back Office Support and Accounts Solutions BOSS (PTY) Ltd Directors: Rita Sookdeo & Rochell Serdyn Lucindi Coetzer, Ohna Nel IT Support Christo Engelbrecht Cape Union Mart www.capeunionmart.co.za Group Marketing Manager – Evan Torrance Marketing Manager – Georgina Cartwright Printer Creda Communications Distribution Universal Mail Link Special thanks to: Greg James and the entire team at Sagitta Group Sabrina Hill, Nicky Byers, Jenneth Pillay, Shireen Sadien Gerhardi Odendaal, David Brooke and Francoise Malby-Anthony PUBLISHED BY

Remember: “Life is a cycle; you are either on an adventure, or planning the next one.” Managing Director – Robbie Stammers

Yours in exploring,

Andre Labuschaigne Chief Executive Officer Cape Union Mart

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Physical Address: Block K, Steenberg Office Park 1 Silvermoon Close, Tokai, Cape Town 7945 Telephone: +27 (0) 21 702 7880 Postal Address: PO Box 20, Constantia 7848 Web Address: www.intrepidexplorer.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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It is the season of sunshine in the Western Cape and CapeNature reserves are the place to be. Hike or mountain bike along scenic trails, swim in pristine natural pools, kayak down winding rivers, or simply sit down, soak up the sun and enjoy the wildlife.

From fields of flowers on the West Coast and majestic mountains in the Boland to the endless plains of the Karoo and golden beaches of the Garden Route, there are 24 CapeNature reserves where you can embrace summer and explore nature, so book today.

Whether it is adventure or tranquillity, a physical challenge or a peaceful getaway, CapeNature offers something for everyone. Camp or stay at your choice of eco-cabins, bush lodges and comfortable cottages, all self-catering.

Please be a responsible traveller, put your campfire out and help prevent wildfires this summer.

Conserve. Explore. Experience.


Our Intrepid Explorer

contributors

Ronnie Muhl is the  managing director for Adventures Global. He is an athlete, adventurer, author and inspirational speaker who hold talks both locally and internationally. In recent years, Muhl has climbed Mount Everest thrice, twice leading international teams to the Roof of the World. In 2007, he became the seventh South African to summit via the northeast ridge. Pippa de Bruyn is an award-winning journalist who has been based in Cape Town since 1985. She has been travel-writing since 1998, when she was commissioned to write the first Frommer’s Guide to South Africa. Since then, De Bruyn has co-authored guide books on East Africa, India, East Europe and Italy, and continues to write travel and investigative features for various publications. Braam Malherbe is an extreme adventurer, conservationist, youth developer, motivational speaker, television 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 non-governmental organisations and conservation groups. Malherbe 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. Laurie A. Claase is a freelance writer and editor based in Cape Town. After having travelled around the world, working on a dive boat in the Red Sea, on a ferry between the Greek Islands, in a Scottish country hotel and teaching English in Taiwan where she met her American husband, she finally made Cape Town her home base in 1997. From here she has made forays into southern Africa and has published accounts of her travels in a range of national and international publications. She is also the author of Caught Out: Cricket Match-fixing Investigated, which was long-listed for the Alan Paton Award in 2008, as well as several guidebooks and coffee-table books on Cape Town and Robben Island.

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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 over the last 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. Roy Watts is one of South Africa’s top adventure and travel writers – always seeking the ultimate sunset, the definitive bush experience and the perfect lodge.

Kingsley Holgate is a South African explorer, humanitarian and author. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he has been described as “the most travelled man in Africa”. Holgate has written several books about his expeditions and fronted several National Geographic documentaries. Angus Begg likes to giggle, but he is serious about his craft. A CNN award-winning television producer, he was the first South African broadcast journalist to report from the chaos of Somalia in 1992. It was these episodes in Somalia and Rwanda that took Begg the roundabout route to the fields of travel and environment, in which he now writes, produces and photographs. He has gone on to cover every aspect of travel – whether rural communities clashing with wildlife, tracking the Serengeti migration, hiking Table Mountain or searching for that perfect sauvignon blanc. Justin Bonello is a South African filmmaker, chef and television personality best known for starring in his own cooking and travel show, Cooked, since 2006 and more recently the popular show, The Ultimate Braai Master. He has combined his three favourite things – southern Africa, food and friends – into his daily work.

Ryan Sandes is a South African trail runner. In 2010, he became the first competitor to win all four of the 4 Deserts races, each a six- to seven-day, 250-kilometre, selfsupported footrace through the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara Desert in Egypt, and Antarctica. In addition to trail running, he is an active mountain biker, paddler and surfer. John van de Ruit is the author of the highly successful Spud series of novels, of which more than half a million copies have been sold in South Africa alone. They’re laugh-outloud tales of life at boarding school, told through the diary entries of John “Spud” Milton. Spud, the first in the series, broke all sales records for a debut novel in South Africa. Van de Ruit is now The Intrepid Explorer’s very own ‘Bill Bryson of the Bush’, whereby he takes us on wily adventures visiting some of the finest bush lodges that southern Africa has to offer. Dr Ian Player is one of Africa’s greatest conservationists. He saved the white rhino from extinction, pioneered the Duzi Marathon, as well as founded the Wilderness Leadership School, Magqubu Ntombela Foundation, the International Wilderness Movement and the World Wilderness Congresses. He has been keynote speaker at all eight World Wilderness Congresses – which have been held in various parts of the world – and a speaker at various business conventions. Dr Player has written numerous papers and publications and is the author of several books. Evan Haussmann is an award-winning copywriter, travel writer, gear blogger and consumate photographer. In his career he’s searched for lost tribes in the Amazon, sailed a leaky dhow through the Querimbas, ridden dogsleds in the Arctic circle, hitched a ride on a Harley around Australia and sought the source of the Zambezi. He lives in Kommetjie but can’t think of anything else to write about himself right now because the surf is perfect and there’s nobody else in the water...


editor’s note Here’s to the start of a wonderful new adventure together The word ‘intrepid’ comes from the Latin, intrepidus, which literally translated means ‘fearless, daring or bold’ and the word ‘explorer’ comes from the Latin, explōrāre, and refers to ‘a traveller, adventurer, voyager, globetrotter or discoverer’. This seemed the perfect title fit for the object and aim of this magazine’s content and, in fact, was completely accurate for the journey I had personally been aching to take on for some time now. After 16 years’ involvement in magazines - the last five of which at the helm of an award-winning magazine based on business and political leaders - I was bristling to get out of the city slumber and slog of the world of suits and slander. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of my previous vocation - but I wanted to dive headfirst into the world of nature and adventure. I wanted to breathe in the fresh, challenging world of expeditions, wildlife, bush, exotic travel and the environment. Who wouldn’t want to, really? So who better to team up with than South Africa’s finest outdoor store, Cape Union Mart, to reach an audience with an undying love for all things outdoors? It seemed a natural progression for Cape Union Mart to offer its discerning upmarket customers their very own high-quality outdoor lifestyle and travel magazine that will feature South Africa’s top travel writers, adventurers, environmentalists and experts revealing the best of the best that nature and the open air can offer. We are very proud, therefore, to bring you the inaugural edition of The Intrepid Explorer and sincerely hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. This magazine would not have come together without the incredible support of the Cape Union Mart marketing team; the amazing team at Insights Publishing who has passionately burnt the midnight oil; the phenomenal support from top-notch advertisers and, last but by no means least, the unbelievable contributors! It has all quite surpassed my highest expectations, thank you all so much. Another exciting development is that The Intrepid Explorer will be available in the rooms and suites of the most luxurious lodges in southern Africa and surrounds - from the Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, to Jock Safari Camp in Kruger National Park and Thula Thula game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, all the way to the Zambezi Queen on the Great Chobe River in Botswana. We are proud to be associated with these prestigious groups of lodges and look forward to working with them far into the future. The Intrepid Explorer will come out every quarterly season and will be available to you on a complimentary basis when purchasing merchandise at all Cape Union Mart stores. We look forward to enthralling you with loads of new exciting adventures with our second edition at the beginning of PLEASE WRITE TO US AND STAND A March 2013. In the interim, enjoy your summer season CHANCE TO WIN A CAPE UNION MART and make the most of it. VOUCHER WORTH R500 Remember, in the words of Sir Richard Branson: “The brave do not live forever, but the cautious do We would dearly love to hear from you about what you think of not live at all.” The Intrepid Explorer magazine and any ideas/requests you have with regards to future content. We would also love to start Live the life of adventure! publishing a readers page with your very own humourous/crazy/wild anecdotes from your personal travels and adventures. Please send your emails to Publishing Editor robbie@intrepidexplorer.co.za

Win

Robbie Stammers

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M ik e H or n

Sailing the seven seas

South African explorer Mike Horn is making a difference on his ship, Pangaea

Mike Horn sits on the deck of Pangaea, smelling the salty air and staring at the wide and endless expanse of ocean. He is overwhelmed by the possibilities: traversing so many continents, oceans, rivers, jungles and ice lands. Exploring planet Earth with youth by his side – this is everything he has ever wanted! Photographs Dmitry Sharomov and Mike Horn

Pangaea cruising around the northern tip of Borneo, Indonesia

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M ik e Hor n

H ABOVE: Mike Horn and the Young Explorers visit a leprosy school in Calcutta, India MIDDLE: Mike’s brother, Martin, leads the Selection Camp in Switzerland. Photo taken at Les Diablerets Glacier near Gstaad, Switzerland RIGHT: Trekking the ice-cut fjords of Milford Sound, New Zealand

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orn, acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest modern-day explorers, has undertaken exceptional feats of endurance, determination and courage, which have extended the boundaries of human achievement. Among his exploits have been Latitude Zero, an 18-month circumnavigation of the Earth around the Equator; the Arktos Expedition, a solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle which lasted 27 months; the North Pole Winter Night Expedition, the

rate at which the environment is deteriorating and the consequential sufferance of the ecosystems. “Caring for our life source has become an absolute necessity for every human being,” he avers. “The problem today is that we are losing contact with nature – forgetting its beauty and, most importantly, its overwhelming power. We have lost respect for nature and are losing hope. We must now accept our responsibilities and by working together with ingenuity, drive and courage, we can complement each other and find

first-ever ‘polar night’ journey to the North Pole, starting from the northernmost point of Russia and ending two months later at the North Pole; and the Himalaya Expedition, summiting two mountains higher than 8 000 metres – Gasherbrum I (8 035m) and Gasherbrum II (8 068m) – without the use of additional oxygen. During many years of exploration experience around the world, Horn has witnessed first-hand the beauty that the planet beholds, as well as the alarming

new inspiration, hope and ambition. Together we can tap the world’s most powerful energy source – the younger generation, encouraging them to stand up and make a difference, giving them the keys to help build a sustainable future and to protect the planet for the future generations.” In order to fulfil his dream, Horn decided to initiate a programme, “The Pangaea Expedition”, the biggest environmental project of its kind in


M ik e Hor n “Caring for our life source has become an absolute necessity for every human

being.The problem today is that we are losing contact with nature – forgetting its beauty and, most importantly, its overwhelming power.”

the world to date. The base for the expedition is the 35m yacht called Pangaea, which has been designed to incorporate sustainable technologies. The vessel, which can sleep 30 and features state-of-the-art communication and conference facilities, is used for environmental research and educational projects at its various ports of call around the world. The yacht has inverter energy engines designed and manufactured by Mercedes-Benz and it runs on fuelefficient diesel when the sails are not in

use. The features and fittings are made with recycled wood; the boat has recycle bins on board, and is fully fitted with LED lighting. The expedition, named after the supercontinent that existed 250 million years ago, has now covered 140 000 nautical miles, reaching the North and the South Poles and crossing all the oceans. Since being ‘water born’ in Brazil in 2008, Pangaea has sailed non-stop over the last four years. During her course around the world, Horn has been able

to share his knowledge with the younger generation and has explored some of the most amazing scenery this world has to offer: the glacial waters of both Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula; the ice-cut fjords of Milford Sound, New Zealand; the coral reefs of the east coast of Australia; marine ecosystems of Malaysia and Indonesia; the mangroves and volcanic islands of the Andaman Islands; the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas; sand dunes of the Gobi Desert; the eastern Siberia region of Kamchatka; the Magnetic

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M ik e Hor n

Setting sail

Pangaea was christened in Monaco in May 2008, by Mrs Gaynor Rupert, wife of Johann Rupert, executive chairperson of Richemont SA, and in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II. The four-year expedition was launched from Argentina’s southern town of Ushuaia later in October 2008.

North Pole; Northern Territories of Canada; the Everglades of Florida, United States; the Amazon Rainforest; and finally, Namibia’s beautiful Skeleton Coast to the tip of South Africa. Says Horn: “The Pangaea Expedition is the most exciting adventure I’ve ever undertaken. After almost two decades of exploration, I wanted to invest the knowledge and experience I acquired from past expeditions into a new challenge and to share these experiences with others. “The aim of the Pangaea mission has been, and still is, to enhance a respect for the environment, encouraging the cleanup of the planet and the protection

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Mike Horn explores the Andaman Islands with the Young Explorers, India

of its resources for the sake of the future generations.” Young adults, from the ages of 15 to 20, from every continent were invited to join Horn on various sections of his journey where they learnt about the flora and fauna with the team’s professor, Dr Roswitha Stolz from the University of Munich. They discovered the importance of nature and its elements and were encouraged to understand the importance of environmental issues currently affecting the world today. With four years under her belt and the world circuit nearly completed, the Pangaea Expedition is now coming to an end. It’s time for Horn to close the Pangaea chapter, but it will not be for long. He is too stimulated by what he has seen: the passion of the youth and the need to act to preserve the environment. Another project, a bigger boat, is now on the drawing board – and this time it will take more people, both young and old. The Pangaea Ambassadors will

continue to show their enthusiasm, and more people will be recruited to help Horn on his mission to preserve the planet. “My quest is just beginning; there is so much more of the planet’s beauty that I must share,” he says with enthusiasm. “I am proud to see that the message is getting out there. The youth are rising to the challenge that I have set for them, by joining forces and instigating various projects around the world. Many environmental projects have happened already and continue to do so. It gives me great hope to see what is happening and I’m proud to be able to give people the keys to open the doors.” Horn concludes, “I want the Pangaea message to continue to reach out to as many people as possible. Everyone has to understand that we have to handle our planet with respect and protect it so that it remains ours for a long time to come.” Find more information on the Pangaea Expedition at www.mikehorn.com.


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Kin gs ley Holga te

KING

Getting to know the Greybeard of African Adventure

of the continent

It’s fitting that a magazine with the title The Intrepid

Explorer should launch with a campfire chat between editor Robbie Stammers and one of Mama Afrika’s best known modern-day explorers. Kingsley Holgate is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a great humanitarian, and is considered the most travelled man in Africa. Photographs Ross Holgate

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Kin gs ley Holga te Kingsley, you are a true legend! You’ve adventured in every country on the continent, yet you continue doing good stuff. That pretty well sums it up, Robbie. After adventuring for much of our lives, my team and I recently had just five countries to go: Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Equatorial Guinea. It was an adventurefilled wrap-up, across the Sahel and North to ancient Agadez in the Sahara. Good rains brought higher water levels and hundreds of nomads, with their beautiful long-horned cattle, to Lake Chad. In the CAR we got into kak with rebels, but they released us; fortunately they weren’t Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, which also hangs out there – that would’ve been tickets. We met the president in Bangui, the capital; did malaria prevention work with the first lady; and in the safe, western part of the country, South African Rod Cassidy and his pygmies guided us to a rainforest clearing for our best ever sighting of forest elephant. We finally emptied our symbolic calabash into the Rio Muni on the mainland of Equatorial Guinea: It’s an expedition talisman, probably the most travelled Zulu artefact in the world. We fill it at the beginning and then empty it at the end of each journey. So was that it? Africa complete? No! Mama Afrika doesn’t work like that –

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she loves throwing a curve ball. No sooner did we get back home and it was up north in our Landies to take a big Gemini inflatable down the Nile to Juba in war-torn South Sudan, where we emptied the calabash of water taken from our Cradle of Humankind into the Nile – in time to celebrate the birth of the newest nation on Earth. Only then, after some 30 years of travel, did we feel we’d given Mama Afrika a ‘Big Hug’. So even after having doffed your cap to the continent, you and your team have just returned from another world-first? Yes! We’re privileged. We’ve just emptied the expedition calabash of water, this time taken from more than 30 Great African Rift Valley lakes and rivers. It glugged slowly into Gorongosa’s Lake Urema. The adrenalin drained from our bodies, after thousands of Land Rover kilometres, millions of tyre revolutions, buckets of sweat, thousands of footsteps, boat and bicycle journeys, countless campfires and great humanitarian work, our journey to follow Africa’s Great Rift Valley from Djibouti on the dangerous Horn of Africa to Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was complete. As always, it was a great old-fashioned adventure! What were some of the highlights and dangers of the expedition? There were so many: reaching the Gulf of Tadjoura on the Red Sea; the blinding salt flats of Lake Assal, the lowest point on land

in Africa; Ugayo Deset Island; and, with a camel to carry water and armed gunmen for security, climbing to the rim of the lava-spewing active volcano of Erta Ale. Back at the village, a warlord of the Afar Triangle pointed a revolver at my head, but we talked our way out of it. Two weeks later, a group of geologists weren’t as fortunate: 12 were killed by rebels and four kidnapped. We survived Dallol in the Danakil Depression, considered the hottest place on Earth. Can you believe it? Expedition member Mike Nixon did all this by


mountain bike! A bizarre situation was meeting Abbas, the Hyena Man, who fed these scavengers rotten camel meat from the end of a short stick held in his mouth, outside the ancient walled city of Harar overlooking Somaliland. I will always remember the smell of their breath and the snapping of powerful jaws. We survived the rich cultural mosaic that forms the ‘badlands’ of Ethiopia’s South Omo region – the Mursi women with their scarifications and clay saucerlike lip plates (a lip-loop big enough to go over the girl’s head attracts 50 head of

cattle as a bride price). Things got a bit tense: two Bana tribesmen had been kidnapped by the Mursi, and there was a war party under a tree. We offered to slaughter a goat and talk peace; the men were safely returned. We observed the ritualistic beating of the Hamer maidens; the naked, bulljumping ceremony; and Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake and home to Africa’s largest number of Nile crocodiles and nomadic warlike tribes. Further highlights include the beauty of the East African Rift Valley lakes ending at

Lake Eyasi – home to the last of the Tanzanian hunter-gatherers, the Hadzabe. It was the first time I ate rat. This expedition was Mama Afrika at her best: climbing one of the volcanoes of Mount Longonot, the active Ol Doinyo Lengai, which the Maasai call ‘The Mountain of God’; and climbing Ngorongoro Crater, for the start of the great wildebeest migration. The western Albertine Rift was chock-a-block with highlights: down the historic Nile from the Murchison Falls and south to the Semliki River; the Rwenzori ‘Mountains of the Moon’; Lakes Edward,

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Kin gs ley Holga te Albert and George; incredible wildlife, gazing into the soft brown eyes of giant silverback mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There were so many more focal points: genocide-torn Rwanda; beautiful Lake Kivu (rebel activity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo forced us to pull back to Bujumbura in Burundi); the northern point of Lake Tanganyika, largest and deepest of the Rift Valley lakes. In the Rusizi Delta, we went in search of Gustav – a giant crocodile reputed to have eaten more than 200 people. A definite highlight was the voyage on the historic World War 1 MV Liemba, said to be the oldest operating passenger ferry in the world; as well as the dramatic journey by Land Rover, mountain bike and local boat to observe the largest population of wild chimpanzees in the world at mythical Mahale Mountains National Park. Lake Rukwa is wild, full of crocs and seldom visited – below which the Western Rift has a small arm that follows the game-rich Luangwa Valley. A dangerous storm-tossed crossing in a handmade wooden boat took us to Likoma Island – we shat ourselves! – and over to the beautiful Mozambique

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shoreline where Lake Malawi is known as Lake Nyasa. Calabash water was added from Lake Chilwa, the Elephant Marsh and from the Kapichira Fall, below which we found Richard Thornton’s grave under a baobab tree: he was the young geologist who died on Dr David Livingstone’s journey of discovery to Lake Nyasa in 1863. We crossed the Shire on a hand-pulled ferry to collect a final handful of Zambezi calabash water at Caia before finally emptying the calabash into Lake Urema in Mozambique’s beautiful Gorongosa. You have an interesting tagline that reads: “Using Adventure to Improve Lives”. Yes, it’s important that we use the energy around our journeys to improve the lives of others. Funding through the sale of United Against Malaria (UAM) beaded bracelets at Cape Union Mart stores has helped fight the disease in Africa; the beading of the bracelets has created jobs for mamas around Cape Town. On expeditions, we distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to pregnant mums and mothers with children under five years. We give out Win Against Malaria educational colouring

books with pencils and crayons; there are UAM football challenges complete with UAM bibs, whistles, certificates, medals, trophies and a bicycle for the man of the match – it’s all about having fun and delivering a message that can save lives. We also do work for the Right to Sight eyecare campaign, whereby poor-sighted people in remote areas are supplied with spectacles; the instant gratitude and the immediate difference it makes in their lives is heart-warming. Nearly one in five child deaths, about 1.5 million each year, is due to diarrhoea. The expedition’s LifeStraw campaign, in which small filters are provided to communities in deep rural areas that have unsafe contaminated drinking water, continues to be a great success. So, Kingsley, is it time to hang up your boots yet? Never! You need at least 10 lifetimes, and still Mama Afrika would have some more surprises. Till the next one – will keep you posted. For more exciting content on Kingsley’s Great African Rift Valley expedition, go to www.kingsleyholgate.net.


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a penguin in my passport Expedition to the end of the world

Intrepid explorer Graham Howe rounds Cape Horn and crosses the Drake Passage. On an expedition to the Antarctic, he lands at remote bases on islands and follows the happy penguin feet among the glaciers, volcanoes and icebergs of the last great wilderness.


G r a h a m Howe

Coming ashore: Adélie penguins return to the giant nursery on Paulet Island off Antarctic Sound

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he sun sets over El Fin del Mundo (“the end of the world”) as we sail from the southerly tip of South America down the glassy smooth Beagle Channel – a spectacular archipelago of islands, snowy peaks and glaciers. From the bow of L’Austral, our expedition ship, I watch lonely cattle ranches, lighthouses and remote islands inhabited by hardy farmers, gauchos and fishermen. Beyond these calms waters lies the Drake Passage, a crossing dreaded by sailors for its high winds and high swells. The days are long and the nights short this far south under the midnight sun. In midsummer, the sun sets only at midnight, with a mere three hours of darkness before the sun rises again at 3 a.m. During the legendary crossing of the convergence of the Atlantic, Southern and Pacific Oceans, passengers compete to spot the first iceberg. We all go out on deck to watch the electric-blue bergie float by; Captain Rémi Genevaz hands a bottle of champagne to a sharp-eyed passenger. The expedition leader warns we may as well tear up our official itinerary. Our route will change from day to day due to the unpredictable nature of the weather in Antarctica. L’Austral will go wherever the good weather and ice take us – making the journey an even greater adventure. At safety, environmental and polar dress briefings, we prepare for our first landing as we chase good weather and run from the ice pack. After two days’ sail, we are finally ready for Antarctica. Reaching the South Shetland Islands, the gateway to Antarctica, we land by Zodiac (a small, inflatable, motorised boat) at Half Moon Island to visit a colony of Chinstrap penguins, named after the comical black strap drawn across their chins (like a Vespa scooter helmet). We

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Gr a h a m Howe

At play with penguins: the author in the rookery on Devil Island

are lucky to be here during the nursery and nesting season when all these furry little chicks are only a few months old – and chasing mum and dad all over the shore for food. In the rookery, one of the naturalists says the Chinstrap is the second most common penguin in Antarctica, with four million breeding pairs. (I wonder how they do a penguin census?) Penguins rule in Antarctica. The sounds and smells are

Getting closer to the Antarctic Peninsula, we’re all out on deck to watch L’Austral negotiate the narrow Neumayer Channel. We make our second landing at Port Lockroy, home of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. Britain’s historic Base A is manned by an all-girl team during the summer season, and is a popular port of call for passers-by. Incredibly, credit cards are accepted in the shop where you can buy Antarctic

Antarctica is one of the world’s last great wildernesses, a once-in-a-lifetime destination. You enter a world of blue (the sea and the ice), white (the icebergs and glaciers) and black (the volcanic rock). No towns, no roads, no

footprints, no pollution, no people. overwhelming. The aquatic birds raise their heads to the skies, stretch out their flippers and bray like donkeys. They hydrate by chipping ice off the blocks on the seashore, then regurgitate the lot down the throats of their hungry chicks. Every penguin family has a unique call, enabling them all to find each other in these densely populated colonies. The soundtrack of the Antarctic is like a symphony of a million penguins.

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books, maps, stamps, T-shirts and polar mufflers – even a Lonely Planet Country Travel Guide for Antarctica. They handstamp 70 000 postcards a year, as well as our passports. (I leave Antarctica with an albatross, tall ship and a penguin in my passport.) We marvel at how the polar teams used to live on the base in the early 20th century – with a windup gramophone and old Noël Coward records for

entertainment, and tins and tins of food in the pantry for sustenance. The old Antarctic survival cookery book for sale has recipes for seal liver, seal brains on toast as well as penguin eggs. All protected species now – no exotic Antarctic dishes on the menu these days. The four women researchers have 800 pairs of breeding Gentoo penguins for company, which nest under the huts and all over tiny Goudier Island. The Gentoo – distinguished by an orange bill and white flash above the eye – keep their furry new chicks warmly buried under their bellies. Dressed like the Michelin Man in thermal layers of polar gear, you have to be really careful where you step. I feel like one of those Emperor penguins in the documentary, March of the Penguins. For God’s sake, don’t step on an egg! In Antarctica the penguins have right of way, waddling along the ice tunnels. Our first landing on the mainland is Argentina’s Almirante Brown Antarctic Base in Graham Land. We take a Zodiac cruise around Paradise Bay, named by the early whalers for its exquisite natural beauty – getting up close to the electricblue and emerald icebergs ‘calved’ from the mountain icebergs and glaciers. I spot sleek leopard and crabeater seals resting in the sun atop small icebergs.


Gearing up for the Antarctic Waddling like the Chinstraps up a steep icy path to a spectacular lookout, we body-toboggan back down, braying like penguins. We have to turn back at 64° south because the famous Lemaire Channel is still frozen in by ice in midsummer – an incredible sight as the glittering ice pack slowly surrounds our expedition ship. L’Austral heads back north via Wilhelmina Bay, an atmospheric place with its rusty old whaling factory ship, its old rowboats abandoned on the ice a century ago. Under the Antarctic Treaty all the old bases, whaling stations and shipwrecks are left exactly as they are as part of the frozen continent’s heritage. Out on deck we are never alone in this spectacular landscape, accompanied by albatrosses, orca whales and humpbacks as well as towering tubular icebergs, ‘growlers’ (baby bergs) and bergies. Standing on the bridge, surveying the landscape to the endless horizon, I ask the captain about the legend of the ‘tip of the iceberg’. He explains, “There’s no such thing as a small iceberg; they are six times bigger underwater. Only one-seventh is on top.” Fortunately, L’Austral has a specially reinforced steel hull for Antarctic conditions, and a high-tech array of sonars, radars and computer aids. The Antarctic is not only on top: it is inside, under the surface, and way down below in the deep blue sea. One of the naturalists wisely advises us to spend time ashore experiencing the tranquillity of the Antarctic – not to see everything through the lens of a camera. Sitting silently alone in Neko Harbour in Andvord Bay, watching an avalanche of snow, listening to a glacier crack asunder, calving a new iceberg, is an awesome experience – my own Antarctic epiphany. I begin to understand that, metaphorically, “everyone has an Antarctic” – in the poetic words of novelist, Thomas Pynchon. We spend two days in the Weddell Sea on the northeastern tip of Antarctica. At Devil Island, we land on the steep slope of a volcano – a fiendish landing on harsh terrain of gravel and basalt rock. This is home to 8 000 Adélie penguins – the archetypical Antarctic penguin, well-dressed for a formal dinner in

Shopping for polar gear in midsummer in Cape Town was easy. We found all the outdoor adventure gear we needed at Cape Union Mart: thermal long johns, long-sleeved vests, fleece sweaters, waterproof ski pants, fleece track pants, inner and outer gloves, sub-zero outer socks, sock liners, polar mufflers and trekking poles. Phew! Compagnie du Ponant sent us a polar dress code for Antarctic expeditions. We emailed it to Frances at Cape Union Mart in Cavendish Square, who gave us a quote the same day. We were kitted out for under R2 500 each, and given a 10% discount. You can hire the knee-length waterproof wellies delivered to your cabin door, but we bought our own for future expeditions! The liner gives everyone a special red expedition parka, which you get to keep as a souvenir or for the next big adventure. Getting into and out of all our polar gear twice daily for landings – and putting it all on in the right order – was quite a mission. I felt like the Michelin Man by the time I was kitted out in three layers of thermal and waterproof clothing. Last of all, my beanie! Although it is summer in the Antarctic from November to February, the wind chill factor keeps temperatures fairly low in the boat and on shore, though rarely below freezing point. You learn to jump into freezing water from the Zodiacs and only get your wellies wet! Cape Union Mart kept us warm, dry and cosy in Antarctica.

white-and-black tops and tails. The rookeries are a hive of happy feet, with hungry chicks comically chasing mum and dad back from a fishing trip foraging for squid and krill to feed the family. The Antarctic turns you into an amateur naturalist overnight. It’s as if you’ve stepped into one of those wildlife movies and start narrating sotto voce in wonder, like the well-known Sir David Attenborough.

Paulet Island turns out to be one of our most sensational landings. We come ashore on a beach littered with blocks of ice and Adélie penguins. I spend hours closely observing penguin behaviour, watching the aquatic birds return to land while unattached young females preen and build nests to attract a partner. So what’s new? Chatting to a naturalist ashore, I learn that all penguins are monogamous, mate for life and very

L’Austral, a dedicated expedition ship among the icebergs, Antarctica

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Argentina’s Almirante Brown Antarctic Base in Graham Land

territorial, using a unique vocal cry to recognise the chicks in their family nest. At Hannah Point on Livingston Island, we see the ‘rock star’ Macaroni penguin (easily identified by the wild red and orange tassels over its eyebrows), as well as southern elephant seals that weigh up to four tonnes. Almost hunted to extinction in the last century, these giant seals with their big protruding proboscis (trunk-like nose) are very comical to watch, chilling out on the beach, mock-fighting with young males and using their flippers

to cover their moulting coats with wet, sand-like sunscreen. On the way back to Ushuaia in Argentina, we call at Deception Island in the South Shetlands – a base for all the early sealers, explorers and whalers. Passing through a narrow passage named Neptune’s Bellows, we land at Port Foster set in the sunken caldera of an old, active volcano. All ships are under orders to leave the area immediately if the volcano erupts (the last time was in 1970) – “ideally with the passengers on board!”

Fact File: Du Ponant Expeditions • C  ompagnie du Ponant specialises in small expedition cruises (a maximum of 200 passengers) to the Antarctic, Canada, Baffin Bay, Scandinavia and Greenland. • During the short summer season (November to February), it offers a standard 10-day Antarctic trip and a 14-day cruise that also calls at the Falklands and South Georgia. • All expeditions depart from Ushuaia in Patagonia, gateway to Antarctica, with packages and charter flights available ex Buenos Aires. • The dozen professional naturalists aboard L’Austral lead all briefings and landings and are fluent in English and French. Nicolas Dubreuil, the expedition leader, is a veteran of Arctic and Antarctic explorations. • All excursions are included in the fare. The liner calls at up to a dozen destinations in Antarctica, landing passengers in small groups by Zodiac to minimise the impact on the environment. • A series of safety, polar dress and environmental briefings prepare passengers of all ages and abilities for each landing. • The excursions vary in terms of landscape, location and activity. We hiked up volcanoes to penguin rookeries, did Zodiac cruises and visited old whaling stations. • The two luxury expedition ships, L’Austral and Le Boréal, are sleek in modern design with a private balcony for every suite as well as all mod-cons from spa, gym and bar, library, lounge, Wi-Fi spots, theatre for lectures and briefings, and gourmet French restaurants (with house wines included in the fare!). • The Lonely Planet Country Travel Guide: Antarctica is essential reading; also take a large-scale map to the area.

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The crew say you can swim in the thermal waters. I’ll take their word for it. Whalers Bay is a sad place, a shrine to the tens of thousands of whales massacred by the old whalers who hunted on industrial scale – which only stopped in the Antarctic as recently as 1964. All the rusty old whale blubber tanks, sagging wooden huts and whalers’ graves are still there, on a beach littered with old, bleached whale bones. Our return crossing on the Drake Passage is the smoothest in living memory in a region renowned for its fierce southwesterly winds. Accompanied by giant petrels and wandering albatrosses (the stuff of mariners’ legends, with a wingspan of 3.5 metres), we round Cape Horn. We land at the lighthouse and have our passports stamped with the legend, Cabo de Hornos. Climbing to an amazing giant abstract sculpture of the albatross in steel, we pass a monument to the old mariners who braved the Horn, such as Charles Darwin who led his expedition aboard the HMS Beagle. Antarctica is one of the world’s last great wildernesses, a once-in-a-lifetime destination. You enter a world of blue (the sea and the ice), white (the icebergs and glaciers) and black (the volcanic rock). No towns, no roads, no footprints, no pollution, no people. In one of the driest environments on Earth, there is no humidity or dust – it is the land of the white-out from here to infinity. Visiting the Antarctic is like falling off the planet. Where next? I’ve moved the Arctic and Iceland to the top of my bucket list. I look forward to using all my polar gear again on another intrepid adventure out there. Contact information For expedition itineraries of L’Austral and Compagnie du Ponant around the world, as well as fares, contact their agent in South Africa, Development Promotions, on telephone 011 442 0822 or visit www.devprom.co.za.


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J oh n va n de R uit

safari on

with spud

As a nature lover brought up on a traditional high-protein South African diet of regular holidays in our excellent national parks, I confess to

holding a somewhat ‘conservative conservational’ worldview. At its essence, it’s that any other bush experience doesn’t quite add up to the old-school, real McCoy.

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Best-selling author John van de Ruit takes us through his amazing 48 hours at Shamwari


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he sheer independence of the self-drive, happy but senseless hours spent contemplating an old map that bears little resemblance to the area it describes and, of course, those wondrous meaty evening braais around which the day’s sightings are dissected – just loud enough so that the Mr Know-It-All in chalet number 13 can overhear and grow bitterly jealous. I confess on occasion to having thumbed my nose at the exclusive private reserves with their telephone number tariffs and their carefully managed six-star safari itineraries for their European clientele. Sure, one hears extravagant stories of visitors to exclusive reserves spotting the entire Big 5 before leaving camp in the morning, but those tales only served to convince me that there must be something ‘canned’ and unsporting about the entire experience. Images arise of a stampede of jostling game trucks crammed with khaki scarf-wearing Germans speeding toward a jaded lion with a radio collar and a fly problem. My intrepid partner, Jules, and I caught the dawn flight from Durban to Port Elizabeth. The flight itself was memorable, only for the strange man in a Blue Bulls rugby jersey who loitered suspiciously about the rear lavatories for the duration of the flight, whistling what sounded like a Queen compilation through his teeth. Jules thought it was Zane Kirchner, but I wasn’t so sure. The weather was magnificent en route and I loudly remarked on this fact to all those awake and within earshot. When you have only 48 hours to soak up Shamwari, poor weather is about as welcome as a blazing forest fire at a Sunday picnic. Unfortunately, as we swooped down into Nelson Mandela Bay, thick cloud surrounded us – completely blocking out the sun. The grimness of the weather as well as a questionable airline breakfast had left me in a pensive mood at the baggage carousel, where I once again succeeded in selecting the only defective trolley on the Eastern Seaboard. We met up with our designated Shamwari ranger, Westley Lombard, whose steely glare and swarthy tan gave Crocodile Dundee a good run for his money. The 60-kilometre drive to Shamwari flew by as I asked numerous questions about the reserve and

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J oh n va n de R uit what may lie ahead for us. I learnt that the 25 000 hectares housed numerous satellite lodges that catered for every conceivable bush experience. My clever interrogation continued; however, Westley refused to guarantee me any great sightings whatsoever and there was not so much as a single mention of the infamous ‘Big 5 before breakfast’. The bottom line descended on me in a wave of stark reality. To see anything at Shamwari was going to take what it always takes: being in the right place at the right time when everyone else is in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a major blow to our chances; there would be no easy lunches in Shamwari. Long Lee Manor is a restored centuryold colonial manor house. Its pale pink facades, stately gardens and glistening swimming pools lend one the belief that English royalty may at any moment stride

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across the lawn with servants and faithful horse and dog in tow. A flocking swarm of Little Swifts added some wild African perspective to the

we were hungry, as he personally escorted me and Jules into the dining room of the Manor house for a late breakfast – so large that we immediately cancelled lunch and

To see anything at Shamwari was going to take what it always takes: being in the right place at the right time when everyone else is in

the wrong place at the wrong time place, by nesting in their droves in the eaves of the Manor; the gardens were alive with Greater Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape Robin-Chats and the ubiquitous throaty melodies of the Southern Boubou. The manager must have sensed that

threatened to skip dinner. As it turned out, we did neither. The weather was disappointingly gloomy by the time we set off for our afternoon game drive. On a more positive note, it wasn’t raining – although a chilly


8 TM


J oh n va n de R uit breeze assaulted exposed ears and there was soon a scrabble for K-Way fleeces, blankets and ponchos. We shared the game-drive vehicle with a delightful couple who, although hailing from Switzerland and Scotland respectively, had settled in South Africa over 30 years ago. Wisecracks abounded, but soon we all settled into concentrated silence as we

the landscape when you least expected it, and regular crossings of the Bushman’s River yielded excellent sightings of waterbirds such as the African Black Duck and the South African Shelduck. We soldiered up a high ridge of hills with sharp and dramatic cliffs falling away to either side. The road offered spectacular views across either valley but, more to the point, had recently been frequented by a

There was the sound of angry growling, followed by the most disturbing gurgling sound I’ve heard since my days in the university drama department. “That’s the male,” said

Westley. “They’re mating.” focused our energies on the sights, sounds and smells of the bush. I was immediately impressed with the variation in habitat that Shamwari offered. Open plains being liberally grazed by springbok, blesbok and black wildebeest gave way to thickets and dense bush where the Sombre Greenbul’s call held right of way. Ridges and hills burst out of

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pair of mating leopards seeking refuge from lions on the rugged crags and steep hillsides. Westley once again reminded us that there was no guarantee of success; nevertheless, mad and obsessive scanning of the hillsides ensued. Our vehicle ground to a halt. Up ahead, two further game trucks were parked. Discussions over the radio revealed that

they had briefly spotted a female leopard that had since retreated into the bush and disappeared in a typically obtuse anti-tourist leopard manner. The Shamwari rule of never allowing more than two vehicles on a sighting meant we waited until one of the trucks had lost interest before taking a closer look ourselves. After a few further minutes of staring at the empty landscape, we continued with our drive and the promise of returning to the area at dusk. A sundowner pit stop revealed an ingenious impromptu picnic table that slid out of the bonnet of the Land Cruiser. To complete the picture, a fully stocked bar materialised and soon we were sipping on whiskeys and sherries, munching on biltong and gazing out at the bush around us. The arrival of my first Olive Woodpecker signalled a sharp turn in our fortunes and soon we were winding our way back up the hill toward the saddle. The sky turned leaden with ominous dark clouds as dusk and a cold front approached. Returning to the spot of the earlier sighting, it was decided to switch off the engine and wait in silence. Minutes ticked by and absolutely nothing happened. I stared vacantly out at a drainage culvert beside the road, lost in my thoughts, when into my field of vision strolled a leopard.


She was small and lithe and her gaze took in our vehicle without fear or suspicion. “There she is!” I heard myself say. The leopard ambled toward us, her tail raised as she spray-marked her territory. After smelling something vaguely interesting on the back right tyre, she proceeded to rub herself seductively against the front bumper of the truck. “As you can see, she’s quite comfortable with us,” noted Westley. “But the male, you seldom see.” After her sexy mince around our vehicle was complete, the female leopard sauntered back into the bush and disappeared from view. Within seconds there was the sound of angry growling, followed by the most disturbing gurgling sound I’ve heard since my days in the university drama department. “That’s the male,” said Westley. “They’re mating.” An angry fracas momentarily broke out, followed by immediate silence. I initially thought our ranger was having us on when he said leopards can mate every five minutes for weeks on end. I know they have the uncanny ability to drag dead animals up trees, but this for my mind was considerably more impressive. The female reappeared in the drainage

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culvert. This time the male reluctantly followed her out into the open. He was easily more than double her size and, although wary of our vehicle, his sheer intoxication with his girlfriend had him stumbling after her with a bemused yet exhausted expression on his face. And there, a few paces from where we sat in full view, they performed their sacred act against the dying light of the day. An unforgettable and secret moment shared and witnessed. Forget picking up a camera – even breathing seemed obtrusive. Rain and darkness tore us away and we headed back to Long Lee Manor where more sherry was waiting for us as we stepped off the truck. The toasty luxury of our garden suite saw me pacing about as I attempted to assimilate what I had just seen. Even if we didn’t see another living creature for the remainder of the trip, it was enough – and it truly was. Rain and biting cold made things tougher from then on; however, Shamwari continued to shower us with excellent sightings: from an idyllic half hour spent in the company of a lioness and her two playful six-week-old cubs, to a rare close encounter with a black rhino who charged our truck. Then there were two male

cheetah hunting in unison and sightings of the Denham’s Bustard and Black Harrier. Smaller moments, too, captured our hearts, such as the young red hartebeest stumbling about with his mother’s umbilical cord still attached, and the misguided scrub hare that froze, assuming we couldn’t see him when we quite obviously could. These were just a few of the memorable moments of our brief stay on an incredible stretch of land. Skepticism had been turned on its head. No longer cynical, I felt only appreciation to have experienced the other side of the bush in this unique place where you’re treated like a king, yet humbled by what you see. John van de Ruit is the author of the highly successful Spud series of novels and the movie of the same title, which featured John Cleese. The sequel, Spud 2: The Madness Continues, is due to hit screens next year. For more details on the Shamwari Game Reserve or its other award-winning, privately owned, five-star game reserves and eco lodges in southern Africa, visit www.shamwarigroup.com.


secluded secrets Our top 10 wilderness camping sites

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What makes the perfect campsite? For me, it’s a sense of isolation; of going back to the wild. Hot water is a bonus, writes Laurianne Claase.

he 10 campsites featured here have this in common: Usually small, they convey a sense of space. Noise, large groups – and in one case, children under 16 – are discouraged. They can be reached by gravel roads in a sedan car, with the exception of Mabibi on KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast. Each of the nine provinces features one campsite, with Namibia making a guest appearance. It was once a de facto province, after all, even though it was never formally incorporated into South Africa. I can personally recommend Beaverlac, Riemvasmaak, Mazhou, Double Mouth and Ngepi. The others are on my to-do list. Hopefully, they’ll make it onto yours.

Northern Cape – Riemvasmaak

The Northern Cape is the largest of South Africa’s nine provinces, but also the least populated – with good reason. Bordering Botswana and Namibia, the province is clasped from both sides in a hot and dry embrace. The red sand of the southern Kalahari comprises 20% of the world’s ‘largest continuous mantle of sand’. The Orange River runs like an emerald artery through the thirstlands.

Fifty kilometres inland from the grape-producing town of Kakamas lies Riemvasmaak, home to the first successful land claim settlement of the New South Africa. This ecotourism venture provides a national model for sustainable community tourism. All profits go into developing the tourist facilities, which are comfortably basic as befits a wilderness experience. Bring everything, including drinking water. Above the Molopo Gorge, the village of Riemvasmaak sprawls in the sand. Below the village is the Molopo Canyon, the longest dry riverbed in the country. A high-clearance vehicle will manage the 12 kilometres of gravel into the canyon. Nestled above the parched river in an enclave of 300 000year-old boulders, the natural hot springs have been set in elegantly simple interlocking pools inlaid in stone – the perfect setting for stars and sparkling wine. There are only three campsites. Campers have access to a gas freezer, flushing toilets and running water. Alternatively, self-catering chalets are set on hills overlooking the canyon. There are three 4x4 wilderness trails, one with San paintings en route. Walking tours take place only in the winter months of May to August, as this is the only time of year to venture out at midday – if you’re not a mad dog or an Englishman. www.greenkalahari.co.za

Western Cape – Beaverlac

The Western Cape is a region of fruit-growing and wineproducing valleys watered by mountain rivers, with a coastline that encompasses both the sunrise and the sunset. Two-and-a-half hours’ drive north of Cape Town, in the Cederberg region of the Olifants River Mountains, you’ll find Beaverlac. Think rock pools, waterfalls and mountain fynbos. Set among the pine trees, orchards and proteas in a 5 000-hectare valley, this rustic, family-and-dog-friendly campsite is on Grootfontein Farm. A natural heritage site and successful

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example of agritourism, the farm adjoins the Groot Winterhoek Mountain Catchment Area and the Cederberg Leopard Conservation Area. Two rivers run through the farm: the Ratel and the Olifants. The campsites spread over a number of shady, well-grassed fields, but never feel crowded. There are a number of self-catering cottages as well. While there is no electricity, there are ablution blocks with hot showers and taps dispensing mountain water. There’s a shop that sells the essentials, but bring your own braai grid. Music is of the self-made kind. Drums, however, are discouraged. Hiking, mountain biking, freshwater fishing and swimming are the order of the day. www.beaverlac.co.za

Eastern Cape – Double Mouth Campsite

The Eastern Cape coastline is mostly one long stretch of sandy beach punctuated by river estuaries spilling into the sea. North of East London, 5km from Morgan Bay, you’ll find Double Mouth Campsite. It is situated within the 3 424ha Double Mouth Nature Reserve. As the name suggests, two rivers wind past forested dunes and empty into the sea here. Around the corner is Bead Beach, the site of a 16th century Portuguese shipwreck, which still gives up its treasure of Ming porcelain and carnelian beads. A favourite with anglers and their families, the 30 camping and caravan sites are grassed and shady and all have their own sea view. Flushing loos and hot water, a scullery, and a five-amp electric ‘caravan-type’ power point mean you aren’t exactly roughing it. An added advantage is that the gravel road tends to put off all but the most intrepid of caravaners.

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the Lesotho border. Surrounded by the sandstone cliffs of the Maluti, Rooiberg and Witteberg mountain ranges, the 25 campsites nestle in a kloof of indigenous bush. Electricity, flushing toilets and hot water are at hand, and a swimming pool and tuck shop take care of the rest of your creature comforts. In addition, there are 11 self-catering sandstone chalets. For the active, there is hiking, horse-riding and abseiling, as well as 4x4 routes in the adjacent Didibeng Mountain Park. The Meiringskloof Nature Reserve has a five-day Brandwater Hiking Trail, and there’s a cave where women took refuge during the Anglo-Boer War. The largest sandstone overhang in the southern hemisphere, Salpeterkrans, is still used for ancestral worship by local tribes. The tree-lined arts and crafts galleries of Clarens are 35km away, while the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a 55km drive. www.meiringskloof.co.za

Mpumulanga – Riverwild

Mpumalanga is the ‘place where the sun rises’. Here, the grassland savannah of the northern Drakensberg plateau falls away to the subtropical plains, plantations and game reserves of the Lowveld. Riverwild is a bush camp on the Houtbosloop River, in the Weltevreden Valley some 50km from Nelspruit. The campsite by the river has grassy, shady sites, good ablutions with hot showers, and electrical points. There’s a pub and swimming pool, as well as home-cooked meals if you’re not up to making a fire. Secluded wood cabins and a tented camp are other options. Activities include river tubing and rafting, mountain biking, hiking, abseiling, birding and 4x4 trails run by the local Sotho community. The camp is a good base from which to explore Lowveld attractions such as the Sudwala Caves – the oldest dolomite caves in the world – and the Lowveld National Botanical Garden with its impressive collection of cycads and African rainforest. The camp is 50km from the Numbi Gate entrance into the Kruger National Park, and 50km from Barberton. www.riverwild.biz

www.ecparks.co.za

Free State – Meiringskloof Nature Reserve

The foothills of the Drakensberg and the Maluti provide the mountainous backdrop to the eastern Free State. Meiringskloof Nature Reserve is 2km of bad gravel away from Fouriesburg on

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C a m pin g c on f iden tia l

Limpopo – Mazhou Camping Site, Mapungubwe

South Africa’s northernmost province, Limpopo, is named after the Limpopo River, which marks the northern border with Zimbabwe. Botswana is to the west, and Mozambique to the east. It is the country’s most undeveloped province, and a prime ecotourism destination that is home to 70% of the Kruger National Park. Mapungubwe National Park borders the Limpopo River and is the northernmost national park in the country. The park is divided into the east and west sections, separated by private farms. Mazhou Camping Site is in the west of the park. You check in at the main gate and drive 40km to the campsite, next to the Limpopo River shaded by Nyala and Ana trees. There are 10 camping sites, each equipped with a 220V power point. An electric perimeter fence ensures the animals don’t wander through the campsite at night, but you will hear their passing. Don’t expect grass, as this is a semi-arid area; summer temperatures can reach as high as 45º Celsius. The baboons and monkeys are a pest, so don’t leave food lying around – and secure your tent. Don’t bring oranges into the park, either: the elephants have a citrus addiction. The ablutions and scullery facilities are spotless and come with dishwashing liquid and even air freshener! There are no stores at Mapungubwe, but there is a tuck shop at the Confluence Viewpoint in the west of the park, as well as a restaurant. Fill up your petrol tank before you arrive, as there are no petrol stations within the reserve. A number of well-kept hides and 35km of sedan-friendly roads allow you to get up close and personal to the wildlife. Elephants are the most commonly seen of the big mammals but lion, cheetah and white rhino also inhabit the park, as do more than 400 species of birds. A further 100km of roadway is suitable for 4x4 vehicles. www.sanparks.co.za

KwaZulu-Natal – Mabibi Campsite

KwaZulu-Natal is famous for its beaches, mountains and game reserves. Mabibi Campsite is in the far north of the province, on the Elephant Coast between Lake Sibaya – the largest freshwater lake in South Africa – and Sodwana Bay, the country’s premier scuba-diving site. Kosi Bay and the Mozambican border lie 37km to the north. The camp forms part of the Coastal Forest Reserve, and is at the southern edge of the Maputaland Turtle Sanctuary. Giant loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches between November and February every year. The Mabibi Campsite is situated at the edge of the dune forest. The 10 campsites have their own shade netting, freshwater tap and braai. The showers are hot and the loos flush, but there is no electricity. Access is only possible for 4x4 vehicles and you’ll have to use your GPS, as the roads are not signposted. Take everything with you, apart from drinking water. Sodwana Bay is the closest big town. While only 41km away, it’s a drive of between 90 minutes and three hours, depending on your route. There is a small farm shop nearby with basic goods and beer. From the campsite, the deserted beach is a 10-minute walk down many wooden stairs. The coastal dune forest vegetation is home to many bird species. The angling is excellent at Mabibi Beach, while the rock pools at low tide are great for snorkelling. www.mabibicampsite.co.za

North West – Moretele River Camp, Borakalalo National Park

The North West province borders Botswana and encompasses a variety of grassland and savannah ecosystems characterised by thornveld and bushveld. There are 14 national parks and provincial reserves within the province. Borakalalo National Park is a lesser known gem, although a mere 100km north of

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Pretoria. The ‘place where people relax’ is a 14 000ha, malaria-free expanse of broad-leafed and acacia woodland, with riverine forests and the 800ha Klipvoor Dam. Moretele River Camp is situated on the banks of the perennial Moretele River. There are 10 basic tents and 10 wooded camping sites. Each campsite has its own braai, tap and bin. The camp has flush toilets, hot and cold showers, and washing up facilities – but there is no electricity. There is a small shop at the entrance gate, which carries bare essentials such as bait and wood, so bring everything along, including cash. Beware of the marauding monkeys! The reserve is home to 35 mammal species including white rhino and leopard, and more than 350 bird species. Over 100km of good gravel roads allow easy game viewing, while the dam is renowned for its fishing. There are three bird hides and three picnic sites with ablution facilities. www.parksnorthwest.co.za

Gauteng – De Rust Caravan Park

Gauteng, the economic powerhouse of South Africa, is the country’s smallest province – and while densely urbanised, it is still possible to find wilderness experiences. Take De Rust Caravan Park, for example. It is a mere 35km north of Pretoria, situated within a malaria-free conservancy on the banks of the Pienaars River and within the newly established Dinokeng Game Reserve. Unfortunately, there are no self-drive game routes yet. The caravan park is easily accessible by sedan car. The campsite consists of 25 grassy and well-spaced sites beneath indigenous trees on the banks of the Pienaars River. Each site has its own braai, tap and 15-amp power supply, and security

is excellent. Flushing toilets, hot showers and a swimming pool complete the picture. Enjoy the 7km nature trail, and see how many of the 280 bird species you can spot. There is dam and river fishing, as well as mountain bike trails. For those seeking peace and quiet, you’ll be happy to know that no groups, no music and no children under 16 are allowed. www.derustcaravanpark.co.za

Namibia – Ngepi Camp

While Namibia is synonymous with the sweeping sand dunes of Sossusvlei, the north of the country is a riverine wilderness. Ngepi Camp is built on an island in the northern reaches of the Okavango Panhandle in the Caprivi Strip, 10km south of Divundu on the Mohembo Border road. A new access road means sedan cars will have no problem with the 4km stretch of dirt road to the camp. Green lawns spill down to the banks of the broad Okavango River, and riverine forest provides welcome shade under which to camp. The lush bush is home to more than 500 species of birds. The nine private campsites and four overland sites have braais, taps as well as open-air, solar-powered ablutions. There’s a convivial bush pub, a sundowner deck overlooking the river, home cooking and a floating river swimming pool. From your tent, watch the buffalo drinking across the river in the Bwabwata National Park. The Mahango National Park is a few kilometres away. Watch out for the hippos: they tend to graze around your tent at night. Web: www.ngepicamp.com

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Nana and her baby Lolo, named after Lawrence Anthony

Nana

in search of

Robbie Stammers, editor of The Intrepid Explorer, follows in the footprints of The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony, and visits Thula Thula

“Total immersion in the wilderness is the purest and most natural of all therapies. Best of all, you don’t have to do anything except be there. The sights and sounds are remedies for the soul, while the scents of the African bush are nature’s original aromatherapy.”


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La w r en c e An th on y

T

hese are the penetrating words of Lawrence Anthony, the largerthan-life conservationist, best-selling author, environmentalist, explorer and animal saviour – written in his third and, sadly, final book, The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures. At age 61, he died of a heart attack before his planned March 2012 conservation gala dinner in Durban to raise international awareness of the rhinopoaching crisis and launch his new book, but he will live on through his immense contributions in a way that will never die. Known as the ‘Indiana Jones of Conservation’, Anthony was born in what used to be Northern Rhodesia (Zambia today) and spent time in Malawi as a child. “The bush was right outside the back door,” he has said about that time. Educated first at King Edward VII School and then in Empangeni, he was a successful businessman and estate agent, but it was only after he made Thula Thula – the oldest proclaimed game reserve in the country – his home, that his true calling took flight. Anthony’s tales of taming rogue elephants, rescuing zoo animals in war-torn Iraq and meeting with the world’s most wanted terrorists (the Lord’s Resistance Army) in the depths of the Democratic Republic of Congo to try and save the last Northern rhino, bear testament to the fire that burnt in his belly. He would have done anything and everything to save the world’s animals. His books tell one about much more than the adventures on which his quests took him; they tell the story of a deep and resounding love for Mother Nature and her creatures, as well as his desperate urge to save many from extinction. Anthony had two loves in his life. One was his wife and Thula Thula partner, Francoise Malby; the other was his ‘mistress’, the matriarch elephant called Nana. One cannot truly describe the incredible relationship he and Nana had, but he firmly believed that elephants had a psychic ability, and this seems to have

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ABOVE: Lawrence had such an incredibly trusting relationship with his elephants that Coronation Fund Managers recently built their entire advertising campaign around his relationship with the majestic creatures RIGHT: Francoise and Lawrence with Thula Thula staff

been confirmed after his untimely passing. Anthony had made a decision a few years ago to distance himself from the once rogue herd, as they were becoming bigger – as was the number of tourists coming to Thula Thula; he did not want to endanger either party. He still met with Nana in the bush, where she would separate herself from the herd to be with him. Besides those special encounters, the herd had not been near the main lodge for more than 15 months. But within a few days of Anthony’s passing, the entire herd arrived at his house and came back every night for an entire week before parting again into the bush. Anthony was convinced that he could communicate with them on another level; their miraculous salutation only proves this was so. I was deeply touched by the great man’s words in his books and felt as if I had come to know him like an old friend. It saddened me that I would never have the opportunity to meet him in person, but I decided I simply had to go to Thula Thula myself and walk in the footprints of The Elephant Whisperer. So it was bittersweet to head off finally to the green valleys and troughs of the Elephant coast in KwaZulu-Natal to see where Lawrence Anthony once walked;

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to meet his wonderful wife, Francoise; to breathe in the serenity of the surroundings he had so treasured and, hopefully, witness first-hand the supernatural herd of elephants that had made such an impact on Anthony, his kin, the Thula Thula family and, frankly, anyone who had visited the lodge or even just read his books. The matriarch, Nana, was calling me – I could feel it. Or at least I had convinced myself so. I was waiting in anticipation as we arrived; waiting for the herd to come bounding out to meet me. That intimate encounter I had imagined happening to Anthony but, alas, it was not meant to be for myself. Not yet, at least. I put aside the imminent arrival of the herd to take in the view. And what a view it was! I recalled reading in The Elephant Whisperer that a previous drought had lasted so long that all sorts of animals from zebra to wildebeest had come right up to the doors of the main lodge, dying from dehydration. The view in front of me was the complete opposite. After a long-awaited and prosperous period of rainfall, the lush green valleys surrounding Thula Thula brought back memories of the Shaka Zulu television series; with Henry Cele playing the role of the great Zulu king, gazing

across the beautiful valleys of his kingdom. Thula Thula takes pride in tracing its origin to the private hunting grounds of King Shaka. In fact, the first historic meeting between Shaka and his father (Senzangakhona), which set the stage for the creation of the Zulu nation, took place at the Nseleni River at Thula Thula. The Zulu name ‘Thula Thula’ literally means peace and tranquility, and the name certainly fits the setting. The private game reserve is a mere two-hour drive from Durban and a five-hour drive from Johannesburg. We were met by Francoise, Anthony’s vivacious wife, whom I had come to know quite well telephonically and electronically over the weeks before our arrival, as I was writing a tribute to her husband for Leadership magazine. She was exactly as I had expected her to be – full of life, with French enthusiasm and a sense of humour that was tangible. The main lodge is beautifully laid out and the walls are adorned with Francoise’s


house and came back every night for an entire week before

again into the bush

impressive artwork. The Elephant Safari Lodge offers eight luxurious airconditioned chalets elegantly decorated in ethnic and colonial style, each with a private verandah. Thula Thula also offers the discerning traveller the option of eight luxury tents, all with private viewing decks, mosquito nets, fans and opulent en-suite bathroom with Victorian bath and an outside shower in the double tents. There are also two family tents that provide space, luxury and comfort for parents with children. No sooner had we settled into our magical rooms, than we were whisked off to the verandah to experience Francoise’s culinary skills. She has become renowned for her own brand of cuisine that she calls Franco-Zulu. Combining her French flair with African ingredients and influence makes for a unique gastronomical experience at Thula Thula that will have you resetting that belt buckle to another notch by the time you leave. While there is certainly a French influence, the meals are not petite in the portion department – they are huge! In our short time there, we feasted on venison terrine with marula jelly, seafood

bouillabaisse Creole and Francoise’s famous oxtail bourguignon with garlic crushed potato, her three-cheese and pesto feuilleté on tomato compote and her fillet of impala served on a sweet potato cake with a red wine and bacon sauce. Each dining experience at Thula Thula is a moment to remember. On our first afternoon, we set out determined to find Anthony’s herd of elephants and the orphaned rhinos that Thula Thula had adopted from a young age (see sidebar). Thula Thula is home to a diverse African wildlife population, including elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, leopard, giraffe, zebra, nyala, hyena, crocodile, kudu, wildebeest and a spectacular variety of other indigenous species, great and small. The birdlife is also prolific, with over 350 identified species, including raptors. Our rangers were extremely knowledgeable about the game and we soon saw loads of different animal species but, sadly, the elephants were eluding us. Did Nana not instinctively know I was here to see her and her herd? We did manage to find the rhinos – which was amazing, as they have two

parting

La w r en c e An th on y

Within a few days of Anthony’s passing, the entire herd arrived at his

ladies who act as their ‘mothers’ as well as their own guards who change shifts every 12 hours so that the animals are never alone. A sad reflective reality of the tragedy of rhino poaching. We returned to the main lodge in good spirits that we would find the elephant herd the following morning. That night we spent our time being entertained by Francoise in the Marula Bar, sipping many cocktails and whiskeys while she regaled us with stories about how she

Thula Thula Rhino Fund The Thula Thula rhinos, Thabo and Ntombi, are orphans who were relocated at the game reserve from Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre when they were four and eight months old, respectively. They have now been released into the game reserve under high surveillance. Armed guards accompany Thabo and Ntombi 24/7 to protect them against poachers. With a gunfight having taken place a few months ago – Thabo was shot in the front leg – as well as the loss of Heidi, a female white rhino who was killed by poachers in 2009, the need for increased protective measures is a harsh reality. In memory of Lawrence Anthony, and to assist with the protection and preservation of Thula Thula’s two special rhinos, Francoise established the Thula Thula Rhino Fund (as a chapter of The Earth Organization) in order to raise funds for the guards’ anti-poaching training and muchneeded specialised equipment, to ensure the ongoing survival of the rhinos, as well as to acquire more orphans in the future.

Thabo and Ntombi are inseparable companions

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and Anthony first met in London, when he wanted to share a taxi with her. She refused, only to have a change of heart – leaving the taxi and going after him. The rest, as they say, is history. Francoise also told us how, together with Lawrence’s mother, she planned their wedding before Anthony’s return from one of his trips abroad. When he arrived, he was told to dress for a wedding, which he did not consider strange as the lodge hosted many bush weddings. This time, however, the wedding was his own! One could clearly see that Francoise loved Anthony immensely, and while she spoke with her hands and hypnotised you with her French accent, there was a sadness behind her eyes at the obvious loss of her husband. Her passion for Thula Thula, though, has remained firm and one could tell she would carry on the legacy and that the lodge was in great hands. The next morning we set off on an early game drive to search once again for Nana and the herd of 22 elephants but, although we had loads of intrepid sightings – including a crocodile charging us while we were out the vehicle, inspecting an elephant bone – Nana was nowhere to be found. That night it seemed our disappointment would be repeated, until we suddenly heard a large crack and right in front of us stood Mabula, the biggest male elephant I had ever laid my eyes on. The crack had come from a huge tree that he had taken a mere few seconds to snap in half like it was a toothpick. This certainly made our evening, but the light had failed us and it was time to call it a day. I was concerned, as we had to leave the next morning and the thought of not seeing Nana and her calf, Lolo (affectionately named after Lawrence, and who was born in the same week he passed away) was too much to contemplate. On our way to breakfast in the morning, we decided we had to come to terms with the fact we would not see the rest of the herd and that the experience of Thula Thula had been wonderful enough – when right in front of the lodge, as if on cue, came Nana leading her entire herd behind her. It was the most incredible sight to witness. They had come to find us as I had hoped,

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and not a moment too soon. We jumped into the game vehicle and followed the herd, which now did us an even bigger favour and headed to the airstrip, the only place not covered in dense foliage. That gave us a spectacular sighting of each elephant, many of whom I knew by name from Anthony’s books. There was Nana and little Lolo, running in

little steps behind her mother. I could have sworn I saw Nana look up as if to say, “I was always going to come, you silly human, but just in my own time!” For more information go to www.thulathula.com or to donate to their Rhino Fund, contact Francoise via francoise@thula-thula.co.za

The winning couple will stay in this Suite Impériale

Win

A TRIP TO THULA THULA WORTH R10 000 WITH THE INTREPID EXPLORER MAGAZINE

Thula Thula, in conjunction with The Intrepid Explorer, invites you to take part in a special competition. One lucky couple can win a two-night stay at the game reserve: one night in the Elephant Safari Lodge in the Suite Impériale, and one night in the Luxury Tented Camp in a luxury double tent. The prize includes the following: ELEPHANT SAFARI LODGE – luxury accommodation, all meals (Franco-Zulu cuisine), daily morning bush walk, morning & afternoon game drive. LUXURY TENTED CAMP – luxury accommodation, all meals (traditional South African home cooking), daily morning bush walk, afternoon game drive. Package excludes: curio purchases, bar expenses, 1% tourism levy, and gratuities. Please note that transport or airfares to the lodge are not included. Competition question: What are the names of Thula Thula’s two rhinos? Please send your answer, with your name and contact details, to The Intrepid Explorer editor via robbie@intrepidexplorer.co.za by 31 January 2013. The winner will be notified by the editor.


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J us tin B on ello

The Intrepid Explorer gets totally cooked with celebrity chef, Justin Bonello

hook, line

and sinker Photographs Louis Hiemstra

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J us tin Bon ello

t

o rectify my lack of knowledge and to get back in touch with real fishing I went to sea with fish assassin, whale rescuer and close friend Gareth Beaumont on his boat Tyler to the rich fishing grounds 27 nautical miles off Cape Point, a region known as the Canyon. Our mission? To catch one of the fastest fish in the deep blue: Thunnus albacares (commonly known as yellow fin tuna). The first fish of the day was a long fin tuna, caught by yours truly, but this little guy was too small, and was lucky enough to be tagged, released and sent on his merry way. The second fish wasn’t so lucky and with Gareth shouting instructions – ‘bend your knees, rock back, stand up, wind!’ – I caught my very first yellow fin tuna. Weighing in at over 40kg, it was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught, and possibly one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! On the way back to shore, two things struck me straight off the bat. The first was to respect death. As much as I was shaking from the adrenalin of this experience, I didn’t expect to be affected by the reality of killing tuna (incidentally, the most humane way of doing this is by cutting a chunk out of its head and sticking a wire down its spine, killing it instantly) or the amount of blood on my hands afterward. The second thing was knowing where my fish came from. Before you buy fish, you’ve got to ask yourself ‘was this hauled in by a trawler or caught using long-line and how does it affect the environment?’ Catching and killing my own tuna gave me new respect for the seafood I eat.

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J us tin B on ello

SEARED BLACK PEPPER YELLOW FIN TUNA As much as I enjoy fishing, I’ll admit the kuier after the action and the stories told around the fire are always better. In typical Bonello-Beaumont style, that’s exactly what we did. This is finger food at its best! You’ll need • 1 loin yellow fin tuna – pole or fishing rod caught only • s oy sauce • a handful coarse black pepper • o  live oil • a vo • r eal French mayonnaise – try your hand at making your own, it’s actually really easy • a bunch of flat-leaf parsley • lemon juice Take the tuna loin, dip it into soy sauce, and while it’s still moist, roll it in the crushed black pepper until it has an even coating all over. Now heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan and drop your tuna into it. Turn it every second time you blink (about every 30 seconds) until it’s seared on all sides. Whatever you do, don’t overcook it – that’s sacrilege! Remove the tuna from the heat and while it’s resting peel your avo and cut into slices. Now using a sharp knife (if it’s not sharp, it’ll tear the tuna) cut the loin into thick slices – about 1cm wide. If it’s like sashimi in the middle, you’re right on the money! Top a slice of tuna with some avo, a dollop of that darn good mayo, parsley and a good splash of lemon. Alternatively, you can dip it into a honey soya sauce. Best served with crisp dry white wine and stories of ‘the one that got away’, while the sun is setting.

Real Mayonnaise

I’m not quite sure what’s happened to us. We’ve become so used to a lifestyle of convenience that we’ve forgotten where our food comes from, and how simple it actually is to make something like mayonnaise. These fast-paced lives we lead are slowly robbing us of the joys of growing, farming and later preparing our own food

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Honey and Soya Sauce

This is very straightforward. All you need is good quality honey, soya sauce and a splash of port. Mix it up according to your taste. Done.

– so take back some of that stolen knowledge and make your own mayo. To avoid getting a tired, cramped hand, use an electric beater, or just toughen up. • 1 egg yolk • half a lemon • canola oil Crack the egg and separate the white from the yolk. Pour the yolk into a bowl and start whisking – you’re going to whisk till the bitter end. Add one or two squeezes of lemon juice and then one drop of canola oil. Add a little more oil, and then a little more. Stop when it starts looking like thick paint. Well done! You’ve made your own mayonnaise! PS: Give your dog the egg white as a treat.


J us tin Bon ello

west coast kreef chowder This recipe takes a while to make, so I’m going to skip telling you about its origin, and all the adventures we had that weekend at the Beach Camp so you can just get on with it. It takes an afternoon, but is worth it. The big idea is that you taste the sea. Fire First up, make a big fire. You’re going to cook loads of stuff on it, so you need all the heat and all the space you can get.

Chowder: You’ll need • As many permits as friends (it’s the law) • a whole lot of mussels (probably enough to fill a mediumsized potjie) • white wine • 2 whole fish – gutted and scaled (any kind, but try to stick to something that’s local to where you are – I used the

Hottentot Gareth caught) • 3 or 4 cleaned kreef (crayfish) – preferably fresh and only when in season Heat up a potjie, chuck in all the mussels and a good splash of white wine (pour a glass for yourself too – this is hard work). Steam the mussels. When they open, remove from the heat and set aside. Next up, whack the fish on a grid and braai until cooked, turning every so often so it doesn’t burn. Then clean the crayfish and braai for about 5 minutes, shell side down, until the meat turns from translucent to opaque/white. Take all your seafood to a big table and now get your friends to help. Mussels Clean the mussels by pulling out the beard and taking the mussel off the shell. Chuck the shells back into the ocean, along with any mussels that aren’t open – you don’t want to give your mates seafood poisoning.

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spoon, crunch the kreef shells to release all their flavour. At the hour mark taste and season accordingly. Next, strain the stock through a sieve, then through a tripled muslin cloth (serious) and put it back on the fire. The idea behind the straining is to get rid of any impurities so that you end up with a nice clear stock. Last bits and bobs . . . • about six large tomatoes – chopped • 2 red onions – sliced • crayfish meat • fish • mussels • fresh basil Add the chopped tomatoes, red onion, crayfish meat and fish to the strained stock and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the mussels and leave them to heat up while you go gather your starving friends (if they’re not lined up already). I like to serve the chowder over rice garnished with basil and with a green salad and chunks of warm garlic bread on the side. Mooi.

Kreef and fish Yank off the kreef tops (heads) and chuck them into a bowl. Pull out all that lovely sweet white meat from the tails, putting it into a separate bowl. Add the empty tails into the bowl with the kreef tops. Flake the fish and mix it into the kreef meat (removing any sharp bones). Chuck the skeleton, bones and skin in with the kreef shells. PS: A lot of the flavour of fish resides in the skin, shell and bones and it’s the base for the stock. You’ll need • a whole whack of leeks • a couple of celery stalks – leaves and all • a couple of bay leaves • fish bones, skin and heads • Maldon salt to taste • water

• • • • •

a bunch of carrots a couple of cloves of garlic – crushed crayfish heads and shells black pepper to taste a splash of vino

Roughly chop up all the vegetables and toss everything into a potjie pot, including the garlic, bay leaves, kreef shells, fish bones, black pepper and crushed salt. Top it up with water and a splash of wine. Then, using the back of a wooden

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Win!

with The Intrepid Explorer and Justin Bonello Two lucky readers will stand a chance to receive the Justin Bonello cooks for friends cookbook. All you need to do is answer this simple question and send it to the editor. Two winners will be chosen and notified by 31 January if they have won. The question is: What is Justin Bonello holding in his hands on the front cover of his cookbook? Send your answer to robbie@intrepidexplorer.co.za


An gus B egg

familyaffair

a

When journeying with kids, we drive better, become more aware of those who don’t like children or aren’t in the mood for them, and we often establish immediate bonds with other parents in a similar situation, writes Angus Begg.

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Travelling with children opens a new window on the world


An gus B egg

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e get to bond with the most important people in our lives, to learn about them and feed their interests and desires. Partners and spouses can come and go, but our children never will. Here are a few great places to travel with your little ones.

Umlani Bushcamp, Timbavati Private Game Reserve The noise outside our reed-walled hut is deafening, encroaching. My two-and-ahalf year-old Fynn has never heard anything like it, and wraps his little arms around my leg. A short, sharp intake of breath illustrates his unease. The three-quarter reed wall does little to soften the cacophony. “Frogs,” repeats Fynn after me in a hushed whisper. By design, the experience is one of complete immersion. Crickets, frogs, badgers, nightjars and owls rustle and tweet themselves awake. Without aircon

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and bricks ‘n’ mortar to seal out the bush, the imagination is left to run wild – especially when that heavy breathing of the leopard saws its way through the subconscious. But all was good and we woke to a beautiful morning, with scary frogs replaced by panicking francolins and weavers busy about their nests. Rising with the bushveld in spring is a privilege. The game drive was leaving at 05h30, and I’d resolved to miss it if Fynn wasn’t awake. Being so little, I know how important it is – for my own sanity as much as that of the other guests – that he gets his full quota of sleep. I also wanted to witness his waking to this world. Thankfully, camp manager David had arranged a separate drive for us. Why is it great for children? While Umlani doesn’t campaign to get children, the simple, rustic, oil-lamp and unfussy nature of the camp allows them to live ‘real bush’ just for a while. Visit www.umlani.com for more information.


worked at the inn. Sidney reminisces with another guest – who first came here as a child himself – about the horses they’ve been riding together since childhood. Fynn loved the place. While his perfect mimicking of the ubiquitous Hadeda Ibis is a crowd pleaser, our early-morning walk in pyjamas across the wet lawn introduced new pleasures: funnel spiders, long shadows lent by the rising sun, and “ooh, horsies!”. Why is it great for children? It caters for everything they – and their parents – need. And in beautiful surroundings, too. A parent doesn’t often come across a place like this. Further information can be found at www. eightbells.co.za.

Eight Bells Mountain Inn – Robinson Pass, outside Mossel Bay En route to a Garden Route that has been hammered by the recent global recession, we called to check if Eight Bells had a room for three of us: me, my six-months pregnant Alison and our well-travelled toddler, Fynn. The positive answer meant we could change plans and stop over instead of driving straight through to our destination. The Inn started life as the only watering hole for mid-19th century travellers heading over the Attakwas Pass into the Little Karoo in the southern Cape. Since the 1970s, however, it has gradually been fashioned into a getaway that ticks all the right family boxes. How else do you describe a really affordable place that has underfloor heating for that inevitable mountain chill? Or which manages to feel luxurious yet safe – an unusual combination – while your busy toddler creates his own world of relative chaos? Truth be told, we didn’t know it was a four-star establishment – a bit like those almost legendary Wild Coast family hotels here in South Africa. There’s nothing fussy about this almost century-old inn, yet parents’ every need is catered for. For R10, kids are taken for a ride on a karretjie, a horse-drawn cart. “See you later, Mommy!”, says my beaming son from his position in the front seat. He is sitting next

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, near Montagu in the Klein Karoo to a six-year-old named Ben, whom he has just ‘met’ and naturally admires – and who himself is with two younger siblings and an assortment of friends. Speaking to his mother while walking alongside the cart, I learn that families have been coming here for generations. On the subject of longevity, the karretjie is led by a 30-something horse handler named Sidney, whose father also

What gets you most about the Little Karoo is the sense of space. We at African Storybook think of Sanbona as the best wildlife destination within striking distance (a comfortable four hours) of Cape Town. This part of the world is fossil heaven, a land where the likes of the BBC and NatGeo frequently come to tell dinosaur and origin tales. Great for kids, although apparently what wasn’t so lekker was the

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An gus B egg dirt road for a mommy two months short of delivering Saskia… But what Mommy Alison also remembers is the sheer beauty of the landscape. Preferring lush green to colours of a mostly dry and earthy tinge, she was taken in by the sheer scale of it all; the silence, the sky and the fact that every sound was amplified by the absence of acoustic distraction: the clicks of the elands’ hooves as they approached the waterhole; the whip of the Cape Zebra’s tail, pursuing a fly on its rump; the turtle dove’s signature call that heralds the quickening of the setting sun. To everything is added significance in this landscape. And that was just from our balcony. For the sake of clarity, apart from creatures such as the leopard, duiker, jackal, mountain zebra and Cape Fox, big game like rhino and elephant would never have settled in such areas, simply because there isn’t enough water. They would’ve migrated through, keeping time with the seasons, always en route to optimal conditions. But as we successfully transplanted the first human heart in South Africa, so have we pioneered the world of managed wildlife reserves in Africa. Over a ridge, down a valley and past the remains of an old shepherd’s cottage, we saw cheetah. I was present for the release of the cheetah at Sanbona over 10 years back, and I learnt that they had been mildly habituated. Cheetahs are a threatened species not often seen in

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South Africa. To see the three beautiful young males close up was a privilege. Little Fynn didn’t get to share in this excitement because, unlike our visit to the Timbavati, here he was too young for a game drive. “Awww, what about Fynn?” would’ve been the response, eyes downcast. Yet, Sanbona’s Gondwana Lodge is the most child-friendly safari establishment you’re likely to see. Why is it great for children? There’s only one other lodge I know where people are encouraged to bring their children. Yet, whereas there they are essentially kept apart from the parents at mealtimes, here giggling children are a common sight in the dining room and television area – and there’s a fantastic playroom. Check it out at www.sanbona.com.

Cape Agulhas, Southern Cape Cape Agulhas is a relative case. It ‘demands’ a drive of little over an hour from the N2 Bredasdorp turnoff to get there. But once you get past the occasional dodgy examples of boere-baroque holiday-home architecture, there’s a very good chance you’ll feel like we did: a bit like our Fynn with a model Spitfire. Spared the said dodgy taste in houses, we ended up in a virtual opposite – a trendy, minimalist spot: the Ocean Art House, right across the road from the ocean. It’s an art gallery-cum-guest house with a staircase and a café.

It’s owned by a successful German sculptor and painter, Rudi Neuland, and his wife, Anna. She’s also an artist. Their artwork was everywhere, free-standing and easily reachable. With three-year-old Fynn and newborn Saskia along for the ride, like us you may ask the question: why? Fortunately, the weekend passed without any breakages, and we soon developed a serious liking for L’Agulhas. The southernmost tip of Africa is home to rocky shores and notoriously angry waters that have claimed more than 150 ships, and is the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic oceans – all watched over by the second-oldest lighthouse in the country. And just around the corner – five minutes in a car – are the gentle waters of Stilbaai. Characterised by gentle rollers, this is a beach quite simply as beautiful as any other – provided you don’t mind the absence of palm trees and coconuts. It’s a white, sandy beach of 25 kilometres, anchored by a lighthouse, a restaurant and a tiny fishing harbour. Swimming right up to curious onlookers among the small fishing boats are a group of habituated eagle rays. Why is it great for children? The lighthouse is fantastic. Fynn loved the climb up the narrow staircase to the top – and the chocolate cake in the tearoom down at the bottom. The rays in the harbour are a magnet. Great calamari and fish. And it’s safe. See www. tourismcapeagulhas.co.za.


rhino rage

Dr Ian Player writes that rhinos have a particularly plaintive cry – and once heard, it is never forgotten

i

We face an extremely serious and dangerous situation with the rhino. The killing of this

animal is unprecedented since the massacre in the early 19th century when hunters from Europe and America slaughtered the rhino.

always remember seeing my first white rhino as a young game ranger in 1952 in uMfolozi Game Reserve. It was a misty morning, and two of these prehistoric beasts emerged from the haze. This sight touched something deep inside of me. We know from historical records that when the first Settlers came to southern Africa, there were hundreds of thousands of rhino between Kuruman and the Zambezi River. Between 1820 and 1894, an untold number were killed and they were thought to be extinct. Then a hunter, Sir Henry McCallum, hunting at the junction of the White and Black uMfolozi Rivers, shot two rhino and, to his astonishment, they turned out to be white rhino. There was an outcry, and the governor of the Colony of Natal was prevailed upon to proclaim what became the first game reserves on the continent of Africa: uMfolozi, Hluhluwe and Lake St Lucia (isiMangaliso). We owe the existence of the parks to the white rhino, a harmless and inoffensive

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animal. It was only after the proclamation of these parks that the rest of Africa followed suit. By the early 1920s, the white rhino population was estimated at about 50 in the uMfolozi Game Reserve – a count done by the early conservators, Major Frederick Vaughan-Kirby, Mali Mdhletshe and Magqubu Ntombela. It was VaughanKirby, William Foster and Captain HB Potter who played vital and prominent roles in the early protection of the white and black rhino. In 1953, as a young ranger in the uMfolozi Game Reserve, I did the very first aerial count of the white rhino with ranger Hendrik van Schoor; we counted 437 white rhino. In that year, there were an estimated 60 000 black rhino on the African continent and 2 000 of the northern white rhino in the Congo, Uganda and the Sudan. The northern white rhino are now extinct in these three countries, and the black rhino has been reduced to about 4 800, of which the larger proportion is in South Africa. In 1960, with the help of Colonel Jack Vincent, the director, I was able to persuade the Natal Parks Board to initiate Operation Rhino, and it was eventually hailed as one of the most successful conservation exercises in the world. Not only did we distribute the animals back into their former habitats from the Northern Cape, Zimbabwe and Botswana, but also to overseas safari parks and zoos. In 1970, we had so many white rhino that they were put back on the hunting list. It is ironic that this led not only to an increase in the white rhino population, but also to the establishment of a large number of game ranches. Rhino were

bought initially for a few hundred rand, then sold to international hunters for US$25 000. The money was invested in the expansion of game ranches. When I began my career in 1952, we game rangers were hated and loathed by the farming community due to the ravages of the tsetse fly. Many of us were assaulted when we entered towns such as Mtubatuba and Hluhluwe, where cattle and sisal were king. In those early days, it would take a whole day before one darted rhino could be brought to the bomas. There were many injuries to those of us who participated. I lost sight in one eye and have a serious back injury. Clark and Steele were badly injured as well. South Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal in particular, can look with pride upon its achievements with the rhino. We brought them back from the verge of extinction and there are now an estimated 18 000 white rhino in the world. This is from an original number of 50 in the 1920s – surely a phenomenal achievement. There are 4 200 black rhino, the majority of which are in South Africa. These are the stark historical facts. I ask you to imagine the despair we now feel at this catastrophic killing that is occurring – and the white rhino are the ones who are suffering most. There have been horrendous incidents in which rhino have had their horns chopped off while still alive. The animals’ suffering can only be imagined. My great fear is that, whereas the white rhino may be able to withstand the poaching, the black rhino would not. I believe we shall save the rhino again. But do not let us be deluded, the red flag is showing; we are up against terrible dark


forces that threaten to overwhelm us. To stop this unprecedented killing, our first priority must be to give all possible support to conservation agencies and private landowners in the protection of rhino. In addition, we have to look at every alternative for the animal’s survival. A recent article in TIME magazine clearly indicates that the Far East is preparing to farm the rhino for its horn. There is a deep-seated belief held by millions of people in the Far East that the horn has medicinal properties, and this belief will not be changed by rational arguments. We now need to debate, in all possible forums, the merits and demerits of legalising the sale of rhino horn. The Wilderness Foundation South Africa has made its situation quite clear: it is in favour of limited trade with horns that have been gathered as a result of natural mortality. Furthermore, we must remember the stark fact that this planet is now

overpopulated with human beings – seven billion and rising. Hence the critical need to put the environment at the top of the political agenda. It is the duty of all of us to continue reminding those in power that the environment must come first. Finally, let me end with a Zen quote: “What we need in the world today is to hear within us the sounds of the Earth crying.” I would add to this, that the screams of agony of rhino that have had their horns chopped off while still alive should reach out into the hearts of all of us. Rhino have a particularly plaintive cry – and once heard, it is never forgotten.

Dr Ian Player is one of the world’s outstanding conservationists and environmental statesmen; the founder of the Wilderness Leadership School and The WILD Foundation; and received the 2012 Anton Rupert Award for Lifetime Achievement in Conservation.

Rhino Calendar The world-renowned Shamwari Group recently launched a Celebrity Ambassador Rhino Calendar to help raise awareness and muchneeded funds for the plight of the rhino in South Africa. The calendar has the support of the Wilderness Foundation and Dr Ian Player. The celebrities who generously offered their time and energy toward the creation of the calendar include Josie Borain, Bernelee Daniell, Pnina Fenster, Katlego Maboe, Irit Noble, Sam Pegg and the two youth ambassadors, Jagger Pegg-Khalifa and Noa PeggShuttleworth. The extensive shoot took place at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, just outside Cape Town, by renowned photographer Andrew Brown, who also donated his time to the cause. The calendars will first be available for purchase at each Shamwari Group property: Sanbona Wildlife Reserve near Cape Town, Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape and Jock Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park. All proceeds will be presented to the Wilderness Foundation through the Shamwari Group’s Forever Wild Campaign, which has already during the course of 2012 raised substantial funds for rhino awareness and protection. The calendar is perpetual, making it reusable every year, as it is not restricted to the day or month. Each month presents a different photo of a celebrity ambassador, the Shamwari Group game rangers, wildlife and properties alongside an ‘awareness quote’. A selection of Shamwari Group photos were taken by IKY’s Photographic. Other photo credits include Riaan Brand, Louis Strauss and Dave Olsen.

Dr Ia n Pla yer

Shamwari Group launches Celebrity Ambassador

For more information on obtaining the calendar, go to www.shawarigroup.com and look out for the calendars on sale in Cape Union Mart stores in early 2013.

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Roy Wa tts

Incredible

The

Journey

From the sea to the sand – and back again

Tucked away in one of the remotest corners of South Africa is a resort where one of nature’s greatest enigmas is played out on a seasonal basis. It is also a destination of immense charm. Roy Watts set out to observe the incredible life cycle of leatherback turtles. Photographs Chris Boyes and Getty Images The Intrepid Explorer issue 1

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R oy Wa tts

t

his is the story about an extraordinary place and an amazing journey. The place is the Rocktail Bay Beach Camp in the Maputoland Marine Reserve, 80 kilometres south of the Mozambique border. It is a World Heritage Site offering some of the best diving in South Africa, with the world’s ‘scuberati’ arriving from all four corners to explore this marine wonderland. The journey starts on the beach fronting the resort. On a steaming summer’s night, a temperature dropping below 29 degrees Celsius triggers a response from thousands of leatherback and loggerhead turtles ready to leave their eggs in nests on a coastline that, in South Africa, stretches some 60km all the way down to Mabibi. This is nature’s way of ensuring the long crawl to freedom starts under the cover of darkness as thousands of hatchlings inch their way toward the sea at an agonisingly slow rate. At least 12% won’t make it as they fall prey to the thousands of ghost crabs lying in wait. And of those that do, only one or two out of every thousand will survive drowning in the surf and a phalanx of predators as they take their place in the ocean’s food chain. The lucky surviving female leatherback ‘lottery winner’ sets out on a journey that will cover thousands of miles as she heads

The lucky surviving female leatherback ‘lottery winner’

really a tough rubbery layer of flexible skin stretched over a frame that allows for a high degree of compression as she dives down to the inky blackness of depths exceeding a kilometre. It is here that she finds the food source she needs, and in withstanding the immense pressure of a dive lasting some 45 minutes, her body is severely compacted and she becomes more tubular in shape. Surviving in these frigid waters absorbs a great deal of energy, and after a while it becomes necessary to return to the warmth of the tropics to recharge her circulatory system – thus setting up a cycle of migration between warm and frigid waters. After some 15 to 20 years traversing the oceans of the globe, our leatherback female now weighs somewhere in the region of 700kg, having set out as a hatchling not much bigger than a

sets out on a journey that will cover thousands of miles as she heads south toward the frigid waters of the Antarctic. south toward the frigid waters of the Antarctic in search of the jellyfish that will become her staple diet. When fully grown, she will consume some 200 kilogrammes a day! Aiding her on this mission is a remarkable physiology. She is insulated by a thick layer of oily fat that she can metabolise to provide body heat, and a unique circulatory system that protects her from extremes of temperature as she moves from the warmth of the tropics to the freezing waters of the Deep South. Her shell is

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R oy Wa tts matchbox. The males grow to a size exceeding a tonne and never return to land, as their flippers and back legs would be unable to cope with the rigours of movement on terra firma. Being sexually mature, she mates – but this is no Mills & Boon affair. In a chance encounter the bigger, stronger male descends upon the roaming leatherback and, without a hint of bonding, romance or foreplay, deposits his sperm in her storage pouch where it can last for up to two years. He then paddles off into the blue. It is believed this process may be repeated with several males as she begins her journey back to the place where she hatched all those years ago. In one of nature’s miracles, she finds her way back to the exact locality of her birth – and as one who got lost twice en route to the resort, this is a source of great wonderment for me! As she approaches the nesting site, in a procedure lasting some 10 days, she converts approximately 100 embryos into eggs. On arrival, she waits in the wash zone until dark, and then heaves her cumbersome body onto the beach, making landfall for the first time since setting out as a hatchling. Muscles that propelled her with speed and grace through the water now struggle to drag the enormous body along the sand and up onto a ridge. Digging a perfect hole with her flippers, she lowers her head and, in a trance-like state, deposits a fully developed clutch

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of eggs. These are covered with sand, compacted by the weight of her body and laboriously camouflaged, before she starts the arduous return trip into the sea. In a cycle requiring another 10 days, the process is repeated, and continues until she has deposited about 1 000 eggs in separate nests. Exhausted, she moves back into the ocean to resume her globetrotting, leaving incubation up to the heat of the tropics. The resultant hatchlings are left to fend for themselves. The waters off Rocktail Bay play host to other species such as hawksbills, olive ridleys and green turtles, but only leatherbacks and loggerheads actually nest there. All are endangered, and the Beach Camp staff – working in close co-operation with KwaZuluNatal Wildlife – play a vital role in the collection and collation of data so necessary in aiding their survival. Every night, fortunate resort guests set out in 4x4s with the designated and dedicated researchers to witness this extraordinary cycle of life. Apart from recording progress, they tag and microchip the adult females in their hypnotic state as they lay their eggs. They sometimes attach transponders onto the backs of a few large animals and, with GPS and depth-measuring facilities in place, can monitor their feeding and migratory habits for up to nine months. After a year or so, the ropes rot and the instruments fall off.


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South Africa, up close and personal

Road trippin’ You needn’t look beyond the borders of our beautiful country – or fork out thousands of rands – for a memorable holiday, writes

i

Ryan Sandes.

’ve been fortunate to travel the world and explore all seven continents, but all these adventures involve getting on a plane, flying thousands of miles and nervously trying to navigate my way through border control on a South African passport. These experiences are both epic and life-changing, but also foreign. There are language barriers, cars that drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, cultural diversity, interesting culinary challenges, law systems that are different, and our rand that does not go very far in most countries abroad. To put it simply, it’s just not ‘home’. People, including myself, pay thousands to travel overseas; don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change this for anything as I live to travel and love experiencing new cultures and seeing the world. But it wasn’t until a recent trip to the Southern Drakensberg that I remembered just how awesome our country is and how much I’ve missed exploring it. While packing my Nissan X-Trail, I felt like an explorer about to set sail on a maiden voyage. I didn’t have to worry about clearing customs or that my bags were too heavy, so I had carte blanche to pack the proverbial kitchen sink! Even Thandi (our SPCA special) was able to join us; you’d be pleasantly surprised how many dog-friendly accommodation options there are all over South Africa. It helps, of course, that Thandi is a very well-behaved, highly trained, extremely pedigreed dog from the K9 unit... Okay, so that’s a slight

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exaggeration, but she’s a lovely little thing. A question asked by one guesthouse owner: “Does she chase sheep?” Answer: “Um, noooo.” (We have never tested this theory, though.) My girlfriend Vanessa and I boarded our ‘ship’, which was packed to the brim with mountain bikes loaded on the rack, and started our road trip to the Eastern Cape – specifically the area around Lady Grey, close to the Lesotho border. The long trip is best broken up into two days. We stayed over at a lovely B&B called Stoneridge Guesthouse, at Gariep Dam in the Free State. On arrival, we were greeted with the best boerekos I have had in a long time, complete with pumpkin fritters! The views over Gariep, one of South Africa’s largest dams, are breathtaking. As the sun poured herself over the arid Karoo the next morning, we drove over the very impressive dam wall toward Lady Grey. This part of the Eastern Cape is like a scene taken straight from the pages of a storybook: As far as the eye can see, there are rolling grassy mountains and some of the highest cathedral rock formations. Crystal-clear icy streams and rivers – teeming with trout and other wildlife – meandered through the farms we visited. The meadows are home to hundreds of free-ranging cattle and sheep, and I felt as if I’d been taken back in time when we settled into our stone cottage on Balloch Farm, about an hour’s drive from Barkley East. The massive rock formations here look prehistoric and the bushman rock art tells stories of a time we can only imagine. Although this area is mostly farmland,

city slickers like us filter in throughout the year to enjoy anything from trout fishing to trail running and horse-riding. From June to August, it’s a winter wonderland covered in a blanket of white. Who says it doesn’t snow in South Africa? And what road trip is complete without camping? The tent that was gathering dust in our garage back home was finally put to use. Vanessa, post-Survivor, does not and will never again sleep on the hard ground, so she ensured a comfy blow-up mattress had been brought along. I made a fire (beats fists on chest like a primal animal) and cooked some steaks. There’s nothing quite like zipping open your tent on an early dewy morning and breathing in that crisp, fresh air. We had no particular plans or route in mind when we left Cape Town and the sense of freedom this gave me was inexplicable. I was ‘home’, but still venturing into the unknown with very little knowledge of the area. The people we met on this trip were so warm and inviting, leaving such an impression on both myself and Vanessa. We have it all: rugged coastlines with pristine white beaches; golden savannah planes; lush green forests; mountains that seem to go on forever; bushveld that’s home to the Big 5 – a country rich in history and diverse in culture. Until now, I’d forgotten just how special those holidays up the Garden Route were as a teenager. South Africa truly is an incredible place, and we need not look beyond its borders when planning a holiday.


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No lim its

pole position

It’s not about winning, it’s all about friendships and compassion, writes Braam Malherbe

We often so easily take what we have for granted. Before leaving for Antarctica in December last year, I was sitting on my patio on Signal Hill, admiring the sunset and listening to the Cape Robins begin their evening chorus. I was contemplating how I had felt back in 2006

before departing to run the 4 200 kilometres of the Great Wall of China, as a world-first with

w

David Grier. I remembered how I had sensed a deep foreboding: Was I going to come home alive or in a box? Photograph Paul & Henri van Schalkwyk

ith extreme adventures, this is a natural and important consideration. I recalled how I had explained to my son Benjamin, then just 17, that I would rather try something that could change people’s lives and thinking, than one day lie on my deathbed regretting that I hadn’t tried. Now that foreboding returned as I thought about the vast, frozen, lonely wilderness that is the Antarctic high plateau. Was I ready? I was already missing home as the sun bid a melancholic farewell as it dipped below the Atlantic horizon. Nothing could have prepared me for the cold of that giant ice block down under! When I stepped out of the Russian Ilyushin cargo aircraft, the cold wind took my breath away. “This is nothing compared to the high plateau,” said a chirpy Pete. I had chosen Peter van Kets as my partner to join me in representing South Africa in this epic centenary race

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to the South Pole. Pete is a legend. He is the only African to have rowed 5 400km across the Atlantic Ocean solo, and completely unassisted. In my view, he had the staying capacity and the maturity to take on this mammoth race. I was right. It was in 1912 that the Brit, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and his team tried to beat Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, to reach 90° south first. Amundsen, using only huskies, beat Scott by a margin of a few weeks. Scott, after seeing Amundsen’s cairn at the Pole, wrote his last diary entry: “The Pole. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected… It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. For God’s sake, look after our people.” Scott and his team all perished, just 11 miles (18km) from their final replenishment tent. Our race would be a little different. We would have no huskies, but would be ‘man-hauling’: we would be pulling our 80-kilogramme pulks (sleds) across 768km of the high plateau to the Pole.

The centenary race is completely unassisted. If you so much as touch a rescue vehicle (we saw these vehicles only three times), you would be disqualified. Before the start at 83°, we pulled our pulks uphill for 120km during our acclimatisation phase. Why acclimatise, you may ask? The Arctic is predominantly frozen sea ice, whereas Antarctica has ice with an average thickness of 3km on the plateau. While not the height of Kilimanjaro, the air is said to be as thin. After negotiating multiple crevasse fields, we got stuck in a blizzard for three days. Then, into the Basler aircraft for a four-hour flight over nothing; the Antarctic plateau is aptly described as the highest, driest, coldest and windiest desert on Earth. There is no life there – not even bacteria in the ice. Our race is also said to be the most extreme one on the planet. For me, the sensory deprivation was one of the greatest issues to deal with. No colour, minimal taste, and no smell. I said to Pete at the outset that we were


not going to race this thing. To put things into perspective: we were up against six other teams, all of whom had been training hard for over two years. The Brits had put in two teams to try and level their odds against the Norwegians. They never came close. The Norwegian team had been cross-country skiing since childhood. Pete and I had donned cross-country skis for the first time just eight weeks prior to the start of the race! We were a little like the Jamaican bobsled team in the movie, Cool Runnings. In fact, we even named our pulks after their bobsled, ‘Tallulah’. We decided to do it rather for a purpose beyond our mere egos. We did it to highlight the big issue of climate change. This was going to be ‘a race against time’. To reach the South Pole before the cut-off meant we would have to cover a minimum of 30km a day for 24 days. Doesn’t sound like much, but at an average temperature of -45 degrees Celsius, over lumpy terrain, often going uphill for hours, we had to move for 12

hours per day, with two stops to fuel ourselves for a maximum of 15 minutes. The vast nothingness made me dream of home: the warmth and beauty, the

what we could all do to be assets to this Earth. This is my DOT campaign: We are all just dots on our planet; but if each of us just Does One Thing, we can collectively shape

Our race would be a little different. We would have no huskies, but would be ‘man-hauling’: we would be pulling our 80-kilogramme pulks (sleds) across 768km of

the high plateau to the Pole.

animals and trees, my loved ones. I thought of the amazing privilege I have of living on Signal Hill; the warm sun on my skin at my favourite rock pool at a place called Beaverlac. A great sadness overcame me as I understood the damage we are causing our finite home. But this kept me going. I wanted to share my views with people, and

a positive future. Pete and I reached the Pole in third position, having assisted the team British Green to the end by carrying 13kg each of their pulks – friends for life through adversity. For me, it’s not about winning, it’s all about friendships and compassion.

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Spea k in g f r om th e Sum m it

holy mountain A journey to the foot of Chomolungma

a

s the wheels of the 20-seater Buddha Air twin-propped aircraft hit the runway and the plane started grinding to a screeching halt, all the passengers on board screamed and started clapping with a sigh of incredible relief. Since taking off from the mystical city of Kathmandu 30 minutes earlier, most of them had sat holding on to their seats with sweaty palms, knowing that they were about to land at Tenzing-Hillary in Lukla – the world’s most dangerous airport, and the gateway to the Solo Khumbu region of the Himalaya and to the base camp of the world’s highest mountain. All the planning and preparation was done. We had travelled to Nepal and after two days of exploring the city, had left the hustle and bustle of the Thamel district of Kathmandu, with its multitude of trekking and souvenir shops, restaurants and bars, bakeries, money changers, vegetable and spice markets, temples and stupas (Buddhist places of meditation, usually housing the ashes of the deceased), hooting cars, ubiquitous rickshaws and bicycles – and we were finally ready to begin our trek into the quiet and solitude of the mountains.

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It was here that we met the rest of our staff and porters who would accompany us all the way to Base Camp. Lukla is a quaint little village, beautifully adorned with colourful gift shops and climbing stores. As we made our way down the main thoroughfare, dodging yak and zopke (cross between a cow and a yak) carrying 60-kilogramme loads, we were inspired by the music emanating from every opening. Little did we know that the Tibetan chant, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ (‘Hail, the jewel in the lotus flower’), would be heard frequently along our journey. Our first night was spent in one of the local teahouses in Phakding. A typical family-owned trekkers’ lodge has a central dining room with wooden tables and chairs and it is often heated by means of a yak-dung fireplace. The owners are generally charming and the food is delicious. For a small fee, you can usually access the Internet, have a hot shower and fill your water bottles with boiled water. The rooms are basic and invariably sleep two, and the toilets and washing areas are likely to be at the end of the passage. We would learn to love the camaraderie, the engaging stories about the day’s adventures and the card- and game playing that would take place in

these charming teahouse dining rooms. The following day we continued our trek along the banks of the Dudh Kosi, crossing this majestic river many times on exciting suspension bridges laden with prayer flags. We finally reached Namche Bazaar, rested in a U-shaped bowl amphitheatre surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides and opening out to the Bhote Kosi River on the other. Namche Bazaar is a prosperous trading town and many Tibetans cross the nearby border via the Nangpa La pass to trade their wares; the local market is a fascinating spectacle. It would take us another seven days to reach Base Camp from Namche Bazaar and it would be critical that we acclimatised carefully so as not to jeopardise our experience in this spectacular environment. Our trek continued along the rushing glacial waters of the Dudh Kosi toward Tengboche, situated in a clearing surrounded by dwarf firs and rhododendrons and which is famous for its beautiful monastery. Views from here of the Himalayan giants are deemed to be the most magnificent in the world. In the distance, we could see the jet-stream plume blowing off Everest, otherwise known as Chomolungma (‘Mother Goddess of the World’) to the


Ronnie Muhl shares the memorable moments of his trek to the base camp of Mount Everest

local people. She was flanked by Lhotse on the right and Nuptse on the left. As we gazed to our right, we could see the majestic Ama Dablam, Kangtega and Thamserku. The monastery at Tengboche is one of the biggest in Nepal. Inside are incredibly ornate wall hangings, a six-metre tall sculpture of Buddha, and the musical instruments and robes of the lamas (Tibetan high priests). Later that day, we were summoned by the sound of a conch to attend a ceremony performed by the head lama of the monastery. The mystical Buddhist chanting accompanied by drums, bells and cymbals left one feeling reverent and in touch with a much deeper part of oneself. As the trek continued, we spent two nights in Dingboche, as part of our acclimatisation process. We continued to Lobuche; by now we could really feel the effects of the altitude as we approached the 5 000m mark. The trek to Gorak Shep initially follows the western side of the Khumbu Valley and ascends gently through meadows beside the glacial moraine. The ascent becomes somewhat challenging where, in places, an active glacier is under the moraine and the trail is constantly changing. En route to Gorak Shep, the

conical peak of Pumori comes into view. We spent the night in this small basic village and the following day made our way to the base camp of Everest. Our hearts were pounding – not only because of the thin air we were breathing, but because of the excitement of this mind-blowing location. Base Camp is located at the foot of the

flanks – but that would have to wait for another day. For the first time, I fully appreciated how these incredible peaks touch our lives. These were moments to be savoured and cherished for the rest of our days. Then it was time to leave. On one level, it felt sad to be starting our

Views from here of the Himalayan giants are deemed to be the most magnificent in the world. In the distance, we could see the jet-stream plume blowing off Everest, otherwise known as Chomolungma (‘Mother Goddess of the World’) to the local people. Khumbu Icefall and is spread over a wide area; during the expedition season, it resembles a tented town. As we stood in this bowl surrounded by Pumori, Lingtren, Khumbutse, Lhotse and Nuptse, there was Chomolungma, standing proud. This was a poignant moment. As we gazed up at her, we realised that she was staring back at us, almost inviting us to step onto her

descent, but we knew that the mountains had made us whole again. We had experienced something that had changed our lives forever and knew that some day we would return. If you would like to join Ronnie Muhl on one of life’s great adventures, visit www.adventuresglobal.net or call him on 082 777 8151.

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Th e Va ga bon d

Getting the bug from Begg

O

ver 20 years down the road of adult travel, I still struggle to define the ‘traveller’. One person’s journey of inspiration could well be another’s hell or discomfort. Some delight in a Kruger Park rest camp, others in a luxury lodge. Some like road trips, others throw up. Some are happy to sleep on beaches, and a few even like the froth on their cappuccino. About the only place common ground is found is in the discomfort of economy-class seating. Wherever we go, on leisure or business, we have to get there. Taking in dust, tarmac and air miles – the more we travel, the more we grow. And, quite naturally, the more we know: about destinations, people, animals and discovery. It’s exploration that expresses itself best in travel. Whatever the clichés about ‘life as a journey not a destination’, they exist because, for most of us, they ring true, such as arriving in Greece as a traveller for the first time – from London on a bus. With a bunch of youngsters (using dole money for the week), we crossed Europe. Homeward-bound Greek mamas boarded with large shopping bags from dimly lit street corners in Vienna. We paid to use toilets in what was then a ‘free’ West Germany, and South Africans without second passports were turned back on the wrong side of the Yugoslav border. That same passport allowed entry into Egypt from Israel. Here, Peugeot 504 taxis used hooters instead of headlights; at rustic Sinai beach resorts, dope was offered like – and in lieu of – a key to a room. Rwandans fleeing from the literal slaughter by their own in the June of 1994 shared notes on how to make the perfect

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coffee. Huddled outside their NGOdonated tents listening to Radio RSA, they were an educated people, with their earthly possessions tied in a bundle on their heads. Conversation offered a semblance of normality. It was a world close on 20 years removed from that of luxury and lodges. To such a place in a Zululand game reserve I recently went to write uninterrupted, taking with me my Fynn of 45 months (to share the experience). Here I came to accept that it probably was visits to wilderness areas with my family as a prepubescent youngster that helped develop my interest in wildlife and the natural world. Back then camping really pissed me off because every holiday involved a trailer, setting up on some inevitably rocky piece of ground with a shared toilet in a national park. Looking through my father’s slides of my earliest days in late-1960s Canada, every holiday we took involved a bloody tent, with my three-year-old nose pressed up against the flysheet. I questioned my father’s reasoning over the years, beyond his simple enjoyment of camping. Thanks to a series of unrelated domestic-driven psychological sessions, I considered the distinct possibility that maybe those trips were actually all about him. My mother says he’d actually considered working in forestry in Canada, around the time Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. A lumberjack’s life would’ve suited him far better than the insurance world he had accepted. Which brings me back to the luxury lodge weekend. Luckily, Fynn’s adoring

aunt played babysitter, so I could plan my work around him. This was a rare, treasured opportunity that only a daddy would understand. Entirely selfish, I looked forward to waking and sharing a new world with him. To observe ‘naughty monkeys’ on the deck, play with dung beetles on the path and watch him gape in exaggerated-gobsmacked surprise at the browsing nyala outside; to be in ‘the bush’ of early-morning rusks and game drives. I saw this as encouraging his evident enjoyment of the natural world – which, thanks to rangers JP and Devon, is exactly what happened. The puddles and choice of gear – ‘do the gear, do it again’ – were far more fun than the zebra. It was more of a penguin-suit look than zebra, but while working as a student-waiter at a function in a tiny English village in the gentle county of Devon, the 40-something client told me she’d never left England – and had no desire to. Frustrated then (on her behalf ), I nevertheless came to appreciate the nature of travel, and all that it entails, a little better. Some people are simply content to stay put. Perhaps she didn’t want to be disappointed by a world without cream teas and where people spoke too much French and German. On our precious weekend together, Fynn displayed the enthusiasm and curiosity that makes for a good traveller. He’s seen a world devoid of traffic jams and shopping malls, and he’s very aware of how wide a crocodile must open his mouth to brush his teeth.


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Tr a vel gea r

transit always in

Out of necessity, travel photojournalist Evan Haussmann has a Spartan approach to packing – but in that he finds a delicate balance between survival and luxury.

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I travel a lot, and I love it. I’d happily jump onto any form of intercontinental public transportation with only a healthy credit card, a smartphone, my passport and the

Clothing

Interestingly, I’ve found that it’s easier to pack light for extremely cold destinations than it is for temperate climes. For example, in Namibia it’s possible to encounter searing heat in the day and be frozen solid a few hours later – bigger temperature variations mean more kit is required. Whereas when packing for sub-zero Finland, I knew it was going to be flipping cold, so I packed in thermals and a down jacket with my jeans and shirts. Done. I don’t go to Finland often, so I still need to put the least in and get the most out of my kitbag. To look presentable, I‘ve taken to using technical clothing. Tech shirts are especially good because I don’t need to carry a pile of collectively heavy, bulky and slow-drying cotton T-shirts. I don’t, but theoretically I could pack as few as two shirts. I’d wash and dry the dirty one while the other one is being put to work. Customs officers and lodge managers dig it that I don’t look like I’ve just crawled out of the bush I’ve just crawled out of.

clothes on my back. As a photographer, however, my packing challenges are way more complex. Carrying around 18 kilogrammes of photographic equipment puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to taking along items that enhance comfort. Here’s

e

how I do it.

ven before I begin to pack any essentials, my photographic kit already puts my luggage weight close to the regular allowance. I can’t afford to pay excess every time I fly. So, with varying degrees of success, I circumvent airline excess baggage charges (and foil lax apron security) by using a TSA-compliant camera bag/ backpack as a carry-on bag. Now, even though I (theoretically) still have the 20kg domestic airlines allow for check-in to play with, I still don’t pack to the max. I don’t want to be lugging more than I need around in transit or on location. I need to pack as lightly as possible, have everything I need and get my job done without being a masochist – or smelly.

Cargo pants are perhaps the most important clothing item for my travelling. The big, accessible pockets make things very convenient in airports, with all the pen and paper shuffling. In the field, cargoes hold all the bits of camera kit and currency. Their robust fabric is resistant to grovelling about in the dirt and thorns when finding the shot, changing all-too-regularlyoccurring flat tyres and the like. Even though I sometimes look like I’m doing an All Blacks haka war-dance while hunting frantically through all the pockets to find a ringing cellphone, I’d struggle without all that stash space. Old Khaki Men’s Janson Belted Utility Pants #108627 Price: R550

Footwear

K-Way Men’s Explorer Baffin Shirt Price: R350

I give myself only two choices: flip-flops and Hi-Tec Ion mask hiking boots. The boots provide all the things you’d expect from modern hiking footwear. But they’re smart enough to let me stand among executives in town, though mine are now getting beyond presentable. They are robust enough to kick rocks and stomp through puddles all the way to the Kili summit. As a bonus, I find the Hi-Tecs don’t need ‘breaking in’ because they’re comfortable from day one, waterproof and of such durable quality that even the laces remain useable long past their ‘acceptable appearance’ date. Hi-Tec Men’s Altitude Ultra WPi Boots Price: R1499

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Tr a vel gea r

Sleeping

I used to be able to sleep anywhere, but when you find yourself sleeping on the ground more nights than you spend in a bed, it starts to hurt and affects my ability to work the next day. Sleeping comfort is a particularly tough one to solve because most really comfortable sleeping systems are bulky. I don’t feel I’ve cracked this one yet but, depending on the destination, and the mode of transport used to reach it, I’ll choose between a Thermarest self-inflating hiker’s mattress and a stretcher. Add to that the correctly rated sleeping bag and, if I’m not sure about conditions, a thermal sleeping bag liner. That usually suffices, but one piece of sleeping kit I can’t live without is my airline pillow. Until they configure the aircraft seating arrangement, this (besides the right sleeping bag) would be my choice of must-have sleeping kit. It works well in camp, too. First Ascent Adventure Light Sleeping Bag Price: R1299

Eating & drinking Hot drinks When it comes to cuisine, I’m a boarding school Philistine and can survive on most anything. I carry a packet of nuts and a few sachets of Game® powder in case of emergencies. But without a good cup of coffee in the morning, I’m dead. Instant coffee is okay, but there’s little that’ll motivate me to get up for a predawn photo call like a steaming cup of good quality ground java. So you will always find some form of coffee maker in in my luggage.

Cold drinks There’s a lot to be said for travelling for extended periods and still being able to eat fresh food and, on my scale more importantly – to have a cold drink along the way. Sundowning a beer is a clichéd given, but to slug back a bottle of ice-cold anything standing in the middle of a sweltering African wilderness has to be the ultimate sign of civilisation and testament to human progress. Mobicool W35 Electric Cooler Price: R1399

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Tr a vel gea r Power

Gone are the days of carrying a few tiny watch batteries and some penlights (AAs) to keep cameras and flashes powered for weeks. These days we all carry a lot of battery-powered electronic equipment. I lug two rechargeable batteries for each camera, three flashes, a laptop computer and mobile phone, each one of which is very important to my workflow. It’s simply not an option to run out of power in the field. To keep my kit juiced, I rely on combinations of the following: Car USB adapter All vehicles have a cigarette lighter, even the most decrepit Addis Ababa taxi. With a cigarette lighter-to-USB adapter, I can keep the power of my smartphone or tablet topped up while I travel. External battery pack When there’s no other charging option, on planes or buses for example, an external battery pack is handy. External rechargeable battery units with adjustable power output and interchangeable gadget-specific plugs are excellent solutions for charging gadgets and netbooks in flight or in the wilderness.

Communication

Until recently, I’d sneer inwardly at anyone with a phone in the bush – and still do if they don’t put it on silent mode. That said, when I’m working I need my smartphone. It’s more useful than a Swiss army knife. Beyond the need to stay in touch with my team, I use the GPS often. The TomTom app (R499 from the Apple store or R400 from Google Play) is essential for quickly navigating me out of cities. In the field, I use it to record videos, waypoints, tracks and other location-specific data such as geo-tagged images. Furthermore, the device gives me access to information both on the Internet and via dedicated apps such as Sasol’s eBirds app (available for Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices at about R250 each). It’s also great to be able to listen to music and podcasts or read books and do research on the fly, float or drive. iPhone 4S 16gig: Price: R8999

Inverter On extended road trips, I never leave the inverter at home. This miracle gadget converts 12V car battery power to 220V. With this, I keep my camera batteries and computer operational and would be in deep trouble if I forgot it at home. They’re available in various sizes and outputs. I stick to the sub-400 watt units, as they allow me to run them off a vehicle’s cigarette lighter to charge all my equipment. 300W inverter Price: R350 Travel adapter There’s nothing more frustrating than finally reaching civilisation, needing to recharge all the kit and not being able to plug your gear into the wall. That’s where travel adapter multi-plugs come in handy. These provide travellers access to even the most obscure wall plug configurations. It can’t be left behind. Multi Nation Travel Adaptor Price: R175

I am my own concierge These are the few relatively basic things that allow me to enjoy a journey and get my work done. They make up a specific combination of worldly things that contribute to the very big difference between being distracted or downright frustrated at the destination, and returning with great images and tales of adventure to share. Follow @EvanHaussmann on Twitter or visit www.evanhaussmann.com.

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On the

wild side We give you the inside scoop on the outside world. We look at some of the astounding feats that are being accomplished by South Africans and a few other adventures that you, The Intrepid Explorer reader, can become involved in. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make the most of summer.

The Intrepid Explorer Readers’ Trips 2013

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reat news! You don’t need to merely read about the weird and wonderful places visited by the editorial team from The Intrepid Explorer – now you can experience them first-hand!  Travel with the team to track the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest, hike to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, see thousands of wildebeest on

the Serengeti plains, explore the old Inca ruins in Peru on the classic Inca Trail, or make your way to Everest Base Camp. These are some of the great readers’ trips planned for 2013.  We have also scheduled a couple of talk evenings on these trip topics for 2013 at Cape Union Mart stores around the country. Keep an eye on the Cape Union Mart website’s events page for details. So how is this for a bucket list of note?

Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safari, 18-26 May 2013 9-day safari from R33 990 pps Add chimpanzee trekking permit US$50 pp & gorilla trekking permit US$350 pp (reduced from US$500 for this safari!) Add return airfare from R5 655 pp (incl. taxes)

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Hike up Kilimanjaro from the southern side of the mountain on the popular Machame Route 9-day expedition from R15 520 pps Add return airfare from R6 855 pp (incl. taxes)  

Kilimanjaro – Rongai Route Expedition, 21-29 Sep 2013

Ascend the highest mountain in Africa from the northern side of the mountain on the lesser used Rongai Route 9-day expedition from R15 800 pps Add return airfare from R6 855 pp (incl. taxes)  

Wildebeest Migration Safari, 17-25 Aug 2013

This safari visits the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara wildlife areas in Tanzania. Opportunity to visit a real Maasai village and Olduvai Gorge en route. 8-day safari from R21 770 pps Add return airfare from R6 855 pp (incl. taxes)  

Everest Base Camp, 12-27 Oct 2013

Up the Whisky Creek The best way to experience the Keurbooms Nature Reserve is to undertake the multi-day Keurbooms canoe trail, which offers secluded overnight accommodation seven kilometres upstream in a log cabin. The reserve is 8km beyond Plettenberg Bay on the N2 toward Nature’s Valley and Port Elizabeth.  This is a trail like no other. You may be lucky to actually see the Knysna loerie or fish eagle, which are usually only heard. Enjoy a gentle row up the river, which should take you a minimum of two hours, depending on your fitness.  The calming effect of the water, fresh air and inviting picnic sites along the river bank will help you to unwind and soak up the natural beauty of the reserve.  The Whisky Creek cabin will be a welcome sight. Tucked in a forest, the cabin is accessible only by canoe, to one group at a time. It has all the necessary amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. The open-air kitchen, under a veranda roof, is equipped with a gas stove, fridge, crockery, cutlery and fresh rainwater. In the bathroom is a flush toilet and hot-water shower. Electricity is generated via solar power. Visitors can relax in bundu chairs around the stone braai on the deck. A timber walkway leads down to the river, which winds out in a kloof.

Out a n d a bout

Kilimanjaro – Machame Route Expedition, 10-18 Aug 2013

For more information on CapeNature’s venues, visit  www.facebook.com/CapeNature1 or www.capenature.co.za.

Prayer flags pave the way to the base of Everest’s highest peak. This moderate trek will reward not just with jaw-dropping scenery, but also with an insight into the Himalayan lifestyle. 16-day land-only package from R8 840 pps Add return airfare from R6 980 pp (incl. taxes)   

Inca Trail, 07-15 Sep 2013

Culture, history and a scenic hike – the Inca Trail 3-night/4-day hike in Peru offers it all! Visit the ancient city of Machu Picchu and busy towns of Cusco and Lima on this trip. 9-day land-only package from R15 430 pps Add return airfare from R11 840 pp (incl. taxes)  

Bookings NOW open!

*Prices are subject to change due to any unforeseen price increase or rate of exchange fluctuation. Terms & conditions apply. E & OE.   For more details and to book, contact Wild Frontiers: E-mail: reservations@wildfrontiers.com www.wildfrontiers.com

Paddling for the poor Chris Bertish, a 38-year-old sportsman who runs his own small business in Cape Town, is planning to undertake the SUP Crossing: a solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean – from Dakar, Senegal to Camocim in Brazil, over 2 350 kilometres of open ocean, on a stand-up paddle board that’s 80 centimetres wide and 4.5 metres long. He has already represented South Africa on the world tours of both stand-up paddle boarding and big wave surfing over the last three years, finishing in the top 10 in both sports. This project will take place between February and April 2013 and take just over two months, paddling the equivalent of a marathon a day, for 65 days straight.  The project aims to raise money and awareness for the Lunchbox Fund, to feed and educate hungry kids in Africa. Every 50km that Chris paddles will help one hungry child in South Africa for a year, while raising awareness through environmental groups such as the Save Our Seas Foundation, about protecting and conserving our world’s oceans and the creatures that live in it. Follow Chris’ journey on www.facebook.com/TheSupCrossing.

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Conquering the outdoors since 1974

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A star-studded line-up

The 2012/2013 season of Old Mutual Summer Sunset concerts promises to be a year of memorable musicians – not least because it is a celebration of 21 years of concerts and the Centenary of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. This season, which launched on 25 November 2012 and which will continue through until 7 April 2013, brings with it music that transcends all ages and genres. This year’s line-up welcomes back old favourites: Mango Groove, Zebra and Giraffe, Prime Circle, Arno Carstens, The Parlotones, Jimmy Dludlu, Freshlyground, Goldfish and Natasha Meister; and introduces some hot new acts who will thrill audiences. The third instalment of the Cape Town Folk & Acoustic Music Festival is live on stage in February, featuring Ard Matthews, Steve Newman, Guy Buttery and Nibs van der Spuy, Andrew James and Steady Tiger, Digby and The Lullaby, Robin Auld and Wendy Oldfield and Tombstone Pete. For classical music lovers, the Cape Town International Music Festival will feature internationally acclaimed French violinist Philippe Graffin. What better way to end the summer series on 7 April than with world music icon Johnny Clegg as he brings the ‘scatterlings’ of Africa together. A dancer, anthropologist, singer, songwriter, academic, activist and French knight, he has become one of South Africa’s greatest musical exports and an untiring cultural ambassador for the new South Africa. Plan ahead to pack a picnic; spread your blanket, gather your friends and spend Sunday afternoon under the African sky surrounded by unsurpassed beauty and appreciating the best in hot music. The Old Mutual Summer Sunset Concerts take place at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Cape Town) on Sundays from 17h30 to 19h00. Gates open at 16h00. For further information and ticket prices, visit www.sanbi.org or www.oldmutual. co.za/music. Tickets can be booked on www. webtickets.co.za.

The rhino plight is a conservation issue on a national and global scale. Making an impact on current poaching statistics – almost two rhino have been poached per day so far in 2012 – is a daunting task. Poaching methods have becoming increasingly sophisticated – not only in the vast reaches of Kruger National Park, but also in private reserves such as the Sabi Sand. Following rhino-poaching incidents in the Sabi Sand earlier this year, Singita had reached a point where a professional, dedicated, in-house anti-poaching unit was required to secure the property. Singita works with K9 Conservation, a specialist in counteracting illegal hunting and wildlife trade through the use of highly trained tracker dog units. Tracker dogs, trained to track both animals and humans, are currently being included in most national parks’ security operations, particularly in the Kruger National Park.The biggest advantage of using dogs is that they track using their keen sense of smell and thus are extremely effective – even tracking in pitch darkness. The dogs patrol day and night, seven days a week, to protect the wildlife that inhabits the reserve.

Out a n d a bout

Dogs are a rhino’s best friend

Singita operates 12 lodges in five destinations in three countries and is responsible for over half a million acres of land in southern and East Africa.Visit www.singita.com for more information.

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Out a n d a bout Blazing into SA

Hitting our shores recently is the new Chevrolet Trailblazer

The Trailblazer is the embodiment of its “go anywhere, tow anything” mantra. Its 16” or 18” wheels allow it to tow up to 2950kg. Despite its impressive muscle, the Trailblazer is easily mistaken for a luxury vehicle due to its bold, sophisticated and timeless exterior. The more upscale, sophisticated look of the Trailblazer is in a league of its own when put against its competitors. A body-in, wheels-out design ensures the Trailblazer is agile and athletic, bringing together a great combination of capabilities: it’s efficient, epid Ad.fh11 11/8/12 4:55 PM Page and 1 is extremely comfortable. The Trailblazer powerful, versatile,

range features a choice of two all-new Duramax turbo-diesel engines (2.5L and 2.8L) that provide a leading combination of performance and fuel economy across LT and LTZ models. There is also a 3.6L V6 VVT Petrol engine available as an alternative to the diesel-powered engines. With a muscular body and world-class engineering, the Chevrolet Trailblazer combines the best in smooth, precise handling with top of the range towing and off-road capabilities. With a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating on the LTZ and the best in safety features standard on all models, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is not only easy to drive, it is safe as well and great fun offroad to boot. For more information go to; www.chevrolettrailblazer.co.za C

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B es t buys

Nalgene MultiDrink 560ml Bottle R 150

Garmin Nuvi 3590 LMT GPS R3 650

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Suunto Ambit GPSenabled Fitness Watch R5 799

gadgets It’s summer, and time to stock up on the best buys of the season. Here are a few items that are sure to extend your fun in the sun!

gizmos Adventurer Solar-powered Charger R1 199

BBQ Gift Set R199

TomTom Nike+ SportWatch GPS R1 899

Braai Cooler R399

K-Way Lunar Telescope R699

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Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS-enabled Fitness Watch R1 299


Kids’ Pop-up Tent R275

Kids Lion Chair or Tadpole Chair R99

Butte Torch Tongs R220

Picnic Cooler Combo R599

Garmin Fenix Outdoor GPS Navigator Watch R4 199

Light My Fire Meal Kit R199

Safe Sporter 475ml Water Bottle R199

The new Gro Pro 3 Brand New at time of going to print, so check out yout closest Cape Union Mart for latest prices

Polar RCX 3 Fitness Watch R2 799

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Ph oto es s a y

Erns Grundling having a waterfall shower in Gifberg [ 2010 ]

lens

life through the

In each edition of The Intrepid Explorer, we showcase one of South Africa’s top photographers. Our Intrepid man behind the camera for this launch edition is Ruvan Boshoff.

Ruvan Boshoff is

a professional photographer with more than two decades of diverse photographic experience in news, feature, interiors and travel photography. He has travelled the length and breadth of southern Africa, capturing the essence of our people and places from behind his camera lens. Ruvan’s rich portfolio has given insight into the lives of deep-sea fishermen in Paternoster (for which he won a Pica Photojournalist of the Year Award in 2011) and has shown the spirit of the wild horses of Namibia. He is well known as a photojournalist who has worked for numerous local newspapers including The Star, The Sunday Star, This Day and Sunday Times. He has also done work for all the major international photo agencies, and has had his work published around the globe. Ruvan has had a number of solo exhibitions featuring work from Cuba to Garies in Namaqualand. When Ruvan is not shooting, his next favourite pastime is sitting next to a fire in the bushveld or driving the many passes of South Africa. To view more of Boshoff’s spectacular work, visit www.ruvanboshoff.co.za.

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AfricaBurn in Tankwa Karoo [ 2008 ]


Horse-riding in the Drakensberg [ 2005 ]

Slangkop Lighthouse in Kommetjie [ 2011 ]


Ph oto es s a y Catching snoek in St Helena Bay [ 2010 ]

Ouma Grietjie Adams, the 85-year-old singer from Garies [ 2007 ]

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Fishing boats on Lake Tanganyika photographed from the MV Liemba (built in 1913, is one of the oldest operational passenger and goods ships in the world) [2006] Fish River Canyon in Namibia [ 2011 ]


Trekking with sheep near Sutherland in the Karoo [ 2010 ]

Dune ramping at Saddle Hill in Namibia [ 2007 ]


store listing western cape STORES Bayside Mall (021) 556-3861 bayside@capeunionmart.co.za Blue Route Mall (021) 712-5979 blueroute@capeunionmart.co.za Canal Walk (021) 555-2846 canalwalk@capeunionmart.co.za Canal Walk Adventure Centre (021) 555-4629 cwac@capeunionmart.co.za Cape Gate Shopping Centre (021) 982-2000 capegate@capeunionmart.co.za Cavendish Square (021) 674-2148 cavendish@capeunionmart.co.za Constantia Village (021) 794-0632 constantia@capeunionmart.co.za Garden Route Mall (044) 887-0048 gardenroute@capeunionmart.co.za Gardens Centre (021) 461-9678 gardens@capeunionmart.co.za Knysna Mall (044) 382-4653 knysna@capeunionmart.co.za Langeberg Mall (044) 695- 2486 mosselbay@capeunionmart.co.za Mountain Mill Mall (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 The Market Square (044) 533-4030 marketsquare@capeunionmart.co.za Tygervalley Shopping Centre (021) 914-1441 tygervalley@capeunionmart.co.za V&A Waterfront (021)425-4559 quayfour@capeunionmart.co.za V&A Waterfront (021) 419-0020 waterfront@capeunionmart.co.za

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West Coast Mall Middleburg Mall Kolonnade Shopping Centre (022) 713 4113 (013) 244-1041 (012) 548-9811 weskus@capeunionmart.co.za Middelburg@capeunionmart.co.za kolonnade@capeunionmaart.co.za EASTERN CAPE STORES Riverside Mall Mall@reds Greenacres Shopping Centre (013) 757-0338 (012) 656-0182 (041) 363-1504 nelspruit@capeunionmart.co.za redsmall@capeunionmart.co.za greenacres@capeunionmart.co.za NORTH WEST STORES Menlyn Park Hemingways Shopping Centre Waterfall Mall (012) 368-1015 (043) 726-0908 (014) 537-3656 menlyn@capeunionmart.co.za hemmingways@capeunionmart.co.za waterfall@capeunionmart.co.za Nicolway Shopping Centre Walmer Park Brits Mall (011) 706-7573 (041) 368-7442 (012) 250-1909 nicolway@capeunionmart.co.za walmer@capeunionmart.co.za brits@capeunionmart.co.za OR Tambo International Airport Vincent Park Mooiriver Mall (011) 390-3245 (043) 726-2900 (018) 293-1788 ortambo@capeunionmart.co.za vincentpark@capeunionmart.co.za mooiriver@capeunionmart.co.za Rosebank Mall Fountains Mall LIMPOPO STORES (011) 442-1959 (042) 293-0005 Mall of the North rosebank@capeunionmart.co.za fountainsmall@capeunionmart.co.za (015) 265-1067 mallofthenorth@capeunionmart.co.za Sandton City KWAZULU-NATAL STORES (011) 884-9771 Boardwalk Shopping Centre GAUTENG STORES sandton@capeunionmart.co.za (035) 789-0321 Brooklyn Mall boardwalk@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 460-5511 The Glen Shopping Centre brooklyn@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 436 -1300 Galleria theglen@capeunionmart.co.za (031) 904 -2318 Carnival Mall galleria@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 915-0470 The Grove carnivalmall@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 807-0642 Gateway World thegroove@capeunionmart.co.za (031) 566-5111 Centurion Shopping Mall gateway@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 663-4111 Vaal Mall centurion@capeunionmart.co.za (016) 981- 5186 Midlands Mall vaalmall@capeunionmart.co.za (033) 342-0152 Clearwaters Mall midlands@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 675-0036 Woodlands Boulevard clearwaters@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 997-6960 Pavilion Shopping Centre woodlands@capeunionmart.co.za (031) 265-1666 Cresta Centre pavillion@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 478-1913 BOSTWANA STORES Game City, Gaberone cresta@capeunionmart.co.za 00267-391-0948 Westwood Mall gamecity@capeunionmart.co.za (031) 266-6049 Eastgate Adventure Centre westwood@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 622-8788 Riverwalk Mall, Gaberone egac@capeunionmart.co.za 00267-370-0040 NORTHERN CAPE STORES riverwalk@capeunionmart.co.za Diamond Pavilion Centre East Rand Mall (053) 832-3846 (011) 826-2408 Pick n Pay Centre, Francistown diamondpavillion@capeunionmart.co.za eastrandmall@capeunionmart.co.za 00267-241-0398 francistown@capeunionmart.co.za FREESTATE STORES Fourways Mall Mimosa Mall (011) 465-9824 NAMIBIA STORES (051) 444-6059 fourways@capeunionmart.co.za Maerua Mall, Windhoek mimosa@capeunionmart.co.za 00264-612-20424 Greenstone Shopping Centre windhoek@capeunionmart.co.za Loch Logan (011) 609-0002 (051) 430-0230 greenstone@capeunionmart.co.za OUTLET STORES lochlogan@capeunionmart.co.za Access Park, Cape Town Hyde Park Corner (021) 674-6398 MPUMALANGA STORES (011) 325-5038 accesspark@capeunionmart.co.za Ilanga Mall hydepark@capeunionmart.co.za (013) 742-2281 Atterbury Value Mart, Pretoria ilanga@capeunionmart.co.za Irene Village (012) 991-3171 (012) 662-1133 atterbury@capeunionmart.co.za Highveld Mall irene@capeunionmart.co.za (013) 692-4018 Woodmead Value Mart, Johannesburg highveld@capeunionmart.co.za Killarney Mall (011) 656-0750 (011) 646-7745 woodmead@capeunionmart.co.za killarney@capeunionmart.co.za


R ya n Sa n des

rules for

Intrepid Travel Be open to a change of heart,

‘a

writes Pippa de Bruyn.

bit more wine, Tommy?” The tall, beautiful Maasai man who traded his spear for a silk suit was introduced to us this morning as ‘Daniel’. Daniel is our private butler, standard issue with every room in this OTT lodge on the lip of the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera. Circled by 600-metre high cliffs, the 260 square kilometre valley is said to be a perfect mini-ecosystem, home to the densest wildlife population on Earth. We have spent most of the day in the valley, exploring the dark montane forests that clad the southern crater walls, the central white-crusted salt lake, and the patches of blonde grassland and acacia thickets intersected by freshwater streams. Fascinating, but our butler is proving more so. Watching Daniel hold my husband’s gaze for a few seconds too long before batting his downcast eyes at the glass he is replenishing, I cast my doubts aside. Daniel is definitely flirting with my husband. Outrageously so. Now, I don’t in principle have a problem with a man, any man, flirting with my husband. Nor, for that matter, most women (the exception being those who are young and beautiful who can just f**k right off ). Some say that jealousy is a measure of passion. Nonsense. One of the benefits of ageing is becoming a Grown-Up. Not for me the hot rage spawned by fear of loss. I prefer the smug contentment of watching others desire what I already have. But Daniel is not only flirting with my husband, he is ignoring me like an unwanted chaperone. This is unpleasant. It may even be the reason I have drained my glass so quickly. Regardless, it has now been empty for at least five minutes,

which is six minutes too long. No way to play butler at a happy dinner party, certainly not one where I am the guest, as everyone who knows Aunty Pippa will agree. “Uh, hello?” I point at my glass. Daniel minces closer and fills it in silence, sans the flourish and batting eyes served up for Tom. I’m not sure how much more I can take of this blatant favouritism. “Don’t you think the butler is being a bit too forward?” I whisper once Daniel is out of earshot. “He is amusing,” says my husband, with a droll smile. “Not like any butler I’ve encountered.” Having never encountered a real butler, I nod knowingly enough, then hiss, “He certainly isn’t. And in case you haven’t noticed, he’s clearly coming on to you, which is a bit unprofessional, given that it’s our first night. And the fact that you’re obviously not available.” A brief pause, through which my husband smiles at me. I adjust my top self-consciously. “There isn’t any … reason to think otherwise, is there?” “Of course not. It must be my animal magnetism,” he jests. I eye my husband who, I must admit, is looking rather delicious in this candle-lit womb of opulence. “Can I get you anything else, Tommy?” Daniel is back at the table, looking lovingly at my spouse. “It’s Tom.” Daniel turns to look at me with a raised eyebrow. “Tom. It’s Tom, not Tommy. No one calls him Tommy. Not even his mother.” Even I can hear that this sounds a bit pathetic; possibly even desperate. Like I’m saying, I’m the one who knows what his

mother calls him, buddy, so back off. The meal, cooked by a nervous but talented chef who thanks us in halting English, is over soon enough. And Daniel has the last word: “Just let me know if there’s anything you need, Tommy.” On the way back to our room, I wonder how on earth Daniel thinks I’m going to tip him the handsome amount suggested by the in-room service guide. But then we enter, and find that Daniel has transformed our already beautiful room into a decadent love pit. A crackling fire casts a soft pink glow; a hot bath drawn, strewn with rose petals; a bottle of bubbly in an ice bucket. “Come here”, I wink, “Tommy.” Turns out a horny butler is just the thing to fan romantic flames. For travel planning assistance to East Africa, South Africa or India, contact Pippa directly on pippadebruyn@mweb.co.za or visit www. bestkeptshhh.com.

Trip tip

Ngorongoro Crater is the most famous destination in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but the truly intrepid should set aside a few days to view Ol Doinyo Lengai, aka ‘The Mountain of God’, the last remaining active volcano in the Great Rift Valley. Towering almost 3 000m above blackened plains strewn with volcanic rock, the triangulated shape – with its single-cone peak dusted in white ash – is one of the most arresting sights in East Africa, one that will have you stopping and trying every few minutes to, yet again, capture on film.

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the last word We get personal with District 9 actress and

Survivor star, Vanessa Haywood

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What are the top destinations on your ‘bucket list’ of places to which you’d like to travel? There are way too many to mention! So much to see and so little time and money, ha! Paris, France – I still can’t believe I’ve never been there. I’ve been all over Europe, but have never visited the City of Love. I’m crazy about countries rich in culture and history, and Paris is the essence of France. St. Tropez – the perfect Mediterranean holiday. Buenos Aires, Argentina – it’s a city alive with festivals, fun, great beaches and amazing culture. Have to go one day. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, in Peru – I know that’s not very ‘original’ and has been done a million times, but ancient cultures fascinate me. Rwanda – one of my greatest dreams is to see the gorillas in their natural habitat in this African country. Bali – for the perfect beach holiday and to shop for beautiful handcrafted furniture. India – people either love it or hate it, but I want to see it for myself. I really want to explore it and see the northern, central and southern parts of the country.

sweet but gooey. It was served in the shell with all the spikes removed.

Which favourite places have you already ticked off your bucket list? Thailand. I’ve been a few times and it remains my favourite place in the world. I can never get enough of the culture, bright colours, friendly people, white beaches and delectable food. I love jumping on a scooter and discovering beautiful temples, zooting along winding roads with the turquoise sea at my side. For South Africans, it’s a more affordable holiday, as the baht is weaker than the rand.

Braai or sushi? Now THAT is a tough question! I’d say both! I LOVE sushi, but a hot Saturday afternoon braai with great company, good food and a cold Heineken will always be welcome.

What is the weirdest food or drink you have ever tried? I had sea urchin (uni) in the Maldives. It’s a strange-tasting little sea creature – slightly

If you were stuck on a desert island, would you know how to make a fire without matches, and how to catch dinner? Yes! I was a Survivor (Maldives) contestant.

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Are you an adrenalin junkie? If so, which extreme sports have you already tried, and are there others you’d like to attempt? I am a complete adrenalin junkie! In fact, I’ve done free diving with sharks. The experience of diving with these magnificent but dangerous animals, and feeding them, was the craziest thing I have ever done. I did it in the Seychelles and at one point was surrounded by about 30 fairly large two-metre long reef sharks. It’s scary as hell! I’m yet to go skydiving and would LOVE to do a tandem free fall sometime soon. That would be my ultimate ‘test’, as I don’t like heights! If you consider your upbringing, were/are you a bush baby or a city slicker? Total and utter bush baby! I grew up on a farm in Mpumalanga and spent a lot of time on game farms as well. This is where I developed my great love for the outdoors and a deep respect for nature and its power.

What is the most memorable experience you have had with wildlife? It was in the Timbavati: Two leopards were sizing each other up. One had its kill in a tree, which the other was trying to steal. It was fascinating to watch.

It’s not easy, don’t get me wrong, and most things don’t WANT to be eaten, so catching them is not simple. But I reckon I could get along just fine if I had to be stuck on an island again. What is your tried-and-tested signature dish you serve your friends? My lean and healthy chilli con carne. I use lean ostrich mince and add great spices, so it’s super tasty and good for you. I either serve it on a bed of brown rice or with salad. If it were up to you, what do you think we should do to the people running the rhino horn trade? They should all be shot! Beer or wine? Another hard question! Depends entirely on the situation: beer for an afternoon braai or on a hot day, and wine with dinner. Camping or luxury lodge? I love camping, I really do, but there is nothing that beats a luxury 5-star lodge such as Kichaka Private Game Lodge in the Eastern Cape, near Port Elizabeth. Now THAT place is luxury! Alternative favourite sport? Mountain biking, mountain biking and mountain biking! Whom did you see as your inspirational role model when growing up, and whom do you hold in high esteem? My mum, always! She’s the epitome of beauty, grace and love. She’s one of the hardest working people I know, but also the best mother and wife in the universe. My mum has always put others before her and, with her nursing background, has always cared for others in so many ways.



The Intrepid Explorer magazine - Summer 2012/13