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DELTA FORCE Dr Steve Boyes expands conservation efforts in the Okavango

MOROCCO BY MULE

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COOL RUNNINGS A rare hometown interview with Usain Bolt

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Braam Malherbe joins African elephants in their natural habitat

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› ON HUMAN POWER – Angelo Wilkie-Page’s Expedition 720 Degrees › DIVINE CLIMB – Taking on The Devil & The Angel in Venezuela › EPIC ADVENTURE – SA solo rower Stuart Connacher survives the Atlantic › FEEDING FRENZY – Sardine Run action › A SWISS SPRING – Graham Howe celebrates in Lucerne


CONTENTS 11 06 FOREWORD Andre Labuschaigne,

Cape Union Mart CEO

COMPETITION 08

EDITOR’S NOTE

Make this life count

Win a two-night stay for two at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat in the Cederberg, worth R22 620!

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL Seeing elephants in their natural habitat helps people understand and value their importance in the wild, writes Braam Malherbe

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30 THE DEVIL & THE ANGEL  On a divine summit and a hellish

SOURCE TO SAND

trek in Venezuela, Matthew Holt finds that names can be deceiving

Dr Steve Boyes journeyed down Angola’s Cuito River on an unprecedented 2 500km-long expedition to expand conservation efforts in the Okavango Delta

36 ARABIAN ESCAPE  Kelvin Trautman leaves the big city behind to trek through southern Morocco by mule

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24 THE JOYS OF A SWISS SPRING Graham Howe joins the merry throng of pagan spirits in Lucerne, celebrating the end of winter

42  JUST ME AND THE SEA  South African solo ocean rower Stuart Connacher braved the elements and defied his fears in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, writes Fredrik Ölmqvist

58 720°  Angelo Wilkie-Page is seeking to achieve the Holy Grail of human-powered circumnavigation, writes Angus Begg

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2 ND Q UART ER EDIT IO N 2016

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64 JUST GETTING WARMED UP

COOL RUNNINGS

The cold season shouldn’t be an excuse to stay indoors. Nick Dall has your winter garb and gear sorted

Ryan Scott travelled to Jamaica for a rare hometown interview with “the fastest person ever timed”, Usain Bolt

52 PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA Gavin Moffat joins in the Shoals of Agulhas Expedition to witness the annual Sardine Run off the KwaZulu-Natal coast

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62 TOKYO DRIFT  mong the labyrinthine, neon-lit A streets of Japan’s capital city, Sarah Duff gets a taste of the sublime at the best little cocktail bar in town

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ON THE WILD SIDE

News from the outdoors

80 CHECKed OUT Editor Robbie Stammers shares two travel destinations that should not be missed

82 HIT THE ROAD, JACK The Big 5—catch a sighting of the latest motor vehicles

86  CAPE UNION MART STORE LISTINGS

LIFE THROUGH THE LENS In this edition, we showcase some of the mesmerising works by talented underwater photographer, Andrew Woodburn

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THE LAST LAUGH

Graham Howe goes looking for our Roman roots on the other side of the Mediterranean

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THE LAST WORD

We hit the right note with singersongwriter and frontman of Just Jinjer, Ard Matthews

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FO R E WO RD

Greetings,

I

outdoor friends!

trust this finds you fit, healthy and happy. Time certainly waits for no man, and the middle of 2016 is already upon us—sans a real winter! Optimists will call it an Indian summer, and what better way to enjoy the extended warm and dry weather than to get out and do some exploring? We know our Cape Union Mart customers are always looking for adventure, and this edition of The Intrepid Explorer is filled with exciting places to go and things to do. If you’re lucky, you may even win your own adventure to the Okavango Delta—more details inside. One remarkable trait about our Intrepid Explorers is that they are all passionate people who live with purpose. We are inspired by people such as Stuart Connacher, one of two South African solo rowers who braved the elements during a 53-day challenge across the Atlantic. It’s a big task by anyone’s standards—as is the one that Dr Steve Boyes has taken on: He is determined to make a difference to the Okavango Delta water system, which is changing in the face of global warming. Matthew Holt and Angelo Wilkie-Page tackled the “Devil Mountain” (where angels fear to tread) and Expedition 720 Degrees, respectively. Incredible journeys, and we salute their determination to see them through. At Cape Union Mart, we are also on a journey, and that is to challenge ourselves to do better every day in the way we serve and delight our customers. Like Usain Bolt we strive to be number one, and we invite you to join us on this journey. Feel free to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or join us in one of our stores and help us raise the bar—and, of course, be the Intrepid Explorers we all aspire to be. Yours in adventure,

Andre Labuschaigne Chief Executive Officer Cape Union Mart

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E D ITO R ’ S N O TE

MAKE THIS LIFE

COUNT “When I get older, losing my hair Many years from now, Will you still be sending me a Valentine, Birthday greetings, bottle of wine? If I’d been out till quarter to three Would you lock the door? Will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I’m sixty-four?” Apparently Paul McCartney wrote this song when he was 16, and forgot about it until his father turned 64—which happened to be as The Beatles were recording their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. I recently added the song to my iTunes playlist, and while listening to it the other day, it got me thinking: I’m now 44 years of age, which means in 20 years from now, (hopefully) I’ll be 64 myself! My next thought was: How long is the average human life in days? So when I got home, I decided to consult my good friend Google, and she happily gave me the answer. (Yes, I do indeed think Google is female, as my wife always says women know best—but I digress…) If you assume the average human lifespan is 75 years, it translates into approximately 28 000 days. I don’t know about you, but 28 000 days seem like a very short time. It’s especially so when you realise each passing day is one less than what you have left. The daily countdown makes me feel very mortal! It’s quite sobering. I then thought about working out how many days I’ve already used up in my 44 years but, frankly, that’s just too sombre so let me just say I’m definitely past the halfway mark—and by at least a few thousand days. The exercise did, however, serve as a wake-up call. I’d love to say that from now on I’m going to make sure I accomplish at least one thing every day which would make me

proud to cross it off my total days left, but let’s be honest: Some days one just wants to curl up with a good book or watch a few episodes of Game of Thrones back to back. But it has made me pull out my Bucket List again, checking which things I’ve ticked off and how many I still want to accomplish—and there are many. I still want to gaze at the ruins of Machu Picchu, witness the majestic migration across the Serengeti, and take my wife on a romantic gastronomy tour of Tuscany. On a more personal front, I just want to be around to watch my children grow up and simply savour every moment with family. Those are definitely the best parts of our 28 000 days. How about you? How many days have you crossed off, and are you proud of the way you’ve spent those days? How do you intend spending your remaining days? The point is to make them count and never take them for granted. So make sure you shower those close to you with love every day, and fish out that Bucket List of your own. If you haven’t made one yet, then do it now! As American poet Diane Ackerman wrote, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well.” Enjoy this edition, and until next time: Keep living the life of adventure!

Robbie Stammers Publishing Editor

PS: Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and download the full digital version of this edition with many extras FOR FREE via Google Play and Apple App Store.

Congratulations to the BIG winners of our last edition’s competitions! Jaco Smit wins the incredible three-night safari getaway for two to Belmond Eagle Island Lodge in the Okavango, worth a whopping R100 000! Leanne Barberini wins the fabulous R25 000 Tanzanian trip for two, courtesy of fastjet, to Stone Town and the Park Hyatt Zanzibar Hotel!

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Explorer The Intrepid

C O N T RIBUTORS

Live the life of Adventure

Publishing Editor ROBBIE STAMMERS robbie@intrepidexplorer.co.za Art Director STACEY STORBECK NEL stacey@insightspublishing.co.za Chief Sub-Editor TANIA GRIFFIN tania@insightspublishing.co.za Head of Advertising Sales KEITH HILL keith@intrepidexplorer.co.za Advertising Manager KYLE VILLET kyle@intrepidexplorer.co.za Advertising Sales Executive PETER SAVAGE-REID Office Manager TARYN KERSHAW taryn@insightspublishing.co.za Financial Manager SARAH BULUMA sarah@intrepidexplorer.co.za Social Media Platforms TACITA MCEVOY from SocialMediaNow tacita@socialmedianow.com Editorial Contributors Dr Steve Boyes, Fredrik Ölmqvist, Kelvin Trautman, Gavin Moffat, Sarah Duff, Nick Dall, Ryan Scott, Graham Howe, Braam Malherbe, Angus Begg, Matthew Holt Photography Cover: Osnat Raviv Gavin Moffat, Ben Duffy, Greg Maud/Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, Sarah Duff, Braam Malherbe, Adobe Stock, Graham Howe, Cape Union Mart, Sacha Specker, Andrew Woodburn, Matthew Holt, Mandy Ramsden, Kelvin Trautman, Expedition 720 Degrees, Neil Gelinas, James Kydd, Tony Camacho, Osnat Raviv, Nick Dimbleby Cape Union Mart www.capeunionmart.co.za Marketing Manager: Odile Hufkie Printer RSA Litho Distribution Cape Union Mart stores On The Dot Distribution Media Support Services

PUBLISHED BY

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

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› Dr Steve Boyes is a conservation biologist who has crossed the Okavango Delta six times via mokoro canoe for his research. His recent exploration and biodiversity surveys in the upper reaches of the Okavango river system have yielded many new species to science, new populations of endangered species, and the necessary scientific data necessary to establish a massive new protected area in the Angolan catchment. › Fredrik Ölmqvist is a Swedish freelance journalist specialising in adventure and endurance sports. After having covered adventure racing and ultra-trail marathons for several years, the Atlantic Challenge provides an opportunity to get under the skin of intrepid ocean rowers. Fredrik has covered the event twice, but is still trying to comprehend the magnitude of this epic undertaking. › Kelvin Trautman is a photographer and filmmaker based in Cape Town, whose work spans a myriad of adventure sport, outdoor lifestyle and travel subjects. Recognised for his creative direction, perspective-filled compositions and athletic ability with camera in hand, he has fast established a name in the outdoor industry. Kelvin has covered assignments on all seven continents. › Gavin Moffat is an accidental specialist in the field of marketing and communication, and has jointly run a business for the past 18 years. He experiences joy and a recharge from the sea. His first taste of scuba diving was in 2000 when he did his openwater course, and he has fond memories of his first sea dive at Sodwana Bay. Gavin and his wife Ingrid travel their scuba-diving journey together. › Sarah Duff is a freelance travel writer and photographer from Cape Town, whose assignments have included tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda, trekking across glaciers in Patagonia, surfing the waves of Costa Rica, driving across Malawi in a MINI, diving in Iceland, learning how to meditate in Japan, 4x4ing through the world’s largest salt flat in Bolivia, hot-air ballooning over the Namib Desert, and road tripping across the US. She’s just finished a 500-day trip around (some of ) the world, and is planning her next long journey. › Nick Dall is a freelance writer who has lived and fished all over the world— postings include Italy, Argentina, Bolivia and Vietnam, but he’s back in Cape Town rediscovering the trout streams and dams of his youth. Nick’s young daughter and his mortgage also suggest he’s finally settled down.

› Being the gear editor on numerous platforms, you’d be surprised how woefully underprepared Ryan Scott is for so many of his adventures—from Patagonia to the Rockies, and every beer stop in between. He lives in Cape Town by choice, building tree houses and teepees (but avoids hippies). Ryan’s last adventure was riding fat-wheel mountain bikes in the Alps. › Graham Howe is one of South Africa’s most experienced lifestyle journalists; he has contributed hundreds of food, wine and travel features to South African and British publications for more than 25 years. When not exploring the Cape Winelands, this adventurous globetrotter reports on exotic destinations around the world as a travel correspondent, and for the weekly travel show on SAfm. › Braam Malherbe is an extreme adventurer, conservationist, youth developer, motivational speaker, TV presenter and author of the best-seller, The Great Run. He has been involved in counter-poaching operations as an honorary ranger for SANParks, co-founded the Table Mountain National Park’s Volunteer Firefighting Unit, and is actively involved in numerous nongovernmental organisations and conservation groups. Braam has run the length of the Great Wall of China as well as the entire coastline of South Africa, and has taken part in an unassisted ski race to the South Pole. › Angus Begg likes to giggle, but he’s 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 him the roundabout route to the fields of travel and environment, in which he now writes, produces and photographs. Angus 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. › Matthew Holt is a self-confessed list-ticker. He’s climbed the seven continental summits, skied the last degree to both Poles and, so far, climbed more than 30 of the world’s 50 most prominent peaks. He’s also chanced his luck at bog snorkelling, cheese rolling, wife carrying and bull running.  A freelance writer based in Cape Town, Matthew is the author of two books: The Miles High Club and Life’s Rich Tapestry.

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with T bushmans H E L AS T L AUG H kloof and The Intrepid Explorer

One lucky reader will win a two-night stay for two in five-star luxury in the Cederberg, worth

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The award-winning Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, at the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, 270km from Cape Town, offers a truly unique wilderness experience among wide-open plains and majestic rock formations.

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ixteen beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites offer breathtaking views across the indigenous gardens, while private villa Koro Lodge, located in a secluded corner of the reserve, is ideal for friends or families with children. The Bushmans Kloof reserve is a South African Natural Heritage Site and custodian to over 130 ancient Bushman rock art locations—some more than 10 000 years old. It is also home to 150 kinds of birds, over 35 species of mammals (including the rare Cape mountain zebra) as wellas 755 plant species. The chance to reconnect with nature and spend quality time with loved ones is what lies at the heart of this Relais & Châteaux lodge, with invigorating outdoor activities ranging from nature drives, rock art excursions, botanical walks and mountain biking, to archery, swimming, canoeing and fishing.

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South African residents can take advantage of a host of special offers this winter, including Family Fun getaways for the whole family, indulgent wellness escapes for spa aficionados, and exclusive Botanical Breaks that explore the richness of the Cederberg flora. Packages start from R2 450 per person sharing per night, with luxury accommodation, all meals and lodge activities included. To see all special winter offers and other information, visit www.bushmanskloof.co.za. One lucky reader will win a two-night stay for two people sharing a Luxury room. Included are all meals, daily nature drives and rock art excursions, as well as a bottle of Méthode Cap Classique in the room upon arrival. The prize also features a private dinner for two at the romantic Kadoro stone cottage, and two Cederberg ‘Soul’ution signature spa treatments.

To enter, send the answer to the question below, along with your name and contact details, to taryn@insightspublishing.co.za before 18 August 2016.

Question: At the foothills of which mountains is the Bushmans Kloof lodge situated? Terms & conditions › Winners will be notified by telephone or email. › The prize is valued at R22 620. It is not transferable and cannot be converted to cash. › Any extra costs incurred such as beverages, telephone and laundry, curios and all additional expenses not mentioned will be for the winner’s own account. › Lunch is not included on the days of arrival and departure. › The prize is valid Sunday to Thursday only, until 30 November 2016. › Accommodation is subject to availability. › Winners are responsible for their own transport.

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BR A AM M A LH E RB E

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close UP

Seeing elephants in their natural habitat helps people understand and value their importance in the wild, writes Braam Malherbe

AND

personal Loxodonta africana, the African elephant, surely is one of the most impressive, emotive and iconic mammals alive on Earth today. Yet we, Homo sapiens, are continuing to drive this keystone species to extinction through our actions. Two of the main factors implicated in the species’ demise are habitat destruction due to human overpopulation, and poaching for ivory.

Photographs by Osnat Raviv

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i

n 1980, there were an estimated 1 million African elephants—by 2012, only approximately 400 000 remained. This represents a staggering 60% decrease in just over 35 years. The human population in the same period has increased from 4.5 billion people in 1981 to 7.4 billion people today—an increase of 64%. These statistics are shocking and make one wonder what we can do to stop this. What can we do to ensure our grandchildren enjoy the privilege of seeing these majestic animals alive? Education is always an important factor in the conservation of any species, especially if its demise is caused directly by human action. Awareness of the problem needs to be created—for population groups who are geographically or socio-economically far removed from the issue, but also for those who have the funds and power to make a real difference. Local communities have the power to make a difference once they understand that wildlife is an asset. It is vital that these communities benefit from wildlife in a

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positive way. If this does not happen, there is little chance that our wild animals will escape destruction. Wildlife tourism is one way in which substantial financial resources are being created to be fed back into the preservation of habitat of wild species; involving local communities through employment is another. On the other hand, communities living in close proximity to wildlife need to have the opportunity to experience why these wild animals are valuable and worth protecting for their benefit, over their cattle and subsistence crops. Often these communities are located outside the parks for various reasons, so many of the locals do not even get to see the animals or benefit directly from wildlife. The more personal and intimate the experience, the more holistically educated and emotionally involved the person; the more they will walk away inspired by and valuing what they have seen, and they will be motivated to try and help preserve this. If something is of value to you, it becomes your responsibility. Recently, I had the privilege to visit Adventures With Elephants (AWE) near Bela

Bela in the Limpopo province. Viewing elephants in their natural habitat at a distance from a safari vehicle, as opposed to reading about them in a book or watching them on television, helps a great deal toward making people understand the magic and importance of the African wilderness. Nothing can compare to being really close to one of these amazing animals. The reason for my visit was because my charity, The DOT (Do One Thing)

THIS PAGE: Malherbe (proudly sponsored by Toyota) and Sean Hensman with the elephants at AWE PREVIOUS SPREAD & OPPOSITE: Malherbe and Chova get to know each other

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BRA AM M AL H ER BE

Foundation, awarded AWE with R50 000 toward elephant research. Money had been donated to the foundation from the estate of the late Dr Clay Wilson, a wildlife vet who was very involved in elephant conservation. After conducting due diligence on AWE, we decided it was a worthy recipient. The elephants at AWE arrived as so-called ‘problem’ and ‘unmanageable’ animals, and were faced with two simple options: be destroyed or be placed in protective care as ambassadors. AWE managing director Sean and manager Mike are the sons of the late Rory Hensman who, over 30 years ago, took in such ‘problem’, injured or orphaned animals on their family farm in Zimbabwe. Sean says, “The mission of AWE is to increase awareness of the conservation issues facing wildlife and conservationists in a modernising Africa with a burgeoning population. We want to inspire awe, joy and an interest in the African elephant. It is vital for people to understand that wildlife needs to have value in order for it to survive.”

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I watched children from the surrounding communities, who had never seen an elephant before, go from initial (and understandable) fear to a state of wonderment and humility

And I witnessed ‘value’ aplenty. Initially, like many people, I was sceptical of so-called ‘trained’ animals or animals in captivity. However, after my experience at AWE and gleaning understanding from Sean as to why the elephants are there, I am convinced of their value and the value they give us humans. This was the first time I could easily distinguish the elephants’ different personalities, how intelligent they really are, what their skin and tongue feel like, or the surprisingly heavy yet soft sole of the foot. They even have unique smells. Listening and feeling the vibrations of an elephant rumbling so close was very

special. I was amazed at how relaxed and interactive these animals are. I will never forget standing at the edge of the dam, surrounded by five of these pachyderms— one with a calf—and having only two choices: panic or remain calm. I breathed slowly and deeply as I heard them ‘talking’ to each other with tummy rumbles. I smelled them, and the big male Chova touched my arm with his trunk. Scared? A little. Humbled? Definitely! I watched children from the surrounding communities, who had never seen an elephant before, go from initial (and understandable) fear to a state of wonderment and humility. The unique

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BR A AM M A LH E RB E

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Braam Malherbe and Rodney Genricks (representing the estate of the late Dr Clay Wilson), handing over the cheque to Sean

hands-on educational yet fun experience is a tool that can only instil a deep respect and desire to protect these gentle giants. “Our elephants represent the many difficulties of managing wildlife in Africa today. As ‘problem’ animals, Mussina, Chishuru, Nuanedi, Chova and Shan [and later, baby Zambezi] were given to us, otherwise they would have been culled. Their classification as ‘problem’ animals is a direct result of their impact on flora, diminished land, human–elephant conflict and legislation—a scenario all our wildlife faces today,” Sean explains.  Human–wildlife conflict has increased exponentially since the Industrial Revolution. As our population expands disproportionally, we humans have destroyed the habitats of most species on Earth, and a few are left trying desperately to manage the last remnants of ‘the wilderness’. In Africa, between 7% and 10% of land is currently available to wildlife (a large percentage compared to the rest of the world). I recently walked through the Garden of Extinction in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and came across a quote by former UN Secretary-General U Thant: “We must ask ourselves seriously whether we really wish some future universal historian on another planet to say about us: ‘With all their genius and with all their skill, they ran out of foresight and air and food and water and ideas’.” We, the ‘wise people’…

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Many scientists state that humans are currently the cause of the greatest mass extinction in the Earth’s history, often referred to as the Sixth Extinction. It is estimated that we are losing anywhere between 10 000 and 100 000 species per annum, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests and woodlands. Even at the lowest level, this is a shocking indictment on the human race. The impacts of this massive loss of biodiversity will also have a direct bearing on our own survival. We often speak of ‘the big elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about’, which is human overpopulation. If we do not urgently address this, the most pressing issue facing our long-term survival, we will be one of the countless other species facing extinction in our grandchildren’s lifetime. We have overpopulated our ‘human reserve’, Mother Earth, and as such we are impacting negatively on all the other species with which we share this ‘reserve’. Let’s look at the African elephant as an example of a keystone species and the lessons they can teach us. Elephants are currently being destroyed at the rate of 96 per day across Africa for food and money. However, it is felt that many reserves within southern Africa have too many elephants. The two scenarios have much more severe and far-reaching implications than immediately obvious. When a keystone

species such as the African elephant is removed from an ecosystem, or is in excess, an intricate net of functions fulfilled by each individual species can be destroyed— causing the entire ecosystem to collapse. This directly affects the quality of our water supply, availability of clean air, and all the other resources we need to survive. As Sean says, “It is vital that animals have a value. When we see the holistic value of an animal, we protect it, other animals and, ultimately, ourselves.” We need to learn to understand and appreciate that we are a mere strand in the complex web of life and that, when we break one too many strands, the entire web fails—threatening our livelihood and survival. Standing in the shadow of a giant, living and breathing elephant, one may more easily understand how important these creatures are in a biological system, and what vital roles they may fulfil. To find out more about AWE, visit www.adventureswithelephants.co.za or email adventures@zebula.co.za. Conservationist, adventurer, author and motivational speaker Braam Malherbe is the ambassador of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund. Through his DOT campaign, he tries to help individuals understand the important role all of us have to play in protecting our environment. See www.braammalherbe.com.

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Along with a team of scientists, engineers, river bushmen and adventurers, Dr Steve Boyes journeyed down Angola’s Cuito River on an unprecedented 2 500-kilometre long expedition

sand SOURCE TO It’s been only six weeks on the mighty river. The daily routine on the water is turning into a mind game. Where are we? In which direction are we going? How much longer can we do this? An intoxicated river, going in circles, side to side, rocking and bouncing between its supporting banks; powerful as it cuts cliffs into the hills and throws up rapids for us to ride. The now vast reed beds are impossible to camp on. Our satellite imagery doesn’t help. We have to trust that each day will deliver us safely.

Photographs by Neil Gelinas and James Kydd


D R S T EVE BOYES

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D R ST EVE B OY E S

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his journey began in one of the remotest places in Africa: the source of the Cuito River, in a landscape preserved in time by war, and nearly impassable due to live landmines. Our purpose was to better understand the intricacies of this wetland wilderness and how to protect it. The HALO Trust, a humanitarian demining non-governmental organisation, established a safe access route to the river’s source; at sunset, on 21 May 2015, the source lake was revealed to us. For the first eight days of our journey, the river was too shallow and narrow to navigate, leaving us with no choice but to pull our fully loaded mekoro (the Setswana word for the traditional Ba’Yei river bushmen’s dugout canoes) alongside the channel. We trudged through steep valleys and marsh sedges, hoping to find navigable water. On 1 June we came to narrow water, cutting and scratching our way past trees and makeshift bridges. Stingless bees, heat, rapids and physical hardship assailed us. It took a Herculean effort for us to dig deep in order to find the energy to push forward each day, waiting to find the big river, hoping it was around the next bend. The days seemed endless. The journey had thus far been tough—beyond what we’d anticipated—but the growing river was

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preparing us for what lay ahead. Our goal was to pole ourselves to Lake Xau, close to the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana, by the end of August— assuming, of course, that the seasonal Okavango Delta floods would be good this year and water would reach our final destination. Ours would be the first ‘source to sand’ expedition of this river system. In 2014, the Okavango Delta was proclaimed a Unesco World Heritage Site. That same year, I established the Okavango Wilderness Project (OWP) with the aim of continuing research and advocating for the protection of an entire system. It was not enough simply to protect the delta. In order to sustain its livelihood, one had to look upstream—into Angola. Following months of discussions with potential donors, National Geographic agreed to assist with funding to undertake a four-month expedition to expand our conservation efforts north to the Angolan highlands where the life-giving floodwaters of the delta originate. Seven mekoro and hundreds of kilogrammes of food supplies, advanced research equipment, batteries, cameras and expedition gear were packed into vehicles. Months of logistical planning and bureaucratic administration went into ensuring this expedition could happen. I gathered a team comprising scientists

and explorers from the US, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, England, Australia and South Africa as well as local experts—a multicultural, best-of-the-best team; it is only a group like this, and collaborations with our partners, that will give us the ability to save this place. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens recently identified this area of Angola as the “least sampled location on the planet for botanical diversity”. In addition to the scientists, five Ba’Yei polers from the village of Seronga in Botswana accompanied us to assist with the poling of the mekoro, but also to be our river ambassadors: the people of the delta, meeting the people of the river. They are the first Ba’Yei to set eyes on the source lake of the Cuito River. In the upper catchment,

PREVIOUS SPREAD: Dr Steve Boyes propels his mokoro with a traditional ngashi long pole THIS PAGE: A caravan of seven full mekoro glide through the floodplains and hippo paths of the Okavango Delta OPPOSITE PAGE: Dr Boyes looks to his team as they give these African giants time and space to drink and move along

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KIN S L EY H O L GATE

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s true wilderness areas. You can feel the heartbeat of the planet here; you can feel the pulse of Africa. The journey through the delta was magical. none of the local communities has ever seen or met people from the outside for over 40 years. They have no links to government, and all have been excited to see us. It has been a privilege to meet these people of the river and gather local knowledge from them. We were all aware of the safety risks on an expedition like this; however, having poled through the delta every year since 2010, we felt very comfortable in our mekoro. But on 11 July, an unprovoked hippo attack sent my mokoro flying, two tusks pierced the boat and all the gear was lost. A frantic swim to the shore ensued, my heart racing—but thankful that no one had been injured. I was grateful to that hippo. It reminded me never to become complacent. Stay in the present moment and never forget where you are. On day 45 of our mission, we reached the town of Cuito Cuanavale, where we

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briefly stopped to rest. There were locals everywhere. “Bom dia!” all day. These must be the friendliest people in the world. Almost 30 years of civil war in Angola depopulated the landscape, leaving it with one of the world’s highest concentrations of landmines and very few animals. The wildlife, however, is returning. So are the people. We need to act now to protect this river system. If developmental projects such as new infrastructure, mining, irrigation and agriculture are undertaken without consideration for the environment, then the system is at risk. We reached Namibia on 1 August after 67 days in Angola, where the Cuito joins with the mighty Cubango and flows through the Kavango region, past settlements and tourist lodges before entering the panhandle in Botswana. The team spent a night of celebration in Seronga, the home village of the Ba’Yei polers. From there the

river changes once again, spreading its waters into the delta, welcoming wilderness and wildlife into its haven. The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s true wilderness areas. You can feel the heartbeat of the planet here; you can feel the pulse of Africa. The journey through the delta was magical, a paradise unfolded as the diversity of animals appeared around every corner: elephants, buffalo, red lechwe, monkeys, birds, insects… it’s almost indescribable. While the water levels were low, our energy levels were revived; and though we once again had to don the harnesses and pull our way through the reeds, having the animals for company was sheer pleasure. We recorded high numbers of birds, some awesome night sounds including the roar of lions, and experienced a warm welcome from a herd of elephants that came as close as four metres from us to drink water and to play. In early September we reached Maun: a dusty town, a safari hub and an aptly nicknamed “donkey town”. It offered a chance for us to resupply, eat something other than rice and beans, and prepare ourselves for the final push. Fortunately, our timing was perfect and water levels allowed us to continue down the Boteti River, past villages, roads, fences and livestock, and into Lake Xau, to the furthest point from the start of this water journey.

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D R ST EVE B OY E S

LEFT TO RIGHT: Some of the most personal wildlife encounters on #Okavango15 were with elephants, getting as close as 4m while still comfortable with the mokoro; Bucket laundry and baths were daily rituals after a day of sweat and mud; Steve and Giles Trevethick embrace immediately upon reaching shore after the mokoro was overturned by a hippo

Here lie the waters of the Cuito, the Cubango, the Okavango and the Boteti: the water through which we had travelled, had studied, had learnt from and which had sustained us. An air of calm surrounded our team and our welcoming party as we shared our final bonfire meal. After 121 days and 2 560km, we had completed our mission. We had met the people of the river and uncovered its secrets, and now want to ensure one of the most pristine river catchments can show the world the way things could be. The expedition’s scientists have already found many species of fish, aquatic insects and plants. Some of the species are new to that part of the river and some include new subspecies. From so far north in this forgotten land, we have confirmed the presence of lion, leopard, hyena, wild dog, bush pig, numerous antelope and more. We have recorded high numbers of wattled crane, crocodile, tiger fish and hippo in the river system. We have even come across an undocumented and unnamed waterfall in the upper catchment—a true hidden treasure that needs protection. Amid the many hardships, we found success. The project has been accepted

wholeheartedly by Angola, Namibia and Botswana. We have been endorsed by the president of Angola, and met with two governors and the minister of the Environment Department. There’s an incredible diversity and abundance of life in this landscape, and its fate lies with the Angolan government and its people. I’m committed to preserving the Okavango River in its current state by empowering governments with the information they need to support sustainable development and wildlife conservation. This expedition has been about collaboration, research and open-source data. The team has offered a live data expedition for the world to experience, by sharing all biometrics, sights, sounds, scientific findings and movements in real time via satellite, and uploaded to our website: intotheokavango.org. Anyone can follow along with updates on social media via @intotheokavango on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. All data is open-source,

available to anyone, any time, and can be used by other scientists and research organisations around the world. The progress we’ve made thus far is encouraging, and this momentum needs to be maintained if we are to deliver a conservation plan that protects these fragile landscapes in perpetuity. Our project partner, Dr John Mendelsohn, sums it up: “In 10 years’ time, when someone says they’re going to the Okavango, they will be talking about the entire river basin, not just the delta. Only through shared benefit from the river and tourism development in Angola will this enigmatic river system remain intact for future generations.” Founder and project leader of the Okavango Wilderness Project, Dr Rutledge S. Boyes is also a National Geographic Emerging Explorer; scientific director and trustee of the Wild Bird Trust; and a research associate of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. He can be emailed at: steve@wildbirdtrust.com.

#CUITO2016 AND #CUANAVALE2016 Following on from the surveys conducted as part of #Okavango15, we focused our research on the upper catchment in Angola. From February to May 2016, a new expedition took place, bringing the science team back to this magical place to investigate life in the wet season. New research activities include 45 camera traps, 66 Sherman traps, new nets and harp traps, pitfall and light traps, DNA sampling from bushmeat markets, and

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socio-economic questionnaires. We have a mobile studio for species photos, underwater housings for DSLR cameras, hides and specialist camera traps to better document and capture these discoveries. We anticipate new species of bats, insects, spiders, small mammals, reptiles, small antelope, fish, frogs and plants. Several fish species are being exported live to labs in South Africa for study of their breeding cycles. We also have three Ba’Yei from the Okavango

Delta (Botswana) and three Angolan research assistants from the Ministry of Environment to assist in the field. The OWP and National Geographic Society are establishing an unrivalled baseline biodiversity data set for the Okavango River Basin in a short space of time. We are demonstrating just how valuable and unique the upper catchment is, as part of an accelerated process toward meaningful protection.

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www.mabalingwegamereserve.co.za - info@boschpoort.co.za - 014 736 9050


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Graham Howe joins the merry throng of pagan spirits in Lucerne, celebrating the end of winter

JOYS OF A

SWISS

SPRING

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An army of trees is on the march; the forest on the move. A troupe of 30 villagers are dressed as tree trunks, wearing headdresses of branches and greenery. Brass bands in folksy costume bang drums and blow trombones, the cacophony of sound ringing through the cobbled streets and squares. Huge crowds—gathered on balconies, at open windows and along the pavement—applaud, dance and wave in wild revelry. Welcome to Fasnacht.


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e watched this spectacular procession through the ancient town of Lucerne in central Switzerland, celebrating the traditional carnival that marks the end of another long, cold, wet winter. Twenty-first century man in search of his pagan soul, villagers from all around come dressed in costumes out of the wilderness: wearing fantastic masks and costumes of stag antlers, green ferns and vines, faux animal skins, woodland sprites, wild men of the forest and grotesque orcs from The Lord of the Rings. Thousands participate in one of the biggest festivals in Europe, which harks back to pagan times and which celebrates the changing of the seasons, the rebirth of spring. The festival fills the streets into the early hours, with up to 50 troupes in carnival costumes plus thousands of locals. We were carried along in a human wave across the old wooden bridges, through the narrow medieval alleyways, led by standard-bearers trooping Fasnacht heraldry, and bands playing loud enough to bring down an avalanche. Fasnacht—“festival night”—is marked by six days and nights of misrule and merrymaking, when the Swiss let their hair down in a catharsis going back centuries. The medieval festivities begin with morning watch when the legendary

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Brother Fritschi, the guild merchant and patron saint of the festival, arrives by old wooden boat on the banks of Lake Lucerne, as he did in 1513. Huge crowds gather in the Kappellplatz or chapel square, Unter der Egg (under the hill) of the old town, to greet his appearance—and where they erect a tall tree festooned with festival flags, rather like dancing around the maypole in folk legend. The mayhem starts at 5 a.m. on a freezing cold morning in an orgy of chaos on what is known as Schmutziger Donnerstag (Dirty Thursday). The locals pelt each other with hundreds of oranges (symbolising the colour of the sun) until the old cobbled square runs red; and blow up bags of coloured confetti hanging on the overhead telephone wires, showering the crowds below who toast the mayhem with local beer and schnapps. The confetti is made from old telephone directories in a modern, eco-friendly way—this is, after all, a celebration of the forces of nature. The Kappellplatz is the epicentre of the festival, with bands playing every day on the church steps. The old Jesuit Mission on the opposite bank closes its huge wooden doors, the medieval murals of the Old and New Testaments on the covered wooden bridge are covered up, and the apostles avert their eyes from all the debauchery. The festival of indulgence ends on Güdisdienstag (Paunch Tuesday), the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the

beginning of 40 days of denial during the fast of Lent (meaning “spring”)— originating, like many Christian rituals, in early pagan festivals. Villagers from the countryside poured into Lucerne. I heard a loudspeaker belting out the old Johnny Cash classic, “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town!” All the cobbled squares overlooked by magnificent baroque guild houses filled with crowds watching 30-strong brass bands on stages, playing traditional and modern tunes on trombone, trumpet, horn and sousaphone. Lucerne really rocks with smoking hot brass. The funky boy scouts troupe was the best, playing The Police’s “So Lonely”. The locals call it Guggenmusik (carnival music). Another belted out that old pop classic, “I’m a Believer”—a statement of faith at a pagan festival in an avowedly Catholic canton. We saw a Sex Pistols punk troupe dressed in torn tartans, zipped jeans and piercings, with tattoos saying “F**k Fasnacht!” I queued for beer with lumberjacks in long, blonde Heidi tresses, lipstick and rosy blushed cheeks—and others dressed up as Asterix, Obelix and Gandalf. We even came across the old guard, dressed freestyle in eclectic uniforms of generals, World War 1 soldiers—and clowns. The swopping of identities behind masks is an old festival tradition. The first masked ball was held in 1819 to celebrate a revolt by the citizens of Lucerne, and

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to encourage the freedom and selfexpression of Fasnacht. I tried on one of the traditional masks of the Old Cats troupe. It was weighty and top-heavy, worn above the head, a veil covering the wearer’s eyes below. Many masks are really scary and grotesque, symbolising the darkness of winter; while others are playful, symbolising the lightness of spring. Fasnacht awakens primitive instincts, the wilden mann (wild man of the forest), the naked soul of millennial man. Village troupes design their naïve masks and costumes—under the watchful eye of the Society of Mask Devotees—and compete for the Goldig Grend (golden mask awards). Captivated by the primordial landscape of fjords, forest and snow-capped Alps, I took a scenic cruise on the lake on one of the grand old steamers called Europa. The white swans

PREVIOUS SPREAD: Covered wooden bridges painted with biblical murals from the Middle Ages link the twin banks of Lucerne OPPOSITE PAGE, LEFT: Villagers celebrate the end of winter and the birth of spring at Fasnacht OPPOSITE PAGE, RIGHT: One of the venerable old festival troupes in homemade masks parade through the cobbled streets THIS PAGE, LEFT: One of the many brass bands, dressed as the wild men of the forest, play in the old squares THIS PAGE, RIGHT: Murals of Brother Fritschi, patron saint of Fasnacht, brighten up one of Lucerne’s medieval townhouses

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that glided by are descendents of the pair gifted to Lucerne by King Louis XVI to thank the city for sending 800 mercenaries to defend the Sun King during the French Revolution (all sent to the bloody guillotine?). A magnificent lion carved into a limestone cliff commemorates the bravery and loyalty of these bold freelancers. Lucerne is one of those old European cities that perfectly preserve the spirit of the Middle Ages. The river that runs through town is crossed by covered wooden bridges built in the 1300s.I walked over one of these, painted in the Danse Macabre: the allegorical dance of death, the great leveller that leads men and women from all walks of life to the grave. The old needle weir that controls the fast current of the glacial waters is made of old carved wooden paddles. At an apothecary on one of the squares dating back to 1583, I spotted an old Latin legend that read, “Amor medicabi lis nullis” (“There is no remedy for love”)—right next to a troupe of Nostradamus figures dressed up in costume for Fasnacht. After the festival I caught a train south to Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Set on the banks of the Aare River, this Unesco World Heritage city has a watchtower (1205) that we climbed to get a bird’s-eye view of the shingled roofs and spires of the old town. I also climbed to the top of the tallest tower in the land, at the Münster Cathedral. The last thing I saw before making my struggle up 200 steep stone steps was the Last Judgement painted above the portico. The city arose from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1605 when it burnt to the

ground, and survived the Black Death, the decline of the Holy Roman Empire and the invasion by the French. The famous family of bears after which Bern is named were still hibernating in their new park enclosure, so we had lunch at the Rosengarten restaurant, with its rose gardens that were planted on the old cemetery upon a terrace overlooking the city. Sitting down at table, like one of those old bears, I was tempted to ask, “Who’s been sitting in my chair?” Bern is famous for Emmental and Einstein; the city where the big cheese of 20th century science developed his five laws of physics. I visited the Einstein House where he lived from 1902 to 1909 while working in the local patent office and where he developed his theory of relativity (E = mc2) when he was 26 years old. The University of Bern infamously rejected his application to teach, because his thesis was incomplete! You couldn’t make up the names of destinations on a Swiss railway timetable. While travelling around, I spotted station names through the train window like Wankdorf (“Are the locals called dorfers?” I wondered) and Titlis in the Engelberg. I was told the ancient Benedictine settlement of Engelberg (Angel Mountain) got its name when an angel came to a friar in a dream and pointed out where he should build the monastery. And Mount Titlis got its name when the suggestively shaped peak (right next to Klein Titlis) blew its top. Or so they say. Fasnacht may celebrate the end of winter in early February, but in the Alps we

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ABOVE: The Titlis Rotair is one of only three rotating gondola cable-car systems in the world—along with Table Mountain, Cape Town and Palm Springs, California

had to stop to rent snowshoes, as the ground was still covered in great drifts of snow. We went up the brand-new cable car, developed at a cost of billions by the Swiss company that has built only three rotating gondola cable-car systems in the world: Engelberg, Table Mountain in Cape Town, and Palm Springs in California. The Titlis Rotair ascends 10 000 feet in 30 minutes to a height of 3 020 metres. Each cable car is decorated with Swiss canton colours or a flag from almost every country around the world. Our party gave a big cheer when the car painted with the South African flag came flying past! Our guide pointed out the 30 legendary alpine peaks he’s climbed so far. It would take me a lifetime, so I’m going to stick to climbing church towers. I started humming “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music. We walked through a 150-metre long glacier cave, a tunnel of blue ice buried 20m below the surface. There are a range of adventure activities on Mount Titlis, from beginner ski slopes and tobogganing to the advanced ski piste from the summit. It was -7°C, though that didn’t deter the locals from queuing for ice cream in the bar at the top. I climbed aboard the Ice Flyer, an open ski lift that takes one on a loop over the ski slope, and then walked the precipitous suspension bridge—the highest in Europe. I was scared Titlis. You can’t visit Switzerland without doing a pagan festival, cable-car ride, a fondue and chocolates. We spent the last day in the town of Buchs, on the German

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border, at Chocolate Frey—one of the oldest chocolate companies in Switzerland, founded in 1887. Frey, also the biggest Swiss chocolate brand, opened a new state-of-the-art visitor centre in 2014 with interactive exhibits on the history and making of chocolate. I was seduced by the divine aroma of cocoa that hung over the whole town. South Africa is one of Frey’s top 10 export markets. Our host, Beat Glarner, head of production, has worked in the chocolate industry for 36 years. We visited during the low season—the peak for chocolate bears, reindeers and Easter bunnies was over— and the Swiss eat more chocolate in winter than in summer. Everything seems seasonal in Switzerland, from Fasnacht to chocolate and cheese, winter fondue and skiing. Frey produces over 43 000 tonnes of chocolates each year—the weight of 10 000 adult elephants, or four times the weight of the Eiffel Tower. The company makes six million Easter bunnies and 118 million chocolate bars which, laid out, would stretch three-quarters of the way around the world. To warm up, the Swiss eat 12kg of chocolate each year on average, followed by the Brits who consume 9.8kg per person. Apparently, the secret of a good chocolate is the house blend of cocoa beans of different origin—say, from Ghana, Ivory Coast and Venezuela—and the conching time (in a giant chocolate ‘tumble dryer’ that stirs and removes the bitterness, fat and moisture). Frey conches its milk chocolate for

12 hours and its dark chocolate for 48 hours, creating the fine texture or (melt-in-yourmouth) viscosity of its chocolate. And one more fact: Women in general prefer dark chocolate, and men milk chocolate. We got to design our own chocolate bars in the Frey chocolate workshop, one of the most popular attractions at the visitor centre. Little kids (and big kids like me) have the opportunity to mould their own white, milk and dark chocolates, mix unusual flavours and create unique designs before the chocolate is tempered at high temperature. On the way out, I spotted a wall of famous sayings about chocolate. Charles Dickens wrote, “There is nothing better than a friend—unless it is a friend with chocolate.” I relished finding out my inner chocolate soul by answering 20 questions. The analysis defined me as “a chocolate gourmet”, saying: “You are a real bon vivant who enjoys life with all your senses. You like art, music and good food. Your strong appreciation of aesthetics means you know that quality is more important than quantity. When it comes to chocolate, you prefer darker, bitter varieties. Your brain is very sensitive to any kind of sensory influence.” Indeed, from fabulous Fasnacht to Frey. Graham Howe was a guest of SWISS, Switzerland Tourism and Chocolat Frey. For more information, visit www.swiss.com, www.chocolatfrey.co.za, www.MySwitzerland.com, www.luzern.com, www.bern.com and www.titlis.com.

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On a divine summit and a hellish trek in Venezuela, Matthew Holt finds that names can be deceiving

DEVIL theANGEL Photographs by Matthew Holt and Mandy Ramsden

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M AT T H EW H OLT

I’ve never liked abseiling: dangling over a fatal drop by a single thread, hoping that the anchors don’t pull, or that your harness doesn’t fail, or that a dislodged rock doesn’t slice the rope or cleave your head. Perhaps I should’ve remembered all this before I set off to descend the world’s highest waterfall…

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ur single-prop Cessna skimmed across the carpet of fluffy, white clouds. Through occasional holes, I glimpsed lazy loops of the Cuyuni River below. Ahead, floating above the clouds like islands, were sheer-walled, table-topped mountains. Our pilot seemed less interested in these visual references, however, and more concerned with retrieving his satnav that had fallen flush between the dashboard and cockpit window. We spotted Auyán-tepui, known by the indigenous Pemón people as Devil Mountain. Over 2 500 metres high and covering nearly 700 square kilometres, it’s the source of the world’s highest waterfall—ironically named Angel Falls. Mandy Ramsden and I were planning to ascend its southern flank, stomp over the top and then abseil down the north side, next to the falls. Like most plans conceived over drinks, it looked less straightforward now I was sober. The other team members were two Venezuelan climbers, José “Cheo” Garcia and Pablo Borjas von Bach, the expedition leader. I’d climbed with Pablo before and, when you’re stuck on a mountain ledge, he’s the best chef I know. We’d flown from Ciudad Bolívar, once the most important city in South America where revolutionary Simón Bolívar had his headquarters, but now is just a sleepy backwater beside the Orinoco River. Chartering two small Cessnas, Mandy, Pablo and I travelled in one, while Cheo squeezed in the other with our food, gear, 15kg of cash to pay porters and 20kg of crockery for the Pemón tribe in return for permission to visit their sacred mountain. Diving through the clouds, we landed on a dirt airstrip at Kamarata, a Pemón community accessible only by plane or boat. We spent the afternoon sorting gear into loads and delivering crockery. Early the next morning, our nine Pemón porters arrived on four backfiring motorbikes. Swarthy, squat and mostly in their teens, they sported home-made reed backpacks, baseball caps worn backward, and lovingly coiffed hairdos. Crossing the savannah in a long crocodile, we started climbing into lush alpine forest, replete with giant ferns, delicate orchards and carnivorous plants I didn’t inspect too closely. After hiking for seven hours—which was plenty, given the heat and humidity— we camped on a terrace at 1 000m. Pablo had outfitted our expedition in style, with a gazebo, folding chairs and toilet seat, while dinners always comprised at least three courses. Whereas three sides of Auyán-tepui are dauntingly vertical, the southern flank is tiered like a flight of steps, with ramps and ravines conveniently linking the terraces. We reached the summit on the third day, surmounting a concave sandstone cliff via a hidden gully. Though we felt like intrepid explorers, we were in fact following a route discovered nearly 80 years earlier by an expedition organised by Jimmie Angel. Born in Missouri in 1899, James (aka “Jimmie”)

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Angel’s early career was the stuff of myth and legend, mostly crafted by him in the American Club bar in Caracas. According to these, he taught himself to fly aged 14, was an ace fighter pilot in World War 1, scouted for Lawrence of Arabia, and fought for a Chinese warlord in the Gobi Desert. More reliably, after the war he performed in a flying circus before moving to South America. In 1933, flying solo over Auyán-tepui, he spotted a huge uncharted waterfall, which he claimed was “a mile high”. Though it turned out to be somewhat smaller at 979m, it was still the highest in the world, pipping South Africa’s Tugela Falls (948m). Four years later, searching for gold, Angel landed his all-metal, single-engine Flamingo airplane, El Rio Caroni, on top of Auyántepui, with provisions for 15 days plus three passengers, including his wife. He’d wisely taken the precaution of first having two explorers climb the mountain and scout a descent route in

PREVIOUS SPREAD: The view of Angel Falls from Devil’s Canyon THIS PAGE, ABOVE: Crossing the savannah, heading for Auyán-tepui OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP: Scrambling up the Devil Mountain OPPOSITE PAGE, BOTTOM: The final cliff on the hike up

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case things went wrong—which they did. On landing, El Rio Caroni nosedived into the mud and got stuck, forcing Angel’s party to hack their way down. By the time they reached Kamarata, 13 days later, they’d been given up for dead. Atop Auyán-tepui, we made a short detour to visit the highest point, at 2 650m, marked by a bust of the ubiquitous Simón Bolívar. From here, it was 30km to Angel Falls—and, disappointingly, the mountain wasn’t table-topped at all, but riven with canyons and gorges. Indeed, the trail across the top was an assault course of gaping sinkholes, greasy boulders and wobbly tree trunks, while a 300-metre high cliff—known as the Second Wall—provided airy scrambling. Our head porter, Reynel, led the way, nimbly bounding over all these obstacles, with a toilet seat

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and pair of pink crocs strapped to his pack. Supposedly a remnant of Gondwana—the ancient supercontinent comprising Africa, Antarctica and South America—Auyán-tepui is home to its own zoological species, and pterodactyls and brontosauruses wouldn’t look out of place. As it was, however, all we got to see were hummingbirds, tapirs, a coral snake (which I almost trod on) and jaguar paw prints. The fifth day was a special test of humour, hiking 15km through an uninterrupted bog. I got a fair idea what I was in for when I placed my trekking pole in for support and it sank to the handle. To complement our mood, it rained all day and we were sodden by the time we reached camp above Angel Falls. We spent the following day drying our boots and sorting which

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Angel Falls from our overnight bivouac

gear to take on the descent. Then, in the afternoon, we went to locate the way down, which followed a climbing route opened by a Japanese team in the 1970s, starting 100m southeast of the falls and involving 16 abseils. Clambering onto a rock pedestal, I watched the water rush over the edge and tumble into Devil’s Canyon, 1 000m below. It was enough to induce vertigo and I felt more comfortable when I’d clambered back down. The next morning, we woke early and bade farewell to our porters. A damp, hanging mist provided an appropriate air of portentousness, while the continual roar of the falls sounded as if someone had left the stove on. Threading the ropes, we cast them over the precipice and listened to them whistle through space. Cheo went first, I went next, then Mandy, then Pablo. The early abseils all had character, being long and overhanging, offering rope-slicing protrusions or ending on undercut ledges into which we had to pendulum. Despite stringent sorting, we still had five haul bags between us and, when you’re spinning on a free-hanging abseil, a couple of heavy duffels suspended from your waist only add to your troubles. My metal abseil device became so hot from the friction that I couldn’t hold it with bare hands—and when I went to relieve myself, it nearly branded me in a sensitive place. On the plus side, there were ledges every 45 to 80m, which had bolted anchors and might have been spacious in other circumstances. Came 4 p.m., we reached a large terrace and decided to bivouac. A thin roof and shallow chamber gave the hint of a cave, and we used our imagination to find four flattish spots to lay out sleeping bags. Refusing to be reduced by our circumstances, Pablo rustled up bruschetta, gammon steaks, pesto and chilled lemon tea. As the sun’s last rays gilded the valley, we sat on our perch admiring the cascading waterfall. It was a magnificent spot,

and we commented how privileged we were. And then the mosquitoes arrived and spoilt everything. We spent the night fully immersed in our sleeping bags, heads covered, sweating and scratching. Thankfully, we didn’t yet know about the mosquito-borne Zika virus sweeping the region. The next day we still had 600m to descend, but the angle of the wall relented and—other than getting ropes and haul bags snagged in trees—we managed without too many pantomime moments. We knew we were nearly down when the blurry green carpet became individual trees and the sightseeing planes were above, not below, us. Slithering down a muddy cliff, we reached a hiking trail leading to the river, where we spent the night in an open-walled lean-to at Isla Ratón. From here, we were collected by some Pemón boatmen in a curiara, a traditional canoe fitted with an outboard motor. Hollowed from a tree trunk, this long, hard, flat-bottomed craft is designed for travelling in shallow rivers, not in comfort. Since it was the dry season, we had to haul the heavy vessel up half a dozen rapids, and it was dusk by the time we reached Kamarata. Relieved of food, cash and crockery, we needed only one Cessna for the return flight to Ciudad Bolívar. There, in the airport forecourt, mounted like a stuffed animal, was El Rio Caroni. After spending three decades on top of Auyán-tepui, it was airlifted off by helicopter and put on display. As for Jimmie Angel: In April 1956, he crashed in Panama, dying eight months later, aged 57. Though he never found any gold on Auyán-tepui, he did, more lastingly, discover the world’s highest waterfall, which the Venezuelan government named after him. Celebrating our trip in the hotel restaurant, we decided it was a good thing his surname hadn’t been Jones or Brown.

The trail to Angel Falls was an assault course of gaping sinkholes, greasy boulders and wobbly tree trunks

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ROUTE GUIDE


KE LVIN T R A U T M A N

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Arabian

Kelvin Trautman leaves the big city behind to trek through southern Morocco by mule

ESCAPE This is our version of a story I’m sure most of you can relate to: Where do you go to get away from the clutter and relentless drum roll of working life? For me and Sabrina, it was the mountains of North Africa.


KE LVIN T R A U T M A N

I

t had been a crazy year. It started when we swopped our life savings for the title deed of a small apartment on the Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town. We moved our life from Durbs to the Mother City and then work ramped up. I spent six months away on photo assignments. Sabrina got accepted to read her PhD in London; lots of high fives ensued, followed by an anxious few weeks of waiting for visas. We moved again, this time from summery Cape Town to wintery London. Culture shock, weather shock. More work. Finally, Christmas loomed and we set our sights on the world map that we’d stuck to the passage wall in our poky London flat. We needed a break, some time to breathe and reflect on what had been. I wanted mountains, solace, to be far away from people. Sabrina wanted sun. The finger pointing on the map headed south of Europe and hit the Atlas Mountains. Hello, Morocco... I wake, dazed. The bustle of London life we’d left behind only a few days ago still cling to my mind; I’m not sure where I am. Then the echoes of a man’s melodious voice emanating from far down the valley grow louder, and I smile. I roll over to check if I’m dreaming. Sabrina is also awake, and together we lie in our little tent, listening to a local imam summoning the inhabitants of the nearby village to morning prayer. It’s a world so foreign, but that’s exactly what we’ve come looking for. Before this trip, the name Morocco had conjured up scenes of great imperial cities like Marrakech, and Fez with its bustling souks (markets), and the medina quarters full of storytellers and snake charmers. I had thought, too, of the Arabian night skies, rolling Sahara desert dunes and camel caravans. But this I hadn’t expected: I unzip the tent door and awkwardly clamber out. In front of me, in the distance, I can make out the pastel-coloured spire of a mosque dominating the lowly earthen-walled houses of the Berber village A’ofam, set in a truly rugged mountain landscape. To my immediate left are our two mules tethered to a gnarled olive tree. On my right is the mess tent, in which our mountain guide Omar and two muleteers, Abdullah and Sahid, sit together muttering in Arabic while they prepare breakfast— omelettes and mint tea. We have just awoken from our first night of a six-day trek through a remote part of the Anti-Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco. The mission of the trip, per se, is to climb Jebel Sirwa: a 3 305-metre volcanic and often snow-clad peak that dominates the skyline of the decidedly stark and little-visited mountain range. As with so many mountain climbing trips, though, the lure of a summit simply serves as the vehicle to carry us into another world of discovery: self, and otherwise. After breakfast, we pack our provisions and belongings onto the back of Mary the mule, whom we had affectionately named much to the indignant looks that Abdullah (Mary’s owner) shoots us.

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PREVIOUS SPREAD: Our team—mules, muleteers and guide—march on using a lonely service road to access the remote villages in the upper reaches of the Anti-Atlas Mountains THIS PAGE: (TOP) Lost in rock, lost in thought; (BOTTOM) Sabrina treasure hunting in a local souk in Marrakech OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP: Sabrina and Omar are dwarfed by rock, mountain and desert—the beauty of this place is in its ruggedness OPPOSITE PAGE, BOTTOM: (LEFT) Loading up a mule. We used a SPOT Gen3 device so that friends and family could track our journey and that we could send for help if needed. (RIGHT) Communal water containers—villagers leave a supply of water for passers-by to use at will. The sense of community was plain to see in this place.

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KELVIN T RAUT M AN

At first we’re taken aback by the enormous amount of gear Mary has strapped to her back, but we’re assured this is normal. We don’t complain; I, for one, won’t miss the rucksack backache. In fact, we find out it’s custom in the Atlas for mules to carry luggage, and locals will think it quite strange should you wish to tote your own bags. Our plod east continues. For the next few days, we steadily climb our way through the sparsely populated foothills that lead up toward Jebel Sirwa. The further we go, the more remote it gets. Our days are carried not by time but the rhythm of the place. Something about it just sucks you in. Herrah! Herrah! Abdullah chants guttural tones of encouragement to Mary. Hooves clunk on rock, and her load pitches left and right. The bubbly Arabic conversation between

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guide and muleteers tumbles down and across the valleys. Most of the rudimentary villages we pass sport neatly terraced jardins (gardens). Networks of handcrafted canal systems feed these oases of green. Swathes of harvested saffron and blossoming almond groves abound. Women, crooked in half, carry huge loads of winter debris on their backs to feed their livestock. We head up gorges and past tumbling waterfalls. We top out on big plateaus dotted with inquisitive sheepherders. The landscape transforms quickly up here; dull browns, rugged, unwelcoming and empty. The cold winter wind burrows into you, but seems to do little to the low-lying vegetation that bristles with an evolutionary scragginess. Millennia of harshness have sculpted this place. Over another rise a small river to our right leads us back into

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For the next few days, we steadily climb our way through the sparsely populated foothills that lead up toward Jebel Sirwa. The further we go, the more remote it gets.

CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: The last rock scramble to the summit; A dawn vista of our sleeping and mess tents pitched on a livestock terrace owned by a local farmer; Summit selfie; Prepping dinner in a local shepherd shelter, which provided a welcome respite from the cold nights.

the next valley. Greenery again. And it’s here that we meet Fatima, the 21-year-old daughter of Raahima at whose house we’ve stopped to have lunch. In true Berber style, we’re welcomed in and made to feel right at home. Berbers, the indigenous people of North Africa, are famed for their hospitality toward strangers, and it’s not uncommon to be invited in to share a meal. Apart from nourishment, these opportunities also serve as a great way to get insight into the Berber way of life. Raahima gives us a tour, in Arabic, of the soot-stained kitchen. She sits Sabrina down and shows her how to grind maize using a crude stone grinder. She’s bubbling with infectious excitement; we smile enthusiastically, though not understanding a word she’s saying. Next to the kitchen, Fatima sits framed by a makeshift wooden rectangle that holds hundreds of taut woollen strands— she’s making a carpet. Sabrina is ushered in next to Fatima and a lesson on hand-weaving balls of coloured yarn ensues. The carpet dimensions are 1.5m x 3m, and will take Fatima and her three sisters about a month of non-stop work to complete. Standing there, watching this, London couldn’t be further away.

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By day 5, we’re at the base of the Jebel Sirwa summit. Above us lie a few short pitches of rocky scrambling. We’re cold and dirty—no showers on this trip—but strangely none of that really bothers us. We climb, and teeter on the edges of some wondrous voids that whistle in the desert-borne winds. Fifteen minutes later, we summit. The desertscape opens up before us. We have achieved our goal. Often on trips to new places where you find yourself floundering culturally, where your senses are bombarded constantly, and you’re living without creature comforts, it takes a while to make sense of it all. Worse, it sometimes doesn’t even feel like you’ve been on holiday. However, this trip offered something different. Was it Morocco? Was it the people? Was it something else? Maybe a combination. But I’d say this: The act of hiking/ walking plays an important part. It’s utterly therapeutic, especially with a mule carrying your backpack. It disarms you in the eyes of the locals and allows you to connect more. It leaves you with time to ruminate on sights, sounds and experiences. The proverbial dust settled quickly and we returned home, refreshed and ready to dance to the beat of the drums once again.

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ST U A R T C O N N AC H E R

South African solo ocean rower Stuart Connacher braved the elements and defied his fears in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, writes Fredrik Ă–lmqvist

me and the sea Just

Photographs by Ben Duffy, Greg Maud and Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

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S T UART C O N N AC HER

Despite the imminent hazards and hardships, more than ever adventure seekers want to join the exclusive group of ocean rowers. It’s truly an epic adventure of a lifetime, but it’s for good reason that more people have climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic. But your darkest hour can also be your finest, says Connacher, who completed the crossing in 53 days.

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ST U A R T C O N N AC H E R

mong adventure sports, ocean rowing has unique characteristics. The ocean is vast, relentless and unforgiving. There’s nowhere to escape, so you’d better come prepared, not in the least mentally; your mind will play tricks on you. Life is quite different out on the ocean. When things start to break down, you’re the one who has to fix them, no matter how tired you are, whether you’re seasick, or when it’s pitch black and the freak waves come tumbling down from all directions. “It’s like A Nightmare on Elm Street, waiting for Freddy Krueger,” one rower described it. During the 2015/2016 edition of the 3 000-nautical-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge—billed as “The World’s Toughest Row”—there were two South African participants in the solo category: Stuart Connacher and Greg Maud. And in the four-man category, South African–born Cayle Royce from the UK did his second crossing with Row2Recovery, a team of amputee ex-servicemen. Participants inevitably face a series of hardships. You’re stuck in a tiny rowing boat and you know that the dark clouds

on the horizon mean you’re in for a proper roller-coaster ride. “You have absolutely nowhere to go. This is something you realise pretty much soon after you leave the starting point, particularly when you’re on your own. You realise there’s no turning back: You can’t return to the start; and if anything were to happen, you simply have to keep moving forward,” says Connacher. For most people, just the notion of rowing across an ocean, let alone solo, would invariably generate fear. Right up until the start in La Gomera in the Canary Islands, many of the rowers couldn’t hide their anxious anticipation of the unknown horrors that awaited them. Giant waves in the night; shark attacks; storms that would toss the tiny rowing vessel around; days of seasickness, endless pain, constant sleep deprivation; and an utterly sluggish progression that would challenge even the strongest mind. Connacher’s own outlook on fear is simple: “Fear has no place on a boat like that. You really are in a situation that’s extremely dangerous, whether you like it or not. You placed yourself in that situation and you just don’t have time for fear, because fear will screw up your day-to-day decision making and have an enormous effect. When things like storms were

coming in, I took them as relaxed as I possibly could. In fact, I took the opportunity to sleep more than anything else.” Connacher considers himself very fortunate that the row didn’t affect him in the way he’d anticipated, being insecure or reacting with fear when Mother Nature threw everything at him. “I thought I’d be terrified of the storms, but it was quite the opposite. For me, it was just time to get into the cabin and reflect, to think a little bit more, and appreciate that [Mother Nature] was in charge. I could do absolutely nothing to avoid whatever she threw at me. It was almost a relief to come to that realisation, rather than try and fight nature and fight my emotions.” Time was the most emotional thing, he says, “knowing, or extrapolating, how much further you would have to go, and how much more effort you would have to put in to get across that ocean. At any one time, it just seems incredibly daunting. If you’ve been going 200 miles, or even if you’ve been going 1 500 miles, it just seems such a long way to go, never mind what you’ve already accomplished. That was the difficult part.” Every day Connacher set himself targets. “You get the feeling of accomplishment if you achieve the goals you set for yourself

PREVIOUS SPREAD: Stuart Connacher says that apart from self-discovery and personal exploration, there's a far greater goal to achieve that isn’t about yourself THIS PAGE: Connacher embarks on his solo row across the Atlantic Ocean on 20 December 2015 OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM: Rowing for the Smile Foundation: strokes for charity and ’to live life to the fullest’; Another South African solo rower, Greg Maud, enjoying the experience of being alone at sea; Ocean rowing is not for the faint-hearted

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S T UART C O N N AC HER

If you’re in survival mode all the time, you’re probably going to make mistakes. You’re going to anticipate a problem before it even is a problem, and probably go into panic mode instead of survival mode for the day; to continuously have the ‘up’ of celebrating an achievement, whether it’s surviving a day or surviving a storm, or whatever it might’ve been. “There are also days when you don’t understand what you’re doing out there, like the 24 hours prior to the storm hitting you, and the 72 hours after the storm when it’s very difficult going anywhere. In my case, I just stayed at the oars until the storm hit, until I was literarily going backward. You’d stay in one place for 24 hours and row. In one of the instances, when the first storm hit, I spent 18 hours solid on the oars, without moving one centimetre. That, to me, was the most mind-bending thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s a time when you really dig deep mentally, because it’s so difficult to understand and appreciate,” he notes. Knowledge about how the mind works helped Connacher enormously. One of the courses he attended taught him to accept

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and understand things in context, as well as control his emotions at any particular time. “If I could see that I was getting nervous, I could gather my thoughts very quickly and control the situation from that perspective. It was important to me all the time. And I think there were rowers out there who didn’t have those tools, who would’ve given up at some point. Take my friend Matteo [Perucchini, from Italy], who won the solo class. I think it was only four days to go when he got onto the oars at 5 o’clock in the morning and he just sat there until 5 o’clock the night without rowing. He didn’t do anything. That’s how your mind works in a nutshell.” Considering the daunting challenges of an ocean crossing in a rowing boat, one had better be plenty motivated. In most cases, there’s much more behind an attempt than mere personal fulfilment. Most teams use their rowing projects as vehicles for charity. Besides the two years of preparation

and the actual row that took him 53 days, Connacher’s crossing was aimed at raising awareness and funds for the Smile Foundation, working for disadvantaged South African children suffering from treatable facial deformities such as cleft palate—hence the team name, “Facing It”. So far, the 2015/2016 crossing has enabled 180 facial surgeries. “One-hundred-andeighty lives were changed. Forever. That’s one of the things that attracted me to the Smile Foundation,” he says. But there’s another meaning to the name. “What we’re facing is an extreme

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ST U A R T C O N N AC H E R

LEFT TO RIGHT: After 53 days and 16 minutes at sea, Connacher arrives in English Harbour, Antigua; Maud finished the crossing in 53 days, 12 hours and 21 minutes

situation and our own fears. But when I look at the charity aspect—and this taught me the greatest lesson prior to the race—the children face so much more in their lives, and how much they can overcome. It makes what we do so much easier.” To gain experience in ocean rowing, Connacher did an Atlantic crossing the year before, as part of an eight-person crew. “To be on board together with seven complete strangers is very, very difficult; hence my decision to do a solo race rather than in pairs.” Connacher’s team lost their Autohelm (autopilot) right at the beginning of the race, so he had to navigate himself the entire way across—the best possible training for his solo endeavour. Practising in calm conditions won’t prepare one properly for the ocean, where things are quite different. “Apart from being at sea and understanding how it works, the navigation is probably the most important. Everything can be going quite swimmingly before the start; the navigation is usually working beautifully, the Autohelm is working. But once you get out on the ocean, everything changes in an instant,” he says. Compared to normal life on land, life at sea means a lot of time to oneself—a rarity in city living. There are no cellphones or contact, other than the occasional email. There’s time to think and reflect, to enjoy the sights and

ABOUT THE TALISKER WHISKY ATLANTIC CHALLENGE ›T  he 2015/2016 race started on 20 December. ›A  total of 26 teams of one to

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sounds of the ocean. “But I must admit, this was disappointing, apart from the stars,” says Connacher wryly. “The wildlife was nonexistent on both trips.” Even though you need to be highly aware in every moment, since a sudden slip or bad judgement could get you in serious trouble, Connacher believes you should be relaxed rather than tense. “If you’re in survival mode all the time, you’re probably going to make mistakes. You’re going to anticipate a problem before it even is a problem, and probably go into panic mode instead of survival mode— bearing in mind that your thinking is very clear at times, but at other times very dull. So what you think is going wrong may not be going wrong at all. It may just be your state of mind. You’re very fatigued all the time at sea. You need to be very aware of that and, in fact, sit back and let decisions come to you rather than forcing them. Unless you’re in a very critical situation, like in a storm, like when I lost my ParaAnchor [sea anchor], then you have to start thinking—and think quickly,” he stresses. Most ocean rowers express gratitude for the privilege to have rowed across the Atlantic, although “there’s a part of your soul that never reaches land”, says Connacher. The faces of the rowers when they arrive in Antigua express elation and

four persons rowed unsupported from La Gomera in the Canary Islands near Spain, to Antigua in the eastern Caribbean: a journey of 3 000 nautical miles that took the fastest team 37 days—a new record time for the event.

overwhelming joy; the great effort is finally behind them. For many participants, the epic journey is life-changing, having brought new perspective on what’s important in life, and a reminder to live life to the fullest and appreciate the simple things like a cooked meal, a cold beer and the presence of loved ones. “Immediately after the row, I was unbelievably relaxed,” Connacher admits. “I think that was the most significant change for me as an individual. I really enjoyed my time at sea. I really enjoyed my own company and overcoming what I did. But soon the bad habits from the past start coming back and you realise how hard you have to work to keep yourself in the state of... I wouldn’t call it happiness, but being content: being content with yourself, content with the world, content with all the things around you. You realise how little you need in life, that simplicity is everything. It really came through to me how much of a consumer society we’ve become and just how much waste and neglect there is in this world. Because of that, people have become exceedingly self-centred—including myself as a businessman—and it really became very clear to me how simply we need to lead our lives, to at least give something back to the world we live in.”

›D  uring the 2015/2016 edition, three participants were evacuated, but all 26 boats made it across the ocean. ›T  he majority of the participants were from Great Britain. Other countries represented were the US, South Africa,

Australia, Italy and Mexico. › This year, Stuart Connacher plans to make his third crossing—this time as part of a three-man team. For more information, visit www.taliskerwhisky atlanticchallenge.com.

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U SAIN BO LT

LEFT: With the world at his feet, Bolt still chooses to live and train in his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica OPPOSITE: The hard work is done—Bolt has run 9.88 seconds leading into Rio, and now it’s time to attempt his third Olympic Gold in a row

Ryan Scott travelled to Jamaica for a rare hometown interview with “the fastest person ever timed”, Usain Bolt

cool runnings The media rarely gets the opportunity to come and see the Jamaican hero on his own turf, training on a faded university track in the heart of the capital. With his sensational performances and enigmatic showmanship, Bolt has elevated his sport to unprecedented levels—and he showed us where it all began.

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US AIN BOLT

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ingston is a dump. Nestled between the southern Jamaican hills and the blue Caribbean Sea, the grubby city’s substantial underbelly lies in wait for oversized telephoto lens–carrying, fat American tourists with tropical thoughts on their mind and an obnoxious ‘how bad can it be’ attitude. Those who stop over in Kingston are generally en route to their package-deal holidays in the resorts of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Runaway Bay. The truth is, the lush northern coastline and interior of the island are all about tick-boxing the exotic Caribbean holiday, while the largest city, the capital of Kingston in the south, can be bad—so bad, in fact, that over a thousand murders in a year and an international crime rating status of ‘critical’ make it one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Yet, this port city, with a population of 750 000, is the place the all-time fastest sprinter in the world calls home. It’s been that way from the beginning of his professional career that commenced in 2004, and will unlikely change before his imminent retirement.

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The appeal for Jamaican Usain Bolt doesn’t lie in high-performance centres or state-of-the-art track and field training facilities that attract top athletes to more suitable areas such as California, Miami and Arizona. He shivers at the thought of Boston, New York or Europe in winter. None of the bright lights or tech of the modern-day track falls within his dedicated training regime. Bolt chooses to stay in the heart of Kingston, busting out drills on a stadium-less University of The West Indies track, and working out to bulk up muscle onto his 1.95m frame in the off season in a stark, simple gym just a discus throw away from the fading blue lanes. Over his lengthy career, media has never really been given the opportunity to come and see where it all goes down. Bolt’s coach Glen Mills rules with an iron fist and protects his charge for all he’s worth—and the man who’s been called the most marketable athlete on the planet and who signed the most lucrative endorsement contract ever in track and field is a substantial bounty...

It’s just months before the 2016 Rio Olympics, Bolt’s last, and his big sponsor Puma has managed to out-wrestle the coach into granting us the privilege of getting up close and personal in the very place that’s been off limits to media for so many years. I’m standing on the track with the chilled Jamaican who looks even more at ease than when I talked to him last year in NYC, giving off a sense of warm hospitality and pride at eventually being able to show us where it all began and why he chooses to remain here. He’s busy showing off his new Puma spikes, the latest in his bag of tricks. Turning on a small disc, he shows us how the shoe has done away with laces, replaced by the disc system that tightens the shoe to his feet with a couple of clicks. It’s a throwback to 25 years ago when Welsh hurdler Colin Jackson and German long jumper Heike Drechsler used the same technology. Bolt knows the obvious joke that’s coming and is quick to be the first to have a little laugh at himself:

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U SAIN BO LT

LEFT TO RIGHT: The Jamaican Champs—when it comes to junior athletics, there’s nothing like it on the planet; The energy is palpably frenetic, and although it feels safe, the reminder of the ever present danger of this city is always close by

“These shoes are perfect for me, more so than anyone else. I’ve never been so good with my laces.” Of course, he’s referring to 2008 when he won his first 100m Olympic Gold, in Beijing: a memorable occasion that saw his laces come undone and precariously flail around his spikes as he began showing off for the crowd at 80m—and still smashed the world record in a time of 9.69 seconds. Pounding his chest and celebrating prematurely is something the old-school fans and critics have come to harp on about over and over. I ask Bolt if the criticism affects him at all, and what he gets out of communicating with the crowd so much. “I always try to be a fun person, that’s what makes people enjoy watching me compete. I like to bring my personality into what I do. I’m not the class clown, but I like to do things differently and have fun. And winning is fun.” He’s also over those who go on about his slow starts: “At the Olympics [London 2012], I told coach I was going to get a good start. He said to me, ‘Listen, stop worrying about the start. You’re not a good starter. You’ve only ever got one good start in your life, so get over it. Just go out there, do what you have to do and you’ll be alright.’ That put my mind at ease from then on.” It’s this honest, laid-back style that serves the man well. Even though he’s so comfortable in Kingston and its unsophisticated style, Bolt is still motivated to train—not just to continue his legacy but to help discover the next successor to the throne. Putting in the time to

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help uncover the best of the incredible sprinting talent that Jamaica has to offer has Bolt as excited and animated as he is about the Rio Olympics. He’s as eager to explain how awesome the Inter-Secondary Schools Boys and Girls Championships (on the go during the interview) at the Jamaican National Stadium is: “When you see the competition, the rivalry and the dedication to making a success at Champs, you will get an idea of what it means to Jamaicans to become successful as an athlete.” The next day, in what plays out like a scene from The Fast and the Furious, our media crew is provided with a frenetic police escort to the National Stadium to witness the final day of the Champs—an experience we’ve been told will be worth our while. My ticket is Block A Row 1 seat 1. I’m sitting right on the finish line in a stadium of more than 30 000 super-excited and hyped up Jamaicans of all ages and parts of the Island (and, indeed, the world). Two seats down, a 60-year-old woman jumps out of her seat to greet me and explains she flew in from Munich to watch her grandson compete. Another of her grandsons is sitting between us. With some strategic support for all those he’s supporting, and avoiding bestowing any compliments on the opposition he’s lambasting, he quickly decides we’re best buddies for the afternoon. He’s a tall youngster recently out of school, about 20. Wearing all black with a lot of chunky bling accessories, an appropriately styled flat-peaked baseball cap, cellphone and

lazy slouch in his bucket seat, the confident young man creates the hip-hop gangster façade so revered in the Windies. There’s a heavy police presence right in front of us on the track. The heat and muggy atmosphere, together with non-stop competitive cheering from the different factions in the stadium, create a vibe I’ve never come across at a sporting event, let alone a schools athletics meet. My neighbour is not shy to direct some choice expletives to those blocking his view as the new 16-year-old sprinting star Christopher Taylor smashes another record. The time is 20.80 over 200m, enough to guarantee the affirmation of the youngster as one to sign up and nurture into a star who will help make sure the world continues to heap further accolades on Jamaica. Usain St. Leo Bolt—his name is as authentically Jamaican as his allegiance to his country. The man chooses to remain entrenched in the Jamaican way, rather than claim patriotism from an estranged location. His natural participation in the rich tradition of this hard-living city of Kingston has surely been the secret to overcoming his critics every time they have doubted he would claim another gold medal in a World Championship or the Olympics. Count him out of the Rio 2016 Olympics double (100m and 200m Gold) at your peril—but whatever transpires in Brazil, you can be sure Bolt will have contributed, and will continue to contribute in ensuring Jamaica remains the premier sprint factory on the planet.

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PLENTY OF

fish sea

Gavin Moffat takes part in the Shoals of Agulhas Expedition to witness the annual Sardine Run off the KwaZulu-Natal coast

IN THE

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GAVIN M O FF AT This pretty well-known but little understood spectacle is the annual migration, between May and July, of tens of millions of Sardinops sagax that spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and then move northward along the east coast. The sheer mass of this ‘moveable feast’ leads to an enormous underwater feeding frenzy between sharks, seals, game fish, whales and dolphins—and birds joining in from above. Photographs by Nick Dimbleby

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he run occurs when a current of cold water heads north from the Agulhas Bank up to Mozambique, where it leaves the coastline and heads further east into the Indian Ocean. It’s an adventure that practically every South African scuba diver wishes to undertake. If you hadn’t heard of it before you became a diver, you’d certainly be inducted to the Run post-certification. The presence of all those sharks is often a distraction from the magic of the dive—but it’s nevertheless a rite of passage. Sardine shoals can stretch as long as seven kilometres, 1.5km wide and 40m deep. The numbers are extraordinary: Tourism KZN throws around what seem to be some conservative figures: 100 000 gannets, 23 000 dolphins, 1 000 sharks, 500 whales and 100 000 people who coalesce around the Sardine Run. The common dolphin and bottlenose can be found in large numbers. A variety of whale species also show up, and sharks are plentiful too—with regular sightings of the bronze whaler (copper), dusky, grey nurse (sand tiger), blacktip, spinner,

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hammerhead, tiger and Zambezi (bull). Game fish aren’t shy: Bluefish, king mackerel, garrick, geelbek and Eastern little tuna enter the fray. And then there are the greedy birds like the Cape gannet, cormorants, terns and gulls who don’t want to miss out either. In general, it’s an Instagram-worthy experience. For the 2015 Run, a group of four Canadians joined in the thousandkilometre long Land Rover Shoals of Agulhas Expedition led by international adventurer and marine biologist, Monty Halls. One of the Canadians, Brett Andersen, was the winner of the global Land Rover Spirit of Adventure Competition, which invited entrants from around the world to produce a film showcasing their own ‘spirit of adventure’. Andersen and his three friends were offered the trip of a lifetime—not only to experience the Sardine Run at first hand but to participate in conducting genetic sampling and shark-tagging programmes as well. They were accompanied in the latter by respected marine biologist Meaghen McCord of the South African Shark Conservancy, working toward further understanding the lives of marine predators and contributing to the conservation of the species.

PREVIOUS SPREAD: A bountiful ocean during the Sardine Run—catering to a plethora of feeders THIS PAGE, TOP: Long-beaked common dolphins ride the bow wave of an expedition duck THIS PAGE, BOTTOM: The Shoals of Agulhas Expedition route painted on the flank of one of our Land Rovers OPPOSITE: A breaching humpback whale has the explorers enthralled

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GAVIN M O FF AT

In no time the team was in the middle of some fantastic Sardine Run action: common dolphin showing off their skill at ‘food pooling’ the sardines into bait balls, gannets dive-bombing for their lunch, whales scooping up huge mouthfuls, and sharks darting in and out for their pickings.

Award-winning wildlife cameraman and photographer Doug Allan fulfilled a crucial role on the expedition, proving to be a fount of knowledge about the world’s oceans and their great bounty. I was ecstatic when I received an invite to tag along as a fly on the wall, and I can tell you there’s no shortage of adjectives to describe the Sardine Run—and with

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good reason. It’s often referred to as The Greatest Shoal on Earth. There have been a couple of years during which there was no run, but fortunately 2015 was not one of these. The two-week expedition kicked off in Port Elizabeth, and in no time the team was in the middle of some fantastic Sardine Run action: common dolphin showing off their skill at ‘food pooling’ the sardines into bait balls, gannets dive-bombing for their lunch, whales scooping up huge mouthfuls, and sharks darting in and out for their pickings.

South Africans love their shore launches. But for the expedition team, it proved to be a new and adrenaline-filled experience with rough seas, stormy weather and our can-do attitude having a significant impact on their views of the country. It’s tough to relay in words the beauty of a pod of dolphins—estimated at around a thousand by our on-board marine biologists—gliding, darting and thrusting their way beneath and above the water, feeding at will and working together in an almost seamless fashion. It’s even tougher to describe the

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experience of snorkelling with a relatively young southern right whale of around 8m in length. Excellent work by the skipper had us in a perfect position to witness up close the cetacean enjoying our company for about half an hour: playfully swimming with us, diving to about eight or nine metres deep, and then rolling over to watch us and clap its pectoral fins. It repeated the exercise of coming up for air and then dropping

me realise there are many things in our country that we take for granted, and a little fresh perspective can bring a new sense of appreciation for what we have here on our doorstep. The expedition achieved many of its goals, with McCord tagging and taking samples from a number of sharks to add to her ongoing effort to understand the biology and ecology of sharks, rays and skates for management purposes.

below about six or seven times, and swam in for a closer look at the freediver who dropped down further to examine him. Majestic and curious, engaged and interested, they’re among my favourite of the ocean inhabitants. It was refreshing to spend time with people who were in a constant state of amazement and wonder at the beauty of our coastline, oceans and locals. It made

The team travelled over 1 000km in a fleet of Land Rover Defenders and Discovery Sports over the two-week period, crossing the Kei River on a barge, traversing a number of challenging off-road routes, and spending time with the UK’s Born Free Foundation and our very own modern-day explorer, Kingsley Holgate. All in all, our country was the big winner along with our Canadian visitors

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CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: By the light of the campfire at Coffee Bay, Kingsley Holgate tells his entrancing stories; An early-morning launch into the Mthatha River mouth; A picturesque dawn scene at Coffee Bay—as only Africa can provide; The research team tagging a blacktip reef shark: The data will be used to map their travels up and down the coast of South Africa, providing valuable insights for conservationists

and international expedition team. Our coastline shone and shared its beauty, showing why South Africa is among the best dive destinations in the world. Now go and book your trip to join in the fishy fun of the 2016 Sardine Run! Contact Tourism KZN for further details: info@zulu.org.za.

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DELTA FORCE Dr Steve Boyes expands conservation efforts in the Okavango

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› ON HUMAN POWER – Angelo Wilkie-Page’s Expedition 720 Degrees › DIVINE CLIMB – Taking on The Devil & The Angel in Venezuela › EPIC ADVENTURE – SA solo rower Stuart Connacher survives the Atlantic › FEEDING FRENZY – Sardine Run action › A SWISS SPRING – Graham Howe celebrates in Lucerne

D R S T E V E B OY E S

Along with a team of scientists, engineers, river bushmen and adventurers, Dr Steve Boyes journeyed down Angola’s Cuito

sand River on an unprecedented 2 500-kilometre long expedition

SOURCE TO It’s been only six weeks on the mighty river. The daily routine on the water is turning into a mind game. Where are we? In which direction are we going? How much longer can we do this? An intoxicated river, going in circles, side to side, rocking and bouncing between its supporting banks; powerful as it cuts cliffs into the hills and throws up rapids for us to ride. The now vast reed beds are impossible to camp on. Our satellite imagery doesn’t help. We have to trust that each day will deliver us safely.

Photographs by Neil Gelinas and James Kydd

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720

O

One man is seeking to achieve the Holy Grail of human-powered circumnavigation, writes Angus Begg

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In this age of supreme physical endeavour, of legless amputees climbing Kilimanjaro and the blind rowing across oceans, 30-year-old Angelo Wilkie-Page is on a mission to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe from East to West and Pole to Pole, crossing all major lines of latitude and longitude— using only human power.

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AN GUS BEG G

No one has rowed the Southern Ocean: the expanse of water that both legend and science portray as an unfriendly, windy and volatile beast OPPOSITE PAGE: In the freezing cold of northern Yukon, Canada, near White Horse—Yukon’s territorial capital and its only city THIS PAGE, TOP: Biking through the Northern Canadian Rockies THIS PAGE, BOTTOM: Kayaking down the wide Yukon River in the lower half of Alaska

H

e has to follow strict guidelines to set his record; that means no motors, no sails, no solar and no friends. When he reaches Siberia’s Road of Bones some time in the next couple of months, I’d expect the worst of his Expedition 720 Degrees would be over. He would just have paddled across the body of water linking Alaska to Russia, east to west, characterised by waves notorious

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for their power and frequency. The Road of Bones is better known as the Kolyma Highway, built by prisoners in Stalin’s gulag camps almost 70 years ago to link the outpost town of Susuman to the port of Magadan, some 1 000 kilometres away. It’s so named because the skeletons of those forced labourers who died during its construction were used in much of its foundations. These

slaves were also prospectors, digging for gold to fund Stalin’s communist ‘kingdom’. This area is one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth known to man, with winters of -58°C common and short windblown summers of intense heat, dust and giant mosquitoes. Wilkie-Page needs to be able to deal with such challenges, playing as he is on a global stage occupied by the likes of outdoor legends Mike Horn and Ranulph Fiennes, where physical and mental endurance is put to the ultimate test. It’s a journey he expects to take eight years altogether; there’s much to achieve, plenty to conquer, inside and out, between here and there. But, firstly, I need to understand what’s different about his mission, what separates it from the rest. For starters, he says, no one has rowed the Southern Ocean, the expanse of water that both legend and science portray as an unfriendly, windy and volatile beast— neither Horn nor that emerging global adventurer Riaan Manser, whose last journeys have included kayaking around Madagascar and crossing the north Atlantic Ocean from mainland Africa to New York. Wilkie-Page says a true circumnavigation demands he travel in one continuous direction. Without any assistance. What if there’s another person? “Technically, you can’t have another paddler—true human power requires there to be just one person.” The route comprises two parts: the traditional East-to-West circumnavigation,

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and the ultimate challenge—the Pole-toPole circumnavigation. Each part will be broken up into four separate legs. Going from Pole to Pole, Wilkie-Page will cross four antipodal points, and the equator at four separate areas. The current record for the East-to-West part of the expedition stands at just over five years, and he intends to beat that. “I’m going to be the fastest to circumnavigate East to West, and the first to circumnavigate from Pole to Pole under human power,” he says with palpable enthusiasm. Born and bred in Pietermaritzburg, Wilkie-Page completed the first leg last December; he rode a bike from Los Angeles to Seattle, then walked and kayaked to

For kayaking enthusiasts craving that detail, this KZN lad explains he’ll paddle north to the village of Wales where he’ll wait for “a good weather window before making the 45-plus kilometre stretch to Little Diomede Island between Alaska and Siberia.” There he’ll wait for his second weather window, for the 55km or so stretch to Uelen in the Russian Far East. “I will essentially be heading into the future as I cross the International Date Line—instantly 24 hours ahead!” A notorious stretch of water separating the Pacific and Arctic oceans, the Bering Straits present him with multiple challenges: cold sea temperatures, volatile and often hard-to-read weather

Whereas a few years ago he could’ve walked across the Bering Straits on solid ice, this year it was more a jigsaw of floating ice floes that would’ve made a safe crossing almost impossible Nome, Alaska. A distance of 6 552km, the trek through California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska took him 122 days, and saw him caught in a snowstorm at sea off Vancouver and suffering frostbite on his left big toe (due to the apparent failure of his riding boots and a rapid drop in temperature). As I write, he’s en route back to Alaska from Pietermaritzburg, where he’ll start Leg 2 in June. He’ll kayak from Nome across the Bering Straits, with his website revealing what he expects: “This is the first continental crossing of Expedition 720 Degrees, from North America to Asia. Currently, the sea between Alaska and Russia is frozen. This is due to warmer winters in the Arctic region. The sea has not completely frozen as it has in the past, making it very difficult to cross by foot. For this reason, I have opted to kayak across in early spring, once the ice has cleared.”

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patterns, fog, mist and strong ocean currents. Speaking to Wilkie-Page, I’m reminded of Chris Bertish’s stand-up paddleboard speed record attempt from Cape Point to Lambert’s Bay: “The winds are notoriously ferocious, with wild and big seas and the sharks abundant.” Except that was 320km and, despite it having been an event of strength and stamina, Bertish was relatively familiar with the coastline. Expecting collisions with floating ice floes as summer takes hold and the ice melts, Wilkie-Page needs a strong, reliable kayak. With that in mind, he secured sponsorship from Seaward Kayaks in Vancouver, which modified a craft specifically to allow for more storage—a R65 000 exercise, this is an expensive enterprise. Once he reaches the other side (mainland Russia), he enters a militarised

area on mainland Russia, an obstacle that involves his support team requesting special permits and border guards to be sent to Uelen, an unofficial port, to process his arrival. It makes the frostbite and being caught in a snowstorm at sea sound like the proverbial picnic. “There will be a strong possibility of being arrested or deported!” he says. Back on land it’s cross-country skiing across Russia to Mongolia, from where he’ll cycle to Portugal. That will mark the end of Leg 2, having covered a distance of roughly 17 500km. The fact that there are no details for legs 3 and 4 speaks to the difficulty in planning this mission, a challenge made no easier by the planet’s warming climate. As it is, the warmer winter has already disrupted Wilkie-Page’s plans: Whereas a few years ago he could’ve walked across the Bering Straits on solid ice, this year it was more a jigsaw of floating ice floes that would’ve made a safe crossing almost impossible—hence his decision to put off the start of the crossing until 1 May. Our rapidly changing climate links to the other mission of Expedition 720 Degrees. These days, it’s expected that all worthwhile missions in search of sponsorship add a philanthropic or research angle; Wilkie-Page’s is linked to the charity, Heifer International South Africa, which seeks to alleviate poverty and hunger. Research will be done while on the road in every city visited, with the aim of “raising global awareness on important environmental and socioeconomic issues”: in essence, the current state of food security around the world. It’s not the sexy part of the mission, but as Wilkie-Page knows, coming from a country where more than 10 million people live in extreme poverty (on less than R300 a month), it’s a much bigger challenge. An East-to-West and Pole-to-Pole solo circumnavigation is known in the world of exploration as the “Holy Grail” of human-powered circumnavigation. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect the veteran Mike Horn to have done by now. But if I remember correctly, he’s busy tackling the Poles right now… That’s the world of global exploration in 2016: another day, another adventure.

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Water doesn’t come from a tap. Water goes on a long and complicated journey to get to you.

Visit journeyofwater.co.Za to learn more about where your water comes from. Photo Š Hougaard Malan

WWF_Journey of Water_210x275.indd 1

2016/04/01 8:24 AM


SA R AH D U F F

Among the labyrinthine, neon-lit streets of Japan’s capital city, Sarah Duff gets a taste of the sublime at the best little cocktail bar in town

tokyo You’d miss it if you didn’t know what you were looking for. Like many of Tokyo’s sophisticated bars and restaurants, finding Gen Yamamoto requires the precise address, a phone with Google Maps, and a reservation.

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drift

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his quiet refuge, typical of the city, sits on a side street of the Minato-ku district, behind an inconspicuous wooden door marked with the tiniest of signs. A population of 13.5 million means Tokyo can support a diverse range of niche spots like this one, single-mindedly serving cocktails to devoted regulars. We press a buzzer and enter a minimalist temple to cocktails: a tiny room with eight seats around a counter of dark Mongolian oak. Rent is sky-high in Tokyo, so the smaller the space, the better. The ceiling is low, the walls bare except for shelves displaying a few artisan-looking bottles of liquor. The lighting is soft and atmospheric; there’s no music, just the quiet hum of the air conditioner. Owner and sole bartender Gen Yamamoto hands us the tasting menu with a smile. There are just two options: four cocktails, or six for ¥4 500 or ¥6 500 (R600 or R880). Wearing a starched white jacket and shirt plus black tie, the soft-spoken, shaven-headed Gen Yamamoto exudes the air of a Buddhist monk. There’s a meditative

confer and decide it to be one of the best tasting liquids to have ever passed our lips. But there’s more to come. A sweetpotato shōchū (a clear spirit) and mashedpear concoction—smooth, with a gentle sweetness. Gen Yamamoto explains that his creations are inspired by seasonality,

Consuming a liquid with all of my senses reminded me to slow down and savour the moment.

quality to his actions as he prepares our cocktails. Is this a retreat or bar, I wonder? Perhaps it’s both. My partner and I watch in silence as he pounds gooseberries and brown sugar with a mortar and pestle, slow and rhythmic like a drummer. The first drink arrives in a small, delicate glass: gooseberry, soda water, a spirit distilled from high-quality sake. We quietly

a concept in Japan known as shiki. He sources ingredients (like the pear from a farm in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island) and spirits from trusted producers spread across the country. Our favourite is a Spanish rye gin with Japanese mandarin, ginger, soda water and shiso (a minty herb). We finish on a mellow note with a nod to the late October weather: a 12-year-old

WHERE TO STAY

restaurants and a live jazz bar towering 41 floors above the vast skyline. Interiors are quietly stylish, the views phenomenal (all the way to Mount Fuji), and the glass-roofed swimming pool is the cherry on the top.

› Made famous by the film Lost in Translation, the Park Hyatt Tokyo (tokyo. park.hyatt.com) remains one of the city’s best hotels, with nearly 200 rooms, three

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OPPOSITE PAGE: The jaw-dropping view of Japan’s capital from the top of the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower THIS PAGE: Gen Yamamoto behind the oak counter of his eponymous bar, ready to serve the best cocktails in Tokyo

Yamazaki single malt with milk, mashed kabocha squash and roasted sesame seeds—which tastes like a sunny autumnal afternoon and makes me want to curl up on a couch with a Haruki Murakami novel. Months later I’m back home in Cape Town and I can still recall the complex flavours from each drink. But more than the taste, I recall the Zen-like calm that Gen Yamamoto brought to the experience of drinking. Consuming a liquid with all of my senses reminded me to slow down and savour the moment. Who would’ve thought to learn a life lesson from a cocktail bar? But then, Bar Gen Yamamoto is far from your ordinary watering hole. Gen Yamamoto is open Tuesday to Sunday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. To book a seat, visit www.genyamamoto.jp.

GETTING THERE ›Fly from Johannesburg to Hong Kong on South African Airways, and from there to Tokyo on All Nippon Airways.

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just getting warmed up

The cold season shouldn’t be an excuse to stay indoors. Nick Dall has your winter garb and gear sorted

It’s that time of year again: The days are getting shorter, the mercury is dropping, and rain and snow are a reality for most South Africans. You could admit defeat and snuggle up in front of a log fire with a good book and a glass of vino—or you could embrace winter with open arms. This month’s selection of jackets, boots, sleeping bags and flasks is guaranteed to keep you cosy.

K-WAY MEN’S STRAUSS CREWNECK FLEECE

K-WAY WOMEN’S TINIA SOFTSHELL JACKET

Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. You’d be amazed at the insulation this unassuming fleece provides—and it’s small enough to fit in the side pouch of a daypack. Worn on its own, it can take the edge off a crisp autumn morning, but used as part of a layering system, it can handle some pretty drastic weather conditions— making it the perfect base for transitioning weather. The Strauss is available in colours ranging from garish to demure, so you can buy a few and not look like you only ever wear one thing.

The sleek, feminine design of the K-Way Tinia betrays its seriously workmanlike tech specs. This three-ply softshell features a toasty fleece inner, a waterproof and breathable membrane, and a smooth DWR (durable water-repellent) treated outer. All this adds up to a jacket that’s both water-resistant and windproof, and is as at home in the city as it is on the mountains. It’s available in three very different colourways, so there really is something for everyone.

R250

K-WAY MEN’S STADEN SOFTSHELL HOODY Softshell jackets are far more comfortable than conventional hardshell rainwear, and much more weatherproof than a straightforward fleece. The Staden features a four-way bonded coral fleece inner coupled with a DWR-coated outer that’s 100% windproof. What sets it apart is the breathable, waterproof membrane that transforms it from a stylish urban garment into a piece of heavyweight outdoor apparel. The baffle behind the main zip and the adjustable hem both serve to keep draughts at bay; the adjustable hood features a reinforced peak; and the elbows boast engineered arm articulation.

R1 099

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R1 199

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T RAVEL GEA R

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T R AVEL G E A R K-WAY MEN’S KILIMANJARO SOFTSHELL JACKET K-Way’s flagship softshell is built to withstand anything the weather gods can throw at you. Its 10 000mm waterhead means it can fight pound for pound with most top-end hardshell rain jackets. It’s made from cutting-edge trilaminate fabric that manages to be warm, waterproof, wind-resistant and breathable at the same time. This state-of-the-art fabric also features ‘4-way stretch’ capabilities to maximise freedom of movement—ideal for vigorous winter pursuits like skiing. All seams are sealed on the outside to keep the rain out, while pit zips allow you to let off steam after a sharp ascent. And ladies, the K-Way Kili is available in female form for R2 499.

R2 199

K-WAY WOMEN’S SWAN DOWN JACKET If you’re new to down, the Swan is an excellent place to start, with exceptional performance at an affordable price. Featuring a synthetic outer and ethically sourced duck-down filling, it has useful features such as a wind baffle behind the main zip. It’s machine-washable, but you’ll have to use a specialist detergent—we recommend Storm Down Wash (R99). The Swan comes in a broad spectrum of colours, ranging from business-like to frivolous, so you could even get two… And if hubby gets jealous, suggest he look at the Swan’s mate, the K-Way Drake, also at R1 499.

R1 699

K-WAY MEN’S BARNACLE HOODED DOWN JACKET

R1 499

Take down to the next level with the ultra-chic K-Way Barnacle. Its contoured cut, arresting colourway and understated hood give it some serious va-va-voom. But the Barnacle’s 650 fill-power duck-down inner makes it so much more than a pretty face. It’s lightweight and easily compressible, but also seriously warm, windproof and breathable—and a DWR coating keeps it drier for longer. If you’re looking for a jacket that has both street cred and mountain muscle, look no further.

MERRELL MEN’S REFLEX II MID LEATHER BOOT

R999 K-WAY GRANDE SLEEPING BAG As the name suggests, this 220cm x 85cm sleeping bag is designed for the bigger guy. Its cosy microfibre lining and hollow-fibre filling will keep you warm in temperatures above 0°C, while the ripstop nylon outer is durable and abrasion-resistant. Its synthetic construction makes it easy to wash and care for, and the camo design means you’ll have the swaggiest bag in camp. To top things off, it has a super-cosy cowl to keep your noggin warm.

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This incredible boot offers everything the serious hiker could ever need: durable leather uppers, an EVA midsole for extra cushioning, and a sticky rubber outsole for much improved traction. Its waterproof lining is an absolute lifesaver in winter—but because this lining is also breathable, you’ll be able to wear the boot on summer hikes without having to worry about excess perspiration. The Reflex II is extremely comfortable straight out of the box, and is as blister-proof as they come. This all adds up to make it one of the most popular boots in South Africa. And with good reason.

R1 699

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T RAVEL GEA R MERRELL MEN’S REFLEX II WP SHOE Once you’ve worn the Merrell Reflex II, you’ll never look back; it’s comfortable from the moment you put it on, and it’s built to last. But its leather uppers and smart-casual cut hide a very outdoorsy secret: It has a waterproof lining that completely eliminates soggy-toe syndrome and makes it so much more than a city slicker. A breathable mesh lining keeps your feet dry, while the Merrell Air Cushion in the heel further aids comfort by absorbing shock and adding stability. This is the kind of shoe you won’t want to take off at the end of the day. Seriously.

R1 399

K-WAY MEN’S TUNDRA BOOT

SALOMON WOMEN’S ELLIPSE AERO SHOE Iconic French brand Salomon is all about maximising support while keeping weight to a minimum. The Ellipse Aero is an ultralight hiking shoe that will allow you to go off-road but still move nimbly through any terrain. It doesn’t just look and feel feminine—it’s specifically designed for female morphology: Lighter and smaller than a men’s shoe, it takes into account that women’s feet are wider in the toe area and narrower at the heel. It also caters for the idiosyncrasies of female pronation: the way the foot rolls inward when you run.

R1 199

R799

The extremely fetching K-Way Tundra ticks all the boxes. Its combination leather-and-mesh upper is tough where you need it to be and breathable elsewhere, while the steel shank gives it some serious backbone. Thanks to its DWR coating and waterproof lining, the Tundra will keep you dry no matter how many puddles there are on the trail. But because the lining is also breathable, you won’t have to deal with excess perspiration on a hot day. A waterproof boot is absolutely essential in winter, and the Tundra should be right at the top of your list.

STANLEY CLASSIC VACUUM FLASK 1.0L

R1 799

Winter hikes, fishing trips and picnics are miserable without a warm cup of coffee or tea. The Stanley Classic has been around for over 100 years, and it’s still going strong. With its trademark green Hammertone finish and rugged double-wall construction, it’s the kind of family heirloom that’s passed down from generation to generation. It’ll keep your drink hot for 24 hours, and its stainless-steel construction will never rust and is naturally BPA– free. No wonder it comes with a lifetime warranty.

K-WAY KILIMANJARO 2 THERMASHIFT This goose-down sleeping bag has foot zippers that allow you to poke your toes out of the bottom on a midsummer’s night, and the adjustable cowl means you can batten down the hatches when the foul weather closes in.

R2 999

*All prices in this feature were correct at the time of going to print.

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LIFE

THROUGH THE

In this edition of The Intrepid Explorer, we showcase some of the mesmerising works by talented underwater photographer, Andrew Woodburn

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LENS

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L IFE T H RO UGH T H E L E NS

Brown oceanic stingray with other stingray, remora and prodigal son (cobia) fish in pursuit—taken while freediving to 20m off San Sebastian, Mozambique

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L IFE T HR O U G H T H E LE N S

Bottlenose dolphin caught up in the Sardine Run off Port St. Johns, Wild Coast—taken while on scuba at 7m

A

ndrew Woodburn’s love affair with the ocean began at a young age, having started diving after a family trip to the Great Barrier Reef while he was still at school. He could only snorkel, though, so in 1988, his first year of university, he signed up with the National Association of Underwater Instructors to learn how to scuba dive. “In those early years, I was an avid above-water photographer who couldn’t afford an underwater camera, so I used to draw what I saw in my first logbook,” he says. He trained right through to dive master, but realised he did not want to instruct—therefore, after diving most sites in South Africa so many times over, he felt ready to choose his next path. “Technical diving wasn’t my game, so photography was the only remaining space,” Woodburn reveals. “This reinvented diving for me, in that I then saw everything again for the first time through the lens. Each creature and site became a multitude of angles,

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compositions, investigations and—depending on visibility, current and creature—a new mission beyond the dive itself.” Having a good fundamental understanding of light and how exposure occurs (he studied photography at school and used to develop his own film and prints), he found he was consistently able to shoot wide-angle, for use in magazine work. This was the beginning of a journey that led to his big animal fascination, “sharks, whales, dolphins and anything else I needed to get close to”. Besides being published in almost every dive publication and many other books and magazines, Woodburn says his greatest formal achievement has been winning the UnderwaterPhotography.com World Champion Award in 2004. But he adds that his most satisfying achievement remains getting emails about his website www.wildwoodburn.com from young people or other divers who reflect on his images and tell him how much joy or stimulation they get. “Any image of mine that inspires a viewer to stand up and be counted when it comes time to defend and preserve our seas is the ultimate reward, since many people have never put their head below the surface or can’t even swim, and therefore have no reason to defend that part of our Blue Planet.”

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L IFE T H RO UGH T H E L E NS Scuba diver with swirling silver bait fish

on the submerged mooring buoy off Nuweiba, Egypt, at 20m deep


L IFE T HR O U G H T H E LE N S

Alliance, Maasai Mara

Matriarch, Etosha

Shark vortex

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L IFE T H RO UGH T H E L E NS

Monarch of Lewa 1, Kenya

Three humpback whales investigating me while freediving to 10m off Bazaruto Island, Mozambique

The whip coral goby is only about 1cm long and lives on the coral all its life

Ethnicity, Etosha Plains


O UT AN D A B O U T

on the

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

GET WACKY WITH WINE

Expect to be wowed at the Robertson Wine Valley’s 13th annual Wacky Wine Weekend, showcasing more than 40 wine estates, boutique wineries and tourism establishments from the Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson region from 2 to 5 June. The Robertson Wine Valley team led by manager Beatrix Galloway, Elizma Botha’s successor, says: “In its lucky 13th year, the Wacky Wine Weekend has a new image. With this we want to show the consumer that we are serious about creating our wines, but we can still have fun doing so. We invite everyone who has a passion for wine to come and explore all that the wine estates, boutique wineries and tourist establishments have to offer; meet the winemaker, discover the story behind the bottle, and explore a valley filled with country charm. “We continue to support local charities through our festivals, and are committed to creating local job opportunities and supporting local businesses. The new coupon system consists of six free wine tastings per winery. By implementing this, we hope that festival goers will explore more wineries and enjoy a variety of wine tastings to learn more about all Robertson Wine Valley wines.” A family-friendly event, with a collection of old traditions and novel attractions, has firmly secured its reputation as a must-do on the Cape’s annual social calendar. For music

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enthusiasts, enjoy live music such as Afrikaans, blues, folk, country and classic—featuring artists Karen Zoid, Manouche, Bottomless Coffee, and others. Multiple outdoor adventures such as golf, horseshoe throw, vineyard trail run, colour run, mountain-bike rides, shot-for-shot chip challenges, to name a few, will entertain young and old. For the romantic at heart, go for a massage, seal your love at the love lock wall, dance the night away, or enjoy wine in front of a fireplace. Get your tickets at www.webticket.co.za and check out www.robertsonwinevalley.com.

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O UT AN D ABOU T

Come motorcycle

in Malaysia In May, Tourism Malaysia welcomed a total of 73 bikers riding through the country on 55 HarleyDavidson motorcycles in the “Freedom Thru Weekend 2016 Ride to Malaysia” event. The ride was a celebration of Hard Rock Café’s 25 Hard Rocking Years in Southeast Asia. The convoy of the iconic big bike brand started in Singapore, entering Melaka and Kuala Lumpur before returning south to the Lion City. The tourism board’s director-general Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said, “Tourism Malaysia is pleased to welcome the Harley-Davidson bikers, as it is an opportunity for us to promote Malaysia as the perfect motorcycle holiday destination among fans of big bikes.” Tourism Malaysia provided a welcome reception upon their arrival in Melaka with a cultural show for the riders as well as arrangements to ride Kuala Lumpur’s Hop-On Hop-Off bus to take in the city attractions. Motorcycle holidays in Malaysia are a niche attraction being promoted by Tourism Malaysia in recent years to draw a unique group of tourists who appreciate and enjoy high-value special interests in their lives. Taiyab added, “Malaysia is a great place for motorcycle holidays. We not only have well-connected highways but also scenic countryside, historic places, lots of delicious food and beautiful culture for everyone to enjoy.” Promotional efforts for this tourism attraction include yearly participation in Phuket Bike Week as well as collaborations with motorcycle associations and travel agents to develop and promote motorcycle tour packages. These holiday packages are also complemented by promotions of motorcycle sporting events in Malaysia, such as Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix and the Superbike World Championship. For more information on amazing holiday options in Malaysia, see www.tourism.gov.my.

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Playful rhino orphan thrives at Aquila When a newborn rhino calf was abandoned by its mother on New Year’s Eve at Aquila Game Reserve, rangers and vets mobilised to save the dehydrated animal. In the weeks since, the little rhino Osita has flourished. With 24-hour care from his human companions, he has grown into a strong, boisterous, mischievous and inquisitive little fellow. For the team at Aquila, raising a rhino calf for the first time comes with challenges, and they are learning as they go about how to best care for him. A small team of dedicated staff members ensure Osita is never alone. They expect the rearing process to take 18 months, after which they hope to reintroduce him to the group of rhino on the reserve. For now, this playful youngster enjoys the company of his human companions for daily walks through the bush, playing with balls and tyres, and rolling in his mudbath. Divan Grobler heads up the reserve’s Osita Project as well as the special Animal Welfare division at Aquila. Although he has extensive experience in the rehabilitation of wild animals, Osita is the first young rhino in Grobler’s care. Two other carers, Mario Diedericks and Junior Booysen, also come from Animal Welfare Aquila Game Reserve. For them, caring for Osita is a huge task and an honour; an experience and opportunity they treasure. In addition to feeding Osita every three hours, they take him for walks, prepare his mudbath, play with him, and every morning rub sunscreen all over his body, especially on the tips of his ears. “He is very active in the early morning and at night when he plays and pushes us around. He spends most of the day sleeping,” says Grobler. He adds that Osita has a very high intelligence ratio. “He knows what times his walks are and is very impatient if we are even a minute late. He bumps the gate as if to say, ‘Hurry up!’ He is also tuned into the feeding times. In the first two weeks of care, we set a ringtone to play every two hours. He has now imprinted this song and he comes running whenever it is played.” Osita and Grober live together in a staff cottage where Osita has tried numerous times to climb into bed with him. Cape Union Mart opened the doors of its Canal Walk store to Aquila Game Reserve, where they selected camping equipment for Osita’s carers. “With thanks to Cape Union Mart, we are now equipped with sleeping bags, tents, a shade canopy, a lightweight folding table, headlamps, binoculars, camp chairs, water bottles and camp-cooking gear,” says Grobler. Looking ahead, Aquila will introduce Osita to an animal companion.

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O UT AN D A B O U T

BOSCH CONTRIBUTES TO

CONSERVATION Efforts to conserve the well-being of the threatened sungazer lizard, found only in South Africa, have been boosted after a research team from Wits University received an inspection camera donation from Bosch, which will help them to more effectively study the lizards in their natural underground habitats. Sungazer lizards are a species of girdled lizards that are endemic to the Highveld grasslands of the Free State and Mpumalanga. According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the population status of the sungazer species is unknown, but thought to be declining. It is therefore classified as vulnerable. Wits University Reptile Ecology master’s student Wade Stanton-Jones and his team have been assessing the temperature patterns and social structure of the sungazer to obtain a better understanding of how it survives in the wild, in order to protect and increase the population number. Using the Bosch inspection camera, which features a 1.7-cm camera head that can navigate tight bends and hard-to-reach places, the research team is able to see the sungazer and possible threats inside the burrow, which are projected onto a highresolution LCD screen. The camera also boasts an LED light for dark spaces and comes with a 122cm-long waterproof camera cable.

The lightweight camera has a plus and minus button to control the intensity of the light for a full spectrum of the burrow. The video-out allows for external image transfer and it is able to run for an extended period of time, thanks to its lithium-ion battery. What’s more, impeccable colour reproduction capabilities ensure the camera provides a clear image every time. This project aims to assess the long- and short-term demographic characteristics of sungazers: a central theme to understanding how these lizards respond to anthropogenically driven changes, forming the next vital step in conservation planning. Through this, Bosch hopes to make a difference to society and conservation.

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Precision detection, even under difficult conditions.

GIC 120 C Professional The Bosch GIC 120 C Inspection Camera addresses user needs for better orientation in difficult work situations with improved image quality & illumination for fast analysis. The “Up is Up” ™ feature leads to better orientation for the user and makes it easier to locate the critical area. It is also easy to document pictures and videos by saving it on the Micro SD card or transferring it via the micro USB.

Bosch Professional Power Tools SA

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O UT AN D ABOU T

from

king

to

commodity

As the King of Africa, lions draw millions of tourists and volunteers to South Africa every year, and the nearly 200 breeding facilities and many volunteer projects have made the lion the number-one commodity in the country. The opportunity to pet and walk with these majestic beasts has fuelled the tourism industry and contributed to bringing South Africa to the top of the list of places to visit. However, as animal welfare has become an international focus over the last years, the truth behind this million-dollar industry has been revealed, and it has shocked the world: The lions are petted and bred for the bullet, and this purely for profit! The thousands of cubs born on private breeding farms are taken away from the mother at a very young age so they can be offered to volunteers and tourists to interact with them. As soon as the cubs are about 10 months old and too big for interaction, this commercial industry has come up with an additional income possibility, now offering the public the opportunity to join in lion walks. At an age of around two to three years, the lions are put together in breeding prides, which generates more cubs, and later most of the big maned lions are canned-hunted. According to the Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH), this practice involves “the targeted animal unfairly being prevented from escaping the hunter, either by physical constraints (fencing) or mental constraints (tame, habituated to humans”. As the truth about the lion industry has been revealed, the number of animal welfare activists and organisations has flourished. Because of this, animal welfare has become the new buzzword and the tourism industry has taken a new direction. Previous volunteers are standing together after personally having experienced that the lion cub they cared for and fell in love with is being used as a breeding machine, or even spotted a poster on the Internet of their lion being advertised as a trophy hunt. Words such as “ethical tourism” and “true sanctuaries” are flourishing, and organisations like CACH and Captured In Africa as well as Facebook pages like Volunteers in Africa Beware are helping tourists and volunteers choose ethically and in the best interest of the animals. More research is being done, and the welfare of the animals is becoming prime focus; volunteers would prefer to understand and get to know these magnificent big cats—on the animals’ terms. Panthera Africa is one of the few true sanctuaries for captive-bred big cats in South Africa, where the animals are protected and given a chance to prosper for the rest of their lives. As an ethical animal welfare project, Panthera Africa does not offer any cub petting, public interaction, breeding or trading. It is an educational platform that creates awareness about the conditions big cats face in captivity, and how animal welfare and enrichment

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play a vital role in giving them the best captive life possible. Founders Cathrine (aka Cat) and Lizaene, who started their journey as volunteers, believe Panthera Africa is a blueprint of how to make a non-profit sanctuary self-sufficient based on the welfare of the animals. They strongly believe in the possibility of a prosperous future for the big cats, and take pride in speaking on their behalf. The Intrepid Explorer urges readers to visit Panthera Africa, where the knowledgeable and passionate staff will educate you on interesting facts about the different species, and enlighten you on the animals’ unique personalities. You will be able to see, hear and enjoy everything these big cats have to offer. Panthera Africa strongly believes in the importance of educating the public about animal welfare and conservation, and brings attention to the truth behind the lion and tiger industry, the situation of the leopard, in addition to the important facts on how farmers can protect their livestock in an ethical, animal-friendly way. This newly established sanctuary has become the number-one attraction on TripAdvisor, so make contact and pre-book to ensure your spot for an exciting and unforgettable experience. Visit pantheraafrica.co.za or email info@pantheraafrica.com.

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WIN our best book picks! Alone: The Search for Brett Archibald by Brett Archibald (Burnet Media) In April 2013, a global breaking-news story surfaced on social media and in the world press, and rapidly gathered momentum. A South African man had fallen overboard in the night during a storm in remote Indonesian waters, without anyone else on board realising. Eight hours later, a frantic search was under way. The incident caught the world’s attention as readers were instantly transported into the terror of the moment: Imagine being left alone, 100 kilometres out to sea, in the middle of a storm, watching your friends sail away into the distance… Had he been dealt a fraction more bad luck, Brett Archibald would have died immediately. According to the experts, he should have died within 10 to 14 hours. But he chose not to perish. Instead, for 28-and-a-half hours, Archibald endured: the ocean, the elements, the creatures of the deep, and his own inner demons. Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner by Ryan Sandes (Zebra Press) What does it take to run a six-day race through the world’s harshest deserts? Or 100 miles in a single day at altitudes that would leave you breathless just walking? More than that, though: What is it like to win these races? South Africa’s ultra-trail-running superstar Ryan Sandes has done just that.

Since bursting onto the international trail-running scene by winning the first multistage race he ever entered—the brutal Gobi March—Sandes has gone on to win various other multistage and single-day races around the globe. Written with best-selling author and journalist Steve Smith, Trail Blazer recounts the life story of this intrepid sportsman, from his experiences as a rudderless party animal to becoming a world-class athlete, and includes details on his training regimes, race strategies and aspirations for future sporting endeavours. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the recounts of the adrenalineinducing trials and tribulations of one of SA’s most awe-inspiring athletes, while endurance-sport participants—from beginners to aspirant pros—will benefit from his insights and advice. As Professor Tim Noakes says in the foreword to the book: “However much we might think we know and understand, there are some phenomena which now, and perhaps forever, we will never fully comprehend. We call such happenings ‘enigmas’. Or even miracles. Ryan Sandes is one such.” To stand a chance of winning both these titles, send your name, contact details and the answer to the question below to taryn@insightspublishing.co.za before 18 August 2016. The winner will be notified via telephone or email. Question: Name the two books up for grabs.

“Remote” and “pristine” are words perfectly encapsulated when describing the largely inaccessible rainforests of Central African Republic. This is the land of western lowland gorilla, bongo antelopes and forest elephant, and home to nomadic Ba’Aka pygmies who share this wild gem of Africa with 16 species of primates including mangabeys, galagos and pottos. Here, the rare chance to spot picathartes offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for birding enthusiasts. You’ll be guided by legendary African guide Peter Comley as you travel in small fixed-wing planes, 4x4 vehicles, pirogues powered by tribesmen and on foot as you explore the remotest parts of the jungle. Spend your days trekking one of only two habituated western lowland gorilla groups in the world, or hiding out in a mirador overlooking the famous Dzanga Bai, hoping to capture the perfect image of the critically endangered forest elephant. This trip is not just another rugged adventure but a rare opportunity to engage with some of the most endangered wildlife and varied birdlife on planet Earth. It’s a must-do trip for the avid birder, nature- and wildlife photographer, and off-the-beaten-track explorer. You’ll be more than comfortable at your base: the tranquil, rustic Sangha Lodge overlooking the Sangha River. This 9-night/10-day expedition departs on 9 October 2016. For more information, go to www.wildfrontiers.com.

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©Tony Camacho

VISIT THE WILD GEM OF AFRICA


O UT AN D ABOU T

On the road to success While some of us take in the scenery at a race we’ve entered, a few fast snakes at the front of the field are racing to the finish line. Yes, you know the guys: When you’re halfway on an out-andback course, they’re speeding past you on the other side of the road on their way to a medal. The K-Way VOB Running Club boasts some gifted runners in its development programme that supports about 40 athletes in junior and senior age categories. It welcomes runners “who have limited resources and opportunities, so that we can help enable them to

fulfil their potential as runners and as members of society”. K-Way is the club’s official sponsor, as well as VOB club members who have donated to the programme. The Chairman’s Fund is used to pay for race entry fees at selected races, transport to and from these events, and the purchase of new shoes— which are given to the best 10 to 14 athletes who qualify based on six-monthly performance bands. The club recently also gave the top men and ladies a super K-Way softshell jacket. The club strives to help development programme members reach their full potential, so it arranges medical assistance when required, and assists with driver’s licence tests as well as employment opportunities. Last year was outstanding for many of the runners. The top three junior ladies—Pamela Moyikwa, Busisiwe Gwala and Nomaxesibe Ngcantsi—won numerous Open Team prizes at road races throughout 2015. At the Western Province awards evening in October, Moyikwa and Gwala were honoured for their outstanding achievements, both awarded WP Colours for road running, while Moyikwa was also given Colours for track and field. The club also had three male athletes represent Western Province last year: Lukhanyo Nobakado, Akhona Makila and Xolisa Batala. Makila is the club’s fastest athlete over 10km, 15km and 21.1km; while Siyabulela Mpongwana is the best over the marathon distance.

www.wildfrontiers.com

HIGHWAY TO AFRICA WE EXPLORE. OTHERS FOLLOW. DESIGNING SAFARIS FOR 25 YEARS.

CONTACT US

reservations@wildfrontiers.com

TANZANIA KENYA UGANDA RWANDA ETHIOPIA ZIMBABWE BOTSWANA ZAMBIA


O UT AN D A B O U T

CHECKED life’s a beach The Noordhoek Beach Villa offers holiday accommodation like no other. Here one can enjoy stylish open-plan living with great flow from kitchen, dining- and living room through to the large deck and solar-heated beach pool. Soak up the sun by the pool or enjoy the dappled shade while lazing in the hammock. The house has been designed and furnished to enable you to enjoy a perfect leisure holiday in the Cape. Every part of the villa offers a peaceful and relaxing ambience, especially as the incredible sunset fills the house with Africa’s warm colours. It’s set in a family-friendly and secure location just one street back from Noordhoek Beach—which attracts surfers, horse riders, hikers and kitesurfers—within a large, fully enclosed garden with double garage and off-street parking for six cars. Facilities include satellite TV, DVD player, stereo and wireless Internet access. A pool

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safety fence is available for young children. Noordhoek is a vibrant rural village nestled under Chapman’s Peak, close to Cape Town—the ideal location to explore the city and the many surrounding attractions. Robben Island, Table Mountain, Boulders Beach penguin colony, St James, Kalk Bay, Cape Point, the famous wine routes and restaurants, as well as Cape Town’s best golf courses are all within easy driving distance. The Farm Village Noordhoek is a delightful complex of great cafés, restaurants, bars and a deli; a large

shopping mall with all amenities is a few minutes’ drive from there. You’ll find yourself torn between enjoying the local area with fine dining, beach walks, mountain hikes, drinks at Monkey Valley Resort, horse riding and surfing—and just relaxing in the hammock by the pool. For more information, go to noordhoekbeachvilla.co.za, and for more incredible villas up for rental see www.capevillacollection.com.

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O UT AN D ABOU T

OUT

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

Answer the call of the wild The rustic, thatched-roofed Bushriver Lodge is situated on the banks of the Olifants River, only 25 kilometres from Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province. It offers guests luxury en-suite, airconditioned accommodation with panoramic views of the river. Centrally located, Bushriver is the ideal place from which to explore the nearby Kruger National Park, the Panorama Route, Blyde River Canyon and the surrounding Lowveld. A wide range of activities will ensure your stay is as memorable as can be. The lodge delivers the African bushveld in all its glory: indigenous flora and fauna, water gurgling over the rocks in the river, hippos wallowing just metres away in the cool waters of the Olifants, and crocodiles sunning themselves lazily on the island a mere stone’s throw away. Indulge, explore and nurture your senses as you make your way on foot or mountain bike on easily

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navigated marked trails. End your day with sundowners on the deck, next to a cosy campfire while soaking up the sounds of the wild. Luxurious and tranquil accommodation awaits, with a number of choices to perfectly complement the quintessential African experience. As a bonus, each unit boasts expansive river views that provide endless photographic opportunities.

Whether you’re seeking exclusivity and romance, or a child-friendly adventure, Bushriver Lodge is the place to be. Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time. Book your African bush experience in this little piece of paradise: Email reservations@bushriver.co.za or visit www.bushriver.co.za for further details.

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HIT T HE ROA D , J AC K

big

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

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

No longer just a ‘soccer mom’ car – 2016 BMW X1 The successor to the model that blazed the trail for this class of car treats the premium compact segment to an even more potent shot of sports activity vehicle DNA. The second generation’s body design is straight out of the BMW X model mould. The interior, meanwhile, offers significantly more space for passengers and luggage. Alongside market-leading dynamics and efficiency, a host of innovative equipment features also help to secure the new BMW X1 its standout position in the segment.

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Rugged proportions, a powerful presence and dynamic lines lend the new BMW X1 a commanding appearance. The interior combines the driver-focused cockpit design with touches promoting authoritative, SAV– style driving pleasure. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, an audio system with USB and AUX-in sockets, and the iDrive operating system, of which the 6.5-inch display is integrated into the instrument panel in freestanding monitor form. The Sport Line, xLine and M Sport packages

available as alternatives open the door for targeted individualisation. The second-generation BMW X1 (fuel consumption combined: 6.4–4.1 litres/100km; CO2 emissions combined: 149–109g/km) lines up with an all-new selection of engines. Two petrol and one diesel unit are available, all of which have four cylinders. Outputs range from 100kW to 170kW. The engines link up with either a 6-speed manual (sDrive 18i and sDrive20d only) or an 8-speed Steptronic

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unit (standard in all xDrive models, and 6-speed Steptronic unit in sDrive18i only), both of which are new developments. The efficient xDrive intelligent all-wheeldrive system uses an electro-hydraulically controlled multi-plate clutch to distribute drive between the front- and rear axle, just as required for the situation at hand. Joining the fray is a front-wheel-drive construction that has been developed to deliver the driving dynamics typical of the brand.

A new addition is a BMW Head-Up Display that projects driving-related information directly onto the windscreen. The X1 can now be specified with the Driving Assist Plus line-up of the Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Jam Assistant, Collision Warning, and Approach Control Warning with City Braking function. These systems are complemented by an up-to-the-minute

selection of apps that allow customers to add to the car’s comfort, navigation and infotainment functionality.

Price tags › › › › › ›

X1 sDrive18i (manual) X1 sDrive20i (auto) X1 sDrive20d (manual) X1 xDrive20i X1 xDrive20d X1 xDrive25i

R435 000 R492 000 R479 500 R539 500 R557 500 R602 500

Bridge Between Urbanity and Freedom – 2016 Toyota Fortuner The new Toyota Fortuner may share some under-the-skin artillery with its tough-asnails Hilux sibling but, in terms of design, they’re poles apart. The new model sports a sleek yet striking and powerful design. The front end looks bold and impressive, and the overall look is handsome and muscular. The Fortuner has been designed to stand out in urban settings as well as withstand tough outdoor conditions. There’s seating for seven people over three rows. They can be stowed, with just one touch, to provide additional luggage space; the second-row seats can be tilted and tumbled forward individually, while the two halves of the third row can be stowed to offer more storage space. There’s a generous number of cupand bottle holders, compartments, trays, pockets and consoles. The air-conditioned compartment above the glovebox can be used to cool or warm items, and has capacity for two 500ml bottles. Convenient shopping-bag hooks on the front seatbacks are standard on all models. All Fortuner models have audio systems with four to six speakers, an auxiliary/USB port, AM/FM radio and a CD player. Audio systems on the 2.8 GD and 4.0 V6 models boast a DAB+ digital radio and a 7-inch screen with DVD compatibility and a reversing camera display. The rangetopping 4.0 V6 is equipped with satellite navigation. All models feature three 12-volt accessory sockets. The vehicle is propelled by a range of newly developed engines. The new GD series engines offer improved power output, efficiency and refinement. The new diesel engines have been developed from the ground up to offer an excellent on- and off-road driving experience.

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The fuel efficiency of both diesel engines has been improved over the units they replace: 13% on the 2.4 GD and 9%–15% on the 2.8 GD. The high-output 2.4-litre GD engine delivers excellent fuel efficiency, weighing in at 7 litres/100km in the manual and 7.9 litres in the auto. The 2.8-litre GD engine strikes a formidable balance between power and economy, returning impressive figures ranging from 7.5 to 8.5 litres/100km—depending on the model. The vehicle offers the latest Toyota 6-speed transmission technology for ease of driving, comfort and fuel economy. Both transmissions have a wide spread of ratios to optimise both take-off performance and fuel economy at highway speeds. The 2.8 GD receives Toyota’s newly developed Intelligent Manual Transmission for smoother shifting on- and off road. T oyota designed the new-generation

manual transmission to improve fuel economy and shift feel, while optimising reliability and durability. Safety equipment includes emergencylocking retractor three-point seatbelts for all seats, with force-limiting seatbelt pre-tensioners for the front seatbelts. There are seatbelt reminders for frontand second-row seats; three top-tether child-seat anchorages, and an ISOFIX point for a child seat.

Price tags › › › › › › › ›

2.4 GD-6 Raised Body (manual) R436 400 2.4 GD-6 Raised Body (auto) R453 400 2.7 VVT-i Raised Body (auto) R429 400 2.8 GD-6 Raised Body (manual) R513 400 2.8 GD-6 4x4 (manual) R571 400 2.8 GD-6 Raised Body (auto) R531 400 2.8 GD-6 4x4 (auto) R589 400 4.0 V6 4x4 (auto) R633 400

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HIT T HE ROA D , J AC K Pure driving pleasure – BMW 650i CoupÉ The phenomenal power of the BMW 650i provides the basis for the dynamics that propel the BMW 6 Series across the asphalt. Just a light touch on the accelerator pedal is enough to unleash the BMW TwinPower Turbo 8-cylinder engine, which reaches 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds with its two turbochargers, Valvetronic, Double-VANOS and High-Precision Injection. With a formidable 330kW and a maximum torque of 650Nm, the petrol engine offers impressive fuel consumption too. It’s fitted with the Automatic Start/Stop function and other BMW EfficientDynamics features. The average fuel consumption of the BMW 650i is 8.6 litres/100km, with CO2 emissions of 199g/km. The 8-speed Sport Automatic Transmission Steptronic adapts to suit individual driving styles. It’s perfect for everything from comfortable cruising through to a very dynamic drive. In addition to automatic gear selection, it’s possible to shift gears manually at any time: using the dynamically designed selector lever or the shift paddles on the steering wheel. In Sport mode, the gear shifts are configured for maximum performance. Thanks to the fine

increments and eight gears, the engine is always kept at the level at which it can make best use of its power and efficiency. It also makes acceleration faster when, for example, overtaking another vehicle. When travelling at high speeds, the additional eighth gear reduces the required engine speed, thereby reducing the fuel consumption and engine noise. This is also where the newly developed converter clutch comes into play. The 8-speed Sport Automatic Transmission Steptronic offers the greatest shifting comfort and the best possible efficiency. The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé manages to effortlessly combine a sedan and a

sports coupé, two concepts that appear to contradict one another. The result is a unique combination of pioneering design, uncompromising sportiness and dynamic elegance. Top-down is still the 650i’s most flattering configuration, especially with its livelier front end, low-slung beltline and athletic haunches. This is pure driving pleasure; my kids loved their dad fetching them in it, and insisted on putting the top down before leaving the school parking area! If you can afford it, then get one. Don’t expect loads of boot space, though.

Price tag › R1 435 105

A winner, through and through – 2016 Hyundai H1 Hyundai’s popular H1 Bus has undergone a mid-cycle makeover that has added a number of features to this people carrier, which will entrench its position as the leading seller in its segment. The 9-seater H1 has long been one of the most popular vehicles in the Hyundai line-up, with applications as a family vehicle as well as commercial use for businesses that require a car for transporting a number of people in luxurious comfort and safety. With more than 10 943 H-1s sold since the South African launch in 2009, the 9-seater has dominated its local market segment for a considerable time—and I can see why. A new front grille and bumper design, and new 16-inch alloy wheels are the new exterior features, while a redesigned centre fascia and instrument cluster enhance the interior. Several new convenience and safety features have also been added to

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H IT T H E ROAD, JACK

the range-topping H1 2.5 turbo-diesel 9-seater Bus, including a folding-type key; Bluetooth connectivity for the sound system, with multifunction controls on the steering wheel; cruise control, with controls on the steering wheel; full automatic air conditioner with climate control; glove-box cooling; a side airbag; leather steering wheel and gear-knob covers; an electric folding mirror; an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) for the turbo-diesel derivative; and jam protection and auto down function for the driver-side window. It’s available with a choice of two engines: a 2 359 cc petrol engine, delivering 126kW maximum power and 224Nm maximum torque through a 5-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels; and a 2 497 cc turbocharged diesel engine that delivers 125kW maximum power and a healthy 441Nm maximum torque. The 2.5-litre turbo-diesel—which has a few more luxury, safety and convenience features than the petrol derivative—uses a 5-speed automatic gearbox and is also driven through the rear wheels. Whatever the role, a genuine ability to carry eight people and their luggage over long distances (or nine, if the seat between the driver and front passenger is deployed) is its key strength. Adding to its appeal in a working application is the 1 500kg towing capacity of the twopedal turbo-diesel. Handling characteristics of the H1 are car-like, with confidence-inspiring road holding. Drivers will find the H1 Bus easy to park and, along with the generous glass area and substantial mirrors, there’s the park-distance control system fitted to the rear bumper. This is frankly the best family/people carrier by far!

Price tags › H  -1 2.5 Turbo-diesel 9-seater Bus (auto) › H  -1 2.4 Petrol 9-seater Bus (manual) › H  -1 2.5 Turbo-diesel 6-seater Multicab › H-1 2.5 Turbo-diesel 3-seater Panel Van

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R579 900 R482 900

R492 900

R441 900

Versatility made to order – 2016 Mercedes-Benz Vito Offering tangible external strengths, maximum benefit and low cost, the new Mercedes-Benz Vito is a versatile and real professional. Although it offers an exceptionally high payload, the purchase price and maintenance costs are exceptionally low. From skilled crafts and trades to retail, service providers and shuttle services: the new Vito is truly one vehicle for all. It creates an assertive and unmistakable impression, but its design is not an end in itself. Even at first glance the new Vito’s bodywork exudes high quality, and both drivers and occupants get the impression the vehicle can handle any task thrown at it. Design is also critical when it comes to the Vito’s shape, and with a drag co-efficient value of 0.32, wind resistance is very low— reducing fuel consumption and improving performance. Now completely redesigned, the new Vito’s cockpit is exemplary in terms of its functionality and ergonomics. Symmetrical in its fundamental form, the structure is clear and uncluttered for maximum operational safety. Both the driver and passenger are comfortably seated, and benefit from more space than before. The stowage concept received plenty of attention—for many drivers, the new Vito is their office as well as living space. The new front-wheel drive system in the range is very light. When unladen or carrying only a light load, front-wheel drive offers better traction. The front-wheel drive is made for operations with maximum payload at low to medium gross vehicle weights. This is crucial for keeping the running costs as low as possible. The front-wheel-drive Vito has a transverse-

mounted, compact four-cylinder engine. In cases where demands on performance are higher, where use will be intensive, gross vehicle weights high or trailer towing demanding, the right choice is the new Vito with rear-wheel drive and four-cylinder engine with a 2.2-litre displacement. The six-speed manual handles power transmission as standard, but the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission with torque converter is optional for the Vito 114 CDI and Vito 116 CDI and standard equipment on the Vito 119 CDI. For vans, it is the world’s only automatic transmission with torque converter and seven gears. The Vito BlueEFFICIENCY is exceptionally economical when it comes to fuel use. This package is available for the new Vito with rear-wheel drive and is standard on the 116 and 119 Vito Tourers with automatic transmission. The certified figure of 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres for the Vito 116 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is unmatched in this vehicle category. All in all a great vehicle—and I always love driving at an elevated height!

Price tags › 111 CDI Panel Van › 114 CDI Panel Van › 116 CDI Panel Van

R372 780 R409 830 R443 460

› 111 CDI Mixto › 116 CDI Mixto

R443 460 R556 320

› › › › ›

111 CDI Tourer PRO 114 CDI Tourer PRO 116 CDI Tourer PRO 116 CDI Tourer Select 119 CDI Tourer Select

R516 272 R540 314 R572 348 R676 088 R744 386

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STOR E L IS TI N G

WESTERN CAPE STORES Bayside Mall, Blouberg (021) 556-3861 bayside@capeunionmart.co.za Blue Route Mall, Tokai (021) 712-5979 blueroute@capeunionmart.co.za Canal Walk, Century City (021) 555-2846 canalwalk@capeunionmart.co.za Canal Walk Adventure Centre (021) 555-4629 cwac@capeunionmart.co.za CapeGate Shopping Centre, Brackenfell (021) 982-2000 capegate@capeunionmart.co.za Cavendish Square, Claremont (021) 674-2148 cavendish@capeunionmart.co.za Constantia Village (021) 794-0632 constantia@capeunionmart.co.za Gardens Centre (021) 461-9678 gardens@capeunionmart.co.za Mill Square, Stellenbosch (021) 886-4645stellenbosch@ capeunionmart.co.za Mountain Mill Mall, Worcester (023) 347-1484 worcester@capeunionmart.co.za Paarl Mall (021) 863-4138 paarl@capeunionmart.co.za Somerset Mall (021) 852-7120 somersetwest@capeunionmart.co.za Tygervalley Shopping Centre (021) 914-1441 tygervalley@capeunionmart.co.za V&A Waterfront Quay Four (021) 425-4559 quayfour@capeunionmart.co.za V&A Waterfront Travel & Safari (021) 419-0020 waterfront@capeunionmart.co.za West Coast Mall, Vredenburg (022) 713-4113 weskus@capeunionmart.co.za GARDEN ROUTE Garden Route Mall, George (044) 887-0048 gardenroute@capeunionmart.co.za Knysna Mall (044) 382-4653 knysna@capeunionmart.co.za Langeberg Mall, Mossel Bay (044) 695-2486 mosselbay@capeunionmart.co.za The Market Square, Plettenberg Bay (044) 533-4030 marketsquare@capeunionmart.co.za

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mall@Reds, Centurion (012) 656-0182 redsmall@capeunionmart.co.za Mall of Africa, Midrand (010) 592 2210 mallofafrica@capeunionmart.co.za

Mall of the South, Aspen Hills Waterfall Mall, Rustenburg (011) 682 2361 KWAZULU-NATAL STORES (014) 537-3651 mallofthesouth@capeunionmart.co.za Boardwalk Inkwazi Shopping Centre, waterfall@capeunionmart.co.za Menlyn Park Richard’s Bay (012) 368-1015 (035) 789-0321 LIMPOPO STORES menlyn@capeunionmart.co.za boardwalk@capeunionmart.co.za Lephalale Mall Nicolway Bryanston Galleria Mall, Durban (014) 763-1278 (011) 706-7573 (031) 904-2318 lephalale@capeunionmart.co.za nicolway@capeunionmart.co.za galleria@capeunionmart.co.za Mall of the North, Polokwane Northgate Shopping Centre Gateway World, Durban (015) 265-1067 (011) 794-1022 (031) 566-5111 mallofthenorth@capeunionmart.co.za northgate@capeunionmart.co.za gateway@capeunionmart.co.za

OR Tambo International Airport GAUTENG STORES (011) 390-3245 Atterbury Value Mart, Pretoria ortambo@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 991-3171 atterbury@capeunionmart.co.za Rosebank Mall Midlands Mall, Pietermaritzburg (011) 442-1959 Bedford Centre, Johannesburg (033) 342-0152 rosebank@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 615-3097 midlands@capeunionmart.co.za bedford@capeunionmart.co.za Sandton City The Pavilion, Westville (011) 884-9771 Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria (031) 265-1666 sandton@capeunionmart.co.za (012) 460-5511 pavilion@capeunionmart.co.za brooklyn@capeunionmart.co.za The Glen Shopping Centre, Oakdene Watercrest Mall, Durban (011) 436-1300 Mall@Carnival, Brakpan (031) 763-1489 theglen@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 915-0470 watercrest@capeunionmart.co.za carnivalmall@capeunionmart.co.za The Grove Mall, Pretoria (012) 807-0642 NORTHERN CAPE STORES Centurion Mall thegrove@capeunionmart.co.za Diamond Pavilion Shopping Mall, (012) 663-4111 Kimberley centurion@capeunionmart.co.za Vaal Mall, Vanderbijlpark (053) 832-3846 (016) 981-5186 Clearwater Mall, Roodepoort diamondpavilion@capeunionmart.co.za vaalmall@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 675-0036 Kalahari Mall, Upington clearwater@capeunionmart.co.za Wonderpark Shopping Centre, Pretoria (054) 331-3631 (012) 549-4203 Cradlestone, Krugersdorp kalaharimall@capeunionmart.co.za wonderpark@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 662-1530 Kathu Village Mall cradlestone@capeunionmart.co.za Woodlands Boulevard, Pretoria (053) 723-2736 (012) 997-6960 Cresta Shopping Centre kathu@capeunionmart.co.za woodlands@capeunionmart.co.za (011) 478-1913 Kuruman Mall cresta@capeunionmart.co.za kuruman@capeunionmart.co.za BOTSWANA STORES Eastgate Adventure Centre Francistown, Pick n Pay Centre (011) 622-8788 00267-241-0398 FREE STATE STORES egac@capeunionmart.co.za francistown@capeunionmart.co.za Loch Logan Waterfront, Bloemfontein East Rand Mall, Boksburg (051) 430-0230 Gamecity Lifestyle Shopping Centre (011) 826-2408 lochlogan@capeunionmart.co.za Gaborone eastrandmall@capeunionmart.co.za 00267-391-0948 Mimosa Mall, Bloemfontein Forest Hill City, Centurion gamecity@capeunionmart.co.za (051) 444-6060 (012) 668-1030 mimosa@capeunionmart.co.za Riverwalk Mall, Gaborone foresthill@capeunionmart.co.za 00267-370-0040 Dihlabeng Mall, Bethlehem Fourways Mall riverwalk@capeunionmart.co.za (058) 303-1372 (011) 465-9824 dihlabeng@capeunionmart.co.za fourways@capeunionmart.co.za NAMIBIA STORES Maerua Mall, Windhoek Greenstone Shopping Centre MPUMALANGA STORES 00264-612-20424 (011) 609-0002 Highveld Mall, Emalahleni windhoek@capeunionmart.co.za greenstone@capeunionmart.co.za (013) 692-4018 La Lucia Mall (031) 562-0523 Lalucia@capeunionmart.co.za

highveld@capeunionmart.co.za

i’langa Mall, Nelspruit (013) 742-2281 EASTERN CAPE STORES ilanga@capeunionmart.co.za Baywest Mall, Port Elizabeth Middelburg Mall (021) 886-5262 (013) 244-1040 baywest@capeunionmart.co.za middelburg@capeunionmart.co.za Fountains Mall, Jeffreys Bay Riverside Mall, Nelspruit (042) 293-0005 (013) 757-0338 fountainsmall@capeunionmart.co.za nelspruit@capeunionmart.co.za Greenacres Shopping Centre, PE Secunda Mall (041) 363-1504 (017) 634-7921 greenacres@capeunionmart.co.za secunda@capeunionmart.co.za

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

Heidelberg Mall (016) 341-2031 heidelberg@capeunionmart.co.za

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

Hyde Park Corner (011) 325-5038 hydepark@capeunionmart.co.za

OUTLET STORES Access Park, Cape Town (021) 674-6398 accesspark@capeunionmart.co.za

Irene Village Mall (012) 662-1133 irene@capeunionmart.co.za Killarney Mall (011) 646-7745 killarney@capeunionmart.co.za

Woodmead Value Mart, Johannesburg (011) 656-0750 woodmead@capeunionmart.co.za

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T H E L AS T L AUG H

Veni, vidi Graham Howe goes looking for our Roman roots on the other side of the Mediterranean

I

n antiquity, a pilgrimage to Monastir on the coast of Tunisia was a first step on the road to Paradise. Climbing the stone staircase to the ramparts and watchtowers of the ancient ribat (Islamic monastery), we gazed down on the courtyard where Biggus Dickus, the Roman ruler with a bad lisp, addressed a cast of thousands. Many scenes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian were filmed within these massive stone walls. I could almost hear the rabble-rouser of the People’s Front of Judea, stirring the crowd to rise against Rome. “What have the Romans ever done for us?” The garrison of Monastir is a landmark on Tunisia’s coast. Hannibal, Pompey, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar and Maximus all fought over the strategic capital of the Sahel, the fabled granary of Rome planted with massive olive, palm and grain farms. Africa gets its very name from the region known as Afri, after a Berber tribe loyal to the Romans; while Queen Dido and Hannibal, Africa’s greatest general, the man who crossed the Alps with an army of elephants, both ruled from nearby Carthage. What have the Romans ever done for us? We saw reminders everywhere. Roman ruins litter Tunisia from the amphitheatre, aqueducts, public baths and cisterns of Carthage, one of the great cities of antiquity, to the massive Amphitheatre of El Jem. We spent a day at the thirdlargest colosseum of the ancient world, exploring the terraces and gloomy underground passages where gladiators, chariots, lions, wild animals and terrified human sacrifices entered the arena. Talk about spectator sport. Looking for our Roman roots on the other side of the Mediterranean, we headed up the windy-windy coastal road on the way to Pompeii. Closer and closer loomed Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that erupted in AD79—burying the wealthy Roman resort in ash, pumice stone and gas, instantly suffocating all the inhabitants. Two millennia and many

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eruptions later, one million people still live too close to the brooding crater. You could spend days exploring the evocative ruins of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The sprawling complex of villas, temples, amphitheatres, fora, granaries, markets, baths, bars and basilicas is forever frozen in time: a moment of horror captured in the macabre plaster casts of victims with terrified expressions on their faces. Other body casts show dogs in their death throes, overwhelmed by a boiling avalanche travelling at over 100 kilometres per hour. Our guide pointed out the amphorae of wine bars and baker’s clay ovens known as a thermopolium where the Romans coined the expressions, “One for the road”, “Carpe diem” and “Life begins at 40”. Ancient graffiti on the walls shows the Romans had a great sense of humour: “What’s the use of having a Venus if she’s made of marble?” and “You’ve got the wrong end of the stick!” originated in the communal lavatory before the advent of toilet paper. What have the Romans ever done for us? The loo is one of the great legacies of Rome. Almost 3 000 years ago, the Romans invented flushing toilets and called the great sewer system Cloaca Maxima. The very word “plumbing” comes from plumbus, the Latin word for the old lead pipes carrying fresh water. Pompeii was renowned for its pursuit of pleasure. Our guide pointed out the phalluses carved into the pavement stones, showing the way to the old brothel. We headed off to “The House of the Big Willy” to marvel at the murals at the Lupanar (brothel), which depict a well-endowed nobleman and graphic erotic scenes: a karma sutra of sexual positions that enabled customers from

all over the Roman Empire to order any kinky fetish in pictures. “Is that how Pompeii got its name?” I asked. Judging from the gasps of visitors, the bawdy frescoes are one of the highlights of a tour of Pompeii. If the frescoes in the bathhouses aren’t explicit enough, check out the Villa of the Mysteries with its frescoes showing the initiation of brides into the Dionysian cult, and the debauchery of Bacchus. Many of the old Roman villas have strikingly evocative names: the House of the Tragic Poet, House of the Chaste Lovers, Venus, and House of the Gilded Cupids where the casts of victims still lie. Let me not ramble on, as too much has been written already of Pompeii. An ancient Roman cynic left behind graffiti on the basilica: “It is a wonder, O Wall, that thou hast not yet crumbled under the weight of so much written nonsense.” After coming across a wonderful mosaic of a chained dog bearing the legend Cave Canem (beware of the dog), we bought a replica to put on our front door at home to warn visitors about our fierce Jack Russells. What have the Romans ever done for us? What, indeed.

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T HE L AST WO RD

We hit the right note with singersongwriter and frontman of Just Jinjer, Ard Matthews › What are the top destinations on your ‘bucket list’ of places to which you’d like to travel?

› If you were stuck on a desert island, would you know how to make a fire and catch dinner?

seeing the effect it has on people when I play it live.

I still need to go to Bali or the Mentawai Islands. That’s a big one for me. Also, I haven’t done Italy or Spain yet—guess I have lots to look forward to.

Not really, but I’m sure my instinct would kick in and I’d make a plan, just like those before me did when they were in that situation. May have to catch up on some Bear Grylls episodes.

› You are in the process of producing your new solo album. Tell us a bit about that. And what other exciting ventures do Ard Matthews and Just Jinjer have on the cards?

› Which favourite places have you already ticked off? Thailand was amazing. I really enjoyed São Paulo, Brazil, and have been fortunate enough to see most of the States. I’ve also done most of Europe, Australia and the UK.

› What is the weirdest food or drink you have ever tried? In LA, my Mexican friend Art (short for “Arturo”!) offered me his family’s traditional dish, which is basically cow intestine. Not the greatest. I could hardly have thirds…

› Are you an adrenaline junkie? I’m a functional kitesurfer at best (laughs). I really enjoy the wind, as it syncs nicely with my sailing passion (I have a yachtmaster’s/ skipper’s licence). I’ve also been fortunate enough to have done plenty of shark dives in Mozambique and Aliwal Shoal, Durban.

› Are you a bush baby or a city slicker? Beach bum through and through.

› Braai or sushi? Tough one, but braai.

› What is the most memorable experience you have had with wildlife? I think swimming alongside a whale shark in Mozambique, and being surrounded by hundreds of dolphins in one of the biggest pods I’ve ever seen, let alone been in. Truly special.

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› What is your tried-and-tested signature dish you serve your friends? It’s quite embarrassing, because it’s everyone’s signature dish… But my spag bol has been known to bring a tear to a glass eye! (Probably too spicy.)

› If it were up to you, what should be done to the people running the rhino horn trade? I’m such a peace-loving person, but my blood really boils on this topic. I don’t think the death penalty for poachers would be comforting enough for me. I would like to see some tooth-for-tooth action being carried out—or horn for horn in this case.

› Camping or luxury lodge? It depends on the nature of the outing, but I’m not opposed to a bit of glamping.

› Pet hates in people? I don’t have too many, only because I have as many idiosyncrasies as most humans. I’m ashamed about the fact that it’s literally human nature how we love to see people fall or falter in order to feel better about ourselves. It all stems from massive insecurities with which we all battle daily, but it would be a nicer world if everyone could just be a little bit more lekker in that respect.

› Is there a particular song that stands out above the rest? For me, “What He Means” still stands out as a defining work, and it never gets old

The solo album has been in the works for quite some time, but is finally drawing to a close. It has become a mixed bag, ranging from piano ballads to house-inspired tracks. The new Just Jinjer album, Everything Since Then, is probably some of our finest work ever and is slowly starting to make its way onto radio—though it’s been slightly tougher for us these days, considering the sheer volume of music being thrown at radio. We’re confident our songs will prevail, and we continue to do what we believe in because it’s all heart-driven—the rest is up to fate. (Check our social pages @ardmatthews and @justjinjer for info.)

› Who was your inspiration growing up? Just combined musical greats such as The Beatles, Elvis, Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder. Today, I’m really inspired by Elon Musk. Don’t know the guy, so not sure how he is as a person, but I like what he’s doing to change the world for the better. My dream car is definitely a Tesla Model X.

› Do you still get a thrill out of touring and doing live concerts? It’s such a massive honour for me every time I’m allowed the privilege of walking onto a stage. I can proudly say I’ve never worked a day in my life. Recently, after a particularly bad round of golf, my friend decided to bust out the usual ol’ line: “A bad day of golf is better than a good day at the office.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I disagree. You should see my ‘office’…

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The Intrepid Explorer - 2nd Quarter 2016  

The Intrepid Explorer - 2nd Quarter 2016  

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