Posts Tagged With: Accomodation

our Africa

WIN! a two night stay for a family of four at beautiful Ripple Hill Hotel, in Patensie, on the edge of the stunning Baviaans Kloof.  Baviaans & Gamtoos Valley is in the 2nd Wonder of our World, within the ‘World of 7 Wonders’ in the Cacadu-district of the Eastern Cape.

To Enter – read the article & at the end of the article, in the comments section, leave your answer to this question: who told us stories of The Kloof, healers & ‘water-myde’?

Competition closes on: 05/12/2013

The winner will be announced on: 06/12/2013

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Location:  165 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay.  Take the Baviaanskloof turn-off from the N2 towards Cape Town, travel past Hankey & Patensie straight into the Kloof. This is in the beaitiful Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Date Visited: 22- 24 November 2012 (Summer)

What we Drove: Our trusty Landrover Defender 90-series.

Where we Stayed: On the Friday night we stayed at The Meadows Farmhouse & at The Milk House, right next door.  On Saturday night we stayed at  ‘Twee Waters‘ right at the mouth of Baviaans Kloof, cooking our own supper on an open fire.  Both spots can be recommended for a very comfortable stay.

What we did: We took the opportunity to explore not only Baviaans Kloof, but also the Gamtoos.  We had supper at The Milk House & Breakfast at Tolbos in Hankey.  We visited the Kouga Dam & drove deep into Baviaans Kloof, swimming at Rooi Wal as Noel Isaacs shared stories of the people of the Kloof.

Recommendation: This is our Africa.  Our Wilderness.  A world which, if you haven’t visited it, will haunt you until you do.  It is a World Heritage Site & rightly so.  It is filled with natural beauty, deep history & amazing stories.  You can’t visit South Africa & not visit the Gamtoos & Baviaans Kloof.  It would be like visiting Paris & not going to see the Eiffel Tower.  Being a South African & not visiting this area would be like being Russian & not drinking Vodka.  It is unimaginable.

Website: Baviaans Kloof & Travel Cacadu

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This is our Africa.

A world rich in diversity & deep in connection.

Beautiful.

Stunning.

Breath taking.

For the Traveling Tribe, this weekend was perfect.

Perfect timing.

Perfect conclusion to our travels of the Eastern Cape & specifically the Cacadu-region, before we head out on our Asian Adventure.

It is an easy drive from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay to Hankey.

Not even a stones throw.

We left the little wooden house on the not so little hill at about 16h00 & arrived at our destination well before 17h00.

At The Meadows Farmhouse a friendly welcome awaited us.

You could spend a weekend here.  A week even.  The house is spacious.  Beautifully renovated.  Stylishly furnished.  The kids took the loft-area, affording myself & Zuko privacy down stairs.  There is a well fitted kitchen, dining room, lounge & enough TV’s to meet everyone’s needs at the same time.

Next door is The Milk House.  An old Milk House turned into a pub.  A family place.  After settling in & washing off the week’s worries, we amble over to the stunning gardens.  Andre Pearson welcome us.  We walk the massive fruit trees.  The children pick Avocados & Custard Apples.  Pippin picks some roses from one of the hundreds of well kept rose bushes.  We talk to locals who are eager to tell stories & get to know us.  Everyone is friendly.  Warm.  Open.  In Hankey you’re bound to bump into a ‘Fereira’.  We talk to a few of them.  Supper is stunning.  You can drive to The Milk House for Sunday Lunch & be back in time for the Sunday evening movie.  You’ll get immense value for money & an atmosphere money cannot buy.  The evening is perfect.  After supper we talk to a girl visiting from Holland.  To a coulke who’ve just returned from Ireland.  We laugh with a farmer about his Yorkshire Terrier’s silliness.  We listen to the amazing story of how Andre & his family came to be in Hankey.

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Saturday morning we wake up refreshed.  As if we’ve been on holiday for a bit.

We find breakfast at Tolbos.

Wow!  What a breakfast.  For the same price you’ll be able to feed a fairy from a city franchise, this restaurant offers a monster meal, friendly service & very tasty food.  Maybe Sunday should be breakfast at Tolbos & lunch at The Milk House, although, after brekafast at Tolbos you wouldn’t need lunch or supper.

At Tolbos we meet a crew of Bikers out on a Saturday morning run.  We bump into family.  Hendrien & her son Dewald.  We breakfast together.  We laugh & tell stories about where our lives are now & where our lives are heading.  Sophia plays with Maddi in the play area.  The waitresses bring scrumptious food to our table.

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At around ten, Sizwe from Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency arrives.

He is taking us to Kouga Dam.  We’ve seen Dams before, but not in the way Sizwe plans to let us see this one.

Sizwe is from Kwa-Zulu Natal.  He is a conservationist & a conversationalist.  Extremely knowledgeable, but not in the obnoxious flaunting way.  Helpful.  Warm.  Concerned about our comfort.  Humble.  A good man to have in charge of Baviaans Kloof.

We drive to the Dam where we are met by Vuyani Dlomo.   He is the man looking after the Dam.  A former Rugby player who entertained many as he ran onto the field for Eastern Province, the Freestate & the Griekwas.  More friendliness.  More knowledge.  We stand in the spray of an overflowing Kouga Dam as Sizwe introduces us to everyone.  Noel Isaacs is also present.  I’ll tell you about him later.

Vuyani talks about the origin of the Dam.  How it is the lifeline of the agricultural activity in the Gamtoos.  Citrus world.  Sending Oranges & Naartjies to Europe, Asia & beyond.

Then we’re taken into the heart of the Dam.  Into the tunnels leading deep into the wall.

There, in a dark corner we bump into ‘Oom Piet’.  I never knew Dams were such complicated structures.  ‘Oom Piet’ tells us how he is measuring movement of the dam wall.  Checking vibration, wind in the tunnels, pressure, flow & a myriad other things.  There are possible plans to raise the dam wall.  The immense body of water contained by it, growing to grow food & opportunity.

We exit the tunnels half-way up the wall.  Vuyani takes us under the overflow of the dam.  My heart pounding.  The kids laughing as the water becomes a shower, halfway along the walkway.  On the other side,  soaked, but happy, Vuyani explains about the flow, the checks & balances.  The floodgates.  the adults return to the other side while Vuyani takes the kids back along the wall, under the overflow again.

1840 steps we did.  Up and down the wall.  Along the front of the wall.  Through the deepest crevices of this immense structure.

An experience which cannot be described.

Surprised.

That is what we are with every track we leave on African soil.

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The Landy finds her way to ‘Twee Waters‘ where we’ll rest for the evening.

The key is left on the large ‘stoep’.

We each find a bedroom.

We wash up, or rather dry out after the Dam experience.

Theunsie lights a fire.

We talk.

We laugh.

We chew on our experience.

Here too is a beautiful garden.

Comfortable rooms.

Television.

Well fitted kitchen & every amenity you might need.

As the sun sets a Bakkie comes driving down the long dirt road.  It is Gerhard & Kenau.  To our surprise, more family.  Gerhard worked for my grandfather, many decades ago at the Patensie Tabaco Co-op.  He tells stories of my mother & aunts who were at school with him.  Kenau tells stories of when Zuko was a little girl & came to play on their farm.  We talk of our lives.  Of time’s certain flow.  Of reasons & motivations.  We express gratitude & the hope that somehow, in all of this life, we will leave something beautiful behind.

Supper is grilled on the open fire.

Coffee is served on the ‘stoep’.

Sleep is embraced.

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Sunday morning is welcomed by the call of Baboons high up in the mountains.

Breakfast is quick.

We’re off into the Kloof.

This morning Sizwe brought Duma along.

More friendly people.

People who love the Eastern Cape.

Baviaans Kloof is an immense bit of wilderness.

The Tribe has been there before.

The kids were still small.

Raymond & Karien Staines shared it with us.

We spend a little bit of time at the reception, viewing camping grounds.

Then we start the drive.

I’m relieved we’re in the Landy.

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You can’t take a soft city car on these roads.

Baviaans Kloof is breathtaking.

You need a few days to really experience it.

Today we’re just getting a reminder.

A taste.

Something to call us back to our Africa.

Along the way we stop at different viewing points.

Every now & then Sizwe & Duma’s vehicle stops.  One of them gets out.  Then they pick up a plastic bag or a random wrapper left behind by someone who does not understand what this world is about.

At the Wolrd Heritage Site Interprative Centre we meet up with Noel Isaacs again.

He explains to us why this is a world heritage site.

He tells us of the communities who live in the Kloof.

Of how he grew up at Colseke.

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He talks about Soutpan.

About the healing plants of the Kloof.

About the healers who traveled through the kloof, from one side to the other, healing serious diseases with nothing more than a branch of this & a root of that.

We travel further.

Stop at a Bushman Cave.

Noel shows us the mark of ownership of a people who lived here long before ships came from Portugal or Warriors came from the north.

He talks with respect about how they did not destroy, but took only what was needed.

He talks with sadness about how they were destroyed.

Maybe we do not sow what we reap?

We traverse ancient passes built by men who were braver & bolder than engineers with fancy equipment & earth-moving machines.

We spot antelope.

Big game.

The Baviaans Kloof is home to the largest leopard population in South Africa.

Late afternoon we arrive at Rooi Wal.

The river’s water is cool.

We swim.

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We lunch.

We take a moment to breathe Baviaans in the shade of an old Yellow Wood.

Noel starts telling us the stories of the Kloof.

Of Oom Schalk Swarts, the healer.

Of the ‘tokelossie’ a little evil man who pestered the people.

In all his stories he reminds me that we cannot move away from our troubles.  They follow us.  And that sometimes it is good to face our demons.  And the good things, they are worth being brave about.

Noel’s eyes glisten as he speaks of miraculous healing.

Of inexplicable experiences.

Of ‘water-myde’ (Mermaids) & little men with flat heads tormenting a little boy.

It is evening when we say our goodbyes at the entrance to the controlled area.

We thank Sizwe for his hospitality & kindness.

We thank Noel for his companionship & stories.

They encourage us to take the spirit of Africa to Asia.

The beauty of it.

The diversity.

The immensity.

And the kindness.

As we drive home we resolve, one of the 1st things we’ll do, once we’re back from Asia, is load a Landy & spend a week listening to the heart beat of our Africa.

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Life Measured in Moments

As the Traveling Tribe prepares for our immense adventure exploring Asia & the Far East, we’re inviting some of our friends to keep on doing travel in the Eastern Cape, South Africa & Africa, making contributions as honorary Tribe-members, so that you can now get information on South African travel, as well as our explore of unseen Asia, right here in one place.

In this article Xandre van der Berg & her husband Danie joins our Tribe, as they take a trip on the MSC Opera, cruising our stunning Oceans.

Website for more Informationwww.MSCcruises.co.za 

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“Life should be measured in moments, not minutes”

This statement not only captures the introduction to the MSC Opera’s brochure, but lingered in my mind – capturing my thoughts,  forcing me to slow down, re-measuring my  two days spent, as a guest on the luxury vessel.

It was in these moments, that somewhere between embarking in Cape Town, and disembarking in Port Elizabeth,  I was transformed from stepping on as a guest, to leaving as a friend.

Luxurious she is, by all measures and opinions.

But beneath all the glamour and glitz, I found a village on the MSC Opera.  A village which invites everyone to become one with their fantasy world.  Embracing’s differences, opening opportunities to explore and enjoy their finest moments.

Moments to reflect on life are ample, as you cruise along –creating the space I needed to reconnect and focus.

When you are surrounded by miles and miles of gentle waves, you can only focus on the eminent.

The now.

The being of your soul.

I will not be able to describe the swell of the ocean, the gentle rocking when you lie down, the ever moving horizon and the realization that this is it.

You are captured in another world.

A world beyond time.

An escape.

And it is only then, realizing that you have escaped from reality, that you start looking around, taking the surroundings in, and start to blend with this new world.

MSC has explored the seas for over 300 years.  With 450 vessels under their wing, they have mastered her – the ocean.

Their expertise, passion and professionalism are evident in everything they do.

Tina joined the family from the Philippines, seeing to all my needs in my room, Miguel came from Peru, serving our coffee with dedication, Annia from Cuba waiting at the spa and Rinthing from India, eager to be of assistance.

The South African cruises developed at such a rapid pace, that they had to include South Africans crew members.  With 98% or the passengers on South African cruises being from South Africa, this is truly a home from home.

The MSC Opera, a masterpiece on the seas, lives up to her name – a classy, grand lady, a world class resort.  Five star cuisines, 9 bars, shows, lounges, a theater, shops, casino, disco, pools, spa baths and fitness equipment.

Don’t imagine for a moment that a cruise on the MSC Opera is only for adults.

This is an amazing adventure for children as well.  Some cruises end up with 40% of passengers below the age of 18.

Pools, Play areas, Discos, movies, Virtual game rooms, outside deck games & indoor activities, are all utilized, under the watchful eyes of a very capable crew component.  Children are issued with security bracelets the moment they become part of the cruises – assuring that they can be traced at all times.

Do not be fooled by the luxury and splendor of this adventure – this is truly a South African Holiday – affordable for everyone.

While fares published would want you to reach for your saving account number – actual fares are mind blowing.

The MSC family, want everyone to be able to enjoy and share what they have captured.  Specials and promotions available allow us all to be part of their dream world.

Keeping in mind that all meals and most of the entertainment is part of the package, you will be able to freely enjoy the theater and all shows brought to you, from side splitting comedy to Italian Opera.

For the more serious ‘gastronomix’ amongst us, you will have opulent opportunities to experience different menus, steaming hot pizza from the oven – Italian pasta, homemade ice cream and the finest pastries.

Their promotion packages covers everything you could imagine.  For newlyweds, family, single travelers, anniversaries and special celebrations – they have it all covered.

And although I joined the cruise along the South African Coast – this is not where it stops.

Take you imagination on a wild cruise, and join them to explore the coral reefs, exotic landscape and cultures of the Southern African coast and islands.

Always wanted to explore the Portuguese Islands?

Madagascar?

The Island of True contrasts – Reunion?

Mauritius and Namibia?

This is the opportunity – join the MSC family and explore alongside them. They will spoil you with beach braais while you discover the hidden secrets of a Portuguese Island, snorkeling.

They will show you the best places to shop in the Cosmopolitan Maputo and invite you to Inhambane, one of the oldest settlements in Southern Africa.

Join them and explore the active volcano and black sandy beaches of Reunion.  Extend the adventure to the home of legendary figures like Captain Kidd or stop at the beautiful turquoise waters of Mauritius.

Traveling with the MSC Cruises, give wings to your wildest dreams.

For us anyway.

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The silent howl of Heterogeneity (mini vs maxi Day 1)

(In South Africa September is ‘Tourism Month’.  As part of the launch, Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency invited me to join them on a four day promotion, as their guest, discovering some more of this adventure province.)

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The holler of contrast – this is what we experienced on our first day of exploring this adventure province with Eastern Cape Tourism.

We woke up at Meander Inn to the bustling sounds an smells of early morning at an old fashioned Inn, where travelers become friends as they trade and buy and promote and ply.

Unbeknownst to us, the day held excitement & solitude.

I’m without my Tribe on this trip.  They’ve graciously allowed me to head out & explore this little bit of Eastern Cape.  Perhaps we’ll be fortunate enough to come & explore together, the gems I might find along the way.

Uzi & Esti are my travel companions.

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Uzi works as internal auditor for the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency.

Esti, represents St Francis Bay Tourism.

After fueling the VW Amarok, we head out of East London, towards Durban.

We’re not heading to Durban.

We’re just traveling in that directions to Areena River Resort & later to Prana Lodge in Cintsa East.

At Areena we’re met by Jarod who takes us Quad Biking on the resort’s reserve.

This is a family resort with chalets, camping & loads of activities on the river’s edge.  Other than quad biking, they also offer zip-lining, canoeing,  boating, walks, paintball – a lot of stuff my little Tribe would love.

Jarod takes us through the motions of how to operate the Quad Bikes.

We’re joined by a family from Johannesburg.

Their kids scream & laugh as we swoop up the hills & down the valleys.

They’re mesmerised as we meet Abby, the resort’s only male Giraffe.

What an experience.

Abby is an 8 year old fully grown Giraffe.

He was rescued & hand-reared.

He comes to us, as if we are old friends, smelling us, reaching down with his long neck to solicit a little bit of affection.

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This is an African Experience.

Not the fake kind, so often orchestrated for international tourists.

An authentic one.

The Africa we live & have come to expect.

The Africa we love.

We spend two hours exploring Areena River Resorts Hills & Valleys.

From our open Quad Bikes we see Zebra, Blesbuck, Wildebeest & an assortment of smaller game.  We even get a glimpse of their 7 other Giraffe,  gracefully picking the softest leaves from tree tops.

Then we do lunch at the resort’s restaurant, before heading to Prana Lodge.

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It is a quick drive to Prana Lodge, in the VW Amarok.

Here we are met by this 5-star Lodge’s very friendly reception staff.

Three beautiful ladies.

One Dutch.

One Zulu.

One Xhosa.

This is Africa too.

She is exciting & diverse.

Sophisticated & adventurous.

Prana brings us silence.

Calm.

Rest.

The rooms are luxurious & oppulent.

After refreshing & spending an hour reading, I head to the Lodge’s Treatment centre where I am met by Nom from Thailand.

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Prana Lodge offers a comprehensive Thai Treatment Centre.

People coming from far & wide, to rejuvinate, reconnect,  relax & listen.

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While Nom treats me to a massage,  my body relaxes & my mind empties of concern.

I think of Zuko, who should be here with me.

Of the beautiful life we share.

Of the stunning adventure which is our life.

Of new chapters, persistent hope, intimacy, relationship & affection.

Supper is a slow affair.

We’re joined by Gail, the owner of the Lodge.

We hear of her family.

Of a lifetime of holidays spent on the property.

Of children raised & finally getting away from Johannesburg to create the sanctuary they’ve always dreamed of.

The food is exquisite.

Tasty.

Beautifuly presented.

Prana Lodge receives day visitors, overnight guests,  small executive conferencing groups.

Their 43 staff always ready to cater to the needs of a handful of guests.

I would imagine, a couple could spend a weekend here & go home reconnected.

A stressed out businesses-person could come here & go home rejuvinated.

With new focus.

New hope.

New ideas.

We have to little opportunity to think, consider, read, in a very fast-paced, high-demand world.

Prana Lodge certainly offers the perfect environment for someone who is hoping to refresh & reach again.

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Decor & furnishings are understated, yet oppulent.

Service is calming, yet perfect.

Food is couture,  yet scrumptious.

The beach a minute’s walk away.

The silence & solitude stunning.

After supper I find my room turned down, my bed welcoming.

And rest engulfs me.

My soul tasting rejuvenation,  after but a moment.

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The Republic of Swellendam

Congratulations to all our winners, who will be traveling to Swellendam.

To see who won & where they’ll be staying, click HERE for details.

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Location: 535 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, on the N2 in the direction of Cape Town, just past Heidelberg.

Date Visited: 19 – 28 July 2013 (Winter)

Where we Stayed: Stonehill River Lodge

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Other Great Accommodation Options:

Wildebraam Berry Estate

Arumvale Country House

Roosje van de Kaap Herberg

Braeside Guesthouse

Barrydale Karoo Hotel

What we Drove: Chrysler Grand Voyager, complements of Maritime Motors – this is the most comfortable family vehicle the Tribe has ever traveled in, it is extremely spacious, handles easily & has all the luxuries you could dream of, including climate control, heated seats, TV-screens, DVD-player & automated doors.

What we did:  Swellendam & surrounds offer an awesome range of activities & experiences.  The Museums are beautiful.  The town is the 4th oldest town in South Africa, you can imagine how much history is nestled in this bit of world.  Here’s what we did over the few days we were there.  Every one of our experiences were amazing.  Horse Riding with Stephanie at Two Feathers Horse Trails was a stunning highlight.  Zuko loved crossing the Breede River by Ferrie at Malagas.  Pippin & Sophia fell in love with the Faerie Sanctuary.  I loved Barrydale & Warmwaterberg Hot-Springs.  We’re sure you’re going to find the perfect mix of experiences to make your visit to Swellendam exquisite.

Visited the Sulina Faerie Sanctuary in Swellendam

Went Horse Riding at Two Feathers Horse Trails in Swellendam

Crossed the Breede River by Pontoon at Malagas

Spent a day in Suurbraak & Barrydale.

Spent an afternoon at Warmwaterberg Spa on the other side of Barrydale.

Went Mountain Biking in Stonehill River Lodge‘s reserve.

Visited Cape Agulhas.

Visited the Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp.

Recommendation: The Swellendam area is beautiful.  Once you’ve chosen suitable accommodation you won’t struggle to find the perfect mix of activities.  There are loads of little art shops, organic food shops & restaurants to browse & enjoy.  The area has two very beautiful nature reserves in close proximity: Bontebok National Park & Marloth Nature Reserve.  Distance wise its a bit far to travel for just a 2 night weekend, but if you plan a 3-night stay, maybe leaving Thursday or only returning on Monday, it could be a perfect break.  The ten days we spent in the area was amazing, as we were able to do enough exploring without rushing anything.  The Tribe loved the experience.  We’ll definitely be back, we know we haven’t seen or tasted everything.

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Mountain Zebra National Park

CONGRATULATIONS  to Natalia Venter on winning a two nights stay for a family of four (2 adults + 2 children), including accommodation, a game drive and guided walk,  to the total value of R3 400.00 at the Mountain Zebra National Park.

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Location:  305 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay & 12 kilometers from Cradock on the road between Cradock & Graaff Reinette, in the beautiful Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Date Visited: 16 – 18 November 2012 (Summer)

What we Drove: The Jeep Cherokee, complements of Maritime Motors .

Where we Stayed: The main camp, in a two bedroom chalet.  Mountain Zebra National Park also offers camping & mountain cottages, as well as a luxury six sleeper guest-house.

What we did: We took the opportunity to just be together as we cooked, walked, watched game, swam in the Park’s beautiful swimming pool and saw magnificent game.

Recommendation: This is an amazing and very affordable weekend for a family who wants to do something wonderfull.  Instead of going on a guided game drive and walk, as much fun could be had as you self-drive through the park.  The roads are in exceptional condition.  The restaurant & shop stocks whatever you forget to take along.

Website: Mountain Zebra National Park

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Friday afternoon.

We’ve become accustomed to traveling this year.

Weekend road trips.

Breathtaking moments shared.

This was our twenty-second one in less than ten months.

‘The year seems full & meaningful, despite what challenges may have presented themselves’, Zuko speaks the thoughts filling her mind and heart as we hit the open road, driving past the Port of Nqura.

The Jeep Cherokee’s 2.8 liter diesel engine is inaudible.

The climate control keeps the summer afternoon’s heat outside.

The kids laugh & talk, filled to the brim with excitement.

‘We’ve seen so much.  Done so much.  It feels like we’ve had two years since Christmas.’

Zuko smiles.

I can see how her mind looks at pictures of the places we’ve been & the things we’ve done.

Holding up a snapshot of our family at Tsitsikamma in front of the guesthouse at The Garden Route National Park.

Little wrinkles forming at the corners of her mouth as she looks at us horse riding at Addo Elephant National Park and sliding down the waterfal at Bergrivier.

‘What was your favorite trip?’ she asks the kids, including them & me in her reliving of our experiences.

‘I loved Lalibela‘, Theunsie is quick to answer.

‘The surfing trip in Jeffreys Bay‘, Wilhelmina is quick on his heels.

‘No, picking those humungous apples’, she changes her mind.  ‘Where was that?’

Grootnek in the Langkloof,’ I help her find the name.

‘Grootnek!  That was fun.’

‘It was.  Taking the Jeep Wrangler up into the mountains was exciting.’ Theunsie remembers.

‘Sophia?  Which was your favorite trip,’ Zuko opens the door for one more experience to flood back into our hearts.

‘I’m thinking.  I loved them all,’ she quips.  ‘My favorite was Die Lapa, with the horses & the little cowboy village.  Yes.  If I must choose that was definitely my favorite.’

We talk about our ten day trip exploring the Blue Crane Route.

The stunning walk to the waterfall.

The snow.

‘O, going snow hunting was fantastic!’ Wilhelmina laughs.

Then we talk about Somerset East.

The friends who joined us as we shared the ‘Biltong Festival’ and decided to find snow on the spur of the moment.

A stop at the Nanaga Farm Stall interrupts our conversation.

We get some biltong, droë wors, water & nuts.

As I point the Jeep Cherokee towards Cradock, engaging the cruise control, Zuko takes out another snapshot.

‘I loved Nieu Bethesda‘, she says.

‘And Graaff Reinet.’

What an amazing year.

Filled with tasty experiences.

And then we are at the entrance to the Mountain Zebra National Park.

Originally started, in order to conserve the Mountain Zebra.

Now home to a variety of game on 28 000 hectares of conservation land.

Every time we get to spend time at one of our South African National Parks, I am impressed by the ammount of time & energy & resources we invest in conservation.

And how possible it is for South Africans & International tourists alike, to enjoy the beauty of Africa.

Friday night we settle into our very comfortable chalet.

We light a fire.

The conversation keeps on drifting back to our year’s travels.

Fond memories were made.

This we cherish as more memories take shape.

Saturday morning we meet Richard.

He is our ranger.

We go out on an early morning game drive.

We see lots of game.

A short walk to an ancient cave with Koi-San Paintings.

Their way of claiming this ancient land as their own, long after they’ve been driven into a lonely existence.

Lunch is followed by an afternoon at the swimming pool.

As the sun sets a fire comes to life again.

Black Backed Jackal the musicians who entertain is late into the night.

As I drift off to sleep with little Maddi lying on my chest, I hide some new memories in the crevices of my being.

I love it when we cook together.

We should do more trips where we cook our own food, I think, as dreams of beauty & wonder overwhelm me.

Sunday morning we head out on foot.

Richard is with us again.

This time he shows us the plants.

Excitedly talking about their medicinal value.

The old wives’ tales believed.

He shows us the little five.

Hidden amongst leaves & branches.

He’ll tell you about it as well, when you go and visit.

When the sun is high, our walk ends at the Park’s cool blue swimming pool.

We play.

We laugh.

We cook together.

And then we’re off.

The Jeep Cherokee comfortably taking our luggage and our dreams on a slow cruise through breathtaking Karoo.

The Cherokee is quiet.

As we each touch a last bit.

We’ll travel again, we agree, as we unload travel bags.

We’ll travel more.

Together.

If it be our gift.

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Lalibela Too

Congratulations to Penny Morris!  She won a two nights & three days stay,  enjoying Lalibela’s beauty, valued at R9000.00
enabling her to take 2 adults & 2 children on an awesome adventure.

The Tribe hopes you will create amazing memories.

________________________________________________________________________

Location:  90 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay on the N2 towards Grahamstown.

Date Visited: 12 – 14 October 2012 (Summer)

What we Drove: The Chrysler Grand Voyager, complements of Maritime Motors .

Where we Stayed: Mark’s Camp, one of the three four-star lodges in the Game Reserve, this one specifically designed with families and children in mind.

What we did: We had scrumptious food, awesome game viewing from open vehicles with knowledgeable guides & fantastic African entertainment alongside great conversation and time together.  This time round we had the opportunity to meet the team behind the scenes & get a better feel of what motivates them, even getting some golden nuggets about life & business.

Recommendation: This is an amazing African weekend for a family who wants to do something very special.  The proximity to Nelson Mandela Bay and the malaria free environment makes it especially wonderful when traveling with children.  Lalibela comes highly recommended.

Website: Lalibela Game Reserve

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We’ve been to Lalibela before.

We’ve experienced the luxury accommodation.

The exquisite safari cuisine.

The exceptional service.

The knowledgeable rangers.

The very helpful staff.

This time we experienced all of that along with the opportunity to get to know some of the people who created this & keeps it growing.

This time we made our way to Lalibela in the extremely comfortable Chrysler Grand Voyager.

As you get into this vehicle it is very evident that the interior was designed by Boeing.

Attention to detail, comfort & space is overwhelming.

It is a family vehicle.

The Tribe with our luggage & all of Maddi’s paraphernalia fitted into this vehicle with space to spare.

The media system, climate control & safety features are something we’ve not experienced.

The intuitive cruise control makes the 90 kilometer drive seem like a moment.

At reception we are welcomed by Marimba players & Xhosa singers serving high tea.

At Mark’s Camp, Lalibela’s Lodge, specifically geared towards families beautifully appointed rooms & personal service await.

Lalibela can accommodate 120 guests between its three lodges.

They employ 60 staff members.

You can imagine how personal & exceptional the service is.

Friday night we cook with Nomakaya & Evelyn.

Evelyn has just joined the team at Lalibela.

Nomakaya has been there for eight years.

While the kids peel vegetables & stir various dishes slowly frying in butter, Nomakaya tells us of her journey.

How she left for University after completing school.

How she did not have enough money to complete her studies.

How she found employment close to home.

Starting in the kitchen, washing dishes.

Soon making salads & learning the skill of preparing exceptional food.

The past four years she has been running the kitchen at Mark’s Camp.

Filling orders.

Creating menus.

Impressed with her own development at the hand of Linda, Lalibela’s Food & Beverage Manager.

Saturday evening we’re in for a surprise.

We’re out on a game drive.

The vehicle makes a stop at a huge ‘bush’ of indigenous trees.

Ranger Dave walks us into a fairy tale land.

Lanterns lighting our way to huge fires and magnificent food.

There we get to spend time with Linda.

She tells us of how she came from Port Elizabeth, where she was a lecturer, to Lalibela, where she discovered the joy of working with a team of ladies, collectively discovering the joy of creating tasty meals for travelers from every part of the world.

Lalibela is an exporter in many ways.

Without processing or packaging this game reserve takes South Africa to the world as foreign tourists come to be on safari.

Bringing valuable foreign currency to our shores.

And positive reputation.

At the ‘Bush Boma’, in the light of friendly lanterns we talk to a couple from England.

It is their first time at Lalibela.

They are blown away.

By the experience.

By South Africa.

They are resolved to come again.

A couple from Germany joins the conversation.

They’ve been to Africa before.

They’ve never tasted Africa as they’re tasting it tonight.

It is an experience about which they will talk for decades to come.

They take pictures as the Xhosa dancers entertain us.

Over supper an Irish couple speak of the troop of elephant they encountered.

About the pride of Lion they watched.

About the hippopotamuses & the giraffe.

They cannot believe how close they came to the animals.

How much of them they could experience.

Every single expectation has been exceeded.

‘Conservation is about much more than the animals,’ explained Vernon Wait, one of the owners, on Saturday afternoon as we spent some time at one of the swimming pools.

‘Conservation is about conserving & creating a livelihood.  It is about conserving a way of life.  It is about affecting our world.  Positively.’

Lalibela was recently the victim of Rhino poachers.

‘You must understand, we tend these animals.  We look after them.  We know when they are ill or expecting.  When one of them is hurt, we are hurt.  It is like losing a child.’ Vernon explains .

Yet they continue.

Undeterred.

Evil will always be there.

In this world.

Trying to prevent us.

Discourage us.

Steal our hope.

The best way to defeat it is by forging ahead.

Always hopeful that our efforts would be more.

Earlier I went out Cheetah-tracking with Kelly, Lalibela’s Head Ranger.

A girl in a man’s world.

Heading up a team of male rangers.

Planning the wildlife management.

Patrol routes.

Care for patrons.

We track a female Cheetah who is new to the reserve.

She’s recently had cubs.

Kelly wants to check & make sure the cubs are healthy & well.

This is what a reserve like Lalibela does.

They make sure the conditions are optimal for wildlife to flourish.

As naturally as possible.

In a world in which urban areas expand relentlessly.

‘Tourism is our best product,’ explains Rick van Zyl, the founder of Lalibela over Sunday morning coffee.

We drove to Tree Tops, another exceptional camp to meet with Rick.

We wanted to hear his story.

Of how they came from the Merryman Hotel to Lalibela.

Of this place for which the bees have foretold greatness.

I am reminded that no business appears in a moment.

It takes years, decades even, to build a successful business.

Rick & his family worked since the early 1908’s before they had enough to purchase a piece of land which would be the seed of Lalibela.

Then they worked some more.

Often seeing it through, even if it seems it just cannot continue.

‘You need people around you,’ Rick explains.  ‘I had built a network of relationships over thirty years.  And you need a bit of luck.  Someone who would believe in you.  That is the only way.  And persistence.  And resilience.  And the willingness to work and work and work some more.’

So often we listen to the stories of successful entrepreneurs & we think it was a stroke of luck or a moment of genius & they had they cake they could eat.

That is a lie.

It takes time.

Work.

Effort.

Energy.

Resilience.

To build a successful business.

It takes sacrifice as well.

‘We were fortunate in that there were quality boarding schools where our children could go,’ Rick says with a bit of reminiscence in his voice.  ‘That freed us up to work every minute of every day.’

I sip my coffee and wonder how much I will be willing to sacrifice.

For that illusive success.

Perhaps we need to decide on that before we embark on the journey.

‘The journey is everything,’ Rick remembers.

‘The journey is exciting & enjoyable.  You should savour it.  It is new & fresh & exhilarating.  The destination isn’t what life is about.  It is about how you got there.  Through all the challenges & obstacles & hope.’

The journey.

I am on it.

For that I am grateful.

Perhaps we should not fret so much?

Perhaps each road has its own destination & all we can do is travel?

Perhaps how we travel is what counts?

And so we load the Chrysler Voyager at Lalibela, saying goodbye to foreign tourists & dedicated tourism operators, and head home on a different route.

Via Salem & Kenton-on-Sea.

In Salem we see the graves of many children at the Methodist Church built in the mid 1800’s by optimistic British Settlers.

How sad our journey can be?

Marked by graves along the way.

Of children.

Of hopes.

Dreams.

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Nelson Mandela Bay – weekend 2

CONGRATULATIONS to Navadia Marnay & Lungile Mnukwa.  They each won a set of five x day passes (valued at R1000), complements of Kingfisher FM & Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.

The day pass gives you access to a whole range of activities & discounts.  It is a fun & affordable way to travel Nelson Mandela Bay.

The next winners will be announced on Friday 21/09/2012 on Kingfisher FM’s Big Breakfast.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

LOCATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It is 763 km east of Cape Town.

DATE VISITED: 7 & 8 September 2012 (Spring)

WHAT WE DROVE: A Jeep Grand Cherokee complements of Maritime Motors

WHAT WE DID: We went on a Township Tour on Friday afternoon & evening exploring the Red Location Precinct, Njoli Sqaure & Township life in general, meeting beautiful people along the way.  On Saturday we did the South End Museum Tour & then relaxed at The Willows Resort, enjoying their fabulous amenities for the rest of the weekend.

WHERE WE STAYED: The Willows Beach Resort

WHO GUIDED US: Craig Duffield from Mosaic Tourism

RECOMENDATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is the ultimate family destination.  This weekend was immensely interesting & with out a doubt I would recommend anyone to try and fit both activities into their itinerary.  For the township tour I would suggest utilizing an experienced guide who know the people & area.

WEBSITE: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

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This weekend was a weekend of contrasts.

It challenged us.

Made us think about who we are & where we are & what we do.

We were driving the very comfortable & very opulent Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Probably the most luxurious vehicle we’ve driven in a long-long time.

It’s powerful 3.6 Pentastar V6 engine smoothly accelerating everywhere.

The leather seats, climate control & cruise control with its ‘beyond imagination’-awareness, really being awe-inspiring.

We were staying at The Willows Beach Resort.

Right on the ocean.

The waves lulling you to sleep.

Becoming the rhythm as you wake up & drink coffee, surrounded by green lawns & well kept amenities.

More than comfortable family accommodation.

Private.

Inside the heart-beat of nature.

Open.

Staff always ready to answer your needs.

Fellow-guests friendly & happy.

Families.

Children enjoying the super-tube water-slide.

The putt-putt mini-golf.

The game center.

Relaxed lounging breakfasts at the warm restaurant.

Vervet Monkeys curiously watching from large green trees.

We were exploring history.

The drive to the tourism office, from where we took a bus to Port Elizabeth’s Main Train Station, was quick & comfortable.

The Willows is truly only a few minutes from the city.

An ideal spot, no matter what part of Nelson Mandela Bay you want to explore.

Then we took the train to New Brighton station.

New Brighton is our city’s oldest existing township.

Townships are part of our countries spacial history.

Predominantly inhabited by black people.

Supported by failing old infrastructure.

Set aside.

From the rest.

A reserve of sorts.

Where people have come to live & make a living & be.

Become, even.

Saturday we saw a glimpse of our country’s ‘relocation’-history.

Through the South End Museum.

Families ripped to pieces.

Away from friends.

Some times even away from relatives.

From community.

Losing.

All the way.

Not only them.

Everyone.

As we lose community.

Connection.

Coming to believe that we are different.

Which we aren’t.

For we all value the same things.

Relationship.

Hope.

Peace.

Growth.

Progress.

As we crossed the pedestrian bridge from the New Brighton Station to the Red Location precinct, our guide shoved white people to one side.

Blacks to another.

You must be separate.

And we walk on the one side of a barrier.

The white side.

As it was.

Before 1994.

Apartheid is a sad part of our history.

Even sadder than the concentration camps of the English War (1899 – 1902).

For the ones who were set aside.

Set aside.

Like a son who saw his father beating his mother.

To grow up.

To beat his wife.

So that his son & grandson could do it again.

That is probably the greatest grace & gift of Tata Nelson Mandela & the African National Congress.

Grace.

To be more.

To be different.

To embrace.

Include.

To a new future.

A new future is, however, not created in a moment.

18 years.

Since 1994.

A moment.

In comparison to almost a century.

Preceded by centuries.

On Friday evening we stop at Lafa & Mifa’s.

Its a butchery.

With a dining area & open fires.

You buy your meat at the butchery.

Then come to the dining area & cook it on the open fire.

A ‘braai’ (almost like ‘buy’, just with an ‘r’ in there) we call it.

All of us.

A large sign declares: ‘anytime is braai time’.

We are the same.

South Africans.

We love cooking outside on an open fire.

We love being together.

And so we talk.

To locals who come there regularly.

To families who love the community.

To people walking the streets.

Hoping the effort of fathers & grandfathers weren’t in vain.

And as we drive back in the luxury of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, to the comfort of The Willows Beach Resort, I wonder how this spacial heritage could be overcome.

For amidst the hardship of relocation a vibrant, energetic culture has come to life.

Perhaps it has always been there.

Perhaps it just did not die.

Despite everything.

Wasn’t quenched.

A beautiful resilience.

Hairdressers on the side of the street.

Mamma’s baking roosterkoek (bread baked on the open fire) for those who pass by on the way to work or home.

Children playing.

Herbs & chicken for sale.

Little bags of sweets.

Mini-bus taxi’s flying up and down the street.

Large municipal buses making their way in the late afternoon to homes, where people live.

Still set aside.

Its been decades.

The poverty of loss, more visible than ever.

As we savor that first morning coffee on Sunday morning, at The Willows, our weekend-neighbor walks over.

Sidwell.

He lives in Motherwell.

With his family.

His father’s family relocated there.

Decades ago.

We talk of life.

His children.

Mine.

We talk of a new future.

A hope.

Our children play.

Run off together to the water-slide.

Unaware that once we were separated.

We hope.

And as we say our goodbyes we agree that we need to intentionally move beyond the invisible boundaries created by a dark meaningless past.

On our behalf.

Without our consent.

And we agree that we are the same.

We desire freedom.

Equality.

Opportunity.

For our children.

Peace.

And I admit that I will need to intentionally redress the works of a previous generations hands.

For nothing changes by itself.

This is what travel does.

It challenges us.

And we become.

 

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Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 10

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Day 10.

The last day.

The day I like least of any journey.

A journey that does not end.

An explore which is infinite.

That is what my heart desires.

It is our 3rd day at ‘Die Lapa‘.

We arrived on day 8 of our journey, exploring the Blue Crane Tourism Route.

We’d seen and tasted so much.

PJ & Lynette and Hockley Cottages, Cranemere & the Palmers.  Marianne, the first internationally acclaimed author we’d meet.  PJ, the first exporter.  All on day 1.

Chris Wilken, Lincoln & the immense work of the Blue Crane Development Agency.

Stephan, Vega, Somerset House & Janet.

Stunning Janet.

The second renowned author of a recipe book whom we met on day 2.

Alan & Annabelle Hobson.  Hobson’s Choice Deli.  The Angler & Antelope. Karoo Flyfishing, with intricately made ‘flies’, not ‘lures’.

My & Theunsie’s first fly-fishing catch.

Day 3.

Day 4 filled with Glen Avon & Avon Heights & that 80 meter waterfall.

With tough pioneers & history & nature.

Esther & her nursery and tea-garden and guesthouse.

Liza & Kokskraal & empowerment rooted in love.

The 5th day of our journey well spent on meeting more beautiful people.

The 6th day of our explore spent on visiting places that carry our names.

‘Theuns se Winkel’.

KuZuko Lodge‘.

Seeing ourselves in them.

Or something of ourselves.

Day 7: a bit more of Kuzuko Lodge, amazing big-5 game, stunning food and then Dafre & Natie & Mountain View Inn.

A family larger than our own.

A feast.

An instant friendship.

Hearts connecting.

Laughter.

Understanding.

Loss shared.

Hope expressed.

Sense made.

On day 8 we arrived at ‘Die Lapa‘.

The last leg of our 10-day explore.

But first we discovered Walter Battis.

Geritwyn.

Ros Turner.

Festah & Die Kaia.

We discover the resilience of the human soul.

Its unseen & unrecognized radiance.

We had the entire day 9, enjoying the adventures of this eccentric world.

Jannie & Wilna’s little village created from Karoo dust, rock & wild imagination.

Today we say goodbyes.

Not only to Jannie & Wilna & Wilmarie.

We say goodbye to this experience.

A memory.

A moment, never to be forgotten.

Wilna serves a hot breakfast.

Jannie takes us to see the Honeymoon House, this romantic soul’s expression of the beauty of shared solitude.

The children of our Tribe enjoy the exuberance of Wilmarie & Die Lapa’s horses.

A last bit of exceptional.

Lunch is served.

As if this place also does not want to let go of us.

We talk about how life is never what we expect.

It is never painted in the easy on the eye pastels of cultural conformity.

It is energetic.

Filled with the opportunity to be creative.

To find ways.

Of making sense.

Of getting beyond.

We talk of the wonder of filling your life with the things you enjoy.

Making that your work.

I increasingly hope.

We talk of doing something in which you find meaning.

Something you value.

Doing it in every moment of every day.

For Jannie & Wilna & Die Lapa it is helping people to connect.

With themselves.

And each other.

And their creator.

Through playing.

Like children.

Then lunch is over.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager is loaded.

And as we make our way home I think about doing what we enjoy.

Making that your life.

I think about an immense experience.

Something beautiful I’ll cherish into whatever age I receive & into new life, again & again.

I think about hope.

Beyond fear.

Beyond being consumed by living for tomorrow.

Hope in this moment.

In living.

In being.

Together.

Becoming.

More.

In each other.

And this I ask.

For me.

For my Tribe.

For everyone we met in these few days.

And everyone who share our journey.

Which does not end.

In eternity.

For you.

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Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 9

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Just as the first light greeted us through our bedroom’s window, our children rushed into our room, filled with excitement.

We’re nearing the end of our ten-day explore of the Blue Crane Route.

It’s the perfect ending.

We’re at ‘Die Lapa‘, an adventure farm hidden in the mountains, just south of Somerset East.

It is beautiful.

A little village coming to life, far from the rush & noise of city life.

Wilna has hot coffee & warm breakfast ready.

Jannie, her husband was born on this land.

His grandfather walked in the river bed.

His father played amongst the trees & succulents.

What they do is share the amazing joy of farm life with anyone wiling to make the journey.

Since its inception schools & companies have come here to explore themselves as they explore nature.

I see a twinkle in Jannie’s eyes.

The games he played as a child & the ones he dreamt of, all of them are here to share & taste & experience.

His manner with our children speak of a gentle soul.

A soul hungry to heal & make whole.

The city-slickers from Gauteng are off to neighboring land where they’re developing a lodge.

What Jannie has created is not just another lodge.

It is a little bit of life in the heart of the Karoo.

Friends from Somerset East arrive.

Our number bolster.

We have teams to play paintball.

Jannie joins in.

Pippin & Theunsie fight like hardened soldiers.

We take the hits.

We give our share of hits.

We laugh exuberantly.

It fills the morning.

Over lunch we talk of the people who make their way to ‘Die Lapa’.

Beautiful people received by beautiful people.

Warm.

All of us discovering more as we push ourselves beyond our own limits – or what we thought was limits.

Pippin & Soffie & Theunsie, even Zuko, brave the high swing.

‘Hemelhoog’

Touching the blue Karoo heavens before swinging wildly through the sky.

Soffie overcomes a fear.

Theunsie & Pippin too, although they show a braver front.

As we do when we grow up.

Hiding our fear.

Keeping quiet about it, instead of being honest & facing it.

Talking about it without worrying what others would say.

If only we could do that.

Be honest.

In our relationships.

About who we are.

About what we fear.

About what we hope & dream & reach for.

I dream of a life filled with my Zuko & children.

Into eternity.

Filled with wonderful people who make me & us more, as we make them more.

Encouraging each other.

Filling cracks & crevices.

Healing even, as we see each other’s beauty.

And reflect it.

Jannie & Wilma’s children join us.

They’re little Wilmarie take Theunsie & Sophia & Wilhelmina horse-riding.

Later we do the obstacle course.

The weather changes.

Large cold drops splatter in the soft Karoo soil.

Jannie helps each child along.

Explaining the value of choosing adventure.

Of moving outside of your comfortable space.

‘It is good to ask for help’, he says.

‘Nothing wrong with that, but ask exactly what you need, so others may know exactly how to come alongside you.’

‘There is no shame in asking.’

‘No one makes it without the help of others.’

How did we become so independent?

How did we come to believe that if I did not make it on my own I did not make it with dignity?

What is ‘making it’, after all?

Is it obscene wealth?

So that you can splash & splurge & spend as if there is no end.

Or is it deep relationship?

Becoming?

Who you were created to be?

All along?

Is it really connecting?

That is something else which have been brewing below the surface the past few days.

So many men’s inability to be authentic & honest.

Always hiding behind a bravado.

Robbing their wives & children of a life in intimacy.

I’m glad to see Jannie embrace his Wilna.

It is real.

No show.

No show!

How do we get there?

To that place?

Perhaps a place like ‘Die Lapa‘ will help us along?

Perhaps stepping outside the comfort of city life & doing together, something which we’d never consider doing – perhaps that takes us to this new place.

Of honesty.

And along with that a new new-found bravery.

I think that is the gift of Jannie & Wilna with ‘Die Lapa’.

An opportunity to school boys & girls, to prefects & teachers, to families & friends & businesses, to get to that place.

It is a good place.

As we come into the village-hall at the centre of this little village, the warm fire is cooking supper.

The children head for the pool table.

The visitors from Gauteng are here as well.

Laughter is easy.

We talk.

Disagree.

Smile.

Laugh.

Zuko boldly explains our eccentric life.

Homeschooling at the little wooden house on the not so little hill.

Traveling the Eastern Cape.

It doesn’t sound like much in comparison to the lives of the rich & famous.

To us it is everything.

We connect for a moment, through the people.

We smile.

For it is good.

And we hope, as Jannie & Wilna share Jannie’s boy-hood experiences, we may also share the joy of family life.

Of raising children, not to ‘leave’ for distant worlds, but to keep on sharing.

As equals.

Collaborating.

Creating.

Alongside each other.

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Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 8

WIN! a weekend’s accommodation at Mountain View Inn, including a guided tour of the Walter Battiss Art Museum & The Somerset East Museum AND a private evening performance by renowned musician Gerrie van Wyk, the complete prize valued at more than R3500.

This is how:

(1) read this post

(2) Find out what artist Walter Battiss called his imaginary island.

(3) In the comments section on this post leave your answer to this question: ‘What did Walter Battiss call his imaginary Island-Republic?’

Entries close Monday 20/08/2012 at midnight.

Winner announced on Tuesday 21/08/2012 on Kingfisher FM‘s Big Breakfast.

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Breakfast at Mountain View Inn is a festive affair, much like supper was.

Dafre, the owner joins us.

Her pharmacy is right around the corner.

She came earlier to say good morning, attentive to all our needs & comfort.

Conversation is easy.

Warm.

Authentic.

Leaving Mountain View Inn is slow.

Unhurried.

After breakfast we pack our bags & load the Chrysler Grand Voyager.

We’re off to ‘Die Lapa‘ at Skietfontein, later today.

But first we’re going to visit Festah & her family at ‘Die Kaia‘.

We want to see what she has on offer in terms of accommodation & activities.

Beautiful bush tents.

A huge caravan & camping site.

On the river’s edge.

The little Fish River.

What we discover is a beautiful woman with a love of nature & a deep creativity, explored amidst many other things.

Festah shows us where the eagles nest.

And the ducks.

She talks of how ‘Die Kaia‘ developed into a popular picnic spot for locals.

Of the camping site & bush tents & how she hopes they’ll be enjoyed by city dwellers who desperately desire to get away from the city bustle.

A tasty biltong ‘potjie’ is lunch.

We walk along the river’s edge.

Earlier we visited the Walter Battis Art Museum.

We learnt of this eccentric artist’s imaginary ‘Fook Island’ & the children beg Festah for empty pages they could fill with Fook-writing.

They’re inspired by his eccentricity.

His ability to retain his childhood deep into old age.

I’m impressed by Geritwyn.

She’s been with the Somerset East Museum for 23 years.

She takes the children from room, explaining every little detail with care & excitement.

She shows Pippin her rose-leaf jam.

She takes me to the ‘Slachtersnek Exhibition’, explaining the history of failed ‘Afrikaner Rebelion’ against the English.

Of hanging.

Perceived Devine intervention.

Death.

How filled our history is with strife, disappointment & battle.

How immense our future could be if we were to learn from it, embracing & enabling each other.

We say our goodbyes to Festah & her Kaia.

Make our way through stunning farmland to ‘Die Lapa‘.

The Karoo is wet & green from uncommon winter rains, each little river crossing flowing slowly, taking life to natural life not known in many places.

It would be a pitty if Fracking takes this away from us.

As the Chrysler Grand Voyager bring us over a rise & we start a slow decline a brightly colored ‘Windpomp’ (wind operated water pump) greets us in the distance.

And then a village, hidden amongst the mountains.

Little wooden cottages scattered around the ‘town centre’.

A large shed with a massive fire-place.

Smoke reach for the sky from chimneys.

The muddy obstacle course, paintball field & horses beckon our children & fill them with excitement for the next day’s adventure.

We find our rooms.

And then the fire-place in the middle of this village’s ‘city hall’.

Jannie & Wilna talk of how ‘Die Lapa’ came to life.

A caravan under a tree.

A first wooden cottage.

A handful of hunters seeking respite from the relentlessness of life in winter fires & warm black coffee poured from a blackened pot boiling in orange flames.

There are other guests as well.

Hunters from Cape Town & the Swartland.

Visitors from Gauteng who love the Karoo & desire to create something they do not understand yet.

Supper is simple & exquisite all at the same time.

Jannie & Wilna’s love for this part of the world translated into meat & salad & potato dish.

The children laugh from the room next to ours.

I hear them talk of what they’ll do tomorrow.

Paintball.

Obstacle course.

Horse ridding.

The excitement is contagious & throughout the night my dreams are filled with us, our weird Tribe, doing stuff together.

It is in the doing together that we become.

In the experiencing.

In the tasting of life.

Together.

And then it is morning.

Day 9 of our ten-day trip exploring the Blue Crane Route.

Wow!

What an experience.

Categories: Blue Crane Tourism, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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