Friday, February 5, 2016

Paddling on the Sundays River

The Sundays River Valley and Addo is synonymous with the Addo Elephant National Park and have never really been a holiday destination unless you went to visit the Addo Park.  But this has all changed.  The Addo area is about so much more than just elephants these days.  It has actually developed into a holiday destination all on its own.  Addo and its elephants are still the big attraction, but the area around the park has also turned into an adventure and activity mecca.  Zip lining, ferry cruises, sand boarding, quad biking, horse riding and more.  One of the more, and one that should be on your to do list, is Crisscross Adventures' Addo River Safari.  Some time ago, and I'm sorry but I uploaded the photos and never did the post, I got to join a number of journalists on a media trip with Chris Pickles and his team down the Sundays River. 

We got picked up from our guesthouse and transferred to the starting point where we got giver the obligatory safety briefing.  Life jackets got dished out to those who didn't feel that comfortable on the water and we were paired up for our journey down the Sundays.  My paddling partner was worried about not having paddled before, but Chris reassured us all that paddling experience wasn't a prerequisite to go on the trip.  Turned out her was right, obviously, as stretches of flat calm pools were narrower channels with faster flowing water.  Never did we see water even hinting at a thought of turning white so this really is for everybody.  Our three hour gentle paddle down the Sundays River was one of beautiful scenery, sightings of birds, flowers, plants and even a water monitor dashing off into the reeds at our approach.

Two thirds along the way we stopped for refreshments and a walk up to a lookout spot over the surrounding valley with the river below while Chris showed us a couple of plants and told us some of the area's history.  From here we were back in the water for the last stretch down the river to the pickup point.

The river safari really is for anybody who enjoys the outdoors and is keen to do something new.  The canoes are like flight deck ships and won't capsize.  The only difference though is that these canoes are easier to control and handle than a ship loaded with war planes. Other than being splashed by you and your partner's paddles, you won't get wet, but the canoes do have water tight container for you to put your camera in if you want to take one. Photo opportunities there are lots.  Just a pity I was to slow to get my camera out for the water monitor.

Disclosure: I got to go on the Addo River Safari courtesy of Crisscross Adventures.  I received no further remuneration, wasn't asked to write a positive post and keep full editorial control.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Labyrinth is not a Maze

What is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth.  Although the two terms are basically synonymous, there is a difference.  In this case a maze refers to a complex branching multicursal puzzle with choices of path and direction, while a unicursal labyrinth has only a single path to the center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to the center and back and is not difficult to navigate.

The difference between the two meant the KidZ learned something during our summer holiday in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.  We drove to the town of Napier and I told them that we were going to make a stop to do a cache at a labyrinth.  They wanted to know what a labyrinth was and I told them it was like a maze.  That was where I made the mistake.  They had done the big maze at the Plett Puzzle Park before and in their minds there was going to be something similar.  When we got to The Red Windmill outside Napier and dashed off to go and find the maze only to be met by a "wall-less" labyrinth.  Oh the disappointment.  The ran off to the middle though following the path round and round, kinda defeating the purpose of this labyrinth being one of meditation and contemplation.  They had fun regardless.  While they were following the route to the middle I retrieved the cache from its hiding place and signed the log, adding another smiley to my Geocaching map. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pink piggy at the Red Windmill

A bit of exploring through the Overberg brought us to the Red Windmill farm stall and restaurant outside the town of Napier.  Next to the entrance we discovered this pink pig and how can one not want a photo with a pink pig?  We opted for a family photo for a change and as I had no tripod had to make do with a backpack on the ground

Friday, January 22, 2016

Danger Point not looking too dangerous

The Danger Point and the Danger Point Lighthouse near Gansbaai in the Overberg has a descriptive name very apt to how dangerous the coast here can really be.  It doesn't looks as dangerous though when you photograph it with little pink wildflowers in the foreground.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Scaredy-cat

After climbing the Danger Point Lighthouse outside Gansbaai in the Overberg in December, Drama Princess and I headed down the path towards the rocks to find a Geocache hidden nearby.  As we hit the trail down we encountered this sign.  Damn, those must be big spiders if there is a warning sign including them along with snakes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Discovering Danger Point Lighthouse

South Africa has some famous lighthouses. Cape Point, Green Point, Agulhas, Great Fish and Umhlanga just to name a few.  There are close to 50 lighthouse along the South African coast though and some often receive very little publicity because they are very much off the beaten track or just don't get visited as often as the well known ones.  During our camping holiday at Vloedbos in the Overberg we spent one day exploring the coast between Gansbaai and Agulhas and I got to visit the Danger Point Lighthouse just outside Gansbaai for the first time.
 
 
Bartolomeus Dias landed at what is now known as Danger Point on 16 May 1488.  He originally named it Ponte de Sao Brandao.  The name Danger Point comes from the dangerous reefs and rocks below the water which make it very dangerous for ships to sail close to the coast.
 
The most famous ship to be wrecked off Danger Point was the troopship HMS Birkenhead.  It was wrecked about 1,6 km from Danger Point in 1852, three years before the lighthouse was built, on a barely visible rock now named Birkenhead Rock.  The ship carried young Welsh and Scottish soldiers as well as their officers and families, on their way to Eastern Cape to fight the Xhosa.  The Birkenhead became famous as it became the first wreck where the captain called "women and children first".  All women and children were saved but most of the men perished.

The light was first activated on 1 January 1895.  The first light produced a beam of 45 000 candle.  Today's modern light has a strength of 1 700 000 candle at its peak flash intensity.  The lights is 45 meters above high water and can be seen from 25 sea miles out.

Out little lighthouse expedition was a lot less eventful although I did follow the women and children protocol to allow me to get some pics of the family shuffling up the exposed stairs. *smile*
 
You can see for miles from the top and it's clear why it is easy for a ship sailing close in shore to get into trouble here.


We fortunately didn't run into any trouble and avoided any collision with the rocks.  Unfortunately there weren't anybody else at the top of the lighthouse to take a family photo so here is one minus yours truly.  Once again just a little exploring took us to yet another new place.  It makes it hard to understand why some people never want to go anywhere and just sit in front of the tv or go walk around shopping centres.