Monthly Archives: September 2014

SA Leg 4: Kaapschehoop – Kruger National Park

In my mind our most famous and accessible wildlife/safari destination and at about 2 million hectars, certainly one of the biggest in Africa [1] to experience all of our “big wildlife” in their natural habitat, is the Kruger National Park. The biggest rest camp and park headquarters is at Skukuza, making it the most developed and luxurious; however, these criteria are not high on my priority list, especially in a nature reserve. For convenient access to the park we would enter the park at Skukuza, and proceed directly to Satara (do not pass Go, do not collect $100… kekeke… though really, you wouldn’t want to drive any faster than “sedately” inside the park, lest you miss baby babboons pointing at you with their genitalia); a couple of nights here and another couple at Crocodile Bridge would serve to both recall wonderful memories and create new ones.

At first I say “a couple of days” off-handedly, but further investigation shows that while it’s not that much more than I would have expected, the price I was looking at is for South African citizens… Whereas two Saffers would pay R1 115 to camp in Satara for 3 nights, my “foreign tourist” boyfriend and I camping together suddenly changes that number to R1 710. Though this jump was surprising to me at first, it doesn’t make it impossible or even inconceivable. Continue reading

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SA Leg 3: Waterval Boven – Kaapschehoop

Initially I had planned for Kaapschehoop to be a day trip from Watervalboven, but this does not allow enough time to enjoy everything this tiny town has to offer. Am I laughing? No, look at my face, I’m being absolutely serious.Β 
First-off there is a highly recommended “pannekoek huis” in residence… *Side note – pannekoek and pancakes as they are known all over the English speaking world, are miles apart! Pancakes are thick, fluffy cake-like stacks of syrupy indulgence. Pannekoek is much more creamy, crispy; less like bread and more like smooth, golden-brown mouthfuls of buttermilk & lemon. At once perfect with a spicy chicken curry filling, or dark chocolate and strawberries. Therefore the “best pannekoek huis in the area” (as Koek ‘n Pan restaurant is described) is truly a reason to smack your lips with warm anticipation!

Later, when you can support the weight of your belly again πŸ˜‰ you really should be off. However good a time you have over memorable breakfast / lunch, you can hardly spend all day dallying at a restaurant, and besides I’ll need to get off my behind and walk off the extra pannekoek (or two) that pushed me into that ‘uncomfortably stuffed’ direction.Β 
Kaapschehoop is home to South Africa’s only wild horse herds, though they’ve gotten less international attention than their counterparts in the Namib desert [1]. They were not always here! They were left here after the gold rush petered out, the Boer war left many ownerless, and cattle ranchers left for greener pastures [2].

There are tens, nay fifties (haha… nay, neigh…) of kilometers of trails from which to enjoy the natural scenery, wild horses and rare blue swallows [3]. Most trails are meant to be done over 2 – 5 days, with self-catering huts along the way. Sadly I didn’t get to do any multi-day hikes while traveling around the U.S., so this is my chance! I will opt out of day hikes and commit to 3 days on the trail.Β πŸ™‚

Riveting references
[1] Wild Horses of the Namib accessed 12 Sept 2014
[2] Wild Horses on Horseback trails accessed 12 Sept 2014
[3] Blue Swallows on Kaapsehoop Info accessed 9 Sept 2014

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Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan

Yes, please πŸ™‚ Morning sex is the best kind… Still kind of sleepy, a day full of potential ahead of you and you get it started in the most invigorating way. Though not exactly what you’ll find in Dr Christopher Ryan’s book, it will open up headspace for more and better liaisons πŸ˜‰

Sex at Dawn describes and investigates human sexual practices, habits and sexual culture since the dawn of man. Many people don’t even consider the carnal sides of our ancestors when they imagine prehistory, or the hunter-gatherer model; insodoing they never question their own assumptions about sex, what they & their fellow humans think/feel about sex and certainly not how it could have changed to become an altogether different animal today. This is partly due to the fact that people in ‘polite society’ aren’t supposed to talk about sex, and up until a scant few decades ago people weren’t supposed to enjoy it much either…

Chris Ryan &co doesn’t start challenging you from page 1, which is kind of chivalrous, I think. Like a gentleman courting a reluctant (clichΓ©) bride-to-be, he gradually coaxes and convinces you that there is a different possible journey in a person’s sexual life. One of more consistent satisfaction, less social confusion and stigma, and even more important: one that would enable more love and understanding in a relationship rather than betrayal and manipulation.Β  Continue reading

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SA Leg 2: Waterval Boven – God’s Window

God’s Window sounds like a typical pretty name, but you can only truly understand its significance when you’ve visited this wonder! You earn the view by parking at the bottom of a substantial hill and taking a short hike up to the viewing platform. The steps/path is well-maintained and the parking area is safe – the entry fee of R10 supports this infrastructure. Dude… when you get up there it’s spectacular! πŸ™‚ You are 1829m above sea level, looking out over the Blyde River Camyon, as if you’re in the Heavenly living room and the curtains have just been yanked open… And witness.
Apparently on a clear day you can see the Kruger National Park in the distance. There’s not much else I can say about it except: go there and see it for yourself. Take in its splendour and share it with the world.Β 

God’s Window is in the (take a deep breath) Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve. Along the same canyon is another natural beauty (which must be a well-kept secret, because I was joined in my ignorance of it, by everyone I asked about special little spots in SA). These are the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, but contrary to its name it is not just a glorified hole in the road, which are plentiful enough on our roads. They are holes and hollows in rock, made by the swirling and eddying of water. The first picture I saw of the “potholes” convinced me right away of having to behold these. You’ll have to drive to a different parking area to get to the potholes – even though it’s in the same canyon, it’s not walking distance. So you pay another R30, walk a mere 700m to view these extraordinary rock formations from various paths and bridges.

Bourke's Luck Potholes by BC Torrissen under Creative Commons license.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes by BC Torrissen under Creative Commons license.

The Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve is spitting distance from Watervalboven, provided you have a 10-foot spitting-champ-llama doing the honours ;). It’s a leisurely 240km to the Northeast, perfectly accessible as a day trip. I imagine us getting up early to do the walk up to God’s Window and whiling away some time on the viewing platform while the sun is out, before it gets too sunny. Bourke’s Luck Potholes are 30km from there, so really you can have an afternoon picnic with the closest man-made structures out of sight, hopefully with nature singing in your ears with grass beneath your bum. On the drive back we can even stop and explore a couple of smaller towns, (in some of which I remember finding awesome second-hand bookshops): Graskop, Sabie (where you can found countless other beautiful waterfall hikes!), Sodwala Caves. The afternoon can wind down as quietly or as busily as we choose… πŸ™‚

Boven - Motlatse Canyon

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SA Leg 1: Pretoria – Waterval Boven

This first stop has been prominent in photos and recommendations, especially from my brother and his fellow climbers (the photos are also theirs). Though Waterval Boven wears the badge of “climbers’ paradise” proudly, it’s more than that; there are many other exciting outdoor stuff you can do (caving at Sodwala, mountain biking, hiking and swimming in mountain pools)… and it’s only about 240km outside of Pretoria [1]. After seeing pictures, I would absolutely have to hike to the Eland’s River Falls! Well… um, it’s not actually much of a hike. Climbers can see the falls from different angles, but without the harnesses and climbing gear you’ll simply drive through the ZAZM tunnel on the N4, and there should be a wooden viewing platform to watch the 70m plunge of water. πŸ™‚

As a base camp Tranquilitas Adventure Farm is awesome, and besides being a home away from home for climbers (I hear), they organise a bunch of other activities you can do in the area. And… at R70 per night for a campsite, they’re the best bet for accommodation too. We would hopefully be camping a lot on our trip, starting with Tranquilitas! Waterval Boven is super close to a couple of oh-my-gosh-I-have-to-go-there! spots on my list, so we’ll camp here for a couple of nights and do day trips. Oh yeah, and they’re dog friendly. It doesn’t seem like there’s much else in the town of Waterval Boven (or Emgwenya, as it is now known), but I’m sure we can find something special there if we don’t rush through. When we’ve made the effort of driving away from the city, we would be absolutely content to simply enjoy the sounds of the night, and the smell of nature. The cute coffee shops and mouth-spasming gastronomics all have their special place later on this trip. πŸ™‚

Riveting references [1] Watervalboven, Highlands Meander Accessed on 6 September 2014 from SA Venues website

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