Bakkie Bokkie of the Klein Karoo 

So I headed out with some of my peeps yesterday to the #kleinkaroo,  also called the GROOT VOËL paradys ,aka Oudtshoorn, for a long cycle back to George. Having an injury I volunteered to be the “Bakkie Bokkie”, which is the back up vehicle on their cycle, but little did they know that my roadtripping skills are phenomenal,  or maybe they do… I think the smile on my face gave it away.  

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First Ostrich Boom


Oudtshoorn’s ostrich industry dates back to 1864. After becoming a fashion commodity for European nobility. Feather exports saw a sharp increase from the Cape Colony during the mid 1860’s , which is generally accepted as the launch of the industry in South Africa. Between 1875 and 1880, ostrich prices reached up to £1000 a pair. The value of ostrich feathers, per pound, equaled almost that of diamonds. Such was the worth of the white ostrich feather, that it was dubbed, “white gold “

Regardless,  put me in a car and tell me to head for the hills and a cheesy grin is stuck on this face for at least three days. I just love being out there on the backroads. “

Second Ostrich Boom

A second and bigger boom started after the war. It was during this period that “feather barons”, ostrich farmers who had become rich, built most of Oudtshoorn’s famously opulent “feather palaces”, their houses, most of them on the west bank of the Grobbelaars River. Ostrich feathers were outranked only by gold, diamonds and wool among South African exports before World War I. The market collapsed in 1914, according to The Chicago Tribune, as a result of “the start of World War I, overproduction and the popularity of open-topped cars, which made ostrich-feather hats impractical.” 80% of the ostrich farmers were bankrupted, and the ostriches were set loose or slaughtered for biltong. 
 

Followed by the historic passes through the Outeniqua hills and if you stand still and listen, you can perhaps catch the clanging of steel tools on rocks. 

Blood,  sweat and tears seeped into the ground of these forgotten dust tracks. Camera in hand I try and capture a few moments in time,  place myself in the footsteps of ghost and wonder what it must have been like back then. 

 One day I might be brave enough to face this unforgiving history on a bicycle too, but for now the comfort of a car is bliss.Thanks to Mark and Amanda Dixon from www.gardenroutetrail.co.za and Juan Botes and Janine Swart www.chaingangevents.co.za for tagging me along, I loved it.  #HowzitSouthAfrica

A Valley Of Pure Pleasure

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Day tripping to the small town of Riebeeck Kasteel and Riebeeck Wes, not so much for its wine but for its extensive history and incredble beauty. The bonus was the warm people that I met.

Riebeek-Kasteel is one of the oldest towns in South Africa, situated at 80 km north-east of Cape Town in The Riebeek Valley together with its sister town Riebeek West

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Named so in honour of their commander, Jan van Riebeeck, during 1661 by Pieter Cruythoff leading an inland discovery expedition. On the 3rd February 1661 they ascended a lonely mountain and came upon the fertile vista of the Riebeek Valley.

In the 19th century both Jan Smuts and Daniel Malan were born in the outskirts later both becoming prime ministers of the country.

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Having lived in a small town myself for the last couple of years it’s always great to listen to other people’s stories in small towns,  how they got to live there,  why did they leave the city?

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And what their life styles are all about now? Then of course you start looking around and you know why, here you can step outside and breath to escape

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The first stop is the Tourism information centre where as per normal you get the usual run down of a town. A great start I must say!  Well done Tourism,  what a lovely  girl you have there. 

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So I popped into a few shops and spots in town and chatted to the people who live here and make a day to day living in Riebeeck Kasteel. 

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A wine dealer called Anton that consults and returns every couple of years, a retired journalist Jacques Pauw and partner Sam Rogers who decide to start a ‘small’  B & B and Restaurant /Bar in a Grand Dame mansion now called the Red Tin Roof. 

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http://www.facebook.com/redtinroof

A  craft brewer,  Steve Miller who is the head honcho at Garagista and bides his time making happiness in a bottle to share with us, Cheers.

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http://www.facebook.com/GaragistaBeerCo/

And an Olive Boutique where Susan shared her story and love for olives with us, she processes these ancient fruits into tasty snacks,  mustards and smooth oils all fit  for the palettes of gods, and even has a range of body pampering products.

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http://www.facebook.com/riebeekoliveboutique/

Exploring some of the historical buildings and places of interst in the area I came across the Royal Hotel who has the longest stoep (veranda) South of the Limpopo and is the oldest and most colonial hotel of the Western Cape.

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http://www.royalinriebeek.com

My favourite place however was the Smuts house. Located on the outskirts of the town of Riebeeck West it show cases the humble begins of Jan Smuts in this tranquil setting among the trees.  A great visionary in his day, Smuts was a well connected man with a broad outlook on life. 

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The day came to an end way to soon and I left with the feeling that I need to discover some more…

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Take a trip to this fascinating delicious little town and indulge in its riches of culture,  food and beauty. 
Thank you for time Riebeeck Kasteel, you stole a piece of my heart.
The Travel Bug Rose
RiebeekValley
www.capewestcoast.org

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Whale Things

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" A Southern Right whale just having fun"

Whales, we talk about them, we sometimes spot then in the distance. For to many a land lubber, it’s just a huge beast far away on the horizon. Some of us watch them in awe as they play, roll, leap, splash in their many displays and some of us dream to know the beast better. 

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Humpback on the move

They are mysterious in their own right, for when they take to the oceans unknown to us, deep into the blue; we can only be left wondering.  Do they sing the same songs, do they respond differently to nature out there or do they stay the same?

But, when they are here and you get the opportunity to see them up close and you watch and learn, it becomes surreal.  These massive knobbly creatures that indulge in play, as if they are merely children and drops in the sea, can leave you giggling while watching.

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When they launch their enormous bodies into the air as if ballerinas on their début nights, they come across weightless.  Lifting their tails to wave goodbye in a speed that only a racing driver can understand, only to pop up unexpectedly next to you, baffles the mind I must say. And then they blow and sing sounds that you will never listen to on a radio, but out here on the ocean, it’s the most beautiful thing you’ll ever hear.

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Ocean Odyssey

They grunt and growl, deep rumbles, do they want to tell us something?  Sky-hop to take a better look, how curious they are….

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The distances they travel to breed, mate, and feed we will never travel in our lifetime and talk about eating politely, plankton, imagine how you must eat to feed that body. They add to the oceans health, part of the delicate balance that we live in. No one taught them how. They just knew. Imagine if we can learn to talk in song, to feed ourselves with only what we need and to not need more. They are huge but not greedy, they are huge and yet graceful… surely we can learn something from them.
#exploreknysna #whalewatching
Ocean Odyssey

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Flight of the Feathered

Once again I had the pleasure of watching these beautiful graceful rulers of the sky interact with man.

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Charlie the Spotted Eagle Owl

Radical Raptors a safe haven for birds that have been ,injured,  imprinted and tossed aside by either nature or man have stolen a special place in my heart , it might be my love for birds or my obsession with flight that draws me to it, but what ever it may be I always find something to be in awe about.

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The interaction with these amazing Raptors

The delight on children’s faces when they interact and learn, even adults are left smiling when they experience this educational session with Dennis and with out a doubt, his passion for his Raptors shows in every moment he spends with them.

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The power, speed and maneuverability of these birds in action

Thank you once again for letting me steal a moment in time with you and your birds.
Radical Raptors
#plettenbergbay #itsafeeling #howzitsouthafrica

I am an Athlete, the heart beat of Adventurer

There is nothing quite so intense than watching athletes in racing mode. You can actually see the cogs working in their heads and the intensity in their eyes. 

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Expedition Africa,  an Adventure Race, is currently taking place in Knysna in the Garden Route of South Africa.

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I had the privilege of catching glimpse of these men and women at work. This is guts, sweat and tears,  not to mention the calculating,  timing and eating that has to take place while they throw their bodies into the thrash hold of movement and endurance.

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The continuous change of environment and challenges while trying to be as tactful as possible in order to win a race.

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I can only say it leaves me in awe. 
I wish you all well
“Guts and glory lies within each mans strength to take on the ultimate”

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To follow this race go to:
Kinetic Gear – Expedition Africa

Video of Race day 1
Race Day 1 – Expedition Africa

The Plettenberg

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I was invited to one of the The Collection by Liz McGrath  on the Garden Route called The Plettenberg  Not being a huge fan of hotels as the natural Traveller in me prefers a back pack and a cabin in the woods,  or something like that. 

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At the onset its beautiful,  the decor is exquisite, the clean lines with  a touch of antique and rustic,  shaded in blues and greens that gives you that fresh crisp feel of a summers breeze at the ocean.

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The location is just perfect and over looks the Indian Ocean and the Plettenberg Bay Coastal landscape. 

But what made the experience so different was a few little details –

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The people,  I call it the “sacred attention”  factor.  The people are warm and friendly, from the receptionist,  to the General manager, to the cleaning lady that I chatted too. They smile and laugh and  it felt like home, a safe and cared for feeling.

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The location,  originally an old back packers and house that was converted in to a Boutique hotel.  A very smart move!  The view from here must be the best I have every seen in Plettenberg Bay.  It’s so well integrated into the coastline and offers more than a sea view,  it’s more like an Ocean experience. 

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The food,  my favourite subject and pass time.  I love the blend of smells and flavours,  to me food is a form of art and wow,  do they understand this concept,  every item served was just perfect. To round off the aromas we each had a glass of bubbly in hand, what more can I say.

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The Plettenberg is a unique blend of luxury,  hospitality and exquisite food with one of the best ocean views I have ever seen, it is definitely the perfect getaway for anyone international or national.

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Thank you for inviting me, what an amazing experience. 
@gotravelbug
PS : I am taking you up on one of those winter special. ..
The Plettenberg – Collection McGrath
ThePlettenberg – Facebook
LizMcGrathCollection – Facebook
@McGrathHotels

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A Fallen Flight

It was a day like any other day on the Garden Route…..Actually I lie there are no ordinary days in the Garden Route,  there are flyable days and non flyable days and then maybe some iffie days… I think I can fly days.

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I guess Friday was one of them. I walked onto the grass lawn in front of the hotel , stretched my arms out and felt the SW breeze full in my face, perfect  I thought. I trotted back to my car and fetch my packed Paraglider from the boot. The normal prep takes up to 10 min and once the glider was prepped I turned and faced the ocean again,  the wind felt lighter but still good, well I thought to myself if I don’t go up I can land on the beach, or that was the idea at least. I turned back to pull up the glider and it went up with ease, beautiful, I thought. I turned and faced the cliffs edge. Run … and I did.

What I didn’t take into consideration was the ligth air plus the fynbos,  I tried to air walk over it, but no luck, my left foot got stuck and the next thing I was swung to the left, now airborne and approaching a rock section to my left, quiet fast, as it pendulumed me out my left leg hit the side of the rock and immediately I could feel the crunch…. in a split second I knew my leg was broken.

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I fell back onto the fynbos that cushioned my fall , thank goodness, and the sensible clothing I was wearing was a bonus. I was now in agony and biting on my teeth as hard as I can, just breath, just breath, just breath…

Slowly my mind composed itself and the practical me kicked in. Ok, cell phone was in a pocket under me.. not good. Did someone see me fall? I check my position and my glider. I slowly unclipped it. Step one. Then a voice called out in a heavy German accent “are you ok?” “No” , I shouted back. “I am not ok. I have broken my leg.”  The next thing I saw a gentleman bashing through the bushes.. Thomas, a tourist,  he saw me fall and braved his way down the hill through the fynbos. He was light hearted and awesome at that particular moment. He raised the alarm and asked his family to call for help. He assisted getting my harness turned so that I could reach my cell phone.

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First  call was to my friend Judy, much like an older sister to me, as she always keeps me in check. Next call , Warren from NSRI , next paragliding mates… no answer. Ok done, Thomas the angel brought water and kept me laughing, for how ever long I was lying there, which I suspected was for about an hour.

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The next person to arrive on the scene was Rudi,  paramedic specialising in rescue. I had a chuckle when he thanked me for the level of difficulty I created for the rescue….I told him I was glad I could help out, I think. He worked fast and efficient,  the first doses of Morfine went through me like a racing snake, it hardly touch sides and the pain was now pretty unbearable. Yes Rudi, the pain was still a nine.  After stabilising me , checking all the vital signs and feeling a bit more relaxed the fire rescuers arrived. It was time to get me off the side of the cliff and out of my little fynbos nest which I was creating.
The next 10 mins was the most painful I have ever experienced in my life,  they had to straighten me and that ment moving me and my leg to a different position, I screamed like a baby, or maybe howling like  a lone wolf was a better description,  regardless, the blood curling screams were uttering my mouth. I swore to Hylton that if i ever saw him again I’ll strangle him with my own two hands,  but he was very good at ignoring my idle threats and focused at the task at hand.  Judy arrived and I heard her shouting “it’s going to be ok my friend”  tears running down my eyes and smiling at the same time. “Right lets get her on the board”- fear over took me again,  I still tried and joke my way out of this one,  it didn’t work,  next thing I was rolled onto the support board,  I screamed again…

Peter arrived,  a familiar face.  “Hello Pete,  please can I ask you to pack my glider,  etc etc instructions”  well at least my glider was safe.  Thomas has disappeared by now,  I presumed he has gone back up.

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“Good”  I thought,  he was getting sunburnt and there was only so much space at the edge of this Cliff..

Ok next step,  getting me and the board in the bag… Bag? Then I heard it,  the rotor blades of a chopper,  I don’t care in how much pain one is in,  if there is flying involved it means happiness in my life.  You’ll be air lifted by helicopter,  yippee… I know it sounds weird but hey,  flying is flying.

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Ok,  a little more settled and stable, I was bagged,  straps checked,  safety brief,  execution brief.. Done  and ready.  The most amazing sight a helicopter hovering over you to airlift you..  Click,  tied and up,  up up…
Wow,  a few bumps here and there and there I was,  high in the sky.  Not what I had planned for the day but alas..

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A quick movement foward and slowly being lowered onto the lawn in front of the Hotel,  and down.  Hands ,  ropes,  smiling faces,  uniforms,  what a collection of uniforms and faces.

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The first emotion besides pain I felt after that was relief,  seeing Judy,   tears started rolling down my face.  I felt safe…  Then I saw more familiar faces,  waving and smiling on my way to the ambulance.
The safety of the ambulance couldn’t get there quick enough,  Rudi diligently checked my vitals and kept me updated.  Eventually we started moving,  slowly taking on one bump at a time.

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We arrived at the Hospital’s Emergency Care and new hands and faces took over.  My daughter arrived,  more tears… Before you know it I was introduced to Dr Tim Reardon,  examed and zipped into X Rays. There it was,  a broken femur as suspected. I was on the Operating table at 8pm that evening. Later that night I was wheeled into my hospital room and the night nurses took over and gently made me comfortable.

What an experience,  what incredible people I have met,  I think back to this day and is left in awe. People are actually amazing,  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, in however small part you played in making my day more comfortable or bearable.  You are all angles in my life and will never be forgotten
Thank you
Rose Bilbrough
www.ams.org.za

Moonlight Meander – a night time wildlife safari in the Garden Route.

Moonlight Meander in Sedgefield
Inter coastal moonlight walks by Mark and Judy Dixon

Garden Route Trail

For many nature lovers a wilderness safari to South Africa would be incomplete without having been on at least one ‘night drive’ when visiting one of the many national parks and nature reserves in the country.

On such an outing, expected sightings can range from Aardvark, Aaardwolf, Porcupine, Honey Badger and Genet to Bush baby and leopard, all established nocturnal species associated with bushveld and thicket habitats.

By contrast, in the Garden Route there is little infrastructure or opportunity for a night drive, and indeed the nocturnal species are evasive and well hidden in the fynbos and Afro-montane Forest habitats making them near impossible to find or see.

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Fortunately for wildlife enthusiasts spending time in the Garden Route there is the Moonlight Meander, a guided night walk to explore the rock pools at Gericke’s Point near Sedgefield. Beginning at sunset, guests receive an introductory talk about the intertidal marine life…

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Shifting coastline – a geological constant

Always fascinating listening to Mark Dixon on a guided walk along this extraordinary piece of coastline. He really makes everything come to life, from the tiniest creature to the largest rock formations

http://www.gardenroutetrails.co.za
@CoastalWalk

Garden Route Trail

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The many moods of a beach. Undoubtedly, the remarkable reality is that irrespective of what action society, world leaders and concerned citizens take to address global warming, sea levels will continue to rise. As they have done in the geological past. Clinging to the ever shifting coastline is an amazing ecology of intertidal fauna and flora that have reproductive and feeding strategies which ensure that they always are able to inhabit this harsh, yet constant environment.

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A Bluesy Weekend

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I am in love with the Blues…
and it most likely started when I heard a long sob story being told in a song, added with a dash of tongue in cheek humour,  a tad of insult and a raspy voice, combined with the musical beat of guitar,  upright bass,  harmonica and the tinny clang of brass and it simply came together as a sound that fills my inside.

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Hooked I tell you,  it’s almost like going to church for the first time and wanting to shout hallelujah at the top of your voice.
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This is the feeling I get when listening to Riaan Smit from Crimson House.  He rips into my soul with pure raw emotion, and this while he carries over his passion in a jumble of notes and an ensemble of beats, all while he caresses his harmonica and brings forth the sweet bluesy tune of something your mind doesn’t understand, but your soul does.  Man, I tell you,  passion like this is hard to find in music these days.

So if this guy crosses your path,  step inside his world, you won’t regret it, it lingers like a first time kiss and leaves you excited everytime you think about it….
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Its definitely been a bluesy kinda weekend….
CrimsonHouse on Facebook
www.crimsonhouse.co.za
@Redeye_Riaan @crimson_house