Wake Magazine Volume 17: Issue 5
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22 Apr 2013 Leave a Comment
in Published Writing Tags: Adventure, Africa, Blue Rock Cable Park, Byerly Wakeboards, Hyperlite, Liquid Force, outdoors, Published Article, South Africa, Stoke City Cable Park, Wakeboard, Wakeskate, Warm Baths Cable Park
08 Dec 2012 Leave a Comment
On the corner of Juta St, downtown Johannesburg, smoke wafts out of concrete pillars of the first floor car park. A few metres up the side street and people pour in and out of an alley way, laughing, chatting excitedly while slurping on exotic coloured fruit juices. We follow the stream of people up into the first level of the car park to discover the Neighbourgoods Market. An entire level of food. African, Australian, Italian, seafood, wine, cakes, breads, juices, beers, frozen margarita’s, and more.
Salivating over the food on offer, we head upstairs to the second level and out into the sun. Tables, surrounded by people enjoying the Saturday sunshine, good food and a few cold brews, crowd the concrete platform. Undercover and a bar, more tables, and clothes stalls fill up the space.
It’s the place to be on a Saturday. So I know where I’m going to be next Saturday for lunch…
25 Aug 2012 3 Comments
South Africa usually invokes images of sweeping savannah bushveld, the ‘Big 5’, or on a political front, Nelson Mandela. But, South Africa is a country made up of much more than the wild life or violent past of apartheid. It’s a landscape steeped in history that is entwined with the spectacular views. The Panorama Route, nestled in the North East of the country, is a 285 km drive starting from the Western side of Kruger National Park, near the Orpen Gate and ending in the town of Sabie. It’s a drive that showcases dramatic scenery. From colourful mineral rich mountains, to waterfalls plunging from pool to pool, and valleys developed from the shifting fault lines over time, pushing the land higher into the sky.
Taking a tourist drive anywhere in Africa has never been high on my to-do list. African roads are generally appalling, nothing more than oversized sidewalks scattered with crater-like potholes. The South African government, along with the local communities on the route, have injected money into maintaining the roads, as well as facilities and services in a bid to entice local and international travellers to their stunning part of the world.
Standing on the edge of the rock plateau, I look out over the sweeping vista of the Blyde River Canyon and Three Rondavels (named for their resemblance to the traditional South African thatched roof hut). I can’t help but pause and wonder at the beauty before me, hidden so thoroughly from sight on the winding drive up through the range only moments ago.
Following on from the Blyde River Canyon, is the tourist stop of Bourke’s Luck Potholes. And there are a lot of tourists, with an information centre on the history of the area, monkeys running through the Braai (BBQ) and picnic area, and local handicraft stalls. The stallholders are friendly and happy to barter over prices of carved wooden or stone animals, beaded jewellery, fabrics, and prints.
There is one more stop to make, before my growling stomach announces it’s time to head to Graskop for a feed. Another panoramic view from the Wander View free lookout spot, or God’s Window, around the corner, with a tourist fee to enter. Both provide spectacular views across the ranges, perfect for posing in front of the camera for that, “I’m on top of the world” kind of photo.
Graskop is a bustling little town made for tourism. I’m thinking with my stomach though. So it’s straight to Harrie’s Pancakes, an institution in South Africa. In peak season, you have to ring and book a table in advance, due to the residents of Johannesburg escaping the city on a weekend getaway, and all going to Harrie’s to eat.
I’ve ordered the banana and cinnamon filled pancake with ice cream. Next door, is Chocolate, Shautany Chocolatiers, a decadent indulgence for my sweet tooth and an entrée to my pancake main. I test out the Macadamia covered Belgian chocolates, tempted by the nuts grown locally alongside the Panorama Route in the multitude of orchards. My pancake arrives, ice cream oozing onto the plate, and for a moment I can’t decide which is better: The food or the scenery I’ve driven through so far?
The Panorama Route well and truly lived up to its name.
11 Aug 2012 Leave a Comment
in Published Writing Tags: Adventure, Africa, Australia, Beach, Bikinis, Body Art, Durban, durban south africa, friends, inonit magazine, Liquid Force, Skateboarding, South Africa, Spearfishing, Wakeboard, Wakeskate
It’s here!! The first mini issue has arrived of Inonit Magazine, packed with features, stories and some awesome photographs of people out and about getting in on it.
Click here to go to the online Magazine link. Download for better reading.
Also check out the Inonit Mag website for a little taste of Durban, South Africa
03 Jul 2012 2 Comments
Most people head to Africa to see the Big 5: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino. Of course I’d like to see these animals too, but driving around Kruger National Park I think I was lucky to discover a new Big 5 in animal world attractions.
From mating on street corners to manipulating their jaw to stick their tongue in unreachable places. Giraffe have made it to the top of my Big 5 safari experience.
While these are part of the original Big 5, I love them for a whole different reason. My Big 5 list is not made up with the five hardest animals to kill, but with the five quirkiest animals I came across in Kruger.
3. Dwarf Mongoose
These tiny little critters make their homes inside disused ant hills. They like to play chicken with passing cars, running out in front of you and moving just as you slam on the brakes and playing hide-n-seek while trying to take photos.
The herd stayed hidden behind the bushes until the first Zebra made its way out into the clearing. Slowly they all followed. After a few metres the first Zebra turned around… the herd followed. It was very cute.
Baboons are a favourite for sentimental reasons. Two years ago walking through Teman Negara in Malaysia my travel friend blamed the noises coming from his body on the Baboons. Never mind Malaysia doesn’t have Baboons. Every time I visit Africa I now look out for Baboons and smile remembering my dear friend.
01 Jul 2012 Leave a Comment
Published on Bucket List Publications
The most famous township in the world lies hidden from Johannesburg’s view behind two big lumps of dirt the locals call ‘blinders’. But no amount of dirt can block the influence and impact Soweto has had on the world and the folk at Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers are proud to share Soweto and its history with everyone. On a sunny winters day I set out on a two-hour Soweto bicycle tour to see inside the only suburb to ever produce two Nobel Prize recipients.
Soweto is not a slum. It’s a planned township with designated housing lots: a family quarter; single male quarter (from the mining days); a suburb the government put tight restrictions on to ensure it never turned into a slum. Turning off the highway into Soweto, my stomach started backflipping as we drove through the streets and everyone stared at two whities in our little i10. After all the warnings I received from friends and family about being careful not to be shot in South Africa, I momentarily worried that maybe I’d gotten in over my head. But ignorance breeds fear and I was quickly shown that the people of Soweto were just like people in any other neighbourhood, in fact they were welcoming and friendly, which is more than some neighbourhoods at home are.
With a group of 22 on the bike tour from Australia, UK and locals from Johannesburg who have never been to Soweto, we set off on our cruiser bikes through West Orlando. NK our guide provided information and entertainment along the way. Singing of the Solomon Linda classic song “Mbube” or as it’s more popularly known “The lion sleeps tonight”, drawing Sotwetan locals and the even police to join in clapping along. From West Orlando we crossed the highway into the old men’s quarters to taste the local delicacies.
Joburg beer followed by a non-alcoholic hangover prevention drink, more singing, some cow cheek or tongue dipped in salt and paprika eaten with pap (smooth maize meal dish) and all washed down with Black Label beer. The local elders sitting in the Shebeen (an illicit bar) drinking beer and playing dice games, were keen to chat and have photos taken. Not completely sure of the meat on offer, I dipped a piece of cow cheek into the salt and paprika. It’s one of the things you have to do when traveling, suck it up and try the local delicacies. To my surprise it wasn’t that bad, tasting like normal meat. It wasn’t eye fillet of course, but it wasn’t vomit worthy either.
Leaving the food tasting my bicycle chain popped off, while NK worked of repairing my bike, I got the opportunity to meet some of the local kids. They quickly closed in keen to touch my hand and see that my skin really was white. We then shared hi-5′s and local handshakes that involve fist pounding and thumb flicking. There were lots of requests to “shoot me” (take a photo) and giggles as they saw them selves posing on my camera display screen. The rest of the bike ride children ran out from front yards to say hi and give hi-5′s. The barrier between white and black, rich and poor forgotten. Instead I was enjoying cruising along on my bicycle, my fears gone, replaced by an enjoyment at getting to meet the locals of the Soweto township (even if only briefly).
The last stop on the tour was the street where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived in Soweto. Overlooking the water cooling towers now painted brightly to express the hardships, successes, lives and dreams of the Soweto township residents. And the tour left me with a sense of hope, which is exactly what it provides for the locals too. The tour provides employment, integration with the community and a way to break down the walls of ignorance and fear. Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers setting an example in the community of creating something positive. They don’t have the newest equipment and they acknowledge this at the beginning of the tour, but it didn’t matter, because I had a ball getting an insight into the most famous township in the world.
*Independent review of Soweto Bicycle Tour
02 Jun 2012 2 Comments
One week out from arriving in Africa, I’m sitting here eating my hot porridge breakfast, contemplating which camera equipment pieces I will need and whether I have enough warm clothes packed. Then an article by Matt Wade in the Sydney Morning Herald pops up in my inbox and I’m left feeling rather stupid.
The poorest place on Earth travels to Niger, which on the UN’s Human Development Index ranks at 186 of 187, and it reminds me of where it is I am about to travel to and why. Over the course of six weeks I’ll spend time in South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and possibly one or two other countries volunteering at Home of Hope once again in Malawi and then learning more about aid organisations and the work they do in the other countries. That line of thought about which pieces of camera equipment to pack now seems so trivial. But it is so easy to slip into a first world problem kind of mentality when you are not surrounded by the harsh realities of life each and every day.
My biggest problem in recent weeks has been the stress of finishing assignments. I am in fact fortunate to get to go to university. More so because this is not my first attempt. I’ve had the luxury to fail and go back and try again and again until I figure out what I’m doing with my self. When I was living at Home of Hope last time (2010) I remember the students in the secondary school talking about what they would like to be when they finish school. They had dreams, but most of them all finished off their comments with “but I don’t have the money to go to college.” Harsh reality of life. What happens to the children, adults, families living in complete poverty when the aid runs out? Once the children leave Home of Hope they are back to living below the poverty line and making their way in the world. The children in Niger suffering from extreme malnutrition are treated until their condition improves and they are stabilised, with many returning months later for further treatment in makeshift hospitals.
Now that I’ve rained all over your lovely Sunday morning with tales of despair you’ll all go searching for World Vision or some other charity website to start donating immediately. That’s not the train of thought I’d intended to provoke. Merely, to provoke us all to stop and think. Next time something causes stress, frustration or anger, stop and think is it really worth the effort? In the scheme of things is it really so bad? The answer, well that for each of us to decide.
28 Apr 2012 Leave a Comment
Going to Africa is one of the most incredible experiences anyone can ever have. The diversity of culture, wildlife and the varied landscapes from open savannah plains to ocean waves crashing against rocky cliff walls, Africa has it all covered. But travelling in Africa requires a little extra consideration and planning to most vacations or travel spots. Here are my tips for before you head into the wilds of Africa.
1. Vaccinations and Medical Supplies
As with travelling to any developing country, it is crucial to speak with your doctor a good 6-8 weeks before heading off ,so that you can get the necessary vaccinations and refills for any prescription medication you take. If you are prone to specific sicknesses (e.g. I regularly get throat infections/illnesses) take a standard course of the antibiotics you would normally treat this with at home. there is nothing worse than going away on holidays and getting sick (generally after your long haul flight). The medications might not be the same as what you would take at home, you could be out in the middle of no where, or language might be a barrier in getting the treatment needed. If you carry a course of antibiotics you will be able to start treating the illness immediately and get on with enjoying your travels sooner. The key though is to always speak to your doctor first and follow their advice for travelling to Africa.
Other medical supplies I don’t go travelling with out:
- Paw Paw Ointment (natural ointment good for burns, cuts, bites, rashes, chapped skin)
- Iodine Ointment (good for reactions to bites, infected cuts, scratches, splinters)
- Bandaids (good for covering blisters and small cuts)
- Sunscreen, Insect Repellent and Hand Sanitiser Gel
2. Travel Insurance
Read the fine print of your travel insurance! Some policies won’t cover you if you become sick or contract Malaria, if you are taking the weekly dosage Malaria medications. There can also be certain activities, such as motorbike riding or adventure activities, that may not be covered under basic policies. If you are unsure of your travel plans in Africa before leaving, it may be safer to pay the little bit extra for a comprehensive policy, to ensure you are not having to pass up on great experiences once there, simply because your travel insurance won’t cover it.
Also, read the details relating to broken or stolen items (this particularly applies to camera equipment). Some insurance policies will only pay out for stolen items if you have a police report to support your claim.
The main thing with travel insurance is to just spend the time reading all the details, to ensure you know what you are covered for and won’t be in for a nasty surprise later if something unfortunately goes wrong.
3. Advice on where to go and what to do
There are many places you can go to for information on where and what to do while in Africa. Don’t start at the travel agent straight away. Spend some time trawling the wealth of information, reviews and advice on the internet. Travel blogs, Lonely Planet website, or advice and review websites such as Trip Advisor are a great place to start. Then combine this with information from different travel agents, to ensure you find the right style of trip for you. Travel Agents are great help with visas. Getting a visa on short notice in some countries can be very hard to do. I’ve made the mistake before and subsequently missed a whole section of my trip, as I wasn’t allowed to board my flight to Nigeria because I didn’t have a visa.
In Morocco, woman should dress covering their shoulders and down past their knees. In parts of Malawi, woman wear skirts and men must wear trousers that at least cover the knee. Often, it is easier to pick up the right type of clothing from a local market at a far cheaper cost than what you would pay at home. When packing clothes, plan on taking basics for the season you will be travelling in, specific items that help you dress respectfully and culturally appropriate can be bought in country. This way you carrying less in your bags and supporting local businesses with your purchases.
5. Have an open mind
A lot of places in Africa are poor. It is a developing nation after all. Keep an open mind to the places you see, people you meet and try not to put expectations of how things should be compared to what they are like at home. This will very quickly ruin your experience. Most places run on African time and I’m not talking G.M.T, I mean if someone says a time to you, don’t be upset if they turn up four hours later. It happens in business and in every facet of African life. There is no rush.
If you plan on visiting/volunteering at an orphanage in Africa, keep in mind that the conditions you witness, while may not meet your ideas of what an orphanage should look like or be, far exceed the conditions the children would otherwise live in. Many orphans would have previously lived on the street, or in a tiny mud brick hut, that leaked every time it rained and shared a small blanket on the floor with several other siblings. At the orphanage, they receive shelter, three meals a day, clothing, basic medical care and an education. All things they might otherwise go without.
07 Mar 2012 Leave a Comment
in 365 Day Challenge, Travel Tags: 365 day challenge, Adventure, Backpacking, Cape Town, Creative non-fiction writing, Haut Bay, Kalk Bay, Life, Muizenburg Beach, Octopus's Garden, Robben Island, South Africa, Travel
When travel plans don’t go to plan, what do you do? Fall in a heap crying with your bags on the airport floor, storm out of the airport and find a hotel to hide out in until your next flight, or change your plans completely…
This was the predicament I found myself in at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. I arrived at six in the morning, then slept on the tiles for six hours, until check in for my flight to Nigeria to opened, only to be told by the lovely woman behind the counter that I didn’t have a visa and would be unable to get on my flight. I was tired, I wanted to visit my dad and I promptly fell apart crying at the counter. The woman informed me that I could get a visa from Pretoria (an hour away from Johannesburg), but the thought of this scared me even more as I had not planned to stay in South Africa and was scared shitless about travelling anywhere within the country. Anywhere except Cape Town. My friend Kitty I had met in Peru the year before had arrived home from her own overseas adventure two days previously, so I would go to her restaurant and see if I could stay with her for a few days until I worked out a plan of what to do next.
A new plane ticket was booked and a few hours later I arrived at The Octopus’ Garden in St James, Cape Town. I was introduced to everyone in the restaurant and caught up quickly, before being whisked off to Kitty’s place where I passed out before my body had even laid down on the bed.
Phone calls to embassies and travel centres revealed that I was not going to be able to get a Nigerian visa in time to make my visit to my dad. Therefore Kitty and I were now free to explore Cape Town together. I walked along the coast line most days up to Muizenburg beach to watch the surfers or down to Kalk Bay to see the seals. We caught the ferry out to Robben Island and went on the tour to see where Nelson Mandela had been incarcerated for 18 years.
It was very surreal, seeing real pieces of history on display, through things that the prisoners made for themselves and reading their stories attached to the prison cell walls. We went to see the Penguins at Boulders Beach, a favourite place for the locals to spend time sunbaking on warm summer days. We went searching for Baboons at Cape Point and finding none, enjoyed the spectacular views instead. My last day in Cape Town was filled with visiting a bunch of local favourite hang out spots, plus a gondola ride up to Table Mountain. Kitty and I enjoyed lunch with all the beautiful people at Camps Bay, watched the surfers at Llundudno Beach, before driving along the coast line of Haut Bay and Chapman’s Peak drive. Cape Town’s coast line is a heaving mass of sea
battering giant cliff faces and rust coloured boulders, creating a raw energy that buzzes in the howling winds sweeping up from the south and breaking across the town. It was a spectacular drive and a great place to get photos of the natural beauty that is Cape Town.
After seeing as many sights as I could cram in, I was heading off on Safari in Kruger National Park the next day. The initial panic at my travel plans changing, had subsided as I began to enjoy all that Cape Town had to offer. The stories of safety in South Africa had left my mind, as it was the same with travelling in any foreign country, be sensible and you will stay safe. It really is a beautiful part of the world. I would love to go back in Summer to travel along the coast up to Durban, try my hand at surfing and photographing more of the amazing coast line.
02 Mar 2012 Leave a Comment
The big five. Everyone wants to see them when they visit Africa. I’d been fortunate enough to come across a family in Cape Town who had overheard me researching where to go on Safari as my next move in my travels. Fortunate, as their son (who they were visiting from England), worked as a Safari guide at one of the lodges in Kruger National Park. I could go and stay for half price, since during this five minute exchange I had become part of the family, so therefore was entitled to a family discount. This all suited perfectly and two days later I was boarding a plane with Mark to fly to Mpumalanga Kruger National Airport.
Kruger National Park is long narrow corridor of protected land, to protect the animal habitants found within it’s boarders. After arriving and discovering that I was the only guest at the lodge, I sat on the deck to watch a lone hippo in the nearby dam start playing as the sun set over the bushveld. Ah the serenity!
Early the next morning I rugged up against the cool May pre-dawn chill that hung in the air. Meeting Mark or Chewy, as he was known to all at the lodge, we set out for a full day safari through Kruger. Driving through the park as the sun quickly rose in the sky, Chewy asked me what animals I would most like to see while visiting. He listed out the big five (African elephant, rhino, lion, cape buffalo and leopard), along with two other rarer finds (cheetah and wild dogs) that make up the most popular seven animals to see on Safari. I didn’t mind what animals I saw. I was pretty excited just to be there and which ever animals wanted to show them selves I was happy with… a part from Baboons. I had to see a baboon. Chewy was a bit surprised by my answer, mostly because baboons were everywhere in South Africa. Had I not seen any in Cape Town, he asked. Not one. Which was where my urgency to see a baboon had come from. Everyone had told me that I would see them running up the streets of Cape Town and if I went out Cape Point that there would be hundreds of them. Nope. I had not seen a single baboon. They were avoiding me and they were the only must see on my list, because I hadn’t seen one yet.
After a slow wake up by the animals, we struck gold from both a tourist and safari ranges point of view. We came across a pack of Wild Dogs and ten minutes down the road three Cheetah, just strolling through the open bush land not far from the road. I got to see Giraffes, Rhinos, Elephants, Zebra and a Crocodile. We came across a huge herd of Cape Buffaloes crossing the road, Impalas grazing, Water buck and Steembok, Warthogs, Hippos, Wildebeest and Dwarf Mongoose’s that would dart out in front of the truck, scaring us that we’d run them over. And then just as we were starting the drive back towards camp we came across a whole group of Baboons. There were babies riding on their mothers backs and juvenile (teenage) baboons chasing each other, the males puffing out their chests and showing off their teeth. The older males of the group lazily walked by on the side of the road, tails swinging languidly as they conserved energy in the heat that now radiated across the bush.
I had seen my big ticket animal now at Kruger and was thoroughly satisfied, since in one safari I had seen so many other animals up close. I still had a half day morning safari and a sunset safari to go!! We found Lions early on in the half day safari as well as more Elephants, Zebra, Buffaloes, Vultures and Impala. Then on the sunset safari we came across a one year old baby hippo playing in the water with it’s mum. After watching the sun set from the top of a rocky outcrop, we headed back to camp. I held the spotlight and Chewy drove us slowly along the track. A greyish lump was on the road up ahead and we slowed even more to allow it to move. Unsure of what animal we’d stumbled across, until it turned around in the spotlight, eyes glittering and yawned. We’d found the pride from our safari the day before, except only three of the four females and the cub were sitting by the side of the road resting. Another female and the two males were missing. The car stopped and we turned off the ignition for a moment to allow the lions to continue chilling out, all the while shining the spotlight around for the other lions. The adrenalin runs hardcore when you are sitting in the dark, knowing that you are just a speck of nothingness in the Lions kingdom. There is a great deal of respect, awe and plain feeling shit scared that courses through you during those moments. It felt like hours, but after five minutes, Chewy turned the truck back on and we drove back to camp.
Not only had I seen six out of the top seven on safari, I’d also crossed Baboons off my list and finished my visit to Kruger with a close encounter with the Kings of the African animals. Stoked didn’t even come close to describing how incredible I felt after such an amazing experience.